Friday, February 21, 2014

Rockin' Your World 2014; Week 8

Another Friday swings round, and I find myself considering all the things I have to be thankful for in the past seven days.

First here is my smile of the week. This is my beautiful fluff ball Arwen, in her usual place, taking up most of the space on my crafting desk.

She has the most extraordinary fur, thick and soft, but when she moults, it doesn't fall out. It just lifts away from her skin and mats, so in this photo, her back is one really hard lump of felted hair. Although I do occasionally manage to snip some knots from round her face, she is not very friendly, and I cannot brush or comb her, though I know from her very friendly brother who died last year, brushing doesn't really solve the problem. She was a rescue cat, and when I took her in she was badly neglected and abused, so I excuse her behaviour, and very, very slowly, she is responding to the love lavished on her, and will allow me to stroke her a little. She even purrs sometimes now, but she won't let me pick her up for a cuddle yet. Anyway, once or twice a year, when her fur gets bad enough, I take her to the vets to be sedated and shaved, I did this on Wednesday so this is what she looks like now.
There were a new couple working as dog groomers in the vet's this time, and they have not shaved her quite so close to the skin as usual. I always ask them to leave her face, tail and boots, so now she is my poodle cat! I don't think they had ever been asked to shave a cat before, and they thought it was hilarious. She does look a bit odd for a few weeks, but actually she is so much happier, and more comfortable without all the tangles, so it is worth it.
The next thing that made me very happy was a
parcel arriving from UK containing a wide selection of vinyl. (As I explained to my son in an e-mail today, I mean vinyl of the sticky-back plastic kind, not records! He collects vinyl records.) I couldn't find a company over here that would supply small quantities for a crafter, nor one that stocked the range I wanted, so I decided that it made sense to pay the postage just once, and order all I am ever likely to need in one go, from England. So now I have small rolls (with 1 or 2 mtrs on each, of metallics and glitters, in several colours, and a lot of sheets (24"x9") of gloss in all the colours of the rainbow. There is still a 5m roll of black and one of white to come. I can't wait to make something, but I have no idea what it will be!
I see our platypus got in on the corner of that photo. We bought it for our youngest son on his first Christmas. He will be twenty-seven this weekend, but I still can't part with it, so it lives on our spare bed, which is where I have spread the vinyl until I find a proper home for it.
I had a long chat with  my son on skype this week. He is away on holiday so I won't be able to speak to him on his birthday, so we had a chat before he went. I love skype. When we do a video call it is just like being in the room with him.

Yesterday was a beautiful sunny day so we drove the ten minutes down to Mojacar Playa and had a walk along the sea front. It was as beautiful as ever, and although we did see one couple, probably holiday makers, lying sun-bathing on the sand, the actual beach was almost deserted. 

I had to smile at this group of cormorants gathering on a rock for their morning chat. There are usually a couple there, but this morning there were seven of them. For once I wasn't tempted to dip my toes in the water, but it was lovely and warm, and we soon shed our jumpers as we walked into the sun. After half an hour we turned around and strolled back, and then had a lovely lunch at our favourite cafĂ© before driving home again. Here's one more photo I took down there. 

Mojacar has a Moorish history, and many homes and hotels reflect this influence with their white walls, arches and domes. This one has a splendid backdrop of the mountains as seen from the coast. I usually show you them from round the other side where our village is.

We walked back to the car along the road which runs
all along the coast, only separated from the sea by a few shops and bars. As we walked we passed this lovely bed of mesembryanthemums out in flower. They reminded me of how I used to try to grow these in my little patch of garden I had as a child, because I loved their bright colours, but they only open their flowers when the sun is full on them, so I never achieved anything like this.

I am grateful to a friend who dropped by with this gift for me. It is a big bag of grapefruit straight from his tree. They are delicious, and we have eaten a few and had a some in my blended fruit juice drinks. I have now bought a jar of preserved stem ginger in syrup, and tomorrow I shall make some grapefruit and ginger jam. I have made it before and it was lovely.
I was thinking that we hadn't had any very exciting skies to show this week. Then last night there was a scattering of tiny clouds reflecting the last of the sun and it looked so pretty, so I took this photo. I was so surprised to look out of the window half an hour later, to find it now looked like this.
Beautiful isn't it?
And on that happy note I shall leave you to pop over and link this up with Annie's Friday Smiles and Virginia's Rockin' Your World blog.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Rocking your world 2014; week 7

Hello everyone. Once again I am a bit late writing this. I have been on the telephone to my daughter-in-law for ages, and that delayed me, but it is so good to chat! Now I shall scribble away so I can link up before midnight with Annie's Friday Smiles, and Virginia's blog at Celtic House.
I am starting with my Friday Smile for Annie's link up this week, in fact I have two.

