Phases

LIFE IS INTERESTING. Especially the phases. You know … the phases you go through on the way to becoming an adult.

For example: I’ve always had a fascination with colours. Always. I think the fascination came from my mom—she was forever changing the colour of accent pieces in whatever house we lived in at the moment. Pinks and sky-blues were her thing. I have a lovely hutch that my parents took with them on all of their moves that has layer upon layer of paint (blue, pink … and white layers—I see it in the chipped spots). I’m reluctant to strip down that precious history to the beautiful oak woodwork … and it actually makes me giggle, because my parents (oh, lets be real—my mom) purchased a painted player piano that needed refinishing. Why the giggles? Because there was overwhelming and unsightly evidence of layer upon layer of paint. And when my mom started the stripping process, she couldn’t believe it when she found a few wallpaper layers amidst the layers of paint. Aghast at the thought of wallpaper and paint on a piano, she ranted about it. How could they?? But, I’ll ask how is that different from painting layer upon layer onto perfectly good oak wood?

I don’t think I remember much in the way of colour preferences before middle school—or maybe it was high school. Not sure. I had a phase where just about everything I possessed (even the walls of my room) was lavender. Then, I kept the lavender walls and accented with orange. And I mean bright, eye-blinding orange. Then I mixed a psychedelic checker-board black wallpaper onto a tall dresser (no squares or even rectangles–all parallelograms) with all of that—it was the sixties, after all …

Orange stayed with me for quite some time—even as a young adult. Orange and brown tones dominated my space. Then suddenly (well, it seems that way in my recollections) … pinks overtook and replaced the orange tones. Then purple, then back to pink.

One day, I sat back and looked at the collection of colours around me—pinks and blues—and I developed a serious case of the giggles. Had I finally become the “mother’s daughter”—taking on her preferences? No, I don’t think so, but those colours do dominate my surroundings—with splashes of red, browns … and purple.

My flower gardens blooms are pinks, reds and blues. Pots are blue, burnt red-orange … and green. It has to be the “right” green to set foot in my life. I tolerate oranges, but only little splashes—though I do find I like earthy tones more around Halloween and reds—lots of reds—around Christmas and Valentine’s Day.

So, are my phases becoming seasonal? I’m not sure … and I’m not sure it even matters.

I watch one of my very talented cousins, Elaine Dunham, play so freely with colour—very abstractly—and am so amazed at her final products. I’ve not been a fan of abstract art, but watching how she gets to the finished image has be appreciating it a bit more. And most of them (in my opinion) are lovely! If you are interested in abstracts, here’s a link to her work. There’s some amazing stuff there! 10/11/17 Note: She’s just added another link to her ello account.

So … I’ve started to pay closer attention to what I’m doing colour-wise—I’m still a seat-of-the-pants artisan … whether in Writerly or Painterly mode, but now I see that I need to be more mindful, even when I’m being spontaneous.

This little spontaneous trip down memory lane was fun! I find it fun to walk some of the corridors of my mind and peek through doors and windows to see what’s there. How about you? Can you tell me—and please be honest—what some of your phases were as you navigated life?

Oh … by the way—autumn is here (well, if in southern hemisphere, it’s spring, isn’t it?) and I’ve been glass pumpkin hunting to add to my collection. Enjoy the season!

Waterlogue-Glass Pumpkins

Click on it to see entire image

Secrets Beyond Scymaria—Books Four and Five

AAAH … I PROMISED YOU A SNEAK PEEK, didn’t I! Well I’ve got goodies for you—two snippets from two different works in progress (WIP). One is from Book Four, Mischiefmaker. I beg you … please remember—I’m still editing, so neither is perfect. But it’s getting there … very quickly (which makes me a happy camper). The other is from Catalyst (a working title … not sure it’s right—but then again, the story’s not done yet either. It may be perfect! Time will tell). Please remember: it is a work in progress, so no editing has been done.

