Sunday, 27 December 2015

Green Christmas

This is what I look like I think. Yes, I had to get sick for Christmas. I'm forcing myself to eat and at least that is staying down - something that wasn't happening before. I also slept fairly well last night, but am still moving slowly. Needless to say, I missed Christmas dinner at my friends'. I missed the turkey and my friend's delicious mashed potatoes. I have to say she makes the most delicious mashed potatoes.

Other than being ill, I had a quiet Christmas. So far, I've received two lovely gifts - a necklace and some more artwork from my artist friend. This time it was a sun angel. Do you know about sun angels? I'd never heard of them. He says not to expose the picture to direct sunlight, because it will disappear. Today he sent me an e-mail saying that the technique he uses to make such pictures uses solar energy and only he knows how to use it; it's a secret he says. Now he's going to make me more pictures. I think my house is going to turn into an art gallery.

I hope everyone had a good Christmas, and hope I have better news next week. Enjoy your new week.

Sunday, 20 December 2015

Family Rules

Today my post is going to be extra short. I'm still making Christmas goodies, so have to get back to them. These family rules are what my sister-in-law posted on facebook, and I think they're perfect for our Christmas get togethers and every day. Hope you all enjoy your time time with family and friends this Christmas. Stay safe if you're travelling.

Sunday, 13 December 2015


In my last post I said that in the end I'd have to go to the centre and face the crowds. I also mentioned that our favourite Mexican restaurant's closure was the reason. Well, surprise, surprise! We didn't run into any big crowds as we took the nearest underground station on our line to the restaurant. We were even able to get a seat there and back. The only disappointing thing was the food was a bit cold and the arroz con pollo wasn't up to standard.

I, being the social secretary that I am, made the reservations and sent a whatsapp message on our group page and called the one friend who refuses to be on whatsapp. I saw that everybody answered except Chris. On Tuesday morning I saw that she still hadn't answered. When it got to be what I considered to be late, I started calling her mobile only to get the message that it was turned off or had no service. Then I left a message on her home phone. In the end I left to join Cathy in the underground all the time worried that something had happened to Chris or someone in the family. When we were near the restaurant, I made one last attempt at getting in contact with her. This time she picked up saying she'd had her phone charging and was running late. I know Chris by now to know that she's always late, but she could have phoned or left a message. Pretty inconsiderate of her, especially since I was worried. 

On to a sweeter subject. This is what I've spent considerable time doing at the weekend.
I've been making buckeyes since my sister Diana introduced us to them years ago. Today I will have made and packaged 5 batches or 14 buckeyes per package. I've already made and gifted some Mexican wedding cookies - another treat I make at Christmas.

Yesterday one of my ex-neighbours in Kentucky posted on facebook that they were mowing the grass on 12 December, and today one of my cousins posted some photos of their family Christmas get together of them outside jumping rope. It's not quite as warm here. As a matter of fact, I laugh when I see it's warmer in Paris or London or sometimes in Helsinki than in Madrid. So far we've got almost no snow in the mountains, and we sure could use some rain. It's supposed to rain a bit tomorrow. Let's hope it does.

Since I've been busy today, and I have more things that need doing I'll leave you with a have a good week. 

Sunday, 6 December 2015

When a Bridge Isn't Just a Bridge

Language has always fascinated me ever since I started speaking at the age of one.  Probably my favourite way of expressing language is through Spanglish. Some ideas are just easier and quicker in Spanglish. For example, which is easier to say 'cinnamon' or 'canela'? They both have the same number of syllables, but I prefer canela. The same goes for a long weekend. In Spanish, a long weekend is a 'puente' or 'bridge' in English. Today is the official day of the Constitution and Tuesday is the holiday of the Immaculate Conception giving some lucky people a long weekend or puente.
Years ago before this physical bridge was built if we wanted to get to either side of this road on foot, we had to go through some winding dark and not very safe tunnels under the road. I always opted for public transport even if it was for one stop, or took a long way round. I have no idea when this photo was taken since it's almost impossible to see this important and busy road so empty. At least now when I want to cross to the other side, I don't have to go out of my way to get to where I'm going, and the bridge has a roof over it for protection against the weather.

In a previous post, I stated that I didn't want to go to the centre for Christmas lunch. Now it looks like I'll have to give in and go. Hopefully where I'm going there won't be too many people. Our favourite Mexican restaurant, and one that I've gone to since living in Spain, is closing. Chris has sent a message on whatsapp for our group to go before the restaurant is permanently closed. So far, no one has answered, and I, the social secretary, need to know for the reservation. I'm thinking most must be out of Madrid.

December this year will have an extra attraction: general elections on the 20th. The official start of the campaigns was the other day. I'll try to avoid as much information about the elections as possible.

There are some things I need to get done, so I'm going to say have a good week to everyone. Before I do, I see at least one post I can read and enjoy. 


