Sad Cats And Mournful Mummys…

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“Perhaps if I just wait a little longer… “

Well, that’s it. Another Easter holiday over – Alex was back from university and it was wonderful to see him and have him home, although the time passed too quickly. I saw him off at the train station, doing my best to choke back tears… ( I do cry a lot anyway… even adverts can set me off…) and returned home to a row of accusing faces.

Ting and Charlie had actually started running towards me, but when they saw I was by myself, they stopped. Abruptly.

Oh. He’s gone again… might just go and check this corner of the garden – just in case…”

Ting is particularly persistent in her search for Alex, looking in completely ridiculous places that he wouldn’t even hide in if he were here – like behind the rubbish bin… in my handbag… the laundry basket… behind the books on the shelves… and all the time she will maintain a constant chat:

Oh – not under here…wahhh! So sad… perhaps here? Naa-oohhh! Where’s he gone, Mummy?!”

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Sad sunshine Siamese… 

Charlie reclaims Alex’s empty bedroom as her throne room and gradually the cats come to accept that he really won’t be back for a while. And Lily starts bringing the mice in again….

Uh-oh the sensible one’s gone off – better start providing for the older couple, they just don’t have a clue…”

Motherhood is a funny old thing. To be honest, I never expected to be a mother and I hated being pregnant… what is it about the pregnancy bulge that gives random strangers leave to come up and lay their hands on you?! But once your children are out in the world, it’s a constant worry… an ache… like prodding a gap in your mouth where a tooth used to be with your tongue.

Before Alex left, we were waiting at the bus stop to catch the bus into town for his train when a young woman we both knew who had recently had another baby, the older child now being about three, stopped to chat.

We talked about our respective children’s doing, an older lady overhearing and joining in the conversation – her son was in his last year at university – and we all shared that one common thing. Just how much we will and do miss our children when they have to go away, and I felt a lovely moment of unity, joined with these other mothers, proud of our children, missing them, yet supporting them all the way.

In conclusion then, on behalf of mothers everywhere (and their sad cats) I would like to end on an extremely relevant message…

Will you PLEASE remember to text me when you get there so I know you’re all right!”

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“Do you have an appointment?”

Geodes And Jaws…

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I always think that the opening of a geode must be like biting into an expensive truffle… relatively uninteresting to look at from the outside, but when you bite into it what treasures are revealed… soft chocolate ganache, creamy whipped mousse – I did actually have some truffles that I totally intended to photograph for the purposes of this post… but I ate them. Sorry. You’ll just have to imagine…

Anyway, once you’ve cracked the outer shell there are wonders to behold: the diamond sparkle of white quartz, the berry richness of amethyst, the sunny warmth of citrine.

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Geodes are extremely useful and indeed have their own place in crystal therapy, as well as just being really nice to have around the home. They bring protection and help positive energy flow freely through the work or living space.

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As a centre piece in a communal area, they encourage positive communication and growth, both spiritually and mentally. Of course you also receive the healing qualities of the crystals within the geode.

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The magical crystal cave interior holds energy and amplifies it, releasing fresh new life to your surroundings. You can also place smaller crystals within the geode to cleanse and charge them. They can help with decision making and are often felt to have a symbolic female energy, the whole thing being equated with a womb, giver of Life.

The Fire Service use a tool called the Jaws of Life, a giant wrench-like thing designed to crunch off the roofs of cars and release people trapped within. A German Shepherd’s jaws can exert 238 pounds of pressure per square inch when they bite. Luckily I have never been properly bitten by any of my mother’s dogs, very lucky really, considering their jaws are crammed with sharp bitey teeth the way a geode is with sparkly crystals…

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Rocky was sitting next to/on me the other evening at my mother’s, tenderly resting his head on my bosom and blowing encouraging snorts down the gap in my jumper, when I felt him, very gently, manoeuvre the crystal pendants I was wearing into his jaws and just press them, experimentally, between his teeth a few times. It just made me laugh because he was using his powerful jaws so daintily and sneakily…

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Ting is funny. When playing, she will open her mouth wide and wave her jaws threateningly in play.

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Lily’s jaws are a wonder, perfectly capable of murdering mice and butchering birds, yet most times she will carry them gently indoors for me to find…

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The underneath of Charlie’s jaw is soft..sweet-smelling… sometimes I am allowed to tickle her under her chin so I grab a few bonus kisses too.

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And here’s Alex, placing his head between the jaws of a hippo’s skull, last year before he went to university and we were visiting a local stately home.

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Oh go on…it’ll be a funny picture!”

Good-naturedly he complied for the sake of keeping his mother happy…

And on that note – Happy Mother’s Day to all of you who celebrate it today, fur parents and child parents alike. Love always, to all of you.

