Sunday, 13 July 2008

Five Big Ones

Five years ago today I joined myself, "til death do us part," to Patrick O´Gara in a Unitarian ceremony on the bank of the Maumee River in Ohio, USA. Some of my blog readers were there to make sure it really happened. (I hope they will comment, as nobody seems to leave comments on this blog! Am I such a non-sequitur writer? C´mon, people! Respond already! )

Now it seems like a hundred years ago. Today we celebrated. In the afternoon we were invited to help some neighbors determine what quality grade their grain is this year. Not to say we know our oats from rye. It would´ve been a learning experience, but we politely said no. We had celebrating to do, and everyone was very understanding.

It´s been a big day. I walked the dogs early, to let Paddy have a rare morning alone with a good book (for you Spanish readers, Julio Llamazares´"Las Rosas de Piedra," a delicious literary take on Spain´s great unsung cathedrals). We went to Mass, where the only (visiting) young boys were again welcomed up front to "concelebrate" with Don Santiago, our resident saint. (One has to wonder what he would do with similarly young women). (He reliably serves communion to the likes of me, which speaks volumes to his Faith in the Unknown.) Lots of the regulars were not there this morning, as the harvest is white and the laborers few. But the Gospel was all about the sower and the seeds, so he is cool with all that. He didn´t even preach a sermon, assuming that the gospel was so damn obvious -- what with threshing combines roaring by outside -- nobody needed a disposition. I deeply respect Don Santiago, who reminds me very much of my own late father, Dick Scott, himself a Son of Toil and Minister of the Gospel and Master of the Obvious. It´s been a very Dick Scott kind of day, really. I think he may have been hanging around here, enjoying the show.

It was only after we returned from church that it dawned on me that today, 13 July 2008, is our fifth wedding anniversary. Duh.

My sister Beth very recently celebrated her own wedding anniversary, and was given, by her grateful husband, a delicious ring of pearl and diamonds. This kind of reward/gift is well beyond any expectation of mine, but after some discussion, Paddy and I agreed that what he offers is,( to ME), much more fitting: a good cook, jazz CDs, a lover of dogs and chickens, and educated discourse after dinner. I could not ask for more, so for me it is not difficult. This is the partner for me, with or without pearls.

(And if I want jewels, within reason, I can buy my own when I´m in the Big City, and pay for them with my own money. But that´s not the same, is it? One´s got to make her own choices, eh? ) (Easy for me to say, as I´ve got a couple of perfect Tiffany pearls already, gifts from a lovely, worthy man!) Rocks is rocks. Rings and bracelets make blisters when you are shoveling cow shit, but a nice look in the eye at the end of the day makes it worth the effort. I am a slut that way, I guess.

...Anyway, the two of us traveled down to the new Casa Rural in Villada for a Deluxe Lunch to celebrate the big occasion. We had spaghetti carbonara, done perfectly al dente, and prawn cocktail, a Proustian dish for Pad (which means it triggers in him long-dormant memories of long-forgotten dinner parties in the 60s, when prawn (shrimp) cocktails were all the rage in London.)

...You want long-buried memories? I told him shrimp cocktail makes me think of when I was a tiny girl in pajamas, taken by my mother to pick up my dad at the Fountain Inn Best Western bar in Denver, Colorado, USA. (in the mid-60s.) My father worked there in the evenings, after working a full day at the Vietnam fighter-plane missile-loading Air Force base. And on really special occasions we were given, right there on the bar stools, the Shrimp Cocktails they did not sell that evening in the Fountain Room... sometimes even accompanied by a "Shirley Temple" Kiddie Cocktail, shaken and stirred by our own Dad in his deep red brocade vest! Oh, we were SOOO cosmopolitan, and my dad SO skinny and James Bond in his shiny weskit! Posh old London´s got nothin´on that.)

Hard likker for a couple of Holiness Pentecostals trying to raise their girls to be good Christians. Thirty years later Beth still likes her wine sweet, with a fruity Shirley Temple fizz. And can I blame her? I still love Riesling and Sauternes, don´t I? (Someday me and Beth and our little sister Martea are going to sit down and drink and talk and remember together. I look forward to that. I will supply all the bourbon or peach-flavored zinfandel or Budweiser or Zamora Tinto required, because I love these women, and I love truth so much, no matter how much it makes us cry. Bystanders might sneer, but it will be important.)

Back to Moratinos and Villada. We had field mushrooms and polenta with blue cheese at the posh restaurant in Villada, (a real work of genius, especially in rural Spain!)... I don´t remember what Paddy had for seconds as I was so grooving on my own! (Nobody´s heard of polenta hereabouts, so this is a real discovery!) Maybe the best thing about the meal was the waitress, who turned to ME to order the food and translate whatever it was Paddy said. Apparently, today, I was more understandable, to her. Amazing. A page turned. Since I came back from America, I haven´t much cared about my Spanish grammar. I´ve just started talking. So far, so good.

