Bucket List—Part Three

ALRIGHTY … THIS IS THE THIRD and final peek into my life. Oh, I’m sure I’ll have more to say—later. Three connected blogs in a row is more than enough … don’t you think (sniggle)? So, here we go again, taking up where we left off:

(X) Had a pet
A pet? A single pet? You must be kidding. Seriously. Growing up, our home was littered with pets over the years. Pigeons, ducks, geese, chickens (yes, they were pets!), partridges, a pony, dogs, turtles, gerbils and rats … oh, yes … and goldfish, then more exotic fish like angelfish neon tetra and mollies (more keep coming to mind). Then, when I grew up … dogs have always in my life. Always. And then there were chickens again … and again—and I’ll get them again when I stop traveling—and a cat … and a rabbit.
( ) Been skinny-dipping
Nope … never. I wouldn’t wish that on my enemy … (sniggle)
(X) Been fishing
(X) Been boating
(X) Been downhill skiing
… and survived (my guardian angel was working overtime, even back then). I really got into skiing when our family moved to the Midwest—as a teen. I still have my monster wide Head skis languishing out in the garage somewhere.
(X) Been water skiing
Um … does it count if you never get up on two legs—always and forever using your bum as a third ski? Another thing my dad thought we’d love to try out. My brothers did just fine. I guess, even with my constant wrestling with them, that didn’t give me the arm and leg strength and agility required to stand up on skinny boards whilst moving across choppy water and arms being yanked out of their sockets …
(X) Been camping in a trailer/RV
(X) Been camping in a tent
(X) Driven a motorcycle
Hmm. Not a big honkin’ motorcycle, but a Honda 90. A trail bike really. Still counts, right? Had lots of fun when we had it with us on camping trips. There are a few memorable times … sigh. Never good memories, really. Once, when I was just learning how to ride it, I stopped on the side of a berm. Dumb, right? Well, I was able to stay upright, just barely. But the bike came to rest on my leg. My bare leg. And left a bad blistered burn. I learned my lesson—I thought. The next memory was me sliding on ice plant that someone had thrown into the road. I laid it down without any injury (yay), but remember it to this day. It plays like a slow-motion event in my mind. Then, finally, there’s the time we were motocrossing in the vacant lot between us and our neighbor’s yard. My little brother had a habit of digging holes—big, deep holes—and I was very careful to avoid them … until I came upon one that wasn’t so visible. The front wheel went deep into the pit and since I wasn’t going that fast, I fell off to the other side of the bike to avoid the hot spot—didn’t want to get another nasty burn! But my bare leg found yet another bit of hot engine. Dang it. Another lovely blister to nurse during the summer.
( ) Been bungee-jumping (never in a million-zillion years!)
(X) Gone to a drive-in movie
Lovely experiences. My poor parents. Rowdy kids in a station wagon. We were all over the place, but once the movie started, we settled down and loved it.
(X) Done something that could have killed you
Hmm. I’m a daredevil … well, I was as a kid. Invincible. I was a mountain goat and climbed in places that I shouldn’t, fell from playhouse roofs, jumped off a diving board to the side of the pool … and missed—landed in the deep end of the pool (couldn’t swim at the time); jumped off of the hood of a moving car …
(X) Done something that you will regret for the rest of your life
