Wednesday, June 27, 2007

liquor barn

who knew a lawnmower and a new tv could bring so much pleasure? (okay, so really it was the company we had when we bought said items that made my day... but still, how can you resist an opening line like that?)

the dyerdad came for a visit this week, and it has been wonderful to see family again. or really, any familiar face. he was a real trooper when it came time to shop for appliances, and even helped us map out the town a little with the discover of another sporting goods store, and the infamous liquor barn- the ultimate party store! the story:

we were trying out the new grill, and had decided that it was of utmost importance that we have some margaritas as an evening beverage accent... this point was made more resolute by the realization that we were out of jose cuervo (small family party after graduation took care of that bottle and saved us from having to move it...) and needed limade and limes... yes, we prettymuch only had the ice and a few drops of triple sec... so we made for the nearest liquor store: 2 blocks from our house. SCARY! they did have tequila, so not all was lost, but this establishment was a sorry excuse for a liquor store (and this from the girl who is drunk after one drink!). after dinner, curt diligently looked online for a better way to procure future beverages... and discovered, not to far across town, the liquor barn...

upon entering the establishment, we discovered that this place does NOT deserve the name. wewere inundated with fabulous cheeses and meats, an olive bar, and even fabulous international crackers! there were over a dozen isles of alcohol, with wines separated geographically (yes, we got some rioja wine to remind us of our trip), and vast arrays of ever liquor imaginable... w efound spanish 10 year reserve brandy, all sorts of high quality boozes, and goggled at the locked chest contianing brandy at the measly pittance of $5000... there is beer from around the country (good microbrews), especially some of curt's favorite michigan brands!

our larders are now full, we have happily sampled the spanish brandy, and we have discovered a national treasure, contentedly sitting right by our doorstep!

and on a similar note, another fabulous thing about lexington is the recycling! we have a city trash bin, an equally sized recycling bin, and a third for yard waste! we can recycle clear, green and brown glass, and all kinds of cardboard (not to mention the usuals) curbside! i LOVE this town!

oh! and wehave a live rosebush!
i have once again been blown off course, and will write more later about what has been going on here....


Friday, June 22, 2007

watch out, i may have turned my brain on...

house update: we have all amenities, the bedroom and kitchen are mostly unpacked, the living room actually resembles one, curt and i are actually (believe it or not) enjoying life without a tv immensely, and the fridge just made a lovely little noise where the ice drops into the bucket with no human interference (JOY!). many of the address changes have been made, the cable internet has been ordered, the new bank account is open, the loans and mortgage have been addressed, and we will have our first guest (curt's dad) this sunday (WAAHOOO!). just because there is no guest room yet to speak of, and the "study" is a small room with absolutely 2 degrees of movement capable between all the boxes means nothing! NOTHING! we will prevail. there will be a home where once there was a house!

no real buyers remorse yet, more buyers loud exhalations (internal monologue hears Dr. Edie saying, "Heavy sighs... what's up?"). i know we bought a good house. i know the house needs a LOT of work, and i know i am happier here than i would be in every other house we saw, an apartment, or something... but limboland is not a fun place to be, and this is still limboland.

i am still adjusting to not being on camino. i have started driving here, which believe it or not, was a very daunting thing for me... i have no maps, no idea where things are, and i haven't driven in over a month (not to mention the fact that i have never liked driving very much). life makes so much more sense on foot, or even on bike. i can at least live in the happy delusion that my life moves at a pace i enjoy. i miss so much focusing on the road when i drive. i miss flowers and natural breezes. but hey, mobility is a good thing. and i actually had somewhere to go.