Sunday, 29 November 2015

Liar, Liar

Forget everything that I said about Black Friday last week. Spain, at least Madrid, has embraced Black Friday, which is called Black Friday and not Viernes Negro, as their own for pre-Christmas sales. I was in a commercial area not far from where I live yesterday, and everywhere I looked I saw crowds of people and signs for Black Friday. Yes, I know yesterday was Saturday. Black Friday here is celebrated on Friday, Saturday and Sunday and then turns into Cyber Monday.

Yesterday I went to a Christmas fair hosted by the group I used to be a member of - the Madrid Handcrafters. I've decided this year that my little wooden Christmas tree is getting some white decorations, so I bought an angel for it. I also bought a few stocking stuffers and a beautiful silk scarf. Today I went to another fair in a private house round the corner and got some little Christmas decorations that look like snowflakes. I've just come back from there.

I haven't been to the centre to see the Christmas lights, but one of my friends went on Friday night with her family. She said there were police everywhere even policemen wearing ski masks. I wasn't planning on attending the Christmas lunch that has become a tradition anyway. There are just too many people in the centre making it impossible to enjoy the sights. Last Christmas my friend Chris and I ended up walking all the way home.

I'm going to finish with a couple of photos of some of the presents I got for my birthday. First my favourite chocolate in the whole world - Belgian chocolate and this box has some of the best I've tried.
I also got a little bag of chocolates that look exactly like olives - green and black ones. I posted a photo of some of them on facebook, and some people thought they were really olives. My other sweet treat was oatmeal and raisin cookies; other non-sweet treats were two scarves and two necklaces, so you see I had a good day and the moussaka was the best I'd had in a long time.

Here is another of my presents filled with small bottles of toiletries.
And here is the other side of the bag. I don't know which side I prefer. I just know I like the bag, because it's so different. Which side do you prefer?
I had a lot to do this morning and then was out this afternoon, and now I'm going to leave you with the hope that everyone who celebrated Thanksgiving enjoyed it and that we all have a good new week.

Sunday, 22 November 2015

No Thanksgiving Dinner Nor Black Friday

I was a bit confused earlier, because I got a birthday greeting from a longtime friend on facebook. Then I suppose another friend saw her greeting and wished me a wonderful day. I checked that I wasn't living the wrong day. Nope! My birthday is tomorrow, but I don't mind being wished a happy birthday on the wrong day just as long as I have the date straight.

In lieu of Thanksgiving, I'll be celebrating my birthday on that day with friends. Years ago we did, and I miss those days even if we celebrated on Saturdays. We continued celebrating them until we had a big argument about guests. In the beginning our Thanksgivings were a girls' only fiesta, but a couple of the girls wanted to invite their boyfriends. Those of us who made all the preparations (everything was from scratch) said no, because we had done all the work and it was for us to enjoy. The result was, as you can imagine, a drastic drop in the number attending. However, we made it and we ate it. I think this was probably the last Thanksgiving we celebrated like this, mainly because the one who organized everything went back to the US. Here's a photo of me during that era.
So no Thanksgiving dinner and no Black Friday although I think some of the shops are warming up to the idea. Our sales typically begin after the Christmas holidays, or 7th January. Speaking of Christmas, our holiday lights are supposed to be turned on at the end of this week. 

Yesterday when I went out, I didn't know it was as cold as it was, especially in the wind. It's time to get out my hats and gloves. What a change from the weather we've had up until now! Yes, it's definitely warm quilt weather at night.

This is my post for the week. Thanks for looking in. Wishing everyone who celebrates it a very Happy Thanksgiving. Have I mentioned that I love stuffing?

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Look and You Might See Gargoyles

I hope I'm not the only one who doesn't notice things like new shops and old things that have been around for a while. Here are some gargoyles that I stumbled upon on one of my strolls. Although we usually see the creatures on top of buildings (Madrid has its share of them), these two fellows were guarding the entrance to a private garage. As you can see they've been around for a while. I just haven't paid attention to them. Incidentally, did you know the purpose of gargoyles was to allow water to drip off buildings, thus protecting the stone from water damage? 

This is the one on the left of the garage.
And here's the one on the right side of the door. I'd imagine they've been placed here so the cars don't hit the side of the building, or just for decoration.
Here are a couple more photos I've taken recently. The first one is in the same street as the gargoyles, and I've been in this police station which is a municipal or city police station. I haven't been in the van though.
I've covered up the plate number in case showing it isn't permitted. I've done the same with this Diplomats Corps car parked outside my office windows.
I have no idea why it's parked here. I doubt very much that the diplomat that uses this car lives in my neck of the woods. I saw it when I looked out the window to see what the workmen from our building were doing. They were cutting tile or something, which I'm sure is not permitted to be done in the street. As a matter of fact, Friday (the day of the attacks on Paris) when I saw this car was one of the days where anyone who wasn't a resident of this area or any other area that has parking meters for non-residents weren't allowed to park due to the high level of pollution. Of course, this car has special privileges. 

