Thank Yous and Thoughts

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We don’t say thank you enough, nowadays, I feel… for someone opening the door for you, for even just receiving your change at the shop… I need to say some thank yous… Marje of Kyrosmagica has nominated me for the Hidden Gem Blog of the Blogger’s Bash, a very kind thought. Please do go and have a look at her blog – you might find a familiar face there… Lily, doing some promotion work for Marje’s book, out this summer – [Here is the link if you would like to see what the Blogger’s Bash is about, as organised by Sacha Black…]

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Also… we need to give thanks in the sense of feeling gratitude for the gifts we have and the world we live in – it’s a beautiful place after all.

As always, I would like to thank anyone who has been kind enough to stop by for a read, a like or a subscribe. Your interest is much appreciated and comments always welcome. xx

THANKS

Charlie says: “Be nice!”

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💕 Cheerio! 💕

Food And Feelings…

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I’ve never had the best of relationships with food… I was a fussy eater when I was little, and even now, I have particular quirks that can irritate anyone who is nice enough to prepare food for me, yet seem perfectly logical to me.

For example, I have mixed feelings about stew… No matter what you call it, casserole, stew, cassoulet, ragout – to me it is a dish to be regarded with great suspicion as it appears an excuse to cover a variety of items that I might not like with a coloured sauce in an attempt to disguise them.

Like mushrooms. I can appreciate them for their … aesthetic value, but whenever my mother puts mushrooms in a dish, I will systematically pick them out and lay them on the side of my plate like a row of slimy brown corpses…

I don’t like all my food items to be touching. If I have something like baked beans, chips (fries) and sausage, there has to be a clearly delineated zone between the said items. This makes perfect sense to me – who wants to eat chips soggy with bean juice?

And yet, I love reading recipe books, I am fascinated by cookery programmes, follow various food blogs and can eat out once in a while without too much mental trauma…

18618386_128858504336024_1624263357_oDinner out with my son and a rare exception to my general rule of no sneaky sauces or intrusive ingredients… a lovely risotto

My mother is of the generation where food equates to love; for her, you demonstrate you care by cooking for someone, pressing extra portions on them, piling their plate high. Every food shopping trip is planned with military precision … and yet we still end up going back for an ingredient that she can’t possibly do without… much to my exasperation.

I go “off” items with, to her annoying unpredictability, refusing to eat things that my mother considers a delicacy and that I will have nightmares about… lobster equals luxury food item to my mother; to me… it’s basically a giant bug that belongs in the realms of horror. Or at least in the sea where it lives.

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My younger son is vegetarian, which is beginning to appeal to me quite strongly. It seems cleaner, somehow, and kinder. I’m not condemning meat eaters at all – who am I to judge? Indeed, as long as you eat meat with appreciation and gratitude for the animals’ sacrifice, then fair enough.

I would NEVER attempt to impose eating regulations on my cats, they are obligate carnivores after all and need a protein based diet, so I will (mostly) hunt far and wide for the perfect of catfood that will satisfy my girls’ delicate palates…

As for me? Well, I know I don’t have to go too far to hunt down my next packet of biscuits… or watermelon!

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Strawberry Quartz and Sparkling Cats

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When I was a little girl I went through a phase when I would only eat strawberry jam sandwiches -white bread, crusts cut off – and fishfingers. Not together, obviously…

I don’t like fishfingers now, but I am still quite fond of jam, so I was delighted when my son’s lovely crystal lady Lizian identified this piece of quartz as Strawberry Quartz. It reminds me of a spoonful of good quality jam and brings with it the same sense of simple happiness I get when spreading jam on hot buttered toast…

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Metaphysically, then, I was pleased to learn that Strawberry Quartz does bring joy and awareness to life. It’s a happy, uncomplicated stone that shows you the humour in life and how to live every aspect of it with this sense of light and love.

It works with the heart chakra to gift your life with love and positivity, so you can shed old, negative thought patterns, pinpointing the causes and transform them into new and more hopeful ways of living. A sugar boost for the soul, a burst of sparkling energy and joy…

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Sparkling” can be used in various descriptive ways; it may seem a harder-edged word than something like the softer “glowing”, but I enjoy it as it brings crystalline qualities to mind.

I love to see the play of sunlight in my black cats’ fur, Lily and Tooty, as the light touches each hair with sparkle and bestows a rainbow radiance…

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I love Ting’s blue eyes, that sparkle with adoration as she looks at me… slightly cross-eyed.

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And of course, there is Charlie. My little princess is possessed of a sparkling intellect. Seriously. She’s the most intelligent cat I’ve ever known.

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Two summers ago, I made up a song about Charlie…as you do… and I used to sing it to her, quite a lot. It had a particular name in it, which I called her, so imagine my surprise when last year, the same name was used in the lyrics of a song for a soft drink… then this year, the song was released as part of a compilation album.

