Glasses….

Nothing wrong with my eyesight!

I have mixed feelings about glasses – the optical variety, not the drinking vessels, they’re generally quite useful, although they have their own separate issues… like somebody very kindly left me a dead moth once in a glass of water I was drinking, and I have to be careful at my mother’s since Rocky, her dog, will cheerfully sample anything you leave within reach.

But anyway. Glasses. Spectacles. Face furniture. Nowadays they seem to be quite a chic fashion accessory, with various high-end labels available, and they also serve other purposes than to enhance or correct faulty vision, like filtering out blue light. Whatever…

I wear glasses for one reason and one reason only. I am incredibly short sighted. To the extent where I have bent down to pick up a piece of fluff only to have it sprout legs and reveal itself as a surprise spider. I have greeted people seen from a distance as good friends only to approach closer and find out that I have absolutely no idea who they are. Conversely, I have blanked people I have known for years until they are up close and personal… social distancing notwithstanding.

Shortsightedness coupled with absent mindedness can be entertaining – I have taken my glasses off to put face cream on, wandered off, distracted and forgotten where I’ve put them and been too short sighted to find them… I solved that problem by having tactical emergency glasses placed around the house at strategic key points, rather like fire extinguishers, so I can go to one of these points, collect a spare pair of glasses then return to search and locate my original pair…

My shortsightedness was first discovered at the tender age of four – I couldn’t see what the teacher was writing on the blackboard from my desk, so conveniently placed at the back of the classroom, so I had to get up, walk to where I could see the blackboard, memorise the chunk of writing, return to my seat and copy it down. Did wonders for training my memory but understandably irritated everyone else to the point where my my teacher told my parents. I have no idea why they hadn’t noticed, but anyway, off I went to the optician’s and my world was restored to clear and wonderful focus. I could see! Every blade of grass, every whisker on my cat’s face.

And then it began… “Specky four eyes!” and other imaginative insults since I was the only kid in the class who wore glasses. However, I persevered, as being able to see kind of outweighed the stigma, but it was interesting to see how the insults changed as I got older. “Men never make passes at girls who wear glasses.” Really? I’ve had my share in the past…

But I reached the age of 18 and made my first foray into the world of contact lenses. Again, fabulous to be able to see, although you do feel as though your eyes are very wide open… But I discovered too that contact lenses could present their own problems. Ever tried taking a contact lens out when you’ve been drinking? After clawing desperately at your eyeball for half an hour you give up and fall asleep only to wake up in the morning with it immovably shrivelled onto your corneal surface…

Back to glasses then. I have very specific design requirements when it comes to my glasses – I don’t like heavy frames, the colour has to be right, likewise the shape to hold the specially thinned lenses, and they have to withstand other outside forces too. My optician once asked me, appalled: “Are these teeth marks on the arms?!”

“Um, yes… the cat got hold of them while I was asleep…”

But my current optician is a lovely, kind and endlessly patient man, and my present pair of glasses had been recognised by him as the perfect pair for me. He put them carefully aside until it was time for my next appointment, whereupon he produced them with an air of quiet satisfaction:

“Samantha, I saw these and thought of you…”

“Come Fly With Me…”

Wonder what he’s humming while he washes his hands… “Fly me to the moon..” “I believe I can fly…”

Now. I know flies are an irritation and a nuisance and not the most hygienic of creatures either – but they are, if you look at them, little marvels of Mother Nature’s engineering…

The true flies derive their name from the Greek, “Diptera” meaning “two winged” and have compound eyes, which roughly means that their vision of Life appears to them in mosaic form … fascinating… yet also despite having compound eyes, flies are actually short-sighted. I feel a certain kinship with them in that respect.

Our winged friends make themselves particularly noticed during the summer months. To try and deter their presence in her house, my mother bought one of those fly curtains which are basically coloured strips of plastic hanging from a rod you fix above your door frame thus hindering the access of flies and other unwelcome visitors.

I was only too happy to assist my mother with fitting it to her door frame, and then we stood back and admired it. I agreed she was indeed fortunate to find one in black and white which matched the colour scheme of her kitchen. Then, as we stood and watched, a fly flew in through the hanging strips of plastic with the absolute precision of a computer aided jet fighter pilot, made a swift circuit of the kitchen and exited again with deadly accuracy through the millimetres-wide gap in the hanging plastic strips of the fly deterrent curtain. I looked at my mother.

