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When I posted my angry music recommendation last week, I alluded to feeling grumpy about a number of things that weren’t moving forward at the pace which I would like. And today I’ve decided to be brave (as promised) and tell you about one of them…

You see, I have decided I want to start dating again. Having spent a lot of time coming to know myself better, and living the life I really want, I think what I have to offer is better than ever. Rubi V.2 is wise, kind, and patient — in addition to the good stuff that Rubi V.1 had going for her, among which, being a fine cook, a smarty-pants, and a lot of fun. Hell, I’m a catch.

And yet my experiences since the beginning of the year, when I set out to meet some guys to date, have been a mixed bag at best. In the interest of expediency, I put an honest profile and a decent photo up on an online site. (Of course I know that the world of online dating is fraught with peril, but I’m being brave, remember?) The first couple of days I was bombarded with winks and likes and “So-and-so wants to meet you.” I even got a few messages, though the majority were along the lines of, “You’re really a Buddhist? How weird.” or “What is it that you really want? Do you want sex? Because I want sex!” At the risk of making MamaRubi blush, yes, I want sex. I’d also like conversation, and the odd bit of hand-holding…

Eventually, a nice man contacted me, and was patient enough to keep messaging me even though I had the plague and couldn’t meet for a while. When we did get together, we had a nice, long talk — in fact, I couldn’t get a word in edgewise, which happens exactly never — but a shared liking for Baroque Spanish music was an unexpected bonus and he was willing to come to my neighborhood. We saw each other a total of three times, the conversation (monologue) lasting longer and longer at each meeting and then, poof. There he was, gone. Without so much as a thank you for letting him go on and on and on…

So I hid my profile on that site and tried somewhere different. Met a guy almost right away that was such a good match for me I might as well have ordered him from “Men by Mail.” Following a couple of weeks of messaging, we finally managed to meet up, and had what I thought was a lovely evening. After which he pretty much disappeared. (Yes, I’m starting to notice a pattern here.) But this is where it gets really odd… about a week later, he revisited my profile, and even “favorited” me. When I got in touch to ask if he’d like to give things another try, he replied was feeling a bit unnerved and that he’d like to wait a bit… Um, OK? Points to Rubi V.2 for also being unnerving?

Back to Site #1, where I unhid my profile, uploaded a couple more pictures, and sat back to see what would happen. As before, lots of winks, and likes, and so forth. No messages this time, though, not even the Hi-and-nothing-else sort that really makes a girl’s heart go pitter-patter. Nothing at all. I’ve written three messages myself, all to men who have “liked” my profile or told the site they wanted to meet me. Of course, I said more than Hi. I indicated that I’d read their profiles and was interested in meeting them. Resounding silence. Dudes, if a woman writes to tell you that your profile looks interesting, at least write back and say, “Thanks for writing. Although I’m not interesting in meeting you, I wish you all the best.” (Yes, this is what I have written when I get a message from someone I don’t want to connect with.) Generate a little good karma, if nothing else.

Still, Rubi is a firm believer in “no hay mal que por bien no venga” (nothing bad comes without bringing something good along with it). And the good thing that has come out of this decidedly less-than-satisfying series of events is that I have found a an online soul-sister, the pseudonymous Stella Grey. She writes a weekly column called “Mid Life Ex Wife” for the Guardian that gives me something like hope, when I’m not wincing in sympathy. Very worth a read, even for those of you who aren’t in the trenches.

Oh, and one more thing. Thank goodness for cats.


OK, maybe not in the Network sense, but I’m having a really angry day. The astrologically-minded among us might ascribe it to Mars in Gemini, but my take is that Rubi has been wanting some big changes in her life for months now, and they are just dragging along. (More on this in the next day or so.) Plus it’s election season and in Madrid that means yet another term for the f***king PP. Don’t get me started.

The good news is that I have a sure-fire cure for The Angries. I go back into the music library of my misspent youth and find some Angry Music (the 80s were REALLY good for Angry Music), crank it, and pogo somewhat arthritically around the living room.

So, despite its cat-scaring potential, here is today’s selection:

Feel free to pogo along.

Apologies for the lack of a post last Thursday — it was a thoroughly unpleasant week and by the time I got to the end of it, there wasn’t much I wanted to say that bore sharing. The following may still be less than “uplifting,” and at the same time, I want to say it.

The week before last, Miss Zouzou-Cat was ill with what looked like a simple case of gastroenteritis. After trying a few things on my own, I popped her into her carrier (OK, that’s a euphemism; if you have cats, you know what I mean.) and took her to the vet. He did the standard thing you do when you have a constipated cat (again, not going into details), gave her a couple of injections, and recommended she eat a prescription diet for the next few days. I was to return the following day (Sunday) for another round of injections.

On Sunday, after more shots and some unabashed cat worship (she IS very cute) he asked that I bring her back on Monday for another round of injections, reasoning (correctly, I believe) that going to oral antibiotics wasn’t a good idea just yet.

