… And We’re Off and Running!

SO … THE JOURNEY HAS begun for Sandy and me. And did it ever start out with a bang—our plane had a tyre with low pressure and it needed to be attended to. They tried to get the pressure up to snuff, but that wasn’t working (that took us about 45 minutes beyond our departure time) … and when that didn’t work, they realised they’d need to replace the tyre. Things got a bit timey-wimey whilst they went off to find a tyre … then install and test it, plus (of course) paperwork to complete, but finally (after about 2.5 hours) we were back on “schedule”. Our 11:50am arrival time on the 17th was pushed to 1:30-ish. In the end, it was closer to 2pm, leaving quite a few passengers anxious about connecting flights. (Which, by the way, I feel Aer Lingus handled brilliantly.) All Sandy and I had to worry about was making sure we had wheels to get-about with whilst in Ireland. We let those connecting-flights get off before us, then started to get off the plane when three wheel chairs came down the ramp for those of us requiring them. My attendant went well beyond what others had done in the past. I usually get “dumped” at the baggage claim, then I’m on my own. This young lady took us all the way to the Car Rental lot and I didn’t get off the wheel chair till we were literally in front of the car. (Well done!!) I’m happy to use Hertz—it may not be the cheapest, but they’ve been very good to me in the past, and they didn’t fail us with this bit of a wrench in the plans.
Next bit to throw us off was my little GPS (Gabby—but she wasn’t …) decided she was not going to talk to us. Rather cheeky little thing. (I checked her out prior to departure and she was working just fine). She simply told us to get to M-1 so she could direct us. She never redirected us when I didn’t get into the desired road. Thankfully I was vaguely familiar with the area and, though we never got into what she felt was the right street, we apparently paralleled her route in the downtown area and made it safely—well … there was one block of driving the wrong way on a very quiet one-way street, but I got that sorted out right away and we made it in one piece. (Poor Sandy—she’s a very patient soul.)
I love Dublin—and the area we are in. Mount Joy St., where the hostel is located, has a lovely ancient church with a beautiful spired steeple just a block or two down from the hostel  (photos will happen in the next blog, since we were exhausted from a very long flight and time change). The hostel itself has a small church attached, which has been turned into the dining all. We have a Spar (kind of like a 7-11 in the States, but no petrol station attached) just across a very quiet street—same street we drove down to get into the car park at the hostel.
We settled into our room then walked over to get dinner makings—almost bought stuff requiring cooking, but decided we were too tired for that. I was more tired than hungry, so we simply purchased a pre-made sandwich, some grapes and blueberries and shared all of it. We discovers like and dislikes in food—apparently we both love blueberries enough to challenge Violet (from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory) at being the biggest and bluest berry that the Umpa Lumpa’s would be rolling off to their presses … <insert mischievous grin> and I love yogurt, but she does not—same with mushrooms.
With dishes cleaned up, we got the wifi code, grabbed some crafting tools and settled into the dining hall to get Sandy an e-membership at the HI hostels (didn’t work—for a number of reasons, including forgetting the credit card … we’ll try again later) and for a quick lesson in putting signatures together (blocks of pages that are sewn together to make the pages of a book) for our travel journals. That didn’t last long, as my mind was muddled (as was Sandy’s) from fatigue and I couldn’t answer or show her how to do it properly <insert eye roll—and serious amount of yawning> … so we packed up our supplies and went back to our room at 9pm to retire for the night.
Today is Friday—a new day and the real beginning of two and a half month journey. Today is a “chill day” so we can recover from our jet lag (I slept in to 9am!), we will do a walk-about around Dublin and use the Hop On-Hop Off Tour Bus to venture into areas we can’t get to by foot. We’ve three nights (one’s already under our belts) to explore before moving on to Galway and beyond. We are going to have a wonderful time—whether Gaby helps us or not! Have a blessed Friday and weekend and join us again next Friday for another chapter in our journey.
Cheers and Slainté!

Traveling with Friends

TRAVEL IS NIGH AND I am definitely filled with excitement! I’ve completely ignored my travel-blogging lately … well, there have been tiny bits peppering my blogs of late, but not much else. Oopsie!

Just so you are aware, I will be at the mercy of internet availability during my travels, so blogging posts may be sporadic—I’ll try my best to adhere to a schedule, but it will completely depend on availability. I do have hotspots for my computer whilst traveling in Ireland and the UK, but I’ll need to figure out how to use them again (it’s been waaaay too long—hope I can remember passwords …) and I’m sure I’ll have to “feed” them before they can be used.

In the past—beginning with our maiden voyage in 2007 (or was it 2008??), I’ve traveled with my daughter for two and a half months; I’ve traveled with her and friends for a week, then just with the friends (stationed over in Germany) for another week … then on my own; I’ve traveled alone for 3-6 weeks; taken trains and buses; rented a car. Each time has been fun; each time has been a learning experience.

This time around, I’ll be traveling with my daughter’s mother-in-law. Sandy and I have hit it off well since our childrens’ nuptial tying of the knot—but we have never spent more than a couple days together, so this will be a delightful experience in patience, understanding and sharing close quarters (the car, dorm-room style sleeping arrangements with 4-8 other roommates—complete strangers—that sometimes turn into lifelong friends, short and long tours cooped up in a van together …et cetera). It’s a matter of give and take for both of us. I think we are adult enough for this trip to be wonderful for both of us. Everyone has their own personal quirks that must be taken into consideration. If you are not able to be flexible, traveling with friends may not be for you.

We will be visiting my new (and old) internet friends that live in Wales, London (and surrounding areas), and Yorkshire area. I love being able to meet my internet connections—at least one face-to-face enriches the relationship. I will be showing Sandy around places I’ve seen (and have fallen in love with) and we’ll experience other places together for the first time. And we will do tons of walking. Literally tons … my habit of “park-it-and-walk” still applies for as long as I am able to walk. We’ll stay at hostels as often as we can—I’m sure there will be a few B&Bs and hotels when hostels are booked. We’ll do mini-tours around the “big cities” via the Hop-On/Hop-Off buses, more mini-tours with some of the tour companies that take jaunts out into the nearby country-side … and perhaps take the car out to look at the lovely countryside, ruins and other little towns. As I’ve just mentioned, I prefer the “drive to a location and park it till we move on” philosophy—walking is such a wonderful way to observe and soak in the beauty of the cities and towns. But sometimes, to see special spots and places far afield, cars are required. (Usually, I find cars are way too fast for sightseeing, but with a car, I can pull over or turn around if I see something that interests me—unlike various forms of public transport!) We will have our week-long tour (with the Celtic Invasion Vacation group, a annual tour organised  by Marc Gunn) up on Isle of Skye in Scotland about a month into our journey. Then we’re back to poking around and working our way back to Dublin for our journey home. There will be two ferry rides—I love these. Allows for a re-boot.

There will be at least one ceilidh (pronounced kay-lee) for us to attend in Dublin at the Jameson Distillery (insert a very happy, smiley face). The date has yet to be set … I really need to get on that soon. Yes, there is more planning to do before we set sail. All in all, I’m looking forward to a laid-back, delightful tour of Ireland and the UK.

So, until next week (after my first book signing of the year—and just before the next one), I wish you all a beautiful, blessed Friday and weekend. Toodles!

