Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Me and mew - The Cat Meme

Mimi posted an irresistible meme this week:
1. Do you have a cat?
2. What is your cat's name?
3. What makes you love cats?
4. If you are not a cat person, why not?
5. What is the funniest thing your cat has ever done?
6. Do you think cats have feelings and can talk to their owners?
7. The Rainbow Bridge is the place where cats go when they pass away. I think it's a lovely idea. If humans could have a bridge of their own in the afterlife, what would you name it?

BONUS POINTS! Post a picture of you and your cat.
Now, I don't own a cat. I have never owned a cat and I never will own a cat. Why? Because I am hugely allergic to them. As a child I could seize up with asthma just having a cat walk past me on a veranda (true story). Of course, cats being cats - they all adore me, because I can't touch them they dash to me to be hugged, wrap and ooze their furry love around my ankles.

So why am I doing this meme? You'll see....

1. Do you have a cat?

Yes... kind of... you see...

some people say I remind them of a cat. Something about my smile?

personally, I can't see the similarity.

As a Leo it always irked me that I seemed to lack big cat personality, but then I discovered that my Chinese astrology sign of Rabbit can also be a... Cat! And the world made sense. :-)

2. What is your cat's name?

On good days I have lots of names, all nice. On bad days they just hide...

3. What makes you love cats?

I'm going to dodge the self-love ego thing by answering with what (I think) are the most lovable traits of a Chinese astrology Cat person.

We love listening to music.

We love holidays and traditions.

We try to always be there for those we love...

...which can lead to burnout.

4. If you are not a cat person, why not?

When I'm not a cat person, I'm just human. I've learnt to accept this burden.

5. What is the funniest thing your cat has ever done?

Funniest thing... in the last hour? Day? Lifetime?? Like how long do you have?

6. Do you think cats have feelings and can talk to their owners?

Owners... OWNERS? Oh please!!! No-one ever owns a cat!

...but we do have feelings.

7. The Rainbow Bridge is the place where cats go when they pass away. I think it's a lovely idea. If humans could have a bridge of their own in the afterlife, what would you name it?

Personally, I think cats would be willing to share their bridge with humans.

BONUS POINTS! Post a picture of you and your cat.

I already did that with my first photo. ;-)

Monday, 26 September 2011

Poems for Peace

UNODA (United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs) is running a 'Poetry for Peace' contest. It's open until the 14th of October and the theme is connected to the tragedy of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings of WWII.

This poetry contest is a platform to share your thoughts and feelings about the hibakusha testimonies. In their own voices, hibakusha have recorded their testimonies for you and future generations to hear.

I listened to the YouTube recordings of two women:

Kayano Tsutsui, who was a child in Nagasaki, and
Isano Tanabe, who was a mother with children in Hiroshima.

I tried listening to more, but they were so unbearably painful I only got half way through my third recording. What happened to these people is beyond words... what Nuclear weapons do to people is beyond words. How do you write such horror into a poem for peace? How do you bring hope out of the ashes of hell?

The site suggested a haiku or a sonnet, but all I could manage was one line and that wasn't even based on those accounts - it was based on the account of another victim of Hiroshima - Sadako Sasaki. I've a Peace Thimble post, scheduled as thimble #88, all about Sadako and her story of tragedy... and hope. You see, Sadako left behind a symbol for Peace - the origami crane.

"I will write 'peace' on your wings and you will fly all over the world"

Sadako Sasaki

All I could think about was the hope Sadako had held onto, and how other Japanese children keep that hope going with those paper cranes. So I reread my one line about Sadako and realised it was the same length as two lines of a Haiku. I only needed one more line of thoughts to finish it. Here's the haiku poem I finally submitted:

angels, doves and cranes -
our only hope for peace lies
folded into wings.

You can see it on the UNODA site here:

Finalists will be selected from those with the most "LIKE" clicks. So, if you are on Facebook, please consider giving my poem a LIKE, as long as you really like it! ;-) And do check the other poems out too, there are others worth liking.


