Thursday, June 24, 2010

A quick trip to Vietnam

Delora's sister, an award-winning film and television director, recommended that Delora try a new iphone app called Histamatic.  She thought it would jazz up Delora's pictures.

Instead Histamatic is making every picture Delora takes look like she's in Vietnam in 1920...

Mallorca, Spain 2010

Sometimes, Delora's pictures look as though she developed old film after stomping on it a few times... 

Mallorca, Spain 2010

Mallorca, Spain 2010

Sometimes Delora's pictures look "artsy"...

Mallorca, Spain 2010

Thanks Delora's sister.  

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Ashram - Day whateva'

Dinner at the Ashram

Delora ia truly hungry starving from the time she rises, at 5am, until she falls, face first, into bed at 9pm.  She tries to embrace the hunger as a Ghandi-ish virtue, but she can't because she's starving.  Instead, her survival instincts kick-in and she finds herself plotting to steal food.  She eyes a bowl of oranges on the hallway table and justifies the act of lifting a few into her sunhat while she strolls by. Mallorca orange groves are famous for producing some of the juiciest specimens around, so juicy, they need only be half peeled, then bitten like an apple.  Delora, the savage, can devour these oranges in seconds while sweet juice gushes onto her face and into her hair before it hits her bathroom sink.

Luckily, Delora's dear friend, Catherine, is her roommate.  She's the kind of girl who doesn't mind that Delora has turned into Oliver Twist and has been stealing food and eating it over their shared sinks.  Only once does she mention that Delora has left orange peels scattered around the crime scene.  She is not tempted by Delora's bars; she knows about the dangers of artificially sweetened food and she's made of superior moral fiber.  She doesn't even waiver when Delora finds a blackberry tree on the estate and stoops down to pick a berry off the ground and taste it.  That's right, Delora stooped down, picked a berry off the dirty, dirt ground, and put it into her mouth without a moment's hesitation.  Has Delora ever mentioned that she has a borderline obsessive-compulsive disorder when it comes to cleanliness?  Apparently OCD is not an issue when the choice is between germs and eating.

Here are some of the activities the Ashram plans to keep their guests busy (so they can't hunt for food):

Delora and Catherine being tricked into thinking that they're going on a nice boat ride when they're really being dropped on a beach where they're going to hike straight up a giant mountain to hike through CLOUDS

Other unsuspecting Ashram joy riders

One little mountain...


Delora's mid-day snack

Delora was supposed to choose a total of 5 nuts OR 5 raisins OR a mix of both, still totaling 5.  Using a sleight of hand maneuver, Delora manages to palm 8!  This is the moral decay -- the quest for food -- that preoccupies Delora as she hikes for hours and hours up the steep mountains.  Later Delora will raid the orange bowl before falling into bed and waving goodnight to Catherine across the room.  But Delora is making peace with her hunger, as all good supermodels in training must, and she is staying in the moment and detoxing all at the same time -- when she isn't hunting for food.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

The Ashram - Day 1

Delora and friends arrive at the Ashram, a beautiful house rented from Richard Branson's ex-wife, near the port of Soller (in Mallorca) at around 1 pm.  Smiling thirty-something hunks greet the guests.  They'll be running the program this week.

Luckily, Delora and friends have ingested jamon paninis at the airport, since there is nothing resembling lunch here.  Guests are encouraged to hang by the pool until it's time for them to weigh in.  Delora meets some of the other guests, then it's her turn to step on the scale.  Normally, Delora would strip down to nothing to be weighed, but in front of these two Ashram Gurus, BEFORE the Ashram program has transformed her into a supermodel? Awkward! She'll just keep her clothes on, thank you very much.  The cutest guru weighs and measures every possible area capable of holding Delora's fat, recording the details carefully, then tells her to get changed for a short hike.

Delora and her new Ashram comrades take to the hills with poles and backpacks filled with water.  Delora has purchased a "camelback" for this week of hiking, and has chosen a zip-front model with a medium sized "bladder" to hold water.  Delora's own bladder, the one inside her body, is full before she even hits the hills, but Delora doesn't know these new friends well enough to drop trow yet.  The group will hike steep mountains with loose stone pathways and use the poles for balance.  Delora has been warned about this first hike by Delora's sister who was almost "man down" on day one when she completed this program a couple of years ago. They call it a short hike, where short equals the hardest hike you've ever taken in your life.  Delora feels strong and lets her Alpha dog run out in the front of the pack at first.  Soon the Alpha dog is so tired, that Delora is grateful to be walking her beta bitch in the middle of the pack.

