Killing Time and Art

IT’S BEEN “ONE OF THOSE MONTHS” (and then some) … as I waited for technicians to show up, I keep trying to get into Facebook to post a Friday blog. I made the mistake of starting an update for Facebook on Thursday. Unfortunately, without WiFi, it apparently hung up and I’m not able to get out of the update process on my iPhone (believe me—I tried everything I could think of … pout).

Anyway, whilst I waited (they weren’t due till a 3-4pm window) … I found things to keep me occupied (not things on my “To Do” list, of course <giggle> but things that bring me joy). I’ve a ton of photos on my iPhone, so I decided to go into it and play with one of my apps.

It really is amazing what the different types of watercolour applications do to a photo. The app I usually end uo using is called Waterlogue—I’ve talked about it before. There are quite a few different styles to chose from: Vibrant, Natural, Bold, Luminous; “It’s Technical” and “Streamlined” (basically “It’s Technical” without the graphed background); Travelogue, Rainy; Illustration, Soaked, Shallow; Color Bloom, Fashionable and Blotted. I find that, depending on the photo, not every technique “works” the same. Some I love, some do absolutely nothing for the image and others … well, there’s always the middle of the road, eh? Here are examples of each with one shot of a succulent—you be the judge. Which do you like:

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

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

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

I’m glad I’m slowly getting my creative juices flowing again <insert warm fuzzy feelings>. In my playing around, I managed to accumulate nearly 200 altered images—images I will eventually download onto my desktop (it has a ginormous screen so I can easily see things in great detail—but even that one is having problems … I am feeling so technologically handicapped—so, so much, that it is starting to wear me down). Each will be scrutinised to determine whether they will end up as note cards, framed photos, photopolymer prints or tossed in the art bin. Sigh—I know, I know. I still have all of my travel photos to go through. I am working on them, but need to

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

settle several communication issues between my laptops and the printer at Open Ground Studios—and now I’m wondering if there might be a virus that I’ve spread to ALL of my computers.

Sigh. I may try to snag my daughter or son-in-law to help undo something I must have done … or get them to a computer doctor!

At least, in the meantime, I’ve figured out a way—for now, at least—to work around the glitchy problems. But … my friends, if you do not hear from me on a Friday via a blog entry, it may be because I’ve registered myself a room with padded walls <insert severe eye roll> … seriously!

Oh, my—can’t forget that I’ve got a three-day event this weekend, starting later today:

 

Watsonville Elks Lodge’s Holiday Craft Show
121 Martinelli Street, Watsonville
Friday-Sunday 9-11 Nov
Fri:    1-6pm
Sat:  10am-6pm
Sun  10am-3pm

I will be among many vendors at the Elks Lodge for this three-day event. I will have my fantasy series (Secrets Beyond Scymaria) available for purchase along with my bin and framed art and a variety of holiday and general blank note cards. Mystery author, Joyce Oroz will be available on Sunday only with her Josephine Stuart Mysteries series, including her just-released addition.
Please do drop by and check the vendors—and don’t forget the authors!

There will be only two more book signings/art events after this one—one before Thanksgiving and one after.

Sat/Sun, 17-18 November
9am-5pm both days
AHA Holiday Fair in Aromas
400 Rose Avenue

Thurs/Fri, 29-30 November
9am-5pm both days
Watsonville Community Hospital’s Holiday Craft Fair
75 Neilson Street

Hope you enjoyed my little artsy show-an’-tell. My days are blurring into night and I find myself waking in the wee hours with my mind going full-tilt with neat ideas—for plots and storylines, for art work … and even for yard designs. I do believe my “mojo” is back! Now … if I can figure out how to juggle everything. Mmm-hmmm. <insert huge grin …>

Have a blessed Friday and weekend—only two weeks to Thanksgiving Day. I’m getting excited. How about you?

 

2018 UK and Ireland Adventure: Home At Last

Dublin's Ha'penny BridgeAS ONE OF MY READERS has remarked, “this has been quite the adventure”. Yes, it has been very different from my previous trips. Not what I had envisioned, but I can easily say it was fun, adventuresome, a learning experience, I saw things I’d not seen before and I was able to share my experiences with a friend—at least two voiced desires (from previous adventures) finally met!

I’m going to apologise now for this final, super-long blog (I could break it into two or three to make it more manageable, but nope—sorry). I’m trying to get all the left-out bits pulled together to create this one last travel-Image of cloudy, blustery skies on the way to Dublinblog entry. Also, you’ll see photos scattered throughout this blog. Make sure to click on them to see the full size—and more importantly—more information about the photo. They will not necessarily be in the order seen on the trip.

Being home. Aaah. What can I say? Standard response is “it feels so good to be in my own bed”—definitely. But almost I want to travel posterimmediately, I’m wishing that I could go back. Travel more. Wander and ponder more. See more things—crazy, I know, since I have been away for nearly three months. I am glad to be home; back to my sweet little kitteh, who did not shun me one bit this time—he was purring and rooting the moment I stepped foot in the house (and yowling loudly till I could get the door opened to step inside)! What a lovely greeting (he’s usually pouting and ignoring me for a good half-hour—I like this new response).

I’ve already had a few of the usual questions pop up: Sunrise from our hostel room in DublinWhat did you like most and least? Which was your favourite place? What would you Hanging Flower Potsdo differently? I’ll answer those and more, plus add a few observations since arriving stateside.

What I liked most has always been a hard one—there are always so many amazing things—so I choose to give four Image of River Liffey from a Bridgeanswers: one per “country” (yes, yes. I know—I only visited two countries, but since Wales and Scotland each have their own governmental structure and a distinct and very strong sense of ownership to go with it, I will break my answers down to the four regions we visited.)

Ireland: For this trip, I’m still National Leprechaun Museumenthralled with Dublin’s energy. I’m usually not a fan of the busyness of cities (and Dublin had its fair share of busy, noisy stuff. Though I was unable to keep my usual pace, there were Cannonball into harbourtimes, just walking through the the various areas of the city (especially Temple Bar and Trinity College areas) gave my spirits a lift. As a close second, I loved the Donegal area. We did not really get down into Donegal, but instead, were up in the countryside overlooking it. Secluded, tranquil, beautiful vistas everywhere. I was still seriously nursing my ankle injury (in addition to a wound acquired fighting with the step to the shower area <giggle> at the B&B we were at), so the tranquility was nice. Next time around, I do want to spend more time on the west coast—around Connemara and the wild countryside along the southwest coast.

Wales: ooh, what isn’t lovely image of tomatoes, cucumbersabout Wales?? Sandy would say, “getting stepped on by a horse …” Yes, that bit was far from lovely, and this created two gimpy gals trying to have fun. Sigh. Back Rooster Weather Vaneto the question at hand—Snowdonia National Park will always have a place in my heart, but it now must share space with Brecon Beacon National Park—both are shining gems in Wales. Definitely worth the Crystal Ball Shot of Garden and Treestime to explore the hills, mountains, lakes, rivers and valleys. I’ve only seen a wee bit of Shaggy Sheep Seeking Shadeboth Snowdonia and Brecon Beacon. One of these days I’d like to explore each more. As for towns … Llanberis and Betws Y Coed. Llanberis because … well, it’s just a cool little town and I love to say the name (it’s not Lan-beris, Beautiful Window at Tintern Abbeyit’s … um, Ll is a lispy L sound—tongue at the front, allowing air out the sides. Kinda—here’s a link for the pronunciation <grin>).

England and N. Ireland: I know I keep talking about the countryside in all of these Image of two shadowsareas, but well … yeah. Can’t be helped. For this trip, hands down the Yorkshire View of Tintern AbbeyDales—the amazing beauty and tranquility I find in this heartland of the Yorkshire countryside gives me such peace. If it’s a town you’re looking for me to recommend, the only one that comes to mind is Hay-on-Wye. It’s really the only one where we did much exploring. If you’re a bibliophile, I think there are more book stores per block in this town than any other I’ve seen … and there’s an annual book festival. Walkways alongside the river were quite amazing also!

