Word on a Whim

The Lighthouse Tarot – now available for purchase

My small print run of The Lighthouse Tarot has just been delivered:

I am selling them for £22 per deck plus postage by Royal Mail:

Price including postage for a single pack/deck:

UK standard 1st class: £22.00 + £3.85 = £25.85

UK standard 2nd class:  £22.00 + £3.20 = £25.20

Europe no tracking:  £22.00 +  £5.95 = £27.95

Europe tracked:  £22.00 +  £10.25 = £32.25

USA no tracking:  £22.00 + £10.95 = £32.95

USA tracked:  £22.00 + £13.45 =  £35.45

Please use the Contact Form to order a deck or to enquire about postage prices outside the UK or for multiple decks.

 The cards come in a cardboard tuck box.  There is no booklet but a list of definitions can be found by clicking on “Tarot Card Meanings” tab or menu option.

They are standard tarot-size 7cm x 12cm, printed in the UK on 320gsm card with smooth finish – very easy to shuffle and fan.

Thank you 🙂

The Lighthouse Tarot – more photos

I have been asked for more photos of the cards, so here are a few of the sample pack that I am keeping and using:

This is the back of the cards with a ‘choppy sea’ effect:

Enjoy 🙂

Tarot Card key meanings

Since my first Tarot reading as a teenager, I’ve had a fascination for the mysticism and artwork of the Tarot.  I am not an intuitive Tarot reader – I simply interpret the meanings from traditional definitions, yet I am convinced that each deck of cards has its own energy.  For example, if I draw the cards for myself but don’t like what I see, I might take a frivolous ‘best of three’ attitude, shuffle them thoroughly then try again and it’s uncanny how many of the same cards reappear – sometimes even in the same position in the spread.

Normally I do a Celtic Cross spread – just for an overview of past, present and future in general and the cards tend to reflect my mood.  If I’m feeling low I draw cards associated with separation and misery – but this has happened often enough for me to realise nothing bad is about to happen and the spread is simply a manifestation of my own fears and negativity.  I guess it must be similar for dowsers trying to remain objective to get a yes/no answer from the pendulum when the outcome is important to them. 

Occasionally I ask a specific question of the cards and the answer can be surprising. For example, last weekend my son had arranged to go and look at a car advertised for sale.  I was particularly hoping it would go well and he would buy the car because I worry about him riding a motorbike on country lanes in the dark when you can’t see debris on the road until the last minute – and for all the other reasons why mothers worry about sons on motorbikes.  This car was more or less what he’s looking for and close to where he lives.  Whilst waiting to hear how he got on, I drew the cards asking specifically how this viewing would go and got the ten of swords at the root of it and swords generally everywhere except for a couple of knights or kings.  None of it made sense.  I put the cards away and decided to do something useful with my time – then when I messaged to see how he got on my son said the guy had cancelled because he’d had a busy day and wanted to watch the footy so please could they rearrange for another day.  So the reading did make sense after all.  Whilst the cards appeared overly dramatic for something as minor as a car viewing, they were responding to my question. Whether I’m asking a trivial question or looking for guidance on a life-changing matter, it’s the same seventy-eight cards I’m playing with!

In my list of key meanings I have included the reverse meanings (i.e. if the card is drawn upside down).  Personally, I don’t use reverse meanings and keep my cards all the same way up – there are enough interpretations already for my mind to handle, without the added complexity of reverse meanings.  These key meanings are the ones that have grown on me over many years of shuffling and spreading.  I have kept them as brief as possible for ease of reference as there are many books available that go into the meaning of each card in great depth.

If you click on the link “Tarot card meanings” on the site menu (also up above “Word on a Whim” if you’re on a computer) you will see my list of key interpretations.

Apologies for presenting the list in this weird way but I only have so many spare hours to spend trying to coax WordPress into loading a PDF document from a simple link within this post.  I get the impression they want me to upgrade to the paid version that allows use of  “plug-in” tools that appear to be available in this version until I click and get invited to upgrade.  I’m not convinced upgrading would be the answer.  Even with a fancy button to click I suspect if browsers are set to download PDFs there will be a conflict if WordPress tries to open them first.  Sorry to digress, just venting my frustration 😉

The Lighthouse Tarot

My latest project, “The Lighthouse Tarot” is ready to go to print.

