February 28, 2007

27 on the 27th:

A Year in Review

On this day one year ago I turned twenty-seven years old.

I was 27 on the 27th.

I was 3 times 3 times 3.

Have I mentioned that I have great affection for the number three? It is, in fact, my favorite number. I love it in combination with any other number as well as on its own. Honestly, I like all odd numbers a good deal more than even ones. The reason for this is uncertain, but it is partly the reason for which I was married on an odd-numbered day.

I am letting you in on the crazy and I am aware of this fact.

While walking with Pantalones Cortéz this afternoon I reflected on the past year a bit. Some amazing things have happened in this year of 27 on the 27th. I have decided to commemorate the end of the year by posting about the wonders of my being twenty-seven on day 3-times-3-times-3.

We moved to Spain.

(psssssst! WE MOVED TO SPAIN!)

I ran at least three times a week for over six months.

Now I walk for an hour at least five times a week.

Señor CC and I only own one car.

I do all of the cleaning (yes, it is a wonder; I abhor cleaning).

We do not have a microwave.

We visited London for four days.

I taught Cooper-chew doggy-fantastic to walk properly.

This does not mean pull as hard as you can in an attempt to go fast.

I have carried out multiple conversations in español.

People actually understood what I was saying.

I understood them, too.

I have been to Gibraltar, Sevilla, Tarifa, Ronda and Granada.

I started Spanish class.

I visited my family more than any other year since we were married.

Rrawr-monster knows who I am.

She thinks my doggy lives with her Gran and Papa Jim.

It is the only place she has seen his photograph.

Two-toof says "Bye-bye!" to me on the phone.

I received a Nikon D50.

Oh how I love that camera.

We found Cooper-chew doggy-fantastic’s family number two.

I learned to drive a manual-shift car.

Did you read that last one?

We went to Salzburg, Austria for three days.

I have met interesting and wonderful people from Texas, Arizona, Virginia, the United Kingdom, Norway, Sweden, Germany, Greece, and many other places.

I learned that Spanish people are kindhearted and friendly.

I began this blog.

My identity is morphing.

I don’t know what shape it will take.

And so, here we are at the end of a three-cubed year. I can only hope that my year of 28 on the 27th will be just as eye-opening and that I will continue to learn about myself and the world around me.

February 27, 2007

M&M Visit Ronda, Spain

(and Málaga Airport)

M&M visited us in October, as posted here, and I hinted to the fact that I would write about it more later. Now is later. There was also mention of the never ending travel-drama of which M&M are veterans. I shall describe some of that as well.

Our guests arrived on October 7th. They were a few hours late due to a delay in Paris. We are not sure what caused their plane to taxi for about an hour in France, but since they only had about an hour between flights, this caused them to miss their connection. Their airline placed them on another flight, but with a completely different carrier.

This new carrier was not run by a partner of the original airline, which resulted in their baggage being misplaced. In most of the world, if you do not make your plane then your bags are removed. The airlines attempt to keep your bags with you. However, when you change carriers as M&M did, a breakdown in communication can sometimes occur, especially if you are working with a short connection time. They were most definitely doing that because the airline was trying to get them to their destination as quickly as possible.

Their bags were still in Paris on the 7th when they arrived. The plane they traveled on from Paris to Málaga was delayed a little bit itself and then M&M spent a good deal of time first waiting for their bags on the carousel and then waiting in line at the lost baggage desks of both airlines they had flown on their way to Spain. There were many people waiting with them, so there had obviously been a big problem somewhere. Finally they were told that their bags were not there and that they would be delivered the following day.


The following day was Sunday. No one does anything in Spain on Sunday. Also, that airport only delivers twice a week to our area, on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Obviously the worker at the airport did not...remember this.

We drove home, fed a very hungry doggy, went to eat ourselves, and headed off to bed.

On Sunday, October 8th, we waited a while for M&M to wake up. It had been a very tiring day for them and their clocks were all wrong as well. Cooper, the doggy-fantastic, couldn't wait for them to get up. He spent most of the morning by their door looking imploringly at us.

We woke them up in the late morning and once everyone had cleaned up and had their breakfast M called the airport to ask about his bags. I called as well since I could hear español a little easier than he. We spoke to someone who used a computer database but who was not actually at the airport. He told us that the bags had been scanned in and were there, so we decided to go by the airport to collect the bags.

Our drive to the airport was pleasant and took us through a few toll booths like this one:

We arrived at the airport, found the lost baggage desk, rang the bell and waited. M finally got to go through and searched through three places where bags were being held. He only found one bag. Obviously there had been so many mistakes the day they flew that bags were still being sorted that morning. M&M's bags had been scanned as they arrived at the airport, but they had not been sorted yet, so they were nowhere that he was allowed to look.

Needless to say it was a very upsetting and stressful morning. There is a slight language barrier, of course, and it made for a great start to another less than appealing day.

Señor CC and I decided we would take M&M to Ronda to see the bridge and gorge. First we stopped off in Puerto Banus to eat lunch. We then headed off to Ronda on this road:

That nice, straight, easy-to-traverse road quickly became a slightly more curvy version of itself. There may have been a nice car driving in front of us as well. That always makes for a good picture:

We arrived in Ronda quite late in the day. We only had a couple of hours of daylight left. There are museums, tours of the new bridge, the best preserved Moorish baths in the area and a great places to eat in Ronda, but we would have time for none of that. Luckily, the main reason people travel there is to see the gorge. It is a fine sight indeed.

When we exited the parking garage, we were able to see a beautiful park as well as a view towards the main streets of Ronda:

We walked through the park to the viewing area at the end. Here we had a spectacular view of the surrounding land. We could also look back towards the older part of Ronda from this vantage point:

We had some fun with pictures in the park and then made our way towards the bridge that crosses the gorge. On our way we passed many pedestrian streets such as this one:

We saw the bull-ring that houses a museum on our way, but we did not have time to visit. It really is interesting in the museum. You are able to see where they keep the bulls and also where they train the horses. In addition to that there is a history of bull-fighting along with the outfits and photos of the most famous fighters.

The new bridge is amazing. The first one they built in this location fell down and they had to rebuild. This one has stood the test of time:

The view of the gorge from the new bridge. We could see where the sun shines through the bridge:

The tour of the new bridge tells you about its construction and about a small prison cell that is located inside the bridge. The view of the countryside from the bridge is breath-taking. You can see for kilometers, especially on a clear day. Things were just beginning to get rain again in the beginning of October. This made for some interesting contrast between the browns and greens:

Many restaurants and hotels own property on the gorge. The best rooms are supposed to be those with a view. This restaurant has a great location. Señor CC and I have eaten there and hope to take Tahj, Ahj and R-Shelly there when they visit. You can get a variety of Spanish cuisine, and the view makes everything taste better:

I have mentioned the new bridge quite a few times in this post. There are actually three bridges in Ronda. Two are lower down on the gorge in the older part of the town. The Moorish baths are located near them as well. We did not get to see the baths, but we could see this old bridge from the new bridge:

We walked up the main street, full of shops for the tourists. To the side were los bomberos in their truck. I am not sure why the firemen were there; we could not see any reason for them, but they were kind enough to wave from their truck for pictures:

We strolled through the old streets, small and weaving, until we reached another park area. From here I was able to take a picture looking back towards the first park we visited near where we had parked the car:

As you can see, the sun was really beginning to drop in the sky and we preferred to not be on the curvy roads in the dark, so we left. At the request of M, we all headed back to the Málaga airport for one last check on the baggage. This time we knew the drill and it took a little less time to find things. I had un café con leche while M perused the luggage so that I would be able to drive home. Luckily, M found one more bag.

Unfortunately, the two bags we collected were the smaller of the three they had checked. The main bag with all of their clothing and important items was still not there. It was somewhere else in the building waiting to be sorted. We drove home, fed our tired hungry doggy and ourselves and we all went to bed. It had been a long day indeed.

February 23, 2007

La Alhambra, Take One

On Saturday, February 10th, Señor CC and I made our first trip to Granada. We drove there in order to see the city, but more importantly to get a feel for what it will be like taking our four sets of visitors there in March and April. Our goals were to figure out how long it would take to get there, find a place to park, get ourselves oriented in the city, and catch a glimpse of La Alhambra.

La Alhambra is the Muslim fortress on top of the hill in Granada. Construction began on the stronghold in 1238 and was enlarged through the 14th century. The Christians captured Granada in 1492 and then added a convent and a 'modern' palace to the grounds. The fortress was then abandoned for about a century. Washington Irving managed to force a rediscovery of the place with his Tales of the Alhambra in 1829.

Señor CC and I arrived in Granada after a two and a half hour car ride. We managed to find a parking garage near the centro and then we promptly walked in the exact opposite direction of where we intended to go. Yes. This occurred after I was practically forced to take a sprig of rosemary in front of the cathedral (those women are forceful, let me tell you...the really want some money) but before we finally found an information office where we were given a map. The reason we walked the wrong way? Instead of placing maps in your tour book in such a way that it makes sense according to the geography of the place, they put all of them in so that the top of the page is North and the right is East. This did not make sense for Granada.

We did get ourselves sorted out, so we walked to the Albaicín district, caught a glimpse of La Alhambra from below, and found a place to eat. Once full we decided to take the little bus up to La Alhambra to get a closer look. Of course, the first bus we took didn't go there; it went to the plaza where we could catch a bus to the palace. It did take us all through the Albaicín district - a hilly maze of tiny streets. We could see where many buses and cars had scraped along the walls in their attempts to navigate the area. Fun, indeed.

Yes, all of our visitors will be taking this bus. It is only one euro, and it is well worth it for the thrills.

We finally made it up to the Alhambra, stood in a very short line, and had our tickets. There are two times of day that one can visit the stronghold. You can go in the morning until 2:00 or from 2:00 until close. Everyone gets a timed ticket to the Nasrid Palace, the living quarters of the royal family. The rooms are small and only a limited number of people are allowed in every thirty minutes to accommodate the space.

There are many parts to the Alhambra. There are the Nasrid Palace, the Palace of Carlos V, the Generalife (the summer palace), the Alcazaba, and the gardens. We were up there for about 2 hours and we were only able to see a little bit of the palace of Carlos V and the Nasrid Palace. Yes, it is a big place and it will take four or five hours to see each part just a little bit.

Here are the pictures of our first visit. I can't wait to go back and take more.

We came across this aqueduct as we walked towards the palaces. The moors moved water to wherever they wanted it, and they wanted it almost everywhere.

Just after the aqueduct, we looked over the walls of the fortress and saw these snow-capped peaks. Ah, snow, how I miss thee.

As I mentioned, water is everywhere. Most of the time, it is in reflecting pools like this one. The cat was splendid to pose like that.

This archway leads towards the Alcazaba. We did not have time to go in that direction, so we'll have to have a look the next time around.

In front of the entrances to the palaces are some of the ruins of the fortress. As you can see, visitors get a great view of Granada from the fortress grounds.

The palace of Carlos V certainly stands out. It is clear that the Muslims did not create this building. In fact, Carlos had part of the Alhambra torn down to accommodate his buildings. He did the same thing to the mosque in Cordoba so that a cathedral could be built inside. What was he thinking?

The outside of the building is rectangular, but the center is round. Columns support two floors. There are a few museums and special exhibits inside the palace, but we did not have time to visit them. One of them is about the lions from the patio of the Lions inside the Nasrid Palace. They appear to be working on refurbishing that particular part of the Moorish palace right now. Hopefully we can visit that exhibit next time.

What a great job. He gets to sit in this beautiful place all day long.

We gained entrance to the Nasrid Palace, and wow. The beauty is in the details, and they are everywhere. It is difficult to know where to look. One could spend hours in this place.

I love the doors. They are all of rich-colored wood with big metal pieces on them, and I could just photograph those and be happy. They are striking.

One of the two patios in the Nasrid Palace is the Patio de los Arrayanes (Courtyard of the Myrtles). The delicate arches at either end are indescribable.

The Spanish paint tiles, but not like this. The Moorish painted tiles are very graphic.

Perhaps the most famous room is the Sala de las Dos Hermanas (Hall of the Two Sisters). Its ceiling is a honeycombed cupola containing over 5,000 cells. It is amazing indeed.

I am not sure where this is exactly, but I love the way the three arches are all showing completely different designs. Every room is like this. Each surface is different and all are meticulously done.

Washington Irving wrote Tales of the Alhambra while living in the apartments of Carlos V. La Alhambra was abandoned when he was there, but thankfully his Tales revived interest.

Irving and Carlos had a fabulous view of the city from their living quarters.

The gardens of La Alhambra are extensive. We were only able to see those connected to the palaces. This reflecting pool is adjacent to the apartments.

Here is one example of how the Moors moved water from pool to pool. I cannot wait to return to the fortress this spring when everything is in bloom. It should be quite a sight.

Our exit from the city was as adventurous as the entrance. Street signs are difficult to find in Spain, and usually one is better off locating a supermarket or some other building of distinction. There are plenty of arrows pointing towards hotels and businesses, but not many for streets. We did make our way out, and we wrote everything down so that we can hopefully repeat our journey in March. Of course, if the construction changes, and it is always changing, we will have to go by guesswork once again. No worries - that method hasn't failed us yet.

Cooking Spanish

Last Wednesday I used a recipe from this book

to make stuffed peppers spanish-style.

I used red and yellow peppers to make it just a little bit more Spanish.

The insides looked mighty tasty.

And indeed they were.

February 22, 2007


This ornament is one of my favorites not because of what it is, but because of who gave it to me. I feel like I have known Peggy and A.B. forever, or rather, that they have known me since I was born. I have no idea if this is true or not, but I cannot ever remember a time when I felt as if I did not know them. I certainly do not remember meeting them and this leads me to believe that we have always known one another.

Mrs. H. made the most fabulous pound cake on the planet. I used to beg her to give my Mom the recipe. She always told me that there wasn't any recipe, and she never gave it to us. The cakes, though – she gave us those. I am pretty sure that we got them for Christmas as well as for my birthday; of the latter I am not certain.

Every Christmas we had fresh holly with which to decorate the house. My Mom had an open house on Christmas Eve, and Peggy and A.B. would come to visit and give us a cake and a bag full of fresh-cut holly for the event. I did not enjoy decorating with the holly because I always came away with more than a few scratches, but it looked so nice all over the house.

Mrs. H. took care of me and my brother when we were young. I stayed with her all day, and I remember my brother being there after he got home from school. On the days when school was out and our parents had to work, we would spend the day with her as well. If we were lucky, Mr. H. would be home and we would get to see them both.

Mrs. H. and I would play with her home-made play dough. When my brother was there we would almost always play a game of Aggravation. He loved to play that game with her. I always had the impression that playing Aggravation was their thing; they had formed their bond over that game before I was old enough to remember such things.

Bird-watching was another activity I recall. I believe that blue jays are pesky and mean, and it is from being told so by Mrs. H. as we watched them eat all of the birdseed. Those detestable birds never let any others have any food, and we did not approve.

We would go down to the basement for part of the day. If I remember correctly, the washing machine was down there in its own area. In the living room there was a television, fireplace, and an exercise bike along with some other furniture. I am sure there were other items and maybe even another room, but I don’t have any memory of those.

Mrs. H. would get on her exercise bike and I would tell her where to ride. I distinctly remember telling her that we were going to my Aunt’s house to visit with her and my cousins. Most likely Mrs. H. knew exactly where my Aunt lived, and she just let me tell her whatever I wanted about how to get there. We went up hill and down, around curves and through the streets of town. She would react perfectly to each situation I described; she huffed through the up-hill sections and squealed around the curves. It was one of the best games we played.

Every day we watched The Price Is Right. Bob Barker and his girls would be on the television with all of those products. We would watch people get so excited when they were told to “Come on down”. The reactions were always so varied. There was screaming, crying, cheering, running, shaking, jumping and clapping. Bob always had to calm people down so that they could bid. I was very interested in the final showcase portion of the show. It seemed as if the person who had the chance of winning both showcases always won. They won so much stuff that I could not have cared less about, but they were so overwhelmed and happy that I just knew it must be fabulous. All of those mobile homes seemed to be especially exciting.

The lucky days when Mr. H. was home were not all that different except that he was there with us. Our activities didn't change much. There were plenty of times when I would sit on his lap downstairs while we watched the game shows. A few times I fell asleep right there in his lap.

Sometimes in the winter he would pretend to let me help start the fire. I would help with the kindling and he would put on the starter fluid and there it would be, roaring and warm. I felt so big to be helping him. I don’t remember what I did exactly, but I distinctly remember believing that I was doing a grown-up thing with Mr. H. and that it was only because he trusted me and believed in me that he allowed me to help. Most likely I was just sitting there beside him while he did all the work, but it is the feeling it left me with that counts.

Every Sunday I would seek him out at church. He stood outside with some other men and talked while the rest of us went on in to the sanctuary. He would always take the time to speak with me. I cannot remember if there was a hug or a handshake each time, but there was one or the other and it was a Sunday ritual, one of those things you looked forward to during the week.

I do not know how long Mr. and Mrs. H. looked after me. I think it was a few years, but I am not certain. It may have only seemed that way because I was so young and time seems to be so long when you are young.

I do know that they taught me plenty. I am not talking about the little things that small children need to learn when they are young. My memories of them show me the really important things that they were teaching me without ever saying anything. They taught me the big lessons that cannot be simply explained. I learned joy, trust, comfort, and love from these two people in a very short amount of time.

I can see why my parents trusted them with us. They loved us dearly. I know this because of my memories. I recall these memories because of this ornament. I do not particularly like carousels or shiny gold colored things, but it is amazing what a tiny metal object can hold. The things most dear to us are not always the most obvious. I love this ornament because Peggy and A.B. loved me and I loved them right back.

Not a one of us ever had to say a word.

February 13, 2007

February 12 of 12

The latest edition of 12 of 12 is up at Chad's site. Unfortunately, my addition is quite boring this time around. Señor CC took the car which means that I was at home all day. Also, I was in front of the computer for much of the day doing things that normally one wouldn't photograph. Hence - my less-than-amazing 12 of 12:

7:09; Office/Guest Room

I began the day converting NEF photo files to JPEG for my computer. Of course I forgot to take any pictures of that! Instead, we can begin with what I did right after I finished: peruse the internet. I have a group of sites that I look at in tabs every morning, as do we all, and one of my favorites on the list is - surprise, surprise - the Uri!Zone.

9:43; Office/Guest Room

While traveling in November, I decided to write down what I did in the airports. No, I am not obsessed with airports or what I do on a daily basis...although these particular posts do not support that fact. Nope, I have guests coming. In fact, visitors will be here pretty much non-stop from the 10th of March until the 17th of April. Yes, I know. We are crazy. Anyway - back to the point. Most of my guests are traveling on the same flights I took in November. I wrote down what I experienced in the hopes that it will assist them in their travels.

11:36; Office/Guest Room

Two hours later I am finally done typing up my instructions. Hooray. Now all that is left is the trip back home to the U.S. - and I have two separate ones for that.

12:21; Apartment

What is a girl to do when she is tired of working on the computer? Why, clean, of course! Oh, yes. I swept the rugs (it cleans them oh so well) and then used the vacuum to get up all of the icky in the apartment.

12:22; Kitchen

The start of a yummy lunch. Not much more to say than that!

13:12; Living Room

While eating I decided to finally break open another of our television shows on DVD. This time I watched the pilot episode of 24. It was definitely different than most shows. I liked how it jumped back and forth from character to character and also how we were shown what they were all doing at the same time. They leave you wanting more, just like Alias, but so far it is not as important that I watch the next episode RIGHT NOW, which is how I usually feel about Alias.

14:18; Entry
Love, Part I

Here is the star just in from his walk around the neighborhood. He absolutely loves to be outside, and walking is definitely the favorite activity. He usually asks to go back out again before I can take off his halt collar and harness. As soon as those are off he is out cold.

14:55; Office/Guest Room

Like I said, he sleeps after his walks. I give him a Kong full of treats and once eaten, he passes out. He heard me getting the camera out and popped his head up from sleeping for this shot...he looks so out of it.

20:17; Kitchen

Hmmm...what can I say? I was having a hard time coming up with photos for this month. This is a tortilla that has been properly warmed in the oven for making a burrito. That is all.

20:27; Kitchen

Ah, yes. Here is an example of a tortilla "warmed" way past any burrito-like activity. Instead, as Señor CC demonstrates, it can now be broken into pieces for "chips". I informed him that if we were eating hummus, that would be quite nice, but that I like my burrito to move and feel like a burrito, thank-you-very-much. Oh well, it was the first time he had warmed tortillas. And they were edible. Mostly.

20:38; Living Room

As I said, I was having a hard time coming up with the pictures. So. Here is a Spanish plate. Don't let it hypnotize you. It can, you know - don't look too closely!

20:39; Entry
Love, Part II

Inside the house, the one true love of dear chompy-lones is his squeaky shoe. It is the best. From the time Señor CC gets home, Cooper is holding it, squeaking it, teasing you with it, playing with it, attempting to distract you with it, and sometimes, taking it to bed at night for sleeping. Yes. Then of course, in the wee hours of the morning, one of us will get out of bed to go to the loo and TA-DA! We will step on the offensive toy and he is up like we stuck him with a hot poker and he is ON THE JOB. That job being: Shoe? Shoe? Anyone wanna play? This is a rare occurrence, as I don't let him bring it to bed...Señor CC on the other hand...

9:54; Living Room

The blanket. It has made appearances on 12 of 12 before, though smaller. Now it is a full fifteen ounces of yarn. Only six more ounces to go and it shall be complete. Hopefully the Rrawr-Monster will like it. It is "puh-puhl", you know.

There you have it. Thirteen pictures, two sharing the esteemed bonus title of Love. I have more to write about: Austria, Granada, Jerez, Ronda, Gibraltar, etc. We shall see if I ever get around to it! Have a great day, people, and go to Chad's to see what everyone else did on the 12th!