Tuesday, 4 October 2016

 Earlier today I made a mess. I didn't mean to but the ball was so nice and chewy.
I think the humans found it quite funny. They took lots of photos, anyway. I felt a bit silly, though, so later on I climbed onto Herschel. I like Herschel.
 Herschel likes me, too, now that I don't (usually) chase him.
I like cuddling with him . . .
. . . but sometimes my head's too heavy for him, even though I'm not very big.
Bertie is Herschel's favourite dog.
He's very gentle.

Is this an egg?

Is this an egg?
Did I lay it> 
I wonder what it will hatch into?
Only joking - I know it's not an egg.
Honestly, you humans are silly sometimes.

Saturday, 1 October 2016

A Pinch and a Punch for the First of the Month

Now that it is October it can no longer be denied that Autumn is well under way and Winter will soon be upon us. October is often a very pleasant month but today is wet and grey.

Frankie and his mother, Susannah, are on holiday, narrowly avoiding Hurricane Matthew. 
A blurry photo taken with my phone of a fast-moving Frankie 
 'Follow Mummy, Frankie.'
You're never too young to learn the rules of queueing.
Susannah was anticipating a twelve-hour flight from Gatwick with some trepidation but her fears were unfounded and Frankie behaved impeccably. There is still the return journey, of course . . .

The birds have not returned to the garden, sadly. Maybe when it is cold and wet and the cats don’t wish to go out they will come back to feed.

Life continues on a smaller scale.

This little creature is a Hairy Shield bug, (Dolycoris baccarum) so called because it is covered in short hairs. It is about 11mm long and widespread, though becoming rarer in the north of the country.

There have been many Red Admirals (Vanessa atalanta) in the garden. This one, appropriately, is feeding on a buddleja, a plant often referred to as the butterfly bush.

Meanwhile, the cats continue to enjoy and explore the garden. 
They go out first thing in the morning and often stay out until dusk or even, in the case of Susannah’s cats, dark!

There have been no more squirrel casualties though the dragonflies, mainly Southern Hawkers, (Aeshna cyanea) do not learn from experience. 
Southern Hawker female laying eggs
They are large, busy predators, hunting insects and catching them mid-air. They can hover and also fly backwards but they cannot escape the claws of cats!

One benefit of the shortening and cooling days is the excuse to have a fire. Today is cold, tomorrow may be warm – the weather is capricious.

I am linking with Eileen's 'Saturday Critters' and Misty's 'Camera-Critters'

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Tell me a story

Tell me a story
Of once upon a time
When magic ruled the earth.

Tell it short or tell it long,
Make it trivial or sublime,
Write it sad or full of mirth.

Knit a fabric of surprise,
Blend in truth and dreams or lies
But make it real somewise.

Make me laugh or make me cry,
Tell me tales that make me sigh,
Bid me always question, ‘Why?’

Create for me delicious fright
Or make me gasp in sheer delight,
And make sure wrong is never right.

Catch a child’s mind when you can,
Always make your stories fun,
Then, storytellers, you have won.

 Written for 'The Tuesday Platform' in 'imaginary garden with real toads'. 

Monday, 19 September 2016

Delores at ‘Mumblings’ challenged us with a writing prompt. She said, 

Feel like having some fun with a writing prompt?
How many ways can you work the word 'sliver' into a sentence?
Maybe someone will write a poem.

This got me thinking so thank you for that, Delores. I need a kick-start in the mornings – or maybe just a kick.

Well, I just had to dish up some doggerel . . .

A sliver of liver
Makes small children shiver
When struggling to swallow
The unswallowable.

And all of a dither
Their tears start to slither,
Unstoppable river -
It’s horrible.

They gaze at the giver,
A look that would wither
The hardest of hearts -

‘Just a sliver of liver,
To make you grow strong’,
The adult’s persuasion -

The sliver grows bigger,
And drier and harder,
It can’t be choked down –

If all children ate
The things that they ‘should’
They’d grow into giants –

(That got much darker than I intended!)

Why not meander over to 'Mumblings' and see what else is on offer?

Saturday, 10 September 2016

Fire From a Different Sun

The challenge from 'imaginary garden with real toads' was to write a poem about a fire that doesn’t come from flames or the sun.

A Poem of Clichés

His smouldering eyes looked deep into hers
And her breath came swiftly and fierce,
An inferno of lust flared from his touch
Until her heart pulsed in her ears.

The heat of the moment was all she felt,
The fervour, the passion, the need,
But later the memory scorched her with shame –
Her name blackened by the deed.

Seared and dishonoured she took the veil
Nevermore to show her face,
Incandescence of ardour soon forgot
As she bowed her head in disgrace.

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Things He Can Do (2)

In addition to the afore-mentioned accomplishments can be added three more achievements. Today Barry has made dhal. His dhal is always much appreciated by Susannah who takes a portion to work most days. We now refer to it as ‘one-legged dhal’ or ‘hopping dhal’. The kitchen maid (me) was at hand to fetch and carry and clear away – no change there, then.

He also made houmous and bread. We have a machine to actually mix and make and bake the bread and the bread of the moment is tomato and black olive – very tasty, filling and moreish. We shall not starve!

The Pleasures of Cats

It is now almost a month since the cats were first granted the freedom of the garden.  Barry and I have been savouring the pleasure of seeing our cats enjoying the Great Outdoors.

‘Like tigers in the savannah,’ we say happily to each other as we watch them prowling through the undergrowth or leaping gracefully to a vantage point to gaze down upon the fish busily spawning in the pond.

Birds have been noticeably absent, if that is not an oxymoron, and though I know they are quieter in August because they are moulting, it is now September. Crows and magpies, collared doves and wood pigeons and an occasional spotted woodpecker have all been spotted and the tawny owls continue to call at night, but the noisy squadrons of starlings are staying away in droves. Have our handsome cats been noticed by our feathered hitherto friends?

If that is the case then they are wiser than a young squirrel today which managed to negotiate the cat fence to climb in but was not fortunate enough to find a way out. Herschel was sitting on the grandfather clock in the sitting room, quietly surveying the garden, when something caught his eye and he leapt off and raced down the path. By the time I had reached the patio door he was back, carrying a live squirrel. I managed to shut the door before he brought his prize into the house and then turned the hose on him to ‘encourage’ him to release it. He didn’t. Two minutes later he was back at the patio door and, dropping his bedraggled and now sadly dead trophy on the step, he retreated to the wooden bridge over the pond to lick himself dry.

Naturally, the dogs and all the other cats wanted to inspect the ‘gift’ so thoughtfully presented by their friend and relation. We like our animals to eat raw meat but prefer it to be safe and as I didn’t fancy popping the body into the animal food freezer for a week to kill all bacteria the little corpse has been safely disposed of. (I didn’t fancy skinning and gutting it, either.)

It would be foolish to imagine that the cats will suppress their hunting instincts to avoid alarming their squeamish servants but they are only allowed in the garden when we are here to supervise them so that, hopefully, we will be able to reduce the number of captures, live or otherwise, that are brought in for our delectation. However, I did discover a half-eaten dragonfly in the conservatory.

In case you’re wondering, Herschel, or Herschel the Hunter as he will henceforth be known, and I are still on speaking terms and as I write he is sleeping on the sofa next to Bertie, his favourite dog. Doubtless he is dreaming of squirrel pie. 

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Things He Can Do

Barry has also always been a very active and busy being so being forced to slow down is frustrating in the extreme. It is temporary (we all fervently hope!) while his new knee beds in or whatever it is that total knee replacements do. Meanwhile he cannot do much to help in the house. Some might suggest that nothing has changed there but that would be unkind, untrue, even . . . (insert ‘wink’ emoticon)

However, there have been a number of events which have boosted his sense of self-worth. For instance, he has removed a large spider from the bath, something neither Susannah nor I were able to do and which the cats, usually so dexterous and efficient, could not be persuaded to tackle.

Another accomplishment was the opening of a particularly stubborn bottle followed soon after by the pumping up of bicycle tyres. Add to this the fixing of apps on my computer and programming the remote control (one of them, at least. We have many, many, many remote control devices.) Buoyed up by these achievements Barry then updated the computerisation of the garden watering system. This means that at intervals during the day (and night) various sprinklers and drip-feeds are activated. It can be quite exciting for the cats when they’re caught unawares, and it’s fun for us, cruel as we are, to watch them galloping towards the shelter of the house, their customary grace and elegance and self-assurance momentarily abandoned.