I had intended to print the cards myself but when I used a whole ink cartridge to print a single deck, I decided it would be cost effective to have a small print-run done next year.  

Here is taster of the seventy-eight card deck – followed by some blurb.

My love of lighthouses started at an early age in Withernsea on the North East Coast of England.  My auntie had a holiday chalet and we went every year.  I remember that first night I noticed the huge spotlight sweeping rhythmically across the beach and reaching out to sea … eerie and compelling.

“It’s a lighthouse,” they told me.  “It protects the ships and keeps them safe by warning them of rocks and other hazards along the way.”

I was drawn to seek the source of this benevolent beam and it was some surprise to find it was on an ordinary residential street with houses either side – in reality far removed from the romantic images evoked when it came to life each night – although I still gazed in awe at its solid, reassuring mass.  I must have been about twelve when it was decommissioned and the seascape at night lost an important part of its magic.

As my interest in art developed, seascapes with lighthouses became a favourite theme – not just the reaching out across the sky and reflecting on the water but also the strength of these imposing structures that could withstand a battering from nature at its most unforgiving. When I decided to design tarot cards, “The Lighthouse Tarot” was a natural choice.  Just as the lighthouse provides a guiding light to help sailors avoid the rocks along the way, these cards aim to unlock the reader’s insight into past present and future events in the questioner’s life and provide support in this life’s journey.  Always bear in mind that we have free will, so if the reader suggests that your destiny is not what you were hoping for, you can make choices that will alter the course of events.  The ship’s wheel is in your hands and you are empowered to navigate your own path.

What is it and where is it coming from?

Not a rattle in a car but a smell in the kitchen. Not a particularly strong smell but noticeable when coming downstairs in the morning. Not a pleasant smell either – reminiscent of the time my partner decided it would be a good thing to ferment cabbage and sprouts in jars. Thankfully, he soon realised it wasn’t!

You know how a smell can literally get up your nose – as in get on your nerves? I am not tidy and do very little dusting but I like to think the house is hygienically clean. Whilst it might appear untidy it is orderly. If there are clothes in the corner of the bedroom it’s because they have been worn at least once and are therefore contaminated’ so they can’t go back in the cupboard but are not yet ready for washing.

My nose was in every crevice to detect the origin but it was a general smell rather than focused. I poked a long stick around the edges of the gas cooker in case anything had dropped down and was rotting then squirted lots of bleach down the kitchen sink and ran bleach through the rinse cycle of the washing machine.

I came downstairs the next morning confident that would have cured it – but no!

There was only one place I hadn’t checked … behind the fridge:

Being under-counter, nothing could’ve dropped down the sides but what if some poor creature had somehow got behind it and died? If you’ve read this far you might be getting the nature of this smell!

“Sordid details following” thanks Bowie 😉

I pulled out the fridge and this was the drip tray at the back:

I never knew they needed emptying! Maybe I’m gross and everyone else regularly checks and cleans theirs?

Oh well, problem solved 🙂

Where there’s a smell there’s a mission!

How to convert an image to 300 DPI for printing (using Microsoft Paint)

Being furloughed and locked-down owing to the pandemic has given me the time to get stuck into a project I have been toying with for a few months.  Yes, I do feel guilty that I am slightly enjoying this very difficult situation yet I am trying to make the best of it because this is where we are now.  I don’t want to jinx my project by saying too much about it here – but if it does come to fruition it will require me to convert images to 300 dpi to allow better quality printing.  Before getting on with this tutorial, I will also add that the printed images I would be required to convert to 300 dpi are relatively small, and when I experimented on my cheap little home printer by printing a 72 dpi image alongside the same image converted to 300 dpi I could not see any difference, so if I end up self-publishing my images I will leave them at 72 dpi to save ink.  It’s just that some publishing firms stipulate a 300 dpi image.

