Friday, May 30, 2008

Good Healthy Exercise

My friend N moved house today. This isn't relaxingat the best of times, but this was harder work than usual, because she had a house ten minutes walk along a rough path from the nearest parking space.

It's times like that when it's good to have friends, and there were five of us, including Helen and Theresa who brought their van. Thank goodness that included two blokes, because I really don't think we'd have managed those speakers even between three girls. So us girls let the fellers do the macho stuff and just moved boxes. N spent the last month or so having a major clearout, and the last week moving a bag to her car each time she went. That's probably why we got the whole lot done in just over two hours, and all the stuff fit into N's car and Helen and Theresa's van.

Some people pay a fortune in gym membership for that kind of workout.

And then we went for a pizza, before the other girls set off for Garafia.

Stretching his wings

Well my son's gone off on a school trip for twelve days around four of the Canary Islands. It's a bit nerve-wracking letting him loose, but it's time for him to stretch his wings a bit. And you know, it's rather niceto tidy up the living room and expect it to stay tidy.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Great Underpants Emergency

Early tomorrow morning my son goes on his end-of-primary-school trip. He's going to Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, Fuertaventura, La Graciosa, and Tenerife - all in 12 days. He should have a great time. (He'd better! It's good value for money, but it's still not cheap.)

The trouble is, he doesn't have all that many clothes because he grows out of things in three months. And this trip means he'll be away from the washing machine for almost two weeks.

Cue for a clothes buying spree. We've been buying trousers and T shirts for weeks, a couple at a time. Then I realized I'd forgotten to count his underpants. Sure enough, we were short.

So this morning I went on an emergency underpants hunt. The shops have plenty of underpants in other sizes, both larger and smaller, but his size, and the size below, were pretty much sold out.

Then the penny dropped. Something like 70% of Palmeran kids his age are going on similar trips. And every other mother had the foresight to get the underpants good and early. I was left hunting for the dregs.

Eventually I found some that looked about right, but the label said they were too big. So I crossed my fingers and bought them.

Hallelujah, they fit. We don't have to go shopping again!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Canary Day

Friday is Canary Day. It's a big thing here, and the celebrations have started already.

Early this evening, I went into town with my son to sort out some paperwork and a birthday present, and we found they had bouncy castles in the port car park. So of course we stayed for a while.

We were both wondering what the nozzle was for. And then they started squirting foam out of it. My son was so delighted that he dived in with all his clothes on. I'd have been seriously tempted to join in except that I had my expensive camera with me. So I had to stay upwind of the fun.

I drove my son home in his underpants, sat on a plastic shopping bag. In this climate it was no great problem.

Tomorrow most schools will have a party for the second half of the morning. My son's school includes lunch, so he'll be coming home late. And the real celebration is Friday.

Scratch Photo Studio

It's getting busy around here. On Friday, my son leaves on a 12-day trip round four of the Canary Islands to mark the end of primary school. Since he's just grown out of all his clothes again, this meant a frantic shopping spree. And since he doesn't have all that many clothes that fit him, the ones he'¡s got all have to be washed and ironed.

Last night we took a break from shopping and went to see his godmother, quick before he disappears for a while. Somehow this wound up as a photo session for her and her very photogenic daughter.

And now I must go and get the washing machine on again.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Perfectly legal parking

My husband managed to fix N's car on Saturday. We invited her to come for lunch and collect it. Since she's found herself a new home to move into next weekend, it seemed like a good idea to move a bit of something from her house at the same time (she lives a ten-minute walk from the nearest car-parking space.) So we set off with a couple of bags of books for a mutual friend. Of course the bags got heavier as the walk went on, and we were glad to get to my car. By then we really didn't fancy walking any further, so we braved the one way system round the roadworks in Santa Cruz to get to our friend's house.

Hallelujah, there was a parking space nearby, on the wide pavement outside the old theatre.

So we took the books in and had a cup of tea and a chat, and as we left a woman going past said to the street in general (facing away from us), "They ought to give you a dirty great fine for parking there!"

This surprised me. I said, "There's no yellow line and we had a lot of weight to carry."

She didn't turn around. She just said something I couldn't catch and marched off.

I looked again in case I'd missed something. No yellow line, no parking restriction signs. It was a perfectly legal parking space.


Friday, May 23, 2008

Corpus Christi

Yesterday was the main day for Corpus Christi in Mazo. I was busy yesterday, so this morning I went there as soon as I'd dropped my son off at school. I'd hardly started driving when I saw the nearly-full moon about to set behind the ridge. By the time I'd managed to park, change camera lenses, and get out of the car, it had set quite a bit. I'm still pleased with the photo, though.

And so to Mazo. As always,it was lovely. I took lots of photos.

So where are they? On the other blog. And presumably they'll be up on the main site too, as soon as I get around to it.

But first I have to get another submission sent off. I average one sale for every ten submissions, so I try to send lots out.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

And yet more driving

Yesterday N went to see her car insurance firm. Yes, the policy includes a tow truck. Yay! But the truck would come from the other side of the island so she couldn't travel with it. On the plus side, they should get to the car half an hour after she phoned.

So off we went back to Garafía, yet again. We phoned the insurance firm while we were stuck in roadworks. Shortly afterwards, the breakdown people phoned to ask where the car was, and then said they'd be just over an hour because they were coming from Santa Cruz! So she could have got a lift with them, and I could have stayed home.

Oh well, stuff happens. So we went to Franceses and had a cup of tea with Helen, and then back to the car in time to meet the breakdown lorry. We waited half an hour, and were just about to phone them when they arrived. So the car went off, and I took Norma back to Helen's. The plan was for Helen and Theresa to go to Puntagorda this afternoon with Norma, so that she could finally look at the house she was headed for on Tuesday. Meanwhile I set off for San Andres to see the Corpus Christi celebrations. I got these nice photos of flowers on the verge as I left Franceses.

I just had time to pop into San Andres, but there was no sign of the flower arches that I'd been expecting. So I asked a local - it's Sunday. So I'll go back then. But it's a lovely little village anyway, so it made a nice diversion.

Lots of driving

On Monday I caught up with housework and got three submissions out of the door. I felt pretty pleased with that.

On Tuesday morning I went off to Santa Domingo Town Hall with Helen, to get back their 600€ bail for the Franceses Motorway. Normally getting back in time to collect my son from school is rather tight, so I was delighted when we were invited to Lou's for lunch. It meant he had somewhere to go even if I was five or ten minutes late.

As it turned out, everything went extremely smoothly, and I got there first. We had a lovely lunch. And just as as I beginning to think I had to drag my son home for the dreaded homework, my mobile rang.

My poor friend N's car had broken down in the wilds of Garafía on the way to look at a house. And wouldn't you know it, it happened on the one day her mobile was out of money. So she'd walked over a mile to Helen and Theresa's, only to find them out.

I phoned Helen and Theresa. Wouldn't you know it, when N's car broke down, they'd been just fifteen minutes away. Now they were in Santa Cruz, heading for Los Llanos.

So I left my son with Lou (Thanks, Lou!) and went back to Garafía and fetched N. On the way I managed to contact my husband, who pointed out that her insurance would likely cover a breakdown lorry. But when we got there, it turned out that the phone number in the car was from the previous policy. The right number was in her house.

Oh great.

I took the poor woman to Helen and Theresa's but it turned out that I didn't have the key after all. She still hadn't had lunch, and this was about 5 p.m., so I gave her what I had: a small tub of pringles and one small chocolate. Thank goodness for the oranges in Helen and Theresa's garden!

I did wonder about towing her home, but neither of us had done it before, and we didn't know where to attach the rope on either car, or how long the rope should be. It would take at least half an hour of faffing about to get hold of a rope, and then we'd have about two hours of twisty roads and roadworks to get home. So I just took her home, and we left the car in Garafía.

I got to Lou's just as they were about to eat, and they invited me. Man, it was wonderful to eat without having to cook! And meanwhile, Lou had helped my son make a one-room dolls house for his art homework. It looked really good, especially considering that Lou doesn't have arty stuff in the house, because her own son's still too young for that sort of thing.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Guiding again

The permanently exhausted feeling has stopped, that goodness, but today's trip was rather hard work. It was 55 adult literacy students from Tenerife, mostly in their 60s and older, and as excited as kids (which was great). Now I'm only supposed to have 25 people in a group, max, but I did the sensible thing and said two groups. But after an hour's drive, loads of them needed the toilet, and there's only one ladies' and one gents' in the telescope, so it took for-bleeding-ever. Then there was the stairs and the dodgy knees, which was pretty slow too. Then they all
started passing me their cameras to take a photo of me-and-the-telescope. I loved the enthusiasm, but that also took for-bleeding-ever. Then I had to struggle to make myself heard, although most of them were fascinated when I finally got into my spiel.

And then they all wanted their photos taken with me. Flattering, but time consuming.

And then I had to do it all again with the second group. Exhausting, but I couldn't help liking them. I take my hat off to anyone who goes back to education after retiring. And most of these people were doing it for the first time, since they never got the chance as kids. One of them had finally learned to write his own full name at the age of seventy-four!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Going up in the World

The Palmeran violet, Viola palmensis

Today the whole family wound up at 2,400 m.

My husband works up there, at the Galileo telescope.

My son had a school trip, helping to plant out native flora, like the violet above. The island government's been doing this for a while, and the results are really starting to show.

And I was tour guiding. I showed two groups round the Isaac Newton Telescope. It was quite a rush to get up there for a 10 a.m. start, but I managed. And I finished just in time for my son to ride down with me, instead of on the bus.

Since I'd been out all morning, I hadn't had time to cook, so we grabbed a pizza for lunch instead.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Too busy for yogurt.

I can't believe I got everything done yesterday.

I took Julio to school and little Sam to nursery and got home about 9 a.m. That gave me just under two hours at home to mop the kitchen and utility room floors, have a shower and read email. then I took Lou to the doctor, to get the official letter to say her foot's still in plaster. They were a little slow, so we didn't get out until after noon. That gave us just enough time to run around the supermarket before picking up Sam and Julio. I left the yogurt in Lou's fridge, since I wouldn't be home for a while and the sun was quite hot. Then it was straight to Santa Cruz for lunch and Julio's appointment. We got home at 3:30 p.m., which gave us fifteen minutes (brush teeth and dump shopping) before his dentist appointment at 4 p.m.

That was really fast, thank goodness. I even had time to unpack the shopping and update the Ruido website before heading off for parents' evening at school. He's doing rather well lately.

I dropped off Lou's paperwork in the school office, and they asked me to take some to her. Fine by me, since I'd left my yogurts in her fridge, and she'd left her shampoo in my car.

It was rather good timing. Little Sam was just refusing to get into his bath. So I asked him if he had a plastic duck, which got him into the bathroom, and between us we persuaded him into the bath.

I was just leaving Lou's when Theresa rang. Dee's flight was arriving early, so if I wanted to catch her before she disappeared off to Garafia, I'd better get to the airport immediately.

That's when I remembered that the yogurts were still in Lou's fridge. Never mind, they could stay there. I dashed off to the airport.

Dee's flight wasn't early after all, but that gave me chance to relax and chat to Helen and Theresa for ten minutes. And while I was there I treated myself to some UK magazines.

Then I had to get home and cook dinner.

And the yogurts are still in Lou's fridge.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

An Honorable Mention

"Dear Sheila:
Thanks for entering the fifth "On The Premises" mini-contest. We received 48 entries. Yours didn't earn a cash prize, but was one of three chosen as an honorable mention."

The story is up at On The Premises Mini #5

Getting it Written

Yesterday afternoon I went to a party. I wanted to ask a fellow writer there how he manages to write so fast. This is a man who produced a first draft in a couple of months.

Then I had such a good time that I forgot all about it. Until he said, "Excuse me, I must go and do some writing," and disappeared for maybe half an hour. He came back looking happy, and carried on partying.

So I think I got my answer, don't you?

And I got to see a lovely view from their roof.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

The Mummy's Curse

Flash Fiction Online want to buy my Feghoot, "The Mummy's Curse" for the April 2009 issue. It's a long wait, but a great market, so I'm chuffed.

What's a Feghoot? It's a very short story ending in a groan-worthy pun. I've got three on my website: "Caught in the Oort", "Oh Baby!" and "Conan the Librarian"

The editor of Flash Fiction Online described "The Mummy's Curse" as "pretty funny, in a painful may-I-please-poke-my-eyeballs-out sort of way".

You have been warned. Proceed at your own risk.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Tour Guiding again

This morning I took a party of kids around the Herschel Telescope. It was the first time for about 6 months, so I felt rusty, but it went fairly well. It really helped that the tech staff moved the dome and telescope for us.

The bad part was that I'd forgotten how cold the wind can be up there, and I wasn't dressed for it at all.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Dying of Embarrassment

Tomorrow is my first day of the summer, tour guiding at the British telescopes, and I want to look respectable. After all, I'll be representing the British Telescopes to nearly fifty people. So I got out my tour guide outfit and checked that it still fits, and found matching shoes, and so on.

I also dyed my hair, because the roots were getting very noticeable.

Now I used the same hair dye for years with no trouble, but recently they stopped making that colour. So I tried another from the same make, but it was rather too loud for my taste, especially at first. Today I tried a different make, hoping for a more subtle effect.

Subtle? My hair looks like a flashing neon sign. It's the visual equivalent of a bl***y air-raid siren! And it's too late to dye it again.

Oh well, I suppose the guide's not suppose to fade into the background.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008


I had the first part of my morning all planned: drop my son off at school, take little Sam to creche, and then swing by Cancajos for a photo on my way to breakfast with Norma. They were all quick jobs, so I expected to get to Norma's just after nine.

Sam wasn't his usual happy self when I got there, so we waited a while before I took him to nursery. This was OK - two year olds are not machines and I knew Norma would understand. In fact it's nice that Sam's usually such a happy, placid little boy.

As I left the nursery, I realised that I'd left the bacon for our breakfast sandwiches in the fridge. So I phoned Norma to warn her that I was running late, and went home.

Carlos was still there, having breakfast. We chatted while I added some ketchup to my bag and left. I got most of the way to San Antonio before the penny dropped. Still no bacon.

I parked and checked. Nope. No bacon.

I went home again, feeling really stupid. Although I suppose it's not all bad that I still find my husband distracting after almost 14 years of marriage.

I managed to grab my photo of Cancajos, and got to Norma's, a mere half hour late.

Ah well, as Cervantes said, "hunger's the best sauce." I really enjoyed my bacon sandwich when I finally got it.

Monday, May 05, 2008


Today I won three (count 'em) online lotteries, for a total of some $2,200,000.

So who needs a day job?

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Barbecued Writer

I came back from the barbecue looking rather pink in places. Obviously I should have used suncream. And then, like a twit, I sat on the balcony for about twenty minutes next morning, enjoying the view and a cup of tea, without cream again. It didn't look bad.

At least I had the sense to wear suncream when I went out to photograph the crosses. (See the blog about La Palma) But it was too little, too late, and by the time I went to see my friend Farida, I was a glorious shade of tomato.

Poor Farida was busy talking to a builder about finishing the job another builder had started and then abandoned halfway through, leaving a right bl**** mess in the house. By the time we'd actually had a chat, it was time to meet Norma in Los Cancajos for a drink and a walk.

The idea was to lose weight, but the Swiss cake shop was open, so I wound up sabotaging our efforts at a healthy lifestyle, in the nicest possible way. We did have a walk as well, but I'm sure we ate a lot more calories than we burned.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Cue the BBQ

Since yesterday and tomorrow are public holidays, my son had the day off school today. Since it's Friday, Helen and Theresa would be coming to Santa Cruz for a Spanish lesson, and visiting me afterwards. Meanwhile Lou would be stuck alone at home with her foot in plaster and a toddler.

Cue for barbecue. And then we found Lou's partner had the day off too, even though he hadn't been told about it (!) We all went up to the leisure site at Monte de las Breñas. There are several of these dotted around the island. Each features brick or stone barbecue pits, water taps, tables and chairs. Some (Monte de las Breñas included) also have things like swings, slides and toilets. I brought along marinaded meat and salad, Lou brought lemon meringue pie, and Helen and Theresa did most of the cooking. To my amazement, I got the charcoal going on one match (plus paper, twigs and bark). We stuffed.

And now it's back to the translation. You know, the one I should be doing instead of cleaning balconies and enjoying myself.

My little bit of Heaven

I'm not usually big on possessions. I don't find happiness in the "right" designer label on my handbag, or a flash car. But my goodness, I'm happy with my new patio furniture.

Our house has a terrific view from the balcony, but I never spent much time out there because it was a mess, the old plastic chairs were uncomfortable, and we had no table. It was one of those jobs I wrote on my New Year goals several years running, and never seemed to get around to.

Now a shop in the next village is having a closing down sale because the owners are retiring, and the patio furniture is 20% off. This was the kick up the rear that I needed. I spent most of yesterday tidying up the balcony, and this morning they delivered the furniture.

And just to make it perfect, a couple of Woman's Weeklies arrived from my sister-in-law, so I could sit out here and read.