A Vision Of My Old Age

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She wandered, this woman, age indistinguishable from the lines on her face. Up, down and along, the breadth and width of the country. Her face was strangely calm, bleached and blanched of the pain of past emotion, past trouble, past life, that had scored their marks indelibly on her skin with a sharp instrument as bitter as words.

Instead, now, she raised her countenance to the kindly sun, let the rain fall upon her eyes, the snow colour her hair and the wind slap her cheeks. At night she slept – never in towns, never on streets where malice and pain lingered, collected in corners like dirty washing up left too long, grey and grimy.

Instead, now, pressed against the earth, curled against a tree, buried by leaves or grass she found her rest.

She wandered, crossing the country, past looking but always searching for a memory. She filled her eyes and mind with sights and sounds to comfort her empty heart. Home; a memory, warmth, light, family, children – curdled like milk left out too long, sour and tainted with expectation. She sometimes took that memory out and carried it, looked at it like an untrustworthy torch, flickering and weak, two small faces raised to hers – “Mummy!”

Then she put it away, put it away in a box at the back of her mind and continued to wander.

She walked north, feet drawn by ancient blood memory and right-feeling, walking away her own family history but unknowingly walking where her ancestors had first come ashore, first lived in sight of the rest of the world.

One early morning, as she lay in the shelter of an old hedgerow she became aware of a fox looking at her, and perhaps stirred by the echo of a family pet, dog or cat, she stretched out a hand to it. It regarded her steadily for a moment, nose working busily to process all the rich human scents and then it turned and slipped away into the undergrowth again.

She sighed, a little saddened, but rose to her feet and raised a calm face to the horizon.

I stoop again to tighten the knot in the rag that’s holding my boot together and walk on, heart beating in time with the rich pulse of the earth.

Dragons and Dreamboats

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I was helping out at the shop a few weeks ago, not at all obsessively rearranging the incense in alphabetical order and dusting the crystals when a man approached the counter. Not an unusual occurrence in itself, admittedly, nor particularly was the conversation that followed.

Hello.”

Hello,” I replied, assuming what I hoped was a pleasant smile of welcome, rather than the grimace of abstracted concentration that I was wearing only moments earlier.

You’re Not Liz,” the man stated.

No, I’m not,” I agreed equably. (That’s my name when I’m at the shop… NotLiz…)

Oh. Where is she?” the man asked, with a faintly pained air.

I generally have two answers to this oft-asked question, a) “Not here” and b) “I don’t know,” both of which are true, and pretty accurate. I decided on b) on this occasion and offered it as kindly as I could to the man, as he seemed both disconcerted and a little upset to see me.

I regarded him – a smallish man, long grey hair in dreadlocks, assorted crystals and pendants hung around his neck.

He looked back at me, still pretty much unimpressed by what he saw looking back at him, a middle-aged woman, duster in hand, face probably smeared liberally with incense dust… He bent to rummage in his back pack and produced a handful of … sticks.

I wanted to show Liz these,” he said.

Ah.” I said. “What nice, um, sticks.”

He looked directly at me then and replied, a little indignantly:

They’re not sticks, they’re wands! From the Glastonbury Thorn!”

That’s nice,” I said appeasingly, “what are you going to do with them?”

The man looked at me as if I had taken leave of my senses and said:

I’m going to make things on them!”

Of course you are,” I said, reassuringly, not wanting to offend him, or sound doubting of his artistic capabilities.

No, look!” he said, and reaching into his hair, pulled out a – dragon and passed it to me to hold. Not a real one, obviously, but one made of clay, beautifully detailed and very true to life – as I would imagine dragons to be.

That’s beautiful!” I exclaimed, impressed, and handed it back to him.

He tucked it away safely in his hair and bestowed a faint smile upon me.

Goodbye.”

Goodbye,” I said, and the man walked away.

Now. I have mentioned Mr.Handsome before, the very nice man I first encountered on the bus with my mother. Well, the other evening, I was walking back up the hill from my mother’s with Alex, and I was trying to describe an acquaintance to Alex, waving my arms excitedly (I actually hit someone the other day) and talking about “Pete’s Dragon”, the film, of course, when who should I behold, striding manfully towards us, accompanied by two little dogs, but Mr.Handsome… just as gorgeous as I remembered, white t-shirt, blue jeans, tall, dark haired – well, you get the idea.

I looked up fleetingly – he gave me a brief, polite smile- and I looked down again, cursing my shyness. Alex beamed happily at him and I thought, “My word, he is handsome!” and decided my best course of action was to style it out, talking meaningfully about dragons and waving my arms. Like a nutter.

And then he passed us. Alex looked at me and asked: “Was that him?”

I said: “Yes…”

Then Alex replied: “Hmm…white t-shirt, blue jeans, well groomed… he was looking at me!”

There… And Back Again!

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Sometimes I long for the closeted private sanctuary of my own car as I travel about. But, then again, I have no confidence in my own ability to focus sufficiently to drive a car – too away with the fairies most of the time.

My abortive attempts at driving were given up after about eight lessons and a near miss… I took a wrong turn down a country lane on a foggy autumn afternoon and my instructor innocently remarked:

It’s a good job no one saw us – they’d think we were up to no good!”

This served to send me into a fit of hysterical giggling as I drove across (literally across) an unexpected roundabout and my endeavour to become a capable driver ended…

On the other hand, I would miss the weirdly prophetic bus tickets we have here – just look at some of the code words used – as good as any deck of Tarot cards! “Write” is the one that appeared when I was feeling particularly low – I took this as Universe encouragement. “Elbow” – when I was troubled by a nagging pain in, yes, my elbow which spurred me on to visit my doctor for a steroid injection which cured it. “Mouse”… I’m still waiting…

Plus the fact you hear such extraordinary snippets of conversation. My favourites from the past week or so – on the same journey, actually – involved a girl, sitting behind me, talking loudly on her mobile to a friend:

“… and I said ‘Really? It counts as one of your five a day? I didn’t even know it was a vegetable!’ She said ‘Well of course potatoes are vegetables! What did you think they were?’”

To which this girl had replied: “Oh I just thought they were these like starchy things that grew in the ground…”

I was quite glad she was sitting behind me actually, so she couldn’t see the look on my face…

The next snippet – an older lady got on the bus with her wheeled walker and noticed a friend seated over the way. They obviously hadn’t seen each other and the friend listened attentively as she ran through her catalogue of ills. Her next statement made me snort with laughter that I quickly had to disguise as a not-terribly convincing cough…

I’m not going back to that care home though! I can’t be doing with it, all that fighting!”

Her friend leaned forward:

Whatever do you mean?”

You can’t get a minute’s peace – they’re always fighting over the darts on the telly and it’s not just the men!”

That sounds dreadful,” her friend replied, clearly shocked.

Oh I know, I can’t get along with it, not when I’m having chemo as well! Ruby knocked Doris down them little steps! I’m going to ask my grand daughter if she can get me moved…”

At this point, somewhat reluctantly, I must confess, I had to get off the bus as it was my stop; but for the rest of the day I was plagued with questions in my head … did the girl get over her surprise about the nature of potatoes, or was she further traumatised when she encountered something like rhubarb… grown like a vegetable but treated like a fruit…? Should I perhaps watch darts to see if I could understand how the game could induce such rage? Was Doris ever revenged upon Ruby for tipping her down the stairs?

Would the care home in question be a possible future residence for my mother…

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!”

And … Sleep!

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The night started reasonably enough, my mind filled with pleasant images of how to look after your roses, and the modern twist on cottage gardens, thanks to the lovely Monty Don and an hour of “Gardener’s World.”

I cleaned my teeth, spilled the cat water, and got into bed, the sheets freshly changed and smelling of lavender, the room pleasantly cool and dark and I dropped off into a peaceful slumber, for all of about three hours…

Then it started.

My partner came to bed, disturbing Charlie who demonstrated her displeasure by vomiting copiously under the bed. So, I got up and cleaned it up, grovelling about on my hands and knees at 3.30a.m. trying not to retch myself as you really don’t want to be dealing with catsick at that time of morning.

Meanwhile, my partner had got himself tucked into bed, wrinkling the sheets on my side and was snoring merrily away. After about half an hour of sighing heavily and thumping my legs about I lost patience and whisper-shouted: “STOP SNORING!!”

Still asleep, he rolled over and there was blissful silence.

Then I got the phantom itches. Have you ever had those? A dreadful, creeping sensation that leaves you convinced that there is some sort of bug in the bed with you… a crawling, that started in my hair, down my ribcage and finished at my left shin, leaving me itchy and so absolutely certain I had a horde of spiderlings in my pyjamas that I had to get out of bed and go to the bathroom to check that my flowery (not glittery) pyjamas were not actually infested with some kind of alien mite.

They weren’t.

Back to bed. My pyjamas then decided to act like a strait jacket, the top wrapping itself uncomfortably tightly around my chest, while the bottoms rolled up in such an engaging and amusing fashion they ended up as tourniquets around the tops of my thighs.

I gave up and got up, just as dawn’s tender fingers were painting the sky delicate shades of blush pink and apricot. Drawn irresistibly outside I sat down in the garden swing, watching the moths conclude the night’s partying chased by bats – “Come back! I didn’t get your number! Are you on NatureBook…?”

Soothed by the scent of petunias and the gentle trickle of the pond waterfall… I fell asleep.

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Laryngitis. What Fun.

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I must apologise for my recent absence – for most of last month a scrubbing brush decided to take up residence in my throat. I know … I seem to have done nothing but whine about being ill lately, but I hate it.

Laryngitis has proved particularly disadvantageous – it’s the first time I’ve ever had it and to be honest, I don’t want it again. Ever. A couple of weeks ago I was helping out at Lizian’s and my voice gave out completely… crystals are the sort of thing you just have to talk about, so I spent most of my time hooting and wheezing and croaking like a demented hybrid of a frog and an owl. Finally I resorted to whispering, leaning forward confidingly to murmur crystal secrets into listening ears… and slightly puzzled faces.

I became a competent mime artist… pointing to relevant parts in the crystal guide books with a broad smile and happy gestures…all the time feeling slightly sick as I consumed yet another variety of antibiotic with chasers of honey and lemon.

I had an annoying ‘phone call with my mother, who is slightly deaf but won’t admit it:

Samantha – what do you want for tea?”

Huw – hee – wah!

What? Stop being stupid! You’ll have to tell me if you want something to eat!”

Eventually I hung up and just texted her.

The dogs thought I was imitating a squeaky toy for their amusement, leaping on me…

The girls, well, they were surprisingly sympathetic… unless they just appreciated my enforced silence…

My doctor – as you might expect, I’ve seen quite a lot of him recently – looked somewhat surprised when I hooted softly into his ear about my scratchy throat and lost vocal ability, but duly diagnosed laryngitis and handed over a prescription for some more antibiotics.

I collected them from the chemist and was somewhat taken aback at the size of them… and the shape.

Currently, my voice is still fading in and out like a badly tuned radio, but I do feel slightly less drained. Bear with me, friends, and I will catch up… unless I get plague in the meantime!