September 23, 2007

Inverted Doggy

Amazing that my tiredness can allow me to turn this:

into this:

Scary, huh?

Exhaustion and Editing Don't Mix

I am tired.


That is an easy one. I was lucky enough to be able to stay awake and see 3:43 on the clock this morning. I have no idea when exactly I finally fell asleep, I only know that it was after that time. Lucky. Me.

I am sure you are wondering why I was up so late. Was it because Señor CC decided that my head was a fabulously comfy spot on which to place his pillow for sleeping? Nope, not this time. Was it because Cooper decided to growl and huff (and puff and blow your house down) at the imaginary dangers that only come out at night? Nah - not last night. Well then, what was it?

Who. Knows.

I stopped drinking coffee a few months ago - about six or so - and although I have the occasional soda (usually none, and never more than one a day) or something containing chocolate, I never have problems falling asleep. Methinks the tiramisu I ate last night for dessert contained a bit o' caffeine. Either that, or my sleep schedule was just a bit hinky last night.

Where is this post going? subject:

We are invited to a casual dinner get-together this evening. I am hoping that everyone on the email invite will be able to make it. I have met most of them at least once, some of whom I know are great people with whom I do not want to lose touch after this project sails to Italy. Yes, it will. A concrete box, sailing to Italy. Good times.

Back to the dinner party.

All we were asked to bring is ourselves and whatever we want to drink, as usual. I wanted to bring something else, so I made...

Wait for it...


I know. You are ever so impressed, since I never bake. Sure, I've made things to take to school for activities and I've baked at Christmas and for other gatherings, but for myself? For Señor CC? Never. Okay - I made pumpkin pie at Thankgiving. It was yummy. But you've gotta make pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving, so that one doesn't count.

I love desserts. That is one reason I don't bake. Another is the fact that Señor CC doesn't eat them. Nope, he is healthy and makes good food choices and that means that if I bake, I am left to eat the whole thing. Back to reason number one: I love desserts...and therefore I would eat it...all of it. So I don't bake.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about all of this is that when I tell people that I don't bake (and explain why, etc) they immediately assume that it must be because I don't know how to...and then they inevitably proceed with their detailed explanations on how to do this or if telling me how will change my ways and I will suddenly start baking. Why is this interesting? Because I never say that I don't know how. I simply say that I don't bake. Their jump to the conclusion that I must not know how is amazingly swift and almost everyone does it. Hence: interesting. Done and done.

Proof that I have (successfully) made brownies:

ACK!!!!! MUTANT BROWNIES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Okay, so here's where I attempt to tie the themes of this post together:

In my tired state, I accidentally hit ctrl+i instead of ctrl+alt+i when it was time to resize my brownie photo in photoshop elements. The result is the fantastic photo you see above. I would be very interested to see who (or what) would eat brownies that looked like that. I suppose this is where I see the silver lining in regards to the 3:43 clock sighting. If not for that, we would not all be privy to the alien brownies.

I plan to take these brownies to our friendly get-together tonight. I hope that they will be eaten, since I don't want to take them all home with me. I suppose everyone who attends will have to be the judges of whether or not I do know how to bake - I'll let you know how that goes.

For now, here is a more realistic depiction of said brownies:


Hasta pronto,
~ CC

September 20, 2007

Casa Milà

Casa Milà was on our list for our second day in Barcelona. Also known as La Pedrera, or (rock) quarry, this building is one of the main Gaudí attractions in the city. When it was first completed, people were not all that impressed. In addition to the commonly known nickname of La Pedrera, the building was referred to as el avispero (the wasps' nest) and la empanada (the meat pie). One of my favorite, more modern descriptions is found on this site where they say "it looks like the perfect dwelling for an urban Fred and Wilma Flinstone." It does look less enchanting than, say, Casa Batlló.

Fortunately, Casa Milà is more interesting on the inside. Gaudí intended this building to be apartments. Now a UNESCO site, it receives many visitors a day. It costs less than a visit to Casa Batlló and as Señor CC and I discovered, one certainly gets their money's worth out of it.

Casa Milà is actually two connected buildings, each with their own central open-air patio. It is in one of these patios that we found ourselves upon entering the building. Here the colors are fantastic. Take a look at the ceiling:

I have mentioned before that modernisme is all about nature - whether it is the architect/artist's (they are both) use of natural shapes or their ability to use architectural materials and make them look like things one ordinarily finds in nature. I have read that Casa Milà is Gaudí's attempt to naturalize architecture, whereas in Park Güell he architecturalizes nature. A perfect example of this is the parabolic shape of the attic:

These parabolas are a natural shape, and although one recognizes that and sees a connection to nature because of it, I don't think anyone looks at it and thinks 'Why, that looks just like a insert well-known piece of nature!' It looks like a parabola and not a leaf, bug, tree or ocean wave. In Park Güell one sees palm trees and ocean waves...made out of rocks.

Aside from support shapes such as these, the entire weight of Casa Milà is supported by columns and metal - not by exterior walls. This is also true in Palau de la Música. Many modernimse buildings were constructed in this manner so that windows could be placed all along the outer (non-load-bearing) walls to let natural light in. The benefit for Casa Milà was that, aside from the apartments having plenty of windows, rooms could be modified to suit the owners with no risk to the structural integrity of the building.

There is one apartment visitors can view in Casa Milà. It is decorated as it would have been at the time of the building's completion - 1910. I have some photographs of the rooms, but they do not do them justice. I am not talking about the decoration of the rooms so much as the shape of them. Each room is completely different in shape, and none contain any right angles. In fact, most walls are simply curved much like the exterior of the building...or they are of a temporary nature so that owners can enlarge or divide the space as they wish. This creates a very open and airy feeling as there appears to be a little extra room here and there that one does not get in a rectangular room. Granted, there is space missing here and there as well, but due to the odd shape of the rooms and the abundance of light from the windows, one doesn't notice.

All of these open areas and lack of load-bearing outer walls could cause one to wonder just how does Gaudí build safe structures. Yes, there are columns and metal supports away from the outer walls, but still - how did he know where to provide support? The answer is simple: he was a genius. That was Señor CC's comment upon finding and learning about this:

This upside-down model (complete with mirror underneath) is how Gaudí determined the load-bearing sections of his creations. Using it, he knew where to place extra support. He used no formulas or mathematical equations. In fact, since there is still work going on at La Sagrada Familia, scientists and mathematicians have checked his methods using formulas and equations and have found him to be absolutely correct. Gaudí would attach chains or strings together in the general, albeit upside-down parabola, shape of the building on which he was working. Everywhere that the shapes intersected was a load-bearing point. He would then attach sacks weighted with pellets (not shown) to determine how much support was needed. He used the mirror to see what the 'building' was going to look like right-side-up. Amazing, indeed.

How do I know this (very general and vaguely described) information? Why, there is an audio-guide tour at Casa Milà. In fact, aside from the information about the model, and a bit from touring the apartments, I don't really remember anything else from it. Why? It was way too much information! As in 'stand here at this one spot for four minutes while we tell you the entire history of this brick' T.M.I. - it zapped us of our interest in many places. If anyone reading this goes to Barcelona, Casa Milà is interesting, and do get the audio-guide (it's free), but don't hesitate to fast-forward or simply stop recordings when they get to be dull...and they will.

Perhaps the big attraction of Casa Milà is the rooftop terrace. It is supposed to be especially fabulous at sunset. It was fairly crowded when we were there, and I think that aerial photographs are cooler, but it was definitely nothing like anything I've seen before.

Think for a moment about what is normally contained on a roof. Granted, this one is a terrace, so it is more flat than sloped, but it does still have to function as most roofs do. It has vents, chimneys, and access points (stairs). One would never know that these things exist on the roof as they are all disguised by the imaginative structures of Gaudí.

These items are the most abundant on the roof and are arranged in mostly odd-numbered groups. A set of three is covered in green ceramics (above) photo, but most are bare and look remarkably like some sort of guard wearing a helmet:

There are also a couple of vents on the rooftop. These take an interesting shape. Some say that for Gaudí's time they are futuristic in shape...a hint of things to come...some even call them a premonition of abstract sculpture. Me? I can't help but think of some sort of plant or coral growing on the sea floor sans brilliant color. Can't you see the fish swimming through the holes? Maybe my impression is just a result of enjoying the fish tank in the pediatrician's office one too many times. Whatever your imagination decides, they are fairly fantastic:

I bet you are wondering how we got up onto the terrace in the first place. If you take a close look at the aerial photo you can't really see any access stairs. Oh sure, there are steps on the terrace itself - to make up for the difference in heights between the two buildings' roofs, but how does one get up there? Here is the answer:

The dollops of cream ceramics hold stairways that take you from the roof to the attic. There are only two open to visitors - one for getting up there and one for leaving. There are about six blobs total, and I imagine that they each contain an access from a different section of the apartments to accommodate all of the inhabitants. These have been likened to the tops of ice-cream cones, and I must say that for the most part I agree.

