Sunday, November 17, 2002

Spent hours last night at the apartment. Irina�s Cristi were installing the radiators and piping. I couldn�t sit or lean against anything; all dusty. Helped dad hammer nails in the ceiling. Lots of ceiling fell on us. Minor power outage. Went into the room with all the belongings. Opened boxes. Found a book on how to overcome curses. Then I read half of Celine Dion�s biography. She sits over steaming pots of boiled water for two hours if she feels a sore throat developing. She doesn�t speak on the day of her concerts. She took time off for learning how to pluck her eyebrows and apply makeup. She has thirteen siblings.

When I got back to the hotel, even Gaby noticed I was unhappy. Mopey. Finally mom came back from her shopping trip to Bucuresti. I put on a blanket, Ethiopian nightwatchman-style, and she snapped at me that I look ridiculous. Got three sweaters, five pairs of thick socks, two pairs of pants, orange Tweety Bird pyjamas, and a Toblerone.

Adi, Rodica�s thriteen-year-old son, cycled to the hotel from town. We found a dog skull in the hotel garden. The spine was in their kennel, a foreleg bone behind the hotel. Are the hotel dogs cannibals?

Adi christened the brown-and-black dog �Cora.�

He helped Rodica clean the hotel rooms. We ate a slice of Quiche Lorraine together.

Rodica treated all to coffee, soft drinks and pastries because it was her birthday yesterday. Romania is one those misinformed countries where the birthday person treats out friends.

Cosmin and Anisoara arrived by taxi. Worried about their expenses, but they said it costed them, from the Ampoi neighbourhood, as much as the Maxi Taxi or the city bus.

Went to the Rimet convent, some twenty kilometres from Alba Iulia. Met the old lady who lives in the cottage with the tall thatched roof. She allowed me into her house, adding, �But there�s nothing to see.� The water mill side of her house collapsed, now filled with garbage. She can�t hear very well. I asked her how old was her house: since before World War One. How old was she? Can�t remember. Dad gave her 100,000 lei as a gift.

Our Rimet nun friend told us about the little fawn the convent adopted in 1994. Every year a nun in Maramures gets one or two fawns as a gift from huntsmen. She gives one each year to Rimet, and the nuns raise it until Easter, when they release it and receive a new one. But even our nun friend recognized the foolishness of this system.

I overpayed the entry fee for her museum. She invited me to visit again with tracing paper so I can make copies of the museum�s glass icons.

On the way home stopped at the farm of the man who makes tuica (plum brandy). Photographed his friendly pigs and suspicious goats. Stepped in something squishy and bright yellow.

Back at the hotel, a air traffic controller friend dropped by from Sibiu. She loves glass icons, Romanian music (even Manele � the dreadful Gypsy-Turkish tunes that are now popular), and life here. Drank some of our tuica, Domnul Nelu very drunk, took even my glass.

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