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

 

 

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

 

Always Something Happening

MY LIFE IS FAR FROM QUIET. MATTER of fact, of late, it’s been entirely too busy. Scheduling quiet time into my busy schedule is an ongoing struggle for me. Sometimes, when I don’t … well, nature takes it’s course (or perhaps it’s God intervening—insert winky face). I get “sick” enough to have to put things on hold. Allergies flare, aches and pains become more pronounced … couldn’t He just tap me on the shoulder and tell me to slow down? Um—would I listen? Probably not. (Snort) Sometimes I get a wee bit too focused on what’s happening around me, to things I’m doing … to notice things happening to me.

I get invested in activities—like this last weekend. It was wonderful. Truly wonderful! Very full of hard work setting up the Gunn Clan tent on Friday at the Monterey Scottish Games and Celtic Festival, then busy engaging with everyone coming through on Saturday and Sunday … answering questions about our clan and Scottish heritage in general, and then tearing down our little home away from home on Sunday at the conclusion of the Games. I did have a chance to wander a wee bit, to take in all the fun and competitions ongoing throughout the weekend. Those were nice little breaks. But at the end, both my clan member buddy, Michelle, and I were tired. Very tired. We said our farewells and headed home. The plan was to unload everything in Monday morning before I went in to get a manipulation from my osteopath doc.

Instead, I unloaded some of it (even though completely exhausted) Sunday when I got home. Fool that I am. And by Monday morning, the idea of doing anything other than get ready for my appointment went straight out the window. I made it to the doc in time—just. Boy, was I needing the work he did on my back…

When I got home … after one quick errand, I collapsed. Yup. Overdid. Again. Not sure I’ll ever learn my lesson. I do know we need more hands-on help with the set up and tear down. That will make the weekend more enjoyable for all concerned. Wanna come stay the weekend and help out? I’ve got free tickets to the Games for you if you’ll help set up and tear down … honest. First weekend in August. 2016. Come on … you know you wanna come join in on the fun! (wink) Seriously.

So, I ended up “forced” to relax not only Monday, but also Tuesday (well … I did do a bit of work—finished unloading the truck … but that’s it). Now, here it is Wednesday and I’m finally back to normal. Yay. And the day has been marvelous. As I write (whilst sitting under the umbrella on my back porch), I’ve got blue jays calling out … earlier today two red tail hawks were talking back and forth and I’ve heard quail, lots of little twitters from wrens and the like … and the weather has been spectacular these last couple days. Sun shining, gentle breezes keeping the heat reasonable. Then the chain saws kicked in (insert  h u g e  frown). I know things have to be done, but darn it.

I’m getting off-track here—and way over my usual word count (oops … and sorry). “Hanging over my head” are quite a few commitments: this weekly blog, my WIP (work in progress), an upcoming workshop for “Under the Surface Mixed Media”—I’m really looking forward to this … I think we get to play with paint and a wood block. I need to come up with images to work with in the class. And there’s book three that finally has a publisher (yay!), so I start from scratch there. Once I receive the edited work from them, I need to make whatever changes that are required, submit/approve, then wait for the galleys (cover art and interior) to arrive, to be reviewed and approved … then off to the printer for publishing.

By the way … sounds like they are hoping for a late September release, but we’ll see—but I am excited…

All of that, plus the “normal” household chores that I keep putting off. Yard work, rooting through all the rooms and garage to sort and clear out to make room for stuff I have in storage … oh my. Yes, my life is full. To overflowing. Some mundane (and oh, so boring), some exciting. Some just plain ol’ fun!

Oh, yeah … and then there’s the planning for my trip to the UK next year. First on the list is renewing my passport—and making sure I’ve got my driver’s license renewed, too so I can acquire an International Drivers License—I’ll be renting a car again! I’m definitely going to Cornwall with the Celtic Invasion Vacation group, but plan on making sure I include Scotland and Wales (remember … missed out on the Dr. Who Experience last time ’round—not going to miss it this year!). Planning starts early with me. I’ll actually post a blog on what I do to plan at a later date—when things quiet down (if ever). Promise. This trip will be exciting, as we CIVers will be taking in a lot of King Arthur lore—sites that he and his troupe visited. The area is beautiful—and vast (been there on previous trips with my daughter and as a single traveler). Plus, of course, plenty of music—pubs and personal in-house concerts. Love those. If anyone is interested in joining, click on the link above to get more details. Marc Gunn only takes 8-14 “Invaders” with him on his tours.

Ooh. I have to chuckle. I had a meeting I nearly missed last night (Wednesday) because I forgot to put it on the calendar … and I’ve “over-committed” myself for the weekend. The art workshop is Friday (day) and Saturday. I’ve (without blinking an eye … or thinking) added a trip down to Julia Pfeiffer State Park to do some night-time photography, which I haven’t done much of—and will have several seasoned photographers available to assist me, so hard to pass up. Multiple late nights and an early morning on Saturday. This ought to be fun.

Talk about “always something happening” … I’m giggling whilst shaking my head. What do you do in your life that has you shaking your head, knowing full-well that you’ve over-committed yourself?

Finding that balance is tricky. Saying no. Deciding which activities are more important. So hard.

Here’s hoping that you are able to find that balance in your life, blessed with good decisions.

Well … More Delays

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

This newest one is more of an announcement … sorta.

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

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

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

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

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

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

On the Road Again …

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

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

Kale caught in container

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

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

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

Mt. Pinos and Clouds

The mood was wonderful up near the 8000 ft level.

Clouds Playing Peekaboo

Clouds prominently peaked through the tree cover.

Poppies South of Gorman

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

Sage, Pines and Clouds

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

Rock Critters

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

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

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

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

Windy Dirt Road

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

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

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

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

Michelle's View: Photographer Photographing Photographer

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

Michelle's View: Driveway

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

Michelle's View: Lawn "Ornaments"

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

Michelle's View: Sky & Palms

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

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

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

Reflections and Quirky Boat

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

Vast Masts ...

I have a fondness for masts. They fascinate me.

Hrbor Reflections

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hope everyone has a blessed weekend.

 

 

 

 

 

Fandom

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

David Tennent Lookalike

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

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

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

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

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

Lighted Hat with the TARDIS

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

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

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

The TARDIS at Marriott Hotel

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

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

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

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

Ribbonated

Some of my collection of ribbons

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

Secrets Beyond Scymaria Swag

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

Slow Down . . . You’re Movin’ Too Fast . . .

I KNOW. SO MANY OVERUSED SAYINGS, but I have found a few that I truly feel are very appropriate: the oldies song by Paul Simon, 59th Bridge Song: “…slow down, you’re movin’ too fast…gotta make the mornin’ last. Just kickin’ back…”, the often quoted “Stop and smell the roses” (can’t find where that one originated). They seem to come to mind—much more often than in the past.

How many actually listen to—and act upon—the “slow down” muse that dances in our head?

In the past, I’d listen, but not act. Now, there are still times I don’t, but more and more (is it because I’m getting olde—or wiser?) I heed the call. Slow down. Look around. Take in the view. Be glad…and thankful for what you see around you. Find something—anything, no matter how small—and revel in it’s simplicity. It’s beauty. The benefits are amazing. I find myself more relaxed, seeing things that I’d otherwise miss in my rush through the day.

The same applies to driving. Slowing down reduces the stress on our crazy roads (so does courtesy). Are you able to carve an extra fifteen to thirty minutes out of your day to slow down…maybe even find an alternate route to your destination? This is something my dad did routinely. It used to drive me crazy as a kid—how on earth was I to learn how to get somewhere if he was always changing the route. Right? He was, by the way, the most mellow of people (definitely not a Type A personality—no-no-no—definitely a Type B).

Well, this week, in the midst of my travels to the Southland (So Calif), I’ve had so many opportunities to choose either being stressed about traffic—oh yeah…crazy traffic—or chilling, enjoying the scenery, letting my mind (carefully) wander on a million tangents as I negotiate stop and go freeways, accidents and construction. Then, with no deadlines (other than the constraints of how much fuel is in the tank—unfortunately less than a quarter tank), I was able to wander into the mountains to simply be. Take in the stark beauty of the high desert.  Breathe in the scents that waft in the clean warm air of the mountains. Oh my. Delightful.

The stress is gone. Definitely gone.

Even in the fast-growing metropolis of Corona, with all of the crazy construction plus the “me-me-me-first” and “need-to-be-there-yesterday” mentality on the freeways, I am enjoying the beauty and did manage to make it into the heart of LA unscathed—and actually relax. Yay!

So, this is a short blog (and done on the fly, so my apologies if I didn’t catch all my mistakes)—I’m off to the Gallifrey One (Dr. Who) Convention. I’m getting plenty of walking in (yay!) since our hotel room is a couple blocks away from the hosting hotel.

My wishes for you are to find a way to stop and smell the roses this week. Enjoy life—even if it seems to be one small, insignificant thing—to help bring peace to your mind, heart and soul.

Have a blessed week.

 

Celtic Invasion Vacation: Wales-Part Two

AS MY TRIP CONTINUES TO unfold on these pages, I am having fun reminiscing and looking through all of the photos I managed to accumulate. Rather daunting, actually. You are only seeing a small fraction of the shots I took. At some point, I will be putting most of them (at least the ones I deem ‘sharable’) onto my Flickr page for you to peruse. Until then, you must be satisfied with the smattering I include in the blogs (fewer, this time—I’m afraid the last one was way too photo-heavy).

Snowdonia—and Wales in general pull at my heart-strings, for sure. There’s something quieting about the natural beauty of this area. I’m sure my blood pressure was down quite a bit. It’s the ‘woody-ness’ of the region, I think. Have you ever heard of Forest Bathing (also known as Shinrin-yoku)? Sounds a bit weird—I know, but really, there are scientific facts behind it. Here’s a link if you want to check it out.

So, now—onward with my adventure…

Day Five (honestly, the days were starting to blur, so

Confusion

Confused? Which way did we go?

chronological order may not be precise) was mostly spent wandering around the town of Caernarfon, to see the beautiful castle and town, but we also managed to get out into the country to wander around the rolling hills and bluffs of Ysgol Poithy Felin.

Beautiful Vista

Hills and dales, where the sea meets land…

Three brave (or perhaps fool- hardy?) souls managed to somehow negotiate the cliffs to poke around in the rocky beach below. I was content to stay above, drinking in the beauty of the area. It was amazing. Our evening was the highpoint of the day—first, a BBQ’d dinner, then a concert by Jonny Dyer and Vicki Swan. They’d planned on

Jonny and Vicki

The melodic duo, Jonny Dyer and Vicki Swan sang and played for us

leaving around 8pm, but stayed well beyond that, playing the most magnificent music (I purchased a few of their CDs—insert huge grin) until around ten or so. After bidding them safe travels, we all went to bed very happy, indeed.

Day Six involved lots of driving. We met up with Jonny and Vicki in Llanberis for a boat ride out to an island to try to spy some puffin…I didn’t see any. But it was

Boat Ride to Puffin Refuge

A puffin refuge, but not a puffin to be found

a nice ride. Back at the docks, we said goodbye to our musical friends and continued our adventure, after wandering the town for a bit. From there, we went back into Holyhead, to Winefried’s Well (loved the architecture), and…well, like I said, it’s all a bit of a blur. We did get back to the cottage relatively early, figuring we’d walk to the local pub for dinner. Plans changed and we ended up going into Holyhead for dinner at a lovely pubby-restaurant, The Old Boathouse at Red Wharf Bay (I think). Delicious food.

Day Seven was pretty much spent driving to our final destination (with a tiny bit of sightseeing on the way)

River In Town

This river flows through town, with businesses on both sides. Don’t remember the town name —sorry.

—a beautiful, old hotel in Mold (in Flintshire Wales), where we spent our last night as a group. We took in the sights as we drove, but it was mostly pre-departure day preparation day for the majority of the Invaders. We had one final ‘house concert’ in one of the Invaders rooms, then we retired for the night.  Then next morning—very early, we all drove into Manchester. Marc dropped a few at the airport so they could catch their flights and the remainder of us were deposited at the

Manchester

Last look around Manchester before heading back on the train to Bewely Hotel

Bewley Airport Hotel. I would continue on my trip the next morning, Nicholas took the train down to Cardiff (spent the night and back the next day) so he could go to the Dr. Who Experience, and Jan and Jim would head out for home the next day. We had breakfast together and said our goodbyes. It was lovely, but I was exhausted and looking forward to getting on to my next stop so I could recover from all the fun I had in the last seven days. I needed a vacation from my vacation…so I could continue my vacation.

If there is one thing I’ve learned—especially on this trip, going into any vacation, you must know your limits. Thankfully, I do know mine, but still, I have a tendency to stretch those limits on occasion—sometimes finding that little extra I need, but other times, finding myself completely spent at the end of the day. I have decided, no matter which way things go, I choose to see every experience I have as a rich one, filled with lessons for me to learn. I have found that I never regret the things I’ve done, though, perhaps I shake my head at some of my choices. And laugh.

Next year, Marc’s plan is to go back to Ireland to explore the northwest corner and the Giant Causeway, and possibly a trip to Isle of Man. If it’s at all financially feasible, I’m going to attempt to make the trip (I usually travel every other year, but there have been exceptions made in the past). Marc has already opened up the reservation doors and space is limited. If you are interested, make sure you check it out. Remember, this is not your typical “tour”. It’s a vacation for like-minded people who want to enjoy a bit of history, beautiful scenery and Celtic music.

Until next week (sorry for the delay in getting this posted—internet problems), may visions of vacations-to-come dance in your head, beckoning you to break out of your every-day life, to explore the world around you, whether just outside of your back yard or across the border somewhere.