Friday, July 1, 2011

A busy day, a special gift and some welcome visitors

Chris and I have had a very busy day today. We finally tackled one of the main tasks on my 'Things to do in 2011' list, which was to completely sort out the garage. Most houses have a 'glory hole' where they throw everything that doesn't belong anywhere else, and for us this is the garage. We are so fortunate in that the previous residents constructed a floor to ceiling cupboard across the whole width of the garage. Spanish houses are not known for their provision of storage space, so this is a real bonus. It is of course, full to bursting and until now one set of doors have been covered with old boxes, huge containers of animal food etc, making the contents somewhat inaccessible. The garage is also the obvious place to store tools, rolled up carpets that only come out for a couple of months in the winter, the hoover, the iron and ironing board, stepladders, bikes and so on, not to mention five crates of Christmas decorations, so you get the picture? It started off very organised and tidy, but after two years it had become a total mess. However, the garage is also the home of two tall cupboards, resembling wardrobes which are actually two full size, fold-away, single beds, and this is where extra visitors sleep! As 'The Perry tribe' aka Jim, Jo and the children are coming for a ten day stay in August, we knew it was time to deal with the chaos.

I have a bit of Dad in me in that I am a hoarder. I loved his shed ceiling that was covered with screwed on jam-jar lids each holding a jar of sorted nails, screws, washers, watch parts, and anything else that he thought might come in useful one day. I have something similar. Whereas Chris would buy a new packet of screws when he needs some, I hoard up every lose one I find, and when we were getting ready to move I sorted them all into sizes and types, and I even bought a set of racks to hang on the wall to carry them, and one to hold the main tools. Needless to say these have never been used. The four (yes four!) tool boxes that I carefully cleaned and filled with tools were virtually empty, so I started today by touring all the rooms and garden collecting any I saw. Not having the same attitude as me, Chris finds it hard to understand how difficult it is for me to part with anything, but he did persuade me to bid farewell to a few items today, the hardest being the big trunk that Mum and Dad bought for me when I went away to college - forty plus years ago. It has been a clothes chest, a toy box, a place for garden equipment and to come here it was a container for all the awkward shaped items that didn't fit into a normal packing case. But for two years it has stood empty, it's clasp was broken and I couldn't really justify the space it was taking up. That out of the way, we rearranged some other bits and pieces and made a big enough area of clear wall to fix my hanging racks to. I re-sorted their contents, hung most of the useful tools on their rack, condensed the few larger ones into one tool box, and threw the rest away. With the lovely tiled floor cleaned, the carpet hoovered (that one tends to stay down all year) and all the clutter removed, it is once again a nice little bedroom for the grandchildren. There are two good windows in there, complete with flower boxes outside, and a floor-standing fan, and we have thought about converting it into a proper room, but really, we would still need somewhere to store all the utility items so it is best left as it is.

And as for the few things that we felt were surplus to requirements, well, they have a wonderful system here - leave it out, and someone will take it. No running off to the tip here, and filling the land-fill sites with perfectly usueable items. We actually didn't even bother to put ours out by the bin. We left them near our gate, and within an hour a Spanish lady came to the door and asked if she could take them. We were delighted and Chris even helped her to carry them up the road.

Now to my 'special gift'. I no longer go to my Spanish lessons. Paco had taught us all the grammar that we need to know, but he was not good at leading us on to being a conversation group, and that is really what we all need now; lots and lots of practice at speaking and listening. Personally I find that I know how to say most things that I want to, but I don't have anything like enough vocabulary and I still struggle to understand when they speak to me. So to give me a little extra help, Chris has bought me a bilingual Bible. I saw one being used and told him about it, and he found one on Amazon and sent for it for me. Isn't that nice of him! I liked the idea of it because it is a 'parallel' book with the verses in Spanish and English alligned on each page so you can follow in either language and compare the two. (Chris says it is like a Roman missal so that's why he liked it). It is also a modern translation which is what I need as it is modern Spanish that I want to learn more of. For this photo I chose the lovely words from John 3.v.16. Because in effect it is two books in one, the pages are very thin, but it is all bound in red leather, edged in gold, and has thumb references, so it is a beautiful book. Fortunately I don't need prompts to find my way around the Bible; I say fortunately because the booknames are often quite different in Spanish so I wouldn't recognise their shortened form on the thumbs.

And finally for my welcome visitors. Well so far, all I have to show you is these two dragonflies who came to visit us on Sunday. It was a beautiful sunny day, and they just sat on the stone surround of our pool for ages. They stayed, one on each side of the pool, so I don't think they were interested in each other, and of course, the water has too much chlorine in it for them to be interested in that. But they flew around and then came back and basked in the sun again, and they stayed around all afternoon. I thought they were so pretty. But actually tomorrow we have some proper visitors. Chris' sister Mary and her husband Bill are coming to see us. They only live about an hour and a half away, up in Velez Blanco, but this is the first time they have been to our house, so we are looking forward to welcoming them here.

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