Bank Holiday Story…

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This is a little story that I wrote that was initially accepted by Copper Staple. I thought I would post it for something to do… (typical Bank Holiday weather)

Crystal spheres have a mysterious reputation throughout history, being used for scrying, telling fortunes and predicting the future. I don’t do any of these. But the featured picture is a Clear Calcite sphere, a crystal for strongly amplifying your energy, as well as being very strongly linked to the mind and helping us access memories…

The Look

The woman was happy enough with her life. Every day she got up at 6am, prepared her simple breakfast of yoghurt and fruit, then left for work.

Her job was undemanding, yet fulfilling, in that she had a steady wage that was sufficient for all her bills. She did what was asked of her at work, and just that. She offered no suggestions and made no attempt to work on her own initiative. Why should she? She did as she was told and what was expected of her – no more, no less.

Every Sunday she ate a dutiful dinner with her parents, usually an over baked chicken, greasy roast potatoes and cabbage boiled until the fight had gone out of it.

Her mother, grey and worn, always seemed pleased to see her, but she never said a word. Her father accepted her presence as part of her daughterly homage and treated her to lengthy lectures on politics and how the world would be a better place if there were more people like him in it.

And so it continued.

One day, she ventured into the city centre, somewhere she usually avoided as she found the noise and busyness intimidating. She enjoyed half an hour in a discount bookshop where she bought a simple recipe book and a philosophy for beginners manual.

Holding her purchases carefully, she made her way outside, where people were just starting to gather and throng. Couples with linked hands, herds of teenagers, giggling and screaming. The sad and the lost, cans of beer and carrier bags gripped with fury at the world.

And then… and then… a sudden upswelling in her heart. The hairs on the back of her neck stood up in awareness, her blood pounded in her ears. She turned and her eyes were seized by those of a man, barely her own height, but with stature, poise, magnetism.

They drew her in, those dark eyes and spoke to her of a centuries-old love between them that had been found and lost so many times in the telling it was older than time itself. A link, a connection, so strong that the very air between them seemed to sparkle with it. His dark eyes called to her with relief and love, calling to her to leave and come now, straight away with him. A yearning, a love, a beckoning.

Big Issue please?”

The moment was broken and lost. She turned desperately, seeking the eyes of the one who knew her, but he had gone.

She returned home, and cried, a little.

She never saw him again, but she never forgot him. In time, she married and produced the children that were expected of her.

And so it continued.

Yet always, in her heart, she nursed a secret hope that her soulmate, her kindred spirit would find her again. Perhaps not in this lifetime though.

She never forgot him.

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My personal favourite crystal, Rose Quartz, renowned for being the stone of unconditional love, opening the heart to receive and emit compassion…

Copyright © 2016 Samantha Murdoch 

Pyrite and Purring

Pyrite and Purring

M y first piece of Iron Pyrite – a magical golden bean…

Cats are unique in the Animal Kingdom in that they can purr. A sustained vibration of the vocal chords as they breathe in and out that usually signifies happiness and contentment, it starts when they are kittens with their mother as they knead and suckle, and stays with them throughout their lives, a memory perhaps of when they were babies and first felt warm, safe and protected.

Cats don’t always necessarily purr when they are happy, some purr when they are frightened to comfort themselves, or when they have been injured, to stimulate healing and repair, as recent scientific research has discovered. The wonderful blogs askNapi and Castle Vets Reading recently both did excellent posts on purring and the health benefits of owning a pet in far more detail than me…!

I love the sound of cats purring. To me, it will always be a sound I associate with comfort and love. I have always been an uneasy sleeper. It started when I was very young, and suffered from night terrors. The only way my mother could persuade me to sleep was by allowing my cat, Snoopy, into my room and on the bed, where he would curl, stoically, and proceed to watch over me, the deep bass rumble of his purr keeping the sleep demons at bay. I rang the Cat’s Protection League the other day and was entranced to hear that while I was on hold, instead of music, they played a cat purring… I was almost sorry when my call was answered…

Four Kitties (2)Four corners to my bed, Four angels round my head…

My current four girls all have different purrs and it takes varying degrees of persuasion to get them to purr. My Siamese is the easiest, a simple remark:

Who’s beautiful then?” will set her off.

Oh, you must mean me, thank you, if you insist…” and she rumbles away like a little engine.

Lily is the hardest, but usually a throat rub will begin the tiniest vibration of the smallest purr. Tooty will purr to attract attention:

I’m here, go on, you know you want to stroke me…”

But with Charlie, you have to massage the back of her neck in just the right place to conjure up her melodic purr.

I will never forget my sons’ smiles when they were little, and I showed them how to stroke my cat gently, without hurting him. Walter was the best of cats, forbearing, tolerant, and the smiles on their faces as he rewarded them with purrs as their little fingers learned the texture of cat fur!

Precious Walter 1My beloved cat Walter,  18th March 1993 – 11th February 2010

Obviously then, cats are beneficial not only on a psychological level, but also on a physical level, much like Pyrite. Iron Pyrite is a lovely, positive stone. You could almost touch the healing that vibrates throughout it, like a contented cat’s purr. A typical interpretation is that it banishes inertia and feelings of inadequacy and deflects harm, as it is an excellent energy shield. Emotionally, it can help with melancholy whilst physically it treats bones and stimulates cell formation, perhaps resonating at the same frequency as a cat’s purr.

WP_20160527_10_43_41_Pro (2)A stunning example of a Pyrite Sun (thanks as always to Lizian) that reminds me of a Viking god’s war shield!

My chief procurer of crystals, my son, brought me my lovely piece of Pyrite one day. I was taken at once with its tactile shape and feeling of solidity and strength. Dressed in a uniform shade of dull gold, it is not perhaps the prettiest crystal I’ve ever owned, but it is confident, unassuming ‘worker’ stone as I have discovered. It helps to manage the arthritis in my hip, as warming and soothing as a hot water bottle.

WP_20160527_10_44_17_Pro (2)Rough Iron Pyrite, or Fool’s Gold as it is sometimes called (thank you Lizian once again!) it looks like something that ought to be part of a dragon’s hoard!

Pyrite and purring, comfort and warmth. Cats and companionship, I am grateful to all my cats, the successive generations of my feline family who have purred a soothing soundtrack of love through some of my darkest moments.

All photos were taken by my son!

Woodlice…

Woodlice…

I am not a big fan of the Insect Kingdom although to be fair, everything has a place in the Universe. Woodlice, along with spiders, bother me particularly. You get the odd solitary woodlouse, walking along the skirting board with the directness of a guided missile. Put something in their way, or try to capture it and they will will extend their feelers robotically, wave them up and down to inspect the obstacle, then make a 90o turn and carry on their way. Turn over a log, or lift a plant pot, and a seething mass of scurrying ensues as these alien monsters hide from the light.

Stuff of nightmares indeed. They remind me of monster films from the 40’s and 50’s where plastic unconvincing models of dinosaurs knocked over cardboard cut out cities. One of my most memorable films, I forget the name now, featured an iguana, an obvious iguana, playing the part of a sea monster. It looked uncomfortable and sad, fake spikes stuck to its back to make it look fierce. It flickered its tongue uneasily as miniaturised humans screamed in pretend fear and fled. It’s amusing how cinematic trends change and develop. Horror to me is not a plastic dinosaur and painted blood; but a hideous burned man in a red and green jumper with knives for fingers. I’ve only ever seen the film once, such was the effect on me. A monster that COULD get you in your dreams – I had nightmares for years as generations of my cats could testify, comforting me as I awoke panicky and sweating…

CAM00618Shopping Bag Monster Demon

One, two, Freddy’s coming for you…”

Likewise ‘Hellraiser’ and ‘Candyman’. I have only ever seen these films once, and although I would like to think I am a logical person, these films filled me with fear and dread, and a conviction that the creators of these characters had seen the dark side of the Universe…

NOSMOKINGTruly horrific…

Still. A place for everything and everything in its place. My son took the photos of these woodlice and although I shuddered in repulsion, it was the details… and I love a detail! I inspected them closer, and was forced to think again. The fantastic interlocking sections of armour plating, so carefully hinged to allow for flexibility and movement. Coated in shades of grey, from elephant trunk to mouse fur, inscribed in whorls like the bark of a tree. The legs, delicately jointed and small clawed feet to allow for gripping. The tiny mandibles, fluttering anxiously in search of the next mouthful of decaying wood or plant material, nothing more menacing or grotesque than that. I looked again and was charmed – almost – by the small red eyes, peering at me worriedly, and the waving feelers, as delicate as hairs and I was irresistibly reminded of an old lady, in a neat grey dress, perhaps a shopkeeper, enquiring as to what I would like…

A quarter of sherbet lemons? Some nice toffee dear?”

