31 Jan 2010

Searching for inspiration...

...but can't seem to find it. :o(

I haven't been too prolific around here since 2010 started. It's odd that I actually blogged more when I didn't have internet access at home, and have written practically nothing since I got the apartment hooked up again! I must be tired, I've definitely been feeling listless. I had planned to start up Fishy Fridays again this month... oops! (hopefully next week) I had intended to write up a progress report on my New Year's Resolutions (hoping that by doing so at the end of each month would maybe help me actually fulfil them for once, lol!), but since all I've managed to do on that list is play a tennis match and sign up for the gym (but only been twice), well it's not too encouraging. I haven't even been writing my little book reports whenever I've finished reading each book (for Monthly Reading) so I'm going to have to write them all up at once. Damn!

Most of this month has been uncharacteristically grey and rainy around here, which is definitely an energy-drain (isn't it amazing how much livelier one feels on a bright sunny day?), but the one nice thing about storms and cloudy skies (looking for that silver lining!) are the very interesting seas and skies you get right after a storm:

and the sunsets!

(Click on the pics for a bigger view. They were all taken from my balcony. When we first moved here we used to have conversations about the winter sunsets!)

Here's to hoping February brings better spirits and more inspiration!

14 Jan 2010

Bump... oops!

Well, today I got through my first car accident while sitting behind the wheel of the car (I was in a really scary one on the highway 7 years ago, but a friend was the one driving). No big deal. I was stopped at the bottom of a hill behind another car yielding to priority traffic at an intersection, and the car behind me didn't break properly -wet roads- and... BUMP! I must say, that first moment is definitely a heart-stopper, WTF! moment if ever I felt one. Pulled over to the side, got out to check the back of the car and the other driver, not too worried 'cause it looked mainly like bumper work, and then saw that the driver was a good friend of my sister's to whom I'd given conversational English classes last year!

If you have to go through a car accident (however small, it's still jarring), then the best choice is to have it with a friend behind the wheel of the other car and both of you to have insurance (even better when you're not at fault, lol!)! She was definitely a bit freaked out, non-stop apologetic and asking me if I was ok, and I was trying to calm her down and get her to relax and see that "really, no harm done, we just fill out the papers and the insurance companies take care of the rest". Turned out to be a little more complicated for me 'cause when I opened the trunk to see if it worked right... I couldn't close it afterwards! So I had to take my car straight to the repair-shop and am stuck at least a week without it. It's a good thing my English classes are close enough to home I can go by bus! :p

I was pretty surprised at how cool and calm I was taking it all in (after the initial shock and "phone-home" to find out what needed to be done in such a situation), but once the car had been dropped off and my Dad was driving me home, I started feeling fuzzy-brained and totally drained. Typical drop-off after an adrenaline rush. I still feel fuzzy. But all's well that ends well! And at least the both of us know now how to deal with an accident, the kind of info you need to have handy etc. And it gave me an excuse to come write something here! (still no news from the phone company on my internet connection, argh!!!) ;o)

11 Jan 2010

Monthly Reading: December'09

This would have been "Historical Fiction Month" had it not been for a couple of "vampire" books my sister gave me at Christmas! ;o)
I don't think I've read this much in a single month in a long time! Not since the last time I had some major travelling hours (in planes/trains/cars) to deal with...

A long drop...

Now this looks like a good way to start off the New Year!

Isn't it great to see a birthday present so enjoyed? ;o)

10 Jan 2010

Snowy Alicante

Remember me complaining last month because I was missing the unique sight of seeing snowy mountains from the beach in Alicante? Well, guess what?!


9 Jan 2010

Monthly Movies: December'09

Hmm, not much for December! That might have something to do with 5 days spent on the road heading South, or on the Holidays, or on the really busy last couple of weeks in Belgium. Well, at least they were damn good movies! :o)

"This is a story about boy meets girl. This is not a love story."
I like that. I don't quite know why, but I do! And I also really liked this movie! Sweet yet real. Funny. A lovely tale of a relationship that felt quie real to me, both in the good and the bad.
I was a bit worried about the presence of a narrator when the film started, but the device was very well used and served to remind us that this was a story. Someone is telling us a story. No big serious subject to think about. No big empty special-effects driven popcorn movie. Just a story. Between a boy and a girl. We don't get enough of those any more. Reminded me a bit of Once in that sense....
I don't think I've ever seen Zooey Deschanel in a movie, but I can see why people like her so much and I'm very much looking forward to seeing her in the Bones episode coming up this month! (which will be past by the time I post this in early January, lol!) She has some mannerisms that reminded me so much of Emily Deschanel that it was a bit disorienting at times! :p
PS: Great soundtrack
PPS: I've got to get my Dad to see this, he'll love it! ;o)

Can I just say... WOW!
Wow enough to have seen it twice within a week... once here in Alicante with my Dad (in Spanish) and then a week later in Barcelona (in VO!!!) with some friends... one of whom's sister participated in creating the special effects! Her company (Framestore) in London worked on the helicopters and other aerial vehicles as well as a few other things. Was really cool talking to her about it all after seeing the movie. :o)
I'll admit to having been sceptical about this movie when I saw the first trailer. But the second one started bringing me round. As a big cinema fan I was always going to go see it (what with it probably being a "historical" moment, or "the next big thing" on screens), but I'm so glad it was way better than I expected.
So, more specifically? Well the first time I saw it I was so wowed by the 3D  (it all feels so REAL!) that I was worried upon watching it a second time I might realise the story, acting etc. were cr@p or something. But nope, enjoyed it even more! Sure the whole plot is rather simplistic "humans are bad, over-exploiting natural resources, pushing a native people off their lands for the treasure" (loved the name of that mineral: unobtanium?!). Yes it brings to mind Dances With Wolves, Ferngully, The Emerald Forest and any other story of the exploitation/extermination of Indians, Aboriginees etc... But hey, it's a story that's as old as the world, and it still works! I would have preferred some slightly less two-dimensional bad guys, but I so enjoyed everything related to the Na'avi that I'll forgive James Cameron that much. :p
And that's what I really enjoyed, the whole world of the Na'avi. From the magical and ethereal Pandora they live on (a whole planet as a symbiotic organism with one species able to tap into those connections? fabulous!), to their grace and stature, to their culture and relationship with the people/world around them. And I just loved seeing Sigourney Weaver as one of them! ;o)

