Sunday, November 04, 2012

Hurricane Sandy, Oli our weather reporter, the heating went and so did Ivanka, horrid Halloween and other stories.

Sunday 4th November 2012

Hurricane Sandy, Oli our weather reporter, the heating went and so did Ivanka, horrid Halloween and other stories.

Olivia our very own weather reporter, here in Córdoba on Tuesday
Hi again this very wet Sunday morning in November,

I am sitting at my desk and it’s cold. The central heating broke down on Wednesday which also means no hot water.  Unfortunately it happened just before the All Saints’ Day bank holiday so the plumber won’t be coming till Monday.  It’s also raining outside as it has been most of the week.  

The weather has been in the news all week.  On Monday we heard of the threat of Hurricane Sandy making its way to the US East Coast after it had caused havoc in Cuba and Haiti.  Meanwhile as the inhabitants of New Jersey and New York were preparing for “the perfect storm” which was also dubbed as the “Frankenstorm” we had our own mini Sandy in Madrid where it rained non-stop all day long. Sandy even caused the US election campaign to go on hold whilst Barack Obama took charge of preparations which included evacuating many people and bringing public transport to a halt, including air traffic. He was very much visible throughout, possibly because he wanted to avoid a disaster similar to Hurricane Katrina but also maybe because his efforts would also pay off in more votes in next Tuesday’s presidential elections.  

The media reported extensively on Hurricane Sandy in the New York and New Jersey areas but almost forgot it had caused just as much devastation and deaths in the Caribbean area.  I suppose tragedy in that area is less newsworthy than in Manhattan, the famous Big Apple. As the East Coast was preparing for the worst, fake photographs like the one below appeared on social media.  It might be fake, but it’s a fantastic image.

A great fake photo of Hurricane Sandy that went viral on social media

I have a friend, Angel J, who lives in downtown New York and is a great photographer.  Here is a photo he posted just before Sandy made its awful appearance.  I actually followed the storm and its effect on Manhattan via his Twitter and Facebook postings.

NYC just before it was hit by Sandy

Sandy arrived at night, the biggest impact being on New Jersey but it also caused havoc in the surrounding areas.  Hospitals had to be evacuated as generators broke down, nearly a hundred houses burned in Queens, flooding blocked the “subway” and many homes, the death toll increased day by day and millions of people were without electricity. 

Hurricane Sandy just as it hit NYC

I was worried about our friends Angel and Rosa who live in a small town outside New Jersey but got an email later from Angel to say they that were ok but of course without electricity and that their street was full of fallen trees but nothing worse than that.  I was relieved for them.  When the storm left on its way to Canada but with its strength ebbed, the people of New York and New Jersey woke up to devastation.  However the Americans being the Americans, they will soon be back on their feet and order restored, unlike their poorer cousins in the Caribbean.  Wall Street closed for two days, the first time since 9/1, schools too closed and people had to charge the batteries on their mobile phones via special chargers set up in the street – I’m sure that didn’t happen in Haiti. Even the famous New York marathon was cancelled yesterday as it was supposed to start in Staten Island one of the worst affected areas by the storm.  Electricity is slowly being restored; affected people are being helped and finally the campaigning for the elections has been resumed.  It remains to be seen if Obama’s heroic involvement in the catastrophe will bring him more votes.  But that we will only know next week.

It rained all day on Monday and we had to cancel our walk with the three dogs and I kept thinking about the Carpenters’ song, Rainy days and Mondays always get me down.  However Monday was a good day at work for me.  On Monday the interview with my new boss in Expansión was published.  Expansión is Spain’s top business daily and the interview, luckily, was very positive.

The interview in Expansión on Monday

On Monday too we sent out a media alert to announce Yoigo would be commercializing Samsung’s new Galaxy S3 mini.  The news was we would be the first operator to launch the new phone, a lighter version of the very popular and expensive S3.  I think that’s the first time we have launched a terminal alone, quite a big feat as we are the smallest mobile network operator and a story like this puts us in the big picture, consolidating our strong market position in these crisis hit times.  

On Tuesday it was weather for ducks again.  Suzy’s car broke down twice and Eladio had to pick her up at the garage. That day Olivia was to be programme’s weather girl and was sent off to Córdoba on the earliest “AVE” high speed train as apparently the south of Spain was to be hit by severe thunderstorms.  However when she got there the sun was shining.  As it was still raining in Madrid I commented to her that she should have stayed here to report on the weather nearer home.  In any case the sky grew darker and she made an appearance at 11.35 (you can see the video here if you go to that time), standing on the old Roman bridge with the view of the Mezquita (Mosque) in the background.  I missed that live report as I had to go to the office but was able to see it later. The photo illustrating this post is of her with her TVE anorak on ready for her live appearance from that beautiful city, one of my favourites in Spain.

Olivia reporting live on the weather in Córdoba on Tuesday

On Wednesday it not only rained but also snowed in the mountains outside Madrid.  Olivia was a weather reporter again that day as she was sent off to Navacerrada, the ski resort outside Madrid, to report on the snow fall, the first this year.

Olivia reporting live on the snow in Navacerrada on Wednesday

We watched her at home with her new boyfriend Miguel and of course my Father.  Miguel later commented to Olivia how happy her appearance had made her grandfather, whereupon I asked him to let us know this week when they are in Valencia working together when she will be on the television.  Olivia doesn’t always let us know but when she does, her appearances make our day.  Next week, they will be working together for the first time, Olivia as the reporter and Miguel as her cameraman.  As my friend Amanda commented, it is quite glamorous to have a cameraman as a boyfriend.  

Wednesday was the day the central heating stopped working and it was also the day Ivanka announced suddenly she had to go to Bulgaria the very next day as her mother-in-law had been taken ill and was in hospital.  We later understood that her husband didn’t want to go on his own and sort of accused her of not wanting to look after his Mother.  I also understood that Ivanka didn’t want to lose her job.  She packed and left that very night but didn’t say a final goodbye so we thought she would be coming back.  However the next morning we realised she had completely cleared out her room not leaving any belongings at all as if she knew she wasn’t returning.  So I rang her just as she was leaving for the airport and asked her what her intentions were.  She said she would know more once she got to Sofia and would ring me on Saturday.  Well Saturday has passed and she hasn’t rung.  I have tried to contact her to no avail and can only presume that she has left for good.  This is a big blow for us as she looks after my Father very well, and of course the house too.  We have had no alternative but to look for someone else and between today and tomorrow we will be interviewing new candidates.  Meanwhile my trusted and beloved Ukranian cleaning lady, Zena, will be here tomorrow morning to clean.  I so look forward to that as no one cleans as well as dear Zena.

Wednesday of course was the last day of October and Halloween.  I hate Halloween as much as my girls love it.  In fact I think it is horrible and scary.  That is probably because I was not brought up to celebrate it but the girls were and I used to heave every year when I got instructions from their school about the Halloween disguises.  I might be a great party maker but am incapable of sewing or cutting out outfits.  The girls of course love it and prepare for it weeks in advance.  Miguel, Olivia’s boyfriend, was made to dress up too and I sort of suspect that he wasn’t brought up on the tradition either but just went along with Olivia’s plans to please her.  Later the girls sent me this ghastly photo of the two of them in this year’s outfits.

Olivia in blue and Suzy in black dressed up for Halloween on Wednesday night

Halloween this year will be remembered in Spain because of a tragedy that happened at a huge public party in Madrid for young people that night.  In the crush to get out or to get in, 2 girls died, another one died on arrival at the hospital and a fourth girl, aged just 17, died yesterday.  There is another girl fighting for her life as I write.  For me it was a horrid Halloween made even worse by the tragedy at the Madrid Arena building in the well known Casa de Campo. Thank goodness our girls returned to their beds safe and sound.

Thursday 1st November was a holiday.  It is a tradition in Spain to visit the cemetery and take flowers to the graves of loved ones who have passed away.  Actually the day for visiting the cemetery is officially 2nd November but more people go on the 1st as it as a national holiday.  This year was no exception for Eladio’s family and Pili, his sister and her husband Andrés kept us posted via whatsapp from Montrondo on the rainy occasion when they went to a memorial mass and put flowers on my father-in-law Antonio’s grave.

