Category Archives: Nature

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Time for Boating in Peoria

This gallery contains 10 photos.

Here in the valley of Arizona it’s boating time.  When we bought the house in August it was too hot to take the boat out. You rarely saw anyone on the lake. But now even with temperatures at about 10 degree’s … Continue reading

So that was November?

These days every month seems to pass in a flash, but November takes the prize for me this year. Probably because my main focus was NaNoWriMo (a yearly event that challenges you to write a 50,000 first draft of a novel in one month). I’m extremely happy to report that I hit that goal. Yay! And a double yay to my fellow NaNo-ers Jillian and Kit who also came in well ahead of schedule. We rock, ladies 🙂 (nothing like a bit of self-congratulatory rhetoric, ha!)

Working toward that goal was harder some days than others, but what I found interesting was how it kind of solidified my process. I’ve been writing for many years and I’m usually a sit down and just write kind of gal, but lately I’ve noticed that word sprints are my bag. Word sprints consist of setting a timer for however long you want to write (or whatever task you want to accomplish), in my case twenty five minutes, and then not stopping until the timer goes off. Then you can take a short break (five minutes) to get up and stretch, make a cuppa, sweep the floor, you get the drift, before heading back to the keyboard and setting the timer again. It’s worked so well for me and really keeps me focused, so I’ll continue to work this way in the future.

When I wasn’t writing, November has been a month for walks in the local woods. My happy place. I think we’ve had everything weather-wise this month here in the UK – gorgeous sunshine, rain, fog, rain, frosty mornings, rain, and yes, even more rain. And with rain comes mud, mud, and even more mud. Happy days. It was during one very rainy, muddy walk that I discovered my sturdy boots leaked (thank goodness for Black Friday sales 🙂

One day I checked to make sure nobody was around and then had a very happy time amusing myself kicking up leaves as high as I could. Well, it made me happy. It wasn’t long before an inquisitive little girl made her way back from her own explorations to see what her crazy mummy was up to 🙂

Can you spot Vivvy in the photo?

Anyway, I hope everyone has had a good November and taken the opportunity to enjoy the month whatever you have been up to (and a belated Happy Thanksgiving to my US friends).

I want to just finish this blog with a heartwarming video I spotted on Facebook this last week. You might have seen it, but here it is below. It’s a mamma chimp reunited with her baby after she thought the baby had died. In reality the baby had been whisked away for life-saving treatment. That is one adoring and beautiful mamma. I admit to shedding a happy tear while watching, and even AJ was clearing his throat a few times. Best with the sound on…

To Everything, There is a Season…

I have always been more of a cooler weather person than a heat of summer person. I have good friends living in Arizona and listening to them, the possibility of becoming a “snow-birder” in winter is very enticing. Honestly, though, I think I’d miss the Pacific Northwest weather. We get a touch of all the seasons. Lots of color in fall and spring, a bit of snow in winter, and abundant sunshine in the summer. I like those changes. In fact, maybe for me, it’s more about the change than the season. I don’t ever want to stagnate, so I need occasional change in my life to make me feel like I’m moving forward.

As I type this, it’s overcast. Rain is coming in later. And it rained yesterday. I went for a walk in it and loved it. Granted, I no longer splash in puddles. I walk around them these days. But it’s rejuvenating to smell the rain and hear it fall.

And winter? I love hibernating. Honestly, I could sit at the ocean and storm watch, never getting a thing done, and be completely happy with my life. Hmmm. So much for not stagnating? Lol.

What season is your favorite? Whichever one is, I hope you get to embrace them all, because nature rocks!

For more information about Laurie Ryan:
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October Round-Up

Mid October, and here in the UK autumnal colours are filling the trees, hedgerows and gardens, a distinct chill in the air although the days are often sunny and out of the wind, mild. But I do miss the summer heat. Whilst we enjoyed the high temperatures, the garden suffered. Our vegetables were a disaster except, surprisingly, our potato crop and most flowers in the front beds perished due to lack of water. Dave pulled out the majority of them, leaving only the dahlias in-situ even though they were failing too. What a difference to them now. Thanks to plenty of rain showers and cooler weather, they have come into their own and look lovely.

You might notice in the background of the photo in front of the wheelbarrow a flush of yellow that should not be there. These are wallflowers that should not be blooming until next March/April. For some unknown reason they are in flower now and thus too late to move into their proper position around the drive. Hey ho, win some, lose some. Good job we have a plan B.

We kept the pots and baskets watered as well as we could, and by using grey water on the rear garden, but they all struggled to thrive despite all loving the sun and warmth. To our joy, most have only recently come into full flush, as are many things in the back, thanks to the rain. I still even have honeysuckle, clematis and a climbing fuschia in bloom. The Californian poppy by the bird-bath, a survivor from last year, has been in flower since May and is still going strong. We are just hoping the first frosts keep away as long as possible. Oh, the wonders and vagaries of Mother Nature.


And what of our pond? Last week, we called in a waste contractor to remove the remaining rubble as was too much for Dave to clear on his own. Glad we did, the work was done within an hour. Now we can order in the topsoil and, fingers crossed, have a lovely flowerbed by next spring. What we can plant here is limited as this area is in full shade most of the day, one of the reasons why the koi pond was placed here. The first thing I shall be planting is bluebells – you know how much I love them!

The past month saw me running another acrylic art workshop. A small group this time which worked better because I was able to give them much more individual attention. At the end of the day it was lovely to see finished paintings, and each one different. I do not like seeing a group of virtually identical artwork all the same as mine; I encourage individuality. They obviously love it and already champing at the bit for another workshop. That won’t be until early next year, giving me plenty of time to work on what to do, and get my book finished! Yes, I’m still working on it, having made a few changes to the ending.

