Bus Journeys

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I am one of life’s unfortunates who never learned to drive. I had lessons at 17 with an instructor who looked somewhat like a 70’s snooker player, but I didn’t have the mentality that enabled me to do more than look where I’m going, press pedals and be aware of other road users. My driving lessons came to an end when one foggy afternoon I took a wrong turn down a country lane and the instructor said:

I hope nobody sees us, they could get the wrong idea…”

I promptly collapsed into giggles, nearly crashed the car and thus ended my driving career.

Since then, I have been completely reliant on public transport, which on the whole is reasonable, although I have learned to carry plenty of tissues and plastic bags. On the other hand, there have been times when I long for the comfort of a car, the confidence and smugness that a car bestows on you, as you roll smoothly past a queue of miserable wet people waiting patiently in the rain like sodden newspapers… I had one particular week where every other bus journey, some child threw up… I have learned to sit at least two seats away from children. One day, I was fortunate enough to witness a natural phenomena: a father had been kind enough to take his children swimming – I deduced this from their conversation. I smiled politely at the family whilst keeping a wary eye on the youngest son, who was strangely quiet. Then – he went from white to green in a matter of seconds. In a matter of seconds I was amazed, amused, then appalled as said child produced a copious amount of vomit, quite out of proportion to his size…

Told you ya shouldn’t a had ‘em crisps!” his sister gloated.

I murmured sympathetically and handed over tissues to the embarrassed father…

WP_20160428_15_53_23_Pro (2).jpgThese stones aid and protect travellers… (from left to right: Red Calcite, African Turquoise, Angelite and Malachite)

Unfortunately, my propensity for inappropriate laughter has shown no signs of leaving me as I get older… Bus journeys are the worst as you have no means of rapid exit either… On my route home, there is a poor old man that I see unfailingly every week on a certain day. He has a habit… a habit of clearing his throat loudly and disconcertingly, and one day as he was making him way to a seat, the bus lurched, he grabbed the seat in from of me and: “HmmHMMMhm!!” about four inches from my face. That was it. I snorted, gulped, wheezed and shook with silent giggles. I was with my youngest son who has the same tendency for the giggles, but as an actor, he is able to return to straight-faced immobility in a second, leaving me choking and spluttering like a walrus.

I see this poor old man every week, and as he shuffles past me, the doubtful look he gives me is enough to start the tidal wave of unstoppable, unforgivable mirth.

I’m so sorry. If you’re ever on a bus and you see a strange woman festooned with plastic bags, clutching tissues and snuffling with laughter, it’s probably me… sorry…

All photos were taken by my son!

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Smoking…

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I have decided to stop smoking. No, no, don’t try and stop me (…please… someone stop me…) but I have decided I can no longer justify the amount of money I spend on my twenty a day habit.

I started smoking when I was thirteen, one of the benefits of an all girls’ school – I also learned how to drink with relish practically anything, a skill that served me well when I progressed to university and student promotion nights, however, that’s a whole different story… I loved the secrecy of my school smoking habit. I loved the mystery of: “Where’s she gone? Ooh I bet she’s gone out for a cigarette…” By the time my peers had discovered that smoking is actually rubbish, I was well and truly hooked.

I have absolutely no willpower. I am under no illusions that it will be easy, but since I started blogging, I am, dare I say it? – finding myself again, and I hate the power nicotine has over me, the control issues, like being frantic in the morning when I wake and know it’s still two hours until the shop opens, kicking myself because I didn’t buy another twenty the night before. I resent other people trying to impose their will on me, so why should I be dictated to by a paper tube filled with noxious shredded leaves that you wouldn’t feed to a goat?

It’s a love-hate relationship. I am hating what smoking does to me, and yet… and yet… I love the actions involved with smoking, the satisfying first extra-specially deep breath to pull the smoke into my lungs, the savoury smoke settling across my tongue right to the last inhalation where the tar is so strong it burns your nasal passages.

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(These crystals are supposed to help with discarding bad habits: Dumortierite, Apatite and Amethyst)

I’ve tried all the so-called ‘aids’ to stop smoking. The gum made me sick so I had to have a cigarette. The patches made me itch so I had to have a cigarette. The inhalators made me retch so I had to have a cigarette. The tablets gave me a funny heartbeat so I… yes, you see where I’m going with this.

So. Willpower. I’m stuffed.

All photos were taken by my son!

Moonstone and Meows

Moonstone and Meows

There seems to be the conclusion after years of research and various television programmes that cats only learned to use the meow to speak to humans… Sorry, but I beg to differ, although I am but a humble cat owner of many years, against white-coated scientific superiority…

My Siamese meows all the time. At the other cats. I know Siamese are particularly vocal, but she seems to delight in bellowing a meow in the faces of the others. Obviously she meows at her humans, but the other day she sauntered into the kitchen and “WAAHED”-ed at my older black cat. Was she asking her for food?

You’ll do, you’re a senior cat, open the cat food!” or just:

Hey how you doing?…”

Moonstone is a recent discovery for me, courtesy of my son and his crystal lady. I have several pieces, from rainbow to white to cream, all with individual benefits and the colours remind me irresistibly of cat colours… I aspire to owning a piece of black moonstone – take note, son!

My brown piece seems a plain brown stone until you turn it over and it catches the light, then it bursts into life with a golden sheen, reminiscent of my tabby as she rolls and reveals a golden tummy, delicately spotted with black… A typical interpretation of Moonstone is that it is good for promoting intuition, a stone of new beginnings, but serves as a reminder that we are all part of a continuing cycle of change, just as the moon waxes and wanes. It is primarily a stone of female energy that balances the male-female status. It soothes emotional instability, and provides emotional healing and comfort… much as the comfort and pleasure I derive from stroking my cats.

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My piece of Brown Moonstone with its golden sparkles… In the corners are Cream Moonstone…

Rainbow Moonstone is a beautiful stone that seems to hold the mysteries of the Universe in its depths. Even in the dullest light, there are sparks of blue and wondrous clouds that bring to mind the Big Bang and creation. Yet even as you wonder at the power of the unknown mysteries of the Universe, there is a reassurance to be felt from holding it, that you can BE so much more. Rainbow Moonstone is said to resonate at a higher level, in tune with the higher chakras to help develop your own psychic abilities.

A beautiful stone, both varied and versatile, pretty much like my cats’ conversations. They all have different meows; my youngest black cat sounds more like a honking goose, my oldest one, a squeaky toy. My Siamese has a constant ‘stream of consciousness’ going on: “Hi, where have you been? I’ve been outside and rolled on the pavement, then I saw an earwig, but it ran away…” My tabby, the smallest but most important cat, only meows when she has something important to say, so everybody will stop and listen.

My son was holding her up outside the front room window once, so she could see me inside – I saw her little mouth move, then when he came in with her, he was crying with laughter…

She saw you and said: ‘My Mama!’”

It’s a proud moment when your baby says her first words…!

All photos were taken by my son!

Cats and Rats

Cats and Rats

When I was a little girl, we all lived in a cottage in the country, my father, my mother, my sister and I… They loved it. I did not. We had ponies – my sister loved them. I did not. My parents never even asked me, they just assumed that like most little girls, it would be a dream come true for me. My pony hated me and I didn’t really like him… My chosen companion was our large black cat. He was tolerant to a fault, as I stripped all my hated dolls of their clothes and proceeded to dress him in paisley patterned frocks and little bonnets… I suffered from night terrors as a child so he was my defender of the dark hours and his comforting purr would soothe me back to sleep as I awoke from nightmares of being chased by mad horses and bitten by sheep.

Angry Bott

My tabby doing what I call,  ‘The Angry Bott’ pose, she wanted her toy rat back!

However, being good parents, they endeavoured to make our every wish come true…

My sister pestered for rats. (By the way, rats make adorable pets. They’re clean, intelligent, loving and very responsive – just don’t get a male and a female unless you are prepared for LOTS of babies.) Now, at this time, rats as pets were quite a novelty, but my father managed to get a pair of Japanese Hooded rats. A male and a female. Can you guess what happened next?

Nature. In due course, we had lots of lovely little baby rats. Then some more. Then quite a lot more.

My father built a bigger cage from an old cupboard, because he wanted to keep his daughters happy, with a big mesh top and glass front so we could watch and interact with our pets… One day, my sister (she’s ten years older than me by the way, so the following incident is all entirely down to her, nothing to do with me at all) said: “Let’s get the rats out!” We looked at them, wondering at the intricacy of the little metropolis they had built, full of busyness, some were playing in the corner, others were gnawing on on a cardboard tube, some were gathered around the food bowl, others were sweetly sleeping in a heap.

My sister lifted the lid. All activity stopped. The sleepers awoke. Eighteen or so pairs of beady eyes turned upwards to our hopeful, expectant faces. Then –

RAT EXPLOSION!

Little ratty bodies exploded this way and that, like furry fireworks as they left the comfort of the cage for freedom and the great unknown. Pink feet scrabbled, wormy tails swished as they disappeared behind cupboards, into skirting boards, some more daring ones dashing towards the (of course) open kitchen door. Our cat sat and watched (“I don’t recall rat catcher being part of the job description when I applied, substitute cuddly toy and dress up doll, yes…”) as my sister and I wept and searched.

I learnt some interesting new words that day… we recovered six.

Did some of your friends have some rats?” my father asked my sister.

Oh yes,” she lied unblushingly, “they’re really popular now.”

About six months later, my father noticed we were starting to have a bit of a pest problem. Strange damage to carpets and wiring, scratching coming from the attic. Our cat had the air of someone going about important business, with barely a moment to spare, or grab a bite to eat. (“Well, when needs must, I suppose, call it a favour to a friend…”) When I started having nightmares about trolls in the attic, my father thought it was time to call the pest control man and have a look at what was going on.

A good couple of hours later, the pest control man stumbled from the attic, looking strange… “I’m gonna have to report this mate, them’s the funniest looking rats I’ve ever seen… Might be a new breed.”

Girls!” my father roared, as the penny dropped. We made like the rats and left – rapidly!

Boxes.

Boxes.

I have a thing about boxes… They don’t have to be fancy, or decorative, I am just as appreciative of a sturdy, well-made cardboard box that holds the promise of things put neatly away as I am of ornamental boxes made from rosewood that once held tea leaves to satin lined jewellery boxes.

I like the symmetry of neatly stacked storage boxes that hold mementos from my sons’ childhoods, every mangled clay dish, smudged finger painting and files of certificates and achievement awards.

Not that I’m a hoarder. Far from it.

“Mum, where’s my…” – fill in as appropriate

“Have you used it in the past two weeks?”

“No…”

“Well I probably threw it away…”

I’ve seen some television programmes where the people hoard to excess, and mountains of newspapers, broken electrical items etc. line the rooms of their houses, leaving them a three foot gap in which to shuffle round. That, to me, is unbearable – all they need is a few nice, strong boxes to but all their things in, they can even label them, then – job done!

My cats share my box obsession. I have watched with amusement as my younger black cat, who is somewhat generously proportioned, settled herself in a box more designed for guinea pigs, her spare fur spilling over the sides, like overflowing muffin mix. I have walked past a box that I have yet to fill and shrieked with surprise as a tabby paw flashes out to grab my ankle. However, they do not extend their enthusiasm to the cat carriers – I have these left these out, made them part of the house furniture, just as you’re supposed to… the cast must sense its change of purpose when it’s time to go to the vets, as they do the most extraordinary manoeuvre of telescoping in on themselves, then re-directing their bodies away from the door to escape…

I have discussed my box obsession with my therapist…

“What do these boxes symbolise for you, Samantha?”

“Well, nothing really, I just put stuff in them.”

“And what do you do with the bad feelings?”

“Put them in plastic bags and throw them away…”

*Puzzled and slightly distressed silence from therapist.*

Actually, I suppose I could have told him that in a sense, it’s a coping mechanism for me, environment controlling when I feel that things are getting out of hand… Sometimes I even put boxes in boxes – imagine the satisfaction…

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LOOK! ROCKS IN A BOX!

Also, in a way, perhaps I am preparing for my final box… Nothing fancy kids, just a good strong cardboard box and leave me out with the recycling!

All photos were taken by my son!

YAAAY! My first nomination for anything EVER!

YAAAY! My first nomination for anything EVER!

First of all, I would like to thank Violet AKA CrazyCatMama for nominating me as I am a complete novice blogger and it is nice to know people are reading and enjoying my posts (I hope!) I can thoroughly recommend https://crazycatmamablog.wordpress.com/ for interesting and informative posts about cat behaviour and nutrition or just plain ol’ cat chat.

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These are my answers to the questions she asked me… I kind of waffled in places…

 

  1. What are you passionate about?

That’s tricky… I feel very strongly about animal cruelty – it’s on the increase and the attitude that just because they’re animals they’re expendable infuriates me. ALL life is important and animals can show us a lot about how to live our lives. I hate bullies, who are obviously so inadequate in their own lives they feel they can impose that on other people, through intimidation and insults. I hate negativity, it’s soul-destroying and pointless… On the other hand, I am passionate about my cats, animals only have little lives and it’s our duty to make them as happy as we can while they’re with us. I’m passionate about my kids, and although they’re 21 and 16, I still like texts from them so I know they’re safe… (“Mum, I’m in exactly the same place as I was an hour ago, a History lesson…”)

  1. What is your favourite animal? (Wild or domesticated)

Cats have to be my favourite domesticated animals, I’ve had them ever since I was a little girl. In fact, my first memory was walking round the garden with my first cat, typical kid-style, holding him under his armpits, so his back feet were touching the ground and walking with me… My favourite wild animal, another cat, no surprises there, would have to be the snow leopard, beautiful and endangered.

  1. What is your favourite food/meal?

I’m not really a big foodie. I adore watching cookery programmes and following food blogs, and I’m a reasonable cook, I just have certain issues with food… Quite like chocolate digestives though – do they count?

  1. If you had all the money in the world, what would you do with it?

I would establish animal centres all over that would provide all the necessary veterinary care, so no more animals would suffer. Then I would sort the refugee crisis, establish world peace, remove corrupt politicians from office, eradicate poverty, provide better social care for adults and the elderly, sort the NHS – is there a time limit on this?…

  1. What’s your favourite pastime?

All sorts really. I enjoy reading, going to the cinema and theatre and I’ve only recently re-discovered how much I enjoy writing. Otherwise, just hanging out with the cats and exchanging witty banter…

  1. What is your favourite genre of books?

Crime, thrillers, mystery that sort of thing. I have particularly enjoyed Elly Griffiths’ series featuring Ruth Galloway, a forensic archaeologist, although I do enjoy some classic authors like D.H. Lawrence and the Brontë sisters.

  1. If you could go on holiday anywhere in the world right now, where would you go?

Israel. I went there when I was thirteen on holiday with my mother and it just had the most amazing vibe. We did the usual tours of both Christian and Jewish sites and the sense of history, a shared human history is just amazing.

  1. What is your happiest memory?

That’s actually a really hard one… I’ve had depression since I was very young, various other stuff happened too complicated to go in to, so I’m going to go for a recent memory that was happy. Last year, my younger son and I went to see ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ at the theatre. He wants to be an actor, I love the theatre so we were both really excited. We had good seats, and as the lights dimmed and the iconic first few notes started, we just looked at each other… that was enough.

  1. What is your religion/belief system?

I don’t have a named belief system as such, I’ve been drawn to things that speak to me from all sorts of beliefs. Ultimately, we are all trying to find our way back to source, or truth, or universal light, how you get there or what you call it doesn’t matter. I love the words of the Serenity Prayer, and I try to live my life by the Dalai Lama’s words: ‘This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.’

  1. What does love mean to you?

Another difficult one… it depends on how you interpret the word. One can ‘love’ chocolate biscuits… I suppose the most important meaning of ‘love’ for me is the love I have for my sons, you’ll do anything for your children and once I became a mother, I felt that was now the most important job description. And of course I love my cats! The unquestioning faith they have in me and the bond between us is ‘love’. A blessing and reward.

 

So, my nominees are:

1) https://lizianblog.com because she’s featured in some of my posts and I love her gentle wisdom and humour and unfailing good nature.

2) https://blogiantimothy.com for your unique world view and for giving me the courage and inspiration to write again. Also, thank you for your kindness and support to my son.

3) https://mirandavoice.com her posts have beautiful photos and lyrical descriptions – I feel as if I am there too.

4) https://endsandbeginningsblog.wordpress.com I love all his posts, he writes on a range of subjects, all of which I find interesting.

5) https://lilyandardbeg.wordpress.com she writes with compassion and empathy, some of her posts have moved me to tears.

6) https://reflectionsonlifeandfood.wordpress.com Another blogger who writes lovely posts about a range of subjects, again I found some of her posts really emotional.

11 Random Facts about me

1) I went to boarding school.

2) I have a secret passion for the music of Justin Bieber

3) It took me 20 years to pluck up the courage to tell my mother I don’t like brussel sprouts.

4) I can’t drive.

5) I wanted to be an archaeologist (I’m not, by the way.)

6) My favourite joke of the moment it:

          Q. What do you call an exploding monkey?

          A. A BaBOOM!

7) I love watermelon – the first time I tried it was by the Trevi Fountain in Rome when I was 12.

8) I love ‘The Deadliest Catch’, ‘Family Guy’ and ‘Dance Moms.’

9) I’ve been bitten by a sheep.

10) I don’t like fizzy drinks.

11) I broke my wrist when I was ten, falling in a school corridor.

Here are my questions for other people… some are deep and meaningful, some I’m just curious about!

1) Do you believe in reincarnation? If so, why?

2) If you could only eat one food item for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?

3) What makes you cry and why? (Can be tears of joy or sadness)

4) What music would you have at your funeral?

5) If a film of your life was made, who would play you?

6) Jungle or desert and why?

7) What is your favourite item of jewellery and why?

8) What was most defining moment in your life?

9) What is your favourite joke/one liner?

10) What is your favourite colour?

Don’t forget your 11 random facts please… looking forward to them! Thank you to everyone who’s been reading, I really appreciate it!

Selenite and Siamese

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I first encountered Selenite when I attended a Mind, Body and Spirit event with my son. His crystal-wise lady was there with a luscious display… brightly coloured Jaspers jostled for attention, Rose Quartz glowed and beckoned enticingly, but as I looked I was drawn to a plain, unassuming white bar-of-soap sized silky rock. Upon hearing that it can help with insomnia and clear mental confusion, I bought it.

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However, there is much more to it than that. A typical interpretation of Selenite is that it brings clarity of mind, helping access to the higher chakras and guidance. In the house, it can ensure a peaceful atmosphere and prevent outside influences taking control. Although it has ancient origins, it’s got quite a good ‘New Age’ vibe going on which seems appropriate in the 21st century where technology is rushing us on and we are losing touch with our own prehistory.

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Another drawing of my Siamese – was she sleeping or meditating?

Siamese cats are one of the most ancient cat breeds, traditionally owned by the royal family of Siam. They are supposed to be highly intelligent, graceful, vocal, a practical pinnacle of cat perfection… My Siamese, bless her heart, aspires to her ancient heritage, but is very much a cat of the 21st century with a dash of 60’s hippy chick thrown in for good measure.

Her creamy fur will shine in the sun as she communes with Mother Nature, lying in the grass on her back with her legs in the air, like the sheen on Selenite if you catch it in the right light. Selenite is an excellent focus for meditation, very calming and soothing; my cat is an excellent meditation partner, until her gentle snoring gives her away. I can watch her antics for hours as she stalks butterflies, twisting and leaping like a feline ballerina, or as she wrestles with her sister, Brazilian Capoeira comes irresistibly to mind.

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The name “ Selenite “ derives from the Greek word for moon – “Selene” and I cannot help but liken my little cat to the celestial vault…her eyes are the bright blue of a summer’s day and she has a child-like innocence and wonder at the world of today. Yet she appreciates a well-made bed, cat-tech and central heating.

Her engaging innocence and happiness never fails to lift my spirits and her Siamese howl is unmistakeable – wahhh!

 

 

All photos were taken by my son!