Category Archives: Family

Sorting Things

You would think with all the time we had on our hands during lockdown I would have found the inspiration to do a job that has been waiting for some considerable time: that of sorting out my study, my kitchen cupboards, my wardrobes, and several large storage boxes full of notes/manuscripts/photographs/junk. But no. Although there was ample time to do it all, during lockdown there did not seem much point.

The municipal recycling/waste site was closed, as were all the secondhand shops, on-street charity collections had ceased, and we simply hadn’t the space to store things no longer wanted. You might say I’m a bit of a hoarder; well, aren’t most of us? I mean, who else has 7 frying pans, 3 saucepans sets and 4 of china, one of which is a 72 piece? A food mixer that hasn’t been used for 5 years? Who else after being 11 years retired has business suits and skirts still hanging in the wardrobe unworn since along with fancy outfits bought for office Christmas parties? Who among us has a separate wardrobe full of clothes and shoes that have never been worn? Who else has a stack of books enough to fill a town library, read once if at all, filling every spare shelf in the house? Okay, perhaps that one doesn’t count – we are all readers and book lovers here.

So, this week, I made the decision something had to be done and soon but which to attack first? A series of small events occured which were fortuitous in setting the clean-up ball rolling. My other half ordered yet another pair of new jeans which, when delivered, transpired he had ordered the wrong size,and didn’t fit. Yes, he could have sent them back, got a refund, but they were inexpensive and the cost and hassle of reposting not worth the effort to him. The next day a charity collection bag came through the letterbox. The day after I picked up a message on social media from a local, newly opened residential care home seeking books in excellent condition for the home’s library. The following day, Dave decided to buy a new television for the lounge, not that it was necessary, he simply wanted a larger screen with a higher-quality picture. Which was fortunate, as the one in my office was playing up and hardly watchable. Bingo!

The charity bag was filled and left out for collection. A large hessian shopping bag filled to the brim with my unwanted books and delivered. A larger pile of unworn/new clothes, including the jeans, appeared on the spare bed, ready for me to take to our local St Peter’s Hospice charity shop. The office was tidied, unwanted items put either in the charity bag, recycling boxes or dustbin in order to make room for the still perfectly good television from downstairs to fit in my office. All in all, productive week which has made me feel virtuous, although the kitchen cupboards and other items will have to wait a week or so. Good job I’m not in any hurry.

Meanwhile, it has been a hard month for us in some respects: lots of memories and anniversaries, good and not so good, to get through but helped by a lovely mild week here despite being mid October. Warm enough for us to enjoy 9:00am coffee outside listening to our resident robin singing amongst plants which are still blooming, a clematis in flower for the third time this year, a thunbergia in flower which it hasn’t done all summer, the dahlias still glorious, and the sweetpeas still not giving up.

Enjoy your month, whatever it brings.

Tribute to a Very Special Lady

Hi Everyone! Sorry I’ve been AWOL for a while. I’ve just been finding it hard to find the motivation to write anything, let alone be creative. You see I lost my dear mum back in July and life just hasn’t been the same.

My mum had been terminally ill and was amazing all through it. She rarely complained, except about the hospital food and the woefully small TV on her hospital ward. Of course, courtesy of Covid, we couldn’t visit her, but we were able to zoom her every day. Her first question was always how we were all doing with lockdown and checking on the family dogs. Her next question was when we thought she would be able to leave hospital and get home and catch up on her soaps on a decent sized TV! When she finally did get home we filled the day with watching those soaps, playing gin rummy, reminiscing, and having our special morning coffee with a ‘naughy’ chocolate biscuit.

Since mum passed, I’ve been taking Vivvy to the woods a lot, remembering the times when mum would join us on our walks, steadfastly refusing to allow her limited mobility to stop her. I’ve been reflecting on how lucky I was to have a mum like her. Remembering things like the time when she queued in the rain all day while I was at school to get me a ticket to see The Beatles, to the times she scoured the shops to find the exact thing I wanted for Christmas, to the times she told me never to settle for anything less than what I really wanted.

