Blog & Photo Journal Archive

Sept 7th

Rain! Lots of it… but thankfully a good soaking rain, no wind to speak of, and no massive downpour with consequent flooding. Yesterday was absolutely stellar, hard to believe this was going to happen, but I saw the forecast and battened down the hatches before going to bed – a Good Thing… They say it will go on all week – on and off – so hopefully, after it dries out a bit, next week Sebastian can turn the front part of the huerto field and I can plant potatoes!  The huerto itself is mostly done, just the endless cherry tomatoes at this point – I am making solfregit and freezing it, and hanging vines of baby toms all over the kitchen.  We ate the last of the green lettuce only a couple of days ago, and still have some purple – planting in the shade of the taller tomato plants was a good idea – I’m learning, slowly.  We even had a couple of ears of corn last night, and I made pesto with part of the giant basil bush…

The island is a lot quieter, thank heavens, now that the August crowds have mostly departed – although our little road continues to be overused (damn GPS/GoogleMaps) – and the number of covid-19 cases has sky-rocketed because of the August influx (what did they expect???) –  the majority of them are in and around Cuitadella…  The numbers are as high as they were back in the height of April, only less of the cases seem so intensely severe – more young people getting it, I guess, who can fight it better… but really, how can people be so stupid, having giant family gatherings and parties as tho’ nothing was amiss??  They are not planning a total lockdown this time, allowing each autonomous region to do what they need/want – so we are at the mercy of Palma – but there is a country-wide ban on gatherings of more than 5 people, public or private which puts paid to my idea of an Equinox Concert in the pool field… plenty of space to socially distance, just 20 or so folk, bring your own chair and refreshments – seemed like a great idea, but no… the very day I decided to do it, they put the ban in place…

Sis is up and down, as usual… her world is so terribly small now, it’s heart breaking… but she is so happy I’m here…. No word from Westbeth if I can do my annual evaluation long distance… big, big changes may be coming down the pike… just be grateful…

Aug. 20th


Aug. 7th

Happy birthday, Elfin! I daren’t say how old you are because it makes me feel ancient…

Into the core of the summer anvil – not a breath of wind, but if there were it would be from the south – hot hot hot… sea like a millpond this morning, and almost as warm…

Little did we know how blessed we were in June (actually I did, and appreciated every moment…).  July 1st they opened the doors to the world (except the US, of course) and the tourists and the germs have been flooding in… But if I thought July was bad, August 1st saw another massive ramp up – a plane every couple of minutes from sunup to midnight, it seemed – everyone wants to come to the “safe” island – hah! It’s like the. blaring headlines about “undiscovered corners” – not any more… The UK imposed a 14-day quarantine for visitors or returning residents from Spain, so there are much fewer Brits – but that’s more than made up by the massive influx of mainlanders and other Europeans – and it is Madrid and Barcelona that we have to be leery of… go figure…. I do NOT understand the government’s line of thinking – other than “it’s the economy, stupid…”

I am feeling terribly trapped at the moment – I have to change my attitude somehow or I will make myself ill…  I desperately need a break, and I am worried sick about losing my life back in NYC, but nephew Chris can’t get here so I can’t leave, and anyway travel to and from NYC right now is not a good idea for MY health, let alone sis’s… She has just started a new pain med, which means taking only a small dose at first, to see how she reacts to it,  so she is in bad shape, con mucho dolor… poor sweetheart… I am frequently short-tempered these days, which is hard on her – she understands but it’s no solution… and the cottage is still empty… what an insoluble mess… But fear of the future will destroy the present, so try and try again to BE PRESENT… and be grateful for what is… remember…

Aug. 20 update – well the new meds didn’t work – 3 days of hell, then back to the old one, which tho’ it doesn’t work terribly well, at least she can tolerate it… I wrote a new song to try and turn my head around “just be grateful, now and then”… the past couple of nights I have been sleeping out, wake up at 7, water a few pots while I have a cup of tea, then onto my bike by 7.30 for a half hour/40 min. ride up to Mesquida for my morning swim (across the bay and back) – the Bathtub has been full of crap recently, with the SW wind, and Mesquida is idyllic… Home by 9.30, just before it gets too hot, and in time to make b’fast for me and coffee for the two of us – sis’s favorite daily ritual… it’s the little things…

