Friday, 8 April 2011

Pretty Rough

Last summer in the Promised Land. By Kim.
Got a great running start yesterday on the Camino Invierno Trail Guide update. Three and a half hours of work covered a good 100 kilometers of trail. It is delicious and nutritious, this kind of writing. It is easy, once I have all my facts in notebooks and binders alongside. I just sit here and reminisce, really... long as I plug in the mileage and the hostel phone numbers now and then. Such a treat.

This morning, though, was so incredibly blue-sky beautiful I let myself nest before I sat down to write. Paddy took the dogs out to the Promised Land on his own. I started laundry, I washed the floors (which exerts on dogs almost as strong a pull as wet cement). I pulled some lamb out of the freezer for dinner. I don´t know what kind of lamb it is. Time will tell.

I pulled weeds in the garden. I gave antibiotics to the ailing brown hen. I watered. I went to the little potting shed/bathroom off the patio to find some plant food, and was reminded the place is a shambles. And so I started on that.

I pulled out everything in there: 80-liter bags of potting soil, sacks of river rocks, unidentifiable roots and bulbs, broom handles, haircut-clippers, shampoo, crinkled old band-aids, hairbrushes. This was our bathroom for a year. This was all we had, from October 2006 to about May of 2008. We showered in this tiny tub, with its tiles ready to pop off, its fussy hot-water supply, its stylish curtain – I loved the way the colors combined on that discount-store shower curtain, bought somewhere outside Pittsburgh, emigrated to Spain.

This now-spider-infested curtain is why our towels are turquoise-blue and lime green and pink and pale yellow, and even violet now and then. The curtain showed me how these colors harmonize in such a cheerful way, even when the rest of the world was gray. That shower curtain helped me get by.

It is time, today, to throw it away. We no longer use it, or the shower. Instead I washed it.

It hangs now on the clothesline, alongside the second generation of towels it set in motion: olive green, robin´s-egg blue, navy. They move in the breeze,flags for an afternoon. They are dry now, but too pretty to take down.

This little bathroom was slapped-on and furnished sometime in the 1960´s, or maybe the Austin Powers 1970´s, with groovy chrome towel-bars and delta-wing mirrors and a NASA-inspired medicine cupboard. In the winter the pipes freeze inside the walls, and in spring they leak. The roof is failing. We have no real use for this bathroom any more. We have two new ones inside the house.

We maybe ought to tear it out, and just expand the patio a little, extend the existing plumbing to carry water in and out of the barn on the other side of the meter-thick wall of adobes.

Later. After my prayers are answered, and an architect or garden designer or Someone With A Vision shows up and tells me some startling, affordable, and wonderful thing to do with it. We are in need of architectural vision here. And maybe some spiritual vision, too. Our roles are changing. We ought to change our house to accommodate what is coming next. But we don´t know what that is.

Meantime, the little bathroom needed a serious spring cleaning. So I took an allergy pill and started moving out things.

First went the spiders. Then the dust. (Paddy swept, ceiling to floor, and did the initial hosing-out.)
We moved out the Far-Out Bathroom Furnishings Collection, the sacks of soil and stones, a hundred little plastic pots and saucers, fertilizer, insecticide, bleach, and toilet paper. I scrubbed down the walls with a brush, hosed them again, and swept gallons of soapy, dirty water out the door and down to the sewer drain. Eventually I put most of the stuff back in there, rearranged and humanized. A huge black bag of junk went to the dumper.

It still looks pretty rough in there.

It does not make for memorable blog copy, I know. What sticks in my mind about the whole operation is what I found inside the old chrome medicine cabinet.

In there, behind the clippers we once used to cut the hair of Paddy and Anselmo, (they said it was a fine job, but they both looked pretty rough), behind those dried-up bandages and dessicated deodorant sticks, were two bottles of perfume and a lipstick.

Byzance and Cool Water, each in its own blue glass vial. Real perfume, from back in the days when I wore  real scent, to a real job in a real life, dressed in real clothing. It was too expensive to throw away, so I brought it with me to our new home in Spain. Once here, I evidently forgot all about it. When your days are taken up with hoeing and hiking and just hanging out, no one cares much about your scent, unless you get downright stinky. 

The scent still is very strong and fine. I sprayed some Cool Water on my wrists, and have enjoyed a whiff now and then all day, ever since. I liked it then, I still like it. (Apparently little yellow butterflies like it too, as they are fluttering ever nearer to me as I write!)

And the lipstick. Chanel, in a long tube, a color with a French name: Rosier-des-something. I opened it up, twisted the screw, and it emerged intact, after all these winters and summers in the potting shed... Quality stuff. I put some on. I mashed my lips together and looked at my reflection in the chromium shimmer of the Austin Powers medicine cabinet. I expected, I guess, to see the same woman who last applied this lipstick to these lips.

She is gone. Lost somewhere out there on the trail to here.

My hair stood in tufts atop my head, the way the wind blowed it out in the fields, after my shower. My eyes were puffy, but gone are the dark circles that used to hang there. (I may have eye-bags, but they are not yet made of leather.) My cheeks are hollowed-out where they once were round. The crisply ironed button-down shirt is now a blue tee with the seams giving way.
I look pretty rough.
My red lips looked odd with the rest of my face, like I was eating cherries, or running a fever.

I smiled at myself.
I like me better this way.

I kept the scents, but threw away the lipstick. We have room for only one Rosie here, and she is a pesky adorable rat-dog.

Oh, the lamb, from the freezer. I looked at it, now that it´s thawed. It is a lamb´s head, skinless, his eyes still shiny. We´ve been eating the rest of this critter all winter, and now we have to look him in the eye. I do not think I have a recipe for this.

I think the dogs are in for a treat.

1 comment:

EileenHamer said...

I remember that bathroom, chilly and glamourless as it was. I loved that bathroom, it did it's job when I needed it. Be nice to that bathroom.

Maybe tear out the wall, use the water connections to make a fountain? Think Roman gardens.

Be well, you have become the beacon on the hill for many of us.