Feline Focus

Feline Focus
My latest puma, July 2016


Beloved companion to Sarah, Nov 2015

Window To The Soul

Window To The Soul
Watercolour Horse, June 2015

Sleeping Beauties

Sleeping Beauties
Watercolour Lionesses, Nov 2012


"Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read."

"Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others."

Groucho Marx

Snow Stalker

Snow Stalker
Another snow leopard - my latest watercolour offering - July 2013

31 October 2016

Inconsistency, Thy Name Is Lisa

Hello.  It’s the end of October (which I’m sure you’ve probably noticed).  I haven’t posted since the beginning of the month (which you might also have noticed, if you follow my blog at all).  So, setting myself a weekly calendar ‘prompt’ went well, then, didn’t it?

Am I surprised that it hasn’t worked to help me be consistent?  Yes.  Kind of.  More disappointed, I guess.  I was hoping that this time I’d really found something that would work (given that it did seem to be doing so for about a month - which is longer than a lot of the ideas I’ve tried, most of which don’t get beyond the first day of conception.  Perhaps that’s because it wasn’t actually my idea at all this time).  

As readers of the AA Big Book might recognise the phrase, I was hoping that “this time it would be different”: the same way that, as an active alcoholic, I’d hope that, with each new attempt, I would be able to control my drinking.  Only to find that nothing I did to change the way I drank made any difference.  I still got drunk.  And I still persisted in believing that there was some way that I could alter the outcome, by sheer force of will.  

Of course, due to the obsession that had taken hold of my mind, it never occurred to me that I couldn’t; and, therefore, the only logical answer was to stop drinking entirely.  Too simple.  Too scary.  Too logical.  Too extreme.  Too rigidly black or white.  (I know.  How bloody ironic for one whose nature it is to bounce wildly from one extreme to the other, and views everything as a choice between either/or.  An opportunity for some of my autistic personality traits to come in useful, and I decide I’m going to wander in the world of grey. *rolls eyes*). 

So, here’s my dilemma - I keep trying to apply the same principles of the AA programme to things like my inconsistency, because that’s the language and the philosophy that is familiar to me, and with which I have been imbued for nearly thirty years now.  Except that it doesn’t quite work.  

Or, at least, due to the way my autism affects me, I am not able to adapt it and get it to work (and, by God, I’ve tried!)  All that keeps happening is that I confuse myself (even more than normal), and cement the feeling of failure I have about my inability to manage what I’ve come to view as my ‘failings’.  So, that’s a double whammy of failure to get in a pickle about.  Jolly good.

How do I accept that I am inconsistent, and give up trying to enforce it in myself?  

Don’t you sometimes feel as if the world is set up to defeat you, when it appears as if you come up short, or are outright deficient, in everything the world tells you that you need in order to be a thriving, successful, happy, healthy human being?  

Everything feels like such a bloody battle at times, like being in the trenches, never making any headway at all. *heavy sigh*  What would happen if I waved the metaphorical white flag, do you think?  Would someone shoot me?  (Yes, if I was lucky.  Put me out of my misery of having to listen to all of this tediously repetitious and woeful thinking.  Actually, I’d probably shoot myself.  Probably by mistake.)

So, just to maintain the ‘war’ metaphor, a full frontal attack doesn’t work.  Has to be a sneak attack.  So, back to the battle plan.  Or the non-battle plan.  Or the non-plan (given that plans don’t work for me either).  How to surrender, that’s my dilemma.  When I figure it out I’ll let you know.  (We could be waiting a long time, then.)

I hope you find peace with yourself.


04 October 2016

Blowing A Gasket

Excuse me while I have a bit of a rant.

I don’t trust people to be able to do their jobs properly.  I know it’s not a particularly ‘nice’ trait, but it’s true.  To pretend otherwise is pointless, and dishonest.  I think people are inept, and I expect them to fail at their jobs; which is why they obviously need me to watch them, or worry, whilst they are doing what they’re doing.  After all, I, on the other hand, am totally ept.  

I do feel bad about it sometimes, when it turns out to have been unwarranted; and I try not to expect the worst.  But it seems it’s either that, or going to the other extreme, and having high expectations, which are then usually not met.  

And suggesting that it’s okay to have expectations, but that I should try not to set them too high is like asking me to throw myself off a cliff, but then stop my descent half-way down.  As with everything else, I don’t have a middle ground: it appears there’s just a great big, cavernous hole where the ground should be.  

Personally, my goal is to have no expectations at all, but I fear that this is probably only attainable by those who’ve achieved advanced yogi/spiritual practitioner status, which is beyond me at the moment.  And possibly forever.  After all, I have no idea whether it’s possible for an autistic yogi (with added adhd/anxiety/and obsessive compulsive disorder) to achieve such heady heights…  But I can dream big, and die trying.     

Now, as I said, some of this may come down to my having unrealistic expectations, which is exacerbated by me being autistic, and not understanding what to expect from people (plus the whole black or white thing I’ve got going on).  This I accept.  But sometimes it’s actually because people really are bloody useless.

