Yuletide Yapping…

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Overheard snippets of conversation provide endless interest and points to ponder… for example, when I was on the bus home the other night, a conversation between two older women, and one younger, the daughter of one…

“’Ave yer got yer trimmin’s oop yet?”

Nahhhh, don’t bovver now it’s just me. Fell aht wi’ mi ‘usband ‘baht two year agoo, ‘e used to come an’ see mi, but then we ‘ad a big bust up, so nah I don’ even see ‘im…”

(Why? Whatever did they fall out about? Why did he still see her?)

Yeah, yer better off by yersen, can do what you want, wear what want, eat what you want…”

At this point the daughter broke in –

Yeah, don’ wan no bleedin bloke tellin’ yer what to do, I ‘ave to do everythin’ by ‘is rules…”

(What? Just suggest a compromise…maybe he thinks he’s being helpful…)

Yeah, mi daugh’er lives at the bottom o’mi road, ‘aven’t seen ‘er for months. Although she did text mi last week to see if I were all right…”

Yeah, don’ wan’ no bleedin’ bloke or tree an’ it jus’ starts too early…”

At this point, I had to get off the bus, but a couple of things stayed with me… the fact that a lot of people seem to spend the festive season alone, perhaps through choice, and the second being that social media can be quite isolating, for all it brings the rest of the world closer…

The festive season also seems to bring bad temper bubbling to the surface… I was in a shop the other day, when an older lady, reasonably politely, asked the woman serving her the price of something else she’d seen in the shop. The cashier replied:

How should I know? I’m only on the tills, love, not the shop floor. I can’t be expected to know prices…”

Reading those words back, they seem innocuous enough, but they were delivered in such an unmannerly way that the customer went bright red and left the shop without saying thank you for her purchases.

The cashier continued:

Honestly, I get sick of people asking me stuff like that and I don’t know why she thought I would know…silly old cow…”

The customer returned – she had just been standing by the door but the cashier still argued… unfortunately then I had to leave. I sincerely hope the customer filed a complaint and at least got an apology. First rule of customer service – make sure they’ve actually GONE before you start bad-mouthing them…

I don’t know what it is, perhaps it does have something to do with the fact that Christmas does seem to begin earlier and earlier each year, but I don’t think that is any excuse for bad manners. Ever. Perhaps the cashier was stressed, or she’d had a bad day, but manners cost nothing, and how difficult would a simple “Sorry I couldn’t help” have been?

We all seem to have become de-sensitised to the true spirit of Christmas… not necessarily just the Christian celebration, but the fact that it is a time for friendship and sharing. Be that as it may, at the risk of sounding like a grumpy 40-something year old woman, manners cost nothing and are free – all year round!

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Abalone And Anthropomorphic Animals…

23998479_161097701302312_1716487419_oAbalone is actually an edible shellfish, a member of the clam family, and while the creature itself can be eaten, its shell has metaphysical benefits too. Its wonderful iridescent shell is said to bring feelings of love, compassion and peace, with a particularly gentle vibration, perhaps because the abalone was once a living creature nurtured by the sea.

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Abalone is soothing and calming, a good focus for meditation as you look into its shimmering spiral, and it also brings physical peace. It can be used to help with arthritis and other joint disorders, as well as helping with muscle, heart and digestion problems.

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A bridge, a little step between worlds and a pause in a time of ever-evolving emotions, Abalone will bring peace and clarity in situations where feelings are volatile.

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Anthropomorphism”… fabulous word… essentially, the action of ascribing human emotions to an animal. In years gone by, people have rubbished the idea that animals could possibly feel emotions, but only now, science is starting to provide proof what your average pet owner has known all along. Of COURSE animals are capable of both feeling and demonstrating emotions, very effectively too.

