Saturday, May 31, 2014

What's The Matter With Kids Today?

We are extremely gentle and loving with our kids cats. We have never hit them and, although we may have called out a firm "No!" once or twice when they've been caught clawing the furniture or balancing on the terrace wall, we have never raised our voices to them. After months of patient work with Dudo, he is now a sweet and loving lap-cat. I can hug him and squeeze him, give him kisses on top of his head, clean his face, and still he snuggles. Moose is a harder case when it comes to lap-sitting. But, other than that, they feel safe and secure with us and trust us with all their hearts.

Except if we [try to] pick them up.

MOOSE (LEFT) AND DUDO:  SAFE AND SECURE.

Dudo will spend an hour or more asleep in San Geraldo's lap while we watch TV. Usually, when our show ends, Dudo will grudgingly allow himself to be lifted off San Geraldo's lap and placed back down on the chair. But not yesterday. San Geraldo picked him up. Slowly, quietly, and gently. Dudo panicked. He flew out of San Geraldo's arms and slid across the coffee table — claws bared — removing a substantial amount of wood surface as he went.

WE'VE WANTED A NEW COFFEE TABLE ANYWAY.  GLASS.

After over-shooting the coffee table, Dudo (claws still bared) slid across my upper legs — removing a substantial amount of skin as he went. A minute later — as I bled out — Dudo was back in the living room as if nothing had happened. San Geraldo got ointment and bandages for my legs, which Dudo found fascinating.

BANDAGES REMOVED TODAY:  LEFT LEG...
...AND RIGHT.  ALREADY HUGELY IMPROVED.
"I JUST DON'T KNOW WHAT CAME OVER ME."

This morning, San Geraldo told me he found a fork on the living room rug. He said it must have been sent flying during "the incident."

SAN GERALDO FOUND A FORK ON THE LIVING ROOM RUG.

This afternoon, I walked into the living room and there lay the fork, still on the rug. I checked in with San Geraldo and said, "When you told me this morning that you found a fork on the living room rug, I assumed you picked it up."

He responded, "Oh, no. I only said I found it. I never said I picked it up."

I obviously was not lying Tuesday when I said San Geraldo was my child (click here if you missed it). I have three.

If you want to get right to the song, slide the bar to 1:17. And don't miss the apropos moment at 3:00.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Bikers And Party Girls

As I've mentioned before, Sandpiper is one of our favorite restaurants in Fuengirola (right here in our neighborhood of Los Boliches). Normally, San Geraldo and I prefer more typically Spanish restaurants and fare. Sandpiper is that rare exception. The menu is very English, with quite a bit of Thai and even some American (excellent burgers) and Italian (the best lasagna) thrown in. We have never had a disappointing dish. Everything is fresh and delicious. The portions are huge and the prices are amazingly affordable (downright cheap). The owners, Jason and Ana, are English and Spanish, respectively. And the staff are from around the globe.

ANA, OUT FRONT ONE MORNING.
ALWAYS SMILING... ALWAYS!

The restaurant has a wonderful mix of customers, including a loyal following, with multiple languages spoken. We go to Sandpiper regularly (more than once a week). And, whenever, we're feeling down and need some loving, we're back again. Jessica and Juan Carlos (click here for a reintroduction to "Juanca") are out front in the evenings. They're an exceptional team. No matter how tired, stressed, or depressed we might be when we arrive, we always leave contented, relaxed, well-fed, and feeling loved. The kitchen crew always make a point, when they've got a one-minute breather (it's a very popular place), to pop out and say "hi." But praising Sandpiper was not my intention when I started this post.

The Real Reason
Jason and three other members of the kitchen team, Darren, Lee, and Martyn) are planning an American (U.S. of A.) motorcycle tour — driving cross-country, east to west. They've been teasing Ana and Jessica that they'll party their way across the country stopping in Las Vegas on the way.



Although the saintly Juan Carlos is not going and would never tease Jessica like that, she finally had enough. She told Ana that, while the guys were doing their cruising, she and Ana should go to Las Vegas and have a good old time themselves. And that, of course, got me thinking.

I told Jessica about the all-male revue, Thunder From Down Under. And then I went to work. The finished product is below. It took me a while. I first had to find a good promotional photo for Thunder From Down Under. Once I had photos of the Sandpiper team, I then had to match the guys' heads to the Thunder From Down Under Bodies that matched their real bodies most exactly.

The Thunder From Down Under bodies are waxed and polished to plastic perfection. Jason and Company would never stoop to that level of vanity. Other than that, though, I'm confident the bodies are exact matches. So here now is Ana and Jessica's revenge. (Click to see them in all their glory.)

BACK, LEFT TO  RIGHT: 2 AUSSIES, LEE, AUSSIE, JASONMARTYNDARRENJUAN CARLOSBOATIE.
FRONT: JESSICA (ON ROPE SWING), ANA.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Stop And Smell

After our morning coffee, we hopped on the train and headed to the Foreigner's Office in Málaga for our first pass at our second renewal (of our Spanish residency cards). We walked. A lot. Once we got off the train, I led us the long way instead of the short way. I do that often. I learned it from my sister Dale. Although Dale did it on purpose and I... Well, I just screw up.

Dale and I used to take the subway in Manhattan and, no matter where we were going, she told me we had to get off at 34th Street. Dale's favorite store at the time, Azuma, was located right there. It wasn't until I was out of university and working on 56th Street and Park Avenue that I discovered the subway actually went beyond Azuma.

But I digress (which should be no surprise to anyone who's been here before).

WAITING FOR THE TRAIN TO MÁLAGA.
SWIFTLY FLYING SWIFTS AND SWALLOWS.

After a long walk in the hot sun, San Geraldo and I arrived at the office. There was a friendly guard at the outside gate who asked what we were there for, checked our residency cards, and told us to head through the courtyard. We were met at the door by another guard who was also very friendly. Our conversation with him was a little confusing, but we all laughed and he gave us our ticket numbers and we went and sat down... for an hour and a half. Oh well. The woman who helped us looked tired. But, when she asked if we had any children, San Geraldo said, "no" and I told her he was mine. She flashed a beautiful smile and we were friends. She was exceptionally competent and knowledgeable.

Success! Once the paperwork is filed in Madrid, we'll receive a letter in the mail telling us when to go back with our new photos, and then we'll wait about another 30 days for the new cards. I am, so far, very impressed with the staff and process in Málaga's Foreigner's Office.

We left the office tired, hungry, and happy, and walked back to the center of town for lunch... and just a little shopping. A couple of blocks away from the office was a beautiful church with rose gardens.




The church turned out to be Parroquia de Nuestra Señora de los Ángeles (Parish of Our Lady of the Angels), which seemed appropriate given that our process of becoming residents of Spain began with a first application (click here) in 2011 at the Spanish Consulate in Los Angeles, California. The rose gardens reminded me that San Geraldo once told me to "wake up and smell the roses." I had to explain to him that it was "STOP and smell the roses" and "WAKE UP and smell the coffee." I don't think he understood.

CITY TREES...
IN THE BAOBOB FAMILY?
AN APARTMENT BUILDING IN MÁLAGA.
SAN GERALDO MUTTERED, "THEY OBVIOUSLY DON'T HAVE CYCLONIC WINDS!"

Anyway, we did stop and smell the roses. We also stopped to admire the lush and unusual plantings along the way. Then we had lunch, shopped, and stopped to smell the coffee (and drink it, too) before coming home.

HAVING LUNCH WITH THE PASTRY COUNTER IN VIEW.
NONE FOR SLIMMING SAN GERALDO — DISPLAYING HIS GRUÑON (GRUMPY) FACE.

I wore a fairly new pair of shoes today. I bought them a few months ago and have only worn them a few times. They have now been retired. They were cheap — 9.99 euros. And they ARE cheap. The most uncomfortable shoes I've ever worn.

As my sister Dale used to say, "You pay for what you get." (She and San Geraldo would have gotten along swimmingly.)

YOU PAY FOR WHAT YOU GET AND YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR.


Don't forget to stop and smell the roses ... or the coffee.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

On Being A Boy Toy

As Ellen Degeneres says, "Procrastinate now, don't put it off."

Despite what I told you in my previous post, we decided to wait until next week to start the renewal process for our residency cards. There was just too much to do here. You know, like make the renewal payment at the bank, water plants, play with the cats, go to the beach. Oh, and in my case, get lucky.

I went for a l-o-o-o-o-o-o-n-g walk Friday. More than 10 km (6+ miles). And that included shopping for my first and probably last time at Carrefour (French-owned and similar to Tesco or Walmart) and the main El Corte Inglés department store. I had a great time. Along the way, I got to see the beginnings of Paul Blane's latest project in sand (click here for an earlier work by Paul). The weather was glorious — sunny, warm with a little breeze. High 20sC (high 70sF). I walked much of the way along the Paseo with my T-shirt off and tucked into my waistband. That's how I got lucky.

TAKING THE LONG WAY...


(CLICK ANY OF THE NEXT THREE IMAGES TO ENLARGE)
IT ALL STARTS WITH  HOMER SIMPSON.
PAUL BLANE'S WORK-IN-PROGRESS.
DISCOVERING PUBLIC GARDENS WHERE I LEAST EXPECT THEM.
AFTER CROSSING UNDER THE HIGHWAY.
JACARANDAS IN BLOOM ALL OVER TOWN. 

As I walked by Fuengirola's [ugly and sadly in need of a make-over] port, I passed a couple (who turned out to be English) sitting on a ledge eating sunflower seeds. She was holding the bag of seeds and passing them to him as needed. As I approached, she began to stare at me. He was reaching for the sunflower seeds but she was distracted.

He poked her in the arm and said, "Oy! I'm over here."

She turned and said, "Oh, sorry."

I was far enough away that they didn't realize I could hear them.

He looked over at me and muttered to her, "I got my shirt off, too, ya' know!"

She looked at him, looked back at me, and said, "You do. But you don't look like THAT!"

I smiled as I passed them. She blushed and he poked her in the arm again..

To most eyes, I wouldn't be much of a boy toy. She was probably approaching 80, so everything's relative. But, I'd still like to thank her... From the bottom of my heart.

LOOKING BACK AT MY NEW [POTENTIAL] SUGAR MAMA...

Don't put it off. Listen to the music...  Now.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Here We Come Again

July will be our third anniversary of living in Spain. And that means it's time again to renew our residency cards.
NOTE:
If you're interested in learning (or re-learning) the history of our visas and residency cards, click away where indicated — and in order, if you're like me. If you don't want to spend your time clicking, then just enjoy the music at the end.

Some of you may remember the hoops we jumped through in California in 2011 to obtain our residency visas (click here and here and here). You may also remember the hoops we jumped through to obtain our one-year residency permits when we first arrived in Sevilla (click here and here). You may even remember the hoops we jumped through to renew our permits — for two more years — after our first year in Sevilla (click here). And then the additional hoops when we moved from Sevilla (in Sevilla Province) to Fuengirola (in Málaga Province)  which required us to get new cards (click here). Oh, and how can I forget, my lost wallet and residency card a few months ago (click here and here).

This will be our first time at the Málaga Foreigner's office. I'm hopeful. They actually answer their phone.


So, here we go...

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Let's Pretend That There's A Moon

There really still is a moon up above. It's a waning moon, which means the tides have settled down. San Geraldo and I have been back to the beach. Check out the pictures to see what a difference a day (or two) makes. (Click any image.)

SUNDAY:  SAN GERALDO IN THE WATER... TWICE IN ONE MONTH!
THE FIRST STEP IS A DOOZY.


SATURDAY:  'HE' THOUGHT IT WOULD BE ROMANTIC TO DIE ON THE ROCKS.
FORTUNATELY, 'SHE' DID NOT AGREE AND DRAGGED HIM AWAY BEFORE A WAVE HIT. 
MONDAY AFTERNOON:  GONE FISHING.


SATURDAY:  SURF'S UP.
MONDAY EVENING:  SEA OF TRANQUILITY.


SATURDAY:  COULDN'T EVEN GET CLOSE.
MONDAY EVENING:  A NICE PLACE TO SIT.


SATURDAY:  I NAMED THIS GUY TONTÍN,
(THE SPANISH NAME FOR "DOPEY" OF THE SEVEN DWARFS.)
MONDAY EVENING:  NO SIGN OF THE DOPE.


SATURDAY:  ABOUT TO HEAD HOME.
MONDAY:  A MUCH EASIER SWIM (BUT I WALKED).

Time for the musical interlude... So, let's pretend that there's a moon.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Mid-Evening In The Garden Of Good And Evil

I took another long walk today and came across Fuengirola's Garden of Eden (Jardín del Edén) — in sand. Eve (Eva) apparently wasn't much to look at. (Click any image to enter the Garden.)

BEHIND ADAM: A PRAYING CHERUB AND SATAN.
AND, OF COURSE, A ROMAN TEMPLE IN WATER.
BEHIND EVA: CUPID/EROS.
TOO BAD THEY ALREADY ATE THE APPLE.
THE SCULPTOR CLEARLY HAD MORE INTEREST IN ADAM THAN IN EVA.

As I headed back home, I passed a bar blasting Abba's "Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)." I haven't been able to get the song out of my head. At first I saw no reason to include the music video with this post. Then I took another look at Adam...



And I thought maybe that's exactly what the sculptor had in mind.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

The Colors Of the Sea, And Something Stupid

The surf has been rough for a few days. It's not yet "season," which means there are no lifeguards regularly on duty. So, the flags are not usually flying along the beach. If there had been flags this week, they would have been red. The undertow and riptides are clearly dangerous. The seas have been multi-hued and patterned. Breathtaking. The tides have been so high that the beach clubs have all pulled in their first two or three rows of lounge chairs, which were all swamped yesterday afternoon. The first six photos below were taken yesterday from our terrace. (Click any image for high tide.)







San Geraldo and I took a walk yesterday afternoon. The surf was wild. It was completely overwhelming the fishing jetty not far from the port. We walked out toward the stone jetty for a closer look, but not close enough to be at risk.

NO FISHING...
NO STROLLING.  NO SITTING.

As we marveled at the sea's power and beauty, a guy swaggered out on the jetty. He was lucky he wasn't swept onto the rocks. There was an instructor leading a group of surfers in a nearby bay who called from the water to warn him off. He was ignored. Finally, the jerk strutted proudly by us, chuckling as he went. He seemed disappointed when no one applauded him for his outstanding stupidity. Who, I wondered, would have risked his own skin to fish this guy out of the water?

AND THEN ALONG COMES TONTÍN.
ON THE EDGE...
BARELY KEEPING HIS FOOTING... 

ABOUT TO HEAD HOME.

The sun comes and goes today, so the sea is constantly changing color. The final six photos were taken a short time ago over a period of perhaps four minutes.