Digging In The Dirt

Sunny and cold. That’s the best way to describe the last week. Or mostly. A little unexpected spitting rain. The wind is coming down from Siberia rather than Greenland from over the Atlantic.

In France they call this Le Mistral. In Greece they are known as the Meltemi. Creating havoc in the Aegean Sea in summer or winter. We were on a ferry boat from the island of Paros to Mykonos with our kids one summer. The winds were so bad and the seas so highs, we thought the boat would capsize. They shut down the ferry after we docked. Emilie slept through the whole thing in Jeff’s arms. He looked terrified. Nick and I clung to each other and prayed. So this icy wind is no joke. Fergus and LuLu don’t want to spend much time outside without us.

Our farm is flat. The sub-zero wind cuts through you the moment you leave the house. Doing laundry in the barn is a frosty undertaking. But we have chores that need doing and we couldn’t put them off.

With all the record breaking rain we have had over the last four months, our ground is so saturated it can’t take another drop. Pools were gathering on flat land. Time to drain the field. So, Jeff got out the tractor and the furrower. His first time using this attachment. Then, he made some long passes from north to south towards the creek. Water immediately filled the deep furrows and flowed like streams to the creek. The standing water problem is no more. The test holes he dug to monitor water levels show it dropped significantly in the 12 hours after he created the drainage ditches. And it just goes to show you can learn to do anything these days on YouTube.

Jeff got up before the sun came up, like a real farmer, and did it early. Then, he came back to the house to tell me to ‘come look.’ I threw my Wellies on and a heavy coat. Fergus at my heels, we made our way out to the field abd appropriately ooo’d and awww’d at Jeff’s handiwork. And, then I saw them. The worms I need for my organic composter!

Cold as a well digger’s nose, as my Dad used to say, Fergus and I walked along the furrows and collected worms from the freezing water. With bare hands. Then, I deposited them in the compost bin. Everyone knows that the fastest way to good compost is worms.

Our neighbors drove by on the back road. Surely, they asked themselves what the hell that American woman was doing in her pajamas and rubber boots with handfuls of mud and her dog rolling around in it. But, to that I say ‘pishaw!’ I was in my element. As a little girl I loved the mud. I was probably five years old when, one summer I had my friends covered me head to toe with it in the woods near our house. They all followed me home, waiting on the driveway as I rang the doorbell. My mother laughed harder than I have ever seen her laugh when she opened the door. Later, she said she could only see the whites of my eyes and my smile of missing teeth. So, my neighbors here don’t have a clue that it could be so much worse than handfuls of mud and worms in my pajamas.

The Pup

Fergus is getting Big. We needed to tackle some of the mounting problems of a curious four month old puppy, and his maniacal cat nemesis, LuLu. Fergus has chased her from the moment his paws entered out house. At first, she hid. Then, she learned how to antagonize him. And finally, she entered the final stage of grief in losing her spot as the #1 pet in the house. Acceptance. Well, of a fashion.

LuLu has been plotting her revenge, which includes showing Fergus he can chase her out under the hedge to the road, where cars drive rather fast down our tree-lined country lane. And heavy tractors and farm equipment traverse back and forth all day long. Fergus is black as midnight. You can’t see him in the dark. They would hit him before they saw him.

Six months ago we applied to put up a fence around our property and to replace our front gate. A fence. Simple, right? Wrong. The Patrimonio for the Camino De Santiago moves in geologic time. Even for a fence. Jeff doesn’t get mad easily. But when he does I just sit back and watch. He bought all the temporary fence building materias on Saturday, and laid it out.

‘Let them come and tell me I have to take down a fence to keep our dog from getting hit by a car. If they do, it will mean they are actually reviewing our 20 ridiculous applications for this stuff.’

Then, he went to work. He’s right. Maybe our temporary fence behind our hedge, that will interrupt no Pilgrim’s authentic Camino experience, will be a red cape to the bull (s*#t) that is the bureaucracy of the Patrimonio. Can you tell I’m fed up with bureaucracy right about now? This week the Concello denied our food truck a license after they told me (and our contractor, Diego) that a license isn’t necessary for food trucks because they are ‘temporary.’ And why did they deny me? Because the food truck is temporary. <cue the video of me swearing profusely and beating my head against the wall> 🙄

While Jeff was digging post holes with an auger, I was mucking out the former chicken coop. First, with a shovel. Then, with a pressure washer. The previous owners built a series of out buildings surrounded by six foot fences. This particular one is perfect for a dog run for Fergus, with a place he can get out of the weather – it has electricity and water so we can even heat it, if need be. And, it is a 20ft x 60ft outdoor space with two trees for shade. Safe and escape-proof as the fence line is ringed in foot-deep concrete.

