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.

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Well that’s not Cricket!

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Yep. I know it’s not a cricket but I spent ages looking for one, couldn’t find one, got bored, sat down and then this obliging little chap hopped on my knee!

Alex and I went to visit my sister – this was a few months ago now – but while we were in the kitchen talking, I gradually became aware of a noise … faint, but distinct and very persistent. I thought perhaps her fan oven was making a weird noise, or she’d set an alarm and left it on somewhere upstairs, forgetting to turn it off.

Eventually, I could ignore it no longer – “What is that noise? I asked, irritated by her seeming acceptance of it.

Lisa – my sister – looked somewhat resigned and replied: “It’s a cricket.” In answer to our puzzled faces she went on to explain: “I bought a box of live crickets to feed David’s bearded dragon and one escaped. And now it’s living behind the cooker.”

I couldn’t help myself … I burst out laughing. The cricket joined in, merrily chirping away from its new abode.

Alex asked: “But what does it eat?”

Still snorting with laughter I said: “It’s probably eating all the dogfood and growing to massive proportions, snugly tucked behind your oven!”

Lisa paled somewhat, clearly not relishing the thought of Cricket-zilla squatting in her kitchen … coming out with the dogs… sitting for its dinner…

Right! That’s it! I’m evicting it tonight!”

We took our leave, I cheerfully reminded her to message me to let me know what transpired at Cricket-gate… Later that night I received an irate text saying: “Can’t get the bloody thing. Now it won’t let me concentrate, just keeps chirping all the time!”

I replied saying she should think of it as her very own brand of ambient music, some people pay good money for recordings of things like whale music…cricket song… I heard nothing else for the rest of the evening, and indeed the rest of the week. Most unlike my sister.

Meanwhile, the cricket chose to accompany Lisa with some choice pieces of background music in whatever she was doing until one day she decided shereallycouldn’tstanditanymore

Now. My sister is only small, and had at the time broken her toe, having fallen up a step; yet with irritation levels threatening to overflow she managed to haul her fridge/freezer halfway across the kitchen floor to make enough space to pull the cooker over a bit so she could crawl behind it to catch the cricket. Suitably armed with a plant pot the battle began … they raged back and forth in the limited amount of space behind the cooker until in a last ditch heroic effort my sister launched herself across the floor and rugby tackled the cricket, trapping it firmly beneath the plant pot.

She lay, for a little while, catching her breath while the cricket chirped away in the pot, perhaps pleading for mercy… But no. Lisa got to her feet, clutching the captive cricket and took it outside to the very top of the garden where she left it sitting miserably inside the plant pot.

Back indoors, she made herself a well-earned cup of tea and sat down to do a little relaxing sewing. What was missing… ? The silence was, well, deafening. I remarked upon it myself, the next time I saw her.

Well, I don’t miss the bloody thing!” she stated defiantly.

Then one night, later on that week, she went to the kitchen door to let the dogs back in:

Ee-ee ee-ee ee-ee!!”

She looked down.

And there, at her feet, on the step, sat the cricket!

My Mother … And Me.

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I was waiting for a bus with my mother after we’d been shopping and it was at that time of day when the older generation are out and about. Now. My mother is obviously a pensioner and, as such, has some of the obligatory traits – spontaneous deafness, an unerring ability to stand right in the way and a bat-like sonar system that allows her to smash her shopping trolley into my shins – I’m sure you get the picture.

However, she has always had and manages to retain an ability to flirt charmingly with the opposite sex. By her side, I feel somewhat of a galumphing idiot, in my younger days notable only to men for my ability to drink most of them under the table and my astonishing breadth and knowledge of swear words…oh the benefits of a private education…

Needless to say I am not a flirt. I have never mastered the art of blushing delicately and peeping coyly upwards through my eyelashes, fingers fluttering at my throat… Nah. I’m far more likely to sneeze and fall over.