This week we did go out to the Chinese, and then yesterday 3 of us went to the restaurant round the corner. The food is good though the menu is limited and, for me, doesn't offer enough veggies. I don't eat a lot of meat or fish for that matter. I met the owner of the bar recently and we were talking about the food. I miss their traditional Spanish dishes like peas and ham, breaded eggplant and zucchini. Hope I got those last two right, because for a minute I could only think of the British words for them.

Our weather is still mild except at night naturally, with no rain or wind to get rid of the big black cloud over Madrid. I wonder what measures the Town Council will take for tomorrow. Up until now, it's been complete chaos.

Hope everyone has a good safe week with no terrorist attacks anywhere in our world. My reasons for being one of the few on Facebook to not place the French flag over my photo are stated there. Peace and love for everyone.

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Biscuits and Biscuits

Having taught English as a foreign language most of my life, I'm aware of the many differences in British English and American English both in spelling and vocabulary. Out of habit I tend to use British English when writing, so many of my words are often underlined in red on the internet, which seems to prefer American spelling. For one of the differences in vocabulary, the above photo shows biscuits in American English. Needless to say, I love these biscuits.

Now here are some biscuits I love too although they're a product of Scotland - my favourite (favourite underlined in red): Walkers Pure Butter Shortbread, or even homemade shortbread if it's available.
I've borrowed these two photos from the internet. The first one is from a recipe I have pinned on Pinterest. Here are my biscuits from this very recipe.
Whenever I make a recipe for the first time, I generally follow the directions as closely as possible. The only thing I didn't do was add as much sugar as the recipe said. I don't want my American biscuits to be sweet. So when the instructions said to roll out the dough, place it in an ungreased baking pan and cut into 12 squares I did. See the difference between the Pinterest photo and mine? These are called Kentucky biscuits, by the way. They were good with butter and jam no matter their shape. My mother's caretaker used to make biscuits like this too in Kentucky. Where else?

We've finally got blue skies after so many days of gloom and rain and the temperature is mild for November. Tomorrow is a holiday in Madrid too. As soon as I read a couple of blogs, I'm going out to enjoy a bit of this beautiful day.

Sorry that I'm sharing such a dull post, but I have nothing interesting to report. I doubt anyone is interested in hearing I've washed some very dirty windows. We didn't even go to the Chinese this week, because one friend had a work-related dinner and the other loyal one had to work until 10.30 p.m. You can have dinner so late once in a while but not as a rule if you have to work early in the morning. I know my friend is working too much and is really stressed out. I hope they get some more teachers soon to take on some of the load. However, I think the problem is they're only offering part-time work. 

Have a good week everyone. See what I come up with next week.

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Back to the Fall

By now everyone will have hopefully changed the time. Some of us only do it under duress. I mean our bodies hate it too, and it's so depressing seeing the night at 6.30 pm and daylight even later in the day. Usually at this time of day (4.30 p.m. more or less) I don't need artificial lighting but today I do. Well, we do have some cloud cover.

Last night (Halloween night) we were very cloudy. I went out in the afternoon to throw away some papers in the paper containers and decided to have a little walk around the neighbourhood. We don't get a lot of colour change in autumn, not like some places in the States, but we do see reds and some yellows. I was walking past the little park near my house where Zara and I used to go almost every day. There are the steps we used to go up. I don't know if you can see any reds here as the photo was so dark I had to lighten it. This park is small but has quite a few trees whose leaves turn a lovely red.

Years ago in the academy, I had a private student and his name was Iluminado (I suppose Enlightened One in Spanglish. There are some strange names here). He was one of the most polite students I've ever had; he always stood up when I entered the room. One day while we were reading a story that mentioned tree leaves, he got a puzzled look on his face. When I asked him what the matter was, he said, 'Where are the trees going?' I couldn't help laughing.

While I was viewing photos of Halloween and people's comments about the changing of the time, I realized more than ever the cultural differences between Spain and the US. People might get up early to be at work at 8 a.m. or earlier, but they sure don't go to bed so early. When I was in Ohio, I think the latest I stayed up was 11 p.m. or 11.30 the night we went to a play. Here I go to bed at 1 or 1.30 a.m. unless I have to get up at 5 a.m. 

On Thursday evening we were celebrating our friend Chris's birthday. Because she and another friend couldn't make it until 10 p.m., that's the time I reserved the Indian restaurant for. Of course, we didn't leave the restaurant until midnight. I don't like eating so late and usually try to have dinner between 9 and 9.30. I felt bad for Chris who had an early class, but I couldn't go to bed on a full stomach and stayed up reading until I couldn't keep my eyes open any longer.

