Tuesday, 22 April 2014

new niu publishers

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Tomorrow in Saint George's Day, birthday of Shakespeare, Cervantes, Nabokov and my father, Day of the Book and the Rose in Catalunya. I generally celebrate it by walking and looking at the books and enjoying any chance to celebrate the written word. Last year I even appeared on a newspaper supplement as one of the poster-children for reading! That was pretty special. But this year is even more special because Víctor and I converted ourselves into a literary editors and publishers for the occasion.

For a few years now, I've been part of an English writing group here in Barcelona. We meet every week to discuss each others writing, suggest improvements, give encouragment and so on. Members are a mixed bag of English teachers, journalists, translators, editors and others (we had a doctor once, and we currently have an ex-priest) and come from pretty much any English-speaking country you can think of, as well as some Scandinavians and exceptionally fluent locals. ANYWAY, in time for Sant Jordi this year, I decided to organize a collection of some of our short stories. I edited it (I work as an editor anyway, but it was great to get to edit fiction for a change) and Víctor did the graphic design (he also has a history designing books).

We snapped these pictures the day before it went to the printers... it's amazing how a DSLR can make anything look glamourous, even head-ache, eye-ache, back-ache, lack of sleep, lack of hair-washing or make-up applying... I think they're just golden because I was so content to be doing what I was doing. (Although seriously, next time writer people, we're going to talk about formatting before you give me your submissions). It looks like I'm fake-working but I really was correcting like a maniac at the time.

The anthologies are back from the printers and I can't wait to share them here tomorrow!

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Saturday, 12 April 2014

first signs of summer in spring

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While there was no winter to speak of this year, spring has been vacillating back and forth between blustery-chilly, and almost summer. On one of the summery days, I went to both a brunch and a barbecue (talk about overeating) to catch up with some of the friends i never see enough during the winter months and to meet new ones, such as the darling poodle puppy Marley.

It was a day for a pretty green dress, baking pear and chocolate scones in the morning, cheerful flowers, lounging in hammocks in the afternoon.

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Saturday, 5 April 2014

library of babel

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I think I'm not the only one in this space who loves a good book, so I thought I'd share these pictures from one of the most impressive bookshops I've been in. Perhaps its location makes it seem even better...it's the type of second-hand bookshop you might imagine in a creative corner of a big city...but not in a suburb of a small town a good forty minutes by train from the metropolis. Victor, Rosa and I dragged ourselves out there on a Sunday afternoon to see an exhibition, and our jaws more or less dropped as we walked into an unassuming warehouse. On the inside, old books were piled on tables and in tight rows up to the ceiling and a wooden bar decked out with chandaliers and wooden ladders served (extortionate, every silver lining has a cloud) drinks. You can get a glimpse of it behind me in the first picture. I snagged a copy of Dubliners for four euros and went to town taking pictures.

P.S. Rosa and I have a history of being photographed in bookstores...sometimes even more glamorously!

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Friday, 28 February 2014

volcano climbing

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Return of the day trip! After the bridge trip morphed from a small outing to a ten person-three car odyssey, we decided to plan more Sunday days out. This one topped out at 13 people! We drove to La Garrotxa, scene of extinct volcanos that Víctor explained were "the disappointment of generations of Catalan schoolchildren expecting lava and fire." Lava and fire were certainly both in short supply, but hiking in the wilderness (after driving through some really ugly towns to get there), drinking beer in the sun against a backdrop of mountains and fields, and standing in the crater of a volcano were all fun anyway. My favourite part of the day was after our enormous lunch when we went for a last ramble in the gathering darkness through the near-silence, smelling the country smells, getting stung by nettles and talking in the free way you can when you can't see each other...

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Friday, 21 February 2014

surviving the chill

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Ok, last bunch from Amsterdam. I look a bit chilled and miserable here (it was the day we arrived, I'd been up since 5 and it was raining lightly but consistently) but the colors are so good with the purplish bricks and green moss that I thought I'd post them anyway. These were taken in Jordaan, a lovely neighbourhood in Amsterdam where everyone obligingly leaves their blinds open so you can peer into their houses and live there vicariously a while if you like. Conclusions: Protestants have less to hide than catholics? And all Dutch people seem to own real paintings.

