29 October, 2006

8:13 AM...or is it 7:13???

Yes the wonderful Daylight Savings Time is upon me...I just wish I would have known last night when I set my alarm for 7:00 this morning.....

I am going hiking in the mountains with Amics de Planques, a NGOD (Non Governmental Organization for Development) http://www.amicsdepalanques.org/index_en.html Me and 2 of my roommates were to be picked up at 8:30 in a park about a 15 minute walk from our house. I was up, drinking my coffe and relaxing when Robert and Mesfin crawled from their rooms. Robert and I were ready at 8:10 and were waiting on Mesfin when he walked into the kitchen and started getting the coffee pot ready. I said, Hey you don't have time for coffee, we have to leave in 2 minutes. This caused a flurry of confusion as his mobile said it was only 7:15. I looked at the kitchen clock slowly ticking away and then I looked towards Robert. His watch said 8:15 so Mesfin started frantically getting ready. I paced nervously as I HATE being late for anything.

I then looked at my mobile and it said 7:18...I then said, "Ummm is it daylight saving time"? We then rushed to my computer and I started it up and lo and behold, it is! There are so many things I forget about since I don't understand the radio or TV here...

So here I sit on the computer with an hour to kill. Mesfin is making his coffee and Robert went back to bed...

19 October, 2006

What is a friend???

How many of you have received those (mostly corney) emails regarding friendship. Well in all of those emails...the ones I actually read, I never heard mention that a friend is someone who buys you a vegetarian cookbook when you have recently "converted" as such.

I received this beloved cookbook in the mail from my best-friend (we've known each other since I was in the 4th grade & she in the 5th). As I was going out the door to work, I saw a package sticking out of our mail slot and upon seeing my name on it, I stuck it in my backpack, jumped on my (newly seated) bike and rushed to the train station. I had just settled down ready for the 10 minute ride to work when I remembered the package. I opened it and almost cried with joy at seeing it...you see, while in Greece, Sandy and I talked about my "not eating meat ". Although I am a full-blown conscious vegetarian, I still am kind of uncertain as to if I am getting enough protein, iron, etc... Well in the first couple pages of the cookbook, it talks all about that kind of stuff and then has SO MANY super recipes. Ben and Robert already used the mushroom soup recipe and I am going to make "Tofu with Garlic Yoghurt Dressing and Spinach" for breakfast soon!

As I sat there on the train reading the cookbook and trying to hide my teary eyes, I contemplated our friendship. Sandy and I have talked about how we have been super great friends all these years, yet may only talk once a month (when I was in the US) and see each other only twice a year, but it seems as if no time has past from one conversation to the next.

We've been through EVERYTHING together over the years and we still like each other, ha ha.
I am so lucky to have been able to call her my friend for ....oh my gosh, I think it's been over 30 years?? no way, how old are you in the 4th grade? shit!

18 October, 2006

Daddy, I want a golden goose!

I want a pet! After meeting Karl the caracol (named after my good friend who I met because of our pets) I felt the need to "take care" of something. My roommates of course tried to discourage my desire. It wasn't like I was asking for a dog or a horse or anything, just a small animal that is low maintenance....like a lizard! I said a lizard is really cool and we could all play with it and he would be a house pet. Robert said he could go get Karl back from the grass he put him in last night, but a snail really isn't a good pet for me, the thought of him "crawling" down my arm made me shiver. I really want a lizard!

They then made suggestions like a...snake, fish or a rat to which I replied YES, let's get one of those (except for a fish you can't really play with a fish)......of course they were trying to make me give up on the idea, but give me a break, "reverse psychology" on a former nanny? come on, it was a daily occurrence in my life for 15 years as a nanny, plus I used it quite successfully during my jobs as Executive Assistants to CEO's. Instead of dropping the subject I started to get excited and to talk about what we could name our snake (Smithers) and I told them about my brother's pet rats he had in college, and then brought home to my mothers dismay. R then confessed that he does not like snakes, and Bn hates rats.

