Category Archives: Fall

October! My Favorite!

Jillian here. October is my favorite month of the year. I’ve always loved it. When we lived in Virginia when I was in elementary school, we’d always drive up Skyline Drive in October to get pumpkins and fresh, cold apple cider—there was nothing like that fresh taste and Florida has nothing to compare with it. Not many leaves change color here—a few trees do- like maples— but most are evergreens like pine. I love the look of bare trees in the twilight of mornings or dusk as well as in the fog. Some trees here have leaves one day and are naked the next.

Why I love October: Orange is my favorite color, the smell of smoke in the air always brings back memories of fall leaf burning, pumpkins, Halloween is fun, and the new baking shows with the fall themes are delightful to watch (not so delightful for my cravings for chocolate though) 😀And it cools off a bit here—most years, it’s low 80s at beginning of the month and 70s by end of month.

Lat year, for NaNoWriMo, I wrote a story that was inspired by my great grandmother’s name and her tombstone. Weirdly, her tombstone has her names in the wrong order which is kind of wild—I can only imagine they didn’t have the money to fix it when it was made incorrectly. I’ve always loved her first name. Her name (in the correct order) was Sophronia Neal Akers Richardson. The story I wrote is a ghost story/mystery. I turned in the edits this week, so I hope to have it out soon. It will be published under my other name as my mysteries are under that name to keep them separate from the romance-driven tales.

Happy October to all. Get out and enjoy some reds, oranges, fall scents and even some ghosties!

Gnarly pumpkin I bought —so wicked looking

To Everything, There is a Season…

It’s been a strange month for me. After a very active and participatory summer, things have slowed down for us. Part of that is because the pandemic has worsened in our area, though it does finally seem to be leveling off. There’s also the fact that it’s getting colder and activities are moving inside. But mostly, it’s because I had so much going on, I needed a break. Lol. The timing is right, with Fall shedding her awesome colors.

Still, it’s weird to go from so much activity to almost none. It has, though, been good for my writing. Getting lots of words in. And digging out some recipes I haven’t tried for a while, like homemade chili and hamburger pie. I haven’t made hamburger pie in years and I LOVE the Bisquick crust to it. It’s a Betty Crocker recipe and you can find it here if you’d like to try it.

 We’re finally getting some rain in the Pacific Northwest and it is welcome. We were getting pretty parched. I wish we could share it with some of the areas that continue to be dry and arid. But we did get out for some fishing before our favorite lake closed to the sport for the year.

The rest of this month is quiet, with lots of writing tasks to get through, including an intensive workshop I signed up for on newsletters. That will keep me busy as I watch the leaves turn and dark comes earlier every day.

Since this is a sort of potpourri month for me, I’ll finish with my favorite quote:

“I rather believe that time is a companion who goes with us on the journey and reminds us to cherish every moment, because it will never come again. What we leave behind is not as important as how we’ve lived.” Jean Luc Picard

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What Summer?

It’s hard to believe we are already in the middle of September as in the UK we are still waiting for summer. One hot week in July and three hot days last week doesn’t cut it for the season in my book! It is not so much rain, but too many dull and chilly days, some which have almost tempted us to turn on the central heating. Oh well, little we can do about it other than look forward to next summer.

Cyclamen in flower already!

The garden too is slowly retreating into hibernation. The sunflowers, the glory of our road, are hanging their heads, the phlox and lilies, clematis, rudbeckias and carnations dying down, the fuschias over. Autumn cyclamen and plumbago are in flower already, another sure sign summer is at an end, as is the chill and damp in the air first thing, the dew on the grass and furniture. At least now we don’t have to keep watering the plants and it is still pleasant and warm enough to sit outside and enjoy our morning coffee but as the Earth tilts on its axis toward the autumn equinox, our garden is in shade by noon. Whilst I don’t enjoy this time of year, or the thought of long winter nights and lack of sunlight, I can indulge myself in my writing and painting to wile away the short days. Suffice to say, autumn has arrived.

This became most evident last weekend as I drove across the country to spend the weekend with family. It is about an hour and a half drive if one goes on the motorway, but a stressful one I do not enjoy especially now most of our motorways are “smart” (which means there is no hard shoulder during busy times or heavy traffic!). Not smart in my book, so I always take the scenic route. It takes twice as long although the mileage is the same, but is a relaxing, enjoyable drive through several pretty towns and through a forest. It was seeing the leaves on the trees already turning red and yellow and falling that convinced me our summer was over. But enough of that.

