Cat in pot… and boy, it’s hot here in Posadas (province of Cordova)!!!

Hi folks! I hope this finds you all well…

Sorry, it’s short and sweet this time, because at 45° C (113° F) it’s far too hot to sit up and write. (The air conditioning has to go off at 5:30 in the afternoon because we rely on solar panels and electricity’s limited!…..)

Even the cat had to find a cool place to sit!

“Cats have it all — admiration, an endless sleep, and company only when they want it.”

Rod McKuen (April 29, 1933 – January 29, 2015)  (American singer-songwriter, actor and poet, Stanyan Street & Other Sorrows)

That’s all for now — take care! xxx


Help! There’s a snake in my well in Posadas — and Idries Shah too…

Stay sleeping pleasssssssssse!!!!

Hi folks! I’m back again and I hope this finds you all well!

I just wanted to share this photo with you: it is what my son was confronted with when opening the well on his olive-tree finca. It might not be very clear at first sight, but if you take a closer look you should be able to see a nice, fat, juicy, khaki-coloured snake coiled up and half-hiding under one of the water tubes. Luckily it didn’t raise its ugly head (poor thing!) so the well lid was immediately dropped back down and hasn’t been reopened in a while. I’m not exactly sure as to what type of snake it is (there are no diamond markings on its back so it’s not a poisonous viper). It could be the mildly venomous Malpolon monspessulanus (Culebra bastarda — sounds rude, doesn’t it?!), or a Macroprotodon (Western false smooth snake), with a pretty harmless bite.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, and before moving onto another longish story (if you have the time and patience!), this event brought to mind one of Idries Shah’s tales, entitled The Man, the Snake and the Stone, taken from his Caravan of Dreams.

So here’s the man:

Idries Shah
16 June 1924 (Simla, British India) — 23 November 1996 (aged 72) London, UK (Wiki)

And here’s the story:—

The Man, the Snake and the StoneIdries Shah, Caravan of Dreams

One day a man who had not a care in the world was walking along a road. An unusual object to one side of him caught his eye. ‘I must find out what this is,’ he said to himself.

As he came up to it, he saw that it was a large, very flat stone.

‘I must find out what is underneath this,’ he told himself. And he lifted the stone.

No sooner had he done so than he heard a loud, hissing sound, and a huge snake came gliding out from a hole under the stone. The man dropped the stone in alarm. The snake wound itself into a coil, and said to him:

‘Now I am going to kill you, for I am a venomous snake.’

‘But I have released you,’ said the man, ‘how can you repay good with evil? Such an action would not accord with reasonable behaviour.’

‘In the first place,’ said the snake, ‘you lifted the stone from curiosity and in ignorance of the possible consequences. How can this now suddenly become “I have released you”?’

‘We must always try to return to reasonable behaviour, when we stop to think,’ murmured the man.

‘Return to it when you think invoking it might suit your interests,’ said the snake.

‘Yes,’ said the man, ‘I was a fool to expect reasonable behaviour from a snake.’

‘From a snake, expect snake-behaviour,’ said the snake. ‘To a snake, snake-behaviour is what can be regarded as reasonable.’

‘Now I am going to kill you,’ it continued.

‘Please do not kill me,’ said the man, ‘give me another chance. You have taught me about curiosity, reasonable behaviour and snake-behaviour. Now you would kill me before I can put this knowledge into action.’

‘Very well,’ said the snake, ‘I shall give you another chance. I shall come along with you on your journey. We will ask the next creature whom we meet, who shall be neither a man nor a snake, to adjudicate between us.’

The man agreed, and they started on their way.

Before long they came to a flock of sheep in a field. The snake stopped, and the man cried to the sheep:

‘Sheep, sheep, please save me! This snake intends to kill me. If you tell him not to do so he will spare me. Give a verdict in my favour, for I am a man, the friend of sheep.’

One of the sheep answered:

‘We have been put out into this field after serving a man for many years. We have given him wool year after year, and now that we are old, tomorrow he will kill us for mutton. That is the measure of the generosity of men. Snake, kill that man!’

The snake reared up and his green eyes glittered as he said to the man: ‘This is how your friends see you. I shudder to think what your enemies are like!’

‘Give me one more chance,’ cried the man in desperation. ‘Please let us find someone else to give an opinion, so that my life may be spared.’

‘I do not want to be as unreasonable as you think I am,’ said the snake, ‘and I will therefore continue in accordance with your pattern, and not with mine. Let us ask the next individual whom we may meet – being neither a man nor a snake – what your fate is to be.’

The man thanked the snake, and they continued on their journey.

