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July=houseguest month June 30, 2010

Posted by Emily in a few of my favorite things, Andaluc铆a, fiesta, jobs schmobs, Missoula, Spain, Travel.
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I’ve been on a roll with the blog this week (not to be confused with blogroll…har. A little nerd humor…) as the picked-up pace of blogging is mirroring the rest of my life. I’ve been on hyperdrive in the past couple of weeks, scrubbing, unpacking, hammering things into the walls after midnight most nights and doing more painting than seems natural. This is because I’m desperately trying to feel settled in the new house, yes, but also because I am preparing for basically one entire month of houseguests. On Friday, my dear friend Anna arrives from Sweden. We first met in Spain in 2005, when she was in my class temporarily and then, before moving on, invited me and my then-roommate out for churros con chocolate. We became fast friends and spent a semester painting the town red, making fun of Spanish dancers, and doing a lot of laughing. In 2007, I visited her in Sweden and, after the two initial awkward minutes, realized that time didn’t really matter – we still got along swimmingly and were talking a million miles an hour, in English and Spanish, as though we needed to catch up after a few weeks away.

When I moved back to Spain, she came to visit me in time for Las Cruces, a strange holiday involving lots of drinking in the streets in front of these huge floral crosses. A month later, I took the train to Pamplona, where she was putting in Spanish semester #4 after a year of Swedish uni. More going out and eliciting eyerolls from the other subdued Swedish exchange students. Our paths haven’t crossed since June 2008, as she was finishing up school in England and spending holidays in Sweden and I’ve barely left Montana.

Her graduation present from her parents was a ticket to come and see me, info I received last summer via one of our long, multi-part, bilingual letters. We’ve spent the last 6 months planning and getting ready for her two weeks here, and I’ve booked us flights to Vegas (first time for both of us) and have made Glacier plans. It’s going to be a blast.

Then a couple of months ago, two Spanish friends (a couple – she taught elementary school with me, he’s an elementary teacher in another district) sent me a message on Facebook, saying they had a surprise for me. I figured they might be getting married….but then didn’t hear anything else from them for a while. They are an absolutely hilarious Sevillano duo and introduced me to the intricacies of the fabulous Feria de Abril, flamenco-style dress and dance lessons and all. They had talked about coming to visit at some point, but have a camper and have spent most of their recent holidays at the beach in Spain or Portugal or tooling around other parts of Europe.

Three weeks ago, I get an email from them saying they are coming to the US, along with her brother, and would like to come and visit me in Montana. They’re also going to be here in July. So…we’ll have one night with all 4 of them – the 3 Spaniards, plus the Swede – staying in my house. Then I’m going to put the Spaniards on a plane to Las Vegas (one week after I’ll get back…thanks Allegiant!), so they can go and check out Sin City, spend some time by the pool, and Anna and I can finish up our time here. I think I’ll have a day to wash the sheets and then they’ll be back for 9 days here – with Glacier and possible Yellowstone plans in the works. I’m hoping to be able to join them for one of the two, and maybe send them off with my car to the other. Sorry about the lack of air conditioning, guys…the Volvo’s all I’ve got. 馃檪 At least Europeans know how to drive a stick. (weird note: Anna used to work at the Volvo factory in Sweden. It’s fate.)

Luckily, there’s an extra bedroom at the house. I bought a bed on Craig’s List and spent $35 on a bedding set from walmart.com. It’s pretty cute in person, actually:

It’s been nice to have this Friday’s deadline to motivate me, and I’m hoping to be largely done with the important unpacking by the end of the week. Come August, when I return from my family reunion, there will be some other unpacking/organizing to do, for sure, and probably a couple of lingering painting projects, but in the meantime, July will offer lots of good times and adventures with old friends I don’t get the chance to see too often. I get to show all of them Montana and the US for the first time. And I’m really ready for the vacation.

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Happy 4th! July 3, 2009

Posted by Emily in fiesta, photography.
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Hope you’ll be somewhere warm, with a cold beer in hand and some picnic food on a paper plate. I’m headed up to the lake with friends – should be fun!

Happy birthday Mom!

4th of July cake

Gangsta firecrackers

Gangsta firecrackers

fireworks

fireworks

fireworks finale

Bye bye, 2008 December 31, 2008

Posted by Emily in fiesta.
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I have to admit, I’m not much of a fan of New Year’s Eve. Any event that includes a countdown seems to be anticlimactic, I think. But I’ll go out with some old friends, meet my friend’s fiance (fresh off the plane from England), toast them with some free champagne at midnight, and look forward to a new year.

