Weblog Commenting and Trackback by HaloScan.com rockpool in the kitchen: 09/01/2004 - 10/01/2004

Thursday, September 30, 2004

Update....Beloved came back in and apologised. Oh the lovely man. Rapprochement much more easily won than the Handsomes' was. But then the offence was less. Only the haze intensifies. STILL HOT.

Calima is here. Yellow haze almost hides volcanoes. The dry wind bangs the roof - you can see it dessicating the plants, feel it dessicating your skin. Granny's mild disaffection made more severe on returning from swimming and looking into fridge for cake to defrost - Handsome is coming to dinner tonight. He likes cake. Fridge unfortunately was unplugged after last week's electricity problem and not plugged back. Cakes all mouldy. More will have to be made for visitors in two weeks time. Jam not obviously affected but granny hasn't dared take too close a look. Beloved is in the doghouse, but refuses to accept all responsibility and has gone off in a huff. Cat is being more friendly, sitting by computer. (He was out all last night, obviously exhausted himself under the full moon and has slept all day. Just as well since he couldn't be allowed out anyway because of the hunters.)

Off to bake apples and make rosemary potatoes for Handsome's dinner. Beloved is cooking pork - afelia - which granny can't eat. It's HOT.

A hazy-clear morning: the hunters are out. I'm woken by the barking of our dogs and there they are, four or five of them. Plus dogs with their long legs and tails questing about. Pico my dog makes hysterical protest, from our back terrace, from down on the land. I yell "hijos de puta" from the terrace - I think they hear. Their dogs cluster under the back wall, one of them makes a high whimpering, which must be a sign of prey because a hunter comes over and with the dogs clustering round him hauls out a rabbit. Then all of them confer, the dogs running over our land, Pico rampaging, and finally, again, they go no further; they retreat. followed by the dogs.

I hate them. All the more because of researches on the internet yesterday on the law concerning cruelty to animals. None in Spain, it seems - alone in Europe - not least because it might effect bullfighting which is worth big money. PP refused to bring in legislation, but the present government, PSOE, might. But the worst sufferers, it seems, are the hunting-dogs 'galgos' - greyhounds - not so much like our greyhounds, much more thick-set and not only used for racing, evidently. Once they age they are brutally disposed of - starved - hung- burnt alive - buried alive. I won't go on. Even when young they are shut up/chained up all the time and underfed until the hunting season comes round again. At least then, have a good time, loping, tails waving, amiable, not injurious to anyone or anything, except rabbits.

On the other hand, the police here, Handsome says, did ban a man in their community from keeping a dog because he starved a previous one. So things can be done.

Handsome and Mrs well-reconciled. Beloved thinks Handsome got out of it too lightly. And tells him so. She might just find her pergola finished when she arrives home...

Little wind. It went round to the east yesterday but has swung back towards the north. Maybe or maybe or not we are in for a calima. Grannyp

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Sun creeping in. Forgot to add whizz kid computer (tall Spanish version of nerd) couldn't get fax to talk to computer either. So it wasn't just technologically-challenged granny; who only resents having wasted all those days on it. (Beloved claims her fault for being obsessional...) Fax should be returned. Problem is: Beloved has thrown away box....Ideas??

Search on net for animal welfare associations in Spain comes up with very little except objections to bull-fighting and protests in Andalucia because it has no laws against ill-treatment of dogs or any other animals. Nothing whatsoever is to be found in Canaries.

Distraction strategies now all exhausted. To work.

