Friday, 21 October 2016

I know my place

The Ocelots have changed and the Hound of the House has Spots, lots of spots. Out numbered, I live with quadrupeds.

In a house of females and felines, my Hound's male doggy exuberance brings a directness to proceedings. He has played a big part in their upbringing. It is tradition that he brings the new cats into the house for the first time. Whether they are picked up starving on the street like my Lovely Blueboy was on a middle of the night walk in winter, or, like the latest residents collected from their born homes to their lifelong home by car, Primo brings them into the house. This way everyone knows who everyone is and that they belong here.

The cats have in part been raised by a dog, who in turn as a young puppy was raised by a kind but sure of herself cat who in turn had been raised by a labrador. And so it goes back and it will go forward. In our family, cats and dogs don't just co-exist they get on - mostly, like any family. Nothing about their essential cat or dog self is betrayed in this act of cohabitation, nor natural behaviours left behind. In their shared space attitudes have evolved and a certain rhythm is set, which in their individual ways they all contribute to.

They all have a policeman, or should I say Police woman? That's my role.

 He might be willing to share his bed with them or leave them to luxuriate in it curves and softness but if they make a move on the food in his bowl he tells them sharply. But not too sharply because "She" ( that's me) is about and might have "views" about reasonable force.

The cats might tolerate maybe even expect that at some point whilst eating he may burst in and put his long snout into their tiny bowls and scoff. Their tactic is more wily. He got their remains yes but using dark dilated eyes they turn their faces upward to their arbiter (as the Police woman's role is perceived by the cats), suck in their cheeks as if super models and plead for more. The Arbiter knowing her role in this game, complies and more food arrives

Satisfied, the Hound finds his place for some post prandial grooming and the cats settle in for their second course. What I do after this is irrelevant.

I know my place.

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Haiku for Squidgey

She was the smallest
Two magpies lament her loss
Sleeps under Pansies

Under cherry trees
She raised her face to the sun
Embraced by shadow

Making her way home
She just Stopped and went away
With magpies we mourn

Squidgey died 26th June 2012

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

What does absence tell you?

Writing is one of those words that has the capacity to trip people up. It can generate questions.

What do you mean you are writing?   as if writing doesn't count.

What are your writing?  - as if you have nothing to write about.

Who said you can write? - as if you need permission, or that you are not "qualified" to write

It seems curious to me in a culture that teaches  writing early and makes the skill of writing the focus of most academic study a necessity, that is essential in the work place, that technology encourages, texting, tweeting, emailing, etc etc that the notion of writing should generate all this so called " interest"

I like to write. I don't really know if I am any good at it. Sometimes I get a good feeling from it, whether it is because I've expressed myself and it is out, or because I have a slightly norty appreciation of how I used the words to achieve something, I don't always know. Sometimes I get lovely feedback and sometimes I don't sometimes I accept the feedback and sometimes I don't. I like doing it so I will continue to do it.

But sometimes I can't do it. It isn't  always that the words won't come, quite often it is that the words may come in such a rush of hurt and anger that they will slay me and any bystander readers in the process. Not for a blog.. too much responsibility for this blog anyway.

I looked at the side bar on my blog recently and noticed the postings in particular years and I, knowing my inner life at the time, knew why there are more posts in some years than others. It wasn't to do with the outer busy ness of life , it was to do with inner business.

I've learned it is the absence of something that often requires investigation, even if at first - crucially - you don't notice the absence.

Years ago, after my Parents died in fairly quick and traumatic succession I became a dog owner. I was lucky to inherit my parents animals.. Brisket was an adult and a "certain of himself dog" when I had him. One day I had been mooching around in the house and something, I don't know what it was, made me laugh out loud. My laugh when it arises is very loud. I laughed and Brisket jumped up from his bed where he had been lying apparently asleep and came towards me in that enthusiastic way  a Labrador will do, wagging his tail so hard his whole body was convulsed. He came to join in the enthusiasm, he came to enthuse with me. The laughter was maintained for a while.

Afterwards I realised that I had been silent for days. I'd not had the tv on, or the radio, not been out apart from walking him which we had done in a mutual silence. As I came to think of it I realised I had shopped, bought petrol, completely silently for days and days.. I'd been lost somewhere. I wasn't deep in thought I don't think and I wish I could claim I was meditating. Maybe in a way I was ( cept I wasn't) I had been on automatic.

My body had been doing things and my mind was somewhere else.  I wasn't miserable, I wasn't happy.

I  wasn't.

Looking back it is easy for me to diagnose what it was, it was space and it was grief. I had been emptied out in the preceding couple of years. The laugh whatever caused it half broke the spell. The dog coming up to me, shattered it. My throat was sore from unaccustomed use required water and that was that, onwards. I had reconnected.

Not being able to speak manifests in not being able to write too.

There is another question once you have defied expectation for a bit and written and not been damned..

Why aren't you writing?

Here are some of my reasons:

Nothing to write about -- meaning there isn't stuff I want to share

Too much to write about -- meaning the stuff I have I am not sure if I want to share, or how to share it, very similar to above..

Other things are occupying me -- meaning absence in someway has set in, I can't write and I might not be able to tell you why, but it probably isn't what other people would put in the "nice" column.

I lose my voice when I am chewed up, when I am full up, when I am busying thinking, puzzling something out. I go in. My inner landscape is rich and uses all my processing power.

I am an introvert.. hardly a revelation that line after everything else I have just said?

I haven't been writing as much here this year as I did last year. And you can look at the sidebar and see when I was writing and when I was not writing. You can draw your own conclusions as I draw mine. They might be the same. Only I have the context though to know how I arrived at My conclusion.

I have been writing elsewhere. For a while now I have been writing on another blog, starting something new, making some space and time. Starting back in November for 30 days with a personal project for me which is growing into something else

If you are interested it is here

I will continue to write here and the divide will be arbitrary. I will decide. :-) it's my blog

Why do I write?

Because it is my right.

Sunday, 25 March 2012


Twilight is such a great time to go out walking with the dog, stuff is happening in the hedgerows, you hear scuffling noises and the snap of twigs. 

The moon is up.  There was a tease of a crescent and a handful of bright stars scattered around.

Gradually as the walking continues more stars announce themselves and sometimes as I gaze upwards they appear to pop into existence in front of my eyes. Such an amazing experience when that happens

Not for nothing is twilight considered a magical time. The shadows are still present but barely - whisps.

Tonight as we walked along a tree line we could hear the brook, that has woken up with the recent rains, trickling along. Something buzzed above my head. Looking up I saw a bat, fast flying about above my head. Turning faster than a bird, with the lightness that reminds of a butterfly but more substantial. 

Turning I saw others. I stopped transfixed and became aware that about 5 of them were wheeling around about my head, I could hear small dull clicks which I assume was their echo location. Their range was about 100 yards but the centre of this range seemed for the moment, to be me, wherever I was. This place near the trees is replete with midges no doubt a superb snacking site. 

Primo stopped and then headed away, up the muddy lane, patrolling his territory, at his steady tail up trot. Above him all the way was his very own bat. It looked amazing and like something from a fairy story, well beyond the capability of my camera. 

He returned and noticed I was still stationary and puzzled he looked up. He jumped back in surprise as he became aware of them and his ears lifted as he absorbed what he had been hearing. 

The bats continued to swirl around us and then whether bored by us, or concerned to follow the midges, they went along the tree line and out of sight.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

graciousness and gratitude -- how do you score?

