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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

Viva la France

We arrived in Dijon! It was a rather long ride from Strasbourg but we did it. We rode thru the picturesque town of Colmar, ‘Little Venice’ they call it, with their canals and centuries-old architecture.

We had a long way to go so we set off to go over the nearby mountains through a National nature preserve. Before our climb started, we made a pit stop to see the main square in the village of Munster. I think cheese is a big deal to the Munsters (not the same ones from 60’s American TV) because they have attractions around it.

But what I really wanted to see were the storks nesting on the peaks of the Hotel de Ville and the church. It’s pretty amazing how they build such huge nests on the top of nothing.

We rode twisty mountain roads for 150 km. A lot of ski areas I’d like to come back to one of these days. And I got to see my first alpine ski jump, sans the snow. But it was still cool.

About 30 minutes outside of Dijon we came upon a very old Chateau in the village of Gy. It was built over the course of six centuries and is in a state of delapidated charm. The roof could use some work. I loved it!

Finally, we made it to Dijon. We are staying in the nicest hotel here. Not because I made the selection. I walked the Camino and slept pallets in churches and bunk houses with 50 other sweaty people for 6 straight weeks in the heat of a Spanish summer. As long as I’m horizontal, I can sleep in the top of a flagpole. Jeff? Yeah, not so much. He’s a bedding snob. If the sheets aren’t a minimum of 600 tc he develops a rash.

So, when I was reading off potential hotels at our last stop on the way to Dijon, he nixed anything that didn’t have the word ‘Grand’ in it. That left one possibility and he knew it. It is weird. He’s not picky about much, but of the few things he is, hotels are at the top.

The concierge ran out when we pulled up. To help with the luggage – such as it was – strapped to our bike. Then he escorted Jeff and Precious to the underground garage, where they locked her up safe and sound in an actual cage. I think Jeff felt vindicated for choosing this hotel because of that alone.

Tomorrow is May 8. It’s the anniversary of the end of WWII and the French flags are flying around town. Stunning walk around the old town.

In some places, the building looked very Diagon Alley, rather than Burgundy. But that’s just my own bias.

Next Stop: Toulouse!

My Work is Done

Double checking the list – yup, yup, yup. I ticked all the boxes so I guess I get to go home now. Well, it already said that on my ticket, so I would have left anyway. But it does feel good to know that I came, I conquered, and I left. I’m no Alexander the Great, and I didn’t bring an army with me, but I assembled one when I got here and, together, we did it all!

Good by Valencia

On my final day, I popped into the bank where I opened my account last week. I needed some coaching on wiring money and how they do banking here – needing to pay my new Valencian Landlord and such. The woman who helped me open my account last Thursday was shocked to see me, and more than a little surprised to hear why I was there.

‘You’ve already rented an apartment?!”

‘Well, yes. That’s one of the main reasons I came here on this trip. And a few other things, as you know – like opening the bank account.’

She looked at me thoughtfully.

‘You are…I don’t know the word in English’ (she throws out a few Spanish words I don’t recognize).

My mind races. Thinking of a few things I’d been called in my life. They weren’t as flattering as one might think.

‘Organized?’ I offer with a smile, hoping she’s going to be charitable.

‘No.’ She types on the computer, frantically searching for the answer.

‘Determined! You are the most determined person I’ve seen.’

‘In a good way, right?’

She squints and then smiles.

‘Mmm. Sure.’

Perhaps she recognizes that my ‘bank door entering skills’ have much improved in 5 days! Anyway, this determined girl is going HOME. It will only take me 22 hours from now. Then I get to wake up and host Thanksgiving for our family! Yay! Lets just see how much determination I have left in the tank by then. Or how edible the dinner might be. Hasta Luego, Valencia!! We will meet again!

The New World

It’s funny. My whole life I’ve been taught that the US is the great experiment. My country is where the term ‘Melting Pot’ was first coined. Mass immigration in the late 19th and early 20th century from the rest of the world – namely from Europe and Central Asia filled the US with new blood, new ideas, new traditions. And the cultures that were landed on our shores are what made us who we are today. Here in Spain, I feel the same way.

