Week Nine … but not really

GIGGLE … JUST WENT BACK TO CHECK my “weeks”. Not sure how I ended up at nine weeks. My first “week” was nine days long, but even if I did two days then a regular seven, I still wouldn’t be at week nine <insert eye roll>. This should really be week seven—but I’m not going to confuse readers at this point. We’ll stick with Week Nine.

Church in Bath

Don’t forget to click on photos to enlarge.

Having purchased our 24-hr passes on Thursday (we were ensured the timing began upon first “hop-on”), Friday morning had Sandy heading off to Stonehenge and I spent my time on the View from the Hop-on Hop-off bus in Bath Birds-eye View of Bath River Boat Rides Hop-on Hop-off bus for most of the morning in Bath: two of the City Centre tours—one was recorded, the other was live. Much preferred the live—the recorded version sounded like an advert for Bath <insert serious eye roll …> with some mild falsehoods thrown in. I tookGarfunkel Restaurant in Bath's City Centre a break for lunch at Garfunkel’s at the Empire after the two City Centre trips. Nice place. If you ate inside, you could spend your meal listening to Simon and Garfunkel music, but it was entirely too warm for that, so I was on the patio, under an umbrella, trying to cool off. Then, I hopped on the HH that took me to the outer parts of the city—including a huge garden that would have been wonderful to wander through … but when I saw how hilly it was, I knew there would be no way I’d see much in the heat, so simply stayed on the bus. (After asking the driver about the “start time”, I discovered we’d not been told the truth— River Boat Ridestime began with the date stamp from the prior day—so I’d pretty much used up my time). With a quiet grumble, I hopped off and wandered the streets a bit, taking photos, then trudged back to the hostel, disillusioned with Bath’s HH buses and the tourist centre.

Bath has a thing aboutOne of the Many Owl Sculptures Owl Sculpture near City Centre Plant-sculpted Owl in City Centre Park Owl sculpture in court yard Owl sculpture in mall Owl Sculpture across from Backpackers Hostel in Bath owls. I was seeing them everywhere I turned. A local artist creates them, places them throughout the City Centre and then they are auctioned off in the fall with proceeds going to several worthy organisations. Very neat idea! I was going to use the HH to discover all their locations and photograph them all, but the weather simply had not cooperated and I’d need a new HH pass.  I did not get all the owls … too many in the far corners of the city.

On Saturday, we found ourselves craving a different environment, so we drove to Bristol proper. After a wee hiccup (went to a suburb first 🙄) and some bend-over-backwards help from staff at the Mercure Brigstow (Bristol)Mercure Hotels sign Hotel, we found everything we needed to enjoy the town’s Hop-on Hop-off bus pick-up points. They hotel staff was amazingly helpful! Both of us wish we’d Fantastic Bristol Bus Tour Commentator City Centre in Bristol Marriage of Very Old, Old and New Buildings in Bristol Victorian Tall Shipcome here instead of Bath. Much more interesting environs, architecture, openness of locals💕 The HH (even though we only had a few hours) around town was hot but fun. I’ll be coming back to Bristol—definitely. Wonderful city, wonderful locals!

On Sunday, we were glad to leave Bath. It was too hot, too noisy and the city had a sameness to the architecture that I found boring. Plus the seagulls were making a racket from about 4am to 11pm; hostellers were not considerate of their fellow room mates and revelers in the street kept waking us up. I’ve never had such a negative impression of a town before. Never. Both of us were so glad to be leaving. And so looking forward to our stay at Part Y Seal B&B. Teehee … Navi sent us on a wild goose chase—dumping us in the middle of nowhere in front of the one and only farmhouse … obviously not what we were looking for (only one of a few times the postal code did not work to locate the next destination). I kept driving and thankfully we found a very helpful local that—even though he was exhausted from a bicycling race (he’d just arrived home when we pulled in behind him …), he pulled out his smart phone … and between son and father, they found our next stop for us. God bless the locals! They’ve been lovely.

Part Y Seal Bed and BreakfastThe heat (and lack of sleep for three days) really wiped us out. After showers, all we could muster was to hang out in our lovely room, windows and doors open for cross ventilation and listen to the sheep bleating in the distance. We did manage to get Large Zucchini Plant Beautiful Gardens Abound with Flowers Fresh egg in a bucket Flowers for the Senses and the Bees Sneak View of Part Y Seal's Gardeninto the garden briefly (once it had cooled somewhat), then retreated to our room again.

On Monday, we were off to visit Jo and Ian for a bit—the time had passed quite quickly. We were delighted that Jo and Ian wanted to spend more time with us, so Tuesday was spent poking around Raglan Castle. Raglan Castle in Wales Image of Tintern Abbey WallsIt was a beautifully preserved ruins—it even had a moat Moat with Water Lilies<insert monster grin>. We hated to even think about the fact we would have to leave the area on Wednesday. We had so much fun with Jo and Ian—both sitting around and “nattering” as Jo says or trudging around with them showing off the area. We popped over to the Café for a bit of a nosh and on Jo Hiding in Faerie Treethe way, we found a faerie tree! We had to check it out. Castles, waterfalls and abbys are their thing. They have this amazing video blog where, among other things, they showcase different areas in Wales—their newest venture is to video visits to each of the 130 CADW historical sites. This is in addition to their waterfall trips (put on hold due of the overly dry season has brought the waterfalls to less than a trickle!) … please do check out their website and vlog at Patreon.

We’ve been dealing with road construction during this entire adventure. Patience is a virtue—definitely—in these instances. And our Wednesday departure from Part Y Seal was no different (though, not nearly as bad as some bits). A three-hour drive turned into five hours, which necessitated several stops so the driver (me) could get out and stretch her legs. The stops are always turned into tea breaks (which I always laugh at, as it perpetuates part of the reason for the stops …) The scenery was spectacular as we wended through Wales and England. We arrived to Boathouse Hotel in The Boathouse Hotel in Holyhead, WalesHolyhead around 4pm. We were greeted with 19C temps (absolutely lovely!) And the forecast is for overcast to partially sunny skies. I’m in heaven. Our plan (as we drove into the area) was to spend Wednesday recuperatingHolyhead Harbour (we did poke around a bit), Thursday was for poking around Holyhead (and me talking with Hertz to finalise when I’d turn the car in) and Friday through Sunday would be spent exploring Snowdon Mountain area and a few towns I remember from an old CIV trip to the area. Both Sandy and I did do a walkabout on Wednesday—which helped me sleep quite soundly <grin> but apparently I snored—oooopsie (sooo sorry, Sandy)! Thursday was a bust for me—Sandy did do much more walking whilst I slaved over the blog … trying to get the photos uploaded (tricky internet connection—very spotty <insert quivering lower lip>. We decided that Friday will be a combo of poking around and starting our Snowdonia adventure—maybe fewer photos next week than this of the areas we visit … I’ve no clue what our next location’s internet reception will be like. Finally managed an internet connection, so enjoy the remainder of the photos (the ones of me are courtesy of Jo). Have a good giggle …

Our time abroad is winding down rapidly—I’ve mixed feelings about that. But, there will other trips … I bid you adieu, wishing you a blessed Friday, weekend and upcoming week.