Talking of painting, you are honoured to be the first to see my newly completed piece. Called simply “Yport”, it was inspired by a collection of photos taken in Yport, France by a friend who is a brilliant photographer who gives me free reign to use any of her pictures. I would be lost for ideas without her work.

Enjoy your month whatever and wherever you may be.

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

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

The Promise of Spring

After a winter of rain, rain, and yet more rain here in the UK, this weekend we have had an inkling that spring just might be around the corner! Yay! My favourite time of year.

This morning I actually did my yoga/meditation on the lawn, okay, I wore plenty of layers, but still. It was soooo great. I’ve had to modify my yoga practice a lot lately, thanks to bouts of dizziness that are still plaguing me, but it was amazing to have the sun on my face during practice, and of course I had my stalwart little helper doing her own version of downward facing dog (sadly one pose that is off limits for me at the moment – and it just so happens to be my favourite – *sigh*).

Yesterday, we took a walk in the woods with the sun poking its very welcome head through the trees and warming the still very muddy ground. Thanks to the rain the stream was high again (which a certain water-mad little girl thoroughly enjoyed), and there were carpets of snowdrops everywhere. We saw a few squirrels, badgers, and rabbits, all no doubt venturing out to enjoy the unexpected but extremely welcome sunshine.

This glimpse of sunshine goodness made me realise that there is still lots to be grateful for and to look forward to, despite that the world is currently in a state of such desperate turmoil. It reminded me of the importance of grabbing hold of the things we are grateful for and celebrating them when we can, keeping our focus on the good things and sending our positive energy out into the world with the hope of better times for all.

Namaste …

Late Autumn in England

Burnham Beeches

It is hard to believe here in the UK it is the middle of November due to the mild weather we are experiencing. Autumn began early, at the start of September but because of the warm weather and little wind, the Fall colour change and leaf drop has been slow and thus protracted, much to people’s enjoyment. And it goes without saying the garden has been in flower for longer, with many plants throwing up still more blooms. This has caused us one or two dilemmas in that most of the borders, pots and tubs should have been put to bed last month but it hurts my heart to do so when they are still giving us a good display.

As an example of how mild it has been, this Sunday Dave and I were called for our booster vacs at our doctor’s surgery. The morning dawned bright, the sky blue with no breeze or chilly wind, a bonus for us as we are about 800 feet above sea level here and close to the Bristol Channel where the Atlantic winds blow strong; rarely are there such calm, quiet days. We decided to walk to our appointment, about half a mile away. More to the point, no coats were needed!

This late mild weather is something we’ve experienced before. Some 30 years ago on mid-summer’s day we had the central heating on, but come Christmas, the boiler was turned off, the windows and patio doors opened, and we had clematis in bloom in the garden, sprigs of which decorated our Christmas table! And if my memory serves me right, back in 1962, it was a mild autumn but, come Boxing Day (26th Dec), heavy snow fell heralding the Big Freeze of 62/63 when the country did not thaw out until March! I’m only hoping this warm weather is not a portent for a freezing, snowed-in winter. Back to the present…

I’ve learned to enjoy the autumn colours far more than I ever did, this coming from taking up painting when I now see things through different eyes. There is a tree we pass every week on our way to do our weekly grocery shop. During the summer little notice is taken of it but in autumn, it comes into its full glory. I don’t know what kind of tree, only that is is large. Each year, more and more people are taking note of it, many stopping to take photographs. Its colour and shape make this a magnificent specimen, and I simply must include it in a painting soon. I say that every year I see. One day…

Talking of paintings, I have at last finished the large (30 x 20 inch) floral piece I have been working on for several months and it is now proudly hanging on our lounge wall. It is a representation of a collection of flowers we had growing in tubs and pots along our patio fence, a small snapshot of the summer display we had. The hardest part has been thinking of a suitable title. After long deliberation and discussion one came to mind. So I can now unveil “Flowers of Summer”. I hope you like it.

Flowers of Summer

Kit Domino’s website and blogs

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. 

October! My Favorite!

Jillian here. October is my favorite month of the year. I’ve always loved it. When we lived in Virginia when I was in elementary school, we’d always drive up Skyline Drive in October to get pumpkins and fresh, cold apple cider—there was nothing like that fresh taste and Florida has nothing to compare with it. Not many leaves change color here—a few trees do- like maples— but most are evergreens like pine. I love the look of bare trees in the twilight of mornings or dusk as well as in the fog. Some trees here have leaves one day and are naked the next.

Why I love October: Orange is my favorite color, the smell of smoke in the air always brings back memories of fall leaf burning, pumpkins, Halloween is fun, and the new baking shows with the fall themes are delightful to watch (not so delightful for my cravings for chocolate though) 😀And it cools off a bit here—most years, it’s low 80s at beginning of the month and 70s by end of month.

Lat year, for NaNoWriMo, I wrote a story that was inspired by my great grandmother’s name and her tombstone. Weirdly, her tombstone has her names in the wrong order which is kind of wild—I can only imagine they didn’t have the money to fix it when it was made incorrectly. I’ve always loved her first name. Her name (in the correct order) was Sophronia Neal Akers Richardson. The story I wrote is a ghost story/mystery. I turned in the edits this week, so I hope to have it out soon. It will be published under my other name as my mysteries are under that name to keep them separate from the romance-driven tales.

Happy October to all. Get out and enjoy some reds, oranges, fall scents and even some ghosties!

Gnarly pumpkin I bought —so wicked looking