 

Mother Nature and Creativity

Whilst the Midwest and East Coast have been dealing with an extremely fickle Mother Nature, our weather on the Central Coast of California has been spectacularly beautiful the last week or so. The on again-off again wind has been a nuisance, but compared to the weather elsewhere, we cannot (or should not) complain. Chilly to simply cool mornings melding into cool to “just right” temps as the day progresses has been Mother Nature’s offering. Spring is definitely in the air. And that makes me happy!
The clouds have been amazing. Billowing cumulus (decorator clouds), the dramatic stratocumulus and cumulonimbus have paraded across our skies, keeping my eyes looking upward in awe. Late evening to early mornings have been just as delightful—our fog that rolls in and out like tidal currents makes me smile. At times, it’s a heavy blanket darkening the sky and hiding the sunsets and sunrises. Other times, it’s a white veil that caresses the hills and trees, reluctant to yield to the sun. It’s the veil-like presence that I enjoy the most. That fog that, as it finally yields to the warms of the morning air, stratifies in the nooks and crannies of the hills, finally dissipating altogether. So pretty.  As I stand at my windows watching, it reminds me of Brigadoon—the magic that happens in the mist of the morning …
And, indeed the magic of the mornings (ever so early, I might add) brings creativity. I know that I’ve been very restless (and frustrated), trying to complete the next few books in the series. It has left you, my readers, wanting more and probably just as frustrated as I am. These last few months, with my renewed energy and my mind finally bursting with more and more ideas (of all sorts—not just storylines), I find myself excited—yet even more frustrated as I realise I’ll not be able to follow through with most of them due to my trip across the Pond. Excited—but frustrated—that ideas are flowing at a rate I cannot possibly keep up with … and they come at the oddest of times. It seems 2-3 am is the most prolific creative time (insert massive eye-roll here). Seventeen years ago—when this story in my head would not go away—I was oh-so-much-younger. I was able to handle late nights and early mornings … and middle of the night “eureka moments”. Now? Well, I can still manage a few days and nights like that, but … oye vey! Sigh. Is it possible to train creativity to happen at more convenient times?? This old doddering woman needs her sleep … teehee.
Apparently not. One of my recent middle-of-the-night eureka moments produced quite a few haikus. Really? I don’t do poetry. Yet, my mind kept spitting them out—I managed to get a few written down before I finally collapsed back into my sleepy coma for what remained of the night. They’re not great, but they do adhere to the 5-7-5 rule.
Creativity/Imagination
The mind like Spring blooms
Ideas flowing anew
A canvas of words
Paintbrush poised in hand
Colours explode on canvas
Rains down settles in
I guess that’s how the mind works—at least, my mind. At these “magical hour” moments, I work out ideas for gardening, for building projects, stories—and apparently poetry in the middle of the night. It’s been a very long time since my mind was this active (maybe a year before my spinal surgery—that’d be about 3-4 years ago!). It feels good—but I sure wish it would choose daylight hours for all of these revelations … honestly (eh-hem—as I write this at that “magic” hour in the morning … which has drawn out till 4:30—good grief!). Well, at least the blog has been written.
So, my wonderful readers, even though I’m nearing the time to head off across the Pond (only a couple more weeks—yikes!) and won’t be able to concentrate fully on my edits whilst abroad, you will be able to follow me during my adventure in Ireland, Wales, England and Scotland via my blog. Then, once home and recovered from my trip, I promise to dedicate time to complete book four in the series before I go back to preparing the first three books for re-publishing. I promise!
So, as the roosters begin to announce the new day, the plan is to back to sleep for a bit, before I edit and post this piece. May your Friday and weekend be blessed abundantly! Toodles till next week.

Neverending Traveling Preparations …

AAAAH … NEVERENDING—IT SURE SEEMS that way. Once again I am spinning my wheels, attempting to prepare for the journey across the Pond. I do this every time (and I think I’ve mentioned that before … but really—it seems worse this time around). This year there seems to be more distractions, more “last minute” things that need to happen before I disappear. And, more reluctance. Not because I’m afraid I won’t have a blast, but because of all the “unfinished” business (my books and incomplete manuscripts) I’ll be leaving behind. Yes, I can work on them whilst abroad, but I’d rather not take the editing binders with me. I will take a USB with me to work on the WIP (book five: The Catalyst). Maybe, by some miracle, I can complete the edit on book one and four before I leave. Sigh—one can dream.

Aside from the books, there are a few more accommodations that need to be arranged before the departure; two cars to rent—yeah … at least two. I want to use one whilst in Ireland for the first leg of the journey, then turn it in when we take the ferry across to Wales. We’ll grab a car at the ferry station, then use it the entire time we’re in the UK (I know … seems frivilous to have it sit for a full week up in Inverness, but I don’t think I can easily find a rental agency up there—and that’s what I do once I reach a destination anyway … park and walk), then turn it in when we catch the ferry back to Ireland. I’m of a mind to spend our last week roaming around on foot in and around Dublin and/or taking mini-tours (let the business do the driving)—there are plenty of them in the area … and hailing cabs when necessary (any night activities or things too far afield).

So, in planning the rentals and accommodations, I need to know the when—need more planning on how much time we’ll spend in various places. Do we hunker down in Dublin and take day trips? Do we travel to the west side of Ireland (Galway) and make day trips north and south? My planning time is running out … I need to focus on the nuts and bolts of the trip and not the other things that keep coming up in my day-to-day life—I need to put all the other stuff on the back-burner, so to speak.

Since I’ll have my daughter’s mother-in-law with me, I’m feeling that I need to be more organised than I usually am. She has a fairly laid back personality (we don’t fit the “normal” mother-in-law profile—we actually get along …), but I still feel the need for things to flow more smoothly. Not quite so spur-of-the-moment or spontaneous … or coddiwomple (teehee … I do love unusual words. Hmmm—should I make you look that one up? Naaw!) “(v.) to travel in a purposeful manner towards a vague destination.” Yup. That’s me in a nutshell. When I travel, I like to know some of the places I want to visit, but it’s not written in stone—there are way too many things that might be even better than what I’d planned. Or, circumstances may change the direction we need or want to go. I’m all for keeping an open mind and a loose itinerary (insert huge grin).

Luggage is also more of a concern this year than in the past. I’ve usually used one of the major airlines and they are fairly lax on checked bag size—Aer Lingus is very rigid about size. Usually, I’ve taken one 21″ 2-wheel bag so it’s never been a problem—except when I return … it’s usually bulging with gifts. Once I took two—the major airlines allow two, but not Aer Lingus. Only ONE free checked bag. So, this year, I decided to upgrade—I’ve got myself a 25″ spinner (4-wheel, omni-directional suit case).. I will still pack light (wash clothes on a weekly basis) and have room for plenty of gifts without the bag bulging. I still must limit my suitcase to 50# (same with all airlines). I’ve purchased a hand-held digital scale (don’t know why I didn’t think of this before!)—it will be a great way to keep tabs on how much we’ve accumulated. Overages can get very expensive—$100 (if I recall correctly) if even one pound over the max. An added suitcase would only have a $60 fee (plus the purchase price of the bag), so if we find ourselves overweight, that may be the way to go. I’m planning on staying under the limit—hopefully. We can always ship some items home—it may be worth that extra cost. We’ll see. My advise to you is to choose your airline carefully—this is the first time I’ve flown with Aer Lingus—they were the only airline that had a non-stop to Dublin from San Francisco that didn’t cost an arm and a leg … a “cheaper” airline may not be that good of a bargain—like I said … we’ll see.