Animal welfare: or lack of it. Yesterday, around lunchtime, a hideous noise started. Beloved thought it must be a donkey, but Handsome had seen what was happening; man over at half-built house furiously belabouring the poor dog with a stick thicker than his arm. Handsome yelled at him and man yelled back, but did not resume. Dog so badly injured it could only crawl away. We debated what to do. Too late to do anything by then - animal shelter closed for day. This morning man stopped and told Handsome to mind his own business. Handsome retorts it is his business. Was it his dog? No? Had it bitten him? No. Had it bitten his child? No. Any more such he'll report it to the police. 'It's nothing to do with them.' Oh yes it is - Handsome on sure ground here. He's conferred with police pal who says indeed they would do something if it's reported to them. Impasse. Dog still presumably in bad state. Animals are always treated like shit here. Dogs on chains all day and night, never let out, fed scraps. Not fierce either - though they look large and threatening, they are pussy cats. If you talk to them they seem pathetically pleased not to say grateful for the attention.

Handsome's unson-in-law going on OK. But in state of shock because he could so easily have been dead. One young man who'll take life more seriously from now on. Story now is that he ran out from kebab shop to rescue his cousin who was on ground being kicked by three youths. Two more appeared from nowhere, one or two with knives. He put his arm up to protect his face - arm badly slashed; then got a knife in the back which punctured his lung and only just missed being fatal. Bit of his lung was cut out but the blade is still in there. Cousin last heard of in even worse state - had knife in head which has blown up like football -danger of encephalitis and god knows what damage. Not nice. Gang arrested though. One side effect at least is total reprochement between the Handsomes. Handsome has taken Mrs Handsome's clothes home. She will return when matters sorted out. Meantime she is minding her grandchildren back in Blackburn.

Another murky morning. Yesterday it was cloudy up here most of the day and hazy everywhere else. Today wind is light and fog possibly lifting, tho' still masking hill tops. No sign of sea or islands.

Attic woman's dog is loping around after toe operation complete with collar, and in stand-off with unimpressed marmalade cat. Granny has done power walk round land on new health and exercise regime. What are you doing? asks Beloved. Getting fit says Grannyp, who was not impressed at her puffing up hill yesterday. We'll see.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

The poor Handsomes from Blackburn: life is not being nice to them just now. Yesterday I did much hugging and admonishing of Mr H; he was contrite, a bit sad, all seemed prospectively fair. But then Mrs H phoned. Their unson-in-law, due to marry their daughter, mother of his two children, next year, is in intensive care in a hospital in Blackpool. He and a friend had gone to the aid of a late-night shopkeeper being harassed by a gang of youths; for which he got knifed in the stomach; the blade is still inside him. Heroism is a dangerous business. Back in England meanwhile, my brother, bereaved, divorcing, and trying to move house, still cannot sell his house... That's not too healthy either. Trivial life; and sad life.

I sit at the kitchen desk, writing this, looking out at gloomy sky and waiting for Mr H to appear with latest news. And for the computer man to ring up so I can meet him at the Texaco Garage. (Our place impossible to find otherwise; no maps here, not least.) Beloved is off getting money from the bank and taking Attic Woman's dog to vet to have his dew claws removed. Cleaner is cleaning, radio playing some kind of mournful early music - vocal...

The computer man has rung to say he's on his way, so I must be. More later. Granny p

Monday, September 27, 2004

Islands clear for the first time in days. Skies up here still murky, but wind light. Granny hauls herself out of bed with usual difficulty, and falls on coffee, kindly set up by Beloved.

Handsome has appeared, very doleful, in dark glasses. Has been hugged and reassured. All he wants, he says, is to know that Mrs H is OK. He has now gone off, still doleful, to get a piece for the cement mixer: Beloved is about to make rabbit with figs, for the freezer and next month's guests: the cat is pestering for more food but will not be allowed any till he has downed his meat doctored with the last of his anti-biotics: Granny will take herself for a shower, thereafter write the odd email, and thereafter - slowly and reluctantly thereafter, she is so disheartened by the whole thing - writer granny where are you ? - she will return to her book.

