Friday, 25 January 2013

Celebrating My Follie

My beautiful Follie Pops has been with me four years now.  She is a fox terrier collie cross and when I rescued her from being tied up  24/7 for most of her first year she was not cross but wild!  She was skinny, sweet alert and had a glint in her eyes that I came to recognise as trouble.  The lady who owned  her had wanted a lap dog and was given as a present a working dog combo of a fox terrier and collie instead. Her folly and my special follie dog.

She came to me just before Christmas on the eve of her first Birthday.  During  her first year She had been walked twice and had been tied up  more and more over the nine months until she was tied up 24/7.

Poppy, now five years old and looking for mischief?

When she arrived at my house Poppy was given the free run of  it.  At first she stayed in the front room not realising that she was free but then she was off, as she passed the washing machine she pushed the button and the washing got another washing and yet another.  I thought it was my washing machine going wrong - I was wrong it was this skinny black and tan dog I called Poppy. I remembered that her previous owner said she liked watching washing going round!

Then she saw the stairs and  made a dashed for them expecting to be stopped.  She had never climbed stairs before.  She tripped and slipped  as she ran, half way up she met  our ancient cat Tiddles who beat her back down the stairs slashing at  her face.  Pops slithered down whimpering.  Undaunted she charged upstairs again to be slashed and scratched once more.  I took Poppy back down stairs really cross with her for attacking Tiddles, but as I looked up the stairs I could see the blood dripping from the steps and oozing from Poppy's nose.

Christmas day I walked her to St JamesGreen Dog Park, an enclosed area safe for dogs to run and play.  I let Poppy off the lead, she stood still and then she ran like the wind in and out of the trees round and round in circles.  A pack of dogs  was in the centre of the park and Poppy crawled on her belly to them.  She had not been socialised with any dogs since she left her mum.  The dogs gathered round her and she cowered submissively.  A huge Husky, Geo, came over to her and gave her a lick and she slunk to his side.  The other dogs backed off and she had made her first friend.  

.She soon had a small band of friends Bruce a black Labrador adored her, Bessie a collie about the same age became a firm friend, and they would run in circles,chasing each other. Tess and Tia  both terriers bossed her around but would keep rough dogs away from her. then there was Oscar, a tale for another day. I was so pleased for her.  She learnt to play with them, and how to sniff for peemails, for foxes, squirrels and all the myriad of messages left by the living world. The squirrels baited her to chase them and would scramble up a tree before she caught them, pigeons and crows feeding in the park would fly away when she had almost reached them.  She chased a rabbit into the  hedge and there was a scream and Poppy tumbled out of hedge backwards.  The rabbit had used its powerful back feet to kick her away.

I loved to see her enjoying herself  but getting to the park was a different matter.  Poppy is so unsure of people and wanst approval leapt up at people and tried to lick their nose.  She also was afraid of cars, not for Pops cowering  in fear at these monsters, no each one was given a twirl and a howl and then she would leap at them.  A dog trainer showed me how to stops this by getting her to sit before a car passed and I had get her to look at me and I had to say  "Leave it".  then if she did not fling herself at the car  say,"Good Girl."  Living in an urban City even a short walk took a long time!. I spent of lot time bottom up in the street and often heard a chorus of "Leave it! Leave it!" from roofers and other builders.Fortunately she no longer leaps at people and only twirls and leaps at the occasional car.  

Just after she arrived a builder started doing major work on my house, two months early and  which took two months to complete.  So Poppy and the cats never really got to bond as the cats were shut in one room and I was often shut in another with Pops. Happy Days oh sigh.

Pops sleeps for twelve hours, is awake and  is active during the day for twelve hours.. At night she goes  quite happily into the back room to sleep at  at 8.30 pm   At first she had a futon to sleep on until six weeks after she came one night she shredded the futon mattress and I walked into s sea of  filling. The the birds appreciated the cotton stuffing to line their nest and my hanging baskets are lined with the remnants to this day.  Now she has four blankets in winter wedged against the radiator and in summer pulled across the room to catch the morning light. 

 She loves her room and her toys, especially her football, which she has had for four years.  Every morning we play football.   Visitors are expected to play football after a few minutes of being in the house.   She  loves her food. . She came to us at Christmas so she was treated to many new tastes - slices of ham, chicken, beef,  lamb and Turkey.  When we fed her she would look warily at the treat offered and only when she was sure  it was really for her, eat it with relish often running off into her room. (Our dinning room).  

She always comes with me to the plot where she has a group of Poppy fans.  Who come over to give her a cuddle and play with her.  she barks at geese cyclist,  sometimes at cars and  always at my push pull grass mover. She has to be on a long lead but she is happy being fussed over, eating her treats, and getting cuddles from me as I take a break from working on my plot. On the way home we walk to St James Green so she can run free.

