A positive strife27 April, 2020
Lavinia, Sunday 26 April 2020
This week we finally had other people around us than just the two of us. It was a sheer relief to be able to talk to someone else again. About ten days ago, certain professional categories were admitted to work again. These were mainly in the construction sector. And our gardeners are apparently among the lucky ones who can get back to work. This is of course limited to gardens where there is a lot of space, and where they have no contact with others. Like with us. Lovely to see motion again on our domain, to hear Spanish chatter and just to get the feeling again that there is still life outside our mini-world. Promptly I started baking a cake, of pure happiness, wanting to pamper someone. I know they’re quite fond of sweet, so I opened the window of the kitchen as soon as I put the cake in the oven.
The nice sweet smell searched its way through the opened window, just where they were at that moment in the process of creating an extra irrigation facility for the fruit trees in our private back garden. A bit naughty of me, but it worked. As soon as they got me in their sights, they asked what caused that wonderful smell. Actually a bit of a job application to get a piece of cake. Apparently Spaniards are very punctual when it comes to their ‘desayuno’ (breakfast) at 10 am. Even when I suggested that the cake had to stay in the oven for a while, and that it was best for them to continue working for another quarter of an hour, they didn’t deviate from their habits, so they just stayed a bit longer, eagerly eating the still very warm cake as soon as it was brought outside. It became quite cosy among us, of course at a safe distance from each other.
Also our Dutch neighbour-electrician, had come by this week because we had to deal with an electrical power failure. There was a lot of chatter here as well, because of course now you have the time, and above all an extraordinary desire to be able to talk to people normally again, instead of ‘video talking’. Finally having the feeling of what is ‘normal’, even if it is abnormal to sit so far apart and not be allowed to give each other a handshake.
Unfortunately, the measures in Spain have not yet been eased much, it is only going very slowly, despite the very positive evolution in the corona figures. When you consider that only now, after about five weeks of isolation, the children can go outside! And not even just like that, they have to be accompanied by an adult, and now comes the worst : only once a day, for a maximum of 1 hour and a maximum of 1 km from home ! I can’t reach it with my common sense… Why can’t they allow the children to play outside? From the beginning, they allow strictly necessary movements, including dog walks (although limited to a quarter of an hour per walk). Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to compare children to dogs, but isn’t this strictly necessary for the well-being of children? Being able to play outside, cycling, walking? What does this do for the well-being of a young child, sitting inside, locked up, without being able to see other children, maybe even stuck in an apartment. This cannot possibly be good for the psychological well-being. It is already difficult for us adults, let alone children. I heard that there was someone in Belgium who made his garden available free of charge for children with their families who don’t have a garden to come and play for an hour. How magnificent is that ? But they couldn’t even do that here, because they couldn’t even get outside… I really have a lot of sympathy for people who are sitting in an apartment. Friends and family in Belgium don’t seem to realize how much freedom they have compared to Spain. And even then I hear everywhere that creativity prevails, and that people still walk away from it and, despite their much greater freedom, agree with others. Under the guise of ‘as long as we stay far enough apart’. It’s a bit of a squeeze, you know, because we’re really locked in here. And now I don’t think about ourselves, because we have the enormous luxury of a large garden and beautiful views. Because of that we have a much more limited feeling of being locked up and we always have something to do. It is a completely different story for the Spaniards at an apartment. For example, one of our friends said she was fired because there was no more work for her thanks to corona. Her husband is a cook in a restaurant that is also closed… They have a daughter and live in a small apartment. It’s incredibly hard, she says. I can’t even imagine it.
Yesterday was a drizzling, sad and depressing day. It was cloudy and drab, and we’re really not used to that here. Strangely enough, I can’t deal with this anymore. We’re so used to always living outside, always seeing a blue sky, that I don’t know what to do with myself when it’s a gloomy day. We’ve been working on the website for several weeks now, to completely renew it, and to have it translated. We put everything on the website ourselves, and that’s quite a big job, also because we’re both quite perfectionist maybe. And let that be something less spent on me. I’d much rather be busy with cooking, gardening, carpentry and decorating. But we do want everything to be ready soon, so that we can take action as soon as more freedom of movement is allowed. We adjust our business plan a bit to bridge the period until when we can rent out the villas to guests again.
Because we have all the facilities to offer wellness, in the beginning we will focus entirely on that wellness, based on day-entrance. This will mainly be for people from the neighbourhood, or people living in and around Alicante. I was immediately looking forward to it again, and a little more hope that at least we wouldn’t have to wait patiently until we were allowed to rent out the villas again. It’s still unclear to us what measures we’ll fall under in that respect, because in the end we’re not a hotel, but we rent out villas. So Fingers crossed that this plan catches on, and above all that it will be possible soon. The next step will probably be to extend freedom of movement within the province, until later on nationally, and presumably first the national borders before it’s allowed to fly. That is why we have everything translated into the languages of our neighbouring countries.
As soon as the sun sheds its light, I repel myself outside to be more active in the garden, or to immerse myself in some project. So for the last three weeks I have been annoying myself the hell with my project to make a natural screen out of free material, pruning wood in other words. A few months ago I had seen large bundles of branches lying next to the garbage container, with the idea of ever being able to make something with them. At that moment Wim is called up instantly by me to pick up the bundles of branches. They turned out to be extremely heavy and large. But if Ana has something in her head, it has to be done. And my darling Wim knows that all too well, so he had no choice but to stuff them in the car and take them with him. They have been lying there for months, and now I thought the time had come to do something with them. Unfortunately there is no DIY-store open, so it really had to come from waste wood and pruning wood. So no nice beams available to make a net, and especially straight frame, but beams I once found behind our domain and slender tree trunks. In nature a tree is of course not a perfect pole, but crooked and thicker and thinner here and there. I didn’t succeed, and I couldn’t get out, because originally I wanted to put branches vertically. Because I couldn’t get a step further after a week of trying, I asked my daughter -teacher, so creative- for advice, and she wondered why I didn’t weave them. She sent me a picture of a woven screen, horizontally woven, and I immediately thought it was a great idea. Only the execution in my head was so much simpler. I kept struggling with the stiff branches, which suddenly seemed more crooked to me than when I had found them. My frame of waste wood and trunks was also a real nightmare. The thing couldn’t possibly have gotten stuck together, and on top of that it was constantly falling over. Gradually it got better, but I cursed it to work on it. Suddenly I was no longer convinced that it would become presentable, let alone usable. My stubbornness and perseverance allowed me to recharge just enough to work on it over and over again. Unfortunately my back and shoulder kept failing very quickly, so I only progressed very steadily. Everything seemed to be against me. But yes, I got it done on Friday. After two weeks. Two pieces of them I maid. Not that I am very satisfied with the result, but it is finished, and that was more than enough for me. Apparently Wim likes it anyway, and my daughter liked it too when she saw a picture. Probably all the negative feelings while making it, make sure that I can’t even like it. It’s not perfect, not the way it looked in my head. Finally finished a project, finally resting my head, because it kept me busy. So I sarcastically called it ‘my loom’, and had to drag myself to it everytime.
Then yesterday, when the day went so bleak, I became more and more negative, until the moment we got the idea to just stop working for the day and just build a wellness day in our own complex. Funny, because we used to go to the sauna for that day. Finally I was able to allow myself to just enjoy myself again. We put on the heater in the sauna, some soothing music, and that’s all we needed. Inside the fireplace was lit, just for fun and we had an aperitif in the warm light of the fire. Wim gave me a lovely neck and back massage, because he knew my back and neck are not doing so well lately. Never before has a massage done me so much good, made me relax completely, and put my thoughts to zero. And the only reason is that I find it so hard to allow myself to enjoy myself without more. It’s possible, it’s allowed. I don’t always have to be busy with anything. Even though I love to be busy. Calm in the head is also sometimes necessary. I really got the hang of it, and this morning I added a real wellness treatment to it. Foot bath, facial mask, epilating, painting nails,
lubricating creams, lazing around in the hammock with music on. Blessed! Strangely enough, I chose music that I hadn’t put on for years, countless years. Music with a past, music with memories of an unreachable first adolescent love. The period of the typical struggle of an adolescent searching for himself, insecure and seeing himself at the centre of the world. Why I needed to hear that music just now, I don’t know, but it was enjoyment. Loudly tormenting (because I really can’t sing) with ‘Bridge over troubled water’ by Simon and Garfunkel,
or ‘Be’ by Neil Diamond…
Lovely, recalling those memories, seeing that film back then, but not the negative feeling with it, but a really liberating feeling. Because almost 35 years later I happily know what I stand for and who I am. And I am intensely happy. This weekend, this real zen-weekend has made me aware of this. Real me- and we-time as a couple. We really enjoyed being together. Because as strange as it sounds, after all, we are together 24/7, and yet we notice that we have to consciously build in time for each other. Because Lavinia absorbs everything. No matter how fun and challenging and wonderful it is to built Lavinia up, there is also Wim and I, and me and Wim… the love of my life.
Annemie, or Ana