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Sunday, March 31, 2013

Changing Time(s)

I went for my second One to One training session on my new Macintosh computer on Thursday this week at the Apple Store in Nueva Condomina in Murcia. Last time I worked with Miguel, who spoke excellent English. This time I worked with Maria, who claimed "poco ingles," and I was feeling adventurous, so we spoke Spanish. Maria started me out with the various features in the dock. When we looked at the Dashboard, I realized that the clock still showed Cupertino time. That wasn't useful to either one of us, and Maria quickly showed me how to change it to Madrid time.

I think she mentioned something about an alarm clock function, but I must have missed that and only heard her say that she didn't need a despertador to wake up because she had two cats. This I understood right away, as we have one cat, Goldie, who would never permit any other cat competition in the house. Goldie usually awakens us promptly at 6:00 AM to inform us that it is time for us to open the doors so she can go outside to inspect her fiefdom. "Si, entiendo," I said, laughing, "tenemos una gata y ella nos despertamos cada mañana a las 6:00."

'No," said Maria, "my cats have been waking up at 5:00 lately." And that's when I remembered that for the past two mornings, Goldie also had been making her appearance at 5:00.

I took this opportunity to verify with Maria that it was this coming weekend that Spain changes from winter time, the equivalent of standard time, to summer time, the equivalent of the quaintly named Daylight Savings Time (just how, exactly, does DST "save" daylight, where does it store it, and why does it not increase in value over six months of summer, anyway?)

Yes, Maria and I agreed, the cats must sense that we are about to change time.

And so we did, last night, or rather, this morning, at 2:00 AM. Or at the hour at which we went to bed, which was considerably earlier than 2:00 for me. And sure enough, Goldie let us sleep this morning until 7:00 AM on the clock, which was the old standard of 6:00 AM. How considerate of her!

And just as Maria had told me, the time on my new computer changed automatically overnight. That didn't surprise me--Macs are not the only computers that change time automatically as long as you have the right location built in. (What I'm waiting for is one that automatically adjusts to whatever time zone I am in without me having to tell it that I have changed locations.) I am using the new computer to write this blogpost, but it is slow going. Macs have changed considerably in the 15 years since I last used one on a daily basis, and it is going to take me some time to catch up.

Spring Signs and Rituals

There was a gentle rain this Sunday in Spain on Easter morning. I didn't even realize it until I went outside to put towels in the washing machine, but then I saw that the pavement tile was wet and, when I raised the lid on the large plastic garden container that hides the laundry, there was a small spill-off of water. I put the laundry in the washing machine anyway, because I have faith that the sun will come out sometime before the day is over.

If a little rain isn't a sign of spring, I don't know what is. This week has been full of signs, and that seems appropriate, especially as we were approaching Easter, although it was a little early this year.

Early in the week as I was hanging clothing out to dry, I realized that I had a line full of warm socks although I didn't have any on myself that day at all. I haven't switched to sandals yet, but I have started wearing my hole-y "air-conditioned" plastic garden clogs (I have three pairs) that I can wear with or without socks and let my feet air out while still keeping them off cold tile floors.

Forgive me for talking about matters of personal hygiene, but I also shaved my legs for the first time in awhile, since I was putting on what we used to refer to as nylon stockings but what are now (still, I hope) referred to as pantyhose, or tights. The occasion was that concert last weekend, and I wore a skirt with natural-colored stockings and let my legs breathe after their winter hibernation.

I had carefully saved a few spring clothes at the back of my closet when putting away summer things last fall, and I was glad because I have been in to them several times now. A friend told me yesterday that they had spent the previous day doing the summer/winter clothing exchange, so all their winter things were now packed away, seasonal donations had been made, and she had a list of clothing accessories they needed to buy in preparation for their upcoming May cruise, but I haven't taken that big a step yet and I don't have a cruise to prepare for.

Spring travel has started. There have been an unusual number of young children at the cafes and restaurants, and the grocery stores, that we have frequented in the past few days. They are here on spring break, with their parents or without, to visit the grandparents. Or the grandparents have gone home to Scandinavia or the UK to participate in the communions and confirmations, and Easter and other festivities of the spring season, even though both those areas of the world are experiencing anything but spring weather.