Model of the TitanicScotland: as much as I’d like to say Edinburgh’s diverse character and all the amazing sights to be seen, I must say—this time—that Isle of Skye captured my heart and I yearn to return to take in its beauty. The towns are small and fun to roam around in—its easy to poke around each one in an hour or so … it’s the traveling from one to the next that takes the time (but, time well spent). We pretty much stuck to the coastal route—except for one time (when we finally saw some highland cows—squeeee!), but the single track roads are not everyone’s cup of tea. I have no problem with them (didn’t get to experience them Stage for Riverdance in Dublinon Skye, but did take lessons learned from Marc’s and our guide’s driving and put it to good use on the second half of our trip). The only down-side to Skye is that “the powers that be” cannot keep up with the needs of the huge influx of tourists—most of the Concessions the Old-Fashioned Way at the Gaiety Theatretourist sites (ie: Fairy Pool, Man of Storr, etc) do not have toilets or any kind of concessions, which leaves one to use the great outdoors if you “can’t hold it” … which is not the Riverdance dancers at the Gaiety Theatrebest for the environment (or privacy). Not a deal-breaker for me.

Having rented a car, we registered a “few” miles—not counting the Isle of Skye segment—as I was not the driver for that portion. Skye was a nice respite, but by the end of the week, I was eager to get back behind the wheel <grin> and continue exploring. Below, you’ll find the google maps of the highlights of our trip, including the mileage. Wow.

Map: Leg One Ireland May-July 2018
Map: Leg Two 2018 Trip Wales, Yorkshire, Scotland
Map: Leg Three-Inverness to Isle of Skye and Back June 2018
Leg Four-Inverness, UK to Holyhead, UK 2018
Leg Five-Holyhead to Dublin with day trips 2018

Embellished Cover, Dublin Ireland Earth-Rod Manhole Cover, Dublin IrelandNow for what I don’t really like to discuss because others may find they have had or will have a completely different experience. So, take this with a grain of salt (but be forewarned) if this is where you want to travel. The least favourite place we visited—hands-down—was Bath, England. I was disappointed in the hospitality industry, the hostel we were in (could not change our reservations—no cancellations allowed—otherwise we would have left after Fancy Wrought Iron Railingthe first night), and I was unimpressed with the sameness of the architecture. Admittedly, my ankle definitely held me back, so many of the things to see were out of my reach and the heat was stifling during our stay. Had we stayed in Bristol (now that is a town to put on your places-to-see itinerary—very cool place) and made a day trip to Bath, that might have been Trinity College Old Librarybetter. Mostly, it was the attitudes and trustworthiness of the hospitality industry that left a bad taste in my mouth (from the Bath Tourism office to the supposedly knowledgeable staff at points of interest—Jane Austen Tea House, Hop-on Hop-off bus’ recorded tour, and we even had issues at our hostel). I’ve never had such a bad experience on such a large scale before.

Jameson Whisky Barrel Table in Temple Bar, Dublin Brass Flower Sculpture in Temple Bar, DublinAfter returning home, I was reminded of how polite the drivers are in Ireland and the UK—compared to the egotistical, self-centered drivers (I know—they’re not all like that) I’ve encountered in my short time back home. It’s truly amazing how much faster one can get through a bottle neck (lose a lane and need to merge together) across the Pond as compared to the “you’re not getting in front of me” attitude of many California drivers when confronted with the same situation. One can only take a deep breath and shake the head … otherwise go bonkers.

I have learned quite a few things along the way.

Friends always ask me how much to plan on spending for a trip abroad. I can never give them a figure—not even a guesstimate—so, I need to keep better financial records. I mean, I have the receipts … but I never do anything with them—baaad me! Especially when sharing expenses with a friend <insert eyeroll>. Also, I need to keep record of the places I visit—my little booklets I created ended up not being used (by either of us) past the first week or so … I didn’t take the time to take notes, so places are (as usual) blurring together. I am surprised that I’m remembering things better, but there really was a lot to remember, so there are gaps—big gaps. Photos will help, but the photos need notes, too. “What’s this one from …?” is my most frequently asked question to myself. And usually, there’s no answer. Sigh.

Another lesson: As the “planner” and “guide” I felt like I was responsible for everything. Sandy and I had a talk about this and she tried to make it clear that I was not responsible … but I kept feeling that way—my issue, not hers. So, if and when I do have a friend with Sphere Within A Sphere, Trinity College Dublinme, I need to plan “me” time in the schedule … actually, for both of us, which would alleviate the pressure I was feeling. I did it a little, but not near enough. I also need to find out the expectations of my friend before traveling—I was not fully aware of the fact that Sandy liked to use a “base camp” and go out from there to see things for at least a week, whereas I like to “touch base” with an area and move on after a couple days … with an occasional “hunker-down and explore for a bit”—but definitely on a more organic/spontaneous level. Yup … I need to work on this. And I need to make sure my travel companions know I prefer spontaneity to planning things out in advance. In a way, I felt trapped having the trip so “well-planned” (sniggle—Sandy probably would not call it “well planned”, but that’s okay too).

Most importantly, I loved having a friend with me so I could share my experiences, but in future I will limit the time to one or two weeks (or some percentage of my trip)—not the whole The Quay's Bar, Dublin Irelandtrip. Not because we ended up hating each other. Nope—far from it. We learned a lot about each other. And that’s kinda cool. It’s just that ten weeks was way too much “together-time” <grin>. Sandy agrees. When (not if, but when) we travel again, it will be for a much shorter time. I will either go earlier to explore and meet her on a designated day or stay afterwards to travel on my own.

In closing, I can now say that, whilst abroad, I’ve traveled alone, with friends and with family; I’ve traveled by car, train, boat (well … kinda—I will do it for real next time!), bus and plane. I’ve done tours (very small and way too large), done day tours and planned things on my own. I’ve stayed in B&Bs hostels, hotels and friends’ homes. I’ve travel to various Aged Manhole Cover, Dublin Irelandcountries on the Continent and extensively (yet not) in Ireland and the UK. Each and every time, I find myself wanting to go back and see more. I wonder how long I’ll be able to keep this up, because there will always be so much more to see <insert grin>.

So finally, I say cheers, my friends. I bid you adieu for another week.  Have a blessed Friday, week-end and beyond. I will go back to my routine of keeping you updated about my goofy Painterly and Writerly sides—there are a few events coming up and much to do to get my books republished … toodles!

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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!

Thanksgiving …

(Written on 19Nov17)

I AWOKE SO EARLY THIS MORNING—so much earlier than necessary, that I realised I’d be able to catch the sunrise for the first time in such a very long time. I grabbed my robe and slippers, trod downstairs and started to brew my tea. I watched the pre-dawn light—first light—create beautifully contrasting dark and light grey shadows just outside my kitchen window. The few clouds hanging about looked like grey wisps against a lighter grey sky.
That made me smile—sunrises and sunsets are pretty, but clouds make for a more vibrant, colourful display.

As I waited, I sipped on my tea, contemplating this chilly morning hour. Why on Earth was I even awake? I didn’t have to be at the Aromas Grange until about 9:45–which means leaving about a half-hour before. Plenty of time to do everything needed with a normal 7:30-8am rise. So, why so early? There were some very logical reasons—among others: every day I’m feeling healthier, getting more restful sleep than I’ve had in ages—both give me more energy … but I don’t think that’s the entire picture.

I try (that is a key word …) to revolve my life around God—a God-centric, purposeful life. Trying to listen to what He wants me to do, how He wants me to act, what He wants me to say … keeping my mind open to His leading whilst going about my daily life. Sometimes I fail miserably … other times, I succeed. The way I try to interact and treat others is one of the successes. I think my fantasy series is another one of these successes. So is my photography. The majority of my images are of nature—plants, animals and landscapes. This is where I shine—because He leads me to the situations resulting in lovely shots.