My little cat has demonstrated a sensitivity to music that I was not aware felines had. Unless it’s just my singing… but the first time she heard the song for the drink, she looked at me with interest, obviously recognising the words. Then, as the advert was played… again… and again…she grew visibly weary of it and slightly irritated by it.

I heard the advert for the compilation advert for the first time the other day and thought:

Oh no! She’ll think I’ve done it on purpose…!!”

Then it just so happened, I was in bed, Charlie was lying at the end of the bed and my son popped in to say goodnight. The advert played. I said:

Uh-oh! Watch her!”

When Charlie heard her special song, she turned around to look at me and her face said, clear as day,

I suppose you think that’s funny. It’s just plain childish!”

She gave me such a contemptuous look, I shrank back into my duvet, while my son started to laugh…

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Just one example of Madame La Princesse’s sparkling intellect …. and ability to make me, a not inconsiderably-sized human, feel about two inches tall…The song? No! I’m not telling you! Oh…all right then…enjoy!

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The Eyes Have It…

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What’s the first thing you look at when you meet someone? For me, it has to be the eyes… you can read a lot about a person – or an animal – from their eyes. It’s obviously a very significant body part as look how many moths and butterflies adopt the eye pattern to give the impression of being big and scary…

My mother’s puppy, Rocky, has a habit of putting his head on my knee and slow blinking. As any cat lover knows, I am aware that in cats this is the feline equivalent of a kiss… sort of … but I’d never seen a dog do it.

So, I Googled it and was enchanted to learn that it means the dog has no aggressive intentions towards you, it’s making friendly eye contact and is relaxed in its environment. It just so happened that I was eating my dinner when Rocky sweetly laid his head on my knee and slow-blinked his eyes lovingly… and demonstratively… displaying non-threatening intentions towards my salad!

It also amused me that he regarded me of sufficient importance in the “pack” to be appeased thus… I think Erin, Mum’s German Shepherd, regards me as an equal (perhaps), maybe a rather annoying sister, as she rolls her eyes expressively at my mother when I want to hold her paw, or her tail… or touch her nose…or look at her teeth…

My four cats all have different colour eyes which amuses me. Lily’s are emerald green, which show up beautifully against her black fur, as do Tooty’s – her eyes are a striking shade of yellow. Ting’s, of course, are as blue as a summer sky, the show up purple in some light; and Madame La Princesse, Charlie, has a special shade of greenish gold, uniquely all her own to reflect her feline intelligence… I wish I could my eye make up like hers…

Human eye colour is a funny old thing too… some people even going to the extent of wearing contact lenses to change their eye colour. If eyes are supposed to be the mirrors of the soul… isn’t that a little deceptive? Like wearing sunglasses… faces can be hard to read, then, without making direct eye contact.

Eye colour can form part of an accepted image too – look at James Bond. There was an outcry when Daniel Craig got the part of OO7 – blond haired? Blue eyed? This couldn’t be… but why? Why did having blue eyes make him less suitable, or visually pleasing to the eye, as James Bond? Why had so many fans identified the fictional agent with a dark hired, dark eyed suave man…

KH 1The lovely Ciaran Hinds (http://www.ciaranhinds.eu/chblog/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/ciaran-hinds-in-gothenburg.jpg)

Women are apparently attracted to men with dark eyes, according to scientific research, as men blessed with dark eyes are more likely to be confident and successful… is it the strongest caveman thing? Now, blue eyes can all be traced back to one common ancestor, who was a mutation; so perhaps the subconscious yearning for a man with dark eyes does indeed hark back to neolithic times when dark eyes were most prevalent and therefore most successful.

NP1Nathaniel Parker ~ in Inspector Lynley (http://images5.fanpop.com/image/photos/26700000/Nathaniel-Parker-nathaniel-parker-26797804-446-594.jpg)

Men with dark eyes feature as the “hero” or “lost one” in my little pieces of creative writing, and these dashing, dark-eyed heroes wander nonchalantly through my dreams…

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The lovely Mr. Jeffrey Dean Morgan of ‘Supernatural’, ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ and ‘The Walking Dead’ fame

And yet, both my sons have blue eyes… My own are (of course) a somewhat uninteresting shade of green, ironically enough, similar to the new shade chosen for cigarette packets. “Opaque Couché” – the ugliest colour in the world, so Australian researchers say… Oh well. At least “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes”… and I am blonde. Sort of.

Having A Bath… With Cats

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1. First remove all traces in bathroom of previous occupant (wet towels, empty shampoo bottles, muddy pawprints and the like) and clean, so it is wonderful and fresh, ready and waiting for you to enjoy some quality time alone, just for you.

