Friday, 15 June 2007

Ordinary Time at The Peaceable Kingdom

It's Friday night at The Peaceable Kingdom (the name I am trying on for our house). We are sitting in the kitchen, digesting a meal of vaguely Mexican provenance. Patrick is reading a New Yorker magazine from February. (they arrive very sporadically.) The dog is curled up on her favorite old armchair, one of those Naugahyde beasts that came with the house. (I refer to the chair, not the dog).

At 9 p.m. it is still broad daylight, and will be for another hour. Dusk stretches long. The birds will be singing still at midnight.

In other words, everything is Normal. This morning, as is our habit every couple of days, we went into Sahagun and bought bread (chapata) and produce (a huge cauliflower) and meat (chicken legs, ground meat, sausages). And a newspaper. We love our El Pais, and on Fridays they have an excellent magazine section. We take turns reading parts of the paper all day, discussing the news and how it's written in the papers here.

Today the weather was nice, so I potted the herb plants we bought yesterday, on the way back from an Expedition in Leon. Paddy walked the dog. Fresh laundry flapped all day on the clothesline. When Paddy and Una returned, the dog had a dead rabbit in her mouth: Her third. She showed it off, then dumped it in the garden and went off to hunt for mice in the barn. I took a nap. Paddy started a painting, which for some reason involves using our cheese grater to "chunk-up" adobe. (I can say little, as I've permanently adapted the soup ladle for use in the limewash barrel.)

This is the first Regular Day we've had in weeks, and I enjoyed it hugely.

I thought about Ordinary Days last week, as I walked alone on the Camino. I had to wonder what "Regular" has become anymore, now that we're living such a strange, ever-changing life. We shed most of our earthly goods when we moved here, and now, with all the work being done on our house, all our remaining possessions and furnishings are stacked in the barn and garage, or stuffed into the windowless, cave-like pantry where we sleep.

Our menu is limited, as we have no oven now, and severely limited storage space for fresh or perishable things. Our clothes are stowed, and there's no one here to impress, so we wear the same outfits over and over. We have a washing machine, but no dryer, so our laundry line is forever fluttering. (I do the laundry for James and Marianne, our Irish/Englsih neighbors, who have laundry machines but haven't hooked them up yet.) They have two tiny tots, so the sizes and styles are wildly various. The plain-Jane jeans and tshirts out there are ours, but their contributions include tiny dungarees, string bikinis, hippy-chick skirts, and a big hoodie with BAD GUY blazoned across the chest. It's amazing the things you can learn about someone when you do his washing.)

It's been mighty stressful here in the past week, what with visitors from America (beloved as they are) sleeping in the awful dripping grotto that will someday become a kitchen, more downpours, an architectural consultation (which was encouraging, I might add.) I got page proofs for a magazine project I've been working on for ages, and they look very fine. Paddy's lost his temper a few times with the contractors, who are themselves hamstrung by a supply-chain breakdown and what appears to be a cash-flow nightmare. (but are we their Money Tree? I think not!)

We've given way too much money to the builders in advance, and we still don't have a roof on the house, and more rain is in the forecast. I ran away from it all for a couple of weeks (as you know), but Paddy refuses to take a break... and he's got an open offer of a place in Paris! He's got twinges of pain in his legs and shoulders. When he's feeling low he says the place is killing him. It has been dire indeed, here and there. We are "paying for our education," as Architect Eric says, and it sucks.

But then there's today. No builders. No schedule. No TV or radio or even music, unless you count the songbirds.

And so I celebrate Ordinary, lean and grubby as it may appear. Immacolata, the Italian pilgrim I met in San Cilia back in Aragon, is due here tomorrow and says she'll cook again! Perhaps the rain will hold off, and we can light the fairy lights in the ivy arch outside, and have our dinner on the patio. Veal. I bought veal today, too. I wonder what she'll make of it.

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