Friday, September 23, 2016

Rocking Your World 2016: Week 39

Well another week has literally flown past. I don't think I have done anything significant this week, but that in itself is rare, and something to be thankful for. And of course there have still been little moments of joy that deserve to be told. My smile this week is a photo taken on one of our early morning walks, but it isn't a sun-rise. No it is the moon!

It was a full moon last Friday night so I think we took this on Saturday morning. It was so round and perfect, and still quite bright, and high in the sky above the jacaranda trees.

And while speaking of jacarandas, I mentioned a week ago how surprised I was to see flowers on these trees at this time of year. Then they were all on the tops of the trees, but now they are out on the lower branches too and they are even more beautiful when they have a backdrop of the pretty fern-like leaves on these trees. So here is a close up of a bunch that was hanging down at my level. My camera has not actually caught it with a very true colour as they are a more blue-mauve than this, but so pretty.

And so to my week. Monday and Tuesday were spent doing some gardening. The front of the house was in urgent need of attention so we spent some time pruning shrubs and dead-heading the flowers. Then I potted up some chrysanthemums and pansies to hopefully give us some colour until the poinsettias arrive for Christmas! I have optimistically added a few daffodil bulbs to some of the pots too, but I am not holding out for much success with them.

People often stop and admire our garden, and comment on the flowers. I guess out here, flowers are almost a luxury item. The Spanish people either use their land for fruit and vegetables, or they have potted palms etc. We have the palms, and everything has to be in pots, but I like to have flowers growing around the base of the larger shrubs. It seems to be a good year for flowering trees because our bird of paradise tree has had a second blooming too. A few weeks ago it was covered with big brown stems of bean pods, but then I notices one new flower bud. Now it is covered in flowers again.

They are so unusual, and to think I bought this as a tiny plant in a pot just two years ago.
In this close-up you can see some of the bean-pods. When I was sweeping up after my gardening session I found the seeds all over the floor. I also rescued a baby tree that had seeded itself. I have put it in a pot, but if it takes off I will have to find someone else who wants it. I have no-where I can plant it to let it grow like the first one has.
My last job in the garden was to loosen the soil around the top of the pots and add a few fertiliser pellets.  The soil does get exhausted in the pots, and this year the older hibiscus have hardly flowered at all, though the new ones have done well. But within a few days of me feeding them, I had flowers again!

When we cut the bougainvillea down round at the back, we freed up our baby lemon tree, and I was surprised to find how many lemons are on it this year.
We also have one orange tree that we bought on our thirtieth wedding anniversary, and that has the most fruit I have ever seen on it. But it is a late variety so they still have to hold on through some wind and bad weather, but I am quite hopeful we will have a good yield from it. Last year the citrus fruits were not good, and I struggled to find any bitter oranges to make marmalade, so I am hoping they will be more plentiful this year too.

Sunsets have been at an all time low this month. The days have started cloudy but by tea-time the sky has been clear so there is nothing to reflect the rays and give some colour. But one evening when I was feeding the dogs I saw this and thought it was quite interesting.
We actually had a small amount of rain later that night. And one evening I managed to take this. If my camera had been anywhere other than on the table in the kitchen, I would have been too late to take it. It certainly didn't last for long.

Last week I scared Annie with a picture of a spider. This week my bug is less scary. We came home from the shops one day and Chris spotted it on the edge of the garage roof. It is of course, a praying mantis. I rather like these, and they are certainly welcome in the garden as they eat a lot of smaller bugs.
When I was gardening I found her again on one of the hibiscus plants, on a branch I had just pruned off. So I transferred her onto another plant. I didn't want her to feel unwelcome!

