Here's a little smile to start my post with. Yesterday Miki went to the groomers to have her annual haircut. The temperature is teetering around 30º now and she was beginning to feel uncomfortable. Every year she comes back looking a little different so I like to take a 'before' and 'after' picture each time, so here she is.
This time they have trimmed her ears a bit too close for my liking, and left her with her side whiskers, but it is quite cute and I am getting used to her new look. She has to go back for a tidy-up next week, because the water was cut off before they had time to bath her and give a final trim where needed, but I think she is already feeling the benefit. As one of my friends on Facebook commented, "It must be like throwing off the duvet", and we did that a few weeks ago!
None of our dogs are very keen on the camera, but when the other two saw that Miki got a little treat every time she looked at the camera, they wanted to pose too. Kim looks a bit reluctant but Foxy is alert and bright as usual. The photo's a bit deceiving because Foxy (on the right) is actually about a third of the size of Kim. In fact he can stand across her like a bridge. Kim is huge now, but he is a handsome fellow, and probably the most gentle of them all. We call him our gentle giant.
I know some of my faithful followers, (and I do appreciate you reading my sprawling post each week), like to hear about the fiestas in the village, so here is another one that took place on Sunday. It is not a big fiesta for everyone this time, but a more personal one, especially for the folk who regularly attend the catholic church in the village. It was the celebration for Corpus Christi, which begins with a mass inside the church.
The young boys and girls sitting each side at the front, are the ones who took their first communion last month.
The little plaza outside the church is decorated with a long carpet and an altar set at the head of it. The local band are on hand to provide the music. The village guadia were also there but their only task was to make sure no vehicles came along at the wrong moment.
After the mass, this plaza was suddenly full of people. The priest came out with his little group of helpers who held a canopy over him, and he knelt at the altar to pray.
On this day, anyone else from the village can build a similar altar outside their home. The priest and his retinue, including the children, and anyone else who wants to, then slowly make their way around the village, stopping at each altar as they go.
The altars are lovely, usually covered in a white or red cloth, and decorated with red and white flowers, candles or other religious items. Other plants and flowers are arranged around them, and each one has a carpet or white pillow in front of it so the priest can kneel and pray, I assume asking for a blessing on the home and the people who live there.
We had gone out for a little while that evening, so we stopped in a street that had two altars in it. I spent a while talking to the lady who was setting this one up. She was very friendly and explained a little about what was happening, and told me I was welcome to take photos. I love the white and red gladioli and carnations that she tied up her window railings.
The lady setting this one up was also very friendly. It was around nine o'clock before the procession arrived at the street. Just before they got to her, she lit the candles, and threw flower petals all around. She had a large poster on her railings depicting Virgen del Carmen, the patron saint of our village.
The priest knelt say a prayer at each altar and when he stood up, the little boys rang hand-bells - they obviously enjoyed this bit of the ceremony - and the little girls scattered more petals from the baskets that they carried.
The white dresses and little sailor suits are the clothes the children wore for their first communion. This always takes place on the first Sunday in May. I love the beautiful embroidery on the priest's shawl.
As soon as the procession had moved on to the next street, the ladies began to dismantle everything, and within the hour, you wouldn't know there had been anything there, except for the flower petals drifting around in the breeze.
Apart from that, it has been a fairly quiet week. As the weather is hotting up, I do less and less, and spend most afternoons sitting under the fan doing some crochet etc, and dipping in the pool for a cool down. I still have a couple of busy weeks ahead, but July and August are very quiet, except for the village's main fiesta mid-July.
I completed the latest part of my Crochet-along in good time, and the next part is not released until next Tuesday, so I have had time to finish off another blanket for my Africa project. I shall try to get some more squares sewn together, but the edging may have to wait until the weather is cool enough for me to have a blanket on my lap again. In the meantime, I have plenty of other projects to be working on.
During the week Chris again worked on covering our back door. We used to have a curtain of chains across it to keep out the flies, but I often nearly strangled myself on it when I went through with washing to hang out etc. So recently he took out part of the bottom railing and fitted a cat flap, which the cats all ignored and walked around it to squeeze through the next rails! But they can't do that now because he has fitted the lower half of the door with a perspex cover, and the top half with a fly screen. This gives me a lot more light in the kitchen and utility area, and makes it easier for me to go in and out with my hands full. However the cats have not yet mastered the flap, and just sit next to it waiting for me to open the door for them. I have tried tying it open during the day, and they have come through a couple of times, but they are not impressed. Tango and Paco sat and watched the work being done, but their lack of interest in the end product is fairly obvious!
I am enjoying the garden for a few more weeks. It is a lot of work watering all the pots, but I do like to see all the flowers, so it is worth it. Out at the back the stephanotis is again in bloom and the scent in the evenings is heavenly. Also at the back, the cactus that we threw away over the railings because we were tired of its tiny hair like spines getting us whenever we passed it, is continuing to flourish on neglect. Once again it has lots of buds and new 'ears'.
All the time it was being a nuisance by the front gate, it never had any flowers on it. But they are actually very pretty, and at least where they are now, they can't do anyone any harm.
Out in the front, where most of the plants are, (because the dogs are only out there if we are), my osteospermums are doing well. When I bought them at Albox market a few weeks ago, I also bought a lovely wide pot for them, with daisies painted round the sides, and I was disappointed because all the flowers died really quickly. But I have continued to water them regularly and they have come alive again, and now all four colours have blooms on them.
Next to them, the verbena that I planted last year has also grown again. It trails rather nicely over the side of the pot, and is flowering really well.
And finally our little Bird of Paradise tree is doing amazingly well. We had to give it some support in the high winds last month, but it is a mass of flowers now, and there are still lots of new buds coming, so I think it will continue to greet me as I open the sitting room window each morning, for quite a while to come.
Other highlights this week have been a long chat with one son on Skype, hearing all about his holiday, and a long telephone conversation with another son to hear his exciting news.
Discovering that our current favourite local bar has opened a new outside area. We were able to sit out there for our intercambio group this week, and it was a very lively, fun evening.
A couple of impromtu trips out with Chris, late evening, for a drink before bed, when we ending up sitting chatting to friends until late.
Just the general slowing down of life, and a season to relax and forget our usual rather hectic routine.
There are no more nice skies these days. There are not enough clouds to catch the rays as the sun sets, but maybe I will be in the right place at the right time again soon.