Thursday, 31 July 2008

Way Green!

If it wasn´t hotter than July here, we both could be mistaken for Nanook of the North, our bodies all dotted with flakes of white. ´Cept this isn´t snow, it´s flakes of last year´s whitewash. Or this year´s. With a few dots of green, maybe.

Out on the patio we are sprucing-up the place, whitewashing the walls that have forever been whitewashed, because regular paint won´t stick to them, and whitewash is very cheap and easy, albeit sloppy. What a change it makes! Suddenly the sun shines brighter, and all the nasty stains vanish away.

Too bad it only lasts about 8 months. We gotta re-do it every year. This is why some of our walls are so thick: About 100 years ago they started with walls already two feet thick with adobe bricks, and then layered on another coat of plaster and/or whitewash every year or so. It´s cool, though. Sometimes you can see the earth-pigment colors the former owners chose, way back when.

And then came the Modern People. On some parts of the patio they stripped off the whitewash an put up better, stronger, faster Latex paint. Which means whitewash won´t work there, and any further paint´s got to be Modern, too. That is why, in the past two days, we turned our little latrine bathroom green. On the outside, I mean. Using modern paint. Last year´s whitewash coat bubbled up and flaked off within weeks.

We wanted a light olive green, grayish even, to harmonize with the ochre house. But they don´t custom-mix paint at the hardware store in Sahagun. They hand you a bucket-o-white and a couple bottles of pigment and tell you to Do It Yourself.
O-kaay... Paddy and I are, after all, Art School veterans. We know our way ´round a color wheel. It took a long time, and much consultation, and a succession of green stripes painted on the wall before we agreed we´d achieved the right harmony of hue and tone.

Now the job is done and the paint is up and dried. And what we have is... well. Jolly, vibrant, beach-umbrella, apple-martini green! Yow. When the afternoon sun hits it, parts of the patio are bathed in the reflected greenish light. Inside the old kitchen it feels like you´re under water.

I´m pretty ambivalent about it, but it really DOES look better, out there in the patio. I don´t dislike it enough to go and do it over again. And once we get the trees and potted plants back in place, I am sure it won´t bother me. Much.

As for green, the neighbors´ gardens are producing now, and Moratinos is feasting on aubergines/eggplants, zuchhinis/courgettes, (how come squash-type veg have so many different names??) and the budding, unopened heads of sunflowers... you sauté these in olive oil. We have tiny, soft yellow plums, and tiny green pears, and Fuji apples. And I will spend the rest of the morning, after this, putting about 3 kilos of green beans into freezer bags, for Winter consumption. And maybe making gazpacho too. Abundanza!

I also discovered a treasure trove of beautiful photos left behind when Patrick´s son Matt visited here, whilst I was wandering through the Heart of America. He is one talented picture-taker, that Matt. This place never looked so good. So you will see some of his work popping up here and there. I don´t know how to put cutline credits onto photos, so just assume, if you will, that the really good ones are taken by him, and you will probably be right. Here are a few:

Now back to the kitchen with me. I am still not feeling like myself. I´ll be so glad when all the hay is in and the dust dies down!

Monday, 28 July 2008

On Walkabout with a Real Pilgrim

Lots of my relatives and friends can only imagine what things actually LOOK like around here, because I never travel with photos. They depend on my amazing powers of description to paint them the picture. Which, of course, sucks.

But now, courtesy Verena Maringer, (aka "Nirvana,") a Zen Master and videographer, I have an 8-minute YouTube video that shows what a pilgrim sees, landscape-wise, right here in the 100-or-so-mile perimeter. It was shot about three weeks ago, and it´s as true-to-life as I´ve seen on the Freak-show Wonderland that is YouTube.

Enjoy! And thank you, Verena. Now I can go back to bed. (I have a bad case of medicine-head, and am losing my voice. It´s just the dust from the harvest, and a hot-sun day spent whitewashing the patio walls. I´ll get better.)

Saturday, 26 July 2008

A Theological Take on the Ol´Home Place

One thing you have to be careful of when you have academics around: they may just study YOU.
They snap photos: of the light fixtures, the tortilla, the chicken run, the decor. And they might then post them on the internet for all the world to see!

