Iolite And Impressions

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A lot can be learned from first impressions. Generally I am a reasonable judge of character, but sometimes I just get these… feelings. I would hesitate to claim any psychic ability, but these impressions have been strong enough, or made a lasting enough impression on me to the extent where I avoid the person or place.

An ex-neighbour is a case in point. My partner thought he was all right, one of the lads. I hated him. Wouldn’t give him house room. My partner couldn’t understand this, since the man was always perfectly pleasant to me; but we later found out that he’d been arrested for domestic abuse.

Another instance of impressions… my son’s class were doing a performance in a pub in the city so of course I went along to support and watch. It was actually taking place in an old music hall that had been restored – there has been some sort of public house on that location since the 1400’s. I was uncomfortable from the word go… the whole place felt like a musty old jacket from a charity shop… too many echoes, too much going on, too many voices to process…

Iolite – pronounced “eye-OH-lite” – ( I didn’t have any on me that day!) is a vision stone… it switches on your ability to tune into your surroundings, your gut instinct, if you will. Not surprisingly then, it’s a crystal of journey and insight, often used in shamanic ceremonies. Iolite can bestow the understanding and clarity of a clear night sky, which it so closely resembles, dark blue with paler flecks.

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Thus it helps with the clarity of thought, banishing negative ties and releasing your true self. It makes you aware of yourself and your place in the Universe, a kind and gentle stone to help with spiritual growth and creativity.

Always trust an animal’s first impressions… that’s what people say, although if I trusted my cats’ first impressions of people who come to our house I would spend a lot of time a) up in the apple tree b) running across the park or c) under my bed… nothing would get done…

It’s always interesting to watch an animal meet someone new. I remember the first time my old cat, Walter, set eyes on our new next-door neighbour, a tall, good-looking man à la Sidney Poitier… Walter couldn’t stop staring. To the point where I was so embarrassed I had to get up and remove my cat from the room, in case he asked for an autograph…

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Impressions then… knowledge and hints from others and our surroundings, built in responses and learned behaviours… Nature vs. Nurture, almost as we impress upon others our own self-images and interpretations. Listen, learn, absorb, but always trust your own self, your own judgement.

From the moment of conception our feet may be placed on the path we choose to lead in this Life; walk lightly, my friends, and be aware of every step.

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Amazing Older Ladies… Part 2

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My parents divorced when I was nine, and at the age of ten – I believe it was part of the settlement – I was sent to boarding school. I didn’t want to go. I missed my cat and my sister. I didn’t ask to go, and contrary to popular belief, it wasn’t all pillow fights and midnight feasts…

I was a very sad and frightened little girl as my parents drove up the grand driveway to the front doors of an imposing Edwardian house. We got out of the car and my father arranged for my trunk – his old one, from his school days, “personalised” with stickers for me – to be taken up to the room that I was to share with five totally unknown other little girls…

My parents bade me a suitably restrained good bye and left. I promptly burst into tears… and thus began my acquaintance and I would say friendship, with my wonderful headmistress, Mrs. C, a truly great lady in the traditional sense of the word.

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That first night, she took me briskly by the arm and ushered me into her study, saying that my parents had told her I liked to look at fossils, and perhaps I’d like to see her collection.

I fell into a different world… this small, dainty lady had travelled to places that so far I’d only dreamed about. She showed me palm leaf crosses, made in the Holy Land, rock samples from the deserts of Egypt, fossils from Russia and delicate porcelain from China, objects that were familiar and friendly in this alien place. Previously only glimpsed in my books, these treasures were now sitting in my hands, while this small, dark-haired lady looked at me gravely and spoke eloquently in her precise, well modulated voice about the things that interested her and what she’d seen on her travels with her husband, who was a vicar.

The first few days sped by in a blur of uniform (A-line tweed skirts – vile) and new lessons. At that time, we were a modest sized school so Mrs. C was very much a hands-on teacher, her subjects being French, Latin and Religious Studies; also taking assembly every day, and as we had our own chapel on the school grounds, attending services with us.

She was always immaculately turned out, black patent high heels, neat skirts and jackets and in cold weather she would wear a grey cashmere cloak, trimmed in black velvet, or paisley shawls, elegantly arranged and pinned with a cameo brooch. We learned etiquette seamlessly, almost by osmosis… the correct way to take off and hold gloves… the proper cutlery to use and how to lay a table… how to wear a shawl convincingly and behave with decorum… like ladies. Of course.

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I was expelled at seventeen (sorry Dad) but thanks to Mrs. C’s plea before the Board of Governors, I was allowed to return to take my “A” Levels, and I must thank Mrs. C for that, in allowing the fledgling revolutionary in baseball boots, ripped jeans and patterned shirts to return to her ladylike kingdom…

Years passed, and it was only through our correspondence really that I learned a little more about her personally. She shares my love of cats and cat-themed items, we have an ongoing competition never to repeat a design of writing paper or note card; and I read with total awe of her travels…Nile cruises in a dhow, train tours around the Baltic region, a return trip to China where she taught English as a foreign language when she was younger.

She lived in London as a child and had moved ten times before the end of the war, having been bombed out of various accommodation, but her mother wanted the family to stay together, come what may, and I like to think that this gave Mrs. C her indomitable nerve and spirit of adventure… absolute musts when in charge of three hundred or so girls of varying ages.

I may not have turned out quite as she expected, but I am very grateful for her friendship and support, always. I learned one of the most important lessons in my life from her… “If you can’t say anything nice, then don’t say anything at all.” And I’d like to respond with a quote I found online, don’t know who it’s by, but thank you as it fits Mrs. C perfectly:

Being female is a matter of birth. Being a woman is a matter of age. But being a lady – that’s a matter of choice.”

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Where IS The Love?

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I heard something that shocked, repulsed and humiliated me as a woman the other day. I was on the bus – I seem to spend most of my life on buses, so it seems, just idly tuning into peoples’ conversations here and there, as you do.

My attention was drawn to a trio of people towards the front of the bus, on the top deck. I was sat at an angle across the aisle so I was able to observe – discreetly – and listen – horrified.

It was two lads and a girl, the latter being constantly groped by one of the lads who I assume was her boyfriend.

Oh yeah, had this one ‘nuff times, three-‘oled yer h’ant I love?”

The girl muttered something and wriggled uncomfortably, plainly unhappy with having such intimate details revealed about their personal life… I realised what the boy meant and was absolutely flabbergasted at the sheer vulgarity of the phrase and the casual way in which he spoke about it to his friend, who did not appear discomforted by these revelations, but rather, keen to hear more, obviously enjoying his own little mental scenario.

The girl remained stony- faced. I felt sorry for her. And this is not a feminist rant – far from it. But – where IS the love?

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Call me old – fashioned, but I was under the impression that such an intimate act between two people, if not an expression of love, more a release of pure physicality, should still be treated with respect. I felt humiliated that the girl didn’t tell the lad to shut the Hell up and shocked that this act of “three-holing” was such an achievement for the boy that he felt he had to brag about it.

Perhaps the definition of “love” has changed for the 21st century. I don’t know.

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All I’m saying is that it doesn’t take much to show a little kindness, spread a little real love. “Be the change you want to see in the world…” to paraphrase Gandhi…

Strike a little match of love yourself and let it burn… become a beacon… and listen to the words of this song by the brilliant Black Eyed Peas.

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Seraphinite And Siamese

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I’d seen pictures of this crystal before, but when I actually got to hold a piece, I was pleasantly surprised by its “vibe”… Its name is derived from one of the older words for an angel, Seraphim – they usually hang about with Cherubim… but I’m not writing about those…

Seraphinite has a wonderfully soft, tactile feel to it, the smooth, dark green surface is flecked with silver formations of mica that give the appearance of divine feathers; and indeed, this is one of the crystals most popularly used in making angelic connections and opening the crown and higher crown chakras.

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It’s a beautiful stone to use in meditation as it will open your awareness to the possibility of spiritual enlightenment and help you access self-healing. With such a gentle and loving energy, this crystal is good to help with living from the heart, by which I mean instilling every action, every thought, with positive love.

It cleanses and opens the heart chakra while the silvery feathers of mica aid travel to the higher spiritual realms, protecting the physical body whilst the ethereal body travels. It will bestow clear vision to help you view your life progress and identify and complete any changes you need to implement for a peaceful and fulfilling life.

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On a healing level, this crystal works with the spinal cord and helps to relieve muscle tension. Each time I hold this crystal, I feel a flick of energy against my fingers, as soft and warm as feathers… or cat fur.

There have been so many books, histories, articles and even poems written about the origins, character and personality of the Siamese cat; how they can be aloof, or demanding, vocal and annoying… I have only ever had one pedigree cat – my Burmese, Ming, when I was a little girl, all my others have been assorted Domestic Short Hairs, to give them their formal term.

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And yet Ting, my Siamese, although she has no papers to testify to the purity of her bloodline, is practically a picture book example of this distinguished breed, with her own very personal take on Life and how she sees it. Left in a hedge with her sisters, she began her life a far cry away from the fabled palaces of Siam that surely should have been her heritage.

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This traumatic start could have affected her temperament adversely but it is no exaggeration to say she is a furry angel… Far from being aloof, my little Ting is warm and loving and will stop what she’s doing at any given time for a cuddle…

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Never mind eating, all right, we’ll just have a bit of a cuddle and I’ll even throw in a few purrs, no extra charge… “

She is the only cat I have ever known who is unfailingly warm and friendly, not given to the sometimes stand-offish attitudes of Madame La Princesse and the other two girls.

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From the tragedy of a taxi ride to the vet for her booster…

NA-OOOHHH – where ARE we?? WA-OHHY are we HERE?? to the relief of going home..

Oh, I’m here, home, I love everything, hello door, hello table, hello Charlie – ouch – hello chair…” my Siamese greets all of Life’s little adventures with unfailing love and optimism, the other side of the coin to her sometimes grouchy feline sisters, but it just goes to show, really, that we all have our own paths, our own interpretations of Life, and it doesn’t matter what you call it, we are all seeking a return to Light, to Source.

It’s all about energy, interpretation and of course, Love.

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Puppies and Pain

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It’s been a long time since we’ve had a little boy in the house at my mother’s… of either the canine or human persuasion. Rocky is obviously the most recent addition and like most babies, loves to play. He has a number of special games that I am invited to play, like tug-of-war with the rope toy. This has a certain risk element to it, as he doesn’t really play fair… moving his jaws up the rope till his teeth are perilously close to my fingers and I have about two centimetres of rope left to pull on.

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There are various other games – hide and seek is quite funny, biscuit in three cups, piggy-in-the-middle… This time last week I never thought I would be finishing the week in quite so much pain or with quite so much personal damage… Rocky is, indirectly, the cause of this…

Firstly, we were playing catch with my son in the front room at my mother’s… the puppy was wall-of-deathing between the two sofas while I was sitting on one of the arms. Next thing I know, I’m seeing stars and I feel like I’ve been punched in the face. Which I have. So I know exactly how it feels…

Stunned, I fell completely onto the sofa, tears of pain spurting from my eyes and my agonised intakes of breath filling the now-silent front room. My son leapt forwards:

Oh my God, are you all right??” he gasped.

What happened??Did you hit me?” I asked…

No, it was the dog,” he replied.

Apparently, what had happened was that the puppy had bounded across me, smashing me in the face with his muscular back…

ICE! You need ICE!”

My son rushed to the kitchen and thoughtfully returned with an ice pack to press tenderly against my cheekbone… (“Are you and your partner not getting on, Samantha?” “No, no… we’re fine… I was hit in the face with a dog… “)

Realising that my shrieks of pain were not part of the game, Rocky came to see what the mater was, and empathising with my pain – I like to think so, anyway – buried his head in my son’s jumper and scream-whined his sadness at my injury.

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This of course made me laugh…

What’s the matter with you, Samantha? What have you done to the dog?”

Nothing – I think he may have fractured my cheekbone… can you -” fully expecting my mother to offer sympathetic concern and advice as a retired nurse.

Don’t be stupid, Samantha, what can they do? Put your face in plaster?”

I recovered.

Then, the day before yesterday, we were playing piggy-in-the-middle. I was sinning round and round after the dog trying to get the ball off him. I f’*£#ng  fell over, didn’t I…

My son reported faithfully that the dog was nowhere near me and that I appeared to just… randomly fall over… in my defence, I must say I was dizzy… or I tripped over a fairy. Whatever.

Fact of the matter was, I ended up face down in my mother’s climbing rose, which she had carefully pruned and staked last Autumn… And I smacked my head off the fence post. It must have been a spectacular fall as Erin got up from her seat in the kitchen doorway and came trotting over to check on me, tenderly licking my grazed hands as I heaved myself over onto my backside…

My son thought I’d skewered myself on the stakes and rushed over, ashen-faced. The pup came over and stuck his nose down my cleavage with a friendly snort:

What you doing down there, then?”

I had half the rose tree rammed up my thumbnail – the same thumb that I cut on the so-called safety razor a few weeks ago, and a crescent shaped piece of nail dangled forlornly from my bruised digit. My mother:

Get off my bloody rose Samantha! It’s a Heritage fragranced rose!”

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With my son’s assistance and Erin standing so I could grip her fur, I pulled myself painfully to my feet and went home to take stock of my injuries collected so far this week in private.

I am now sporting a rakish L-shaped bruise on my left cheekbone. A bruise on my forehead where I headbutted the fence post. My hands have gravel rash and my knees look like two bowls of purple porridge… apart from that, I’m fine!

18090505_1824224537897715_714320937_oEvery household should have a well stocked First Aid Cat…

Communists and Crabs

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I remember the very first time I heard this song, “Talkin’ ‘Bout A Revolution” by the wonderful Tracy Chapman. It went on to become the theme tune for my summer of 1988…I was in a very “bohemian”… well, all right, “grotty” pub in a particularly student-populated area of the city where I live.

I was attending my first-ever meeting of the Socialist Workers Communist Party. I did Russian history at school and I developed an interest in the principles of Communism. Also, I’d left school, my friends were scattered across the country and it was one of those things that seemed like a good idea at the time…

I struck up conversation with a group of people around my age, who were sitting nearby, and Ms. Chapman’s song started to play on the jukebox… we belived whole-heartedly in the party ethics; but typically for students, we did an awful lot of talking. About how the world should be, and how we would change it if we only had the time..The one time we did go on a protest march in London, my best friend was chased by a gang of skinheads and I was arrested (sorry Dad..) but I did get to hold one pole support of our party banner.

The summer drew to a close. Our fearless leader had to return to his parents’ villa in Tuscany while we all went our separate ways to college, university, jobs. Our leader did give me an introduction to the leader of the party in Manchester, where I was headed to University, I believe her parents had the villa next door…

But reality bites and the summer of ‘88 was over, apart from a few last…um…hurrahs. My birthday, for example… we always frequented a vodka bar (of course) that sold bizarrely flavoured alcohol, such as jelly bean. The standard bet was to drink your way from one end of the bar to the other, sampling all the flavours… Having duly completed this, my friends loaded me into a shopping trolley and pushed me down the steps in the Market Square…

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Both myself and my son were born in July, meaning our starsign is Cancer the Crab. Supposedly, we are moody, pessimistic and clingy, suspicious and manipulative. And that’s just our good points… no, really… I am over-emotional. I know that. And my son can be moody… Luckily though, these periods of the dark side of the Moon that is our personality rarely coincide and on the whole we are imaginative, loyal, creative and sympathetic.

As a Cancer, then, I stopped eating crabs (as seafood, not randomly) about eight years ago, feeling vaguely cannibalistic about consuming the symbol of my horoscope heritage. Also, my son showed me a video that brought tears to my eyes too… a little crab, eating a cherry, delicately tweezering tiny bites of the treat into its mouth with evident enjoyment and appreciation. It always seems a little harsh, to me, that our starsign name is used for a disease that is a merciless killer.

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And yet I have an enduring fascination with the television programme, “The Deadliest Catch”, a reality series that details the battles of a group of crab fishermen and their trawlers in the Bering Sea. Their bravery in terrifying circumstances is amazing… my inability to eat other types of seafood manifested itself as a horror of the lobster my mother lovingly prepared at Christmas. It crouched on the serving dish all… red….and…leggy like a giant bug. As you can imagine, my mother was disappointed…

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Having recently resumed contact with my best friend from that summer, I’ve discovered what happened to our little gang. Our party leader went to work in his father’s legal practice. One girl is an associate in Psychology at a university. Sadly, one boy who was diagnosed with AIDS – this was in the ‘80’s don’t forget, before it was considered treatable – committed suicide after receiving this news. Someone else now runs a successful business between here and France and my best friend from the time works in the teaching hospital here. Another boy lived the dream and went to fight in Tibet. No-one has heard from him for some years now.

