Tag Archives: Over The Backyard Fence

October! My Favorite!

Jillian here. October is my favorite month of the year. I’ve always loved it. When we lived in Virginia when I was in elementary school, we’d always drive up Skyline Drive in October to get pumpkins and fresh, cold apple cider—there was nothing like that fresh taste and Florida has nothing to compare with it. Not many leaves change color here—a few trees do- like maples— but most are evergreens like pine. I love the look of bare trees in the twilight of mornings or dusk as well as in the fog. Some trees here have leaves one day and are naked the next.

Why I love October: Orange is my favorite color, the smell of smoke in the air always brings back memories of fall leaf burning, pumpkins, Halloween is fun, and the new baking shows with the fall themes are delightful to watch (not so delightful for my cravings for chocolate though) 😀And it cools off a bit here—most years, it’s low 80s at beginning of the month and 70s by end of month.

Lat year, for NaNoWriMo, I wrote a story that was inspired by my great grandmother’s name and her tombstone. Weirdly, her tombstone has her names in the wrong order which is kind of wild—I can only imagine they didn’t have the money to fix it when it was made incorrectly. I’ve always loved her first name. Her name (in the correct order) was Sophronia Neal Akers Richardson. The story I wrote is a ghost story/mystery. I turned in the edits this week, so I hope to have it out soon. It will be published under my other name as my mysteries are under that name to keep them separate from the romance-driven tales.

Happy October to all. Get out and enjoy some reds, oranges, fall scents and even some ghosties!

Gnarly pumpkin I bought —so wicked looking

Summer’s Ebb and Flow

August is probably my least favorite time of the year. Summer’s hottest month here where I live and everything takes on a dry, arid look. I am a creature of the Pacific Northwest and generally love the rain. Maybe not as much as Hurricane Ida just dumped on the southeast and east coast. My heart goes out to everyone affected.

In spite of not being my favorite time of the year, August was full of family and friends and joy. It flew by.

First was a camp out. Smokey air and 102 degree heat didn’t keep up from enjoying ourselves. It just meant we spent more time in the water.

Then we had kids and grandkids staying here for a week. Going from a household of two to a house full of six worked out really well. I loved the time with the grandkids and took them swimming and played games. It was awesome.

We watched our granddaughter get her white coat, her entrance into medical school. Congratulations to her!!!

Then came our grandson’s wedding. It was a beautiful day. Just cloudy enough to make the pictures pop with perfection. Such a joyous day, since they’d cancelled their wedding in 2021 due to Covid. Plus, our grandson built the arbor they were married under. A chip off his grandfather’s block. 🙂

Finally, we finished up the month with a close friend’s visit for several days. Yo and I met when our husbands were stationed in Germany and we’ve been friends for 45 wonderful years. The time apart falls away when we’re together and it’s like we live next door to each other. Comfortable and full of laughter and fun.

Now September is here and I’m more than ready to hunker down for a while. To watch the weather change and do our part to keep COVID-19 at bay. While we were careful at these summer events, we’re happy enough to just be home by ourselves for a while.

Except, the ocean is calling. So who knows. Maybe there will be Autumn adventures in our future. 🙂 I hope you’ve had a wonderful, laughter-filled summer.

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Ahh, Summer…

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.”

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Inspiration

This month, I launch a new romance series. I’m a beach junkie. I love being at the ocean, walking along the beach in search of treasures, watching the waves roll in, or just sitting in a chair reading and listening to the roar of the ocean.

I decided to set my series on the Washington Coast, and Willow Bay was born. Fictitious, but tied to some of my best beach memories. It’s been fun writing these stories and I may (or may not) have used them as a reason to head for the ocean. Inspiration always powers books to strong finishes, right?

As a writer, those kinds of inspirations can come from anywhere. I went to a Tall Ships festival and my three-book series, Tropical Persuasions, was born. My fantasy series, Earth Legacy, came from all the news about climate change. My horse story, Rudy’s Heart…well that came to me in a dream. 🙂

Inspiration enhances all our lives. Just looking at our Over The Backyard Fence blog partners. If you like to paint, like our own Kit Domino, a field of bluebells sends you rushing home to the canvas.

If you love dogs, like Faye Avalon, you help raise puppies to help others and end up with the love of your life in Miss Vivvy. Or, like Marie Tuhart, you search for one dog and take on a sister and brother both.

Lavada Dee is inspired by family, life, and travels near and far to expand her horizons, and we are inspired through her travel blogs here.

Jillian Chantal does a weekly photo blog, Wordless Wednesday, and she inspires me with the the amazing pictures she posts.

Without inspiration, it seems like there would be no forward momentum, no growth. I for one, try to keep my eyes open for those inspirations. From an eagle floating overhead to the beautiful blooms of a flower. From a friend’s post about what got her through a tough time to another’s announcement of an imminent wedding. It’s all fodder for my own happiness and for my stories.

Do you notice inspiration around you? I hope so. 🙂 Have a wonderful month and I hope you get some glorious sunshine to inspire you.

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Geocaching Mars

Has anyone been keeping an eye on Perseverance, NASA’s robotic explorer, since it landed on Mars? Hubby and I have enjoyed keeping an eye on things. It was a nail-biter the day it landed, but all went smoothly. If it’s something you’re interested in you can find more about it here.

Some of the highlights:

7/30/20 – Launched.

2/18/21 – Landed in Jezero Crater on Mars.

2/19/21 – MEDA environmental analyzer records first weather report on Mars. -4 degrees Farenheit (-20 degrees Celsius)

4/19/21 – Helicopter Ingenuity lifted off from Mars surface, the first powered flight on another planet. By the way, did you know a small piece of muslin from the Wright Brothers’ first flight is affixed to Ingenuity?

But one of the coolest things that happened, for hubby and I, was something we were actually able to participate in. We like to geocache. I’ve probably mentioned that a time or ten, including in last month’s blog. It’s urban treasure hunting without the treasure and it gets us out walking and you can find more about it here.

Well, Geocaching.com and NASA got together and planned the best geocache EVER. An alphanumeric code was added to a plate that the Perseverance camera would use for calibration once it landed. It would take pictures of that code and send them back to NASA.

We, as geocachers, were able to dig through the Perseverance pictures and find that code, then log the find on geocaching.com. So we’ve officially geocached Mars and we got this digital souvenir to remember it by.

So far, almost 76,000 other folks have, too! I know I’m being a geek, but this was soooo cool to be part of.

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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.

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Decorating for the Holidays

Every year at this time, getting the Christmas boxes out is like a rite of passage. I smile as I open the boxes and view the things I haven’t looked at since the prior year. I smile as I pull each old friend out. Some of them are new, some have been with me for years. All are things I treasure. And as I put them around the house, I think about how I picked this one up at a bazaar with my sisters-in-law.

How Kris Kringle, a gift from my sister, smiles back at me from his corner by the bookcase.

How my husband, who doesn’t like decorating but puts up lights on the house for me, lets me put a few small nick-nacks and color in his corner of the family room.

The nativity set my daughters always loved.

The crafted reindeer a friend gave to my Mom while in a rehab facility to cheer her up.

How old traditions and new meld each year, turning our house into a beloved family history lesson. Decorating for the holidays makes me nostalgic and happy and is more important this year than any before. A lot of people put up their trees weeks ago and I applaud them for doing that. Because now is the time to slough off the stress and just enjoy. From a distance, but thankfully, there are electronic ways to be together. Even 50 years ago, the isolation would have been so much worse.

I hope that, whatever holiday you celebrate, that you have treasures to unearth and smile at for a while this year.

Happy Holidays, everyone! And remember, 2020 is almost…nope. Not going to say it until it’s a done deal. 🙂 Instead, I’ll leave you with a picture of hubby and me on Thanksgiving. It might have been just us, but we dressed up (I even put on makeup!) and got the good china out for dinner.

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Happy Things

Fall Color

In America, the elections are over and only the counting continues. And, enough said about that. When you add in that most of our holiday celebrations will be muted this year due to COVID-19, well… Enough said about that, too.

Instead, I’m going to celebrate all things good in 2020. Some nationally and internationally, some personal.

  • I get online with three of my grandchildren every week as an adjunct to their online schools. We do some math games, play hangman, and read out loud. Well, at least, that’s what I do with the eleven-year-olds. The six-year-old and I have a dance party. After a week of trying to sit for various online school sessions, she needs to expend some energy. So on goes the music and we dance on our respective sides of the video screen. J
  • The U.S. celebrated the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment, which recognized women’s federal right to vote.
  • My husband and I have taken a couple days here and there to stay in rental homes or condos and get different views. That’s kept me sane because we’re staying home a LOT. Don’t get me wrong, I like our house and we have an acre of property, but I need something different once in a while.
  • I’ve binge-watched Grey’s Anatomy. (Made it through season 11, sigh, and I’m currently in season 12.)
  • Drive-In theaters have made a comeback.
  • I haven’t (yet) grown out of my jeans, even though I spend most of my time in sweats. Whew!
  • Diversity is discussed more now than ever. (Praying that brings about positive changes.)
  • Brad Pitt won his first Oscar. (About time.)
  • Hamilton. Wow. Enough said.
  • We have an amazing great-granddaughter, now 7 months old and so precious.
  • I finished a painting project and a 30-year long crochet project, among other things.

And so many more. It’s been a good year in so many ways. I hope you all have an opportunity to count your blessings.

Walking in the rain! 🙂

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Gallery

Quiet Peace

This gallery contains 3 photos.

Have you ever had a moment of true quiet in your life? The other morning, I was walking in our neighborhood as per my usual, and I stopped when I realized I could hear…nothing. No cars driving by, no planes … Continue reading

Blessings

First of all, a belated happy Fourth of July to our U.S. readers. I hope you were able to enjoy a safe and sane day/evening.

This shelter-in-place has been both a struggle and a blessing. Staying home so much has been hard, being someone who likes to travel. We are not going through what some people are, and we’ve tried to help where we could. I know we’re lucky to be able to wait out this virus until they have a way to prevent it. But that doesn’t mean my head and heart aren’t a little screwed up. I have dips into depression that I have to claw my way out of. This hasn’t been easy for any of us and I’ve been trying to journal the process for me, as well as what I see happening in the world.

On the flip side, one of the ways I’ve tried to keep myself positive is finishing things on my to-do list. I wrote about the 30 year crocheted baby blanket a couple months ago. I’ve also designed and made birthday cards for the rest of 2020. I finished an art project – monthly door signs. I’ve been digitizing all our family movies that are on VHS tapes. Sorting through things in closets. Paring down.

I’ve also been completing some series. In books, I finally finished the 20 book Virgin River series by Robyn Carr. (That’s a HIGH recommend from me for any romance readers.) And, more recently, I finished the 22 movies in the Avengers series, from Iron Man (2008) through Endgame (2019). (And yes, I cried.)

I think I’ve had more contact with friends and family than ever before through video chats.

And I’ve learned that I don’t have to be go, go, going all day long. It’s okay to take a break and read for a while. To slow down on my daily walk and “smell the roses,” so to speak.

To laugh with my husband.

So there are a lot of blessings in my life. And if I can’t travel right now, so be it. What I can do is pray for the world. So I’m praying and counting my blessings.

I hope there are many blessings in your life.

Stay safe, stay healthy!

 

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