Category Archives: Winter

February In Arizona

Back in sunny Arizona for the month.  Today it was reporting snow flurries in Lacey and Tumwater and we are whining that its forecast for 66 here which will mean it will get up to a little above 70 in their backyard.  It’s been a lazy month as we’ve seen a lot of the tourist places now so this month is sort of a laid back do nothing one.  We have been visiting with friends and family that have come down for a few days or have moved here.

I had planned to do some writing but this darn laptop is skipping when I type. I turned off the keypad and that helped a lot but only figured it out a few days ago so what the heck. I’ll catch up when I get home.

I’m going to make reservations for the trip back home later today. Coming down we stayed a night in Mt. Shasta at the Tree House and I would recommend it. It’s a Best Western and older but has a cozy ambiance. Here are some pictures. We ate in the bar as the dining room wasn’t open but they use the same menu. Really great food and looked like locals were enjoying it which is always a good sign.

You could tell you were in the mountains. Going back we are going to treat outselves to an extra night at Seven Feathers.  Do a little gambling. Its an easy drive home from there.   

Right now we are about to leave for the Yard House, a local restaurant, to catch happy hour.  Gosh a hard life.  The Yard House is another recommendation. It’s Ricks favorite place to go. Its an  American sports bar chain, with 80+ locations across the United States. I heard there is even one in Seattle. 

Made it back and they have a new drink on their menu. A Paola Margarita. And, oh my gosh is it good. Linda and I both ordered it and Kris and Arlene had a second drink so they could have one. Too bad Linda and I are one drink (at the most) gals because I sure could have had another one.  

With March here, spring is right around the corner. Hoping your world is coming up roses.

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.

For more information about Laurie Ryan:
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Crowning Glories

I love a bobble hat. No idea why, but they make me happy 🙂 I have dozens, well, perhaps not dozens but I have an awful lot. My collection started relatively conservatively, with a couple of dark-coloured ones, but lately I’ve gotten much more adventurous. This is my latest acquisition – reckon people will see me coming from a mile off, but I absolutely love it!

Walking Vivvy here in the chilly UK, a good hat is an essential item to brave our winter elements. There are some really fun ones around these days, and this is next on my list (maybe I can get AJ to buy it for my as a Valentine’s gift?) What do you think? Would you wear it?

The history of the bobble hat is an interesting one. Apparently it dates as far back as the Viking era, supported by the fact that a small statue of a Norse god wearing one was discovered early in the twentieth century. Bobble hats, or pom-poms, often depicted military rank or regiment in some European nations, and it is said that sailors often wore them to stop them hitting their head on the low lying beams of a ship, especially during rough seas..

They became popular during the Depression, apparently because they were a relatively cheap way to keep heads warm. They remain an effective and economical buffer against the elements, and their growing popularity in modern times has meant that we can now access a wide array of styles and colours.

What about you? Are you a pom-pom/bobble hat lover?

Website: www.fayeavalon.com

January 2022- An Ear-ie Tale

Jillian here- Happy New Year- My Christmas was very nice—the son, DIL and grandson visited from the 23rd and left on the morning of the 29th, after a nice family dinner treat by my son for my birthday at one of my favorite places- The Tuscan Oven which is locally owned and they cook in an open flame beehive oven imported from Italy.  Makes for some great pizza, breads and pasta.  I’m attaching a picture of the grand- He’s growing to look more like a little boy than baby.

Our weather this time of year fluctuates wildly- December left us in the high 70s temperature-wise in the day and 60s at night.  Then it went down into the 30s at night and 50s in the day for a few days. Then high 70s again for about 4 days. Now it’s back to 30s at night and 50s in the day. It’s no wonder we can’t figure out what to wear- besides layers, that is. 🙂

I had three ear infections in 2021 and my ear started hurting again a couple of weeks before Christmas. I decided to go to an ENT instead of my regular doctor since, clearly, this was becoming a chronic thing. Weirdly, I had a hard time finding one- first one I called, the number was disconnected; second one was pediatric only (even though website said all ages); third was referral only and first appointment available was March!; and the fourth, I was able to get an appointment—their website had no reviews, so I figured he was new.

When I got there, he def. was new as the place still smelled like fresh construction and one employee was putting together some desks. Other furniture was being delivered as well. Lots of fancy equipment as well—expensive!  They did a CT scan of my head first thing and then asked me a ton of questions about my sinuses (!) and then the triage nurse asked if I’d been using nasal spray—I said, “I have an ear infection. I’d never think of nasal spray for that.” Her response? “It’s all connected.” When I told her I hated that stuff anyway as it goes down the throat and tastes terrible, she responded by squirting stuff into both my nostrils!! WHAT?!?

