Saturday, 27 February 2010

Spain Reminders - Everyone

So far, I keep coming across things that remind me of my friends at home. I decided to make it a regular feature while I am in Spain.

I may not have a specific post for you, but trust me, I have thought lovingly about all my friends here. I sent 16 postcards!! (I also have presents for some people, which trust me is a rare thing when I travel.) Though, I barely thought about Little Brother Mike, well maybe that is a lie, but I didn´t send him a postcard!! Never travels with the fam anymore, all grown up now.

Friday, 26 February 2010

UPDATE - Stuck In London

I don't like connections! Both ones that I had to catch I missed. This is the second time I have been stuck in Heathrow airport because a flight came in late and I couldn't get to the gate in time to catch my other one. Both times have involved a lot of waiting. After almost two hours in line I was told this afternoon that they could not fly me out until tomorrow (Saturday). However, I had inside information that there was an early evening Air Canada flight and I sweetly asked if I could get on that. She said she could. I then rushed to yet another Terminal. Heathrow has what feels like a million and you always fly into one but out of another. Once I got there the Air Canada flight was delayed well into the night and I didn't want a repeat of two weeks ago with a long wait in the airport, this time alone. I would be bored, lonely, tired, and probably more than a little pissed off. I went to the British Air people again and asked if they could just put me on the one tomorrow and let me have a hotel for the night. So now I am in this cool little hotel, they gave me a voucher for bus travel to and from it, and buffet dinner as well as breakfast tomorrow morning. I'm going to try to go into London, super early, to visit Portobello Road Market or something before catching my flight. Trying to turn a missed connection into positive thing!

Spain Reminders - Erin

So far, I keep coming across things that remind me of my friends at home. I decided to make it a regular feature while I am in Spain.

Both Erin and I love to sleep. Erin is known for the having really random sleeping hours. She would love it here where “the siesta” is a national fact. All stores close at some point between 1:30 and 2:30 in the afternoon and don’t reopen until 5:00 or 6:00. (They are then open much later, often well past 9:00.) Siestas, or a nap in the afternoon, help keep away from the afternoon heat, everyone retreats into their tiled houses and pulls down the blinds or closes the shutters. All the windows here have very heavy duty shutters or blinds. It is a little strange at this time of year because it isn’t that warm, mostly it is annoying since things are closed for such a big chunk of time mid-day. However, I have started to siesta myself on occasion and it quite nice.

Buenos Dias – Good Day

There hasn’t really been a typical day for my trip, since I have done so many different things that the days are fairly different. This is just a description of what I did Tuesday February 23rd, to give you an idea how my vacation is going.

My mom and I walked down to the car, which we have to leave in the public car park since the town’s streets are so narrow it is barely possible to drive them, let alone park a car on them. She showed me a shortcut down a long flight of stairs, which was much quicker than the usual walk past the church and through the town square. We drove up to the town square to meet my dad, who had a backpack and overnight bag, the square is a closer easier walk. Unsure of how long the drive to Granada was going to take, we were bringing an overnight bag in case we decided to stay over instead of driving home late. We drove down the windy road from the town to the main highway at the coast. Windy actually does not describe the constant curving of this thin mountain road, it is at times terrifying. Once down to the highway we decide to drive along the coast looking out over cliffs to the sea, little beaches, tiny white towns, and Moorish towers every few kilometres. Eventually we have to turn away from the water and head up through the mountains to Granada, it is a main highway so not scary like the road into our town. However, at least 25% of it is huge bridges over valleys, lakes, or gorges. We make it to Granda and head to Alhambra.

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Buenas Mañana – Good Morning

There hasn’t really been a typical day for my trip, since I have done so many different things that the days are fairly different. This is just a description of what I did Tuesday February 23rd, to give you an idea how my vacation is going.

My parents woke me up fairly early. They then went out to get croissant from the bakery and told me they were going to be getting chocolate ones today, I didn’t feel like that for breakfast so asked that they just bring me back a normal one. After getting dressed, I went into the kitchen (which is also the dining room, living room, and place that I had been sleeping last week when my grandparents were still here.) I used 3 big local oranges to make two little glasses of fresh squeezed juice for my dad and I, set the table with dishes and pulled out the usual breakfast stuff; cereal, milk, yogurt, bananas, butter for the croissants even though they don’t really need it. I was going to start the kettle and little pot of milk on the stove for my mom’s “cafe con leche” and my hot chocolate but it is a gas stove that you need to use matches with and I never really learned how to use it. After breakfast, I washed the dishes in the sink, a single sink which I hate and after Glen have vowed never to live in a place that didn’t have a double. My parents hung a load of laundry out on the terrace since it was a sunny day. No one has dryers, all the balconies, terraces, and even windows have clothes lines. The terrace at the apartment is the same size as the kitchen/dining/living room. It has views across town, through the hills and, on a clear day, all the way to the Mediterranean Sea.

