Saturday, January 12, 2008

When I Grow Up

I believe that I’ve mentioned this, but the lady who’s in charge of the four-apartment building where I live is this little old lady named Maria. She’s about four-foot nine but acts as if she’s five eleven and owns the place. A couple of days ago, we went to tapas, and, I’m not kidding you, she got digits. Granted, it was the phone number for this middle-aged couple and their family who thought that she was adorable and wanted to invite her to dinner, but still.

Anyhow, a while back, she said the following (I’m translating here):
“When I get older, I’m going to stop doing this.” She was taking a bucket of laundry to hang on the roof, which is on the equivalent of the American fourth floor.

She continued, “I’m going to go live in an apartment building with an elevator, and central heating, and an induction range. I will do that when I am eighty-eight.”

By her accounts (which I suppose are the only ones that matter), she’s eighty-two.

Intelligent Life

I can't possibly be the only person in this world who has synapses devoted to worrying that communiques like this will be the first thing that intelligent life from another solar system manages to intercept.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

I've been there!

These are from

Now what I really want is for that site to marry the site that has maps of a few major metro systems all to the same scale.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

We Three Kings of Orient Are

So, I may have mentioned this last year, but Spanish children traditionally got Christmas presents from the Three Kings, and not from Santa Claus. (Now some kids get both, and friends have told me that since people get together with extended families for Christmas and not January 6th, gift exchanging occurs on Christmas.)

Kids would put their shoes out (outside of the house or out in the hallway, I don't know, with some straw and carrots in them (for the three kings' camels) and would get presents in return. Or somesuch. I'm convinced that there's some sort of latent foot fetishism in Christmas worldwide as a result of this (stockings, big red boots, whathaveyou) but that is neither here nor there.

Today, kids' getting gifts from the three kings is, as it is in the Santa scheme, constructed around judging the kids' relative goodness and badness (which could be interpreted as the institutionalization of right-wing value judgment of the poor and their lack of merit in society as directly reflected in the lack of material wealth, but again I digress.)

What Granada (and, I'm told, every city in Spain, does to celebrate this is that they have a parade on the Eve of the Feast of the Epiphany (aka 3 Kings' Day) in which there are parades, and they throw candy. I went to the parade last year, but had then just gone home. This year, Ruth and I were walking home, and we noticed that the whole shebang ends at the Ayuntamiento (town hall.) There, the Kings and their retinues go into the town hall and appear on the balcony.

There were speeches, mostly about how much better then children of Granada had been this year than last year, and then before some fireworks, things were thrown down to the crowd: soccer balls, t-shirts (I got a t-shirt--it's from the Granada CF and says that this year you should ask the kings for your team's success), candy, and these:

It's the Three Kings on a ladder, which they use to break into people's apartments to deliver gifts. Weird, no? There are Santas on ladders, too, on people's balconies (but, obviously, none of those were being distributed yesterday.)

It makes me understand why kids are scared of Santa, as well as of the Three Kings.

Which reminds me, I went to see the municipal crèche a week or so ago (bizarre that total lack of division between church and state, no?) and there was a family on line in back of me. They went and got their picture taken with Balthazar (I think?! I can't tell them apart, but they told me that it was the black one and that the black one is Balthazar) and the little girl was so proud of having sat on his lap and not having freaked out. The people in front of me went and got their photo taken as well, and they didn't have any children with them. Naturally, I also got my photo taken. It was just like getting a mall Santa photo, except that adults also do it! There was even a mailbox for sending letters.

The photo is quite nice; they print it out on a sheet that makes it look like the front page of the Ideal newspaper (who, naturally, sponsored the thing) and all the news is Christmas and Kings-related, like a little corner blurb about how many energy-saving LEDs were used in this year's municipal light display.

This afternoon, we had a Roscón de Reyes at home:

Since last year there'd been a last-minute scramble to find one, this year I pre-ordered one. I invited a few friends over to have some this afternoon, but only one showed up. So much of the cake is still left! Ruth got the bean (which means that she would have to pay for the whole cake), but nobody's gotten the little figurine that means that you get to wear the paper crown that came with the cake. Last year, there had been six figurines and no bean.

I hope that lots of people come over to eat (or just for dessert) in the near future; it's not the tastiest cake. Happy Three Kings' Day, everyone.