Monthly Archives: July 2017

The more things change…

When AJ and I travel, we almost always carve out time to visit the local art gallery and museum. During a few days in Derbyshire, we found a small art gallery in the city of Derby virtually dedicated to a famous local 18th Century artist, Joseph Wright. We didn’t know much about him or the art of the period, but we were lucky to visit at a quiet time which meant we had what amounted to a private tour of the room housing his paintings.

Our guide was incredibly knowledgable about Joseph Wright and pointed out many things in the paintings that I’m sure we would have missed if we hadn’t had the benefit of his expertise. Here’s a link to the gallery if you’d like to see some of the paintings.

Joseph Wright was considered the first professional painter to express the spirit of the Industrial Revolution and was famous for his use of light and dark in his paintings, especially favoring subjects portrayed by candlelight. Some absolutely stunning work.

But what caught my attention was the artist himself. An amazing creative, with absolutely incredible talent, he was prone to fits of depression and doubts about that talent. During one period of his life, after he had produced paintings such as A Philosopher Lecturing on the Orrery (see link above), and having received bad reviews for some of his work, he became really disillusioned with himself and his art and stopped working completely.  He wrote:

“I have heard nothing but humiliating observations on my paintings. which have tended much to the inactivity of my pencil for sometime past. What a mere machine I am become. Depressed and renedered useless by a little censure and put into motion again by a little flattery. I really believe my enemies might persuade me I have no pretentions to paint. What a thing have these weak nerves made of me.”

Food for thought for all the creatives out there, because I’m sure we can all understand these feelings. How many times has a bad review or negative response to our own work made us put down pen, pencil, brush, needle, etc? It’s comforting to know that we’re in good company, and that even the greats suffered through periods of procrastination when they felt their work just wasn’t good enough.

Some things, it seems, never change.

Tricia’s website

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BIG Birthday

On 30th July I will be 70 years old! Wow!! I wondered what other key events happened in 1947, my birth being important to my family but what mattered to the world at large. Google enabled me to find a site which listed several key things: The Kon-Tiki Expedition; India and Pakistan became separate Nations; The Cold War started between East and West (lasting 40 years, more than half my lifetime); Sound Barrier was broken; Polaroid Land Camera demonstrated; Bell Laboratories invented the Transistor; UK Coal Industry was Nationalised; US “Marshall Plan” for Europe was announced. Many other things too but some of the above affected my life in subtle ways and the repercussions of others are still happening.

I remember my first radio, a Roberts transistor radio in a red case on a turntable to get best reception, key moment for me. The Polaroid camera I had in the early 70s, some family photos still remain though faded. The Cold War hung like a dark shadow with the threat of nuclear war and the strange information leaflets telling us to get under the kitchen table covered with a thick blanket! Oh and to stockpile tins!! Unbelievable today.  My children have asked me at times if it was a real threat, it was.  Everyday life continued but amongst some of the current world events it now seems unreal. I am sure some of you will have similar memories.

Normally zero birthdays don’t bother me, like any other birthday there is the promise of a new year ahead with good and bad things, rough and smooth patches but continuing friendships and creating new memories. Three score years and ten are somehow different! So how am I celebrating? I had my wonderful trip to Venice. Next there is a month long list of events with friends and family so how lucky am I? Lunches, dinners, visits and treats with dear friends, these have begun already! Our yearly choir concert was a marker for me of the past year’s health challenges and the support the choir have given me. It was a huge success raising £750 (not sure of dollars sorry) for a children’s bereavement charity called Winston’s Wish. We were ecstatic so went to the pub to celebrate! Yesterday a friend organised a Cocktail and Afternoon Tea, very British as we were in a marquee in the pouring rain! An Italian Meal with yoga friends Tuesday, Supper at a local pub Friday with my Book Club, lunch with darling Trisha at a Lavender Farm will be special. A big family get together in August when we can all be together, three generations of my family. On the day Peter and I have decided to have a quiet time of reflection, special meal at home and just enjoy the fact we are together after 45 years.  Seriously, I do feel very lucky and blessed.

Thank you too for reading my ramblings and your continuing support.

Road Trip 2017

IMG_0757Last year Linda, a friend from school, and I went on a road trip taking a southern loop that took us down through Oregon, California, across to Phoenix, then up to Vegas via an old ghost town, Oatman. This year we decided to take a northern loop. We didn’t think anything could top last year but this one measured up.

This year we went across Washington, Idaho, Montana. Dropped down through Yellow Stone National Park, then into Salt Lake City, across to Reno and up to Bend Oregon. We tried to time the trip so we wouldn’t risk snow in Yellow Stone and miss the hot weather in Utah and Nevada. We didn’t do that. The weather was perfect until Salt Lake City where we hit almost 100 and held that heat until we were on the last day of the trip. Yikes!!!!

Weather doesn’t deter us from having a great time and we adjusted using shade and A/C. The first night we spent in Kellogg Idaho at a B&B. This is the third one I’ve stayed at, Linda’s first. LeMaison Sur Le Hill is five stars plus. I still need to do a review because I would so recommend staying here. It can’t get better. We arrived there around four o’clock and were greeted with fruit, cheese and wine on the patio. The gardens were … I can’t say enough. I tried to take pictures but they don’t do it justice. Our hosts took time to sit and visit with us making the experience even better. 68305856We stayed in the garden room but saw the other suites and there isn’t one that isn’t fantastic. Susan is an artist and it shows in the décor. Here is the link if you’d like to see pictures and read the reviews.

There is a great restaurant next to LeMaison Sur Le Hill with a fantastic menu. Before dinner we walked around town. As you can see from the picture Kellogg isn’t a bustling metropolis at least not on this side of town. But then it was Sunday evening.

I’ll try to write about more of the trip in future posts, we saw to much for just one. Next year…. Ummm something to think about.

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Gallery

FAIR TIME 2017

  It’s that time of year again­—our County Fair starts on Wednesday but this year I have to be on the Fairgrounds on Saturday.  I got a new job (can you call a volunteer position a job)—I will.  I have … Continue reading

Gallery

Happy July

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Sorry I missed last month, but I have a really good reason. I had just returned from a 23 day trip to England, Scotland and Ireland. Yes, this was a dream vacation.  I’d been wanting to do this for years … Continue reading

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Thriller Short Stories

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Jillian here.  Hope everyone is having a great July so far. I belong to the Thriller Writers Association. One cool thing about them is they don’t have dues, you merely have to be published in the genre to join. I … Continue reading

Preserving Our Planet

One of the coolest things about writing, well, anything, is the increased awareness you gain about the subject your writing about. If it’s a family history or memoir, you invariably learn more about yourself or your family. If it’s fiction, which is what I write, I try to pick an underlying subject that stretches me, makes me learn more.

I selected a schooner as a setting for the first book in my Tropical Persuasions series, and in the process of writing it, I learned a lot about sailing. Even got to spend four days on a working schooner. For Northern Lights, I learned a lot about the Alaskan indigenous people. In Show Me, I learned about the resilience it takes for a family to survive cancer.

I’ve recently branched out from my romance genre and am working on a series that is a post-apocalyptic fantasy. The further into writing this series I get, the more I want to know about what I can do to help preserve this planet for future generations. So in my spare time (yeah, right, when do we have that???) I’ve been reading blogs and checking out ways to reduce my personal footprint on this earth. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not trying to disappear, and I sure as heck want to be remembered when I’m gone. But I’ve wanted to know what things I can do to recycle, reuse, and protect.

We all know the usual stuff, like changing out light bulbs to more efficient ones, driving our cars less,  turning the water off while we brush our teeth, or using a refillable water container. Below, I’ve listed a few things that either taught me something, were an idea I didn’t know, or just plain made me laugh.

  • Stir your coffee with a stick of dry pasta (like spaghetti) instead of a stir stick.
  • Take your car to the car wash (they use less water than washing at home)
  • Use organic, homemade pesticides. Click here for one of many websites I found that talk about homemade pesticides.
  • Soap nuts as laundry detergent – I’ve never tried this, never even heard of it, but these berry shells have saponin in them, which works as a natural surfactant. Click here to read an article that talks about them.
  • Clean up with vinegar. It’s a natural way to kill bacteria, germs, and mold. Click here for an article that talks about all the ways you can use vinegar to clean.
  • Bamboo, the fastest growing plant on earth, making it more sustainable, isn’t just for floors. It’s a biofuel, can be used to make clothing and towels, even disposable diapers. Eco-friendly diapers. Wow.
  • Unplug what’s not being used. Plug things into a power strip you can turn off when not in use.
  • Use glass, silicone or ceramic dishes in oven – more efficient and reduce cooking time.
  • When landscaping, use native plants.

And my two favorite ideas for staying warm in winter…

  • Invite friends over – they generate heat.
  • Cuddle up with your honey or your pet.

It’s been fun reading about the different ways to help. I’m interested in trying the vinegar thing. Hoping it doesn’t make my whole house smell that way, though. And the soap nuts intrigue me. I might have to give them a try, too.

I hope you have a relaxing, sun-filled sun-filled summer and get a chance to enjoy everything that is good about our planet.

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