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Blood Is Thicker Than Water

I was feeling quite sad because there are always things all over the place to remind me of what I had and don’t have anymore. Right now father’s day is coming up (here in Spain), so I am reminded all the time that I don’t really have a father anymore. The same thing when mother’s day comes around. Everywhere people seem to have so many people around them, fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters and aunts and uncles and cousins and husbands and wives.

I know we choose our lives and the people who are going to be in our lives before we’re born. And I always say, one day I’m going to have a psychic reading and ask why I chose to have no family in this lifetime.

But I also think, there are always people who are worse off. I think of Louise Hay, who had to face what I think is one of the most terrible things a person can have to face: having cancer. And she had to face it all alone. She had no family either, to help her or take care of her or support her as she fought cancer. She had to deal with her cancer all alone.

And then there’s Lazarillo de Tormes. You might not know who Lazarillo de Tormes is. He’s a fictional character, written about 5 centuries ago here in Spain. No one knows who the author is or, obviously, what the author’s life was like. But going on the premise that most novels are at least semi-autobiographical, we can assume that some of the things about Lazarillo would be true about his author too.

Lazarillo was an orphan. He had a terrible life as a child. He would be taken in by families who would abuse him and force him to work hard and beat him if he didn’t work hard. He finally “made it” by getting into petty crime and doing things like stealing. I don’t remember the ending.

They say some things you can look for if you don’t have them in your life. You can look for friends. You can look for causes, or organizations to belong to. But you can’t ACQUIRE a family, if you weren’t born with one.

Some people say, yes you can. You can get adopted into a family, or adopt one. But the fact of the matter is, not anyone can become your family and in fact, at least here in Spain, blood IS thicker than water. Here in Spain you can’t ACQUIRE a family. A family is something you are born with. And if you weren’t born with one, you will never have one. Because blood is blood and you will never share blood with anyone if you weren’t born into their family.

That’s just the way it is here. I had a best friend (we’re still really good friends, but maybe not best friends anymore because we live in different cities) and often she would wish that she could spend big occasions, like Christmas or summer holidays, with me instead of with her family. But she couldn’t. Her family wouldn’t let her, and she couldn’t be disloyal to her family.

Here in Spain, family ALWAYS comes first. And you can’t acquire a family or get adopted into a family. You just can’t. It’s just not done. No matter how close you are to someone, they might even love you more than they love their family. But you will never form a part of their family. And if they have to choose between you or their family, they will always choose their family.

I do see how blood is thicker than water. I often think it’s such an irony that to see what genes I have, I have to look at my kids, because they are the only people who share genes with me. I find it so curious how so many things that you think are just individual quirks, are actually genetically programmed.

My son has so many of the same gestures and expressions as his father. He’s never seen his father make these gestures (because he hardly ever sees his father), and they are not common gestures. So I know he didn’t pick them up by observing other people. He was just born with these gestures and tendencies, apparently they are in his genes.

And I can see how when you grow up surrounded by people who share your genes, you feel a certain affinity with them, that you don’t feel with people who are genetically different from you. Even if the people who are genetically different from you are supposed to be your parents.

When you grow up with people who share your genes, you look at them and you think, I’ve got the same expression as my mother. Or, look at that face that my father makes in X situation, I do exactly the same thing in that situation!

Have you noticed similarities with your family members that go far deeper than just a loving relationship, or interests in common? Please leave me your comments below. As usual, I LURRVE to receive (positive, non-spammy) comments!

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Snippets of Life

What is the world coming to, when such an emblematic landmark is moving house?

Bingo Paris

The sign says: “We’re moving to Sala Cayri, Martínez Maldonado St., 63”.

For those of you who aren’t from around here 🙂 this “monument” probably doesn’t mean anything. However, for the locals of this neighbourhood, ever since anyone can remember, Bingo Paris has always been THE LANDMARK OF REFERENCE.

People would always say, Let’s meet in front of the Bingo Paris at 8 o’clock.

Or, Where do you live? Near the Bingo Paris? Oh now I know where you live!

Now, how will people situate you?

Where do you live? Oh, where the Bingo Paris used to be?

Paella Facil

It always gets to me a bit when I see Spaniards jumping onto the American bandwagon of fast food, convenient cooking and pre-prepared meals.

This package says: “Easy Paella – Just Add Rice!”

In case you didn’t know, paella is a most typical Spanish dish. Traditionally it is slow-cooked all morning in a special large, flat frying pan with chicken, seafood and any other goodies you feel like adding to it, all slowly simmered in rice with saffron.

But now all you have to do is pour out the contents of this package and – just add rice! And it’s done!

Now, I might add, I love pre-prepared food. It makes life 100% easier when you’re a working single mami.

But…… paella?

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Andalucía cuatro de la tarde

Today I thought I’d work on the “musings” part of being a single mama in Spain, rather than the “adventures” part. What do I think are the pros and cons of being a single mama in today’s economy in Spain?

Well, Andalucía, the southernmost region of Spain, is definitely not the place to be in these times if your aim is to become rich and have a prospering career, with unemployment over 26% (and depending on which segment of the population you belong to, could be over 60% as pretty much the only employable people these days are single, childless men with a great professional training), a majority of businesses and jobs reserved for “family” and businesses going bankrupt left and right (like the company that I was working for).

