Monthly Archives: March 2017

Strong Women Stay Young…at least that’s the plan!

Inspired by the book by Miriam E. Nelson, I decided that this was the year I’d finally firm up the flab. In Strong Women Stay Young, Dr. Nelson writes that a simple strength training program can replace fat with muscle, reverse bone loss and improve balance and energy. Good enough for me, so I embarked on my program. I bought dumbbells and diligently began daily biceps, triceps, and trapezius strengthening exercises. But it all seemed a little too easy and, to be honest, I didn’t feel like much was happening in the strengthening department. It made me wonder if the recommended 1kg weights to start were heavy enough. So I bought some 3kg weights (my lovely mum decided she wanted in on the action too, so we got her some 2kg weights in a buy one pair get another half price deal).

Suitably enthused, off I went again with my heavier weights only to find that after half a dozen repetitions I could barely hold my arm up (and I had to do a total of 24!). Back to the drawing board. By this time, the man in the sports shop was getting intrigued by yet another visit from the pensioner with an obsession for buying dumbbells, and he asked me if I was planning to enter an iron woman contest or something. Very funny. Anyway, the 2kg weights I’ve bought now seem to be doing the trick, and they’re in a pretty shade of girlie pink into the bargain.

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I’ll let you know how I get on and there’ll be a fanfare when I move up to the 3kg weights. Oh, and you can see that the 1kg weights haven’t completely been ignored…Ms. Vivvy decided to have a little chew on the ends just to ensure they weren’t a complete waste of money 🙂

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Venice

On Monday 20th February I set off for the airport to fly to Venice Marco Polo Airport. Very excited! I met Rhiannon, my niece, we had lunch and flew off at 15.20 in fog. We were assured by Easyjet staff that our plane had extra sensors so no worries.  We landed at Marco Polo safely on time at 18.30 Venice time.  Only had hand luggage so cleared quickly and went to the Alilaguna Water Bus to Lido.  I had done this in the past but all was changed, much larger and modern!  Very exciting but dark of course and yes misty.  With the help of a handsome young official we boarded our vaporetto (water bus) at Lido for our hotel at St Elena. He was concerned that “it was dark there and did I know my way!”  Rhiannon was slightly disconcerted by this conversation (in perfect English) but I quickly reassured her that I knew where we were going.  We arrived at the hotel and I explained who we were BUT I was speaking bad Spanish instead of bad Italian!  The Reception Staff were amused by this but it set the tone for our whole stay of friendly, helpful service.  We had a wonderful supper in the hotel restaurant, with our first bottle of Prosecco of the stay, and an early night.

Next morning we were up refreshed and raring to go.  Had a good breakfast for 9 Euros each and set off. We bought 3 day Vaporetti passes which were so useful in that we could hop off and on as many times as we wanted without hassle of buying tickets each time.  That morning we walked into San Marco alongside the Grand Canal, sadly still in fog, but in good spirits. We passed the Giardini Gardens, the site of the Biennale Exhibition featuring International Artists shown in 1920s Pavilions representing the different countries staged every 2 years. It is also the start and finish of the Venice Marathon, yes a full Marathon!  We passed The Arsenale where the great shipbuilding industry was based helping support the power of Venice.   It was Carnavale which is a very special time in Venice, lots of people in elaborate costumes posing in the hope a photographer will feature them.  I spoke to several international photographers over our stay who said people queue up to be photographed free and just want a copy.  For the photographers it is an ideal opportunity to expand their portfolios.  Two of our favourite subjects are featured below, in many ways it was like stepping back in time.  Venice was packed and buzzing with excitement.  We walked miles that day until we were exhausted and went back to the hotel for another superb dinner and yes more Prosecco.  Our hotel was on the tip of the main island but in a less crowded residential area with a park and small restaurants.

I was pleased to remember my way around and Rhiannon enjoyed being guided to familiar sites including St Marks Square, the Campanile, the Doge’s Palace and less famous parts which featured Venetians going about their daily lives including the police boats, ambulances, garbage collections and delivery men all on the canals.  Everything is transported in by boat which adds to the traffic on the Grand Canal.  We walked through the Fish Market and Rialto Market, hence the statutory photo of Rhiannon on Rialto Bridge.

One morning the hotel arranged a special water taxi for us to Murano to a glass factory.  It was fascinating to see glass blowing skills in the tradition which dates back to at least the 15 century.  We didn’t buy any but it was wonderful to see.  Sadly our video didn’t come out well enough to show you.  That day we also visited the Guggenheim Museum as an antidote to the beauty of La Serenissima.

A high spot of my trip was meeting up with a friend of mine who I hadn’t seen for 18 years.  We studied together for our Masters’ Degrees, although Louisa was 30 years younger we became firm friends.  She married a Venetian after returning with her degree and now has three beautiful daughters and lives on Lido.  She lectures to Art Tours, Cruise Ships, at the Biennale Exhibition and to various visiting University student courses so continues the experiences we had.  Louisa took us to a wonderful Venetian restaurant, Anice Stellato, which was hidden away where we had one of the best meals I’ve had for a long time.

