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

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Happy Valentine’s Day

It’s February so that means Valentine’s day. Have a nice Valentine’s day no matter how you celebrate or don’t celebrate. We’ve got snow here in the lowlands of the Pacific Northwest. The weather forecasters are saying anywhere between 2″ to … Continue reading

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Home Away from Home

I should be posting about my family winter cabin adventure here. This would have been our 21st year, I think. We postponed it because of COVID-19. It’s only a year. We’ll be back at it, and we’re all very grateful … Continue reading

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.

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Whoops I Forgot

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  I know I’m two days behind in posting this but I’m having a hard time remembering what day of the week it is. The calendar date —- forget it. I do remember when I’d still be writing the previous year … Continue reading

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

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Running Late

Sorry, I missed my normal day. Real life got in the way. Usually I’m not that bad, but with the new year, my calendar doesn’t have any reminders on it, so now I need to add them in. The 12th … Continue reading

Dilemma

Jillian here.. I was in a dilemma about what to post this month. While I don’t want to ignore what’s happening here in the USA, I don’t want to make this post a political one. Suffice it to say, I am sad and disappointed about the way things have been going here. I am also sad about how my UK friends have gone back into lockdown. It’s just a weird time to be alive. Praying for us all world-wide.

I thought I’d share a couple of photos from Christmas. I don’t like pics of myself so I’m posing my sister, my mom, my dad, and my son. All with the grandson. I am also posting pics of my December 28th big day. 🙂 Some of the photos are taken at my parents’ house on Christmas and some at my house where we celebrated my big one! The one with Benjamin and his dad (my son) was taken at the park.

Hope everyone has a blessed January. Stay warm. It’s supposed to be in the 20s here tonight- that’s minus 4 for you in Celsius land. 🙂 BRRR!

2021 – Finally!

Did we make it? Are we out of 2020 and into the new year? I’ve been afraid to poke my head out from beneath the blanket to check.

As January tends to be one of the months where getting fit is promoted (due to all those New Year’s Resolutions), I thought I’d talk about an experience I had at a boot camp a few years ago.

I thought it would be a good way to lose some weight.

Boy, howdy, was it. I lost, I think, 34 pounds in a month. But what a way to lose them. It was one of the hardest things I’d ever done.

I started on a Thursday. Day 3, for me, was Memorial Day weekend that year. And I found out the hard way that there is a special workout that CrossFit places do around Memorial Day. It’s called the Murph and is named for Lt. Michael P. Murphy, a US Navy SEAL killed in action in 2005. 

My heart goes out to the family and friends of Lt. Murphy. What a horrible thing. And I applaud this kind of remembrance, one that is helpful and healthy.

My only problem with the Murph workout is that it occurred on DAY 3 of my boot camp.

Here’s what the Murph includes:

  • A one mile run.
  • 100 pull ups
  • 200 push ups
  • 300 unweighted squats
  • Another one mile run

I can’t remember exactly how long it took me to do that workout, but it was somewhere around 3 hours. I was the only one left working out for the last hour. And I sat in my car crying my eyes out, wondering why I did this to myself.

The next day was Sunday, our day off. Ooooh, boy, was I sore! I give myself props for showing up on Monday and for the rest of the month.

But never again! Now, I’m older and it’s harder to lose the weight, but I continue to walk and try to eat healthy and lose a little bit here and there. For me, that’s the balance I need. And that’s what my goal for 2021 is. To find balance.

I hope you had a safe and joyful entry into this new year and that your heart is full of possibilities and balance.

For more information about Laurie Ryan:
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The strange ‘in-between’

Firstly, I hope everyone managed to have a good Christmas, despite the less than ideal circumstances we all find ourselves in. We had a lovely time, but it was hard not meeting up with family and friends. All I can say is, thank heaven for Zoom!

This year, the ‘in-between’ week from Christmas to New Year is a strange one. The normal things that happen during this period aren’t taking place. Here in the UK we are basically in lockdown. So there has been no trips to the post-Christmas sales; no outings to the cinema; no festive evenings with friends… There’s a kind of stillness in the air, a flatness in the the lead up to New Year. It’s as if the world is holding its breath in the hope that better things are coming.

This week always finds me in a reflective mood (I suppose it’s the same for most of us). I think about the year that’s rapidly coming to an end and take time to look back on the good things… what went well, what goals I managed to achieve, etc. Also, the things that didn’t go so well, the goals I didn’t achieve, and the things that didn’t get done. I tend not to dwell too much on the later, except to resolve to do better in the future.

While I’m extremely grateful that my loved ones have come through the year and have remained virus-free, there has been one major family health challenge that came out of the blue and has left me reflecting on the fragility of life. It has certainly put things back into perspective, making me realise that my distinct lack of writing focus in 2020 (caused by major procrastination issues – no excuse) is really, in the bigger scheme of things, not that important. I failed big-time in meeting the goals I set, but there’s always next year.

But regardless of meeting goals or not, it’s always a good idea to set them. It is our goals that can help keep us rooted when life is especially challenging. They push us forward into the great unknown where all kinds of possibilities exist. I’m reminded of the wonderful Desiderata with its instruction to “keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.”

As the New Year approaches, I wish you everything that you wish for yourself. Stay safe, my friends. We’re getting there!