I walk down these streets and I see people from all over the world. I hear languages and smell food cooking that is distinctly not Spanish. The people here seem to embrace or certainly tolerate those from other countries. I’m not saying there is not skepticism. Certainly, me being from the US has caused some people to pause. I see them look at me like ‘Why are you moving here?’ and sometimes it requires me to provide additional documents. Some assume it’s because of our current political situation in the US, and they tell me so. But overall, the people I’ve met that are both Spanish, and from other countries, have been welcoming and hospitable. They just want to get to know me. And I find I want to get to know them.

The Schengen agreement in the EU means that there are people in Valencia from all over Europe. The PA I hired is Latvian. She speaks many languages but her Spanish has been invaluable in helping me navigate. I’ve looked at apartments that are owned by Iranians and others who are not from here. All of this is the international soup that makes me feel like we could make this home. We won’t be the odd man out, because so many are from other places around the world.

It is interesting, though. I’ve traveled all over the world. But I was always going to go back to the US – that was home. So even if I was in a country for an extended period of time, I knew that the US is where I would return, eventually. But it will be different now. We will be the ones coming to a new place – to build our lives. Living with people whose language we are terrible at speaking. Trying to navigate a system we don’t really understand.

It makes me stop and think back. Have I always been patient with others who have come to my own country from the outside? Have I had expectations that they ‘Should just know’ how our system and culture works? That they should be able to communicate effectively and jump into the flow at the same pace as the rest of us who were born into it?

Coming here has held up a mirror for me, and given me a different perspective on how we treat outsiders in the US. Maybe we could be more patient. Maybe we could allow those who seek a different life amongst us, to reshape us and make us better, more compassionate people. Maybe the New World isn’t a place, but a state of being. The State of Kindness.

Shall we Dance?

DATELINE VALENCIA – In the last 36 hours, I have hired a lawyer, a Personal Assistant, opened a bank account, secured a second round of insurance that covers pre-existing conditions – because the first one didn’t, and toured 7 apartments. I’m a little bushed. But I have learned a lot about how things work. The biggest thing I’ve learned is how to dance. And not the Flamenco. There is a cadence to how things work here and I am starting to appreciate the pace and elegance of it. But it requires stamina.


ME: ‘I need a xyz – elephant, rental car, health insurance. Can you help me get any of these things?’

OTHER GUY: ‘No No No – this is impossible. There is no way we can do that. No way.’

ME: I look dismayed but am undaunted. I need this guy.

We talk a little. I explain who I am and that I have kids – this is real grease in Spain. I found this to be true in Greece and Lebanon too – so I pulled it out and used it liberally. I asked about his children or grand children, and thanked him profusely for even agreeing to meet me; expressing how sad I am that I won’t be able to do business with them. But I appreciate him taking the time.

THE OTHER GUY: ‘Well, maybe we could do something – but I don’t know.’

ME: ‘No, I don’t want to put you out. I totally understand you don’t want to take the risk with Americans. Even though we must prove financial stability to get a visa to live here, but of course, you have to protect yourself and your family.’

THE OTHER GUY: ‘No, I think I know someone who can help you. He has a xyz- elephant, rents cars and sells health insurance. I will call him.’

He gets on the phone. I recognize some of the words ‘Elefante’ and ‘coche’. Lots of rapid long conversation. He hangs up.

THE OTHER GUY: ‘He can’t come for 3 hours. Can you wait?’

ME: ‘Of course I can wait. You’re doing me a huge favor in helping me. I’ll stand right here. I won’t move.’

THE OTHER GUY: He frowns and sighs heavily. ‘Let me call him again.’

More rapid Spanish. Some walking around while gesturing. He hangs up.

THE OTHER GUY: ‘He is coming now.’

OK, maybe I don’t need to rent a car, and the elephant is a bit of a stretch, but you get the idea. Everything in the world is done based on relationships. But I have never lived anywhere that is as important as it is in Spain. Building a network, not just of other expats, but of Spaniards from every walk of life, will be key to living here and being happy. Good thing I like to dance.


