A Day In the Life …


 

MY FRIDAY BEFORE MEMORIAL DAY weekend was mighty busy. More than I bargained for, actually. It started with me wearing my “Homeowner’s” hat; taking a lawnmower in (hand to wrangle it into the back of my truck, then out again) for maintenance and then paying “bail” to get my weed eater/brush cutter sprung outta jail so I could do some serious work in the yard over the weekend.

Then I switched hats (after getting spiffed-up) and met my mystery writer friend, Joyce Oroz, for lunch up in beautiful downtown San Juan Bautista. Writerly hat donned, I was hoping to leave the grey skies behind as I headed inland, but apparently the grey extended its hand all the way into (and beyond) San Juan Bautista. As I walked the block and a half to the restaurant, I took inventory of my warmer weather attire, and I crossed my fingers, hoping we’d be eating inside at Jardines. Thankfully I didn’t find Joyce outside in the patio, but nestled nicely to one side of the Mexican restaurant’s indoor seating area. A pesky pain in my arm interfered with my high spirits a little bit, but after a lovely, filling meal, we chatted with the assistant manager about utilising their garden patio (dining area) for a book signing. He was quite sure something could be worked out, but would have to get back to us on Monday or Tuesday. We were happy with that and bade our good byes to the manager and each other.

My shoulder and arm kept hurting (I couldn’t figure out why) and by our departure was quite bothersome, so, before leaving San Juan Bautista, I rung up my family doctor to see if I could—by some miracle—be squeezed in … no such luck. They didn’t like the sound of the symptoms and since I could not be seen by them, their automatic (CYA) response was to recommend I go to the emergency room.

Sigh. Not happy with the recommendation, I did comply. But calculating the timing and my itinerary, I chose the hospital on the Peninsula over Salinas because it would be closer to my next destination … and if the worst happened (which I doubted), I’d be closest to my daughter—so much more convenient for her (and I prefer CHOMP to SVMH anyway). Another reason was I’d be more likely to make it to the event at Open Ground Studios since it usually took less time at CHOMP than at SVMH. Even with CHOMP being busier than usual, I made it out in under three hours—just in time for the event.

So, I spent some “quality” time at CHOMP, admiring the paintings hanging in their waiting room as I went through the “triage” of care, then was led into the inner sanctum for further evaluation. Kinda wished I’d brought my edit with me—time would have passed faster (maybe). I always feel like I’ve wasted the staff’s time when it’s a false alarm—but I am thankful it wasn’t the worst-case scenario (heart attack—I always have to consider it since I’m on blood pressure meds and have a wonky heart that likes to skip beats, then add an extra now and again). Instead, it was most likely a neck/nerve issue that I’ll have to address at a later date. (Drats!) Well, with Memorial Day weekend upon us, it was put into the back burner. I can’t read a crystal ball, but I do foresee more doctor appointments in my near future—several, in fact … plus a stress test (ugh). Sniggle and sigh … all in one breath.

With that out of the way, I was finally able to switch hats (Painterly) one final time and enjoy (mostly, since my arm still hurt) a wonderful evening with my fellow artist friends and the public that came to see the exhibition of art created in classes and by OGS members. I didn’t participate this year. It felt kind of weird not having any work displayed—other than the piece on the Co-Op Member’s wall at the back (along with my books), but I’m glad I didn’t—I would have been scrambling the last month or so, even more than I already had been! Time to let other artists get the spotlight—well deserved, too. I’m so proud of the amazing things that are created with the OGS walls.

By the time I got home, I was ready to crash and take some medicine that would work better than the Aleve (which gave me zilch relief). Saturday I awoke to no pain (the cycle was broken—yay!) and the day was spent recovering from the busyness of Friday. I didn’t even touch the weed eater—I’d planned on spending the day whacking away at my burgeoning weedy yard, but recovery was more important. The weeds could wait for another day. Monday was the first day I attempted using the weed eater … oh, my. I am so far out of shape—the vibrations did not feel good on my neck, so I laid it to rest in front of the garage … and have yet to pick it up again.

I think I’ve finally resigned myself to not doing any of the heavy work needed to bring my yard back into a more tidy form … instead, I’ll be making a call to have someone come in and do the work for me—this is a very hard thing for me to let go of. I love my gardening—even the hard stuff. Maybe I’ll have him out to work this weekend. Maybe I’ll have another story to tell. We’ll see.

I cannot believe it’s June already (insert serious eye-rolling here)!! Until next time, I’ll say adieu. Have a fantastically blessed Friday and weekend.

Saying No …

IT SEEMED LIKE A LOVELY, SLOW MONTH — really it did. And that’s just how I wanted it, especially with two edits hanging over my head. But … I have a tendency of “filling” my time — without thinking. The only thing I had going this month was my cataract surgery in the middle of the month and my weekly NaNoWriMo group. Now, all of a sudden, my calendar is being populated with art classes at Open Ground Studios … and dinners with friends and families. Oh, yes. And there’s the short story for an anthology I said yes to (but now that I know more details, I may back out). Whaaat was I thinking?

I’m not even sure it has anything to do with saying no … because — at least for the art classes — nobody asked if I wanted to do them … the flyer was just sitting there and I was craving some dedicated creative time. Time specifically set aside for practicing and playing with what I love. I signed up for two classes (photopolymer and watercolour), but now I’m not sure about the timing for the watercolour class — evening classes and I don’t get along that well. I hadn’t realised the times when I signed up for the that class. The other is a daytime class so I’ll have no problem with it. And, I’ll be there anyway. Um, well, all except the first day. That’s the day of my cataract surgery (oopsie) … so, I’ve got a note into the instructor, letting him know — just in case that makes the class a no-go.

Well, I guess it does have to do with saying no after all. Just because there isn’t a physical “other body” to say no to doesn’t mean I can shirk the saying no. Sometimes I’m the one I must say no to. That’s hard. I thought I was getting really good at saying no — but apparently only to others (stifles a guffaw …) — so, I still have some work to do on that.

I was able to say no to an extended family get-together, but needed to say yes to another one … since I was sick for Christmas, I missed two dinner/get-togethers. My daughter (and son-in-law) and I decided to move our annual get-together to a time when I was well. We tried last weekend, but I wasn’t quite up to it. So, this Saturday it is! I’m looking forward to spending time with them … and planning our next dinner (also delayed due to me) to celebrate my daughter’s birthday. She gets to choose the when and where, then we’ll all go and have a lovely time. I love spending time with these two (one of my harder duos to say no to …) — any time!

Trying to keep my calendar underpopulated is going to be a challenge. I can foresee some complications that are likely to arise, but all in all, I think these first three months will stay fairly quiet … and that’s a good thing (and very much needed). Making time, finding time … and preserving those times for whatever is needed — for me, it’s time to be still, refresh and get some things done that have been ignored for a very long time. Saying no can be so freeing (Cheshire grin here …)

Before I sign off, I’d like to wish each of you a Happy New Year. May this year bless you with many serendipitous happenings.

 

Aaah, Well … Photo Journaling

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

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

So without further stalling … here we go with my photo

Fresh Produce

Fresh produce at our local farmers market in Monterey

WestEnd Celebration

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

journal of the last few weeks:

Greens at the Farmers Market

Love the fresh veggies here!

Reductive Wood Cut

Alyssa Endo working on her current project at WestEnd Celebration

Demos & Creativity

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

Photopolymer Printing Demo

Susie showing the print she just pulled from the press

Gearing Up for Alzheimer's Walk

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

My Goofy Sebastian

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

Sunrise in the Dale

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

A Visitor

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

Preparations for an Opening

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

Sunsets Make Me Smile

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

More Sunset ...

Another view of the same sunset

Gardening at OGS

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

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

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

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

Blessings to you all …

There's even a place to sit!

There’s even a place to sit!

A Selfie

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

Designs In Nature

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

Now What …?


FEELIN’ BETTER, GETTING THINGS DONE slowly but surely … and now what?

I need to do some book-stuff housekeeping, since in a month, things are going to start getting very busy and not slow down till sometime in December (yikes!). I need to inventory my books to determine if I need to restock before my jaunt back to Tennessee in September, get more bookmarks—I’m down to the last few and know I need to get that done soon … and really … I need to get my head into a writing space so that I can get book four done and sent off to my editor.

… And very soon (aaack!)—a mere two weeks away—the Scottish Games will be upon us. So much to get ready before the 6-7 August event … the Gunn clan tent will be great! I’ve enlisted a friend (thank you Lora!) to help Michelle and me get the tent erected—since I’m still limited in what I’m allowed to do (serious pout!). And, I will have copies of my books for anyone interested in purchasing.

But right now, I’ve been taking an acrylic “boot camp”—this whole week. I’m had fun, as are the other participants. Two are doing portraits, one is doing a barn landscape … and, of course, I chose a macro-shot of a flower, which does not have much in the way of shadowing—something Robert Burcar had requested (oopsie). We’ve learning different techniques and it’s very educational! But, I also learning that acrylics and I don’t necessarily see eye-to-eye. I love how they are similar … yet, very different when compared to water colour (which I think is my favourite medium, since I keep gravitating back to it). But the plastic base/fumes of acrylic paint and I—more precisely, my allergies—don’t get along. I’m waking with increasingly puffy eyes and I’ve my cough has gotten worse. Pout.

Our instructor, Robert Burcar is an accomplished oil/acrylic artist and has a website if you are interested in his art. Along with many other instructors, he teaches classes at Open Ground Studios as the need arises. Check out these two websites to find more details.

The skills I’ve learned could be used with water colour, sketching, etc. Centering the canvas, drawing the skeleton, creating dark and light values—he says, “cover the canvas!” (well, not so much this for other mediums), blending … and so much more.

Unfortunately, my allergies got so bad that I only stayed half-way through Thursday … and will not return to complete my project on Friday, but I’m hoping that I can get finished images from each of them to post at a later time.

**I will eventually fix the landscape shots that ended up sideways … promise—so sorry about that.**

image

1) Centering and getting the skeleton on the canvas

Here are a few shots of the demos Robert did for us (using a Clint Eastwood black and white photo, which he chose to colourize) … and the progress of each of our project.

Sketching out where shadows and light will go (sorry—directionally challenged (oops)

2) Sketching out where shadows and light will go (sorry—directionally challenged (oops)

Shadows of various values

3) Shadows of various values

Demo/instruction time.

4) Demo/instruction time.

Helping Linda decide what to do next

5) Helping Linda decide what to do next

Yours truly's reference images & art work.

6) Yours truly’s reference images & art work—long way to go.

Day Three ... getting to add more values and "details"

7) Day Three … getting to add more values and “details”—again, directionally challenged 🙁

It's looking good! (I'll get a portrait image soon!)

8) Getting the values just right … It’s looking good—even if it is sideways!

 

All of these portraits are looking wonderful. Wish I'd taken 9) pictures of their skeletons!

9) All of these portraits are looking wonderful. Wish I’d taken pictures of their skeletons! Wait! I may have them … I’ll add later (if I find them).

End of day three

10) End of day three for my project—practically upside down … sorry.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And with that, I will bid you adieu. Have a wonderful Friday and a blessed weekend.

Bucket List—Part Three

ALRIGHTY … THIS IS THE THIRD and final peek into my life. Oh, I’m sure I’ll have more to say—later. Three connected blogs in a row is more than enough … don’t you think (sniggle)? So, here we go again, taking up where we left off:

(X) Had a pet
A pet? A single pet? You must be kidding. Seriously. Growing up, our home was littered with pets over the years. Pigeons, ducks, geese, chickens (yes, they were pets!), partridges, a pony, dogs, turtles, gerbils and rats … oh, yes … and goldfish, then more exotic fish like angelfish neon tetra and mollies (more keep coming to mind). Then, when I grew up … dogs have always in my life. Always. And then there were chickens again … and again—and I’ll get them again when I stop traveling—and a cat … and a rabbit.
( ) Been skinny-dipping
Nope … never. I wouldn’t wish that on my enemy … (sniggle)
(X) Been fishing
(X) Been boating
(X) Been downhill skiing
… and survived (my guardian angel was working overtime, even back then). I really got into skiing when our family moved to the Midwest—as a teen. I still have my monster wide Head skis languishing out in the garage somewhere.
(X) Been water skiing
Um … does it count if you never get up on two legs—always and forever using your bum as a third ski? Another thing my dad thought we’d love to try out. My brothers did just fine. I guess, even with my constant wrestling with them, that didn’t give me the arm and leg strength and agility required to stand up on skinny boards whilst moving across choppy water and arms being yanked out of their sockets …
(X) Been camping in a trailer/RV
(X) Been camping in a tent
(X) Driven a motorcycle
Hmm. Not a big honkin’ motorcycle, but a Honda 90. A trail bike really. Still counts, right? Had lots of fun when we had it with us on camping trips. There are a few memorable times … sigh. Never good memories, really. Once, when I was just learning how to ride it, I stopped on the side of a berm. Dumb, right? Well, I was able to stay upright, just barely. But the bike came to rest on my leg. My bare leg. And left a bad blistered burn. I learned my lesson—I thought. The next memory was me sliding on ice plant that someone had thrown into the road. I laid it down without any injury (yay), but remember it to this day. It plays like a slow-motion event in my mind. Then, finally, there’s the time we were motocrossing in the vacant lot between us and our neighbor’s yard. My little brother had a habit of digging holes—big, deep holes—and I was very careful to avoid them … until I came upon one that wasn’t so visible. The front wheel went deep into the pit and since I wasn’t going that fast, I fell off to the other side of the bike to avoid the hot spot—didn’t want to get another nasty burn! But my bare leg found yet another bit of hot engine. Dang it. Another lovely blister to nurse during the summer.
( ) Been bungee-jumping (never in a million-zillion years!)
(X) Gone to a drive-in movie
Lovely experiences. My poor parents. Rowdy kids in a station wagon. We were all over the place, but once the movie started, we settled down and loved it.
(X) Done something that could have killed you
Hmm. I’m a daredevil … well, I was as a kid. Invincible. I was a mountain goat and climbed in places that I shouldn’t, fell from playhouse roofs, jumped off a diving board to the side of the pool … and missed—landed in the deep end of the pool (couldn’t swim at the time); jumped off of the hood of a moving car …
(X) Done something that you will regret for the rest of your life
Um … see last item above. That jump. I was a senior in high school, I think. Pure stupidity, really. The car was moving faster than a person can walk forward … and I was sitting on the hood of the car, facing the windshield. My parents were not home. My younger brother and his friend were going to a fair and I wanted to come along. They said no, so I sat on the hood. My brother’s friend was driving. He started to drive away with me on the hood. My brother told him to stop and when I figured he was going slow enough, I jumped off. Like I said, stupid. I landed on my feet wrong, continued to move backwards, fell on my bum, then slammed my head on the road. Temporarily paralyzed. The scariest moment in my life. When I could finally move, they took me to the ER and I was pronounced okay, but it was the probably the beginning of a long road of deteriorating discs that turned into severe arthritis in my cervical spine (in my 30’s my then new-to the profession doctor nearly freaked out when he saw my x-rays … said I had the spine of an 80 year old). All because of this one stupid act … and most likely the major reason I went under the knife last week. Sigh.
(X) Rode an elephant
( ) Rode a camel (well, my daughter did … I don’t think I did)
(X) Eaten just cookies or cake or ice cream for dinner
( ) Been on TV (for a milli second!)
( ) Stolen any traffic signs
(X) Been in a car accident
(X) Been in the Hospital in past 24 months
Well, that was blank until last week. Oh, well.
(X) Donated blood
( ) Gotten a (speeding) or any other type of ticket in the past 12 months
(X) Gotten a piercing (One earring hole in each ear. That’s all. But had to re-do them because I heal so well LOL.)
( ) Gotten a Tattoo
(X) Driven a manual transmission vehicle
Is this really a “bucket list” item??? I grew up with a stick shift. I actually recommend it to any new driver. You never know if you’ll get “stuck” with driving one some day—and it’s fun!
( ) Ever owned your dream car
(X) Been Married
( ) Been divorced
(X) Fell in love
(X) Fell out of love
(X) Paid for a strangers meal
(X) Driven over 100mph
Teehee. Well, thank goodness for the Autobahn. When I was in Germany, with two passengers, I just had to give it a go. Got up to 120mph, then slowed down. Just had to do it. The only time I’ve gotten near that speed in the States was at the Thunderhill Raceway with my Miata. I was 55 years old and wanted to see if I could still enjoy precision driving. So, I went to a Miata school where we were on the race track for the entire weekend. The straightaways were not long enough (nor my gear box set up well enough) for me to comfortably get over about 94mph. By the time the weekend was over, I was exhausted and knew that track racing was definitely not my thing, but that I could easily get back into autocrossing which I had done with my husband for so many years. I did get back into it for a short while. It was so much fun.
( ) Been scuba diving
( ) Been snorkeling
(X) Written a published book/story/poetry
Ah, well … yes. I’m still working on this. Three books down, with more coming. This surgery sure has thrown a wrench into things, but I’m weaning myself off the Percocet, so the brain fog is lifting slowly, thankfully! And my next venture (after I complete this series)? I want to dig out all of the audio tapes I have from all of my storytelling in schools to create an anthology or two of these stories. That will be fun!
(X) Eaten snails – Um, yes. Cooked, of course. Escargot. A couple of times, actually—each time differently prepared, to be sure I had an accurate assessment. A couple of friends, Kitty and Chuck, used to harvest them from their garden and put them through the purging process before preparing them … so my hubby and I gave them a try at one of their dinners—our first attempt. The next time, we thought we’d try some at a restaurant for comparison. I love garlic but have decided that I don’t need garlic-flavoured bits of chewy stuff in my diet. There are much better ways to use garlic (like on calamari … mmmm).

So, that my friends is the end of that little experiment. Now you have a little insight into my inner workings. Of what helped form the person I’ve become. But, it’s a mere drop in the bucket at what makes me tick … which is fine.

If you want to get to know me better, read my stories, follow my blog (if you’re new, read the archived blogs), follow my Facebook Page, check out my Amazon Author Page … and if local enough, come to the events I hold and/or attend. I’d love to get to know you, too!

Speaking of things happening, despite my recent surgery, I will be at the Open Ground Studio’s event—a celebration of three years running—happening Friday, 27 May from 5:30-8:00pm. 1230 Fremont Boulevard, Seaside CA. Exceptional art and their artist creators, food and drinks … with plenty of socialising. I will have my books available upon request.

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.

It’s A No Blog Blog …

I’M GOING TO BE UPFRONT WITH YOU. My writerly brain has turned to mush. And because of that there is no blog for today … or will there be?

I’ve tried taking a number of draft blogs and expounding upon them but I am so entrenched in getting ready for the Open Ground Studios Co-op Member show that I cannot concentrate. I’m still scrambling due to some very strange circumstances on Thursday. It exhausts me to even think about the craziness that became Thursday.

So, instead I will simply be thankful. Thankful that Thursday has come and gone; that it is Friday and I will be setting up the table this afternoon for the Aromas Hills Artisans’ Holiday Art Festival that is happening this weekend. Thankful that the pressure will be off (mostly). Thankful that there are only a few more pieces of art to prepare for this weekend—and for the Open Ground Studios show, which opens on the 25th … and goodies to gather up for the OGS Artists’ Reception and Holiday Party happening on Friday, 4 December.

And … I’ll leave it at that. Short blog. Perhaps next week my brain and thoughts will gel better. Until then, have a blessed weekend!

AHA Holiday Art Festival

Come one, come all to this delightful event! (click on picture for more detail)

Holiday Art Festival: November 21-22 10:00-4:00 at the Aromas Grange
Art of all kinds, beautifully crafted items, books by
dj jameson smith (fantasy) and Joyce Oroz (mystery). Both authors will be available to sign their books.

Co-op Artist Showcase Exhibition: November 25, 2015 – January 21, 2016

With Special Guests:
Monterey Peninsula College Drawing Students
Presented by Instructor Bob Lamp

Artist Reception & Holiday Party: December 4, 5:30-7:30pm
Free and open to the public
Open Ground Studios Gallery
1230 Fremont Blvd. Seaside, CA 93955

The evening festivities include a raffle with beautiful holiday prizes, hot cider, refreshments and community cheer!

For More Information:
Denese Sanders, OGS Artistic Director
Tel: 831-241-6919 | Cell: 861-236-8636
Email: info@opengroundstudios.com
Website: opengroundstudios.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/opengroundstudio

 

Joy


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

 

Competition

WELL, I DON’T THINK I HAVE A COMPETITIVE bone in my body. I don’t compete (I tried as a kid—on the high school track team … and that was more than enough). It’s never been high on my list of priorities, but the poor “loves” of my life definitely vie—they compete for my attention, my time … and my energy.

My painterly and writerly sides are in competition at the moment. Each vying for all my time, attention and energy. Both are racing to meet deadlines. I’m not sure who will win, but I’m hoping both meet their deadlines—though, the current Painterly deadline is far more important at the moment. (Teehee … re-reading this, I’m talking about “myselves” in third person—and it doesn’t seem odd … not at all. Should that bother me?)

I am scrambling—which is thankfully keeping my mind off the “travel dilemma” ahead—to get the required information and artwork (two pieces to hang … and any pieces that go into the art bin) completed before the November 1st deadline. It’s kinda hard to turn in information on art that doesn’t exist yet … oopsie—I’m workin’ on it! I’ve been working on a couple things, but have not liked the results. So this week and next will be spent sorting out what I want to do, creating/printing some art, then documenting it (photographing and writing up a description) for Open Ground Studios. The Exhibition for us co-op members will not be hung till the middle of November … and the Opening-slash-Christmas Party isn’t until December 4th (please mark your calendar if you’re local), but all information must be in by November 1st. All new work. So, I’m busy—beyond busy, trying to push myself to be creative … which isn’t that hard in the wonderful setting that makes OGS the creative place it is.

(Giggle …) Um … so, why am I working on this blog and not my art? Because I’ve made a commitment to being faithful to a weekly post. I’ve only missed it a couple of times and want to keep it that way. It’s only Tuesday (well, now Thursday as I re-read and fine tune) … and I’m hoping to get it done today (hope, hope … aah, well … so that didn’t happen, did it) so that I can focus on art for the remainder of the week. Today is more of a Writerly day, anyway. Tonight, I will be reading a small bit of my first book in front of an audience—which has me very, very nervous. A room full of writers, listening to me read from my flawed first book . Even I see flaws (little things like punctuation, ways I stated thing) in what I wrote—should I be saying this? … and errors not caught by my vanity-press publisher’s editors. My readers love the story … even if I do see all the errors. Are they simply looking beyond the errors or am I just hyper-critical of my writing? Ooh … that nasty feeling of doubt is rearing it’s ugly head. A writer’s nemesis …

Breath … deeply—and press on. And know that I’ve improved with each book I’ve written. And will continue to improve!

… And, as it’s now Thursday, I can tell you I did fine—even if I was a wee bit nervous. Nervous enough to forget to mention the book title in my introduction <giggle> but was able to use that nervousness to express the nervousness of one of my characters as I read. It was a good evening.

Oh! Did I mention that National Novel Writing Month is less than ten days away? Have I started preparing? Um … no. November 1st. Another deadline. These next few weeks are going to be crazy. But November will be equally as crazy—trying to keep my “routine as usual” on top of finding time to squeeze in an average of 1,667 words daily, writing with abandon. Fun. Honest … it is fun—and doable if I keep focused. Key word: focused (add winky face here as I’m sure I’ll have issues with that).

And, in the midst of that November chaos, there’s a book signing or two. I don’t think I know the meaning of moderate in my lifestyle. Sniggle. But, that’s part of who I am. Crazy, living life to its fullest … then crashing for a wee bit to recover, only to do it again. Yup.

Next week I’ll hopefully get back into my “usual” routine and post part two of my travel dilemma saga. Until then, I’ve listed a few of the things going on in my Painterly and Writerly life below—you might want to mark your calendar for a few of them:

November 1-30 24/7 (starts and ends at midnight)
National Novel Writing Month
Write with abandon all month, aim for 50,000 words by midnight on the 30th
Sign-up online: NaNoWriMo.org

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

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

December 4   Friday 5:30-8:30pm
Co-Op Members Art Exhibition Opening and Christmas Party
Open Ground Studios, 1230 Fremont Blvd., Seaside CA

Too Much To Do …

OOPSIE. THERE’S BUSY … THEN THERE’S WAY too busy. It looks like October is just one of those months … filled with a mix of business and pleasure, leaving very little room for quiet time. I’ve been so darn busy trying to get ready for the release of my third book in the series, the book signing next week and the upcoming Steampunk convention—and failing miserably to get my costume the way I envisioned it (insert huge pout), that I have put aside my blog responsibility to the very last second. Literally. Yikes.

Also, in trying to make sure all my ducks were in a row, I completely forgot about book marks for my new book (groan … head/desk!). So … if I’ve time, that’s on my agenda today so I’ll have something for the weekend. Otherwise, it’s on my to-do list for Monday (for next week’s event).  Now I’m wondering what else I’ve forgotten. What was initially planned as  a low key event where I would meander through the vendor tables, etc. to distribute business cards, con ribbons and chat up attendees has become … um, well, almost a circus—with me running in circles, trying to get things to work out correctly. I keep misplacing things, only to find and misplace yet again (and, in most cases, find them again). Some things remain MIA, sadly … so I’m not able to do a few things I’d planned. But, I should be ready. A “scaled-back” ready.

At least, I hope I’m ready.

… And, I now have an added responsibility of trying to recruit interested Steampunk artists to teach at Open Ground Studios. I don’t mind—it’s kind of an honor, really … but I don’t want it to take away from any other aspect: having fun, passing out my con ribbons and chatting with attendees about Dr. Who, steampunk and my ever-growing series. I’ll figure it out.

So, as short as this blog is, I’m sure next week’s will be just the opposite … and should be filled with photos from the conference. Until then, I’m off to have some fun, so have a blessed weekend and week to come.

 

Secrets Beyond Scymaria series (books 1-3) available now at my SquareMarket (signed copies)
Inknbeans Press (book 3 only … at some time in the future, they will have all of the books in the series)
Amazon (book three)  (book 1-2) … having issues getting Amazon to recognize all are by same author.

 

Whimsical Art Exhibition

WRITING A WEEKLY BLOG CAN BE INTIMIDATING at times, especially when technology is against you. I was at least three hundred words into my blog for today and attempted to save it in the “quick draft” section—after I copied it completely (to be safe, right?)—and then … it decided not to save. No worries. I went into normal “new draft” section and pasted it in. Only three lines of the three hundred-plus words popped up on the screen. To say I was filled with dismay is a gross understatement.

When that sort of thing happens, it makes me wonder if maybe … just maybe, I’m not supposed to be writing about that topic right now. Sigh.

So … here I am, at the proverbial eleventh hour and I’m kinda at a loss as to what to write about (insert huge pout). The obviously easy way out is to slip in some photos—I have been taking lots of them lately. Nope. Or write a blurb about my upcoming release (which may be delayed either till next month or even later) … hmm. Or talk about an amazing young artist that is new to the area and to Open Ground Studios.

Indecision … (seem to be good at that this week) the pressure is on. Okay. Decision is finally made (actually, a no-brainer—sniggle):

In a little less than three weeks, Katie Crawford of Katie Crawford Art will have her first showing since she moved to the west coast. It will be on Friday and Saturday, July 10-11, 2015 at Open Ground Studios, 1230 Fremont Boulevard in Seaside, California. She is working feverishly to get everything ready for the show. Things are looking absolutely beautiful. I am excited for her!

This creative young lady has a whimsical side to her and her art shows it. She lets

Katie Crawford at OGS

At Open Ground Studios, Katie and other artists are able to spread out and create in an inviting atmosphere.

her characters express her fun, frustrations and other adventures she has had since she and her husband moved out here. She writes a blog also, including these delightful drawings to tell of her real-life adventures. They are definitely fun to read. She is a sweet, thoughtful individual that has this amazing artistic side that I am quite envious of. If only I had a drop of her creativity (the ugly green envy monster is rising) …

We were so lucky to have her join our ranks at Open Ground Studios. She is a delightful addition and instills a wonderful work ethic—showing up nearly every weekday to work on one facet or another … from pencil sketches to preparing her “foundation” of old letters that she found at estate sales, adding the sketches, to water colouring the sketches … she is filled with ideas. The newest idea is to create a passport for each of her tiny critters that take flight on leaves, dandelion fluff—ants, crickets, worms (yes, worms) and others. It’s one of those “you just gotta see ‘em to appreciate ‘em” things. I adore her work!

And you can do that at her website: www.katiecrawfordart.com or at her Facebook page: www.facebook.com/katiecrawfordart. At her website and Facebook page, you can peruse all of her art (please remember, it is her work—no copying without her express permission) and I believe she has a link to her store to make any purchases if you are unable to make it to the opening on the 10th or 11th of July.

I hope you can make it—mark your calendar so you won’t forget. It should be a fun event! She will be delighted to meet you—and do let her know where you heard about it. Maybe I’ll see you there, too!

Until next week, may you be filled with blessings to make it a joyful week.

 

 

 

 

A Cornucopia of Thoughts…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Gratitudes and Attitudes

AN AUTHOR FRIEND OF MINE, Leland Dirks (an amazing author), has put together a wonderful book entitled 100 Days of Gratitude. The seed for his project began with his Facebook friends nudging him to join in on the ‘Thankful’ thing that’s been floating around for a bit: list three things you are thankful or grateful for—or blessed by, do it for seven days, and tag x-number of people to join in.

So, he did. And because he enjoyed it so much, he is still doing it (and I love seeing both his prose and photography posts)—as are many of my friends. It is, for a lack of a better word, addictive. Leland has taken his love of photography and paired it with his thankful thoughts to create this awesome book, blessing his readers with a work of art!

At first, I resisted jumping on the bandwagon because I give voice to my blessings daily to God, so I felt it would make my them less valuable by announcing them on Facebook. I kept getting a nagging feeling, like it was something I needed to do, even though nobody had specifically tagged me. I laughed when, on the day I finally decided to do it, I was officially tagged—by my daughter.

I started mine the day after she began hers and faithfully posted my gratitudes daily for seven days. It turned out to be very freeing, this public announcement of my blessings. And, like I said before, it is something that I want to continue, though not as frequently. Besides, who wants to hear from me every single day? I’ve cut back my postings on Facebook (sometimes it still seems like I’m on there more than I should be)—I get so little done when I try to keep track of everything on that social media site. That and my blogging once a week is probably all (probably more than) I should be doing (giggle—and I won’t mention all the other stuff that ends up getting put off because of it…)

Recently I attended a photo exhibition at Open Ground Studios (of course—wink), celebrating the sunrises from many locations over the course of a week from January, 2014. Many of the pictures were stunning. All captured a moment in time as the new day dawned. I liked the concept. Short time period, making it more doable than the 365-day challenge—which I failed at miserably after about two weeks: take a picture (any picture) daily and post it at a specific web address—I decided to post on my own photo website. Like I said. I failed. So, this sounded much better.

The new sunrise challenge began on 6 October and ran through 11 October. I managed to be up for the first sunrise, failed the second day, but was determined to make it for the remainder—made it, but the sunrises were somewhat boring (ordinary)…apparently I needed to be up almost an hour before sunrise to catch anything memorable. I just couldn’t manage—lazy me!

Then, I had a idea: combine two things I love. My photography and my blessings. I figured I would combine my sunrise photography with my gratitudes (blessings). I don’t mean to step on Leland’s toes…he did originate the idea using the views from around his home and the mountains at all times of the day, but I’m putting my own personal twist on it. I decided to expand the Sunrise Challenge idea a wee bit to include sunsets—and wait till I had some awesome sunrises and sunsets. I’ll be accumulating them and posting here and on my Flickr page sometime in the near future. No book for me—that’s Leland’s arena…just the photos and blessings.

But for now, I’m focusing on my two books…the one I’m supposed to be editing in preparation for a December release (may have to push that to January, 2015) and book four. It is now November and I’m up to my eyeballs in NaNoWriMo fun: 30 days of writers’ abandon…trying to accumulate 50,000 words to create a novel…

This year, they are allowing writers to participate with works in progress (WIP). I am 20,000 words into it. Officially, I only need 30,000 more words but would like to add 50,000 more. Hmm..we’ll see if I managed it—on December 1st.

Until next week (hopefully on schedule this time!), check out the links and have a blessed week.

I’m Struggling Here

THIS IS HILARIOUS. I WONDERED WHEN I’D RUN out of ideas to post each week. I think this is the week—it’s already Wednesday and I’m stuck. It’s not even October yet. And November is going to be horrible…(read: busy with NaNoWriMo). I’ve started three different posts and I’ve deleted each one. Arg. I’m actually hoping, as I ramble on here that something will come to mind.

Struggling. Okay. Now it’s Thursday and my deadline looms (at least I haven’t deleted this one yet).

My life is so full, yet I am struggling. There are so many things I could draw from to write about, yet I find it hard to get things ‘on paper’ at the moment. Yes, there’s plenty to write about, but I don’t want to bore you—too often, and I seem to be a wee bit restless—not wanting to sit still long enough to get things written. My mind is going is so many directions right now.

I am excited about all that’s going on in my life. And loving the chaoticness (is that even a word?) of it. Both my writerly and painterly side will be busy in the coming days and months (forget about the basic daily things that should be done…) with my third book’s final two-rounds of editing then publishing, book four begging to be completed, a book signing (October 25th at Open Ground Studios—I should be working harder to line more up of these), NaNoWriMo looming in the near future (Nov 1-30) and a number of fun workshops at Open Ground Studios just waiting for my participation (squeee!).

Okay…I think I’m on a roll, don’t you?

Open Ground Studios is so amazing, and as it passed it’s first birthday this summer, it continued to grow and change—for the better. Membership packages have been revamped, as have the costs of classes and workshops, all making joining and ‘playing’ a more enjoyable experience. Working in this environment, whether (for me) simply to write or to finally let my painterly side free, is wonderful. Peaceful. Friendly. Can’t say enough about this place. Really. Check it out for what’s coming up (see link above).

I, for one, will be attending the Medieval Book Binding workshop with Nicolas Yeager (November 8th)—I’m really excited! I love the first book that I made in the workshop…so much so that I’m having a hard time ‘breaking-in’ the interior—it’s so beautiful, I don’t want to spoil it! I know—the wrong frame of mine. USE IT!

Then, there’s the exposure unit (for photopolymer printing) that has been patiently waiting…waiting to be calibrated so it can be used. I am thrilled that someone (Bob Rocco) is finally coming in—very soon—to do just that. Then he will have a class for those of us interested in using it. I can hardly wait. I’m on the list, waiting for a time (date is known—October 14th—well, it is changeable, depending on availability for those interested)—I’ll make the day work, no matter which one is chosen.

Okay…I’ve said enough. Please enjoy your—and the gloriously beautiful weekend that is nearly upon us. May your days ahead be blessed and joyful.

 

 

Something Scary…

JUST THOUGHT I’D LET YOU KNOW — I just did something very scary today…I sent my manuscript in, with a stamp of approval to move forward to the next step.  You would not believe how long I hesitated before pressing the send key.  Once I did it, I knew there would be no turning back. No more chances to make anymore changes.  It’s so easy to keep editing, but to finally say it is what I want — well, that’s just plain scary.  I am now out of editing and heading into the formatting and layout stage.

Hopefully this will be short and sweet.  I have been looking at some of their templates and, with the counsel of a dear friend, I thankfully know pretty much what I want. You’d be surprised at what is involved in this stage.  It is where I chose the font style and size, how far down the page each chapter begins, whether the first line is indented…whether that first letter is normal sized or larger…fancy or plain…(the list goes on…and on).  And, this is where I find out exactly how many pages my actual book will contain.  Up until now, we’ve been bouncing back and forth with the edits in a printed format of about 7″ wide by about 10″ long (if I recall correctly).  The outside of the actual book will be 6×9″, so the printed page will be much smaller.  I am hoping for about 110 or so pages…I want it to be a relatively fast read.  The other books in the series will be a bit longer.  I’ll just have to wait and see, though…

Patience…hard to come by right now.

While I wait to I hear from them, I am going to let the writerly side rest.  Tomorrow I let the painterly side out to play.  I have an exhibition coming up at Open Ground Studios (30 October — no pressure there, right?) and want to get my hands into some ink and create something new.  This will relieve some of the stress that’s been building up and allow my mind to wander whilst I wait.

I’m happy.

Done…

…WELL, ALMOST DONE.  I have edited my story, attempting to create two books out of the 66,000+ word manuscript.  It is in now the process of a professional edit at the publishers — after I bravely handed it over to my four Beta Readers to see if I’d chosen well.  My Beta Readers agreed — definitely more than one book…one specifically saying three books, and he wants to see more!  While it was in the hands of my Beta Readers, I actually came to the same conclusion.  Like minds…

I have read, re-read and still, I find this story fun, engaging, with surprises around many corners and I want more!  And more is piled up in my brain, ready to spill out onto the keyboard when I am ready to sit back down and get serious again.  But, right now, I am anxiously awaiting the return of my manuscript, which I am sure will be rife with corrections…corrections that will need rectifying very quickly if I wish to keep my October, 2013 release time frame.

In the meantime, I have been on holiday, enjoying myself…not thinking (well, not too much at least) about writing.  I have my cover art well in hand…in good hands of a wonderful artist, Michele Littlejohn-Luccketta of The Potters Hand.  Tomorrow, she will reveal her handiwork to me and I am excited to see it!  She will also take my picture for the author’s photo on the cover.  I want to keep my book and all that goes in to it as local as possible…except the publishing part.

I have yet to create much of anything artistically at the Open Ground Studios, except for the mini-workshops that are open to the public.  I’ve made origami creations, Japanese sumi-wash painting, had fun at a social night or two, gone to several exhibition openings for fellow artists and this weekend, I will participate in a workshop led by Frank Trueba, to learn how to make/create Japanese wood-cut prints and enjoy his exhibition opening.  Just so you know, most — if not all of this — is available to the public, so if you are interested, come check it out (click on the link above to find out more).

My holiday seems to be drawing to a close, as my brain is beginning to fill to overflowing with ideas for the new books in this series.  This makes me happy — yet I am clinging to this lovely feeling of holiday-time…the leisureliness of it, not wanting to get back to the grind of frantically putting to paper all the thoughts piling up in my head. But if I don’t begin to ‘release’ some of these thoughts, I feel my head may explode…

To make matters worse, my brain has the notion of taking all of my personalized stories and those stories told in the classroom over the years and weaving them into an anthology…well, perhaps an anthology series, since there are quite a few stories to be had.

But, for now, whilst keeping myself busy having fun — cramming in as much leisure time as possible — I anxiously await 7August13.  That is the promised date on which I will receive (perhaps before) my edited manuscript for correcting. It seems so far off — yet so very near!  Exciting.

The countdown has begun.

 

One Down, One To Go…

LOOKING BACK, I HAVE TO LAUGH AT MY POST from Facebook, added when I returned home after my first-ever art exhibition at the Del Mesa Carmel Gallery.  It is mostly tongue-in-cheek comments.

“Things I learned tonight:
1) Don’t wear heels, you idiot!
2) Don’t bring a snack (and *tray*) requiring a fork lift to carry from the car to event — (especially while in heels!) even if it looks really spiffy & you get a ton of compliments in your presentation.
3) If you’re going to go to the trouble of searching for and bringing business cards…use ’em!!
4) You’re no longer a high school wallflower — get off the wall and mingle.
5) Eat before coming, even if you know food will be present … you seldom eat much at these kinds of things and the wine hits you…right?!
6) Don’t be embarrassed to excuse your self to find a chair — any chair — to sit in if needed.
7) Don’t wear a ring on your right hand…you’ll regret it after shaking hands all evening.
Lol…
Tonight was a definite learning experience. Met some interesting people. Saw some awesome artwork by fellow artists. Glad it was relatively low key for the first event. I’ll definitely know better for next week…”

That really says it all, but I’d like to emphasize the fun I had, despite the aching feet.  Mingling with such wonderful artists was a delight.  Seeing people spend time in front of my art was encouraging, too.

I didn’t have much time to revel in the afterglow of the evening, since the next day I dropped right into working on the next one, which, by the way, happens this weekend — beginning Friday.

This one is special.  Very special.  It’s not just a show-up-and-look-nice event. I am fully vested in this venture.  It is the venue I will use to create, available to me 24/7, whenever my painterly side kicks in and to chill in while editing my upcoming novel.   More than a handful of us have been working to make this an awesome place to work.  Painting, building, tidying; creating a garden area (my niche) from a weedy patch to one filled with colour…the building has become a beautiful place to inspire creations.  A home away from home, filled with amazing works of art — both 2-D and book art, some textiles and miscellaneous other things — makes this place a wonderful spot to call home, where I can play.

For those of you that are locals, please feel free to pop in on Saturday, 25 May, anytime between noon and 6pm to meet and greet the artists, see live demonstrations, and graze on nibbles available for all attendees.  Come to Open Ground Studios for their Grand Opening at 1230 Fremont Blvd, Seaside CA — the old home of Alternative Café.

Art Exhibition

THEY SAY IT’S ALL IN THE DETAILS…how true.  As I plan for this first exhibition of my artwork, I am humbled, overwhelmed, excited…

There is so much to do — and yet, I’m managing to blog?  There is a method to my madness.  I’m not trying to parade my art in front of everyone as much as I’m trying to sell the opening of a wonderful facility, available to our community.  Yes, I’m proud of my work–and getting prouder by the minute.  I’m amazed that fellow artists are liking it.  Artists that, someday, I want to be like — when I grow up…

These creative, more experienced artists are making me look at my artwork through the eyes of other people, rather than through the critical beginner’s-eye of their creator (me).  Denese, the founder of Open Ground Studios, has a saying — well actually, it’s the tagline for the business, that goes something like this:  “…where everyone makes an impression” and it is so true.  No matter your skill level, that you are able to create, makes an impression and it’s the beginning of a long journey of self-improvement.

Open Ground Studios is a gallery; it is an art school; it is a place for artists to come and work on their art, whether it is two-dimensional printmaking, watercolor and oil painting, sketching, or book art (taking paper, thread, fabric and literally weaving it into something to hold), writing (word weaving), and textiles.  OGS is a place to create.  To grow.  To stretch your wings and learn a new craft or hone an old one.

Workshops to master new skills or to enliven old ones, presented by knowledgeable artisans from the Monterey Peninsula and beyond are making their way onto the OGS Calendar, even as I write this.  The first of these is a workshop for teens: A Floor Mural Painting Workshop for Teens on 11 May, 2013 at 10am.

The rotating art exhibits, to be held throughout the year for your enjoyment, begins with a bang with the Grand Opening and Exhibition on 25 May, 2013 from noon to 6pm.  The public is invited to come and partake in munchables as they peruse the artwork, speak with the artists, tour the facility and learn skills from live demonstrations.  The ‘soft’ opening for the exhibition will actually begin on 20 May and run through 20 June, 2013.

I am proud to be connected with Open Ground Studios — though a fledgling business, with it’s spirit of community, it is destined to be a permanent fixture on the Monterey Peninsula.

I’ll be at Open Ground Studios’ Grand Opening on Saturday, 25 May, will you?