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Monday, 17 February 2014


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While I was in Amsterdam it was National Tulip Day. This sounded almost too coincidentally perfect, but we discovered there are in fact three national tulip days per year. In any case, it was definitely an unexpected and charming celebration. The Dam was filled with thousands of tulips, attached to their bulbs, making a picture on the ground, we joined a fairly civilized line, were given a plastic bag and were told we could take as many as 20 tulips away with us. Inside it was a bit of a free-for-all, with children (and bloggers, clearly) posing for photos and people trampling each other in search of the elusive orange blooms, but I left with a big bag stuffed with mostly-closed bulbs. They somehow all survived being carted around for the rest of the day, the trip to the airport at 6am, and the trip back to Barcelona, and filled our apartment with pop-art colourful blooms for the next two weeks!

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Friday, 14 February 2014

a few thoughts from valentine's day

Yes, me, showing my face around here again. Still with a backed up queue of posts I never can post. Still alive, still without internet, still job hunting, etc.

Today I visited another blog for the first time in about two weeks and saw this questionnaire of a post so I thought I'd steal it and do likewise, since I haven't said much about anything for a while

What did you look like one year ago today?

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I had long brown hair. I was wearing this dress and it was Valentine's Day and I was having breakfast with Víctor. We weren't together yet and couldn't be, but we went for breakfast and spent the whole time wishing to ourselves that we were.

when did you wake up this morning?

Started drifting in and out of consciousness at 7, but didn't get up until 8, after orange juice in bed and the cat scratching the door.

what was the first thing you thought when you woke up?

Wishing death on the cat, probably
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So cute. So evil.

have you called someone today? Who and what did you say?

I Skyped my mom, to commiserate about some disappointing professional news (don't ask) and catch up in general.

what mood are you in?

I was super happy this morning, as I took a morning off from my crazy freelance schedule. Am consequently a bit frantic at the moment but as it's already too late to hand anything in before Monday, I think I may just chill out now...
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Got this lovely Valentine's Day card from my dad, though!

Do you hurt anywhere?

Erm, my shoulder is torture as always from too much computer.

If you could choose anything to eat right now, what would you want?

The Moroccan food my sister is making whenever I manage to get over there with the dish!

What did you buy last?
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Breakfast of fried eggs and black pudding, with a glass of wine (yes, wine for breakfast, it was a special occasion and pretty much essential for the delightfully-greasy peasant food)! Tastes so much better than it looks, incidentally.

Which was the first website you visited on the internet today?

My friend Kallie's blog, which is where I got this questionnaire from!

what are you doing tonight?

The above-mentioned Moroccan dinner with my sister.

which is the first song you put on today?
I continue to have no soul and never listen to music, but the café where I'm sitting has Ella Fitzgerald on, if that counts.

What were you doing exactly a week ago, this time?
Reading a very long article about whether women find it sexy when men cook and clean. Apparently not, according to the article. I think the article is crazy!

What are you wearing today?
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The same thing as exactly one year ago. I'm not a Valentine's Day type, but it inadvertently became an important day last year, so this year was all about doing exactly the same thing, wearing the same clothes. Yes, yes, I know. You can all roll your eyes and write me off forever now.

The weekend then, what about it?
A calçotada (Catalan barbecue with onions) with my writer friends on Saturday, and Victor's birthday party on Sunday) Oh god, have so much to do now....
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Calçots, mmmmm

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

amsterdam break

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Leaving springlike Barcelona for shivery Amsterdam in January might seem to be backwards way to take a holiday, but that's just what Victor and I did last weekend. We stayed with friends and bundled up, then spent our days moving between cafés and museums and anywhere that had Glühwein.

This was my fourth visit to Amsterdam but the first one in winter. I found it a bit hard going (if I ever go back to Canada I'm going to die I think) but that the rewards made up for it: fewer people, less chaos, an equal number of murderous cyclists, and endless excuses to eat cheese and apple pancakes (ever since my first trip, ten years ago, when a Dutch family introduced me to this flavour combination, it's been the only one I order).

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I had the most delectable cherry-infused gin

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