O.k. we are not in Spain but nothing rhymes with Portugal. It was rainy and cold again today. It reminds me of fall, a season that I absolutely adore when it is, you know, actually the proper time of year. I´m not a big fan of fall when I am on my summer vacation. We spent the whole day trying to find things to do and, in the process, had a pretty good day. Miguel spent time with his grandfather, Luis, feeding the pigeons. These are not random birds but racing pigeons and Luis takes them seriously. I am sitting here surrounded by the trophies that prove it. I don´t know what all Miguel and Luis do out there but it took up a lot of time this morning and Miguel felt very useful. Miguel and Zeca played in the yard for awhile making soup with water, rocks, sticks and weeds. The mess and the wet clothes made me edgy but also made me remember all the times I did the very same thing as a child. I realized that I don´t let my kids get dirty often enough. As I was letting go of my issues of control and starting to smile and enjoy watching them play, Zeca found an old chicken bone in the yard with some fatty meat still attached and promptly put it in her mouth. That was that. Then, we decided to go to the beach and walk around. We knew it was too cold to swim but we needed to get away from the house for awhile. As we were walking to the car, Miguel and I noticed snails...really cool snails with long shells (not the round spirals of my youth). We watched them for awhile and I realized that I´ve never seen a snail in Minneapolis. We must not have them there. I could have watched them for a long time but Zeca was strapped in her car seat (to prevent her from eating the beautiful snails) and she was not happy to sit there while we explored nature. We headed to the beach and the waves were enormous. They were those large, foamy waves that truly crash like misty thunder on the beach. There was a red flag flying today which means that the conditions are dangerous - no swimming because of the large waves and strong undertow. After walking around awhile, hunting for sea shells and finding mostly those of lupini beans, we headed back to the house. The lawn care people were working at Quinta da Loia today. One of the most striking images of my day was looking into the back yard and seeing an older woman in a dress that came to mid-calf with an impressively large gas powered weed whacker strapped on to her. The dress and the weed whacker - I had to stop and watch. The rest of the day is a blur of playing ball outside, playing cards, chasing Zeca and eating. Then, the kids went to bed...easily. The weather is supposed to improve and we are hoping that we will be able to swim soon. Miguel is ready to get back in the water and, even today with the clouds and the need for jackets said, "You know what today is? A beautiful day for the pool!" We are hoping that Miguel´s eternal optimism is finally rewarded.