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Spain Reminders - Teri

So far, I keep coming across things that remind me of my friends at home. I decided to make it a regular feature while I am in Spain.

A few days ago I visited Morocco for the day, the city of Tanger specifically. During the walking tour we were all harassed by men wanting to sell things. Usually jewellery, wooden figurines, and other trinkets, that I was not interested in. They didn’t just ask once and then wander off to someone else, they usually stayed with you, bugging you about it for a while. I either perfected looking bitchy or poor because after a curt “No, thank you!” they would stop talking to me, but with other people they wouldn’t leave them alone. Along with the men were young boys, between the ages of probably 7 to 14, who were selling gum. They also harassed in the same fashion. I wasn’t bothered by the little boys, they were all clean, nicely dressed, spoke English, seemed to be having fun with each other, and were treated with respect by the men selling trinkets. However a few hours later as I was leaving on the ferry it dawned on me, it was a Thursday. With Teri in Teachers College at UofT, I am much more aware of education. Why weren’t these boys in school!?!

Who´s The Monkey?

A Baby Gibraltar Barbary Macaque
By Christine Sweeton

Heather and I had a little weekend visit. We stayed in Spain at night but did a day trip to the British territory of Gibralter. They have monkeys!

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Spain Reminders - Jerrica

So far, I keep coming across things that remind me of my friends at home. I decided to make it a regular feature while I am in Spain.

I have been woken up each morning by the sound of a real roster who lives in the yard next door (and right below my window) even though we are staying in the middle of a town. While he is very pretty, he is also super annoying and makes more of a squawk sound then a true roster call. This is way worse than my roster sounding alarm clock at home because at least with it you can turn it off. Also, he has no sense of time, sometimes he does it at 4:oo am.

Saturday, 20 February 2010

My Spanish

English - Spanish - Pronunciation

Can you help me? – Puede ayudarmepweh-deh ah-yoo-dahr-meh
Go Away – Déjemedeh-khe-meh
I’m here alone – Vengo solabehn-go so-lah
Condoms – Condones kon-do-nehs
STDs – Venéreasbeh-neh-reh-ahs

JennD taught me, she speaks a crazy number of languages. These are the things that are not usual tourist words but we figured were important.

Friday, 19 February 2010

Spain Reminders - JennD

So far, I keep coming across things that remind me of my friends at home. I decided to make it a regular feature while I am in Spain.

I use Spanish all the time. There are a lot of English speaking people around however many of the shops are run by people who speak no English at all. I am so thankful for JennD helping me learn the little I know, however I am still floundering a lot. I don’t know the numbers well enough so I keep having to hold up fingers.

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Spain Reminders - Anna

So far, I keep coming across things that remind me of my friends at home. I decided to make it a regular feature while I am in Spain.

I am drinking probably about 6 little glasses of milk a day. The milk here is so insanely good. They use UHT (Ultra-High Frequency Treatment) instead of pasteurization like Canada. It has a slightly different taste, creamier I think. Also, it doesn’t need to be refrigerated until opened. When I visited Anna in France a couple of years ago, I tried to bring some back, which didn’t work out so well.

Spain Reminders - JennB

So far, I keep coming across things that remind me of my friends at home. I decided to make it a regular feature while I am in Spain.

I saw a Hyundai Accent driving around town this morning and it was huge, seriously one of the biggest cars I have seen thus far. We have rented a VW Pollo, which I don’t even think they have in Canada, even it seems pretty big at times. Also, at the last minute we decided to add the full, final, complete coverage to it, and thank goodness because I don’t think we can avoid scratching something on it in these tiny streets.

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Spain Reminders - Steph

So far, I keep coming across things that remind me of my friends at home. I decided to make it a regular feature while I am in Spain.

I love grocery shopping in foreign countries, we went yesterday. The place was huge and of course I wanted to buy and try everything. I just ended up getting a cool ice cream treat thing, though I couldn’t find the ice cream Mars bars that I love, I got something similar. The ice cream in Europe is always so cool, but fairly expensive. Also, my Dad bought salami, something Steph and I ate a lot of in London.