I know I subjected hundreds of people to the same kind of scrutiny back when I was a news reporter. Except I held my interviewees up to the gaze of thousands of readers, sometimes the very next day. This included their friends, family, and community... not just the limited-access, self-selecting audience of a blog. (They always let me know when I got it wrong, or the photographer shot an picture they felt was unflattering. Getting it right was somehow unremarkable.)

It´s always arresting when you see a public description of yourself, written by someone else. And so I give you... Michael´s blog. This is the viewpoint of Michael Barham, the doctoral candidate and Episcopal deacon who stayed at The Peaceable last week. He is writing a thesis about pilgrims and contemplation. And, as you might expect, he wrote about us in a charming and theological way, in posts called "Peaceable Hospitality" and "Hospitality II: Depth Cries Out to Depth." I am flattered. And I need to brush up on my New Testament Greek!

Somehow he did not look like a theologian. But one never do know, do one?

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Crabs on the Plaza

As brown as the landscape´s become, things are rather colorful inside our walls... or maybe just inside our heads. Or our mouths.

I started out this week with colorful language. I drove with Pilgrim Deirdre on Monday morning up to the Ikea store in Oviedo, a two-hour trek up and over spectacular mountains and through several very steeply priced toll collection points to do a long-put-off shopping trip. The stars had aligned. I´d found someone who spoke English (she is Irish) who likes to shop and doesn´t mind riding along. The weather was fine. We´ve had the rooms measured for months, and a good shopping list made up, so we could get in there and get back out with a minimum of zombie-like suffering.

It all went swimmingly, til we got there.
There were no cars in the parking lot. A few would-be shoppers stood disconsolate outside the doors of the Ikea and the surrounding shopping mall entrances. (I instantly flashed back to "Dawn of the Dead" and considered the great attraction malls exert on zombies. There´s got to be a connection.)

Evidently Monday was the Feast of St. Daniel. The nearest village to this vast shopping complex, somewhere back in the Middle Ages, chose Daniel as its patron saint. Therefore... all the surrounding businesses took the day off to celebrate. Including Ikea, which bills itself a multinational, Sweden-based conglomerate.

Bad language ensued, and a rather makeshift sort of furious dance. Later on we ate some bad Chinese food, and headed to Leon to shop instead. We didn´t buy very much, as by then my once-a-solstice urge to do big shopping had passed. (We did get feta cheese, which makes everything taste wonderful, so it wasn´t a complete waste.)

Green is my favorite color, and another good thing buy-able these days is Pimientos de Padron. These are tasty little green peppers you fry in a panful of olive oil and sea salt until they are shrunken and black. It´s said every tenth one is hot, but I find them a bit more frequently than that. And in between are the sweet, salty, blackened ones... to me, this is what the color green tastes like.

We have red, too. This morning, using fresh tomatoes and peppers and cucumber and onion, I made the second batch of gazpacho of the summer. Oooh it is GOOD this year! (It is a soft red color. But it doesn´t taste like red. The real red comes later...)

Yesterday afternoon we sat out on the patio under the umbrella and had sangria and talked about pesky things like ex-husbands and the fly infestation, and important things like which Camino path Deirdre oughtta take next. And who should come to the gate but Marianne.

If you´ve read this blog a while you know that Marianne is Irish, and she and her erstwhile English ex-guyfriend James were here in Moratinos when Paddy and I arrived. They were building an earth-plastered bio-friendly albergue we called The Alamo, until they went back to Ireland in December "for the winter" and were not seen again. (James went off to Thailand in the meantime. The Alamo went up for sale, with me as the DIY estate agent, seeing as I accidentally had the only Alamo key in the village.)

And yesterday afternoon Marianne came to the door for the first time in half a year. She stayed about four minutes.

She was breathless, in a mad hurry. James was waiting, she said. They only have til Thursday morning to clear out their old apartment and do whatever needs doing in the Alamo, she said. She handed back the copy of my old novel she´d borrowed, way back when. She did not sit down for a sangria or a chat. We still have the Alamo plants we took from there and resurrected. They still have a brand-new Mongolian Yurt tent stored in our barn. We´d like to buy their electric scooter, but they cannot find the key to start it. Unfinished details.
But she had to go, had to go, had to get the heck out. She wanted the Alamo key, I handed it over, and she fled. We haven´t heard anything since.

