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* * *
Final countdown to my mom's arrival:

     On Wednesday there was an open house at the building that used to be the St Paul Woolworth's. I went with Dawn and it was great to hear her and Lenore's memories of that place from decades past. They handed out popcorn and root beer by the old counter, and there was an ancient menu on the wall from when banana splits were only 25 cents!

     Between moving and vacation I've been pretty Farmers-market deprived this summer, so it was a treat to get out there Thursday and grab brussels sprouts and beets.

     I keep making delightful discoveries in my new place, particularly the kitchen. Like the fact that the sink head converts into a spray hose. One outlet there has USB ports for charging a cell phone or the like and having it at hand in the kitchen. The microwave 'chirps' at intervals to remind me I haven't taken my food out yet. The bathroom light switch has an LED built into it so it can be found when blundering to the bathroom in the middle of the night. And one of the bins in the fridge can actually be slid from side to side in order to have more flexibility with arranging items.

     Despite being very busy, I'm glad I was able to finally get on the exercise bike again, though I had to divide my movie over two nights. And those two nights already tied my wretched mileage for July, ha ha.

     Very happy to get pass 6 work on my second Geren book to the 50% mark, since I know I won't be making much progress once my mom arrives...
Emotional Status:
rushed rushed
* * *
Recent delights:

     Sure, I'll be hearing them more often now, but I quite appreciate how close my new place is to a fire station.

     Made a good chunk of progress over the weekend with unpacking and settling in.

     As a much-needed break/reward after so much unpacking, I treated myself out to see Pete's Dragon on Sunday. And I LOVED it! Sweet, slower-paced, and beautiful, a delicious antidote to the overcaffeinated culture and too much of my own pace lately.

     Tuesday was a social day, because I had lunch with my former boss, and then in the evening had dinner with the Johnson's, who were so wonderfully kind as to watch my plants and flowers for me while I was on vacation and moving. And I got to bring nearly all of them back, which will also help with feeling more moved in.

Emotional Status:
busy busy
* * *
So glad it's a Friday!

     Grateful to be getting better after waking up Sunday with a swollen throat and getting sick after that. At least on Wednesday and Thursday nights I had better sleep and finally didn't feel feverish.

     Been living off pizza and the wonderful pastries Anna gave me, but on Thursday evening I finally out for some food shopping and enjoyed how fast a drive it is from my new location.

     Internal frustration has been high lately due to the lack of time for writing, revisions, editing, art, or much else meaningful, with all my time currently devoured by the necessary or the 'urgent.' So I'm very glad that I was able to get the prep-work for pass 6 of my second Geren book finished Wednesday night and get the review going. This is a pass I can work on during my bus rides and sometimes lunch breaks, which will be a great blessing as I don't have time for it at home.

     And...settling in is coming along. It's starting to look like a really messy place, rather than tornado aftermath, so that's progress!
Emotional Status:
rushed rushed
* * *
The 'homeless' days are ended!

     So so grateful to the Towners for letting me stay at their place after I got back from Canada while I was waiting to get the keys for my new place. I was blessed in using a bedroom in the basement--it was a hot sticky week so their central air was running so much I about froze at times. Delicious! They were actually gone quite a lot, but we did get to have some meals together.

     Grateful again for the help I received with moving my stuff Saturday from storage to the new place. Joe and Mary helped, along with my former teammate Anna, who came by for a couple hours. Not only that, but she gave me a housewarming gift, which has been a big blessing since I haven't gotten to go shopping, so those muffins were great for breakfast and lunch today. She got me some cute little jam jars as well--so sweet!

     Another blessing on my move was the weather cooling to more normal temps and the ghastly humidity letting up. We all appreciated the non-sultry breeze on Saturday as we were hauling stuff.
Emotional Status:
drained drained
* * *
Back in warm, sticky Minnesota:

     Saturday was fiasco day on the vacation, but Sunday brought some delights. We made it back to Joe Fortes in Vancouver Sunday for a dinner that might even be more fabulous than the first one. This time we got dessert too--incredible!