But, just because it looks like I’ve got the camera in my face all the time does not mean the beauty that surrounds me escapes me. My mind, my heart—it takes it all in and I do a little dance of thanksgiving. It seems I am always doing this dance. What I see fills me with joy. Sometimes, the camera takes a nice shot but my heart says what I’m seeing is too beautiful to capture in a two dimensional image. So, I simply bring the camera to rest and breathe in the scene, enjoying it for what it is—a gift to behold, to wrap myself up in. And I thank Him for the delights He brings to me every day.

So this mornings early rise was one of His gifts—a sunrise I haven’t seen in so many years … all of the beautiful blushed pinks, reds and orange-yellows popping behind the dark oak tree silhouettes.

With all of the hustle and bustle in my life lately, my heart and mind needed to see something quietly inspiring. He always knows exactly what gift to give, just like so many other times before—wonderful one-on-one conversations with dear friends, seeing someone I haven’t seen in ages and having time to reminisce, does and bucks grazing in the yard, frisky little fawns frolicking, my mocking bird with new songs to share with me, an owl carrying a conversation with another in a nearby tree … magnificently delicate blooms to contemplate … and this morning, me being wonderfully present (both physically and mentally) when the beautiful, vibrant sunrise unfolded before me.

Thank you Lord for the splendiferous abundance of beauty you provide in my life—friends, experiences … it’s all in His timing, not mind.

May He bless you and your loved ones abundantly today, on Thanksgiving Day, and beyond.

 

At It Again … Book Signings and Art

I’M OF THE OPINION THAT MANY EVENT planners conspire against us humble vendors. Back-to-back weekends with a few events on Thursday and Friday, just prior to one of the weekend events can certainly be daunting.

Joyce and I have survived two years of that (or has it been more?), Joyce Oroz and dj jameson smithworking together in the fall/winter with all of the holiday events (Halloween, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas—am I forgetting any?). As we drag our way through the last few events of the year, we keep saying (every year) that we need to spread out our events more evenly throughout the year (adding to what we have), so that we can pick and choose which ones we do in the latter part of the year.

Teehee … Joyce managed to find a couple events for the new year already, so we’re already at it again. We finished our first event on 6May (a Saturday)—new to us … and absolutely great for a mystery writer, but apparently not so much for a fantasy writer. The winery seemed like such a great venue to catch people as they came out of their wine tasting and as the headed into the craft/vendor area. Guglielmo Winery Book SigningWe were placed in what should have been a prime location, but we found people skirting around us, not wanting to connect. Those that did connect bought Joyce’s mystery books, but not mine—I chatted with a quite a few people and did sell a few, so it wasn’t a complete loss. Some would listen to our spiel and say they’d think about it … and if they had money left over, they’d stop back and buy—but didn’t. Guess they spent their money elsewhere in the vendor’s fair.

The “background” music did not help. It truly was difficult to carry on conversations with those that did stop, whether their stopping was out of curiosity or an honest desire to purchase. It didn’t help that both Joyce and I no longer have strong voices to talk over the music. And my not having two of my three books on Amazon further damaged my ability to sell. I really need to get those two books republished with Inknbeans Press—soooon!

All of that aside, our next two events were literally back-to-back two-day, then one-day events. First up was the low-key and delightful craft event at Watsonville Watsonville Hospital Book Signing (and Art)Hospital in their conference room, from 10am-4pm on Thursday and Friday, 11-12 May. I had both Painterly and Writerly hats donned for that.

Next (and the finale for the very busy, long weekend) was the Aromas Hills Artisan’s event, Aromas Country Garden Tour on Saturday, 13 May from 10am-4pm. Attendees began at the Aromas Grange to pick up the Garden Tour map, then meander to the homes to admire the rich variety of gardens … and find AHA members displaying their Aromas Country Garden Tour/Book Signingwares—Joyce Oroz and I scored a prime setting to display and hawk our books. An amazing 2.5acre garden. We Scored A Fantastic GardenWe relished every sale, but knew people were there for the gardens, so it was more to get the word out … a PR day, so to speak—and to thoroughly enjoy the glorious day, as well.

We’ve had a quiet spell for a wee bit—time to spend with family on Mother’s Day before I begin chatting with a few business managers these next couple weeks to see if they’d be open to having two authors cluttering up their space for a few hours. We’re going to chat with the proprietor of Jardines de San Juan in San Juan Bautista—after we have a lovely lunch—to see if we can do a Restaurant Garden Delights Beautiful Garden at Jardines Jardines de San Juan's gardensigning in their beautiful garden … and check on a few other businesses in the town, also—especially since one of Joyce’s mysteries is set in San Juan Bautista. Slowly but surely, we will have events scattered throughout the year. And hopefully we’ll be able to keep them on the schedule for years to come.

In the meantime, I certainly hope those mothers, mothers-to-be—and those with a seed of an idea to become a motherHappy Mothers Day—amongst my readers had a memorable Mother’s Day. Though belated, Happy Mother’s Day to all of you!

I’ve been hunkered down working on the edit for the book that started the whole thing … Secrets Beyond Scymaria. Editing ... ... And More EditingThere may be a few changes, but it will not change the direction of the story. I can hardly wait to get it back into print. But please know that you can get both paperback and hardbound copies of the original printing via my SquareMarket store and I’ve decided to extended the sale for all three—if purchased as a trio, whether two hardbound and one paperback or all three paperback.

So, my dear readers … may this Friday and the week to come be one filled with delight, surprise and cheer …

 

 

Spring … A Time of New Beginnings

AAAH. SPRING IS HERE AND, ooooh, I’m loving it! Flowers are in bloom, trees are leafing out–brand spankin’ new green growth. And there’s pollen everywhere. Yellow stuff from the pines and oaks

Pollen Abounds

My poor cars … this is my *red* truck’s tonneau, but the whole thing is covered in pollen.

cover my car, the driveway and any relatively flat surface.

My allergies … oooh, they just love this time of year (not). They act up 24/7 … 365 days of the year, but spring is a special time. Sneezing, coughing, puffy and itchy eyes dominate—even with my allergy meds. Ugh. But, because it is such a beautiful time of renewal, I ignore my symptoms as much as possible, throw aside all caution (well … mostly) and revel in the celebration of fresh, vibrant colours and new life that abounds.

Then, there’s the new “batch” of babies–birds,Curious Fawn fawns, chicks … I cannot believe how blessed I am to see all of these things–or have friends that share their precious finds. I live in such an amazing place where I can see ocean, meadows, rolling hills and mountains–all within an hours drive. I can enjoy old and new facades sharing space together–there are three or more California missions within that hours drive plus many historic Birds and Wavesbuildings on the Monterey Peninsula; lakes, rivers and streams that haven’t run much in the last five years because of our drought are now refreshed with the heavy rains and a delight to look at, walk or swim in or boat upon. Lake El Estero, which borders on Dennis the Menace Park Spring Flowers Caterpiller on Lilac(once was a very cool park … until they started—one by one—removing the coolest of the structures for safety’s sake. And the statue of Dennis was stolen!), has paddle boats that I might have to try out–haven’t been on one since my husband, young daughter and I had adventures … so long ago. This Monterey County area holds so many memories … it really is wonderful–my little paradise.

Time for the new beginnings. Just as the first of the year is the traditional time to make “promises of change” (aka: New Year resolutions), I find spring a wonderful time to begin anew in my artistic pursuits–photography (with all that entails), Paper-folding Art Calligraphy Practice Calligraphyart in its many forms—including classes and workshops at Open Ground Studios, gardening (creative ideas to make my yard fun) and writing–since my energy levels are naturally higher Writing ... Editing ...(sniggle … along with my allergies–sigh). My mind is beginning to reel with ideas which gets me excited now, if I can keep the energy high for a while, whilst I wait to I get my body back in shape. Write … right? … and edit!

May this day … this week, and this glorious month have delightful, blessed surprises for you around each corner. Cheers!

