Skin Deep…

Now. I’ve never been particularly into makeup, foundation, blusher, lipstick and all the other doohickeys that go along with wanting to present a well-groomed and beautiful face to the world. Skincare for me was limited to the “cleanse, tone and moisturise” regime for a while till even that went by the by and my routine was to wash my face in cold water (“Much better for the complexion dear” – I can hear my grandmother’s voice now…) and then slap on some moisturiser, usually the supermarket’s own brand, on my face and hands and then I’m pretty much good to go.

However… as I’ve got older a couple of issues have come into play. As I’ve said I’ve never bothered with makeup other than the absolute essentials because I simply don’t know how. I can plant up a border for all year colour and whip up a batch of sourdough naan breads but ask me to tell the difference between a highlighter and a contour brush then I’m stuffed…

Alex, on the other hand, or rather his super-glamorous alter-ego Lady Dioxide, is a dab hand with all sorts of beauty related items to the extent where the sight of a pair of eyelash curlers induce a vague sense of panic in me. Matters came to a head for me when I noticed I was starting to look a little, um, weather beaten. Naturally, I asked Alex for advice and on our next foray into town we stopped at a well-known chemists and purveyor of beauty products where a very helpful lady sorted me out with something for the mature skin, plucked seemingly at random from the countless array of …stuff… on the shelves behind her.

“Here!” she chirped merrily. “Try this!”

So I did and I must say that I did actually notice a difference. When I ran out of it and had to go without for a week I went storming back in to buy more and endorsed their product by declaring; “I’ve run out! I need more! Look at me! Just look at me..!”

But since then, I have managed to balance my desire to be less wrinkly with a wish to use cruelty free and vegan products with a range from a well known health food shop and the occasional application of a luxury item from the chemist…The advertisements for some of these products though – they sound like something I would either use to clean the patio or patch up a wall… “Re-surfacing”… “dermabrasion…” and I am highly suspicious of putting anything that contains the word “acid” on my face, hyaluronic or otherwise.

Mr.CC said something to me once in the early stages of our relationship, along the lines of how he liked the fact that I wore little or no makeup since he knew what he would be waking up with… I was in the garden the other day when he reiterated this opinion of my – ahem – usual appearance, as I glared up at him, kneeling between the miscanthus and the gaura, clutching a handful of dead nasturtiums, hair stuck muddily to my brow with sweat, dirt on my face and weeds in my pockets.

“Yeah…” he said thoughtfully, “natural beauty.”

Bless him.

So, the supermodels can keep their hi-def eyebrows and resurfacing chemicals… I’ll just keep applying the dead leaves and mud dug up from under the apple tree and mixed with pond water…

Glasses….

Nothing wrong with my eyesight!

I have mixed feelings about glasses – the optical variety, not the drinking vessels, they’re generally quite useful, although they have their own separate issues… like somebody very kindly left me a dead moth once in a glass of water I was drinking, and I have to be careful at my mother’s since Rocky, her dog, will cheerfully sample anything you leave within reach.

But anyway. Glasses. Spectacles. Face furniture. Nowadays they seem to be quite a chic fashion accessory, with various high-end labels available, and they also serve other purposes than to enhance or correct faulty vision, like filtering out blue light. Whatever…

I wear glasses for one reason and one reason only. I am incredibly short sighted. To the extent where I have bent down to pick up a piece of fluff only to have it sprout legs and reveal itself as a surprise spider. I have greeted people seen from a distance as good friends only to approach closer and find out that I have absolutely no idea who they are. Conversely, I have blanked people I have known for years until they are up close and personal… social distancing notwithstanding.