The woodlouse is actually a crustacean, so related to lobsters and crabs. However, I am not suggesting that you try woodlouse thermidor as they don’t taste very nice… (I haven’t tried, I’m just judging from the look on my cats’ faces whenever they have tried to eat one!) What made me re-consider woodlice is the fact that they are devoted mothers, carefully carrying their eggs in a special sac underneath their jointed shell, until they are ready for hatching. I would like to consider myself a devoted mother to both cats and children, and the nurturing quality of this little insect, or more correctly, arthropod, appealed to me.

WP_20160413_17_26_59_Pro (2)Woodlouse kebab anyone?

Next time you see a woodlouse, busily working its way around your room, or sitting peacefully under a log with its siblings and babies – look! A little miracle of evolution and God’s engineering!

All photos were taken by my son!

Cats and Frogs

Cats and Frogs
  • The common frog or Rana Temporaria – and he lives in my pond!

I have a secret passion… (no, not Justin Bieber) I am fascinated by amphibians. It began at an early age, I think I was about four, and we had a little pond in the garden. It was a beautiful summer’s day, as indeed they all seem to be when you are young, and I was sat by the side of the pond, with my black cat Snoopy, watching the comings and goings of the bees on the lavender bush. Suddenly, a slow crawling movement caught my eye. I turned to look, and a magical, mythical creature hauled itself onto a flat rock. It was marvellous! Smooth, dark shiny sides with a go-faster stripe of vivid red, and a leathery frill gracing the top of its back all the way down to the tapered tip of its tail.

This wonderful tiny monster turned to look at me imperiously, out of golden eyes. The cat, bemused by my interest in this thing, reached out a paw to poke it and at once it slipped away into the weed festooned depths of our little pond.

Mummy! MUMMY! There’s a dragon in the pond!” I ran inside, breathless with excitement at the fact a creature from storybooks was living in our pond. The cat followed me in, muttering under his breath:

Stupid child! It’s a small slimy mouse!”

I now know that it was in fact a Great Crested Newt, but so began my fondness and fascination with the amphibian world.

I had a Ladybird book, I think it was: ‘The Princess and The Frog’ – forget the stupid princess, I loved the pictures of the frog, beautifully detailed in shades of green with golden eyes and amazing webbed feet. Every time we went to the pet shop I would press my nose against the glass tanks where frogs sat complacently within, gulping happily to themselves. Toads were just as entrancing, with their delicate warty skin like brown currant buns. Tropical frogs amaze me, little enamelled pieces of jewellery made live.

My partner loves fish, consequently we have always had a pond. I was overjoyed when our first frogs moved in.

Well, as long as the rent’s reasonable, we’ll give it a trial? Six months…”

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Best keyring ever! – sitting on a chunk of Green Calcite, a mental healer which helps restore balance to the mind…

I love to hear them croaking on summers’ evenings, challenging each other to frogly duels for the hand of the frog princess… I watch anxiously as the tadpoles wriggle from their jelly bags and applaud their progress as they develop tiny arms and legs. Double joy when I recently discovered we have breeding toads as well, beaming amiably at me as I inadvertently interrupted them in toadish congress as I was clearing some dead leaves. I was poking around on WordPress and I found a wonderful blog The Frog Lady, she recently completed a challenge, a frog for every letter of the alphabet – what an achievement! – and also offers practical advice on caring for your own frogs.

My cats find as much enjoyment out of frogs as I do… although perhaps in different ways… Once, my old cat found one and brought it into the house where he left it in the hall. I was first up in the morning and I thought I was perhaps hallucinating, as a large and rather annoyed frog hopped slowly towards me:

If you’ll just point me in the right direction, I’ll let myself out, but really, let your cat know I’ll be asking for compensation next time…” My current girls have made the discovery that if they tap the frog with a paw, it will emit a high pitched squeak. Of course I ensure that no frog is distressed by my cats’ attention, there are plenty of froggy hiding places out of the reach of questing feline paws. Also, frogs secrete an unpleasant tasting mucus that deters predators. Now, apart from the occasional crossing of paths, my cats and frogs leave each other alone, apart from the expected pleasantries.

Morning girls, looking lovely…”

Ooh, he’s a saucy one, that frog!”

WP_20150731_12_41_38_Pro (3)Ting Tong enjoying the sunshine

To me then, there is nothing more pleasant on a summer’s evening than to sit outside with a cup of tea and my cats, watching the dragonflies dancing across the pond’s surface and listening to my frog orchestra.

All photos were taken by my son!

