Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A sad Good-bye

After a lot of soul-searching and discussion, Chris and I came to the very difficult decision that it was time to say Good-bye to our beautiful Chico. He has had a short life, and a difficult one and we like to think we made it as happy for him as we could. Since his accident eighteen months ago, which resulted in the amputation of his front leg, he has not been the same dog. He made good progress on three legs, and ran around our flat, hard surface yard with relative ease, but he was starting to stumble more, and seemed to be finding running more hard work. We know the blow to his head also caused partial or complete blindness in one eye and he bumped into things, and people, which sometimes made him snap. Added to that was his size and strength. He had to carry a lot of weight for his size on three legs, but he was still massively stronger than the other two, and we had reached the point where not even Chris could hold him securely, and I certainly couldn't. He was a dog who needed to have long runs, but the terrain here is far too uneven for him, so we couldn't take him to the campo. This wasn't very fair on the other two, as they didn't get taken out very often either. We knew Chico barked non-stop when ever we went out without him. He was leader of the pack, and was becoming too dominant so that the two girls were becoming very wary of him, and because he could snap I didn't trust him when anyone came to the house. He always had to be shut away round the back. He was a lovely dog , and no trouble when it was just us two, and there were no distractions, but the situation was getting worse and we knew that we couldn't go on the way we were. He was also showing signs of some pain in his hips which would eventually get worse. So all in all we did not think that it was a real kindness to keep him. We took him to the vet and she agreed that it was the right thing to put him to sleep, so sadly today we said Good-bye to him. We will miss him so much. He was a part of our family. The girls are very quiet today, and are probably wondering when he is coming back, but they still have each other for company, and we now intend to start taking them out regularly again, so their life will be better.
I decided to do a blog post about this as many of my followers have been out here and met Chico, and have followed his trials and tribulations through these pages. I will link it to the boys e-mails too just to save me saying the same thing over and over.
Good-bye lovely boy. I am sorry we couldn't do more for you, but we did the best we could.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A good job or just a pain!!

From Chris's point a view - A good job - ; from mine - just a pain! Those of you who have visited us here will know that outside our kitchen door there is a narrow paved area, used mainly for hanging washing and feeding the animals, and it is divided from next door's orange grove by a big bougainvillea, which has gradually spread all along the fence. This is a vigorous grower, and local folk have told us that November it the time to prune it. Usually we just trim it when the long shoots get in the way, but this year we decided to be more brutal and cut it back hard. I hate cutting off all those lovely purple flowers, but it opens up the centre so all the brown, dead ones that have settled inside the branches can blow away, and it will be a mass of colour again in a couple of months. As this will need to be done at least annually, Chris decided to buy an electric hedge-trimmer to make it easier, so last Thursday being a beautiful sunny day, he made a start on it. He had taken the first layer off the front and top and then he went over the fence with the ladder (the house is empty and the gate is kept locked), to cut the far side. My job is usually to do most of the clearing away of all the debris. Luckily we have a big bin just outside our property, but bougainvillea has wicked long thorns so it is quite a task, and I have to chop it down into shorter lengths so I can get it into a plastic dustbin and lift it over a low side fence, and then out the front gate to the bin. While deciding how to tackle this, I picked up the 'loppers' and idly snipped at a few high branches that Chris had missed first time around, but unfortunately one was thicker than I had realised and I couldn't cut through it so the lopper jammed and sent a shock wave up my arm. Apart from 'ouch' in my head I didn't think anymore about it and together we cleared the branches ready to give it a second cut the next day, but by bed time I knew I was in for a stiff left arm. By Friday I was in agony with a pain I recognised from when I tore my right bicep a few years back, and my ham-string last year. By the evening I was shaking like a leaf, my teeth were chattering and the pain was severe, so I took my strong ibruprophen and went to bed. We even got out the duvet for the first time this year as I was so cold. On Saturday I toyed with the idea of going to an Urgencia (a kind of A&E unit that you find in most towns), but I know from last year that unless you have broken something they won't do anything, so instead we went to our local farmacia and bought the strongest dosage diclofenic tablets. (It's amazing what you can buy over the counter out here!), and they did the trick. The downside is they make me feel like a zombie, but it was worth that to feel more comfortable.(When I said that to a friend at choir practice today, he said, "Really. Do you actually mean you stopped talking?" Cheeky!). Chris strapped my arm up for me just to give it some support. It is heaps better now. I still have a tubigrip on it, but I've done away with the sling, and I don't need the tablets in the day now, though one at bedtime ensures I can lie in enough comfort to get a good night's sleep. In future I'll leave the lopping to Chris, and I'll stick to the clearing away! We've had a bit of rain since then so he hasn't got out there to do the final cut, but he will soon. Already it looks heaps better, and it makes a huge difference to the amount of light I get in the kitchen. It also means I won't get drowned feeding the dogs, everytime it has rained.

