Saturday, 28 August 2010

Some Like it Hot

Well, now it is HOT!

I am sitting in a pool of sweat – unfortunately not a swimming pool!

I am simply melting, but refuse to be put off. It is still a novelty and after the years and years of incessant rain and cold winds and storms that I have put down in recent times this is definitely preferable.

Let me count the upsides of too much heat:

  1. It is dead easy to drink your required eight glasses of water a day!
  2. You hardly ever have to go to the toilet for a wee.
  3. Like a sauna, it really cleans all the ingrained dirt out of your pores, but there is no snow to roll in after the sauna. Actually the sauna does not end!
  4. You don’t have to wear many clothes which saves on washing.
  5. You don’t have to wear sunblock because it is too hot to go out
  6. But you do manage to keep a nice little brown glow going by very short exposures – to the line and back is sufficient.
  7. On that subject – clothes dry really quickly
  8. You don’t need to put on the central heating in the evenings or fill a hotwater bottle on your way to bed.
  9. You can’t tell when you have a hot flash – because you seem to have one that lasts all day and all night and everybody else is having them too. All of Spain is menopausing!
  10. If you forget to close the window before leaving the house for the day you don’t have to worry about the rain blowing in all over all your bits on the windowsill.
  11. You never have to take a jacket or a wrap on a late night out, although mosquito repellant is advisable
  12. No jumpers
  13. No overcoats
  14. You can work slowly and no one complains
  15. The weeds do not bother to grow so there is no weeding to be done
  16. Mind you as we have discovered that our garden is just one great big rock I do not think that weeding is going to be a huge problem over the years – a huge Zen garden springs to mind! So just a bit of gentle raking when I am in the mood
  17. You can admit to taking a snooze in the afternoon and you don’t have to call it a power nap anymore.
  18. Will I continue?
  19. Or are you getting the picture
  20. When I finally get my wonderful terrace built out the back of the house I will be able to spend the summer time slopping about making fantastic clay sculptures and not worry about getting covered in water and wet clay – it will be an image from Woodstock or Reading Festival, but perhaps a bit more creative.

I do think I have earned this right to be enjoying my life here – obviously it is not perfect as I have been at pains to point out in previous postings, but as a life choice this has to count as one of my better ones. In fact I am not sure that I actually made any real choices before this one – they sort of happened in a much more organic way and I was reactive rather than proactive. Mind you this one I could probably have thought through a bit more first, but hey! That would go against a whole lifetime of shooting from the hip and being led by my heart.

And both those things have served me pretty well so far.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Pigeon Pie

This is the blog I did not want to write – but somehow I knew it was coming. It is a dog eat dog world. Heavens! I write about it and ‘art’ about it often enough and I think about it constantly – but it does not make it any easier.

Just the other day I saw a skinny feral cat calmly crossing my back terrace, hopping up onto the neighbour’s wall – the one jagged up with glass – picking her way across and agily dropping down onto the next terrace before walking into the back shed, all the while gripping the swinging carcass of a huge fat pigeon - feathers awry and head lolling.

And of course I have already told of the other pigeon that was taken by the eagle over our skylight.

There are constant battles for supremacy and survival going on all the time – in my garden, in the street, in our homes and in all of life.

But still all that did not prepare me for the loss of my two adolescent pigeons.

It all happened last night. It is very hot, very hot at the moment. Something about the heat makes the noise and excitement levels rise. Add to that another feria on its way – Our Lady of Alhaurin or something – I have not quite twigged into this one yet. The preliminaries involve letting off those terrible rockets, which upset all the pigeons anyway – sending them flying off in a soaring flock of feathers and terror. But the rockets and then the band music also pumps up the hunting spirit in a band of young gypsies who frequent our street and the square. They make a lot of noise and make mischief – the extent of which I am not certain

I have observed this particular gang over the past months – they are growing in strength and audacity. I saw them the other day in the square in the very hot afternoon intent on tipping over chairs of the various establishments there and trying to steal the napkin holders or other loose articles from the tables. Some might smile and think that it is merely juvenile high spirits and to some degree it is. But when that mischief turns to a habit and shopkeepers and homeowners are worried for their property and businesses on a regular basis then it becomes a problem. People eye them with suspicion and nervousness.

Sometimes the group is small 3 or 4, at other times it doubles or trebles in size and then in its strength and hyped-up excitement also.

As you know I have been watching over my baby pigeons for some weeks now – merely observing them and taking a few photos. From time to time they eye me with some suspicion, but I hope that on the whole they do not view me as a threat.

Last night – the gang of youths arrived in the lane, intent on getting hold of the pigeons – they seem to have a fascination for hunting them anyway. I have seen them in the square where, to be honest, it is a fair fight with adult birds who can fly away, but who take a chance on trying to grab a morsel of food and sometimes the boys do manage to grab them. I have no idea if they take them home for the pot or keep them as livestock or pets, but as I say that is a fair fight and the pigeons usually get away – but this was an attack on adolescent birds who could not fly.