So, without further delay, here are the snippets:

Mischiefmaker
“Oh…be quiet, Amy. No, I didn’t know,” he sputtered between coughs, trying to clear his lungs of apple juice. “I’ve never had that happen before. I’m sure I’ve eaten one lying down before … I’m sure.” His coughing fits settled as he asked if she had any water bottles in her bag, remembering the sloshing sounds he’d heard as she ran off.
“Yeah. I was just about to grab one.” She passed a bottle to him as he cleared his throat.
“Thanks.” He closed his eyes and shook his head, thinking how stupid it had been. Great way to impress a girl … he took a chug of water and immediately felt better. Clearing his throat once more, “Thanks. Okay. I feel better now.” He could still feel a bit of heat under his collar and wondered if his face was red. “How embarrassing. I’m sorry.”
“For what? That was a great mood lifter. Really. I haven’t laughed much since … since our graduation night, so it felt good. I should be thanking you.” Ty could see a twinkle in her eye and a hint of a smile register on her face then it turned somber. Watch out. Somebody at eleven o’clock!
Pretending to shift his backpack to his left, he looked up to see a man headed for them, waving. He didn’t recognize him at all. Do I know him? Wonder why I didn’t feel his presence? Who could this be? He started to call out for Rocky, but decided he needed to handle it himself, after all, he thought, we’re supposed to be dealing with everyday life on our own, right?
Right…oops. Wasn’t that directed at me? Sorry.
Well, yeah. Sorta. No apology necessary. Who do you think he is?
No clue.
The man continued to walk across the Green, with very deliberate strides and with purpose, toward the two as the sat on the grass, watching him approach.
“Hello, there! I’m new in town and just found this amazing park. Isn’t it beautiful?” The two kids stared up at him, dumbfounded. “I’m sorry—my name’s Ian—Ian Woon.” Bending down, he held out his hand, waiting for one or both to respond to his handshake.
Only the boy responded, politely parroting his name. “Hullo, Mr. Ian Woon.” Stealing a glance at his friend, he said no more.
Perhaps I’m being too forward—maybe I shouldn’t press the matter. Clearing his throat, he decided a correction was in order. “Actually, it’s Professor Woon. I’m going to head up the Biology Department at the college. A friend of mine told me this town is ripe for the picking—I mean to say, as a biology professor, there’s plenty of parks for me to use as a lab for my students, so I thought I’d check them out.”
He couldn’t understand why the girl went pale. “Are you okay, young lady? You’re not looking very well.” The boy turned to check on her again and then they politely excused themselves, quickly packing up their things and giving a polite, but distant good bye before disappearing into the bushes.
As they walked away, he chuckled. “Hmm. Wonder what I interrupted.” He looked around and sighed. “Which way do I go next? Two parks down. The professor said this town had an overabundance of parks and ponds. Now, where’s that map?” As he searched his pockets, he pondered what he’d found so far. The peculiar flora and fauna he’d seen fascinated him. Nothing extraordinary, he thought, but not the normal things you’d expect to see in the region. No wonder Professor Larkin was so obsessed with the parks. Too bad he’s losing his job. Well, his loss is my gain. Wonder what else I’ll find next. He studied his map for a moment, and then folded it up neatly, returning it to his pocket. There should be a pond just beyond these bushes …

Okay. That’s all of book four. Sound interesting? Hope so. Now on to book five:

Catalyst
“Y-yikes! What on earth was that?” Shaking her arm, she then examined it for any physical damage and shuddered at the pin-prickly feelings that lingered.
“What’s the matter?” Ty’s face was furrowed with concern. His hands immediately took hold of her arm.
“I … I thought something was raking up against my arm—like it was trying to keep me from going through. Like it was … was trying to grab at me with something sharp. I was almost through before—when you pulled me back a few minute ago and it was fine—what changed?” Her mind was in complete confusion. That insistent urge to go across to Scymaria was still present pressing at her very core of her being, but the reaction by the portal made her question if it was that smart of an idea. “I dunno. Maybe it’s not such a good idea to go, but I still have an overwhelming need to do it …” Looking at her friends for advise, she continued. “I don’t think Rocky would pull a stunt like that if he didn’t want us to use the portal … but, well, maybe?”
“No, the Guardian would not do that. He would never harm anyone.” Raf stood tall, with shoulders squared, facing them as he defended his mentor. “No. There is something else at work here. Something that we must investigate. I cannot sense the Guardian any longer—it is as if something is blocking his communication with me.” He screwed up his face in determination. “This … this is very hard for me. I have always sensed his presence. Always. The moment we pulled Amy back, I began to feel his presence ebbing—becoming very hard to hear. There was no warning from the Guardian.” His hands, palms flat, pressed against the portal, searching this way and that. “There must be a way.”
Amy felt Ty’s gentle pull on her still-tingling arm, guiding her away from the portal as Raf explored its surface. She stepped back, allowing their friend more room to probe with hands and mind—she could hear him imploring his mentor to intervene, to give him guidance. In her minds eye, she could see everything he did. Surprised that he did this openly, she watched and listened, observing in silence as she stood next to Ty, hoping he would succeed. But, what then? What are we to do once we can get to Scymaria? These thoughts repeated themselves, over and over as she watched Raf try to break through.
Now! Come now. We must go through together, quickly! The thought exploded in her mind as she grappled with her own thoughts. She could feel hands grabbing her as they all plunged through the portal. Again, she could feel the raking against her body as they made their way through. Perhaps not as noticeable, but it made her shudder, nonetheless. Will we be able to get back through? She broadcast those thoughts for both her friends to hear. Not wanting to think about the dire consequences if they were unsuccessful, they plowed ahead into Scymaria, anxious to see the bright blue skies and the colorful flower-peppered fields with the magnificent forest and mountains arching around and over them. Even if they are dangerous, I have a feeling, what I’m sensing is far …
She wasn’t able to finish her thought. Every sense was slammed with an overpowering feeling of dread as she broke through into their wonderful world of Scymaria. A place where nothing but beauty abound. Ty’s mother had called it Eden and she had agreed.
Her breath caught in her throat as she took in what lay before her. “Oh no—it can’t be.”

So … I’ve gone waaay over my usual word count, but it couldn’t be helped if I was to put both into one blog post. I certainly hope you’ve enjoyed these little snippets.

That’s all for now. May your Friday, weekend and week to follow be blessed.

Books, Fairs and A Bit More …

OH, MY. A BUSY AND INTERESTING week with a new venue for Joyce Oroz and I. The Cesar Chavez Library’s Joyce Oroz and dj jameson smith's tableFirst Salinas Book Fair was a hit with the locals—mostly Hispanic, with the two of us sticking out like sore thumbs. All announcements were made bilingually; most of the authors spoke Spanish, and many of their books were written in Spanish. It took us very little time to realise it wasn’t exactly the best fit for us, but we made sure we had dj jameson smith at the First Salinas Book Fairfun and each of us did make a few sales. It was fun meeting many of the authors—and quite a few of them, including yours truly and Joyce, had to read from their books. Aaack! I’ve only done that once before—in front of a bunch of teens (tough audience). Well, I did okay … and Joyce did too. Reading a selected bit from the book gave the audience (aka: readers or parents of readers) a chance to hear what many of the books were like, then come to the booths and get more information … or better yet, make a purchase.

Now, Joyce and I have a bit of a respite from our books—well, at least I do. I’ll be taking some “personalOne Big Pile of Weeds To Go Please ... time” for the next two weekends. On the week days, I’m trying to fulfill CalFire’s requirements to make my property fire safe. I’m making progress … slowly. Weeds, dead trees and branches … ugh. I’m looking forward to my weekends—I’ve decided to pop over to Carmel Valley to check out (and probably purchase) a few glass pumpkins. I’ve found myself collecting them (insert eye-roll)—just what I need! They are so gorgeous—I want to buy, buy, buy—but they are also a little on the pricey side.

Anyway, not only am I doing that stroll amongst pumpkins, Tiger Lily and Peter Pan from Forest Theatre, Carmelbut I’m also going to see the play, Peter Pan, at the Forest Theatre—an outdoor theatre (a very cool theatre)—in Carmel with a friend and her kids. I know I’ll have fun—no matter what the weather (I always come prepared)!

The following weekend will be another double-header for me. On the calendar for ages is the Alzheimer’s Walk—the only one I’ll be able to attend will be held in Aptos at the Walk to End Alzheimerslovely Seascape Resort. Depending on how I feel, I’ll either walk the full 2-3 mile walk—which includes a bit of a walk on sand with Taiko drumerss at the turn-around point (love, love, love Taiko drums!!) or I might do the short circuit if I’m not feeling up to par. Either way I am going to have a wonderful time, walking for a cause that is near and dear to me. For those of you that don’t know, my dad had Alzheimer’s Disease. To find out more about this devastating disease, go to my personal page or to the Alzheimers.org page.

I did say it was a double-header, didn’t I? Well, after the walk, I’ll be jumping in my car and traveling up to Los Gatos for their annual Magical Glass Pumpkin Patch event (yes, My Glass Pumpkins Are Lonesome ...more glass pumpkins!). I’ve never been, but one of my friends brings home a number of exquisite pumpkins for me to choose from. I decided this year, I’d go there in person. I just hope the drive up will be enough to re-coup my energy, because I believe there will be plenty of walking involved!

Next week, I believe I’ll be giving you a sneak peek—snippets from two stories in my series: Book Four, Mischiefmaker and Book Five, Catalyst (working title). I’m all excited about these two books. It’s hard to edit my first book, knowing I’ve got the edit for book four waiting (I have been working on it, but bouncing back and forth between two edits makes my head spin) and book five wanting completion.

With that said, I do believe it’s time to say Belladonna Lily (Naked Lady)good-bye for the week … I’ll leave you with one last photo. A beautiful pink flower (Belladonna Lily—aka: Naked Lady). I wish you all a wonderful and blessed Friday and weekend. Enjoy!

 

Things That Go Thump in the Night

I’M ALL TOO FAMILIAR WITH restless nights, whether I’m in the throes of an over active mind—a story begging to be let out—or it’s due to my “normal” aches and pains … or due to overly warm nights, or even my falling asleep too early and the middle of the night is when I’ve fulfilled my sleep quota.

Despite all of this—or perhaps because of it—nights hold a magic all their own for me. But, only if I take the time to listen. And imagine. Normally there is some sort of activity that will catch my attention—seldom is the night completely still and quiet for long. My cat, Sebastian, is excellent at this “game” of listening. He may be snuggled in, obviously dead asleep when a noise I cannot hear awakens him with a start. He then launches himself off of me (bringing me to full consciousness—sigh) and is off to investigate, returning only after he is satisfied the thing is gone or no threat.

The sounds I hear are usually include my hoot-owl—occasionally a screech owl, an occasional confused rooster, or the footfall from my resident deer—oh (insert huge, dreamy grin … I love my deer)! And my various mocking birds that do not confine their vocalisations to daytime. Always playing a “solo”, they will wander their territory enchanting the air with their song. I’ve grown so accustomed to hearing all of these sounds that when they are absent, it’s literally deafening. Like on the last day of August. It was very strange. There were no bits of white noise from traffic (I live near a freeway, with only a hill between us), no dogs barking, cats yowling, or even roosters announcing some unseen threat. No footfall or music from my feathered friends. It was strangely silent, which pulled me even further from my sleep, leaving me wide awake to wonder why.

… And it left me to reminisce of times when there were very strange sounds haunting the night. Whether due to a vivid imagination (yeah, writers do have to deal with that …) or perhaps some late night movie leaving a lasting impression, I imagined dark and scary things were lurking. It could have been a coyote or some nasty beast of the night making strange noises—not a bark … nor a howl. It was somewhere between. I imagined a mad animal wandering about, looking for prey. I certainly didn’t want to meet up with it. Don’t get me wrong—I didn’t see it as encountering a nightmare, but it was just spooky and made me curious … and my mind took off with ideas. So that August night was like that … I anticipated some strange occurrence—perhaps an earthquake (we haven’t had many recently—we’re actually due for a good shaker). We need a really “good” shaker—one that will take the pressure off so we don’t have to deal with The Big One for a bit longer.

In any case, I’ve missed my normal night sounds … and any chance at a good nights sleep—I’ve had about a week of extraordinarily hot. Ugh. Freakishly hot of weather (no a/c)—aaah! Perhaps that was the calamity that befell us … all the animals knew to escape the heat, leaving us behind to cope. The evening temperatures have slowly dropped, and by Tuesday night we were supposed to be pretty much back to “normal”—not. The one good this is, my night sounds have begun to return to normal.

Now, with things returning to normal—even my health is finally returning, so yes … perhaps now I can get a good nights sleep. I am wishing each of you the adventure of nighttime magic, without the things that go thump in the night. Have a blessed weekend and week to come!

Please go to my Amazon Authors Page to see my upcoming events. Next one is First Salinas Book Fair this Saturday, 9September17 at Cesar Chavez Library.

I’m Back!

IT’S TRULY AMAZING WHAT A little vacation will do for you. Well … not"Hello September" by djamesonsmith exactly “little”—an entire month. The respite from blogging has allowed for a bit of creativity and energy to creep in. Lovely. Honestly … a wonderful Yours Truly ... Well Restedchange of heart, mind and body. And, it doesn’t hurt that I’m finally nearing the end of the “healing” mode for all the “traumas” that have happened in the last two years. Have you ever heard the saying that getting is old is not for faint of heart? Boy … is that ever an understatement.

(As always, clicking on photos will give you a larger, full view)

So, I guess a little bit of a catch-up is in order. I’ve a couple book signings under my belt, had a few cancel or become a no-go, managed to keepOpen Ground Studios muddling through on the edit for book one, get half-way through my book four’s first edit (mostly done at Open Ground Studios) … my imagination has been kick-started by seriously getting into the edit—which is a very good thing, and finally … I’ve rolled up my "Before" Weedingshirtsleeves and started the daunting task of rescuing my property from mother nature’s grips and serious cleaning and purging of all the unwanted stuff in and around my home. Gardening and housecleaning! Fun …

In my absence from the blog-o-sphere, a “once-in-a-lifetime” solar eclipse happened (have to giggle over that one— there’s another one in 2024 in the eastern US, but I guess they said that because it made a path that crossed the whole of the continental US). Though I did not see anything Solar Eclipse 2017 by Ken Pitts 2017 Solar Eclipse by Ken Pittsdue to high clouds and fog, one of my cousins up in Oregon did—and I was given permission to share Ken Pitts images.

My photography may not have profited that much from my respite, but I certainly have been able to enjoy the wildlife in my yard more. The result has been lots of quickie shots A Few Deer Gathering No Fear of MeBuckeye Butterflyof my resident deer … and plants. Lots of flora and “fawna” (teehee). I haven’t done much  trudging around anywhere to specifically take photos.Lupin on Cloudy Day at Point Lobos I’ve finally enough energy to take walks at Point Lobos again … now I simply need a time when there aren’t a ton of events on the Peninsula drawing tourists to my favourite spot. Once that happens, I know I’ll get back to a physically fit state.

These last two years have made me seriously question what I’m physically capable of doing (in a negative way) … and in this last month, I’ve been allowed (mentally) to realise I am still very capable of so many things—but, that’s another blog post entirely (insert smiley face). It’s been an eye-opener and has lifted a burden of doubt.

It has been quite a journey—made in about a months time—and I’m still trekking towards the finish line, so now that I’m back at my blogging (and a few other things I’ve thrown to the side whilst taking my vacation), I’ll be able to keep you in the loop as to my progress.

So, though this first blog entry is a wee bit late (I was having way too muchFor Me ... HOT! fun yesterday to clean it up and get it ready—I nearly forgot to add all of the photos!—waaay too much fun … teehee), I am back in the saddle. I wish you a blessed and wonderful weekend—ours will be unseasonably warm. Stay safe, stay dry … and/or cool, depending on what’s happening in your corner of the world.