Hi Everyone! Sorry I’ve been AWOL for a while. I’ve just been finding it hard to find the motivation to write anything, let alone be creative. You see I lost my dear mum back in July and life just hasn’t been the same.
My mum had been terminally ill and was amazing all through it. She rarely complained, except about the hospital food and the woefully small TV on her hospital ward. Of course, courtesy of Covid, we couldn’t visit her, but we were able to zoom her every day. Her first question was always how we were all doing with lockdown and checking on the family dogs. Her next question was when we thought she would be able to leave hospital and get home and catch up on her soaps on a decent sized TV! When she finally did get home we filled the day with watching those soaps, playing gin rummy, reminiscing, and having our special morning coffee with a ‘naughy’ chocolate biscuit.
Since mum passed, I’ve been taking Vivvy to the woods a lot, remembering the times when mum would join us on our walks, steadfastly refusing to allow her limited mobility to stop her. I’ve been reflecting on how lucky I was to have a mum like her. Remembering things like the time when she queued in the rain all day while I was at school to get me a ticket to see The Beatles, to the times she scoured the shops to find the exact thing I wanted for Christmas, to the times she told me never to settle for anything less than what I really wanted.
She was very supportive of my writing and used to display copies of my book covers on the walls in her hallway. I often wondered what her elderly friends thought when they saw images of half-clad couples and man chests adorning the walls. I have a lovely memory of taking mum into the local W.H. Smith bookstore here in the UK on the release of one of my books, and having to stop her from buying up all the copies. Despite that I’d already given her a couple of author copies, she insisted on purchasing one and proceeded to tell everyone in the queue at the checkout that her daughter was the author of the book she was buying and how proud she was of me.
Mum loved her family, her friends, animals, her garden, shopping, Magnum ice cream, and Chuck Norris. I think she’d watched every episode ever made of Walker, Texas Ranger at least a half dozen times! The only thing she really hated was spiders, and the thought of being a burden to anyone. As if that were possible. Those last months I spent with her were amongst the most precious of my life, and I’ll miss her every day, but I’ll be forever grateful for having this very special lady as my mum.
Rest in peace, Mum, and I hope heaven has a really huge TV.
Good morning and happy August – Jillian here. An update on Hobbes first—He is back to this normal, crazy self and even though he can be a pill waking me up for food or to go on the porch in the wee hours of the morning, I’d rather have him like that than when he wasn’t feeling well. Serendipitously,, I met a vet tech who told me more horror stories about that 24 hour emergency vet place – including one where they did a full battery of tests on a dog where they said it was vomiting blood and the animal had serious issues. The truth? He bit his tongue and it was bleeding where the phlegm he was spitting was discolored. Reiterates my decision to never darken their door again.
Yesterday, I drove two hours each way to attend a bridal shower for a nephew’s bride-elect. It was a long trip, but worth it to see family I haven’t seen since February 2020 (the month before Covid lockdown). The shower itself was utterly unorganized and lasted forever. I was texting my niece that I could feel my hair getting grayer by the minute. 🙂
It was a lovely venue and the bridesmaids did a beautiful job on the decoration and food. They clearly had no clue about timing, though. It was supposed to be from 2-4 but they didn’t even tell people to eat until 2:45 and they never cut the cake! Here is what it looked like- I didn’t get a pic of it there, but this is a link to how it looked. Red Velvet Rose Cake! – CakeCentral.com They also didn’t start opening the presents until 3:55 pm. And she got a TON! So, my plans to get home before dark dissipated.
I really wanted some of that cake, but alas, it was not to be! The place was beautiful even though it was a barn in the middle of nowhere. Home – The Gilded Oaks My niece and I put the address in her GPS and we ended up driving down a road that went from pavement to gravel to red clay. I kept saying, “This cannot be the way.” We were laughing hysterically and the road got more and more narrow–I kept waiting for the dead end— or the banjos from Deliverance. 🙂 (We have a blast every time we get together—she is more like a sister to me—we’re only 6 years apart in age) and when we got there, we kept telling everyone about this road that was not really a road and they looked at us like we were crazy. When we left, we turned the opposite way from the way we came and guess what?? It was a paved road. All the way. 🙂
A cool thing they did was a flower bar. They had a variety of flowers in a large basket and each guest was allowed to make a bouquet to take with them. How fun was that? Sure wish I’d gotten a piece of cake though…..
July was a busy month and August looks to be busy, as well. It’s like everyone is trying to get stuff in before we have to hibernate again. I believe things are ramping up again with COVI-19, so I’m grateful to have chances to see family and friends before it gets any more dangerous.
I got to spend 4 days with my grandchildren while their parents took a vacay. Since the family had just returned from a family vacay, the kids were happy to just be home. We played games, went swimming and had lots of fun. And of course, hung out with Bo, the sweetest golden doodle I’ve ever met.
