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Posts Tagged ‘the homestead’

Oh, Painting.

Dulux brand matt color “Blue Reflection” (a lovely deep robin or duck egg blue) for main walls, some chintzy-sounding name of pale cream for the slanted wall and the roof. Yesterday was Clean Vaseline Off Baseboards Day and today is Sand Spackle And Paint Walls While Drinking Red Wine Day. Whoa. It’s amazing how easy it is to tell, when walls are white, that the person who lived in the room before you smoked, once the posters are off the wall and you see the clean rectangles left behind.

Spackle is a pain in the butt if you put it on too heavily. Even heavy grit sandpaper, as wielded by mere human hands, hardly makes a dent in it. But it will make use of hands, shoulders and arms that haven’t had much asked of them lately.

Alright, time to get back to it. Photos later.

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Earlier this week I complained about meat being left in the kitchen garbage bin overnight, not wanting there to be flies in the apartment, and the boyfriend said, “This is England. There aren’t any flies in England!” In some respects, I almost believed him, there are no snakes, right? (heh…) But what about gnats? I’ve seen plenty of those. And midges? They’ve got to be here. And this isn’t just England, it’s London, and big cities always have flies.

Today I was vindicated, though I’m not happy to have this victory, when I saw a fat fly buzzing its way around the kitchen. There is a small hole in the top pane of our kitchen window, it happened before we got here when a workman unlocked the window and instead of pushing open the bottom one, the top one came crashing down, smashing his fingers in the process (so I hear). Having lived several years in New York City, and being from Florida, I was understandably worried about flying insects coming into the house via this aperture and then completely flummoxed when I realized that none of the windows in the house have screens on them!!!

*blink blink blink*

What will we do in the Spring? It’s been gloriously cool a few times in the past weeks, and I had the windows open happily, but it didn’t occur to me the first time I opened it that we lacked a screen. I must conclude that bugs will not be as great a problem here as in my past.

On a related note, what the heck do I do regarding storm windows? The bay window in our habitacion has two big and two small sash windows blocked by storms. I cannot raise them up, as I was used to doing in NYC, and my landlord has asked that we not remove them as apparently they are wicked difficult to get back in. Does it really not get that hot here? This means we can only have one window open at a time (we can slide one of the big ones over) and I dread the summer.

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Last night was a surprisingly booze-filled outing to Westies (drinks get-together for those on the London Fixed Gear Single Speed Forum who live in/near West London). Madness, really, by the end of the night I found myself wrestling with someone in the pub! I don’t know what I was thinking, but I was really mad b/c without taking off my earrings, or bracelet, or having a little padding on the floor, I couldn’t go all out.

These past two weeks have been better for me than being in Madrid, I can go out and actually speak to people and though it’s a different culture it’s not quite as different as Spain. The boyfriend is out of school from Thursday to Sunday, we ride our bikes a lot, talk a lot, mess around on the internet and clean house. I’m still trying to wade through the application to register as a social worker trained and qualified outside of the UK. It’s an amazing process. After however many weeks it takes me to gather all the necessary paperwork, fill it out, etc., once I send it in it will be four months before I receive my registration. Only then may I apply for jobs. And if I have the information correct, once I find an agency that is able to sponsor me, I am not guaranteed sponsorship but if I am, they have to submit the paperwork 2 months before start of employ and I must leave the country for no less than 6 weeks. *sigh* It is ridiculous to have so much red tape surrounding a field for which they’re desperate to find more workers.

And since I’m here on a tourist visa I might possibly have to leave the country before I find work, in which case I’ll have to come back, find work and then leave again. I think. But I am trying to do everything by the book so as not to jeopardize my chances of receiving the proper papers and legal standing here.

I’ve purchased a new (used) bicycle frame, we’re going to build it up in the coming weeks. It’s a Joe Waugh and I’ve decided to repaint her and call her Evelyn. I’ve found the original Evelyn’s signature online and plan to have a decal made of it to put on the top tube just at the juncture with the seat tube. It came in the mail this morning at the ungodly hour of 8:15 and we’ve been up ever since, despite tying one on last night. I feel a disco nap is in order so we may be prepared for the housewarming party tonight but since I’m sitting here with a cup of coffeerocket fuel I doubt that will happen.

Can’t wait to see the mix of people we amass tonight, there are people from the forum, some of the boyfriend’s classmates, O & K, and our female roommate’s friends. There will be tacos, guac, salsa, indian rice (brought by an attendee, made by her mom), and other bits and bobs. Our lovely attendees will be bringing booze, so except for the Drambuie the boyfriend mistook for some sort of whiskey, we aren’t contributing much of anything in that area.

The painting of the bedroom is mostly done, it’s a rich robin’s egg blue, there are just a few more places I missed when filling holes in the wall; will do those soon then paint them over.
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I’d heard Madrid was a really late-night city but I hadn’t had too much personal experience with the late hours here until last night. The restaurant across the street is gonna seriously suck come summer, if I’m still here. Various groups of people left its interior and hung around its environs, talking very loudly, from 2:30 a.m. to 5 a.m. when I finally managed to pass out. My sleeplessness couldn’t be completely put down to them, though, The boyfriend gets here today and I’m super excited to see him. I think that was the main problem last night. At least I had bought a book the other day so I could while away the time with that. I’d needed something to read and books are expensive here, so I went for the biggest one I could find, regardless of whether I’ve read it before or not. I haven’t read it in years, so the details are all new to me.