 

 

 


 

2016 … The End Is Nigh

IT’S THAT TIME AGAIN … THE SAND FOR 2016 has almost run out. I’ve only a few more blogs to do before the closing of the year. I’m surprised I’ve managed to produce one weekly (well, almost). These last few months have been crazy. I knew they would be. I almost burned out—but not quite—from five-plus weekends of book signings and a lovely OGS Artist Showcase party (and a few personal and holiday fun things I squeezed in—I just cannot say no to fun with friends and family!) … leaving me with only one more event coming up tomorrow (that’s Dec 10th at Aptos Grange, Aptos CA folks)—and a mere three blogs to conjure after today before 2016 expires.

I’m ready for it—for all of it! I still have my initial edit for book four to finish (then begin the re-writes) and my publisher will be sending me a first “re-edit” (actually, first truly professional edit) of book one for my perusal—gotta get that back asap so we can get it back into publication! And for my event tomorrow, I worked my fingers to the bone all week trying to get the Christmas cards done—I was so excited that I was able to use images taken two nights in a row at the Christmas at the Inns in Pacific Grove. The Bed and Breakfasts and Inns were splendiferously dressed for the occasion. Beautiful. And yummy goodies to nibble on, too. My favourite was the Jaberwock Inn … for obvious reasons. And I had so much fun turning a slew of photos into lovely faux watercolour images. They all turned out very nice (insert huge grin).

I did not reach the 50,000 word goal for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). I was about 20,000 words short, but that’s okay. I’m super excited about where the story is headed. I was going to the NaNo TGIO (thank God it’s over) Party last Sunday, but was too exhausted from a combo of some personal fun and work-related stuff on Friday and Saturday. Sunday turned into a day of rest. I had printed up an excerpt to read—re-reading it was fun … oh, yeah! So sad I didn’t get to share it. Maybe I will later … maybe. Book five is going to be suspenseful. Definitely.

Tomorrow, Joyce Oroz and I will be in Aptos at the Grange—along with quite a few other vendors—hawking our wares: Josephine Stuart Mysteries series (I think she has eight) for Joyce and my Secrets Beyond Scymaria series (books one-three). I think we’re the only ones with books, but I will also have my art. I was told “no photos—we’ve already got three photographers”. I was given permission to sell art and my photopolymer prints (plus … well, I haven’t talked to the contact about my Christmas cards … but I’m sure they’ll be fine because they are “watercolour” vs straight-up photos).

Don’t freak out but … do you realise there’s only sixteen days till Christmas (eeeek!) and fifteen days till the beginning of Hanukkah? Sniggle … on that note—before I close, I want to wish you a blessed Friday and week ahead. Try to stay focused on the reason for the season rather than the craziness all around you.

It’s All About Books

NO … NOT MINE. THOUGH I’D CERTAINLY LOVE to push them, I know doing so too often turns people off. Did you know that Sunday (9 August) was National Book Lovers Day? I missed it. Drats.

So, to make up for that loss, I thought it would be a good thing to share a few indie authors and their “babies” (in no particular order). I’ve read some of their books, though not all—and most are on my To Read list. Some of these authors are “co-conspirators” at Inknbeans Press—my new writing family—and some are completely independent in their endeavors. All of these authors are worth reading. (please let me know if there are problems with any of these links—I’ve checked them all, but one never knows …)

Leland Dirks and his cohort, Angelo: Leland is an amazingly prolific writer and fantastic photographer. He lives in the mountains of Colorado (I’m so envious) with his three dogs (one of which happens to be Angel), finding inspiration all around him as he writes his amazing pieces and captures some beautiful photographic gems. He is truly an independent writer, publishing on his own, using CreateSpace as his publishing medium and Amazon as his store. Jimmy Mender and His Miracle Dog, Angelo’s Journey, Seven Dogs in Heaven, The Cat Who Thought He Was A Border Collie, Strange Savior—there are more stories, plus two wonderful photo-heavy books: Valley of Light and 100 Days of Gratitude. Please find his books on his Amazon Author’s page.

Joyce Oroz: Joyce is a local writer with a flair for mystery. As her stories are centered around this area (Monterey, Santa Cruz, Aromas and places not all that far afield), she steeps her mysteries with local bits and pieces, which makes it all the more fun for us locals. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed her Josephine Stuart Mystery series and am still reading, trying to keep up with the next adventure. Publishing through Cozy Cat Press, she is still considered an indie writer. Secure the Ranch, Read My Lipstick , Shaking In Her Flip Flops and Cuckoo Clock Caper are the books available so far. Please find information about her books at http://cozycatpress.com/joyce-oroz and some of her books (go about half way down the page) at http://cozycatpress.com/cozies/ You can also go to her Amazon Author’s page to see all of her books in one place.

Robin Owens: Robin grew up as a military brat and is married to a military “lifer” with children of her own, so she knows about the military life from nearly all aspects. She currently lives on the East Coast. She has a wonderful collection of books to help today’s military families’ children deal with all that moving and getting acquainted in their new towns, in addition to a number of other children’s books. All of her books are published through Inknbeans Press. Some of them are: The Dabby Project series, The Wand, Three Children and A Blessing and God’s Soldier (these last two are also in Spanish)  You can find all of her books at her Amazon Author page and nestled into the Inknbeans website (link above).

Hugh Ashton: Hugh has a diverse collection of published books, from his excellent Sherlock Holmes books to historical fiction and thrillers. Another InknBeans Press writer, he’s an international bloke, splitting his time between Japan and the UK. I’m partial to his take on Holmes. Very well done and in keeping with Sir Conan Doyle’s writing (I love a good Holmes mystery!!). Some of his books are Sherlock Holmes: The Dispatch Box, The Untime, Leo’s Luck and Beneath Gray Skies.  More information about Hugh and all of his books can be found at http://hughashtonbooks.info/ and his Amazon Author’s page.

Sharon Ledwith: Sharon has a flair for fantasy—and I loved her two books! Her publisher is now Mirror World Publishing. I’m anxiously awaiting the release of her third book. Sharon lives in Canada … and some day I will be knocking on her door for a visit—and perhaps we will do a book signing together. The Last Timekeepers Time Travel series: Legend of the Timekeepers and The Last Timekeepers and the Arch of Atlantis. You will find more information about these two books and the author at http://www.sharonledwith.com and on her Amazon Author’s page.

Vickie Johnstone: Another great writer/author with a wonder flair for children’s books. A true indie author, she and I have traipsed through her downtown London—she’s a delightful person, as well as a terrific writer. I’ve read at least one of her books, with more on my To Read list. Great fun … even for an adult! Her Kiwi Series is about a cat. Not an ordinary cat, mind you. There is magic involved, of course! This lady is definitely multi-faceted: you’ll find poetry and other story lines—some children’s, some more for YA and older (I have not read any of these as yet, though I have seen snippets … I’ve only read one Kiwi book so far). You can find information about her, her books and poetry at http://kiwiincatcity.com/ and http://vickiejohnstone.blogspot.co.uk/ and of course at her Amazon Author’s page.

There are so many more writers out there that I want to share with you, but I think this is enough to get started. I’m hoping this will be a monthly or quarterly thing–we’ll see.

I think next round may include writers/authors like Greta Burroughs, Rosanne Dingli, Ey Wade, Dan Mader …

I would really love your feedback. Have you heard of any of these authors? Have you you read any of their books? Do tell, please!

 

 

Distractions …

I SHOULD BE WORKING ON THE FINISHING touches of my next book, but I’ve just discovered a new camera app that has be quite distracted. Camera + is the name and it’s for the iPhone 5 on up. I’ve only just begun playing and am thrilled with it.

Becoming distracted is very easy for me … and gets me into trouble all the time. At least I stay focused whilst in the car, driving down the road … well, my daughter may feel that’s a bit overstated as a fact. That’s only because we get to talking (some wonderfully deep conversations at times)—so 99.9% of the time, I’m on the road in the car all by myself and perfectly safe to be around.

