Archive for January, 2010

More Plagues!!!

What is it about us I wonder? We’ve had frogs and rats and slugs and spiders and now we have another plague – Blowflies! Can you believe it? We haven’t seen or heard any sign of Mr Whiskers and are daring to hope the cold weather did a good job of either moving him on or sending him on a permanent sleep. My kitchen and drains have never been so clean and hygienic, I  make sure no food or even crumbs are left anywhere in the house and everything is cleaned and sprayed with anti bacterial stuff last thing at night and first thing in the morning. H bought me a really good vaccuum cleaner that’s a whizz to use and deep cleaning so,  theoretically, there is no reason to have vermin. Apart from the fact that they are coming to me a) from the creek behind us and b) other houses also have them, there is nothing here to welcome them.

Then, earlier last week, I opened the kitchen door into the utility area to find at least a dozen HUGE blowflies. Now rats are bad enough but these babies can fly and who knows where they have walked before. The thought then struck me. Maybe Samuel had died and these were the result, but where did they come from? up the outlet pipes to the washing machine? It doesn’t make sense, there is nothing out there, nowhere that doesn’t get cleaned, apart from behind the washing machine and freezer of course, but they do get pulled out and cleaned behind every few weeks, I do that moreso since the rat problem. These flies have been with us for five days now, we kill them, spray them, leave the door open to encourage them to go out and every day there are more. Thankfully, only the odd one or two actually gets into the house and that soon meets its demise. We sit at the ready with fly swat and spray. Also thankfully, I spoke to my neighbour and found she too had them. I was beginning to get a complex, I can tell you.

Since leaving the country I think we have had more problems than you would ever expect. I thought nice clean town, no flies, fewer bugs but no.. the problems seem endless. Our house is clean, I clean daily, sometimes more often yet I have to be constantly vigilant, why? My son and his new baby came over for Sunday so his wife could go and see a show and have a day off, my daughter also came over and we had a lovely day with little interruption from buzzy things. My son is quite a knowledgeable chap so I mentioned that I thought the rat had died causing this fly problem. Now I don’t know whether to be happy or not at his response. He said that they probably had nothing to do with the rat… and there was me hoping it was and that it would be all solved once we had finally got the last fly, then went on to give me the explanation. ‘Hybernation’ says he.

Apparently, these things hybernate in the cold weather, a bit like ladybirds etc. and so as the weather had warmed up a bit they had come out of hybernation. His father in law had gone up into the loft a few days ago and found hundreds buzzing around as he opened the hatch, hence his fathomless knowledge. I suppose it makes sense but why in our utility rooms and where did they hide and how how did they get in there? Surely I would have seen that many? and is my rat friend still there I wonder? So many questions, so few answers. I have heard of St Francis and his afinity with animals, is there an equivalent for pests? I am sure it has to be me if there is… anyone know of a good Pied Piper?

Changing the subject to something more positive than bugs and pests, at the end of our second week of healthy eating I am delighted to blog that H has lost eleven pounds so far and I have lost twelve.. How’s that? brilliant! Harry’s shirt no longer strains at the stitches to hold the buttons done up, he is sleeping better and hasn’t had to take any indigestion tablets. I am much the same as before, although I do have more energy and have been trying to do more walking, it is painful but… and a big but….. I think it is worth it in the long run and eventually it might be easier. I have even been sewing and knitting to try and make my hands more supple. It all helps to give me a sense of achievement. We did have a bit of a slip on Saturday when we had a Chinese takeaway but it hasn’t had a devastating effect on us so that was our treat for last week, back on the vegetables again this week. Now to go and see if I can find some more recipes to keep Harry from wanting the carb and fat saturated food he used to eat.

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It sounds sort of final doesn’t it? Resolutions! Like most people, I make many every year and have every intention of carrying them out. Some I make are so obscure that they sort of happen anyway because they are the kind of things that I want, percieve myself to be or are easy to comply with… you know the sort like being kind to others, helping where you can etc… if we are that kind of person they come easy and I think maybe I have used them as a cop out resolution. Others are the common ones like eat less chocolate, lose weight, exercise more, get up earlier, spend time meditating or have more me time…. and these are the ones that fall beside the wayside time and time again. Trouble is H and I have got to that time in our lives that we cannot carry on and ignore such things. The big 60 has encompassed us! I am as much below as H is above and when we look at ourselves it is obvious we need to look at all those and actually get off our butts and do something about it… it might already be too late but we figure that anything is better than nothing. So our resolution this year was to get fitter, lose weight and exercise more. I do have , of course, others that include allowing myself more time to paint and enjoying each moment for what it is…. For example, my daughter in law driving an hour to visit me bringing my new grand daughter to see me for the afternoon… wonderful!

H and I have been on a combination diet for a week now, I have lost 9 lbs and H, 6lbs…. a good start. What is a combination diet? I hear you ask. Well, because of our age and various health issues, like arthritis etc, I felt we need to address those issues as well as take on board a healthy eating plan. Now, I am totally against the medical profession’s contract with drug companies and forever, whatever the ailment I have had, I have been prescribed some pill or the other to treat it. Fine! but I believe in natural food, natural medicine, and the holistic approach to healing. My reason is simple.. because I rarely eat processed foods and chemical based product like artificial sweeteners, ie fizzy drinks, low sugar products, high fat processed foods –  burgers, sausages, processed meats, pates etc.. when I take a drug that is supposed to help me I get an adverse reaction. I feel sick, dizzy, sleepy, have stomach pains and a miriad of other symptoms that are worse than the original problem so I am prescribed another drug to counteract the original… I see a pattern here. Drug companies making money from people who are  uninformed about natural medicine or, even worse, just want to make money and try and stop natures healing methods from making a market because they would lose out… I know it sounds like I am on my soap box but my experience of prescribed medication has been a painful nightmare. Anyway, I have researched many methods of helping the conditions I have, these include spiritual healing, natural organic foods, avoidance of food that are known to affect certain conditions and taking more of foods that benefit, including supplements like garlic, vitamins and others that support the immune system, and I try to stick to a regime of healthy eating. The combination comes in where I have researched many different methods of, in particular, weight control.

The new year saw the media jump onto the weight problem in the UK and have produced a number of programmes about fat people and how to reduce that weight and become more healthy. It is interesting that these are all average people without other medical conditions, unless caused by their weight problem, that will succeed in following the plans they set for them. So what about people, like myself, who have arthritis in nearly every joint, not because of bad eating habits… ok mabe too much food, but because it is a family trait. My mother has arthritis, my grandmother had it, my brothers suffer from it and my younger sister has the beginnings of it. It runs in the family and even those that are not overweight have the problem. No excuse but combine the weight problem, which also runs in the family, with arthritis and we are unable to do the recommended exercise without considerable pain. So why don’t the companies make a programme especially for people that do have other health issues that make things difficult? I won’t get on my soapbox about companies making money but do wish they would give us fatties in pain a way we can do things without causing more pain. Because of all this I have watched the fat buster programmes and taken on board the issues and advice. I have taken the slimming club programmes and then dismissed the foods that are ‘OK’ to eat that contain artificial sweeteners or flavourings to make them taste good, added my vast knowledge of why the body should be more alkaline to be healthy, what foods help certain conditions, what to avoid totally and how to balance the diet with natural foods and eat plenty of a good diet without feeling hungry. This is a diet that actually regulates your health, can combat diabetes, arthritis, acid problems and so on….

The first week for us looks good and ok we know  it will slow down to a steady weight loss over the weeks but more importantly our bodies will be able to cope with and counteract the diseases of age that might affect us. Today we took a walk along the bay before dinner and it was wonderful. I was unable to walk as far and as fast as Harry but we both did as much as we could manage and felt good about it. The fresh air knocked H out, he who eats so unhealthily much against my suggestions for healthy eating, yet I felt invigorated. OK, I was in a lot of pain but that was all that stopped me from doing so much more. Tomorrow I shall do some more walking even if I need to take painkillers, and gradually build up what I am able to achieve. ok it is a relatively small distance at the moment but look out world! We are doing our best to resolve our present bulky situation and I shall be keeping a diary about it all to help me to build up a picture that will give me a memory for the future.