Sadly it all ended too soon.  Rhiannon will return with her boyfriend Jon and take a trip on a gondola, not something to do with your aging aunt! I think it will be my last trip but one I will treasure.  We took off on Friday 24th February in fog! Whilst I had wanted Rhiannon to experience Venice set against a bright blue sky the misty, foggy conditions added to the glamour and mystery of this beautiful city.

I’ve attempted to give you a flavour of Venice but please try to visit yourselves if you haven’t been already, if you have I hope it brings back good memories.

 

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Benches

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Happy First day of Spring. Nancy sent me an email with pictures of benches yesterday and I so enjoyed it I decided to share. This wasn’t what I intended to blog on, but I’m getting a late start on composing … Continue reading

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WHERE IS SPRING

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If you live in the Pacific Northwest you know that winter just keeps coming and coming.  Maybe, just maybe, we are past the snow but we have had more than our share of rain—and cold.  I look out my windows … Continue reading

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Is it Spring Yet?

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I’m really ready for spring. I’m tired of the cold, the rain and the snow. We’ve had a real winter in the Pacific Northwest this year, one I really don’t want to see again for at least 5 or 6 … Continue reading

Of Writers’ Retreats and Friendship

I have a very dear friend who has an uncle with a house on a small lake a couple hours drive from me and twice a year, he allows her to use it and invite her writer buds over. These retreats are in March and October. I have been blessed to be invited by her to the last three. The ladies there, for the most part are nice and we get a lot done even amongst the laughter and eating. I’ve made what I feel are some lasting friendships with several of them.

Sadly, there is one who seems to be either harder to get to know or just doesn’t care for me. I fully own that I can be overly sensitive but I have a strong sense about people and what they are feeling as well. I have highly tuned empathic skills which means I can tell a lot about how someone is feeling and sometimes take on those feelings myself.

We arrived at the retreat on Thursday and from almost from the time this one woman arrived, she was all about being gruff and unkind to me. I tried to ignore her and put it on the fact that these ladies have been friends for a while and I am the new girl. On Saturday night when she came over and joined in a conversation that she was not part of, I was okay with it. But when I said something in that conversation and she told me to stop talking, I was pretty sure about her feelings for me. Then when she added, and I quote, “In fact, you can just leave.” I knew! You don’t have to hit me over the head, lady. WOW! I was flabbergasted to say the least.

I left the room and went on the porch in tears. Then I came back in and went to get my suitcase as I was heading home right then- never mind it was 9:30 pm and I had a two hour drive.

BUT the women in the group who love me gathered round and said they wouldn’t let me go. They led me out to the porch and talked for a long time until I agreed to stay until morning. I was so glad for their friendship and that they agreed she’d been incredibly rude.

When I came back inside, the woman (and I give her partial credit for this) came over and apologized. What I don’t give her credit for was saying she’d been teasing me with all the things she’d said over the prior three days. It was most assuredly not teasing and I think she knew I knew it- it was almost as if she was seeing how far she could push me and I did take it from Thursday afternoon until Saturday night. It was not the way I envisioned the weekend going.

Not too sure I’ll be going back but I am so torn as I love, love the other people. It would be like punishing myself if I don’t go. But I also don’t want to set myself up for that kind of misery again. It’s a conundrum that I have until October to figure out. What do you think? Am I being too sensitive?

The good news is that I got 8,000 words done in a new story. This one has pirates!!!

Happy March! Jillian

Scrapbooking…again?

I think I’ve blogged about scrap-booking before. It’s hard to remember. In fact, that made me curious about some of our site statistics, so I went and looked. Did you know that Over The Backyard Fence’s first blog came out on 9/8/2010? Almost 7 years, with pretty much the same core group of bloggers, we’ve kept this conversation going. And we’ve been viewed over 35,000 times! That is pretty darn cool!

However, that wasn’t what I meant this blog to be about. I used to scrapbook photographs but I rarely print photos now. It’s just to easy to show them or send them digitally. And I can keep them organized and use much less storage space. 🙂 I do make sure I save pictures to at least two different places, though, just in case. I tend to use flash drives for my photo back. Do you print pictures? Or scrapbook?

I’ve got a lot of supplies from my scrapping days. And purchased cards have become really expensive. I bought a card for my hubby for Valentine’s Day…it was $9.99 (USD). Holy Toledo! So it seemed a perfect match to put my existing supplies and my meager skills to good use and for the past year or two, have been making cards instead of buying them. (Mostly.)

I find that I spend more time thinking about the person the card is for than if I stood in a store searching. And it’s peaceful time, time for wonderful memories to surface. So for me, this is a win-win situation.

Below are a few of the cards I’ve designed lately. Simple, but effective. And fun to make.

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I hope you all have fun hobbies for those dreary days and to make you take time from the grind of daily life. And don’t despair about the weather. Spring is just around the corner!