Day to day musings of a cat minder/ sitter in North Tyneside and Newcastle upon Tyne . For details of services go to

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Sunday, 27 April 2008

Hard to write at the minute, at least hard to write and put it out there . I never find it hard to write , in fact you may have noticed I find it hard to curb myself and were it not for these " how to succeed at blogging " blogs full of handy hints and tips ( hint one never blog more than once a day ) , I would most likely be at it thrice daily least ways when not at the Day Job when mostly the brain hurts too much for anything except being led by the nose by the greyhound cats and daughter , in that order upon my return to home and hearth .

Its the age old problem of what can appear on a blog and what can't . So many of the things I would love to write about are work related ... and those that aren't would impact on other people . Maybe I need another , anonymous writing space , but I would in time get mixed up . Suffice to say these last weeks and the last couple of days have involved some heavy conversations about problem drinking and how it affects kids , mental health and what that means , what migraine medication has done to my life and my memory ( my day seems to start at five am and ends effectively at 10pm and my memory is a thing of the past ... memory ? what memory ? ) I discovered via a rumour that one of my friends is moving out of the area , couldn't quite believe that she is really moving , didn't want to believe it and now have to start facing it as I received a text from her to say their house is up for sale and its happening .

But there has been some good news . ( Those with a weak stomach or the highly sensitive may wish to skip the next paragraph in its entirety ) The camper van is booked for a week in July , starting in York so I have at least a vague plan to spend the first night in Bronte country ( Haworth ) which I've visited before though I don't think D has . His son( early twenties, shares his father's interest in so called performance cars ) is appalled that his dad would even contemplate driving such a vehicle ( completely uncool ) and tried hard to dissuade him from making the booking . The best part about this was hearing D describe Alice to the van hire people as a " little " greyhound and very well behaved ( ahem ) , noting that she sleeps 23 and a half hours per day ( largely true ) . He didn't mention the ongoing tussle between Alice and the various human members of the household for Leader of the Pack or Top Dog status ( which deserves a post of its own ) , including the latest " I have a long grass stalk sticking out of my bottom which I can't expel and you will have to help me D " look ( presenting said rear end complete with protruding flag ) , to which I respond by walking off telling her to "deal with it, Alice other dogs manage " , whereas D in long suffering manner assists with baby wipe and poo bag .
My sister had long advised me about Top Dog status in her own establishment , her border terrier cross jack russel dog Grommit fully recognising her husband as the highest ranking family member , with the eldest boy George second and Harvey the little lad next . The elder daughter mostly away at uni( and female anyway ) didn't count and my sister despite feeding Grommit every meal he had ever eaten , petting him and generally cleaning up after him and attending to his every whim was Bottom of the Pecking Order . Imagine how that went down .
I asked how she knew this . She provided a demonstration one Sunday when we went for afternoon tea . In the farmhouse kitchen is a large low coffee table just above Grommit -height .
I was instructed to take a note ( either a ten or a five pound ) from my handbag and place it somewhere on the coffee table then just keep an eye on it as we talked . I did this and as I watched Grommit sidled over to the table , slid his head across the table after a few minutes , when our attention had been dsitracted and slowly took the note in his mouth and slid it towards himself . Once he pulled it off onto the floor without being stopped he scopped it up carefully , trotted over to my sister's husband and quietly gave him the money . We were amazed at this ... apparently if Peter was not at home , the money , or any other choice morsel or treat the dog saw as fitting , would be given next to George and finally Harvey would be offered the gift . Nothing for Laura . Bottom of the pile .

As I say this subject warrants a post of its own .
But finally a joke from Peter .
Question from Laura .... mentioning some friends acquiring a shi-tsu crossed with a Jack Russell , asked " what would you call that ?
Peter, (quick as a flash ) : "A Jack Shit " .

Thursday, 24 April 2008


Lest any of you are in attendance at the blog for the guinea pig content I should let you know that I am reliably informed that the big guinea pigs that Nigel was waxing lyrical about the other night when I was trying to sloth in front of the tv are in fact likely to be capybara ( plural or singular I cannot say , though I am sure a comment will appear in due course ) . Large brown beasties with snub noses which can be viewed in real life ( for the UK residents ) at TrottersTrotters World of Animals : animal park in the lake district, animals, keswick near Keswick in Cumbria ( one of those viewing farm establishments so beloved of families with toddlers and small children myself included though my child has long outgrown that stage and I am now forced to acknowedge we attend for me ) . They reside in close proximity to the tapirs , another strong favourite of mine . ( Previous encounters with Topamax have led to my impersonating and indeed believing myself to be a tapir on occasion but that's another story CatCalls: The Tapir).
My sister is a veritable mine of information . Would you recall the name capybara ? I wouldnt . This I know for sure . Tapir now .....

Two and a half days of migraine... without a break except when under the blissful effects of Immigran , Volterol , sleep and the waterbed .

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

the right job

There must be moments ( or whole days ) when many if us wonder if we are indeed in the right job .