So why DO I keep hanging on here and struggling away, instead of seeking out the “greener pastures” up north in Barcelona or Madrid, or even, for that matter, in another European country? Well, I do debate that myself, and sometimes I wonder whether I shouldn’t just pack up and head on north.

So, let’s see what I consider the pros and cons of continuing to live here:

Cons (or why life is so tough here in Andalucía):

  • obviously, just about all the cons will be related to money, since that is what appears to be most lacking in this part of the world
  • the first major con, of course, is the absolute torpidity which is the act of trying to find a job here, trying to secure any kind of employment, even if only the most unstable, temporary of temporary or contract positions, is like trying to wade through treacle
  • the salaries here, which graze on the minimum wage in virtually any and every field or profession, unless you happen to be a highly qualified CEO, doctor or lawyer
  • it’s hard to get ahead as well, both professionally and personally, if you don’t have family or know a lot of people here, when you come right down to it, nepotism is still pretty alive and well in these parts
  • the social life, people are very friendly, but it’s hard to enter into the real “inner circles” if you don’t have some sort of family base around here, I myself have loads of acquaintances and people I might stop in the street and chat with, but I have virtually no close friends at all, people I would actually confide anything near and dear to me to
  • the importance of family life, now, you could say that that is also a pro, because it provides me with every opportunity and excuse to get closer to my family (aka my kids) and spend more time with them, but I find that it is also a con, because people here place the greatest priority on their families, which means that they will plan most of their activities around their families and have little time or energy left over to do things with anyone outside their families
  • once again, the social life, in a land where most people make the majority of their friends at grade school or the very latest, in university, so if you don’t happen to attend any of those institutions it’s almost impossible to meet good new friends, that is, people who are open to becoming friends with someone who is not from around hereabouts, although as I mentioned earlier, people are friendly and they will be open to meeting you for a drink or to have a café or breakfast, but it’s hard that a relationship would ever get any deeper than that
  • the difficulties in finding things from outside Spain, now, of course, you might wonder, what sorts of things would I really need from outside of Spain, because after all, didn’t I come here for the “Spanish experience”? Well, there are some things that Spain doesn’t exactly produce an excess of, so you almost virtually have to buy these articles imported, one example is make-up, which, when it comes to Spanish-made products, is pretty much limited to the polvos de Maderas by Maderas de Oriente, a very fragrant and luxurious-feeling face powder but which, nonetheless, I can’t use (much to my chagrin, because I LOVE the way they smell!) because they are too drying for me (probably the only people who could use them are little kids, like my youngest son, who still has that sweet, soft baby skin, and my oldest son, a teenager with greasy teenage skin!)
  • the lack of ecological, organic and vegetarian products, since unfortunately, Spain is still light years away from the “consciousness” and awareness of the importance of things like taking care of our planet and our health, and the south even more so than the more progressive and modernized northern regions
  • the very laid-back and non-proactive attitudes that prevail in general around here, my ex (when he wasn’t yet my ex) defined it as: “People here talk a lot about doing things, but no one ever gets up off their butts to actually do these things that they talk about so much”, which, however, on the other hand, can actually be converted into a “pro” when you’re in a situation, like I am, where much of what you are doing you need to do alone, at home, at least for the moment (in the case where, for example, you happen to be working on a project that you need to work on alone in the introspection of your home)

Pros (or why I love Andalucía):

  • well, it might be legendary and trite, but I bet every andaluz would agree, there’s just something about the sun in Andalucía that you won’t find anywhere else, that glorious fire that can give you a light suntan even in the middle of January and that stings so hard in July and August
  • the people here are so friendly
  • the cost of living is quite cheap here, compared to pretty much any other part of Spain or Europe, so if, like me, you are currently living on a fixed income like unemployment payments or pension payments of any sort, your salary will go further here than it would in a more expensive part of the world
  • the blue Mediterranean, which just can’t compare to those cold, turbulent, dark grey waters in the north Atlantic or even worse, the total LACK of water in a more interior setting
  • being able to go out and walk along the beach, no matter what is happening in your life, after all the beach is free
  • the great climate, and isn’t that what draws most foreigners who live here, to settle here rather than someplace else, to begin with?

And here is my wish-list, of things that I could probably do if I weren’t living in this part of the world:

  • have a car! Then I could TRAVEL (and if you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you’ve probably realized that I practically live to travel!)
  • earn enough money to take my kids on longer trips or holidays abroad, so they could get the opportunity to see the world and learn more open attitudes towards other cultures and languages

So who knows? Maybe one day I’ll just pick up that ole curriculum vitae and send it off to a hotel in Paris or a Starbucks café up in London.

But if I did that, I would miss that indelible Spanish sun that you can only enjoy on the coasts of Andalucía.

Andalucia

Thank you all for reading! I love to receive (good, positive, bright) comments, so please, don’t be shy, and leave me a word!

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The Blueberry Fiend

In the rest of the world I do believe it is blueberry season right about now.