Back to the camera and photography. Or, was it distractions …

Yeah, about that. I’m feeling terribly goofy right now, so maybe I should go get distracted by something else for a bit. Gee … and I haven’t even had any wine

Port Wine and a Distraction

Mulling over quotes for next year’s Dr. Who con ribbons.

(wink)—oooh! There’s a good distraction. I’ll be back—later. There’s some port with my name on it …

Now that I’m a bit more sensible (it’s only Monday), I still find myself being distracted. Deliberately. There’s book four pulling at my thoughts, this blog … and a myriad of chores around the house and yard harping at me, begging to be worked on. So, I chose to flit between several of them to keep me “fresh”. Especially the writing items. I can easily shove off the house and yard work (except, the laundry really does need to get done if I want clothes for tomorrow—giggle). I’m finding it easy to bounce from one writing task to another, keeping me engaged. When my mind struggles for an idea, then I step outside with my iPhone—with it’s newly acquired app and search for a worthy subject. Sometimes

Nasturtium in the Yard

A delightful twist of colour from the normal red-orange. And the new macro app on my iPhone makes up close a delight.

Freshly Emerging Mushroon

I’m loving the macro capabilities of the iPhone app, allowing me to easily capture the gills of the mushroom.

I’m successful, sometimes not. But the process sharpens my mind and I’m ready to write again.

My cat is another distraction. Sebastian can be quite entertaining. He is equal to—or better than any TV show, that’s for sure! Demanding at times, too. When he wants your attention, he will get it, one way or another. I’ve had my back to him when he’s wanted attention. He decided to be my “cat shawl” … jumping on to my shoulders and lounging around as I went around doing what needed to be done—or like this morning: I was trying to “sleep in” (after having let Kaeli out, dishing out her morning meal) when he started making all kinds of racket. Playing with the blinds, tearing from

Sebastian ... Up Close

Though he’s not amused by my attempts to catch him taking a cat-nap on my chest, I love that I’m able to do so with the new macro app.

one high spot to another—quite noisily (he can be the stealthy ninja type when he wants), and kneading something that sounded expensive—which was what finally got me out of bed … very quickly. Turned out to be the lovely ancient handed-down-to-me wool blanket. Glad I caught him. He obviously wanted something. I decided to check on his food dish. Yup. Empty.

So much for lazing about after that. I did manage to muck about most of the morning, not getting much done, other than surf through Facebook posts of friends, reposting the appropriate ones, commenting on others … Facebook in an excellent (if you can label it as such), time-sucking sponge. Facebook does have it’s good points, but I’m presently at a loss to list anything beyond keeping in touch with friends and associates.

Are distractions a nice way to say procrastination? Maybe. Well … most likely. And, of course, I am quite good at procrastination, aren’t I (insert grin)? Is that something I should be proud of? Hmmm. Ooops—probably not … or at least shouldn’t be.

Well, procrastination or distraction, I do it not (grin)—at least not presently (it’s still only Monday). I finished the final edit on book three and will give myself a days rest (Tuesday’s a busy day, anyway), then start with the gathering of promotional blurb/bio, etc on Wednesday to submit to my publisher. Then I’ll come back to this, add more thoughts, then polish it up and add a few photos and have it ready for Friday. I love my life … as crazy as it is.

Wednesday found me almost as busy as Tuesday. I was definitely busy gathering

My Ducks in a Row

Compiling all of the things needed before I submit to my publisher … time consuming!

and honing the blurbs to be submitted, searching for other items in vain, so I did not get everything completed as planned. Distractions abound—and I grabbed every opportunity to indulge, simply so I could take breaks from the frustration. More photography, a few errands and more snapping photos—and with one of those errands, I garnered yet another temptation to dangle in front of me to

Sherlock Holmes Stories

A trio of non-Conan Doyle stories of the famous Sherlock Holmes, by Hugh Ashton. I’m looking forward to delving into these new mysteries. But, it must wait. Perhaps as a reward, after I send off all my materials to my publisher…

distract me from work: a newly purchased book.

It will have to wait in the queue with my others since I am determined to get all required bits and pieces off to the publisher as quickly as possible. My readers are waiting after all. When I come down “to the wire”—sometimes, it takes that extra “push”—all distractions and procrastinations are put aside so that I can finish my tasks on time. Most of the time I am successful (every once in a while, I’m not). I try to stay focused on the successes and move forward.

Through the ups and downs, mires of procrastination and distractions, I persevere—and succeed. With these last few lines, the blog is done; later today (or Saturday at the latest) I should have all the information together for the publisher … and tonight I will enjoy celebrating a two year birthday for Open Ground Studios. There will be an artist opening, music, food and socializing. A grand time to celebrate.

May your Friday—and weekend—unfold into a blessed time with family and friends.

 

 

The Gathering Clouds . . .

I WASN’T SURE WHAT TO WRITE ABOUT—AGAIN, until I spent most of an entire day in my garden. The tranquility I reaped from puttering around, pruning, watering

Rhododendron

Delightful rhododendron bloom, just now peeking out with our late spring

Nasturtium

I’ll need to be careful to mow around these lovelies whenever I get around to that task. Love the yellow—a delightful change from the ‘normal’ red-orange blossoms…

and marvelling at nature as it unfolds under my precarious, lackadaisical care was amazing.

I was blessed with the very front edge of a storm front—no rain as yet—just mild temperatures and a gentle breeze slowly pulling in clouds overhead, brushing up against my many wind chimes, allowing them to sing out.
Our area gets some interesting cloud formations. Sometimes the stacked cumulus, that are so magnificent to gaze upon, pepper

Clouds and Trees

The cumulus hug the horizon and “pillows” dot the remainder of the sky.

the sky, but usually it’s the blanket of fog that rolls in like a fluffy quilt being drawn up and over us that dominates.

Tuesday, along the horizon (what I could see through my tree-ringed property) a few of the top-heavy, rain-promising cumulus clung to the hills. Further to

Cloud Watching

One of my favourite pastimes as a child (and even as an adult) is to watch clouds and find shapes in them.
What do you see?

the center of my viewing area, smaller “pillow” clouds (as my dad was fond of calling them as dementia whittled away at his vocabulary) dotted the sky. One patch of the sky had clouds that looked as though an artist had run a paintbrush through it, creating wispy edges on one side. I think, next to the

Wispy Artwork

God’s paintbrush dragged through these clouds to create wispy formations.

Wisps and Pillows

More wispy clouds with a puff here and there dotting the sky

Westward "Window"

Again, from my front porch, the oaks dominate, allowing a bit of blue sky, dotted with clouds and wisps.

towering cumulus (ours are so puny compared to those a friend posts from his Colorado home), these are my favourite. It reminds me that God’s hand is at work … all of the time.

There are other times when the clouds are reminiscent of freshly furrowed fields. The entire sky looks like a field, ready to be planted. Then, there’s always the “intrusion”—or magic—of modern science … the winds aloft playing with contrails of unseen jets and planes overhead, pushing and pulling the line of

Clouds, Contrails and Oaks

Pillow clouds and oaks frame a contrail. I love what the shifting winds aloft do to create interesting drawings in the condensation…

condensation creating undulating, drawings in the sky.

And, of course, the glorious magic of sunset (or sunrise, if you manage to be up in time)—the splendiferous colours that paint the sky. I am looking forward to that this evening … as long as the clouds don’t completely obscure the sun as it sets.
Thursday (as I write this) there’s been a tease of rain. Not even enough to wet the cement patio completely. One can only hope it is merely a taste of what is to come—more rain—which would be a good thing for our rain-starved state. It won’t be nearly enough to satisfy our water needs—far from it, but we will gratefully accept every drop the clouds decided to give us.  Even if the skies yield no more, the overcast will keep things cool, allowing what moisture the ground presently holds to stay … at least for a bit longer.
May the “skies” in your life hold treasures for you to hold close, whether filled with rain or sun, clouds or crystal clear and blue … find the magic and let your imagination soar, to lift you up and through your days ahead.

Meanderings

MEANDERINGS COME IN ALL FORMS … in words, deeds and travels.  Even though the dictionary says it’s means “wandering at random”, one can have purpose in their meanderings.

I’ve found purpose in most things that I do, though some may think otherwise. Some may say there’s not much reason to wandering through the woods. Or along the beach. How on earth could one benefit from such an activity?

I say they are wrong—well, at least for me … especially when those meanderings are in the form of walks or long drives around the hills or coast. I find peace. Restored energy. Beauty. And God’s fingerprints everywhere. It gives rise to rejoicing.

These past few weeks, I’ve had an opportunity to do just that. Meander to rejuvenate and rejoice in the things I’ve seen. What follows is a little photo-journalistic view of my meanders. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do. Perhaps it may inspire you to do a little meandering of your own …

Whether you live in my area, privy to the diversity of mountains, meadows, rivers and beautiful forests—or find yourself surrounded by man-made forests of skyscrapers and the like, there are plenty to meander through … examining the architecture up close—or the geometry that abounds in those structures … finding Mother Nature breaking through cracks in the form of mosses, a small flower or some other sort of greenery. They are all ways to explore the world around you, letting your mind meander as you wander in your environment. Relax, enjoy, marvel at what is around you.

Be my guest … meander at your leisure.

View Along Los Laureles Grade Road

Westerly view from Los Laureles Grade Road between Carmel Valley and Salinas Valley. Despite the drought, the hills are green (possibly due to our fog)…though rapidly losing their color.

Father and Daughter Meandering

At Garland Ranch Sate Park, it delighted me to see a father and daughter meander the trails, enjoying the nature that abounds.

Lupin and California Poppy

Sparsely peppering the landscape, the lupin and poppies are magnificent when finally blooming en mass. Hope it’s soon!

A Little "Shrine"

Someone has taken the time to collect rocks and such to adorn a tree stump. I love to see things like this. A personal touch to someone’s walk.

Garland Ranch Meadow

Expansive view of meadow with the mountains just beyond. Barely noticeable, lupin pepper the meadow. Other years, it’s a veritable pallet of color!

Peaceful River/Bridge Setting

I love to come down the path to the waters edge, listening to the river as it rushes over rocks. Very calming.

Carmel River @ Garland Ranch State Park

Secondary bridge—just discovered this on my last trip—set low and close to the river at Garland Park

Carmel River @ Garland Ranch State Park

Reflections—of all sorts—are things I love the most. Here, trees reflect in the beautiful Carmel River.

Trees Meet Meadow at Garland Park

The diversity of meadows, rolling hills and mountains peppered with oaks, willow and manzanita draw me forward. If it wasn’t for the heat, I could have walked for much longer…

Dry Meadow at Garland Park

Our drought has created dry meadows that should have beautiful wild flowers…

Respite in the Shade at Garland Park

On this warm day of my meandering, shaded oasis along the warm trail was a welcome sight.

Bridge Overcrossing at Garland Park

I love walking around down by the river. Not so quite today, as there were two very chatty mates across the river (just out of the photo) and a woman with her two retrievers delighted to bound in and out of the river (also just of the photo)

Carmel River-More Reflections

Such tranquility down by the river—a quiet moment before individuals broke the silence.

Garland Park-Carmel River

Reflective in nature, a serene view of Carmel River

Garland Park-Dogs at Play

Hiker’s dogs playing in Carmel River at Garland Park

Garland Park-Reflections

Looking down the Carmel River, reflections abound, making me one happy camper.

 

All In Good Time … Patience

WAITING. PATIENCE. QUEUES. How are you at waiting? I think, once upon a time, I had an over abundance of patience—kinda necessary when raising a child (or working with children), both of which I’ve done. Friends would say I had “the patience of Job”—took me awhile to realize what they were saying. What a complement. But … I think, when my daughter reached fifth grade and I was a co-coach (for the fourth consecutive year) to seven kids on an Odyssey of the Mind team … with all their new-found hormone-spewing emotions, something happened to that unending supply … it kinda got up and went. Escaped, really. Fled, screaming and yelling into the night. I loved each and every one of them—we’d become a close knit family—but I swore never to coach again. Never.

After that, well … I had a “normal” level of patience (what is “normal” anyway??). It would ebb and flow depending on the situation. As I grew older and wiser (insert sniggering grin), patience was easier to muster. It was almost like the “old” me had regained some of that youthful reserve. There are still times where I find myself pushing when I could be chillin’, but not as bad … definitely.

Waiting in lines? I actually have found it fun. I use the time to people watch. Watch their impatience or passivity—how they handle waiting. I decided to look up some quotes about patience and this one by Joyce Meyer fits in here perfectly: “Patience is not simply the ability to wait—it’s how we behave while we’re waiting.” Perhaps they need to be somewhere five minutes ago (oh, I do remember that)—getting agitated, trying to make things go faster, complaining, maybe even making nasty comments. Sometimes it can be quite comical (not their intention, but that’s how I see it that way) and I need to squelch a giggle or smile.

Watching people, like I said … but also interacting with them. I’ve found striking up conversations while in line helps pass the time, too. Once, while “suffering” through the summer heat and l-o-n-g lines at Disneyland, I pulled out a bag of freshly washed string beans and we three (father, very young daughter and yours truly) started munching. Cool, sweet and perfectly healthy. People in line would stare and then comment on how smart it was to bring such an easy and nutritious snack (and wishing they’d thought of it). Then the conversations began. Time flew. Stress flew out the window. Perfect.

Other times, as I stood in the grocery store lines, with my daughter in tow, I’d strike up conversations with people. My daughter used to look horrified as I talked with complete strangers (after all, hadn’t I taught her not to talk with strangers?)—only to find out the horror was not caused by that, but the fact that is was so easy for me to chat with a complete stranger. She finally asked: “How did you do it?” Hmmm. I honestly couldn’t tell her—at least not at the time. I know now. Having faith and simply allowing it to happen. Make the first move, say hi or simply make a positive comment about something happening while we are waiting or compliment/comment about something they are wearing or purchasing (“oh … my, that cake looks yummy!”). It’s easy. Doesn’t require any thought, really. Then let nature take its course. It may stop right there, or in may evolve into a complex discussion about something totally unrelated. I love it (insert grin).

As a writer, photographer and artist, I have found that patience is, indeed, a virtue. I’m not as too good at being patient whilst waiting for the “right” shot—many times I give up just before the optimal opportunity arises—and kick myself in the rear for not waiting just a wee bit longer, missing an extraordinary shot or two. I have garnered an abundance as a writer, but it has been a long, painful haul. One does not rush writing or art—and obviously, taking pictures if you want to catch the “perfect” shot. But, especially with writing and art, when it happens, it happens. It is so obvious—at least to me—when things get rushed. This is why, even though I’m way past my self-imposed deadline for my book, I am not rushing. I want to get it right. I want it to be the best it can be.

Patience?

Definitely a virtue and one to hold close as we navigate through this life.

I’ll leave you with some little gems I gleaned from my search on patience. Have a blessed day, filled with love and patience for your fellow man and in all the things you run up against, both big and small.

  • Patience is a virtue: “Only Patience has the strength needed by all the others (virtues), from Psychomachia (Battle of spirits) by the Late Antique Latin poet Prudentius, during the early fifth century A.D.
  • “Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there some day.”
    A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh
  • “A waiting person is a patient person. The word patience means the willingness to stay where we are and live the situation out to the full in the belief that something hidden there will manifest itself to us.”
    Henri J.M. Nouwen
  • “The strongest of all warriors are these two — Time and Patience.”
    Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace
  • You can learn many things from children.  How much patience you have, for instance.  ~Franklin P. Jones
  • Genius is nothing but a great aptitude for patience.  ~George-Louis de Buffon
  • Adopt the pace of nature:  her secret is patience.  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish.  ~John Quincy Adams
  • Have patience, my friend, have patience;
    For Rome wasn’t built in a day!
    You wear yourself out for nothing
    In many and many a way!
    Why are you nervous and fretty
    When things do not move along fast;
    Why let yourself get excited
    Over things that will soon be past?
    ~Gertrude Tooley Buckingham, “Patience” (1940s)
  • Patience is the companion of wisdom.  ~St. Augustine
  • Patience is also a form of action. ~Auguste Rodin
  • One moment of patience may ward off great disaster.  One moment of impatience may ruin a whole life.  ~Chinese Proverb

It’s All About The Focus

HAVE YOU EVER BEEN SO FOCUSED ON SOMETHING that you lose sight of everything else? I find that happens to me on a regular basis before I remember to stop and think about what I am truly after. Then I take a step back and look at things from a different viewpoint. Makes all the difference in the world.

Take for example the quest for a well defined photo of the full moon. Every month, I am foiled by weather (too many clouds or fog) … or merely too tired to drag myself outside. I’ve tried to snap shots with my iPhone, but details are useless. Bright white light in a dark sky. Boring, right? (What I really want is a photo like the one just below—taken on a previous full moon, with a  clear sky.)

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Near Full Moon

Well, last night, I was looking out my kitchen window—the window to my back yard and easterly sky. There it was. Bright as could be…nearly full, but puffy little clouds blanketed the sky in patches obscuring in now and then. Just enough light in the sky, cast by the moon, to make the framework of trees just barely visible. Beautiful. If I was patient, I could get a good shot of the moon.

Immediately, I went out to shoot—tomorrow it will be heavily blanketed with clouds, for sure. In the rush of the moment, I took only my iPhone. What was I thinking?

Cloudy Moonlit Sky

Clouds lace the sky, lit by the moon

Shapes in the clouds

Moonlit sky highlight fascinating shaped clouds.

But, as I pondered my mistake (seriously considering on trudging back in and pulling out my Pentax), trying desperately to focus on the moon alone, taking shots as the clouds kept obscuring the moon. Then I realized I was missing out on the beauty the entire sky was so grandly presenting me. (Note: remember, you can click on the individual photos to see them enlarged)

I stood silently for awhile, taking in the magnificence of the scene, then

Moonlit Cloudy Sky

Oops…forgot to rotate. In my rush to upload, moon should be at the bottom—sorry.

Moonlit Sky

Again, right side should be at the bottom.
Perhaps I’ll play with this later in curves to bring out the beauty of the clouds.

Hiding Moon

Well, I can tell this should be rotated (right side to bottom). Sorry.
It looks like an inverted photo—a negative. Do you see the strange, ghostlike face?

More Shape-Playing

Some fascinating images. What do you see?

shifted my focus from photographing details of the moon to the beauty of the shadows and light reflections the moon was casting in the sky. I am so glad I did.

I love the shots I took, even if they are grainy (night shots, iPhone…what can I say). Still have to upload to my computer, so I haven’t seen them on a big screen yet. I’ll do that right now—you’ll get first shot at viewing them. Nor have I edited them in any way—some are sideways (sorry) and some do not reflect the magnificence of the moonlit shadows on the clouds. I may play with them at a later date and re-post (or add them to the end) them so you can see the delightful light-play on the clouds more clearly.

This post was a last minute endeavor—my apologies. I’ve been dealing with the fallout of a lovely sinus infection all week—I am definitely on the mend now, thanks to antibiotics. I’ll be leaving on my delayed sojourn in Southern California tomorrow (now that I’m up to it), with stops in various places on the way and I’ll be sure to have my camera(s) out so I can share my adventures with you. Promise.

In the meantime, may this Friday and the upcoming week be one filled with adventures, ups and downs that are manageable and a delight or two to keep you bouyed. Don’t forget—Valentine’s Day is just around the corner (no pressure…wink-wink), so start thinking about your loved ones.

My Valentine’s Day (and weekend) will be at a Dr. Who convention. This ought to be interesting.

Have a delightful, blessed week.

Maybe . . . Just Maybe I’ll Make Photos More Regular

I’VE BEEN ENCOURAGED BY A WRITER/PHOTOGRAPHER friend of mine—to maybe make photography a regular thing in my blogging schedule.

It may happen—once I get my camera thoroughly cleaned! iPhone shots of the week is all you’ll get today.

Bindy

Bindy loves a good roll in the dirt

Clouds

Clouds teasing at the promise of rain

Koi Pond

Panoramic shot of the Koi pond *in* one of our local hospitals.

I was out and about having a grand time on Friday—after I had my blog posted—completely shirking my writerly duties for the rest of the day (insert huge grin). I drove all over creation … crossing into and out of three different counties and covering over 75 miles in the process.

The camera didn’t come out till late in my travels, but I wanted to capture an area I hadn’t seen before, so it took awhile. I didn’t even use my iPhone … just the Pentax. I was all excited to see the photos when I got back home.

What a let down … nice shots (nothing spectacular), good lighting, nice shadowing. And big flecks in the picture. (insert huge frown here). To say the least, I was very disappointed…and not proud of the glaring flaws, so you won’t be seeing any of them. Not sure I could have avoided the smaller flecks—they seem to be fairly consistent over my last shoots. But, I forgot to clean the lens before taking my shots.

Head/desk. Groan.

So, I ask myself … do I go back out after cleaning the lens carefully and try to retake the shots another day or wait till I’ve had the camera professionally cleaned so all of my shots will (assuming I clean the lens) be clear of debris?

I could take it in on Monday … be without my beloved Pentax for awhile as I reintroduce myself and become more familiar with my Nikon … could do that. Use the Nikon on a photo walkabout—perhaps closer to home first … then drive back up to the foothills of Gilroy to play with shadows and lighting.

Snort. Going out on Monday—or any other day this week—to reshoot photos has not happen. Just iPhone shots taken around the yard or whilst on errands. My edit consumed me, but I did manage to get the first round done (insert Snoopy dance). And after that, I found myself frittering away my time with planning an upcoming trip (it turned out to be more complicated than I anticipated—sigh). Hard to think about photography  or subsequent edits when all that is happening. But I must…I’ve put all else aside.

I do have a class coming up this weekend—I’m very excited about it! It’s a class taught by Bob Rocco on the ins and outs of the photopolymer process…taking photos and creating an engraved metal plate of the image that can be inked up and printed on the press. There are new techniques I’ll be learning—and refreshing my grey cells on how to do the stuff I should know by heart (but don’t). Love it!

I will close for now so I can begin my search through a ton of archived photos for the few images I’ll be playing with over the weekend. I also need to figure out how to put my Photoshop Elements program either on my laptop (good luck) or on an external drive (that would be better, if it will allow it), since it was one of the requirements (hopefully optional, if it doesn’t work) for the class. If all goes well, I’ll have something to share with you next week. (insert hopeful grin)

May you’re weekend will be blessed, rich with experiences you can carry forward into the years ahead.

 

Painterly Endeavors

PUTTING ON MY “PAINTERLY” HAT THIS month…I’ve been having fun at Open Ground Studios lately. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, Denese Sanders, teacher and owner, has classes of different sorts going each month. Crazy me jumped in with both feet … taking classes both Tuesday and Thursday evenings.

Denese’s Tuesday Creative Habits is dedicated to getting into a creative groove, so to speak. A potpourri of artistic mediums are used—a different one each month. January is graphite drawing. I’m not that good as a line-drawing artist (I know I may be better at some, but consider myself

graphite drawing

Graphite drawing of my dog at Creative Habit class at Open Ground Studios

far worse than many more), but figure it’s not going to hurt dabbling, working on improving my skills. Kaeli (my dog) was a great model, even if I don’t do her justice. There are times I think I

Kaeli, my model

My model for some graphite drawing

might have ADD since I find myself getting distracted about half way through the class. But, even with my doodles—and Denese’s guidance, I can focus and accomplish

Doodles

Doodles when I get distracted…

the task at hand. I think I may play with drawing my cat’s eye next time (see below)…so amazing to see the detail in his eye.