Later, the group sits in a circle as each person tells a little something about themselves.  Each is asked why they have come to the Ashram.  Delora refrains from saying that she's come to look like a supermodel and instead says that she's here to get fit.  The Ashram promotes a diet free from caffeine, sugar, artificial sweeteners, meat, seafood, poultry, dairy, flour, fat. Delora wonders what's left, then realizes that the only food groups remaining are fruit, vegetables and soy products (is soy a food group?)  Delora focuses on a lecture about detoxing the body from bad substances, but obsesses over how quickly she can get to the Zone bars hidden in her lingerie bag.  Apparently, Delora's face gives her away, because the Cute Guru looks straight at Delora and says that anyone who brought bars, or other forbidden foods to the Ashram isn't doing anything to help their detox.  Delora keeps a straight face and nods in agreement until she can lock herself into her bathroom and choke down bar #1(chocolate coconut) and bar #2 (yogurt) before her 8:30 PM bed time.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Delora blogs again ... from the Ashram

Delora decides to overcome 9 months of excessive jamon intake and negate her recently acquired bad Spanish habits by spending one week at the Ashram in Mallorca.  Usually located in Calabasas, California, twice a year The Ashram comes to Mallorca, Spain to change the scenery a bit and kick some serious culo.  How bad can things be at a place that looks like this?

Mallorca, Spain

This is the same program countless actresses and Sports Illustrated models endure each year to lose those extra pounds the week before an important shoot.  It's with this image, in Delora's mind's eye, of a Sports Illustrated Model body with Delora's head soldered on top, that convinces her to pay good money to share a room, rise at 5 am, do an hour of yoga, eat 2 TBS of Museli and a disgusting soy yogurt, hike for FIVE hours, eat a green salad, do another hour of exercise (weights anyone?) followed by a final hour of yoga, inhale some steamed veggies mistakenly called "dinner", and drop like a stone into bed at 8:30 pm.
But with summer approaching and a layer of fat on Delora's backside shaped like this:

Delora realizes that no program is too radical.

The night before Delora leaves for Mallorca she decides to read the not so fine print on her Ashram email.  Delora exhales an expletive when she realizes that she was supposed to be detoxing for the past two weeks.  Luckily Delora doesn't have too many bad habits, but she does have one very, very serious Earl Grey habit (with Splenda) that she enjoys and plans to keep.  Furtively, she stashes the teabags and the banned artificial sweetener in her suitcase and, just in case she's on the verge of death, adds 8 Zone bars.

At the last supper before she ships out, where sake and champagne are consumed along with healthy Japanese delicacies, Delora asks her friend C. about her experience at the Ashram at few years ago:

"I lost alot of weight," she admits, "but I decided that paying money to sleep on a lumpy bunk bed with a stranger beneath me while I was starving, wasn't exactly something I wanted to try again."

Delora is going to the Ashram with two friends from Madrid, so at least she won't have a stranger in the next bed.  Delora finishes her glass of champagne and hopes for the best...

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Genius or Junk?

There were times, during Delora's recent visit to the Marqués de Riscal Winery in the Rioja region of Spain, when she thought that the inn, designed by Frank O. Geary, was pure genius.  The way that the undulating metal panels reflected the sun, and the pale purple, gold and silver hues echoed the colors of the wine and the packaging was inspiring.

Then again, there were times, when Delora caught a glimpse of this same genius out of the corner of her eye and thought:  Damn if that doesn't look like a treehouse that some red-neck neighbor banged together for his kid.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Delora's Communicative Family

 coutesy of: This isn't Happiness blog

Delora has a very large and complicated immediate family.  First, there was Delora, her sister and her brother.  Then Delora's mother pulled a Brady Bunch move and Delora instantly acquired four additional brothers.  Then, Delora's father had two more children with his second wife.  Then many of the siblings got married to great people who became sibling-ish.  Now, Delora can barely swing a cat without hitting one of them.  But because Delora's many, many parents and siblings have very busy lives and are spread across the globe, they frequently have trouble keeping up to date with accurate news of one another.

Even when Delora tries to communicate en masse with these siblings and parents via a blog, her life is like a game of TELEPHONE. Below is an actual conversation that Delora had yesterday:

Delora's Mother:  How is your hernia?

Delora(patiently): Mom, why do you think I have a hernia?

Delora's Mother: I read it on your blog.

Delora: You must not have read the actual blog.

Delora's Mother: No, really, I did!  I read that you had a hernia! How is it?

Delora:  Mom, if you'd read the actual blog, you would have known that that was a joke.  It was a lead into another issue...

Delora's Mother: -silence-

Delora: I don't have a hernia, Mom.

Delora's Mother:  Oh, that's right!  Your brother told me that you had a hernia!  He says he's going to call you about it...

Here's the story of Delora's hernia, Delora's BLOOD BROTHER and Delora's BLOOD MOTHER...
  Delora's Hernia

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Delora's Brain Malfunction

Multiple Shadow House photo by Olafur Eliasson

Delora discovers a seriously, serious problem with her brain function while driving with friends to a cute little village north of Madrid called Patones.

Delora is having a discussion about travel advisories in foreign countries and how one little incident can trigger a warning from the U.S. State Department.  Delora decides to delight her friends with an example of this by telling a story about a guy she knows who ran a travel business in Africa. Delora recounts the story of how one day this friend was traveling with his clients in this African country when they came upon a group of poachers. (All true.) They stopped the bus, and the men with guns fired a warning shot outside the window of the bus and it inadvertently hit a woman inside the bus and killed her.

Like in Babylon, Delora's friend asks?

Delora continues telling her riveting story, while at the same time thinking, Babylon, Africa? She refuses to embarrass her friend regarding her faulty geography, because she is concentrating so hard that she can see the story while she's telling it!  She recreates the dusty bus in her mind's eye and sees the woman who's been shot and the man next to her, who looks alot like -- wait a minute -- Brad Pitt! Sitting right next to the woman from Southport, Connecticut?

Sensing Delora's confusion, the friend gently utters the word, Babylon, and Delora's realizes that her brain is now mixing reality with scenes from movies!

Delora and her friends laugh uproariously until the windows fog on the car. But when Delora is awake playing Sudoku in the middle of the night, she wonders about the tiny brain tumor that may be forming and causing her to break from reality.  Maybe that Jamon isn't as full of Omega three fatty acids as those farmers claim it to be!  What if there's a miniature fat-ball restricting blood flow to the region of the brain that distinguishes between film clips and reality?  Delora decides that she must be very careful about which movies she chooses to view from now on.  Nothing funky from the science fiction or horror genres.  After all, Delora must keep her wits about her.  Tomorrow, she has to stand on a balcony in Buenos Aires and sing, "Don't Cry for Me Argentina", while looking good for her husband, Antonio Banderas.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Delora Lapses Into Semi-retirement

Delora's scoops another handful of Iberian jamon (de bellota) into her pie-hole, and glances lazily at her computer screen. There it is, the proof she was looking for: only 7 posts in the month of February. (The short, short month of February, she reminds herself.)  

Delora finishes chewing and tries to recall the quote from the author who wisely stated that one must balance living life with time spent writing about it. Working hard to source the quote for several minutes without any luck, Delora enjoys a dessert of Sour Cream and Onion chips while contemplating. Whoever that writer was sure knew what he was talking about. Without experiences, the writing suffers. Then again, Delora admits, with too many experiences one can't even make it to the computer. Delora is a bit torn,until her Spanish teacher warns her harshly never to feel guilty about not working hard enough. After all, she says, tomorrow you may be forced to face something really bad. Why not enjoy today?

Thinking back to when she was a New York tri-state-area-type-A personality, Delora realizes that after 6 months in Spain, her personality is now more like a type J (for Jamon). Delora chuckles to herself  remembering the self help books stacked on her bedside in Connecticut: Eckhart Tolle's, The Power of Now, and his follow up book, Practicing The Power of  Now. Delora was always too busy reliving the past or fretting about the future to read them.  Now Delora internalizes the Spanish philosophies of: no pasa nada and manana, tranquila! (Roughly: Don't worry; there's always tomorrow.)  And by doing this, Delora has achieved a goal more amazing, more unthinkable for a tri-state-type-A than any marathon or nobel prize: She has enjoyed a 4 hour lunch! She has actually wondered, after 4 hours of eating and drinking: where has the time gone? She has thoroughly enjoyed a lunch with 2 other people that lasted longer than her wedding reception!

Now many tomorrows have passed and Delora takes a vow: she will not, under any circumstances, enjoy Spain as much as she has been. She will limit her visits to the Rioja region of the country, minimize time spent enjoying her new friends, the museums, and the city sites.  She will restrict her time spent enjoying the radiant (yet, sometimes rebellious) personalities of her teenaged children and her newly Spanish speaking husband.  Instead, she will focus a tiny bit more on productivity! She will strive to post half of what normal bloggers post --a minimum of 10 posts per month!

And with that vow made, Delora decides to bypass the gym today.  One vow for greater productivity will count as mental exercise.  No pasa nada.

BTW - Delora apologizes for the programmers at for the horrible way that their program is formatting today...

Monday, March 1, 2010

Learning Manners From The Spaniards

Unlike those from a bordering country (rhymes with "pants"),  the Spanish always make you feel as though you've made their day just by being their country.  You go to Pants and, unless you're down on one knee apologizing for the Bush years, your attempts at speaking the language are met with a sniffle and a sneer.  You come to Spain and you're greeted with a kiss on both cheeks, a platter of Iberian ham, personal Spanish lessons and a hand-written thank you note for entering the country.  There's no comparison.

Turns out, the way Spaniards treat Americans is pretty much the same way Spaniards treat each other. Great emphasis is put on spending lots of time with family and friends and on being nice to strangers.  Here are a couple tips on Spanish etiquette for your next visit:

Always greet people on elevators... 
When entering or exiting an elevator, always greet the other elevator dwellers by saying Buenas dias! or Hola! (good day or hello). Say Hasta luego! (see you later) when getting off the elevator.  Don't make the same mistake Delora has made for months by saying Adios! when exiting. Saying Adios! implies that you don't expect to see your new elevator friends again and that's rude! Who knows when you might enjoy another few seconds with that same person on another elevator ride?

And at neighboring tables at restaurants.
Next time you're at a restaurant, ask yourself this question: am I being rude to the other diners? How many times have you followed the hostess to your table and avoided eye contact with others? Not here!  In Spain, you greet the people you pass while walking to your table at a restaurant.  Delora has noticed this mannerism mostly in smaller Spanish villages, but she plans to try this in New York City and see how it works there.  Try it yourself: enter a restaurant, give your name to the hostess, then nod at every person you pass and say, Hola! and Buenas! all the way to your seat.  Kind of makes you feel like the Mayor of the city.