Presently they came upon a lone horse, standing hobbled in a field. The snake addressed him:

‘Horse, horse, why are you hobbled like that?’

The horse said:

‘For many years I served a man. He gave me food, for which I had not asked, and he taught me to serve him. He said that this was in exchange for the food and stable. Now that I am too infirm to work, he has decided to sell me soon for horse-meat. I am hobbled because the man thinks that if I roam over this field I will eat too much of his grass.’

‘Do not make this horse my judge, for God’s sake!’ exclaimed the man.

‘According to our compact,’ said the snake inexorably, ‘this man and I have agreed to have our case judged by you.’

He outlined the matter, and the horse said:

‘Snake, it is beyond my capabilities and not in my nature to kill a man. But I feel that you, as a snake, have no alternative but to do so if a man is in your power.’

‘If you will give me just one more chance,’ begged the man, ‘I am sure that something will come to my aid. I have been unlucky on this journey so far, and have only come across creatures who have a grudge. Let us therefore choose some animal which has no such knowledge and hence no generalised animosity towards my kind.’

‘People do not know snakes,’ said the snake, ‘and yet they seem to have a generalised animosity towards them. But I am willing to give you just one more chance.’

They continued their journey.

Soon they saw a fox, lying asleep under a bush beside the road. The man woke the fox gently, and said:

‘Fear nothing, brother fox. My case is such-and-such, and my future depends upon your decision. The snake will give me no further chance, so only your generosity or altruism can help me.’

The fox thought for a moment, and then he said:

‘I am not sure that only generosity or altruism can operate here. But I will engage myself in this matter. In order to come to a decision I must rely upon something more than hearsay. We must demonstrate as well. Come, let us return to the beginning of your journey, and examine the facts on the spot.’

They returned to where the first encounter had taken place.

‘Now we will reconstruct the situation,’ said the fox; ‘snake, be so good as to take your place once more, in your hole under that flat stone.’

The man lifted the stone, and the snake coiled itself up in the hollow beneath it. The man let the stone fall.

The snake was now trapped again, and the fox, turning to the man, said: ‘We have returned to the beginning. The snake cannot get out unless you release him. He leaves our story at this point.’

‘Thank you, thank you,’ said the man, his eyes full of tears.

‘Thanks are not enough, brother,’ said the fox. ‘In addition to generosity and altruism there is the matter of my payment.’

‘How can you enforce payment?’ asked the man.

‘Anyone who can solve the problem which I have just concluded,’ said the fox, ‘is well able to take care of such a detail as that. I again invite you to recompense me, from fear if not from any sense of justice. Shall we call it, in your words, being “reasonable”?’

The man said:

‘Very well, come to my house and I will give you a chicken.’

They went to the man’s house. The man went into his chicken-coop, and came back in a moment with a bulging sack. The fox seized it and was about to open it when the man said:

‘Friend fox, do not open the sack here. I have human neighbours and they should not know that I am co-operating with a fox. They might kill you, as well as censuring me.’

‘That is a reasonable thought,’ said the fox; ‘what do you suggest I do?’

‘Do you see that clump of trees yonder?’ said the man, pointing. ‘Yes,’ said the fox.

‘You run with the sack into that cover, and you will be able to enjoy your meal unmolested.’

The fox ran off.

As soon as he reached the trees a party of hunters, whom the man knew would be there, caught him. He leaves our story here.

And the man? His future is yet to come.

Moral of the story? Perhaps something like: you never know what might be under a rock, or in a clever man’s mind… (although knowing the Sufis, it probably isn’t that simple!)

—————————————————————————————————————–

Well, thank you for bearing with me — take care! xxx

The curry plant in Posadas and the theoretical physicist Einstein (?!)

Good morning all!

I left early for my morning walk the other day because the sun’s already quite piquant and temperatures were forecasted to rise to 35° C = 95° F — yippee and yikes!

I came across lots of curry plant that’s in full flower, and yes, it certainly does smell of curry, and no, I don’t use it in my cooking, although I should really, and below you’ll see why.

The proper name for this plant is Helichrysum italicum (which I had to copy and paste because I didn’t trust myself with correctly reproducing these words if physically written out).

Well, after I did some research into this plant I realised just how rich it is in beneficial properties and below are just some of them:

According to the UIC Heritage Garden ‘The curry plant is well-known for the oil extracted from its flowers. The oil has medicinal properties that can heal burned skin or chapped lips. It serves as an anti-inflammatory and fungicidal astringent for skin’.

Additionally, it is used as an anticoagulant, can reduce the risk of heart attacks, dissolve blood clots and can be used to treat coughing and fever. The oil also reduces anxiety and stress; it helps fade scars, heal cuts or wounds and can be used as a moisturizer.

As far as food is concerned, the plant’s young shoots and leaves are used in Mediterranean dishes for salads and to give meat, fish, or vegetable flavour, the flowers for herbal tea and the oil used as flavouring in ice creams, sweets, drinks, baked food, chewing gum etc.

So the conclusion is… I guess I’ll be using this plant after all!

I’d just like to end with this quote from the theoretical physicist Einstein (taken from a long list of his many very interesting quotes). Though, ‘What has Einstein got to do with the curry plant?’ I hear you ask. Well, as far as I know — nothing! It’s just that I was doing Einstein in my English conversation class the other day, and we were reading some of his quotes. So here it is:

“Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe.”

Albert Einstein (Born: 14 March 1879 Wurttemberg, German Empire — died: 18 April 1955, aged 76, New Jersey U.S.)

Einstein in 1921 (Wiki)

Bye for now — take care! xxx

Busy translating!

Hello all!

Just a couple of lines to explain and excuse myself from my lack of blog activity over the last few weeks — I am very busy translating a book from Spanish to English, so at the end of the day my eyes are quite tired and my body a bit cramped and I find it rather strenuous to then continue writing more. Instead, I try to do some physical work to compensate: I either go for a walk, or attack the ever-flourishing weeds in my vegetable patch.

However, I do continue to read your blogs, even if a little late! So please bear with me (might be for quite a while) …

To finish with, here’s a photo: Sunday was Mother’s Day here in Spain, so here’s my booty! And Happy Mother’s Day to all you mothers and grandmothers, even if you’re not in Spain!

Carnations, earrings and lipstick (there’s nothing like an out of focus photo!)

Bye for now — take care! xxx

Self-service or à la carte?

Gobble on!!!

“Owners of dogs will have noticed that, if you provide them with food and water and shelter and affection, they will think you are God. Whereas owners of cats are compelled to realize that, if you provide them with food and water and affection, they draw the conclusion that they are God.” — Christopher Hitchens (13 April 1949, Hampshire England – 15 December 2011).

Christopher Hitchens was certainly a very colourful man, as far as thinking, reasoning, debating and philosophy is concerned.

He was ‘an English intellectual, polemicist, and socio-political critic who expressed himself as an author, orator, essayist, journalist, and columnist. He was the author, co-author, editor, or co-editor of over 30 books, including five collections of essays on culture, politics, and literature.’ (Wikipedia).

He was an anti-theist and his dictum, “What can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence” is now known as Hitchen’s Razor.

In short, he was quite a character and as you can see from the above quote, he even went as far as discussing and concluding the differences between cats and dogs!

Thank you for reading. I hope this finds you well — take care!xxx

After the rains have passed…

A photo of the cloud as it gradually encroaches upon the neighbouring cottage here in the countryside of Posadas (Cordova)

The Cloud Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792 Sussex, England –1822 Tuscany, Italy)

I bring fresh showers for the thirsting flowers,
From the seas and the streams;
I bear light shade for the leaves when laid
In their noonday dreams.
From my wings are shaken the dews that waken
The sweet buds every one,
When rocked to rest on their mother’s breast,
As she dances about the sun.
I wield the flail of the lashing hail,
And whiten the green plains under,
And then again I dissolve it in rain,
And laugh as I pass in thunder.

I sift the snow on the mountains below,
And their great pines groan aghast;
And all the night ‘tis my pillow white,
While I sleep in the arms of the blast.
Sublime on the towers of my skiey bowers,
Lightning my pilot sits;
In a cavern under is fettered the thunder,
It struggles and howls at fits;
Over earth and ocean, with gentle motion,
This pilot is guiding me,
Lured by the love of the genii that move
In the depths of the purple sea;
Over the rills, and the crags, and the hills,
Over the lakes and the plains,
Wherever he dream, under mountain or stream,
The Spirit he loves remains;
And I all the while bask in Heaven’s blue smile,
Whilst he is dissolving in rains.

The sanguine Sunrise, with his meteor eyes,
And his burning plumes outspread,
Leaps on the back of my sailing rack,
When the morning star shines dead;
As on the jag of a mountain crag,
Which an earthquake rocks and swings,
An eagle alit one moment may sit
In the light of its golden wings.
And when Sunset may breathe, from the lit sea beneath,
Its ardours of rest and of love,
And the crimson pall of eve may fall
From the depth of Heaven above,
With wings folded I rest, on mine aëry nest,
As still as a brooding dove.

