Casa Rosales

Casa Rosales

Monday, 27 July 2015

Lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer

Yes, the song sung by Nat King Cole that I remember so vividly from my childhood. His voice, so easy, so hypnotic and smooth was one that my father, in particular, loved to listen to. My dad was not musical but I have two clear memories that relate him to the music he obviously loved and that we often heard at home when I was young - up to me being about 8, after which the fish and chip shop they bought and worked in wore my parents out to a frazzle and left them little time for listening.

The first of these memories is the singing of Nat King Cole. We had only a couple of his records but they were played a lot and I knew them all. At the time, I wasn't a fan of any of them, apart from the title of this post - which I thought was great fun and I loved those three rhyming words - lazy, hazy and crazy. The second memory is his love of Mario Lanza and his permanent regret that he missed going to a concert by him as he had an ear infection. I've done a bit of research and I think this must have been the concert in Sheffield in 1957. It would have been amazing and most memorable, I am sure. However, I never really grew very attached to this voice, although his power is undeniable.

Nat King Cole, however, has, in the intervening years, become utterly irresistible for me and I love just about everything he sings.

All this is totally irrelevant preamble - because this is my blog - to sharing a few photos and thoughts from our home and lives during these incredibly hot weeks we've been having. I know it hasn't been the same everywhere - some of you have been feeling damp or chilly at times - but it's been so very hot here for so long that I cannot remember what it's like to get up and not see bright blue sky and know that the temperature is going to be well into the 30s.

So - what do we do all day? Well, I have had a couple of weeks where I've been up early and off to work before the sun really starts to hit. It's been fantastic to arrive home and have a dip in the pool - even the little plastic one that we are still using. But the afternoons are when we have to have all the windows closed to keep the sun out, stay as cool as possible indoors and basically wait until around 7 or 8pm before we can start to do anything useful.... Afternoons here in Andalucia are for eating a very late lunch, watching silly films, having a siesta and probably doing some drawing.

Here are some of my Mandala/Zendalas - apologies if you've already seen these posted on Facebook but on here for posterity, or as long as there's a web and because I scanned some of them so the colours are truer to real life. A mandala is a circular drawing, often done in sand or rice, the process of creating it is partly spiritual and partly meditative. A Zendala is a combination of the circular format and the use of specific Zentangle patterns. I am absolutely hooked on creating these at the moment and can confirm that they really do focus the mind and help relaxation and concentration.

I had to laugh recently as I have another blog, Annie's Tangles, where I usually post all my drawings, Zentangles and challenge entries. I had a comment left on one of my posts from a blogging friend from this blog, who'd popped over for a look. I laughed because she said she thought I was speaking a strange language and was there a glossary? And looking at my other blog from a non-tangling point of view, I absolutely understand how she might have wondered what on earth we were all on about! Annie, for your information, it definitely takes a while to get to know all the right words, descriptions and technical terms...but hope you liked what you saw!

This was the first one I did and it took me ages because my usual pens didn't like drawing on top of the acrylic paint. I also wasn't sure what to do about the bit of canvas that the zendala didn't 'fit' - it being round and the canvas being rectangle. I decided to leave it as it was.

Then I found a canvas that I'd had for a while that was square. It is actually quite white in real life but as the canvas is 50 by 50cms it was too big to go in the scanner, so this is a photograph, done without any real photographic help - ie. taken on my phone in the kitchen! I also tried using a permanent marker, rather than my special Zentangle pens, plus white and gold gel pens . It is very finely detailed and quite pretty, I think.

Then I went and bought a couple of smaller canvases - 20 by 20cms - and prepainted them and I got on quite a roll....

I ran it through a Photo Editing programme to put the frame round it - but the scanner reproduced the colours really well - this is pretty much how it looks. What has impressed me is that I started with just three concentric circles in yellow, green and blue. The patterning makes it look more complicated than it really is. 

In this one, I painted and blended related colours - yellow/orange, yellow/green, green/blue, blue/red and red/orange on the canvas to begin with. Then I added a Zentangle 'frame' which you can see around the edge before doing a Zendala starting from the middle and moving outwards. 
And then, utterly inspired by colour, I decided to add some to a tangle I did quite a while ago, just for practice. Here it is in a photo edited frame. I have decided to go and get them framed in town and then I shall put them somewhere in my bedroom and enjoy looking at them.

OK - enough about drawing, painting and Zentangle....or is it????

There are three of mine just about visible in the sea...

Last week, we went to the beach for the day - all together - and decided to go left at the coast, rather than the usual right. We ended up in a lovely place called Calahonda - or rather a little area just before Calahonda called, very appropriately, La Perla de Andalucia - where the beach was clean and long and quiet and the sea was divine.

We wanted a pebbly beach as we had a plan....and the pebbles were spectacular - smooth, round, lots of white ones, lots of sparkly ones. Perfect pebbles.

I had a couple of pens with me, of course, and so now, someone sometime will probably find a smooth, round Zentangled pebble!

During the course of the day, we gathered three big bags of pebbles to put in the garden. However, when we got home and unloaded them, we only filled a quarter of the space - so we have to go back at least another three times!

And after a day on the beach, what did our children do when they got home? Went in the pool! I swear they'll grow fins and flippers before long.....

And our garden? We're definitely learning to live with the ugly floor. We have to, so we are doing. I bought some little mosaic solar lights and love them so much that each evening, at about 9.45, I go outside to count them all as they light up.

A close up of the colours and patterns - bought from Amazon, of course - and Amazon UK at that. How can it be that they are cheaper and the postage is less from there than buying them from Amazon Spain?? And not a bit less but a lot less!

I have them lined up along the terrace and also all around the curved part opposite and they do look lovely, although difficult to photograph with my phone. I may try and get some better shots with my proper camera - if I can remember how to use that... I'm very out of practice.

A few people around, 
but a quiet Paseo de los Alamos.

Did I say 'lazy'? Well, a bit of that, but quite a lot of 'crazy' too. We've had visits and sleepovers and Etnosur in the past couple of weeks. Etnosur, a big music festival held every year in Alcala la Real, seemed more subdued this year. Many local residents leave the town during this weekend but many others have opened their doors in the morning to find someone asleep  or cooking their breakfast on the doorstep...and perhaps have got a bit fed up of finding evidence of a lack of toilet facilities outside the houses. For the first time this year, a lot of wire fencing went up to protect park areas and streets from the visitors who come in camper vans or on the bus and doss down anywhere. They have been directed to designated parts of the town instead - but on the morning and evening when I went into town, the places that are usually packed with people, were very empty.

The shops and stalls around the edge of the park were also fewer than usual and without much custom.

The fountain is always a fun place to go
 and these are not locals, but there aren't many there.
The music was apparently quite good. Mateo went on Saturday night and was out all night. He said there was a real mixture of styles, including rock and African and he enjoyed it. However, we got there at about 2am, with Romy, Ruy, Jasmine and Isabel and there was some really awful music that we didn't like at all. This year, as usual, on the Friday night, we'd heard the distant sound of music in Villalobos. But the organisers had changed to position of the stage to face away from the town, instead of towards it and I was amazed as we walked down from the Paseo de los Alamos, at the top end of town, to the stage area as we simply couldn't hear anything at all! It must be such a relief for the local residents - it's one thing to have a free concert in town, but to not get away from it is quite stressful. I couldn't believe the difference it made. Wonder why it has taken 18 years for someone to think of this solution?

And so the summer continues and the 'hazy' comes from the rolling of one day into the next and then one week into the next. The children have already had one month of holiday - another six weeks to go. There are plans, not quite in place but in mind, to send the children up to their grandparents in Valladolid at the beginning of August, but first, there's the Medieval Festival at La Mota, here in Alcala this weekend and this year, our neighbour, Sergio, has succeeded in convincing the local council that an Archery competition is just what is needed to add authenticity to the event. So he and Ruy will be donning their costumes and taking on all comers...although actually, I have no idea what is planned. Maybe it will be a proper competition and maybe it will be the chance for visitors to fire a few arrows themselves. I will report back! Should be fun either way. Do come along if you're in the area, won't you? There is always some good fun activities for the children - last year organised by a friend of ours - and the food is excellent. And there could hardly be a better setting than the wonderful fortress castle in our historic town.  If you go in costume, it's free entry too!

A photo taken from a previous event that I found on the internet.

So - lazy, hazy or crazy - we definitely feel like it's summer at the moment.
What's the weather like where you are?

Friday, 17 July 2015

'Es una chapuza' or The Psychology of Disappointment

I had been planning a very different post. This time last week, we were watching the workmen in our garden, laying metres and metres of concrete in searing heat and feeling very sorry for them and grateful to them. But since then, I have felt differently.  I have felt disappointed.


My text won't go any bigger. 
As you may guess, there has been a bit of a cock up with our garden path. There is a wonderful word for it in Spanish....una chapuza. I will share a few photos of veritable 'chapuzas' that I have found on the internet. You'll get the idea immediately!

