Saturday, November 30, 2013

El Tormento (of Moose)

Many of you have the impression that I play favorites with our cats. You think that because I share so many photos of Dudo I prefer him over Moose. That's absolutely not true. I love both cats equally. The biggest reason why I share so many pictures and stories about Dudo is because he loves the limelight. When he sees the camera, he poses. On the other hand (paw?), when Moose sees the camera, he gives me a dirty look and turns his back. Sometimes, he just walks away muttering things I won't repeat here. Kind of like San Geraldo when he sees me with the camera... except that San Geraldo doesn't have such a colorful vocabulary.

DUDO: "IF I DO THIS, WILL YOU GIVE ME A TREAT."
MOOSE: "CALL ME WHEN THE DAMN FOOD IS READY."
MOOSE: "YES. I HEAR YOU.   NO, I WILL NOT TURN AROUND."
DUDO: "WHATCHA DOIN'?
MOOSE: "OH MAN!  WHAT THE HELL DO YOU THINK HE'S DOIN'?  I AM SO OUTA HERE!" 
DUDO: "LEFT OVER RIGHT OK?  OR SHOULD WE TRY RIGHT OVER LEFT?
MOOSE: "SERENITY NOW!!!"
DUDO: "IS THIS A GOOD ANGLE?"
MOOSE: "IS NOWHERE SAFE IN THIS FR!@#IN' HOUSE?!?"
MOOSE: "WHY DON'T YOU TRY A CLOSE-UP OF THIS?!?"
MOOSE: "STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IT!!!"

Friday, November 29, 2013

Charles De Gaulle's Hat

We had the pleasure of meeting friends Tynan and Elena for coffee on a very windy Thursday morning this week. We met them once last week, as well; it was cool that day, but still nice enough to sit outside. Not so yesterday. Tynan and Elena live near the park created around the Roman ruins (click here to read about my "discovery" of the park) and there's a charming jazz bar and café (El Jazzy Bar) alongside the park.

Elena is originally from Northern Spain and Tynan is originally from the English Midlands. Elena speaks beautifully precise and expressive English. As for Tynan... well, as I said, Tynan is from the English Midlands. No one — except other people from the Midlands, perhaps — is exactly sure what language it is Tynan speaks.

I have an ear for different accents. San Geraldo does not. Tynan speaks and I then translate most of what he says. Tynan has a very quick and sometimes wicked (OK, and sometimes weird) sense of humor. After he makes a witty remark or tells a little joke, I have to translate it into American English for San Geraldo. I then usually have to explain it to him. Sometimes, I listen to Tynan and then just turn to San Geraldo and say, "Never mind."

A HOPEFUL EGRET AMONG THE RUINS OF THE ROMAN FISH-SALTING PLANT.

A few months back, while Tynan was at work at Café Manila and San Geraldo and I were enjoying our coffees, he breezed by and asked, "Do you know why Charles De Gaulle had Greek letters on his hat?"

"No," I said. "Why?"

"Because he'd have looked stupid with French ones." And he was off to another table.

I didn't get the joke. First: I didn't know there were Greek letters on Charles De Gaulle's hat. And, B: I had no idea why the hat would look stupid with French letters. The guy was French.

SITTING OUTSIDE LAST WEEK AT EL JAZZY BAR.

I went home and read everything I could find on Charles De Gaulle, his hat, Greek letters. Nothing! This morning I finally remembered to ask Tynan for an explanation.

Tynan explained that in England, condoms are often called "French letters." (It's true. I looked it up. Don't ask me why, though. Everyone has a theory.) OK. So I now I get that part. Yes, De Gaulle would have looked stupid with condoms on his hat.

I then said, "I never knew Charles De Gaulle had Greek letters on his hat. What were they?"

Tynan said, "Oh, he might not have had any. But the decoration looked a bit Greek."

At this point, Elena and San Geraldo both groaned.

A VIEW THIS WEEK OF THE PARK FROM THE WIND-FREE SAFETY OF EL JAZZY.