Our house has warmed up sufficiently so that we have gone several days without turning on the infrared heating panels that were a major investment last year for the upstairs bedroom and bath. They worked well, and we may add them to a couple other rooms later on this year when we begin to think about colder weather again.We have also gone a couple evenings without using the gas-fired fireplace while watching the news and night-time television. Each time we plunk down the euros for a propane bottle--and the number was just increased again this week so we are now paying almost double what it started out to be when we got the gas heater four years ago, but it is still worth it--one of us says "This is probably the last bottle we will need to buy before the summer." Then I say, "Don't bank on it."

When the cleaners were here last week they vacuumed and rolled the two carpets from the dining room and living room that we use in the winter but which we take up in the summer because they would be way too warm. They were able to get one rug into a giant plastic bag for storage, but the other was too large, and it waits, in the guest bath, for a custom-designed plastic bag arrangement before it can go out for storage.

Speaking of storage, I sat with a friend in our downstairs sun room--the one we pass through whenever we enter or leave the house, and the one in which we eat lunch almost every day, early one evening this week, having a glass of wine. All of a sudden I raised my eyes to the ceiling and there was the last one of the Christmas decorations, dangling from a hook in the ceiling that used to hold a hanging plant that died--obviously because we had failed to raise our eyes and a watering can often enough. There is a Danish song that says "Christmas lasts until Easter," and we certainly held up that tradition this year.

Of course it is just coincidence that in 2013 we changed from "summer time" to "winter time" the night before Easter. That timing didn't make it easy to get to Easter sunrise services, if there were any. Europe always changes to summer time the last weekend in March, and I find it disorienting and mildly annoying that Europe and the U.S. don't participate in this annual spring ritual on the same day, or night.

We participated in my favorite spring tradition yesterday afternoon--we went to Los Montesinos de Tapas in a neighboring town. This is the third or maybe the fourth time we have been to this tapas festival, which is always held on the weekend of Semana Santa, leading up to Easter. This year I remembered it in advance, without even seeing any notice in the newspapers or on posters. As opposed to today, yesterday was warm and sunny and about 90 degrees F. in the sun, and we sat in the sun on the central plaza of Los Montesinos at two different bars, enjoying albondigas (meatballs) at the first and something called La Campesina, a delicious slice of warm ham and red pepper on bread, at the second, with our beers. We thought one more tapa would round out our lunch nicely and were ready to move on when some friends happened by. So we did move on, with them, to another place, where we sat inside because it was too hot in the sun, and talked over a tapa of morcilla (black sausage) on a thin layer of cooked apple, with a hard-boiled quail egg. Delicious!

It's moving on toward 3:30 summer time now. The sky is lightening by the minute but there is still no sun. The clean towels are languishing in the washing machine, and soon I will have to decide whether to move them over to the tumble dryer or hang them on the line. On rainy days in this part of Spain it almost always gets sunny by 4:00 in the afternoon. But does the sun know that we changed the clocks last night? Will it also spring forward so I can make my decision at summer 4:00?

Monday, March 25, 2013

Plaza de Colón, Madrid

We had time to spare last Wednesday, March 20, as we walked along Calle de Serrano in Madrid from the embassy of the United States to the embassy of Denmark, and it was warm and sunny. After locating the Danish embassy we went across the street to the Plaza de Colón, where a number of police or military (it's hard to tell which is which) were standing about. We thought perhaps they were there in preparation for an upcoming political demonstration, as we had previously seen signs in the Metro station that there were planned work stoppages later that day. But no, they said they were there because they raise a large flag one day each month, and they are always there when the flag goes up.

We thought we might as well be there, too, since we just happened to be there on the one day of the month that the flag was raised, and it just happened to be sunny and warm, and there just happened to be an empty table at a cafetería across the street, and we just happened to have plenty of time. So we stopped and had a coffee and a granizado and read the newspaper, and a few minutes after noontime we heard music and saw that an enormous flag was being unfurled. It went up quickly, and then the band marched away and there was no more music. The flag continued flying and every so often was spread out to its full width in a gentle breeze.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

All Eyes on Center

Saturday evening we went to our second concert of the weekend; this one was at Torrevieja's new Auditorio Conservatorio Internacional, where we had been only once before, to an inaugural concert in January. In true Spanish style, this concert started at 9:00 PM, and I was a little worried about falling asleep at that hour with a "heavy" program of Mozart's Symphony no. 25 in G Minor, K. 183, and the Requiem, K. 626.