They should have been safe – they were up in a drainpipe two floors up and the boys had spent enough time throwing bottles and cans up at them with no result – so much so that I need to get a stick of some sort to reach across the lane to clear the rubbish out of the gutter – another inconvenience. But ingenious enough after shouting and throwing things for some time they went home only to return some time later armed with sticks and nets.

I had spoken to them on their first foray from my bedroom window, asking them to leave the birds alone, but they actually simply ignored me completely. I did not say anything this time as I did not wish to bring trouble on myself – you can see how they operate now – there are a lot of them and I am here on my own just at the minute and even if I wasn’t, my wonderful man might (probably would) go in all guns blazing and get himself in trouble with the local authorities – you know the way these things work nowadays, the criminals always seem to get off scott free, while the law-abiding person, simply trying to protect himself, his property or his family becomes the bad guy! It just makes me so cross and makes me feel so impotent in the face of badness.

Anyway – to cut a long story short, something I am not inclined to do at the best of times. With loud whooping and baying for blood my babies were eventually ripped from their home to suffer who knows what fate at the hands of their tormentors. I did not watch, but knew from the shouts that it was happening and woke in the morning to an empty drainpipe.

I began this post a few days ago (even longer now) and have been mulling over what I have written and have edited myself severely. There are a lot of serious issues addressed here I believe, ones of human rights and justice as well as cruelty and gang warfare and intimidation. I live in this world as a pacifist (which does not mean that I do not lose my temper from time to time). I have on occasion stuck my head up over the parapet on behalf of myself and others, only to get shot down in flames. I am loathe now to do it again, but I believe that there others who are younger and more energetic who will fly that flag in the future. All I feel that I can do now is observe and report and hope that someone will be able to do something some day and that the world will change for the better.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

A Return to Some Normality - and a bit of introspection

Thank you to all of my friends who - sort of - commiserated with me on my recent accident. I take laughter and shocked horror as commiseration and concern!

As you can see my face has returned to its normal proportions - it is still as crooked as the crooked man in the Nursery Rhyme, but apparently that is a birth defect - I think I must have suffered some trauma coming down the birth canal. But hey ho! I have no recollection of it and have become used to my lopsided nose now - i don't remember it ever holding me back and when I got my nose pierced at 16 it made the decision of which side to pierce much easier really. Though I do think that it has become more crooked as the years have passed, but as my looks are far less important by this time of my life - it really does not matter that much.

That said - i have just spent five minutes writing about it so it must mean something to me! Hmmmm?

Otherwise life has returned to normal - that is i spend an inordinate length of time in front of my computer - writing and drawing and manipulating images. My tan has quite faded, so now I have to make the effort to spend a half an hour outside every day. I try to sit out for my lunch - although today it was too hot and i go for a slow, leisurely walk in the afternoon to the shops to get anything that I need.

I still do my morning walk.

My morning walk is probably more important for a number of reasons, although it will not make me go brown.

First of all for my health - it is the only exercise I get nowadays, although I am trying to do a few stretches again now to keep limber. Those I do throughout the day as a break from sitting at the computer.

Secondly for my education - I plug into my little Ipod and do my aural and oral Spanish lessons - which of course makes me look totally mad as people see me striding along talking to myself. I try not to move my lips too much or to speak too loudly, but with earplugs in you can never be too sure.

Thirdly I get to check that everything is in its place in town and that the mountains have not shifted and if there is any building work going on I can inspect progress on a daily basis. It is no wonder that I am exhausted by ten o'clock in the morning!

Anyway, regarding insects and spiders and any other uninvited guests to this house I now have a military regime in hand - especially in the bedroom where I am the most vulnerable as I do tend to sleep like a log and honestly the house could fall down around my ears and i would not wake. It involves absolute cleanliness and a few well placed insecticides.

That said - the other day I was minding my own business, upstairs, tapping away on my computer when there was an almighty crash from the kitchen and sensing the worst I rushed down the stairs. I had made an omelette for my lunch that day - but it was rather large so i transferred half of it onto another plate and left in on the work top to cool, before putting it in the fridge. It was not there long, because i knew that i would have to check it for ants and get it into the fridge ASAP. But there it now lay on the floor amongst the debris of a smashed dinner plate. I can only conclude that it was a cat as they are the newest visitors that i have seen skulking around lately. So even though I may be living solo at the moment - and only temporarily - I am not alone, nor do I seem to get the chance to be lonely with all this colourful wildlife!

So there you have it!

Saturday, 7 August 2010

A Lifetime of Denial

Christ! I have just realised I have the most crooked face in the world!

Trout Pout

Please forgive me for frightening the children!

This is how i woke up this morning - I promise you that I have not weakened and had collagen injections into my lips to make them fuller. Oddly enough I have always wanted more luscious lips, but now that it has happened i want my own thin lips back again.

What happened you might ask?

Well as far as I know I was bitten by a mosquito or some other insect during the night.