We went fishing twice. The mountain looks soooo bare after our record heat wave. Wow.
Our grandson got married. They had a parents-only wedding, so we weren’t there in person, but we’re very happy for them.
I have been using my outside office a lot and getting quite a bit of writing done. Or did, until my schedule caught up with me.
We celebrated my sister-in-law’s banner birthday and my baby brother’s retirement from the day job.
Good friends visited from out of state. And, most recently, our 12-year-old granddaughter spent a few days with us. We swam, went to our local wildlife park, and ate lots of birthday cake for her birthday.
Oh, and we took author pics. She and I are writing a book. Her ingenuity and imagination, my editing skills. It’s been fun to work together on it and, if it ever gets published, I figured we needed good pics to show off, right?
So, after a busy month, I rolled right into another busy one. I’m working hard to be careful and am grateful that almost all of my extended family has been vaccinated. But come September, I’ll probably be more than ready to isolate for a while. 🙂
I hope you’ve had a summer filled with laughter and hugs. Careful hugs. Enjoy this time while we have it. I’ll leave you with a quote from Desiderata by Max Ehrmann:
“Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And wether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.”
Jillian here. Warning: this is long, so move on if you don’t have time. I won’t be offended. 🙂
A few weeks ago, Hobbes was lethargic and not eating on a Saturday evening. All day Sunday, he just laid in my bed and slept. He never surfaced to eat or anything. Of course, Mr. “I Need Treats All Day” had me worried but I chalked it up to his being tired from helping Mr. C in the yard on Saturday.
Monday, we all went to work, but when we got home, Hobbes wasn’t able to make a sound other than sounding like he was choking. He was also was making the cat vomit movements they do with their neck before puking, but nothing was coming out. He was clearly in distress.
#2 son and I thought he might have a stick or something in his throat and, rather than waiting until the next day to see his regular vet, we decided to go to the 24 hour emergency vet. I’d never been there before but know it cost $110.00 just to walk in the door. But this was Hobbes so I was ready for that.
The rules were you had to call from your car and then they tell you when to come in. Masks are required and only one human with the animal. We were the only ones to follow those rules as shall be seen….
When I got inside with him, they whisked him off. Before I could get checked in, this woman ran in with her daughter—no masks—and started screeching about her dog being kicked in the head by a horse. He looked alert so I was hopeful for him. They took her back to a room with her dog and her daughter. My son was sitting in the car because, rules….
While I was being checked in after the drama of the dog. A man and woman (no masks) came in holding a poodle in a towel and kept saying, “excuse me…our dog…”
I finally got in a room and the waiting began. The lady with the dog that got kicked in head was in room next to me. I could hear her sobbing and crying with her daughter and then a man who joined them. Meanwhile, my son still sat in the hot car—running the engine so he could use the air conditioner.
Finally, after an hour—which I get due to triage— the vet came in to talk to me. She talked 900 miles a second and I could barely keep up. She asked if I knew Hobbes has a heart murmur. Nope. Never heard that before. And that became her focus. Not that I thought he was choking or something.
She left and then they brought in a plan of treatment. It was an estimate of $1,500.00-$2,500.00. I just about had a heart attack myself. She had a long list of things she wanted to do and they required $1,900.00 down right then. The tech acted a bit peeved that I needed to call my husband. Then, the kicker? I had to sign and choose between 3 methods of resuscitation. 1. None, 2. Minimally invasive (for $500.00) or 3. Invasive ($1,000.00). At that point, I wanted to vomit or cry or both. To me, they prey on people who are worried about their pet. It was vile and manipulative—both the outrageous bill and the choosing resuscitation method. But, being worried about Hobbes, I left him there and chose the $500.00 resuscitation option—it was explained they need that in case they couldn’t get me if he was in distress.
As I was at the desk paying the “deposit” a vet tech came running in from the side door screaming she needed someone to help her resuscitate the huge dog she was carrying. She was yelling “STAT” and calling out a room number.
I almost went into melt down. This place was too much for me. And I was leaving poor Hobbes there. He’s not a big fan of noise or drama. So, worried about him and his health and traumatized myself, I left.
You can only call to check on your pet between 5 and 6 am or 4 to 5 pm. I set my alarm and called at 5:10 am to be told she wanted to observe him for the day and wanted to get the local animal cardiologist in to look at his tests. She said that $500.00 the cardiologist charges was within the “budget” they gave me the night before. I almost snorted at that. HER budget maybe. Not mine. I declined. She told me to call back at 4 pm to see if he was ready to go home.
So, I did. Had to call 3 times before I could get an answer. Finally got there to get him at 4:50 p.m. Called from car as I was still following the rules. The girl said, “Give me a few minutes.” I waited 5 minutes and then went in. She turned in her chair and in a voice like I was five years old, she barked, “I TOLD you to wait in your car.”