I needn't have worried. Symphony no. 25 is the one played at the beginning scenes of the film Amadeus and is quite lively. You wouldn't expect a Requiem to be lively, but the twelve movements provided more variation than I had expected, and the 75-member chorus plus soloists all combined (with the 50-member orchestra) to keep me not only awake but interested. I am learning, too, that it is always entertaining to watch this young but accomplished orchestra directed by José F. Sánchez in the gorgeous and glorious auditorium of the conservatory.

The conservatory itself is brand new and from all appearances no expense was spared in its decoration, except for whatever it would have cost to put up directional signs.With no ushers to direct you, it is really difficult to find your seat, so we planned on arriving 45 minutes early for the hunt. Although we had been there once before, we did not have seats in the same section this time, but I thought that I remembered that when finding our previous D section on the second floor that we had seen the F section nearby.

No ushers, but the ticket-taker at the door did tell us to go to the second floor, on the right-hand side. We had previously been on the left. Oh well, we went up and found our places, Section F, Row 8, seats 24 and 26, without much trouble. Other people were not so lucky, and up until the lights dimmed there were people milling around looking for 14 and 3 and all sorts of other numbers. We thought we had figured out that the even numbers were on the right of the row and the odd numbers were on the left.

We were correct, but what I had failed to notice was the corollary of that rule. If we were sitting on the aisle in seats numbered 24 and 26, and the odd numbers were toward the left, how far left were they? On the opposite aisle, it turns out, for there was no center aisle. And where does that leave seats numbered 1 and 2? In the center of the row, that's where. You can see it on the plan that I have now found, but which I had not located last night. Keep your eyes on the center of the rows to find 1 and 2. Except on the shorter rows, of course, where there are no seats 1 and 2.

Songs for the 60s

Torrevieja String Ensemble Playing The Beatles ©2013 Johannes Bjorner

Friday was a nice, warm, and sunny day and it was still fairly warm when we left at 5:30 in the afternoon, bound for downtown Torrevieja with three good friends for a round of tapas before going on to a concert at the Palacio de la Música. I had been looking forward to this event ever since I first heard about it on January 6 at another musical performance at the new International Conservatory auditorium of Torrevieja. This was billed as a concert with a string ensemble playing songs of The Beatles and Simon & Garfunkel. Just the nostalgia trip back to the '60s that I would need in March, as I approached a 60s-something birthday, I had thought then.

We had not been to this concert hall before, and though we found an imposing structure, the auditorium for this concert was surprisingly intimate, seating only 240, and perfect for chamber music such as this. We were in the fourth or fifth row on the main floor and we could see and hear everything, including the expressions on the faces of the musicians.

The string ensemble turned out to be a quintet, with four violins (they were all the same size from my vantage point) and a cello. The concertmaster surprised us all by greeting us, first in Spanish and then in English, saying that the five people on stage were to be playing, but we in the audience were supposed to do the singing. We were, of course, a mixed group of British and Germans and Scandinavians and other northern Europeans, in addition to some Spaniards, and we never really broke out in chorus, but I heard a lot of humming.

One thing I had forgotten about musical performances in Spain, or at least in Torrevieja, is that there are no ushers and, perhaps as a consequence, programs are not distributed. We didn't actually find the printed program until we were leaving the palacio after the concert. There it was, on a table beside the door! During the concert we just listened as each song began and even I was able to identify most tunes before we were in to the second or third measure. Here is the program information that we didn't find until later, reprinted verbatim:

If I Fell . . . . . . . . . . Lennon-McCartney
Bridge Over Troubled Water . . . . . . . . . . . Simon & Garfunquel
Lady Madonna . . . . . . . . . . Lennon-McCartney
Hey Jude . . . . . . . . . . Lennon-McCartney
Let It Be . . . . . . . . . . Lennon-McCartney
Killing Me Softly With His Song . . . . . . . . . . Simon & Garfunquel
Yesterday . . . . . . . . . . Lennon-McCartney
Get Back . . . . . . . . . . Lennon-McCartney

And I Loved Her . . . . . . . . . . Lennon-McCartney
Eight Days a Week . . . . . . . . . . Lennon-McCartney
Michelle . . . . . . . . . . Lennon-McCartney
When I'm Sixty Four . . . . . . . . . . Lennon-McCartney
I Feel Fine . . . . . . . . . . Lennon-McCartney
A Hard Day's Night . . . . . . . . . . Lennon-McCartney
Yellow Submarine . . . . . . . . . . Lennon-McCartney

I had been surprised, when I heard the opening bars of "Killing Me Softly," that it was included in this group, but Johannes and I have a special relationship with this song from years past. At one time he worked at a small company in Massachusetts, where he was responsible for developing circuitry to improve sound quality on a recording device (this was pre-digital recording). "Killing Me Softly" was the test song that had been recorded to use as a quality standard, and its strains were heard several times a day by Johannes and the other personnel in the lab for more than a few months, until everyone wanted to kill the project. And then I heard the story of the trials with this appropriate song for many more years. So when "Killing Me Softly" was played at this concert in Torrevieja it surprised me, but it only added to the nostalgia of the evening. Mind you, this morning I spent an hour or so scouring the Internet to find some relationship between Simon & Garfunkel and "Killing Me Softly With His Song," and I have found none, though I did learn, from several sources besides this one at Wikipedia, that its origins are "disputed."

Whether you were or are a Beatles fan or not, another dimension is added when you hear it from strings and see the pleasure on the faces of a group of musicians as they go through the movements to elicit the sounds. The concertmaster said that this performance was something the group wanted to give the "English community," by which I understand him to mean the multinational immigrant peoples that make up about half of the Torrevieja area population, most of whom are old enough to remember the sounds of the '60s as a part of their youth, many of whom may have learned English from the music, and more than a few of whom have already answered the "When I'm Sixty-Four" question in the affirmative.

It was a lovely evening.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Día del Padre

This coming Tuesday, March 19, is Father's Day in Spain. It is a public holiday. Banks and all the stores will be closed. Father's Day has been celebrated nationally in Spain on this date since 1951. March 19 was chosen because, in the Catholic calendar, it is also the feast day of San José. There is something very fitting about celebrating fatherhood in connection with the person who was the husband of the Virgin Mary and the earthly father of Jesus, who the world knows as a simple carpenter but who must have been a humble and very accepting father.

El Día del Padre is a little different this year. Since it falls on a Tuesday, the Spanish temptation is to hacer un puente, to make a bridge, from the weekend to the holiday; in other words, to have a long weekend without having to go to work. And the calendar cooperated, for this year January 6, which is Los Reyes, Three Kings Day, or Epiphany, happened to fall on a Sunday, a day that is not normally a work day at all. So workers were "cheated" out of a day off, except that they voted, or decided somehow, to move Reyes to Monday, March 18, the day between the weekend and Día del Padre. Not the actual celebration of Reyes, of course, but the official day off from work. This provides the perfect bridge to a long, long weekend.

That's why I am not having my municipally sponsored Spanish lesson tomorrow morning, because it is the public holiday that workers did not have in January. Signs have been up in the grocery stores saying that they will be open for part of the day on this substitute holiday on Monday, and we are hoping that some professional offices will be open--accountants are what we are after now--but I am betting we will be disappointed. That means we will most likely have to wait until Wednesday to touch base with the accountant, because Tuesday, is definitely a holiday for all, and nothing will be open. Stores and shops will be fined if they are open to conduct business on this day--unless they are in the leisure or hospitality business, that is.

Mothering Sunday

Last Sunday, March 10, was Mothering Sunday in Spain. Or, no, it was Mothering Sunday in the U.K., but given the number of Brits who live in this part of Spain, it may as well have been a Spanish holiday. This year I saw it coming. It seemed like every one of the free weekly newspapers carried big ads, or adverts, as we say here, for special Sunday dinner  menus on Mothering Sunday. No sooner was Valentine's Day out of the way than the adverts started up reminding anyone who cared to think about it that here was another good reason to go out for a sumptuous dinner.

Nevertheless I forgot on the day itself. Last Sunday morning was beautifully sunny and warmer than it had been for several days. Instead of going to our usual outdoor Sunday market, the Zoco, we headed off toward Guardamar and the market on the Lemon Tree Road for a change. It is bigger, and many say the prices are cheaper, and they have a whole different set of small outdoor cafe bars where you can have coffee, wine or beer, English breakfast, German wursts, or all sorts of other food and drink.

We parked at the edge of El Raso urbanization next door and started walking across the first of two or three dirt parking lots toward the market. I was enjoying the sunlight but looking directly into it, so I saw the solitary man coming toward me but I wasn't focused on him any more than that he was walking straight toward us, carrying his market purchases. He called out to me first, "No, they are not for you!" he said jokingly. I must have been smiling more than I thought.

As we approached each other I could see that he had not one but two huge bouquets of flowers in his arms. One was all day lilies, and the other was mixed stems. I don't think he was carrying anything else, though it had seemed, when I first saw him, that his arms were full. And so they were. "These aren't for you," he repeated. "They are for my wife. It's Mothering Sunday today, in Britain, and I'm taking these home to my wife." He obviously was cheerful and anticipating the pleasure his gift would bring. We acknowledged that they were beautiful, exchanged a few more pleasant words, reveled in the beautiful day and loving sentiments, and then moved on in opposite directions.

Later in the day I kept thinking of his enthusiasm, and silently complimented the Brits on making this a day honoring "mothering" rather than "mothers," presumably paying note to all women, and people, who are nourishers of life, rather than only those who may have given it biologically. And then I thought how appropriate it was that the British day to honor mothering was so close to International Women's Day, which had also been celebrated with many special events in Spain that same week, on March 8.

And then I did a little research and discovered how wrong my assumptions had been. This year  Mothering Day was March 10--the closest Sunday to March 8--but it's one of those floating holidays that depend on the natural  calendar, like Easter. In fact, Mothering Sunday is always celebrated on the fourth Sunday in Lent, and it is because Easter falls so early this year that it happened to coincide with International Women's Day. And that's not all. Mothering Day did not originate to honor mothers or mothering. "Mothering" refers to the "mother church," and the tradition was that on this fourth Sunday in Lent, people who had moved away from the village where they had been born and baptized would go "a-mothering" to their mother church and then enjoy a family visit. The holiday became very important during the years when young people moved from their homes "into service" in mansions at some distance from their homes, and they were given one special day to go home to their families, for they were never given the time to go home on holidays like Christmas or Easter itself. The move from emphasis on Mothering Sunday as a day to go to the home church to a day to honor mothers came about after Mother's Day became a fixture of life in the United States. During World War II, when many U.S. soldiers were stationed in Great Britain, they spread the idea of celebrating their mothers with flowers and cards and remembrance.

Both the BBC and Wikipedia have articles about the origins and current celebrations of Mothering Sunday, but one should also check out the trademarked Mothering-Sunday UK site.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Morning Concerts

Most mornings this week I have awakened to the sound of birds singing. Apparently they nest, or flit around, in the yucca trees outside the sliding glass door of the full-height window leading to the French balcony off the second-story bedroom. That window is shaded first (outside) with the aluminum reja--standard equipment in Spanish houses--that rolls down its full length at night, and second (inside) with the voluminous, heavy, floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall curtains that we installed a year ago to try to offset the effects of no central heating and less-than-tight construction (also standard in Spanish houses).

Still the sound comes in. It's a sign of spring, because one day it's there--and you probably don't notice it then--but the second day--that's when you notice it! On that second day this week it started a little before 7:00 AM. I am not a birder, so I can't tell you what birds are singing and what they are signalling. They chirp, and whistle, and tweet. There seems to be a conversation, and sometimes you can mark movement of the songsters, but I am still too much asleep to get up and part the curtains and roll up the reja to see what they are doing. And of course it is sill dark out at this hour, so it wouldn't do much good even if I did feel like getting up.

So I lie in bed and listen to the bird concert, a whole cacophony of sound from different species, presumably saying different things, or the same thing, but disagreeing, or the same thing in their own dialect. Who knows? It is a beautiful sound, and it lasts for 15 or 20 minutes and then it ceases.

Ten or 15 minutes later it starts up again. What has happened in the meantime? Perhaps the sun is approaching the horizon and warnings need to be given. Another symphony erupts and I lie in bed, tapping solitaires, scanning yesterday's headlines of my top ten newspapers from the Newseum, or catching up on reading from The Economist or (recently) The New Yorker. And then, a few minutes later, it subsides. A few precious encores peep through, but after awhile I recognize that today's bird concert is over.

