Category Archives: Vacations

To Cruise or Not to Cruise

We got to take a cruise last month! When COVID hit, we cancelled four cruises we had scheduled. Last month, we finally got to take a replacement cruise. And you know what? It was awesome. We did Alaska, which we’ve done twice before. This time, instead of doing the inside passage, we did a round trip Seattle which took a route on the west side of Vancouver Island.

Embarkation, settling in, and our favorite foods.

And we caught COVID. As careful as we were, masking on board ship and ashore, washing out hands, we still caught COVID. Thankfully, we’re vaxed and boosted so didn’t have a bad case. Cold symptoms and I had a headache for a few days. The worst thing was the lack of energy. That took a while to return.

And now that we’re past that, I have to ask myself if it was worth it.

The answer is: Yes.

We’ve always enjoyed cruising. You unpack once and see so many places. Even having been to Alaska, it was great to go again. Like greeting old friends. And we made some new ones on the cruise, which I’m very grateful for.

And now, looking forward, we’ll take more cruises. Maybe not for a few months. I’d personally like to see what COVID does this winter. But we’ll embark again as it really is our favorite way to vacation.

I hope you’ve been able to find a way to get away and relax. Retired or working, we all need a change of scenery once in a while.

For more information about Laurie Ryan:
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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

Remodel and Renewal

Remember paneled walls? Not the cool wainscoting or shiplap, but the old, brown, thin stuff with the dark indented lines to make it look like fake wood? Well, that’s our family room in a nutshell. Straight out of the 20th century. 🙂

We made the decision that it was time to bring the room into the 21st century. The paneling is gone. Hallelujah!  My husband did all the demo and is in the process of re-insulating the room.

Then the plumbers come in to re-pipe the last part of the house that hasn’t had new plumping since it was built. After that, it’s sheetrock time! I can hardly wait to see what it looks like, and I’ll have to post finished pics if/when we ever get this done.

Once the sheetrock is done, it’s time for my project. Cleaning the fireplace rock.

I’ve done some research into it and it just takes time. I’m also considering re-painting the grout. The sheetrock will be so light, I think the grout will look dull in comparison. But, I won’t be able to decide until I get the rock cleaned.

While waiting for my turn, I decided to get away from it all and renew my psyche in my happy place. The ocean. Whether calm or blustery, it soothes my soul.

I hope you have a place you can head for to renew yourself. We all need that sometimes, eh?

Have a wonderful May!

For more information about Laurie Ryan:
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Precious Times

Most of you may know my family does a winter getaway each year. We call it a winter cabin that we rent, but with our numbers topping 20, it’s really way beyond a cabin. We didn’t do it at all last year because of COVID. This year, also because of COVID, only 8-12 made it.

I’m really proud of how well we did. We were all vaccinated. We all tested before going to the cabin. And now that we’re past the isolation mark, no one has gotten sick with COVID from the cabin. It took a lot of work to make that happen and the kids worried, especially, about hubby and I. But we did it and I’m really glad we did.

There was a LOT of snow.

We saw deer and wild turkeys.

We painted (a lot). Here’s my attempts at art and my granddaughter’s ocean picture.

And we talked, chatted, ate too much, and yes, may have inbibed a bit. This annual catching up weekend is precious to each and every one of us and I’ll be praying that next year, COVID doesn’t put a wrench in our cabin machinery.

I hope you’re having a wonderful, cozy winter that fills you with happy memories.

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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

Cancun

We usually travel in January to take a break from Pacific NW weather, but this year we decided it would be safer to go to Cancun in April.  I loved it and felt completely safe. There were six of us and we have all had our covid vaccine shots except for one person. We’ve been to Cancun numerous times so this time we did stay in the resort which worked perfectly. 

Moon Palace has three palaces and we stayed in the Villa at the Grand. It’s the first time we’ve stayed at this one and it’s my favorite so far. We had a private pool, small but it looked down on the huge pool area and they had activities and music for a lot of the day. It was like having a ring side seat. I got a little pink but no burn. 

The first dinner we had was at a French restaurant and ‘Oh My Gosh’.  For an appetizer I had scallops sautéed in wine and covered in Hollandaise sauce.  I could have made a meal on multi orders of just that. But I had steak for the entree. I wouldn’t have recognized if off the menu without help from the waiter. Another night we went to the steak house and it wasn’t even close to this one. Well except for size.  French servings are a lot smaller and a good thing as I think it’s criminal to go to a French restaurant and not at least look at the dessert menu. Yeah of course just ‘look’, not.  I had Creme Brulee.  

The resort was extremely cautious and very generous with the hand sanitizer.  Someone posted this on Facebook. “I have used so much hand sanitizer that I’m cleaning the toilet when I go wee.”  No kidding, they had people stationed all over that was squirting the stuff on our hands. 

Jules, one of our group, is athletic and among other things took a lesson in surfing.  We had lunch overlooking the surf pool and enjoyed every minute of the entertainment.  The resort wasn’t anyway near capacity so the service was over the top.  Some of the surfers were really good. I couldn’t have done it in my best years and I’m a long way from there now. 

Again, I think this villa is my favorite. 3 bedrooms, 5 bathrooms (3 attached to bedrooms with 2 extra) a small pool, a hot tub, and 5 patio’s. Here’s some pictures, I am ready to go back to this one. 

Happy Places

I’m a water person. I love being near the water. In January, I went to the beach by myself to get some oceanside time. It was a new rental in a new area for me and I keep saying I found my happy place. It was 160 steps down the path to be on the beach. And I could watch the waves from our bottom floor apartment, as well.  A couple weeks ago, I went back with hubby and he liked it too. Now, he’s a farm guy, so our little acre of grass and garden is his happy place. But he gladly went with me to see mine.

We got lucky with one day of abundant sunshine and we got out geocaching the area. For those of you who might now know about geocaching, it’s kind of like urban treasure hunting (without the treasure.) People hide containers with paper logs in them and we use our GPS to find them and sign the log, then go online and log that we found it. It gets us out walking and we’ve found some really neat hidden places this way. If you’re interested in learning more about it, you can check geocaching out here.

Anyhow, after the day of out and about, we had a very stormy day. Windy, sideways rain, angry waves etc. We were snug in our little place and got to watch the storm blow through for most of the day. That was as cool as the sunny day before.

I can hardly wait to go back, but alas, this particular rental is very popular and I might not make it back there again until fall. But it’s in my heart and I’ve got lots of pictures to remind me when I feel the tug.

Where’s your happy place? Is it at home, at the beach, deep in the forest, in a high rise apartment in the midst of all the hubbub of the city?

In other news, I released a short story last week in my fantasy line. Wolf’s Call was the final time I’d be with the characters I developed for the Earth Legacy series. I’ll admit I cried writing it, cried editing it, and cried when it released. That series, for me, was a years long endeavor and the characters were dear to my heart. You can find out more about Wolf’s Call here.

For more information about Laurie Ryan:
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A Brighter Light

The weather in England is a fickle thing. Two days ago, here in the West County we were shivering at minus 5 deg, the central heating turned up high, and outside in the garden the plants were blackened, laying prone and looking decidedly deceased. Then overnight, it all changed as we basked in temperatures over 12 degs, warm enough (almost) to sit outside and have our coffee. Today, although it started raining heavily at 5:30am, it is currently 13 degs, if overcast, and I’ve just turned the heating off for the day. The garden has recovered too. My hellebores are once again upright and looking fit, the pansies and other plants making a comeback. It feels that Spring has sprung.

All this is in sharp contrast to this day last year. It was the day Dave and I returned from our winter sun holiday. We’d enjoyed Spanish sun in temperatures over 25 degs, some days, hitting 30! But on Feb 16th 2020, our flight was delayed because of fog in Malaga, and in the UK the hatches were battened down as Storm Dennis battered the country with 70 mph winds and lashing rain. Let us hope it’s the last of the cold and frosts and snow this winter, and any further storms are gone but somehow I have a feeling some may return before Easter.

But let’s look on the bright side. Evenings are getting lighter each day, at the moment I’m not closing the blinds or putting the lights on until 5:45pm. A week ago, it was at 5:00pm. Dawn is arriving earlier and earlier. It’s light now long before 7:00am. This time of year is always one of optimism, new starts, new hope, new life. Perhaps more so this year as the Covid jabs are rolling out apace here, cases are falling, and the Government talking of how and when to ease us out of lockdown.

Now, I don’t know about you, but since Dave and I had our first jab, we are feeling a lot more cheerful, if that could be possible. Whilst we are always happy and comfortable in our surroundings, enjoying life and the current situation as best we can, it feels as if a lot of the pressure has been lifted, pressure we hardly realised was there. More noticeable is the fact that we are both sleeping better, more soundly and since the jab, I haven’t had one peculiar or weird dream, nor am I waking up several times during the night. Of course, a good night’s sleep does lead to a less stressful day. Now I’m woken up by the dawn chorus of robins and blackbirds, not by the urgent need to use the bathroom countless times; although Dave does put that down to my age. Cheeky man!

I’m now in the mood to venture out on a daily walk, something I’ve avoided due to the bad weather and you-know-what. I’ve missed ambling around our local park and woods and need to get out there and watch springtime wake up. Before long the bluebells will be out in the woods, and I don’t want to miss them this year. I’m in need of their inspiration.

Yes, folks, there is a light that is getting brighter at the end of the tunnel we’ve all been crawling through this past year. We’re getting there. Things are getting better and I am determined to make it a good one. If we’ve got through all this together, we can get through anything.

Keep on shining, light, we need you.

Kit Domino’s website and blogs

And Breathe….

Yes, 2020 is here. A Happy New Year to you all. A new year, new beginnings. I was certainly happy to see the back of 2019, as were so many people I have spoken with, all of whom equally had a bad year for one reason or another. We had my mother stay with us for Christmas week despite my not being able to stand up for long and none of us in the mood to celebrate for various reasons but we enjoyed ourselves nonetheless. Dave, bless him, did all the shopping, prepared all the veg, cooked Christmas lunch (with me supervising), and cleared away everything, looking after us both brilliantly. I say both, as Mum also had a bad leg, caused by being hit on the shin by a recalcitrant supermarket trolley back in October, causing a cut on her leg that went septic, the dressing having to be changed every two days. Thankfully, it had now healed.

Still, that is all history now and I am starting the year back on my feet, no crutches, only the occasional painkiller needed, and able to walk properly and drive again. Things are not quite recovered but I’m certainly well on the way, walking more each day as the weather permits as there is so much to look forward to this year. Starting with next month, when Dave and I are off on holiday again, this time to mainland Spain. And boy, am I looking forward to it as last year’s was tinged with sadness and illness.

Once we are back from our trip, we must do some work revamping our kitchen. The ceiling needs replacing, a new floor laid and we would like a new cooker. Not that there’s anything wrong with the freestanding one we’ve got but we want an eye-level oven because bending down as I get older is slowly becoming a problem. To fit one in requires a lot of rejigging of the current units which we don’t want to replace as there is nothing wrong with them.

I’m busy working on my new novel which I intend to see published this year. It’s already written but I have decided to introduce another main character into the story, so a fair amount of rewriting is necessary. I’m also programmed in to run a second art course at my painting group in March, and trying to decide what to demonstrate etc. I missed not being able to paint whilst I was laid up but finally managed to complete a painting I began back in the summer, something large and colourful to brighten up a bare wall, so I came up with “Tulips”. It is currently hanging in our lounge until such time as it sells… if it sells.

The best part of this year so far for me is, in fact, the garden. The weather here is currently very mild, though windy, but already the snowdrops are out and the crocus in the lawn up with many in bud, enough to see their colour. The daffodil bulbs are growing tall and dotted around the garden the hellebores are about to burst into flower. Seeing everything emerging is a sure sign the world has tilted and turned a corner, like me, and Spring is well on its way.

That’s all from me for the moment, folks. Next month, on my due date for posting, I will be jetting my way back from holiday thus my post may be a day or too late, so apologies in advance.

Kit Domino’s Website and Blog

Spring in November

C12D3BB9-7B5A-432B-8959-31DD8D13C38FSince we won’t be going to Arizona this coming January we decided to take the month of November to get a respite from winter. By leaving the end of October we felt safe in changing the route we usually take and instead traveled along the Columbia Gorge to Boise and then cut down on Hwy 93 at Twin Falls.

I’ve been on 93 as far as Wells Nevada quite a few times but it’s been a lot of years since I’ve been on it into Ely.  We saw a smattering of snow and Ely was experiencing some really cold weather. We spent the night there and it was supposed to get to -7 the next morning.  Karen and I dug out sweatshirts and winter coats, but it didn’t last and as we got closer to Vegas we were on the side of the road getting back to t-shirts.

Travel traffic was good until we got to Vegas. Oh my gosh, we deserved a couple of gold stars for that part of the drive. Their freeway design looks like a bowl of spaghetti.  The navigation was almost continually pointing us to take exit this, then a left, then exit that, we finally landed off the freeway and found ourselves in a downtown area. The navigation was still trying to direct us back into the freeway system, but about the time we were ready to give it another go we spotted ‘Las Vegas Blvd.’. Ah ha, Luxor, where we were staying,  is on this street.  We turned north, wrong, and after what seemed miles we turned around and started south. Now at least the distance on the navigation screen was reducing, but it was still trying to get us back on the freeway.  7 miles out we puttered down the Blvd watching as the distance between us and our destination decreased.  All this time the navigation kept chattering. The bright side of our driving adventure was that Karen hadn’t been to Vegas for years and was enjoying the view. Me, all I could see was cars and more cars. It was early afternoon but it looked more like it was in the middle commute time.

So Vegas, we bought a bus pass that enabled us to hop on and off all day. The route took us down the Las Vegas strip. A friend had told Karen to be sure and see the Venetian.  I agree it’s a must see. If you go take a look at the shop area’s  ceilings.

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Another must is the Bellagio. The conservatory defies description. Pictures don’t do it justice, but here’s the link for them.  They change the theme with the seasons and the tigers were there when we were.  They are one of the animated displays.  We played a little and browsed the Conservatory gift shop.  Then had a drink at the piano bar under a ceiling of Chihuly glass.  Loved our time there.

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Linda (friend since second grade) and I were in Vegas in 2016 and had happy hour at Trevi an Italian restaurant in Caesar’s Forum shop area where the ceiling looks like the sky.  Karen and I found it on this trip and it was as good as ever.  I had a salad … the picture it says it all.  We had a Trevi Bellini drink, a repeat of  2016.  Believe me if you go to Vegas you won’t want to miss at least stopping at the Trevi for a drink. 0B6595E9-44FE-432A-A0ED-88F9A3BE83AD

 

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From Vegas it would have been a short day to Glendale even with going through Oatman.  It was Halloween and we expected to get in early and stop for candy but hit construction. They closed the freeway so it turned out to be a two hour detour.  Again, a real driving experience.

We’ll be heading back after Thanksgiving but have so loved Arizona in November we may do it again.  A lot of pool time and lazy days.