Sunday, August 6, 2017

Our first month and a half have now gone by in a flurry of activity. Once the first weeks passed there was definitely a feeling that the honeymoon had ended and all that remained was a mountain of work. Each day or so that went by there was a new crisis, broken pipes, corroded water valves, no hot water, no water in the cistern, then we started to notice fine sawdust on the floors, on top of tables and realized we had critters eating the wood. After a thorough inspection, it was confirmed that we had two types of carcoma, or wood worms that were attacking our oak beams. It has taken a team of four guys almost a week to treat all of the smaller beams with three coats of a penetrating gel, and to drill and install valves into the large beams which then have the treatment pumped into the wood under high pressure. These guys have been true heroes working in 95 degree weather with long clothing and respirators.
Little by little things are progressing. We have now finished repairing and painting the large apartment's main room, demolished and rebuilt the small apartment's kitchen, and re-tiled the bedroom, and busted out the tile and cement on the main floor and installed new water valves. 
We've had many visitors including my brother and his friend, a former baker from the cafe, friends from the cafe and a friend from Estonia. It's great to have people to cook for and help out.
After a colossal rainstorm the nettles around the house bolted and we had white beans and nettles with the local sausages. Our garden has been pumping out the lettuce, tomatoes and greens as fast as we can eat them. A few nights ago some deer got in and ate our chard down to the ground but within three days it was back to it's original size. I think the combination of the heat and the volcanic soil make things grow much faster than I'm used to. 
Living in Spain there is always some kind of festival or event. A few weeks ago we were invited to the San Ferriol festival at the sanctuary on top of the mountain behind us.
It was called something like Sardinas i Vi, or sardines and wine. When we arrived, we were escorted inside to a giant hall with rows and rows of long tables filled with people eating grilled sardines and drinking bodega wine from plastic water bottles. Then came salad, grilled botifarra sausages, Cava and cake, then roasted almonds and Moscatell wine. At sunset, a large band set up outside and the dancing began. It was a great time and a chance to meet our neighbors. Everyone was very gracious and accommodating. 
During the heat of the day we have been walking down to the river to cool off. One of our neighbors has shown us a place where the river is dammed off into pools for swimming and small children. We have met many people from the village there.
Our Saturday's have been taken over by the flea market in Celra and the salvage yards in the neighboring village of La Bisbal. I've been geeking out at all of the beautiful antique tile that we can use for renovation. We have found a great stonemason and tile setter through one of our neighbors and he and his assistant have really helped to keep the projects moving forward.
This week the veterinarian will come to work on our donkeys, trim their hooves and possibly file down a spur on ones tooth.
Poco a poco as the locals say here. 


  1. One of your customers in Ballard, I have done this kind of work myself and admire and respect you and your family for the challenge you have taken on. I have the feeling you will be successful and your efforts will be rewarded. Hope we can visit you in BesalĂș.
    Allen and Janice Jaworski

  2. WHAT a lot of work, but so rewarding. How happy I am that you three are following your bliss.
    ~Eileen from Ballard

  3. I always look forward to seeing what you guys are working on and how your family is doing. It looks like you have had some challenges but glad to see things are turning out well. Scott just got back from Spain after spending 15 days traveling around the country shooting the US kids' soccer team. He loved Spain so we all hope to be able to come visit you guys next year.
    Isabel, Scott, Solomon and Sofia

  4. Sounds like a labor of love, the house looks beautiful. We are customers (and fans) from Ballard and hope to visit next year.

  5. Very exciting to read about your journey, and know that it will all be worth the challenges in the end. Hopefully I will be able to stay there one day. Have a magical pilgrimage!

  6. How wonderful! You are living "Under the Tuscan Sun"! I have loved your bakery for years, and worked for Seattle magazine when I got to write about you as our Best Bakery - still the best! Anyway, how thrilling to see you pursue this dream, and write about it - inspiring people to follow their own goals! Thanks James and family! (who knows, maybe i'll come and work for you sometime! :))

  7. Hello James and Kaire,

    Nicki the massage therapist here. Thank you for sharing pictures and thoughts from your grand adventure. While you are certainly missed in Ballard, it is lovely to see all of your hard work beginning to pay off...yet again! All the best.

  8. James, congratulations!

  9. Hi - tried to send you an e-mail, but it msy not have reached you. We wonder if you can offer accomodaton 1 night from 21 to 22 sept. Answe to Many thanks.

  10. James and his wife are very nice person and their daughter soo lovley i really love her she is a little bundle of joy and they lovely people have a very beautiful villa in a very calmfull place you can go there and suerly enjoy the nature and also great hospitality with beautiful afzal de barcelona

  11. I am madly thinking about a move to Spain...a friend sent me your website and grand do I stay in the loop and be able to contact you for future "stay at your new "casa" while I get my feet firmly planted in address?

  12. While I sit here watching the cold Seattle rain, I reflect back to our recent trip to Spain. I realize one of our big highlights was spending some time with James,Kaire and Frieda at their new home in Besalu. James and Kaire are such gracious hosts. We were fortunate to be there for the initial firing of the wood oven after James had done some extensive rework to it. From that oven we were treated to a most fantastic dinner truly originating from the land that surrounds them. Roasted wild boar, white beans with nettles and green beans which Frieda had picked fresh from the garden that morning. And of course, wonderful fresh baked bread.
    And there was the time we spent just enjoying the relaxed atmosphere of the grounds and soaking up the ambiance of this amazing 16th century structure!
    James & Kaire are both truly an inspiration and put the term "follow your dreams" into a reality.
    We look forward to visiting again in the future.
    Michael and Eva, Ballard, Washington USA