Tuesday, 13 January 2009

A Few of my Favorite Things (including the Steelers)

The sky is white, the ground is white with three inches of crunchy snow, even the air is white. All the neighbors are out shoving it around with brooms and shovels. They all are smiling, which is good to see - we never get such snow here! they say. But it is foggy too, so their smiles are lost in the blur of motion: theirs, and the fog´s, and mine as I walk by. The dogs run. They slide and twist and fall when the ice beneath the snow snatches away the friction we all so take for granted. They jump right back up onto their feet. I meant to do that! they seem to say.

Una limps even worse. She keeps going. Dogs are masters of Getting On With It. Today I love my dogs. Dogs are better than people, except for the lifespan issue. Dogs always break your heart after a few years.

But then people do, too. But people kinda smell better.

Today is full of softly fun things. When we came home I took a call from KDKA Pittsburgh, the big morning radio station in my home city in America. We talked for five minutes on the air, about how I can still be a Pittsburgh Steelers fan and live way the hell out here. The DJ called it "the middle of nowhere." I corrected him: This is the middle of Everywhere, man. I love Pittsburgh, and I always will. But this is better. Moratinos is better. Moratinos is my home.

It is the first live media I´ve done in more than two years, and I enjoyed it. I know the only reason they had me go on is I used to work with a KDKA-TV news crew when I was with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. It´s who you know, and who knows you. (and I think they can trust me not to just scream "WOOOOOO!" This is the default setting for football fans when an open microphone is in the vicinity.) Not that I had anything startling to tell them... I have a Steelers t-shirt (I wore it today, for the interview!) and we fly a little Steelers flag in our front window. But I really cannot be a true Steelers fan here because I can´t watch the games. Not without a television and a satellite dish and an expensive season subscription. I have to watch highlights after the fact, on our stuttery, low-bandwidth internet connection.

It´s not about football at all. It´s all pure, mindless tribalism. I´m on the frontier of The Steeler Nation. That gives me some kind of home identity, a built-in belonging, a brotherhood no matter where I roam. And if the team keeps winning these playoff games, roam is what we will do. We´ve found an Irish pub that broadcasts the Steelers live. It´s in Puerto del Sol, in the heart of Madrid. And yeah, we´ll go there to watch, if we gotta. Even if it´s on at midnight. You´d do the same, if you were from "Da Burgh." And that´s what I told The Radio Audience, except for the tribalism part. (People tuned into news radio at 6:30 a.m. are not looking for amateur sociology, I think.)

I think what I like best about fandom is hearing about my nephews, my sister´s two little boys who live in similar exile in rural Arkansas. They are Steelers maniacs. Mart sends pictures, and vivid descriptions of their wild cheers and livingroom replays during dramatic games... I love how much they love this game. And I love that they have a Home Team, the same one as mine!

Another great thing about this day is the food. I found a recipe from years ago, from the newsroom at The Toledo Blade, from a news assistant named Lillian Covarrubias, for Enchiladas. It is an amazingly simple recipe, and I just happened to have on hand everything it called-for -- thanks to gifts brought from New Mexico by our Sahagun newcomers Elyn and Gary. Real ancho chili. Manny´s green tomatillo sauce. Good tortillas, bought this week in Leon. I had no cheddar, but I think I did even better with some local sheep´s cheese... Dear readers, it was Heaven. This, I think, is my favorite food of all time.
God bless you, Lillian, wherever you are.

Then the sun came out. I opened a bottle of Prado Rey Cuvée 2006, from Ribero del Duero (I write this for Ryan´s sake.) It is delicious and rich and it is ALL MINE, because in January Patrick always goes On The Wagon. Which is nice, because I´ve laid in some very nice wine, and on my own I can make a single bottle last for two or three days.

Lest you think this is a day of utter self-indulgence, I interject the latest news on the hospitalero training front. Ivar the Norwegian IT god said if I get all the materials into shape, he will do the actual programming. Two other kindly blog readers stepped up and volunteered their services as IT demigods and experienced Moodle users, who will Beta-test this thing once it goes up. And so I am happily writing, rewriting, editing, and just generally keeping myself occupied for hours at a time! How much I love a worthwhile project, especially when it´s cold and snowy outside, and boredom snuffles outside the door like a three-legged cur.
For a little while there existed the possiblity I´d go to South Africa in the Spring and teach a gang of people there to be hospitaleros. But word came this morning that the Rand is way down against the euro, and there just isn´t the money... Oh well. We will, however, have a goodly gang of South Africans here in May, and some want to be trained Live during their visit. Someday, though, I plan to see giraffes and zebras, lions, elephants and dikdiks walking free in their native lands. Like on "Wild Kingdom." Except real, without the Mutual of Omaha ads.

Oh, the veterinarian stopped by, the one who gave Lola the Ill-Starred Donkey her first shots back in November. (they do housecalls here!) He came to collect the needle and vaccine, he said -- the one he told me to put in the fridge.

... The one I threw away weeks ago, figuring I no longer had a donkey so I no longer needed donkey vaccination materials. Turns out it wasn´t a disposable setup, but a real, hardcore, re-useable intravenous syringe. Forty Euros worth. Yikes.

But while he was here, and included in the price of admission, he had a look at Una´s limpety leg. (She hurt it two months ago, when she and Tim made a clumsy leap out of the car and Tim landed on her. We took her to the vet back then, and he´d said she´d get better on her own. She has not.) Una´s leg is dislocated at the hip, he said. He can´t fix it. It probably doesn´t hurt her. Just let her limp, he said. "This is why a dog has four legs. He only needs three. He´s got a spare," he said. "That´s why you see so many three-legged dogs around. They get along just fine."


Virginia said...

Three-legged dogs - my own Miss Zia does quite well on just three legs. When she walks she looks quite forlorn, but she generally runs like the wind and then yu cannot detect any flaws - the momentum helps her to be graceful.

Of course Miss Zia really does not miss her leg nor does it keep her from any challenge she sets her mind to, but humans who see her frequently moan and lament her missing leg. Zia just gives them a big sloppy dog-kiss and lopes off happily.

You sound happy Miss R...this is good...enjoy the wine.

In Sunny Santa Fe

claire said...

From my tropical stage, with the ocean turquoise, the soft crashing of the waves on the beach down below and the odd sounds around me of people working in the old town, reading your post, I am back in Moratinos, enjoying every second of it.

Thank you so very much for you. Do enjoy the good one. I somehow only drink wine when I am back in France. Wine and cheese and pâtés. Now, it is mangoes, avocadoes and rodaballo.

Oh, by the way, at first, I thought the Steelers were a band (and I was going to check it on iTunes... How little do I know!)

Amawalker said...

You WILL come to South Africa, and I WILL take you to see elephant (ndlovu) and giraffe (indlulamithi (which translates as 'over the trees')- and the big five, only a 2 1/4 hour drive from my home. I am so sad that it won't be this year Reb, but we are working on planning for next year.

Your Sis, Mart said...

My dearest Sis, you don't know the excitement my boys expressed when they realized that you mentioned them in your "Global Blog". They feel like STARS for the Steelers! I told them just how many people would be seeing their picture and reading about what great fans they are of the STEELERS! They are so proud and feel grateful that you mentioned them in your wonderful blog. Thank you for that. We love you so much!

Libby said...


Sorry, couldn't help myself, it's in my blood.

Gary White said...

Great photos, as usual. And we really enjoyed our time with you guys yesterday. (Honey Bunny was particularly grateful for the attention.)

Anonymous said...

Pictures of the surround area of The Peaceable are beautiful!
: )

Kiwi Nomad 2008 said...

Oh you have got to be kidding me with these snow photos!!!! As a June walker, who was usually keen to get going early-ish so it didn't get too hot while I was out on the trail, it just blows my mind to see the Meseta looking like this!!!!