Real Good Salad

A few years ago, San Geraldo’s youngest sister (he’s got two) and her daughter went through Alice’s (San Geraldo’s mother’s) recipe box, lovingly photocopying onto card stock the fronts and backs of every recipe. They then gave a boxed set to Jerry and another boxed set to Linda. Some recipes are wonderful (her banana bread and her sour cream/raisin pie, for example). Some are entertaining, like five-can hot dish. Most, surprisingly, taste real good, as one might say in South Dakota.

Well, today, while looking for a new potato salad recipe, San Geraldo discovered The real good recipe. It’s on a double-size card, folded in half. On the outside is Alice’s standard recipe card picture with “From the Kitchen of Alice.” On the blank line provided for the recipe name, Alice wrote “Real good salad.” Jerry had a real good laugh and then opened the card to discover that Alice wasn’t the one who gave it that name. The recipe appears to have been cut out of a magazine and taped to the card. The name of the recipe is in fact “REAL GOOD SALAD.”

I know for certain My-Mother-The-Dowager-Duchess will feel just a little bit ill simply by reading this recipe.  But I know the rest of you will not want to wait one day to try it out for yourselves. I mean, it’s real good.

It’s Simple!

Last week, we went to the Foreigners Office to get information on our awaited residency card renewals (submitted in June). We were told that we were within the normal time range. Since I plan to visit the Dowager Duchess in the meantime, I asked what I need to do to ensure that I will be allowed back into Spain (without a current card). It went like this:

The guy at the desk was very nice and said I needed a re-entry application. He said I could only get that form from the woman at the other desk. I gasped. It was La Rubia (“The Blond” — the foul bureaucrat we had to deal with last year when we arrived in Sevilla). So, we waited in line for La Rubia, who San Geraldo noticed was being consistently nasty to everyone who approached her desk. I made excuses for her. Then it was our turn. Before I even said why we were there, she saw the copies of the renewal forms (already processed) in my hand and pointed to the information desk telling me to talk to him. She called, “Next.” I said, firmly, “I already spoke with him and he told me I need to get a re-entry application from you.” She went through files, gave me three forms, and in rapid Andalusian Spanish told me what to do. I told her my Spanish was a bit slow and I asked her to clarify next steps. She flourished everything at me and said, still in her rushed, Andalusian Spanish, “It’s simple!” She told me to pay at the bank with one form (I had already understood that) and then go to the police department with everything. “The police?” I asked. “Yes. It’s simple!” she muttered. She again looked behind me and called, “Next!”

JUST OUTSIDE THE GATES OF MARIA LUISA PARK AND THE PLAZA DE ESPAÑA.
I WAS SO TEMPTED TO STOP FOR A DRINK.

Once we were home, San Geraldo went online and read that I could take the forms to any police station. I went to the bank Tuesday and paid my 10 euros. That was simple. I then went to the nearest police station, a new and beautiful building on La Alameda. The very pleasant cop looked at my paperwork and told me only one station in Sevilla did that; I needed to go to the police in Los Remedios. On a good day, that’s at least a 35-minute walk. We’re not having good days right now. Yesterday was over 110F. Also, it’s August. They’re not open in the afternoon and it was already 12:30. It had become a little less simple. But today was supposed to be significantly cooler (only about 98F), so I’d get an early start and all would be fine.

HOW HOT WAS IT?  SEVILLA ERECTS GIANT AWNINGS ALL OVER TOWN TO PROVIDE
SOME SMALL RELIEF FROM THE SUMMER SUN. THIS IS JUST A FEW BLOCKS FROM OUR HOUSE.

This morning after breakfast, I took a cab to Los Remedios. When I entered, a very pleasant woman met me in the hall and I showed her what I had. She said, no problem, take a seat. About 10 minutes later a man came out. He smelled like booze but (or perhaps, therefore) he was also very pleasant. I showed him what I had. He said I needed to go to the office where I started my renewal process in Plaza de España. I told him they said I needed to go to the police and that the police in La Alameda said I needed to go here. He said, no, not for this. I tried every way I could — without flat out saying, “You’re drunk! Do you even know what you’re talking about?!?” — to confirm that his information was correct. And then I politely left the office. Simple, my ass!