I finally woke up around 10:45 a.m. and turned on the computer to see that the boyfriend’s flight has been delayed, then delayed again and he won’t even leave London until 12:30 p.m. Thank god it’s a super short flight, only about 2 1/2 hours. At least I have time to further neaten the apartment now. On that note, I had another stick of butter but I can’t seem to find it. Where does butter go when your roommate barely eats at home? Oh, there it is, in the butter/cheese drawer. Silly American, putting the butter where it’s supposed to go.

The problem with the boyfriend getting here so late, aside from the poor guy having to figure out how to fritter away 3 hours in the airport, is that we were to go pick up a much smaller desk from a guy. We need this because the room I’m in is so small that fitting two twin sized beds in it is going to be a bit like playing Tetris with the giant desk that’s currently taking up about 1/3 of the space. Back to the drawing board? Maybe I can move it myself. Ha, that’s a joke. Unless I can take it apart without materially weakening it. Whatever happens, we’ll figure it out. Problem solving is a specialty of mine.

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I’m in Spain! Wow! I wasn’t able to write during the first week, in London, as I am generally unable to when on vacation. That’s basically what being in London was like, going on vacation and now that I’m in Spain I’m supposed to be trying to start a life – however short or long a time I’ll be here. But what a life to try and start! Nothing is even remotely the same as any hispanic neighborhood I’ve lived in and I don’t know how easily I can fall back on English should things get hairy. I know I don’t want that, I need to keep speaking Spanish as often as possible, but it’s a scary prospect at first.

Just before the plane touched down in Madrid, I was offered refreshments and chose a coffee. In the two seconds between the man setting down a covered cup and asking me a question, I realized, “Uh oh”. You betcha, “Will that be euroes or Stirling?” Shit. I have neither, only dollars. I grudgingly handed the man a $20 and was returned 10 euros!!! They used rather draconian conversion rates of $2/£ then converted £ to euros. Basically, I paid $8 for a cup of airline coffee. Awesome, eh? At least this was the last in a long line of charges, hassles and difficulties spanning Friday to Sunday. All of it was travel-related, most of it London’s obscenely expensive Tube service. It’s NOT the NYC MTA, my friends, and we need to stop complaining about the “high price” of service. Imagine spending up to $3.50 on one leg of your day’s journey if you live anywhere but central Manhattan. Oh, and you can’t use it past 11 p.m. Oh, and you’ll pay double for bus tickets if you don’t use their little card that you have to pay a $3 deposit to use.

Back to the hassles and charges, I didn’t realize that I was bringing “too much” to Spain and was levied a £61 fee for my excess weight at the ticket counter. Yikes! This was the penultimate in the series, the night before when I’d gone to email my roommate I found out that I’d been somehow misreading the time of departure from London the whole time and I was to leave from a distant airport at 9:30 in the morning. Tube service doesn’t start until 6 a.m. thus I was obliged to take a £45 cab ride, but I made it on time! To anyone traveling in London – never take the first quote a cab service offers you, they would have charged me £60 if I hadn’t decided to try and look elsewhere.

When I arrived on Sunday, around 1:30 p.m., my roommate was visiting her parents for the weekend, she had Monday off as it was a Spanish national holiday. The guy whom I was supposed to call spoke in extremely rapid Spanish (dang, all those emails in Spanish to my roommate gave her a vaulted opinion of my abilities) that I basically misunderstood. Turns out he wasn’t in her apartment but close by and would be there shortly. It was raining, I had everything I brought with me hanging off my person, and I had to make two trips to nearby public telephones to try to sort everything out. It was, indeed, sorted, I was explained the intricacies of the apt. that he could remember (in English), then he blessedly left me to myself. I took a shower and regrettably slept the rest of the daylight hours away. With no internet (improper converter, no adapter for my computer), no books [I’d just finished the one Ollie gave me (The Back Passage, a hilarious gay porn “traditional English country manor murder mystery”)], and no television (it requires two buttons pushed, one on the set itself and one I wouldn’t have expected to push on the remote), I decided I’d go ahead and take a walk in the rain.

Being unsure what would be open for business, I decided to stick close to the apartment. Not much nearby was open but for gaming parlors and a few fried snacks/beer joints. This is not the swanky neighborhood. My new roommate didn’t come home until quite late from visiting her parents in the north, near the border with France. The bolt lock to my apartment door must be turned four times to open or lock it from the outside, that was quite a strange thing to find out. The rest of the apartment is small and definitely different than American tastes expect. Half kitchen, two electric burners, no oven. Whoops, there go my dreams of learning to bake better. But it will be fine for the two months I am here right now and until I decide whether I want to stay in Madrid or go home or to Barcelona. I need to get a job, first! I’ll go bonkers if I’m here for two months without some way to fill my time.

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