Saturday, 8 January 2011

Weighty Decisions

Somewhere down in the root of my being, I don´t believe in time.
I keep track of time only in a more-or-less fashion. Not the minutes-and-hours kind -- I haven´t worn a wristwatch in decades, not even when I worked with three daily deadlines. Keeping track of days and dates is about as micro-managed as I can get. Thankfully, Spain has a pretty loose grasp of time, too. I can tell we are coming to the end of one year and the start of another by the number of calendars accumulating on the nail in the kitchen wall.

We have wall-space in our house for a single calendar. Merchants give away stacks of free calendars each December, a low-cost goodwill gesture that gets their advertisements into households throughout the region. This year we have a marvellous array of them, from High Art to Vulgar Girly, and I must decide, somehow, which will make the cut.

First are the little desktop models. One came from Fertiberia, manufacturers of fertilizers, seeds, and agricultural chemicals. Our neighbor Esteban gave these out at the Vermut a couple of weeks ago -- his family runs the Fertiberia franchise in Sahagun. Another desktop model, a shiny folded pyramid, came in the mail last week from a new plumbing-and-heating outfit in Carrion de los Condes. In addition to the days of the weeks and months it tells me TreTak does solar hot water and construction projects.

I don´t need a desk calendar, because I almost never use my desk, because it is in the Salon. (It´s COLD in there in the winter, and in the summer it´s full of pilgrims.) But I want to keep track of the TreTak contact numbers. So when the calendar fell down behind the sofa I left it there. It´s not going anywhere, and this way I know where to find it when/if we get to the lower-kitchen plumbing re-do.

The rest are wall calendars, the kind we can really use.

The one we liked best is the Modigliani calendar, featuring a different Chinese-eyed portrait for each month. We actually bought this calendar, back in November at the Valladolid museum of contemporary art. We went there soon after losing Una, to soothe our hearts with art. It was not a successful outing. The museum was disappointing: lots of mediocre art in a bazillion-Euro restored white-elephant monastery complex packed to the capitals with surly art-history graduates. Our  emotions were still were too raw. The Modigliani calendar is what we salvaged.

We started the year with it, but after a week it is proving too artsy for daily use. The numbers on the dates are too tiny to be seen from across the room. And that is what a wall calendar is for.

St. Joseph and The Holy Child know that, and they glow at me from the calendar beneath the Modigliani. Their numbers are bold and black -- they have saints´ days, too, in red, and the phases of the moon with smug smiling moon-faces. They are beautifully old-fashioned, cheesy even in their soft-focus blonde curls. But.
But their calendar is two months at a time, and their picture does not change, and neither does the big 40-point type beneath them:
Supermercado TABOA
Especialidad en TERNERA GALLEGA

Much as I love their wholesome working-class charm, I don´t think I want them hanging around here for an entire year. Or an ad, even one for Galician Veal.

What´s a woman to do? There´s the Camino Cats 2011 Calendar, which arrived in the mail today from a thoughtful former pilgrim in Canada. It features nice amateur photos of cats he saw along his pilgrimage. Murphy is in there, in a typical pose (eating his dinner). I like it very well, but the numbers, alas, are artfully small. I shall put it upstairs in my room.

For sheer brass I considered for a few moments the 2011 Stihl "Chicas ´N Chainsaws" Calendar, a gift from Garaje Redondo, the Grease Boutique where we take our chainsaw for sharpening. I am not a fan of cheap soft-core porn, but I gotta admit I love this thing -- it is barely a calendar at all, the months and dates squeezed into a two-inch border beneath a glossy expanse of stiletto heels, push-up cleavage, and hydraulic hoses. Miss June is sprawled next to a swimming pool, apparently overcome by the pressure-washer coiled at her side. Miss November carelessly caresses a weed-wacker, dressed in a matching purple panties and pumps. (wherever she is, it is not November.)

By far the finest thing about the Stihl calendar is the warning label, printed in characteristically careful German: "The images do not show real-life working situations," it admonishes. "Before you use a Stihl device, read and strictly follow the safety instructions. Please wear proper protective clothing at all times."

Damn. I shall have to stop clearing brush while wearing my silver lamé bikini, I guess...

Like St. Joseph and the glowing Child Jesus, I have a hard time finding long-term lodgings for the Pneumatic Babes of Stihl. Not everybody who comes here will understand their heavy-metal charm. I will have to send them away. Except for Miss April. Miss April poses with a Stihl heavy-duty shop vacuum. I want one of those, and I will ask the good folk at Garaje Redondo to get one for me. Without photographic evidence, they will most likely tell me Stihl does not make shop vacuums -- "no se existe" ("it does not exist") being a favorite response to any request for items not presently on the shelf. (We burn through vacuums here at a terrible rate.)
(not to mention silver lamé bikinis...)

I may be the only person who has noticed there is a vacuum-cleaner in that picture at all.

All this said and written, I admit the calendar that holds the place of honor on the kitchen wall is one we bought -- a 5 Euro donation to the cluster of 12 little parish churches that comprise our deanery. Each page is a color shot of one of the scruffy adobe-and-brick sanctuaries -- Sto. Tomas of Moratinos is May. The days and dates are in bold black and red, with all the saints and moons duly noted. The big decider, the one thing no one else could offer, was the notes on who and where is having a fiesta that month: 24 June, San Roman de la Cuba. 26 June, Población de Arroyo. 29 June, Terradillos de los Templarios.

Respectable. Familiar. Supporting a good cause. Readable from across the room. 
And I never have to miss another party!


claire said...

Yes, your sanctuary calendar does sound like a winner :-)

45N93W said...

I can't say about Ms April, but Ms January is clearly overdressed by current Spanish standards. She is obviously inviting to a warm evening by the fireplace in the middle of winter and she has the firewood ready. How many pilgrims would say no? Please smile.

Pilgrim Nell said...

In the sixties a friends devout and elderly aunt supplemented her income by crocheting skimpy metallic bikinis for an up market Dublin boutique (export only). The sight of her 'sizing' the tiny discs of bikini tops against her own matronly form whilst quietly saying the rosary is etched in ones memory. Of course as children we were told that Aunt Dolly was 'crocheting doilies' and only found out the truth about that sizzling kitchen industry as adults....... I'm pretty sure Judy could root out the pattern or even some of her aunts old stock if you wanted it Reb the question is would you prefer gold or silver .....:>

AnnieSantiago said...

Oh! You didn't get the "Men On A Mission" calendar? I shall have to send you one! ::::joking... joking:::

Great post!

FrereRabit said...

Remind me to send you the Sanctuario de Burros calendar next year.

By the way, Queen Sofia of Spain is the official patroness of Spanish donkeys.

I expect to see that properly recognised at some point, by TV footage of Queen Sofia doing her bit for donkeys by lifting up their hooves and cleaning out the crap, or getting stuck in with the donk de-worming process; all of which would make a wonderful calendar but I don't think it will happen.

CaroleH said...

Sounds like an abundance of calendars in your neck of the woods. I find one about as much as I want to have , hanging around, reminding me of life passing..... But, that one is vitally important. Everything goes onto it, every appointment, birthday, etc and if it's not on the calendar it doesn't happen.

I can see your dilemma with different calendars serving different purposes. That "Cat" one would do it for me, good space for writing, plus clear enough dates (if you can read them from across the room)... but maybe not the ambience of Modigliani or chain saws!!!! You'll work it out.

Looking forward to checking them out in June.
Happy New Year. Carole