Grab the nearest book.
* Open the book to page 56.
* Find the fifth sentence.
* Post the text of the next seven sentences in your journal along with these instructions.
* Don't dig for your favorite book, the cool book, or the intellectual one: pick the CLOSEST.
Similimente a li splendor mondani
(Translation from p.57:
Last night, a bunch of randy gay dancing boys and I pulled off a glorious queer invasion of a performance by the Glenn Miller Orchestra on the aircraft carrier USS Hornet. The aircraft carrier is permanently docked in Alameda as a museum of vintage aeronautic delights. The enormous central hanger has been converted into a performance space with three large dance floors. At this benefit, we got to dance to big band swing music among the aircraft and helicopters. All the guests were encouraged to dress in period military but of course, we went overboard. Our dashing outfits and fancy dance moves endeared us to everyone there. It was a blast!
They hold these events twice a year or so and we are all planning on continuing the gay sailor tradition! Let us know if you want to join in!
P.S. There was also a hot lesbian contingent but they are in a separate photo.
So I've gathered some photos from my stay in Oviedo. They are mostly street shots to give you a sense of the place. It's not the biggest or most happening city in the province, that's Gijon on the coast just to the north. But Oviedo definitley has its old world charms. It shows its age well.
Well I made it home safe and sound, and I am surprisingly elated to be back. It's usually nice to return to my routines after a trip abroad but this time I actually feel glee as I look out over the landscape and smell the air. Strange, because I really did love the land in Asturias. I guess this all just feels more like home right now. I remember that it took a while for the Bay Area to feel like home. Maybe even 10 years. I started noticing that the seasons made sense and I felt aligned with the natural cycles of the land here. No matter how beautiful or special a place is, I think it takes me time to make it my own. Maybe I can only have one "homeland" at a time. I don't know.
It feels important to think about this now because I need to make some decisions soon about the farm in Asturias. Will I work to preserve it or let it go? For me, a lot of it seems to hinge on my feelings of home and belonging. Yes, my roots are there but I don't automatically feel a part of things in Asturias. I'm pretty sure that I could connect deeply with the land there, given time. I don't know about the people though. Everyone was lovely and friendly and hospitable. But I'm not sure how I fit into the way of life there. Like many rural towns in Europe, the village of Sangoñedo has been progressively depopulated as everyone has moved to the cities. The traditional way of life in these towns is dying. I'm not sure what will replace it and I don't know how I would fit into that new picture. Still thinking and feeling.
Here are some of the photos I promised:
Lots has happened in the past few days and I didn´t have any internet access over the weekend to post. I can´t tell you everything but here are some highlights (pics as soon as I get home):
- long hikes in the mountains with the boys, all beautiful, some difficult and exhausting. Scary fly plague in an ancient beech forest.
- swimming in pristine glacial tarns and under remote waterfalls
- great conversations with my nephews about life, love and belonging (over stupefyingly heavy Asturian meals)
- strange but informative little ethnographic museums in tiny remote towns
- the most changeable weather I have ever experienced, but overall quite pleasant. We are in the 60s & 70s while the rest of Spain bakes close to 100!
- lots of hair-raising driving on tiny little mountian roads in a tiny little Fiat Punto.
- intermittent home sickness and general melancholia, hard to shake lonely feeling
- worry about the farm and the possibility of having to give it up
- happy expectation about the return home!
So my nephews and I are situated here in the small town of Tineo in western Asturias. We´re about 15 minutes from the tiny village of Sangoñedo where my family´s farm is. It´s very quiet around here. Not totally dead mind you though. You still see folks walking the streets and conversing. You even see some young folks in the mix. Everyone is very aware of our presence. Especailly as the days pass and we don´t go away. Many ask us what the hell we are doing here (in a nice way) and that always starts some interesting conversations.
Yesterday we went to the farm and sure enough the wonderful neighbors insisted on feding us and plying us with alcohol. A huge multicourse meal in the middle of the day with arroz con pollo, fish, lamb, and the ubiquitous home-made cured meats.
While we were waiting for the meal, the boys and I started cleaning out the house. We just piled up rotten furniture along side of the house. I think the nieghbors were shocked at how much we were throwing out. But I have to say, that the house already feels better. I began to have some trouble with the mold and mildew level in there however; allergies have been acting up.
Then we had a local wood worker, Martin, come out to look at the roof and the true scope of this restoration project began to dawn on me. As we stepped into the HUGE attic space, I could see the water damage to the main beams and the gaping holes in the tile work where the rain had been coming in. Martin very calmly tried to explain the situation and what it would take to fix it. I think I started spacing out a bit and had trouble understadning all the construction talk in Spanish. He noticed and suggested that we follow him up to the next town where he had just finished replacing the roof on a house very similar to ours. I agreed and we headed up a dicey dirt road to the next town. Wow, his work on that house was BEAUTIFUL. I took lots of pictures and will post them when I get home. It really helped to be able to see exactly what he ws talking about. As we finished talking outside of the house, I began to feel less overwhelmed by it all. I also noticed that Martin was quite attractive. I even had the wherewithal to flirt a bit and ask him about his life there. There was some friendly shoulder squeezing that should provide the beginnings of some excellent fantasies.
Martin will be giving us an estimate on the roof sometime next week and I expect it will be high. He bascially has to rebuild it from scratch. But if we want to save the house, it´s the only way. If not, water will get into the walls and they will discombobulate quite quickly. In Martin´s words, "in a few years, you will have a pile of rocks." The walls are made of stacked rock with some kind of mud mortar between them. If the water gets in, the mortar will quickly give and the 400 year old structure will disintegrate entirely. The day of reckoning is here for this house and we will have to bite the bullet and pay for the roof, or say goodbye to the whole thing. I´m just glad I don´t have to make that decision on my own.
My sister Mari and my niece Mary left this morning to return to the States. My nephews, Mike & Jon, and I will check out of the hotel in a couple of hours and relocate to the small town of Tineo. I seem to be slowly progressing from urban to rural on this trip (London - Oviedo - Tineo - Sangoñedo).
The transtition is bringing up a bit of anxiety for all of us but I´m hopeful. Mike, Jon & I had a great time yesterday hiking a bit around a glacial tarn up in the Picos de Europa. Our first hike here in Spain and a taste of things to come. They are both very excited about exploring on foot and I´m delighted. When all else fails, we can walk...
Body still doesn´t like the food situation. I feel sluggish and thick. Maybe the walking will help there too. There´s a big open air market next door to this library; maybe I´ll resort to raw vegetables since I have no where to cook things.
I don´t know what kind of internet access I will have in Tineo. There may be a library I can use or an internet cafe. I will explore. But if you don´t hear from me for a while, don´t worry.