It Will Do

Last fall, I bought a little table for the balcony. We don’t use the space that much in summer, as it’s way too hot and humid in Valencia. Maybe just for morning coffee. I bought this little table because it seemed like the perfect thing to use for a dry run on my ambitions for a large mosaic table for a family terrace, when we finally land in a house. But we were pretty busy last fall. Walking a Camino, heading to Galicia to house hunt, and then going to the US for December. And a pandemic with none of the requisite supplies. So the table sat there – staring at me.

I’ve laid on this sofa looking outside for weeks now. And every day I see that table and I think You’ve really got to do that mosaic. Yet most days I’m just too tired. But art is a wonderful rehabilitation tool. It gets you out of your head. Rehab facilities use it to help people recapture fine motor skills and access parts of their brain that may have been impacted by a specific condition. With art, there is no right or wrong. Success or failure. There is only creating. Remember kindergarten? Back then it was just a macaroni necklace on a piece of string. So yesterday when I looked outside I said to myself Today is the Day!

I’d already drawn the pattern I was going to lay down. Originally, I saw it in muted tones. Greys, soft greens, dusty blues and white. But as I sat there looking at it yesterday, I decided it needed to be something else. I rummaged through the cupboards and selected the pottery palate. It’s eclectic, I know, but somehow it’s right for the moment.

I got out a pillow case and put the first dish inside. So much for fine motor skills because I broke the head of the hammer clean off. I’m sure the neighbors were wondering if we were fighting – throwing dishes at each other. One looked over her balcony and I just waved my broken hammer handle at her in greeting. Apparently, she took this to be some form of aggression, shook her head, and quickly ducked back inside. My undisputed title and shiny crown of ‘That Strange American’ is still firmly and securely on my head.

After more bashing, I laid down the pattern with all the pieces, and then secured it so it could dry over night. And I learned a few things in the process that I will impart to you now.

  • Broken cermanic and glass can cut your fingers. I know this seems elementary but after I discovered/remembered this the hard way, and ran out of Band Aides, I realized if I get more ambitious with my mosaics I will want to purchase either steel gloves for filleting fish or chain mail.
  • It’s not as easy to break things as you might think. Even when the thing you’re beating on is secured in a pillowcase and isn’t going anywhere – sometimes it requires a dead blow hammer to get it into pieces you can use.
  • Consult your spouse before you break a bunch of dishes that they like – even when you think they have no particular affinity for anything in the kitchen. That way the ‘Surprise – Come see what I’ve done so far’ isn’t as much of a ‘Surprise! Your favorite breakfast bowl is now part of an end table on the balcony!’
  • There is no such thing as perfection. Just lay it out and see what speaks to you.

It dried overnight so I grouted today. I had to decide whether I would go with the white I already had, or if I would go down to el Chino and purchase grey. Based on the bright colors, I chose a trip down the street for the grey. For the grouting, I used thick gloves but it still wore down my my fingers and now that I have no fingerprints left, I am struggling to use my cell phones fingerprint feature. Banking is now days away because I can’t authenticate. Next time I will want to use two pairs of gloves.

I sit here on the balcony this afternoon, enjoying the sunshine. My gardenias are in bloom and their scent is like camping out at the Lancome counter at El Corte Ingles. Lovely. If only I could enjoy a glass of wine on my new table. But I’ll save that for a future day. The table is not perfect. There are high spots and low spots. Places on the surface that poke up a bit, as well as shiny pieces that glint in the sun. But it works just fine. And I learned a lot by making mistakes doing it. It’s not so much about the end result, but the process. Kind of like life. So this table is a perfect reflection of me right now. All the broken pieces still fit together. Just in a different configuration. This time around, it will have to do.

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