Category Archives: fun

In the Wee Hours

The mind and the brain can be a curious bedfellow at times, especially at night whether asleep and dreaming, or awake in the wee early hours trying your darnest to fall back to sleep. I’ve never been a great sleeper, the slightest unusual noise will wake me up, as will a sudden alteration in sound, which is why I dislike falling asleep listening to the radio or television or to audiobooks. As soon as a voice changes, the pitch or volume on music switches or the recording comes to an end, then bang – I’m wide awake. A solid 7-8 hour night’s sleep is a rarity; I get by on a broken 5 or six hours at most. I have no trouble going to sleep initially, it’s the staying there I struggle with. And if I do fall back into dreamland, I have the most peculiar dreams. I’ve always been like it.

But this has advantages, for it’s during this time I fix things. In my head. Like plot issues in my novel or have a marvellous idea for another book. Work out what my characters are going to do or say next. When I was doing the 9-5 life, I’d solve a dilemma or figure out a solution to problem in the office. In my head I’d rehearse what I need to say to someone. Finger out how to fix something broken. Decide on what we are going to eat for our Sunday lunch, even if it’s only Tuesday morning. I’m used to this and am sure I’m not the only one who experiences these things.

But lately, my mind has been working in an unexpected way. It seems for no reason I can fathom, I suddenly recall songs from my childhood, ones I’d forgotten about, surprising myself I can even remember the words. If it were pop songs of my teenage years, then I could perhaps understand it. I love music and that of the 60s and 70s especially, but these are songs often from further back.

Ones such as Cool Water “All day I face the barren waste without the taste of water. Cool water…” Old Shep “When I was a lad and Old Shep was a pup through the hilltops and meadows we’d stray…” “Carolina Moon …keep shining, shining on the one who waits for me…” Little Green Frog “There’s a little green frog, swimming in the water, a little green frog, doing what he oughta…” “Don’t You Worry …my little pet, don’t you worry now, don’t forget…” You get the jist. And I wonder how many of these you are singing right now. (Sorry)

These are just a few of them I hear, and many are the B side to records, ones rarely played, let alone remembered. Okay, so I know I grew up hearing these songs. With older siblings and parents who loved music, the radio or the gramophone playing, that is no small wonder. But why, I ask myself, should all these come flooding into my brain at 2 0’clock in the morning! Are they trying to tell me something?

I’ve tried thinking back to any incident or conversations recently that may have jogged open an old memory of them. Tried hard to recall hearing them on an advert on TV. Have I read any recent articles or books that might mention them or their singers? Nothing! So for the moment I have to content myself with “listening” to them, at least they are songs I like, and they in themselves are bringing back happy days memories of childhood and family. I just wonder what my brain will conjure up next to earworm me through the night.

Has anything like this happened to you?

Kit Domino’s websites and blogs

August Musings

Here we are already in the middle of August. It seems unbelievable to think in a few weeks’ time we will be in the ’ember months of the year. Before you know it Christmas will be upon us again. It has already arrived in some of the stores here in the UK, and the children haven’t even returned to school yet from their summer break. But enough of that.

I missed posting last month; my apologies – major meltdown due to extreme heat! Heat that has only today started to climb back down the thermometer, and we have rain. Not a lot, admittedly. We do need plenty here as, like many countries, we are in a drought situation. Keeping the flowers and plants alive in the back garden has been hard work, but we’ve made the most of our grey water from the kitchen, about the only real exercise I’ve had, backwards and forwards several times a day. The vegetable garden and annual flowerbed at the front has, I’m sad to say, been a failure because of lack of rain; we have avoided using the hosepipe. As a consequence, we’ve written this year off on the gardening front and back, because the back garden will be given another make over.

The reason being, we have demolished our large koi pond and intend turning the area into another flowerbed. Whilst we both had a lot of pleasure from the fish, which had grown huge, it was becoming increasingly hard work for Dave to keep it going despite so-say modern filters and UV lamps and fitting a new pump each year – not cheap. We were plagued with pond weed, the water never clear. The fish loved it; we didn’t. We agreed back last October that we would run the pond down as each winter we invariably lost a fish or two. Needless to say, this past winter they all survived.

