Saturday, November 19, 2005

Love the One You're With

Late Saturday afternoon, back in Madrid after four days at the Molino.

I never tire of the contrast between urban Madrid and rural Asturias. Madrid: heat and noise rising; Asturias: dampness and quiet descending. Madrid: large gatherings of people, swift mobility, heels on sidewalks, a whirl of lights at night, hard edges; Asturias: pairs and solitary figures walking tree-shadowed roads, leisurely paces, the soft earth below muffling all movement, endless darkness at night--introducing a billion trillion brightly precise stars when the sky is clear, easy curves.

This trip was relatively uneventful, in the sense that no catastrophes befell us. We rounded up the final permissions forms from neighbouring landowners and transfered the money to Viesgo, the electric company, with its assurance that work would begin within the week (or perhaps the week after...), so we should actually have electricity at the Molino the next time we head north. We've lined up an electrician to make peace between the new powerlines and the ancient and idiosyncratic wiring inside the Molino. And we learned just this morning, as we were preparing to leave, how to clean the pipe filters so that our connection to Oviñana's water supply flows with enough force to get the showers and sinks upstairs working.

The mold and mildew was legion, as always, and my guess is that we'll never defeat it. But can we somehow embrace it?

Except for the concern about how the place will look when family and friends start visiting in the spring, we enjoyed ourselves more fully this visit because our expectations seemed better matched to what we experienced.

No matter how bad things have been, or how forcefully Lisa has insisted we have to sell the place, I fall in love with the Molino every time I go. Whatever's wrong with the place, it's not the Molino's fault, I tell myself. Just because previous owners have made bad decisions about it doesn't mean I should hate it. If I got a pound dog who'd been abused by his former masters, it wouldn't occur to me to blame the dog. So with the Molino. In fact, I feel very protective of this strange, mysterious beast--moreso each time I go.

For good or ill, I think I'm a friend for life.


Sal DeTraglia said...

Hi Cockpit Pilots:

All of Asturias is a jewel. Home repairs in Spain can be a frustrating exercise for an American expat (i.e., we want yesterday, whereas the Spanish contractor promises mañana), but your efforts will be worth it once el Molina starts standing on its own feet. And you've probably gotten in at a good time, because I am already hearing Madrileños talking about Asturias with lust in their voices. Sooner or later, Spain's best-kept secret will start morphing to a Gandia (well...not quite, but you know what I mean).

Ya know what I like best about Asturias? House paint! Houses up there (both inside and outside) are painted with the most bold, dynamic colors. Greens, reds, blues, yellows, pinks. It's as if the homeowners are saying, "Well...the sky is always gray, but let's see if we can perk it up with a can of Benjamin Moore latex." I haven't noticed this artistic flair with colors elsewhere in Spain.

Anyway, sorry for rambling, but it's Sunday morning and I've just had my caffeine. Time for me to get out and do some home improvement of my own.

Give my regards to Liz Phair, if you should have her over for coffee any time soon.


Almendro said...

I was thinking the very same thing this week, as we drove past the razed ground and huge cement beams that will one day (soon? 2010 is the target) be the new Autopista de la Cantabrica: this is how the Costa del Sol got its start. But I'm hoping that Asturias' persistent misting rain will stave off the bikini-clad hordes.