Ambivalent About Birds…

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Although I welcome birds to my garden – and sometimes my house, usually courtesy of Lily – as part of my wildlife-friendly environment I have endeavoured to create, I have decided I don’t really like them. They’re quite rude.

Alex had a budgie, who was a much loved and sadly missed family member, but even he had issues – a small yellow and green bird with the heart of a lion and the temper of a wolverine.

But yes, birds outside. I was planting some dianthus and violas in the back border when I heard a scream of raucous laughter.

Rude,” I thought, “I’m just minding my own business.”

I heard the laugh again and looked up, prepared to make a cutting remark like “Go away!” when I saw a magpie, perched on a tree branch above my head watching me. It opened its beak and gave another yell of unrestrained laughter at my gardening efforts and flew away.

Then the other afternoon, I was calling Ting. Every time the word “Ting” left my mouth it was echoed by a chuckling rasp, like nails down a blackboard. I looked up, and sat in the ash tree on the park was a jackdaw. It cocked its head on one side and laughed derisively, glaring at me with its pale blue eyes.

Ting! Hehehehehe!” it bellowed, and flew off in a flash of silvery black feathers.

We have a park at the back of our house and I can look out over it from the one of the back bedrooms, and I often see crows and seagulls diving and whirling like fighter jets, executing such tight turns and spins a Red Arrows pilot would be envious. Usually they battle each other, but sometimes they will unite in the face of a common foe and mob the peregrine who flies across every so often in search of food, screaming and laughing like demented banshees.

I don’t mind the little robin, Mr.Gibbs, who is part of the Avian Quality Control team in my garden. He will sit in the honeysuckle and make politely encouraging remarks. I also have a pair of little wrens, charming tiny brown birds that flicker in and out of the hedges, although they have a terrible, booming alarm call if one of the cats wanders too near their territory:

Cat! Cat! CAT! CAT! CATCATCATCAT!”

Now. I have a herb garden, which I planted earlier this year, and I am quite proud of it, not least because I recently introduced my partner to the pleasures of cooking with herbs. I was gazing absently out of the kitchen window – the back door was open – when I heard the most terrible scream.

Uh-oh, Lily’s got a bird!” was my first thought.

I ran outside to find the source of the enraged screaming and fluttering, fully expecting to see Lily at least dragging a pheasant, when a black feathered ball of rage shot past me.

There, in my lovely herb bed, was a battle royal. Two male blackbirds were having a massive punch up, going at it like professional wrestlers. One seized the other by a wing tip and flung him into the parsley- which was flattened by the force of his landing. He rebounded off the sage and dived for the other, grabbing him by the leg and upending him into the lemon balm. The other one retaliated with a solid body blow that knocked him into my thyme – I’m very fond of my thyme as it has therapeutic benefits as well as flavour – and that was when I decided enough was enough.

Oi! Get out of it you little b$%*&@*s!” I shouted – most unladylike, I know, but I had glimpsed what they had done to the chives.

They turned and looked at me.

Fair cop guv!”

And fled.

For such little birds, they fought with surprising ferocity – easy to see they’re descended from dinosaurs!

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Now – butterflies I like!

Stichtite And Suspicious Sisters…

 

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There is always something new and wonderful at Lizian – the colour of this stone drew me at once, a wonderful lavender purple, with a soap-soft feel to it.

Stichtite is a protective stone that opens your mind to being aware of how negative attitudes can damage, giving comfort and support while you learn how to adjust. It’s a happy stone that offers companionship and calm while helping you to open and attune your mind, emotional awareness and opinions.

I would hate to even hazard an opinion as to what Ting and Tooty were up to the other morning, other than to say it made me extremely suspicious…

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“We’re just sleeping…honest!”

I was pottering about in the bedroom wiping a trail of muddy paw prints off the windowsill that someone had thoughtfully left for me (“Got to keep her occupied, haven’t we…”) and I happened to look up and out of the window – our bedroom overlooks the close, which is sort of L-shaped, with a blind spot at the top corner masked by a hedge.

Just at that particular moment, Ting and Tooty came hurtling around the corner. They were a good couple of hundred yards away and they were really going for it – a full out cat canter, monkey sideways gallop, tails up and to the side.

They came, absolutely belting down the road, neck and neck, even though Tooty is a lady of the larger persuasion, hurdled the garden gate like a pair of tiny steeplechasing horses and vanished.

Seconds behind them came my neighbour in his car – he screeched round the corner, pulled up with a jolt outside his house, flung his car door open and ran into his house, looking upset.

I went downstairs and into the garden, just to, you know, ask if they’d been up to anything.

Hi Mum! Any treats going? Whatcha been doing?”

I was upstairs – I saw you both running. Anything you’d like to tell me?”

Nope.”

Sure?”

Yep… absolutely nothing… you might want to avoid him two doors down for a bit though…”

Ah.

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Ting’s Evil Genius face…

Chrysoprase And Crazy Cats…

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I happened to be sorting out a mixed bag of crystals one day and my partner was watching me. He said:

Ooh I like those ones! They look like crocodile eyes!”

I picked up the crystals he had pointed at and on closer inspection I thought to myself:

Hmm, he’s actually quite right…”

Glowing green orbs looked back at me, set in a scaly brown matrix. It seemed friendly enough, but I had no idea what it was, unsure if it was crocodile… or alligator, so to speak. I put it away in my handbag, for the next time I happened to see Liz.

Ah yes! Apple green Chrysoprase!” she exclaimed.

The stones themselves seemed quite pleased to have an identity, and armed with their name, I thought I would have a look at what they do.

Chrysoprase is good to use in meditation, bringing a deep state of contemplative relaxation. It can be used to help calm and overcome impulsive thoughts and acts, encouraging reasoned thought and the release of judgemental attitudes. It is also said to help with attracting new love, abundance and prosperity. Essentially a crystal of joy, it brings happiness and helps to heal the heart from depression and anxiety.

Chrsyprase is useful in promoting forgiveness and supporting independence, especially when coming out of a toxic co-dependent relationship. It’s a nice crystal to add to any collection as it energises the heart and sacral chakras and infuses the physical body with Universal energy… always a good thing.

Apart from when it’s half-past three in the morning and really you should be sleeping, but for some reason – blindingly apparent to the feline brain of the Siamese persuasion, yet clear as mud to my humble human brain – the done thing is to run about, claws clicking madly on the laminate flooring like a demented lobster, shouting:

Wa-oh-ah! Wahhh! Ma – ow!”

No idea what it means.

Then at times, the whole feline family is beset by a moment of oddity – the cat flap will slap and Lily will enter the kitchen with an air of great self-importance.

Mew! Mewww- weh!”

Then she turns around and marches away, tail twitching smartly above her furry trousers.

Charlie, having listened to what Lily said, will leap off the sofa and run into the kitchen and out through the cat flap. Driven by her urgency, Ting and Tooty will usually run after her, and it doesn’t matter how many times it happens, they never remember that Charlie will wait -with malice aforethought – on the other side of the cat flap to smack them as they pass through…

Some kind of feline re-birthing therapy? I’m really not sure. Sometimes I think I’m the only normal one in this house…

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Smelly…

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My sense of smell has vastly improved since giving up smoking, although obviously humans don’t have the ability to smell as acutely as dogs or cats.

It always amuses me when my mother’s dogs greet me, I can see their noses actively working to “read” me and decipher where I’ve been; but it has also recently been put forward that in fact cats have a better sense of smell than dogs.

Here’s the science bit… all mammals have three different types of scent receptors, dogs have nine variants of this, humans have two and cats? Thirty… It is thought, therefore, that scent and smell play a far more active part in a cat’s well being and health than previously assumed. I must say though, that any self-respecting cat owner is bound to be aware of their feline friend’s almost supernatural sense of smell…

Oh my God… what is that perfume you’re wearing?? Vile!!

And they will grace you with that gape-mouthed, whisker wrinkled expression of complete distaste that leaves you feeling vaguely inadequate and revoltingly smelly… This is actually more correctly known as the “Flehmen response” – cats have a special scent receptor in the roof of their mouths which helps them analyse what hey are smelling, hence the disgusted look they pull as they open their mouths to allow the scent molecule laden air in to flood their receptors… try not to take it personally. Or maybe just change your perfume…

Anyway, I had to buy some peacock feathers the other day (a costume for Alex) and I had laid them out on the bed while I looked for something to pack them in safely. When I came back, Charlie was sitting on the bed, studying the feathers intently. I wished then, that I could see into her mind – what was she seeing?

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Her little nose was working, wrinkling back and forth, and I would have loved to have known what pictures were conjured up in her little mind as she smelled the iridescent feathers… did she see majestic blue birds strolling serenely across well-kept lawns, their feathers gleaming under the heat of an Indian sun…Was the lush verdant jungle, so unlike our own garden, brought into being in her mind’s eye, emerald green vines wreathing the long-forgotten remains of mysterious crumbling redstone temples…did these foreign scents call to her own inner tiger… or did she merely think:

Good grief! That’s the biggest bloody sparrow I’ve ever smelt!”

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Rough And Tumble…

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Fluorite (left) ~ to increase concentration, balancing and positive, Moonstone (right) calming and soothing

Not that I would ever engage in that myself… no… Alex and I visited a new crystal shop last week, a lovely lady with some unusual rough pieces of crystal in stock. I am often asked, which is better for using, rough or tumbled crystals and I always reply that there is no right or wrong – it’s simply a matter of taste, personal preference.

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Rhodonite -~ the pink stone in the foreground, good for dispelling emotional pain.

Obviously, if like me, you carry a lot of crystals on you – my partner always warns me to stay away from water… – then tumbles are a lot easier to shove in your pocket and off you go. That’s purely practical though…

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Rough Howlite ~ good for calming the active mind, relieving muscle tension and stress. It’s sitting in a flattened nest of my ornamental grasses, mentioning no names. (Ting)

I asked Liz the same question and she gave me a lovely explanation that completely made sense and that I’ve been able to pass on to other people who ask me without getting too confused.

Rough crystals are basically a mass of energy – polishing them into tumblestones, wands or palmstones, helps to contain and focus the energy and healing benefits. Liz used the example of walking into a room and turning on the light, or using a flashlight. Focus, direction – that’s what polishing does, perhaps making the energies a little more accessible too.

Sometimes, though, rough pieces are simply too beautiful or too unusual not to have… my very first crystal, courtesy of Alex, was a piece of rough Rose Quartz, whose loving, warm energy was a big help at a rough time.

My relationship with my sister is a good example of rough and tumble, although now we are a little older, not literally of course! We have only just – well, about two years now – really started speaking after a fall out of ten years, that ended up being one of our more epic sister scraps….

When we were younger, our rough-and-tumble was slightly more physical. Anyone ever tried an onion fight? No? They can be quite good fun, providing your opponent is smaller and weaker than yourself… The aim of the game is to seize a piece of cut onion and hold it to your adversary’s eye, for as long as possible – or without being caught by your parents.

As my sister is ten years older than me, you can probably guess who came off worse on a regular basis. Like a cat, then, I made stealth my skill… and crept up beside my sister to shriek “BOO!!” in her ear just as she was taking a roast chicken out of the oven… it ended up as an involuntary foot covering.

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Ting… tenderly licking Tooty on the top of her head!

It’s a joy to see the family link between Ting and Tooty, there is a definite bond of love, affection and sisterhood that is exclusive to them and not shared with the other two girls. It doesn’t stop them having pretty spectacular kicky scratchy fights and slapping matches where tufts of fur fly as do the hisses.

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Ladies, please!

But as with most relationships in Life, as long as you respect one another you learn to take the rough with the smooth…

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My sister cats xx

Eclogite And Echoes

38519078_277884036277589_5483915063595106304_nAn unusual crystal this, with a strong and fluid energy to it – not surprising when you consider where it came from. It’s actually a piece of oceanic crust that was forced up from Mother Earth under tremendous pressure.

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The pink bits are actually Garnet

Eclogite brings new vigour and energy to the inner “you”, perhaps reflecting the bubbling cauldron of perpetual life it emerged from. At its junction of creation, between land and water, it unites the life force within its wearer or owner, mind, body and spirit, opening and energising the chakras so you can reach your full potential.

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Essentially, too, especially in these difficult times, Eclogite brings hope, dissolving negativity and encouraging recovery.

Speaking of recovery – or rather, not speaking, “croaking” – I have an ENT appointment on Monday to investigate my lack of voice… I hope they don’t intend to stick a camera down my throat … they’ll have to catch me first!

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The consultant can just look at me from a distance and intuit what is wrong. I’m n ot keen on being prodded about. However, my husky croak has made for some interesting conversations with the girls.

Ting and Tooty both share quite a harsh “WAH” of a meow, delivered in varying tones, and I’ve found I have been able to echo their meows quite accurately. No idea what I’m saying half the time (nothing new there) but the cats looked at me curiously and replied too.

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“WAHHHH!!!”

The story of Echo in itself is quite a sad little tale – a beautiful nymph who provoked the wrath of a god’s jealous wife is doomed forever to repeat the last few words of what she hears… Birds are obviously very adept at echoing all sorts of sounds. I remember being fascinated by a mynah bird in the pet shop near us when I was a little girl. Every time it saw me it used to sing Happy Birthday for some reason.

A close relation of the mynah is the jackdaw and a particularly annoying one seems to have taken up residence in the tree at the bottom of the garden. It makes fun of me… every time I call the cats at the moment it echoes my harsh, croaking voice… I swear it’s laughing at me…

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“What? I never said anything!”

Who Ate All The Pi’s…

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No, not really. And obviously don’t eat stones either… not good for you… although I have a distant childhood memory of eating both sand, soil and catfood – purely in the spirit of exploration. Not as a regular food choice.

The pi’s that I mean are these wonderful shaped round stones, with a hole either in the middle or towards the top of the crystal, so it can be threaded on a cord or chain and worn, an item of both fashionable and practical jewellery.

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Pondering the Meaning Of Life… 

Due to their circular shape, they are also sometimes known as “doughnuts” (mmm…doughnuts…) but they are also symbolic of the circle of Life, the path the sun follows in the sky and basically the entire concept of wholeness.

These pi stones encourage awareness of the eternal pattern – we’re born, we live, we die … and so on, because the energy that we are never really dies, it just re-emerges in a different form or way. Pi’s are wonderful tools for use in healing and energy work, and in addition to the symbolic shape, there are the crystal benefits too.

The main photo is Lepidolite, the most recent member of the family, courtesy of Alex from when he went to Bristol. Lepidolite is a good stone to wear next to your skin as it actually contains lithium, as used in antidepressants, so it helps with anxiety, panic attacks and depression. It’s pretty and sparkly too…

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BEE HAPPY!

Then, of course, the basic starter kit as I like to call it, of Rose Quartz, Amethyst and Clear Quartz. Rose Quartz is a kind and caring crystal, stone of infinite love and compassion. Amethyst, again another lovely crystal – sorry, I know, they’re all lovely… and even if I meet a crystal I can’t get along with, I can still find something to admire – traditionally used to guard against drunkeness. But I use it more as an anchor as it is highly effective at both warding off negative thoughts directed at you, and also any self-directed negativity that you may feel bubbling up within you is gently soothed away.

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Rose Quartz and gladioli…

A comfort then, rather like the reassuring steak and kidney pie dinner on a wintry night. Pies have a long and honourable history, believed to be a Greek creation dating from the 5th century. Essentially, they started life as handy containers for savoury fillings, but now, obviously, there is a wide variety… the whole thing, top and bottom, encased in pastry, just a bottom, just a top, an individual rolled up thing – although we are straying into Cornish pasty territory there…

I must confess… I don’t really like pies. They seem to promise much and deliver little, and if my mother serves pie for dinner I invariably infuriate her by taking the lid off, generally giving it to a conveniently placed dog and dissecting the contents… rather appropriately I feel, since in mediaeval times pies were also known as “coffyns”.

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Shepherd pie!!

I think though, what finally did it for me with pies was when I had actually managed to find a decent brand, with a reasonable filling of chicken and asparagus, where the pastry wasn’t too stodgy either.

I left it on the baking tray for a minute while I went to fetch something and when I came back, Ting was curled up asleep on top of it…

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