Anita Dawes & Jaye Marie

We Read – We Write – We Review


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Was this my long lost love?

 

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This is a stock photograph of an “Ena Harkness” rose…

I think I have been going on about my favourite rose for years, and didn’t think the family took much notice, for it was a very old variety and probably not around anymore.
When I was a child, we used to make our own perfume by plucking rose petals and soaking them in water. My favourite was the one with the darkest red petals and strong scent. Years later, I discovered the name and actually had one in my garden. It had the most amazing scent and I loved it. Then we moved away and I never found another one to replace it.
Imagine my surprise, when on my birthday last month, I was presented with a heavily pruned rose stock in a pot of soil. It looked incredibly old, with quite bad die back on what remained of the branches. Just one living branch, such a small spindly effort, but it sported a dark red rose bud.
I couldn’t believe my eyes, not that I could see much at that point for my eyes were full of tears. It couldn’t be my favourite rose, could it?
There was a label sticking out of the soil and I nervously turned it over to read the name. Sure enough, it said “Ena Harkness”. I had been looking for one for years without success, so where on earth did my family find it?

We planted it with great care in a large tub, and every day I would visit it and wish it well. I made plans to get some rose fertiliser, for I knew it could do with a lot of TLC.
Every day I imagined the bud grew a little larger, then looser, unfolding the petals, until one day I saw it was starting to open. But would it smell the same as I remembered?

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My “Ena” …

It took nearly a week to fully open and considering the lack of vigour in the plant, it didn’t look bad at all, and the magic perfume was exactly as I remembered.
Then one night it rained heavily, and the next morning I found the flower bent over, the weight of the water far too much for the skinny stem. I gently shook out the water, but the stem refused to straighten. I managed to prop it up, but I knew the petals would be falling soon.
It was a lovely surprise, all I hope is that it survives and blooms again…

Harkness Roses (a trading name of R. Harkness & Co. Ltd) are rose breeders based at Hitchin, Hertfordshire in England.[1] The nursery was founded in 1879 in Yorkshire. Early varieties included a sport of ‘Heinrich Schultheis’ introduced in 1893 as ‘Mrs. Harkness’. In the 1950s, Harkness popularized ‘Frensham’ and ‘Ena Harkness’, both developed by amateur Albert Norman, and for a time ‘Ena Harkness’ was the most popular red hybrid tea rose in the world.

I found this article on the internet…

“It is about this time every year that I start to go a little weak at the knees. I’m sorry – I know everyone loves roses, but I have fallen in love with a particularly special rose. ‘Ena Harkness’, even though the name sounds a little old-ladyish, is a voluptuous, sensually-scented rose. The blooms are huge, so heavy they nod forwards a little. And there are plenty of them to go round.
It’s that old-world scent that catches me on a heady June evening, when the flowers are so full that I could burst with the wonder of it all. And then I deadhead them to keep the display going.
This is a climbing rose, and a vigorous one at that. I planted one last spring, and already it has thrown out huge branches, some 8ft long. I pruned it gently this winter, and still more branches came out.
It’s just as well really – this rose is designed to be grown so the flowers nod down at you from the top of a wall or trellis. And every evening when I get home, there they are, nodding at me gently and throwing their mind-blowing scent everywhere.”

©Anita Dawes


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Where I find Courage…

Whenever I am down or feeling one of many shades of blue, I usually need a piece of music to get my soul moving again. I have had many favourites over the years, both songs and instrumental, but this piece has kept me going now for years.

I defy anyone listening to it, to ignore the challenge it presents. The challenge to rise above yourself and take wing is overpowering and always fixes all my broken bits.

So today, on this special day of resurrection, I pass on to you my gift of a moment I will remember forever…

 


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The Perfect Life (and how to get it…)

 

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                                  Would You Like a perfect life?

Who wouldn’t?

But could you describe in great detail the perfect life you would have if you could create it yourself?

First, you have to decide on the basics, the where, what and when.  Then you will need to create a pros and cons list to help you compare your life now with one you want to create. List all the things/people/ scenarios that need changing and why.

