Sorry about that last one. You get the good with the bad.
The weather is really quite spectacular. Mornings are chilly, afternoons are hot, the gardens are gone all wild and rotten and the tomatoes and peppers are perfect for gazpacho. The freezer is filling up with vegetables grown right here. The sunlight takes on an odd yellow cast in the early morning and late afternoon that throws black, black shadows for yards and yards, before and behind. In the wee hours the stars are absolutely breathtaking. This morning at 2.30 the Milky Way was alive with falling stars.
There is so much sky and wind and light here. I will never tire of that.
There´s nothing really new to report. The dogs are working things out among themselves, doing the sorts of behavioral antics people study and write about for their theses. We set a nice fat trap for the big fat mouse we saw in the bedroom cave. Over toward Terradillos de Templarios, along the Camino, someone is turning an alfalfa field into a "light farm." They´re putting up rows of solar panels and connecting them to the grid, selling the electricity back to the utility. A lot more of that is happening here now that grants are being handed out. (no one´s found a way yet to make it pay at private homes, we´re told.) It is supposed to be "green" and all, but it surely is a lot less natural and attractive than a deep-green field of protein. Oh well. At least it doesn´t make noise or smoke or fumes.
Some lovely things happened this week: I heard from dear people from all over the place! My bud Filipe sent me a copy of his long-awaited doctoral thesis, which was absolutely impressive in its incomprehensibility. It is all about the effects of genetic mutation and tissue injuries seen on specific nerve cells in the brains of particularly exquisite lab mice. Filipe is a brain chemistry geneticist, or something like that. Together we watched the Steelers win the Super Bowl a couple of years ago in an Irish pub in Rotterdam. We took a Pilates class together, in Dutch. Both were very bonding experiences.
I got a note from Jill, a wise, fun, witty friend I met walking on the Camino in 2001. She´s a solicitor in Sydney, Australia. She wears a white curly wig to work! And Kathy checked in, too, from California, with more tips for tackling bozos. She is a building contractor in San Francisco. She knows all the angles...this one involves an Augustinian priest from Valladolid!
I also heard from my long-lost dear cousin Keith Milliron, and from Dave Sturtevant, a long-lost friend. These are two people I admire greatly -- Keith for his sweet spirit, and David for, well... lots of things, one of which is durability. I have known Dave since 1979! We met at the Pennsylvania Governor´s School for the Arts. David is one of the most talented people I ever knew. He´s a songwriter and musician, a wandering folkie who apparently continues to wash up on the shore at Erie, PA. He tracked me down. He read the blog about the chicken-slaying dog (we call him Tim). Dave sent me the words to a Johnny Cash song:
"If you don't stop killin' my chickens
Though I'm not a real bad guy
I'm gonna take my rifle and send ya
To that great chicken house in the sky
Egg Sucking Dog
I'm gonna stomp your head in the ground
If you don't stop killin' my chickens
You dirty old egg-sucking hound. "
Words to live by. Long as you´re not associated with the ASPCA or PETA.
Speaking of things that suck: No word from the builders. But we did get some good encouragement late this evening.
I think I wrote before about the house next door getting a new coat of paint. One of the sons-in-law who are applying it lives in Terradillos, the next town over to the east. They´re having some roof issues, and called in a builder from Terradillos to have a look. (I didn´t know they had an albanil (builder) over there. I thought we´d exhausted all the local possibilities, albanil-wise, last winter, when we couldn´t find anyone willing to take on our "gran obra.")
Anyway, the neighbor guy brought José, his albanil, over here this evening for a look at the place. I used my polished-up Spanish on him, and showed them both through the place. "Oh, my," he said. "Oh my goodness." They asked how long it had been, how much more we needed to have done before we consider it habitable. José said the job that´s done so far is a good one. And then he offered his take on the situation.
We have a roof, he said. They´ve made a good start on the under-floor heat system, with most of the excavating done. Which means the place can be worked-on when the weather is less-than lovely. Which means Mario & Co. are keeping this job on the back burner til they finish up the other roofing and exterior jobs they´ve probably been putting off till summer. They´ve most likely NOT walked off, he said. They´ll be back -- they´ve left plenty of equipment and materials behind here, too much to abandon. Just don´t give them any money til the plumbing and wiring are finished, and the floors are well on their way. If then. (Note all the time-elements: things finished, things in progress, things to be continued into the future. They were delivered in fast Castellano Spanish, and were a marvellous workout for my rediscovered verb phrases! Yippee! Now if I could learn to use them myself...)
So I let myself be reassured. I am good at that. Paddy and I are starting our weekend. We plan to finish up the chicken-house roof, and take a big long walk with the dawgs, make some Asturian white bean fabada stew, and work on my pile of homework. But for now we´re sitting, listening to an old Eagles CD, having gin-and-tonics, watching the dogs behave. I think I will sleep well tonight.