Wednesday, November 16, 2011

More on Portugal, and then we leave

A month has gone quickly, even with little to do besides walk and work and take pictures of sunsets.

Same evening, yes. Kind of a special evening, but we get lots of good light up here. We finally had the kind of sunset light that makes the ridges stand out a bit.

a foggy morning that cleared up beautifully

and the grass is growing

Mostly, it has been raining. Really raining. It rains for a few days and then we get a day of sun, then storms and rain again. Today, right now, the sun is shining, so laundry is drying on the patio and I have an urge to get into town to buy some groceries and more yarn. The storms move quickly and everything is constantly changing. Now the field below the house is all green with fresh grass, as are the fields we walk by on our way to town. Everything has brightened with fresh green. And at the same time, it is clearly fall.

We walked into the village below the house to pay the water bill in the cafe, the only establishment that is not a home. The old road is too narrow for most cars, and it is beautiful. Small vineyards, olive trees, ancient rock walls, and persimmon trees covered in fruit. There are also a lot of dogs on chains, and they do a lot of barking.

In Oliveira do Hospital, where we do the shopping, we have a favorite neighborhood to walk through. Much of the town is more modern, but there's this little area that looks like this:

At the beginning of November there was increased interest in the house from potential buyers. The owner was expecting it to be a quiet season for Portuguese real estate, but it turns out she was wrong. Very wrong. The house has been on the market for two years, and now it has sold. I guess we did an okay house sitting job. For us, that means going somewhere else before the end of the month. We did some house sitting searches and even found something that we were sad to turn down, but settled on staying with friends instead. We'll go back to western France, closer to Sarlat this time, for about 6 weeks, and then back to Zurich and our bicycles! We both seriously miss riding our bikes. It's hard to imagine that I could be fonder, but absence has made my heart grow fonder of everything about the bike and the riding.

We pack up our lives again and ship out on Dec. 1st. Meanwhile, we've both been working a lot. The workstation has finally turned highly productive. We are getting gigs online and spend a lot of time in front of the computer, with a huge view to look out at.

I've also gotten back into knitting, and the awkward photography of myself that comes with it. Thanks to those of you who have ordered custom jobs, that is more fun that experimenting with no one in mind. Some awkward photos for your enjoyment (the knitting is available here):

Some things still ship from CA, because my generous sister is hanging on to the things that didn't sell last year. Other stuff ships from Portugal, and soon from France. I'm learning a new stitch, it's called brioche stitch and it is so hard. Whoever invented brioche stitch probably didn't give it that name (doesn't look like a brioche to me), and they were a spacial reasoning genius with a fascinating understanding of what yarn does when you loop it into itself over and over again. My first few attempts didn't go past one or two rows, but then I got going and make something that looked like this:

Brioche stitch is simply a reversible vertical stripe. So awesome. This experiment was ultimately a failure because I managed to twist it and the border was screwed up. But if you like stripes, I can now knit in stripes. And it is fun, after all. Here's another awkward test project, now belongs to Joshua but he won't pose for pictures wearing it (can't blame him).

 the green stripes out

the purple stripes out

We will be sad to leave Portugal, after just mastering the basics of the language. We can now say good morning and good afternoon. I have even been to the post office a few times with successful results. Not a lot of English, so learning is obligatory. We will miss the wine, port, meats, fruit, honey, bread, and cheeses. All of it is fresh and local and delicious. Sorry, rest-of-Europe, but Portugal is producing the best cheese in Europe. Possibly in the world. How come nobody knows about it? France does make the fine, gooey soft cheeses, and British cheddars, I still miss them, Italy has hard cheeses down, the Netherlands make the aged goudas which are to die for, and Germany does a great job of importing cheese from the rest of the continent. But the range in Portugal - from fresh cheeses and ricotta to hard and soft sheep cheeses in the round, there's just something about them that is, well, better. Now you know.