Monthly Archives: January 2016

Una canción para enero

For everyone who’s heard those tragic words “let’s just be friends,” this song is for you. And if that’s not actually what this song is about, well, prove it.

The song’s singer, and leader of the prolific and long-lived band Jarabedepalo (or Jarabe de Palo), is a guy from Barcelona named Pau Donés. At the end of the summer he announced the cancelation of the band’s U.S. tour and began treatment for metastasized colorectal cancer. Last month he planned to take the stage for a one-time concert to raise funds for research into his particular kind of cancer and for a campaign to destigmatize the disease—hopefully he is continuing to regain his health.

“Agua,” 1998

El huerto secreto

Thanks to Pete’s friend (shown below), this morning we secured the last available plot in a community garden 15 minutes from our house. I hesitated because my days already feel full, but Pete promised we would work on it jointly.

Our plot is the one in the lower right corner and is half covered in weeds. A couple of plots have volunteer artichokes (the bushy plant with spiky leaves), someone has peas, and there are some beautiful lettuces and broccoli plants (at risk of frost). The owner of the carmen (walled villa and garden) told us about a garden center where “everyone goes” and said the plants available there will be the ones that are in season. When the weather warms up I’d like to grow chard, lacinato kale, parsley, cilantro and, eventually, cherry tomatoes and flowers, but I’ll start with leeks, assuming I can find them, arugula, lettuce, and green-topped onion bulbs shared with us by Pete’s friend.

Renting a plot in the garden isn’t cheap, I suppose because it’s run by an individual and not publicly subsidized, but the fee covers water and access to shared tools. And working the garden will be another way to meet people and use our Spanish.
en el huerto

Otro boletín de evaluación continua

For comparison with his classroom report card, here’s the report card we received for el comedor, or Lou’s time in the cafeteria and supervised recess at the end of the day. You can see that he was evaluated with respect to more than a dozen behaviors, from “uses cutlery appropriately” to “tries all foods” to “uses words to resolve problems.” We place high value on the comedor and the work the staff do to help kids eat well and grow socially.

boletín informativo del comedor

El primer boletín informativo de evaluación continua

boletín informativoI don’t know anything about passive aggressive behavior, but if I did, I might post complaints about my child’s classroom experience on a blog that lots of people could read—except his teacher. But only after first sharing my complaints with other Americans and a few Spanish people.

I know that I need to a) request a check-in with the teacher for a Monday at 4pm, when teachers are supposed to be available for meetings, as I’ve been told by Spanish parents, and 2) accept that much of what I would like to change won’t.

What will I say at the 4pm meeting? I will ask what we can do to support a child who got an “outstanding—9/10” for math on his report card, especially since I suspect the work he’s doing is a review of what he learned last year. I will ask what we can do to support a child who, when he finishes his work, is often told to wait (with nothing to do) until the teacher is ready to move on. Because reading and writing, including handwriting, were not graded—even though they are listed as distinct categories on the report card and reading and handwriting seem to be a major emphasis this year—I will ask if the teacher could assign the child tasks as homework or during the time when he is waiting for the class to change activities, because if the teacher says it must be done, it will be done, and I can see that more practice would lead to improvement. I will also ask the teacher if there’s anything she’d like us to know or anything she’d like us to do at home, since the only “observations” noted on the report card were “Happy Holidays!”

And in case you were wondering, the grade marked for English was “outstanding—9/10.” What a relief.

N.B. I should add that in sharp contrast to our St. Paul school teachers, who kept us asea in completed worksheets and writing and art projects sent home with a weekly newsletter, Lou has brought home one piece of completed work since September, a 3-D paper house he colored under strict instruction from the teacher. On less than a dozen occasions he has brought home his math or reading workbook, and a couple of times last fall he had social studies worksheets he needed to finish at home. As far as we know, there haven’t been any tests.

Lou is reluctant to give specifics about school, although when asked recently he told someone that he is learning about the Spanish political system.

Los Reyes Magos

Tonight the Three Wise Men (or the Three Kings, los Reyes Magos) will visit children’s homes while they sleep and leave gifts. Tomorrow, January 6, is the Epiphany or Day of the Kings, and school resumes and retailers kick off major post-holiday sales on January 7.

Although the weather wasn’t great, we brought Lou and his friend from down the street to see the cabalgata de los Reyes Magos, or the annual parade through central Granada where the three Wise Men appear in order—Melchor, Gaspar, and Baltasar—accompanied by their entourage throwing incense sticks hard candy in wrappers printed with the names of banks and other local  sponsors.

Here’s a 2-minute video.



Charles De Gaulle Airport, Paris

Charles De Gaulle Airport, Paris

We did some traveling over the holidays, and I didn’t mind when my hands were wiped by the TSA at airport security (gunpowder residue detection?) or when I had to take my shoes off, again. I especially didn’t mind when we needed to produce our Spanish residency cards in addition to our passports with Spanish residency visas or risk being turned away from our flight by an American gate agent. I want countries to enforce their own travel rules and know who is coming across their borders. (And that’s the interesting part about the EU, of course. Because of the Schengen Agreement, reentering the EU at the Paris airport meant we went through passport control there, and not in Spain.)