Casa Rosales

Casa Rosales

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Is it May? Then I think it must be Wednesday

...although I confess to not being entirely sure.

Sleepless poor mum is having a few of those but today, Dad seems calmer and less angry. It's not a rosy picture by any means as the additional drugs have made it impossible for him to stand - not even with two people aiding him. He's really confused timewise, though sharp as a needle on things like playing dominoes and answering general knowledge questions. Mum's hoping for some physical assistance in the shape of a hoist and a different bed because she wants to manage at home just as long as possible. We'll have to see how long that is and how things go on a daily basis.

Sleepless nights...I came home from work last night around 8.30pm and as I got out of the car, Pippin came skulking up to the gate ...on the outside, not the inside. I looked around to see if Mateo had just been out for a walk with him but there was no sign. And then I saw his front leg....a big, open wound just around the 'elbow' area, a gash that split the skin to the flesh below. Turns out Mateo had taken him out not long after I left at 5pm and as usual, let him off the lead in the surrounding olive groves but Pippin had caught his leg on a rusty old piece of wire. Initially, Mateo had managed to pick him up to carry him home but Pip was so frightened that he got free and ran off. For three hours, Mateo and the neighbours were looking for him to no avail. There were tears of relief to see him again as shades of Darwin hung over everyone. It was a costly trip to the vet as we arrived out of hours, but she managed to stitch him up and sort him out and I feel sure it will all be OK - though Pip is not keen on his large plastic collar! He did make quite a lot of noise during the night once he woke up from the anaesthetic, hence my night of not much sleep. 

Pip on Sunday - 5 months old now

With Ruy 

This morning, a big squished in his cage but the place he feels safest in.
 I lost count of how many stitches he has

Yes, a bit sorry for himself and not impressed with his collar!

When Mateo, Pip and I got home, there was another surprise awaiting. Whilst doing some work up near the vine, FR had to move what he thought was an old nest...only to discover three little birds inside doing their 'Sing a Song of Sixpence' impression. Worried that the parents would reject them once the nest had been removed, he, Ruy and Romy were busy feeding their hungry little beaks and preparing a place to keep them. So cute - I do hope they survive. I feel so sorry for their parents who have done such a good job so far. Keep your fingers crossed.
Three little blackbirds

Sensing a presence

And opening wide in anticipation!

And the garden? Well, today, we have a miserable, damp and overcast sort of day where everything is wet from the humidity in the air, rather than rainfall so not much work. It was all hands on deck at the weekend though and good to know I have two strong boys willing and able to help out - one slightly more so than the other at the moment. It's important for me to stress here that we are just doing some minor gardening work, of course. Minor. Gardening. As you can see. 

Ruy avoiding photograph....

Just minor work, you understand

As always, our neighbours were wonderful during the Pip crisis and our thanks are with them. And to top it off, Sergio came round with a great bowl of cherries and strawberries. 

And not everything in the garden is - in a minor way - being turned upside down. 

Some parts are positively rosy and our hens are working overtime on the egg front! 

Wonderful scented jasmine outside the lounge window...

Wild flowers in the wild bits...

And we are not Casa Rosales for nothing...with yellow


red roses blooming
(despite the minor gardening work....)

And VERY briefly, talking about work....I'm suddenly finding myself very busy with my teaching. I have three classes that begin at 8am and it's this early start, combined with my sleepless night, that means I am doing double not just on the day but almost the month! May has barely begun for me despite the fact it's June on Sunday! 

Where does the time go??

Saturday, 24 May 2014

One helluva week....

This week my group classes began and my first one was on Monday evening at 6.30. I admit to feeling just a tad nervous before I went in but that disappeared as soon as I met everyone. The time whizzed by and we had lots of laughter and lots of conversation as the group all had a reasonable level of English. And on Tuesday evening, at the same time of day, I had another group, a bit more advanced but a bit more reserved. I had to work a little harder with them but I feel sure it will go well. And each group have another hour and a half on Wednesdays and Thursdays...

My relationship with mornings was tested as well this week as my third group have their hour-long classes on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at 8am. That's eight o'clock in the morning if you didn't quite take it in at first reading. That's early. And this group is all men and all with a fairly basic level of English but again, the time flew by and by the end of the first lesson, they could all remember how to pronounce 'J', 'G' and 'R' and by the end of the third lesson, they were having short conversations and spelling words out correctly.

I also have hour long lessons with some of the senior managers and I am enjoying the conversations very much. At one of the sessions, I realised we were discussing information systems and the collection and production of statistics...all my 'old' work interests and that was extremely interesting and only by a whisker did I stop myself from offering to take on the job of designing a reporting system for the production department!

And at home...well, we're becoming accustomed to the total destruction of our garden. FR has fashioned some steps to reach the outhouse and the garden gate and has also created a little raised flower bed area. He's also had some iron bars made to fix to the wall so we can put up some canopies for summer shade. We've had various men round to give us quotes to do the work and so I expect more action before long. For now, it's been all hands on deck...oh, perhaps that should read all male hands on deck as neither Romy nor I have had much to do with it so far.

Mateo is very happy these days too as our lovely English neighbour has done him the biggest favour she could....she asked if he could do a few hours work in her garden for which she is paying him. And he's delighted - not just with the money, which is fantastic for him - but with actually doing the gardening. And it's come at the right time for him as he now has found himself a girlfriend. It's just lovely to see him so happy, although as she lives in another village some distance from town and even more from us....a 40km round trip..which is of course, 80km there and back twice! I am encouraging him to meet her in town when he can, though I really don't mind the journey. There are no buses after school time so unless their parents help out, they could be doomed from the start!

However, not everything is going well for everyone. My dad, who had a stroke 10 years ago, has been most unhappy and difficult with my mum since she returned from her visit here. Things came to a bit of a head yesterday and I had a call from my sister to say it looked as though he might not be able to stay at home any longer. She and Mum were waiting for a visit for an assessment. I was concerned enough to be looking for a quick flight home but although I could find a flight to Manchester today, I couldn't find one to return. However, Judy called me a little later after the visit and said that they had managed to sort a few things out. Dad had agreed he would take some more medication - he'd been refusing to and had not been sleeping and spending much of the night shouting and being very disruptive during the past couple of weeks - so that he could stay at home for at least a bit longer. He's completely unable to control his feelings of anger and frustration but understands that his behaviour is making it impossible for Mum to look after him. He knows he doesn't want to be in a home and that the medication he's being given should help them both to manage life at home.

It's very sad. I'm phoning my mum most days and my sister, who is brilliant at dealing with Dad's unrealistic requests, is giving all the support she can. Between us, we can only try to do what we can. I'm going to England with the children in July and Mum said it would be silly to come beforehand as really, I can't change anything. But it doesn't stop me wishing I could. I'm glad to say that least both Mum and Dad had a good night's sleep last night for the first time in a while. That has to help.

So it's been a week of taking the rough with the smooth; being grateful for the good things and dealing with the bad things. Just keep swimming!

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Just so you know...

Juan came back whilst I was out teaching on Friday afternoon. He dug some more.

This is how our door looks now....

From the inside...

We had wanted to bring the outside down so that we didn't have two steps down into the kitchen. I would have been happy with ONE step down into the kitchen, but Juan and FR decided it would be nice if it were all level.

Obviously, we need a new door anyway.

But at the moment, we have to jump out of the house and scramble up a good metre to the outside loo/washing machine room/dog food store/vacuum cleaner store...most useful things store actually!
It bothers me slightly that the house seems to be held up by a car jack....

Just need to get it all sorted out by Wednesday - storms are predicted.

Friday, 16 May 2014

Work has commenced....

FR announced earlier this week that Juan the Digger would be coming on Friday. I knew something was afoot because he - and Ruy - had been drilling holes in the concrete in front of the house. It's in FR's nature to play things by ear (including the trumpet) and he really does believe that if we once talked about how we'd like the front of the house and the garden to look, then that is 'it'! No need to revise, clarify, check....And apparently we have had the definite discussion already....shame I can't really remember it.

SO! It was 'quite interesting' this morning when I returned from teaching (which I'm loving and more about it very soon...) and found my garden in a state of disarray. To put it mildly!

You only have to look at the header picture on my blog to see that our 'garden' needs sorting. It slopes and there's a lot of ugly concrete and rubbly bits. But after a year, we'd sort of got used to it. 

By midday, it looked like this:

And at one point, I was a prisoner in the kitchen as this was outside:

This was a lot of digging Juan was doing.

 Bit from here, a bit from there - oh sod it, let's just trash the lot!

Well, apart from that bit in the long will that stay, I wonder?

And if there's anything exciting going on in the village, you can be sure Sergio will be along to get a closer look! He has four HUGE dogs - or at least I used to think they were huge. Pippin is about as big as two of them but not quite as big as the other two - yet! However, by this time, a lot of the rubble and mess had been cleared away and there is the vague sign that it might all actually be day!

This is not the last you'll hear about this....but I'm taking this one day at a time. Juan will be back at 10 in the morning. There may be more photos....including the one of how our door looks now! You may laugh.