Pili and my mother-in-law Ernestina in Montrondo on 1st November
They went to put flowers on my father-in-law's grave as they do every year on 1st November

Friday being the day in between the bank holiday and the weekend was a non working day for most, including myself and Olivia.  We had a family lunch where I managed to destroy my home made croquettes and in the afternoon I went shopping with Susana to the new Gran Plaza 2 centre. I had no need for any new clothes but was tempted by some dark blue corduroy trousers, a long blue and grey striped jumper (what another striped jumper remarked Olivia!) and a red and blue checked lumberjack type shirt from H+M, all of which I wore that day and the next.  Since I was a child I have always wanted to immediately wear new clothing or shoes and the habit has not worn off. 

Later that evening, after tucking my Father into bed, Eladio and I went out to dinner to La Vaca Argentina, tempted to go there after having received an email invitation of a free bottle of Ribera del Duero wine. The dinner was superb and instead of falling immediately asleep when we got back, we became glued to an old Polish film about the life of Karol Wojtyła who became the late Pope John Paul II.  For the records it was called: “Karol: A man who became Pope”. We loved every moment of it even though we admitted it was immensely favourable to the charismatic Pole.  We both are suckers for films with a religious or World War II theme, obviously because of our own religious heritage and of course because of my obsession and now Eladio’s of people’s experiences in the war both my parents survived and which has made such an impact on me since childhood.

This film, the story of John Paul II was right up our street

Because of the long bank holiday weekend, yesterday Saturday felt like Sunday.  After a family lunch, Olivia and Miguel left for Valencia as I mentioned above.  The weather forecast there for today was 27ºC and they had plans to go swimming.  Miguel is a keen long distance swimmer and he talked of swimming some 4km today with Olivia near the Malvarrosa beach in the city.  And today Oli posted a photo of herself kitted up in a wet suit which was very impressive. 

Olivia in a wet suit in Valencia this morning

Whilst they talked of the beach I could only dream of a hot shower which I haven’t had since Wednesday.  So after lunch yesterday I drove to Suzy’s house to use her facilities and I must say her shower is fabulous with great pressure and an endless supply of extremely hot water.  Thanks Suzy, will probably be coming again tomorrow if the plumber doesn’t do his job!

Just as I got back José Antonio and Dolores arrived to pick up their mongrel Nuba who had been staying with us whilst they were away at a spa in Montanejos in the province of Castellón with Dolores’ family.  They came just in time for afternoon tea and biscuits which we had round the kitchen table with the dogs at our feet.  I think Nuba was sorry to leave after the company of our dogs and the garden and walks but will probably not have regretted going back as at home in Madrid she sleeps inside and not out in the cold like Norah and Elsa who wouldn’t let her into their wooden kennel.  She will also be glad to have her blanket back which Norah kept stealing from her.  She was a delight to have actually and didn’t cause any trouble at all.  Goodbye Nuba, until next time.

Little Nuba went yesterday

I have now come to the end of the tales of this week, the week of bad weather and no hot water or central heating and the week Ivanka left. Today Sunday it has been raining again and the only bright point was Suzy joining us for lunch. This afternoon we shall be interviewing two candidates to replace her and another one tomorrow morning.  Eladio posted an advertisement on internet on earlier and you can’t imagine how many calls I have received since.  We now have enough candidates to interview and thankfully Eladio has removed the advert. Let’s hope we can find a good replacement for Ivanka. 

So my friends, that’s it for this week.  I wish you all the best and will sign off now and publish this before I have to rush off and pick up the Moroccan lady who is coming for the interview.  You might be interested to know she warned me that she wears a scarf around her head.  As you can imagine I told her that was no problem at all, so long as she didn’t cover her eyes which she assured me she didn’t.  She then explained that it worried some people to which I replied we are pretty liberal people and respect religion. 

And on that note, I leave you till next week.

Cheers Masha

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