C I V I L    M A R R I A G E    I S    A    C I V I L    R I G H T.

A N D N O W I T ' S T H E L A W O F T H E L A N D.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

"How was your month, Dear?"

The very exclusive beach at Marbella beside the blue Mediterranean, 
playground of the rich and famous.

A guest post by my truckbuddy Tim from England, now resident in Spain, where he spends his golden years lolling about on the Costa del Sol, counting the mega-yachts in the harbor, and sipping champagne with oil sheiks and oligarchs:

"How was your month, Dear?"

You probably haven't noticed, but I've been absent from the pages of the Blue Truck for some time this year, but I do have a good excuse:  several, in fact.

We all know the old gag - a man comes home from work to find his wife frazzled and drinking, and he asks, unthinkingly, "How was your day, Dear?" Well, for 2019 I've dispensed with having days. I'm having months.

Just since late spring, I've had three bouts of surgery, two of them for prostate cancer. And to put the icing on the cake, my beloved Labrador, Lulu, died at the end of June. I'm not seeking sympathy here, rather I'm trying to make light of life and all the terrible trials and tribulations it throws at you from time to time. Putting it all down on paper seems to help. I don't know how exactly, but I've found it to be a form of closure. A means of bringing order to the chaos perhaps? Sometimes in life, if you don't laugh, you'll cry. And laughter, as the old saying goes, is the best medicine. And so, for me, is writing.

This tale also helps to debunk the mythical notion held by my Editor; namely that my retired life here in Spain is some sort of hedonistic paradise, akin to living in Palm Springs, say, or Palm Beach. Sure, there are some nice meals, sunshine and blue skies, but there's tears and tantrums too. Whatever our own personal desires, Life marches blithely on . . . and on. But there's always hope. If you're patient, and you keep faith, there will be light at the end of any tunnel. Just don't expect Life to give you an easy ride along the way!

So, how was my month? Read on.

Continued after the jump . . .

July 21st: This long, dry summer has seen an explosion in the local rat and cockroach population. The bone-dry countryside drives them to seek cooler, greener pastures. Partner and I have been battling the roaches on and off for a couple of months. Today we awoke to find we had been visited overnight by a rat/rats. We spent the early morning cleaning and disinfecting. Pulling out the fridge, behind which they had made their toilet, etc. Partner and I do not do mornings, it was a bad start to the day! We put down poison blocks everywhere.

July 22nd: Partner’s 67th Birthday. I get up to write his birthday card. I need the magnifying glass, and open his drawer in the Welsh dresser, where he keeps it. Inside are the two poison blocks we put under the dresser the night before. Strange, says I. Why would Partner do that? I open my drawer because I now have a horrible sense of foreboding. Inside various personal papers are now in shreds. Bastard! The rat/rats have obviously started a nest, and taken the blocks for a food supply. I tentatively open the middle drawer. There is a grey, furry back sitting on top of the best silver cutlery within. He/she is cleaning his/her whiskers.

 I stifle the scream and gently close the drawer. I arrange with Partner to stand by with the garbage can and lid, in which I will rapidly place the drawer. The drawer is heavy, my wrists are weak. I drop the drawer, partner drops the lid, and Ratty runs around the walls before exiting through the patio door for the garden. This time I don’t stifle the scream, neither does Partner. We spend his birthday morning disinfecting the drawers, washing the cutlery, etc., etc. Later, whilst listening to the radio, they mention that it is International Rat-catchers Day . . . honestly! Started, apparently, by the Germans, in honor of the Pied Piper of Hamelin. You couldn’t make it up.

In the evening we dined magnificently, and deservedly, at the Marbella Club. Once the haunt of the international jet set, it still exudes an air of relaxed elegance and sophistication. And not a rat in sight! A superb cheese soufflé with mozzarella cream for starters, Chateaubriand for main, tender as a tender thing, and a chocolate gateau, complete with candles and singing waiters for dessert. Talk about rags to riches!

July 23rd: Sore heads, but no sign of rats. The poison we put down outside on the patio has been taken, yay! We meet the local pest controller, who is putting down poison and traps around the community. He places a trap under our garden hedge.

July 26th: We go for an evening meal at a local club where they have an Argentinian Blues guitar player named Joaquin in session. Fish and chips and an Argie singing Eric Clapton and the Eagles. Joaquin is rather handsome. Partner has since become a groupie. LoL!

July 27th: The pumps working our little artificial communal stream (full of koi carp) have failed. By evening, the water level is dangerously low. I inform the vice-president of the community. He says it will be sorted tomorrow. I say it needs sorting now. He doesn’t. That evening I run a water hose down to the stream to top it up.

July 28th: Success, stream topped up, expensive fish saved. However, the president of community (also Argentinian, but not a nice one) arrives and tells me I shouldn’t have done it, and that I’ve flooded part of lower garden! Not the thanks I was expecting. Turns out the overflow filters were blocked. So not my fault, just poor maintenance then. As he leaves, he notices and picks up the rat trap under our hedge. "What's this?" he enquires. I tell him. He screams and drops it, departing hastily. Revenge is sweet. (I'm still awaiting an apology and thanks btw.)

July 30th: The side-effects of my post-op hormone treatment are getting so bad now, I haven’t slept for 5 nights due to continual hot flushes. (Do NOT laugh!) In desperation I go to the doc’s and demand strong sleeping tablets.

In the afternoon we have to drive a 30-mile round trip to take our lounge curtains for repair. The fierce sunlight coming into our living room must have gradually rotted the headers, the band where the curtain hooks go in. Partner decided to machine wash them and they fell apart. In the heat, it is traffic jams all the way there and back. Ugh!

July 31st: Sleeping tablets didn’t work, nor do they for the next week. And they make me so tired I can’t drive.

August 6th: The water main into the house bursts in our front garden. I spend the day trying to organize a plumber. They’re all on holiday, it being August, when Spain closes. I have to turn on/off water at set hours, filling pots, pans, jugs, etc. Partner stands by, he doesn't do technical.

Aug 7th: The curtains are ready, but the burst pipe takes priority. In the morning we meet by chance a builder who recommends a plumber. Back home, we wait all afternoon for the plumber to arrive. He doesn't. We could have gone and collected the curtains after all. At 7 pm he finally arrives and I agree a job and price. 8pm, Partner (remember, he's not technical) says he doesn’t agree with my analysis of the water pipe problem or my solution. 8.15 pm, I have my first drink of the evening. I don't make Partner one, I'm too angry. 8:20 pm, we have a 'discussion'. 8:30, I make my second drink.

Aug 8th: Another visit to the Docs, new sleeping tablets are prescribed. 4 pm, the plumber arrives with a builder to start work. By evening we have flowing water restored, but the new pipe remains exposed.

Aug 9th: The new sleeping tablets didn’t work either, except to destroy my sense of taste. My mouth tastes like a garbage can with a rat in it. We collect our curtains in the morning, more traffic jams. Gah! Cost $100. Burst pipe job finished in the afternoon, but we can’t park the car in front for another 2 days until the concrete repair hardens. Cost $450. In the evening, too tired to cook for ourselves, we eat at a local cafe, beautiful steak and fries. It’s run by more Argentinians. Are there any left in Buenos Aires, we wonder?

Aug 10th: Partner's teenaged second cousins are here on holiday. We take them out for a typically Spanish meal, Manchego cheese, Serrano ham, etc. Have you ever tried to make conversation for three hours with a teenager lately, let alone two of them? ‘Nuff said.

Aug 20th: Visit doc’s for blood and urine tests prior to an appointment with my urologist on the 30th. Thus giving plenty of time for the results to come back, bearing in mind most of Spain is on holiday this month. The nurse cannot find a suitable vein. I say it was there last time. She digs around and finds it at last, leaving a large bruise to prove it. For the rest of the day, people shun me in the street because I have a large bloodstained bandage over the crook of my arm.

Aug 21st: The appointment on the 30th with the urologist is cancelled and brought forward to the 23rd, too early for my results to be ready. Insert expletive of choice here! The car starts making funny electronic noises. It's been doing strange things for the past week. Join the club!

Aug 22nd: The car will not start, nada, nothing, zilch! Our local Ford dealer is on holiday. I have to call emergency roadside assistance. “Your battery is dead!” says the mechanic. “No, really?” I reply (remember I'm the technical one). He jump-starts the car and says “Drive now and get a new battery, do not stop, it will never start again.” Three hours later, under the midday sun, we get a new battery fitted. Cost $330. Since when did batteries get so expensive?

I've been distracted and suddenly realize I have to contact my urologist urgently because he was planning to give me a hormone treatment injection on the 30th, and it has to be ordered especially from the pharmacy. The urologist says not to panic. How did he know I was?

Aug 23rd: Visit to urologist, he has to phone to get the results from the lab, but YAY!!! My PSA level is markedly down, showing that my prostate operation in May has been a success. And I can come off the hormone therapy, though the side effects will continue for a couple of months more. BOO! But what wonderful news! I thank him profusely. I tell him about the sleeping tablets. He says to stop them, and try an infusion of the herb sage, to be taken three times a day, which may help stop the hot flushes. (Still NOT funny!) Eventually we track down a supply of Infusiones de Salvia, sage tea-bags. Have you ever drunk 'green'? Yuck!

Aug 24th: The sage infusions have not stopped the hot flushes, but they have given me 'green' diarrhea.

Aug 25th: My 67th Birthday. I'm now so exhausted through lack of sleep/diarrhea we decide to dine somewhere quiet and modest in the evening, after spending the day resting indoors, out of the heat. A lovely meal, a platter of grilled fish and shellfish. Excellent, complete with a cooling sea breeze. Then a slice of carrot cake with three candles and more singing waiters/waitresses. It’s the best I’ve felt in a long time.

Aug 26th: The UK Government announces that ex-pat pensioners living in Spain will no longer receive pension increases to keep pace with inflation as of 2021. This is what we paid our taxes for? I crack a front tooth on a peach stone. It cuts my tongue. Oh Joy!

Aug 29th: Visit dentist, tooth repaired, money exchanged. Cost $110. I'm still not sleeping at night. The month has cost us the best part of $1200 in emergency expenses.

I await the following month with trepidation, poorer, but cancer-free. Cost? Priceless!

So, how was your month?


M. Pierre said...

Very amusing ole boy. glad it ended well with a happy birthday

Tim said...

Merci beaucoup mon brave!

Davis said...

I must say while I'm often tempted by the thought (financially unrealistic though it may be) of a life as an expat - your month has given me pause. Glad the PSA is looking better, friend.

Tim said...

Thanks Davis, I’m glad too! :)) Ah, the ex-pat dream. Like most things in life, it’s mostly an illusion. Whatever your circumstances, you can’t stop the march of time, or fate. Wealth might make it more bearable I suppose, but life goes on regardless. Partner and I are happy here, it’s our ‘home’, but we’re wise enough to realise it’s not paradise. Beware of those who offer it would be our best advice. Tim

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