La plume de ma tante

Sources of Joy – Day 51

At some point – I forget when – during my teenage years, my favourite aunt gave me her Parker 51 fountain pen. I see from the Wikipedia reference that it was the “vacumatic” model. It was exactly like the top one pictured there. For many left-handers, fountain pens present a problem. I loved the smooth, well-worn nib of this pen and wrote many a school and university essay with it until one day, my pencil-case fell out of my book bag as I was walking down the road. I realised this about 50 metres later. When I returned to the spot where I dropped it, someone else had already found the pencil-case and decided to keep it – and had disappeared fairly smartly. Had I been more careful, I suppose I might still be writing with it. The pen of my aunt (or, as we say in English, my aunt’s pen) and, indeed, my aunt will forever have a place in my cornucopia of happy memories.

I am happy to report that I remained calm, except for one expletive, despite an incredibly lacklustre Internet connection today, which slowed the pace of my translation work almost to a standstill. Fortunately, these things pass.

It has to be said, though, that I did not relax during my acupuncture session, having recently emerged from the adrenalin rush which always accompanies the click of the “Send” button upon completion of a job.

I did relax afterwards though, when I stopped and greeted the woman who was my landlady for the first five months of my life in Portugal. She has a new pet, who goes by the name of Castigas.

I took this photo while sitting on the concrete - with not nearly as much elegance as this fine creature has.
I took this photo while sitting on the concrete – with not nearly as much elegance as this fine creature has.

Maria-Alice, on whom the Duracell® bunny must have been modelled, seems to have made a pet of this cockerel. Here, in her charmingly playful way, she is trying to discover if the fowl likes store-bought yoghurt. You cannot see it in this photo, but rather aptly, the words emblazoned on her T-shirt say “LOVE BIRD”. Maria-Alice understands no English, but I gather that her daughter generally explains to her the messages conveyed via her work clothes.

Everyone within arm's length of Maria-Alice has to eat.
Everyone within arm’s reach of Maria-Alice has to eat.

I like this practical, down-to-earth and very hard-working woman enormously. She is my mother’s age. It would be nice if they both spoke the same language. They would get on very well with each other, I think. Maria-Alice and I have a deal. I shall be picking figs with her for the first time, come the height of summer. I am volunteering my labour in exchange for the opportunity to learn the traditional way of drying the figs – and how to stuff them with almonds.

I last picked figs with another old lady about forty years ago, and learned how to make fig jam and fig preserve, but that is another story.


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