Sunday, 26 April 2015

Bright Colours for a Rainy Day

I know I'm not the only one who loses things, especially umbrellas. Although I have a couple of 'normal' umbrellas, I like to have one of those foldable ones that I can slip into my bag just in case it rains. I had no idea this one I bought a year ago after having lost my last little umbrella had manga characters on it until I opened it up one rainy day. I only thought it would be a good idea to have one that promised to behave when it's windy, and this one promised that. Surely you'll have seen abandoned, turned upside down and broken umbrellas in the street and people flying like Mary Poppins without trying to.. And now you know what my windy rainy day umbrella looks like.

Rain was in the forecast for this weekend, and that's exactly what we have or had, because it's stopped for a while anyway. Early this morning I heard one of the neighbours hurriedly taking in her clothes that she'd left outside overnight. Once years ago, I almost didn't gather my clothes in at night even though they would have been dry. After I'd done it, I was glad, because not long afterwards someone fell out a window upstairs and broke all the clotheslines from the second floor on down. I have no idea the circumstances surrounding the fall, but one neighbour who knows everything that goes on said he was a friend of someone in the basement and was so drunk he thought he was going out the door. I think it could have been someone who intended breaking into one of the flats, but I don't know everything that happens in the building (unless I'm told).

I'm proud of myself for getting so many chores done this weekend. Yes, I de-frosted and cleaned my fridge and this was a weekend in which I had ironing to do. When I finish here, I'm going to prepare my lunch for tomorrow and make some banana nut bread. Might as well do as much baking as possible. Soon it'll be too hot to think about using the oven much.

 Wednesday I went to the Chinese with Chris and another friend who we hadn't seen much of since Christmas. Chris said her cat Sami had had her last antibiotics injection that day and was jumping on the bed and her favourite place the radiator. I hope these are good signs, although one of Chris's friends sent me a couple of messages asking questions about Sami that I couldn't answer, and I suggested she ask Chris. I didn't say that to be nasty. I just didn't know the answers and had told her what Chris had told us.

Just like last Sunday (I think) the sun has decided to come out for a bit and the rain has stopped. My windows? Yes, they're streaked, but rain is good. I heard this past week that the reservoirs for the province of Madrid were over 90% full of water, which is good. I remember seeing a photo of the lake in our Retiro Park completely dry one year. I'm sure it was the same year that I had awful gastroenteritis. 

The break in the rain is my cue to finish this and to get cookin'. Hope everyone has a good week.   

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Uphill Week

I'm one of those millions and more people who don't like Mondays, and I think everything started going uphill after I finally received a whatsapp message that was sent early on Monday morning. As we don't get unlimited data or messages with our phones here, most of us (I have a couple of friends who refuse to have it) use whatsapp. There's even a name for the addiction to using this messaging service.

I don't know why but when I'm using wifi, which I always do at home, my mobile doesn't advise me when I get a message. I only realise I have messages when I 'wake up' the phone. And I'm not one of those persons who is always looking at my phone to see if I have a message. You see my friend Chris had sent me that early message asking if I could take her cat Sami to the vet's as she was ill. Luckily Chris was able to get another friend to take Sami when I didn't answer. The news on poor Sami isn't good, so I ask for your prayers and positive thoughts. I haven't heard from Chris since Friday when she said Sami had come out from under the bed.

I'm sure that having to go to the vet's wasn't a pleasant experience for the little girl. I know how my Zara used to hate going. I don't know if I ever mentioned a time when a lady saw me struggling with Zara to get her to walk and she offered to help. It was always the same. I had to pull on Zara to get her there, and after we'd finished at the vet's she'd run me home. By the way, my photo is from the park where we used to go. I loved living in the street where I lived for so many years because the park was right behind my house. 

So Monday started out badly, possibly because I was worried about Sami and felt guilty about not getting the message about her sooner.. On my way to my last classes, I realised or hoped I'd left my phone at my previous student's house since I couldn't seem to find it in my handbag nor in my bookbag. Recently I read or heard that we women lose an average of 107 days of our lives trying to find things in our bags. The phone was where I'd left it and not in my bags or worse stolen: on the table in Ana's house, so her brother brought it to me. Then when I left my last class, I left my glasses case (without the glasses though). Some days it doesn't pay to get out of bed or so they say.

This weekend has been one where I do all the usual things. I was going to defrost my fridge, but have decided to leave that until next weekend. For once my floors aren't dirty and I didn't want a mess to clean up. Instead I've decided to go through more old papers and old textbooks to throw out or give away.

Not much excitement in my week, but here you have it. Sure hope yours was better and that we all have a good week ahead of us.  

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Of Mice and Us

As I've often mentioned, some of my friends and I get together round the first Saturday of every month for lunch. Yesterday was such a Saturday that we'd arranged to go to the place where we always have our Saturday lunches. Early in the week my friend Cathy called saying that the owners of the bar (a place we've been going to for years) had just retired and their son had decided not to continue the business, so they'd decided to rent it. None of us had any idea that they were thinking of retiring or that the son wouldn't continue the business.

To make a long story short, we finally decided on another place that has new owners too. Although the food was okay in general (Chris found part of her chicken that was still pink), the atmosphere wasn't the same and the coffee was rather disgusting. I like my coffee strong, but this was too strong and burnt tasting. Needless to say, I didn't finish it.

I saw Jesus, the owner of our old hangout, on my way to class on Wednesday, and he told they'd retired and rented out the bar. I already knew, of course, because his granddaughter is in Cathy's class. I understand perfectly that they're retiring. After all, he's 72 and his wife is 65. What we don't understand is why they didn't tell us in March when we went there for lunch. I told my students at the beginning of this course that it would be the last year that I'd be giving classes. This is one of the reasons I'm trying to get rid of old papers, books, etc.

We were so lucky to have had such lovely weather at Easter. I can't say it's freezing, but we're not having those nice temperatures like we had a couple of weeks ago. On Thursday morning when I went to get my hair cut, the wind was blowing cold and yes it was raining. I don't think my windows are too spotted though. 

One thing that I find incredible in this day and age with internet everywhere is how so many people still think Spain is a tropical country. One of Cathy's students, who is going to Minnesota for a year, was asked in an interview if she would have problems with the winter there since she's from a tropical country. Okay I know Minnesota is freezing in the winter, but I've never worn shorts in January here either. Even now some heating is necessary at this time of year, even though years ago the central heating always went off on the first day of April no matter what the temperature outside was. It's because the buildings were heated with coal.

I don't have a photo for today, and I don't participate in Throwback Thursday or anything like that. I am sharing this photo of me in Rome from the early 80's. Two friends and I were there for Easter week when you could still get very close to Pope John Paul II. I don't have photos of him, but maybe the other two do. This super curly hairstyle was in fashion then. I never brushed it or combed it, just 'picked' it. I've seen that some people wear picks in their hair in the US. If I were brave enough, I'd have my hair pixilated.
Hope everyone has a good week ahead. April sure is rolling along.

Sunday, 5 April 2015

End of a Perfect Holiday

I know this cloudy sky doesn't look like it deserves to be part of the best Easter holiday week we've had in many years, but it was just that: a bit cloudy sometimes with very mild temperatures, but mostly blue skies everywhere. The building on the right is a modern block of flats which is in the exact spot where I used to work all those years. I really can't pass this building without thinking about where my classroom was located. Recently I saw an attic flat with 4 bedrooms for rent here. I can only imagine what they're asking for it, and I wonder if there are any ghosts of teachers and students past inhabiting the space. After all, it was a language school for over 30 years. Its parent institute, which was in the centre of Madrid, was founded in 1949 and is one of the first language institutes in Madrid and in Spain for that matter. One of these days I'll take a photo of the new Briam (that was the name of the original institute) which has returned to the neighbourhood.

Despite all the lovely weather we've been having, I've been spending a good part of it indoors doing spring cleaning (yes, my windows are sparkling clean, so now it can rain) and again getting rid of old papers. I have a bag for the shredder but that can wait until I feel like feeding it. Between dusting and shredding documents, I don't know which I hate the most, but I did dust from top to bottom.

Today was my friend Cathy's birthday, and guess where we ended up having lunch? At our local Chinese restaurant. It was just the two of us as the rest of our gang are still on holiday or not available. Cathy is one of those people who it's difficult to get the appropriate gift for. She doesn't go in for jewellery or any of those girly things. So I gave her one of the things I got for myself this past summer in Bed Bath and Beyond (love that place) - a silicon lid for any smooth surface that can be used on pans on the cooker (stove) or in the microwave and an apron made by a friend. I use my lid all the time. As a matter of fact, I often use the gadgets I've got from there. Here's one of my favourite chicken casseroles called chicken cobbler that I've used the pastry blender on that I bought at the same time as the lids, so you know what's for lunch tomorrow:

I'm not ready for the holidays to end. However, for once the 'spring forward' hasn't bothered me too much as our clocks changed that first weekend of our holidays. Let's hope our new week is a good one. Have a good week everyone!