A Maze and The Creepy Women of Torrelavega

July 09, 2017 By: erik Category: Art, Family, Offspring, Photos, Spain, Travel 71 views

Torrelavega SaturdayAfter 12.5 years of living in Cantabria, I must ashamedly admit that today was the first time that I visited Cantabria’s second city, Torrelavega. It was on a brief, last minute, detour after visiting another local attraction, the Villapresente Labyrinth, a pine hedge maze that has gained touristic significance of late. More to distract the kids for 30 minutes than for strategery, I had figured out how to download an overhead map of the labyrinth, invert the photo, so that the paths were white, and printed out two copies to give the kids.

Nora figured the way in to the center by herself, but my a-mazing abilities were required to find the way to the exit. She then drew over the pencil in colored marker, which turned out to be helpful.
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The Cleaves – Live in Colindres, Spain

July 07, 2017 By: erik Category: Colindres, Music 250 views

The Cleaves in ColindresI met Becky about three years ago. One of the families that has a son in my daughter’s grade has both the resources and wherewithal to hire English speaking au pairs, young women (usually) that are like foreign nannies. Becky was the third au pair of theirs that I met. I always made a point of introducing myself to them, if only to give them a brief respite from the barrage of Spanish. Some, like Becky, knew quite a bit of Spanish already, and others came with nothing.

The school year was almost over when I first learned that Becky played the violin. I didn’t think much more of it. For some reason that is beyond me, she decided to spend yet another year of her vital youth in small town Spain, and she came back for a second school year.
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Preschooler Parsing Spanish

July 06, 2017 By: erik Category: Family, Offspring, Spanish 71 views

Colindres Town Hall

One of the hardest parts of learning a foreign language is learning to parse a string of sounds to determine where words stop and start. Whenever you hear a foreign language that you don’t know spoken, it sounds like one continuous stream of phonemes. When you hear a language you know spoken, the word breaks are obvious.

It has been fun watching my children learn my second language natively. I have the special insight into their minds in that they generally speak to me in English, but when they don’t have an English word, they will use the Spanish word, which I immediately translate for them before they complete the sentence. That’s what usually happens, but with both kids, there have been nouns that are always spoken in one of the two languages in our household. With my eldest, I think one was pañal (diaper/nappy), and with the youngest, another is biberon (baby bottle).

Two perfect examples of word parsing mistakes have happened in the past two days with my four-year-old, that I thought I’d share.

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The 17th Annual Laredo Beach Golf Tournament

May 20, 2017 By: erik Category: Beach, Golf 91 views

Laredo Golf Playa 2017Judging from my blog records, sometimes this tournament is usually held in May, but sometimes in late April or early June. Unlike some past years, this time we had fantastic weather. Even better than a perfectly sunny morning, we had a morning where it had rained for a few hours before we started, so even the normally soft sand, out of reach of the tide, was firm.

It is a nine-hole event, with a shotgun start. For you non-golfers out there, that means that everyone goes to their assigned hole, and then the tournament director, at the exact starting time, fires off an airhorn (obviously from the name, gunpowder was involved traditionally), and then we all begin. I was in one of three foursomes (nine holes = nine groups), but we never made those behind us wait, and those in front of us never made us wait, so it was ideal golf.
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Peter T. Brown – 9 of 9

May 08, 2017 By: erik Category: Family 69 views

Peter Brown

What follows is the final chapter of a serial essay written by my father, Paul Rasmussen, about his best friend, Peter Brown. Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8

I returned for a third visit to St. Paul after Peter and Tina separated. Peter was living in a small apartment. We went out at night and played frisbee golf, and we reminisced about old times. Bloodball. Accidentally getting into a pickup basketball game against varsity players at SIU. The sound made by Kentucky Derby horses as they raced past our spot on the rail in the infield. The decibel level at Indianapolis. The time Peter poured a gallon of cold milk on the back of his sunbathing girlfriend, and the look on her face. Potato Sausage soup made with Sauce Maurice. The time we played the same pinball machine for 18 hours on a dime. Eating oysters on Bourbon Street. The time we were camping out and a raccoon ran off with our whole loaf of bread. Corn.
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Peter T. Brown – 8 of 9

May 05, 2017 By: erik Category: Family 68 views

Peter Brown

What follows is a serial essay written by my father, Paul Rasmussen, about his best friend, Peter Brown. Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7

Sometime that fall Peter’s kidneys stopped working entirely, and he began dialysis. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays he lay in a recliner for six hours connected to a machine which filtered waste from his blood. For several hours afterwards he was exhausted. Despite the toll it took on his body, Peter remained upbeat. He had a single standard answer to the “How are you doing?” inquiry, which he stuck to for thirty years. “Can’t complain!” he would say cheerfully. Every time I heard him say that I thought to myself “Dude! If anybody has a right to complain it is you!”, but I never said a word.
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Peter T. Brown – 7 of 9

May 04, 2017 By: erik Category: Family 72 views

Peter Brown

What follows is a serial essay written by my father, Paul Rasmussen, about his best friend, Peter Brown. Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6

Sometime during my first week of employment I realized our plan would not work. The state facility which employed me was the natural place for Betsy to work as well. We were in a small town in East Tennessee, and it was 1973. She could not list my address on her application. I had naively thought we could pretend to be married, but I realized I could not lie to my boss. I called Betsy and convinced her to marry me at the courthouse in Maryville, just south of Knoxville. I took Mary with me to the hospital in order to get the blood tests necessary for the marriage license.
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Peter T. Brown – 6 of 9

May 02, 2017 By: erik Category: Family 79 views

Peter Brown

What follows is a serial essay written by my father, Paul Rasmussen, about his best friend, Peter Brown. Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5

Two jobs requiring Masters degrees in Behavior Modification came open in Greeneville, Tennessee, and Mary and I applied, and were selected to fill them. I rented a cute guest cottage in Greeneville, and Mary lived there with me until she found an apartment of her own. Somewhere along the way my friend Hoy stopped by for a prolonged visit, setting up his hammock near the guest house. I had talked the landlord into renting me the cottage by telling him I was engaged to be married, and was preparing the cottage for my bride. One Friday evening he asked to speak with me, and told me that it didn’t seem to be working out as I had said it would. I told him to give me just a little more time, as my bride would be joining me soon.
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Basque Tourism – San Sebastián Science Museum

May 01, 2017 By: erik Category: Offspring, Photos, Spain, Travel 73 views

Nora Plasma Globe GifWhen planning our Sunday with rain in the forecast, we brainstormed several ideas, including the San Sebastián Aquarium, but in the end we settled on the Eureka! Science Museum, or Eureka! Zientzia Museoa, in Basque. Having driven two hours east to San Sebastián, we had a slight head start on the also-eastbound rain storm. We decided to visit the beach and see a strange mangled-metal art piece jutting out of the rocks, aptly named el Peine del Viento (The Comb of the Wind).
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Peter T. Brown – 5 of 9

April 28, 2017 By: erik Category: Family 120 views

Peter Brown

What follows is a serial essay written by my father, Paul Rasmussen, about his best friend, Peter Brown. Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4

I-55 wasn’t complete, and we had to get off the Interstate in Mississippi. Peter was driving, and pointed out to me that a policeman had been following us for several miles. He carefully obeyed the speed limit, so we were both surprised when the cop turned on his lights and siren and pulled us over. When Peter asked why he had been pulled over, he was told that he had been driving “too close to the center line”. A bus driver, Peter had naturally kept his driver-side wheels consistently close to the middle line when driving carefully.
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