Daffodil

Published February 4, 2021 by Naomi Rettig

Daffodil

You are so brill.

Glistening gold,

Your petals bold.

Standing tall

Your trumpets call

‘Spring is here’

And squirrels cheer.

Yellow troops

Mustered in groups,

Dancing wild,

My eyes beguiled.

Glorious.

Victorious.

Giving glee,

Joyous and free.

Imbolc

Published January 28, 2021 by Naomi Rettig

Spring is springing.

Winter slips into sweet slumber.

Snowdrops peep out

Telling crocuses to follow.

Sparrows flitter

And chitter their morning sonnets.

Badgers emerge

From their hibernation hideouts.

Frogs lay their eggs.

Ewes will soon be swollen with lambs.

Rebirth is here

Creating new and brighter days.

A Gothic Hamster Ate My Toast

Published December 27, 2020 by Naomi Rettig

A gothic hamster dressed in black

Crept to my kitchen for a snack,

Dark eye liner and backcombed fur

Hiding in shadows, a sinister blur.

I woke up for a midnight feast

Unaware of this gothic beast.

I made some toast, switched the kettle on,

When I turned to eat it, the toast was gone.

Had I lost the plot? Out of my mind?

I scanned the room and what did I find?

A little gothic hamster quite engrossed,

Dropping crumbs on my floor, scoffing my toast.

I coughed to interrupt him, he stopped and looked my way,

His eyes grew wide, he quivered, and he started to sway.

I crouched down low, smiled at him, whispered all was great

He cried and smudged his eyes, sorry for what he ate.

I dried his tears, cuddled him, told him all was fine,

He could come and visit me any time to dine.

My Ideal Christmas

Published December 14, 2020 by Naomi Rettig

Calorie free chocolate that tastes oh so good,

A cosy log cabin hid away in a wood,

White fluffy snow that sparkles so bright,

Reading a book in soft candlelight,

Snuggling under a warm Christmas fleece,

Meditating quietly with inner peace,

Listening to carols as I close my eyes,

Avoiding temptation of cream and mince pies.

Seeing my daughter’s smile light up the room,

Chatting with friends via Facebook and Zoom.

A real open fire with flames dancing high,

The brightest of stars in a velvet sky.

A cat purring happily on my lap,

Luring me gently into having a nap.

A trampoline session to make me feel groovy,

Then feet up, relax, and chillout with a movie.

The gorgeous Judd Nelson waiting in bed

Covered all over with a marzipan spread.

Christmas Comfort

Published December 14, 2020 by Naomi Rettig

Gazing up at the sky on Christmas Eve

I wonder if we see the same stars.

I clasp my hands and imagine it’s you,

Squeezing three times to say I love you.

Physically far yet spiritually near,

When I know you’re here I have no fear.

I chat in my mind and know that you hear.

When I lose my way you guide and steer.

I’m never alone, Christmas and beyond.

Your joy, love, and hope comforts my soul.

The Hair Slide

Published November 28, 2020 by Naomi Rettig

Monica wasn’t superstitious but she knew that her day wasn’t going to run smoothly for a Friday 13th. Having dropped her breakfast, peanut butter on toast, on the floor to be devoured by Jinx the Labrador, catching her finger in the kitchen cupboard, and tripping over a conker on the path outside her house, work at Craven Care Home wasn’t much of an improvement.

‘I’m not sitting by her, she’s a thief.’ Olive’s bony hands rattled her walking frame as she came to a standstill next to the dining table.

Beryl, seated at the table, shook her mop of grey hair. ‘The cheek of her! She’s the thief and a liar!’

‘Ladies please.’ Monica, already used to playing referee to these two after only a few days, was finding it particularly tiresome today. She’d only been on shift for a few hours and was already counting down to being home alone Jinx. ‘Let’s be nice.’

‘I’m not eating with her. I’d rather starve,’ said Olive.

‘Go on then,’ said Beryl. ‘Starve to death.’

Monica was frustrated that these grown up women were acting like toddlers. ‘Mrs McQuillan, come and sit over here.’

She steered Olive towards a table on the opposite side of the dining room and helped her to sit down, placing the walking frame by the side, like a playpen barrier. The dining room was heavy with the smell of cooked cabbage and disinfectant and the noise of pots and pans bashing about overshadowed the smatter of chatter from the residents awaiting their food.

‘She stole my hair slide.’ Olive’s eyes, milky with cataracts, stared at Monica.

