Autumn Colour Display…

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Despite the warm weather we have been having lately, the signs of autumn are galloping towards us. Little by little, my Bonsai are getting ready for their winter sleep and their leaves are gradually beginning to change colour. As they start to close down, they change colour, imperceptible at first, then transformed by the red and gold just before losing their leaves.
The colour change is a wonderful sight, but when the tiny leaves begin to fall I always feel a little sad, as I miss seeing them in leaf.

It reminds me more poignantly that I am approaching my own autumn (and hopefully I won’t turn scarlet!) emphasised mainly by the fact that I am not at my best this week.  My body is already telling me that I will not enjoy the cold weather and some of my joints are having a practice run!

I have been doing a lot of gazing out of my window this week (as I don’t feel like doing much else) and just love the way Mother Nature goes about her business, come hell or high water. Maybe we could all learn from her example, especially me. But I’m afraid it is all too easy for me to find excuses for not doing what I ought. I find myself constantly using my age as the perfect excuse, and I really must stop doing that, it’s pathetic and doesn’t match how I have lived my life up until now.
The only thing I have always known for sure is that you can do anything, provided you want to enough. So if you are still breathing, just get on with it!

It is easy to think of autumn as the end of life as we know it, when in fact it is just part of the sequence. A resting time to reflect on how much better and brighter next spring will be. And we need that slowing down, as working flat out all the time is unsustainable. We need to look back at the past year and really see what worked and what didn’t.

You know what I mean, all those things you thought were important at the time but turned out not to be. I have learned such a lot this year, but the fact that I am still making colossal mistakes only proves there is so much more to do.

It would be easy to mimic the seasons, shut down and hibernate until spring arrives; and I must admit that sounds incredibly tempting…

But we have books to finish, Anita’s busily scribbling away, so lots of editing there. I also have a pile of how-to notes to wade through. Some to digest, others to discard; time to clear the decks and really get organised, ready for a new year with all those lovely new possibilities…

And a big thank you to all those of you who have helped us this year, you know who you are…

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Ten Things I love Most in the World

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Ten Things I love Most in the World…

1. Mother Nature has been the number one love in my life for longer than I can remember. My idea of heaven would be to live in a forest with a river nearby.

2.  The way I feel about horses goes way beyond love. Sometimes I think I must have been a horse in a former life, from the strong and powerful connection I seem to have with them.

3.  I have always been a bit of a freak for thunderstorms. The noise, barely contained power and the majesty of the lightning speaks to me in ways I cannot describe.

4.  Whenever I have spare time, and even when I don’t, I have to track down a puzzle. It can be a jigsaw, a computer game, or a simple game of solitaire. My idea of heaven.

5.  Something about the smell of the sea communicates directly with my soul, and I think I could easily live on a beach. They say that salt water is a good healer, so how much more could sea water do?

6.  The art of bonsai has always fascinated me, and over the years, I have collected some of my own. Like having children, they need so much care and attention, but give back so much more to their carer.

7.  My love of writing has grown out of my love for reading, and my appreciation of all my favourite authors. On the good days when I don’t doubt my abilities, it is the best thing in the world.

8.  Most people hate the rain, but I love it. Getting soaked to the skin is an amazing experience, and if there is thunder and lightning too, so much the better!

9.  Making people laugh has to be one of the most rewarding things you can do. I love to know I have lifted someone’s spirits just enough to make them laugh.

10.  I never thought I would enjoy blogging as much as I do, when I first started. In the beginning, I was hopeless, didn’t have a clue and knew no one. So much has changed since then…

Ten Things I Hate Most in this World

1.Cruelty of any kind comes top of this list, for there is far too much of it in this world. It is far easier to be kind.

2.  Rudeness comes a close second, as I cannot understand the need for it. It closes too many doors that eventually will refuse to open again.

3.  Arguments. Every time I get involved in one, I want to crawl away and die. Life is much too short to argue.

4.  Hangnails are my least favourite thing, and I get some shockers. No matter how careful you are, your fingers get sore.

5.  I hate the cold. As I get older, it’s becoming a real problem. Sometimes, even on a mild day, I have trouble keeping warm.

