Category Archives: Inspiration

Looking Forward, Not Back

Another year begins. Thank goodness we could say goodbye to 2020, but the less said about that, the better. It’s a time to look forward, not back, and think about what is to come, make a few plans, list a few goals. One of which, is to publish my next novel in the Filton Shield series plus a self-help book.  We have plans to have a new kitchen fitted; mind you, we’ve been planning to do that for the last 5 years! I seriously intend by the end of this year, the kitchen will be upgraded, the long-needed and yearned for eye-level oven installed. Meanwhile, whilst the weather here in the UK is cold and wet, many parts enduring snow, between bouts of writing and painting, housework and reading, I take daily pleasure in watching the birds in the garden and, more importantly, hunting for signs of Spring. And I’ve found some. Hurrah!

Yes, lurking by the front hedge, the snowdrops are up and in flower, patiently waiting for a sunny day when the white flowerheads can open fully and perform their delicate nodding displays. Mixed in with these I spy the first of the crocus (yes, I know the plural is croci, but to me it’s easier to say and people know what I mean) growing the lawn are up, their long purple flowerbuds holding tight until the sun shines on them. They’re a little late arriving this year; most years this particular variety is in flower as early as New Year’s Day. And looking across the lawn, I can see more and more dark green and white striped sword leaves of later crocus poking through the grass, a promise of a colourful display to come next month.

We missed last February’s crocus flush as we were abroad on holiday, likewise the early daffodils, but they too are growing well, their leaves coming through since December. So too are the hyacinths planted in the shelter of the long hedges. And my ever-faithful hellebores are in flower with more to open up as the weeks move along.

What are starting to come into flower, and rather early, are our wallflowers, the plants surrounding the drive looking exceedingly verdant and healthy. I don’t think I’ve seen wallflowers plants so vigorous. I’m looking forward to them being in full flower as their perfume is wonderful on warm spring days and fill my heart with joy.

To help us through the dark dismal days of winter we grow many flowering plants and bulbs indoors. Hyacinths, whose intoxicating smell fill the house, the bulbs of which when the flower is finished, we plant outside along the hedges to flower year after year. And we have two cactus plants, a white and a red flowered one. I noticed yesterday my white “thanksgiving” cactus is in bud again after dropping its last flowerhead just before Christmas. Along with these we have a lovely red amaryllis. Usually a single-stemmed plant, this year it has outperformed all others by throwing up three flower stems, each with magnificent scarlet flowers.

And, of course, my orchids. It wouldn’t be the same without these exotic but easy to grow plants around the house, these two magnificent specimens sitting on the mantelpiece.

So yes, Spring is definitely on its way here and there is so much to look forward to and am eager to get outside and start the spring tidy but that must wait at least until late of February. Hopefully, if the world has sorted itself out by the autumn we can plan another trip abroad, a lot depends on many factors, but it is something else to look towards, as are visits to garden centres. But what I’m really looking forward to is the sun and summer. To be able to sit in the garden with my morning coffee or evening cocktail, to feel the warmth on my body, see blue sky and smell the roses. It will all come in time. Simple inexpensive pleasures that fill the heart and swell the soul. Bring it on!

What do you look forward to most this year?

Kit Domino’s website and blogs

2021 – Finally!

Did we make it? Are we out of 2020 and into the new year? I’ve been afraid to poke my head out from beneath the blanket to check.

As January tends to be one of the months where getting fit is promoted (due to all those New Year’s Resolutions), I thought I’d talk about an experience I had at a boot camp a few years ago.

I thought it would be a good way to lose some weight.

Boy, howdy, was it. I lost, I think, 34 pounds in a month. But what a way to lose them. It was one of the hardest things I’d ever done.

I started on a Thursday. Day 3, for me, was Memorial Day weekend that year. And I found out the hard way that there is a special workout that CrossFit places do around Memorial Day. It’s called the Murph and is named for Lt. Michael P. Murphy, a US Navy SEAL killed in action in 2005. 

My heart goes out to the family and friends of Lt. Murphy. What a horrible thing. And I applaud this kind of remembrance, one that is helpful and healthy.

My only problem with the Murph workout is that it occurred on DAY 3 of my boot camp.

Here’s what the Murph includes:

  • A one mile run.
  • 100 pull ups
  • 200 push ups
  • 300 unweighted squats
  • Another one mile run

I can’t remember exactly how long it took me to do that workout, but it was somewhere around 3 hours. I was the only one left working out for the last hour. And I sat in my car crying my eyes out, wondering why I did this to myself.

The next day was Sunday, our day off. Ooooh, boy, was I sore! I give myself props for showing up on Monday and for the rest of the month.

But never again! Now, I’m older and it’s harder to lose the weight, but I continue to walk and try to eat healthy and lose a little bit here and there. For me, that’s the balance I need. And that’s what my goal for 2021 is. To find balance.

I hope you had a safe and joyful entry into this new year and that your heart is full of possibilities and balance.

For more information about Laurie Ryan:
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Christmas – In Song

Jillian here. I promise I had my idea for this post before I saw Lavada’s Elvis song. 🙂 I thought I’d share some links to some of my favorite Christmas songs.

My all time favorite is Do you Hear What I Hear by Bing Crosby

Michael Crawford (the original Phantom of the Opera) has a fab Christmas album. My two favs on there are Mary Did You Know and Strange Way to Save the World. The second one always makes me tear up.

Harry Belafonte’s Mary’s Boy Child is another one I love.

A bouncier song is Vince Vance and the Valiants All I Want for Christmas is You – It is def not the Mariah version and I like it much better.

I adore the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Their song, Dream Child is one I listen to over and over. I could only find a live version of it, so I am linking to the words as they are so beautiful.

Seth McFarlane can be vulgar in his comedy, but he does have a wonderful Christmas album. His gift for voices shines in the album songs.

What about you? What are some of your Favorites? And let me know if I screwed up any of the links! Happy December!

Season of Mists…

Okay, so I’m not an autumn/winter person. I’d much rather a lovely sunny, warm spring or summer day than the ones we’ve been experiencing this week here in the UK: cold, damp and pretty depressing.

That said, today’s doggie walk was really atmospheric. I’ve blogged before about how much I love our local woods and this week the early morning mists (that have lasted all day) turned them into something special.

What’s more, it got my paranormal juices a-popping. I could just see a nice juicy shifter stalking out of those trees – panther, wolf – I’m not fussy, and before long I had an idea for a new series. But, total shocker, this writer didn’t have her mini voice recorder with her, nor pen or paper to jot down my thoughts. I know, I should hang my head in shame. What writer goes anywhere without the means by which to get those often fleeting thoughts down before they are lost to the ether?

Thankfully, the gist of my idea was still there by the time I got home and I was able to scribble down my thoughts. But, lesson learned. I don’t plan on getting caught out again. The mini recorder is now safely ensconsed in the ‘walkies’ bag, complete with fresh batteries!

How about you? Do you always carry a means by which you can jot down your thoughts/ideas/plans when you’re away from home? A notebook/mini recorder/phone? Let me know how you capture those thoughts 🙂

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A Song For The Ages

I remember the first time I saw Elvis Presley perform.   It was on the Ed Sullivan show. I was major impressed. I was watching it with my parents and my dad was anything but impressed or at least not the same … Continue reading

Always Learning

So, here we are in mid November, and in lockdown again in England. It isn’t as severe as the first time, schools are still open, people can go to work and can meet others outside.  For Dave and I, life is no different to how our daily lives have been all year and in most respects, it’s been a good one. The family are all safe, the garden has flourished and kept us sane, and I’m back in writing mode with the novel, and accepted a painting commission. Now, that is a challenge for me as my client begged me to do a painting of her pet dog Lia which sadly recently joined those over the rainbow bridge.

I’ve warned her it won’t be very good as I don’t do animals and am not good at drawing but my client has become a good friend over the past years and I didn’t have the heart to refuse. I’ve spent the past few weeks practising drawing dogs and now comes the hard part, drawing Lia. I’ve only a few photos to go on, none of which are close ups, so it’s going to take a lot of improvising. I only hope I can pull it off.

The weather here is still very mild and autumn has given us all a fabulous display of colours in the falling leaves. I’m not a great fan of this time of year, particularly now the clocks have gone back and we have short days and long nights, but since I took up painting, I do look at it through different eyes and can appreciate the changing seasons much more. But my heart does sink a little when I walk around our garden.

The front is mainly bare soil now as Dave believes in taking everything out, digging the ground and leaving it fallow for the winter, whereas I believe in letting nature take its course and leave everything to die back naturally as Mother Nature intended. Many plants are thus still in bloom. I have cosmos and marigolds still in flower, my climbing fuchsia is spectacular for its first year, the hellebores are shooting up buds for later in winter, and there are even Welsh poppies in flower. Okay, so the borders do look a little untidy, but I know the wildlife and insects appreciate the cover, the birds enjoy the seed heads.The other day I was delighted to see a rare bird enjoying the garden for the best part of a day. Not rare as in uncommon, but because it is the first of this kind, a chaffinch, I have seen in the garden and I’ve been here over 40 years! The photo isn’t very clear as I had to take it through the bedroom window as every time I opened the window, it flew off into the holly tree, so it’s the best I could get.

Despite having been growing plants for over 50 years, I am still learning something new. There was I happily telling a friend about my Christmas Cactus that has decided to bloom early when she pointed out my plant was, in fact, a Thanksgiving Cactus, a totally separate breed from the Christmas or Easter Cactus most of us are familiar with. I’d never heard of a Thanksgiving Cactus so looked it up. And yes, she’s right. The Thanksgiving Cactus has different leaves, almost claw-shaped, to the other two which are more rounded, and both of these are different from each other:  the Easter Cactus having bristles on the tops of each leaf, the Christmas one has not.

I love learning new things. How about you?

Happy Things

Fall Color

In America, the elections are over and only the counting continues. And, enough said about that. When you add in that most of our holiday celebrations will be muted this year due to COVID-19, well… Enough said about that, too.

Instead, I’m going to celebrate all things good in 2020. Some nationally and internationally, some personal.