It was as if she was frightened for her life. It was disturbing and sad.

Last night, after gazpacho, I took Una for a spin in the gloaming. Out in the plaza was a card table and chairs, and Pin and Celestino, feasting. They had a couple of bottles of Celestino´s own rosé, and a nice salad from the garden, and a potful of rice and beans and little "cangrejos" they´d caught in the afternoon in the Rio Rioseco, over in San Nicolas. (Cangrejos are "river crabs," a big honkin´form of crayfish.) They gave me a little dish, and a glass, and we visited a little.

Pink wine, and bright red crabs. Shellfish -- lobsters, crabs, and all those poor crustaceans that go bright red when plunged into boiling water -- they are what Red tastes like.

Out of the darkness stepped two little French-speaking ladies... one French, one Swiss. They were trying to get to St. Nicolas before the refuge closed, and they weren´t going to make it. Long story short, Pin and Celestino fed them salad and cangrejos. I took them home, and they slept on the mattress in the salon. They´re traveling hard and rough, with a big gang of über-conservative Catholics. Four American priests along, in full drag too, they bragged.

The ladies slipped out before dawn. And through Moratinos all morning streamed their compatriates, praying the Our Father out loud in Latin and swinging their rosaries in step. And there among them, well-scrubbed and smiling and looking about 21 years old each, were their four black-robed Fathers.

Deirdre is off tomorrow, starting her second camino from right here at the Peaceable!
I asked her to pray through her trip for my Uncle Dale, who doesn´t have long to live. There´s something powerful about pilgrimage, they say.

Uncle Dale will find out.

thickening plots

Way lots happening, which I will tell you about forthwith: a trek over the mountains, a twilight dinner of river crabs out on the plaza, tarot cards, four soutaine-wearing priests, and a bizarre 3-minute flying visit from a panic-stricken old friend.

But I promised to help out with a new pilgrim guide to the Camino Ingles, and the first draft just arrived. Gotta get on that.

Watch this space!

Saturday, 19 July 2008

Golden Days

Paddy is gone out on his morning dog-walk, but Una Dog just now returned home on her own. She doesn´t like taking walks any more unless I go along, so she abandons Patrick and Tim out on the plain and walks herself back home. We leave the gate open for her.

These are happy, golden days. Summer is my favorite season, so full of birdsong and blooming flowers and lush colors. In July everything is so alive. We can hang wet laundry on the line and it dries in minutes. And if there´s no guest in the house, we can go prancing sans culottes out into the sunny morning patio and pick the day´s outfit fresh off the line!

Here at the Peaceable we are having a long run of wonderful visitors. Still fast asleep at 10 a.m. is Michael, an Episcopal deacon/seminarian from California who stayed up way late with me over the past two nights, trading yarns. He is so full of hope and expectation, even though he´s going to work in a church that´s so deeply divided against itself.

Michael is typical of our guests in that we only ever met in cyberspace before he showed up at the door. So far the Web and the Camino have conspired well. We haven´t had any psychos or crashing bores or slobs stay with us, and most of the guests are good company, if not always useful and helpful.

This one is downright visionary. It seems like I´ve met him somewhere before, and we´ve been talking, chatting and laughing like we´ve been friends forever. He bought good wine for dinner, and helped Paddy and I do some heavy lifting out back... we now have a chicken run! ( if we could figure out how to put up a useable gate.) He´s helping me think big, imagine all kinds of cool possibilities for our house and lives and village.

I am enjoying our pilgrims so much these days, nice, smart people blowing in and back out to the trail. Michael, too, is on his way out, on the afternoon train. I am sure we will see him again. He´s a keeper.

Una is asleep on the cool concrete in the entryway. It is still fresh and bright outside, but soon the afternoon sun will beat everything into quiet submission. Even the birds take a siesta in the middle of the afternoon. The only sounds are drones -- a distant tractor. A housefly circling round and round and round.

