counting chickens

The train’s delayed and while I wait,
I gauge my luck – or lack thereof –
in magpies: the furl of caping wings,
and splay-tailed swoop to perch
high in the winter cage of track-side trees
whose trunks are evergreened by ivy.

The magpies were too far away to get a photo, but this blackbird seemed to think that if he sat still enough I wouldn’t notice him.

blackbird in bare branches



Three – four – nine – two; three – one:
random magpies map my life
in black and white.


One for sorrow, two for joy; three for a girl and four for a boy; five for silver, six for gold…

There were six magpies bickering in the trees by the river last night. Sadly, I fear they weren’t foretelling the imminent receipt of a large fortune, just the arrival of sunset over the lake:

sunset over lake


I’ve been reading online that lots of places in the States won’t let you adopt a black cat in October for fear that you’ll torture and mutilate it as part of a satanic ritual for Hallowe’en. This being Spain, though, I suspect that these three – who, when tumbled together in the sunshine seem to jointly warrant the name of Cerberus – are probably no more at risk than at any other time of year.

Three black cats

paws for thought

black cat paws
Years ago, I used to have an orange-brown tabby. She was a perfectly normal short-haired cat, but skinny and delicate. She had one or two pink pads, but mostly her paw pads were black, and I always suspected this indicated that she had Siamese ancestors.

At last count there were five black cats ranging around the finca and, although I haven’t got close to the two smallest, when I saw these paws on the windowsill, I was struck by the fact that the three siblings born 15 months ago all have black pads.

After some brief on-line research, I find that this is to be expected, although, if I’ve understood correctly, it would theoretically be possible for a black cat to have pink paws.
Continue reading “paws for thought”

being superstitious is lucky

Stevie Wonder may have been wrong when he sang “When you believe in things that you don’t understand, then you suffer.” According to an article on, German researchers have demonstrated that being superstitious can actually improve performance: if you have your lucky charm with you, you feel more confident and perform better. There again, it probably works the other way, too, and losing your amulet will make you perform worse.

Of course superstitions vary between cultures. I imagine that an English speaker who takes a test on Friday 13th will underperform, whereas a Spaniard would do worse if it was martes 13.

black kitten
lucky for some

Which gives me an excuse for posting this photo.

Where English readers will see it as a good omen, Spaniards will think it augurs ill.

Either way, it seems a big responsibility for such a small cat.