Um … see last item above. That jump. I was a senior in high school, I think. Pure stupidity, really. The car was moving faster than a person can walk forward … and I was sitting on the hood of the car, facing the windshield. My parents were not home. My younger brother and his friend were going to a fair and I wanted to come along. They said no, so I sat on the hood. My brother’s friend was driving. He started to drive away with me on the hood. My brother told him to stop and when I figured he was going slow enough, I jumped off. Like I said, stupid. I landed on my feet wrong, continued to move backwards, fell on my bum, then slammed my head on the road. Temporarily paralyzed. The scariest moment in my life. When I could finally move, they took me to the ER and I was pronounced okay, but it was the probably the beginning of a long road of deteriorating discs that turned into severe arthritis in my cervical spine (in my 30’s my then new-to the profession doctor nearly freaked out when he saw my x-rays … said I had the spine of an 80 year old). All because of this one stupid act … and most likely the major reason I went under the knife last week. Sigh.
(X) Rode an elephant
( ) Rode a camel (well, my daughter did … I don’t think I did)
(X) Eaten just cookies or cake or ice cream for dinner
( ) Been on TV (for a milli second!)
( ) Stolen any traffic signs
(X) Been in a car accident
(X) Been in the Hospital in past 24 months
Well, that was blank until last week. Oh, well.
(X) Donated blood
( ) Gotten a (speeding) or any other type of ticket in the past 12 months
(X) Gotten a piercing (One earring hole in each ear. That’s all. But had to re-do them because I heal so well LOL.)
( ) Gotten a Tattoo
(X) Driven a manual transmission vehicle
Is this really a “bucket list” item??? I grew up with a stick shift. I actually recommend it to any new driver. You never know if you’ll get “stuck” with driving one some day—and it’s fun!
( ) Ever owned your dream car
(X) Been Married
( ) Been divorced
(X) Fell in love
(X) Fell out of love
(X) Paid for a strangers meal
(X) Driven over 100mph
Teehee. Well, thank goodness for the Autobahn. When I was in Germany, with two passengers, I just had to give it a go. Got up to 120mph, then slowed down. Just had to do it. The only time I’ve gotten near that speed in the States was at the Thunderhill Raceway with my Miata. I was 55 years old and wanted to see if I could still enjoy precision driving. So, I went to a Miata school where we were on the race track for the entire weekend. The straightaways were not long enough (nor my gear box set up well enough) for me to comfortably get over about 94mph. By the time the weekend was over, I was exhausted and knew that track racing was definitely not my thing, but that I could easily get back into autocrossing which I had done with my husband for so many years. I did get back into it for a short while. It was so much fun.
( ) Been scuba diving
( ) Been snorkeling
(X) Written a published book/story/poetry
Ah, well … yes. I’m still working on this. Three books down, with more coming. This surgery sure has thrown a wrench into things, but I’m weaning myself off the Percocet, so the brain fog is lifting slowly, thankfully! And my next venture (after I complete this series)? I want to dig out all of the audio tapes I have from all of my storytelling in schools to create an anthology or two of these stories. That will be fun!
(X) Eaten snails – Um, yes. Cooked, of course. Escargot. A couple of times, actually—each time differently prepared, to be sure I had an accurate assessment. A couple of friends, Kitty and Chuck, used to harvest them from their garden and put them through the purging process before preparing them … so my hubby and I gave them a try at one of their dinners—our first attempt. The next time, we thought we’d try some at a restaurant for comparison. I love garlic but have decided that I don’t need garlic-flavoured bits of chewy stuff in my diet. There are much better ways to use garlic (like on calamari … mmmm).

