Showing posts from September, 2016


As September draws to a close, so does my month-long vacation. I give classes all year except Christmas, Holy Week, the last week of June, and the month of September. All year I await an entire month of being able to get things done in the morning AND in the afternoon. Normally, my afternoons are spent in classes, and all errands have to be taken care of in the morning, as well as housework.  So, when I wake up on a September morning, I think about what I need and want to do that day. First of all, breakfast. Then, Facebook. Then, writing when I feel I have something to say. By that time I need to fly to the grocery store if I need an ingredient for lunch, and then I have to make some food. I'll leave the housework for the afternoon. During lunch I think about what I want and need to do in the afternoon. If it's a sunny day, I think about painting with pastels. I also think about reading some more. Perhaps I might go for a drive. Put clothes out to dry in the sun, or hope t

Sew Cheap

Inditex has been hailed as one of the best run businesses in the world. Time after time we have been told its story, how it went from being a family run store specializing in bath robes in A Coruña, to being an international corporation with its most important logistical center and headquarters in Arteixo. Amancio Ortega, the owner and founder, went from being a clerk in a clothing store, to the second richest man in the world in 2015. His story is like one of those stories written at the end of the nineteenth century, moralizing on how hard work and a little luck and shrewdness can take you from rags to riches.  For a while, he also proved to be a small boon to seamstresses in Galicia. Many did piecework at home for the incipient Zara. Others created little co-ops of seamstresses and did work exclusively for the company. I had a neighbor who did piecework at home, and another one who worked at a co-op that rented out space in the old building in town where the market stalls used to

The Homework Question

It's five thirty in the afternoon and a seven -year-old child has arrived home from school. After eating a sandwich, he sits down, takes out his textbooks and notebooks and does his homework. A typical scene in a typical town. There are parents who don't want that to be so typical. Depending on the school and on the teacher, Spanish children sometimes get excessive homework. Given that many schools still have the split day of class in the morning, lunch at home at midday, and more class in the afternoon, that doesn't leave much time for after-school activities. It's even worse in the winter when darkness falls just after many of these children get home. This year, some important parent associations have called for a strike against homework on   weekends in the month of November. A growing number of people do not want children doing homework, claiming it is a failure of the school system to send home exercises that should have been covered in school. They want to foll

Eeny, Meeny, Miny Moe

This Sunday there are regional elections here in Galicia and in Euskadi ( a lso known as the Basque Country). As usual, the official campaign lasts two weeks, as opposed to two years in the U.S., though the unofficial lasts almost as long. Sometime during those two weeks, the major parties send out flyers to all registered voters. Since everyone eighteen and over is automatically registered, every adult in every household gets them. Pity the poor mail carriers.  In Galicia, the major parties are PSOE (Socialists), PP (conservatives), BNG (nationalists), En Marea (a coalition of leftist Galician parties and Podemos), and Ciudadan os (someone once called them a "decaffeinated PP") . When you open up the envelopes, you weep for the fallen trees. In each there is a message, a ballot, and an envelope. The ballot and envelope are there so when you go to the polling station, you don't have to wait in line. You can just walk up to the ballot box, present your national ID or dri

In a Coffee Frame of Mind

Do not speak to me in the morning if I haven't had my coffee. I will only growl. From the moment I wake up to the moment the caffeine hits my nervous system, I am not human. I could morph int o the Wicked Wi tch of the Ea st. Do not bother me. Of course, it's not really true , though perfectly possible, because breakfast with coffee is such an ingrained part of my day, that to miss it is to miss something of normality. Something is not right if my day does not begin with its regularity of stomach routine. I haven't always had coffee for breakfast, though I have drunk it for many years. When I was young, I couldn't face breakfast. For some reason, my stomach rebelled against any solid food touching it early in the morning. So, during the week, I would drink a glass of orange juice before heading for school.  On weekends, though, I would wake up later. Every Saturday and every Sunday, I would eat buttered toast and drink café au lait. I even remember my favorite