This particular day, as we were walking towards the bus stop, my mother and I both happened to notice a smartly dressed man, dark hair, beard (just my type) talking on his mobile. As we passed him, he lifted his head from the screen, breathed in ostentatiously and said: “Ladies – somebody smells nice!”

We both turned to look – oh yes, he was even nicer close up – and my mother blushed prettily. I highly doubted it was me since I was lightly scented with my usual blend of cat food and bleach, perhaps with overtones of patchouli essential oil from where I had knocked the diffuser over and tried to mop it up with a sock that I was wearing.

Looking up at this man, head fetchingly on one side, my mother said: “Oh it’ll be me! ‘White Diamonds’,” giving him one of her dazzling smiles.

Oh, I’ll remember that!” he replied and walked on, with a smile of his own.

My mother grinned to herself, serene in the knowledge that she still had “it” while I inelegantly hauled her shopping trolley onto the bus, managing to tread on my own foot in the process. The man (of course) got on the same bus as us and winked at Mum as he sauntered down the bus to a seat, while I was attempting to stuff a frozen pizza in a shopping bag and swearing as the cat treats emptied themselves with malice aforethought into my handbag…

The man settled himself into a seat just in my eyeline and the bus set off – the journey itself is worthy of a separate post – and when we reached her stop, Mum got off in a ladylike fashion as the man waved at her…

Oh well. Clutching my cat food, pizzas and a packet of lily of the valley bulbs that had burst and was shedding its powdery compost gently over me, I lurched out of my seat and stumbled off the bus, only to sneeze and fall over…

Apology:

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Right. Have you stopped messing about?

Yes. I think so.

Are you going to write again, properly, and just get over yourself?

Well… I’ll try.

Good. Apologise to your friends and readers for messing them about and get on.

Sorry. Sorry everybody. It’s been – difficult. But I think I’m back now.

Only in Nottingham

I have a love/hate relationship with the city where I live. It holds some particularly unpleasant memories for me, but also some reasonable ones. I am always pleased to go somewhere else, but if I’m away too long, I start to get anxious.

Home” for me is definitely the North, where I’m from, where I lived when I was younger, where my ancestors are from, where my great (x4) grandfather, Michael Pallister was born in 1664 and married Isabel in 1712.

But Nottingham is where I live. It’s a funny place, and the people are… unique. I witnessed some examples personally a few weeks ago as it was Alex’s father’s birthday and he wanted to go out for dinner and then have a “few beers” afterwards.

I didn’t much fancy going out to be honest, I had my usual spring chest infection and was on antibiotics, so I couldn’t really “drink”, but Alex and his boyfriend came over and I really felt I ought to make the effort.

Dinner was pleasant, “Son Of Steak”, does a nice meal at a reasonable price, although I find the name oddly disquieting, as I do the large, blue painted cow outside. I managed to drop a chip, obligingly covered in tomato sauce, all the way down myself and onto my clean linen trousers, where it mashed itself against my thigh so it looked as if I had been stabbed there…

Then we moved on to pubs. Usually I drink vodka, but obviously being on antibiotics it’s not advisable to consume alcohol – you can vomit and I am extremely emetophobic – and arachnophobic – worst nightmare, being trapped in a room full of vomiting spiders… but I thought I would have a white wine spritzer just to be companionable and make things bearable.

The first pub (not my choice) was, bizarrely, playing Motown music and inhabited by blonde women dressed in Seventies style, complete with Farrah Fawcett hairdos. Alex and his boyfriend were soon bopping away on the dancefloor to Stevie Wonder, his father was haranguing me about Brexit (and drinking my spritzer as well as his beer) while I gazed morosely at the crowd of revellers and coughed.

Next pub (also not my choice) was packed full of hipsters. I didn’t realise they were quite so much ‘a thing’ till I had this opportunity to observe them in their natural environment… pushing past the beards, egos and eco-friendly outfits I crawled onto an absurdly high barstool at an uninhabited table and coughed a bit…

Alex’s father harangued me about Brexit… Alex and his boyfriend discussed the merits of the tonic water flavour they had chosen, cucumber versus elderflower (really? Bleuchh -) and I gazed absently out of the window. Several groups of people passed, dressed variously in neon lycra camouflage, tutus and deely boppers, and comic animal costumes…

I watched as one girl dropped something out of her handbag, then deliberately turned it upside down and emptied the entire contents of it out onto the floor. Then she lay down on top of them.

Right outside the window where I was sitting, an elderly man wearing a child’s stetson, took a cucumber from his pocket and shot a lad who was walking past him. The lad obligingly staggered backwards, clutching his chest, before carrying on with his mates.

After a couple more pubs (none of which were my choice) we caught the last bus home (my choice) and I was finally able to retire to my bed, surrounded by cats, crystals and butterflies, reflecting on the oddity of where I live.

Downstairs, I could hear Theresa May’s voice pleading, while Alex’s father ate toast.

 

Buddleia And Butterflies

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When I was a little girl, my grandparents had the most wonderful buddleia bush in their garden – a truly magical place for me to visit and explore , and populate with my imagination, aided of course by a feline friend.

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I can remember sitting beneath the buddleia’s silvery arching branches and looking up into the natural architecture of the tree, an intricate fretwork and interlacing of branches reaching upwards, an arboreal cathedral.

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The flowers! Sumptuous, heavy-headed spikes of tiny purple flowers, overflowing with intoxicating fragrance; the scent irresistibly drawing crowds of various butterflies and bees to feast like gluttonous courtiers at Henry VIII’s table.

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I remember my grandmother carefully deadheading and pruning this wonderful shrub, and my father – perhaps in a fit of envy, or perhaps to please me – visited every garden centre in the region to procure our very own buddleia.

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He even managed to get an orange buddleia (“Golden Knight”) which was quite rare in those days… even though the man down the road has one in his garden. Nowadays, everywhere you go you can see buddleia growing prolifically – apparently it’s quite invasive, it self-seeds on waste ground, hence its nickname of the “bombsite plant.”

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Not bad going really, for a bush whose origins lie in China. Of course, it’s a great source of nectar for all sorts of creatures – some have even evolved flowers designed specifically for a hummingbird.

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Buddleia is also known as the “butterfly bush” and it was originally named after an English botanist called the Reverend Adam Buddle.

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This year, I’ve tried my hand at a little gardening, and to be honest, I have both enjoyed it and found it therapeutic. I’ve even joined a Facebook group for gardeners… Throughout the post I have included some pictures of the visitors we’ve had – I hope I’ve managed to recreate a little of the magic in my own garden that I was lucky enough to experience at my grandparents.

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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

Summer Son

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He was born to her in the middle of the year, when she was bright and warm, full of love and hope. He slipped easily into the world from her body and at once she felt his absence within her.

However, she nurtured him carefully in the outside world and poured all her love and hope and soul into her son, with his eyes as blue as summer skies, hair as gold as ripe wheat and smiles as warming as the Sun himself.

Mother and son formed the perfect unit of two, never needing anyone else, their spiritual footsteps so closely linked they were like one person. Her son grew and thrived.

When does it begin, the slow inexorable divorce of child from mother; the loving, inevitable withdrawal, as he chose his own paths, his own way, and the life that was once so closely bound to his mother’s diverged.

He kept a part of himself for her; but her boy, her bright boy, into whom she had poured her life and soul, left her.

Autumn crept into her bones and winter settled in her heart; yet still she hoped he would return to her sometimes, and bring a little brightness with him, restoring a little of her own youth.

She was grateful, then for the windows of social media that allowed her to look through at her son’s life and glimpse a little.

Eventually, the soul cold winter triumphed and she gave in on a day not unlike the one on which she welcomed her son into the world. It was only later, when he was checking his messages, that he found out she had died.