Squash FlowerBoats in Holyhead HarbourBlack-eyed Susan Flowers

 

 

 

Harbour Park Raglan Castle Bridge Atop Raglan Castle Yours Truly and Sandy at Raglan Castle- Raglan Castle PhotographyFaerie Tree Attempt SeriesFaerie Tree Attempt ContinuesFaerie Tree Attempt ContinuesFaerie Tree Attempt Continues

Week Eight And Counting …

Aberdeen Youth Hostel

Don’t forget to click on all images for full view.

IS IT REALLY FRIDAY ALREADY?? LAST FRIDAY was spent traveling from Aberdeen to Edinburgh and we chilled mostly. Settled in. Nice cool weather <grin> We mapped out our plan of attack. I kept getting towns mixed up (that happens when you’ve been on the road as long as we have). I kept looking for day tours to Glasgow. In the middle of the night I had an “Oopsie” recall … the day tours are for when we arrive in Dublin and have ten days to explore everything between Dublin and Galway.

Sandy and Dinosaur at Dynamic EarthSaturday we walked our socks off. The Hop-on Hop-off bus was definitely our friend. We ventured to the base of the Royal Mile to see the home of Dynamic Earth. {Once upon a time, it used to be a distillery and the Queen did not like something as ordinary as that so close to her residence, so she had a “castle wall” built around it.} At the foot of the Mile, the old buildings and very modern Parliament buildings and apartments are a very House of Parliament Near Foot of Royal Mile View of House of Parliament from Dynamic Earthinteresting contrast. Sandy and I were separated in the middle of the Dynamic Earth experience, so we did our own thing for the remainder of the day. I did see a few other things, but didn’t make it to the one place I really wanted to see—Camera Obscura. My photographer-side of me really wanted to make sure I managed that on this Edinburgh Writers' Museumtrip—guess it’ll happen tomorrow. I did find the Writers’ Museum (another must-see item), with the help of the Hop-on Hop-off commentator. A lovely exhibit hidden down in Pixeled Imagery of Three Writers Busts of Burns, Scott & Stevensenthe Lady Stair’s Close. The museum honored three famous Edinburgh authors: Sir Walter Sir Walter Scott's Chessboard Robert Lewis StevensonScott, Robert Burns and Robert Louis Stevenson. Very nicely done.

Lunch View of Castle from Grass Market

All those stairs lead up to the castle … nope. Not happening.

Sunday was a late sate start for me, so Sandy left to venture out on her own—church then sightseeing. For me, it was get the engines running (wow—it seemed to take forever), laundry (that took forever also!), walked up to Waverely Station and the tourist Info area to catch the Hop-on Hop-off Buildings: Old vs New Construction Everywherebus and took the first stop: Grass Market—apparently food mecca of Edinburgh ☺️ so I had lunch, then hopped back on the HH and hopped off near the Castle—I wasn’t about to take all those stairs. I’d already seen that—Camera Obscurat’wasn’t my destination. I headed straight for Camera Obscura. I Image via Camera Obscura: Edinburgh Yours Truly, Topsy-Turvey More Infinity Corridor Imagery definitely had my CO fix as I took a zillion photos. This is one Edinburgh From Atop Camera Obscuraplace that encourages you to take photos. I love that fact.

Monday was a travel day—as was Tuesday. Ugh. For some reason, on this trip, I’m finding the drives exhausting—whether a couple of hours or especially when there’s Newcastle-on-Trentmore. Monday we drove from Edinburgh (cool temps) to Newcastle-on-Tyne (warmer temps) for a one-nighter before moving on to Stoke-on-Trent (actually Hanley) for two nights. We did wander around Newcastle a bit and mailed some packages back home to lighten our load <grin>

When we checked into our Hanley hotel, we were handed a map for exploring. I was overjoyed to find that the Trentham Gardens (Add for Trentham Estategardens, various medium sculptures) was only ten minutes drive away—something that’s been on my bucket list for a number of years. I was giddy with excitement. I’d seen the twisted-Wire Statuary in Trentham Gardens Outlet of the Trentham Gardens Lakewire sculptures on Facebook quite some time ago and was delighted to discover I was so close. I could not possibly throw away this opportunity, Patchwork of Colour at Trentham Gardens Ferry Boat at Trentham Gardensso we hired a taxi to take us (I’m glad we did, as I was too tired at the end to try to make the drive back and a bus ride would have been long—very long. There were two accidents the taxi driver avoided nicely. Yay. A bus would have needed to stay on its route as closely as possible. That would have been awful. The estate was huge (that is an understatement) and my “little” faeries were tucked in all around the grounds, The gardens were beautiful, the water features and pond were lovely … and the faeries were a delight—well worth the over-three-mile walk. When we got back to the hotel, Sandy went back out in search of a few groceries for dinner (though I was not hungry due to the heat)—and for Thursday’s breakfast before we headed out for our hostel in Bath.

Yup. Another travel day on Thursday. On the way to Bath we popped into a service area to grab a bite to eat. Lovely place, really—with a lovely garden and pond that I did not explore <pout>. The road construction (wow—plenty of it!) and heat (26C/79F—felt so much warmer than that!) had me more tired than usual, so staying around would have been nice. But we had to keep going—an hour more of driving. Our Hostel Room in Bath View From My Hostel Room Bath: Owls About Town! Yours Truly with Too Much Heat! Up-Cycled Telephone BoxBath is a very busy little city. Most of it is too “new” (1700s?) for me, but it’s a place Sandy wanted to visit, so we’re at a hostel for three nights. We did a wee walk-about to find better/cheaper parking for the duration, then chatted with the information centre people about tours. We both bought tickets for the Hop-on Hop-off bus so we can see what there is to see … but Sandy also bought a ticket for a day tour to Stonehenge (since I’ve seen it before, I opted to hang around town on Friday. Maybe visit the Jane Austin Centre …

Friday. Yeah … still hot. Unfortunately. I really don’t function well in the heat.Mornings will be best. I’m not sure what I’ll be doing today. I’m sure I’ll find some fun things to photograph (owls at the very least <grin>). So, I’m going to call it quits and say adieu for this week. Have a gloriously blessed Friday, weekend and may your upcoming week fly by without a hitch.

Cheers!

