Category Archives: 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.

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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.

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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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It’s nearly Halloween…

So, that time of year is almost upon us again. Like it or loathe it, the trick or treaters will be out in force in just a few days’ time. I’ve got a bag of treats ready in the hope I get some little visitors this year. Last year I didn’t have one caller, which was pretty sad as I love seeing the little ones in their costumes. I blame the fact it was a rainy, stormy night which, while perfect for October 31, didn’t help bring the visitors. So, that meant I had to munch my way through a whole bag of sweets, didn’t it? I mean, what choice did I have? no point keeping them for long, not with the sell-by date so close 😉

Anyway, Halloween. Just wondering…are you scared by the thought of things that go bump in the night? I’m one of those people who love being scared but in a controlled situation if that makes sense. Reckon I could do the ‘night in a haunted house’ thing as long as there were loads of other people around, but not sure I’d survive if I was alone though.

One of my earliest memories of being terrified of the unknown came via a book (surprise, surprise). All the kids at school were talking about it, so of course, I had to read it. At night. In bed. Alone in my room. I was never the same after, LOL. The book?The Haunting of Toby Jugg by Dennis Wheatley.

The Haunting of Toby Jugg (A Black Magic Story)

This wasn’t the cover of the book I read, the original cover had a huge black spider on it (which I had to stick brown paper over so I could actually touch the book!), but to protect any spider-phobics who might read this, I used this more generic cover.

Anyone read it? Did it scare the pants off you, too? I went on to read most of Dennis Wheatley’s other books, but this one stuck as the scariest amongst them. Well, you always remember your first, don’t you?

What’s your earliest scariest memory?

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October! And a Tale of a Kitty

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Jillian here.  Happy October! My fav time of year…except this year as we are still soooo hot. The temp is still in the 90s in the day and 80s at night. We keep getting told by the weather guessers (as … Continue reading

Welcome to My November

Jillian here. I hate to say my life is dull compared to some of you. Laurie with her cider making, Jane with her bike/car adventures, Lavada with her hidden state treasures visits, Kit’s gardening and Tricia’s trip all sound so much fun. I’m here trudging along with the day to day grind. Working the day job and writing on a new story for NaNoWriMo on my lunch hour and at home in the evenings. I was supposed to go to New York City in October but my traveling companion had an emergency arise with her mother in law so we postponed.

My older son is in for a visit this weekend so that’s a very nice thing. He’s always a pleasure to be around. We both have long been Liverpool football fans and usually both watch the matches and text each other while they are being played. This week, at 6:30 am central time, we’ll be up and watching in the same room for the first time in ages. Looking forward to it.

I have a new Christmas anthology out that was a lot of fun to write. I am working on this NaNo story that’s a pretty heavy subject matter and is much slower going as the level of angst is pretty deep. My inspiration for the story is the true experiences of Oney Judge. She was a slave owned by George Washington. She escaped and he never freed her -even after his death, so she technically died a slave even though she’d been living in a free state for years at the time she passed away.

The law in Pennsylvania at the time George was president was that if a slave lived there for six months, that slave became free. A lot of owners removed their slaves just before the time ran—even for a day or two—as that act would start the six months running again. George did the same thing.  It was a shameful time in our history and I’m tackling it in this story. It’s clearly not a romance though she does eventually find happiness as the true life lady did. It’s difficult to write how the slaves were treated as less than human. I can only hope I’m doing them justice.

Happy Thanksgiving to those who celebrate. And bless the families who lost loved ones in WWI as we come up on Veterans Day and the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day. Would that their sacrifices in the War to end all Wars had been true.

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Autumn Fun – Making Cider

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This blog is probably going to be more pictures than explanation. My husband and I made apple cider this last month, and I think I drove him a bit crazy with my requests for pictures. But it was worth it. … Continue reading