Tuesday, June 24, 2008

One more thing about Madrid

I forgot to mention the most exciting thing about our trip! So, first a little background. Two days before we left for Madrid we were browsing late night TV and ended up watching one of those typical shows on the Discovery Channel or TLC or something called "Giants." It was about the world's tallest living people. Anyway, it was less than thrilling, as you can probably imagine, but often we are suckers for those kind of shows. You know, there's just something about watching a show about people who have 12 kids, or are 2 feet tall, or whatever. So anyway, we watched the show. Fast forward a few days to a souvenir shop. We looked up (literally) and there, standing in the next aisle of a crappy souvenir shop in Madrid, is the world's tallest woman! Well, to be completely honest, it turns out she was the world's 2nd tallest woman, but whatever. It was truly a thrill. No, we didn't talk to her or tell her we had seen her on tv the week before. I figure she gets a lot of that already, and maybe she just wanted to enjoy the crappy souvenir shop without people telling her how tall she was. She probably already knew. So, as much as I would have liked to have had my picture taken with Sandy Allen (that's her name), I decided I would have to do without. Here is a substitute picture of her from the web that is almost as good.


We got bees! Aaron went to a two day course on beekeeping at Homestead Heritage in Elm Mott, TX, which is just north of Waco to learn all about bees. It was apparently a really incredible class, because now not a day goes by that I don't get to hear a new exciting fact about the wonderful and fascinating life of a honeybee. Did you know that there is only one queen in each hive and it costs $20 just to buy that one bee? Talk about reverse gender discrimination! There are really too many fun facts to regurgitate here, but just so you know, if you ever want to know anything about bees, Aaron is now the one to ask. Oh, he dove in head first. Not only does he have a specially-made wooden "hive," but he also has a "smoker," a book all about bees, and of course the full white suit, hood, and gloves. It makes me giggle everytime he puts on the suit because he looks absolutely ridiculous. It doesn't help matters that the suit is completely white and about 3 sizes too small.

Can you believe that they actually send bees in the mail? Crazy, I thought. But it's true. We got a call from a very anxious sounding postal worker at the Venus Post Office saying that our bees had arrived and that our mail lady was allergic to bees so she was not willing to deliver them. All of the postal employees were very relieved when we came to take the bees off their hands.
At first I was not very excited about having a bunch of bees at my house, but after a few days they stopped buzzing around so much and pretty much do their own thing. And neither of us have gotten stung yet, knock on wood. But Mabel got stung on her nose, and it turns out she's allergic. That led to a bit of drama, but the epi pen came to the rescue and all is well. Hopefully she learned that it's not a great idea to eat bees, but I'm not counting on it. If she knows what's best for her she'll stay away from that $20 queen!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Madrid, cont.

So, to continue...

Madrid was absolutely lovely and we had a great time, as you can see by this disturbingly close self-portrait. The first day we were there, we decided to get some breakfast once we had scouted out our hotel, which, by the way, was really fantastic and not too expensive (NH Breton). Anyway, so we venture out for breakfast, and Aaron decides he is going to try out his Spanish at the first cafe we find. So he goes in and says, "Quiero desayuno," which means "I want breakfast." But, instead of saying "days-ah-yoo-no," he says what sounds like "dee-ehs-ee-ahn-no," which, to the cafe owner, sounds like what translates as "10 years." Needless to say, the guy thought Aaron was absolutely insane, as he repeated over and over "I want 10 years, I want 10 years." Umm...awkward. We eventually ended up pointed to a croissant and decided that it would have to do since our language skills were so lacking. Here is a picture of Aaron the next day pointing to a sign for breakfast, which ended up working much better:

The rest of the trip was pretty typical. It was nice to only go to Madrid, because we felt like we could relax and see things as we felt like seeing them, rather than rushing around all over the place like crazy people trying to fit everything in. Aaron's favorite part of the trip was a side venture to El Escorial, a monastary about an hour's train trip from Madrid.

My favorite part of the trip was sitting on my rear at a sidewalk cafe drinking a pitcher of sangria, but I guess that's how we're different.

The whole reason we ended up in Madrid was because I was presenting some of my research at the International Psycho-Oncology Society's annual meeting, which was at the Feria Madrid, a very impressive conference center with some really creepy bears.

Sunday, June 22, 2008


We just got back from spending a week in Madrid, which was mostly fantastic. It is a beautiful, vibrant city with lots to see and do. It was really nice to spend the whole week in Madrid, because we weren't worried about racing around trying to see everything every day, and instead, got to take our time and enjoy the sangria.

Here is the amazing Real Palace and Gardens (postcard quality pic, no?):

The actual process of traveling (dealing with airport, airlines, and general incompetencies that go along with transporting one's body across large bodies of water) is actual one of our very least favorite things to do in life. We just seem to have really bad luck every time we go anywhere. For example, years ago on our honeymoon when we flew from Detroit to Maui we got stuck in a snowstorm, lost our seats on the plane, flew for 9 hours in an airline with no functioning restroom, and were without luggage for 2 days in Maui. Sweaters and 85 degree weather are not a great mix. Or there was the time last spring when we were on our way to Virginia for my sister's graduation and our car broke down on the way to the airport, which led to two missed flights, a six hour drive from North Carolina to Virginia, and a night in a frightenly Bates-like "hotel" in Appalachia. Needless to say, our guard is always up when we venture out on an adventure that involves flying. The flight to Madrid was okay, though overnighters in coach are never really okay, if we're being honest. Of course, Aaron's little movie screen was the only one broken on the whole plane, so that made him a bit more miserable than would have normally been the case. Here is Aaron riding on the subway after we had just arrived in Madrid and were navigating the Spanish metro to try to find our hotel:

He's looking a bit bleary-eyed, no?

More later...