Monday, December 30, 2013

After Eight

I don't know what was supposed to happen "After Eight," but I don't feel any different after all thirty-two.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

The Face Of A Child

“The face of a child can say it all...
Especially the mouth part of the face.”
— Jack Handey

AND I QUOTE: "UT-OHHHHHH!"
(AYLA, MY SECOND COUSIN ONCE-REMOVED... TOO FAR AWAY IN CALIFORNIA.)

Friday, December 27, 2013

Hey, Big Spender

San Geraldo went shopping the other day. First stop was Ana Crespillo's produce market. Then he dropped off the goods at home and headed back out to the supermarket.

San Geraldo always loads up two large reusable shopping bags at Ana's. This time, he came home with two additional bags, as well. He plans to start baking holiday goodies. We have the benefit here in Spain of extending the holiday through the Day of the Three Kings on January 6 (the traditional Spanish day to exchange gifts), which means San Geraldo isn't officially late with his baking. However he is, as usual, spending (to my mind) a small fortune. Added to the fact that the ingredients for many of his baked goods are expensive, there was Christmas dinner-for-two to prepare.

At the supermarket San Geraldo found a big expensive poularde and brought it home. Who knew poularde was simply a big fat, fatty chicken that had had its ovaries removed so it would never lay an egg? Well, maybe you did (especially you French chefs), but I sure didn't. I didn't know if it was a small turkey, jumbo chicken, or medium goose. San Geraldo prepared it beautifully, but we won't be having it again. Much fattier than we've become used to. I didn't complain because the chicken was truly good and he made a dressing filled with pine nuts. And I never complain about anything with pine nuts.

DEE-LICIOUS.

There was a sauce with the most plump and sweet apricots and prunes, and the unbelievably good dressing was simply bread and two black truffles. San Geraldo had never had black truffles. So he bought a small jar. They did have a spectacularly rich, full flavor. But 9 euros for two truffles that weren't chocolate? I was in shock.

San Geraldo just now returned yet again from the supermarket. He came home with another container of truffles, thankfully not another 9-euro container. Still, an extravagance. But I'm not complaining.

TWICE AS LARGE AS THE BLACK TRUFFLES. EIGHT TIMES AS MANY IN THE CONTAINER
NOT CHEAP, BUT A MUCH MORE RATIONAL EXPENDITURE, I THINK.

We don't have a lot of money. And, obviously, we don't wisely spend what we do have. I can't say we'll never be able to afford to retire, because we already have. But I'm thinking one of us (San Geraldo) may have to go back to work. However, as long as I'm being honest with you (and I'm always honest with you), the only reason I even wrote this post was because I wanted you to see the below informative video about Australian investment opportunities. This could be money well spent.


Thursday, December 26, 2013

Another One Bites The Dust

O, CRUEL WINTER.
We went to bed Christmas Eve with visions of sugar plums dancing in our heads and we woke during the night with visions of a "twister" picking us up and dropping us back in Kansas (because we've already been over the rainbow).

San Geraldo's cyclonic winds were back. Stronger than ever. About 4 a.m., I heard some odd rattling. Two of our three yuccas are in the protected, front corner of the terrace. One is not. However, it's wired to the wall in two places. Where could it possibly go?

Where could it possibly go? Down. The strongly wired yucca could possibly go down.

I heard a crash followed by the musical sound of cascading stones hitting the tile floor.

The stones, by the way, have worked really well at keeping the soil from blowing out of the pots. Except when the entire pot is blown over. But at least the stones, unlike the soil, stay where they land. 

AND ANOTHER ONE BITES THE DUST.

It was raining fairly heavily through the night, so I decided to wait until sunrise to right the yucca. I hooded up and braved the rain at about 7 a.m. I righted three other large plants, as well. Those are low and heavy and designed to never blow over.



The winds came and went throughout Christmas Day and continued through the night. The yucca bit the dust again. San Geraldo righted it this morning in beautiful sunshine.

A MUCH NICER MORNING FOR RIGHTING A YUCCA.

Hello. My Name is Stupid.
When I was taking this morning's 'happy pill' I noticed that the dosage read 50 mg when it's supposed to be 100 mg. It turns out I got the wrong dosage at the pharmacy last month. I'm sure it was my own fault. Prescriptions aren't required for non-narcotics and I probably brought in an empty box to show what I needed refilled. The wrong empty... Oddly, the pills look identical (but the dosage is marked on the side). So, I've been taking half my dosage for nearly a month. Just give me some more chocolate.

(Oh, I know for certain that by referring to myself as "Stupid," I'm going to be in big trouble with San Geraldo. But, as our niece Sara once said in her expertly delivered "woe-is-me" style, "I'm not well!")


Speaking of Biting the Dust
The treats purchased Monday are quickly disappearing. Only one [large] bar of chocolate remains.

Oh, and the two chocolate bars made by Ana Crespillo's brother.

Well, then there's a box of After Eight mints given to us yesterday by Slushee, Darren, and Antony. I suppose I don't need to worry just yet about going into withdrawal.


Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Not Your Traditional Noche Buena

Noche Buena means Christmas Eve. Papa Noel (Santa Claus) was not all that common or popular in Sevilla. Traditionally, The Three Kings are the ones who deliver the presents — and then, not until January 6.

PAPA NOEL IN FUENGIROLA.

Here in Fuengirola, however, with the huge mix of cultures and nationalities, Papá Noel makes his rounds Christmas Eve followed by the Three Kings on their usual day in January.

CAFE MANILA'S SLUSHEE (OR MAMA NOEL).

At Cafe Manila today, Slushee wanted the entire staff to wear Santa hats or reindeer antlers while they worked. It's something I'm told she wants every year. And not everyone cooperates.

RICHARD NOEL...
TYNAN SCROOGE.

The seasonal sights of Fuengirola. (Click the below images for a closer look.)

MUMMY, IS THAT YOU?  CONSTITUTION PLAZA.
ANOTHER ICED-UP TREE.  IN FRONT OF CITY HALL.
POINSETTIAS ARE PLANTED ALL OVER THE CITY.
(THEY'RE CALLED FLOR DE PASCUA, CHRISTMAS FLOWER.)
SUNDAY: ANOTHER GENIUS AT WORK.
MONDAY: THE FINISHED PRODUCT. (NOTE THE CLOCK TOWER, BOTTOM CENTER.)

It took me two entire days last week. But I finished all my chocolate treats.

NO MORE...
EMPTY...
ALL GONE...
APPARENTLY, THIS CAN BE RESEALED TO KEEP THE CONTENTS FRESH FOR DAYS.
NOW, WHY WOULD THAT BE NECESSARY?

So, yesterday, when I was out on my long meander, I picked up a couple of boxes (two large bars per box) of turrón as a treat for myself (one turrón doesn't even have chocolate). San Geraldo was out grocery shopping at the time. He didn't know about my turrón, so he picked up more treats for me. (I didn't bring home anything for him.)  This morning, San Geraldo stopped off to pick up a few things at the fruit market. Ana sent home gifts for me, too. More chocolate! You'd think I'd be smiling all the time...

THIS SHOULD LAST A FEW DAYS. (CLICK IF YOU'RE A CHOCOHOLIC.)
FROM ANA AND FAMILY...  FRESH CHOCOLATE MADE BY ANA'S BROTHER.
(DARK CHOCOLATE WITH RUM-SOAKED RAISINS; WHITE CHOCOLATE WITH LEMON AND WALNUTS)


And finally, another Christmas tradition...

Monday, December 23, 2013

Beach Blanket Bethlehem

My favorite sand sculptor is back on the beaches of Fuengirola. Paul Blane, creator of, among other things, last year's "Last Supper" (click here to see that inspired work), has produced his own version of the Nativity.

BAA.  BAA.  BAA.

Paul's talent and skills are impressive and his obvious sense of humor charms me every time. He knows how to tell a story. He's usually traveling during spring and summer for international competitions and to do custom-ordered work. Click here to check out his website. Winters are usually spent back in Fuengirola, so I'm looking forward to seeing this season's new creations.

(CLICK THE FOLLOWING THREE IMAGES FOR A CLOSER LOOK.)
LEFT...
CENTER...
AND RIGHT. 

Today I told Paul I would love to learn his sculpting technique (the inspiration and creativity are another matter). He said I could apprentice with him... as long as I don't mind hauling water. Seriously.

It's tempting...

But those full buckets are heavy...

And it's a really long walk back from the surf.

THE ARTIST RELAXING IN HIS STUDIO.  I WAS IN A T-SHIRT.
(IT MUST GET COLD SITTING IN THE LATE AFTERNOON SHADE.)

Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Big, Bright Green Pleasure Machine

I always loved the idea of a big, bright green pleasure machine. Simon & Garfunkel said they could eliminate my pain. I was a starving student when the song came out and couldn't afford to buy the machine, no matter how "reasonable" the price. Lately, I've tried finding one on eBay. No luck. So, we painted the walls instead. But not bright green. Still, it helps. (Click any of the images to make the pleasure machine bigger.)


BEFORE.

OUR NOT SO BIG, BUT BRIGHT AND SUNNY GREEN, PURPLE, AND YELLOW PLEASURE MACHINE.







Friday, December 20, 2013

Back To The Outhouse

In case yesterday's quick video (click here) didn't give you a clear enough view, here's a close-up still photo of that very moving moment in Bethlehem.


CLICK TO ENLARGE.
(GO AHEAD.  I DARE YOU.)

Thursday, December 19, 2013

A Movement of Biblical Proportions

I took a long, vigorous walk today. It felt great... until it was done. I'm pleased I was able to at least push myself out the door.

I've finished the box of dark chocolate truffles (click here for yesterday's post). I've got 9 of the 16 Ferrero Rocher truffles remaining, and both chocolate bars. I think I've shown amazing self-restraint. However, I consumed almost the entire box of dark chocolate truffles within about five minutes after lunch today. In hindsight, maybe not such a good idea. (I'm feeling just a bit queasy right now, but it's gratifying to know my stomach has learned to speak to me in Spanish.)

On my way home, after viewing a special exhibit on Isabel and Ferdinand at the Museum of Fuengirola History, I stopped to admire a display in a shop selling an amazing collection of Christmas Nativity scenes. I always especially love the mechanical figures.

EXCEPTIONAL DETAIL. (CLICK FOR A CLOSER LOOK.)

AND LOTS OF MOVING PARTS...
video


As I mentioned, I really love the things that move. But, today, I saw a movement in the window that left me speechless.

Watch the second video to see what could be left under your tree.

video

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Bottle of Wine (Fruit of the Vine)

When San Geraldo and I lived in Washington, D.C., we had a huge apartment in an elegant old rent-controlled building in Georgetown. We were in our late 20s (me) and early 30s (him). The person who worked the desk in the lobby was a gay man named William. He was an "older man." (At least 45.)

William liked me. Any time I saw him, I would say, "Hi. How are you today, William?,"to which he would always respond with a devilish smile and a rich Southern drawl, "So-so a minute ago. But, better now."

I'm working on "better now" myself. Clinical Depression sucks and it seems I will never accept that I can't completely control it. But I love my psychiatrist. I saw him this morning. We're adjusting med doses and will see how that goes.

SEEN OUTSIDE A CAFE IN FUENGIROLA THIS MORNING.
US MAIL BOX, ORANGE JUICE SIGN IN ENGLISH... OBVIOUSLY NOT FROM AROUND HERE.
(CLICK ANY IMAGE TO ENLARGE.)

On the way home, we stopped off at the fruit market and saw Ana and Laura Crespillo, and team member, Miguel. Miguel isn't a relation but he's clearly a member of the family.

MIGUEL AND ANA.
HOW COULD I DO ANYTHING BUT SMILE?

Laura immediately poured me a glass of "Malaga Wine" She poured one for San Geraldo (knowing he barely drinks and doesn't like sweet wine). He tasted it, made a face, was given grapes to get rid of the taste... and I had a second glass of wine (as Laura intended). Then there were whole almonds dipped in dark Belgian chocolate. And plump dried figs. And enormous dates. Being around these wonderful people sure perked me up... although I was stuffed and kind of tipsy for the walk home.

MALAGA WINE/VINO DULCE/SWEET WINE/SWEET SHERRY.
CALL IT WHAT YOU LIKE, JUST CALL ME WHEN YOU POP ONE OPEN.

When I'm depressed, I crave chocolate. While I drank my — and San Geraldo's — wine, Laura set aside two bars of freshly made chocolate, but she had to run off before we were checked out by Miguel and the chocolate didn't make it into the bag. So, when San Geraldo went grocery shopping this evening, I asked him to pick up a bar of chocolate for me.

San Geraldo never does what I ask him to do. I made a simple request for one bar of milk chocolate. Did he meet my simple request? Of course not!

He arrived home, and made me close my eyes because he had a surprise for me. A box of dark chocolate truffles (my favorite).  

"Close them again. I have another surprise." A box of Ferrero Rocher (my very favorite). 

"Close them again. There's more." A milk chocolate bar filled with orange cream (my absolute favorite).

"One more time." A bar of milk chocolate filled with caramel (my all-time favorite).

THIS SHOULD LAST ME THE HALF HOUR UNTIL DINNER.

So-so a minute ago. But better now.


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

I Hate Christmas

It must be a holiday slump. Most people suffer from it. Unfortunately, as you've been learning, I slump throughout the year. There's always some lame excuse, I mean good reason. I don't know what I do for you, but I sure get tired of myself some days.

I really don't hate Christmas. It's just been a bad day... this month.

No Christmas tree(s) this year because of the damned, I mean dear cats.

I could at least decorate the house a bit. That might perk me up.

I've been planning to put out some of the unbreakable decorations (or those un-appealing to Dudo and Moose), like our collection of Papa Noels (aka Santa Claus), but haven't gotten around to it. I was waiting for the painting to be finished, the new slip covers to be done, and the house to be put back together. I have no idea what I'm waiting for now. The second coming? Never mind...  I'll just play some appropriate Christmas music.




I'll head into Málaga one afternoon this week to check out the lights and decorations. That will help. Meanwhile, I'm going through old photos to bring back some of that Christmas magic. I found these two from the seven months we lived in Marina Del Rey (near Los Angeles, California). Not only does it show the fun I had with the holiday, it also shows that I actually did cook.

Well, crap, if you're going to nit-pick... San Geraldo "cooked." I decorated. But still...

CHRISTMAS 1982, MARINERS VILLAGE: SHAG CARPET. GRASS CLOTH WALLS.
THIS PLACE JUST SCREAMED THE '70s.
I WAS ESPECIALLY FOND OF LADY GODIVA (UPPER LEFT) AND THE GUY TO HER RIGHT IN THE IZOD POLO.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Back From The Airport With African Spears

Today was a beautiful day here in Fuengirola. Thursday was similar.

Tuesday and Wednesday? Beautiful in their own way, but I thought we might be blown into the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Since the exteriors of all our windows are easily accessible from the terrace, I wash them regularly. I don't want anything to limit our brilliant view. Monday afternoon the view was crystal clear. By Thursday morning, we were once again looking through smoked glass. No damage, just dust, sand, and sea. But I guess I'll wash the windows again tomorrow.

THE VIEW THROUGH GLASS WEDNESDAY EVENING. ROUGH SEAS AND HEAVY WINDS.
THE VIEW THURSDAY MORNING.
(CLICK TO ENLARGE THE ABOVE IMAGES.)

We rented a car Thursday and did some shopping. First, to IKEA to pick up new slip covers for the living room furniture. We're keeping it cheap and simple. No reason to invest like we used to in good fabrics (and better furniture). Dudo, especially, hasn't caught on to the concept of the scratching post. Why bother when we offer these other options? (Moose has been pretty good.)  So, new covers and a bunch of cheap polar throws. We'll keep trying to educate the cats, especially Dudo.

SOME PROTECTION AT €3.50 A "THROW."

We had never driven to IKEA before. It's only about 15 minutes away. Unless you pass it by on the highway and take the next exit. And then, instead of taking the right fork, you take the left fork... Which steers you directly through the airport. Anyway, we chose the departures ramp. And we then quickly departed.

MÁLAGA AIRPORT. THANKFULLY QUIET.
OUR VERY BRIEF "TASTE OF ANDALUSIA."
AND THEN A QUICK TRIP BY THE OLD TERMINAL BUILDING.
TEN MINUTES LATER... IKEA. 

After a successful shop at IKEA (and our free airport roundtrip), we drove over to the garden center to pick up a couple of large pots for two house plants that have become a bit cramped. While there (and not looking for any more plants) we discovered a variety of Sansevieria (aka Mother-in-law's tongue, aka Snake Plant) that we had never seen before. It's called Sansevieria Cylindrica (aka African Spear) and, yes, it's cylindrical. My father brought a small planter to my mother the day I was born. In it were a collection of plants, including a Sansevieria. My mother still has a pot of it from that original plant. It's a sweet memory, so I had to have this new (to me) version. It will sit happily I hope in the bedroom window along with our mangos (one growing, one starting).

SANSEVIERIA CYLINDRICA.
CAT PRINTS FROM THE DUSTY TERRACE ON THE (CLEANED DAILY) DRESSER.
IT'S LIKE SO TOTALLY TUBULAR.
AFRICAN SPEARS AMID THE MANGOS (AND PIGS).
(CLICK FOR A CLOSER LOOK.)

We didn't forget the large pots we needed. San Geraldo had already transplanted two other house plants, so before leaving the house I carefully measured one of those pots. At the garden center, I held up the same measurer I had used at home and said, "This is perfect." Well, it wasn't. The pots are one size too large, but San Geraldo says they'll do. Next time I might use a tape measure (instead of my foot).

"NO PROBLEM. IT'S ABOUT 1-1/2 OF MY FOOT....
... MÁS O MENOS."  (MORE OR LESS)

THE PAINTING IS DONE.
A LITTLE TEASER UNTIL THE FURNITURE IS RE-COVERED. (CLICK TO ENLARGE.)