Well my world has rocked a bit this week and not always in a good way. Three good friends have all had sudden health issues within a few days, and one of them is very serious. This post is supposed to be about the positive things in our lives, so the positive for my three friends is that they are all a part of my church 'family', so they all know they are surrounded by our love and prayers, and they have a good God who is right there beside them.
So let's get the other 'nasty' out of the way. (Skip the next two paragraphs if you are arachnophobic!). I have for most of my life, had a great dislike, and a fear of spiders. When I was little and we moved to a new house with a long, overgrown garden, I had a pact with my mum that I would move all the grass snakes that came near the house, if she would move all the big black spiders. As a mum myself, I fought my fear until I was able to remove a spider that came indoors and put it safely back in the garden (with the warning that if it came back it would die!). Mum always used to say "If you want you live and thrive, let the spiders run alive". Anyway I was determined not to let my boys inherit my fear, so usually I can now cope with any eight-legged creatures that cross my path (as long as they stay below head-level!)
However, as we walked the dogs the other morning, Miki ran to sniff at something that moved on the ground, and then quickly backed off, and ran on ahead with Chris. I had Kim on a lead and as we got to where they had been I saw an enormous black spider on the ground. It obviously objected to being sniffed at by Miki as it had raised its fangs and was ready to bite the next thing that crossed its path. I didn't even stop to get my phone out for a photo, but yanked Kim along and we sped away. When I got home I took this photo from the internet. I am in no doubt at all that this is what I saw and it is a black funnel-web spider, a member of the tarantula family that is native to Andalucia, though normally found further south in the Malaga region. Apparently, and I quote, "although its bite is not fatal like that of its Australian cousin, it causes a lot of swelling that is very painful".I give that patch of road a wide berth now.
The next night I was relating this story to my sister Jean as we chatted on Skype, (Isn't skype wonderful?!)
The day before this my washing machine had stopped and the man who looked at it declared the fault to be terminal, so I was left with a tub of very wet washing. I hung it out still dripping but one towel was so heavy that it broke my line. So I then had one very grubby towel again, and when it was dry I tossed it on the utility floor to be washed again. My dear husband could see that the machine was one bit of equipment I can't do without and he immediately replaced it for me. It slots into a very small corner of the utility next to the dishwasher, and we had to remove a cupboard that stands in front of it, in order to get the old one out and the new one in!
That night I went to load it up and wanted to put the towel in with everything else, but as I bent to pick it up, this is what I saw! Another huge spider. I felt they were ganging up on me this week! I called Chris who helped me collect this one in a big plastic pot and throw it as far as possible into the green zone at the back of the house. It was night time, and pitch black out there, but I haven't seen it since so I guess he threw it far enough! This one, I am almost sure, is a wolf spider, which also packs a powerful bite, but I could cope with him. The black one left me feeling really shakey. And the positive side of these little tales, well neither of us got bitten by either spider, so that is something to be thankful for isn't it?!
Now onto some happier stories. Our little village is only a stone's throw from the Autovia Mediterraneo, the motorway that runs all along the southern coast of Spain. If I take the first turning off the motorway from home, I come to the town of Vera. It only takes ten minutes to drive there so you can tell it is quite close. The iconic symbol of this town is the statue on a hill just above the village. I love to see it so this morning, when I drove over to the Iceland Store (the only place around here where I can buy reliable fresh milk, and I simply cannot come to terms with using the 'boxed' milk in my tea), I decided to drive to the hill for a closer look
I have always fancied climbing up to the statue, but although there are sections of footpath with a visible hand-rail, it didn't look as though access is now available, and I have to say, I have never seen anyone up there. The hill is called Espirito Santo and the town started as a settlement on its slopes and surrounding areas as far back as Roman times. But in 1518 it was completely destroyed by the worst earthquake this area has known. The story says that three archers were each told to fire one arrow, and where the furthest one landed is where they rebuilt the town.
It is now a big, sprawling town, with a separate 'tourist community' at Vera Playa, a few kilometers south. So the town is now overlooked by this white statue of 'Jesus of the Sacred Heart'. It is actually 12 meters high, though it doesn't look it from below. In 2011 it was decapitated by a lightening strike, but I'm happy to say it was repaired. Although I couldn't get anywhere near it, I was able to use the zoom lens on my camera to get this photo.
As I walked towards the hill I was so pleased to see these lovely prickly pears on a chumba plant growing on a bank. This year a tiny white fly (moth?) has almost wiped out the chumba in this area, so it was good to see such a healthy plant full of fruit.
We have had a week of mixed cloud and sunshine, with a few fierce thunder storms. It has come a little early this year, but we are glad to have a slightly lower temperature some of the time. So I have been able to face my knitting again and have finished off two blankets that I have been making for my 'Knit for Africa' project. The first one is knitted all in one piece so it makes me too warm to have it on my lap, but I knew I only had a few more squares to do, so I was determined to finish it. I am still considering making a border for it. I think it will be better with one.
I made it in all the colours of the rainbow, but as it would not have been quite wide enough if I had just done that, I added a pale lilac stripe down the centre before working back through the colours to red again on the other side. Hopefully a young mum in Africa will be delighted to have such a colourful blanket to wrap her little one in.The second blanket is actually crocheted. It is
Bavarian crochet which was a new technique for me, and I wanted to try it. I think it is very pretty but it took a lot of wool and has made a very firm blanket, so I don't think I will be doing it again.
While it was too hot to knit, I did a little project just to please me. I saw one of these made on someone else's blog, and really fancied having a go myself, so I bought the pattern. It is made all from African Flower Motifs, with 5,6,7 or 8 sides, and then they are crocheted together, so they were nice little pieces of work to do whenever I had a few minutes to spare.
Isn't she gorgeous? I just love her. if you are a follower of my regular Wednesday posts on my other blog, you will have seen these pictures before, but I think this one reaches a different audience so I am happy to post them again.Here is Happypotamus' face ....
.... and here is her other end!
I shall be linking that to Annie's blog Friday Smiles, because it made me smile, so I hope it does you too.
And here is my little poser Arwen again. She was very peeved when I decided to do some card-making that meant she had to move from my desk and her usual post in front my fan. I had taken down my box of copic markers to do some colouring, and when I returned from having my tea, I found her curled up in the space where the box lives!
And finishing on another positive note, I am right up to date with my Project Life album. Here are the double pages for the past two weeks. You will probably recognise many of the photos but they are presented in a different way.
I added those last two photos as I shall now be missing for two, and probably three Fridays. We fly to UK on Thursday for a very busy couple of weeks. Chris is only staying for four days and then coming home to look after 'the zoo' but I am not returning until Thursday 19th, and although I'll have literally hundreds of photos to sort through, I am not likely to be ready to post any of them on my first day home! (My Project Life will then be three weeks behind again too!So 'Bye for a while'. I will be back!