Yard Work and Accomplishments

ITS BEEN A QUIET WEEK, DESPITE the busyness of preparing for the book signing/art show at Harvest Jubilee in Salinas over last weekend. Sunday was supposed to be a “chill” day, but I had enough energy reserves, I decided to putter in my yard.

You really cannot truly appreciate the results of the work done in my yard by the three guys that worked their tails off a week ago. I’m embarrassed to post any photos to show how much was done, but let’s just say that all they had to deal with was the results of not being able to do much for about two years! There’s still tons of work to do, but things look so good, I’m thinking that alone has given me quite a bit of energy!

Our tinder-dry state (plus the urgings from CalFire to bring my property into compliance)—and the horrific fires we are experiencing both north and south of us are incentive enough to get things cleaned up. I need to call my gardener and find out when they will return to continue the cleanup process. In the meantime, I’m in the yard as often as possible, cleaning up what I can. And it’s nice to be able to really see the fruits of my labour. Gives me the incentive to get back out and keep working. Ooh, and it is a very good feeling. I’ve even taken the time to finally pot a few of the plants that have languished in their tiny containers. I’ve pulled others to safety from potential browsing by my resident deer (my bunny condo has been turned into a safety zone for my plants for now), placed a wire guard over a raised bed—after taking a ton of mulch and dumping it into the bed, adding a few onions that ended up “passed edible usage”, but were still producing greens (yum) and, well, in general I’ve been busy making the yard more presentable between weeding stints.

My yard is a work in progress—just like I am (insert huge grin …)—it will take many more trips to the dump (yard waste and trash), lots of fighting with poison oak (ugh … not me—unfortunately my gardener and his crew get that privilege). Oh—and there’s the pruning of trees (they must have no branches hanging down lower than 6-8 feet). Hand saw is not going to do the job—at least not in my hands (pout) …

I’m falling in love with my yard all over again. Wheeee! Even when I have it back to within CalFire’s guidelines … I’ll keep going, bringing it back to its former glory—including a koi pond … a real one, not the “temporary” small trough I have been using for sooo maaany years. That’s the plan … and I’m sticking to it! I’m so tickled with the progress that I’m still trying to decide—I’ve such a roller coaster of emotions about this—whether I put off traveling abroad one more year so I can get this vision of what the yard will be done … I’m so conflicted! I’ll have to decide soon. I will send my money in for the CIV tour and keep planning for the other parts of it. I’ll just need to keep an eye on the deadline for withdrawing from the tour so I don’t lose the money … again!

May each of you have an amazing weekend and may this upcoming week unfold serendipitously (sniggle … Word’s dictionary doesn’t like that word—too bad!)! Have a great week!

Don’t forget to check the updated events calendar (at the bottom of my Amazon Author’s page):
amazon.com/author/djjamesonsmith
Next event is Saturday, November 4, 2017 in Aptos, CA

I’ve Been Pondering … Deeply | Part Two

YES, I’M STILL FREAKING OUT OVER THIS decision of cutting myself off from overseas travel—well … maybe not as much as I was when I first started thinking about this. I did promise two friends I’d visit their country … no, make that three friends … and now it looks like I’m going to have to renig on my promises. That’s something I seldom do. If I make a promise to do something, I like to keep it. But, sometimes, things get in the way … like finances—and, in the case of the three locations (India, Australia and Hong Kong)—distance plays heavily into the decision.

I’ve been trying to figure out how I could physically manage about 18 hours in the air. With my body’s slow meltdown after October, 2013 (I’ve had good times and not so good times—I never know when each will hit), there’s no way. Finances … well, I could probably figure that one out eventually (pull from “Peter” to pay “Paul” …), but the time spent in the air is a biggie. Even for a trip to/from across the Pond. I’m not thrilled about the travel time required for my 2016 visit to the UK and beyond, but I’ve already committed myself to this trip. And if I do decided to go business cla$$ (haven’t decided as yet), it’s going to eat into what I will be able to afford in the future.

A couple of friends have suggested to make the decision on a trip-by-trip basis: plan it, see how I’m doing … then if I’m doing well, make the commitment to go. If not, then … well obviously, don’t. Hmmm. I may have to take that under consideration. But in the meantime, I think … since I have time before my next big planned trip (after the 2016 trip … pattern is every two years or so), I think I will play with the shorter, on-my-continent trips to see how I do. There’s plenty to see in the States … and I have yet to make it up to Alaska, which is on my bucket list (actually, was on my husband’s list, too … and I still have some of his ashes destined for—hmmm … maybe Anchorage … or Denali National Park?) so, I’ll just have to see how that pans out. Right?

Looking at things in the short term is appealing, too. Long range planning is hard. Doable, but hard. Planning ahead a week, a month … even a couple months out is so much easier. Forking out deposits nine-plus months in advance, then paying the balance six-months out (to get the best discounts) for the delightful Celtic Invasion Vacations tour does have it’s drawbacks. With closer to home, shorter trips, costs should be more manageable also, allowing for more travel (insert huge grin here).

So, this is what I’ll do. For now. Hmm. Now, if I can just find the time … and solve Kaeli’s scrounging/scarfing issues, I’d be set.

Well, folks, I’m back to diving into last minute planning and creating art for my upcoming—yikes! It is just over a month away—painterly exhibition at Open Ground Studios. Deadlines loom (Sunday!!). Prior to the opening, I’ll have all of the art documented and live on my SquareMarket website for those of you unable to make it to the event due to conflicts (excuses like distance or prior commitments are allowed—wink).

 

Open Ground Studios showcases it’s Co-op Members artistic talents in an exhibition from November 25, 2015 – January 20, 2016
Debra Jameson Smith’s art and fantasy series will be on display
The Opening and Holiday Party 5:30-8:30pm will be December 4, 2015
1230 Fremont Boulevard • Seaside California

 

 

My Journey Has Begun…And Then Some

Personal note to my readers: I apologize for being late getting this posted–spotty internet connections are to be expected when traveling…especially when using hostels. It’s been a pleasant change of pace to be so “disconnected”, but on the other hand, I do have commitments that I should be keeping, so I’m sorry for that. Now, onward to my post:

IT”S ALREADY A BLUR…BUT I’M having fun–still! With internet being very spotty in the countryside (at least the places I’ve been staying), I’ve been working on the blog as best as I can offline…then planned to post when I had a steady connection, which I finally do have (yay), now that I’m back to the ‘civilized’ world of Crawley (West Sussex, south of London).

I’ve had plenty of adventures…and misadventures (that’s what makes it so fun–all the surprises that pop up, right?)

Let’s see…without my blog handy, I’m not sure where I left off. I’ve posted bits on the business Facebook page (in addition to my personal page), so I’m getting confused. I’ll save the Celtic Invasion Vacation (CIV) tour of Wales for another post. Let’s just say there was a lot of vertical walking involved to see some of the most spectacular sights. I’m tired, but glad–so very glad that I took the time and effort. Snowdon Mountains are magnificent.

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On left: within Snowdonia Nat’l Park in Wales…it is amazingly beautiful. On right: breathtaking view in Snowdonia Park.

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Ending week three: I ‘left’ most of the CIVers the night before as they all left for their flights early in the morning. I had breakfast with the remaining three, then one was off for a little adventure in Cardiff (to the Dr. Who Experience) before returning the next day for his flight. The remaining  couple and I hopped the train for downtown Manchester. We said our goodbyes then they went their way and I headed to the O2 store to sort out my personal wifi. Well, I did get it working, but, it still has it’s issues–apparently, it’s not that good…or the service in the area is not that good. I haven’t been able to use it much. I do look forward to getting back to Ireland, where I know the connection is far more reliable.

So, my first week away from the CIVers has been quiet. No internet at the hostel, but I don’t mind it much, since the beauty and serenity that surrounds Leominster is fabulous. It was the getting there that was a bit sketchy. No wifi (yeah…that personal wifi I bought for the UK? Not much good), and the satellite was in and out, so I just gave up on using Gabby (my GPS–satnav for those that live over here), too. I’ve had quite a few walks, exploring all the nooks and crannies that make up Leominster (pronounced Lemster). I watched a cricket practice, took quite a few pictures–there are some beautiful churches in and around Leominster. Some are on my iPhone, some on my other two cameras (setting are for higher resolution shots). I’ll make sure to add some to this blog.

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The Priory Church of St Peter and St Paul in Leominster, still has active services.

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On right: Some of the beautiful stained glass windows as seen from the inside of the Priory

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Here’s another church (didn’t see what the denomination or name was) in downtown Leominster.

I did have a wee bit of a misadventure on Tuesday. It was the best day this week, weather-wise, for a trip out and about. There were threats of rain that didn’t appear until I was almost back home. That was good. But, my plan was to go into Cardiff to see if I could sneek a visit to the Dr. Who Experience. Without wifi or GPS, it was fun trying to find my way, but I managed it just fine with the basic map (available on both GPS and iPhone–no secondary streets available), and with the aid of a wonderful server at Y Mochyn Du, a pub in Cardiff (wonderful selection of food, lovely atmosphere!), where I stopped for my lunch. He was very helpful, but even with that, I did a bit of bumbling around. I eventually found it…I had a very nice long walk, wandering around, looking at the city as I searched (I often laugh at people that get flustered when they can’t find what they’re looking for, missing out on the cool things around them in the process)…

Did I mention it was Tuesday? I proudly walked up to the entry…and…saw a sign saying it was closed on Tuesdays. All I could do was laugh out loud. People waiting at the bus stop nearby turned and stared, but I didn’t care.  I just shook my head, pulled out my camera and changed my plans. If I’d been able to get on line proper-like, I’d have found out it was closed Tuesdays (and remembered that one of the CIVer’s probably mentioned that fact). Oh, well. I spent the next several hours snapping shots of interesting things: The Millenium Centre, the BBC Wales complex, the exterior of the Dr. Who Experience, wharfs, new and old buildings…it was fun. And tiring.

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Did I mention it was Tuesday? The “closed” sign that glared in my face through the window…sigh.

Directional signs in Cardiff

On right: So many things to see and do…as long as it’s the right day (wink)…

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Millenium Centre from across the bay in Cardiff.

One of the Cardiff Sightseeing Tour buses (you’ll find one or two of these business in nearly every big city over in the UK, Ireland and Europe) pulled up into the lot just ahead of me and I dashed to catch it. These sightseeing buses are great (I should have grabbed one right off, right?) for checking out the sights, identifying the areas you want to focus on and getting a little bit of history of the city you happen to be in.

I didn’t have enough cash on me and he didn’t take credit cards, so he said he’d wait till I could pop into the ATM across the way–so sweet of him (I have not run into anyone that hasn’t been overly helpful with me–courtesy abounds in my travels)…I dashed off to acquire money and returned. After plunking my money down, I climbed the stairs to the open top and settled in. A beautiful afternoon, a huge city to explore by bus and I was able to sneak in a rest, on top of it. Good deal. After a while, I was too tired to even take photos, so I just sat back and listened as the tour lady talked about the different aspects of the city’s history. To think, as a kid I hated history. There is so much to learn about our world, both past and present.

The drive home took longer than planned. I was still tired and looking forward to crashing in my room. I think the 1.5 hour drive took closer to two plus hours…it was rush hour, both in the city and in the country. I think things finally settled down once out of Herefordshire (that’s about 2/3 the way back). Crazy traffic.

Have I mentioned the craziness with the speed limits? First I’m cruising at 60, then suddenly, I need to be all the way down at 30 to go through a town…then back up to 60 (or maybe 50…depending on the area). It’s fun trying to keep track. At least my GPS was able to recognize the posted speeds, so I was able to stay at the correct speed. You need to realize I’m talking about two lane roads (not dual carriageways or highways, as we know them)–the ones we’d label as secondary or even, at times, tertiary roads. HIgh hedges, no shoulder…an occasional turn out, in case you come across a large bus or truck and need to squeeze by…interesting.

Originally, when I came to Leominster, it was a place to lay my head, to use as a place to come back to after a day of driving out and about. My car only left the car park once for a day out (and you know how that ended)… I think I want to come back to Leominster and the surrounding areas again (but I’ll stay in a B&B next time–not that I didn’t enjoy my stay…it’s just that a few more amenities would be nice)–there’s lots to see here: steeped in history, gardens & arboretum, entire towns of brick, walking paths, biking paths (wish I had a bicycle!)…so, so much to see! Now that I’ve discovered it is a destination in itself, there’s no way I can see it all in the few days I have left.

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Narrow passage way for foot traffic only with great little shops.

Tomorrow is my last full day. On Friday, I must pack up and check out to head to Sussex for four days before I visit with friends in Colchester. It’s a 3.5+ hour drive, so I’m hoping to get out by 10-11am…

My last full day is Thursday. I am excited. I’m hoping to get a first-hand experience with bell ringers as they practice in The Priory Church next door. I keep getting little tastes of what they’ll be doing every once in a while. It’s lovely, really. Kayleah, the receptionist is tired of hearing it every. single. week…it’s sad, really. Just not her thing, I guess…I’m very excited…

As it turned out after I heard them practice, I was just about to leave, when they asked if I wanted to hear the final four bells–they were saving those for last, I guess. Of course, I said yes. It was amazing to hear the higher note (treble) bells, but the deeper (tenor) bells were brilliant. The resonating happening was beautiful.

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A little lesson about the ringing of bells.

Bell Ringing 101The gentleman in blue (subbing for the actual leader, who was unavoidably late) syncs the ringers, telling them which bell is to ring before or after another. Really, kind of fascinating. He will also scold, especially if one of the newer ringers is doing something wrong…too slow or too fast in following a fellow ringer, standing incorrectly, twisting as he pulls the rope, etc. But he’s an equal opportunity guy–he’ll scold the more seasoned ringers, too. It all makes a difference.

Bells Pealing… This is what I heard as I left the church. Before I left, at the end, they did ask if I wanted to ring the bells. I desperately wanted to say yes, but knowing my shoulders, if I did something wrong, I’d be paying for weeks, so I reluctantly declined. They then told me a previous guest had done it and didn’t listen to the instructions and ended up on the floor. So wish I’d given it a try and proved a non-ringer could manage it without looking like a fool.

Hopefully the two above links to the short bits of bell ringing work (never posted a video before). Unfortunately, I am limited to 50mb–the better ones are 80-150mb…I’ll have to figure out where I can load them and post a link later for those of you interested.

So, there you go. That sorta catches you up to just before I left Leominster.

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…

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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.

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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.

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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)

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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.

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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?