Thursday, May 30, 2013

Yabba Dabba Doo

Our town of Fuengirola has its origins in the 10th century BC when it was first settled by the Phoenicians (even before the birth of San Geraldo). But proof of prehistoric civilizations can be found in many other areas of Spain, and I have found proof positive (well in my muddled mind) of stone age inhabitants right here in town. Out on my walk one overcast day (not today, which was "brilliant sunshine" according to Accuweather.com... and me),  I found the original home of Fred and Wilma Flintstone.

AS IT LOOKED IN THE FLINTSTONES' DAY.

AS IT LOOKS NOW. UPDATED OVER THE YEARS.


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Do You Like Good Music? Yeah, Yeah

The street musicians are becoming more regular outside our windows and around town. I've already witnessed some great performers. I recorded a high-energy, talented jazz combo one day down by the marina. The video is very large; one of these days I'll load it and share it. In the meantime, I've decided to share a couple of very brief clips. No need to thank me now. After you hear them, you probably won't want to.

Loungeless Act
This first performer actually has quite a voice. But he reminded me of some of the lounge acts I witnessed in places like Palm Springs, California. He puts his "lounge" on the back of his scooter and walks the paseo in the evening.

THE LOUNGE LIZARD.
video


Oh, Bring Back My Bonnie [Raitt] to Me
As for the next guy, who arrived moments after Loungeless Act departed, he pretended to play "My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean." I was tempted to toss him money from the terrace if he would simply go across the sea to find his Bonnie instead of waiting around for someone to bring her back. But the next time I see him, I'll give him something as a thank-you for the video clip and photo. At the very end of the brief clip, you can hear the best of what this guy had to offer. And that's all I'm saying.

"THE SEA" IS RIGHT ACROSS THE STREET. SHOULD I TELL HIM?
video

Monday, May 27, 2013

Ain't No Bugs On Me

In Italy, mosquitos are called "zanzare." I learned that once and never forgot. In Spain, mosquitos are called "mosquitos." You'd think that would be easy to remember, but it took me the better part of a year. Fly in Spanish is "mosca." I think that added to my confusion.

THERE ARE BUGS ON HIM.

Anyway, I'm allergic to bee stings. Deathly allergic. I'm also allergic to other insect bites, but just locally (so far). And there may be some correlation between my allergy and my attractiveness to biting insects. I'm the perfect insect repellant — for everyone else in the vicinity. If I'm in a room with 10 people and one mosquito, the other 10 people will probably be safe. On the other side is San Geraldo, who can watch a mosquito bite him and have absolutely no reaction.

PERFECT PLACE FOR THE FLEA CIRCUS.

I swell and itch, sometimes for weeks. Spanish mosquitos seem to be a little less cruel to my immune system. I only swell and itch for days, not weeks. Fortunately, since leaving Connecticut in 1993, San Geraldo and I have not lived in environments with quite the abundance of mosquitos. Still, if there's one around it's bound to find me and only me. Lately I've been awakened during the night to find I've been scratching a new bite. Sometimes, there's a little buzzing near my ear. But these Spanish mosquitos don't seem to alight as readily and even the cats give up on catching them.

THE CIRCUS IS IN TOWN.

Recently, I had a few sleepless nights in the company of a mosquito and, given my already dismal mood, I sure didn't need to add lack-of-sleep to my reasons to be miserable. So now I've got some handy insect repellant bedside. The fragrance isn't all that bad or all that strong. I've gone two days without a new mosquito bite. And, unlike the poor sand hound currently lounging on the nearby beach, I'm not home to an entire flea circus.

Another Old Story of the Saint
Our first summer living together, San Geraldo and I had an un-air-conditioned apartment in Beacon Hill, Boston. The window screens were old and frayed and not of much use. One night, San Geraldo awoke to the sound of a mosquito flying around the bedroom. In the heat — and as is my usual preference anyway — I was lying on top of the sheets totally nude. I was sound asleep. The always thoughtful (although perhaps not always thinking) San Geraldo did not want my sleep (nor my next two weeks) ruined by the mosquito, so, careful to not disturb my sleep, he got out of bed and retrieved the mosquito repellant (Deep Woods OFF!) from the bathroom. Without making a sound, he stood at the foot of the bed and sprayed.

The first ice-cold burst hit my bare butt. I yowled and flew straight into the air like some cartoon character. Once I landed, I turned to find San Geraldo still standing at the foot of the bed, still holding the can of spray aimed in my direction. He had the abashed expression of a four-year-old who didn't mean to do it and had just learned a really valuable lesson.

"Oops?" was all he said.


Thursday, May 23, 2013

Tapas, Cortados, and Strawberry Slushie

The other day, we returned to a local tapas bar called Bar Pepe. San Geraldo had read about it online, but we hadn't tried it until our friends Jorunn and Jesper were here to visit last month. The place doesn't look like much from the outside, just a simple little café/bar. But the food is out of this world. The warm welcome and unbelievably good (and cheap) tapas make up for the ordinary facade. We've been back twice since our first visit. Every dish I've sampled has been my "new favorite."

FISH CAKE.
PAELLA.
STUFFED MUSHROOM CAP.
SKEWERED CHICKEN.


Coffee
Summer is here... almost. I sizzled on the beach after breakfast this morning but, wuss that I am, the water is still too cold for me to swim. So I cooled my feet (and up to my knees now) at the shore. In honor of summer, we've switched to iced coffee when we have breakfast at Cafe Manila. That means we get served our usual large cortados (espresso cut with warm milk) with a side of ice. San Geraldo, the chef in our family, then does the "cooking." He manages to pour the contents of the coffee cup into the coffee glass without spilling a drop. I'm in awe.

GENIUS AT WORK.
AMAZING.

Strawberry Slushie
This morning back at Cafe Manila, our cortados (and ice) were served to us by the always-sweet Slushie (click for the introductory post). She had her hair done yesterday. She calls it "strawberry slushie," but I find it a bit more "red hot chili pepper slushie." I'm thinking it might look good on my "flavor-saver/soul patch." (If you're anything like San Geraldo, you'll need that phrase defined: It's the patch of facial hair below the mouth.)

OUR STRAWBERRY SLUSHIE.
MY STRAWBERRY FLAVOR-SAVER.
WHAT DO YOU THINK?

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Oh, I Wish That I Could Be

If you've been following me for a while, you might remember that I've got a problem with clinical depression. I've been going through lots of ups and downs in recent months. When I'm going through a depression, even a mild one, morning is my most challenging time of day. I give myself pep talks and keep myself busy. Sometimes that works. Other times (like this past Saturday), I have breakfast and go back to bed. But that's an improvement over years past. Before San Geraldo, I wouldn't even bother with breakfast.

HAPPY FAMILY.
DON'T LOOK UNDER THE BED; THERE ARE SKELETONS IN THE CLOSET.
(CLICK TO ENLARGE ON THE IRONY.)

Late afternoons are fine, unless I'm in a rock-bottom depression, which I'm not. Right now, at this very moment, I'm fine. Better than fine. Right now, I'm great. But it's already nearly 9:30 p.m. I obviously need to find ways to give the brain chemistry a jump-start first thing in the morning. Like everyone, I've lived a life filled with challenges. But, I've been very fortunate and many will say I should be grateful for all I have. I am grateful. But still...

I KNOW EXACTLY HOW HE FEELS.

I took a walk yesterday to the Fuengirola history museum. I couldn't find the entrance. When I did, I learned the museum was closed for the day. So, I crossed the street and strolled the zoo. It didn't really help, especially when I found one of my "friends" in the same sort of funk.


YES. THIS IS WHAT I HAVE TO COMPLAIN ABOUT.

Today, the sun was shining and there was only the slightest breeze. I went to the beach in the afternoon. By the time I got downstairs, the wind had picked up and with it came the clouds. Lots of clouds. But then I did a dance to get my towel down in the wind and get myself on top of it and I found it funny. Clearly, I'm coming out of my funk. So, more explorations and more stories to come.


Tellingly, "Richard Cory" was one of my favorite poems (and then songs) when I was a kid.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Understanding San Geraldo

This morning at breakfast, San Geraldo tried to tell me about a Youtube video he had just seen. Someone had done a selection of songs.

"You know the show," he said. "Oh! I'm drawing a blank."

I stared vacantly. He wasn't giving me much to go on.

"The Hermit in the Cathedral!" he exclaimed.


I tilted my head and looked at him. I knew there would be more.

He held his hand vertically in front of his face, thumb toward his nose, and sliced downward curving his hand in an "S" as he did so.

"The Phantom of the Opera?" I asked.

"That's it!"

"The Hermit in the Cathedral?" I questioned.

"Well, it was close."

"Yeah," I said, "You got the word 'The' right."

At that moment, Tynan came walking by. San Geraldo, who has no shame, told Tynan what he had just said.

Tynan thought a moment and commented,"Well, it does take place in a cathedral."

I looked at him askance, "Are you maybe thinking of 'Hunchback of Notre Dame'?"

Before turning to walk away, he smiled sheepishly and said,"Carry on."

SAN GERALDO ORIGINATING THE ROLE OF "'THE HERMIT" (IN THE CATHEDRAL).

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Grandma and Grandpa Go to the Beach

I didn't know my paternal grandparents at all well. My grandmother died before my second birthday. I remember that she was very kind, but I was shy (believe it or not) and would hide behind my mother while being coaxed out with raspberry-filled hard candies (hard candies are what we New Yorkers called "sucking candies"). I only ever had those candies at my grandparents' house, and I loved them. Interestingly, that's one of my earliest memories.

Unlike my maternal grandparents, who had seven children over the course of 18 years (a total of 13 pregnancies, I think), my father's parents had only three children over the course of seven years. I think it gave them a bit more time for fun when they were young, because there are plenty of pictures of them at the beach or dressed for a costume party.

My mother gave me an old photo album that belonged to my father. The album contains loads of pictures from my father's teen and army years, as well as some photos of his parents. I found several photos taken at Coney Island some time around 1920, either before or right after my grandparents were married (but clearly before there were kids). They look a little wild. Obviously, my family has always liked the beach.

