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.

Thursday, 1 September 2016

The Twenty-Second Blog of Augustus Lazarus Cooke (Gus)

Hello everyone!

In case anyone was wondering where we’d all got to, the answer is . . . nowhere! We have been here all the time.

Callum came to look after us when Mr and Mrs H went away for a weekend. It was nice to see him. They went to a place called Hartwell House

A long time ago some men came to put up a special fence so that the cats could go into the garden and be safe. Well, this summer the cats were allowed to go out. Jellicoe was very bold and prowled around for ages making a terrific din, yowling. 
Isambard was a bit of a scaredy-cat and stayed on the patio so that he could dash back indoors if he got too frightened.

Herschel was braver and Solomon and Lenny were quite daring too. 
Now all the cats, except Pats, who never comes downstairs, love being in the garden and they wait at the patio door, the first to dash out in the mornings, even before Roxy and Bertie. They stay out all day, chasing dragonflies . . . 
Common Darter (Sympetrum striolatum)
. . . and watching the fish in the pond, or talking to the birds or just sleeping in the sun. 
Herschel soaking up the sun
Lenny is always the last to come in when Mrs H calls them for supper. He sits outside and cries until she goes out to pick him up. He’s such a baby.

Mr and Mrs H went out one day and took Roxy with them. The rest of us had to stay at home. We didn’t mind too much because we had all had our breakfast and then been out for a walk. Roxy was tired when she came home – she’d been playing with Lolly. 
Roxy and Lolly
 Bethan and Charlie

Mr and Mrs H had been to see Charlie ‘cos it was his first birthday. It’s my birthday tomorrow – I shall be seven.
Bertie and Gus (and Roxy)
Gillian and Marnie came to see us a little while ago with Isla and Fergus. The next day they went out and when they came back they were carrying two chocolate puppies, Bella and Bruno. 

Bella and Bruno
They are Roxy’s brother and sister. We enjoyed seeing them but were all quite relieved when they left – I don’t think us dogs and cats are ready for more puppies yet. Roxy is still quite a puppy as it is . . . she loves playing with Frankie. 
They play ball together but Roxy sometimes destroys the balls.

Mr H went away for a few days and came back with a big plaster on his leg so he can’t come out with us for walks until his leg is better. He’s taller now, too!

Paul came yesterday to do some work in the house. All us dogs were very happy to see him.

So, it’s been quite busy in our house. Us dogs never know what’s going to happen next. Someone said something about the kitchen . . . I don’t know what that means.

I don’t think there’s anything else to report.

Be good.

Hwyl fawr am nawr! (That’s Welsh for ‘Goodbye for now!’)