Sunday, 11 May 2014

My name is NOT Earl....

Blog post disclaimer:  I do know that bad things happen to good people. I don't think life is always fair. I wish there were a formula.
That said, please read this slightly tongue-in-cheek post....and allow me to enjoy what I see as my good luck and good fortune.

Karma....very simply is the idea that if you do good things, good things will happen?

And vice versa.

Well,  I'm not sure I am a 'believer' as such but it seems to be a reasonable premise by which to live your life.
I have a standing joke with FR about Karma when we set off to go into town.

If HE is driving, we will meet a tractor, be almost forced off the road by an incompetent aged citizen coming in the opposite direction, be stopped by a policeman, be sent on a detour, have to stop at every traffic light and zebra crossing and have every car in front of us travelling at an almost negative speed or taking an age to carry out a simple manoeuvre....Whereas, if I am driving, traffic lights automatically turn green as I approach, I'm waved on by policemen, cars wait for me to pull out.....get the picture?

I call this KARMA...I enjoy telling him that I don't believe everyone else on the road is an idiot with murderous intent or enjoy getting something over on another driver - as he does - and I am treated with due respect and consideration as a result.

I exaggerate, of course. A bit.

The Earl that I am not, in the title of this post, is a reference to a TV programme called 'My name is Earl'. A man who felt the bad things he'd done in his past had caught up with him and were causing him lots of bad luck in the present. So he makes a list of all the people he had been bad to with the intention of putting things right with them and so negate his bad Karma. It was a very funny series and I loved it!

I said I'd tell you some big news a little while ago. And I will - it's big for me though not so big for anyone else, of course. But it struck me that it was also a little bit of Karma too.

When I first met Sam I was working at the Interlengua Academy and had just had my hours extended and my contract improved. I was very happy with this. At the same time, I was offered some work with one of the main companies in town - Derprosa - to hold English conversation classes with some of the managers and key staff who needed to use English on the phone and for business purposes. It was very well-paid work and required little in the way of preparation...a very tempting offer. And around this time I met Sam for the first time. She was urgently seeking work and I admit to feeling immensely 'good' when I passed her the contact details for the job at halo very nearly choked me. But it wasn't a totally selfless act. I had been told that the work would be evenings and as such, clashed with the contract with Interlengua...I felt I couldn't turn that work down after I'd been given such a good offer.

However, I almost choked again when Sam eventually started working there as it turned out she was asked to work mornings not afternoons!! Aaargh....

In the intervening couple of years -  when we moved to Villalobos and I resigned from Interlengua - I confess to thinking more than once that those hours of morning work that Sam had 'could' have been mine and would have been so wonderfully convenient. And of course, Sam had passed on lots of teaching hours to me too - she didn't enjoy teaching children; I did. She taught the adults and we were both happy.

Well, Sam has also paid me back in spades when she left to return to Scotland recently, by making it a straight-forward task for me to take up where she left off at Derprosa. My only concern was that I would have to become 'autonoma' or self-employed to take on the work and that is a big commitment as a fixed payment has to be made every month, regardless of what you earn. However, the company want more hours now as they have recently been taken over by a big multi-national company and English is the common language. I will be doing not 'part' time work, but 'half' time work....

I started on Thursday and think I may enjoy this new venture very much. I will be able to continue with my children's classes too for the most part as only a small part of the work is in the afternoon. I am very happy indeed and unutterably grateful to anyone or anything that played a part in making this situation possible - I will call it Karma.

I will also make sure I try to be very good to people I meet every day. You never know!


Sunday, 4 May 2014

Making and Doing

On the whole, we're a family that likes to make things, to do things and whilst we've spent a fairly dormant winter, when the sun comes out, it seems to stir all our creative juices and activity begins.

FR has arranged to have some frames made to provide shade both for the car and for the front of the house. This has resulted in us meeting Juan, who has a piece of land in Villalobos and does all types of metal work if he's asked nicely.  He's incredibly knowledgeable about plants and nature and told us off for having too much water in one of our pot plants...then told us exactly where we had to plant it. He showed us his barn or 'nave' across the valley and then let us into the secret of what he keeps there.....snails! Snails for eating, that he feeds a purely organic and natural diet, including peppermint, thyme, asparagus and other goodly sounding fodder. I don't like eating snails particularly but these sound like the Rolls Royce version and for a millisecond, I found my mouth was watering as he described their juicy succulence. I'll let you know if I succumb...

