Dinner at Home

Jerry cooked dinner tonight.  (And I cleaned up.)  We had pasta and chicken in pesto sauce.  I was about to take a picture of our meal as we sat down for dinner when IKEA showed up with a delivery.  It only took a few minutes, but I sat back down, inhaled my food, and then remembered that I had wanted to take a picture.

If you need a food fix, I’ve included a slightly blurry shot of last night’s Leaning Tower of Caprese salad.  It was even better than it looked.  Plump, sweet tomato that tasted like it had been grown in South Dakota (where I’ve had the best tomatoes).  Mozarella unlike any I’ve ever had before.  And luscious mint that Jerry accidently swallowed whole, causing him to cough and sputter and requiring me to run inside and explain in surprisingly good hurried Spanish what he had done and that I needed some bread.  I’m so glad we had hierbabuena (mint) ice cream at Carmela in July.  That’s when I finally learned to remember the word “hierbabuena”; otherwise, who knows how things might have turned out last night.  Anyway, it was a pleasure to sit in our own dining room and eat a real meal tonight. (CORRECTION AFTER POST-TIME:  That’s, of course, basil.  The mint came from Jerry’s mojito!)

Oddly, we chose to have dinner at 7:30.  Like Americans.  We will definitely be sure to not make a habit of that.  (The IKEA delivery guys thought we were a bit odd; I think the early dining was the reason, but I could be wrong.) We’re going to head out later for a coffee or something just to stay on Spanish time.  But, breakfast and dinner at home today.  I’m proud of us.

THE ALCOVE AND THE FOYER.  ALL I SEE IS MESS.  A BIT ANAL-RETENTIVE, PERHAPS?

We had gone back to IKEA this morning to buy what we hope will be the last pieces of furniture we’ll need.  Another bookcase, more storage and work surface for me, file cabinets, and some other items.  My mood then crashed and I spent a good part of the afternoon napping, reading sad world and US news on the Web, reading beautifully written and very moving blog posts by others that brought tears to my eyes.  Just feeling a little deficient today and wallowing in it.  Jerry’s allergies have been active and his ear has been clogged and bothering him for more than a week.  Nothing serious, but annoying and unpleasant for him and that saps his energy and enthusiasm.

LOTS MORE TO BE DONE.  BUT AT LEAST WE CAN SIT DOWN.

I need to assemble furniture tomorrow and get organized.  That always helps.  It’s making me a little crazy that there are framed things sitting on the floor, leaning against walls, and without homes.  They’ve been here since Wednesday.  Why aren’t they all in their places?

WELL, MAYBE NOT AS MUCH OF A MESS AS I’M FEELING.

Next comes joining the local gym.  That helps, too.  And then finding someplace to volunteer (but probably not working a telephone helpline).

Casa Olivia de Lopez and Dining Out

OLIVIA DE LOPEZ, EN SEVILLA

Olivia de Lopez arrived safely in Sevilla and has been placed on the wall in our entry foyer.  A plaque will be produced (we hope by a local tile artisan in Triana)  to officially dedicate our home to Olivia de Lopez but it is already known (to us at least) as “Casa Olivia de Lopez.”  If you don’t know about Olivia, be sure to click on her name anywhere in this paragraph to connect with the earlier post that tells of Olivia’s fascinating origins.

EATING OUT
We complained for nearly two months that we were FORCED to eat out every meal because we were living in a hotel.  We’ve now been in our apartment two weeks.  We eat partial breakfasts at home and then go downstairs to El Sanedrin for coffee and tostadas.  We have not yet had even a portion of a lunch or dinner at home.  So, Jerry suggested that, starting Monday, we eat at home more than we eat out — especially since every dinner out is topped off with ice cream for the walk home.  I agreed but, in response, I suggested we put away all the crap that is covering the kitchen counters.  I will take that task back from Jerry (which I enjoy anyway… organizing!) but it means that, since I do none of the cooking, Jerry will spend the next year asking me where everything is… And I will not remember.  I have a tendency to put things away in safe places.  They remain safe even from me.

REVUELTO CON BACALAO (COD SCRAMBLE)  

Today, true to tradition, we headed downstairs to El Sanedrín. But we only had café con leche, having had breakfast in the house.  One meal down.  Two to go.  After working around the apartment for several hours, we went back downstairs and across the street to Amarillo Albero, another very good tapas bar.  We had excellent paella and another exceptional “revuelto” (basically a “scramble”).  This one had among other things, eggs, onions, and bacalao (cod).  Delicious.  I still haven’t cleared off the kitchen counters.  In my defense, I emptied 15 book boxes and Jerry and I together hung lots more stuff on the walls.  More photos are soon to come.

BROCHETTA DE POLLO (SKEWERED CHICKEN)

Saturday night, at around 9:45, we headed over to La Alameda de Hercules for dinner, intending to have more of that amazing pizza.  But when we got there, we discovered the city was hosting a concert in the square.  The action was directly opposite La Laconda, our little Italian restaurant and pizza place.  I’m sorry to report that headbanger music is not conducive to a quiet dinner and conversation.  Jerry and I surprisingly still like talking to each other.  So we headed back to the south end of the square, where we could hear ourselves think and we enjoyed another delicious dinner at Cafe La Alameda.  I didn’t have my camera with me, but my new phone (an HTC Wildfire – Android) does a surprisingly decent job (used for all three food photos in this post).

GRATINATAS DE PATATAS CON JAMON

We had chicken skewers, salmon and white asparagus, and an excellent potato/cheese/Iberian ham dish.  We were looking forward to their ensaladilla rusa and our favorite tuna dish, but they were out of both.  The server, who recognizes us and greets us like neighbors, commented that the square and restaurant were mobbed this evening and they ran out of many items much earlier than usual.  She went on to say (all in Spanish) that the foreigners eat so early!  She said it very kindly, more perplexed than critical.

We were enormously flattered that she didn’t lump us in with “the foreigners.”  I guess this means we’re really home.

Well Hung… For Starters

Our grandfather clock has been re-assembled and is running beautifully.  (Like clockwork?)  Our antique cabinet has been bolted to the wall and filled with glassware — antique and contemporary.  We’ve begun decorating the walls.  Two large, antique mirrors are up.  And Jerry’s great-great-grandfather, John Fairfield Lowell, has pride of place.  We’ll now start lightening the mood with some (well-hung) art and sconces.  I can’t wait to start buying plants.  Jerry hasn’t relinquished his control of the power drill (no hammering nails into the concrete walls).  I think he’s afraid I’ll get drill-happy and leave seven holes behind each item I hang.  He’s probably right.  I like to “eyeball” — something else I inherited from my father.  The major difference: I eyeball, hang, eyeball, move, eyeball, move… until I’m satisfied.  My father would eyeball, hang, and that was that.  (But, I do sometimes measure.)

VIOLA’S HUSBAND, JOHN FAIRFIELD LOWELL.
THE GRANDFATHER CLOCK.  THE FIRST PIECE WE BOUGHT TOGETHER.
PAINE FURNITURE CO., BOSTON, 1981.

It makes me so happy to be getting settled and to be enjoying all the memories these personal items revive.  We have easily less than 5 percent of what we used to have.  I know we could live without these remaining things, but not without the memories.

NOT FINISHED, BUT AT LEAST MORE SETTLED.
WE FOUND THE ANTIQUE CABINET IN ESSEX, MASSACHUSETTS, 1982.

No land line yet.  No television (although we can at least use the DVD player).  But, we’ve got a lightning-quick internet connection (much faster than what we had in Irvine), large computer monitors instead of our puny laptop screens, and we got to eat breakfast with real silverware this morning (no more plastic spoons).  So mature.

Jerry is a Genius and I Love Him

MY CAFÉ CON LECHE.

The kitchen is still a mess; the counters are covered with things that haven’t yet found their new places.  So, this morning, I had a quick bowl of yogurt and fruit, Jerry had a quick bowl of cereal, and we headed downstairs to El Sanedrín for a more relaxed breakfast. (El Sanedrín is the cafe/bar to the right of our front door; Dos de Mayo is the tapas bar to the left.)  I had a half serving of tostada, Iberian ham, their exceptional local olive oil, and tomato puree.  Jerry had an entire serving (“of course,” he says) of tostada with marmalade and butter, and a glass of fresh-squeezed orange juice.  After breakfast,  Jerry went grocery shopping and I came back upstairs to continue to organize, do laundry, and just get settled.

MY TOSTADA.

When Jerry got back from Mercadona, he unpacked the groceries and we went to Dos de Mayo for lunch, which was delicious — beautiful battered and fried (OK, not the healthiest choice) langostinos and a beans and fish tapa that I ordered because Jerry thought it looked good.  (I knew I would hate it, but I wanted him to be happy.)  Well, it was delicious and I was happier than he was.

We then came back upstairs and Jerry sat down to see if he could figure out our connectivity problems before having to call Vodafone again.  I headed back out to run a few errands.  I returned home less than an hour later and Jerry opened the door before I could turn my key in the lock.  He was beaming.

CREPE MYRTLE ACROSS THE PLAZA.  ALICE IS HERE!

“It’s working!  Sit down at your computer and see.”  The router currently sits in the alcove between the foyer and the living room.  My bedroom is almost as far away as you can get in the apartment and there are several thick concrete walls between.  We walked down the long hall.  I sat down at my desk.  I clicked on Firefox.  And, in a heartbeat, I was connected.  I clicked on my desktop email and all my new messages appeared.  Jerry had figured it out without even phoning Vodafone a second time.  I already knew he was a genius.  I already knew I loved him.  But, well, he is and I do.

OUR COAT RACK— PURCHASED IN WASHINGTON, D.C. IN 1984 — WAS MADE FOR THIS SPACE.
ONCE AGAIN, A PLACE TO HANG OUR HATS.  (NOW WE HAVE TO BUY HATS.)

If The Truck Fits

We have our stuff!  Today’s truck fit down every neighborhood street… but one.  And that street was the result of a wrong turn on the part of the driver (which added an extra hour to the trip). Sevilla is not easy to navigate.

BEFORE ALL THE BOXES WERE EMPTIED.
We paid for packing and unpacking — in advance.  But no one told the final delivery company that we had paid for unpacking.  And, since the unpacking money hadn’t been shared with the final delivery company, they wouldn’t unpack for us.  We’ll battle that out with our original company. We certainly wouldn’t recommend them, but it was still worth the ENORMOUS difference in cost to go with the cheaper (although obviously poorer quality) shipper.
I unpacked today while the two very nice and competent delivery guys brought the stuff up.  They agreed to haul away any boxes and packing materials that I had ready to go when they finished their work.  I had all but six boxes remaining by the time they left, and I emptied those and hauled that stuff down on my own a couple of hours later.

THE 1870-SOMETHING ENGLISH PUB TABLE.  PURCHASED SOMEWHERE IN
THE NORTHEASTERN USA IN THE 1980s. SHIPPED TO SPAIN VIA ENGLAND IN 2011.

Even amid all the mess, we love the way things are looking.  Seeing our stuff made us both feel immediately “home.”  Even our IKEA furniture now feels like ours and not like we are living in some sterile, furnished apartment.
Given how much “stuff” we got rid of before leaving the United States, it’s amazing how much “stuff” we still have! 

JUST BEFORE THAT LAST BOX (CENTER) WAS UNPACKED THIS AFTERNOON.
RIGHT FOREGROUND: ONE OF TWO TUBS OF CHRISTMAS DECORATIONS.

We have lots of wall space and I was happy to see that we shipped a lot more things for the walls than I had realized.  I love to hang pictures, mirrors, sconces, etc.  If I don’t like the position (say I think it would be better one inch to the left or a half-inch lower), I just pull out the hook and move it. Lots of patching gets done before I move.  These walls are concrete.  I’m going to have to adjust my mode of operation.  (Jerry will be greatly relieved.)
VODAFONE — INTERNET AND LANDLINE
While I worked with the movers, Jerry worked with Vodafone. It was exactly as we had suspected.  Telefonica simply got things ready for Vodafone to complete the work.  Too bad no one told us that’s how it works!  But, Jerry got great help today from Vodafone and was told we’d receive three text messages with different information.  The final message would provide our landline phone number.  Jerry was told to simply follow the instructions in the first two messages to get the internet working the way it should.  We received the first two messages.  Jerry did as instructed.  It did not work.  He will call Vodafone again in the morning.
DIGITAL+
I sent a very polite complaint email to Digital+ after my unhappy experience with the installer and my appalling phone conversation with customer service.  I received two very gracious and very apologetic calls from Digital+ today.  A new installer will be here in the next few days (they will call to schedule) to install our satellite dish (antenna) and get our TV channels working.
It’s been a very productive week… and it’s only Wednesday!  But, someone needs to tell me to slow down.  I want all the pictures hung tomorrow.