Sunday, 7 January 2018

Dog Flapping

Last year, you might remember, we gained a new member of the family.
     Of course I am referring to Bridie, who came, as usual, from our friend Angela at Wicani Collies.
     All of the dogs we have had, all have their own personalities, and Bridie is no exception. She is a large and energetic dog who likes to keep on the move, but can be surprisingly nervous about the oddest of things.She will turn over in her sleep, knock against something waking herself up and vanishes in a crash of flailing limbs. She appears to be able to go from a standing start to light speed in less than a second, so you have to be ready for her to bolt if there is an unknown squeak, creak or snap. Having an open fire, this leads to some energetic evenings, with Bridie in and out of the room sometimes every few seconds.
     She is both intelligent and stubborn. If she has decided she will not do something, or doesn't like something, she is difficult to persuade otherwise.
      And now we come to the dog flap.
      Many years ago we had a cat and a Yorkshire Terrier. They both learnt to use the cat flap and popped in and out happily.
     Then we gained out first rough collie puppy, who also quickly learnt to use the cat flap. As we realised she was going to end up a lot larger than both the cat and the Yorkie and could possibly end up stuck in the cat flap, we bought and installed a larger dog flap.
     The dog flap has proved popular with every dog we have had since.
     Except Bridie.
     Bridie prefers to have the door opened for her and is quite prepared to wait hours until one of us gives in and does it.
    We have shown her the dog flap. She has seen China trundling happily in and out through the dog flap. She has even been 'helped' through the dog flap. But she really does not want to use it.
     Through the summer this hasn't been a problem, as we usually have the back door wide open most of the day. But as it has got colder, the door is only opened when necessary, and one of us (usually me) has ended up standing by the open back door, freezing, shivering and waiting for Bridie to decide she has finished inspecting the garden and is ready to come in again.
    Until the other day.
     Graham was out in the shed doing his exercises, and Bridie wanted to go out. I stood by the back door as usual, waiting for Bridie, who was doing a major inspection of the back garden, here, there and everywhere, trotting beautifully from place to place, and galloping past the door.
     I called her a couple of times, she looked at me, then headed off to the far reaches of the garden again. I thought 'Well sod you then.' and shut the back door, knowing that Graham was outside, and if all else failed he would let Bridie in when he came in.
     I stomped upstairs feeling annoyed with Bridie and got on with my computer work - well I say 'work', WoW may have been involved.
    All of a sudden I heard a crash as the dog flap bust open and the unmistakable sounds of Bridie thundering upstairs. 'Have you come in on your own?' I wondered aloud, 'Or has Graham 'helped' you?' I listened to try and hear if Graham was downstairs but there was nothing.
     Then a couple of minutes later Graham did come in and asked 'Has Bridie come in?'
     For the first time, Bridie had used the dog flap, on her own, with no help.
     Whoopee!

     Now we only have to get her used to the idea that she can use it to go out as well.





Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Fraud Allert

Yesterday I had a strange and scary phone call.
     Scary because it was designed to be so.
     I picked the phone up to hear, 'Hello I am calling from Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs, we have been trying to contact you because we are compiling a case against you.'
     I immediately went into panic mode, what must I do? what do they want? co-operate and we might avert this 'case'!
    The woman, who spoke with a strange foreign accent, and was on a terrible line, I had trouble hearing what she said, asked me to confirm my name, address and date of birth. She then asked for my national insurance number.
    I hope you do not know yours off by heart, I certainly don't and asked if the woman would wait while I tried to find it. At this point Graham said to me, 'How do you know they are genuine?'
     Somehow, that cut through my panic and I asked the woman on the phone, 'How do I know you are genuine?'
     She gave some sort of reply, but again I had trouble hearing what she said and asked her to repeat it - at which point she rang off.
     I tried the dial back code (1471), expecting to get a 'number withheld' message, but to my surprise I got a London telephone number, which I made a note of.
     I then found the number of Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs and rang them. I explained to the lady I spoke with there what had happened and she looked at their files, assured me they were not preparing any sort of case against me and said, 'It has come up on my system that you are to ring the National Action Fraud Police line.' and gave me their phone number.
     I rang the Fraud Police Line, which compiles information for the police on cyber crime and other kinds of fraudulent crimes, such as I suspect was in my case attempted identity theft.
     I gave her all the details of the phone conversation, and the phone number I had got from dial back. She said the information would go into the police data base where it could be checked against other similar events. She did say this did not always lead to a conviction, which I can understand, these people are sneaky, that is why they are criminals, they will cover their tracks as much as possible - which is why being able to get a phone number on dial back surprised me.
     She asked me how upset I was on a scale, and I was quite upset by the experience.
     I suppose you never expect this kind of thing to happen to you. And that phone call was designed to create a panic, so that you do not think clearly, and may well give out information you would not normally give.

     And that is why I decided to write about it on my blog.
     It did happen to me, and if I can help put anyone else on their guard against these heartless, cruel and evil people, then I will be happy.

