Art and Socializing …

AAAH. WE ALL ENJOY A WEE BIT OF socializing, right? Well, most of us. I do know quite a few introverted people (including my daughter), but even they like to socialize … just on a smaller scale. Much smaller … and, many of us even enjoy including food and drink (doesn’t need to be an alcoholic beverage).

Now. Add to that mix a little art appreciation. Perhaps not as many think they would enjoy it, but you’d be surprised at how much fun it can be. Honest. Especially when you get to play with paint. Get dirty (oh … maybe there are some neat-nicks out there, but honestly … even they would have fun), tinker with colour and create something. Even if you’re not thrilled with the end product, I’m sure you’ll have fun at some point during the evening and glad you found the time to let your inner muse free.

I’ve enjoyed two such events at Open Ground Studios in the recent past: “Merlo and Miro” in October 2015 and “Red (wine) and Rothko” in January 2016. OGS director, Denese Sanders, has seen how popular the Art Socials are and has put her own little twist to it. Where most Paint Socials advertised have participants merely copying one art piece of the presented artist, Denese has taken it a step beyond that—you choose your creation (sounds intimidating at first, but honest … it isn’t). Open Ground Studios is all about finding the creative muse in all of us. Even the most analytical types (they think they’re not terribly artistic) find their muse and are quite pleased at their serendipitous discovery. I for one am glad to see this becoming a staple on the OGS calendar!

After the social opening (chatting amongst ourselves with food and drink to get comfy), Denese presents the artist’s style and history, shows us the progression of works in a slide show, then lets us loose to create. She and a helper are there to answer questions, give helpful hints on how to proceed and, in general, to encourage us in our endeavors.

I’ve seen artist and non-artist working together, shoulder to shoulder, coming up with some amazing pieces of art. Sometimes absolutely spot-on to what the highlighted artist creates, sometimes not (raising my hand, grinning … I dance to a different drummer)—but that is not the point of this.

The point is—let go and create. Whatever that is, let it happen. And embrace the experience. Enjoy it.

So, if you are local to 831 area code … you should really check this out. Open Ground Studios is doing this monthly now, barring any complications. O'Keefe and AperitifThe next one will be “O’Keefe and Aperitif” on Friday, February 19th from 6:30-9:30pm. I think the next one will involve whisky … maybe, but I cannot recall the artist’s name (insert mischievous grin).

If you don’t live locally, then check your area for similar events and have fun. It’s good fun for the soul.

Take time to be creative and have a blessed week!

Time Stops For No One …

WATCHING MY DOG AS SHE ages can be hard sometimes. In people-years, she’s surpassed 86. The vet says Kaeli is relatively healthy for her age (other than elevated liver enzymes that are slowly returning to more “normal” every time she is tested). Arthritis has her panting—or is it the abnormal tests? Either way, it distresses me. I hate to see her in pain.

I sure wish she could speak to help us out in trying to help

Waiting ...

Chilling whilst mom works on her blog.

her through this time in her life … I do wonder at times if she is truly enjoying life. Am I being selfish, prolonging things? I’d rather not think about that at this time … denial, maybe?

Kaeli’s definitely not the tail-wagging sweetie I knew a few years ago. Only occasionally do I see the tail-wag I long to see and even less frequent is the trot with a spring in her step. Both

Kaeli chillin'

“… I didn’t say I was comfortable.”
Kaeli resting, 2015

happen, but not as often as I’d like to see. Her walk has slowed to a stiff gait, more often than not dragging one rear foot as she pads along. Her head hangs low, as if too heave to hold erect; tail tucked in painful submission. I hate that I live in a two-story house and she feels obliged to follow me up, tripping on steps as she plods after me whenever I need something upstairs or am heading to bed. Then, there’s the awkward “oh … I need to come back down, don’t I?” look as she stands at the head of the steps, staring down at me. Usually, I let her come at her own pace. Sometimes immediate, but more than likely it’s after a bit of courage-mustering … she’ll then treads carefully down the steps. I love multi-level homes, but this is a huge disadvantage—as much for me as her.