speaking of which... the camino... why did 2 unitarians decide to do a catholic pilgrimage across northern spain in their freetime? well, long and complicated answer to that. we wanted a vacation, and another long distance hike. we wanted to see spain, and the best way to get to know a country is to walk through the small towns and talk with the people who live there. live with them as much as possible. cultural immersion. great way to improve and revive my spanish. but there is still a spiritual journey behind it. there is a saying that people do the camino for 3 reasons: to ask for something, to be thankful for something, or they don't know. many people hike because they have lost a loved one, overcome an illness or cancer, because they are NOT overcomeing an illness or cancer, or to see how the camino will change them. It is not all about religion, for some it is only for sport. for me (not talking too much for curt here), i hiked for all three reasons. i am very thankful for my life, my family, my health, everything i have been given and have worked for. my support network is amazing. i needed time to recover from vet school as well. anyone who had to witness my body's odd medical maladies or dealt with me crying over the last few years is well aware of how desperately i needed to "walk away" from it all. but that said, i still don't know why i walk. i have always hiked with a sort of loss for why i do it. i can tell you what i like about hiking: covering long distances is very rewarding. there is a lot of time to contemplate. even if you don't wish to be introspective, you can only sing bohemian rhapsody so many times while you're walking, and you will eventually run out of bad 80's songs to sing. long, quiet hours of you, nature, and the road ahead (and my hubby). nothing could be better. or more painful, or harder work which may not prove rewarding if there are no views. there are many bad analogies that can be made (in life, as on the camino, one will make some wrong turns)... it is rewarding to live with less, to be reduced to the simplicity of a backpack.
the camino is amazing in it's differences to the at. having a bed at the end of every night, and often a volunteer to look after your blisters... a hot and filling meal for only about 12 dollars... the hope of a shower when you arrive. the camino is a road, often a dirt road, but always wide and decently level compared with the mountains of the at. this was a luxery hike for curt and i, but for many others, it was very difficult. it was inspiring to see the challenges others overcame on their camino. one lady broke her arm and continued to walk. old, frail, obese, and ill... many people ho couldnot speak or understand spanish.
there are fabulous old towns, hundreds of years old, with an aging population living a life that hasn't changed much over that time. there are old churches and monestaries, old pilgrims hospitals and hermitages, all offering a dark, quiet, cool place to sit and recoop... reflect, if they weren't in ruins yet. much of the camino is seeing the remains of human efforts: you cross roman bridges and walk on old roman roads. you pass ruins of christianity and churches in use that are decaying, have plants growing on the walls and rooof, and are reminders to the impermanance of human endeavors. the cathedral at santiago is a good example of that. there aren't enough clergy to keep the building free of vegitation, and many of the exterior fascades are grimey and in disrepair. you also pass through big and modern cities. bustling with thousands of people and noise, a reminder of what you have left behind.
but much of the camino is the same as the at. there are views, there is a lot of time to just be with yourself. there are fabulous flowers and people and conversations. there is time to be light and free, time to goof off, and breath the fresh air (and sometimes the pesticides they were spaying on the grapevines...). the camino is a long distance hike like any other, showing the goodness of the people who intersect it. camino literally means "the way" in spanish, and it does have a kind of taoist feel to it. people often asked if we were on "the way" and there is an understanding that, while yes, it is sometimes about the destination, the journey is important too, and should be experienced.
there is a huge push by the church to distinguish what the camino is all about. they are desperately trying to seperate the pilgrim from the tourist. they are trying to set some guidelines and ethics for the camino (something that has spiralled out of their control in the same way that the forest service does not really control the at)... trying to encourage the ever swelling numbers of people not to litter, not to skip ahead and take the bus, not to be demanding of a hotel-lilke accomidation, but to be thankful for the accomidations that are available... this distinction between the tourist and the pilgrim is a very deep issue, and one that reached far beyond the religious observers who were hiking. a famous german comedian hiked one year and wrote a best-selling book that brought many "tourists" this year. they stayed in the towns, and at the alburgues/refugios with the hikers, but they took the bus. they used the system for a cheap vacation. As the european union is spending quite a bit of money to refurbish the communities along the camino, and to plan for the camino's future as a source of touristic revinue, they too are trying to attract a pilgrim and not a tourist. there are exhibits and propoganda everywhere. everyone likes a pilgrim who spends money.
which is part of the issue that many people seem to have forgotten. the original pilgrim was a tourist. this was the first vacation. they travelled by many means: some on foot, yes, but many others took horses or mules, wagons, etc. some traveled in the lap of luxury. some travelled solely on the charity of others (that would be impossible today).
but in the end, both curt and i came away with a long distance hike, a good break from the real world, a chance to be with each other and ourselves, and a better understanding of spain, the provinces we travelled through, and catholicism past and present. we hopefully have found a little more peace and serenity that we can bring back with us, and at the very least, this long and rambling blog that made no point or sense what-so-ever...

