Category Archives: fun

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.

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Smart Phones

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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.

Surfing George

Today’s post is a little different as I want to bring you an update on my great-nephew George’s progress, as many have asked how he is doing. Whilst he grows into a strong, always cheerful teenager who adores his younger sister, his favourite thing in life, apart from eating fish and chips, is surfing. You might wonder how this is possible with his physical disability but I hope the following video will tell all how marvellous and generous in both time and money people at the Wave Project are in order to help lots of people in a similar position to George, children and adults, enjoy a more fulfilling life.

The video forms part of an informative advertisement by the Wave Project in the UK where George and his family live and feature in this film. George is featured right at the start and in several places throughout, and my nephew’s wife, Nicky, at 5.22 and 13.22. mins in sharing how the team at the Wave Project helped her and George achieve this.

I hope the video link works and that you enjoy watching it in its entirety.

Kit Domino’s website and blogs

Gallery

October 2021

This gallery contains 5 photos.

We spent the month of October in Arizona and are still wondering why we came back though now that it’s less than a week from Thanksgiving the holidays are the reason to again brave the cold wet weather when there … Continue reading

Two Weddings, Too Many Funerals

Jillian here. Happy November. I’ve been having a mixed month and a half. I went to two weddings and a memorial service for a colleague. I also had four friends lose their mothers in one week. That was a bit startling, to say the least. One of them, her mother had been ill with a second bout of cancer for a while and one of the others, her mom was 95 and hadn’t been doing well for a while. It was still kind of sad to lose them both in the same day—I knew both of those ladies well as one was my college roommates’ mom and the other was a colleague in Tallahassee’s mom who I often went to dinner with when I was over there. The other two, I didn’t know their moms, but they are special friends and my heart hurt for them.

My colleague who passed away was an excellent attorney and a very gentle soul. I know those two words don’t usually go together, but he truly was a gentle man. I never, in all the years I knew him, ever heard him raise his voice or get angry. He was kind and really had a great sense of humor. He loved to debate issues even to the point of taking the opposite side of what he believed himself just for fun and to add to the conversation. He called me at the beginning of September and we had a nice chat. He’d just come out of the hospital and had been in a diabetic coma. He never said he was ill other than that incident. I was shocked to learn in mid-October when they announced his memorial service that he died about a week after that phone call—pancreatic cancer. He’d been battling it for 11 months. It just goes to show your last conversation with someone could very well be the last one. I’ll treasure the fact that he called me to chat on that day and am grateful I was there to take the call. I also wonder if he was taking the time to say goodbye to people he thought of as friends as it was a very cheery call. But that was his personality so it didn’t seem odd.

On a happier note, I attended two weddings within a few weeks of each other. Each was outdoor and next to a lake. One was warm and one was cold- weather wise. One was a writer friend in Tallahassee. She had a horrific marriage in the past and I was so happy for her when she found love again with a man who clearly is kind and will take good care of her heart.

The other wedding was a great nephew’s. The girl he married is a sweet young lady and they seem very well matched. I think I posted here before about her bridal shower where they never cut the cake. The same thing happened at the wedding. They did the cake cutting part for pictures with them, but then never served it. It was crazy. My sister-in-law, the grandmother of the groom, finally went over and got some for the people at our table. Usually there is someone there to serve it—even the caterer would have been a good plan—except I’m not sure they would if they didn’t do the cake. It was one of those trendy naked cakes. When one of my friends saw the picture of the cake, she said, “I don’t know who did that cake but they need to get a refund. The person that iced it did a terrible job.” 🙂

I’m heading down this weekend to the grandson’s second birthday party. I’m glad my son and his wife plan them for two weeks before the actual day since he was born Thanksgiving week. Thanksgiving weekend is one of the busiest times for Walt Disney World and, as they live in the same metro area as the parks, it’s a nightmare (traffic-wise) to go down there then.

Hope everyone has a great month. Here are a few pics of the weddings. 

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…..