2. Jump and shriek in fright as black cat leaps silently onto toilet seat and stares… meaningfully.

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3. Turn back to bath to begin running a lovely hot bath, after first removing small black cat that has somehow appeared in bath.

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4. Clean bath again, as small black cat has obviously been digging in the garden and has left muddy pawprints all over the previously gleaming bath.

5. Open bathroom door to persuade cats to leave only to have Siamese cat dart in and jump onto shelf behind bath knocking all the toiletries over.

6. Remove Siamese, ignoring her howls of protest and shut door.

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7. Remove small black cat and larger black cat from bath and clean…

8. Start to undress, while bath is running, ignoring howls and thuds from other side of the door as previously removed cats attempt to regain entry.

9. Discover tabby cat has removed plug from bath, pulling it out by the chain, thus allowing the water to escape, and said cat is now staring at your half-naked body… judgementally.

10. Give up and have shower.

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Teeth… And Terror

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Regular readers will know that like a fair proportion of the population , I am afraid of the dentist. Not my actual dentist per se, as she is super-model beautiful, softly spoken and blessed with a silken touch on her instruments.

I had a tooth out yesterday… no Tooth Fairy for me; mind you, I don’t really think she would have wanted this tooth, although I did not lose it through lack of care. I am extremely conscientious when it comes to looking after my teeth, precisely because I am so afraid of the dentist.

For years, though, this particular tooth has bothered me. I’ve tried all the sensitive toothpastes on the market, it’s had various fillings – even a root canal or something – I didn’t listen too much to the gory details about that…

My previous dentist dismissed my complaints of it not feeling right, too hot, as being perfectly normal, as it was a gold filling which does obviously retain heat. He reprimanded me for not flossing the area: “But it HURTS!” He replied: “No pain, no gain.” Yeah right.

Then, last year, I changed dentists. As a matter of course, on my first routine check up there, x-rays were taken, and when I went back to receive the results, I was horrified to find that the previous dentist had slapped a filling and root canal on top of an underlying abscess that was already present. The actual bone in my jaw was losing density… as my current dentist pointed out to me, showing me a cloudy grey blotch in a whole sea of blotches, that I eventually made out was my head. Eugh.

The tooth was granted a period of grace to see if it would somehow magically right itself. It didn’t. It throbbed and buzzed like a wasp in a bottle… it was the sort of thing that you would scratch until it bled if you could. So, yeserday, the tooth’s time was up.

Palms sweating, nervously clutching clear Fluorite (good for teeth) and Amber (natural analgesic) I lay back in the dentist’s chair as she tenderly rubbed the special numbing cream into my gum before injecting the anaesthetic. Lots of it. I am hyper-sensitive to pain, an actual recognised medical condition – I’m not just being a big wuss – and moments later, the tooth popped out as easily as an apple falling off a tree.

It’s all over,” my lovely dentist soothed in dulcet tones , “just rinse and then you can go…”

I leapt to my feet and shot out, pausing only to mutter “’ank ‘oo!” and glance back disbelievingly at the sweaty outline I left behind on her pristine dentist’s chair. I suppose that’s one less tooth to worry about in the future, and to be honest, I’m glad it’s gone, rather like when the annoying neighbour whose car alarm goes off all the time at 4.00 a.m. moves away…

And I leave you with this cautionary tale from the poet Pam Ayres that my father found amusing… and I, quite frankly, find terrifying…

18362027_123540948201113_1080506221_oFluorite and Amber… very useful for dentist trips…

Teachers and Traumas

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For Alex (friend) who suggested it and Alex (son) who lived part of it…

Now. I am not a particularly shouty person, nor am I particularly vengeful either. Perhaps those who know me in real time would disagree… whatever. However, like the majority of people, I am bound to leap to the defence of those I love…

As I mentioned in a post last week, I was fortunate enough to have some very good teacher at my school, like my headmistress, Mrs. C. Mrs J. was the English teacher we were blessed with, a somewhat nervy and neurotic woman, but such a dedicated and effective teacher that she instilled in me a love of the English language and classic literature that remains with me to this day.

Miss M. was another matter altogether… like a fat shark she circled our year group, searching for the weak, the unknowledgeable, the downright scared… And then there was me. She was a Maths teacher, of course. Maths was never my best subject, and like a shark, she scented my uncertainty, my lack of ability and seized upon it.

She had an aura of indefinable menace about her and held my lack of numerical skills up for all to see and laugh at, yet in such a subtle way it appeared as if by exposing me, she was helping me. Clever woman. Her mental abuse would not be tolerated today, no doubt, but she was cunning enough to avoid detection by Mrs. C and convincingly authoritative so that her bullying would be dismissed as firm teaching methods by other adults.