WEEK SEVEN: Farewell Skye …

Coffee/Food Stop

Don’t forget to click on images to see full photos

IS IT REALLY SEVEN WEEKS?? I could have stayed so much longer on Skye. It was amazing. A teaser for all my senses. The scenery, the cottage industries … even the history. I would like to come back—alone next time. This has been a bustling week, with non-stop chatter. Sandy and I are back to traveling by ourselves and I am enjoying the relative quiet. It’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy my time with the CIVers—we had a blast—but I’m apparently not used to that much conversation happening all day. I’m learning. Inverness SkylineLearning to say no to going out with the group—missing out on sightseeing—for health’s sake. Apparently, that’s a hard lesson for me to grasp—or at least one I’m not readily willing to accept. This whole trip has been a learning experience—just like all my previous trips. I’m learning I like “alone” better. I’m not the social butterfly some people think.

My allergies have taken a toll on my state of health. I’m on edge with loud noises—I find myself seeking solitude constantly. Music, huge amounts of chatter in the dining areas … things like that are jarring to my senses—especially my fluid-filled ears. The further away from Inverness I get, the better I feel—yay (and the offending trigger: lemongrass cleaner, I think. Even the hostel in Ft. Augustus used it to mop the floors—midge deterrent).

Young Busker Playing BagpipesSkye, Inverness, Fort Augustus (Loch Ness), across Scotland to Aberdeen … then on Friday, onto Edinburgh for a second look. We “slowed down” in Aberdeen and for Edinburgh—three whole nights in each location <insert grin> so we could explore Hanging Planter on Building in Invernessmore. Honestly, my first full day in Aberdeen was a day to recuperate—even if we did wander around (a 3-mile meander) and saw Victoria Garden, plus two chemists and two grocers as we searched for things on our “to buy” list. Trying to stay healthy is a Ft. Augustus Hostel Roomchallenge when one is traveling out of country. You’re on the go all the time. Remembering to mention “handicap” (at least for me, it’s hard to admit it) so I don’t have to climb up to the upper bunk & can have a room with the least number of Water spilling over a lock at Ft. Augustussteps. Down-time is hard to come by, too. And medicines can be different—some that are available over the counter at home are scrips here, while others are over the counter here are scrips at home. Trying to find the right

Storekeeper in Ft. Augustus with Shaped Images from Books

I took this one for the framed artwork behind her—images created out of full books. May do this with my series.

strength is fun too. I had to giggle. One chemist helped me to figure out what I should buy, but in reality, I should not have been able to purchase it. Naproxen (Aleve) 250mg—stronger than the over the counter version (220mg) at home

Local Wildlife Sightings 2017 ...

… they forgot midges (oh, my!!)

—is usually a scrip here, but it can be purchased over the counter for menstrual cramps—you must be between 15-50 to make the purchase <serious case of giggles here> Really?? Well, I did purchase a package of them (a whole nine pills!)—it seems absurd to me, but the chemist "Mall" at Invernesssaid to mention female problems (if asked) and it shouldn’t be an issue. Other things just aren’t there at all—in any form. So, my advise is to check and Loch Ness Mapdouble check what meds you bring. Make sure you have what you need. You can go to Boots.com (for the UK—check to see what company dominates in the country you’ll be visiting) and check with them to see if they have something comparable.

All-In-One: Petrol, Groceries, Gifts, Post Office and Pharmacy

A little bit of everything here!

It will save you a lot of grief later on down the line. I apparently did not do the double check for several things. I cannot find anything stronger than 30C in homeopathic River Scene in Ft. Augustusmeds (requires a script), and I’m having a devil of a time finding CoQ10 and Omega-3 in any strength … At least I was smart enough to have my prescriptions refilled and “topped off” with a 30-day vacation script before I left. I’ll need to get my refills done fairly close to when I arrive home, but I am good to go.

Victoria Park-Giant Chess Boards and Whimsical FencingThough I was interested in seeing what the Fort Augustus hostel receptionist meant by “different” when describing Aberdeen, we really didn’t venture far. There were loads of castles to see (if you’re in to castles … me, not so much) and a botanical garden down in the Center of town, but nothing nearby (except two gardens, which we did visit)—with my ankle acting up, buses seem to be the only way to see much of anything. Even Sandy’s injury (horse stepping on foot early on in our trip) seemed Aberdeen Weatherto flare as we tried to decide what to do. Gorgeous weather the entire time we were Victoria Park-Giant Chess Boards and Whimsical Fencing in Aberdeen. Sigh. So much for doing much walking or even sight-seeing. Aberdeen became a place to mend our bodies … and for me to work on my blogging. Guess I’ll have to find another Picture of book: "My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece"—Good Readbook to read, too. Last night, I finished one I’ve been working on. Very cool point of view, very well done, too. I loved reading “My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece” by Annabel Pitcher.

We will pretty much saidImage of homes in Aberdeen BBC: Scotland sign in Aberdeen good-bye to Scotland after finishing up our stay in Edinburgh (first day will be Friday (29June)—a short drive, unless I make a huge mistake again). A few friends have posted on Facebook about a bog fire that will be just south of the route we will take to one of our hotels (Stokes on Trent). Not sure if they’ll have it under control by the time we get down that far. We’ll probably go through smoke—hopefully nothing more. I’ll let you know when we get closer to that point in our travels.

In the meantime, I’ll say adieu, farewell and have a blessed Friday, weekend and week ahead. May the week be peppered with serendipity <insert warm glowing smile> Cheers!

SIXTH WEEK: Good-bye Edinburgh, Hello Inverness and Isle of Skye!

EDINBURGH BID US ADIEU—WITH WIND. Lots of wind. Sandy spent Thursday on her own and had to stick with me (in the car) on Friday as we drove to Inverness. It wasn’t a long drive, but plenty of the “I’ve-seen-this-before” countryside—which doesn’t bother me (and I actually love whatever the area provides for scenery) … but puts Sandy to sleep as a passenger—also safer for her motion sickness. Friday was spent settling into the Waverley Guest House Our View at Waverley Guest House and trying to figure out how we were going to sleep. The room was higher at the far end, lowest at the door. Our beds were set parallel to the “door wall” … and the head of each bed was so low (from overuse and no mattress flipping). Sandy chose to put her backpack in the low spot (under the mattress) and I chose to put my head at the foot of the bed <grin> The only problem we had was the music that started up at ten and went on to I-don’t-know-when … and (at least for me …) the air freshener used on everything. When morning came, both of us were blurry-eyed and I had a major stuffy nose. I’ve crossed my fingers, hoping that parking in the disabled parking is not going to get my car clamped (I did ask a “Parking Police” if it was okay, but he may not have understood how long I was talking about …)—we’ll find out next Saturday, I guess …

Loch Ness ... and stairs to itOur first day (Saturday) of the tour was wet—no biggie. I’ve got a raincoat, but didn’t pull it out because the rain was too light to bother. We stopped at a Loch Ness gift shop (teehee—I bought a t-shirt with “Loch Ness—Scotland” and a celtic design on it Loch Ness—View from gift shopto use as pjs), snapped a few photos and moved on. There were a few stops for photo ops <insert grin> along the way to the ferry … but, with the weather and Another Loch with Moody Skieswind, we chose to take the bridge across to the Isle of Skye instead (I’m sure Sandy appreciated that, though she said nothing about it). Marc and Pace played their instruments for us to end the evening on a high note.

Sunday (purple—see google map link below) was spent hiking up in the hills (fairly near our cottage) called The Quiraing, wandering View from Lower Level of The Quiraingaround. It was beautiful—windy, but beautiful. Actually, both are View of Skye from The Quiraingunderstatements. We found buying groceries on a Sunday to be a challenge, but we succeeded—the Staffin Bay Store had most of what we needed.
Monday (red) was a guided tour around the area, showing us Windy, Cloudy Skies along the Coast of Skye Driving in Skye with Moody Skies (but not stopping at): Brothers Point (where the recently found dino tracks are), Man of Storr, the town of Portree (we did lots of wandering around here … lots), Kilted Rock, with Edinbane as our turn-around point. We stopped at a Session with Marcbigger grocery store on our way back to pick up the stuff we couldn’t find at the co-op store. We ended the day with a lovely session with Marc and his autoharp.
Tuesday (yellow?) was a day of climbing. Climbing up to Man The Man of Storrof Storr … (yeah, I didn’t make it anywhere near the second gate—apparently there were four gates, so no pics), a quick Kilt Rock Kilted Rock (looks like there's more than one) Waterfall Near Kilted Rocktrip through the Staffin (dino) museum, Kilted Rock, climbing up to castle ruins (oh, my gosh—windy is an understatement), walking around Portree for a shopping spree, exploring and climbing down to see dino tracks near our cottage. Off and on rain all day, wind all the time … it’s beginning to get to my sinuses <insert pout>
Boarding Boat for Three-Hour CruiseIf it’s Wednesday, it’s a three-hour boat cruise from Uig (ewe-ig) out to an island with puffins. It was on the opposite side of the island, so we had lots of time to see flora and fauna on the way. For some reason, everyone kept humming the tune from Marc Playing Autoharp on the Radiant Queen View of the Uig Bay & BoatGilligan’s Island <giggle> Image of underside of thatched roofWhilst we waited for the time to board, we wandered into the pottery store (beautiful locally made pieces). I’ll be on their website when I get home … <insert sheepish grin>Poster about found cache and homestead
The puffins were actually there in abundance—last time (Galway), the cruise was on very windy, rough waters … with not one puffin in sight <pout>. This time around, it was beautiful—with only one wee little rough spot with a touch of wind and rain.  We had a few sessions on the boat with Marc (autoharp) and one of those included Pace with his tin flute (missed that one). Sandy stayed ashore due to motion sickness—she would not have appreciated the beauty. She’d be hugging the porcelain throne the whole time. She did miss out on some lovely scenery. Hope my photography )or one of the other CIVer’s—Selena managed some lovely shots!) will suffice … Bidding the Owners of Radiant Queen AdieuOh. Did I mention that the roads we were driving on were mostly single-track (only one lane wide)? They have an amazing system of “Passing Places”—little pull-outs spaces regularly. Whoever Traffic Jam ... sheep on roadis closest either moves forward to it, or backs up to it. Everyone has been very polite about sharing the roadway (well, save one—he must have been an American … <giggle>). It’s perfect. Oh, yeah—and the sheep have the right of way <giggle> And Highland Coo!… we found Coo! They were very, very scarce on this trip <insert pout>
Thursday was a late start sheep crossing the road(thankfully) … we were on the road by 9:30, heading to the other side of the island again. Marc told us a number of times what the agenda was—but my blurry brain was more like a On The Move—Quick Grab of "Passing Place" Signsieve … <sniggle—insert eye roll> Our weather? Well, we had some liquid sunshine to start our day, clouds, sun, blustery wind—think that covers it <giggle> Image of Midge-Proof Nettingbut it did turn into an amazing day. We were on our own from 11:30-3pm at Dunvegan Castle—it belongs to the Chieftain of the MacLeod clan and includes lovely gardens … where I was attacked by midges whilst trying to get some lovely photos (most of my photos are in my good camera still I’ll upload those to either Flickr or SmugMug when I get home—and have a better Dunvegan Castle Store of Lanterns in Dunvegan Castle Blue Irises at Dunvegan Castle Marc Playing Autoharp Isle of Skye Coastal Vista Near Lighthouse Lighthouse Nearing "Sunset"internet connection). Last stop was Neist Lighthouse—involving plenty of walking … Dinner in town after touring the castle and town was the plan, but Marc couldn’t get reservations at a decent time, so we headed Sundog Near "Sunset" at Keepers Cottageback to the cottage and made a quick, but delightful (and late—9pm!) meal.
Friday. Our last day to play … but all of the wind and walking has taken a toll on me. I’m taking today to recover whilst everyone else has fun checking out dino tracks (at Three Brothers) and a fairy glen. I’ll be spending the time trying to recover, finishing up my blog entry, adding photos and maybe doing a bit of tidying up around the cottage. The CIVers will be back by 3-ish pm to help with clean up and packing up in preparation for our early departure tomorrow. (I must admit … I am enjoying the quiet—and quick access to the internet <teehee> in their absence …)
Saturday morning, at an obscenely early hour, we must begin our trip back to Inverness for everyone to catch their trains and planes. Sandy and I will spend the night at Waverley Guest House, then move on into the next leg of our adventure.
If you have a Google account (maybe even if you don’t), you can get into the map showing where we traveled—courtesy of Pace. Each days travel is colour coded. Even our day on the Uig Bay should be posted (at some point—he’s a bit behind in getting all of the days posted). I’d love to get the app from him so I can do the same with the rest of our trip, but maps each so much of my data plan <insert pout>.
So, my friends … another leg of our journey is coming to an end. I hope you are having fun following the CIVers adventure. May your day, your weekend and upcoming week be blessed with little serendipitous gems. Until next Friday—slainté!

 

FIFTH WEEK: Yorkshire Dales, Glasgow, Edinburgh and on to Inverness

IT IS NICE TO SLOW DOWN A WEE BIT. Our last one-nighter (for a while) in the Dales wasYorkshire Dales Creek and Bridgelovely. We both slept quite well even though it took a bit to settle in (my ankle was being a bit of a nuisance). Our drive up to Glasgow took five hours, three of which were 20-40mph, windy roads through the Dales. Beautiful scenery, with changing flora and fauna—mostly sheep, with sheep and cows sharing the same fields. There were black and white ??? (with a solid black bit in their middle section), proper “chocolate-milk” cows (dark brown all over) and “normal” spotted black and white. Rock Walls AboundThere were parts of the countryside that had hidden treasures we couldn’t stop to photograph because there were no turnouts to stop in: drop-dead gorgeous churches, wall after stone wall fences and stone outbuildings that had me oohing and aaahing (Sandy, not so much), and the rich green colours of the fields mixed with wildflowers. It was quite calming for me, and gave me something to entertain my mind whilst driving. (click on photos to enlarge)

“We’re off the map now …” Sandy and I have made that our private joke. All of the Land Trust maps have N. Ireland, Wales and England on them—and even though Scotland is part of the UK, it is conspicuous by its absence on the maps. We thought that strange. Oh, well …

Scotland welcomed us with a right proper downpour whilst on the motorway—severe enough to drop speeds from 70mph to 30! And the temp dropped fro 25C to 14C before the deluge hit … then proceeded to go back up to 25C. I was glad when it was done! We’ve been rained on twice on Saturday whilst walking—thankfully the worst part was while we were in Sainsbury’s getting a few groceries.

Glasgow—I don’t understand the feelings some people have for this beautiful city. View from Glasgow Hostel“Nothing to see”, “industrial”, “boring” … I delight in the areas I am able to see on foot. A massive park just opposite the hostel, a botanical park about a mile away—and the hardscape of buildings Glasgow Museum/Architecture Fountain (with seagull) at Glasgow Park Nature's Showcase in Glasgowand Fountain at Glasgow Parktrees is beautiful. (panoramic shot—definitely click to see entire shot)

Our Glasgow hostel is lovely … perhaps an old hotel? But there are a zillion (well … approximately 54) steps to our room (on the third floor) and there’s one more flight of stairs after our landing. And there are more stairs to get down to the self-catering kitchen. My knee and ankle are not appreciating all the stairs. They will be happy to be in Edinburgh—elevators in the hostels (yay!!) This is not stopping me from walking about around town. For me, Sunday was spent making reservations for accommodations for the last half of our trip. Sandy went off on a day trip with a touring company, exploring castles etc.

Our roommates have been fantastic—this is what I love about Hostelling! One from Australia was fretting all day about her luggage (which had been lost due to a short layover in Abi-Dabi—misspelled, I’m sure—and had been mislaid at the first hotel she’d stayed at). She relaxed when it finally was found and retrieved—she left the next day. Another was a UK mother-daughter “team” walking from place to place, averaging 150 miles a day. Wow.

We’re just about finished up with Edinburgh … one more night with a new room (so we’ve been “kicked-out” (it’s Thursday) till the check-in at 3pm. We may have slowed down stay-wise, but we certainly haven’t slowed down walking-wise <insert grin … and an eye roll> since we’ve been averaging 4-6 miles the couple of days. Oh … my.

I do have photos to upload, but the connection at the Edinburgh hostel is marginal for that—I’ll see what I can do today …

Tomorrow is a travel day for us. Departing Edinburgh (my favourite city, hands down) and will get into Inverness at some point on Friday. I don’t think we can check in till 3pm—maybe our room will be ready (I’m hoping …), but I’ve found they are pretty rigid about check-in times over here. It’s only an overnight stay—we’ll need to be ready quite early to meet up with the Celtic Invasion Vacation group. I’m excited—I haven’t seen the “Regulars” in quite some time. And there will be new faces to get acquainted with. I can hardly wait … even if the weather may be the wettest I’ve encountered on the CIV tours. I’ve got my raincoat and Sandy has a rain poncho, so we’re good to go. It’s the wind I’m worried about. Lots and lots of wind here on the east coast of Scotland. The brunt of the storms apparently sweep through from the west coast—and that’s where we are headed. Oh, dear. <insert a winky smile—teehee>

Lately, I’ve been leaving you with rather verbose blog entries. My apologies, but it’s how my brain works. I’ll bid you farewell until next Friday—but leave you with a few last photos (and apologise if one is sideways—my attempts to right it has been unsuccessful … sniff).
Edinburgh: Top of Leith-Giraffe SculptureWaverley Tower and PiperHaggis, Neeps and Tatties at The Whisky ExperienceBeautiful Edinburgh Castle: Bits and Pieces

Edinburgh Castle Cannon—Waverley Tower In Its Site Next Friday, we will be on our last full day of our CIV tour—hmmm … I may need to hold off till Saturday to post, so please bear with me if you don’t see it on Friday. Have a blessed Friday, weekend and a delightful upcoming week—remember to keep an eye out for serendipitous blessings … cheers!

 

WEEK FOUR: Good-Bye Wales … Hello Yorkshire!

OUR FOURTH WEEK HAS been filled with more one- and two-night stays than  three-night stays at hostels and BnBs. I know I’m not thrilled with the one-nighters—nor the two-nighters even—but I must be slowing down a wee bit because even the three-night stays are wearing me down and not allowing time to explore. Or maybe it’s just that those are too few. In either case, we’re finally slowing down a little and enjoying the areas. This week will be the last of the shorter stays (well, mostly). From now on it’ll be three- and four-plus nighters that hopefully will allow for more exploration  <insert happy dance>

Holyhead Beach at SunsetI think Llanberis has been the poshest of our hostels so far and Brecon Becon has been the roughest—but not in a bad way. BB is simply more remote—and appears to be a favourite for backpackers (as was Llanberis’ hostel). Whilst at Brecon, we’d planned on doing laundry, but their washing machine was on the fritz. Snowdonia's Cloud-Shrouded MountainsBecause of the remoteness (and the fact that the way “out” was up a rather steep drive), there really were no short walkabouts that could happen for the “Gimp Sisters” so we chilled. No wifi till we checked in at Llanberis—just the beauty surrounding us that we couldn’t View from Brecon Beaconexplore. Oh. By the way. These were the first two hostels I’ve been to in a while that had catered meals—a wee bit pricey (£9 for dinner and £6 for breakfast), but decent and filling!

Seems we’re having more than our share of hiccups but we are managing to make things work despite the problems.

Our one-nighter at Brecon (without wifi—or phone service) wasDowntown Hay-on-Wye followed by a three-nighter in Hay-on-Wye. Apparently I hadn’t noticed how close the two locations were—only about 25-30 minutes up the road <insert eye roll> Oopsie. Oh, well. The Swan at Hay (hotel)We needed a break from the “rustic” stuff … and a chance to recuperate. And get our laundry done—by now, I was needing to wear things two-three days in a row! Ugh. Our first night at The Swan at the Hay we were told there were no self-service launderettes in town. I thought that odd. The hotel, of course, The Joys of Laundrywould gladly do laundry for us—charging by the piece (standard for hotels). Each of us had a bag full of laundry. That was definitely not an option, so we started laundering our clothes in the bathroom. Sandy Laundrette and A Bit Moretried to wash all of hers and I chose a selection of items to get me through for a couple more days till we could find a launderette. Trying to find things to hang all the clothes on was hilarious. I had three braided elastic lines, but finding something to attach them to was proving problematic. Getting to the sink and toilet required some gymnastics. And all I could think of was “what is the staff going to think when they come to freshen the room?” That made me laugh so hard.

