Category Archives: General

General comments on life as I see it

The Universe sends Worms

I am in the habit of chanting, morning and evening.

In the morning I think about the day ahead and how I will behave – my attitude to people and my job, or the tasks I must undertake. In the evening I review my day and determine to do better and acknowledge anything good.

This morning, while chanting, I was thinking about my husband, whom I love dearly but who sometimes receives the wrong  end of my tongue. I’m not snappy but I am critical, and he doesn’t deserve it. It’s a bad habit and I regularly determine during my chanting, to be more tolerant and kind. Sadly, being judgemental is in my karma so overcoming it is quite a challenge.

In the course of my chanting, this morning, apart from dwelling on my shortcomings and forgiving myself, and determining to do better, I drifted into thinking about my novel (this happens. It’s hard to keep focused when you are a natural dreamer). The latest product of my imaginings is the sequel to Be Careful What You Wish For and I have been pondering its title. I have an idea to call it Opening the Can – as in can of worms.

I recently painted the illustration on the cover of Be Careful What You Wish For, but with this title, I was concerned about my worm-painting skills. Was I up the the challenge of painting a spilt can of worms?

With this in mind, as soon as I had uttered my final Nam Myoho Renge Kyo, I went straight to my laptop in search of images of worms. Oh what a lot there were, but I skimmed over them, dozens of them, until one photo caught my eye. The worms were nice and big and juicy with lots of glistening highlights. I clicked on the image.

Image result for opening can of worms
Nice and juicy

The picture linked to blog entitled The Years of Living Non-Judgmentally by Ann Koplow

How apt. It was a message from the universe and I began to read. Ann appeared to be on a similar journey to me and I was curious about her reasons, so I trailed down to her first entry and read this:

‘Judgment is that oh-so-human way of thinking, where we focus on what should be, rather than what is.’

It lit a light bulb. Such a simple sentence, easy to carry with me and act on when I find myself frustrated by the oh so many, insignificant things that clutter my day. The untidy school library (why don’t the children have more consideration and the teachers educate them better?) The toilet roll tube left on the window ledge in our bathroom, not thrown in the bin (such a simple habit to get into,  Do my family expect me to do it every time?) The dishes beside the empty dishwasher (blooming teenagers!) The interruptions while trying to write (enough said).

The above are what we now refer to as ‘First World Problems’. To a homeless person living on city streets, or a Syrian refugee  fighting for his life on a leaky , overcrowded boat, they are but nothing. A luxury.

I have heard it mooted that Nichirin Buddhism is a Middle Class faith, but I happen to know that this is untrue. In Japan,  after Hiroshima, and more recently, the tsunami, people were left with nothing. Nichirin Buddhism held its followers together and drove them to continue their fight to build a new future.

You could call my worm experience a coincidence or the intervention of the Universe known as The Mystic Law. Whatever you choose to think, this was a heck of an enlightening moment.

This star-forming region, captured by NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope, is dominated by the bright, young star IRAS 13481-6124 (upper left), which is about twenty times the mass of our sun and five times its radius, and is surrounded by its pre-natal cocoon. It is the first massive baby star for which astronomers could obtain a detailed look at the dusty disk closely encircling it. The research provides direct evidence that massive stars do form in the same way as their smaller brethren.
From this archival Spitzer image, as well as from observations done with the APEX 12-metre sub-millimetre telescope, astronomers discovered the presence of a jet, hinting at the presence of a disk. This was then confirmed by observations made with the European Southern Observatory Very Large Telescope Interferometer.
This picture was taken with Spitzer’s infrared array camera. It is a four-color composite, in which light with a wavelength of 3.6 microns is blue; 4.5-micron light is green; 5.8-micron light is orange; and 8-micron light is red. Dust appears red-orange and most stars are blue, though ones deeply embedded within dust (like IRAS 13481-6124) take on greenish-yellow tints.

 

Nam Myoho Renge Kyo

Twas the Alternative Night Before Christmas

‘Twas the night before Christmas and,
Upon our abode,
Festive lights were agleaming,
Upon Marsworth Road.

The stockings were hung,
By the chimney with thought,
And up on the mantle,
A small glass of port…

And a mince pie for Santa,
And carrots and fruits,
For his faithful reindeer,
Such elegant brutes.

And down in the kitchen,
The dog in his bed,
Gave a deep sigh,
And lowered his head.

While I in my Jim jams,
And him in the buff,
Passed out for the night,
After more than enough.

Then outside the window,
Arose a loud THUD,
As something, who knew what?
Made contact with mud.

My heavy eyes opened,
My heart gave a patter,
I crawled to the curtain,
To see what was the matter.

From up on the first floor,
The lawn looked absurd,
With yellowing patches and,
A sprinkling of turd.

And right in it’s middle,
A road kill, a tangle,
Of reindeer and Santa,
All at the wrong angle.

