Friday, February 26, 2016

Goin' to Barcelona in My Mind

The only cure for my February slump is a trip, so I'm going' to Barcelona in my mind.

By this time of winter I slide into a malaise.  It's like all five senses are muted. Music sounds like muzak, all the colors have faded to dull brown, wool sweaters have begun to scratch, everything smells stale, and all food tastes bland. 

Faster than the Concorde my memory can take me back to October in sunny Spain.

Our first dinner was in a narrow, modern tapas bar named Mas Q Menos. The walls were paneled with blond wood.  At the front entry a ceiling to floor display of red and white wines filled the wooden Xs. The manager said the bottles weren't really wine because it would make theft too tempting. He added he didn't actually know what was inside them, but he hoped it was something mildly poisonous.

I enjoyed of one their smooth, fruity white wines named Afortunado (lucky, fortunate.) My online search shows that it is inexpensive, and readily available in, desafortunadamenteEngland. Drat. Can't even uncork a bottle and pretend I'm there.
Maybe they tweeted each other. They barely spoke. 

Just as one tapa leads to another, my recollection of delicious meals leads me to the Velodrome restaurant. It was in a century old building with a pressed tin ceiling and wide plank wooden floors. 

pretty tiled rest room

On Friday night every table was full--inside, outside on the sidewalk under little white lights, and in the second floor loft. Folks crowded the long dark wooden bar. Facing the door we watched groups of people enter and greet each other with the Spanish two-cheek  kiss. 

A dapper gentleman, who appeared to be eighty something shuffled in.  He wore a tweed jacket over a ruffled shirt, shoes polished and trousers pleated. 

He wandered past the bar crowd to the large, green felt-covered pool table under the loft. With my back to him I could still picture what was going on. The balls rattled in the rack. The cue whacked a ball, it trundled across the table, and he hit it again. Then it thudded to the floor and rolled slowly, creating the dull sound of wood upon wood. With a quiet word one of the young waiters went to find it for him. I don't think the pool "shark" could bend over that far, and he probably couldn't see very well either. 

tempura asparagus
I think a lingering meal of little bites, listening to muted chatter I can't understand, would be just the ticket to cure the doldrums.

What's your favorite get-away?  

Friday, February 19, 2016

Are Your Friendships Fading or Flourishing?

Celebrating Valentine's Day on Sunday I dined with my husband and sent $5.00 bills origamied into hearts to the grandkids. 

Now I wish I'd celebrated my close friendships, too. 

During my school age years, our family made four state to state moves. My elementary school friends are dim memories. Those from high school are only photos in the yearbook. And I only have email addresses for two college buddies. 

Once I married and settled in one place I tried to hang onto every friendship like a leech. Undoubtedly I misread clues and tried to stay tethered past the time I should have cut the line.  Oh, I must have been so annoying.  

Eventually I understood that friendships fade and I've learned to read the signals. When a gal pal can't find time for even an occasional social event, I think twice before making contact again.  I only keep people on my Christmas card list for a couple of years before I eliminate the ones who don't reciprocate. When my maybe-friend only sends forwarded emails, I figure I'm not worth her time. 

Electronics have not helped foster healthy friendships. Facebook helps me know where you are and what you're doing, but doesn't really invite me in. Twitter's like eating one bite of pie and calling it dessert.  I feel like a piece of furniture when I'm talking to someone who answers their phone and drops me like a hot potato.

My time for making and fostering rich friendships is much shorter than it was twenty years ago. Maybe that's why I am so reluctant to admit kinship has withered on the vine.

So I'm that much more thankful for good friendships. They flourish because we're mutually mindful. I only miss my monthly dinner out with the book club if I'm infectious or feverish. We have a standing date for Wednesday lunch. And occasionally I even drop in on one.

I don't hear from far flung soul sisters frequently, but I know if Judy from Oregon comes within a hundred miles, she'll try to to rendezvous. And we'll pick up where we left off two years ago. 

You can't make or keep a friend without investing time, and both blessings are more and more precious as each day goes by.  

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Thomas Edison and the $100.00 socks

Popular wisdom tells us that trying, failing, and trying again eventually lead to success. 

I've tried and failed plenty, but each failure sent me looking for something easier to master. Therefore I've had more failure than success.

Take knitting, for instance. Mother introduced me to knitting when I was 8. Like most beginners, my first dishrag square was so tight you couldn't get the needle in to make a new stitch. It was more like a hot pad. Good thing my little sister took the needles out and I had to start over. 

My first sweater had arms that hung to my knees.  I redid them and took a twenty year break.

When I took up the needles and yarn again I decided to go small--socks. I reasoned they would be a portable project through graduate school and faculty meetings, easy to carry on an airplane.

I signed up for "Fun Footwear, Part I."  It cost $40.00 plus about $20.00 in yarn. I bought a lot of colors because I imagined them as Christmas gifts. 

I didn't quite get the hang of it.  In fact, I flunked. My sizing, what knitters call gauge, was off. The first sock was way too big. And turning tube to create the heel was tricky. Mine was full of holes that weren't supposed to be there.

Still it was a nice change of pace from lesson planning and grading assignments.

I repeated "Fun" Part I for another $40.00. My sock progressed all the way to the ribbing at the top this time, but gaped where they were supposed to be snug. They were lumpy inside and out.

I laughed about my $100.00 socks and always thought someday I'd get it right. But unlike Edison, I gave up and sock-making gave way to something less challenging. Maybe that was when I tried to teach myself French.

Today I found the *overpriced , oversized, socks. After snapping this photo I tossed them in the trash.

I'm glad Edison didn't give up and figured out how to deliver electricity to factories and homes. Otherwise I would be wearing those handmade socks.

Do you have a failure to success story to share? 

*$151.32 in today's currency

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Settled in like Hens on a Nest

In our sixties we've settled into evenings at home like hens on our nests.  We go to movie matinees. Unlike most of America, we rarely eat out, and prefer late lunches and summer trips into the wine country. Our twisty roads at night seem scarier than they used to.

So it was a big deal for us to have a date night on a Saturday night. And it reminded us of why we think living here is wonderful.

We had tickets to hear a favorite Bluegrass band, Balsam Range, play at the old Earle Theater in downtown Mt. Airy, NC. We were in the tenth row, close enough to see their faces! If we still lived in Colorado we'd have to brave huge crowds to hear them play.  

The only crowding in Mt. Airy that night was at the local restaurants.  Where did all those folks come from? We must have one of the highest restaurant per capita ratios in the country, I swannee. 

After our early supper, we ran over to the hardware giant. In and out in a flash (because everybody was still supping) the Girl Scouts from Troop 02743 had a table and cookies! Back in my day, the troops only had three digit numbers. These cuties stamped their feet in the chilly weather and tempted customers as we left the store. I was gleeful that I had cash in my wallet for a change. Love those Thin Mints. 

Once we got to the theater we needed to use the facilities. But those are always crowded at the Earle .We dashed out and down the block to the heated public restrooms on Main Street. What a great idea. Mt. Airy has a fair amount of tourists so they'd planned for them.  Like the parking. The public lot half a block away is free, and we could be on the road without a traffic jam.

The town still had the snow flake lights hanging on posts, and the holidays didn't seem long gone. 

We crept home safely and substantially below the speed limit. This is a great place for us older-than-we-used-to-be folks to live and enjoy life. We'll have to do it again, real soon.

How much enticement do you need to move out of your routine?