Thursday, 29 May 2008
Dark Before Dawn
Massively small things have been going on, with plumbers, carpenters, pilgrims, neighbors, and dogs traipsing in and out for days. Massive money has been traipsing, too... all of it out, I am afraid. (Except for one extra happy German lady we gave coffee to this dripping-wet morning. We dried her out a little, I spoke execrable German to her, and she gave me a four-Euro donativo!)
While I sift and shift food and cutlery and pots and pans between the summer kitchen to the new Real Kitchen, I am also trying to integrate the kitchen things from the piso in Sahagun, and the things shipped over last February from America... got to get the turntable from Pittsburgh into the cabinet before I install atop it the 10,000 little pots of spices we´ve accumulated from all points of the compass. We have two types of Garam Masala and an assortment of piquant leaves, nuts, and peppers for making tamales, but we still have no vanilla extract. I am sure there is some in one of these boxes. And I actually am opening all of These Boxes now, and re-discovering things I didn´t know we had! It´s like Christmas around here, but the piny smell is from sawdust.
The carpenter is STILL hanging the doors, which came (finally) from Asturias without any hardware attached. The carpenter´s had to create doorsills, then hang the doors on them, and now he´s hollowing-out the edges for the handles and locks. Seems a little front-to-back to me, but then HE is the carpenter, and I am happy to see these doors are solid, heavy wood.
The work leaves wood shavings all over the place, so it´s no use cleaning up yet. And we don´t want to put down rugs or move big furniture until we´ve cleaned. So here we are, still parked in the summer kitchen... so close!
We have light fixtures up all over, a lovely woodstove installed, hot and cold running water, and toilets that flush, too! A new mattress was delivered, and a lovely brown leather sofa, and painters then came to touch-up all the damage left by the delivery guys. (We had to scramble to find an old sheet to cover the sofa with!) The internet went down. (that´s why I disappeared for a couple of days.) We moved the fridge into the new kitchen, and had to shift the door front-to-back so it opens from the left instead of the right. It´s harder than you´d think!
Ttoday the antenna man came to hook up the TV, and said we´ll only get two rather snowy channels unless we take down the array atop the mast and replace it with another, more space-age model -- a mere 700 Euros worth. Having just paid an electrician bill that was a good €1,000 over what I´d planned, I kinda snapped. I told him to saw off the entire mast just above the internet receiver.
"You will have no TV signal," he told me, his jaw twitching a little. "I know," I told him. "I worked too long with TV people. (I actually said this right, using the preterite.) I very much dislike TV, except for football games sometimes.¨ The man nodded. He put on a good poker face, but I could see his mind working behind his eyes. "This woman is entirely unhinged. I´d better watch myself," he was thinking.
"What does your husband think about TV?" he delicately inquired.
Paddy was out walking the dogs just then, so I phoned him up and handed the receiver to the man. Paddy told him to go ahead and saw the thing down. And so, having consulted with the authorities and confirmed for himself that All Foreigners Are Mad, he did the deed. And after the antennae came down, the internet switched itself back on. Electronic wonders abound. Here I am! Now all I need is a wifi wizard to appear and make the computer work all over the Peaceable. (Part of the original plan was to provide wifi for whoever shows up. We we shall see.)
It´s all winding up now. The place is zooming together all of a sudden, just like Father Dick prophesied way back last summer. We have beds, we have chairs, we have heat. I am almost afraid to cut loose and rejoice, for fear of being premature. We still don´t have the final bill! But I can feel the joy bubbling up down inside.
I think it´s held in abeyance by Paddy, who is not dealing well with all this at all. He is quiet and withdrawn when he´s not whining, complaining, or asking What It All Means. Add to all this a holiday (Blessed Sacrament Sunday, a pretty summertime procession marred by an inter-family squabble), and a funeral: our friend Resti, the chef at Casa Barrunta over in San Nicolas, died on Monday from a fast-moving brain tumor. He was 57. We attended the funeral yesterday, a very sad affair replete with tolling church bells, a cortege through the town, roses and handfuls of dirt thrown down into the grave by each person. (In America the graveside service is much more sanitized...as if we can´t really acknowledge that the body in the box is going into this hole in the ground!) I think the hardest for me was seeing Raul, the ever-merry young waiter at Barrunta, shoveling fresh concrete onto the tomb as the tears streamed down his face.
Una, like Paddy, is off by herself these days, skulking. I think the chilly, cold weather and all the change and hubbub may be too much all at once for these two sensitive souls. I try to give them extra scratches behind the ears. I hope they get better, because I want to really enjoy this little Between period. Between finishing the house, and telling everyone We Are Open for Business.
Just what "business" means is still up in the air, a subject for another post perhaps. But we have a pilgrim from Italy coming on Monday, and some Belgians are leaving their car with us in a couple of weeks while they walk the Camino with their dog. A string of friends is coming in July, August, and September. September will be especially fun, with loved-ones expected from California and Wisconsin, Wyoming and London, Rotterdam, Sedona, and Ghent!
...And meantime, I MUST get my driver´s license.