Ground Control

Sources of Joy – Day 81

I had a deep acquaintance at university once. We were never what one could call friends, but when we did spend time together, it was deep. She played guitar. She sang and played David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” very well, especially the riff in between the verses. Sadly she stayed there, like Major Tom, “sitting in a tin can far”, far away… I visited her in Cape Town a couple of years later. The schizophrenia was winning. Although fully clothed, she and her lover did not get out of bed when I was there, even though we had confirmed what time I would be arriving. A brief sortie to the kitchenette was made which produced weak coffee in hastily washed mugs for the three of us. It was April – a spring day. I was more of a ground control kind of girl, when you got down to it.

In the last 10 days I have moved house, retrieved João from the care facility (on the same day as all the big pieces of furniture were moved), settled in, done some translation work in the laundry room, where I got an acceptable broadband signal, and have done two days’ work in my new office, still waiting for the delivery of a very cheap old table I purchased five days ago which will create a nice large working surface when put together with the existing small desk. I have made plum jam.

Friday was spent getting my new Internet and landline telephone connected. Some 140 metres of new cable had to be strung up spanning three telephone poles so that I can communicate with the world, and the world can communicate with me. I saw the technician tying the cable around a heavy stick, and throwing it over one tree after another to get from one pole to the other. He also climbed over three garden walls. What I lose in Internet connection speed is handsomely made up for by the quiet pleasures of the rural Algarve.

Since I purchased the table, I have been in much pain (hands, knees and feet) from “high levels of uric acid”. Luckily, I have a devoted acupuncturist who made an emergency house call.  This last development seems all very sudden, and may well have been brought on by an over-indulgence in those lovely peaches given to us by the lady across the road. Oh, and I have probably temporarily wrecked my joints with all the lifting and shifting of worldly goods.

Under doctor’s orders, I have given up eating sugar, drinking coffee, and am abstaining from foods which would worsen my condition. I have also decimated the patch of mint in the garden used to make the tea I am drinking – so much so, that I had to purchase some herb teas at the store yesterday. I have been drinking litres and litres of water every day, too. Soon, I will have enough frequent flyer miles (destination bathroom) for a world tour.

My doctor has also forbidden me to walk, stand for long periods, or go out in the sun. I am so glad the car is fixed, although the two short trips I have made since the onset of this attack were quite an effort. I had to bow out of selling cakes, jams and traditional beverages for three nights in a row at the local popular festivals. This made me sad, because I was unable to honour a commitment.

Three days of dedicated cleansing left me feeling slightly less inflamed today.
So I got stuck into the garden at 5.30 pm. I hacked with a hoe, strimmed, and raked a bit. I made piles of stones, a pile of firewood and a pile of dry grass for burning, and a pile of rolled up bits of old fencing. I have neatened about one-quarter of the garden, and I have a grouping (unpiled) of natural rocks all in one place now. I am still dreaming up what I shall do with them. This is Portugal. There is no telling how many I shall find in the rest of the garden. I strimmed the hell out of the weeds in the cobblestones (part of the old road, before it was tarred). These were the weeds I missed on Saturday morning when I weeded by hand. I swept quite a lot. This is my version of ground control.

There are no “before” photos, but you can see where I have been:

It is unlikely that there will ever be a lawn here!
Piles of stones
Piles of stones
What I still have to tackle. That little room has a hearth in it, a lot of the landlords storage items, and the gardening tools.
What I still have to tackle. That little room has a hearth in it, a lot of the landlord’s storage items, and the gardening tools.
A pleasant sight, viewed from the garden
A pleasant sight, viewed from the garden “shed”.

I have a feeling that the owners put out the word about renting this place well in advance, and were surprised to find it occupied so soon. Needless to say, the house is in perfect refurbished condition, by contrast. Someone is coming next week to remove old washing machines and other metal objects – and the wash trough with a hole in it.

Now that you have had a tour of my garden, you can understand why vegetables and chickens are a better bet than lawn and flower beds. Even vegetables have flowers, if you let them go to seed.

Now that I have got that out of my system, I can sit calmly in my office, watch the neighbours go by through the window and make steady progress on the work front. I hope I am not too stiff tomorrow!

One further source of joy is the mountain of fresh produce on our kitchen table: an armful of oregano, two enormous onions (about 15 cm in diameter), peaches, oranges, two enormous green peppers, and lots and lots of tomatoes, some of them enormous, too. Those came from our neighbour across the road. Still more large peaches and six eggs (from the chickens subsisting on a diet chiefly of plums) from our landlady added to the bounty. My landlady said the eggs were for me to make a cake! Where I come from six eggs makes three cakes. Looks like I shall be spending more time in the kitchen. I don’t mind. Our new kitchen is a pleasure to be in, and work in.


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