Musings And Mortality

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I spent an interesting morning on Wednesday. My partner had his tonsil out a year ago, and ever since then has experienced a range of problems with swallowing and so on… minor, but uncomfortable.

Thus, on Wednesday, we went to the X-Ray department of our local hospital for him to have a video imaging x-ray, a fluroscopy (??) which involves eating or drinking various items that have been mixed with barium, which shows up on x-rays.

The team were all very welcoming and instantly made my partner feel comfortable and I prepared to wait outside. However… I was somewhat surprised to be invited in to watch… I am fairly (and possibly unreasonably considering my father was a vet and my mother a nurse) squeamish, but I knew there would be very little likelihood of gore or blood, so I accepted.

I stood behind the protective screen and I was able to watch on the monitor. It was very interesting but also very… thought provoking. I could see the fleshly outline of my partner’s head, chin and neck, each vertebrae and cartiliginous structure etched out in delicate detail; somehow comedic but also oddly vulnerable.

All those thoughts and words and feelings, reduced to a bony, fleshy imprint on a screen; all those things that make him the sort of man he is, just a comedic medical procedure of chew, gulp, swallow… I could see his teeth grinding, his throat moving, the oesophagus and larynx flexing and contracting in peristalysis.

I was fascinated to see my partner, who I know so well on the outside, in such an intimate, inside way. All those fragile structures, yet so humanly strong… all those years of evolution and yet we have learned the ability to strip ourselves literally back to the bare bones. What a complex example of Engineering – ruly we should appreciate the Life and body we have.

So… where is it then? What makes us go? Where’s the key? I know, at our basest, we are merely a set of electrical impulses that connect and communicate – but still, what a Marvel! That little ingredient, Life, that transforms robot to human; a collection of bones and tendons to a sensate, feeling, breathing creature… Seeing this procedure made me very reflective – by the way there were no abnormalities detected, thankfully.

Afterwards, my partner asked me:

What was it like? What did you see?”

To which I replied:

Nothing – and Everything.”

 

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H2O and Hedgehogs…

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It was a morning much as any other, a couple of years ago. I’d spent a largely sleepless night, and after my first cup of tea, I went outside for the first cigarette of the day. I stuck the cigarette in my mouth and applied the lighter to the tip and as it burst into devilish light, I drew the smoke into my lungs, feeling instantly better and enlivened enough to have a look round the garden.

I meandered past the sweet peas, pondered upon the honeysuckle and stopped to look at a rose bush that seemed a little off-colour. I glanced to my right and saw a hedgehog in the pond. I rewound my mental tape and thought: “Yes, there is a hedgehog in the pond. I wonder what it’s doing in there. Perhaps it was thirsty…” I finished my assessment of the rosebush and looked towards the pond again. Yep, it was still there. I should have been a little quicker on the uptake really…

“OH MY GOD! THE HEDGEHOG!” My early morning brain sharpened instantly as I realised of course a hedgehog had no business being in the pond and I needed to rescue it at once. Not stopping to think about the practicalities, I rushed towards the pond, intent upon saving the poor little creature.

Arriving at the side of the pond, I looked down at the hedgehog. It was huddled miserably on a rock near the water feature my partner had lovingly installed to create some interest for his precious fish. It looked up at me. I was enchanted by the little dog-like snout and wet black nose, its little beady brown eyes that were glaring up at me in a positively threatening manner.

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“You wait. Just you wait. Gonna have the authorities on you. Just you wait and see.”

I reached out to pick it up and at once, in as far as it was able, given it was a rather large hedgehog on a rock about the size of a paperback book, rolled itself up in a distinctly unapproachable way.

“Ohh…I’d forgotten that they could do that…”

I’m not at my best in the mornings until I’ve had at least two cups of tea. I couldn’t help but admire the colouring of this mini porcupine, quills banded with dark yellow, brown and black; but I retreated to the house for gloves and a thick tea towel, and a receptacle to place the angry animal in once I’d hopefully rescued it.

