Friday, April 29, 2016

Rocking Your World 2016: Week 18

Hi folks. I have no special smile this week, just a few happy occasions that had me smiling. It was a relatively quiet, and therefore relaxing week, which made a nice change. For us it started on Saturday when we attended one of the events put on by our Town Hall, for a cultural weekend. The other events were drama and visiting speakers which we didn't feel our Spanish was quite up to appreciating, but on Saturday it was Flamenco music and dancing which we really enjoy.

It took place on the plaza which was a bonus. I always love outdoor entertainment, and it was a warm evening so we could sit and watch in comfort. There was a large wooden stage which resounded nicely to the stamping feet of the dancer, but first there were four men who played and sang.

(The stage lighting has added an extra layer of colour to most of these pictures.)
The men were joined by this lady who started dancing. It is always so dramatic with tapping feet and tossing head, and arms flung out to emphasize her emotions. And the anguished facial expressions just add to it. I just love that red dress!

Later she danced again, this time in a black dress, and one of the men joined her.
There was a good turn out of village folk. They all enjoy the Flamenco style of singing and dancing.

But there was something else happening at the same time. On the same stage, over to the right, there were two large boards set up on easels, and as soon as the music began, a man started to paint the boards with long vertical patches of blue in several shades.
Mostly it was spray paint which he spread with a broad brush. He worked steadily but unhurriedly and we  were wondering what he was there for, as there was no sign of any shapes being formed with his paint. Towards the end of the show he covered each board with a sheet of clear plastic that was hanging behind them, and then he started to spray white paint over them.
With absolutely perfect timing, on the final beats of the music he finished his spraying and lifted off the plastic sheets, and there were revealed two superb paintings of a Flamenco dancer and a singer.

See the lace on the dancers sleeves, and all the detail in the second picture. I couldn't believe he had got such a result from a flimsy plastic stencil. Here are the stencils, once more hanging behind the boards.
Everyone was amazed by the end result, and his timing couldn't have been better.

The show had lasted about an hour, so although it had started quite late, there was still time to visit a couple of bars on our way home for a night-cap or two!

Other little things that have made me smile - 
The news that our Royal Birthday Party last week raised over 500€ for our church funds.
A successful outcome to negotiations between Cati for Asadis and a local group of woman bowlers, with me as their liaison, resulting in us buying a special light pad for the children in the special needs class of the village school, to be paid for by the bowlers. Two parts have arrived and I hope to have the last part by Tuesday so we can arrange for a presentation at the school very soon.
We spent Monday morning working in the garden, and all the flowers we bought last week, are now in pots and containers around the yard. And very pretty they all look too.
My lovely ginger cat had his stitches out on Monday and remains apparently oblivious to all we have done for him. He tore a claw on his front paw a couple of months ago, but despite two courses of anti-biotics, it refused to heal, so last week the vet removed the claw and nail bed, and he had two stitches in it. He is such a laid back boy, and although he was limping a bit, he never fussed with it, he didn't attempt to chew at his stitches, and he took his tablets without batting an eye. Now he has a slightly odd looking toe, but apart from that, he seems none the worse for the experience.
On Thursday Chris took me out for lunch at a nearby cafe and we had an lovely meal as we always do there. Then we popped into 'the brothers', a company run by twin brothers where you can buy all sorts of building supplies, gardening supplies and some pet items, and we bought a small cat flap for our kitchen door. At the moment we have to leave the door open all the time for the cats to come in and out, and we have a chain link curtain to keep out the flies. But it is not really very efficient and I am always getting tangled up in it when I go out to feed the dogs, or hang washing on the line. So Chris sat down and removed a small section of the metal railing and replaced it with the cat flap. Now the rest of the door can be covered with clear perspex or similar for the bottom section, and proper fly screen for the rest. Then I can have the inner door open all summer and not worry about the bugs. Now all we have do is teach three cats how to get through it. At the minute they can just walk around it but whenever I can I make them go through the flap. Hopefully very soon the rest will be done, and then they will have to come in that way if they want to be fed, so I expect they will soon get used to it.
Here is Chris doing the hard bit - making it fit the space. I wish I could still sit on the floor cross-legged like that!
Apart from that I have spent some time sitting here at the computer. Yesterday I made some booklets for church, for the order of service we use for the Eucharist celebration. Our numbers are growing and we ran out of books last week. They weren't easy to do as they have laminated covers and it is hard work folding a fairly heavyweight piece of card that has been laminated, but I got them done in the end. 

Today I revisited a piece of software that I haven't used for a long time, and designed a template for a scrapbook page, inspired by one I saw on pinterest.

I have finished this fortnight's part of my crochet-along with several days to spare, so I have also finished the squares for the tote bag, and added one more round to my Sophie blanket.

I even managed to make half a dozen greetings cards too. So all in all it has been a very productive week.

It is warming up even though there has not been so much clear sunshine this week, and last weekend I replaced our winter duvet with the summer-weight one. I find it much more comfortable and I sleep better with it. But my goodness, there has been some shocking weather for our friends and family back in UK. I hope the snow is on its way out again now.

I have just one sky photo to show you. As I said, there hasn't been a lot of sunshine, but I did catch this one sunset which I rather like, because it has the black storm clouds on the top left, that balance out the dark landscape on the right.
They have promised more rain tonight and tomorrow, but on the bright side, that is one less time for me to hose all the pots of plants, which is a very time-consuming occupation.
So now I'm off to link up with Annie's Friday Smiles, and Rocking your World at Virginia's blog.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Rocking Your World: Week 17

Hi everyone. These Fridays sure come round quickly don't they, but Friday is when we think of the good things that have happened this week, so here goes.

I am starting this week with a link to a video of our youngest son. He recently went to see the London stage show 'Book of Mormons', and although he said 'Don't go there mum. You'd hate it!', he thought it was the best comedy he has ever seen, and he loved the music from it. He is a musician who writes, sings and plays his own songs, but also does covers of other people, and he wanted to do one of the songs from the show. Unfortunately it needed two people, so he dug out an old wig and pair of glasses and doubled up himself. He'd never done that sort of video editing so I think he did a good job. But it makes me smile because I just love to see him having such fun  with his music. I shared his video on Facebook with the caption, "My son Ben and my son Ben, having fun together". If you are interested you can see his video on youtube, by clicking here. (apologies Annie. I know you saw it on facebook).

But there have been plenty of other things to rock my world, and make me grateful this week too.
Chris has had his stitches out. His wound is healing nicely and he is beginning to feel more comfortable.
I went to the doctor for myself,  with some trepidation, knowing she is not very easy to talk to and expecting to have to fight for a referral, but I did my homework so I could speak to her all in Spanish, and before I got to ask for it, she gave me the form to apply for a hospital appointment. It's nothing too serious, but I am happy that it is going to be investigated.

On Wednesday it was our 37th wedding annivesary. It passed quietly. We have never made a big 'thing' of anniversaries, though we did make a couple of significant ones quite special, and we are thinking we may do something special again when it gets to forty years!

I spent a very pleasant afternoon yesterday, at a friends house, enjoying a Royal Tea Party. It was done as a church fund-raiser to replace our usual St George's day dinner that was cancelled through the ill health of the hosts. Anyway, sixty guests came to our tea, and those of us on the Fund raising committee all helped with the preparation of food. I have never seen such an array of sandwiches, scones and cakes. Fortunately it was the one day all week we had full sunshine, so we were able to spread around the garden. We had set up tables for eight on every space available, and while folk were still arriving, we worked in teams of four to complete a quiz on the Queen. I have to admit I didn't know many of the answers, but as a team we did OK. 
It was suggested we try to wear red, white and blue, and most people had at least one of those. One or two took it a bit further and wore their 'patriotic hats' as well.
While we took round plates of food, our church organist and her husband, entertained us with traditional English folk songs. Then, when everyone had eaten all they could, Ron did a couple of funny recitations which were well received.
We finished the afternoon with two big birthday cakes and glasses of cava (local name for bubbly). It was a good afternoon, with opportunities to chat with folk we don't sit and talk to very often, and I am sure the final sum raised will make it all worthwhile.

It has been another slightly uncertain week weather wise, with lots of windy days, a fair amount of cloud, and a few showers, but it doesn't get really cold any more which is a blessing. After one fairly grey day, the wind broke up the cloud early evening and I sat around the back of the house watching the sky. You could clearly see where the wind was whipping  up the clouds, and I thought it was really pretty. I think the 'flying sauce' must be a bird flying straight towards me!

On the greyer days I sat indoors to do some crafting in the afternoons, and I finished my bobbin lace bell. It was quite a fiddle to get the filler done but I managed it in the end. It was very small and delicate and would work well as a feature on a Christmas card. But I really wanted a slightly bigger one, so one evening I spent hours trying to enlarge the outer edge of the pattern, without enlarging the filler as that would have made the mesh too big. Eventually I managed it, so I then made it again using red and gold threads. I am quite pleased with it, but I may try another approach some time soon, that could make it a bit simpler to do. Here are my two bells so you can see how they compare in size.
As I mentioned last week, Lisca sent me the pattern, and now she is making it up too, so I am glad we have both managed it.

I have also been busy with my crochet hook. Part two of my Frida's flowers Crochet-along was released on Tuesday. It is another fairly straightforward motif, but I think it is a bit prettier than the first one. I have done two of the new ones, and as recommended, I am joining as I go, so they are each linked along one edge to a purple motif from part one.
The main colour is called petrol and it is a bit dark to work with by artificial light, so last night I made all the central flowers instead. There are six more, two of which will be the centre for two more whole motifs, and four will be on the side of half-motifs. I will easily get these made over the fortnight before part three of the pattern is released, but then we will be working on a much more complex flower motif, so I am not sure whether I will keep up with them. I'm looking forward to it though.

And while on the subject of flowers, after we had been to the medical centre this morning, to have Chris' final dressing removed, we drove to Vera and visited a newly opened garden centre. They had some lovely plants and we came home with two pots, two hanging baskets and this beautiful array of flowers.
That's not quite true as the daisies on the right (osteospermans) were bought up at the Albox market last Saturday. But today we bought a daisy pot to plant them it. (The little one in it now is a filler for the hanging baskets, but it happened to travel home in the car, inside the pot!).
I loved the bright colours of these little beauties. They are a type of Agapanthus lily from S. Africa, and the man promised me that when they have flowered and died down, they will stay dormant until next Spring, and then grow and flower again. I hope so. I guess tomorrow morning will be spent gardening!

One day I had arranged to ring my son Ben using Skype, and it keeps track of your call. It is so good and, when the internet connection holds up, it is just like sitting in the same room with him. We always did chat a lot together, and we suddenly discovered we had been talking for two and a quarter hours. I love Skype!

Another evening this week I sat out the back again just watching the sky, and enjoying the noise and flight of all the little birds looking for a roosting place for the night. It was later and the sky was getting dark, but again there were some interesting clouds.
In this one it looks as though there were some snow-capped mountains in the distance, but it is just the way the light caught the clouds.
I spent ages trying to catch some of the birds on camera, but they are mostly swifts, ducking and diving as they catch the little bugs that always wake up as the sun goes down, and they were just too quick for me. This was my best shot which does show just how fast their wings beat.

And finally, a couple more sky photos taken on an evening when there were still lots of broken clouds, but a slightly stronger sun behind them which lit up the places where it broke through. The first was taken on the same evening as the one higher up in this post, and you can see that the plume of windswept cloud was still there. It looked more dramatic as the sky darkened.

So now I will go and link up at Annie's Friday Smiles and Rocking Your World at Celtic House, and I'll try to visit some of you. I was a bit slow visiting last week because we had all sorts of internet problems, but it may have been the weather conditions, because we seem to be fine now. Thank you for stopping by. I do appreciate your comments.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Rocking Your World 2016; Week 16

My smile today is this pretty flower that has just
opened on a little tree in our garden. It isn't the one we have been watching for the past coupe of weeks. That hasn't made much progress so far, but I guess having taken forty years to reach the bud stage, it is going to take its time to actually open as well! This goes by the grand name of Caesalpinia gillesii, or as it is known here, the Bird of Paradise Tree, though it is not related to the Bird of Paradise flowers, and is in fact, a member of the bean family. We bought it in a little pot last year and I nearly lost it because I couldn't keep up with watering it as much as it needed. But later we planted it into our tiny patch of soil and it has flourished. It died right back during the Winter and we didn't know if it would revive with the Spring, but it certainly has, and this is its first flower of the year. I think it is so pretty. It is right outside our sitting room window so I see it each morning when I open up the windows, and it always makes me smile. It has long branching stems of tiny leaves which fold up and sleep at night, and open again with the morning sun. This morning I counted at least ten more buds forming on it so we will have flowers for many week to come.
And here is one more smile from my garden. Aren't these adorable? I planted them way before Christmas and they are still full of flowers. And you really can't help but smile at their little faces.

This week has not been quite my usual list of activities, as we heard at very short notice, that my husband Chris could go to hospital on Wednesday for his long-awaited hernia operation. It was done as day-surgery, and they seem to do most operations here with an epidural now instead of a general anesthetic, so the recovery time is much shorter. It was a long day as we left home at 7.00 in the morning and got back at 9.30 that night, but he is fine, and as long as he is careful what he does for a few weeks, he will soon be right as rain. In Spanish hospitals the nurses only do the medical work and you are expected to have a family member or friend with you most of the time for the care aspects - straightening the bed, helping with food etc. It is quite a good idea as long you have someone who can do it, but I feel sorry for the elderly folk who have lost their partner, and need to depend more on the staff. Be we have great respect for the medical system out here, and are very happy with the treatment we have received.
It did mean I spent a lot of time sitting around waiting but I went well prepared with a fully charged Kindle and my crochet. During the operation the relatives have a special waiting room where they sit until it is over, and then the doctor comes and tells you how it went. I caused quite a stir in there when I sat working on my Sophie's Universe blanket. The older Spanish ladies took turns to come and sit by me and look at what I had done so far. I showed them the pattern and talked about the colours, which all helped to pass the time. The rounds on Sophie are long now but I got four or five done while I was there. I am now on round 69, and have finished part 8 of the Crochet-Along. There are twenty parts altogether but I am missing out a few which tell you how to make rows of matching squares along the two ends before working the border, to turn it from a square into a rectangle. But I am happy to have the square one which will fit nicely on a double bed over the douvet, mainly for show. She is getting quite heavy so maybe after one more part I shall put her away until the Autumn.
I am looking forward to Tuesday when the second part of my Frida CAL will be published and I shall have another set of hexagonal motifs to make. I wonder what they will be like this time. More complex than last week's I think, but still relatively straightforward. The fortnight after that, when part 3 comes out, I will be starting on those lovely dimensional flowers.
But to get me ready for that I have been working on a smaller project to make a Frida's Flowers tote bag, for storing and carrying the wool for the big project. It is a cubic box with a twelve inch square for each side and for the base. Then it is stiffened and lined. It may take me a while to finish it as I only get my sewing machine out when I have to, and will really have to be in the mood to make a bag liner! But here are the sides I have done so far. Two are finished and the other two are on their way. Then I will need to do one plainer one for the base as of course, it will not need to have a raised flower in the centre of it.
It is made with chunky wool and a big fat hook which is very hard for my hands, but this afternoon I sat out on the porch on a lovely warm day, and got quite a bit of it done. My arms will be stiff tomorrow! I never choose to work with chunky wool  but it is the main yarn they sell in our todo shops. It is very thick and I would never wear a garment made from it, but it is cheap and tough and works well for a bag. I had almost enough purples and pinks in my stash and bought a few more, plus some very dark purple to join up the panels and make some handles. It seemed a better idea to use it for the bag rather than my good wool that I buy from UK, and it has kept me busy while I wait for the next part of the blanket pattern.
I will also not be rushing to go out for the next week so I can make sure Chris is OK and not trying to do anything that he shouldn't, so I am looking forward to some more craft time. 
Last week I mentioned that Lisca had sent me some small lace patterns and was translating the instructions from Dutch for me. So when the start of the bell arrived, I decided to dust off my lace pillow and bobbins and have a go. The outer edge was reasonably easy and I have done most of it, but now I am stuck. I don't think I understand the next part of the instructions and neither does Lisca, so we are going to help one another try to figure it out. Here is what I have done so far. There are another fourteen pairs of bobbins wound, ready to fill in the centre, but I have no idea where they go yet.
If I get it sorted out I will show you the finished bell, but don't hold your breath; it could take a while!

Last Sunday after church, I drove to Mojacar for a meeting where I heard some rather sad news. No need to share that with you, but afterwards I wanted to sit and reflect for a while, so I pulled into a little beach at the very far end of the Playa. It was so peaceful and beautiful there, and I took a few photos so I could recapture that feeling later. There was hardly anyone else around. The sky was blue and the sea was a deeper blue. The beach was only recently formed and the seating area where I was, is mostly 'imported' sand which is very yellow. It was windy and I watched a flock of seagulls trying to take off against the gusts of wind, but by the time I had retrieved my phone from the car to take some pictures, they had all gone. I did however take some very interesting cacti flowers or seeds. I'm not sure which they were.

As I went back to the car to drive home, I noticed a wooden pathway winding up the rocks behind me. I have not seen it before though I don't think it was all that new. There was a notice board telling you about some of the things you will see if you walk along it. The whole route was ten kilometers each way, which is a bit further than we could manage right now, but I am hoping when Chris is fully recovered, we can at least do the first half of it.

Finally I have a couple of sky photos, not sunsets this time, but the sunrise as it developed during our ride to the hospital on Wednesday. They are not brilliant photos as they were taken with my phone through a grubby car window, while we were moving along. 
We started out in almost darkness with just a fine line of light in the sky.
Gradually it got brighter and the sky glowed golden.
Then as we arrived, the early morning cloud turned red. In the end it was a lovely day.

Now I will link up at Annie's Friday Smiles and Rocking Your World, and say 'Adios' until next week.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Rocking Your World 2016: Week 15

Hello again folks. I 'll start with a little smile this time. I was walking around the garden the other evening, trying to get some plant photos, though I had left it too late really so they are rather dark, but every time I turned around, these two furry friends were sitting right behind me, both with soppy grins on their faces. They are like a pair of mischievous children sometimes. You can't help but love them!

The photo I was trying to take was this one. It is our Strelizia Nicolai, or black bird of paradise plant, which has flowered again this year.
Although I took this on a grey evening, it does show the shape of the flower very well, and you can clearly see the little bird flying from the heart of it. We have a love-hate relationship with this plant, as we would both prefer to have the more common orange and purple flowering strelizia, but this is considered exotic and would be very expensive to buy, so as long as it keeps flowering, we will keep a corner in the garden for it. 
It starts with a fat deep purple-black bud from which the white 'wings' emerge, and then a long lilac blue tongue, forming the head and back of the bird. But it also continually drips 'goo' which attracts the flies, and we are not so keen on that bit. Once it is open, a second bud appears from the back of the first one, and some years it keeps producing more and more until there is a long stem of flowers, and it seems to have got off to a good start this year.
Another fairly exotic flower that thrives out here is this one.
Known as the Crown of Thorns, it does indeed have wicked thorns all over its stems, but it also has the capacity to flower throughout the year. I used to have small ones of these as house plants in UK, but here they are happier outside. This one has been moved twice because it outgrew its pot, and the way it is growing, it will have to move up a size of pot again soon. It will be done with great caution because of the thorns, but it provides such wonderful patches of colour around the yard, I can forgive it a few scratches.

And while on plants, last week I showed you a palm we have, that surprised us this year by sending out a long head of buds. Well I have done some research on it during the week, and it turns out it is commonly known as a Ponytail Palm, or the Elephant's Foot Palm, the second one because it has a large bulbous swelling at the base of its stem.
Apparently it is native to Mexico, but the most interesting thing I learned about it is that it doesn't flower until it is forty years old! (What you might call a 'late bloomer') So, not only did my friend have it before me, but someone else must have had it before her too. Whether, like the agave or century cactus that is found everywhere around here, once it has flowered, it dies, or whether it will go on growing and producing flowers each year, I can only wait and see.
My flower has not yet opened. I thought it would but we have had a whole week of grey, windy and often wet days, but even so, it has opened a lot further than it was last week. Each little piece of the bud, that was just showing several tiny, tight flower buds, now has a stem of separate buds coming from it, so I am sure, given a few days of sunshine,  it will reveal all.

I am very happy to say that the sun has indeed returned to us today. It was grey this morning, and at lunch time I thought I was probably being a bit over-optimistic as I filled my lines with washing, while the storm clouds were turning the sky from grey to black, but by this afternoon the clouds had broken up, and now the sky couldn't be bluer, and I am sitting by my open window and enjoying the warmth of the sun on my bare arms. The minute I opened the window, Arwen went out onto the warm tiles of the window sill and she hasn't moved since!

As the weather this week has not encouraged unnecessary excursions, I have kept busy at home most days. Early in the week I had a strawberry jam making session and a few days later I followed it with some piccalilli, so my store cupboard is looking nice and full again.

I also sat in my craft room long enough to make a couple of cards that I needed, but most of my free time has been spent crocheting. I am continuing to work on Sophie, but only a little at a time as she is getting heavy, especially when a certain ginger cat decides to curl up on the bit I want to turn around to work on! Last time I showed her to you, she had a row of yellow tulips around her garden. Now she has some little pink flowers and rows of deep pink rosebuds. Aren't they cute?
It is great fun making her because I have come across a lot of new techniques that I haven't tried before, and I do not have a clear picture of the finished project, so I haven't a clue how each row will work out until I do it. There is another interesting 'flower' opening up in the corner, but I have no idea what it will be like when it is finished.

As I said last week, with warmer weather on the way, I felt I needed an alternative project that uses small motifs, to work on alongside Sophie, for the days when I can't cope with her weight and size, so this week I embarked on a new Crochet-ALong that was launched on the Stylecraft site on Tuesday. It is called Frida's Flowers, and the next sections of the pattern will be released every two weeks until July. There are eight parts in all.
Frida Kahlo was a Mexican artist who loved her garden. She usually wore clothes in layers to achieve her own distinctive style, and the top layer was usually bright floral patterns on a black background. This is one of her dresses from a museum in Mexico.
This week we were let in to the CAL very gently with a relatively easy motif to make. We have two weeks to make four complete motifs and four half motifs. Here are mine and as you can see I just have to make two more halves, and sew a few ends in.
They look a bit wavy but they are easy to lay flat and they will be fine when I have blocked them. Blocking is something I don't usually bother with, but I think for this project, it may be worth while. They are very plain but have a pretty little flower motif in the centre.
I think the next installment will be similar only the motifs will be blue with a degree of lace patterning worked into them. After that, things will get more complicated. There are no photos as yet of the complete throw, (It is relatively small. More of a lap blanket than one for a bed, though many folk are already discussing making more motifs for a bigger blanket). But here is a taster that was released to get us interested.
So you can see, I have some pretty complicated flowers motifs coming up one day. I only hope I can follow the pattern for them. It will also be a challenge to work the black surrounds. At least it will be summer time so the light will be good. I would not attempt this by artificial light in the winter.
I am amazed at the response to this CAL project. There is a dedicated Facebook page where we can share our work and ask questions if we get stuck, and it has over four thousand members. People from all over the world have bought the yarn packs and the pattern has been published in UK and US terms as well as in Dutch and German. It is fun to think of everyone working on it at the same time, in so many diverse places.

Another little project that I hope to get started on is making some Christmas decoration with bobbin lace. Lisca - my blogland visitor of last week, has kindly sent me some patterns and she is currently translating the Dutch instructions into English for me! I haven't done any lace for so long, so I am not sure how I will get on with them, but I will give it a go.

So that brings me to a couple of sky pictures to finish with. The first was one evening early in the week, when the clouds just about cleared enough to let the last rays of the sun shine out.
On Tuesday I went to my Spanish-English conversation group again. It had been raining on and off all day, and just as I left, it started to drizzel again. But there was also some weak early evening sun and when I turned around I saw this beautiful rainbow, standing out against the grey clouds. Isn't it lovely?

I hurried on to the bar where we meet, and just as I got there, and could see the sky below the buildings that usually spoil my view, I caught the very last of the sun disappearing into the stormy clouds once more.
I am not complaining about the rain as it is so badly needed here. I live in rural Spain where half the population work in agriculture, and for them the rain is liquid gold! In just a few days it has turned our barren landscape into a areas of green, and we had just about enough rain to do some real good in the fields. We still need more, but after the end of this month, we are not likely to see any until the Autumn comes round again.
Well, I had better stop waffling and go and link up with Annie's Friday Smiles and Rocking Your World on Virginia's blog.
Thank you for visiting me each week. I really enjoy reading all your comments.
Until next time; hasta luego!