Menorca June 24th

Midsummer Day and Sant Joan

Well, I thought summer came back in May but I was wrong – right on cue, on the summer solstice, the official first day of summer, REAL summer heat arrived – the anvil… but the nights still cool down, and the sea is still cool and refreshing to swim in… and there are still no people except us island folk – until this coming weekend, when the airport opens to outsiders, and the world pours in, with all its attendant complications… it’s been bliss these past few weeks, to have a virus- and tourist- free island… I actually went to lunch at a restaurant in Mao harbor today with friends – on the terrace, very few people, very little traffic, and the food was great – heaven… No fiesta, no tens of thousands of people coming to celebrate Sant Joan – it’s like the island was 30 years ago… thank you…

I tried, but failed, to get residency here on Tuesday – missing one vital piece of paper, that is on its way from the UK, but the email saying it was on its way was not enough – no actual S1, no permit… it took 3 weeks of incessant trying to get that appointment, I will not get another, and June 30th the portcullis comes down and I’m locked outside… damn…. nothing I can do until the S1 arrives, so I must try and not think about it until then…

Sis is up and down, as ever… more and more dependent upon me, both to do all the chores and to keep her company… hard to carve out time for myself, but I do, and she is good about understanding…  I managed to figure out how to get my bike up onto the bike rack I ordered back in January but never got to use – the key was a temporary bar (racks are designed by men for men) and I have taken a few wonderful expeditions, particularly to the north coast during a long spell off heavy south wind that made the sea unswimmable in these parts. I drive to somewhere in the middle of the island, park, unload the bike and take off – fabulous!  Opens up a massive amount of new exploration… now something to look forward to doing more of in the cooler months…

Meanwhile Moppet has wrought miracles at the cottage, stashing all personal stuff out of sight and getting the estate agent in for a look-see. Of course there are more complications – fire-proof furniture needed,  certificates fro gas and leccy, formss to fill out for the tax man… nothing is simple… I really do wish for a simpler life these days…

But the cat is asleep on my bed, the night is still (I can hear the mosquitoes buzzing, kept at bay by the magic of the plug in the wall) and tomorrow I have no plans, except to finish painting a table, play some scales, and swim in the sea…

Menorca May 21st

 


May 21st, Menorca

Summer has arrived with all guns blazing, exactly a month early.  Over night, it seems, we are in full summer mode – hot, hot, hot… Any exercise has to be taken before 11am or after 7pm… Swimming in the sea is still prohibited, I think because it means crowded beaches – I would just go down to the sea, swim, and come home, and if this keeps up I will try that next week (really don’t want a fine – a 600 euro swim is not enticing). Meanwhile, I walk with my sis for a half hour every morning and again in the evening, then ride my bike down to the sea and put my feet in for a minute…

The real exercise of the past few weeks has been the Major Work around the place, all essential and overdue… First the cisterna (I have sent off a sample of the drinking water to be analyzed – all fingers and toes crossed) and then the coach house. The old coach is long gone – sounds terribly grand but wasn’t, just a lovely old horse-drawn carriage that is now in the local museum after having having been lovingly restored… It (the coach house) is where all the tools and wheelbarrow and summer furniture and butanos etc etc are kept, plus the washing machine (quelle luxe!) and it’s been about 30 years since the place was emptied and painted.  We replaced three of the beams this past winter (totally rotten), and last week we emptied and cleaned and repaired and painted the inside, and got rid of a lot of old junk in the process (still plenty there!). We also discovered woodworm in three of the “new” beams in the entrance hall of the house (again, not as grand as it sounds!), so that had to get emptied while the rot was scraped out and the beams were painted with gas-oil – the only effective remedy, it seems – the place stank for days.  But everything is now back where it should be and we have a semblance of normalcy – only to discover that the old tree trunks in the front garden left from the 4 pines that died (just after mum did) are the breeding ground of some truly horrible insects, so those stumps are going to have to come out as soon as I can get Sebastian back here to help – it never ends.  God only knows how I’m going to pay for all this, but we live in hope… Sis has dealt with the discombobulation quite well, really – she’s on a new med which seems to be working, for the moment at least – she is still in constant pain, but dealing with it better…