     Sunday night we got to see Othello done by Bard on the Beach, set during the American Civil War time period. I was glad to see it, more so as it was the only one of Shakespeare's great tragedies I hadn't read or seen yet (yes, quite remiss).

     Grateful for safe travel throughout the entire trip, and for overwhelmingly good weather.

     My first flight Monday, from Vancouver to Seattle, was on a small plane and a lot of fun. I could watch the ferries going between Tsawwassen and Swartz Bay like the one I rode the prior week. Got to see Victoria from the air, spot a huge container ship that reminded me of Captain Phillips, and recognize the long sandbars outside Port Angeles and Dungeness on the Olympic Peninsula, which brought back memories of driving out to one to watch the sunset.

     Tomorrow it's back to work, so what a blessing to have a quiet day to get a little settled at the Towners and catch up on a few tasks. Also wonderful to find out I can get the keys to my new place this Friday!
Emotional Status:
pleased pleased
* * *
Plenty of delights in Banff and Jasper National Parks:

     My mom and I went for a drive along the Bow Valley Parkway Tuesday evening, where it was quiet and few others were around (compared to the overpopulated madhouse that is the town of Banff in the summer). Toward the end of our drive we were blessed to see a large black bear cross the road in front of us and feed on the bushes.

     The Icefields Parkway Drive between Lake Louise in Banff and the town of Jasper definitely rivals the Going-to-the-Sun road in Glacier as the most gorgeous drive I've been on. So many lovely lakes, huge glaciers, and some neat waterfalls as well. Near the end of our drive Wednesday, before reaching Athabasca Falls, we were delighted to spot mountain goats by the side of the road--two mothers with their two kids.

     Delighted to be able to take photos of a fantastic rainbow the evening we got into Jasper. Mountain rainbows are so great, because they really look like they go into the ground in a place someone could reach. And it made up for the rainbow in Waterton I saw 11 years ago and didn't have a camera around to capture.

     Thursday morning was amazing, because we drove over to Maligne Lake, and were blessed to get three tickets for the 11:30 boat ride to Spirit Island. They had sold out weeks ago, but there just 'happened' to be five cancellations right before another couple and our group showed up to ask. So we got the last three spots! And the views on the boat ride when they let us off to take photos are among the most gorgeous I've ever seen. Since the weather was mostly cloudy, my photos can't do the place justice at all.

     Walking beside the lake beforehand, I was delighted to spot, photograph, and get video of a common loon swimming and diving in the water. It was amazing to watch him chasing fish underwater--they swim so fast!

     On Friday morning Cindy and I drove to Mt Edith Cavell and did a long walk up to the wildflower meadows. Great views of Angel Glacier, Ghost Glacier, Edith Cavell Glacier and the meltwater with ice floating in it at the bottom. Beautiful forest, marmots and pika around to delight in watching, and amazing views at the top above the tree line.

     Friday was a big blessing because the forecast was for rain but it ended up being the sunniest day of our visit. That meant my mom and I were able to get back to Maligne Canyon in the evening and walk around a little--after the crowds had dispersed, which made it even more wonderful. Love that place! Then on the drive back to Jasper we got to see a huge elk with an amazing rack of antlers...to remind me of hyarmi and their forest-lord, of course.
Where I'm At:
Jasper, Alberta, Canada
Emotional Status:
hungry hungry
* * *
Lots of blessings during my trip with my mom and her friend Cindy:

     We strolled into Joe Fortes in downtown Vancouver shortly before 6 pm on Thursday evening...without reservations. So what a treat they had a place for us on their outdoor patio with lovely views and breezes and amazing food--everything was fabulous.

     Our first night in Victoria on Vancouver Island we went out for a sunset whale-watching cruise on a powerful catamaran. It was amazing. We got to see one humpback whale, then spent a bunch of time watching orcas from J pod hunting salmon. They were widely scattered at first, but around sunset a bunch of them gathered together and got a little playful, slapping the water and even jumping a little, as well as making lots of vocalizations underwater that we got to hear through a microphone.

     The following day we were graced with fabulous weather for our visit to the world-renowned Butchart Gardens. It was an amazing afternoon; words can't do that place justice at all. Unfortunately since we came on a Saturday to stay late for the fireworks, we got to share the beauty with an oversized horde of other people. I'm glad I could buy a calendar to remind me of the gardens next year.

