Sunday, June 22, 2008

Moments in Spain: High Above Bilbao

Do you think the children who play on this playground fully appreciate this view? Of course not, but they sure would if they ever saw Illinois!

I took these photos on a hill above Bilbao. I took a funicular up (for 72 cents euro) on an overcast day and found these amazing sights. I'm not sure what fascinated me so much about this playground, but it had an impact on me nonetheless.

The Basque country is very picturesque. And the Basque people have been living there--as far as they're concerned--forever! They are one of the only ethnic groups in the world (if not THE only) who have no migration mythology in their cultural lore. This fascinates me to no end. It's nearly impossible to say how long they have been walking these hills, speaking their insanely complex language. I intend to read more about the Basques, though I have been saying that for two months and still haven't made that library search. Soon, though! Those Basques are just downright fascinating.

You might say they've put their fingerprint on the landscape.

I think that's what this artist was going for. I can't say for certain as all the signage was in only Spanish (Castillian) and Basque. It was difficult to get by with only English in Spain compared with Germany or France, where I was not hopeless in German and quite conversant in French, but at least everything was an "adventure."

One thing I don't need language to understand: I could find a way to fill hours of my day just staring at these views. Though not quite so transfixing as a beach, endlessly lush eye candy abounds in these vistas.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Moments in Spain: Oh, How I Love Beaches

I don't know what it is about a beach that just pulls me in. I could stare at it all day. My spirit flies off into the deep blue and I'm in a very happy place.

Erich and I arrived in Spain around noon on a Friday. We had left a very snowy Chicago the night before. On Saturday morning, we boarded a bus to San Sebastien. The weather was chilly but the skies were clear--a promising day. We arrived in San Sebastien and walked from the bus station to our hotel. We got checked in, etc., then went to explore the town. We walked not a hundred paces out the front door of our hotel before we saw this. It was about 70 degrees and clear as can be. I was temporarily in heaven.

This was exactly what I needed. A little retreat from the winter at home that seemed to have no end. Just staring at the waves was like an antidote to the emptiness I still felt only six weeks after my devastating miscarriage. The long hours of travel through cold and snow just melted away in the abundant sunshine and beautiful colors of San Sebastien.

We didn't even walk on the sand. I didn't dip my feet in the water. All I needed was a look. I probably stood there for a good fifteen minutes, taking pictures and soaking it in. It was more refreshing than a cold glass of water on a hot day. Thank you, God, for beaches!

I mean, what could be better than this?

Hmmm... still needs something.... I've got it!

Don't you just want to paint this?

Outside the protected harbor, the seas weren't so friendly:

Sunset on a perfect day.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Family rocks

I love living close to my family. If and when Erich and I ever have to move away, I will miss being able to drop in on my parents any time. They're always good for a free meal, some time with the dog, hanging out in their nice house with the great backyard.

My mom always does nice things for me. I once complained about not getting enough exercise, and now she drives herself and the dog to my house two mornings a week and we walk together. Since Erich and I are still setting up our domicile, I'll occasionally need the use of her large vehicle to pick up furniture at Ikea. Just a few days ago, she went with me to buy a bed! When Erich's out of town, I can almost always count on her to keep me company and feed me.

I could drop in almost any time unannounced and demand food, and she'd probably cook for me. I wouldn't even have to ask.

But I do anyway. If I'm going to show up at her house, I let her know ahead of time. If I need to ask a favor of her, I politely ask. If I need a shopping buddy, I find out if she's free. My mother is extremely generous, but she has a life. And even though she is almost always available to me in whatever I might ask of her, I have a feeling she does things for me with a much happier heart because I try my best not to take her for granted.

I love that our family is so close and we can count on each other. But it is amazing how far these four little words can go to keep our spirits up: "Would it be okay...?"

Moments in Spain: Shark fetii!

Ever wonder what a shark fetus looks like?

I took this video at the aquarium in San Sebastien, Spain.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008


Summer's here, and my piano students are dropping like flies. They'll be back, probably when school starts again, but there's little I can do to force them to stick around. Many of them are staying with me, but between vacation schedules and summer camps, it will be far from regular.

This really sucks because Erich and I are hoping to save as much money as we possibly can if we want to be in a house within 2-5 years. I'm not making money sitting around!

Maybe I'm a defeatist, but I just don't think I'll be able to get any new students for the summer, even if I advertise. I suspect my most recent summer cancellation is an economical decision on their part. With gas prices where they are, piano lessons start to seem like quite the luxury, and if it's hard enough for some students to continue year-round, it will be downright impossible to draw in new clientèle. And then there's the age-old trend of people starting lessons when home life stabilizes in the fall. That's just how it is.

So what can I do? I'm really hesitant to give up the level of flexibility I have with my piano studio. I need it for the church music work I do, of which I have plenty this summer, but unfortunately, not for more money.

Sometimes I think I should just try to get some type of office-y day job, but I have no idea what kind of job to look for and whether I have the necessary skills. But I would have such a hard time committing to anything. I will to be a SAHM sometime, and I would have been starting in August. That didn't work out, and now it's anyone's guess as to when that will become my reality.

I hear retail calling my name, but I really, really, really, really, really, really, really don't want to do that.

How in the world can someone like me make extra money? House-sitting? Babysitting? I'd do any of that, but I don't know anyone who needs those services, and I'm too unmotivated to advertise that kind of work. If my blog made me money, I might be motivated enough to write in it more often.

And now these ponderances are making me grumpy. Back to cleaning the house. (Housewife! I'm good at that [ish]! money. Boo.)