We've had a mild autumn so far. A few nights it's been quite chilly, but I usually wear a hoodie during the day or Florida's winter jacket according to a link Terri shared on facebook. Almost every Monday we have rain starting to complicate traffic and tomorrow will be no exception - so glad I don't have to be in a huge traffic jam in the rain. The blogger of Secretos de Madrid shared this photo on facebook. I love it and hope he doesn't mind that I share it here.
You know we changed our clocks last week, so I hope the rest of you enjoy your 'extra hour' and have a good week too.


Sunday, 25 October 2015


Sorry about the title and content of this post. Yesterday late afternoon I decided to have a good clean out of my bedroom. To me, it seems like just yesterday I was writing about cleaning out all the dust bunnies from under my bed. I suppose it was longer than that, because there were plenty under there. So I had everything I could take out of the bedroom in the hall and by the door - a mess of things. The only thing I got done when the phone rang was the gathering and disposing of the dust bunnies.

The caller ID told me it was a friend who loves talking about her problems, and that's precisely what she proceeded to do for the next 90 MINUTES. I've always considered myself to be patient and understanding. After all, I spent over 40 years in the teaching profession. The moment she's all warmed up to tell me her problems and re-tell them again and again, someone knocks on the door. It's my 'favourite' neighbour who thinks I have nothing more to do than serve her. She wants me to find and print out all the minutes of the meetings of our building for the last few years. Hello! You got a copy of those meetings in your letterbox. If you threw them away, too bad. I only found about 21 pages or 5 sessions I could download.

I know we all complain (as I'm doing now), but there are those who just re-hash and re-hash the same old things. I know this person doesn't have a lot of people she can tell her problems to. Then again, she's sort of cut herself off from her old friends. However, after the first half hour, I was ready to climb the walls. Who likes to be brought down by negative people, especially when they're in the middle of a mess they need to clean? Do you think she felt better after all her complaints, because I didn't! The last thing about the matter that I'm going to say is some people don't know how to count their blessings.

In my last post, I shared a few photos of animals. In one there was my sister and her family's 5 dogs. Sadly, Ruby crossed the bridge last week. For the second time recently, she got confused and lost and was finally picked up by the dog pound the next day when they couldn't find her, and my brother-in-law even went up and down their road looking for her in all the ditches. She was taken to the emergency vet where they made the difficult decision to put her down. Here's a photo of her before she got really sick.
This is the weekend that we 'fall back' So far, I've only changed one of my physical clocks. Don't you just wish they'd leave the time alone?

Again sorry about such a depressing post. I know you'll be changing the time next week in America. Hope everyone who reads this has an enjoyable week with or without an extra hour.

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Home Away Part 2

In the last few years that I've been home in the summer, my sister and brother-in-law have invited me to a play. This time we saw The Secret Garden which we enjoyed immensely. Of course, my sister and I had wet eyes at the end (from the happy ending). 
One thing that I've always taken into account when going out in the States is how cold it can be due to the air conditioning. In other words, I don't leave home without a jacket. I doubt that my brother-in-law suffered from the cold temperature, but my sister did until intermission when the theatre must have realized or been told people were shivering from the cold.
This photo I took of the night sky one of the first days I was there, and here's another taken on a different evening but looking out onto the same soy bean field.
 On one of our evening walks while we were out to steal (with permission) some spinach from a neighbour's garden to make creamed spinach and to freeze some, we saw this flock of geese. Evening walks were pleasant unless there were mosquitoes. Of course, I got bitten the first night out.
This next photo isn't exactly the photo I wanted. For once all five dogs were lying in various positions on the floor in the living room. When I got up from the sofa to get my phone to take their photo, this is what happened.
Here's a good one of Prince, the white dog, under the table. He loves having his paws crossed. I miss all the dogs and my other family too.

We're having another sometimes rainy weekend in Madrid. Yesterday I got most of my winter clothes out though most of them need ironing. That's just about all I've got accomplished so far this weekend. Hope everyone is enjoying what's left of theirs and that you have a good week.



Sunday, 11 October 2015

Home Away

Here I am back to share some of my adventures and misadventures with you. I know I've been away from this blog for quite a while. First, some of the misadventures.

I'm one of those people who doesn't travel well. I don't like airports or travel in general, and I'm paranoid about missing the flight or nowadays being on a plane with crazy people. So one of my fears came to pass in Madrid airport.

I know I'm lucky to live so near the airport. It takes about 10 minutes to get there from my house unless there is a traffic jam. So I get to the airport, get checked in etc. and go to the WRONG gate where I'm waiting until I hear my name called. I was only off by a couple of gates, and I know I was the last person on the plane before the door of the plane was closed. Then when I got to Atlanta, I forgot my ipad in security and had to go back for it. Although the battery was dead and it wouldn't come on, they believed it was mine. End of misadventures and now some photos.

This first one was taken from the Incline in Cincinnati. It was really hazy and humid that day.
No matter the views from here are spectacular.
The haze disappeared on the Kentucky side. I was originally going to crop this photo. When I saw the puppy in the cloud (top left corner), I decided to leave it as is. Can you see the puppy with its ears, eyes, nose, mouth and paws?

