Jack’s Walk

Complementary Colours ©voyager, all rights reserved

It’s a beautiful day in my neighbourhood. The air is clear and crisp with a northwest wind that has just enough bite to make the tips of your ears tingle. The sun is shining in a blue blue sky, and the trees are on fire and dancing in the wind. The sidewalks are littered with withering copper leaves that tickle your ankles and rustle as you walk. Some fallen leaves still want to dance, and they go skittering down the street riding on the wind. It’s the sort of day that fills my senses and makes me feel quiet. I’m pretty sure Jack feels the same way – today, we put aside the talk of this and that and walked in companionable silence, each of us soaking up the season.


Holidays: ¡De Fiesta!

During our holidays, the city of Mataró celebrated its annual major festival calleD “Les Santes”, the saints, remembering two female martyrs from probably the 3rd century. Surprisingly, those martyrs feature very little in the celebrations which had multiple concerts of different kinds of music, from classical to hip hop, theatre, children’s theatre and, most importantly, the street festival. Central to this is the “Robfaves family and the dwarves”: El señor Robfaves, his Wife the Giantess, their daughter Toneta and her husband Maneló.

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And no, those aren’t just statues that are put in front of the decorated town hall. Inside of those figures are people who carry them through the streets!

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While there is one day of the big parade, you can meet them throughout the whole two week festival. Nowadays there are also many other giant figures from the various schools, clubs, institutions, churches, villages,… While many of them seem to have a meaning and a history, I was unable to find out more because the information was in Catalan only. :(

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Here’s an overview of some of them as miniatures in a shop window and now for them in real size. Sorry if the images aren’t much, they were taken with the mobile holding it above my head and hoping for the best.

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Jack’s Walk

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It’s election day in Canada and Jack is upset that he can’t vote. I explained to him that he’s too young, but he said that’s only in people years and that in dog years he’s almost 80.

“Well, that’s a good point, Bubba, but even if you are old enough, you’re still a dog and dogs can’t vote.” I reached down to fondle his ear. He heaved a sigh and walked away muttering about civic responsibility and how silly and stupid people are.

I mulled that over while I finished the dishes and then I grabbed my coat and Jack’s leash and called out to him, “hey Bubba…wanna be a greeter at the polling station. That’s an important job, and it’s best suited to a dog just like you.”

He happily joined me and off we went up the street to stand outside the polling station and say hi to all the people. We stayed for about half an hour, and once Jack’s tank was overflowing with love and adoration we slowly made our way home. Jack quickly fell asleep, but the thought bubble over his head was filled with smiley faces and a job well done. That’s my boy.

Local Reminders of Global Warming

Last year the broken weather nearly killed my fig trees. There were signs of hope afterward, I wrote about it here.

This year, the broken weather has lead to me harvesting over 1 kg of fresh figs today, in late October, when it should be freezing already. I mean, I am glad the trees recovered and are doing well, but this is not normal. Sometimes a small good thing is a result of a big bad one I guess.

The Art of Book Design: The Jumping Frog

It’s Mark Twain week here at The Art of Book Design, but maybe not the Mark Twain you’re expecting. I’m going to feature first editions of some of Twain’s less famous works throughout the week, and on Saturday I’ll be sharing one of my favourite books of all time in an extended post that will include lots of pictures. Let’s leap into the week (groan) with The Jumping Frog.

Mark Twain. The Jumping Frog. Illustrated by F. Strothman. New York and London, Harper and Brothers, 1903. First Edition.

Mark Twain. The Jumping Frog. Illustrated by F. Strothman. New York and London, Harper and Brothers, 1903. Original dust jacket.


Cover Photos via: Books Tell You Why.com

The Story can be read (in a different edition) at The Internet Archive

Finishing a Depressing Episode in Life

Two years ago my father’s oldest brother has died. If you were reading TNET at the time, you may remember that it was very stressful before his death. His house was full of garbage. Literally full – each and every room to the breast height, some more – and literally garbage – wrappings, shopping bags, spoiled food. And mixed in that garbage were occasionally valuable things, like tools or antique furniture.

My uncle was not on good terms with the whole family, except with me. So he wanted to give his property to me, which I have refused unless he allows me to throw his garbage out. I planned then to sell the dump for the price of the land and give the money to my nephew, to compensate him a bit the shitty start of life his good-for-nothing father has caused him.

It was difficult to find a company willing to even touch that mess, and when we found one, it took over a month and cost his whole life savings (nearly 30.000,-€). Unfortunately, he died before the works were finished. So I secured the door, barred the windows and the property hung in the limbo of inheritance legalities ever since. My uncle was childless and did not write a testament, therefore his siblings were his inheritors. And, as I expected, my uncles and aunt were not exactly cooperative.

Not that they wanted money – I would be OK with that, I did not want anything in the first place, not for myself. But they knew it would be cheeky to ask for money after they multiple times said they want nothing to do with their brother when he was alive and sick and in need of help. They just were uncooperative and deliberately obtuse, so the whole legal process took almost two years. Last month it was finally over, with my father now being the sole owner of the property. We already have a buyer, for a good price, so hopefully, before the year’s end, it will be over.

During the two years, people broke into the house – door were kicked in, all windows were broken – and stripped it of nearly everything of even modicum of value that was still left there. Someone even tried and failed to steal a huge central heating oven, but it was evidently too heavy. Nevertheless, there were still some things that I want to take before we sell it all.

An old broken wooden cross.

One of those things is an old, broken massive wooden cross. My uncle was a fervent catholic and he worked as a sexton in the local church for decades. He probably scrounged this either to repair it or just as junk. But it is good, old, seasoned oak. The big beam is rotten a bit, but it can still be mostly salvaged enough for a plethora of knife handles, or for vice jaws or something.

In the cellar was a huge pile of fire bricks. I am a bit surprised that those were not stolen – they cost 2,-€ each and they are thus more valuable than the huge heating oven. And they would be less work to take. Possibly the scavengers did not recognize what they are and thought those are ordinary building bricks – I do in fact know that one such person who illegally broke into the house mistook them for ordinary bricks.

I am not sure whether I will be able to make something out of them, but I wanted to build a wood-fired ceramic kiln for a long time, and these bricks were enough for just that. But maybe they will just stay in their new place until my heirs have to clean them away.

Another thing(s) I wanted to take – of limited value to anyone but me – were the lilac and elderberry bushes that have overgrown the garden. Lilac wood is extremely hard and durable, extremely rare and extremely beautiful – the heartwood is lilac and the sapwood creamy-white. Elderberry wood is not very durable, but it too is hard, reasonably beautiful and difficult to get in larger pieces. The new owner will fell most of the trees anyway, and they were in bad condition since my uncle did not care for the garden at all, so I need not feel guilty for cutting them down.

So this weekend my nephew – the future recipient of a big pile of money – came by and he helped me to move all those fire bricks, fell most of the lilacs and elderberries, and stack it all behind my workshop. I took even some thin lilac twigs, I think I can do something out of them, and if not, my house has a wood-burning stove.

Tomorrow I have to take a can of paint and slather it over all the cuts, otherwise the wood will dry too quickly and crack too much.

A pile of firebricks and a pile of wood.

My hands are a lot better. The bones ceased to hurt completely, but some ligaments around the pointer finger are still probably strained and begin to hurt after some works, especially after writing – so there alas still won’t be too much writing from me for an undetermined time. I think I will have to actually fixate these fingers for prolonged time, otherwise they just won’t heal.

The Art of Book Design: The Now-A-Days Fairy Book

Anna Alice Chapin. Illustrated by Jessie Wilcox Smith. The Now-A-Days Fairy Book. New York, Dodd Mead Company, 1911.

The fairy book this week is a short one with only 2 illustrations, but the story is charming and the artwork is sweet. I’m in love with the picture of the teddy bears, but the monkey is pretty cute, too. Enjoy.

The Now-A-Days Fairy Book, page 38.

The Now-A-Days Fairy Book, page 68.

Holidays: Sagrada Familia: I’m Sorry, I Broke It

Here’s the last pics from our night out. After that, Instead of walking back the short way to the train station we got off, the family voted to walk to the Plaza Catalunya and we got a bit lost on the way. We managed to catch the last train home which was kind of strange because you’d think that trains from the capital to the bigger cities around it would run through the night, especially on a Saturday, but shortly after midnight the train service ceases for the night. On that train I had one of the more frightening experiences. A young dude was standing in the aisle and suddenly took out a dagger style knife. I didn’t say a word, especially not to the tired kids and extra especially not to the dude so I wouldn’t catch his attention. He started “stabbing” the side of the train and I started to make plans in case of emergency, like putting my camera rucksack in front of my body and shifting my position to cover the kids.

Thankfully he then used his knife to cut off the top of a plastic bottle, took out some cheap wodka and lemonade and got even more drunk than he was before.

OK, back to the Sagrada Familia. I have no clue what happened here. I guess the light and the structure and the 2D nature of photography are playing a trick, because it definitely didn’t look like this, or I would have noticed.

©Giliell, all rights reserved Looking quite chill. A day of visitors and works done.

©Giliell, all rights reserved. Maybe a bit tipsy.

©Giliell, all rights reserved. The angle of the cranes is worrying me.

©Giliell, all rights reserved Ok, looks like I didn’t accidentally walk of out a Mexican restaurant in Barcelona and ended up in Pisa.

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©Giliell, all rights reserved. Go home, you’re drunk.