It´s been a very productive few days at the Peaceable Kingdom, which always makes me feel extra good once the evening rolls ´round and the Bach cello albums come out. (Yeah, I still call them "albums." Sue me.)
Dick´s been one of the best guests yet. He not only has lots to discuss (he´s a parish priest in suburban Maassluis, and just finished a huge, ultramodern building project that´s taken YEARS), but he likes having a job to do. He´s taken up my preoccupation with the bodega-front, and in the past three days we´ve gotten the entire thing patched, pointed, and stuccoed with fine gray concrete. It´s not easy, what with that curved front and multiple layers of broken brick and rubble sticking out all over, and some really horrorshow spiders. He even did the ceiling of the arch... try getting wet concrete to stick to a dirty horizontal-concave surface that is above your head. We did it. I think his being 6 feet tall was a big help!
He also carried the butano canister for me in town today, and generally kept me company while we bought newspapers, potatoes, lemonade and mayonnaise. (the picture is us in the cloister at St. Isidore Basilica in Leon on Tuesday.) He´s walked all through the house, and commented on how doors should swing and tiles match and lights shine down just so...all the kinds of things that make Paddy´s eyes glaze over when I bring them up, but that really do need to be discussed before the installations start. Last night we stayed up way late, and drank a bit too much vino tinto, and really talked. So very fine. It´s been too long. Even Paddy, who really likes to live alone, said he´ll be sorry to see Dick go away tomorrow.
Other good friends are also in evidence. Edie, one of my California Girls, sent a Care Package this week: books of Reiner Maria Rilke and Pema Chodron, piñon and cedar incense, even an Einstein book for Patrick. The fat, luxurious beeswax candles sent by Kathy are now occupying the spaces left empty in our little parish church when we ran out of little votive lights. Friends keep us alive, and our chapels alight. I believe that. I don´t see mine often, but they are so dear, and so generous.
I think one thing all my good friends hold in common is their capacity for silence. We can chatter for hours, but we can also just be quiet together, too. And no matter how long ago it´s been since I´ve seen them, it´s always like just yesterday we talked last. The commonality is still there, the fellow-feeling, and the love.
Speaking of noise (or lack thereof) The house, it really is progressing! The place was noisy all day with hammers and tools, and we have walls in the upstairs now, the bathroom is enclosed and the downstairs floors still being excavated. Slow but sure, I am glad to say. More reason to be thankful.
And maybe next time my friends come to visit, they will have a fine room of their own to stay in, and a proper bed for sleeping!