Here, There and Everywhere

Posts tagged ‘Barcelona’

Happy Family, Happy Cats

51WoCiuudlLThe Happy Cat’s Detective by Alex Mahon
Reviewed by Gabriel Constans

The Happy Cat’s Detective is a delightful story combing a budding romance, close family escapades, and trying to figure out why, and who, stole Mrs. Casanova’s cat, Fetish. The tale begins in Canada, but takes place primarily in the small town of Lleida, outside Barcelona, Spain.

Told in the first person, by Christina Solans Sentis, we hear about another volunteer veterinarian she meets in the forests of Canada, Alex. They fall for one another and he promises to visit her upon her return to Spain. Christina fails to inform her mother, or her mother’s friends, about Alex upon her return home. This fact eventually comes out, but none too soon.

It is the relationship between Christina, her mother (Irene), and her mother’s close friends since childhood (Laia and Ingrid) that steal the show. They all move in together in the country and start a cat sanctuary they call The Happy Cat’s Home. It isn’t long until Christina is asked to search for a missing cat (and get paid for it), that she becomes the books title.

I really enjoyed The Happy Cat’s Detective. The sense of familiarity between Christina and her mother, and between her mother and her friends, is heart-warming, funny, and authentic. Their joking around, memories, and shenanigans, make them seem much younger than their years. Nobody is perfect, yet they enjoy one another’s company and always have each other’s back.

Girl with the Crooked Smile

0988465620.01._PC_SCLZZZZZZZ_Girl with the Crooked Smile: Stuck in a Moment. . . and the Pearls of Wisdom That Pulled Her Through It
by Darah Zeledon
Reviewed by Gabriel Constans
New York Journal of Books

For writer, speaker, and “Warrior Mom of five” Darah Zeledon, life’s joys and calamities have been abundant and enlightening. Talk about making lemonade out of lemons, this woman has found a way to make fertilizer out of a truckload of shit.

Armed robbery, a suicide, complete financial ruin, an accident that almost took her life, and a brain tumor while pregnant with her fourth child are but stepping stones and mere folly for this matador of life.

There is no bull in this story, only honest and brutal reality with doses of humor and insight gushing from its depths like a glass of refreshing clear water to quench the thirst after travel through the desert.

Here is an example of what she says after being diagnosed with a brain tumor and previously being told she will either lose her baby (at five months in utero) or her own life, a neurosurgeon (who says he can save both) offers her some choices:

“Hmmm.” Darah writes. “What were my choices again? 1) High likelihood of facial paralysis and probable deafness on the left side, or 2) guaranteed left-sided deafness with a high probability of no droopy face, or 3) a degree of unconfirmed damage to either of the above-mentioned plus God knows what else. Wait a minute. What the hell am I doing—choosing toppings on a pizza?”

The book takes place in several locations (New York, Panama, Barcelona, and Florida) and hops from one situation to another, but it doesn’t seem choppy or discombobulated. Somehow, like the author’s thought process, it all makes sense.

Her “pearls of wisdom” at the end of each chapter aren’t poetic spiritual New Age bits of gibberish, but practical suggestions congruently arising from her experience. For example, at the end of the chapter about her brain tumor and all the chaos and decisions that entailed, she writes “Be true to yourself and resist peer pressure. Come clean about what you believe. Recognize blessings. Trust your instincts.”

Girl with the Crooked Smile is a real kicker. It has wit, cultural insight (Latin American, Jewish, Floridian), and a warmhearted embrace of life as it is—not as we wish it to be.

Darah Zeledón is a gifted storyteller equal parts psychologist, teacher, mother, philosopher, partner, and friend.

Read this review and others at New York Journal of Books.

Greatest Game on Earth

The English Premier League (EPL) started again last weekend and I must admit that it always hooks me. The MLS (Major League Soccer) is good (with my favorite team being the Seattle Sounders) and the WPS (Women’s Professional Soccer), but I always watch the EPL more than any other.

