At It Again … Book Signings and Art

I’M OF THE OPINION THAT MANY EVENT planners conspire against us humble vendors. Back-to-back weekends with a few events on Thursday and Friday, just prior to one of the weekend events can certainly be daunting.

Joyce and I have survived two years of that (or has it been more?), Joyce Oroz and dj jameson smithworking together in the fall/winter with all of the holiday events (Halloween, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas—am I forgetting any?). As we drag our way through the last few events of the year, we keep saying (every year) that we need to spread out our events more evenly throughout the year (adding to what we have), so that we can pick and choose which ones we do in the latter part of the year.

Teehee … Joyce managed to find a couple events for the new year already, so we’re already at it again. We finished our first event on 6May (a Saturday)—new to us … and absolutely great for a mystery writer, but apparently not so much for a fantasy writer. The winery seemed like such a great venue to catch people as they came out of their wine tasting and as the headed into the craft/vendor area. Guglielmo Winery Book SigningWe were placed in what should have been a prime location, but we found people skirting around us, not wanting to connect. Those that did connect bought Joyce’s mystery books, but not mine—I chatted with a quite a few people and did sell a few, so it wasn’t a complete loss. Some would listen to our spiel and say they’d think about it … and if they had money left over, they’d stop back and buy—but didn’t. Guess they spent their money elsewhere in the vendor’s fair.

The “background” music did not help. It truly was difficult to carry on conversations with those that did stop, whether their stopping was out of curiosity or an honest desire to purchase. It didn’t help that both Joyce and I no longer have strong voices to talk over the music. And my not having two of my three books on Amazon further damaged my ability to sell. I really need to get those two books republished with Inknbeans Press—soooon!

All of that aside, our next two events were literally back-to-back two-day, then one-day events. First up was the low-key and delightful craft event at Watsonville Watsonville Hospital Book Signing (and Art)Hospital in their conference room, from 10am-4pm on Thursday and Friday, 11-12 May. I had both Painterly and Writerly hats donned for that.

Next (and the finale for the very busy, long weekend) was the Aromas Hills Artisan’s event, Aromas Country Garden Tour on Saturday, 13 May from 10am-4pm. Attendees began at the Aromas Grange to pick up the Garden Tour map, then meander to the homes to admire the rich variety of gardens … and find AHA members displaying their Aromas Country Garden Tour/Book Signingwares—Joyce Oroz and I scored a prime setting to display and hawk our books. An amazing 2.5acre garden. We Scored A Fantastic GardenWe relished every sale, but knew people were there for the gardens, so it was more to get the word out … a PR day, so to speak—and to thoroughly enjoy the glorious day, as well.

We’ve had a quiet spell for a wee bit—time to spend with family on Mother’s Day before I begin chatting with a few business managers these next couple weeks to see if they’d be open to having two authors cluttering up their space for a few hours. We’re going to chat with the proprietor of Jardines de San Juan in San Juan Bautista—after we have a lovely lunch—to see if we can do a Restaurant Garden Delights Beautiful Garden at Jardines Jardines de San Juan's gardensigning in their beautiful garden … and check on a few other businesses in the town, also—especially since one of Joyce’s mysteries is set in San Juan Bautista. Slowly but surely, we will have events scattered throughout the year. And hopefully we’ll be able to keep them on the schedule for years to come.

In the meantime, I certainly hope those mothers, mothers-to-be—and those with a seed of an idea to become a motherHappy Mothers Day—amongst my readers had a memorable Mother’s Day. Though belated, Happy Mother’s Day to all of you!

I’ve been hunkered down working on the edit for the book that started the whole thing … Secrets Beyond Scymaria. Editing ... ... And More EditingThere may be a few changes, but it will not change the direction of the story. I can hardly wait to get it back into print. But please know that you can get both paperback and hardbound copies of the original printing via my SquareMarket store and I’ve decided to extended the sale for all three—if purchased as a trio, whether two hardbound and one paperback or all three paperback.

So, my dear readers … may this Friday and the week to come be one filled with delight, surprise and cheer …

 

 

Gally One and What IS This Crazy Weather …?

[Dear Readers: My apologies for the length of this blog—no good spot to cut it. Sigh.]

WELL, IT’S BEEN A VERY INTERESTING TWO weeks. Between threats of major storms, I managed to make it down to The LAX Travelodge—reasonable traffic (considering it’s LA), not bad accommodations and service for what we needed. And not too bad a walk (0.5mile—three long blocks) to the event hotel—Marriott at LAX. That is … if my knee wasn’t throwing fits and the wind was trying to turn my umbrella inside out. Still, all in all, it was not bad.

I left home on Wednesday and made my ritual over-night stop at Lebec, hoping I would be in good enough shape to trudge around taking pictures—beautiful mountainous countryside. Mmm … not if I wanted to keep my camera dry and me upright. Fits of rain intermingled with bigger fits of wind (gusts) … and exhaustion kept me from playing with my good camera. I was going to take a few Blustery Skies ...shots from the window (a south-easterly view), but really not much of a view—18-wheelers were parked between the hotel and my view. Drats. Well, this one is from my return trip.

Since I ended up with loads of “chill-time” on my hands in Lebec, I caught up on what wasForcasting Rain happening at home via my iPhone and Facebook. The beginnings of a monster storm front started to dump rain … by the time I arrived in LA (actually, Inglewood) the next day, the front had hit the entire coast line—including LA. It only took a little over 1.5 hrs to get to the Travelodge from Lebec and thankfully they were able to accommodate my early arrival (yay). So I settled in and leisurely Dr. Who Paraphinalia unpacked before trudging up to the Marriott. Registration officially opened at 3pm … so I wandered around up in the Lobby for a bit before heading downstairs—plenty to do. By the time I got down there, they were already allowing people through (around 2:15-ish). Score! No queuing, no waiting! Lovely.

Whilst waiting in the faux-line, I met two gentlemen from Canada. After I was asked a few questions—I won’t say what, as John will probably use the same ones next year … we exchanged con ribbons—not my first since I was activelyRibbon Collecting Begins seeking people out up in the Lobby to share my ribbons (and hope to get some in exchange). John and Jake turned out to be hilarious—quick, dry wit that had me in stitches. We ran into each other over and over all weekend—and they had new costumes for each day. Jake did purchase all three of my books on Saturday—I was ecstatic! If he likes them, he promised to do a review and spread the word up in Canada! Yay! Saturday was the “dress your best” day—costumes were absolutely magnificent on everyone!

I nearly forgot the two Thursday events: trip to the local InNOut Burger place (unofficial)—poor locals never know what hit ’em—and Ice Cream Social Ice Cream Socialthe ice cream social (official) … both were tons of fun (but I cheated—took a taxi A Sneak Peek at Dealer's Roomto and from the InNOut Burger spot … I vividly remember the walk last year—LOL).

Captain Jack

Captain Jack

The costuming all weekend was amazing—especially on Awesome Weeping AngelSaturday as I mentioned. Weeping Angles (very few this year, but that made the ones I saw more special), tons of different Osgood or Zygon ...? Third DoctorDoctors, oodles of Amys, Daleks, TARDIS costumes in various shapes and sizes, a delightful K-9 Lovely Cardboard K-9(full size, but of cardboard and pulled about on a leash), Osgood … oooh, the list goes on. This year, I chose to not cosplay, but rather wear a hodge-podge of Dr. Who things: 4th Doctor’s hat and scarf, question mark pin (I didn’t realise so many doctors used that—three of them to be precise … do you A Bevy of Doctors Sutek and Mummiesknow which ones without googling it?), bow tie of the 9th My "Cosplay" AttireDoctor, vest of Sarah Jane … etc. I left the Osgood lab coat in my bag—no glasses (they broke the week before I left) to make it official. I also left Sarah Jane’s raincoat behind. I didn’t want to be lugging it around—no cloak room. Next year … I plan on making my cosplay outfits (only two) much more special. Next year—that is, if I’m able to manage scoring a pass …

I did have an umbrella—a Doctor Who “special” umbrella (insert huge grin) Dr. Who Umbrella-Inside Dr. Who Umbrella-Outsidethat I found a rubber tip for (I used it as a cane on Thursday—oh, yeah … I’ll explain that later) I finally got to use it asUmbrella ... and Crutch an umbrella on Friday and Saturday. It’s gorgeous—and huge! I didn’t need any other protection and stayed relatively dry—once I worked out how to keep it from becoming a “rain collector” (sniggle) and still keep the rain off.

I scoped out the Dealers Room as early on as I couldDr. Who Pins and found my two missing pins for myA Sneak Peek at Dealers Room hat—the War Doctor and 12th Doctor (Capaldi). Yay! That made me happy!

My buddies that came down late had awesome costumes! Renée was a very posh Dalek and Pam had a dress with the exploding TARDIS. Friends' Cosplay OutfitsMichelle chose to be neutral—she’s not into cosplay, which is perfectly fine! She and I did a number of the talks together … we only occasionally saw Pam or Renée (at Gally) since they had their own agendas for the talks.

Ood

Gallifrey One was amazing, running smoothly throughout the weekend. The all-volunteer staff did a marvelous job. Kudos—to all of them—for their tireless work that made the event such a fun time. I didn’t do Best Doctor Cosplay Ever What Can You Do With Ribbons??Queen Elisabeth or Zygon ?? Dalek Ood and Nurseany of the autograph or photo sessions like I did last year as I was feeling a bit “poor”—unwilling to spend the money for the opportunities. I did attend quite a few talks, both in the main room and auxiliary rooms.  And … unfortunately, I did not go on Sunday. My injured knee (remember the “caned” umbrella? That was not a Ooooh!prop—I trashed my knee … and ankles at the end of January), using a cane instead of the crutch for two days and all the walking took its toll on yours truly. So instead, I packed up my bags, put them in the car and headed home—I was going to try to do it in one day, but knew I needed the down-time in Lebec, so I made reservations at “my” Motel 6.

My trip home was relatively uneventful … Leaving LebecStop For BreakfastOminous Cloudsuntil I was about fifteen minutes away from my house. Flooding, downed trees/power lines and road closures from slides Accumulation of Rain (Wed-Mon)Flooded CulvertDowned Trees—Across Power LinesMore Downed Trees On My StreetUmbrella Damage Umbrella Damage Umbrella Damagebrought the highway to a standstill. I attempted to take alternate routes, but the country roads couldn’t handle the amount of rain and were completely flooded, so back to the highway to wait it out with everyone else. It took over an hour to drive a normally 15-minute drive. I came home to no power and a boil water notice. A tree came down and took out the water pipe for our little community. They had it fixed by the time I got home, but contaminants were in the system (my neighbor had told me to just stay where I was, but I really just wanted to come home, so I had steeled myself for the worst). It wasn’t too bad—that’s what blankets, coats and bottled water are for … and power was back on 24 hours after I got home (still on a Boil Water order … hope that ends soon because hand-washing dishes with boiled water is a nuisance). A glass-topped table with an opened umbrella toppled over. Only damage was to the umbrella (yay) and an aluminum ladder that mysteriously moved in the winds. There’s lots of very soggy ground so I’m treading lightly. I consider myself extremely lucky. No, let me amend that comment—I am blessed. There’s no luck involved.

Many people have standing water—or even literally running water—rushing through their homes. The roads are not just flooded, but in many cases the foundation of the road has given way and whole sections of road are gone. In the case of Big Sur, slides and flooding are the least of the problem—one bridge near Pfeiffer has been deemed unsafe and will need to come down and rebuilt. Our area is not the only area that has been inundated by the storms. Dams and roads in Oroville, San Jose and Yosemite (to name o few) have been compromised with flooding and erosion. Getting out from under all of this damage is going to take time  … and money—lots of it—and I’m not sure California has planned for a catastrophe of this magnitude.