sorry, i seem to have gone off the deep end. and i didn't even start to say what i meant to...
but at least i got a good respite from unpacking!
and i get to meet people at a barbque tonight! maybe i'll meet some fabulous new people today (i mean, other than the little man who installed the fridge)

love to all

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

quick update

we have water! i can flush my toilet! yippee!

our stuff has arrived, but is not unpacked. the pods delivery truck is just about the coolest thing ever to watch unload... it squeezed down our narrow driveway, raised the pod up up up, narrowly missing some electrical wires, pulled the truck out, lowered the pod, and moved the braces and truck back and forth, up and down, to put everything back in place and off he drove... missing our roof by less than 2 inches! so impressed!

we have gas and hot water (a real shower! oh boy, i can't wait!)... we even bought a washer, dryer, and fridge, although they won't arrive until friday. boo hoo.

we will grill tomorrow, if i can find the tools to put the grill together. i am soo excited! we also found a middle eastern grocery! my taste buds are happy to be in lexington!

i miss my friends and family dearly... curt had his orientation all day which didn't help, but hey, at least one of us has a job, right? big hugs to all of you!

Monday, June 18, 2007

home again, home again, jiggidy jog

we are home! it has been an event!

we have toured the sites in Santiago de compostella, have smelled the refrshing scents of the ocean (from the other side) and cooled our feet in the waves of the rising tides.

had an uneventful flight back to london (the second most expensive city in the world, currently). there we had an eventful ride on the tube trying to get from the airport to the hostel we had booked a reservation at... only to discover that the reservation had been denied and we were clueless because of our limited internet access! after vainly searching for a new hostel, i turned up the charm and managed to finagle us a "private room with private bath"- otherwise known as the fouton in the basement hang-out room where the pool table was. while there was no door, we managed to slowly edge everyone out and were in bed by 11pm!!! had a great night's sleep, and beds in the real dorms for the following night. i so rock!

sunday, we tried to get a tour of westminster, but no go on a holy day, apparently. we did walk around it again and admired how, in comparison to every cathedral in spain, it was REMARKABLY clean and well restored/preserved. tried to see the changing of the guards at buckingham, but no go with some big schindig happening that evening... tried to see a show with cheap tickies... but no go on a sunday, apparently all the actors take sunday as a day off- except for blueman group and the lion king. ah well. so we went to the clink museum, the tower bridge experience, ate some fabulous indian food and strolled up porobello road (after the booths had closed because- you guessed it, it was sunday!)

flew out in the wee early hours this morning. there were these cool computers in the backs of the seats in front of us... with free complimentary movies- excellent if you have not watched tv for a month! both curt and i saw 3 films and several tv shows each before the plane landed. delta food is actrually quite tasty (suprised? i was!). and we got a free complimentary drink. overall a great time!

then we landed in atlanta... woe! we had to go through customs and recheck our bagage (glass bottles of nummy alcohol still intact)... then manouver and wait for our flight... all well and good... then wonder as we see our bag still sitting on the tarmack as we pull out to take off... then realize (shockand amazement) that our house and car keys are inside that said bag on the tarmack.... and wait at the airport over 2 hours after landing for the next flight to bring us said bag as we could not get into our house or car (location of camping gear) and could do nothing about it as the person who has the spares was not reachabel... we also realized upon arrival, that... hehehe, glass bottles of numminess had broken into many tiny pieces spreading a wealth of alcoholic gifts over our clothes! oops... so, if you thought you might get some good spanish brandy, wine from rioja, or delicate pacharan.... think again!

now we are happily home and typing at the local food co-op (where we are now members! hooray!) with free internet access. we have no water, no phone, and no gas. we have just managed to straighten out our cell phones (don't ask!) and they are working if you need to reach us! (again, YAY! and *phew*) we do have electricity and (can you believe it: air conditioning!). we have no furniture or fridge. i find this highly amusing! i also don't know what i am going to eat tomorrow with these said issues as i must be home to get the water on...

