There’s More to Me Than …


A COUPLE OF WEEKS AGO, I mentioned in passing the personalised story I’m writing. I’ve never really addressed that little talent in the past. That and my spontaneous storytelling done in the classroom (and libraries). I can’t imagine why I haven’t. Me thinks it might have to do with “time”… my two or three looming deadlines and what little spare time I do have is usually spent recovering from all my craziness.

So, why on earth am I bringing it up now? Now, when I should be diving even deeper into getting my already-published books republished and my needs-to-be-edited book published. Now, when I should be learning how to market said books—why now?

I believe that the time has come to begin marketing them so that when I finally have the first four or five books of the Scymaria series in the virtual bookstores, it will be time to get serious about reintroducing the storybooks and storytelling. Storybooks and storytelling cannot be mass-produced like my fantasy series. They take time—boy … do they ever take time! My storybooks are handmade, from the very first word, all the way through to the printing and binding. And I can only work on a few of them at a time. I think I’ve been a bit optimistic in promising a finished book in 6-8 weeks. And my current storybook’s deadline is hanging over my head. I may need to adjust that. I’ll see how I’m doing in a week before I notify my client—hmmm … perhaps sooner than that. I probably should not have started it until I had the edits done <insert eye roll … serious eye roll> but there’s nothing I can do about that now. I think future applications will be tweaked with an “8-10 week” production time …

The oral storytelling isn’t much different. About a half hour is carved out of a day to introduce the idea, to glean names, characters and descriptive words from my audience—anywhere from Kinders up to Middle Schoolers. Then the magic begins. For the younger ones, it’s simply a fun story. I take those element shared by my audience and weave them into a short story. For those beginning to learn how to create stories through classroom lessons, it’s an added teaching tool for the teachers, and for the students it’s a “learning diversion” from their usual class work. A win-win for teachers and students alike. For me? Well, whilst helping teachers and students, it’s just plain ‘ol fun! But, again … I cannot do more than one or two a week. I still have other creative endeavours waiting in the curtains. This is easier to keep manageable—I can schedule them on the calendar as time allows.

I can hardly wait to get this one I’m working on finished. It’s been so fun writing it—very different from my Scymaria series, since this one is for 4-7 year old age range. I am creating the art that will go on the pages also. This is what will take the most time. I am excited with the direction the story is taking itself. Yes—still seat of the pants writing <insert grin> with my all of my writings and storytelling.

I guess you could say that these storybooks are limited editions. One of a kind. And not many made within a years time. I think I like it that way. It keeps them sweet and charming … and fun to read—way beyond the day that they are received. Keep an eye out here and on my Facebook page for more information about when I’ll be making them available to the public!

I must get back to my writing, but before I leave you—three more days till we ring in the new year, so I’d like to wish you a Happy New Year. Out with the old 2018 … and in with the spankin’ new 2019. May it prove to be positively unforgettable. Stay safe and I’ll meet you here next week, in 2019 to bring you the first blog of the new year.

H A P P Y    N E W    Y E A R  !




Wishing You A Blessed Christmas

THIS YEAR, CHRISTMAS FALLS BETWEEN Fridays, so before I forget, I’d like to take this time to wish you, one and all, a very blessed and Merry Christmas. My humble gift to all of you is a wee bit of a Christmas song from Vicki Swan and Jonny Dyer.
You can find out more about this musical duo at

For me, Christmas and Easter are the holidays for celebrating. Gift-giving, decorations, singing—celebrating the birth and death of our Saviour. All of this has become part and parcel to the season. I love gift-giving, decorating—no matter what the holiday is … but all holidays—especially Christmas and Easter—have become overly commercialised and that saddens me.

As the saying goes, “Jesus is the reason for the season”—from Christmas, all the way to Easter. For me, the accuracy of the dates on which they are celebrated is a moot point. It’s the simple fact that Jesus has been given to us as a gift from God. A precious gift that keeps on giving. He was born as a gift to us and He died for us—taking all of our sins upon himself in his death. We celebrate what God and Jesus did for us. We’re not celebrating a simply birth. Nor are we celebrating the death. We celebrate what those events represent. For me, these are wow-moments worthy of much celebration. It’s the Christmas Spirit—which should live inside of us all year long. Perhaps during the actual holidays the spirit explodes, but is that a bad thing? For me, absolutely not.