Because You Asked

‘It’s never too late to be what you might have been’ ~ George Eliot

It was always my intention on this blog to keep it light, while conveying useful information about our adventures on our move to Spain. Lets face it – the process is fraught. But I was asked after my last post, and by a host of friends, and my Mom, ‘How the Hell did you come to the decision to Move to Spain!’ I thought I had addressed this earlier with my penchant for wine in the early afternoon. But there are other reasons, and if I’m honest, they aren’t as glib.

Moving to Spain for me, represents freedom. The freedom to finally choose. It’s something, real or imagined, that I haven’t been able to do for decades. And something I take total responsibility for. I spent part of the 90’s, all of the 2000’s, and most of this decade being a Mom. And not just any Mom. One that was determined to be the best Mom I could be. My children would be Citizens of the World. And that meant that I provided a lifestyle for my kids based on the ‘I’ll give them everything I never had’ School of Parenting. Not one I recommend – btw. Because once you’re on that train, there are no stops until the final station.

While our children were growing up, I was the top earner in our household. I enjoyed a stellar career – to be envied. From the outside. When my kids studied ancient Greece – we took them to the Parthenon. When they studied geology – we took them to Iceland where the European and North Atlantic plates are born. I regularly worked a 60 hour week in the city, with an hour and a half commute back to the idyllic community where we lived, for my children – best schools, best environment – safest. I took jobs I hated, kept jobs I loathed for years, so I could keep the family train moving down the tracks. I was miserable, and I was tired to the depths of my soul. But I kept going.

Last year, I took a new job in a new city because it was financially a good thing for our family. And every day, of the nearly one year I worked there, was soul crushing. I was doing work that was unsatisfying on every level. I was hopelessly overqualified. It was all I could do to get out of bed in the morning.

In early January of this year, we were in Paris for New Years. I spent the day in bed crying. Not ‘Boo Hoo, poor me’ crying. But ‘I can’t stop crying & I don’t know why’ kind of crying. I was going to have to go back and work at that place I loathed. Supporting everyone’s dreams but my own. I found at 50, I couldn’t do it anymore. Of course, Jeff’s was visibility concerned and he had a solution. ‘Go back and resign. We’ll figure it out.’

So I did. I went in on the Monday I got back and I left my job. It was hard. I was raised to believe hard work was virtuous. That rising up from the place your were born should be the number 1 goal.  And mine was a career that paid very well. I knew I was going against everything I had ever been taught. I was getting off the train. I could almost hear my grandparents yelling ‘Stay on the train, or it’s a waste of the ticket!!’

That night, Jeff said ‘So you’re going to go on that walk in Spain, right?’ And I did. With the intention that when I got back, I would go out and, somewhere in the US, I’d get a job like the last one I had, and earn, earn, earn. It’s what I knew how to do. But then I started climbing the Pyrenees,  walked through the Messeta, and I climbed up to Cruz de Ferro and left my stone. I spent 36 days shedding every mask I had ever worn.

No one knew me from before that moment on the Camino. They didn’t care about what I did for a living. They just talked to me, and shared their stories and I listened. And I learned, in the long hours of walking alone each day, to listen to myself. When I walked into Santiago and heard the piper, piping that mournful tune, I cried like a baby.

So I came home, and I told my husband that first I was going to write. For a long time, I have secretly written funny short stories on planes (and in some boring business meetings), or in hotel rooms, to pass the time. I had published some of them on Amazon, but it was less than a even a secret hobby. Coming back, I did write my first novel, in less than 8 weeks, after my Camino this summer. It’s ready for the editor!

But I also knew my job wasn’t the only thing I needed to refocus. The city in which we live, isn’t a final destination for us. It was a means to an end, when I took a job. When I got back to the US, after being gone for two months, I had jokingly said ‘Lets move to Spain!’ Not thinking Jeff would take it seriously. After a few trips to visit other places in the US and Canada, he just rolled over one night and said ‘OK. Let’s do it. Lets move to Spain.’

So, the decision to move to Europe was decades in the making. The Camino was just the final straw. But now that it’s here, all that came before is like looking back into the fog. I know what’s back there, but my future is in front of me. And from where I’m sitting, it includes a large glass of red wine and a view of the Mediterranean. Time to have some FUN!

Conference with the Sea

Today, we officially entered the home finding phase on the Yellow Brick Road to the Emerald City. Today, I spoke to my own version of The Great and Powerful Oz. My Gestor, Linda. Now that the time has fallen back to standard time in Spain – Arizona doesn’t bother doing that, at all – we are only 8 hours behind Valencia, instead of 9. This means almost nothing, except that I can sleep an extra hour and still return calls or emails in the morning before their working day ends. I’m almost a real live girl again, who can stay up past 8pm.

Linda explained all the ins and outs of leasing a flat long-term. The details of how we will go about it when I’m there later in November. Things like how to entice condo owners to lease to us, over the other guy, and how to have the utilities ready for us when we arrive in February.

Part of the main focus is to ensure that the owners get to know you, and feel connected to you, before they agree to crown you as the winner of the Rental Olympics. To facilitate this, I had to write a short bio to help convey who we are and why we want to live in Valencia and make it our home. This is harder than you’d think.

I racked my brain. What will they care about? What if they decide to buy my book on Amazon? Then they’ll know who I really am, and I’ll admit, its a little crazy under the hood.  Whew. OK. Best to be short and sweet. Just the facts, ma’am. So I wrote that up and sent it off.

Conference with the Sea

Next on the list was finding apartments that met our criteria. Even those that might be for sale, rather than for lease. To give Linda an idea of what we are looking for in our first year. Just until we can get the lay of the land. My favorite part of this exercise wasn’t looking at the photos or finding apartments on Google street view. It was reading the descriptions that had been auto translated on Chrome. Oh, Google. How you make me laugh.

Some of my favorites included:

‘A swimming pool that offers many possibilities…’ – I’m not quite sure what they’re trying to get at here. Usually, pools are for swimming – what else might they be implying?

‘A staircase of rise’ – As far as staircases go, I think it’s just up and down. I’m not sure pointing out that you can rise up on the staircase needs to be said. Unless they’re saying I can’t go back down it. That would be a problem.

‘Living room on the street’ – I think I know that they’re saying it overlooks the street. But as to the selling point, I don’t have the full grasp of the benefit of pointing it out. If I’m wrong – I’ll be watching TV on the sidewalk.

‘Great floor plan with public and private zones’ – aka living room vs. bedrooms?

‘Enjoy the dolphin show from you terrace!’ – seriously, I have no idea what they could possibly be talking about. How can Google translate something like dolphin incorrectly? But then if it isn’t dolphin, what the hell is in the show I’m going to enjoy from my terrace?!

‘Easy conference with the Sea’ – Based on the photos, I think it either means there is a view of the Med or that I can walk to the beach in short order and actually Conference with the Sea! I think I just felt my blood pressure go down.

It will be quite a ride finding the right place but I’m sending many of these places to my new friend, Linda. Hoping perhaps she can help me tease out the real meaning and find us the perfect place. But if I could advise anyone who is leasing or selling property in Valencia – or any seaside town on the Mediterranean – it would be to include that last one in your property description. I don’t care about the possibilities of swimming pools and staircases that rise. These people had me at ‘Conference with the Sea’.


Baja – ha ha ha

My vocabulary is increasing by the day. Not my English vocabulary, but my ‘Moving to Spain’ vocabulary. I have learned what a Baja is, and after being told it was essential that I obtain one of these, by my US shipper, learned that only citizens of Spain can get one. Yup. Just another day of ‘Huh? What’s that?’ and ‘Oh, so I can’t even get that and it’s not essential.’ after hours and sometimes days of chasing my tail via email and phone calls.

What is a ‘Baja’? It allows you to import your personal goods from another country into Spain duty free. The consulate set me straight. ‘Oh, international moving gods’, I chanted yesterday ~ ‘How can I stop all this misdirection and misinformation from sending me scrambling?’ The answer came to me in a dream… OK, not in a dream but by asking my helpful Expats on the closed FB group I belong to. And Voila! I have a Gestor.

One might think that a person who is hired to amuse the King, wouldn’t be the best person to help us navigate the confusing world of moving to Spain. But its not that kind of Gestor. This kind lives in the country, is familiar with the bureaucracy and just gets how things work. They know the system and they make a career out of helping people who don’t understand it, to get what they need.

At first I was like ‘Seriously? I need a person to help me understand how to file paperwork?!’ but after several weeks at this, I’m like ‘Seriously – I need a person to help me file paperwork, get insurance, get an apartment, get my NIE card, register with the town hall…’ and on and on. And of course, I must pay for this person to do these things for me – because it’s an actual job. And it’s essential. And I have no idea what I’m doing.

I’m having a WhatsApp call with my new Gestor early next week, to lay out a plan. Funny, I don’t feel so alone anymore. It’s like I have been running around in a dark room, bumping into everything. My shins are bruised and my knees bloody, from falling on my face daily. My wonderful Gestor, Linda, will be turning on the light. The reality might be blinding at first, but with a good pair of sunglasses, at least I’ll be able to see the whole picture.


Celebrating small wins

In my experience, people want to be helpful. At least that is what I’m finding in all my interactions with Spanish administrators, bankers, and the girl at the mailbox place in Valencia. And today I learned that I am a proud owner (renter) of a shiny new mailbox. I have never been so happy at 4:30am – the time I usually check my phone for emails from Spain.

My husband sleepily asked me why I was cheering – fist in the air –  and I proudly, and loudly, announced my little success.  Unimpressed, he promptly rolled over and went back to sleep. He’s insisted its foolish for me to try to live on Spanish time, and perhaps he’s right. But if doing business in the middle of the night means you can open a bottle of wine at 7am pacific time – I’m struggling to find the downside.

This little project of moving to Spain has fallen mostly to me and has become a little more than part time job. Its like a puzzle without the sharp, well defined edges that I’m determined to put together. And it’s not cheap. To get a mailbox in Spain, I had to wire transfer 85 euros – with my bank fee of $50 US – to their bank in Madrid. And that’s just the start. But I think it will all work out.

Every day in the mail, I get documents and it’s like Christmas holding up birth certificates, marriage certificates and notarized whoozy-whatsits. We are piled high with paper, and somehow I feel a deep sense of accomplishment at my archeological skills, digging through the file boxes of our life and coming up with something we will need to prove we’re upstanding citizens, or just that we’re who we say we are.

The bank person in Valencia is being very helpful and will also help me obtain insurance once I get the account open. Then I can travel to Valencia before Christmas and find a flat for us. By the time we get there in early March, I believe I will sleep for a week! And if I’m lucky – past 4:30am. It also means I’ll have to wait until 4pm to open a bottle of rose’. Ah, I found the downside.

More is, well…More

They say the first step is admitting you have a problem. Mostly this is applied to addictions like booze. In my case it applies to addictions like shoes.  Yes, it rhymes, but its not the same thing at all.

Today is inventory day. This is the day where I get honest with myself about what I have, what I need, and what I’m actually going to take with us when we move from Phoenix to Spain. And about 15 minutes ago was the moment when I admitted I had a problem. A BIG Costco sized problem. A BIG Nordstrom sized problem.

Our children are grown, or nearly grown. The big house was sold last year. The one with the extra refrigerator and freezer. I used to go to Costco and fill up the extra freezer with stuff ‘we might need’, ‘just in case’ the grocery store ever ran out of food – or the entire University of Washington football team dropped by.  Neither of these things ever happened.

I used to buy 100 rolls of toilet paper at a time, because, well – I could. And I would just put them in the storage room and replenish as needed. I was a hoarder but one that American society applauds because when you buy in bulk, you save money. Never mind the fact that you have $200 tied up in toilet paper for 2 years. I would have been better off investing it in the stock market.

In the US, I was raised that more is better. When we moved to our current house, I was proud of myself. I got rid of a ton, literally, a ton of stuff, and donated it all to charity. But half of ‘way, way too much stuff’ is still ‘way too much stuff’. It’s simple math, and I can’t take all this with us to Valencia.

My husband, Jeff has now officially banned the phrase ‘But what if I ever need…?’ from my lexicon. Different weights of wool black pants, 5 different heel heights of a patent black pump, and his favorite – a rainbow of colors in Converse sneakers. Don’t get him started on my wedges.