COLOMBIA IS IN AMERICA, TOO
Before I spoke with the boozer, I listened to another staff person (sober and very kind) trying to assist the woman who had arrived just before me. She had brought in a document signed by her husband who was from Colombia. I heard the staff person explain that the document was not the correct one. It was for citizens of the United States of America. She snapped, “Colombia is in America!” He said, “No. Colombia is in South America.” “Exactly,” she replied. He continued, “The United States of America is in North America. And this form is only for citizens of the United States of America.” She said, “It’s all America! It’s one continent. Like Europe.” “Well, no,” he said. But she was insistent and continued, “Spain is in Europe. Colombia is in America. Brazil is in America.” The poor man simply smiled and asked her to have a seat. When I left, the woman was on the phone with her husband, ranting, “These people don’t know basic geography.” This all occurred in Spanish and I understood every word. I wanted to tell her how proud I was (and that she needed to get a different form for her husband to sign), but I thought better of it.

BACK TO SIMPLE
I took a cab to the renewal office in Plaza de España. I didn’t even have to wait to speak with someone. I was told I needed to go the other end of Plaza de España to the Foreigners Office (remember, this was the Renewal Office). I said, “Do I have to? I really like this office so much better.” The man at the desk laughed and said, “I wouldn’t want to go there either. I don’t even want to work in that office.” But, off I went. I waited in line and was hugely relieved to not see La Rubia sitting at one of the two desks. I showed  my paperwork and I was given a number and sent to the office across the hall, where I sat down to wait.

Although we all had numbers, no numbers were called (the machine is in another room), so we self-policed. I waited just a few minutes before being waved over to a desk. I told the man why I was there. He asked a question and I answered it. I apologized that my Spanish was not good. He said in clear and precise Spanish, “Please, compared to what I hear all day, you’re Spanish is exceptional.” He stamped a bunch of things, looked me up in the database, shuffled papers around, asked me some questions, took copies of things from me, gave them back, took them again, and then asked me when I wanted to return to the office next week. Really? I’m heading back into the lion’s den Monday at 1:30. I will supposedly be leaving with the document I need for travel.

HEADING HOME. THE MOAT PROTECTING THE OLD TOBACCO FACTORY.
(NOW THE UNIVERSITY OF SEVILLA — THE FACTORY, NOT THE MOAT.)

I bought another bottle of water, walked home, and took pictures along the way. So glad it’s only going to be around 98F today, especially since it’s currently 104.

The only simple thing about this entire process? The unfortunate woman with the husband from Colombia, America.

AND NOW I’M GOING TO TAKE A LESSON FROM THE CATS.
 EXCUSE ME WHILE I GO FIND SAN GERALDO.

Cobbling Together a Meal

San Geraldo couldn’t stand the fact that I had temporarily outshone him in the kitchen Saturday with my gourmet, original creation: “Nectarine Cut Up and Served in a Cereal Bowl.” So, he just had to get back in the kitchen himself and try and outdo me. Poor guy. The pressure must be awful sometimes. He managed to throw together a peach cobbler. Okay, it was peach cobbler and not fruit-in-a-bowl. And, okay, it was a really good peach cobbler. And I do admit it took a bit more time, skill, and care than did my “Nectarine Cut Up and Served in a Cereal Bowl.” One would think that would have been enough to put me back in my proper place toiling over a sink-full of dirty dishes. But One would be wrong. Oh, no, San Geraldo had to go on to make flamenquin for dinner. Show off! Isn’t it awful what I have to put up with?

FLAMENQUIN A LA SAN GERALDO.

PEACH COBBLER A LA SAN GERALDO.

But back to fruit — and when I say fruit I mean peaches and nectarines, not San Geraldo — we have fallen in love with a new (to us) melon. It’s called Galia Melon (or Melon Galia in Spanish, if you’d like to learn to speak like a native). Galia looks on the outside like a yellowish cantaloupe (which Jerry the South Dakotan, calls musk melon), on the inside more like a honeydew (which Jerry the South Dakotan didn’t hear of until he left South Dakota), but tastes like something a little different. I just looked it up and am so proud of my original description. It’s a hybrid melon that was developed in Israel around 1970 by a melon breeder named Zvi Karchi, it was named after Karchi’s daugher, Galia, and… it’s a cross between a cantaloupe and a honeydew! Ours was grown right here in Spain. Aromatic, sweet, and delicious. Oh, yeah, San Geraldo did a fine job preparing the melon, too. Game and Match: San Geraldo. I’ll get back to washing dishes… gladly.

GALIA MELON. CROSS BETWEEN A CANTALOUPE AND A HONEYDEW.

Who’s a Waste of Space?!?