But, I don't want you to leave thinking Tynan is nothing more than someone who has a peculiar way of speaking and tells bad jokes. From the first day we met him, he made us feel welcome and at home in Fuengirola. He's interesting, intelligent, charming; an adoring father to his son and daughter; he and Elena have an admirable relationship; and, well, OK, he talks funny and tells some really bad jokes. Groaners.

I'LL HAVE TO CHECK OUT THE JAZZ (AND AN "AUTENTICO MOJITO") SOME NIGHT.

This Week
Tynan very quickly rattled off the following (it has to be said quickly for full effect). Elena, having heard it before, harrumphed in disgust. I laughed out loud. I translated it into American English for San Geraldo. Another groan. Some people just don't appreciate Tynan's fine wit.

Tynan: "I went to the doctor and said, 'I have a cold.' He said, 'Flu?' I said, "No, I walked."

Ba-Dum-Bump

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Tormented By La Tormenta

The winds have been blowing in Fuengirola for a little more than two days. The seas are rough and continue to get rougher. I think it's breathtaking. San Geraldo does not. He hates the "evil," "cyclonic" winds, which is why he so likes the fact that what we're seeing is actually called "la tormenta" (the storm), his new favorite Spanish word. It makes no difference to him that "torment" in Spanish is actually "tormento" (ending with an "o" instead of an "a"). (Increase the torment by clicking on the images.)

RISING SEAS TUESDAY AFTERNOON.
MY INCREDIBLE WALK ON THE BEACH BEFORE THE WINDS BLEW IN.
ALMOST HOME TUESDAY AFTERNOON.

I'll admit, the winds have been a bit fearsome. That big yucca was blown over again this morning (at 5:45). This time, the wire securing it was snapped. We picked it up and hauled it and a bunch of plants over to the sheltered corner of the terrace in front of the living room doors. We're thinking we'll glass-in (with accordion-type windows) the side terrace and resolve the "cyclonic winds" issue.

THURSDAY MORNING 7 A.M. ONE YUCCA GONE (BUT NOT TOO FAR).

So, while I constantly stare with awe at the spectacular and awesome sea and skies, San Geraldo closes his shutters, puts on his headphones, and turns up the music to block out the "frightening and destructive" spectacle.

DUDO... ANOTHER ONE WHO THINKS "TORMENTA" IS APPROPRIATE.
(OR MAYBE HE'S FANTASIZING ABOUT RIDING THE WAVES.)

SAN GERALDO THINKS THE SEA IS GETTING TOO CLOSE. (NOT TO WORRY.)
THIS EVENING ON THE BEACH.
(BELIEVE IT OR NOT, I WENT BY MYSELF.)

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Somebody Moved the Cow

Dudo is a bit obsessed with his new toy mice. He follows me everywhere dragging what remains of the first two mice in the hopes that I'll play with him — which I do. Here are some photos to entertain you while I tell a little story that has nothing to do with cats (or mice).

MOUSE #1.

The Yellow Farmhouse
Jerry's mother, Alice, once told us how she and her friend Millie had taken a drive from Sioux Falls, South Dakota to visit another friend about a half hour away in Dell Rapids. There's not a lot out there. Even less 30 years ago. Alice and her friend had done the same drive many times and they both knew the way like the backs of their hands.


As I just mentioned, Dell Rapids was about a 30-minute drive from Sioux Falls. Simple. They had to make just one turn. "At the yellow farm house." They chatted the entire time. Finally, 90 minutes later, they noticed they had crossed into Minnesota.

MOUSE #2...

Alice and Millie realized they had, obviously, somehow missed that turn at the yellow farmhouse. A turn they had made for years without giving it one extra thought. They drove all the way back and then figured out what had gone wrong. Alice was indignant when she told us. "Someone went and painted that yellow house green!"

Left at the Cow
Earlier today, San Geraldo and I rented a car and drove up to the garden center to pick up six more bags of stones for the terrace. I'm navigator. As we neared the garden center, to make it a little easier on San Geraldo, I told him you'll know to turn left when you see the cow. You might remember this instruction from my story in July about the garden center (click if you want to be reminded).