Okay … so that’s enough rambling today. We’re in for a very rainy weekend … beginning later tonight. Have a delightful Friday—and weekend—despite the weather. Make sure to keep your eyes open—check around the corner for serendipitous happenings. Many blessings and cheers!

 

 

 

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.

Books an’ Travel an’ Stuff …

THE FIRST DAY OF SPRING ARRIVED with a bang … rain and wind that I’d prefer not driving in—but I did. The third Tuesday of each month is the Central Coast Writers meeting, on the Peninsula, tucked away in a corner of Pacific Grove. This meant I was driving in the wind on very wet roads … and the wind was ferocious enough that I felt like my car would hydroplane at any moment (if it wasn’t already …). Speed didn’t seem to be a factor at all. Let’s just say I was glad to get off of the highway and onto surface roads that were protected from the wind. The roads were dryer when I headed home (thank God!), so the winds (which were still pretty stiff) were no problem.

The meeting was wonderful—the guest speaker, C. S. Lakin, was quite engaging. She’s written quite a few books—the one she spoke about on Tuesday was Shoot Your Novel: Cinematic Secrets to Supercharge Your Story. She shared visual storytelling techniques and I was surprised at how many techniques I was already utilise in my series. Perhaps not as well as the examples she used, so I listened carefully to what she had to say. It was well worth the trip in the horrific weather. Well worth it! (And … by the way, I bought the book.) The timing is very good, since I will be republishing each one of the books in the series. I am still (insert rolling eyes) working on getting book one’s first edit done for the editor—or, would it qualify as the second edit, since the book was already published (insert impish grin). I am a third of the way done transcribing all of my corrections into notes for him. In any case, I can take a good look at the whole thing once he sends it back to me with all of the changes. And I can start on book two—and three, looking at them in the same light … then move forward with a more critical eye in the edit of book four and five.

It’s times like these that I question my traveling abroad this year, but I am committed to the trip, and I know I’ll enjoy myself—once I get over there. I’ve been vacillating back and forth ever since I paid for the non-refundable airline tickets. I did this last time, too … but I ended up not being able to go last time due to my neck surgery. I truly love my time across the Pond. I’d live over there if I could figure out how to afford it (and keep my home here). Not in the cards unless I find myself a “deep-pockets” hubby. Sigh. Don’t think that’s in the cards either (insert major giggling here). I will be taking photos for book art and for my photopolymer etched printing … but I will not be taking any of my usual promotional materials—or even books. Well, maybe a few books, but my supply is limited and freebees are going to be few and far between. I say no promo material because the books are not really available for anyone to purchase over there—Amazon is not carrying any of them (or will not in the very near future) and I think overseas shipping for me to mail anything would be outrageous. Hmmm … mayhaps I should find out how much it would cost before I make too many assumptions.

Anyway, back to reality. I’m serious when I say (in one of my previous blog posts) that I may need to take a hiatus once I return from my trip. Distractions abound. It will be the only way to get editing, artwork (which I’m afraid I’m going to have to start from scratch …) and publishing done in a timely fashion. But when? Almost immediately after I get back, there’s a Scottish Games that our clan tent needs to be at—a friend and I host the tent every year—I cannot back out. Then the book signing season starts up with a bit of a sputter in early September and goes all the way through the first week of December. One of the November weekends, I’ve signed up to be in Columbia, South Carolina at a book fair. I know … I am plum loco. I committed (monetarily) to that before my publisher passed away. Before the headache of regaining rights to my books. And the artwork. Sigh.

So, the challenge will be finding time, saying no to friends and OGS (insert huge pout)—unless it gets me closer to my goal, cancelling commitments that can be cancelled … and focusing—not procrastinating—on the task at hand. I don’t know how long it will take, but I’ll keep you apprised of my progress. Blogging will stay—possibly much shorter posts than my usual blogs (and I do apologise for the length of this one!), but I won’t disappear.  I promise (I may link to my other blog account, since things look nearly full again—I do not want a repeat of what happened in January!) I promise to keep you up to date.

Please make sure you subscribe to both blogs so you don’t miss anything.  I’ll add links later—or in the next blog—it’s not like I’m leaving tomorrow. Not until May, so there’s time.

I leave you with wishes of a delightfully blessed Spring—even if you’re presently knee deep in snow. It will pass (I know—not soon enough, I’m sure). Have a delightful Friday and weekend … and I will be back next Friday! Toodles!

 

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.

 

 

 

Happy Christmas To All


 

LAST WEEKEND I VENTURED UP into South San Francisco with my daughter and son-in-law, searching for a very specific building. I’d only been there once before—as a passenger in the very back of an SUV. ‘Twas a straight-forward drive with little traffic (I use that term loosely, for those that know SF and LA traffic) on a Saturday morning, but even if there’d been traffic, it was such an easy drive. Google Maps reinforced my vague recollection of where it might be.

Our destination? The famous Cow Palace. Looking back at the ease of the trip, I am definitely kicking myself for all of the missed concerts and events hosted at this venue. Too far … all that traffic … I’ll get lost! All of that and more, plus, my younger self wasn’t nearly as adventurous or as self-confident as I am now. It’s all in the attitude.

Our purpose? To have an adventure at the Great Dickens’ Christmas Faire. It’s an annual event held on a months worth of weekends, ending the Sunday before Christmas. It is fun to wander the streets of Dickens’ London. I will openly admit it’s one huge tourist trap, but there are so many delightful things to see and hear … and taste and smell. There are period actors wandering the streets, playing their parts wonderfully. Many of Dickens’ characters from his books join in on the fun—Marley in his nightgown and chains, Christmas Present … plus someone that looked suspiciously like Alice and another that appeared to be the White Rabbit (hmmm … so, characters from his contemporaries too) and oh, so many more! The pubs are great fun … not just for the food and drink (I enjoyed a hot buttered rum—oooh, yum!—and roast beef with Yorkshire pudding among other things), but for the sights of a period family dining quietly in the corner, for the militia dressed to the nines toasting with their chums and the barmaids doing their jobs cheerfully.

My little family and I tasted roasted chestnuts—my daughter and I had never had them before … we quite liked them. The taste of whisky and rum cakes were enough to entice me to buy two (and now I wish I’d purchased more). We even tasted the haggis at one of the shops. It was “okay” … had I not tasted the best-ever haggis whilst in Edinburgh long before this—had this been my first example of what haggis was all about—I’d never try it again. My Edinburgh haggis is the standard I set all haggis against. Now I understand why most people sport a sour look on their face when haggis is mentioned. Well, that … and if they know what the ingredients are (though, most haggis is not made that way anymore for health reasons …).

We had a delightful time and I spent way too much money on gifts (insert Cheshire grin). We were done before it became unbearably busy—gone by 2:30, I believe … the crush usually begins at 3-ish, when the entry fee is cut in half. Perhaps it wasn’t as busy because it was the second to last day … who knows. All that matters is that we had fun exploring and I had a wonderful time—and am thinking about going again next year. Yeah … I know–I’m crazy!