I still have to clean up around my property plus empty out my refrigerator and freezer—”better to be safe than sorry” is the adage I’m holding on to—then make a trip to the dump to toss the spoiled food. We have a few days respite before the next round comes.

My biggest concern is that I live on a hill … I’m praying that my hillside stays put.

Dear readers, please enjoy your Friday and the coming week. If you’re a praying sort, please pray for California and all of the effected residents—for their safety, for dams to hold back their burgeoning water supply and for this rain to slow to a trickle for the remainder of the rainy season.

The drought is over for the majority of the state—a blessing. Have a serendipitous week, my friends.

 

 

 

Traveling Light-Part Four

FINALLY … WE GET TO THE REASON I started this whole

Welcome to Memphis

Welcoming sign at Steve’s home

series. My trip revolved around lugging my books all the way to Memphis, to the Mid-South Book Festival.

It was quite an affair. But, as usual, I’m getting ahead of myself. Though my main purpose was to attend the Festival and meet all my fellow “Beans”, I had grand visions (or was it delusions …) of traipsing all over the countryside, snapping impressive photos of the area. Except, the stifling temperatures on top of the oppressive humidity turned me into a sweaty puddle of I-don’-wanna-do-it … meaning I had extra days (aka extra and unnecessary room charges—sigh …) with no real benefit.

You know what they say about best laid plans … yup.

So … I chilled (literally) in my air-conditioned room and drove in my air-conditioned car, but never stepped foot into the world of Memphis prior to our events, except to go into grocery stores, purchasing simple, microwavable food to sustain me. I was pretty disappointed in myself for not being adventurous enough to deal with the weather. Not having the right clothes—and fearing mosquito bites (I understand they rival the Minnesota variety in their ability to haul off their prey … and I have a tendency to swell up badly when they attack)—all of that did have a bearing on me not wanting to be out in nature.

My driving around came in handy, though. I checked out the AirBnb place we were all going to stay on Friday and knew several routes to and from my hotel to that location … and knew where grocery stores were in close proximity to the AirBnb, so I was helpful to others once they did arrive.

Our AirBnb DigsOur digs and our neighbourhood were wonderful—actually, over the top. I’m not sure everyone had an opportunity to poke around the neighbourhood, but … oh, my. Gorgeous homes. In my area, they would have gone for a cool million at the low end. There was plenty of room for everyone at our AirBnb—there were seven or eight of us staying

Jackson & Gregg

chilling at our AirBnb digs.

there (can’t remember), with a large living room for us to gather and talk, a door to close off the sleeping area so not to disturb the early-to-bed folks (as long as we remembered to shut the door, that is … teehee!) and two eating areas. We were only 20-or so minutes from our venue, which was perfect. And only a stones throw (mmm … ten to fifteen minutes) from our “host” Bean, Steve Gibbs. Our “Boss Bean” stayed with the Gibbs and we had a lovely dinner there after the crazy Saturday event, finally meeting his beautiful (in all ways, inside and out), vivacious wife as these two gracious people opened their home to us.

Having settled into our new digs, we got fancified for the Friday night meet ‘n greet (I can’t believe I have no photos of that night).  Delicious food (I especially loved the alligator—considering I couldn’t have the two shellfish items … serious pout here), great entertainment and of course, time to get to know my fellow “Beans” from Inknbeans Press much better.

The next day started early—trying to get all of us showered and ready for the day was a challenge, but we were up to the task. Books, extraneous promo material, authors and publisher piled into a three cars to keep the nightmare of finding parking to a minimum. After arriving, we unloaded our paraphernalia into our

More Inknbeans Press Authors

L-R: Candy Ann, Robin and Kitty

designated spot and set up under a massive tent, set up in the middle of a side street, just off the main drag through town. Who-knows how many authors and publisher … and a few sales venues gathered underneath. There was a group of high school musicians wandering around, playing jazzy-bluesy music the whole time—

Jazz Band

Our entertainment whilst we sold our wares …

quite good, but they settled down in front of us for a bit and made it impossible for us to hear or converse with passers-by. Situated at the back corner, we garnering the brunt wind—which was perfectly okay by me.  It was what kept me from literally melting into one large puddle. Seriously.

Inknbeans Press Authors

L-R:Candy Ann, Kitty, Steve, Jackson (and his dad, Gregg)

And, it allowed me to wander around (with my camera, of course) to stretch my legs during the event without turning into a big puddle. You will find those (and a couple more) photos at the end of this blog. My apologies—I culled quite a few, leaving very few to share.

Our youngest author, Jackson (age 17) did great guns selling his two books. He made the rest of us look pathetic, but I’m all for how well he did. I think I tied with another author in sales, but I’m not really counting. This whole experience, though expensive, put us into a new “reader pool”, getting the word out on our titles, no matter how many we sold. An expensive promotion for me, but I had a blast, was able to meet some of the authors at Inknbeans Press and enjoyed meeting our “Boss” again. I could not be happier with my decision. I’m so glad I’m part of the Hill of Beans.

I was the only one to stay on, with my flight not scheduled till Monday afternoon, so I came back to the hotel where I planted myself for one more night. I spent the afternoon and evening packing and repacking in preparation for my (thankfully uneventful) flights home.

As much fun as I had, I was definitely glad to be home … it’s always good to come home after traveling for any length of time.

Have a blessed Friday and weekend. I’ll be gearing up for some deadlines that are looming: NaNoWrimo is upon us with planned meet-ups, preparation for the annual member exhibition at Open Ground Studios and quite a few book signings in tandem with my art.

Textures-Pampas Grass Memphis ReflectionsJazz/Blues Band


 

 

 

Aaah, Well … Photo Journaling

IT’S NOT THAT I FORGOT … well, maybe for a couple of days, but “It” is upon me—Blog Day … and I’m nowhere near finished with any of the ones I’ve started. So, today will be a photo blog day—a photo journal, if you will. Pictures I’ve taken over the last week or so, documenting what’s going on around me.

I’ve plenty to choose from. I nearly died when I saw how many (nearly 1300!!) I had on my iPhone that needed to be off-loaded onto my Photo Drive. Yup, I’ve got one external drive almost exclusively dedicated to my photos. Dangerous, I know. At least my phone is functioning faster now … lol.

So without further stalling … here we go with my photo

Fresh Produce

Fresh produce at our local farmers market in Monterey

WestEnd Celebration

Part of Open Ground Studio’s booth (and my books) at the annual WestEnd Celebration in Sand City

journal of the last few weeks:

Greens at the Farmers Market

Love the fresh veggies here!

Reductive Wood Cut

Alyssa Endo working on her current project at WestEnd Celebration

Demos & Creativity

OGS had demos all weekend long of the different things available at the studio

Photopolymer Printing Demo

Susie showing the print she just pulled from the press

Gearing Up for Alzheimer's Walk

Very soon (24Sept) I’ll be walking in Aptos for the Alzheimers Association, to bring awareness to the disease and to help raise funds.

My Goofy Sebastian

Always entertaining—Sebastian plays (very noisily) every night … just as I’m trying to get to sleep (of course)!

Sunrise in the Dale

One morning I actually was up early enough to catch the sun before it was visible!

A Visitor

It’s not often a mallard duck (or any animal) comes to take a look into Open Ground Studios …

Preparations for an Opening

Alyssa Endo loves to create geisha images. Her opening on 9September will showcase her beautiful woodcut prints of various geisha images she has created over the years.

Sunsets Make Me Smile

Actually captured a sunset recently … which really made me smile!

More Sunset ...

Another view of the same sunset

Gardening at OGS

Gardening at Open Ground Studios … making it pretty for Alyssa’s opening!

Whether it’s going to a farmers market, playing or working at Open Ground Studios or events, I always find time to do things that are dear to me … like getting ready for a walk on 24September to bring awareness to Alzheimers … or enjoy time with my critters … or watching the sun set—or on occasion, actually see it rise.

There’s plenty to do to keep me busy. These shots are only a very few of the ones I’ve taken in the recent past. Perhaps, someday I’ll even get a chance to get them onto my Flickr account and you’ll be able to see them all …

Until then, enjoy this little window into my life and have a wonderful Friday and Labor Day weekend!

Blessings to you all …

There's even a place to sit!

There’s even a place to sit!

A Selfie

Snort … never been very good at this sort of thing …

Designs In Nature

Discoveries while cutting up cabbage for a meal—design is beautiful, don’t you thing?

Joy


I LOVE LIFE. JOY IS A LARGE PART of me — my natural state. Joy seeps into almost everything I do, think, create. I am the proverbial optimist, with my view on life being half full, rather than half empty. In life, I countered my husband’s “half-empty” attitude. We balanced each other in so many ways: my sometimes impulsive, energetic, adventuresome curiosity to his restrained, analytical reserve. We were quite a pair. To this day, I wonder how we managed to stay together “until death do us part” … but we did.

So, without him as a “governor” to reign in some of that enthusiastic energy, I seem to have higher highs … and lows that I don’t recall being there before. Maybe it’s simply my faulty memory playing tricks.

In any case, I love my half-full attitude. And this week I find my cup of joy overflowing. I’ve got pressures to meet some deadlines, NaNoWriMo is afoot and I haven’t even started … yet, I’m filled with joy.

On November 1st, I decided to begin posting my gratitudes—things I’m thankful about and for. That—and playing with my photography, using canvas to lay the image onto—seems to have pushed my joy button even more (insert giggly smiley face here). I was downright euphoric on Monday when I produced my first image. Some of my images will make their way into the Open Ground Studios show at the end of the month (through mid-January, 2016) … some will be at the book signing/art event that Aromas Hills Artisans puts on annually in November (21-22 of November this year) … and another unrelated event this weekend (Yikes! Where did the time go??). I’m tickled to be involved with both organizations … and finally have something new to show at all events (aside from my books).

So, this post… and the next several weeks (or more)—since Thanksgiving comes near the end of the month—will be about being grateful … and joy filled. We all find ourselves fretting about so much. How often do  you take a moment to think about all that you are thankful for? For me … well, I know I should be spending far more time being thankful. Here’s part of the list I started at the beginning of the month:

I am thankful for …
•met deadlines, with more to come (yes, thankful for even more pressure)
•food in the cupboards and fridge
•my dog snuggled at my feet
•the cat curled up, purring in my lap
•rain rain rain. Thank God for rain in parched California!!
•the sound of rain on my roof, running down the downspouts
•warm dry clothes on a wet day
•muted light from an overcast sky–easy on my aging eyes
•a friend’s relief from pain … and finally after so long, a diagnosis so they can move forward to manage her pain
•hot tea to sip on chilly mornings
•automatic thermostats that knows when to take the chill off the morning air
•that first long rain of the season, when everything around me is painted in deeper, richer colours
•being able to share my abundance with others
•visitations from my local deer. They are so beautiful

May your day … and the coming week be blessed with a multitude of reasons to be thankful and joy filled.

UPCOMING EVENTS (hopefully I’ll see some of you that live locally):
November 1-30 24/7
(starts and ends at midnight)
National Novel Writing Month
Write with abandon all month, aim for 50,000 words by midnight on the 30th
You can still sign-up online: NaNoWriMo.org

November 14   Saturday  9am-1pm
Craft Show w/Book Signing (and some of dj’s art)
dj jameson smith w/fellow author (mysteries), Joyce Oroz
735 Ramona Avenue, Monterey CA

November 21-22   Saturday/Sunday 9am-4pm
Aromas Hills Artisans Holiday Art (and craft) Fair w/Book Signing & art
dj jameson smith w/fellow author (mysteries), Joyce Oroz
Aromas Grange, Aromas CA

December 4   Friday 5:30-8:30pm
Co-Op Members Art Exhibition Opening and Christmas Party
Open Ground Studios, 1230 Fremont Blvd., Seaside CA
dj jameson smith will have her art on display for sale in various forms (framed, matted & unmatted pieces along with note and post cards), plus her books will be available for purchase
(the exhibition will be available for viewing from Nov 25, 2015 – Jan 20, 2016)

 

Steampunk … Here I Come!

AAAH. IT WAS A “QUIET” … YET BUSY WEEKEND for me—and my friend, Pam—as we made our way (separately) to the outskirts of Turlock for the steampunk conference. About two hours from home, Turlock is nestled between Modesto and Merced on Hwy 99 (which is east of Hwy 5). It really is a beautiful drive, if you like the stark beauty of naked mountains (which I do). Not one green blade of grass or leaf anywhere … well, except in the almond groves or other cultivated produce.

The shadows played beautifully with the curvature of the mountains and hills, creating some lovely contrasts. Unfortunately, I was “driven” to driving to my destination … and did not stop—not even once (unusual for me). I did not bring my good camera (foolish!), so was not as inclined to stop. I just visually soaked up all the undulations and shadows and stored them in my (faulty) memory. I believe this drive needs to be done again, without a destination or deadline planned so that I can stop at a moments notice … on a whim … and take photos.

Because of our allergies, as the time drew near both of us were concerned about air quality due to the fires blazing in surrounding areas. Fires were out and beautiful, clear skies greeted us—thankfully! And, although it was much cooler weather for locals (they’d been suffering with 116° heat until recently), the 89° was a bit toasty for us—especially in costume. Thankfully, it continued to cool down a wee bit more over the course of the weekend. But was still too warm for me to wear either the London Fog rain coat or the knit shell sweater—or even the 4th doctor’s beautiful trademark scarf for any length of time—to complete my Sarah Jane Smith costume. Oh, well.

I arrived at the hotel and unpacked before heading over to the Stanislaus Fairgrounds for the convention. Nice accommodations at the Comfort Inn at the convention rate. Yay! I had less than an hour left before they closed down for the night, so I simply drove over, picked up our passes and meandered through the venue to see what was there. I had to remind myself that it was their first year and it should grow quickly, so it was nice to see it in it’s “infant” state.

The SteamHouse Steampunk Convention will grow. I’m sure. There were vendors of all sorts: selling handmade steampunk clothes and accessories ranging from jewelry to goggles, to fun movable clock-gear pendants and cool pens made from bullets (I thought about getting one for one of my brothers … but forgot! I hope I grabbed his card). Two Whovian clubs were

The War Doctor and "Sarah Jane Smith"

San Diego’s War Doctor and I posed with K9

represented: San Diego Whovians (with a War Doctor cos-player) and Central Valley Whovians, plus more than a few steampunk Star Wars actors—I managed to not get their photos, but Pam did: the “steam Star Wars

Steampunk Star Wars characters

Courtesy of Pam Leja, a nice shot of the steamy Star Wars Steampunk crew.

crew. Star Wars Steampunk. They even have permission from the creator to use the Star Wars name! There was a video producer—though I was not interested, so I cannot tell you what he was trying to sell.

It was fun. I did have my cell phone camera, but found that I was having too much fun poking around and asking questions to be bothered with many photos. When I looked at the ones I did take, I had to shake my head. Mostly generic, vanilla shots! I’m embarrassed!

Vendors of All Kinds

Costumes, accessories, clockwork gearing were only a few things you might find.

The nice thing about new venues … they are small, not as well attended (which is a bad thing for the vendors), but it allows more time to chat. This group of vendors was delightful … talking about their wares, about little things—and I found two from my area … plus, the whole affair was far more intimate. That’s a good thing for a first-timer like myself. I had misgivings about attending, but shouldn’t have worried. The intimacy of the venue gave me time to warm up to the cool things I was seeing. And gave me ideas on how I could better steampunk my character for next time. Yup … there will be a next time if dates don’t conflict with my schedule.

Pam and I spent most of Saturday morning wandering around and

More Vendors

It’s a large space and in the future, it will be packed with vendors and attendees.

investigating what was available, chatting up the vendors. We even went into the next building where there was a holistic/crystal show going on (spend very little time there) … and we had a lovely lunch from the catered trucks (no “roach coaches” here—gourmet food, indeed!). Some came as far a San Francisco to cater to the crowd … including a cupcake truck from San Jose.

Clockwork Heart

Movable gears on this sweet little pendant. May work it onto K9 to Steampunk him a bit more.

Sunday, we came back over to the convention to find that many of the vendors had abandoned the show (remember … sadly, low attendance can mean low income for vendors). I had hoped to find a few things to buy, plus get permission to take a few photos. Oh, well. I did get a photo of me with the War Doctor and my dinky little K9. My little guy was quite a hit, by the way! Everybody wanted pictures of K9 with or without me. That made me happy. I even got a few compliments on my costume. Pam, on the other hand, had plenty of compliments … but then, she definitely dressed the part.

I was going to add more photos … but for some reason, they load into WordPress sideways (tried rotating the originals, but it was a no-go—insert extremely grumpy face) … and unless you’re game with side-ways photos, I’d rather not add them. They were so cute! One of K9 with his Steampunk hat and one of Pam with a few nicely dressed Steampunk vendors. Drats.

So, folks … it was quiet, but fun. Lots of cool outfits that I managed to not take photos of … good food and fun, chatty vendors to pass the time of day.

It does sound like the date is set now in stone for next year … and it’s the same weekend, so I won’t be able to attend—prior commitments at the Big Trees Scottish Gathering and Highland Games in Ben Lomond CA with the Gunn Clan tent will keep me away—always on the first weekend of October … sigh.

Now … a quick apology for the monster-long blog entry, then I’m off to prepare for the book signing that’s happening Saturday in Salinas! Have a great Friday plus a beautiful and blessed weekend, folks. Until next Friday … cheers!

 

Secrets Beyond Scymaria Covers 1-3

click on for full image of the first three books

 

 

Facebook Author’s page Upcoming Events
The Scymarian at Amazon
Secrets Beyond Scymaria series at my SquareMarket

 

Well … More Delays

LIFE LOVES TO THROW ME CURVE balls … all the time. I’ve gotten used to it.

This newest one is more of an announcement … sorta.

But I’ve had a very hard time focusing on the galleys—there are so many formatting errors it isn’t even funny. I’m afraid, if I ever manage to get through them all, it will be late Summer, 2015 before The Scymarian is available.

So, instead of wading through the galleys like a good little author … I have turned my attention to my artistic side. I have a one-day workshop to help permanently (hopefully) burn the multi-stepped process of creating photopolymer plates from my photographic images. I spent all day downloading and sorting through photos, looking for images that stood out as exceptional—ones I want to turn into special works of art, rather than simply enlarged, framed photos. It was exhilarating. I had so much energy—even after spending some time weeding the raised garden beds at Open Ground Studios. I do love gardening—even weeding, but usually I end up rather spent when I’m done. Not today (insert huge grin). I was having entirely too much fun to be tired.

Tomorrow’s workshop will hopefully be the last one I need to take to feel proficient at this plate-making process. I want to be able to come in, decide on an image, play with it in Photoshop to make it “proper” for the process, then confidently create the etched metal plate so I can play with ink colors for my prints.

I’m thinking that I may take the images I’ll be using tomorrow to create large framed photographic canvases to hang along side the photopolymer etched prints so people can see the difference. And perhaps, this fall I’ll have my very own exhibition at Open Ground Studios, displaying my photography, my photopolymer etchings and other artistic endeavors—plus of course, a display of my books (…hopefully three by then!) and books to be signed and sold.

Teehee … so, that was the announcement—well, two I guess. Short an’ sweet. Relatively speaking.

Please enjoy your Friday and the upcoming weekend. May it truly be a blessed weekend for all of you. I know mine will be (wink).

I’ve Been Thinking …

UH OH … THIS COULD BE DANGEROUS. I always come up with some very profound thoughts and fantastic ideas when I’m in the shower—awesome thoughts I’d love to share. And ideas for the garden or yard … or a storyline for my book—or even some places to go take photos. But it never fails—the moment I have pen and paper handy—able to get those thoughts down so I won’t forget, the thoughts evaporate from my mind. Same thing when I’m driving down the road, enjoying the scenery as I barrel towards my next destination. I’m never prepared for these moments of spontaneous thought. And it is frustrating.

Sometimes, I can compose an entire blog in my mind that is so perfect. So very perfect. Or the perfect scene for my story—but apparently not memorable enough for me to get it into written form. Artistic ideas that would be stunning once implemented into my yard or crafted on paper and framed … yet they are lost forever (well, perhaps not forever). It’s so blasted frustrating.

My head is always teaming with ideas that are begging to explode into life when I least expect it, so why is it, since this happens so frequently, that I don’t expect it? (I feel a headache coming on … giggle.) I should be prepared, right?

This is a weird month to be working on writing of any sort, anyway. With all these ideas floating around, one would think it would be ideal … but I look around my yard and house in its woefully

Back Yard View

I’d certainly like a better view as I sip on tea or nom on food …

neglected state and am drawn to work outside—away from the computer and/or pen and paper. The computer nags at me to work on my blog, the galleys for The Scymarian — and my WIP, Mischiefmaker—but the gorgeous weather pulls me the other direction.

Yard View Improved

It’s a slow process … but it is improving. It’s a pity, with this drought, that I can’t plant anything.

Away from all electronic devices.

I hate it when I’m of a divided mind. I’m not the most logical person in the world. I’ve always been a seat-of-the-pants kinda person, no matter what I’m doing. Common sense is my go-to tool, but I’ve also got this gut-level thing going, too—especially where outdoor activities are involved. Either I’m all in … or not (insert grin). Whether it’s walking, gardening, yard work, tromping through nature taking photos … yup—all in or not.

Speaking of all in or not … this is the NaNoWriMo’s July Summer Camp, which I foolishly signed up for—and am now kicking myself, for thinking I could manage to “finish” successfully. The idea behind

Tea in Pacific Grove

A very creative friend and I at Bookworks in Pacific Grove—she with her knitting and jewelry for sale, me with my books and some tea.

signing up was to give me the impetus to keep working towards an end on my WIP. The rules for the Summer Camp are (thankfully) much more laid back than in November. November requires 50,000 words minimum for the 30 days of writing. NaNo’s summer camp allow you to choose your goal, no matter how small or grand it may be. Even with that, I’ve tried it in the past and should know better that just signing up for it does not work with me. Well, at least it hasn’t in the past. I guess time will tell.

My galleys should be taking precedence over every other writing—and it’s really a non-writing task—except that I am finding many, many formatting errors and it’s keeping me from even wanting to work on it.

Petunia Up Close

The deer haven’t nommed on my flowers yet—knock on wood

I’d rather be outside, slaving in the hot sun than working on the galleys. Or wandering around the yard taking photos. Sad state of affairs, isn’t it?

It’s probably because I am one that enjoys the gratification of seeing what has been accomplished.

Yard Work in Progress

Improving my view is hard work … but I’m getting there. And it’s a lot more fun that working on the galleys …

These galleys do not afford that luxury at this point. But what I’ve been doing outside certainly has! And watching the progress of my plants is even more fun than working on the galleys. Sigh.

Succulent Up Close

Hmm. Didn’t know this variegated plant was a succulent.

Tresspasser

A young doe is sneaking around in my yard, looking for things to nom on.

And when I see a deer wander in the yard, I get excited and thrilled!

When I work on the galleys (or my WIP) at Open Ground Studios, I take a few minutes out to wander around, stretch my legs and take photos of things happening in the studio.

Playing On-Site Photographer

I try to catch our DOG (Director of Open Ground) and others as they play and work at the studio

Workshops, classes … there’s always something going on. There are so many different things to keep my mind stirred up and rarin’ to go on to the next project. Some could (and do) call that a bit like an attention deficit problem. I’d prefer to call it keeping things fresh. I certainly don’t get bored.

So … now that I’ve procrastinated whilst writing this blog, done a bit of reminiscing of what I enjoy—and shared a few photos (insert smile) … it’s now time to get back to the task at hand. Writing. Wait. Isn’t that what I’ve been doing? Yes, but it doesn’t count against the NaNo word count, nor does it help with the galleys…

Did I mention I am really good at procrastinating? Yup.

I hope your Fourth of July weekend is blessed with many wonderful memories. I’ll be walking in a parade with other writers (part of the Central Coast Writers group) on Saturday in Monterey. Maybe you’ll be there. Maybe not. Have fun in either case!

Enjoy your weekend.

Distractions …

I SHOULD BE WORKING ON THE FINISHING touches of my next book, but I’ve just discovered a new camera app that has be quite distracted. Camera + is the name and it’s for the iPhone 5 on up. I’ve only just begun playing and am thrilled with it.

Becoming distracted is very easy for me … and gets me into trouble all the time. At least I stay focused whilst in the car, driving down the road … well, my daughter may feel that’s a bit overstated as a fact. That’s only because we get to talking (some wonderfully deep conversations at times)—so 99.9% of the time, I’m on the road in the car all by myself and perfectly safe to be around.

Back to the camera and photography. Or, was it distractions …

Yeah, about that. I’m feeling terribly goofy right now, so maybe I should go get distracted by something else for a bit. Gee … and I haven’t even had any wine

Port Wine and a Distraction

Mulling over quotes for next year’s Dr. Who con ribbons.

(wink)—oooh! There’s a good distraction. I’ll be back—later. There’s some port with my name on it …

Now that I’m a bit more sensible (it’s only Monday), I still find myself being distracted. Deliberately. There’s book four pulling at my thoughts, this blog … and a myriad of chores around the house and yard harping at me, begging to be worked on. So, I chose to flit between several of them to keep me “fresh”. Especially the writing items. I can easily shove off the house and yard work (except, the laundry really does need to get done if I want clothes for tomorrow—giggle). I’m finding it easy to bounce from one writing task to another, keeping me engaged. When my mind struggles for an idea, then I step outside with my iPhone—with it’s newly acquired app and search for a worthy subject. Sometimes

Nasturtium in the Yard

A delightful twist of colour from the normal red-orange. And the new macro app on my iPhone makes up close a delight.

Freshly Emerging Mushroon

I’m loving the macro capabilities of the iPhone app, allowing me to easily capture the gills of the mushroom.

I’m successful, sometimes not. But the process sharpens my mind and I’m ready to write again.

My cat is another distraction. Sebastian can be quite entertaining. He is equal to—or better than any TV show, that’s for sure! Demanding at times, too. When he wants your attention, he will get it, one way or another. I’ve had my back to him when he’s wanted attention. He decided to be my “cat shawl” … jumping on to my shoulders and lounging around as I went around doing what needed to be done—or like this morning: I was trying to “sleep in” (after having let Kaeli out, dishing out her morning meal) when he started making all kinds of racket. Playing with the blinds, tearing from

Sebastian ... Up Close

Though he’s not amused by my attempts to catch him taking a cat-nap on my chest, I love that I’m able to do so with the new macro app.

one high spot to another—quite noisily (he can be the stealthy ninja type when he wants), and kneading something that sounded expensive—which was what finally got me out of bed … very quickly. Turned out to be the lovely ancient handed-down-to-me wool blanket. Glad I caught him. He obviously wanted something. I decided to check on his food dish. Yup. Empty.

So much for lazing about after that. I did manage to muck about most of the morning, not getting much done, other than surf through Facebook posts of friends, reposting the appropriate ones, commenting on others … Facebook in an excellent (if you can label it as such), time-sucking sponge. Facebook does have it’s good points, but I’m presently at a loss to list anything beyond keeping in touch with friends and associates.

Are distractions a nice way to say procrastination? Maybe. Well … most likely. And, of course, I am quite good at procrastination, aren’t I (insert grin)? Is that something I should be proud of? Hmmm. Ooops—probably not … or at least shouldn’t be.

Well, procrastination or distraction, I do it not (grin)—at least not presently (it’s still only Monday). I finished the final edit on book three and will give myself a days rest (Tuesday’s a busy day, anyway), then start with the gathering of promotional blurb/bio, etc on Wednesday to submit to my publisher. Then I’ll come back to this, add more thoughts, then polish it up and add a few photos and have it ready for Friday. I love my life … as crazy as it is.

Wednesday found me almost as busy as Tuesday. I was definitely busy gathering

My Ducks in a Row

Compiling all of the things needed before I submit to my publisher … time consuming!

and honing the blurbs to be submitted, searching for other items in vain, so I did not get everything completed as planned. Distractions abound—and I grabbed every opportunity to indulge, simply so I could take breaks from the frustration. More photography, a few errands and more snapping photos—and with one of those errands, I garnered yet another temptation to dangle in front of me to

Sherlock Holmes Stories

A trio of non-Conan Doyle stories of the famous Sherlock Holmes, by Hugh Ashton. I’m looking forward to delving into these new mysteries. But, it must wait. Perhaps as a reward, after I send off all my materials to my publisher…

distract me from work: a newly purchased book.

It will have to wait in the queue with my others since I am determined to get all required bits and pieces off to the publisher as quickly as possible. My readers are waiting after all. When I come down “to the wire”—sometimes, it takes that extra “push”—all distractions and procrastinations are put aside so that I can finish my tasks on time. Most of the time I am successful (every once in a while, I’m not). I try to stay focused on the successes and move forward.

Through the ups and downs, mires of procrastination and distractions, I persevere—and succeed. With these last few lines, the blog is done; later today (or Saturday at the latest) I should have all the information together for the publisher … and tonight I will enjoy celebrating a two year birthday for Open Ground Studios. There will be an artist opening, music, food and socializing. A grand time to celebrate.

May your Friday—and weekend—unfold into a blessed time with family and friends.

 

 

When Sounds Beckon …

WHEN I GET INTO A CONTEMPLATIVE mood, I love to simply sit … and listen. Whether that is listening to music that emanates from my radio or from the sounds that surround my home, it doesn’t matter. Each lend to a meditative mood, but pull me in different directions. Allowing my mind to wander.

My music—mostly Christian (but not completely … my taste in music is quite varied)—pulls me into, amongst other things, a self-analyzing state, allowing me to ponder the direction my actions are taking me—or should be directing me. Music can also energize or relax me … depending on the type in which I choose to immerse myself. But it always carries me away somewhere.

My “environmental” sounds can vary from the busyness of neighbors as they groom lawns as they make improvements or repairs around their property—the lawnmowers and chainsaws whirring away … or the hammering and or shrill sounds of power tools, plus cars swishing by (thankfully at a distance) and an occasional plane or helicopter flying overhead—to the much more natural sounds of birds. Coos of mourning doves, soft trill of quail, raucous calls of blue jays and crows, shrill distant calls of hawks and the delightful array of song birds mixed in with hens proudly announcing the arrival of a newly laid egg … and the roosters (haven’t heard so much from them recently for some reason). And of course, gentle breezes rushing through trees and brushing up against my numerous and varied chimes.

I choose to hone my selective hearing at times, tuning out the more modern (abrasive) sounds and dwelling on what’s more natural. Especially the birds, wind and chimes. Much of the time, my home is devoid of sound, other than what I can hear outside. I prefer it to the constant—and I do mean nearly 24/7—sounds of TV or radio filling the void (bless his heart, but this was my husband’s modus operandi and it drove me crazy). Yes, I will watch a few select TV shows (old “Murder She Wrote” episodes, all the “NCIS” versions out there, along with “Elementary”—for someone that writes fantasy fiction, I watch a lot of mystery, don’t I?), but the TV goes off when it’s over. And the radio is for contemplative or motivational times.

My chimes. I have several made of bamboo (one is an owl, but the filaments holding the tubes are broken and need repair and another is a head-bobbing

Dragon Chime Up Close

I love this dragon. Managed to get him for quite a bargain—he was broken. Bought him, repaired him and he’s given me plenty of enjoyment.

Metal Fish Design Chime

Missing a few chimes, it still makes a lovely tinkling sound…catching plenty of breeze regularly.

Metal Chime and Rainbow Wind Catcher

Higher pitched metal wind chime and one of my two faded rainbow wind catchers…

Sturdy Metal Chime

Deeper tone, which I love to hear.

Metal Chime-Medium Tone

In disrepair…needs it’s clanger replaced. Stands silent, except in strong winds, when the chimes strike each other…

Hummer Chimes

One single chime, with decorative rings with hummers, this chime “chings” rather than chimes. But I like it …

Deep Toned Metal Chime

My very first deep toned chime. LOVE the sound it creates.

dragon. Then there are all sizes of metal chimes, in various shapes, which produce anywhere from deep to high pitched tones. One has thin Capiz shells with their fragile tinkling in the breeze (even when they consistently tangle themselves), baked bamboo—very fragile and not terribly weather resistant (hence it is tucked away, as I am afraid to use it—not even sure I could find it in a pinch it’s so well hidden)…

Dragon and Capiz Chimes

Full view of my coconut half & bamboo dragon chime and the tangled Capiz shell chime. Love the sound the shell chime creates

And then, there are the simpler wind “chimes”—more wind catchers than anything—that blow, twist or turn in the slightest of breezes. I have a redwood twirlie- thing that has a mesmerizing spin to it (broken…in need of repair), several flowy rainbow string wind catchers (that are quite old, dating back to when my daughter was under 5 years of age, and have lost most of their colour, but I still love watching them flutter about in a breeze…and enjoy untangling them—constantly), and several colourful cloth whirlygigs. I even have one “chime” that works in the rain—a “rock” base holding a cluster of long wire stems with metal “flowers” (really no more than circular shaped cups) that catch rain and when it’s full, it tips over and spills out, rebounding and hitting another flower, creating a chiming sound. Kinda neat, but I’ve only

Unique Rain Chime

Though strong winds will make this chime sing out, it was made to capture water in its “flower” cups, tip to spill out the rain, the hit other “flowers”, creating a lovely ping amongst the pitter-patter of rain (which we haven’t had much of lately)

Rainbow Wind Catcher and Triangel Metal Chime

My newest deep toned metal chime only catches the strongest of winds, so I don’t hear it as often as I’d like. I may change its location.

Metal Dragonfly Chime

High pitched chime. Lovely to hear, though, with the heavy dragonfly, it takes a stronger breeze to create a sound.

Flower Wind Catchers (Windmills)

These are actually from the Alzheimer’s Walk. I love them, not only because the are colourful in the breezes, but because there’s meaning behind them.

stayed out in the rain once to listen to it—and we haven’t had enough rain for it to be functional in the last couple of years (and it has collected quite a bit of cobwebs—guess I need to clean them off).

