Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Year in Review

I might as well join in the end of year review/new year goals tradition for the holidays. Like a lot of people, I feel big changes beyond anyone´s control underway, and at the same time an odd sensation that some things seem to continue in an odd sort of stasis. But my unease is more powerful than the pressure to keep struggling to maintain the status quo.

So 2010´s accomplishments:

1. I got my Spanish Driver´s License. What a giant pain that was. All I can say is that the incredibly tedius and expensive Spanish instruction system is making a lot of money for someone, and given the number of accidents, I´m not convinced it´s worth it for the end user. Enough said.

2. We bought a car. We took a hit on the eco-cred here, since we were forced to use public transportation, carpooling, and good old foot power for the first three years we were here. But the sheer logistical nightmare of getting to Galicia via plane, train and bus was just too much. It is somewhat mediated by the fact that we don´t really use the car except for travelling back and forth, but the mileage is considerable. We paid cash for a used, diesel vehicle with ample carrying capacity and pretty good fuel efficiency with an eye to future use of bio-diesel, should the need arise. I guess we´ll just have to see.

3. We bought a property. After 2 years and lots of disappointments, we finally found a property! It´s in our price range, close enough to a village with services, has neighbors near enough for emergencies, but private and with electrical and water on site. It´s a bigger renovation project than we´d envisioned, but that also gives us the chance to really get to know the locals, with one thing and another, and will require real investment in the community. And it´s lovely. And we love it. Just got the registration/deed in the mail and Jose tells us the property has been cleared of weeds/brush. Planning to go back up in January.

Personally, I:

1. Learned to spin. The resulting yarn is pretty horrible, but there it is. And I met Lala De Dios of Indigo Textile Studios who has spent the last 30 years in the textile arts in and around Spain and internationally. I caught up with her at Textil Arte in Madrid before Christmas and picked up some more supplies. I hope she will be a valuable contact for future projects. More later.

2. Learned to make soap. This is really intriguing to me and fortunately what I´ve made so far is being positively received. Soap/salve making has the potential to be an ongoing future hobby/income producing endeavor, especially when paired with herbal remedies on a home garden scale. I have real hopes for this.

3. Brewed Beer! We´ve started with the beermaking equivalent of packaged pasta and jarred sauce, but still. Next we´ll be making the sauce and boiling the pasta and after that will be making it all from scratch - if you can follow that metaphore. And it was all drunk apace. Second batch bottled and in repose.

4. Cooked some new stuff, including making yogurt and pickles. I need to stop buying new cookbooks and just start experimenting. Again, took an eco-cred hit on not using more local/organic ingredients, but when figuring miles traveled etc., I´m just promising myself to utilize local products more conscientiously once we´re moved. I do try to buy vegetables and fruits at the local fruit stand, not the supermarket. Given the speed at which it goes bad, and the lack of aesthetic perfection when I buy it, I´m hoping it´s at least Spanish in origin and not from, say, China.

5. Grew some stuff on the terraza. Granted, it was only tomatoes and herbs, but it was from seed! From seed! And some of it grew! And we ate it! Onward and upward.

6. Tried knitting again. We know how that went.

7. Lose weight/shape up. Miserable failure. Started with a functional exercise program in September but lost track in November with multiple trips and just gave up over the holidays. Not helped by farm food recipes. Back to the drawing board.

8. Started a blog. Draw your own conclusions.

All in all I feel like we´ve taken some (very) concrete steps in changing our lives in a direction we hope will be in some ways simpler, in some ways much more complicated, and hopefully more rewarding personally, if not monetarily.

Next post will be goals for 2011 and beyond.


  1. Congratulations on all your achievements during the past year, especially the driving!A survey was recently carried out in Galicia regarding speed signs, 60% of those asked believed that the statuary speed limits were advisory, not compulsory!
    Your shop local shop Organic will be easier when you move as there are several Organic Co-Ops in the area that you are moving to.

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