We arrived in Hay on the last day of the Hay Festival—a literary festival. Hay is known for its many bookstores—it is a delight to pop into all of the shops and rummage through all of the books. I looked at the festival schedule, hoping to find something interesting to attend, but no … there were some authors reading pieces from their books, but the speakers seemed to be more aligned with politics and socio-economic stuff. Not my cup of tea. So, wandering the streets and taking photos (away from the festival) was what we did on our first day. By the way—Sandy’s foot is much now—thank God! And Hay is where we met up with Jo and Ian. We had a delightful time with them—they showed us around town, showed us where the laundrette was (YAY!) and we had a lovely meal at one of the few open pubs—many of the shops were recovering from the long weekend event and closed up on Monday! We walked some more, but I put a damper on things with an upset stomach, so we returned to The Swan for tea and some wonderfully diverse conversations. All in all, we thoroughly enjoyed our day—and on into the night—with Jo and Ian. They have a delightfully informative and fun video blog, “Something Vloggy” that is terrific—all about castles and waterfalls in Wales. We were finally ready to turn the lights out at 11pm! Waaay past my bedtime. But so worth it! Nearly twelve hours of visiting and wandering together. Truly delightful!

Riverside Walk to the WarrenOur third day in town, we split up—I was desperate to get laundry done and Sandy needed to walk. So laundry was my first order of business and during the wash and dry cycles, I did a little walkabout, getting errands done at the chemist and Spar. After sorting out all that, I was free to walkabout around the town.  It is beautiful with many interesting features. There’s a lovely path (actually two—one just above the other) that takes you along the River Wye. Very picturesque.

Wednesday was departure day for us. We said good-bye to Hay and mosied up to West Yorkshire to stay with another of my FB friends, Anne. Anne Our Hostess with the Mostess Anne and Sandy in the KitchenWe were not expected until six, so we occupied our day with little stops here and there—and a healthy walkabout around Brighouse. A lovely, leisurely day of travel. Anne fed and pampered us royally. She’s taken us around Haworth (pronounced how-with), pointed out “Crinkly-Bottom” (Cromwell Bottom) as we drove by, we did a walk through Halifax Piece Hall (as in “piece work” of fabric)—the last remaining cloth hall in England … and then we went to B&M for fresh supplies of Jelly Babies <insert monster grin>—sniggle—then took everything we bought home and finally went back out to a lovely dinner at Toby Carvery (delightful—Sandy enjoyed the Yorkshire pudding … as did I). We returned home for a nice spot of tea (and parkin). With all we’ve been fed, I would expect my weight to be up … (well, maybe it is), but had my first proper weigh in and I’m 171.9!) Friday—today—we must say good-bye to this lovely lady and move on up towards Inverness. Friday will be a one-nighter at Buckden in the Yorkshire Dells, Saturday-Tuesday am will be Glasgow, Scotland and Tuesday-Friday is Edinburgh … and finally, Inverness on Friday. We’ll try to get up there as early as we can so we can do some roaming.

So, my friends … I leave you once again to peruse the photos—I may add more later (once in Glasgow … perhaps). Have a blessed Friday and weekend and I’ll have things to post next Friday! Toodles!

 

WEEK THREE: Bushmills, Dublin, Holyhead and Llanberis

AAAAH. FINALLY, WE WERE getting into the swing of a real vacation in this last week. There were only two hiccups that popped up—a twisted ankle (foolishly not wearing my ankle brace), which is definitely on the mend and not holding me back much and needing to do a little shuffle of accommodations/car rental to adjust for arrival times in Holyhead, Wales.

Note to self: always verify car rental hours before scheduling ferries or any other conveyances (Hertz closes their doors at 1700, ferry arrives 1830—oopsie). And, don’t rush when making new accommodations—be sure everything is right before clicking the “Book” button.

We said good bye to Donegal and Ireland as we wandered up through a zillion roundabouts—even I (lover of roundabouts) was getting tired of them … just a wee bit. We saw sheep, cattle, trees … more sheep and glimpses of shoreline—unfortunately, Gabby chose the fastest route that took us through more inland roads than coastal roads. The coastal route would have been glorious, but it would have added too much time. Bushmills and the Giant’s Causeway were our destination for this bit of travel. And it did not disappoint. The weather and scenery were amazing. We even had time to attend church during our short stay in Bushmills. And, no … we did not go to the distillery. Nature was our goal along this lovely bit of Northern Ireland. Click on the photos to enlarge them.Red Telephone Box Giant's Causeway Giant's Causeway Erosion Patterns at the Causeway

From Bushmills, we traveled back down south, touching on the outskirts of Belfast—a huge metropolis—before working our way back into Dublin and our hostel for three more nights. Each time we arrive, we find new things to do—wondering the streets of Dublin. We were checking out the farmers market one block off O’Connell Street when my ankle twisted on uneven pavement—it really pays to keep a keen eye out for uneven surfaces if you have ankle issues  I was not <pout> and it knocked half a day out of our sightseeing.

I’ve been wearing both knee brace and ankle brace since the incident on Monday (hate wearing them) and all is well. It took a couple of days of taxi rides into town before I felt comfortable walking around and by Wednesday, we were back to “normalish” touristing.

The first of the “recovery days” was spent on a Gray Lines tour of Wicklow Mountains and the Glendalough area. The scenery was magnificent, the stops we made had marvellous photo ops … and our tour guide, Richie, was wonderful—a great commentator, full of that Irish “gift of gab” (in a very good way) and fun to chat with. There was plenty of giggles on his tour. The history of the area was told in a way to hold your attention—nothing worse than a dry bit of history to put you to sleep—not with Richie. So glad we made the trip! Click on the photos to enlarge.

GrayLine's Driver, Richie

Great commentator and conversationalist, Richie was our tour guide for the day on the Wicklow Mountain and Glendalough tour.

roof and trees near Glendalough Military Instillation on Glendalough/Wicklow Mtn Tour Glendalough/Wicklow Mountains Creek Near Guinness Lake Glendalough Tower and Graveyard Glendalough Scenery Church and Round Tower at Glendalough

Thursday was ferry ride day into Holyhead, Wales and we had a good time. The Stena Lines is a lovely boat to ferry across the water—and I booked us seats up in the lounge, so it was even better.

Because of the mess-up by moi, we only had the one night in Llanberis, so not a ton of time to wander in Snowdonia <insert huge pout> This is a gloriously beautiful area and deserves multiple days to begin to absorb its beauty. This will require another trip <insert grin> to make sure I get “my Snowdonia time” in. Definitely! Actually, Sandy and I talked about it and decided we’d make sure to spend a few days here on our return trip—after visiting my London friends and before we hop on the ferry to go back to Dublin.

Aaah. One final note: It’s called “Payback”—Sandy was trying to wrangle some horses that decided to come out of a gate that we had permission to open (to turn the car Muddy print on a shoearound) … and one stepped on her foot <insert grimmace> so we’re being super cautious today. Only the front half of the hoof stepped on her foot, thankfully, but the knee-jerk reaction to pull it away may have caused more of a problem …

We did a little look around in Llanberis, but she’s alternately icing it and keeping it elevated. We’ll see how things go—I’ll be catering to her needs as she did to me when I had my little incident.
Llanberis and our hostel (click on photos to enlarge):
Little Cabins at the Hostel View of Hostel Grounds View of Hills of LLanberis LLanberis View from Hostel

And … now, it’s time to get this blog launched so you can read it. Have a blessed Friday and weekend.

 

Book Arts: Medieval-Style Books

I SPENT THE WEEKEND in a workshop at Open Ground Studios, learning how to creating a limp vellum medieval book. It’s not the first time I’ve attended a workshop led by Nicky Yeager. And, it will not be the last. I like his laid-back teaching style. This particular workshop was a challenge, but I had fun … and was pleased with the final results. I was sleep deprived (only a bad night’s sleep) and my brain was a wee bit foggy—even after a few cups of coffee—all of which hindered my comprehension.

Of course since it was my first attempt, it was far from perfect—but that’s okay. I’ve always considered the first one my prototype. I found myself alternately frustrated (till I figured out how to do a step) and content—I keep forgetting how much I love working with my hands. I’ve been spending so much time editing (head-work) lately that I’d forgotten the joy of real hands-on creating. Every time I finish up one of his workshops, I want to dive into creating more of what I’ve just learned.

This weekend’s event was no different. I’m glad my mind has been kick-started with creative ideas, but with my upcoming trip, I’m not sure I’ll be able to follow through. Last night my brain wouldn’t stop thinking about the different forms of medieval books. My absolute favourite is the wood-bound books. I spent a good portion of the wee hours of Monday thinking about how I could go about getting my hands on quarter-sawn oak … (insert very loud sigh and eye roll—teehee); about how I’ll keep track of the actual costs of materials so I could price them fairly (for the customer and still make a wee bit of a profit) … and how many I should make. Oh. And I wondered about how I could re-invigorate interest in my personalised storybooks. Maybe I’ve too many interests … just maybe.

Oh, yes. My creative mind has definitely re-engaged.

But all of that must go on hold—at least temporarily, until I’m able to get all my travel plans solidly arranged. Then I’ll start planning my next art project. Oh, wait … I have five books to publish (well, re-publish three and first-time publish two). Egads. I do love a challenge—and juggling projects—don’t I? I know a few of my friends will be doing eye rolls when they see what I’ve planned for myself upon returning from across The Pond.

Here are a few photos from the weekend—not all, as many of them are not cooperating—I’ve spent most of the week

DIY Signature "Punching" Craddle

A handy device to punch holes in the signatures. I’m green with envy.

Signatures Ready To Punch ... Almost

Since I don’t have the DIY craddle, gotta poke ’em all the old fashioned way, using a template (grey sheet).

Okay ... Now I'm Ready

Punched on left, ready to be punched on right. Template at center fold (visible so you can see one of the notches used to punch uniform holes for threading signatures together).

Yeah ... I’ve two that could be entered IF they were done. Maybe next year. Thanks for the heads up.

Twisted leather strips that anchor the signature to the cover.

trying to “right” those photos that loaded side-ways (ugh). I’m giving up on correcting things and posting—I’ll add to the images later when my computer/iPhone is less twitchy! Remember you can click on each image to enlarge them.

Have a great day, a blessed weekend and here’s to Spring making an appearance (well, mostly). Hope you’ll come back next week to see what mischief I’ll be up to—personally, I have no clue (insert huge grin and a wink!). Toodles.a

Progressing Nicely …

 


 

GOOD MORNING! FRIDAY IS turning into an absolutely gorgeous day here on the Central Coast of California. I truly live in Camelot—um … well, except for the three-ish days of rain and horrific winds. And now, it is the calm before the storm—a small respite before the next storm comes in tomorrow … the proverbial “calm before the storm”. The weather seems to be mirroring my life right now—at least, somewhat.

The storm is gathering. So are all the things that need to be accomplished. They are piling up … and I either tackle them—quickly—or they will run me over like a bulldozer. These last few storms have been like that—slamming the Central Coast with monster wind and rain (seriously unusual for this area—and these new weather patterns seem to be morphing into the “norm”)—major flooding elsewhere in the state—and mudslides in Big Sur are hopefully not undoing what CalTrans has worked so hard to repair from last year’s storms.

Well, I wrote all of the above last week. Monday—after a damp rainy weekend—was another gorgeous day, as were the rest of the days this week. Truly wonderful weather. I think the serious rains are really done for the season. And I still have a mountain of things to tackle before my trip. But, better weather and my ever-improving health is making the list look not quite as daunting.

So much as been accomplished this week—so refreshing. Editing has happened all week, plugging away at transcribing corrections for book one, editing book four and adding words to book five. (Book two sits in limbo, waiting for me to start the edit.) It truly feels wonderful to be getting things done—two long years of recovery, with its ups and downs. I think I can finally put that problem to rest. Yay!

My upcoming trip has certainly put a fire under me. I’m even getting things done around the house and in the yard. Can you see me doing Snoopy’s happy dance? (Insert foolishly giant grin here). My give away pile is growing; I need to make dump and recycle runs and I’m knocking off things on my to-do list. Feels good. Definitely.

I’ve even celebrated two birthdays (sniggle—same person …), spent time with my writing group and worked on getting my ducks in a row for the trip (still need to purchase some euros and pounds to take with me). As I came home these last few nights, I’ve seen the amazingly bright almost-full moon shining overhead—the weather has been very kind in that regard. I’m looking forward to Saturday’s blue moon—apparently it is the second of two blue moons for 2018, if I read the information correctly. I may be up extra late (or would that be super early??) to catch it with my good camera whilst it’s at its peak—my Painterly side is even getting a boost this week! Additionally, I’ve a few incomplete watercolour paintings that I’ve been studying off and on this week, trying to decide what to do next. Both have nice qualities (trying to decide it I’ll be able to layer them together in Photoshop—I hope so. It will be the beginnings for the cover for book one.

My upcoming trip has certainly put a fire under me. Honestly! I’m even getting things done around the house and in the yard. Can you see me doing Snoopy’s happy dance? (Insert foolishly giant grin here). And it does feel good!

My give away pile is growing; I need to make dump and recycle runs and I’m knocking off things on my to-do list. Feels good. Definitely.

I’m looking forward to Saturday’s blue moon—I may be up extra late (or would that be super early??) to catch it—my Painterly side is even getting a boost! I’ve a few incomplete watercolour paintings that I’ve been studying … trying to decide what to do next. Both have nice qualities (trying to decide it I’ll be able to layer them together in Photoshop—I hope so. It will be the beginnings for the cover for book one.