I have just watched fifteen minutes of a wildlife programme hosted by Nigel , who appeared to be lying in a swamp somewhere in very close proximity to some very big brown guinea pigs . They had a name but it was so out of this world I couldn't quite catch it . I'm also high on migraine pills which explains my inadequacies , usually I would have been onto google to check their identity , but I simply stared in amazement and wished I was Nigel as he sounded so happy , so bouyant and so full of , yes joy . Something I feel most days I have a CatCall , but though I do really enjoy my other work , its just not quite the same . faced with someone I am assessing , or sitting staring at my laptop for inspiration as I try to hammer out a report I cannot quite summon the ecstatsy I was sensing was part of Nigels workaday experience , leastways when he was lying in that swamp .

In fact so inspired was I by Nigel that I texted my sister, but not being quite with it got myself in quite a tangle with predictive texting and suggested she take a look at the rodents on no 5 , her reply text came back slightly incredulous " what ? the hippos? " ( amazing how fast things move on channel five ) , my response was meant to say "no the pigsters in the water with Nigel " but pigster read " shirter" ...and water , yards ..... thus a completely incomprehensible text .

" Nigel was with some cute big shirter things in the yards a minute ago ." You've missed them now . ( I wanted to add grumpily , but desisted ) . Somehow my attempt to share Nigel's joy was threatening to take over and I put my phone down , vowing to live in the moment and just do what Nigel did and watch and learn and ... well ... just that .....nothing else .
And I did .
And for the remaining three minutes of the programme it was bliss .

Sunday, 20 April 2008

Tom McLaughlin

For those regular followers of the blog who know that Nat's cousin Oliver Jeffers, artist and children's author--: Oliver Jeffers :-- has recently had a portrait accepted at the National Portrait Gallery , you may also be interested to know that her brother Tom has an exhibition of his poems and art in Exeter until May Tom McLaughlin and I have it on good authority that Paper Girl will be arriving at our house at the end of the exhibition .

Can you tell its a seal ?

We could even see its whiskers .
It was bobbing along beside us as we walked along the pier at Tynemouth , thick necked and chasing seagulls off as they swooped low to see if it had fish . Click on the photo to enlarge ? Or not , possibly !

Saturday, 19 April 2008

St Mary's Island on a sunnier evening

Ms CatCalls demolishes part of a gatepost .. or thinks she does

I used to find my horoscopes spoke to me in some deep and meaningful way , so much so that I arranged to have one delivered to my e mail in box every morning . However increasingly , it seems out of kilter with my real life existence ....

Yesterday was the final day of my Day Job hols , a day for pottering and catching up on a few bits and pieces .
The horoscope read as follows :

"A desire to redecorate, remodel or otherwise beautify your home might tempt you to spend a little too much today. This is fine, as long as you make sure you overspend on what you really want or need. Don't get so carried away that you might have to take unwanted stuff back to the store! You might invite some people over tonight, but again, be careful you don't invite too many. "Excess" is the keyword for today, Ms CatCalls. Avoid it! "

Today I cast my mind back to yesterday's reality .

Alice sleeps in after the trip out yesterday .

I luxuriate in bed from 6 onwards listening for her bell and reading Sarah Challis and texting Nat who is allegedly travelling back from Plymouth though there are several false starts as they have set out at eight thirty sharp and got some way along the route only to find that the car is still fitted with the boys' baby seats . Matters are compounded by the fact that Nat's GHD s are still plugged in at her sister's , thus they must retrace their steps . Their ETA is therefore now 6 30 pm rather than 3 30 . She informs me that she will therefore arrive back and have to leave immediately to go to a party . We can therefore spend some time together on saturday by way of compensation , she proposes .

I am finally driven from bed by Kitty worming her way under my book and refusing to leave me to read . I make a batch of brownies then head out for a CatCall with swimming gear under my arm . It is pouring . Thoughts of remodelling my home are never further from my mind . Remodelling my life maybe , picking up sticks and moving somewhere less cold and wet maybe ?
Miserable day .

The cats are indoors , stretching and squeaking quietly when I go in , keen to see whether I am providing tuna or something they find less palatable . I fill bird feeders in the rain and am rewarded with a performance by Mr Blackbird who ( with his partner ) has a nest above the patio and sits on the wire watching me watching him . As I approach to throw food into the fish pond he dances unhappily and flies across and away to distract me from the nest .... I return to the house not wanting to upset him further . I leave a note for the family as it is my last day and return the key .

Having had to park the car in the drive unusually, due to a surfeit of cars in the road , I reverse out listening to a programme on Radio 4 about whether or not fathers should be permitted to stay on the ward after their babies have been born . I have mixed feelings about this . I would rather my partner had been permitted to stay before the baby was born , when I was admitted but before there was a space for me in the delivery room but that's a whole other story . I hated being in labour on my own throughout the night and then ..... oh hang on I'm going to go off on a massive rant here .... in fact a really massive rant . Probably why I found myself unable to get out of the drive properly , and having to take the sharp corner again and wondering as I drove off what that funny scraping noise on my first " take " was . By this time I am telling the radio presenter my birthing experiences . I can confirm she is not listening .

Suffice to say I went swimming and as I swam up and down thinking back decided it might be politic to take a look at the car . My swimming gets faster and faster .... twenty lengths flashes past in the twinkling of an eye . I have almost given birth again . Ha ! the car has a little scrape along the bumper and some on the paintwork . I then start wondering about the wall or gate or whatever in the driveway I had departed and drove back that way to take a look .

Horrors !

Could remodelling my home have involved demolishing the gatepost of one of my CatCalling customers ? All I could see as I drove up was the stone post , with the top piece of stone perched loosely on the top . I pull up and stare . It looks as if someone ( me ? ) has knocked it down and then picked it up and placed it back on top as if trying to conceal the fact that they knocked it down ( not me! ) . A car drives past , two men inside appearing to stare accusingly at me . I want to raise my hands at them in that universal " Who me ? What ? " gesture , so beloved of Nat whenever I ask her anything about anything . ( Paranoia setting in here )

I get out of the car and examine the scrape on the car and the gatepost and decide it is actually unlikely the two are connected . The height of the damages are different for one thing . There is a little stone dust on the path which corresponds with the damage I have caused , but I can't be sure , so I leave a note to explain and push it through the door , hoping the family will be able to understand my garbled explanation .

The rain goes on .. and on ... and on . Alice misses her morning walk as she is not keen on wet beaches when the wind is blowing a gale .
I can confirm that my sole purchase during the whole day is a seat cover for the car ( £4.99 from Aldi , an extremely cheap shop which I visit for the first time ) which will stop Alice slipping onto the floor with her cushions and bean bags when we fly round corners , in fact it stops her gaining access to the floor at all or the front seats , incredibly useful when she wishes to sit on my lap as I am driving . She is far too tall and skinny and her legs are far too pointy and sharp .

My evening entertainment involved a walk to st Mary's island . I didnt invite anyone home with me . It was so freezing there wasn't a soul else out there . Sad or what ? Maybe I just need a new horoscoper . Is that even a word ?

Mr W phones later to explain I have not demolished the post . Such relief .

Friday, 18 April 2008

Day Trip to Holy Island

Yesterday was Day Trip to Holy Island day , complete with grehound slipping all over the back seat at we took the coastal route which is supposed to be enjoyed at a leisurely pace . Thanks however to a slightly tardy start and a CatCall en route , and said greyhound needing comfort breaks halfway there , the second part of the journey was somewhat faster than the first an d involved much sighing on her part as she gritted her teeth and tried to cling to her beanie seat , and much tutting on my part ( nerves and irritation at the thought of missing the tides ) . Last time for crossing the causeway to the island was flagged on the tide tables as 12 noon . At 12 noon we were still ( allegedly) half an hour's drive away , albeit hurtling round country lanes , with D telling me there was no issue and we would make it . I had visions of the car floating away on the tide and me and him clinging to Alice ( pained expression no doubt ) in the escape- box-on-a-stick .

However , as is often the case in such matters , he was quite right and we made it indeed with half an hour to spare ( pah! Tide tables ! ) and we had to wait to see the water lapping across the road behind us ( I like to frighten myself after the event ....... ) meaning we were truly trapped on an island for five whole hours . Or indeed , four whole hours given the tide tables were wrong .
And the sun shone for us and we found some crinoids on the beach
crinoids st cuthberts beads - Google Image Search and Alice met some little girls from Falkirk in Scotland who were very taken with her , and we met an American man who was staying for two nights and was very taken with our search for the crinoids ( fascinated by our sitting hunched over the sand sifting through patiently till we find a tiny fossilized shell ) and we walked by the lobster pots and the sheep and lambs and coffee shops and ate a picnic entirely composed of carbohydrates as someone forgot to pack the protein .
Leaving at the last minute we drove through the water splashing across the causeway ( argh ! ) heading for a final walk on the rocks at Bamburgh where we found a painting of a deer on the rocks and then Seahouses for fish and chips .
A plan which has been fermenting for some time bubbled along a little further . We have a week in July when Nat is away in France and rather than fly somwhere for a week ourselves which was the plan , we consider hiring a camper van and taking off with Alice for some kind of adventure . Having owned such a camper van in the past , when Nat was a tiny baby , I know many of the pitfalls . It is however long enough ago that I have forgotten most of them , and remember instead the delights of the freedom to go where you chose , to pack up on a whim , to have everything with you and within reach at all times . The picnics in the van , the little meals cooked on the stove , sliding the doors across and having a barbecue just at the back door , the hot sunshine always there ( what ? Am I deluded ? Most of my old photos show driving rain and me holding a baby in the front seat whilst reading a newspaper .....the baby is always smiling but she was that kind of baby ) ... I could go on ....the plan is evolving as I said .
Needless to say Alice slept in again this morning ....

Thursday, 17 April 2008


Alice is happy . Completely wrapped in between two layers of a duvet , just her toes sticking out . Once in this position it takes a lot to shift her .

Love Hearts or External Male Genitalia -You Decide.