Not everything this week has been good. I had news of two deaths, a friend and then a family member, so I have had to dig a bit deeper for my "things to be grateful for", but of course, there are always some there if you really look.
Firstly I was so very grateful to a group of Spanish girls from my Intercambio group, who helped me with the translation for a flower festival information sheet. I mentioned last week that this was mostly done, but one girl was a bit uncertain as to the meaning of a part, so this week we met up and went through it together. Now I just have to finish typing up the translation and sending it to the friend who asked for it. I did have a go myself, but now that I have seen the authentic translation I think my Spanish still has a long way to go. I got some bits right, but I need to learn, and more importantly retain, more vocabulary.

I was grateful to my son who gave me an online lesson via Skype, on how to add all the accents that are so important in Spanish as they can completely alter the meaning of a word. Until recently I have used an English keyboard on my PC and on my wall I have a list of number codes that add accents as needed, but now I have a Spanish keyboard, and it is actually so much easier, ONCE YOU KNOW ABOUT IT! So typing up my document will be a lot quicker now.

Of course it was exciting when my new printer arrived, especially as it came a day earlier than expected. We soon had it set up, and I am pleased with the things I have printed so far. printing the news letter for church should be a lot quicker and easier this week.

I was grateful to Chris who suggested lunch out today, and we had the best fish and chips we have had since we came here. We had been told of this venue before, but we went on a Thursday and found they didn't cook meals at lunch time, which is when we prefer to eat our main meal. But recently someone told us that they just do fish and chips as a special meal on Fridays. There was a good crowd there, and it was worth it. I can see us going there again. I am not a huge fan of fish but I know it is good for us so I try to serve it once a week. But Chris really enjoys white fish and if someone else is cooking it, that is fine by me!

I have managed to do some more of my blanket as the weather has been a little cooler, and I can see me sitting outside to do some in the afternoons now, like I did in the Spring. I love this time of year, when it is comfortably warm outside, but not too hot. But Chris fished the thermometer out of the pool and the water temperature has dropped to 22ยบ, so I don't think I'll be doing much more swimming this year. That is the borderline temperature for me to start using it in the Spring, so I guess it is also the line to stop using it now.

I have had two little parcels this week with some small items of craft materials in, so I am looking froward to using those. One was some new sparkly ink brush pens, and they are lovely bright colours and dry with a real sparkle. They will work well on some of my greetings cards.

So now I will end with another couple of skies. You have seen the sunsets so here are two more sunrises. We do seem to be getting more colour in the sky in the mornings than in the evenings at the minute. You know what they say about red sky in the morning.... Our forecast is promising some rain and high winds for next week, though it is staying nice and warm, so we shall have to wait and see.
This is the view we see as we step out of our door in the morning. Such pretty colours all around.

But this morning the sky was a dull silver with no colour, and I had actually put my phone in my bag in case there was a nice sunrise! But as we got to the front of the village and were walking up the slip road, I glanced behind me and from no-where this had appeared. So I got my photo after all. I like the silhouette of the tall pine tree against it. (Shame about the lamp posts!).
So now it's off to link with Annie's Friday Smiles and Rocking Your World at Celtic House, and I'll hopefully meet up with you all again next week.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Rocking Your World 2016: Week 38

Hi everyone. My smile today is the dress that I wore to my sewing group on Wednesday. I am sure some of you are wondering why a dress should make me smile, but I love sunflowers, and when I saw this dress, it was love at first sight. The surprising thing is that I bought it around thirty years ago! It was from a stall in Wembley market, when it was in the old stadium every week. I had a baby in a pushchair and a little boy in tow, which is how I know it was thirty years ago! We had little money to spare in those days, but Chris let me buy it and I got teased mercilessly when I wore it. As you can see, it is just a little straight shift - probably even more shapeless now than when it was new, and I guess it was brighter and bolder than most young mums were wearing at the time. I always remember one day when I had already had it for a good few years, and my second son was running a little bar; he was in the habit of wearing rather garish tropical print shirts and had obviously been taking some stick for the one he had on that day, when we walked into the bar to see him. I was wearing my sunflower dress, and as we went in, everyone burst out laughing. Then someone said, "We know where you get it from now Mike!". I reckon that dress could tell some stories. It went on several holidays to Spain when our three younger boys were small, and I have worn it every summer since. It has needed a few repairs, and the material is now very thin, but I still love it. And now when I wear it everyone else loves it too. They come up and say, "Oh Kate, I love that dress. Where is it from? Did you buy it out here?". I just smile and say "It was from a little market stall in Wembley some thirty years ago". I will be really sad when it finally falls apart, but I reckon it has got a few summers left in it yet. And I will always smile each time I lift it out of the wardrobe.

