Casa Rosales

Casa Rosales

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Four years

Four years have passed since we moved into our house here in Villalobos. In some ways - as we all say - it seems to be only yesterday when we packed up our things yet again and drove out in the drizzle to the countryside. It was such an exciting day...

The lovely table didn't survive.....it collapsed sometime last year.

The garden in its original wild state

Romy happy in the silly little doorway...now reformed to full height!
Four years on and there has been a lot of work. It's involved digging up existing parts, adding new bits, rather a lot of concrete and huge amounts of toil, mainly by FR but with help from the boys on the more back-breaking things!


There has been a lot of planting, building of walls and the placing of strategic electrical points in preparation for summer living....
Lots of trees....walnut, almond, cherry, nectarine, plum, pear,,,,
There's still a lot to do but FR's vision is taking place. I keep putting bulbs every year - slowly but surely our garden is starting to bloom.

I don't have a lot of time for gardening 'proper' but Mateo is a good helper and a brilliant weeder...I'm looking forward to getting the front of the house done...it's still the original ugly concrete that was here when we moved in. In time, it will be a beautiful terrace and additional living space, with furniture and plants and nice things. In time. 

And today, I have just taken a walk down memory lane as I dropped Romy off at her friend's house, which is the house we lived in before we moved here! It's such a beautiful day that I decided to do my old, favourite walk (though sadly without my favourite little white ball of fur that was Darwin....) up through the pine trees to La Mota, glad that there was no one around to hear my panting and puffing as I plodded up the steep hill. About halfway up, I heard a band playing. Practising for Semana Santa. It was lovely to listen and as I got to the top, I could see that they were rehearsing carrying the platforms that in a couple of weeks will be topped with figures of Christ, the (various) Virgins, plus donkeys, flowers, other figures - making them very heavy indeed. Today though, from an onlooker's point of view, it looked like a large table with about 20 people underneath it, who from time to time, lifted it up onto their shoulders and 'processed' a distance to the music, then stopping for a break. 

The glorious view from the top towards the snow-capped Sierra Nevada in the distance. The playground is new. 
As is this 'recontstructed', in a wonderfully minimal sense, church at the foot of La Mota. 

It really was a gloriously bright and sunny day on Sunday.

My photo is embarrassingly bad - I didn't manage to capture the 'table' or really even the people underneath - and you can't see the band that was just around the corner...I felt a little rude taking photos of a rehearsal. Perhaps I shouldn't have bothered at all!
Anyway - it was a slightly comical sight but will be impressive in a week or so from now once the processions start.

Four years ago, blogging was an integral part of my life. I could hardly carry out any activity without thinking how my blog post would accompany its description. Nowadays, I rarely write and rarely read blogs....and with a few notable exceptions, I think many of my blogging friends must feel a bit the same. It's too easy now to upload a photo to Facebook or Instagram and be done with it. I also have less free time than I had for writing. My free time is usually spent drawing my Zentangles. I am more addicted to this than ever! Partly, this is because every Friday evening, since last October, I have been giving a class to a growing group of, mainly, women at one of the local social centres in Alcala la Real. There is huge enthusiasm and more than a little talent amongst this group and I'm going to show a little of our work here...even though I have a blog and a Facebook page devoted entirely to tangling. 'Being Here', for me, is about being part of the town I live in and apart from my children, Zentangle is a thing that has brought me more into the community than almost anything else.



Our classes are informal and we practice different patterns.
Outside the class, people also tangle - and bring in their various artistic endeavours each week. And each week, they are more impressive. They really keep me on my toes!




Note, for example, the beautifully decorated box on the right - absolutely stunning work by Aurora. You can see some of her 'practice' work, albeit a bit blurred, in the notebook she's working in.
She's really very good.
























This is a final set of tiles, done in the last half an hour of the class. There is a peace and tranquillity that descends at this time that is incredible. A room full of women - Spanish women for the main - and silence. Beautiful, eloquent silence as we slip into a Zen state of concentration and creativity.






































And this is in my English teaching classroom - sometimes the drawing creeps into an English lesson. I have one group of young teenage girls and it's a special treat for us all when we have a lesson devoted to the language of Zentangle!























And whilst I started off this post by saying that it seems like only yesterday that we moved house, looking back now, and seeing how life has changed and developed in these four years...it seems like we have done a lot and moved on even more, not forgetting those we have lost.

Life has changed in many ways for us all. What were you doing four years ago?

Axxx

Saturday, 4 March 2017

Al azar.....

Since the summer last year, at the invitation of a great women's association here in Alcala, I've been giving Zentangle classes on a Friday evening. I think we have around 25 people, mainly women, who come regularly, either to the beginners or the advanced classes, I often leave the house feeling quite tired after a long week, but invariably, I am rejuvenated when I arrive home a few hours later.

Al azar is a 'Spanish' phrase which I recently discovered and which has made my Friday evening's teaching SO much easier all of a sudden. 'Azar' is not originally a Spanish word, as you may imagine. It seems to originate in Persia, is found in Arabic (which is probably how it entered Spanish) and is quite common in Hebrew too. It can mean chance, fate, bad luck, 'Al azar', however, means randomly, frivolously or by chance. This is the meaning I need in my classes.

The point being that I became ridiculously excited when I discovered this phrase, because my alternative was a very long word that I could never remember...aleatoriamente ....but which I need to use very often during the classes to explain - 'make random dots on the paper'. Random is one of my favourite words - and indeed, concepts. Doing or thinking things 'at random' sparks my imagination and can set me on a wonderful path of discovery - finding something by chance is so exciting. It's one of the things I love in teaching and in my drawing. You never know where you'll end up or what you'll end up with.

It's how writing my blogposts go. I sit down with an intention in mind but many of my posts take a direction of their own at the production of a random word that triggers a set of thoughts.
I'm labouring the point. I'll stop.

I was on my way home today from taking Romy to a friend's birthday celebration. It has been raining quite a lot in the past couple of days so I was quite surprised to see a neighbour out and walking up the hill, still at some distance from her house. I stopped and asked if she wanted me to take her home, but she grinned and said no, she liked walking in the rain. She was wearing her dressing gown. Couldn't see her feet. But she did look very happy! Just thought I'd share.

A couple of weeks ago now, the wife of Edward Bond died. Edward is FR's guide, mentor and friend and he knew Elisabeth personally. At random, he opened a book of Bond's poetry a few days later, only to find the poem, 'She died'. FR was genuinely moved by this chance occurrence.

Strange random things sometimes encourage us to look for patterns in life. I'm not saying we always find them but there is a sense of reassurance for me that today - 4th March - is the birthdate of my great grandmother and FR's father. And that both our sets of parents got married on the 10th June - which is also the birthday of my oldest and closest friend. They make little links in our lives. Randomly, of course.

I was surprise, however, that at our last Zentangle class, we were discussing very briefly at the end about maybe contacting a qualified teacher who lives in Madrid to see if she would come down and do a class with us. I sent her a message once - in August 2014 - just after she had done the Zentangle teacher's course in Rhode Island. She sent me a very nice reply the next day but since then, we have had no contact. So imagine my surprise when, last Saturday morning, I got a message from her asking me for my email address! Random or what??


This is the Zentangle pattern that sparked my need for the word 'random' in Spanish. It starts off with a set of random dots on the page which are then joined together with five lines. So simple and so effective - I use it sometimes with my English students if I ever get on to the subject of Zentangle...by chance, of course!

Random questions make great conversation topics in my English classes. It's incredible how an unexpected question or statement can spark several memories or thoughts in people's heads. No need to worry about a language barrier if people really want to speak. Recently one of the best random questions was 'How would the world be different if animals could speak?....It really got my 13 year old students talking and made many of them think deeply about eating meat, visiting zoos and protecting the environment.

Quite out of the blue, I got a message last night from my nephew, Will. Several years ago, I bought him a wooden box for his birthday. It had a dragon on it and it caught my attention for him as he often uses the name 'Wishdragon' when online - a lovely name in itself - so the box seemed perfect. Being Will, I suspect he was a tad bemused at receiving an empty box but it made him think how he could put it to use. I am so delighted with what he came up with...a musical box, complete with the roll and beautiful tune he composed himself. Hope you enjoy this.






I will randomly end at this point, stopping only to say - do share any random thoughts or ideas you might have at this moment!

Thank you!
Axxx