Toby our Birman boy ( albeit looking more like a Ragdoll as he has the Wrong Paws ) helping fold the laundry .
Some debate as to whether the design on the duvet looks more like love hearts or external male genitalia . I say hearts , what do you think ? You may need to click on the picture for a closer look . Of course you may not wish to !

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

Barter Books

Yesterday was a Barter Books day Barter Books - One of the largest second hand book shops in Europe. and involved , after a brilliantly warm and sunny walk on the beach ( to tire out the greyhound ) , a drive to Alnwick crissong ( or crossing ) country to pick up a mother and a flask of coffee , an altercation with a SatNav , several false starts , a conversation with a greyhound loving window cleaner (whose partner sadly didn't feel the same) about how easy it is to settle a rescue dog into the family ( it is the work of minutes, nay seconds if you don't count the odd puddles ), the jubilant production of the disabled badge allowing us to park car and dog right outside the station which houses the bookshop thus enabling us to keep an eye on Alice who sat upright keeping one eye and one ear on us during the hour we perused the collection of second hand books . The old station is amazing . Its not new to me but there are always new books and as you step inside the smell of old paper is wonderful . A model train is set up above eye level and chugs past from time to time adding a quirkiness to the place . The old fashioned waiting rooms are still intact offering space to sit and peruse the books , music , dvds and magazines , and at the front is an open fire with a coffee pot percolating away with home made biscuits on offer . The leather sofas are popular and occasionally house a dozing " reader " , and sometimes the genuine article . Most people are avidly searching the shelves however, an air of excitement and buzz rarely felt in a bookshop . Here there are genuine bargains and real finds to be had , first editions in mint condition , ancient books of poems and all manner of droppping to pieces cookery books full of old fashioned recipes from yesteryear . There is something for everyone .

We finally leave with an assortment of goodies and Alice has a lollop on the lawn to the side .
At my parents house she then chases the cat up the tree in the garden and falls into the pond. Satisfied with her day , she falls asleep exhausted in the back of the car and snores till we arrive home an hour later .

Having missed her afternoon sleep tells on her and she sleeps in this morning .... I miss my morning wake up call at 6 am and D has to wake her at seven thirty ... bliss ..... !

Monday, 14 April 2008

Semi naked man in freezing temperatures

Click on the photo . Trust me ... I couldn't resist posting this picture of our local runner who strips off most days come rain hail or shine as a fiddle but probably in his eighties ?
The ironic thing ... I was photographing from the top of the cliffs as we had just come up off the beach , and so couldn't capture the Boot Camp crowd just to the left in the same shot , but they were fully dressed in sports gear with sleeves and legs covered , and were all probably in their twenties .

Aphasia ?

Fascinating article about aphasia in Times2 this morning I wanted to say "I've had a stroke" because of the aphasia I couldn't - Times , striking a particular chord for me as someone usually articulate who loses words throughout the day thanks to the side effects of epilepsy drugs and as the evening wears on becomes increasingly inarticulate until at around ten pm it all goes pear shaped .

My intellect intact , I am completely aware that I am not making sense , but also inable ( inable ? unable surely ...) to put this right and so at around this time I usually get off the floor so to speak and depart the social areas of the house , heading for bed and the cats who tend not to notice .

Last night was a case in point . My 14 year old daughter , possibly aware that she was going away for a few days , had brought down a dvd ( Titanic ) for us all to watch together , but by ten thirty I was laregly incoherent .
Keeping quiet , reading the paper , e mailing , one eye on the tv I can just about manage though I also find sitting still very difficult . I stand and try to interact with Jessie . Talking to cats is simple , even for me after the ten pm watershed , as it involves nothing more than muttered endearments , Puss , Poppet and the like .....I then catch sight of Alice the greyhound and head over to sit near her but make the first mistake , calling her Puss .As the word pops out , clearly I know its wrong but there is no way I can rectify it fast enough . So begins a monologue .....
Puss ..... Puss ... oh no not Puss , you're not a Puss , you're that other Business ( for some reason the word Business is one which features a lot for me )......
at which point I catch sight of D's mouth twitching slightly at me calling Alice "that other Business ".
Alice merely sighs as greyhounds do and shifts to lean more heavily on me , happy at any and all attention .
Jess the bravest of the cats then climbs gingerly up onto the sofa to inspect the dog more closely than she ever has and I desperately want to draw attention to this , but I can find no words , other than Look at this business ...... Nat raises her eyebrows slightly but is so used to me she says nothing .

Soon afterwards I retire for the night , completely past my verbal sell by date .

