August Musings

Here we are already in the middle of August. It seems unbelievable to think in a few weeks’ time we will be in the ’ember months of the year. Before you know it Christmas will be upon us again. It has already arrived in some of the stores here in the UK, and the children haven’t even returned to school yet from their summer break. But enough of that.

I missed posting last month; my apologies – major meltdown due to extreme heat! Heat that has only today started to climb back down the thermometer, and we have rain. Not a lot, admittedly. We do need plenty here as, like many countries, we are in a drought situation. Keeping the flowers and plants alive in the back garden has been hard work, but we’ve made the most of our grey water from the kitchen, about the only real exercise I’ve had, backwards and forwards several times a day. The vegetable garden and annual flowerbed at the front has, I’m sad to say, been a failure because of lack of rain; we have avoided using the hosepipe. As a consequence, we’ve written this year off on the gardening front and back, because the back garden will be given another make over.

The reason being, we have demolished our large koi pond and intend turning the area into another flowerbed. Whilst we both had a lot of pleasure from the fish, which had grown huge, it was becoming increasingly hard work for Dave to keep it going despite so-say modern filters and UV lamps and fitting a new pump each year – not cheap. We were plagued with pond weed, the water never clear. The fish loved it; we didn’t. We agreed back last October that we would run the pond down as each winter we invariably lost a fish or two. Needless to say, this past winter they all survived.

One of the koi (28lbs)

We gave the fish, some as long as 2-3 ft and weighing many lbs, to a local koi keeper so we know they would be going to a good home. Catching them was another matter. All three of us got soaked! Then
began the fun part, demolition of the pond walls. The pond was/is over 8ft deep, with half of it above ground, so we were hoping the bricks and blocks would fill that below ground level. Miscalculation. We now have to dispose of a lot of rubble. This Dave will do in the autumn when the weather is a lot cooler.

Before
After
Demolition begins

The extreme heat here has meant I have not done a lot of art. A special request for a contemporary flower painting was completed and I began working up one for my students to copy at my next workshop at the end of September. They had requested a waterfall, so waterfalls I did. Several of them. It became clear to me that each one was a little too adventurous for some of my group, but I finally came up with a much simpler version that hopefully will stretch them without any duress.

“Pastel Pastures”
“Autumn Waterfall”

Other than these efforts, I have to admit nothing has been done. Hardly any writing because my office was too hot even with a fan running. No housework other than the basics – no point with all the doors and windows open; little laundry to wash – thank goodness for kaftans to lounge about it in all day. On the plus side, we’ve spent most days and long into the evenings in the garden. Our patio is in shade from midday so it has been comfortable, and I have been able to enjoy uninterrupted reading, getting through 5 books, unusual for me in a short space of time.

We treated the month as a long holiday, being exceedingly lazy and relaxed. It was fun while it lasted; now it’s back to normality. I hope your month has been good too.

Kit Domino’s websites and blogs

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Summer is almost over

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The year seems to go faster and faster. I can’t believe we’re into August already. Here in the Pacific Northwest we’ve had some heat waves come though, one of which gave us 90 degrees or higher for a week. The … Continue reading

August!

Jillian here. Can you believe it’s already August and will be in the double digits of August tomorrow? Where is the time going?

I have completed (with my editor) edits on my newest book which will be under my other name. I hope to make a series of this one, but I am having a dickens of a time figuring out a cover plan. I used a lot of local places in the story and lots of local ghost lore with the historical buildings and areas being visited by the heroine. I don’t want a cluttered cover and am not sure about the new covers out there for cozy mysteries and so I am just at a standstill with the book. Gotta figure it out! LOL!

My mom and sister both are August babies so I actually went out shopping (!) for their gifts last week. I am not a shopper at all so this was big.

Premier league football (soccer for the USA crowd) has started back and I am cheering on the Liverpool team as I have for over 20 years.

The air conditioning has been out at my office and we are sweltering. Have had my fans going and windows open– a small breeze is always an “ahhh” moment. We have had two estimates for a new unit and waiting on a 3rd. Over $8,000.00 is what we’re looking to have to spend. UGH! But it has to be done. We’ve had some rain too so that helps cool it off. It’s decision time, though.

The best news of the month is that my husband will finish his cancer treatment this week and we can’t wait for him to ring that bell on Friday. We have kept it on the down-low on FB as he didn’t want all his extended family to tell the whole town where he is from. A small town in Alabama where he only had 18 people in his graduating class. He hates even when his sisters call to check on him so he sure didn’t want the whole town to know. 🙂 (and I’ve now told the whole blogger-verse!)

Happy August to all!

My Sweet Baboo!

Where the heck did July go???

Ack. My apologies. I completely forgot to blog in July. With good reason. We were crazy busy. But I dislike not keeping up with my responsibilities.

So, what all happened in July?

1.  My niece-in-law went into labor at 28 weeks with her twins. Very survivable, but it’s been scary times full of prayers. They were born at 2.6 and 2.8 pounds and needed breathing assistance. I’m happy to say they are both now over four pounds and off breathing assistance. Yay! These boys are fighters.

2.  My granddaughter is part of an elite Drum and Bugle Corps. They come from all over and meet once a month to practice. Then, before their performance tour, they met and stayed in a high school for 2 1/2 weeks, sleeping on the gym floor, to practice 10 hours a day. We had the pleasure of catching one of their performances (most of them were in California) and we were in awe. Playing music, walking backwards, counting steps. They were amazing!

3.  Another granddaughter, during her month off from medical school, got married. That was a joyous occasion. They looked wonderful and the weather was awesome for the outdoor venue. Our soon-to-be doctor and her fireman husband are so good together. Seeing them so happy is very rewarding and I’m smiling as I type this.

4.  We had a family campout the weekend after the wedding. Whew! July’s activities, by this time, were piling up and I was getting a touch tired. But this was an easy-peasy campout and we did a lot of relaxing and rejuvenating.

5.  Lastly, but certainly not least, I helped Marie Tuhart with her table at a Readers and Writers conference. That was a total blast. We got to chat with so many readers and other authors. Saw some wonderful table decorations and even sold a few books. I’ve already signed up for the next one on July 24, 2024. So if you think you’ll be in the Seattle/Tacoma area, stay tuned for more details.

So that was my month. Now, I’m grateful for some down time. I’m behind on a book, so need to seriously focus on getting that done and to my critique partners.

I hope you’re having a wonderful summer, with temperate weather and just enough on the calendary to make it fun.

For more information about Laurie Ryan:
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Back to the Future…

Way back in the day, I learned to type on an old black typewriter. Anyone else remember them? The ones with keys you had to bang on so hard to get them to work? And woe betide if you gathered some speed because if you typed too fast the keys would stick together and you’d get ink on your fingers separating them. Happy days. No, really, they were.

Typing stencils for use on the Gestetner machine was something else. Working with this duplicating machine you had to make sure you didn’t type too hard on the stencil, especially any letter with a circle (o, b, d, p, q), because the circle could disappear beneath a blob of ink and didn’t look too great when printed out – achieved via turning the handle on the side of the machine until you felt your arm would drop off! Any mistakes were corrected with this red fluid that if you sniffed too robustly could get you pretty high!

Things progressed pretty rapidly and soon we had the super-duper electric typewriters. Those things took some getting used to. By the time I had an electric model my speed had progressed and the thing seemed to run away with me. Thankfully tippex was around then and I made good use of it 🙂

Technology moved on and I bought my first computer – an Amstrad 9512. I loved that machine and spent many happy hours on it. I went kicking and screaming into the modern computer age, and while it’s great having new technology which makes life easier (most of the time and when it works properly) I do hanker after those old manual typewriter days, especially the keyboards… Hearing the clackety-clack of productivity made my little heart sing.

