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.)

IMGP5208

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.

IMGP5208

Near Full Moon

IMGP5148

Setting Sun through trees

IMGP5210

Near full moon, with clouds dancing across

IMGP5150

Nearing Sunset, looking out my west window

IMGP5185

Moon Rising at Sunset

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

.

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.

 

Nearing the End…

IT’S AMAZING HOW fast time flies. As I write this, the week has literally flown by and it’s nearly time for the CIVers to say adieu to each other. Most of them will be heading back to the States on Saturday or Sunday. I get to hang around for another three and a half weeks (teehee).

This blog will be fairly short, but I’m going to add a few photos from the week to you. I hope you enjoy them…

IMGP4741 IMG_0718 IMG_0651

 

I’m loving the rivers and lakes in the Snowdonia Mountain range. Amazing, really. The lake and the newly emerging frond are from Snowdonia. The center photo was taken along the edge of Cae Mabon. It’s like a fairytale village, really. I could spend much more time here.

IMG_0662 IMG_0751 IMG_0684

 

Cae Mabon (an eco retreat)-main lodge and their storyteller, Eric; lovely tree at the top edge of Cae Mabon; one of the cottages at the retreat.

IMG_0750 IMGP4665 IMG_6538

 

Cae Mabon beautiful vegetation, boats in Caernafron–near the Castle, (who knew I’d forget so fast where these places are??) unknow scenery along the western coastline in Wales (sorry)

IMGP4599 IMG_0381 IMG_0233

 

Dublin River, Conwy Castle (that “bridge” is very small) and the river I’m blanking on the town name for this one on the right.

IMG_0194 IMG_0140 IMG_0165

Two hostel bedrooms (left at the western edge of Ireland, right at Dublin), plus my hotel grounds at sunset in Malahide, Ireland

Tomorrow, we pack up from our lovely little cottage in Bryngwrang and move onto an overnight stay in Mold (don’t laugh–that’s actually the name of the town). We have to be on the road by 10 am…maybe? Since Saturday, we have managed to cover most of the coastline of northern Wales, above and below the Holyhead island, plus some inland areas–either by mistake–Marc will not admit to it and absolutely nobody is complaining (it’s always worked well into the plans) or by design. It’s nice that the itinerary is loose.

This area is magnificent. Rugged. Picturesque…and just flat out gorgeous, whether a city or town, or countryside. I’m contemplating altering my plans to visit Edinburgh and cozy up into some neat little hotel till I’m due in the London area around 8 June. I’ll have to make by decision by tomorrow night at the latest. You will find out sometime next week…

I now have another area to add to my list that I have fallen madly in love with…what’s a girl to do?

Looks Like Rain…

I’M ENJOYING THIS WEIRDLY WARM weather here on the Central Coast of California. Thursday’s high was 89.1, down about 74.5 (78 inside still, but coming down slowly) as I wrote this. Tomorrow (Friday) will cool a little more (80-ish), and even more over the weekend–almost back to the “normal”, but not quite…then it goes back up again. But, this doesn’t mean I’ll not be happy when cooler weather (aka: our ‘normal’ summer) comes, though…with this drought, I’m not really sure if it will arrive..

Though it’s too far out to see what weather I will have in store in Ireland, it’s 51-58 (F) and rain most days through the 11th (last day it shows). That will be a nice change after a week of off-and-on very hot weather. Unless there’s a drastic change in weather, I’m sure I’ve gotta make sure I pack a few long sleeve shirts and a sweater 😉 plus my umbrella and maybe my rain slicker. (Probably won’t get much use out of the capris I just purchased, but I’ll take them, just in case.) The coolness and wetness will not hamper my travels at all. I’ll revel in it. The only thing it might effect is the amount of photographs I can get without damaging my camera. I may resort to iPhone or point ‘n shoot to protect my good camera, but I *will* get my shots in.

