My son’s place is close to where the super bowl was this year. We could see the aerial show from their backyard. It made it even better with Char and Kennedy (granddaughter and great granddaughter) visiting from Washington state. Kennedy love … Continue reading →
It’s hard to believe we are already in the middle of February, the last two months for me having gone by in a blur of family health and other matters. It’s been a hard, difficult time. One that has seen little work, either in writing or painting, produced by me, and even less housework done. But a corner has been turned and life is returning to normal. I hate winter at the best of times; spring cannot come soon enough, and it’s definitely on the horizon; that alone gives me hope and joy. Here in the south west of England, the weather is mild although the nights are still cold, little rain, and joy of joys, dawn is arriving earlier each day, meaning before long I can enjoy my early morning coffee outside in the garden. Plus the evenings are getting lighter each day. Hoorah!
Soon Dave and I can get back to our joint passion: gardening. We are itching to be outside as there is a lot to do: dead leaves, stems and plants to remove, spring pruning to be done, flowers and vegetables to be planted. I’m particularly looking forward to planting up my new flowerbed, the one where we filled in the koi pond last year. The front lawn at present is a mass of snowdrops and crocus, before long the daffodils and hyacinths will be in flower too, giving pleasure not just to us but to passers-by, especially the children coming home from school. Most amusing of all is one particular dog, a gorgeous red setter, one of a pair walking with their owner by the house every morning. The dog always stops at our drive to have a look at the garden before he will walk on, no matter how much the owner tries to pull him away.
In the back garden, everything is budding into leaf including all the clematis. I have a large collection of hellebores currently in bloom providing lots of colour around the beds; they are one of my many favourite flowers.
I am finally back into the swing of working on my current novel, the editing going well, if slowly, and as you may have seen already, produced a lovely painting of a squirrel, one I am pleased with. The trouble with painting and art is that everyone (me included) expects every piece to be a masterpiece. It is rarely like that. For each “good” painting, there are possibly 4 or 5 bad ones, ones thrown or hidden away, never to be shown to anyone. I thought this only happened to me, but recently reading an art magazine the other day, I learnt this happens to many artists. We all reach for perfection and too often cannot see beyond our mistakes, things that others do not notice.
It is the same with our writing. We angst and strive to make each word, sentence, paragraph, chapter, book, the best it can possibly be often, to the extent of losing the spontaneity and life we have given our work. It’s the knowing when to stop and let it loose on the world.
And on that note, I shall stop here to allow this post to take flight.
Jillian here. Can you believe it’s February already? Wow. It’s crazy how one week just blurs into the next. It seems like it’s always Thursday (why can’t it always be Saturday? 🙂 )
My life has been kind of limited lately. Work (my paralegal was out almost the whole month of January, so I was doing her work and mine–with help from my legal assistant- but it was still a lot), home, and taking care of a family member both at home and in the hospital. I am tired and wish I could sleep for a month but that isn’t going to happen. 😦
Funny how life seems to come in spurts- hard times seem to add more hard times, don’t they? And conversely, good times seem to multiply to bring more joy. Not much balance in my life right now– there are lots of good things, but the three a.m. bugaboos are getting the best of me. I’ve never seen so much of the wee hours of the morning than I have the last two months.
I did get a chance to go to lunch with a group of friends yesterday. The seven of us had a lovely visit and it was a much needed balm to my soul. And I had Brunswick stew which is one of my favorite things in the world. I usually eat salad for lunch but I wanted to treat myself a little and indulged. It was so yummy!
Last Saturday, I also got to judge the county history fair here. That is always fun and seeing the projects of our students is educational and enlightening. The middle school winner was based on the Clotilda. The last slave ship to America which was illegal at the time and the owner ended up sinking it to cover his crime. This is about 40 miles from where I live. It’s a shameful part of history but the families who live in Africatown are determined to make sure no one forgets about it. It is a thriving community today with the descendants of those slaves.
We held our annual winter cabin weekend with the kids and grands in January. When you total up our kids, partners, grands, and great-grands, hubby’s and my family total 22. Soon to be 23 as a great-grandson is due in March.
Eleven made it to the cabin. Since COVID, everyone makes their own decision to go or not go. No pressure. This was our 24th year of doing this and I’m so grateful for this tradition. Our family has spread out along the west US coast so it’s a time to come together in person and catch up on our lives.
And let our lives go for a little bit. No hustle, no bustle, just us. Visiting, eating, playing games, eating, painting rocks and wood and canvases, and yes, eating. (I came home and had to go on a diet!)