Take my gas engineers, for example.  PLEEEEASE, take them!!.

My gas boiler decided to have a bit of a nervous breakdown the other night, making lots of loud banging and hissing noises when I tried to run the hot water.  It’s also been leaking for a few weeks, but I decided to ignore this because it was still working (albeit the pressure gauge had dropped to almost zero): and, basically, I just hate having to phone up and report repairs (I hate using the phone), so I generally leave them until they can’t be ignored any longer (you know, when the thing in need of repair ceases to function altogether).  

My reticence is also due to the fact that, because I have anxiety and worry about things, I’m never quite certain whether I’m just making a mountain out of a molehill, and I don’t want to appear to be just some neurotic nelly.  

So I finally took the hint on Tuesday night, and phoned the gas service people.  An engineer came out the next day, and boggled me with some vague and convoluted diagnosis of the problem.  It couldn’t be fixed that day, but would be scheduled as soon as possible.  He did reassure me that I could still use the boiler.

A visit was arranged for two days later, and then had to be postponed until after the week-end (other, more urgent, jobs had come up; made me feel really valued).  And finally the day arrived - and so did a different engineer, bringing greetings of doubt about the efficacy of the solution suggested by his colleague.  Good start.  It’s always reassuring when people working for the same company disagree with each other’s opinions.

He took one look at the boiler, said that the pressure gauge was really low, and that that was probably the problem.  Had the other engineer not filled it up when he was here, he asked?  Answer - no.  And yes, I said, I had pointed it out to him: just as I seem to expend a great deal of breath on pointing it out to nearly every engineer who comes to service or repair the thing.  But you’d think I was asking them to dismantle the whole boiler, the way some of them react to my request for them to top it up.  I’d become rather worried that perhaps I was just paranoid and obsessed with the gauge, because none of them seemed to deem it that important.  I have, after all, been known to become obsessed…

So he did that, and fixed the leak.  And off he went… fortunately, only as far as to sit in his van outside my flat.  I found that the drip was still dripping, so, at the risk of appearing neurotic, I toddled out to him, told him, and he reassured me that it was probably just a residual drip, after he’d filled it up: nothing to worry about.  But if it was still doing it tomorrow, call them out again.

Two minutes later, he was back, saying he’d just check it to be sure.  And lo and behold, there was a leak - caused by a fault in a repair done by a previous engineer, who happened to work for the firm which is no longer employed by my Housing Association.  Good to know that ineptitude runs through all of the companies to whom they contract out work.

So, it’s fixed.  This is good (though I do keep checking to see that the boiler is still working, as is in my nature).  I don’t have to entertain the idea of the whole system having to undergo major replacement surgery, which is a relief.  I was meant to be having a new system installed last year, but after receiving a letter of notification, I heard nothing else.  

Which is the story of my relationship with my local Housing Association.  It’s like dealing with the Keystone Kops.  They are mostly nice people, but they excel at ineptitude.  I need plenty of Ps when dealing with them - Patience, Persistence, Perspective, and Practise (all of which I am rather deficient in) - but just abandon all hopes of Perfection.

And here endeth my rather mild rant.  By the time I was nearly at the end of writing this, the sting had gone out of it, and mostly what I could see was the humour.  I’ve learnt that it’s pointless to keep holding onto the irritation and anger; that it can’t change anything; and it just harms me from the negative energy that it produces.  This doesn't mean that it's gone permanently yet: it will probably take a few days, maybe even weeks, for that to happen - I am a chunterer, someone who doesn't let go easily.  This is just the beginning of the process of me letting go.  

So I leave the Keystone Kops to their bumbling, and give thanks to God that the problem was finally (hopefully permanently) sorted; and that I have central heating, and I don’t have to pay for the repairs.  I have lived in homes without it, or with completely ineffective systems, and it was miserable.  At times like these not only do I need to see the humour, but I also have to remember to count my blessings.

May you see the funny side in all your dealings with authority.


Snow Leopard

Snow Leopard
An experiment in watercolour and gouache

Quotes Quota

"Do you believe in Magic?" asked Colin.

"That I do, lad," she answered. "I never knowed it by that name, but what does th' name matter? I warrant they call it a different name i' France an' a different one i' Germany. Th' same thing as set th' seeds swellin' an' th' sun shinin' made thee well lad an' it's th' Good Thing. It isn't like us poor fools as think it matters if us is called out of our names. Th' Big Good Thing doesn't stop to worrit, bless thee. It goes on makin' worlds by th' million - worlds like us. Never thee stop believin' in th' Big Good Thing an' knowin' th' world's full of it - an call it what tha' likes. Eh! lad, lad - what's names to th' Joy Maker."

From 'The Secret Garden', by Frances Hodgson Burnett


Copied from photograph of the same name by Roberto Dutesco

Quotes Quota

"There is no way to happiness - happiness is the way."
The Dalai Lama

"If you don't stand for something you will fall for anything."

Malcolm X

On The Prowl

On The Prowl
Watercolour tiger

Quotes Quota

"What saves a man is to take a step. Then another step."

"There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind."

C S Lewis