So here is the deal; I have this rooster painted on the wall above the terrace off my sitting room.  It is big, and has a large piece of blue reinforcing rod stuck in it on an angle.  I imagine that whomever painted it there had it in mind to make a sundial out of it, but I really don’t know the story behind how it got there.  I could let my mind race a bit and relate a story about the significance of the subject matter (a big orange rooster) or why the rod is painted blue and placed on the angle it is at. I could share with you the correlation between the rooster and the regime of Generalissimo Francisco Franco, who ruled Spain for so many years.  I could alternatively explain how Mallorca, clearly part of Spain, has always thought of itself as a bit ‘different’ that the Spanish mainland and how the rooster symbolises this independent feeling.  But the reality is that long before I came to Sol y Mar, there was a German family living here and they thought that having a rooster sun-dial on the wall overlooking the sea was a cute thing to do.  Right. 

According to some online repository of (allegedly) information, a rooster symbolises pride, courage, vigilance, arrogance, strength, and flamboyance.  I thought about these examples of symbolism and have ‘tested’ them to see if they apply to my residency at Sol y Mar.  Pride – well I do take pride in my house and both sweep the terraces and water the plants daily.  Okay, almost daily.  Courage – I do try to cook things that even a couple of years ago would have been quite intimidating to attempt.  Notice I am not mentioning the quality level of what I have been making?  Vigilance – I do have a turbo-powerful set of binoculars that I use to scan the horizon to see if there are any forces coming to invade the island.  Strength – hmmm, I will have to think about this one a bit more.  Flamboyance – well, the painted rooster is orange.  Okay, so that bit of research didn’t really yield anything I found to be illuminating, so I Googled ‘rooster meaning Spain.’  Whilst this didn’t yield too much that was enlightening, I did find a link that said that CID was a Spanish boys name that means God or rooster.  All I could think of when I read this was the painting ‘The Creation of Adam’ by Michelangelo.  It was then that I appreciated the fact that Michelangelo did not have access to Google – can you imagine that painting on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel with Adam touching a rooster?  Either could I. 

One last bit of research did yield an important learning for me. Roosters in Spain say ‘kikiriki’ instead of ‘cockle-doodle-doo.’ I am not sure why that is important, but it might prove to be a valuable learning for the next time I am in Puigpunyent and want to strike up a conversation with some farm animals. 

The reality is that I have no idea on this earth why someone would paint a huge orange rooster on the wall overlooking my terrace.  I just think some people do strange things.

We all do things that some others may interpret as a bit odd.  I sure do; after all, I am the one who took some aluminium exhaust vent tubing and tied it into knots and put in on the front terrace…and then named it Madeline Sparkle-Pants.   I really don’t think that this is odd at all.  In fact, I believe that we are all unique people who have likes and dis-likes that may be different than those of others.

Several years ago, I received a greeting card that said on its cover, ‘do what you can, where you are, with what you have.’  I still have this card and look at it often, and lately, I think have looked at it more than ever before.  I suppose it is because ever since I wrote about my ‘bucket list,’ I have really been thinking about what is in it and wondering if I will do anything about the stuff.  The problem for me is that whilst some things seem to have been in my bucket for eons of time, other things pop-up once in a while and somehow, suddenly are added to my list.  I think I am getting my head around this phenomenon (but am struggling to not get too analytical about it).   This is what I have discovered.

We are humans.  We have brains.  Our brains, and their abilities are sort of one of those good-news, bad news things.  The good news is that we have a pretty powerful tool for making decisions (the brain).  The bad news is that most of us are pretty crap at using this tool (the brain).  One day, everything seems to be quite normal and acceptable.  Then one day, the same things that we thought were okay we find to be completely unacceptable.  I can remember years ago, when I used to spend time with my favourite family members (my Aunt Dodo and my Uncle Ed) at their home on Paddock Lake in southeastern Wisconsin (yes, this was a very long time ago).  In the morning, Ed would get up, walk across the road in front of their house, and go down to the lake for a swim.  He would take soap and shampoo with him because after his swim, he would use the lake as a huge bath-tub.  At the time, it made all the sense in the world, but in today’s world, this would be cause for the world’s politically correct eco-police to lop off your head and put it on a stake. 

Sorry to digress for a moment, but as I was writing this letter, I looked up and saw several identical power boats slowly motoring amongst some of the yachts moored out in front of Sol y Mar.  It was if they were searching for someone or something.  For a minute I almost felt as if I was transposed into a scene of From Russia With Love, with the Spectre boats searching for Mr. Bond and Tatiana Romanova near Trieste.

Not withstanding my little digression, I have learnt quite a bit in my time at Sol y Mar.  My Spanish has improved dramatically (it is probably still total shite, but it is not as shite as it was).  And having a greater capacity to converse in another language is a real treat.  And now I know what to say the next time I come upon a rooster.



What a real rooster is supposed to look like


what my rooster looks like


cactus flower on the terrace


crazy kids jumping into my pool




my uncle Ed, not polluting the lake


just like in the movies


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copyright 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, James B. Rieley