… And, this week culminates with Good Friday. Seems an ironic name for the awful thing that happened a little less than 2000 years ago. Christ dying an agonising death, taking on all of our sins. ‘Tis solemn and sad … but not really. It is the beginning of a celebration. The BC cartoonist, Johnny Hart, Good Friday Explanationexplained things in a nutshell (click on the image to enlarge), don’t you think? Sunday is a new beginning—a new week, with Easter—the celebration of the resurrection of Christ. And with all the flurry happening in my life right now, I’m glad to have both Good Friday and Easter happening—both are humbling for me, centering me. Very special days to celebrate.

So, my friends, I leave you with wishes for a blessed Friday and weekend … and the week to come.

Happy Easter—he has risen.

Keep On Keeping On …

LOOKS LIKE MY WEEKEND NOVEMBER calendar is filled to the brim. Between Joyce and me finding things, just about the only weekend without a book signing is the weekend following Thanksgiving Day (I’ve never been keen about taking part in the Black Friday/Weekend frenzy) … at least I think we’re not doing anything—insert eye roll here … haha. I’ve actually found one more—up in Morgan Hill (another new one for both of us)—for December 9th … but I’ve just realised I already have a commitment that day. So, I’ll be chatting with Joyce to see if she will be doing it. We’ll do it next year—each of us have personal things already on the calendar. Sigh (whew!)

October ended up not being as busy as anticipated—the events didn’t get us applications soon enough, so we missed the deadlines. In a way, that was good—it allowed me to work on getting the yard squared away … still not CalFire compliant, but getting closer.

We’ve already had a little rain (not enough to dampen the level of fire hazard, so I keep on keeping on … working toward full compliance. But life is going to get very crazy with the book signing weekends, so I’ll have to focus on working in the yard during the week … and hopefully not maim myself too bad (teehee)!

So, here I am—into the second week of November. This weekend event begins on Friday 1pm-6pm at Watsonville Elks and it goes from 10am until 4pm on Sat, and 10am-3pm on Sunday. You can always check the dates and times at my Amazon Author’s page.

Next week the craziness begins on Saturday at the Aromas Grange, 10am. Right now, I need to put some finishing touches on what to take to Watsonville.

This is a brief blog post—wow … what a change! Kinda nice change—the reason is, I spent all of yesterday doing everything but work on my blog. And here it is, nearly 9am PST—which, by the way, I am loving being back on standard time!—and I’ve not yet posted …

My friends … I hope your Friday is blessed beyond belief, as will your weekend and week to come. Have an awesome day!

Black and White

I’VE BEEN WATCHING FRIENDS ON FB posting black and white images as part of a 7-day black and white photo challenge. Beautiful images. Some telling. Some everyday life shots. So, I decided to do it on my personal FB page … and then decided to do it on my Painterly FB business page (didn’t plan that one quite right—wanted my pumpkins to appear on the 31st … but that’s okay).

Friday is the last day on my Painterly page. The personal page challenge was done on Monday. Now, so you don’t need to search my personal or Painterly page, I’ve decided to post the combination of personal and business images … and maybe add more—just for you. I’ve posted them in no particular order.

Please remember all of these images are my property. No copying nor sharing of any of them is allowed without my written permission.

Enjoy:

7-Day Black and White Challenge 7-Day Black and White Challenge 7-Day Black and White Challenge

7-Day Black and White Challenge 7-Day Black and White Challenge 7-Day Black and White Challenge

7-Day Black and White Challenge 7-Day Black and White Challenge 7-Day Black and White Challenge

7-Day Black and White Challenge 7-Day Black and White Challenge 7-Day Black and White Challenge

… and last, but not least and still six days away from 7-Day Black and White ChallengeHalloween (but it is now harvest time, so still works). Now, I need to add a few more from my archives … this is fun!

More Black and White More Black and White More Black and White More Black and White

More Black and White More Black and White

More Black and White … and that’s all folks.

I wish you all well this Friday … and over the weekend and the next week. Take time to pause and look around you. There is so much for you to see—whether it’s people watching, bird watching, savouring the beautiful flower in peoples’ gardens (or even at the local garden shop), feeling the wind in your face.

Take it in. Let it revive you. Enjoy. May this week be blessed and filled to overflowing with serendipitous (yes, I love this word) joy.

Nature’s Colour

IN ORGANISING FOR THE UPCOMING book signing in San Juan Bautista—it’s coming up fast … 14 July, I found myself out and about, enjoying the early summer colours. Though our book signing location—Jardines (a delightful Mexican restaurant)—has many Beautiful Garden at Jardinescacti in their gardens, there’s also an abundance of other plants that flourish. Some blooms have already come and gone, but there are many still going strong. (please click on the individual photos to get better, larger images)

Seeing all of the abundant beauty there put my “radar” on high alert (subconsciously) and I started to see flowers

Carmel View

Looking south from Mission Ranch Restaurant

Pink Everywhere You Look

Flush with Pink!

Loads of pink!

and beautiful leaf formations everywhere. A dinner in Carmel (near the Mission) with an out-of-town friend

yielded some lovely blossoms. And some I haven’t seen since I was a much, much younger person.

Yellow Straw Flower

A straw flower—I haven’t seen these in years!

Spider Alert ...

I knew I saw something … had to wait till I got it on the screen—tiny guy!

Definitely a weed …

Not sure if it’s a weed …

 

 

 

 

All around my yard, as ragged and unloved as it is at present, yielded some faithful bloomers. Even some of the weeds were fascinating.
(Oh, my … these went all wonky—well, at least you can still see them …)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Whilst shopping for sundries in Target, I wandered down their dollar aisles and found some cute little blue flower pots—little flower kits—for a flower I’ve Forget-Me-Not Kitalways meant to put into my garden: forget-me-not. Teehee … a little ironic what with my memory and all (insert eye roll and a quiet giggle here). They’ve taken off—they’re still at the two-leaf stage, Forget-Me-Not Seedlingsbut that will change quickly … and I don’t have a place to put them yet that will be safe from the deer. But I look forward to their blooms.

So, as I gear up for my next two book signings, I am keeping nature’s gems on my radar. It’s calming—all things natural are calming, but flowers and forests are top on the list. I certainly hope that you will find some serendipitous blooms in your life, whether they be of the flowering kind or life-events. Have a wonderful weekend and week to come.

Two Book Signing with Two Local Authors
Friday, 14 July, 2017 4-8pm
in San Juan Bautista, California
Jardines de San Juan Mexican Restaurant
in the Garden
and
Saturday, 29 July, 2017 10am-4pm
at Books and Brews Summer Festival
314 Estrella Avenue, LaSelva Beach California
LaSelva Beach Clubhouse and Lawn

Join us!
Additional events listed
here

 

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.