The Educated Cat / El Gato Educado

La versión español está después de la versión inglés.

TODAY, 1 JULY, is the eighth birthday of Moose and Dudo. They were born 11 days before we arrived in Spain and taken to a shelter along with their mother and three littermates. The littermates were tabbys and were adopted quickly, while Dudo and Moose remained at the shelter for 10 more months until I saw a video online and told San Geraldo they were the ones. They spoke only Spanish at the time, but are now fluent in English, as well. And Dudo has completed a course in surveillance at the National Intelligence Centre (if we can believe him). I’m so glad they waited for us. We got the two smart cats in that litter.

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HOY, 1 DE JULIO, es el octavo cumpleaños de Moose y Dudo. Nacieron 11 días antes de que llegáramos a España y fueron llevados a un refugio junto con su madre y tres compañeras de camada. Las compañeras de la camada eran gatas atigradas y fueron adoptadas rápidamente, mientras que Dudo y Moose permanecieron en el refugio durante 10 meses más hasta que vi un video en línea y le dije a San Geraldo que ellos fueron para nosotros. En ese momento solo hablaban español, pero ahora también dominan el inglés. Y Dudo ha completado un curso bilingüe en vigilancia espía del Centro Nacional de Inteligencia (si podemos creerlo). Estoy muy contento de que nos hayan esperado. Tenemos a los gatos más inteligentes en esa camada.

Reading and discussing San Geraldo’s books — entirely in English.
Leyendo y discutiendo los libros de San Geraldo — íntegramente en inglés.
Dudo detects a bug.
Dudo detecta un bicho.
Apparently, we have to pay for the advanced spy class if we want him to know what to do once it’s detected.
Aparentemente, tenemos que pagar por la clase de espía avanzada si queremos que sepa qué hacer después de que se detecte.

Macawfee / Café Guacamayo Azul

WHILE WAITING FOR our favorite chiringuito, closed for winter break, to reopen across the street in February, and after trying a few other local places, we’ve been going to another nearby café we used to frequent. The other morning, a man came in with his pet macaw. Sweet bird, but I have a feeling his presence there would not meet health code. Besides, the entire scene broke my heart a little. I’ve now written off a few cafés — bad coffee, bad service, English owners with no respect for Spaniards … or for their employees. Maybe it’s time to buy a coffee maker. But that would mean I might have to “cook.”

MIENTRAS ESPERÁBAMOS QUE nuestro chiringuito favorito, cerrado por las vacaciones de invierno, volviera a abrir en febrero, y después de probar algunos otros lugares locales, fuimos a otro café cercano que solíamos frecuentar. La otra mañana, un hombre entró con su guacamaya mascota. Dulce ave, pero tengo la sensación de que su presencia allí no cumpliría las normas sanitarias. Además, toda la escena rompió mi corazón un poco. Ahora hay algunos cafés que ya no voy a visitar: café malo, mal servicio, propietarios ingleses sin respeto por los españoles … o por sus empleados. Tal vez es hora de comprar una cafetera. Pero eso significaría que podría tener que “cocinar.”

AFTER HE GNAWED AT THE BASKET AND SUGAR PACKETS.
DESPUÉS DE MASTICAR LA CANASTA Y LOS PAQUETES DE AZÚCAR.
AFTER HIS TAIL BRUSHED ACROSS THE COMMUNAL BUTTER PLATE.
DESPUÉS DE QUE SU COLA ROZÓ EL PLATO DE MANTEQUILLA COMÚN.
BEFORE THE WAITER BECAME UNCOMFORTABLE, AND THE BIRD FLEW OUT THE DOOR AND WAS CHASED DOWN THE STREET.
ANTES DE QUE EL CAMARERO SE SINTIERA INCÓMODO, Y EL AVE VOLVÓ POR LA PUERTA Y FUE ATRAPADO EN UN PARQUE.
LEFT ALONE WHILE HIS OWNER WENT OUT FOR A SMOKE.
SE QUEDÓ SOLO MIENTRAS SU DUEÑO SALÍA A FUMAR.
AT LEAST HE DIDN’T POOP ON THE COUNTER.
AL MENOS NO HIZO CACA EN LA ENCIMERA.

Speaking the Language

I’m immersed in Rosetta Stone Spanish for Spain.  I studied Spanish for 7 years starting when I was 12.  You’d think I’d be passably fluent, but it’s been a really long time since I’ve used it beyond a very superficial level.

I was in Spain on business about four years ago.  During that trip I spent an hour in a taxi with a driver who spoke no English.  We spent the hour in conversation… in Spanish.  At the end of the hour, the cab driver told me I did really well.  I said, like a 2-year-old.  He said, no, 5.  Trust me, he was being extremely kind.  After completing Level 1 (of 5) of Rosetta Stone, I feel like I now speak and comprehend Spanish like an at times slow and at times gifted 2-year-old.

I look forward to fluency.  I’m not very patient.  I’m no perfectionist.  I’m quite good at slapping something together and saying, “That’ll do.”  But I don’t like not being able to do something perfectly immediately.  The big difference between me and a perfectionist–in those situations when I can’t immediately do something perfectly–is that I might just throw in the towel.

But I love languages and I do pick them up quickly (I hear them as music in my head).  So, although I’ll get frustrated with my lack of fluency I won’t stop working at it.

Jerry speaks Russian.  We don’t expect that to come in very handy in Spain.  So, he’s counting on me to be translator (everything is relative) when we visit Andalucia in January.  Jerry’s sister and her husband rented an apartment in Nerja on the Costa del Sol last summer.  One day when they were out for their regular morning stroll, they were greeted by the owner of the local grocery.  As they walked by, she waved and said, “Buenos dias!”  Our brother-in-law waved back and said, “Aloha!”  I don’t think he’s going to be of much help.

Once we move in May, we’ll both immediately enroll in language immersion programs.

In the meantime, we are also trying to understand everything (well, a lot) about Spanish history and culture.  Jerry is the academic in this household.  He can get himself lost in any, dry, non-fiction tome.  And he can then quote information and statistics for years after.  I barely got through one academic hard-cover on Spain and I returned two others to Jerry after the first chapter.

I keep hoping to find a historical novel to give me all I need to know in a format like Michener’s “Hawaii.”  Michener did actually produce one book on Spain. Unfortunately, it was a work of NON-fiction.  In the meantime, I’m reading every travel guide and have just found a book “The New Spaniards” that holds my attention.  Surfing the web provides an endless source of info in as small or as large a bite as I’m interested in at any given time.

So, now it’s off to Peet’s for a newspaper and a cup of coffee.