Monday, another visit, with the added delight of drawing blood for a full work-up. Results to follow in a few hours. He called at the end of the day. Not so good — one of her liver enzymes was sky-high and he suspected FIP (feline infectious peritonitis, read all about it here). We decided to do an additional test.

Things were going pretty well until Wednesday, when we needed to go back because she was constipated again. A bit of belly massage, a few more cans of the Rx food, and back home.

Thursday he called with the results of the second test, which confirmed his suspicions. Could I please come in to talk through her treatment options? No need to bring her with me. (Thank deities for small mercies.) Because she has the “dry” form of FIP, it’s possible to treat it as a chronic illness with diet and monthly injections of an immune-booster. He asked me to “do [him] a favor and not obsess about the diagnosis.” He has cat patients who have FIP and who are doing very well on the treatment. A couple of them are two years past diagnosis and still going strong.

OK. I’m not obsessing. I am of a Buddhist mind-set. Everything that lives, dies. The cat is 15 and has a very good life. We will carry on until the time when her life is less than what she deserves, and make a decision.

Saturday, back to the vet’s (con kitty) for the first of her monthly injections. I don’t know what was in it, but it made her hiss and hiss. Ow!

She has taken up residence under the bed, sleeping on top of a clothes-storage bag and coming out only to eat and use her box. I’m ready to join her.

In other news, it’s been warm and sunny for over a week now.

Many of you will be familiar with the aphorism that the definition of madness is doing the same thing time and again while expecting different results. I would like to amend that slightly to create a knitter’s version: the definition of madness is knowing that you aren’t getting gauge on a project where gauge matters, and carrying on anyway.


The beautiful Suvi Simola “Baby Cables…” pullover was going along nicely, with the body nearly finished, when I decided I’d measure it. I didn’t have a very good idea of how big it actually was because I haven’t been able to get my hands on a circular needle with a long — 80 cm — cable, despite having visited four different knitting shops. (This in the capital of a developed nation. And my friends here wonder at my willingness to mail order craft supplies from the U.K.!) The result was that I knew I had a ton of stitches, but they were so bunched up that I couldn’t really tell how big around the beast was.

So I measure it and discover that it’s 130 cm at the bust. My bust, if you’ll pardon the sharing moment, is 110 cm. Room for company!

It took me about half an hour to frog the sweater that had probably taken 20 hours to make, up to that point. The yarn is neatly wound into balls and back in my work bag. I don’t have the next smaller size needle. I don’t have time or the mental energy to do the rounds of all the knitting stores in Madrid just to not be able to buy one.

I think I need to have a lie-down. Someone please pass the smelling salts.


…even posting. Today’s high was 104F/40C, and tomorrow’s predicted high is 107F/42C. I’m bearing up, but the brain is definitely melted. Here are just a few highlights:

I was laboring away on a blouse this morning and realized after a series of fiddly steps to get the neckband on that I’d reversed it and made a sort of scary clown collar. It’s Liberty fabric, so I very carefully unpicked everything, and now it’s resting until I can calm down enough to try again.

Tomorrow, Mr. Pants and I are escaping to his ancestral homeland to stay cool, and I can’t figure out what to pack. If I follow my impulse, I may end up taking a blasted steamer trunk for a three-day weekend. And twelve pairs of shoes.

It took me about three times as long to get 5 pages of grammar exercise manuscript written as it usually does.

Happily, it’s going to start cooling off on Saturday, and by the time we get back from La Patria Querida, I’ll have lots of lovely photos and stories to share with y’all next week.

Hope you’re unmelted, wherever you are!

At least three times in recent weeks, I’ve read posts or articles (or comments thereon) stating that wearing sunscreen is either not necessary (if you’re Spanish — tell that to the milky-skinned blondes and redheads who are just as Spanish as their olive-skinned sisters!) or dangerous (carcinogens! Vitamin D deficiency!), and I’ve got my dander up.

For me, not wearing sunscreen is not an option. Plenty of us Rubi Family members — and yours truly — have gone under the knife to deal with skin cancers. Never, thank deities, melanoma, but plenty of other “fun.”

The very best sun protection is staying out of it, but that’s rarely an option. Next best is a hat, long sleeves, and leg-covering trousers or skirts. Oh, hats! I recently received as a gift a beautiful “Panama” hat (really made in Ecuador), but I tend not to wear hats in the city, even though I love hats and look pretty snazzy in them. I should probably rethink my position!

I take a two-level approach in the summer, which is when I’m out in the sun the most. On my face, neck, and décolletage, I use SPF 50, because that’s the part of me that gets regular exposure. On the rest of me, I use SPF 30. The EU has recently revised its sunscreen guidelines, so I know that the products I buy here will protect me from both UVA and UVB damage. If you live in the States, I urge you to spend a little more and look for LaRoche Posay’s sunscreens with Mexoryl SX. They protect much better than the ingredients commonly available, and nearly all dermatologists recommend them. (The FDA has only approved this highly-effective ingredient for this brand!) And don’t bother with anything over SPF 50. It doesn’t work any better, and it tends to lead people to take risks with the amount of sun they get.

I’m also concerned about Vitamin D deficiency, so I take supplements — 2000 IU a day — and if I know that I’m going to be outdoors for just 10 or 15 minutes, I skip the sunscreen on my arms and increase the daily dose that way. That’s all it takes. Ten minutes exposure of the “long bones” (i.e., arms and legs) will do it. Then cover up (see above).

If you are concerned about the ingredients in your sunscreen, and I think this is a legitimate concern, you can visit the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep page for a list of safe sunscreens, organized by category (makeup, moisturizer, beach/sport, and lip balm). They are also a source for lots of practical tips about sun protection in general.

ETA: Do not forget a pair of quality sunglasses that block both UVA and UVB, even if your eyes are brown. Sun exposure causes cataracts.

Rubi sez: Please do take sun protection seriously and make the best decision you can for your pocketbook, based on the most current science. And enjoy the sunny weather, of course!

Today the long stretch of holidays is officially over, and it’s back to work and school. That means that some of the university students who live in my neighborhood saw this weekend as their last chance to whoop it up for a while.

Saturday night, there was quite a ruckus upstairs, with furniture being dragged around to the accompaniment of shouting and laughter. It seemed that our loud, young, and inconsiderate neighbors were having a party. I finally took a sleeping pill at 1:00 AM and that was the last I heard until yesterday morning, when the ruckus had moved down to the lobby.

This time, it seemed that all of the older residents of the building had gathered and were having a lively (LOUD) discussion. It went on, and on, and on. I was trying to write, and it was making me nuts, but I kept at it until I couldn’t stand it anymore.

Finally, I got dressed and headed out to buy bread. The group in the lobby was still there, still talking. My across-the-hall neighbor (Sra. Shouty) was on the landing, telling another neighbor, “They were making a lot of noise upstairs, and at 3:30 a group of kids rang my doorbell by mistake. And then, at about 4:00 I heard a loud bang, but I wasn’t sure what it was.”

“What happened?” I asked here.

“That,” she said, pointing down.

Those are our nearly-new mailboxes on the floor. The brick area behind is where they used to live.

Even when I lived here in my 20s and was doing a fair bit of partying myself, I was astonished at the Spanish capacity for drunken mayhem. It seemed that each Monday morning there was a story in the news about some gruesome fatal traffic accident over the weekend. Nearly every time, a young person was involved, driving drunk.

The Spanish police have cracked down hard on drunken driving, and most Spanish drivers take the law very seriously. But there’s been less success in stopping “street” drinking, especially the odious custom of the “botellón,” where huge groups of kids get together in public squares, on beaches, or even in industrial parks, to drink. There are rapes, and fights, and fires.

The party upstairs this weekend probably wouldn’t qualify as a “botellón,” but the destruction in our lobby is as much an offshoot of this youth drinking culture as anything that happens outdoors. And it’s just as impossible to understand.

After a fairly un-thrilling weekend, I got up bright and early (for me), ready to start the work-week. I turned on the heat (because it’s cold — about 5C) and was greeted with a lot of ticking, then no ticking. And no heat.

I am of an investigative mind, so I turned the hot water tap on full blast and got… icy cold water. And still no ticking, no ignition.  I would have investigated more, but my landlords appear to be of the “we don’t need no stinking manual” type. For any of the appliances in the flat.

Called them and got, “The number you are trying to reach is either switched off or out of coverage.” Left a message. Two hours and counting, no reply.

Now, the inability to bathe wouldn’t phase me so much if I didn’t actually have to be someplace later where it would behoove me to look presentable. And smell good. Which equals shower, in my book.

But after some high-quality swearing in a couple of languages, it came to me. I’d just camp in the house. I heated up some water on the stove and had a “bird bath” plus full shampoo. All those years as a Girl Scout were not in vain. But still…

Image by Anne Taintor, sentiments shared by many

As in, “chain reactions” (if that’s actually chemistry, please bear with me — I’m uncaffeinated).

Making breakfast and waiting for the coffee to finish brewing in the “moka” pot, Rubi decides to use her cute new tray from IKEA, which is leaning against the backsplash behind the stove. She removes it, causing the plastic cutting board behind it to fall, knocking the full coffee pot over, and melting itself on the hot burner in the process.

Result: coffee on the counter, on the floor, in the drawers, and all over Rubi. Plus funky melted cutting board smell.

Upside: My reflexes are still pretty good — you should have seen me jump!

I have it by the liter/re today. The triumph of getting my iPhone to unlock and work on Vodafone has been replaced by the frustration of not being able, despite my serious tech chops, to get it to connect to the net except via wifi.

Add to that the fact that the wireless internet package I bought specifically so I could Skype in my jammies from home does not appear to have enough bandwidth… and my extreme burnout with the book I’m working on right now, when I still have three units to go… Well, you get a really grumpy Rubi.

I’m off to make some yogurt.

*Estar de mala leche = to be p*ssed off

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