These two people are hard to find in the world. Which two? 
The one who is first to do a kindness, and
 one who is grateful and thankful for any kindness done.
Anguttara Nikāya 2.118

I think Graciousness is undervalued in life. I think Graciousness at work, at home and at play could make everything more sustainable, and more fun. If you can remain gracious, if you can respond graciously, you keep an open mind. You look at something you might reject easily for longer and in doing so have the open mind that perhaps you might have missed something. Because you are gracious you can hold on to what has been offered and explore it for usefulness and then from a position of exploration rather than arrogant prejudice decide how much to keep and how much to reject. Being Gracious does not subject you to accepting things or situations you don't want, like or believe in It gives you space to decide how or if to make best use of them

You accept the intention of the other - who or what ever other that might be - in giving you a gift that perhaps in the end you don't want but still honour that it was given to you anyway. Which in turn sets up more opportunity for unexpected gifts to decide about.

Gratitude runs on from this. If you are able to be gracious in the moment, perhaps you can have gratitide for the unexpected and unplanned things that come your way, look back and see how this has affected you life. And so sustain the ability to remain open to new information, new objections, new intentions, new situations, new people.

I am ranting a little in writing this here.. But I am not forcing you to read it. That would be ungracious.

I like Mr Jagger in his sentiment and ( slightly misused words) You won't always get what you thought you wanted, but you might just get what you need.

I need to hang on to this thought though, as fiercely in debate I can forget it. I am not a Buddhist either, but loved the quote.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

To learn is to love

Yesterday someone mentioned that a book had been written ( it was a sensible book apparently so a bit of me had sunk already) that broke down which musical instrument a child should learn based on their personality. 

According to this book a violin player should be endowed with lots of patience as a child because it is much harder to make a note, play a tune then it is on an instrument that is plucked, bashed or blown.

Fortunately neither my parents, my music teacher or I was aware of this " must have"  skill when I was eight. 

Patience is not a natural virtue for me.  It is a learned one. Probably in part, one  I learned whilst learning to play the violin and learning to play with animals. Both are wild at heart, can snap suddenly,  you learn quickly if you have respect for one another things will go much better. 

That last paragraph is my overnight consideration of events.

However in the moment on being told this my reaction was to say "bugger"  Mostly jokingly, because had I known this I might have played one of the "easier" instruments ;-) and now be making a living at music  (I would not btw for other reasons to do with NOT ENOUGH talent)

I played the violin because I fell in love with it. I saw an orchestra playing at my school when I was 7 came home and announced I wanted to learn to play 

Persistence,  annoying patience in action, meant I did get to learn. I've put it down a few times in my life, for years at a time but as an Identity it is one that never goes away

 I still love it and  I am still learning it.  I always will be. 

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Assimilation - resistance is futile

Blue Boy is staying. ( touch wood so far)  I have plugged myself into the Cat Lady Network and the Vet has checked for a chip. His details have been advertised in the local paper. This has resulted in one call. As I answered the phone I was filled with conflicting thoughts. This cat has been loved. It has no fear and no aggression and a certainty that if he asks nicely he will receive. He is sweet. In short he is lovable and I, knowing my place, am doing that.

The person on the phone started to describe him. I held my breath,  in one indisputable way the cat she described and mine are different. It was with relief that I breathed in and said  "no that's not my cat." I noticed that. I said not my cat. I hadn't realised til I said it that I had made a decision. She was crestfallen. I then heard her story, about a lost companion who was/is also loved and hope that she has better news soon.

Had he belonged to her I would have given him up. ( But - as the vet said to me as we discussed this eventuality - with my arms folded and pursed lips.  He knows me so well!)

As I talked to the Hound I referred to him as Blue Boy. He emerged from the kitchen where he spends a lot of time keeping an eye on his bowl. We  have agreed a longer formal name which is not for sharing, it might make his blue blood and pink tongue blush.

The other master and mistressess in the household are ok with this.. He doesn't make demands on them, doesn't try to use his maleness to dominate - a wise decision with my two canny females. He has seen and concluded that it would be "a funny sort of game"

He would probably prefer to say " How about a nice game of chess"

He has certainly shrewdly played me as the Master he is.