Thursday, January 29, 2015

Beach, Garden, Studio, family. :)

January is a hard month. Cold nights and short days. But it has been very beautiful, with clear sunny days and starry nights. Because I am being ultra careful of keeping Bonnie on a lead we go for walks first thing in the morning, before the sunrise, and at midday, and then at sunset. Usually I take her out in the night, too. It sounds like hard work, but it is worth it, to see these moments of the day. When the sky is blushing peach, or the stars are shining brightly and the trees are dark silhouettes against the horizon.

I have been visiting Milfontes, the seaside town, to go to the dentist and so I've been taking her. She loves to run on the dunes and the empty beach. I picked a few stones for the garden while I was there.

I did a bit of playing around with paints in my lovely new studio. It felt so good to be in there. I lit the fire, then started to open art books, then open paint tubes...

I have been digging over the beds, getting ready to put in some potatoes. The garlic is up, and the broad beans look leafy. Cabbage seedlings have survived the chilly nights and are growing. The soil is feeling good. The compost is excellent.

I have been building a porch around the studio. I feel very proud of the fact that I have overcome my feelings of inability when it comes to power tools, and actually manages to drill and screw in twisty bits of olive branches to make a funny looking thing, but when the plants grow up I think it's going to look gorgeous. It's to shelter the front of the building from the driving rain, and the boiling sun. We shall see.

Started to play with mud! It feels so good!

Laura and the girls came over to help
Mud is safe for anyone to work with!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

A Room Of My Own!

I couldn't wait any longer! I loaded up the wheel barrow and teetered down the steep narrow path to the studio. R stood in the doorway roaring with laughter... Perhaps it was an amusing sight.

He helped me carry down the treadle sewing machine. Neither of us were laughing then. It is very heavy and awkward. We took a few breaks, but finally, it is in place. I put some cardboard under the feet so as not to make too deep dents in the floor.

Then we took the table down.
I went up and down the path quite a few times today. It was cold and windy so I got nice and warm.

 I lit the fire. It was very smoky to start. Cold chimney.

 I love the effect of the carpet. It looks so homey. The mice have had a nibble of one end, but who cares. All this space, just for me! I played tag with Bonnie on the carpet.

Then I put my art books on the table and stood up the easel. The fire began to draw and throw out some heat. It felt so good I just had to do something so I set up the sewing machine and got going!

The light poured down from the window. North- ish. Perfect. I oiled the machine a few weeks ago so it is going beautifully.
The chair made a dint in the floor but I will fill it in later. The mud putty I made has worked really well. It has gone hard and smooth. Like it.
Bonnie on the Sofa
The other news is that Bobby has gone to Germany. I hope he has a wonderful life there. The farmer has asked for an outrageous amount of money and no proof and we see that he is trying to cheat the ignorant, rich, estrangeiros. I am a bit shocked and sad about this. We shall see what happens next.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Bye Bye Bad Boy Bobby

Enjoying the Winter Sun

Bobby, bad boy Bobby. I got fed up with not being able to trust him. He goes off and takes Bonnie with him, and they have been chasing sheep. Also, I couldn't just leave the door open. Always having to check which dog was chained up. That is not my kind of life. And I don't have the time to train him.
So last Monday we tossed a coin. Heads, he goes to the municipal kennel. Heads it was. So off he went.
I felt a bit bad for him but so much better for us.
Then I got a message from our neighbours who live in Germany most of the time, that they would take Bobby to Germany. One of them would fly out especially to get him! Yikes!
So I zoomed back to the kennel and retrieved him. Just for one more week, I told myself. Anyway, he and Bonnie went out on Saturday evening and attacked the sheep again. We had an angry farmer come and visit. I felt so bad.
I know just how bad it is, having had sheep in my childhood, and dogs that do bad things...
We await a nasty bill. Bad boy Bobby is banned from the sofa and has to spend his days on a chain outside, and unfortunately, Bonnie has to be, too. I hate this, but I will not let it happen again.
On a brighter note, I made friends with a women via FB, who had seen photos of my cob studio and she came from Denmark to visit! It was her first time in Portugal and she is loving it. She is staying in my little house in Sao Luis and getting a feel for the rural life. We picked oranges off the tree for juice. That always feels good.
The garden is slowly beginning to reawaken and look cared for. Bean poles in place. Peas peeping through the soil. We planted a few more trees. It has been a great winter. Dry and sunny with amazing sunsets. Cold at night but that feels good when you're warm inside.
The Vegetable Garden

The tobacco plants got very big and I finally cut them down and hung them upside down in the green house. When the first plant's leaves had gone pale brown I took them off the stem and brought them up to the house and broke them up into smaller bits and it smells lovely. R tried smoking some but it kept going out, so we have ordered a clay pipe to puff on! Neither of us are smokers, but the odd puff of home grown can't be bad.

Isabella in the Green House Beside the Tobacco

Thursday, January 1, 2015

A Quick Look Back

At the start of a new year I find time to look back. It's been a year full of doings. The studio has taken up most of my time, even though I wasn't working on it full-time. It occupied my head. I still find it hard to believe that I built it with just my hands and feet. It's not finished, and I had rather hoped it would be, to have done it in a year, but then I thought that was a restrictive way of thinking, so now I have relaxed.
1st January, 2014

February, drainage ditch dug

March, on the pile of earth

Reciprocal roof trial, April

Now it's growing. June

Roof on. September

Wwoofers plastering. October


The floor is going well despite my misgivings. I was worried that the earth was too dry for tamping, but the oil is soaking in and creating a better surface. I have run out of oil and have to wait til next week before I can get some more. That's hard! But I have been spending more time in the garden, planting onions, garlic, beetroot and carrots. (It being a 'root' day in the moon calender.)

The weather is brilliant. Very cold at night, but clear blue skies during the day. It feels cosy having the wood burner chugging away, a kettle full of hot water at the ready. I cook slow stews on it too. They taste so good.

The garlic Isabella and I planted have come up, and the broad beans look leafy and healthy. I have sown a load of chick peas but someone said it was too early. I think that if it's ok to plant peas, then chick peas will probably be fine, too.

Rosy dawn.