Sunday, October 25, 2009

It's Halloween in Nambroca

Look at the great Jack o'Lantern we made! It was our first! I'm pretty sure that we're the only people in Nambroca with a Jack o'Lantern.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

I'm really trying to whisper to my dog!

Just look at that picture! Isn't it the cutest thing in the world??!!
That's our dog, Tila. (Tila is a type of herbal tea which the online dictionary is translating as lime blossom tea.) She's a year old mutt we adopted on September 10th from the animal shelter in Toledo. And now we have a dog to raise.

About a year and a half ago we discovered "The Dog Whisperer" on TV and we became fascinated with Cesar Millan and his dog techniques. We even found his book, "The Dog Whisperer" in our library in Toledo and read it. I'm currently reading the second one, "The Leader of the Pack." A little bit about the books in a later post, but enough to say that I'm a big fan of his calm, assertive approach to your dog.

And so we adopted Tila and brought her home. We/I followed Cesar's advice as closely as possible. Before even coming near the house, we took her for a long walk. (As long as possible, because the dog had never been on a leash before and was traumatized in more ways than one.) We brought her in, fed her and restricted her only a few rooms of the house. We set clear boundries. (She still won't go near a room that we told her was off limits over a month ago.) I waited 2 or 3 days without giving affection. (Cesar recommends 2 weeks, but recognizes in his book that it may not be possible for some people...people like me.) And so we began our journey.

Our biggest problems were with Tila's timidity and anxiety. For at least three weeks, she wouldn't come anywhere near Jose and just seeing other dogs was enough to make her freak out. Now I'm happy to report that she's really comfortable with Jose and, although still nervous with big dogs, has made a few small dog friends. We're starting now with some basic training, which is proving a little more difficult. It looks so easy on Cesar's show!!

Friday, October 16, 2009

I'm really happy!

I have a new house, a new dog, a new job and it's fall. I'm loving life!

I can't remember being busier in a really long time, but I'm working hard on staying organized and on top of things. I'm spending a lot less time on the internet, but I don't miss it, and a lot more time outside - walking the dog, playing ball, helping Jose with the yard and watering the plants. I'm also spending a lot more time working because the new job means more hours, and although I didn't really want more hours, I'm happy to have the higher paycheck.

And just look at this picture of my dog and husband, enjoying a little run during a weekend walk around the fields near our house. I love it!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Nambroca, here we come!

Our living room in Toledo.

I'm sitting on the floor in the living room of our old flat in Toledo. Jose is sweeping the floor (I already helped clean the rest) while I add this post. We spent last Saturday moving out of this small charming flat where we have spent these last two years and into our new, spacious house in a village about 8 miles away. I can't wait to blog about decorating and buying new furniture, somehow turning our wild backyard into somewhere we can actually enjoy, and life in a village.

We don't have internet yet in the other house, so I'm going to post some pictures and then I'll be offline for a week or two (or three, it depends on how slow the company is).

And the rest of the house: from left to right: kitchen, bedroom (where Jose is walking in), bathroom and at the end of the hallway, outside door. It was a great one bedroom, but we were feeling a bit cramped and wanted a couple more rooms to expand.

So, we moved to Nambroca:I'm not the best empty house picture taker, but here are a few:
The kitchen:The living room:The backyard> full of dried weeds, rocks, chunks of construction cement where the ground is hard as rock!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Another visit to the doctor

Here's how my visit to the gynecologist went yesterday:

Nurse: Hi, how are you? Anything abnormal? Etc, etc.

Me: Nope, everything's fine.

Nurse: Ok, well, you have to wait a few months for the results which will be sent to your house. Oh and by the way, I have two kids who are 11 and 8, and I'm looking for an English teacher for them. They are really cute and nice kids, but I'm worried about sending them in the afternoon, now with this new flu. So, you'd have to pick them up at school and stay with them a few hours, maybe help them with their homework. But they're great, really smart. The oldest one has great grades in English and the little one loves games. What do you think? Would you be interested? Do you know someone else? Here, I'll give you my number and you can call me in September. But it would be fantastic.

Me: Um, ok...I'll let you know.

The strange thing is, this has happened before! I had a doctor be really short with me until the end when he wanted to practice his English for a few minutes. I just feel bad for all the other people waiting in the hallway while the doctors and nurses chat!

Friday, August 21, 2009

The strange people we find

I've always sworn that I have this special attraction for some interesting characters out there. And here's another example involving a used car. What started out as a simple search for a second hand car for me turned into phone-tag, Judge Judy style.

In the Mercadillo de Toledo, a local classifieds newspaper, Jose and I found a car that we were interested in. Our suspicions were raised with the first phone call. The woman who answered told us she would have to call her sister to find out how many kilometers the car had and hung up. We wondered about that until she called us back the next day. After asking if the car was hers to sell, she explained that her sister was using the car on her vacations, and that's why she couldn't answer our question the day before. But the car had 47,000 km. And that she'd call us back when the sister returned from vacation.

The next day she called us again with a different story. She said that she bought the car a few years ago but didn't really use it. She agreed to let her sister use the car as long as she paid the monthly payments. As it turns out, a few months ago the sister lost her job, so she can't pay for the car. BUT, she also can't pay for her flat. So she's trying to sell the flat, and if that sells by the 7th of September, then the car isn't for sale anymore. But if the flat doesn't sell (which, let's face it, what is selling these days), then she'll sell the car really cheaply to us.

It was all sounding a bit strange. We decided not to wait for this particular car with the interesting story and Jose agreed to call the woman to tell her. But when he called, the woman's husband answered the phone. Jose told him that we had been talking to his wife about the car for sale and the husband gave us another explanation. He explained to us that he couldn't really help us because his wife's sister has the car and they have such a bad relationship with the sister that he doesn't even have her phone number. We hung up and haven't looked back!

But the story has a happy ending: we found another car, a Kia Picanto, in Madrid and bought it 2 days ago. One thing more checked off the to-do list!

Friday, August 7, 2009

A hard summer

(This is a repeat post from Here/There)

It's been a hard summer.

At the end of the school year, I knew that I was mentally tense. My mother was visiting, which inevitably added stress, but it was a much looked forward to visit. Things at home were doing fine, my husband the same wonderful as always. Health was great. Money fine. Socially, everything was the same. My problem was at work.

Almost since starting work at this particular place, in September of 2007, I had experienced different levels of frustration. In many senses it was a great place to work: almost zero supervision, good hours, and seemingly laid back and friendly boss and coworkers. I soon discovered, however, that even though the boss didn't tell me what to do or when to do it, he certainly had an idea of what should be done and when. My frustration went from confusion to outright distress over the two years I was there, ultimately culminating in being told that my contract would not be renewed this fall.

Technically, I had not been fired. But I felt ashamed registering my name in the unemployment office. I was very unhappy in that job and often thought about leaving it. Yet, the decision had not been mine, and what's more, it came out of the blue! I felt completely out of control of my life. I didn't get along with my boss, felt that he expected outrageous things from me and rejected any type of communication. And then HE fired me, when obviously he was in the wrong! All the reasons he gave me for the firing were technically true (and none of them were about my work in the classroom as a teacher, in fact he gave me an excellent reference in my new job), but even though I recognized they were true, they were so absurd that I still can't believe I was fired for things so stupid.

Two weeks after the incident I found another job, to start in September. In fact, I turned in my CV on a Thursday and by Friday at noon I was offered the job. I knew that I had a strong CV and I know that I'm a good teacher. But I felt defeated. My husband and I talked about the financial repercussions of me not working during the summer and they were minimal. Our finances are great. But I felt like a useless member of the team. I was extremely depressed. My husband was wondering what in the world was going on.

It's hard in Toledo, where I still don't know many people. And without work, it's hard to keep moving forward, more than anything, emotionally. It kept me stuck for just about all of July. My great husband took me to France for holidays and we've just returned. August isn't very busy, but I'm going to try to move forward in lots of different ways so that emotionally I move forward too. So, I'll be back blogging also. September has lots of great changes that I can't wait to share.