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Tough Truth and a 5-Day Funk

Plenty of pilgrim action here in the past few days. Soon as Gareth (the guy in the pic) left we had lovely young Couch Surfers  who´ve walked all the way from Holland, stop and stay with us. They are traveling cheaply, sleeping in fields and vineyards and construction sites. They hadn´t had showers in five days(!), and gave us a rundown on how their "personal funk" evolves as the days pass by unwashed. I was very glad they shared this information while sitting outdoors in the patio, with a stiff breeze blowing upwind. After ten days, "things start getting medieval," Christian said.  

We prefer Enlightenment, ourselves, and all the indoor plumbing that goes with it. They happily laundered their clothes and had hot showers, too.     

Soon as they rolled out, within an hour arrived Varena "Nirvana" Maringer, an Austrian friend I know from Santiagobis, a Camino website. What I did not know before was she is a Bodhissatva, an enlightened being! Her quick stop for a cup of tea was a high point in my summer so far... with such quiet, pointed wisdom she reminded me of how temporary everything is, and how silly I am to let myself be caught-up in my ego and plans and expectations.  

I needed reminding. I´d been brought up short the night before by one of you blog readers, someone who I´ve worked with and for in the past, someone who knew me when I was wrote news and ad copy daily, sometimes brilliantly.  He thinks the blog is sloppy and self-indulgent and "typical," and very much in need of editing. And he is a pro. He knows what he´s talking about.  Ow!  

Reading back a bit, (especially Sunday´s entry), I see he´s right. Messy, messy. I promise to do better.  Even though it really IS only a blog.   

Still I felt bad for a long time, wondering if I really have lost iy, fallen out of practice, etc. etc. And that´s when Verena showed up and told me it´s really all "just a dance of atoms." Thank you, Boddhisattva.   

We´re expecting a few more Enlightened Beings soon... Filipe and Dick and Deirdre, and whomever else washes up on this shore.

 Meantime, the hay-cutting continues, Tim Dog´s former owner came by to see if he can take Tim out hunting in August. Bob Canary´s made friends with a local sparrow, and the fly and mosquito population is booming, despite the barn swallows´ best efforts to gobble them all up.  We are trying to rig up a fenced chicken run, so green things may once again grow out in the orchard and the hens will stop staring longingly at us from the living-room window, pecking disconsolately on the glass. 

The excitement never ends! Thanks for all the commentary. I feel better now, but don´t stop.

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!

Thursday, 10 July 2008

Amber Waves

Life´s back to good again. If you want to phone I might even get the call. (There is a certain amount of liberation involved when you find yourself all twisted in knots over a mobile phone problem, then realize that, after all, nobody ever phones you! What are you so upset about, you silly git?)

Summer is my favorite time of year, and we have a fine pilgrim in residence, Gareth from Canterbury. (his blog is referred-to over to the right. he´s a hard-core pilg, he walked here from England!)

Someday he´ll be a Roman Catholic priest, having already inhabited several different Christian identities and roles... a lot like many of the rest of us, eh? For now he´s Just Another Pilgrim. The road is a great leveler: every sweaty, sunburned, blistered and worn-out pilg is the same at the end of the day, no matter how great or small he is back in "the real world." Another good reason for everyone to give Pilgrimage a shot.

Back here on the perimeter the neighbors are busy corrugating the fields and heaping up grain on the communal threshing floor, working into the wee hours to make enough grain to make a living and keep eating, planting, and farming for another year, doing the work their forefathers and foremothers did for the last thousand years or so, on this very site. The longer I live here, the more I admire these people.

If you see a farmer, say "thank you." Or give him a beer. Meantime, here are pictures!

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Telephone &%¿¿$&/(&?

this is an easy and quick way to tell anyone who might be trying to phone me that my two-month-old Vodafone "Sagen Simply" model sometime in the last couple of days had a battery meltdown. The acid et right through! So obviously I am phone-call free for a little while, while I wrangle with the fine, honest, and accommodating folks at Vodafone about replacing the whole shebang. (they are lying, thieving, obstructivating bastards so far, btw.)

If you want to reach me, call Paddy´s number at 664 539 188. He will answer, if he remembers to switch it on, and if it does not also go acidic. Maybe you ought to just email?

Life here is so interesting.

Sunday, 6 July 2008

International Harvest

...And finally, again, I return to my home and try to figure out where, between Detroit and Madrid, I left my brain.

My first meal back was a nice fat trout! Powerful thing, blogs. They make my wishes come true if I wait a little while.

On the face of it, not a lot has changed in Moratinos or at The Peaceable. The weeds are thicker and some are blooming. The harvest is in full swing now, with huge machines moaning over and back across each field, over and back, leaving behind them great swaths of straw. What a couple of weeks ago were silver-green flags have since turned into the famous Amber Waves of Grain. And now, with the nap cut short, they´re bolts of brown corduroy. The threshing floor is heaped with hills of grain, lots more than last year, but of lesser quality, I am told. (Farmers are never happy, you know.)

Once the grain is harvested and the straw cut and baled, we enter the two or three months of Brown, when the summer sun bakes the fields and dirt to a uniform golden dust, and the farmers go off to the beach to bake themselves pink. The next crop starts greening the ground in October, and the fields change from one green to the next through the next nine months. This is a true contrast to my homeland, where July, August and September are the wildest, most lush green ever imagined. Still, I will trade three months of brown and nine months of green for north America´s six months of green and six months of gray slushy drizzle.

The dogs had their usual hysteria when I arrived, both of them leaping and yodeling and clawing up my pantlegs with outrageous joy. I´ll admit I looked forward to that. It´s so easy to like someone who likes you, and these guys are so OBVIOUS!

And yes, I said "both of them." We are back to two dogs. On July 2, the Belgians returned from Santiago with their little Jack Russell terrier, having decided to not take Mimi home with them. But Mimi immediately turned on the charm, showed off all the dog tricks Una taught her (sit, shake hands, lie down, speak) and made a spectacle of being submissive to their terrier dog. And so by now she is chewing the legs off the furniture in a fashionable flat in Brussels. I wish her well. Two dogs is a lot, but three? OMG.

Still, the DogGods (not to be confused with Doggones, goddams or DadGums) insist otherwise. This morning, on the way to Mass, up the street where the Julis live, we saw a little black ghost of a puppy with huge stand-up ears. Edu told us it´s hanging around the highway bridge, coming down into town looking for scraps. No one wants it, it is too afraid to let anyone come near. It´ll go away in a day or two, Edu said, from hunger or from blunt force auto.

So of course we took a couple of handfuls of dog food out to the highway bridge after church and left it there. Ain´t humane, otherwise.

// break to bring in a pilgrim, a "spiritual Christ" from Germany named Rainer, who is sleeping in the blue room tonight. He was sent here by Jesus Buzarra, my Spanish hospitalero friend who is now hosting folks somewhere outside Burgos. He´s telling the good ones to stop here. Which I think is good. If someone named Jesus is sending strangers to your door, do you say no? //

The big spruce tree in the patio is heaving with sparrows, all of them with something important to say. A cool breeze is blowing, and the sunset makes the light go to a strange mackerel-pink shade. Paddy´s started giving fresh water to the birds each morning, from a pot placed up atop the wall next to the well. It is lovely to see the doves up there, they are so much like animated line drawings. The only jarring note is Paddy´s choice of water vessel. I have to wonder what the neighbors will think when they notice our chamber pot up there.

Paddy is very well. He is brown as a berry and smiling, made jolly by the load of fresh books and magazines brought from America. Today he wore a new pair of jeans to church, after wondering if they were too shockingly bright and clean! His son Matthew visited here during my absence, and the pair of them got busy working on the plants in the patio. I knew that eventually someone knowledgeable would come along to advise on this all-important matter, and evidently Matt is a wiz with the clippers. We still have lots to do with the wildly growing ground-cover, but at least we now know what should maybe stay and what should go. He did good. The roses are blooming like mad, and you can SEE them now! I am sad to have missed Matt, who is a real mensch, but I´m glad Paddy got some good face-time with his middle boy.

Here are some photos of people and things taken while I was still at home in America. Good faces all. Most of them are related to me... can you see any resemblance?