Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Reflections











We've got Proper Winter here at long last.

Freezing temperatures (good) and freezing fog (less good). The birds are gobbling up all the food I put out for them. The sixteen-strong gang of Long Tailed Tits sat in the Apple tree at dusk last night watching me critically as I topped up the fat balls, and then gave me a good scolding when I didn't get out of the way fast enough. They are Bossy.

There are three Robins in the garden, all chasing each other and busy posturing. Feathers will fly before long. I suspect one at least may be a Scandinavian interloper so when he/ she returns there in Spring the other two may heave small sighs of relief and settle down to splitting territory amicably. 

The green-striped Siskin flock have been here all week too, twittering and whistling and popping in the trees that line the lake. Occasionally two appear on the feeders and everyone else looks askance at them. They are rather exotic-looking beside the sparrows and dunnocks, but less gaudy than the goldfinches who are also here everyday, their wing splashes of canary yellow ear-marking them a little too well for the female sparrowhawk who slices through the garden every now and then on the off chance. I know when she's paid a visit because either there is a small, sad pile of feathers left neatly beside the feeders, or else an unnatural hush falls in the garden with everyone sitting deep inside the hedge whispering nervously until someone (usually the Nuthatches) sounds the all clear.

Ted and Pops are sporting winter coats which will last until March and their next appointment with Mrs D. Sadly, the fear of a cold shower in the garden and ensuing threat of wet fur failed to give Ted the necessary pause for thought it should have done when he considered rolling in Fox Poo on our walk this morning. There is a faint whiff of it hanging round the table as I type, despite a vigorous shampooing.

Pop has a particular perfume all her own as her coat grows. No matter how hard I try I can't find it in me to describe it as pleasant. She seems to be able to switch it on at will, like a skunk, and chooses to do this most often when she's lying on the sofa of an evening beside me. I am beginning to understand why Ted is happy to remain by the fire and has eschewed all offers of sofa sharing made in recent evenings.

Parkrun on Saturday was hopeless. I was determined to break the 22 minute 5k but despite running myself ragged still came in at 23.06. Exactly the same time as last week. I took B from Coastal Ripples order of FOCUS seriously (it really did help) but still couldn't break the time. It was absolutely freezing, my face felt numb most of the way round and to be honest it wasn't a particularly enjoyable experience. Those wiser than me said the ice cold weather slowed everyone - lungs just can't work at full capacity when it's minus something. Even M was ten seconds slower than usual. I realise if you aren't a runner all this talk of seconds must sound pedantic, but seconds make all the difference and it is hard to knock them off your time when you're running close to your limit, or (as it turns out), the weather is freezing.

I felt disheartened by it but cheered up the next day by having a pleasant steady trot round the lanes and fields with the doggies. Next weekend it's the Stonehenge Stomp, 20k round Salisbury Plain with views of the ancient Stones. Let's hope the temperature rises just a little. I read in the paper details of the proposed tunnel, it's been ear-marked to cut straight through a very ancient indeed site which has yet to be fully studied. Seems to me wherever you cut the land on Salisbury Plain you risk damaging important archeology. I don't have a solution.

We went to my ma in laws artists' group sale over the weekend and came home with two paintings. I haven't bought any artwork for ages but have been looking for some new work. Both paintings got to me and I knew I'd have to bring them home or would forever more regret it. So they're up in the sitting room and I smile whenever I look at them.

The first one changes with the light; the colours darken and deepen by a few shades in evening and the lights seem to come on in the houses. Lord knows how the artist achieved that. For a winter scene it's mighty cosy.

The second one was painted by a man whose father was a member of the Royal Academy and his style is said to be similar. It's a scene somewhere in Northumberland, that wildest of counties.




At the tail end of last year I decided to enrol in a Counselling course and this week we've been looking at how body language affects people. There is a very interesting Ted Talk by Amy Cuddy (sorry, on a new computer (got the Mac!) and can't work out how to put the link in, but you'll find it if you search Body Language Amy Cuddy Ted Talk) which looks at how posture affects the levels of cortisol and testosterone in the body. If you're feeling nervous, take two minutes to stand up straight with your hands on your hips and your head up- your testosterone levels will rise and your cortisol (stress hormones) will fall. She proved it by testing participants' saliva levels before and after they'd adopted power and introvert stances (the levels swapped for the introvert stances, with testosterone falling and cortisol rising). Fascinating, eh?

