Chocolate helps / Chocolate ayuda

La versión en español está después de la versión en inglés.

THERE’S A BIG DIFFERENCE BETWEEN want and need. In Spanish, to want is querer; to need is necesitar. I often say necesitar (need) when I should say querer (want). In English, they can be a bit more interchangeable. Sometimes, however, I mean it. Like when I say I need chocolate.

Lulu and two of her friends met us for coffee at Mesón Salvador Friday morning. San Geraldo and I had been to Lulu’s house last week to hang some art. It’s rare to find walls here that require only a hammer and nail for picture-hanging. So we brought the drill and supplies and, among us, decided where the latest art acquisitions should go. I then drilled, hammered, and screwed.

Lulu served us coffee and Finnish pastries. We didn’t need (or want) anything. Spending time with Lulu is reward enough. We thought the coffee and pastries were plenty. But Lulu arrived Friday with a gift bag. It was intended for wine, but she knows us well. She filled it with Finnish sweets — plus a box of Finnish gingerbread cookies.

I’m being slammed daily with some difficult depression. Chocolate helps and gingerbread can’t hurt. Lulu had no idea I’ve been lately craving gingerbread, too.

I’ve also been waking from awful anxiety dreams every morning. I wake up around 6 or 7 and, if I go back to sleep, that’s when the anxiety dreams occur. Maybe I should stop going back to sleep and opt for a siesta instead. Maybe I should start the day with hot chocolate instead of tea or coffee.

Speaking of which, I just made coffee for SG and tea for myself. The top of my hand is bleeding from a nasty scrape. No knives or sharp utensils were involved. I didn’t reach under anything. I have no idea what I did. Cooking is dangerous.


HAY UNA GRAN DIFERENCIA ENTRE el deseo y la necesidad. En español, a menudo digo necesitar cuando debería decir querer. En inglés, pueden ser un poco más intercambiables. A veces, sin embargo, lo digo en serio. Como cuando digo que necesito chocolate.

Lulu y dos de sus amigas se reunieron con nosotros para tomar un café en Mesón Salvador el viernes por la mañana. San Geraldo y yo habíamos estado en la casa de Lulu la semana pasada para colgar algunas obras de arte. Es raro encontrar paredes aquí que solo requieran un martillo y un clavo para colgar cuadros. Así que trajimos el taladro y los suministros y, entre nosotros, decidimos dónde deberían ir las últimas adquisiciones de arte. Luego taladré, martilleé y atornillé.

Lulu nos sirvió café y pasteles finlandeses. No necesitábamos (ni queríamos) nada. Pasar tiempo con Lulu es recompensa suficiente. Pensamos que el café y los pasteles estaban bien. Pero Lulu llegó el viernes con una bolsa de regalo. Estaba destinado al vino, pero ella nos conoce bien. Lo llenó de dulces finlandeses, además de una caja de galletas de jengibre finlandesas.

Todos los días me azotan una depresión difícil. El chocolate ayuda y el pan de jengibre no hace daño. Lulu no tenía idea de que últimamente también he estado deseando pan de jengibre.

También me he estado despertando de horribles sueños de ansiedad todas las mañanas. Me despierto alrededor de las 6 o 7 y, si me vuelvo a dormir, es cuando ocurren los sueños de ansiedad. Quizás debería dejar de volver a dormir y optar por la siesta. Tal vez debería empezar el día con chocolate caliente en lugar de té o café.

Hablando de eso, solo preparé café para SG y té para mí. La parte superior de mi mano está sangrando por un desagradable rasguño. No se utilizaron cuchillos ni utensilios afilados. No alcancé debajo de nada. No tengo ni idea de lo que hice. Cocinar es peligroso.

Lulu had texted before her arrival to say she was on her way but she was having a bad hair day. So, of course, the first thing I did was pull out the camera.

Lulu le había enviado un mensaje de texto antes de su llegada para decir que estaba en camino, pero que estaba teniendo un mal día con el cabello. Entonces, por supuesto, lo primero que hice fue sacar la cámara.