    Incidentally, as a Witch and proud of it, I have passed their evil on to the ones who can deal with it. The hunt is on.


If you feel you need to contact the Action Fraud Police line the UK number is 0300 123 2040
They can also be found online at www.actionfraud.police.uk and you can check there to find out about the latest kinds of fraud which are doing the rounds.




Sunday, 10 December 2017

What to do on a Sunday?

So what do you do on a Winter Sunday morning when it is minus 4° (yay! just found the degree symbol°°°)
     Go to North Cave Boot Sale!
     I love a Boot Sale. You never know what treasures you might find.
     Even, as today, when I am sitting in the car, waiting for Graham to search the stalls, I still find the anticipation exciting.
     There is always a mental list of things to look out for: books (always books!), jigsaw puzzles for me, stoneware bottles, glass jewellery. But there are always the unexpected surprises - some cutup pieces of yellow plastic necklace, which turn out to be amber beads, a Chinese box full of ginseng, a pair of Goth Boots which have been to a 'Cure' gig.
     Today I am actually parked close enough to see what is on some of the stalls, and the outstanding object is a red wooden front door, complete with door knocker.
     Hang on, Graham is back! Much sooner than expected.
     He said there are less stalls than usual, perhaps the forecast threatening snow has kept sellers away. But he is very proud of himself as he is bearing the buy of the day - a HUGE bunch of Mistletoe, covered in berries.
     He is even more proud of himself because he has 'haggled' for this purchase.
     There are actually 3 smaller bunches priced at £2 a bunch, and Graham offered £5 for three bunches and it was accepted!




Now, that is what I call a bunch of Mistletoe!


Friday, 3 November 2017

So What Night is Full Moon?

On our Facebook page today I made a note that the Moon will be Full tomorrow morning, but that many groups will be holding their Full Moon Ceremony (and possibly Samhain too) tonight.
     In our last Newsletter we had an article which discussed this topic, answering the question: 'Is there a difference between astrological New Moon and Magical New Moon'. So I will use an extract from that article here:

     Our ancestors were not as fixated on precise timing as we in the modern world. Originally the only clock in a village would be the one on the church tower, and when these were first installed they only had one hand, to indicate the nearest hour. Chiming clocks strike the quarter hours because that was the most precise any country person wanted to be.
     ... When you observe the Moon regularly, you will see that its shape changes a little each night, but like a very slow flicker book, the changes are so slight, it is difficult to tell the difference from one evening to the next. So when you look at the Full Moon, in practise there are three nights (usually) when the Moon appears to be Full.
     The same thing happens around New Moon, but here we have an added dimension to the tale: the astrological moment of the New Moon falls in the middle of what we know magically as the Dark of the Moon.
     The Dark of the Moon is that time when there seems to be no Moon in the sky, the Moon vanishes all together, so in magical terms the New Moon does not occur until the thinnest sliver of the Waxing Moon can be observed in the sky. This is usually a couple of nights after the Astrological New Moon.
     This also explains why sometimes there are said to be four faces of the Goddess: The New, Waxing Moon is the Maiden, the Full Moon is the Bright Mother, the Waning Moon is the Crone, and the Dark of the Moon belongs to the Dark Mother.
     What this boils down to is that we actually have a little more leeway than it would appear to hold our Full Moon ritual. We can hold it on any of the three nights around the time of the Full Moon, which means we can find a time most convenient for our purposes.


Monday, 30 October 2017

A Country Halloween Remembered

Here is an extract from one of the articles in the Samhain issue of the Raven Newsletter, I hope you enjoy it:

Halloween has always been my favourite time of year. I can remember looking forward to this magical night from being a very young child.
     The idea that Witches might be out and about was never scary to me. I never found the wickedest of Witches in any way frightening. I remember watching the Disney film 'Snow White' as a child and finding the wicked stepmother Witch a fascinating creature. Seeing her brewing potions, speaking to a magic mirror and shape-shifting to alter her appearance, was wonderful, and merely made me eager to find out how to do those things for myself.
     The idea of ghosts and spirits being free to roam was exciting and gave me a delicious shivery feeling. I read ghost stories and folk tales from a very young age, and my mother was also a fund of folklore, spells and invocations (although she would not have considered them as such).
     I longed to find a great black dog, with eyes the size of saucers accompanying me along the dark country roads. Black Shuck was welcome any time.
     When I was young there was no 'Trick or Treat'ing. That American import did not arrive for many years.
     There was also no street lighting in most villages, it was found only in built up areas. So the walk home from school in Winter, and sometimes to school in the mornings, was done in the dark. The only light was from behind the drawn curtains of the houses I walked past, or from the windows of the two village shops and the Red Lion pub. It was a quiet walk home too, apart from the odd passing car.
     We saw the Moon every night, so we didn't have to wonder what the phase of the Moon was. And if you were ever unsure, then every calendar and pocket diary told you the Full, Half and New Moons.
     My mum would always remind us when the Moon was New, to go outside and turn our money over, 'And mind you don't see the Moon through glass!' she would warn us, so that we kept our eyes to the ground until we were safely outside.
     At Halloween one year I decided I wanted to make a lantern, but pumpkins were unknown in our part of the country. The only option was a swede. Having made many pumpkin lanterns since, I can tell you there is a whole heap of difference cutting the lid off a pumpkin and scooping the inside out, and trying to do the same thing to a swede!
     I struggled for hours to make any kind of impression. I had to use a knife - I bent a spoon trying with that. Eventually I ended up with a sort of depression in the top of the swede, and my mother gave me a candle to stick in it. It looked nothing like I had imagined, and nothing like the pictures of pumpkin lanterns. I hadn't managed to get enough of the inside out to be able to make any sort of a face for the candle light to shine out of. But at least I felt I had made the effort.


Friday, 20 October 2017

New Notebook

I really like a nice notebook.
     And starting a new one, is to open the door on a whole new set of adventures.
     Today I started a new notebook. This one is ring bound with nice mottled pink, hard board covers. This actually happens more often than you might imagine. Not because I am such a prolific writer that I rapidly fill my current book and have to find a new one, but because, like my glasses, I tend to carry them about and put them down in odd places.
     There are some places which are more likely to accumulate them, rather in the same way as drifts of pairs of glasses accumulate, small hills of notebooks begin to grow. Usually by my work pc and my game computer.
     I like to have a notebook to hand, so that if some idea strikes I can write it down straight away. And I usually take a notebook with me when we go shopping. That way, while Graham is trundling around the shop with his list and shopping trolley, I can sit in the car and write - this piece was started in Aldi's car park, by the way.
     What is supposed to happen is that when we get home I will transfer my notes, or article to the appropriate computer - stuff for my blog will go on the game pc, articles for the Raven Newsletter will be typed up on my work pc - then the notebook will be returned downstairs, ready for the next bout of inspiration to strike.
     What is more likely to happen though, is that I forget to take the notebook downstairs, and pop it on top of the growing pile of notebooks near the pc, all of which are theoretically heading downstairs.
     So when we are ready to go out, I suddenly find that THERE IS NO NOTEBOOK to hand.
     But DON'T PANIC I have a little stock of yet-to-be-written-in notebooks on one of the bookshelves downstairs.
     So I get a new one.




Just a few of the notebooks currently in use.

Monday, 16 October 2017

Diaries

Graham has decided to have a sort out of the bookshelf near his computer in the bedroom. He has been emptying the shelves, sorting what he wants to keep and what he is happy to part with.
     As he has been doing this he came across a book 'The Diary of a Farmer's Wife 1796-1797'
     This book was originally a series published in the Farmer's Weekly in the 1930's. It is possibly based on an old family diary, but appears to have been stretched or filled out by the addition of old family recipes by the lady who submitted it for publication.
     It is a charming book, the diary written by Anne Hughes - the farmer's wife - basically recording the day to day happenings in and around the farm and its inhabitants. Anne writes as she would have spoken, with her own idiosyncratic spellings: potatoes are always 'pertaties', and she is always 'verrie bussie'. She records the trivial details of housekeeping, scrubbing the floors, caring for the animals and cooking meals, as well as the local gossip and celebrations.
     I have never really kept a diary as I've always thought that most days there isn't a lot to write about. Although I suppose my working day is a bit different to most. And it did get me thinking about what I would write if I kept a diary - my blog is the nearest I get to this, although I would say it is nearer to a Commonplace Book.
     I do often get people ringing up for advice, or to tell me about some strange happening, as well as to place orders.
     This last week a gentleman told me how he had used the Ouija Board 'and Beelzebub came through'. He then commented that I didn't seem very impressed by this - by which I can only assume that the object of telling me this was to impress me.
     The gentleman has been a customer of ours for some years, and had previously asked me to help him as he was making no magical progress, 'Nothing works' he said, which I was intrigued by as usually even the beginners at magic will get some sort of result with their spells (maybe not what they wanted or expected, but certainly some sort of response).
     So I wrote to him making various suggestions, which he took offence at, as I had written basic advice. But as I had not trained him, I did not know what he had any experience of, plus you need to make sure you get the basics in place before you can make progress in any field.
     Since then he has told me that actually he has certain spells which always work, such as a spell to find a parking space, and of course the apparent conjuration of Beelzebub.
     But what this gentleman means by 'Nothing works' is that he wants two things: a big win on the lottery, and to conjure a spirit, any spirit, to full physical manifestation.
     He has said that he doesn't need the money, he is quite comfortably off, but he just wants to prove that it can be done. He then asked me if I could send him a spirit. I said 'No.' which again didn't go down well.
     I told him that the spirits will help us with what we need. He said he knew that, someone else had already told him that. So I think this gentleman is doomed to disappointment.
     The spirits are always happy to help us, but they do not like greed, or being taken advantage of.
     A bit like most of us really.