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Blogging, Writing, and … Creativity

OH MY. BLOGGING IS FUN, but there are times … I want to make sure it’s not all “moans and groans” or so boring that you are unable to get through without dozing off. I certainly hope neither has been the case since I got serious in my blogging.

This week has been filled with challenges to carve out any time to write. It’s already Friday and the above is all I’ve managed to write in a week (insert eye roll …). I’m finding my brain is resisting any cohesive thoughts that can be strung together for a blog—there’s just too much “stuff” filling my head. I’ve been trying … I’ve resorted to taking my binder with my edit for the first book with me wherever I go in a feeble attempt to do some writing, whether blog related or not. The funny thing is, in the places I figure I’ll have plenty of time to work (the usual long waits at doctors offices, etc), I’m finding that I just get settled and I’m interrupted. Maybe I should bring work more often (giggle) since the wait times seem shorter when I have something I’m trying to accomplish. And places I “know” I’ll never have time, but bring it with me anyway … well, it seems I’m the most productive then. Go figure.

So … my first run-through of book one in my Secrets Beyond Scymaria series is finished (finally!), but I need to go through at least one more time (I’ve already begun) before I turn it over to my editor for a “second-pass” professional edit. This book did not get a real professional edit before it was published and I apologise to those of you that read it and found the errors. Now that I’ve a new publisher, Inknbeans Press will be republishing the “new and improved” edition—hopefully by this fall and book two (which has had a professional edit) should follow closely on its heels. This means all of my books will be with one publisher. This is a very good feeling for me and makes me want to do a happy dance. Perhaps by spring of 2018 I’ll finally have book four published—it was put on hold so I could get the first two books pulled from Xlibris and republished by Inknbeans. Sigh, and to be honest, it was on hold because my brain wasn’t working right for so long that I couldn’t muster any true creativity. That is now a thing of the past and I am finally eager to dive back into books four and five. I’m definitely doing a happy dance (insert humongous grin).

And, on top of all of that, Joyce Oroz (my mystery writer friend) and I have already begun doing book signings. Friday night we spend three hours at a local Starbucks hawking our books to coffee drinkers. It was fun. In the quiet moments, she and I strategised for upcoming book signings, fine tuning what was on the current agenda and adding yet another potential event to August.

So … seeing as this blog is already two days late, I’d better get it posted. Here’s the schedule (the link will take you to my business Facebook page):  2017 Book Signing and Appearances Schedule  Have a good Sunday and a wonderfully blessed week. I’ve got a quiet week so I’m hoping for a creatively productive week of writing! Until Friday, cheers!

 

Patience …?

HHMMPH! DWELLING ON THINGS you have no control over is terribly counterproductive. My Friday visit to the ER a couple weeks ago left me with tons of questions, some of which are being sorted out with a scheduled test and upcoming appointments. But I’m finding myself very impatient, wanting answers NOW. Ugh. Yes, I AM part of the “now” generation. I’ve tried very hard to shed that “layer” but it rears its ugly head now and again. Especially when I am frustrated.

I even had another visit to the ER a week later. A different “problem”, or so I thought. Turns out, probably the same issue: my spine is finally protesting all of the abuse I’ve given it over the years. The frustrating thing is, many of the symptoms are so close to what one would experience with a heart attack or stroke—so it’s not like I can simply brush it off and just get on with my life. It requires a trip to the ER (well, I’m getting a stress test to see if I really need to do that every time symptoms pop up—like I had on my last two visits).

It really is a nuisance. In the meantime, my neurologist has me doing physical therapy to help with the pressure on my spinal cord and he has me on a lifting restriction (no more than twenty pounds). Ugh. That certainly puts a crimp in my working around the yard. Well, I keep saying I need to hire a gardener … I do believe it’s time to make good on that “threat”. A housekeeper may be a wee bit more tricky since they want to come in and do a deep cleaning before they do routine weekly stuff. I’m going to need to have a little chat about tossing that requirement out the window from the get-go … (giggle) we’ll see how that flies.

With all my doctor visits and PT, I almost forgot to finish up this blog (oopsie). Matter of fact, I seem to be more forgetful (if that’s possible) of late—I forgot to take all of my usual meds yesterday. I think that’s a first. But, thankfully, even if the PT will be continuing, my doctor visits are slowing down and I can get back to living normally. Well, as normally as as one can expect for me.

In the meantime, I think it’s time I hone my “patience” skills (insert eye roll here). And, I need not forget who is truly in charge. I need to remember to “give it to God” …

Summer is just around the corner and this week looks like it’s going to be quite warm. May this weekend and the upcoming week be a blessing to you all.

 

Upcoming Events

Joyce Oroz and dj jameson smithWELL, IT HAS BEGUN … AND I’M NOT sure I’m ready for it (what’s new). Friday, June 23rd begins our (Joyce Oroz and yours truly) book signing and appearances. This first one is a low key event at the “new” Starbucks in Prunedale—in the Prunetree Shopping Center. We’ll be set up inside at one of the tables (yay … since weather has been awfully fickle lately. It was drizzly on Thursday—don’t want to get our books wet!). The next one will be up in San Juan Bautista at Jardines Restaurant in their beautiful garden, possibly on July 15—we’re still negotiating that one. Then over to LaSelva Beach at the library on July 29th.

Unfortunately, the Inknbeans Press’ annual get-together and “across-the-country” book signing (in September) in N. Carolina has been cancelled. Sounds like we out-of-town writers messed up and didn’t get our confirmations in on time. Our bad … and our loss. That one would have been fun. We’ll give it a go next year. And … the application for the October Harvest Jubilee in Salinas just came in, so I’ll be getting that filled out and sent in very soon—I’ll be able to display my art along with my books. I love it when I can combine the two loves of my life.

I’m trying to keep the Facebook business page up to date—in Notes, I’ve got a note titled: 2017 Book Signings and Appearances that has all of the dates, whether confirmed or still negotiating. I do need to update the list with the above mentioned items, so give me a couple of days to do that.

In the meantime, I’m trying to get all my ducks in a row (business & personal), mind my p’s and q’s (health-wise 😳)—trying to follow doctors’ orders … and survive another week (sad that it’s come to that, but hopefully “that” situation will be short-lived).

So, my dear friends, enjoy your Friday and the ensuing weekend and I’ll see you next Friday. May it be blessed abundantly!!

 

 

 

A Day In the Life …


 

MY FRIDAY BEFORE MEMORIAL DAY weekend was mighty busy. More than I bargained for, actually. It started with me wearing my “Homeowner’s” hat; taking a lawnmower in (hand to wrangle it into the back of my truck, then out again) for maintenance and then paying “bail” to get my weed eater/brush cutter sprung outta jail so I could do some serious work in the yard over the weekend.

Then I switched hats (after getting spiffed-up) and met my mystery writer friend, Joyce Oroz, for lunch up in beautiful downtown San Juan Bautista. Writerly hat donned, I was hoping to leave the grey skies behind as I headed inland, but apparently the grey extended its hand all the way into (and beyond) San Juan Bautista. As I walked the block and a half to the restaurant, I took inventory of my warmer weather attire, and I crossed my fingers, hoping we’d be eating inside at Jardines. Thankfully I didn’t find Joyce outside in the patio, but nestled nicely to one side of the Mexican restaurant’s indoor seating area. A pesky pain in my arm interfered with my high spirits a little bit, but after a lovely, filling meal, we chatted with the assistant manager about utilising their garden patio (dining area) for a book signing. He was quite sure something could be worked out, but would have to get back to us on Monday or Tuesday. We were happy with that and bade our good byes to the manager and each other.

