The camera, yes. For specific details or overall impressions; or the better to capture the specific moment when a thought popped up, or someone said something that made my brain perk up – with annoyance or delight, doesn’t matter.
The companion of choice, though: a Canson sketch book bought in Gaillac for the trip. Fourteen and a half cm wide by twenty cm high, stitched; a copy of the one I’m using in Graulhet for the pottery project.
I managed to open my draft on a decent computer screen yestersday. Set it aside in less than ten minutes. Didn’t come all this way to pick up where I left off, for one. For another, I’m too busy filling the sketch book with whatever shows up – anecdotes, words, expressions, stubs from a museum visit, wrapping from a local pastry – these, queijadas finas produced by the venerable house of Constancia Gomes Piriquita who won the “Diploma d’Honra” at Sintra’s Exposiçao Regional in 1926. Says so right on the elegant wrapping – black Art Nouveau type lettering on white paper.
Last night, the house piriquito took a liking to me and to the contents of my plate. The piriquito ( a budgie bird, under different climes) goes by the name of PomPom – which is neither here nor there as far as his language skills go. Nonetheless.
The daughter of the house came back from an exploratory visit to Lisboa and brought back tin toys for everyone. A happy coincidence: I spent the afternoon at the Museo do Brinquedo (Toy Museum). Where I registered the stereophonic effect of the grandson and the grandmother, both expounding on (and demonstrating) their opposing world views. Did photographic back-ups on some of the local artefacts. The dining room table, for instance. Hand-made by a local cabinet maker. Not used for much else than show due to an unfortunate miscalculation on the part of the craftsman. He used his own body measurements to check knee clearance under the table. The man’s body has short legs – from the thighs to the knees. (Reminded me of the scene in Contes d’Exil where the son of the house insists on building a dining hall cum ballroom; refuses to listen to any expert advice. Once finished, the room is splendid, save for an annoying detail: the chairs. In order to accommodate bodies, they must be pulled away from the table, yes? Yes. How do the foot servants perform their duties, stuck against the walls, and passing the dishes above the heads of the guests?
With utmost care and deliberation, that’s how.
My working knowledge of Portuguese now consists of obrigado/obrigada (thank you – closer to “much obliged”), ay que jiro/jira (how funny), queijadas (cinnamon flavored cheese tarts), piriquito/piriquita (budgie)*, and brinquedo (toy).
* The house budgie expounds in French.