Category Archives: Christmas

January Hijack by Hobbes

Hobbes here. Jillian is a bit stressed over a litany of things happening in her life so I told her I’d take over her post this month—actually, I hijacked it. 😀 I know I haven’t helped her out much lately other than to sit on her head in the mornings to wake her up, knock things off the table for her to pick up and constantly assist her in exercising by having her get up and down to open the door to let me out on the porch or back into the house. I’m pretty helpful that way. 

We’re in a new year now but man, did we have some adventure—well, I did—in December. 

It started the month the Sunday after that weekend they call Thanksgiving when the humans brought in the tree. I love, love the tree. I don’t know why they don’t leave it up all the time. They put this brown blanket under it and I love snoozing under the limbs with the scent of pine— or whatever that tree is—in my nose. Maybe a fir? Doesn’t matter. I love it. I never mess with the pretty baubles on it. I’m dignified like that. 

Wrapping boxes is another thing Jillian does while that tree is up. Don’t know why. It’s kind of a weird habit. She hides them under the tree like she thinks no one will see them there. She also gets a bit peeved at me while I help. I mean, she needs that tape and the scissors batted to the floor, right? And the pen she uses to write on sticky little sheets of paper is just so tempting. It rolls quite nicely. Biting the paper and sitting on it to cut it for her is also fun but she fusses at me to get off of it. Testy woman. 

The biggest adventure of the month was this small human coming to visit with his parents. He squealed every time he saw me and chased me. Little terror, he is. I tell ya. I’d get the nerve to venture out of hiding and, as soon as he spied me, he was after me. Crazy little human. He also couldn’t say Hobbes so he called me Bob. Bob? Oh the indignity. 

They stayed for what seemed forever but Jillian said was only seven days. God created the world in seven days but I bet his seven were more peaceful than mine even with all the work he was doing. 

Anyway, they eventually went home and I was able to enjoy free rein in the house again without living in fear of a tiny human chasing me and yelling, “Bob.”

Life is sort of back to normal now. They just took my tree outside after Epiphany so, I’m sad about that and about the brown blanket being back in that cabinet at the end of the hallway. 

Here’s a picture of me hiding on Jillian’s bed on my favorite blanket, with the door closed, so the Bob fanatic would leave me alone. 

Happy New Year to all. Hobbes

It’s (almost) a wrap…

… of 2022 that is. Where did it go? You may well ask, and I only wish I knew.

There’s something about the start of a new year that is exciting and scary in equal parts, at least it is for me. Exciting because of all the potential new opportunities ahead, and scary because there are things I’ve loved about 2022 that I don’t want to let go of and hope will continue with me into the new year.

No resolutions for me this year, instead I’ll be listing out my ‘intentions’ in my shiny new 2023 journal. The list is pretty long and may well get even longer since there’s still a few days left to think about things. I do a little ritual on New Year’s Eve which I really look forward to, and this year I’m adding a few new ones. We’ll be out during the evening, so I’ll get them done as soon as the light fades around teatime here in the UK.

My main ritual involves writing down all the things I don’t want to take into the new year with me … such as hurt feelings, past mistakes, fears, disappointments… and then tearing up the paper and setting light to it (this is done outside and in an appropriate container, of course). There’s something very freeing about watching those words go up in smoke, taking with them all those negative emotions. After that’s done, I write down all my intentions for the new year while burning a candle and playing some music, assisted as ever by my trusty companion, if she can let go of her favourite Christmas toy for an hour, or so.

After that we’ll grab a bottle of bubbly and head along to a neighbour’s house for some New Year merriment, happy in the knowledge that I’ve let go of the old and am ready to welcome in the new.

So, all that’s left is for me to wish everyone a very happy, healthy, safe, prosperous, and successful 2023

Oh, and here’s my choice of Christmas 2022 TV advert this year. Have the tissues ready…

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I Finally Found It!

This gallery contains 6 photos.

So this is December, another year almost over and we have had snow. Not a lot, at least not where I live, just a dusting of the powdery stuff but enough to look pretty. But boy, it has been cold … Continue reading

Merry Christmas Trees from The Richards-DAR House

Jillian here. Happy December. As some of you may know, I am a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution. My ancestors on that side of the family came over in 1690. We’re from the Gresham family in England with Sir Thomas and Sir John as two of our illustrious ancestors– they contributed greatly to the City of London. My ancestor, another Thomas Gresham, fought in Washington’s Army in the Revolutionary War. He was one of the brave souls at Valley Forge.

This past weekend, 14 members of my DAR chapter in Pensacola rode over for the Christmas tour of the Richards-DAR House. It is a beautiful home built in 1860 for Captain Charles Richards, a sea captain. It is 10,000 square feet of gorgeousness. It has a Baccarat crystal chandelier in the dining room and another in a bedroom, Carrara marble fireplaces and a cantilevered stair case, among other treasures and items of beauty. It’s now owned and maintained by the four DAR chapters of the Mobile area.

Since there is so much there, I decided to focus my post on the Christmas trees in the house this time of year. So, I am attaching those pictures here. To find more about the house, click here.

We had cookies and lemonade in the courtyard after our tour and then lunch at a local seafood place. An all around fun day full of love of history, Christmas and the company of friends.

Merry Christmas to all who celebrate.

November 2022

I went out to take some picture of the tomato’s a few days ago and snapped a picture of the boat. Since we bought the house in August when it was in the 3-digit temperatures, we didn’t take it out. Now it is perfect spring like weather, and we see boats out a lot. 

I’ve been here 5 months now and I am starting to acclimatize. Weather for sure is different from the Pacific NW. And, things you do in ‘seasons’ is a lot different. Winter is the time to get outside. My tomatoes and basil like November. There is even a volunteer tomato plant growing like a weed.  

Maybe I should string Christmas light over them.  🙂 

With Christmas coming, Kris and I are going back north. The grandkids are there so we wouldn’t be happy here without them. Plus, I’ve arranged to have the things in storage moved down here. Kris and I will coordinate the pickup in Washington and Rick/Lin will cover the Arizona end. It will be a busy December for sure. 

Wishing all of you US folks a Happy Thanksgiving this week. Oh, and if you venture OUT for black friday shopping, have a good one. I’ve only done it once and that was enough until this online shopping came into play. 

PS: Just as I started to post this blog Lin sent a picture of Harley’s first professional grooming. OMG I love this puppy

 

Nanovember

Winter draws ever nearer here in the UK and the exceptionally mild weather we have enjoyed slowly creeps down the thermometer to normal temps for November. Five days ago, the back garden was bathed in warm sunshine. We took advantage to be out there tidying, weeding, putting pots to bed, mowing the lawn and pruning a few shrubs. This was followed by mid-morning coffee enjoyed on the patio – a first in November for us. Today, the difference is apparent. The sun has reached a low in the sky meaning the back garden is now in permenant shade until next March. I try to keep smiling and keep busy. It is the only way I can cope as I hate winter and the cold.

And busy is what this past month has been as with no excuse to spend time outside, I keep writing. Writing, writing, writing for NaNo (I’ve decided to call this month Nanovember!) a 10-week writing comp, and other items including blogs, reviews and next week an article for my art group’s website. And, of course, painting, with my latest effort framed and hanging on the wall at my art group’s venue. I am pleased with it and have begun a larger version, although at present that is not going well and I will have to start again. As long as it is ready for next year’s exhibition, I am in no rush. Called “Clifton Autumn” it is of the famous Bristol landmark Clifton Suspension Bridge.

It is also the time of year when things have a habit of going wrong for us. Two weeks ago, our new large-screen TV broke down yet again, the second time in less than twelve months. As you can imagine, Dave was not happy. It was taken away to be repaired a week ago on the promise they will give it priority. We are still awaiting its return. I would rather the supplier replace it, Dave wants to give it a second chance. As he is the one who watches it most, he is a huge sports fan especially cricket and rugby, it is his decision. Meanwhile the bedroom TV, small screen, half the size of the other, is assigned to the lounge so we are not without. Unless we hear today, I feel a rather irate phone call will take place.

Yesterday evening Dave was in a rare mood to go non-food shopping, which we did. Among other items, we purchased a set of 3 stoneware casserole dishes of different sizes. Not cheap but needed in order I can stock the freezer with ready-cooked meals for over the Christmas holiday as I have taken to bulk cooking with my Instant Pot, which I love. Back home, I took the packaging off to find the largest dish had a long crack along the bottom which was not apparent when we took it off the shelf. This morning, Dave is back at the mall to get a refund.

We are waiting for the next thing to happen. It always comes in threes for us. My money is on the heating boiler, his on the tumble dryer or washing machine breaking down. I hope it is none of these but all three are getting on in years, a bit like the two of us!

Did I mention Christmas? Yes, it is all around us already. Shops full of festive food and Christmas ornaments. Television advertisements full on. And near to us, a house has its outside decorations up and lit at night already. And why not. It brings delight and cheer to the people to see, it is something to look forward to in the dark and dreary days. My mother has said she wants to come to us for the holiday. We would love this as she has not been here for 2 years but I fear our stairs will be too much for her. Dave has said if she comes, he will buy a Santa outfit to wear when we go and collect her. She would love that.

Meanwhile, I wait with bated breath for the carols to start, and whilst waiting, I must get on and paint this year’s Christmas card. I hope I haven’t left it too late to get it to the printers in time. Wish me luck.

Kit Domino’s websites and blogs

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

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?

Kindness, the greatest gift…

I hope you and yours have enjoyed a very happy, healthy, and safe festive period. It’s been another season with restrictions and cancelled/curtailed events, but I hope you managed to find some good times and reasons to celebrate even with the limitations placed on us right now.

For my December post I usually like to choose a favourite Christmas Ad shown here on British TV. As Kit said in her recent blog, the pickings have been light this year, but I did find one that spoke to me on an emotional level. I hope you enjoy it. It seems an appropriate way to round off my 2021 posts here at the Fence. Here it is:

Wishing you the happiest, healthiest, and most prosperous New Year. Let’s hope 2022 is a good one all round.

www.fayeavalon.com

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December 2021

The older I get the faster the years roll by. It hardly seems possible I am posting my last blog for the year.  And, today is the Winter Solstice. I am always ready for this day because tonight is the longest … Continue reading