Studies have been conducted into whales and their family dynamics, which show not only do they have relationships as deep and complex as humans, they feel emotions such as grief just as strongly as we do. I watched a television programme where a mother whale’s grief over the death of her baby affected the whole pod, so achingly apparent it made me cry too…

My father was one of the old school type of vets where animals were regarded as tools to help man, rather than as co-companions on this Earth, but nowadays, vets are generally a lot more… animal-friendly. I definitely do NOT think I am guilty of anthropomorphism when it comes to Charlie…on one of our vet visits, we happened to see a vet we’d seen maybe four months previously, who had deemed the emptying of Charlie’s anal glands necessary…

Oh yes. Charlie clearly remembered and despised this man who had so rudely grabbed her and squeezed her bottom. She folded in on herself, with her tail firmly tucked over her lady places and… glowered…Despite his most seductive cooing, “Oh my, you’re SO beautiful”, my little cat firmly refused to let this man examine the royal backside. He had to settle for prescribing her some tablets “just in case”, eyeing her doubtfully as she continued to make smiling threats…

On the other hand, Charlie is capable of expressing a whole range of emotions from joy to excitement to wonder… Already she is displaying anticipation of the big day…she knows she gets presents and special treats.

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I even inflict Christmas on the budgie…this plastic budgie (as seen in the picture) was my misguided attempt to give Lucky a little company. For days, he huddled on the perch furthest away from the polymer playmate, looking miserable every time I saw him. Then one day I caught him…sharing a tender moment and chattering confidingly to his new friend.

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But what do you buy a dragon for Christmas? My sister’s bearded dragon was definitely interested in Alex… I was quite interested by how the dragon – Frank – actually felt to the touch, sort of like a cold, leathery pastry crust.

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My point is though of course animals have and demonstrate emotions – they have infinite patience and compassion for mankind in sharing their lives and this beautiful planet with us.

When a man has love and respect for all living creatures, only then is he noble.”

Buddha

Doctors And Diatribes…

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Before I start, I MUST emphasise that I am in no way criticising the people who work in our health service, I am just relating my own personal experience for humorous and strictly non-critical purposes only.

As a matter of fact, my mother, grandmother and great-grandmother were all nurses, and I can remember my mother having to go to work in her uniform in the seventies, when I was a little girl, through the picket lines of striking miners. Generally this was discouraged as an unhygienic practice, but during this time the nurses were allowed to wear their uniforms so the miners would let them through.

Basically I broke the family tradition….too squeamish and phobic….but that doesn’t mean to say I haven’t acquired a little bit of working knowledge along the way. I went to my doctor a few weeks ago, at the start of this virus (I am now a lot better, thank you to everyone who enquired.) and although he wasn’t my usual doctor, I have seen him before and he’s pleasant enough.

Hello, what can I do for you today?”

I’m ill…(just thought I’d pop in and ask after the kids…) temperature, productive cough, sore throat, chest pains when I breathe in…”

Oh, there’s a lot of this virus about.”

But I feel awful…(please at least listen to my chest…) I definitely don’t have a chest infection?”

I wasn’t doubting him or his skills at all, I suppose I just wanted a little doctorly reassurance.

No, no, no infection, but did you know the painkillers you take have been linked to dementia?”

We looked at each other, across his desk. He straightened his pen so it was in line with the computer keyboard.

Oh…(actually I wish I’d stayed at home…) these drug companies..they’re always wise after the event…like Thalidomide…” I offered as my conversational contribution.

Yes! Yes,” he exclaimed eagerly, leaning forwards, “so, really, all these drugs have bad long term side effects.”

I considered this.

So…you can’t give me anything really, I know antibiotics don’t help…(or is this just another governmental conspiracy to depopulate the country…)”

No. How did your self-referral to physiotherapy go?”

We had a nice chat, but I didn’t really want to be pulled around.”

(I have a horror of physical contact when I am in pain, making me, as I am sure you will agree, an ideal patient…)

The doctor considered this.

Shall I give you another form so you can self-refer to -”

No. No. Thank you…thyme oil is a very good natural anti-inflammatory and sage and thyme tea helps to shift these viruses…”

He looked interested, but I left, thanking him for his time and feeling vaguely frustrated and saddened by how our small doctor practices are having to cut costs, become more of a business, than the traditional family doctor of years ago.

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It’s becoming more difficult to get an appointment for a GP and this has a knock-on effect to our hospitals who are already facing unbearable pressure. This is expected to increase during the winter months and to be honest, it’s frightening.

