house of happy

Life adventures in prose and verse. Explorations of places, people and words. Stories and fun.

Sunday, 31 May 2009

March to May

This could go on forever, but we all need to keep busy and sane, hence the rule: one paragraph per topic.

1.TIME UNDER THE BRIDGE. It was March and now it's May. Last day of May and then it's June. How can this be happening? Each day used to be bright and interesting, each day a different story. I suspect they still are, but I've lost my rhythm. I didn't stop looking, I stopped recording. In their turn, days faded and blurred, the world seen through thick dirty glass. Worn at the edges by routine and oblivion. Numbed up and rendered equal, a block of uncut, unused time once more... But now I'm back on the bridge, and man-am-I-fishing!

2.WEATHER. March - gentle, sunny. April – feisty, mad. And May wants to play. Blooms into summer, then sloshes about in puddles of rain. Today it's out to melt buttons-into-flesh, weld bra-strap-to-clavicle and toe-to-tar in the main square of Moncao.

3.TROPORIZ-CITY. A summer camp slowly emerged over the last three months: yurt, outdoor kitchen, oak-and-granite table, bath, garden, composting loo. The shower awaits finishing touches, a hot water system and solar PV are yet to cook. The adega lost its roof. The house? Does tidying up count? The renovation plans are gathering dust in an office downtown.

4.VISITORS. Friends from Edinburgh with their three children before Easter. Brother-and-sister-in-law, two children, Easter week. Parents, brother-and-wife, mid-May. A busy happy time, all in all. They worked loads, cleared the top ruins (good!), cut a small fig tree (not good!), consumed lots of whisky (no comment!) and chocolate eggs (this only after a long treasure hunt with cryptic-but-rhyming-clues). They left, I'm sure, with the firm belief that this was a place where the bramble ruled and rain never stopped. As customs officials waved them out of the country, the sun was also unerringly ushered in. (The only exception was Stephanie, who arrived in March and left before the Alto Minho got real moody and learned to turn on the monsoon..)

5.VOLUNTEERS. We've now had a grand total of four people staying between one week and two months. There was fun, there was work, there were things to learn, too many for one paragraph. There is a saying in Romania that possibly sums it all up, “omul sfinteste locul”, in very rough translation “it's people who make a place holy”, or “each person has the power to make all the difference”, ultimately “hey, it's up to you dude”.

6.TEACHING. I teach English to 8 year olds in two local schools. Kicking and screaming I drag them into very small classrooms to talk about pets, toys, days of the week and toss the verb 'to be' between us. I are, you is, he am. We all know old MacDonald and do exactly what Simon says. Highlights? Mine: worst – when I pour my soul into a really good explanation of something and when I finish, before I draw another breath, pupil X pipes up with a yawn: “what was that?”; best – when, defeated by dictation, they shut up for a tiny pinch of time. Theirs: worst – when my special Welsh bell rings (three warnings, first - 'you guys are really noisy' second – 'now this is pushing it, I'm serious' and third: 'no games'); best – probably when the school bell rings and they charge out to kill each other in the playground.

I see this can still go on forever - stopping now. Will be back with more later. Enjoy the Sunday afternoon. I myself will sit down on the balcony and wait for my surfers to get back from the sea. The sky folded seamlessly between eyelids, I'll doze off despite deafening birdsong. Coffee cold, book open, perfect.

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Lavender's Blue

I've been away and now I'm back. Yes there's a gap in the story (there ARE gaps in all stories) and no I don't have a ready report tonight. Come back later, bring the billy goats if you must, but know that I might bring the troll (or a small wolf, if the troll is otherwise engaged).

Kira sleeps next door, her cd player still on. Lazy lullabies linger round the bed, ooze onto the balcony, into the hallway, down the stairs. I follow in a trance and observe how someone left both garage doors open. clunk. clunk. On my way back I step on the car keys and realise (the same?) someone left the car open. click-buzz-click.

no, at this point, although the tension thickens and suspense reaches unbearable levels, i don't jump in the car and drive off a) to fling myself into the minho, b) to meet mystery man, or c) to duel-at-dawn with the garage-and-car-door-neglectful-numpty.

this is because a) i still loathe driving, b) i've got the horrible blue slippers on, c) there's a half-full glass of wine waiting in the bedroom and d) i'm a little busy at the moment.

so where are we going then? upstairs of course, where the red wine awaits, the lullaby lingers and the dreadful blue slippers can disappear under the bed for the next six months.

on the way up, a smooth little song catches my attention. Simple and serene – like all good things – it seems to rhyme with senhor Felix in 1969, with us today (our March, our May...) A seed of house-of-happy history in 59 words and no dilly-dilly:

“Lavender's blue, lavender's green
when i am king you shall be queen

call up your men, set them to work
some to the plough, some to the cart

some to make hay, some to cut corn
while you and i keep ourselves warm

lavender's green, lavender's blue
if you love me i will love you”