Wishing You A Blessed Christmas

THIS YEAR, CHRISTMAS FALLS BETWEEN Fridays, so before I forget, I’d like to take this time to wish you, one and all, a very blessed and Merry Christmas. My humble gift to all of you is a wee bit of a Christmas song from Vicki Swan and Jonny Dyer.
https://youtu.be/HGcgCxASg04
You can find out more about this musical duo at swan-dyer.co.uk/

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

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

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

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

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

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

Me an’ Technology … and the Blessings of Family

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

So, instead …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Fall … And All That Entails!

FALL, AUTUMN … WHATEVER YOU prefer to call it—it is definitely here. And, with it comes chillier weather, an urgency to complete outdoor (and some indoor) chores before the rains come—hopefully they will (one never knows whilst living amidst a drought), a countdown to the Holidays … and a writing frenzy.

Halloween came and went quite unceremoniously in my home. I did dress up in my Celtic garb, but did not do the usual trunk-or-treat festivities at my church—didn’t think I’d be up to it because of a tooth extraction and a few other health issues. By the time I realised I’d be okay, it was too late. So, I snuggled up on the couch, buried under a quilt and heated blanket to watch the Hallmark Channel—yeah … I am a sucker for the sappy shows they air every year around this time.

Heated blanket, you say? Yes, we’ve past our Indian Summer—which never really happened here for some reason … we went straight from summer to chilly autumn weather. Well, we did have an occasional warmer than usual day, but mostly chilly to mild days. But it’s definitely chilly—especially in the mornings and evenings, so that heated blanket gift I received last year has come in quite handy. Oh, definitely!

Hmmm … I’m good at getting off track, aren’t I ?

Waterlogue 1.4.1 (116)
Preset Style = Fashionable
Lightness = Auto-Exposure
Size = Medium
Border = No Border

These last couple weeks of no blogging have had me quite the busy girl—mostly dealing with medical issues and trying to get my photography turned into art (I have over two hundred images I’ve tinkered with) for my upcoming book signing/art events—first one is on November 4th in Monterey—the date of the time change <UGH>. Then the craziness begins, because between events, I am up to my eyebrows in NaNoWriMo— that annual, crazy writerly event where writers around the world attempt to create a 50,000 word novel in thirty (30) days. That

National Novel Writing Month

Pencils sharpened, computer charged…ready to go!

requires me writing 1670 words daily … or an accumulation of that if I miss a day or two … or more! I’m going to use this time to attempt to finish book five.

The troublemaker—long and skinny, Word and my computer are not liking it and refuse to cooperate. Sigh

Right now, my primary focus is getting my computers and printer to communicate properly! The printer I took to Open Ground Studios doesn’t seem to like the written word. It will print images, no problem—let me take that back … it doesn’t like one long and skinny image I’m trying to print <pout>. The computers will write words (I’m so glad), but have decided to be stubborn about how—and where—I put images into a Word document (haven’t figured out if I’ll be able to print those words out on my OGS printer). It’s driving me up a wall—of course, all of this happens as I’m trying to come up with new material for the Painterly side of my events <pout> Sigh. I think I simply need to take a step back … breathe … and allow my mind to sort things out. On Thursday—in the wee hours—I came up with an idea. But I’m also wondering about the possibility of a virus of some sort. Only time will tell. But, you do remember how much I like electronics, right? <insert dark grey cloud over my head … raining on my parade!>

Until next Friday, have a delightful time this weekend and through this next week. Hope you survive the time change! Have a blessed weekend!

Event Schedule through November, 2018

Sunday, 4 November   9am-2pm. DON’T FORGET TO SET YOUR CLOCKS BACK !
Book Signing/Art at Holiday Fair
Moose Lodge, 555 Canyon Del Rey Blvd, Monterey

Friday-Sunday, 9-11 November 1-6pm (Fri), 10am-6 (Sat), 10am-3? (Sun)
Book Signing/Art at Watsonville Elks Holiday Craft Show
121 Martinelli Street, Watsonville CA

Saturday-Sunday, 17-18 November  9am-5pm (both days)
Art/Book Signing at Aromas Hills Artisans Holiday Fair
400 Rose Avenue, Aromas CA

Thursday 23 November HAPPY THANKSGIVING DAY!

Tuesday-Wednesday 27-28 November Christmas at the Inns 5-8pm
Pacific Grove sponsored event: visit 3-4 Inns/B and Bs in Pacific Grove to see their beautiful Christmas displays whilst enjoying hot apple cider, cookies and music of the season.
I will be wandering through each location, taking photos for next year’s Christmas card selection.
Pick up your tickets at the Pacific Grove Chamber of Commerce.