This Sunday morning I woke a little after 7:00 and welcomed the concert again. I was entertained with peeps and chirps and tweets and whistles and songs for 15 minutes, and then the music lapsed. I waited through the intermission, stepping out only for a trip to the bathroom and downstairs to pick up a cup of coffee, but then, back to bed for the second part of my morning concert.

It never came. I did hear a fear tweets and chirps, much like stray instruments tuning up in between sets, but when the clock moved to after 8:00, I had to recognize that this morning I had slept thorough the first act and intermission, and had only awakened for the second and concluding set. Part of what makes birdsong so unutterably beautiful, I think, is the sheer unexpectedness of it. Even though I made a mental note to try to wake up earlier tomorrow morning, therefore, the best thing will be if I wake up not thinking in advance that I want to catch the morning concert, but that I just hear it.

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Many years ago I drove to work early in the morning, leaving my house in Massachusetts before 7:00 AM and driving south along Route 3 and then down Massachusetts Avenue to a parking lot in Cambridge just north of the Charles river. Depending on traffic, it took anywhere from one hour and 15 minutes to 2 hours. I could always gauge my progress early because I listened to the National Public Radio station WGBH, and Robert J. Lurtsema would begin his Morning Pro Musica program promptly at 7:00 with bird songs. I don't think this YouTube rendition is exactly the same thing, but it's a decent substitute.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

First of March

March came in like a lamb where I was in Spain last Friday. It was a big change from the day prior, when I had been sitting calmly in the morning writing a lengthy stream-of-consciousness email at my desk while downloading thousands of emails onto a new laptop at my side and hardly noticing that the pitter-patter of light rain had intensified to a heavy downpour. And then I heard a clap of thunder so sudden and so loud and so near that I looked around to see if we were having an earthquake! We were not, but more earth-shattering thunder followed and then I heard the sound of hail on the roof and the terrace floor outside. This was just at the time that Johannes' piano lesson was finishing, but it would have been inhospitable to send anyone out with ice balls falling and water gushing down the street and overflowing the drains, so I went downstairs and joined Johannes and his teacher for a hot cup of coffee while we waited for the rain to stop, or at least let up enough so she could step out the door to her car.

We sat in the living room with coffee, warming ourselves inside and out with the sight and flames of the gas fire when all of a sudden another clap of thunder came and squeezed out the lights. And as the lights died, so, of course, did all electricity and my heart sank as I felt the email that had been on my desktop screen upstairs flow out into the world of no return, because I had been writing on the hard-wired computer instead of the battery-operated laptop. The gas fire stayed on, but my world was a little dimmer than it had been before. I still have not been able to resurrect the consciousness that had been streaming so prodigiously as I wrote while downloading all those email messages from the past three weeks that I didn't really want, but didn't know how to stop the flow.

The piano teacher did go home within the hour, and Thursday afternoon the weather cleared and waters receded enough so we dared drive out to inspect our surroundings (that low spot in the pavement on our access road that we always forget about until it rains must have been overflowing with water when she tried to drive through it). And on Friday morning the sun rose, and the sky was blue, there were no clouds, and no wind.

At 4:30 Friday afternoon it was a glorious day and I drove out alone to meet an American girl friend for a coffee and a long-overdue chat. We had our choice of cafe bars in the plaza of Los Montesinos but we decided to sit inside at Carl's, because the outside tables were in the shade and we wanted to be in this location so that my friend could easily catch her son when he came down that lane from his music lesson. But we sat at a table just inside the open door and next to a window, so we could watch the afternoon fade and the activity in the plaza while we talked. We had a lot to catch up on, and the conversation didn't stop until 6:30, when I needed to leave to drive home to assemble the dinner menu that I had left at the latest possible stage of pre-preparation. My friend is American, but she keeps a Spanish household, so she could have gone on for another hour and a half before going home to start her dinner preparations.

As it turned out, I left at a very good time. At 6:30 or so I made my way out of town with parking lights on, but as I drove the secondary roads toward home, I flicked on the regular driving lights. The sky changed from cerulean blue to shades of orange and red as sunlight found its way around enormous white clouds and then the sun itself slipped behind a cloud and I turned in another direction, and when I drove into Montebello and parked in front of my house, the beautiful early evening sky was replaced by two-story houses, though the view probably extended for several more minutes out in the countryside.

It was a lovely conversation and a lovely drive home.