In this particular instance, I knew that I was essentially all right, but what about the pensioner with the persistent cough who “doesn’t want to bother the doctor”, or the desperate mother of a three week old baby with breathing difficulties? The future looks bleak as regards our NHS – there simply isn’t enough money to fund what we need, let alone make improvements.

People give me funny looks when I mention my herbal remedies… but they have been proven to have more than just a palliative effect. Spread the word…thyme and sage really do help reduce the effects of these coughs and colds that circulate with such malicious glee at this time of year. Ginger is good too.

Have some in the cupboard, just in case, and make a tea from them… trust me, I might not be a doctor, but there are some wonderful blogs about herbal healing, returning to the old ways to fight 21st century ill health…or ask Google.

In the meantime… excuse me while I check on my mouldy bread…!

The Show Must Go On

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He closed the door of the flat behind him, pulling it gently to for the last time until he felt the lock click. He sighed, as he closed the door on years of memories too. The love and the pleasure, the happiness of learning one another, the likes and dislikes, the simple joy of finding that other person that made his half whole.

He took a step away from the door, and looked up into the sky, dark and lowering with the threat of rain and the colour of an old bruise. He shifted his backpack so it sat more comfortably on his aching shoulders and hefted his case down the steps, stopping one last time to look up at the window, the window into his past, his happy memories of love and closeness and belonging.

The grey, faded curtains remained resolutely closed, closed like an unreasoning mind, shut to explanation, not at home to trust.

He started to walk away, and, as he did, a light rain began to fall, bringing with it echoes of accusations and questions, the tears, the tantrums. His heart pained and his soul weighed him down, failed expectations biting at his heels like the mad dog of despair.

Ahead, a solitary ray of sunshine made a gleaming appearance through the clouds, coyly peeping at his destination. The theatre.

With every step, the sky brightened and the clouds receded. His heart lifted, as did his step. By the time he reached the stage door, the early evening had warmed and dried.

The backstage scents of body, costumes, old makeup welcomed him. He opened his dressing room door, the door to his future and switched on the light.

Sitting at his mirror, he carefully applied meticulous layer after layer of foundation, blusher, contour, eyeshadow, then outlining a pair of lusciously generous lips, filled in with rich opulent purple. He glued outrageously false eyelashes and with every layer, every sparkle, every glittering false nail his heart healed.

Finally, he stepped into the crimson crushed velvet gown and checked its fall around his hips and stockinged legs, leaning towards the mirror to fluff creamy blonde curls around his sculpted cheekbones.

Drawing one last sigh, casting aside his cares with a flick of his gown, he stepped out. Out onto the stage and struck a pose.

House lights down – stage lights up and –

Hello-oo Dahlings!”

Princess Charlotte And The Smelly Red Not-A-Dog

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A picture of a picture…foxes are reluctant to pose… 

It was a crisp, early Autumn morning, the sort that I can tolerate without too much complaining since the sun was already shining comfortably, the sky was bright blue and the fallen leaves from the apple tree were crunchy underfoot rather than soggy.

Even though I no longer smoke, I still like to take an early morning saunter around the garden to check on the progress of the various plants and restrain myself from pulling the occasional one up to see if it’s growing.

Generally, one or more of the cats accompanies me on these little excursions and on this particular morning, Charlie chose to bless me with her presence. We stopped to comment on the progress of the tissue plant – I think it’s actually called a Rose of Sharon, don’t know who she is… but the flowers are a beautiful shade of pink and set against the silvery green leaves look like crumpled balls of delicate tissue.

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It’s not Sharon’s… it’s mine… 

We turned the corner into the main body of the garden and Charlie instantly stiffened in alarm and went tinsel-tailed… an intruder! But… but… what an intruder! I am aware that our garden is a cut-through for foxes, right at the very bottom where the pond is, and I think they like to stop by for a drink of water. We leave shallow dishes out for the cats and hedgehogs, but today’s visitor had been caught red-pawed…

He was only a young fox, as he didn’t quite have the bulk and splendour of some of our other visitors, and he seemed as surprised to see us as we were to see him. He froze, one slender paw raised, Charlie, unconsciously mirroring the pose, then as the breeze changed direction she must have smelt him… Her face was a picture. She pulled her lips back in the “Oh-my-God” face – more correctly known as the Flehmen reaction and looked at me as if to say:

I have never smelled a dog so disgusting it can’t even be a dog! How can he smell that bad and still be alive?!?”

The fox, perhaps sensing Charlie’s distaste at his overwhelming body odour slowly lowered his paw to the ground and began moving stealthily towards the gap in the hedge. He cast a shame-faced look at Charlie –

I know someone as beautiful as you would never give me a chance…”

And made a break for the gap. The wrong gap. He got stuck. Just his furry bum and brush sticking out of the hedge.

This impudence was too much for Charlie to bear and she shot forwards to deliver a series of well-placed slaps to the poor fox’s bristly behind.

A frantic rustling from the depths of the hedge – then seconds later I was relieved to see the fox hot-footing it across the park… Lucky the colour of his fur hid his blushes…

Charlie looked up at me:

Honestly! Give them an inch and they take a mile…” and walked off to clean her contaminated paw.

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“How very dare he!!”

Hope

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Thank you Alex for the use of your lovely photo

It was cold. So very cold. The bitter, biting dry cold where the sky was icy bright blue and the very air sang and sparkled with ice crystals.

The little one waited, huddled in the scant shelter of a dark hedge.

The cold was intense, so cold it made your teeth ache and your bones snap. And still the little one waited.

Night came. Someone was near, watching and sad, filled with worry for the little one who waited but whose spark was now very frail. Hope was nearly gone, abandoned before Life was even really started.

The Watcher could bear it no more and stepped down, down from the dark, down in the singing cold as the stars spun in their icy waltz, down in the bleak night to appear before the little one.

She scooped her up, gently, feeling the little life left in its delicate shell and cupped in her hands, and breathed warmth and life into the little one.

Not very far away, a woman lay, sleepless in the dark and the cold, sleepless in the night while tears froze on her cheeks, warm in her bed but cold in her life. Suddenly she thrust back her duvet and thought she would look out into the calm dark, see if it would ease her pain.

She slipped on her dressing gown and went downstairs to open her door into the night, and there on the step lay a little scrap, a tiny thing.

The kitten looked up at the woman and meowed, faintly, hopefully. She bent down to pick her up, and as the little one purred so the frost in her heart began to thaw.

The Watcher returned to her place and told Him what she had done. He smiled and was pleased for although some may be lost there is always Hope.

Rhodonite And Wrongdoing…

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This wonderfully gentle pink and black crystal also happens to be one of the alternative birthstones for July, and perhaps one that I should spend more time with as it encourages the growth of love without judgement and teaches you emotional balance.

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Rhodonite can also help to soothe emotional shock and calm panic, clearing the heart chakra and giving it positive stimulation. It is supportive and kind, healing wounds from past emotional abuse and helping to dissolve lingering resentment. Being pink, it is linked to the heart chakra and has a strong connection with forgiveness.

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It encourages emotional clarity easing forgiveness if you feel you have been wronged and showing that although you may never forget, for the sake of your own emotional health you must forgive and move on… Think of Rhodonite as the elasticated bandage of the crystal world, supporting you, whilst allowing you to heal.

It is a sad fact of Life that while there are people, there will be wrongdoing, misdeeds and downright badness. I’m no angel – far from it, as I would be the first to admit I can be hideously bad tempered, highly strung and I get VERY overwrought, but I do my best to avoid wrongdoing. Karma has a way of paying you back…

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Charlie hiding under the bed for a spot of over-grooming – definitely wrongdoing!!

I snapped at my mother the other evening and we didn’t part on the best of terms. I stomped off to the bus stop, fussing and fuming with rage. Half an hour later, I was still waiting for the bus… I was freezing, it was raining, and I used the time constructively to reflect upon my needless wrongdoing and appreciating the irony of my situation as my feet squelched and nose dripped…

A humorous incident to illustrate my point, but sometimes, hard though it is, you have to forgive others and move on for your own sake.

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In comparison, a Siamese Sparkle Fur, looking positively angelic…!