Where the heck did July go???

Ack. My apologies. I completely forgot to blog in July. With good reason. We were crazy busy. But I dislike not keeping up with my responsibilities.

So, what all happened in July?

1.  My niece-in-law went into labor at 28 weeks with her twins. Very survivable, but it’s been scary times full of prayers. They were born at 2.6 and 2.8 pounds and needed breathing assistance. I’m happy to say they are both now over four pounds and off breathing assistance. Yay! These boys are fighters.

2.  My granddaughter is part of an elite Drum and Bugle Corps. They come from all over and meet once a month to practice. Then, before their performance tour, they met and stayed in a high school for 2 1/2 weeks, sleeping on the gym floor, to practice 10 hours a day. We had the pleasure of catching one of their performances (most of them were in California) and we were in awe. Playing music, walking backwards, counting steps. They were amazing!

3.  Another granddaughter, during her month off from medical school, got married. That was a joyous occasion. They looked wonderful and the weather was awesome for the outdoor venue. Our soon-to-be doctor and her fireman husband are so good together. Seeing them so happy is very rewarding and I’m smiling as I type this.

4.  We had a family campout the weekend after the wedding. Whew! July’s activities, by this time, were piling up and I was getting a touch tired. But this was an easy-peasy campout and we did a lot of relaxing and rejuvenating.

5.  Lastly, but certainly not least, I helped Marie Tuhart with her table at a Readers and Writers conference. That was a total blast. We got to chat with so many readers and other authors. Saw some wonderful table decorations and even sold a few books. I’ve already signed up for the next one on July 24, 2024. So if you think you’ll be in the Seattle/Tacoma area, stay tuned for more details.

So that was my month. Now, I’m grateful for some down time. I’m behind on a book, so need to seriously focus on getting that done and to my critique partners.

I hope you’re having a wonderful summer, with temperate weather and just enough on the calendary to make it fun.

For more information about Laurie Ryan:
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Back to the Future…

Way back in the day, I learned to type on an old black typewriter. Anyone else remember them? The ones with keys you had to bang on so hard to get them to work? And woe betide if you gathered some speed because if you typed too fast the keys would stick together and you’d get ink on your fingers separating them. Happy days. No, really, they were.

Typing stencils for use on the Gestetner machine was something else. Working with this duplicating machine you had to make sure you didn’t type too hard on the stencil, especially any letter with a circle (o, b, d, p, q), because the circle could disappear beneath a blob of ink and didn’t look too great when printed out – achieved via turning the handle on the side of the machine until you felt your arm would drop off! Any mistakes were corrected with this red fluid that if you sniffed too robustly could get you pretty high!

Things progressed pretty rapidly and soon we had the super-duper electric typewriters. Those things took some getting used to. By the time I had an electric model my speed had progressed and the thing seemed to run away with me. Thankfully tippex was around then and I made good use of it 🙂

Technology moved on and I bought my first computer – an Amstrad 9512. I loved that machine and spent many happy hours on it. I went kicking and screaming into the modern computer age, and while it’s great having new technology which makes life easier (most of the time and when it works properly) I do hanker after those old manual typewriter days, especially the keyboards… Hearing the clackety-clack of productivity made my little heart sing.

When I saw they made old style keyboards I wondered if it was worth buying one and taking a trip down memory lane. Not really able to justify it, I put it on my wish list and kind of forgot about it. Then Amazon Prime Day happened and there it was at a nicely reduced price. Needless to say, it now adorns my desk 🙂 It took a while to get used to as it’s so much smaller/narrower than a modern standard keyboard and it was a few days before I got used to having to press down harder on the keys again. It was hit and miss if the required key was obtained, and there was much mumbling of “this will have to go back” but after persevering I now love it. The clackety-clack is modified, but it’s there. Happy days are here again 🙂

So I’m enjoying my trip down memory lane, although I have to admit that I’m not looking to go back to the days of tippex and carbon copies. No sirree.

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Hello I’m Harley

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People think I am a boy puppy. Probably because my people named me “Harley” but note the pink collar!!!  I am on my first camping trip. Wow it’s a big world out here. Lots to see, and smell, and chew on. … Continue reading

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Technology Issues

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When technology doesn’t work it can throw us off. That’s what happened to me and why this blog post is late. I’ve been trying since Sunday to log into WordPress so I could do my post. Nothing would happen. I … Continue reading

Christmas in July? Well, Sort of….

Jillian here! Hope everyone is having a nice summer. It’s been wild weatherwise here. Over 100 degrees Fahrenheit with over 111 heat index every day for a couple of weeks in June, then rainstorms with thunder and lightning all day, every day (dark as night at noon) for the end of June and first six days of July. As I write this, we’re back to more normal temps of around 85-90 and only small afternoon thunderstorms.

All this heat and rain misery made me decide to start reading a book I got at Christmas – It’s called The Big Book of Christmas Mysteries and is a collection of a ton of stories set at the festive season. Lots of favorite writers have set mysteries at Christmas and this book is chock-a-block. From Agatha Christie to Peter Lovesey, to Colin Dexter, Rex Stout, O. Henry, John Mortimer, Ellery Queen, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (and some new to me authors that I am digging), I am loving this set of stories. The pages are double-columned so its 640 pages is more like 1,280 pages– enough to keep me entertained for the month, I hope… Except I am almost to page 400 already and it’s only 8 days into the month. LOL

I am liking this collection of tales so much, I ordered The Big Book of Ghost Stories edited by this same gentleman. He has great taste in stories.

Here is the cover and the list of stories sorted into types. Hope you recognize some of your favorite writers, too. – I love the picture from the 1930s, don’t you?

On Becoming a Passionate Planner

I’ve never been a huge planner, by that I mean I don’t do much in the way of formal detailed planning. I set goals at the beginning of each week/month/year, but they’re usually quite general and loose, leaving wiggle room which I all too often take advantage of!

Back in January, feeling a bit demotivated and yes, lazy, I signed up for a planning course primarily but not exclusively aimed at writers. I wasn’t desperately excited about it, and saw it more as a necessary means to and end because I’d been backsliding quite considerably and felt I needed a kick up the proverbial. Plus, the course focused on three months at a time which felt fairly doable. Once signed up for the course, you are able to take it again every quarter if you need it.

At first, I struggled with the detail required and wondered if I’d made a huge mistake signing up. The problem stemmed from trying to do everything suggested and getting myself bogged down and frustrated. All that happened was that the rebel in me… well, rebelled.

The second quarter was a bit different and I started adapting the information to suit me. This is something that the course creator (who is absolutely excellent, by the way) stresses all the time – take what works for you and discard the rest. It still didn’t really resonate with me, and I still managed to get bogged down to the point of wanting to throw the whole thing in the air, but I’d paid in full so thought I’d better persevere.

I’ve just finished planning out the third quarter and actually feel like I’ve had a breakthrough. So much so that I’m now loving it! It finally feels like I have a workable plan. One that will (hopefully) work for me. I feel like I’m in control and that’s a really great feeling. So motivated am I that I even bought myself a shiny new planner folder to record everything in, plus a pretty new hole punch, some coloured pens, a paper cutter, and some sticky notes for the Kanban board (which I have learned to love with a passion).

Here’s to July, August and September. Bring it on! Ha! I’ll let you know how it goes.

How about you? Do you have a planning system that works for you?

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A Busy Spring

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People here would say, “What Spring.” Seriously it has been a cool wet few months here in the Pacific Northwest. But this weekend will break the long spell with temps in the 80’s.  Great timing as the horse show is here … Continue reading

Jubilee Fun

If there is one thing the British do well, it’s pomp and circumstance and having fun. The Queen’s 70th Jubilee was no exception. The crowds in London loved it. As did people up and down the country holding street parties, house parties, beacon lighting etc, the celebrations lasting a lot longer than the 2-day bank holiday assigned for the occasion. During the week beforehand, many town and parish councils put on their own celebratory Jubilee Tea Parties for local residents, and I was fortunate to be invited to one at the centre where my art club meets.

The room was strung out with Union Jack bunting, the groaning food table laid out in temptation just inside the main door to the room. All the cakes on offer were homemade by volunteers, including a very large one iced in the Union Jack flag. On entering, I couldn’t see anyone I knew, even though I arrived a good half-hour after the start time. I hate that, being a stranger amongst many others in company they know. Years ago I would have turned and fled.. A gentleman stepped up, offered his hand, introducing himself to me as a local MP, not one I knew as the centre is in a different area to where I live, not that it mattered. Nice chap, asked my connection to the centre, so I was able to proudly tell him I had painted several of the pictures hanging around the room.

The choice of cake was too much to decide so I gathered myself a cup of tea and joined a small group of people I did not know at a table. This might not sound very much to you, but for me, doing such a thing is a big affair for a shy, introverted lady. Normally I would have headed for the nearest empty table, of which there was only one, all the other 20 or so were full.

Having settled into conversation, enjoying the music in the background (all from the 1950s, which I love), two people arrived from my art group and beckoned me to join them at the empty table. Within ten minutes, 10 other members arrived. Back I went to the cake table to choose, made all the more difficult because the lady serving offered me multiple slices of anything I wanted. I love cake but resisted the temptation, enjoyed only a large slice of lemon drizzle cake with another cup of tea.

The atmosphere was jovial, friendly, and noisy. There was also a small competition in which one had to guess the years in which various photos of the queen were taken. The prize, a large box of chocolates. I didn’t partake as I did not want the chocolates, but did help my art friend Jeanette with guessing some of the years.

Talking of photos, it was only nearer the end of the occasion I thought to take a few photographs, so sadly the cake table is virtually empty. It was as I took a few shots I realised everyone had dressed in red, white and blue or various combinations of the three, something I never gave a thought to when dressing to come out; there was me dressed in a black skirt and top with a bright green jacket. Doh…

Over the Jubilee weekend Dave and I stayed home. There was no street party here, although many residents had their own in back gardens. It was enjoyable listening to them. Not far from me is our local sports playing field where the council had put on a free festival for residents on both the Saturday and Sunday. The music was loud but not disruptive, and most enjoyable. The festivities culminated in a spectacular firework show to music which the whole of our town must have heard if not seen. They were tremendous, some of the best I’ve been fortunate to witness. Well done Patchway Council.

All-in-all, a lovely time had by all for our Queen.

The following week at art group, a note and a small box of chocolates had been left for me as a thank you, by Jeanette – apparently she won the prize!

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June– Hot, Hot! SUMMER!!

Jillian here – hope everyone is doing fine. It’s already in the 90s here in sunny NW Florida. It doesn’t feel too bad when the wind is blowing, but man, inside the car is a whole ‘nother story– boiling hot. It’s amazing how much like an inferno (one without flames) it can get inside an auto. Aug and Sept are our two hottest months, so something to look forward to….NOPE!

I recently ordered a book when I saw the author on the Jeopardy quiz show as she intrigued me as a lawyer who wrote thrillers. I just finished reading it and it was okay except there was no one I liked in the whole book. I hate it when I don’t have someone to root for, don’t you? The protagonist was a lawyer and made some super bone-headed moves that even a first year law student knows they shouldn’t do. She was quite unlikeable as well– snobbish and a liar. But I kept reading, so clearly, something was appealing to me, right?

Like Laurie, I enjoyed the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee and watched some of the festivities online. What an amazing lady she is. Admirable.

The grandson had his last day of preschool summer party and I love, love this photo of him in the mini pool as all the other children were being dried off. It’s just pure joy!

Happy summer to my sweet Baboo as well as all of you!

Delays and Jubilees

I’d hoped to show a finished remodel this month, but we’ve had a few delays. Primarily plumbing. One of the walls we are sheet-rocking has the last of the old plumbing in it. It made sense to redo that last bit of plumbing before throwing sheet-rock up. However, our plumber got in an accident, which thankfully, he will recover from. But it took us another month to find a plumber.

That piping is now all done, thank goodness. And the sheet-rock is up.

But no tape/mud yet. And our guy is fitting us in between other jobs because of our delay, so it might be another couple weeks before the next thing happens.

I find it funny that I’m not a patient person but this isn’t driving me nuts. Since we have a front room and a family room, it’s not a hardship to be without it. At least for me. Hubby wants his space back. 🙂

With all that’s going on in the world, I send prayers for all the horrible parts, but try to focus on the happy parts. Like the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee which just ended. I may not be British, but I was grinning all weekend as I watched festivities. What an amazing life and accomplishment! And did you all see the spot with the Queen and Paddington Bear? Priceless.

On that smiling note, I’ll leave you for this month. Have a wonderful summer solstice. I hope you get sunny weather at just the right temperature.

For more information about Laurie Ryan:
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