Stilbite and Strays

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Stray cats, and dogs too, for that matter, are an endemic problem that makes my heart ache. There are lots of animal charities that do most excellent work in raising awareness of this problem and combating it too, not to mention all the blogs that I have read and followed who add to the campaign and give practical help. First, thank you to them all and I will continue to support and help where I can.

Having said that, I have a stray cat problem that is driving me up the wall and upsetting my precious girls… There are two tom cats who are engaged in a battle for supremacy over my garden – I’m trying hard to win this one for the honour of my girls, but it is infuriating. Number One is a black and white cat with white paws and moustache that puts me in mind of Josef Stalin. He is sneaky and aggressive. My younger black cat is a cheerful, unassuming soul who was minding her own business when Stalin-Cat launched a stealth attack from behind the bin. Luckily, I was on hand and I ran after him screaming and hooting as I leapt down the garden path. Pausing only to look at me in disbelief:

What IS that thing?” He slipped through the fence and onto the park.

Number Two is Ginger Ugly. Sorry, but this happens to be the ugliest cat I have ever seen, with stumpy legs and a face that looks like he ran into a wall. Now, my little tabby is the fiercest of cats and thinks nothing of seeing off a fox or the cat from over the road, but there’s something about Ginger Ugly she finds terrifying… Perhaps it’s his un-feline gracelessness and horrible face, I don’t know, but I resent him for distressing my poor little cat to the extent she is over-grooming. Engaged in battle with Stalin-Cat, Ginger Ugly emits horrid wails and shrieks that Charlie finds the stuff of nightmares, so she comes running in for comfort, kneading desperately at my jumper.

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The monster is out there again and I wanted to play in the garden…”

I’ve cat-proofed the gaps where they usually lurk. I’ve laid cat repellent along their smelly used paths. I’ve installed Feliway in the house. I will not ever hurt a cat – I love them too much and I think strays suffer enough, but WHY won’t people neuter their pets? That would be one step towards reducing this problem. In the meantime, I am practising with a water gun…

Stilbite is an unusual crystal, at least I found it so as I ‘tuned’ into it straight away. Normally I have to be in the right environment, the right frame of mind etc. Its positivity and action drew me, like holding a wriggly kitten. My son is lucky enough to have a sample of this crystal which he acquired from a magazine. It is a delicate stone, not unlike a gathering of white sugar crystals, strung along filaments of ice. White in colour, this sample has a subtle peach overtone that draws the eye inwards in contemplation.

WP_20160522_12_35_37_ProThis piece actually has the shadow of a love heart on it…

As I held it, I could feel its vibration like standing next to a fridge, or a purr deep within a cat. A typical interpretation of this stone is that it opens intuition and lends love and support to any endeavour. Whether travelling spiritually or physically, it gives guidance and direction, transforming thought into direct action.

Action is what is needed to tackle the stray problem. Maybe I should send some to the government and put the intention out into the Universe. We adopted a stray cat once. Or rather, he wouldn’t leave us alone and his persistence won my partner round, who admired him for his braver y and determination. Billy was a smart black and white cat, who despite his poor circumstances, kept himself immaculately clean, I was first drawn to him when I watched him on our lawn one rainy morning. He was sitting quietly, then a paw would dart out and hook… a worm. Yuk. He was resourceful and brave. I left him a cat treat. Big mistake. We only had two cats at the time so a third was a distinct possibility… I just had to persuade my partner…

3 cats_2-1 1 (2)Part of the family

In the end, Billy did it himself. After days of shouting at him, chasing him away and even throwing water in his face, I came home to find Billy firmly esconced on the rug in front of the fire. Apparently, he had sneaked in through the cat flap while my partner was asleep and curled up on his chest to join him in slumber… My partner’s heart melted and Billy became a member of our household, much to his joy.

Scratch posts? For cats? Soft beds? For cats? Food…” The pleasure and relief on his little face.

Unfortunately, he was only with us for a short while. His difficult start in life had compromised his immune system and he left us only eight months after he adopted us. His sheer joie-de-vivre and cheerful character endeared him to us. He holds the cat record to this day for ninja leaps and introduced my older girls to the joy of cat tag. Hunting for worms never caught on though… 

Photo-0003 (3)“What? Soft beds? For cats?”

All photos were taken by my son!

Hair

HAIRY 3.jpgAn unpolished example of Rutilated Quartz, see below for more info… 

My hair is the absolute bane of my life. I hate it. It manages to be both curly and thick, yet flat and frizzy. I gave up colouring my hair a long time ago, hoping perhaps, that if I didn’t pollute it with chemicals, it would repay me by being luscious and well behaved, falling gently to my shoulders in perfect waves, a fringe swept elegantly across my forehead… to disguise the wrinkles… No such luck.

