Even the paint palette is beautiful!
This isn’t so much a Tale of Two Cities and their inhabitants, as much as a tale of two gardens and the cats that live in them.
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,…”
The summer was hot, the Pimms was cool. On the surface, all seemed somnolent. Alas, in the Universe of Scents that only felines can inhabit, rancor rankled and rattled. The general zeitgeist of the moment was mercurial and one of unrest and of caution.
It took us several months to realise that our new neighbours had moved in not with 1, 2 or even 3 cats but with 5 or 6. It would seem the cats are not allowed indoors (or maybe they are too terrified to venture in due to the 2 big dogs that live there now also).
Oftentimes, sitting outside, especially if enjoying al fresco dining, it feels like living on a Greek Island. Or, a real version of that TV advert where 100’s of cats fiendishly descend upon a home because a certain brand of milk (or cream?) is being served there; awaiting the right moment to pounce and lap up the White Stuff.
The kitties from next door seem to prefer our garden, company and affections (I can’t say food because were we to start on that road, I fear mum and I would end up as something akin to the characters in Grey Gardens. This makes me sad though as they seem ever hungry. Oh to have more pragmatism in life!), to that of their own domain. Three of them in particular make constant attempts to make their paws firmly established under the table here.
All of this is, of course, much to the disquiet of our own 2 kitties and our current lodger, Binky.
The rascality and shenanigans that occur between all of these residents must be witnessed (or heard) to be believed.
The Main Characters:
Sam is as proud and as haughty as the cats in Ancient Egypt must surely have been. They were worshiped there after all. He is also, however, the softest, gentlest of boys and can be a real scaredy cat too.
Sam adopted us; it took a whole year to gain his trust. He’d turn up between 5 and 6 each evening and wait on the window sill. As we put food out for him he’d growl and hiss and would wait in safety until we were back inside, door closed, before making his hungry move.
Back then Sam donned a blue polka-dot collar but as the bitter winter of 2010/11 descended it was evident (if it wasn’t already) that poor ole Sam did not have a home. He sought refuge in a dog kennel we’d erected and made cosy for him.
One snowy December night he collapsed with the cold and we carried him in. That was the first time we’d managed physical contact with him; his fur was matted and dirty. He’s never hissed or growled at us since.
We lost Sam for almost an entire year. Once again Sam’s savvy survival skills served him well and we were all happily reunited last June. (By this time I’d rescued a little scrap of a kitten (Tilly). Sam now professes to be guardian of her (she adores Sam) but we know he secretly teases her.
Sam is savvy too in that he’s always managed to avoid fights and skirmishes with other cats. He doesn’t wear the battle wounds that other cats do who have needed to fend for themselves.
He does bear other scars though. Sam has evidently, at some point, suffered a raw deal at the hands of a man. Bar one or two exceptions, Sam hates men. Men and boots.
Tilly is terrified of the cats next door and finds Binky to be blunder-bus. As she skirts around him, hoping not to wake the beast, she growls the whole time.
Tilly doesn’t walk or run; she ‘dances about’, as if moving to a beat that only she can hear.
Many of you will by now know Binky. On this, the eve of Binky’s being re-homed (alas, he has never been embraced by Tilly or Sam and this causes Binky no end of distress), it seems fitting to pay homage to a brave boy who has come through much (as we have with him!).
Farewell Mr Binks. We’ll never forget you! This hasn’t been an easy year for you thus far, we know, but we feel sure that your new Servant is just the right choice for you.
The Sleepy Soul (me)
Ever anxious, creative and nurses a penchant for Pimms&Lemo (only if it has all the trimmings mind!).
Ever patient; ever calm.
Please note, names may have been changed to protect the innocent. (In other words, we don’t know their real names.)
So called because of a triangle of black smut in the middle of his face. The -Ange part worked well because I thought he was a she; I now think she is a he.
Triange is not afraid of heights…
My cousin named this pretty ginger spice with a white chest.