It still amazes me how I can go from a wonderfully happy, gratitude-filled day to one completely in the dumps. And then back again a day later. Thursday, our anniversary, was a very good day. San Geraldo and I had a pleasant breakfast and visited with acquaintances at Emperador Trajano. I went to the gym. I studied Spanish at home. I met friends for a drink. We Skyped with Linda. We received a warm and touching email from The Dowager Duchess telling us she was thinking about how long San Geraldo and I have been together, and how lucky she feels to have two such wonderful “vagabond” sons that enabled her to see parts of the country she otherwise wouldn’t have. San Geraldo and I then went out for a quiet and delicious anniversary dinner at Duo Tapas.

AH, TO BE ABLE TO CHILL LIKE DUDO.
(ANOTHER MUTILATED [FAKE] MOUSE AT HIS FEET.)

I went to bed content and ready for a good night’s sleep. When I woke up Friday morning, it was from a dream that felt like it went on for hours but probably lasted two minutes. I tend to get bored when people relate their dreams to me. So, I won’t bore you with the details of mine. It clearly related to my last employers (who sucked) and it ended with my saying, “I’m just a waste of space.” Then I woke up.

No need to analyze; it was all pretty obvious (and maybe it was caused by the Ibuprofen I took before I went to bed).  Whatever the reason, I woke up feeling exactly like said waste of space and the feeling remained for most of the day. San Geraldo lived up to his saintly designation. But, despite his best efforts (and mine), I finally had a full-out panic attack in the afternoon. I took a pill. I went to bed for a while. The evening was subdued and by nightfall I was back to happy. I even cooked a little surprise treat for us both.

I SERVED THIS LITTLE HOME-COOKED SNACK AS A SURPRISE FOR SAN GERALDO.
(HE WAS UNDERSTANDABLY IMPRESSED.)

Saturday morning, all was well in my little world once again. I bought shelf organizers for the pantry and I organized. No wasted space here!

How Does It Feel?

San Geraldo had been up for a couple of hours when I got out of bed yesterday morning. He greeted me with a hug and a kiss when we met in the hall.
“Good morning, sunshine,” he said with his eyes aglow. “So, how do you feel on your last day of 57?”
I tilted my head down and looked into his eyes reprovingly.
Gerald,” I said (he knows he’s in trouble when I say Gerald), “Tomorrow is not my birthday. It’s our AN-NI-VER-SA-RY.”
It’s the third time he’s gotten it wrong in the last three weeks. He almost had a panic attack one day when he thought he had already missed my birthday. I’m thankfully unconcerned about his memory. Everything else appears to be working just fine (and he’s done this for years). Besides, maybe it’s not so bad that he thinks today is all about me.
1955 — BROOKLYN, NEW YORK, AND SIOUX FALLS, SOUTH DAKOTA

So, today is our anniversary (my birthday was exactly two months ago and it was very nice). San Geraldo (the Addle-Pated) and I have been together for 31 — unbelievably full, rich, challenging, joy-filled, love-filled, emotional, high, low, rarely inactive, rarely boring, often comical — years. It doesn’t feel like 31 years. I don’t know what it feels like exactly — a bit like only yesterday and a bit like forever — but I never imagined when we met that this is where I would be 31 years later. Really, I never imagined being anywhere 31 years later. So I certainly never imagined being gray and progressively balder. I know San Geraldo never imagined being quite so… robusto. But, I also never imagined I could be so much in love with anyone. So here’s wishing San Geraldo, the love of my life — my muse, my shoulder to lean on, my someone-who-needs-me-too-much and vice versa, and my comic relief — a very happy anniversary! I’ve shared below photos of us in just a few of the places we’ve lived and visited over the last 31 years. It’s anyone’s guess what’s next. But, I do know that wherever San Geraldo is, well, that’s home!

1982 — ON THE ROAD IN SOUTH DAKOTA
(WHILE LIVING IN BOSTON)

1983 — GRAND CANYON, ARIZONA
(WHILE LIVING IN MARINA DEL REY, CALIFORNIA)

1985 — BICYCLING TO MOUNT VERNON, VIRGINIA
(WHILE LIVING IN WASHINGTON, DC)

1990 — HOME IN GUILFORD, CONNECTICUT

1998 — BERGEN, NORWAY
(WHILE LIVING IN SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA)

1999 — HOME IN SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA

2002 — HOME IN PALM SPRINGS, CALIFORNIA

2004 — HOME IN SANTA BARBARA, CALIFORNIA

2012 — HOME IN SEVILLA, SPAIN