So, that my friends is the end of that little experiment. Now you have a little insight into my inner workings. Of what helped form the person I’ve become. But, it’s a mere drop in the bucket at what makes me tick … which is fine.

If you want to get to know me better, read my stories, follow my blog (if you’re new, read the archived blogs), follow my Facebook Page, check out my Amazon Author Page … and if local enough, come to the events I hold and/or attend. I’d love to get to know you, too!

Speaking of things happening, despite my recent surgery, I will be at the Open Ground Studio’s event—a celebration of three years running—happening Friday, 27 May from 5:30-8:00pm. 1230 Fremont Boulevard, Seaside CA. Exceptional art and their artist creators, food and drinks … with plenty of socialising. I will have my books available upon request.

Bucket List—Part Two

SO, HERE WE GO … AGAIN. THIS IS part two of the bucket list questionnaire. Thursday, very early in the morning, is surgery day for me and I know I’ll probably not be very coherent afterwards so I’m setting it to automatically post for me (I hope) in case I’m too goofy to do so. I know these are long … it’s been very hard to figure out where to break these, but I hope that it’s entertaining enough to keep you reading. Onward then …

(X) Visited Europe
Um … yes. I’ve done previous blogs—many of them—on my trips to Europe, so I won’t go into it here. Other than to say, it has become a magnet for me. My second home. I love it. And want to keep visiting for as long as I am able, physically and financially.
( ) Visited South America
(X) Visited Las Vegas
I’ve been there a couple times. It would never be on my “bucket list”—if I had one. The first time, we were just passing through—my husband and very young daughter—on an RV camping vacation to the Badlands. The thing I remember most was the noise of the cicada. Oh my. The second time it was the actual destination … to celebrate my nephew and new niece’s wedding. It was fun. Joyful. When we weren’t celebrating, I went out into the desert to wander in the beautiful red hills to take photos. I wasn’t thrilled with the night-life and noise of the town or gambling … or the smoke-filled casinos (though, the structures themselves were amazing), but the stark beauty of the desert was breathtaking. I even found time to see (and walk across) the Hoover Dam and walk around the park area surrounding it. For someone that hated history in school, I found the history of the place fascinating.
( ) Visited Central America
( ) Visited Asia
( ) Visited Africa
( ) Visited Florida
(X) Visited Mexico
Well … does Tijuana count? Our family went down one time … it’s kinda a blur. Mom brought home a few momentos, but beyond that, nothing special happened for me to remember.
(X) Seen the Grand Canyon in person
Again, this was one of our family trips when I was a kid. My mom and dad loved to show us our beautiful country, camping our way through the countryside, so this was only one of the many places in the western states that I visited. The Grand Canyon was breathtaking … even for a youngster. Ginormous. I was fascinated by the colour pallet created in those canyon walls. Maybe I need to go back and take it in as an adult—with my camera, of course.
(X) Flown in a helicopter
Sigh. This one deserves a story unto itself, but I’m not sure you’d be interested. We’ll just say it had it’s ups and downs.
(X) Served on a jury
I’m proud to say, quite a few times. Something each and everyone of us should do. But now, I can no longer sit through the long days and my memory fails me too often.
(X) Been lost
Absolutey! I’ve always been good at directions—finding my way. When I was younger, if I’d traveled a road once, I could do it again without a hitch, no matter how much time had elapsed between trips. But when I started traveling abroad, I discovered getting lost is a blessing … really and truly. I know it can be frustrating to be lost, especially in unfamiliar places. Well, I used to—but no more. In my travels through the countryside in Europe, I learned to embrace the many times I found myself lost as my daughter and I drove into the next town. Being lost meant we saw things we would not otherwise see. Wonderful adventures. A new philosophy arose. Now I love getting lost.
(X) Traveled to the opposite side of the country
Well … does by plane count? From San Francisco to Newark … or Washington, DC. But I have driven cross country from California through quite a few states to Minnesota … then from Washington DC in a kinda roundabout way to Minnesota. Not all at once though.
(X) Visited Washington, DC
Yup. Since this was the “drop spot” on our return to the states (I think) from the first trip to Europe, I decided my daughter and I would take some time to explore. It is a beautiful place to visit, but … not in the middle of the summer. We melted daily as we trod up and down the Avenue looking at the Smithsonian exhibits and important buildings.(X) Swam in the Ocean
Yes, well … living on the western shores of the US affords that nicely. I’ve been in the Pacific Ocean from California and Hawaii; dabbled my feet in the English Channel from the shores Calais, France
(X) Cried yourself to sleep
(X) Played cops and robbers
(X) Played cowboys and Indians
I even helped my brothers dig a cave into a hillside (sandstone … not sure it was the wisest thing we did) to stash treasures and hide from our parents. Good fun!
(X) Recently colored with crayons
Yes, yes, yes! And … and with coloured pencils. I advise everyone to give this a go—you can never be too old to colour with crayons … or play with them by shaving them onto wax paper and ironing them into beautiful stain-glass-like images.
( ) Sang karaoke
( ) Sang a solo or duet in church
(X) Paid for a meal with coins only
I’m embarrassed to say … yes. Once, as a kid … deliberately to irritate the waitress, then once as an adult—out of necessity.
(X) Made prank phone calls
Groan … yes. “Is your refrigerator running? …” Oh, I cannot believe we did this. At my 11th birthday sleep over. A bunch of giggling goofballs. But there’s always payback. I’ve received more than a few prank calls as an adult. Sigh.
(X) Laughed until some beverage came out of your nose
All too often. Even now (but not as often, thankfully).
(X) Caught a snowflake on your tongue
Aaah. A delightful experience. You must give it a go …
(X) Had children
Only one. Though I tried several times, only blessed with one. That’s a story all by itself. Maybe another day.

So, that will do it for today. I hope you have a wonderful Friday—and weekend! There’s one more week of this … then I should be back, with a clear mind to get back into creating a blog.

“Bucket List”—Part One

SURELY YOU’VE SEEN THESE on Facebook—or perhaps, you even saw the movie starring Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson. “Bucket Lists” … a list of things you want to accomplish before you “kick the bucket” (die). On Facebook, they come and go. They’re posted in many forms—usually a preconceived list someone thinks is fun. Sometimes many people play, sometimes not. Some are thought provoking, some very tongue-in-cheek … I won’t play them if they reveal too much personal information (such as which states have I’ve lived in, kind of jobs I’ve had …). Though some things on the lists make me shake my head, this one in particular evoked so many memories—so many—I couldn’t resist. I hated to simply tick off the boxes that applied. They needed explanation. The story behind the ticked box.

So, this blog (well, actually series of blogs, as it has become an unwieldy 3000+ words as I “fill in the blanks”) is a mix of the most recent “Bucket List” floating around on Facebook … and some of the memories evoked (so … of course, you do not have to do what it says—just enjoy the ride). I apologise for the length, but I wanted to keep it to three parts … so read on and enjoy.

“Bucket List – please play along. You’ll be surprised at the responses. Put an “X” in the box if you have done it! Just copy and paste to your timeline.”
(X) Shot a gun…
As a girl in a family where boys vastly outnumbered girls I was taught how to fire a 22. And a bow and arrow. I think I even got to shoot a pistol once, but there was too much kick-back for my little body. (There was also fishing—I enjoyed that too.) I remember all our trips out to the country to practice our aim … shooting at bottles and rocks. My brothers had a blast (no pun intended) with all of these things … and eventually went on to hunting trips with dad, which was not something girls did then (insert pout … there was definitely a double standard in our house), so I was never invited to come along. I’m not sure I was that interested in the the killing aspect anyway. I loved the bow and was a pretty good shot, but never got the stance right—even in college. I always ended up with a very, very red, welted forearm (my “girls” kept getting in the way—I know … TMI. Sorry … sniggle).
(X) Gone on a blind date
Um … yeah. My best friend had her boyfriend from “the other side of the tracks” and his friend and I did a double date. One time only. She may have loved her boyfriend, but mine … well, let’s just say he was not my type.
( ) Skipped school
never! Even with my learning disabilities, I loved school.
( ) Watched someone die
I did not mark this one, as I read it as actually seeing them die at the end. But I have watched a number of my family in the process. My mom … my dad, then my husband … and with each, I wish with all my heart I’d been able to be with them at the very end. I was able to say good-bye to my mom, but not with my dad or husband … and not having been with them to say good-bye leaves a hole in my heart.
(X) Visited Canada
I’ve been up there several times, various areas. First time I recall was in high school (as a junior, I think) on a portage/camp trip with a group of teenage girls. Our guide was a good-looking, bearded, redhead guide. I think we all had a crush on him by the end of the trip. We even managed to endure a tornado shaking our tents to the ground and needed to rescue our canoe because the tornado had dropped it out in the lake—quite an experience.
(X) Visited Hawaii
With family, twice. Loved it and want to do it again as an adult … on my own. Hawaii is beautiful through the eyes of an tweener. My only bad memory was a badly stubbed toe (on lava rock buried in the sand) and a nasty sunburn on my ankles (that was the day of ankle socks … so the poor ankles seldom saw the sun). Sun poisoning … so my long trip home was not the best. I wonder what it will be like as … well, as a camera-toting adult-me?
(X) Visited Jamaica
My twenty-first birthday was spent with my roommate in Jamaica. My first memories of this little “paradise” was:  My mom had given me a sun block, so I felt confident that I could completely enjoy myself without burning to a crisp (which was the norm for me) … and it was great—saw some amazing waterfalls, checked out the historical bits on a tour and … well, it was great—up until I was so severely sunburned that I blistered. The pharmacist was using NY rules and would not give me neosporin (a non-prescription item in California—but required an Rx in NY) without a prescription, so my roomie swiped tea bags from the dining room and dragged the cooled tea bags across my sunburn. And I lived in a tent dress and coveted shady locations for the rest of the trip … in misery.
But then, other memories flowed in: After having been to Hawaii, I was in for a shock when we arrived on this little island. I had many preconceived ideas of what the place should be like. All shot down after the first day. Now, if you stay at the resort or only go on the structured tours, it’s insulated from reality, but Pam (my roomie) and I rented a car to drive around the island. Such poverty. My first thoughts were “dirty and dusty”. I was definitely out of my comfort zone, but the people we met were amazing and genuine. Taking off the rose-coloured glasses allowed me to see another side of the beauty of the island. I am so glad I made the trip, despite all of the discomforts.

Okay … there’s more, but I’m going to save it for next week—when I’m not so capable of writing a blog … I’ll be going under the knife next Thursday and will, most likely, be out of my gourd on drugs on Friday. Sniggle.

If you believe in prayer, I’d be grateful for prayer: peace of mind and speedy and complete healing for me … and steady hands, wisdom and compassion for the neurosurgeon and all the medical staff overlooking my care during my stay.

May your Friday and weekend be blessed. Cheers!

Back in the Saddle

OH, IT DOES FEEL GOOD TO BE writing—and editing again. Moving forward in life—finally. I’ve finished the first edit of Mischiefmaker—I resorted to printing out the manuscript for my edits (I know—paper waster!!—but this is the best way for me to get things done). I did it when I first started this writing-a-book thing and found it to be so much easier for me than sitting in front of a computer, tethered to (or reliant upon) an electrical/electronic source.

I’ll take the written page over a digital screen any day—whether for editing or reading for pleasure. And, yes … I must eventually come back to the computer, but it’s to input changes and for a quick read-through before I print it out once again for the next round. Occasionally, I find myself forgetting about the written page and discover I’ve read ahead four or five pages without editing/correcting my work. I’m obviously still enjoying reading this story of mine. That’s a good thing, don’t you think?

As I was saying before I sidetracked myself (sniggle) … I am working on inputting the corrections for round one. I will read the whole story again with corrections in place, making notes of where I need additional changes as I go. Then, on to round two. Depending on how awful I feel round one was, I’ll do one of two things. Print it out, and dive into it once again … or, if it’s reasonably sound (not too sure it is at this point), I’ll print out copies for my beta readers to get input from them as I am working on taking the rough edges off in round two—it’s usually round three that goes to the beta readers, but maybe I’m improving enough to speed up the process (finally catching the newbie mistakes in the initial writing or round one) … so, we’ll see.

Maybe it’s the upcoming book signing that has me so jazzed about my editing (which I usually dread), or the upcoming surgery that has me up against a deadline … (yeah, probably the latter—teehee), but I’m thoroughly enjoying the time with my manuscript.

The book signing is a joint venture with my author friend, Joyce Oroz—a mystery writer. The Aromas Country Garden (and Art) Tour is on Saturday, May 14th from 10am-4pm (pick up maps for a small fee at the Aromas Grange)–date was recently changed due to rain. We will be joined by other Aromas Hills Artisans (AHA), peppered along the streets of Aromas in various gardens, waiting for people to venture in to admire the area flora—and our various art forms. Most of the AHA members are oil-acrylic-watercolour painters, ceramic & metal sculptors, jewelers, stained glass specialists, etc … whilst Joyce and I use our talents honing words. If you happen to be in the area—northern most portion of Monterey County, come visit Aromas and admire the flower/veggie and xeriscape gardens. Please take the time to see what the artists will have on display. I’m sure they will appreciate your visits to their booths. Joyce and I will be chatting with those that come through our chosen garden (pretty close to the center of town) and of course, we will have books to sell/sign.

From another page in my life, I’ve just given an okay to my publisher on a revamp of the cover of The Scymarian (and made a few corrections to the interior—errors that none of us caught the first time around) and that will head to production soon. Once I get this manuscript polished and wrapped in a bow for my publisher—and finish up with book four, I’ll begin to reclaim book one (and maybe book two) from my first publisher so Inknbeans Press can proceed with publishing it/them under their name. But that won’t happen until I’ve had a real professional edit done on book one (I do not consider the edit done by that publisher as professional by any means—I ended up going back through and correcting all their mistakes and found many more they’d missed). It’s all coming together … slowly, but surely.

After that, I’ll be able to get back to working on book five. It’s exciting, time consuming, stressful and challenging—all at once. Life keeps me busy—and motivated … … that’s for sure.

Folks, I want to thank each and every one of you that have hung in there and kept faithful in reading my blog and following my business pages (my Writerly and Painterly pages) on Facebook. I’m always open to any feedback you might have to make the pages more interesting, so please feel free to comment—either here or on the Facebook pages. I want them to be interesting for you and can only guess if I do not have your feedback.

Have a blessed day—and weekend.

Mine was going to be busy, as you know … and possibly a little wet—but we need the rain, so I’m not complaining. Though it has been rescheduled, if you’re local, no matter the weather next week, don’t let a little rain stop you from getting out to enjoy the beauty of the gardens … and the art. Hopefully we will see you there!