Well, somebody moved the cow.

(I'm writing this from Minnesota.)

JULY: "TURN LEFT AT THE COW."
TODAY: SOMEBODY MOVED THE COW.

Monday, November 25, 2013

How Santa Gets Lift-Off

I took a walk and did some shopping this afternoon. I bought four toy mice for the cats. (Dudo is currently working his way through the first one.)

While shopping, I perused the Christmas aisles. I always thought Santa's reindeer provided the power for the flight around the world. It turns out that Santa himself is responsible. Apparently, he's filled with gas. I sure am glad he never let loose while I was on his lap.

IT MUST BE A PAINFULLY UNCOMFORTABLE FLIGHT.
(I WONDER HOW THEY FIT HIM IN THAT BOX.)
SAN GERALDO AS SANTA AT YALE UNIVERSITY IN THE LATE '80s.
SAN GERALDO AS SANTA AT BERKELEY, 1999.
(AS FAR AS I KNOW, HE WASN'T GAS-FILLED AT THE TIME.)

Well, sorry, I've got to run. Dudo just brought me the unraveling mouse and he's commanding me to play fetch. I'm so well trained.



Friday, November 22, 2013

Dish Night at the Movies

As you may remember, while in New York this month, I cleaned out the upper shelf of a kitchen cabinet for the Dowager Duchess (click here for a refresher). Among the treasures, I found no-longer-clear plastic cups from a party my mother hosted in 1972; more discolored no-longer-burping Tupperware; and a vintage first aid kit containing ointments, salves, and lotions that had all expired right after World War II. (OK, Mom, I exaggerate, but the stuff was from the 1950s!) The primary reason the Dowager Duchess wanted me to clean out the shelf was because she knew there were "movie dishes" up there — remnants of the five services for eight she and her mother collected in the 1940s (see a movie, get a free dish). My mother ended up with two of those sets and she gave one to me in 1971 when I left home. Recently, she realized she could use the bowls (larger than her everyday cereal bowls), which is why she asked me to clean the shelf.

MY FATHER WITH HIS NEW IN-LAWS, EARLY 1949.
MY GRANDMOTHER, SMILING ABOUT ALL THOSE FREE MOVIE DISHES.
MY GRANDFATHER, STEWING ABOUT HOW MANY TIMES HIS WIFE AND DAUGHTER WENT TO THE MOVIES.

Amazingly, my mother-verging-on-hoarder, filled up bags and boxes with extra movie dishes (and lots of other valuable items) for charity. Except for the six bowls she kept, and the emptied vintage first aid kit The Kid Brother took home, just about everything else went in the trash.

THE DOWAGER DUCHESS'S "NEW" NEARLY-70-YEAR-OLD CEREAL BOWLS.
MY GOURMET BREAKFAST.
THE VERY BUTCH DINNER SET I HAD UNTIL ABOUT 10 YEARS AGO...
BECAUSE 2 PEOPLE WITH 6 SETS OF DISHES SEEMED A BIT MUCH.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Surely Meatballs

When I began to study Spanish in the 7th grade at Mark Twain Junior High School in Coney Island, we listened to Spanish conversation records.

A record was a round, flat, hard vinyl thing with a hole in the middle and spiral grooves on the surface. It played music and recordings when a needle was touched to it. I'm not making it up. I swear.

Anyway, the record, which I think was produced by Linguaphone in Rockefeller Center, began with a boy called Juan saying, "Hola, Isabel. ¿Como estás? (Hi, Isabel. How are you?)

I remember little after that opening until a conversation about what Juan's mother was serving for lunch. Isabel asked and Juan responded sadly, "Seguro que albóndigas." (Surely meatballs.) I guess Juan's mother made meatballs all too often. For some reason that one phrase has always stuck with me and, whenever I have albondigas, it comes to mind. So, what did I have for dinner Tuesday night at Meson Salvador? Happily, !Seguro que albondigas! 

SEGURO QUE ALBÓNDIGAS (Y PAPAS FRITAS).

I used to vary my order at Meson Salvador. But I hadn't had their albondigas for a long time and they're exceptional. However, instead of his usual (every single time without varying) bull's tail and French fries, the ever-slimming San Geraldo, now 40 pounds/18 kilos lighter (What a man!), had a new-to-the-menu grilled seafood and vegetable skewer (with more grilled vegetables on the side). It was beautiful and delicious.

HEALTHY AND DELICIOUS.
BUT THE LANGOSTINOS HAD TO BE PEELED.  IN MY BOOK, THAT'S COOKING.

San Geraldo's diet has been of tremendous benefit to us both. I usually eat very healthily along with him. And, since he's no longer drinking any alcoholic beverages, I get both complementary after-dinner drinks wherever we go. It's not easy, but it's a sacrifice I'll continue to make for San Geraldo's well-being. What a man!

AFTER FINISHING MY VERY LARGE GIN AND TONIC, I HAD TO DRINK BOTH SHOTS.


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

From Chilly Coney to the Costa Del Snow

At first, I thought it was soot. When I was a kid, the apartment buildings in our neighborhood had huge incinerators. Sometimes when they were burning trash, stray ash would float in the air. So, when I looked out the window from the Duchess's apartment Wednesday morning, my first thought was "soot." Then I remembered that the buildings now all have huge trash compactors. Also, it was (and still is) November in New York. It could snow. Happily for us, it passed quickly and the ground was too warm for anything to stick.

BROOKLYN, WEDNESDAY.  SNOW MIXED WITH RAIN. ATLANTIC OCEAN IN BACKGROUND.
(CLICK ANY PHOTO. YOU CAN STILL HEAR US WHINE.)
THE WEATHER IN NEW YORK WAS "SPRING-LIKE" ...
THE WEEK BEFORE WE WERE THERE.

Although we miss The Duchess and The Kid Brother, we're glad to be back on the milder Costa Del Sol (a chilly 63F/17C right now). So, imagine my surprise yesterday afternoon, when I passed a snow-covered village on my way home from the market. A few minutes later I noticed the beach umbrellas (sombrillas) had dropped their "leaves." I took photos of the bare "branches" and went back today to get some shots of the leaf piles. Winter is fast approaching. (Click any image to feel the chill.)

THE SNOW-COVERED VILLAGE ON THE MEDITERRANEAN SEA.
SOMBRILLA "LEAVES" READY FOR BAGGING.
IMAGINE THE SIZE OF THE RAKE USED TO PILE THOSE LEAVES.
ANOTHER STYLE OF RAKING.
SOMBRILLA FRAMES. HEADED FOR WINTER STORAGE.

DON'T YOU LOVE THE FALL COLORS?

This song from my childhood with my sister Dale always makes me think of her. (Well, any song from our childhoods makes me think of her.)

Monday, November 18, 2013

Kid Brother CatSkype

Ah, our brilliant cats. When Dudo and Moose see me setting up my laptop computer for Skype, they know I'll be talking with Uncle Chuck (The Kid Brother). And they know that now when I talk with Uncle Chuck, they get their treats. I place the laptop on the kitchen floor so The Kid Brother can visit with the boys while they eat. He loves it.

(CLICK ANY IMAGE TO FEEL THE LOVE.)

At first the cats were a bit nervous about someone inside that box talking directly to them. Now, they know the presence of Uncle Chuck means good things are coming their way. Moose peeks at the screen before turning his back to eat. Dudo checks in regularly and then, when he's finished, steps in for a closer look.

MOOSE (FOREGROUND) EATS AND RUNS.
BEFORE LICKING UP THE FINAL BITS, DUDO STEPS OVER TO SAY "GRACIAS."

Uncle Chuck doesn't let me move the laptop until the cats are done and gone. Then he's willing to talk to me again... But mostly about the cats.