far too much writing, far too many photos

Madrid is in the middle of a spectacular November day — skies washed clean by recent rainfall, sunlight pouring down through scatterings of wispy pre-rain clouds, here in advance of gray/wet weather predicted for tomorrow. Air cool and fresh. A fine day to be out in, a good day for taking care of errands

The construction across the street [see yesterday's entry] brought a huge cement truck in early this morning, one equipped with a massive crane that, when extended, stretched way the hell up toward the blue sky. The workers used the boom to pour concrete on the roof of the building, right across from here, five stories up (in American terms; four in European). Noisy, but interesting to watch. Not the kind of activity you see every day at this altitude.

Traffic accustomed to cutting through the neighborhood on this narrow street found itself blocked out, producing long lines of confused, unhappy drivers along with the occasional chorus of blaring horns. Down the block in the other direction, the sounds of construction and motorist tantrums faded quickly, life in the plaza carrying in normal fashion. Busy, people passing through, some heading into or out of the Metro, others stopping to pick up a paper. Others sifted in and out of tiendas and restaurants, trailing snatches of conversation. Dogs came and went, brought to the plaza by their humans for fresh air, exercise, maybe some fraternization with fellow canines. A young woman appeared, holding a three or so month old pup in her arms, one that will grow up to be the kind of strange-looking dog George C. Scott had in ‘Patton.’ (Strange-looking in a cool way, I think, not freakish or oogly, as a past sweetheart of mine put it after we saw the film and she felt compelled to comment on the dog.) She rushed over to a 20-something guy in a puffy coat sitting on one of the concrete benches, they huddled together over the puppy, talking happily to and about it.

And all of that pretty much describes the normal soundtrack around that part of the neighborhood: footsteps, voices in conversation, the occasional dog barking.

Nothing special, really. Normal life. Though special for that, rich in its normalcy. At least when one takes a moment to absorb it — the light, the sounds, the movement. All the lives going on, all the coming and going, the hours slipping by.

Normal life. Nothing special. And good to be in the middle of. A gift we sometimes lose sight of — the simple living of life.

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Two images from the front window of a shop down the street from here, just beyond the plaza. A quirky little joint, packed with all kinds of unashamedly kitschy tchotchkes. Keep in mind that this shop is located in the heart of Chueca, Madrid’s version of Greenwich Village, a happening neighborhood with a substantial gay element. That, in combination with Spain’s long history of intense Catholicism and a strong streak of sentimentalism, produces an interesting mix of wares.

The legends at the top and bottom of the clock in the first picture read: Conjugal Barometer — So my husband is today. And moving around the dial, starting at 1 o’clock, the husband is happy, active, tired, cuddlesome, joyful, very affectionate, indifferent, variable, biting (as in scathing or sarcastic, not as in love nibbles), grumpy, crazy, furious. The legend on the photo of the two women reads, “And when I through your love came to know joy, then began my true life.” And of course, in the framed superhero moment, Robin is telling Batman, “You’re my hero!”, Batman looking suspiciously happy about that.

The second photo: The saying in the central framed piece reads “Congratulations to all the people who feel proud to be who they are.”

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