A day or two before we moved in (a couple of weeks ago), we hired a truck and a couple of men to load furniture. We went to Apaseo El Alto, a town about 50 miles from here where there are dozens and dozens of men -- never women as best as I could tell -- who make wooden furniture. From father to son to son to son ... We had many things to buy, for both casas and the guest room, and had we bought all that here in higher-priced San Miguel de Allende it would have cost a great deal more money. A month earlier we had ordered exactly what we wanted, all of it hand-carved, and picked it up just before we moved. Here's a photo of the truck being loaded.
There was so much stuff! For my house alone there were eight dining room chairs, a coffee table and two end tables, a dresser, a cabinet for linens, and two bedsteads and two headboards (for my bedroom and my sleeping porch). More for the guest room, and some more for Rick's house. Here's the pattern I chose for your room — it's on the headboard and the wardrobe. Cheerful, no?
After we moved in -- and I'll spare you the sight of the chaos of boxes -- the workers are still working on the outside of the houses, on the front wall, among other things. Here's a photo of the wall being stuccoed, and then of the wall painted a beautiful deep red at the bottom and a cream at the top. We don't know much much of this 18-meter wall Béa and Stephan are going to want to use for their mural, but we remain thrilled that there will be a beautiful mural there.
To give you an idea of what it might be like, here's a painting that the two of them painted together a couple of years ago. You can see San Miguel in the upper left.
Above the guest room is now a full laundry room, equally accessible to both of us. There's a fence in the front now.
One of the great pleasures for me of being in this house is that I finally have a screened sleeping porch, a lifelong dream. Every morning I wake up enveloped in this beautiful jacaranda tree. In the spring it will be covered with lavender blossoms. The three cats sometimes snuggle under the down quilt with me.
The kitchen has also turned out to be beautiful. The lit area under the cabinets holds my kitchen appliances, so never again will I have to lift a heavy Mix-master from a bottom shelf!
The kitchen is a middle room with not one window, so I've put in skylights and opened the wall to the living room. There's now a much more open feeling to it, but I did one more thing to enlarge the room: a wallpaper mural. Needless to say, it features arches.
The gray thing at the left is the back of the sink counter. It will eventually have a beautiful piece of wood on it, so try not to focus on that now.
The last thing I'd like to show you is some of the shelves in the pantry. It used to be a completely useless full bathroom behind the kitchen, and it now has shelves on all four walls, two walls of shelves somewhat shallower for groceries and two walls somewhat deeper for dishes, bowls, and such. My sister gave me the marvelous idea of pull-out shelves as staging areas for putting things away -- thank you, Sara!
Through all this, I certainly have not forgotten that what has been going on here is not just the excitement of designing and moving into a new house, but a marital separation after fourteen years. Age 68 is not the best of times (as if there were such a thing) for a woman to become single again, but then I have not noticed life presenting us with perfect vs. imperfect solutions to any problem. I think Rick and I are doing fine. He and Mela the dog are 15 feet away in the casita, and we are cooperative and helpful with each other. This is the most amicable separation I can imagine, so please do not feel apprehensive about visiting. We are both focusing on the advantages of the new arrangement, not as pollyannas but as I think realists, and if it goes as we hope we will continue to be important friends for each other.
I have joined a health group. Since there are many retired expats living here, the demographics of age dictate that many of these people will be single. Health groups exist all over town, informal cooperatives where a small number of people exchange relevant information, keys, and promises of mutual aid if needed. Every morning, for example, I email two people that I am fine and equally receive emails from them. If my email is not received then my health care partners check up on me, and vice versa. All necessary, all sensible.
Something very exciting! I have decided on a supremely self-indulgent thing. The other day I wrote out a check for $545 US dollars in exchange for home delivery of the Sunday New York Times for one year. It was delivered for the first time this past Sunday, and I can't tell you how much I am loving having it again. And no, reading it online is absolutely not a substitute, not even close. I curl up in my reading chair with the Book Review, with my soft fake mink throw on my lap and maybe a cat on top of that, and I am as close to heaven as I get.
And I have made a new friend, Becky, whom I am enjoying immensely. As coincidence would have it, we both went to the same high school and have a parent from Belgium who survived the Holocaust. As she is new here, she is marvelous about finding out about and going to all sorts of events. It's true that I've been pretty wrapped up in moving lately, but a newcomer is still much better at going out than someone who's been here a while. The other day she reminded me that there was something at the Botanical Garden conservatory in its last day, and I am absolutely thrilled I went with her. Some scientists had hooked electrodes up to a cactus plant and had spliced in the harmonics of lute strings when stimulated by electric current from the plant. I sat there, entranced in a kind of meditative state, for three quarters of an hour, listening to the most beautiful music. I have looked online to see if perhaps there might be a CD of such a thing, but haven't found it. If any of you know of one, would you tell me? Instant peace and tranquility.
And may the bliss be with you too ...