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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Hematoid Quartz And Hot Cats

37867639_297316924347055_2763508256054706176_nI’m very into these Dragons’ Eggs, or Seer Stones, as they’re sometimes known, at the moment. Shaped into ovals and roughly polished, and then with a slice taken off and that side polished to a high sheen, you are supposed to be able to see the future, whilst gazing into the polished side.

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I have quite a collection of these, a recent addition being this lovely Hematoid Quartz egg. I bought a darker one for Alex too… As the name suggests, this is Clear Quartz with inclusions of Hematite. It has a very smooth energy to it as a crystal – the natural grounding properties of Hematite are amplified by the Clear Quartz to help calm your mind, giving you the focus to filter out distractions whilst retaining the information you need to utilise at the right moment.

This is a good stone for students, as it will help bring creativity to your thinking and help you find the simplest solution to most issues. Hematoid Quartz will bring determination and perseverance to boost your willpower. It gives you the genuine desire for peace and harmony in mind, body and spirit and the physical world too.

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Hematoid Quartz is a great stone to use in healing and crystal therapy as it cleanses and organises the chakras, reabsorbing negativity and replacing it with unity and self-worth. As a crystal, Hematoid Quartz is also associated with the healing and calming energy of water.

Water – an always important resource, even more so at the moment in this unexpected heatwave. Obviously, now it’s more important than ever to look after your animals’ welfare, making sure they have plenty of clean, fresh water, somewhere cool and shady for refuge and that they are not stressed or uncomfortable in this hot weather.

Leave dishes of water out for birds, hedgehogs and other wildlife, ensuring it is fresh and changed regularly. We haven’t cut our grass in ages, to make sure there are some cool spots and undergrowth left for the toads and newts and the cats, of course.

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My girls are all short haired, but even so, they’re feeling the heat and I keep a careful check on them. I leave the bedroom blinds drawn so the room is slightly cooler, and when we all retire, the fan is usually running.

I’ve come across some helpful hints, which you may already know, but they bear repeating. Keep some towels in the freezer for a pleasant chill down – you can even buy self-cooling gel mats. My girls have one but they prefer a more direct method of cooling down… lying on the bed while I fan them…

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“I’m waiting….!”

Don’t leave wet food down too long in this heat either – it will very quickly spoil and the last thing anybody needs is an upset tummy…Wiping paws and the inside of ears with a cool damp cloth is also useful. Do NOT shut your animals in a small, enclosed unventilated area – there are still people out there leaving dogs unattended in hot cars and they can’t sweat like we do. Panting is how they cool down and if there is no fresh air coming in, you can imagine how quickly the atmosphere becomes stale and the animal begins to overheat.

Despite the weather warnings, I still see people who think it’s a greta idea to take their dog for a walk at midday – would you take a child out for a barefoot walk in scorching temperatures??

We leave a large plastic bowl of water out on the park for passing thirsty canines…Rant over… but stay safe friends, watch out for your furred and feathered family and our wild friends too.

Healer And Home.

37423459_289080455170702_1767797664176406528_nImagine my delight when Alex and I popped in to see Liz only to find out she had a whole new hoard of wonderful treasures… Look at these golden delights! This is actually Golden Healer Quartz, quite a newly discovered and New Age crystal, with some truly beautiful qualities and metaphysical benefits to match its appearance too.

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I reached for this box of shimmery goodies with an air of desperation so Liz promptly released them into my avaricious grasp…She went on to explain that the golden colour is due to deposits of iron oxide that have grown with the quartz layers as they form.

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They vary in colour obviously, but I was particularly drawn to the one pictured below as it has a clear window right through it and a wonderful cross hatching of iron oxide. As with Clear Quartz, Golden Healer Quartz is a multi-purpose crystal, the uplifting colour and nature of it is said to attract success and boost creativity.

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Again, its golden colouration is associated with the achievement of financial goals, and, like Citrine, it is a crystal of abundance. It has the soft glow and encouraging warmth of the precious metal it’s named for and as such can be used for a lot of positive purposes. It helps you to release self-defeating attitudes – there is light at the end of the tunnel – and forget about unhealthy habits in favour of a positive mental attitude uniting mind, body and spirit.

37378028_289080581837356_8891413546395500544_nThe gentle glow of Golden Healer Quartz helps you to see clearly and maintain your focus on your goals and your faith in yourself that these are achievable, whilst filtering out surrounding distractions. Golden Healer Quartz’s sympathetic and warming vibration gives you the mental strength to move forward after negative events.

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Three of my girls are very home and me orientated… Lily is the original Cat Who Walks By Herself – but the furthest the others will venture is out into the close where we live and three doors over to where my partner’s mother lives. They quite like visiting Grandma… Home is important to them – their safe space, and my heart hurts for the people who put up sad adverts begging for the safe return of their (fur) baby who has wandered further than usual afield.

I am fortunate in that my cats regard me (I hope) as their home and no matter where I am, that they are secure and happy with me. You can pretty much guarantee that within five minutes of me stepping into the garden that three, possibly four – and sometimes even five – cats will appear to watch what I am doing and add comments…

Why are you digging? I thought you used the inside bathroom …”

Here! I’ll help!”

Who are you??”

I planted some marigolds the other day. When I went to check on their progress this morning, I found that “someone” had carefully dug around the roots of the plants so they’d all fallen over…

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“We just come for the food…”

My own early home life was all right, all the usual ups and downs and tensions that go with warring divorcing parents… I went through a period of homelessness when I was older too, so home isn’t always necessarily the house in which you’re living. Thus, as I have grown older myself, the true meaning of home is a cat (or two, or three, or four – not you, you don’t live here!) on your knee or on your bed at night purring you to sleep, and love in your heart always.

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“Just looking – honest!”

Porcellanite And Prey

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This unassuming little green stone with delicate black etchings has a lovely tactile smoothness to it, so it is no surprise to learn that it is a wonderful cleanser and healer for connective tissues, ligaments, skin and intestines, mirroring everybody’s (well mine at least) wish for smooth and perfect skin, well-oiled tendons and a stomach that behaves itself.

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Perfectly smooth and soft Princess paws… 

Porcellanite feels smooth and serene to hold, the calm green colour giving strength and focus to your thoughts and feelings and how you wish to express them. The little black etchings within the stone act as markers and signposts of encouragement, inspiring and creative.

Speaking of creative… I know cats are inveterate hunters and killers of prey – it’s part of their genetic history and instinctual makeup, but Charlie, Ting and Tooty don’t hunt. Never have done, and I can’t see them starting anytime soon, although Charlie has, once or twice, presented me with a dead moth, and once a tiny live mouse, that I think she thought she could keep as a pet.

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Tooty’s more of a tree-hugger really… 

Like Ting and Tooty, who also lost their mother at an early age, perhaps they missed that essential part of their feline education, and their hunting instinct just wasn’t switched on. They are all keen birdwatchers, though, and Ting seems to have formed quite a close relationship with the fish.

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“Hi Bert, hi George, hi Alfie, hi Maureen, hi Hilda, hi Nemo… “

Not so Lily. Indeed, I’ve never known such a cat for hunting and bringing her prey home. She excelled herself the other morning… I am accustomed to the usual mice – two different species, sometimes live, sometimes dead, sometimes whole, sometimes… not – and the occasional bird… but the other morning…

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Butter wouldn’t… even dare go near her!

I heard her special “meow” and realising that she’d brought a gift in, leapt out of bed and rushed downstairs to take part in our shared hobby of early-morning mousehunt. (I’m actually quite good now.)

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Yep…o.k….I’ll leave you alone…

Lily had vanished. But on the doormat was a very large, very dead rat. You can colour me surprised, impressed, a little scared and rather sad… kind of brownish-purple, like an old bruise, I suppose…

I’ve had rats as pets, and know what gentle and loving creatures they can be, so I gathered up the body and disposed of it in the wild part of the garden, in a little hole. I say little…it was a very large rat, so when the Demon Huntress returned later that morning, I seized her and checked for injuries.

I did, out of courtesy, thank her for the rat, but mentioned I would prefer it not to happen again, only to receive the reply:

But why? You tell us it’s always better to buy in bulk when it comes to cat food!”

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