And Santa was wiping,
His boot with a list
As he glared at the window,
And shook a small fist.

One reindeer, his nose red,
Was struggling to rise,
And gifts of all sizes,
Rained down from the skies.

Eventually, upright,
The gallant old team,
Made it up to the roof, where,
They could not be seen.

But I heard them arrive,
And I heard Santa shout,
From the fireplace,
Something about port causing gout.

Then back up the chimney and,
Into the mist,
The sleigh lurched and twisted,
Perhaps he was pissed.
santa-drunk

Alexa

Whizz has a new woman. Her name is Alexa. Actually, I quite like having her around the place. She helps out in the kitchen, keeps us informed about the weather prospects and is incredibly musical.

I first found that my husband was messing around with Alexa, on my return home after a weekend in Somerset with Horace. There was this ‘person’, installed in my home without a by your leave. I was shocked. When I complained, Whizz was defensive. I’ve had my eye on her for ages,’ he said.

www.tomascastelazo.com / Wikimedia Commons
www.tomascastelazo.com / Wikimedia Commons

‘Well we haven’t discussed it. It’s a blooming cheek,’ replied I, showing considerable self restraint as I looked her up and down. I had to agree that she was more attractive than the last one. Yes Whizz is a serial ‘womaniser’ He is a slave to the brothel they call Amazon.

Alexa is the voice of the Amazon Echo, a hands-free, voice controlled speaker.  You can say to her,  ‘Alexa, play me some Leonard Cohen,’ and she will reply in a voice straight out of some 1960s B movie, ‘Playing Leonard Cohen on Spotify.’ I might say ‘Set timer for 10 minutes’, or ask for the weather forecast and she will provide the service. Today, however, she has overstepped the mark. There I was, telephone pressed to my right ear, confirming an appointment, when she suddenly blurted out ‘What did one eye say to the other eye? Between you and me, something smells.’ . This threw me completely. I couldn’t hear the woman on the phone but I bet she was perplexed to hear Alexa.  Something I said must have sounded like ‘Alexa, tell me a joke’.

As Whizz remarked when I told him, ‘Typical woman. Always butting in when she’s not asked.’ He’s such a wag.

Garden Ornaments

Once upon a time I thought garden gnomes were to be disdained.

desk_murder

As I grow older, however, and less judgmental, I discover that I rather like them. A house near ours has a tiny and immaculate front lawn with a number of garden ornaments, including a gnome pushing a barrow, a couple of  less than cuddly animals, and a spinning windmill. This little plot, delights passing children in the same way that gaudy Christmas lights might. I’d like to hail all those gardeners across the land who entertain us with their cheeky Big Ears lookalikes.

garden_gnome_with_wheelbarrow-20051026

The subject of gnomes brings to mind an old college ‘professor’ of mine called Banable Lecture. He was my friend at college, and we still keep up a sporadic correspondence. Banable taught programming and program design, but considering the technical nature of his career, it is notable that he prefers to put pen to paper for his annual letter to me, rendering it practically illegible. Mine to him on the other hand, is ‘MSWorded’ with appropriate illustrations, as I was taught in college.

Banable is a man with a boyish sense of humour (what man is not, I hear you say) and he once made a surprise visit to his brother (or it could have been his sister). To make the occasion more meaningful, Banable and his wife, Sparethe, rose before daybreak, and carrying with them various bits of equipment such as a washing up bowl, some sticks and string and some eccentric headgear, arrived outside the sibling’s house. The curtains were still blocking the first, pale infiltration of sunshine as the two crept onto the front lawn and set up their surprise. Then they waited, hoping the family would not lie in until midday.

Sure enough, after not too long the upstairs drapes parted and a sleepy figure glanced out, then stilled, then a face was thrust close to the glass before breaking into roars of laughter.

Outside, with the grass chilling their toes, Banable and Sparethe, sat facing one another on low stools. On the ground between them was a blue sheet of plastic, cut in a closed curve, and on top of this, a washing up bowl containing water and a plastic fish. Both figures held fishing rods made from the sticks and string, and both were dressed as garden gnomes.

If only I could read Banable’s writing, I might have a fund of other anecdotes. As it is, there is one story that can be linked to the above without too much meandering. It concerns my time with LH.

LH is a classic car enthusiast, and over the years I was the vicarious owner of a number of old sports cars, while he had a sensible saloon car (and an Austin Healey  Frog Eyed Sprite in the garage). I have driven M.G.s and Austin Healeys, some quite nice but most with  resounding rear end flatulence and/or water, leaking through the soft top.

1968_mg_midget_mk_iii_15611687240

On one occasion, LH was on the phone giving directions using his favourite landmarks. ‘Go past the Griffin,’ said he, ‘Take the next left and our house is the one with the midget in the garden’. Our visitor could have been forgiven for thinking we lived in Narnia rather than a residential estate in North Sheep Country.