October 30, 2004


Ever since Juno passed away, a cascade of decisions and circumstances have led us into finally begin furnishing our place as winter approaches. We've put this off for a long time, living with remnants and cardboard boxes. It's been great, minimal stylin'. Now, as the colder weather is coming and we are apprehensive... probably overestimating what is to come as we did the coming summer heat whilst living in Texas.

As you might have seen in the last post about the kitchen, all of a sudden, a gestalt... now, there's a place for everything. The way we think about improving this place now has a sense of a destination for what "home" might mean here physically at #6 Sant Telm.


Since the last binge of painting, the revenge of household chores and projects had their way. Our topside terrace is complete: walls painted white, rail installed and painted black, doors and side lites replaced, stained and sealed, the walls cleaned up... it's not a tv room or a guest bedroom, or a library, we left it minimal, a room in the abstract, Marfa stylin'.

D. Judd profilin'.

(...sort of.)

Meanwhile, our German neighbors are selling some of their furniture. The photo at the top of this blogpost features our new table, Catalan circa 1920's or so. A retired couple (hydrologists), they were victims of a "friend" who sold their home whilst they were away in Saudi Arabia on a contract job. I don't know how this could have happened, but it did. Their case has been languishing in the courts here for six years so far. Now, all they have is a pension and a possible redemption in the courts. They live in a small apartment in Tossa until the justice system comes to a conclusion. I try to keep the conversation positive, naturally. A "New-Now" for them, indeed.

Our friends Piet and Monique are off for a long vacation and they asked us to watch thier dogs, splitting the responsibility with thier niece here in Tossa. We also got to drive their car, a silver Land Rover commuter variety. Diesel. It is amazing to be able to extend your range after you've been on foot for so long.

After Spanish class, we drove to Girona to plunder the super stores clustered there. We found all the stores closed for a festival, so we steered toward another complex in Badalona instead. Folks, I have to report that there is not a whit of difference in the shopping experience between the USA and Spain. I don't know for sure, but I suspect that this is the case for the EU in general. All over the world, we are building Car Cities. There is no alternative urban idea to compete with the pattern of suburbanization, the zoned city.

EU/Spain/Catalonia----- USA/ SOCAL
Decathalon----- Sports Chalet
Bauhaus----- Home depot
Media Market----- Circuit City

It took the entire day, we were exhausted. We haven't been grinding the gears of consumption since we arrived here in Tossa. No TV, no car... and it's all good. We like finding the day to day rythmn without prothesis. But this day, it came rushing back in. Alotta consumin' goin' on here. A door mat, a rug, a lamp, mittens, sweaters, and more. Civilized. We stopped in Lloret to eat at a Mexican restaurant that we heard of in class. Not so good. A true Cali-Mex menu would kick ass here. This place was Catalan-Mex... and I guess it had to be.

Returning home, we stash our stuff, park the car and visit Kiko and Teresa. They had some furniture that they are replacing and they offered the old ones to us... thanks but no thanks (sometimes this can be good, but not this time. We repair to El Pirata for beers and rounds of Parcheesi. The games go on until four in the morning. We bailed at three.

That night, we met another friend of El Pirata, a painter from Barcelona, Enrique Bertrand. I was introduced as an abstract painter. An older guy (maybe he's in his late 60's), he told me he was of the old school, las Bellas Artes. He said that in his world, one only begins to paint after years of drawing. Immediately I wondered how good his hand was. Then, I thought about the regime it must be to draw so much, how a mind can be formatted by the experience. For me, even from painting to painting, an exceptional experience such as a particularly good painting, can be a hurtful impediment for the one that comes after. All the better to shatter it for the next.

I thought too, how intimidated a person would feel if they entered art around the wall of drawing excellence. My early days were saturated with drawing. I visited the Prado when I was thirteen and I was steeped in drawing for years before that seminal moment. I haven't drawn like that for a while. I think David Hockney is admirable for his restless pencil. My skills are no doubt rusty but if I had a chance to oil them down, it'd be a kickin' engine. (Temerity, an occupational hazard.)

He thought that color was the pentultimate problem, nearly impossible to negotiate at all. All the better to tackle it, I said. Easy things can be fun, but it's the things that bedevil us that spins the story worth writing.

Cool guy, a big mane of hair swept back. Leather jacket, I could see the longjohns and that he knows the cold here. Old Catalan. He makes his money painting portraits and spending them on wine, women and song. Ladies man, you can tell. Well, I'm not sure about the song. The ladies (Stephanie, Monica, & Pepa) swept him into a game of Parcheesi.

Bertrand was delighted.

They played loudly with intense focus (great language immersion training). They played, and the owner of the bar, Joan, ferried paintings down from his apartment home upstairs (above the bar) for our/my appreciation: impressionist sailing impastos, surrealist landscapes, slap happy abstractions... collected with an innocent but interested eye. And in each painting, there was something redeemable, something worth remembering later. A good collection.

A good night.

Posted by Dennis at October 30, 2004 8:38 PM

Leave a comment