Barcelona Day 4

  • We did the ten course tasting menu at Cinc Sentits, which translates to five senses. I love tasting menus because I like to try different foods, and this place did not disappoint. What I loved was that they brought you a description of the dish before they served it. The presentations of all the food was just over the top spectacular.
  • Park Guell was a housing development conceived by Gaudi, which was a flop- the locals thought it was just weird and no one bought into the idea. Personally, I think it failed because there was a lack of hand rails- meaning- impractical. At some point form must function. I don’t know if I would have lived there either- we walked into the porter’s shack and I felt like I was in a Dr. Seuss village. The oddly shaped houses totally reminded me of when I took my daughter to Land of Make Believe-
  • Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya was awesome- both the physical structure itself, and the way the art was exhibited. I saw some really lovely works and discovered some artists I’d never heard of.

Barcelona Day 3

  • Lomo Alto is a carnivores delight- they bring the meat out and slice it for you under a lamp- delicious
  • Took a tour to Monserrat to see the Monastery- the order was founded almost 1,000 years ago!
  • Of course, the highlight of the Monastery is the Black Madonna- and the tour said that we would see it. Well, we did see it, from a distance. To go up close and personal, you need to buy a ticket, and this was not included. So, during our hour of free time, I went to buy a ticket. Well, since we were with a group, they are only allowed to see tickets to the group leader, (our group leader was back at the minivan)…not the individual. It’s the rule… Of course, being the Ugly American I said something along the lines of – “Don’t you want my 8 euro?” because really…you’re telling me that a Monastery doesn’t need some cash? So I left without seeing the statue up close…but all is well…I got to see it from afar.
  • Apparently, Hitler thought that the Holy Grail was hidden in the Montserrat Monastery, not where Indiana Jones was looking. There are pictures of Himmler (I think) in front of the monastery…with groups that were going to look for it
  • There’s a painting of Mary and she looks older. Yet, I rarely have seen, if ever, pictures of Mary as a middle aged woman. Why is that? Is she not supposed to have aged?
  • Part of our tour also included a trip to a Winery- Llopart, which is 80% Spanish Sparkling wine- which this particular winery calls Corpinnat- a distinction from Cava in that it is supposed to be higher quality. I will say, all that we sampled was delicious!!!
  • My calves are considering going on strike- Day 2 saw us walk 27,000 steps…

Barcelona Day 2

  • I can’t do justice to La Sagrada Familia- one of the most impressive manmade sights that I’ve ever seen… Just amazing. Though I do like the shot of the pigeon… of course, you all know about my legendary fear of heights, falling and small spaces- I heard that one must go to the Towers at LSF- so I booked tickets for the Nativity Tower-steps…I made it down the staircase of death just barely…my hands were so slick with perspiration from my nerves I thought I was going to slide down. Worst part: after 450 steps of fear, it wasn’t really worth it…
  • Barcelona Cathedral is just gorgeous- built in the late 1200’s- I couldn’t help but marvel at the craftsmanship
  • Picasso Museum was good, but I’m not a huge fan of his work. I also had a glass of Cava before the museum, and as I am a lightweight, one glass was enought to make me think that his work looked proportional…
  • Paella…yum…
  • Found out that Gaudi was very into ergonomics- when he made doorknobs, he took a mold of his hand so he could figure out the natural curvature
  • My hotel has a breakfast buffet included- but this is no Days Inn stale croissant and weak coffee- we even had Cava if we wanted a morning Mimosa…which I didn’t…but I did have a 1:45 glass…
  • When the light turns yellow, there is no grace period for street crossing here in Europe. Only start walking on the green!
  • I always forget that when you ask for water in Europe you get a big bottle- no option for tap like we have at home
  • We walked 31,000 steps yesterday. My calves hate me right now. Seriously- I almost stopped at a nail place for a ten minute leg and foot massage…

Barcelona Day 1

  • Our plane arrived at 6:30 AM- which means that we spent the day just a little bit out of it. Obviously- a 3pm hot chocolate and churro run was needed. FYI- best hot chocolate ever…
  • Gaudi architecture is just amazing- but so is all the other architecture that we’ve come across. Prefer Battlo to Pedrera, but impressed by both
  • Went to La Boqueria- food looks so good I almost wish I had a kitchen so that I can cook.
  • Strolled La Rambla…don’t see what the big deal is
  • Got lost in Gothic Quarter at least thrice…crazy maze of streets
  • The big question of the day: which espadrilles are the best and should I buy them…

Guide or Tell or Not

My daughter recently made a decision to do something. To be clear, the thing she did was not dangerous, immoral, illegal or even a grey area of anything. It was an intellectual choice that really has no ill effects except that she had a few days of playing the teeny tiny violin and saying woe is me.

Let me repeat, the worst outcome of her choice was to feel a little sorry for herself.

When my daughter was in the “Woe is me” phase, my husband and I had a conversation:

Husband: We should have told her what to do.

ME: This is why you don’t make the parenting decisions

Husband: We should have guided her

ME: There comes a point where you have to let your kids own their choices/decisions. She has to learn how to make a decision, and how to own that decision and live with its consequences

Husband: But she shouldn’t have done this. We could have saved her the anguish

Me: If this, not even a mistake, is the worst decision that she ever makes in her life, she will be the most fortunate person in the universe. We can’t guide her 24/7. She has to learn how to navigate life. She will never learn to navigate it if we constantly tell her what to do and how to do it. Being an adult is a skill acquired through life experience. You only get life experience by trial and error. We don’t even know if we’d saved her anguish- she might have regret instead. You don’t parent by trying to spare your child of negative feelings and emotions and such. You parent by being there if and when they need you.

I’m pretty sure my husband tuned me out halfway through my monologue, but hopefully you all get the point I was trying to make…

You have to let your kids fail. You have to let them have feelings. You have to let them experience things. You have to let them make mistakes. You also have to let them make their own choices, for good and/or bad. Allowing them the latitude to do what they see fit is the ultimate form of respect. And the number one thing needed in any relationship is respect. If your kid is not doing anything illegal or life threatening, you have to respect what they do and don’t do. Without respect you will never have a true relationship- especially with adult children.

And really…

Are you confident that you have the right answers about everything?

Inspiring-Interesting-Intellectual-Intelligent- Iconic- Impressive

To begin- I’m playing with what to title my Sunday posts- I like the thought of the five words in today’s title because it sort of represents what I’m taking pictures of. Any ideas on the best way to title these? Thanks!!

Gratitude and Mindfulness: 7/23/22

My daughter went to brunch with her friends. The waitperson drop a tray of glasses right next to me daughter. She ended up covered in glass.


I am grateful that she only had one tiny scratch. I am grateful that the staff at the restaurant was courteous, took the incident very seriously, and did everything possible to make sure that she was Ok, and foisted phone numbers of all the restaurant management in case she was seriously hurt. I am grateful that apparently, my daughter remained calm during the incident. I am most grateful that I wasn’t there, because I would have freaked out.

My prompt for this week is COMFORT. It was used in the books I’m reading in the following ways:

  1. Everyone could do with a crumb of comfort occasionally. Beth Morrey
  2. Many people, Nick Gray points out, just aren’t comfortable in museums. Rob Walker
  3. Now that my children are grown, friends are the ones I turn to for laughter and comfort. Caroline Kennedy
  4. He and his family currently enjoyed an enviable position that had a degree of social prominence and comfort to which he could not otherwise have aspired. Sarah Rose
  5. Pedion tou Areos was becoming like a new home to people: shoes lined up next to the blankets and tents, clothes hanging from trees, games of cards, and music and singing, and although I should have found some comfort in this, instead I felt suffocated by these glimmering remnants of an old life. Christy Lefteri
  6. I felt Theresa was giving people the gift of comfort and peace. Helen Ellis
  7. Although these spaces were freezing in winter- even with a stove- and stifling in summer, the idealistic tenants cared more about light, preferably northern, than comfort and convenience. Deborah Davis
  8. People found comfort in rituals. Jennifer Close

Here’s how I’m going to think about comfort

  1. other than the obvious, what’s the difference between comfort and comfortable?
  2. how important is comfort in day to day life
  3. why do we find comfort in rituals?
  4. What is the difference between a comfort and a necessity?
  5. If we don’t find comfort with a partner or a friend or a family member, is the relationship worth having?
Song of Solomon 2:5 (excerpt)

As the lily among thorns, so is my love among the daughters. 
As the apple tree among the trees of the wood, so is my beloved among the sons. I sat down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste. 
He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love. 
Stay me with flagons, comfort me with apples: for I am sick of love. 
His left hand is under my head, and his right hand doth embrace me. 
I charge you, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, by the roes, and by the hinds of the field, that ye stir not up, nor awake my love, till he please. 
The voice of my beloved! behold, he cometh leaping upon the mountains, skipping upon the hills.