I read for a while , with a clump of cats surrounding me . They expect no conversation , something of a relief .
D informs me this morning that he came up soon after , and I appeared to have fallen asleep reading . He asked if I was ok . NO . I said firmly and somewhat crossly . Oh , What's the matter , he asked , solicitously . I CAN'T REMEMBER . I grumble and am asleep again .
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Sunday, 13 April 2008

Air lock in the water bed again

We have an airlock .
Its a complete mystery to me how a water bed can fill up with air not three weeks since we last " bled" the air out of it and filled it full of hot water again .
And what a carry on that proved to be ....The hose has to be dragged up from the yard ( cleaned first ) , the nozzle attachement located next ( a half day job , not mine I hasten to add ) , the bed itself stripped , and wait for it , the cats removed ( and kept out of the room , no mean feat when a hose has to run from bedroom to bathroom along the upper landing ).
I remember it well .
I had a funny feeling about that event and sat it out downstairs until my presence was requested .
By the time I was called up D was hopping from room to room as cats watched in fury at being ousted from the warmth of their own personal heated bed , trying to gain entry each time he opened the door .
The bathroom was in a state of some disarray , the basin taps having a hose attachment in their general vicinity , applied with the aid of several elastic bands ( post office issue ) and squirting water up the mosaic mirrors , across the " I can see myself in the roll top bath if I wish to mirror " in a generous fountain , anywhere in fact but down the hose and along the pipe and into the water bed outlet . The Ikea bathmat was drenched and several of the towels had seen better days .

I survey the scene and remind him the taps configuration didn't look like this last time . ( talk about stating the bleedin' obvious )

Suffice to say after a certain amount of pressure is applied to the taps and attachments ( rather than my neck ) the problem is remedied and a vast quantity of hot water is relayed to the bed . Always a tricky moment working out whether the hose will deliver the water onto or into the mattress ....... ?? By now all attempts to keep cats out is at an end and there is an audience of four ..... cute faces with whiskers all watching intently , the ocasional squabble breaking out over who gets closest to the action .
An equally large amount of air is pumped out .

And with this in mind I find it hard to understand where this new air has arrived from , though I have my theories , relating to nocturnal male flatulence , which are heartily rejected .

It is the cougar all over again .
When travelling to Kirkharle in search of Kendal Mint Cake for Amelia , my stepdaughter,
this afternoon a creature stepped onto the road and I became convinced it was a cougar ( or a lynx possibly ) but D simply gave me a suspicious glance when I mentioned this . He often does not know how to take me . I suppose it could have been a rabbit .

Flatulence aside however , male , female or feline , it is a mystery how a bed which was completely bled of air suddenly fills up again and sprouts visible rugby balls at various points , causing the bed to splosh alarmingly during the night even when a small cat lands or takes off .

No wonder my dreams are so full of this and that and even in my waking hours I can honestly say nothing seems to make much sense .
Maybe I have an air lock in my brain ?

"Tit for tat Tesco bulldozer case "

Reported in today's Times :
A woman in Kirkby, Knowsley , has submitted a planning application to knock down the home of Sir Terry Leahy, the head of Tesco , because his firm wants to bulldoze her house to make way for a supermarket. Dot Reid, 58, paid £265 to submit the plan to demolish his mansion in Hertfordshire.

This made me laugh out loud .What's the right thing to say here ? You go , Dot Reid !

Saturday, 12 April 2008

dreams and wierd texts

Funny how the mind stores information for years and years and then shots it out in a flash in a dream when least expected .
Greyhound Alice likes to get me up at six these days and this morning it was six and six ten and then six thirty . Her tummy gurgles and bubbles and she can't re settle on the sofa under even the softest fleece until she 's had breakfast some days , so I oblige , go back to bed , read The Cat Sanctuary By Patrick Gale for a bit tussling with Kitty all the while and then Toby edges his way in cautiously and we all fall back to sleep for an hour . These are when my strangest dreams emerge , and the times when I often wish I'd stayed awake ....

My Grandma and Grandad had a farm from when I was born until they retired from farming when I was 11 or 12 . In those years we would visit the farm every weekend and often during school holidays me and my sister would stay there as well . Since they left in 1970 then I've not stayed there again though I've visited and walked past . But that's almost forty years gone by . My dream was clear as if I was there yesterday , at the farm , but not with my grandparents , who are dead these last fourteen or fifteen years . I am walking out of the farm track with D , berating him for over feeding Alice , who is looking more like a fat labrador than a greyhound ( in the dream ) , dragging her stomach on the ground, ( and probably representing myself in the not too distant future ? ) .
The steep cliff face in front of us has been changed beyond all recognition , landscaped and terraced and is completely taken up with tents , people camping one above the other . Closer inspection shows the tents are semi see through , all are full of sleeping bags with people sleeping and some just rising . Beside each tent is a cage . Some of the cages hold kittens , beautiful white Birmans , chinchillas , guinea pigs , baby rabbits , all kinds of soft furry pets , all loooking happy and well cared for , camping on the steep hillside . In one cage alongside a small hopping white baby rabbit with flop ears , is a small child , crouched to fit the cage . I turn to look at D , knowing this is something we need to investigate .
Something furry from one of the cages reaches out and touches my face . I shiver and wake . It is Toby , pawing my face , claws retracted .
I feel wierd .

Yesterday I have migraine so I up the dose of topamax as suggested by the consultant . Its all an experiment to find the does that suits me . I found a dose last year which wiped out the migraines but which seemed to adversely affect me in aother ways . But I cannot go on like this .

Yesterday's appointments have been shunted forwards onto today . My friend D and I are planning some work together and she is due to arrive at 2 pm . At 1 I receive the following enigmatic text from her , texting not being her strong suit :

"Going to be 2 30 pm as have just got of session and gay door waxing advice as neighbour bitten by dog . D "

Whats the wierdest text you ever got ?

