We bought a cheap espresso machine in Spain and we have set it up. (brand name: Fagor.) We are a little disappointed with the coffee it makes, which is not horrible, just not great espresso, more like coffee. We think we may be able to solve this with a deeper filter and some better coffee.

We are enjoying many of the food items we bought in Spain and Gibraltar.

I have figured out how to use the washing machine, which won‘t spin unless you manually go and turn it to spin cycle. Because it took me quite a while to figure out the washing machine (which is also a Fagor. Coincidence?), I hung out the clothes to dry quite late yesterday afternoon and then forgot about them. I remembered them, however, when I woke up about 4 a.m. to the merry sounds of heavy rain. Ilsa had to wear dirty socks today.

We are settling in as well as we can, unpacking our junk and arranging it around the junk of other people. The place we are in has 3 bedrooms and one living room, so it’s technically big enough but not really, since Donn works from home. (He’s a photographer. Several people have asked me lately what he does) Right now, he’s using the desk in Ilsa’s room, which she loves of course.

The place is rented by an American doctor who lives here about 4 months of out the year. He sub-lets his place while he’s gone, and seriously, almost every expatriate I have met lived here when they first arrived. It’s kind of a rite of passage apparently. Our English friends, our Korean friends, our American friends–they all lived here for a month or two while house-hunting. It’s a nice place. The afternoon light is pleasant, and out back is a charming garden with a little terrace. Best of all, in my opinion at least, is that it is very close to the kids’ school–on the same road, only about 2 blocks away. (Ironically, apparently we are the only ones who have lived here while our kids were in that school)

The doctor is considering relocating. If he does, we will try to rent it ourselves. (If not, we can be here till Feb and we keep looking) We need to feel settled; we need to own more household items than two towels and an ambiguous espresso machine. It’s very odd to be an adult human and not have keys. When I got my set to this place, I went ahead and put them on my own key ring, just to feel a bit more ownership.

Because so many people have stayed here, the place has a transient feel to it. Someone’s suitcase–not ours, not the previous occupants‘, not the owner’s–is sitting in the living room. Apparently its owners will be here in February to claim it. The ledge behind the bathtub is filled with half-empty shampoos and soaps. (No conditioner. Do transient people not normally condition their hair? I have thick curly hair and have passed this on to at least two of my offspring; we go through a lot of conditioner round here, especially during the period that Abel was using it as soap. He said it made him feel nice. I said it made me feel broke and to please stop) The fridge has at least three open jars of mayonnaise. Also there is Starbucks in the freezer and molasses in the cupboard, which I don’t think I’m supposed to use. But won’t they go bad? It’s Starbucks French roast. Think what a waste if it gets freezer burn. And imagine the joy of my children eating gingerbread cookies. Hmmm…

This week is Thanksgiving. I know this from reading blogs. (See? Not a waste of time after all!) The kids have school till 5 that day. The oven is tiny and funky and tends to run very very hot, but I’m thinking of inviting the Korean family and the English family over and serving the whole spread; turkey, mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie made from scratch, and all. I haven’t decided yet. It would be a lot of work, and I couldn’t really ask them to bring anything. On the other hand, what’s Thanksgiving without lots of extra people? I know you can get turkey breast here…I think I might be able to pull this off, and at least my guests would not be comparing my sweet potatoes or Brussels sprouts to the ones their mothers used to make. The real question is: do I have the energy?

Advent starts Sunday. We have no Christmas lights or music or ornaments. Ours are in boxes in a garage 1000 miles away from here. Some of the stores have decorated their windows with sparkly, nondescript ornaments, and I saw tinsel for sale at Marjane yesterday. This place could be fun to decorate, in spite of the borrowed furniture and the lack of things to call our own. I know just the spot for the tree.

*today’s post title courtesy of My Junk Mail Folder, which I’ve been cleaning out.

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