My Month in Books & Movies: July 2022

BookAuthorGenreBook club/beach reach/personal introspection/how toRating
Min Jin Lee
fiction/historical fiction/Japan and Korea/discrimination/family sagabook club1
A Lovely Life: Savoring Simple Joys in Every SeasonMelissa Michaelsnon fiction/life style/simplicityhow to2
Strapless: John Singer Sargent and the Fall of Madame XDeborah Davisnon fiction/history of a painting and its scandalbook club3
The Lies I TellJulie Clarkfiction/psychological drama/women characters/beach read4
The Christie AffairNina de Gramontfiction/mystery kind of/alternate story flash backbeach read5
Toujours la France! Living the Dream in Rural FranceJanine Marshnon fiction/memoir/moving to a different placebeach read6
Salty: Lessons on Eating, Drinking, and Living from Revolutionary WomenAlissa Wilkinsonnon fiction/essays/stories about womenbeach read/book club7
The Last Chance LibraryFreya Sampsonfiction/women’s fiction/book and library lovers/personal growthBeach Read8
  1. Pachinko– Beautifully worded story about a Korean family trying to live in Japan throughout the 1900’s. We are dealing with about ten or so different characters and some of them are not fleshed out as much as they can be, and sometimes a character will just drop out and there’s no resolution, so some of the author motivation gets muddled. The book also deals with very emotional things, yet the emotions get muted- almost as if the reader isn’t really supposed to feel, or they are supposed to repress their feelings.
  2. A Lovely Life– I love a lifestyle book and this hit the spot for me. It’s well organized and gives little tips on small things you can do seasonally to change up your day to day. I like lifestyle tips that are simple and practical and can be done by most people. Charming little book.
  3. Strapless– Well written history book about one of my favorite works of art, Madame X. It gives information and stories in an easy to digest narrative, and includes some tidbits about Oscar Wilde and Henry James that I found fascinating. But if you’re not a history or art buff, I don’t know how much you will enjoy this.
  4. The Lies I Tell– I have many feelings about this book. Though it is technically a psych drama, it doesn’t necessarily motivate the reader to keep reading- it’s a tad slow in spots. But Clark’s genius is that when the book comes to a pretty satisfying conclusion (which is difficult given the genre) you stop and wonder if this is really based on a true story. The story has the right mix of I can’t believe it/oh yeah I see how this could totally happen, which is a rare and difficult quality to achieve. This is a good example of why you should finish a book, because sometimes it is worth the wait. That being said, if you don’t like getting into people’s heads, and thinking about the WHY, this probably is not a good book to read.
  5. Christie Affair– Agatha Christie disappeared in 1926 for a little over a week. This is a fictionalized account of what happened during that time period, plus a little mystery thrown in. I think any fan of Christie should read this book, because it’s just a nice little piece of escapism. If you’re not a fan you should skip it because otherwise it’s just a somewhat bland interpretation of a mystery and read herrings and such.
  6. Toujours– British couple decides to move to a farm in rural Northern France. Told with wit and self deprecating humor, this is a sweet homage to adopted lands. There were moments I laughed aloud at some of the happenings of Janine and Mark in their new home. Wonderful cast of characters that make you feel like you know them. Light and charming.
  7. Salty– This is a book of essays written around the question- if I could have a dinner party, who would I invite. In this case, the author chose nine distinguished women who had written at least a little bit about food and dining. As any dinner party where some guests are more interesting than others, some of these essays are more interesting than others. However if you like reading about strong women and food, this isn’t a bad choice. There are recipes included, so a book club could make the different recipes and discuss the book.
  8. Last Chance Library– This book was bland. If books were colors, this book would be beige: lackluster, one note, milquetoast. The characters and setting are one dimensional and you don’t root for anything or anyone because you just forget about them. I just didn’t care about the outcome.
MovieGenreWhere SeenRating
Marcel the Shell With Shoes Onfaux documentary about a snail done by the guy who is renting in the airbnb where Marcel livesTheater- AMC1
Mrs. Harris Goes to Parisfiction/set post WWII England and Paris/light/romantic/heroine is of a certain ageTheater- AMC2
Elvisbiopic/historicalTheater- AMC3
Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen, A Journey, A songdocumentaryTheater- Film Forum4
Mr. Malcolm’s Listhistorical fiction/periodTheater- AMC5
Official Competitionforeign (Spanish)/dramedy/some satireTheater- AMC6
From Where They Stooddocumentary/foreign (French and German) concentration camps/WWIITheater- Film Forum7
Minions: The Rise of Gruanimated/childrens?/sequelTheater- AMC8
Thor: Love and Thunderrom com/super hero/Marvel/continuationTheater- AMC9
I recently joined AMC A List, which allows me to see three movies a week, for a month, for just slightly more than the ticket price of one film. As movies are apparently back, this is an awesome deal for me during the summer when the city is a sauna and the theater is a brilliant escape.
  1. Marcel– This is just a sweet, charming film that gives you the feels. A lovely commentary about love, family and connections. Clever and witty dialogue and whimsical storyline. However, if you are not a fan of whimsy, and like your films full of action- this is not for you. But if you like understated little films, go see this.
  2. Mrs. Harris– This is the movie equivalent of a beach read. Light, frothy, unbelievable and fun. Charming lead performance by Lesley Manville, who you really do want to have as a friend because she’s just so personable. My con to this movie is that for a movie about Paris and Dior, there really wasn’t enough Paris or Dior. Take advantage of those two things and make it a love letter to Paris and Dior- don’t take those elements and make them a passing backdrop. The person going to see the movie wants the full love story…
  3. Elvis– Austin Butler is mesmerizing as Elvis, and the music montages are great, but the only time this movie sings is when there is singing or dancing or Butler. The story is muddled, and Tom Hanks is somewhat wasted as the villain in the tale that is the life of Elvis. But let me add- Butler is so good as Elvis I wanted to leap up and throw my panties at the screen…
  4. Hallelujah– If you love the song, you need to see the documentary. If you don’t love the song, you can pass. Interesting journey of a song that took 8 years to write, has technically over a hundred verses, and when the album it appeared on was produced, the record company chose not to release the album in the US…then made popular by the movie Shrek…what a story…
  5. Mr. Malcolm– If you are into the whole PBS/Bridgerton/Downton/Austen/Gilded Age thing, go see this movie. Pretty costumes, typical storyline, and just historical period fluff. If the story seems familiar, it’s because it is, but if it’s your thing, this fits the bill.
  6. Official Competition– This is a movie about making a movie- there are some funny observations about the types of personalities that produce, direct and act in major films. Most of the dialogue is quite clever, but some of it goes just a bit too far- slightly more understatement is needed. Solid acting though, and interesting plotline.
  7. From Where They Stood– This is a documentary about photographs that some interred at concentration camps were able to take, and hide. The subject matter is sad and hard to think about and view. The thought of what happened is very difficult to think about. But as for a documentary- it falls short. The documentarian was French, and he was speaking to Germans through translators, so much of the film is just people translating. This makes it slow. The doc is also very academic, and it’s like the very boring professor who is not quite sure what’s he’s looking at, and he’s trying to explain it as part of class. It was very hard to pick up the thread of what the filmmaker was trying to prove. In seeing this doc, I should have been filled with emotion, but I left feeling empty, and not empty as in emotionally depleted, but empty as in the doc had no point of view (the woman at the end of my row left early, and two people in front of me fell asleep) This had the potential to be many things, but it fell short on all counts.
  8. Minions– Stupid and reasonably amusing. It was a hot day and my family wanted an afternoon distraction, and this fit the bill. As far as it’s being a kids movie though, I don’t think I would let my less than ten year old see it- it seems like it’s made more for adults, which is mirrored in the fact that our 345 showing was 80% adult.
  9. Thor– More rom com than superhero action adventure. If you look at it as a light comedy, it’s fine. If you want it to be full of anything else you are out of luck. I’m pretty much all in for the Marvel universe, so I was seeing it no matter what, but if you aren’t really into it, you can pass.