Pushing A Little Harder

So here we are, another month zooming by and we’re halfway through the year already with Midsummer’s Day upon us this weekend. And what a strange year so far it’s been but at least we are slowly returning to normality, or should I say most of the world is. For Dave and me, life has gone on pretty much the same as normal and we’ve enjoyed ourselves. Both in the garden enjoying the glorious weather the UK has experienced the last few months, and indoors, with the TV turned off most times as we’ve listened to music, played computer games, chatted, shopped a lot online, and generally doing not a lot. The planned editing and rewriting work necessary on my latest novel has come to a standstill. Not for any particular reason but I think most of us have during these peculiar times, lost the impetus and mojo. Mine’s slowly returning. Slowly being the operative word.

Instead, I’ve spent a lot of time experimenting and pushing myself out of my comfort zone with my art. For my birthday back in April, Dave treated me to some watercolour pencils. I don’t do watercolours, so this was a big step away from the normal. I’m still practising with them and as yet do not have anything I’m willing to show anyone but one day…

Spring brought forth such beautiful flowers this year and as you know, I love flowers, so I thought I’d paint something different from the usual bluebell scenes, painting lilacs instead after having picked a few sprigs whilst out walking and seeing many photos in magazines and online.

For this work, I painted a different way, one I’d only tried once before, that is painting in most part with cottonbuds instead of a brush. It’s a simple technique – use 1 or more cottonbuds secured together with an elastic band and dab on the canvas. I think it worked well and will certainly be using them again. Apparently, it’s a great fun way for children to paint too.

With my next painting, I pushed myself even further. I am not good at painting or drawing people but often felt my landscapes would benefit from the inclusion of figures. But oh dear! This has often led to the ruination of good work. Then last week, I saw a few photos of the new little lady in our family – little George’s (who’s not so little now) new sister enjoying a day out with her mother at one of the UK’s lovely horticultural gardens.

One photo in particular caught my eye, and because you couldn’t see Daisy’s face, I thought it a good starting point. Also, as she wasn’t fully in the frame, I had to work at drawing the missing part of her figure. I’ve included the original photograph as well as the result of my efforts and hope I have captured her as best I could for the moment.

It worked out well, although the freehand drawing of her I did as practice before committing to canvas was actually better than the one put down using the grid method. Perhaps I’m not so bad as I think! Regardless, I still need to practice my people painting skills, perhaps one day even venturing as far as doing a portrait. Watch this space… but don’t hold your breath.

See you next month, when I hope to bring you an update with news on how little George is progressing. Meanwhile, stay safe, stay happy and enjoy life.

Kit Domino’s Website and Blog

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Where is summer?

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I’m not trying to rush summer or anything. I don’t mind the cooler weather, but I admit I am getting a little sick of the rain. I’m looking forward to a little sunshine. Not much has changed in my little … Continue reading

A Tale of a Tree

Jillian here. It’s June already. Can you believe it? Time is going fast this year even with a lot of places locked down and folks staying home. You’d think that would mean time has slowed,  but it seems like every time I turn around, it’s Thursday again.

June in my backyard means it’s hurricane season. There were two named tropical storms before June 1st which sometimes happens. The third storm, Christobal, hit the Louisiana and Mississipi coast this past weekend. We got some wind, rain and storm surge because of it. We’re about 2 hours from the Louisiana line and 1.3 from Mississippi, so when the storms hit there, we usually get some of it and vice versa.

We have this tree at the office that got struck by lightning a number of years ago in the middle and you can still see the stump of it inside. The cool thing is that the rest of the tree lived and thrived. I think I’ve blogged about it before here. It means a lot to me that this tree defied the odds and kept on going. It seems like our lives are that way. We get hit by bolts—sadness, illness, death of loved ones—yet we keep going. Our core may be hurting, but we keep blooming. Each time I look out my office window, I see that tree and think about it. I watched that lightning strike and worried about the tree, but it didn’t need my worry, it thrived without it.

