Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Goodbye, Hello.

Lot's of goodbyes around here lately. The core group who's been here for the month of July is mostly gone and the August residents are trickling in. I'm here until August 6th, so I'll have a little bit of time to meet the new crop before I say my own goodbye.

Yesterday I went into Barcelona to see Pedro and the Sagrada Familia. I'm getting used to the bus routine... you hike up a little hill, cross the highway and hail the bus when it comes barreling down the road. Somehow it always stops! The picture above is a view of Can Serrat (this property) from the hike up. Yesterday the mountains looked very moody with layers of fog covering them.

I had seen the outside of the Sagrada Familia on previous trips, but never the inside. I was shocked at how modern looking it was. It was designed over 100 years ago. Such a vision!

The first thing I noticed in this picture was the sinister looking face that the windows form. It's like a jack-o-lantern. We sat in the prayer area talking (of course) I probably took 15 pictures of this same image. 

Outside there was some crazy demonstration/honking thing going on so the soundtrack to this crazy church was that crazy noise. What am I doing with my arms in this picture?

After stumbling across an old bullfighting arena, walking through town, walking, walking, walking... we FINALLY made our way to CAL PEP, the restaurant I've attempted to eat at at least 2 or 3 times but couldn't due to long lines. It wasn't open yet. Oy! Found a place down the street that served authentic tapas (where you pay by showing how many toothpicks you've accrued, see pic) and had a few appetizers before heading back to Cal Pep where we joined the hour (?) line. The food was amazing, albeit wayyyy tooo muuuch.

I said another goodbye and caught the last bus back to El Bruch, using the light of my iPad to guide me down the hill where I fell into bed, looking forward to my next adventure.

Thursday, July 26, 2012


I wanted to share two other observations:

1. Many paintings of Saint Cecilia, the patron saint of music, at the Prado. It made me think that Simon and Garfunkel's "Cecilia" was less a love song and more a song about writer's block.

2. Goya painted many women wearing outfits that highly resemble Snow White's costume. I wonder if that's where Disney got his inspiration?


I ran off to Madrid on Monday. It takes only 2 hours and 45 minutes on the speedy train and so I figured since I'm already in Spain, I may as well see the Big City. I actually know someone in Madrid. We met at Esalen a few years ago and I sent her an email when I decided to book the trip not knowing if she'd remember me. She did, but she was going on vacation that same day. There is SO much to do in Madrid, but since I was going solo, I decided to make it a museum trip.

This sculpture greeted me outside the train station - random baby face.

Took one of those 'hop on, hop off' tours to orient myself in the city. This notice was posted on the ticket booth. I did end up seeing protests, but later on in the trip.

The infamous Prado museum. Got in free thanks to the Otis card. Stayed almost 5 hours.

There were many artists set up all around the museum, painting copies of the paintings. Not sure if I was allowed to take pictures, but I snuck this one.  Some observations while at the Prado:

1. An overwhelming number of artists are named "Max"
2. One of the many renderings of Jesus portrayed him with an outie. It made me laugh out loud.
3. Goya's portrait of King Ferdinand could easily be a portrait of Quentin Tarintino.

Next, I went across the street to the Thyssen-Bornemisza, another wonderful museum. This housed everything from Goya to Dali, and I loved seeing all the traditional, classical paintings along with the Dada and Surrealists. It really made me realize what a bold, thrilling departure surrealism was. Up until then, it was all Jesus all the time! There was also a wonderful Edward Hopper exhibit at this museum.

Outdoor bookstore.

If I had to pick favorites, I think it would be the Reina Sofia, the modern art museum, housed in an old hospital. Absolutely stunning. Miro, Calder, Dali, Magritte, Picasso (Picasso's Guernica is there. It is spectacular).

Room full of Juan Gris paintings. Loved.

I took the speedy train home 2 days later. Madrid's train station is a beautiful atrium, replete with turtle pond - look closely:

While in Madrid I received an email from my cousin Adam that he and a friend were backpacking through Europe and were going to be in Barcelona, so when I arrived back from Madrid I met them for dinner before heading back the comforts of El Bruc. We had a fun dinner! Took the last bus back and collapsed on my bed in a heap of exhaustion. I forgot to mention how HOT Madrid was. Heat like I've never experienced.
The weekend there is a festival on the property that is supposed to last for 3-days. We're not quite sure how it's all going to play out as it's being hosted by the actual owners of this place (not the proprieters - still can't spell that). Whatever it is, I'm sure it will inspire more stories!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Sucking Bubbies

Our friend April is awesome. She hails from the Bahamas (now lives in L.A.) and teaches us all sorts of  sayings, including the title of this post. You can guess what it means, right? She laughed when I told her that was what I called my grandmother (Bubby, Yiddish for grandmother). I feel as though we've picked up her phrases quickly and have used them liberally.

Yesterday we did A LOT of walking. We took the bus to a neighboring town called Colbato and made our way to the once-a-month market. It was a hike. The community reminds me a bit of Ojai, California.
 At the foothills of the amazing Monserrat mountains...

April and Pedro slurping down slushies (not sucking bubbies)...
The market was a lot of fun, selling everything from bunnies to skirts to batteries, to fruits and veggies and more.

After about an hour of perusing, we set off for Vinyanova a restaurant in the area. Even before I came to Can Serrat I was dreaming about this restaurant because the Can Serrat website describes it and highly suggests making reservations ahead of time.  It did not disappoint. 
Beginning of meal: Bread (of course) fresh tomatoes, garlic. Delish!

potatoes, red peppers, eggplant and aioli. 
Ceviche, green peppers, olives, onions.