Mucking out a chicken coop is messy work in a confined space. By the time Jeff came to see how it was going I was covered head to toe in, well, god only knows what. Fergus, my loyal curious companion was covered in it, too. Jeff shook his head.

‘How can you be this dirty?’

‘You tell me how you would have kept yourself clean pressure washing, even the ceiling, of a 1×2 meter disgusting chicken coop. Then, next time I’ll do that.’

He had no answer. He toddled off. I resumed my work.

We needed to get this taken care of. Since Fergus has arrived we have taken him nearly everywhere with us. Luckily, Spain is a dog friendly country. Fergus can even go to the mall. But, he’s getting bigger now. We need to be able to leave him, and not in his crate. Somewhere he can run around. And besides, we couldn’t take him with us yesterday. Dogs aren’t allowed in movie theaters- even in Spain.

Roll it

I wrote last week about likely needing to go to Madrid to see my brother’s movie. We were making plans. Then, lovely Maria Seco of SpanishfortheCamino.com fame messaged me. She lives in Pontevedra but found a theater in Santiago playing Tar on Sunday in original voice – voce. I immediately bought tickets for us and our friends, Patti and Leigh.

It’s a 40 minute drive into Santiago. We had never been to this mall before. As Canelas. You can see it when you are walking on the Camino Frances, a few kilometers before you reach the Cathedral. It’s big. Finally, I can go to a place with some of my favorite stores without going all the way to A Coruña or Valencia. And, I can get a chai tea latte there. Heaven.

We all met up, got our snacks. They give you so much popcorn and a liter of soda here for next to nothing. Crazy. We wondered how we would eat it all. Jeff and I haven’t been to a movie theater in more than three years. It felt weird, but familiar walking into that nice space. Theaters in Spain are very nice and mostly newer than the US. But, back home we always went to movies at an iPic or similar. Where you sit in fully reclining barco loungers with a blanket. And a waiter serves you from a menu throughout the film. You can order a Manhattan and they bring it to your seat. I ordered VIP seats for our movie experience yesterday, but it was nothing like iPic. Yes. The seats were bigger. With more legroom for tall Jeff. Maybe they have something like iPic in Madrid.

The movie was a slow burn. Very slow. Todd’s signature pacing. I know the music and the sound were characters unto themselves. But it was the silences where I found the tension. And the winter gray scale felt heavy. Like a lead weight on all the characters. There were parts that were Fellini-like. Dark. Otherworldly. But, sometimes whimsical. My friends were speechless coming out. They were blown away by every detail. The set design. And the lighting. But also, the long shots and the tension. We went for lunch afterward, to discuss the film and so much more.

‘It wasn’t a horror film, but there moments I felt her fear.’

Lydia, or Linda as we later learn, is an imposter, a genius running from her past and the worst of her nature. And her sense of unchecked entitlement that disgusts even her. In the end, she find herself completely alone. My two favorite scenes are, first, at the beginning when the tailor in New York is making her custom clothing. Only the best will do for Lydia Tar. But it’s also her armor, like a knight going into battle. The second is when she goes home to the shabby house where she grew up. She climbs the stairs to her old childhood room and we see the boxes in her closet. Precisely labeled with her priorities. Cash, My IRA, etc. Things most children wouldn’t think about. Her mother hasn’t touched a thing since she left home, and shed her ‘Linda’ persona. Then her brother catches her unawares on the stairs and seems less than impressed by her return. ‘Mom said you were coming.’ There is Todd in Lydia. But he’s the writer, and her creator. It couldn’t be any other way.

When we exited the theater, we discovered Maria and her family had driven up from Pontevedra to see it. So kind of them. I think her two lovely daughters were shell shocked. This isn’t your typical film for teenagers. As Jeff said.

‘I would know it was Todd’s movie even if no one had told me beforehand. Watching it was like talking him. You could hear his voice.’

I have friends all over the world messaging me telling me they went to see it. But afterward they had to go for a walk, or a run. Maybe get a drink to process it. My friend, Carolyn, in Atlanta told me she couldn’t stop thinking about it. ‘It’s like no film I’ve ever seen before. It sticks with you.’ I agree. It’s haunting.

There are plenty of Easter eggs in the film. Things I noticed that Todd placed there. Intentionally, of course. The significance of which will go unnoticed by audiences. And I laid there last night, sleepless, mulling it all over in my head. Right at the start, so quick you could be forgiven for missing it, it was the film’s dedication that made me tear up before it even began. For WF. Our Father. Willam Field. As always, he would have been so proud of his son for this film. This achievement. And so am I.

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