Saturday, 24 September 2011

The way to Armadillos

This post was inspired by Mimi's post on her 100 plastic dolls (and Mimi. My gran owned the Tricky Dogs and I was always so covetous of them; in my heart I knew I'd learnt the word covet the first time I saw them touch tiny metallic doggy noses on her dressing table... *sigh*)

Back in the early '70s a song came out that was played on the radios all the time. I loved it, because it was all about an animal that always reminds me of Christmas... armadillos. :-)

There I'd be, sitting in the car or playing on the carpet, singing along with the song on the radio:

"Is this the way to Armadillos?
Every night I'm hugging my pillow
Dreaming dreams of Armadillos..."

..and Christmassy excitement would fill my heart! :-D

You can see, from watching that video, that I was dreadful at hearing lyrics properly. I still am actually, I'll have to tell you about 'Millie Gnu' some day, but today is about those armadillos.

In Rhodesia in the '70s we had 'sanctions', which meant very little to a child's brain, except the fact we didn't get the same stuff I saw in magazines from other countries. We didn't have chocolate bars and other fancy goods, but I can't remember ever being really bothered about that. I think it bothered the grown-ups more. I know the armadillo Christmas bothered them.

It was Christmas and Rhodesia was making its own Christmas decorations, chocolates, etc. The chocolates were awful, to be honest, and the Christmas crackers were... unusual. One year most of the crackers had itchy powder in them. Not good!

Then one year they all had tiny plastic armadillos in them. I can remember the grown-ups leaving theirs on the table as "junk" and even my boy cousins left theirs in disgust. There before me lay an entire table of tiny armadillos. My gran said, "You can have them if you like" and that's how I came to own a whole two cracker deep armada of armadillos.

Thinking back on cracker boxes and number of family gathered to eat dinner... it must have been close to twenty armadillos. I just loved them. They were a soft lemony colour, with rather vague features sprayed on in a golden tan paint. Taken one by one they were a rather boring toy, but a whole group of them was quite different.

I played armadillo armies and armadillo marching bands. I had armadillo barn dances and, my most favourite - armadillo school! For armadillo school I'd bring in the help of a little plastic owl who looked like Owl in Pooh Bear. He'd be the teacher and all the armadillos would be very good and quiet behind their rows of invisible desks.

I had such fun with those armadillos. They were one of my best Christmas gifts, even though they were such a disappointment to everyone else. Shows how perspective is everything, perhaps? How one family's memory of cheap plastic junk is another child's treasured Christmas memory. I need to remember that. When life sends me lemons - Show me the way to armadillos! ;-)

If you have a story about mangled song lyrics that mean something to you,
or a childhood toy of unexpected joy... consider yourself tagged!


Sunday, 18 September 2011

Fish Fingers, Bluebell Hands and Tea Trays in the Andes

I've been on my new medication for two weeks now and the results have been... interesting. My hands are more flexible, but I still have to be careful. I can wiggle my fingers again, I can type again (yay!!), but any long-time pressure still brings pain. What do I mean by that? Well, anything I hold or touch for long hurts.

Like this Friday when we went shopping. I could pick up things easily, but holding anything for long becomes more and more painful. Holding the grocery list, a little scrap of paper, became utterly unbearable before we'd gone through two aisles at the supermarket. I had to keep putting it down, swapping hands, to cope with the pain.

I feel like a variation of the Little Mermaid story - the original version where every time she walked on her new feet it felt like walking on knives. Only for me my "mermaid curse" is in my fingers rather than my feet... I have fish fingers disease!

The medication also warn that it causes drowsiness. During the day I am feeling a bit... "spaced", but since Hubby's doing the dangerous parts of cooking (hot oil frying, chopping and slicing) and I don't drive that's been okay. It's at night where it gets really interesting.

At night I'm sort of hallucinating between sleeping, like the boundaries between dreaming and awake are all wobbly. The one night I realised I was sitting on the edge of the bed putting beads into drawers. ?? No beads... no drawers! I've also woken in the night thinking, "Wow, 3D dreams!" but sadly I can't remember what was so exciting about that.

The weirdest was when I woke up with bad pain and was sitting on the bed with my hands sort of hanging over the edge (helps to ease the pain sometimes). I looked at my hands in the dark.. and they were glowing and I realised my hands and fingers were made of bluebells. I knew that it was a hallucination, but I still enjoyed looking at them until it faded.

So far this has only happened at night, but if I should write a blog post telling you all that I'm writing this on a tea tray in the Andes... you'll know why! ;-)


Thursday, 15 September 2011

Can you Imagine?

Watch the video first, please. It really is worth it.

Can you imagine...
being in a war and having to leave your baby in a box?

Can you imagine...
being willing to give a lost child a home?

Can you imagine...
What an amazing woman their mom truly is?

Can you imagine...
growing up "different" in a different land/language/culture
still being so vibrant, upbeat and willing to try?

Can you imagine what you could do,
who you could become,
if you were just willing
to imagine?

Quote for the Day


Blessed are the peacemakers:
for they shall be called the children of God.

Matthew 5:3-10

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Changes and Rearranges

No, things haven't vanished off my blog - I've just been doing some rearranging. Since my 100 Peace Thimbles were starting to grow bigger than I'd expected I've moved them all (present, past and future) to their own blog, along with copies of of my annual Blogblast for Peace posts.

You can now find your daily Peace thimbles here at

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Need Somebody

Since I can't feel my fingers properly some jobs are tricky to downright impossible. One of them is getting money out of my purse. Usually I shop with hubby and he gets the money out for me, but last week he dashed off to get an item we'd forgotten and the teller wanted my shop card.

So... I had to ask her to get the card out for me. It felt a bit weird and awkward as I explained how I couldn't use my hands properly, but then something surprising happened... somewhere in helping me the till operator changed. She went from being "stranger behind the till doing her job and ignoring all customers" - to - "friendly woman who is helping and really seeing me."

Admittedly our area is VERY friendly and 90% of shop staff, strangers in the street, will chat forever if you have the time. What was different this time was that I had to reach out first, by asking for help. It's not easy asking for help, especially if you're used to being self-sufficient or you're the type who prefers being busy helping others. Then asking for help yourself can feel like you're failing somehow... weaker, but it's not like that at all.

When you're totally healthy and self-sufficient you can also risk becoming totally aloof... cut off. You can't do that when you're disabled or ill in any way. I realised that needing to ask for help forces you to interact with others. For better or worse it reconnects you with other people and... it's actually kind of nice. :-) You get to talk to people you'd probably never talk to otherwise. Best of all - you give others the chance to feel good about themselves, for being the "Good Samaritan" that helped another - you!

We need more of that in our world - more people connecting to help each other.

We need to be needed, but we also need to be open to needing help,
to needing each other.

Maybe there is a secret blessing in this recent recession that we could tap into here? Modern society, cities and governments... they've all become the ultimate in aloof and self-sufficient. Maybe it's only by becoming "ill" and "disabled" that we will reach a stage where we all reach out to each other again. Maybe we need to reach that stage of admitting we need help, that we need each other, so we can make the world a better place?

Wouldn't that be nice? :-)


Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Storm Cleaning

I'm watching the news this morning for a personal reason - friends of mine live in the area of the fires in Texas. I'll be keeping them, and their loved ones, in my prayers and thoughts today.

It feels like a strange "full circle", since it wasn't that long ago I was watching the news and praying for two friends who lived in the path of Japan's Tsunami. Now I see there's been a Typhoon in Japan as well.

Fire and Water... what a year this has been!Nature seems determined to shake things up, with Earthquakes and tsunamis, tornadoes, floods, droughts and fires. It feels as if we're taking part in some huge "spring-cleaning "frenzy... or is that a "Storm Cleaning? With Mother Earth and the Heavens above want to turn us upside down and inside out. Together they're dusting out all the corners, shaking out the cushions and scrubbing us all down to the bones and stones till we're rubbed raw.

I was reading a friend's blog this morning and I started thinking back over the last 12 months... my dad in hospital twice with life-threatening illnesses, my mom-in-law's passing alongside my parents celebrating 50 golden years of marriage the same month. Me with this ongoing unknown illness and so many friends and family facing everything from cancer to eviction. The threat of losing everything looming over so many... is it a cleaning or a cleansing? Maybe both?

Do we sometimes need our souls turned upside down to get all the fusty dust whacked out of them? We can get really fusty and dusty, us humans who like our safe unchanging routines. As a species we don't like change - we prefer going nowhere, even if our lives are boring and pointless.

But it seems as if both the Heavens Above and the Earth Below are determined to change that. From revelations in banking and politics forcing us to really look at how we run this planet to illnesses and the recession forcing us to really look at our personal lives. Change is unavoidable. Is that why we're being shaken about so much this year? It's as if everything is conspiring to force us all to not settle for 'going nowhere' - we have no choice but to change.

It feels like all these "storms" are busy cleaning and cleansing us out as well as the Planet. And if that is true... then what lies waiting for us all beyond this year?

All storms end with a rainbow.


Sunday, 4 September 2011

General Update on Everything :-)

I can finally update on what's been going on in the "Crow's nest". Why? Because I started a new medication last week and... I have finger use again! I'm so thrilled I could dance around the room.

For last two weeks the pain has been so bad I can only write in short sections. Nights have been even worse. I could only stay asleep 10-15 minutes before I had to sit up in PAIN and wait for the pain to go. Incredible pain... never had anything like this. Feels like I stuck my hands in snow for an hour and then put them in hot water. I'd reached the stage where I couldn't even hold a knife and fork for longer than a few bites, now I can eat a whole meal. My hands are still numb and pins-needles, but no pain. Being able to use them again is just fantastic.

The medication is one used for epilepsy and nerve damage. It's only an interim measure, while I wait to see the specialists so that someone can figure out what this is and how to treat it long term. On the plus side all those blood tests have shown that my liver, heart, kidneys, etc are all good. No sign of arthritis, nothing except a muscle enzyme that keeps zooming off the charts. It's an enzyme that rises if you overdo exercise, like run a marathon kind of thing. First blood tests results, the doctor asked me if I'd done "extreme exercise" the day before. I packed out laughing! I have NEVER done any sport-exercise in the extreme. So very weird.

My dad's doing good. He got his operation test results back - it was cancer, but the surgeon is very pleased as it was early stages and he's confident they cut it all out. He wants to see dad in 6 months time. Mom is still waiting for that hip surgery. She's all packed ready and hoping it'll be sooner rather than later!

Today hubby and I went for a walk. The brambleberries are starting to ripen. Bramble and Apple crumble soon! I'll have to get him to help me with that. He's still helping me with the cooking - chopping veggies with numb fingers? Too dangerous! He still has to help me dress, since I can't feel buttons or clips. He's also the only person who can drive at the moment so he's pretty busy with three sets of doctor's appointments and three sets of shopping demands. He's been brilliant, helping all three of us "sick people" in all sorts of ways.

It was warm and sunny all day here, but the brambleberries and the turning leaves made me realise Autumn is really on the way.

This has been a hard long year for us, and for many of the people I know. I hope, just like Nature, this autumn brings us all a harvest of all sorts of good things, blessings and bounty. ... ..:-).

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Scenic Scotland

Just a note to say that I've moved all my best Blog banner photos of Scotland onto my "Scenic Scotland" page.