For a long time, I'd been wanting to see the Serpent Mound in Peebles. It was a bit cloudy the day we were there, but with pleasant temperatures. There is a lookout tower from which you can see the Mound perfectly. My nephew took the photos of the actual mound for me as I have vertigo. Some of my friends live in a building with open-slatted stairs, plus the building is glassed-in for more natural light on the stairs side. I hate going up these stairs!

I took several photos of the different important points where people will gather at these times of the year. I suppose Serpent Mound is Ohio's Stonehenge. One sad note although I didn't photograph it: a 19-year old drunk man drove his 4X4 over part of the mound that's closest to the museum and other buildings, and the tire tracks can still be seen. I think his punishment was to write an essay or some silliness.

I have more photos to share, but will leave that for next week. Hope everyone's week is a good one.

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Summer - Going, Going, Almost Gone

I can't believe we're in the middle of August, and neither can you! August is typical for festivals and people escaping from the cities in droves and planting themselves on the beaches - sometimes getting up at first light to get a good spot on one of the most popular beaches. Those who don't leave the cities always have a festival they can attend. 

Here you have a couple of delicious treats that I've consumed this week.
Lime sherbet and delicious even if I didn't make it myself. The box comes with 3 limes and this is the last one. 
Recently my friend Kathy from Missouri has been talking about her mango margaritas. I've had sweet ones, like strawberry, but much rather have the sour ones. This is the margarita I made with lemons instead of limes, which I discovered had gone hard and bad. I would have probably had to add some lemon juice anyway, because I didn't have enough limes. I call the lime sherbet and the margarita my lemon-lime detox.

Weatherwise, we've had a great week of cooler temperatures. As a matter of fact, I woke up in the middle of the night cold, so for the first time this summer have had to use a quilt. It will no doubt be too hot again in a couple of nights, but I'm enjoying the weather we're having at the moment.

One thing I didn't mention last week in my post was that the people in a block of flats in Madrid had to escape with just their lives as part of the building was coming down. This happened at about 4 a.m. when most people are sleeping. Fortunately everyone was able to get out in time, and the entire building had to be pulled down. 

Because of the age of the building (more or less the same age as mine), I'm guessing the supporting pillars were wooden like they were in my building until we replaced them with steel ones. Buildings here, especially the older ones, have to pass inspection every 10 years and apparently that building had passed inspection in 2012. Another factor that may have caused the poor condition of the pillars to go unnoticed is there was a banquet hall where the pillars were located that had been closed for years. But as this is still part of the building, they should have had access to this space when the building was inspected, although perhaps the rotten pillars wouldn't have been detectable. I'm not an architect, but feel sorry for those poor people who have lost their homes.

I'm going to take some time off from doing a weekly post on Blogger but will return in October. I'll still visit you and your posts, and, of course, you'll see me on FB. Have a good week everyone.  



Sunday, 9 August 2015

Bee a Cat

August is cat-sitting month for me. Sami is the little sweetie that I help look after in summer along with another of her human friends who co-sits. Two things have surprised me this time. The first thing is a couple of bees come in for a visit every day. The other day Sami had left the tiniest bit of Gourmet Gold on her plate, and the bees were swarming round. Suddenly I looked and the plate was clean. I'm almost positive Sami didn't sneak and eat the last morsel, so it must have been the bees, right?

I don't know if you remember me saying that Sami was extremely ill in the spring. Thankfully she's recovered now but is still thin. She's always been a small thin cat. I gave my friend a packet of Sun Chlorella tablets for Sami. I know the Gentle Barn that I follow on FB always gives Sun Chlorella to their sick animals. Those of you who have pets know how difficult it is to get them to take medicine. They'll eat all the cheese or whatever you hid the pills in and spit out the pills. This is my second surprise. I'd place two tablets (they're really small) on the table with the idea of mixing them into Sami's food. Before I'd opened the tin of cat food, she'd gobbled them up! I'm going to have to ask Chris if that's how she gave them to her. I'm almost certain Chris said she puts them in the food.

The only animal that I've had that never gave any problems with taking medicine was my dog Honey. She would take pills from my hand. There was a period in which I had to take her temperature every day and make a chart for the vet. She let me do that even though it must have been unpleasant for the poor darling. The vet was impressed with my temperature chart. I miss all my pets that have crossed the bridge, but Honey especially. Even though you love all of them, there is always one who is an angel in every way, and for me that angel was Honey. I named her well, because she was so sweet. I never saw her get angry.

I suppose I could say I've received 3 surprises so far. After July being called the hottest month in history, last night was so cool and perfect sleeping weather with only the windows open. When I got up this morning, it was 16º C (about 60º F). Compared to a low between 20-24º, last night was heaven. I'm not too sure of the temperature at the moment except that open windows are sufficient.

I'm posting this a little later than usual, but the day has been worth the tardiness. I hope everyone who reads this has had a pleasant weekend and hope your next week is equally good. 