All those dreams and ideas, all those hopes and ideals, they all went their very different ways when the talking was over and real life got in the way.

So. We may not have been very good Communists, but we were amazing Social… -isers!

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* with love and thanks to Ella, a Libra and a student, for the idea. Go and visit-she’s lovely!*

Ammolite and Artistic Cats

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I quite like snails. Not so keen on their homeless cousins, slugs – my mother’s front lawn sometimes looks like the aftermath of a music festival after a damp evening – but snails I find amusing, cheerful and determined. I’ve been reading the adventures of Elliot on Sue’s blog over at Space, Time and Raspberries… please go and have a look.

Strictly speaking, Ammonites look more like a squid has borrowed a snail shell, but they all originate from the same major family of molluscs.

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Now. Ammolite – not to be confused with Ammonite – is the result of an ammonite becoming opalised. Opals are the wonderful crystals that glow like tiny pieces of captured Universe magic, and they are formed from a combination of water and silicon dioxide.

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Water will naturally find its own level as it travels through the Earth and as it passes through sandstone deposits it picks up silica. The silica-rich water then bleeds into natural gaps and fissures in the ground, finding spaces left by decomposing fossils and replacing the organic matter with opal solution. Over time, this hardens, and we are left with a beautiful crystal, vivid and vibrant, distilled from the very essence of Mother Earth… a crystal snail… squid… that in the right light has beautiful flashes of intense colour.

I have Ammonite fossils, mostly from Whitby – another little piece of information being that they used to be called “snakestones”. They were thought to be actual snakes that had been turned into stone by St.Hilda and were sold as souvenirs, sometimes with little snake heads carved into them.

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Ammonites have held a lasting fascination for me, ever since I was a little girl, so consequently I was aware of what Ammolite is, but I’d never seen it before. Till last Friday. Our city is sometime visited by wonderful markets from Europe, with stalls selling handmade clothes, amber, wood… and crystals.

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I’d actually seen this Ammolite on Wednesday… I stood at the stall and poked around the crystals, exchanging suspicious looks with the owner… I walked away. I thought about this Ammolite for the next two days. I read Sue’s Adventures of Elliot the Snail… I was tidying my bead collection and found these beads…

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I went back and bought the Ammolite. I have had to read up on its metaphysical properties as it’s a new one for me, but it is said that the spiral shape represents the soul’s path in this Life, its full spiritual journey; and, as such, can be used in healing past life traumas.

The glowing colours each have their own significance – Feng Shui masters call Ammolite the Seven Colour Prosperity Stone, and claim it brings health, wealth and vitality to you, your home and business. (Red symbolises growth and energy.) The spiral shape contains and transforms negative energy into a positive flowing spiral, moving energy freely through the chakras to cleanse, align and heal. The chambered shell represents structure and clarity, stimulating survival instincts. Snails do, traditionally, symbolise well-being and longevity – hence the recent craze for snail oil as the new anti-ageing cream…

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But I am drawn to the wonderful colours, a little example of the more extreme colours available from Mother Earth’s paint palette…

Ah yes. My cats are all very fond of the various branches of the Arts… their lithe and graceful bodies lend themselves naturally to all forms of Dance, whether it be Modern, Interpretive or Ballet… watching my cats interact with each other and the world around them is fully as entertaining as any television programme…

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But…but…WHERE’S ALL THE FOOD??” (cue dramatic “dunh-dunh DERRR!!”)

Did Tooty eat it?” (accusing looks all round)

Where’s our mother with supplies?” (cue lost soulful music..)

SHE’S HERE NOW!! Panic over!” (cue suitably comedic music to announce my entrance…)

Charlie is very fond of expressive Arts… my old headmistress sent me this wonderful book, called “Why Cats Paint” and in it there is a selection of photos of clawed furniture. Art installations. I used this book to back up my point when my partner discovered Charlie’s artistic self-expression all over the back of the sofa after a recent trip to the optician to get his prescription updated…

Suffice it to say, all animals are examples of Mother Nature’s Art and creativity.

The smallest feline is a masterpiece.” – Leonardo da Vinci

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