Meanwhile I am dealing with running out of my prescription meds and supplements, and the vagaries of Spanish customs.  A dear friend kindly sent a care package (via Fed Ex, at VAST expense) of health supplements and my mail (prescriptions not ready til next week), only for it to be held up in Barcelona – I have been told I have to either hire a customs broker (??), fill out a million forms and pay a bunch of money, or it will be sent back to NY.  Nothing is simple… Except the beuaty of this quiet island, and the vegetables growing in my huerta – thank you thank you thank you…

Tomorrow would have been the day I flew to CA to begin rehearsals on BIRD with Joan Schirle and the rest of the musicians, cast and crew – performances were to be in the last week of June, 2 at the Arcata Playhouse and 2 at the Morris Graves Museum.  I have decided that since I cannot go there, I will bring it here.  As of tomorrow my studio with become “California” and I will spend the next 6 weeks (or at least a few hours each day) trying to really finish the piece – I need to solve the conundrum of the Army scenes to my artistic satisfaction… Wish me luck!

May 10th, menorca

It’s a rainy Sunday afternoon (first rain in over a month) and I am attempting to make marmalade.  This is a first for me so it’s a grand experiment.  I noticed on one of my walks that one of my neighbours (who is stuck in the UK unable to come here) had a Seville orange tree groaning with fruit, and it just seemed such a waste… So I emailed him and he graciously gave me permission to pick them… I’ve used but a fraction of the oranges – if it works I will make more – unless it proves too complicated, which is quite possible…

The rain is blissful – it started yesterday afternoon, about an hour of gentle mizzle just to soften the earth, then this morning just before dawn it began in earnest, but still pretty gentle, pretty much straight down, with pauses to let it sink in and not flood – the land and gardens are supremely happy (I have not gone out to check to see if the huerto plants are still upright but I can only hope – the tomato plants already have flowers, which will not be so happy, but hopefully they will survive…)

We have a cleaned and repaired cisterna, and a new water filtration system, including an osmosis filter, a UV light and a special drinking water tap at the kitchen sink… Oh the joy of good water, and the prospect of not having to buy all those plastic bottles!  I watered the garden to a fare-thee-well on Tuesday, to drain the cisterna as far as I could (about a foot and a half of water left), and the following morning Sebastian and I spent two hours bailing out the remaining water by hand – oy! Then he cleaned it with a pressure hose, let it dry, painted it with a mixture of cal and cement, let it dry, we refilled it, bled the pipes, and voila… the miracle was that he figured out how to keep the water running in the house during the 3 days of work by running a hose from the neighbours’ house into our system – very clever, and it made such a difference – 3 days without water would have been very tricky for sis…. And we are now finally drinking our own water again, after decades off not being able to – hallelujah!

All things being equal, on Wednesday next week we empty the coach house and paint it – another 3-day job (hopefully not more) – and then all the major jobs will be done.  I have decided that on May 22nd, the day I was due to fly to CA for BIRD rehearsals and performances, I will go into the studio and spend the next 6 weeks – when I would have been working on the piece in CA – really finishing it.  Seems like a good idea.  Hopefully I can do it… I will certainly try… I am still totally enamoured of The Park, all I want to do is sculpt trees, but my shoulders and hands are starting to object very strongly and I need to listen to them. if I ever want to be a musician again…

On May 1st I started swimming – bracing but wonderful… “Hooray hooray the 1st of May, outdoor swimming starts today” is the new updated mantra…. the huerto grows apace, as do the malas hierbas – this rain is meant to be over this evening, so tomorrow I will do a massive weeding – insh’allah…

They say that as of tomorrow we will be able to start socializing in groups of up to 10 people (with the usual 2m distancing) so maybe we will have a few friends over for an outdoor lunch – wow… I think the re-opening of everything is happening too quickly, but money talks and they desperately want to reboot the economy… I would prefer that we stay locked down until the end of May, then very slowly open up to maybe letting folks in from outside by August, but then I’m not in charge… Also, as long as we’re locked down I don’t have to think about what the hell I’m going to do…