I'm also thrilled to hear it's doing so well on screens in the US and across the globe. It's nice to see an original movie having such a success (as opposed to the usual chapter X of a franchise or a sequel/prequel thingy). Personally I'd go see it again at least once on the big screen (and definitely in 3D) if it were playing in VO in Alicante. sigh!

6 Jan 2010

On the Twelfth day of Christmas

On Twelfth Night the Three Kings arrived in Alicante!

As you can see the kids were eagerly awaiting their arrival:

The Cabalgata de Reyes takes place on the evening of January 5th in just about every city and town in Spain. In some places the 3 Kings arrive by helicopter, others by boat... Here in Alicante they landed by helicopter in the bull ring and met up with a bunch of kids and then went up to the main hospital to take presents to the sick kids then headed back down for the parade which started out with a touch of Disney:

followed by dancers and of course a marching band (several of them, always present in any Alicante parade):

Guess who's next? The Virgin Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus and a group of shepherds!

Guarded by a Roman century:

and then the reason all these kids are here, the 3 Kings (whose names I don't know in English, lol)!!! Distributing presents and tossing candy left and right.




It's definitely an event for the kids, but still it was quite fun! And of course, as per tradition with any local holiday in Alicante, they finished up with some fireworks down by the harbour. ;o)

Video Update on Jan 10.2010: I finally had time to weave some of my video snippets of the Parade together! It's on my new cell phone camera so although to quality is ok it's not great (first time I used it, didn't discover how to zoom until a few das later, lol!)

3 Jan 2010

On the Tenth day of Christmas...

I thought of 10 New Year Resolutions!

(or at least I'm going to try to think of them as I write this! lol!)
  1. Html... figure out how to do my own Blogger layouts
  2. Act together (as in getting mine...)
  3. PhD!!! Which means first finishing my d@£n thesis
  4. unPack my boxes (2 years since moving back from Belgium)
  5. mY new travel blog! trips down memory lane and new adventures
  6. New life (post thesis), figure out what to do (teach? research? conservation? write?)
  7. Earn a living (damn money being so necessary for life!)
  8. Work out more and continue losing weight
  9. sYng again once I find a decent choir around here!
  10. Relearn how to play my flute
How 'bout you guys? Any special resolutions for 2010?

2 Jan 2010

On the Ninth day of Christmas...

I really enjoyed my 9th Day of Christmas... but I'm having trouble relating it to the 9th Day of Christmas! :p

Let's see...
  1. I caught a train to a town up the coast and walked along the sea wall.
  2.  I commiserated with some friends whose house had been broken into (while they were sleeping!) and tried to think of security ideas.
  3. I went for a short hike up a mountain with great views to the plains behind Barcelona (including Granollers where some of my family lives) and out to see and south towards Barcelona.
  4. We climbed around some Iberian (as in pre-Roman) ruins (stone walls).
  5. We visited a pound looking for a candidate guard dog for our friends (see #2) and I wished I could have taken most of the 300 inhabitants home with me!
  6. We had to jump start a car, panicking 'cause we were late for a movie (to which we had already bought tickets!)
  7. Saw AVATAR in 3-D for the second time (last Saturday), this time un-dubbed, enjoyed it as much (if not more!) than the first time!
  8. Talked on the phone with my kiwi sister and got the scoop on what it feels like to fall out an airplane. :o)
  9. .... ??? Am writing this post!
whew! There you go, 9 things I did on the 9th Day of Christmas!

Hope your first weekend of 2010 is as much fun as mine is so far! :o)

1 Jan 2010

On the Eighth day of Christmas...


I'm spending 1 day recuperating from the 7th day (or night) of Christmas! 7+1=8 ;o)

Did you eat your 12 grapes last night on the 12 strokes of midnight? We did!

And wishing my kiwi sister (in New Zealand) a Happy Birthday!!! We used to celebrate her birthday right after the twelve strokes of midnight by bringing out a candle-lit cake and then having presents. The year after while after we moved to Spain we started going out for New Year's Eve parties with our friends and then had a New Year's lunch for her birthday... which isn't always as wonderful as it sounds (in spite of the excellent food in the restaurants my dad chooses) due to getting to bed at 7-8 am after imbibing a wee bit too much bubbly and then cubatas (rhum+coke). oops! But for the past couple of years she's been enjoying the benefits of a summer birthday, lucky her! We've got a special surprise for her this year, which I won't specify yet because sometimes she comes around here to read and I don't know exactly when her boyfriend is going to spring it on her! ;o)

And if we can get tickets in a couple of hours we'll be sitting in a beautiful little Gothic church in the Barrio Gótico enjoying a Spanish classical guitar concert! Fingers crossed!

Link: Manuel Gonzalez - Spanish Guitar Masterpieces