L has to give a speech for English this week on a topic of his choosing. He has chosen to talk about why the curriculum should have more modern texts. Rather dubious that he'd have enough to talk about to keep going for 5 minutes, we sat down together last night and jotted some ideas on prompt cards before he practised it. I was impressed. He was clear, spoke slowly and didn't repeat himself. I have advised him to nip to the loo five minutes before he's due to give the speech and do the Two Minute Power Posture, to boost his confidence. He has given up doing anything other than roll his eyes at me when I make suggestions now, possibly from long experience.

Hope everyone is warm and well.

CT.










37 comments:

  1. You are so lucky to have so many birds visit you, one day again I am sure we can find a more wildlife friendly place to live, this will be a big must, as I just adore the birds so much. It is a proper winter at last isn't it. I do like your pictures, the second one is my favourite xx

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    1. Take heart- you've more birds in your garden than a year ago x

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  2. I enjoyed your nteresting and varied topic post but my favourite photo is the 2 dogs sitting by the fire

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  3. Love those two looking into the log burner. The one on the left could be Tess.

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    1. They often squash together like that by the fire of an evening :0)

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  4. Hey CT,
    Good grief you're hard on yourself! I'd be ecstatic if I recorded that sort of time! I love the picture of Pop and Ted by the fire; they look like firm friends. Having gone all the way with counselling training, I feel sure that you'll every moment of it. Even if you don't intend to practise, it's a fascinating subject.
    Leanne xx

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    1. I'm very focused on getting in under 23 mins because I know I can do it. But you're right, a few weeks back getting 23.06 would have made me very chuffed. Early days yet with the course but very interesting so far. Hope all's well with you all? How's the running going? I miss your posts xx

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    2. A steady 6 miles three times a week. It's still a bit of a psychological battle; I often want to take the short route rather than the longer one. But I am still enjoying it and that's the main thing. I'm also playing badminton twice a week, which I love!
      L xx

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    3. That's fantastic! Look how far you've come in only a few months. Well done indeed. I'm still nurturing the hope we might hook up to run a race together one day :o) xx

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  5. thehamish new dog food makes him very gaseous. I am sitting at the table and the smell washes over the room.
    Gud Dugs are always messy but so much love.
    I would think running in the cold would hurt your lungs. Just breathing the cold air hurts mine.
    Love the paintings. In one house I painted one wall gray. At any time during the day it was a different color ranging from gray to the most beautiful shades of lavender to a deep rosy lavender. It depends on the light, and what color of gray the artist used.

    cheers, parsnip

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    1. Really interesting about the tones and shades of colours. Hope thehamish is feeling better now x

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  6. Beautiful additions to your art collection! I am sure you will enjoy them. I can understand what you mean about the cold affecting your running, that must have an affect on your lungs which power your breathing and therefore I assume everything else. The good thing I imagine is that you were very close to what you have done before, so in a way you actually did even better because you didn't lose or not gain more time, so I think you could turn this into a win! Hope you enjoy and get a lot out of the counselling course, you are already very wise! Love the pics of T&P, those two little ones always cheer my day! Although I would find the fragrance less cheering in person no doubt! Keep on keeping on my friend!

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    1. I like that positive thinking about the running! I shall hold on to that :0). Ted is planning a diary post later this week xx

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  7. Beautiful paintings, I love that moment at dusk when it's time to scurry home as lights go on in people's windows. Gorgeous one by the sea as well - good choices both. Love your photo of your sweet doggies by the fire, oh they're so adorable. All the more so as I can't smell them from here. Bad luck on the Park Run, I hope you enjoy Stonehenge. I think you'll be channelling all that ancient energy and you'll be on fire. Good tip about posture, although I'm not sure we need much more testosterone around here. CJ xx

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    1. Maybe less cortisol though? I think it's a good one for mummies to use, especially with sons! X

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  8. I love the top painting - invokes that feeling of cosiness. Stinky doggies are just gross aren't they - what is it about fox poo that they find so alluring?! I now think I know why at work, all teachers and me the most, spend a lot of time stood up with hand on hips - we are trying to lower our cortisone levels!!

