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Observations on a New Life in Spain

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Thanksgiving in Barcelona 2014

16 January, 2015 (11:14) | Living in Europe | By: admin

Since living here in Barcelona these last 8 years, amongst all the numerous local holidays, feasts and “dias de puente” which I’ve so religiously blogged over the years, Mark and I have established the uniquely American holiday of Thanksgiving, a holiday I never appreciated until moving here to Spain. Thanksgiving, or “Accion de Gracia” as they call it here, has caught on with our Barcelona friends. Every year we squeeze more and more people into our space. Some years we celebrate it at our beach pad, others we celebrate at our Partners In Rhyme headquarters in Gracia.

Normally we invite all our Spanish friends but this year we had a special American guest visiting and staying with us so we invited all our expat friends; we had a Czech, an Australian, a German, a Pole, an African, a French man (with his Catalan wife), along with our usual Spanish core of amigos, and I must say this was the best Thanksgiving I’ve ever had, seriously! The chemistry of good food, wine, cheer prevailed.

This year we had 16 people, four of whom were Thanksgiving virgins, participate in the feast. The succulent bird did not disappoint; Mark did an excellent job (as usual), which combined with all the other traditional dishes provided by our guests lived up the the holiday depicted in American cinema and TV, or so our “Thanksgiving Virgins” said.

Our special guest this year was Mark’s former Visual Effects boss in New Zealand, Jim Rygiel.

1) When we were in L.A. last year Jim came to our New Years Eve party and subsequently invited us for a BBQ at his house in Pacific Palisades. That’s where I got this shot of Rygiel showing off his multiple Oscars, BAFTAs, and Visual Effects awards…. Pretty impressive stuff from such a low key, soft spoken fellow. 2) This is a classic photo of Jim Rygiel, our guru for all things digital. When we lived in New Zealand Jim was Mark’s Visual effects supervisor on the Lord of the Rings trilogy. He’s since become a good friend, with a lot of help from facebook, helping us to stay in touch and hook up in different countries over the years.

Jim’s presently working in Rome, supervising the VFX in the upcoming remake of Godzilla. He didn’t miss a beat when we invited him to come to Barcelona for Thanksgiving this year.

1) We are Internationalists. 2) Four nationalities are represented in this photo; Czech, French, German and French.

What made this Thanksgiving special, other than the fantastic chemistry of our friends, old and new, was the food. To go with Mark’s exceptional turkey and mashed potatoes, Jenifer made yummy Texan gravy, Nicole made an exceptionally creative salad, Jim made stuffing, and our French baker friend Philippe made an apple pie to die for. Add wine and libations to the mix and a good time was had by all.

This is our new friend Dinger King, self styled comic, reality show, Catalan rapper. He and his Lithuanian girlfriend Vytaute celebrated with us.

Vytaute and Dinger were two of our Thanksgiving virgins this year. Fortunately the meal lived up to all the hype.

I looked him up afterwards and found that he has heaps of YouTube videos, such as this one:

Dinger King is a fun and welcome new character in our lives – look him up on Youtube and you will be wildly entertained.

1) Marta (click on her name to link to the blog I did of her in the past) 2) Karafa (Click on his name for more info on him)
For those of you who have been following my blogs over the years, I have written extensively about Marta and Karafa, seeing as we took a trip to Senegal with them.

After dinner, in the spirit of tradition, (*our Partners in Rhyme tradition” that is) a spontaneous acoustic jam session happened in our music room and featured the debut of Mark’s new ‘banjo guitar’ recently given to him by my (late) cousin Stefano in Florence. Stefano’s grandfather, Nonno Nanni constructed it over 50 years ago. For Stefano it was a special childhood memory, watching Nonno Nanni build it. When Mark played it and got a great tone out of its inherently funky feel, Stefano gave it to him on the spot.

Thanks to Guitarland Music Store, (located literally around the corner from our Partners In Rhyme headquarters in Gracia) for so beautifully and generously restoring and repairing it. Nonno Nanni sings again. I remember Nonno Nanni as happy fellow, at the beach in Tuscany, wearing a wife beater shirt, strumming on his guitar. He knew lots of Communist anthems, and could play and sing Renato Carosone’s songs (popular singer back in the day) plus a few originals, with silly sing-along chorusus. So many decades later this magnificent one of a kind instrument has found its rightful home with Mark.

As is our tradition, after the meal we had a funky, relaxed jam session. Normally Karafa will start playing the African drums in our studio, Mark joins him and the jam begins… Others join in… Now that’s something to be thankful for!