Thursday, 18 October 2007

Czechs and Balances

Sorry things are so short and snappy, but these days are VERY long and very busy. Our moods are balancing out a little, mostly because we are so very occupied. We now have two smiling young Czechs working here, with occasional oversight from James the Handy Neighbor. Today they installed a new concrete floor in the despensa, and they are just now, at 8:10 p.m., using the leftover cement to finish up the old salon floor the bozos left undone. It´s cool having another language going on.

Tomorrow we put the lovely new (and much taller! No more dinged foreheads and busted brows!) despensa door in place, and hopefully Cañizo the Electrician guys will show up and get crackin´on wiring up "the living end" of the Peaceable. Today an actual albanil from Palencia came to look the place over and start an estimate. Paddy and I stomped some mud and water and straw together to make cob, which will go into the despensa doorway tomorrow. (it´s the muddy clay stuff that most of the old buildings around here are made of.) And Pastrana the Plumber, who finally go the hot water flowing in the Sahagún place, promises to come to Moratinos on Saturday to price out the tuberia.

Paddy´s hard at work making garlic soup for our dinner. We don´t have eggs to drop into it... a strange circumstance around here! But supply may be starting to meet demand. Yesterday Moratinos was awash in pilgrims from Australia, Czech Republic, Finland, Oman, Poland, and Canada, and James and Marianne threw a barbecue of sorts over at their project. While we did the washing-up at our place, Julia the Neighbor came over with a box of figs from Edu´s tree. We all chatted a while, or at least we listened to Julia go on about life in the village.

One local concern is the mouse plague. The junta a couple of weeks ago gave the farmers long red tubes to partially bury in their fields. Deep inside they put poisoned grain, down where the storks and pheasants can´t reach and hopefully the rain water won´t flow. The mice are supposed to go down the tubes, eat the grain, and scurry off to their eternal reward.

The distribution point for the tubes and grain was right outside Julia´s place.
Someone spilled some of the grain on the ground. Julia´s chickens plucked it up. So Julia´s chickens are no more. Laying hens aren´t easy to get this time of year, and we know how well-kept her critters are -- they took in someone´s overgrown Easter duckling a while back, and Lucas is now 8 years old, a useless animal by all accounts, but they couldn´t just let him live in misery on an apartment balcony in Santander.

So we gave Julia two of the Gladyses. She and I went out into the corral with a big plastic grocery bag, popped in two hens, and off they went down Calle Ontanon. (I made sure neither was Blodwyn.) And so we are down to three hens, three eggs per day. It´s a much more reasonable number for two people, one of whom is watching his cholesterol. But we are feeding four hardworking people now, and I can only hope Castilian Poor People Food is enough to feed us all -- I used all three of today´s eggs in the tuna salad we had for lunch. And Patrick the Czech is vegetarian, so eggs is one of the primary proteins we have on offer.

Oh well. They ARE pilgrims, accustomed to living rough and eating god-knows-what. Good thing. That´s exactly what we have to offer them!

I missed my Girls Night Out in Salamanca the other day, but hopefully we can make it up tomorrow in Zamora. Tomorrow is also Libby´s birthday. She will have to celebrate out there on the Camino someplace... I haven´t heard from her in three days, so I take that as a good sign.

So the hard labor continues, which distracts us from our woes and worries and gives us some really visible progress to look at. Life is good.

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