(Pondering meantime, after reading article in Guardian why British over 50's don't turn themselves into a power bloc as in the US of A. Because so many of the better heeled head for warmer places? Or because we're all too bloody polite? Or maybe just tired?) Granny pxx

Sunday, September 26, 2004

A short story. Granny's English mobile is besieged by calls for one Jackie, who has obligingly been spreading her number about, claiming it as her own. Callers include sad young man called William who thought Jackie was his girlfriend (she didn't think so, evidently,not least she went off with some of his stuff.) William took some convincing that Granny hadn't stolen girlfriend's phone, and occasionally rings still - for motherly advice. (Get yourself a nice girlfriend, William. Thankyou thankyou thankyou, love.) All a bit like a Raymond Carver short story Beloved daughter says. Maybe. Good copy or not though, it costs her, calls coming here are long distance calls twice over, paid for by Granny... Expat life.

Mrs Handsome is gone; Mr Handsome, whose plane arrives as hers takes off, rings up an hour later to ask if we know where she is. Beloved admits to taking her to the airport, but no more. Handsome wants to know if she took more than one piece of baggage (her suitcases are under a bed in the blue room.) Beloved who doesn't notice these things says he thinks so. (In fact she had 3 bits of hand baggage, one of which was only a plastic bag, the other her handbag.) All relevent locals have taken themselves off on a barbecue to avoid questioning. A contriteMr Handsome has arrived home with Janet Reger underwear for his wife, a not totally unforgiving Mrs H has left a gooseberry pie and a steak in the fridge. Though, obviously, there's hope for them yet, outcome will have to wait 2 weeks till Mrs H returns. Meantime Beloved and Granny will have to do some work on Mr. Who will be turning up here tomorrow.

Well, we'll see. Beloved has now gone swimming, but will return shortly to start cooking rabbit - shop-bought.

Hunting day, appropriately enough. Cat shut in. Ploy of releasing dogs to bark at hunters' questing, long-legged dogs, seems to be working. Hunters climb on wall, confer and go without investigating our land. Hunting kit consists of curious pale sage -coloured hat, distantly related to baseball cap but much floppier, and similar coloured bag slung across body. Sun out, wind up. Prospective tenant for studio did not turn up last night. Not altogether a pity. Granny P

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Wonders of technology. I don't think. Last night Beloved boiled something over on the stove; water got into the electrics of the hob and short circuited the entire downstairs circuit, servicing 2 fridges, the phone, computer. telly, digibox, cd player, reading lights etc etc. Couldn't watch box, read (for lack of light) listen to music etc etc, so we ended up going to bed very early. In morning all restored, fortunately. Still in bed, though, received frantic phonecall from ex-Beloved, accusing granny of plundering his savings account. Turned out actually to be her savings account which he'd been plundering 3 fold.....in fact had just emptied. All sorted amicably via friendly First Direct telephonists.....Don't know who more to blame - her for not noticing money going out, him for not having taken note when details of account first sent to him, by mistake, that it wasn't his..... 2 people for sure who didn't know quite what they were worth. They do now.

This took all morning though; plus sorting out lease for prospective tenant of studio. Turns out that under Spanish law, if someone stays for a year in any property they are automatically allowed a five year extension. Lucky we found this out in time.

Land grey as much as yellow. The dead vegetation. Sun brilliant. One rogue poppy came out just outside the gate. Don't know how it managed to in all this (normal for here) drought. But it did. Grannyp

Friday, September 24, 2004

Water! We got it. Turned out according to Felix our local whizz electrician/plumber that someone had turned the stopcock off at the gate. (This is where the water comes through from the supplier.) Either kids playing the fool, or the water company itself when it was fiddling about last month. So now the washing is being done and this morning Granny had a shower - what luxury! - and is nice to know again.

We have a working fax too, at last. Even if it still won't talk to the computer, and granny wasted nearly 3 days trying to sort that problem. But someone is coming to fix that and other electronic problems next week - we hope - thanks to intervention of friendly Gestoria (bureaucratic fixer to you) who also told us that the way to avoid death duties on a house here was to keep fact of death hidden for 5 years. Something easily got away with, it seems. How unlike our friendly UK probate system. Fancy Granny's ghost (not to mention her corpse) still owning property. I like it.