Sunday, 2 August 2015

August It Is

This was our sky about 8 p.m. on Friday when I was going to throw away some more paper and then on to sit outside and have a last drink with Cathy and Chris. I can't believe what an incredibly nice day it was - not hot at all! Despite all dark skies and clouds and sun, we only got a few sprinkles of rain. Yesterday it was hotter, though not unbearably so, and today hotter than yesterday. We'll be up to 100º F + in a few days, which is why I'm enjoying these days.

Here's another view of the bullring that I took years ago either in the autumn or winter. It's from a different angle, of course, than the photo from the other day. It's a photo that I sometimes use as a cover on FB. Notice in this photo that there aren't any flags flying (those of Spain and the Community of Madrid). Until recent years, the flags were up only when there was a bullfight, concert or other event in the bullring. I'm sometimes caught unaware that there is something going on there. I think the Red Bull Street Fighters was the last show that took place in the ring, with other lesser motorbikes making noise until 1 or 2 in the morning. Noise from outside is a big problem in the summer.

Chris has left for the beach and then her home in Wales. Cathy isn't going away, so I just might meet up with her, especially if I go out to eat with a friend and her family from Texas who are in Spain this month. Last summer we went to one of my favourite Mexicans and since they're having a 30% discount on meals through August... I know Sue from work as she worked in the language academy and lived with my friend June for a year. Actually her son goes to one of the universities in Madrid.

Because it's been so intensely hot for such a long time, I and lots of people I know haven't felt like eating a lot. The past couple of days, however, I've felt like eating a bit more, so think I'm going to make quesadillas to go with my salad. No other plans for today except more decluttering.

Hope everyone is having a fabulous weekend. Were you able to see the blue moon on Friday night? We had some cloud cover, but the moon could be seen. In my photos it did appear blue too. Have a good first week of August all.


Sunday, 26 July 2015

Goodbye July, You Were Hot!

Who doesn't remember as a child thinking Christmas was never coming, or who didn't enjoy those long long summer holidays? Well, the other day I posted on a friend's page on facebook that there were only 50 Saturdays until Christmas. Now it's either 49 or 48. 

Also some schools in Kentucky are starting the first week of August. That is so early! One of my sisters and one of my cousins posted about Ohio's no sales tax offers for school supplies and clothes starting the 7th (I believe) and lasting a few days. What a good idea! Most of my cousins on the Smith side live in Kentucky across the Ohio River, so hope their families can take advantage.

Because July has been so hot (and June before that), I can't say I've got a lot accomplished this past week. Here's my bottled lavender oil (that I've also shared on facebook). I mentioned earlier in the week that I was waiting for the alcohol in it to evaporate. One of my cousins suggested heating it. The recipe said to let it sit for about a week. I don't know about you, but I like to do what the recipe says - at least the first time I make something. Besides, heating it might ruin it somehow.

 I managed to do more de-cluttering, and that's my plan for when I finish here. I will have to agree with my friend Loretta who says there will always be some clutter in her house. There will be in mine too. I found a bottle of Martini that I know came from my other house at the very back of a cupboard. I'll bet it's over 20 years old, but has never been opened. I'll be giving that to my friend Chris.

Chris, Jenny and I went to the Chinese for our last meal with Jenny of the summer. She's off to England until the 5th, and then she and her husband are finally going to the States in September. I say finally, because they always go on these adventure holidays. Well, they are going to visit Yogi, so that will be an adventure I hope. 

Chris was talking about the telling off she got at the doctor's. She said she'd gained half a kilo since the last visit and hadn't been eating a lot because when it's hot most people don't eat as much as they normally would in the winter. Jenny and I both agreed we hadn't lost weight either. Jenny says she's big-boned, which for me isn't the same as overweight and Chris is. I really think Jenny is at most a size 8 (British size 10), because she gave me a lovely jacket a few years ago and I had to give it to one of my younger sisters.

I didn't intend to ramble on so much. Hope everyone is enjoying a restful Sunday and the coming week is good.

Sunday, 19 July 2015

A Little White Lie

Last week I promised to let you know if scrunching up newspaper and placing it in a smelly plastic container would get rid of those horrible smells. Well... it did somewhat, but not completely. At least the newspaper smelled like the plastic after a couple of days. I added vinegar and let the container sit for a while before washing it again. In the end, I put some food scraps in it and threw it away. So that's my white lie! I didn't try anything else and just threw it away.

