Leisure

Today I’d like to introduce a new regular blogger here at Over the Backyard Fence. My dear friend Jane Smith will be posting on the fourth Wednesday of every month. I met Jane when we were both studying for our BA degree with The Open University here in the UK. That was, ahem, a very long time ago, and we’ve been friends ever since. Jane is well travelled, enjoys many interests, and has a great sense of humour. I know she’ll be treating us to some really interesting posts along the way, and she’s chosen to start with a subject we can all relate to in one way or another. So welcome, Jane, and over to you…

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Several of your blogs I’ve read relate to the topic of leisure in one way or another. Do we make time in our lives to spend time on leisure activities? What do we, each individually, consider leisure? One person’s idea of spending time differs greatly from another. I have been thinking about this concept a lot lately, because I am doing too much. But not work as Jillian was talking about earlier this month, since I am retired! A poem I read at school constantly pops into my mind, is it a reminder from my inner self to slow down I wonder? “Leisure” by W H Davies opens with the lines:

What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare …

jane choirReading through the rest of the poem starts a chain of thoughts for me about my life. I am sustained by love of friends and family. I take two yoga classes a week which ground me and sing with a community choir which gives me a sense of well being, achievement and friendship (that’s me in the photo in a black dress with a purple scarf). I also attend a book group which stretches my mind as well as being another source of friendship and fun. Regular contact with my close friends offers all these things too: grounding, fun, conversations on a wide range of topics and relaxation. Good friendship is a mutual support system, one to the other – especially in difficult times. My grandchildren are another source of delight, a child’s view of life makes grown ups stop and stare in a different way. The continuity from my own children through their children, the family rituals which get passed down repeated at birthdays and Christmas. A pattern resembling a huge tapestry which shapes our lives.

I meant this first blog of mine to be light hearted but a piece of writing for me often takes on its own path. Most of you are published authors, I am an avid reader. I have read through your current blogs and the range of topics is fascinating. The humour and love in your lives shines through and the wide breadth of activities too. Your Country Shows resemble our summer fetes and county shows here in UK, but the family aspect and pride in one another’s achievements, whether showing animals or baking, is again a valuable layer of our lives.

Recently my choir did two concerts. One to help raise money for a 19 year old tragically killed. Max was in a car, as a passenger, racing against his friends on a county lane, unofficial of course. A van came unexpectedly around a corner and wham. The impact on many lives, including the van driver and his family, was devastating. We were invited to perform, nervously on our part as it was open air, to a mainly young audience (most of us are over 50!), and our main song was a request from the youngsters of Bob Marley’s 3 Little Birds. I forgot to mention we are an A Capella choir. We arrived to find a Reggae Band performing “our song” which threw us totally! But we rallied one another, got on the stage and sang our hearts out. Two other songs, one Hawaiian another African, led to the climax of the main song. Well, the reaction was amazing – the youngsters whistled, clapped and sang along with us. It was a wonderful feeling to cross generations in tribute to Max and a worthy cause to educate other youngsters in the risks of five minutes fun.

The second concert was this week in a local church. Family and friends of the choir bought tickets, so did other members of our local community. The pressure was huge to do a good performance. Again it was wonderful. The audience sang some songs with us, we raised money and we all felt great. Both these examples illustrate aspects of my leisure. Enriching, loving and fun. A sense of community. Our lives.

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Disney 2015

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Disney is 60 years old and is looking pretty good. 4 days of theme parks, it looked a lot better than I did. Of course I’m older. ☺ Kris (daughter), Christopher, Darien (grandsons) and me decided it was time to … Continue reading

Random Acts of…Dumping?

P1110086You might be wondering why I’m leading off today’s blog with a picture of, well, garbage. One morning, not too long ago, we awoke to this pile left in our driveway. A totally random collection of stuff that we then had to dispose of. We had no clue where it came from until the neighbor across the street told us they’d seen a white car unloading in our driveway. These guys just pulled in and started cleaning their car out in front of our garage! Anyhow, the neighbors, bless them, confronted the guys, who hopped in their car took off before they could leave any more, umm, stuff.

It kind of ticked us off. But more than that, it made me wonder why people do this? Why dump stuff you no longer want for someone else to clean up? I can maybe understand it in some rare instances. Like, when we visited Guatemala a few years ago, there was a lot of garbage lining the streets. Turns out, until very recently, food was wrapped in leaves, etc. All natural and biodegradable, so folks were used to just tossing wrappers. When plastic became more widely used, they kept doing the same thing. It takes a while to change a mindset and get people to realize some things never decompose. I can understand that. But this dumping in our driveway just doesn’t make sense. It seems to me, it’s just as easy to put it in your own garbage or take it to the landfill (garbage dump) or recycler.