Thursday, 10 April 2008

Mutiny at the Make up Counter

After the bi annual foray to the Bobbi Brown counter on Saturday I can feel another trip there building up and after some slight hesitation which soon wears off as I sit self-talking whilst gobbling a Pret yoghurt ( oh dear Greek style with granola and some sort of berries , let's hope Laura is not reading this ) I head back there intent on making a purchase .

The luminous liquid foundation in sand ( probably , though not categorically as I have omitted to check the card the make up artist kindly provided me for just such future purchases ) .

I am attended by a different "artist" ( though not aware that this was their status ) this time , who suggests she check my colour again as she was unable to locate " my card " .
This involves my sitting on a swivel chair and having a light shone on me , my old make up , what was left of it , removed ( although come to think of it there would have been mighty little left after the walk on the beach , the swim with Nat , walk to the vets in the hailstones etc etc ), and three stripes of different colours applied to my chin region . She then steps well back and looks hard . And looks again , and grimaces and frowns and makes me turn sideways . ( Oh no not my face in profile ... ) .
What I had assumed would be a two minute task was turning into a longer haul and I could see she was not happy as she came closer , insisting I look in the mirror and compare the three stripes for myself .
I might as well have been colour blind for all the differences I can see but I agree when she tells me categorically the Warm Beige is all wrong and it is between the sand and the warm sand but that she personally herself had an inkling that sand was wrong and warm sand was going to be right .
More staring . I stared . It didn't help . It didn't help me anyway .
In the highly reflective glass I simply made a mental note that Nat would have had a fit if she had known I had come out without making sure I had de fuzzed . Nat and facial hair , mine in particular , do not mix.
A younger , very glamorous artist appears and my woman asks her for a minute of her attention .
Ms Glam was in pursuit of a cosmetic tool of her own but steps back , glances at my three stripes and says without any hesitation " Its clear . Warm Beige. "
My Woman turns Warm Red and they consult , about red tones , warm tones , sand beige , matching at the edge as opposed to the other edge ( I know ) and there is pointing at my red cheeks . And reference to Redness again . They are both Redder than I am .

Warm Beige it is . Ms Glam is right and my woman explains why this is so . I am not bothered what shade of foundation I take home so long as I get the Luminous make up which had given me such a healthy glow on Saturday and which is really what I have come back for .

Warm Beige then ? Luminous ? says my woman . We are speaking the same language . I am happy , she is happy .
She heads for the drawer containing the bottles . Ms Glam' s head swivels . She is back on the case . Luminous ? She comes closer again and peers at my face . She is really very pretty and her skin is perfect . She pinches my skin carefully and asks what my skin type is. She advises me that although of course I can take away luminous if I wish , it is moisture rich which is right for me . Luminous is designed for the older lady skin type , my skin being supple and containing sufficient collagen not to need it . I am in anguish . I want the luminous .

There is more debate . My woman explains I have made a special trip for the luminous after being particularly impressed with it . That I in fact already have moisture rich at home . Blah Blah . I look at my watch . I am already ten minutes over my parking limit . They agree to make up one half of my face in moisture rich and one in luminous . They work very fast . I feel like I am a house design project coming in ten pounds over budget . A man across the way on perfumes waiting for something watches with interest .
I know I am not going anywhere without Luminous . My woman knows it too . To cut a long story short , my woman pats me in a congratulatory manner on my arm as she places my purchases in my bag , and Ms Glam concedes the Bobbi customer is always ( almost ) right but adding that it is the light reflecting that I am liking and that it is not the Bobbi look and she herself can see the make up sitting on my face . So be it .

I drive home peering in the mirror at the two halves of my face comparing notes and smiling at myself . What else to do ?

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

Look! look! Snow at the seaside....

Brilliantly sunny day but couldn't let the fact that we had snow yesterday that lay in a thick blanket in the garden go unremarked . And the dove pottering about looking for the seed which the bird feeders had spilled ....
Today was sunny and masquerading as Spring all over again so I cadged a lift to Hexham with D who had work appointments in Haydon Bridge beyond , giving me the opportunity to poke around the old jewellery shops as well as stock up on some health type food essentials I knew I needed from Laura's recent visit .
Having perused the contents of my fridge and listened to my tales of dodgy stomach she declared my recent obsession with Greek style yoghurt with honey ( Onken ) as potentially at the root of my problem ( far too high in fat apparently ) . And there was me thinking I was eating healthily .
Snorting silently at my notion of a colonic irrigation being an idea worth contemplating ( I was only at the pre contemplation stage here , I hasten to add ) she turned up on Saturday morning and unpacked a variety of items which she insisted I at least try once . For years I have resisted these little pots of chalky milky drinks with the chemical names. Who could want to swallow benecol , or actimel I ask you particularly having seen the adverts with the young women with bubbles in their stomachs and green looks on their faces ? Not me for sure! Give me a greek style honey blah blah any day . As she pushed aside the various desserts and fat filled pots of goodness knows what favoured by D who has largely taken over the shopping these days , making room for her Tesco lifestyle fat free blueberry pre and probiotic something or other youghurt drink I felt my heart sink . I knew that before the day was out I was going to have to overcome my horror of these little devils and swallow one whole . Not even the adorable little jar of cashew nut butter could raise my spirits and her " Am I sensing a lack of enthusiasm for my healthy snacks " just made me grimace .
But dear readers , I did my bit , putting the best face on it I could and here we are today I'm purchasing my own eightpack in Waitrose . What with them and the box of lemongrass/limeflower detox morning tea I should be fizzing . Or rather I should be fizzing no more , just quietly ticking over .
We shall see.

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Monday, 7 April 2008

Today my mind is on food .

The sky is blue black with snow still to come , the yard was white this morning and massive square white flakes falling at six am when Alice needed to go out . She rings her bell and sits at the top of the stairs waiting for me to collect myself and drag on a robe and negociate a wet patch where Pearl had knocked over a bottle of water which had parted company from its top , and a sausage shaped furball neatly placed where-my-feet-would-land had some sixth sense not warned me of this Monday monring Thing lurking palely by the bed . The cats grimace as I leave , any departure from the bed causing a shift in the waterlevel disturbing a tenuous equilibrium as one cat rolls unintentionally closer to another .

Toby and Jess are too close and start a spitting contest down at the foot of the bed . As they fire up Jess reminds me of an engine turning over half heartedly and Toby stares in disgust . Pathetic! He turns over and falls asleep shifting his position slightly to concede either her stronger position or ( more likely ) his Not Bothering state of mind . Perhaps he too has noted the snow .

Alice is full of herself in greyhound fashion , stretching elegantly and then hurrying to the back door . She trots out ready to head for the far gate where she likes to squat just out of sight ( dignity being her thing ) then feeling the snow underfoot puts the brakes on sharply and heads back indoors pressing up against me . I advise her accordingly and attempt to send her out again but there is a battle of wills which finally results in my having to recall all I ever learned about dealing with toddlers ( restate your case very simply over and over until you get what you want , dont enter into debate ) , with me stating " Alice , go out and do a wee " and Alice looking appealingly back towards the sitting room doubtless thinking What ? youre joking ? Go back out in that when I could park myself on the pale blue / grey carpet and be done in seconds in the warm , no one hurt in the process ? Hey I'd even get that odour free stain resist pet deterrant carpet clean spray out myself if it saved my toes the agony of stepping out in this .....

What can I tell you ? I won the battle people ....she finally gave way and trotted off and did her stuff and sneezed loudly in embarrasment on her return .

And I went back to bed and finished my Patrick Gale A Subtle Obscurity or was it a Sweet Obscurity . Anyway , it was good and its still snowing and Nat is on hols and we are on track for the gym or a swim or some healthy thing and all I can think about is lattes and cakes done up in fancy papers .

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Sunday, 6 April 2008

I saw an angel

and a cockerpoo yesterday . The cockerpoo was parked up outside the fish and chip shop and our attention was drawn because of the missing Josh Schnauser dog who was also tied up . We worried as we saw the man tying up the little skipping white dog , then as we watched and reassured ourselves that in fact he could see the dog from his place in the queue , and in fact was making hand signals to it imploring it to behave , we realised it was Nat' s maths teacher . Irritating I guess to be a teacher and unable to buy a pie and chips without having your every move watched and your skills as a dog trainer assessed ( we were impressed , though amused at the way the dog re started its skipping the minute his back was turned ).
The angel manifested at four am , in the bathroom mosaic mirror , and stood out clear and white against the tiles . I thought of fetching the camera , but .... somehow it seemed a sacrilege .

At 7 30 am my sister arrived and we went to town for our bi annual pilgrimage to the Bobbi Brown counter . Upon our return I received numerous e mails informing me that Michael White ( narrative therapist ) died early in the morning .

Friday, 4 April 2008

Migraine Day ?

Freddie's Dad Tim has posted that the bench they planned in memory of baby Fred has been sited now at the zoo opposite where they live . There are pictures of the bench and the plaque and an amazing photograph of a butterfly coming to rest near them as they looked at the bench for the first day . Butterflies were very significant when their baby was dying and would appear and settle near them and it I hope they found some solace and meaning in this particular apparition . We Love You Freddie. They will be having another baby soon and there is a great photograph of Rachel looking lovely on the bench . I wonder if the baby is a girl or a boy ?