Instead, my hair frizzes and flicks outwards, weaving its way merrily around my head like some kind of hideous hairy carousel. I have neither the time, nor the patience or even a modicum of skill with which to style it, so I usually brush it fiercely, tie it as tight as I can in a hair elastic, slap a hair band on top and subdue any stray hairs with a battery of hair grips. Even then, I have weird short hairs that spring out like errant weeds.

WP_20160521_15_41_45_Pro (2).jpgThis Clear Quartz cluster has its points sticking out like my  hair… Known as the ‘Master Healer’, Quartz is helpful for absolutely any problem and can hold positive intentions and emit the energy outwards

I have tried every product available to try and coax it into some semblance of style, all with little result. One product made it greasy, one made it dry, one made it lifeless… I hate going to the hairdresser’s. I am envious of their skill, so I go about once a year when looking in the mirror just makes me want to cry. I don’t care for people messing about with my head (literally and metaphorically, so that includes opticians, dentists…) and I get bored after about ten minutes, so having to sit for hours while someone is fighting with my hair is torture…

Then I am perfectly happy. For about half an hour. My smooth locks lie against my head, framing my face charmingly and making me look ten years younger. The colour shines and I have the elegant fringe I yearn for. Then it rains. Or it’s windy. Or I run my hands through it in frustration. I get annoyed as my hands get stuck in the hairspray, my fringe gets caught in the hinge of my glasses, my cat jumps on my shoulder and messes up the back… I give in and get out the hair band.

Both my sons have inherited my hair. Both have the added curse of a double crown. My oldest son, as an ex-army cadet, favours the short back and sides, no nonsense approach, subduing its unruly thickness with the force of clippers, although his hairline is wreaking a slow revenge by slowly creeping upwards. My younger son still has faith in hair, life and products. He styles it carefully every morning, tailors his hair product to his style and visits the barber regularly. His hair waves, flicks, curls, is thick and unruly.

It’s your fault!” he roars at me.

At least you’ll never go bald.” I venture timidly.

HAIRY2This is a polished example of Rutilated Quartz, (or Angel Hair Quartz, or just plain Hairy Quartz as I call it) and is a very powerful healer.  The golden ‘hair’ inside is actually titanium, and this variety of Quartz is said to just make life easier…!

I am actually trying to persuade him to take a course in hair cutting and styling, after weeks of reproachful looks and frantic tweaking with comb, scissors, matte gum, salt spray, hairspray, gel spray – the variety is bewildering and I haven’t even mentioned mousse!

Can you believe there is a musical called ‘Hair’? I was doubtful about the concept, considering my feelings about my own hair, but after I’d seen it, I could appreciate the value of hair as a symbolic rebellion. Perhaps I should just rebel against my pre-conceived idea of how I should look and just grow it longer and wilder… I could keep things in it, like spare pens, notebooks, a cat or two… 

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All photos were taken by my son!

A Meditation on the Beauty of My Cat

I may have said (!!) that I have four cats who I love dearly and have mentioned in previous posts. My tabby cat, or to give her her full name, Princess Charlotte Oddpaw, was sitting on my chest the other evening, sharing a meditation with me and the thought popped into my head: “You will write more about me… you will write more about me…”

I hesitate to call her a ‘cat’ actually as I am convinced she regards herself as a small, furry, superior human getting to grips with the complications of everyday life. She is scarily intelligent. Her calculated ambush attacks and pretend sweetness has reduced my son to tears (when he was younger, I must add, to spare his manly blushes) as he stumbled away, half-blinded by blood, drawn in by her deceptive purring and exposure of creamy chest fur, just begging for a tickle… To be fair, she has mellowed with age and my son has learned to treat her with the respect a cat of her standing deserves.

CharlieA little light bedtime reading…

She masquerades as a common or garden tabby. Not so: amazing colours are contained within her soft, elegant fur, ranging from the milk chocolate banding on her delicate legs, the silvery grey flashes of cheek fur to the abstract blotches of orange carnelian, strategically placed along her spine. Her tiny paws are carefully decorated in black, grey and mouse coloured hairs, alternating in a pleasing arrangement, apart from the quirky addition of three ginger toes. (Did God run out of pain for that part, or miscalculate the mix?) She has a small, finely shaped head, surmounted by two sail-like ears that bracket the beauty of her eyes. Her pink nose is dainty, adorned either side with splendid whiskers that she can push forward in annoyance or smooth back in pleasure as she achieves her goals…

Her eyes are beacons of hope, mischief or beauty according to her mood. Usually they are the palest emerald green, threaded through with iridescent gold, framed by lines of cream and brown fur that would befit any Egyptian queen’s attempt at eye makeup. Her eyes can narrow in rage as she chatters at impertinent pigeons, widen in innocence “Who me? I never that tore that chunk of wallpaper off from behind the sofa!” or half-close, dreamily, as she basks in her own ineffable cattishness.

CHUDDY BUDDYPrincess Charlotte surveying her subjects…

She definitely has a sense of humour. I have nursed many a scratched ankle, after making the bed, unawares that a tabby tigress lurked underneath, anticipating the perfect moment to lash out with miniature scimitar paws and engender a scream of pain and fright. You’d think I would have learned by now, but forgetting is part of the fun… possibly! One of my other cats, although a cheerful soul, is not the brightest individual and is often the unwitting victim of ambush attacks and set-ups. “Oh no, muddy paw prints on the worktop!” My princess smiles serenely, little dirty feet tucked cunningly beneath her as she practically gestures towards her stooge, engaged in removing a random lump of mud from between her toes.

My four cats co-exist amicably enough, and I have photographic evidence that shows all four sleeping together on my bed, although I do think that the others waited for Charlie to fall asleep before they dared to climb aboard the bed to settle, one at each corner. (Night times aren’t much fun, I’m a restless sleeper at the best of times and am often awakened by thundering paws across my chest as the cat population of my bed changes.)

However, having had cats since I was little, my first being a large, black parlour panther called Snoopy, I would undoubtedly miss their presence. They enrich my life and remain a constant source of amusement, much like my children… 

All photos were taken by my son!

Promise

Promise

Cherry Blossom, traditional symbol of love and joy, promoting love and spiritual awareness.

The girl passed the jeweller’s shop every day on her way to work; a humble job in a little office, her duties mainly involved filing, typing up notes and running out for coffee and sandwiches. She earned enough to pay the rent on her tiny flat, be up to date with all her bills and maintain some semblance of independence. She was always glad when the end of the month came, but with careful budgeting she had enough for a few small luxuries, the occasional trip to the cinema with one of her friends, a nice skirt or pretty blouse.

The jeweller’s shop called to her: every day she passed she allowed herself a few moments to wonder at the treasures on display. Pearls, soft and sheened with moonlight reposing upon purple velvet. Diamond bracelets hanging nonchalantly from padded racks. Emeralds, as green as the grass she could see in the park from her flat, set in sumptuous gold rings.

The window display changed from week to week, sometimes as she was actually passing. Her eyes would meet the ice blue gaze of the immaculately coiffed blonde assistant, trickling gold chains across cream damask, some as thin as spider silk, others thick enough to dent the skin of her tender throat. The blonde assistant would pause pityingly as if to say: “Move on dear, nothing in your price range here.” The girl would turn and hurry away, the blush of the only just solvent staining her cheeks.

One summer’s day, as she walked carefully up the cobbled street, her eye was caught by a new item, not centre stage, but off set, as if wondering at the splendour of the ruby necklace that glowed like lava. This item was a little ring, a pale gold circlet that held an old fashioned cushion cut sapphire. These gems did not usually draw her, compelled as she was by the glitter and glamour of sensuous rubies, a showy sparkle of diamonds; yet this sapphire was different.

She approached the window and dared to lean in closer. The sapphire’s glow warmed her, and spoke to her of azure seas and soft blue sky. She noticed, with a little heart leap of joy that its discreet price tag bore a figure that to her, was manageable. She hurried back to the office resolving that very day to ask for some overtime, even though the clerk from the neighbouring office had just asked her out for dinner.

The months passed: every pay day she put a little more in her special tin and knew she was a little closer to owning the ring that called so eloquently to her. She had started a tentative relationship with the young clerk, and she felt a certain fondness as he clutched her hand in the dark at the cinema, or brushed her cheek chastely with his dry lips at the end of a pleasant evening together.

She had managed to slip into the jeweller’s as she saw the intimidating sales assistant leave for her lunch break, and ask the kindly manager to tuck her ring into a little seen case of odds and ends, vintage pieces of topaz and strange remnants of suffragette jewellery, shoulder to shoulder with mourning brooches and tarnished gold lockets.

She checked her tin at the end of the next month, she realised joyfully she had enough to purchase her ring – outright, no credit plans for her! The very next day she hurried to the shop, her neat black shoes tapping rapidly on the cobbles. With the assurance of a full purse, she pushed the door open and strode confidently to the corner where her ring lay. Heartbreak! Where was it? Where it should be, sat an ugly Victorian Jet brooch, squat and toad like.

“May I offer you any assistance?” the smooth, accentless voice of the assistant rang, bell-like from behind her.

“No– no, that is– no.” The girl’s ears burned and her eyes stung with disappointment. She returned to her flat and spent a miserable afternoon tidying and preparing a meal for the clerk.

That evening, he seemed strangely excited, the significant looks and lingering touches unnerved her. She began to feel a little claustrophobic in her flat, as he left his shoes carelessly near the door, cumbersome and brown. She frowned, slightly, as he slung his jacket across the bannister. His maleness seemed oppressive, and although generally sweet-tempered, she began to feel positively irritated.

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Viola flowers, meaning you’re worthy of affection and praise, with Blue Lace Agate, a nurturing stone that soothes, calms and promotes communication.

As she cleared away the dishes from their meal, he took her by the shoulders, his palms hot and sticky against the thin cotton of her blouse and turned her around.

She felt a cold dismay: he had fallen to one knee and held outstretched, almost pleadingly, a little velvet box of dusty pink, shaped like a pirate’s treasure chest. Within it, cushioned between two plump buttocks of white satin, was her ring – her ring!

The clerk knelt before her, supplicating, yet the next words from his mouth fell upon her ears like clods of earth on a coffin.

“Will you marry me?”

She glanced at her ring. It flashed, promising blue encircled by heavenly gold, then the scales fell from her eyes. It was as if a thundercloud had passed across a summer sky. The rich blue turned to tarnished grey, the gold to tawdry tin.

All that promise, to a dull badge of servitude.

All photos were taken by my son!

Copyright © 2016 Samantha Murdoch

Charoite and Cat’s Claws

Any cat owner will have undoubtedly been on the receiving end of a scratch from a velvet paw armed with scimitars… I’ve had my fair share; from my old tabby who rarely scratched but one day caught me with his back paw as I was wearing a low necked top and emblazoned me with a Zorro-like mark across my cleavage. It hurt at the time, but I have a permanent reminder of him scored into my skin. Most recently, my Siamese got her claw so deeply hooked into my skin it took my son to manoeuvre her out of my poor finger. It wasn’t done in spite, just an accident as she caught me instead of her toy. All coherent thought deserted me, I just remember thinking: “Oh, don’t scream, Samantha, you’ll frighten the cat…” I have a purple scar about a millimetre long on my index finger, but, oh my God, it didn’t half hurt!

Cats’ claws and their health are extremely important to our feline friends. I don’t hold with de-clawing at all unless there is something like an underlying infection, as you are removing a vital element of their self-defence equipment. Cats need to scratch to exercise their muscles and shed the dead claw sheaths, so a scratch post suitable for their height whilst on their back legs is an essential piece of house furniture. They can climb it, stretch up it, scratch it, pole dance around it… and it saves on soft furnishings and wallpaper! (There’s a bald patch behind the sofa that I am afraid to confess to…)

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Random dog paw – no, actually, it’s my mother’s German Shepherd’s paw with beautifully kept nails. Just a reminder, dogs’ nails need maintenance too, but don’t cut too close to the quick, very painful for them

Most cats don’t go out of their way to scratch you, my Siamese and her sister sometimes get over-enthusiastic when they wrestle, tufts of cream and black fur fly, till one kicks just a little too hard… then both parties retire to nurse wounded pride. (By the way, I must emphasise if you are scratched or bitten, wash the wound thoroughly, apply antiseptic, seek medical attention if necessary… you know the procedure!) Some cats, such as Siamese, are unable to fully retract their claws, so they wear down naturally. We have wooden floors and my Siamese sounds as if she’s modelling the latest fashion in high heels:

Louboutins? Soooo last year… Everyone’s wearing cat claws…”

My tabby, although the fiercest cat, is also the gentlest when it comes to reprimands. My son has been the recipient of many a slap from a soft little paw, claws sheathed in precious toes, but the slap delivered hard enough to sting!

WP_20151011_12_42_50_Pro (2)My Princess’ precious ginger toes – claws carefully put away!

