Tag Archives: inspiration

Spring On Its Way

Gosh, doesn’t time fly! I can’t believe January has melted into February already. Talking of melting, so far this winter here in South West England we’ve escaped snow, apart from one day when we awoke to an icing sugar dusting which disappeared by lunchtime. It’s been chilly but not cold, but certainly miserable, damp, wet and grey and occasionally windy.

Which all means in the garden spring is well on its way. The front lawn is exploding with snowdrops and the first of many clumps of crocus in full bud about to open with the next burst of sun. The back garden is still in permanent shade until March but that hasn’t stopped the hellebores, with the first of many flowers already open. (Sighs contentedly. I do so love spring!)

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Meanwhile, back indoors, we have hit this year running. It began with the excellent news my husband, diagnosed with diabetes last summer, has beaten it and is no longer diabetic, although he will now always be at risk. He managed this without drugs because he refused to: a) accept he had the condition (there were no outward symptoms or signs), and physically the last person in the world you’d think suffered with this as he’s slim, doesn’t smoke or drink, is fit and walks for a living at work despite being 69 years old and does gardening for recreation; and b) simply refused to take the medication prescribed.

So, how has he achieved this? Purely by diet. He’s a sweet tooth, likes chocolate, especially chocolate cookies, ice-cream, and my baking and dessert efforts thus all were banned from the house. He stopped putting sugar in his coffee, no puds or ice-cream have touched his lips, and I’ve only baked three cakes in nine months, two of which were made using the sugar substitute Xylitol. Thank you so much, Tricia, for putting me on to this sweetener. In fact, the two cakes I made with this were the best and definitely to be made again, according to Dave. One was our Christmas cake, the only “goodie” he ate over the Christmas season, the other being orange cake, the recipe for which Jane told us about here in December. So thank you too, Jane, it was simply delicious, moist, and by switching the sugar to Xylitol, can claim it’s sugar free, fat free, and great for me ­– flour free.

An aside to all this is, because of the change in our eating habits and because I had to help Dave as much as I could, I have managed to lose a little weight. As Dave is determined not to go back to his old ways the diet changes remain in place, hopefully more of my extra poundage should continue to shrink. A new me for 2017, starting with a change of hairstyle. For many years I’ve kept my hair short but never liked it, so I’ve been growing out the layers. At the moment it’s untidy and the style wanted not there yet but, like spring,  it’s well on its way.

2017-02-01-11-51-43I’ve also taken a big plunge and booked a table at a local arts & craft fair in June, to show and (hopefully) sell some of my paintings (and a few copies of my book, with luck!). This will be a difficult day for me as I’m shy and nervous among strangers when “on display”.  Plus, I’ve entered a few competitions, with the hope of winning a painting holiday abroad (something I would love to do), and I’ve entered one of my works into a national painting competition. My fingers  are crossed, but not too much else I shan’t be able to hold my paintbrush for the next one.

On top of all this, I’ve been busy editing a novel for a client and am busy proofing my own next bestseller (she says, laughing) whilst knuckling down to working on the other books waiting in the wings. So all in all, this gal’s been on a roll and doesn’t intend stopping. Not yet anyway.

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The Bible, Horoscopes and Life

I start each day with a daily devotional reading. I also sometimes check my horoscope. It’s funny how sometimes they merge into exactly what I need at the time I need it even though that devotional book is published way before my life events.

I’ve been working on a massive case that has sucked the life out of me since the end of December. January was a blur of tug-of-war where it seems like everyone wanted a piece of me. I worked my rear off but never seemed to make anyone happy. I also ignored my writing as I was too beat each night to keep at it. Basically, I vegged out with tv and movies which I never do.

Anyway, I made a decision about this case over the weekend and wasn’t able to act on it on Monday since I was in a meeting with 7 other lawyers all day but I had my secretary working on a draft motion.

My Tuesday devotional focused on trusting God to take care of things like he cares for the birds of the field. It even had a sentence about once we do the best we can, we have to lay it down and trust God to see it through. I made some calls when I got to the office and made it clear to people that I was done and moving into another phase with this thing. Some took it well and some didn’t – the tug-of-war folks lined up about how I thought they would.

Then, I read my horoscope. Guess what it said?

“You’re working too hard at something that’s not worth your time.” It went on from there but you get the gist.

I love it when what I need to hear is shouted at me from all sides, don’t you?

Watercolors? Yes, Please! by Valerie J. Patterson

Have you heard about the new rage gatherings called Paint & Sip?  These are parties where family and friends gather at a home or venue and sample various wines while all painting the same picture.  Several of my friends have been and then simply oozed enthusiastic stories about their evenings and how much fun they had.  So, I put it on my “To Do” list and waited for the opportunity to get in on one.

