What if we ever needed…3/4 of an Inch

Hell froze over today. Well, since it’s so bloody hot and humid I sort of wish it actually did, but our stuff ARRIVED at 1pm today. It actually came with a phone call and three guys who could not have been nicer. I paid for their lunch afterwards. I’m not a person who has ever held a grudge. Don’t have time for it so all that nonsense was in my rear view mirror 30 seconds after the first dolly load crossed our door step.

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They found parking and unloaded in record time. As planned, we had them bring all the boxes and bikes up to our apartment and we put the sofa in our parking space in the garage. We needed to measure it before I schedule the crane service. I was on cloud nine watching them go back and forth. Emilie stayed down by the truck to make sure no one made off with any boxes while the guys were filling the lobby.

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Seeing our things again was like reconnecting with old friends. And unpacking was so much fun!  All my kitchen stuff that was of such interest to US Customs and Border control made it with only one glass pot lid that was shattered.  All my Le Creuset – check. More of my Crate and Barrel dishes – yup. All our flatware and my box of odds and ends kitchen stuff. My beloved Vitamix made it. Jeff checked the amperage (I don’t even pretend to understand it) and it works on the electricity here. We just have to take it to a local place to get the plug/cord swapped out.

My pans are here too! And our golf clubs and bikes. Jeff’s computer stuff and his keyboard that he’s been waiting for. All the tools for his first love – the motorcycle. We spent the day unpacking boxes and washing things. Our bedding from home – sheets and towels that we could have bought locally but we loved them too much to leave behind. Then there were the more sentimental things. The things that, when you surround yourself with them, make you feel like you’re truly home.

Our refrigerator magnet collection from trips we took as a family. Jeff always hated how junky it made it look in an open plan kitchen. I loved the reminder of all the things we did together. Tonight, I put them all on the fridge and he came home and smiled. Emilie and I had fun reminiscing about each one and telling funny stories about where they were purchased and some crazy thing that happened.

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The pictures came. Our wedding photo and some of the art that we had on the walls. Emilie unpacked the boxes in her room and it’s just about like it was in the US – only 5 times smaller. Her books, photos and all the small things that mean so much to her.

I unpacked the vacuum packed bags of our clothes and it seems we brought more than I remembered. I appears my ‘What if we ever…?’ philosophy might have gone a little too far. OK, if we ever go to Iceland again I have my Canada Goose parka and Jeff’s Mountain Hardwear parka. But living here I don’t think there will be a day that we’ll need either of those.

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My most egregious and embarrassing miscalculation was my discovery that I had 5 full boxes of shoes that were just for me. Luckily, Jeff had run an errand when I pulled them out of the pile in the dining room. Yeah, I knew I had a problem anyway but today it was in my face and before Jeff got home I needed to find somewhere for 5 boxes of shoes in El Compartimiento. But where to put them? The only place I had to spare was in the kitchen Gabinete and I knew the minute he got hungry I’d be ratted out. Emilie just shook her head but she wasn’t one to talk. She had 2 boxes of shoes for herself – OK, I’m a baaad influence.

So I started pulling out drawers and cabinets. I was sweating and panicked. What the hell was I going to do? I looked around and then I remembered we have drawers under the bed we bought. And those drawers are mostly covered by the duvet. I knew Jeff was barely using his closet so he wouldn’t even think about the drawers under the bed. Sure enough, they were empty. But as I placed my shoes, boots and sandals lovingly into their new, hidden home, I started counting and, well, I’m just ridiculous. Who needs 5 pairs of high suede boots here? I brought 3 pairs of rubber boots!  What was I thinking?

But that isn’t the capper. Tonight we went down to the garage after I was done unpacking the rest of the stuff and putting it away. I was feeling pretty proud of myself and my ability to cram things in every nook and hidden crannies. Organizing things for easy access later. Winter closet, stored. Yup, I was at the top of my organizational game. I hadn’t over packed afterall. I was a ‘just enough’ goddess.

I got into the elevator with a confident smug swagger that only a truly organized person pull off. Then we measured.

My beloved couch is 43 3/4 inches deep. I don’t care about the height because it passed that test. Our living room window is broken up into sections that are 43 inches. Not 44 inches – 43. And they can’t get any bigger, even if you take the windows out, because of the custom shutters that come down in tracks. So my couch won’t fit. So we went down and took all the wrapping from the move off and I actually talked to the couch.

‘Please couch – I know you’ve been through alot in the last 5 months but I need 3/4 of an inch – that’s all. Please give me 3/4 of an inch.’ I begged and pleaded.

Jeff measured again. I don’t think the couch was very forgiving after spending months in a container ship. It didn’t give up a millimeter. There will be no couch (at least not one from the US) inside El Compartimiento. With every victory, there is also defeat. I had gotten a little cocky with the shoes.

Tonight, Jeff is sporting his Keens, he’s smiling in a fresh pair of shorts and a shirt he hasn’t worn since February. That’s good enough for me.

Morning Rituals

When we moved to Arizona from Seattle in 2016, initially we loved the weather and how different the vegetation was from the Northwest. But of course, we moved there in March after a particularly drippy winter in Seattle. We were ready for a change. But when the thermostat hit 124 Fahrenheit on June 21st – the first day of a summer in the desert – the bloom was off that rose. Or more to the point, the bloom had shriveled up and died in the blinding inferno coming from the bright orb in the sky.