In Spain

I´m in Spain and I will try to post as much as possible. The Internet Cafe is right beside the apartment and it isn´t very expensive. However, there are lots of other things I want to be doing so I won´t really be online all that offen. I won´t clear out all the spam comments until I get back to Canada, so don´t click on any links. (Also note that spell check doesn´t work here, for English anyway.)

Saturday, 13 February 2010


So the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic Games have started. The opening ceremonies were tonight and I missed them since I was in a bus from Ottawa to Brantford from 4:30pm to Midnight. I love the Olympics and hope to get a chance to watch some events while in Spain. I'm sure JennB's blog (See Link on Right) is going crazy. Lucky her and her topical writing! As mentioned in an earlier post, she is there volunteering. Check out her blog, it is pretty exciting! I can't wait for all the events to start, we have never gotten a gold medal on our own soil, but we have to this time. GO CANADA GO!

Friday, 12 February 2010

Just How I Roll

I may have spent from 5:30 to 7:30 this morning doing an interesting combination of laundry, packing, and sleeping. Jerrica was making fun of me last night for my decision to just go to bed and not start packing for my 2 week trip to Spain beyond pulling my suitcase out of the closet. Also JennB called around midnight and was in a state of panic when I told her I hadn't started packing yet but was leaving for the bus station from work the next day. This morning it all rolled out perfectly though, except I almost forgot my tickets and passport (very key items.) However I did forget a sweater I had wanted to bring, but I don't even know if I would have had room for it since I'm bringing a lot of stuff (not near the efficient packing that I normally do - it was just too early.) The annoying thing is that I will need to repack it all tomorrow morning in Paris before heading to the airport, since I have all my toiletries in my carry-on at the moment.

Thursday, 11 February 2010

And Now I Plan

I started coming across Moleskine products about a year ago. Every now and then, usually in a boutique style book store, I would see the notebooks and planners. As most people know, I have a bit of a love affair going on with my planner. I really wanted one of these!! It was thin, chic, and had a fun little history. (Used by Vincent van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, & Ernest Hemingway.) I looked on the website and decided very specifically that I wanted the Moleskine 2010 Large Weekly Planner Horizontal, which only comes in Black. It had the same style page layout as the planners I had been using all the way through university, it also was a similar size and shape. I put it on my list but it turns out, that specific kind wasn't really sold anywhere in Canada and was very difficult and expensive to ship here. Steph took up the challenge and arranged to have it sent to Dave's parents in Florida and then pick it up from them during a recent visit. She gave it to me last night and I am exstatic!! I have already moved everything from my old planner over and love everything about my new Moleskine. Another reason I wanted to post about this is that it provides a logical segway to mention this website I love; Stuff White People Like. It is hilarious, and of course it mentions Moleskines.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Only A Slight Difference

I think if I did a blind taste test I could identify between Butterscotch and Caramel. In general though, they are similar in colour, taste, and use. I decided to look into it more and found that they are actually two distinct stages of sugar, which appears to have around nine different stages depending how hot you heat it.
The term describes the flavour of brown sugar and butter. Often other ingredients are included as well and it is very similar to toffee. With butterscotch the brown sugar is only heated to between 112-115°C giving it a sugar concentration of 85%, this is called the the Soft Ball stage. On the other hand, the sugar used in toffee is heated more to 146-154°C and the Hard Crack stage which also gives it a higher sugar concentration of 99%.
Any type of sugar can be used to create caramel and it is basically the word used to describe almost burnt sugar. This should not be confused with Burnt Sugar, the sugar stage after Brown Liquid. Brown Liquid occurs when sugar is heated to 170°C and has 100% sugar concentration, this is caramel.

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Basic Tourist Spanish

English - Spanish - Pronunciation

Yes - Si - see
No -No - noh
Please - Por favor - por fah-vohr
Thank You - Gracias - grah-see-ahss
Where is...? - Donde esta...? - dhohn-dheh ehs-tah
Bathrooms - Baños - bahn-yos
How much is it? - Cuanto cuesta? - kwahn-toh kweh-stah
Can you help me? - Puedes ayudarme - pweh-dhe ah-yoo-dh-ahr-meh

JennD has been teaching me, she speaks a crazy number of languages. I'm a pretty frustrating student for sure, but she has helped me so much!!

Monday, 8 February 2010

Paris Comes Through

I gather there have been a number of commercials lately about selling your gold/jewellery and Ter thought it might be a good idea for this pendant she had but no longer wears. However, neither Ter nor I had any idea of its worth and didn’t want the sketchy “Sell You Gold” type store to take advantage of that. So, on the way into Paris on Saturday Teri and I stopped at a Mississauga mall to see if a jeweller could give a rough estimate of what it could be sold for. This was a very snobby mall, any mall that contains a Holt Renfrew is pretty upscale. We went into 3 or 4 jewellery stores, including Peoples and Birks but no one would talk to us. They kept saying, “Oh, only gemologist can tell you that.” Even though we were only asking for a brief approximation. For these places to have their gemologist look at it would cost $40 for an appraisal, which was way more official than needed.

I finally just said to Teri that we should try in Paris at the local jewellery store since he is super nice and I’m sure could tell her about the pendant. I seem to remember bringing in some pieces I had at one point and he told me about them. (It is also the place I bought my High School Ring and just in general the place my family and I go get things repaired, cleaned etc.) She was very discouraged and quite sceptical. However, we were getting no where at this mall. I kept insisting we try again when we got to Paris since we had to go shopping downtown anyways. When we got into Paris we ended up doing a few errands downtown and sure enough decided to try out Paris Jewellers, the local guy. I was worried that my faith in the kindness and general helpfulness of small town people would fall though. I like to think that, regardless of location, humanity will come through for the best, but cynical people get me scared that it isn’t always the case. However, in my experience it really usually is.

He came through, and was amazing. Looked at it with his loop, told us what carat of gold it was, approximately how many carats of diamonds were in it, and what its value was new. He also told us that he thought it was a piece from Peoples that they had a few years back. We had gone into Peoples!!! They hadn’t told us anything. He also said he would be able to buy it but only at its wholesale price, which would be less, and so he gave Teri suggestions of where to go to sell it and how much to ask for. We were so surprised at his willingness to share his expertise at no cost to us and even give suggestions to sell that would be best for Teri and not himself. Such a kind man!! I was proud of my small town. Paris truly is amazing!!

Friday, 5 February 2010

I Lost A Little Lustre

I just read a really interesting article by Martha Irvine called Is blogging losing its lustre with youth? It made me a little sad. It isn't that I think Always Standing is the only blog out there but I didn't think it was as popular as roughly one in 10 online adults maintain a blog!! I guess as I watched my friends one by one start blogging I knew that my hobby wasn't that special. (See My Links on Right.) I still don't have Twitter, though I'm sure at some point I will cave just like I did with Facebook. I always thought that since blogging was a more long-form type of writing that me putting effort in to do it was a little out of the ordinary. I guess not.

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Crazy Quote

"Laugh, and the world laughs with you. Laugh hysterically, for no apparent reason, and they'll leave you alone." - found on the internet

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

New Social Convention

Society has a huge pile of social conventions, little rules that we live by so things are easier. They aren't laws and they aren't talked about very often, however they are important. Things like you stand on the right-hand side of the escalator and walk up the left. When in a busy hallway, walk on the right. Let those who are coming out the elevator, subway, or bus out first before getting in. Now I would like to suggest another one, which actually seems counter-intuitive seeing the last one I just listed. The is mainly for Canada, and especially for the winter but I believe that when meeting at a door the person who is outside trying to get in should be universally allowed to first, from the cold into the warm. I hope that catches on.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Cleo Eyes Under Curly Hair

Now That's A Lot Of Make-Up
By Christine Sweeton
Yes, I took it of myself! Heading out on the town night or two after New Years with Jeska. (The "town" being Brantford.) It isn't really my "usual" self-portrait so I thought I would post it to show that I can take a picture of myself that has a, be it slightly, different head tilt and expression.

Monday, 1 February 2010

Missed It

I have been edging towards 1000 posts and looking forward to blogging about this important Always Standing milestone. However, I missed it. I guess I wasn't paying attention but now we are just past it. So, this is post 1003!!!! I can't believe I have written that much. (Hopefully, for the most part people have found all those posts interesting. If you recently started reading, you could always go back and catch up from the very beginning, I have done that a couple of times and it is kind of strange to see my life and writing change over the years. Keep track of how far you get though, since it is way too much to read in one go.) I hope to bring some changes to the blog over the next little while and I hope to keep on writing well into the future. Here is to my next 1000!!!