Tropical storm Christobal did some damage to my little tree, but it’s still standing. We’ll clear away the debris and leave that lightning-struck core (Picture 4) and new growth as another reminder that when life’s storms come, we can weather them. Maybe not in a pretty way,  but weather them we shall.
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Moments of Joy

2020 has been a pretty tough year so far. My household is on Day 87 of sheltering-in-place, though we have made the occasional trip out for necessaries we couldn’t get delivered. And we got to stare at different walls for a few days when we went to my sister’s last week. It hasn’t been easy. I like to travel and we’ve now cancelled our 4th and final trip for 2020.

But that’s peanuts compared to what others are struggling with. With the world in crisis, it can be hard to find joy in life, and that’s the focus of my blog today.

Finding the joy.

To that end, here are some of the joyful things in my life. I hope some of them give you ideas that make you smile.

  1.  Getting along with my husband for this long. Who’da thought? 🙂 Actually, he’s been my rock through all this turmoil and I love him for that. And his hair is getting LONG. I’ve always liked men with longer hair, so I’m a happy camper. Him, not so much. Lol.
  2. Video chats with my family and friends and grandkids. THIS has been the godsend of my at-home time and keeps me from going completely crazy. I miss hugging them, but this is the next best thing.
  3. Sitting outside and reading. Or puttering in the garden. Or, well, staring at the sky, the stars, the neighbors walking.
  4. My journal. Putting words to my fears helps me let them go, at least for a little while. I’m not sure I’ll ever go back and read my 2020 journal, but I think it helps me process.
  5. Practicing kindness. Recently, a family who lives in our neighborhood put a high school grad sign in their front yard. We don’t know them, but I made a congratulations card and dropped it in their mailbox. Just a card with some words. The thank you card we got back floored me. This small act had given their family so much joy, that a stranger would pay homage to an important event in their lives.
  6. Walking around the neighborhood. Seeing the new growth on the evergreens, the rhododendrons blooming, and all the projects people are working on.
  7. Digitizing old VHS tapes – a wonderful walk down memory lane.
  8. Getting my deck chairs recovered. Okay, still waiting on this one. They are with a seamstress and I can hardly wait! (They are about 20 years old, so WAYYYY overdue for a spruce up.

A couple online or television joys (at least, for me):

  1. For anyone who’s a fan of the Lord of the Rings movies:  https://www.gamespot.com/articles/the-lord-of-the-rings-reunion-was-a-delight-heres-/1100-6477912/ This is a cast zoom reunion and I laughed and cried my way through it. Well worth the 50 minutes.
  2. Anything Jeff Dunham. https://www.jeffdunham.com/ Irreverent, but hilarious.
  3. The Great British Baking Show. https://www.pbs.org/food/shows/great-british-baking-show/

Not sure why this has such a calming effect on me because those bakers get pretty frantic. But I’ve come to love watching this show.

I’ve been watching this video lately. I think it’s message is still important:

 

Gosh, I’m sure there’s more, but these are just a few of my favorite things. I don’t really have any pictures to share this month. Most of mine have been of flowers.

Stay safe.

Stay healthy.

Stay calm.

This, too, shall pass. Hopefully, with better communication between all of us and with a kinder world to live in.

For more information about Laurie Ryan:
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Sunny groundhog days…

I seriously cannot remember a time in my life when I’ve felt quite so lazy. It’s easy to blame the current situation, and I kind of do, but what’s a little troubling is the less I do, the less I want to do, if that makes sense.

There are quite a few writing projects I want to get on with, but the gloriously sunny and warm weather we’ve been having here in the UK keeps beckoning me outside into the garden. Of course, there’s no real excuse, because I could write while sunning myself but 20200524_163458there are too many distractions out there, not the least being a certain little lady who likes the attention and keeps me entertained with her antics. In the photo, I’d just scolded her for repeatedly ‘stealing’ a tiny stone bird ornament from one of the plant pots and attempting to nibble its head off…as you can see she takes a whole lot of notice of me. Talk about couldn’t care less 🙂

And speaking of birds, there are a whole bunch of them that have slowly returned to the garden now that Vivvy isn’t interested in chasing them anymore. There’s a big, fat pigeon (I really do think it’s the same one) who calls into our garden every morning to cool off in the birdbath. He stays around for a while surveying the space, casting his evil eye on the smaller birds if they even so much as glance his way. 20200509_100344He’s very tame and doesn’t attempt to move or fly away when I hang out my washing nearby or walk closer to smell the nearby roses. He’s quite a character. AJ has told me not to name him or I’ll get sad when he decides to no longer visit.

So, all in all, I’m enjoying this downtime and just hoping that I’ll get the urge to do some work sooner rather than later. But today the sun is shining so I’m heading into the garden for another lazy day.

Stay safe and well everyone!

 

 

 

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Another Day

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I’m late with the blog this month. No excuse. I just forgot. It for sure isn’t because I’m busy. I just looked at an old calendar where most of the days were filled with notes and todo’s. Seeing it beside … Continue reading

Orchid Love

For as long as I can recall, my man has regularly bought me flowers or a flowering plant for indoors, and still does. Then, about 10 years ago, he would often buy me an orchid. Beautiful flowers, wonderful colours, long-lasting – the blooms would last about 4 months with me looking after them as I thought best: watering only with rainwater, keeping out of full sunlight and, despite many saying to mist regularly, I didn’t because, well, spraying water is messy. The flowers would eventually fade and drop, leaves shrivel and out they would go, consigned to the compost bin.

A few years ago I decided to try to encourage one back into a second flowering, letting it rest, giving it a drink occasionally and kept in a cool place indoors away from any sun. Zilch. Nothing, not a sign of growth. So tried with another, and another. At one stage we must have had 5 or 6 plants the shelf in the lounge doing nothing.

It was at this point we decided it was time to revamp the lounge, so the plants were moved onto the kitchen window sill (north-facing).  They looked healthy but still no signs of regrowth. Then, by sheer chance, I caught a TV show where an orchid grower was being interviewed. It was like a light going on. A beacon. She explained how to look after orchids and keep them going. Nothing complicated. Nothing expensive. Hey Presto! Her advice works. We now have a house full of orchids in flower and one or two waiting in the wings for their next flush.

The rules: Every 7-10 days, plunge the pot for 30-60 seconds or until bubbles stop, up to its neck in rainwater (orchids hate tap water) to which has been added a few drops of plant feed. Expensive, especially for orchids food is not necessary, use any plant food. I use Baby Bio. The roots of the plant (they always come in clear plastic pots) will look white when the plant is thirsty, turning green when they have had their fill. Also wash off any dust from the leaves with the rainwater. Leave it to drain and enjoy some daylight for about an hour, before placing back in its potholder, if used. I perform this routine en masse in the kitchen sink, leaving them on the draining board. I admit there have been a few times I’ve had no rainwater, so will use either tap water that has been boiled a couple of times and cooled or distilled water I use in the iron, but only very rarely. And always give them a good drink with rainwater as soon as I have some.

That’s it! It’s that simple. I keep the plants on the kitchen window sill until ready to burst into flower before moving them around the house where we can enjoy them, mainly in the lounge, with one always by the south-facing window.

Several live permanently on the windowsill, including Triff, short for Triffid (below), because it has never stopped flowering on its original two stems for 2 years. It’s a little top-heavy as the blooms are large, but it keeps on going and growing. I suppose I really ought to cut it down so it can start afresh but don’t have the heart to. More, I’m frightened if I do, it will not reflower.

The real star of the show is this one on the left. Incredibly, this is its third time in flower in less than a year, on a new stem each time, each having more and more flowers. Last October there were 18 heads, currently 22, with more buds coming.

Those pictured here are just a few of many we have currently in flower. Each one is well-worth that little bit of time and care for its reward. We love them, they lift our heart and spirit every time we look at them.

Kit Domino’s Website and Blog

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Staying at Home

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I hope everyone is doing well wherever they are. Washington is still on a stay-at-home order until May 31. I’ve pretty much be on a stay-at-home since March 6th. The only trips I make out are pretty much essential – … Continue reading

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Happy May – Time Flies

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Jillian here. Happy May. I hope everyone is healthy and happy in this (already!) fifth month of the year. Can you believe how fast the year is going? Sure, some days are super long, but looking back, the weeks have … Continue reading

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Projects and Legends

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As this post, my husband and I are on day 56 of our stay-at-home time. We’re still married and are actually getting along pretty well, thank goodness. For me, an interesting happenstance has come out of this time. I’m finishing … Continue reading