Then, my church’s Ladies’ Ministry group had a Paint & Praise and I signed up.  Had the time of my life!  The instructor for the evening was a lovely lady from our church that I had no idea could paint!  And, she’s incredibly talented!  Instead of the wine sipping, we listened to music and had a great time of fellowship while we all filled our canvases with the same image only different to our own perspective.

Unfortunately, I can’t seem to get a picture of my painting to upload, but I will keep trying and will hopefully get it posted later today.

If there’s a paint & sip happening near you, I strongly encourage you to give it a go.  Never know…might just find the artist inside of you!

Until next time, may the joy in your life color your days with beauty!!

Chautauqua Lake, the Beach Boys, and Aunt Sis by Valerie J. Patterson

           So, Steve and I thought we’d get away for a few days to one of our favorite spots.  It was time for our annual wedding anniversary trip, but Steve had informed me sometime in June that we would not be taking a full vacation in August, but that we would take a full vacation sometime this fall.  I was okay with that so long as we still went away to celebrate our anniversary.

            We left bright and early last Thursday morning, headed toward New York and the Finger Lakes Region.  Plans included a comedy show on the beach featuring three well-known comics Thursday evening.  We checked-in to our hotel, got settled in, and went for a bite to eat.  I was looking forward to a seat on the beach and comedians evoking fits of laughter.  I was ready to relax, unwind, and enjoy the cool breeze off the water.  I was even hoping for a glass of wine to be in that mix.

            It rained.

           Nope, that’s mild.

       The sky unleashed torrential downpours that were relentless.  Somehow, Steve managed to salvage the evening with a drive and a light, intimate dinner in our hotel.

            Friday—our anniversary—dawned, well, drearily.  We slept late, which felt so very good.  I never sleep in.  Ever.  I long to sleep in, but my internal clock wakes me and my mind runs to all manner of subjects that can’t be put off.  We had a very leisurely breakfast then drove to the Chautauqua Institute and did some sightseeing.  The grounds of the institution are so peaceful and serene.  There were hand-laid brick streets lined with huge, aged trees that shielded walkers from the sun, which did eventually shine bright and hot.  There were lush, colorful gardens, and a huge, inviting water fountain in the center of the grounds where children cast in coins while making wishes.  I don’t believe in wishes, but I believe in prayers, and as I cast in my coins one at a time, I said quick, little prayers.  There were artisans selling exquisite wares, their tents lining both sides of the streets circling the center of the grounds.  Steve and I sat on a park bench savoring chocolate candies and sipping cold water.  I was completely at peace right there.  My surroundings invigorated my creativity and I smiled thinking about working on a book right there on the park bench.

            Then, Steve produced two tickets to a Beach Boys concert to be held in the amphitheater at the Institution.  It’s a small, intimate venue seating about 4,500 people, and we had excellent seats.  There were three of the original Beach Boys performing with four newer members.  Mike Love still flirts relentlessly with women of all ages.  The band is still full of fun energy.  And Hawaiian shirts were everywhere!  The concert was incredible and I sang along, laughed, cheered, whistled, and clapped until my palms hurt.  The night air was crisp and cool, a breeze filtering in between warm spectators to prevent clinging heat from settling around a person.  Every age was represented, and all had a good time if one could use the hollers and applause as a gauge.

            After the concert, we leisurely walked the grounds hand-in-hand as we talked about the concert.  We grabbed a very late, light dinner and headed back to our hotel.  It was the perfect way to spend our anniversary.

            Saturday, it all came crashing down when the shrill ring of my cell phone broke the morning silence.  My Aunt Sis—you might remember her as the aunt with Alzheimer’s who I moved to my hometown—had fallen that morning at breakfast and an ambulance was called to transport her to the hospital.  The nurse told me they suspected she’d broken her ankle.  I was instantly awake, and all that ran through my mind was that this couldn’t be happening because I was too far away to do anything about it.  Calm crept into my mind and I phoned my father-in-law and asked him to meet the ambulance at the hospital, stay with my aunt, and keep her calm until Steve and I got there.  She has a fear of hospitals because once there, she does not remember where she is or why.  I made the arrangements, packed our luggage, and we were dressed, checked out, and on the highway 45 minutes after the initial phone call.  I think that has to be some sort of record!

            About three-quarters of the way home, my father-in-law called to say the ankle was not broken, but was severely sprained and she would need a walker to get around.  He was taking her home once she was discharged.  He’d not only managed to keep her calm, but she kept him in smiles as she joked with him while they waited.  When I got to the assisted living residence, she was walking around with a friend of the family, and had forgotten the fall all together.  I heaved a huge sigh of relief, spent some time with her, and then went home to unpack.  Two mornings later on Monday, August 12th, I received another phone call, this one telling me my aunt had experienced some sort of seizure and was now unresponsive.  An ambulance was on its way to the residence.  Thankfully, I was less than a mile away as opposed to 4 hours, and when I arrived the paramedics were getting ready to load her into the ambulance.  Aunt Sis was alert enough to look at me, smile, and say, “Don’t cry.”

            I followed the ambulance as best I could to the hospital, but lost it as it sped off down the interstate.  Aunt Sis was already in triage when I arrived.  She was very disoriented and confused.  All she could tell them was that her first name was Kay, and she was born in June.  The doctor—after examination—informed me he suspected she’d actually had a stroke as he found no evidence of a seizure, and he was ordering a cat scan of the brain along with several other tests.  Within an hour and a half, her mind had cleared and not only could she tell them her full name, my name and relationship, but also the name of her last pet.  At the end of the day, diagnosis was a seizure not a stroke and she was released into my care.  We stopped to have lunch with my sister, Janis and her daughter, Rebekah, then we headed back home to the residence.

            When I left, she was surrounded by staff and residents alike, all welcoming her back.  When I called that evening, she was sleeping comfortably.  The following day, we shared a bowl of popcorn and watched TV.  Her sense of humor was on in full force, and she was having a better than “good” memory day.  She still has some testing that her primary care physician has ordered, and we have some doctor’s appointments to go to today, but I am very thankful that she is once again safe and secure and I am close by.

            Yes, we abruptly ended our trip, but I had seen the Beach Boys in person, had been surrounded by incredible beauty, had celebrated our anniversary together, and my aunt was thankfully not sporting a new cast on her right foot or walking that long road of recovery from a stoke.  Most of all, prayers were said and prayers were definitely answered.  Does it get any better than that?

                Until next time, may you find peace in your surroundings, love in the faces you gaze upon, and that your prayers have been answered.

A Room With a View

As you know, I visited my son and future daughter-in-law in London recently- they actually live near Greenwich at Deptford Bridge but close enough, right? While I was there, we took a four day side trip to Edinburgh and I fell absolutely, positively in love with it. It’s gorgeous and the people are so wonderfully friendly. I adored, adored it.

We arrived by train and hoofed it out of the station toward Old Town. We climbed a steep hill and as we turned the corner, I told the fiancee that I wasn’t sure about the cobbled streets and the hills and my klutzy self-(I’m prone to breaking and spraining things). I also said I wasn’t sure about the distance between Holyrood Palace and Edinburgh Castle because it looked like a long hike. She laughed and said, “Remember, it’s the Royal Mile so it’s not too long.” Point taken. LOL!

We turned the next corner and I gasped and said, “Now I know why J.K. Rowling wrote Harry Potter. How could she live in this place and not be inspired?” I pointed to a turret on a building and added, “Can’t you just imagine a wizard living there?” Then I pointed to another building. “Or a witch there? Or a goblin down there?” It truly, truly is a magical place and I’ve already written an 8500 word short story based there.

When we checked into the hotel, we got the top floor and imagine my delight when I opened the curtains to that very turreted place I imagined the wizard in directly across from me. I also could turn a smidge and see Arthur’s Seat, the traditional home of Camelot and the place where my son proposed to his fiancee in September 2011. What a view. Here’s some pictures to share that cool room with a view and if you ever get to Scotland, I guarantee you’ll love it.

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Craziness In the House

So, this week is a double release week for me and I’ve also got (to use a cliche) a tiger by the tail. I need to update my website with all my new stuff and lots of other things need doing but I am in the throes of a crazy whirlwind of a story. It will not leave me alone. My house is a wreck. I haven’t cooked in days and in fact, never ate dinner tonight and it’s 10:30 as I’m popping over to get this post ready. I love a story that wants to tell itself, but dang, I need to do other crap, too.

My first novel that sold was set in Italy and it still sells to this day. Every royalty statement has some sales of it on it and several people have said it’s their favorite book of mine. That caused me a little angst as i like to think that my writing has improved since then but I finally figured it out. People love Dario, the hero. The macho, alpha, arrogant count is a wonderful character (even if I wrote him myself- lol). So, I decided to return to old Italia for the new story.

My inspiration was Venice and the water taxi driver who took me and my son to the train station. He was a beautiful man. Absolutely divine. I also adored the city. It was lovely and so unique. I can’t wait to go back someday, but til then, I’ll hang out with the hero in my imagination.

This thing has taken over my life. Send aid. Chocolate, a chef, a maid and maybe a lawyer who can do my day job so this Italian man will let me work in peace from 8-5. Have a wonderful September and see you on the other side of this fast draft!