Wednesday, 27 June 2007

All or Nothin'

Patrick's gone off to try the Camino Aragones himself. God knows he needed a break.

Patrick's idea of a "break" is a sustained diet of only spring water and bread crusts, combined with a weight-lifting and running regimen and a couple of Existentialist tomes to lighten his mood. He is a man of extremes, that Paddy -- either all or nothing. I wonder if he's out there hiking the 30K stretches without having eaten anything. He's funny (stupid) that way.

Not that my idea of fun is lying on a beach with a trashy novel. (I've never been a big beach person, really. Too damn sandy. Although there IS room in society for the trashy novel. I should know. I've written a couple.)

Given my choice of things to do, I'd choose to learn something, or at least taste and try on some new kind of theory or study or discipline. The list of things done/undone includes a 10-day silent Vispassana meditation retreat; volunteering for two weeks of feeding and cleaning up after 40 hikers a day in a mountain hostel in a foreign country; Gutting an old mud house and rebuilding it; and taking up mosaic tile setting. Or Tarot card reading, or chicken-raising. All told, I guess I like making stuff, or making stuff happen.

And seriously, I am going to learn how to make mosaics. I have a few spots around the Peaceable Kingdom set aside where mosaics will be just the ticket. Our local Roman Villa is full of 'em, so they are macrobiotic, sorta. And I just learned about a building substance here called "yeso vivo" (aka "alive plaster") that I'm looking forward to daubing around the front of the bodega, and a cool ochre pigment I can use to color the limewash that seals it up. All fun things to plan and consider and do.

I often feel compelled to achieve something tangible, seeing as the house progresses in such fits and starts. Yesterday the men came and spent many hours tearing out most of the timbers and all of the floorboards that were our upstairs. The wreckage was very artistic; for a good while the emtpy salon had a most intriguing contemporary sculpture hanging from what remained of the ceiling. It all was extremely dusty, but pleasing. Something was happening!

And this morning, and all through today -- a gorgeous, breezy, cloudless day -- no one came at all. No work was done, no phone call to explain why not. The coffee maker quit halfway through the first cup. I realized I can't find the bill for our annual car registration, or the Rosetta Stone Spanish CD. (It hasn't been a good day for Spanish.) Two of the chickens slipped into the patio garden and ate up my only surviving corn plant. I washed the dog and she immediately rolled in the dirt.

I soothed myself by walking a long long walk with the dog, wherein we saw many, many birds: 18 hawks, circling and shouting at one another; 16 storks, flying in formation over the fields; and a mom partridge with about 15 baby partridges, running up the path ahead of us. (Una killed one and took it home. I am not proud of this. But she is a dog.)

And late in the afternoon came a saving stroke: an opportunity to LEARN SOMETHING!

I am accepted into the Erasmus Spanish program at the University of Leon! Yay. I will spend most of the month of September in a beautiful nearby city, cramming a year's worth of conversational Spanish into a 60-hour course designed for European exchange students. I hope to rent a little apartment from our neighbors for the month...imagine, our own Pied a Terre in the Big City! Woohoo! Maybe this will help me overcome whatever it is that's turned Spanish verb conjugations into a great mashed-up soup in my head!

The amazing part is the price. Tuition and books? 300 Euro. Including free use of all university facilities. If I decided to take the full three-semester Spanish as a Foreign Language certification, that would cost an entire 1,700 Euro. For all THREE semesters: six hours a day, five days a week! Holy Moley! I may have to go back in the winter and start a degree! I LOVE college! I LOVE this country!

So...what is the Spanish word for "mood swing?" And how do I celebrate, when it's just me and a dog?
Maybe it's time for a glass of vino tinto. And a trashy novel!


Elizabeth said...

*Cue the whiny voice*
Mommy! How will we spend any time together while I'm in Spain if you're off being all edumacated? The truth is, I'm jealous...I kind of miss college in the learning sort of way. I love you!
-Lib said...

To all readers; The above whining girl made more than $80 last Saturday READING PEOPLES' PALMS.

Maybe it's Satan. Or maybe it's just Free Enterprise. What the hell! That's my girl!

Ryan said...

um, you can spend time together in Leon... duh :P