By the time the physician’s assistant came in, I WAS having breathing issues.  That chick’s nasal spray clogged my right side. It was crazy. I was there for EARS! Actually just one ear… LOL

More fancy equipment was a big screen television and a camera the PA stuck in my ear – then all the glory of my inner ear was on the screen—it looked pretty disgusting. She said the right ear now had a fungal infection—the others had been bacterial and had never healed so it was now a fungus…I didn’t really understand haw that happens, but whatever, just fix me.

The PA had the doctor come in to verify that it was fungal to give me the right meds. He cleaned my ear out with another fancy piece of equipment and made a comment to the PA that I had eczema in the inside of my ear. Well, of course, I heard him say it since my ear was right there, so I asked if the fungal infection could cause that since I’ve never had eczema before. He was unbelievably arrogant and dismissive when he responded to me—I can’t say he answered my question because he didn’t—he spouted a bunch of nonsense saying I must be susceptible to yeast infections. He acted offended that I would ask a question of his royal highness. I did not like him at all. I’ve never had a yeast infection either—and how does that relate to eczema? Or my ear infection? It was totally bizarre!

As soon as the doctor left the room, the PA apologized for his behavior. She said he was rude and she was sorry. How odd is that? Even she noticed it –I didn’t even say a word about it and really, had not planned to. It seems he is more interested in sinus issues and allergies as the triage nurse had asked me about having a battery of allergy testing done (which also was not why I was there).

I got a prescription and a follow up visit set, but I’m not sure I want to return to Weirdsville even though I liked the PA.  I can say this though, as a professional myself, he is not going to make it very far in this new endeavor of his (and be able to pay for all his fancy gadgets) unless he learns to be tolerant, kinder and more patient with the patients (LOL- see what I did there?).

Enjoy your January!

Gallery

December 2021

The older I get the faster the years roll by. It hardly seems possible I am posting my last blog for the year.  And, today is the Winter Solstice. I am always ready for this day because tonight is the longest … Continue reading

Best Laid Plans

Sometimes the best-laid plans go awry, as mine did this very day. I had planned to spend it writing: first my post for OTBF, then the remainder of the day working on my novel. The morning started out well until the phone rang. It was my doctor’s surgery calling to rearrange my regular blood check. As here in the UK we are plunged into a booster jab panic I was fully expecting this call informing me the scheduled appointment for this Friday coming, was cancelled. Instead, it was moved to today. This morning. In an hour’s time. Fine. The test had to be done, so be it. As my day was now disrupted, I decided to afterwards drive to a different supermarket, hoping to find a few things needed that our usual shop had been out of stock of for some weeks, and thus write my blog post this afternoon.

Walking swiftly around the supermarket, glasses steaming up because of my mask, I literally bumped into a work colleague I hadn’t seen for what proved to be 25 years! We had a lot to catch up on, so we agreed to go for a coffee in a nearby coffee shop. Coffee turned into lunch, and I didn’t arrive back home until 3.30 this afternoon (you know how it goes!). After sinking a cup of tea made by Dave upon my return, I confess I fell asleep in the armchair. So here I am now, at 7pm writing this in a sprint session. But what to write?

Other than today, it has been a quiet four weeks, with little going on here, no gardening to do, art group closed for the holiday until 7th January. I have managed to complete the painting I had started at the group. It turned out well, I think. Called “L’Etang Bleu”, I hope you like it, it’s the last I shall be painting this year.

“L’Etang Bleu”

Talking of Christmas… for the past 22 years, since my father passed away, my mother has always joined us for a week over the Christmas periods. She’s always enjoyed it with us as we don’t make a fuss for the simple reason neither Mum nor my husband enjoy the festivities and it is always quiet and calm here. This year and in future she will not be coming as although she’s okay and quite independent for 96 years old, she can no longer manage our stairs and we have no downstairs bathroom. Last year was difficult for her, so this year it will be just Dave and I.

As it will be only the two of us, last Friday we agreed we wouldn’t bother getting the tree out of the loft. The next morning a gift arrived for us by post. We had no idea whom it was from as the included card simply said “Love from Santa”. It was a real tree, complete with baubles, decorations and lights. I had an idea it was from our daughter who, a few days later confirmed it was, bless her. A lovely, thoughtful choice. After the holiday, we will pot it up in the garden for next Christmas.

This season, sad to say I have found the Christmas adverts on TV rather poor, most are boring and unimaginative, with the majority repeats from last year. There has been only one we’ve liked, an amusing one from Aldi supermarkets. It’s a play on Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Here’s the link.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OW-PhgjyNSs&ab

This weekend, I am driving to Reading to spend a girlie weekend with Mum and my two sisters. These get-togethers are always enjoyable and it will be good to see them. Some of the shopping today was for supplies for this including the wine and cheese.

And because it’s Christmas, we must have a carol. Someone asked me the other day what my favourite one was. My two all-time favourites I’m sure you already know: Silent Night (sung in German) and an old German carol I’ve posted in previous years. There is another one I love, Little Drummer Boy, though I’m not sure whether it is classed a Christmas carol or purely a Christmas song. I do love it and always feel a little blubbery whenever I hear it.

https://youtu.be/Jotjc_U4rwY

My next post will be in the New Year. Let us all hope 2022 will be so much better than the last two and we can all get back to real normality. Whatever you are doing over the holiday season, enjoy, have fun, and most of all, stay safe.

Merry Christmas from Kit.

Kit Domino’s website and blogs

Tree Topper- A Cherished Keepsake

Jillian here. Happy December. I thought I’d share about my tree topper today since I don’t have much else to say exciting — been having some stress at the day job and it’s time to put that aside and talk about something less legally intense. 🙂

In the fall of 1986, I was twenty-five and pregnant with my first child and had been a lawyer for a bit over two years. Back then, salaries weren’t that great. A beginning lawyer made from $18,000-$20,000 a year (which translates to around $43,000- 47,000.00 now with inflation). I had just started a new job with a firm (had previously done overflow work from another lawyer and did okay with that financially, but since I was pregnant, I wanted a more steady salary and benefits). I was making $24,000.00 a year there (about $58,000.00 in today’s money. I’m telling you all this to say that $35.00 for a tree topper was a lot of money in that time ($88.00 with inflation). 🙂

There was a cute shop down the street from the law firm where I worked that sold a variety of items. It’s now a lamp and lighting showroom, but back then, they carried lots of knick-knacks, household furnishings, soft goods and, at the holiday season, it was a wonderland of goodies.

In the first years of our marriage, we had an el-cheapo topper that was a circle with lights and shiny greenery around them. It flashed on and off and was a fun thing on our tree. There was absolutely nothing wrong with it. 🙂

One day, on my lunch hour, I walked around this store and found this lovely Father Christmas who absolutely spoke to me. He looked nothing like our traditional Coca-Cola Santa Claus here in the USA, but he was beautiful and absolutely stole my heart. He’s wearing a silk coat with fur attached and his face, beard, and hands are beautiful porcelain. The toys in his pack are lovely, too–even a little Christmas tree peeking out. I fell in love at first sight. But he was $35.00. It seemed like too much to pay at the time, so I left.

But he was still speaking to me. He was calling my name down the highway and into my office… he was relentless…. so, there was nothing I could do. I had to go back the next day to buy him. He was happy, I was happy, and even the baby I was carrying seemed to approve. 🙂

Now, 35 years later, I still relish getting him out of the Christmas box every year and getting him on the tree. He still makes my heart happy–and at $1.00 per year net cost (so far), he’s been a great investment, right?

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

Testing…testing…

It’s been a cold and wet autumn and winter here in the UK, and the dark evenings and chilly nights call for the comfiest duvets and throws, and not just for us humans. I’ve had my eye on one of those plush donut dog beds for Ms. Vivvy for ages, but since her current bed is not that old I couldn’t really justify a new one.

Well, that didn’t deter my mum from spoiling her beloved grand-dog, and so a special Christmas present duly arrived. The box it came in was so small we thought mum had made a mistake with the size, but then this monster popped out! Vivvy, who is a real creature of habit, and really does not like change, took one look and promptly ran for the safety of the kitchen.

To be honest, it looked so comfortable we felt like claiming it ourselves, and when I lay down on it in the hope of coaxing Her Ladyship to try it out, I could have easily enjoyed a very pleasant nap. We tried everything from gentle persuasion, hiding her favourite treats, and settling her beloved teddy in there. But nope, nothing seemed to work. Then, after several days when we were wondering if we could return it and get my mum’s money refunded, we came in from the kitchen and found this:

Then this…

And finally this…

Those photos were taken on consecutive days because, well, a girl has to make sure there’s nothing in there that will pop up and bite her, doesn’t she? And while our golden girl loves her luxurious new bed, she still favours the old one. Ah well, Rome wasn’t built in a day.

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