Lesson 1524 – Barcelona – Day 2 – continued

 

After foiling that crime most foul, we made our way to our Airbnb located down a narrow alley and which *gasp* literally sat on top of a bakery and coffee shop. (You can bet you’ll be hearing more about this.)

The apartment was on the 3rd floor up three flights of twisty, narrow tile stairs. Apparently handicap accessibility is not a priority in areas where the cut stones used on the roads are older than the United State’s *entire* history.

After unloading our duffels (we had decided to live out of carryon luggage to make plane check-ins easier) we washed up and were ready to go explore Barcelona.

It was about 11:30 am – a reasonable time for lunch, right? Nope, not in Spain. Lunch takes place around 2 pm and then dinners are typically served around 8:30 – 9:00.

But when you’ve been up all night on a very uncomfortable plane, you’ve lugged your belongings down a cobbled street and up three flights of steps, you’re pretty much ready to eat something.

Anything.

Fortunately we found our way to an outdoor café where we ate our first Spanish Potato Tortilla (don’t think Mexican here, think a potato and onion frittata) and drank our first bottled water. Unlike in the United States, you aren’t served a glass of water when you sit down at a table. People don’t drink the tap water in Barcelona and so all water needs to be purchased. If you’ve built up a thirst this can actually add more to your food tab than your alcohol would.

We also tried Pan con Tomato – a tapas that consists of a bit of toast with garlic and tomato rubbed on it and is found on *every* restaurant’s menu.

Here we were, on first few hours in Spain and already we had tried two tapas that I had read about – off to a great start.

After that, still hungry, (tapas by definition are “small plates” that are meant to be shared, allowing everyone to have a bite or two) we ordered sandwiches. I got the goat cheese sandwich (their goat cheese is different from what I’m used to , it’s sliced and is almost like a soft mozzarella instead of having a spreadable “paste-like” texture.) Put on a soft, yet crusty roll, I remarked that it was delicious and felt like I was “eating a cloud.” (Okay so maybe this writer’s brain was a little more tired than I was letting on.)

When I look back at my photos from this, our very first meal in Spain, did I take photos of the food to remind me? To share the experience with others? No. Instead I took photos of the flowers near the restaurant.

Bright yellow, smashing pink – vitality.

Having come from New Hampshire – where the trees were still barren and grey, where the ground was a mixture of mud and defeated snow,  I was utterly enchanted by the flowers around us. Promises of warmth, harbingers to remind us that renewal, even in the darkest of winter, is always, always possible.

***

Wendy Thomas writes about the lessons learned while raising children and chickens in New Hampshire. Contact her at Wendy@SimpleThrift.com

Also, join me on Facebook to find out more about the flock (children and chickens) and see some pretty funny chicken jokes, photos of tiny houses, and even a recipe or two.

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Lesson 1523 – Barcelona – Day 2

 

Thank God for the morning (which meant we would soon be departing the all-night flight from hell.) While Rosemarie woke up refreshed from her cross-Atlantic nap, I rubbed my hip and knees, trying to get feeling back into my legs.

We ate (because if we are anything, we are polite fliers) the breakfast food that was passed our way. I doubled up on coffee whenever the steward walked by. Holding my cup up like a Dicken’s street urchin – I’d pathetically widen my eyes and say “more please.” We had an entire day ahead of us and if I didn’t want to crash, I’d need a little help in the guise of caffeine.

But seriously, what’s a little sleep deprivation when you got on a plane in New Jersey and you’d be getting off of the plane in Spain?

Obsessively I watched the travel screen on the monitor in front of me. Increment by tiny increment we made progress to our final destination.

Soon this was the view I had outside my window.

Followed by this one.

We had arrived.

Whenever you go to another country, you have to pass through customs. In Spain that means that you wait about an hour in line to stand in front of a person in a glass booth who takes your passport, holds it up to compare you to the photo, stamps it and then tells you “buenos dias.”

While going through customs, I didn’t have to undress. I didn’t have to take my shoes off. My luggage wasn’t x-rayed or pawed through. I didn’t have to answer questions. Instead, after a quick check, I was welcomed to their country. Rosemarie and I both left Spanish customs with smiles on our faces.

Here’s a pro-travel tip. If you go to a foreign country, go with someone who likes to keep her ducks in a row. Rosemarie had printed out spreadsheets with all of the information we’d need for our trip. She had our tickets and it was all kept in a travel folder. She even watched a video of how to go through the airport to get to the busses.

I am forever grateful for her organization skills. I tend to be more of a “whatever” traveler and there is no doubt in my mind that even now, several weeks after the end of our trip, I think I’d *still* be in that airport looking for those darn busses.

We took the bus to Plaça de Catalunya which in English means Catalonia square (don’t get excited, while I know some Latin, my Spanish speaking skills are atrocious.) The large park/square is filled with people (and we went during the off season, I can’t even imagine how crowed it would be in the summer), statues, fountains, and it is also has pigeons, many, many pigeons. Just like in every movie you’ve ever seen with pigeons in a plaza people were feeding the birds and running through to make them take flight. How lovely, I thought as I was careful to watch where I stepped.

We were met by Rosemarie’s son who was doing an internship in Barcelona. He would show us how to get to our rental (an apartment through Airbnb) and then we’d all have lunch together.

If you do any reading about Barcelona, you’ll discover that there are a lot of pickpockets there. They don’t assault you, they just take your belongings and there are so many of them that the police essentially don’t do anything about it.

The general attitude is that if you are careless with your belongings then you deserve to lose them.

Pickpockets of Spain were my bears of New Hampshire. I made sure that everything I had was zipped or locked. I carried a small bag across my body and I periodically put my hand to it to make sure it was still there. I carried nothing in my pockets. I prepared by taking appropriate precautions for protecting my property.

The lady in front of me at the cross walk, however, might not have been so fortunate if I hadn’t been on the lookout for these bothersome thieves.

While we were waiting for a light to change so that people could cross a major road, I noticed a woman standing in front of me looking intently at a pair of sunglasses that had been casually stuck in a mesh backpack side pocket. Even I (someone with no pickpocket skills) would have been able to grab those. The wanna-be thief moved directly behind the sunglasses and right in front of me.

I knew what she wanted and I knew what she was going to do.

When the light turned green and the crowd started to move, I quickly positioned myself in between her and her potential victim. I tapped the backpack woman on her shoulder and told her that she should probably put her sunglasses away because that woman over there (and I pointed) was planning on stealing them.

The pickpocket, now foiled, turned to me and while I didn’t speak her language, I fully understood that she was passionately cursing me.

Well that was an interesting start.

But like the bear in my New Hampshire walk, I had not only faced my biggest fear of our trip, but I had managed to gain confidence in my ability to stare it down. On day one, I had become empowered. – “Hey look, I can take care of myself and protect my property. Yup, that’s me, I’m a bad-ass.”

I can say that I lost nothing to pickpockets the entire time I was in Spain. It turned out that my fear was little more than that of a buzzing mosquito in the bedroom. Sure, absolutely take precautions to keep it out of there in the first place, but if one gets in, swat it away and it will do no harm.

***

Wendy Thomas writes about the lessons learned while raising children and chickens in New Hampshire. Contact her at Wendy@SimpleThrift.com

Also, join me on Facebook to find out more about the flock (children and chickens) and see some pretty funny chicken jokes, photos of tiny houses, and even a recipe or two.

Like what you read here? Consider subscribing to this blog so that you’ll never miss a post. And feel free to share with those who may need a little chicken love.

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Lesson 1522 – Done (for now)

 

 

I had my surgery last Monday and after having several doctors and nurses telling me that my procedure would be very involved and complicated, it turned out the cancer was removed on the first pass. Absolutely no one (especially me) was expecting this result. This of course meant that I now had the option of having the Mohs surgeon close the wound (fairly complicated but well within his skill set) or go forward with the surgery planned for the next day with the plastic surgeon.

Pros:

  • I get it done then and it’s over.
  • I don’t have to have surgery the next day where it was planned to have me under for 1.5 hours.
  • I don’t have to worry for an entire night about surgery the next day. (trust me, when you’ve had nearly 2 dozen surgeries from a car accident, you can’t help but worry and even fall into a little PTSD about surgery.)

Cons:

  • I may not have the prettiest scar. Although a Mohs surgeon is trained in wound closure, they are not plastic surgeons.

It honestly didn’t take me long to decide.

“Go for it.” I told him.

I came home with a closed wound and the knowledge that I wouldn’t have to go to another operating room any time soon. Win-win in my book.

The first few days were rough, I couldn’t eat hard food and it hurt to talk, yawn, and my kids were under strict orders to not make me laugh.

On Wednesday I graduated to soft food. By Thursday I was driving again and doing a few errands. By Saturday I was at NH’s state capital marching for science.

I just got back from the doc’s office this morning where they removed the stitches. I’m now in phase two of wound care where steri-strips are making sure the incision doesn’t pull apart. Once those strips fall off (5 – 7 days) I’m done.

Well almost.

They insist I use SPF 30 sun block on my face and wear a hat whenever I’m outside for the next year. I’m not really a hat kind of gal.

“On a scale of 1 – 10 how important is it to wear a hat?” I asked.

“1000.”

Okay then. It looks like the retired beach comber look is the winner. In the end, with all things considered, it’s actually a small price to pay.

***

Wendy Thomas writes about the lessons learned while raising children and chickens in New Hampshire. Contact her at Wendy@SimpleThrift.com

Also, join me on Facebook to find out more about the flock (children and chickens) and see some pretty funny chicken jokes, photos of tiny houses, and even a recipe or two.

Like what you read here? Consider subscribing to this blog so that you’ll never miss a post. And feel free to share with those who may need a little chicken love.

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Lesson 1521 – New looks

By the time you read this I will already be in surgery getting a new look from my friendly oncology surgeon. (I’ve asked for the “Meryl Streep circa 2009” look, we’ll see how it goes.

I wrote about my little cancerous pre-existing condition during the whole healthcare debacle. It seems they found a tumor in my face and the only way to get it out is to get it out.

So in I go.

But no worries, in order to amuse myself, I get to endlessly repeat this joke:

Hey, does my face hurt?

No, why?

Cause it’s killing me!

 

(what? Too soon?)

Anyway, the face I’ve had for all these years will be looking a little different in the very near future. And so in preparation, I’ve tried out a few new looks.

Here’s the “I’m young and I get that whole emoji thing” look:

The “I shot an elephant in my pajamas” look: (and how he got in them, I’ll never know.)

The “I’m a dedicated gardener” look:

The retired beachcomber look:

The “I have (lots of) kids” look:

And the “everything is going to be just fine” look:

Catch you all on the other side. Go out and do something you love today.

 

***

Wendy Thomas writes about the lessons learned while raising children and chickens in New Hampshire. Contact her at Wendy@SimpleThrift.com

Also, join me on Facebook to find out more about the flock (children and chickens) and see some pretty funny chicken jokes, photos of tiny houses, and even a recipe or two.

Like what you read here? Consider subscribing to this blog so that you’ll never miss a post. And feel free to share with those who may need a little chicken love.

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Lesson 1520 – Barcelona – Day 1

It had been conceived during the holidays and grew to reality over the next few months. I had stopped over my friend Rosemarie’s house to drop off a gift and during our conversation, she mentioned that she was going to Barcelona in April.

“You should come,” she told me.

I thought about it for a minute. “Okay,” I replied. Having just come off of my Border-to-Border New Hampshire walk, I was game for more adventure. (Note – it’s a heck of a lot easier to travel when your kids are older.)

What followed was a lot of planning, some shifting of schedules, obsessing about what to pack (at least I didn’t have to worry about bears), and meetings over beer(s) where we’d each huddle over our guidebooks and pick out places that we wanted to see and visit.

The day came to leave. After finally saying “Frig it, if I don’t have it, I’ll buy it over there,” I was packed and ready to go. Rosemarie picked me up at 10 am and we drove to the bus station in order to take us to Logan Airport in Boston for our first flight of two flights.

When we got to Logan, the weather was rainy and foggy, conditions which threatened catching our connection in New Jersey, but because the Gods decided to smile on us, (and because Rosemarie is ADAMANT about getting to transportation centers early) we were able to get on an earlier (though slightly delayed) flight. It turned out that if we had stayed on our original flight we would have missed our connection to Spain – so yeah on Rosemarie.

Even with being booked on an earlier (delayed) flight, we still had time before we needed to board our first flight to New Jersey. What does one do in an airport with extra time?

BLOODY MARY(s)!

One, two drinks (along with a veritable salad served as drink garnishes) and we were ready to go. We got on the plane to New Jersey.

Of course, even with this earlier flight being delayed, we were still early for our final flight. What does one do again in an airport with extra time?

MORE BLOODY MARY(s)!! One drink, two drinks, why not? We weren’t driving the plane.

Of course there is always a logical consequence of drinking alcohol, but who cares! We were on a great adventure!

Our next step in the journey was boarding the plane that would take us across the ocean. It was this very one seen standing in the rain, which would transport us from cold and drizzly New England to bright and sunny Spain.

Was I nervous about flying in storm conditions?

Not at all.

Why?

Because BLOODY MARY(s)(s)!!

