Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Referrals, Holiday Edition

Until recently "Spanish terms of endearment" has been the search phrase that draws the most Googling-viewers to this blog. And most of them, despite what we had imagined in certain romantic moments, are college students. No doubt looking for a quick sweet nothing with which to spice up a final exam.

But in the last month or so, all that has changed. Now our referral list is filled with searches for the Catalan crapper we've described here and here. So as a public service for all of you looking for a little dumper of your own, we hearby bring you the Caganer Website. Like Santa's elves, their artisans spend the summer and fall crafting tiny little crappers that look like that year's celebrities. Last year, the big seller was the Leonor caganer, handsomely carved and painted to look like the Prince and Princess's new baby.

This year, the star caganer is José Montilla (see above). That name likely won't mean anything to those of you who are not Spanish. But tell me he doesn't look like Dick Cheney.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Country Pup in the Big City

We’ve noted that Levon loves living in Asturias. For a dog, what’s not to like?

He chases his tennis ball and rides the surf at the San Pedro beach, he walks along the cliffs to the Faro Vidio, and he wanders around the Molino and its grounds day and night, according to his whims. After his traumatic plane ride across the Atlantic almost a year ago, he probably thought he’d landed in heaven.

Last week, things changed. We had avoided taking Levon to Madrid with us because, with his fear of climbing stairs, we figured we’d never get him up the five flights to our piso. And if we did somehow manage that, we couldn’t imagine repeating it several times a day for walks, bladder relief, and the rest.

But Levon is a different creature since coming to Spain; he’s changed a lot more than I thought he (or any dog) could. As the months have passed, the notion of at least attempting a trip to Madrid with him has seemed less and less crazy.

So we finally tried it.

Last Saturday, after a five-hour drive down and another half an hour trying to find a parking spot, Levon and I approached Almendro 27. With some hope but realistic expectations, I opened the building’s large front door and plunged ahead. I’d decided that I would walk swiftly up the stairs and simply tolerate no lagging or resistance from Levon.

To make a long story short (and sweet), Levon went up and down those stairs dozens of times without a hitch. He was certainly anxious at times, and when we reached the top he always wanted to get inside the apartment door as quickly as possible. But a trip that I had accepted might be a drive down to Madrid and back to Asturias the same day, turned into a week and a half of pleasure (for us) and adventure (for him—and us).

Sunday morning we took him along the Calle Belén to the Royal Palace and the Plaza del Oriente. At first skittish about all the loud noises and sudden movements of the city, Levon quickly realized that he could run and play here, too (if he could just sneak past those pesky Guardia Civil).

And when he was ready for a nap, he found that a bed under the living room window suited him fine.

I think we all expanded our horizons a bit. And Levon, at times the most stubborn dog in the world, discovered that even in Madrid, there’s a place for him.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

What Every Girl Wants For Christmas

We first noticed them a couple of years ago. Calf-high, low-heeled (no heeled, really), lace-up horrors masquerading as women’s footwear. Suddenly, they were everywhere, filling scores of shop windows with their hideousness, marring the lower extremities of nearly every female under 40. Somehow, wrestling boots had become hip.

We shouldn’t have been so surprised. This is a country, after all, where men happily wear pirate pants, and where the mullet is the default haircut for people of all sexes. The staying power of these ill-conceived booties was, nonetheless, astounding: winter, spring, season after season, Spanish girls kept tying them on.

So it was with some relief that we came across this recent Christmas display. Red suede with black laces: we can only surmise that the wrestling boot has at last jumped the shark and is headed into Spanish fashion oblivion. (Just don’t tell John Irving.)