Group singing - a must!
When our three returned from Spanish immersion camp this summer, they told stories of kids singing everywhere they went. Whether riding in buses or walking to the beach, group singing is always encouraged.  Camp life is a real-life version of High School Musical. The popular song by Pitbull, I Know You Want Me, made it impossible to mutter the words: one, two, three, four, last summer without every camper hoping onto a picnic table to finish the song: Uno, dos, tres, cuatro! We dismissed this behavior as child's play until we boarded a bus in Tenerife at 11:30PM and listened to 50 grown Spaniards sing for the full bus ride.  Or,  try a spinning class where you can enjoy group singing while getting exercise at the same time. What better way to make new friends?

When leaving a party, say goodbye to everyone.
Well-mannered Americans thank their hostess when leaving a party, but Spaniards say goodbye to all the guests too.  It's not mandatory to kiss everyone goodbye, but if you are too hasty with your exit, people will talk.

Attend the after-party.
It's only steps away from the party or the function you's right outside the party, in the street.  There, you'll have another opportunity to say goodbye to everyone and to chat a little bit more about whatever you just did. Are you starting to see why the Spaniards are famous for staying out all night?

If you come to Madrid and don't follow these suggestions, be forewarned.  The Spanish have a way of describing people who leave parties without saying goodbye properly -- Despiderse a la Francesa
(leaving like the French).

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Ode to Jamon (Ham)

Pata Negra: Translation? Black pig ham legs (and lots of 'em)

When Delora lived in the States, she thought ham was beneath her.  She remembers a childhood filled with nightmarish holiday meals at her Aunt's house, featuring molded ham from a can decorated with maraschino cherries.  Those days ensured that Delora would never voluntarily eat pink meat again.

Delora at the Ham Museum Store.  
Photo courtesy: Tay

Delora first tasted Iberian Pata Negra de Bellota at a friend's house just after arriving in Spain.  Eager to avoid appearing fussy and priggish, she took a big bite and was delighted to find that the Pata Negra didn't even taste like meat -- it tasted like nuts! Delora found herself hogging the whole platter of pricey meat as though making up for a lifetime of Pata Negra deprivation.  Later, when Delora couldn't stop craving the stuff, she did some research and this is what she found: Iberico pigs roam on grazing lands in Western Spain populated by encina trees (holm oak) and are only allowed to eat acorns.

If you want to know more about Iberico Jamon de Bellota, read this article: Guardian Article

Their meat is high in Omega 3 fatty acids!  It's actually healthy to eat the ham here (and good for Delora's recuperation diet!)  Some marketers people call Iberico pigs "olives on legs", or something cute like that. Plus, they're are massaged with a special oil every night after being given a pint of beer.  Wait, that's Kobe beef. Okay, there's no massaging pigs here, but Delora personally guarantees that if you can ever get your lips on a piece of this stuff, it's worth the ticket to Spain.

Look what my friends have in their Spanish kitchens:
Spanish Status Symbol
(Delora wants one of these badly and imagines that she would cover the hoof with a little American flag bandana.)

And if you're a vegetarian?  Lucky for you, there are a variety of vegetarian ham products available for you!  The entire snack food industry has capitalized on the country's love of ham and has added a line impossible to find in the states: Fritos con jamon, Doritos con jamon, potato chips con jamon...

Friday, February 19, 2010

Delora's Medical Condition

Delora is deciding whether to use the best Spanish surgeon or the best English-speaking Spanish surgeon for her abdominal hernia. She looks in the mirror one more time to confirm her diagnosis and, as she runs her finger over the pink bump, she wonders what in the world she's been lifting to cause such muscle strain.  She carries a 14 pound dog up the stairs when she refuses to walk, but that shouldn't bust a gut.

Delora decides to show the hernia to her daughter, who had one repaired when she was 6 months old.  She says look, this is what a hernia feels like!  This is what you had fixed when you were a baby!  Delora's spawn wipes a finger over the lump and offers a different opinion: what you have, she says with a smirk, is a blister from the button on your jeans.  Then, like Matlock, she re-zips her mother's partially unzipped jeans and shows how the button matches where the hernia is located.  While Delora is relieved at not having to speak to a surgeon in Spanish while undergoing anesthesia, she is a bit chagrined.  It's true, Delora's skinny jeans have been tight lately, but Delora believes that jeans fit best after a second wearing when the shrinking effects of the dryer have been reversed. Then Delora detects a bit of faulty logic: Delora doesn't even own a dryer in Spain.

