Adjusting to Life—day by day …

I AM OVER TWO MONTHS POST-OP (wheeeee!) … I know this is an odd thing to be writing about, but it is a very real part of who I am at present.

For most of those two months, I’ve been relatively pain-free … which, for me is quite phenomenal. And deliciously delightful. At first, I didn’t realise it was the “cocktail” given to me during the operation that created this euphoric, pain-free state. For two months! Two. Whole. Months. Even with the burdensome restrictions—which have been a thorn in my side—it’s been a heavenly wonder. At first, I was waiting for the spasms to hit me … but when then didn’t, I started to embrace this new feeling. One I haven’t had in … oh … such a very, very long time. And, hoped that it was permanent (my neurosurgeon said he couldn’t take credit for me being pain-free, but wouldn’t say anything more).

Now … the pain is beginning to return. The problem is, my “pain memory” appears to be zero. The reset button on my pain tolerance appears to have been pressed … so, I’m feeling rather “wussy” as it re-establishes itself. Ugh. Once I figured out the why (none of my docs were willing to tell me anything—I had to figure it out myself)—medications given during surgery relaxed my body so profoundly that it appears things stopped causing undue pressure—I wondered if I could get this miracle “medicinal cocktail” quarterly, to keep me pain free … but those obnoxious restrictions would probably apply also. If I was an under-active individual, I guess it would be fine. But I’m far from that. I’m fiercely independent and very active (some would say overly so) … so these restrictions would be stifling to the point that I’d eventually do my body injury … (they are stifling, but because it is a temporary thing, I’m doing my best to be a good girl—minding my P’s and Q’s … so I can get back to normal life).

My body is beginning to wake up as I become more active—random muscle spasms (none that are painful … yet) that noticeably yank at muscles and occasional sharp, momentary twinges of pain were the first things to knock on my “door”. Such weird sensations. Little aches and pains—nothing serious. But with each new day, more harbingers of “the old days” appear to be settling in, hanging around rather than simply playing tag and dashing off. If it progresses slowly, I think I’ll be able to re-establish my wonderfully high pain tolerance, but if the floodgates open, I’m going to be one wussy gal. Maybe the doc knew something I didn’t when he gave me such a large number of pain pills … (I hope not). So I’m praying for a slow—very, very slow—progression of pain.

Another issue I’m having (as I work on trying to maintain a stream of thought to get this written …) is an increase in my memory deficit. A medication I shouldn’t have was given to me post-op, whilst still in the hospital. Snort. I think I mentioned it before, right? Sigh—I can’t remember … that, I think, is harder on me than relearning how to deal with the pain. Well, maybe. Perhaps they are close to equal. The good news is, my memory will slowly—very slowly—improve. Eventually (we’re talking years, folks). So, my friends, if I repeat myself, please forgive me … please. If I’m slow to get my next book done—please forgive me (I’m nearly in tears about this). This delay not only means you don’t get the next story in a timely fashion, but it delays me transferring my first and second book in the series to Inknbeans Press. And it delays my working on an anthology of short stories … and—you can see the domino-effect in play here … right?

Memory will improve but, the pain will inevitably (but hopefully gradually) increase. Back to what it was before. Sigh. That’s life …

And in life, things must go on. In one weeks time, set-up for the Monterey Scottish Games begins. I have a helper—bless her—who has offered to do all my heavy work as Michelle and I prepare our clan tent for the weekend event. At the end of August I’ll be able to not only sell books at the WestEnd Celebration in Sand City, but my art also—which means I need to crack my own whip and get ready for that. A week later, I plan on driving back to Tennessee for the Mid-South Book Fair (then fly home—or maybe I’ll fly both ways … don’t know yet). I’ll finally get to meet up with some author friends I’ve met through Facebook and Inknbeans Press—I’m excited about that. Plus, I’ll finally have put my books out there beyond my little corner of the world. That makes me happy!

… And then, life gets really crazy through the holidays with book signings—all local, from Salinas to Watsonville to Gilroy and Monterey. I look forward to all of it—with mixed feelings. My energy will be back by then, but what about the other stuff …?

My next post-op visit to the doctor (mid August) will include x-rays to see how my neck is healing. I look forward to that visit, as I will—hopefully—get the weight restrictions lifted … or at least improved so I can actually begin doing productive things around the house and in my “work” life. I’ve been a “good girl” so things should be just fine (insert huge grin).

So, on with life … one day at a time, as I readjust to the new me with all that it entails.

May your life be blessed serendipitously …

Now What …?

FEELIN’ BETTER, GETTING THINGS DONE slowly but surely … and now what?

I need to do some book-stuff housekeeping, since in a month, things are going to start getting very busy and not slow down till sometime in December (yikes!). I need to inventory my books to determine if I need to restock before my jaunt back to Tennessee in September, get more bookmarks—I’m down to the last few and know I need to get that done soon … and really … I need to get my head into a writing space so that I can get book four done and sent off to my editor.

… And very soon (aaack!)—a mere two weeks away—the Scottish Games will be upon us. So much to get ready before the 6-7 August event … the Gunn clan tent will be great! I’ve enlisted a friend (thank you Lora!) to help Michelle and me get the tent erected—since I’m still limited in what I’m allowed to do (serious pout!). And, I will have copies of my books for anyone interested in purchasing.

But right now, I’ve been taking an acrylic “boot camp”—this whole week. I’m had fun, as are the other participants. Two are doing portraits, one is doing a barn landscape … and, of course, I chose a macro-shot of a flower, which does not have much in the way of shadowing—something Robert Burcar had requested (oopsie). We’ve learning different techniques and it’s very educational! But, I also learning that acrylics and I don’t necessarily see eye-to-eye. I love how they are similar … yet, very different when compared to water colour (which I think is my favourite medium, since I keep gravitating back to it). But the plastic base/fumes of acrylic paint and I—more precisely, my allergies—don’t get along. I’m waking with increasingly puffy eyes and I’ve my cough has gotten worse. Pout.

Our instructor, Robert Burcar is an accomplished oil/acrylic artist and has a website if you are interested in his art. Along with many other instructors, he teaches classes at Open Ground Studios as the need arises. Check out these two websites to find more details.

The skills I’ve learned could be used with water colour, sketching, etc. Centering the canvas, drawing the skeleton, creating dark and light values—he says, “cover the canvas!” (well, not so much this for other mediums), blending … and so much more.

Unfortunately, my allergies got so bad that I only stayed half-way through Thursday … and will not return to complete my project on Friday, but I’m hoping that I can get finished images from each of them to post at a later time.

**I will eventually fix the landscape shots that ended up sideways … promise—so sorry about that.**


1) Centering and getting the skeleton on the canvas

Here are a few shots of the demos Robert did for us (using a Clint Eastwood black and white photo, which he chose to colourize) … and the progress of each of our project.

Sketching out where shadows and light will go (sorry—directionally challenged (oops)

2) Sketching out where shadows and light will go (sorry—directionally challenged (oops)

Shadows of various values

3) Shadows of various values

Demo/instruction time.

4) Demo/instruction time.

Helping Linda decide what to do next

5) Helping Linda decide what to do next

Yours truly's reference images & art work.

6) Yours truly’s reference images & art work—long way to go.

Day Three ... getting to add more values and "details"

7) Day Three … getting to add more values and “details”—again, directionally challenged 🙁

It's looking good! (I'll get a portrait image soon!)

8) Getting the values just right … It’s looking good—even if it is sideways!


All of these portraits are looking wonderful. Wish I'd taken 9) pictures of their skeletons!

9) All of these portraits are looking wonderful. Wish I’d taken pictures of their skeletons! Wait! I may have them … I’ll add later (if I find them).

End of day three

10) End of day three for my project—practically upside down … sorry.





























And with that, I will bid you adieu. Have a wonderful Friday and a blessed weekend.

The Insanity of It All

THE POLITICAL AND RACIAL HATE that has been polluting the Internet this last couple weeks finally hit me. I could not keep my emotions in check, so I abandoned most electronics for a few days. My mind and heart couldn’t take any more. By my on admission, I am not a political savvy person and keep my thoughts pretty much to myself to stay out of trouble.

I shed tears and my heart aches every time I hear of senseless beatings, deaths of individuals and heartless, unfair treatment by police. I don’t care what their colour is. It’s not right. It’s an assault on all that is right in our country. An outright head-on assault. But to generalize and hate all all blacks … all whites … all police because of a “few” bad apples … that’s wrong too! Our country is being divided—torn from within. And I mourn the loss of the integrity that we, as a nation, once had. It seems to be disintegrating before my very eyes. What has happened to compassion, caring and love for your fellow American—or even your fellow citizen of the world?

Then I see the compassion of so many, standing up to protect others and my heart swells with joy. Unfortunately, it seems the media is far more prone to displaying—no, pushing—the violence than they are the compassion. Sadly, it appears that violence sells better. And the Internet (Facebook) is littered with hateful, one-sided rhetoric.

Many of the posts I see on Facebook look like they are there to incite anger rather than try to come up with a solution. If you are not for BlackLivesMatter then you are presumed against it. You can’t be pro-police and pro-black. If you associate with AllLivesMatter, then you are perceived to be against BLM.

It is an unfair perception.

I try to live out my beliefs—demonstrate my beliefs through my actions. I do my best to help people in need—no matter their colour, political or personal beliefs. But I also refuse to protest, to throw out angry words to incite anger. To be drawn into endless debates. I am “bullied” because I am “silent”. Silent in their eyes, perhaps, but I have always felt that ones actions speak volumes. How is loving … helping my neighbour, no matter what the colour, not an action?

Maybe I’m a pacifist. Maybe. Maybe not. I don’t know. I do know I try to live and follow God’s will. From my point of view, from the beginning, I see all of this BlackLivesMatter as being very militant and it feels wrong. Even their “manifesto” sounds militant.  I am all for what they are trying to achieve—to educate non-blacks of their plight … I’m not comfortable with how they are doing it. It incited anger—on all sides, escalating things rather that trying to deal peacefully with the situation.

That’s my humble opinion. Perhaps I am too simple-minded for the world. So be it. My wish for our country is that we embrace our differences and use them to strengthen us as a nation rather than to divide and tear us to shreds, making us vulnerable.

We are a great nation that needs healing. Desperately. It takes only one person to begin the ripple of healing. Would you consider thinking about what you can do to help pull us back into a singular, unified country?

There are others that are far more eloquent than I and I’d like to share the links to their thought on this matter:
Approach To Life
Lessons from life undercover
Einstein was not only a mathematical genius, but he had a strong social conviction.

Friends, please be kind to one another. Help your neighbour. Actively seek out to do these things.



I NEVER UNDERSTOOD IT COMPLETELY. My husband was losing his sight and his world began to shrink due to macular degeneration. We laughed at his massive piles of unread magazines beside the bed and next to his chair in the living room. Slowly, the distance between his reading material and his eyes diminished—near the end, pages were held about three inches from his face as he moved his head back and forth to capture the words. He was an avid reader. I liked that about him. He was well informed—almost a walking encyclopaedia on certain topics near and dear to him. Mostly car stuff … and woodworking and how-to things.

… And he knew his way around circuit boards, computers,

Progression of the disease ...

Progression of his macular degeneration required different kinds of visual aids … (click to see details)

cars—and words. Oh, how he loved crossword puzzles—there were several he worked on daily. He was a champ at Scrabble—coming up with the most bizarre words (real words you’d only find in crossword puzzles, but apparently real words nonetheless) … and I was far too slow for him—taking too much time to come up with a word for the board, so we didn’t play terribly often.

Like I said, he was knowledgeable—about lots of other things, too. Just not gardening—which has always been my favourite thing. The garden was my domain—he did stoop to doing “grunt” work that I could not, but otherwise, it was my place to get my hands dirty … especially after he mowed down a bunch of lilies. But, that’s another story. His vision started to be quite a hindrance to his reading ability—and, more importantly—to his driving, which I could see was frustrating. My thought was, why couldn’t he just accept it and move on? I had no problem driving him places he needed to go and there were always audio books and the like …

I obviously did not appreciate how frustrating it was … until many years later.

Then … I was not allowed to drive after my surgery. Two weeks confined to the passenger seat was stressful. I had to depend on others to take me anywhere I needed to go. Juggling their availability with my schedule was a challenge, but doable. I was thankful for their offered time to haul me around. But last year in August, I went in to get a new prescription for my glasses. It had been two-plus years and things were getting a wee bit blurry with my aging eyes. That—and well, really … all I needed was to get some cool glasses for my cosplay character (which wouldn’t be worn anywhere but at the convention), but they wouldn’t fill the request until I’d seen the doctor (can’t get new glasses if it’s been over two years … apparently the state is a stickler on that because it had only been about ten days over and “sorry, we can’t afford the penalty if we fill an old, expired prescription” …) Drats.

Honestly, since my allergies were flaring causing itchy eyes, I figured the combo was the reason for my poor eye sight. Meh. No worries. Just get a new scrip and all will be fine, plus I’d have my cool con glasses too! I couldn’t get in with my regular doctor, so I saw his partner. She informed me I had the beginnings of cataracts … and my right eye wasn’t doing a very good job of staying lubricated. Dry eyes. Great. But, I brushed it off as no big deal. I pretty much forgot about it (used the suggested eye drops for about a week and didn’t see much change, so I stopped).

Recently though (through the holidays and on into the new year), it dawned on me that this poorer vision may be the reason I’m having a hard time sitting down for extended periods to read, write and/or edit. It’s been bothering me—not being able to do what I enjoy so much.That made me sit up and take notice—and remember what my husband had gone through (though, his problem was not correctable, whereas mine is—once it gets bad enough). My vision will never get as bad as his, thank God … but I do see how it can begin to take a toll on how you look (no pun intended) at things.

Just how “bad” is “bad enough”? When will surgery be required? Will it work? I’m one of those people that has odd reactions to medications, so will they even be able to do the surgery effectively? These are a few of the questions that have crossed my mind—I’m not a worrier, so they are not consuming me. I’m just curious. How long will I be required to deal with this degenerative disease before I must right it? There are so many things in my life that require good vision that I may have the surgery earlier than most so I can stay busy with what I love … photography, reading, writing, editing (though I’d love to say I could pawn that last one off to someone else … but I really do need to do at least three sweeps before it goes to the editor—otherwise, I get tongue lashings for turning it in before it’s “finished”).

Even writing this blog is getting harder. I need to enlarge print size to see what I’ve written without getting a headache. Thank God for Apple’s Command+ (teehee). Well, as long as I’m able to make the print bigger, I guess I’m good.

But what about travel? Will taking a car into the countryside be out? Will I be “forced” to completely rely on public transportation, thus missing out on some really neat out of the way locations … and my leisurely schedule? Since my next trip is now almost a year off, I’d better start asking questions, don’t you think? Ultimately, mode of transport will determine what I do and where I’m able to go. Lugging cameras and luggage on public transportation is quite a different story to the convenience of hiring a car for a week at a time (and being able to leave all my possessions in the boot—er, I mean trunk whilst meandering) … sigh.

Decisions … And thankful I am able to make those decisions. I don’t think I will ever fully appreciate what my husband went through, but I’m getting closer to understanding.

May your Friday … and weekend be filled with joyous activities. Be glad for what you have, not what you’d like to have. Don’t take anything for granted. Until next week …