Until next week … Happy Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and have a blessed weekend and week as we gear up for the finale …

 

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


 

 

 

Traveling Light-Part Three

TURBULENCE. YUP. IT HAPPENS. Traveling definitely has its challenges. Turbulence can simply be inconvenient, or it can be quite disastrous. It didn’t used to bother me, but since my hair-raising accident (weather was not the problem, by the way), I get a wee bit nervous (mmm, maybe a wee bit more than normal) when there’s turbulence … or when the electronics go wacko. Even all these years later …

Our first part of the flight was rather shaky, leaving me with the jitters. My solution, when flying, is popcorn prayer. A quick little prayer, reminding Him I’ve put my safety in His hands and asking for peace of mind—like He needs a reminder … um, yeah. It’s more like I need the reminder! That won’t work for everyone, but it certainly does for me. And I thank God for it—often!

Sigh … oh, yeah. Kinda backtracking, but after going through airport security, make sure you keep track of all your possessions. I ended up leaving my Fitbit behind (pout)—that’s a fancy electronic step counter that you wear. Fortunately, they do put things left behind into Lost and Found. There is a little “paperwork” one must endure, but not too bad—just be prepared … you may not get your lost item back for thirty days. So much for keeping track of my steps … and the poor thing needed to be recharged that night. Oh, well. Lesson learned. (And, yes, I did retrieve it from Lost and Found at the San Jose Airport.)

I personally hate walking on floors where many, many pairs of bare feet have tread … so, my sandals work beautifully with a pair of socks—easy off and on. The socks—and a light weight jacket or windbreaker—come in handy once on the plane, too. Not only good to keep you warm, but if you don’t need it for warmth, you can always use it as a pillow (well, the jacket, that is … to replace the pillow I forgot—except, I wore a sleeveless shirt and need it for warmth. Such a dilemma. Thankfully, the headrest was pretty comfortable and it was not that long a flight). If the flight is too warm, shed the socks and put into a ziplock bag and stash in your belongings. I knew once I got to Tennessee, I’d want to shed them anyway—too warm for this body. The forecast was for high eighties to mid-nineties whilst I was there. I hoped I packed well … not (pout). And, as usual, the forecasters lied … the day of the event (held outside under a tent, by the way), the temps skyrocketed to just over 100°F and the humidity was … ugh. Thank God for a pretty stiff breeze that came through late in the day, giving us cooler temps and lower humidity for the rest of the day (but tossed our books, bookmarks and flyers around—I did not complain … I needed that breeze …).

Oops. There I go off on tangents again (sniggle) … And, then there are unforeseen delays. I’m glad this happened on my last flight for the day and I didn’t have any place to be once I got to Memphis. I always put longer than usual layover times between flights and plan arriving well before any activity to insure I’m never late for that very important date (or event). Aaah, delays. Yup … we had ’em. Part of the delays was caused by mechanical problems with the connecting plane. They had to switch planes, which made them late into Dallas. And then, there was a passenger that wouldn’t put his large carry-on overhead. After several chats with attendants, the pilot came back into the cabin to have a heart-to-heart (the passenger had to be told the options three times—his choice was do as they asked or get off … said very politely), finally … he did as told. I think people were getting a bit nervous because of his hesitancy to comply—I sure know I was …

When I arrived in Memphis, I realised that for all my packing wisdom, I’d not packed appropriate to the weather. I’d grossly underestimated the heat/humidity and all the clothes I’d chosen for the events (a meet and greet on Friday night and the actual book festival on Saturday) and for church on Sunday were going to be too warm (for me—probably fine for others … but I can be a little on the warm side—always!). Sigh.

At least I was able to manage pulling together several reasonable outfits. Next time—and, yes … there will be a next time—I’ll know to pack right, but light for these Midwest summers.

Next week I’ll get to the meat of the blog … the festival. The fun. The wonderful people. Until then, have a blessed Friday-weekend … and week.


 

Traveling Light-Part Two

TRAVELING CAN BE FUN … EVEN exciting. But, there are certain things that can freak me out.

American Airlines has been great so far. Courteous staff at every point. Once on the plane, technical difficulties with the safety video required a flight attendant to do a “manual” run through—done cheerfully, in a very animated fashion with occasional “I’m watching you” hand signals to someone behind me, which made me giggle—and then he asked if there were questions. Very upbeat … but the electrical issues were reminiscent of one flight I don’t really want to repeat, leaving me a wee bit on edge. One of these days, I’ll tell that story, but not now. Apparently only about four of the monitors worked in sync on my flight, with the whole right

Monitors on the Blink

Note the monitors … not in sync

bank freezing and the rest alternating between being blank or frozen. Glad it wasn’t an international flight … and I do pity those who are digital or entertainment dependent. Yes, I had my iPhone (I used it to work on my blog), but I also had an old-school notebook. I could just as easily use that (if needed). As it turned out … I did get hooked on a tv show special with four celebs (William Shatner, Henry Winkler, George Foreman and Terry Bradshaw—strange combo, eh?) and their “handler” as they toured a few Asian countries. It was actually rather hilarious. Once it was over I pulled off my headphones and turned to other things.

The upbeat and delightfully cheery attendants took my mind off that flight from long ago and I forgot all about my past experience. I was actually able to get some thoughts on paper (a quiet little yay-yay … hip-hip-hurray from this corner—turns out it was over 2300 words!). Between written

Dry with Snow Caps

Tiniest bit of snow on the otherwise brown mountain-scape

thoughts, I watched the change of scenery—it is amazing to see the drastic transformation of the

Dry, Dry ...

Dry & brown …

landscape as one crosses from the west coast to Tennessee (with a stop in Dallas/Ft. Worth). Dry and brown (mostly) into mountainous, to green valleys, with plenty of cloud formations … and the closer we approached my destination,

Green Patches

LOL … I see a Pacman amongst these circles …

water in the form of lakes, streams and ponds abound. Ooh, do I ever covet that water … California is so Beautiful Mountainsdry—tinder dry and there is so much of it that has burned … or is burning even as I write this. Still.  I pray for rain, every day. Weather fronts have taunted California Clouds ... image imagewith the possibilities, only to peter out to nothing …

But—oh, boy— I digress. Back to traveling.

Trying to remember all the necessities —and the few comforts—necessary to make the trip is important. Things (at least for me) like a cervical neck pillow are pretty handy, especially since this was my first long trip after my neck surgery—and I forgot mine (pout). A list is an excellent idea (especially for me … which I did not do—note to self: make a list … check it twice …), listing essentials like medications, a full list of the electronic devices AND their chargers you want to take, itineraries, airline approved snacks (sealed, prepackaged usually works) …

Everybody’s list will be different. For me, I need to remember my camera and computer … plus all the accessories that entails. It’s no fun getting to your destination and realising you’ve left an important item back home. Some items can, of course, be purchased at your destination … if you don’t mind wasting time making the purchase and the redundancies once you get back home—or the added cost. Others may be unobtainable (especially medications if you are flying out of state or out of country) unless you visit a doctor at your destination, or too expensive, so make that list … and check it twice—if you’re a list maker, that is. I certainly find it useful—when I remember to make one …

A great flight (actually both ways) and great flight attendants made this flying journey doable, even though there was turbulence and electronic glitches for them to solve and quite a few things I forgot. Next time, I’ll talk about my adventures in Tennessee. T’was a wonderful time.

