Friday, November 24, 2017

Rocking Your World 2017; Week 47

Hi I am writing this a bit early today. I shall have to rethink my usual evening blog post as my choir has changed its practice time from Wednesday to Friday evening, and although it is early evening, 6.00-800, if it has been a good session I am often too tired to do anything much when I get home. So when I can, I'll be writing during the day. That said, I expect I shall only get half way before it is time to go out today.

My smile to start with is this photo of Arwen. She is a bit more friendly than she used to be, and often comes for a bit of fuss, and sits right here next to me when I am using my computer.
The family I speak to on Skype are quite used to seeing a tail move across their screen. She still doesn't like to be picked up for cuddles, but she does allow me to gently brush her coat now and then. She is moulting everywhere right now, so I may have to take her down to the vets for her twice a year 'sleep and shave'. She really looks daggers at me some days, but I guess she can't help the fact she was born with a grumpy face. Most of the day she sits by our window and just outside below the window is a bench, which is where I found Paco this morning.
He had the good sense to trade his comfy bed curled up on the settee, for a doze in the sunshine. No doubt he'll be back indoors by tea-time.

I had gone round the back of the house to take a picture of the green zone.
As you can see, it was a perfect morning, with a cloudless blue sky. By lunch time it was 24º which is pretty good for nearly the end of November. Days like this remind me of why we moved out here, and make me realise how blessed we are to be here.
As you can see, a lot of the green zone is rather brown, and everything is very dry. We desperately need some good rainfall, and some is forecast for next week. But while we wait we are happy to have the sun instead.
Also from the picture above, you can see a few patches of yellow foliage. The orange trees stay dark green all year, but the one tree that does show some autumn colour is the pomegranate. Their fruit is almost gone now and for a few weeks we have this lovely yellow of their leaves, before they dry up and fall.

Something else that looks really gorgeous against a blue sky, is the deep pink bougainvillea that we bought as a tiny dried up stick some years ago. It has slowly responded to some TLC and this year it was big enough to tie to the fence which seems to have given it the incentive to sprout even more. before long we will be trimming it back. It is already too high for me to tie in the top branches. 
Just beside it you can see some late flowers on the double oleander, which is a similar colour though not so vibrant. Once again several plants are acting 'out of season'. The weather seems to have confused them all.

I mentioned in an earlier post that I had forgotten to take a photo of my last little item I made for the sale. Well I decided I wanted a couple more to give to friends so this week I made them as well as one for myself, and here they are.
I saw the original one hanging in my sister's house. It was given to her by a friend who was battling with cancer at the time. She has since sadly lost that battle, but she was an active worker for her church, and we are both sure she would be happy to know her work was continuing to be shared to give pleasure to other folk. The hearts are made from white card and the script is vinyl, both cut on my silhouette cameo machine. The little flowers are die cut and each one has five layers plus the leaves. My sister Jean knows I struggle with the fiddly items so while she was here she made the first few for me, and showed me how to do them. She is a good teacher because I have now made several on my own and am happy with how they turned out.

Today my first two parcels for UK were pòsted and I now have three more ready to go, and then it will be just cards to send. I am glad I am up to my target time for these this year, and won't have my usual last minute rush. I even managed to get my family  and friends news letter ready to go in with some of them. I do still have a couple of December birthday cards to make though.

I am grateful to have a 'techie' husband who helps me sort out problems related to my computer. This week he worked on my laser printer but unfortunately he could only help with part of the problem. I think it is telling me I need a new toner cartridge and that will have to wait for a while, so I am back to my ink-jet one for now. It is perfectly adequate but much slower.

I was happy to get a letter from the hospital yesterday with an appointment for all the X-rays I need to have. I am still waiting for a date for the MRI but at least I know I am 'in the system' and some progress has been made.

Now I will end with a couple of sky photos. The first one was taken as I set out to drive to church on Sunday. As you can see, not every day dawns with a blue sky, and on Sunday it was quite dark clouds. But before long the sun was trying to break through, and there were long shafts of light coming down the Cabrera mountains. This photo doesn't do it justice, but I only had my phone with me so this was the best I could do. It looked beautiful.

And this one was taken last night. I glanced out my window and again saw a lovely peaceful evening sky, with such pretty colours in it.

Then, as the sky darkened, I looked up and saw a tiny, tiny moon rising to add its blessing to the scene.
And with that I am ready to link up with Annie's Friday Smiles and Rocking Your World. Just done in time to go out. I must try to achieve this again other weeks!

Friday, November 17, 2017

Rocking Your World 2017; Week 46

Well another week has flown past, so here we are looking back at what has made us smile. I have to say I am enjoying the Autumn weather. We are still enjoying lovely blue skies and sunshine, but the temperatures have dropped to a very comfortable level, so I have spent several afternoons, sitting out on the porch doing my crochet or reading my book.
But the sun goes down soon after six now and suddenly it becomes quite chilly. So the 'summer weight' duvet is now on the bed, and by 7.00 the fire is lit in the sitting room, so we have one place to be cosy.

The animals soon caught on to this idea, and on Thursday night I was in there knitting, and I had one cat on each chair for company, and one of the dogs, Kim, on the settee. My lovely long-haired ginger cat Tango,  would have been sitting on me if I had let him, but the piece I was working on made it just not possible, so he curled up beside me instead. Last night when I went in there I found Kim had got there before me and what's more, he was sharing 'his' settee with Paco. Normally they have a mutual respect for one another but keep their distance, so it was a surprise to see them (almost) curled up together.

I said last week that I had started a piece of knitting. Although I have almost given up knitting large garments because they hang too heavy on the needles, I am hoping this yarn is light enough for me to manage in small doses. It is a chunky mix that I bought in huge 200g balls at Hobbycraft when I was in UK recently. The natural colouration of the yarn means it is knitting up almost stripey, but I am not going to attempt to match the stripes on the other pieces. It will all be used as it comes. The main pattern is a simple double moss stitch, and I am using bamboo needles. I have not got on with them very well before, but they are recommended for people with arthritis so I thought I'd give them another try, and so far they are fine. I am making a fairly shapeless slouch jacket, but it is coming up a little tighter than I was expecting, but I have a feeling it is going to stretch with use so I don't want it to start off too big.
Knitting is nice and easy for me to do if I am watching TV, but when I can concentrate more I have been working on this mandala, and last night I finished it. I just love it.
The pattern was released in three parts as a CAL (Crochet Along) by an Australian lady called Emily, and it is called Connie's Ray of Hope. It was designed in memory of a lady called Connie Johnson, who finally lost her battle after three bouts of cancer. Her brother Samuel wrote an inspirational blog post about her journey, and from that, the mandala was born. I chose to make mine in Christmas colours, and it will make a bright spot hanging on my wall throughout the festive season. It was a fairly complex pattern, but well within the capabilities of most crocheters, but I have to say the last four rounds, from where it was attached to the ring onwards, were very difficult. The galvanised steel ring is 350 mm - approx.14 inches, in diameter, so the finished mandala is around 430mm, so it was stiff and unwieldy to hold, and my poor shoulders and hands were complaining mightily this morning, but they have settled down now and I am so glad I persevered and got it finished.

My other project for this week was a final effort to get Christmas cards made. I ended up getting quite carried away, and made a run of 35 cards, all using the same image, printed and hand coloured, and then made into a card using a variety of papers, die-cuts and lots of glue. I can't show them yet as I will be using them for a Christmas card challenge at the end of the month. I now have enough made to get them all written, so I should be able to post my Uk ones before all the bank holidays start. We have three at the start of December, and I like to get mine posted before this disrupts the system and slows everything down.

When we set out with the dogs for their morning walk today, men were already at work trimming the trees that grow all along our road. The one by our gate looks really nice now. They have stayed so good considering the very small amount of soil they have in these wide, shallow containers. But I have to say, the maintenance department at the Town Hall deserve full marks for the way they look after our streets. In another couple of weeks there will be poinsettias planted around the base of the trees to add some colour as well.

We have had such lovely clear skies this week, but with little or no cloud, there has not been any notable sunsets. But as I glanced out of the window yesterday evening, the sky was such a beautiful colour. It went from a muted golden through pink, purple and  then indigo. I tried to catch it on the camera, but this doesn't really do it justice. It is the best I could get though, so I am using it anyway! How peaceful is that?!
Now it is time to link up with Annie's Friday Smiles and Rocking Your World, and I'll see you all again next week.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Rocking Your World 2017: Week 45

Here is what has made me smile today. As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, our sixteen year old grandson Amias was chosen to be one of the front bench speakers in the House of Commons Youth Parliament. This is a real achievement as there are hundreds of YMPs from all over England, Scotland, Wales and N.Ireland, and only around 20 were chosen for the front bench. He was sent on a residential weekend in London last month, to prepare for it, and they were each given the role of 'For', 'Against' or 'Summation' for one of the five subjects to be debated about. The topics were voted for by young people all over the country. I am not sure whether they had any choice about which they were given, but Amias was to give the summarization speech at the end of the debate on LGBT rights.

