Category Archives: Nature

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

Blueberries

I have always liked berries, strawberries, blackberries, marionberries, raspberries and this year I am really into blueberries. About a week ago I went to the local farm store and bought two bushes. My nephew had gotten some Legacy bushes so I followed his lead as there were a lot of different varieties to choose from.  

I’m not sure why I have all of sudden acquired such a craving for these berries but in reading about the them, I’m thinking maybe my body is telling me they are good for me.  

I had always thought they grew in bogs but a number of neighbors have them here. In fact, the neighbor next door invited me over to pick some. His bushes were loaded with delicious fruit.

Blueberries don’t seem to require a lot of maintenance. Before they were cultivated, they grew wild and are native to North America. Native Americans were the first to recognize their versatility and health benefits.  If you google ‘blueberries’ there is a lot of information about the health benefits of including them in your diet. 

There are a lot of blueberry recipes. I love them over Greek yogurt and do about half/half. Half Blueberries of course. I also love them in summer salads.   Hopefully I’ll get some pictures of my bushes with fruit next year. I’m looking forward to it. 

Happy Summer!!!!

Life Is Expanding

This year feels good when I think of where we were last year at this time.  With restrictions relaxing, and more business’s opening, Karen and I took advantage of the great weather last week and ran out to a nursery we heard about in Adna. 

It’s a bit of drive from here but the trip was part of the lure. Beautiful country out that way. I clipped the photo from “Adna Floral” website.  This is a nursery I’ll be visiting again.  

Adna Floral est. 1963. is a family owned plant nursery, that takes great pride in personally growing every plant they sell. Open April 15th through June 30th. There is an excellent selection of healthy plants to choose from. Some of the colors are ones I haven’t seen before. 

Of course we included lunch in our outing. And, what an experience. Just up the road from Adna, in Chehalis, is Jeremy’s Farm to Table restaurant. Karen had been there and suggested it.  I don’t know how I missed it as I’ve certainly been in and out of Chehalis over the years. Like the nursery, I plan to go back. 

I can’t say enough about Jeremy’s. It flanks the historic Chehalis railway and was started in 1990. It partners with local farms to provide the freshest ingredients for menu items. I had “The Special”, Crab Cake Benedict. It came with home fries and I could have made a meal on them. So Good!!!!!  Of course I had to get dessert to go . . . Strawberry Crisp. 

Are you hungry yet?  Looking forward to more days out and about. Hopefully you are getting back out there too. 

Gallery

Wild Side of the Street

This gallery contains 1 photos.

Yesterday, once the frost had lifted and the temperature rose a few degrees, in the bright sunshine I ventured out for proper walk, the first one for many weeks now lockdown restrictions here in the UK are easing. I took … Continue reading

Lockdown Walks

Since we’re in lockdown (again) here in the UK, it’s not been possible to venture too far from the old homestead. In fact, the farthest I managed was a six mile car trip to get my COVID-19 vaccine!

That said, we have had some lovely and interesting walks in our local area. Having lived in the village for almost 25 years, we prided ourselves on knowing it quite well, but with the release of a new book by a local author detailing twenty circular walks within easy reach of our village, we have discovered some new and fascinating routes. Each walk has a short version and a longer version and every one of them features a route by either a lake or river, which has pleased our water-loving Vivvy no end 🙂

We’ve encountered some interesting characters on our new walks and have learned a lot from them about the countryside as a whole and the local area in particular. I didn’t know there were quite so many different types of gates and stiles, or that our area held quite a number of intriguing stone circles each with a fascinating, and sometimes lurid history. Ghost stories abound, as do sightings of strange and mysterious creatures that appear to unsuspecting walkers, often as dusk falls. You can imagine how my writer-imagination fires on all cylinders while listening to these often tongue-in-cheek accounts by the locals. They have certainly given me food for thought for future stories. I’ll need to do some further research, which means revisiting the places from which these strange tales emanate. But I’ll be doing that in daylight, of course, and will make sure to be home well before the light fades!