Food And Feelings…

18618599_128858467669361_1476528054_oCharlie… bug-hunting 

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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Flint and Fear

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The very first stone that I can remember being actively drawn to and picking up was actually a piece of Flint. I felt it had some sort of story to tell me… Not surprisingly, Flint and humans have a long-standing connection.

It was one of the first stones to work for Man in the creation of fire and tool making, both means of fending off fear for the early Man. Thus Flint manages both male and female energies, and perhaps harking back to its earliest connection with humans as tools, can be used to spiritually sever negative thought patterns, sharpening thought and response to any challenges that Life may put in your path.

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It is another highly protective stone and will shield you from curses and ill wishes; and again, has the dual purpose of both helping to keep you grounded, yet acknowledge and come tot terms with your own spirituality… A stone of comfort and ability, a metaphysical pacifier, if you will…

Despite the common usage of the term “scaredy cat”, I wouldn’t say that my cats are particularly fearful… unlike me. I’m afraid of loud noises… the dentist… spiders… deep water. Well. I could go on. But my feline family demonstrate what I prefer to think of as a healthy sense of self-preservation… apart from Charlie (of course) who has the soul of a tiger captured within her small furry body.

She terrified a fox once… it was passing through the garden, minding its vulpine business, and stopped to have a look in the pond. Our landing window overlooks that part of the garden so I am able to bear witness to Charlie’s fearlessness.

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My little cat spied the hapless fox and at once began walking menacingly down the path towards it. And as she walked… she fluffed…. Until by the time the fox looked up, it was being pummelled by a tabby tiger striped fur bomb…. It fled. Rapidly… leaving a rather large tuft of its fur behind on the hedge as it forced its way through in panic.

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I went rushing downstairs to comfort my little cat, but she was:

No worries. I had that. Got rid of the large, stinky squirelly looking thing…”

However, fear, no matter how irrational it may seem, is there to serve a purpose. This response is part of the human psyche, deep-rooted, for self-preservation where the primary response to a threat is flight, fight or freeze. As mankind evolved, progressed, adapted, our fears became more complex… fear of failure, of not fitting in or matching up to expectations.

Sometimes, we may feel that these fears will overwhelm us, that we are alone. Sometimes, the first step to overcoming these fears is to reach out, hold out your hand, feel the warmth and the love and know that you are not alone.

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The Alternate Path

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Oh, he’s here now, I’ll get the door!” the man called back to his wife.

She looked up at him over the top of her glasses and smiled, lovingly.

Thank you, you’re so good to me.”

He smiled back and went to answer the door. Her son stood on the doorstep:

Ah, good to see you, young man! Come in!” The older man gave him a quick hug and took his bag from him.

Your mother’s just through there, she had one of her heads yesterday. She still gets a little… unhappy.” The man laid his hand on the younger man’s arm.

I know, I know, don’t worry, I won’t upset her,” the son reassured the older man.

Darling, it’s wonderful to see you!”

He entered the warm, bright sun room as his mother rose to greet him. Small and gently blonde, she radiated happiness as she accepted her son’s embrace.

It’s good to see you looking so well, Mum,” he said.

Oh, it’s all down to him, you know, he thinks I don’t notice, but he’s so kind, always there; I – I’m not afraid any more.”

The older man re-entered the room and glanced sharply at the woman, both assessing and reassuring as he gently touched her arm.

Come through, my love, I’m making tea, and then we can sort something out for dinner while we catch up…”

The younger man followed his mother and her husband into the kitchen, another warm and inviting room and took a place at the table.

He watched his mother move about the kitchen confidently, putting dinner together, her husband passing her things as she reached for them and always tender, aware.

The younger man told funny stories about his friends and their escapades at university, scandalous enough to elicit gasps of delighted shock from his mother and humorous, reproving glances from her husband.

After dinner, a comfortable silence prevailed and the son was quietly pleased with his mother’s progress, as she leaned against her husband, watching some television programme.

He closed his eyes briefly and was instantly taken back to a small, dark, smelly room, his mother sobbing in the corner as the small fat man shouted angrily at her, berating her for yet another imagined slight. She shrank in fear as the small fat man, his father, raised his hand and –

Darling, whatever’s the matter? You’ve gone as white as a sheet!” His mother looked at him anxiously.

Nothing, nothing – I thought-for a moment, we were –”

No. No. That’s over.” Her husband leant forward and patted him comfortingly on the knee. “Look. Go to bed. You’ve had a long journey and you’re obviously tired.”

The son said goodnight and left, and as he did, he glanced back and was inexplicably moved by the tender way the older man lifted gentle hands to his wife’s face. He smoothed her hair and kissed her softly. For a tall man, he was quiet and controlled in his movements, calm and gentle to be around and as his mother leaned into her husband’s embrace the son watched and had a sense of truly coming home.

* * *

That night, he slept badly. Disturbed by dreams of past, loud voices and banging footsteps, screaming televisions, slamming doors and womens’ tears.

As he woke, he woke in a blur, cold sweat beading his face and sticking his armpits. It was early, but he could hear voices, so headachy and cross he went downstairs.

He opened the kitchen door, the door to his past and was taken straight back to the nightmare. His mother, tears rolling silently down her bruised cheeks, thin shoulders trembling as she stood in the corner, facing the small fat man who was his father, brandishing fists and words…

OR

His mother and her husband looked up from the Sunday papers they were reading, startled by his abrupt entrance into the quiet warmth of their kitchen.

Darling, would you like some tablets – perhaps the wine at dinner last night didn’t agree…” She looked concerned and put her hand on top of her husband’s. “Would you –”

I’ll get them. Don’t worry.” He rose to his feet and as he passed the younger man, briefly rested an arm across his shoulders.

Don’t worry.” He said again, and smiled, kindly.

Dentists and Dilemmas

_mg_8904Clear Fluorite – good for enhancing other crystals’ abilities during healing and actually quite comforting when you’re at the dentist 

I hate the dentist. Not my personal dentist. She’s wonderful. A petite, dark-haired girl with dainty hands and a touch on the drill as soft as thistledown.

I hate the concept of “dentists”. And unfortunately both my parents are dentist-phobic, despite the fact that one of my father’s oldest drinking buddies was the family dentist…

Let me take you back a few years, to when, say, I was about four years old. My parents were still married, and it was decided-as responsible parents-that we should have a family outing to the dentist.

What fun. Personally, I would have preferred the cinema, but going “en famille” was supposed to encourage unity within our family and support for my father’s drinking pal dentist.

We sat, as a family, in his waiting room. The dentist’s door opened and a young man reeled out, clutching a bloodied wad of tissues to his jaw. A sickly sweet aroma of something wafted out..

Mr. Butcher will see you now!” the perky receptionist announced perkily.

My father went in first and came out slightly paler..

Oh, I didn’t need anything… I promised Bill a pint, I’m fine…”

Of course, now I know my father was blatantly bribing Bill Butcher… not his real name but you see where I’m going here.

My mother was next, smiling and flirtily nervous, exiting shortly afterwards with a relieved smile and casual wave.

I’m just popping outside for a cigarette…”

My sister and I were next. She was fine. I was obviously overlooked by the Tooth Fairy. I entered apprehensively, and sat in the chair, legs quivering, and looked up, expecting to see friendly old Bill Butcher, who usually smelt of pipe tobacco and whiskey.

Instead, I saw an ominous masked stranger, beady eyes glaring… a booming voice bellowed something unintelligible. A finger the size of a sausage prodded at my mouth. Reluctantly, I opened it. A hand the size of a shovel swooped towards my mouth… I bit it.

img_8919Aquamarine – both rough and polished examples, a stone of courage and calm with a general beneficial affect for eyes, jaws and teeth…

I will spare you the details, but in brief, I had to have four teeth out, they were duly removed using nitrous oxide – laughing gas, and I remember to this day the ultimate confusion of screaming in pain and laughing uncontrollably.

Now, given my own childhood experiences with dentists, as soon as I had my own children I decided that I would be Tooth Fairy Extraordinaire. From four months old, my sons visited the dentist, he would prod their gums and check their progress and pronounce it satisfactory.

My dentist at the time was a perfectly nice man, with small, elegant hands, yet all the times I attended with my sons, I shuddered and shook and inwardly wept. One time, my older son was unfortunate enough to need an abscessed tooth removed. He was brave. I was not. The dental nurse thrust the removed abscessed tooth under my nose:

Look!”

I went white and sweaty but managed to squeak: “Yes.” without vomiting copiously all over her lovely clean uniform.

So my dilemma with dentists then… I’m sure they’re really very nice people. I have conscientiously taken my sons for their check-ups and attended my own. I have rigorously brushed and flossed and mouthwashed and yet my teeth betray me, leading to my continued association with those who practise the profession of dentistry…

Nowadays, they are kind and sympathetic, and receive specific training on how to deal with nervous patients. And yet, and yet, I fear them… my son watched disbelievingly as I hid behind a display of jumpers when our old dentist entered the same clothes shop we were in…

IMG_8929.JPGBlack Onyx – strengh giving and supportive and useful for teeth and bones 

All photos were taken by my son!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Emeralds and Eyes

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Emerald is one of those versatile crystals that lends itself well to jewellery as well as being used in crystal therapies. It is the birthstone for May, coinciding with the horoscope signs Taurus and Gemini. It sometimes is linked to the Heart Chakra, like the majority of green stones meaning it can provide both emotional healing and instill compassion.

There are a lot of myths and legends surrounding this beautiful crystal, including one that says the Holy Grail is made from a large Emerald. It was also said to be able to protect the wearer from enchantment and Emeralds were traditionally given to travellers to protect them on their journey.

Cat's Eye Green.jpgThis is Cat’s Eye, a man-made version of Chrysoberyl… still very beautiful and an excellent focal point for meditation…

The word ‘Emerald’ simply means ‘green stone’ and is derived from the Greek ‘smargos’. The oldest known mine is in Egypt, from around 3000 BCE and supposedly a favourite of Cleopatra’s. Emerald also has the reputation of being able to enhance domestic bliss and ensure good relationships – didn’t bring her much luck – although if it changes colour then that is an indication of unfaithfulness.

An interesting crystal then. A traditional interpretation of its metaphysical benefits is that it can help with the recovery after an infectious illness and also detoxify the body. It enhances metal clarity and is therefore, good to use in promoting group co-operation and expression. It is also said to help with diseases of the eye and improve vision, both physically and spiritually as the colour mimics the beneficial and restorative powers of Nature.

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Emerald then, is a useful and practical crystal to have. As well as being attractive to look at, it encourages unity and friendship. Quite a few cats have green eyes, although having said that, out of my four, I only have one cat that has green eyes; Lily, my little huntress with eyes of deepest Emerald… cat’s eyes are a fascinating thing to look at anyway, regardless of colour. They can see up to six times better than people which gave rise to the belief that they can see in the dark. In actual fact, cats have a special layer of cells at the back of their eyes called the ‘tapetum lucidium’ which reflects light back to the retina, thereby making use of every bit of ambient light to enable better vision, a little like camera settings.

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This also gives the eerie reflective glow you sometimes get when photographing a cat or seeing them in half light. Ting’s glow purple, which startled me, till I realised it’s because her eyes are blue… All cats have blue eyes when they are born, the adult colour develops around three months of age. Some sort of recessive gene causes adult blue eyed cats to usually be deaf, and you can also get some cats that have one blue eye and one green, or yellow… heterochromia iridum is the technical term.

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I remember when I was a little girl my sister and I had an alarming encounter… We used to live in a cottage in a little village in the country. I think it was originally two tiny farm workers cottages that were knocked into one larger dwelling. We had beams, open fireplaces, atmosphere… I hated it.

One evening, our parents had gone to a dinner party. At 16, my sister was considered old enough to look after me responsibly while they were out. Naturally, she let me stay up long past my bedtime, we made a large bowl of popcorn (and a mess in the kitchen) and settled down to watch the late night horror film. We had quite a long driveway leading up to the house, so there was plenty of time for us to rush up to bed if our parents returned.

