It started with a fish.

It started with a fish.

I won a fish on the ‘hook a duck’ at the fun fair, I was 5 years old. My brother won one too, Mom put them both in one of those 1970’s over sized brandy glasses. We called our fishes, Tom and Jerry. For my 10th Birthday the present I wanted the most, I got.

My first Aquarium.

I kept cold water fishes and they gave me a place to stare, I found the movement of the water through the filtering system extremely calming, and I knew each of my fishes and how they responded. My aquarium was in my bedroom it acted as a night light and the soothing sound of filtering water helped me to drift off into sleep.

When I moved into my own flat at the age of 18, I still had this fish tank and I started my first tropical aquarium. I had been wanting to do this for years, but Mom and Dad would only let me have cold water fishes.

I started with easy to keep fish in a community tank, Guppies, Mollies, Zebra Danios, Neon tetras and some smaller variety of Gourami.

MY ONE BOOK

At this age I was fascinated by all the varieties

The different names and how to keep these beautiful creations alive. I learnt about water values and how to test for nitrates. I learnt how to control the temperature and which fishes would breed at higher water temperatures. I knew which fish were live bearers, egg layers, egg depositors. I became obsessed with everything that my ONE book taught me.

I can see now that if someone would have taken my passion for keeping fishes at the age of 10, and used it to help me read, to help me understand science, to look at the fishes anatomy, maybe research all the different plants that I could have grown in my aquarium. My educational experience could have been so very different and such a positive one.

Oh well…such is life!!

At the age of 26, I became homeless and I was very ill with depression. I was close to breakdown and having regular suicidal thoughts. My Mom had me back home and she gave me and my 2 year old *AJ her master bedroom. She bought me a new fish tank, a bigger one, and she told me to fill it with the most beautiful tropical fishes I could find.

Doing this helped me so much and I am so grateful for the wisdom that God gave my Mom. I would go out with my boy and we would find the most amazing Aquatic centres. They always had little cafes and we had a fabulous time looking at all the wonderful fishes.

When *AJ was 9 my Mom bought him his first aquarium

He was fascinated with testing the ph and nitrate levels he also memorised names, temperatures, origins and tank types. He would talk none stop about his aquarium and his teacher was fascinated at his knowledge. I got him so many books and he read every one of them. He loved his tank so much and then one night the thermostat over heated and boiled all the fish, we came down to an awful smell. All his beautiful tropical fish were white and floating on the top of the tank. My *AJ cried his eyes out, and refused to ever talk about it.

Here is a photo of him with his first aquarium, before the boiling obviously

In the cage next to the tank is “BOB” the Gerbil, we later changed his name to “Beelze-BOB”

That Gerbil was just plain evil.

*AJ, 9 years old, with his fishes

*AJ later went on to breeding mice,

He won shows at the national mouse association. I took advantage of his “SPECIAL INTEREST” he was obsessed with mice, so I used it to teach him in SO many ways. He had to clean them out and feed them every day and he had 57 at one point.

Over the years

Me and my kids have kept fish, mice, gerbils, hamsters, rabbits, guinea pigs, chickens, ducks, quails, budgies, love birds, cockatiels, finches, cats, dogs, kakarikis, tree frogs and a snake.

We have quite a library of animal husbandry. I know that through animals I have not felt the loneliness in my life that some Aspies feel. My animals have been my friends, I have loved them and they have loved me back. They have given me friendship, companionship, many giggles….I had a Cockerel once called DUDE who would sit on my shoulder like a pirates parrot. A rabbit that came when it was called. My Kakariki loved being stroked and would call me to tell me he loved me. I had a cat called Fusspot who would regularly steal marsh mellows lick them and flick them up the wall. My dogs, cats and rabbits have given me a shoulder to cry on, and someone to talk to who is an exceptional listener, and never judgemental. My animals have brought me through tough times by being unique creations, they helped me to look to God and see Him in who they are and how they have been created.

My little *CAL looking at fish in an aquatic centre

NOTE: This post was written two years ago. I found it today to share with a lovely new friend that I “met” on facebook through Everyday Aspergers group. I have a lot of new followers that may not know about this part of my life and those who have been following me since the start of Alienhippy won’t mind reading this again.

I enjoyed reading this today, it helped me see just how far I have come.

Love and hugs. Lisa. xx 🙂

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Crazy-cat-lady revisited and Aspiefied

On my swing with 2 of my cats

My lovely Sammy cat

His name was Sammy

I was a 4 year old, hyper-active fidget when my Granddad opened up his jacket and pulled out a tiny little ginger fluff ball, who I automatically call “Cinderella!”