You never know if something is going to work until you try it. Here's one that I know works. It's one I forgot to mention last week since I was obsessed with the plastic container. To view your photos on Google +, it's not necessary to go to your Google page. Type in and it takes you directly to your photos. My friend Terri shared some hacks on facebook the other day, and one of them was storing a tub of cottage cheese upside down in the fridge to keep it longer. I said that wouldn't be useful for me, because I could eat the whole tub in one sitting. I love cottage cheese that much. It's something that I've loved since I was little, and it's something whose taste or size hasn't changed.
Yesterday was one of the best days we've had this summer. I went out at a time that I don't usually if I can help it. You know what they say about mad dogs and Englishmen. I had looked up the times and places that the Town Council comes around to collect items like used or old oil, used printer cartridges, mobile phones, etc. I saw that they would be at the bullring on Tuesday between 1.30 and 3 pm and a few more places within walking distance. One of the places was on the corner of a park near my house - the one that Zara and I used to go to. Okay I was looking at a PDF file, but it said the van would be there between 12.00 and 1.30, so I went out at about 12.30. I saw nothing that looked like a van where I could leave what I'd chosen to get rid of. According to the file, they didn't operate in August, but it's still July, isn't it? This is the photo I took last night at about 9.30 pm when I went out to throw away some more paper. It was the first time we'd seen clouds for quite a while. You could tell the weather was nice because all the benches were occupied, and the outdoor cafés were full.

Speaking of outdoor cafés, I suppose I'll meet up with friends Chris and Cathy tomorrow at the one round the corner since they've installed a cooling system. I don't know if you have this system in your outdoor cafés. A lot of the bars and restaurants here have installed them where a mist of cool water shoots out and brings down the temperature. Then in the winter the bars have heaters for those who want to sit out, especially smokers.

Enough for this week. Hope everyone has had a good weekend and a good new week ahead.


Sunday, 12 July 2015

Hacks and Books

If only I'd known this before! I don't know if this works, but it's worth a try. It's too late for my laptop as it's on its second battery which doesn't hold a charge for very long now, so the computer is always connected. I do this sometimes with my ipad, but don't know if it works. I do know that if you charge Apple products in airplane mode, they charge quicker.
I forgot the 'before' photo on this plastic container (called 'tupper' here in Spain). Okay, I don't need more plastic containers, but I don't like throwing them out if they can be used again. The 'before' photo would have shown a big sticky label. You know one of those that could be soaked and scraped for a week, and you'd still have globs of glue on it. I removed as much of the paper as possible and then covered the label with my homemade Goo Gone (an oil and baking soda paste), leaving it on overnight. The next morning I wiped off the paste and washed the container. Now there's another problem. The container still smells like what was in it before. Here's the solution:

Place wadded up newspaper inside and leave overnight. Although it did smell better this morning, I think I'll leave it another night. If that fails to get the smell out, I'll try something different. After all this effort, I'm not throwing it away!

What takes zero effort on my part is reading. I've spent a good deal of my life doing that ever since I learned how to. These are two of the books that I've reviewed on goodreads and given 5 stars to.

 Margeret's Ark by Daniel G. Keohane is about a woman named Margaret and many others like her who have dreams in which they are instructed by angels to build arks; each ark is to hold 30 people and no animals, and the instructions as to where and how  the arks are to be constructed are very precise as is the date the arks are to be finished. Yes, Margaret is a religious person, but don't be fooled in thinking it's only about religion or you have to be a believer. Even an atheist has a heart I hope.

All the Dancing Birds by Auburn McCanta is about a woman who finds herself the victim of alzheimer's in her late 50's. Whether it's a sad movie or story, I tend to cry and I did in this book. Alzheimer's is an evil sad disease that always causes pain for both the sufferers and their families Even though you don't know these people personally, you feel for them.

What impressed me about the writings of these two authors is that this is the first novel for both, and, in my humble opinion, the two are well written. The main characters in both novels are widows too. I'll be looking forward to reading more from these two writers.

Speaking of arks, I've seen a funny caption with two cats that says something like: Noah called and he's picking us up. Another one with a skeleton looking out the window that says: Waiting for the rain to stop. We have the same old story here with extremely high temperatures, only I keep my shades pulled down. The other night, a friend who is going through menopause said she could no longer go to places without air conditioning. I must remember to tell her to keep a light jacket with her at all times when they go to the US this September. I freeze in places there, especially restaurants and supermarkets. 

Hope everyone has had a good week despite the weather and the coming week is just as good. Until next time.

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Orange Is The New Hot

The other day I was reading a fun little blog called The Square Peg. The theme of that day's post was terrorists, and not perhaps the kind that you may be associating with the word 'terrorist'. In the author's story (and he is a professional writer), the terrorists were a couple of mockingbirds that were attacking people and this my friends was the 'breaking news' he was watching on his local channel until the signal was lost, which was too bad as by then there was an alligator moving up behind the reporter. A dangerous place to live I fear!

Before I get to the point of  'my story', let me say how much I enjoy S. Stoner Bradley's 'The Square Peg'. The posts are lol's. Anyway before reading about the mockingbirds, my story is that I'd just got an e-mail from the embassy saying they'd raised the threat level to 'high', which is not surprising after the recent attacks on France, Tunisia, Kuwait and Somalia. Also earlier I'd read a joke about a squirrel that attacked a motorcyclist. Of course, the title I've given this post also refers to the weather. It's best not to look at the daily 100º + temperatures in store for us continuing, I guess, as long as we don't get anything, like a storm or air from Norway or somewhere similar,  to cool things down. I don't know what you think, but I think these are a lot of coincidences, and don't pay any attention when I say not to look at the temperatures all the time, because I do. Last night my phone said we had electrical storms in the area. They must have been silent and invisible, and there was certainly no rain to be seen, only cloud cover.

What else is orange? Well, the gazpacho and the sauce from the meatballs I had yesterday at the restaurant I go to with friends. I stopped by on Tuesday morning to order the meatballs. You know this is the place that some of us have been going to for years. The new people who have taken the place over after the owners retired will surely do well if they continue treating their customers as well as we've been treated. By the way, if you've seen the photo of gazpacho on my facebook page, mine usually comes out red and not orange.

In my last post, I mentioned weighing the necklace I got. With the chain, it weighs almost half a pound. I say almost, because my kitchen scales are in grams.

That about does it for today. Hope everyone's 4th of July weekend has been good. Have a good week.

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Some Like It Hot

Summer begins in earnest. As I begin writing this, it's 99 ºF but that feels like 108º F. My phone says that in my area we have 11% humidity, and that's the only saving grace. I think later on I'll go out and fry a couple of eggs - only joking. I'd have to put on some clothes to do that. My friend Jenny always says what weather they have in New York we get a couple of weeks later. Sure hope she's right, because I've heard some folks are getting temperatures in the 80's. I'm staying in until the sun goes down today that's for sure!

Yesterday I joined the end of term celebration of my old institute in the centre and prepared myself as best I could against the heat. I took a frozen bottle of water and sprayed my body with sunblock. Unfortunately, I forgot my fan. We were going to our favourite Mexican restaurant, but Penny said she'd seen a new Mexican restaurant in a square two minutes' walk from the institute, so we decided to try that. Honestly, I don't think we could have made it to the other restaurant without a few pit stops on the way to cool down. The food was spicier than the dishes we have in the other Mexican but was good too.

On Wednesday evening, I went to a party given by the mothers of my classes for me. All of the kids were there, except one who was studying for his university exams, and one of the dads came too. The food was delicious and plentiful - not much remained though. I might add that we ate out on the patio, because on Wednesday the heat was still bearable. Here's the lovely present I received from them, and is it ever heavy!

Not only is the stone big and heavy but so is the chain. I was going to weigh it on my kitchen scales. When I do, I'll post how much it weighs.There's an animal on the chain. I understood Cielo to say it was a cat, but looking at it I think it's some kind of reptile.

And here are a couple of black and white photos. This first one I've shared before, but have recently made a copy of it and put it in a frame for my friend Chris. It's of our old language institute that was founded in 1949, but the actual photo is from the 1950's. It's part of the pack and album of old photos I came across when I was helping to clean out the institute a couple of years ago.

The last one is from the now longest street in Madrid, Alcalá, from 1886. This was before the Gran Via, or Madrid's Fifth Avenue, was built.

I think I'd best do some clearing out of my bedroom at least, so I'm going to get to work after wishing everyone a good week.


Sunday, 21 June 2015

The Long and the Short of It

I'm one of those people who love trivia. Although I'm not a gamer, I've always enjoyed Trivial Pursuit. The other day I learned which was the shortest street in Madrid, and it's not this one. This is the longest - Alcalá Street, and this I've known for a long time.

The photo was taken nearly 5 years ago by my nephew when he came to visit. This was the year that Spain won the Soccer World Cup, but let's leave all the FIFA scandals out of this. Actually the building in the photo is located at number 39 of Alcalá, I think, and, on the right, a bit of the Alcalá Gate can be seen. I'm not exactly sure how many numbers the street has, as part of it used to be called Aragón Avenue. It must have 500 and then some, because I live near something like number 211 of Alcalá.

And here's the shortest street - about 20 metres in length:

It's called 'lance breaker' in English, and is on the corner of one of the most commercial streets in the Puerta del Sol area. There are lots of funny names for streets like Globe or Ball Street, Fish Street, etc. Again Rompelanzas is near our old institute that now has an updated version of the same institute in one of the same buildings.

Today I can say that I've done almost nothing. Later on, I'll probably be sifting through more books, papers and things to get rid of. Yesterday I went to a crafts fair in the home of one of the two-beez. Look at the lovely awning, made from scarves, that they put together to keep the garage cooler.
This photo was taken just as they were getting ready to open to the public. I went before anyone else showed up, because I knew later on in the day it would be blazing hot. It was and is even hotter today. Summer has returned to stay I suppose. That means gazpacho weather for me.

Here's something I bought. Can you guess what it is, besides a champagne cork?
So this is the long and short of it for this week. Happy Father's Day and also a happy week for everyone.