Back in Canada I was the Blueberry Fiend, I used to gobble a ton of blueberries every day during the season and we’d freeze batches of them for the long, cold winter. We always had blueberries on hand, fresh ones, or frozen. We lived in the country, so we also went to gather them. They were the most luscious, juicy, delicious things…… and enormous too, in Canada the blueberries are humongous!

But now I haven’t seen a single fresh blueberry for the past six years or so, since we moved here to southern Spain from Barcelona.

In Barcelona you could still get blueberries – at exorbitant prices – at the exotic market La Boquería on the Ramblas (oh phooey, it didn’t occur to me to take a photo of it when we returned to Barcelona for a visit last year!), where they would sell you a teentsy tiny little basket of very small sized fresh fruit, which you would then guzzle whole in one sitting, for perhaps 4€. Preposterous! But at least you got a chance to taste blueberries again.

Now, these are the blueberries that I get:

Blueberries and Blueberry Jam

Once upon a time I was able to find one of my favourite brands, a French one, Bonne Maman, which was truly luscious. But these are just as tasty, and I always always always have a jar on hand. I eat them with everything: with yoghurt, with pancakes, with waffles, croissants……

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The Way I See Blogging

Well I was thinking of blogs, and I was thinking that I have ambivalent feelings about them. On the one hand I find them lots of fun, I myself personally enjoy reading blogs very much. You feel free to say anything that you want on a blog.

But on the other hand, I find that, well, you do wonder, what is the point of a blog anyways? It’s just a hobby. It doesn’t do anything for you.

Most blogs that you can find out there you will see that they were written mainly for and usually foremost as a way for the blogger to keep in touch with family and friends who live far away. You can tell that by the comments, where most of the people who write in obviously know the blogger well and comment on things about the blogger that it’s clear they didn’t get that information from the blog, because you’ve read the whole blog through and there is nothing in the blog about what the people are commenting. Like for example, the blogger’s real name, which apparently all the commenters know in spite of the fact that the blogger never uses his real name in the blog, etc.

Senselessness

So in that sense you can clearly see that keeping a blog is a hobby. It’s a hobby that makes sense for people who have lots of family and friends who live far away who read the blog as a way to keep in touch with the blogger.

And as a side effect it also entertains complete strangers, like me.

Now, I personally LOVE reading OTHER people’s fantastic and amazing blogs. They are life-changing for me, I’m most happy that they exist and that I get to read them. Peruse them. Devour them! Admire them.

I just mainly have a gripe with my own blog. With this one.

I find that, on the other hand, for someone like me to keep a blog, when no one I know personally reads it, well, you do sort of feel like you are writing into a vacuum.

You aren’t really writing the blog for anyone, because the people that you know don’t read it anyways. And unlike a website you aren’t writing it to give information which you hope will help people either. So, what and who in the world ARE you writing it for??

So What The … is this Blog Supposed to be About Anyways?

Anyways, for anyone out there scratching their heads and wondering what in the world exactly is this blog all about?? Is it supposed to be for publishing photos of the not-too-well-known countryside in this little corner of the world? Or are we supposed to be talking about intuitive healing, psychic readings and other woo-woo stuff?

Or maybe it’s just a sounding board for complaining about cramped, tiny inner city apartments haha!

Well, actually, I don’t really want to give this blogspot a specific focus. I’d like it to present more of a sort of “soft-focus” image, where I can just rant on about whatever grabs my attention at the moment. So yes, sometimes I probably will indeed gab on a bit about psychic development and other woo-woo subjects. But I’m also planning on publishing recipes that I like, sharing my favourite music with you, recommending books that I’ve personally read and that have impressed me, even occasionally blabbing on a bit about other websites that I’ve found groovy.

And of course, if I ever do anything interesting (probably maybe once every 2 years), I’d also like to share it with you here through this website.

More About Me

Well, we live in a cramped, crowded, tiny little (500 sq. ft.)(50 m.²) 2-bedroom in the city centre (although I think it’s more like a 1-bedroom with a walk-in closet hehe). It’s our dream to move out into the country one day (or my dream at least, I don’t think the kids could care less), but I don’t know where yet. But wherever it is, it’s gotta be HOT!

I first moved here with my ex (he wasn’t my ex then!) a few years back and it was quite nice at that time, perfect for a growing family with babies, close to the city centre and all the amenities. But since then life has changed, and I think we’ve outgrown this place.

I want my kids to run wild and barefoot out in the country (okay they don’t need to be barefoot they can wear flip-flops, but no dress shoes, sandals, etc.!), not to be afraid of eating food with their hands (well okay after washing them with soap of course) and have lots and lots of space to run and play in. I want them to not be afraid of bugs, maybe even have spiders for friends. All right for all of you shivering at this moment at what I just said, I’d like to add that I grew up in the country, I had a spider for a friend and I called him “Billy” (not that he ever cared!) and he was always hanging from the clothesline. I’m not scared of bugs or snakes but I do confess to a most horrible and insurmountable phobia to giant cockroaches. Which unfortunately we have a great deal of here in these warm climes. My dad’s always crowing about how up there in cold Canada they don’t have to worry about giant cockroaches!