Cinderella got shortened to Cindy and after the vet pointed out a couple of things…Cindy became Sammy……snip

Sammy was an independent tom-cat. He was constantly sleeping under the pipes in the boiler cupboard and contributed daily his own food by bringing home something lovely for dinner, unfortunately he was only willing to share the heads. (nice)

Mom would throw him out the front door every night, and I would open my bedroom window and call him back in. He would spend the night sleeping with me inside my bed next to my Teddy Boo-boo, here I knew he was safe and I could sleep and not loop. I had my Sammy cat for 10 years, he was my best friend and knew me better than anyone else. He never judged me, he always listened and he accepted me in whatever mood I was in. He would give me comfort as I stared and lost myself in his lovely, warm patterned fur. Then he’d bite and ground me snapping me out of being too distant. He was never bothered by my extreme teenage noise pollution, misunderstood violent outbursts and constant crying. He never told me I was obsessed by my interests…ATARI and nail polish. He just let me be me, and I so needed him because the pressure to conform had taken me into isolation.

When Sammy got killed on the main road outside my family home, I was devastated. I couldn’t eat and I stopped speaking for 2 weeks. Sammy was my first love, and my first friend. He taught me about friendship and self belief, he was loyal and forgiving and knew his own mind. He was the only hugs I could do and he was the only friend I could talk to. After my complete shut-down, Mom took me to get Kitty.

Dear Kitty

My Dear Kitty

Mom took me to a pet shop in the City Centre and I carried Kitty home inside my burgundy jacket on the number 12 bus. She was my little baby. I never did the dolly thing like other girls. I didn’t see the point of dressing and playing with something stiff, unrealistic, that smelt synthetic. I knew a doll wasn’t real, so what was the point in pretending it was. My Kitty however was totally real, living, breathing and needing my love as much as I needed hers.

I was really struggling at school, I had been put onto a reading development program, which then caused bullying because it brought attention to my dyslexia. In my one to one SEN-time I would have to read ‘Wind in the Willows’ picture books. I had no interest in fictional toads, badgers and rats especially speaking ones wearing clothes and driving vintage motor cars…I mean how bloody ridiculous.

The other kids were reading “The Diary of Anne Frank,” which sounded far more interesting. This is where Kitty got her name from, I felt I was missing out, so I made my own Dear Kitty, after all I was constantly alone in my very small bedroom.

Kitty was majorly insecure, the pet shop had taken her from her mother far too young and she would suckle on everything, she never grew out of this. She could never cope with being on her own, she would spend all day following RAF our Black Labrador around the house and garden. When he lay down by the fire she lay on top of him. As soon as I got home from school she would follow me to my room where she would stay with me till the next day.

She lived a long life for a cat, and stayed at my Mom and Dad’s home because when I left at 18 she hated my flat and couldn’t settle. She spent 6 days hiding in my wardrobe, refusing food and water. Seeing her like this broke my heart and I had to grow up and make a very hard decision.

Kitty taught me parenting skills, she taught me to see past myself to others needs. Finally when I took her back to my Mom’s, so she could be with her beloved RAF, she taught me to let go. She was a beautiful black and white soul who died peacefully under the apple tree in my Mom and Dad’s front garden at 16 human years of age.

Ok, crying as I rewrite this post. Jump forward 20 years…with lots of cats in between, lot of strays that have come and gone and we get to Holly

Holly, queen of my garden

“Holly, Holly, Hollyyyyyyy!!!”

Holly was my disabled cat, she was deaf and partially sighted. She was a mix of white/tan/black long haired fluff. She didn’t like being touched because she never knew where the touch was coming from. To groom her I had to spend time crawling around on the floor allowing her to sniff me and come to me. She never left my garden because she knew she was safe there.

Holly…pretty, pretty Holly

When I fed all my other cats I had to make sure she was catered for because she couldn’t fend for herself. If she was not in her basket or the cat kennel I had to go find her. She couldn’t hear me calling so I physically had to walk around looking for her. She wouldn’t come running at the sound of cat food, she couldn’t hear it. She was very demanding at meal times, and would scream at me for her food, she couldn’t hear how loud she was, but believe me it was ear-piercing, it hurts my head at times. She didn’t cope well with the other cats and isolated herself away from even her own daughter. When she walked around the garden she relied on her sense of smell, this meant she had to constantly flick her head left and right in an erratic way. The neighbours who saw her doing this told me to have her put to sleep. I think because they thought she was defective or not happy – but she was NOT defective, she was just a little unique and I love that about her. She had found her way and I saw how hard it was for her, compared to my other cats. She did everything required to be a cat. She just did it differently to the rest. She was happy and content and she knew she was loved and accepted. This is what made the other cats move out of her way.

