Author Archives: Tricia Jones

What’s that Smell?

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Yay! Fox Poo!

That’s a question we’ve been asking a lot lately. The sad truth is that it’s emanating from a certain Ms. Jones. And that would be Vivvy, not me! You see folks, lately we have a home that seems to smell permanently of fox poo. Too much information? Sorry, but there’s no beating around the bush on this one. Vivvy simply adores rolling in the Chanel No.5 of the doggie world, but for us humans…it’s gross.

We’ve tried everything to destroy the lingering scent of eau de fox poo, including: tomato ketchup (which leaves Vivvy looking like something out of a Hammer Horror film), soda water (which leaves us fancying a gin and tonic), and a specific spray from the pet store which turns the smell into something else entirely. Yuk.

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Enjoying a mud bath

To make matters worse Vivvy hates the hosepipe and runs to the bottom of the garden to hide under the hedge. Anyone would think I’m trying to kill her. Not that she dislikes water, far from it, and she’ll throw herself headlong into the tiniest puddle, the muddier the better, and seems to have built-in radar for the nearest stream. We’ve come to the conclusion that despite her penchant for top class canine perfume, she’s a tomboy at heart.

Yesterday, I took advantage of the good weather and had a spring clean. Flung open every window in the house, shampooed the carpet, washed everything that could be washed (including a very reluctant dog), and gave Vivvy’s toys a whirl in the washing machine. As you can see, she wasn’t too happy about that, turning her back on me to make sure I was aware of her displeasure at seeing her beloved ‘babies’ hanging unceremoniously on the washing line. But needs must.

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Look what they did to my babies!

So this morning the house (and dog) is spruced up and smelling fragrant. But since we’re just off for a walk in the local woods, I’m banking things won’t stay that way for long. But I wouldn’t change it for anything. Clean or dirty, we love our girl to bits. I just wish she’d change her perfume preferences!

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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

So, what’s yours?

I met a friend recently who, using Lavada’s brilliant new word, was suffering from the ‘gloomies’. She said there wasn’t anything she could pin it on as her life was going pretty well, but she just felt a little down and couldn’t seem to shake it off. After a long chat over a couple of coffees and a fairly large slice of cake, she said she felt decidedly better. No real surprise there, of course. A good chat with a friend can often lighten our mood, not to mention sharing an especially scrumptious, if highly calorific treat 🙂

When it came time to leave, my friend told me that she was going to clinch her new improved mood by singing her ‘happy song’ at the top of her voice while driving home. It was a song she’d learned in school, a silly little ditty that always made her feel happy. Do we all have one of those? A special song we spontaneously burst into when feeling good, or when we want to improve our mood?

I do, and here it is. Do you have one?

Let’s share our happy songs…

Birthday Girl

15 weeks old

Vivvy at 15 weeks!

It’s hard to believe but Ms. Vivvy will be three years old next week! Wowee, where has the time gone? We adopted her just under two years’ ago and she’s been an absolute joy…and in unexpected ways. She’s not only gorgeous, well-behaved (mostly) and adaptable, but she’s so friendly and cheeky that she’s got quite the reputation here in the village where we live. We’ve lived here over twenty years now and until we started puppy-walking for guide dogs we only really knew a handful of people. That wasn’t helped by the fact we were both working during the day, too. Walking Vivvy has changed all that and now we have made so many lovely new friends and we really enjoy exploring the gorgeous countryside surrounding us.

Almost 3!

Vivvy – almost 3!

Because Vivvy has loads of doggy friends in the village I wanted to throw a ‘four-paws-party’ next weekend to celebrate her birthday and invite her chums along for fun and games in the garden. AJ thinks I’ve taken leave of my senses 🙂 While considering logistics I think he might be right. One of Vivvy’s BFFs is a sensitive little girl who gets stressed about the vagaries of the outside world, and her mum is currently trying to get her to come into our garden so that the girls can play while we enjoy a coffee, but until that happens I can’t consider a party without Vivvy’s special pal in attendance. Then there are a couple of dogs who don’t like each other, one who is very possessive over balls, another who barks incessantly when he gets excited…all in all, maybe a party is a trifle ambitious.

So, I’ll be making a special liver cake (yuk!) for our birthday girl (with candles of course) and she’ll have a special outing to the seaside  (her most favourite place on earth) and extra special hugs from us.

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Proud Daddy!

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Book Review: BIG MAGIC

Big MagicWe are all creators, or at least have the potential to be. That’s one of the messages behind Elizabeth Gilbert’s book BIG MAGIC, Creative Living Beyond Fear. As a shameless believer in magic, with an interest in the nature of creativity, I couldn’t resist this book. It didn’t disappoint.

“The universe buries strange jewels deep within us all, and then stands back to see if we can find them.”

The author digs deep into her own experiences to offer an interesting, unique and witty take on the nature of creativity and how we can harness it for success in whatever endeavor we choose. It’s a chatty style, and you don’t have to wade through loads of heavily scientific or esoteric ideas to get to the heart of the book, which is basically that we all have the right to live a creative life, but have to accept that doing so will bring challenges.

There is much reference to courage, and how we have to make space for fear. Fear is inevitable on the creative journey, and where some people say you have to conquer fear to move forward, the author says to make space for it because it will never go away. She says that the less you fight fear, the less it fights back. To give it its voice, then tell it to simply sit back and enjoy the ride. And then there’s the importance of giving ourselves permission to create, and not to worry whether our work is good or bad, if it’s high art or low art, whether or not it gets stellar or woeful reviews, etc. etc. We just need to put our best work out there and celebrate our own courage at having done so. Gilbert says we “can only be in charge of producing the work itself. That’s a hard enough job” and that we should refuse to take on any additional jobs such as policing people’s opinions.

Another interesting part of the book was the notion that ideas are all around us, floating in the ether waiting for someone who is open and ready to receive that particular idea. If that person refuses to run with it for any reason, the idea will simply float back into the ether until it finds another willing, and ready,  mind. Fascinating stuff, and it certainly gave me and my tendency to procrastinate some food for thought 🙂

I very much enjoyed this book. For me, it’s a keeper.

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 🙂

What Happened to February?

Well, what happened to February? It’s gone by in a flashier flash than even January did! 20170226_111643Maybe it’s because Chez Jones has been inundated with workmen since the beginning of the year with a bathroom remodel and copious other little jobs that spun from that one big one. I’m sure you know the sort of thing I mean: the leak from the newly installed toilet that produced a waterfall through the kitchen ceiling which consequently required repainting, the drip from the mains water tap discovered when they turned off the water supply to start the work, and which had resulted in an annual water bill which was basically double the norm (since been sorted, thankfully – both the leak and the bill!), and the new bathroom spotlights and extractor fan which resulted in discovering that the whole house needing re-wiring!! Suffice to say, we are doing the re-wiring thing in stages. Our nerves (and bank account) need time to settle down 😉 But that said, we absolutely love the new bathroom and said workmen did a fab job with everything. Such a great group of chaps – artisans, all of them.

20170218_113500In other news, Vivvy is doing really well with her training. She now has her bronze and silver awards and we are currently working on her gold (although Daddy says she’s already his golden girl *eye roll*). She picks up things really fast, especially if there’s a treat at the end of it, and seems to love scent work and hide & seek games the best. I’m trying to teach her to put her toys back in the box at the moment, but that’s a work in progress. I think she wonders why her minions can’t do that sort of menial task, thank you very much. I’m also attempting to teach her the cup game, but she just knocks all the cups over until she finds the treat underneath. Something to keep working on, I think, and maybe one day she’ll be as good at the task as Snow the cat in the following video: