Today’s post is a little different as I want to bring you an update on my great-nephew George’s progress, as many have asked how he is doing. Whilst he grows into a strong, always cheerful teenager who adores his younger sister, his favourite thing in life, apart from eating fish and chips, is surfing. You might wonder how this is possible with his physical disability but I hope the following video will tell all how marvellous and generous in both time and money people at the Wave Project are in order to help lots of people in a similar position to George, children and adults, enjoy a more fulfilling life.
The video forms part of an informative advertisement by the Wave Project in the UK where George and his family live and feature in this film. George is featured right at the start and in several places throughout, and my nephew’s wife, Nicky, at 5.22 and 13.22. mins in sharing how the team at the Wave Project helped her and George achieve this.
I hope the video link works and that you enjoy watching it in its entirety.
Sometimes the best-laid plans go awry, as mine did this very day. I had planned to spend it writing: first my post for OTBF, then the remainder of the day working on my novel. The morning started out well until the phone rang. It was my doctor’s surgery calling to rearrange my regular blood check. As here in the UK we are plunged into a booster jab panic I was fully expecting this call informing me the scheduled appointment for this Friday coming, was cancelled. Instead, it was moved to today. This morning. In an hour’s time. Fine. The test had to be done, so be it. As my day was now disrupted, I decided to afterwards drive to a different supermarket, hoping to find a few things needed that our usual shop had been out of stock of for some weeks, and thus write my blog post this afternoon.
Walking swiftly around the supermarket, glasses steaming up because of my mask, I literally bumped into a work colleague I hadn’t seen for what proved to be 25 years! We had a lot to catch up on, so we agreed to go for a coffee in a nearby coffee shop. Coffee turned into lunch, and I didn’t arrive back home until 3.30 this afternoon (you know how it goes!). After sinking a cup of tea made by Dave upon my return, I confess I fell asleep in the armchair. So here I am now, at 7pm writing this in a sprint session. But what to write?
Other than today, it has been a quiet four weeks, with little going on here, no gardening to do, art group closed for the holiday until 7th January. I have managed to complete the painting I had started at the group. It turned out well, I think. Called “L’Etang Bleu”, I hope you like it, it’s the last I shall be painting this year.
Talking of Christmas… for the past 22 years, since my father passed away, my mother has always joined us for a week over the Christmas periods. She’s always enjoyed it with us as we don’t make a fuss for the simple reason neither Mum nor my husband enjoy the festivities and it is always quiet and calm here. This year and in future she will not be coming as although she’s okay and quite independent for 96 years old, she can no longer manage our stairs and we have no downstairs bathroom. Last year was difficult for her, so this year it will be just Dave and I.
As it will be only the two of us, last Friday we agreed we wouldn’t bother getting the tree out of the loft. The next morning a gift arrived for us by post. We had no idea whom it was from as the included card simply said “Love from Santa”. It was a real tree, complete with baubles, decorations and lights. I had an idea it was from our daughter who, a few days later confirmed it was, bless her. A lovely, thoughtful choice. After the holiday, we will pot it up in the garden for next Christmas.
This season, sad to say I have found the Christmas adverts on TV rather poor, most are boring and unimaginative, with the majority repeats from last year. There has been only one we’ve liked, an amusing one from Aldi supermarkets. It’s a play on Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Here’s the link.
This weekend, I am driving to Reading to spend a girlie weekend with Mum and my two sisters. These get-togethers are always enjoyable and it will be good to see them. Some of the shopping today was for supplies for this including the wine and cheese.
And because it’s Christmas, we must have a carol. Someone asked me the other day what my favourite one was. My two all-time favourites I’m sure you already know: Silent Night (sung in German) and an old German carol I’ve posted in previous years. There is another one I love, Little Drummer Boy, though I’m not sure whether it is classed a Christmas carol or purely a Christmas song. I do love it and always feel a little blubbery whenever I hear it.
My next post will be in the New Year. Let us all hope 2022 will be so much better than the last two and we can all get back to real normality. Whatever you are doing over the holiday season, enjoy, have fun, and most of all, stay safe.
It has been a busy month for me to date, leading up to my art group’s 25th Annual Art Exhibition. I was delighted when the committee asked if they could use one of my paintings (“Sunflowers”) on the advertisement poster, placed in local newsletters, on many sites and pages on the internet, and in local shops and libraries.
For me this year, the hardest part was in deciding which paintings to put on show. I hadn’t painted much these past 18 months and several I had done, I had scrapped – they were not good enough for me, which did not leave me a lot of choice. There were seven I considered, finally whittling it down to five. Two were on stretched canvas so didn’t need to be framed, the remaining three did. My usual supplier did not have a lot in stock but eventually I found three which were perfect.
The exhibition had to be cancelled last year and with Covid restrictions still in place it was a tough call as to whether this one would. One thing was definite: we would not be able to put on refreshments for our visitors, a great shame as this draws people in, makes them stay longer in the relaxed atmosphere, creates conversations and makes friendships. We worried we would not get many visitors. It also meant money raised from teas/coffee/cakes etc would not be made. We charge a minimal entrance fee, run a raffle of professional artists’ work who have demonstrated or taught at our group, exhibitors are charged a small fee for each artwork shown; and take a small percentage of sales. Once fees for the room hire for the weekend are removed, what remains goes to our chosen local charity, this year our hospital’s Long Covid-19 Research Project, a subject close to my heart as one of my nieces, a nurse, caught the virus last year whilst nursing and is still suffering long-term effects.
We were amazed by the number of people who came through the doors over the weekend: 164, mainly on Saturday. Sunday rained and of course the Euro Cup football final was on so this kept visitors away. Also pleasing was the number of paintings were sold, almost £1,000’s worth. Unfortunately, unlike other years, none of mine sold this time although everyone expected the sunflowers and the jaguar to sell, but I am far from not downhearted. It was lovely seeing fellow members’ work selling, especially some who despite having been painting for many years had never sold anything before. Along with the raffle raising nearly £300 it meant once deductions were made the charity will receive a cheque from the club for about £800. We call that a success!
Here’s a few snaps taken by me of my paintings and a bit more of the exhibition.
Many writers use an alias or nom de plume, or in my case also a nom de pinceau. This initially was unintentional. I’ve never liked my real first name and had suggested I publish under different one when I secured a literary agent at the beginning of my writing career. She disagreed, saying there were very few authors with my first name and persuaded me to keep it. I was fine with that.
Some years later I took up painting but begin by not signing my work simply because I didn’t know what to sign as: My full name? My initials? Something else? People began taking an interest in my art leading to a work colleague particularly keen to buy my first bluebell painting. Anxious to see what else I had created, he searched for me on the internet. That was how I discovered there was an American artist with exactly the same name as me and, more to the point, painted in a similar style. One picture he found was indeed so much like one of my own, one could argue I had copied it. Mine was a waterside view in Hampshire, England, entitled “Solent Garden”, hers of a scene either out of her head or somewhere in America. There was only one thing for it. I had to paint using a different name. But what?
I wanted something simple, easy to sign in acrylic and something memorable, something short. I spent hours wondering, then remembered one of the main characters in my first (unpublished and hiding in the bottom draw of my desk) novel. His name was “Kit”, an abbreviation for Christopher, but also for Christine and Katherine. Perfect! (BTW my first name isn’t either of those two, in case you’re wondering.) Now I needed a surname. Looking back I could have used my own, and it would have worked but the title of that story called out to me. It was “Domino”. Voila! There was my new name.
Back to my agent. Despite numerable efforts, she was unable to find a publisher for my book notwithstanding being short-listed and runner up in a major national writing competition, so we parted ways. Undeterred, I published that novel under my new name. It seemed the obvious thing to do; that way I could keep my private and writing/artistic life separate especially where social media is concerned. It stops hackers too, and halts would-be scammers in their tracks. You’d be surprised the number of times I’ve had fake emails from Inland Revenue saying I owe thousands in unpaid taxes or am due for a large rebate, or claiming to be from my bank concerning fraudulent activity on my account — you know the type of thing. The moment I see something like that addressed as my pen-name I know it’s a scam.
Having another name also means I can, as I intend to do at some stage, write about my past, which is a novel in itself and one my agent had wanted to me write as part of offering a 3-book deal to publishers. I wouldn’t be able to do that under my real name as I need to protect people the story affected, including my family.
Having a pseudonym has many advantages so if you are considering using one, go for it. You can always change it!
Whooo…sh! Where has the past month gone? After last month taking time to smell the roses, this month I can’t keep up with everything. Having switched on my “do something” button, I’ve found my lost mojo and am now in a spin with so much going on and am well and truly back on the novel writing track. But that’s not all! I’ve been inspired enough to delve into the paintbox once more, with a new piece in progress which is coming along well and am pleased with it so far. But not ready yet for the great reveal. Hopefully, that will be soon. If I’m still happy with it…
I have also been getting to grips with a new writing tool on the computer whilst I write. You would think that was enough to contend with, but oh no. All my working career I found the more pressure I was under, the more I could achieve. The busier I am, the more gets done. And to prove the point, last week saw me revamping my website/blog, streaming off the gardening section into a new separate site (Kit’s Garden). Now all I have to do is keep up with it all as well as find time to sit back, enjoy the garden, and remember where and what day it is!
Ah, September, month of mellow fruitfulness and birthdays. Lots of birthdays including our daughter’s 50th. As a special card, I made one using several photos of her over the years. She adored it, as did the two grandchildren, whose birthdays are also this month, along with a dear friend’s, my twin sisters’, my sister-in-law’s. Am sure I’ve forgotten someone. Need to check. Back in a moment … Yep! My other sis-in-law’s. Boy, am I glad this month I also finally got round to setting up an online calendar and networking it across the three computers I use or I would have forgotten her. That would not have gone down well.
On top of all this, these last few weeks I’ve been figuring out and setting up a new laptop my nearest and dearest treated me to. Poor man, he was getting so annoyed at my constant grouching how slow my old lappy was. Well over 7 years old with an ailing battery, it had been a good workhorse. Lately fit only for doing online jigsaws, not that I’ve had time to do any this month.
There have been some pauses in the pace though. We’ve had lovely weather here in the UK the past few days. Enough for Dave and I to spend mornings in the garden. Taking time to read the newspapers or a book as we enjoy a coffee in the warmth of the sun. Relax a little. Do a little weeding, a bit of idea throwing for next year’s displays. Much needed respite from sitting at the desk too much.
I shan’t be at the desk for a few days next week either, as I am finally trundling off to Reading to spend time with my mother and sisters. Hurrah! It will be the first time since February I have been further than our local supermarket and I am looking forward to the drive cross country. But not as much as seeing my siblings and mother again. It’s been too long.
The four of us intend celebrating being together for the first time since last Christmas; to belatedly celebrate my mother’s 94th birthday back in March; raise a glass to mine back in April; and as I mentioned above, to celebrate my sisters’ birthdays next Monday. On Friday I am making them a birthday cake but, shhh… don’t tell them, it’s a surprise, and knowing my baking skills, it might not turn out so well. I might have to resort to buying one!
Must dash. There’s things still to do, such a shopping. The larder and fridge are bare and the freezers both half-empty as we’ve been without a car for nearly two weeks as repairs were needed. Thankfully it is now back sitting on our drive. So places to go and family to see before lockdown swings in any tighter.
First of all, a belated happy Fourth of July to our U.S. readers. I hope you were able to enjoy a safe and sane day/evening.
This shelter-in-place has been both a struggle and a blessing. Staying home so much has been hard, being someone who likes to travel. We are not going through what some people are, and we’ve tried to help where we could. I know we’re lucky to be able to wait out this virus until they have a way to prevent it. But that doesn’t mean my head and heart aren’t a little screwed up. I have dips into depression that I have to claw my way out of. This hasn’t been easy for any of us and I’ve been trying to journal the process for me, as well as what I see happening in the world.
On the flip side, one of the ways I’ve tried to keep myself positive is finishing things on my to-do list. I wrote about the 30 year crocheted baby blanket a couple months ago. I’ve also designed and made birthday cards for the rest of 2020. I finished an art project – monthly door signs. I’ve been digitizing all our family movies that are on VHS tapes. Sorting through things in closets. Paring down.
I’ve also been completing some series. In books, I finally finished the 20 book Virgin River series by Robyn Carr. (That’s a HIGH recommend from me for any romance readers.) And, more recently, I finished the 22 movies in the Avengers series, from Iron Man (2008) through Endgame (2019). (And yes, I cried.)
I think I’ve had more contact with friends and family than ever before through video chats.
And I’ve learned that I don’t have to be go, go, going all day long. It’s okay to take a break and read for a while. To slow down on my daily walk and “smell the roses,” so to speak.
To laugh with my husband.
So there are a lot of blessings in my life. And if I can’t travel right now, so be it. What I can do is pray for the world. So I’m praying and counting my blessings.
So here we are, another month zooming by and we’re halfway through the year already with Midsummer’s Day upon us this weekend. And what a strange year so far it’s been but at least we are slowly returning to normality, or should I say most of the world is. For Dave and me, life has gone on pretty much the same as normal and we’ve enjoyed ourselves. Both in the garden enjoying the glorious weather the UK has experienced the last few months, and indoors, with the TV turned off most times as we’ve listened to music, played computer games, chatted, shopped a lot online, and generally doing not a lot. The planned editing and rewriting work necessary on my latest novel has come to a standstill. Not for any particular reason but I think most of us have during these peculiar times, lost the impetus and mojo. Mine’s slowly returning. Slowly being the operative word.
Instead, I’ve spent a lot of time experimenting and pushing myself out of my comfort zone with my art. For my birthday back in April, Dave treated me to some watercolour pencils. I don’t do watercolours, so this was a big step away from the normal. I’m still practising with them and as yet do not have anything I’m willing to show anyone but one day…
Spring brought forth such beautiful flowers this year and as you know, I love flowers, so I thought I’d paint something different from the usual bluebell scenes, painting lilacs instead after having picked a few sprigs whilst out walking and seeing many photos in magazines and online.
For this work, I painted a different way, one I’d only tried once before, that is painting in most part with cottonbuds instead of a brush. It’s a simple technique – use 1 or more cottonbuds secured together with an elastic band and dab on the canvas. I think it worked well and will certainly be using them again. Apparently, it’s a great fun way for children to paint too.
With my next painting, I pushed myself even further. I am not good at painting or drawing people but often felt my landscapes would benefit from the inclusion of figures. But oh dear! This has often led to the ruination of good work. Then last week, I saw a few photos of the new little lady in our family – little George’s (who’s not so little now) new sister enjoying a day out with her mother at one of the UK’s lovely horticultural gardens.
One photo in particular caught my eye, and because you couldn’t see Daisy’s face, I thought it a good starting point. Also, as she wasn’t fully in the frame, I had to work at drawing the missing part of her figure. I’ve included the original photograph as well as the result of my efforts and hope I have captured her as best I could for the moment.
It worked out well, although the freehand drawing of her I did as practice before committing to canvas was actually better than the one put down using the grid method. Perhaps I’m not so bad as I think! Regardless, I still need to practice my people painting skills, perhaps one day even venturing as far as doing a portrait. Watch this space… but don’t hold your breath.
See you next month, when I hope to bring you an update with news on how little George is progressing. Meanwhile, stay safe, stay happy and enjoy life.
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