One of the koi (28lbs)

We gave the fish, some as long as 2-3 ft and weighing many lbs, to a local koi keeper so we know they would be going to a good home. Catching them was another matter. All three of us got soaked! Then
began the fun part, demolition of the pond walls. The pond was/is over 8ft deep, with half of it above ground, so we were hoping the bricks and blocks would fill that below ground level. Miscalculation. We now have to dispose of a lot of rubble. This Dave will do in the autumn when the weather is a lot cooler.

Before
After
Demolition begins

The extreme heat here has meant I have not done a lot of art. A special request for a contemporary flower painting was completed and I began working up one for my students to copy at my next workshop at the end of September. They had requested a waterfall, so waterfalls I did. Several of them. It became clear to me that each one was a little too adventurous for some of my group, but I finally came up with a much simpler version that hopefully will stretch them without any duress.

“Pastel Pastures”
“Autumn Waterfall”

Other than these efforts, I have to admit nothing has been done. Hardly any writing because my office was too hot even with a fan running. No housework other than the basics – no point with all the doors and windows open; little laundry to wash – thank goodness for kaftans to lounge about it in all day. On the plus side, we’ve spent most days and long into the evenings in the garden. Our patio is in shade from midday so it has been comfortable, and I have been able to enjoy uninterrupted reading, getting through 5 books, unusual for me in a short space of time.

We treated the month as a long holiday, being exceedingly lazy and relaxed. It was fun while it lasted; now it’s back to normality. I hope your month has been good too.

Kit Domino’s websites and blogs

Christmas in July? Well, Sort of….

Jillian here! Hope everyone is having a nice summer. It’s been wild weatherwise here. Over 100 degrees Fahrenheit with over 111 heat index every day for a couple of weeks in June, then rainstorms with thunder and lightning all day, every day (dark as night at noon) for the end of June and first six days of July. As I write this, we’re back to more normal temps of around 85-90 and only small afternoon thunderstorms.

All this heat and rain misery made me decide to start reading a book I got at Christmas – It’s called The Big Book of Christmas Mysteries and is a collection of a ton of stories set at the festive season. Lots of favorite writers have set mysteries at Christmas and this book is chock-a-block. From Agatha Christie to Peter Lovesey, to Colin Dexter, Rex Stout, O. Henry, John Mortimer, Ellery Queen, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (and some new to me authors that I am digging), I am loving this set of stories. The pages are double-columned so its 640 pages is more like 1,280 pages– enough to keep me entertained for the month, I hope… Except I am almost to page 400 already and it’s only 8 days into the month. LOL

I am liking this collection of tales so much, I ordered The Big Book of Ghost Stories edited by this same gentleman. He has great taste in stories.

Here is the cover and the list of stories sorted into types. Hope you recognize some of your favorite writers, too. – I love the picture from the 1930s, don’t you?

Jubilee Fun

If there is one thing the British do well, it’s pomp and circumstance and having fun. The Queen’s 70th Jubilee was no exception. The crowds in London loved it. As did people up and down the country holding street parties, house parties, beacon lighting etc, the celebrations lasting a lot longer than the 2-day bank holiday assigned for the occasion. During the week beforehand, many town and parish councils put on their own celebratory Jubilee Tea Parties for local residents, and I was fortunate to be invited to one at the centre where my art club meets.

The room was strung out with Union Jack bunting, the groaning food table laid out in temptation just inside the main door to the room. All the cakes on offer were homemade by volunteers, including a very large one iced in the Union Jack flag. On entering, I couldn’t see anyone I knew, even though I arrived a good half-hour after the start time. I hate that, being a stranger amongst many others in company they know. Years ago I would have turned and fled.. A gentleman stepped up, offered his hand, introducing himself to me as a local MP, not one I knew as the centre is in a different area to where I live, not that it mattered. Nice chap, asked my connection to the centre, so I was able to proudly tell him I had painted several of the pictures hanging around the room.

The choice of cake was too much to decide so I gathered myself a cup of tea and joined a small group of people I did not know at a table. This might not sound very much to you, but for me, doing such a thing is a big affair for a shy, introverted lady. Normally I would have headed for the nearest empty table, of which there was only one, all the other 20 or so were full.

Having settled into conversation, enjoying the music in the background (all from the 1950s, which I love), two people arrived from my art group and beckoned me to join them at the empty table. Within ten minutes, 10 other members arrived. Back I went to the cake table to choose, made all the more difficult because the lady serving offered me multiple slices of anything I wanted. I love cake but resisted the temptation, enjoyed only a large slice of lemon drizzle cake with another cup of tea.

The atmosphere was jovial, friendly, and noisy. There was also a small competition in which one had to guess the years in which various photos of the queen were taken. The prize, a large box of chocolates. I didn’t partake as I did not want the chocolates, but did help my art friend Jeanette with guessing some of the years.

Talking of photos, it was only nearer the end of the occasion I thought to take a few photographs, so sadly the cake table is virtually empty. It was as I took a few shots I realised everyone had dressed in red, white and blue or various combinations of the three, something I never gave a thought to when dressing to come out; there was me dressed in a black skirt and top with a bright green jacket. Doh…

Over the Jubilee weekend Dave and I stayed home. There was no street party here, although many residents had their own in back gardens. It was enjoyable listening to them. Not far from me is our local sports playing field where the council had put on a free festival for residents on both the Saturday and Sunday. The music was loud but not disruptive, and most enjoyable. The festivities culminated in a spectacular firework show to music which the whole of our town must have heard if not seen. They were tremendous, some of the best I’ve been fortunate to witness. Well done Patchway Council.

All-in-all, a lovely time had by all for our Queen.

The following week at art group, a note and a small box of chocolates had been left for me as a thank you, by Jeanette – apparently she won the prize!

Kit Domino’s websites and blogs

June– Hot, Hot! SUMMER!!

Jillian here – hope everyone is doing fine. It’s already in the 90s here in sunny NW Florida. It doesn’t feel too bad when the wind is blowing, but man, inside the car is a whole ‘nother story– boiling hot. It’s amazing how much like an inferno (one without flames) it can get inside an auto. Aug and Sept are our two hottest months, so something to look forward to….NOPE!

I recently ordered a book when I saw the author on the Jeopardy quiz show as she intrigued me as a lawyer who wrote thrillers. I just finished reading it and it was okay except there was no one I liked in the whole book. I hate it when I don’t have someone to root for, don’t you? The protagonist was a lawyer and made some super bone-headed moves that even a first year law student knows they shouldn’t do. She was quite unlikeable as well– snobbish and a liar. But I kept reading, so clearly, something was appealing to me, right?

Like Laurie, I enjoyed the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee and watched some of the festivities online. What an amazing lady she is. Admirable.

The grandson had his last day of preschool summer party and I love, love this photo of him in the mini pool as all the other children were being dried off. It’s just pure joy!

Happy summer to my sweet Baboo as well as all of you!

A Month of Celebrations…

It’s been a great month with lots happening in my little corner of paradise 🙂  There have been parties, new cars, cinema trips, a wedding: it’s really good to be venturing out in the big bad world again.

It was lovely to catch up with Kit recently when we were invited, along with other members of our writing group, to celebrate one of our members’ 90th birthday. What a super time we had, too – great conversation, fabulous food, a lovely happy atmosphere – and the birthday girl, Rosemary (the beautiful lady with the silver bob), had a day to remember. She’s amazing and still very much a creative, despite some health and mobility issues. Her energy and enthusiasm has always inspired us and continues to do so. She was very keen for us all to get back to our writerly meetings, or should I say lunches which always stretch way into the early evening 🙂

I had to leave the party early as I had a wedding reception in the evening. My friend’s beautiful daughter, Kelly, looked absolutely stunning when she married Alex, her handsome groom, and of course Max their fur baby was there for the photographs! It was a really happy occasion and everyone had a great time. The couple left next day for their honeymoon in Mexico.

It was also our wedding anniversary this month and we celebrated with lunch and then went to collect AJ’s new car. The showroom staff knew it was our anniversary and placed a huge red bow on the car to acknowledge the day, as well as presenting us with a bottle of champagne and a ceramic feeding bowl for Vivvy, who of course had to vet the new car to make sure she was happy to ride in it 🙂

Speaking of the love of our life… it’s Vivvy’s birthday next week which will be celebrated with lots of pressies, treats, walkies, and many, many cuddles and kisses.