The day included a drive back to Moratinos, via farm/tractor paths, (the recourse for those who´ve had a bit too much wine with lunch) discussing sunflowers and wheat and reserving the brand of "Peaceable Kingdom" and asking God/St.James/the Camino to send us a marketing/business guru to show us how to make all this work. Seeing as this is the over-run wine season, we hope to travel over to the Toro region of Zamora to buy a great mess of vendimia (harvest-fresh overrun) wine to put down in our empty bodega, to eventually label with our own brand, and maybe seek out a Rioja (extra-nice red) to similarly lay down and brand. So long as we have the bodega and the money and the will, it´s a win/win situation, no? If the wine turns out to not be wonderfully marketable, we can drink it ourselves.

So, we ask the God/the Camino/St. James/you guys to send us suggestions. And this afternoon we got a call from an unknown woman from Netherlands who wants to stay here with us tomorrow.

Strangers, knocking at the door. A marketer´s dream. We are very much NOT Capitalists, but times are hard all over the world. We need to support ourselves into a very uncertain future. Five years we´ve been shooting in the dark. Maybe it´s time to turn on the lights, eh?

I may start with not eating red meat any more. I´ve been ill since I went to America, where Beef is King. Maybe red meat doesn´t agree with me. Maybe it´s time to get Buddhist. Vamos a ver. Maybe more of the pilgs will be vegetarians?

Comments, please, in whatever language. We can deal, honest!


Beth said...

I am looking forward to our sister fest! P.S. I like Reisling too.
Love Beth (the old one)

Laura said...

I love this blog, but if I left a comment every time, you might feel stalked! I check in daily and am always happy to find a new post.
Thanks - hope you bounce back from the damage done by American food!
Laura (you don't know me)

Elizabeth said...

I didn't know if it was possible before, but I can't deny what the eyes tell me: Paddy can be adorable! He just needs sunflowers and a smarmy grin. Toot cute.

Tammy said...

Oh I know I'm not a sister, of the sort, but can I please attend the sister fest? I too would love the memories and stories!
Sam & I shall be celebrating our 19th "married" anniversary very soon too! Oh how the time flies! I am not expecting any pearls or any wine for that matter, but hopefully we'll find the time to dine together! However, I'm sure we'll be dining on very fine beef! Sorry to sicken you!

CarolineMathieson said...

What do you mean nobody posts comments? I must be nobody then .....I had a cat poster once with that title on it.

Good idea about not eating red meat as you can overdose on the stuff. But keep eating white meat and fish if you can.

Caroline xx

claire said...

Happy Anniversary :-)
We should be in Moratinos by Oct 16 or 17, ready to enjoy your hospitality. If you're there, of course :-)
I know two pilgrims for one night, one can't call this butter in the beans, but hey...
Are you in the Miam Miam Dodo yet, or would you rather not have French pilgrims?

Timecheck said...

I don't know about red meat being bad for us, but but I'm making a real effort to get meat from an animal that had a decent life until the moment of slaughter. The idea of cow parts being fed to cows seems like animal abuse to me. Hopefully, the meat over there is grass fed and antibiotic free. said...

We aren´t putting ourselves into guides except the UK Confraternity book, seeing as we aren´t really a business. It seems like Word of Mouth is working just fine for us.
We have met and talked with guys from the French "Eating and Staying" guide and the really good German one, though..and told them we´re here for emergencies and Winter pilgrims only.

Anonymous said...

Ah, the bloggers' complaint--no comments! Silent appreciation is so hard to read--but trust me, I look in daily (almost) and am delighted with the news. American food, acc. to our European friends who come to visit here, is pretty bad--additives, hormones, GMOs, depleted soils.... One friend from Hamburg says its worse than the food in East Germany when there was such a thing! Eager to be in Spain and eating fresh everything--

Kiwi Nomad 2008 said...

Congrats to you and Paddy :-)
I trust that the dogs also got a treat.
Everything looked much drier when I passed by in the train last week than it had when I walked through not so many weeks ago.
Reading Gareth's blog, I see he was tired when he hit your place too. Maybe all us long-distance people feel tired about Moratinos when it seems like we have walked as far as we can and there is still so far to go. But I already felt less tired as soon as I left Astorga and started heading into those mountains....

Anonymous said...

Your sis Martea is looking forward to a sister fest as well but the Budweiser is out. I drink Steel Reserve and have no idea what Reisling is!
Love Mart (the black sheep)

Martea said...

Happy Anniversary late! love you both