When Delora takes a mental inventory of her last few weeks, she can point to several culprits for the hernia weight gain. Delora has always been a card carrying believer in the old adage, When in Rome, do as the Romans.  Adapting this personal motto to her time in Spain has meant that Delora has emulated the Spanish and allowed herself to eat several more meals per day than she does in the United States!   Here's a typical day: For breakfast, pastry and coffee (or -- for Spaniards only -- chocolate and churros,  before going to sleep -- at 6 AM.)  The next meal is served at around 11:30 AM when the Spanish enjoy a light sandwich or tortilla.  Lunch is from 2 PM until 4 PM where there is bread (no butter), a first course, and a second course, followed by dessert.  At 7 or 8 in the evening one enjoys a merienda, a mini meal, before heading out for a late night dinner at 10 PM. Delora has noticed that the Spanish love potato chips, and while she has denied herself this pleasure for years, she now feels that eating chips is a cultural experience and must be indulged.  As Delora's friend, Taylor, will tell you, Delora is now often heard furtively piling sour cream and onion chips into her mouth while speaking on her Vonage phone.

Part of Delora's recuperation from her non-operation involves an adjustment in wardrobe to looser clothing  to avoid irritating the stitches from the hernia non-operation blister.  Another part of the healing involves figuring out which diet strategy can work with the heavy-on-the-jamon-and-chips, five-meal-per-day plan.

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Final Report

Sometimes when Delora listens to people talking fast in Spanish she is like the animal in the Far Side comic picking out a few select words: blah,blah,blah,blah,blah, GOOD BOY!

This is how Delora listens to her Pet Detective and her interpretor at their final meeting.  They sit in a cramped office, like William Hurt's in the movie Body Heat, amidst stacks of papers and mementos crowding every surface. He is polite, professional, and deferential when offering a beautifully typed, albeit thin, report on his best paper stock. Delora pretends to follow along as he reads each hand-stamped page.

With the saddest possible face, he reports that Thunder is most probably not dead, blah, blah, since very reliable records are kept in the city of Madrid regarding animals that have been injured or killed. He confirms the area he has searched, blah, blah.  He is sorry that he hasn't been able to find Thunder. After all, he too, is the owner of a miniature dachshund, blah,blah. THEN, Delora hears the one Spanish word that peaks her interest:  blah, blah, FINCA, blah, blah!

Que?  Delora perks up.  Por Favor, una finca?  Then, blah,blah our PD explains that he believes that Thunder Perkins is probably living happily on a finca somewhere outside of Madrid! Delora's heart skips as she realizes that she has been duped by, quite possibly, the smartest male dauschund on the planet.  Here she is, like William Hurt in that second to last scene in Body Heat, realizing that Kathleen Turner didn't actually die in the fire! She had planned to dupe him all along!  Delora flashes back to a few clues from Thunder, the canine Kathleen Turner, and now it all makes sense: Thunder's guilty look that final day together on the couch; the chicken left in his bowl signaling his loss of appetite, or a diet designed to enable slipping out of a harness; ears perked with interest at the mention of an invitation to a finca!  Now it all makes sense.

Delora recalls friends who had, in the past, smirked a little when Delora reported signs of Thunder's high intelligence.  But what dog of average intelligence manages to escape from a harness and get himself furloughed to a finca outside of a city he's never liked?  What dog with less than a gargantuan IQ manages to plot an escape from a Chica he dislikes?  Other humans have underestimated Thunder for years, but not Delora.  She alone realizes that Thunder Perkins has figured out a way to get to a finca, before Delora herself has!

Delora can barely keep it together as she politely thanks the PD and gathers her things.  Delora smells a rat.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Thunder's Cost Justification Analysis

Delora thinks back to her salad days in New York City selling computers at IBM.  She remembers spending months of rigorous training at IBM school in Atlanta.  Besides dancing nightly at the Lime Light, she remembers learning everything she could about computer components, accounting and how to cost justify just about ANYTHING!  Cost justification at IBM, of course, was all about how to save people money doing things they could do faster (and cheaper) with computers.  Overtime, Delora has modified the meaning of cost justification.  Now she uses this skill to justify spending more money, when alot has already been spent.

With Thunder missing, there is an unspoken question in Delora's household.  The question is:  How much dinero will Delora and her husband spend to find their lost dog?  Delora ponders the variables. She acknowledges that if she had lost a TIMEX watch, with no emotional value, for example, it would be cheaper and easier to buy a new one for $79 than it would be to place an ad and hire a private detective.  Then Delora thinks about how much she would spend if she lost her nice Grandmother.  Then, there would be no stone unturned, no expense spared to find her, right?

Thunder's cost justification analysis falls somewhere in the middle...

It starts like this:
Puppy ($900)

Then you add this:

Photograph: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

8 years of medical care from Paul Newman's homeopathic Veteranarian - $$$

And this:

Playmate for Thunder

And this:

8 years of Organic food from Paul Newman's homeopathic Veterinarian -  $$$

And this:
Quarterly dental scrapings from the Homeopathic Veterinarian's
 dog whisperer from California who can clean teeth and improve dog breath without anesthesia.

And this:

Inevitable Dental work with general anesthesia to remove a few teeth - $$$

And this:

Dog Trainer to teach dogs how to sit after 3 months of weekly lessons - $$$

And this:
    Halloween costumes - 2006

    And these:


    And this:

    Sportswear to commemorate World Series Win (t-shirts, home and away colors, scarves, etc.) -

    And one of these: 
    Flight to Spain - $

    With these sunken costs, Delora believes she can properly cost justify one more ad in the paper!

    Tuesday, February 9, 2010

    Boarding School Conference Call

    SON 1: Why do we have to have another conference call when they've already interviewed us once?

    DELORA:  They want to see how you're handling your experience in Spain.  They might want to know if you've matured at all since they've seen you, or why you think you'd be a good fit at their school...

    SON 2: Can I tell them they have the hottest girls in their catalogue?

    Delora is not amused.

    DELORA: Did you all get your SKYPE numbers? I need to email them to the school right now.

    DAUGHTER:  Mine is: Dudeit'sLu.

    DELORA:  Seriously? Seriously. (To Son 1) And yours?

    SON 1: It's MotherRucker.

    Three teenagers crack themselves up.

    Friday, February 5, 2010

    Finca Fantasy: Part dos

    Darn if that Finca inviation didn't evaporate when the margaritas wore off!  To read about how Delora and her husband were lured into thinking that they would be invited to a kajillion acre finca to shoot things, then weren't, click here:

    So, fall has come and gone. Heck, winter has almost come and gone. Still, no finca invitation has materialized from the people we met casually at a cocktail party at 3AM who said, "You should come to our finca someday!"

    Then some of our best Spanish friends -- we only have two due to our language impairments -- tried their best to let us down easily over lunch the other day.  First, they let it slip that their family had, not ONE, but TWO fincas!  Then, seeing our excitement, our friends told us as gently as possible, that their finca(s) are only for family!  Wouldn't you think that our best Spanish friends in the whole wide world would invite us to ONE of their TWO fincas?  I mean really, who has TWO fincas and doesn't need some friends to fill them up and help kill the deer that have overpopulated them?

    Still, I can't help but think that we'll get lucky with someone and get a finca invitation before we move back to the States.  And it's with this optimistic view of the world that I begin my search for the perfect hostess gift.  What to bring to a finca?  As I walk through the charming streets of Barrio Salamanca, I keep my eye out for a statement gift, something to make the Spanish hostess feel she was right to invite Americans to her finca.  The kids suggest we bring a DVD of Bambi along with an orphaned baby deer, but this is too much of a political statement for me.  I'm thinking: what do you bring to a family that has to swallow mounds of deer meat every weekend?  Wouldn't something like gooseberry jam (is that a real thing, or something from a children's book I read once?) compliment venison? Maybe dress it up a little?  Perhaps I could bring some french crepes (venison crepes, how nice!) So my Google friend and I sit down to do some research on what would compliment venison and up pops a recipe finder with 91 recipes! Then I see this...

    We have recipes for all the familiar game meats plus the slightly "wilder" animals like bear, turtle, moose, squirrel, and snake.

    And with that, my Finca Fantasy comes to a screeching halt. I'm about to hurl just thinking about eatting a squirrel, so if you want to make alligator fingers, rattlesnake pasta or bear tonight, click here: 
    And if you can help me out with some ideas for what to bring to a finca, I'd really appreciate it.  Now if you'll excuse me...

    Thursday, February 4, 2010

    From Pet Psychic to Pet Detective...

    If you thought we were crazy to listen to two pet psychics, what will you think of our hiring a pet detective?  I  justify our decision by paraphrasing Donald Rumsfeld: we need more troops on the ground! Time is of the essence and we're losing this war against the dognapper.  The bottom line is this: what if Thunder has developed Stockholm's syndrome with his dognapper?  What if he's developed an affinity for the ole grey haired lady and forgotten all about his human birth mother?

    Enter the pet detective, a person to follow up on the ambiguous clues left by the pet psychic!  Searching the streets of Madrid for a stone framed wood door, etc., is a full time job.  AND, (paraphrasing Kim in Bye, Bye Birdie) I've got a lotta livin' to do!  Thanks to El Crisis Economique there are a handful of detectives in this city, men who wouldn't have dreamed of looking for a missing canine 2 years ago, who are now willing to switch from tracking errant husbands to tracking missing dogs in exchange for some Euros.  And why not?  Our wise Detective agrees, someone has rescued our dog and decided to keep the little guy. He hasn't surfaced at any of the city's many dog pounds, nor at the police stations, nor at the Vets' offices, nor at the (ahem) dog morgue.  SO... pet detective it is!

    In order to cover all the bases we have launched a two-pronged search and rescue mission (paraphasing Rumsfeld or Guiliani...or some other important person in charge of things) to find Thunder.  Here's the ad in the local paper...
    See Thunder above to the right? He kind of looks like the dog version of the attorney above and to the left of his ad, doesn't he?

    We have not yet begun to fight! 

    (Civil war quote? Shoot, who said this? Too lazy to source this quote and too old to remember...Ok...I felt guilty for being too lazy to google a quote... and it's a way to waste some time so that I can't possibly study my Spanish. It's from John Paul Jones to the British during the Revolutionary War.)

    Sunday, January 31, 2010

    Why Can´t Delora Be Tranquila?

    As she stands in the lift line in the Sierra Nevadas on the best ski day of the season, Delora can´t help but feel dissatisfied that she hasn´t learned the secret to Spanish tranquility.  She sees the baby blue sky and the packed power and knows that she should feel joy at the prospect of skiing this magnificent mountain 11,400 feet above sea level.  Instead, Delora wants to know the answer to a secret.  She want to know how the Spanish remain so carefree, joyful even, while being jostled in a crowd.  She wants to unleash her inner zen so that when someone blows smoke in her face in the "line", she will accept the Buddhist mantra that we are all one.  Instead, Delora looks at the inefficiencies of thousands of skiers in a funnel formation pushing each other towards a small entrance to the chair lift.  Delora notes that if she managed the world, she would install a system of alleys that would force people to queue into a line. But this is only in Delora´s perfect world.  Inspira, expira, she says to herself as she practices breathing exercises and her Spanish all at the same time.

    The breathing doesn´t help and Delora feels her inner hostilities being released when the man behind her puts both of his skis on top of hers and pushes her forward.  She recalls reading in the book, Spain is Different, that Spaniards have a different sense of personal space than Americans do.  She reminds herself to embace this cultural difference!  Delora should be a gracious and kind Ambassadoress for Americans everywhere.  She should not be an ugly American.  But Delora is from New Jersey, where people are killed for lesser offenses than riding on the back of someone's skis. Delora turns to give a warning glare to the offender, but as she turns, she sees her husband and children watching her closely, so she decides to take one for the team.  After all, she is testing out rental skis.  Who cares if there´s a 200 pound man on-board scratching them up?
    Can you see the smoke in this picture???

    She puts up with this annoyance for several more minutes seconds and then she snaps.  She says the only thing she can think of in Spanish that might be appropriate and that she knows she can pronounce correctly, "Hombre, en serio?"  Man, are you serious?  Managing to free her skis from under his,  she then places both of her skis right on top of his tips.   He looks at her with a puzzled look. Delora immediately feels much better, then much worse. Delora's family looks like they are not at all surprised at her outburst.

    Later, Delora has an introspective session with herself where she admits that she is unable to let the little things go.  She has recently read an article that says that this very quality is the secret to happiness. She wonders whether her failures are due to her birth order, some German DNA, or what. Then Delora admits to herself that she is happy in other ways.  She regrets that she is not always a great spirit guide to her children and that she cannot always be a gracious Ambassadoress for America.  She is not naturally tranquil -- at all.  She hopes that another few months in Spain will help, or at the very least, that she can summon a tranquility super power.

    Sunday, January 24, 2010

    Flamenco Sisters

    It seems that genuine flamenco attire from España brings out the tiny dancer in all of us!  Behold my beautiful nieces:

    ANOTHER Pet Psychic weighs in...

    This pet psychic is Chip's sister's friend.  She's based in NY:

    Thunder is east/northeast from the last place where he was seen.  You have to go twice as far as you think you do.  He isn't worried, he just wonders why you are taking so long to come get him.  He doesn't think he's lost.  There is another animal in the house who has a chip, he may have a new chip, go twice as far in the ENE direction and call vets in that area to find out about chips put in since Christmas.  The door he goes in and out of is wood the house is stone; the door frame is stone- not cobble shaped, either flat blocks or large rectangular pieces.  There is an arch shaped piece on top .  He's fine, just waiting for you.  

    We'll be looking again tomorrow...wood door... stone door frame... Thun-der!

    Tuesday, January 19, 2010

    Exploring My Inner Heroes

    [Spoiler alert:  If you have not watched HEROES Season 1 yet (fool), you may want to wait to read this riveting post...]

    When you live in Spain and can't turn on the TV because it's way, way too time consuming to figure out how to use anything from Telfonica, the most poorly run company on the planet (the same company that Thunder Perkins ... moment of silence ... could have run better than the current CEO),  you compensate by spending vast sums of money downloading Heroes -- Seasons 1 through 4 -- for about 60 dollars per season, even though you know that it sells at BJs for 39 cents.  Thanks itunes.

    And when you have the flu and Dr. Juan (or Jose) McDreamy, your Spanish house-call Doctor, has almost cured you, but you're still bedridden, you can watch 500 hours of Heroes in a row.  If you're not familiar with the show, here's the premise: sometimes ordinary people have a gene mutation (Darwin, blah, blah) and they develop super powers.  One person can fly; one can zap people with electricity from her hands.  You get the idea.  Some powers are sort of useless. No thank you to the ability to breathe under water, for example. Yet some powers are pretty fantastic. Beware, I've "heard" that when you watch many episodes in a row, this starts to happen:

    1. You start to believe that you just might have a super power developing yourself.  After all, sometimes they develop in adults, and they're not always obvious -- such as the ability to control people like a puppeteer, for example.

    2. If your power hasn't fully developed YET, you spend an inordinate amount of time wondering which power you would use if you were indeed developing powers, as you think you secretly might be.

    Here's an example of a little game I play with myself.  Let's just say, my chica loses my dog. I ask myself: which superpower would I use to fix this problem?  Flying doesn't really help, although it might be useful after the fact. But the answer is obvious, right? It would be Hiro's abilty to time travel.  Why? Because then I could travel back to the moment when that sneaky Chica was about to tie Thunder to the post and grab him.