“*%$@!!”

On another occasion, my home was fly-free, or so I thought, and I was quite happily pottering about upstairs tidying when –

“zzzZZZZZZZZZZZZZ!!!!”

I was joined by a large and cheerful housefly. It buzzed in self-importantly:“Hi! And how are we today?” – smacked its head against the mirror, then commenced that infuriating desperate scramble up and down the window that they do…

I don’t like killing things mindlessly, so seizing my opportunity I opened the window and used the blinds to waft the fly outside to freedom … I resumed my cleaning…

“zzzZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ!!!! Hi! And how are we today?”

The bloody thing had flown straight out of the window, gone downstairs and round to the back of the house, found the back door open and flown right on in again…

Despite my annoyance, I did find it quite funny and to be fair, these little creatures oft-maligned still have their place in the Universe as one of the tiny cogs that deal with the various aspects of decomposition. Mother Nature’s solid waste technicians if you will.

And they are the source of a joke that I originally heard as a child and still find (shamefully) funny now…

What do you call a fly with no wings?

A walk…

“Stay At Home…”

Firstly I must say that I hope everyone is safe and well. I confess I thought this staying at home thing would be easy, plenty to keep me engaged… here is a little break down of my past week.

Day 1:

Make list of everything that I need to do, then notice the sun is shining so get sidetracked and go outside where I end up moving three azaleas and planting some radish seeds.

Day 2:

Look at list. Make cheesecake. Eat cheesecake while binge watching so much “True Blood” and “American Horror Story” I feel my brain has turned to mush and will probably slide out my nose if I bend over.

Day 3:

Look at list. Think about doing at least one item on the list. Go outside. Find garden gnomes and instruct partner to repaint said garden gnomes. Argue over what to call garden gnomes. Him: “No, you can’t call them all Dave!” Me: “But why not? They all look like Daves!” Settle on compromise of calling one Dave and the others after the cast of “True Blood”. Dig large hole at the bottom of the garden and eye partner speculatively till he retreats nervously indoors.

Dave…

Day 4:

Look at list. Throw list away. Make trifle. Eat trifle. Go upstairs to tidy bedroom, have a little sit down on the bed and fall asleep, only to wake up and find not only have I drooled in my hair but I missed “Gardener’s World” too.

Day 5:

Decide to go out. Make comprehensive list of everything we need. Go to shop. Discover list is at home and return with pickled beetroot and cat food, neither of which were on the list.

Day 6

Go through music on phone. Play “Crank That ” by Soulja Boy Watch “Crank That” video on YouTube. Learn steps of dance to “Crank That”. Practise steps in front of mirror. Show assembled cats my version of “Crank That” by Soulja Boy. Run after cats as they flee in horror from my “cranking back”.

“Perhaps if we keep very still she’ll just run straight past us…”

Day 7:

Tidy wardrobe and throw old clothes away. Realise you don’t know when you’ll be able to get out and buy new clothes so retrieve previously discarded clothes, carefully replacing errant woodlouse outside.

Seriously though friends, I write to raise a smile in these difficult times – it can help, as does gardening. If you don’t have a garden, try growing something from your fruit or vegetable scraps – I have a thriving celery plant that has its origins in a large supermarket..The sense of achievement is lovely, as is the sense of looking after something living and growing.

Check out some book lists – various libraries around the world are offering thousands of books to download for free. Do something physical – not necessarily “Crank That”.. – just something to get the blood moving.

My version of a sourdough starter…

Eat if not well then at least inventively… A few ideas at any rate. And of course, look after yourselves.

Happy New Year!

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Perhaps a little late, but here we are – 2020, perfect vision, a new decade, the Roaring Twenties again… and I find I have taken the roaring part quite literally to heart.

Regular readers may recall I was searching for that little je ne sais quoi, the little added extra, a flourish, if you will, to add as I get off the bus and run away. The running away part is definitely catching on, I’m pleased to say.

On my journey into town the other day I noticed several ladies leaping off the bus and running onwards to their next destination. Not so much men though…come on chaps! Where’s your spirit of, um, adventure!

Anyway. I was with Alex in Asda, just before Christmas, actually, and it was packed. Thronging with desperate last minute shoppers – “Well, why won’t she eat that? She ate it last year!” – “Please stop doing that, Mummy’s very tired and Santa won’t come if you carry on being a little s&*t!”- and all I wanted to buy were the staple supplies of any conscientious cat owner, three different types of wet food and four packets of treats for the Girlies’ stockings, and I found myself welling up with frustration at the mass of humanity seething around me.

I couldn’t help it. I let out a little roar. Alex looked at me, concerned and more than a little alarmed at the unusual noise I produced. So I did it again. And was mildly gratified as one family shot me a wary look and moved to another queue…

I opened my mouth again, preparing.

No Mum, don’t! Look! We’re here now!” Alex interrupted hurriedly, and we paid for the shopping and left.

Then I added in a roar as I ran away from the bus and actually found it quite liberating… Alex was … horrified. Then my mother came for dinner the other week, and afterwards, Alex, his boyfriend and I walked her to the bus stop.

Having seen her safely aboard, I began to run off. Puzzled, Alex’s boyfriend gamely followed me, as did Alex with a look of grim resignation on his face.

Why are we running?” his boyfriend enquired.

No reason,” I replied, then I gave a bit of a roar too.

Ah! I see!” he said, giving a bit of a roar too and throwing himself wholly into the spirit of things…and although Alex ran with us, he declined to roar…

So. Happy belated New Year, everybody, and may you enjoy the new “Roaring Twenties” in every sense of the word!

                                                                                  *

Look what’s happening next week – we have a guest! The lovely Marje from Kyrosmagica is coming for a chat (and maybe tea and cake) to kick off her blog tour with us and tell us about her new book!  We’re looking forward to seeing her and hearing all about it as it’s a magical mix of short stories, poems and photographs… and perhaps even a cat!

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Organite And Organisation.

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That came out of nowhere… readers – they got me. Just when I thought I had successfully escaped the onslaught of germs a chest infection crept up and got me, gleefully destroying all my carefully laid plans, trampling all over my neatly written lists and positively p—-ng all over my timetables for blog posts, shopping, relative visiting…

Oh well. Man plans and God laughs. Perhaps I should invest in some more Organite. This combination of resin, crystals and natural materials is reputed to help balance and strengthen a person’s energetic field, giving protection too against EMF’s.

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Thank you Liz for the models x

Organite can also help to intensify meditation, boost plant growth and disperse negative energy, giving strength and purpose to intentions and visualisations. Orgone energy was originally discovered in the 1930’s although the idea of a Universal Life Energy is obviously not a new one.

Everything – from a teacup to a tangerine to a terrapin – is made of energy. Wilhelm Reich established the idea of orgone in 1930’s although in Chinese traditional medicine it is known as “Qi”, in Ayurveda it’s “Prana.” Reiki, of course, uses these energies to help heal and repair imbalances in the body.

Organite can come in any shape, as long as it contains a mix of organic and non-organic materials to simultaneously attract and repel the bio-energy. It generally contains a mix of flowers, crystals, metal shavings – all encased in a petro-chemical resin. Then these shapes can be used in healing and maintaining good health. Different people respond differently to Orgone as some feel it immediately as a warm tingling sensation where others may notice an improvement after sustained use.

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Basically though, Orgone can help with better sleep, higher energy levels, balanced moods, increased resistance to illness and spiritual and psychological growth so Life can progress in an orderly and organised fashion. Allowing for cats, of course…

On the night before Christmas Eve, Charlie was thoroughly over excited and spent her time chasing either Ting or Tooty up and down the stairs to the extent they were sick…Lily became strangely obsessed with the parsnips, who were just sitting innocently on the side minding their own business till she started rolling on them…Charlie had to sit on my knee to open her present and got thoroughly over excited again on Christmas Day and when my mother joined us for dinner Ting decided she would rather spend the day in silent contemplation in my bed.