Well the Youth Parliament sat today. It was the ninth time it has taken place in the House of Commons, and was led wonderfully by Mr Speaker (John Bercow) himself. So as it was shown on Live Parliament TV, you can guess how I have spent most of my day. We can only get that station via Chris's computer, so we made ourselves comfortable in his study, and prepared for a day of watching. As it happened, the LGBT Rights, was the first debate, so we didn't have to wait too long to hear Amias. We could see him for most of the time, because he was seated centrally so he was behind most of the speakers.

His speech itself was clear, passionate and well presented. It earned him a standing ovation and some genuine, good remarks from Mr Speaker. We are very proud grandparents!
If anyone is interested in hearing him you can click on THIS link. It should take you to his 'moment of glory'. I tried it out on my sister this afternoon and it worked for her. The recording starts a few seconds before Amias is introduced, and lasts for about four minutes.

Well that is the excitement for this week.
The other happy event was when, on Wednesday, we were finally able to pick up our 'new' car. It has taken several months to sort out the paper-work to complete this deal. It isn't new at all, and is, in fact, only three years younger than our other one, but it has 90,000 on the clock compared with the 300,000 on ours, and has had one careful owner, so it is a lot tidier and more reliable than our overworked old lady. I am not one of those folk who can jump in any car and drive it, so Chris has taken me out a few times in daylight, while I get used to a very different feeling clutch and gears, and he drove me when I had to go out after dark. But I know I will soon get used to it. I need to, as I do most of the driving! And it is a nice dark navy blue. I was so fed up with having a silver car. There are so many of them out here. It will be a while before I remember to look for a blue one in the supermarket carparks though.

I mentioned last week that I should have been at a coffee morning last Friday but was unable to attend because my hospital appointment was brought forward. But I sent some items over to my friends house. Unfortunately the event was less successful than usual because so many folk were unable to attend due to ill health and other reasons. I guess it is that time of year when change-of-season colds are rife etc. So there were not enough people to man the stalls properly, nor as many visitors.  But some of my little bits were sold, and I took the rest to my sewing group on Wednesday and sold the rest. Putting together money raised from pre-sales of our jam and pickles, and the cards the Jasmine makes, plus the money taken on the day, we did raise around 300€ for our church funds, plus around 30€ for my chosen charity Greenfields Africa, who always get a cut from any money that I make. So in the end it was quite a good result. I also made some sweet little hearts with a Bible text on them and some tiny roses, but I forgot to take a photo of one before I sold them all!

Back in the summer you may remember that I bought a huge jar of jelly beans to put in the favour boxes I made for our son's wedding. This left me with the jar which is really rather nice, and I had an idea of how to use it to raise some more funds. So I lined it with white tissue paper and filled it with bags of sweets and nuts and other Christmas treats. Then I decorated the side with reindeers, trees, snowflakes  and icicles cut from vinyl, using my silhouette cameo machine.
I added a large shiny snowflake on the lid.
Then I printed out a treasure map that I found on the internet, and covered it with a 9x8 grid. I am asking everyone to pay 1€ to write their name on a square, so if I sell all the squares I will have 72€. I have sold 50 so far, and I am sure I can sell a few more after church on Sunday. (I can't show the map because it has people's names and phone numbers all over it!). Then on the 1st December I will use a random number generator to find out where the treasure is buried and someone will go home with a nice jar of Christmas treats. It has raised far more than it would have done if I had tried to just sell it as a jar of sweets, so I do have a good idea occasionally!

And that is really all I have for this week. I have started a good book which means I won't get much else done until I have finished reading it, and I have also started knitting a jacket for me, with wool that I bought in Hobbycraft when I over in UK. It is a long time since I did any knitting and I said I wouldn't make any more adult size garments as they are too heavy on the needles for my shoulders. But this is chunky yarn but very light, and so far so good. I will take a photo of my progress next week.

Here is a picture that I took last night of our little cat Luna. She is a skinny, independent little campo-cat, (what in UK we call a 'moggy'), who, in the summer, only comes in for food. Now it is cooler she sometimes curls up on a chair in the evenings, but she is not a great one for fuss and cuddles.  She was late coming in for her food last night and I was standing over her waiting for her to finish eating before I shut her in the kitchen and went to bed. As I was standing there I was struck by the perfect symmetry of her markings. I don't often get quite that view of her, but she really does match side to side, so I took a photo of her without her realising.

So now I will leave you with another photo of my butterfly that I showed last week. We have had some nice sunny mornings, and she has been back to visit my bougainvillea  most days. Again I failed to get a photo of her with her wings wide open, but I liked the sharpness of the butterfly against the unfocused leaves in this one, and the blue sky behind it is lovely, so I am sharing it anyway!

And now I will link up with Annie's Friday Smiles and Rocking your world, and I'll see you all next week.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Rocking Your World 2017; Week 44

Considering this has been a fairly busy week, I have very little to write about, and few pictures, but I will start with my little smile. 

I stood in the kitchen calling Tango for ages, and he didn't appear, and then I turned round and there he was, sitting under a little stool I keep out there, just like the little divo he is. Totally unconcerned about me calling him. Perhaps he thought he was on TV!

Well the week got off to a good start with a choir concert on Saturday evening and a repeat performance on Sunday afternoon. This year we off-set our all black trousers and tops with a purple/multi-coloured scarf draped across one shoulder and tied behind us. The concerts were well attended and we all thoroughly enjoyed taking part. Usually we sing to raise money for a charity, and this time it was Fundraising in Arboleas, Caring for Everyone (F.A.C.E.). This photo was taken from their page as I didn't get any myself.
Over the two days we raised 1,100€ for them, which we, and they, were very pleased with.

For the rest of the week I have been busy designing my calendar to sell at church over the next few weeks. This was an excellent fund-raiser last year. I hadn't decided whether or not to do one this year, but I had several requests for one so I had a go. I wanted a prototype ready for a coffee morning today so people could see it and place orders. I now have orders for the first 15 and I know there will be more when I take it into church on Sunday. 
This year I have based it on illustrated verses from the book of Psalms, and I have used mostly my own photographs, and a variety of photomasks, and other elements in Adobe photoshop, to make each page. Here is the page for September to show you what I mean. I wonder whether my sister Jean will recognise the photo. I took it in Poole when I was staying with her last Autumn. 
Because I was expecting to have a table at my friend's coffee morning today, I have also been busy making a few little items to sell. I have already shown you the lace bells and lavender ladies in previous posts, so here are some little fabric angels I made, using an idea I saw on the internet. I made two more in two shades of blue after this photo was taken.
As it turned out I couldn't go today because a hospital appointment I had for 13th November was brought forward to today. So Chris and I drove over to Jasmine's house yesterday to deliver my items, and this morning we went over to the hospital in Almeria. Fortunately I took a friend from Columbia to translate for me. I could have talked to the doctor about the problems I am having, but I would never have understood his rapid explanation and advice. It is nothing too serious; all to do with the arthritis in my shoulders and neck - just problems that come with getting older!  But now I shall have a lot of X-rays and an MRI scan and then see him again early in the new year.
As we drove back from Jasmine's house last night, the light was fading and all along the motorway we watched this lovely sunset on our right.
And at the same time, a huge moon was rising to our left. I tried to take a photo of that as well, but I only had my phone with me and the camera on that was not up to the job. So when I got home, by which time it was quite dark, I took this one, just because it was so beautiful.
I'll close with two photos from the garden. We rarely see a butterfly out here which I am quite sad about, but for this month there are a few around. Mostly they are like the white cabbage butterflies in UK though there is no cabbage for them here. But on Sunday, I went to church as usual and then I had about an hour to 'waste' before going to our choir concert. That is not long enough for me to go home and come back so I took a packed lunch, and because I fancied a quiet hour to myself, I took it to eat up at the fuente beyond the church. It was really peaceful there, and as I ate my lunch I watched the usual white butterflies flitting around, and down almost at ground level, there were loads of tiny brown ones. I had never seen those ones before and it was fascinating to watch them. But yesterday Chris called me to see a much bigger one on our bougainvillea. It was so pretty and rather than flitting around, it sort of glided. I tried so hard to get a photo of it, but it saw me every time I moved, and kept flying on. This very poor picture is the only one I got! But it is enough to see how big, and how lovely it was.
Here in Spain, a butterfly is 'una mariposa'. I think that has a lovely ring to it.
And finally here is my pot of lavender. I planted these back in the Spring, and they did quite well this summer. They died right down after that, but suddenly they have had a new lease of life, and are again covered in flowers. A lot of people out here have lavender plants on their patios because they are supposed to deter the flies. I can't say I have noticed that, but they smell lovely, and I am glad my plants are still thriving.
So that is it for this week. Now it is time to link up with Rocking Your World and Annie's Friday Smiles.