6.  Things that go wrong. I’m a bit of a perfectionist and try very hard to get things right, but far too often these days, it just doesn’t happen, no matter what I do.

7.  Computers. These should be on the top of this list, as they tend to drive me insane. They are illogical and unreasonable, but we know we cannot do without them.

8.  Feeling helpless. Closely linked with number seven, this is what PC’s do to me. Nothing else on this planet can make me quite as angry as a computer.

9.  Injustice. I hate all forms of injustice, acerbated by the certain knowledge there is nothing you can do about most of it.

10. Weakness. Mainly my own. So many things I wish I didn’t need to do, like the biscuits I cannot leave alone. How I can be so strong with everything else, but such a wimp when it comes to food is a mystery…

Would anyone like to share their likes and dislikes on our post? We would love to hear from you…

©2018 Jaye Marie

The joys of writing and bonsai…

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As much as I love a good book, I also love many other beautiful things. Like the bonsai in the picture above for instance, I think it is stunning. I wish my own bonsai looked as good.

I have been writing a series of murder mystery novels, inspired by the books I have read and all Anita’s work that I have helped to publish. Whether they will be any good at all remains to be seen, but I am determined to give it my best shot. After all, I think I am a good editor/proofer, so what do I have to lose?

Anita started writing when her life was at a low ebb. She always said that losing herself in creating fictional plots and characters turned out to be very therapeutic- not to mention relaxing and soothing, the list of advantages seemed to go on and on. Also, knowing she was in control of this brave new world, controlling everything that happens, was a very special feeling.
Anita used to tell me that sometimes the characters took over and told her what they wanted to do. Something I have since discovered myself and it is truly amazing!

As Anita’s editor, the process worked for me too. It was bliss to immerse myself in this newly discovered world.
Mostly tired (or sick) of the way the ordinary world is, what better than to create a world where literally everything can be the way you want it? A chance to show the world that life doesn’t have to be like that. A chance to experience what your heart desires, if only for a while.
But do it well enough and it will be remembered.

I can see a similarity with writing and my bonsai hobby. Some of mine I have grown from seed and tended and cared for, trained, encouraged and celebrated as beautiful things. Patience is the first thing you learn when you get involved with a bonsai, for they grow so slowly and some of them live longer than we do. I sometimes think they need as much care and attention as children do, and I love them just as much.  Hopefully my efforts with the pencil will be just as rewarding for me…

 

 

 

 

 

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Do you insist on Real, or settle for Fake?

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On those frequent occasions when my brain takes a hike and I am looking around my office for inspiration, I often find myself studying the items on my desk.

One of these is an artificial bonsai tree, although you have to look carefully to realise this. It is a white pine, brought from a specialist company called Bloom. They make the most amazing silk flowers and the occasional artificial tree, and the minute I saw it, I knew I had to treat myself.  It is stunningly life-like and beautifully made.

You wouldn’t think that a dyed in the wool bonsai enthusiast would give such a thing house room, but it appealed to me simply because it cannot die. It will always remain perfect no matter the weather, never lose it‘s leaves in the autumn, and I love it.

 

bonsai-2.JPGI cannot help but see the differences between this tree and the real ones just outside my window, and not just the obvious differences, like the time of the year. The makers have done their best, but the bark is just a little too smooth. There are no cracks or crevices in the bark for all the tiny spiders to live in, a necessary part of any healthy tree, for they control other nastier insects.

There is no living collection of mosses and lichen around the base of the trunk either, something all of my other trees have, and although this artificial tree keeps me company all through the year, when all the others are sleeping, their leaves just a memory, it cannot change my feelings for my babies.

The ones that are so old and have pride of place in my yard, and the ones that are still finding their way to maturity. Then there are the ones I grew from seed that may not ever amount to much in my lifetime, for it takes years to become an established bonsai. These are special to me, even if they don’t look quite right yet.

 

DSCF1043.JPGI think that growing anything, whether in a pot or in your garden, is a lot like writing. Until you know what you are doing, what you produce will be just a shadow of what it could be. And like a garden, your words need tender loving care too. Prune too hard, or badly, and there are a million ways to ruin what is fragile at best and the results will be disappointing…

What is Your Favourite Pastime?

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Someone asked me this question the other day and I had to hesitate before answering. I thought it would be writing or reading, but other hobbies pushed the word aside. And it is true, there are so many things that I enjoy doing. There are also many things I no longer have the time for.

The next question is usually, “but one of them must be special in some way?”

Again, there isn’t just one that comes to mind and this must be true for most people.

Depending on our mood, we like doing different things. For instance, my writing mind works best first thing in the morning. Later in the day, I have trouble writing anything. And when I am tired, I like to spend time in the garden with my bonsai.

I love jigsaw puzzles too, but these days I prefer to do them on line. So much choice, easier to do, no more juggling hundreds of pieces on limited table space. You can’t lose any of the pieces either.

In many ways, I realise that all my favourite pastimes are very similar. They all involve a degree of patience, attention to detail and an over active imagination.

At the moment, I have a huge pile of work in progress. Two fiction books to finish, a collection of short stories to prepare for publication and various editing jobs for Anita’s books, not to mention a veritable queue of reviews to finish.

My collection of bonsai should come quite high on my list, as they always need something doing. There is a very good reason they are never considered finished. They continue to grow and need constant attention. Plus, they are all different ages with different needs.

Add to this list, two crochet projects and a pile of dressmaking as yet unfinished. And all those other urgent things that hide in my brain, lulling me into a false sense of achievement.

So the answer to the original question, what is my favourite pastime, should be . . .

 

“My favourite pastime is living and enjoying everything I do get around to. . .”

My Little Miracle…

 

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As someone who loves bonsai, my favourite treat is to visit Heron’s Bonsai in Surrey. It is an amazing place with beautiful bonsai in every conceivable shape, size and price. From small starter trees for just a few pounds, to large mature specimens, some of them hundreds of years old and costing a small fortune.

I could walk around Herons for hours, and usually do, for Peter Chan, the owner, has his own personal collection there. Peter has won many ‘gold’s’ at Chelsea and teaches the art of bonsai. This is how I met him. He was the guest speaker at our local bonsai club in London, and by the time he had finished pruning and training an ordinary garden centre shrub into an impressive bonsai, I was well and truly hooked.

My own collection is  pretty eclectic. I have some wonderful specimens; some have been presents from my family, and some I have grown from seed. Others I have trained, as Peter showed me, from bushes I have found in my travels.

Going to Heron’s is potentially a very dangerous thing for me to do, for there will always be something I cannot live without.

These days, I am governed by the space I have available, so I tell myself I will just ‘window shop’.

Doesn’t always work, of course.

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Six years ago, on such a visit, I had been content to settle for some potting compost and was about to leave, when on the floor near the checkout, I saw a rather shabby looking plant with straggly branches and wilting leaves. It was about six inches tall and unrecognisable, and didn’t look as though it would live to see tomorrow.

As I picked it up, Peter looked over at me, eyebrows raised. I must have had a question written all over my face too, for he just smiled and said I could have it. He must have thought the poor thing was beyond hope.

As I have always been a champion of dying houseplants, I took it home and began to cherish it. Turned out it was an azalea, and for several months there was no sign of improvement. A few new leaves and some that fell off. Not very encouraging.

Then three weeks before Christmas, something strange started to happen. White buds appeared. In no time at all, the pathetic little branches were covered in beautiful, double white flowers. Unusual for an azalea, I discovered, they usually had single flowers and they never bloom at Christmas time.

All the next year I tended it with care, mindful of the display that might come again. I repotted it, carefully fertilised and watered it, but nothing I did seemed to make any difference. It just didn’t grow. I had heard of slow growing, but this was ridiculous!

But another Christmas loomed and more white buds appeared.

I was puzzled. How could such a spindly specimen bloom so abundantly in the middle of winter?

So, in my bonsai collection, among all the healthy, vigorously growing trees, in pride of place is the white azalea. Six years have passed and it hasn’t grown at all, but it blooms in December without fail . The leaves look healthier though, so it isn’t dying.

Just my little magic tree…

To Sleep, Perchance to Dream…

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Despite the warm weather we have been having lately, the early signs of Autumn are sneaking up on us. Little by little, my Bonsai are getting ready for their winter sleep and their leaves are gradually beginning to change colour as they start to close down. Imperceptibly at first, then some of them will turn a fiery red.
A wonderful sight, but a little sad at the same time, as I always miss seeing them in leaf.

It reminds me more poignantly that I am in the midst of my own Autumn (and hopefully I won’t turn scarlet!) emphasised mainly by the fact that I am not at my best this week. Flu or something and I feel wretched to put it mildly! But this too will pass. (Anita’s favourite quotation!)

I have been doing a lot of gazing out of my window this week (as I don’t feel like doing much else) and just love the way Mother Nature goes about her business, come hell or high water. Maybe we could all learn from her example, especially me. But I’m afraid it is all too easy for me to find excuses for not doing what I ought. I find myself constantly using my age as the perfect excuse, and I really must stop doing that, it’s pathetic and doesn’t match how I have lived my life up until now.
The only thing I have always known for sure, is that you can do anything, provided you want to enough. So if you are still breathing, get on with it!
It is easy to think of Autumn as the end of life as we know it, when in fact it is just part of the sequence. A resting, a time to reflect on how much better and brighter next Spring will be. And we need that slowing down, as working flat out all the time is unsustainable. We need to look back at the past year and really see what worked and what didn’t.

You know, all those things you thought were important at the time, but turned out not to be. I have learnt such a lot this year, but the fact that I am still making colossal mistakes only proves to me that there is so much more to do.
It would be easy to mimic the seasons, shut down and hibernate until Spring arrives; and I must admit that sounds incredibly tempting…

But we have a book to launch and another to finish, Anita’s busily scribbling away, so lots of editing there. I also have a pile of how-to notes to wade through. Some to digest, others to discard; time to clear the decks and really get organised, ready for a new year with all those lovely new possibilities…

And a big thank you to all those of you who have helped us this year, you know who you are…

Who Needs Football?

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I have been doing a lot of thinking this week (as opposed to what, you might be thinking) yes I know, but I think my brain has finally reached its tipping point. Since we began this journey into the weird and wonderful world of electronic publishing, my poor little brain has been tortured by an avalanche of information, much of it incomprehensible I’m afraid.
I have tried my utmost to assimilate what I thought (and was told) was absolutely necessary to be successful in this new digital publishing world. You know what I mean… you have to have a good and interesting blog to attract what they call ‘content marketting’. You must be on Facebook, Twitter ect… the list goes on and on.
Well, I have tried to do most of those things, but it doesn’t help to discover you might be using the wrong website provider… and that Facebook keeps changing the rules (which I didn’t understand the first time) and there was always that other sneaking doubt, you know, the ‘I might not be good enough anyway’ one. Which, lets face it, is probably the real reason this website doesn’t attract many visitors, and Anita’s books are not flying off the shelves.

So I was gazing out of my window to where all my bonsai live on their shelves, hoping for some divine inspiration, when I noticed something odd. I had to go and have a look, for my eyesite is not what it was and I sometimes see things that are not there. But not that time. It was real and I had to take a photograph to prove it. On the shelf, nestled between a pine tree and a Ginko, I had placed this huge pine cone that we found in a forest. It must be about six inches long and it really does tell you about the weather. It closes up tight when it rains and opens wide when the sun comes out.

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But what was special that day (as you can see in the photo above) was the fact that tiny mushrooms had sprouted from inside it. Don’t ask me how… it just has. I think it is magical, and it got me to thinking differently about a lot of things.

Maybe I was trying too hard on all the wrong stuff. Because one of the things that has started to annoy me big time, was the fact that what with all this networking, blogging and searching, there seemed to be precious little time left for what is really important…writing. And as hard as I tried, I couldn’t squeeze everything in. It was simply impossible.

Don’t forget, I am still knew to the writing side of this business and I know there is much to learn about the craft. But I won’t learn it properly if there is no time left to do it, will I?

So I have made a monumental decision. I will keep this blog going because I really do enjoy doing it, but I will stop worrying about it. But I am afraid the rest of it will have to take a back seat for now because I have a book to finish (and I am enjoying that too!)

I have it on good authority, that what you really need to be successful, is to produce brilliant books, so that is what we are going to do…