     Sunday morning before leaving Victoria brought two treats. We went to the Robert Bateman Centre to see his amazing art, and it was neat to learn that he lives on a nearby island. Not only did we get free admission because of the bus tour we took the previous day, but while we were there the employees told us about the water taxis in the harbor doing a 'water ballet' at 11 am once a week, and we got to watch it from the museum which made for a fabulous view. A lot of the moves reminded me of dressage, except done on tiny boats rather than horses. Adorable!
Where I'm At:
Banff, Alberta, Canada
Emotional Status:
rushed rushed
* * *
On my way to Canada!

     The trip to Monterey with my mom and my eldest niece and nephew went great. We had a good time at the Monterey Bay Aquarium and I enjoyed the new exhibits, and especially the fascinating presentation on current research with great white sharks. The following day involved places new to me--first the Point Lobos State Natural Preserve which reminded me of Oregon with its rugged coastline, and where we were blessed to see four wild sea otters and the entertainment of an adorable harbor seal pup trying to crawl up an outcropping to reach its basking mother. Thanks to the blessing of low tide being at 9 am, got to enjoy the tide pools at Weston Beach as well, with plenty of crabs and even a bunch of sea anemones. After that, we visited the Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose, which was also a lot of fun. I quite enjoyed the IMAX presentation with footage taken at the International Space Station.

     All that doesn't include the great places we found for eating in Monterey, and the blessing of safe travel. It felt great to enjoy 60s in Monterey while it was 100 back in Sacramento.

     Once back, one nice way to beat the heat was treating my parents out to see Star Trek: Beyond at the theater. I quite enjoyed it.

     Since Sacramento just had to be so welcoming as to have the temperature at my parents' house be at least 102 on Tuesday, and 103 on Wednesday, I must renew my ever-present gratitude for the marvel of air conditioning, without which I certainly wouldn't be sleeping, or hardly eating.

     Check in at the Sacramento airport for the first leg to Seattle went quite smoothly and our flight even took off early. A joy to see snow on the mountains as the plane flies over Oregon, beautiful views of the Olympic Penisula and Mount Rainier and know that I'm on my way to some glorious avarii country!
Where I'm At:
Sea-Tac Airport
Emotional Status:
excited excited
* * *
Very grateful for a change of pace!

     I'm so glad for God's grace and people's prayers as I got down to the wire with moving out and leaving on my trip. Went to bed at 11 Sunday night, after 12 on Monday night, and after 3:30 am on...Wednesday morning, then back up before 5 am every morning. It was a lot of work, and not as much done as I wanted, but I got everything I own into storage or at the Towners (or in my suitcase). Oddly enough, the summer depression I experience was actually a help, since staying up late packing and cleaning when it's so warm and sticky meant I was too hot and miserable to feel sleepy.

     I ran out of time to get as much cleaning as I wanted done at Aldamar. The walkthrough was 9 am on Wednesday, but the property manager saw what I did and not what I didn't quite finish (in particular, mopping). He appreciated the pretty full water softener salt tank and the empty trash cans, and there's a very good chance I'll be getting the entirety of my $1025 security deposit back, thank God!

     If I had to be caught up in the Southwest outage debacle, get my first flight delayed two hours, miss my connection in Denver, then be stuck there around six hours until midnight and get to my parents' house around 4 am Minnesota time...well, at least it was the best time for it. Flying out rather than returning to work, and no hotel reservations, rental cars, or other deadlines to deal with. Southwest shouldn't hold its breath on my flying with them again anytime soon, however!

     Also glad that my luggage amazingly made the trip with me, and didn't get delayed or lost or sent to the wrong place.

     So Sacramento summers are far from cool, but what a blessing to escape a brutal heat wave back home with heat indexes past 100 and can't-breathe dew points 70 and above. And now that Sacramento will be heading for 100 degrees, I'll be heading to Monterey with my mom and my eldest niece and nephew!
Where I'm At:
Sacramento, CA
Emotional Status:
sore sore
* * *
So glad for the good stuff:

     Friday around 2:30 was when I learned my application had been accepted for the apartment I'd toured Wednesday night. So glad the lease signing went smoothly Saturday, and also very glad I didn't have to wonder about my application all weekend.

     Very blessed that Linda was willing to watch my plants (indoors and outdoors) for me, since the Towners will be in Texas for part or all of my vacation. I brought them over Saturday and she was amazed how huge Schleffie has gotten--so was I since I barely fit it in the Towner's minivan!

     I have been far too busy to get on the exercise bike in the past week or so, but because a lot of that busyness is due to packing and hauling stuff to the storage unit, the loss of that exercise certainly hasn't impacted my weight!

     My left knee started acting up Saturday morning, but it's a cause for gratitude as well. Not only because it took so long before it started getting unhappy, but because it was fine again Sunday morning, which was when I got my heavier dresser and tv into storage.

     So glad that the month-and-a-half long search for a new place is finally ended, and that my move day will hopefully be August 13th, if the renovations are done in time.
Emotional Status:
exhausted exhausted
* * *
Recent delights:

     Cracker Barrel with the Towner's Tuesday night, delicious as always. Then they came over to my place and Joe used their 'Little Giant' ladder to replace items I'd knocked down years ago and couldn't reach with the vaulted ceiling. It was neat to see that ladder in action (especially setting it up on a stairs) and their kindness was VERY much appreciated!

     I'm tempted to call my storage unit "Elijah's storage space" because I have put an amazing amount of stuff in there and it is not full yet. Appreciate that!

     I haven't been able to enjoy Farmer's Market produce much lately because I need to eat my way through my fridge and freezer before I'm 'homeless,' but...I did treat myself to some sweet corn Thursday. Yum!

     Last but not least...it has been really hard to come up with editing time amidst the packing and showings, and it will be harder in the days ahead. So I'm very grateful I persevered and pass 5 with the second Geren book is DONE!
Emotional Status:
busy busy
* * *
Lots of gratitudes:

     Some major storms hit the Twin Cities Tuesday night. I'm grateful I never lost power, my area had no damage, and when I went to check my storage unit the next morning, not a drop of water got in.

     On Wednesday, two weeks after my birthday, my boss kindly treated me to the church lunch as a belated gift. It was a southern/Mexican theme for the menu, and I particularly enjoyed the southwest pumpkin soup and the sour cream raisin bars. Very nice of her!

     Due to the remarkable blessing of my work projects 'behaving' and there being very few setbacks, I got through a lot more on the job and faster than I hoped...which meant no guilt about taking Friday off and doing a three-day workweek.

     Blessed to have the post-storm humidity break and the last couple nights be not bad. Friday was a gorgeous day for July--breezy, not humid, fairly cloudy, and only in the 70s. I was blessed I could have it off and do a bit of packing and prep-work.

     This one is for my mom. Every time I drive to the storage unit, I pass a house that has a mailbox nearly buried by a big healthy clematis vine just covered with flowers. I think of my mom every time I see it, so on Friday morning I got a photo!

     Got out to a showing for a condo rental Friday evening, and I quite liked the place, so I submitted an application. It was listed for September, but I asked for an earlier date because it was nearly empty already. Now, Saturday, I just got to sign a Property Hold that's offering an August 1st lease start date! Yay!
Emotional Status:
lethargic lethargic
* * *
Weekend blessings:

     Considering it's early July, the weather has been far more merciful than I could hope for. Upper 70s for a high Saturday and even Sunday, and the mornings were wonderful those days as well. Friday was even better--I actually got my apartment down to 65 by morning!

     So grateful for the Towner's many kindnesses. This weekend, along with them praying over me and my seemingly-endless home search, it was also getting to borrow their minivan for a few days, so I could start filling up the storage unit I rented. Thanks to the weather, and the great hours at the storage unit, I could do some good work from 6 am onward, when it's cool enough for me to function. I could fit all sorts of stuff in that wonderful minivan on various trips--all my bookcases, and the desk, nightstand, and dresser from the guest bedroom, as well as loads of boxes. Thankfully moving out of my home is not as bad as moving in, since most everything just needs to be slid down the stairs, not up!

     The storage location is fabulous, as it's only about 2.5 miles from where I live, and in a beautiful triangle between/above two highways. When I drive over at 6 am, I see/hear loads of birds, and I've counted more rabbits around outside the area than I've seen anywhere...which makes me wonder what the dogs staying at the next-door kennel feel about that fact!

     I didn't get to do as much hauling Monday morning because I had previously scheduled a platelet donation for 7:45. So blessed that my iron was just high enough, and because I gave on the holiday weekend, I got a free Red Cross lunch bag. Perfect timing, as the one I'm currently using is at the disintegrating disgrace stage!
Emotional Status:
rushed rushed
* * *
Another rough up-and-down week emotionally, with seasonal depression sprinkled atop, but there are always blessings!

     The nasty weekend heat broke and I had a couple of good nights of sleep Monday and Tuesday, which I was able to spend part or all of the night on my futon instead of the air mattress. That sure helped after the weekend!

     It's been a few months since we last got together, so having lunch at Hunan Garden with Bill and Dawn on Tuesday was a real treat. Nice to catch up and some great food too!

     I've been working on the latter part of pass 4 concurrently with the beginning of pass 5 with my second Geren book, in an attempt to stay on track, but it has been very time-consuming. So I'm very grateful to have finally finished pass 4 on Tuesday and be pretty close to 'quota' with my daily pass 5 work also.

     Best of all, a treat Thursday morning when I heard back from my second beta reader for DWoT (she'd been delayed a week due to unplanned events). She really loved the story and is eager to read the next book!
Emotional Status:
hungry hungry
* * *
Glad to survive the horribly hot weekend:

     Even by 9 am on Saturday, it was already well into the 80s and ghastly humid. So though I'd been looking forward to getting back to the local art fair after missing it last year, I didn't stay very long. Still, used birthday cash from my aunt to get a print for the guest bedroom, and also got to enjoy deep-fried cheese curds and then leave before me or my car melted.

     Church was neat on Sunday, as it was the annual Freedom Celebration to honor the veterans and those in military service. What made it even more special was having the former interim pastor speak, as he's a retired Air Force Colonel--and he even ran way over, as was his habit, ha ha! It was great to hear from him.

     My huge blessing this weekend was definitely my basement. Thanks to that, my cooling pads, cold drinks, and skimpy clothing, I made it through when my air conditioning could not keep up--particularly Saturday's 94 with 102 heat index due to the crazy humidity. Glad to make decent progress with book 2 work even though it was too hot Saturday for any cleaning or packing work. Sunday morning made up for that, thankfully!
Emotional Status:
hungry hungry
* * *
Recent delights:

     A quiet birthday this year, since it wasn't a milestone number and it fell on a Wednesday. Had a treat with the weather, though, as it was mostly cloudy, but not dull featureless clouds. Lots of layers and lovely patterns all day, beginning with a cloud that looked like an outspread bird's wing--I should have taken a picture.

     My birthday was a good excuse to stop by Panera that morning and get a lot of goodies to share with my coworkers--bagels, bearpaws, mini scones, fancy muffins. Didn't need lunch that day! Before I headed home, treated myself to falafel and my beloved fried sweet plantains thanks to Afro Deli. Also blessed by the kind cards/emails and generous gifts from my family.

     Got out to the Farmer's Market and "my bread guy" from last year was back, yay! Got myself some blueberry lemon bread but it was a hard choice with so many great options.

     Very glad to get rolling with pass 5 of my second Geren book this week. Also, Midsummer/my birthday brought my quickly-becoming-traditional reread of 'Vigil' and I'm very glad I didn't forget this year.
Emotional Status:
thoughtful thoughtful
* * *
Midsummer blessings:

     I'm not at all a fan of summer heat, but I do love fresh local goodies at the Farmers Market. On Saturday I got myself new potatoes, cauliflower, and asparagus, and it's been delicious.

     Also on Saturday I got feedback from one of the beta readers reviewing DWoT. She did a fantastic job, and I'm very excited over how much she enjoyed it and the weak/confusing spots she pointed out for me to tighten up. God willing, I will definitely be working with her again!

     On Sunday afternoon I needed to be out of my place for two showings. So I escaped the 90-degree heat by driving to work. My former boss, Bill, turned 30 on Saturday, so I thoroughly 'adorned' his desk to celebrate the occasion. He was thrilled Monday morning and figured out it was me faster than I expected!

     Some great news Monday--my coworker Dawn whose great-nephew Trenton was diagnosed with leukemia back in 2013 has done so well he just had his last spinal tap cancelled, finished his last IV chemo, and will get his port removed soon. So, so glad he has beaten this!
Emotional Status:
jubilant jubilant
* * *
So glad it's a Friday!

     Very glad for my change of pace last week. I was able to get a small art project done without any hitches, and now I have a new computer wallpaper to enjoy as consolation, since there won't be time for fun stuff like art, crafts, or writing for some time.

     I found a cooling pad on Amazon that has been a real blessing with fighting the miserable summer heat with my seasonal depression. Got two of them so I can swap, and I love it!

     I'm grateful that this month's bout of the female curse was blessedly pain-free and uneventful.

     A nice night at the Towners Tuesday. Kathy was there convalescing after her surgery on her heart/aorta and it was great to see her doing so well. Also great to have no bad news from the Mayo Clinic in regard to Joe's health.

     Hearing the stories there as well as elsewhere has reminded me of how blessed I am with my own health. Aside from my seasonal depression, the ever-present threat of another vertigo attack, and the female curse, my health is splendid. Thanks to more exercise and better diet, I'm in better condition than I was in my 20s or 30s, thank you God!
Emotional Status:
rushed rushed
* * *
A tough week in some respects, but it had lots of delights regardless:

     Delighted over how well my very small garden this summer is thriving. The tallest black-eyed susan vine has reached the top of my trellis already! My purslane, petunia, and evovulus have also grown by leaps and bounds.

     On Wednesday a delicious meal at the church lunch with Sarah and Anna--West African peanut soup, Asian noodle and Napa cabbage salad, pineapple cheese bread, and some fabulous pumpkin bread pudding that I really enjoyed.

     Had to drive to work Thursday as I was covering the monthly publish (and ended up staying to 7 pm). Quite a treat on the way--a morning rainbow, faint and brief, but that makes two in one week! And morning rainbows remind me of the one in my first Geren book, so twice as special.

     After work I dropped by the Johnson's--what a treat that the publish day should 'happen' to fall on her birthday! Got to give Linda a gift and talk with them for over an hour; it was a great time.

     So blessed to get two reprieves on Friday. The forecast was for 90s and humid, and I was dreading the walk home and how sick it might make me. But thanks to some passing storms, it was below 80 and cloudy--not bad at all! Also blessed, since I've been having trouble with my central air, that it worked all day when I really needed it to.

     Today the treat of the first weekend of the Saturday morning local Farmer's Market. I might not like summer, but I love fresh local veggies!

     During driving around this morning, I spotted catalpa trees in bloom--early this summer like everything else. Pineapple-weed has been blooming since the end of May, and both of those flowers I associate with my birthday. A treat to find more catalapas!
Emotional Status:
lethargic lethargic
* * *
Slowing down...

     Very glad to topple through the finish line with getting DWoT ready for Beta readers and let myself rest for a little bit. On Saturday I did NOTHING with editing, and my brain needed that!

     As a reward for making it, I've been enjoying the blueberry pie I snagged on sale back near Pi Day and stashed in my freezer until I 'earned' it. Yum!

     Also enjoyed getting out Saturday afternoon to see Captain America: Civil War a second time.

     A passing sunshower Monday evening yielded the first rainbow I've gotten to see in far too long.

     A couple last delicious days of May temperatures to savor before my area is due to get slammed by a heat wave. I've been loving my windows being open and my central air getting a rest. Got my place down to 64 inside both Tuesday and Wednesday mornings, just wonderful.

     It's been nice taking it slower in the evenings. I've been dividing my time between pass 4 work in the second Geren book, and doing a small art project in Vue. And since the pass 4 stage I'm in can't be done on the bus, I've been getting caught up with magazine reading too.
Emotional Status:
mellow mellow
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