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David and the Goliath of Progress …


 

WELL, I MADE THE MISTAKE OF implementing the most recent WordPress update—prior to posting my last blog entry. Updates are supposed to be improvements. For this particular update, absolutely not. Even as I write this, I can see it will not be saved. Trying to manually update entries as I type is a fail. And it appears there are mixed messages as to whether it actually saves what I write in the automatic mode as well. It seems there are a number of features I liked that have gone by the wayside as well—like the tagging and advance posting abilities. I don’t see them anywhere! Still not sure how much of this new system works, or if there are some serious bugs that need vanquishing …

Maybe those features are there, I just don’t see them (that in itself is a negative!).

Sometimes progress is not progress at all. That is the kind of thing I have no time for—not at all. Facebook is always making changes in the name of “progress” and to make it more user-friendly—not! Well, there may be a few changes that have been positive, but I’d say that the majority make “life on Facebook” not nearly as fun. I’m beginning to feel the same about WordPress.

With WordPress’ new editor, it appears I’m stuck writing my paragraphs in “blocks”, which is weird. Is it simplified for dummies or is there some hidden reason behind it? I really don’t know, but this dummy sure can’t figure it out. Like I said before—I do have a problem with changes that don’t seem to have a reason—especially when the whole process is not explained sufficiently. If there was a tutorial somewhere, then that would be fine—but make it easy to fine, please! We’re not all Einsteins, after all …

I went into the Help arena and already—on day two of the change—a knowledgeable person is saying it’s a great step … backwards. That is as far from being “user friendly” Boy, can I agree on that point! I plan on doing more research in the help section and on my site, but not at the moment.

More research—that is exactly what I did. The above was written on Sunday. It took me a while, but I was able to figure out how to switch back to Classic Editor. Thank God! I’m not sure how long that will last, since these kind of changes (with options to use the “old way”) usually take away the fall-back option at some point. Unless they fix all of their glitches or have some sort of tutorial, I will be grieving the loss of a user friendly site for blogging. Whether I will move on or struggle to learn the “new way” is yet to be seen. As the old saying goes, “only time will tell …” Sigh.

This “David” feels overwhelmed and thinks the Goliath of Progress is about to take a win this time around. But the fight is far from done. Perhaps David will prevail yet.

<giggle … > Well, score one for Davif—an update came out yesterday—updated automatically. So, we’ll see how things go.  That doesn’t mean I’ll switch to the “new and improved” version anytime soon—but the update is a step (I hope) in the right direction.

In the meantime, on other technology fronts, did I ever mention that I acquired (for free) a behemoth of a printer for my studio? An Epson. I do love the Epsons. This one is not new—the date on the back is Dec, 2002—a dinosaur in technological terms. Hmmm. Maybe that’s why, once I rolled up my sleeves, it only took a couple days to figure it out. Lines in the printed image sorted out after four hours of tinkering—without having to resort to buying seven new, very expensive ink cartridges, nor an equally expensive service call. (It’s not a bad thing, since I paid nothing but sweat equity for the unit. I’m on a natural high—things are going my way for a change! Yay!

David-1, Goliath-0 in this round.

There are other tech issues waiting for me, but I’m going to bathe in this win for a bit before moving on to the next techno-problem.

And with that, I am going to bid you adieu.  May your Friday, weekend and week to come be filled with triumphs, no matter their size. Have a blessed week. See you next Friday!

Plan B May Be Plan A

I AROSE QUITE EARLY (for me) on Tuesday. I’m not sure what possessed me to do it … other than I wanted to catching the sun rise with a beautiful backdrop of clouds. I was sure the display would—should—be breathtaking. So, from the comfort of the house, looking east out my kitchen window, I waited. (Click on images for more detail.)Predawn image

As I waited, the predawn songs of the earliest risers floated to my ears, warming my heart. A singular songbird, then a scrub jay … then the roosters. Bit by bit the air was fillled with song, making me smile.

My Wunderground Weather app said “first light” was at 6:34. “Sunrise” was at 7:04. I waited. The last time I tried this, I was in place for “sunrise” and the display (if there was any at all) was completely done by the time I arrived at the window. I’ve tried to get myself going on many occasions so I could enjoy the lit-up sky, to no avail. Sandman kept pummelling me, telling me sleep was far more important.

Cloudy sky image“First light” came and went with only the moody monotone clouds. Beautiful, but not what I had hoped for. Patiently, I waited. I was greeted with birds of all sizes at my strategically placed feeders. Nuthatches, sparrows of all types, a solitary scrub jay … seeing them brought joy to my heart. Sunrise imageAs “sunrise” approached, only the faintest blush of colour painted the clouds. Nice. I waited. And waited—with great anticipation. A bit more of a dusting of colour painted the clouds … but nothing more. Sunrise imageMy heart sank. I was truly looking forward to God’s glory in the form of a robust, colourful blaze in the sky. Apparently there were far too many unseen clouds somewhere, obscuring what I figured should have been a spectacular sight. My wait for a broad stroke of beautiful colours was disappointing, but the sights and sounds of the morning waking dampened the disappointment considerably. Cloudy sky imageThen I remembered something a friend said at a church gathering the night before. She was talking about when plans go astray. To put it in a nutshell, what she was trying to say was our plan B (or C) may be God’s plan A. It’s a good lesson for me to hold onto, since my plans seldom go as anticipated. It’s taken a long time to realise, but now I seldom stress over it—always “chilling” and seeing where the new path will lead me. I’ve never thought about why the plans didn’t go as I wanted. I should know better—after all, I’ve tried to direct my story (series) the way I wanted and learned the hard way that I’m not in control … never was!

Christmas lights and trees imageThat Tuesday morning, I enjoyed the glory of hearing and seeing the first sights and sounds of an early morning … and enjoyed the subtle blush of the sunrise. Whether I find myself planning another early rise or not, I know I need to simply enjoy God’s plan A.

May your Friday and this upcoming weekend and week to come be filled to overflowing with wonderful, serendipitous plans—whether they be your Plan A … or God’s.

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:

 

Thankful for Family …

Happy Thanksgiving weekend to all.

‘Tis a day early, I know. And not much to say, except I am so thankful for family get together! Time with family has taken precedence over a blog this week—my apologies. Next post will be 30 November 2018.

Until next week, stay safe; be kind; be thankful.

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.

 

 

Killing Time and Art

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Fall … And All That Entails!

FALL, AUTUMN … WHATEVER YOU prefer to call it—it is definitely here. And, with it comes chillier weather, an urgency to complete outdoor (and some indoor) chores before the rains come—hopefully they will (one never knows whilst living amidst a drought), a countdown to the Holidays … and a writing frenzy.

Halloween came and went quite unceremoniously in my home. I did dress up in my Celtic garb, but did not do the usual trunk-or-treat festivities at my church—didn’t think I’d be up to it because of a tooth extraction and a few other health issues. By the time I realised I’d be okay, it was too late. So, I snuggled up on the couch, buried under a quilt and heated blanket to watch the Hallmark Channel—yeah … I am a sucker for the sappy shows they air every year around this time.

Heated blanket, you say? Yes, we’ve past our Indian Summer—which never really happened here for some reason … we went straight from summer to chilly autumn weather. Well, we did have an occasional warmer than usual day, but mostly chilly to mild days. But it’s definitely chilly—especially in the mornings and evenings, so that heated blanket gift I received last year has come in quite handy. Oh, definitely!

Hmmm … I’m good at getting off track, aren’t I ?

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

These last couple weeks of no blogging have had me quite the busy girl—mostly dealing with medical issues and trying to get my photography turned into art (I have over two hundred images I’ve tinkered with) for my upcoming book signing/art events—first one is on November 4th in Monterey—the date of the time change <UGH>. Then the craziness begins, because between events, I am up to my eyebrows in NaNoWriMo— that annual, crazy writerly event where writers around the world attempt to create a 50,000 word novel in thirty (30) days. That

National Novel Writing Month

Pencils sharpened, computer charged…ready to go!

requires me writing 1670 words daily … or an accumulation of that if I miss a day or two … or more! I’m going to use this time to attempt to finish book five.

The troublemaker—long and skinny, Word and my computer are not liking it and refuse to cooperate. Sigh

Right now, my primary focus is getting my computers and printer to communicate properly! The printer I took to Open Ground Studios doesn’t seem to like the written word. It will print images, no problem—let me take that back … it doesn’t like one long and skinny image I’m trying to print <pout>. The computers will write words (I’m so glad), but have decided to be stubborn about how—and where—I put images into a Word document (haven’t figured out if I’ll be able to print those words out on my OGS printer). It’s driving me up a wall—of course, all of this happens as I’m trying to come up with new material for the Painterly side of my events <pout> Sigh. I think I simply need to take a step back … breathe … and allow my mind to sort things out. On Thursday—in the wee hours—I came up with an idea. But I’m also wondering about the possibility of a virus of some sort. Only time will tell. But, you do remember how much I like electronics, right? <insert dark grey cloud over my head … raining on my parade!>

Until next Friday, have a delightful time this weekend and through this next week. Hope you survive the time change! Have a blessed weekend!

Event Schedule through November, 2018

Sunday, 4 November   9am-2pm. DON’T FORGET TO SET YOUR CLOCKS BACK !
Book Signing/Art at Holiday Fair
Moose Lodge, 555 Canyon Del Rey Blvd, Monterey

Friday-Sunday, 9-11 November 1-6pm (Fri), 10am-6 (Sat), 10am-3? (Sun)
Book Signing/Art at Watsonville Elks Holiday Craft Show
121 Martinelli Street, Watsonville CA

Saturday-Sunday, 17-18 November  9am-5pm (both days)
Art/Book Signing at Aromas Hills Artisans Holiday Fair
400 Rose Avenue, Aromas CA

Thursday 23 November HAPPY THANKSGIVING DAY!

Tuesday-Wednesday 27-28 November Christmas at the Inns 5-8pm
Pacific Grove sponsored event: visit 3-4 Inns/B and Bs in Pacific Grove to see their beautiful Christmas displays whilst enjoying hot apple cider, cookies and music of the season.
I will be wandering through each location, taking photos for next year’s Christmas card selection.
Pick up your tickets at the Pacific Grove Chamber of Commerce.

Thursday-Friday, 29-30 November    9am-5pm
Book Signing/Art at the Holiday Craft Fair at Watsonville Community Hospital
75 Neilson Street, Watsonville CA

 

When Things Don’t Go Your Way …


 

LIFE KEEPS MOVING forward but I’m not so sure I’m ready to … there are too many things not going the way I’d like. Can I get a mulligan on this last month? Well … it’d probably have to be a few years with my luck and I’d rather not go back that far.

My author friend, Joyce Oroz, and I finished up a lovely book signing in Salinas  on Saturday—if was fun and we both sold some books. That’s always a good thing.

But, as I mentioned before, there were more not going my way than the things that did. Among them: more health issues. I’m so finished with all of that. But apparently they aren’t done with me. So, I’ve been doing lots of “popcorn prayers” to get me through. And I move on (mostly)—despite the problems.

I finally have a few half-days (or more) of “clear” time to work on being productive … well, now I have a few less than desired, but I’ll take what I can get at this rate. The list of “Must Do” items is awfully long, yet all I want to do it hit the trails—at Point Lobos—to clear my mind. I need to listen to my body if I want to be productive.

Sigh. Even trying to get this post done is becoming a royal nuisance—I’m still having electronic issues … wifi still on the fritz and now my only source of internet (my iPhone) is acting up. Can’t even get photos loaded <pout>

I think I’m going to take a break (yeah … I know—I just did that) to try to sort things out. I’m so sorry. I’m thinking that trip to Point Lobos may be a necessity—to help me figure things out in my head a wee bit so I can get things back on track.

So, again … my apologies, but I’ll be back after Halloween on November 2nd. Have a blessed two weeks. Toodles!

Spinning My Wheels …


 

THAT WASN’T THE PLAN” … SEEMS like  a reoccurring theme these last few weeks. <insert eye roll> Plans have been going wonky—off kilter for some time now. This week has been no different. Actually worse.

This week has turned into one that is very doctor-centric: appointments, phone calls—and physical therapy (in the office setting & trying to find time to do “homework”. The therapy will be on-going until (at the-minimum) the first week of November. The way things are going, I can easily see it stretching out to near Christmas which is not making me very happy. First week wasn’t too bad, but with this second week, I feel like I’m going backwards. And … I’ve a tooth that’s requiring a new root canal, so I’ll be bouncing back and forth between endodontist and my general dentist for a while. So much fun …

In the meantime, my weekends are set aside for book signings, I even have one event where I’m a panelist (wheee!) instead of selling books and I’m still scrambling to get any photography off the computer and into print form with any success for the Painterly/Writerly events. Have I mentioned I’m beginning to hate technology (even more than usual)? Great when it’s working, but a nightmare when some little thing goes wrong … sigh. I’ve got lots of little things sproinging all over the place <giggle—what else can I do …>

With all that’s happening, time for art seems to have taken a back seat since it’s hard to concentrate and editing takes even a bigger allotment of focus. I couldn’t even manage a blog post last week. I actually took one day to not do any of the things I needed to be doing and let my day flow naturally. It felt good.

I need more days like that. Many more days like that! I need to unhook from technology and get my hands dirty, playing in the yard and in the house. So, if my blogs seem shorter for a while, or my online presence is a shadow of its former self, it’s because I’m taking care of myself for the long haul.

Sigh. The glorious life of a writer … <giggle!>

Have an amazing and blessed Friday and weekend—if you’re a local, please consider dropping by at Compass Church in South Main Street and check out the great event happening (9am-3pm). See you next week.

A Jumble and ScurryMorning in ParadiseHarvest Jubilee at Compass Church

It’s An Author’s Life …


 

FOR ALL OF MY SCURRYING, I’M NOT SURE it really accomplished much (well, certainly not everything I’d planned, that’s for sure). Now that the dust has finally settled, I look back and am glad that week is done. Hopefully, never to be repeated again.

This week has been far more leisurely, yet plenty busy. My calendar is full—with a new weekly bible study (finally … and yay!), doctors appointments, physical therapy (ankle’s getting taken care of at last!), and playing with things that involve my camera and paintbrushes. Oh—and getting my Miata back up to snuff—replacing the back bumper that had a couple holes punched into it by a semi … and finally fixing the scars (down to bare metal) from the large aluminium ladder that, in my absence, fell across its hood a couple of years ago during a very windy storm. It will be nice to have it back—I’ve been driving my truck till it’s fixed. It’s a nice work-horse, but not so nice for around the town driving.

There’s a nice balancing act to keep me in my happy place. A little fun, a little work … and I must not forget the down-time to help keep this energiser bunny going strong.

But, it looks like I’ve left something out—as a writer, shouldn’t there be some writing happening somewhere in the mix? Yes, there should be some writing happening—beyond writing these posts … but I’m still in “putting out fires” mode from my vacation, which means the most important thing is sidelined. And that saddens me immensely <insert teary-eyes …> especially since I’m trying to get all of my books republished.

There have been tiny bits of writing—well, actually editing, but who’s quibbling? I finally spoke with the editor helping me with book one’s rewrite and apparently he was unaware I was having a devil of a time with the PDF edit—he’s offered to turn it into a Word doc so I can be more productive (bless his heart!!!). Now, all I need to do is send the PDF back to him and wait for it to come back in a workable form—yay! <insert happy dance!>

I do have a friend helping me with possible cover ideas, and my head is nearly ready to explode if I don’t get back into creating book five soon … so, all is not completely quiet on the writing front—just not as busy as I’d like it to be. But, things are progressing. Painfully and slowly …

Saturday was my first book signing of the Fall season, and it went fairly well—all except the heat … oh, my! Ninety-one degrees was waaay too hot for yours truly. Joyce did just fine since she runs a bit on the cold side (how I wish!) … we both made sales, though she was Annie Gets Her Bounce by Joyce Orozdisappointed that her newest book—a children’s book—did not have any sales. It’s a cute story, helping children understand seperation anxiety—but, perhaps unintended, I see that it’s also about what happens when a pet doesn’t get the love and attention they deserve. I hope it starts to sell at future events—it deserves a reading audience.

There is a book signing respite for a couple of weeks, as the Monterey County Studio Tour Image of Open Ground Studios Artworkwarms up—Open Ground Studios will be in the line up Saturday and Sunday—we’ve got plenty of our artists with their work on display in the studio (mine included), so if you can make it, 1230 Fremont Street in Seaside is where we’ll all be both Saturday and Sunday!

I get some personal fun-time the next weekend (<insert massive grin …> because I’m all for play-time)—cosplay time for the RenFaire at Casa de Fruta in Hollister. I can hardly wait to don my Celtic attire (I just hope it’s not horribly hot …). Then, back to a book signing and a meet and greet with Harvest Jubilee at Compass ChurchHarvest Jubilee Craft Fair in Salinas and Authors Day at the Monterey Library—a wonderful way to begin October. By the time I’ve gotten back into the book signings, I’m hoping to have at least some of my art (photos from my trip turned into hangable art and blank note cards) squared away and I can concentrate on writing when I’m not doing book signings and sharing my art.

I know many writers that hunker-down and write daily—I can’t seem to master that. I write when words come. They flow better when I do it that way. So, sometimes there’s quite a “desert” when other things overpower my writing, and other times when there’s a word-fest, with a plentiful garden filled with words …

For now, I’ll be happy with the words that create the blogs until I can settling into the “garden” and enjoy the aroma of a bountiful selection of words for my stories.

Until next week, I wish the best for you and yours—may your weekend and upcoming week be blessed.

Toodles till next time!

Saturday and Sunday, September 29-30, 2018
Monterey County Artists Open Studios Tour (including Open Ground Studios in Seaside)
11am-5pm both days
Map and Information about tour

Saturday, October 13, 2018
9am-3pm
Harvest Jubilee
Compass Church
1044 S. Main Street, Salinas CA 93901

Saturday, October 20, 2018
12:00 pm to 5:15 pm

Indie Author Day 2018
Monterey Public Library

625 Pacific Street, Monterey, CA 93940

Coincidence? I Think Not …


 

I RAN INTO A FRIEND, AS IT OFTEN HAPPENS, whilst shopping at Safeway. I haven’t seen her since I was at her house—about a month before I left for my trip to the UK, so it was a delight to find time to chat. Aaannd boy, did we chat! There was so much to talk about.

It wasn’t a chance meeting. Nope. There’s no such thing in God’s world. We were meant to bump into each other. It’s never just a coincidence. There’s always a purpose. Discovering that purpose can be a challenge at times, but I’m never disappointed when I delve deeper to find it. This time, it was easy. In our long conversation, I kept hearing a specific word used again and again—one I felt like I needed to embrace.

Sustain
Suh-steyn
—verb (used with object)
•to support, hold, or bear up from below; bear the weight of, as a structure.
•to bear (a burden, charge, etc.).
•to undergo, experience, or suffer (injury, loss, etc.); endure without giving way or yielding.
•to keep (a person, the mind, the spirits, etc.) from giving way, as under trial or affliction.
•to keep up or keep going, as an action or process: to sustain a conversation.

There were at least ten definitions in my iPhone dictionary, but the first five were the point of the discussion my friend and I were having—as in, God sustains us. It was like having a mini-bible study in the middle of a very busy store. It was kinda cool. And a blessing—for both of us.

We all have problems—whether personal, financial, health, or whatever … and we juggle the rest of our life around them. Some of us feel we must “marshal on”, doing the best we can with what we have—and feel the burden is ours alone to carry. We whisper to ourselves, “I can do it myself”. Like my recent ankle injuries … my stupidity (not paying attention to my surroundings, so I twisted my ankle and fell), my problem—right? “I’ll manage.”

Then, there are those that know from the get-go that they have someone very special they can draw upon—dare I say lean upon—to help them get through any situation. Not unlike each time my husband was rushed by ambulance to the ER. I never hesitated—I wanted Him to be in control of the situation, so I prayed. And gave the entire situation to Him.

Personally—and usually without realising it, I see-saw back and forth between those two very real “attitudes”—and sometimes somewhere in between. In most cases, it finally dawns on me and I eventually hand it over to Him—but not always (and sometimes I steal it back …). He waits—waits for me to realise he will gladly take the burden and carry me through. He wants to sustain me. But, I must remember to ask—to willingly give it to Him; to turn over the problem to Him. Until I do, I’m literally on my own.

Perhaps, by remembering that phrase—”He will sustain me”—making it a mantra until it is ingrained in my mind, then it will be second nature to give all of my problems to him in the first place and not waste a lot of unproductive time trying to do it by myself. This is a good week to practice, that’s for sure. I’m juggling way too many things, and in the process, some of the “balls” have been dropped, creating a poorer-quality than desired result. I didn’t give it to God … <insert severe eye-roll> … when will I learn?

Two events loom—Friday night (tonight!) and Saturday—and I am ill-prepared. It’s never too late to ask for help, but I must also be prepared to take on the consequences of my fumbling. I am willing. The events will go well, just not as well as I envisioned, God willing.

Have an amazing Friday and weekend … and may you find a balance between “doing it myself” and giving it up to that higher power in your life. May it be a blessed week … and if you are local and have time, please do drop by one or both events:

Open Ground Studios: Making Our Mark
1230 Fremont Blvd, Seaside
Friday, September 21  5:30-7:30pm
Artist collective group exhibition. Featured work by:
Alyssa Endo
Bonnie Rose
Cindy Davis
Deb Burke
Denese Sanders
Dora Lisa Rosenbaum
Helen Sakkaris
Koko (Donna) Kooyman
Kristin Peterson Guertin
Linda Lay
Noriko Constant
Paul Richmond
Renata Carettoni Abma
Susie Berteaux
Terese Garcia
Yvonne Gorman

Book Signing and Art at Gilroy Sidewalk Sale and Craft Fair
Downtown Gilroy on 5th Street between Monterey & Eigleberry Streets
Saturday, September 22nd. 10am to 4pm
Books • Art • Crafts
 Authors dj jameson smith and Joyce Oroz will be participating in the craft fair portion of this event. They will have their fantasy and cozy mystery book series available for purchase. Joyce Oroz has a new children’s book available—and she just finished another mystery (location is in Gilroy and Morgan Hill), which will be available very soon—find out details on Saturday. Author dj jameson smith will also be wearing her Painterly hat on Saturday and will have photographic and photopolymer prints on display, along with blank photo note cards—all for sale.
Come join the fun, poke around all the booths along 5th Street—we’re sure you’ll find something to your liking.
Event is free; family friendly.

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!


 

Personal Connections

“CHECKING OUT” FOR A WEEK has done wonders for my creativity. Shedding responsibilities for the short term is great! I’m feeling far more relaxed — it was delightful to see family members that I haven’t seen since the last major family “events”. Way too long between visits, that’s for sure. It’s sad that—for our family, at least—it takes a big event to get family together.