So after spending the summer in Spain last year – where people were complaining that it was a scorcher – it didn’t seem that hot to me. And now it’s begun to heat up here again this year. But we have the Sea to dip our toes in. And sand to exfoliate our feet without burning the soles off. And the views? You can’t beat them.

We’ve decided that every morning we will be walking on the beach, so we’re getting up early and catching the tram for the quick trip to the sea. We now have our routine of the direction we walk, picking up shells and coral and then sitting down for our morning drinks while looking out at the water.

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We’re starting our new shell/rock jar. We’ve always had one of these in our house. They’re a collection of sand/rocks/shells from the beaches we’ve visited with our family over many years. We’d bring it back and add it all to the jar. The kids loved these jars and I’d catch them looking at the sometimes, remembering where each layer came from. Our old jars are at my parent’s house in Portland. In a box. Em was sad when she found out they didn’t make it to Spain, so it’s time to start a new one. Many of these shells I’ve never seen before.

Sometimes now, there is a cruise ship in town. This will mean the beach will be busier during the day and we should get our lounge chairs reserved if we have a hope of spending the day under a tiki umbrella with food and beverage service. You learn the ropes after a couple of days of observing the cadence and missing out. Emilie will be starting Beach Volleyball camp soon so I’ll definitely want to stake out a spot early on those days.

We have developed our favorite beach time haunts. There are the upscale restaurants, which by US standards are laughably cheap to eat at, but are considered by locals to be expensive. The views from these place are probably in the photo rolls of every tourist who visits the city, especially by cruise ship. And for good reason. We like Panorama to have a Sunday brunch drink and to watch the fishermen and the surfers. Or at Sunset.

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Then there are the typical beach standbys. And yesterday, Emilie and I discovered our favorite ice cream place was on the beach. We had packed our beach bag chock full, and made our way down to enjoy the water on a late afternoon, only to have a thunderstorm move in. Booming and flashing. What can you do but sit inside and eat the best gelato and sorbet of your life and wait for it to pass? The coconut flavor is like eating an actual coconut.

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We like Jijoneca – they’re everywhere in Spain, especially on the beach areas –  when we have a craving for Helado. It’s really nice inside and the servers are excellent and friendly, and they speak English – cause it’s the beach.

For our morning coffee, we usually go to a small cafe on Patacona playa. They know us now and they’re friendly and happy to have us every morning for our usual. I’m sure we’ll return to our local El Horno, near our house, when the weather turns colder in the fall. To see the ladies who just shout out ‘The usual’ and bring it to us.

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But for right now, we’ll be enjoying our daily walk, watching the happenings on our beach as tourists from around the world, and families, come and go. Picking up our shells, as the boats sail by, and just slowing down. I can’t wait until I’m tired of sweeping sand out of our house. Then I’ll know we’re settled in.

 

Good Days and Bad

As humans, we are creatures of habit. And the older we get, the more those habits become ingrained. Its not the big stuff that make up our daily lives, but the little stuff. The things no one else cares about. The things we can count on, like the sun rising and setting and a cup of hot joe in the morning. And access to American Late-Night comedy, apparently.

Yesterday, was Jeff’s bad day. He’s been getting our wifi network set up and we’ve been looking forward to getting NetFlix and Amazon Prime video ready to go. Our TV was delivered in the morning and it kicked off swearing, a march to the Vodofone store, a disgruntled walk back, and then ‘effing Firewall!’ this and ‘effing Firewall’ that. Then a LOT of phone calls and chat sessions. I heard some ‘I can’t do anything in this country!’ and a few other declarative statements.

I sat our in the living room doing my own thing and then decided to make Jeff his favorite lunch – Broccoli Beef with basmati rice, just the way he likes it – to try to smooth the way a bit. Thinking the taste of home would help. It took ‘Hangry Jeff’ out of the mix, but it didn’t make his day that much better. We found out NetFlix doesn’t like us being in Spain. And resetting his Amazon prime password wasn’t working at all.

Normally, we could kick this can down the road a bit, but we’ve hit critical mass being here for nearly 4 weeks. Jeff’s favorite shows are starting up again soon (Game of Thrones and finding out Billions on Showtime started on Sunday and we missed it). His love affair with Stephen Colbert’s nightly monologue, and his lack of access to it, is proving harder than he anticipated. Something needed to give.

I finally went to bed at midnight as he was still trying to troubleshoot continuing problems. At 2:30 am I woke up and found him on the couch, smiling, and scrolling through the Amazon Prime offering. It’s done! He figured it all out, got Amazon in Seattle on the phone and worked through it after – not kidding – 45 phone calls, text verification codes and emails. But we now have Showtime, HBO, BritBox and CBS All Access.

Today’s a better day. Now that we’re surrounded by some of our comfort shows, we’re ready to venture out and sign up for our Spanish classes and get our Tuin cards for our monthly Metro passes. I can’t complain. Everyone is entitled to tough days. Moving across an ocean, thousands of miles from what we have always known, can be frustrating. But Jeff proved that his ‘where there’s a will there’s a way’ stick-to-it-iveness is undaunted. And everyone is entitle to a bad day.