Otherwise life lowkey. Have minor throat bug and have spent most of last two days reading cheap literature. Beloved is making a fish stew. My cat has mysterious infection which has denuded the inside tops of his front legs. (he's been in a rubbish dump said the vet, administering anti-biotic. Quite possibly. This is a cat without inhibitions or morals, just what we need. Really.) Mrs Handsome is all set to leave home to give Mr Handsome pause for thought when he returns on Sunday. (We need him even if she doesn't. ) Attic woman been found importuning people in the street for cigarettes. While granny is now off to water (very) thirsty garden. Grannyp

Thursday, September 23, 2004

No water! It came on yesterday in the morning, then went off. Hasn't reappeared, though we were hopeful it would during the period (roughly 8am to midday) when the company (in theory) pumps water in from the mains. By the empty look of our 'aljibe' (water tank - its origin in Spanish clearly Arabic, from the Moorish occupation) it may not have been doing it as much as it should this week. Maybe we should blame the fiesta.

Last time we were left dry, after the extreme heat wave in late July, it turned out that no water had been pumped in for a week. Reasons for this: either a) that water co's electrical system had been burned out by heat; or b) because electricity company claimed water company had not paid its bill so turned off its power supply. (Truth still not forthcoming.) Even when this was remedied problems persisted because of resulting airlocks in system. Problem is that with no natural water here, all water supplies come from desalination plants and whatever we can manage to store from rainfall - of which virtually none between May and November. Increasing tourism doesn't help - system doesn't get upgraded to cope with it. (Same applies to electricity and phone supply. Our advisor on bureaucracy who has set up new office on the other side of the island has still not been given a phone line after a year. )

So we are dirty. Use water from jacuzzi for essential washing, and bottled water for cooking and drinking.

And I have some bug and am semi-grounded. Last night, mild feverishness resulted in dream that long-dead mother (over 40 years ago) was alive and well after all - and that I had never succeeded in separating from her. Woke up crying because of realisation that her being alive was only a dream.... Who says the force of loss ever truly wanes with time. (My mother would be 95 by now. She died aged 53 when I was 23.)
Granny p

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

No water! (But it came back.) Our dry island.....

Dolores. Fiesta wasn't doleful, ending with fireworks - golden showers making palm trees in the sky to match the ones all over the land, leaving behind that lovely clean-shit/sulphur smell and smoke lingering everywhere in the lights of the streets, as we walked back home in the dark. Roads for two days full of trucks bearing off fairground equipment, stalls etc. More doleful has been 4 days wrestling with technology - ie new fax - trying to connect it to computer, use it, etc. Only half successfully.

More doleful still, obviously, have been Mrs H's marital problems. Our fiesta party was less than should have been - half the Handsomes' community seems to be having marital problems too so didn't turn up. While Mrs H was endlessly on phone to Blackburn - to Mrs H's possible squeeze - who claimed she was in bath with her younger lover - to her daughter etc, etc. Various women including granny kept on disappearing to comfort her. And the two children present listened big-eared and tried to work out what was going on. They weren't told. Half the party (including Granny) didn't fancy Beloved's liver. Her black bean chile went down better. (Ssh.)

Weather shifted from mild rain on Saturday morning, to near calima yesterday and back again. Calm warm nights. Heavy dew sometimes. Island full of Spanish and Canarians come for fiesta and making a week of it. The surfing beach below the Farmara cliffs was fuller than we'd ever seen it. (Tide high for equinox came in and caught our clothes when we tried bathing yesterday.) Beloved exhausted, as is granny after day 1) propping up Mrs Handsome -she's probably going to disappear for a bit before Mr H reappears. giving him a shock - 2) making inventory for now let apartment and 3) (+ Mrs H) taking tearful attic woman out to lunch: she'd expected Beloved. 'I want to go home...' she kept saying. Meaning home with him. Sad sad sad.