Here goes …

First you need a 300 dpi image of any shape or size.  Feel free to download this one:

I am going to convert a Poppy picture to 300 dpi by pasting it over the Riverside photo but first I need to change the dimensions of the Riverside photo to be the same as the Poppy.

To get the dimensions of the Poppy image right-click and select Properties/Details:

Make a note of the dimensions (360 pixels x 640 pixels).  This is the size I must make the 300 dpi Riverside image in order to use it as a template.

To resize the Riverside image, open it in Paint, select Resize, check the Pixels radio button and over-type the dimensions with those of the Poppy.  Be sure to uncheck the box ‘Maintain aspect ratio’, which is checked by default.

Save the picture with its new dimensions.  It should be distorted and the same size as the Poppy.

The last step is to copy the Poppy image and paste it over the Riverside image.

Open both pictures in Paint, in two separate windows:

Copy the Poppy – Image, Select, Select all

Click the Clipboard tab – select Copy

Move over to the Riverside photo.  Click the Clipboard tab – select Paste

After paste …

The Riverside image becomes the Poppy at 300 dpi.  Save it now and remember to rename it.

Of course if you have several images to convert to 300 dpi that are all the same size there is no need to repeat the re-sizing process.  Just keep a copy of the first converted image and use it as a template to paste over.

Hope this helps!

Trying not to waste anything and lamenting the decline of a small market town

I hate wasting food but have a compulsion to stock the house with whatever visiting family and friends might fancy.  I enjoy spontaneity but like to be prepared so Christmas was a time of checking dates on stuff in the fridge, agonising over whether to freeze meat products, which would make them unavailable, or risk getting too close to their use by date – and being vegetarian means I can’t just eat it myself to get rid of it.  At least the wildlife benefited from posh quiche and pork pie – I took it out running with me and flung it down a hillside where there are no buildings around.  Sadly, I no longer feed the birds in the garden for fear of attracting rats.

Being well-stocked and a fussy eater (vegetarian and not a dairy fan), I take my own lunch to work and have never liked the idea of buying a ready-made sandwich, nor would I buy a small plastic pot of washed, chopped up fruit (unless it was reduced from £1.74 to 14p).  Of course, very many people do buy ready-made sandwiches every day, so it must be a normal thing to do.  Whilst I do the main weekly shop at a supermarket, I do like to support small businesses when out and about at the weekend.

At least once a year I visit the lovely little market town that was the home of my ancestors.  It’s a nice day out and an opportunity to connect with souls and say a spiritual ‘hello’ to grandparents and great grandparents, tidy the graves and leave some flowers.  Last summer, since my partner was coming along, I suggested we had a pub lunch rather than taking a picnic.  He was more in favour of a snack and a mug of tea in a café, which suited me fine.

We weeded the graves whilst a very tame robin perched on one of the grave stones watching, and I wondered if this was an indication of a relative making contact or simply a bird waiting for us to dig up some worms.

It was sad to see the churchyard gate had come off its hinges and the bench in the peaceful little clearing had collapsed.  It was a warm sunny day but the little town felt run-down and subdued.  Most of the shops were closed, which I thought seemed odd on a week day but I suppose if they don’t get the customers and the owner is not the shop keeper it might cost more per hour to keep the shop open than any profit made on sales.

The cafes were open but the one I had in mind at the top of the high street was very noisy, not over-crowded but there was a group of women projecting their voices as if on stage, their conversation punctuated with high-pitched peels of laughter.  We moved on.  The next one had no free tables and looked too cramped to safely wield cutlery – but the next looked ideal.  The shop window revealed ovens and large display cabinets and just a few tables that were all vacant …

We went in but the staff didn’t look too impressed at having customers, although I’m sure we were smiling politely when we entered!

“We’re not a cafe but you can buy your food here and eat it on a table.”

“Thank you”, I said, unsure how that made it not a cafe.

“You have to get your tea or coffee from the machine over there … but she’s cleaning it at the moment.”