Hope you’re having a great spring!

Coming Out of the Closet

Not a lot of people know this, but I am a closet keyboard player, and despite my electric keyboard being stored away in a cupboard for the past few years, this week I took the decision to bring it back out of hiding and start playing again.

It all started way back when as a child I wanted to play the piano. My grandparents had an upright in their lounge. My uncles played a little and my father could bash out a fair rendition of Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No.1 in B minor, but us grandchildren were never allowed to touch it. It was always kept locked, although we would lie underneath it and hit the strings till Nan appeared and we’d all run like hell into the garden, each blaming each other. Happy days.

Still the urge to play gnawed at me but my parents could not afford for me to have lessons, let alone buy a piano. To them, my weekly dance classes (ballroom and Latin American) were enough. A friend from infant and junior school, Peter, had a grand piano in the lounge at his house, I was always envious of such a highly-polished and large instrument. A few years ago, Peter and I found each other through Facebook. He has gone on to greater things with music – he’s Organist and Director of Music of the Royal Memorial Chapel, at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst in England as well as an accomplished accompanist, arranger, composer, conductor, and opera singer, with works performed on stage and radio. Oh, what I might have achieved too had I been able to play.

Over the years the urge never left me. In the 1980s, at home full time through long-term illness, I was determined to learn to play so purchased an old wreck of an upright from a dealer. It sat in our dining room, often out of tune but good enough for practice. I found a piano teacher and began to learn, this was necessary as I couldn’t even read music. She doubted I would be able to master the instrument as I have small hands and hand span but I managed. I wasn’t keen on the type of music she taught, after all who wants to play The Merry Widow all day long? Soon she thought I was ready to take my Grade 1 exam. For this she wanted me to sing. Why, I have no idea but that was a big no no. I cannot sing. Never could, never can and no one will ever be able to teach me. After that, I never went back.

A short while after, I overheard a conversation with a lady I knew vaguely talking about an electric piano she had bought. We chatted, and invited me to see it. I was hooked. I wanted one, and she offered to help me play. After several months, I went out and bought my own. Not an electric piano, I couldn’t afford that, but a six octave electric, all singing, all dancing (well not quite), multi instrument and tempo keyboard. And thank goodness for headphones. I could now play at my heart’s content without disturbing Dave or the neighbours. I was never brilliant at it, had no intention of playing for anyone but I enjoyed it, which was and is the main thing.

So now it is sitting back in the office/art studio/Kit’s cave/spare room where it belongs and I am starting over learning again by going back to basics with the help of online lessons on YouTube. Just need to buy some new headphones now. Who knows, I could be playing at a venue near you some day. No, I doubt it either.

Gallery

Smart Phones

This gallery contains 2 photos.

Kids amaze me and how they handle technology is no exception. Last week my daughter was out with her grand-daughter and daughter. When Kris got out of the car, she inadvertently left her phone with Kennedy who is four.  Before they … Continue reading

Spring Has Sprung

It is the middle of March, and spring has definitely arrived in the UK. That was my feeling yesterday when the day dawned bright and clear and sunny, if a little cold but once the sun had risen high enough and chased away the thin covering of frost, we turned off the central heating, changed into t-shirts and jeans, and disappeared into the garden. There is much to do here, Dave busy in his veg plot tilling and raking and planting out potatoes and leeks, me in the back garden picking up bucket-loads of brown and wizened oak leaves. Considering we do not have any trees in the garden, let alone oaks, these were the result of gale-force winds last autumn which blew in masses of leaves from a stand of trees several streets away. All good for the compost though, and I had purposely left them to help protect the garden from winter.

The next task was erecting a new obelisk I had recently purchased to house a rampant, beautifully-perfumed honeysuckle rather than let it scramble through the flowerbed as it has in other years. The morning turned decidedly warm, so once this job was complete, we enjoyed sitting around the patio table enjoying our mid-morning coffee. Such bliss after being trapped indoors for so long. It gave me time to look around the flowerbeds, appreciate the spring displays, and plan my attack for the next few weeks.

Everything is growing and shooting well and over the past few months we have been treated to a fabulous display of crocus and snowdrops on the front lawn, as have all the neighbours and local children on their way to and from the school at the bottom of our road. Now the delights there are hyacinths in full bloom along the forsythia hedge, also coming into flower, and the tulips in full bud waiting their turn. The perfume from the hyacinths is intoxicating as you walk around. We love them. Grown indoors each Christmas to so scent the house, they are then planted outside where they thrive.

What I am most thrilled with this year is the clumps of miniature daffodils scattered around the back garden. I buy several pots of them from the supermarket each year, let them flower indoors and then plant them outside. The past few years the show has not been good as they have succumbed to being eaten by tiny slugs. This year we were prepared and the critters didn’t stand a chance, the displays of them scattered around are so bright and cheerful it was worth the effort.

The wall baskets and a few pots are looking good too. I love this time of year, as it heralds the end of winter with so much to look forward to and enjoy.

I said at the beginning that spring had finally arrived here. Today it is returned to winter in some respects. The day dawned grey and shrouded in heavy mist which has now turned into incessant rain. Good for the garden but not for those outside in it, so we are staying indoors, the heating is on and I am back in a thick sweater. Tomorrow is promised to be warmer and drier, with a good week forecast. Hooray!

Kit Domino’s websites and blogs

Freedom February

Mid February, and it’s beginning to feel a lot like freedom here in merry England. The majority of Covid restrictions have been lifted, the remainder set to be removed next week, ie mask-wearing on public transport and in shops. There is a relaxed atmosphere creeping back in and my diary is slowing but surely filling up again.

February has so far been far busier for me than anticipated, a whirlwind two weeks that seems set to continue. It started with a portrait painting demo by a visiting professional artist at my art club, followed by him giving an all-day workshop a week later. The majority of us were disappointed in what he presented, the 2 hour-demo more talking than painting, and his workshop for various reasons was cancelled. As the club had already booked and paid for the room hire, the club secretary asked if I would step in and run an acrylic workshop instead, to which I agreed.

Not having run an all-day course before and at such short notice, I had little prepared, no notes or handouts ready, nor any idea what subject matter to cover (nothing like diving in at the deep end!). As I don’t paint people or portraits, and not knowing the capabilities or skills of most of the attendees, I asked them what they would like me to do. Trees or a woodland scene or bluebells or snowdrops came several replies. Sorted! Confident and comfortable with bluebells woods, I quickly painted this lttle scene to use. I would demonstrate a section, they paint it, I do another part, they paint it etc – you get the gist.

“Blooming Bluebells”

Despite my inadequacies painting whilst standing at an easel with 14 pairs of enthusiastic and eager-to-learn eyes watching every move, I managed to enjoy the day, as did they. The workshop was fun and lively, exhausting but worth it, and some good work produced. Even I learned a few things. When we’d finished everyone asked if I were doing any more workshops, all ending with a heart-pleading “please”. I’d obviously got something right. And thus, the next workshop has already been booked for late March, with all my attendees saying yes within a few hours of my notifying them of the date (except one who will be on holiday).

And what did I learn? That, during the lead-up to the next workshop I need to be totally prepared and organized and, more to the point, practice painting stood at the easel, something I am not used, I always sit when painting. I also discovered I enjoy teaching it, and like painting, never knew I had it in me until now. It comes down to confidence, something I never had even as a child. But unless I’m careful, the art could easily take over my life. I must pace and organize myself in order that my writing, my real passion, doesn’t get left on the shelf. I have a novel to get out, others to write, so have planned my schedule: Work on my novel early mornings (I’m usually up at 5am) until 7-ish. Breakfast, housework etc until 10:30, 11am latest. More writing until lunch. Afternoons devoted to art (and the occasional nap) plus work on the website I’m creating for the art group. Evenings: back to the novel, sprints more important than ever! So far, I am keeping to that regime, then again it has only been 3 days.

I mentioned my March diary filling up: Several medical appointments; meeting friends for coffee one morning; hairdresser appointment; kitchen hunting–yes we are back on that trail as was put on hold because of you-know-what; garden needing attention, which also means several garden centre visits; the workshop to run; a girlie weekend celebrating mother’s 96th birthday. And, hopefully, one or two long lunches with writing friends I have so missed to pencil in.

Yes, life in Blighty is slowly but surely and with care returning to normal. Thank goodness.