We were watching one of those Hammer House of Horror films, starring those late greats Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing. We sat in delightfully horrified silence as Mr.Lee – as Dracula- bared his vicious fangs and hissed…

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There was a scratching behind us. There was a SCRATCHING behind us! The cat was on the sofa, with us, the sheep was in her bed in the kitchen and the dogs…were watching something…Their ears were pricked and they were following the progress of something across the room.

We looked at each other, my sister and I. She said, reassuringly:

Don’t worry, if it’s anything bad, the dogs will start to growl.”

The dogs started growling. Their hackles raised. I did what any self-respecting 6 year old would do and burst into tears. My sister-as the responsible adult – got off the sofa, me firmly attached to her leg. The dogs, Nikki, the German Shepherd, Damask the Great Dane and Misty the whippet, were all staring behind the sofa. It was pushed up against the wall, but didn’t fit flush to it, so there was a gap of perhaps ten inches into which… something… could creep.

My sister and I bent down to look behind the sofa. A pair of RED eyes swam into view… about three feet away in the gap behind the sofa. They blinked – AND SHOT TOWARDS US VERY QUICKLY!

That was it. My sister flung me aside – I grabbed her jumper and we legged it. Ran for the stairs and upstairs to our parents’ bedroom where there was another telephone, the dogs now barking, the sheep awake and all charging upstairs with us. The cat slept on…

Needless to say…tearful telephone calls to the house where our parents were dining, my sister’s boyfriend and the police. My parents were disbelieving, thinking that perhaps my sister had got into the drinks cabinet, but hearing my distressed shrieking in the background, decided to come home sharpish. Actually, all those summoned arrived pretty much together, and reassured by my parents’ presence, the boyfriend comforting my sniffling sister and a rather large policeman, I directed them towards the back of the sofa.

There was nothing there.

We’ve had our ups and downs, my sister and I, but this is one thing we agree on to this day. Those eyes were there. They were evil. We never found anything that could be responsible for them…

IMG_4722 (3).JPGThis is Boris, a stray that seems to have adopted us – he has the most beautiful eyes…

To return to eyes, then, my original subject along with the serene beauty of the crystal, Emerald:”The eyes are the windows to the soul”…This saying is popularly attributed to Shakespeare, but a true enough reflection when you think of making eye contact and what you perceive of the person, or animal, within.

Emerald for clarity of vision then, as clear as cats’ eyes and as guileless; beautiful and mysterious, holding secrets of the ancients.

IMG_4955 (2).JPG“Who’s Princess?”

Spiders: Part 4

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I am afraid. Very afraid…September is here. Three days old. And I’m waiting. I know something will happen…it’s my oldest son’s birthday, but that’s not what I’m talking about…Spider September is here…

This is the month when all the single male spiders come out to find a partner…and my house seems to be a particular focus of lonely male arachnid attention. I’m not sure why because I certainly don’t encourage them – I actively wish they’d go elsewhere in search of true love and the possibility of baby spiderlings…

I’m prepared. They’ve thrown little testers my way which I have met with equanimity and fortitude. The spider sitting in my favourite cup – an old one but a good one that never fails to raise a scream. The observing of the routes that I take in our garden whilst pottering about, digging up things to see if they’ve grown, then sighing and replacing them as I see that they haven’t…The stringing of silken lines across these paths that I take so I am left screaming and flailing, clawing desperately at my face and leaping up and down as I try to remove the clinging, sticky threads from my face and hair…

_MG_7427 (2).JPGIt’s enough to make a cat laugh!

Oo look! ‘Er at the corner’s off again…doing one of ‘em funny dances that she does..”

I had a particularly trying moment with a spider the other night. I’d gone to bed, and I was quite tired, so I’d fallen asleep quite quickly. A couple of hours later, I was awoken by a gentle tickling against my thigh. I shifted irritably, hoping that my partner would get the message that he had absolutely no chance…A minute’s peace and the tickling resumed, edging up underneath the hem of my pyjama top…I sighed and flung my arm out crossly, hoping to discourage him with a pretend sleep whack. His side of the bed was empty.

IMG_6932 (2).JPGFlowers are always good

In the split second I registered this my eyes pinged open and I was completely awake and alert. I have a bedside light and carefully-oh so carefully- I reached over and pressed the on switch. Then, with a little light on the situation, gently – oh so gently – I peeled back the sheet and duvet and looked down at my body. The edge of my pyjama top slipped aside, and out fell a spider. Not a very big one, admittedly, but a fair sized one, perhaps about the size of a raisin.

Everything’s fine, Miss Murdoch, nothing to worry about up there..”

With a friendly wave, the spider continued on his exploration of my bed, whereupon I leapt agilely out of my bed, catching my elbow painfully on the bedside unit and entangling my toe in the sheet so I fell, arms and legs akimbo to the floor…

Gasping breathlessly, I raised my head and the spider is WATCHING me, a faintly puzzled look on his hairy face:

Oh, come back…I won’t hog all the duvet and I don’t snore..we can have a little cuddle!”

With bones of water and lungs of lead I managed to lurch away and finally scream for my partner to come and rescue me from this over-friendly arachnid bed invader.

IMG_5286 (2).JPGBlue Lace Agate… good for overcoming suppressed fears and linked to the Throat Chakra, enabling good communication… could have done with a piece to help me scream properly… 

Perhaps you see my predicament…I won’t kill them any more, they don’t deserve that, but I do wish they didn’t feel so…compelled to make me part of their lives. If this is just the beginning, then I am more than a little apprehensive about what is in store for the rest of the month…

The Nature of Compassion

 

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“Come the revolution they’ll all be dead,”
His father said and he shook his head.

The boy, he watched and inside he cried,
Cried for the innocents who had died.

He watched and waited,
He waited and learned
And vowed to help with the knowledge he earned.

This kind young man
He thought: “I can.”

Out on his own,
He flew to the zone

He tended the dying,
Wiped tears of the crying.

Then one day, the young man fell ill.
His last breath left him and he lay still.

His mother, she cried.
Part of her died.

His father raged and he shook his head.
“Come the revolution I’ll see the bastards dead.”

Words Copyright © 2016 Samantha Murdoch

Spiders: Part 3

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This. Has. To. Stop. Right now. Or I’m leaving. It’s not even September.

The other day, I was sorting through my wardrobe and I found a blouse I’d forgotten I had. I thought I would try it on. I removed my glasses, took my shirt off and exchanged it for the other one. I didn’t put my glasses back on.

I went to look in the bathroom mirror, to straighten the collar. I saw something on my shoulder – couldn’t quite make out what it was. I returned to the bedroom to put my glasses on and had another look. The dark blur resolved itself into something unmentionable. There, upon my shoulder, beaming happily at me, was the largest spider outside of nature programmes I have ever seen. The breath died in my throat. The spider raised a foreleg in friendly greeting. The spell of horror was broken as I ripped – yes, ripped – all – yes, all – my clothes off and run screaming through the house. The cats watched:

What’s up with her then?”

Oh, I reckon she might have found a little something I left for her…” This, from Lily, who has a somewhat warped sense of humour. (Dead mice on the bedside table, half a mouse in the kitchen sink, that sort of thing.)

SMOKADAQUAR.jpgSome pieces of Smoky Quartz, excellent for protection and deflecting negativity…

Having reached the safety of the kitchen, it was daytime, so of course all the blinds were open – sorry neighbours – I thought to myself, it would be safe enough to go back and check… I edged carefully up the stairs and peered cautiously around the corner into the bedroom. It had gone. (Well, really, what did I expect? The spider parading up and down in front of the mirror: “Hmm, I could do with a smaller size, but the colour’s not too bad…”)

I lifted the blouse up. No spider. I put my jeans back on. No spider. I haven’t found it yet. So, it’s still in the house, somewhere, with me… It’s a large one. Large enough for me to harness it to a shopping trolley and go racing off to town like some modern day Roman charioteer…

Oh, excuse me, I see it now, galloping past the kitchen doorway, one of my bras clutched in its jaws…

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All photos were taken by my son!