Tooty disappeared on private business – I think she moonlights as a spy, possibly – and despite feeling like I’d been kicked in the chest by a rhino I managed to cook the dinner, make a beautiful pumpkin pie and an extremely nice trifle thanks to a recipe by the amazing Queen Mary of Berry.. as well as managing to enjoy half a glass of red wine and my rescued parsnips – which were very nice, roasted with herbs, salt and covered in gravy…

So. Now I just need to extend this organisational ability a little further…polish one completed manuscript, finish a second, catch up with my WordPress friends, redecorate the bathroom and – breathe!

But here’s to 2020 friends – love to you all and thank you from the bottom of my heart for sticking with me! xxx

In Sickness…Theirs…And In Health…Mine….

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I don’t know how the present weather is affecting the rest of the country, but here in the East Midlands, the rain has not only flooded the surrounding farmlands and countryside, but also seems to have created a fetid fug of soup like flu symptoms that just seem to be trapped in the bowl created by our natural geology, just circulating endlessly…

Now. Don’t get me wrong, I am not unsympathetic to people who are ill… but I do feel quite strongly they should keep their germs to themselves. It started with a hat trick of grandmas… my mother, a confirmed and dedicated smoker, generally has a smoker’s cough, but on this particular day it seemed a little more…vehement than usual.

You’re going to be ill, aren’t you,” I observed, with trepidation.

My mother is a retired nurse and a Yorkshire woman to boot, consequently she is as stubborn as hell and the worst patient ever.

No, don’t be – hrgghhh! – stupid Samantha – bleughhh-ahh!- I’m fine!”

The dogs laid back their ears and retreated to the kitchen. I did likewise.

Then my partner’s mother had the flu jab and promptly caught flu. I had just run home from getting off the bus, contemplating how to add an extra flourish to my run away with a squat, or a forwards roll, perhaps, when-

SAM! SAM! MAM’S NOT WELL!”

What do you mean?” I enquired, more than a little alarmed because she is getting on a bit and has had a few health problems.

“’ER EYES ARE ROLLING AND SHE’S BREATHING FUNNY!”

I decided this necessitated further investigation and trotted round, curbing an arbitrary impulse to attempt a vault over the gate, and ran upstairs to have a look at her.

Are you all right?” I enquired cautiously, poking my head round the door.

Hrrhhha wahhggrr!”

Ah. Let’s sit you up a bit…”

I helped her sit up and her chest eased a little and I sent my partner back to our house for eucalyptus oil.

A cup of tea, essential oil inhalant and a laugh later, I am very pleased to say she was looking a lot better.

Then, although not known to me personally, I heard that Alex’s partner’s grandma was ill too – I spent some time with the Wishing Tree in my garden, asking for help and healing from the Appropriate Places.

Then I went to my mother’s yesterday for dinner, we were watching “Countryfile” and I asked her for the television guide so I could check something. She sneezed in it, closed the pages and offered it to me.

No, I’ll let you keep that,” I said politely, as the dog sneezed in Mum’s face, triggering another coughing fit.

I returned home to be greeted by the mournful face of my partner, mouth breathing, wheezing and coughing… I thrust paracetamol, honey and echinacea at him, seized my sage and thyme infusion and ginger capsules and fled upstairs.

So. I have been taking powdered ginger in capsule form for about a month, I gargle with sage and thyme infusion, have a spoonful of honey every day, a pack of sanitising wipes to hand and I have anointed myself liberally with patchouli and lavender essential oils, hoping that their overpowering scent will fox any particularly persistent germs.

Just in case though – I have my lovely doctor on speed dial…

*

On a serious note, friends, look after yourselves in this season of illness, and I hope you’ll join with me in wishing my wonderful friend Jean at The Canadian Cats all the very best for a speedy recovery back to full health. Get well soon, Jean, love from all of us here xxxx

“A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Theatre…”

 

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Sometimes I actually do feel as though the stuff that happens in my life is part of a Universal vaudeville routine… I try to console myself with encouraging platitudes like Oh well, it could be worse, it could be raining…

Alternatively, I think: “F&#$k it that’s an absolute b#@%ard”… I swear quite appallingly so I’ve been told, although personally I think I do it rather well, having a flair for the more , um, earthy side of our language… but anyway, generally I just laugh.

