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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Snow, snow and more snow!

I wasn’t sure what I would wake up to this morning, after all, yesterday’s snow was such a joy and usually it is very short lived, so it was with great pleasure I saw that it was still white outside. I know to a lot of people it is an awful thing that causes a lot of problems and I do feel I am one of the people that is trapped indoors to a certain extent, but it does look so lovely and it changes the way we do things. Sometimes it is good to revaluate our place in this world and I feel that when we are prevented from doing the normal daily tasks, like going to work, walking to the shops and so on, it gives us time to think.

Every day I watch people walking past my house on their way to work, college, school or to the shop. Today it was different. Cars still drove up the road but because of the deep snow and sludge, the traffic was slower, more cautious and a lot fewer cars on the road. I note though, that the taxis were the only vehicles to still hurtle at speed over the hump in the road outside my home, despite the dreadful underwheel conditions!!! People were the interesting focus of my observations though. Children were off school so the mums and dads were missing from the walk past my house but students, still expecting to be at college walked by but today they returned having got to college just down the road and discovered it was closed because the tutors weren’t getting in. They were gathering snow and making snowballs on the way back and throwing them at people walking the street. It was interesting to note that my 19 year old daughter banged on the window because they were doing it to random passers by, ‘because’ as she said, ‘they were making a nuisance of themselves.’ When did our offspring suddenly become the parents?…

Anyway, people walked by as usual, some much more cautious, some hanging onto a friend, others strode with confidence as it nothing was different and one person was jogging by as if today was the same as any other day. I got to wondering, what is it that makes us who we are. Do we walk through life in the same way? I thought about the categories I like to put things in, my little boxes! There are those that plod along the same as ever, day by day, life always the same. There might be a little difficulty so we walk with a bit of extra support, like the man who lives opposite who today, walked with two sticks instead of one. The person who felt unsteady so held onto a friend, another who stepped every step slowly and cautiously but still did the same as they did everyday. The jogger who wasn’t going to let anything change their life in any way and me, who rarely goes out anyway, just sitting by my window and watching.

Most of us don’t let anything get in the way of our lives and even though the weather stopped many from going to work, life still carried on much the same for the majority of people. For me, I was grateful for the opportunity to do more watching. Not just the people but the snow itself. How quickly it changed from moment to moment. Heavy one minute, watery the next, fine and powdery a moment later. I took photos of each moment, drifting snow covering the back of the house, laying snow on plants and fences, heavy snow in the air, fine snow melting on the window and I remembered other times when snow touched our lives. When my children, now grown, built snowmen. I delighted to see they still do as adults, and snow angels! ok, my son made a joke about doing it naked now he is thirty something, but I remember when they were small and first watch ‘the little matchgirl’ where they first learned to make them.

I remember the times when I was small and houses never had central heating. Pipes froze and streets were without water so it was the children’s job to go and collect buckets of water from stand pipes in the road in the next street. I remember heating pennies in the stove and pressing them into the ice patterns on the windows to make peepholes to look out across the snowy garden, mixing sugar and milk and placing it in bun tins with sticks to make iced lollies in the days when we never had a fridge, let alone a freezer. I rememer linoleum floors that were so cold that we froze when we got up too early wanting to play and it taking ages to get warm when we climbed back into bed. Books became an important part of childhood because it was too cold for anything else, ahh those memories.

Today I welcome the snow because as a would be gardener I listen to the tales from old gardeners. ‘ We don’t have cold winters any more’ and  ‘it will kill the bugs in the garden’. I laugh. Everyone has their story, me? I just hope my rat friend will meet a cold but quick demise but meanwhile, I shall sit and watch the world around me and watch people making their own memories in the snow knowing that everything is happening as it should and that even though today might be difficult, we still have lessons learned from the past to fall back on, friends to get us by and a brighter future when everything is back to what we expect every day to be. Snow is beautiful, difficult too sometimes but if we all take a moment to stop and reflect we will find even more magic than we can see in each snowflake that falls, magic that never melts away because it remains as a memory, a reminder of another place and another time and a reminder that life does go on, no matter what.

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2010…a Whole New Year to enjoy!

It has been so long since I posted. The whirlwind of Christmas preparation and family life seemed to take over and overwhelm me but today, five days into the new year, I have found time to come back to being me! How wonderful is that. As everyone left for work and the house was silent I lazed in bed, knowing full well that I had to get up in case the ‘drain man’ arrived before I was dressed. Yes! you are right, the saga of the rats in the loo still prevails. But before I wander in the bowels… pardon the pun, of my sewer, a greater emergency yanked me from my horizontal lazy ponderings… Alfie cat decided to vomit beside my bed then wander across the room just to spread it further. Ugh! 

The trouble with my cats is that, over Christmas they became accustomed to delightful delicacies fresh from the kitchen, which they enjoyed tremendously. Now the ‘boys’ are notoriously difficult to please and we have exhausted the shelves of all the local supermarkets trying to find a cat food they will eat. Just when we think we have cracked it, they go off it and refuse to eat it. Imagine what fresh food did for them! well I imagined their thoughts easily. ‘And what do you think this is?’ ‘You want me to eat what?!’ Once again we work our way through packets of food only to throw them out the next morning. A battle of wills ensued. Who is going to give in? Us or them? Those big yellow sad eyes of the ‘starving’ cat who has to eat such awful stuff. The fear they will go hungry. The guilt because we ask ourselves, ‘are we good pet owners?’

Suppertime and Alfie places a paw on the table and looks longingly up at me. Shadow sits on the dresser opposite Harry watching him eat, watching for that moment a morsel of ‘real’ food comes their way. We decide not to give in and feel triumphant when they eat with gusto, the food we finally think they like… Until, that is, the rude awakening this morning. Was this my punishment for giving him cat food? Ah well, back to the guilt trip!

At 9am, as promised, the drain men come along. I explain carefully that it isn’t the rats that are the problem but more to the point was how they were getting in and chewing through the pipes into our downstairs bathroom on a regular basis. Our heads filled with nightmares of fractured pipes and diggers removing the concrete paths in the garden etc. So having ressured them that we were concirned for the drains they open the manhole to place a cctv camera up the pipes. The poor man nearly fell in when as he opened the cover, our rodent friend darted from one pipe into another… Well, at least he knows we aren’t exaggerating. Unlike his version of the size of the creature! I have seen these fellows myself and they represent little more than a large mouse size. When we lived in the country we had decent sized ones that would never have fitted into the pipes let alone lived in there! These are small black creek rats, come to the houses for some warmth, quite cute and cheeky really but sadly the health hazard and damage done to our toilet and sewer meant we had to deal with them. I was delighted to find that the sewer and pipes were in perfect condition. All work previously carried out on the the advice of Sam, the environmental health pest control man, and yes we are on first name terms, meant that no rat could come up the sewer and that Samuel Whiskers here, was resident within the pipes and caught on camera. Thankfully for us, he was only one, sadly for him he must be lonely. We have to be hard here.

Harry, as you all know, is totally intolerant of anything that moves and is smaller than a cat, coupled with the intolerable smell of dead rat somewhere impossible to find beneath the floorboards before Christmas and the gifts of several from the cats within a few days of the drain being capped, meant his tolerance was zero. He came home with some viscious looking alligator traps which I duly baited with a cracker and peanut butter but which Mr Whiskers duly ignored… so you can see my predicament and the one thing that has dominated my life for several weeks. Still at least I know I am only fighting one now…. Woman versus rat! and I know who is going to win!… I think.

Christmas was wonderful, I had family and friends around to share with us over a period of four days and again after the new year. My pain levels were intolerable but the sheer pleasure of the wonderful time helped me to carry on. Now Harry and Tabby are back at work I can relax more. I have plans, many plans. Catch up on things I have to do, spend more time painting and writing. Knit and crochet more, plan meals properly and work my time management skills to my utmost best. The house is clean and tidy again, decorations down and put away for another year and I can find me again. Then tonight as Harry comes in from work he looks rather like a snowman. In disbelief I look outside and see the wonder of heavy falling snow.

I take a moment to watch it, capture it on camera, and enjoy the magical glow as the reflected light fills a darkened room. What a wonderful start to 2010. Four days of glorious sunshine and crisp clean air followed by the clean, fresh look of newly fallen thick snow. I watched my daughter and her boyfriend build a snowman in the garden… from the warmth of the upstairs window.. He’d never made one before in his life. I thought then of the little things we all bring to each other. Tabby builds one, no matter how small, every time we have any snow, tonight she shared the simple pleasure with James and it made me think of all those little things we are to other people, the things we say or do, all make a difference to the way they are thinking, even if it just for a moment. Like the thoughts and emotion a snow covered garden makes us feel, the memories it triggers, we are all here to make life a little better for those around us.

I am sorry for my little rat friend and wish it could be different but hey, apart from that so far, 2010 has been a fantastic start to what I pray will be a wonderful new year to enjoy! Happy New Year to you all.xx

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