My shoulder and arm kept hurting (I couldn’t figure out why) and by our departure was quite bothersome, so, before leaving San Juan Bautista, I rung up my family doctor to see if I could—by some miracle—be squeezed in … no such luck. They didn’t like the sound of the symptoms and since I could not be seen by them, their automatic (CYA) response was to recommend I go to the emergency room.

Sigh. Not happy with the recommendation, I did comply. But calculating the timing and my itinerary, I chose the hospital on the Peninsula over Salinas because it would be closer to my next destination … and if the worst happened (which I doubted), I’d be closest to my daughter—so much more convenient for her (and I prefer CHOMP to SVMH anyway). Another reason was I’d be more likely to make it to the event at Open Ground Studios since it usually took less time at CHOMP than at SVMH. Even with CHOMP being busier than usual, I made it out in under three hours—just in time for the event.

So, I spent some “quality” time at CHOMP, admiring the paintings hanging in their waiting room as I went through the “triage” of care, then was led into the inner sanctum for further evaluation. Kinda wished I’d brought my edit with me—time would have passed faster (maybe). I always feel like I’ve wasted the staff’s time when it’s a false alarm—but I am thankful it wasn’t the worst-case scenario (heart attack—I always have to consider it since I’m on blood pressure meds and have a wonky heart that likes to skip beats, then add an extra now and again). Instead, it was most likely a neck/nerve issue that I’ll have to address at a later date. (Drats!) Well, with Memorial Day weekend upon us, it was put into the back burner. I can’t read a crystal ball, but I do foresee more doctor appointments in my near future—several, in fact … plus a stress test (ugh). Sniggle and sigh … all in one breath.

With that out of the way, I was finally able to switch hats (Painterly) one final time and enjoy (mostly, since my arm still hurt) a wonderful evening with my fellow artist friends and the public that came to see the exhibition of art created in classes and by OGS members. I didn’t participate this year. It felt kind of weird not having any work displayed—other than the piece on the Co-Op Member’s wall at the back (along with my books), but I’m glad I didn’t—I would have been scrambling the last month or so, even more than I already had been! Time to let other artists get the spotlight—well deserved, too. I’m so proud of the amazing things that are created with the OGS walls.

By the time I got home, I was ready to crash and take some medicine that would work better than the Aleve (which gave me zilch relief). Saturday I awoke to no pain (the cycle was broken—yay!) and the day was spent recovering from the busyness of Friday. I didn’t even touch the weed eater—I’d planned on spending the day whacking away at my burgeoning weedy yard, but recovery was more important. The weeds could wait for another day. Monday was the first day I attempted using the weed eater … oh, my. I am so far out of shape—the vibrations did not feel good on my neck, so I laid it to rest in front of the garage … and have yet to pick it up again.

I think I’ve finally resigned myself to not doing any of the heavy work needed to bring my yard back into a more tidy form … instead, I’ll be making a call to have someone come in and do the work for me—this is a very hard thing for me to let go of. I love my gardening—even the hard stuff. Maybe I’ll have him out to work this weekend. Maybe I’ll have another story to tell. We’ll see.

I cannot believe it’s June already (insert serious eye-rolling here)!! Until next time, I’ll say adieu. Have a fantastically blessed Friday and weekend.

Mind Over Matter

MINDS ARE SUCH FICKLE THINGS … I’VE picked up my “digital” pen so many times this week, only to put it down again. Even now … cohesive thoughts elude me. Already over half way through the week with nothing inspiring having trickled out of my grey cells can create a wee bit of panic.

There are plenty of mundane things to write about, but I really don’t want to put you to sleep … really I don’t. Honest. It’s weeks like this that I want to go back to random posts–you know … only when a good idea pops. But I know consistency is important to grow a reader base. Sigh.

And on top of that, Friday is going to be a very busy day. My writing cohort, Joyce Oroz and I will be having a late lunch up at Jardines in San Juan Bautista and chatting with the manager to see if we can use their location for a book signing … then I zip back down, and over to the Peninsula for Open Ground Studios fourth annual celebration–it’s hard to believe it’s been that long. Four years of creating art and nurturing friendships with some amazing people. A perfectly wonderful home away from home for me.

So, (even though this is awfully short) now I’m going to sign off and get this little gem posted before I forget! Have a wonderfully blessed Friday and upcoming week. This is Memorial Day weekend for those of us in the States. Please take a moment to remember all those that served  to protect us.

 

At It Again … Book Signings and Art

I’M OF THE OPINION THAT MANY EVENT planners conspire against us humble vendors. Back-to-back weekends with a few events on Thursday and Friday, just prior to one of the weekend events can certainly be daunting.

Joyce and I have survived two years of that (or has it been more?), Joyce Oroz and dj jameson smithworking together in the fall/winter with all of the holiday events (Halloween, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas—am I forgetting any?). As we drag our way through the last few events of the year, we keep saying (every year) that we need to spread out our events more evenly throughout the year (adding to what we have), so that we can pick and choose which ones we do in the latter part of the year.

Teehee … Joyce managed to find a couple events for the new year already, so we’re already at it again. We finished our first event on 6May (a Saturday)—new to us … and absolutely great for a mystery writer, but apparently not so much for a fantasy writer. The winery seemed like such a great venue to catch people as they came out of their wine tasting and as the headed into the craft/vendor area. Guglielmo Winery Book SigningWe were placed in what should have been a prime location, but we found people skirting around us, not wanting to connect. Those that did connect bought Joyce’s mystery books, but not mine—I chatted with a quite a few people and did sell a few, so it wasn’t a complete loss. Some would listen to our spiel and say they’d think about it … and if they had money left over, they’d stop back and buy—but didn’t. Guess they spent their money elsewhere in the vendor’s fair.

The “background” music did not help. It truly was difficult to carry on conversations with those that did stop, whether their stopping was out of curiosity or an honest desire to purchase. It didn’t help that both Joyce and I no longer have strong voices to talk over the music. And my not having two of my three books on Amazon further damaged my ability to sell. I really need to get those two books republished with Inknbeans Press—soooon!

All of that aside, our next two events were literally back-to-back two-day, then one-day events. First up was the low-key and delightful craft event at Watsonville Watsonville Hospital Book Signing (and Art)Hospital in their conference room, from 10am-4pm on Thursday and Friday, 11-12 May. I had both Painterly and Writerly hats donned for that.

Next (and the finale for the very busy, long weekend) was the Aromas Hills Artisan’s event, Aromas Country Garden Tour on Saturday, 13 May from 10am-4pm. Attendees began at the Aromas Grange to pick up the Garden Tour map, then meander to the homes to admire the rich variety of gardens … and find AHA members displaying their Aromas Country Garden Tour/Book Signingwares—Joyce Oroz and I scored a prime setting to display and hawk our books. An amazing 2.5acre garden. We Scored A Fantastic GardenWe relished every sale, but knew people were there for the gardens, so it was more to get the word out … a PR day, so to speak—and to thoroughly enjoy the glorious day, as well.

We’ve had a quiet spell for a wee bit—time to spend with family on Mother’s Day before I begin chatting with a few business managers these next couple weeks to see if they’d be open to having two authors cluttering up their space for a few hours. We’re going to chat with the proprietor of Jardines de San Juan in San Juan Bautista—after we have a lovely lunch—to see if we can do a Restaurant Garden Delights Beautiful Garden at Jardines Jardines de San Juan's gardensigning in their beautiful garden … and check on a few other businesses in the town, also—especially since one of Joyce’s mysteries is set in San Juan Bautista. Slowly but surely, we will have events scattered throughout the year. And hopefully we’ll be able to keep them on the schedule for years to come.

In the meantime, I certainly hope those mothers, mothers-to-be—and those with a seed of an idea to become a motherHappy Mothers Day—amongst my readers had a memorable Mother’s Day. Though belated, Happy Mother’s Day to all of you!

I’ve been hunkered down working on the edit for the book that started the whole thing … Secrets Beyond Scymaria. Editing ... ... And More EditingThere may be a few changes, but it will not change the direction of the story. I can hardly wait to get it back into print. But please know that you can get both paperback and hardbound copies of the original printing via my SquareMarket store and I’ve decided to extended the sale for all three—if purchased as a trio, whether two hardbound and one paperback or all three paperback.

So, my dear readers … may this Friday and the week to come be one filled with delight, surprise and cheer …

 

 

It’s Just One of Those Days …

HAVE YOU EVER HAD ONE of those days … you know, the ones that start off with you struggling to get out of bed? Days where you welcome the overcast skies because it’s not jarring your senses. Days where you drag your feet—literally—across the floor because there’s no energy for quick or crisp steps. Days where even after your “wake-up!” beverage and breakfast all you can think about is returning to a horizontal position. In bed, under the covers … hiding from the world. And, in my case, trying to escape pain. It’s not horribly bad like some of my friends deal with, but it’s there. All. The. Time. Nagging at me.

For me, hiding out in bed doesn’t really work—it’s one of those dreaded catch 22 things. Going forward in my day may sort the pains out … but trigger new ones. By staying in bed, old pains are relieved, but new ones creep in due to inactivity. Like I said … it’s a no-win scenario. I just have to decide which way I want to deal with it.

I can lessen the pain by taking medications, but because my body is not fond of it, I don’t take the meds unless I’m really hurting and I can only manage the meds for a couple days. I used to be a morning person—popping out from under the covers at 7am to start my day. Now, not so much. I still wake up at the same time … it just takes a whole lot longer to get my engines working. A whole lot longer.

I’m not trying to be a whinging ninny here. I’m simply trying to make a point. I count my blessings that my pain levels are relatively mild compared so many. I am able to get up and get moving—unassisted. I am able to walk—carefully—downstairs to make my own breakfast. My knees and ankles may sound like a creaky ol’ house in the process of descending the stairs, but I can do it.

My inactivity of late has triggered a weight gain, which is another catch 22—the more weight, the more stress/pain in the body, but movement and exercise cause pain, so I am less active, causing weight gain. And, it seems recently, pain apparently has become a trigger for me to seek comfort food (aka: major carb intake!!). Groan! I’m trying to fix that bad habit!

So … what am I trying to say here? There will always be “one of those days” or perhaps a string of them for you or for someone you know—or maybe it’s the complete stranger standing next to you. What do I do? I lean on God more heavily on those days … and it helps me get through the day. If it’s not you, please do not be the one to tell those that are having difficulties that it’s all in their head; that they can work it out (physically); or to shun them because they cannot keep up with you or are impeding your plans. Ask how you can help. Quietly and deliberately slow your pace (mentally and/or physically) so conversations can happen when your together. Understand where they are coming from … if you don’t understand fully, perhaps ask about the underlying illness causing the issue. Be educated. Just be there. Engage with them.  Be considerate. Smile (a genuine smile, please) and send up a prayer for them. There are so many ways—these are only a few of them.

Life is getting a wee bit hectic (I’ll explain later), so I probably will not be doing a blog next week (it will be a miracle if it happens)—as it is I almost forgot today’s! (insert very red face here …)

Have a blessed day and week—no, make that two weeks. The days are getting more and more beautiful, which makes me happy. Here’s to the upcoming summer! Cheers!

 

Gearing Up … Already!

OH, MY. IT CAN’T BE—REALLY? I CANNOT believe that on Monday, it will be May already—where on earth did all the time go?? Yikes.

But, this is an exciting time, too! A dear and fantastically artistic friend, Katie Crawford, has returned to our little corner Katie Crawfordof the world and will be talking about getting back in the saddle artisticly- and creatively-speaking tonight (Friday, 28th of May). The next thing on her agenda will be to teach all that attend her Saturday workshop how to make needle-felted creatures. Oh, you can bet I’ll be there! Then, she’s off—heading back to the East Coast to her husband and studio to paint and create her felted critters (they are so adorable).

But that’s not all … my mystery writer friend and cohort, Joyce Oroz has been working in the background trying to “level the playing field” so our book signings aren’t so lopsided—all of our book signing packed into the last quarter of the year can be exhausting (and frustrating). She’s working on peppering them throughout the year. I really should be helping scout out potential venues (oopsie) …

… and the first two are consecutive weekends in May. A new-to-us event is literally just around the corner on Joyce Oroz and dj jameson smithSaturday, the 6th of May at the Guglielmo Winery Vendor Faire in Morgan Hill from 11am-4pm. There will be arts, crafts, jewelry and more (teehee—I think we’re the “more” …) at this outdoors event. I’m excited to get into a new area and see how well it’s attended. Hopefully we’ll see some of you there!

The next one, held on Saturday, 13th of May, is a well established event—the Aromas Country Garden Tour, showcasing beautiful gardens in the Aromas area with various Aromas Hills Artisan members and their creations stationed within each garden. Joyce and I will have our signed books available for purchase. You start out at the Aromas Grange to get the list of homes on the tours (small fee to help support the event), then make your way to each garden. All I can say is, I believe we’re IN town near the Grange. Each artist is mentioned in the list/map, along with the garden they’re “hosting” on the map, so you’ll know where we are once you have the map in hand.

There is a third (new) event lined up, but not until July, at the La Selva Library. The out- and indoor event (our booth will be indoors), Books and Brew’s La Selva Beach Festival will be held on Saturday, 29th of July from 10am-4pm. There will be Arts, Crafts, Books, Plants, Produce & Flowers Sale … in addition to music, food, microbrews, prize drawing & kids’ activities. Again, this will be a new venue for the two of us, so it will be fun to see how well-attended it is.

After that, things quiet down for a couple months—at least for now, then start to heat up again (for me) in late September … on into mid-December. I’ll keep you in the loop if and when any new events pop up … and when the planned ones are happening. Promise.

May this weekend and the upcoming week be blessed—we’ll finally have some warmer weather (yay) to look forward to. Enjoy your week.

 

What’s Up?

Words.
They can be quite fascinating—individually, or bunched together.
A fun little tidbit was brought to my attention by a writer friend. She attributed it to a journalist, Paul Arcand. I copied and posted it to my personal page, but decided to find out if Mr. Arcand was the originator … or if it was one of those bits of trivia “making the rounds” … research is not my forté, but before I share the piece, I thought I’d share my research.

Since Mr. Arcand (on his personal page) did not divulge his source, I was forced to do my own due diligence … and turned to Google for help. I popping the entire piece (I know, I know … I was simply curious if it would give me different results that way) into the search box yielded me several options. I sought out the oldest entry, from 2013. Not all that old, but a start.

It was a Moravia.com link and the article was attributed to Lee Densmer. In her article, she linked another page as the possible origination—Tysknews.com. It linked directly to the piece in question … but there was no clue as to who wrote it. When I got to the end, I saw additional text—much smaller, and outside of the main boxed text.

It made me laugh. “I gave up trying to determine who is responsible for writing this up.” Yup … on that note, I too decided that this was the end of the line for my research. FYI: If you go to each link, you will see that there are minor tweaks to the Tysknews’ version. I made no corrections—simply copied and pasted. (A heads-up: there is some potty humour at the end (insert eye roll … really??)  Unfortunately, in the pasting process, indentations disappeared, but it really does not change the information. So, my dear readers, it is on that same note that I present you with this bit of funny trivia about a singular word:

This is Interesting and funny all at the same time
A reminder that one word in the English language that can be a noun, verb, adjective, adverb and preposition.
UP Read until the end … You’ll laugh.
This two-letter word in English has more meanings than any other two-letter word, and that word is ‘UP.’ It is listed in the dictionary as an [adv.], [prep.], [adj.], [n] or [v].
It’s easy to understand UP, meaning toward the sky or at the top of the list, but when we awaken in the morning, why do we wake UP?
At a meeting, why does a topic come UP? Why do we speak UP, and why are the officers UP for election and why is it UP to the secretary to write UP a report? We call UP our friends, brighten UP a room, polish UP the silver, warm UP the leftovers and clean UP the kitchen. We lock UP the house and fix UP the old car.
At other times, this little word has real special meaning. People stir UP trouble, line UP for tickets, work UP an appetite, and think UP excuses.
To be dressed is one thing but to be dressed UP is special.
And this UP is confusing: A drain must be opened UP because it is stopped UP.
We open UP a store in the morning but we close it UP at night. We seem to be pretty mixed UP about UP!
To be knowledgeable about the proper uses of UP, look UP the word UP in the dictionary. In a desk-sized dictionary, it takes UP almost 1/4 of the page and can add UP to about thirty definitions.
If you are UP to it, you might try building UP a list of the many ways UP is used. It will take UP a lot of your time, but if you don’t give UP, you may wind UP with a hundred or more.
When it threatens to rain, we say it is clouding UP. When the sun comes out, we say it is clearing UP. When it rains, the earth soaks it UP. When it does not rain for awhile, things dry UP. One could go on and on, but I’ll wrap it UP, for now . . . My time is UP!
Oh . . . One more thing: What is the first thing you do in the morning and the last thing you do at night?
U P ! Did that one crack you UP? Don’t screw UP. Send this on to everyone you look UP in your address book . . . Or not . . . it’s UP to you.
Now I’ll shut UP!

So … on that note, I wish all of you a blessed Friday, weekend and upcoming week. May serendipity reign supreme …

Indecision …

I DO NOT WEAR INDECISION WELL … no, not at all. I don’t like seeing indecision in others, but even more so, I truly hate being the indecisive one. Yet, that is exactly what I’m about this month, it seems. I find myself still researching when I should be focused on more important things … sigh—like editing, writing, playing with my camera and creating art.

I know I said I wasn’t going to move … I was going to stay put in my little corner of paradise. Then an offer was dangled in front of my nose, making that decision difficult to keep. I keep doing the math … and say no, but I think of all the non-financial benefits … and scream yes! It’s the one place I love—close to Open Ground Studios, which means I’d be there more frequently (which thrills me!) … plus I’d have a garden to tinker in near by (not at the community I’m considering, but at my daughter’s home). It would mean very little housework, no yard to maintain … just a little patio for a few plants.

I keep expanding my search … and keep coming up with options that are out of my financial realm. If I qualified for assisted living, I could manage it—but who, in their right mind would wish that upon themselves. I am able and capable. And I’m hoping to stay that way for quite some time.

So, though I’m waiting on a reply to an email (answering questions that will put the final nail in the coffin, sealing it off from further investigation—at least for the present), I really have decided to stay in my home. I’ll be making long overdue improvements, painting the whole house (interior), and hiring a groundskeeper (aka: gardener) to tame my yard somewhat. I like it wild, but I absolutely must get rid of the poison oak once and for all. Also, I want to cut some trails (lay some gravel in the paths) in the upper hillside so I can meander, getting some good exercise in without leaving the yard. I’ll make some repairs and upgrades to outbuildings. All for me … but it will also make some good selling points when I do finally need to move out. Maybe I’ll even hire a housekeeper so I can keep the house dust-free, alleviating me of my worst allergen–dust (I am an awful housekeeper. I’d rather be gardening—even editing, rather than trying to clean house).

Funny thing is, I always thought I couldn’t afford those things—the gardener and housekeeper. But after looking at the huge outlay of funds for an apartment in a seniors community … well, it’s a drop in the bucket. It’s still a chunk of money and I’ll need to cut a few things out of my budget to feel comfortable about the added expense, but it will be better than moving into the seniors community (I’ll still have to cook for myself … bummer, right? Insert sheepish grin here).

I’ll eventually make that transition—doing a mega-downsizing, but for now, the plan is to clean up the long-neglected yard and house, get rid of things I have no use for (I’ve been reading articles about all those precious things we keep, to hand down to our children—turns out they don’t want them—so, I’ll check with my daughter to see if there are any items she wants to hang on to) … and begin living as a minimalist in terms of possessions. It’s been a goal of mine for a very long time. It will be nice to have finally achieved it.

With the weight and pressure of “needing to” move gone, I’m back to enjoying life. I’m still working towards purging useless things from my life and I’ve found a renewed appreciation for the beauty of my little corner of paradise. My creative mind seems to be on the move, which excites me. Ideas for the yard—simple but eye catching (for resale)—and the house … and my WIPs are finally begging (should I say pleading?) for attention.

Sniggle … I think I need a schedule so I can juggle all this creativity—a nice problem to have, don’t you think?

My dear readers, I hope your life is filled with blessings and joy that require a little juggling, to keep you buoyed up during the crazy times that creep in trying to pull you under.

Until next week, have a blessed Friday and weekend!

Spring … A Time of New Beginnings

AAAH. SPRING IS HERE AND, ooooh, I’m loving it! Flowers are in bloom, trees are leafing out–brand spankin’ new green growth. And there’s pollen everywhere. Yellow stuff from the pines and oaks

Pollen Abounds

My poor cars … this is my *red* truck’s tonneau, but the whole thing is covered in pollen.

cover my car, the driveway and any relatively flat surface.

My allergies … oooh, they just love this time of year (not). They act up 24/7 … 365 days of the year, but spring is a special time. Sneezing, coughing, puffy and itchy eyes dominate—even with my allergy meds. Ugh. But, because it is such a beautiful time of renewal, I ignore my symptoms as much as possible, throw aside all caution (well … mostly) and revel in the celebration of fresh, vibrant colours and new life that abounds.

Then, there’s the new “batch” of babies–birds,Curious Fawn fawns, chicks … I cannot believe how blessed I am to see all of these things–or have friends that share their precious finds. I live in such an amazing place where I can see ocean, meadows, rolling hills and mountains–all within an hours drive. I can enjoy old and new facades sharing space together–there are three or more California missions within that hours drive plus many historic Birds and Wavesbuildings on the Monterey Peninsula; lakes, rivers and streams that haven’t run much in the last five years because of our drought are now refreshed with the heavy rains and a delight to look at, walk or swim in or boat upon. Lake El Estero, which borders on Dennis the Menace Park Spring Flowers Caterpiller on Lilac(once was a very cool park … until they started—one by one—removing the coolest of the structures for safety’s sake. And the statue of Dennis was stolen!), has paddle boats that I might have to try out–haven’t been on one since my husband, young daughter and I had adventures … so long ago. This Monterey County area holds so many memories … it really is wonderful–my little paradise.

Time for the new beginnings. Just as the first of the year is the traditional time to make “promises of change” (aka: New Year resolutions), I find spring a wonderful time to begin anew in my artistic pursuits–photography (with all that entails), Paper-folding Art Calligraphy Practice Calligraphyart in its many forms—including classes and workshops at Open Ground Studios, gardening (creative ideas to make my yard fun) and writing–since my energy levels are naturally higher Writing ... Editing ...(sniggle … along with my allergies–sigh). My mind is beginning to reel with ideas which gets me excited now, if I can keep the energy high for a while, whilst I wait to I get my body back in shape. Write … right? … and edit!

May this day … this week, and this glorious month have delightful, blessed surprises for you around each corner. Cheers!

 

 

 


 

A Little Shout-Out

WELL … I’M BUSTIN’ MY BUTTONS—Jackson Horvat did an excellent job of the interview with me. Thank you so much, Jackson! This young man is in high school—the interviews he’s been doing are part of a school project—but more importantly, he’s a published author with Inknbeans Press. A darned good one, too. His genre is science fiction and you can find his books here and at Inknbeans Press … and information about him here.

My interview—the first one in quite a while—can be found here. And along with that lovely interview, I’m finally getting the energy and my creative “mojo” back—sweet! I’m seriously diving back into working on editing book one in the Secrets Beyond Scymaria series so Inknbeans Publishing can publish it. If you recall, I withdrew the first two books from Xlibris last August and assumed I’d have the first book published with Inknbeans Press by January, 2017. Oopsie. I’m also still working on book four, editing it so it too can finally be published. And … my characters have started to breath down my neck, waiting for me to open the file up for book five. It’s time to get their newest story finished.

To celebrate all of this—especially for those of you that have yet to purchase any of the books (or wish to make gifts of the series to friends and family)—beginning Wednesday, April 5, 2017 I am having my first ever, honest-to-goodness book sale at my SquareMarket store! I’m still dotting all the i’s and crossing the t’s … but by the 5th, I should be rarin’ to go.

So my friends, Spring is here. It’s going to be a wonderful season in my life. I certainly hope it is the same with you! Have a wonderful day! May your day and weeks ahead be blessed … may you find serendipity around the corner. Oh … next week will be a photo-blog … I can feel it in my bones (insert mischievous grin here).

 

Happy St Paddy’s Day!

OH, MY! TODAY IS ST. PADDY’S DAY … wonderful! Image result for st paddy day imagesWhat a delightfully serendipitous day to have a blog posting! Considering I said I probably wouldn’t do one because of the craziness … well, this seems like a simple, no-brainer kind of blog post, eh?

Image result for st paddy day imagesYeah … right. So, I’ve tried to get a few images (you can click on them to see them larger to see details), then “plagerised” (I did give them credit!) some trivia about St. Patrick (from seeker.com) … insert winky face here … teehee—all “parens” are my personal comments:

Did you know …? In Ireland, St. Patrick’s Day is a religious holiday similar to Christmas and Easter. And, that “Erin go Bragh” translates to “Ireland forever.”

The very first St. Patrick’s Day parade was not in Ireland. It was in Boston in 1737. (Go figure.)

Related image

The largest parade in the United States, held since 1762, is in New York City, and draws more than one million spectators each year. Over 100 US cities hold a parade every year. Some of the other biggest St. Patrick’s Day parades are in Chicago, Illinois and Savannah, Georgia.

In 1948 President Truman became the first president to attend a St. Patrick’s Day parade.

The city of Chicago goes so far to celebrate that they dye their river green. Green is associated with Saint Patrick’s Day because it is the color of spring, of Ireland, and of the shamrock.

To celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, 110 million people will celebrate the day by wearing green, making an Irish-inspired meal, or going out to celebrate.

There are 33.7 million U.S. residents who are of Irish ancestry. (I’m one of them …) That number is almost nine times the population of Ireland itself. Fifteen million cards are exchanged on St. Patrick’s Day. 10 percent of all St Patrick’s Day cards are sold in New York.

Nineteen Presidents of the United States proudly claim Irish heritage—including our first President, George Washington.

St. Patrick is a hero in Ireland. And there are about 60 churches and cathedrals named for him in Ireland alone. One of the most famous cathedrals is St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin. These grounds bear the mark of the place where St. Patrick baptized his converts. (I’ve been to this cathedral. It is amazingly beautiful!)

So, my friends, enjoy your St. Paddy’s Day. Wear green even if you’ve not a drop of Irish blood in ye … enjoy some lovely Irish stew or corn beef and cabbage. Make a toast to your neighbor. Get on with it then.

Slainté! Cheers!

 

Commitments

LESS THAN THIRTY-SIX DAYS TILL TAXES are due. In addition to all that gathering of receipts (ugh … I really, really hate doing taxes), I still have an edit or three on my fourth book to complete, an edit or two on the rewrite of book one (I’ve passed the self-imposed deadlines multiple times for both), book five is begging to be worked on. Ideas keep popping into my head—I try to get them scribbled down before they vanish, but have yet to be successful at that … and I have yet to create any art (sniff …) Okay, that was one very long run-on sentence. Sorry. But, you get the drift, right?

I’m also in a holding pattern on finding out what’s going to happen with my left knee. I really did do it in when I fell (twice) in January. Sigh. I see my orthopedist at the end of March … results of an MRI arrived at my primary care doc’s office last week, and from what I read (I always get copies of the reports … handy to have a medical assistant background), it doesn’t look as bad as it initially felt. My regular doc definitely wants me to see the orthopedist. I’m hoping it’s just for PT … no surgery. At least, that’s what I read into the report, plus how I’m feeling. Hoping and praying …

Why is it, when all I want to do (now that I’ve got better vision—cataract surgery was a complete success—yay!) is to write with abandon, there always seems to be Things keeping me from it?? Doctor appointments that cut into the day, meetings, tax preparation (ugh) and my weekly commitment to help out (or even to actually creating some art, which hasn’t happened either) at Open Ground Studios … all of these vie for my attention and precious time. I write best when I have large chunks of time to let my mind go in whatever direction it wishes—remember, the characters seem to be in control. Those large “chunks” seem to be hard to find these days. The same applies to editing. And, I’m finding I need the quiet of my home for that … so I can concentrate.

I either need to “un-commit” myself a whole bunch or figure out how to work in smaller time slots. I have cut back on my commitments, but … oooh, this sounds way too familiar—it’s a repeating problem I seem to have. Balancing things that need to be done with things I’d like to do … and the things others would like me to do. None of it is going to be easy to work out—never is, is it?

I’ve found myself taking art classes that I cannot complete because of stupid injuries, doctor appointments and other time constraints that happen after I’ve made the commitment to take the classes or … well, you’ve got the picture. It is frustrating to not be able to engage in any artistic outlet, whether it is writing or creating art (hopefully that will change this weekend with a one-day monotype workshop). Sure, I am able to compose a blog weekly (most weeks), but those usually are random happenings. No serious “construction” involved—just ramblings for the most part. Fun to write (in most cases) and for you to read, but even those blogs takes me away from creating serious stuff.

So … I need to re-group, figure some things out and take a serious look at my calendar. And add (cringe) a serious exercise regimen to my schedule to help my knee heal. And start planning some book signings for this spring and summer—right?

Sniggle … even as I write this, I find that I’ve signed myself up for two art classes (hmm … how’d that happen? Insert monster grin)—one on Saturday (just a one-day workshop) and the other begins on 21March—for four or five weeks, I think. It’s hard to resist the great workshops and seminars that OGS offers! I’ve decided those two will be fine, as I’m progressing nicely on my sorting of tax receipts and I’ve actually managed to do a little editing. I’ve even made copies of my two WIPs that need editing—I do so much better with hard-copies … old-school girl, yup. But … I’ve also added another thing to my agenda (I’m not ready to divulge it as yet—I’ll probably do a whole blog about it). And it is eating into my time also, but so far I’m keeping it manageable—for the time being.

So … this isn’t the short blog I thought it would be (oopsie …), but I’m ending the week with a smile on my face, so hopefully you won’t mind. May you have a wonderfully blessed weekend and week to come.

Caution … Staying Safe

ON TUESDAY I WAS GIVEN A TONGUE-LASHING. At first, I responded to the well-meaning reprimand from my friend with the usual head-nodding and agreement—because I do listen to advise, weigh it and then do what what seems best … for me. Occasionally, I will do “dare-devily” kinds of things … but with caution.

But there was much more behind her impassioned plea. She had just lost a dear, long-time family friend to a preventable accident. He and his wife were just beginning a new chapter in their life when his life came to an abrupt end. She was crushed by the senseless and way-too-early death of her friend. And me talking about my gimpiness and hatred for being tethered to a crutch struck a cord.

Her feelings were still very raw as she told me to be more careful. To use my crutch/cane all the time, even if I don’t feel it’s necessary. To think twice—especially before doing those things in my yard that took me off of the ground. Climbing ladders, for example. From reading all my goofy Facebook posts, she knew I took unnecessary risks to take care of my yard and home (mind you, all in the name of saving a buck and getting it done the way I want it done …). Doing things that could cause a preventable accident. As she spoke, my gut reaction were: I’m not that old, I’m careful, I’d never do anything to put myself at risk like that … Right. Never? I do it all the time. Sigh.

She knew I had a tendency to toil beyond the “safe” point … where exhaustion overrides my reflexes and common sense—whether in work or play—and it has led to “minor” incidents (like my sprained ankles and badly wrenched knee and shoulder because I ignored the well-established cautionary red flags in my mind). I’ve worked with power tools in this state—down-right stupid, right? Yes, I see that now.

Her loving rant made me think—to actually take the time to think. To think about how careless I was at times. I’m still thinking about it, which is a good thing. A very good thing. Bless her! She even offered to rally our friends around me to do the cleanups that I need to do (but shouldn’t do) to keep me safe. But, Proud Me refused her—at least for now—as I am utterly embarrassed at how cluttered and run-down my home and yard have become. And this new injury keeps me from doing what needs to be done—yet again—even the stuff on “ground-floor” levels … the safe stuff.

Now (sigh) … to put this “newfound” eureka moment into practice. That is going to take some doing, as I am an extremely independent soul. Oh, yes, extremely so. As she scolded, I thought of all the simple things requiring me to get off the ground (or taking me onto uneven ground): a severely cracked timber (2×4) in the bunny condo needs to be replaced (it’s 8 feet off the ground), gutters need cleaning (sniggle—that was supposed to be done before the rains began!), weeding/pulling/cutting down unwanted plants (ivy, poison oak, weedy bushes)—on the hillside, fixing the fence line, creating a parking area off to the side of my driveway (and moving the fence to accommodate it) … and I can’t forget the CalFire requirements of cleaning up the property of combustible stuff—oh, the list is endless … most definitely.

So … even though I don’t like the idea of “strangers” on my property doing things they way they want to do them, tromping on my fragile hillsides without regard to the erosion it could cause … I must farm-out these less than safe (for me) duties to someone I can trust. It means I’ll not be doing the things that I love (what am I saying—I’m not doing them now!) and I’ll find myself less active—I’ll just have to find something else to do to replace them.

Starting today … well, the great procrastinator in me says next week. But, it will happen. Do you wonder how good are you at keeping yourself safe when you toil at home or work, or when you are driving …? Think back to near mishaps. Could they have been avoided? Perhaps you too need to reconsider how you do things. Join me in changing habits to be safer. Our friends and family will be ever so grateful.

May this Friday and the upcoming week find you safe and blessed beyond belief.

 

Gally One and What IS This Crazy Weather …?

[Dear Readers: My apologies for the length of this blog—no good spot to cut it. Sigh.]

WELL, IT’S BEEN A VERY INTERESTING TWO weeks. Between threats of major storms, I managed to make it down to The LAX Travelodge—reasonable traffic (considering it’s LA), not bad accommodations and service for what we needed. And not too bad a walk (0.5mile—three long blocks) to the event hotel—Marriott at LAX. That is … if my knee wasn’t throwing fits and the wind was trying to turn my umbrella inside out. Still, all in all, it was not bad.

I left home on Wednesday and made my ritual over-night stop at Lebec, hoping I would be in good enough shape to trudge around taking pictures—beautiful mountainous countryside. Mmm … not if I wanted to keep my camera dry and me upright. Fits of rain intermingled with bigger fits of wind (gusts) … and exhaustion kept me from playing with my good camera. I was going to take a few Blustery Skies ...shots from the window (a south-easterly view), but really not much of a view—18-wheelers were parked between the hotel and my view. Drats. Well, this one is from my return trip.

Since I ended up with loads of “chill-time” on my hands in Lebec, I caught up on what wasForcasting Rain happening at home via my iPhone and Facebook. The beginnings of a monster storm front started to dump rain … by the time I arrived in LA (actually, Inglewood) the next day, the front had hit the entire coast line—including LA. It only took a little over 1.5 hrs to get to the Travelodge from Lebec and thankfully they were able to accommodate my early arrival (yay). So I settled in and leisurely Dr. Who Paraphinalia unpacked before trudging up to the Marriott. Registration officially opened at 3pm … so I wandered around up in the Lobby for a bit before heading downstairs—plenty to do. By the time I got down there, they were already allowing people through (around 2:15-ish). Score! No queuing, no waiting! Lovely.

Whilst waiting in the faux-line, I met two gentlemen from Canada. After I was asked a few questions—I won’t say what, as John will probably use the same ones next year … we exchanged con ribbons—not my first since I was activelyRibbon Collecting Begins seeking people out up in the Lobby to share my ribbons (and hope to get some in exchange). John and Jake turned out to be hilarious—quick, dry wit that had me in stitches. We ran into each other over and over all weekend—and they had new costumes for each day. Jake did purchase all three of my books on Saturday—I was ecstatic! If he likes them, he promised to do a review and spread the word up in Canada! Yay! Saturday was the “dress your best” day—costumes were absolutely magnificent on everyone!

I nearly forgot the two Thursday events: trip to the local InNOut Burger place (unofficial)—poor locals never know what hit ’em—and Ice Cream Social Ice Cream Socialthe ice cream social (official) … both were tons of fun (but I cheated—took a taxi A Sneak Peek at Dealer's Roomto and from the InNOut Burger spot … I vividly remember the walk last year—LOL).

Captain Jack

Captain Jack

The costuming all weekend was amazing—especially on Awesome Weeping AngelSaturday as I mentioned. Weeping Angles (very few this year, but that made the ones I saw more special), tons of different Osgood or Zygon ...? Third DoctorDoctors, oodles of Amys, Daleks, TARDIS costumes in various shapes and sizes, a delightful K-9 Lovely Cardboard K-9(full size, but of cardboard and pulled about on a leash), Osgood … oooh, the list goes on. This year, I chose to not cosplay, but rather wear a hodge-podge of Dr. Who things: 4th Doctor’s hat and scarf, question mark pin (I didn’t realise so many doctors used that—three of them to be precise … do you A Bevy of Doctors Sutek and Mummiesknow which ones without googling it?), bow tie of the 9th My "Cosplay" AttireDoctor, vest of Sarah Jane … etc. I left the Osgood lab coat in my bag—no glasses (they broke the week before I left) to make it official. I also left Sarah Jane’s raincoat behind. I didn’t want to be lugging it around—no cloak room. Next year … I plan on making my cosplay outfits (only two) much more special. Next year—that is, if I’m able to manage scoring a pass …

I did have an umbrella—a Doctor Who “special” umbrella (insert huge grin) Dr. Who Umbrella-Inside Dr. Who Umbrella-Outsidethat I found a rubber tip for (I used it as a cane on Thursday—oh, yeah … I’ll explain that later) I finally got to use it asUmbrella ... and Crutch an umbrella on Friday and Saturday. It’s gorgeous—and huge! I didn’t need any other protection and stayed relatively dry—once I worked out how to keep it from becoming a “rain collector” (sniggle) and still keep the rain off.

I scoped out the Dealers Room as early on as I couldDr. Who Pins and found my two missing pins for myA Sneak Peek at Dealers Room hat—the War Doctor and 12th Doctor (Capaldi). Yay! That made me happy!

My buddies that came down late had awesome costumes! Renée was a very posh Dalek and Pam had a dress with the exploding TARDIS. Friends' Cosplay OutfitsMichelle chose to be neutral—she’s not into cosplay, which is perfectly fine! She and I did a number of the talks together … we only occasionally saw Pam or Renée (at Gally) since they had their own agendas for the talks.

Ood

Gallifrey One was amazing, running smoothly throughout the weekend. The all-volunteer staff did a marvelous job. Kudos—to all of them—for their tireless work that made the event such a fun time. I didn’t do Best Doctor Cosplay Ever What Can You Do With Ribbons??Queen Elisabeth or Zygon ?? Dalek Ood and Nurseany of the autograph or photo sessions like I did last year as I was feeling a bit “poor”—unwilling to spend the money for the opportunities. I did attend quite a few talks, both in the main room and auxiliary rooms.  And … unfortunately, I did not go on Sunday. My injured knee (remember the “caned” umbrella? That was not a Ooooh!prop—I trashed my knee … and ankles at the end of January), using a cane instead of the crutch for two days and all the walking took its toll on yours truly. So instead, I packed up my bags, put them in the car and headed home—I was going to try to do it in one day, but knew I needed the down-time in Lebec, so I made reservations at “my” Motel 6.

My trip home was relatively uneventful … Leaving LebecStop For BreakfastOminous Cloudsuntil I was about fifteen minutes away from my house. Flooding, downed trees/power lines and road closures from slides Accumulation of Rain (Wed-Mon)Flooded CulvertDowned Trees—Across Power LinesMore Downed Trees On My StreetUmbrella Damage Umbrella Damage Umbrella Damagebrought the highway to a standstill. I attempted to take alternate routes, but the country roads couldn’t handle the amount of rain and were completely flooded, so back to the highway to wait it out with everyone else. It took over an hour to drive a normally 15-minute drive. I came home to no power and a boil water notice. A tree came down and took out the water pipe for our little community. They had it fixed by the time I got home, but contaminants were in the system (my neighbor had told me to just stay where I was, but I really just wanted to come home, so I had steeled myself for the worst). It wasn’t too bad—that’s what blankets, coats and bottled water are for … and power was back on 24 hours after I got home (still on a Boil Water order … hope that ends soon because hand-washing dishes with boiled water is a nuisance). A glass-topped table with an opened umbrella toppled over. Only damage was to the umbrella (yay) and an aluminum ladder that mysteriously moved in the winds. There’s lots of very soggy ground so I’m treading lightly. I consider myself extremely lucky. No, let me amend that comment—I am blessed. There’s no luck involved.

Many people have standing water—or even literally running water—rushing through their homes. The roads are not just flooded, but in many cases the foundation of the road has given way and whole sections of road are gone. In the case of Big Sur, slides and flooding are the least of the problem—one bridge near Pfeiffer has been deemed unsafe and will need to come down and rebuilt. Our area is not the only area that has been inundated by the storms. Dams and roads in Oroville, San Jose and Yosemite (to name o few) have been compromised with flooding and erosion. Getting out from under all of this damage is going to take time  … and money—lots of it—and I’m not sure California has planned for a catastrophe of this magnitude.

I still have to clean up around my property plus empty out my refrigerator and freezer—”better to be safe than sorry” is the adage I’m holding on to—then make a trip to the dump to toss the spoiled food. We have a few days respite before the next round comes.

My biggest concern is that I live on a hill … I’m praying that my hillside stays put.

Dear readers, please enjoy your Friday and the coming week. If you’re a praying sort, please pray for California and all of the effected residents—for their safety, for dams to hold back their burgeoning water supply and for this rain to slow to a trickle for the remainder of the rainy season.

The drought is over for the majority of the state—a blessing. Have a serendipitous week, my friends.

 

 

 

What Did I Say …?

I’VE BEEN TALKING ABOUT GOING “electronics-lite” … yet, I spent well over an hour in Costco at the cell phone kiosk (after spending an accumulated day or two worth of inquiries with various cell phone carriers & phone makers). The end result …?

Um … I think I will go bonkers trying to sort things out. Since my iPhone 5S went for a swim, I quickly found my old 3S iPhone and used it as a back-up (had ATT switch the number to the 3S) so I could at least get phone calls and do some texting. But, the battery started to swell as I did a charge, so after an emergency visit to the Apple “ER”, the powers that be decided that they could not replace the battery (a safety hazard). Instead, they gave me a brand new 3S (I didn’t think they still had any of them floating around—haha …) for $75.00. That was what a new battery would have cost me.

After all my research, I decided I’d stick with an Apple phone, but shed my current carrier since the signal in my home has gotten worse with time. Grrr. So, I decided to go with Verizon, since it looks like they’ve got excellent coverage in the areas I frequent (so far, so good …). To save a little money, I chose to use Costco for my transactions.

I almost asked to use my 3S as a backup, but the SIM card is tiny compared to the ones the newer phones use—would not have been able to put the SIM card into another phone. Sigh. So, the other thing I decided—after living with the old style dummy phone (with QWERTY board) way too long—was I would jettison that phone (which was my backup line) and go with a freebee phone (the Samsung J320V) for my “backup” line (my house line became a cell phone number when I dropped the landline) … it doesn’t get used often and only for phone calls and an occasional text when I’m having issues with my Apple. Well, almost free—I do have to pay for the line, but that’s it.

(Serious eye roll here) So, I ended up with two new phones to customise to my needs instead of one  and learn how to use … ugh) … and each phone came with an external backup battery (more electronics). Sigh. Well, I guess I can keep one in my purse and one in the primary car. At least these were free—100% free. And, I’d actually thought about getting one at some point. Kinda cool I managed to get two (insert huge grin …)!

So much for going “lite” on electronics …

What I have found is, after a week of no smart phone, I am not as dependent on my smart phone (yay!) as much for being “connected”. Yes, I do go online in the morning before I get out of bed (check weather so I know how to dress, scan Facebook and mail), but I’m finding myself spending less time lurking and surfing. This is a good thing. I’m even spending less time watching the “boob tube”—another good thing—but I do DVR a few programs that I can “binge watch” when I feel like spending some “quiet time” on the couch.

My laptop/desktop are more for checking mail, working on my blog, editing my stories … and playing with my photos. I’m not as dependent, but I’ll never be able to shed electronics completely. I have to laugh … someone posted the neatest gadget since sliced bread: a sleek “old-fashioned” typewriter that is electronically connected (via Bluetooth) to your computer. I haven’t checked to see how pricey it is, but it would be cool. Yup, no way I’m going to shed electronics (oh, dear …) with all the new gadgets that come onto the market to tease me.

Oh. By the way …mI’m letting you know right now—if I don’t get my iPhone set up completely, I may not be doing a blog next week—but I will try. My friends, have a wonderful, blessed Friday and serendipitous week.