OK, these are chapuzas that lead to inconvenience and disbelief. But it sort of sums up the sense that a chapuza, at best, is a botched job; careless work, a 'made-do' thing. 
Or maybe something done without sufficient prior thought or knowledge. You get the idea.

The expectation of seeing the final work came to a height on Saturday morning. We heard Miguel arrive at around 7am and knew that he had to powerwash all the residual powder off the concrete and then seal it with resin, so we stayed in bed a little longer than usual so that we could emerge to see the finished result. I admit, I was very excited. And took a peek from the bathroom window to the area outside the door. 

And squealed with pleasure - it looked fantastic!

Just the lovely, soft neutral, natural colours that I had wanted. 

The rest, which was a slightly more sandy-colour with darker tints on top, could only be more impressive as there was so much more of it!

NO, NO, NO. Disaster. Terrible. Awful. Unimaginable. Horrible....I won't continue but I really couldn't believe my eyes. Instead of a gently weathered brick effect, my garden looked like a garage forecourt or a place where oily motorbikes had been whizzing around. Blotchy, obvious patches where the tint had been spread and hadn't gently dissolved into the concrete. Some of the patches were so dark and round that it really looked as though we'd be walking oil into house if we inadvertently stepped in them. Awful......and the disappointment that hit both FR and I was palpable. We could hardly speak.

Miguel, if he could, would have run away without speaking to us that morning, but we dragged him back. I just kept saying to him that surely there was something wrong; that this wasn't the effect he had expected to leave us with; that he must acknowledge there was a problem. He said very little but did that unique Mediterranean high-shouldered shrug, elbows bent and palms held upwards..and turned his mouth downwards almost further than a mouth can go. And then he left, muttering something about leaving it to dry a bit longer and that he'd return on Monday.

I have since been pondering on the psychology of disappointment. 
The strength of the disappointment is, not surprisingly, directly related to the expectation of outcome beforehand.  If the outcome exceeds expectation, then the reaction is very often elation or excitement. I had truly expected to be elated! There is a further stage too. Initially, I was left thinking that there would be a solution. That we could right this wrong and all would be well. The intervening time has proved otherwise. 

Miguel returned, not on Monday, but on Tuesday. FR had been doing his research and discovered that problems with this type of concrete and the colouring process can occur when the weather is too cold, too wet OR TOO BLOODY HOT! I guess the latter would apply to us. 

But how come the door section is so lovely?

Well, it was the first part that he did - earliest and coolest part of the day. Explains a lot. But Miguel, man of few words, either didn't think about it, didn't know about it, or didn't really care about it. Whichever, he's left us with a grubby and ugly expanse of concrete in our garden.

When he returned, he offered to put another layer of concrete over the top and recolour it, but FR was ahead of him - this is apparently the solution that is often offered but the result is usually worse than the original, so we declined. He then suggested digging it all up and relaying it - but finished off by say 'that would cost you a lot of money'. I didn't actually see FR's blood boil, but I think I heard it bubbling....

So, the psychology of disappointment. It comes with the final realisation that you don't have or can't get the thing you really wanted. And this in turn leads to facing reality. And we can do this in a variety of ways: anger, sadness or depression being three common options or routes. 

We did a bit of all three between us, me and FR. I even felt ashamed - I have been thinking of putting up a sign...'Please forgive our awful driveway, it isn't our fault.'

We've done lots of other things as well. I've been out and scrubbed some of the patches with a bit of wire wool. The patch came out - hurray! - but so did the top layer of concrete and the resin finish....
FR set upon a slightly hidden patch with an electric sander and had pretty much the same result, only with more concrete removed....we've spoken to a solicitor and the insurance company and sent photos to the product company. 

There isn't really much we can do....

SO - do you want to see it??? This is the hardest part for me. But this is where the psychology of disappointment and one's own personal psychological type comes into play. I have today been into work and for the first time, opened up about what happened. I told two different people about it - and showed them some photos. And it helped me SO, SO much. 

How can that be? Well, possibly because I am an extrovert and an optimist and hate 'bottling up' my feelings. I feel better for letting out my frustration and disappointment. I'm not really angry. I have felt sad. But as I drove home, I realised that I felt better. 

OK. Here are some of the worst bits!!

FR is not an extrovert and often gets very angry over what I consider to be unimportant things but on this great big thing, he's been so cool and rational and positive that I am assessing him all over again....again. And when I got home, feeling better and more optimistic that between us, we could find a way to put this right...he had come to exactly the same conclusion. I don't want to put any details here - too public. But watch this space...

And taking the long view. Well, the overall effect is that things look and feel much better than they did - if you don't look too closely, of course.

The 'gap' in the middle is to be filled with white stones and provides a
drainage section - assuming that one day, it will rain, of course!

View from the gate - which needs to be rehung.
The steps down need finishing too.
And in the distance on the right, you can see we've now got the little old pool up - an absolute necessity in this weather - and at least it's a pleasure to walk out to it now.

And now, I don't actually feel disappointed as such. I feel rather proud of how we've managed our disappointment. Hey, aren't we lucky - another learning opportunity!!

However, I absolutely BEG of you not to sympathise with me over this. By all means, leave me a comment as to how you think we could disguise the mess, add features that distract the eye, etc. The way I can get over it is to move on. It's not the end of the world and my sense of humour is still intact. And we have found great comfort in the fact that we didn't pay for ALL of it upfront.....

(Of course, if all else fails, I will simply Zentangle over the whole lot of it!!)

Friday, 10 July 2015

Melting point

There's a heat wave or three hitting Europe at the moment - if you didn't already know.

Captured by a friend of ours 

We've been on yellow and red alert in this area for the past two weeks and now there are several serious forest fires in Jaen and neighbouring provinces.

...not far from where he was holidaying

About 116 degrees F...

Record highs have been hit this month and on the date/weather displays in cities like Cordoba and Sevilla, there have been figures that seem impossible.  Suffocating.

Here in Villalobos, it's been around 38 degrees C (or 100 degrees F) most afternoons and the nights have remained quite hot until the very early hours of the morning. Sleep is easiest in the afternoons in our cool, thick-walled house. With the fan on. Fortunately, we haven't had to use air-conditioning but the pisos in the town will definitely have needed theirs on almost non-stop to keep the heat at bay.

It hasn't hindered the amazing Miguel and his little team from battling on at our house. FR had eventually arrived at a point in the garden where we could arrange to have a proper floor put down. Masses and masses of work he's put in over the past year - and at times, I have been guilty of wondering what the heck he was doing, (yes, I admit it) but now, the method in his ways are clearly visible. We're going to have a fantastic garden...

As yet, it's not quite finished. In this searing heat, Miguel has been arranging the pouring of concrete across the prepared areas, colouring it with powders and then stamping patterns on it. I will share a couple of the photos as things are - the 'final' photos will follow next week. ('Final' because as you will see, there is still plenty for us to do to finish off what we've started here....)

Trapped indoors as I took this photo....the first section going down.
FR keeping his beady eye on things!

View from Ruy's bedroom window of the area that was next in line for a cemented layer.
(Why is it in black and white, I wonder?)

With the colours mixed but not finished yet.....

Still impossible to imagine the finished look, though I guess it will be a sort of random mix of these two colours.....
There was a bit of an issue about the colours....this colour here is 'Crema' - although I swear to all and sundry that we finally chose a colour called 'Corcho', which is 'cork', I wanted it a bit darker and more neutral than I thought the Crema colour would be, so when I came home and saw this, I had a mini-apoplectic fit! However, it was already done and as it's going to end up different from its 'naked' state here, I am sure it will be fine - and if not, then SO much better than the way it was before! It won't be either grey OR sand-coloured when it is finished.

The colour in front of the door is a bit warmer but we didn't want the whole garden a warm colour - rather one that wouldn't emphasis the heat!

But my, how the men have worked. From 7am until around 12, with the temperature rising above 30C before 9am. It's going to make such a difference to our house and I can hardly wait to see it when they have put the resin coat down and then power-washed off all the excess coloured powders. But I have to wait until Monday!!

Then, the plan is to put out the small pool that we had last year and the year before, in its usual place. In the autumn, in good time this year, FR will finalise the arrangements for a bigger pool for the coming year. Now we have decided on its situation and the land around it is prepared and flat. It will be further away from the house, but takes advantage of the huge amount of land that we have and as yet don't really make use of. Slowly, slowly...we will get there.

And, at risk of making this a much longer post than I intended, I just want to mention that last week, my darling husband reached the ripe old age of 50. We celebrated in the most muted style imaginable with just a good dinner, a bottle of cider and a bit of Zentangle.

A joint effort on a wine box with some of his favourites inside. 

And we had cake....

Romy may be looking more grown up these days, but I'm delighted to see that she is still just a big kid inside.

And as happens every year.....

One week later and it's Mateo's birthday!! This year, he has reached the dizzying heights of 17.
So proud of him....

He really wanted a motorbike, I know, but I made him a summer pudding instead.
I'm working on the motorbike idea....but not just yet.

And the heat is set to continue. With all the work reaching a point where we could stop and have a rest, I think the beach is calling....