I want to thank my friends and family for their support and prayers! We have definitely felt the love! Last week was a little rough as we dealt with some realities, illness and tension preceding my in-laws’ visit! Remember my last blog entry where I was like “oh the cold isn’t that bad” well I take that back wholeheartedly! Last week it rained every day and temperatures went down to 6 degrees! Our water heater broke down (apparently) on Tuesday and we had no hot water for showers and if anyone knows the Brazilian shower culture and my own crazy standards, they know I can’t not shower, just can’t. SOOOOO I was boiling water and taking bucket showers for two days UNTIL, and get this, Carlos came over to check the water heater (which is a big, gas-fueled machine that has a flame that lights up every time we turn on the hot tap and frankly kinda freaks me out ) and informed us it was just the battery for the lighter that was out and in 5 minutes popped in new batteries and it was working again. HA! Well, it was enough for me to get a nasty cold. The house is super damp, there are leaks everywhere, including in our “new” laundry room (which we need to get to the bottom of) and nothing ever dries. We bought a central heater/furnace but need someone to install it but no one seems interested ( Here’s another thing I have learned about Portugal and perhaps Europe in general: much like Brazil and very much UNLIKE the US, money does NOT always talk here! You can offer to pay, ask very nicely and many professionals (whose job it is to do what you are asking) just don’t seem interested in working. This is something I both hate and love. On one end, it means people aren’t solely[U1] driven by money, they value their health, comfort, etc. and if they have enough to live, many time that’s all they want, much different from the Northern American drive to constantly increase and grow wealth by pushing yourself harder and harder. But if you are on the other end of this and want to GET THINGS DONE, this is very counter-productive, often very frustrating. We would install the dang thing ourselves if it didn’t involve soldering and getting up on the roof in the rain to install the chimney. I’m praying we will find a professional who wants to make money for working soon because it’s been so cold and it will only get worse!) I guess when you’re sick and cold and things are breaking down around you, you start noticing all the things that are wrong and things get exaggerated in your vision. Well, that’s how I was last week. On top of that, we were anxious to receive a visit from my mother and father in law, the first one and we were worried about how Dona Elsa would react to the things we sold/threw away! The painter we hired, Mario has been working on mending and painting the walls of the house and it’s really starting to look better, but, as many know, having work and repairs done makes a tremendous mess, especially when you’re trying to live in the space. We asked him to prioritize the room my in-laws would sleep in, the living room and the upstairs corridor so these spaces would be more comfortable. The dingy, smoke stained, moldy beige that was adding to the dismal feel of the house is slowly being covered with a bright Ivory (a warm white) with a bright “saffron” accent wall in the living room and some of the bedrooms will be a light teal. Anyways, long story short, my in-laws arrived Saturday afternoon so Friday and Saturday morning were a hectic blur of cleaning, scrubbing, laundry, clearing out construction material, wall bits and dirt and DECORATING! I’m finally able to START putting some things on the walls and exercising my design and nesting skills! I prayed a lot for Dona Elsa’s reaction and I’m pleased to say, it wasn’t as bad as we were expecting! My father in law was very impressed and said he felt new life in the house and loved the living room. Of course, Dona Elsa was upset about the china cabinet and an altar piece Simplicio sold without my knowledge (I warned him!) and some other odds and ends, but her dismay was overshadowed by realizing that the house was being taken care of. The funny thing is, the next day, we went to a local fair and the woman who we sold much of the old furniture to was working at the fair selling succulents! What a coincidence! She was super sweet and spoke to Dona Elsa and even offered to return the pieces but my mother-in-law ended up opting to let it go which, for us, was huge! I think, deep down, not only does Dona Elsa have a lot of memories wrapped up in the house, but she feels, in some way, our treatment of the things in the house is a reflection of how we will treat her. She even retorted when we told her that many things were moldy and broken, “Well when I’m old and broken, will you just throw me away!?” and she has hinted at this a few times. I feel for her. But things are things and people are people and we invest in people because that’s really what matters at the end of the day. Pr. Dave at Bridges always says, “Two things last forever : God and People (the soul) so that’s where our greatest investments need to be”. I hope we can show this to Dona Elsa with our actions and I hope she will see that we are cherishing the property by taking care of it.
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