My journal and my life

Archive for January, 2013

Post #31 Good News Stories

I haven’t taken the photos today as I’ve had a busy day working, end of month invoicing for a client.  But there’s two news stories that made me smile over the last couple of days.  People randomly having good luck & possibly coming into large amounts of cash – how absolutely wonderful for them 🙂

A retired couple in Northumberland had been planting pansies in a 2,000 year old Roman coffin for 30 years!  An ornate marble sarcophagus was sat in the garden of the house they bought in 1982 & not listed in the deeds – I wonder if the vendors have watched the news?  It’s apparently almost identical to another Roman sarcophagus in the Galleria Lapidaria in the Vatican & may be worth as much as £100,000 – brilliant!

Sarcophagus

Then today, the news reported a man & his dog had found whale vomit on Morcambe beach, also possibly worth £100k!  The hard lump of ambergris is used in the perfume industry, especially in very high-end scents.  How on earth did anyone discover that fact?

Sperm Whale Vomit - Ambergris

The foul smelling substance is secreted by sperm whales, possibly to protect their intestines from he irritation caused by the beaks of their prey, squid & cuttlefish.  Once vomited, the ambergris can float around in the sea for years, gradually hardening & developing a sweet smell.

Well, I’ve learned two pieces of trivia – what ambergris is used for, & rather morbidly, that sarcophagus means “flesh-eater” in Greek.

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Post #30 Eat Your Greens

Most labradors will eat anything, they’re veritable dustbins! My previous golden lab Amber was anybody’s for a strawberry. Strawberries, apple, orange, grapes & any vegetable apart from celery. She was a hoover, nose to the ground snuffling up everything she came across.

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This is a photo of my current lab, Hayley on a walk today. She loves green vegetables & we give her the crunchy centres of cabbage & broccoli stalk, but she won’t eat red veg – red for danger perhaps? Anyway, such is her love of brassicas that here she is, tugging & pulling up the remains straight out of the ground in the field!

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Post #29 Kiruba the Elephant

Meet Kiruba, my Asian elephant 🙂

Adopt an Elephant

As mentioned in my last post, on impulse I signed up to adopt a tiger on the WWF website.  As this only cost a few pounds per month & as I’d seen a news report about the dreadful poaching of elephants, I wanted an elephant as well.  How can anyone kill such magnificent & noble creatures?  It brings tears to my eyes, but the soft toy reminds me that I’m doing a little towards protecting the species.

Kiruba is around 40 years old with a son called Anand & a daughter Tula.  She’s the matriarch of a tribe of about 20 elephants living in the Corbett National Park at the foothills of the Himalayas in Northern India.  The population of Asian elephants hasn’t declined quite as much as the tigers as there are approximately 40-50,000 left from 100,000 in the year 1900.  They are still on the endangered list though & there’s nothing quite a cute as a baby elephant is there?

They make good soft toys – when we were babies, my brother didn’t have a teddy bear, he had a cuddly toy elephant called Empt, which he carried everywhere holding onto his trunk 🙂

Post #28 Tiger, Tiger Burning Bright

This is the newest addition to the household – meet Kamrita 🙂

Adopt a Tiger with WWF

She’s a Bengal tiger, about 9-10 years old, with two cubs (a male & a female) & she lives in the Chitwan National Park in southern Nepal.  I’ve ‘adopted’ her through the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) after watching one of their ads on TV, which followed a read of the book ‘Life of Pi‘, which may be a blog subject itself.  Tigers abound!

It’s not expensive, only a few pounds each month to become one of Kamrita’s adopters, but it felt so good to do so.  I don’t usually have cuddly toys, just a couple bought for me by family, but I wanted a reminder of the magnificent beauty of these endangered animals.  Now I can carry-on smiling as I stroke her, knowing my money is going to a worth-while cause.

Like all tigers, Kamrita has her own individual pattern of stripes & the WWF can monitor where she is when she crosses an infra-red beam, thus triggering a camera.  It’s important to keep an eye on tigers in the wild as they’ve declined in numbers from more than 100,000 at the turn of the century to as little as 3,200 today – a reduction of more than 95%!

Post #27 New Moo cards

I’ve ordered some business cards today.  This was prompted by a 25% discount at Moo.com.

Business Cards

I’ve been using Moo for a while because not only are the cards excellent quality with various finish options to choose from, but you can design your own cards.  As it’s possible to upload many different images, it’s fantastic for photographers, or anyone else who’s business is very visual, to feature their work.  I tried using wordles on the back of mine, until someone I met at a networking meeting said it looked confusing.

That’s the beauty of Moo, order a few cards then change the design for the next order.  A friend of mine always creates his very personal Christmas cards with Moo too.

Another attractive benefit is the infomality of their correspondence – it’s so friendly 🙂  Sign-up to Moo’s newsletter which is full of innovative ideas of how their customers design & use their

This was the wordle design of my old cards & I can’t wait for my new ones to arrive.

Lucinda Text Wordle

Post #26 Midnight Snow

Many of my posts have been about the weather & particularly snow!  However, when spending all day in front of the computer working for my clients, other than walking the dogs daily, I don’t always have the opportunity to do much else.  Much like most people I assume?  I enjoy my work & have chosen to be a Virtual Assistant as I’m a good PA, I love being organised, I have a great relationship with my clients & enjoy the variety of my workload.

Snow & Trees

Anyway, back to the daily photo – this is the snow as it was first thing in the morning.  I was actually walking in a snow storm at 2am in the morning which the dogs thought was great!  The light was bright, but I hadn’t taken my camera or phone.  The wind was blowing from the wind turbines (see post #5) & as there was virtually no traffic noise, I could actually hear the whiney, swooshy hum as they turned.  There were a few cars on the road & it was interesting to note that the snow ploughs came along in threes, just like buses 🙂

On the track, I was sheltered from the wind by the bushes either side & thoroughly enjoyed trudging through the virgin snow.  It was so exhilerating – something to knock of my bucket list perhaps?  Having a friend with mobility difficulties who’s slowly progressing towards being permanently wheelchair-bound, I always feel so very grateful when walking, fully appreciating the fact that I can.

Post #25 Snow Dogs

Dogs love snow, it sends them whappy!  Whilst it’s difficult for us to trudge through the drifts, the dogs chase snowballs & each other.

Snow Dogs

There’s always hares on the field where we walk, but they usually ‘hare’ off & are quickly camouflaged.  The dogs half-heartedly run after & then give up.  Today I could see many against the snow at the opposite side of the field which was criss-crossed by their distinctive tracks.  The dogs were snuffling in the scrapes where the hares had rested, revealing the ground underneath.

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After an exhilarating walk, I had a good day, dipping in & out of two or three clients’ work all day, plenty to keep me busy working from home. It’s Friday with more snow forecast & as I write this, it’s already more than an inch deep – more fun for the dogs 🙂

Post #24 Feed the Birdie

Blackbirds love cheese 🙂  I had a bird table at my last house, but left it behind when we sold & moved.  Then I lived with my son, his wife, small back yard & a cat or two so it wasn’t really fair to attract birds into the garden.  Since moving here to my own home, a bird table has been on my shopping list.  When the weather turned to ice & snow, I left bird food on the top of a wheelie bin at the bottom of the garden where I could see the birds from my window.  Perhaps not as attractive to look at as a bird table, but at least the birds were fed, & that’s what matters.

How do the birds know where to come for food when it’s not been there before & how do they know it’s edible?  Is it extremely keen vision or do the birds see you pottering about, leaving scraps behind?  No sooner as I’d put a mix of crumbs, cheese & sultanas on the bin & retreated to the house, I was watching a blackbird tuck in.

The following day, the fourth with snow on the ground, a number of hungry seagulls were wheeling around my garden, beady eyes on the food.  However it appeared that there was insufficient room to land on the bin as they soon departed.

Flock of seagulls

At a previous house many years ago I remember watching a sparrow hawk plummet into the hawthorn hedge immediately outside the window.  It quickly grabbed a sparrow & flew off, almost before I realised what had happened!  In the garden of another home, there was a holly tree full of red berries until one winter afternoon a flock of birds descended & loudly stripped it bare in a matter of minutes.  They were bigger than sparrows, but smaller than a thrush & later research revealed them to be redwings, a member of the thrush family.  According to RSPB information, redwings overwinter in the UK, but are rarely seen in gardens, except when snow covers the fields, their usual habitat.  We were privleged to witness their brief arrival & fight to prevent starvation.

Redwing

Post #23 Exhausted

This isn’t actually a picture of my exhaust, but all rusted up, it could’ve been, had I’d been able to crawl under the car to take the photo.

Exhaust

It was my neighbour who asked me how long my exhaust had sounded like that.  Sounded like what? I’d not noticed anything amiss driving around with the radio on & my windows closed.

As I do a fair amount of driving to clients & meetings & on the motorway too, I wanted to get it fixed sooner rather than later.  Well, the best laid plans were disrupted by snow, then I was panicking that driving over all the drifts would catch & pull it off.  So at the first opportunity today, I took it to the dealer.  He asked whether I was sitting down when he phoned a short while later.  Three replacement parts were required!  I had no choice, the work needed doing, so I gave my authorisation.

It’s a reliable car, but old, so bits are going to need fixing, just so long as it’s still cheaper to run than buying a newer one.  I’d love a new car, but it’s an extravagence at the moment & at least with this one, I don’t worry too much when a wet & dirty labrador clambers inside it.  One look inside & anyone can see it’s a dog lovers car.  I remember only too well my first husband’s constant anxiety about his cars.  Always wittling about scratches & damage, dust & dirt, complaining when I scuffed the wheels by parking too close to the kerb.  I guess it’s all about priorities & to me a car is a box on wheels to get me from A to B with the least amount of fuss 🙂

Post #22 Gratitude Stone

Prompted by a book I read over the weekend (see post 21), I watched The Secret for the first time yesterday & had a moment of clarity when the gratitude stone was mentioned!  Something which I’d not thought about in a long time, but which I’ve carried in my handbag for years – my own favourite stone.  This is a gorgeous polished & smooth piece of Snowflake Obsidian, bought because it immediately felt right, that it was mine.

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Nearly 10 years ago I had attended a Mind & Spirit event at the local town hall with a spiritual friend of mine, more in support of her, than of any interest myself.  I’ve always been open minded & found everything fascinating & even had my first Reiki session there.  I can honestly say I’ve never felt so relaxed & at peace during my treatment as the noisy hall, busy with visitors just faded into the background.  It was definitely an enlightening &  memorable experience.

Whilst browsing the stalls, I was drawn to the polished gem stones as I love tactile, smooth objects.  I remember that each stone had a meaning, but chose this one because it just felt right for me.  It rests perfectly in my hand, on my first two fingers with a soft curve just perfect for running the ball of my thumb up & down.

Apparently Snowflake Obsidian is a stone of purity, it will calm & soothe, balance mind, body & spirit.  It teaches the value of mistakes as well as successes & helps to recognise stressful mental patterns.  That’s all good as it’s now my gratitude stone & never far from my hand.

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