The Pencil Sharpener

Two weeks ago, after a long hike, we checked into a Pensione in Deba, Spain and were given this room, which, as you can see, is the size and shape of a pencil sharpener. It was widest at the head of the very small double bed, then narrowed into a bathroom where sitting down was an option only for the double jointed. And, yes, the train tracks below the window on the left were very active. Oh, and there were  six Hungarian 20-somethings doing shots in the room across the hall. It was a long night. We spent most of it swearing, wrestling each other for the single pillow, and casting blame for our predicament….

But now, after a week knocking around an empty nest, I LONG for the Pencil Sharpener Suite. The passing high speed trains seem romantic, the hooting Hungarians festive, and that tortuous WC where I concussed myself reaching for toilet paper, well, I want to do it all again, and again…Time to start planning another trip.

Yellow: Well. We’re home.

Red: Let the empty nest weirdness begin.

Yellow: What? You mean, like, in depth conversations with the dog?

Red: I was thinking more of household tasks done in the nude.

Yellow: Thanks for that visual.

Somewhere on the Camino we agreed that, when we returned to our newly-chickless nest and were faced with a choice, all things being equal, we would to take the more expansive option.

Since we are renowned (among our small set) homebodies, this feels like a real step.

I’m not sure the chicks are going to be on board.

Last night, I was so happy to be on the phone with one of them that I ignored a persistent call waiting tone.

Later, I received this miffed email from another:

“Tried calling earlier. Where were you guys?”

It’s hard to change when they’re counting on you to stay the same.

Walking on the Camino, this reminded me of home…



Hiking in our mountains, this reminded me of the Camino…

Though clearly at opposite ends of the life cycle, these two yuccas are close relations.  The California incarnation bears two common names, Our Lord’s candle and Spanish bayonet.

Perfect, right?

It’s comforting to me that the one evokes the other. That you can love both the before, and the after.






The scallop shell is the symbol of the Camino.  It is on every sign along the way. I’ve read that there are historical or mythical connections (depending on your point of view) between the shell and Saint James. I also read that the shell symbolizes the different Camino routes converging in the same place.

To me, it’s also a symbol of the way you feel connected to all the other pilgrims – the ones you meet, the ones you pass and the ones who walked the path a thousand years ago.

Good God, regular life is complicated.

We need a new toaster. I got into my car and it told me it wants a tune up. Two months worth of bank statements arrived in the single month we were gone. And the bills…don’t get me started.

We’re both trying to hold onto the Camino, to remember the way.

And what we found there.

Here’s how pathetically little we have learned from our time on the Camino…

At JFK security, we took an unconscionable amount of pleasure at being the only people in the TSA Pre Check line and whizzing past all the suckers glaring at us from the First Class queue.

Of course, they later smirked at us from their First Class seats as we skulked our way to Coach.