Armed with these items, I returned to the pond, where the hedgehog had unrolled itself and was glowering resentfully around its surroundings. Obviously it had been drawn by the sound of running water and had fancied a drink.. not a bath…I folded my tea towel in half and carefully draped it over the hedgehog. It was a large creature, about the size of a hedgehog shaped rugby ball and I was completely unprepared for how heavy it was…or how strong.

It gripped the sides of the rock with the ferocity of a bear, dextrous fingers and toes curled under the edges with grim determination. It hissed, then grunted angrily at me. I was surprised, then somewhat affronted…I was trying to help it, there was absolutely no need to be quite so uncooperative and rude! I wrapped the tea towel more firmly around the hedgehog, increased my grip on its sides, braced myself and heaved… It let go of the rock and as I swung it over to the container, I caught a glimpse of a grey, furry tummy, crossly waving paws equipped with long dark claws and a little tail.

I placed it carefully in the box. It looked up at me. I looked back. If I’d been expecting some acknowledgement, perhaps a few words of thanks, I was sadly mistaken. It sneered at me and set to stomping and scuffling around the box. I offered it some ham and a small dish of water-both of these were met with complete and utter disdain:

“Woman, really! Don’t you think I’ve had enough of water and I don’t like honey roast ham…”

I desperately wanted my son to see the hedgehog. Having ascertained it was uninjured if somewhat bad tempered, I rushed upstairs to wake him:

“Quick! Quick, come and see the hedgehog! It was in the pond but I got it out!”

Obviously, my early morning enthusiasm was a little too much for my son, but he is used to being awoken for strange reasons. (“There’s a beetle on the toilet roll! I want to blow my nose!”) He looked up at me from his cosy bed, a little resignedly, and said:

“Are you sure? Have you had your painkillers yet?”

Brushing his disbelief aside, I made him come downstairs to look at the hedgehog.

By now, feeling that the box was preferable to the pond, it had made itself comfortable. There was a large turd in one corner, and obviously feeling better, it had curled up and gone to sleep on the towel. I just knew my son, with his keen interest in Nature, would be enthralled to see this wonderful little creature from the Beatrix Potter tales…

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“Look! Look!”

I pointed enthusiastically at the hedgehog. Disturbed by my voice, it opened an eye, and seeing it had gained another visitor, grunted bad temperedly and re-rolled itself even tighter, spines sticking out at threatening angles… like a natural version of a sputnik.

However, having had my son see it and photograph it, I decided I really ought to liberate it from the box and send it on its way. We carried it carefully to the bottom of the garden, where there’s a little overgrown patch. Tipping it gently onto the floor, we gathered round expectantly. A little eye appeared, just visible amongst the spines, shortly followed by the rest of its face. We held our breath…would it perhaps snuffle in gratitude, whip a lace cap out of its pocket and put it on its head…No. It shot off with undignified haste, actually, elbowing its way past overgrown brambles and dock leaves to disappear in the dank shadows under a tree.

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I often see it at twilight now, shuffling along in search of worms and slugs. Funnily enough, there was an item on the local news about how hedgehogs are becoming increasingly rarer… perhaps that was why it was so bad tempered!

For Victoria and Gillyflower !

Geodes And Jaws…

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I always think that the opening of a geode must be like biting into an expensive truffle… relatively uninteresting to look at from the outside, but when you bite into it what treasures are revealed… soft chocolate ganache, creamy whipped mousse – I did actually have some truffles that I totally intended to photograph for the purposes of this post… but I ate them. Sorry. You’ll just have to imagine…

Anyway, once you’ve cracked the outer shell there are wonders to behold: the diamond sparkle of white quartz, the berry richness of amethyst, the sunny warmth of citrine.

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Geodes are extremely useful and indeed have their own place in crystal therapy, as well as just being really nice to have around the home. They bring protection and help positive energy flow freely through the work or living space.

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As a centre piece in a communal area, they encourage positive communication and growth, both spiritually and mentally. Of course you also receive the healing qualities of the crystals within the geode.

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The magical crystal cave interior holds energy and amplifies it, releasing fresh new life to your surroundings. You can also place smaller crystals within the geode to cleanse and charge them. They can help with decision making and are often felt to have a symbolic female energy, the whole thing being equated with a womb, giver of Life.

