Monthly Archives: August 2014

Summer Puppy Fun

I thought it was about time for a puppy update. It’s been like a conveyor belt of guide dog puppies here in the Jones’ household this summer, and as one has left another bundle of fun has arrived, sometimes within a matter of hours.

Whispa playing with toys at four months

Whispa at 4 months playing with her favourite duck toy

First came four month old Whispa, a Golden Retriever. What a little whirlwind! She came with the remnants of an ear infection, but would she let me put her drops in? Not on your life. It took two of us to coax her to sit long enough and that was only with AJ holding tight to a biscuit so she could nibble it and get her mind off what was happening.

Beauty and Zoe

Beauty and Zoe waiting for dinner

Then came sisters Beauty, a 10 month old Lab/Retriever, and Zoe, a 10 week old black Lab. They were probably the most laid back puppies we’ve ever had. We hardly knew we had Beauty and little Zoe wasn’t fazed by anything. They gave us a lot of laughs though, especially when Zoe tried to steal Beauty’s food.

Whispa

Whispa 5 months old

Whispa returned for a weekend. She was okay at first but then we noticed she kept going outside every few minutes to try and relieve herself. After she was very sick in the garden we shot off to the vet. They wanted to keep her in overnight for a scan and x-ray. We drove home through probably the worst thunderstorm for years and spent a relatively sleepless night worrying about our little charge. We were able to collect her the next day having been told she had a nasty bout of cystitis. Poor little mite. But in the way of puppies, after a few shots of antibiotics she was racing around as if all was well in her world again. Phew.

Emily with stick aug 14

Emily with stick Aug 14

Then along came Emily. Eleven months old and the sweetest little girl. As you can see, her favourite thing is collecting sticks – the bigger the better! She bonded with AJ almost instantly and followed him around all week. Every time he left the room she would look at me as if I were personally responsible for his absence. Then came the crying, pitiful weeping that might have had the neighbours wondering if we were beating her or something. As soon as her hero returned, she would be all sweetness and light again.

Whispa came back again, this time with conjunctivitis! Remembering the trouble we had with her ear drops, we braced ourselves for eye drop time. She sat there as good as gold and let me do the necessary without any fuss whatsoever. Go figure!

Tia Aug 14

Tina in full ‘lady’ pose

As I type we’re looking after our friend’s golden Labrador. Tia is such a gorgeous girl…I’ve just realised, all our canine lodgers this summer have been girls! Tia is now five years old and quite a lady. We’ve had her several times before and when we’ve had puppies at the same time, she helps with any discipline required. She tells the pups in no uncertain terms when they’re overstepping the mark and really puts them in their place. She really is a golden girl!

We have a break now for a few weeks, that is unless the phone rings and our supervisor dangles another little cutie in our path. AJ is hoping for a boy next time 🙂 Although secretly I think he loves his adoring little girls following him around. Big softie that he is!

Simple Pleasures

Hubby and I were walking at a local park a while back and came across a family stopped in the middle of the path. Their son, who looked to be around 5 or 6, was crouched down, with a small branch of red berries in his hand, staring at something.

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As we got closer, we saw what he was looking at and I just had to take a picture (with his parents permission, of course.) You see, he’d found a banana slug trying to make its way across the asphalt path. And he’d decided it needed decorating, as shown in the picture below.

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Ah, the simple pleasures in life, eh? His parents beamed like he’d created a masterpiece. Hubby and I chuckled our way through the rest of the walk, talking about the simple things we used to do as kids for fun. Like using cardboard and old wood to make forts that must be defended. 🙂 And how about tossing blankets over dining room chairs to create an indoor fort? Or using an old jar to catch bugs in. Then, to Mom’s disgust, tearing up her flowerbed to make a muddy roadmap that our toy cars and trucks could travel along. (I was a bit of a tomboy growing up…played more with my brothers than my sisters, I think.)

What about you? What did you have fun with when you were growing up? Whatever they were, I hope you are still enjoying some simple pleasures in life.

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AUSGUST

Sorry I missed my blog last week. Don’t even have a good excuse!! Is summer flying by or what? Today we went to our first fall softball game—honestly didn’t we just finish the State Tournament? But it was a beautiful, … Continue reading

Patio Project

imagx4eWhew, finally done. I started this project the end of February and finished July 24th. We ran into delays, like no kidding. Five months worth of delays. First I wasn’t sure what I wanted, a covered patio for sure, but after that…??

I called a local landscaper, which turned out to be the best decision ever. They came out and cleaned up the yard that hadn’t been more than weeded for a few years. I was amazed at how much they did. Like two big pickup loads. It was hard to tell as they had a big truck and they were here two days. Then they sent a landscape architect who drew up a master plan for the yard that included the patio and a water treatment. With the master plan I can do the yard in phases.