There has also been the marking of the ground in front of the house - strange lines have been carved out whilst Ruy, Romy and I were out with Pippin the other day. These are lines where a digger will come and trash the front of the house, digging down a good foot or so to allow us to have a proper door-sized opening into our house. At the moment, the door opens and you have to go down two steps to reach the kitchen floor level - anyone tall has to duck to get in and it's something that's annoyed FR since we moved in. So the outside of the house has to come down to reduce the difference between inside and out. It's not going to be an easy job and we're levelling the significant slope and putting down a decent patio at the same time. Could be a dusty summer!!

On Thursday, two of my English students came over. Rocio and Lucia are sisters and I have been teaching them English since last summer, when we had a great time learning nursery rhymes, playing with plastic food, reading books and generally enjoying ourselves.

We discovered a shared love of drawing and making crafty things - their mother is incredibly talented at making jewellery, sewing, knitting and crochet and the girls are equally gifted. I now focus their English class through something creative - we've made cards, painted masks, made Treasure Maps and all sorts of other things.

This week, as Thursday was Labour Day and a holiday, they came to me so we could paint and make as much mess as we wanted and to save me carting all my paint, ink, stamps and stencils to their house.

We've started Art Journals and Romy usually joins us as she's at the same school and they all get on well together. It was a lovely, happy and creative afternoon -  all in English too, even the trampolining!

It pleased me greatly that they spent time with me, painting and then after a spot of trampolining, they went up to Romy's bedroom and began drawing more things...

Yesterday, I bought myself a little wooden box in town and spent another very happy afternoon tangling it to keep my Zentangle pens in and I'm very pleased with the result!
Front and top

One side

And the other side
I did the back too, but perhaps you don't need to see all of it to get the picture!

Mateo got a guitar for Christmas and although progress is slow, I love listening to him practising and exploration of different chords. He has a good ear and makes some really nice sounds, although it's hard to convince him of that - I think he thought he'd find it easier than he does. It's a beautiful guitar and really does make a good sound - hopefully, he'll continue to practice and reach a stage where he can enjoy his own strumming.

Not to be outdone on the art stakes, Ruy produced a little work of art of his own - this is so typical of Ruy's sparse and precise style, I couldn't resist sharing it.
Love him!!

What inspires you to get out and make or do?

Thursday, 1 May 2014

How many beans make five?

Don't ask me why I've called this post 'How many beans make five?' because I really don't know! I just couldn't think of anything else and this little phrase just popped into my head....maybe there's a reason but it's not obvious just yet. (The answer, by the way, is 'a bean, a bean, a bean and a half, a half a bean and a bean'.)

I think it's because it's such a while since I posted and I have no single 'theme' for this one. I would have liked to tell you some 'big' news (well, biggish for me) but as yet, there isn't any! This is par for the course for Andalucia and how things are arranged here....but soon, there will either be some 'big' news or, of course, there won't!

It's been a busy few weeks and so bear with me as I give you a whistlestop tour of my world in pictures and just a few words.

I started painting with my Zentangles....

The beginnings of the Villa Family orchard...perhaps!

My four-month old 'puppy' on guard!
Signs that some work is beginning
(though after the cement went in, there's been no further progress just yet!)
My iris flowered!
We had Semana Santa and to my shame, I didn't go to a single procession! Romy and I went to Granada for a day and had a lovely time, including lunch...Romy's pizza was so big, she couldn't finish it!

Then after Semana Santa, my mum came! She came in a much more relaxed and healthy state than last time, when she was really tired out with looking after my dad. We had a lovely week, sitting in the garden, chatting, going out for lunch with the children and popping in to see Sam before she left.

There were lots of crosswords, but not between us!

Pippin was so good with her and didn't jump up or behave badly - and they got on like a house on fire.

The time went far too quickly though!
Having Mum to stay was good for another reason too as it did help take my mind off Sam and family leaving us for Scotland this week. We had a great get together with lots of her friends on Thursday night and all was jolly and fun until this photo was taken....

 ...when we gave each other a hug and immediately the tears began!! However, one week on and they are all safely back in Scotland; the girls have started school there and Sam starts her new job a little chapter has ended and a new one has begun. One day soon - a visit to Perth, I think! Means I can also visit another friend there at the same time...which is beginning to sound like an excellent plan.

So, lots of beans here - possibly a few more than five - but magical ones and ones that will be taking seed and growing and bringing new stories for my blog in time to come. (There, I knew I'd find a way to bring it together at the end!!)

And do forgive me if I have been absent from your blog in recent times...we're one computer down and I've been otherwise occupied - I shall be finding time to catch up, comment and get back into the swing of things again very soon.

Here, it's a 'bank holiday' so we have another four days of holiday before life gets back to normal again next Monday. Enjoy your May Days wherever you are.