ah well! tired! it is after 2 am in london right now!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007


we have arrived! we are in santiago, we have recieved our compostella in our latin names (audrey is etheldrodo and curtis stephen is estebum...teehee), and have heard our arrival blessed in mass in the cathedral at santiago. life is good. we have passed the supposed remains of the apostle and waited in line to hug the back of the wooden statue of the saint... who could ask for anything more? well, it would be cool to see the gargantuine insence burner swing pleasant smelling smoke over the rancid smelling pilgrims, but they only do that on sundays during peak pilgrim season....

tomorrow we are off the finnisterra, the end of the world. hopefully the weather will hold out for us. now to celebrate in true gallician style: tapas, wine, cider, and beer! and pulpo!

now we are tourists again, and for the next week.... here in santiago, then in london for a day before we fly home. unfortunately, there are no bullfights in this area, the national crest in the flag of the country, which elsewhere has a bull, only has a cow in this region. fitting considering the area we walked through for the last 100km. most of the last 100km was down shady dirt roads in the heart of dairy country.


Sunday, June 10, 2007

valdareeeee, valdaraaaahhhhhh!

so, after the coolest ren-fest ever... (somehow better than in michigan because they had shows on how they make clay tiles, how they carve stone, and falconry, etc... not to mention men in tights throwing flags.... ahh, i love eurpoe!)

we continued on with the camino. we passed the meseta (imagine a plain that takes over a week to cross... yelch!), and have returned to a hilly region after criossing 2 mountains. the scenery is MUCH improved. and, to add to interest, we have passed through several more distinct cultures. we started in basque country in the mountains, hit their past enemies and now friends, the castillians in the areas of castilla and leon, and then spent a couple days with a people known as marigatos, with an unknown ancestory who are very proud (read here excellent service and very tasty food!!!) and are now in galacia, land with yet another language that is >NOT spanish, but they seem to understand it fine. it is very nice here.

there are now daily showers, but they don´t last too long. the scenery is fabulous, and we are in our hiking groove with the return of hills and great views. the food is interesting, they are known for their hard cider (oh boy), a special white wine, and pulpo (ocuçtopus!!!!). there is even cabbage in the soup now (read here, more vegitables and tooting up the trail.

we have also witnessed a travestçy to nature. it was not only a mullet, it was a mullet of dirty brown hair with poorly proportioned front hair, and the back hair was placed in cornrolls (braids) that were not well cared for and were starting to get matts BETWEEN the cornrolls! you have been warned, do not let this happen to you or your loved ones. this is not an internet hoax!

we will be in santiago in a couple of days. hard to imagine we are almost done. at this rate we should have time to go to finnesterre (the end of the world!, or at least before the americas were "discovered") and dip our tootsies in the water.

i am starting to have a little anxiety about returning to the real world. we left it so suddenly, i hardly remember the kentucky house we are returning to... but we are still flying home on the 18th!

there was a lot more that was supposed to go in here. we are having a fabulous time!
love to all! and pulpo!

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Ren fest!

ok, so i am reading a book set in mideival times, am hiking a midieval pilgrimage, and am currently in a town celebrating a jousting tounament that restored justice to the town... in a 2 dat mideival festival! how cool is that! it is very similar to the ren fest in michigan, or king aurther´s fair in mass, but it is the whole town... everyone in costume (except the bewildered hiking pilgrims)... this is most excellent. we saw flag throwers and the joust is tommorrow on the original jousting field (we will miss it, unfortunately, as it would set us waaaay to far behind).

tomorrow we will goto astorga and see the chocolate museum there (this city was famous for it´s chocolate for MANY a year, back in the day... and the museum will not be missed!).

in other news, curt injured his shin, which swelled most impressively. we took 2 days off in leon, and are moving very slowly. we are going to try hiking tomorrow, and see how it goes. he says he is feelin much better, so no worries!

we are getting a little tired of spanish food. there isn´t as much variation as we are used to.

tomorrow will mark the end of our thrid week on camino. and yes, we look like dirty hikers.