Each has its place in my life and they are all very calming. Even when the wind is raging outside and the chimes become more jarring, I find a peace in their sound. It transports me—bring out my imaginative side to play. My writing flows better, ideas pour out. Spirits are lifted. Like I said, transported.

On still days, well…I mourn the loss of the sounds of delightful chimes, but I do have the other natural sounds of the birds to enchant me.

And I always have my lovely trees and hills above and below me to keep me company. To calm me. To delight me. To trigger my imagination and act as my muse.

May you find and embrace something in your life to spur your imagination into action.

Peace and blessings to you all.

The Gathering Clouds . . .

I WASN’T SURE WHAT TO WRITE ABOUT—AGAIN, until I spent most of an entire day in my garden. The tranquility I reaped from puttering around, pruning, watering

Rhododendron

Delightful rhododendron bloom, just now peeking out with our late spring

Nasturtium

I’ll need to be careful to mow around these lovelies whenever I get around to that task. Love the yellow—a delightful change from the ‘normal’ red-orange blossoms…

and marvelling at nature as it unfolds under my precarious, lackadaisical care was amazing.

I was blessed with the very front edge of a storm front—no rain as yet—just mild temperatures and a gentle breeze slowly pulling in clouds overhead, brushing up against my many wind chimes, allowing them to sing out.
Our area gets some interesting cloud formations. Sometimes the stacked cumulus, that are so magnificent to gaze upon, pepper

Clouds and Trees

The cumulus hug the horizon and “pillows” dot the remainder of the sky.

the sky, but usually it’s the blanket of fog that rolls in like a fluffy quilt being drawn up and over us that dominates.

Tuesday, along the horizon (what I could see through my tree-ringed property) a few of the top-heavy, rain-promising cumulus clung to the hills. Further to

Cloud Watching

One of my favourite pastimes as a child (and even as an adult) is to watch clouds and find shapes in them.
What do you see?

the center of my viewing area, smaller “pillow” clouds (as my dad was fond of calling them as dementia whittled away at his vocabulary) dotted the sky. One patch of the sky had clouds that looked as though an artist had run a paintbrush through it, creating wispy edges on one side. I think, next to the

Wispy Artwork

God’s paintbrush dragged through these clouds to create wispy formations.

Wisps and Pillows

More wispy clouds with a puff here and there dotting the sky

Westward "Window"

Again, from my front porch, the oaks dominate, allowing a bit of blue sky, dotted with clouds and wisps.

towering cumulus (ours are so puny compared to those a friend posts from his Colorado home), these are my favourite. It reminds me that God’s hand is at work … all of the time.

There are other times when the clouds are reminiscent of freshly furrowed fields. The entire sky looks like a field, ready to be planted. Then, there’s always the “intrusion”—or magic—of modern science … the winds aloft playing with contrails of unseen jets and planes overhead, pushing and pulling the line of

Clouds, Contrails and Oaks

Pillow clouds and oaks frame a contrail. I love what the shifting winds aloft do to create interesting drawings in the condensation…

condensation creating undulating, drawings in the sky.

And, of course, the glorious magic of sunset (or sunrise, if you manage to be up in time)—the splendiferous colours that paint the sky. I am looking forward to that this evening … as long as the clouds don’t completely obscure the sun as it sets.
Thursday (as I write this) there’s been a tease of rain. Not even enough to wet the cement patio completely. One can only hope it is merely a taste of what is to come—more rain—which would be a good thing for our rain-starved state. It won’t be nearly enough to satisfy our water needs—far from it, but we will gratefully accept every drop the clouds decided to give us.  Even if the skies yield no more, the overcast will keep things cool, allowing what moisture the ground presently holds to stay … at least for a bit longer.
May the “skies” in your life hold treasures for you to hold close, whether filled with rain or sun, clouds or crystal clear and blue … find the magic and let your imagination soar, to lift you up and through your days ahead.

In a Dither …

TRYING TO COME UP WITH AN idea for a weekly blog is sometimes a challenge. Keeping ideas in my head when they are ready to burst like a dam in another … and then again, rushing to get them “on paper” before they dissipate from my memory. Leaves me shaking my head sometimes … like today. I had an idea brewing in my head, ready to be written, but now that I’m sitting in front of the computer, my mind has drawn a blank. I’m hoping, as I type away, that my mind will reveal the thoughts that are hiding behind one of the many closed doors.

This has been an exciting week, filled with all the last minute preparations that go on behind the scenes, trying to get ready fort book signing in Saturday–tomorrow.  That and the usual “daily grind” stuff and a three-day attempt to get tickets for next year’s Gallifrey One convention has left precious little time for my mind to play.

It’s Friday and my brain has yet to “kick-in” and I must dash off to a funeral, so I am left with two options … either not post, or slip in some photos once again. I’ve chosen photos, gathered this morning. In a rush, I’ve found they’ve uploaded incorrectly (some sideways from their original position) and I don’t have time to fix them. Sorry. Perhaps I can come back and “right” them later.

Have a lovely, blessed Friday and weekend. Until next Friday, cheers.

Raindrops on Lilacs

Glistening sun on the tip of a lilac leaf from our precious bit of rain

Raindrops on Blade of Grass

Love the magnifying effect of the rain drops on the leaf

Raindrops on Milkweed

Remnants of raindrops on milkweed leaf.

Red-tailed hawk

Red-tailed hawk watching over my yard

 

 

Meanderings

MEANDERINGS COME IN ALL FORMS … in words, deeds and travels.  Even though the dictionary says it’s means “wandering at random”, one can have purpose in their meanderings.

I’ve found purpose in most things that I do, though some may think otherwise. Some may say there’s not much reason to wandering through the woods. Or along the beach. How on earth could one benefit from such an activity?

I say they are wrong—well, at least for me … especially when those meanderings are in the form of walks or long drives around the hills or coast. I find peace. Restored energy. Beauty. And God’s fingerprints everywhere. It gives rise to rejoicing.

These past few weeks, I’ve had an opportunity to do just that. Meander to rejuvenate and rejoice in the things I’ve seen. What follows is a little photo-journalistic view of my meanders. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do. Perhaps it may inspire you to do a little meandering of your own …

Whether you live in my area, privy to the diversity of mountains, meadows, rivers and beautiful forests—or find yourself surrounded by man-made forests of skyscrapers and the like, there are plenty to meander through … examining the architecture up close—or the geometry that abounds in those structures … finding Mother Nature breaking through cracks in the form of mosses, a small flower or some other sort of greenery. They are all ways to explore the world around you, letting your mind meander as you wander in your environment. Relax, enjoy, marvel at what is around you.

Be my guest … meander at your leisure.

View Along Los Laureles Grade Road

Westerly view from Los Laureles Grade Road between Carmel Valley and Salinas Valley. Despite the drought, the hills are green (possibly due to our fog)…though rapidly losing their color.

Father and Daughter Meandering

At Garland Ranch Sate Park, it delighted me to see a father and daughter meander the trails, enjoying the nature that abounds.

Lupin and California Poppy

Sparsely peppering the landscape, the lupin and poppies are magnificent when finally blooming en mass. Hope it’s soon!

A Little "Shrine"

Someone has taken the time to collect rocks and such to adorn a tree stump. I love to see things like this. A personal touch to someone’s walk.

Garland Ranch Meadow

Expansive view of meadow with the mountains just beyond. Barely noticeable, lupin pepper the meadow. Other years, it’s a veritable pallet of color!

Peaceful River/Bridge Setting

I love to come down the path to the waters edge, listening to the river as it rushes over rocks. Very calming.

Carmel River @ Garland Ranch State Park

Secondary bridge—just discovered this on my last trip—set low and close to the river at Garland Park

Carmel River @ Garland Ranch State Park

Reflections—of all sorts—are things I love the most. Here, trees reflect in the beautiful Carmel River.

Trees Meet Meadow at Garland Park

The diversity of meadows, rolling hills and mountains peppered with oaks, willow and manzanita draw me forward. If it wasn’t for the heat, I could have walked for much longer…

Dry Meadow at Garland Park

Our drought has created dry meadows that should have beautiful wild flowers…

Respite in the Shade at Garland Park

On this warm day of my meandering, shaded oasis along the warm trail was a welcome sight.

Bridge Overcrossing at Garland Park

I love walking around down by the river. Not so quite today, as there were two very chatty mates across the river (just out of the photo) and a woman with her two retrievers delighted to bound in and out of the river (also just of the photo)

Carmel River-More Reflections

Such tranquility down by the river—a quiet moment before individuals broke the silence.

Garland Park-Carmel River

Reflective in nature, a serene view of Carmel River

Garland Park-Dogs at Play

Hiker’s dogs playing in Carmel River at Garland Park

Garland Park-Reflections

Looking down the Carmel River, reflections abound, making me one happy camper.

 

Calling All Tweeners and Teens (MG/YA)

I’VE HAD AN AH-HA MOMENT AND CANNOT believe I hadn’t thought of it earlier.

Here I am blogging my little heart out with my personal musings, photography, art and information about my books, some of which might—just maybesome of the time—be of interest to my focus group (the middle- and high-school readers). Though the things I write about are always “clean”—wholesome and viewable by any age (I want to maintain my “G-rated” status), I must (much of the time) seem awfully boring to the middle grade and young adult readers.

That’s not my intent.
Honest.

So, to rectify that, I am looking for young writers, ages 10-17, that might be interested in using my blog platform to show off their writing and artistic skills. I know you are out there. I’ve seen evidence of it! Some truly awesome writing and art by so many young people! Depending on the number of submissions received, I will post on Wednesdays, at least once a month—I only need four to five regulars to post weekly. Submitted work will remain anonymous (if you wish, use a pen name)—unless you choose to reveal your true identity to the readers, but either way … when submitting, I will need real (legal) name, age and a verifiable email address and parents phone number (you are under-age…I need permission to do this).

What qualifies? Things that kids can related to, connect with … here’s the requirements:

Submissions may be poetry, prose, artistic or photo-journalistic in nature, about:

Excerpts from a story or poem you are writing
•Photos, artwork or sketches that tells a story
•Short stories about problems you encountered and have—or are attempting to—overcome
•Short stories about awesome teachers/instructors/adults that have help you overcome an issue/obstacle
•Tell us why you like to read—and what type of books you like to read
•Tell us why writing or art is a passion—and what types of writing or art you do
•What are the passions in your life?
•Let us know what kinds of things are lifting you up or dragging you down

You could even give us a book review of your favorite/least favorite book/poem. Show ’em how it’s done right, without putting the author down. This is not a school book report, don’t worry. Why did you like/dislike it? What made you pick it up to read in the first place? Did the book cover catch your eye or a friend recommend it? Or did a teacher force you to read it and you discovered it wasn’t so bad?

Other types of submissions will be considered on an individual basis.

Submissions should be (I will consider exceptions to this rule):
•No longer than 800 words
•Use less than ten photos (JPEGs no larger than 10mb)
•Verbiage must be clean—that means, think and write about what you want to want to say without vulgarity. No swear words. It is possible. (Submissions will not be automatically rejected, but I may return for re-writes with suggestions.)
•Photos must not be vulgar—I know … that is in the eye of the beholder, but please consider that my site is pretty much G-rated and I do not want to violate my readers’ trust. I will have the final say—I may choose to use it with a cautionary note to readers if I feel it is appropriate to what you are trying to convey.

Pass this link on to others you think might be interested in participating. As soon as I get materials from a few of you, I’ll begin posting on Wednesdays—I’ll announce the first post the Friday before. Together, we can make things work.

Good Intentions and Detours

A WRITER FRIEND OF MINE POSTED on FB recently—something about procrastination—that she normally doesn’t and cannot understand the reasons for those that do.

As a confirmed procrastinator, I—perhaps too proudly—responded with my affirmation and preceded to explain why it happens with me.

And that got me to thinking—always…I repeat, always a dangerous thing 😉

My life is filled. Filled with lists of things to do, places to go, things to see, people to talk with, books to read (not necessarily in that order) … so much stuff. My intention is to get it all done. But, I find it seldom works out the way I plan. Life happens. Maybe, for lack of a better word, doldrums sets in, or pain happens or things explode (figuratively, of course) from out of nowhere. Or, I simply get lazy. Yes, I said lazy.

Hmmph. Not being accountable to anyone but God can and does make me lazy sometimes. It shouldn’t, but it does. Free will can definitely have it’s bad side. I can see Him staring down at me, slowly shaking his head when I choose to chill rather than be doing something—anything—on that long list of mine. My excuse—and yes, it is an excuse (even if it is legitimate)—is my pain. And/or fatigue. Once upon a time I’d just “do it” anyway. The heck with it—”…till you drop” is the way I used to go. But the level of pain and fatigue I’m willing to live with is beginning to be my decision maker. The big question is, should it be??

So, with these ideas fresh in my mind, I set out to knock out one or two of my “to do” items on my ever-growing list. Mind you, I was not looking at priorities, because if that was the case, I’d be working inside on my taxes. I wanted to be outside. It was beautiful. Not too hot, not too cold. “Just right”, as Goldilocks would say.

At first, my body resisted the idea of getting outside to weed. I couldn’t find the hula-hoe (this is an amazing little device—every gardener should have one!) … had to do some serious searching and wondered if it was worth it. Yes. But, I think I unconsciously chose the closest thing that needed weeding—just to get it done. It also happened to be one of the hardest bits of dirt around the yard. Filled with base rock (can you say cement??) I’m laughing now, but at the time … oh, the moaning and groaning (insert huge sweaty grin). It didn’t take too long—perhaps ten to fifteen minutes—of hard labor. It was just a tiny patch, under the eaves along the kitchen wall. Maybe a foot wide and twenty feet long. I drug myself back into the house to have a drink of tea and rested. Serious rest. Complaining all the while to myself at how out of shape I was. Panting, shaking from such little work. Honestly …

But, once I was feeling better, I cautiously went back out and looked at what I’d accomplished. Not bad. I felt good about it. So good that I went to work on weeding a much larger area out by the driveway. Last year I’d planned on creating a parking pad near the front drive’s gate … with a retaining wall, a plant-arbored gate … didn’t happen. I think I may actually get it done this year (insert grin)—yep, it will get done. I’m sure. When I finished the area, I was tired and sore, but felt very good about what I’d accomplished. It is nice to see the results of hard work.

I rewarded myself with lunch (and a yummy dessert—I’d burned enough calories to enjoy it without feeling guilty) and pondered what else I could do. The tax return—piles of receipts waiting to be sorted and recorded—was still waiting for me, quietly tapping me on the shoulder. I vetoed it. The mind-numbing number crunching would have to wait for another day. I went back out and did a bit more weeding—well, raking with a sort of thatcher rake (not sure what it’s real name is)—in the patio/”lawn” area. Not quite as much enthusiasm as before, but I was definitely getting excited at all of the “improvements” I was seeing. Did I mention I have a tendency of going overboard. I was going to do more, but my energy levels were diminishing fast.

And, I was also starting to feel the consequences of so much work. Not muscle pain from unused muscles—I keep myself busy enough so that is not much of an issue—but rather, flat-out fatigue … and my arthritis rearing it’s ugly head. This is the reason I usually try to reign in how much I do and when I do it. The problem is, when I’m really excited about what I’m accomplishing, that kinda goes out the window.

The same “bout of excitement” happened the Saturday Open Ground Studios was up for an award—while other members helped kids/adults paint and print things, I spent the whole day standing (a no-no) or bent over (a really bad no-no) working with kids and adults making accordion books. We all had a blast making our presence known and our director, Denese—and Open Ground Studios—won … and it took three days for me to recover from the enthusiasm. So worth every bit of the pain!

Then, yesterday I completely ignored everything on my to-do list—especially the piles of tax receipts—and spent a lovely late afternoon and evening with a friend. That’s important. I don’t have it on the to-do list, but it is equally important to spend time with friends. A delightful and necessary detour in my busy life. We had a grand time … dinner at the Fishwife Restaurant in Pacific Grove, then we braved blustery, chilly—no, rephrase that—icy cold weather as we climbed over rocks and across sand to get the perfect pictures of a moonrise, crashing waves and finally, a sunset (and I will reward you with a few shots taken yesterday). They are not perfect, as I still have not had the camera cleaned (insert huge frown).

Sunset at Asilomar

One of several view of a sunset along the coast of Pacific Grove

Rocky Vantage of Sunset

Playing with angles, ragged rock in foreground

Moonrise at Asilomar

Playing with surroundings to capture the moonrise

Moonrise at Asilomar2

More playing with imagery

Waiting for Sunset at Asilomar

Blustery weather as we waited for the sun to set along the coast

Moonrise and Chain Fence

Love capturing the landscape surrounding a moonrise or sunset

Procrastination has presented me with a mile long (and then some) list of things to do, in no order particular of priority or preference. I do an internal check of my energy/pain levels and decide from there. I used to get very frustrated at how much I could not accomplish. Now, I just go with the flow. Things will get done—eventually. And I’m happy when they do. No stressing now. That’s all that matters for me. In any case, I’m not sure I’d defend procrastination for others, but I do see that it has it’s place—at least in my life—if one doesn’t fret about the list that grows. And grows.

What’s on your procrastination list? And do you fret about it or take my philosophy?

May your days be filled with a list of blessings, peppered within your “to-do” list.

On the Road Again …

SEEMS LIKE I’M DOING PLENTY OF TRAVELING this year. I didn’t plan it that way, it just happened. I love these kind of things (insert huge grin here) because I’m all for spontaneity. Makes life interesting, right? (R I G H T !)

This time around, I’m finding myself a wee bit less organized, but I’m not going to sweat it. I left behind quite a few food items for the trip (pout), so I have had to spend a little extra money, but it’s all good in the end. I am having to make do with some very interesting meals, using some interesting

Kale caught in container

Not sure I’ll be eating my kale anytime soon …

things … like the kale that didn’t want to be eaten (microwaved it a little too long and the two plastic items pressurized and I couldn’t get them apart … for quite awhile).

I had an opportunity to spend some quality time (yet, I still have many things to see—another time …definitely) in Lebec. The Los Padres National Forest—and specifically Mt. Pinos—was delightful. The day could not have been better suited with a chilly morning start (maybe around 54 degrees Fahrenheit) and blossomed into a mild day (low to mid 70s, maybe), with an abundance of billowy clouds to delight me at

Mt. Pinos and Clouds

The mood was wonderful up near the 8000 ft level.

Clouds Playing Peekaboo

Clouds prominently peaked through the tree cover.

Poppies South of Gorman

These hills are usually peppered with poppies, lupine by now.

Sage, Pines and Clouds

Everywhere I turned, I was dazzled by the beauty and how well they played off each other.

Rock Critters

Who else sees creatures in those rocks. I laughed out loud at what I saw.

every corner. I just kept driving till I ran out of road—at around 8,300 feet. Breathtaking views. Trees, the delightfully scented sage … and of course those clouds. Oh, yes!

Have you ever laid back and tried to identify things in those clouds? I did as a child—and still do as an adult. Fanciful, perhaps, but I prefer to think that it may be one of the things that keeps me young at heart. Well, how about seeing things in rocks? They caught my eye as I drove up the mountain—with no place to pull over—so I found a spot on my way down to park so I could capture these creatures before they got away.

I also poked around on back roads that turned out to be frontage roads, paralleling the freeway between Lebec and Gorman that takes locals from one town to another. Part of it was “not maintained by county”—which means: dirt road.

Windy Dirt Road

Part of a frontage road between Lebec and Gorman. Fun. Really.

I love an adventure. The road was actually very nicely groomed, albeit gravel. And it was only a small section of road … maybe a half mile or so. The rest was paved and well maintained. I stayed (mostly) on the west side of the freeway. Next time, my adventures will take me around the back roads on the east side—now that I know how to get there.

My primary purpose for this trip was to be two-fold: the Jameson Family Reunion and (I was hoping) a book signing/meet-n-greet. Our clan hasn’t had a big get-together in at least 20 years. It was about time! Unfortunately, the book signing fell through (I even gave the local Barnes and Nobles copies of my books as an incentive to block a date). So, instead, I chose to concentrate on photography for blogging and potentially my art. I think I’ve found a few that may be print-worthy … plenty for the blogosphere. And, I managed to sneak in an appointment with my “money guy”.

I spent my first night at one of my cousin’s and yesterday their daughter and I went for a photo walk. (She is a delightful special-needs adult and we have had so much fun getting to know each other.) So much fun!

Michelle's View: Photographer Photographing Photographer

I had no clue she took this one. We were looking at the Elephant Ear plant (it’s only a baby) when she snapped this.

Michelle's View: Driveway

I love the contrast of grass, cement/design and plants in foreground. 

Michelle's View: Lawn "Ornaments"

Michelle saw me taking photos of the man made objects, and she captured them nicely.

Michelle's View: Sky & Palms

The contrasts are sweet, simply showing silhouettes against the sky.

I downloaded all of the photos she took onto a thumb drive for her parents, but I kept the originals. Here are a few I think are well composed. I’ll never really know what she was trying to capture—or the reason behind each shot … but I like each one—especially once she got a hang of my little point and shoot! She allowed one photo to be put in the trash, otherwise, she’s kept the whole lot she shot.

After my appointment (today), I managed to slip over to Newport Beach to take some pictures at the harbor. I haven’t been there since I was a tweener or teenager at a family gathering. I did find a cute little book store (insert grin) in the harbor district and had fun in there … and chatted with staff about my book.

Reflections and Quirky Boat

The little round boat had me fascinated. Wish I could have found out more about it!

Vast Masts ...

I have a fondness for masts. They fascinate me.

Hrbor Reflections

I’m captivated by reflections (I’ve got another I’m saving for another time)

I think a few of the photos—mostly about reflective qualities I found–are nice enough to show in this blog. One I especially like (completely reflective in nature) I’m holding back for something else.

Right now, I’m chilling at my hotel room, sipping on tea whilst I decompress today’s freeway driving—and trying to get this blog done before the midnight bells toll … a promise is a promise! Me thinks I’ll make it! Yay!

Living in the country can make all the freeway driving in the “Big City” a bit overwhelming, but I’ve learned that you can do one of three things: freak out at the craziness all around you (I must admit … having my talking-GPS allows me to concentrate on the crazy drivers and not miss my turns—and knowing basically which roads I want helps too); or stress over every little inch you gain or lose in your attempts to move forward watching the clock the entire way (I used to do that … shakes head …), or simply chill and realize you’ll get there—eventually. I choose the last one. It allows me to laugh at the other two types of drivers as they pass me, then end up behind me, then pass me again. I just sit back, drive and grin as I listen to some awesome music.

I’m closing now so that I can get a good night’s sleep, for tomorrow begins the Jameson festivities … a little too early (wink, wink), me thinks. But I know it will be fun to get reacquainted with all of my cousins that I haven’t seen in years … and meet all the new family members that have since joined the clan via marriages or births.

Hope there’s no quiz at the end to test our memories for everyone’s names—way too big a family for that!

Hope everyone has a blessed weekend.

 

 

 

 

 

All In Good Time … Patience

WAITING. PATIENCE. QUEUES. How are you at waiting? I think, once upon a time, I had an over abundance of patience—kinda necessary when raising a child (or working with children), both of which I’ve done. Friends would say I had “the patience of Job”—took me awhile to realize what they were saying. What a complement. But … I think, when my daughter reached fifth grade and I was a co-coach (for the fourth consecutive year) to seven kids on an Odyssey of the Mind team … with all their new-found hormone-spewing emotions, something happened to that unending supply … it kinda got up and went. Escaped, really. Fled, screaming and yelling into the night. I loved each and every one of them—we’d become a close knit family—but I swore never to coach again. Never.

After that, well … I had a “normal” level of patience (what is “normal” anyway??). It would ebb and flow depending on the situation. As I grew older and wiser (insert sniggering grin), patience was easier to muster. It was almost like the “old” me had regained some of that youthful reserve. There are still times where I find myself pushing when I could be chillin’, but not as bad … definitely.

Waiting in lines? I actually have found it fun. I use the time to people watch. Watch their impatience or passivity—how they handle waiting. I decided to look up some quotes about patience and this one by Joyce Meyer fits in here perfectly: “Patience is not simply the ability to wait—it’s how we behave while we’re waiting.” Perhaps they need to be somewhere five minutes ago (oh, I do remember that)—getting agitated, trying to make things go faster, complaining, maybe even making nasty comments. Sometimes it can be quite comical (not their intention, but that’s how I see it that way) and I need to squelch a giggle or smile.

Watching people, like I said … but also interacting with them. I’ve found striking up conversations while in line helps pass the time, too. Once, while “suffering” through the summer heat and l-o-n-g lines at Disneyland, I pulled out a bag of freshly washed string beans and we three (father, very young daughter and yours truly) started munching. Cool, sweet and perfectly healthy. People in line would stare and then comment on how smart it was to bring such an easy and nutritious snack (and wishing they’d thought of it). Then the conversations began. Time flew. Stress flew out the window. Perfect.

Other times, as I stood in the grocery store lines, with my daughter in tow, I’d strike up conversations with people. My daughter used to look horrified as I talked with complete strangers (after all, hadn’t I taught her not to talk with strangers?)—only to find out the horror was not caused by that, but the fact that is was so easy for me to chat with a complete stranger. She finally asked: “How did you do it?” Hmmm. I honestly couldn’t tell her—at least not at the time. I know now. Having faith and simply allowing it to happen. Make the first move, say hi or simply make a positive comment about something happening while we are waiting or compliment/comment about something they are wearing or purchasing (“oh … my, that cake looks yummy!”). It’s easy. Doesn’t require any thought, really. Then let nature take its course. It may stop right there, or in may evolve into a complex discussion about something totally unrelated. I love it (insert grin).

As a writer, photographer and artist, I have found that patience is, indeed, a virtue. I’m not as too good at being patient whilst waiting for the “right” shot—many times I give up just before the optimal opportunity arises—and kick myself in the rear for not waiting just a wee bit longer, missing an extraordinary shot or two. I have garnered an abundance as a writer, but it has been a long, painful haul. One does not rush writing or art—and obviously, taking pictures if you want to catch the “perfect” shot. But, especially with writing and art, when it happens, it happens. It is so obvious—at least to me—when things get rushed. This is why, even though I’m way past my self-imposed deadline for my book, I am not rushing. I want to get it right. I want it to be the best it can be.

Patience?

Definitely a virtue and one to hold close as we navigate through this life.

I’ll leave you with some little gems I gleaned from my search on patience. Have a blessed day, filled with love and patience for your fellow man and in all the things you run up against, both big and small.

  • Patience is a virtue: “Only Patience has the strength needed by all the others (virtues), from Psychomachia (Battle of spirits) by the Late Antique Latin poet Prudentius, during the early fifth century A.D.
  • “Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there some day.”
    A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh
  • “A waiting person is a patient person. The word patience means the willingness to stay where we are and live the situation out to the full in the belief that something hidden there will manifest itself to us.”
    Henri J.M. Nouwen
  • “The strongest of all warriors are these two — Time and Patience.”
    Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace
  • You can learn many things from children.  How much patience you have, for instance.  ~Franklin P. Jones
  • Genius is nothing but a great aptitude for patience.  ~George-Louis de Buffon
  • Adopt the pace of nature:  her secret is patience.  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish.  ~John Quincy Adams
  • Have patience, my friend, have patience;
    For Rome wasn’t built in a day!
    You wear yourself out for nothing
    In many and many a way!
    Why are you nervous and fretty
    When things do not move along fast;
    Why let yourself get excited
    Over things that will soon be past?
    ~Gertrude Tooley Buckingham, “Patience” (1940s)
  • Patience is the companion of wisdom.  ~St. Augustine
  • Patience is also a form of action. ~Auguste Rodin
  • One moment of patience may ward off great disaster.  One moment of impatience may ruin a whole life.  ~Chinese Proverb

Fandom

YEAH … IF YOU HAVEN’T ALREADY FIGURED IT OUT, I’m a Doctor Who fan:  “FAN noun | a person who has a strong interest in or admiration for a particular sport, art form, or famous person : football fans | I’m a fan of this author. DERIVATIVES fandom |ˈfandəm| noun
image  ORIGIN late 19th cent. (originally U.S.): abbreviation of fanatic.”
I’m not as — hmmm … how do I say this without offending? — not as crazy about it as some … like I was as a Trekkie when I was a teen. The über enthusiasm. Willing to queue for hours just to get an autograph and/or photo — with my Swinger camera — of my fave actor (Spock aka Leonard Nimoy). The encyclopaedic facts … I knew everything about the program, about the actors, wanting to attend anything remotely connected to Star Trek … about … well, everything. I just loved it. A lot. A true fan(atic). As a Doctor Who fan, image I can’t tell you all the minute details, or even remember all the Doctors (they are adding up — there are twelve of them now). I don’t feel as vested as I did as a young adult. I’m sure this change has to do with my age. At least, I think (though I do know a Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan that is at least my age that borders on fanatic — both my daughter and I were a bit creeped-out at his level of interest). In addition to the hundreds (thousands?) of youngsters in attendance — infant through teen and young adult, there were quite a few in and around my age (older and a wee bit imageyounger than I). I was completely surprised at the age span of attendees that were there for the entire weekend, milling about, attending the seminars, getting their photos taken with the writers, production crew and the actors … and generally, having a terrific time. Now, had River Song (Alex Kingston) been

David Tennent Lookalike

Pretty good look alike of David Tennent, the tenth Doctor. Kinda fun to see such a good impersonator. Very quite guy…

there, I might — just might — have taken the time to queue up and pay for a photo and autograph with her. Unfortunately, she couldn’t get away from a imagecommitment in NY (weather & production delays) — insert huge pout, so I’m hoping she’ll be at the Gallifrey One convention next year — and hopefully, I can get a ticket. Apparently, it’s a tricky thing getting tickets — they are gone in a flash. Sure hope I can. I have such great plans!

(Sniggle) Oh, I can see this is going to be one of those blogs that have a myriad of tangents … and is super long. I’m going to apologize now image(insert impish grin). Oops. Just try to follow along.

Now … I can go without it — the tv show — without knowing all the minute details, not being current with the ongoing series — without going bonkers. As a teen watching Star Trek, and even as a young adult following the antics of the at-the-time current Doctor, I never missed a weekly episode — and agonized when we went on a trip or when  they went into their annual hiatus. Now, it’s not such a big deal. When I could, I’d go onto the internet (when it was finally an option) and search for any new-to-me episodes. But I am so far behind it isn’t funny. I don’t have NetFlix … just Amazon Prime (and have just figured out how to use it). And it doesn’t really matter. I love it when I can watch it, but I don’t get bent out of shape when I cannot.

After this weekend, I am now “current” … I saw the last Christmas Special and it was good — except there is a huge gaping crevasse with only a few

Lighted Hat with the TARDIS

Had to laugh…this guy had a harness at waist level (hidden under the outfit he was wearing) that he used to either light up his hat with a solid image, or flashing (as in when it slowly disappeared) or in off mode.
Loved it!

stepping stones (some episodes of the newer Doctors) in between linking me back to the classic series where I began the Doctor Who journey.

The “old” fan me (is that grammatically correct??) would dress to the nines, wearing and buying all the “stuff” from the conventions and from PBS’s quarterly pitches for money when they offered up Dr Who swag as incentive to dontate. I still have quite a bit of my Trekkie stuff and even some old books, etc from the Classic Doctor Who series. Somewhere in storage. Maybe, before next year, I’ll have to see if I can find it.

The TARDIS at Marriott Hotel

Someone brought a TARDIS to put on their balcony. I love it!

That may be a monumental task not worth taking at this time. I do know (not knowing the value at the time) that I gave away some of the Doctor Who books and goodies (gasp) to my daughter and friends. Sadly, at my age, they really are just things.

The “new” fan me did purchase a bunch of little inexpensive goodies to give to my more avid Doctor Who friends…gifts to be dispensed at the weekly NaNoWriMo writers meeting. It was fun seeing who wants what. I love to gift things. So much more fun than hoarding things, don’t you think? I did buy a Fourth Doctor scarf (Tom Baker was my introduction to the series through the local PBS stations … and my favorite of the Classic series. I think David Tennent, the tenth Doctor, is my favorite of the newer Doctors) — I’ve been wanting one of Baker’s scarves from the very beginning, but I was too much of a scrooge to justify the cost. It was expensive, but well worth it. The weather back home is not frigid like the Midwest or East Coast (thank goodness), but for us, the mornings are pretty chilly — nearly year round! And it’s great to wear when I have the top down on my Miata. So, I’ve already enjoyed wearing it in the mornings and when I’ve taken the Miata out for a spin. Snuggily warm (insert grin). I also (last minute) purchased one of the cute little dresses — really made for teens, right? It has many hand-drawn TARDIS, Cybyermen, Daleks and Weeping Angels (in black, on white). It’s cute — but if I wear it in public, it will definitely be with leggings … or pants — it is a wee bit too short for this old fogey — don’t want to damage anyone’s eyes. Oh, yes. I also bought a Sonic Screwdriver (tenth Doctor’s, I think), but it’s a bit wonky. Works when it wants to (even changing the batteries didn’t help).

I did have fun with the fandom’s ribbon thing … many, many participants and attendees came with bags full of ribbons (with an adhesive strip so you can stick them together) that had not so random things printed on them  most referencing something said in an episode. My favorite was:

Ribbonated

Some of my collection of ribbons

“Permission to Squeee” — I love to squeee, right? I loved it … that is, until I saw the episode at the convention where the character asks permission to squeee, then he gets vaporized (insert frown). LOL. I received my very first one at the registration table (since it was my first year) and was told I’d been “ribbonated” as she handed me a black ribbon with gold block lettering: “THING”. I laughed. At first, I thought, “right…I’ll probably get two or three of these…” but found it was quite addictive. I found myself keeping an eye out for either clusters of people swarmed around a person, or people with little baggies in hand — both clues that there were ribbons for the asking. My hotel roomie, Renée is a wee bit bashful and in past years has collected only a few. With my help — I just politely asked for two … one for my roomie and one for me (99.9% of the time, they said yes) — she ended up with enough requiring her to clip them up so she wouldn’t trip on them. I plan on bringing my own next year so I can hand out and exchange (some were only available as an exchange, so I missed out on those). Renée and I put our heads together and figured out a phrase for one of them … something to do with books being dangerous. I think I may

Secrets Beyond Scymaria Swag

There were multiple tables participants/attendees could leave brochures, bookmarks, etc. I couldn’t pass up the chance to do a little advertising…
Next year I’ll be prepared with ribbons!

try to come up with one more. I’ve got a year to figure it out. And cross my fingers I am able to get a ticket (they are sold out within ten minutes, I think, and in 2016, there are no transfers … which is how I acquired mine for this year). Here’s hoping…

My apologies that some of the photos have captions/descriptions and some don’t. When I loaded them, I filled in all the important info, but I’m not seeing it on the first ones, as I insert them into the blog. I’m really not sure why. I will hopefully have this resolved before I post this, but in case I can’t figure it out, there should be a description when you click on the individual photos. We’ll see.

To say I had fun was an understatement. Not staying at the hosting hotel was not a negative — with it about two blocks away, I got a good amount of walking in, which for me is a very good thing. Especially with my poor choices in food, it helped to keep me from adding unwanted pounds. And the walking was good for me. I’m just glad that the smog wasn’t bad — the weather was actually quite excellent … blue skies, temps in the 75-85 degree range. In fact, terrific! I’m only sorry I didn’t venture out to the outlying area (which happens to be my old stomping grounds) — I didn’t want to lose my parking space … a very precious commodity in the city. I would have had time, but I’m not complaining. There was plenty to do and see at the convention. Next time, I’ll plan time before or after the convention to visit the various places I grew up in and around.

Wow. Time to close this rambling post. Hope you’ve enjoyed it. Even as I’m polished this one, my mind has begun pondering the next blog — triggered by memories. (Insert huge grin…)

I wish you and your family a week filled with discoveries and memories — big and small, precious and heart wrenching — they make us who we are.

 

 

 

It’s All About The Focus

HAVE YOU EVER BEEN SO FOCUSED ON SOMETHING that you lose sight of everything else? I find that happens to me on a regular basis before I remember to stop and think about what I am truly after. Then I take a step back and look at things from a different viewpoint. Makes all the difference in the world.

Take for example the quest for a well defined photo of the full moon. Every month, I am foiled by weather (too many clouds or fog) … or merely too tired to drag myself outside. I’ve tried to snap shots with my iPhone, but details are useless. Bright white light in a dark sky. Boring, right? (What I really want is a photo like the one just below—taken on a previous full moon, with a  clear sky.)

IMGP5208

Near Full Moon

Well, last night, I was looking out my kitchen window—the window to my back yard and easterly sky. There it was. Bright as could be…nearly full, but puffy little clouds blanketed the sky in patches obscuring in now and then. Just enough light in the sky, cast by the moon, to make the framework of trees just barely visible. Beautiful. If I was patient, I could get a good shot of the moon.

Immediately, I went out to shoot—tomorrow it will be heavily blanketed with clouds, for sure. In the rush of the moment, I took only my iPhone. What was I thinking?

Cloudy Moonlit Sky

Clouds lace the sky, lit by the moon

Shapes in the clouds

Moonlit sky highlight fascinating shaped clouds.

But, as I pondered my mistake (seriously considering on trudging back in and pulling out my Pentax), trying desperately to focus on the moon alone, taking shots as the clouds kept obscuring the moon. Then I realized I was missing out on the beauty the entire sky was so grandly presenting me. (Note: remember, you can click on the individual photos to see them enlarged)

I stood silently for awhile, taking in the magnificence of the scene, then

Moonlit Cloudy Sky

Oops…forgot to rotate. In my rush to upload, moon should be at the bottom—sorry.

Moonlit Sky

Again, right side should be at the bottom.
Perhaps I’ll play with this later in curves to bring out the beauty of the clouds.

Hiding Moon

Well, I can tell this should be rotated (right side to bottom). Sorry.
It looks like an inverted photo—a negative. Do you see the strange, ghostlike face?

More Shape-Playing

Some fascinating images. What do you see?

shifted my focus from photographing details of the moon to the beauty of the shadows and light reflections the moon was casting in the sky. I am so glad I did.

I love the shots I took, even if they are grainy (night shots, iPhone…what can I say). Still have to upload to my computer, so I haven’t seen them on a big screen yet. I’ll do that right now—you’ll get first shot at viewing them. Nor have I edited them in any way—some are sideways (sorry) and some do not reflect the magnificence of the moonlit shadows on the clouds. I may play with them at a later date and re-post (or add them to the end) them so you can see the delightful light-play on the clouds more clearly.

This post was a last minute endeavor—my apologies. I’ve been dealing with the fallout of a lovely sinus infection all week—I am definitely on the mend now, thanks to antibiotics. I’ll be leaving on my delayed sojourn in Southern California tomorrow (now that I’m up to it), with stops in various places on the way and I’ll be sure to have my camera(s) out so I can share my adventures with you. Promise.

In the meantime, may this Friday and the upcoming week be one filled with adventures, ups and downs that are manageable and a delight or two to keep you bouyed. Don’t forget—Valentine’s Day is just around the corner (no pressure…wink-wink), so start thinking about your loved ones.

My Valentine’s Day (and weekend) will be at a Dr. Who convention. This ought to be interesting.

Have a delightful, blessed week.

A Cornucopia of Thoughts…

LIFE HAS BEEN AMAZINGLY GOOD for me over the years. Even when I look back and recall the trials and tribulations that have popped up again and again. They have shaped me, tempered me into who I am today.

As a child, I felt ostracized. Different from others because I was such a “dummy”—and danced to a different drum. I loved art, read voraciously (once I learned to deal with my dyslexia), and was just coming into my own both artistically and as a writer. Sadly, school did a great job of squelching my artistic side and my peers squelched my writing.  I learned to do any art or writing “in secret”, not showing anyone, until it finally faded into distant memories, lying dormant for what felt like ages. I did continue to read though, and in my subconscious, my painterly and writerly sides were preparing themselves.

It wasn’t until much later in my life that I started to do both again.

I did manage to keep playing with my cameras. First (as a middle schooler) a Swinger—the kids version of the Polaroid camera and a Kodak Instamatic…then a neat little video camera–prehistoric compared to what’s out there today. Sadly, I never developed the last roll on it from my days at the original Pepperdine University in Watts during the civil unrest. Sometimes I wonder if there is someone out there that could salvage it. Then, as an adult, I graduated to an Olympus SLR. Together, my husband and I would go camping and take copious photos of our trips. I have many, many wonderful years of memories from that camera. My husband purchased it for me–selling an old collectable camera to get this new one (and several lenses) for me. So sweet. I didn’t realize it at the time, but those were pretty sweet treasures he gave up for me. I wish I’d known (insert serious guilt here).

That Olympus saw some serious usage—and abuse (well, mostly the lenses, but the body as well). It was responsible for scooping up the frosting off my nephew’s cake (I don’t think his mom ever completely forgave me for destroying her beautiful creation…)—for some reason, I had to reach over to the other side of the table while I was wearing the camera around my neck…oops.

And, was never the same after my little ‘incident’ in a helicopter that couldn’t stay in the sky…all the dings left in the body jostled the mirrors big time. Even though we sent it in for repairs…it just wasn’t the same. I never sold it…just finally retired it to a drawer. Perhaps some day, I’ll pull it out and give it a go—if I want to try my hand at film again (I am so over-the-moon sold on digital)…

I have drawers…many drawers filled with little boxes of negatives and packages of photos—both mine and my husband’s. Many of them are from before we even knew each other. Memories of his I’ll never fully understand without him there to explain the photos…where and why they were taken, the subjects in the photos—things like that. I haven’t taken the time to go through any of them (his or mine)—sorting the good shots from the bad…and the multiples. Maybe because there’s still too many memories attached to most of them. When my husband and I went on a trip, many times we ended up capturing the same image. Sometimes, it was interesting to see if there were any differences—little nuances that one might have seen that the other did not. Occasionally, yes.

At some point, when my daughter was beginning to show an interest in photography, we ended up with two Pentax K-100 digital cameras—one for me, one for her—plus matching tripods…and accessories (insert huge grin here)—lots of accessories. I don’t even know how long ago that was—middle school? Freshman in high school? We’d go out on little photo walks, taking pictures and—sometimes the three of us, but usually, just the two of us. I loved those times. All too soon, she grew up and away, spending more time with friends, taking photography classes and spreading her wings in preparation of flying off into her own life. We both still own our Pentax cameras. I’ve added a few lenses plus different sizes of tripods while she has stayed with the original equipment that came with hers (though, she is thinking of upgrading—I’m glad to see that). I’ve also purchased several other cameras (Canon and Nikon), but always find that I fall back on my Pentax for trips or when I just want something comfortable and familiar.

My pivotal year for writing was probably 1999. My storytelling in the schools was winding down to just a few a year. I’d started scribbling thoughts onto paper the year before, with the idea of doing personalized short stories—perhaps even transcribing the taped classroom stories and creating an anthology of those, but when my mom died suddenly in the spring of ’99, that all changed. That’s when I took on the responsibility of watching after my dad, who was in the early stages of Alzheimer’s, and I had more time on my hands—so I wrote…and wrote. I found myself getting more serious with it and it started to become what I now fondly call my “never-ending story” that is still unfolding, even today. I did create some personalized short stories for some people, but it never took off, even though I do still offer the service.

Then, it was about four or five years ago that I seriously started tinkering with art, taking classes at one of our local community colleges. As my skills improved, I had this grand idea (when the Fort Ord area opened up and the housing went up for sale) to purchase four of the barracks and turn them into an art haven of sorts…yup—a grand idea…that never came to fruition.

Whilst I mulled over that idea, I became aware of a new venture proposed by one of the teachers at the community college I attended. Being lazy, and far short of the needed capital to begin my own venture, I turned my energies over to this lovely, creative lady, Denese Sanders. Her ideas and plans were sound and, though less grand than my own (and therefore, far more doable financially), would be more likely to make it off the ground! Open Ground Studios came into being almost two years ago and I have loved every minute there—being part of this creative community, making friends, taking classes/workshops, learning and creating art. OGS fills a much needed niche in the community and I’m glad I’m part of it. I’ve turned into the unofficial photographer for events too—capturing people being creative—and I love that.

Just the other day, in my busy rushing around—running to Open Ground Studios to work on my writing and then onto a sundry of little chores, I stopped off at my daughter’s home and we chatted for a bit. At the end, we discussed her upcoming birthday—deciding when to celebrate with the traditional birthday dinner. And as I left, she asked if I was free on the Friday before to go to Point Lobos with our cameras. I imagine my face answered the question quite easily—I probably had a grin from ear to ear. The thought of a simple walk in my favorite park is delightful, but to include my daughter and cameras was more than perfect. Of course, I said yes. Wheee!

Art, in whatever form one chooses—and writing, can create a very insulated, quiet life. It is very easy to become a bit of a hermit. So, finding ways to interact becomes important. Time spent with my daughter, chatting, tromping (hmm…maybe we should tippy-toe if we want to capture any wildlife) through the underbrush, trees and over rocks is a wonderful way to socialize. I can hardly wait for that Friday! Another is to spend time at Open Ground Studios, where I can, of course, find time to spend alone to work (whether it be art or writing), but can also find other artists to engage in conversation, to observe them working on their art form. Plus, there are always workshops and classes going on at OGS, so I get to learn and improve my skills as I socialize. The best of both worlds.

I know this blog has become quite inelegant…rambling hither and yon, but these are thought that needed to be sung out in this new year. The joys of art, of photography, of writing—of life…the frustrations that accompany growing up…trials and tribulations—and joys of life.

It’s what makes us who we are, don’t you think?