Which isn’t to say 2008 was a bad one. It was a crazy year in many ways, completely different than years past. Some things didn’t go as planned, sure. But I also have a huge collection of fond memories from the last 12 months. I had a great time, did some traveling, discovered that I really do like teaching and really might want to pursue it as a career here one of these days (just not with the wee ones…I’m too anti-jumper to be an elementary school teacher. plus the whole patience of Job bit…)

I’m looking forward to a new start. I’m trying to be open to whatever might come my way. 2009 is going to be an exciting year, for me, for my friends, for the country.

And it’ll be fun to share all of that here.

Now to think of a resolution…and choose my shoes for the night.

No need for dreaming December 23, 2008

Posted by Emily in a few of my favorite things, fiesta, Montana, things that make me smile.
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We are going to have a white Christmas, and now that my brother is home from driving all over the Pacific Northwest, I can be really excited about it. Last year was white lights in orange trees, which was lovely and new, but I really have been dreaming of a white Christmas for this year.

(some of you may have already seen this, as my uncle sent it out last year…but it makes me smile every time)

Merry Christmas!

C贸rdoba: A food guide November 20, 2008

Posted by Emily in a few of my favorite things, Andaluc铆a, fiesta, Spain, Travel.
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I enjoyed watching the last episode of Spain…On the Road Again, even if it was different from what I expected. They did an excellent job of giving a sense of the majesty of the Alhambra, drove to Motril and Almu帽茅car in Granada province, two relatively unexplored parts of southern Spain, sampled tejeringos, a type of crunchy churro, and then drove through C贸rdoba and 5 kilometers outside the city to Medina Azahara (more on that amazing palace later). Not bad in an hour.

I read in two or three places that a few members of the crew ate in C贸rdoba at Sociedad de Plateros (it’s one of their top recommended restaurants), but the last episode, “A Sultan’s View of Andaluc铆a,” featured only about ten minutes in C贸rdoba, and the only eating they did was toast with tomato and olive oil.聽 Of course, they ate it in my favorite plaza, Plaza de la Corredera, which has an amazing history dating back to Roman times–some of the mosaics uncovered here in the 1960s are on display at the Alc谩zar de los Reyes Cristianos–and is also sort of the center of C贸rdoba hippie culture.

That midafternoon light I so love

Here’s a short video of the plaza (with Spanish commentary):

It’s the perfect place to spend a Sunday afternoon…first a couple of beers with friends, then a long and mellow (but huge) communally-eaten lunch, then more caf茅 hopping for caf茅 con leche and whatever else comes your way. As annoying as it may sometimes be that everything is closed on Sundays, it also means the day is intended for relaxing, socializing, and lots of eating.

But, since the food of C贸rdoba didn’t get much coverage in the last episode, and the city can be sort of hard to navigate, foodwise, I thought I’d highlight a few of my favorite choices. Many tourists never leave the Juder铆a neighborhood, which is unequivocally the historical center, but is sort of a food desert–either bad touristy places with overpriced, frozen paella and a menu in eight languages or haute cuisine only really available to the upper crust of the tourist masses. But C贸rdoba is not lacking in good places to eat, and none of these are more than a ten or fifteen minute walk outside the main tourist areas.

Click on the individual boxes to read the full reviews I wrote on tupalo.com.

sociedad-de-plateros2

el-sotano

bar-moriles

el-torpedo

bar-santos

And if you find yourself feeling a bit peckish during that long stretch between 2 pm lunch and 10 pm dinner, there’s always potato chips.

An ode to potato chips November 12, 2008

Posted by Emily in a few of my favorite things, Andaluc铆a, fiesta, Spain, things that make me smile.
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Talking on the phone last week to some of my Spanish friends, I was reminded of how much I miss them and some other things from the last year. One of the first things that came to mind was potato chips.

I’m not usually much of a potato chip eater. They are a mainstay of Spanish meals, often being served as a sort of appetizer along with anything, from beers before lunch to Christmas dinner. There’s one kind of chip that tastes exactly, freakishly like baked chicken. Even ghetto college parties include bowls of cheap chips along with the 1鈧 box wine. Spaniards LOVE potato chips.

Throughout C贸rdoba there are shops specializing in or selling ONLY potato chips, including one just down the block from my apartment. These particular chips are worth loving. Fresh out of the oil (often strictly olive) and still warm, these and Ruffles bear no resemblance.聽 I would stop in and buy the smallest bag, while the old women next to me would buy 1 or 2 kilos (that’s 4.4 POUNDS of chips, people). But who can blame them? Total heaven in a greasy plastic bag.

Music: “I’d Write A Letter” – Al Green from the “I Can’t Stop” album

(I had to mute out the people at the shop giggling at me, the silly extranjera.)