She was the queen of my garden!

Holly taught me this very valuable lesson;

If I could do all these things for her!

If I could see the cat she was!

If I could believe and stand against people’s opinions for her!

Then I could do all this for my kids and myself too.

I believe that God meets us where we are at….even if we think cat.

And now my new addition

Trixie, my puzzle cat

Trixie, the feral

I wonder what she is going to teach me? She is one massive puzzle, and I love working out puzzles. 🙂

Silent Sunday (Fishes)

Jack, the keeper of my marbles.

No… I haven’t lost my marbles, I keep them with the fishes. 😉

We bought a new fish tank today

Mr Locoman dropped the telephone onto Jack’s bubble bowl and smashed it to pieces. Poor Jack ended up flapping around on the carpet and was not too happy having to spend time in a washing up bowl. *CAL was not too happy about it either she loves her goldfish.

He is a happy fishy now in his hexagonal, very retro, funky, hippy fish tank. He even has his own disco ball look. What a cool Alienhippy fishy he is… 😉

A look back at my way forward

Zazzy, *CAL and me at my Mom’s caravan.

I’m such a creature of habit and routine, it’s Saturday morning and I am so excited that there is NO school for the next 6 weeks.

I am also aware because I have this little voice in my head saying, “You need to plan and be disciplined with your time Lisa.”

I know that the days can go so quickly and before we know it, it will be September again and all the amazing ideas I had for day trips will have slipped away for another year.

This year seems different

*AJ has been with his lovely girlfriend *A for two and half years now and they are very much a couple. *CAL has three good friendships (answer to so many prayers) So I feel more like a Taxi service, but that is good because my kids are growing and becoming independent. It’s time for me to connect with me again and it’s quite a scary thought. I have quite a few ideas about how I will do this but that will be in future posts.

There is a seven year gap between my kids

It has been tricky trying to balance family activities over the years. Especially as both of them have that ASD quirkiness going for them. Also I lost my lovely Mom when *CAL was 4 and Mr Locoman has always worked long hours.

*AJ is a sensory seeker and *CAL is very much a sensory avoider

*AJ needs to run it out, he needs excitement and stimulation. He needs his body to have the kind of environment where he can be his happy, flappy, jumping, spinning, adventurous self. He is a pacer and is constantly on the move. Even when his body is still his mind and fingers are active. Now he is older one of the ways he has found of getting this release is in exercise. He has a gym membership and we have provided gym equipment for him out on the patio.

*CAL is a deep thinker she absorbs, she internalises, she studies, ponders and creates. She needs quiet and routine and doesn’t handle noise and movement too well at times. When overwhelmed she will cling to a wall, freeze and lose her words. Her release comes through music, art, reading, her imagination, writing and video games.

When *AJ was younger and *CAL was a toddler

*AJ loved going to indoor play areas, ball pools and slides were wonderful for him. The colours and movement stimulated him and he would be so happy just to be there. It would also help him sleep for longer than 3 hours if I could wear him out. But *CAL was terrified in those places. She would go into that baby shock look and shake from head to toe clinging to me like a little baby monkey. She never cried like *AJ did, she never cried much at all. I could just see that something was not quite right. The discomfort and complete fear she would show I could see instinctively. I knew with *AJ when he was unhappy or in pain because he’d scream the place down. With *CAL I have always had to watch her and try to understand what she is feeling by her movements and inability to answer.

I remember feeling so split in two

I didn’t know what to do for the best. I could see my boy had needs and I wanted to provide the environment and safety for him to have his hyper time. But my little *CAL just couldn’t handle it at all. She has always had fears with noise even vacuuming became a 2 man job. Mr Locoman always being at work was so annoying. I really needed his help but I also needed him to pay the bills so I tried to keep a lid on it, most of the time. 😉 😉 wink wink

This is just one example from thoughts I had when opening my bedroom curtains this morning. I looked out onto my garden and remembered both my kids chasing the chickens. It’s a dry day here today in England and the school holidays have just begun. I don’t want to waste these precious days, I want to go out with my kids and make memories before they have grown even more and left the nest.

There are so many more moments that I can think on where I thought I would never find a way forward. Swimming, cinema, parties, bowling, indoor rock climbing, arcades, shopping centres even the local supermarket have all had their difficult moments. It doesn’t help that I have similar ASD traits and these places have sometimes been difficult for me too. But I think in a way my ASD did also help me to read my kids and to a certain extent predict what may or may not happen.

Asking the right people the right questions

I have found the hardest thing to cope with has been unkind advice from friends and relatives who just didn’t get it. Those who made it perfectly clear to me that they would treat this whole thing very differently if they just had them for a couple of weeks. I was a young Mom and my Mom was ill and then she died. I went to them for help and they pushed me to my knees but I am now grateful they did because God gave me my answers.

I’ll share a few comments that have played in my head and hurt my heart over the last 18 years because I know there are other ASD parents who can totally relate. These were all spoken to me by those I felt would give me support. Let’s just say, I was strong enough to cope without these people but it hurt so deeply at the time.

  • *CAL will have to use a public toilet someday just drag her in there and stop being so ridiculous.
  • *AJ just needs to sit still and be quiet, he needs to only speak when spoken to.
  • Can’t you stop that child from talking about the same thing all the time.
  • You make your kids worse by playing to their behaviour, they need to know their place.
  • This is a party, why do you need to leave she’s not screaming, it’s all in your head.
  • Children will eat what they are given once they are hungry.
  • I have never heard of a baby crying itself to death.
  • Do you actually think these star charts will work he is out of control.
  • If you can’t control him now you have no hope of controlling him when he is a teen.
  • Autism is an excuse that lazy parents use you’re making it more than it is.
  • If you insist on being Autistic then I don’t want you in my house. I don’t want your kids behaviours rubbing off on my kids.

I stopped expecting anyone to understand, I stepped back and waited to see who stepped forward. Very few did, but those who did step forward and not let me totally withdraw I appreciate so very much.

I also found that being outdoors helped.

I used what I had in me to find ways forward. My own special interests (my love of animals, art, nature, photography and poetry) all brought some balance into our lives. Taking my kids and my dog to the hills and parks was perfectly perfect for all of us.

*CAL was happy with the quiet and gentle views, she’d sing and skip and take photos. *AJ could run and climb and be all that *AJ is, we’d sometimes take Zazzy and *AJ stayed with her making his adventures even more fun. At the hills and in the woods I could ponder, pray and be happy with just being me and being their Mommy in the way I understood. No pressure to conform but to just be.

The answers I have always found through prayer

Because once I am being still and listening or I am down on my knees feeling I don’t have a clue, God drops ideas into my head and places His unconditional love on my heart. I believe now that my kids were given to me because I am the best Mom for them. I know how much I love them and will always love them. Way down deep inside me is the answers I just need to always remember to be still and listen.

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ASD, Cats and Empathy

Hello my lovely Bloggy friends,

Kitten update…Those who are following my Wednesday posts will have noticed I didn’t post last week about the kittens. I will let you know why in this update.

This update I am calling…

They are out and about.

That’s right, they can climb out of the box now. Scarlet is the fastest and likes to chase socks and bite toes. Gingy is a poser and loves to be photographed. Nathaniel is a loner and we now think HE might be a SHE Nathanielle maybe??? I’m calling her Kitty at the moment but *AJ said she has to remain Nathaniel …it’s good. Sebastian is a snuggle, he just loves to snuggle into everyone and everything.

Here are a few photos and a short video from week 5.

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Now backtrack to week 4

I did try to write something but I was very sad as Mr PIB was quite ill and there was nothing I could do. The kittens were not well at all, they are a lot better this week and are very playful. They do still have runny eyes but they are not anywhere near as poorly as they were last week.

I sat down to write my post last Wednesday, but I just couldn’t share or find words. I wasn’t going to share the words I did manage to write as they are not very encouraging, but it is all part of life, and I feel I should share if I am going to be true to myself. I need to document this as it is part of me, my life and my growth.

This is a place where I can be me….isn’t it?

The ups and the downs?

These are the only words I could write last Wednesday.

I feel so sad, kitten update week four

I really have no words

To explain how I’m feeling

A kitten life now gone

Mr PIB no longer breathing

His little body limp

So tiny and now cold

Not much of a life

To die at 4 weeks old

On Thursday I wrote this email to my friend.

I have found the perfect place in my garden and buried Mr PIB this morning. He is under a small oak tree that I planted with *AJ when we first moved into the house. The tree was a sapling and only 2ft high, the same height as *AJ when we planted it. Now it is over 20ft but still looks like a young tree. I have my swing seat under the tree too. At the moment this area is filled with blue bells and snowdrops. In the summer it is filled with ferns. There is a small holly bush just behind the swing that is covered with berries in the winter and in the spring the daffodils are all around the trunk of the oak tree.

