We all deserve a treat once in a while.  You do, I do, we all do.  A few weeks ago, I was thinking what I wanted to do to treat myself.  My mind raced with ideas, some of them a bit over the top, even I will admit.  I have passed my driver’s permit torture, and that was surely deserving of a treat, but all I could come up with was a newer car.  You know, something a bit sportier, like a two-seater cabriolet something-or-other.  But that did seem a bit impractical at times, especially when I make my somewhat frequent trips to my supplier of large artsy-stuff.  Besides, Amelia has been a good car, and she is doing fine.  So a newer car, for the sake of having a treat, seemed naff even to me. 

I had just been to see an Aunt and Uncle in Florida, and on that trip, was able to spend time with one of my son’s and his wife, so going travelling didn’t seem to be special enough for a treat right now. Whilst on my trip to Florida, I did buy a new computer, and that was special because what I purchased was a Mac Air.  If you don’t know, this is the Macintosh laptop that weighs next to nothing and is thin enough to fit in an envelope…perfect for when I travel.  But even that seemed like a functional business expense item and not a real treat.

My house is already quite special.  I could, I supposed, get a new desk, but that would be about as boring as watching paint dry.  But then it hit me…one of the very special things about Sol y Mar is the views.  The house has three terraces, all overlooking the sea, and the sitting room has large windows that let me see the Mediterranean from almost any perspective.  The kitchen however, where I do spend some time, does not have a view of the sea.  So after talking to a contractor, my plan was set…and today it kicked into high gear.

My big plan was to knock a hole in the wall between the kitchen and the sitting room so that I would be able to see the Mediterranean whilst doing kitchen things.  My neighbours Rafa and Kim let me borrow some people that were doing work on this house and yesterday morning, Juan and his two workers arrived to began the project.  I knew that this would be interesting, as it was going to be an all-Spanish adventure.  I had piled up all the furniture in my sitting room, as I assumed that once the actual work commenced, the house would be filled with pulvo (dust), and had also applied masking tape to the sitting room side of the soon-to-be-porous wall where I wanted the new window would be.  Juan studied the situation for about 3 seconds and then told one of his helpers to go out to his furgoneta (a furgoneta is a small van-type vehicle used to transport materials or equipment) and bring back a big sheet of plastic to cover the furniture.  I was thinking of suggesting that instead of trying to cover everything, it might be easier to just build a tent-like thing around where the wall would be cut.  But as I was trying to figure out how to say ‘tent-like-thing,’ Juan told his other helper to give him a drill.  Oh my, this was like a scene from some medical programme on telly, with ‘the doctor’ issuing instructions in an operating theatre.  Before I could say anything, Juan had bored three holes in the wall – one in each of the two top corners of the masked off area, and one along the top edge.  Okay, so I assumed he was testing the thickness of the wall, or even the composition of the wall itself so he could determine the best way to cut the new window.  As I was pondering what was going on, Juan said something to one of this lads again and within a flash, there was a key-hole hand saw in his hand. 

Just in case you are tool-knowledge-deprived, a key-hole saw is a hand saw in which the blade is very long and narrow, and is used to do intricate detail work.  He jammed the pointy-end of the saw blade into one of the holes he had made and began moving it back and forth.  In nothing flat, he had made it half-way down the masked-off line on one side.  He then, as any good jefe (chief) would, told one of his lads to take over…and follow the line!  The entire cutting process took less than 15 minutes.  I was gobsmacked.  After making the final few centimetres of the cuts, the two lads carefully lifted out the wall section, with Juan issuing instructions as they went.  It was then that I began to realise why the project went so well. 

Whilst the walls of La Antigua were made of stone and were a meter thick, the walls of Sol y Mar were made of a sandstone-like material, which submitted rather easily to the nasty little saw teeth.  For the first time, I was able to actually see through the wall – something I had visualised for some time.  It was everything I had hoped it would be.  I would be able - whilst standing in the kitchen, attempting to make some incredible delicious version of proper food - to see not only into the sitting room, but I would now be able to see out through the windows of the sitting room that overlook the Mediterranean. After a few hours of plastering the edges of the opening, Juan and his crew packed up and were on their way.  I, feeling that I had only sat and watched whilst the real work was taking place, re-assembled my sitting room and kitchen. 

And now I am writing this letter to you, contemplating getting ready for a party with friends this afternoon whilst sitting in front of the fire, listening to Phil Spector's Christmas Album on this wonderful Christmas morning, and pondering what my next project will be.



dreaming of Christmas delights yesterday


the kitchen, before

the sitting room, before

the kitchen, after Juan did his magic

the sitting room, after my treat was completed



Christmas morning at Sol y Mar, 2008

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copyright 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, James B. Rieley