Here’s to New Year’s Resolutions and success for a healthier future before we get too old to do anything about it or to enjoy it. Will keep my blog posted…

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A day with the family

Having suppressed nearly all the thoughts of Sa… I mean the rodent, I set about doing my Friday housework knowing that my daughter in law was coming over from Midhurst with my youngest grand daughter. I also let my daughter, number seven,  know so she could pop over to see the baby too. Baby Emily and her Mum and Dad, number three,  live in Midhurst which is a good hours drive to us so it is really nice to see them. What a treat to see both my youngest grandchildren together. Maica is two and such an amazing little girl, having lived in Spain for most of her life, is bi-lingual, so clever, I struggle with English sometimes and she puts me to shame. She is also a Scorpio, which means she is very strong willed and already rules the household. How quick they learn to manipulate and how gullible we are as parents that we fall into their trap as easily as wasps in jam, then once caught by the sweetness of their smiles we are caught forever. Blinded by their cuteness and fun things they say. So where does it start?

Take a look at this picture of Emily, taken by Suzi, number seven, and it is sooo easy to see how it all starts. Such a little cutie who already has her Daddy wrapped around her little finger at eight weeks old.

baby beanEmily was so tolerant of being undressed and placed in a bean pod photography prop, bless her. Maica was also well photographed, like daily, and we have a wonderful collection of pictures from the day she was born. She was, however, very young when, as she was being photographed by her Mum, that she told her a very firm ‘no’ and refused to let her take a picture that day. She has since given in and now accepts it as an every day occurrence but that was the beginning of her learning to manipulate her parents. But then, one look at those huge brown eyes and I defy anyone’s heart to melt.

Being a grandparent is a wonderful experience. All the knowledge of parenting you stumbled over and struggled with seems so easy when you are with a grandchild. How good it feels when you can comfort a screaming baby, make a toddler laugh or find an interesting gift for an older child, yet as a mother all these things are often a struggle. The sleepless nights that wear you down as a young mother and the million of other things you have to fit into a day prevent you from enjoying children as much as when you can give them back at the end of a day. I am blessed with fifteen grandchildren so far, number sixteen joins us in July, can you imagine how proud I feel when I look into their little faces and recognise glimpses of either myself or other family members. They don’t necessarily look like them but somehow, from somewhere a look, a smile, a movement, a mannerism triggers a memory of another person and warms your heart. What a precious gift they each are.

Todays entry is simple and just acknowledge a lovely afternoon spent with my two youngest grand children.  To dear little Emily, who fell asleep in my arms and gave me such a wonderful smile making me feel really special and to sweet Maica for the biggest hug and kiss in the world, the first real voluntary one since she moved back from Spain and got to know me as more than a voice on the phone. I don’t see many of the others that often and rely on the internet and photos to keep me in touch. What would I have done before internet and email? I have grandchildren in Switzerland, Florida, Hastings, Midhurst and here in Gosport. Maica is the closest and just down the road and I get to spend a lot of time with her, I appreciate each moment I spend with them and all the lovely pictures and stories their Mummies send me and even though they are miles away,  the others are no less precious and I just think I am a very blessed Grandma.

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Samuel Whiskers himself!

This entry is not for the faint hearted and serves to make me feel soooo guilty you would never believe. Today the documents came from the drain people telling us all about our drains, good for the house details if we ever move, but along with the details were the pictures of our nice, clean, well kept drains …. good old green cleaning! but I digress… the other picture included was of Samuel Whiskers himself, sitting boldly in the pipe, posing for the camera if you please and if you look at the snap, you will see exactly why I feel so guilty.