We finally got on the plane, took off, and for the first part of our flight, this is what I saw.

After a short while the view was this.

Rosemarie managed to sleep. Like a baby.

I didn’t. Not one wink. But who cared, tomorrow we would land in a place I had never stepped foot in before. That was certainly worth all the tossing and turning any maddeningly long flight could ever throw at me.

***

Wendy Thomas writes about the lessons learned while raising children and chickens in New Hampshire. Contact her at Wendy@SimpleThrift.com

Also, join me on Facebook to find out more about the flock (children and chickens) and see some pretty funny chicken jokes, photos of tiny houses, and even a recipe or two.

Like what you read here? Consider subscribing to this blog so that you’ll never miss a post. And feel free to share with those who may need a little chicken love.

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Lesson 1519 – Not for the faint of heart

I had wanted to start the week off writing about my recent trip to Spain and France (as you can probably figure out, I came home with some great stories) or continue with another chapter of Charlotte’s Web. But something happened the night I came back from my trip that takes precedence.

My flock was hit and it was hit hard by a vicious predator.

The night I got back, while I slept (I took some sleeping medication in order to overcome the jet lag) *something* got into our coop. Five chickens were killed outright and four were left wounded. By the afternoon two more had died. That left me with  two remaining ones that I thought had a chance.

The damage was frightening. Heads were crushed, beaks were pulled out. On two birds the bellies were opened and the innards eaten. It was a literal blood bath. Continue reading

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Lesson 1518 – Lessons Learned from Charlotte’s Web – Chapter 3

In Chapter 3 of Charlotte’s Web Wilbur the pig goes to live in the Zuckerman’s barn. At first it is lovely, warm and holds many new experiences. It’s got ladders, pitch forks, monkey wrenches, scythes, lawnmowers, snow shovels, ax handles, milk pails, water buckets, empty grain sacks, and rust rat traps. But soon the barn becomes familiar and Wilbur gets bored with his confinement.

Fern comes to visit Wilbur when she can, but Wilbur wants more. He realizes that he never has any fun – no walks, no rides, no swims. Bored, Wilbur says to himself “There’s never anything to do around here.”

“I’m less than two months old and I’m tired of living,” he adds.

A goose overhears him, tells him about a loose board in the fence and convinces Wilbur to escape. When Wilbur sticks his head through the hole in the fence the goose asks him “how does it feel to be free?”

Wilbur escapes into the yard where Mrs. Zuckerman sees him and alerts Mr. Zuckerman and Lurvy that the pig is loose. They chase Wilbur who gets flustered and confused.

Finally, Mr. Zuckerman holds out a pail of slops toward Wilbur. He smells the warm milk, potato skins, wheat middlings, Kellogg’s Corn Flakes, and a popover left from the Zuckerman breakfast.

“”No, no, no, cries the goose. “You’ll miss your freedom.”

But Wilbur follows Mr. Zuckerman back to the barn where he is rewarded with the slops.

“I’m really too young to out into the world alone,” he thought as he lay down.

 

Chapter 3 Lessons Learned

Look at all the wonderful things in Wilbur’s new home!  Some things are used in the summer, some in the winter, and some every day.

Lesson learned –Look around, there are a lot of things about home to love.

 

Wilbur becomes complacent in his new surroundings and gets bored, but ulatimately if he would just listen to himself, he’d know what to do.

Lesson learned – if you want to have fun– go on a walk, go for a ride or a swim

 

Wilbur wonders what it would feel like to be free and so he pushes his way through the hole in the fence.

Lesson learned – If you want to know what it feels like to be free, then you need to escape from where you are.

 

When Wilbur escapes, Mrs. Zuckerman sounds the alarm.

Lesson learned – Be careful, when you try new things, news travels fast.

 

It takes a bucket of slops to get Wilbur back into his pen.

Lesson learned – never underestimate the power of appealing to someone’s stomach

 

Having a full tummy and tired from his adventures, Wilbur takes a nap.

Lesson learned – there’s no place like home.

Bonus lesson learned – Remember, all moms have eyes in the back of their heads, if you’re doing something wrong, they’ll catch you.

 

***

Wendy Thomas writes about the lessons learned while raising children and chickens in New Hampshire. Contact her at Wendy@SimpleThrift.com

Also, join me on Facebook to find out more about the flock (children and chickens) and see some pretty funny chicken jokes, photos of tiny houses, and even a recipe or two.

Like what you read here? Consider subscribing to this blog so that you’ll never miss a post. And feel free to share with those who may need a little chicken love.

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