I would like to add a quick welcome to one or two new followers, who have stumbled across my ramblings via my, or mutual friend's, crafting blogs. It is great to have you aboard and I hope you enjoy reading about everyday life in sunny Spain.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Mission accomplished!

It was a mission too. I know I have blogged about my larder before, and some of you may think it is strange, but my home centres around my kitchen and the larder is part of it. It gives me great pleasure to see its shelves filled with labelled containers and lots more besides. Basically it is the usual narrow, walk in space for food storage, and mine has a double tower of dexion shelving along one side. It is a huge asset to have a larder and here it is essential as I have a very small kitchen with very, very, little cupboard space, so the larder not only houses our food, but also much of my bake-ware, utensils and larger pans. It was very nearly a disaster zone as I noticed recently that the shelving was starting to lean away from the wall at the top. This was rapidly getting worse, and I don't think it would have been long before the whole thing tipped over, and what a mess that would have made!

So my mission today was to take everything, and I do mean everything, out of there, so that my long-suffering husband could do some urgent repair work. The first job was to clear the kitchen as much as possible, and to create a little more surface we pulled out both the end extensions to the table. That meant that I couldn't close the door but it was warm enough to leave it open. My kitchen hasn't looked so tidy for ages. Note the teapot and mugs and are still out. I can't work without a cuppa and my mp3 playing on continuous shuffle through my speakers.

For many years I have kept a well-stocked larder. When I lived in Cyprus for a while, the RAF warned us to always have everything in store that we might need for at least three days, and preferably for a week, and when the troubles broke out in 1974 we were very glad that we had followed this directive. Later, I had a couple of years as a single mum with two small children, and living on benefits I wasn't always too sure where the next meal was coming from, so I took every opportunity I could to buy up special bargain offers and keep something in store, and the habit has stayed with me. But even so, it is hard to belive that all of this came out of my little larder today! There was this,

and this,

oh, and this as well!

My boys would be amazed, and proud of me, to hear that I didn't find anything out of date enough to throw it away! When it was all out Chris disconnected the two sets of shelves and moved one into the kitchen, while he assessed the situation, and that is when I decided to make lunch! It was a challenge, but not deterred I found the rest of a chicken I roasted yesterday, and I used the shelves in the kitchen as a table to make some coleslaw while my electric fryer (on the floor of the empty larder) was cooking chips.

y refreshed, Chris set about fixing the shelves which are now as firm as the Rock of Gibraltar, and I started to put everything back. So now I have a sparkling clean and tidy larder again, and I know where everything is. I rearranged some of the shelves so some of the heavier items are lower down, and put things I use most often into more accessible positions. Mission accomplished!!

On a lighter note, for those of you who haven't seen this already, here is a link to my son Ben's latest recording. It is not one he wrote himself this time. It is a shortened version of The Anthem from the show Chess. It is such a beautiful song with a range of big notes in it, and I think he sings it really well. I know I am biased, and am his number one fan, but it is worth a listen. Just click here if you would like to hear it.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

All Saints Day in Spain

Today it is All Saints Day, and here in Spain, it is a national holiday. It is a day for remembering loved ones who have died, and it is traditionally celebrated with a big clean up of the cemetery. There is a cemetery on the edge of each village, where the graves are stacked in rows above ground; not buried. Today families go to their family graves and clean them. Then they add lots of fresh flowers. Some people take big displays, previously ordered from flower shops, and others take posies from their garden. When we drove past our village cemetery on our way to our choir practice this morning, we could hardly squeeze our car through the rows of parked cars. There were three florists with stalls set up on the road side and they were doing a brisk trade. This afternoon there was just one left by the gate, but there were still plenty of families arriving to tend to their area. It looked beautiful with each grave overflowing with white lilies, red roses and lots more. My photo doesn't do it justice but it was all in shadow, and I felt it was not the right occasion to wave a camera around for too long. It is quite usual for families to take a picnic with them and stay all day. We popped back up there tonight because we had been told that it was all lit up with candles for tonight, and so it was. It was very beautiful. It seems to me it is a very good tradition that ensures family members are reverently remembered, and the cemetery is kept in a good condition.