Category Archives: Winter

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

Christmas – In Song

Jillian here. I promise I had my idea for this post before I saw Lavada’s Elvis song. 🙂 I thought I’d share some links to some of my favorite Christmas songs.

My all time favorite is Do you Hear What I Hear by Bing Crosby

Michael Crawford (the original Phantom of the Opera) has a fab Christmas album. My two favs on there are Mary Did You Know and Strange Way to Save the World. The second one always makes me tear up.

Harry Belafonte’s Mary’s Boy Child is another one I love.

A bouncier song is Vince Vance and the Valiants All I Want for Christmas is You – It is def not the Mariah version and I like it much better.

I adore the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Their song, Dream Child is one I listen to over and over. I could only find a live version of it, so I am linking to the words as they are so beautiful.

Seth McFarlane can be vulgar in his comedy, but he does have a wonderful Christmas album. His gift for voices shines in the album songs.

What about you? What are some of your Favorites? And let me know if I screwed up any of the links! Happy December!

Season of Mists…

Okay, so I’m not an autumn/winter person. I’d much rather a lovely sunny, warm spring or summer day than the ones we’ve been experiencing this week here in the UK: cold, damp and pretty depressing.

That said, today’s doggie walk was really atmospheric. I’ve blogged before about how much I love our local woods and this week the early morning mists (that have lasted all day) turned them into something special.

What’s more, it got my paranormal juices a-popping. I could just see a nice juicy shifter stalking out of those trees – panther, wolf – I’m not fussy, and before long I had an idea for a new series. But, total shocker, this writer didn’t have her mini voice recorder with her, nor pen or paper to jot down my thoughts. I know, I should hang my head in shame. What writer goes anywhere without the means by which to get those often fleeting thoughts down before they are lost to the ether?

Thankfully, the gist of my idea was still there by the time I got home and I was able to scribble down my thoughts. But, lesson learned. I don’t plan on getting caught out again. The mini recorder is now safely ensconsed in the ‘walkies’ bag, complete with fresh batteries!

How about you? Do you always carry a means by which you can jot down your thoughts/ideas/plans when you’re away from home? A notebook/mini recorder/phone? Let me know how you capture those thoughts 🙂

For once, I’m lost for words…

It’s not very often that I’m at a loss for words, but I have to admit that I’m struggling with what to write for my January blog post.

January has been a challenging month in many ways with some niggly health problems which have kept myself and AJ pretty much home-bound. AJ, a great outdoorsman who absolutely loves taking himself and Viv out into the woods and fields every day for long walks, has been suffering from a painful condition called plantar fasciitis. He’s been walking with a stick and can only manage short walks. He’s been doing his exercises every day and thankfully he seems to be on the mend now, much to Viv’s delight (mum doesn’t walk nearly as far as dad does, LOL).

Plus, we’ve both had some chesty virus which had hung around for ages, and I’ve had a flare-up of a stomach problem that rears its ugly head this time of year for some reason. All-in-all, it’s not been a bundle of laughs around here 🙂

So, the only thing I can think of to post about is the great movies and TV series we’ve been watching (thanks, Netflix!) One of which has been the new Witcher series. Has anyone been watching? Of course, it has Henry Cavil to recommend it, and he’s always easy on the eye (even as Geralt), so I think that perhaps added to its appeal. I’ve also especially enjoyed The Last Witch Hunter (see a pattern here?) and The Crown and Virgin River. Plus, here in the UK, we have a show called Dancing on Ice which I’m enjoying and a couple of excellent crime drama series.

At first, it felt like all that enforced TV watching was a waste of time and I kept feeling guilty that I didn’t have any energy to write, but it has certainly filled my well, and I’m ready to get back to some serious writing now.  Fingers crossed.

How has your January been?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Myself

Gallery

Snow, Stories, and one very Ticked-Off Cat…

This gallery contains 4 photos.

Since everyone’s probably tired of hearing about (and seeing) snow, I’ll make this quick. We had over a foot of snow. That’s crazy for us. We usually get this shadow effect from the mountains around us and don’t get the … Continue reading

Beginning 2019

Hi All,

This is my first blog of the year, I missed January’s.  I was off getting  another sunny start to the year. Much like 2018 except this time we came home to record snow.

We left Washington on the 28thof December and what a month.  First of all the family flew down to Arizona the 5ththrough the 12th getting back in time to start the Christmas festivities.  We had a really good time, but it did make for a very busy few weeks.

Three of us drove down this year. The picture is of the three of us standing in the lobby of the London Bridge Resort where we stayed the night.

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The drive down was great. I loved the new Highlander with all of its safety features. It was hard to give up the Lexus, but after a lot of going back and forth between the two, the Highlander was better, at least for me.  Coming back the weather was iffy we finally took a chance on what looked like a window and left a week earlier than we had planned.  A good thing as we got back on Wednesday the 6th of February and record-breaking snow hit on Friday.  I managed to get to the grocery and bank on Thursday so was set for a week of pretty much being snowed in. Marie posted pictures of what the snow looked like here in the Pacific NW. It was pretty, and then it wasn’t. 🙂

This year was different in that Linda and I took off from Arizona and flew to Cancun mid-January. We met up with family there. Seven in all and we had a really fun time.  We did get some rain which is a first for us on the tropical winter vacations but it was still warm.

So now settling back into “normal”.  And, planning to stay home for a while.

I’m ready for Spring!!!!!!

 

 

 

 

 

Paint and Snow

Apologies for being a little late with this month’s post. I blame Word 2010. It’s been playing up, crashing for no reason, changing fonts without my blessing and goodness knows what other mischief. It seems I’m not the only one either, from what I’ve gleaned on the internet. I was just about to load my post when it crashed again, so I gave up. Never mind. I’m here now.

What a busy month January turned out for me. If someone had told me a little over 12 years ago when I began painting that I would find myself being an art tutor, I would never have believed them. Likewise, when I accepted the opportunity to teach acrylic painting to a group in my art club, I never expected how much of my time it would take. Who would have thought teaching for 2 hours every Friday afternoon for 4 weeks would take over my life entirely.

I had no idea of the abilities of those attending, and without this information, I had to structure the sessions to fit all comers.  I found out at the first session at least six had never painted before. Others were already members of the art group, but had either never used acrylics or had tried them without success. What was I going to say? What would we paint? Could I paint a half-decent picture in front of an audience? Did I know enough to fill up 8 hours.

I made copious notes, and wrote my opening dialogue out several times, so it at least sounded as if I knew what I was talking about. I then played it back using TextAloud, to check I didn’t waffle on for too long and to make sure it made sense. I had several sleepless nights pondering on everything. Worrying, not that I couldn’t pull it off, but whether my nerves and my voice would hold out. It goes croaky and quiet if I talk too much.

I need not have worried. I had a full class: 20 people. More than anticipated but I didn’t have time to give as much individual attention as I had planned to. We had laughs, we had questions, we had fun, and they came back the following week, so I must have been doing something right. But again, I spent hours working on my notes and dialogue and order of the day. And I didn’t mess up once. My thanks in all this go to my writing group (the Ivy Writers) who, over the years, have given me the confidence to read my work out aloud. A nervous, shaking wreck the first time I had to read out anything; now I have no problems doing so. It all comes with practice. A bit like painting, as I told my acrylic beginners.

The third week arrived and painting continued, but I realised I had chosen a too ambitious a painting for my class. I should have picked a much simpler piece, for them and for me. It’s not easy standing at an easel because I always sit when I’m painting. I had to paint large too, so those at the back could see, and I had to work almost sideways at the easel. If I stood in front they wouldn’t have seen anything. Another week working on my final notes, closing dialogue etc. It was all I could think about all week.

The fourth and final day dawned, heralded by 5 inches of snow, roads blocked, schools closed, as was the venue we use. Disappointment all round. I had hoped to have a photo of my entire group. Pictures of the paintings they produced, and some feedback on the entire course. At this point in time, I do not know if we can rearrange to this Friday.

I’ve enjoyed it all. Learned a lot myself. Gained confidence. Made new friends in the art group. My notes haven’t gone to waste. The art group has asked me to run the course again later this year. I will know what I’m doing. I won’t have to spend weeks working on my lessons. I have time to find a simple painting for them to work from. I know what to leave out, what to emphasise.  And out of the snow day, a new painting is emerging. Watch this space!

Kit’s Website and BlogKit’s Kitchen,  Kit’s Art  Site

A New Year Begins

A Happy New Year!

It can’t be 2019 already, can it? Where’s the last one gone? Gone far too quick, that’s for sure. Seems like only yesterday I was saying a Happy New Year 2018 to you all. I hope you’ve all enjoyed the recent festivities. Ours was quiet, just as we like it, with my mother, Dave and I together over the period. This year, for a change we opted for a traditional Christmas dinner of turkey, including sprouts, followed by Christmas pudding, something Dave would never eat once upon a time. Now he asks for it and is hoping when we next go shopping the store will have some left. He even enjoyed the mince pies,  Lebkucken biscuits and Stollen –things he’s always turned his nose up to before. He’s also ventured into the pleasure of eating yoghurt, and curries. (Okay, who is this man and what have you done with the real Dave?)

Mother enjoying a quiet moment.

Boxing Day was made even more enjoyable by a surprise visit from our daughter and two grandchildren. My mother, their great-grandmother, was delighted to see them as she doesn’t have much opportunity to nowadays. I often think the term “grandchildren” sounds wrong for adult grandkids. There needs to be a better one. Any suggestions?

As Dave packs away the Christmas tree and decorations into the loft, I have a quiet moment to look back on 2018 in the Domino household. It’s certainly been a busy year, one with many ups and frequent let downs, highlights and disappointments, and worry over the health of one of my sisters, who thankfully is now okay. And a sad one too, with the loss of two family members, but made up for by a new little member to the clan, which I’ve yet to meet. We endured a freezing spring with the Beast from the East, made up for by a gloriously hot summer to remember. And it was a year that saw a milestone for us with our 40th wedding anniversary, not that we celebrated; we never do.

It’s also been an expensive year as we’ve revamped and restocked the garden and the dining/living room, and had to unexpectedly change what was meant to be our car for life. This was thanks to a design fault in the sunroof which let in water when it rained, destroying all the electrics. And having paid out previously for a costly repair which didn’t work, the car had to go. We are thrilled with our serendipitous replacement, so it turned out good in the end.

Back in May, I enjoyed a successful art exhibition which led to a few sales and a request to teach an art class, which starts next week for 4 sessions. I’m feeling quite chuffed although a little daunted and nervous at the prospect.  The response for a place was so overwhelming, I’ve already been asked to run another later in 2019.

I missed having a holiday abroad, but fully intend to make up for it this year by having two (or more if I can!), and maybe I can finally get Dave abroad again.

So what else does this year hold in store for me? Teaching more art classes, perhaps? I will if the opportunity arises. And I must, must, must, stop dithering and wasting time on social media and other things when I should be writing. I’ve no excuse, but as we all know, it’s so easy to let it slip. And with at least four books either finished, nearly finished or even half-way finished, I need to knuckle down. That’s where the disappointments came last year. Too many rejections. But I shall not give up. I mean, what else am I supposed to do whilst it’s cold, and he’s downstairs watching cricket, and rugby, and American football? No, no excuses at all.

And what of your year? Whatever you have planned I wish you one of good health and harmony and success in whatever you do to make it a VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR indeed.

Kit’s Website and Blog, Kit’s Kitchen,  Kit’s Art  Site