It is such a joy to be able to spend a girlie weekend with my two sisters, my mother and a niece at one of my sister’s home. To sit and chat about this and that, reminisce about those wonderful holidays we took together. It used to be on such occasions our first job once I had arrived was for us to pick out where we wanted to go for our next holiday and then go to the local travel agent and book it. It always gave us something to look forward to during the long winter months. Sadly not this year. Perhaps next. But it doesn’t stop us from enjoying ourselves. We laugh a lot, share jokes and stories as we imbibe in good wine, delicious food and great company. A relaxed, lazy afternoon in the garden, PJs on about 7 o’clock. An equally lazy Sunday until it is time for me to leave, drive mother and sister home on route, and take a leisurely, equally pleasant drive back home. The weekend refreshes us all, binds us. They are precious days, and the next one is planned for late November, weather permitting.

Cheers, girls.

I’m looking forward to it. As I am to next summer.

Kit Domino’s website and blogs

September Miscellany

Jillian here. Sorry I’m a tad late but work has been crazy lately. I don’t have a particular theme to talk about this month. I’m just going to share some random stuff.

Have you ever heard of worm webs? They are wicked looking, for sure. My parents’ neighbor’s pecan tree developed them this year. They don’t hurt the tree but they sure look like they do. It’s basically a colony of caterpillars who feed on the leaves. It can affect the fruit of the tree so my dad plans to cut the ones on his neighbor’s tree.

The cat I rescued from the restaurant in October 2019 is still doing well. She’s so much in love with my husband that she follows him around at the office all day. Whenever he takes a client in to his office, she sits outside the door, depressed, until he comes out.

I recently finished reading a book called Highfire by Eoin Colfer. I enjoyed it as it was super quirky. There was a lot of bad language and some brutal parts, but it was mostly a fun read with an irreverent dragon who loves vodka and Flashdance. All credit to the author for such a brilliant premise.

The best news for the month is a case that has been the bane of my existence finally ended in a surprise settlement. I’d been winning every step of the way, but the other side was ridiculously litigious so I was stunned when they threw in the towel. Grateful, but stunned. Then it took days to pin them down to the written document and I thought it might be a tactic as they’d lied about settling in the past, but we did achieve signatures and it was happy dance time. My client is the perfect client- she always listened to me and always paid her bill. I’ll miss that too, but praise the Lord, it’s over.

Here’s hoping everyone’s September is wonderful. It’s supposed to be 63 degrees Fahrenheit with 67% humidity (usually 90%) here tonight, so I’m pretty excited about that since August and September are two of the hottest months in our area. Happy taste of fall.

Season of Mists…

Okay, so I’m not an autumn/winter person. I’d much rather a lovely sunny, warm spring or summer day than the ones we’ve been experiencing this week here in the UK: cold, damp and pretty depressing.

That said, today’s doggie walk was really atmospheric. I’ve blogged before about how much I love our local woods and this week the early morning mists (that have lasted all day) turned them into something special.

What’s more, it got my paranormal juices a-popping. I could just see a nice juicy shifter stalking out of those trees – panther, wolf – I’m not fussy, and before long I had an idea for a new series. But, total shocker, this writer didn’t have her mini voice recorder with her, nor pen or paper to jot down my thoughts. I know, I should hang my head in shame. What writer goes anywhere without the means by which to get those often fleeting thoughts down before they are lost to the ether?

Thankfully, the gist of my idea was still there by the time I got home and I was able to scribble down my thoughts. But, lesson learned. I don’t plan on getting caught out again. The mini recorder is now safely ensconsed in the ‘walkies’ bag, complete with fresh batteries!

How about you? Do you always carry a means by which you can jot down your thoughts/ideas/plans when you’re away from home? A notebook/mini recorder/phone? Let me know how you capture those thoughts 🙂

Always Learning

So, here we are in mid November, and in lockdown again in England. It isn’t as severe as the first time, schools are still open, people can go to work and can meet others outside.  For Dave and I, life is no different to how our daily lives have been all year and in most respects, it’s been a good one. The family are all safe, the garden has flourished and kept us sane, and I’m back in writing mode with the novel, and accepted a painting commission. Now, that is a challenge for me as my client begged me to do a painting of her pet dog Lia which sadly recently joined those over the rainbow bridge.