Most of my peers acquired enough knowledge to make it through her lessons, but me? Yeah, well, suffice it to say, quadratic equations to this day induce a rising sense of panic in me … My school life was a lot more pleasant when|Miss M. metaphorically left me for dead and left me to the mercy of Mrs. A, whose only goal was to ensure you could add and divide sufficiently enough to budget for a dinner party of twenty…

My somewhat mixed bag of school experiences with both peers and teachers left me hyper-vigilant when it came to my own sons. My oldest managed a reasonable school life, though not distinguished particularly, and there were only a couple of incidents where I was called to school on account of a fight.

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My younger son was different from the word go. Kind and intelligent, he was singled out by his peers as a target, especially when he went to senior school. One insult in particular always puzzled me, a veritable oxymoron – emphasis on the moron – he was called “gay” because he was nice to girls. Rather a sad indictment on the standard of education in ‘academies’ I feel. However, I choose not to dwell on this, rather one particular incident that involved a teacher, who drew my wrath down on her unsuspecting head through her lack of fact, finding and mere assumption.

It was a couple of weeks into a new year and History was always one of my son’s favourite lessons. This teacher was relatively pleasant most of the time, but on this occasion, my son had somehow got caught up in a prank of hiding a girl’s books. He wasn’t directly involved, but he and another girl were caught out in the act of returning the books to the other girl, and instead of listening to the story, Mrs. H. assumed that they were the ones responsible, and dished out detention, punishments and letters home. During the rest of the day, this teacher kept rubbing her hands with glee and saying to my son:

Oh I can’t wait to meet your mother and tell her how cruel you were to E., you’re always complaining how people pick on you.”

It just so happened that it was Parents’ Evening… my son came home for his tea and told me about the incident and was understandably very upset; and when I heard what she had been saying, I was furious.

My parents hadn’t said anything about my bullying at school – there was NO way I was going to let this happen to my son. Off we went, despite my son’s pleas that we didn’t… the evening passed pleasantly, glowing reports from his other teachers, and it was becoming glaringly obvious that we were avoiding History. I didn’t want to stress my son further, so I thought:

Well let’s sort this out at the top.”

It just so happened that I knew the headmaster rather well, an attractive man – think a somewhat overweight Harrison Ford – who had a soft spot for my son since he represented the school favourably on a number of public occasions. I briefly filled him in on the situation and he said:

Oh, there must be some misunderstanding, I know your son wouldn’t be involved in something as silly as that. Don’t worry, I’ll sort it out with the Head of Department.”

Suitably reassured, my son felt confident enough to approach his History teacher, but the apprehension on his face, and the smug smile on hers as she realised who I was, annoyed me. Somewhat.

Oh Miss. Murdoch, you don’t realise how much I’ve been looking forward to meeting you.”

Channelling my old head mistress and looking down at her, I said in my best Received Pronunciation 1950’s BBC-worthy tones:

Oh, Miss. H. I rather think I do. Considering I had a very upset little boy to deal with when he came home I am prepared to listen to exactly how pleased you are to see me and justify his detention, bad marks, negative House Points and letter home. Please, do tell. Why, I will be entranced to hear how after one of my son’s favourite lessons he was distraught; and positively enthralled to hear how you listened to his side of the story.”

Her mouth dropped open. And I had the pleasant experience of reading her facial expressions as clearly as if I had been holding a book… “Oh s*#% ! I might be in trouble here…”

She began to formulate a weak reply:

Well, your son and S. were…” but then Mr. D. came up behind us, placed one hand on my shoulder and one on my son’s, and leaning forward said with tones of menacing jocularity:

Everything all right here? Good lad, aren’t you?”

I looked her straight in the eye and allowed just the faintest of smiles to curve the corners of my mouth… Miss H. went white. Then red as Mr. D. moved away, then (to my secret horror) her eyes filled with tears that overbalanced and rolled down her cheeks.


“I-I-I’m sorry. It’s been a difficult day, they’re a very challenging class.”

I replied:

Well, let’s move on, shall we? How about History then? So far, my son has really enjoyed your lessons about the English Civil War…”

I was prepared to be gracious and leave it, since she had both apologised and I knew no further action would be taken against my son. Later, at home, I reminded him that the gentlemanly thing to do was to never mention the incident again and needless to say, his reports from her were outstanding, during the rest of his time at that school.

History remains one of his favourite subjects – he went on to do it at A Level – and I’ve never made another teacher cry. But, I won’t stand for injustice, I hate unkindness and you know what they say about assuming… “Never assume. It makes an ASS out of U and ME…”

18297056_1832579253728910_1288599166_oClear Quartz for clarity of thought, aiding the learning process and amplifying the effect of other crysals