I think Kaeli’d rather be at my side than wander around in the yard freely all day—or perhaps, she’s simply resigned to the fact. I am working (slowly) on creating a smaller compound within my 3/4 acre yard that deer cannot get into (hopefully, as she noms on their droppings and this may be the reason for the abnormal labs) … and in an area clear of

Chillin' With Mom

Kaeli chillin’ with me at Open Ground Studios
(Sorry it’s sideways—can’t seem to remedy)

poison oak for her to roam freely. The later is so I will feel more loving—hard to get all snuggily when I know I’m apt to end up with poison oak. Hopefully she will want to wander—she really needs to build up her muscle mass. All the “shadowing”—snoozing whilst being at my side … or sleeping in the car whilst I run errands has given her very little exercise and I feel guilty for thrusting that upon her. Getting back into the yard will be good for her. She just needs to stay on level area so she doesn’t tumble down the hill.

She’s not the only one aging—but she’s certainly doing it far more gracefully than I.

Me an' My Mom

Kaeli and I at the beach, 2015

Groan. She and I have a disability in common—arthritis. She never complains—oh, you can see how it’s effecting her gait and demeanor, but not verbally. She’s quiet as a mouse. I try not to complain. I’ve gotten pretty good, but occasionally fall into my old habits and find myself grumbling now and again … and hosting a pity party once in a while. I try to remember that I have it so much better than many others. That usually humbles me right there … and pulls me back to reality—thinking about quite a few of my friends and their struggles. Their trials and tribulations are far greater than mine. I find myself realizing how blessed I am. And blessed to have an awesome group of friends and family to lean on—they keep me accountable … and shake me loose from my pity parties. A good thing for someone living alone, don’t you think?

With all the daily reminders that time time waits for no one,

Ready to Roll ...

In my Miata, waiting for me to stop taking photos.

sometimes I worry a little about being away from my furbabies for so long when I go on holiday. If only I could bring Kaeli with me (Sebastian would be fine … so independent, but he’s certainly glad to see me upon my return)—a selfish thought, really—that would be even worse for her.

I will simply continue to count my blessings. My days with my sweet little Kaeli are numbered and I chose

Sebastain and Kaeli

… we’re friends—really.

to cherish them all. I will hurry back from each trip away, ready to snuggle with her and celebrate my return with her—and Sebastian.

They are both great companions.

Have I mentioned, I am blessed? Indeed!


Wishful Thinking?

WELL … THERE WENT THAT DREAM. It was fun whilst it lasted, though. And bits of it are still floating around in my head (insert huge grin here).

I’m talking about the humongous PowerBall drama of this last week. The pot kept getting bigger and bigger—to the point that is was almost ridiculous. No, beyond ridiculous. And the chances of winning (always tipped to the “in-your-dreams” side) were down to “not-a-chance-in …”

Well, you know what I mean.

Yet, knowing all of this, I decided to give it a go. After all, if you don’t enter in, you cannot possibly win, right? And … (here’s where everyone will probably roll their eyes) since luck has nothing to do with it, why not? My attitude is, if I’m meant to win, then I will. If not, then at least a portion of the funds go to the public school system here in California … though, I’d love to know where within the system it disappears to, since it seems our schools are in shambles.

I’ve thrown a couple dollars at the lottery over the years. I think five dollars at one time was the max—and that was “big-time” for me. I’m not really a gambler. I take life as it comes, make do with what I have and enjoy life. Pretty simple, really.

But this time, I was drawn in by several friends at Open Ground Studios—just for fun. Three of us threw in two dollars each. That’s three quick pick numbers on one ticket. Then we sat around the table and talked about how we’d spend it. Improving/upgrading OGS—maybe moving the business to a better location … and taking a trip to the UK. With friends. And paying their way. Maybe “buying out” a plane so we could have the plane to ourselves. Oh—and, of course, stay in a castle whilst there. Dreaming big doesn’t cost anything, so why not?

It was somehow decided I’d buy a house in Carmel with a beach view so I wouldn’t have to travel so far to get to Open Ground Studios. I have to laugh at that. It only takes me twenty minutes to get there from my existing home. With the traffic in and around Carmel, there could easily be delays, making it more like a thirty-plus minute drive. Yes, it would be nice to have the ocean to see and hear as I wake up every day. But that’s not so high on my priority list.

When I got home that night, after all our wishful dreaming, I found myself thinking about it more. I decided to increase my odds (who was I fooling??) by purchasing a few more

PowerBall Quick Picks

Some of my numbers …

quick picks at three different stores in the area. Then I settled in to think. Would I really want the notoriety that comes with all the money? The instant fame? I wondered if I could hire an attorney to pick up the winnings to keep me anonymous … just think—how many Debra Smiths are there in the world? Money-moochers and scammers would have a hard time finding me. This is the one time a name like that might come in handy. What about the hassles of trying to figure out what to do with all of it? Sounds ludicrous, doesn’t it? Of course I could easily find ways to spend every single penny. But, that’s not the point. To spend it wisely: that’s the trick, isn’t it? That’s how I was brought up. Money is a gift to be used wisely (yes, I do have my “fun stuff” I buy, as do most people … but I don’t go overboard—most of the time). Sometimes I can be downright frugal.

So, I went to bed pondering how I’d handle all that wealth. I found myself making a list. It was an interesting list: a mix of well-intentioned and practical ideas blended to those of a more fanciful bend. Having already been the recipient of a decent sum at my husband’s death, I was well aware of how easy it is to quickly fritter away the bulk of it without even a blink of an eye. No, I didn’t fritter it away. I sat on it for quite a while (almost too long, since that was the 2007-8 crash era). After all, I would need to live on it for a long time. Well, I held onto all except for the funds needed to fulfill my husband’s suggestion of my daughter and I going through with the family’s plan to make our first trip to Europe, without him. At first it was sad, but I am glad we did. It was an amazing, two-month adventure. Worth every experience (good and bad) and worth every single penny spent.

But, back to the dreams … I wonder what others would wish for if they’d managed to win? For me, in my mind (and on my list) I balanced giving to my church (and a few other special places) with needed repairs and desirable upgrades

Dream Wish List

I can dream, can’t I?

for my existing home (it’s centrally located and I have awesome neighbors I’d hate losing if I moved … even if it is on the north side of a hill) and a bit of frivolity: dreams of purchasing a home in the UK so I’d have a place to stay when I traveled there … and, of course, more travel—much more travel.

And, yes … it was only a dream. I did not win. The winner

The winning numbers for 13 Jan 2016 ... not me

The winning numbers for 13 Jan 2016 … not me

was somewhere in San Diego, I believe. But it was fun to dream  …

So, tell me—how would you have spent the money had you won? Be honest. Dream big. Tell me, please. I’m all ears.


Anticipation …

TODAY, I AM FEELING LIKE A CHILD, WAITING … that delightful feeling of anticipation whilst waiting for Christmas or Easter, birthdays … or even summer vacations of long ago. Counting the days down to The Day. Well, yes … I think I will always be childlike anytime anticipation is involved. I love the thrill, the excitement … the surprise—of what will happen. What will happen?

I am gearing up for the annual (my second) Gallifrey One convention at the LA Airport Marriott. I have my con ribbons … and just submitted my pre-order for a photo-op with Colin Baker—the fourth Doctor in the series (… “my” introduction to the Doctor), a meet-and-greet of Classic Dr. Who people (including “my” Doctor) and a photo-op with Ingrid Oliver (she plays Osgood in the newer series). I’m organizing my attire—I’ll be making an attempt to cosplay Sarah Jane Smith (companion to Baker), who happened to be a reporter (so we have something … sort of … in common)—she was such a petite, young thing compared to this frumpy, “mature” author … but I will have my small remote controlled K-9 with me for good measure) and Osgood—this one should be fairly easy … hair pulled back into a ponytail, black glasses, red bow tie, 4th Doctor’s lovely scarf and perhaps a lab coat.