The vegetarian platter - corn, carrots, green beans, asparagus, a hunk of cheese in the middle and veggie patties...

 The meat platter for the meat eaters - all sorts of sausages, ham, salami, etc.
Next came the fruit basket and 6 knives, pears, peaches, apples, oranges, apricots...

Taro in a food coma.

 Lovely group photo of a lovely lunch.

Later, we walked around the property and came upon birds, bunnies, roosters, this horse...
...and Juan, the mule. A stranger basically forced Mingjuan to kiss him (perhaps because she has 'juan' in her name, too?)

All in all a great day. I'm off to Madrid now. Back Wednesday with more to report.


Sunday, July 22, 2012

Is That a Zucchini or Are You Just Glad to See Me?

I know I keep blathering on about the zucchinis here, so I thought I would take a picture of the recent harvest so you could get a sense of the enormity. Zucchinis make it into a lot of meals around here and now you can see why! In case you couldn't tell how big they were, I put the salt shaker next to them in this picture:

Yesterday, while reading in the writer's room (after probably 4-hours of writing, I swear) these two snuck in. The cats are not allowed in the house, but these guys climbed the trellis, crawled into the open second-story window and joined me on the futon for cuddle time. 
 Luna rests her paw and head on my leg...

Today we are heading to the next town over for their market and then a late lunch at an amazing restaurant. Photos and food descriptions to follow...

Madrid tomorrow.


Thursday, July 19, 2012


I am so bitten up by mosquitos that I'm kind of going out of my mind. That, and I think I'm allergic to the detergent they use here. Lots of scratching and sneezing today.

Also find that I'm itching to travel some more. I didn't come here to travel, I came here to write, HOWEVER with Madrid only a 3-hour train ride away I feel I must go check it out. I'm looking at trains and hotels now. This after a day of major surgery on my novel and a scene I am procrastinating writing. 

Meanwhile, here are some pictures of the El Bruc public pool where I spent my day yesterday swimming - er - writing. Yeah, that's what I was doing:

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

So Many Goodbyes

Tonight we said goodbye to three members of the community:

 Roommate Daisy is off to travel with a friend...

 New Zealander Jill is going to San Francisco before heading home...

And Thing 1 (or is it Thing 2?) has been adopted...

Feeling a little sad tonight, but Cava helps.

5 hour day at the pool today - laps, giant ants, delicious plums, a drop of writing and more laps. Tomorrow a new writer from Singapore joins us.


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Nothing to Lose by Going to Toulouse (except Euros)

I thoroughly enjoyed my quickie trip to France. It took 1 bus and 3 trains to get there, but it was worth it. Not only was it gorgeous scenery the whole way there, I got tons of writing done - more than I've done here at Can Serrat! I think trains are good for me. I'll have to plan another trip somewhere while I'm here.
 The palace by daylight.

 1/2 carafe of cider, my favorite!

 Mimi shows off her plate of chocolate crepe. YUM.

Large doors in Toulouse. I made Mimi pose in front of one for perspective.

 Palace by night.

 Down by the water.

Self-portrait new hat. 

Every store in Toulouse was having a 50% off sale. What's a girl to do? Things would be marked down 50% and then when you took it to the register it would be another 30% off. This hat was under 10 dollars. 

It was fun using my French. Mimi is bilingual but when she left it was me and my French. I managed to tell a store clerk that I wasn't sure my credit card would work because they company thinks I'm in Spain when really I'm in France. (it worked) 

Too much bread in France. I'm packing on the pounds at an alarming rate. Oh, well, I guess I'll just have to up my use at the public pool.

3 trains and 1 bus later I'm back 'home', happy to see the mountains, the people, and of course the kitties.

Au revoir pour matainant.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Show and Tell

I just couldn't help myself... so much more to write!

Yesterday morning, Roger and I headed off to the public pool in town. We joked about it being postage-stamp sized and laughed about what swimming laps might look like. When we arrived we were pleasantly surprised at how beautiful, modern and big it was - and just under those gorgeous mountains.  A group of elderly ladies was doing water aerobics but once they finished their class, we were the only ones in the pool. (until a bunch of kids arrived)

On our walk up there I was telling him the story I'd heard about El Bruc. Napoleon and his troops were in the process of invading Spain but there was someone in El Bruc with a certain kind of drum and he started beating it and others started playing their drums and Napoleon and Co. heard the sound and thought it was gunfire and retreated and therefore El Bruc was spared. It all sounds too good to be true, but as we approached the pool, Roger looked up and said, "Oh, there's the drummer boy," and when I gazed up I saw a big statue/monument of a man (boy?) with a drum around his neck, proud expression on face. It was such crazy timing. I'd JUST finished the story.

Last night was the "show and tell" where we got to see what everyone was working on. The whole evening felt like the best lecture at the best university. Everyone's work was so intelligent, interesting and diverse. I presented my Pecha Kucha and it went over well. Here are some other glimpses into the night...

 Daisy and Taro try on Jill's arm warmers.

 Rebecca talks about her performance art.

 April's wonderful artwork.

 Pamela's incredible woodcuts

Roger shows off his watercolors.
Melissa and her coat of armor.

Yesterday, after my swim, I came back here and dug into the novel that I brought here to finish. The holes/problems/concerns were so obvious. I see very clearly what I need to add, what I need to subtract and how this will all come together, which is a huge relief.

You know how sometimes in life you just know you are in the exact place you are supposed to be? This is one of those times.