Autumn Approaches

(This was last week’s post, but technical issues kept me from posting it. Sorry—djs)

Mmmm … AS EACH MORNING DAWNS, the chill in the air becomes more evident. I revel in the coolness that wraps around me. Even when the days intermittently manage to heat up beyond my comfort levels, and the nights have me wishing I had air conditioning, I know.

I know that the early hours of the new day will bring a cool, crispness to the air, preparing me for the deliciousness that is Fall. And, with this change in the season—which, to my dismay, is not nearly as noticeable on the Central Coast—comes the changing of the leaf colours then the dropping of leaves on the trees revealing a lovely scaffolding of dark branches against the sky.

As I wait in anticipation, the weather flip-flops back and forth between mild and barely tolerable, making predicting the weather a challenge. What to wear? Well, on the Central Coast, it’s easy—layers. It’s a safe bet that they will be shed, then most likely re-layered as the day progresses to evening, but it’s always the best way to plan in our little “Camelot”. The flip-flop weather (as I like to call it) always puts a smile on my face. Then, the mid-to late September and October are the hottest months—off and on, with Autumn and Indian Summer in full swing. This weather is not my favourite, but the knowledge that it is the harbinger to cooler (and hopefully wetter) weather gives me hope.

It’s an exciting (and very busy) time of the year for me, though I’m thinking this year may be a little crazier than most. On top of my normal preparation for book signing and/or art events, I’m scrambling to get books edited and preparing them for publishing; creating art for the book covers; climbing that steep learning curve on publishing … and, in addition, creating some new art and cards to sell. And everything has a deadline … oh, joy <as she rolls her eyes> Well, I mostly say that in jest. It really isn’t all that bad. Just a lot on my plate to contemplate at the moment.

I did have a “respite”—or sorts—from this craziness. For weeks I was dashing about to be ready for my trip to St. Louis for the wedding. I knew it would be hot. But, I’d forgotten just how hot (and humid) it could be. The melty-wish-you-were-in-a-refrigerator kind of hot. A sticky mess kind of hot. I’m so glad it was only for four days. I’m not sure I could take more. I was ready to kiss the ground when I returned home to our blessed climate. I did manage Water Lilies, Bobbing Glass Sculptures and Blooms

Sculptures at Missouri Botanical Gardento get some amazing shots of

Water Lilies

Reflections and Pond Lilies  their botanical garden, zoo and miscellaneous items, plus had a delightful time visiting with relatives as we celebrated Elephant statue at entrance to St. Louis Zoothe wedding of my niece and her sweetie (a very nice fellow—and he loves dogs, which makes him perfect <grin>). So, despite the weather, it was a fun and fulfilling trip.

I returned home, fully intending to dive into the editing/publishing bit … but I’ve Waterfall at St. Louis Zoobeen sidetracked, trying to get an estimate on my four-wheeled baby—a semi “kissed” my bumper (a slow-motion kind of affair, so I’m fine) at a Butterflies at the St. Louis Zoo!stoplight. The bumper needs replacing. Oh, bother! At least it’s “minor”—no frame damage, thank God! That’s a very good thing. And, the fact I need to have work done on the car prompted me to think I may get the damage my ladder inflicted Hole in bumperupon it fixed while I’m at it (that damage, of course, I get to pay for …) so when it’s all said and done, my little baby will be beautiful again. Hmmm … now, what about the old cracked leather seats—nope. Those will stay as is <giggle> for now.

Appointment has been scheduled (end of the month) and now I can concentrate on my creative-side activities. Books, art … yup, here I come! Diving in head-first with abandon to keep my mind off of other things.

Enjoy the photos, have a blessed weekend and week to come and I’ll see you next Friday! Cheers!


 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Mother Nature and Creativity

Whilst the Midwest and East Coast have been dealing with an extremely fickle Mother Nature, our weather on the Central Coast of California has been spectacularly beautiful the last week or so. The on again-off again wind has been a nuisance, but compared to the weather elsewhere, we cannot (or should not) complain. Chilly to simply cool mornings melding into cool to “just right” temps as the day progresses has been Mother Nature’s offering. Spring is definitely in the air. And that makes me happy!
The clouds have been amazing. Billowing cumulus (decorator clouds), the dramatic stratocumulus and cumulonimbus have paraded across our skies, keeping my eyes looking upward in awe. Late evening to early mornings have been just as delightful—our fog that rolls in and out like tidal currents makes me smile. At times, it’s a heavy blanket darkening the sky and hiding the sunsets and sunrises. Other times, it’s a white veil that caresses the hills and trees, reluctant to yield to the sun. It’s the veil-like presence that I enjoy the most. That fog that, as it finally yields to the warms of the morning air, stratifies in the nooks and crannies of the hills, finally dissipating altogether. So pretty.  As I stand at my windows watching, it reminds me of Brigadoon—the magic that happens in the mist of the morning …
And, indeed the magic of the mornings (ever so early, I might add) brings creativity. I know that I’ve been very restless (and frustrated), trying to complete the next few books in the series. It has left you, my readers, wanting more and probably just as frustrated as I am. These last few months, with my renewed energy and my mind finally bursting with more and more ideas (of all sorts—not just storylines), I find myself excited—yet even more frustrated as I realise I’ll not be able to follow through with most of them due to my trip across the Pond. Excited—but frustrated—that ideas are flowing at a rate I cannot possibly keep up with … and they come at the oddest of times. It seems 2-3 am is the most prolific creative time (insert massive eye-roll here). Seventeen years ago—when this story in my head would not go away—I was oh-so-much-younger. I was able to handle late nights and early mornings … and middle of the night “eureka moments”. Now? Well, I can still manage a few days and nights like that, but … oye vey! Sigh. Is it possible to train creativity to happen at more convenient times?? This old doddering woman needs her sleep … teehee.
Apparently not. One of my recent middle-of-the-night eureka moments produced quite a few haikus. Really? I don’t do poetry. Yet, my mind kept spitting them out—I managed to get a few written down before I finally collapsed back into my sleepy coma for what remained of the night. They’re not great, but they do adhere to the 5-7-5 rule.
Creativity/Imagination
The mind like Spring blooms
Ideas flowing anew
A canvas of words
Paintbrush poised in hand
Colours explode on canvas
Rains down settles in
I guess that’s how the mind works—at least, my mind. At these “magical hour” moments, I work out ideas for gardening, for building projects, stories—and apparently poetry in the middle of the night. It’s been a very long time since my mind was this active (maybe a year before my spinal surgery—that’d be about 3-4 years ago!). It feels good—but I sure wish it would choose daylight hours for all of these revelations … honestly (eh-hem—as I write this at that “magic” hour in the morning … which has drawn out till 4:30—good grief!). Well, at least the blog has been written.
So, my wonderful readers, even though I’m nearing the time to head off across the Pond (only a couple more weeks—yikes!) and won’t be able to concentrate fully on my edits whilst abroad, you will be able to follow me during my adventure in Ireland, Wales, England and Scotland via my blog. Then, once home and recovered from my trip, I promise to dedicate time to complete book four in the series before I go back to preparing the first three books for re-publishing. I promise!
So, as the roosters begin to announce the new day, the plan is to back to sleep for a bit, before I edit and post this piece. May your Friday and weekend be blessed abundantly! Toodles till next week.

Progressing Nicely …

 


 

GOOD MORNING! FRIDAY IS turning into an absolutely gorgeous day here on the Central Coast of California. I truly live in Camelot—um … well, except for the three-ish days of rain and horrific winds. And now, it is the calm before the storm—a small respite before the next storm comes in tomorrow … the proverbial “calm before the storm”. The weather seems to be mirroring my life right now—at least, somewhat.

The storm is gathering. So are all the things that need to be accomplished. They are piling up … and I either tackle them—quickly—or they will run me over like a bulldozer. These last few storms have been like that—slamming the Central Coast with monster wind and rain (seriously unusual for this area—and these new weather patterns seem to be morphing into the “norm”)—major flooding elsewhere in the state—and mudslides in Big Sur are hopefully not undoing what CalTrans has worked so hard to repair from last year’s storms.

Well, I wrote all of the above last week. Monday—after a damp rainy weekend—was another gorgeous day, as were the rest of the days this week. Truly wonderful weather. I think the serious rains are really done for the season. And I still have a mountain of things to tackle before my trip. But, better weather and my ever-improving health is making the list look not quite as daunting.

So much as been accomplished this week—so refreshing. Editing has happened all week, plugging away at transcribing corrections for book one, editing book four and adding words to book five. (Book two sits in limbo, waiting for me to start the edit.) It truly feels wonderful to be getting things done—two long years of recovery, with its ups and downs. I think I can finally put that problem to rest. Yay!

My upcoming trip has certainly put a fire under me. I’m even getting things done around the house and in the yard. Can you see me doing Snoopy’s happy dance? (Insert foolishly giant grin here). My give away pile is growing; I need to make dump and recycle runs and I’m knocking off things on my to-do list. Feels good. Definitely.

I’ve even celebrated two birthdays (sniggle—same person …), spent time with my writing group and worked on getting my ducks in a row for the trip (still need to purchase some euros and pounds to take with me). As I came home these last few nights, I’ve seen the amazingly bright almost-full moon shining overhead—the weather has been very kind in that regard. I’m looking forward to Saturday’s blue moon—apparently it is the second of two blue moons for 2018, if I read the information correctly. I may be up extra late (or would that be super early??) to catch it with my good camera whilst it’s at its peak—my Painterly side is even getting a boost this week! Additionally, I’ve a few incomplete watercolour paintings that I’ve been studying off and on this week, trying to decide what to do next. Both have nice qualities (trying to decide it I’ll be able to layer them together in Photoshop—I hope so. It will be the beginnings for the cover for book one.

My upcoming trip has certainly put a fire under me. Honestly! I’m even getting things done around the house and in the yard. Can you see me doing Snoopy’s happy dance? (Insert foolishly giant grin here). And it does feel good!

My give away pile is growing; I need to make dump and recycle runs and I’m knocking off things on my to-do list. Feels good. Definitely.

I’m looking forward to Saturday’s blue moon—I may be up extra late (or would that be super early??) to catch it—my Painterly side is even getting a boost! I’ve a few incomplete watercolour paintings that I’ve been studying … trying to decide what to do next. Both have nice qualities (trying to decide it I’ll be able to layer them together in Photoshop—I hope so. It will be the beginnings for the cover for book one.

… And, this week culminates with Good Friday. Seems an ironic name for the awful thing that happened a little less than 2000 years ago. Christ dying an agonising death, taking on all of our sins. ‘Tis solemn and sad … but not really. It is the beginning of a celebration. The BC cartoonist, Johnny Hart, Good Friday Explanationexplained things in a nutshell (click on the image to enlarge), don’t you think? Sunday is a new beginning—a new week, with Easter—the celebration of the resurrection of Christ. And with all the flurry happening in my life right now, I’m glad to have both Good Friday and Easter happening—both are humbling for me, centering me. Very special days to celebrate.

So, my friends, I leave you with wishes for a blessed Friday and weekend … and the week to come.

Happy Easter—he has risen.

I’m Back!

IT’S TRULY AMAZING WHAT A little vacation will do for you. Well … not"Hello September" by djamesonsmith exactly “little”—an entire month. The respite from blogging has allowed for a bit of creativity and energy to creep in. Lovely. Honestly … a wonderful Yours Truly ... Well Restedchange of heart, mind and body. And, it doesn’t hurt that I’m finally nearing the end of the “healing” mode for all the “traumas” that have happened in the last two years. Have you ever heard the saying that getting is old is not for faint of heart? Boy … is that ever an understatement.

(As always, clicking on photos will give you a larger, full view)

So, I guess a little bit of a catch-up is in order. I’ve a couple book signings under my belt, had a few cancel or become a no-go, managed to keepOpen Ground Studios muddling through on the edit for book one, get half-way through my book four’s first edit (mostly done at Open Ground Studios) … my imagination has been kick-started by seriously getting into the edit—which is a very good thing, and finally … I’ve rolled up my "Before" Weedingshirtsleeves and started the daunting task of rescuing my property from mother nature’s grips and serious cleaning and purging of all the unwanted stuff in and around my home. Gardening and housecleaning! Fun …

In my absence from the blog-o-sphere, a “once-in-a-lifetime” solar eclipse happened (have to giggle over that one— there’s another one in 2024 in the eastern US, but I guess they said that because it made a path that crossed the whole of the continental US). Though I did not see anything Solar Eclipse 2017 by Ken Pitts 2017 Solar Eclipse by Ken Pittsdue to high clouds and fog, one of my cousins up in Oregon did—and I was given permission to share Ken Pitts images.

My photography may not have profited that much from my respite, but I certainly have been able to enjoy the wildlife in my yard more. The result has been lots of quickie shots A Few Deer Gathering No Fear of MeBuckeye Butterflyof my resident deer … and plants. Lots of flora and “fawna” (teehee). I haven’t done much  trudging around anywhere to specifically take photos.Lupin on Cloudy Day at Point Lobos I’ve finally enough energy to take walks at Point Lobos again … now I simply need a time when there aren’t a ton of events on the Peninsula drawing tourists to my favourite spot. Once that happens, I know I’ll get back to a physically fit state.

These last two years have made me seriously question what I’m physically capable of doing (in a negative way) … and in this last month, I’ve been allowed (mentally) to realise I am still very capable of so many things—but, that’s another blog post entirely (insert smiley face). It’s been an eye-opener and has lifted a burden of doubt.

It has been quite a journey—made in about a months time—and I’m still trekking towards the finish line, so now that I’m back at my blogging (and a few other things I’ve thrown to the side whilst taking my vacation), I’ll be able to keep you in the loop as to my progress.

So, though this first blog entry is a wee bit late (I was having way too muchFor Me ... HOT! fun yesterday to clean it up and get it ready—I nearly forgot to add all of the photos!—waaay too much fun … teehee), I am back in the saddle. I wish you a blessed and wonderful weekend—ours will be unseasonably warm. Stay safe, stay dry … and/or cool, depending on what’s happening in your corner of the world.

Gally One and What IS This Crazy Weather …?

[Dear Readers: My apologies for the length of this blog—no good spot to cut it. Sigh.]

WELL, IT’S BEEN A VERY INTERESTING TWO weeks. Between threats of major storms, I managed to make it down to The LAX Travelodge—reasonable traffic (considering it’s LA), not bad accommodations and service for what we needed. And not too bad a walk (0.5mile—three long blocks) to the event hotel—Marriott at LAX. That is … if my knee wasn’t throwing fits and the wind was trying to turn my umbrella inside out. Still, all in all, it was not bad.

I left home on Wednesday and made my ritual over-night stop at Lebec, hoping I would be in good enough shape to trudge around taking pictures—beautiful mountainous countryside. Mmm … not if I wanted to keep my camera dry and me upright. Fits of rain intermingled with bigger fits of wind (gusts) … and exhaustion kept me from playing with my good camera. I was going to take a few Blustery Skies ...shots from the window (a south-easterly view), but really not much of a view—18-wheelers were parked between the hotel and my view. Drats. Well, this one is from my return trip.

Since I ended up with loads of “chill-time” on my hands in Lebec, I caught up on what wasForcasting Rain happening at home via my iPhone and Facebook. The beginnings of a monster storm front started to dump rain … by the time I arrived in LA (actually, Inglewood) the next day, the front had hit the entire coast line—including LA. It only took a little over 1.5 hrs to get to the Travelodge from Lebec and thankfully they were able to accommodate my early arrival (yay). So I settled in and leisurely Dr. Who Paraphinalia unpacked before trudging up to the Marriott. Registration officially opened at 3pm … so I wandered around up in the Lobby for a bit before heading downstairs—plenty to do. By the time I got down there, they were already allowing people through (around 2:15-ish). Score! No queuing, no waiting! Lovely.

Whilst waiting in the faux-line, I met two gentlemen from Canada. After I was asked a few questions—I won’t say what, as John will probably use the same ones next year … we exchanged con ribbons—not my first since I was activelyRibbon Collecting Begins seeking people out up in the Lobby to share my ribbons (and hope to get some in exchange). John and Jake turned out to be hilarious—quick, dry wit that had me in stitches. We ran into each other over and over all weekend—and they had new costumes for each day. Jake did purchase all three of my books on Saturday—I was ecstatic! If he likes them, he promised to do a review and spread the word up in Canada! Yay! Saturday was the “dress your best” day—costumes were absolutely magnificent on everyone!

I nearly forgot the two Thursday events: trip to the local InNOut Burger place (unofficial)—poor locals never know what hit ’em—and Ice Cream Social Ice Cream Socialthe ice cream social (official) … both were tons of fun (but I cheated—took a taxi A Sneak Peek at Dealer's Roomto and from the InNOut Burger spot … I vividly remember the walk last year—LOL).

Captain Jack

Captain Jack

The costuming all weekend was amazing—especially on Awesome Weeping AngelSaturday as I mentioned. Weeping Angles (very few this year, but that made the ones I saw more special), tons of different Osgood or Zygon ...? Third DoctorDoctors, oodles of Amys, Daleks, TARDIS costumes in various shapes and sizes, a delightful K-9 Lovely Cardboard K-9(full size, but of cardboard and pulled about on a leash), Osgood … oooh, the list goes on. This year, I chose to not cosplay, but rather wear a hodge-podge of Dr. Who things: 4th Doctor’s hat and scarf, question mark pin (I didn’t realise so many doctors used that—three of them to be precise … do you A Bevy of Doctors Sutek and Mummiesknow which ones without googling it?), bow tie of the 9th My "Cosplay" AttireDoctor, vest of Sarah Jane … etc. I left the Osgood lab coat in my bag—no glasses (they broke the week before I left) to make it official. I also left Sarah Jane’s raincoat behind. I didn’t want to be lugging it around—no cloak room. Next year … I plan on making my cosplay outfits (only two) much more special. Next year—that is, if I’m able to manage scoring a pass …

I did have an umbrella—a Doctor Who “special” umbrella (insert huge grin) Dr. Who Umbrella-Inside Dr. Who Umbrella-Outsidethat I found a rubber tip for (I used it as a cane on Thursday—oh, yeah … I’ll explain that later) I finally got to use it asUmbrella ... and Crutch an umbrella on Friday and Saturday. It’s gorgeous—and huge! I didn’t need any other protection and stayed relatively dry—once I worked out how to keep it from becoming a “rain collector” (sniggle) and still keep the rain off.

I scoped out the Dealers Room as early on as I couldDr. Who Pins and found my two missing pins for myA Sneak Peek at Dealers Room hat—the War Doctor and 12th Doctor (Capaldi). Yay! That made me happy!

My buddies that came down late had awesome costumes! Renée was a very posh Dalek and Pam had a dress with the exploding TARDIS. Friends' Cosplay OutfitsMichelle chose to be neutral—she’s not into cosplay, which is perfectly fine! She and I did a number of the talks together … we only occasionally saw Pam or Renée (at Gally) since they had their own agendas for the talks.

Ood

Gallifrey One was amazing, running smoothly throughout the weekend. The all-volunteer staff did a marvelous job. Kudos—to all of them—for their tireless work that made the event such a fun time. I didn’t do Best Doctor Cosplay Ever What Can You Do With Ribbons??Queen Elisabeth or Zygon ?? Dalek Ood and Nurseany of the autograph or photo sessions like I did last year as I was feeling a bit “poor”—unwilling to spend the money for the opportunities. I did attend quite a few talks, both in the main room and auxiliary rooms.  And … unfortunately, I did not go on Sunday. My injured knee (remember the “caned” umbrella? That was not a Ooooh!prop—I trashed my knee … and ankles at the end of January), using a cane instead of the crutch for two days and all the walking took its toll on yours truly. So instead, I packed up my bags, put them in the car and headed home—I was going to try to do it in one day, but knew I needed the down-time in Lebec, so I made reservations at “my” Motel 6.

My trip home was relatively uneventful … Leaving LebecStop For BreakfastOminous Cloudsuntil I was about fifteen minutes away from my house. Flooding, downed trees/power lines and road closures from slides Accumulation of Rain (Wed-Mon)Flooded CulvertDowned Trees—Across Power LinesMore Downed Trees On My StreetUmbrella Damage Umbrella Damage Umbrella Damagebrought the highway to a standstill. I attempted to take alternate routes, but the country roads couldn’t handle the amount of rain and were completely flooded, so back to the highway to wait it out with everyone else. It took over an hour to drive a normally 15-minute drive. I came home to no power and a boil water notice. A tree came down and took out the water pipe for our little community. They had it fixed by the time I got home, but contaminants were in the system (my neighbor had told me to just stay where I was, but I really just wanted to come home, so I had steeled myself for the worst). It wasn’t too bad—that’s what blankets, coats and bottled water are for … and power was back on 24 hours after I got home (still on a Boil Water order … hope that ends soon because hand-washing dishes with boiled water is a nuisance). A glass-topped table with an opened umbrella toppled over. Only damage was to the umbrella (yay) and an aluminum ladder that mysteriously moved in the winds. There’s lots of very soggy ground so I’m treading lightly. I consider myself extremely lucky. No, let me amend that comment—I am blessed. There’s no luck involved.

Many people have standing water—or even literally running water—rushing through their homes. The roads are not just flooded, but in many cases the foundation of the road has given way and whole sections of road are gone. In the case of Big Sur, slides and flooding are the least of the problem—one bridge near Pfeiffer has been deemed unsafe and will need to come down and rebuilt. Our area is not the only area that has been inundated by the storms. Dams and roads in Oroville, San Jose and Yosemite (to name o few) have been compromised with flooding and erosion. Getting out from under all of this damage is going to take time  … and money—lots of it—and I’m not sure California has planned for a catastrophe of this magnitude.

I still have to clean up around my property plus empty out my refrigerator and freezer—”better to be safe than sorry” is the adage I’m holding on to—then make a trip to the dump to toss the spoiled food. We have a few days respite before the next round comes.

My biggest concern is that I live on a hill … I’m praying that my hillside stays put.

Dear readers, please enjoy your Friday and the coming week. If you’re a praying sort, please pray for California and all of the effected residents—for their safety, for dams to hold back their burgeoning water supply and for this rain to slow to a trickle for the remainder of the rainy season.

The drought is over for the majority of the state—a blessing. Have a serendipitous week, my friends.

 

 

 

Anticipation …

TODAY, I AM FEELING LIKE A CHILD, WAITING … that delightful feeling of anticipation whilst waiting for Christmas or Easter, birthdays … or even summer vacations of long ago. Counting the days down to The Day. Well, yes … I think I will always be childlike anytime anticipation is involved. I love the thrill, the excitement … the surprise—of what will happen. What will happen?

I am gearing up for the annual (my second) Gallifrey One convention at the LA Airport Marriott. I have my con ribbons … and just submitted my pre-order for a photo-op with Colin Baker—the fourth Doctor in the series (… “my” introduction to the Doctor), a meet-and-greet of Classic Dr. Who people (including “my” Doctor) and a photo-op with Ingrid Oliver (she plays Osgood in the newer series). I’m organizing my attire—I’ll be making an attempt to cosplay Sarah Jane Smith (companion to Baker), who happened to be a reporter (so we have something … sort of … in common)—she was such a petite, young thing compared to this frumpy, “mature” author … but I will have my small remote controlled K-9 with me for good measure) and Osgood—this one should be fairly easy … hair pulled back into a ponytail, black glasses, red bow tie, 4th Doctor’s lovely scarf and perhaps a lab coat.

Last year, the whole experience was fun—newbie attendee with deer-in-headlights look all weekend, but this year … getting to meet with my favourite Doctor (possibly even Peter Davidson—5th Doctor) and Osgood, in addition to handing out my very own con ribbons—I’m expecting it to be absolutely outstanding. Last time I met any actors, I was a kid … a Nervous Nellie and certainly didn’t know what to say other than to shove a piece of paper in their faces for autographs, followed by a thank you. Here’s hoping I’m a wee bit more sophisticated and can carry on an intelligent conversation.

Even the trip south should be interesting … February. An enigma unto itself, really. No clue what kind of weather to expect—could be snowing on the way down when I get into the mountains around Lebec … or rain in Lebec and in LA with chances of land slides. Or, it could be drop-dead gorgeous … and hot in LA. One never knows—our weather has been so bizarre of late. So, yes. The El Niño has begun (in theory), but how long it will last is questionable. There’s no planning ahead. I’ll need to have multiple wardrobes at the ready to choose from for packing. Plus an umbrella. Very British, really. Teehee. Maybe next year (if I’m lucky enough to get my tickets—there’s a two minute window … honestly!) just maybe I’ll take the train into LA and hire a car for the trip to my hotel. We’ll see.

Friends are coming along, so that will make it even more fun. We will be sharing a room (or two—can’t remember) and everyone has their favourites activities and characters they want to have their photo-op with, plus there are panels to attend. Don’t know which panels I’ll sign up for because I enjoy keeping it a pretty flexible schedule. I’ll only have a couple specific times—most of the night on Friday to meet Colin Baker and the Classic crew, then the two photo-ops on Saturday and Sunday. That way I can meander through the lobby, the vendor rooms and … well, just general roaming around, passing out con ribbons and my wristbands (gotta sneak a little promotion in whilst there—teehee).

Our hotel room is about three (long) blocks away—15-20 minutes of walking several times a day … depending on where we go for meals—so we’ll get our exercise in at least twice daily, rain or shine. It’s too close to justify grabbing a taxi or hassling with finding parking for my own car (& paying for either) at the Marriott—and I have no problem with walking. Walking is fun—rain or shine. There’s lots to see when walking. And the nights … beautiful lighting. I’m not oblivious to the dangers of walking at night in the big city. I try to be smart: keep a watchful eye (very aware of my surroundings … listening and looking around as I walk—even when I’m focused on taking a photo), walk in groups whenever possible … and carry a heavy purse or umbrella.

I’m looking forward to this adventure and will keep you posted on how it turns out (with photos!) …

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.

THERE ARE MORNINGS…

DAYS AROUND HERE CAN BE SO FICKLE.  Some start off with a bang.  Wake up and the promises of sunshine and great productivity flash all around.  Energy abounds.

Other days begin with the dense fog not only hanging heavily in the sky, but in my brain, leaving me to wonder just where the day will take me.

These last few days — well, almost a week now — have been quite a mix of these sorts of beginnings.  One day, I’ll wake to sun streaming through the kitchen window, promising a beautiful day, and once the coffee kicked in, indeed, it is a magnificent, productive day.  Temperatures soar, as do my energy levels.  I love days like that, but they can be exhausting.

The next few days had me starting slow, with grey skies and chilly weather.  I felt like bundling up as we head to the middle of May.  Guess I’ll never get my ‘cold weather clothes’ put away.  I have to chuckle about that.  With the cooler weather, it takes a bit longer to get the joints moving, even with coffee.  I’m figuring that God knows when I need to slow down, and since I’m not likely to heed the obvious signs — especially if I have something that must be done, He helps out, causing me to put the brakes on, thankfully!  But, I think I wish I would just remember to take days slower, rather than deal with the physical reminders laid before me.

Then, the weather bounces, from one day to the next, from delightful and balmy, to gloomy and cold weather, then back again.  Winds pick up, die down, only to resume once again.  One never knows what to expect from day to day.  And, it depends on where I am, also.  If I’m home (inland) and it’s gorgeous, that does not necessarily mean I’ll encounter the same weather on the peninsula…and vise versa.  But, then again, it could be the same weather in both places.  Makes me shake my head.

Dress for warm and bring layers to stay warm in Spring, Summer and Fall (and dress for cold and bring added layers for Winter).  That’s my mantra.

With my Writerly side busting to get back to work and my Painterly side — oh…and then there’s the Administrative side (having to deal with both of the other two…poor thing!).  Hmmm.  I thought I only had two sides.  Well, that makes me more than multi-dimensional, yes?  I’m giggling.  Rambling, too.  I am so sorry.

As I was saying, my Writerly side wants to get back to work, but until the two exhibits are over and done, it’s pouting in the corner, poking and prodding at me now and then.  The bruises are beginning to hurt.  Writing my blog does not satisfy it at all any more.  Though, I always will enjoy writing these posts, the writer in me wants to bring my manuscript to a conclusion…wrap it up (aka–finish editing!), get it published — so I may start on a new writing venture I’ve had bouncing around in my brain, trying to find a way to escape before I’m ready for it.  And, for that matter, so do I.  I had set aside April and May to do just that.

I am so excited about these two art exhibits of my fledgling work.  Definitely an ego booster, but also an extremely energy-sucking side-tracker.  I can only do one thing at a time.  So much for multi-tasking.  I used to be so good at it.  No more, I fear…

So, until 26th May, I will continue my juggling act with the Writerly and Painterly sides.  Sunday will be a day of rest, then onward, hanging up my Painterly cap and donning my Writerly cap to completing my manuscript.  My blog posts may be few and far between until it’s done, but at least you’ll know I’m working hard to reach my goal.

May your last days of May hold much hope and blossom into a beautiful June.

Seasons

THE RISING SUN STREAMS IN LOW, lighting the far side of the kitchen floor. As I stand in front of the coffee maker, attempting to prepare my much needed first cup of the day, the sun drills into the corner of my right eye, making it difficult to measure the water.  It also warms me on this chilly morning, which reminds me that all too soon, part of my morning routine will be to dash outside to lower the shade across the window. A race to block the heat as the sun’s penetrating fingers try to grasp onto my nice, perpetually cool living space.

For now, I am allowed the joy of soaking up the radiant heat, as I wait for the coffee to finish brewing.  I’ll worry about too much heat later.

Only a week earlier, I was wondering when I would ever put my winter clothes away.  I live in the questionable state of ‘Sunny California’. Well, that’s what people that don’t live here call it.  Oh– and probably the California Tourist Board.

The only places you will find with almost daily sunshine would be in the desert — and perhaps the Central Valley.  Even Los Angeles has its fair share of overcast, gloomy days.

Here in the north-western edge of Central California, we could have winter-like days just about any day of the year.  This nearly drove us crazy. At least in Southern California, amidst the smog and overcast, the summers were reasonably warm.

When we first moved up here, my husband and I found that the ‘summer’ weather toyed with us–gorgeous, with a little overcast mornings during most of the week days (whilst we toiled inside buildings), then, as the weekend approached, gloom would set in. Our real ‘summer’ weather came in a two to three week chunk, in very late September or October. Our weather forecaster calls it “Local’s Weather”.   Then, with clear skies, it could get unbearably hot–at least for me–climbing to the 80’s and 90’s.  The rest of the year, we became accustom to dressing in layers, never knowing what the day might bring.

Which leads me back to my initial question.  I would love to think that my thermals, heavy socks and turtle necks will go into my ‘winter box’ soon, but the weather has been so bizarre lately, I am beginning to wonder.  Several times, I’ve started to collect them for storage, but a cold snap or high winds with a damp undercurrent digs its heels in, so I hold off for yet another week or so.

Such extremes.

Maybe it’s just my bad memory, but I really don’t recall the weather being quite this fickle, nor this extreme.  Our high winds usually come in January. Maybe February, at the very latest, bringing with it beautiful storms. Rain, decorator clouds. The clouds came, but no rain and very little wind during the usual timing. Now, it’s past the middle of April, time for gentle rains, yet we get 30-50 mph winds on occasion.  Higher constant winds than usual–not the gentle breeze I’ve become accustom to over the years.  No rain (well, maybe a teensy bit). Some gorgeous clouds, yes, but the rain bypassed my little corner for the most part.  That means I have to do more watering to keep the status quo for my yard.  It also means my grassy/weedy areas will die off faster, turning to the dangerous dried kindling for fire season, which means I get to trudge amongst the poison oak and whack at the weeds to keep my home safe from fires.

These freakish seasons seem to be taking root and becoming the standard.  I am not sure I like that.  I love and embrace changes–it’s what life is all about, but I also cherish the predictability of the seasons the Central Coast has given us over the years.  It’s my security blanket in my ever-changing life, filled with ever-changing seasons.

I have to laugh!  As I wrote that last sentence, I felt a mental ‘tap’ on my shoulder.  Well, it’s the ‘physical’ security blanket.  I have a far more enduring security blanket in my God.  Never changing, always present, always willing to listen what I have to say (whether good or bad), always willing to instruct, aid, heal, envelope me in times of need, placing earth-bound angels in my path to help me as needed…as he did yesterday…

And for all of that–and more–I find myself always praising and thanking Him.  It is because of Him that I am able to deal with all the changing seasons that make up my life, whether weather-related, relational or physical.  He makes me smile…and laugh.  So, when you see my smile or hear my laughter, you now know why.

I hope you are able to find peace in your ever-changing seasons of Life.

God be with you.

Winter Gardening and Chores — NOT

AS I LOOK OUT TO THE BEAUTIFUL, BRIGHT day outside, I know there is deception in that beauty.  Living along the Central Coast of California, we are normally spoiled with relatively mild winters, where it dips into the 40s at night (oh, maybe an occasional 35).  Our summers are equally mild, with highs in the 70s and on an odd day or two, mid-80s.  Sunset Magazine states that we have a climate similar to the Mediterranean region of Europe.  A prized climate, to be sure.  Something that makes the thought of moving to another region of the US unthinkable — even sacrilegious for the locals.  I’ve thought about moving, but it’s only been a fleeting thought.  It’s far too beautiful here and the weather cannot be beat!

But, over the last few years, the weather has been downright unpredictable, with bizarre ups and down in temperature and rainfall.  This year, I think we’ve already had more rain than we usually have for an entire season.  Now, we have unusual, cold weather.  The cold has become not unlike an unwelcome visitor that has stayed well beyond what is deemed ideal.  A day or two of freezing is fine.  But the ground is actually frozen now.  Not good for all those Mediterranean-climate plants, certainly.  Nor for me, apparently.

Every time I go out to work in the garden, or to do a chore, I find myself making a hasty retreat to the relative warmth of the house.  It’s truly sad for someone that loves (or, should I make that past tense?) brisk days, finding warmth in the “exercise” of working in the yard.

Photo: My little blue birdbath, with its resident gnome and rock, has managed to completely defrost daily -- until today...

My little blue birdbath, with its resident gnome and rock, has managed to completely defrost daily — until today…

Living on the north slope of a hill has its good points and its bad points.  It blocks the worst of the bad weather systems that come in (brownie points there).  Getting very little, if any, direct sunlight is definitely a very, very bad point.  Nothing warms up.  Or dries out.  Our heavy rains from the last two months have made the soil so damp that it is freezing rapidly, then holding the cold and not thawing.  So with each night, hovering between 27-29 degrees, the soil freezes more and more.  Our days hover around 38-45.  And the air is filled with humidity.   Very cold, moist air, stirred up by a gentle breeze making it feel much, much colder than it already is.

I guess I’m sounding like an old lady complaining about the weather.  Lamenting that I cannot get out and play in the dirt — or even socialize with my hilariously adorable hens or my dog — without freezing some important assets.  Very sad, indeed.  I love being outdoors.  I look longingly through the windows at the beauty beckoning me to come out and play.  I tippy-toe out, ‘play’ for all of five minutes and then, when I can’t stand it any longer, find myself back inside, behind closed windows once again, listening to the heater cycle on and off and on again.

The weatherman has forecast at least four or five more days of this stuff.  There’s so much to be done outside.  Well, perhaps, I’ll dress in layer upon layer, looking like the Michelin Man, so I can be warm.  Hopefully I’ll still be able to move about enough to get the chores done.  Anything to get back outside.  I just hope no one will be watching with a camera.

And, maybe I’ll start thinking about moving again…to somewhere warmer.