Poppy has wriggled her way into my heart, she is a loving, intelligent, dog.  She hectic with a wild side but also gets scared very easily, she wont go into my shed and will bolt for the door in a local  shop which has wooden panelling,  If I pick up the broom and lift  it off the ground she will flinch back, when it is on the floor she will attack it.  She is a wreck if I use the vacuum cleaner. 

I would not be without Poppy, my cats would love to be without her, but accept her with disdain.  We have had many adventures together, a lot of fun.  She is my  beautiful  dog Pops and I am so grateful to she came into my life.

With Reiki Blessing to all living creatures
and to you all
Merry B


Thursday, 10 January 2013

New Year - A reflection on Druidry

When I was tidying up after New Year I found  a card produced by the OBOD about Druidry.  It made me reflect  about the journey I have made over the past three years

I first made a tentative step towards Druidry three years ago it drew me because it fosters a love and respect for the earth for the woods, wild places and  for all t living creatures.  During following years I have developed more intensely my love of nature and the living world.

My Fruit bed with fruit trees  & bushes
herbs and flowers
October 2012
The way I have structured my plot has been influenced  by wanting to create a haven  not only for us but for animals, birds, and insects.  Over the years I have planted eight trees and willow whips on one boundary. I have a cherry tree, plum, apple trees, and a filbert tree, but  being a realist I have not planted an oak tree. I planted  a fruiting quince because of  its shaggy beauty and strange perfumed fruit which are perfect cooked with apples or made into a jelly.  There is also a crab apple which provides fruit for us and for the birds, I have made Crab Apple Jelly, which is tricky because there is so much pectin in the fruit that it quickly goes beyond the boiling point for jam and turns into Toffee.  This was delicious and made a perfect gifts for Christmas in 2011!   Last year I left all the fruit to the birds and animals as they need food after such a poor wet cold summer.

The fruit area of my plot has fruit bushes, herbs and wild flowers growing.  I use the herbs to make herbal teas and for simple healing remedies.  The borage plants growing near my strawberry patch nourished a nest of bumble bees which lived in my cold frame .  In the dreadful wet and cold months of last summer the bees could quickly pop out from the nest collect rich pollen and nectar, and be back safe to the nest before their furry bodies became waterlogged and heavy,  If this happens bumble bees fall from the sky and can die of cold.

I have always loved being near trees, I learnt a lot of my knowledge from my mother who loved the outdoors and nature.  She trained as a herbalist and taught me so much.  What Druidry did was intensify my focus and lead me to learn more about Tree lore and the Ogham.  I have two sets of Ogham cards that I have had for a long time,  One set by Liz and Colin Murry the other by Caitlin Matthews   I used them as a means of reflection, to help in decision and to understand a problem.

There is so much dispute about the origins of the Celtic Ogham and it is doubtful if the full history of how it evolved will ever be clear. I was disappointed to find the Celtic Ogham used as a means of divination was so recent in origin. But I came to feel that The Celtic Tree Ogham distilled from folklore, myths and legends reaching  back far in time and its  links to my Celtic Ancestors had value.  I believe it has a mystical and poetic symbolisms which has a resonance in today's world.. 

My father was a wonderful story teller and historian and instilled in me a love of  going to historic places buildings stone circles, often when I visit an ancient site I can hear his voice telling me the story and legends  of the place,  He taught to feel the importance of history and see the link back to my ancestors and:

The forming power of the past.  (OBOD)

An interest in, and love of, the Sun, Moon,Stars a has always been part of my life.  I like learning about the big picture of the heavens but also seeing the microcosm of my viewpoint.  I like to learn not only facts about our planet and our universe but also Starlore  drawn from the folklore and old stories inspired by cycle of  the  Sun, Moon and The Night Sky.  Druid Starlore:
Embodied in the old stories and the stone circles, teaches a love of the universe.    (OBOD)

The past summer I missed the Sun and Moon and relished being outside on a sunny day with more intensity.  Walking with Pops at night  I felt the absence of the moon during the dismal  evenings of last summer. I like to know the phases of the moon not be reading about it but by seeing it in the night sky and feeling the moonlight as we walk.

Druidry has once again sharpened my focus on the cycle of the sun, moon and stars.  The cycles of the seasons and the cycle of life.

 Love of life of life is part of Druidry it:

Encourages celebration and full commitment to life - it is not a spirituality that wants to escape from life. (OBOD)

I love life and embrace the challenges and joy it brings I feel that my journey into Druidry has shown me away to see the world and its beauty and possibilities from a different standpoint

 People have strange ideas about Druidry and certainly I will not be wearing robes and celebrating the Solstice or Equinox with strange rituals, I won't be found wandering skyclad in the woods.  I am not a Pagan, my Christian heritage is too deep. .I have learnt no magic or spells although I think life and the world can be magical and every day we are given gifts of joy if we pay attention..

Central to my spiritual journey is Reiki and  Mindfulness Meditation.  Druidry has opened my mind to more possibilities and has helped  guided my path.

I am grateful for the journey I have been making in Druidry  I love learning and I will always be a lifelong learner.

With Gratitude to all my Teachers
and Reiki light to you 

Monday, 7 January 2013

New Years Day resolutions and plans

New Years Day was a beautiful sunny winter day.  Pops and I went to down to our plot.  We took a lovely rambling walk to get there.  It was good to see Pops sniffing, leaving peemails and looking with avid interest at the way ahead.   We took our time and when we got to the plot settled down to sit and relax in the sun after so many blustery wet bleaks days over the last week.

How many times I have heard on gardening programmes that grass stops growing in the winter, and how many times I have looked at the grass paths on my plot and wondered what magic makes it grow and and grow.  Sitting enjoying drinking my tea I did wonder if I should get up and start cutting it, but the grass was wet and   the day was for reflection and planning.

The Willow whips  I had coppiced in November were stacked at the bottom of the plot and are perfect for making at least one of two raised beds.  One behind the shed and, if there is enough left,  one at the bottom of the plot which I will line with weed suppressant fabric to stop bindweed from my neighbours plot growing though into my bed.
Perfect for putting weed suppressant fabric
 into it to stop the bindweed

If I do not have enough willow whips I will try and get some pallets and make some raised beds with them.  Hey the instructions look quite simple.  All I need now is some pallets.  Our council in their wisdom stopped allowing pallets to be dropped off at the plot. Wonder if they would fit  on my bike!

I will go round the back of the  DIY store and see what kind  of pallets they have got and then persuade a friendly van driver to get some and drop them off at the plot.  How to phrase the request?   I think I know the right van driver! .
urban gardener

This one would be useful as there is always stuff to store on the plot. I am going to look at more ideas over the next few weeks.  Meanwhile I will be digging.

My plot has grass paths and sometimes I feel it would be great to dig them up.  The grass never stops growing and it creeps into the beds Oh sigh, but my plot is full of grasshoppers and I love walking past my shaggy grass edges and see one jump out of the way as I walk  by.  What I have been doing is narrowing my paths to the width of my push pull lawn mover about 16 inches.  Near my cold frame I had a four foot space of grass. I have reduced that to two and over the next couple of weeks, weather permitting. I will double dig the whole bed ready for planting potatoes.
old map showing root of cannal

My plot is on the site of part the canal of that ran between  Portsmouth and Arundel, it was built in 1823 and was abandoned in 1855.  Under my plot about two foot down is a layer of clay and stone chippings.  So I have to build up every year.  I clear the stones and flints from the beds but the worms bring them back up and I never have any stone free beds. 

Where was I  - ah  double digging is only possible for about a 1& half spits deep before I hit clay.  Double digging  will rid  the bed of  couch grass roots (or some of them).  and some of the stones and flint pieces.  I am hoping that  Potatoes will clear some more grass from this bed.  I use the stones to make a path between my blackberry hedge and raspberry bed.  I had the illusion it would also stop the blackberries creeping into the raspberry bed.  Not true but I dig out the blackberries and the leave the raspberries that have migrated  growing and thriving in the blackberry hedge. 

Last year I grew three varieties of Potatoes Picasso and Rooster main crop potatoes and Red Duke of York first Earlies. Despite the weather they all cropped well but I did dig them up in the middle of July as blight was spreading through the allotments.  Picasso make delicious baked Potatoes and I will grow it yet again this season.  Unfortunately the Red Duke of York seed potato crops failed last year so there are very few available. Instead I will grow Foremost and possibly Vivaldi, which is described in Mr Fothergill's Catalogue as "The Weight Watchers Potato" it has  third less Carbohydrates than many other varieties. It is also called "The Butterless Bake".  Mnnnm  - maybe I will look again I like carbs in my potatoes and butter on top.

While sitting on my plot planning for the new season,on New Years Day, I wondered about getting another new fruit tree.  Before Christmas I planted a red James Grieve,  a 1 year maiden,  but as I looked around I could see  space for one or more trees.  I still haven't made up my mind about what to grow or if to get another new fruit tree this season. 

I have plans for more and more cut flowers this year.  My seed box is over flowing already, far too many to grow at the plot or in my garden. Last year the flowers shone even if some of the vegetables succumbed to the onslaught of slugs, rain and low light.

What a perfect way to spending New Years Day and later in the morning friends joined me for coffee and brought mince pies.  Perfect Day, perfect sunshine, perfect company, and Pops had presents of  treats and new toys.

Wishing You Sunshine and Blessings 
The New Year

Merry B