I can tell you that my favorite things about Barcelona is the modernisme architecture. That said, I do not think that Casa Milà is all that fabulous. Yes, I just wrote a lot about it - and I did learn a ton of information while there. If you are very interested in Gaudí and want to know more about his life and work than you probably need to, then it is a good place to visit. I am glad that we visited there as I doubt we will have another chance to do so. However. I must tell you that La Pedrera is certainly an adequate name for the place; it is no wonder that of all the nicknames, that one stuck. Aside from the patios, Casa Milà is bland and fairly devoid of color. Having been to Palau de la Música, which is an overload of detail and color, and having seen the exterior of Casa Batlló, which is ceramic dragon eye-candy, I was a tad disappointed in the lack of color (and the extra whimsy that it provides) at Casa Milà.

September 13, 2007

September 12 of 12

Hooray! After two months of being out of the country on the 12th, I was finally in Spain and with my computer! I had a fairly busy day as well, so hopefully things will be a bit more interesting...though not as green as Ireland from last month.

The rules for 12 of 12 are posted on Chad's site as always; be sure to head over there and check out what everyone else was doing today.

9:34; Plaza Mayor; Pueblo Nuevo

I began my day by taking Señor CC to work and then heading off to Spanish class. We had a ferocious storm last night complete with hail (larger than moth balls, smaller than golf balls). This photo of Plaza Mayor shows only a little bit of the mess left over; the streets in my neighborhood were literally covered with debris.

11:06; Plaza Mayor; Pueblo Nuevo

I dropped into the pet store (THUNK!) after class and purchased some yummy lamb and rice food for Cooper.

11:46; Sotogrande

I knew that I had quite a few errands to run today, so I stopped by the Petit Bistro and had some lunch.

12:27; Mercadillo; La Línea

My two nieces have birthdays coming up soon, so I drove down to peruse the local street market. It took forever to get down there and once I arrived I wasn't even sure they were having it! This street is usually covered on both sides by tents like the ones in this photograph. Not so much today, eh?

13:24; Carrefour; La Línea

Once my market shopping was complete I drove to the Carrefour to top up the gas tank and make a few purchases. We were desperately in need of windshield-washer fluid and black beans. I know, strange but true. This is a photo of the advertisement for the gasolinera - go me; I got 10% off my purchase today!

13:24; BONUS; Carrefour; La Línea

While taking the previous photo, I was unexpectedly dripped on by this lovely leak. Yay for rain.

14:12; Poligono; Los Palmones

Due to the lack of power to my computer (mentioned here), I have been unable to post as frequently as I would like. We need a new adapter. I found PC City. It is 120W instead of 90W and it has a European plug (of course), but it will do!

14:52; Sotogrande

See that dent right in the center of the photograph? If not, imagine one about the same size as if you poked my car with your finger and were strong enough to dent the metal. Ah, yes. That hail I mentioned earlier? Well, it decided to impact my car. Again and again. The roof is covered with those is the hood...and any surface really that was facing even remotely upwards during the storm. Great news, eh? Especially since we just got the car back after a month of being in the shop for repairs. Oh, happy are we!

15:06; Sotogrande

Cooper (Chompy-Lones AKA Pantalones Cortez) was very happy to see me when I returned to the house. So very much so that once I gave him his treat (he licked it all over BEFORE eating it...can anyone say possessive? Jeepers!) and he ate it, he promptly fell asleep. It is great to be wanted.

15:44; Sotogrande

I spent some time preparing my photographs for posting. Usually once I have that done things go much faster. Look! It's a caesura inside of a caesura! Hey, BU! I think it's high time you used one in your Museday Tuesday composition! Perhaps you can add ocean waves in the middle of it somewhere...

16:19; Sotogrande

So that you are aware that the mercadillo trip wasn't worthless (as I am sure the tent-less street photo suggests), here is a photograph of my spoils. I think the girls will like it. I have a couple of ideas about what I will add to their gifts so that they are clearly from Spain, which requires more mercadillo shopping - ugh!

16:41; Sotogrande

Once I am done with this post, I am going to spend some time watching my favorite season of Veronica Mars. I have limited television choices (my DVD collection is sparse) and I simply must have something going while I am...

16:41; Sotogrande

KNITTING! I shall be working on a project while watching VM. This is not it. I can't show it because it is a surprise to someone who possibly reads this. Just know that it is a good one! Granny knows what it is! Also, had to show you the VT that I managed. It is my first attempt at intarsia knitting, and it came out pretty good especially considering that I made up the pattern myself.

That's my day. There will be a dinner and some more work of some sort, but nothing worth documenting with photography! Hope everyone had a great Wednesday - the week, it is almost over! Thanks for checking in.

Hasta pronto,
~ CC

September 12, 2007

Sunset, Yesterday

We will really miss this:

Who wouldn't?

Casa Amatller

We only took the time to gaze at the facade and step into the foyer/lobby of this building, but as I am sure you can tell from these photographs, it is amazing.

Casa Amatller is one of three on the Block of Discord in Barcelona, known for the over-the-top design of each building...and how the aesthetic of one clashes with those beside it.

What amazes me is the amount of detail in every bit of construction. No surface is left to its own devices; all are used in the overall aesthetic effect as well as that of a more minute version for those who take a closer look.

I believe it is this attention to detail and the 'something hidden around and in every corner' feeling it causes that makes Barcelona our favorite place we have visited thus far. We hope to return before we leave Spain.

Hasta pronto,
~ CC

September 9, 2007

Fluffy, Floppy Bed

Recently Cooper received a new bed. It is especially fluffy on the inside and exceptionally floppy on the outside. We think he likes it.

It received a thorough sniffspection upon arrival due to the massive amount of animal smells it surely contained. It was from the vetrinarian's office.

Cooper made sure to sniff the outer edges as well as the inside where he would hopefully soon be resting.

Apparently it passed its inspection.

Enough with the photographs already!!

August 12 of 12

Yup. I am late again. Last month I did manage to post my 12 of 12 in somewhat of a timely manner, considering. Chad was even kind enough to post my link well after the fact. That's me at the bottom of the list.

This month, however, I am fairly certain that I won't even attempt to add my contribution to Chad's list. I am going to bet that since I didn't even get around to posting this until well as the fact that we are indeed only one week away from the next installation of 12 of 12, everyone has way better things to do than to moderate posts from a month ago.

There are reasons for my delay. One: I was in another country (again) sans computer on August 12th. Two: Since that date things have been hectic what with the car being broken, a sudden trip home for a funeral, and also my computer? The power adapter no longer works.

That's right, people - I have no contact with the outside world...well, no more than 2 hours a day anyway. This means I cannot plan our trip to Paris. Nor can I plan the trip to Prague. Yes, Steve-O, I said PRAGUE. I am also unable to successfully locate a place/site/company from which to purchase a replacement power adapter. This is made slightly more difficult by the fact that I need it to arrive in Spain, AKA The Land of SLOW POST, as soon as possible.

Oh, and also?

I cannot write email to send;
I can't comment on blogs of friends;
I do not like this lack of power;
I do not like it, WATCH ME GLOWER!

So yeah - I've had some issues...not the least of which is a fondness for Green Eggs and Ham. Moving on...

August was hot, humid and exceptionally crowded here in southern Spain. The one exception to the rule appears to have been the body shop at the car dealership where our car was supposedly being repaired. More on that later.

Our one attempt to escape the heat and hordes was to travel northward to Ireland for our August holiday. We lucked out on the weather; it only rained for part of one day while we were there and it was the day that we spent the least amount of time walking. We did encounter some shady tour operations on our trip, but were able to deal with that with a good deal of success as seen below. More on the shady-ness later as well.

ENOUGH! Here is the 12 of 12 already!

10:05; County Wicklow, Ireland

We began our day with the shady tour operator who made a stop at this quaint Anyone who wants to let me in on what it is really called, be my guest; the comments are open. Although a useless stop (shadiness indeed), it was nice to look at.

11:52; Powerscourt Gardens, County Wicklow, Ireland

We joined a couple of men who agreed with us on the shady nature of our tour and left it to go to Powerscourt Gardens (which was supposed to be on our tour in the first place). This is a shot of the Italian Gardens located immediately behind the house. So green...

12:00; Powerscourt House, County Wicklow, Ireland

The house is quite grand but was unfortunately ruined by fire some time ago. Two rooms have been refurbished to their former glory and are now used mostly for weddings. In this photograph you can really only see the center portion of the house. We are standing down the hill and on the other side of Triton lake...that is him in the center.

12:18; Powerscourt Gardens, County Wicklow, Ireland

One section of the gardens contains the pet cemetery. Jack is apparently a popular name for cocker spaniels. There were some humorous stones in the cemetery. Most were for the typical pets, but there were some for cows as well. Moo.

12:25; Powerscourt Gardens, County Wicklow, Ireland

The walled gardens are especially beautiful. They contain flowering plants in a very "the're growing wild" arrangement. This fountain was in the center of one section. R-Shelly should enjoy this...from her computer at Virginia Tech. Go Hokies!

12:26; Powerscourt Gardens, County Wicklow, Ireland

This one is for Ahj. The hydrangeas were absolutely gorgeous. I have never seen them in such abundance and looking so absolutely perfect. Bountiful. They were fab.

12:37; Sugar Loaf Mountain; County Wicklow, Ireland

There she is. Sugar Loaf Mountain. We sat on a bench and had a snack. What a view for our short rest.

12:50; Powerscourt Gardens, County Wicklow, Ireland

Tower Valley is a section of the gardens that contains this small tower. The view from the top includes a family graveyard, Sugar Loaf Mountain, and a tree-lined view of the house. Each area that we entered in the gardens was contained such that it appeared to be its own separate world. Except for the small trails connecting each garden, one would never know that there was more than what you could see when standing in each one. Excellent design.

12:55; Powerscourt Gardens, County Wicklow, Ireland

I imagine that many people consider the Japanese Garden to be their favorite upon visiting the Powerscourt estate. It is a beautiful place and, of course, very different than what we've seen before. Japanese style gardens are not hugely abundant in the places in which I have lived. It is beautiful, just like every garden there, and more importantly it is different, which made it stand out.

13:08; BONUS; Powerscourt Gardens, County Wicklow, Ireland

I love the way the light is captured in this photograph of Triton Lake. There you have it.

16:37; Garden of Remembrance, Dublin, County Wicklow, Ireland

We ate lunch in the Avoca Cafe in the Powercourt house. We then met up with the two men who had originally joined us in escaping the tour and shared a taxi to Bray where we all hopped on the DART to head back to Dublin. Once we were back, we headed up towards the Dublin Writer's Museum. Unfortunately it was closed, but we were able to view the Garden of Remembrance located in Parnell Square. This memorial was created in order to remember those who lost their lives fighting for Irish freedom.

17:24; Dublin, County Wicklow, Ireland

Afterwards we walked up O'Connell Street, crossed the River Liffey, passed Trinity College and continued up Grafton Street. At the end of Grafton Street we took a right and soon found Sinnott's Pub. A friend in the states has family ties to the name. I looked the pub up online before we traveled and every photograph I found showed people standing in front of the building looking at the pub. I couldn't discern why until we saw it ourselves. The owners have hung a large flat-screen television in the front window and they show - what else? - football! Of course there are men standing around watching the game!!

17:26; Dublin, County Wicklow, Ireland

We took a detour through Stephen's Green on our way back to the hotel. Had we visited on another day, I am sure it would have appeared more beautiful. Viewing this lovely space after having spent the day at Powerscourt estate takes some of the beauty out of it simply because we compared the two. How could we not? Either way, it is an absolutely perfect place to walk or exercise and it is fabulous that such a large green area, complete with flowers, fountains and ducks is available in the city. I imagine it is a habitual haunt for many.

Our day did not end here, of course. We took a short break at the hotel to rest and change and then we were off to Temple Bar area for some dinner. No, we didn't stay there for the late night "festivities". We weren't all that interested in those. Dinner was tasty and afterwards we had a lovely walk through the city.

I'll be writing more about Dublin in the days to come...assuming I can manage to charge my computer again in the near future. I also have a bit more to say about Barcelona and of course there is always something to write about Spain!

Hasta pronto,
~ CC