Tomorrow I’ll be camped out at Compass Church in Salinas selling my books and art. Until next week, I wish blessings of the day—and week—on you. Have a serendipitous day and week.

8 October 2016 • 9 am – 4 pm
Harvest Jubilee at Compass Church
Books, Art, Crafts, Food and Fun
1044 S. Main St • Salinas CA

 

 

 

Traveling Light-Part One

THE INFO IN THIS PARTICULAR series of blogs is probably more for the “infrequent flyer”, rather than for those that fly regularly. But there are some fun tongue-in-cheek comments and stories peppered throughout, so give it a read, no matter what your flying status/prowess may be.

It’s been so long (well over a year for this traveler) since I’ve flown. It’s not my favourite way to travel—give me a car … or a chance to ride a train and I’ll jump at the opportunity every single time. But when time and/or funds necessitate flying, it’s a good thing the flying-option is available. Personally, I hate all the queues (standing still is hard on me). And the impatient waiting and grumpiness (not me … I just chill and smile—sniggle … I’m probably one of the reasons people grumble—too much cheeriness). One can get so much further in life by smiling and complimenting—puts people you’re dealing with more at ease and for some reason, they are more helpful—go figure.

Flying comes with certain rules. For me, it’s trying to remember all the rules and etiquette … it’s so much fun with my lousy memory. And of course, there are changes happening all the time due to changing safety issues and such … and, each airline has their own set of rules that may be different from other airlines. That’s where checking into the airline website has its payoffs. Knowing the different

On Your Mark

Traveling light—not this time …

things like allowable bag size for carry-ons (it’s changed—or will be changing soon) or how many bags are allowed and what you can and cannot have in your carry-on are important. Some rules are TSA motivated, others are specific to the airline. Make sure to know the facts. I sniggled at the announcement made whilst waiting for one leg of my flight—”your Samsung 7 must remain in the off position while in-flight due to newly discovered hazards” (exploding cellphone batteries are not such a good thing) … you just never know what their new rules will be. Glad my cell phone is an older model iPhone …

The kiosks at individual airlines for pre-registeration are still something that confound me—at least for a wee bit, every single time. I always get there early so I’m not rushed through the process—or worried about making it through the queue in time. One must use them before turning in luggage—yes, there’s queues for everything. One to do the ticket, one to weigh and turn your luggage in … then you wander off to your gate—wherever that might be. Still haven’t figured out what the “main” counter is actually for these days … it’s manned, and there are people up there—what they are doing, I’m not sure.

I usually fly United (at least for my last couple of trips). This time around, I’m on American Airlines. I booked it through AAA because I didn’t want to take the time to figure out all the options by myself. This was the best rate with reasonable layover times. American has different rules … and they charge for each bag you check. I usually travel very light and would simply carry on my bag, so that would have been free—and means I don’t have to wait for my luggage at the other end (if it shows up—more on that later). In the past, United didn’t charge for their first bag—haven’t checked their rules, since I’m flying AA this time. But, this

Some layovers are great—look! Outlets at each seat!

Some layovers are great! Look! Outlets at each seat!

time around, I’m not so lightly packed. Purse, one carry-on (backpack with computer, camera and electronic charging paraphernalia) plus two checked bags … oooh, it adds up, but it’s still cheaper for me to check my rolly with sixty books and other promotional material than to ship them to the destination. Plus a bag for all my personal stuff. Worth it. Yup. And by doing two bags, I kept each well under the fifty pound limit, allowing for purchases in and around Memphis. I will be buying books—that is a given … after all, I’m going to be at a book festival all day … right?

Next week I’ll delve more into travel—we’ll get to the actual reason for my travel in the third installment … I hope (sniggle). For now … I’ll be spending the rest of this week and all of next week getting ready for the Harvest Jubilee, with my art and books on sale at the Main Street campus of Compass Church. Maybe I’ll see you there! Have a blessed Friday and weekend.

Authors’ Book Signing and Art
Compass Church’s Harvest Jubilee
Saturday October 8 • 9am-3pm
1044 S. Main St Salinas CA 93901

 

 

Hindsight

I NEVER UNDERSTOOD IT COMPLETELY. My husband was losing his sight and his world began to shrink due to macular degeneration. We laughed at his massive piles of unread magazines beside the bed and next to his chair in the living room. Slowly, the distance between his reading material and his eyes diminished—near the end, pages were held about three inches from his face as he moved his head back and forth to capture the words. He was an avid reader. I liked that about him. He was well informed—almost a walking encyclopaedia on certain topics near and dear to him. Mostly car stuff … and woodworking and how-to things.

… And he knew his way around circuit boards, computers,

Progression of the disease ...

Progression of his macular degeneration required different kinds of visual aids … (click to see details)

cars—and words. Oh, how he loved crossword puzzles—there were several he worked on daily. He was a champ at Scrabble—coming up with the most bizarre words (real words you’d only find in crossword puzzles, but apparently real words nonetheless) … and I was far too slow for him—taking too much time to come up with a word for the board, so we didn’t play terribly often.

Like I said, he was knowledgeable—about lots of other things, too. Just not gardening—which has always been my favourite thing. The garden was my domain—he did stoop to doing “grunt” work that I could not, but otherwise, it was my place to get my hands dirty … especially after he mowed down a bunch of lilies. But, that’s another story. His vision started to be quite a hindrance to his reading ability—and, more importantly—to his driving, which I could see was frustrating. My thought was, why couldn’t he just accept it and move on? I had no problem driving him places he needed to go and there were always audio books and the like …

I obviously did not appreciate how frustrating it was … until many years later.

Then … I was not allowed to drive after my surgery. Two weeks confined to the passenger seat was stressful. I had to depend on others to take me anywhere I needed to go. Juggling their availability with my schedule was a challenge, but doable. I was thankful for their offered time to haul me around. But last year in August, I went in to get a new prescription for my glasses. It had been two-plus years and things were getting a wee bit blurry with my aging eyes. That—and well, really … all I needed was to get some cool glasses for my cosplay character (which wouldn’t be worn anywhere but at the convention), but they wouldn’t fill the request until I’d seen the doctor (can’t get new glasses if it’s been over two years … apparently the state is a stickler on that because it had only been about ten days over and “sorry, we can’t afford the penalty if we fill an old, expired prescription” …) Drats.

Honestly, since my allergies were flaring causing itchy eyes, I figured the combo was the reason for my poor eye sight. Meh. No worries. Just get a new scrip and all will be fine, plus I’d have my cool con glasses too! I couldn’t get in with my regular doctor, so I saw his partner. She informed me I had the beginnings of cataracts … and my right eye wasn’t doing a very good job of staying lubricated. Dry eyes. Great. But, I brushed it off as no big deal. I pretty much forgot about it (used the suggested eye drops for about a week and didn’t see much change, so I stopped).

Recently though (through the holidays and on into the new year), it dawned on me that this poorer vision may be the reason I’m having a hard time sitting down for extended periods to read, write and/or edit. It’s been bothering me—not being able to do what I enjoy so much.That made me sit up and take notice—and remember what my husband had gone through (though, his problem was not correctable, whereas mine is—once it gets bad enough). My vision will never get as bad as his, thank God … but I do see how it can begin to take a toll on how you look (no pun intended) at things.

