For anyone still keeping up with my increasingly boring life I thought I'd tidy up and finish off November. I want to make a real effort to be more organised and write one month at a time in some regular sort of way. I know I must have said this a few times before and not managed it but let's make this my old year's resolution and see if I can do it - starting at the end of December! I can see the excuses creeping in already - I'll be so busy in the UK with visitors that I'll never get a chance on the 30th!
But for now ... to the last week of last month!
I left you on the 22nd up to my gunnels in painters. On the 23rd - the third and the promised last day - five painters were thrown at the job. Those of you who know the apartment will realise that five people living in it is 'full'; five people decorating in it, is overflowing. As always we escaped.
A quick flit round the shops and a great lunch in a, new to us, Greek restaurant (Pelagos). It had been commended to (us) the audience by the conductor at the Phil when talking to his guest pianist. They were both perfectly right - terrific food, good price, nice people. It has been added to our regular eatery hit list.
We were asked to be back by 3 pm when they expected to be finished and to bring the balance of the money in cash (!) We were given some spiel about paying the lads for Thanksgiving (the next day) and the banks being closed on Thanksgiving. No, it didn't make sense to us either, we just assumed it was a cash in hand tax fiddle for everyone concerned. We duly reappeared on time and hid out at the pool with a book for another hour as they clearly weren't any where near finished at three. At four we returned to 202 to stand around in the smell and dementia for a while. I finally gave up and rang my sweet neighbour in Georgia to ask if I could sit in her apartment (next door), which I did. It was very odd sitting in someone else's home. I told her I felt like Goldilocks and ended up sitting in three different places before leaving. Four-thirty and some more rolled round and the guys eventually left clutching the wad of money. It seemed neither the owner nor his two sons deemed it necessary to turn up and check the job or even pick up the cash. Mmm!
As for the decorating.... The job itself was utterly shambolic to say the least but they did do it in three days as promised and the end result was acceptable. Nothing like the quality which was promised in the sales pitch. It has been just a quick clean up right through. It does feel good though to take ownership of the place at last. I always feel a home feels more like yours when its been painted right through. It looks like a a giant sugared almond but its what I like. Ken just sighed and said, "Colour? what colour? looks white to me....''
As with everything else in this foreign land even painting and paints are different to back home. The trouble I had trying to determine what was meant by a flat enamel ('flat' being our matte) as opposed to just a flat paint was a pain. No-one even understood the question - basically all I wanted to know was, would it shine? That being precisely what I didn't want... reply ... no it just has a slight sheen (!) does that mean slightly shiny?... no, its flat with a slight sheen! Trims and interior woodwork here are usually painted in the same (latex!) paint as the walls - so every colour and degree of shininess under the sun can be chosen and mixed for you. I preferred an oil-based wood paint. We were told that white oil-based paint for the trims and doors only came in one white and in semi-gloss. (I confess to not having checked this out as I trusted the painter not to be telling porky pies!) Similarly ceiling paint in white is just that - no fiddling around with shades of white or finishes. The gloss turned out to be just like our white gloss of years ago and stinks just as badly. I had forgotten just how evil the paint of my childhood was. We lived with the doors and windows open for days and were still afflicted with stinging eyes, vaguely sore throat and chest (even Ken!) and in my case a permanent headache, which I still seem to be suffering from a little. Neither of us can smell the paint any more, but than could just be a case of getting used to it.
The 24th was Thanksgiving Day. As in previous years we retreated to Cracker Barrel for our holiday dinner like the saddos we are. This year it proved very useful as we both looked dire in terms of clothes and bodies because we were in the throes of putting the place back together again following the painting spree. Ken actually likes his Cracker Barrel Thanksgiving Dinner. American food is decidedly man food!
The ongoing smell never managed to ruin my appetite, of course, but it did prevent us from eating at home (!!!) so day five arrived and I had to eat crabs legs again! This translated into a huge plate of crab legs (a dozen maybe?), nine generous sized sushi, a plate of ''what does that taste like?'' samples from the other 200 plus buffet dishes, followed by another plate of crabs legs for pudding!! oooh I almost forgot the three Chinese pastry/cake things for pudding number two. I have such self control!
I've struggled to keep to my weight this month with too many meals out. I know the food police won't get you if you don't clear your plate but I am one of those people who keep going and going even past the wanting it stage. If there is food in front of me I'll eat it. As I said to a friend I still have the bulging bits all over but they just don't weigh as much.
The following day (Sunday) I had somehow got roped in to help out at The Naples Concert Band concert which Ken 'works' for. It was fine. I discovered I don't actually mind shaking a red bucket at complete strangers and demanding money. It is odd the sort of talents you don't suspect in yourself... this is one I should have tried sooner and I could have been rich. Though Ken tells me you can only do it at a concert otherwise it is called demanding money with menaces.
Our month ended on the 30th with a minor blow. Someone, or rather several someones, have decided in their wisdom to erect a shiny Alcatraz black chain link fence along the line of the woods opposite our condo.
(The photo actually isn't our lake, but looks the same. This fence borders two sides of Sherwood 1 and must have cost an arm and a leg!)
Probably bits of my email to R says all I want to say on the subject:
I've calmed down a bit now but I am still saddened by it. Ken thought that a fence along the border of Sherwood meant just that ... In the woods along our border line. We both appreciate that it probably would have cost more to put there as it would have been more difficult to erect but to have spoiled our view in this way is pretty poor. You know I would always choose barrier planting to block access.. Nicer to look at, cheaper to install and virtually maintenance free especially in a wild wood!! There seems to be a resistance to it over here for some reason. Using a fence instead seems to lose on every point: it will need maintaining to some extent and if someone is determined to trespass it will need fixing every five minutes ... It is pretty easy to wreck.
Why shiny black? Dark green to help it blend and a matt finish would have been much better. This one glows delightfully (!) in the setting sun... certainly ruins my favourite moments on the lanai!!!!! Aaaaaarrrgghhh!
The only option we have left is to plant in front of it and anything we do plant will look like some sort of hedge as it will probably be a single specimen... Fig? Bougainvillea? Etc and will need maintaining regularly... More expense! And still it won't be the original more attractive wild aspect we once had. The best form of planting would be a layer of what is on the other side.. In other words put a strip of wood on this side of the fence therefore making the monstrosity ACTUALLY be in the wood as it should have been in the first place. Can you imagine the cost along the length of that stretch?.... That's not going to happen!
Another issue this raises is our own access to the woods... Dog walkers, the man who meditates there, nosey bobs like Ken and I and the fire and other emergency services though they will just hack through it I guess. Anyone who wants to live in there now can do so in comfort as no-one from this side will be checking on them. Fencing our BORDER might have been a good idea but chopping off part of our property just seems plain daft to me.
I suspect my problem here is that I am awful at living in a communal way. I pride myself on being excellent at tolerance and compromise but in truth that is probably only on the things I don't feel all that strongly about, when it comes to things that matter to me I want them done my way! So, a board-run apartment is a bad fit for me.
I mentioned about being very homesick last winter and that I hoped I wouldn't feel like it this year but alas I do. I kept pushing it away and refusing to indulge myself in it to such an extent that eventually I ended up blubbing like a baby one of the days to go home. Poor Ken is bewildered by it all. It isn't that this place isn't wonderful - it is. This is something which has no basis in sense or reason. I just want to go home! The only defence I have is that many people who emigrate to a much better life reach a point where they realise they don't want to be a 'foreigner' in a 'strange' land and they desperately want to go home where everything, even the bad things, chime harmoniously with their soul. Almost everything here now seems to jar. In effect Ken and I have lived in America for five years, even though that is composed of ten half years. In a way that seems like us having been here more time, not less. When I get here now I just feel like an émigrée who needs to go home. I am weary with trying to rationalise it and to convince others that it makes some sort of sense, especially when I know it doesn't. All I know is that I am left with the insoluble conflict of not wanting to live here any more and that I will miss it dreadfully when I don't!
Everyone is perfectly correct in that I would hate the winters back home and that I would miss Naples, so I stick with the plan. The last time we sold up in Naples and bought the house in France I was the one who knocked that on the head a year later because I wanted to be back here! Also Ken loves it here more than our life in the UK. There really isn't a solution. Coming here will have a natural end at some point simply by our advancing old age and the cost and the practical difficulties encountered doing it. I am just marking time and hoping that the end is sooner rather than later (though I suspect it won't be). Meanwhile like a prisoner under house arrest in a palace I tick off the days to December 20th and then to March 29th.