I swear he is smiling sweetly, ok the picture isn’t great but you can definitely see his little face quite clearly and he must be quite big because the pipe is four inches in diameter. So why do I feel guilty? I actually like the little creatures and even though they carry such disease and this one, bless him/ or her, has caused a lot of damage in my loo, since having seen its sweet little face, how can I wish it dead? It is one of those situations where the inevitable has to happen and I have to try and blank the thought out of my head. Now I have ‘met’  him I have a connection to him, one of God’s small creatures.

I think Beatrix Potter has much to answer for. My children had all the little books and every night at least one of them was read. I remember doing a lesson in the school I worked in on Samuel Whiskers. These little characters, captured so perfectly in a book, also captured my heart. When we lived in the country, we kept chickens, rabbits and guinea pigs among other things and rats were all around us along with all the other adorable creatures like hedgehogs, foxes, badgers, peacocks, owls. The rats grew to a great size if we neglected to keep them under control but I wasn’t a part of that. I remember one day, and I’m not sure if I have told this story before, but as I looked through the kitchen window my youngest daughter was sitting quietly in the garden, talking away to what I thought was an imaginary friend, until that is, I became curious and went to investigate. The conversation went something like this.

‘Who are you talking to?’….. ‘My friends’  … ‘Oh that’s nice, who are your friends, love?’ … ‘Come and see Mummy.’            I ventured over to have a look expecting to see little play people or something but no, there beside her were several… yes you guessed it, baby rats and she was stroking them and chatting away. Luckily I wasn’t afraid of them but my job now was to remove her from them without giving her a fear of small animals. So many thoughts went through my head… disease, germs, the mother, oh my God, where were the parents?! They would be so cross and protective. Calmly I picked her up at which the ratlings scattered back undeneath the shed from whence they came and luckily there seemed no sign of mummy rat.

I scrubbed her hands thoroughly, changed her clothes and gave her a bath. It took me a long time to explain that even baby rats and even if they are your friends, they still have germs. So you see my dilemma? Here in front of me is a little blurry picture of this little furry creature looking at me. What on earth do I do now? I think I am going to have to put the picture away and try and get the image out of my head, call my builder friend and ask about the disused pipe he lives in… No Silly, Samuel Whiskers, not my friend. Why do small creatures have to be so damn cute?!

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Holy Cat!

Since the weather decided to be real winter for a change and cover the world in a blanket of snow (hopefully killing off all those bugs that be get because our winters are so mild) our two cats, Alfie and Shadow,  have turned into pussies. I know, I know, they are pussies! but, unlike most cats, who are perfectly happy going out in all weathers even just for a pee, they didn’t leave the house until yesterday, after a little persuasion from yours truly, having been indoors since the snow first fell. Following the bed incident, a litter tray, normally reserved for poorly cats that I want to keep indoors, was brought into use. Most of the snow had melted, particularly in my garden, so I sent the ‘boys’ out to do the business. Alfie, a giant furball of a cat, spent a good hour or more tiptoeing outside making sure this alien white stuff had indeed gone so I called him back in. It was a happy cat that ran back inside and I patted myself on the back for showing him there was nothing to be afraid of… he is a bit of a scaredy cat, but, and in true feline form and dispelling all my self congratulatory satisfaction, he shot inside and ran to the litter tray for a pee! Failed, utterly failed!

Shadow on the other hand, a sleek, black, affectionate but never the less still a nervous cat and litter brother to Alfie was ok to go out. He’s a bit of a tough guy, a hunter and bringer of unsavoury gifts and an amazing fishercat. Despite netting the pond to protect my poor fish, he would still sit on the edge watching and licking his lips, so imagine his delight to find the pond completely frozen and covered over with a very thick sheet of ice. On investigating why he wasn’t coming in when called Harry discovered him on the pond and triumphant at being able to reach the middle and actually sit there, he looked extremely pleased with himself. I suspect for all his watching though, he was unable to catch sight of any fish because no doubt they were hiding in the weeds and fairly dormant in the cold beneath the ice. I wonder what they thought  of it all? And was Shadow hoping that by sitting on the ice it would melt a fishing hole?

Anyway, you get the idea of the title? Take my Harry and the situation and he comes in with a serious look. ‘What’s up?’ asks I,  ‘Well’,  says he thoughtfully, ‘I think Shadow has gone religious.’ Now not knowing what on earth he was talking about and had no links in my brain to connect the two I did a silly thing, I asked what he was on about.  ‘He thinks he is God.’ My puzzled look prompted the explantation and the answer of which came as he pulled me toward the garden and showed me a proud cat watching the pond. ‘See? He thinks he can walk on water!’  How do I put up with it I ask myself… Still you have to laugh.

The snow is beautiful but for me I was trapped in my house having not been outside for over a week and having a particularly nasty flare up that prevented me walking hardly at all let alone attempting to walk on the slippery pavements, I was glad to see a clear pavement to walk on. The few degrees that the temperature has risen has eased my pain slightly and today I am going to attempt to walk along to the shop and hope my back doesn’t give out before I get there, or at least give me time to get back home. But I don’t complain about the snow, that is what winters should be like, always used to be like when I was a child, and I am looking forward to seeing if the story from old gardeners is true, that there are less bugs to devastate my hard efforts in the garden.

Then of course, there is my rat problem. Having discovered that there is only one single rat living quite happily in the less than metropolis quarters of the drainage pipes, although I felt sorry for it, I couldn’t help seeing the pipes covered in ice and snow hoping he would find a quiet and peaceful end. Failing that, I have another battle to try and remove him without encouraging his family to move in. A word with my builder friend I think. We were so pleased to find out that the pipe work was fine that the thought of Mr Whiskers being there wasn’t so bad, especially having seen him on camera and knowing he was just resident not visiting from another complex somewhere, sussing the place out for his mates. Still a lot of work though, making sure that no food , cat or otherwise, was left anywhere and all packet food is also kept in tins and boxes was bad enough but now making sure no food residue gets through the dishwasher, or the kitchen sink either, is a nightmare. Something we rarely thought about before.

Ah well, what is life without it’s challenges? I just hope that the pond ice melts quickly and becomes water again before Shadow tries walking on it and falls through. Off to see how far I get on my little walk…

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A Catastrophe – with apologies to teenage daughter!

A loud aggressive wail sailed down the stairs and battered my ears. I’d only just sat down having cleared the kitchen after our evening meal and was looking forward to just vegetating in front of the ‘box’.

‘One of those ‘bl****’ cats has peed on my bed.’

Well, it wasn’t quite as polite as that and I laughed. Maybe I shouldn’t have but whatever caused the onslaught of verbal abuse, it just caused us to fall about laughing more. The problem was that her B/F was due to arrive at any moment and now she had to change her bed. I should be doing it, and probably would had she asked me to lend a hand but no, I dug my heels in.

‘It’s your fault! they are your cats! it your house! I am behind now and J is coming…’ and everything you can imagine was hurled down the stairs along with sheets, duvets and covers, for me to wash no doubt. The best bit was when she said, ‘ I don’t know why you’re laughing, it wouldn’t be so funny if it happened to you.’ I reminded her of a time when our cats were new and still fairly small. We were about to go bed and Harry had got to the point of falling into bed when he noticed a dark patch in the bed. He cleverly missed the bed and landed on the floor. No mean feat for a big man. Yes, one of the kittens had crawled in the bed and peed. After the intitial surprise we started laughing. You know the sort of laughter that won’t let go of itself and the more you try stop the more you laugh. And the jokes and thoughts that kept coming up made us laugh more and more. Long after we had dealt with it and returned to bed, if we woke in the night the laugh continued. We remember it with a smile still, four years later.

I reminded her of this but was met with the retort that ‘they were only small and hers was a big puddle and anyway they are our cats, this was far more serious because it was her bed!’  Oh my dear, serious, dramatic daughter! Once we had sorted it out and cleaned everything and put a new duvet and fresh linen on the bed, I suggested she need to take life far less seriously. Her B/F was as amused at her reaction as we were. Bless her, if that is the only catastrophe she has to deal with she will have led a charmed life. She blamed the pregnancy hormones and I just shook my head, she has much to learn about dealing with the unexpected while still carrying on as normal. I am so looking forward to seeing how she copes in her own home and try not to snigger as I think of some of the things that I have had to deal with in mine… Still, there has to be a lot of writing material in that thought.

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from snow to icicles

For many people the wintry weather is difficult to cope with and I think we can all understand the difficulties. Walking with ice underfoot is such a problem and especially, like me, it is difficult to get footwear that will support such a venture. Today my daughter struggled to get to work. The only nursery open in such extreme weather conditions meant that she had to go to work. The buses weren’t running, cars slid along, trapped in frozen ruts from other vehicles, and taxis, shame on them but understandable, were charging double for a ride, yet were all fully booked. It took a series of phone calls to eventually find someone who had got one… two hours late for work and who was able to do a round up to collect those that couldn’t get to work.

That aside, I watched from my window those people that would normally be driving to where they needed to be. I saw people who struggled with a journey that would have been a short walk. I watched as elderly people trod the ice on their daily walks, I watched guys digging their cars from ice covered coffins. Trying their best to extricate their vehicles from the iced snow only to find the tyres frozen to the ground…. I watched and from the warmth of my home I saw people helping other people who might never have spoken and I saw people I never knew lived in my road. How wonderful it was to see that everyone, who normally carried on their lives oblivious to those who walk past, being concerned about the more vulnerable, or going to the aid of someone who was slipping on the ice. to put faces to car owners and people who lived nearby.

I confess, that although I watched as people did their wonderful deeds, I also watched as the warm winter sun began to melt the snow on the roofs, especially on our shed, and I watched as icicles grew from small drips melting in the sun and were captured as they ran into the shade. A drop of water frozen in time, in time and in time, to form an icicle. A second in time frozen, added to and added to, until a long icicle hangs from the roof with each drop a memory in its beautiful rooftop adornment.

How sentimental am I and how ‘airy fairy’ my kids call me but I accept, that is me… there is a beauty in everything if only we seek to find it. Too often we close our eyes to what is before us. There is no charge for what we perceive and enjoy without realising. the snowflake, the icicle, the sunset/sunrise, the child playing, snowmen, clouds… I  could go  on, but until we realise that it is in the small things that we will find ourselves and be able to place ourselves in this world, we will be lost and struggling to find out who we are. Can anyone fail to feel the insignificance of man when faced with a mountain, or feel the freedom when sitting on top of a big hill in the wind, see the beauty in a cloud formation that touches us, notice the emotion that surrounds us in the atmosphere on a stormy day, feel the energy of a rough sea, the warmth of the sun on our skin….

Where am I going with this entry? I think that I am trying to touch our little insignificant lives with the world around us. The insular lives that are watched through a window and that only connect when we are sure others need our help are the lives that are lonely. What happened to those that chatted regardless of prior knowledge of another person, that cared if a neighbour was warm enough, had enough to eat, needed to go somewhere… In our world it no longer exists. It is viewed through a window and talked about behind closed curtains, yet God, or life if you feel that way, offers many opportunities every day to connect to others that could appreciate the help and could maybe offer something in return. Who knows what? an encouragement, a smile, gratitude that lifts our spirits or maybe just a connection to that part of us that could so easily be forgotten, frozen in time like the ice that covers our world at the moment….

I will continue to people watch through my window and take photographs of that which is beautiful to me but I shall also pray that the wonderful connection between poeple that are in need, spreads further and beyond the curtained window and thoughts of those watching  and opens into the world around us, the world that touches our subconscious yet is trapped, like frozen moments in time, unable to reach out and become manifest into the world that is real because today’s world has enclosed us into little hard icicles of the unemotional, afraid to veture into the unknown for fear of what is portrayed for fear of rejection, for fear what could happen  The media has so much to answer for, let us all go back to what we really feel deep within ourselves.  caring … love…. awareness……. see the world around us and notice that everything has a purpose and a reason, including us and the thoughts we keep to ourselves. ( for Laurence and Mary)

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