She was very supportive of my writing and used to display copies of my book covers on the walls in her hallway. I often wondered what her elderly friends thought when they saw images of half-clad couples and man chests adorning the walls. I have a lovely memory of taking mum into the local W.H. Smith bookstore here in the UK on the release of one of my books, and having to stop her from buying up all the copies. Despite that I’d already given her a couple of author copies, she insisted on purchasing one and proceeded to tell everyone in the queue at the checkout that her daughter was the author of the book she was buying and how proud she was of me.

Mum loved her family, her friends, animals, her garden, shopping, Magnum ice cream, and Chuck Norris. I think she’d watched every episode ever made of Walker, Texas Ranger at least a half dozen times! The only thing she really hated was spiders, and the thought of being a burden to anyone. As if that were possible. Those last months I spent with her were amongst the most precious of my life, and I’ll miss her every day, but I’ll be forever grateful for having this very special lady as my mum.

Rest in peace, Mum, and I hope heaven has a really huge TV.

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

Sunflowers and Daisy Fun

So here we are in the middle of August and I’m asking, “Where is our summer?” One week of high temperatures and then whoosh! Back to a typical British summer of cloud and rain and coolish weather. Still, at least all the rain we’ve had has saved us many an hour watering the garden. The garden is important to Dave and me. It’s our hobby, shared interest, the means of keeping ourselves self-sufficient in vegetables and, more importantly, the place where we can relax, ignore and forget the troubles of the world and relish in the delights of the flowers, the wildlife, the tranquility. And boy, we’ve needed that these past few months with the many health issues my family has gone through this year. No, scrap that; these last 3 years!

This year, Dave decided to grow sunflowers. Lots of them. We’ve lost count of the number of people who have stopped to look and admire them. People in cars pull over. Others have knocked on the door and asked if they can photograph them. Some just go right ahead and snap away. We don’t mind. It is a pity in some respects the schools are closed for the summer holiday as many children are missing the display, and for some reason kids just love sunflowers.

But it isn’t just the garden that has kept me going during this long, difficult year. There is my writing, and yes I am still beavering away trying to get my novel rewritten and have to admit at times the motivation and inclination have been AWOL. But the urge now is back and I’m once more into the swing of it.

And then, of course, there is painting. I haven’t done a great deal these last couple of years, but this year’s two dog commissions have kept me occupied, if again, at times the inclination was missing. With painting, one has to be in the right mood and frame of mind; at times mine was not. Thankfully, my client was in no hurry for either painting and this weekend also saw me complete a large painting in one day, one that has I think has turned out rather well. I believe that is because my mind is settled again now my family in Reading has recovered from their health problems and pandemic restrictions are lifted. Our lives can slowly but surely and with caution return to something like normality, as it did last weekend.

You may recall my nephew Gary and his wife Nicki, George’s parents, adopted a baby girl almost 3 years ago. Dave and I were included at the official adoption hearing and signing back in 2019. An official naming ceremony was planned for Easter 2020, to which we were also invited but sadly, three times this event had to be postponed because of you know what. August saw the day finally arrive when Daisy’s “Naming Day” could finally go ahead. And what a great day it was.

A naming day is a non religious, humanist ceremony performed by an official celebrant whereby a child (or adult) takes their name. The celebrant on this occasion was a man with a wonderful sense of humour and a deep sense of fun. This was confirmed by the small pots of bubble fluid and wands he put on every chair, both adults and children, to enjoy, which we did, during the long ceremony wherein her parents followed by six “guide parents” spoke their vows and committment to Daisy, and her big brother George with help from granny read out the poem “What is a Brother?”. It was lovely seeing my sisters, nieces, nephews, great nieces nephews and members of Nicki’s family we have come to know over the years, catch up on news and general conversation. It is great we all get on so well. The day was full of love, laughter, fun, hugs, delicious food and memory-making. We’re hoping the next family day won’t be too long in coming.

Kit Domino’s website and blogs

Bridal Shower sans Cake

Good morning and happy August – Jillian here.  An update on Hobbes first—He is back to this normal, crazy self and even though he can be a pill waking me up for food or to go on the porch in the wee hours of the morning,  I’d rather have him like that than when he wasn’t feeling well. Serendipitously,, I met a vet tech who told me more horror stories about that 24 hour emergency vet place – including one where they did a full battery of tests on a dog where they said it was vomiting blood and the animal had serious issues.  The truth? He bit his tongue and it was bleeding where the phlegm he was spitting was discolored.  Reiterates my decision to never darken their door again. 

Yesterday, I drove two hours each way to attend a bridal shower for a nephew’s bride-elect. It was a long trip, but worth it to see family I haven’t seen since February 2020 (the month before Covid lockdown).  The shower itself was utterly unorganized and lasted forever. I was texting my niece that I could feel my hair getting grayer by the minute. 🙂

It was a lovely venue and the bridesmaids did a beautiful job on the decoration and food. They clearly had no clue about timing, though.  It was supposed to be from 2-4 but they didn’t even tell people to eat until 2:45 and they never cut the cake! Here is what it looked like- I didn’t get a pic of it there, but this is a link to how it looked. Red Velvet Rose Cake! – CakeCentral.com  They also didn’t start opening the presents until 3:55 pm. And she got a TON!  So, my plans to get home before dark dissipated.

I really wanted some of that cake, but alas, it was not to be!  The place was beautiful even though it was a barn in the middle of nowhere. Home – The Gilded Oaks  My niece and I put the address in her GPS and we ended up driving down a road that went from pavement to gravel to red clay.  I kept saying, “This cannot be the way.” We were laughing hysterically and the road got more and more narrow–I kept waiting for the dead end— or the banjos from Deliverance. 🙂 (We have a blast every time we get together—she is more like a sister to me—we’re only 6 years apart in age) and when we got there, we kept telling everyone about this road that was not really a road and they looked at us like we were crazy. When we left, we turned the opposite way from the way we came and guess what?? It was a paved road.  All the way. 🙂

A cool thing they did was a flower bar. They had a variety of flowers in a large basket and each guest was allowed to make a bouquet to take with them. How fun was that?  Sure wish I’d gotten a piece of cake though…..

Emergency Vet? Or Preying on Vulnerable People?

Jillian here. Warning: this is long, so move on if you don’t have time. I won’t be offended. 🙂

A few weeks ago, Hobbes was lethargic and not eating on a Saturday evening. All day Sunday, he just laid in my bed and slept. He never surfaced to eat or anything. Of course, Mr. “I Need Treats All Day” had me worried but I chalked it up to his being tired from helping Mr. C in the yard on Saturday.

Monday, we all went to work, but when we got home, Hobbes wasn’t able to make a sound other than sounding like he was choking. He was also was making the cat vomit movements they do with their neck before puking, but nothing was coming out. He was clearly in distress.

#2 son and I thought he might have a stick or something in his throat and, rather than waiting until the next day to see his regular vet, we decided to go to the 24 hour emergency vet. I’d never been there before but know it cost $110.00 just to walk in the door. But this was Hobbes so I was ready for that.

The rules were you had to call from your car and then they tell you when to come in. Masks are required and only one human with the animal. We were the only ones to follow those rules as shall be seen….

When I got inside with him, they whisked him off. Before I could get checked in, this woman ran in with her daughter—no masks—and started screeching about her dog being kicked in the head by a horse. He looked alert so I was hopeful for him. They took her back to a room with her dog and her daughter. My son was sitting in the car because, rules….

While I was being checked in after the drama of the dog. A man and woman (no masks) came in holding a poodle in a towel and kept saying, “excuse me…our dog…” 

I finally got in a room and the waiting began. The lady with the dog that got kicked in head was in room next to me. I could hear her sobbing and crying with her daughter and then a man who joined them. Meanwhile, my son still sat in the hot car—running the engine so he could use the air conditioner.

Finally, after an hour—which I get due to triage— the vet came in to talk to me. She talked 900 miles a second and I could barely keep up. She asked if I knew Hobbes has a heart murmur. Nope. Never heard that before. And that became her focus. Not that I thought he was choking or something.

She left and then they brought in a plan of treatment. It was an estimate of $1,500.00-$2,500.00. I just about had a heart attack myself. She had a long list of things she wanted to do and they required $1,900.00 down right then. The tech acted a bit peeved that I needed to call my husband. Then, the kicker? I had to sign and choose between 3 methods of resuscitation. 1. None, 2. Minimally invasive (for $500.00) or 3. Invasive ($1,000.00). At that point, I wanted to vomit or cry or both. To me, they prey on people who are worried about their pet. It was vile and manipulative—both the outrageous bill and the choosing resuscitation method. But, being worried about Hobbes, I left him there and chose the $500.00 resuscitation option—it was explained they need that in case they couldn’t get me if he was in distress.

As I was at the desk paying the “deposit” a vet tech came running in from the side door screaming she needed someone to help her resuscitate the huge dog she was carrying. She was yelling “STAT” and calling out a room number.

I almost went into melt down. This place was too much for me. And I was leaving poor Hobbes there. He’s not a big fan of noise or drama. So, worried about him and his health and traumatized myself, I left.

You can only call to check on your pet between 5 and 6 am or 4 to 5 pm. I set my alarm and called at 5:10 am to be told she wanted to observe him for the day and wanted to get the local animal cardiologist in to look at his tests. She said that $500.00 the cardiologist charges was within the “budget” they gave me the night before. I almost snorted at that. HER budget maybe. Not mine. I declined. She told me to call back at 4 pm to see if he was ready to go home.

So, I did. Had to call 3 times before I could get an answer. Finally got there to get him at 4:50 p.m.  Called from car as I was still following the rules. The girl said, “Give me a few minutes.” I waited 5 minutes and then went in. She turned in her chair and in a voice like I was five years old, she barked, “I TOLD you to wait in your car.”

Stunned, I said, “No. You told me to give you a few minutes.”

She pointed to three people in lobby—none with masks—and said, “I have to wait on them first.”

“I just want to get my cat and go.”

“You’re getting a partial refund so go back to your car until I call you.” Again in that voice reserved for small, misbehaving children.  And why were others allowed to sit in the lobby with no masks, but I had one on and had to go back to my car?

It took 20 minutes for her to call. There was more dog drama while I was getting my refund- the yelling and carrying on in that place was heartrending and stressful. The emergency vet prescribed heart pills and said he’d have to be on them the rest of his life. I left there with Hobbes at 5:55 pm. And I will never, ever, ever darken their doors again.

Three days later, he was still lethargic and not eating or using the litter box. His regular vet, at his follow up appointment, said he had no heart murmur and never had. She looked at the X-rays they took at the emergency vet and said he had fluid on the lungs and was probably nauseous. She gave him a shot for the nausea and some Lasix pills to get rid of the fluid. No need for the super expensive heart pills.

By the time we got home from the real vet, Hobbes was perky and hungry as a bear. He ate a lot and wanted to go outside. It took a few more days for him to be completely back to normal and his meow was the last to recover (he had been sounding like a frog, not a cat).

What did I learn from this? That, sadly, the 24 hour emergency room staff do not care about how they treat people, don’t care about following their own rules, will gouge people who are concerned about their animals and over test and over charge. And do not truly have the best interest of anyone but themselves at heart. While I didn’t like paying the amount of money they charged me, I am lucky I had the resources to do so. What about the people who don’t? How many animals does this place put down due to the financial constraints of some of the pet parents? How many people go way into debt for unnecessary tests to save their animal? I don’t want to know. All I know is, I won’t be returning there. Ever.

Gallery

Wow! First Horse Show

This gallery contains 3 photos.

Kennedy turned four two weeks before the show. It’s hard to believe, time sometimes goes way to fast. The show was in Eugene Oregon, about a four-hour drive from here.  This was her first class and like I predicted she … Continue reading

Tea For Three

A little late with my blog this month, as was the birthday tea I enjoyed with my two sisters yesterday. We were certainly waiting a long time for the day to come round. Well over 18 months! But it was worth the wait and we three enjoyed ourselves.

But why the long wait? Back in Sept 2019, my twin sisters celebrated a milestone birthday. A gift from their four children was a thermae spa 2-night break in Bath, England. This is an incredible mineral spa with rooftop swimming pool giving panoramic views over the city. As the year was getting late, the trip was arranged for the following April and invited me to join them for afternoon tea as my birthday treat. But we all know what happened the month before, that dreaded word: Lockdown. The hotel agreed to hold the booking to the end of lockdown. Another birthday for my sisters came and went. Lockdown eased only to be fully re-imposed Christmas 2020. Again, the hotel happily rescheduled it for my birthday April 2021. But lockdown was still on, though easing. In March, it was finally arranged for June, when most restrictions here were lifted, except for the few we are still under.

https://www.thermaebathspa.com/
Britain’s original thermal spa in Bath.

At last my sisters were able to enjoy a much-needed break, spoiling themselves relaxing for a few days indulging in some spa treatments, sight seeing, and the best part — my being able to join them for a champagne tea at their hotel.
The historic city of Bath is some 25 miles from my home. Whilst I could have taken the car, it would mean I wouldn’t be able to enjoy the champagne. Not to worry, I have a Diamond Travel Pass, giving free travel on buses. I hadn’t been on a bus for over two years, and having enjoyed this journey often in the past, was looking forward to the trip there and back. The only problem is the time the bus takes: anything up to 2 hours or more depending on traffic, as it is a complicated route with many stops, but scenic. My other half was not happy.

“I’ll drive you,” he said. “The car needs a good run out and it gets me away from the house for a few hours too. How long will you be?” he asked. “And where can I park and wait for you?” Now, you would have thought by now after over 40 years together, he would know that whenever I meet the girls for lunch or my sisters, we chat and chat and chat for hours. Nor was I going to spend the time clock-watching. I told him I would get the bus or train home, both stations being right by the hotel, and he could pick be up from the station. I didn’t think it fair him having to spend his afternoon/evening driving me back and forth twice (Bath is an hour’s drive from home). But no, he wasn’t happy with the idea of me travelling by bus. Or train. So it was agreed he’d pick me up, I would ring him when ready.

It was lovely seeing my sisters again. Admittedly it was only a few weeks since the last time we were together but sitting in different surroundings, being waited on, lovely champagne, a delicious scone cream tea served by the most helpful and friendly staff who made us so welcome and comfortable. Afterwards, we decided to go for a walk and find a bar where we could sit outside (the weather this past week has been gloriously hot), enjoy a glass of G&T and people watch, wishing and missing our many fantastic holidays abroad together, but it was a wonderful way to spend a summer’s afternoon. We wandered back to the hotel, and whilst we waited for Dave, still with an hour to enjoy, we ordered another round of G&Ts.

“Shall I be mum?”

Such precious time goes far too quickly, too much precious time has been lost but we treasure every moment together. May there be many more.

Kit Domino’s website and blogs

Today is Ridiculous

Jillian here. Sorry I am late. My paralegal has been out and this is the second week. She had surgery so we are muddling through doing her job and ours. It’s not been too bad….until today. Today is ridiculous. It is also her birthday and if she was here, it might just be her last one 🙂 (Joking)

As is wont to happen when she is out, I find things I thought were done and done correctly have not been. A case I already won blew up yesterday and I am still dealing with the fallout today. I have to file some response to what the other lawyer filed just to cause issues; a client called with something I thought had already been taken care of and I ended up having to go to the courthouse as well as another lawyer’s office to get something notarized since the paralegal is the only other notary here besides me. AND I can’t notarize my own signature. 🙂

You know that old saying about the “hurrier I go, the behinder I get”- well, that is me…especially today. I’m exhausted.

To bring some cheer, here is my sweet Baboo- first haircut and a day at the water park. Which is which? 🙂

Have a happy June…hoping everyone is less stressed than me!

May = Mother’s Day

Jillian here. May in the USA brings us pretty flowers and Mother’s Day. My own mother has always given her two children small tokens for Mother’s Day which I think is cute. We made her a mother and she honors us as well as us honoring her. Pretty cool, huh?

This year, we got flowers to either pot or plant… My sister and I both have black thumbs so we both see these as “victims”- Mom has a super green thumb and thinks (delusionally) that her offspring do as well. I don’t know why she thinks this as she has rescued many a plant from our evil clutches in the past. One time, when I was in law school, I had a fern that was down to four twigs. She took it home with her and by the time I came home a couple of months later, she had three big ferns hanging on her back porch from my feeble little twigs.

I’ve killed cactus and wilted silk flowers, so pray for this plant. It can use all the help it can get!

Hope all had a great Mother’s Day- whenever you celebrate.