Winter is Coming

I like nesting. And it’s nesting season in Galicia. The days are much colder. Dew marks the grass and the trees in the morning. The golden Spanish light is still here. And for that I am eternally grateful. It makes painting such a joy. We are ready for winter.

But it’s not just painting canvases that is on my list. The entire interior walls of the house need a good cleaning and a nice coat of paint. I started with the backdrop for the book shelves on either side of the new fireplace. A contrasting color. The rest of the house will be dove grey. Exactly the shade of my wedding dress. Book shelves and a wood hopper will be installed next week. So I needed to get cracking if I wanted to paint without craning awkwardly between them. Here is the before and after of the new fireplace. I think it turned out pretty good. What do you think? It heats much, much more efficiently. More heat in the house and less going out the chimney.

I’ve been spackling wall cracks for the past week. Refilling them as they absorb more spackle. Getting ready to paint. My new plaster sander will be here on Saturday. I love tools. I got that from my Dad, who had more tools than anyone in history. He told me he wanted Jeff to have them when he died. But that didn’t happen. Jeff has been buying tools to replace all the ones he gave away or sold when we left the US. It broke his heart. Some were his grandfather’s. Since moving to Palas, and now that we have a barn, we have made it a priority to replenish Jeff’s tools. And mine, too. Yes, I have my own set of tools that I use on a regular basis. I think it’s growing up on the west coast of the US. Our pioneer people came across the country in covered wagons. They needed to be self reliant. And I can’t help going outside and looking up at our new, watertight roof. When I came back in the house yesterday, Jeff laughed. ‘Yup. It’s still there.’

I frowned. ‘I don’t know what you mean.’

‘You went out to look up at the roof, yet again.’

I hate it when he’s right. ‘What? I’m just happy we will be dry this winter.’

‘No. It’s fine.’ He smiled. ‘But you’re the only woman I know who loves a good roof.’

When we first started dating, I inspected the roof on Jeff’s house and insisted we replace it. He had the shingles delivered, then my entire family came over and we all went up and put a new roof on his house in one weekend. I’m pretty sure this cemented his mother’s opinion of me, right out of the gate. Strange. Jeff should have known what he was getting into from the very beginning. He has no excuse now.

I had another two cord load of firewood delivered by my new leña guy, Carlos, and I finished stacking it yesterday. ‘Come out and look at it.’ I told Jeff, after returning to the house and taking off my work gloves. He was impressed. The shed is full. The wood is stacked to dry in a crisscross pattern. Perfect. We are set for two winters. Complete with snowstorms.

When we moved here to Lugo last May from Valencia, summer was just over the horizon. Our coats, boots and sweaters were packed away. But it’s time to get them out. And, Holy Moly, do I have a lot of winter coats. And many in the same color. I should have known. When we still lived in Seattle, I went shopping with my son, Nick, and I spotted a coat. Coats for me are like squirrels to a Golden Retriever.

‘What do you think of this one?’ I asked him, trying it on.

Nick frowned and shook his head, ‘You have 100 coats that look exactly like that one. Including the one you just took off to put this one on.’

I disputed this, but then I looked down and realized I already owned the coat I was trying on. No wonder I liked it. And he was right, it looked very similar to the one I was already wearing. Ugh! ‘Well, I guess it just confirms my previous purchase.’ I told him, cheerfully.

So it should not have surprised me one bit that when I got all our winter coats out last weekend and discovered that I own roughly 25 (yes, I shipped a bunch from the US, but have bought additional ones in Spain), and most of them could be each other’s twin. Or definitely in the same family. But I remember where I got each of them. The city, and the shop where I was standing at the time I spotted them. It’s the same with sweaters and boots. Some people purchase souvenirs when they travel. I buy coats, boots, sweaters, and throws. And I always get my haircut. It’s a thing.

When Jeff and I got together I would buy him coats all the time. He stopped commenting on how weird it was after the first ten or so. Jeff doesn’t care about the clothes, but the throws drive him crazy! ‘Do we really need ANOTHER blanket?’

But I just ignore him. ‘You’ll thank me when you’re sitting in the living room on a cold winter night.’ I remind him. ‘When the wind is blowing outside.’

But Jeff isn’t convinced. ‘You know we have central heating, right? And we don’t live in North Dakota.’

He doesn’t get it. It’s about storing your nuts for the winter. It’s about making sure your family is warm and dry and fed. This is why we have two refrigerators and a chest freezer in the barn. We could live all winter on what I have stored out there. No, I am not a crazy doomsday prepper. I’m just prepared. There is a difference. 😉 Zombie apocalypse? I could feed the Zombies and all the Zombie hunters.

Last summer, I had friends in the US who questioned why we would house Pilgrims and feed them for free.

‘Do you even know me?’ I asked, incredulous. ‘This is my dream come true. Feeding and sheltering people. Making sure they have blankets, food, and are safe and sound. I’ve been training for this my entire life. Have you seen my throw collection? If Pilgrims were willing to wear my sweaters, coats and boots I would be in heaven. They’re doing ME a favor.’

Our daughter, Emilie is coming in a month. Her bed is already made up with seven blankets and 27 pillows. I have sent her our lists for what she can bring over with her, since we are out of so many things. But I told her not to bring a coat. ‘I already bought you one last winter from SuperDry in Valencia. And a scarf and gloves. And I have your snow boots.’ She just laughed because she knows me. ‘I know. I had no way to get that stuff to you, and you couldn’t come here. But I put it in your room. It was warming you from afar.’

You can say I am crazy, or neurotic, or any number of things. And you would probably be spot on. But you can’t ever say, in a million years, that me or my family, or our future Pilgrims, are cold or wet while staying in my home. Because, I guarantee you, I would never allow it to happen. Not on my watch.

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