I then made the mistake of mentioning a hamster and they both freaked out. I guess hamsters aren't really "manly" enough or something. They mentioned a rabbit (as if that's more masculine??) but I have already had a rabbit or two in my days and they take too much care. The conversation finally petered out without no solution and I do believe the poor lads think the conversation is over...but HA HA, they don't really know me very well (ha ha ha ha ha ha - wicked laugh while rubbing my hands together)

EEK...a caracol!

My My look what the lettuced dragged in! a little snail! As I was rinsing all the wonderful DIRT off my organic lettuce in the sink, I saw this little fella, well at first I thought it was only a shell, but once I plucked him from the water, he stuck his little head out really far as if to say "where in the hell am I". He was probably cold as he was living in my fridge for a couple days...I wonder what else is living in there!

11 October, 2006

EEK...a worm...

As I cut into a gorgeous red pepper today, I came accross a little worm. At first I jumped back, and thought "gross" and then I had a second thought...why is this worm in my pepper? I had bought the pepper at a local farmers outdoor market...for those of you cityfolk let me explain what that is; local - grown in or near Castellon, farmers - spanish men and women in coveralls tilling their small plots of land, outdoor market - many tarp covered areas with worn out tables and randomly displayed fruits, vegetables and herbs.

This market is not airconditioned, there are no metal carts, no loud speakers blaring "special on Jif Peanut Butter" or "clean up on aisle 5". This place would be called "dirty" by some and the produce "unhealthy" by others. Why? Well organic produce is ugly and dirty, it hasn't been sprayed with pesticides, genetically modified, waxed, polished, buffed and transported across countries and even continents. the mushrooms are not sliced and in a stryofoam container wrapped in plastic, they still have their long dirt covered stems as if they were plucked from mother earth that very day.

I reminised about how I used to shuck corn in my small town in Kansas and would find worms in the corn, I did not give it a second thought back then. I would just give that ear of corn to my mom to finish peeling or I would put it back in the bucket for someone else to finish...worms were "gross" to me back then also. As I grew older, worms disappeared from my food Why? well, super-huge corporate farms have replaced the "local farmer" and millions of tons of pesticides/dangerous toxic chemicals are sprayed on the produce which is eaten by unaware consumers.

I looked at my little wiggling gusano (worm in spanish) and marveled how "Gus" had managed to live in my pepper in my refrigerator for over a week. I thought that maybe he was really tired of peppers and would like some other vegetable, so he is now living in the trash dumpster with part of his pepper home, some cucumber peelings, tomato tops and some olive pits. I think Gus will be happy there and maybe meet other pesticide free gusanos. I wish I could bring him to Kansas to live on my sisters farm, I do believe he would be in heaven in her garden!

08 October, 2006

hi ho hi ho, it's off to work I go...

I am now a "working woman" again...as an English language teacher to students ranging in age from 3 to 26 years of age. I teach the preschoolers with another teacher named Monica. Monica is 7 months pregnant and will soon be leaving so I will then have the precious little Spaniards all to my self in the classroom.

I teach two 1-hour classes on Tuesday's and Friday's. The first class has about 10 students and consists of 3-5 year olds and the 2nd class is all 3 year olds. They speak almost no English and I tend to just laugh the whole time. I can imagine what their minds are thinking about me...they are just learning their colors, names of objects, numbers in their native language, Spanish and now along comes this woman telling them that the photo they are looking at is not of "tres manzanas verdes", it's "three green apples". They look at me like I am from mars. But they are children and their fresh little brains accept the new sounds and words, unlike my stubborn brain who struggles daily with the Spanish additions I force upon it.

Monday's and Wednesday's I spend an hour with 5-6 year olds who are a bit figgety but fun, although they looked at me in disblief when I told them "no hablo espanol" and "no entiendo espanol". I guess it is pretty weird for a child to meet someone who does not know their language.

Every Wednesday I have a class of 16-17 year old boys who are in a school for young futbol players (soccer). The boys come from all over Spain and sometimes the world. They live at the school year round (except for the month of July, when they go home). These young men are hand picked because of their exceptional skills in the game and are the next generation of professional futbol players. They are cocky in a high school boy kind of way, an example is the first day I had them say basic sentences in English (My name is..., My position is..., I am from..., etc.) One rather bold 16 yr. old said, My name is Javier, My position is Defender, I am from the Canary Islands and I like futbol and Melinda. The other boys of course all cracked up and I looked at this child young enough to be my son, smiled, and said "Thank you, Javier, your english is very good". ..hmmm...I think I may actually look forward to Wednesday's.

During the week, I have random "converstation" classes with those wanting to better their English and in all I work only about 15 hours a week and am in Spanish class on T and TH for 2 hours each day. I currently spend my "free time" learning Spanish and figuring what my thesis topic will be...(okay, so I go to the beach and sailing too...BUT that is it... well...I did go out last weekend, but didn't pull an all-nighter....and there was that one time that I didn't leave the flat and spent the intire day in my PJ's; I did go on the rooftop for a little sunshine and since I said "hola Buenas diaz to the neighbor lady, maybe that can classify as "practicing my Spanish".

One of these things is not like the other...

Hmm...what's missing in this photo of my bike and R's bike? Oh so inspired I was to begin riding my bike, oh so happy to have the freedom it brings, oh so happy to be able to provide my seat to a thief.

I peddled into the train station and cruised on over to the bike rack. After looking at the bike next to mine missing a wheel, (bike tires are an easy target for creepy little criminals) I removed my front tire and locked it with the back tire (using my chain lock) to the bike rack. I looked it over and satisified that my precious 30 Euro investment was safe, proceeded into the train station. I smiled as I took one last glance towards "bikey" and entered the large glass doors.

I came out of the train station and was thinking about how it wouldn't take me 20 minutes to walk home, I would get there in about 6 with the bike. I walked gently to the rack and stopped. Bikey looked different! What was wrong...and then I noticed it, some little (*&%!!@#) had stolen my seat. I was immediately enraged and very "non-peaceful" thoughts entered my mind. I just stood there looking at the poor bike and realized that I couldn't ride it home like that..okay technically I could have but I did not want to. I gave bikey one last sad look before beginning the journey home....on foot.

The next day, I brought R's seat with me to the train station and was able to bring bikey home. I have been using his seat until I purchase one, but a seat is almost the same cost as what I paid for the used bike. I have been riding the bike, locking up the tires and bike and taking the seat with me to work; to the great amusement of my co-workers. I am going to purchase a loooong cable lock so I can lock up the entire bike together just like Pee Wee did in his "Big Adventure"...

06 October, 2006

bicycle, bicycle, fun to ride a bicycle...

Ahhh…..a bicycle…it’s such a simple way to get from here to there, but I have never appreciated the luxury of a bike before!

I purchased my "wheels" from a Norwegian friend the day before I left for Austria. The grey and blue wonder has been sitting patiently in my flat waiting to again be free in the streets of Castellon.

I have been wanting to take it for a spin, but apprehension sets in when I actually consider taking it out from the safety of our foyer...you see, the streets of Castellon are, ummm how do I describe it... well they suck for the cyclist. Spanish drivers basically do not pay attention to any road rules (except for stop lights)….cars pass each other on seemingly impassable streets and busses take up 2 lanes at their leisure, causing cars to sometimes go up on the sidewalks a little to get around...provided there are no cars parked on the sidewalks, which is a common occurrence.

Two days ago, I had a strong urge to take the bike to the University so I could sign up for a classe de Espanol but I chickened out and began the 40 minute walk. I got tired and decided to catch the bus along the way. I stopped at a bus stop and waited with the other students. We waited and waited and finally 15 minutes later (I would have been at school by this time had I continued to walk) a bus approached, but then (as it was totally full) just went on by…the second bus arrived a couple minutes later, but by the time I got to campus, the group had already left for the language school. Not knowing where it was, but knowing the general direction I figured I could find it. I am not sure where my sense of thinking that I can find a place when I actually have no idea where in hell it is, comes from, but although I have failed at this feat many times, I continued on…only to walk back to campus 20 minutes later pissed off and mad at myself for thinking I could find it.

A guy on campus ended up walking me to the language school since he knew where it was, but was unable to describe it to me. As I walked back to my apt. in the heat of the Castellon afternoon, I realized that the mishaps of the morning could have been avoided had I just taken my bike to school. I have learned my lesson.