I thank the heavens every day for the garden and the land… and my bicycle… and my sister, who in spite of all her difficulties is at least reasonably agreeable company for the most part, when I see her which is not really that often (she spends so much time in her cave) and when we’re not spatting… and tho’ I do pretty much everything both in and around the house, she does do dishes occasionally, and cooks the occasional meal, and when she is not moaning about the pain, she is at least decent company – otherwise I’d be going stir crazy I think, being here completely solo…. and I love her to pieces… family is family…  and talking of which, so far the news from the kids in CA is good, ditto the tribe in NYC – other than Hal of course, the big, gaping hole… folk seem to be adjusting to music making online, with more or less ease – wish I could, but I am still stuck in the analog world… so I am “doing a Morris” for now – creating an environment for me to work in…

Menorca, the first 6 weeks of the new world, March 17th – April 26th 2020

 


April 15th, 2020, Menorca

Exactly 6 months later… and such a different world…

It seems only right that I pick this up again, as the world tilts on its axis into a whole new reality… for the moment, I am blessed with being in this beautiful, peaceful place, relatively unscathed, tho’ I have been out in “the world” only twice in the past month (since I have been here, with the first 2 weeks in full quarantine…)

To recap, I share the email I sent my friends after landing….

“I am in Menorca.  I was in New York, but I realised this was going to be a long haul and I couldn’t leave my sister on her own, so through many, many cliff-hangers, I finally managed to get on the last plane allowed into the island from outside Spain…. I am now in quarantine for 14 days, so as not to endanger the very person I have come to protect! Luckily a friend has a little house that’s empty just up the road from our house – very basic, and yesterday even without water (today I have it, for now).  When I’m settled I will write longer, but for now I just wanted to let you all know where I was, and that so far I’m fine (unfortunately I have been on 6 planes, in 8 airports, in the past 2 weeks, so I’m counting the days…).  There’s a complete lockdown here (even if I weren’t quarantined), no walking or biking, going anywhere for pleasure, only trips to buy food or medicine (or tobacco – this is Spain!), no more than one person in a car, etc…. but I plan to start planting the vegetable garden next week, once the field has been cleared… I knew there was a reason I learned how to grow food!  I feel incredibly lucky to be here, to have been able to get here, both for my sister and myself.  Leaving my apartment in Westbeth was really hard, but I know it was the right thing to do… Please keep in touch and let me know how you all are… far flung we might be, but you are all important to me.”

A month later, and I am still in the “wee hoose” down the road – much as I’d like to be in my own house, it’s good to have my own space – living with sis 24/7 is challenging, and who knows for how long this will be, so I’m happy to be the recipient of such hospitality – thank you, Judy and Caroline, for your generosity… sis and I walk every morning (totally against the rules, but the rules are made in Madrid, and our back lanes here in the country are rarely policed, thank heavens), and often times in the late afternoon. I do chores around the house, then spend hours in the garden and fields, plus time in the studio – but I wake up and go to sleep alone…  the 2 weeks of quarantine were overhung with anxiety, waiting for the axe to fall, but I seem to have managed to come through unscathed, in spite of the numerous airports and airplanes… Since then, I have been out into the world only twice, and both times were deeply unsettling, ever since it was pointed out to me that as a cancer survivor with a heart condition I am a “high risk” individual… what, you mean I’m no longer 35 and and invincible?? So food is ordered and delivered, and we keep to ourselves out of choice as well as necessity… thank god for the garden and our fields…

The huerto is finally planted – it’s been in a week now, and looking good, particularly after the good rain we had a few days ago.  Meanwhile I continue to hack away at my grand project, The Park  – carving out walking paths and sculpting old ullastres  in the abandoned back fields – I LOVE my chain saw and clippers! There are vast piles of debris that need to get burned, hopefully next week…
A month in, I am definitely feeling the lack of physical contact…. and I wonder when I will ever get to play music with other people again – in the room, so to speak… the annual Kamikaze reunion at the end of February takes on a whole new significance…
And then there is the loss of Hal… that really hits home…  I think of how hard it must be for all the folks in NYC not to be able to gather – such a fundamental part of the grieving process… we are now living in a virtual reality… But tho’ I am separated from may community, I have my garden… and my sister… I am so fortunate… as always…