Spiders: Part 2

Speeder

I have unwittingly taken part in a comedy routine that, if sent to one of these humorous clip shows, would have undoubtedly won a cash prize…

I came downstairs this morning at my usual time and saw what I thought was a ball of fluff on the front room floor… Not being at my sharpest until I’ve had the first cigarette and cup of tea of the day, I thought: “Oh dear, who came off worst in kitty wars then?” and bent down to pick it up. I mashed it gently between my fingers, thinking “Hmm, not quite cat fur texture, more leathery…” Whereupon it sprouted legs.

I feel a little sick thinking about it even now (and that’s after more tea and LOTS more cigarettes!) The spider, not appreciating its impromptu massage, scrabbled desperately at my fingers. I was doing one of those weird horror film screams where you think you’re making the loudest sound in the world when really it’s just a breathless squeak…

I dropped the spider. It scarpered off towards the cat flap.

“Rubbish service here… Not tipping you!”

I fell shocked and quivering to the sofa.

I don’t like the arachnid sense of humour. Granted, I don’t want to kill them any more, but really, they don’t have to take liberties. Once, I was getting a cereal bowl from the kitchen cupboard, and as I brought it down to eyelevel, I saw there was an extremely large spider sat in it. It saw me and gibbered. I gibbered back. I dropped the bowl and the spider ran away, I swear it was laughing…

I don’t like it when my cats and spiders collude in practical jokes. All my girls have a special meow when they’ve caught something, that means: “Come here! See what I’ve got! You’ll love it!” I’m never entirely sure what they’ll bring me, so I like to have mouse catching equipment to hand, kitchen towel for bird entrails etc.

This particular day, it was my older black cat, whose sense of humour can be a little warped…

“What have you got?”

“Here, I know you’ll love this, I selected it specially…”

A large spider leaped from her jaws like some kind of horrid circus act.

“Hahh! April Fool!”

As I ran away crying, I could hear them laughing…

“Same time next year then?”

“Sure, just give my agent a call.”

 

All photos were taken by my son!

Spiders: Part 1

Phone book

I hate spiders. Loathe, detest and live in fear of finding a spider somewhere really inconvenient like in my shoe, or in my teacup. (It has happened…) I can’t bear to look at them on the television, I won’t read a book if the cover has a spider on it and I can’t even stand cartoon spiders. I can’t remember any particular traumatic incident from my childhood involving them – I just don’t like them.

Now, I believe that every living creature has its place in the Universe… just not spiders in my house. And my God, my house seems to harbour some Jurassic monsters of spiders, that make their presence particularly felt in September. Apparently, so I’ve been told, this is when all male spiders come out looking for a female. I do not appreciate my house being used as an arachnid singles bar. When I lived by myself, I always used to keep a nice, thick telephone directory handy to drop on them, but some of these spidery residents are big enough to pick it up and throw it back…

One specific incident made me change my spider exterminating ways. I was in my front room, minding my own business, when a spider, not too bad, about raisin sized, emerged from under the sofa. I leapt to my feet, grabbed the trusty book and loomed menacingly over the spider, book poised to crunch it out of existence when it stopped. It may have looked up at me, but I swear, it cowered as if it knew what I was going to do. Yes, I dropped the book. It was one of those horrible moments where the action is already taking place and you are just seconds too late to avert it.

I killed the spider. I felt absolutely awful. Really awful and guilty. I shed a tear because it was only doing its spidery thing and what right did I have to kill it?

Since then, I haven’t killed any more. Its obvious fear of me made me pause and rethink. I carried that guilt with me for a long time so I hope to redress the balance a little by commemorating the spider in this way…

I have hidden, terrified, in the bath as one squeezed itself under the door and cornered me while I was cleaning my teeth. I have placed large bowls over the hairy legged beasts that have cantered through my kitchen, carefully labelled: ‘SPIDER!!’ to await later removal to the bottom of the garden. But I haven’t killed any more.