Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Working 9 to 5

In Barcelona children go to school from 9:30 to 5:00. At first I thought this was just Axel's school but one look at the 9:15 metro and sidewalks tells me that this is the schedule for most schools: the young people in Barcelona have backpacks on and are going places.

The schoolchild, in his native habitat, reticent for Mom to be taking photos.

Lunch at Axel's school is from 12:00-2:00, where they have a multi-course meal with dining etiquette and decorum strictly enforced. It brings to mind that time in Belgium when a 10 year-old Leah attempted to eat a french fry with her hand and had said hand lightly smacked (though I can report that, despite strict treatment, she did like those lunches).  Let's just say Axel is dining with a knife and fork at lunchtime these days.

After the leisurely meal Axel can choose to participate in a variety of activities.  Afterall, they do have 2 whole hours. Yoga, Drums, Violin, Cinematography, Coding/Robotics/Drones are all on tap. Another option is to bring your child home at lunch, which is traditional, but we are leaving Axel there for the cultural experience.

In the US, children are too rushed at mealtime. Last year Axel and his friends developed a special springy/skip-like walk in order to beat everyone to the front of the lunch line without breaking the "no running" rule. I am sad to think of all the times my children spent their most of their 25-35 minute lunch waiting in line, only to have to wolf down the food and miss any chance at recess. And as for decorum, I used to volunteer at Leah's school during lunch and it was so loud in the cafeteria that one of the teachers actually wore earplugs.

As for lunch hour for Jon and I, well, it has been happening around dinnertime these days because our jobs are in time zones 8-9 hours behind us.  We are definitely not working 9 to 5.  I am lucky because several of my co-workers are early birds anyway so I can work 12-9.  Jon, on the other hand, has the kind of managers that like to schedule 5pm activities, meaning Jon has become quite the night owl.  We may need to implement siesta.

Barcelona at 2am is still quite a happening place.  I can hear them out there.  And if you are jet-lagged and up at 6am, half the people on the street seem to be still awake from the night before.  I have yet to go out for one of those 11pm Spanish meals (actually missed one in Andorra where Jon and Axel were out eating from 10 until midnight).  Maybe soon.  Tonight it is dinner at home, at, um, lunchtime.

Guess what I am making:

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Leah of the House Baker, First of Her Name, the Un-Sunburnt, Queen of the Peacocks, Kayaker of the Adriatic Sea

Did you know that the King's Landing footage in Game of Thrones is shot in Dubrovnik, Croatia?  I did not until Leah visited there last week.  Here she is, having seized control of the Iron Throne.

The happy travelers.

Leah sent me lots of pictures of her out and about.  

Love, love, love!  Keep 'em coming Leah!

They kayaked around the island of Lokrum, which served as the scene location for Qarth in season 2 of Game of Thrones.  Leah wrote, "there were all these ruins and an old monastery (not still in operation). And it's said that monks at that monastery cursed Napoleon."

She also said, "there were all these wild peacocks but they were not afraid of people at all and just wandered around and would come right up to you."

She continued, "and there were babies!  Like, baby peacocks."  Can you see the two babies above? She also reported that the island is now a wildlife reserve and people are not allowed on the island after dark without special permission.

Back on the streets of Dubrovnik, Leah found some more cats for me.

Croatian cats like walking on top of walls as much as any other cat.

They also like to cat nap.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Today Corfu, Tomorrow Croatia

It is 10:30 pm in California and that means it is 8:30 am in Corfu.  Leah, Pepper, and Michael will be leaving Greece today, on their way to Dubrovnik, Croatia.

Earlier this week they took The Kalypso Star on a trip around part of the island.  The Trojan/Dolphin logo, along with the blue and white motif seems exceptionally Greek.  The boat has a glass bottom and they were able to look down to see fish as well as look out at the old fortress.  The old fortress has its roots in the Byzantine era with earliest structures dating back to 6th century AD.

Here is Leah joining the fray of a maritime statue in front of the New Fortress, new fortifications having been put in by the Venetians starting in the relatively recent 1500s AD.

They also rented a paddleboat and took these pictures looking back at the island.

The cliffs of Corfu and the clear waters.

Corfu from a distance.

Requisite cat picture.  Leah reports that this cat came and sat with them last night as they ate dinner.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Greek Breakfast and the Cats of Corfu

Grecian cat enjoying a cushion.

When I travel I always love to take pictures of the cats.  Yeah, I know, it is probably not good news that kitties are running amok all over the world... but they are just so cute.  When Jon and I were married in Puerto Vallarta I remember visiting a restaurant on what I will forever call Cat Island (its real name is Isla Cuale).  Jon offered a piece of fish to this very charming kitty and, by the time the waiter returned, we were surrounded by about 15 cats.  The waiter gave us an exasperated look.  

On the good news front, last year we returned to Cat Island and found a vet clinic had been established.  On that very day they were spaying/neutering kitties en masse.  While the tables of groggy post-surgical cats in the open air was very strange, the progress for the kitties of the Rio Cuale was heartening.  But, I am off-subject. I did not come here to write about Cat Island. I came here to write about a much larger island, an island that I have never been to.

Leah, along with her friends Pepper and Michael, have set off on an 86 day tour of Europe and are currently on Corfu Island in Greece.  I, playing the eager mom and armchair traveler, have been hungry for pictures and stories.  Leah has indulged me by describing some of the food and drink as well as sending, you guessed it, cat pictures.

On the dining front, we covered breakfast.  Leah let me know that Corfu breakfast places seem to open around 10 am and include, "just regular breakfast stuff."  She did also say that, "yesterday we had these little round pastries stuffed with sweet or savory stuff."  Yum.  This morning she had a gyro for breakfast.  It is astounding the tiny details that will fascinate a mother.

Leah also posted a pic of the Kumquat Liqueur, which she reports is a specialty on Corfu. The picture (see bottom of this post) makes me think we have started a new generation of booze pics on the balcony, a tradition began by my father, Frank Borden.

I would like to write a bunch more about Corfu but I will need to squeeze more info out of the youngsters first.  Follow their blog at

Cool tiles are a Corfu kitty's friend. Also, this kitty would be a good subject for this artist.

These kitties like to lounge on the table legs.

Alley cats loafing about as another joins the fray.

The specialty booze of Corfu.  Kumquat martinis anyone?  I keep asking if Leah has tried Ouzo yet but have not received a response.  Yamas!

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

"Work" Trips

Every three months my employer brings me to Colorado to hang out with my team of fellow software geeks.  While blogging about a work trip may seem strange, I really want to share what goes on out here with my friends and family.  

A couple of years ago I started staying at this place, this magical lovely place.  A slice of the UK, Thee Hilltop Inn and Burns Pub is nestled in the wild grasses of an office park in Broomfield, Colorado (of all places!).

The rooms have real keys, the barkeeps - hi Ron and JT - dress nattily with vests and hats, and the food is fresh, scratch, simply prepared.  It is some of the best pub fare I have had anywhere.

This Irish Stew with soda bread was the last thing I ate here.

As you can see it was kind of good.  

But besides the food...

The location is really nice, this is a picture of hole one at a disc golf course, about a mile's walk.  The walk through the office park consisted of 50% overland grassy fields and wooded acreage with bunnies and prairie dogs and the other 50% was pleasant sidewalk.  I probably never would have guessed it was so walkable but I am trying a Lyft-only trip this time (no rental car) so I am getting creative on the outings.

My score.  I stopped tracking putts after hole 11, though... it was distracting.  Full disclosure to those familiar with Interlocken East Park Disc Golf Course (hi Jon) I played 15 and 16 in the short tees.

A bunny on the walk back.

Me, on my overland route returning to the inn.

Back to my room.  Did I mention all the rooms have names?

My view of the heath from the window of Blarney.  Am I really in office park land in Broomfield?  I feel transported.

A huge draw for me here is also the whisky.  Above is Mr. Ron Nadel setting me up on a flight. I think it was a sherry cask flight but this is a file photo from January so I cannot remember. I am only a whisky novice but it is obvious that Burns' whisky selection is incredible.

Besides hosting a classical music and opera show on KGNU, Ron Nadel also hosts whisky appreciation nights on Thursdays.  Here is a picture of Ron talking to us about Lowlands Scotch last January.  Tomorrow we are are visiting the Kilchoman Distillery remotely from the basement of the pub.  Maybe I will finally start to get it with the peaty scotches.  It seems Kilchoman is a favorite among people who know what they are talking about.

The proprietor Chris Odde (pictured here enjoying the Lowlands tasting) and his very-soon-to-be-bride Brittany are friendly and welcoming.  "Enter as a stranger, leave as a friend" is posted in the restaurant and they really live up to that.  I am grateful.

My friend Jodi from work cannot make the whisky tasting this time because she is recovering from surgery, but we will be thinking of you Jodi.

And now I have got to stop writing this and go enjoy the #1 best thing about this place, the people.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Somewhere Between La Paz and San Juan de la Costa

We did not go to San Juan de la Costa but I mention it in the title because it means Saint Jon of the Coast, which amuses me.  Our own beneficent Jon did stop in San Juan de la Costa on a bike ride the other day.  On that ride he spied some beaches that looked nice and was thoughtful enough to suggest we drive to one.

The road out of town.

Our little passenger.

Front seat selfie.  Serious.

The road gets prettier and the Sea of Cortez pops into view. In La Paz we are on a bay which is not quite the open sea.

Road pinto. Baby donkey!.

Hiking down from where we parked.

Actual waves- we do not see many waves on the bay of La Paz.

Built in seating.

Nice caves.

Vino tinto in the picnic basket- a Carmenere from Chile.  A clever bartender recently told me that Chileans had asked the French for some Merlot vines and were given Carmenere instead.  They made the best of it. I like it. Tangy and dry.

Amazing shells all over the beach.

We hiked down-beach crossing somewhat narrow passages given the tide.  It was worth it when Jon found this notch.

The water here in January is just fine for us polar bear types. Photo credit Jon.

There was an under crossing for rain water below the road.  Photo credit Axel.