Cats Eye

My cat’s eye up close and personal…

The first Thursday class for miniature book binding was postponed ’till this Thursday—last night— which was a good thing in disguise (at least for me). Starting up with two night classes in a week might have been my downfall.

Miniature Books

A collection of the little books made on the first night. The business card is for size comparison.

I was excited to get my hands on a miniature book (insert grin) … guess anything concerning books gets me going. Teehee.  Though a small class (a good thing for us students), we had a blast, learning quite a few forms…creating quite a few in the process: accordion (two types), pocketed folio, mini books with three- and five-hole threading.

Mini Accordian Book

My slightly modified mini accordion book, with a flap to enclose the whole book (or it can lie flat at the back)

I think my favorite for the night was the teensie-tiny (only about an inch and a half square) accordion. I modified my cover slightly to make it a bit more artsy. By the way…after last night’s class, I think the “ADD” I experienced at the Creative Habit class is more from it not being something I’m “in love” with doing…line drawing apparently is not my thing, but still, a good way to explore the different things out there. Three hours time flew by so fast last night … I didn’t want it to end (well, I was getting blurry eyed from the hour, but was having so much fun). I can hardly wait for next Thursday. Denese has some interesting structures for us to “build” … wheee!

For those of you that are local, there’s still time to join in on either night’s activities. Simply sign up at their website: Open Ground Studios

In between my art-focused classes, I’ve been wandering around with various cameras (iPhone, my little Canon point ‘n shoot and my Pentax)—snapping shots in different settings. I find myself in awe of our area, taking pictures along the coast and in the woods at Point Lobos—both flora and fauna, in my yard (there’s always something to capture my interest), and on the road (or along side the road)—or even in nurseries (see below)

Deer grazing.

A young deer, completely unafraid of me, posed as I took photos of it grazing. (above)

Path through forest

Path through the forest at the south end of Point Lobos

 

Broken Plaster

Unfinished plaster display at a nursery caught my eye (center)

The Central Coast of California is an awe inspiring place for photographers — and plein-air artists…you can find them set up, perched on a chair or rock or standing, painting or drawing the landscape almost any time of the day.

In between all of the painterly activities, I am working on the edit for The Scymarian—trying desperately to get it done and returned to my editor for the second go-round so my readers can dive into the third book … and then there’s always the weekly, last-minute scurry to get the blog finished and published. Well, honestly … it’s only sometimes that I’m doing that last-minute thing. I do try to have it done by the end of the day on Thursday and have been pretty successful of late (yay). Right now, I’m begrudgingly yielding to the need to work on the blog instead of editing—I know taking breaks from editing helps get it done with less fatigue … but I am certainly pressed to complete the edit as soon as possible.

I’ll sign off now so that I can get some editing done before heading off to run errands (and attempt a short walk—all this sitting will be the death of me!).

Cross your fingers—those Secrets Beyond Scymaria readers amongst you—hopefully I will have this edit completely done before the end of this month and have it submitted to the publisher by the end of February.

Until next time, may your day be blessed with wonderment, good health and joy.

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?

 

 

Photography

I LOVE TAKING PICTURES AND I’M sure many of you do too. It’s fun to capture special moments, saving them forever. The problem is, like the old ad says…”I’m stuck on your computer (or camera)! Please print me—do something with me…”

I am as guilty as the next where this is concerned—even worse, since I have saved hundreds of thousands of photos to CDs, DVDs and external hard drives (yes, I did say hard drives—plural), not to mention on each computer’s internal drive. I have way too many photos taken over the years. Far less than half were taken before I turned ‘professional’ artist/photographer.

Are your photos imprisoned on your computer or still on your camera? It is time we all free our Moments (aka captured images) to create a collage, album or in my case, art work. Get them off the computer or out of the camera and show them off. Or, if not worthy of saving, then be bold and hit that delete key. I’m sure when I begin, I’ll be striking that key quite a lot. And it will be freeing. I also need to update my Flickr and SmugMug accounts. I haven’t added any photos to either page in simply ages.

I plan on beginning the arduous task with the heralding of the new year. Carving out some time daily or weekly to weed through, saving the best for my art (maybe the ‘good ones’ too, so I can play/experiment with them without worry) and the personal shots for an album or two (dozen)…and share my final products with you.

Until then, I can at least share a few simple photos from this last week…except I’m having technical difficulties getting them loaded. A conundrum…do I post the blog and come back to post the photos later, or keep trying, even if the hourglass for today is running low on sand? Sigh. I’ll try one more time…if no photos with the initial post, you’ll know I’m still having issues.

Moon Rising with clouds

Nearly Full Moon, rising with clouds dancing across

 

Well, got it to work—somewhat. Kinda hodge- podge…couldn’t get them to line up—sorry.

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Near Full Moon

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Setting Sun through trees

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Near full moon, with clouds dancing across

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Nearing Sunset, looking out my west window

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Moon Rising at Sunset

May this day, this week, the remainder of this year hold delights, surprises and uplifting challenges to carry you through.

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Writing, Memories and More…

I AM UP TO MY EYEBALLS IN EDITING, have a book signing in a week with a list of all the things that need to be done breathing down my neck, today is the 25th anniversary of the Loma Prieta earthquake which devastated Santa Cruz, San Francisco and our own local areas…and I just finished a three-plus mile walk after a three week hiatus. Quite a hodge-podge of things in my life (the story of my life—teehee)–always and forever.

But for now, this is plenty. So much to do. I needed a break.

I needed a break from my editing, from my planning…from the craziness I manage to create, so I decided on a walk. A mini-escape. It’s an excellent way to refresh the mind—clean out the cobwebs, so to speak. If I haven’t mentioned it before, Point Lobos State Park is my favorite place to meander. All those trees—and the lovely coastline. To die for. I may have overdone it slightly, since I am ready for a nap now that it’s done. So much for feeling refreshed. (grin)

I dusted off my good camera and found a few things worthy of capturing. I alternated between the iPhone and my good camera as I walked through the woods.

As I walked, I thought about the earthquake that struck our area twenty-five years ago and wondered when the next one would hit. Not if, but when. The science of predicting earthquakes is pretty lame, so after the earthquake, they announced another would come within the next thirty years. The reporters today are saying that scientists are saying another of similar devastation (6.9 or greater) in the next thirty years. What? Thirty years from now?? I thought we had five more years on the first warning. Can you tell I don’t hold much trust in their predictions. I wondered, while I walked what I’d do if one happened while I was on my walk. I decided I’d deal with it when it happened. No need to worry about it till then, so I turned my attention back to my walk.

The sun was playing hide and seek with the clouds, fading in and out, but was never strong. There was a high cloud ‘film’ apparently defusing the brightness. I was looking for rays of light streaming into the forest through the canopy of green to photograph. It did not oblige me. But, the lichen was lovely. Gently waving in the breeze, it was beautiful when the sunlight hit the lacy green sheets of lichen.

Once I get the photos off the cameras, I’ll add them to this post (that’s the plan, anyway…)—when I’m feeling more alert.

Ideas for my book signing at Open Ground Studios (on Saturday, 25th of October) bounced around in my mind as I walked—hope I can remember them later, and my characters sat on my shoulders, whispering in my ears, telling me what they want me to do in book four—I’m excited to see where that book is headed. Then, my ongoing edit tapped me on my shoulder, reminding me that I’ve had enough of a walkabout and it was time to hunker down in front of the computer and get back to business. Such a party crasher. I shrugged off the reminder.

Like I said, I walked a little too far (over three miles) for my first time after three weeks ‘off’, so my edit will have to wait till tomorrow. Tonight, I rest and recover from my wonderful day on the Peninsula. Tomorrow, I’m back to plugging away at the corrections so I can have book three published before the end of the year.

Until next time, folks. Have a blessed week—enjoy the changing weather. Check back later (over the weekend) and I’ll have a few photos of Point Lobos posted in this blog.