Staying connected on a personal level (not the electronic kind—that’s another thing altogether … grumble) is such an important aspect of family—at least, that’s my feeling. In this day and age, it’s getting harder and harder to do that. With our family—my parents and all of the kidlets (including me), it always seemed to be an issue. Dad’s work took him away from his family (business trips) and extended family—parents, brothers and sisters, and many cousins due to his many transfers as he climbed the corporate ladder. There were plenty of transfers, taking us mostly to different parts of California, but one biggie—my dad’s last business transfer—took us to the Midwest. While we lived in California, we would make “pilgrimages” three to four times annually: New Years in Pasadena (for the Rose Bowl Parade and family time (mostly the “male population” watching football on the tv, the kids playing and the wives … doing what wives did back then ), Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas in his home town, where all the families would “migrate” to celebrate the holidays together. Once we lived out of state, these pilgrimages ended (or at least happened far less frequently)—costs became prohibitive to travel so far with a large family.

By the time my grandparents passed away, many of the grandkids had grown up and moved away … and the coming together as one very large family gathering slowly died out. Individual families celebrated with their own children and grandchildren—possibly even a few of their brothers’ and sisters’ families. Our family was no different—but our together-time became less structured as time went by. We scattered to the four corners of the States—no different that my cousins, but they somehow managed to keep a tighter, closer relationship with their siblings—and for us, visiting became insurmountable by most of the family members. Even funeral and wedding events were a hardship, so our family unit became even more fractured. I mourned with each degree of separation because I love my brothers and their families so much and cherish our times together—yet … even I found myself unable to justify a two day trip across the country—both financial and time-wise.

When my parents moved back to my dad’s hometown, he and his siblings tried to resurrect the tradition in the form of a progressive dinner or alternating the hosting family. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a roaring success.

Since then, there have been two large family reunions—and everyone loved them, but they were labour-intensive (especially the first one, since it ended up being a combination reunion/memorial—sadly, my aunt, the “grand-organiser” of the event, passed away shortly before the reunion!), so there’s been quite a gap between them. I love and admire my cousins for stepping up and taking the challenge on! It was definitely a team effort on their part—God bless them!!

So, any “reunion” I manage to attend (whether filled with sorrow or joy) is very sweet, indeed—no matter the size, no matter which family members are able to attend. I cherish the family time. My niece’s wedding was no exception. Though only one of my siblings from the west coast plus my daughter, her husband and yours truly were able to fly in, it was wonderful to see my younger brothers and one set of nephews—and the bride, of course. She was absolutely radiant—and not flustered one iota by any hiccup that came her way. Cool as a cucumber, as the saying goes! After the wedding, she and her hubby could relax and began their new life together by celebrating with friends and extended family. Lots of family! It was delightful to be introduced to the new branch of our family tree—trying to remember everyone I met is another thing entirely, but they have been forewarned of my forgetfulness … it was wonderful.

Both of my younger brothers are wanting to close the gap between visits—I want to renew my commitment to put a priority on family and extended family. I keep promising to visit, but time, prior commitments and/or finances hold me back. I need to find a way to create some dedicated family time. Now … to figure out how to manage that with upcoming book signings and the frenzy to republish my books with my brand-new publishing company.

It will be quite the balancing act. Oh, I do love a challenge—at least, that’s what I keep saying.

Scurrying, Plotting and Planning …


 

I WOULD LOVE TO TELL YOU that I’ve been über productive this last week, but I’d be lying through my teeth if I did. I managed to finish last week’s post—that was an accomplishment in itself. I’ve done the tiniest bit of editing, but I’m finding my head is not in edit-mode and the moment I bumped up against a paragraph that the editor didn’t like (neither did I), I was stumped for a solution. I just closed the computer and attempted to turn to other things.

There’s still a fair amount of “whilst-you-were-gone” stuff on my plate. I’m not sure if that’s pulling me away from my creative side or not. I know my mind has been busy thinking both Writerly and Painterly thoughts, but the moment I roll up my sleeves to dive in to wrestle with those ideas, they are gone. What’s that all about? Talk about frustrating!

On a more personal level, I’m scrambling to get things lined up for one of my two nieces’ wedding—I’m excited for her, but my invite was lost in the mail, so there’s been a lot of last minute scrambling to get reservations settled. And I seldom do fancy-attire things, so when it dawned on me that my closet could not produce appropriate attire for the event, more scrambling happened <giggle> (with the help of a dear friend) … but now—finally—I’m all set. I’ve even managed to half-pack my carry-on suitcase <grin> so I won’t misplace the clothes I’ve decided to bring—a couple pieces will have to wait for packing since they are getting some minor alterations taken care of. Oh. And I guess I’ll be expected to wear makeup <groan> (you have to understand, I don’t wear that stuff unless I’m “forced” to <insert eye roll> … well, kinda). When my daughter got married (I think that was something like five years ago …?), I wore some … previously, well I’m not sure when I last wore makeup <giggle>. Part of the reason is my allergies … and I’m just not a fancy-dancy dress up kinda girl, so my makeup sits in a drawer, unused. Hope it’s still usable …

I’m assuming that part of the reason you follow my blog is to learn about who I am—who it is that’s behind the author’s facade. This is me. The unvarnished truth. Hehe—maybe some day I’ll quiz you on what you’ve learned about me <wink> <giggle> Just kidding.

Anyway … as the week wound down, I did manage to get a decent walk in—with my shopping friend. She and I are talking about traveling together … yup <giggle> could be up to four weeks … but not till 2020. Today’s walk was over 3.5 miles—the most I’ve walked since returning from my adventure across the Pond. I did pretty well, considering the state of my ankle. She and I have already planned a walk date for next week. This is a good thing for me—getting back into some healthy routines. A healthier me is a more productive me.

A warning—next week is going to be crazy, so there may be no time to work on a post. So, there will be no post next week—I’ll be back in two weeks. Until then, have a blessed day today, this weekend and two weeks coming up! Fall is in the air—can you feel it? <grin>

Now … before I forget, let me get this posted.

Just a reminder of upcoming things:

Sat, 22 September, 2018 10am-3pm – ART AND BOOKS (and much more)
Fall GDBA Sidewalk Sale in Gilroy
: On 5th Street in Gilroy, Joyce Oroz and Debra J Smith will join a multitude of vendors—the two authors with be there, sharing a booth with their mystery and fantasy series books for signing and for sale; Debra will also have some of her art available for purchase.

Sat/Sun, 29-30 September, 2018 11am-5pm – ART
Monterey County Artists Open Studios
: Open Ground Studios’ artists (including Debra J Smith) will be participating, sharing their work—and work spaces—with the public at Open Ground Studios at 1230 Fremont Street in Seaside CA.

“Progress” On Republishing the Series

My CreateSpace Title ListSunday, August 12, 2018: HONESTLY … SOMETIMES I WONDER if I’m cut out to be an author. Sure—I love to spin a yarn … and do a pretty darned good job, even if I say so myself. I find myself doubting I can get it done … and don’t get me started on the other aspects of getting the writing out there for the public. Frustration talking, I’m sure.

One of my last real book blogs was done in April, I think. In any case, it’s the one I’m going to be referencing, so here’s the link. The above photo (click on it for larger image) shows all the books I currently have that need tweaking (including covers), books in the series yet to come—and even a couple books I’ve been contemplating (and discussed with Jo before her passing). Most of the stories are actually done, I just need to transcribe a bunch that are in audio form <groan> and write a few more for the Christian fantasy anthology.

I keep reminding myself not to rush through any of this writing/editing/publishing process. It’s going to take time and I don’t want to bulldoze through, missing something important. So … one step at a time. “Slow and steady wins the race”—as the old saying goes. Yup. As much as you and I want to jump to the “published” point (you have been so very patient—thank you from the bottom of my heart!), I know you would want it done right. I know that’s what I want—I want it done right. No sloppy job allowed—I’ve learned my lesson with book one. No shortcuts. No rushing.

August 13, 2018: Oh, my. In my absence (during my ten-week vacation across the Pond), the official letter from Inknbeans Press finally arrived in my e-mailbox—and I could do absolutely nothing. Now that I’ve been home two weeks (yikes!), I’ve still done nothing. Well, not nothing—there’s been plenty of brain-work and wrestling with ideas going on. I still have a few things from my trip that need to be ironed out before I dive into the task of re-publishing. I can start tinkering with things, but no serious work till I’ve managed to clear the table of the dust and clutter that gathered whilst having fun in Ireland and the UK.

I’m still planning on publishing on my own (aka: self-publishing) … but one of the Inknbeans Press authors has gathered a team together and created a new publishing company (now that I’ve paid for my ISBNs, of course). So … what to do? Flounder on my own as publisher of my own work, with 100% control over my work, or join Boch Publishing—their brand-new publishing company—with their own unique growing pains that any new company must deal with, and let them do the “hard work” of publishing, marketing, etc? I do love that Boch Publishing uses a phoenix rising from the ashes as their logo—some of the Inkinbeans authors have signed up with them (hopefully more will), so they are rising from the ashes of their deceased publisher to be published once again with Boch. Like I said—I’ve been doing some serious wrestling of late. No matter which way I choose, I will need to finish getting the body of work editing properly, artwork for covers organised (for all four books) … so, there’s plenty for me to do before I actually decide one way or the other.

On the book-signing front, I’ve a few set up—I did post that a few weeks ago. The spacing of events was perfect—well, a bit busy in November, but I’ll survive. Now I’m being inundated by new opportunities. Many of the events from last year have been slow to get their information out to their participants—I simply thought we (Joyce Oroz and I) had been forgotten. Nope. The event planners have been slow to get organised. Now, I need to do triage—which ones are the most important to attend, which do I decline due to my pressing publishing schedule? I only have so many books left to sell. I don’t want to sign up for an event and not have any books. Personally, I think that would be bad—or … is it a good thing? I could do marketing for the new editions at the events. That means getting my act together very, very quickly and produce some marketing items pronto. I really need to start thinking more like a marketer. Sigh. This is one area I’m not terribly good at … <insert panicked deer-in-headlights look>

August 15, 2018: Finally starting to get “old business” off the table so that I can start to seriously dive into my new adventure of publishing. Definitely a nice feeling. I even managed to find and frame (still a few things to do before it’s ready to go) a lino-cut print for one of the art events coming up (though, honestly … I was not even sure which one—oh, my) <insert nervous giggle> Well … I’ll know soon enough.

August 16, 2018: I was able to finish up the framing of the lino-cut print. The simple act of prepping and framing the print put my mind in the right place—creativity started to flow! Yes! So, though not finished with all of the old business, I decided to pull up the edit for book one of Secrets Beyond Scymaria and dig in. Future edits will not be so brain-sucking complicated. It’s still going to take some time to get this done. I’m only half way through it. Once Hugh (my editor) gets the edited manuscript and tweaks things (then returns it to me …), I’ll have one more edit before it’s ready to publish. Then, on to book two and three (simpler tasks, but still—plenty of work to do). And then <sigh> there’s book four which needs its first edit completed—and book five needs to be finished. What have I gotten myself into …?

Oh, my. Guess I’ve lost all sense of brevity … <giggle> this is another  l o n g  post. I promise to get back to shorter posts soon—honest. Scout’s honor. <wink>

In the meantime, here’s an abbreviated list of what’s happening in my community in the near future. Until my next blog, I wish you a blessed Friday, weekend and upcoming week. Toodles until next Friday!

Events (books and/or art) coming up soon:
Fri-Sun, 17-19 August, 2018 7-11pm (Fri) 11am-6 (Sat) 11am-5pm (Sun) – ART
(and much more!)
WestEnd Celebration in Sand City: Open Ground Studios will have a booth with artists’ work on display—including one of Debra’s prints.

Sat, 22 September, 2018 10am-3pm – ART AND BOOKS (and much more)
Fall GDBA Sidewalk Sale in Gilroy
: On 5th Street in Gilroy, Joyce Oroz and Debra J Smith will join a multitude of vendors—the two authors with be there, sharing a booth with their mystery and fantasy series books for signing and for sale; Debra will also have some of her art available for purchase.

Sat/Sun, 29-30 September, 2018 11am-5pm – ART
Monterey County Artists Open Studios
: Open Ground Studios’ artists (including Debra J Smith) will be participating, sharing their work—and work spaces—with the public at Open Ground Studios at 1230 Fremont Street in Seaside CA.

 

 

 

 

2018 UK and Ireland Adventure: Home At Last

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I have learned quite a few things along the way.

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

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

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

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

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

Planning Ahead … Book Signings (and art)

OH, WELL. I’VE BEEN JUGGLING WAY TOO much since I got back from my “little” adventure. Sales tax filing took the most out of me (I will never fully trust figures from my SquareUp account after four grueling days of trying to crunch numbers) and gearing up for our local Scottish Games (a friend and I host a booth for the Gunn Clan)—happening this weekend. So, I’ve chosen to do some light-weight stuff this week. No photo downloading. No insightful commentary/reflections of the adventure. Just simple, informative stuff.

My decision was to update all of you on my book signing schedule for 2018. It will be light this year (well … sorta), as I’ve a monumental task ahead of me—getting three books re-published and back out onto the market), getting the fourth book published … including cover designs for all, and getting book five completed and ready for publication. And I know I’m probably dreaming, but I’d like to accomplish all of that by February, or early March at the latest. Like I said—a monumental task.

So, here’s the book signing schedule—my art/photography will be there also (after my trip abroad, I’m hoping to have some beautiful new items to share). You will find it on my business Facebook pages and website in the near future—this is the first place I’m posting the information—just the basics. I’ll add/update all the details as we get closer to each date:

Saturday, 22 September (tentative) Fall GDBA Sidewalk Sale on 5th Street in Gilroy: Book Signing (Joyce Oroz and dj jameson smith) and Art/Photography (by djamesonsmith)

Saturday, 13 October 10am-4pm: Harvest Jubilee at Compass Church in Salinas
Book Signing (Joyce Oroz and dj jameson smith) and Art/Photography (by djamesonsmith)
Sunday, 4 November (tentative) 10am-4pm: Holiday Fair at Monterey Moose Lodge
Book Signing (Joyce Oroz and dj jameson smith) and Art/Photography (by djamesonsmith)
Saturday/Sunday, 9-10 November: Authors Invade Columbia (South Carolina) at Embassy Suites (I think I must be crazy to do this one … but commitment—airfare—was made before my publisher’s death)
Book Signing with many other authors in Columbia SC
Saturday/Sunday, 17-18 November 10am-5pm: AHA Holiday Fair at Aromas Lodge
Book Signing (Joyce Oroz and dj jameson smith) and Art/Photography (by djamesonsmith)
Thursday/Friday, 29-30 November 10am-5pm Holiday Fair at Watsonville Community Hospital
Book Signing (Joyce Oroz and dj jameson smith) and Art/Photography (by djamesonsmith)
That’s it … at least, I think so <insert eye roll>

Next week, I will (hopefully) be back in the swing of things and will finish up my posts about my adventures abroad. In the meantime, may your Friday and weekend be filled with blessed events and your upcoming week hold a few serendipitous surprises! Cheers and toodles!

Week Eleven: Dublin To the Very End …

[As this is the last official blog for our little adventure, it was to be extremely photo-heavy, but my computer froze on Thursday, so not as many as planned—I’ll add them later or in another blog once I get the computer up and running again (do make sure you click on images for descriptions) … and the blog is rather verbose]

OUR FRIDAY IN DUBLIN WAS wonderful—even though a wee bit damp! Thursday I walked oodles and Sandy had a good time on her Cliffs of Mohr and Galway adventure … both of us slept very well—actually slept in on Friday, because it was raining when we awoke. Rain—that is a good thing. We planned on wandering around a bit, but with the rain, we changed plans (yeah—that “best laid plans” bit … teehee) and worked on sorting through receipts (we’d put that chore off for a little too long). There were lots of receipts. Sandy got a bit fidgety as I sorted mine and decided to go out to Mountjoy Square to attempt to fly her kite <giggle>—yes, a real kite (wish I’d been there to take photos!). She asked staff at the front desk for help and they willingly “abandoned” their post and went to the park her to put it together for her (very sweet of them!). She did manage to get it airborne, but only for short bits. But, she did have fun and that’s the point. When she returned, we made lunch and preparing for our special night out (<giggle> … no, we didn’t finish working on our receipts). Our evening was set in stone. We were not going to let that plan slip away, so we grabbed a taxi to attend the event across the River Liffey near Temple Bar. It’s so nice to not have a car—honest. A car has been wonderful to get into places inaccessible by train and buses—and for those spontaneous moments—”Oooh! Stop. I wanna check that out” moments. But now that we are in a fixed place … a large city, it’s easy to depend on foot power, buses and taxis. Not having to find parking, paying the parking fees, etc—that’s really nice.

An Evening of Food, Folklore and Fairies, held at the An Evening of Food, Folklore and FariesBrazen Head Pub near Temple Bar, was a delightful experience. ‘Twas not the normal storytelling of fairies and such, but more of a historical telling of the Irish people, their food and how the fairies shaped their lives—plus a few fun fairy stories and some Celtic music thrown in Two men playing Celtic Music A Full House at the Brazen Head Pubfor good measure. Don’t let the “historical” bit put you off—it was well told, very informative, definitely entertaining and I’d highly recommend it. The weather was perfect (rain had stopped by midday) so, though we hired a cab for both directions, we only “cabbed it” to Dusky Shot of the River Liffeythe event—’twas far too beautiful to miss out on our first walk “home” at night. After all the delicious food and drink, we walked in the twilight back to the hostel to help burn off those extra calories. Timing could not have been better—as we came up to the last long block, it started to get a wee bit misty. We were slightly damp when we reached the hostel. It was a delightful evening!

Saturday was our planned downtime day. Well, sorta: time Trinity College Bronze Sculpturewalking around Temple Bar and Trinity College (Book of Kell & their massively gorgeous library archived with smelly ol’ tomes <insert a similarly Image of a green space at Trinity College Trinity College, Dublin Irelandmassive grin>) was factored into the day. Our late night … and breakers-of-the-11pm-Quiet-Curfew kept us up till nearly 2am, so we were a bit groggy come morning-time. After breakfast, we has a bit of a snooze <insert grin and a wink> Nothing wrong with a late start … but we weren’t able to tick off all the to-do items from our list. The day is a bit of a blur, honestly …

We did finally see Temple Bar and Trinity College together … on Wednesday, I think.

Earlier in the week, we actually found a Protestant church to attend on Sunday … but a new group of all-night (literally!) chatterers (though relatively quiet), kept us up again most of the night. Another groggy morning. Very groggy. There’s even a sign posted on the door to the patio stating the open hours of the patio: 7am-11pm <sigh> Instead of church, we took a long time getting our engines running, then wandered down to the River Liffey to Dublin Discovered Boat Rides Samuel Beckett Bridge: aka The Harp Bridge Boat along side the tour boat Image of rugby arena just beyond Liffey River reserve seats on the Dublin Discovered Boat Ride. Another way to see the city—one I don’t think I’ve explored before … and we enjoyed it very much. Pictures from river level were interesting. Unfortunately, the ride was in a closed cabin, so there’s window splashes and glares in my photos. The heat was a wee bit stifling, but because there was no rain, they were able to keep the large hatch open for ventilation—thankfully. After the boat ride, we wandered back down into the area we’d seen from the boat (to capture a Artwork of squirrel on pub wallphoto of a very famous red squirrel), then The Dublin Custom Housewhile Sandy visited a museum at the Dublin Custom House, I worked my way partway down the street and onto a bridge to take a few more photos of the area.

We started to walk back, but the heat was too oppressive—caught a cab back to the hostel. Like I said—foot power and local transportation is a good thing <grin>. Taxi rides, depending on how far we’ve ventured, have averaged about 7 Euros. marginally “expensive”, but well worth it when all you can think of is lying down to cool down.

Monday was spent in a day-long Paddy Wagon tour of Monasterboice Plaque Image of round tower and gravestone at MonasterboiceMonasterboice Cemetery, Belfast City Centre and the Titanic Museum. When talking with Sandy, I’ve made it no secret that I really didn’t see a reason to visit Belfast and was still a bit wary of the tension that might still exist. I’m glad I did the tour, but would never have done the trip on my own. The Titanic Museum was well worth the time, as was the tour-within-a-tour—Black Taxi Tour of areas that the Paddy Wagon would not be allowed. It was extremely educational, filling in huge gaps in my knowledge of what transpired in the late 1900s. As an outsider, though told things are so much better by our old-timer tour guides (who lived through the worst of it), I see that the tension and separationist attitudes still exist. Scary in a way … I did feel safe, but would never have ventured this far without a local. Absolutely not. I will put the pictures here with only one comment: what I saw and heard (with the tour guides’ information given) is the appearance of a city united, yet still quite divided.
Belfast and Black Taxi Tour Photos: Image of building with copper dome at Belfast City CentreDowntown Belfast and Traffic Welcome to Belfast-Peace BallImage of Belfast street scene, with old Presbyterian church and a tower structure A Neighbourhood in Belfast Murals on buildings paying tribute to their fallen in Belfast neighbourhood. Memorial of neighbourhood streets lost in the conflicts of Belfast Black Taxi Tour—Belfast Neighbourhoods Peace Walls Between Neighbourhoods Black Taxi Tour: Peace Wall Image Peace Wall Image, Belfast 2018 Peace Wall Image, Belfast 2018 Image of neighbourhood with an Irish flag flying. Image of Peace Wall Art
Titanic Museum Photos: Titanic Museum: Time Clock Titanic Museum: The Launch Titanic Museum: Path of the Titanic Image of quote from "The Convergence of the Twain" by Thomas Hardy Image of The Titanic Museum: The Building Image of The Titanic Museum: The Building The Titanic Museum: The EntranceImage of Yours Truly: Windblown, Hot and Tired

Tuesday—oh, my … so close to departure day, and still so much to cram in before then! … And laundry <ugh> Guess I shouldn’t complain—I brought way too much clothes, so not having to do it as frequently <giggle> and, Sandy has offered to do it the last two times (God bless her!!). She did the laundry and I worked on uploading photos for the blog.

Wednesday evening was spent attending a Riverdance performance at the Gaiety Theatre. It was great, even though I had two tall people sitting in front of me, blocking about half the stage. I concentrated on listening to the story, music and the sounds of the Celtic dancing … and enjoyed what bits I could see from stage right. I think I will re-visit the theatre and performance the next time I visit Dublin and go for a seat closer to the balcony edge, to avoid long-torsoed bodies blocking my view … it’s well worth a second viewing. Aaah, yes. And, up to this point in our trip, there has been no issue with using a credit card for taxi rides—until after our Riverdance experience. We kept walking down the queue of taxis, asking if they took credit cards Nope, nope, nope … this went on for about ten taxis. At that point, I said we’d walk—pulled up the route to take …1.9 miles  Ugh. So, we asked one more driver—thank God he said yes. Moral of the story, make sure you have cash!! We did have to listen to a rather heavy dose of extremely “salty” language as he joked with us the whole way back—yikes!

Thursday was to be my usual time-to-tidy-up-blog-and-download-photos Day. Oh, yeah—and Packing Day. Yup. Thursday ended up being spent attempting to edit on my iPhone (so sorry if there are missed bits of bad grammar, spelling, punctuation,  etc—so hard to work from the little phone); packing and repacking followed. Did I mention that we each purchased a small carry-on sized, four wheel suitcase last week? Teehee … we got tired of mailing stuff off. If checked, it will probably cost an extra $60, but it’s worth it—and now, I’ve a four-wheel case that actually works the way it should! I did manage to squeeze in a bit of walking, but I’ll add those photos when I load the others.

Our plane leaves at noon today, and we must be at the airport three-hours prior for our international flight. I’d crossed my fingers and prayed I’d get the upgrade for business class so I could lay flat for a portion of our trip. Did that happen? Nope … so I am assuming I’ll be in the cattle car with everyone else. Sigh.  Oh, well. It was worth a shot.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this blog, I will either revisit this to add the photos that are hiding on my computer, or I will have one final blog with a hodge-podge of photos and thoughts on our travels to the UK and Ireland.

So, until I can get things sorted out, I’ll bid you adieu and wish you well on this Friday, weekend and upcoming week—see you next week, when I’ll be home once again.

Toodles and God bless!

 

Week Ten—We’re Winding Down: Anglesey to Dublin

View from window in a quaint little town somewhere in Snowdonia, Wales

Please remember to click on each photo—I’ve made comments on many of them.

“BEST LAID PLANS THAT’S how the saying goes, right? This week was no different <giggle and eye roll>. On Friday, Navi took us on a wild goose chase because, even though destinations are saved, Navi doesn’t really save specific routes taken. And I didn’t stop to try to save the location … but I did remember—miracles—the name of a nearby hotel. When I put our previous destination in, a different route came up … with lots of alternate routes thrown in—leading us to a completely different place. I tried to outsmart her (I should know better—insert eye roll) by altering the final destination … but later we discovered that was even worse. Our sweet little Navi took us on a very long, very bland trail of one track roads that were populated with newer homes—far, far away from the majestic mountains and the quaint village I sought in Snowdonia. Sigh—not what we were looking for. Not knowing the town name was the problem. Not finding the landmark I remembered (The Swallow Falls Hotel) in Navi’s “accommodations” failed. We did make one stop for lunch (wish we’d taken time to wander around as it was the only lovely bit of our trip—sniff). Finally, after a long, dismal day of driving (after returning to our room), I reached out to friends on FB, trying to discover what town it was the CIVers had traveled to a number of years ago—eureka! Betws Y Coed! (see pronunciation here) So I finally had a destination to put into Navi—but it would have to be another day! Sigh.

All of the driving on Friday wiped us out, so Saturday was a recovery day—we hung around the hotel and the Old Derelict HomeCommunity Safety Information posterImage of foliage and a white castle Image of walled in white castle "Castle" Manor Turretharbour, meandering and taking photos. The plan was to find a church to attend on Sunday, then make our journey to Betws Y Coed and have fun wandering the streets and paths. Again, that “best laid plans” thing reared it’s ugly head. Though we Holyhead As Viewed from Soldier Point Breakwaterwere given church names by staff at the hotel, we could not find information about service times—nor locations … so again,we altered our plans and decided our drive into Snowdonia would be our priority on Sunday. It Spectacular Snowdonia Park in Wales Mountainous Terrain of Snowdonia Image of sheep grazing Creek (River?) in Betws Y Coed Bridge at Western Edge of Betws Y Coed The Town of Betws Y Coed St Mary's Church with clock tower Commemorative Bridge in Betws Y Coedwas lovely! A tiny bit of rain (yay!) cleared the air, oodles of deliciously billowy clouds parading up in the sky … just lovely! Lots of photos were taken, both in the valleys surrounded by mountains and lakes … and in the quaint little town I sought! We even managed a yummy lunch at bistro (near the western edge of town) … and an ice cream near the centre of town.

Did I mention that the island we stayed on (where Holyhead is located) is called Anglesey? And Holy Island? It’s Welsh name is Ynys Môn. ‘Tis the seat of the ancient Welsh empire. I’m finding the history via the Welsh tales I’m reading—purchased in Betws Y Coed. Loving the book. Love the folklore, too. It’s actually starting to bring my imagination alive <insert monster grin> … well, that and the deliciously beautiful countryside.

Monday was a travel day—after turning in the rental at the terminal. I’d been trying since Friday to reach Hertz via the phone. It left me very frustrated, not knowing if I’d have someone to turn the car into. When we picked up the car, we were told to call to let them know the date we’d be returning it (making an appointment, so there would be someone there to take it). It did resolve itself, but I did let them know I was unhappy with the way they handled things.

On Our Way—Stena Lines (Stena Plus Lounge) Good bye, Wales …! The ferry ride was uneventful, even with the bit of rain we had at the Holyhead side of the trip (oh—and half-way across). Dublin had a bit of rain a couple days prior to our arrival, but it looks Image of lighthouse at point of Dublin Harbourlike at least this week will stay dry, even though there are some lovely clouds floating by. There was a bit of a delay at the Dublin Terminal as immigration was doing spot checks on the cars <insert rolling eyes> … we didn’t get off the boat till around 6pm … and finding a taxi was a challenge for quite a few folks—including us. Image of plates and "grafitti" on wall

We spent the remainder of Monday settling into our new digs at The Gardiner House Hostel, located at 76 Gardiner Street in Dublin. This is a hostel I would heartily recommend. It seems to be closer to downtown Dublin than the Dublin International Hostel (DIH) on Mountjoy Street. Also seems to be better managed—the place is cleaner due to the fact that cleaning is scheduled at least four times a day—or more, which is amazing. And a big sell for me (over DIH) is the lift. Tiny, but functional. It is a God-send for me an’ my feeble legs (stairs are a really big nemesis for me).

Tuesday and Wednesday, we wandered around Dublin on foot—separately on Tuesday, and together on Wednesday. Together, we went to the Leprechaun Museum (it’s not just for children)—we both enjoyed the storytelling and I purchased a book, Dublin Folktales. I seem to be collecting folktale books <insert grin>. We finally made it to the Jameson Distillery, which was a let-down (for the first time ever). Two years ago, they did a massive (and apparently very expensive) overhaul of their facilities, jettisoning their lovely Barrowman’s dinner (celtic dancing, music, whiskey tasting and yummy food) and their lovely dining area upstairs … and cut their gift shop in half, with far fewer non-alcohol related items for sale. Despite the name (my maiden name), the appeal for me has been tarnished with the overhaul. I’ve no desire to make that a point of interest on return trips. But, if you enjoy whiskey and like to see the process, the tour is informative. Thursday had Sandy on a tour of Galway and Cliffs of Mohr whilst yours truly finalised this blog—downloading photos, etc.

Starting today, the upcoming seven days (day seven and eight will probably be spent packing, repacking and jettisoning items to keep under the 50# restrictions … and perhaps <insert grin> mailing a few items to help with the weight) will be filled with last-minute plans—seeing things we’ve missed, attending a fun event here and there. Plus time to play with our cameras. Please make sure you click on all of the photos I’ve included—I’m starting to be more consistent with making notes about most of the photos—notes I’m not mentioning within the blog itself.

I hope you are enjoying these blogs—I know they are a wee bit word heavy with these travels, but I’m hoping the verbosity is adequately off-set by the photos. Thank you for following me in my adventure in Ireland, Wales, England proper and Scotland … and back again. One more—maybe two blogs till I return to the “normal” craziness of this author-storyteller-photographer-artist. There are challenges ahead of me as a writer (and new publisher) and I must get artwork together for quite a few upcoming things. I’m trying to leave those worries and challenges back home … to be dealt with once I return home.

Until then, I wish you adieu for another week. May your Friday, weekend and upcoming week be blessed in amazing ways. Cheers!

Week Nine … but not really

GIGGLE … JUST WENT BACK TO CHECK my “weeks”. Not sure how I ended up at nine weeks. My first “week” was nine days long, but even if I did two days then a regular seven, I still wouldn’t be at week nine <insert eye roll>. This should really be week seven—but I’m not going to confuse readers at this point. We’ll stick with Week Nine.

Church in Bath

Don’t forget to click on photos to enlarge.

Having purchased our 24-hr passes on Thursday (we were ensured the timing began upon first “hop-on”), Friday morning had Sandy heading off to Stonehenge and I spent my time on the View from the Hop-on Hop-off bus in Bath Birds-eye View of Bath River Boat Rides Hop-on Hop-off bus for most of the morning in Bath: two of the City Centre tours—one was recorded, the other was live. Much preferred the live—the recorded version sounded like an advert for Bath <insert serious eye roll …> with some mild falsehoods thrown in. I tookGarfunkel Restaurant in Bath's City Centre a break for lunch at Garfunkel’s at the Empire after the two City Centre trips. Nice place. If you ate inside, you could spend your meal listening to Simon and Garfunkel music, but it was entirely too warm for that, so I was on the patio, under an umbrella, trying to cool off. Then, I hopped on the HH that took me to the outer parts of the city—including a huge garden that would have been wonderful to wander through … but when I saw how hilly it was, I knew there would be no way I’d see much in the heat, so simply stayed on the bus. (After asking the driver about the “start time”, I discovered we’d not been told the truth— River Boat Ridestime began with the date stamp from the prior day—so I’d pretty much used up my time). With a quiet grumble, I hopped off and wandered the streets a bit, taking photos, then trudged back to the hostel, disillusioned with Bath’s HH buses and the tourist centre.

Bath has a thing aboutOne of the Many Owl Sculptures Owl Sculpture near City Centre Plant-sculpted Owl in City Centre Park Owl sculpture in court yard Owl sculpture in mall Owl Sculpture across from Backpackers Hostel in Bath owls. I was seeing them everywhere I turned. A local artist creates them, places them throughout the City Centre and then they are auctioned off in the fall with proceeds going to several worthy organisations. Very neat idea! I was going to use the HH to discover all their locations and photograph them all, but the weather simply had not cooperated and I’d need a new HH pass.  I did not get all the owls … too many in the far corners of the city.

On Saturday, we found ourselves craving a different environment, so we drove to Bristol proper. After a wee hiccup (went to a suburb first 🙄) and some bend-over-backwards help from staff at the Mercure Brigstow (Bristol)Mercure Hotels sign Hotel, we found everything we needed to enjoy the town’s Hop-on Hop-off bus pick-up points. They hotel staff was amazingly helpful! Both of us wish we’d Fantastic Bristol Bus Tour Commentator City Centre in Bristol Marriage of Very Old, Old and New Buildings in Bristol Victorian Tall Shipcome here instead of Bath. Much more interesting environs, architecture, openness of locals💕 The HH (even though we only had a few hours) around town was hot but fun. I’ll be coming back to Bristol—definitely. Wonderful city, wonderful locals!

On Sunday, we were glad to leave Bath. It was too hot, too noisy and the city had a sameness to the architecture that I found boring. Plus the seagulls were making a racket from about 4am to 11pm; hostellers were not considerate of their fellow room mates and revelers in the street kept waking us up. I’ve never had such a negative impression of a town before. Never. Both of us were so glad to be leaving. And so looking forward to our stay at Part Y Seal B&B. Teehee … Navi sent us on a wild goose chase—dumping us in the middle of nowhere in front of the one and only farmhouse … obviously not what we were looking for (only one of a few times the postal code did not work to locate the next destination). I kept driving and thankfully we found a very helpful local that—even though he was exhausted from a bicycling race (he’d just arrived home when we pulled in behind him …), he pulled out his smart phone … and between son and father, they found our next stop for us. God bless the locals! They’ve been lovely.

Part Y Seal Bed and BreakfastThe heat (and lack of sleep for three days) really wiped us out. After showers, all we could muster was to hang out in our lovely room, windows and doors open for cross ventilation and listen to the sheep bleating in the distance. We did manage to get Large Zucchini Plant Beautiful Gardens Abound with Flowers Fresh egg in a bucket Flowers for the Senses and the Bees Sneak View of Part Y Seal's Gardeninto the garden briefly (once it had cooled somewhat), then retreated to our room again.

On Monday, we were off to visit Jo and Ian for a bit—the time had passed quite quickly. We were delighted that Jo and Ian wanted to spend more time with us, so Tuesday was spent poking around Raglan Castle. Raglan Castle in Wales Image of Tintern Abbey WallsIt was a beautifully preserved ruins—it even had a moat Moat with Water Lilies<insert monster grin>. We hated to even think about the fact we would have to leave the area on Wednesday. We had so much fun with Jo and Ian—both sitting around and “nattering” as Jo says or trudging around with them showing off the area. We popped over to the Café for a bit of a nosh and on Jo Hiding in Faerie Treethe way, we found a faerie tree! We had to check it out. Castles, waterfalls and abbys are their thing. They have this amazing video blog where, among other things, they showcase different areas in Wales—their newest venture is to video visits to each of the 130 CADW historical sites. This is in addition to their waterfall trips (put on hold due of the overly dry season has brought the waterfalls to less than a trickle!) … please do check out their website and vlog at Patreon.

We’ve been dealing with road construction during this entire adventure. Patience is a virtue—definitely—in these instances. And our Wednesday departure from Part Y Seal was no different (though, not nearly as bad as some bits). A three-hour drive turned into five hours, which necessitated several stops so the driver (me) could get out and stretch her legs. The stops are always turned into tea breaks (which I always laugh at, as it perpetuates part of the reason for the stops …) The scenery was spectacular as we wended through Wales and England. We arrived to Boathouse Hotel in The Boathouse Hotel in Holyhead, WalesHolyhead around 4pm. We were greeted with 19C temps (absolutely lovely!) And the forecast is for overcast to partially sunny skies. I’m in heaven. Our plan (as we drove into the area) was to spend Wednesday recuperatingHolyhead Harbour (we did poke around a bit), Thursday was for poking around Holyhead (and me talking with Hertz to finalise when I’d turn the car in) and Friday through Sunday would be spent exploring Snowdon Mountain area and a few towns I remember from an old CIV trip to the area. Both Sandy and I did do a walkabout on Wednesday—which helped me sleep quite soundly <grin> but apparently I snored—oooopsie (sooo sorry, Sandy)! Thursday was a bust for me—Sandy did do much more walking whilst I slaved over the blog … trying to get the photos uploaded (tricky internet connection—very spotty <insert quivering lower lip>. We decided that Friday will be a combo of poking around and starting our Snowdonia adventure—maybe fewer photos next week than this of the areas we visit … I’ve no clue what our next location’s internet reception will be like. Finally managed an internet connection, so enjoy the remainder of the photos (the ones of me are courtesy of Jo). Have a good giggle …

Our time abroad is winding down rapidly—I’ve mixed feelings about that. But, there will other trips … I bid you adieu, wishing you a blessed Friday, weekend and upcoming week.

Squash FlowerBoats in Holyhead HarbourBlack-eyed Susan Flowers

 

 

 

Harbour Park Raglan Castle Bridge Atop Raglan Castle Yours Truly and Sandy at Raglan Castle- Raglan Castle PhotographyFaerie Tree Attempt SeriesFaerie Tree Attempt ContinuesFaerie Tree Attempt ContinuesFaerie Tree Attempt Continues