Stunned, I said, “No. You told me to give you a few minutes.”
She pointed to three people in lobby—none with masks—and said, “I have to wait on them first.”
“I just want to get my cat and go.”
“You’re getting a partial refund so go back to your car until I call you.” Again in that voice reserved for small, misbehaving children. And why were others allowed to sit in the lobby with no masks, but I had one on and had to go back to my car?
It took 20 minutes for her to call. There was more dog drama while I was getting my refund- the yelling and carrying on in that place was heartrending and stressful. The emergency vet prescribed heart pills and said he’d have to be on them the rest of his life. I left there with Hobbes at 5:55 pm. And I will never, ever, ever darken their doors again.
Three days later, he was still lethargic and not eating or using the litter box. His regular vet, at his follow up appointment, said he had no heart murmur and never had. She looked at the X-rays they took at the emergency vet and said he had fluid on the lungs and was probably nauseous. She gave him a shot for the nausea and some Lasix pills to get rid of the fluid. No need for the super expensive heart pills.
By the time we got home from the real vet, Hobbes was perky and hungry as a bear. He ate a lot and wanted to go outside. It took a few more days for him to be completely back to normal and his meow was the last to recover (he had been sounding like a frog, not a cat).
What did I learn from this? That, sadly, the 24 hour emergency room staff do not care about how they treat people, don’t care about following their own rules, will gouge people who are concerned about their animals and over test and over charge. And do not truly have the best interest of anyone but themselves at heart. While I didn’t like paying the amount of money they charged me, I am lucky I had the resources to do so. What about the people who don’t? How many animals does this place put down due to the financial constraints of some of the pet parents? How many people go way into debt for unnecessary tests to save their animal? I don’t want to know. All I know is, I won’t be returning there. Ever.
Jillian here. Sorry I am late. My paralegal has been out and this is the second week. She had surgery so we are muddling through doing her job and ours. It’s not been too bad….until today. Today is ridiculous. It is also her birthday and if she was here, it might just be her last one 🙂 (Joking)
As is wont to happen when she is out, I find things I thought were done and done correctly have not been. A case I already won blew up yesterday and I am still dealing with the fallout today. I have to file some response to what the other lawyer filed just to cause issues; a client called with something I thought had already been taken care of and I ended up having to go to the courthouse as well as another lawyer’s office to get something notarized since the paralegal is the only other notary here besides me. AND I can’t notarize my own signature. 🙂
You know that old saying about the “hurrier I go, the behinder I get”- well, that is me…especially today. I’m exhausted.
To bring some cheer, here is my sweet Baboo- first haircut and a day at the water park. Which is which? 🙂
Have a happy June…hoping everyone is less stressed than me!
Jillian here! Happy April – We have already had a lot of flowers blooming here- Azaleas (see below) and Japanese magnolias are always early here- March-and then they are gone for a while- We have weird weather in the spring- some days it’s 80 and others it is 40. We always, always, always get a cold snap right before Easter- no planting veggie gardens until after Good Friday is the rule here because no matter when Easter falls, we will have a cold snap- or even frost- around Good Friday. This year was no exception. 🙂
The last two days, we’ve had the April showers in abundance – it has been as dark as night when it’s time to get up and that really messes me up as I think I have more time to sleep 🙂 Hobbes is even off kilter with his crepuscular behavior. He’s chillin’ in the photo- like the boss he is!
My day job that I do for the federal government requires that I am audited every 2-4 years and this week was that joyful occasion (NOT!) – I’m always confident that all the banking is good, but they always have some kind of findings on record-keeping (it’s a CPA thing- I know, as I am married to one) 🙂 It’s like being in school again and realizing there is a final exam that morning and not only haven’t I studied, I seem to have missed class all semester- 🙂 In other words, it causes me stress and angst.
The good news: It ended yesterday and the findings were very minor – and nothing I anticipated 🙂 Typical. Thus, the no chance to study fear. And I can breathe again for a few years. 🙂
Enjoy the April showers and await, with anticipation, the May flowers.
Jillian here. Sorry I missed last month. Things were getting me down and I lost all my oomph and get up and go. I’m better now and hopeful again for better things ahead.
I just got back from a socially distanced conference which was nice as I got to see people I haven’t seen in a year and got in some good, masked visits. The advantage to this conference over the old days was it was limited to 400 people instead of the usual around 1,000. AND instead of tables of 8-10 at the meals, there were only tables of 4 so there was all kinds of room to spread out. There is usually quite the squeeze in happening.