  • I get online with three of my grandchildren every week as an adjunct to their online schools. We do some math games, play hangman, and read out loud. Well, at least, that’s what I do with the eleven-year-olds. The six-year-old and I have a dance party. After a week of trying to sit for various online school sessions, she needs to expend some energy. So on goes the music and we dance on our respective sides of the video screen. J
  • The U.S. celebrated the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment, which recognized women’s federal right to vote.
  • My husband and I have taken a couple days here and there to stay in rental homes or condos and get different views. That’s kept me sane because we’re staying home a LOT. Don’t get me wrong, I like our house and we have an acre of property, but I need something different once in a while.
  • I’ve binge-watched Grey’s Anatomy. (Made it through season 11, sigh, and I’m currently in season 12.)
  • Drive-In theaters have made a comeback.
  • I haven’t (yet) grown out of my jeans, even though I spend most of my time in sweats. Whew!
  • Diversity is discussed more now than ever. (Praying that brings about positive changes.)
  • Brad Pitt won his first Oscar. (About time.)
  • Hamilton. Wow. Enough said.
  • We have an amazing great-granddaughter, now 7 months old and so precious.
  • I finished a painting project and a 30-year long crochet project, among other things.

And so many more. It’s been a good year in so many ways. I hope you all have an opportunity to count your blessings.

Walking in the rain! 🙂

For more information about Laurie Ryan:
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Beyond 2020

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September is almost at an end and we are entering the last quarter of 2020.  It’s been quite a year. One we know doubt will be talking about in the years to come. It makes me think about life and … Continue reading

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Social Distancing With A Sense Of Humor

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Barbara Crawford published this post in our community newsletter and graciously gave me permission to include it in our Over The Backyard Fence blog. Thank you, Barbara. Social Distancing With A Sense Of Humor by Barbara Crawford, Recycler of Old … Continue reading

Update on George

I thought it time I brought you the latest news and update on Little George, who’s almost 13 years old now and definitely not little. He’s turning into a very handsome young man.

It’s hard to believe it was 7 years ago when all the family were busy crowdfunding to raise the money to send my nephew’s son, who was born with cerebral palsy, to St Louis in the USA for an SDR operation. An operation that was a success but it later transpired he had misaligned hips too. Consequently, he had to undergo major surgery again to correct the problem. You may recall the photo of him with a metal frame pinned through his body.

Last year, after 5 years of 3-monthly trips to the Bristol Children’s Hospital, major hip surgery, an incredibly tough rehab, setbacks and a pretty worrying time all round, in yet another operation, all the metalwork in his body was successfully removed. His hips had recovered 100%, his left leg completely healed, and a perfect hip Xray for the first time. At last, he had a good range of movement, leaving his surgeon and his parents very happy, especially being told George should never need any more surgery. It was the best news ever for his parents.

Let’s be fair, he and his parents have endured an incredible amount over these 12+ years. A lot of worry, a lot of expense, and a lot of hard work on all three’s behalf with the constant physio George needs. And that help will be needed for life.

But George always amazes us. He rarely complains, he pushes himself as hard as he can as he so wants to be able to walk and be as independent as he can be given the circumstance. He loves his little sister, enjoys jokes, playing games, teasing and having fun, like any child. He enjoys school and has lots of friends but along came lockdown.

He struggled with it at first, like all teenagers missing his friends, the play and the fun, the lessons. And his parents miss his carer. He’s a big lad and heavy to lift now and needs a lot of help, so his parents have had their work cut out. I haven’t seen him since Christmas, but my niece tells me he’s now coping well and still the happy, giggly George we so love.

He’s settled down to doing his schoolwork at home, usually with his little sister sitting at the table helping him. But he does miss surfing, which he loves, always going into hysterics whenever he has a wipe-out, and can’t wait to go again.

 

And he missed his outings to his favourite restaurant where he always has his favourite meal including a hot chocolate. I was delighted to hear last week that he could finally meet up with his PA, who took him there for lunch, and guess what he ordered? His favourite, oh, and a hot chocolate! So for him, and the rest of us, life is slowly getting a little normality back.

George and his family live in a lovely part of the North Devon coast, which has meant they have been able to have many pleasurable secluded walks but because of being home all the time, not being able to have his regular physio sessions, and due to the fact that he has grown so much, his legs are stiff, making his walking extra hard work. What doesn’t help is that he’s also outgrown his trike which allowed him some independence, and he’s now in urgent need of a new one.

A Tomcat Bullet has been trialled. George loved it as he is unable to ride a standard bicycle. For the first time since hip surgery he was able to peddle independently. A huge achievement for him. You can imagine the huge smile on his face. But like all things like this, it doesn’t come cheap, and with his parents being furloughed, money is tight. Charities here in the UK have been approached, but because of Covid, they are not accepting applications. But not to beaten, the family are crowdfunding again in order to buy one. The benefit of this trike is it grows with him up to a maximum size of 6’2″ meaning he shouldn’t need another one after this. We’ve still a long way to go, but we’ll get there. And no doubt, sister Daisy will enjoy rides on it too.

Kit Domino’s Website and Blog