Just how “bad” is “bad enough”? When will surgery be required? Will it work? I’m one of those people that has odd reactions to medications, so will they even be able to do the surgery effectively? These are a few of the questions that have crossed my mind—I’m not a worrier, so they are not consuming me. I’m just curious. How long will I be required to deal with this degenerative disease before I must right it? There are so many things in my life that require good vision that I may have the surgery earlier than most so I can stay busy with what I love … photography, reading, writing, editing (though I’d love to say I could pawn that last one off to someone else … but I really do need to do at least three sweeps before it goes to the editor—otherwise, I get tongue lashings for turning it in before it’s “finished”).

Even writing this blog is getting harder. I need to enlarge print size to see what I’ve written without getting a headache. Thank God for Apple’s Command+ (teehee). Well, as long as I’m able to make the print bigger, I guess I’m good.

But what about travel? Will taking a car into the countryside be out? Will I be “forced” to completely rely on public transportation, thus missing out on some really neat out of the way locations … and my leisurely schedule? Since my next trip is now almost a year off, I’d better start asking questions, don’t you think? Ultimately, mode of transport will determine what I do and where I’m able to go. Lugging cameras and luggage on public transportation is quite a different story to the convenience of hiring a car for a week at a time (and being able to leave all my possessions in the boot—er, I mean trunk whilst meandering) … sigh.

Decisions … And thankful I am able to make those decisions. I don’t think I will ever fully appreciate what my husband went through, but I’m getting closer to understanding.

May your Friday … and weekend be filled with joyous activities. Be glad for what you have, not what you’d like to have. Don’t take anything for granted. Until next week …

Cheers!

 

 

Rollin’, Rollin’, Rollin’ …

I’M ON A ROLL … AND IT FEELS GOOD! (Sniggle … that title immediately makes me think of the old western tv show, Rawhide … that wasn’t the plan.) The fog is lifting and energy is finally returning. I wonder if it’s residual from all my walking on Wednesday of last week (I think I managed three miles in one day—that’s a lot for me). On Thursday (last week), I made good progress on the edit of book four—and had fun face-to-face interacting with two other “writerly” NaNoWriMo members. Or maybe the awesome evening I had at Open Ground Studios for their Social Paint Night (if you’re in the area, you really need to check the next one out … not sure there’s a date yet—I’ll check)—oh, yeah! I was able to get a tax extension, so that pressure is off (whew!). Or maybe it’s the fact that, on Saturday, I miraculously scored four hard-to-acquire tickets for the 2017 Gallifrey One event in February and made room reservations for half of us—a friend will make the second room reservation.

I’m on a roll, aren’t I? Well … I did miss the Sunday’s Paint Out with the Aromas Hills Artisans at Point Lobos. They changed the time last minute and I wasn’t able to make the new time work. It would have been great—they paint and sketch whilst I usually wander around with my camera capturing images. Oh, well. There’s always next time.

I even worked in the garden over the weekend. Spring is here in spades—actually, over the weekend, it was more like summer with temps in the high 70s and low 80s! Gorgeous day to play in the garden, even if only for short bits … there’s so much to do. Even though I spend a good hour toiling, it’s hard to see much progress—but I can now walk pathways without getting attacked by thistle plants (yay).

Buoyed by all this wonderful stuff, I walked in on Monday to hear the doomsday lecture from my neurosurgeon. I was prepared for it (plus, I had my extended church family praying for me—thank you—you know who you are). I knew (kinda) what was coming and was prepared with lots and lots of questions. It went smoother than anticipated and there was no lecture (yay!). It took a few more days, but now I’m on the cusp of having a date for my surgery—and the daunting task of cancelling my trip to the UK (that’s the only sad part, really). Air fare and rooms … with the aid of the doctor’s office, I should get most of my money back … I hope.

My week continued to be pretty darn great—a walk in a cute little park, a bit of editing on my work in progress, then a wonderful speaker at Central Coast Writers (perfect for me … she spoke about writing a series). Though I’d already grappled with many of the things she spoke of, I learned plenty. CCW has terrific speakers!

And, after a busy Thursday of talking with doctors, juggling non-painterly things at Open Ground Studios and getting zapped in a “nerve conduction test”, then working on editing with writerly friends, here we are again … at Friday. There’s still plenty on my plate, like the ongoing editing project, finishing and confirming the cancelling of all my flights/rooms and an upcoming book signing in May—May 7th to be exact … in a garden setting—lovely—in Aromas! I’m praying for good weather, but I will take whatever is thrown at me.

Oh … and there’s that pesky “major surgery” near the end of May. God’s got my back on that one (along with all my friends—bless each and every one of them!!), so I’m not going to worry unnecessarily. There may be a few weeks where I’m in hibernation, incoherently babbling from pain medications (grin) so, no blog during that time (I’ll give you warning) … but I’ll be back to my old self soon enough.

I love my life … with all it’s ups and downs—it’s pretty darn exceptional. I am blessed. Indeed.

May your day … and weekend—the whole week, really—be gloriously and serendipitously blessed.

Traveling—Again …

AAAH … TRAVEL. YES, once again I’m gearing up to travel. My new passport just arrived and it has my head buzzing with ideas. But first, I have some tedious taxes to tend to (lol—an unintended alliteration) … and book four to polish. In the meantime, “normal” life goes on …

I read an article in Monday about how we are so tearjerker (what??? I do have issues with autocorrect … can you tell?)—let’s try that again: about how we are so tethered to our smartphones … and, so says the “CNTraveler” writer, even in travel—that it is “dumbing us down”. It article was shared on Facebook by International Hostelling—an organisation I love, by the way … inexpensive rooms and so many diverse and interesting people under one roof, no matter where you stay. IH makes travel more fun because you are able to put your money into seeing the places you visit, rather than into the accommodations … yup. Hostels are awesome.

Well … anyway, this writer disagrees with the article. Perhaps I’m the oddity, but I’ll wear that title gladly. I find travel stimulating, whether within the confines of our political borders … or when breaking away and crossing those borders—or an ocean—to explore.  Yes, I do use my laptop, but the cost of using my smartphone abroad (all those gigabytes add up so quickly—yikes!) becomes prohibitive and besides … there’s way too much to see and do to be bothered with spending much time with my electronic devices. No texting, no phoning, no Googling. I’ll only go on it to work on my blog … or perhaps to write down some ideas for my ongoing storyline (but I also have a notebook—the paper kind), or check out and reserve a room at the next spot I’ll be visiting … and of course, to off-load all the photos I take whilst traveling. And there’s plenty of them!

This year will be no exception. As a matter of fact, I will be concentrating on my photography—especially whilst in Scotland, since that is going to figure into my story line. In some form … OOPS. Well, mo more spoilers. I’ll just leave you to ponder that one. Teehee.

So. I’ve been working on getting my itinerary in order. There are fixed events that I must plan my stay around. The Celtic Invasion Vacations tour in Cornwall is set in stone, so to speak. I know I want to make a trip to Cardiff to the Dr. Who Experience (foiled twice … definitely going to get it right the third time!) and have two friends in London and outlying areas that I want to visit … which will entail a visit to the Shakespeare Theatre to see “Midsummer Night’s Dream” … and maybe a visit to an elementary (primary) school to entertain the youngsters with spontaneous storytelling (working on that right now). But my primary destination will be Scotland. As far north as I can manage in the time I have. The furthest I’ve managed in the past is in and around Edinburgh—don’t get me wrong … I could spend my entire trip in Edinburgh and be completely happy. But I want to get up near Wick (south of the northeast tip of Scotland) if it’s at all possible, as our clan castle (Gunn) is somewhere near this area—I need to research this further. If not this trip, then on my next trip. Yup, there will be another trip, health permitting …

Trying to juggle all the places and things I want to do definitely requires planning, so even though I’m three-months out, I’m already behind. I do have my air fare to/from the states and the hotel rooms just before my tour and a couple nights before my departure for home. My first night’s stay is not settled, as I really don’t know which way I’ll be headed. Do I travel by trains? Rent a car? (Maybe a wee bit of both??) So many things to figure out … and so little time to do it.

Not much more to say at this point, but my next “trip” blog will be more informative. If you are interested in any of my previous travels, then look through and click on the Tags (on the right) for “Europe Travel” (and others) to keep you busy till my next blog.

Until then, hoping your St. Paddy’s Day was a memorable one and that you can see the proverbial light (Springtime) at the end of the long, dark (Winter) tunnel.

Slainté

 

 

 

 

 

It’s A Con …


DEFINITELY A CON … DEFINITELY! But only in the context of a Conference. Once a year, the Los Angeles based Whovians put together a huge meet up of actors, writers, special effects people … and more for those of us that love science fiction and specifically all things Dr. Who.

Ages ago, I participated as an attendee on multiple occasions at the one put on by San Jose based Whovians. Back then, I only attended one day. I don’t recall if it was an all-weekend event, or just a single day, but it was crazy fun. Back when I was young–much younger, and full of energy. When Dr. Who left the airways for so long, my love for the guy never faltered, but things like conventions were way down on the list of things to do, so scowering the Internet for old epis idea kept me going for a while. I finally stopped trying when it became nearly impossible to find and my old sources dried up.

Last year, I was given the opportunity to attend the one in LA when a friend was unable to attend and offered up her pass to me. I took it … unsure if an “old fogy” like me had any business at a convention like this, but decided it might just be fun.

Oh, it certainly was. Enough so that this crazy ol’ lady is doing it again! I get to meet with my first Doctor, Tom Baker. Yeah, a few others will be there, like Peter Davidson (Doctor #5) … and the Master–I mean Mistress “Missy”, played by Michele Gomez and quite a few others, but “My Doctor” is special.

(Author’s note: 😩 I made an error … it’s Colin Baker, not my favourite–Tom Baker, that will make an appearance. I am so sad.)

At least, to me he is. Tom Baker has the title of being the longest playing Doctor ☺️ from 1974-1981 Maybe that’s why I like him so much … back when the props were held together with a song and a prayer. The sets really were sad compared to the techno stuff available today, but that was part of the magic.

As viewers, we didn’t need everything to be perfect and realistic like today … just the hint of futuristic and other-worldly was all we needed. The wonderful acting, directing and our active imaginations did the rest.

But I digress. Thursday I pick up my pass and start the weekend off with an unofficial In-n-Out Burger Run with a bunch of other Whovians. I promise to take as many photos as possible–hopefully some of them will be worth sharing. A little later, there’s an ice cream social … though I’m not sure I’ll be making that (I’m gonna be playing the “we’ll-have-to-wait-and-see” card since I’m working presently on this at 12:30 in the morning (insert eye roll here, along with a moan …) and am not done. I may be sitting in front of my computer fine-tuning this on Thursday eve. Only time will tell.

Yeah, it’s a time-thing.

Ih my gosh … it’s afternoon on Friday. I completely forgot to add photos and post. So I will post this and add photos tonight.

Bye folks!

Addendum:
And … here it is Monday morning—the first opportunity to have decent wi-fi … and enough energy to post the photos. My heartfelt apologies, but to be blunt … I was having entirely too much fun (teehee). So finally—here are some of them (this Friday’s post I will tell more about the event, with even more photos and some info about Gallifrey One 2017) FYI: If you click on the photo you can enlarge it.:

Cosplay

Aaah. If you are a Whovian, you understand the uniqueness of the jelly belly … I will NOT eat it. The glasses are part of my cosplay pros for Osgood

Con Attire

Some of my ribbons from Thursday night, my hat (ready for the official beginning on Friday) and one of the bags I made for carrying all things Con …

Ice Cream Social

A panorama shot of Whovians at the Ice Cream Social on Thursday night

StarWars vs DrWho

My apologies. Cannot right the photo.
In the lobby, lots of fun going on. Costumes galore.

Thursday Registration

Registration was open earlier than planned—they truly had things in hand and all ran smooth as silk!

TARDIS Goodie Bags

Two bags I made—labours of love—for the con.

Two Doctors

Two of my cosplay items:
Tom Baker wore a hat similar to this (except his is brown) and Smith wore a bow tie …

Anticipation …

TODAY, I AM FEELING LIKE A CHILD, WAITING … that delightful feeling of anticipation whilst waiting for Christmas or Easter, birthdays … or even summer vacations of long ago. Counting the days down to The Day. Well, yes … I think I will always be childlike anytime anticipation is involved. I love the thrill, the excitement … the surprise—of what will happen. What will happen?

I am gearing up for the annual (my second) Gallifrey One convention at the LA Airport Marriott. I have my con ribbons … and just submitted my pre-order for a photo-op with Colin Baker—the fourth Doctor in the series (… “my” introduction to the Doctor), a meet-and-greet of Classic Dr. Who people (including “my” Doctor) and a photo-op with Ingrid Oliver (she plays Osgood in the newer series). I’m organizing my attire—I’ll be making an attempt to cosplay Sarah Jane Smith (companion to Baker), who happened to be a reporter (so we have something … sort of … in common)—she was such a petite, young thing compared to this frumpy, “mature” author … but I will have my small remote controlled K-9 with me for good measure) and Osgood—this one should be fairly easy … hair pulled back into a ponytail, black glasses, red bow tie, 4th Doctor’s lovely scarf and perhaps a lab coat.

Last year, the whole experience was fun—newbie attendee with deer-in-headlights look all weekend, but this year … getting to meet with my favourite Doctor (possibly even Peter Davidson—5th Doctor) and Osgood, in addition to handing out my very own con ribbons—I’m expecting it to be absolutely outstanding. Last time I met any actors, I was a kid … a Nervous Nellie and certainly didn’t know what to say other than to shove a piece of paper in their faces for autographs, followed by a thank you. Here’s hoping I’m a wee bit more sophisticated and can carry on an intelligent conversation.

Even the trip south should be interesting … February. An enigma unto itself, really. No clue what kind of weather to expect—could be snowing on the way down when I get into the mountains around Lebec … or rain in Lebec and in LA with chances of land slides. Or, it could be drop-dead gorgeous … and hot in LA. One never knows—our weather has been so bizarre of late. So, yes. The El Niño has begun (in theory), but how long it will last is questionable. There’s no planning ahead. I’ll need to have multiple wardrobes at the ready to choose from for packing. Plus an umbrella. Very British, really. Teehee. Maybe next year (if I’m lucky enough to get my tickets—there’s a two minute window … honestly!) just maybe I’ll take the train into LA and hire a car for the trip to my hotel. We’ll see.

Friends are coming along, so that will make it even more fun. We will be sharing a room (or two—can’t remember) and everyone has their favourites activities and characters they want to have their photo-op with, plus there are panels to attend. Don’t know which panels I’ll sign up for because I enjoy keeping it a pretty flexible schedule. I’ll only have a couple specific times—most of the night on Friday to meet Colin Baker and the Classic crew, then the two photo-ops on Saturday and Sunday. That way I can meander through the lobby, the vendor rooms and … well, just general roaming around, passing out con ribbons and my wristbands (gotta sneak a little promotion in whilst there—teehee).

Our hotel room is about three (long) blocks away—15-20 minutes of walking several times a day … depending on where we go for meals—so we’ll get our exercise in at least twice daily, rain or shine. It’s too close to justify grabbing a taxi or hassling with finding parking for my own car (& paying for either) at the Marriott—and I have no problem with walking. Walking is fun—rain or shine. There’s lots to see when walking. And the nights … beautiful lighting. I’m not oblivious to the dangers of walking at night in the big city. I try to be smart: keep a watchful eye (very aware of my surroundings … listening and looking around as I walk—even when I’m focused on taking a photo), walk in groups whenever possible … and carry a heavy purse or umbrella.

I’m looking forward to this adventure and will keep you posted on how it turns out (with photos!) …

I’ve Been Pondering … Deeply | Part Two

YES, I’M STILL FREAKING OUT OVER THIS decision of cutting myself off from overseas travel—well … maybe not as much as I was when I first started thinking about this. I did promise two friends I’d visit their country … no, make that three friends … and now it looks like I’m going to have to renig on my promises. That’s something I seldom do. If I make a promise to do something, I like to keep it. But, sometimes, things get in the way … like finances—and, in the case of the three locations (India, Australia and Hong Kong)—distance plays heavily into the decision.

I’ve been trying to figure out how I could physically manage about 18 hours in the air. With my body’s slow meltdown after October, 2013 (I’ve had good times and not so good times—I never know when each will hit), there’s no way. Finances … well, I could probably figure that one out eventually (pull from “Peter” to pay “Paul” …), but the time spent in the air is a biggie. Even for a trip to/from across the Pond. I’m not thrilled about the travel time required for my 2016 visit to the UK and beyond, but I’ve already committed myself to this trip. And if I do decided to go business cla$$ (haven’t decided as yet), it’s going to eat into what I will be able to afford in the future.

A couple of friends have suggested to make the decision on a trip-by-trip basis: plan it, see how I’m doing … then if I’m doing well, make the commitment to go. If not, then … well obviously, don’t. Hmmm. I may have to take that under consideration. But in the meantime, I think … since I have time before my next big planned trip (after the 2016 trip … pattern is every two years or so), I think I will play with the shorter, on-my-continent trips to see how I do. There’s plenty to see in the States … and I have yet to make it up to Alaska, which is on my bucket list (actually, was on my husband’s list, too … and I still have some of his ashes destined for—hmmm … maybe Anchorage … or Denali National Park?) so, I’ll just have to see how that pans out. Right?

Looking at things in the short term is appealing, too. Long range planning is hard. Doable, but hard. Planning ahead a week, a month … even a couple months out is so much easier. Forking out deposits nine-plus months in advance, then paying the balance six-months out (to get the best discounts) for the delightful Celtic Invasion Vacations tour does have it’s drawbacks. With closer to home, shorter trips, costs should be more manageable also, allowing for more travel (insert huge grin here).

So, this is what I’ll do. For now. Hmm. Now, if I can just find the time … and solve Kaeli’s scrounging/scarfing issues, I’d be set.

Well, folks, I’m back to diving into last minute planning and creating art for my upcoming—yikes! It is just over a month away—painterly exhibition at Open Ground Studios. Deadlines loom (Sunday!!). Prior to the opening, I’ll have all of the art documented and live on my SquareMarket website for those of you unable to make it to the event due to conflicts (excuses like distance or prior commitments are allowed—wink).

 

Open Ground Studios showcases it’s Co-op Members artistic talents in an exhibition from November 25, 2015 – January 20, 2016
Debra Jameson Smith’s art and fantasy series will be on display
The Opening and Holiday Party 5:30-8:30pm will be December 4, 2015
1230 Fremont Boulevard • Seaside California

 

 

I’ve Been Pondering … Deeply | Part One

OH, YOU KNOW ME … WHEN I START TO THINK—well, that can be dangerous at times. Have you ever thought about something for a long time, but feared voicing the thoughts? I mean, saying them out loud? It’s different to keep the thoughts in your head … or even write them on “paper”. Well, at least for me … for some reason, something happens when I voice thoughts. It changes the purpose. The circumstances.

I put a voice behind a thought a short time ago … and now I cannot get it out of my head. I love to travel. You already know that. I write about it all the time. I love Europe, Ireland, Scotland and … well, simply the idea of being over there, planning for the next adventure … then experiencing it. I love it enough that I’ve seriously contemplated purchasing a someplace to lay my head when I am able to visit. I put a voice to that several years ago. I actually started looking … seriously looking. Every time I was over there, I looked with the intent of finding something. I’ve talked to realtors, looked at ads, thought about consolidating into two small abodes so I could bounce back and forth whenever I could make it happen. Over the last year, I realized there were a few huge obstacles: 1) the cost of purchasing something—even renting a flat … or a room—would be very steep. 2) as long as I had critters, it wasn’t going to happen. My forever critters. I cannot justify giving them up just so I can travel for extended periods—nor put them into quarantine (“jail”) for months on end just so I can take them with me. And there’s no way I’m going to leave them behind to live abroad. All of that would be too selfish. Lest I forget my loving pet sitters—I cannot impose on them for repeated long stretches of time … so I figured, I could wait till the pets passed over the Rainbow Bridge. 3) then another realization hit me … as I wait, my health seems to be deteriorating to the point that these transcontinental flights are taking a heavier toll on me with each trip … what shape will I be in once I am pet-free?

I’m already contemplating moving up to business class so I can more comfortably make this next trip. That’s a heap of money spent just to get across the Pond. That in itself is a huge negative for me. I like to make the air fare and room as inexpensively as possible so I can use my funds to explore. So, another thought started pinging around in my head—one I kept stuffing, because I didn’t want to consider it. Logic and common sense kept dredging it back up. The thought I recently voiced was to make this 2016 trip my last trip abroad. Once voiced, the idea grew. Stop flying across the pond and instead, put my time and effort into visiting places within the confines of this continent. I didn’t like the sound of that at all. “Confines…” was the key word. But I cannot make it go away.

I love traveling so much—and the draw of Ireland and Scotland is strong. I just don’t know. It’s hard to imagine not traveling. In a way, I’m in mourning … it saddens me thinking that 2016 will be my last foray traveling abroad—traipsing amongst the trees and trudging up hills with hidden secrets … and experiencing the ancient ruins of our past. The States—and that which lies north and south of me—may be old, but Europe and the British Isles are ancient. I have fallen in love with ancient. I adore ancient. It pulls my mind away from the present, planting me deep in to the past of oh, so long ago. My imagination seems more alive as I wander over there. To think that I won’t be visiting any of these lovely places anymore leaves a huge hole in my heart.

What am I to do with this quandary?? My heart is aching over it. I cannot see a resolution in the near future, yet … I really must decide.

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

 

 

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