The trouble with doing it that way is that now I don’t want to tear up anything more. Oh well that will pass and I’ll be neck deep again.

For now I’m enjoying the summer and yard and weather. All in all a good life.

Book Review- Second Sight by Dax Varley

Jillian here. I’m posting a book review since I will  be in Paris when this is due to post. I’m afraid I’ll forget to post so I figured I’d share a book I’ve read lately. It’s more a novella but it was a quick, fun read.

I picked it up as it was a story about a teen with a bit of a magical gift and I’ve recently published one so I wanted to compare a little bit about the teen “voice” –  The main character in this story buys a pair of funky sunglasses in a resale shop and starts to “see the future” – chaos ensues.

It took me less than 2 hours to read this one and it was really an amusing break in the day. I know we all have huge TBR piles but this one is fast and moves at breakneck speed. 51kJs06+xOL__BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-v3-big,TopRight,0,-55_SX278_SY278_PIkin4,BottomRight,1,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_

 

Here’s what I said on Amazon about it:

 

 

 

 

I loved the sassy heroine. Her dialogue was great and her relationship with her friends was a neat facet of the story. I adored how she interacted with her dad. They were so cute and witty.A quick read but lessons are learned and the heroine does grow in her maturity. A great teen story

Social Media–A Privacy Buster? by Valerie J. Patterson

I was saddened to hear that Robin Williams took his own life this week.  On the surface, it seemed this funny man had life securely within his grasp.  Below the surface, there was turmoil and intense sadness.  It’s true, the world lost a very unique and talented individual.  Even more true and way more important, a family lost a spouse, a father, an uncle, a friend.  Robin Williams was more than a comedian and an actor.  He was a human being.  He was someone’s son.  Someone’s husband.  And someone’s dad.

I have been reading a lot about Mr. Williams and his war with drug and alcohol addiction, his health problems, and his struggle with depression.  I’ve read about his remarkable career, his immense generosity, and his ability to console friends not just with his wit but with his caring gestures.  However, while those articles were full of facts and accomplishments, it was an article about his daughter, Zelda that really touched my heart.  Herein lies the crux of this blog.

Has social media gone too far in removing any shred of privacy from a person’s life?

The article I read about Zelda reported that she felt forced to delete several social media accounts due to the ignorance of strangers who not only seemed to not know the meaning of personal space, but also seemed to have lost a core sense of decency.  People some how found photographs of Mr Williams from an old movie wherein he portrays a deceased person.  These people were posting links stating these were actual photographs of Mr. Williams postmortem.  They even went so far as to post them to his daughter’s accounts.

This is disgusting and beyond any scope of appropriate behavior.  Zelda publicly implored people to not click those links and to report the posters.  And then she closed her accounts.

It’s true.  Mr. Williams was a public figure.  It’s true that Zelda and her siblings had to share their father with the world.  Such is the life of a celebrity.  However, his family has the right to privately grieve his loss just as you and I have the right to grieve the losses in our lives privately.  Show some decency and some respect and some civility and some class and leave his family to deal with what has happened.

While I, personally, applaud social media for “deleting” the miles between family members and myself, I have come to the conclusion that it has also deleted privacy along with manners, consideration, compassion, and sympathy.  Not all the time.  But enough of the time to make me scratch my head and want to yell, “What is wrong with you!”

I also think people post too much of their lives online.  Individuals help to remove their own privacy by not keeping private certain details of their lives.  Social media has made this great big world a whole lot smaller.  We all have to live here.  Let’s be considerate.  Let’s be respectful.

Until next time, I hope you turn off the computer and enjoy some sunshine or some star gazing.

Slow Cooker Sloppy Joes

chefpicA friend made these for dinner and OH MY GOSH. So good! I had intended to make them for a family dinner before posting the recipe so I could get a picture but didn’t get to it, and decided not to wait. She made a smaller portion then I will. I’m thinking maybe increasing it by 4 times so instead of 1/2 lbs of ground beef make it 2 lbs. She said it freezes really well. Umm maybe 4 times won’t be enough. 🙂

Ingredients:

1/2 lbs ground beef (browned and drained)
1 pkg onion soup mix
1 cup Ketchup
2 TB Brown sugar
1 cup water

Combine and cook in crock pot for 4-6 hours.

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It’s August and I’m not Ready

I can’t believe that it’s already August. Time is moving so quickly. The weather here in Western Washington is hot, so much so I now wish I’d put in air conditioning into the house, but then again, I’d probably freeze … Continue reading

August Already? Really?

