One of my first blogs was about the woes and challenges of furnishing a small condo nearly ten years ago. Despite all the Home Depots and Costcos that have since invaded the perimeter of the city, the woes persist.
Even the smallest of condos need refurbishing as time and the salt air compromise the metal, wilt the fabrics, fade the sofa. The refrigerator develops a bloom of rust on the sides and the tile flooring chips and the cabinet doors sag.
I was on a mission today. I wanted a new bedspread, lightweight for the upcoming summer months, and also wanted to explore the possibility of installing two small panes of stained glass on a west-facing kitchen window that heat up the kitchen when the sun shines on it. I tracked down the location of a small one-man stained glass place and walked the eight blocks to it just before noon. He was gone. The guy making tacos in the cart next door said he would be back at noon. It was 11:55am. I waited a bit. He had posted a phone number on his door, but I didn’t have my phone with me. I finally gave up and walked back, stopping at Lucy’s CuCu Cabana a few blocks away, as I recalled they had a Guatemala bedspread I had been lusting for all year.
Gil and Lucy were gone, but Nancy was there to assist me. I asked about the end-of-season discount that I knew they offered this time of year. She showed me a couple bedspreads and I found one I wanted. I buy a lot of stuff there, as gifts and for my own home. My house looks like their store. These sorts of transactions are always cash, and I didn’t have enough with me. I had to go home, collect my pesos and also hail a taxi for an outgoing renter. So at 1:30 I retrace my steps and return to the stained glass place. He still is not there. The taco guy shrugs his shoulders, continues making tacos. I have my phone with me this time and call him. Taco man says he spoke English. Well, he really doesn’t. Glass guy hands the phone to his wife. I ask her when he will be there, and then my phone goes dead.
Taco guy takes pity on me and dials his neighbor on my phone, they have a conversation. It’s decided that he will return around 5PM. I have other plans at 5PM and ask when he will be there in the morning. “He’s always here at 10AM”. We’ll see. Well, at least I can pick up the bedspread on my way home. I arrive to Lucy’s and it seems Nancy has just closed the shop down for lunch, back in an hour. I walk home, absolutely nothing accomplished except achieving my 10,000 steps that day. It’s hot, I’ve been walking. I snap open the tab of a cold beer left behind by departing renters. I hear a whistle.
The guy who sharpens knives announces himself to the neighborhood by blowing on a whistle. He reliably walks our street a couple times a week. I grab my two $100 Henckle knives and a pair of worn scissors and a cold Coke (also left behind my departing renters) and holler over the railing at him. “Hey knife guy!” I scream in my impeccable Spanish. He stops, waves. His little boy is with him, as always. One day he’lI be the knife guy. I hand my knives to the man and the Coke to his son. He travels with a little stool outfitted with a wobbly sharpening wheel, and a second stone to fine-tune the edges. He likely does some damage to the edge of my knives, but leaves them sharper than before. I get this done a couple times a year.
I go back inside with my knives, and return to the beer, which is a little flatter but still cold. At least something got done today.