Barry has also been able to traverse the length of the garden to check the water quality in the swimming pool, something I have no idea about. Doubtless I could learn but, like the State of the Art Coffee Machine in the kitchen, I shall not be hastening to acquire the expertise. I like making coffee in a bog standard cafetière. It’s simple and satisfying. The State of the Art Coffee Machine, however, hisses and steams and drips and demands as much attention as a sulky toddler – actually, more, for it requires regular filling and emptying and cleaning. All right, then, it’s just like a toddler. I don’t like coffee – love the smell, can’t stand the taste, so I really don’t want to know how to operate the State of the Art Coffee Machine. I digress.

The final thing on the list of Things He Can Do is to have his Leatherman all-purpose tool ready at all times, for all eventualities. Well, not burst pipes, obviously, or rewiring the house, but minor things like tightening screws, opening boxes, getting stones out of horses’ hooves . . .

He wanted to add to the list ‘research items to contribute to the general clutter’, otherwise known as ‘looking for things you don’t really need but it would be fun to have’,  but he does that all the time anyway, new knees or not.

The Leatherman is the grown-up version of the Swiss Army Knife, much loved of Boy Scouts or whatever they’re called these days. Actually, I think it’s an American version of said knife. I have a smaller version, which lives in a small coin case in my bag. 

I find it extremely useful but then, I think I’m becoming Mrs Gadget. My son’s school friends used to refer to Barry as Inspector Gadget. It was only a matter of time, I suppose, before I succumbed to the attraction of gadgets.

Saturday, 3 September 2016

Losing things – an oft-repeated event

I was just reading a post from ‘a geriatric grandmother’ and sympathising with her. Her husband lost his car keys and had to wait a long time in the cold for a taxi to arrive and take him home.

 I cannot blame my husband’s propensity for losing things on advancing age. For as long as we have been married he has lost things on a regular basis, habitually not discovering the loss until after I have taken to my bed and am about to drift off to sleep. I came to dread the words, ‘Have you seen . . . ?’ I think eventually he realised this was not the way to endear himself to me so now, under the pretence of looking himself and not disturbing me, he mutters something to the effect of, ‘I don’t know where I’ve put it,’ or ‘I know I had them when I was . . . ‘ These sentences are repeated ad nauseam and at increasing volume until, heaving a dramatic sigh, I get up and join him in the search. All too often, just as I start hunting he says, ‘Oh, just found it/them’ and I stumble back to bed, mumbling ungenerous thoughts.

Our methods of searching differ vastly. Barry opens drawers and cupboards and turns over the contents so that it looks as if an industrial digger has travelled through. (On another note, if he takes an item of clothing out of a drawer and decides not to wear it, he replaces it at right angles to the rest of the clothes!) Things not contained (and so much in our house is not) are turned over and over as though they are in a giant washing machine All the drawers and doors are left wide open, ready to bite at shins and attack heads.

When I look for things I tidy as I go, frequently finding things we had forgotten we had lost. I may not find the article that has currently gone walkabout but I develop a sense of well-being and calm as some order is restored.

The worrying aspect of all this mislaying is that it is contagious and I now lose things that I have just been using. Sometimes it can be explained by being interrupted in the middle of something – the telephone, the doorbell, ‘I need a wee,’ (Frankie) or ‘You haven’t seen . . . ?’ (Barry) All too often, though, there is no rational explanation and it is a matter of chance if I discover that which is lost. I bear in mind the advice to Little Bo Peep and comfort myself that my sheep will return home with their tails behind them, tails in the shape of scissors, pens, secateurs . . .

The other day, returning from the practice nurse, who had just examined Barry’s new knee, he suddenly said, with great urgency, ‘I’ve lost my glasses.’ I was about to turn the car round when he said, ‘Oh, I’m wearing them.’ I gritted my teeth as he proceeded to offer profuse apologies. To be fair, he was wearing two pairs of glasses – sunglasses on his hat and reading glasses round his neck. Why sunglasses on his hat? They’re ready to hand in case the sun shines– if he remembers he’s got them! As for the glasses round his neck – they have a magnetic clip at the front, all ready for use.
Image result for magnetic glasses
While he is still recovering, there is less opportunity for Barry to lose things – he is increasingly mobile, though, so it won’t be long before the poltergeists reinstate themselves.

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Berkshire, United Kingdom
Wife, mother, grandmother, Always curious, good listener, interested in people. I'm on Twitter @jabblog