My friend is the conference chair and for the second time, she upgraded my room to a suite which was sweet! I paid the same price as if it was a regular room. Last year, my suite even had a dining table for 8. This year, I “Only” got a sectional sofa- but I did get a full foyer. 🙂 I felt pretty spoiled.
AND the piece de resistance? I got to see my son and his family before I headed home as well as have dinner with them the night before the conference started. So, a good four days then. Here are some pictures of my Sweet Baboo. The frog was his Valentine’s Day gift from me. He’s a happy, sassy little dude and makes me laugh with his awesome personality.
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!
Jillian here – late yet again. It’s becoming a habit for me, it seems. I’ve had a great couple of months but it’s wearing me out. I made the trip to Birmingham, Alabama which is about 4 hours from me. … Continue reading →
Surprise! Well, what can I say? Where has this year gone? More to the point, where did I go?
Cutting a long story short, the past year has not been good, with all three of my siblings having major health problems, my brother seriously so. With him living in Spain, it proved doubly hard for all of us, especially my mother who is no longer able to travel abroad. After the worry of one sister going through breast cancer treatment, I’ve never been one to suffer from depression but I certainly felt it this time and when, after learning about my brother’s illness, then my other sister’s condition and poor prognosis, I couldn’t stop crying, which is one of the reasons I kept my head below the backyard fence these past 9 months. It’s been a matter of coping and keeping going. It hasn’t been easy and I couldn’t have managed without the help of my husband, close family, and good friends. And thankfully, Lydia’s condition isn’t as bad as the specialist first diagnosed. With care, she can control her problem and hopefully it will not worsen.
You may recall, January saw me teaching acrylic art to a beginners class at my painting group over a 4-week period. I was nervous, spent ages working up my notes and worrying about what I would actually paint. But the course went well. Very well, in fact, and the majority of my 18 pupils are now fully-fledged members of the art group. May saw the art club’s Annual Exhibition, where many of my beginners exhibited, several of their works selling. As did two of mine, so I was well chuffed.
Autumn on the River Wear
June saw the release of my latest novel White Stones. With so much work involved in its promotion, there’s been no time to write anything else, my head still spinning. But that’s the price we authors pay, isn’t it? Now that baby’s strings have been cut, I can finally concentrate on something new and push myself back into writing mode.
Good news came in July with little George, who’s far from little now, acquiring a baby sister. Unable to have another child, his parents turned to adoption and she arrived into the family in May 2018. The legal side proved an exceedingly complicated affair, taking over a year. We were all invited to Exeter Crown Court to the witness signing of the full adoption papers in a little ceremony, followed by a celebratory lunch. She is adorable and looks so much like her adoptive mother it’s quite amazing. Unfortunately, due to a legal caveat, we cannot post photos of her face on the internet. Dave and I made a full weekend of the event, and a lovely opportunity to catch up with various members of the family. George is doing brilliantly. Can you believe he’s just had his 11th birthday! A recent visit to the hospital showed his hips are now perfectly healed and no further surgery is required. He’ll always have problems walking but that doesn’t stop him doing things. His favourite pastime is surfing, Living on the West Devon coast, famous for its waves, he can thus indulge often.
Early summer’s good weather meant we spent a lot of time in the garden, except for during August, when we had plenty of rain – just in time for the long school summer break. Instead, Dave and I did a lot of – believe it or not – holiday hunting. He was given a holiday voucher as a retirement gift two years ago by his firm. As the voucher runs out Feb 2020, we decided we’d best make use of it. The voucher covered enough for us to book two holidays: the first to Ibiza during October, the second to mainland Spain in February.
September. A month of birthdays including my twin sisters’ 70th. The grand plan was that we would celebrate this occasion by being in Spain as it’s was also our sis-in-law’s 70th. That plan was scrapped due to my brother’s illness and Lydia’s poor health and treatment making her unable to venture abroad. Instead, my brother, wanting to surprise them, booked a flight to the UK, his doctor giving him the okay to come. At the last minute, he felt all the travelling would be too much for him. Sadly, a few weeks after their birthdays, his health deteriorated rapidly and he lost his battle with lung cancer a few days before we were due to fly out to Ibiza.
After all that entailed, we certainly needed to get away from everything and managed to enjoy a lovely, if heavy-hearted, break in the sun. Dave loved it, his first holiday for 21 years. The hotel, staff, location, food, room were perfect. It is definitely a place we intend to go back to if only for the incredible sunsets! Enjoying plenty of long walks around the large bay at San Antonio, a warm sea and the beach virtually to ourselves, we really didn’t want to come home.
Life is now returning slowly to normal. In many ways the year has gone by too quickly, winter here already – yesterday we woke to snow! – and Christmas will soon be upon us again; however, I will be glad when it’s 2020. A new decade, a new year, a new beginning, and new journey, one I hope you will allow me to share with you. I have missed you all. x