It’s a pretty place for him. I hope my other kitten don’t die too. They have had a little play today out of the box but they all seem to be sneezing.

I know you understand me. As Aspies we have loved animals because we had no friends and our pets have loved us unconditionally. I feel like I should write a post but I am afraid to. I will probably write out how I feel and journal it.

I would like to explain this the best I can

I have been made to feel bad over the years that I instantly love animals when I find it harder to love people. Part of me felt guilty about feeling sad, about crying and shutting down over a kitten. Bad things happen every day that I seem oblivious to and this is just a kitten. But to me he was a new friend. There are nasty people in this world who drown kittens in the canal, abuse animals just because. I really find this kind of behaviour so hard to process. It was a little life and I felt so helpless. I knew that if I opened the window Angel would have carried him off and left him to die alone, it’s a cats way. I didn’t want him to be alone, the thought of him being alone hurt me and the thought of Angel watching helplessly hurt me too. I paced my home and I wanted someone to make choices for me, I felt lost and I wanted my mom. She always knew how to make me feel better.

As I wrote to my Aspie friend

As Aspies we have loved animals because we had no friends and our pets have loved us unconditionally. I feel like I should write a post but I am afraid to.

I shouldn’t be afraid to share who I am

I know God loves me and I know there are other people who feel this way too. It’s a myth that Aspies don’t understand empathy.

I still stand by what I said in my “Toys and Empathy” post back in December 2010. The post about why I gave ALL my toys away to charity as a child.

Quoting myself here…hehe

I think that the lack of empathy thing is just a shut down mechanism of self protection because emotion is so intense…it will overload the system and cause sensory difficulties and eventually complete shutdown. But this is just a whole load of Lisa Lingo from my babbling thought loops.

I just know that when I gave my toys away it was because I cared deeply for children I would never meet, and I was willing to go without my faithful friends so they would live. I don’t believe that I lack empathy and I don’t believe other Aspies do either. But this is just my understanding.

Don’t tell me I lack empathy…I know I don’t.

I might have switched off love for awhile because of the intense pain I felt from the rejection and abuse of people. But animals and children were never part of my shutdown to empathy.

By choosing to love we choose to accept pain, but it’s always better to love.

Love and hugs my friends.

Lisa. xx 🙂

Kitten update, week two

Hello my lovely Bloggy friends,

The kittens are doing fine, they are filling out and have lovely fat little bellies. Also their eyes have opened this week and they have started to crawl about looking curiously at the world around them. Angel moved the kittens from the cat basket to my chair. This was fine but once their eyes opened they started to move around I got a little worried they might fall onto the hard concrete floor. So, I have moved the chair out of the conservatory and given them a much bigger box. She is happy with this, very happy actually she told me so. 🙂

Plus I have my chair back, so it’s happy-dancing all round. Without my chair I find it hard to be still and get down time. So yep, it’s definitely happy-dancing all round.

Angel is doing fine also,

She is very settled in our home now and I have started to leave the conservatory door open for her so she can get used to the house and the rest of the family. She came and spent about 30 minutes lying on the floor in the living room the other day but then spotted Jack the Goldfish in his bowl, with no lid. (YIKES)

We are making plans to bring the aquarium back into the house and will be setting it up as a cold water tank to stop the cats having Jack for breakfast.

My Auntie is going to have the smallest kitten

It looks like a girl to me, I could be wrong, but I don’t think so after all the kittens and cats I have had. Saying that though, I do have a female cat called Barny so it’s not set in stone. My Aunt has called her kitten Scarlet, so let’s hope I’m correct this time. I must say she has picked the most vocal of the litter…hehehe.

That’s good actually my Auntie is very vocal too…..(Love you Auntie Bubble)

A couple of the kittens have developed a little bit of an eye infection but it’s nothing too serious and cooled boiled water is doing the trick. If it doesn’t clear up by next week I’ll pop them down to the vet.

Oh yes…I have decided to take on a carpentry project

I come from a long line of carpenters and dressmakers so I have had loads of experience with both and have decided to make a kitten tower. I priced them up and OMGOSH what a rip off, why pay that when you can make it yourself.

I have it down to these two that I like. One is kind of stylish and the other looks fun and cosy. Not sure which direction to go in yet and I will probably create something that looks nothing like any of these. We will have to wait and see won’t we?!

Enjoy these few photo, love and hugs. Lisa. xx 🙂

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