Thursday-Friday, 29-30 November    9am-5pm
Book Signing/Art at the Holiday Craft Fair at Watsonville Community Hospital
75 Neilson Street, Watsonville CA

 

Winding Up … Winding Down

{Oops. My apologies—I was having technical difficulties and was unable to get into my account, so couldn’t post this until now.}

IN WAYS, THE SEASON IS just beginning to warm up, in other ways, it’s finally winding down. Today is the very last day of my crazy book signing/craft show events.

The wind-down allows me to evaluate what worked and what did not. And it allows me more time to spend with friends and family as the holidays heat up. I’ve had to say no to friends and family so many times this year, I’m sure they thought I was a workaholic.

Being able to say yes feels wonderful! I love when I can mix work with pleasure, too—the two-day Christmas at the Inns was delightful, allowing me to photograph the Inns in all their Christmas splendour … and I was able to have some quality time plus a delicious meal with good friend. I’ve known this cool lady since we moved up into my little paradise—a good thirty-plus years! We have a mutual love for cars and photography, so it was natural to share the two days of fun with her.

There are a few more photography-rich events we are doing together, plus a concert before year’s end and I have a Writerly Christmas luncheon to attend, a sports car club Christmas luncheon, time with family, too … my social calendar is almost as crazy as my business calendar was earlier in the year.

It’s all about spending time with friends and family. Friends I’ve neglected through the year. I haven’t been quite so bad with immediate family—I’ve been able to spend time with my daughter and son-in-law fairly frequently. My brothers and their families … well, sadly, that’s something else again—with no one close by, it’s hard. Now … it’s time to catch up on all that has been going on—somehow.

The winding-down means I can relax, too. I can enjoy the holiday—my very favourite season. For me, it means Christmas lights, decorations, decorating the tree … giving of ones self. Nothing is rushed. Everything is savoured. Enjoyed. And lovingly shared. That’s the way is should be.

So, my friends, make sure to set aside time to truly enjoy the season—slow down, breathe. Fill yourself with the beauty of the time of year—whether it’s filled with snow, rain or sun … find it in you to be gentler, caring, giving. And forgiving.

May you find this day, this weekend and week to come blessed and filled with joy!

Perfection … ?

NOWHERE IN THIS WORLD WILL YOU find a person that is perfect. Nope. Not anywhere. One can strive for perfection. One can attain a moment of perfection—like a tear drop in the ocean of life—one tiny moment. That’s all. Life is too messy for perfection. Those that continually attempt to achieve the impossible can find themselves very unhappy because it always remains just out of their reach. Does that mean we shouldn’t try? Oh, absolutely not—we must realise it is not something to attain, but rather, something to use as a goal … to continually strive toward.

For me? Well, I think I love the “messiness” of life. It creates challenges, discoveries and life lessons. Of course, there has been only one being that managed to achieve perfection. Only one—and it was not just anyone. I use His perfection is a goal—a goal I know I will never fully manage in this worldly life. But He knows that. We are all damaged goods, but He knows we are worth salvaging … worth saving, if we ask …

The messiness. I’m trying to figure out why I’m writing about this. It’s as plain as the nose on my face, right? My life is messy. Beautifully messy. And since I seem so disorganised of late, is everything around me is too (insert goofy grin). My home, yard, cars, my art and writing … it can be overwhelming. Honestly. But for some reason, it isn’t—once upon a time, it certainly was … but not now. Back when I was incapable of getting out into the yard to do the tiniest bit of cleanup or lacking the energy to do a simple pick-up around the house, or even put words on a page—oh, yes. That was overwhelming. Emotionally and physically. Thankfully, now my energy and strength is returning—finally (aaah, insert Snoopy’s happy dance here!!) I have been in the yard and puttering around the house all the time. Creativity abounds. Words flow. Still messy, but delightfully so.

The mess created over the last two years is mountainous—but I’m finding as long as I keep going (and with the occasional help of a team of gardeners), it gets better looking, which encourages me to do even more. Weird, but it’s the visual accomplishments—improvements—that keep me at it. The pressure is off (but not forgotten)—where fire safety is concerned—rain has quelled that. I’m past the “ugh—I need to get out of this mess (read: MOVE!) and start over”—I’m so glad to have moved beyond that horrible feeling of frustration. And, finally, my mind is beginning to move beyond “what’s next/now what?” to “how can I improve/beautify?” Ideas are pouring into my mind from who knows where. It’s exciting.

My messy life extends into every corner of my creativity. I find myself (finally) back to seriously working on all three of my Writerly projects—book one’s edit (so it can be republished with Inknbeans Press), book four’s edit (so it can finally be published … and book five (I am progressing in it nicely—it is an exciting “chapter” in the series). The life lessons continue through the series … and I still don’t know what the final book will be—book six? Book seven? Only my characters know for sure. They’ll clue me in at some point—hopefully.

Even my Painterly side seems to be re-ignited. I’ve acquired a new, much larger printer so I can make larger pieces of art—that definitely excites me (still have to figure out out to set it up, but that’s half the fun, right?)—I can hardly wait to begin playing with it. The funny thing is, there are only two more events (one this weekend and one the second week of December), so there’s no way I’m going to produce any new material for this year’s events. The nice thing is, that doesn’t really bother me. The important thing is that I’m re-energised … on fire. And I’m loving it!

The end of November and the whole of December are times of renewal for me … I do have personal (fun) commitments—parties, family events and outings with friends, both day and night. I am so ready to get back to being normal … it has taken two long years. God is good … especially when I remember all things can be done and will happen—in His time, not mine. So … I’m not going to waste a moment.

In the meantime, my dear readers, try not to stress over the upcoming holidays … just be in the moment, take in the joy where you can and shake off the craziness that others try to foist upon you. There is so much to be thankful for. Start counting all of those little things that help you get through each day … have a blissful, blessed Thanksgiving with family and friends, and I’ll see you just after Thanksgiving—no Black Friday for me. Maybe I’ll wander around Point Lobos or venture down into Big Sur—it’s opened partway, so it would be nice to see the area again!

And readers—watch out. Keep an eye out for New Things in the New Year.

FINAL EVENTS:
Book Signings and Art at Craft Fairs

Saturday-Sunday 18-19 November 10am-4pm
Aromas Grange, Aromas CA

Thursday-Friday 7-8 December 10am-4pm
Watsonville Community Hospital, Watsonville CA

 

 

 

Timing…

I HATE IT WHEN I STOP WRITING mid-sentence/mid-thought…I guess, at the time, I thought I’d easily be able to pick up where I left off. I began a blog entry a month ago, laid it aside in the ‘draft’ pile and figured I’d use it at an appropriate time, but without changing tenses, timing…well, it was very time sensitive. And now, one month later, after scanning through my previous blogs, I realized I actually did finish it and posted it. It seems WordPress has been having issues saving thing…and letting go of old (published) drafts, too. I was relieved that I hadn’t made a huge mistake. But, it made me think—I had done nothing more on this entry (or so I thought), I’ve done very little on my edit for book three—my editor has probably forgotten all about me since I haven’t communicated with him, I haven’t been communicating with my publisher and I have done nothing on book four (other than think about it), which is my NaNoWriMo project this year.

I’ve been hibernating…It’s not that I’m “burnt out” from all of this, it’s just that I’m dealing with some health issues—with my dog and my own health. I think I’ve mentioned some of it in a previous blogs. I’m not looking for sympathy (just statin’ the facts, ma’am….) So, now that Kaeli is better (finally!) I’m trying to recuperate from my own issues. Trying to get some energy back so I can plow ahead with all that needs doing.

The lack of editing on The Scymarian has been a huge negative. Not only does that mean the completion and publishing of book three has been pushed back to the beginning the new year, which has me feeling like I’ve disappointed my readers—big time (I am so sorry), but I seem to be in a time warp with the Holiday season nearly upon me.

There is so much to do and so little time to accomplish it. In a little over a week, Thanksgiving Day will be here with my merry little family over for the day. I do have a turkey and menu planned (whew!), but my house looks like a tornado blew through it—no counter space for cooking, no room for guests to sit…oh, my! In less than a week (aah…by the time this is posted, it will be imminent), I have a two-day book signing, which will take two precious days away from cleaning up my disaster. Then, a month later, Christmas—with all the decorating and preparations. Yikes. Don’t get me wrong…I absolutely adore both holidays. They are very special, close to my heart…but I want to enter into each with my head and heart in the right place.

And, life seems to be getting in the way of writing, which makes me sad too. I love writing. Beyond my weekly blogs, I’m not doing much. Let’s just say this year is one fraught with frustrations. I know, with God’s help, I’ll get through it all. But, I’m going to have to make decisions–which is more important. Prioritize. You, my dear readers, may not be happy with me, but family trumps my books and writing, so there will be delays in the release of book three and perhaps a few missed blogs. I’ll be less stressed and the final products will be much better. Please be patient. It’ll be worth the wait.

There will be no blog entry the day after Thanksgiving—unless I’m unusually productive, so I will wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving Day now. Take time to be present with your family and friends. May you find many things to be thankful for on this special day.

Have a blessed week.