That orbèd maiden with white fire laden,
Whom mortals call the Moon,
Glides glimmering o’er my fleece-like floor,
By the midnight breezes strewn;
And wherever the beat of her unseen feet,
Which only the angels hear,
May have broken the woof of my tent’s thin roof,
The stars peep behind her and peer;
And I laugh to see them whirl and flee,
Like a swarm of golden bees,
When I widen the rent in my wind-built tent,
Till calm the rivers, lakes, and seas,
Like strips of the sky fallen through me on high,
Are each paved with the moon and these.

I bind the Sun’s throne with a burning zone,
And the Moon’s with a girdle of pearl;
The volcanoes are dim, and the stars reel and swim,
When the whirlwinds my banner unfurl.
From cape to cape, with a bridge-like shape,
Over a torrent sea,
Sunbeam-proof, I hang like a roof,
The mountains its columns be.
The triumphal arch through which I march
With hurricane, fire, and snow,
When the Powers of the air are chained to my chair,
Is the million-coloured bow;
The sphere-fire above its soft colours wove,
While the moist Earth was laughing below.

I am the daughter of Earth and Water,
And the nursling of the Sky;
I pass through the pores of the ocean and shores;
I change, but I cannot die.
For after the rain when with never a stain
The pavilion of Heaven is bare,
And the winds and sunbeams with their convex gleams
Build up the blue dome of air,
I silently laugh at my own cenotaph,
And out of the caverns of rain,
Like a child from the womb, like a ghost from the tomb,
I arise and unbuild it again.

Thank you for visiting — take care xxx

Busy gardening and writing here in my country abode of Posadas (Cordova) — part 2 with limited photos!

Hello again!

Yesterday I explained the slight hitch that I was experiencing with putting up photos and my lack of sufficient space in my WordPress blog ‘multimedia’. I accidentally deleted all the photos from my last six blogs. I will soon arrive at the solution for this because I do like to illustrate my blogs and I love to write. So for now, and after having ‘slept on it’, I have decided to continue — see Lisa Featherstone’s interesting and enlightening article Highlights and Reflections about stepping away from a problem for a while in order to find the solution and where you ‘allow your own subconscious to work things out’. Therefore, I am posting the article that I had prepared for yesterday even though the number of photos has been curtailed. So here goes:

I just wanted to say that my posts have been a little less regular these days. This is due to three reasons really:

Firstly, because the garden and surrounding land has needed quite a bit of attention i.e. lopping, pruning and spraying with copper sulphate (see the photos). I’ve also been busy clearing my vegetable patch — pulling out the old plants of aubergine, peppers and tomatoes. Now I’ve just got the weeding left (quite a massive project!) so that I can soon sow the broad beans and later the French beans (which will be around February). The Swiss chard and spinach are flourishing amongst the weeds though, and the miniature roses need to be potted too!

The nesper tree, pruned and sprayed with copper sulphate. Next to it is a bay tree and on the far left, a pear tree which I shall attack today before the rain arrives!
The first fragrant flowers of the nesper
The fig tree pruned
The lemon trees sprayed — they are growing next to the false pepper tree
The lemon tree in bud
The lower shoots on the olive trees need to be pruned soon
My vegetable patch needs some attention too!!!
My untiring helpers!
The miniature roses need transplanting as well…
The wood for the fireplace needs covering before the rain — and there is another of my little helpers too!

Secondly, I have also been busy trying to finish illustrating a book that I wrote earlier. It’s a fantasy/fiction aimed at kids, and I thought it would be more fun with pictures. Though I love drawing, I’m not doing the illustrations myself because that would probably take me a lifetime! Instead, I am using the free images provided by Canva. I hope to put the book up with Amazon (that is, if I can actually understand the instructions of how to convert a Word doc. into the file that they ask for… Computing technology is usually quite mind-boggling for me, but luckily I have a twenty-five-year-old son who regularly comes to my rescue!).

Below is a draft for the front and back covers, and for my next blog I was thinking of including the two-page introduction since I value any comments or suggestions that you might have… (Mind you, if I haven’t upgraded my WordPress plan by then, I won’t actually be able to include any photos…)

The proposed front and back covers of the book I am illustrating…

And last but not least, I also try and go for a weekly walk in our beautiful local hills of the Sierrezuela which, as you can see, are becoming cloaked in green (and already the wild asparagus is growing — see here for my recipe…)

Well, thank you for visiting and I hope to be back soon (with or without photos!)

Take care — and as usual, comments and questions are always welcome, I love to interact with you! xxx

It’s that time of year again!

Hello folks! I hope that you’re keeping well.

Firstly, sorry to say that some of the photos in this post have been eliminated due to insufficient space on the multimedia (see my later post for details…)

Well, as the title suggests, it is definitely that time of year again! And I would like to share a few festive photos and a poem with you.

So here they are:

Our very homely-looking Christmas tree. Although it’s alive, it’s not actually a fir or spruce but a very large branch pruned from one of our wild Pistacia lentiscus bushes. It makes the house smell so resiny.
The Nativity scene. We have oxen, camels, sheep and homemade pigs, ducks and geese. Unfortunately the 3 Kings haven’t arrived yet, because although I’ve been seriously rummaging around the baubles and tinsel, I just haven’t been able to find them yet. (Must’ve gone trotting off somewhere…)
Every year we add bits to it. This year it’s the baker / cook working away in his corner in front of the stone oven and balancing a basket of goods on his head — right-hand side. (And I really must repair Jesus’s hand this year, because he had a bit of a mishap a while ago so He’s missing a little corner of it! Out will come the plaster of Paris…)
A bit of a close-up, and yes, I’ll have to mend Mary’s hand too. (We have had these figurines for a long time now, since the kids were born, so that makes 25 years more or less!)
One of the Christmas candle holders

Apart from the tree and Nativity scene, we’ve also put loads of tinsel, baubles, stockings, hanging pine cones etc. around the house. The decorations reflect the light and bring a glowing cheer to the dark evenings.

Meanwhile, in Cordova, the central square Plaza Tendillas has been dressed in thousands of lights, as so too the tall palm trees:

And back in my local village of Posadas, apart from all the streets, gardens and trees being lit up, they are usually decorated by the ladies from the crochet group too. However, since social gatherings are not permitted, nothing as yet has been displayed, so I am including their work from last Christmas. (I included other of their photos in a previous blog of mine.)

They made an extensive Nativity scene totally from crochet (except for the cork which was used for huts)

And there were also life-sized statues in one of the main streets — as you can see they were all robed in crochet garments

The street Nativity scene came with a well and fire too…
… and a flying angel announcing the Good News!

Well, to end this Christmassy blog I’d like to finish with a seasonal poem:

Christmas Eve 1893 Christina Rossetti (5 December 1830 – 29 December 1894)

Christmas has a darkness
Brighter than the blazing noon,
Christmas has a chillness
Warmer than the heat of June,
Christmas has a beauty
Lovelier than the world can show:
For Christmas bringeth Jesus,
Brought for us so low.

Earth, strike up your music,
Birds that sing and bells that ring;
Heaven has answering music
For all angels soon to sing:
Earth, put on your whitest
Bridal robe of spotless snow:
For Christmas bringeth Jesus,
Brought for us so low.

Thank you all for visiting — I hope that you are able to enjoy this special time.

Take care! xxx

Your comments and questions are always welcome — it is nice to hear from you!

Early flowers

Feeling restless after having been stuck in all day because of work on the computer, I decided to give vent to my feelings and go for a walk around my wild finca in the drizzle and mist. I was surprised to see the following flowers already out…

The rock rose or cistus is already putting out some flowers way ahead of normal time
and the broom too (Genisteae) — probably because of the mild weather here in Cordova
The wild narcissi are on cue…
and so are the delicate snowflakes (Leucojum)
I love the red berries on the wild asparagus bushes, they look so Christmassy. The bitter, wild asparagus spears grow in spring. For my recipe of wild asparagus in spicy tomato sauce, see here
And there are mushrooms everywhere

The photo of the narcissus flowers brings to mind the Latin tale of Narcissus and Echo from Ovid’s Metamorphosis.

Echo, a nymph who cannot speak except to repeat the last few words she has heard falls desperately in love with the beautiful and conceited Narcissus, who is in love with himself. He rejects her and she withers away, eventually turning into stone, and leaving only her voice behind which echoes around the world.

Echo and Narcissus— John William Waterhouse the pre-Raphaelite artist (1903 oil on canvas, Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool)

Fred Chappell (author and poet, born 1936, N. Carolina) wrote a poem of the same name.

(The italics in the following poem represent the voice of Echo.)

Narcissus and Echo

Shall the water not remember   Ember

my hand’s slow gesture, tracing above   of

its mirror my half-imaginary   airy

portrait? My only belonging   longing,

is my beauty, which I take   ache

away and then return as love   of

of teasing playfully the one being   unbeing.

whose gratitude I treasure   Is your

moves me. I live apart   heart

from myself, yet cannot   not

live apart. In the water’s tone,   stone?

that shining silence, a flower   Hour,

whispers my name with such slight   light:

moment, it seems filament of air,   fare

the world become clouds well.   well.

Thank you for visiting — I hope this finds you well! xxx