Forever Grateful

AS I STRUGGLE THROUGH THIS CRAZY WEEK, I find myself thankful for being able to wake up each morning. To be present. Present for my critters, to see the wild creatures browsing in my yard or jumping from branch to branch. Present for my friends. Thankful that I am healthy enough (though, dealing with a sinus infection), for a wonderful daughter and son-in-law … all the basic stuff. We should be thankful for all this every single day. I think I do a pretty good (not perfect, but …) job of remembering to give thanks where thanks is due—and to whom it is due.

Over the last couple weeks (hmmm … maybe even longer), I’ve been frantically getting things ready for the multiple events that have just happened—and are still to happen over the next few weeks. I’ve had the constraints of keeping track of a dog 24/7 due to some health issues (Kaeli’s been with me at Open Ground Studios, in the house, doctor appointments, evening meetings, errands—weather permitting—etc). The vet has just given her a clean bill of health, but now I wonder if she’s doing well because she’s not “free-ranging” on anything she finds in the yard. TMI—anyway, I’ve decided I’m liking my new 24/7 companion, so I’m changing my lifestyle to fit her into things I do until I can get a large enclosure that deer cannot get into. I know she is liking the arrangement. She curls up at my feet in the house and prances out to the car, eager for the next adventure. I’m thankful for her love and companionship.

My cat has mixed feelings about this new “closeness”. Sebastian gets the house to himself. Good … and bad. He gets to roam every nook and cranny without me on his case about getting into places or things that should be left alone … but he’s a snuggle-bunny and my time away is time he cannot snuggle. Kaeli and I go for walks. He gets stuck inside. He’s all over me the moment I walk in the door—after he sniffs Kaeli to see where she’s been. I cannot sit down without him in my face. I love it, but just try to work on the computer or use my iPhone instead—ha! In my dreams. Well, I do manage in the end, but he shows his disdain … frequently. He purposely sits with his back to me, very erect. Then when he does curl up, he makes sure his back is to me. Sometimes he will, out of the blue, come over twitching his tail (I know to be alert for this) … then he bites my typing hand—or the hand holding the smart phone. No warning at all. If I get too busy with my writing, I’m completely unaware of my surroundings and am caught off-guard. Zap! But, even with his vacillating temperament, I love him dearly and am thankful for this purring ball of contradictions. All his kisses, cuddles, purrs … and for knowing,  when I have an ache or pain, where to curl up with his “furnace” on high to relieve it—whether my shoulder, arm, hand or neck … somehow he knows. Definitely a blessing.

I find myself polishing this piece on Friday (teehee—I am running later than usual—sorry, so I’m hoping you’ll forgive me) … the day after Thanksgiving Day.

It was a very different day for me. Though I had several invites to feast with friends and extended family, I chose to be more reclusive. My 24/7 companion, my lack of appetite (I see that as a blessing during these crazy holidays) and easily fatigued body due to the sinus infection—not to mention the disruptive cough—made it easy to justify keeping to myself. It was a delightful, laid-back, stress-free day with my fur-babies, which included a sensory-rich walk on the beach with Kaeli. Feeling sorry for Sebastian, stuck at home, I envisioned what he’d be doing: making all sorts of noises at the sight of the sand pipers, snowy plovers and seagulls—scheming how he could capture them whilst on-leash; investigating the monster piles of washed-ashore kelp and seaweed … and curious about the foamy stuff that kept rolling in just ahead of the wet stuff that made noises each time it receded. That made me smile. If only I could bring him. But, there were too many dogs. Most on-leash, but a few were leash-free and that would put Sebastian’s safety at risk.

So, now I’m recovering from my version of a busy—yet laid-back—Thanksgiving Day. It will not involve anything with the word “Black”. Nope. The only shopping I’ll be doing is restocking a few items needed for daily survival: yogurt, milk—and spending time with a friend (after she spends some quality? time shopping—foolish girl!) to dine at a favourite restaurant and then a play. With Kaeli in tow. I’m glad she’s good at waiting in the car. And that the weather is conducive to allowing her to stay in a car unattended. And just so you know, she will get a walk before and after each part of my evening activities.

I am so thankful for a blessed life, with all of its ups and downs. Hope yours is just as blessed.


Two final events for the year:

Friday 4 December 5:30-7:30pm  Open Ground Studios showcases its Co-Op Artists creative work, along with special guest Monterey Peninsula instructor and students. I will have my books available for signing and purchase.
1230 Fremont Boulevard, Seaside CA

Monday-Tuesday 7-8 December 9am-4pm daily Watsonville Community Hospital is hosting a Christmas Craft Fair, to include a book signing with Mystery author, Joyce Oroz and Fantasy author, dj jameson smith in their conference room.
65 Neilson Street, Watsonville, CA

It’s A No Blog Blog …

I’M GOING TO BE UPFRONT WITH YOU. My writerly brain has turned to mush. And because of that there is no blog for today … or will there be?

