Category Archives: Summer

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!!!!

Tea For Three

A little late with my blog this month, as was the birthday tea I enjoyed with my two sisters yesterday. We were certainly waiting a long time for the day to come round. Well over 18 months! But it was worth the wait and we three enjoyed ourselves.

But why the long wait? Back in Sept 2019, my twin sisters celebrated a milestone birthday. A gift from their four children was a thermae spa 2-night break in Bath, England. This is an incredible mineral spa with rooftop swimming pool giving panoramic views over the city. As the year was getting late, the trip was arranged for the following April and invited me to join them for afternoon tea as my birthday treat. But we all know what happened the month before, that dreaded word: Lockdown. The hotel agreed to hold the booking to the end of lockdown. Another birthday for my sisters came and went. Lockdown eased only to be fully re-imposed Christmas 2020. Again, the hotel happily rescheduled it for my birthday April 2021. But lockdown was still on, though easing. In March, it was finally arranged for June, when most restrictions here were lifted, except for the few we are still under.

https://www.thermaebathspa.com/
Britain’s original thermal spa in Bath.

At last my sisters were able to enjoy a much-needed break, spoiling themselves relaxing for a few days indulging in some spa treatments, sight seeing, and the best part — my being able to join them for a champagne tea at their hotel.
The historic city of Bath is some 25 miles from my home. Whilst I could have taken the car, it would mean I wouldn’t be able to enjoy the champagne. Not to worry, I have a Diamond Travel Pass, giving free travel on buses. I hadn’t been on a bus for over two years, and having enjoyed this journey often in the past, was looking forward to the trip there and back. The only problem is the time the bus takes: anything up to 2 hours or more depending on traffic, as it is a complicated route with many stops, but scenic. My other half was not happy.

“I’ll drive you,” he said. “The car needs a good run out and it gets me away from the house for a few hours too. How long will you be?” he asked. “And where can I park and wait for you?” Now, you would have thought by now after over 40 years together, he would know that whenever I meet the girls for lunch or my sisters, we chat and chat and chat for hours. Nor was I going to spend the time clock-watching. I told him I would get the bus or train home, both stations being right by the hotel, and he could pick be up from the station. I didn’t think it fair him having to spend his afternoon/evening driving me back and forth twice (Bath is an hour’s drive from home). But no, he wasn’t happy with the idea of me travelling by bus. Or train. So it was agreed he’d pick me up, I would ring him when ready.

It was lovely seeing my sisters again. Admittedly it was only a few weeks since the last time we were together but sitting in different surroundings, being waited on, lovely champagne, a delicious scone cream tea served by the most helpful and friendly staff who made us so welcome and comfortable. Afterwards, we decided to go for a walk and find a bar where we could sit outside (the weather this past week has been gloriously hot), enjoy a glass of G&T and people watch, wishing and missing our many fantastic holidays abroad together, but it was a wonderful way to spend a summer’s afternoon. We wandered back to the hotel, and whilst we waited for Dave, still with an hour to enjoy, we ordered another round of G&Ts.

“Shall I be mum?”

Such precious time goes far too quickly, too much precious time has been lost but we treasure every moment together. May there be many more.

Kit Domino’s website and blogs

Take Time to Smell the Roses

As most of you are possibly aware, we love our little bit of paradise that is our garden. It’s our hobby, refuge, vegetable patch and, where we spend many happy hours among the flowers, tubs and hanging baskets. Yes, it’s time-consuming to look after, but we never consider it work and the rewards are endless. Apart from watering, weeding, deadheading, lawn mowing, planting, planning, seed buying, potting on etc, we always make time to sit back, relax and enjoy the whole, no only when the sun shines, but through rain, hail, gales and snow from indoors, when I can sit for many hours (and often do!) watching from my bedroom window.

However, it is more than the plants in our patch that brings pleasure. It’s observing the wildlife that also shares our efforts. Birds squabbling over the seed feeders. Sparrows cueing for the birdbath, often playing “let’s see how many of us can bathe at once today”.

Over recent years I’ve been fortunate enough to be watching at the right time to see  Mr & Mrs Blackbird having an early morning dip before strutting around the lawn looking for breakfast. A greater spotted woodpecker who drops in sometimes for a peanut feast – I never realised how small this bird is – the same size as the blackbird. The nuthatch, a small, shy, blueish bird that also likes the nuts, as do the great tits and blue tits who nest in my neighbour’s holly tree. And always robins; often two or three bobbing around the garden or sitting on the fence waiting for that right moment to jump down and enjoy the mealworms I put out on the flowerbeds. The rare visit of a kingfisher (my favourite bird). And best of all, these past two years goldfinches have looked upon my garden as an all-day restaurant, so I always ensure there are plenty of nyger seeds and sunflower hearts for them, which the other birds love too.

But it’s more than the birds. Always we have of frogs, large and small, loads of tiny young ones no bigger than a fingernail when they first venture out. One large fellow lives permanently in the greenhouse, another in the frog pond – a flat-sided planter among the flowers.

Every year we have field mice, beautiful creatures that mop up the dropped birdseed, becoming almost tame and not scampering away the instant they see us. There’s slowworms too – lovely legless lizards people often mistake for snakes, which they’re not. These nest and hatch their young in the compost bin and in summer are frequently seen slithering among the undergrowth or across the lawn to seek shade.

Not forgetting the bees galore! This year has seen an explosion of them in the garden thanks to a large lavender bush that’s exceeded my expectation. They love it, along with the dahlias, poppies, daisies and cosmos we grow. And I mustn’t forget the caterpillars and butterflies, although this year we haven’t seen as many as usual, but that’s the nature of nature.

 

The garden is and always has been our lifeline, a calm oasis where we can forget the troubles of the world. It keeps us fit. It always makes us smile, brings happiness and joy. And long may we be able to continue that enjoyment.

Regardless of how busy or difficult your world might be, always make time, no matter how short, to stop and observe the world around you. Listen to the birds singing, and make the effort when and where you can to smell the roses or the carnations, or the lilies, honeysuckle or lavender. It’ll be well worth it for the good feelings it brings.

Kit Domino’s Website and Blog

August. Already the 9th?

Jillian here. Can you believe it’s already August and the 9th at that? It’s weird that some days seem to take forever to pass and yet, before we know it, another week has gone by. Or it could be just me. Funny how time can slow in one respect and quick in another.

July was busy at work—never seems to let up. I have one case driving me a bit over the bend and I’m praying it ends soon. It’s like torture. I want to get in there and try the thing and put it past me, but opposing counsel is in the “paper the other side to death” mode and is relentless. I’m pretty sure I’m going to win the war, but the daily/weekly battles are wearing me down.

Visited with my parents and sister today. We watched an episode of Midsomer Murders  (love that series) and I had to say to them, “This makes me glad we have a nice, boring family with no psychopaths.”

I’ve written three short stories and submitted them for consideration for three anthologies. I like shorts as they are quick and the whole thing can be in my head at once. One of them is set in New Orleans. One is a Krampus story and one is at Halloween. Hoping for good news on one at least.

I had oral surgery 12 days ago and the stitches come out on Wednesday. They are driving me bonkers and my tongue can’t—or won’t—leave them alone. It’s annoying me. 😁

Hope you’re all having a nice summer. It’s hotter than Satan’s front porch here, but that’s pretty normal for us in August and September- our two hottest months of the year.

Now that I’ve whined all over this post, I’ll go have a glass of iced tea and catch y’all later.

Here is Hobbes on International Cat Day (yesterday)— he’s got the right idea. E67B25C7-776D-4900-8FD0-21008FB509DA

Going at your own speed…

So, I had a pretty lazy weekend and spent most of it catching up on reading and watching TV.  That’s not the norm for me, but I felt my energy levels needed a recharge.

Something I did notice while watching lifestyle shows, was that they all seem to be time-sensitive. I saw programmes on how to renovate a house in a weekend, plant a garden from scratch in a day, and cook up a feast for twelve in under two hours (okay, I might be exaggerating, but you get the gist). Participants are put under enormous pressure to stick to the time limit.

It seems that everywhere we look there’s a pressure to do things fast. Even the writers among us aren’t immune. There’s write a book in a weekend, plan a seven-part series in one evening, or release a book every month (or a week in some cases) if you want to be really successful.  Okay, most of us see this for what it is and do our own thing (thank goodness), but the inherrent pressure (which is often subconscious) can sometimes be debilitating.

We all bloom at different speedsThis pressure to do everything fast can lead to a kind of comparison-itis. That feeling that if we’re not doing things as fast as our peers we’re slacking off. If we can’t renovate our garden in record time, or write 12,000 words a day, we’re somehow less-than those who are doing these things.

I’m a plodder, always have been. It takes me a while to plan, to think around things – whether it’s what colours to use in that new garden bed I’m planning, or the names of the characters in the new book I’m outlining. For me, that thinking process and having the time to sift around ideas and possibilities is a huge part of the fun. As a writer I like to spend days getting to know the characters, researching the setting, and any one of the other myriad things that go into developing a story. My characters become real to me, and I think a big part of that is spending so much time with them. I’m not sure I’d get the same satisfaction if I was banging out books at record speed.

I realise not everyone is like me and some people can write really fast and publish very regularly. I’m certainly not saying that quality is affected by speed either, and I could name several writers I love who write super fast and their books are great. Part of me envies them, but at the same time I’m not about to beat myself up for doing it differently.

What about you? Do you like doing projects fast? Or do you prefer taking your time?

Grand Dogs Gotta Love Them

524C92ED-30ED-4EFF-9DA6-01C4F02963DAThe kids decided to take Hoss with them when they made this trip. Even though it was hot they drove straight through and once there they have a/c

And Hoss found the joys of a swimming pool. He loves it. No, he isn’t a lab or lab mix. He’s a giant schnauzer. They said as soon as he saw them come downstairs with their swimming suit’s he was ready for his vest.

If one of them didn’t get right out to the pool he’d go between the house and the pool until they were all in it. No leaving anyone out.

Even though they stayed home to be safe they had a trip filled with memory making. This trip was golden.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blooming Lovely…

Having more time during lockdown has meant that I could finally get around to working on the garden and make some headway on the plans I’ve been mulling over for several years now.

20200602_091646Every year, inspired by Kit’s garden, I’ve always planned to get more colour in our garden. But the season passes and I’m still no further on with those plans, blaming lack of time. No excuses this year. As a result, the garden is starting to look more colourful.

I’ve done a lot of digging and replanting to make way for new plants, most of which I’ve been lucky enough to get locally from a man who sells small plants he’s propagated from those in his garden. I’ve also acquired lots of cuttings from neighbours after admiring their plants while walking Vivvy around our village and the local allotment. I’ve always found gardeners to be a generous bunch – always keen to discuss plants, share knowledge, and of course hand over those cuttings!

So, here’s a small selection of the plants I’m especially loving this year. My current favourites are the hydrangeas, anemones, and peonies. I also love cutting a selection of flowers and foliage to bring into the house. My offerings are still a bit meagre, but I’m getting there – and having a whole lot of fun doing so.

And of course when the digging, planting, and tidying is done for the day, a girl just wants to find a shady nook for a well-deserved afternoon nap:

20200623_134219

Whatever you’re doing this summer, have fun!

***

Check out Faye’s author website at www.fayeavalon.com
and find her on Facebook

Gallery

Spring Into Summer

This gallery contains 3 photos.

Spring is over but many of the trees are in full bloom. This one is amazing. The gal that does my hair has them lining the front of her house. The blooms are as big as my hand.  She said … Continue reading

A Tale of a Tree

Jillian here. It’s June already. Can you believe it? Time is going fast this year even with a lot of places locked down and folks staying home. You’d think that would mean time has slowed,  but it seems like every time I turn around, it’s Thursday again.

June in my backyard means it’s hurricane season. There were two named tropical storms before June 1st which sometimes happens. The third storm, Christobal, hit the Louisiana and Mississipi coast this past weekend. We got some wind, rain and storm surge because of it. We’re about 2 hours from the Louisiana line and 1.3 from Mississippi, so when the storms hit there, we usually get some of it and vice versa.

We have this tree at the office that got struck by lightning a number of years ago in the middle and you can still see the stump of it inside. The cool thing is that the rest of the tree lived and thrived. I think I’ve blogged about it before here. It means a lot to me that this tree defied the odds and kept on going. It seems like our lives are that way. We get hit by bolts—sadness, illness, death of loved ones—yet we keep going. Our core may be hurting, but we keep blooming. Each time I look out my office window, I see that tree and think about it. I watched that lightning strike and worried about the tree, but it didn’t need my worry, it thrived without it.

Tropical storm Christobal did some damage to my little tree, but it’s still standing. We’ll clear away the debris and leave that lightning-struck core (Picture 4) and new growth as another reminder that when life’s storms come, we can weather them. Maybe not in a pretty way,  but weather them we shall.
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Beach House Memories

12917577We recently purchased a condo in North Myrtle Beach South Carolina.  I’d never been there before we flew down to look at the unit and I love the area. This book is set on the Isles of Palms which is 95 miles from North Myrtle Beach so perfect timing for me to read it.

It opens with Lovie (Olivia Rutledge) again at her beloved beach cottage. She is an old lady and in the last stages of cancer. The story is designed like a sandwich with the first and last chapter in the present and the rest of the book mainly about the summer of 74 at the beach. A plus is the sub plot where they study loggerhead turtles and the newly hatched babies. We saw some nesting spots when we were in Florida. These creatures are amazing.

Lovie finds love this summer and she truly finds herself. We all face crossroads in life. Some us face more than others, but  I think we all wonder what our life would have been if we had taken the other road.

As I read this story I thought that everyone over maybe 60 should read this book. Choices were made that changed the course of life and in the end, if you believe in soul mates you can believe that these two will meet again.

Maybe it’s where I live, but I seem to be more aware of the life journey than I once was.  Here it’s 55 and older, and there have been a lot of changes on our street.  One couple downsizing to an apartment, another moving to a local assisted living, another choosing to move across the state to be closer to their daughter and they also chose assisted living.  One lady described it to me as turning to a new chapter.  This book made me look back and see more clearly the chapters of my own life story.

A recommended read for sure.