I’ve warned her it won’t be very good as I don’t do animals and am not good at drawing but my client has become a good friend over the past years and I didn’t have the heart to refuse. I’ve spent the past few weeks practising drawing dogs and now comes the hard part, drawing Lia. I’ve only a few photos to go on, none of which are close ups, so it’s going to take a lot of improvising. I only hope I can pull it off.

The weather here is still very mild and autumn has given us all a fabulous display of colours in the falling leaves. I’m not a great fan of this time of year, particularly now the clocks have gone back and we have short days and long nights, but since I took up painting, I do look at it through different eyes and can appreciate the changing seasons much more. But my heart does sink a little when I walk around our garden.

The front is mainly bare soil now as Dave believes in taking everything out, digging the ground and leaving it fallow for the winter, whereas I believe in letting nature take its course and leave everything to die back naturally as Mother Nature intended. Many plants are thus still in bloom. I have cosmos and marigolds still in flower, my climbing fuchsia is spectacular for its first year, the hellebores are shooting up buds for later in winter, and there are even Welsh poppies in flower. Okay, so the borders do look a little untidy, but I know the wildlife and insects appreciate the cover, the birds enjoy the seed heads.The other day I was delighted to see a rare bird enjoying the garden for the best part of a day. Not rare as in uncommon, but because it is the first of this kind, a chaffinch, I have seen in the garden and I’ve been here over 40 years! The photo isn’t very clear as I had to take it through the bedroom window as every time I opened the window, it flew off into the holly tree, so it’s the best I could get.

Despite having been growing plants for over 50 years, I am still learning something new. There was I happily telling a friend about my Christmas Cactus that has decided to bloom early when she pointed out my plant was, in fact, a Thanksgiving Cactus, a totally separate breed from the Christmas or Easter Cactus most of us are familiar with. I’d never heard of a Thanksgiving Cactus so looked it up. And yes, she’s right. The Thanksgiving Cactus has different leaves, almost claw-shaped, to the other two which are more rounded, and both of these are different from each other:  the Easter Cactus having bristles on the tops of each leaf, the Christmas one has not.

I love learning new things. How about you?

November Means Veterans Day and Remembrance Day

Jillian here. Sorry this will be a long post! It’s November and since this is the month we remember our veterans—on the 11th day of the 11th month at the 11th hour, I thought I’d share some tidbits about the veterans in my own family.

My Revolutionary War ancestor was Thomas Gresham (yes, my U.K. friends, I am related to Sir John and Sir Thomas Gresham—perhaps you’ve heard of them 😁 but that’s a story for another day). One of the later generation younger sons came to the colonies in 1690. By the time of the Revolution, we’d been here long enough to become attached to this place and my five- times great grandfather enlisted in Washington’s Army at the tender age of 15. He survived that long, freezing, brutal winter at Valley Forge (got sick and lost some wages as was too ill to fight for a bit) and also survived the war- thank goodness he did or you wouldn’t be reading this post!  🙂 When I think of what I was doing at age 15, my admiration grows for this young man and all the others who stood with him.

My great uncle, William Eugene Fowler died at the Battle of the Bulge and is buried in one of the American cemeteries in Belgium. He was an army sergeant and died while in battle, but not before saving five of his men and pulling them to safety. My dad, who was a tot at the time, as he was born in 1940, loved his Uncle Eugene. My great grandmother had a portrait of him in a massive oval frame with one of those bubble glass fronts. My dad would carry that thing around even though it was as tall as him. Thinking about the sacrifice Uncle Eugene made—saving others— without regard to his own safety, makes me proud to be related to such a brave man.

My dad enlisted in the Navy when he was still in high school and left for boot camp a few days after he graduated. He was already engaged to my mom. His mom and dad moved from their farm into town while he was gone and he didn’t know where they lived when he got back. And my grandmother had gotten rid of all his civilian clothes as she thought he’d always be in uniform and wouldn’t need them. 😁 —he served during the Vietnam era and volunteered to go over, but he wasn’t allowed as he was a weapons instructor and was needed stateside to train the young me who would go. He’s always felt a little like he cheated by staying in the USA. This is him below:

His younger brother, Robert, always wanted to be in the Air Force. He was a fun person and a real ladies man. I remember him well even though he died when I was almost six. He injured himself in boot camp and was told he was going to be shipped home as his back injury was so bad, he wouldn’t be able to serve. Despondent that he’d never have the life he’d always dreamed of, and with no loved ones near to help him, he took his own life. It was terrible and so sad. My dad was the one who had to tell his father as the Navy commander was contacted by the Air Force as they had the records that Dad was his brother. The commander called my dad into his office and told him.  My poor dad had to make that terrible phone call to his father. My grandmother was never the same. Her bible, at her death, had so many notes in it where she was praying on paper for understanding of the death of her fourth son. I share this to say I don’t consider my uncle a coward. I consider the pressure he was under and the loss of his lifelong dream as the impetus for his actions. If only there had been the kinds of services we have now for counseling back then, I think he’d still be here.

And lastly, my nephew, Kyle ____ (his middle name is Eugene), who is very much like my Uncle Robert, charming, fun and a ladies man (they even look similar), is currently serving in the Air Force. It’s like we’ve come full circle with him and my uncle. Kyle is following Robert’s dream. Maybe not exactly the same exact dream, and we hope the ending isn’t the same, but I do find it comforting that Kyle found his own path, that included military service, and has been following it for more than 12 years now.

What about you? Any stories to share about loved ones who served in your branches of the armed forces?

Ode to Zack

Cars… I’m notorious for keeping mine until it gives up the ghost and the truck comes to tow it away. I purchased my little Toyota in 2005 and named him Zack. He has been the best car. Okay, he grumbles on occasions, his brakes are not the quietest, and my passengers are basically horizontal thanks to the dodgy mechanism on the passenger seat. And he has more knocks and scratches than I can count. But never once has he let me down, and we’ve travelled some miles together over the years, I can tell you.

Zack has suffered my rants, my woeful singing as I joined in with Bruce Springsteen’s anthems, he’s learned some pretty colourful language during those times when I encountered less than mindful drivers, and he’s listened to me rabbiting on about plot points and characters who refuse to do what I want them to do. He’s heard all about my worries, and my hopes and dreams.

Sadly it’s now time to say goodbye to my trusty four-wheeled friend. I’m needing to do quite a lot of long-distance travel and AJ was worried about the toll on old Zack. Oh my, it was hard letting him go, but I know it’s for the best and I already LOVE my new four-wheeled baby. Not that I didn’t initially put up a fight and voice all kind of objections: he’s easy to park, he’s SO reliable, he nips in and out of traffic like a little mechanical ninja. But eventually, my head won out over my heart.

So it was with a heavy, but grateful heart that I bid farewell to my trusty steed. All that’s left for me to do is thank him for all those incredible years of safe and reliable driving, wish him well, and bid Godspeed to those who are lucky enough to travel with him in the future.

How about you? Do you get attached to your cars? Do you find it hard to let them go? I’d love to hear that I’m not alone in this. It would help to know there are other crazy car lovers out there.

Gallery

Busy November

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Jillian here. Happy November. This month is chock full of happenings. The first weekend, I spent with writer friends at a lake house about 2.5 hours from me. My friend’s uncle owns it and he allows her to use it … Continue reading

Hobbits, anyone?

Anyone who knows me knows I’m a bit of a J.R.R. Tolkien fan.  I love The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy. My brothers are the same. We’ve each read the books, ahem, a few times. And we went together to see the movies. I even sent them quiz questions for a week before the movie premiere. 🙂

Since I have yet to determine a way to visit Hobbiton, in Auckland, New Zealand, that doesn’t involve a 14+ hour plane trip (which I may still make one of these days), I have to get my thrills locally.

I haven’t been there yet, but there’s a hobbit house in Washington State. And, get this, it’s an airbnb rental! If you want to read more about it and see pictures, check this blog:

PNWBeyond

Recently, I found out there was a real, live, hobbit house within easy driving distance, at The Brothers Greenhouses. So on a nice, sunny, warm day in mid-October…yes, Washington State gets sun in October…we took a drive with friends to check it out. And it was a blast. It’s tiny inside, not fully built out, but the door and the ambiance were amazing. After touring the tiny home, we sat enjoying the sun, then strolled through the many greenhouses filled with plants, as well as the gift shop, with all sorts of little hobbit and fairy village trinkets to purchase.

 

I did purchase a little something for my tiny whiskey-barrel hobbit house. A miniature whiskey-barrel (not pictured). 🙂 A little memento to make me smile. This was so much fun.

IMG_0342

Oh, and just as exciting…okay, maybe more exciting, my newest romance novel, Rudy’s Heart, released last week. You can find out more about it on my website.

Have a wonderful November, everyone. And, for those who celebrate the U.S. Thanksgiving, have an awesome, tryptophan-filled, tummy-stuffed day!

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