My favorite club team in the world is Barcelona, but most of their games are not televised in this area. National teams to which I’m drawn are the US (both the men and women), Ghana, Ireland, Mexico, Japan (men and women), Spain and Turkey.

Most fans claim that you have to have only 1 favorite team and stick with them through thick and thin to be considered a real fan. I beg to differ. I’m an avid fan of many. In the EPL, my favorite teams are Liverpool, Everton, Wigan and the Wolves. Two of those teams are from the same town and huge rivals (Liverpool and Everton). I enjoy watching Manchester United play, but always want them to lose.

If you’re a futbol fan, there is always a league, country and/or tournament to watch throughout the year, but right now, it is the EPL that will get most of my attention.

Barcelona Best In The World!

When it comes to futbol (soccer), there is only one team that comes to mind as the best in the world (at this time) and that is Barcelona FC. That’s only if you have a need to compare and all futbol fans must of course do so. Some are already claiming that is one of the best of all time and they may be right.

Here are 10 (of countless) reasons that Barcelona FC is presently the best team in the world.

1) The Players (every position)
2) The Coach
3) The Fans
4) The Back-Up Players
5) The Timing
6) The Style of Play
7) The Teams Love of the Game
8) The Culture & History of the Club
9) The Finances
10) The Players (every position)

So Far and Yet So Close

What a difference a few decades make. It seemed like just a few years ago, the only way family or friends connected with one another while traveling was by postcard or letter. The messages usually arrived 2-3 weeks after sending them, so you could have had a zillion things happen in the meantime or be back home by then. My parents must have worried quite a bit while I was gone to England and Ireland to visit hospices, back in the 70s.

Now, there is wi-fi, internet, cell phone, Skype and text messaging. Our youngest son Shona is presently in Paris “on our way to the Louvre” and is able to keep us up to date with their travels and even send photos. Of course, he’s not sharing “everything” with us, but quite a bit. The first night they were in Barcelona, his traveling companion Genna was sick. The day before they were to leave for Paris, Shona got sick. Luckily, the 3rd person on their adventure, Mariah, has been fine the entire trip, so far. Even though we worried, it was such a relief to be able to hear from him when he wasn’t feeling well and then finding out this morning that they are all doing great.

Other than the discovery of penicillin; Galileo’s confirmation that earth is not the center of the universe, but simply one of many planets; the invention of the telephone, solar energy, waste treatment and access to clean water; women’s liberation and human rights; the invention of the internet has got to be included in the list of world-changing developments.

Well, I’m going to move from this technological marvel of instant publishing called the blog and go see if there are any new messages from Shona on Facebook.

FC Barcelona – Fantastic !!!

Futbol Club Barcelona (FC Barcelona) did it again! They won the Champion’s league for the second time in 3 years! In one of the most difficult and highly respected tournaments of club futbol anywhere in the world, the best team in the world, pulled it off once more.

Not only did they FC Barcelona win the Champion’s League final, but they also won La Liga (Spanish League).

About half of FC Barcelona’s staring 11 were on the 2010 world cup winning Spanish national team. They have played together for many years now. Add the likes of one of the greatest players in history (Leonel Messi), Brazilian Pedro and Malian Keita and you have what many would call a dream team. Lionel Messi runs with the ball, as if it is stuck to his feet and changes direction and moves so fast, that he either dribbles through entire teams or gets fouled. Once he sees goal, he rarely misses. He scored over 50 goals this season alone!

Xavi Hernandez, who is the oldest player on the team (at 31) is the best midfielder presently playing anywhere. He completed over 91% of his passes during the championship game against Manchester United! FC Barcelona possessed the ball for over 70% of the game, giving few chances for their opponents to do anything.

You could write all day and night about the amazing attributes of this young FC Barcelona team, but one of my favorites is the fact that they do just that, they play as a team. They appreciate and acknowledge every players role and contributions and pass and control the ball as if they were simply tying their shoes or having lunch. Even though they have lots of stars, there is very little individual ego. They are indeed proud, but proud of themselves as a team. And they should be. They are and will be known as, one of the best teams to ever play the game.

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