|photo Laura Collins: The Metropolitan, Madrid|
We had a nice weekend, stayed at a fine hotel at a very reasonable price. We hiked around a good bit, had a visit with Candy, an old expat friend from New Orleans and Detroit (author of a Madrid guidebook!) and Paddy befriended a galgo at a restaurant terrazo in the Plaza Cervantes. We discussed our restaurant options at great length, but ended up eating forgettable Indian and Mexican meals... we were staying in a neighborhood unfamiliar to us. Had we been in our usual Madrid digs (Lavapies/Anton Martin) we´d have done much better, but hey. As Paddy likes to say, year-round, when we overspend: "It is Christmas, after all." (This may be the title of my autobiography.)
It was a worrisome weekend, what with my home football team, the Pittsburgh Steelers, being in the Superbowl on Sunday night, and Patrick turning 70 years old on Monday, and my mother in the hospital with an unknown prognosis. Only time would work us through these mortal coils, so that is why we decided to pursue the plans already in motion.
It was the right thing to do. My sister Beth, always the one to Get Things Done, kept me updated on Mom. And in the fullness of time we learned Mom has a strange and rare condition called pseudomyxoma, which isn´t quite cancer, but isn´t such a great thing to have... but Mom is not on the Fast Track to Heaven, at least not anytime really soon. And I will admit, when I got the news (in the Starbucks on Calle Atocha at 9 a.m. Monday) I found the nearest church and I got right down on my knees right up front and cried like a baby saying Thank You God Almighty. (In Spain, in the cities, the churches are open for this kind of business. How cool is that? The guy cleaning the windows came over and handed me a tissue and patted me on the back.)
And thank you friends, who pray so almighty strong. You already in December proved you can turn gray Galician winter into soft blue-sky April, just by saying "please." So please, don´t stop.
My mother went home from hospital on Monday. Once she mends from the big surgery the doctors will start a round of chemotherapy, to kill whatever might still be inside there. She has good health insurance. She is in Pittsburgh, an excellent place to be if you need a doctor. And she is on first-name terms with God Himself. She is a lot more cool about all this than I am. She makes me look like the weenie I am, all my Buddhism and faith and pilgrim-ism notwithstanding. I am eternally grateful for her. (I am well aware that someday, something will take her out. She is in her 70´s. Death happens to everybody. I just want a chance to get used to the idea, before it happens to her. )
Paddy and I came back yesterday on the morning train. Christina the nun had gone, and another pilg had arrived -- Oliver, a hospitalero from Germany. Like many pilgs, Oliver loves to talk, mostly about Oliver. He speaks many languages, he cooks very well (he made us a lovely simple dinner), when I went to bed at 8:30 or so he was still going at it. I slept for 12 hours straight. We had been up til 4 a.m. the night before, watching the Steelers crash and burn in the big game... Oh well. It is not always easy or cheap, keeping the faith -- especially from a time zone six hours ahead. But we watched the game, with a lively group of Steelers fans around us, and with Adam and Marta, too -- two Madrid-based musicians who´ve been part of the guitar scene here for the past two years. Another nice visit. We are not alone out here.
And so back we are in Moratinos. We have not seen a lot of local action yet -- only Esteban the Mayor, stopping his car to ask us how Mom is, how Madrid was (he is a blog reader too). The weather continues beautiful. The garlic is sprouting, the saffron, the struggling grass seeds in the Somme out back... it cannot last, but it is a beautiful break. I am very grateful. I dried the laundry outside today, on the clothesline. I turned the compost, and turned over the earth in the new garden beds.
Tomorrow we go to Palencia, to see about replacing Paddy´s stolen Resident Alien card. Then we will head southwest to Medina del Campo, to a place called Scooby. Where we will, hopefully, meet the next member of the Peaceable Crew... Scooby is a dog pound that specializes in abandoned greyhounds. They sent us an email on Friday, begging for help. Hare-hunting season is just ending, and Evil People all over the country are dumping their less-than-stellar hunting dogs at Scooby´s doorstep. 160 dogs in the past two weeks... can we take at least one? (there are other ways to contribute!)
And this evening, after sundown, Lulu stood in the patio and cried with loneliness. Maybe we can find a galgo who is more people-friendly, energetic enough to give Lulu a good run every morning, and maybe give her a bit more confidence around humans, a creature of her own kind to help keep the barn warm at night. (Lulu, our greyhound, is neurotically shy, an outcome of an abusive background.)
Four dogs is a lot of dogs. But somehow this seems right. It is downright exciting, really... A galgo, a gift from the campo, for people of the campo.
I will let you know soon how grateful I feel.