far too much writing, far too many photos

runswithscissors


Tuesday, December 30, 2003

[Continued from entry of Dec. 28]

Much of what I heard about during the first hour of this get-together were amazed, effusive descriptions of the staggering Christmas Eve dinner given by Sandra's parents the night before, apparently a nearly endless parade of fine food, one course after another, stretching well into the wee hours. Platter after platter of meat, fish, meat, fish, meat, fish. With a break for dancing, at some point. As in furniture being moved aside and family members gettin', er, jiggy. To what kind of music I couldn't say (though I'd lay heavy odds no AC/DC tunes figured in the playlist). But who cares? If I found myself at a Christmas Eve do of that ilk, I wouldn't give a rat's patoot what the soundtrack was.

John -- he of the he&she that comprise my landlords -- looked tired and drawn, to the point that nearly everyone commented on it. (Everyone except me, Mr. Diplomat.) Didn't appear he enjoyed that much, though he clearly enjoyed repeating ever more exaggerated versions of his daughter's "God, you look terrible!" The overall feeling, despite bursts of inter-parental-unit crankiness, was one of good humor. In fact, I would go as far as to say that there was a strong element of sitcom in the family interactions going on around me. Good sitcom, well-written sitcom. Funny sitcom. Lots of intra-family comedy, the kind that provides fine accompaniment to the inhaling of an excellent traditional Anglo-Saxon-style Christmas meal. The kind of comedy that brought John's smile/laugh to the surface every now and then, moments when it seemed like the light from the late afternoon sun suddenly brightened, something I don't mean as overdone poetic hoo-ha. He has a genuinely great smile/laugh, a kind that automatically gets me smiling in response. Literally feels (to me, at least) like the local candlepower spikes upward when they burst forth.

Great folks, my landlords and their progeny. Connecting with them was a stroke of outrageous good fortune.

So. Food. Talk, some in Spanish, some in English. More in English as time passed. My Spanish seemed to have temporarily collapsed, after two or three days of heavy language workouts. Anna, J&P's daughter, speaks superb Spanish, a kind in which the music of the language is crystal clear. Makes me want to spew my weak imitation in the vain hope that I might someday keep up with her, that I might someday manage to achieve a weak, watered-down approximation of her impressive, melodic Castellano. My mouth wasn't having any of it this day, though. Luckily, I usually speak fairly decent English. So I had something to fall back on.

And as the eating part of the program gave way to post-gorge conversation around the table, a beautiful sunset began cranking up outside. One of those long, drawn-out affairs where the light and color get going and keep going, changing continually in subtle, kaleidoscopic fashion. Got me up out of my chair and over to the window to get an eyeful over the yard's slatted fence. Pat suggested going upstairs to stand out on the small terrace, which sounded like a fine idea. I hadn't seen the upstairs yet -- my inner nosy, prying snoop liked that prospect.

Turns out this modest home had a seriously grandiose, squared-off version of a spiral staircase leading up to the second level. White stucco. Airy, with windows all around way up top. Ending at an upper level of two small bedrooms and a bath. And a terrace off the guest bedroom, looking out over the highway to rolling land that stretches away to the southwestern horizon, where the day's last light continued to put on a quietly spectacular show of oranges, reds, purples. And there we stood, out in the cool air, traffic passing below, watching a poignantly lovely sunset. A killer sunset. Through the power lines.

Something about that summed up this year's Christmas for me.

The days since then have remained beautiful, the temperature rising and falling unpredictably from one day to the next. (Unpredictable for those who tend not to follow the news/weather, anyway.) Sunday: genuinely brisk, authentically cold, the kind of conditions that get people walking quickly, coats pulled tightly around, hands in pockets. Today: mild enough that a handful of restaurants put out tables and chairs for the afternoon meal.

The mornings have started off slowly, quietly, Metro trains only half-full, passengers silent, drowsy. The days have been awash in December sunlight. By late-morning, the streets are busy with traffic, the city center thick with people shopping, conducting business, walking along sidewalks or pedestrians crowded with folks of all age brackets -- couples, families, groups of friends. The afternoon light hangs in the air through the rush hour, gradually transforming into long, lingering twilights -- major displays of color in the western sky, gradually giving way to evening and the lights of the city.

The holidays in Madrid. A fine time of the year in a place that feels like home.

rws 2:19 PM [+]

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BLATHERINGS

August 2001
September 2001
October 2001
November 2001
December 2001
January 2002
February 2002
March 2002
April 2002
May 2002
June 2002
July 2002
August 2002
September 2002
October 2002
November 2002
December 2002
January 2003
February 2003
March 2003
April 2003
May 2003
June 2003
July 2003
August 2003
September 2003
October 2003
November 2003
December 2003
January 2004
February 2004
March 2004
April 2004
May 2004
June 2004
July 2004
August 2004
September 2004
October 2004
November 2004
December 2004
January 2005
February 2005
March 2005
April 2005
May 2005
June 2005
July 2005
August 2005
September 2005
October 2005
November 2005
December 2005
January 2006
February 2006
March 2006
April 2006
May 2006
June 2006
July 2006
August 2006
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November 2006
December 2006
January 2007
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June 2007
July 2007
August 2007
September 2007
October 2007
November 2007
December 2007
January 2008
February 2008
March 2008
April 2008
May 2008
June 2008
July 2008
August 2008
September 2008
October 2008
November 2008
December 2008
January 2009
February 2009
March 2009
April 2009
June 2009
July 2009

.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .


MORE FOCUSED BLATHERINGS


Travels:
London '01
Pamplona
Italy '03
U.K. '03
Sevilla
Casablanca
Stoke-on-Trent
Barcelona
Québec/Ottawa
Boston/Lisbon/Madrid
Italy '04
Montréal
La Sierra

Events:
Madrid -- arrival
9/11
Emergency Room I
Holidays 2001
Holidays 2002
Holidays 2003
Holidays 2004
Holidays 2005
A neighbor's passing
Madrid -- March 11 bombings
  and aftermath
Emergency Room II
Israeli friend/Madrid Marathon
Madrid -- Royal Wedding
The DELE exam

GONE, a novel:
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10

THE BASTARD CHILDREN OF
JOE ROCCO, a novella:
-- Part 1
-- Part 2
-- Part 3

BURBANK SHRUGGED,
a screenplay:
-- Part 1
-- Part 2
-- Part 3
-- Part 4

Short stories:
Murphy's Wife
Another Autumn
La Queja de Una
  Hermanastra Muy Conocida

Autobiography
-- Personal History
-- Hormones On Parade
-- Accidents, Random Mishaps,
    Personal Problems

.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .


OTHER SOURCES OF WHOLESOME ENTERTAINMENT

People/Weblogs:
dooce
foxvox
fudge it
fear not
rebekka
bookslut
802online
idle words
madhaiku
wockerjabby
grow-a-brain
rebel market
letting me be
out and about
kung fu grippe
fanatical apathy
baghdad burning
wfuv's music blog
kexp's music blog
mimi smartypants
between the miles
just a hippie gypsy
the impossible cool
tomato can brushes
vermont homestead
sugar mountain farm

Good Clean Fun:
gizmodo
futurismic
postsecret
dave barry
human clock
mcsweeney's
spaceweather
book-a-minute
internet archive
self-portrait day
my cat hates you
out of context quotes
surrealist compliment
  generator
strindberg and helium

Makin' Musical Whoopee:
last fm
stereo8
pandora
soma fm

.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .


ABOUT RWS/CONTACT





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