Shortsightedness coupled with absent mindedness can be entertaining – I have taken my glasses off to put face cream on, wandered off, distracted and forgotten where I’ve put them and been too short sighted to find them… I solved that problem by having tactical emergency glasses placed around the house at strategic key points, rather like fire extinguishers, so I can go to one of these points, collect a spare pair of glasses then return to search and locate my original pair…

My shortsightedness was first discovered at the tender age of four – I couldn’t see what the teacher was writing on the blackboard from my desk, so conveniently placed at the back of the classroom, so I had to get up, walk to where I could see the blackboard, memorise the chunk of writing, return to my seat and copy it down. Did wonders for training my memory but understandably irritated everyone else to the point where my my teacher told my parents. I have no idea why they hadn’t noticed, but anyway, off I went to the optician’s and my world was restored to clear and wonderful focus. I could see! Every blade of grass, every whisker on my cat’s face.

And then it began… “Specky four eyes!” and other imaginative insults since I was the only kid in the class who wore glasses. However, I persevered, as being able to see kind of outweighed the stigma, but it was interesting to see how the insults changed as I got older. “Men never make passes at girls who wear glasses.” Really? I’ve had my share in the past…

But I reached the age of 18 and made my first foray into the world of contact lenses. Again, fabulous to be able to see, although you do feel as though your eyes are very wide open… But I discovered too that contact lenses could present their own problems. Ever tried taking a contact lens out when you’ve been drinking? After clawing desperately at your eyeball for half an hour you give up and fall asleep only to wake up in the morning with it immovably shrivelled onto your corneal surface…

Back to glasses then. I have very specific design requirements when it comes to my glasses – I don’t like heavy frames, the colour has to be right, likewise the shape to hold the specially thinned lenses, and they have to withstand other outside forces too. My optician once asked me, appalled: “Are these teeth marks on the arms?!”

“Um, yes… the cat got hold of them while I was asleep…”

But my current optician is a lovely, kind and endlessly patient man, and my present pair of glasses had been recognised by him as the perfect pair for me. He put them carefully aside until it was time for my next appointment, whereupon he produced them with an air of quiet satisfaction:

“Samantha, I saw these and thought of you…”

Storm In A Teacup – #BlogBattle

This is the first time I’ve tried the BlogBattle…but with a prompt word like “tea” how could I resist…

The woman stood at her kitchen sink, gazing out thoughtfully over the back garden. It was mid-morning and the sun still hung low in the sky, shining with a gentle warmth that heralded a pleasant day.

She turned from the view of her neat little garden and moved to the counter to switch her kettle on. While it hummed into heat she reached up into a cupboard and pulled out a thick china mug, its solid weight a comfort in her hands. She turned it in her grip, feeling the heft of it, then set it on the side as the kettle reached its purring crescendo and clicked companionably off.

The woman deftly flicked a teabag from a cannister into her mug, carefully filling it with the gently steaming water till it rested a perfect inch below the thick china rim. Shimmering whorls of translucent brown rose from the teabag and into the hot water which gradually took on the warm even hue.

The woman bent her head over the mug and inhaled as the fragrant warmth rose up into her nostrils; she breathed in the scent of delicately dried and blended leaves, the rich warming perfume filling her mouth with anticipatory saliva. When the tea had infused sufficiently, she reached over for a teaspoon and fished out the teabag, giving it a slight squeeze against the side of her mug.

Quickly, she added a spoonful of sugar, just enough to taste, and she watched carefully as the tiny white crystals mounded on the sugar spoon and then tumbled merrily off the edge and into the liquid below where they dissolved instantly. The woman crossed to her fridge and pulled the door gently open, taking out the plastic bottle of milk and tilting it so a tiny stream fell into her mug.

She stopped as the milk spun through the hot tea in an opalescent spiral, then picked up the teaspoon and lifting her mug delicately in both hands she walked to her kitchen table and sat down, with her tea in front of her.

Then, quite gently, still gazing thoughtfully into the distance, she began to stir.

Anticlockwise, widdershins, the old way, she moved the teaspoon around the mug, and the tea followed the curve of the spoon obediently, gathering pace.

Some miles away, out at sea, a spiral of thickening cloud began to form and a chill wind made its spiteful way ashore to tug at the tousled blonde curls of a girl as she clutched at the arm of the man beside her. He glanced up nervously at the sky as the clouds began to pile up in pillowy heaps of grey, bruising the previously cheerful blue sky.

At her kitchen table, the woman steadily stirred her tea, a tiny crease forming between her eyebrows as she frowned slightly in concentration.

“Hurry up!” the man ordered brusquely, nervously, tugging the girl anxiously by the hand after him onto the little boat.

The storm clouds slid silently over the harbour and the sea rose up to meet them, frothy curls of whipped white. Thunder muttered menacingly and the little boat began to buck like a skittish horse. The girl gave a tiny squeal of fright as the deck shifted beneath her feet and the man sought to comfort her.

“Sir,” the anxious sailor said, “sir, I really wouldn’t put out in this -”

“Rubbish, are you afraid of a little rough weather!” the man said derisively but in his heart he was afraid.

Miles away, in her sunny, bright kitchen the woman stirred her tea – smoothly, continuously, as the heavy swollen clouds hung over the harbour and released their burden into the sea, vicious rain that thrashed the sea into frenzied waves that took the little boat and shook it like a terrier with a rat.

The man reached desperately for the hand of the girl as miles away his wife abruptly stopped stirring her tea, dropped the spoon onto the tiled surface of her kitchen table and lifted her mug to her lips.

She drank.

The little boat and its passengers were lost.

The woman stood up and moved to the sink where she rinsed her mug and left it neatly inverted on the side to drain.

“Come Fly With Me…”

Wonder what he’s humming while he washes his hands… “Fly me to the moon..” “I believe I can fly…”

Now. I know flies are an irritation and a nuisance and not the most hygienic of creatures either – but they are, if you look at them, little marvels of Mother Nature’s engineering…

The true flies derive their name from the Greek, “Diptera” meaning “two winged” and have compound eyes, which roughly means that their vision of Life appears to them in mosaic form … fascinating… yet also despite having compound eyes, flies are actually short-sighted. I feel a certain kinship with them in that respect.

Our winged friends make themselves particularly noticed during the summer months. To try and deter their presence in her house, my mother bought one of those fly curtains which are basically coloured strips of plastic hanging from a rod you fix above your door frame thus hindering the access of flies and other unwelcome visitors.

I was only too happy to assist my mother with fitting it to her door frame, and then we stood back and admired it. I agreed she was indeed fortunate to find one in black and white which matched the colour scheme of her kitchen. Then, as we stood and watched, a fly flew in through the hanging strips of plastic with the absolute precision of a computer aided jet fighter pilot, made a swift circuit of the kitchen and exited again with deadly accuracy through the millimetres-wide gap in the hanging plastic strips of the fly deterrent curtain. I looked at my mother.

“*%$@!!”

On another occasion, my home was fly-free, or so I thought, and I was quite happily pottering about upstairs tidying when –

“zzzZZZZZZZZZZZZZ!!!!”

I was joined by a large and cheerful housefly. It buzzed in self-importantly:“Hi! And how are we today?” – smacked its head against the mirror, then commenced that infuriating desperate scramble up and down the window that they do…

I don’t like killing things mindlessly, so seizing my opportunity I opened the window and used the blinds to waft the fly outside to freedom … I resumed my cleaning…

“zzzZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ!!!! Hi! And how are we today?”

The bloody thing had flown straight out of the window, gone downstairs and round to the back of the house, found the back door open and flown right on in again…

Despite my annoyance, I did find it quite funny and to be fair, these little creatures oft-maligned still have their place in the Universe as one of the tiny cogs that deal with the various aspects of decomposition. Mother Nature’s solid waste technicians if you will.

And they are the source of a joke that I originally heard as a child and still find (shamefully) funny now…

What do you call a fly with no wings?

A walk…