Me an’ Technology … and the Blessings of Family

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

So, instead …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Autumnal Life Along the Coast

WELL … TUESDAY I BROKE DOWN and turned the heater on. I’m such a cheapskate (I’m part Scot, after all ) and figure I can handle the cold—not! In the house, the temp has only made it up to 57F all week … and temps outside have been relatively low.  With my wonky thyroid and the chilly temps not making it much over 60F, it was time. Oh, so time!

I still don’t have it turned up a huge amount— it was on a 55F hold and I only popped it up to 62F for now (… well, maybe it went up to 65 a couple of times). The set-back kicks in around nine AM (to around 59F), so I’ll be manually tapping it up every day as needed. If I’m not here, I bring it back down to the low setting till I get back.

So … our cold weather has begun. Not that far into autumn and the nip in the air has definitely settled in. That means my persimmons will ripen before Thanksgiving Day, which is a big “YAY”! My trademark persimmon puddings will begin showing up. That makes me happy! I’m hoping that rain is not far behind. There have been taunts in the forecast of 50% chance of rain mid- to late-week on Thanksgiving week. It keeps getting moved back, closer and closer to the weekend. When it does that, it’s almost guaranteed to peter out to nothing but a drizzle at best <pout>.

No rain forecast for this weekend, so we should have a good turnout for the Aromas Hills Artisans’ Holiday Arts Festival. I was hoping to take my lattice display so I could hang my framed work, but the location we (Joyce Oroz and yours truly) ended up with does not allow it. All I can manage is my bin art and note cards scrunched down into one small space—along with my three books, hopefully only taking up about 1/3 of an 8 foot table. Joyce has thirteen books in her Josephine Stuart Mystery series. plus her husband’s historical fiction tale, Okinawa Moon … and her new childrens’ book—it is a series (of one, so far, but she is working on the second in the series) about problems children might encounter—from a dog’s point of view. Definitely cute, definitely helpful. But we are outgrowing sharing a table at the rate she’s writing—and by next year, I should have my fourth (Mischiefmaker) book published and ready for reader-consumption. Maybe I’ll even have book five (The Catalyst) if I do things right! I’m progressing nicely on book five—using November’s NaNoWriMo to keep me motivated <insert huge grin> With all of these books, we may need to consider our own tables for future events.

Not to boast, but this weekends event is definitely a quality-affair. The artisans participating are excellent—if not masters—in their craft. I try not to compare myself to any other artisan … I always feel their work is so much better than mine, but they keep reminding me comparison is not the proper way to judge one work over another. I’ll keep telling myself that (this is a good example of how authors, artists and crafters feel about their own work—always trying to compare to another persons’ work).

In any case, with Thanksgiving nearly upon us and the last two events (for me) looming, I wish you a delightful weekend and Thanksgiving feast … enjoy time together, find things to be thankful for. Be sure there is gratitude in your attitude. Until next week … gobble-gobble-gobble <wink!>

Upcoming Events

Sat/Sun 17-18 November 10am-4pm both days
Aromas Hills Artisans’ Holiday Art Festival
400 Rose, Aromas CA
This is an event you won’t want to miss. Aromas Hills Artisans’ annual Holiday Art Festival, held at the Grange features quality hand crafted items, arts/craft demonstrations, raffle and food, plus a warm fire to sit by as you nibble on your purchased items.
Joyce Ororz and dj jameson smith will have their mystery and fantasy books for sale, plus dj will have her photography and art available.
Free Entry

Thurs/Fri 29-30 November 10am-5pm both days
Watsonville Community Hospital Emergency Dept
75 Neilson Street, Watsonville
Larger than ever with a few of the AHA members selling their wares for the first time, this will be a fun event to explore all of the arts, crafts … and books. Joyce Oroz and dj jameson smith will be there with their mystery and fantasy series.
Free entry.

 

 

Forever Grateful

AS I STRUGGLE THROUGH THIS CRAZY WEEK, I find myself thankful for being able to wake up each morning. To be present. Present for my critters, to see the wild creatures browsing in my yard or jumping from branch to branch. Present for my friends. Thankful that I am healthy enough (though, dealing with a sinus infection), for a wonderful daughter and son-in-law … all the basic stuff. We should be thankful for all this every single day. I think I do a pretty good (not perfect, but …) job of remembering to give thanks where thanks is due—and to whom it is due.

Over the last couple weeks (hmmm … maybe even longer), I’ve been frantically getting things ready for the multiple events that have just happened—and are still to happen over the next few weeks. I’ve had the constraints of keeping track of a dog 24/7 due to some health issues (Kaeli’s been with me at Open Ground Studios, in the house, doctor appointments, evening meetings, errands—weather permitting—etc). The vet has just given her a clean bill of health, but now I wonder if she’s doing well because she’s not “free-ranging” on anything she finds in the yard. TMI—anyway, I’ve decided I’m liking my new 24/7 companion, so I’m changing my lifestyle to fit her into things I do until I can get a large enclosure that deer cannot get into. I know she is liking the arrangement. She curls up at my feet in the house and prances out to the car, eager for the next adventure. I’m thankful for her love and companionship.

My cat has mixed feelings about this new “closeness”. Sebastian gets the house to himself. Good … and bad. He gets to roam every nook and cranny without me on his case about getting into places or things that should be left alone … but he’s a snuggle-bunny and my time away is time he cannot snuggle. Kaeli and I go for walks. He gets stuck inside. He’s all over me the moment I walk in the door—after he sniffs Kaeli to see where she’s been. I cannot sit down without him in my face. I love it, but just try to work on the computer or use my iPhone instead—ha! In my dreams. Well, I do manage in the end, but he shows his disdain … frequently. He purposely sits with his back to me, very erect. Then when he does curl up, he makes sure his back is to me. Sometimes he will, out of the blue, come over twitching his tail (I know to be alert for this) … then he bites my typing hand—or the hand holding the smart phone. No warning at all. If I get too busy with my writing, I’m completely unaware of my surroundings and am caught off-guard. Zap! But, even with his vacillating temperament, I love him dearly and am thankful for this purring ball of contradictions. All his kisses, cuddles, purrs … and for knowing,  when I have an ache or pain, where to curl up with his “furnace” on high to relieve it—whether my shoulder, arm, hand or neck … somehow he knows. Definitely a blessing.

I find myself polishing this piece on Friday (teehee—I am running later than usual—sorry, so I’m hoping you’ll forgive me) … the day after Thanksgiving Day.

It was a very different day for me. Though I had several invites to feast with friends and extended family, I chose to be more reclusive. My 24/7 companion, my lack of appetite (I see that as a blessing during these crazy holidays) and easily fatigued body due to the sinus infection—not to mention the disruptive cough—made it easy to justify keeping to myself. It was a delightful, laid-back, stress-free day with my fur-babies, which included a sensory-rich walk on the beach with Kaeli. Feeling sorry for Sebastian, stuck at home, I envisioned what he’d be doing: making all sorts of noises at the sight of the sand pipers, snowy plovers and seagulls—scheming how he could capture them whilst on-leash; investigating the monster piles of washed-ashore kelp and seaweed … and curious about the foamy stuff that kept rolling in just ahead of the wet stuff that made noises each time it receded. That made me smile. If only I could bring him. But, there were too many dogs. Most on-leash, but a few were leash-free and that would put Sebastian’s safety at risk.

So, now I’m recovering from my version of a busy—yet laid-back—Thanksgiving Day. It will not involve anything with the word “Black”. Nope. The only shopping I’ll be doing is restocking a few items needed for daily survival: yogurt, milk—and spending time with a friend (after she spends some quality? time shopping—foolish girl!) to dine at a favourite restaurant and then a play. With Kaeli in tow. I’m glad she’s good at waiting in the car. And that the weather is conducive to allowing her to stay in a car unattended. And just so you know, she will get a walk before and after each part of my evening activities.

I am so thankful for a blessed life, with all of its ups and downs. Hope yours is just as blessed.

 

Two final events for the year:

Friday 4 December 5:30-7:30pm  Open Ground Studios showcases its Co-Op Artists creative work, along with special guest Monterey Peninsula instructor and students. I will have my books available for signing and purchase.
1230 Fremont Boulevard, Seaside CA

Monday-Tuesday 7-8 December 9am-4pm daily Watsonville Community Hospital is hosting a Christmas Craft Fair, to include a book signing with Mystery author, Joyce Oroz and Fantasy author, dj jameson smith in their conference room.
65 Neilson Street, Watsonville, CA

Timing…

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have a blessed week.