Yesterday was a funny old day . A very productive morning , walking the dog in what felt like spring temperatures ( up to 15degrees at one time yet snow is forecast for the weekend ) , finishing lots of menial tasks around and about , including much dropping off here and there . My final port of call was to be a trip to the new food hall at the Marks and Spencer newly opened nearby and a Starbucks coffee and perusal of the books in Borders by way of reward for completion of above . The old familiar signs of migraine creeping on didn't deter me . Taking heavy duty preventive medication which renders me drowsy at the best of times and somewhat inarticulate at the worst of times ( a common side effect is the inability to find common words and Im frequently floundering and waiting for people to fill in the gaps , ugh ) makes the migraines less in your face and leaves me feeling I should be able to continue with my daily life without giving way and taking to my bed . ( Pig headed I can be . )
I press on , driving up to M and S feeling vaguely ok , knowing I don't need much , more wanting just to look and pick up a few things and the coffee is more of a treat after all . If I really feel bad by then I can always get a take out and drink at home .
In the check out at M and S the staff are all newly appointed , bright eyed and bushy tailed . Vanessa is particularly engaging , youngish and with a sparkle about her . She asks me how I am today , which is still rare in British shops , and then tries to interest me in some blueberry puffs which are selling with a bogof offer ( and oh how long it was before I worked out what a bogof was ! ) . I decline , already starting to feel queasy , and as she gestures towards the bunches of narcissi asking brightly " how about daffodils then " I decline again feeling I am letting the side down but as the yawning is starting which is usually a clear indication that Vomiting is not far off , I start to feel irritable and almost as I did a couple of weeks ago when I found myself speaking in tongues at the M and S robot machine . Vanessa composes herself in the face of such an awkward customer , drawing back slightly , and makes do with informing me that she herself consumed one of the very fruity indeed blueberry low fat biopot yoghurts for breakfast and it was just brilliant . ( Makes do was not the word I wanted . This Topamax is a pain ) . I gather up my shopping and hurry off .

I hesitate outside Starbucks . The sensible thing to do is obvious . Into the car and off home before I decline further . But I had set my heart on a latte and maybe even a granola bar or a muffin . I'm tired of admitting defeat and taking to my bed . If I had a cat to feed , I would manage it fine . If I had a report to do for the Day Job , or an interview to conduct , or an Assessment , most days I would Manage . Just because I'm completely free shouldn't not mean I can just give in to Immigran and fall asleep . The debate in my head rages as I climb the stairs . Before I know it , I have a ginger muffin ( good for sickness ) in my bag , a coffee on a cardboard tray in my hand , and the contents of my stomach are in the Starbucks lavatories .

I drive home slowly , take my pills , collect Alice despite the No Dogs on the water bed Rule , and fall asleep reading Patrick Gale , fully clad .

Kitty is horrified at the dog's arrival on the bed , but stays firmly in place , as does Pearl . Toby arrives half an hour later , flattening his ears as he spots the big black skinny thing but after arching his back half heartedly for a minute decides he can't be bothered to take a stand if no one else is putting themselves out .

Later in the evening , after my head clears , and I say a silent prayer to the drugs companies who invented Topamax and Immigran which despite their side issues allow me to spend more of my time in the land of the living if not fully compos mentis , I walk for an hour with D , we meet a large boy greyhound called Thomas and ( even later ) further family revelations (not blogging material at this stage) remind me once again of just how steadfast and loyal children are to their parents no matter how badly they have been let down , and how much I admire my lovely feisty daughter , who if she applies herself and decides its what she wants to do , has the potential to make a very fine barrister in her future life . She has qualities which take my breath away .

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Thursday, 3 April 2008

Guest Posting ... Koala Sheep

Koala Sheep lives in rural Northumberland , enjoys climbing trees and trout fishing . Not for sale .

Scnnauser Dog missing from Whitley Bay

More pictures of missing Josh , taken from Whitley bay last Sunday .
Previous post gives more information .
I try not to imagine what his family is going through . More important to focus on spreading the word and if you live nearby as I do , keeping eyes open and starting conversations with other dog lovers when out an d about . Dog walkers are usually happy to chat on the beaches and if he is still in the area its just possible that someone may spot him . Schnausers are not that common which makes it a little easier .

LOST DOG Whitley Bay Area Schnauser

This little dog has been lost or stolen from Whitley Bay . Please keep your eyes open for him .

Please see attached e mail which was circulated by one of my friends .

Hello Collegues.
My little Schnauser dog Josh was stolen from outside Park View shopping centre, Whitley Bay on Sunday 30th March between 15;40 and 15:55. Josh was tied to a dog ring next to the bus stop outside the centre. We have contacted the police, checked the CCTV and have posted notices around the town.
It is unlikely however that he is still in the area and so I am appealing to all dog lovers in the north to help me get Josh back.
My little dog is eleven years old and nobody will care for him the way I do.
Please contact me on 0191 2578818 with any information. Here are some pictures of Josh to show your friends and relatives.
<> <> <> <>
Allan Helmrich

Our Pig of the Day , welcoming Maisie

Not long after we acquired our wonderful Pearl , a blue point Birman kitten , my sister and I were looking at guinea pigs in a garden centre and spotted the lovely Maisie who was then a baby and was definitely in the style of the chocolate point Birmans and just could not be left there . Here she is some years later situated on the sofa with attandant broccoli .
I wonder if Joan reads Silliyak's blog and has noted the stir caused by Smeagoul ?Silliyak: BABY NAMING CONTEST!!!!! I hope so .

Migraine Days

Migraine Days

Flower and Bee on a Sunday

Flower and Bee on a Sunday

art on a sunday

art on a sunday