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Showing posts from 2021

Final Stretch, 7 & 8. Summer Dreaming.

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It's June and summer is here. Between last month, this month, and at least the first half of next month, is the best time of year. We are enjoying the high point of the year; it's light at six in the morning, twilight stretches to past eleven in the evening, and the weather is beautifully warm. Another sign of summer were the four buses that passed by me as I went to take out the trash this morning, taking various groups of kids on their field trips. Exams are over, and now it's time for the end of year field trips. This year, they're back, to the kids' joy. They are the true hallmark of summer vacation, the foretaste of a summer of play and fun for many. My memory of primary school tells me that we did have field trips that were fun. I remember one to an amusement park, another to a bowling alley, one to watch Pippi Longstocking at a small theatre somewhere in the Back Bay. There was one during the school year to local businesses, to see how they were run. I also r

Final Stretch, 4, 5 & 6. Beach Etiquette.

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Beach weather is here, this week. My daughter already went to the beach this weekend, and the sands are starting to have occupants. Toward the end of the month, as soon as school gets out, they'll be filled with teenagers, if the weather holds. Tourists will appear next month, and August is strictly tourist month. Local people will reclaim the sands in September. There has been talk of ditching the masks, at least outdoors, at the end of the month. The vaccination is going well, and the incidence of contagion is slowly going down. At the moment, though, a mask is obligatory when we move around the beach, though not in the water nor when we lie on our towels.  Other than that, beach fashion depends on the tastes of those wearing it, or lack thereof.  Lately, more and more women go topless. Not so much because they claim that women's breasts are just like men's breasts, except larger, but because they don't want a tan line. Twenty years ago, it was rare to see the woman w

Final Stretch, 1, 2 & 3. Bus Moments

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I'm changing the header after two months, because we now seem to be in the home stretch of the pandemic. The number of vaccinated is growing, the number of contagion is going down, and so is the number of deaths. Let's keep our fingers crossed. Again, life has interrupted. I had intended to write about Friday morning, and the interesting bus ride, but I had no time. That day, in the middle of my last class, the tractor my husband had hired to finish chopping the wood showed up, and I spent over an hour helping out that evening. Saturday morning was spent entirely working on the wood pile; later I did the shopping, tired, my arms aching. Today, my arms still hurt, but I have more time. Friday morning, I walked into town. Normally, I would drive the seven kilometers or so, but my daughter started working this month, and she needs the car. Whether or not her job will last the summer is yet to be seen, but this month, at least, I'm stuck at home. Halfway down the road, a car pa

Level Ground, 59 & 60. Pardon Me.

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Plenty of protest has gone up among the conservative politicians of a possible pardon of those condemned for the Catalan independence referendum. They were condemned to prison for sedition for going ahead with the independence referendum a few years ago, even after the central government (in the hands of the conservative Partido Popular, then) had nixed the idea. The present Socialist coalition government would like to pardon these Catalan leaders to try to weaken the independence cause, and start talking with the Catalans. It's the first step toward bringing them back into the national fold.  But the conservative parties see this as anathema, and are raising their voices in holy anger, claiming that Prime Minister Sánchez is bowing to the independents' attempts to destroy Spain. Even the Supreme Court has recommended that the Catalan leaders not be pardoned.  How quickly we forget things. Back in 1981, on the 23rd of February, Lieutenant Colonel of the Guardia Civil, Antonio T

Level Ground, 57 & 58. Electric Shock.

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Today, the new electric rates come into effect. Now, everyone, regardless of how they have contracted their electric service, will pay according to use by hours. The cheapest will be from midnight to eight in the morning, on weekends, and holidays. The most expensive will be from 10AM to 2PM, and from 6PM to 10PM. Shoulder rates apply from 8AM to 10AM, 2PM to 6PM, and 10PM to midnight.  This means that, at midday and in the evening, it will be much more expensive, than it already is, to use electricity. I pity those who have an electric stove. Lunch just got its price tag hitched upward; it might become cheaper to eat out. Supper will have to wait until after ten in the evening, right before going to bed. Those who use electric-intensive appliances will either have to put them off until the weekend, or manoever around sleep and work hours. Microwaves, ovens, washing machines, dryers, etc., will have to be programmed to be used either when people are at work, or sleeping, those that can

Level Ground, 55 & 56. Nothing Happens and Then...

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From having little to talk about, it seems to have gone in the opposite direction. Yesterday morning, I returned to Monte Gaiás, this time with my daughter accompanying me. I joined the very fast-moving line inside, even though I was about a half hour earlier than the time they had told me to show up. (I think they just give the appointment hours to know how many people they can fit into a day.) The buildings are a veritable maze; without a map one would easily get lost in the empty lofty spaces. We were ushered into a hall with a smaller ceiling, where there were numbered cubicles set up in the sinuous space. There, a nurse was marshalling the arrivals, telling them to come forward and wait in front of certain spots to be called into the cubicle.  I was extremely quickly called into mine. I had been sneaking fast photos all the time, and took another one here of a table with a computer, the vaccines in their syringes, papers, a yellow disposal box for the needles, disinfectant, and a

Level Ground, 52, 53, & 54. Vaccines!

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I have been rather busy these days, nor can I really sit still for long. One of the reasons is the beautiful weather which pulls me outside. Today is the first day I have worn shorts this year, and my summer slip-ons. It is neither hot nor cool, just right. The other reason is that my husband got his first shot on Wednesday morning, and I get mine tomorrow morning. Finally, after two calls to the number of the SERGAS, the Galician health service, we got our appointments. My husband's vaccine was Pfizer, and I assume mine will be, too. That means we have to return around the middle of next month, but I don't care. We will be SAFE from this devil virus. Of course, safe doesn't mean we won't absolutely get Covid, but it diminshes our chances of suffering a severe bout and possibly dying from it, or getting complications. Unfortunately, to reach the level of immunity that means not avoiding large crowds, the majority of people should get the vaccine. We know of at least thr

Level Ground, 51. An Unusual Holy Year.

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This morning I went to Santiago on a couple of errands. Since I had the entire morning free, I wandered around a bit through the old town. I haven't been along those streets in a very long time, since before the pandemic struck. Some things have changed, like one of my favorite bakeries that made heavenly sandwiches, which is closed. Whether or not they return, I don't know. The building is being reformed, and looking in through the door, I could see tiles lined up on the floor, where the counter and cases had been, though the shelves were still there. Many other stores were shuttered. But most of them had merchandise in the window fronts, making me wonder if they would open in the afternoon, or if they simply hated Mondays. Or, if they were waiting for the crowds to return. Because there were no crowds. There were some tourists, sticking out from the locals. Some tourist guides were leading their groups near the seminary, and in the Praza do Obradoiro in front of the main entr

Level Ground, 49 & 50. And Twelve Points Go To...

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I suppose that now we can say that Europe is inching a little bit closer to pre-pandemic times. Apart from the binge-drinking parties, and the announcements of small concerts, and multitudinous celebrations of football victories, we had Eurovision, broadcast live from Rotterdam, yesterday. Eurovision is a song contest held since 1956 by the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) and associated countries. The original intent had been to unify the continent (or at least the non-Communist part) through song. Eventually, it grew, and now can include countries from all over the continent, and even from Asia, northern Africa, and Australia, which seems to have been invited into the fold. Since that first year, it has been shown continuously, except last year, when the pandemic came by to say hello. While in the beginning it may have had some serious music, it has evolved into a totally kitsch program. So many countries now present an offering, that finals have had to be introduced, to keep the nu

Level Ground, 47 & 48. Compassion.

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The plumber finally came by about a week ago and dried up the Victoria Falls in the basement. Now, I await the bill, which will probably send me into fits of crying. Next, I suppose I should save up something toward fixing the car. Eventually, at some point in time, I should also buy a new computer. It still operates with Windows 7, 32 bits (whatever the bits are). I've already had to buy an external memory because 300 gigas are not much in today's computing world. Apart from that, the connection to internet is not the best, and probably won't be resolved any time soon. Still, at some point, I should splurge a little, to make sure the new computer lasts as long as this one (more than ten years). The last time I wrote a blog post, I hammered out most of my thoughts just before lunch, thinking they would be fine with the page opened until later.  They weren't, because it turned out that nothing had been saved, and I had to type everything out at around midnight. Even so,

Level Ground, 44, 45 & 46. Not the Old Normal, Please.

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Even though contagion is going up again in our township, the open-air market today was crowded today. That means that all the cafés and bars in town are also crowded. I think we might rise in status from medium-low to high this week. Hopefully, we won't be put in lockdown next week. There have been quite a few binge-drinking get-togethers all over the country, including in our small towns, here. And people have been travelling this weekend, especially since Monday was a regional holiday. It seems that with the state of alarm gone, everyone thinks that the pandemic is over.  Last year, everyone was mentioning how refreshing it was to be able to walk around their cities and countryside without hordes of people diminishing the beauty. We've already forgotten about that. Our regional president of Galicia is hoping that, with the general lower count of contagion, and more vaccinations, that tourists will come back, again. Yet, before this pandemic struck, we were complaining about e

Level Ground, 41, 42, & 43. Ten Years of Hope

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Yesterday was a damp, dull, grey day, with incessant rain from morning to night. Today has some clouds and showers hanging about, but the cloud canopy is higher, with smidgens of blue, and an occasional ray of sun. Tomorrow is a regional holiday, Día das Letras Galegas, Day of Galician Literature. So, between today and tomorrow, two Sundays. Yesterday was the tenth anniversary of the 15-M movement. In Spain, we have the custom to label a day to remember in the contemporary history books, with the number and the first letter of the month. So, 9/11 in the US is 11-S here. And 15-M was the 15th of May of 2011, when grassroots movements converged on Madrid. There were protests and marches across all of Spain that day, against the austerity imposed in the wake of the crisis of 2008, and the surprise camp-outs imposed themselves on dozens of Spanish cities. But the two cities where it transcended beyond a mere protest were Barcelona and, memorably, Madrid.   The protests came about inspired

Level Ground, 39 & 40. Politically Incorrect.

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I ran across a post on Facebook asking which television show one used to watch with their parents as a child. I didn't answer, but it did bring up some memories. All In the Family, The Jeffersons, Sanford and Son, Good Times, Three's Company. They are the ones that come to mind, first. These are the ones that stick in my memory over others like The Mary Tyler Moore Show, or Kojak, or The Waltons, or even MASH, Taxi, or Laverne and Shirley. They all set something off within me that made me empathize more with the characters than other shows. Archie Bunker resembled my father in his habit of sitting on the same sofa, in the same spot, with his beer and cigarette, while my mother had her chair, like Edith Bunker. I would feel the embarrassment of the Jefferson's white neighbor. Fred Sanford and Lamont's attempts to try to get a break in life made me cheer for the underdog. Florida and James in Good Times struggle in the day to day, with James having more than one job, like

Level Ground, 37 & 38. Is This Liberty?

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Instead of writing every day, it seems I'm slowing down and writing every two days. It's just another measure of how inured we have become to the pandemic, I think. It's become just another part of life. The national state of alarm ended this past Sunday. No more curfews, and no regions closed off, to our disgrace. Why? Because in many cities and large towns, it was as if people equaled the end of the state of alarm with the end of the pandemic. Crowds, and crowds, and crowds of young people, in general, out on the streets, all jumbled together, singing, laughing, shouting, drinking, and dancing. Scenes from Madrid, Barcelona, and even Salamanca looked like it was the local saint's day and a festivity. Fifth wave, here we come. Ayuso, who spoke so much of liberty, and keeping Madrid open, has turned her back on all the doctors, nurses, and health care workers who worked to extenuation to save every Covid patient that came (and still come) before them. Liberty to die fro

Level Ground, 35 & 36. Disaster.

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Yesterday, we were making firewood, again. We had rented a slightly larger wood chopper, and my husband and two brothers-in-law were at the woodpile. Our daughter helped out, a bit. The final woodpile has grown some more. Just as they were about to begin after lunch, our daughter received a photo from a friend of hers, saying that a local cannery, Jealsa, in the parish of Abanqueiro, was on fire. It's right on the coast of the township of Boiro, on the shore across from Rianxo, and visible from just about anywhere on our estuary, the Ría de Arousa. In the photo, dark smoke was billowing out of a corner of a large sprawl of buildings. She went to a nearby lookout, and then I followed, admiring the cumulus clouds building behind the hills we can see from the front of our house. Today, rain was forecast, and some high clouds were beginning to appear. When I reached the lookout, the sight was apocalyptical. Those weren't cumulus clouds; they were the billows of smoke growing and pu

Level Ground, 33 & 34. Daily Life Headaches.

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We have been with this pandemic for so long, that it's taking a back seat in our daily life. We just have to make sure we leave the house with the mask, and then not crowd into places, all while we await the call to get the vaccine. Normality? It's starting to feel like this is all it is, and the past was an illusion. Daily life also consists of major and minor headaches. The fine which I paid, which someone was still demanding I pay, with interest, seems to have been resolved. I called the Hacienda office in A Coruña back again, close to the deadline. Again, they told me it wasn't in their power to cancel the debt, that that was the town hall's job, and that nothing had been done on their end. Since, when I called, it was close to midday, I went into town with all the papers I had.  Now, one has to register at the desk in the entry hall before going anywhere, because of Covid. I explained what I wanted, and the clerk told me to go to the tax office, which had relocated