Nodding, Monica glanced around the room. ‘I’m sure it will turn up.’ She caught sight of the metal food trolley with the wonky wheel heading their way. ‘Look, Joanne’s coming round with lunch now. Cod and parsley sauce, your favourite.’

‘I hope it’s not lumpy sauce like last week.’ Olive removed her false teeth and plonked them on the table.

Monica watched a globule of spittle slide from denture to table. ‘I’m sure it’ll be lovely.’ She walked away to the small tea room next to the kitchen. She didn’t feel hungry anymore.

Kyla had a coffee waiting on the worktop in the tiny tea room for Monica and stood drinking hers from a mug with the slogan I’m a carer what’s your superpower. ‘Thought we were going to have fisticuffs then.’

Monica grimaced and picked up her mug. ‘Thanks.’ It was a souvenir mug from Cleethorpes. No member of staff was from Cleethorpes or had ever been to Cleethorpes so it was a mystery mug in the staff cupboard that Monica had adopted. ‘I don’t know why they annoy each other so much. Ever since Olive arrived, Beryl has been more cranky than normal.’ She took a big slurp of coffee.

‘Cranky? That’s polite, she’s been a right pain in the ass. It’s not helping that Olive keeps going on about the bloody hair slide.’ Kyla rummaged under the work top and brought out a biscuit tin and yanked off the tight lid. ‘Custard cream or soggy gingernut?’

Monica still had the image of Olive’s saliva coated false teeth in her mind. ‘I’ll pass. Is there a hair slide? I haven’t seen one.’

‘Probably not.’ Kyla shoved a whole custard cream in her mouth. ‘Remember deaf Gordon? Swore blind he had a dog in here.’

Monica laughed. ‘Yes, the imaginary Goldie. Please shoot me if I get like that when I’m old.’

Kyla raised her eyebrows. ‘When?’

‘Cheeky mare, I’m forty-five not eighty.’

‘That’s old to me.’ Kyla reached for another biscuit.

The sounds of a busy canteen mingling with Chris Rea’s Driving Home for Christmas. Monica shook her head. ‘Look, just because you’re young enough to be my…’

‘Daughter.’

‘No, younger sister, doesn’t mean I’m old.’

‘Yeah, whatever,’ said Kyla, brushing some crumbs from the front of her tunic. ‘Have you made it up with your sister yet?’

‘No. Not going to.’ Monica drank some more coffee.

‘But it’s going to be Christmas soon.’

‘And? What’s that got to do with anything?’

‘You don’t wanna be alone on Christmas Day.’

‘I won’t be. I have Jinx.’ Monica faked a cheesy grin, she didn’t want to talk about her sister, it was still too raw.

‘He’s a dog.’

‘Exactly. Loving, loyal and doesn’t betray me. Plus I’ve put my name down for the Christmas Day shift here. I see you’ve got it off, what are your plans?’

‘Staying in bed with our Liam and eating chocolate all day. Probably pop over to his mam’s house for tea when we’ve finished shagging.’

‘Kyla!’

‘What? You could be having that too. I mean, not with our Liam obvs, but if you got yourself another man, a nice one, not like Geoff, he was a prick.’

Monica pictured Kyla’s Liam in bed. It wasn’t a sexy image. The first time she met him he was waiting outside the home for Kyla. He was swigging from a can of supermarket own cider and had a collection of dubious stains decorating his t-shirt. Monica imagined his underwear would be equally, if not more, dubious. ‘I’m happy waking up with Jinx and then spending the day here.’

‘See, senile already.’

‘Thief!’ Olive’s shout echoed through to the tea room.

‘Bloody hell.’ Kyla rammed another custard cream in her mouth and shoved the lid back on the tin.

Brian the odd job man appeared at the doorway holding a sprig of mistletoe. ‘Alright ladies?’ A waft of Brut aftershave entered the room.

Monica put down her empty mug and turned to Kyla. ‘Finish your cuppa, I’ll sort her out.’ She smiled as she watched Kyla take the lid back off the biscuit tin and squeezed herself awkwardly past Brian’s teddy-bear tummy. ‘Sorry Brian, duty calls.’

On entering the dining room her smile slipped away when she saw that Olive had thrown her lunch on the floor and was continuing to shout insults across to Beryl. Joanne the kitchen assistant was swooping in with cloths and a mop. Monica, being careful not to slide in the lumpy parsley sauce, escorted the still shouting Olive to her room.

