What A Show!

The last few weeks have been busy, busy, busy but in a delightful way leading up to my art group’s 26th annual art exhibition. First came the conundrum of deciding which paintings to put in, then the pricing (always a problem). Because of the current economic crisis, one didn’t want to set them too high as people might think twice about a frivolous purchase when they have worries over fuel and food bills. Our exhibitions have always proved popular but the usual concerns as to whether anyone would come let alone buy anything are constantly there. Then came the hassle of obtaining frames and mounts etc, not normally an issue but stores here supplying these, like many outlets, are struggling to obtain stocks or have limited choice. Finally having everything I needed, I set to work preparing my paintings for hanging, only to discover one had a damaged frame, necessitating another trawl of the art suppliers locally.

My 7 paintings duly delivered. I hoped they would be grouped together particularly as 4 of them were on the same topic: water. I wasn’t disappointed. They had a wall all to themselves right by the entrance. I was a happy bunny, which reminds me, I must paint one of those before long; I love bunnies.

Kit’s wall of paintings, and some of our many guests on preview night

The standard of work on display from everyone was exceptionally high, leading to an exhibition that surpassed previous years. From the moment the preview evening’s doors opened the room was packed, and to my complete surprise, one of mine sold within half-an-hour. The purchaser was even more delighted to be introduced to me. A second joy came when another couple sought me out to chat about one of my works they had purchased in late 2021. It is lovely meeting and talking with people who love your work, often more so than the satisfaction that comes from selling one. I was thrilled, and if nothing else of mine sold over the weekend I did not care. There were many smiling faces as we locked up that night because 9 other paintings also sold.

Some of the many works on show

Arriving for my stewarding duty on the Saturday afternoon, I was greeted with news that 2 more of my paintings had sold that morning. Wow! I never expected that. With a total of 22 paintings sold that day, the club was close to breaking last year’s record of 27 sales.

On Sunday, arriving to enjoy an afternoon cup of tea and cake from the refreshment table before the raffle was pulled and the event closed, I didn’t notice at first a fourth painting of mine had gone. Double WOW!

It was a thoroughly enjoyable, and successful show for everyone involved, if tiring. I do not have the total figures yet but the club surpassed its record with 40, yes 40! paintings sold, not including those from the mounted tables (7+). A quick calculation put the total at well over £1,500.00 (another record). A percentage of sales plus money from donations, the raffle, admission fees, and the refreshments table will be donated to our chosen charity, this year being the Ukrainian Red Cross. Many members who sold have also donated their full sales to the charity, including myself, as has one member who ran a table in the foyer selling her bespoke, hand-crafted and beautiful individual greeting cards.

What a weekend!

My Sold Paintings

Kit Domino’s websites and blogs

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April Showers bring May Flowers

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At least that’s what the old saying says. I’m not so sure. We’ve been getting more than our share of rain here in the Pacific Northwest. Sorry I missed posting last month, it was a crazy month. On my birthday, … Continue reading

Mother’s Day

Jillian here. Happy May. Sorry I missed April. For days before it was my day, I debated what to say and then when the day actually came, I still had nothing. Lol. I don’t have much today either. I’ve fallen into a terrible rut of work, home, work, home, work, ad infinitum. I gotta get out more. 🙂

Yesterday was Mother’s Day here in the US. Hope all who celebrated had a nice one. Mr. C and I ate brunch with my parents at Cracker Barrel. My sister was sick so she didn’t make it. Mom always picks where we go, so off we went. We set 9:00 as the time hoping to miss the breakfast crowd and get there before the lunch bunch. Didn’t work out to plan as it was a fifty minute wait for a table. Good thing it was breezy and 67 degrees F (19 C). Sitting on the porch on rockers was nice. Mom doesn’t eat much these days, but she ate a ton yesterday. I told her that was the most I’d seen her eat in years and she said she knew but she was starving. I guess making her wait 50 minutes plus cooking time is the way to get her to eat more. 🙂

I got to face time with my older son and his family. When I got on, their dog, Primm, was across the room. I called out, “Hey, Miss Primm,” and she came running toward the screen. She let me chat with her a few minutes but ambled off when I couldn’t pet her.

Had a good conversation with them and watched grandson play a matching numbers game on his tablet. He said he wanted to come to my house and that made me happy for sure. Being only two years old and 7 hours away, I worry that he won’t know me and so when he asks to visit, that means a lot.

My younger son works for me and gave me a bath and body store gift card. He said his real gift was to finish all the backlog of filing on top of the cabinets (it’s been driving me bonkers). Imma gonna remind him of that about Thursday. Hehehe. 🙂

Here’s Miss Primm and her fancy portrait.

Remodel and Renewal

Remember paneled walls? Not the cool wainscoting or shiplap, but the old, brown, thin stuff with the dark indented lines to make it look like fake wood? Well, that’s our family room in a nutshell. Straight out of the 20th century. 🙂

We made the decision that it was time to bring the room into the 21st century. The paneling is gone. Hallelujah!  My husband did all the demo and is in the process of re-insulating the room.

Then the plumbers come in to re-pipe the last part of the house that hasn’t had new plumping since it was built. After that, it’s sheetrock time! I can hardly wait to see what it looks like, and I’ll have to post finished pics if/when we ever get this done.

Once the sheetrock is done, it’s time for my project. Cleaning the fireplace rock.

I’ve done some research into it and it just takes time. I’m also considering re-painting the grout. The sheetrock will be so light, I think the grout will look dull in comparison. But, I won’t be able to decide until I get the rock cleaned.

While waiting for my turn, I decided to get away from it all and renew my psyche in my happy place. The ocean. Whether calm or blustery, it soothes my soul.

I hope you have a place you can head for to renew yourself. We all need that sometimes, eh?

Have a wonderful May!

For more information about Laurie Ryan:
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Once bitten…

I love spring. It’s my favourite season. The bulbs and flowers are springing into abundant life, the light evenings are stretching out, the air has the hint of warmer days to come (a bit hit and miss at the moment here in the UK where it’s currently more like January!), and the promise of long summer months stretch before us.

As much as I love spring, it has its downside. Insects! Biting ones! Especially the sneaky little blighters encountered on walks that find their way through leggings, jeans, two pairs of socks, sturdy walking boots, and manage to bite me relentlessly despite any attempt to thwart them. Walks with Vivvy are glorious right now: primroses, daffodils, tulips, bluebells – the woods are abundant with life. And I have the bites to prove that. I’ve tried every repellent I can think of: creams, lotions, vitamin tablets, but nothing seems to deter the little devils. They love me!

The itching drives me crazy, and the only thing that seems to help is the old and trusted calamine lotion. I think I keep the makers in business single-handedly this time of year 🙂 The problem with that is Vivvy loves the taste and keeps trying to lick my pink-covered legs!

Me and calamine lotion go back a long way. Born and raised by the sea, I spent long sun-filled days on the beach as a teenager in the company of my older cousin. She used to mix up this concoction of olive oil and vinegar and we’d lavish it on our skins in the hope of developing a lovely suntan. I vividly remember one time when we vastly overdid it and ended up at my grandmother’s house slathered in calamine lotion and our grandfather’s old workshirts which was all we could tolerate against our sunburnt skin. Happy days!

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Changes

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Are changes hard for you? They can be for me. I particularly hate changing back and forth from day-light-savings time. But let’s face it. Life is about change. Everyday we age, and with that comes all kinds of changes.  Especially as … Continue reading

Coming Out of the Closet

Not a lot of people know this, but I am a closet keyboard player, and despite my electric keyboard being stored away in a cupboard for the past few years, this week I took the decision to bring it back out of hiding and start playing again.

It all started way back when as a child I wanted to play the piano. My grandparents had an upright in their lounge. My uncles played a little and my father could bash out a fair rendition of Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No.1 in B minor, but us grandchildren were never allowed to touch it. It was always kept locked, although we would lie underneath it and hit the strings till Nan appeared and we’d all run like hell into the garden, each blaming each other. Happy days.

Still the urge to play gnawed at me but my parents could not afford for me to have lessons, let alone buy a piano. To them, my weekly dance classes (ballroom and Latin American) were enough. A friend from infant and junior school, Peter, had a grand piano in the lounge at his house, I was always envious of such a highly-polished and large instrument. A few years ago, Peter and I found each other through Facebook. He has gone on to greater things with music – he’s Organist and Director of Music of the Royal Memorial Chapel, at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst in England as well as an accomplished accompanist, arranger, composer, conductor, and opera singer, with works performed on stage and radio. Oh, what I might have achieved too had I been able to play.

Over the years the urge never left me. In the 1980s, at home full time through long-term illness, I was determined to learn to play so purchased an old wreck of an upright from a dealer. It sat in our dining room, often out of tune but good enough for practice. I found a piano teacher and began to learn, this was necessary as I couldn’t even read music. She doubted I would be able to master the instrument as I have small hands and hand span but I managed. I wasn’t keen on the type of music she taught, after all who wants to play The Merry Widow all day long? Soon she thought I was ready to take my Grade 1 exam. For this she wanted me to sing. Why, I have no idea but that was a big no no. I cannot sing. Never could, never can and no one will ever be able to teach me. After that, I never went back.

A short while after, I overheard a conversation with a lady I knew vaguely talking about an electric piano she had bought. We chatted, and invited me to see it. I was hooked. I wanted one, and she offered to help me play. After several months, I went out and bought my own. Not an electric piano, I couldn’t afford that, but a six octave electric, all singing, all dancing (well not quite), multi instrument and tempo keyboard. And thank goodness for headphones. I could now play at my heart’s content without disturbing Dave or the neighbours. I was never brilliant at it, had no intention of playing for anyone but I enjoyed it, which was and is the main thing.

So now it is sitting back in the office/art studio/Kit’s cave/spare room where it belongs and I am starting over learning again by going back to basics with the help of online lessons on YouTube. Just need to buy some new headphones now. Who knows, I could be playing at a venue near you some day. No, I doubt it either.

Firsts

The last month has been quiet for us. Not a whole lot going on, except writing for me, and getting the garden ready for the year for hubby.

I walk every day and post pictures from my walks on Facebook, so I probably shouldn’t duplicate those here, although here’s a neighbor’s tree that looked so beautiful in the morning sunlight, I have to share it.

I thought this month that I’d talk about back when I first published. Many writers self (indie) publish their books and I do that as well.

But my first story got picked up by a publisher. And they were nice enough to call me and let me know that. There is something special about getting that first call. It’s the point at which you start believing all your sweat and tears and hard work is validated. Someone, other than your family and friends, believes in you.

That’s exactly how the call felt for me. The really cool part was how it happened. My mother, one of the best people I’ve ever known, passed away about six years ago. For years before that, I took her to all her medical appointments. She was still driving, but it’s always nice to have someone there to help you understand what the doctor said.

Anyhow, we were in the xray waiting room and my phone pinged that I had a message. It was the publisher who asked me to call them back. I did and got the editor who’d read my book and told me they wanted to publish it.

When I got off the phone, I was giddy. My mom got so excited, she told the people around her. I got applause from everyone in the waiting room and it still, to this day, is the highlight of my writing career. Because my mom was there to share this big moment with me.

Even now, I’m grinning as I remember. It’s one of the happy memories I think about when I’m struggling to stay happy.

Do you have happy moments you can rely on to turn your frown around? I hope so, because those moments are what make life worth living.

For more information about Laurie Ryan:
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Sewing Memories

So, with spring in the air and the clocks going forward an hour here in the UK, we decided to start clearing/decluttering our home from the top down.

The attic was first on the list. It didn’t take long as we tend to shove everything we don’t need into the garage keeping the loft relatively free, but there were several discoveries. Mostly it was old suitcases of holiday clothes (a bikini, size 12 if you please! – was that really once mine?) and equipment like snorkels, waterproof footwear for pebbly beaches, old beach mats and towels, and broken tennis and squash rackets.

The best discovery was a small case containing a real blast from the past. Loads of dressmaking patterns! I was once a very keen sewer and loved making my own clothes. I loved choosing a pattern, then the fabric, matching the thread precisely to the material – often, if I liked the style, I’d make the outfit in different fabrics. I couldn’t get enough of dressmaking back in the day and got a real buzz from it.

Pre-marriage we were keen ballroom dancers and went every week for classes (AJ loves to remind me that he once was given an award for student with the fanciest footwork!) Every Saturday we attended the dance school’s social where we could practice what we’d learned that week as well as learn a new group dance. Heck, it was fun! During the week, I’d often make a new dress specifically to wear to the Saturday dance. Yes, I was a make-a-dress-in-a-week girl. If only I could say the same about my life as a writer – imagine being a create-a-book-in a-week author!

I even found some fabric in that case in the loft so maybe one of these days I’ll turn my hand to dressmaking again – maybe a simple strappy summer shift dress? Oh, if you look closely at the bottom of the photo you’ll see the pattern I used for my wedding dress. I can only dream of the size pattern I used for it back then *sigh*

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Smart Phones

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Kids amaze me and how they handle technology is no exception. Last week my daughter was out with her grand-daughter and daughter. When Kris got out of the car, she inadvertently left her phone with Kennedy who is four.  Before they … Continue reading