Flies back. Cat covered in some inexplicable gunge. This has to be dealt with. Scissors: I think.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Dolores Festival. In Spanish means 'sorrows.' The festival itself was far from sorrowful - 0nly the camels looked unhappy but then they always do. Teenagers sexing up local dress - some of them flying round on the fairground whirling octopus topped by monster man. More processing towards Dolores herself, in her black and silver robe on a plinth of flowers. Horses, donkeys -tractors, tractors pulling boats, on which they were frying fish they were then dispensing to the crowds.....a gigantic harvest festival you could say....

Friday, September 17, 2004

Melancholy of aging was banished yesterday; taking Handsome to airport and spending therapeutic day cleaning about to be rented-out appartment, along with Beloved and Mrs Handsome. Nothing like a clean loo to restore spirits. (Forget great literary success.) Mrs Handsome is agitated by evidence of Handsome's attempts to remedy his male menopause (oh god, I'm 50, it's all downhill from here...) by being about to what she calls 'play away from home,' while on his trip to England. At the same time thankful to be shot of him for a whole 10 days. These are the vagaries of long marriage. We all, still, had a nice day together, sealed by gambas al aljillo at local restaurant looking at sea, while Mrs H flirted with waiter - who loved it - and fetched stones from the shore for her garden, with his encouragement.

Granny's own time-ridden melancholy returns in sleep. First dream of one dead and one live friend trying and failing to sell literary works, failure due, she thinks, to failure to present work properly - well-typed etc. Second dream, she takes back milk she has lent, in order to have some for her children in the morning; only to realise she know longer has those children around her any more. A burdened, sad awakening. All about age once more. I suppose, about coming to terms with these things - which stand of course for many others. Odd when you feel much as ever, when your body operates much as ever - apart from the odd bit of stiffness in the morning and a periodically anarchic gut. The evidence in the mirror of course is less kind. And will get unkinder. As I daresay Mr and Mrs H are discovering; for them too, what now? Whither? Inevitable decline aside.

No island this morning. Sunlight hazy, wind down. Kitchen filling with reek of Beloved's slowly cooking octopus on which to feed fiesta visitors tomorrow. A reek only one degree better than that of cooking up prawn shells, something else he's inclined to. Such are the trials of 'marriage' to an adventurous cook.

Today? More cleaning down at the sea - not much tho'. Taking Attic woman out for coffee to relieve Texan millionairess of fights over Attic woman's dog (also relieving poor dog) and East-End villain of having his cigars pinched. (A process Mrs H observed yesterday.) Further clearing up here, too, sorting out a new fax machine with instructions in Spanish; making two orange cakes and a vat of chilli beans for tomorrow. Penalty of Beloved's also being an inveterate entertainer. Help. Grannyp

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Craftywork etc. The Dolores fiesta 'Feria Artesania' up at Mancha Blanca, opened last night; crowded jollity- local musicians in costume, plus instruments, other locals eating nasty-smelling fish off paper plates; and endless stalls selling Canarian costumes for senores y senoras both. All exhibitors have to come from the Canarian y Islands, despite which many of the purveyors of other local goodies - herbal soaps, pottery, jewelry etc appear to be German. Camera crews from local television are interviewing someone whom Beloved declares must be be a local politician 'because he's all polished-looking; like a wind-up toy.'

They buy 1. A small Canarian doll for eldest granddaughter. 2. ******* for Beloved Daughter (in case she reads this). 3. Minorcan cheese in olive oil for themselves - and in honour of Granny's great great great Minorcan grandmother. (Minorca is not one of the Canary Islands, but never mind.) 5. Different kind of fig jam from granny's - claiming to be 'con leche' - for guests. 5. Large amounts of prettily wrapped but expensive soap - made by Germans of course - for all those people for whom impromptu Christmas presents needed. (Let's hope they don't disappear betweenwhiles; it happens.) Beloved contemplates some lethal-looking knives for butchering his pig, but decides to return later when he's learned the Spanish for 'stainless steel.' (Potentially rusting knives to be avoided.)

Wind and sun. Grannyp

Is grannyp a writer still? Lately, the only thing that enables her to answer 'yes' is keeping on doing it. Writing that is. Yet another kick in the teeth yesterday - the stories that in a sudden rage of creation last November made her feel like a real writer again got an email rejection from one of the few possible outlets for short stories these days. Ah well, short stories never her talent anyway, she comforts herself. Deleting the email is the first obvious course, considering how to improve said stories the second. Except she has a book in mind and that's more to the point. Entirely.

In all other respects yesterday a nice day - less muggy, clear, light brilliant, clouds scudding across living landscape, sea turquoise. An almost jolly meeting with attic woman, and interesting encounters with her two fellow residents. Beloved and granny, to their bemusement, are now providers of a care home for 3; attic woman - the obstreperous daughter of a very stick in the mud Midlands accountant; a wispyand demented Texan millionairess with missing teeth; an ex-East End pub landlord with God knows what criminal connections, no short-term memory, a taste for whisky and cigars (which attic woman tries to nick) and an eye for ladies of any age. ("'Why do you cover your legs?' he asks me.). A Barbara Windsor man, evidently - none of his sons will speak to him, we'e told. How could you invent such a combination? But there it is, what's more it means that, along with the longterm letting of the house next door, also signed and sealed yesterday, Beloved is more or less solvent again. A relief.

Back to pretending to be a writer. Grannyp

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Wind blows; and blows. Though at least it's clearer and sunnier and we can see the islands again. Nieves, the cleaner and I had a brief moan together this morning. At this time of year the halcyon days should havie arrived. Two months without much wind! But this year nothing happens as it should do.

It makes hanging the washing out an interesting exercise. Though not as interesting as when the only line was on the roof - the most wonderful place you could imagine for such a domestic task - sea one way, volcanoes the other. But not so wonderful when the wind snatched the sheet or duvet cover or whatever out of your hand as you applied the pegs and practically sent you floating skywards with it. Never found such a task adventurous before - this was - but too adventurous for me. Hence the new, more decorous, line down below.

Actually, hanging out washing is one of the better tasks. My ex-agent, Debbie, who has just built a house in Greece, in a spot also inclined to be windy, said that ridiculous as it was the thing she most liked there was hanging out the washing - going out with laundry basket on hip, fetching in the air-smelling dry stuff. I know what she means. I like it too. More than anything it ties you to generations on generations of women, though I guess not entirely to my bourgeouis forebears who left such pleasures to the servants; they I daresay, amid all the other myriad drudgeries found them much less pleasurable.

I reflect meanwhile on the wisdom of having opted for all white bed-linen. Never understood before the allure of the old ads - 'Persil makes whites whiter'. But look at me now, sighing at any sheets that emerge yellowish, and taking them back to apply hotter temperatures and bleach. As I sigh also, a little, for my single woman in a flat days, with minimal household tasks - here, in my 60s I'm back at it again. Big house, Beloved to keep sweet - admittedly his being a cook too helps - except for the mess he leaves, which is getting a little better thanks to my complaints. Back too to writing in snatched intervals, the way I did when my kids were little. Actually I'm not sure the current effort isn't going to be the better for it; it has had time to breathe. Life's little ironies.

Today, with the pressure of the cleaning coming, I did finally unpack my suitcase. My mother confessed, years ago, that once in her youth she left an unpacked suitcase under he bed for a whole year. So a week wasn't too bad.

Also the old washing machine has gone from the hall, taken to the dump by Handsome. It was probably the source of the cockroach I met in the hall last night - at least its pipe was. Pipe now blocked. Be praised. Cockroaches? yuk yuk yuk. Much worse than mice. Grannyp

Monday, September 13, 2004

Heavy heads... Sleeping pills last night. Attic woman is stealing whisky and cigars from housemate. We have bought a wardrobe. I am getting fat. A small spider is walking up and down the window, my cat has foraged for his own dinner - now all over the floor. It and he. They... You? are bored reading this? - who can blame you just to throw in an interrogative one. That's enough of pronouns. They are useful but uninteresting. And anyway they use Spanish pronouns here, I wish I did - better at least. Dionysio will sell us a pig soon. Beloved will set to with his little hatchet and granny will absent herself. So.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Another murky day. The landscape dry as it is is subtle as an English one - delicate monochrome shades: the grey half-built buildings that litter the landscape and never seem to progress fit better than usual. Yesterday I saw one side of an otherwise decorous white building as decreed by law has decided otherwise and has brown bits and yellowish walls, impression Swiss chalet landed up in somewhere like Bournemouth. I kind of cheer and groan, both.

The Dolores festival - celebrating our lady of sorrows who in 18?36 prevented the lava from the erupting volcanoes spreading over this part of the country - or so it's believed - is already sprouting barriers and no entry signs, covering all our little shortcuts. The hunters are out. Thursdays and Sundays our orange cat, Maurice, has to be shut inside; their rangy brown dogs kill cats yet cannot be kept off our land. Outrage. Though we can use our dogs to bark and drive the rabbits away. We do.

We didn't see the hunters this morning. Last night after minor argy-bargy relating to granny's disreputable past, and Beloved's (unnecessary) fear that she won't know what's good for her and be up and off in a year or two (at HER AGE??) neither of us could sleep; Beloved retired elsewhere, Granny after vainly tossing and turning finished the last eighty pages of the Israeli book - about the suicide of the writer's mother - which left her spooked and sad. Beloved also tossed in vain. After breakfast he and granny retired to bed to try again - successfully - they got 4 hours or so. On the strength of which they decided it was a holiday and went to the usual beach beyond Playa Blanca - full of people on real holidays, displaying their bulges to the world. Beach alas has sprouted a jetty full of pedaloes etc, and a man with a parasol ready to take orders. In vain today, so maybe it will all go away again soon. We hope so.

Afterwards, still in holiday mood we had gambas al ajillo and salad and beer at a cafe alongside.

The terns are back from their breeding places. Yesterday there was whimbrel on the salt marsh ditto. Alas, the flies are back too and Granny is covered in bites from something or other. Despite grey it is muggy even up here. Heigh ho.

Oh. And the paper aeroplane dangling from phone wires en route to the sports centre seems to have met its end at last. Heigh ho again. Granny p

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Stayed in bed this morning to read; Beloved brings coffee while I immerse myself in the bloody fight for the Jewish state - seen from inside. When I finally surface and go into the bathroom, a hoopoe is sitting straight below me on the railings. He flirts up his ridiculous crest and then loops away - his black and white striped back and wings scalloped and decorative like cloth. Another hoopoe is sitting on the far wall. This is a GOOD start to the day. In which, still better, I have been alone since half past ten - now quarter to three; cleaning the kitchen talking to my Ozzie sister who is about to represent Australia in the senior's dragon boat - to her surprise as well as mine. She is about to go to bed; I to spend my day doing this and that.

Hazy. Wind down but getting up again; the sun is coming out a little. It's due to be windy. AGAIN. The trade winds persist this year, but then they started late. Next week is the Dolores festival, for which Beloved insists on holding a party. Not my thing. But I will, dutifully make a vat of black bean chilli. A change from figs, for sure. we will have our usual collection of Canarian, spanish and Brit I daresay. Beloved is no more sociable really, but he does love the cooking and doing of it. Not like GrannyP...

Friday, September 10, 2004

Everything has been frenetic till today. Yesterday I took Beloved to visit the attic woman in hospital much against his will - she was after all coming out today. It was different hospital which we failed to find, he refused to look further. So all we did was shop. And look at things like microwaves. Boring. No time to swim. But I did make another fig compote. What excitement.

Today much more normal. In morning Handsome gets on with the shed, his head appearing over the wall from time to time; Beloved works on his book, leaving kitchen to me where I sort washing, dare look at the last chapters of the book to see where I go next and fiddle around on computer. Beloved gets us his bread, local cheese, Fuerteventura tomatoes which we eat in relative but companionable silence on the back terrace serenaded by building sounds from Handsome. After lunch continue to read the Israeli book, more and more enthralling and more and identified with; after that we swim and run the dogs on the salt marsh. Sea right out - small birds, couple of flying ones I can't identify, an egret and a heron - old man heron, granny thinks; egrets don't have the gravitas. Dogs happy with run, except that Beloved's runs away as usual. Also we are plagued by invisible and bity flies; I think I must be developing a rash or something, but Beloved is suffering the same thing. Now I'm about to cook - my turn; radicchio and prawn risotto; the stock is cooking now. All this is normal life here - the excitements are in the head; mine a long way away at the moment, in 1940's Jerusalem where they too, like me, read avidly. (Beloved grunts when I tell him this.)

Cloudy up here now, but humid and sticky despite wind. Flies are back. I've felt heavy headed all day. Grannyp

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Home again. Looking out of the plane window as we touched down with usual sense of dismay - not to say exile - accompanied by unsought smile of pleasure at prospect of seeing Beloved - he preceded me by four days, giving me some space and separate time with grandchildren; neither of these unwelcome. But still the smile of pleasure at being back with him arrives, along with the ambivalence - the sense of loss.

After two years here though, I begin to see how the year turns. Able to say soon it will be Dolores- or Carnival- soon it will start to rain - soon comes the grape harvest. This is I like. The utter dryness here is therefore expected of course; another cause of wrench tho' now, because England after all the rain - enough of which fell on us, though we were lucky, on the whole - was so lush and green in the sun of a late summer which arrived the last few days and brought everyone out into the air. For the rest in my head a haze of water and lake and hill and rain and sun and the A68 up and down which we drove every day to the Edinburgh Festival and a mishmash of music and dance and theatre with which we crammed ourselves to make up for the derth of such things here. And in which Beloved and I discovered more aesthetic pleasures in common than I would have expected. All of this latter overshadowed perhaps by his remark as we looked at Las Meninas in Madrid on our way out. 'That mirror - I can imagine we ought to be looking at ourselves in it...' which has had me thinking ever since.

I haven't even walked round our land yet; no time. Birds are few; flowers non-existant apart from garden-nurtured ones. My citrus trees leaves have survived but look parched - no doubt because there was another Calima. None of the lemons made it. One fig tree is finished, the other turning out a few much smaller fruit which I must now process. The sun is out. The wind is still blowing, though it should diminish soon. This morning was taken up by a long discussion down at a sea-side cafe by the attic woman's house - wearisome - about arrangements for her; currently she's in hospital after breaking her hip and driving everyone mad there too. Came away with usual sense of the weight of family matters - Beloved's. Being away is an escape. And a relief. For him especially; but his burden is, of course, through electing to be here with him mine too. No point in complaining. Just the smallest and faintest of sighs.

I'm reading the ultimate family book though, a memoir, fiction, lifestory, of an Israeli writer friend; complete with loving, not to say hyperbolic inscription made by latter at the book's launch party. Beloved hasn't yet seen this. (Um.) Book wonderful and set to take up every spare minute for a while. Reminding me that some exiles are obligatory. So why should I complain? I don't, mostly. Especially won't once writing again.

Beloved off swimming and running dogs. I will accompany him tomorrow, so gradually taking up pace of life here again. Not unwelcome, I think. Mixed feelings are no more than normal re-entry problems.

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