SG’s cousin Elin in Northern Norway loves to say “TTT” (Things Take Time) — especially when SG is waiting for photos or answers to genealogy questions. Lulu’s T-shirt read “RELAX These Things Take Time.” So we had more smiles thinking of Elin, who is always worth the wait.

A la prima de SG, Elin, en el norte de Noruega, le encanta decir “TTT” (las cosas toman tiempo — Things Take Time), especialmente cuando SG está esperando fotos o respuestas a preguntas de genealogía. La camiseta de Lulu decía “RELÁJATE, estas cosas toman tiempo”. Así que teníamos más sonrisas pensando en Elin, que siempre vale la pena esperar.

This is what happens when the need is too great to waste time finding my reading glasses for a close-up before I take a bite.

Esto es lo que sucede cuando la necesidad es demasiado grande como para perder el tiempo buscando mis gafas de lectura para un primer plano antes de dar un mordisco.

• San Geraldo has been chief gardener here but has lately fallen down on the job due to his book-writing activities. So, we agreed I’ll take over. My first task was to attack, with a systemic, the pests that have been attacking the hibiscuses. One dose and there’s already improvement.
• San Geraldo ha sido el jardinero jefe aquí, pero últimamente se ha quedado sin trabajo debido a sus actividades de escritura de libros. Entonces, acordamos que me haré cargo. Mi primera tarea fue atacar, con un sistémico, las plagas que han estado atacando a los hibiscos. Una dosis y ya hay mejoría.

Less Mess, More Memories

Since our return from New York late September, I’ve been trying to get the apartment more settled and organized. We finished most of our renovations months ago and never got around to putting things completely back together. Then My Mother The Dowager Duchess took her final bow and we returned with memories of her. What we carried home with us was followed months later by some furniture, art, and other things we didn’t have the heart to part with.

We also shipped back from South Dakota dozens of framed family photos we had left with Linda and Tom (Jerry’s sister and her husband) when we moved to Spain. About 10 boxes. They were supposed to go through the photos, keep what they wanted, share with the kids, and then get rid of the rest.

Somehow, in the emotions of our departure, Linda and Tom missed that point and thought they were simply storing boxes of papers! So, in September, we whittled the 10 boxes down to 4. We’ve now got a lot of framed photos and not a lot of wall space. I’m doing what I can, while turning what I had hoped would be a minimalist apartment into a Victorian-looking collection of clutter.

I’m trying to keep the clutter under control and, I must admit, we both love seeing so many family photos back on our walls (thanks, Linda and Tom) along with original artwork, including paintings and sculptures by The Dowager Duchess.

We used to have close to 200 photos lining a hallway or stairway in every one of our [more spacious] homes in the States, plus dozens displayed on tabletops. A few dozen is all this place can handle, I think. And each one requires me to drill a hole into the concrete wall. So, if I measure wrong, that’s where it stays! I still have to figure out permanent homes for all the additional sculptures and knick knacks that are strewn on most surfaces.

Mess makes me crazy.

(Click the images for a better look.)


Sweater Weather… Dammit

I’ve just got to say I’m pretty disgusted with “the weather man.” “He” said it was going to be sunny and in the 50sF (10–15C) for almost our entire visit. Well, we haven’t seen much sun. And, although we’ve seen the 50s a couple of times, we haven’t felt it. The wind-chill (we didn’t have windchill in Southern California and we don’t have windchill on the Mediterranean) has been below 40F (4.5C).

But are we complaining? Well, yes, actually. Every chance we get. We were well-prepared, however. We have our sweatshirts, winter jackets, scarves, gloves, layers. No problem really. I just wish I still had my father’s sweaters made by the Dowager Duchess (who was just a Duchess at the time). I’d be a lot more “stylin’.” While scanning old photos yesterday, I came across this shot of another one of my favorite sweaters made by the Duchess. This argyle cardigan was made for my father in 1948. I inherited it in 1969 and wore it until I outgrew it in the late ’80s. It was still in perfect condition. I wonder who’s enjoying it now.