Firstly I had the lovely news on Monday, that our niece had given birth to baby Isaac Flynn. Isn't he lovely? He actually makes us great-aunt and uncle at least 52 times. (It could be a few more as I have lost track a bit with my brothers family)! He has a big brother Max who, fortunately,  is delighted with him.

And here is my second smile. It is a good few years, (27 in fact as my son celebrates his 27th birthday next week), since my washing line last looked like this.
As a part of my Knit for Africa project, I collect new and second-hand babygros and vests to send with our knitting, so the babies can have something cotton between their skin and the wool. Recently I was handed a huge bag of tiny baby garments that were left after a sale, but they looked a little bit 'grey', and I put them away in the garage until we had a sunny day. So this week I put them all through the hottest wash on my machine, with a sachet of whitener, and they came up so bright and clean. I pegged them out, three lines of them, and it really made me smile to see them all blowing in the breeze. The neighbours must have wondered.......!
So what else has made me smile this week. 
My friend Julie came over to see me and we went out for lunch together, and then we walked up to Cati's house so Julie could give her a donation of 750€ for ASADIS. The money was what we has raised at our choir concerts around Christmas.
On Sunday, after our morning service, we had a lunch
together before our annual business meeting. It was very informal but it is good to keep up with what is happening. For the lunch some of us made soup and others made desserts. I was asked to make tomato soup and I took it in my large slow cooker, so it could be plugged in to keep warm during the service. We do have a small kitchen area at church, but no cooker. Chris helped me to wrap it up and stand it in a large plastic carrier on the floor behind my seat in the car. I have a half hour drive to church and I have never before noticed just how many hills there are on the route. At each one I thought "Oh no. That's more of my soup gone". But even with the very high speed bumps on the last road, and the bumpy unfinished surface of the car park, I arrived without spilling a drop. My slow cooker was empty for the return journey so no worries that time.
Here are a couple of photos of the dogs. I was sitting out side with them one afternoon and I noticed how Kim's fur has changed. He looks a bit piebald in this photo as he still has just a little of his baby fur to lose from his sides. The rest of him is quite grey now, the only thing that stops him looking like a full-blood Alsatian. It is the usual colour for Mastiffs though and that is what the vet thinks he is crossed with. 
And the one thing that has really changed recently is
his tail. It is absolutely gorgeous now, thick and curly, but never still! It is a lethal weapon when he comes in the house, and clears any table top he passes near. We have to grab for cups, glasses, photos, or anything else that might be in range!
And here is our soppy Miki. I love this picture. The dogs only come round the back of the house for their meals, but one day I was busy doing some tidying up and I didn't immediately put them through the gate. When I walked round the corner of the house, there was Miki, sitting on the bench and just gazing out over the green zone.  She even shuffled along so I could sit beside her. I think she liked the chance to have her head higher than Kim's for once.
I made marmalade again this afternoon and then I
walked up to the adult learning centre to meet Cati. She had asked me to go to take photos of some of the children who have benefited from ASADIS. They were using the touch screen computer that the Lions Club helped them to buy. They have individual classes with their speech therapist who is also funded by ASADIS.
This is Cati's daughter having her lesson, and the little girl in the first photo is the one we were able to provide a walking frame for (again with a lot of help from the Lions), so she could move independently at school. This is why I like helping ASADIS, because we see what a difference it can make in the lives of these children, who would other wise get no help. I am, of course, again selling my  marmalade to raise funds for them.
On the way to see the children I took this photo of the Cabrera mountains. They looked so lovely in the afternoon sun.
By the time I walked home, they looked completely different. The sun was just going down so the sky had changed colour,  and the mountains were a patchwork of light and shadow.
And finally, of course we have a sky photo! This was the day I sat out with the dogs, and I stayed on the bench to watch the sun go down. There weren't many clouds so it wasn't a 'spectacular' sunset. but I spotted an airplane leaving a vapour trail that stood out bright white against what little cloud there was. 
I wondered whether it was full of holiday makers who had enjoyed a week in the sun, and didn't know what kind of devastation they were returning to. I am sure some of you have struggled to stay positive during the appalling weather conditions in UK. On twitter I follow Shropshire County Council as this was our home area, and one night there was a new tweet every second to tell of another tree down, or power lines broken, or another road closed due to flooding. Take care everyone, and keep safe. You are all in our thoughts and prayers.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Rocking Your World 2014; Week 6.

Here I am at last, somewhat later than usual. We were up with the larks this morning as hubby had another appointment at the hospital to check his eyes following his cataract operation. They were very pleased with it so he hasn't got to go back again. They were also very efficient and we were back home by 10.30. I had expected to be away all morning. 
So I made the most of the extra time by stripping the bed and getting the sheets washed and out on the line. I put about five pegs in each one as earlier this week my washing had blown all down the path in the wind, but today it stayed on the line and it was dry and back on the bed in little over an hour.(Mum would turn in her grave if she saw me putting sheets on the bed straight from the line, without airing them!). I also did some baking, and this afternoon I added another twenty plus jars of marmalade to the store.
Here is a photo of Kim from when I took him for  a
long walk earlier in the week. He hates that muzzle/halter, but because of his size he is supposed to be muzzled when we take him out, and it does give me much more control over him. Usually he fights it all the way, trying to pull it off, but this time, after a few minutes he forgot all about it and just enjoyed the walk. The patient look on his face is because I've made him stop again while I take some photos! He is so big and strong now that I hesitate to take him out on my own, but he was so good that day that it was a real pleasure to be with him.

We walked across the main road from the village to an urbanisation called Huerta Nuevo. The views are lovely over there.   To the right is this lovely range of mountains called the Cabreras.          

Over to the left of these you can just get a glimpse of the sea, down at Mojacar Player.   It is a ten to fifteen minute drive from us, and we are too low to see it from our house.   

As Kim was behaving so well I decided to risk walking him around the little lake in the centre of the urbanisation. It was a part of the original plans but it was never properly developed, so the residents have taken it upon themselves to look after it. They have landscaped around it a bit and, last year they got permission to buy a few ducks and geese. I half expected them to have gone, but they are still there, and very tame.  

They swam straight over to us and obviously are used
to being well fed. They weren't at all put off by the dog and he wasn't very interested in them, though he soon backed off when the geese waddled over to the fence. They are really big now, and in beautiful condition.   

Another afternoon I sat out on the back porch enjoying an afternoon cuppa in the sun, and I heard a loud buzzing as something whizzed passed my ear. I soon spotted a big carpenter bee, and then I saw two more up high on the netting.    It is very early for them, so the warm weather must have brought them out of their burrows. I didn't want the dogs to start chasing them, although the male bees don't sting, and though the females can, it is very unusual for them to do so, but I wasn't taking any chances.   So armed with a big glass and cork-backed place mat, I climbed on a step stall and coaxed the first one down. It turned out it wasn't really warm enough for them, and they were quite dozy, but I set him over the other side of the yard in the sun, and eventually he flew away. I then did the same with the second one. They are really very beautiful, with a deep blue iridescent sheen on their abdomen and wings. I think these were very young as they were almost brown, instead of the shiny black that I have seen in the summer.

The third one continued to fly around but Chris used the pool net to encourage it to settle, and I caught him in my glass too. But having been caught he was very reluctant to fly away again outside, so in the end I pushed him onto a flowering tree where he immediately attacked the nectar at the base of the flowers. They can be a bit destructive, burrowing holes into wooden structures to lay their eggs, but we have little wood around our house so we are not too concerned about that, and they are very important pollinators.

One flower that needs their help right now is the almond blossom, which, as I predicted when I showed my early blossoming tree a few weeks back, is now frothing with pink and white flowers everywhere you look. Isn't it pretty?  

Well that is most of my news for this week. I have had some nice long phone chats with my sons, organising our time when we come to UK in May. Our middle son, Tom, announced that he is moving out to Denmark permanently, probably in April.   His company merged with a Danish company last year and he has been commuting most weeks, so it makes sense to live there for a bit. We were expecting it, but it will seem strange not to have him at our family get-togethers. He can still fly out to see us of course, and I'm sure he will. 

I'll leave you will another sky photo. Yes another one. Sorry! But I do love them and this was so pretty. The clouds are well and truly broken up. It has been so windy here.

Now I shall link this up with Virginia at Celtic House, and with Annie's Friday Smiles. There is no particular smile this week, but my whole life out here makes me smile (most of the time anyway). I hope you are all keeping safe in the wind and rain over in UK. We watch it each night on TV, so we really appreciate how lucky we are to be here.