I’ve got my route roughly figured out: Dublin to Galway, then follow the coast to Sligo (I will be visiting a Facebook friend–John is growing a labrynth and I’m anxious to see how it’s progressing) to somewhere along the north coast of Ireland or N Ireland to Dublin–haven’t decided exactly where yet (I’ll stick with the coast route all the way back to Dublin). Dublin to Holyhead, Wales (via ferry, as foot passenger) to Manchester, England–meet up with the Celtic Invasion Vacation group (headed by a capable Marc Gunn, Celtic Musician-tour organizer and guide Extraordinaire) to visit many points in Wales, then back to Manchester (say farewell to the group and hire another car to travel to Edinburgh (a favorite), Scotland and the northern coast (want to check out the Gunn Clan’s castle and history center), then to the outskirts of London to visit a friend, Natalie and her family (I’ve been invited to stay in their guest room). They will give me the ‘grand tour’ of London and surrounding areas, I believe. I may spend another day in a hostel in downtown London to hopefully meet up with a writer friend, Vickie Johnstone (she writes in several genre–childrens and thriller). Then it’s back to Holyhead. Holyhead to Dublin (foot passenger again on the ferry) with day trips to Cork and other areas in the southern portion–and of course lots of travel around one of my favorite cities, Dublin before I am forced to catch my return flight home.

Whew! And yet, six weeks is not enough time to thoroughly enjoy myself. Next time, I may look into sticking to one place for six weeks (or more) and use the time as a writing retreat–but I’ll still make sure I get some tromping around in the countryside to take photographs. A must. I just love the ruins, the history of the country.

And I cannot forget the people. All along the way, I plan on cultivating friendships wherever possible. These (Ireland and Scotland specifically) are countries I have fallen in love with and wish to connect on a more personal level.

Right now, I’m working on hostel room (or couchsurfing–I’m fine with this too and it keeps the cost down) reservations, but not concerned (I’ve got the important ones–first, last and a few nights in between–all taken care of). There shouldn’t be too much problem booking. Most of the time, all I have to do is book the next hostel when I check in at the current one.

I can *almost* count on my fingers how many days before my travels begin. I’ll be doing a little bit of fine tuning in these last few weeks–making sure I have all the electronic accessories I need (oh, my–it gets worse every time I travel!)–I’m taking my GPS this time since I won’t have a ‘nagivator’ to assist me. I love my GPS. I just purchased a new suitcase (the old one had a wonky wheel that made a horrendous noise) but plan only to fill my smaller suitcase and stuff it inside for the trip over (hope it fits in my cars). The larger one will be for “overflow” of gifts and purchases for myself. I’m not going to get caught trying to cram all my goodies into the small suit case like I’ve done before. The smaller one is small enough to use as a carry on, so if I am limited to one suitcase as checked baggage, I’m set. My backpack then becomes my ‘personal’ item, which will include my purse and camera equipment and GPS.

I’m nearly set. Wheeee.

It’s Official…

WELL, I’M OFFICIALLY crazy. Not only am I trying to do the promotion on book one (doing an awful job at it), but trying to get book two finalized and to the publisher, book three’s back story woven in and editing done so I can turn it into my editor, plus work on book four and bring it to completion…all of that so I can start on the other ideas bouncing around in my head while the editor does his editing thing. On top of that, I now a new love to explore.

My book’s characters are up in arms over this new ‘love’ in my life, protesting by filling my head with way too many ideas for any one person. It’s ready to explode.

My new love? Travel. Well, it’s not ‘new’, I just haven’t done much. My writing has come first for the last year. Everything else has taken a back seat. Until now. Now, I have finished with all my vacillating back and forth on when, how long, where and finally made my plane reservations, rounded up and confirming critter sitters and have a mile long list of the things I need to accomplish before my travel dates! Yikes!

I am looking forward to driving in the UK and Ireland–yes, the wrong side of the road…I know, but I have no problem with it–well, my daughter may take exception to that comment, so I’ll modify it: once I’ve been behind the wheel about ten to fifteen minutes, I’m fine. And, I’ll make sure I know how to put the car into reverse before Ieaving the lot this time. I actually had to call the car company to ask how to get it into reverse so I could pull out of a parking space. I’d forgotten about the possibility of a ring that needed to be pulled up during the shifting action. So few cars in the US have that feature. I take pride in knowing these things. Oh, so embarrassing!

I will be sure to keep you updated with a travel blog I’ll start before I leave. If you have aspirations of traveling alone, it could be informative–and surely you’ll at least get a chuckle out of my sometimes tongue-in-cheek comments and situations (see some of my previous blogs on my travel adventures…you will see what I mean). One should not be afraid to travel alone. I’ve had friends tell me I’m brave to travel alone. Balderdash. I’ve simply learned to travel smart, and not fret over the small stuff…and, there will be small stuff–guaranteed. I had a navigator the last time I drove…no navigator this time, so I’m figuring I’ll get lost more–wheee! I’ll see areas I hadn’t planned on seeing! (See? That’s the way to think when traveling.)

Oh, yeah…and I’ll try not to run over pedestrians. (Inside joke, for my daughter…sorry.)

I will also have my camera with me and will share my photos either in my blog or via my Flickr account (or both). Europe is an amazing place for photographers. The US has many awesome places, but Europe has the “age” advantage…everything is so much older over there. I love it. I love to just sit amongst the ruins and breath in the oldness, imagining the life as it was, way back when. And life is so differently compared to the US. Not necessarily better (though in some cases, yes), but definitely different. I’m all for differences.

Keeps things interesting.

I’m excited.

 

 

 

 

A Conundrum

BEFORE I BEGIN THIS POST, I MUST announce: this is post #100 (doing a dance)! I began this whole endeavor in 2010 as an experiment, not really knowing what I was going to write about. It quickly (well, it took a year) turned into a tongue-in-cheek, informative travel blog, then I expanded from there. It’s been many things, chronically my thoughts and activities for the past three and a half years. It seems so long ago! To refresh my memory, I’ve been reading through a few of them and it has been entertaining to see where I was and how far I’ve come. Though I’ve not been consistent (my apologies), my posts have improved. So will my consistency–I hope!

I thank you, my readers–whoever and wherever you are, for bothering to take the time to read my entries. I hope you’ve found them entertaining and/or informative. Now, on with post number one hundred:

PASSIONS ARE WONDERFUL THINGS really. They keep you driven, moving forward. Challenged. I like that. But, when you acquire too many passions, well…problems arise.

They begin butting heads with each other, competing for my valuable time. Well, maybe not valuable, but precious–yes, since there are only so many usable hours in a day. And I find myself, with all this bouncing between passions, starting to lose momentum. Becoming disengaged from each.

This, I do not like.

Trying to find a balance between all of the loves in my life seems to be getting more difficult. My garden is in shambles. My photography is a mere shadow of itself, my art beckons and my writing, well…it’s demanding. And I did very little travel–none abroad–last year. That is added to the mix this year.

I’m excited, yet terrified.

How does one successfully juggle all of this without everything coming crashing down on one’s proverbial head? The conundrum: my travels will involve three loves: travel, photography and blogging (it’s been awhile since I’ve done a fun blog about travel). I will try to sneak in some promotional stuff too, visiting schools and libraries to make people aware of my book–both the one presently in print and the one that will (hopefully) be published this spring, before I head off on my sojourn.

Finding time to write (other than the blog) will get interesting. By the time I begin my travels, I will be eyebrow deep in editing my third book (if all goes well, it will come out in the fall) and still needing to finish my fourth. Oh, my! Will there be time (and enough focus) at the end of each day to work on the backstory and editing for book three? My editor will be waiting for it…patiently, I hope.

And my heart aches when I think about leaving my fur-babies alone for so long. No snuggling up with them, being purred to sleep, no amusing times watching the antics of my bunny, no wagging tail to greet me when I come back to rest my head for the night after a hard day of walking.

Yes, there will be plenty of that. Walking–that’s a good thing…and bad. When I’m on my own, I’ll be able to alter my schedule to accommodate my feeble knee…when I’m on the tour tromping around upper Wales, well, not so much. I’ll either have to opt out of the days activities or simply press on and make sure I have my Aleve, my clunky brace and some ice for the end of the day.

And thinking about my art…and my garden. Hopefully neither will languish too much in my absence. Art? Well, I can doodle on the road now and then, but my garden…that will be left in the hands of my neighbors and to the whims of Mother Nature. She may be very cruel this season (they’ve officially proclaimed that we are in a drought). I can tidy the garden up (it is a complete disaster right now from my neglect whilst editing all last summer and fall) in preparation for my departure, get the irrigation system in top condition and protecting the plants as best as possible. But, ultimately…I know I will have work to do when I get back–I cannot expect neighbors to put the TLC into it that I would. Hmm…perhaps I should leave it as is (groan–that hurts to contemplate!). No, I must tidy it up.

I do have faith that if it is to be, it will happen. Everything will fall into place. I know that I can’t just sit back, expecting it all to ‘just happen’–to go smoothly without some planning and work on my part…which adds to my juggling act.

Quite a conundrum, don’t you think? It’s never-ending.