Olive flopped down into the wipe clean faux leather chair. The bedroom was generic beige with white plastic blinds at the window. A painting of a lavender field was above her bed. ‘She’s stolen my hair slide. I don’t want her here.’

‘Well she has to stay here, her old care home has closed down.’

‘I don’t want her here.’

Monica sat on the end of the bed facing Olive. ‘Now come on, don’t get yourself all upset. I’m sure if you got to know her you could be good friends.’

‘I don’t want to be friends with someone like her.’ Olive turned her head and stared out of the window, grinding her gums together in a gurning grimace.

‘OK.’ Monica hoped that Olive’s teeth hadn’t been swept into the bin. Retrieving gunky dentures from the rubbish wasn’t a thought she relished. ‘Well, have a little rest here and try to calm yourself down. Getting upset like this isn’t good for your blood pressure is it?’

Olive ignored her and carried on staring.

Monica stood up and smoothed the bed down where she’d been sitting. ‘Anything you need before I go?’ When no answer came she turned to leave the room.

‘Forgiveness.’

Monica stopped at the door, turning back towards Olive. ‘Forgiveness?’ She waited for an answer but Olive just continued to stare out of the window. ‘Don’t worry about the broken plate lovely.’

When a reply still didn’t come Monica left to go and find the false teeth.

Olive closed her eyes for the last time..

Monica showed the funeral directors out and walked back to Olive’s room. She always felt sad having to bag up belongings of patients with no next of kin. Throwing treasured items into the trash always seemed so tragic to her. Lost in her thoughts she was startled when entering the room. There in Olive’s chair sat Beryl. For a split second Monica thought it was Olive.

She placed her hand on her chest and exhaled deeply. ‘What are you doing in here Beryl?’

Beryl was staring at the empty bed. ‘Forgiveness.’

Monica had started to walk towards Beryl but stopped dead. Déjà vu prickled through her body. ‘Sorry?’

‘Forgiveness. Looking for forgiveness.’ Beryl was still, her eyes unmoving from the sterile bed.

Monica glanced down to Beryl’s lap as a sparkle caught her eye. A hair slide of marquisate and silver was being slowly twiddled between Beryl’s fingers. ‘Is that Olive’s hair slide?’

Beryl’s looked down at the hair slide and nodded.

‘You took it?’

Beryl nodded again. ‘Yes.’ Tears leaked down the wrinkles on her face. ‘I’m sorry.’

Monica sat on the corner of the bed, just as she’d done with Olive on that last time with her. ‘It’s ok.’

Beryl smudged her tears away with her hand. ‘I wanted to take something of hers.’

‘Why?’

‘She stole from me. I wanted her to know how that felt.’ Beryl stared at the hair slide.

‘I’m confused now. What did she steal from you?’

‘Bill.’

Monica hoped this wasn’t another imaginary dog situation. ‘Bill?’

‘Bill was my fiancé.’

Monica would have preferred an imaginary dog, they were more easier to deal with than betrayal. She tried not to think of her ex-fiancé Geoff but his face launched into her mind evoking emotions she didn’t want to deal with. She focussed her attention back to Beryl. ‘When was this?’

‘When I was nineteen.’

Monica did the maths. ‘You knew Olive sixty-seven years ago?’

Beryl nodded again and let out a sigh. ‘She stole him from me and married him. He was my fiancé and she stole him.’ She turned her head and looked out the window. The rain was running down the glass in crinkled lines. In her reflection the rain appeared like tears navigating her wrinkles.

‘Were you friends then?’ Monica leaned forward slightly when Beryl didn’t answer. ‘All those years ago?’

Beryl carried on watching the rain. ‘No. We were sisters.’

Monica sat upright, she was confused, or thought maybe Beryl was confused.  ‘Olive said she had no next of kin. I knew she was a widow but I didn’t know she had you.’

‘She didn’t.’ Beryl turned to face Monica. ‘I stopped talking to her when she married my Bill, when she stole the life I should’ve had.’

Monica frowned. ‘But she was a young widow. She told me her husband had died six months after they were married.’

Beryl stopped twirling the hair slide between her fingers and her eyes widened.

‘You didn’t know that?’

‘No.’ Beryl swallowed hard. She closed her eyes and exhaled deeply.

Monica’s pulse was increasing and her mouth was dry. She was wishing she hadn’t delivered that news and was concerned that Beryl was going to go the same way and in the same chair as her sister. She was relieved when Beryl opened her eyes.

‘I left the country after their wedding.’ Beryl stared at the now unmoving hair slide in her hands. ‘I moved to France. I couldn’t bear to watch them live a happy life. They were both dead to me from that day.’ She started to cry silently and closed her eyes.

Monica leaned forward and placed her hand on Beryl’s. Monica thought of her own sister and their falling out. She made a promise to herself to drive over to Amanda’s straight after work, before she could have time to talk herself out of it. She didn’t want to be bitter and resentful. She needed to forgive, to move on. She didn’t want to become Beryl.

Beryl let go of the hair slide and held Monica’s hand. The distant sound of carols echoed gently through the corridors of the care home. Beryl squeezed Monica’s hand and Monica squeezed back. They sat in silence and the hair slide slid to the floor.

I Remember You

Published November 11, 2020 by Naomi Rettig

A lonely poppy in a sea of blooms

You lie in silence in a meadow of tombs.

Leaving behind all your world you held dear

You trudged on to battles with courage and fear.

My freedom now is from your sacrifice.

I pray you’re at peace in a found paradise.

I can never repay all you are due,

I never met you, yet I remember you.

Reality and Illusion.

Published November 9, 2020 by Naomi Rettig

My mind is open, a vast empty vessel.

It’s a wonderful place where thoughts can nestle.

Illusion and facts cohabit side by side

Jostling for space to be my guide.

Delusion can lie to me, sell me it’s truth.

I trust what it spins me, I don’t play the sleuth.

Often it tells me I’m unloved and alone,

No one would mourn at my gravestone.

Illusions can dance in my mind all the time.

They can plunge me to depths or aid me to climb.

They can help me craft a calm tranquil space

To deal with life with kindness and grace.

I’d hide from reality, scared and afraid,

But I looked for my soul, I loved, and I prayed.

Now sorting my thoughts into fiction and fact

I’ve found the peace I always lacked.

Fifty Things To Do Before I’m Fifty. (453 days to go.)