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    1. Yes! A typical teacher pose! And now we know why! Xx

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  9. Oh what beautiful photos...makes you all story of gooey inside and glad to be alive! x

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  10. I saw some redwings at the park yesterday, I’m so glad I’m not a bird in all this frost and cold. How cosy your doggies look by the fire! You'll have to watch out while you're running that you don't slip, I suppose more of your energy is keeping you warm in this weather that there's not enough left to shave off a second or two. Love your paintings, beautiful. Have fun x

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    1. Yes lots of redwing and fieldfare about this winter x

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  11. Lots to love in this post. Up close and friendly with the birds. I always blamed my cats for the little help of feathers but maybe it was a hawk ! The paintings are beautiful. I too would hang both happily on my walls. 20K next week wowser! I am impressed. Hope not too much archaeology is destroyed with the building work:(. Good luck and keep with the FOCUS! Have a great week and take care on the ice B x. P.s. Well done with the counselling course, sounds fascinating as does posture improving.

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    1. I honestly kept hearing your instruction to focus as I ran and it kept my speed up so thank you x

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  12. You'd be proud of me. We've been away and have come back much fitter than when we left. I did a 12k walk with ease on the second to last day and loads and loads of hill climbing. If only it were warmer here.. I want to get out in the garden and put it all to good use but the soil is frozen solid!

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    1. I am proud well done. I popped over to see you recently and wondered where you'd gone so will visit again now x

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  13. I love the photo of the 2 doggies in front of the fire - so cosy. Your new artwork is lovely too. Wish L good luck with the talk. When E was doing an important presentation, she was told to bite her tongue (gently!) just before starting. It makes you salivate and prevents that nervous dry mouth. xx

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    1. Interesting about the tongue biting. I've not heard that before. Will pass it on! X

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  14. 23.06 is still a great time and to be honest being there and managing a great time is all important.
    Stonehenge will be brilliant...hope all that druid power inspires a 22 something time.
    Ted and Pops look very cosy indeed...and the threat of a cold shower would dampen anyone's fox poo-ing spirits. Certainly would me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    L is choosing a fab topic...I've often wondered it myself and Willem would wholeheartedly agree. I mean learning Shakespeare, is it really necessary to study the texts? I think it should be sidelined into an English history lesson and touched on briefly..not studying a whole text. Which is becoming more and more irrelevant. Rant done.
    I hope his speech goes well and I bet he will give the de stress stance a go...but very secretly and he wont tell you!
    Happy winter days...let Spring begin for you all soon.
    Back to work for me after 6 weeks hols...looking forward to it. Love to all. xx

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    1. Stonehenge looking less likely now- M wrenched his knee on some ice and it's puffed up nicely. Have told L you agree re new texts. It reassured him before tomorrow :o). Lots love xx

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  15. P.S Love the paintings...the second one looks something very like my mum's cousin Shirley used to paint.xx

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  16. i love that pic of Ted and Poppy by the fire -- it looks so very cosy. and i especially LOVE that first painting....i can see the lights on even through my computer screen!

    there's a dog in my current story-in-progress and i was inspired by darling Ted and his penchant for fox-poo, to have my doggy character ripe-with-fox on first meeting with my MC. i may also have to pick your brain re: hedge-dwellers in the near future...;) xoxo

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  17. I was the slowest runner in my school rowing club, my university rowing club, an army rowing club (I was filling in and have never been a soldier), my karate club in Joburg and a running club in Namibia. My wife is faster than me. I am happy to simply be able to run and my enjoyment is increased now that I' do not worry or measure my speed. I was a competitive rower in my youth but too small to be any good at anything other than club level. I have nothing against competition, I think it serves many useful social functions, it's just that I have no use for it in my running life at this time. I have learned that everyone runs faster than me, it's genetics. I will take you on in broad bean growing or tomato rearing if you like?

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  18. I do like the paintings - no wonder you bought them :) The Counselling Course sounds interesting and good luck at Stone Henge - I can't imagine a lovelier place to run :)

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Thank you for leaving a comment. I always enjoy reading them and will try my best to reply to every one. CT x