Archive for June, 2009

A week off.

This will probably be the last entry until after my holiday. I am kind of excited and kind of in expectation of withdrawal from the internet. I spoke to the owner of the cottage we are staying at and she did assure me that some of the children there and managed to get a broadband signal and therefore the internet. I think I said before somewhere, everyone who is even slightly technophobic needs a small teenager, preferably between the ages of 12 and 16. If I could pack one in my bag I would. These amazing aliens have a gift of ‘just knowing’ how to get computers to do their stuff. But sadly as this is a grown up holiday, a writing holiday for both of us, I can’t even bring a grandchild; they’d be bored anyway. All I can hope for is a family with afore-mentioned small people who like doing things like connecting old folk to the internet, staying in a neighbouring cottage.
I am however looking forward to the countryside, catching up with some of my mother’s old friends from childhood; [hehehe now I find out who my mother really is,] photographing and painting the amazing scenery in Cornwall and doing a lot of talking to people and poking about in towns that match my vision for my next book. I also hope to be doing a lot of writing too.
Our suitcases are packed, lists all ticked off, house cleaned, laundry done and all that remains is tonight’s meal, instructions for the young people taking over our house to be written and to pack my trusty laptop, which is why this entry is a little earlier.
I hope to have a great week and wish the same to everyone else. I shall be keeping a diary so will pick the best to share with those that might want to read it. Till next weekend, lots of love. Marie xxx

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Grown up kids

It has been such a busy day today, we are off on holiday on Saturday and I am so looking forward to it. Today I have cleaned, changed the bed linen, done the laundry and packed most of what we need and probably an awful lot of what we don’t. Tomorrow comes the most difficult task of all. Leaving instructions for the children! What on earth do I put? OK they are in their twenties but you would never think that…’ I shall be far too busy to do housework’ ‘ I do have a life you know’. A million thoughts went through my head… like all the times I came in from work at 9pm and still had to cook a meal, make sure everyone had clothes to wear, the house was tidy, cats fed…. Mind you on occasion my daughter would surprise me having cooked a meal. ‘See you are capable,’ says I and shut my mouth firmly in case I say something that might give her a reason not to do it again. I have learned to say things like ‘Aww that is so good of you, thank you, love.’ and really mean it.

I remember the last time we went away about three years ago, we came back to a spotless house. I was really gobsmacked, I walked round for ages wondering if they’d got a cleaner in. It was a few days later when I went to move the settee and found a beer can and bits of popcorn down behind it, And the bin was full of cans and bottles from that sweet vodka drink the kids like. So the innocent looks were not so innocent. I can hear them laughing and patting themselves on the back in congratulations for hiding all the evidence. They must thinks mothers are stupid or something but to give them their due, they had done well and apart from that the place was in pristine condition and I could relax for next time. Call me cautious and even allowing for the fact they were still teenagers then and have grown up a lot since so theoretically they will be even more sensible, but this time I have friends to call by and check they are ok. I haven’t said anything to them yet, silly to have an argument before we go isn’t it.

But the the kids will always be the kids, even if they were thirty odd and I shall always be the mum. They never cease to amaze me though, just when I am ready to hold my hands up in despair they come up with some wonderful little gems. I nearly fell through the floor when the youngest asked to borrow something of mine instead of taking it, then having bought myself a new top she admires the colour and says wait a minute and tries it on, places a belt round the middle and looks absolutely gorgeous. Now anyone who knows me knows I am, well shall we say ‘extremely cuddly’ well that’s putting it mildly, and my daughter is a size 14, and I thought my clothes were safe…. I think not. Shame I can’t fit into anything of hers, mind you she has got a lovely selection of make up…. half of it is probably mine any way so I am sure she wouldn’t mind if I just borrowed some…. It has to be payback time now, surely!

Now back to my list…. feed the cats, make sure you lock up securely if you go out, load and start the dishwasher, the vacuum is under the stairs,water the garden if it is dry, …. Nah I shall just leave it and see just how far this responsibilty goes. My theory is that if I treat them like adults they will probably behave like them…. So perhaps my list will go something like this… there are dinners in the freezer, cat food in the cupboard, plenty of milk, a list of numbers to call if they need anything, oh and if you are not to busy playing games on the computer do you think you could water the pot plants in the garden… please… Well you never know.

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How do they know?

Following the death of Old Puss something really quite amazing happened today. I have no idea how cats transmit their messages to each other, be it telepathy or something we have no idea about. Maybe they see things we don’t. It started when Feival-Bob moved in with us, our two young cats took an instant disliking to him and left home. We called, went looking for them, managed to coax them in only to have them run again as soon as the door was opened. Eventually, Mouthy Alfie – he with the question mark tail and plenty to say for himself – made friends with the old fella and they were more or less OK. They’d greet eachother when they came in and feed together. Slinky Shadow, refused and the old fella, sensing his anxiety around him, would chase him off at the earliest opportunity. I was at my wits end and and had no idea what to do, my poor little black puss was living rough and barely ate a thing if we did manage to get him in. I felt guilty because I couldn’t leave the old cat to be put into a rescue centre, at his age and health I doubt if would have been re-homed and he belonged to us. It must have been hard for him to come to the town from the country and he couldn’t get out of the garden for the arthritis in his back legs and he had very poor eyesight too, so I guess he sort of ruled the garden. The cat next door was ok to come in but no other cats, including our own little men. How did he know? What did he know?
Anyway, the morning of Feival’s passing, Harry went off to work at 5.30 as usual and there to greet him at the back gate was ….. Shadow. He walked back in the house with no fear, demanded food which he ate up, amazing because he was the fussiest eater ever and we have tried every food on the market to get him to eat, took residence on Tabby’s bed had a good nap and kept me company for the rest of the day. He’d come home!
Something told him that it was safe to come home on the exact day that Feival died, within a few hours from midnight to the morning. Not even a time when Feival would have been outside at all. Did he sense it? Did he sense our sadness even from where ever he was? What is it that cats can do that we as people can’t? I feel so guilty that he had been living rough and yet here he was filling the space that Feival had left and acting like he had never been gone. Bless him. He isn’t the same as Feival, his engine is much quieter, we could hear Feival purr as soon as we came into the room, Shadow is more dominant and demanding whereas Feival was quietly patient, waiting for us to give him our time. He cannot replace all the years we all had with the old fella but it is wonderful to have his company again.
The house no longer feels so empty, ok it was for just a short while but never the less even that short catless time all served as a reminder of how much pleasure, love and company our feline friends give us and just how independant and how many decisions the cats can make for themselves. Needless to say, I am delighted equilibrium has been restored among the felines and to our home and I will never regret giving our old Feival his last year in the comfort of our home and with our love. I just wish I knew how they do what they do…

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To our furry friends

It is with great sadness that I write today, at midnight last evening our old puss, Feival-Bob, named by my children when they were small, went to join his brother/ playmate Salem-Jim.  Feival was just over fourteen years old, a country cat because we always lived deep in the country in farm villages miles from anywhere. He came to live with us when my ex husband moved to Spain and was unable to take the cat with him. We’d got Feival from my sister when her daughter was born, no my niece wasn’t anything to do with the cats apart from she was born at the same time.  My children grew up with him. Today the hardest part was taking him on his last journey to the vets.Then coming home after the healing service we attended to a home where there was something missing. The last time I felt like this was the day after my father in law died. Bless his heart, he was always worried if he died in the night that we wouldn’t know what happened to him. I believe he hung on until we went in to do our night check on him before he slipped away, even though we were late to bed that night, and we had precious minutes with him to say what we needed to say before he just faded into the spirit world. Feival did much the same. I heard him coughing, which wasn’t unusual because he had been so poorly, but he made another sound which wasn’t usual and I went downstairs. I think as I got there he was passing, as I stroked his head he moved and his face quivered and I knew. I was able to tell him it was ok to leave us, that his time had come and I loved him, then he was still. Today there was a silent space where he used to be… how do you explain that ? He was a wonderful pet, tolerant, so friendly, always purring and a big part of all our lives. He took such a small space but that space is noticably empty now that he is gone. I miss him so much….

It is still hard even knowing what I know, that the spirit lives on. Despite my firm belief in life going on, the human part of me still grieves for the loss of someone that is important to me. Did I do enough? was I good enough, so many thoughts and questions. Then I got to being rational and thought that it doesn’t matter what we think at any point, those are our emotions, our insecurities, our fears; what is important is the way we make other people think, our influence on the world around us. It all goes back to my favourite story about the pebble in the pool. If we scowl at others we give off negative vibes that recreate in the next person who comes in contact with the person we scowled at… So the same happens with a smile… we might brighten someone’s day. Why cause a chain reaction of  anger, misreableness, judgement by offering a scowl when a smile would send warmth and love and maybe change a whole day in a positive way for everyone we smile at…

So when I question whether we were good enough for our puss, I look at his love, his trust and his loyalty. He never questioned what mood we were in, he would come up and purr such a loud purr and just love us, no matter what. Ok most of it had to do with food but well that’s cat nature! He  still never judged us, he just accepted that we were there for him. Isn’t it a shame that we as people cannot do the same, we have to give labels! Well Feival, lesson learned and I thank you for being my friend and companion, playmate to the children when they were small, the best listener in the world and the biggest purrer so that we knew you loved us too. We have a lot to learn from you my little furry friend, thank you so much for being a special part of our lives. Happy freedom and youth in the next world …

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Dreams do come true.

I had just come back from visiting a friend to return a book she had lent me and decided, as I had sadly finished the latest novel I was reading, to do some writing instead. I checked my emails as I always do and first of all I had confirmation of a suggestion I made to the lady who runs our writer’s group, to invite a wonderful writer friend of mine to come and give a talk at our monthly meeting. It will be a great evening I just know it. Olivia Fane is an accomplished writer and published author. Her latest book ‘God’s Apology’ sits proudly on my shelves and I wait for the next one which I have on good authority, is now complete and soon to be published.

Anyway in the same email I was asked if I would like to join with our group leader and establish and run a writer’s group for 8year olds in a local school library. I cannot think of anything else I would rather do in the whole wide world. I have been praying so hard for something that will give me some sort of fulfillment outside of home and this is just perfect and a chance to use the teacher training I did before I had to give it all up. Thank you to all my angels and spirit helpers who heard me, time for a bit of resource finding and research methinks.

It has made me feel so proud to be asked but more than that it has confirmed my philosophy about being positive. It has been so hard sometimes, especially on days when I have found great difficulty and pain in doing anything. I have worked on being positive and have been saying to myself that it is only a matter of time and something will come up. And then this happens… I try the same with the arthritis… one day it will be better, I refuse to believe this is it for the rest of my life.  I felt so low when I allowed negative thoughts to dominate me and drag me down so this is definitely the one thing that tells me I am right…. Just got to convince the soapbox complainers that surround me to think nice thoughts now, even though the world around them might be negative. Hey if this can happen to me then who knows what else I might achieve. I am the one who believes in fairy tale endings and dreams come true and nobody can possibly burst that bubble now, even if it doesn’t happen, someone thought enough of me and my work to ask me.

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Images for the paintbox

Maybe the title should be colouring books, I don’t know. Today I missed the wonderful opprtunity for a captured image to paint… We drove to Lee on the Solent to test a new sat nav for speeding cameras. Origianally we had one that beeped loudly as we got near one but then as updates came along the sound disappeared and we had only a minute picture on the screen that, as a driver, you would never see safely….Therefore we bought a different sat nav on offer for half price. Still no vocal warning, nothing, apart from a flash across the upper part of the screen… grrrr. nevermind. ABut, as we were on the journey we drove along the sea front and for me the image was amazing. I have rarely seen so lovely an image, so co ordinated the colours. The sky, heavy with rainclouds, was in layers of dark gray and the brightest white. Below the brightest clouds lay the Isle of Wight, a patchwork of dark and light with the misty effect of rain ghosting parts of the silhouetted towns. The beaches of the island across the Solent were a strip of dark green but the sea was a magnificent shade of green. On the sea were coloured yatchs with snow white sails, a jet ski trailing white horses behind it as it wove among the waves and a dog, a dark spot in the water,as it paddled near the shore. Why Oh why is it when you see something beautiful you have never remembered to bring the camera?

I watched the film ‘Potter’ yesterday and that too gave me such wonderful inspiration. It is time to get my paintbox out again. It has been so long since I painted having given my time over to writing. To me writing is painting in words but there is no substitute for paintbox and paper, apart from a camera that is, in order to capture what we see in our mind’s eye. Tomorrow unfortunately is housework day but Tuesday…. I will let you know what happens, as long as my stories get written too.

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Triffid

My garden is like a haven to me, it is laid out neatly as low maintenance as possible. It has a pond and shed a little water feature… well its a drain tank for the concrete path actually so I put a water pump in it and got my talented number 3 son to stack a load of stones up for the water to trickle through… at the moment it is a little forceful to say the least, it blasts the top stone off in an orbit of the garden at warp factor eight at least,  and I’d lose all the water if it was left running but you get the idea. The paths are pea shingle with stepping stones, small raised beds either side and a patio area with a stone BBQ  and the washing line…. so neat. I have planted everything in tubs to avoid the snail massacre, that means me massacreing them. I have become a heartless murderess, especially as I inspect my precious Hostas day and night then to come down in the morning to find something has dined exceptionally well on their succulent leaves. They are pretty stupid creatures though, they think they can hide in their little shells by sticking to the fence or the wall nearby but I know their little secrets. Harry is all for the salt treatment but I think that is downright cruel and that it is far quicker and humane to meet a sudden end under a wellie. hehee see how hard a woman I have become, I have had many a man turn up their noses and shudder unable to even think of it …. It must mean I have an alkaline soil to have more snails than slugs….. and apart from the massacre ritual it is all growing so well.

When we first moved in here I had a very small spiky plant , well I had two but one met its end for some unknown reason, this one stayed in its pot but failed to thrive very well so I decided to plant it in the garden to see if it would grow better. To our joy it did, but then it never stopped. It grew and we thought ah lovely, it grew some more and we thought ok, we could cut it down if it gets too big then once it had grown nearly as tall as us it became Harry’s ‘baby’. It is now over 8 feet tall. Earlier back in May there appeared a strange alien type thing that sprouted from the top, that too grew and grew until this huge growth decided to droop over the path and sprout millions of tinywhite flowers. If I spread my arms wide I would not reach the sides of it. I spoke to a horticulture friend of ours and he did some research, it appears to be a Cordyline Australis and is set to grow to over 30 feet…. So much for a little pot plant, when we bought it the guy was so careful about telling us how to nurture it, maybe I should have it might have stayed a baby longer. This is definitely of triffid ancestry, here threatening to take over the whole of my garden. I swear it has secret lives too. As you walk by it there is a loud buzzing and gets louder if you touch it. Either it is communicating with outer space or there are things lurking in there totally invisible from view. Not sure which I prefer really.

Right next to it is some fennel which was also pretty paltry to look at from the time I planted it and earlier this year I nearly dug it up in disgust after it failed to grow more than one frond since last year. The triffid has spoken! the fennel is now only half the size of the tree and still growing… What is going on out there. I only hope that the seeds and plants I am growing take heed and produce something edible of a reasonable size…. I’d have a word with the triffid but I really don’t want to get on a wrong footing with it. Who knows what could happen out there.

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