I’ve tried taking a number of draft blogs and expounding upon them but I am so entrenched in getting ready for the Open Ground Studios Co-op Member show that I cannot concentrate. I’m still scrambling due to some very strange circumstances on Thursday. It exhausts me to even think about the craziness that became Thursday.

So, instead I will simply be thankful. Thankful that Thursday has come and gone; that it is Friday and I will be setting up the table this afternoon for the Aromas Hills Artisans’ Holiday Art Festival that is happening this weekend. Thankful that the pressure will be off (mostly). Thankful that there are only a few more pieces of art to prepare for this weekend—and for the Open Ground Studios show, which opens on the 25th … and goodies to gather up for the OGS Artists’ Reception and Holiday Party happening on Friday, 4 December.

And … I’ll leave it at that. Short blog. Perhaps next week my brain and thoughts will gel better. Until then, have a blessed weekend!

AHA Holiday Art Festival

Come one, come all to this delightful event! (click on picture for more detail)

Holiday Art Festival: November 21-22 10:00-4:00 at the Aromas Grange
Art of all kinds, beautifully crafted items, books by
dj jameson smith (fantasy) and Joyce Oroz (mystery). Both authors will be available to sign their books.

Co-op Artist Showcase Exhibition: November 25, 2015 – January 21, 2016

With Special Guests:
Monterey Peninsula College Drawing Students
Presented by Instructor Bob Lamp

Artist Reception & Holiday Party: December 4, 5:30-7:30pm
Free and open to the public
Open Ground Studios Gallery
1230 Fremont Blvd. Seaside, CA 93955

The evening festivities include a raffle with beautiful holiday prizes, hot cider, refreshments and community cheer!

For More Information:
Denese Sanders, OGS Artistic Director
Tel: 831-241-6919 | Cell: 861-236-8636


Progress Notes

AAH. PITY-PARTIES JUST aren’t as fun as they’re made out to be. As I said a couple of weeks ago—oh … wow. Sorry. It’s more like a month, now—when I was feeling all funky and out of sorts due to a “death anniversary”, I needed to find a better way. I had little pity parties here and there until my “Aha-moment”. I’ve been scratching my head, trying to figure out a way to overcome the doldrums than invade my heart, soul and mind during that time. I ran across something I’d stashed away long ago, set aside for “another time”–I’ve got lots of these little gems, just waiting for the right moment to be pulled out–and this seems to be as good a time as any for this one.

“Divine Dissatisfaction”. Sounds kinda heavy, doesn’t it?  Well, it’s from a quote made by Martha Graham, a dancer and choreographer: “… There is no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer, divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others.” Though she is referring to dancers and the art that surrounds it, this can be lifted from that context and put into any area in ones life. Hmm. That unrest, caused by things gone wrong, things (life) disturbed … uprooted … out of balance. It can be managed and manipulated, but the dissatisfaction remains.

Divine? Dunno. Does this “dissatisfaction”—sadness that overpowers me without warning—have a “good” (divine) side to it? I’m still not sure, but it does make me far more aware of my surroundings during the “funk”—but even more so when it has lifted. My “highs” seem higher, taking-in and reveling in life … to its fullest. I’m more contemplative … and my writing (and other artistic endeavors) seem to be richer for those low points in my life. Maybe there is something to what Martha Graham said.

My solution for now? I’ll be doing lots of exploring, reaping the benefits of my lows in the form of increased inspiration, productivity and more energy now that I’ve returned to “normal”. Perhaps next year won’t be as bad.

As I work on finalizing my artistic endeavors for several events … and gear up for a number of book signings over the next few weekends, I realize that Thanksgiving Day is just around the corner (well, maybe a few corners … <giggle> ). My Painterly hat has taken the front seat. I have yet to put a dent into my NaNoWriMo project (managed 500+ words on Thursday) and since family will be away, I have zero plans for Thanksgiving Day (planned on spending it writing … and being thankful for all that I have, including a head full of words—insert huge smiley face). Now that this blog is pretty much done, I need to see if I can pull a few more words out of my brain in the next few hours for my NaNo project … before I head off to read in front of people (not my strong suit)—aaack! Tuesday and Thursday need to be my writing days again … soon I hope!

Oh! My friends, just in case I forget to mention it in the next few very busy weeks, I want to wish you a fruitful life, filled with a cornucopia of things to be thankful for: family, friends, a roof over your head, food in your belly … Happy (early) Thanksgiving Day to you all.


November 1-30 24/7 (starts and ends at midnight)
National Novel Writing Month
Write with abandon all month, aim for 50,000 words by midnight on the 30th
Sign-up online:

November 14 Saturday 9am-1pm
Craft Show w/Book Signing
dj jameson smith w/fellow author (mysteries), Joyce Oroz
735 Ramona Avenue, Monterey CA

November 21-22 Saturday/Sunday 9am-4pm
Aromas Hills Artisans Holiday Art (and craft) Fair w/Book Signing
dj jameson smith w/fellow author (mysteries), Joyce Oroz
Aromas Grange, Aromas CA

December 4 Friday 5:30-8:30pm
Co-Op Members Art Exhibition Opening and Christmas Party
Open Ground Studios, 1230 Fremont Blvd., Seaside CA


I LOVE LIFE. JOY IS A LARGE PART of me — my natural state. Joy seeps into almost everything I do, think, create. I am the proverbial optimist, with my view on life being half full, rather than half empty. In life, I countered my husband’s “half-empty” attitude. We balanced each other in so many ways: my sometimes impulsive, energetic, adventuresome curiosity to his restrained, analytical reserve. We were quite a pair. To this day, I wonder how we managed to stay together “until death do us part” … but we did.

So, without him as a “governor” to reign in some of that enthusiastic energy, I seem to have higher highs … and lows that I don’t recall being there before. Maybe it’s simply my faulty memory playing tricks.

In any case, I love my half-full attitude. And this week I find my cup of joy overflowing. I’ve got pressures to meet some deadlines, NaNoWriMo is afoot and I haven’t even started … yet, I’m filled with joy.

On November 1st, I decided to begin posting my gratitudes—things I’m thankful about and for. That—and playing with my photography, using canvas to lay the image onto—seems to have pushed my joy button even more (insert giggly smiley face here). I was downright euphoric on Monday when I produced my first image. Some of my images will make their way into the Open Ground Studios show at the end of the month (through mid-January, 2016) … some will be at the book signing/art event that Aromas Hills Artisans puts on annually in November (21-22 of November this year) … and another unrelated event this weekend (Yikes! Where did the time go??). I’m tickled to be involved with both organizations … and finally have something new to show at all events (aside from my books).

So, this post… and the next several weeks (or more)—since Thanksgiving comes near the end of the month—will be about being grateful … and joy filled. We all find ourselves fretting about so much. How often do  you take a moment to think about all that you are thankful for? For me … well, I know I should be spending far more time being thankful. Here’s part of the list I started at the beginning of the month:

I am thankful for …
•met deadlines, with more to come (yes, thankful for even more pressure)
•food in the cupboards and fridge
•my dog snuggled at my feet
•the cat curled up, purring in my lap
•rain rain rain. Thank God for rain in parched California!!
•the sound of rain on my roof, running down the downspouts
•warm dry clothes on a wet day
•muted light from an overcast sky–easy on my aging eyes
•a friend’s relief from pain … and finally after so long, a diagnosis so they can move forward to manage her pain
•hot tea to sip on chilly mornings
•automatic thermostats that knows when to take the chill off the morning air
•that first long rain of the season, when everything around me is painted in deeper, richer colours
•being able to share my abundance with others
•visitations from my local deer. They are so beautiful

May your day … and the coming week be blessed with a multitude of reasons to be thankful and joy filled.

UPCOMING EVENTS (hopefully I’ll see some of you that live locally):
November 1-30 24/7
(starts and ends at midnight)
National Novel Writing Month
Write with abandon all month, aim for 50,000 words by midnight on the 30th
You can still sign-up online:

November 14   Saturday  9am-1pm
Craft Show w/Book Signing (and some of dj’s art)
dj jameson smith w/fellow author (mysteries), Joyce Oroz
735 Ramona Avenue, Monterey CA

November 21-22   Saturday/Sunday 9am-4pm
Aromas Hills Artisans Holiday Art (and craft) Fair w/Book Signing & art
dj jameson smith w/fellow author (mysteries), Joyce Oroz
Aromas Grange, Aromas CA

December 4   Friday 5:30-8:30pm
Co-Op Members Art Exhibition Opening and Christmas Party
Open Ground Studios, 1230 Fremont Blvd., Seaside CA
dj jameson smith will have her art on display for sale in various forms (framed, matted & unmatted pieces along with note and post cards), plus her books will be available for purchase
(the exhibition will be available for viewing from Nov 25, 2015 – Jan 20, 2016)