Charoite (pronounced Kar-oh-ite) reminds me of a delicate, hand-made soap. It is usually purple and white (its other name is Purple Seraphanite,) the main colour being white, with delicate lines of purple etched through it – not unlike the way a cat’s claws etch skin… A typical interpretation is that being a stone of transformation, it can help with overcoming fear and aid emotional and physical healing. It connects with the higher chakras and cleanses auras. Essentially, it will recycle negative energy into healing and can help with depression.

Charoite reminds me of lavender flowers, pressed between layers of finest cream soap. Another new stone for me, thanks to my son and his crystal wise lady (www.lizianblog.com) I was entranced by it the moment I held it and felt its waxy texture. As I traced its lilac markings, I could feel acceptance and positivity.

Curtains and cat claws, Charoite and healing. A lovely positive stone that vibrates at a high level to instill positivity and health, not unlike the proven benefits of owning a pet. I know I draw endless comfort from my cats, and even in my darkest moments, somehow the world seems a better place because I am fortunate enough to share this life with my cats.

All photos were taken by my son!

The Rehabilitation of Crows

Sight_2016_05_12_115649_622 (3)My son took this, couldn’t find a crow willing to pose, but the window lent a suitably Gothic tone…

Think of crows, and you think automatically of the large black birds, perching menacingly amongst ruined castle battlements, cawing threateningly from deserted churchyards. They are a traditional Gothic symbol, hopping through the pages of literature, their larger cousin immortalised in Edgar Allen Poe’s ‘The Raven’. Ravens have resided at the Tower of London since around the time of Charles II, the legend attached to them being that if they leave, then both Tower and monarchy will fall. However, their wings are clipped so they are physically unable to fly away, which seems a little unfair to me…

Crows, ravens and magpies are all members of the Corvidae family, a common trait of this species being their intelligence. Perhaps this is what some may find off-putting about them, the gleam of avian awareness completely alien in a feathered face. Crows can and will hold grudges (not unlike cats, actually) and have a brain capable of reasoned thought processes to achieve a goal. I’ve had several brushes with magpies, bold and dapper in their black and white outfits – I was quite annoyed with one, as it systematically pulled the lining from my mother’s hanging basket; yet amused as I watched one clearing the guttering of the house opposite: “Honestly, if you want a job doing well, do it yourself…”

I have been lucky enough to observe crows at close quarters, although I am slightly disconcerted by the fact that the crows in our area seem to have a predilection for women’s underwear as they fly about shouting “BRA BRA BRA!” A crow was an unusual visitor to my mother’s garden. He was beautiful, gleaming black from head to tail, feathers perfectly aligned and smartly kept. He marched along the garden path, turning his head left and right, as if to acknowledge the greetings of lesser birds. I was impressed by the strength of his scaly feet, and the dangerous, powerful beak as he stabbed up a choice morsel from the floor. Then as he spread his wings to fly away, a rainbow sheen coated his feathers, not unlike Labradorite, a seemingly dull little stone until it catches the right light, and then it bursts into kaleidoscopic colour.

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My son’s Labradorite, the colour not unlike the blue sheen of a Magpie’s tail…

One particular crow memory has stayed with me, mainly because I was helpless with laughter… my son and I first noticed him, just standing by the roadside, looking hopelessly down at his feet. I thought he was injured at first, such was his air of defeat, shoulders slumped, wings hanging listlessly. As we watched, he straightened up visibly and began pacing aimlessly back and forth, stopping every so often to poke about in the grass.

Where’s she put them, then? Rotten cow, she knows I need the car for work…” We could see the crow sigh visibly, as if in frustration.

Would she have left them here?” A momentary hope brightened his eye, as he spent a while searching under a particularly promising leaf… No joy. He rummaged around each wing in turn, one last search of his pockets, perhaps. No joy.

Oh, f*@k it! I’ll have to bus it then, but I am definitely going to the pub after work, I don’t care what Brenda’s got in for dinner, that’ll show her!”

With that, he ruffled his feathers and flew off, an aura of comic annoyance visible. We had to admire him for his persistence and share in his obvious dis-satisfaction with his place in life. So, next time you see a crow, don’t play the soundtrack from a horror film in your head or shudder as their flight path falls across you. Instead, just think… they have families and problems too…

I have two black cats, black as crows, with the same delicate rainbow sheen to their fur in the sun. They carry their Gothic stigma lightly most of the time, yet sometimes… yet sometimes… I wonder… 

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This is Lily looking demonic… or cute… hard to tell

All photos were taken by my son!