Make a list of exactly what you would need to do to make it work. Then make another list detailing how nothing would change if you didn’t.

Do you believe in your dream and yourself enough to make it happen? Or do you intend to wait until everything looks easy?

Consider what would need to be done and if you could actually do it?

Do you trust yourself enough to make these judgements?

Do you find yourself making bargains with yourself – If I can do this then that is possible?

Once you know, really know what you want to do, are you brave enough to do it? Or will it be just a daydream, a constant torment of what you cannot have?

How do you get past the lifelong notion that good things only ever happen to other people? Have always happened to other people, like in the movies?

How do you get around the idea that you are too old to entertain any of this? Simply writing things down does not make things happen or fears go away.  Does it? No, it does not.

If what you want to do or change is so huge, can you test yourself and the theory with a smaller goal? What else do you want or need, or is this just another stalling mechanism?

Maybe you should focus on something beyond your capabilities. (overreach yourself.)

This is something I do all the time.  I never think ‘I can’t do that’. Being a bit of a crafts person, I look at something I like, usually expensive or unattainable and think, ‘can I make one of those? and I have a go.

You know, most of the time what I come up with is pretty good, even if I do say so myself.  Maybe I was a forger or counterfeiter in a former life.  I think the moral is that you have to try, as you don’t know what will happen. (and it can be a lot of fun!)

                                  

My Not So Perfect Life

Throughout my life, disasters of one kind or another have befallen me, both before I was old enough to do something about them and afterwards.

Did I ever make lists of the things I wanted to change, of all the things, people, events that were wrong in my life?

No, I just got on with life (such as it was) and soldiered on, changing what bits I could and keeping my mind on everything else that I wanted to be different.

Some things I have never been able to change, and it has not been for the want of trying! But my mind never lets go of the idea of my perfect life. My Shangri-La.

But again, nothing changes. Same old hopes and dreams and frustrations.

I know what I want, but something always stops me from doing anything about it. So what the hell is it?

I have always resisted new things, but usually have the courage to do what is necessary. But this time, what I want is seemingly selfish and will upset a lot of people.

Is it worth it?

Will I regret it?

Do I still want to do it anyway?

We have to stop putting up with things- out of duty, guilt, pity- or simply the dislike of change.

You have to recognise what you no longer need. They say if you haven’t used something for a year, you no longer need it, so throw it away. (and that can apply to anything)

Start with little things and build up to the big stuff. Somewhere along the way you will get braver. (Hopefully)

Mark bad days on the calendar and at the end of the month count them. Were there more bad days than good? If there is,  something needs to be done and soon.

There are more bad days than I would like on my own calendar, but not as many as there once were. For not only have I changed a lot over the last few years, my acceptance levels are different too. I no longer yearn for what is obviously impractical and I’m afraid that has a lot to do with my advancing years. They say that youth is wasted on the young and I guess that’s right. I sure as hell wasted a lot of mine…

 

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Lilies and Asthma…

 

Being an asthmatic is very often a pain in the neck. Sorry about the pun, but it is. So many things I cannot do or experience for fear of being unable to breathe.

I cannot wear perfume or use scented products. This includes most washing powders and air fresheners too. I have to use baby talcum powder, so usually smell like an infant. Steam and cooking smells can start me off, so my love of cooking has turned into a source of frustration.

I hate supermarkets, cinemas or public gatherings, for there will always be somebody wearing perfume or aftershave that will literally bring me to my knees.

I haven’t always been an asthmatic. Something happened during a general anaesthetic in my twenties, which triggered it, and even though I hoped it would go the way it came, it never has.

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Someone bought me a beautiful bouquet of flowers last week, and they were lovely, ivory roses and white lilies. The roses were fine, hardly scented at all, but the lilies were something else. I knew from past experience that their wonderful perfume would gradually take over the whole house and become unbearable for me.

Somehow, I couldn’t put them in the dustbin, so I took them outside and put them in the first thing to hand. This happened to be a large green watering can.

I can see these beautiful and ethereal flowers from my kitchen window, and they have lasted longer than the roses…

 

It made me think how sometimes we are forced to look at things from a very different point of view, especially if you are a writer.  I have learned not to dismiss any possibility or idea, as “what if” can lead you into some very weird places!


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One Step at a Time!

I took myself to one side and had a serious talk after my last post, and after much soul searching, I realised the current state of my head was caused by cramming too many things inside it, most of them completely unreasonable and beyond my control. It was time to take a long hard look at my workload and come to some sort of understanding. It was at this point that I remembered the serenity prayer . . .

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There are more verses to this prayer, written by Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971) but the first verse should be indelibly written on the inside of my skull. I am usually the most patient person on the planet, but due to an unfortunate combination of circumstances, I must have decided to forget that detail.

After that miserable post, everyone has been so supportive, and all their messages were the same. I have to take a step back even for one day, in order to regroup and concentrate on the do-able, as opposed to the impossible.

Even though patience is my strong point, I know I have been slowly falling under the spell of doing far too much and expecting miracles. I always expect to stumble upon a magical doorway where everything miraculously works or happens yesterday, and when this fails to happen, I get depressed. Against my better judgement of course, but what can you do when you want need to succeed?

Therefore, I will stop shoving so many irons in the fire. Common-sense is telling me this is not the way to do anything.

I will concentrate on doing one thing at a time and see it through to the end, before moving on.

I will rearrange my schedule to include some ‘me’ time, for life is getting shorter by the minute, and as they say, we will always regret what we didn’t do . . .

 


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Attention to Detail

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I happened to catch an interesting programme on TV the other day. Wiesmann, a famous car manufacturer was building one of their luxury sports cars, entirely by hand. It was incredible.
I love making things, and have attempted many different projects in my time. I also love to watch how things are made, so I was riveted. The attention to detail was simply amazing.
Everything was meticulously planned, from creating the bodywork, cutting out the expensive leather, to all the extras a luxury car commands. Cars are very complicated machines, and seeing one being built from the ground up was amazing. The dedication and teamwork were inspiring to say the least.
These days, we are shown how most cars are built by robotic machines. That is truly amazing too, in its own way.
It suddenly struck me that what I was watching was very similar to how everything is built. Or should be built. First comes the idea, then the planning. Sourcing the materials comes next, then all the groundwork and experimenting. Assembly is the most important stage, knowing the right order to do things and a good eye to ensure accuracy.
I could be talking about a car, or even a house. A sofa or a book. Could be anything really. But apart from a set of plans, you need something else.

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When I was younger, I worked for a dress designer. Not on the glamourous, side of things either, or one of the machinists who sew all the dresses together. My job was quality Control. I had to check every seam, every stitch to ensure each and every one was perfect.
The designer insisted that nothing left the workrooms without being meticulously checked with a fine toothed comb for anything that was not up to standard. Now everyone involved with the creation of these very expensive dresses had done their very best work, from the cutters right down to the finishers, but you would be surprised what my trained eye could spot. It only takes a bad day, or a row with a husband, or the baby keeping you up all night, and mistakes can happen.
Have you ever bought something, got it home only to discover a seam coming undone, or a button missing? A battery that won’t fit, or work when you do manage to get it in?
How many cars are recalled because they have been released with a fault, sometimes a dangerous one?

Quality Control is obviously not what it was, and it’s a shame. We pay good money for things and we deserve better.
This is what has been happening in the world of Indie publishing a lot of the time, I have heard. In our haste to be published, substandard work is being offered to the public. It is so easy to self-publish now, and if you do mess up and miss something, you know you can always pull it back and change it. I know, because I have been guilty of this too in the beginning.
I have heard that some books are being uploaded without proper editing or even a spellcheck! I thought I could dispense with the bother of having my work beta read, but I was mistaken.
It has to be wrong that it is so easy to let standards drop like this. In the beginning, I thought I would never get the hang of any of it, but I soon learned how. And because of all the mistakes I made along the way, I can now do things better.

Should it be easy to create a masterpiece?
From my own experience, if anything I do is too easily accomplished, it usually means something is missing or has been overlooked.

What do you think?