GRANDPA.
MY GRANDFATHER ON LEFT.
IN FRONT OF ONE OF CONEY ISLAND'S HISTORIC BATH HOUSES.
MY GRANDMOTHER ON LEFT.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

This Seat Taken

It's tough living in paradise. I bruised my leg last week (and, par for my course, I have no idea how; it might have happened one of the 17 times I slammed my shin into the corner of the bed frame). My thigh and calf were very sore to the touch and my ankle was swollen. There were a couple of black and blue marks. It's almost completely better now, but I tried to give it a couple day's rest. I thought I'd sit on the terrace in the sunshine and read. Dudo and Moose had been relaxing outside for some time. They have both amazingly learned the rules of the terrace and they even come inside when called (well mostly). On this particular day, Dudo saw me aiming for the chaise in the sun and he raced me to it. I was in shorts, so he wouldn't sit on my lap (nor would I want him to). I asked him to move. He wouldn't. The lounge chair around the corner was in the shade. I was forced to go down to the beach. Favoring my leg as I was, I ended up bruising the ball of my foot. Like I said, it's tough living in paradise.

"WHERE ARE YOU GONNA SIT?"
THE SHADEY SIDE.
I WAS EVENTUALLY EXILED TO THE BEACH.
(CLICK TO SEE HOW I SUFFERED, BIG-TIME.)
"GOOD VIEW FROM HERE."
LOOKS LIKE HE PLANS TO BE THERE A WHILE.
FULL BODY TREATMENT.
CLEARLY SETTLING IN. NAP TIME.
"OH, ARE YOU STILL HERE?"
THE GQ POSE.
TRYING TO GET A LITTLE COLOR IN HIS CHEEKS.
THIS IS WHEN I GAVE UP.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The Bus Tour

I should have known something was wrong as I pointed out Fuengirola's castle to San Geraldo. We were on the bus returning from the big shopping mall in town. The castle had at first been in the distance and was suddenly on the hill directly above us. I've walked to the castle a couple of times and knew it was further from home than the shopping mall. Even San Geraldo, who had never seen the castle, knew we were supposed to be heading away from it.



We had taken public transportation to the mall. Bus Line #4. For our return, without thinking, we hopped on Bus Line #1. The woman in front of us overheard our conversation. She turned around and said, "Not to worry. It goes this way first and then loops back around." She got off the bus at the next stop.

The bus got on the highway and headed west along the coast for quite some distance. Then, we turned off the highway and into the foothills. And then we took a very winding road. Fortunately, we only wound around a couple of minutes — just long enough for us to both think about the motion-sickness pill San Geraldo would have taken had we known we were going on a bus tour. We returned to the highway and headed back along the coast to Fuengirola. It turns out we weren't much more than 5 km (3 miles) from town. We now know we can take either Bus Line #4 or #1 to the shopping mall. And we got to ride on "new road" (for us). Our great adventure.







Monday, May 13, 2013

Speaking of Beaches

San Geraldo and I went for a 4-km (2.5-mile) walk along the paseo yesterday afternoon. All along the way are beach clubs of sorts where you can rent a lounge chair and an umbrella. The staff usually speak multiple languages (at some level) to cater to the international tourists. The international tourists quite often haven't even attempted to learn to say "thank you" in Spanish. But that's another story. 

The clubs are all pleasant and some are a bit more elegant than others. There are little boardwalks placed on the sand, landscaped entrances, archways, "services" (aka, toilets), and several of the clubs actually smooth the sand every morning using what looks like a giant, wooden, toothless rake. I'm sure it has a name, but I don't know it. Besides, I like the natural look better.

NOTE THE SMOOTH FLAT SAND ON THE LEFT. 

The languages spoken vary. Spanish, of course, and English are the most common. But, quite often staff speak some Finnish, German, and French, among others, as you'll soon see. One of the places we passed yesterday was Playa Ronda Paco. A very nice-looking beach, and the staff apparently speak three languages.

THAT'S MORE THAN I CAN CLAIM.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Happy Dowager Duchess Day

Wishing a very happy Mother's Day (in the USA) to The Dowager Duchess, our joy and inspiration.

With love from her Boys from Spain.

BROOKLYN, 1944.
SOMEWHERE IN NEW YORK, 1946.
WASHINGTON, D.C., LABOR DAY WEEKEND, 1947.
BROOKLYN, 1955.
NORTH MASSAPEQUA, 1957.
ON A LAKE (SOMEWHERE), 1958 OR 1959.
MY FATHER ROWED (MY SISTER HELPED). WE JUST LOOKED GOOD.
FAMILY VACATION. MAASTRICHT, THE NETHERLANDS, 1975.
AT HOME IN BROOKLYN, 1994.
(A PARTY HOSTED BY THE DUCHESS ON OUR FIRST VISIT FROM SAN DIEGO.)
GENIUS (AND PERPETUAL STUDENT) AT WORK.
THE BOYS FROM SPAIN, THE DUCHESS AND AUNT SYLVIE, SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA, 1997.
THE ALWAYS-BEAUTIFUL DOWAGER DUCHESS, 2013.
(FROM A RECENT BLOG POST.)