Sunday, April 19, 2009

Saturday Afternoon, April 18

Last year while I was in France with this family, laundry became my mission.  I would and did wrestle those washing machine into submission, dealt with constant flooding and left the family for at least one day all laundry washed, sorted, folded (put not put away--no closets there).

Here, it is the garden.  Adriana and I got the giggles together yesterday as we were sitting outside on a gorgeous day as she finally told me they had hoped I'd do something about their yard and get a vegetable garden started for them, but didn't want to tell me ahead of time so it would look like they were bringing me over here just to work.

Well, by not telling me, I also didn't pack any work clothes.  In fact, I, the master of the light packer, may have truly outdone myself.  As in one pair of jeans, one pair of shoes, a few shirts and a couple of nicer pants, one skirt just in case, and a limited supply of other necessities.  Nothing I could garden in and get dirty.

When I first mentioned this, Adriana in all her beautiful skinniness turned to me and said, "Oh no problem, you can wear something of mine!"  Since two of her would still not make one of me, I thanked her graciously for the compliment and said perhaps we could find a place that sells cheap clothing and just get something that I can get dirty in and then throw away when I leave.

Yesterday (Saturday) morning, Jonathan kept the children while Adriana, Rocio and I went to a nearby garden center to get some plants, some tools, and, I kept insisting, some work clothes for me.

Now, before going on with this, please know that EVERYONE gardens here.  In their small lots are profusions of flowers and green, green grass and cascading shrubs and vines.  Few yards (they are all called gardens here) look neglected, although some get more care than others.  So when we drove into the garden center, I landed in gardening heaven.  And by the time we drove into the one Rocio chose for shopping, we had passed at least five others--all within two or three miles of their houses.  This is MAJOR INDUSTRY here. 

I happily picked out necessary tools, found some knee pads and garden clogs for my feet, and we bought a profusion of vegetables and flowers to dress up the front and add even more beauty to the back.  However, we didn't find any work clothes and had to get back to the house because Jonathan was getting ready to cook out and needed us back there.

As I said, it was a gorgeous day--light blue skies, temperature around 65 degrees, gentle breeze.  The two families gathered around outside to eat and drink and relax.  Joshua and Samuel, sated by sunshine and good food, both fell asleep and were carried in for long naps.  I wanted to start working and asked if one of them would drive me to a shop where I could get some things.  (I will NOT drive here--that is a whole 'nother story).  Then Rocio says, "O don't worry--you can wear some of mine."  OK, Rocio, if possible, is even skinnier than Adriana.  I'm thinking:  do these women not have eyes?  But she said, "I have just what you need.  I'll go get it for you."  A few minutes later, she brought in a bag of old paint clothes, including a pair of stretch pants, beautifully paint spattered, that my some miracle did manage to make it around me with adequate comfort, and some old sweaters of Ian's (Rocio's husband) that will work fine.

Jonathan and I, and eventually, the children and Adriana, then spent the rest of the lovely afternoon cleaning out some overgrown beds, clearing a space for the vegetable garden, planning how he can build a sandbox for the children.  Jonathan is a bit naive about how much strength it will take to haul several thousand pounds of sand up a very steep hill to the sandbox location.  After some conversation, he has decided to hire help for that part of the construction.  We had bought Joshua some tools and a set of gloves for him, knowing he would want to mimic what he saw me and his dad doing, and he had a great time.  He was helping me pull some weeds and chattering happily in Spanish.  I apologized to him for not knowing Spanish and asked if he would be willing to speak to me in English.  He gave me his happy smile that lights up his lovely face and began to talk in English to me.  Clearly, he understands all that is said to him in English, but his spoken vocabulary is still limited. Nonetheless, he is now working to speak only English to me and this will be a big help to him when he goes back to nursery school at the end of April when the long spring break is over.

The long nap meant the children were extremely difficult to get to bed last night, but it was finally accomplished, and Jonathan, Adriana and I set around the small kitchen bar and ate leftover and shared a bottle of wine and told stories.  One that will be the family legend is how Adriana told Jonathan that she was leaving him THAT DAY if he didn't get her moved out of their New York apartment as it was becoming increasingly rat infested.  This was when Joshua was about 15 months old and she was seven months pregnant with Samuel.  He most definitely took her at her word and had them in a different apartment by the next day.  Good thing they can laugh at all this now!

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