“Oh, that’s fine.”  We both obligingly chose a can of pop from the fridge and I tried not to notice the price and not to think about the cans we had at home that would soon be out of date.

Then came the difficult bit.  Julz glanced at the sandwiches and cold pasties and quickly settled for a flapjack.  I had in mind something savoury, like a jacket potato, but couldn’t see any and the the pasties were all meat and the only non-meat sandwich had egg in it, which I can’t stand (already told you I’m fussy).  I was taking too long to choose and it was getting awkward with them watching me.  I was getting anxious and starting not to fancy anything at all when I spotted a slice of cheese and tomato pizza.

She followed my gaze.  “That’s pizza but it’s not cooked and we switched off the ovens at one o’clock because we close at three.” (It was ten past one).

“Not to worry, I’ll go for a cake.”

She thrust a tray of cream cakes at me.  “Fresh cream, these are.”  Yes, of course they would want to get rid of them …

“Urm, sorry, I’m more of a fruit cake fan.”  Then I saw the answer – a large fruit cake wrapped in cellophane – but it was the sort you would cut a slice off rather than eat the whole thing in one go.  I put it on the counter with relief.  I was feeling a bit flushed and peculiar by now, but didn’t like the idea of just breaking a lump off the cake.  “I don’t suppose you’ve got a little plastic knife I could have to cut a piece off?”

Both ladies started to hunt for one.

“… or may you could just cut a slice off with one of your knives?”  but they were on a mission to find a plastic knife and bless them they found one.  Phew!  We perched on a wall down the road rather than using their tables.

Looking back, it’s a shame to think that if it weren’t for the family ties I might not be drawn back there again, and whilst I’m tempted to take my own stuff along next time, I will give one of the other pubs or cafes a try … but I’ll take that little plastic knife along, just in case 😉

 

“Perhaps it’s because he is on the lead”

Alfie has come to stay for a few days and I’ve been looking forward to going for some good runs with him.

Here he is, enjoying the view from the top of my favourite hill:

The photo would look better without the lead but there was a family with young children playing nearby and I didn’t think they would welcome him joining their game.

As soon as there was no-one in sight, I let him off the lead and he had a good run and a sniff around.  He’s the black dot in the distance:

Although I hadn’t seen any sheep on the way up, we went back down the hill with the lead on and I was glad I had taken the precaution when a single sheep was suddenly in view just over a blind summit.  Alf pranced around a bit and it strutted away.  I am always aware that even if the field appears empty of sheep and there is no fresh muck around, there is often one individualist sheep that did not follow the flock when it was moved.

At the foot of the hill, Alfie was mugged by a farm dog that had come pelting along behind one of the quad bikes they use around the land.  The dog didn’t bite him but charged aggressively a few times doing that bared teeth head butting action to let us know the damage he could do if he really meant it! I guess he thought he was protecting his territory and didn’t have a proper understanding of public rights of way.  Meanwhile the lad on the quad bike was bellowing his name, but he took no notice.  No physical harm done, but me and Alf were both upset by the incident and I hope he will forget about it and not be nervous of other dogs.  I won’t be taking him up there again.  Maybe that’s the result the landowners are aiming for?

That was yesterday.

This morning we did the River Walk, knowing it would be relatively quiet today compared with the next three days.

I saw someone coming through a gateway and stepped off the path and towards the riverbank to let them pass, and a big dog came running at us, looking at Alfie in a nasty way with his hackles up.  The dog was with a couple of women.  One kept out of the way whilst the other started to call his name, but in an airy-fairy way – not prepared to sound like a fish-wife, so it was never going to work!  I managed to grab his collar and held him at arm’s length whilst Alfie did pirouettes on the end of his lead, keeping as much distance as possible.  Alfie has never shown aggression towards other dogs, he is of the slightly anxious tail wagging between the legs sort of temperament.

When this dog’s mistress finally caught up, which was probably less than a minute but seems longer when you are hanging on to the collar of a dog you have only just met, I didn’t want to make her feel awful about this incident, so I said, “He does seem to get picked on for some reason.”  (I do wonder if the ‘reason’ could be that Alfie has balls whereas so many dogs seem to be routinely castrated these days?)

There was no apology.  She said, in a loud, posh, self-righteous and judgemental tone;

“Perhaps it’s because he is on the lead!”  

Oh, so it’s because Alfie is on the lead that we’ve just been scared shitless again, and it’s therefore my fault that we just experienced this kerfuffle?!

I could have given the lady a list of reasons why he was on the lead …  no, I couldn’t actually, because I never think of the right thing to say at the time – and I wanted to put distance between us.

So, I will bore you with the reasons now, sorry.  I do realise that anyone reading this probably doesn’t give a monkey’s about why Alfie was on the lead, but this is what I would like to have told her, and I’d like to get it off my chest, so thanks for listening 😉

Alfie was on the lead because:

  • The riverside path is narrow and I didn’t want him to touch the electric fence.  If you have ever touched it without rubber-soled shoes, to understand how it feels to an animal, you would know that it gives you quite a zap – and even the sections where there is no fence have sheep grazing at the moment … we walked through a flock of rare-breed-looking dark brown ones.
  • Alfie is a friendly dog who is likely to jump up and muddy your clothes if you speak to him nicely 🙂
  • Although Alfie is happy to Come, Sit and Stay in the back garden, he doesn’t take much notice of me if we are out in open space and something distracts him – just as your dog ignored you when you told him to leave mine alone!
  • There are one or two fishermen along the riverbank today. Off-lead Alfie might possibly lick their faces then cock his leg up on their lunch box :-/
  • If he hadn’t been on the lead when your dog rushed at him like that, he might have tried to escape by jumping in the river and swimming to the other side – and then I’d have had to do the same!

No physical harm done these two days, but it worries me that experiences like these might make him nervous of other dogs.  He is still a young boy so I hope he will forget.

It’s a jungle out there, Alfie 😦   xxx

But how do you get to it …?

I know I’m not the only one who gets frustrated with packaging design – not being able to get at the contents of a packet without using some sort of tool … when cooking a meal, for example, and everything is already simmering but it takes five minutes to add that final ingredient because it’s a new packet and you can’t get into it.

My least favourite packaging is the rigid, see-through plastic that is moulded around the item, requiring strong scissors to cut around it whilst creating nasty sharp edges.  I once queued behind a customer in a hardware shop, who wanted to return a yale lock because it didn’t fit his door.  When the assistant refused on the basis that goods could only be returned with packaging in tact, he pointed out that it was impossible to tell if it was the correct lock without taking it from the packaging, which was impossible to do without destroying it.

Packaging is designed with good intentions but do the drawbacks sometimes outweigh the benefits?

The Push and Turn top is sometimes used to make medication ‘child proof’, but if the medication is used regularly it can end up on a mantelpiece with the lid resting loosely on top, defeating the object.  It is also used on some bleaches and cleaning fluids but sometimes the bottle is so flimsy that it starts to cave in when the top is pushed down.

Some containers simply don’t want to part with their contents, giving you the option of either throwing half of it away or else cutting the container to get to what’s left inside when it will no longer dispense.  Being a bit fussy about smells, I tend to go for unscented moisturiser, and decided to give this a try:

No complaints about the product, but the bottle is so strong and rigid that after a couple of uses, squeezing with one hand to squirt some into the other hand is fruitless.  The container stays in the squeezed position and has to be manipulated from the sides to get it back into a shape that is ready for action again.  Storing it in an upside down position helps but owing to the rounded top it has to be barricaded into a corner, propped up by other items, and comes crashing down if anything is moved.  So what is the purpose of this design?  The only advantage I can think of is that it has no scratchy edges that could hurt if the baby got hold of it.