So that’s my question for today. Why do some people do this? I’m kind of on my soapbox here, but I just don’t understand it. It’s like trying to figure out why folks throw lit cigarettes out of car windows during a hot, dry summer. I don’t get it.

And maybe I don’t want to understand. I just want folks to act responsible, you know? Okay…climbing off my soapbox… To close things out on a more positive note, here’s a few more positive things that happened on this date in history:

1793 – France passes first copyright law.
1911 – Hiram Bingham discovers Machu Pichu, the Lost City of the Incas
1938 – Instant coffee invented
1965 – Bob Dylan releases “Like a Rolling Stone.”

Hope your summer’s going well!

Everyone’s Doing Things Except Me

Jillian here.  The last weeks have been a real grind for me. It seems that all I do i work, work and then work some more. It’s tough sometimes being responsible all the time. Working the way I do, I am at the mercy of other people’s schedules a lot of the time and can’t just take time off without hassle. I’m not complaining about it but sometimes, it’s tough. In fact, I was initially going to see Lavada and Laurie in July but a court date got set and I had to move my plans.

#2 son, his best friend and the spouse went (driving, mind you) to Acadia National Park in Maine, via Pittsburgh to visit Falling Water, the Frank Lloyd Wright- built house. They were gone for ten days. I wasn’t jealous because it’s a long drive (over 23 hours each way) and they camped for part of it. I’m not a fan of tent camping. Too old for that. LOL!  The one thing I would’ve liked to do that they did was visit #1 son for a day and a half. They got to see the new house he and his wife just closed on.

#2 son is now in Paris for the semester abroad and #1 son has redone all the floors in his new house as well as painted the interior and moved in. They also had a great night out when his wife had her birthday. My husband just came back from a weekend in Pittsburgh learning more moves and testing for his next level of black belt. My sister is in Boston on a work/pleasure trip and my parents just got back from visiting family in North Alabama.

Me? I went on that two day trip to Birmingham for the writing workshop. AND worked. And worked. And worked.

Really, really looking forward to my trip to Seattle. :)

The Beauty in the Rain by Valerie J. Patterson

I don’t know about where you live, but here in beautiful Pennsylvania it’s been raining and raining and raining with one or two dry days thrown in the mix.  I don’t normally mind rain, but when the meteorologist comes on the TV and says that had the rain in June been snow, we’d have had 48 inches of the fluffy white stuff, it kind of gets your attention!

About the biggest complaint I have about rain is walking to and from work in it.  The back splash of heels in water on dress trousers is a bit of a drag, not to mention the fact that wearing open-toed shoes is not a good idea.  But it’s summer, and your toes are all dressed up for show and you just don’t want to hide them inside shoes.

Aside from that, rain is beautiful.  I was standing at the kitchen window staring out at my Red Sweet Gum tree, marveling at the variety of shades of green that seemed sharper and brighter and more vivid in the rain.  For those unfamiliar with Red Sweet Gum trees, the leaves are star shaped and absolutely wonderfully aromatic.  I stood admiring my tree–the setting sun glistened off the rain water settling on the leaf stars.  I was amazed at how vastly different the tree looked in the aftermath of a summer storm.  I grabbed my camera and headed outside to attempt to gain a few frames of the beauty.  I snapped several pictures from several spots in the yard and at varying angles, but I simply could not capture what I’d seen from the kitchen window.  It was that “once and but for a moment” beauty where the setting is perfect–the sunshine was in the perfect degree of brightness, the rain water was in its early stages of dropping off the tree leaves–the setting was perfect.  By the time I’d attempted to capture it, the moment had passed.  It’s true, I have some nice photos, but none of them are THE one photo I wanted.

I’ve been enjoying the summer rains, tolerating the thunder storms, and keeping my pretty toes tucked inside shoes–nice and dry.  Thanks to a tree full of star-shaped leaves I’ve grown to appreciate even more the beauty in the rain.  It’s more than nature’s way of watering the gardens, making plants and grass grow, and keeping things somewhat cleaner than without the rain.  It’s about seeing the mist of a shower, hearing the rhythm of a storm, and admiring the rainbow at the end.  It’s noticing how the rain enhances the colors of the world around us.

Until next time, may the rain in your life bring beauty and inspiration.

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JULY and FAIR TIME!!

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As most of you probably know I LOVE county fair.  Ours starts this week and we have another the week after, so we have been super busy.  I thought this might slow down if we didn’t take cows but it … Continue reading

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And the heat goes on

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That is how the weather has gone since my last post.  We’ve broken records here in Washington for the heat.  It wouldn’t be so bad if we cooled off a night but we haven’t been. Luckily this weekend, we’re supposed … Continue reading