Well I am still wearing summer dresses, but there is a definite feel of Autumn in the air this week. It is a few degrees cooler all day, and a lot cooler at night, which in itself is something to be grateful for! However, Monday was very unpleasant because we had the Levante wind, and it was very strong. So strong in fact, that I didn't go outside for fear of being blown off my feet. It was quite frightening with the noise of doors and windows banging, shutters rattling and debris flying everywhere. It was a hot wind, and very dusty, so the next day every surface was covered in a film of reddish dust, and the ground was covered in leaves and other garden rubbish. Here is just one corner of our pool that had been clean and sparkling just the day before.
On Tuesday there was a layer of sodden leaves all over the bottom of it, and another layer floating on top.
Everywhere we looked there were leaves forming drifts in all the corners, and you just knew that if you swept them up, some more would take their place.
But mostly it is cleared up now, though the front yard still needs some attention. We have been concentrating on the strip at the side of the house where Chris was pruning the bougainvillea. Each day he did a little bit more, and then we decided to cut it right back to get rid of the old wood in the centre of it. It was hard work for him, but we got there in the end. In the photo you can see a couple of pieces of the main stem that were embedded on the fence, so we cut around them, but after the rest was finished we worked on them until we got them free. It looks a bit sad now but my kitchen is so much brighter, and we know it will all  grow again next year. It has opened up our view of the house next door, but as the owner is only there for a couple of weeks each year, this really doesn't matter.
We now have a huge pile of branches to chip but it will take a while as neither of us can do that sort of work for too long at a time. Also bougainvillea grows with lots of small branches growing  out  from each larger one, and these all have to be cut off before they can be fed into the shredder. But we had a good session on it on Tuesday, and if we do a little bit more each week, we will get rid of all of it in the end.

I gave poor Annie a fright when I posted this photo on Facebook this week, but I did warn her that it would be showing up here as well, so she was forewarned for today. This rather splendid fellow turned up on Sunday, in the middle of a big web hung between the branches of the bougainvillea, so Chris was lucky I spotted it before he lopped off the last branches. I looked it up on the internet and it is a banded agiope spider, and I learned that although its bite is nasty - similar to a strong bee sting - it is not lethal, so that was good to know. I am no lover of spiders, and I really don't like them on me, but I can still marvel at the design of the creator who made him. His stripes were amazing and even continued to the end of each of his long legs. He was still there when we finished the pruning on Tuesday so I gently cut his web and lowered him to the ground so he could move away and find somewhere else to make his home. His web was stronger than any I have felt before, and he was a big fellow - around 2½ to 3 inches from 'tip to toe'.(I actually read that the male is much smaller than the female so probably this was a Mrs not a Mr.)

On Wednesday our car was due its itv (M.O.T. for our friends in UK), and normally we have it fully serviced the week before this. Unfortunately our mechanic friend who always does this, went off for two weeks holiday so he was unable to do it until Tuesday, the day before its test. He lives, and has his workshop, on the campo beyond the urbanisation of Huerta Nueva, across the road from our village. It is quite a walk back for Chris when he takes the car over there, so I suggested we drove over early with the dogs and walked them back, rather than going out with them first. They got very excited as we loaded them into the car, and by 8.00 we were making our way back home with them. It was so peaceful around Andy's house and the rising sun made a misty haze over the olive trees. There wasn't another soul around.
Usually we take the car for its test ourselves. It is a drive through system here and we have done it several times now so we know what to expect, but the best test centre is over at Lorca, a good 45 minutes drive from here, and it was going to be difficult fitting it in between my sewing group in the morning and choir practice in the evening, so we were very grateful to Andy who got the service done in good time and took it over for the test for us before we got it back on Tuesday night. We were also grateful that it passed well and didn't need any expensive work done on it.