Heading into the kitchen brought me no joy. I have – no kidding – 12 frying pans. TWELVE. Jeff held them up.

‘We only have 4 burners on the stove.’

I am incensed.

‘They’re clearly different sizes and the sides are uniquely curved. See, some are graduated and some are straight up and down.’ Duh.

He looked at me like I was speaking in another language.

‘Can the spaghetti sauce or the bacon tell the difference?’ he asked.

‘No – but I can.’ I assured him – frowning.

‘You get 4. Four pans of varying sizes. And that’s assuming you use them all at the same time to cook a meal. The rest are going.’ He waved goodbye.

Next came the kitchen utensils. OK. I know I’m a little specialized in this area. I have an antique nut chopper. But hey, I use that at Christmas to make Russian tea cookies with pecans. Jeff reached in the drawer and held up something green.

‘If you can tell me what this is, I’ll let you take it with us.’ he offered charitably.

Oh the pressure. I hated pop quizzes in school. It was egg shaped and it had a scraper thing on the outside. So I knew it would scrap things, but I had never used it. I remember buying it on sale at Sur La Table in Scottsdale last year after a croissant making class (Note: I haven’t made croissants since then – who knew it was so involved?). But with the label gone, I had no idea what this thing was supposed to do for me.

‘I need to go to the bathroom! I’ll be right back.’ I declared.

He couldn’t protest this. I grabbed my phone and ran to the bathroom and shut the door. Pro tip: Googling ‘green kitchen utensil with scraper thingy’ doesn’t return results that are at all helpful. And the pictures were nothing like what my husband was holding up. I waited 5 minutes and then returned to the kitchen, hoping he would have lost interest. But he was too cagey for me. He was still standing there with the green unknowable clasp in his hand.

‘So? Did Google help you figure out what this is?’ He smirked.

‘What? I don’t have to Google it.’ I assured him – rolling my eyes.

‘So what is it?’

I squinted and concentrated like a carnival fortune teller – but nothing came to me. It was green. I looked around the kitchen and my gaze landed on an avocado in the bowl on the counter.

‘Its an avocado scraper!! Duh? I can’t believe you didn’t know that.’ I said with bravado I didn’t feel.

‘You can’t use a spoon like the rest of the civilized world?’ He looks at me with the contempt I deserve.

‘Not if you want your guacamole to be bruise-free.’ I say confidently.
It’s a good thing we have 4 months to go before the movers come. We’ve only gotten through one utensil drawer and the pressure is killing me.

Questions, Questions, Questions

OK, so maybe I’ve emailed too many questions to the consulate. I’ve never had to go through the rigorous process for establishing residence in another land. So I’m not sure why I’m so wrapped around the axle on doing this. Perhaps it’s the conflicting information on their website. Or all the conflicting information on other blogs. But I decided today to just go for it and start filling out the paperwork, while trying to secure a medical insurance policy via email using only Google translate as my help mate. Needless to say, I ran out of printer ink for all the times I had to reprint forms due to mistakes and reversing ‘Nombre’ and ‘Social nom’. But I think I got it!

In researching Spanish health insurance, I find it’s pretty awesome and relatively inexpensive. I almost can’t wait to become ill when I get there! Based on the policy I saw today, I could lounge around in a hospital, post some kind of surgery, for a month at no charge. Then go to a mental hospital for another 60 days – gratis! OK, maybe that’s a little extreme but the coverage is pretty amazing.

Sometimes, I find the hardest part is just the waiting. Our FBI background checks – after finding out my fingerprints are woefully inadequate, while Jeff’s were ‘perfect’ – will take months to get back. Then they must be quickly translated by an official translator, before I can set an appointment with the Consulate. But we persevere.

Now I just have to figure out what an ‘Apostle of the Hague’ is, so I can get all our documents blessed by that person, and we’ll be good to go! Maybe I should call the local Catholic Church and see if they have one of those.

So You Say You Want to Move to Spain

The decision has been made. After spending the summer walking the Camino de Santiago with my daughter, we decided to move to Spain. Now for the hard part. The administrivia of getting from decision to getting on an airplane is fraught with missteps, frustration, misunderstanding and broken Spanish. But here we go!