Sunday, December 29, 2013

The new year cometh

The decorations are already down.
I've been going through stuff this year... hard stuff, honestly... and I'm eager to move on. So, I've had my Christmas spirit. We're still drinking out of Christmas mugs until after the new year, but I've already taken down the tree. Bring on 2014 and hopefully some progress on some of my issues. (Ok... stopping for a peaceful breath here).

In other news, and in random order, here are a couple of awesome things that have happened recently:
Sunrise this morning before heading to the wetlands to count
shorebirds, water birds, and various other kinds of birds.

We lit a spiral of candles for the solstice and asked our friends
to each add a light representing a wish they have for the new year.

I have Doctor Who salt and pepper shakers now!
It was a particularly Doctor Christmas this year. Love!
I hope you all have resolutions for the new year, even if it's something generic. We should all start the year looking forward to something, I think. I'll be back in a couple of days to document my own resolutions.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Insecure Writers' Support Group

It's that time again! It's the first Wednesday in March. That means it's time for Insecure Writer's Support Group, hosted by Alex Cavanaugh. Anyone can join, so hop on over to the IWSG page for more information and sign up!

So "the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry," said Robert Burns. I had lofty schemes of finishing a NaNo novel this year, and after the first week I dropped the ball. Well, but that's not exactly true... it's just that a daily word count became less important than some of the other things that November threw at me.

I always feel guilty for setting my writing aside, but then I try to remind myself that a well balanced life is my goal. Because, in all honesty, it is. I want to enjoy my life and feel like the things I pursue are enhancing it, instead of eroding it. Do any of you find that problem with balance?

On that note, I'm off for pastry and time with some out-of-town friends.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

It's that time of year

Somebody oughta tell these guys that it's not safe for them to be wandering about town this time of year...
On the back side of our block. There were a dozen total!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Insecure Writer's Support Group!

Hi everyone! It's the first Wednesday in October. That means it's time for Insecure Writer's Support Group, hosted by ninja captain, Alex Cavanaugh. Anyone can join, so hop on over to the IWSG page and sign up!

My first post in this group for a while. I apologize for my absence. I was... deep under the tidal wave of real life called "Moving Across Country." I think, maybe, that I've figured out how to tread water in my daily life again instead of drowning the way that I have been for the past few months. Ha! And I'm trying to prove it to myself by writing this post out early and scheduling it for the correct day. Because, honestly, I don't want to miss it! Being part of your collective support and feeling supported by IWSG has been such an important part of my growth as a writer over the past couple of years. I appreciate it. VERY MUCH.

So, as it always happens after I've signed up for NaNo, I'm suddenly busy with a trillion things to do! I have three manuscripts to edit, a friend coming from out of town to stay for a while, lots of Doctor Who to watch before the 50th anniversary ep airs on November 23rd (I'm going to see it in 3D on the 25th), more to do at the horse barn... it's just a massive pile of everything good. And I'm grateful for that... that it's all good things... it's just...

Why is it that when I commit to do something like NaNo I get an avalanche of everything else that I want or need to do? Is it the Universe messing with me?

Does this happen to anyone else?

Let's hope by the time you read this that I'm seven- or eight-thousand words further along on my manuscript. That's what NaNo is for, and I'd like to think I have the resolve to get there. Fingers crossed... or not, because I need them for typing.

Happy writing, NaNoing, or whatever adventures in make-believe and magic you are having in your creative life today.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Jump in with both feet

I've been waffling for weeks now. I know NaNoWriMo is coming up November 1st. I know it... and yet, when people started talking about plotting and planning and getting involved this year, I hesitated.

Mostly I think I hesitated because I was scared. NaNo is a big commitment! It's one of those things that you can go to as lightly or as seriously as you want and it'll have the same effect on your life... total madness for 30 days!

Thing is... I have a good story this year. I have a couple of compelling characters and an interesting plot... already... that I've been "meaning to work on" since we moved and I haven't yet. Maybe the madness of NaNo is just what I need to get them out of my head and onto (virtual) paper?

So... here I go!

What about you? Are you NaNoing this year? Look me up on the NaNo site: fairbetty. I'd love to have more writing buddies in all this madness!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The delight of resurrected nerdiness

I love... I mean absolutely LOVE... being back in Davis, CA. There are MANY things I love about this town, but the one thing I love the most... our crazy, awesome friends.

Let me explain. In 2007, my husband got accepted to UC Davis to complete his undergraduate degree. He was a non-traditional student (older and married), so he didn't have the same undergrad experience that a lot of you have probably had. No dorm living, no late night binges, no all-nighters to cram for that mid-term... We lived quietly. I worked in one of the deans' offices. We made friends, but slowly.

One particular group of friends for me grew out of my place of work. The "cool kids," or the nerd-tastic kids however you want to label us, all sort of gravitated toward each other, and one day, on a whim, we started a book club. We kept up this club for over a year (!), added members, and even had a little blog for a while. We called ourselves the Finer Things Club, or FTC, after a similar group on The Office. We read all genres and then discussed what we loved or hated about the books over lunch and Futerama in the CRU basement office. (That's Computer Resources Unit, if you're wondering.)

In early 2010, N got a job offer in Connecticut, and we moved away. The FTC kept up their reading for a little while after I left... I'm not sure how long, but I AM sure they gave it a valiant effort. Eventually, though, people moved on to other things.

Connecticut was ... cold. It was dark... N worked long hours at a HIGHLY stressful job... and I became a (almost literal) hermit. We had very few friends there, but the ones we did make we valued greatly. Still, when the time came to decide what to do next, the obvious choice for us was to head West again. It was a no-brainer decision for me, moving back here... Davis is where our friends are... it's in CALIFORNIA (where, among other awesome things, there are no painfully snowy and cold winters, at least not in the Sacramento Valley)... and it's a great place for our next steps toward what we want.

Anyhow, here it is, October 2013, and we've been back in Davis for a month. And seriously y'all, the BEST THING EVER... the thing that is making me smile the most right now... is the way our friends here have opened their arms and welcomed us back. Leslie especially, and Lauren, and Debbie... and all my horse barn friends... I even had lunch with my dean's office friends the other week and the FTC was mentioned more than a few times.

But better than that, better than people just remembering me as the queen bee of our nerdy little book club... we're going to start it again! Our first book for the resurrected FTC is World War Z, by Max Brooks. Nothing could be more appropriate.

If any of you FTCers are reading this, I'm sending you a cyber hug and am looking forward to getting together to discuss the zombie apocalypse and the end of the world. FTC FTW!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

A Carriage Driving Event (Photos)

Marathon day at the Sargents' CDE in Lodi

An obstacle

Shelly, Debbie, and the fabulous Alejandro
We were rooting form them.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Return trip: Settling in (Lots of photos)

We made it to Cali! There were a couple of days that I wasn't sure that was going to be possible... but we made it, safe and sound, to be greeted warmly by our friends.

I'm so grateful to be here. The apartment we're living in is spacious and quiet (most of the time) and largely unpacked now. We have art on the walls and I have an office! It's in the guest room, of course, but it's my own space from which to work and I like it so far.
Living Room

But I'm most happy to be in Davis because of the people. CA people are my kind of people... and we have some good friends here. Who could ask for more?
Our hammock lives at Leslie's now (down the street from
us). She's loving it.

We had a night of Melon Madness where we tasted as many
heirloom melon varieties as we could find.

There are plenty of great places to walk the pup. He's so
I took photos for the Brian Sabo clinic that Debbie and Leslie rode in the week after we got back. Here are a few of my shots.
Debbie on Quincy 
Winston's nose

Leslie and Winston

Michelle and Loki warming up for their lesson


Debbie on Grace. The only picture I caught of her with a
smile on her face.
Next post will hopefully have some pictures of a Carriage Driving Event in it. Right now I'm going to have breakfast and head to an open meditation session at the Davis Meditation Center. Time to clear my mind and get centered.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Return trip to Cali: St. Louis

Ok... so I haven't posted every day since we started driving. That is probably due to the fact that I have been having a literal nervous breakdown. I'm mostly better now... but it was at the cost of visiting my family in Chattanooga "on the way." Yeah, it wasn't on the way, but it would have been nice to see them. Instead, I spent a day in bed in a hotel room in Columbus, Ohio. So not fun.

But... I woke up this morning and felt better, so we jumped at the chance and hit the road. I managed today with no random bursts of tears or panic attacks.

The animals have been great, completely chill (as much as cats can be chill in a car). Tag is so good... surviving and doing his best to share space with Jack and Gill. Bangs spends all his time in the back of the car, even though he started in the front. It's rough, but we're managing.

Tomorrow we're headed to Omaha, and I will hopefully have dinner with someone I haven't seen in ... is it possible it's been 15 years? Crazy.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Cross-country: Reblogged (Chicago to Cleveland)

We're moving back to CA on Saturday. Yay!!! So in preparation for that event, I'm reposting the journey from CA to CT that took place 3+ years ago. Here's hoping that this trip goes a little more smoothly. We certainly learned a few tricks in the process! Next posts will be from the road.

May 31, 2010

We're outside Cleveland tonight... everyone is snuggled up on the bed together. I think they're pretty tired. I know I am. Tomorrow we drive from Cleveland to Stamford where we'll be staying in a hotel for a few more nights. Our stuff doesn't arrive until likely June 7... which, incidentally is Noah's first day at the new job.

We're ready to be done driving. It's been a long journey and we are glad to be getting to the end of it.

Tonight we're watching Bones re-runs and a thunderstorm that is rolling past the window.

I'll leave you with a few random pictures of the Midwest.

*Updated: I forgot to mention I ate at Cracker Barrel twice in 2 days... sigh. Love CB!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Cross-Country: Reblogged (Omaha to Chicago)

We're moving back to CA in 1 week. Yay!!! So in preparation for that event, I'm reposting the journey from CA to CT that took place 3+ years ago. Here's hoping that this trip goes a little more smoothly. We certainly learned a few tricks in the process!

May 30, 2010:

Today was a big day! We drove across Iowa

and across the Mississippi river

to Illinois.

Iowa, by the way, has tons of windmills generating large amounts of renewable energy. Way to go Iowa!

Around the 4th hour of the journey today, Bangs woke up from his drugged slumber... this is never a good sign. He began trying to escape his spot in the lap of the front seat passenger (me)... and even meowed a couple times (a sign he's stressed). We pulled off at the next exit, poured litter in the litter box, and shoved him inside. After a shocked second of sniffing, he pooed in the box, looking quite relieved. Sorry I don't have any photos to share with you :)

At the same exit, what should we find but a Culvers!

We are both, sadly, vegetarian, so no butter burgers for us, but we did have yummy krinkle fries and Noah got a chocolate shake (their chocolate custard was coming out in liquid form so we couldn't have any of that). Happy memories of times shared with our Madison, WI, friends :)

After arriving at the La Quinta in Tinley Park, IL, just south of Chicago, we decided to take Tag out for a walk/run about, so we checked on-line and found a wilderness-ish park area nearby. We hopped in the car and drove over.

Our enjoyment of this outdoor adventure lasted all of 20 minutes. About then 2 things happened. First Tag stepped on my shoe and I walked out of it. As I was retrieving my shoe, Noah began flapping me wildly with his hands because I was covered... yes, covered... in ticks. Immediately I thought "O my god, the dog..." Indeed, he and Noah were also covered in ticks.

Now, in normal circumstances, this might not be so horrifying, but... lest we forget, I have a collie... a long haired collie... I have no flea/tick shampoo with me in Illinois, and I have 4 cats back at the hotel that could also pick up ticks from the dog... I panicked mildly.

We nearly ran back to the car, grabbed Tag's brush, flipped him over, and started searching him for ticks. I've never seen so many!

We then proceeded to a PetSmart where we purchased flea and tick applications for the dog and the cats.

5 angry animals (they hate flea/tick medicine), one shower and 2 loads of laundry later, I think we can relax a little now.

Tomorrow, Cleveland!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Cross-Country: Reblogged (Denver to Omaha)

We're moving back to CA in 2(ish) weeks. Yay!!! So in preparation for that event, I'm reposting the journey from CA to CT that took place 3+ years ago. Here's hoping that this trip goes a little more smoothly. We certainly learned a few tricks in the process! (thankfully, the crying kitty from this video has found a new home and will NOT be travelling with us this time)

May 29, 2010

This is a quick video of what our drive was like today.

NNK had to stay in her crate today. She was too noisy and unpredictable... at least in the crate we knew where she was the whole time. :)

Friday, August 16, 2013

Cross-country: Reblogged (Salt Lake to Denver)

We're moving back to CA in 2(ish) weeks. Yay!!! So in preparation for that event, I'm reposting the journey from CA to CT that took place 3+ years ago. Here's hoping that this trip goes a little more smoothly. We certainly learned a few tricks in the process!

We had a better day today. Nobody pooped in their crates. There was no hail... in fact it was sunny and warm the whole day of driving.

We are safe in Denver now, with a free upgrade to a suite... lovin' La Quinta!

Let me tell you a little bit about what it takes to get 4 cats and a dog into and out of a hotel every day. I'll start with packing the car...

Back of Subaruby: Bottom layer, a baby gate and a fold-able soft crate. Next suitcases and cat litters. 2 crates with cats on top of that, then litter boxes, food bowls, and a scratch post crammed in last.

Back seat: The Ark (food bin with supplies for all the pets), lock box, lap top, blankets, dog bed, dog.

Front seat: miscellaneous essentials... passenger, driver...

When we get to the hotel, we unload the crate and gate, the Ark, litter boxes, litter, scratch post, food bowls, crates with cats, and dog bed onto a hotel cart, and bring the dog with us up to the room. While Noah is unloading the cart, I put up the gate in the bathroom door and set up the litter boxes. We release the cats in the bathroom with the litter box to make sure they know where it is... they can explore from there... we use a gate so that Tag doesn't go digging for buried treasure.

While the cats are exploring, one of us goes back for the rest of our stuff (suitcases/laptop, etc.) and the other begins doling out pet food. Once everyone has eaten, Tag gets a walk and we start thinking about dinner.

In the morning, we do the whole thing in reverse, loading the cats last to make the torture as short as possible.

Today we tried something different. NNK spent the first hour or so wailing in the crate. I think she was protesting being put back in the same crate as Mr. Poopy (Bangs).

After a little while of this, we decided to pull over and let the cats loose from their crates. Bangs was still pretty drugged, so we put him in Noah's lap.

NNK needed to be re-drugged after a while before she calmed down... but then she was out like a light.

The kittens spent a while looking around and then crashed out on the back seat with Tag and we had the calmest, quietest day of travel yet.

Tomorrow we're off to the Iowa side of Omaha... another long day but without the mountains. I'll leave you with some pictures of the drive today.