When I saw they made old style keyboards I wondered if it was worth buying one and taking a trip down memory lane. Not really able to justify it, I put it on my wish list and kind of forgot about it. Then Amazon Prime Day happened and there it was at a nicely reduced price. Needless to say, it now adorns my desk 🙂 It took a while to get used to as it’s so much smaller/narrower than a modern standard keyboard and it was a few days before I got used to having to press down harder on the keys again. It was hit and miss if the required key was obtained, and there was much mumbling of “this will have to go back” but after persevering I now love it. The clackety-clack is modified, but it’s there. Happy days are here again 🙂

So I’m enjoying my trip down memory lane, although I have to admit that I’m not looking to go back to the days of tippex and carbon copies. No sirree.

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Hello I’m Harley

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People think I am a boy puppy. Probably because my people named me “Harley” but note the pink collar!!!  I am on my first camping trip. Wow it’s a big world out here. Lots to see, and smell, and chew on. … Continue reading

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Technology Issues

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When technology doesn’t work it can throw us off. That’s what happened to me and why this blog post is late. I’ve been trying since Sunday to log into WordPress so I could do my post. Nothing would happen. I … Continue reading

Christmas in July? Well, Sort of….

Jillian here! Hope everyone is having a nice summer. It’s been wild weatherwise here. Over 100 degrees Fahrenheit with over 111 heat index every day for a couple of weeks in June, then rainstorms with thunder and lightning all day, every day (dark as night at noon) for the end of June and first six days of July. As I write this, we’re back to more normal temps of around 85-90 and only small afternoon thunderstorms.

All this heat and rain misery made me decide to start reading a book I got at Christmas – It’s called The Big Book of Christmas Mysteries and is a collection of a ton of stories set at the festive season. Lots of favorite writers have set mysteries at Christmas and this book is chock-a-block. From Agatha Christie to Peter Lovesey, to Colin Dexter, Rex Stout, O. Henry, John Mortimer, Ellery Queen, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (and some new to me authors that I am digging), I am loving this set of stories. The pages are double-columned so its 640 pages is more like 1,280 pages– enough to keep me entertained for the month, I hope… Except I am almost to page 400 already and it’s only 8 days into the month. LOL

I am liking this collection of tales so much, I ordered The Big Book of Ghost Stories edited by this same gentleman. He has great taste in stories.

Here is the cover and the list of stories sorted into types. Hope you recognize some of your favorite writers, too. – I love the picture from the 1930s, don’t you?

On Becoming a Passionate Planner

I’ve never been a huge planner, by that I mean I don’t do much in the way of formal detailed planning. I set goals at the beginning of each week/month/year, but they’re usually quite general and loose, leaving wiggle room which I all too often take advantage of!

Back in January, feeling a bit demotivated and yes, lazy, I signed up for a planning course primarily but not exclusively aimed at writers. I wasn’t desperately excited about it, and saw it more as a necessary means to and end because I’d been backsliding quite considerably and felt I needed a kick up the proverbial. Plus, the course focused on three months at a time which felt fairly doable. Once signed up for the course, you are able to take it again every quarter if you need it.

At first, I struggled with the detail required and wondered if I’d made a huge mistake signing up. The problem stemmed from trying to do everything suggested and getting myself bogged down and frustrated. All that happened was that the rebel in me… well, rebelled.

The second quarter was a bit different and I started adapting the information to suit me. This is something that the course creator (who is absolutely excellent, by the way) stresses all the time – take what works for you and discard the rest. It still didn’t really resonate with me, and I still managed to get bogged down to the point of wanting to throw the whole thing in the air, but I’d paid in full so thought I’d better persevere.

I’ve just finished planning out the third quarter and actually feel like I’ve had a breakthrough. So much so that I’m now loving it! It finally feels like I have a workable plan. One that will (hopefully) work for me. I feel like I’m in control and that’s a really great feeling. So motivated am I that I even bought myself a shiny new planner folder to record everything in, plus a pretty new hole punch, some coloured pens, a paper cutter, and some sticky notes for the Kanban board (which I have learned to love with a passion).

Here’s to July, August and September. Bring it on! Ha! I’ll let you know how it goes.

How about you? Do you have a planning system that works for you?

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A Busy Spring

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People here would say, “What Spring.” Seriously it has been a cool wet few months here in the Pacific Northwest. But this weekend will break the long spell with temps in the 80’s.  Great timing as the horse show is here … Continue reading