But … it can be overwhelming for some. Perhaps it’s due to the loss of a loved one, or maybe it’s for some other reason. Holidays in general can ignite memories, triggering an otherwise managed depression or sadness, pushing some over the edge.

So, my friends … when you find a “Scrooge” in your midst that cannot be dissuaded, it’s time to turn down your enthusiasm. No, you don’t need to shut it off—simply reign it in when you are around that person. I have a few friends that are triggered by the never-ending Christmas music—something I adore—that is pumped through speakers at the malls and offices, ice rinks and even on the streets. There is no escaping it and it is slowly driving them crackers-crazy.

There are things we can do for these fragile friends of ours. Find quiet places to spend time with them: take a walk—away from all the hustle and bustle, invite them over for a quiet lunch or dinner … and surround them with loving prayer, to help them through the holiday. Enjoy the holidays with them. Save the enthusiastic holiday cheer for your like-minded friends.

Until next Friday, I would like to wish you all a blessed and Merry Christmas. Have a fantastic Friday, weekend and a not-too-crazy week (unless you like that kind of thing <eye roll>). Now, I’m off to work on Christmas cards—better late than never—and persimmon pudding baking! Cheers!

David and the Goliath of Progress …


WELL, I MADE THE MISTAKE OF implementing the most recent WordPress update—prior to posting my last blog entry. Updates are supposed to be improvements. For this particular update, absolutely not. Even as I write this, I can see it will not be saved. Trying to manually update entries as I type is a fail. And it appears there are mixed messages as to whether it actually saves what I write in the automatic mode as well. It seems there are a number of features I liked that have gone by the wayside as well—like the tagging and advance posting abilities. I don’t see them anywhere! Still not sure how much of this new system works, or if there are some serious bugs that need vanquishing …

Maybe those features are there, I just don’t see them (that in itself is a negative!).

Sometimes progress is not progress at all. That is the kind of thing I have no time for—not at all. Facebook is always making changes in the name of “progress” and to make it more user-friendly—not! Well, there may be a few changes that have been positive, but I’d say that the majority make “life on Facebook” not nearly as fun. I’m beginning to feel the same about WordPress.

With WordPress’ new editor, it appears I’m stuck writing my paragraphs in “blocks”, which is weird. Is it simplified for dummies or is there some hidden reason behind it? I really don’t know, but this dummy sure can’t figure it out. Like I said before—I do have a problem with changes that don’t seem to have a reason—especially when the whole process is not explained sufficiently. If there was a tutorial somewhere, then that would be fine—but make it easy to fine, please! We’re not all Einsteins, after all …

I went into the Help arena and already—on day two of the change—a knowledgeable person is saying it’s a great step … backwards. That is as far from being “user friendly” Boy, can I agree on that point! I plan on doing more research in the help section and on my site, but not at the moment.

More research—that is exactly what I did. The above was written on Sunday. It took me a while, but I was able to figure out how to switch back to Classic Editor. Thank God! I’m not sure how long that will last, since these kind of changes (with options to use the “old way”) usually take away the fall-back option at some point. Unless they fix all of their glitches or have some sort of tutorial, I will be grieving the loss of a user friendly site for blogging. Whether I will move on or struggle to learn the “new way” is yet to be seen. As the old saying goes, “only time will tell …” Sigh.

This “David” feels overwhelmed and thinks the Goliath of Progress is about to take a win this time around. But the fight is far from done. Perhaps David will prevail yet.

<giggle … > Well, score one for Davif—an update came out yesterday—updated automatically. So, we’ll see how things go.  That doesn’t mean I’ll switch to the “new and improved” version anytime soon—but the update is a step (I hope) in the right direction.

In the meantime, on other technology fronts, did I ever mention that I acquired (for free) a behemoth of a printer for my studio? An Epson. I do love the Epsons. This one is not new—the date on the back is Dec, 2002—a dinosaur in technological terms. Hmmm. Maybe that’s why, once I rolled up my sleeves, it only took a couple days to figure it out. Lines in the printed image sorted out after four hours of tinkering—without having to resort to buying seven new, very expensive ink cartridges, nor an equally expensive service call. (It’s not a bad thing, since I paid nothing but sweat equity for the unit. I’m on a natural high—things are going my way for a change! Yay!

David-1, Goliath-0 in this round.

There are other tech issues waiting for me, but I’m going to bathe in this win for a bit before moving on to the next techno-problem.

And with that, I am going to bid you adieu.  May your Friday, weekend and week to come be filled with triumphs, no matter their size. Have a blessed week. See you next Friday!

Plan B May Be Plan A

I AROSE QUITE EARLY (for me) on Tuesday. I’m not sure what possessed me to do it … other than I wanted to catching the sun rise with a beautiful backdrop of clouds. I was sure the display would—should—be breathtaking. So, from the comfort of the house, looking east out my kitchen window, I waited. (Click on images for more detail.)Predawn image

As I waited, the predawn songs of the earliest risers floated to my ears, warming my heart. A singular songbird, then a scrub jay … then the roosters. Bit by bit the air was fillled with song, making me smile.

My Wunderground Weather app said “first light” was at 6:34. “Sunrise” was at 7:04. I waited. The last time I tried this, I was in place for “sunrise” and the display (if there was any at all) was completely done by the time I arrived at the window. I’ve tried to get myself going on many occasions so I could enjoy the lit-up sky, to no avail. Sandman kept pummelling me, telling me sleep was far more important.

Cloudy sky image“First light” came and went with only the moody monotone clouds. Beautiful, but not what I had hoped for. Patiently, I waited. I was greeted with birds of all sizes at my strategically placed feeders. Nuthatches, sparrows of all types, a solitary scrub jay … seeing them brought joy to my heart. Sunrise imageAs “sunrise” approached, only the faintest blush of colour painted the clouds. Nice. I waited. And waited—with great anticipation. A bit more of a dusting of colour painted the clouds … but nothing more. Sunrise imageMy heart sank. I was truly looking forward to God’s glory in the form of a robust, colourful blaze in the sky. Apparently there were far too many unseen clouds somewhere, obscuring what I figured should have been a spectacular sight. My wait for a broad stroke of beautiful colours was disappointing, but the sights and sounds of the morning waking dampened the disappointment considerably. Cloudy sky imageThen I remembered something a friend said at a church gathering the night before. She was talking about when plans go astray. To put it in a nutshell, what she was trying to say was our plan B (or C) may be God’s plan A. It’s a good lesson for me to hold onto, since my plans seldom go as anticipated. It’s taken a long time to realise, but now I seldom stress over it—always “chilling” and seeing where the new path will lead me. I’ve never thought about why the plans didn’t go as I wanted. I should know better—after all, I’ve tried to direct my story (series) the way I wanted and learned the hard way that I’m not in control … never was!

Christmas lights and trees imageThat Tuesday morning, I enjoyed the glory of hearing and seeing the first sights and sounds of an early morning … and enjoyed the subtle blush of the sunrise. Whether I find myself planning another early rise or not, I know I need to simply enjoy God’s plan A.

May your Friday and this upcoming weekend and week to come be filled to overflowing with wonderful, serendipitous plans—whether they be your Plan A … or God’s.

Me an’ Technology … and the Blessings of Family

WELL, I STARTED A BLOG POST EARLY in the week and due to one stupid stroke of my finger, it was lost forever. Usually WordPress will save, but apparently I wrote so quickly that it didn’t have time between writing and my errant finger stroke … and with my sieve of a memory, there was no way to replicate it. So sad … and it was a really good post.

So, instead …

Time with family is precious. I’m retired, so I should have plenty of time to visit all of my family, right? Well … I may be “retired” but that doesn’t mean my plate is lacking. My books, my art—and simply trying to rein-in Mother Nature in and around my yard keeps me more than busy. I try not to fill my time with busyness (spinning my wheels), but to actually accomplish things. I’ve had a whole lot of both in this season of my life. I think I’ve had more than my share of technology issues—still dealing with some new problems <insert eye roll> … both computer and car <grumble> so I am looking forward to resolution in all areas so I can get on with life. Life includes spending time with family and friends.

My trip to the Northwest prior to and during Thanksgiving was amazing. I left my home cold and dry … and heard that there was rain soon after. I arrived in Vancouver Washington, with threats of rain. Their airport is certainly set up for the wet weather—the waiting areas outside of baggage claim (for people and cars alike) are completely covered. No chance of getting wet until you drove away from the loading areas. Nice! Visiting with a once-upon-a-time neighbour (and her sister) was a delightful treat. We had an early Thanksgiving meal together. I only had part of a day to visit (arrived after 5pm, left next day at 11am)—entirely too short a time, so I will be returning. There was another friend I was trying to work into the schedule (but, sadly failed), so next time I will make sure it’s on the agenda! I was even able to see her son (and his family)—oh, my … all grown up! And his kiddos looked so much like him as a kid that it was spooky! Rain came and went, thankfully, as my next connection was by train.

After my day-long ride (arrived at 8:30pm-ish), I was greeted in Chemalt with freezing (really!) temps and no place to wait for my ride. I wandered over the four-lane highway to the Pilot station—thankfully they had a Subway sandwich shop attached to it. I ordered my very late dinner and nommed on it until my brother arrived (bought a sandwich for him, too, as he hadn’t eaten dinner). The last time I saw him was at my niece’s wedding in the late summer, but out of his “element”. It was our little brother’s daughter’s wedding. Now I was going to see this brother’s dream plot and his daughter (they are living in two RVs on the lot until his dream home is build) and spend two nights in his RV—I loved every minute of the bohemian living! Just the basics. Delightful! And toasty warm compared to the 28-32F temps outside. Warmer clothes would have been good, but … layers worked too <giggle>—I really think I could do this winter camping experience all by myself. I may have to investigate getting a small trailer to do some exploring …

On Thanksgiving Day, I switched from Dave’s RV to his ex’s home—she is very much still part of the family, and I’m glad!—just down (hmmm … or is “up”) the river from him. A beautiful and toasty warm home right on the river in Sunriver, Oregon. We had snow—big fluffy flakes <grin>—with our Thanksgiving Dinner. Lovely. Absolutely lovely! The next day my daughter and her hubby showed up and stayed up in the loft of Kathy’s house (I was on the first floor). Family together-time was perfect. On Friday, the first thing we did (after breakfast) was to go for a walk around a lava flow—Lava Butte in the Newberry National Volcanic Monument. I told myself—and my family—I would not be climbing up to the top of the cinder cone … nope. Yet, after they had left me behind to goof around … I decided to go up high enough to get a few photos. Then, when I realised I was nearly to the top, I decided to keep plodding on. I was congratulated by people descending the “hill” (base was nearly at 4000ft, top of cone was above 5000ft and the road was a fairly steep 8% grade … closed with the snow and ice on the ground)—I was leaning heavily on my cane to put one foot in front of the other. I made it. I was so glad I kept going. It was a spectacular vista.

After a well-deserved rest back at Kathy’s, we spent the rest of the day at Dave’s Sunriver VR store, playing with virtual creations.  I wish I had pictures of me playing. It was so much fun—I need to see if I can find a local VR store to experiment more. Our evening was spend dining out together, adding Dave and Kathy’s son (and his girlfriend) to the mix. A great way to end the day.

My daughter, son-in-law and I left on Sunday morning, timing our departure so the roads wouldn’t be too icy … and we had a nice, long drive back to Monterey County. I was glad to be home, but already missed the family time we’d left behind.

A week to remember, with friends and family. Those are the memories we all want to put into our back pocket to pull out and reminisce over. I want more of them. To do that, I need to figure out how to balance my “work” and “play” at home with my need for family time. But right now … I need to do a little troubleshooting to find out what is wrong with two computers and wait for a friend (God bless her) to come over to troubleshoot my car problems.

Now that it is December—and as we truly head into the Christmas season—my wishes for you are to find the balance needed to spend quality time with family, to make lasting memories and to find peace amidst all the flurry of activities. Until next week, be safe, find joy and serendipity to ease you through the weeks to come.

Photos are not quite “in order” but that’s fine. Enjoy: