3 Day Quote Challenge Day #1

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Thank you Dolly of Kool Kosher Kitchen for putting me forward for this challenge. Please drop by her blog for some great recipes and fascinating history.

I have done this challenge a couple of times now, but I don’t mind giving it another go as I enjoy the conversations and trains of thought that follow.

I chose this quote as it is spoken by one of my historical heroes, Richard III, in the play of the same name by William Shakespeare. Although he is not favourably portrayed in this piece of Tudor propaganda, I love the ringing beauty of the blank verse.

My younger son intends to be an actor one day, and I look forward to seeing him interpret this classic Shakespeare role in a slightly less… biased way.

Now is the Winter of our discontent. Made glorious summer by this sun of York ; And all the clouds that lour’d upon our house
In the deep bosom of the ocean buried.

‘Richard III’ Act I, Scene I, by William Shakespeare

The rules of this challenge are:

  1. Thank the person who nominated you, and link back to their blog.
  2. Post one quote a day, for three consecutive days.
  3. Nominate three other blogs to pick up the challenge and run with it.
  4. Obviously, let your nominations know!

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My nominations are:

 

All photographs Copyright © 2016 Alex Marlowe

Trapped

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She was the most beautiful thing in the world to him. She couldn’t believe her luck when he looked at her and chose her. He made her feel special with his attention, as he paraded her in front of his friends, remarked upon her intelligence and complimented her.

Previously unliked by men and women both, she bloomed under his guidance. The few friends she had carefully cultivated, the ones who liked her kindness and welcomed her company did not meet his standards. Under his secret sneers and uncomprehending gaze they lost heart and withered away from her. Puzzled but happy, she accepted their gradual withdrawal and instead immersed herself in her new love.

She joyfully signed away her independence, trusting to her new love to keep her safe. The door of his house closed behind her, implacably, impermeable, impregnable.

She quickly learned. A place for everything and everything in its place. Clean and tidy by nature, she realised she must not clean and tidy, without first informing him of her intentions and replacing things exactly where they were. She quickly learned. Fond of reading and music, she realised she must not read in his presence as he required her full attention, every minute of every day. She restrained her love of music until she knew she was alone in the house, and danced, summoning the joy she dimly remembered from months past.

Her intelligence, once an asset, became a burden. Once praised, now ridiculed. She quickly learned. She stifled independent thought and individual opinion. Crushed them down until they crumbled away. Told she was stupid, she began to believe. Told she was untrustworthy, she began to doubt. Told she was pathetic, she began to die.

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Princess Charlotte and the Very Rude Squirrel

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As a corner house in the close, we are lucky to have quite large gardens, the front garden where the (sort-of) rockery is, the side garden where my partner’s pond roses and apple trees are, and the back garden where the shed, garden furniture and herbs live. This part also backs on to a little park, where people walk their dogs, a play area for children and some cherry trees. And a squirrel.

A large, fat, extremely healthy looking squirrel is resident somewhere in this park and he is the absolute bane of my little Princess’ existence.

The first time we saw him, we were out in the garden together, having a gentle stroll around the property, making sure nobody had been digging where they weren’t supposed to. I was just inspecting my white rose bush that was looking distinctly chewed, mainly due to the activities of a colony of leaf cutter bees, I later discovered, fascinated by the way the furry insects scissored away postage stamp sized pieces of leaf – my leaves, actually – and carried them away.

img_9127-2The squirrel in question is actually a grey squirrel, but he declined to be photographed for the purpose of this post, hence the use of my red Poole pottery squirrel ornament as a fill-in…

Meh – meh – meh!”

I turned from my artfully tattered rose bush to see what had aroused Charlie’s anger.

Meh MEH meh!” she called more insistently.

I walked round the corner of the shed and saw Charlie in full Tiger Princess mode, a miniature hunting machine, poised and powerful. Her tail was tinsel – fluffed and every line of her tense little body was aimed towards her target prey … the squirrel.

He was sitting on his haunches, safely on the other side of the fence, cheerfully twirling his whiskers and eyeing Charlie as if to say:

Well, you’re a big girl, aren’t you? Not really my type, but hey … “

And with that he shot up the tree.

Charlie leapt after him, a cinnamon blur, darting through the gap in the fence – we have hedgehogs – and arriving at the base of the squirrel’s tree. It’s an ash tree, so its trunk is smooth with barely any toe or claw holds for anything larger than a squirrel. Yet my little cat is nothing if not brave …

Mmf!”

A strangled, wordless protest fell from my lips as Charlie with all the grace and elegance of a high – wire artiste flew up the vertical tree trunk for a height of about ten feet.

The squirrel, meanwhile, was perched on the first horizontal branch, hurling what can only be described as vulgar insults at my cat:

Yahhh! Fatty! Watch out, big girl, this is only a little tree!”

Charlie decided that it really was most unladylike to stoop to the level of a mere rodent. (“Ha ha! Stoop? You can’t even REACH me!”) She stopped, a look of absolute rage on her face, and carefully backed down the tree into my waiting arms, muttering threats about vulgar peasant squirrels…

Oi! Mind you don’t break a nail, love!”

A couple of days later, Charlie saw the beastly squirrel again, sauntering along as if he owned our garden, not a care in the world. She was sitting on my son’s bedroom windowsill and spotted the furry monster, tail flourishing as he inspected her garden. She actually clattered her teeth with rage, and I’m ashamed to say … I laughed.

_mg_8759“He’s there! I know he is!”

A face – off was inevitable. And it happened … Our garden is quite long, and it just so chanced that the two combatants were in the garden at the right moment for me to see and be rendered utterly incapable. If only I’d had a video camera.

The squirrel had just shinned down his tree and popped through the hole in the fence to have a quick poke round in the flower beds, perhaps for any stray bulbs. He was happily rummaging amongst the clods of soil, back turned towards the other end of the garden, where I was quietly sitting, contemplating the meaning of Life.

_mg_9226-2Random pumpkin… although I suppose it’s month-appropriate!

Now, Charlie isn’t much of an adventuress, unlike Lily. She’s far more a stay-at-home warrior kind of girl, and is consequently quite happy just to have a little walk round the garden, usually with me, do her business and return indoors. This particular day, she had been having a mini-power-catnap, sitting on the bench next to me.

She awoke. Instantly. And spotted the furry grey interloper. Off the bench and on her paws with the grace and skill of the Ninja princess she is and she began to walk, pretty quickly, towards the squirrel.

He stopped rummaging and looked up. Then started walking very carefully and deliberately, towards my cat. She walked a little quicker. So did he. Charlie broke into a run. So did he. These two mighty opponents, cat and squirrel, hurtled towards each other along the garden path.

Spellbound, I held my breath … what would happen? Would they whip lances out of their pockets and unhorse each other? Had the insults and abuse been all for show, would they perhaps fall into each others’ arms and kiss passionately… ?

Neither. They passed so close to each other, their whiskers must surely have brushed, but then at the last minute, they swerved to avoid each other … the squirrel continued barrelling towards me while Charlie carried on the opposite way towards the pond. Then they stopped.

Honour had been served. They had taken part in the age – old battle of feline against rodent, but when it came down to it, didn’t really want to kill each other. A bit like these historical re-enactment societies you see, who re-play all the great battles of this country with smoke bombs and rubber swords.

I’m not entirely convinced that Charlie knows what this squirrel actually is… a large mouse… or a small cat. They still see each other, after this epic confrontation:

All right then, Chubby?”

Why do you always have to be so rude…”

But the close-quarter conflict has never been repeated… Secretly, I think the squirrel rather fancies my little cat.

_mg_8873“These little things – SQUIRRELS – are sent to try us”

Home

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In her day to day life she coped. She managed. In the workplace, her co-workers noted her for her dedication to her job and her determination. No-one knew what lay beneath. At night time alone, alone in her bed, she hungered. The memory of his touch burned her skin and branded her soul. Above, she was as calm as the proverbial millpond.

Occasionally, the passion that simmered beneath burst through like bubbling lava. It manifested itself in outbursts of temper, quite unlike her usual moon-calm self, as sudden and unexpected as a desert storm. Her colleagues noticed.

When she woke from sleep heavy eyed and angry, she could bear it no longer. Never one for the doctor, she had no wish to bare her soul to the kindly old man who had known her since birth, and turned instead to a more “New Age” solution.

Her colleague, a wispy woman who spent most weekends at spiritual events, had taken her aside once, confidingly:

“You’re an old soul, my love… has anyone ever suggested hypnosis to you? Perhaps you have some issues from a past life that need resolving…”

She thanked her colleague politely and gently removed the woman’s hand from her arm.

The idea, however, took root. Waking yet again from another dream where her soul was left yearning for she knew not what, she took matters into her own hands. She researched thoroughly the credentials of each hypnotist she found – she was that sort of person, ordered and methodical. She determined that she would find the cause of this underlying distant unhappiness and eliminate it. It had no place in her life.

Her appointment time arrived and she dressed with care. Comfortable loose clothing and an open mind. The pleasant woman hypnotist welcomed her in and directed her to a padded chair. She sat down and surprisingly, for one who considered herself so strong minded she was there. He was waiting. She was lost in his deep, dark gaze and her body knew him and mourned his passing.

But he was there, arms outstretched and as they enfolded her she went home.

***

The hypnotist panicked. Unable to recall her, she ran for her phone to call emergency services. If she had stayed and watched, she would have seen the woman’s chest cease to rise and fall; the faint smile that curved her lips as she stopped breathing.

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Calcite and Clever Cats

_mg_8943Honey Calcite tumblestones – useful for enhancing confidence, memory and intellect, linked to the Sacral and Solar Plexus chakras, helping to align the two

Calcite is a wonderful, all purpose crystal that comes in a variety of colours – much as cats do – and is a positive reinforcement of beneficial emotions – much as cats are… well at least when they’re in a good mood. Careful placement of calcite throughout the home or work environment ensures a calm flow of energy that circulates, bringing serenity and carrying away stress and negativity.

_mg_8975Aids mental healing, and can dissolve ingrained beliefs and thought patterns. Can stimulate the immune system and absorbs negativity

Calcite improves energy flow and cleanses it at the same time, removing emotions that may have stagnated and linking to the higher consciousness. Calcite is both active and stimulating – be prepared for a burst of physical and spiritual awareness as it encourages spiritual development.

_mg_8961A powerful detoxifier, it can be used to facilitate new beginnings and cleanse and align all chakras

Calcite is found in a rainbow of colours that can work with your chakras, in addition to their metaphysical properties of cleansing and energising both the physical and spiritual bodies and their environments. All the rough pieces pictured have been acid-treated to enhance their colours and give a soft tactile feel to the stone.

_mg_8948Linked to the Base chakra, this crystal increases energy and releases both physical and spiritual blockages

However, although it is an active crystal, it is also stabilising and supportive, encouraging belief in oneself and allowing you to face your fears and formulate solutions to setbacks.

_mg_8938Mangano/Pink Calcite, a stone of forgiveness and love that can release past fears to allow forward progress, linked to the Heart chakra

Calcite calms the mind, allowing clear thought and analysis and establishes a link between emotion and intellect… I have had quite a lot of cats during my life so far, every one of them a joy in their own individual way.

_mg_8983Blue Calcite is gentle and soothing, helps recovery, removes anxiety, lowers blood pressure and enhances communication. It filters and returns positive energy…

However – and this is not just a proud mother speaking – my cat, Charlie, or Princess Charlotte Oddpaw to give her full name and title, is undoubtedly the most intelligent cat I have ever known. Ting, my Siamese, is definitely the sweetest, but she’s not exactly the brightest sandwich in the tool box… I look at Charlie and sometimes I am a little intimidated by the very aware, non-human intelligence she possesses.

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She is self-aware, which is apparently a marker for animal intelligence. This is tested by means of placing something on the animal you wish to test, like a sticky dot, or something, then putting it in front of a mirror, pointing the dot out to the animal, and seeing what happens next. Or something like that. I’m no scientist. (If you want to check… use Google and look for the Mirror Test, developed by Gordon Gallup in 1970).

In the spirit of scientific research, I stuck a little sticker on my cat – obviously not very sticky as it can cause fur trauma – and put her in front of my mirrored wardrobe. I pointed to her reflection, at her shoulder where I had stuck the dot, and said in a horrified tone:

Oh no, what has Mummy done to you?”

She looked at her reflection, looked at me, and delicately removed the sticker with her teeth and dropped it on the floor, her thoughts as plain to see as if she’d written them down…

Stupid woman. Did she really think I wouldn’t notice?”

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Charlie can open doors. With the power of her mind… No, not really… she has very dexterous little paws that she can use to good effect to obtain what she wants. She can hook her paw underneath the fridge, and press the rubber seal so it opens. She knows quite a lot of words – I lost count after twenty – and can even say some of her own.

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For example, she knows to run away quickly if someone approaches her saying:

Does Charlie want a kiss kiss?”

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And yet she will sit, regal and queen-like, as I do homage to her beauty…

Who’s the best cat? Who’s the most beautiful?…” blinking golden eyes, slowly and superbly, secure in the knowledge that we, her people, are putty in her dainty little paws…

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Fluorite and Fur

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Fluorite is one of my son’s favourite crystals. It is a useful and beneficial stone, as varied in its patterns and capabilities as fur, an animal’s natural clothing. Although it is a crystal I have no particular affinity with, I can admire it for its prettiness, much as I love fur… more of that later…!

A typical interpretation of Fluorite is that it is a highly protective stone on all levels. Psychically, it allows you to pinpoint negative outside influences and isolate yourself from them. It can cleanse and stabilise auras and repel negative energies. It enjoys order and will help you overcome disorganisation to promote progress. Consequently it’s a useful stone to have when working in a group as it unites individuals to a common purpose. Fluorite is an excellent learning aid, so very good if for students, (possibly why my son likes it), increasing concentration, quick thinking and the retaining of new information. It is a crystal good for balance, both emotionally and physically.

Different colours of Fluorite, in addition to the general properties also have their own individual qualities. Blue Fluorite enhances creative thought and good communication.

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Clear Fluorite is linked to the crown chakra and can energise the aura. It enhances the other aspects of crystals during healing and is useful when visiting the dentist.

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Green Fluorite absorbs negativity, grounds excess energy and can help relieve emotional trauma.

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Purple Fluorite stimulates the third eye chakra and is beneficial in psychic communication.

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As I said, as varied and beautiful as fur. I love fur, I think it looks better on the animals it was designed for and would NEVER under any circumstances wear or promote the sale or wearing of fur in any shape or form. To this end, I don’t even wear fake fur, sheep skin, leather or animal print fabrics. (Although I must confess to having animal print duvet colours – Charlie likes them as they remind her of her wild heritage…)

My love affair with fur began when I was a little girl. As a treat, my grandmother would let me stroke her mink coat and silver fox fur collar. As a tiny girl, I was entranced by the silky yield of the chocolate mink beneath my fingers, the banded beauty of the silver fox, elegant grey, tipped with black. As a slightly older child:

Nanny, why don’t the animals want their fur any more?” I recall clearly the fleeting look of panic on her face, then a smile as she resolved her answer:

Well dear, the little animals died of old age and didn’t need it any more, so they let me have it as a lovely coat… Let’s go and find you a biscuit!”

As an adult, I can appreciate her not wanting to upset me, but I must repeat FUR LOOKS BETTER ON THE ANIMAL IT WAS MEANT FOR. My girls all have beautiful fur of different shades. Lily and Tooty have Rainbow and Silver Obsidian fur: catch Lily in the sunlight and she turns into a dark chocolate tabby, banded with stripes of burnt gold.

Tooty’s fur takes on an overlay of silver shimmer, revealing a velvet dark undercoat of soft dusky fur.

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I could wax lyrical about Charlie’s fur – she’d love it – but suffice it to say she is the feline form of Tiger’s Eye, ginger, grey, gold, brown, chocolate, biscuit… her fur is the softest and silkiest (we had a trauma with overgrooming due to a stress related stray cat problem – many thanks to the wonderful Marc-André of Katzenworld, who gave me lovely reassuring advice and a link to Castle Vets… a great, useful blog, filled with help on caring for all manner of animals.) and within her textured contours she has an owl, an angel… Her fur is almost like one of those Magic Eye pictures!

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Charlie’s Angel…

My mother’s dog, Erin, is a continent of contrasts: the waterproof layer of her black saddle fur, coarse to the touch yet practical and weather-proof, hiding a wooly warm layer. Her back leg fur is soft yet bristly, protecting powerful muscles, but the fur on her head is soft, close-textured, her ear fur as soft as a cat’s.

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I love animal clothing on its rightful owners, whether it’s the shiny smart hair of a well brushed horse, or the bristly firm skin of a pig. Best of all to me is cat fur – I wear my adornment of shed cat hairs on my clothes proudly, the hair left on me, I count as a sign of their love.

All photographs Copyright © 2016 Alex Marlowe

‘A Picture Says a Thousand Words’

(The featured image is a clear Quartz sphere, said to help with clarity of thought and decision making…)

I had a dilemma this week. A horrid, uncomfortable one, that may to some people sound reasonable, like my craven fear of dentists. My current dentist is lovely, by the way, a softly spoken lady with a touch as light as silk on her dentist’s implements. My son doesn’t quite get my fear, he can empathise, but not understand. However, this particular dilemma was of my own making…

My son’s friend and mentor gave me the mental shove I needed to start writing again. I used to write a lot of poetry when I was younger, filled with angst and self-harm. I enjoyed it though, and I wanted to see if I could still do it. It started well enough, and my son’s mentor actually accepted my submissions for publication, (https://copperstapleblog.com/) mentioning in passing that a photograph would be required.

I conveniently forgot about this until the other day. I don’t like photos. Not generally, I love looking at photos on everyone else’s blogs, there are some lovely ones, I’ve taken some myself (cats and kids) and my son is a more than capable photographer. No, I don’t like having my photo taken.

There are photos of me as a child up to about sixteen, then they stop, apart from the occasional family event where I’ve been caught unawares. I find them upsetting… (Not family events, photos…) There are some when I’m a baby and obviously happy, then a toddler, but at about four years old, just when my parents started having marriage problems, there is an unhappiness in my eyes that perhaps only I can see, but I remember it all too well.

I don’t like having a memory frozen in time and being forced to re-visit that emotion each time I happen across that photo. First day at school photos, normally a proud time for parents, were just another milestone in misery. There are about eight photos in existence of me between fourteen and perhaps sixteen, and of course this was in the 80’s, so I had the awful frizzed hair, thick glasses and hideous fashion sense typical of that era. Still at school, still unhappy. Photos then capture me looking half dead or just plain strange… There are some photos of me with my mother when my oldest son was little. She’s quite a small person, but every time she sees these pictures, she exclaims gloatingly how dainty she is in comparison to my balloon-like frame and gigantic height. I am in fact, a respectable 5’ 7” ¾, and only a little overweight, but her remarks have left me feeling uncomfortable and abnormal.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not vain, I have no pretensions to beauty and I am aware of that. I am perfectly at ease with myself and accepting of what I am. I just don’t like to be reminded of how long it took me to get here and the memories…

Back to the present day. A photo of me was required. My son kindly offered to attempt to take one of me, knowing how unhappy I was about the whole thing and thinking I might be more relaxed with him. WRONG! We tried: writing in the front room. “No! My head looks a weird shape!” Smoking in the kitchen: “No! You can see my double chin!” Sitting at a desk: “No! My arms look fat!” Lying on my bed: “No! I look like a prawn and bald!”

Finally – my son, bless him, has limitless patience and understanding when it comes to his mother’s peculiarities – hit upon the idea of me holding my tabby cat. Although my cat doesn’t look terribly pleased at being used as a prop, my son achieved a photo of me that didn’t make me want to cry or look like a strange-shaped-headed-alien-being with a huge body and gangling limbs.

I look normal. Almost. 

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How I see myself…