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!

Stichtite And Suspicious Sisters…

 

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There is always something new and wonderful at Lizian – the colour of this stone drew me at once, a wonderful lavender purple, with a soap-soft feel to it.

Stichtite is a protective stone that opens your mind to being aware of how negative attitudes can damage, giving comfort and support while you learn how to adjust. It’s a happy stone that offers companionship and calm while helping you to open and attune your mind, emotional awareness and opinions.

I would hate to even hazard an opinion as to what Ting and Tooty were up to the other morning, other than to say it made me extremely suspicious…

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“We’re just sleeping…honest!”

I was pottering about in the bedroom wiping a trail of muddy paw prints off the windowsill that someone had thoughtfully left for me (“Got to keep her occupied, haven’t we…”) and I happened to look up and out of the window – our bedroom overlooks the close, which is sort of L-shaped, with a blind spot at the top corner masked by a hedge.

Just at that particular moment, Ting and Tooty came hurtling around the corner. They were a good couple of hundred yards away and they were really going for it – a full out cat canter, monkey sideways gallop, tails up and to the side.

They came, absolutely belting down the road, neck and neck, even though Tooty is a lady of the larger persuasion, hurdled the garden gate like a pair of tiny steeplechasing horses and vanished.

Seconds behind them came my neighbour in his car – he screeched round the corner, pulled up with a jolt outside his house, flung his car door open and ran into his house, looking upset.

I went downstairs and into the garden, just to, you know, ask if they’d been up to anything.

Hi Mum! Any treats going? Whatcha been doing?”

I was upstairs – I saw you both running. Anything you’d like to tell me?”

Nope.”

Sure?”

Yep… absolutely nothing… you might want to avoid him two doors down for a bit though…”

Ah.

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Ting’s Evil Genius face…

Chrysoprase And Crazy Cats…

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I happened to be sorting out a mixed bag of crystals one day and my partner was watching me. He said:

Ooh I like those ones! They look like crocodile eyes!”

I picked up the crystals he had pointed at and on closer inspection I thought to myself:

Hmm, he’s actually quite right…”

Glowing green orbs looked back at me, set in a scaly brown matrix. It seemed friendly enough, but I had no idea what it was, unsure if it was crocodile… or alligator, so to speak. I put it away in my handbag, for the next time I happened to see Liz.

Ah yes! Apple green Chrysoprase!” she exclaimed.

The stones themselves seemed quite pleased to have an identity, and armed with their name, I thought I would have a look at what they do.

Chrysoprase is good to use in meditation, bringing a deep state of contemplative relaxation. It can be used to help calm and overcome impulsive thoughts and acts, encouraging reasoned thought and the release of judgemental attitudes. It is also said to help with attracting new love, abundance and prosperity. Essentially a crystal of joy, it brings happiness and helps to heal the heart from depression and anxiety.

Chrsyprase is useful in promoting forgiveness and supporting independence, especially when coming out of a toxic co-dependent relationship. It’s a nice crystal to add to any collection as it energises the heart and sacral chakras and infuses the physical body with Universal energy… always a good thing.

Apart from when it’s half-past three in the morning and really you should be sleeping, but for some reason – blindingly apparent to the feline brain of the Siamese persuasion, yet clear as mud to my humble human brain – the done thing is to run about, claws clicking madly on the laminate flooring like a demented lobster, shouting:

Wa-oh-ah! Wahhh! Ma – ow!”

No idea what it means.

Then at times, the whole feline family is beset by a moment of oddity – the cat flap will slap and Lily will enter the kitchen with an air of great self-importance.

Mew! Mewww- weh!”

Then she turns around and marches away, tail twitching smartly above her furry trousers.

Charlie, having listened to what Lily said, will leap off the sofa and run into the kitchen and out through the cat flap. Driven by her urgency, Ting and Tooty will usually run after her, and it doesn’t matter how many times it happens, they never remember that Charlie will wait -with malice aforethought – on the other side of the cat flap to smack them as they pass through…

Some kind of feline re-birthing therapy? I’m really not sure. Sometimes I think I’m the only normal one in this house…

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Buses and Bitching…

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I know – nothing to do with the words of the title..but I like butterflies…

As ever, buses remain a constant source of entertainment and material to me. There is something about the encapsulated of forty or so people contained within a vehicle that makes the magic happen…

I have three little gems to present to you. The other week I was on the bus into town to meet Alex, who had come over from Loughborough for a few days. Downstairs was packed with pushchairs and pensioners, so I decided to climb the stairs to the upper deck, ticket clenched firmly in teeth Errol Flynn style at his swashbuckling finest, shopping bag gripped tightly in fist, I swung nimbly up the stairs and collapsed into the first available seat.

(“Nimbly?” O.K. maybe “with panic” would be better as these drivers never wait until you’re seated before driving away… one of these days I just know I’ll come rolling back down the stairs like an armadillo to lie at the feet of an unsuspecting O.A.P…”Whatcha doin’ down there luv…bit of a fall?” Anyway, I digress…)

I settled myself, had a mouthful of water, spilling most of it down my front and sat back to gaze out of the window and tune in…

“… yes, but my dentist isn’t very pleased with me – said the fuel rots my gums…”

Bingo! I homed in on that snippet.

Yes, because when you do fire-eating – I taught myself by the way – you have to hold the petrol in your mouth. I’ve done a few Light Nights (I’ll just bet you have!!) but obviously I can’t make fire-eating the whole act because of Health and Safety, so I do yo-yo tricks, juggling…”

A loud, strident voice breaks in:

“… but I only removed her from the group chat! I didn’t say anything bad about her – just put a laughing face emoji – and now I’m being called in for bullying her! You have to tell them I’m not a bully – she just read the post wrong…”

The bus pulled up at the changeover point where drivers swap routes, and the shift changes.

Are you all right then?”

Yeah, not too bad. Yourself?”

Oh these bloody new buses! I can’t reach the pedals!”

Someone else said that the other day – who makes these things? Do you want me to pull the seat forward for you?”

Yeah, I’m only 5’6”,” said the driver, a small, frail-looking chap.

Not a problem for me,” said the other driver, a strapping bloke, who proudly declared:

I’m 6’4”!”

Gentlemen – size really doesn’t matter as long as you reach your destination…!

Dragons and Dreamboats

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

Hello.”

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

You’re Not Liz,” the man stated.

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

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

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

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

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

I wanted to show Liz these,” he said.

Ah.” I said. “What nice, um, sticks.”

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

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

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

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

I’m going to make things on them!”

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

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

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

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

Goodbye.”

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

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

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

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

I said: “Yes…”

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

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!