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Saturday, October 2, 2010

Done with Moving! (for now), revised

Seems like my blog posts are mainly about the minutia of everyday life, as we try to settle into living here. I would love to do some posts on current events in Spain (My post on the General Strike that occurred this past Wednesday, was suspended by move.)
The General Strike did not amount to a great deal in Madrid
Or a post on fabulous-sites-worth-visiting. But, alas, the process of settling in continues to dominate our lives for now.  

But perhaps not for long. We managed, just yesterday, to move into our final Spanish destination, a process that began early this past July when we began to sort through and pack the ENORMOUS amounts of Stuff in our house:

Extracting ourselves from the house, selling cars and placing cats went on right through August and our first move to the lovely Best Western. We did manage to find nice homes for the cats and we sold the cars. But the house is still for rent.

 If you know of anyone who might be interested, send us a note (

From the Best Western we made our way, briefly to the AC hotel,
My only photo from the AC. Sorry girls.

And then for a month at the Aparthotel:
                                                            Our last morning. Adios!

With a little help from me and the girls, Matt carried nearly everything out of the hotel to the car, and out of the car in the garage up to the apartment. Here he is with the first load on moving day, going into our building.

I have not been doing much of the carrying as my back has been giving me some trouble. Which gives me the opportunity to insert a drawing here. See if you can guess what is going on:

This is a drawing of me drawing, as I lie on the floor with my feet on a chair. I am taking a break from Spanish class to rest my back and I am looking up at the underside of a chair with a little desk. Speaking of minutia, I am able to report definitively that, just like people in the U.S., people in Spain stick their chewed gum under their desks.

But, back to the move. Though not carrying much, I did diligently unpack. To say that I am tired of packing, unpacking, repacking, and reunpacking our possessions would certainly be an understatement.

At about , Matt was seriously feeling the effects of not having a cup of coffee that morning. You would think that in restaurant-café heaven as our apartment is, it would be nothing to run downstairs and get a take out coffee. No, decidedly no. “Take out” is an American phenomenon that, while not unheard of, is not common in these parts. To illustrate, our Honda minivan back home had something like 10 cup holders. Our Eurostyle minivan that we are renting has exactly zero. So, good, we are forced to be civilized Spanish types and actually go down to the café and relax for a bit.

I took this photo from the front door of the apartment building. Do you see Matt in his orange shirt?

Though 12:30, it is a little too early for lunch in Spain. The other customers are mainly having beer with chips or olives, the traditional repast pre lunch or pre dinner time here. The waitress is astounded when Matt orders an espresso, as that is had at breakfast or after lunch and dinner. These customs are well ingrained. I decide to try the full Spanish experience and order a beer, something I rarely do before 5 in the afternoon:

Along with the beer  she brings salami on bread and some potato chips. With the espresso comes a little basket of miniature chocolates. Note as well the ever present ash tray.

Our little break was interrupted by the arrival of the rental company bringing our furniture. Due to visa complications, our furniture and nearly everything else that we own, continues to languish in a warehouse in Massachusetts. We don’t expect it to receive it for at least two months.

The exquisite elevator is going to be of limited assistance.

These guys were fabulous. They were laughing over the insanity of carrying stuff up 8 flights of a very narrow stair well.

Somehow it all worked out, even the sofa bed made it up the stairs.

Funny thing, but having a beer in Spain has the same effect on me that having it in the States does. So, I put one of the couches right to work:

And back I go to work. They had delivered kitchen supplies as well:

I was not surprised, but still very sad to see all of the little coffee cups. A large mug is just not a known item in these parts. However, here is something that is considered essential enough to be in the box:

With the salt and pepper set come oil and vinegar dispensers.

Living in the midst of all the rented furniture is a bit odd. Like living in a furniture show room. But it is all quite adequate, and really the most important element by far in this apartment is the view  from the living and dining room. All the other windows in the apartment look into air shafts.

                                         Pretty much moved in, here we are having dinner.

One definite drawback to the apartment is the lack of studio space. How I will find a way to do art and retain my mental health, and not take over everyone else’s precious space, remains to be seen. My mother, ever the historian, pointed out that the street we have moved to is named after a painter – Eduardo Rosales 1836-1873. Here is a lovely portrait of him by Frederico de Madrazo.

And here you have one of Rosales’s most famous paintings;

Spain’s beloved Queen Isabella 1, of Christopher Columbus fame, at her death bed in 1504

So, I take it as a good sign that I will find a way to paint while I am here.

Chao for now.


  1. Margot, dear,
    Bravo! The apartment looks wonderful. And I know you will be able to find space for painting, I just know it!
    Hugs to all of you!

  2. Fabulous view. I want to sit next to that dining room glass!
    The table will serve for more than meals, and the ghost of Madrid's native son, Eduardo, will inspire all four of you.
    Love, Granna

    Alison just sent me this link and it is now bookmarked and soon will be on my top visited sites. I'm so happy to finally have a way to talk to at least part of the very international Johnson fam that I miss so much! Glad to see that everything is going well so far, the house looks gorgeous!
    all my love from back in concord,

  4. Hi Julia,
    Welcome to my blog, and thanks for your good thoughts tossed our way. I will have to put up a post on Claire in abstentia. Not sure I spelled that right, but you know what I mean. I hope you and Allison will make sure that Maggie, Izzy and Curin know about the blog as well, and all the other wonderful Claire friends who we adore and miss!!!!!