Technology, Part Two

WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN YOUR “LIFELINE” goes south? I kept hoping against all odds that my phone would survive its impromptu swim in the toilet, but as the week progressed, though it could be turned on and it was “working”, fewer and fewer of the apps responded to my touch properly and it would randomly shut down. I was unable to get into my calendar to make sure I’d “synced” everything to the huge wall calendar in the kitchen. It will be interesting to see if I miss any important appointments. I couldn’t get the cloud and the phone to communicate to backup anything—photos, most current addresses and phone numbers (sigh). About the only thing that worked reliably was my Scrabble game (go figure—but even that stopped opening for me). I was receiving texted, but couldn’t open them at times (talk about frustrating …) and thankfully, I’d already had all calls transferred to my other phone. Which, by the way, is not the best phone in the world. It either takes forever to get opened when a call comes in (thus, I miss it!) or the moment I touch the phone (in picking it up) I accidentally drop the incoming call. It’s been a comedy of errors—and all I can do is smile … and laugh (otherwise I’d go bonkers)!

So … I started being a bit more philosophical about all these electronic devices in my life. I’ve succesfully cut down drastically the amount of time I spend on the television—that felt good. Do I really need this iPhone? Yes, I am extremely dependent upon it … but do I need to be?  Once I started thinking about what it would require—the changes I’d need to make—I warmed to the idea of shedding the expensive smart phone for something a little less … technology-heavy. Less? You might ask how on earth will I survive. By using my Fitbit as a pedometer (until the rechargable battery dies, then revert to my less expensive, less all-functioning Fitbit that simply counts my steps and has no alarms or timers) and manually log the steps on paper—which I’m doing now (or maybe into the online page—maybe—that’s more technology … and my DSL is slower than molasses compared to the smart phone).

As I contemplated this concept, I became more and more comfortable with it. That is … until I realised I needed something for my credit card reader—for the business end of my life. Book and art sales. And I’ve grown to depend on the clarity of the photo app (and my cool little special apps for tweaking the photos—all business related) Oh, drats. Since I don’t have any book signings coming up anytime soon, I’ve not been fretting about it (too much) … and I do have other cameras I can fall back onto. So, I’m just weighing the options and was waiting on a response from my inquiry at the credit card reader’s web site to see if they have any suggestions (they weren’t that helpful, but gave me some things to research). But, that means I either need to go back to the iPhone (I’ve already started looking at refurbished phones—they’re about half the price of the current model, but still pricey) … or go to another platform within Apple—or look to other brands of phones. Oh, yes … I figure with all these changes, I’ll be changing carriers too (when you can’t receive calls in the house—where I spend an awful lot of my time—it’s time to change).

I certainly have been online a whole lot less … kinda nice, but discovering that I’m not as prompt in responding to business communications (oops). There must be a compromise that allows me to be freer of technology, yet allows me to be in touch where I need to be. I’ve not missed Facebook (though, again … I’ve got two business pages that need to be cared for)—when I come online, I’ve a huge number of notifications that need to be addressed … both personal and business. Sigh.

So, what have I decided after a week on being less visible? Technology has it’s place if I don’t let it run my life (personally or professionally). Once I get my new phone (and it will be a smart phone) I will probably be shedding quite a few apps—the ones that tether me to my phone way too much. I’m still trying to decide which one’s those are, but I know there will be quite a few I’ll be saying g’bye to: the ones I don’t use but once in a while … oh, I’ve got a ton of those! But there are still quite a few that I know I’ll be keeping—wonder if I’ll ever feel I can live without them.

So much for escaping the digital world.

Have you ever run into this kind of dilemma? What have you done—go with the flow or rebel against the technology? Please let me hear what you’ve got to say.

Until then, may your Friday and the week ahead be blessed beyond belief!

Technology

I’M CERTAINLY NOT A TECHNOPHOBE. I can find my way around a DSLR camera, cell phone, computer … and various other electronic devices fairly well. But, by no means can I be considered a technophile either. Technology is going to happen, whether I embrace it or not. Sometimes it’s helpful—as in the advances it affords medical and research … sometimes it merely makes us lazier (remote controlled devices are excellent examples), and sometimes it’s just plain ol’ frustrating—like it has a mind of its own …

Last Friday was an interesting day for me, electronically speaking. I awoke to a power outage … my iPhone’s alarm woke me out of a deep sleep. It was light enough that I really didn’t realise there was a problem—the digital time on my clock radio can’t be seen that well (I have it set on low) when it’s light out. I depend on my iPhone for the time. I actually didn’t realise it until I stepped into the kitchen where I automatically flipped the light switch and nothing happened. Yup … power outage.

At that moment, I was so glad Jim and I made gas one of our requirements when searching for a house. The house was cold so I automatically went down the hall to pop the thermostat up and realised no power … no heat. Drats. Confident I could make breakfast—even without electricity, I headed for the stove. I tried to get a flame going to make eggs … quickly remembering that it had an electronic starter and there was no electricity, so I immediately turned the gas off and went searching for my little handy-dandy long-handled, propane fire starter. Location unknown … hmmm. Oh, well … breakfast out—I needed my coffee or tea. Definitely.

Well … once I was dressed, the power came on so I had my breakfast at home and entered the meal on MyFitnessPal app. My multitude of electronics (microwave, coffee maker, stove, clock radios) were all flashing at me, telling me to reset the clocks. Ugh. Later. I’d been knocked off my routine, so I forgot to sync my Fitbit to my phone app … no big deal—I’d do it later.

I went on my errands, delivering things to friends and made a pit stop at Open Ground Studios. I figured I’d do a wee bit of gardening whilst there, but I dropped my iPhone in the toilet (insert eye roll here) … before I had a chance to flush (yuck). I quickly dried it off and rushed home to put it in rice … hoping to save it. It made an awful lot of weird noises in the first 12 hours.

Then, I started to realise how dependent I truly was to electronics. I could not get into my phone to forward my calls to my secondary phone (which I needed to find and charge first). As night fell, I realised I couldn’t use the handy flashlight to get me up the dark stairwell (yes, I could turn on the lights, but it was my habit to save electricity—sniggle) and that meant if there was another power outage, I’d need a flashlight. So, I went searching for one. Took me forever to find one … which had not been used in so long, it needed batteries. And the cascade of event continued.

I couldn’t play Scrabble (one of my iPhone apps)—part of my evening routine. Sure, I could probably find a game on my laptop, but I didn’t want to have to wrestle with a cat trying to sit between me and the screen. I couldn’t enter my food entries into my MyFitnessPal app so I had to use my laptop for that … nor could I get my Fitbit to communicate with my laptop. And then I realised I wouldn’t be able to use MapMyWalk app either … on those rare days I manage to find time to get to Point Lobos or down on the beach or wherever to walk. Drats. By the way … have I mentioned my DSL connection is like dial-up? Slug-slow compared to the smart phone (which is why default to the smart phone more and more).

I couldn’t check the weather on the iPhone. Again, had to use my laptop. The iPhone make getting all information (no matter which app) so much easier—and faster—than on the laptop. Switching back and forth to different pages is a breeze on the iPhone and so cumbersome (not to mention time consuming) on the laptop. Saturday, when a young deer browsed in my yard, I realised I didn’t have access to the quick-snapshot-photos … I’d have to use my clunky DSLR to take a picture. Over the last three months or so I’ve defaulted to my iPhone for photos because of my cataracts. I’m not getting sharp shots with my DSLR. With the iPhone, its quick, excellent images make it so easy. Yes, I could put the DSLR into automatic, but it takes more time to get the settings right (I’m not perfect). And, at that point I realised that I’d no longer have the “instant” uploading of photos available—and waterlogue (watercolour) app was no longer an option. I’d have to use Photoshop. Back to finding time to download onto my laptop’s external drive, then upload onto FB or wherever I wanted it to be. There were so many more realisations that popped into my head in the first 24 hours of no smart phone. It’s truly amazing how much I depend on it.

Next week, I’ll explain my thought processes on what I am trying to do whilst my dependable phone is no longer dependable …

How dependent are you on all of your electronic devices? Could you live without them?