Child

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My heart is filled with ghosts
Of the times when you
Were little,

The games we played
Adventures made
The life we shared together.

Now you are grown
And on your way
The time for me has passed.

Laughter and footsteps
Echo
In the chambers of my heart.

It is
As it should be.
And the days go by
Till I go home at last.

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Small Boy… Large Puddle

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This happened a good few years ago… more than I care to remember really. Suffice it to say, my oldest son was about two years old.

We are fortunate to live near a large country park which is a favoured spot for dog walkers and has been the scene of quite a few adventures for me…

The park has undergone a few alterations, including the installation of a BMX stunt track; but on the whole it remains a palatable chunk of green space in my otherwise urban surroundings.

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There are treasures to be found… cobnuts and blackberries, wild raspberries, hawthorn, hops and fungi. One year, we had an invasion of giant puffball mushrooms, like perfectly round alien eggs laid at regular intervals amongst the dewy hillocks and tufted grass. Apparently, you can slice them and fry them in butter like steaks… wouldn’t know, never tried… don’t like mushrooms…

There is a wonderful woodland walk where you can hear and sometimes see jays, and at the top of the hill, there are flat, broad fields with great swathes of unmown grass, left specifically for the insect life.

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Mini beasts… beetles and butterflies gather, and because of the heavy clay soil, water gathers, creating miniature lakes. It’s quite boggy land anyway, so the standing water doesn’t often drain away or dry up, resulting in large puddles.

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The dogs love this walk… Mum had her two dogs, Rosie and Rebel, while I had my little dog and eldest child safely strapped into his pushchair. He was wearing his brand new Wellington boots. His shiny red Wellington boots of which he was very proud… what kid doesn’t love Wellington boots…

My mother thought she would up the fun gear a little and said:

Oh, let him walk a bit! He can try his new boots out!”

Child duly released from pushchair, my mother exclaimed:

Ooh LOOK! Go and run in that big puddle!” which lay, balefully gleaming, like a giant’s eye…

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My son took a moment to smile at me in childish excitement then ran …. full tilt … into the puddle.

The next sequence of actions remain, even to this day, indelibly etched in slow motion in my memory … I reached out my arms and roared;

N-O-O-O….”

as my son fell flat on his face. He lifted his head and opened his mouth, ready to start bellowing in outrage …

A tiny tidal wave of muddy puddle water rose up and slapped him in the mouth… my mother rushed forwards and attempted to haul my son out of the puddle, helped/hindered by the three dogs dancing excitedly around the edges of the liitle lake…

Yes! Small human has right idea! Let’s swim and get muddy!”

I laughed.

My son’s clothes were drenched. I had to take my jumper off and hold it out for my mother to insert my screaming child into…

Here we are! A baby in a bag!”

she said, attempting to distract my son …

Well. That finished me off. We walked home, me, snorting and staggering, choking and weeping with laughter, my son retreating into sleep, a tide mark of mud staining his cheeks as a reminder of the afternoon’s adventure…

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Reindeer and Revelry…

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I follow a number of wonderful craft blogs … I fiddle about with various “makes” but I haven’t yet tried my hand at card making …

My lovely friend, Gillian of Paperpuff ( or Fluffyfrippychicken as I sometimes like to call her…) has made some beautiful cards in preparation for Christmas – please go and have a look – using a reindeer motif that has stayed in my mind.

In the city where I live, there is a stately home that has a deer park attached. It was established quite early on in the house’s life and has a thriving population of both fallow and roe deer. A fond memory for me is when I first took my oldest son to visit this park and I said to him:

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Look! Look! Can you tell Mummy what sort of animals those are?” I smiled expectantly at him …

His face lit up and with an excited intake of breath he shouted:

KANGAROOS!”

My vision of him following in his grandfather’s footsteps as a veterinary surgeon died a sudden death…

My younger son, while still at school, was involved in a cookery programme to promote venison, with a celebrity chef. My now-vegetarian son saw the deer from whole creature to finished meal, which he cooked himself and I was lucky enough to eat. It was very nice too. And that, really, is the extent of my acquaintance with deer …

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Now. Reindeer. Everybody knows reindeer as they draw Father Christmas’ sleigh and are immortalised in countless decorations and appear on innumerable cards to signal the beginning of the festive season. Perhaps a minor point… reindeer are the smaller, stockier sort of creature, while deer, usually the stag, are the taller, elegant type generally pictured with a full set of antlers and a reddish-brown colour in real life.

I mention this as I had a “discussion” with a sales assistant when I required an example of the first creature and was in fact handed a representative of the second species when perusing the selection of Christmas ornaments … (as it turned out, I bought neither – instead I bought four pearl beaded stars, one for each of my girls…)

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Point being, along with the robin, the deer (of whatever background) is traditionally associated with Christmas and the ensuing revelries… I used to enjoy a drink. Quite a lot of drinks really, and I was never one to shy away from… er … excessive consumption. In recent years, it no longer holds much appeal for me, and to be honest, I’d rather have a nice cup of tea.

This year, my younger son will be joining the throng of revellers with my words of warning ringing in his ears…

Don’t mix your drinks! Don’t leave your drink unattended! Be aware of how many units you consume!”

But, to be fair, he and his friends approach the serious business of social drinking with sense and far more awareness than we ever did…

So. Go ahead. Have fun. Have a drink. Or even two. But always be careful. NEVER drink alcohol and drive.

Have fun though … I’ll just sit here with a nice cup of Yorkshire tea … the paracetamol and Alka Seltzer are in the cupboard… just in case!

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‘You’ll be a Man, my son!” – Thank you Mr. R. Kipling for your exceedingly good poem…

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I miss my little boy. Not my son. He’s right here with me now. I mean I miss the little boy he was, the three year old who would sleep beside me in my bed, curled against my back after a bad dream, little feet on the backs of my knees. I miss his soft little boy hands, holding mine trustingly as we cross roads. His innocent joy and wonder at the world around him, the serious conversations he would have with my mother’s dog, the special smile as my cat came to him for strokes. Choosing what he would wear for morning and helping him put it on, showing him how zips, buttons and those monsters of difficulty, socks, work.

I miss the days of “Mummy will make it better” – I could then, there were simpler problems with easier solutions. Explaining division in Maths:

Look, here’s ten sweets… make sure you and Mummy have the same number of sweets each.” The pleasure in your face as you realised you could do this. For ever answering the question ‘Why?’ and not minding as I saw in your eyes the cogs turning, paths and connections forming, thought processes linking as you devised your own ideas and views.

Proud that I can learn from you, not just how to handle 21st century technology, but your philosophies on life and proud that I have a viewing window as I see your adult character develop. I hope I have been a good mother. I hope that I gave you some good ideas and morals that will see you as a confident citizen of the world in the 21st century. You have your own friends and mentors now, good people, honourable people; you have learned emotional intelligence and moral confidence, to be your own man and make your own place in the world.

My son, who is now an almost-man, getting ready to leave my home, but not my mother-love. I am sad, but it is as it should it be and I will see you on your way with a smile and a kiss, knowing that you remain a child of my heart while you walk your own path. 

IMG_6948This is Gino Baboo, my son’s favourite toy since he was three years old… showing signs of wear and tear but ready to go at a moment’s notice…

Kindness

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I don’t do unkindness. Not now. Not anymore. There was too much of it in my earlier life and I reached a point where I felt ill with it… like eating too many greasy chips. I thought I would hate to make anyone else feel as I did and had a quick prod of the old emotions – as you do – to see what I could do to feel better.

Kindness. I am not speaking about dancing around scattering glitter and flowers, and letting people liberties with you. Just little things. Like the opening of a door for someone; a pleasant smile and a ‘thank you’ can make all the difference to a day and make you feel that it is all worthwhile.

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Un-kindness is unnecessary and very rarely justified. I saw something that made me so sad the other day as I was dusting in my son’s bedroom. I had the window open, and we overlook a park. A little boy, only about three, was walking with his mother who was on her phone and pushing a pushchair. He had some sweets, but dropped them and started to cry. Instead of comforting him, or saying:

Never mind, we’ll get you some more,” the woman cuffed him across the top of his head and shouted:

Now look what you’ve done, you little tw**! Well that’s it, you’re not getting any more!”

What was the point of that? How cruel and unkind a response to an unfortunate accident. The little boy wanted his sweets, he didn’t throw them away in temper, he wasn’t misbehaving. As I watched from the bedroom window, the mother seized the little boy and dragged him away, still sobbing miserably.

What did the child learn from that? That his earliest disappointments in life will come from his mother? Not a lesson I would ever want my sons to learn. That it’s all right to hit out in temper at someone who’s already upset? Or hey, life’s a bitch and inevitably something worse will happen when you’re already hurting?

Really, it wouldn’t have taken much just to comfort the little boy, or even say:

“Well, we can’t go back to the shop now, let’s go home and watch television and you can have some more sweets tomorrow.”

IMG_6447 (2).JPGA pink rose, traditionally associated with kindness, love and gentleness

The ‘un’ kindness of the whole incident struck me as sad and unnecessary. However, I’m not judging the mother, perhaps she had a bad day… but there is always room for kindness, and a grateful smile from her little boy could have been her reward if the whole scenario had played out differently.

So. As I said previously, there’s no need to be unrealistic about the kindness you bring to the world, just think about what you do. You’ll feel better in yourself and you will have a better response from the people you meet. And, here’s a thought, be kind to yourself too. Give yourself a break.

(Thank you to Iman Refaat of Perceptions for inspiring this post and making me think about kindness. She’s a lovely person, check out her blog for inspiration, positivity and encouragement.) 

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All featured crystals are examples of Rose Quartz, my favourite crystal. It is linked to the heart chakra and helps to promote love, compassion and empathy.

Moss Agate and Motherhood

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There’s some inexplicable comfort in knowing your Mum will do something, like ironing or cooking, for you. Just because she’s your Mum.”

These lovely words were left as part of a comment on one of my earlier posts, and they set me to thinking about the nature of motherhood. I, myself, am mother to two boys-nearly men at 16 and 21-and four feline daughters. Not quite sure what the budgie regards me as – housekeeper perhaps? In a way, my job is nearly done as far as my sons are concerned. I have raised them as best I know how to be decent human beings, fit to be inhabitants of this world in the 21st century. They are both capable nearly-men and yet I know they will remain bound to me by the ties of mother-love, not just the dutiful ‘phone call or email, but by the memories of things past…

Teaching them how to tie their shoelaces and getting frustrated because I couldn’t do it…Laughing uncontrollably as my older son fell in a puddle when he was about 2, and it turned out to be deeper than he thought; marvelling at my younger son’s manipulation of the English language to make it express what he wanted, “cutting nose” for “beak” – isn’t that great?! My mother sneered as I carefully sliced my older son’s tomato and cut my younger’s into quarters the way they prefer – yet she made sure I didn’t have too many chips and that the peas didn’t touch the tomato sauce.

Motherhood is a continuous process of give and take. I delight in learning something I didn’t know from my children and I appreciate it when they pass me things from shelves I can’t reach; the same way my older son appreciates my re-stocking of his toiletries, unasked, or my younger, the carefully prepared vegetarian packed lunch he takes to college every day.

Likewise with animals. The love between an animal and its owner is like that between a parent and child. My cats are my little girls and as such I make sure they have everything they need since they depend on me and I am responsible for every aspect of their well-being. This obviously ranges from fresh food and water to trips to the vet for boosters and worming tablets. In return, my cats love me. At least I think they do…

I draw love and comfort from them and reassurance. Yet they are all individuals, requiring different aspects of love from me. When Charlie is scared, it’s me she wants, not Daddy. When she’s tired, it’s my knee she wants to sit on so she can knead my jumper, purring herself a lullaby. They’re all Mummy’s girls really.

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Trying to go out shopping is difficult as I am generally accompanied by two or three cats running along beside me:

Hey wait! We can help! We checked price comparison websites for you!”

So I have to go back, make sure they understand cats really can’t go shopping and as I round the corner of the road I can hear Ting’s siren wails:

Naaaoooohhh! Don’t goooooo! Pleeeaase!”

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I ring my partner when I get off the bus to come home and generally two or three of the girls will come running to meet me:

You’re back! I thought you were never coming home!”

One day, all four came running to meet me and a little boy riding past on his scooter said wonderingly:

Look at all those cats!”

Another time, I counted three black cats, a Siamese and a tabby running towards me…an extra stray black cat caught up in the joy of the moment!

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Moss 5Just the two black cats, Lily and Tooty…

As I write, I have Moss Agate in my pocket: not unsurprisingly, this stone is strongly connected to Mother Nature, and is said to be useful to midwives, decreasing pain and ensuring a good delivery. A typical interpretation of this stone is that it can refresh the soul and help you see the beauty in everything, reducing sensitivity to the weather and environmental pollutants. It is another stone of abundance and can help people access and channel intuitive energy. Moss Agate can help with self esteem issues and strengthen beneficial personality traits. It’s a happy stone promoting new beginnings and as such is useful for those who work both in agriculture and midwifery, linking back to Mother Nature and her endless cycle of death and rebirth.

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I have two pieces, a pale greenish grey one with patches of white. When my son gave me this piece, the Bering Sea entered my mind, the cold grey waves topped with crests of white, another example of Nature’s inexorability. My other piece is greener, with threads of white and dark green running through it like vines. Amazon rainforest, lungs of the Earth. I generally use these pieces as I write as Moss Agate is a creative stone, promoting self-expression and communication, another little conduit to Mother Nature and the Earth.

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I draw inspiration from my cats, another reward of being their mother. My younger son, when he was little, once referred to me as “she” without explaining who he meant. The person to whom he was speaking delivered this statement, meant as a rebuke:

She? She’s the cat’s mother!”

To which I proudly replied:

Yes. Yes I am…”