Jillian here. Is it just me or is this year speeding by? I can barely believe it’s already the 8th month of the year. Wow.

Exciting things coming up this month. The first was I got my cast off and am healed and for that, I’m grateful. The second is that I’m heading out on the 13th on a mother/son adventure to Paris. I’m excited but a little torn about it since I always, always have some craziness at the  office before I take off on a trip like this so I’m wondering what that’s going to be (lol) and I’m also dreading that long overnight flight. I absolutely love being new places and exploring wonderful things  but man, I hate the getting there part.

Anyone have any advice on what not to miss in Paris? I know all the major things but maybe some hidden jewel? I’m looking forward to picking up some Napoleon research books as I may be participating in an anthology commemorating the 200th anniversary of Waterloo in June of next year. I’ve  been invited and I accepted but I need to write the story by December so we’ll see (no contract signed!) how I do. I think I can knock it out since it’s only 20,000 words (yeah right, ONLY). th

And pictures, of course I’m looking forward to playing with my camera and getting some great shots.  Son and I usually compete with our photography on trips. We both love it so.

RNA Conference July 2014

A few weeks Tricia and meago Tricia and I ventured up north for the 2014 RNA Conference. It was a pleasure to be driven for once, and thanks to Tricia’s skilful driving we arrived relaxed and rearing to go, if a little late for afternoon tea with no thanks to the motorway traffic, miles of roadworks and an incident that had blocked one of the two lanes through the roadworks.

The venue this year was Harper Adams University near Telford, Shropshire, an agricultural college where we were lulled to sleep by the wafting smelly air from the pig pens – good, healthy country air, as my mother would say. That aside, the food was exceptionally good, all prepared and produced at the college, and here I was even brave enough to sample goats’ cheese, which was excellent. I had always imagined it to be strong tasting and overpowering; it was quite the contrary.

Our quarters were in the student residence halls. My, student digs have certainly come on some over the years! A comfy bed, decent furniture and wardrobe and en suite bathroom, with every-thing else required (irons, kettles, fridges, etc) in the communal kitchen areas, where much socialising (and drinking) took place well into the night, with the exception of our first evening. Many had settled themselves on the lawns outside our halls for a picnic party. Too tired to join in, Tricia and I retired to the kitchen for a quick nightcap and left the youngsters outside to enjoy themselves. One of the main attractions of these conferences is catching up with old friends, finally meeting people perhaps only ‘spoken’ with via the internet, and talking and chatting to like-minded people – the mingling.

Bunny came too. He was happy staying in my room and reading.

Bunny came too. He was happy staying in my room and reading.

This was the first RNA conference I had attended for several years and had learned through experience not to attend every talk and workshop I could in the hope to glean and gather as much help and information on the rocky road to be being published. That’s something we all do as an aspiring writer when we first begin but that had always proved far too exhausting. One finds after a few hours, the body and the mind sags, the brain goes into shutdown through overload and you come away often more confused than when you started; so this year I paced myself, giving many of the talks a miss, particularly the first one after breakfast and lunch.

Thanks to the beautiful weather we were blessed with all weekend, I took myself off for long walks around the campus during this time, finding beautifully kept flowerbeds and lawns and quiet areas, a large lake with weeping willows and gliding ducks, fields of sheep, a game of cricket in progress, and a chatty, friendly man who told me lots about the work the university does.

I’d also noticed a step gear change in the RNA this year, something I was surprised by. Listening to the speakers at the talks I attended, there was definitely an undercurrent of unrest amongst the committee members which centred on self-publishing. This was evident in the fact that Amazon Kindle sponsored the drinks parties, many of the talks were geared towards being self-published and how to get your books into book shops, and a talk given by an editing company clearly touting for business from authors looking to self-publish. These seemed at odds against the recent vote taken within the RNA whether or not to allow self-published authors membership, which had resulted in a ‘no’.

It was all a little disheartening really. I came away without the usual buzz of excitement, with no inspiration or eagerness or that compelling draw to the wordprocessor to write that usually follows these events. The only positive I gained was attending Tricia’s Yoga for Writers workshop as the final event of the weekend. She has such a calming voice, is an excellent teacher and the many exercising and techniques we did left me feeling refreshed, relaxed and calm after what was a busy, noisy, weekend. I will certainly continue her regime.North Wilts chap at RNA Con 2014

We enjoyed ourselves, there’s no doubt about that, and came away loaded with books and treats in the goodie bags given to everyone. After a leisurely, trouble free drive we arrived home safely, if tired. I’m glad Tricia encouraged me to go with her. Will we do next year’s? I’ll think about it.