Olive tries to woo our Sammy – who runs away in terror or looks on with great perplexity. (Much to my consternation it would appear the Olive has not been neutered. Knowing how good cats are at breeding and knowing only too well how cat sanctuarys are packed out to the rafters with unwanted cats and kittens, I find I’m in constant dialogue with myself as to whether I ought to go and politely ask our neighbours if they have ever heard of the PDSA.)
When Sam refuses to get involved with the immoral advances of the riff-raff element, Binky is happy to oblige poor, desperate Olive – despite the fact that he himself has had ‘the snip’. (I have video footage of this but it felt an infringement of Cat Rights to post it. It even felt a tad voyeuristic filming it to be honest!) Sam looks on in sheer disbelief. I swear I hear him muttering, “This used to be a reputable neighbourhood.”
Hard core fighter and defender of any current “Top Cat” Title. GM struts into the garden and the Rocky theme tune strikes up. It must be seriously to his chagrin that he has now been forced to wear a collar with a little tinkling bell.
I can’t decide whether this is because he’s been bringing his Servants too many gifts of the feathery or long-tailed variety or so that his Servants will know when we splash cold water his way. (They’ll hear a rush of tinkling.)
Oh c’mon now, don’t be like that! He inflicts terror into our cats – we don’t drown him; just a little sprinkling to see him on his fighting way.
You maybe familiar with Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Musical CATS, based on the delightful set of poems by T.S. Eliot. As Grizabella enters any scene all the other cats slink off; it’s as if they can’t bear her sorrow. And so it is with Griz. I had gotten into the habit of calling her Gammy-eye, due to her sad, runny eyes (something else to mention in passing to the neighbours?), but her slow movements, combined with her unintentionally seeing off all the other cats made me rename her.
GB is determined to make her home here. If the back door is left open for more than a few minutes, she’ll waste no time in venturing in (she has just pushed her way in as I write), foraging in all three food bowls here. Maybe she could be called Goldilocks too.
Rarely seen. (Does she have a special place within in the home?) No photo.
Yes, yes, I realise that makes only 9 cats but would the title have had the same ring? It had to be 10. And let’s face it, at this rate, there could be new arrivals any day!
(This is a post for moodscope.com but I’m putting it here first.)
Yes, I know, I’m all about the “highly sensitive souls” but please, indulge me here for a few posts about very sensitive people. I need to purge these from my own sensitive soul and then, I promise, I’ll not harp on about the personality trait, again.
Despite having known for quite some years that I’m very sensitive and despite the fact that I keep a blog site with the words “sensitive souls” in the title, I’ve only just these past few months read properly Elaine Aron’s book entitled, Highly Sensitive People.
It has validated a lot that I’ve always “felt” (for starters, it’s no wonder my posts are often all about the feelings), but it has enlightened me on a whole lot more besides.
For now though: what exactly is it to be a highly sensitive person? Here’s what it is to me…
I recently read an incredible article explaining why the camera could never, nor will ever, be a match for the wondrous design of the eye. You can read the article in full here but, in brief, Danny Gregory, an artist and author, expresses with clarity that, “a camera sees only from a one-point, locked perspective that creates a single image of a specific vantage point…,” as opposed to the human eyes which “constantly move about…Our impression of what we’re looking at is actually lots of different perspectives all blending into one undulating picture”.
In articulating all of this Danny explained what the Cubism movement was all about and it was this that gripped me. I’ve re-read it again and again:
“Amazingly our brains take all this information and instantaneously create a sense of what we ‘see’. It’s not a single picture but lots of different impressions that are all blended together. (That’s what the Cubists were getting at, trying to record all those different angles and perspectives into a single painting to simulate the way that we see. They were trying to show the distinction between how humans see and what the camera was introducing. People think of Cubism as abstract art but it actually was an attempt to be even more accurate about literally how we see the world.)” (Note to the Picasso Museum in Barcelona: if you had Danny Gregory’s article, especially the bit in parenthesis, up for visitors to read, I can guarantee that more money would be spent in your gift shop. To understand Picasso’s Cubist work (I never have) is to want to buy memorabilia of it. Trust me on this.) See Picasso’s ‘Weeping Woman’ here.
It finally hit me in the small hours one night why I found this cerebration so poignant. For me, it explained perfectly how it is to feel highly sensitive. In the same way that the Cubists were trying express how the eye sees in comparison with the camera, so too the very sensitive soul feels/sees everything as if in 3D; the length, width, height, depth. And trying to convey this can be very challenging. The result often being that the very sensitive soul is misunderstood, just as the Cubist’s art was.
I leave the house and I see, feel, hear; I absorb everything. The cornices, design, era of every building I pass; the character of people by observing their gardens, wheelie bins or recycling boxes; I see pigeons swooping down invisible hills in the sky; aircraft flying overhead; I hear a police siren getting closer; I feel the moods of people that pass me by; the skinny cat from down the road – ‘is it cared for?'; I smell freshly mowed grass, pot from a house I’ve just passed; and I could go on and on and on here.
I’ve always seen this as a positive trait: observant. For the first time in my life, however, I grasp why walking into a room full of people, people I may know well and love, can, at times, be totally overwhelming. It’s a stimulus too many. It’s overpowering and often something has to give: I’ll turn on my heels and head back for the door, or, hide in the loo until I feel I can make another attempt at joining the throng.
It puts me in mind of watching a film in which someone is losing consciousness. As he or she is fading, things become exaggerated to him/her. The music seems distorted, the person talking to him/her become a kind of grotesque, wide-mouthed creature, talking too much and standing too close.
You may have seen the enchanting mini-series ‘Lost in Austen’. There is a very affecting moment where Mr Darcy of Pride and Prejudice, slips through a time rip from 19th-century Georgian England and finds himself in the present day, bang slap in the middle of Oxford Circus (or some equally a frantic paced place in the capital), London. This is a jolting, over-stimulating, terrifying moment for him and its poignancy is never lost on me.
This personality trait makes no one any better, or indeed, any weaker than anybody else. And, as with any trait, there will be varying shades of it. Once again though, doesn’t it go to show how learning about ourselves can be helpful, comforting (I’m not a “a mess”, my senses are just more quickly aroused), and can assist us to become more successful in handling daily life?
Sensitive and successful? A post from me soonly.
I play around with words all the time in my head and sometimes even out loud. What I haven’t done, in a very long time, is play with words on a Scrabble board. So, meet my trusty new tool, designed for morphing Scrabble tiles into other beauteous things (even if they don’t make a winning word score!).
A little bit of fiddling around with jewellry wire later and et voila… one pair of earrings and a brooch.
A book to inspire: ReCraft by Sara Duchars&Sarah Marks
Unable to sleep, as is often my custom, I was perusing the cuteness that is Cute Overload and accidentally reblogged one of their posts (I wouldn’t even know how to do that if I tried!). Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. 😣This WordPress malarkey is still work in process for me. Please excuse that dud post folks!
It’s not often I receive a phone call that goes something like this: “Hi Suzy, I’ll be flying my microlight on Thursday morning if you’d like to join me?”
Ever since that phone call I’ve been like a little girl, running around the playground, arms spread out like wings, singing:
I believe I can soar
I see me running through that open door
I believe I can fly,
I believe I can fly…
It was a beautiful thing to see my friend’s son (who started learning to fly at just 14), pilot with all the surety and confidence of someone who is doing nothing more than say, tying his shoe lace. And all that flight speak! I was sure at one point he was muttering a foreign language into that headset. I got to wear a headset too! (I’m sure that I’d really be a lot more cool if I could curtail some of my childish excitement. But never may that happen!)
I could ramble on all day about my mingling with the clouds above my home town but I’m not going to. It was something I felt. And sometimes, just sometimes, I don’t want to weigh, measure and assimilate everything into words.
Suffice to say, life can be glutted with disappointments, sadness and vexation but cruising in excess of 1000 feet above terra firma, floating smoothly along at 80mph, with views stretching out all around you, further than the eye can see, it felt calming. It really did feel like “everything is going to be ok in the end. And if it’s not OK, it’s not the end.”
If I just spread my wings
(I can fly)
I can fly
(I can fly, I can fly)
Following my soaring came a long noon of absorbing (and snoring), after a pleasant lunch at the Pheasant, Hightown, of course.
Holly Golightly adored Tiffany’s and me? I adore epiphanies.
I remember a glorious epiphany I had whilst on a private water taxi from Skopelos to Skiathos. As I sliced my hand through the turquoise waters, donning my shades and head scarf, hoping for an Audrey Hepburn look, I observed the Greek chap who was operating the wee boat. He spoke English with a New York drawl and was a fine looking fellow. Conversing with him, I realised a profound truth: should I ever marry, it would have to be to someone with whom I felt even freer than when single.
So, for example, should I decide to strip naked (I’m actually quite prudish but it just seems to nail my point here) and dance around the garden in the summer rain, just because I love summer rain, my husband wouldn’t fret and flap about what the neighbours might think. He would sigh, (probably wearily), and admit, ‘Ah yes, there goes my Suzy.’ Should I decide to slide down a banister in a public place, wave at passing aircraft or have a big rant over a rotten day he would accept it; accept me. In short, he would let me feel. He’d grasp my need for solitude too.
Whether in a depression or a “horrible high”, the clattering and clanging going on in my mind is of a different quality in sound but equally as distressing. When recovering from either, I find I’m allowed moments of tremendous clarity. Recovery from a depression can do that. It gives that part of us that has been screaming to be heard (our intuition) an attentive audience and sometimes, just sometimes, it affords sufficient silence/quiet to be heard.
It’s like a huge wrecking ball made from feathers and downing coming at you from the middle distance. It hits you hard but not unpleasantly and it comes as if from nowhere.
But does it? Come from nowhere, I mean?
I feel strongly that a depression is our body’s way of telling us that there’s a whole lot of stuff we’ve not yet dealt with. If we listen closely, it can tell us where we’re going wrong; what feeling/s we’re failing to take care of, or worse, ignoring.
“Don’t look for beauty. You must let beauty come to you. Those who look for beauty are mere journalists.”- Borges
Epiphanies cannot be forced. They come from allowing the feelings; taking care of the feelings. Just as a thorny cactus can sprout a colourful flower, even the messiest of feelings can give birth to beauty.
Ah yes, give me an epiphany over a Tiffany diamond any day.
Why is the first of page of a new journal, note or sketchbook so dashed exciting? So satisfying.
I think it may have something to do with the hopes we hold of it eventually containing musings that lead to life changing epiphanies. (Ooh my next post is called Breakfast at Epiphanies. Look out for it!).
Every time we open the cover of a new journal we don’t just get to start scribbling on fresh, virgin paper, we get to start afresh at uncovering more of who we are and what we are becoming.
By foraging, collecting, drawing, doodling, jotting stuff down we are getting to know ourselves. And that’s cool because whatever we learn about ourselves in this life, we will carry with us for always.
I bet it’s a bit like my wee bee here. Discovering a fresh flower that has not yet been pollinated must leave him grateful, ever eager for, and ponderous about life.
I’ve started a new sketchbook today and frankly, my first sketch is only decipherable by the soul that sketched it. Me. But that’s OK. It means something to me.
Out attempts at art can sometimes turn out pretty dire. So what? It’s merely an expression of where we are at today. And that’s beautiful. Every creative act teaches us something about something.
There’s a lesson to be had here somewhere. It takes me back to an old moodscope.com post I wrote, entitled, ‘The power of intention’. In part it said:
“I love to exercise with Elise Gulan. Not in person, alas, but to her ballet conditioning DVD. It’s a fabulous work-out, not just because I admire the graceful, strong limbs of a ballet dancer but also because it’s set in a beautiful, lush garden that sits alongside the Pacific Ocean. Clever location, very calming.
Whilst talking us through an exercise which involves lifting our leg off the floor, Elise says:
‘It doesn’t matter if our leg is one inch off the floor or fully extended. The power and the work comes from the intention of lifting the leg. Our flexibility will build with practice. Eventually, the energy will translate from the mind to the body.’
This morsel for the mind gives me hope. It’s a reminder of how powerful the connection is between the mind and the body…”
Whatever it is we are trying to attain, be it a better drawing, a more positive outlook or better health, it can eventually come with practice. The energy and power of intention will eventually translate to the body.
If this is the case then, even on our bad days, our intentions hold no less power than on our good days.
The more beauty we gather to our sensitive souls and hearts each day, especially by journal keeping, the more open and exposed we are to epiphanies, calm and, of course, more beauty.
Here’s to your first page.
PS. Writing this I was thinking about a wish that I often utter: if only I had a little screen, maybe on the back of my head, that forever updated every single one of my intentions. This is a part of my mind that never stops and it’s painful when, if due to the busyness of life or poor health, one can’t fulfill the 100’s of good intentions, be they to others, life, goals or yourself. And worse yet, no one sees all the good in you that you can’t always translate into action.
But thinking on it, if that happened, ole Charlie Dicken’s words could never be true.
“A wonderful fact to reflect upon, that every human creature is constituted to be that profound secret and mystery to every other.”
And also, should someone be able unlock ‘that profound secret’ it wouldn’t be special if everyone could read you like a book, now would it?
When poorly, our mind may struggle to home in and concentrate on anything with any degree of integrity. One thing that did, miraculously, manage to enrapture me during recent sickness however, was watching Coldplay on BBC Radio 1’s Big Weekend in Glasgow. Watching the concert, you’ll observe a phenomenon peculiar to such events and that is this: 60,000+ people feel compelled to hold up their arms and point up to the sky. Heck, I was lying in bed and felt the need to do it!
It got me thinking did this. Our bodies obviously mirror how we feel, we know that. Yet that gesture of holding our hands high and into the sky is, I feel, almost spiritual in nature. It screams, ‘I’m open to the world, I’m open to life and I’m open to the universe beyond’. (Strangely, just writing those words down caused something visceral to occur within me. My stomach lurched and my eyes welled up. I think it’s saying, ‘See! There is life within me. I do want to live!’ But I’ve interrupted myself…)
What causes that compulsion to throw our hands in the air on such occasions? Well, in this instance, it was listening to the music. Somewhere deep inside, it offered the opposite to attrition; to a deeply languid soul it gave nutrition. Instead of enervating it was invigorating.
Watching Chris Martin, the lead singer of Coldplay, you see that using his body, he is a master of self expression. He becomes almost amorphous, if that’s the right expression, as each limb feels the cadence of the music.
It made me ponder upon the circumstances when my own body moves of its own accord, as if separate from my mind. Whenever I’ve been abroad, for example, on returning home I seem to naturally comport myself differently; almost floating instead of walking, like an eagle gliding on thermals. It’s as if tasting the air of another land, living a different life, helps me feel that despite the caged circumstances I currently find myself in, I’ve at least managed to spread my wings and fly, even if only for a short time. The way I move then reflects that.
I often mutter the final words from the poem Words From a Totem Animal by W.S. Merwin:
Send me out into another life
Lord because this one is growing faint
I do not think it goes all the way
Another life may not be possible today, but I’ve learned this week that moving my beautiful body (not beautiful in a super model kind of a way but beautiful in a ‘I’m wonderfully made’ kind of way), even if it’s stretching up to the sky, keeps life surging through me. It offers small pockets of air in a suffocated mind, thus granting a grateful nod from my mind to my body that says, ‘Ok, you win today, I’ll curl up and die another day’.
A small but important victory for the body over the mind.
(This was a contribution to moodscope.com. Measure your mood today!)
Those gracious moodscopers know how to hearten a gal: