weeknotes 42/21

“we’re home. we’re home. we’re home.” like a mantra, repeated to exhaustion.

– just before the pandemic started, we bought a newer car and left the old one in porto. the plan was to take more public transportation on the south-north-south trips, and then use the old car to move around in between our families in the north. this should help us make these trips more eco-friendly, save money and also allow us to have more relaxed trips without the stress of driving. but then the whole pandemic came around, and it took us 1.5 years to be comfortable riding public transportation on long trips again. we finally did it on this last one, and boy did we save money. :| we scored some €5 flixbus tickets to go from porto to faro, which, even adding the fare for the train to get us to conceição is still several times cheaper than driving a car up. the trip does take longer, but there’s electricity and internet, and i’ve also read more in these 2 rides than i’ve done in ages, so i’m pretty much sold.

– i finished reading blockchain chicken farm, about the surprising ways in which technology is changing rural china, which was interesting — i wish we had a bit more of that rural entrepreneurial spirit around here. started reading ready player one.

– we didn’t even consider these factors when we rented (and then bought) the house, but having access to trains and long-distance buses less than 5mins from the place where we live is amazing.

– other than that, it’s been a pretty crummy week. moving right along!


weeknotes 41/21

late, late weeknotes.

– the week has been rinse and repeat. we’re still up north and our days are spent accompanying the family, running errands, making lunches and dinners of soft food, trying to keep our cool, keep work going in the in-betweens… and trying to sleep at night, despite the relentless onslaught of mosquitos in the countryside.

– did you know that pharmacies can prepare weekly medication for people who need it? we didn’t know about it until recently, but it’s a godsend of a service, especially for the elderly or those who take lots of pills. everything comes in the right box for the whole week, and you just have to follow the order. magic!

– we’ve had a francesinha! it’s been 1.5 years since we’d had it, and i think not even when we lived in china did we go so long without one. our bellies are happy and sated now.

– we’ve played azul summer pavillion with my brother and his girlfriend, and it was fun. it’s different from the original game, but in a way that makes it interesting and less predictable.

going back home next week, hurray!

just life weeknotes

weeknotes 40/21

week 40 has been… tough.

– still recovering from the world postcard day’s backlog, and we’re already back north again to accompany p.’s parents to doctor appointments. some upcoming changes mean that the family has to adapt to new realities and ways of doing things… which are not easy at the best of times, but are especially hard when you’re in your 80s. sigh.

– the fig-leaf gourd jam was laborious but amazing. i’m not sure what is it about making jams that gives me this immense satisfaction. i could stockpile on these till my cupboards were full and i don’t even eat that much of it.

– said goodbye to my long-expired passport and made a new one. not really sure when we’ll be able to use it, but it feels good to be a little bit ready.

– for now though, i just want to go home. i want long stretches of weeks without plans to go anywhere, i want quiet routines and hours spent reviewing characters. i want time for what i read to sink in, time that i decide how to spend. soon, i hope.

just life weeknotes

weeknotes 39/21

it was a busy busy week — the busiest of the year. the world postcard day took place, and it feels impossible that something we worked towards for so many months can come and go so quickly. it was a joy to see postcards being celebrated though, and thousands of them being sent all around the world. but now i’m tired and could use 2 weeks to recover from all the excitement.

– we have a closed fireplace, at last! now that the house is ours, this was our #1 priority on the long list of improvements, and it’s finally done. i hope it helps us have a nicer winter, which before was only manageable by layering up as much as possible and turning up the AC. despite everyone’s denial, it gets cold in algarve — and especially so when you’re sitting around the whole day.

– i made spicy quince jelly (basically throwing some peppers in the jelly-making water) and it’s lovely! somehow, jams give me a lot of pleasure to make and gift. i got some gila (fig-leaf gourd) from my mom, and shall attempt to turn it into a jam next.

– today is the first meeting of the new “community garden committee”! we’re making a new food garden in a nearby abandoned terrain that the town hall made available for this purpose, and it’s really exciting to be able to take part in something like this. wish me luck!

just life weeknotes

weeknotes 38/21

– one of my uncles passed away earlier this week. dying isn’t easy for those who stay behind, so we went up north to be with the family — especially my mom, who spent a lot of time caring for him in the past few years. the family is ok, mourning, but hanging in there.

– this is the best photo i ever saw of him, taken a few years before i was even born, at my parent’s wedding. me and him weren’t close, but i remember him like this, laughing and playing around, getting along with everyone.

– incidentally, if we ever caught covid, it would be at a funeral. jesus christ, so much hugging and touching from everyone… nobody (me included) knows what to do to express grief and empathy without touch, without getting close and whispering comforting words.

– since we were already up north, we stayed for the grape harvest on friday. a few of my cousins and uncles came to help, and made quick work of the task of making the wine. my mom cooked a really nice bean stew, my grandma fried some codfish for a hearty snack, and everyone was happy and relieved that it barely rained the whole day.