Just like my books.

May your days be blessed. May they be problem free–or at least free of problems without solutions visible at the end of the tunnel…

 

Nevada…Las Vegas, Baby!

WELL, I’VE ONLY BEEN TO VEGAS ONCE prior to this trip, with my husband and daughter (only about a year old at the time) — um, that’s a quarter of a century ago, by the way! We stayed at a Thousand Trails campground (kinda like a camping pyramid scheme…pretty much expensive–but legit & it served it’s purpose for us with a preschool-age child) and we happened to be there when the area was invaded by locust (katydids?). Pretty much, all I remember is a lot of crunching when I walked anywhere–that, and the deafening noise they made, day and night. We didn’t gamble, didn’t go to any of the shows…it was merely a layover on a much, much longer trip.

So, I was really looking forward to this trip to Vegas last November. Not only was I going to get to see relatives that I only seem to see at weddings and funerals (…why is that, anyway? I won’t go into that. Nope.), but also, I would have the freedom to do exactly what I wanted. As long as it fit into the newlywed’s plans. That was okay by me.

As I was saying, I was looking forward to this trip. The beauty around the Monterey Peninsula and Salinas Valley is fabulous. Within an hour of my home, I have ocean, lakes, streams and creeks, redwoods, groves of pine, oaks, stretches of grasslands, spectacular mountains (certainly not by continental divide standards, by mountains, nonetheless) with expansive vistas of multiple counties, even a little high desert terrain.

But, Nevada is desert. Dry, stark beauty. Mountains sharply silhouetted against clear skies. Vast sparkling lakes, deep and dark. So different from my home turf.

Please remember that each picture is my property and require permission from me before you may reproduce in any fashion. Please play nice.

Last rest stop in California before heading into Nevada

Last rest stop in California before heading into Nevada

Last Rest Stop in Calif, another view

Last Rest Stop in Calif, another view

Miles and miles of nothing but dirt, scrub brush and mountains ringing the long strip of valley I was driving through as I headed to Vegas.  Then I saw a group of strange towers–I cannot remember what they are–someone did tell me afterward, and if I recall correctly, they are some sort of solar tower arrays.

Strange Structures, in the middle of nowhere...I believe they are solar towers of some sort.

A series of strange structures (3-4), in the middle of nowhere…I believe they are solar towers of some sort.

Close up of strange tower--I believe it is a solar tower.

Close up of strange tower–I believe it is a solar tower. (I took this one on the way back home, near dusk)

Then, bang! Civilization…without even seeing the sign, I knew I was in Nevada–that entire ‘town’ consisted of casinos and hotels.

Miles and miles of miles and miles of desert, then, suddenly--civilization!

Miles and miles of miles and miles of desert, then, suddenly–civilization!

Yes, I was there for my nephew’s wedding to a lovely young lady, and yes, it was a wonderful service. The time we spent together was memorable–even thought my point n’shoot (pns) camera was being a royal pain (didn’t want to lug the good one around inside the casino), so my photos didn’t turn out the way I wanted–my bad. I think my iPhoto shots are better than the pns–lol. At least they present me ‘triggers’ for great memories. That’s fine. We saw magnificent meals…I wasn’t bored, but occasionally, I found the Painterly side pop out & grabbed my camera.

Painterly Side Showing in Vegas

Painterly Side Showing in Vegas: reflection of my glass of wine on table cloth

Some amazing shows–I missed the Friday night performance, but did not miss Saturday’s “O”…and I do need to go back for other Cirque du Soleil performances (they are truly amazing!!!)–but the craziness that makes Vegas Vegas had me trying to stuff the impulse to flee the town every couple of hours…and that is putting it mildly.

View of Vegas from my 6th floor window

View of Vegas from my 6th floor window

Above and below, views out my window. I was on the sixth floor. I could hear the roller coaster going at all hours, with the occupants screaming and yelling. Sigh.

Vegas hotels across the street, including a roller coaster, looking out my dirty 6th story room window. I could hear the screaming and yelling from the ride's occupants at ALL hours...sigh

Vegas hotels across the street, including a roller coaster, looking out my dirty 6th story room window.

I deliberately made the drive from home to Vegas in two days and kept making mental notes of places I wanted to see on the way back…mistake. Mental notes have a tendency of getting lost, just like notes scribbled on scraps of paper. Sadly, I could not remember the places I wanted to go…and ended up taking a different route home. Sigh. (Note to self: write these ideas down in your iPhone ASAP so you don’t forget next time!)

While I was in Vegas, I made plans to escape into the outlying areas (several times, to keep my sanity). Their version of the suburbs. Clusters of homes with sprawling red-rock mountains and various forms of cacti as their landscape and backdrop. It was like a magnet. I’d seen the red-rock mountains when I was coming into Vegas and knew I wanted to investigate. Delicious fresh air, reasonable temperatures (November, remember) and beautiful scenery. I found myself at the gates to Red Rock Canyon National Monument.

Red Rock Canyon National Monument

Red Rock Canyon National Monument

I was so excited that I forgot to clean the lens (that made me very sad, indeed!)

Red rock formations proliferate the Red Rock Canyon National Monument

Red rock formations proliferate the Red Rock Canyon National Monument

 

I took advantage of my ‘senior’ age (all of 62 years young) and purchased a lifetime pass to all National Parks in the US for a mere $10. I then found myself in the midst of the breathtaking beauty that makes up the desert. I didn’t want to leave. Nope. But the newlywed schedule required I return way too soon.

Cactus and Yucca in the desert

Cactus and Yucca in the desert

So, I had to say adieu for the time being. Back to Vegas.

Red Rock Canyon Nat'l Monument from afar

Red Rock Canyon Nat’l Monument from afar

On my next (and unfortunately the last photo op) outing, and though the Red Rocks beckoned…pulling ferociously at my heartstrings, I chose to go to Nevada’s portion of Lake Mead and the Hoover Dam at the Arizona/Nevada border. From the stark, dry landscape of Vegas’ outlying areas…to more stark, dry landscape, with an illusion of an oasis. The lake, at the water’s edge, was the only area where plants actually flourished. A stones throw away, the desert. It was very interesting.

Lake Mead from the Vistor Center

Lake Mead from the Vistor Center

Cactus at the Lake Mead Visitors Center

Cactus at the Lake Mead Visitors Center

Views above is from the visitors center at Lake Mead. Views below of the Hoover Dam.

View of Hoover Dam exhibit area from the pedestrian bridge overpass

View of Hoover Dam exhibit area from the pedestrian bridge overpass

Hoover Dam, looking down into Lake Mead

Hoover Dam, looking down into Lake Mead

Lake Mead boat launch & marina

Lake Mead boat launch & marina with stark mountains as a backdrop.

Even thought history is not ‘my thing’, I enjoyed perusing the exhibits at the visitor center and at the dam itself. Unfortunately, by the time I’d trudged up the stairs (oh, mistake!) to the dam overpass viewpoint, I was lagging in energy, so I didn’t put much effort in taking many photos. I only made it 1/4 of the way across the dam on foot then, turned tail, retreating to my car in exhaustion. What you see here are the photos I did manage to take.

I will be back to Red Rocks. The pull is still strong, but timing (weather wise) will need to be managed carefully. I will not be staying in Vegas, even though I plan on attending another Cirque du Soleil performance–there are at least seven of them…three of which I would love to see…I will stay in one of the smaller outlying towns. I don’t need the glitz that Vegas lavishes (at a cost) on it’s visitors. I’ll stay with the simple folk.

This turned out to be a long post–my apologies, but I hope you’ve enjoyed the photography and my musings.

Note: as I am posting these photos, they are looking blurry–they are crisp shots, so I don’t know if it’s my eyes or WordPress that has distorting them 🙁

Until next time, have a blessed week.

 

Wanderings…

(I ‘found’ this draft recently, when I was finally able to get into my blog. I am working on another entry right now, but thought this would be fun to post before you see the next one.)

WHETHER IT IS MY MIND OR MY WHOLE being that is doing the wandering, I find it fun to explore.

I’ve done a lot of travel recently, and will be doing even more in the near future. Sometimes it all gets jumbled in my mind…where I’ve been when…and for how long. Little trips close together are the worst. If I have to consult the calendar, does that mean the trip was not a memorable one? Of course not! It just means this poor brain has become very dependent on the “portable brain” (aka iPhone calendar) for much of the “trivial” things like dates and places to jog the great memories to the forefront.

When I do physical traveling, there are always sights to be seen, new things to experience–even if I’ve been there before, I am always able to find something new. Always. And within the physical travel, well, there will always be mental wanderings…it just cannot be helped. My mindful meanderings can take me anywhere, which is a delight in itself. I may meander into the minefield of my writings, fraught with anxieties of how to proceed. Or perhaps I might find myself dodging through the lists of things that need doing.

…wait.  I did say my wanderings were a delight, right?  Well, even with the anxieties and lists, I find comfort in knowing things will get done, perhaps not right away, but they will get done. And, usually, within this state of mind, I am able to iron out some of the kinks and hiccups in my storyline or lists, knowing how and where to proceed.  Once those anxieties and lists are confronted, my mind can meander into memories of books recently read–reliving the adventure, or even just let my mind float around in dreams. And there’s always trips to be brainstormed or memories of past travels to explore in my mind.

My recent travels began with Pleasanton: two days of heat (oh, my…lots of heat!), Celtic food, Games, and music with friends…and more food.  Aaah…the music. Celtic music

Celtic Drummer

Celtic Drummer getting into the beat (for some reason, the drum was cut out of the photo–sorry!)

goes to the soul.  The drums.  Oh, yes!  My friend introduced me to a new band that was playing–I love Taiko (Japanese) drumming, but this drumming (amplified and accompanied by other instruments) was truly amazing! Here’s where the mind comes into play. The drums, for me at least, allow my mind to dance…wander freely. Like a release from the constraints of daily life. I always feel lighter after listening to this type of music. More alive, revved up.

The lines to buy their music (my heart sunk when I was told ‘cash only’ once I got to the front) were long, long, long…I was saddened that I didn’t have enough cash since I always refuse to use ATMs that pepper large events like this. So, I do plan on getting the music online…one of these days. It won’t be the same, playing the CD on my player…just won’t be the same. Sigh. But, it will allow my mind to free up all the clutter, become refreshed so I can dig back into my writing, or my art with new eyes.

The Seattle trip was mostly to see two very special friends that I met in Monterey when Lynne and I were learning German at Monterey Peninsula College. We became fast friends and even when (soon after class was over) she and Dan were shipped overseas, I managed to make a visit to see them in Europe. We had great fun, leaving me with lasting memories that continue to make me smile. Now, Dan was retiring and throwing a retirement party. I didn’t want to miss this, so I hopped on a train (without a sleeper berth) to Seattle. Again. Plenty of memories. Plenty of experiences. Some I do not wish to repeat, such as acquiring a sinus infection from the long train ride (aggravated by my stupidity, as I kept my face in the smoky presence of a fire I was trying to rekindle in a fire pit–just a day before the long journey home). It still lingers, but I am feeling much better…most of the time. It will eventually subside completely and I’ll be back to my busy self once again…but until then, I curse my stupidity. But, aside from that, it was an exceptionally wonderful time, meeting new friends (some that live “right next door” in Monterey!), touring the Seattle area in the style only known to these two precious people and their friends…their rental van was lovingly dubbed “the prison van” after the first ‘tour’ which I missed…but, no worries–I soon found out how it got it’s name. Great food, friendly conversations, incredible sights–and I even took some photos as we made a dash for the Wharf area and Seattle’s Farmers Market–walking all over creation one day (we even managed to sneak in

Fisherman's Wharf, Seattle WA

Fisherman’s Wharf in Seattle, viewing the ferries, carrying passengers to the Olympia Peninsula

a glimpse of the Space Needle before heading home); then the Olympia Peninsula, driving up the coast, then back to downtown Seattle the next day. Sadly, they dropped me at the

Space Needle behind a ginormous Music Museum in Downtown Seattle

Space Needle behind a ginormous Music Museum in Downtown Seattle

Music Museum...with refelction of Seattle Space Needle

Music Museum…with refelction of Seattle Space Needle

Hostel I was staying at that night so I could easily make it to the train station the next day. I didn’t want it to end so soon. We bid our fond farewells and I took with me wonder memories and visions firmly planted in my mind.

Shortly, I will be taking a PhotoTrip (as I like to call it) to Vegas. The destination is for a wedding, but I seldom find the opportunity to capture the stark beauty of the desert, so I decided I will drive. I am looking forward to this, both photographically and for the chance to spend time with relatives that I see far to infrequently. There will be a separate blog for that trip (probably in the form of a photo blog–flora and fauna only…)–I am planning on many wonderful memories to come from this trip.

Until then…have a blessed day!