Sunday, 27 July 2008

What´s new?

A meaningless title for today´s offering.

My tireless and industrious wife points out that I have not extruded one for too long (a blog, that is).

Trouble is, there is so much to do each day here, what with making chicken runs, finding the hen´s eggs (latest place an old wine box) reading books - Moby Dick (the whale, not the man, it turns out), a biog of Evelyn Waugh, Stone Roses by Llamazares: newspapers, (El Pais) magazines, Nat Geographic, New Yorker, Casa y Campo (Design the Lavatory of your Dreams´); filling up the bird bath (an old frying pan), watering the plants including the new fig tree; making up my own recipes for cold soups that have mint in them; walking the dogs, as well as washing, brushing, scratching, de-ticking, de-fleaing, stroking and shouting angrily at them.
Scant time left for bloggish reflection.

And, on top of all that, I find that we can now get uninterrupted live video stream from the world´s race tracks such as Saratoga and Newmarket. This could be ruinous as well as time-consuming, although I seem to have lost the urge to bet.

Another major consumer of time in rural Spain is shopping.
As house cook, I am often dispatched with the granny-style shopping trolley and a fistful of euros, ´ get what looks good.´
It is, for me, a step back in time to the nineteen forties, when, as a lad of eight or so, I would go ´down to the shops,´ for my old Gran. Here, now - like then, it involves going into several different shops - butcher, fishmonger, grocer, baker - and probably standing in line in each.
In the butchers and the fishmongers, there are benches so you can sit in line and wait your turn. This is a good idea, as every order can be a lengthy affair. For one thing, if , for example, you want minced meat - carne picada - you will be shown the unminced pieces for approval first, before they are put through the mincer. Then if, say, a kilo is ordered, it is usual to ask the butcher to divide it into maybe four portions. No problem. If you want liver, come back Friday, as the animals are killed Thursday.
In the fish boutique, the chosen trout or bream will be gutted and cleaned in front of you. All this takes time, especially when the lady in front, who is ordering several very odd looking fishes in very small quantities, is also telling the fish lady - and everyone else in earshot -about her brother and his problems with his teenage son in Burgos.
The ironmonger can be the limit, even for me. Waiting in line, while there is an endless and lively discussion involving four men, about the wisdom of purchasing two washers, which cost 10 cents apiece, may be an authentic part of life as she is lived in Sahagun, but it´s a bit too authentic for me.

So, if I am going to blog more regularly, I will have to get up earlier.

Thursday, 3 July 2008

The last refuge of a scoundrel

John McCain, in an Independence day outpouring of gibberish intended to get him elected President, lays it on the line:

¨Patriotism is deeper than its symbolic expressions, than sentiments about place and kinship that move us to hold our hands over our hearts during the national anthem. It is putting the country first, before party or personal ambition, before anything.¨

For Patriotism, read Fascism.

It is, as Shaw said, many years ago, ¨Saying ´My country, right or wrong, is like saying
My mother, drunk, or sober.¨

I have lived in more than one country for more than a few years at a time during my life, and I am of the opinion that, as Hemingway once remarked, ¨There are pros and cons to every fucking country.¨

Are we to suppose that McCain approves of the Afgans, the Iranians, the Iraqis, the Israelis, the Pakistanis or the Palestinians, for example,
- to say nothing of the Russians or Chinese,
- holding the same opinions as himself?

Surely, he must. How can he logically not?

And where has that got us so far? And where is it going to get us?

In the unlikely event of any Americans still reading this blog, think about the implications of this a bit before you vote.

(Not that you should expect much more from Obama, his remarks for the Fourth of July were a little less crass, but not all that much)

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

And another thing..

Animals, whom we have made our slaves, we do not like to consider our equal.
Said Charles Darwin.

I think I have written this bit below before, somewhere, but no matter.

Centuries ago, a Christian priest was trying to convert a Mongol leader.
´If you become a Christian before you die, you will go to live in Heaven forever,´ the priest said.
´How many horses will I have?´said the Mongol.
´None,´ the priest said, ´There are no horses in Heaven.¨
¨Then I don´t want to go,´said the Mongol.
And he was right. A Heaven without animals, with only people, would be Hell.





Sad blog today.
Mimi just left town to live in Belgium with a charming young couple who already have a dog called Che, whom they practically carried from Burgos to Santiago.
I would like to put a pic of Mimi in this blog, but I am too stupid to know how. However, there is one in the entry for May 23rd.
But, rather than repine, I am consoling myself with the extraordinary fact that we have been so lucky with our animals.
We had three dogs, (we still have two) all strays, and all - without question - the finest dogs anyone ever had. We have three chickens, unquestionably the best in the world, equable and gregarious, and a canary who is the greatest warbler since Jussi Bjorling ( I have no doubt spelled that wrongly, and have certainly left off the two little dots over the ´o´) And in Pennsylvania, we had the world´s two nicest ferrets.
So, it is blessings counting time.
But, still. I did nearly cry when I handed Mimi over.
Tomorrow, I will take the furries over to Terradillos de Los Templarios to see my donkey friend there and give him, or her, a carrot and an ear-scratch.