I thought our intercambio group might start back this week, but everyone was busy so we are going to try again next week. I was a bit disappointed as I had a document that I had promised a friend I would try to get translated from English to Spanish for her, and I was hoping some of the Spanish girls who come to the group might help me. So I sent out a message and straight away three people offered to help, so now most of it is done. I am grateful to have friends so willing to help.

The morning have been lovely this week. With a few clouds always being present, the sun has risen gently and lit up the sky beautifully. I'll save the best for the end of this post, but here is one I took yesterday as we were walking up the slip road at the front of our village. There were some white puffy clouds ahead that turned a lovely golden yellow. Here they are up through the jacaranda trees that line the slip road. It must be something to do with the weather this year, because as you can see, there are some lovely lilac blossoms on the top of the tree. Normally these bloom in the Spring before there are any leaves on the trees, so it is really strange to see both leaves and flowers together.
The reason the clouds turned yellow can be seen if I turn right round and look down the road. The sun had just broken through. Isn't it lovely?!

The courier came yesterday afternoon and handed me a parcel which turned out to contain the set of black and coloured toner cartridges for my new laser printer. I have to wait until next Tuesday for the printer to get here, but at least when it does arrive I will have the toner ready and be able to try it out straight away.

Today it was the post lady who called and she gave me another lovely squishy parcel which I knew would be more wool! It is always wrapped in this way.
Inside was the usual lovely white organza bag containing lots of pretty colours of wool. This time I did buy one of each of the two-coloured yarns that they do. I still don't like them as much as the plain colours but I saw something on the internet that was made using one and it was really nice, so I thought I might as well have one of each in my stash. More importantly I now have three more balls of the parchment yarn that I need to do the borders on all my blanket squares.
While I was waiting for this to arrive I made another small square - I liked the way this one turned out, and I also did the second of the much larger squares. Now these can both have their borders done. Then I am almost half way though the blanket. I need to make one more of each motif and start fitting them together.

I have also done some more mystical lantern motifs for my shawl. I am half-way through this as well. It is a good project to have handy when I am watching TV or talking to someone, as they are easy motifs to make and don't require too much concentration. I started joining the chains of lanterns together this week, so I can see what I need next. I quite like the way the random colours are working out.

And finally here are the photos of the truly splendid sunrise we had on Monday morning. I woke up to a rosy glow in the bedroom and leaping up, I threw on a cotton kaftan (don't want to scare the neighbours!) and grabbed my camera as I rushed out the front door. I know how quickly these skies can change and I didn't want to miss it. The whole sky was a fiery orange.
We quickly got ready to take the dogs out for their walk and by the time we had got round to the flat area beyond the green zone at the back of our house, it looked like this.
The cloud was breaking up, and the sun was breaking through. We continued down to the front of the village and up along the slip road. By now the sun was winning over the clouds, and the sky was getting lighter.
Then we turned up and walked along the side of the village up to the top, and back home down through the main street. The next time we had a clear view of the sky, the sun was out. So this was my final shot.
I took all of these photos on my phone as I cannot manage to carry my big camera and handle the dogs at the same time, and I thought they came out really well.
The reason I am so late posting tonight is because I have just chatted to my sister for over an hour on Skype. That is something else I am grateful for. Skype has helped me keep in touch since we moved over here, and it is great to be able see people when I am talking to them. It is almost like being in a room with them.
So now I had better get this linked up to Annie's Friday Smiles and Rocking Your World, and tomorrow I will do some visiting and see what everyone else is smiling about his week.