I had just dropped off to sleep but was woken by some sensation, which turned out to be a little stinging in my lip. I lay there thinking for a while, licking the sore lip and realising that it really was sore and not just my imagination. So I got up and went into the bathroom to investigate. On turning my lip back I could see a little blister just starting to swell, so concluded that it was a bite. I applied an antihistamine cream to the area and then went and checked my mosquito plug-in, which was turned off because we had a small power outage yesterday and it had not occurred to me to reset it. So i reset it and sprayed myself and all the surroundng areas with Deet. But too late - for the horse had bolted.

Over the next hour or so, during which I read, slept fitfully and checked on progress of the lip in the mirror my lip grew and grew and grew to this ridiculous proportion. I was wondering if I should go along to the accident and emergency, but felt alright otherwise so waited until the morning.

I took this photo first thing, when the swelling had reached its zenith! Shocking really. And then toddled off to the A & E where to add insult to injury I got jabbed in the bottom too. So now I am sore at both ends. Ho hum! Surely the day can only get better now. :-)

Friday, 6 August 2010

Wing Slapping

I have become somewhat of an expert on pigeon behaviour over the last couple of weeks. It is from observing ‘my’ baby pigeons all tucked up in their drainpipe on the other side of the road.

My first set of twins have now become quite large and very active – I sit on the edge of pin watching them sometimes as I am so nervous that they will fall out of their nest and to the ground below as I do not think they can fly yet.

The other set of siblings are a bit further along from the first two – and I have not been able to observe them quite as well. But I did amazingly see them holding their own in a dispute in the very earliest days of their lives. The mother to the first two had edged her way along the pipe and was trying to steal something, probably food or grass from the two wee babies (their own mother was obviously off foraging somewhere). Well such a noise and commotion they created everytime her beak went near to them. ‘Peeep, peeeep, peeeep!’ over and over again and their little heads were bopping and beaking all over the shop! So much so that with her feathers a bit ruffled First Mum hopped up onto the ledge above the pipe and observed them somewhat coolly from her lofty perch, but made no further assault on the two young ‘uns.

On another occasion I saw the first mum again trying to bully her way into her rival’s home. This time the dispute was with mum number two – who has by the way a rather beautiful dusky pink colouring along her flank, in fact I think that one of her babies is going to take after her in that colouring – They were obviously feeling fractious on this given day and were ‘fighting’ each other up and down the pipe, stepping over debris and chicks alike as they edged up to eachother and started their wing slapping.

Wing slapping is behaviour I am observing more and more. I used to hear it sometimes lying in bed in the morning and wondering what the heck was going on. It is quite loud. The pigeons get right up close to one another and basically just beat the dickens out of each other with their wings. They sort of snap them really quick and they are probably quite strong too – after all they do use those same wings for flying. So I suppose it must hurt. But it is very loud and very purposeful. Anyway eventually one or the other of the fighting pigeons backs down and peace is restored. So far there have been no casualties or worse still, fatalities.

I have also observed the babies slapping their mum with their wings in the same way and am wondering if it is an instinct which stimulates mum to regurgitate her food for them so that they can feed – as they do, rather disgustingly, stick their heads almost entirely down their mother’s throat to get their own dinner. I can only assume that it is some sort of inducement the same way that suckling calves (or my own wee babies!) sort of head butt their mum’s in the udders to help bring the milk down. Well, my own babies did not head butt me so much as nuzzle seekingly, smelling for the milk and homing in onto the nipple, which in turn brought the milk cascading down of its own accord. Isn’t nature just a wonderful thing!

The photo here is not of my two babies but two adults having a bit of a slap and a bit of a beak too. I think the hot weather makes them a bit irritable at times and the drainpipe is not that big either.

Sunday, 1 August 2010

I Love the Sound of Flip-Flops

I love the sound of flip-flops.

I love the way they make you pad gently and the sole of your foot sticks momentarily to the shoe making a sort of swoosh as it breaks free and the flop of the shoe as it hits the ground.

There is something swishy and gentle and quite feminine about them, although men wear them too. Perhaps I like them on men because they show a feminine side – the side all men should know about, whether they wish to get in touch with it or not. Obviously that is their own prerogative.

I love the name flip-flop too. Whoever invented that knew what he, or she was talking about. Shoes that flip and shoes that flop. Shoes that are hardly there at all. Shoes that are well suited to a hot or beachy climate. Even the name conjures up that easy, summertime way of life.

I prefer the ones that are made of that sort of foamy stuff because they are so light they hardly seem to be there at all – the only way you know that you are wearing anything is the flip and the flop and the squish of air as it is pressed out of the foam.

I love the way you have just a toe grip to hold them on. I love the way it slips between your big toe and the next one, quite seductive really, dividing and separating your main toe from the rest. Sometimes that takes a little bit of getting used to if you are just out of winter shoes, but if your toes are not too tight there is generally very little chafing – however, longer walks should not be undertaken until worn in.

I love lying on my bed during the hot afternoon siesta listening to the gentle pad, pad, swoosh, squish of people as they pass in the laneway below my window. You can hear the slightness of sweat and feel the coolness of the air circulating around bare feet.

Did I mention that I love feet?