Meditating

When I wake in the mornings, usually just before 6.00am, the house is always quiet. It’s always quiet when I go to bed as well. So these past few mornings and evenings I’ve been trying to practice the ‘mindful breathing’ exercises of meditation. Your know, where you clear your mind and focus on nothing but your breathing.

I get off to a good start. I concentrate on my breathing. Inhale. Exhale. But, pretty soon, I start to think about how I’ll write about this activity. So I refocus and concentrate on my breathing again. And then a car goes past and I wonder who’s in it and where they’re going at this time of day. I refocus again until I realise that the room is cold and yet I’m feeling rather warm. I refocus. And so it goes on.

It is so easy to get distracted. The secret is to accept the distractions; it’s just one of those things and there’s no need to feel guilty about it.

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Book Review 1

This is one of the free books I downloaded recently. It’s also one I deleted when only a few pages in because I really couldn’t engage with either of the two main characters.

The plot, as far as I read, is two sisters. One, Katie, enjoys a carefree, married life with no intention of ever having children. The other, Joely, is unmarried, doesn’t have a partner, but desperately wants children. With no prospect of children on the horizon, Joely mercilessly nags her Katie about providing her with a niece or nephew. Joely then finds she has a serious illness which can be treated but the treatment will leave her infertile. She goes, with Katie, to the hospital to start the treatment but, literally on the doorstep of the treatment room, she refuses to go in. She won’t have the treatment unless Katie promises to have a baby. Without the treatment Joely will die, Katie makes the promise. Will she keep the promise and have a baby or will she keep her earlier promise to her husband that they won’t have a family?

And this is where I gave up. I could understand Katie’s desperation to keep her little sister alive but what sort of a monster is Joely? She actually blackmailed her sister with ‘have a baby or I’ll die’. Who, outside ‘chick-lit’ fiction, would do that? I found at this point that I really didn’t care how the story ended up so I decided not to waste any more time on it.

It’s deleted and I’ve moved on. Crime fiction next – a tale of blood and gore. A genre much more to my taste.

Books

I must have about 200 unread books on my iPad Kindle app.Some weeks ago I came across the ‘Book Bub’ service. It offers, on a daily basis, downloadable books at ridiculously low prices and some books are free. So, since signing up for the service, I’ve downloaded most of the free books. Some of the books came as a box-set so a few of the ‘books’ are, in fact a set of three, four or even five books.When am I going to read these books? I have to confess that I’ve started some, decided they weren’t for me, gave up and deleted them. I’m sure more will go the same way.I’ve stopped downloading them now. I must read or cull what I’ve already got before taking up space with yet more. And I might even post a few reviews, good and bad, along the way.

Season Of Mists……

It’s that time of year when someone trots out that opening line –

“Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness…”

Every year I think to myself that I really must learn the rest of the poem, but I never do.

Here is the poem in full:

“Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,

Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;

Conspiring with him how to load and bless

With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;

To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,

And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;

To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells

With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,

And still more, later flowers for the bees,

Until they think warm days will never cease,

For Summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?

Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find

Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,

Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;

Or on a half-reap’d furrow sound asleep,

Drows’d with the fume of poppies, while thy hook

Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers;

And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep

Steady thy laden head across a brook;

Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,

Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.

Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?

Think not of them, thou hast thy music too –

While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,

And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;

Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn

Among the river sallows, borne aloft

Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;

And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;

Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft

The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;

And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.”

Quite honestly, I don’t think the rest of the poem lives up to its opening lines. I do like the last two lines though. Shame about all the bits in the middle.

Privacy

Tomorrow I have a day off work.

One of my sons asked me if I minded my husband being at work tomorrow instead of being at home with me. Before I could answer he pointed out that I never get any time to myself so, thinking about it, I probably don’t mind being home alone tomorrow.

It’s true, though, what my son said. I never do get time to myself. I enjoy ‘me’ time. I’m more than happy in my own company. However, at work I’m surrounded by people which is fine. You expect that at work. And, at home, I’m never by myself. Over the past four and a half years my family have tried, not always successfully, to never let me be at home by myself. Quite what they think will happen to me I don’t know but there was a time when none of them would make plans to go out unless they knew that one of the others would be home to look after me. But, every time I moved, someone would ask me where I was going or what I was doing. If I got up to get a drink or something to eat someone would say that they could have got it for me. There was one occasion when I was at home by myself when I got my car out so I could look for something in the garage. I put it away before anyone got home but my husband and eldest son both knew, somehow, that the car had been moved and wanted to know why. Why did they need to know?

I love my family and don’t want them to think I’m ungrateful for what they do for me. There are times, though, when I wish they would just give me some space.

Owls

I said a couple of days ago that I hadn’t heard the dawn chorus this year. I put it down to the loss of perches and feeding stations for the birds in the neighbourhood.

However, this morning, as I lay awake between 2.00am and 2.30am, I heard an owl. It was obviously close by but I don’t know where. The night was otherwise silent so it sounded really clear and really close.