For example, the other day my morning began at 5.00am with a sound guaranteed to make any cat owner react with lightning fast speed – I awoke to the sounds of Tooty vomiting copiously down the side of my bedside cabinet. I leapt out of bed, a little too late unfortunately to prevent drippage on to the handles of the cabinet, wondered momentarily at the cat’s ability to run and vomit at the same time, but cheered myself with the thought Well, it can only get better…

On the bus to my appointment with my psychologist – yes, I have a psychologist, yes, I have now managed to instil a level of anxiety in him concerning random issues that he has never previously considered, like doorhandles, and should beans and chips really touch on the plate if you’re eating them together – but I happened to overhear a weary father talking to his little son on the bus as the child burst into a bellowed rendition of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.”

No, buddy, that’s not a star, it’s a snowflake,” the father patiently pointed out yet again.

But it looks like a star!” the child insisted. Then, a little defiantly: “Well, I’m going to sing every time I see a star or a snowflake!”

A look of hopeless resignation settled across the father’s face…

Then, as I was coming back, I noticed a man leaving the supermarket who clearly had his life’s priorities sorted. He was carrying a tray of cans of beer and a large pack of toilet rolls – I shudder to think how he was going to spend his weekend, but mentally I applauded his ingenuity, for, he had the toilet rolls on his shoulder first, then the beer on top, thereby creating a soft and comfortable pad to carry the items home.

I also recently seem to have adopted quite an interesting habit as I disembark from the bus…I leap off and run away…not quite sure where that’s come from, I know that “Mission Impossible” left a lasting impression on me…but the puzzled look on the other passengers’ faces is quite rewarding to see as I speed away… Try it…

Murder By Moussaka…

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Not moussaka… 

Now. Regular readers might remember I have a few issues around the subject of food. Don’t get me wrong – I love food, am an avid watcher of cookery programmes and enjoy myself cooking and baking when I have the opportunity.

No… it’s the reverse. The older I get, the more foods I find that dislike me. The other day I went to my mother’s for dinner – I am aware that she thinks my food foibles are pretty much in my head, but I also get extremely anxious whenever I discuss food and what I can and cannot eat with her. She comes from a generation where you show your love and appreciation by eating whatever is put in front of you, clearing your plate and asking for more… it took me twenty years to pluck up the courage to tell her I detest Brussels sprouts…

Look!” she said, gesturing proudly and a little defiantly towards the oven – “I made moussaka!”

Ah.” I said, a little hesitantly. “Does it have-”

Only the tiniest amount of cheese in the sauce, but you can’t expect me to eat it otherwise!”

I subsided, duly chastened and already worried… my stomach rubbing its nasty little paws in anticipation.

Mother served the moussaka, and it lay there, on my plate, plumptious and tempting. Savoury layers of aubergine and courgette, chinks of onion, like little pearls, interspersed with nodules of seasoned brown mince, glistening like the sweat on a lover’s brow, and over all this, billows of creamy white sauce, smooth, subtly beckoning, flowing sensuously over everything…

Reader – I ate it.

And managed to make it all the way home before the roiling indigestion, knotting stomach cramps, nausea – well, you get the picture.

Lying pale and limp on my bed, surrounded by sympathetic cats (well, vaguely concerned if I’m honest) I got a text from my mother.

Hope you enjoyed dinner – see you tomorrow xx”

I can only conclude she was setting up her alibi…

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A butterfly. Butterflies are good.

The PenIs…Mightier Than The Sword!

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Of course…whatever did you think I meant… made you look though! And that’s my point – words are powerful things.

I was in town a couple of months ago, sneaking in furtively to fulfil my latest craving… violas. Yes, those sweet little spots of floral colour that provide a pleasing range of hue in the garden in those dark few months between autumn and spring. The lady on the plant stall laughed when I said they were very “more-ish” but she knew exactly what I meant.

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I sped away, clutching my new garden friends and decided to call in at the crystal shop, Lizians. That day, Ian was at the helm and we launched into, among other things, a discussion about literature and the actual art of writing.

I love words, the music they create as they flow from your pen, the pictures they paint in your imagination… it’s like a three-in-one hobby. We both like to actually physically write, put down initial thoughts, words, ideas, so we both have notebooks and pens always at the ready. Laptops are obviously more convenient for sheer volume but sometimes my fingers trip over themselves and both myself – and my laptop – have absolutely no idea what I was trying to say…

I find connecting with pen and paper very organic, an emotional action that helps layer flavour and imagery, a useful way of capturing a string of words that chimes in the mind like a musical note…I am possibly too wordy, and a bit of a grammar stickler, but Ian and I both agreed that when you write, your aim is to make your reader feel without getting too bogged down in spellings and so forth. These are the sort of weapons people use to put aspiring writers off, intimidate them, when really, the action of writing is very important – a way of immortalising yourself, and your surroundings as the very first artist realised in the caves at Lascaux when they turned an abstract projection of rock into the figure of a horse…

I hope you get what I mean…or am I waffling? A lovely crisp baked treat…or pointless meanderings of words. That’s their beauty – words can be used to describe, punish, communicate, immortalise or obfuscate, but some of the simplest words are also the most beautiful!

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Ambivalent About Birds…

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Although I welcome birds to my garden – and sometimes my house, usually courtesy of Lily – as part of my wildlife-friendly environment I have endeavoured to create, I have decided I don’t really like them. They’re quite rude.

Alex had a budgie, who was a much loved and sadly missed family member, but even he had issues – a small yellow and green bird with the heart of a lion and the temper of a wolverine.

But yes, birds outside. I was planting some dianthus and violas in the back border when I heard a scream of raucous laughter.

Rude,” I thought, “I’m just minding my own business.”

I heard the laugh again and looked up, prepared to make a cutting remark like “Go away!” when I saw a magpie, perched on a tree branch above my head watching me. It opened its beak and gave another yell of unrestrained laughter at my gardening efforts and flew away.

Then the other afternoon, I was calling Ting. Every time the word “Ting” left my mouth it was echoed by a chuckling rasp, like nails down a blackboard. I looked up, and sat in the ash tree on the park was a jackdaw. It cocked its head on one side and laughed derisively, glaring at me with its pale blue eyes.

Ting! Hehehehehe!” it bellowed, and flew off in a flash of silvery black feathers.

We have a park at the back of our house and I can look out over it from the one of the back bedrooms, and I often see crows and seagulls diving and whirling like fighter jets, executing such tight turns and spins a Red Arrows pilot would be envious. Usually they battle each other, but sometimes they will unite in the face of a common foe and mob the peregrine who flies across every so often in search of food, screaming and laughing like demented banshees.

I don’t mind the little robin, Mr.Gibbs, who is part of the Avian Quality Control team in my garden. He will sit in the honeysuckle and make politely encouraging remarks. I also have a pair of little wrens, charming tiny brown birds that flicker in and out of the hedges, although they have a terrible, booming alarm call if one of the cats wanders too near their territory:

Cat! Cat! CAT! CAT! CATCATCATCAT!”

Now. I have a herb garden, which I planted earlier this year, and I am quite proud of it, not least because I recently introduced my partner to the pleasures of cooking with herbs. I was gazing absently out of the kitchen window – the back door was open – when I heard the most terrible scream.

Uh-oh, Lily’s got a bird!” was my first thought.

I ran outside to find the source of the enraged screaming and fluttering, fully expecting to see Lily at least dragging a pheasant, when a black feathered ball of rage shot past me.

There, in my lovely herb bed, was a battle royal. Two male blackbirds were having a massive punch up, going at it like professional wrestlers. One seized the other by a wing tip and flung him into the parsley- which was flattened by the force of his landing. He rebounded off the sage and dived for the other, grabbing him by the leg and upending him into the lemon balm. The other one retaliated with a solid body blow that knocked him into my thyme – I’m very fond of my thyme as it has therapeutic benefits as well as flavour – and that was when I decided enough was enough.

Oi! Get out of it you little b$%*&@*s!” I shouted – most unladylike, I know, but I had glimpsed what they had done to the chives.

They turned and looked at me.

Fair cop guv!”

And fled.

For such little birds, they fought with surprising ferocity – easy to see they’re descended from dinosaurs!

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Now – butterflies I like!