    Another example.  Kids won't fill out essays the way you think they should be filled out for boarding schools.  Which power? YES: Matt Parkman's ability to perform mind control!  You wouldn't even have to say out loud that writing an essay about wanting to be in the Peace Corps would be better than an essay about wanting to be a Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader, for example.  You could just think it.  Better yet, you could forget about all those time consuming applications and mind control the admissions committee into admitting your kids (for free!) because they're so smart and creative and hold the secrets to the future in their hands (I'm trying out my mind control powers right now, Admissions people).

    Here's my final example for today, but don't blame me if you want to try this game yourself.  Ok, let's say you're in a foreign country and you need to learn a language, um, say Spanish.  Remember that cute little red-headed waitress with the ability to learn everything she's read, including languages?  Bingo!  Yes, yes, I know she ends up with a brain tumor from the extra workload, but I'll limit my learning to Spanish. And just to be safe, I'm carrying a pack of tissues in case my power turns out to be mind control.  Poor Matt Parkman gets a nose bleed every time he has to control someone who is really stubborn. With these kids, I'm gonna need a bunch of tissues.

    Sunday, January 17, 2010

    Day 25...

    You all have been so great about checking on Thunder's whereabouts...and I wanted, so badly, to have a happy ending to the story of our lost dog in Madrid.  I still hope for a happy ending, but I have mentally turned a corner here. My days of roaming the streets with a fist full of posters are dwindling.  I still yell "Thunder" into any recessed, arched alleyway surrounded by vegetation.  People still stare, startled, like they do at someone with Tourette's, but I don't care.  I've started intensive Spanish lessons again, so I have enough stress in my life.

    And I'm waiting... just waiting.

    For what, you ask?  For that day when I'm walking down the street and I see my Thunder with someone who has never taken him to the vet to check for a chip, nor called the police, nor checked with the dog shelters to see if their new dog was someone else's.  When that day comes, I will be ready.  I will take that person DOWN like Angelina Jolie in Tomb Raider, kicking butt and taking names!  I will execute a kick turn, stunning the dog-knapper, and if I need to, I will twist his or her arms, and karate chop(!)... unless, of course, it's a grey-haired old woman, in which case, I will be careful not to knock her over.  Instead, I will use the formal "Usted" conjugation in Spanish and will say, "Perdona" respectfully, but will then, nevertheless, grab Thunder gently and jog away without incident.

    Either way, I will yell: POLICIA!  I will have my forensic evidence ready (Thunder's hair on my tape lint brush.) I will have my chip scanner in my purse with Thunder's papers and, after many more Spanish lessons, I will know how to explain it all to the authorities in Spanish...

    Wednesday, January 13, 2010

    Note to Admissions...

    Besides having a lost dog and rotten karma, we are living through one of the worst trials ever to test our resilience on the face of this planet: we have 3 children applying to boarding schools. THREE! 

    It's not like the kids haven't been preparing their essays for some time now (admissions officers).  So why does it feel like we've spent days cramming for a test, unshowered, in our pajamas at 5 pm, surrounded by dirty dishes, take-out food, crumpled papers (and a wine glass)?  Why have we exhausted the entire supply of Wite Out -- tape, liquid and pen -- on the Iberian Peninsula?  Why didn't I pay that consultant in Connecticut the exorbitant amount of money he required to manage this process?  And why am I screaming alot?  I'll tell you why... because everything has to be hand-written!  In case you don't have one of your own, a 14 year-old's handwriting is not a pretty sight.  Sometimes the words start out large, then they get very, very small.  Sometimes there are large mounds of congealed liquid and tape white-out re-written in another color pen. Some applications look like they've been written while riding in a motor boat or on the back of a scooter.

    One application will require a microscope to read.  But hey, admissions, you asked for it.

    Other notes to admissions:

    If you ask a 14 year-old athletic boy what he wants to do when he grows up, he probably won't say that he really wants to figure out how to split the atom (like I told him to).  Instead, he'll say that he wants to play Centerfielder for the Red Sox.  And his back-up plan won't be to work as an apprentice for Mother Theresa (as I suggested).  He'll want to be a Rock Star.  If you ask a 14 year-old girl what she likes to read, she's not gonna say, Little Women (like I told her to).  If she's halfway honest, she's gonna say Twilight, or some other piece of romantic vampire chick-lit.

    Sure, I probably could have persuaded my offspring to follow my suggestions (with threats, itunes gift certificates and cash), but late one night after I had failed to persuade a single teen; after a certain petulant child explained to me that she or he had answered an essay question with one sentence because one sentence was enough;  I threw my hands in the air and realized that our applications (did I say "our"?) were not going to turn out as I planned.

    And maybe a certain child was right:  maybe one sentence was enough...

    Friday, January 8, 2010

    Look Up Thunder!

    If you're going for a walk in the evening, you'll notice that there are different Christmas lights strung across many of the streets in Madrid.  Do you notice lights on the grey/blond woman's street? What do they look like?

    Here are some examples:

    These are on Velasquez

    These are on Lagasca

    Jorge Juan

    Ortega y Gasset

    Send me a sign boy dog (through the Pet Psychic) and I will continue to look for you...