It’s such a haunting, spooky sound.

The Dawn Chorus

A few mornings ago as I was lying awake at 6.00am, wondering whether to get up, I heard a bird singing. And it occurred to me that I haven’t heard the dawn chorus at all his year.

It’s too late in the year now as birds tend to sing the dawn chorus in Spring when they are defending territory but, earlier in the year, I didn’t hear it at all.

Until about six years ago we had several large shrubs in our front garden. One was so large it almost qualified as a tree. We had them all removed to make way for,the block paving of the drive. After they had gone, I realised that this was where our early morning birds had congregated and now, by their removal, we had deprived them of their perches. And not only their perches but also a valuable food source – the berries in the winter and the insects the birds fed on throughout the year.

As I look out of my window now I see that so many trees in our road have been lost. For houses with such small gardens it’s surprising how many trees we used to accommodate. But, as properties have changed hands, new owners have wanted to make their mark and, in many cases, have ripped the garden out and started again. No-one else has turned their garden into a car park as we have but neither have they planted trees or shrubs to replace what’s been lost.

Potholes

I hope a row about potholes isn’t about to flare up.

We live on a road which is mostly unadopted which means it isn’t maintained at public expense. The homeowners are responsible for its upkeep.

After a few bad winters recently, several potholes have begun to appear in the road. There is one at the start of the road which everyone has to drive over or around, one on the border between us and next door which everyone except three households has to drive over or around and one at the top of the road (we live in a cul-de-sac) which affects only 6 of the 14 households, and even then there is usually a 4 x 4 parked over it so no-one has to drive through it anyway.

We found out yesterday that one of the householders has sent a spiteful, anonymous letter to the people who live in the first house as you enter the road (number 1A). It demands that they do something about the pothole outside their house or risk being sued for damage to vehicles as a result of driving through the hole. I had assumed that the letter had come from the people who live at the end of the road at number 10. These are people who treat the road like a race track and intimidate learner drivers. It seemed to be the sort of thing they would do.

However, number 10 is affected by all three potholes but we didn’t get a letter about the hole outside our house, nor did the people who ‘own’ the hole further up the road. Surely we would have done if number 10 were the letter-writer? So, some of the residents are suggesting that the letter was sent by a household which is only affected by that one pothole. This would mean the people at number 13.

The difficulty here is that the people at number 13 are too open and above board to stoop to such underhand methods. At least, I would assume they are. I might be wrong about them.

The daft thing is, the relevant pothole is in the part of the road which is adopted. It is, therefore, the responsibility of the local authority to fill it in, not of the people at 1A.

The thing that annoys me most, though, about this is that the letter is not, strictly speaking, anonymous. It claims to be from “the residents” of the road. One household has sent this letter claiming that it’s from the rest of us, and it isn’t.

This was a cowardly act and it’s left me feeling a bit on edge.

The End of Summer

It’s still early enough in the year, on the first of this month, to still be clinging on to the tail end of Summer. But how quickly the season changes throughout the month. It’s as if Summer is being packed away; the vibrant colours of the flowers slide into the warm russets and reds, crimsons and golds of Autumn. A few dry leaves lie scattered around the garden and the first immature windfall confers begin to appear under the trees. Wisps of smoke float through the air as the first fires are lit and their warm acrid scent permeates the atmosphere. It’s the month of the Autumnal Solstice when the year begins its hectic rush to its conclusion.

I always feel a sense of peace as September gets underway. The year draws to a close, the days draw in and the nights get longer. Comfort food is back on the menu and warm, woolly jumpers, hats and gloves appear from the back of the wardrobe. I feel at one with the pace, the rhythm and the predictability of the season.

There is also, though, a sense of sadness. The year dies and it’s a reminder of our own mortality. The year will be born again, but not us. We continue onwards towards our own inevitable conclusion.

Losing Interest

I can’t believe that the impossible has actually happened. I have lost interest in crochet!! Who would have thought it? I’ve had a couple of bits on the go:(this is just one piece; I’m so uninterested in it that I haven’t taken any photos of the other).

I have, however, been having a go at decoupage. I had a day off work yesterday and made this:It’s a papier-mâché bowl I covered which I’m rather pleased with. I also covered a small wooden box which I haven’t photographed. My husband is so relieved that I’ve temporarily (and I’m sure it is only temporary) abandoned the crochet that he’s offered to put his own wood-working skills to good use and create some more wooden boxes and blank ‘shapes’ for me to cover.

I also made some little cardboard boxes yesterday from some cut-outs which came with a magazine I bought last month:They are called ‘instant comfort pocket boxes’ and are the size of a matchbox and are quite cute. I don’t know what I can use them for, unless I keep a pet ladybird but that seems a bit cruel.

News about Marbles: he started to develop a bald patch between his shoulder blades. It turns out to have been an allergic reaction to an ‘external parasite’ so we’re treating him with some fancy ointment from the vet.