The Fire Service use a tool called the Jaws of Life, a giant wrench-like thing designed to crunch off the roofs of cars and release people trapped within. A German Shepherd’s jaws can exert 238 pounds of pressure per square inch when they bite. Luckily I have never been properly bitten by any of my mother’s dogs, very lucky really, considering their jaws are crammed with sharp bitey teeth the way a geode is with sparkly crystals…

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Rocky was sitting next to/on me the other evening at my mother’s, tenderly resting his head on my bosom and blowing encouraging snorts down the gap in my jumper, when I felt him, very gently, manoeuvre the crystal pendants I was wearing into his jaws and just press them, experimentally, between his teeth a few times. It just made me laugh because he was using his powerful jaws so daintily and sneakily…

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Ting is funny. When playing, she will open her mouth wide and wave her jaws threateningly in play.

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Lily’s jaws are a wonder, perfectly capable of murdering mice and butchering birds, yet most times she will carry them gently indoors for me to find…

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The underneath of Charlie’s jaw is soft..sweet-smelling… sometimes I am allowed to tickle her under her chin so I grab a few bonus kisses too.

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And here’s Alex, placing his head between the jaws of a hippo’s skull, last year before he went to university and we were visiting a local stately home.

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Oh go on…it’ll be a funny picture!”

Good-naturedly he complied for the sake of keeping his mother happy…

And on that note – Happy Mother’s Day to all of you who celebrate it today, fur parents and child parents alike. Love always, to all of you.

Eleven Random Little Irritations…

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1. Feeling obliged to wash your hair before you go to the hairdresser.

2. Discovering what you thought were little patches of eczema on your hands are in fact chilblains, no doubt caused by he fact that you won’t wear gloves as they make your hands feel funny.

3. Having to wear your socks inside out as the seams pressing on your toes are unbearable and you would rather go barefoot.

4. Falling over the same cat five times in the space of half an hour.

5. Not being able to buy your preferred brand of teabags in any of the shops in your immediate area as they no longer stock them apparently for absolutely no reason at all.

6. Absent-mindedly wiping your mouth on your sleeve whilst wearing a light grey top and having just eaten curry.

7. Discovering you actually really like battered onion rings when for the past ten years you’ve shouted at anyone who has tried to offer them to you.

8. Carefully cleaning the mirrored wardrobe. Then sneezing. Unexpectedly.

9. Going out for the evening with partner and returning to find that the Fairy Mudfoot has visited… and is currently sleeping inside your bed.

10. Preparing yourself to sleep, being warm enough, room dark enough, peaceful, quiet – then a cat starts licking their armpit fur loudly and disgustingly.

11. Trying to laboriously fold a kingsize sheet by yourself only to find that Fairy Mudfoot included the clean laundry basket in her house tour.

Spare Angels

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I was helping out (yes, all right, playing with the pretty crystals at Lizian) and Liz was just giving me a quick reminder as to where everything was:

And here… just in these boxes, are the spare angels…”

These words stayed with me because I thought it was a lovely concept – spare angels. Liz, of course, meant crystal angels, which in addition to the symbolism of the actual angel figure combined with the benefits of the crystal it is shaped from, bring dual advantages to the owner.

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These angels are pocket sized and ideal for carrying about with you… but everybody’s interpretation of angels is different. They can make themselves known in a manner of ways, from finding feathers in unexpected places to seeing flashes of light or even being aware of a wonderful flowery fragrance…

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I am very fond of these crystals at the moment, known as Opal or Angel Aura Quartz. They are said to raise your vibration so you can communicate with beings on a Higher level.

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Sometimes crystals can have an angel formation within them… a bonus for the owner who can draw on the highly protective symbolism of angels in addition to the crystal properties.

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Angels can be portrayed as splendid beings of light and glory, or that little voice that reminds you Someone is always there. In my difficult past weeks I have sometimes felt that I was walking very close to the edge and might have indeed fallen over, were it not for the fact that I felt a Hand was there, just pushing me gently back on the path…

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So then, however you choose to see your angel… make sure you have one spare!

Rainbows And Rabbits

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Succulent rabbits…. 

I have shared my life with quite a few animals so far, each bringing their own special brand of joy and love, family members each and every one. Apart from rabbits… I’ve only ever had one pet rabbit myself, who I absolutely adored..

Back in the day when there were still such things as live meat markets here, my parents and I were walking through one (strange place to take a four year old… but there you go…) when I saw a large wild rabbit who was destined for the pot confined in a tiny cage.

Of course, I burst into tears and begged Daddy to rescue the pretty rabbit (Dad = veterinary surgeon = animal saviour… it’s all so simple when you’re little) so he bought her, having first informed the seller that no, he did not want her “necking”.

Sorrel was as wild as they come, a large doe who bit and scratched everyone; yet strangely, would let me kiss her, cuddle her, carry her around, dress her up… She annoyed the life out of my father as when she was out in her run on the lawn, she would dig complex tunnels spoiling its pristine green velvet…

My sister, not unnaturally, requested a rabbit of her own. A second rabbit was duly purchased and introduced to the household. Personally, I think it was actually a hybrid of piranha and hyena. I was terrified of it, yet my sister persevered until one day, the rabbit charged her.

It ran at her like a demon and sank its teeth into her achilles tendon at the back of her leg, just at ankle height. It wouldn’t let go. It growled and scuffled… my sister coaxed… then pleaded… then started screaming… She and the rabbit were engaged in a deadly duel – she spun around, quite elegantly, on one leg, while the rabbit sank its teeth further into her flesh till finally my father rescued her. And re-homed the rabbit. Swiftly.

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Not sure of its proper name but I call it Rabbits Ears

I have never had another pet rabbit, but even so I remember Sorrel with love, as she made me happy, much like a rainbow makes me happy. I am always fascinated by the natural light show created by rainbows and I am lucky enough to own several crystals that contain these sparkly bits.

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Crystals that have these rainbow shimmers have an added quality of joy and optimism to them. They’re pocket vials of loveliness and hope, tangible reminders to us to look for the beauty in the smallest of things.

The spectrum of colours can be used in crystal therapy and healing to help us deal with the pain of loss and overcome sorrow. There is comfort to be found in these multi-coloured sparkly crystals – they remind us too, of a Promise made for continuity and love.

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When our fur family members leave us, we say they have gone over The Rainbow Bridge; for even though we are sad they have left us behind, we know they are turning over a new page in their own Book Of Life. But we know they’ll wait for us, and when we have reached the end of our own story, they will be there to greet us and love us. Always.

With love from all of us here at CrystalCats to Jean, Bill and Shoko – thinking of you

The Bus!

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I have decided to afford The Bus the dignity of two capitals, since as well as being a convenient mode of transport (I don’t drive – away with the fairies too often to be a reliable driver… ) it is a never-ending source of amusement and material.

For example, the classic two men in conversation:

You’ll NEVER guess who I saw the other day!!” said in tones of great excitement.

His friend, catching the enthusiasm:

Ooh! Who! Who?!”

Ohh…you don’t wanna know…”

This little exchange left me in tears of silent laughter.

This next snippet has to be my favourite though. My partner and I were returning from town and overheard a phone conversation between a man and his mother.

Mum, I went in Aldi and I bought one of them things… you know… them grill things… like a sandwich toaster but a grill… oh you know… that man… a George Formby grill!!”

Well. Of course that set me off, but my partner has the same ability that Alex has inherited – the power to remain stony-faced while I collapse like a giggling idiot.

I was dying to ask did it perhaps let him know his pork chops were done with a quick burst of “When I’m Cleaning Windows”? Or warn of imminent immolation with a sharp blast of “Leaning On A Lamp Post”…

I don’t know if this system is used on other transport networks, but our Buses employ a system of code words printed on the ticket to show they are valid on that particular day. I always check the word of the day and find infinite amusement in the choices, which can be anything from “frying pan” to “fluffy”.

Some days I find the words to be peculiarly apt, like a travelling oracle… look…

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