Published November 4, 2020 by Naomi Rettig

  1. Master a yoga pose. This may take the full 453 days. I’m not very balanced or graceful.
  2. Dye my hair blue. I’ve had pink, purple, red and black, but have always fancied having blue hair.
  3. Hold a séance with a Ouija board. I made my own board when I was fourteen, out of cardboard with felt tip pens. I’d like to attempt to communicate with the dead in a more professional manner.
  4. Visit the Tower of London. I’ve been to London heaps of times but have never been into the tower, only walked around the outside of it.
  5. Watch The Lion King. I have never watched this. I feel that I should as I use the phrase Hakuna Matata quite a lot.
  6. Read ‘Salem’s Lot’ by Stephen King. The TV adaptation with David Soul scared me silly when I was a small child so I’d like to read the book.
  7. Try Jackfruit. Very trendy among vegan cuisine but I’ve never tried it as I don’t think I’d like it. No basis for that thought whatsoever.
  8. Crochet something recognisable. I’ve often fantasized about crocheting a whole set of zoo animals but I think this is beyond my capabilities so I would settle for crocheting something simple. Like a scarf. Or a blanket for Neville.
  9. Invent and draw a cartoon character. Pretty self-explanatory.
  10. Eat a fresh fig. I’ve never tried a fresh fig before.
  11. Swim in the sea. I haven’t swum in the sea since I saw ‘Jaws’ as a child and have an irrational fear of being eaten by a shark. I will maybe leave this until the end of the list in case it’s not so irrational after all.
  12. Paint a self-portrait. I can’t draw or paint people at all but I’d like to have a go at a self-portrait. It may be abstract.
  13. Hug 50 trees. Not necessarily in one hit, over the duration of my time left, taking a selfie with each one to document the numbers.
  14. Spend the night in a haunted building. House, pub, hotel, known to be haunted or looks like it could be!
  15. Try okra. I’ve never tried okra, always wanted to.
  16. Meet up with old friends. Time passes so quickly and I’d like to catch up with friends I haven’t seen for ages.
  17. Meet up with new friends. I have made lots of friends in the virtual world throughout the pandemic, and before, and it would be fabulous to meet up to say hello in physical life too.
  18. Visit Guernsey. Jersey is my favourite Channel Island, but I need to visit Guernsey to either confirm this or move my allegiance!
  19. Attend my graduation ceremony. My graduation for my Batchelors degree was cancelled due to covid19. I will hopefully be completing my Masters degree this year and pandemic permitting I can have my graduation ceremony for that.
  20. Learn to tie different knots. I can tie a knot, but I can’t tie fancy knots. I don’t even know what a reef knot is.
  21. Visit Cardiff castle. Lived in Barry, worked in Cardiff but I’ve never been inside Cardiff castle!
  22. Visit New York City. I was due to be there on holiday now, I would like to visit before my 50th  if and when the pandemic allows.
  23. Try samphire. It looks like salty grass. I’d like to confirm this in taste.
  24. Write 50 thank you letters to people who have had a positive effect on my life. I don’t tell people enough how much my life is a better place for having them in it. I say it in my head but as most people aren’t telepathic I’ll let them know in letter form.
  25. Watch a sunrise while sat on a beach. I’ve watched a sunrise before but from a hotel balcony, then got straight back into bed, and on buses when having to travel early. I’d like to watch one sat on a beach.
  26. Walk up to the top of the Kymin Hill. I haven’t done this for about fifteen years.
  27. Learn 50 foreign phrases. Not the same phrase, different phrases in different languages.
  28. Paddle in a river. I haven’t paddled in a river since I was little.
  29. Visit Tintern Abbey. It’s only down the road from me but I’ve never walked around it, only seen it from the outside.
  30. Trampoline for a whole hour. Self-explanatory. I did my usual 20 minutes this morning, today was not the day.
  31. Make a sculpture out of baubles. Glue, glitter and gaudy baubles, what’s not to love.
  32. Wear something I wouldn’t normally wear. Either a colour or a style that’s not my usual ‘me’.
  33. Send a message in a bottle. I always wanted to send a message in a bottle but being environmentally aware now I don’t want to throw a bottle into the ocean. Instead I’ll write a message in a mini time capsule and hide it in a tree or in the ground when on my travels.
  34. Try a Sharon fruit. Never tried one, always jealous there isn’t a Naomi fruit. Maybe if I try the Sharon fruit and it’s not nice that jealously will ebb away.
  35. Watch Lord of the Rings. I have never watched LOTR or read the book. I know there are elves and creatures with big feet but feel I should know more.
  36. Adopt an animal at Jersey Zoo. I always visit the zoo when I’m in Jersey as they do great conservation work so I feel I should give more back to them. And I want to be able to say I’m mum to a fruit bat.
  37. Plant something, grow it, and eat it. I used to plant apple pips when I was little, but when apples didn’t appear after a week I’d get bored and lose interest. I’d like to plant some vegetable, tend it, watch it grow, then eat it. Although that sounds quite mercenary.
  38. Try a persimmon. Never tried one.
  39. Keep writing in my gratitude journal. Writing my gratitude’s for the day helps me appreciate how blessed I am. I want to keep this habit up to keep my serenity.
  40. Buy myself flowers once a month. Because I’m worth it. I want to learn to love myself more and be kinder to myself.
  41. Visit Puzzle Wood. Haven’t been since I was a child.
  42. Write a letter to my 60 year old self. A letter to be opened in 10 years-time by me (if still alive) detailing all my hopes and dreams for the next decade.
  43. Try a pomelo. Again, never tried one.
  44. Document my trampoline jogging styles. With photographs, not video. The world isn’t ready for that in depth documentation. (I’m still searching for the best supportive bra.)
  45. Watch the new Star Wars films. I have only watched the original films, but after visiting Walt Disney World and wandering around Star Wars land I feel I should give the new films a try.
  46. Feed alpacas. There is an alpaca farm not too far away from me that do meet and greets with the alpacas, when not in a pandemic. I think that would be cool.
  47. Nurture and not kill a bonsai tree or mini orange tree. My mum is the green fingered person in the family but I’d like to see if I can keep green things alive. I like the daintiness of a bonsai and I love seeing miniature oranges on house plants. I might go crazy and do both.
  48. Update my funeral plans. I’ve had my funeral plan written out since I was fourteen. I’ve updated it a couple of times but it needs to be brought up to date as I have chosen a new funeral song and I don’t want to be wheeled in to the wrong song.
  49. Write a book of my dreams. I jot down my random dreams on Facebook and in notebooks but want to compile them all together. Last night I was being kept bound in a cage by Pepe Le Pew and was force fed whole avocados. It wasn’t pleasant.
  50. Cook a globe artichoke. My autocorrect wanted to change that to architect. I don’t want to cook an architect. I love the look of a globe artichoke but have never eaten one or cooked with one.