Sunday, 31 May 2015

School's Out Forever

Actually the kids begin their last few weeks of classes by going to school until about 1 p.m. tomorrow, but Friday was my last 'official' day of giving class. I just have to shout it out! I'm finally RETIRED!!! Yes, that deserves capital letters and extra exclamation marks. So what am I going to do with so much free time?

First of all, I know I should be more like the girl in the photo and just throw all the papers and lesson plans up in the air. I am throwing away papers and have been for a while. However, I feel the need to go through the files that I haven't used up during this course and take out things that could be useful for my friends at the language academy, especially the speaking activities and children's games. This is what I've spent a few hours doing this weekend. I have no idea when I'll finish the 'paperwork' from over 10 years as a freelance teacher.

A bigger project will be to do up my apartment. It needs everything doing to it - floors and all the installations. I want just a shower put in in the bathroom. I don't often take a bath anyway. I told one of my friends that I wanted tile floors throughout and not wooden ones like I have in the bedroom and my 'office'. She said they'd be cold in winter to which I answered that any floor is cold in winter. I think having the same flooring everywhere will make the place look bigger. I'd also like some carpentry work done - just hope I can afford all this. I've been told about some builders who are reliable by the person who has done my tax returns for years. It'll be a question of getting a few estimates and decide on one.

Of course, I have other plans as to how to enjoy some of my free time. I don't think I'll get bored. I've always been able to find something to do. For those of you who are retired, do you ever get bored?

This Saturday, my friends and I are getting together for our monthly lunch and gab session. I must remember to send Chris a message to ask what time we'll be meeting. It's usually about 3 p.m., but last time they met up at 1(13.00). I wasn't feeling well that day and didn't go. Hope Chris makes it at a time that Cathy can come, because I have some resource material I want to give her. I know that Chris, and maybe someone else, will be going to a hosted charity at the Anglican church afterwards, so it's possible she'll want to meet up earlier.

We still have bullfights every day, but this coming week starting tomorrow will be the last week with daily fights. Although it hasn't been so hot as it was a few weeks ago, we've definitely got summer weather but no more tropical nights.

Hope everyone who has attended graduations recently have enjoyed the ceremonies. I have a great-niece who graduated from 5th grade and a great-nephew from preschool, both photos were shared on facebook. Have a good first week of June!



Sunday, 24 May 2015

In the Cloud

The other day on facebook, I shared a funny video that used the music from one of Billy Joel's hits with lyrics describing what was popular with kids in the 70's and 80's. Throughout the song, the line 'But we never owned an Ipad, Never heard of texting, only teletexting' is repeated. Although some of the things the singer mentions are typical of Britain, such as some of the popular personalities (I gather he wasn't too keen on a certain weather forecaster), but who doesn't remember 'The Goonies', one of my all-time favourites, and Michael Knight's car?

Without the technology we have today, the man who made this particular video would have had quite a few difficulties putting it together. By the way, he does a good cover of Billy Joel's 'We Didn't Start the Fire'. 

I was thinking the other day about how much I rely on my mobile phone for more things than just texting. It's also my watch, easy-to-use camera and weather forecaster. I don't (yet) go walking down the street looking at it and not looking where I'm going, and have been known to forget it at home or in somebody's house. 

The photo above is one that my sister took and tagged me in and posted on facebook, because she knows I'm always looking at the clouds. Isn't it amazing how we can store what we want to keep 'in the cloud'?

The next photo is of one of the best early almost 'smart' phones that I've had. I know I could send multimedia texts on it though most of my friends couldn't open them. I really liked that the keyboard was round. As it no longer works and I've been de-cluttering some today, I decided it's time to get rid of it. The next time I go past a battery container, I'll drop off the dead battery, which I was finally able to get at. The backs of phones are put on so it's extremely difficult to open them, aren't they?

This week we didn't go to the Chinese, because my friend Chris's cousin died, and, naturally, she was and is very sad. I'm sure she would appreciate prayers and/or positive thoughts for the family. You remember that Chris's cat was very ill recently. She says Sami follows her everywhere. Poor Sami.

Two week ago, we had that preview of summer with too high temperatures for this time of year. Thank goodness, the temperatures have gone down to normal. We even had a few mornings where it was cold, and in a town not too far from Madrid it was 32º F at 8 a.m. I've worn long sleeves and a jacket most of the week. It does warm up into the 70's during the day. I'm glad that at least one saying still holds true - the one about waiting until the 40th May (9th June) to put away winter things. I'm just not ready for sandals yet.

I hope that everyone who has a long weekend enjoys a safe one and the rest of the week passes as quickly as your 3 days. 

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Rose Temperatures

Here's what everyone was talking about this past week: the weather! Never in all the time that temperatures have been recorded have we had such high ones for this time of year. The week started out hot, but the hottest day of all was Wednesday when it did get up to that 100º F (37º C). At 5 p.m. before I left for my last classes, it was almost 98º F (36ºC) according to my phone. Honestly if I hadn't had to go out in that heat, I'd have stayed inside. As it was, I arrived to my destination all sticky and sweaty.

The kind of heat that we experienced this past week is worse than the usual heat that we have in the summer. The air was coming in from Africa along with particles of sand which covered the sun partly and the sky completely. The sky was grey but without clouds. One of my friends came back from Alicante, which is on the east coast, on Wednesday and said it wasn't nearly as hot as it was here. I can believe it! On days like this all I want to do is stay where it's cool and drink liquids. Gazpacho is something I try to have on hand too; it's so refreshing and works better than ice-cream at making you feel cooler.

Another topic that people were talking and worrying about was the proposed football strike which was supposed to have started yesterday. In the end the strike was called off, so yesterday there was football. I'm not sure if the other strike - the rubbish strike - that I also mentioned has gone ahead or if picking it up 4 days a week is keeping my area fairly clean. Yesterday on my way to the supermarket, I threw away some paper and the container was full but that's normal.

On my way back from class on Friday, which was a holiday for most, I saw that this rose bush that I often pass was finally in bloom. Well, maybe it had been in bloom for a few days. I don't always notice changes immediately. I think I noticed the bush because there was absolutely no one in the street. I'm glad I saw the blooms (one big and one little one and another one ready to bloom). They're such a lovely shade of red. Here's a photo of the smaller bloom.

My plans for the rest of the afternoon include making a shepherd's pie for meals this week and perhaps prepare something for lessons tomorrow. On this day next week, I probably won't even bother turning on the TV since everything will be about the elections, and I'm sure plenty will be said on Monday.

I hope everyone has had/is having a pleasant weekend and that the coming week will be just as pleasant. Not a lot happening in my world, so this is me for this week.

Sunday, 10 May 2015

And They're Off!

I'm not talking about the Kentucky Derby or any horse race really, but the San Isidro bullfights which began on Friday and will take place every day in Madrid until 7th of June. Great for the bars and restaurants and maybe the food markets in the area and not so great, actually quite annoying, for those of us who live near the bullring.

 Last night the 'bulls', as some of us call them, were outside in the street shouting and booing until 2 a.m. As I live next door and across the street from two places they frequent, I couldn't really sleep until then. Hope they go to bed earlier tonight. Like I said, these events are good for those offering food and especially drink. These places make their 'August' as we say, meaning they make more than enough money not to open in August, which is a popular month for going away. Even though there's a good chance they'll be fined, some places put out more tables and chairs than are allowed.

There are more 'offs' for this week that we're finishing. Take a look at this van that went sailing over a roof in a town near Madrid. It's not a good photo since it's one that I quickly captured from the TV. The driver was parking on a hill where his family say he always parks when suddenly the brakes failed and he went flying. His family also insist he wasn't drinking. He was critically injured, but I suppose will be okay.
What must be considered 'ons' are a couple of strikes. Tomorrow a rubbish strike begins in Madrid just in time for the too warm temperatures that we'll be having the rest of this week. Fortunately they've agreed to pick up the rubbish 4 days a week (the recyclables 2 days), so hopefully it won't get too smelly. When the piles get so big, people get angry and start burning them which is dangerous too. Then there are people who don't need an excuse to burn something. The other strike is in Spanish football (soccer) starting on Saturday. Poor football fans!

For me this is a definite 'off'. I stayed home on Friday, because I wasn't feeling well. I suppose I ate something that didn't agree with me. I spent most of the day in bed, and then yesterday didn't go to our monthly get together, because I still didn't want to eat. I'm eating now, but trying not to overdo it.

My last 'off'' is the weather. It has got hot much too early. Today we're getting hot air from Africa. I saw that we have a predicted high of 100º F for Wednesday. Wish I hadn't seen that! We have sunglasses and sunscreen weather that's for sure. Saint Isidro is one of our patron saints, and he always sends us a bit of rain on his day which is this Friday. We haven't had any rain on the 15th for the last couple of years and looks like none for this holiday either.

Happy Mother's Day to all mothers who are celebrating today. Our Mother's Day was last Sunday. Hope everyone is enjoying a lovely day and hope you have a good week. 


Sunday, 3 May 2015

Sunday Bloody Sunday

What should have been a nice restful 3-day weekend went a tad wrong as I had to call an emergency repairman today, which is also Mother's Day in Spain. The problem has been fixed temporarily, but it means I'm getting a late start on posting this. I'll have to compose this quickly as it's almost evening here and I have lots of things that need doing before the day that we all dislike - Monday.

Since we have two long weekends this month, I did give class on Friday afternoon. May 1st is our Labour Day in Europe, and I know lots of people have gone to the beach and to their 'villages'. Almost everybody here has a village that they claim even though they were born in Madrid. Somebody in their family is from that village. Because the weather has been very mild (I saw about 80º F in Madrid yesterday), the ones who have gone to the beach will come back brown. Today it's mostly cloudy in Madrid though it's fairly warm out.

I hope I'm not the only one who finds the following story funny. Have you heard of the Kylie Jenner lip challenge? Well, I hadn't until someone posted something about it on Facebook. A person puts his/her lips into a bottle and sucks for about 5 minutes or so. Somehow this makes the lips get bigger, supposedly like the person's that the challenge has been named after. Kylie has, I've heard, naturally plump lips. I don't know as I don't follow these people. 

Here's the Spanish lip challenge story:
I'd nearly finished the class that I have with one of my almost 13-year olds. We don't have an ideal place for the class, because it's in the living room and it's almost never completely quiet. Either someone rings the doorbell, is watching TV or her grandmother, who suffers from dementia, interrupts. On Monday, Ana's mother came in to say she wanted to see her facebook, twitter and whatsapp accounts. She was livid because Ana must have posted a photo of herself with those big lips on one of these places, except she's not on twitter. 

When I left, embarrassed for the child, her mother was really telling the poor kid off. As far as I'm concerned, it's just one of those silly things that youngsters are doing and I really can't see that it's harmful; certainly not as harmful as some of the other 'challenges'. I could just imagine Ana with those horridly fat lips!

Yesterday, as I posted on Facebook, was a holiday in Madrid to celebrate the uprising against the occupation of French troops. My photo is a dedication to that uprising and is near the Royal Palace. 

Hopefully tomorrow and the rest of the week will be better than my 'Sunday Bloody Sunday'. Hope everyone else's week is good.