Where I work, we have had new toilet roll dispensers fitted. (There are plenty of other areas that need improving but for some reason this took priority). Without being too poetic, it looks like a pair of breasts with milk flowing from them.  Here it is on a good day, with both nipples producing:

The obvious benefit of this design is that the paper is kept clean and dry and untouched by anyone except the person about to use it.  The down side is that the paper comes out like a piece of string and has to be straightened out before use.  Worse still, it has to be pulled very gently as it tends to break off, usually with the perforations just within the nipple, so you end up with this:

The photo above illustrates a particularly dodgy situation in which it’s advisable to milk as much paper as you might possibly need before starting anything, otherwise that one sheet on display might be all you’re gonna get!  This of course leads to waste, as it’s difficult to gauge precisely how much paper will be required, and better to err on the safe side.

On a bad day, you can see the paper but there’s no way of getting to it – but at least you know where you stand (or sit) with this:

Moving on,  I think the key holder must have been on holiday on this occasion (you need a key to open the dispenser) because what happened next brightened up an otherwise mundane day:

Yes, I know, ‘little things please little minds’ … but I don’t think anyone had any issues with the previous loo roll holders (not that I went around asking).  If there was some on the roll, you knew it was there for real and not just to tantilise, even if sometimes it meant inserting your hand up inside it to coax and jiggle it down.  I’ve no idea why it had to be reinvented … maybe sometimes change is just for the sake of change.

 

Watch With Mother

The place where I work has fixed holidays, which is annoying because they are fixed during school holidays and around bank holidays, and I don’t like crowded places or other people’s kids.  Of course I am grateful that I have a job with paid holidays, but I’ve been there long enough now for such niggles to intrude.  Isn’t that just human nature?  This past week of fixed holiday was good though, as it meant I could spend some time with my Mum around her eightieth birthday.

Mum is very easy to be with.  Stick her in front of a telly with a glass of wine and she’s happy, which is particularly useful now that she can’t get around too well.  I rarely watch TV – the internet is my telly – but there’s something comforting about watching it at my parents’ home when I visit.  Some of the adverts though!  My son had come up for his Nan’s birthday and we’re all sat waiting for it to be late enough to go off to the Eightieth Do and the conversation fizzles out so Dad puts the telly on.  Of course it was adverts but the first that came on was, “Do you suffer from vaginal dryness and itching?”  Well, Dad averted his eyes, frowning slightly as if distracted by a sudden thought.  (It reminded me of when I lived there more than thirty years ago and he would pick up the newspaper and study it if any kind of sex scene came on).  My son played it comical, affecting a genteel expression whilst examining the ornaments on the mantelpiece, as if suddenly noticing how very interesting they were, which set Mum off laughing, infectiously!

Why do such products need to be advertised on television? And why are they mostly to do with women’s things?  “Suffering from nob-rot?  Try Penisil!”    Hmm.  Sorry 🙂

Anyway …  Mum came to stay with us for a few days, so I wiped the dust off the TV screen and looked dubiously at the remote control, but she knew instinctively how to change channels. (Didn’t they used to be called ‘stations’?)  It turned out this was an important time in Coronation Street.  Corrie has been going for as long as I can remember.  Mum used to wash me in front of it with a wet flannel poised between me and the washing up bowl, and if there was any action it had sometimes gone a bit cold by the time it made contact with skin.  I have always found the theme tune depressing – back then because it was time for bed – but now because it sounds like an unhappy cat.  Watching it again this week, I was surprised to recognise some of the characters who are still in it but was also amazed how dark and disturbing it has become.  Okay, I’d had some gin, but I recall one guy self-harming whilst another was being sucked down in quicksand.  In Corrie?  FFS!

Then Mum threw into the mix, “She was married to Sean Bean – she was inbred.”  Trying to make sense of this, I said, “You mean they were first cousins or something?”  Mum said, “No, she was in’Bread’!”  Well, that tickled me!

I live some distance away from my parents and have done for many years – but it’s a worry now they are old.  (Mum has said, in the past, “Don’t be worrying about that – we might just drop dead!”)  The big ’80’ is a wake up call though, and it’s hard to imagine a time when they won’t be just a phone call or text away.  I know they can’t go on forever … but I very much fear that Corrie probably will!

Post Navigation

%d bloggers like this: