To Everything There Is A Season …

RECENTLY, I WAS PERUSING THE LAST two posts and was somewhat “amused” (not really) by the titles I chose. It was as if I was a wee bit clairvoyant about the immediate future. The direction each post went … and the titles chosen speak volumes to me now.

This has been quite a year … full of ups and downs—thankfully more ups than downs. Finally, this last quarter has found me healthier, with more energy to enjoy the things I hold dear. More energy—and creativity, too—to create whilst wearing my Writerly and Painterly hats. I’ve been loving it!

My body and brain have been so “healthy” that ideas are now screaming to be heard, so as I work out things whilst trying to sleep, I don’t get as many restful hours. But that’s okay. I’d much rather the ideas flow (Insert monster grin here). Seriously. I’ve been on a natural high—finding myself full of purpose. And I’m getting things done. A wonderful feeling—a delightful change of pace, to be sure!

Last week I titled the blog “A New Beginning” and the week before it was “In Memory”—I had absolutely no idea what was going to be happening as the next weeks unfolded. Well, I can’t really say that. Ideas popped in my head, which were immediately squashed as negativity I didn’t need, nor want.

But as fate would have it, on Tuesday morning, someone at Inknbeans Press announced (on our private Facebook page) the passing of our fearless leader … our Inknbeans Press publisher. I couldn’t breathe as I read the news. It was if a monstrous elephant had just sat on my chest. I could not catch my breath. My mind literally reeled from the news.  An unbelievable idea—she could not possibly be dead. The doctors had released her from the hospital only a couple weeks before for an unrelated issue. How could she be gone?

All of her “Beans” (as she fondly called her authors) are still reeling—in denial, disbelief and/or simply unable to wrap our minds around what has happened—we had no clue this could possibly happen. She was, after all, a genuine fighter—an inspiration to all of us “Beans”. We were her Hill of Beans and quite proud of the name bestowed upon us.

She wasn’t simply our “boss” or our publisher. She was our friend, mentor, confidante, encourager—so many things. She had an uncanny way of knowing what each of us needed and she was there for us—juggling all of our individual needs with her own. She was a strong Christian, filled with the fruit of the spirit: Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self-Control. She needed all those skills, since writers can be a handful at times—doubting their abilities, dealing with writers’ block, insecurities, etc—she gracefully and masterfully helped us through it all. I think her only vice was coffee. She loved her coffee—oh, yes she did! The only other “inconsistency” (if you can call it that) was her aversion to being photographed. She was so beautiful in spirit—I couldn’t understand why she didn’t like being “captured” on camera. We teased her about being in Witness Protection … or being an undercover spy. If she was in a shot, we needed to “wipe” her from it before sharing it. Last year we did manage to get her to take a group shot—under the protection of a fan, she allowed it.

As this blog goes to “press”, we are still uncertain as to the fate of the company, our involvement with Inknbeans, and our books. The Inknbeans Press office has been closed “until further notice”, so getting additional copies, getting new books published—it’s all on hold. In limbo. We will find out more sometime next month, hopefully. I’m trying not to stress over it …

In the meantime, many of us are working on writing something up to be added to a small anthology, which will be printed, bound and presented to her family, friends and a copy for each of her authors as a memorial to her. It is rather therapeutic to do this sort of thing, so I’m glad I said yes.

We Beans have a pretty short deadline to work with and I am struggling to get it written (being therapeutic doesn’t make it any easier …). Because of that, I am going “dark” for a couple of weeks—there will be no blog till I’ve got my piece done. This blog, of course, is the last for the year—literally, since the new year begins in only a few short days. I will give myself a few weeks to concentrate on my piece for the anthology and hopefully have a new blog for the 12th or 19th of January. I may surprise myself and get it done before … but no promises.

So, to close the 2017 year … I wish you all a Blessed and Happy New Year. May 2018 hold more ups than downs—and many wonderful experiences, plus unending Joy and Peace.

Memphis Tennessee Bean Reunion, 2016

“Hill of Beans” and Boss Jo

For my dear friend, Maaijo “Boss” Lowe, may you rest in peace at the feet of Jesus with an ever-fresh, steaming cup of coffee. We Beans know you’ll be chatting up all the authors that have gone before you and spreading your indomitable love everywhere you go. I miss you so much already …

 

 

A New Beginning

OOH, TALK ABOUT BEING SIDETRACKED! I’ve tucked my edits away as I’ve worked toward digging out a few important pieces of furniture for my new space at Open Ground Studios. The OGS director texted me on Wednesday, saying the space was ready for me—talk about the ultimate early Christmas present! Edits put aside, I’ve been dreaming and scheming about how I can transform my space—I pulled together a few things (tape measure and a few tools) and drove over to begin to tidy and measure my space. I mopped the floor—in hindsight, probably should have done that last. I kinda cleaned the walls, knocked down the cobwebs and dust hiding on the windowsills (I’ve three windows—insert grin—plus a windowed door).
Then I found the key to the storage space and wrestled my box of IKEA bits into my office—they needed to be put together. Though that took much longer than I figure, I was able to successfully put together a six drawer rolling unit—it looks great!

I left OGS completely spent, with plans to return on a Thursday to deliver a few large items: two small filing cabinets, a smallish table and (now that I know it will fit—remember the measuring tape?) … a corner unit computer desk. Oh, and that was fun—not! Took two days of attempting to dismantle, then I gave up on it (I’ll have to reassemble what I’ve done as it’s staying at home). I decided to take a drop-table secretary desk instead. I’ve cleaned it out and it’s ready to go. It’s much heavier than anticipated, so getting it out of the house, into the truck and back out at the other end will be interesting … this is how I’ll be spending my Friday. I’m hoping there might be somebody at OGS to help with the desk … we’ll see.

So … I also needed to return all the stuff I had in my flat file and cubby. Most of it was done Thursday, but I’ve one more load to go (I think). Then, I’ll be going to Home Depot to look for brackets and boards for some shelving. I might even get a couple of boards I’ll need to cut down and some wheels to make a rolling table/platform. Still working on that in my head.

Sigh—no matter how “small” the move, it’s a nuisance … to say the least (she said with a grin).

Christmas is this weekend (Sunday/Monday). I’ve promised to bring some yummy food, so Saturday will be my day to prep/cook all of it. I’ll be spending Sunday at church, then at my daughter and son-in-law’s home for a Christmas Eve dinner. Monday morning—and most of the day—will be spent with his family and a few friends. So … before it gets crazy, I want to wish you all safe travels and, as you settle in with your friends and family, a blessed Christmastime.

May Peace and Joy surround you this weekend and beyond. 🎄 Merry Christmas 🎄

In Memory …

ONE OF MY MOST FAVOURITE actresses is Dame Judi Dench. When I read this article—found on a friend’s Facebook page—with a goofy photo of her, it started me to thinking …

If I were to plant trees in memory of my deceased love ones, which would I choose? With my Celtic roots, I would definitely want to research the history behind ones found in Scotland and Ireland for my family.

I do have quite a few loved ones that have left this earthly plane in my lifetime: all of my grandparents, all of my uncles, one (blood relative) aunt, my parents, my mother-in-law, my husband, a number of friends …

After reading the article, I found that Dame Judi was very particular about which trees she chose. Her friends either had an affinity to the tree or there was some personality trait that clicked with the particular tree chosen. I think I would need to research the strengths and character of each tree—and of each person before I began. I would be limited to how many I could plant, since I have a meager, not-quite-acre—on a serious hillside (with the house set in the middle of it all).

The easiest to choose would be for my dad. I’m not sure I’d only plant the Jacaranda … maybe I’d add a couple of other trees as well, plus roses. He was an avid gardener with the greenest of green thumbs. And he loved nature. I’d probably dedicate an area with various small to medium sized plants that would fair well under the umbrella of a Jacaranda. My mom loved roses—especially pinks. I think I’d probably combine their trees/garden and add forget-me-nots since pink and blue were her favourite colours.

Mom’s mom—my maternal grandmother—passed away when I was fairly young and I honestly don’t remember much about her, except that she was a wonderful cook, making sure her grandchildren had sweets and cakes to enjoy on our visits. I haven’t found any photos of her—I think my cousin has all of those, along with much of my grandfather’s photos. So I’m not sure what I’d plant in her memory. In his memory, I’d probably do best with a cactus (don’t get me wrong—I loved him, but he could be very prickly at times) … my brothers saw him in a much different light than I (I’m sure it was a gender thing after hearing stories told by my mother).

My dad’s dad (my paternal grandfather) also died before I really had a chance to get to know him—think I was only four or five. My dad looked up to him from a very early age, but all I really remember was him sitting under an old, sprawling avocado tree with most—if not all—of his grandchildren sitting or running around on the lawn around him (he was definitely the patriarch of the family). So, perhaps an avocado. I was a young adult when my paternal grandmother died, so I have many memories of her. She was the only one to send me books for my birthdays and at Christmas. This grandmother was my dad’s step mom—his birth-mom died during the flu epidemic when he was entering toddlerhood. I think, for both of his moms, I’d plant gardenias … or perhaps citrus (or maybe one of each) and forget-me-nots underneath. Not sure why—just seems appropriate. Perhaps it’s because I associate the town my dad grew up in with those plants. Both of them were of German descent, so maybe a little research will yield a beautiful tree that would survive my climate.

My husband’s mom—Czech and UK descent—and all other loved ones will need research … it’s going to be a mighty forest when I’m done (which makes me happy), but I must consider my veggie garden in the process. All trees may need to be planted only on the north-east side of the property so I will have sun to nourish my edible garden—and I don’t interfer with neighours’ viewshed.

What have you done to memorialise family and friends? I’d love to hear.

Hmm. A last minute thought: Jesus’ life/death/character was memorialised by a pine tree, in addition to the red/white candy cane and a cross …

Speaking of that … only two more Sundays until Christmas! Hanukkah began on the 12th … and all the other holidays will soon follow. Wishing you all a Merry, Happy (you fill in the appropriate blanks). Whatever way you choose to celebrate, may your holiday be blessed abundantly.

 

Winding Up … Winding Down

{Oops. My apologies—I was having technical difficulties and was unable to get into my account, so couldn’t post this until now.}

IN WAYS, THE SEASON IS just beginning to warm up, in other ways, it’s finally winding down. Today is the very last day of my crazy book signing/craft show events.

The wind-down allows me to evaluate what worked and what did not. And it allows me more time to spend with friends and family as the holidays heat up. I’ve had to say no to friends and family so many times this year, I’m sure they thought I was a workaholic.

Being able to say yes feels wonderful! I love when I can mix work with pleasure, too—the two-day Christmas at the Inns was delightful, allowing me to photograph the Inns in all their Christmas splendour … and I was able to have some quality time plus a delicious meal with good friend. I’ve known this cool lady since we moved up into my little paradise—a good thirty-plus years! We have a mutual love for cars and photography, so it was natural to share the two days of fun with her.

There are a few more photography-rich events we are doing together, plus a concert before year’s end and I have a Writerly Christmas luncheon to attend, a sports car club Christmas luncheon, time with family, too … my social calendar is almost as crazy as my business calendar was earlier in the year.

It’s all about spending time with friends and family. Friends I’ve neglected through the year. I haven’t been quite so bad with immediate family—I’ve been able to spend time with my daughter and son-in-law fairly frequently. My brothers and their families … well, sadly, that’s something else again—with no one close by, it’s hard. Now … it’s time to catch up on all that has been going on—somehow.

The winding-down means I can relax, too. I can enjoy the holiday—my very favourite season. For me, it means Christmas lights, decorations, decorating the tree … giving of ones self. Nothing is rushed. Everything is savoured. Enjoyed. And lovingly shared. That’s the way is should be.

So, my friends, make sure to set aside time to truly enjoy the season—slow down, breathe. Fill yourself with the beauty of the time of year—whether it’s filled with snow, rain or sun … find it in you to be gentler, caring, giving. And forgiving.

May you find this day, this weekend and week to come blessed and filled with joy!

Ramblings

ON MY WAY TO FINDING A WEATHER station in Las Vegas, the new home of a friend of mine, I got sidetracked. I did find the proper station so I could follow the weather patterns, but also found myself reminiscing over long ago family trips.

Probably long before the “new” Highway 101 and 5 were well established, my dad used to drive us up and down the old two-lane Hyws 101, 99 and 395 to take us on our holiday-to-the-relatives and our annual vacations. In my wanderings with the map, many memories were triggered. So many. In the past, I’ve actually retraced—or at least tried to retrace my dad’s paths … trying to find any bit of the old roads. Using key landmarks helped, but even those finally disappeared in the name of progress. But lacking landmarks doesn’t stop me. I love poking into the corners of my past.

One path I have not tried—and there are so many memories attached to this route—is Highway 395. June Lake is somewhere off of Hwy 395 and there are some fond memories from that area—both with me as a kid and as a young wife with my husband and my youngest brother. My weather station hunting had me deciding to trace the road on the map to see how feasible it would be to make a trip. It begins just west of Hisperia in the high desert of Southern California, which is about 40 miles south of Barstow. It traverses the desert along the eastern edge of California and up into the mountains, jogging in and out of Nevada several times on its way up into Oregon. It dead ends the small town of Riley at the junction of Hwys 395 an20 (which travels east to west). Well, that’s what I thought. I went back to verify the name of that little town … and after a lot more searching, found that it actually dead ended in the city of Spokane, Washington near the surface streets of S. Lincoln St. and W. 4th Ave (sharing Hwy 90). Mind you, my recollections are that my dad only drove the California section—and only parts of that. I may be wrong … but I won’t know till I look at the map in more detail (was using my smart phone’s map app first, then focused on the route only, once I switched to the laptop computer)—I wasn’t looking at what was around the route.

But the entire route, my friends, is not a quick little jaunt—that amounts to a 1,170+ mile drive! So, if I decide to make it an adventure, I’ll probably stick to the California section. As it is, that will take quite some time—perhaps three separate trips. And, with winter setting in soon, the majority of it will need to wait til spring and summer—I do not have a snow-worthy vehicle. Sure—I’m capable of driving in snow … and I could get chains for the snowy bits, but I’d rather not deal with that much cold and be putting my safety in other driver’s hands (I know I can drive in it, but what about other tourists?) …

So, I will be writing a travel blog sometime next year (maybe) about mapping out the route, packing and the actual trip (I’m sure there will be plenty of photos to insert)—in addition to my “regular” trip blog about another travel across the Pond … this 2018 trip may be my “Swan Song”—the last trip to the UK and abroad, so I’m going to do it up right.

I’ve done so little traveling of late—I am getting restless. On Black Friday, I turned my errand-running into a driving adventure  I took back roads and routes I’ve seldom (if ever) taken to get to my destinations and had a blast—and the weather was magnificent. I’m thinking I need to do this more often—even once the rain begins to be a nuisance. Perhaps once a week will suffice. I’ll have to play with timing to see how it goes—I’m a big fan of spontaneity, so who knows when my next jaunt will be (insert huge grin …)

May your Friday, your weekend and the whole of next week be blessed with spontaneous happenings.