Linked at the seams

Words have eluded me since the 12th of April when my lovely big cousin suffered a massive heart attack and tragically died.

He was buried this morning on the island in the north of Scotland which he had made his home with his wife of thirty years and their four children.

What words could I have used to make their pain disappear and this tragedy easier to bear? None. For there are no words. Only a dark, hollow emptiness which may recede with time but which will be there for many, many months and even years to come.

And what of his parents who are living the greatest nightmare of all? Outliving one’s child should never occur. But it does. And how do we survive such heart-breaking trauma?

And his sister and nieces and nephews and friends? How are they coming to terms with such a brutal end to a loved one’s life?

My own heart is chipped. The red paint has come loose from the edges and fluttered to the floor. Our childhoods were linked at the seams and the happy memories of our pasts are now shadowed by my tears.

But up in the north of Scotland there are hearts which are shattered. Broken into a thousand pointed shards, each one piercing deep into the pulsing muscle which keeps us alive.

I can only hope that time will heal those broken hearts and that the memory of this exceptionally kind and gentle man will help them take shape once more and breathe and beat in his honour.

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Moongazer

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Yep, I’m still flashing, still driven by the need to concoct tiny little stories only 99 words long which usually stay hidden from here, visible only to Charli Mills‘ followers. For their eyes only.

But this week, for some reason, I really like my small concoction. I was grinning as I wrote it and still beaming when I read it. Where it originated is anyone’s guess. I’m betting on an unusually cloudless walk home from work last week. A quick stop on the bridge to admire the sliver of a smile which was the moon that night. The perfectly formed crescent, sharing its light with the river running below my feet, took me to another time, another country, another human’s dream.

So this is what I came up with for last week’s challenge:

March 22, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story using the theme “follow your dreams.”

 

Its silver beams had lit up his room in Wapakoneta for as long as he could remember.
First crossing his small wooden crib, they now wandered over the checkered quilt made especially for his new Big Boy bed.
He was intrigued by the sphere, struck by its capacity to change shape every single night.
He wouldn’t close his eyes until he had gazed at it long enough for the shadowy patterns to imprint themselves on his young, bright brain.
“Come on, honey. It’s time for bed. Stop looking at the moon now. You know you’ll never go there, Neil.”

 

Voili, voilà, as we say here. That young man certainly followed his dreams. A lesson for us all perhaps…🌙

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Stoned…

A lazy spider watches me from its parking space on the ceiling. He or she (I can’t tell from where I am) seems surprised at what I am doing. And so he/she should be. I too am surprised at what I am doing. Who would ever have imagined that I – respectable, feet firmly on the ground, head tightly screwed onto her shoulders, middle-aged mother and wife – would get mixed up in something like this?

I blame my second daughter. She was the first person to ever give me one, saying it would help me relax and see and experience things differently. She had been advised by a dance buddy to try one and she now swears by its positive effects.

“Come on, Mum. Just try it!”

I could have said no. I could have sent her off to her room to think about what she was doing to her poor old mother. I could have point-blankly refused to take it. But I didn’t. Because I wanted to try one. I wanted to see what it would do. I wanted to believe.

That was a few months ago. I now carry that first little stone, a shiny, round black obsidian, wherever I go. It lives in my left pocket whilst my pet pedometer lives in the right. Both of them have left strange white marks on my jeans, showing their permanent presence. My pedometer counts my steps but what does my little black stone do?

If you are a firm believer in the power of lithotherapy it has many properties. It protects me from negative thoughts, it wards off bad feelings, it keeps me safe and relaxed and happy.

I know, I know, I know. How can a silly little stone possibly do all that? I have no idea. But since I consider that it can’t kill me by just living inside my pocket, why shouldn’t I give it a try? I don’t know yet if I believe, but when it comes down to it I’d rather have that stone on me than on my bedside table. So does that mean that I actually now do believe?

I’m beginning to think I must. Two weeks ago I ventured into the pretty, little stone shop alone. I asked the very helpful assistant for something for my persistent tinnitus problems. She advised me to use three new stones. Yikes. Then she showed me what to do with them.

And that is what my live-in spider now watches every night. The tinnitus ritual. The flat-edged pale green stone is perched shakily on my forehead as I rub along the side of each ear with the two smaller pale blue ones. It takes ten minutes to complete the task and the whole time I am sure I can hear a quiet snigger coming from above.

But listen Mr/Mrs Spider, the tinnitus seems to be getting better and if I want to believe that these stones are what’s helping then surely that’s my prerogative.

So you can laugh all you like. Now that the tinnitus is finally receding I can actually hear you.

 

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Dear Sacha

Yes, you will undoubtedly find me ungrateful. No, I will not just keep my big mouth shut. But, honestly?

All I asked for last week was your intervention to help make the never-ending raindrops stop falling. I imagined you may be able to nudge those grey clouds with your angelic, tanned elbow and shove them away from the French skies to let Spring spring. And you did. You pushed hard and the sun shone through. Merci beaucoup.

What I didn’t ask for was Siberian winds to take their place, blowing in from the north east and settling, with a stinging nastiness, into our ears, our eyes, up our jumpers and down the backs of our winter coats. Today I had a woollen poncho slung over my heaviest, warmest jacket, a beret worn beneath my furry hood, and those pesky winds still swept through the layers to chill my weary bones. I mean, come on.

And now it’s snowing. In the south! Biarritz woke this morning to a strange white icy beach. Montpellier saw cars slide along its unsalted roads. The flakes are now making their way north and our once slimy, mossy deck is going to become slippery for a whole new frosty reason.

Geez, Sach, I didn’t ask for this. We don’t know how to walk in the snow here let alone drive. We just don’t have the necessary equipment or training. This is not part of my plan. If I’d wanted more snow I would have emigrated to Canada.

So, in spite of sounding borderline-permanently-dissatisfied could you please bring back the rain? Rain’s fine. I can do rain. Not every single day but now and again is alright, really.

Tomorrow? Great. We’ll take it. We’ll take anything but the cold and this snow. It freezes our fingers and buggers up our brains.

He won snow, eh?

He did, eh?

(Oops, I can feel a palindromic brain-freeze setting in)

Don’t nod.

Was it a car or a cat I saw?

Aha!

Dammit, I’m mad.

Name now one man?

Sacha. Just bring back the rain…

Biarritz this morning. Definitely an air of our L.S. Lowry to this scene don’t you think? Photo courtesy of RTL.

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Meet my other half at The Ranch

Amidst recent bouts of coughing and spluttering I have also been over at one of my favourite places – The Carrot Ranch. There Charli Mills gave me a space to bare all and let readers get to know my other half. Thanks, Charli!

via Raw Literature: Meet My Other Half

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Raindrops keep falling on my head…

Ever wondered why Sacha Distel snatched this song from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and sang it ever so suavely on his own TV show? Not just to show off his chic Gallic style and toothy white smile. Not even just to practise his perfect English while singing in an extraordinarily French accent. He was simply warning all us daft Brits, trying to get the message through our thick skulls that life in France is not all year-round sunshine and cheese-and-red-wine parties out on the wooden sundeck.

It rains in France. It pours in France. But how many of us expats think of that before we move here? All the British “Let’s Be Crazy and Move Abroad” programmes are filmed in the summer and I have never watched one where they didn’t choose the ‘away’ location. No wonder. All they see is the startlingly bright sun shining from perfectly blue skies. And all they hear are the cute little French birds twittering in the swishing green trees. Who wouldn’t want to move here?

But this is winter and I haven’t seen a glimpse of the sun’s shiny face for months now, and the only swishing sound around here is the rain running off our roof onto the slimy moss-covered deck below. Every single bloody day. Honestly. This is the worst weather France has seen for decades. I have lived here for the last three of them and cannot remember rain like this.

And the raindrops are not just falling on my head. They are soaking into my shoulders and chest and throat and lungs, making swallowing feel like a traipse through a field of barbed wire, and changing the ordinary act of breathing into an exhausting, debilitating coughing contest. I fear they have even dripped through into my soul, making me tired and depressed with a slouch to my step which is not usually there.

But on the météo tonight they promised us a truce. A ceasefire, a break, a lull in the daily downpours. I for one will be watching and waiting. And Sacha, if you can see us from up there, can you make those stupid raindrops stop falling. Please?

Photo courtesy of Audiophile

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La Vie est Belle

As she runs downstairs, late as always, her perfume lingers on the landing then slowly makes its way under my door, floats across the room and seeps into my nostrils which are half asleep. They had determinedly been ignoring my ears’ attempts to wake up by listening to the morning news, and would have stayed happily horizontal for many more minutes if they hadn’t caught the waft of that aroma. It shakes them to their senses with a long sigh of contentment, and a Hollywood-sounding “That’s my girl”.

For this smell is her smell. She leaves it on her scarves and coats, cushions and fluffy blankets, towels and sheets. It saunters through the house with an air of superiority. A self-satisfying strut. Because it’s strong. Strongest in the morning, fading slowly to a hovering hint as the day changes from grey to blue to black.

I meet it in the street sometimes and always remark “La Vie est Belle” to its bearer. She usually agrees with a nod and a smile, or a long look of “Are you talking to me, you foreign weirdo?” But this is France remember, and the words make sense here, but my pushy interruptions often don’t.

One day she will take it to another home. Her home. The one she will make for herself and her loved one. The one she wants to make now. And it will settle into her furniture and her rugs, her bedclothes and her bookshelves. And I will smell it only when I go there. For a cup of tea, or a sandwich or a home-made four-course meal. Nudge, nudge…

But I will keep a little bottle here and I will spray it when I need to. When I want a little reminder that life is indeed beautiful. And that she is one of the reasons why.

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Photo courtesy of Lancome.com

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It’s time to anal-yse this

One of my colleagues recently told me that she thought I was ‘anal’. As a Scot, brought up in the sixties, this is not a word I’d readily use about myself, or anyone else for that matter – it has way too many unsavoury connotations. But this colleague lived in San Diego for three years so maybe that explains things. Maybe it doesn’t, but please do not take offence at this thought if you in fact live there today.

Anyway, I harrumphed around the office for a while after she said it, then got to thinking about why she might have said it as she watched me sweep cake crumbs from under a coffee table. There’s a clue in there somewhere, I’m sure.

Yourdictionary.com defines the word thus: someone who is really uptight and particular and who always wants things a certain way…

Who? Me? What do you mean? I’m the coolest person on Earth.

Yeah, right. My last post was a blaring example of this anality, analness, analment or whatever the noun may be. All that complaining about incorrect spelling and horrible grammar rules. I’m sure I didn’t make many friends along the way there.

But my colleague wasn’t talking about that. She was talking about the side of me which can’t stand crumbs or leaves or bits of fluff on our office floor. She was talking about how I constantly straighten cushions and clean coffee stains and remove broken fingernails and stray eyebrow hairs from students’ desks (but thank God someone does it). How I gently push the ‘Come In’ sign just a little higher up on its miniature chain to make it hang perfectly, and wipe the dirty fingerprints from the many sticky glass doors in the building.

But surely that’s just my over-zealous work persona? On reflection I realise it’s not. I have a certain anal side at home too. Curtains not fully opened in the morning, squinty fluffy throws, the feather-filled sofa not quite fat enough. They all need the once-over from the Queen of Just Right. I’m definitely not the Queen of Perfectly Clean, just the ruler of some kind of weird superficial surface order.

Things get worse in the kitchen, especially inside the cutlery drawer and the dishwasher. I mean, how hard is it to put all the forks together, and the glasses on one side of the top tray and the mugs on the other? Very hard indeed obviously for Hubby and the girlies. What do they not understand?

Which reminds me of a joke. How many men does it take to change a toilet roll? Nobody knows, it’s never been done. Or if it is ever done the paper comes down from the wrong side and I have to turn it around.

Or do I? I wonder what would happen if, one day, I allowed each sheet to come from the back of the roll and not from the front? Would it stop doing its job the way it was meant to? Would we all leave that little blue-tiled space looking and feeling (and smelling) unclean?

Mmm. Probably not. But I’m way too anal to ever want to find out…

Image courtesy of Mother Nature Network, showing the right way for the paper to hang. Take note.

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There, their, they’re…

Words have been my playmates for decades. Ever since the Ladybird heroes of the sixties, Peter and Jane, and their huge black letters introduced me to dogs and balls and trees and toys, I have been surrounded by their magic.

They have taken me to enchanted forests, deserted islands, posh English boarding schools, scary American neighbourhoods. They have pulled me inside books and kept me hostage within the pages until the last one was turned, finally setting me free to return to my ordinary little life.

Those words were correctly shaped, spelt and structured long before my young eyes were allowed anywhere near their tight grasp. They had been checked and double-checked by editors, proofreaders and printers many months prior to appearing on my wobbly bookshelf. They were simply perfect. Each letter was in its place. Apostrophes were where they were supposed to be, or not there at all. All the grammar rules we learnt at school were respected to a tee. Or to a tea, or to a t? Who knows now? In any case, the words I found in all of my books were written just the way they were supposed to be written.

So what the f**k has happened?

I have tried to keep quiet about this, I swear. I certainly have no intention of becoming part of the “grammar police” force, or even worse a “grammar nazi” (I saw that terrifying term used recently on a blogpost).

But I have to speak up now, I’m afraid. I cannot button my lip any longer. Words are being used and abused and I have decided to stand up here and defend their right to exist in their original form, however dull and dreary that may be.

Yes, of course typos can happen and since we are all writing infinitely faster than ever before, mistakes are bound to happen. And there are rarely editors or proofreaders now checking the vast amount of material which flies freely and fitfully around the globe. But surely we should know the difference between write and right? Or there, their, or they’re?

Perhaps it is just an age thing, a premenopausal feeling of being poked in the eye with a blunt stick (I know it’s meant to be sharp but mine never is) whenever I see one of these screeching errors. Perhaps I am simply a pernickety, ageing, horribly difficult to please pain in the bum. But whenever I see a ‘your’ instead of a ‘you’re’ or an ‘it’s’ instead of an ‘its’ I want to spit on the page I am reading, yank it from the publication and then rip it to shreds. Excessive? No, just very difficult to do when reading on an iPad.

So, to finish off this grammar-rant, or maybe that could now be a grammarant, I have decided to provide below a quick review of the main points which bring the mucus to the back of my throat. And as Peter and Jane would not have said all those years ago – Look and F***ing Learn.

PS If the Chief Superintendent of the Grammar Police reads this and finds some grammatical or spelling mistakes, please give him or her my heartfelt apology’s (😉). Remember that this is all just a peace of thong-in-cheek fawn.

Image courtesy of amazon.com

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Fancy a spam sandwich?

After all the Christmas bingeing and before the New Year festivities hit us hard in the belly once more, how about a light dinner? A quick spam sandwich is on the menu here at OMG tonight.

I’ve never really paid much attention to the spam I get on my site. Okay, I admit it, I didn’t really know where it was.

I have read other bloggers’ accounts of the weird and wonderful nonsense they find in their spam folder. But I never thought of checking up on mine. Until today.

I’m glad I did. It has given me a good thirty minutes of guffawing as I tried to work out exactly what someone or something was trying to sell me.

I can only imagine that the following excepts from a much, much longer piece are all about jewellery. How it found its way here along a long, slippery path of bad translation from Russian (?) to semi-coherent English, fills me with wonder. And giggles. And don’t worry I didn’t click on any strange-looking link before copying it here for your delight tonight:

‘Russians have reason to believe in white and black, instead of tones most typically associated with off white.

lindsay lohan begins to be sad and a person understand why. after you tranquil the actual out of, You laboriously show the doll those things your financial allowance is a ring. she still believes that you’re miser, But you part with their money.’

Whaaaaat?? I honestly wonder what that sounded like in the original version. Surely not half as crazy? He (but he could be a ‘she’ or an ‘it’ or any other type of undefined alien blobform) then unexpectedly goes on to talk about his cousin and her vast, kitschy pal:

‘your darling chosen a beautifully-designed jewelry which has a an element who was the right and an acceptable size your money can buy. this has been a nothing more than I wished to pay, nevertheless it really had my cousin happy.

her very own very good friend that has kind of kitschy essence. vast and as a result showy is more superior in her opinion. ever so when my girl helps to keep researching it then in order to the group wife’s ring, pulling unfulfilled.’

What is a group wife, I wonder? Sounds a bit too polygamous for my liking. Anyway, to finally make me just long to press on that link and gain access to my own beautifully designed ‘jewelry’, he (she, it, blob) adds a little tiny teaser. The finale of all finales, making me water at the mouth and ready to buy, buy, buy:

‘this woman preserves hitting jane’s partner that alternate moving upward. Eventually, she will get the wedding band she all the time dreamed of. But it will end up pricing higher once time has passed when compared with what if in case he precisely invested in the bridal ring to start with.’

Poor Jane or maybe poor Jane’s partner or maybe poor cousin, poor doll, or poor Lindsay Lohan. All caught up in buying expensive jewellery when all they needed to do was come to my blog, check out my spam box and buy something exceptional at half the cost. I think.

Spam sandwiches. Don’t you just love them?

Image courtesy of The Spam Brand. And by the by, everything printed in italics above is absolutely unadulterated spam. Cross my heart.

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