Last year, the whole experience was fun—newbie attendee with deer-in-headlights look all weekend, but this year … getting to meet with my favourite Doctor (possibly even Peter Davidson—5th Doctor) and Osgood, in addition to handing out my very own con ribbons—I’m expecting it to be absolutely outstanding. Last time I met any actors, I was a kid … a Nervous Nellie and certainly didn’t know what to say other than to shove a piece of paper in their faces for autographs, followed by a thank you. Here’s hoping I’m a wee bit more sophisticated and can carry on an intelligent conversation.

Even the trip south should be interesting … February. An enigma unto itself, really. No clue what kind of weather to expect—could be snowing on the way down when I get into the mountains around Lebec … or rain in Lebec and in LA with chances of land slides. Or, it could be drop-dead gorgeous … and hot in LA. One never knows—our weather has been so bizarre of late. So, yes. The El Niño has begun (in theory), but how long it will last is questionable. There’s no planning ahead. I’ll need to have multiple wardrobes at the ready to choose from for packing. Plus an umbrella. Very British, really. Teehee. Maybe next year (if I’m lucky enough to get my tickets—there’s a two minute window … honestly!) just maybe I’ll take the train into LA and hire a car for the trip to my hotel. We’ll see.

Friends are coming along, so that will make it even more fun. We will be sharing a room (or two—can’t remember) and everyone has their favourites activities and characters they want to have their photo-op with, plus there are panels to attend. Don’t know which panels I’ll sign up for because I enjoy keeping it a pretty flexible schedule. I’ll only have a couple specific times—most of the night on Friday to meet Colin Baker and the Classic crew, then the two photo-ops on Saturday and Sunday. That way I can meander through the lobby, the vendor rooms and … well, just general roaming around, passing out con ribbons and my wristbands (gotta sneak a little promotion in whilst there—teehee).

Our hotel room is about three (long) blocks away—15-20 minutes of walking several times a day … depending on where we go for meals—so we’ll get our exercise in at least twice daily, rain or shine. It’s too close to justify grabbing a taxi or hassling with finding parking for my own car (& paying for either) at the Marriott—and I have no problem with walking. Walking is fun—rain or shine. There’s lots to see when walking. And the nights … beautiful lighting. I’m not oblivious to the dangers of walking at night in the big city. I try to be smart: keep a watchful eye (very aware of my surroundings … listening and looking around as I walk—even when I’m focused on taking a photo), walk in groups whenever possible … and carry a heavy purse or umbrella.

I’m looking forward to this adventure and will keep you posted on how it turns out (with photos!) …

A Simple Happy New Year

I WAS GOING TO SLIP A BLOG POST FROM the past in here, but decided against it. I did have fun looking over old posts around the last day of previous years. Very interesting. Hmmm. They have been gleaned and stored in a document—for future tinkering, I think!

So, I’ve decided this will be a simplistic blog this year. On this first day of a new year … 2016 …

I wish all of you a very Happy New Year … Felice Anno Nuovo … Gelukkig Nieuwjaar … 新年快乐 … Šťastný Nový Rok … Frohes neues Jahr … Ευτυχισμένο το Νέο Έτος … Bon Ane … नया साल मुबारक हो … Athbhliain faoi mhaise daoibh … and Blwyddyn Newydd Dda

May it be a blessed New Year for each and everyone of my friends, near and far!

Next week, I return with a new, fresh blog post. But right now, I’ll get back to my tradition of watching the Annual Rose Bowl Parade from the luxury of my home … snuggled up on the couch with a steaming mug and hot cereal. After that, the “spring cleaning” fever has hit, so I’ll be tidying up and editing for the remainder of the week.

H a p p y   N e w   Y e a r   t o   y o u   a l l !