The cabin we usually stay in is no longer rented out, so we found a new place for this year. Smaller, but with two separate living spaces so we were cozy but not on top of each other.
I don’t know if I’ve ever relaxed as much as I did at this year’s cabin. Food prep was simple and we only left the place once, to check out a distillery in a nearby town. In fact, that’s really the only “adventure” I can tie to this year’s cabin. I had a lavender-infused lemon drop. Never had anything like that before and it was yummy!
Now cabin is over and we’ve all gone back to our lives. Hubby and I are blessed because our kids are close, not only with each other, but with us. So we talk regularly throughout the year. It’s just nice, once in a while, to gather in person, you know?
Our daughter brought this sand thing and it mesmerized us all. It’s very peaceful to just watch the sand fall. Very meditative.
Do you remember this lovely lullaby? Whenever I hear it, it brings back so many memories of a beloved aunt. I adored my Aunt Chris. She was only ten years older than me and we were very close. As a child, I’d watch her get ready to go on dates and she’d let me try out her make-up, she’d style my hair, and later when I slipped into teenager-hood she gave me loads of advice about boys. When she married I was one of her bridesmaids (that’s me in the ankle socks – stylish, or what 🙂 ) and later became god-daughter to her two babies, who I also adored with a passion.
Her husband was in the military and when the babies were still little they were posted to Singapore. It was my first taste of grief. I remember waving them off in the taxi that would take them to the airport, then disappearing to my bedroom to cry my young heart out. I missed them so much. We wrote all the time, my Aunt Chris and I, but it wasn’t the same, of course.
I remember one night I was in the garden looking at the moon and feeling sad when my lovely dad came out and sat by me. We chatted for a while and then my dad reminded me that the very moon we were looking at was the same one my aunt and little cousins would be looking at, too. It’s strange how the simplest thing can make you feel better, because my dad reminding me of that brought my long-distance family closer.
When they came back to the UK we had the biggest party. My little god-daughters were school age by then and I was well into the dating scene. My aunt picked up the mantle as if she’d never been away and we were back to the make-up, hairstyling sessions and, of course, the tips about handling guys. A skilled dressmaker, Aunt Chris soon became really busy and much in demand to make the most amazing creations for people. One day this chap I’d had a crush on for forever asked me out. Of course, I didn’t have a thing to wear! I bemoaned the fact to my aunt and when I got home from work that night, excited to prepare for my date but still not sure what to wear, there was a gorgeous pink shift dress (mini of course, it was the late sixties) laid out on my bed, a replica of the very one I’d been drooling over in a magazine. She must have worked like blazes to make that for me, despite the fact she had such a busy schedule.
Sadly, my aunt died a few years after returning home to the UK. I still feel the closeness we shared and think of her often … every time I look up at the moon.
Here in the valley of Arizona it’s boating time. When we bought the house in August it was too hot to take the boat out. You rarely saw anyone on the lake. But now even with temperatures at about 10 degree’s … Continue reading →
December has been really cold in the Pacific NW. The temperatures are below average in Arizona too but that means mid 60 and 70’s. We are supposed to get snow here today but so far it’s too cold. Kris (daughter) and I … Continue reading →
I’m a day late on my blog for this month. Actually a day and a half, since I usually set them to post shortly after midnight my time. But I had good reason. I wanted to take this month’s blog to pay homage to my Aunt Merna, who turned 92 years young today.
As a child, I remember my Aunt Merna as this impeccably dressed woman with an impish smile, a great sense of humor, and a hug for any kid within reach. She couldn’t have children of her own, so adopted all of us nieces and nephews, and there were/are plenty of us to hug.
Now that I’m older, I realize that she was Wonder Woman in a day and age where women stayed in the background. She worked full time as an administrative assistant and kept up with everything around the house. All the cooking and cleaning, etc. An independent woman.
She needs a little more help these days, but that doesn’t diminish the sparkle in her eyes or that impish grin of hers. She finds joy in each day, even though her body complains. I admire her.
Several of us got together and took Aunt Merna out to lunch today to celebrate and the woman who said she didn’t celebrate birthdays anymore ate it up, along with the free hot fudge sundae!
Happy, birthday, Auntie. Let’s do this again next year. 🙂 And a merry, merry Christmas to those who celebrate. To everyone, whether this is your holiday or not, I wish you a peaceful and happy December and entrance to a brand new year full of new possibilities.
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
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.