Found out early in the week that my medical insurance costs for 2017 are only going up $4 per month, for which I am very relieved!
Since my entire team had our work service anniversaries in the past couple weeks, my boss brought in treats to share. Nice to enjoy mini coffee cakes and apple fritters...and very odd to realize that I've been employed there for 18 years now. A blessing indeed!
On Tuesday I drove in so I could do a platelet donation after work that evening. Thankfully my iron was just high enough (on the second poke) so I was able to give platelets and plasma, hurrah!
Happiness is a gift card in the mail that I earned with credit card points. I've been accumulating a few books on my Amazon wishlist, so I hope to get a few to enjoy in 2017.
Best of all, I finally finished my small changes to my first Triune novel, which means I'm ready to 'hire' another beta reader. Glad to be moving ahead!
I got to pick up my FedEx package Saturday and install the privacy window film in my bedroom that I've been wanting. It was not easy to do the measuring or get it hung up straight, but I really like it. Not only does it give privacy so I can walk around in there clothed however I want, but it filters the sunlight nicely so hopefully my African violet and other plants will handle it better. Beyond that, it's nicely made so that light coming through the patterns is either frosty-foggy or sometimes casting faint rainbows. Much prettier than the plain window film I used in the basement at my prior place. Very glad I bought it!
I had a whopping eight places to get to Saturday morning, but even though I'm not keen on doing lots of running around, it definitely brought some rewards. Since I had to stop at Home Depot for parts for a project, I went to the Goodwill across the street and was delighted to find a nice black iron dvd holder for just a few bucks. Not only did it help me empty one of my lingering moving boxes, but it fits very nicely on the side of one bookcase. The other treat was stopping by Bachmanns, drooling through their houseplant assortment, and happily bringing home a small Satin Pothos (Scindapsus pictus). I'd failed to find one in the other places I'd checked, and it's a species I really like.
What helped make Saturday's errand-running more fun was the fact that peak autumn color has come to my area. Even though Saturday was very cloudy and gloomy, it was still gorgeous everywhere I drove.
But Sunday was even better. I got out to the regional park right at dawn and took a nice 8 mile walk shooting tons of photos. The place was gorgeous, the weather magnificent, and what a blessing to get to savor it!
Enjoying some literal treats thanks to the United Way fundraiser bake sale I got to on Tuesday. Brownies and cookies, yum!
An interesting bit of fun on Thursday. Because of the Prince tribute concert that evening, the St Paul mayor called for a purple day, and my employer got in on it--anyone who wore purple also got to wear jeans! (And they lit up a couple places with purple lights too.) So that made for a fun day, with all the people who participated.
I've had more than enough frustration lately, so I'm glad also for the good things I really enjoy about my current lodging. Thanks to being on one level in a smaller space, vacuuming is a lot easier, as I don't have to be constantly unplugging it and hauling it up and down stairs. When I play a cd on my boom box, I can hear it in the kitchen and at my pc, and my cds are not a long many-stairs trip from the boom box either. For the first time in decades, I'm living in a place that does not have walls that are all stark hospital white. I really love that the room doors and closets are a nice white finish, after ages in places with beat-up ugly brown wood doors. The baseboards are white too, and since I hate the color brown, this delights me. And if the cold weather must cause an insect invasion, what a treat that they're all ladybugs!
It's amazing how an event in the past can be seen in a different light after gaining new knowledge. That was my experience last week, when I stumbled across an article about the results of a massive study tracking 1 million women and finding a strong correlation between the birth control pill (and other birth control methods) and depression. Checking my old journal revealed that my major depression started around 4 months after first getting on the pill (which I did to try to control the damage my period was doing to my health and body). While correlation obviously does not equal causation, I'd long blamed the emotional losses of latter 2006/early 2007 for triggering the most awful event of my life, and now I know there's more at play than that. What a huge blessing from heaven to learn this!
I had busy weekend taking advantage of some great autumn weather. On Saturday I drove down to Red Wing for their annual Art Fair, and also got in a short walk at Frontenac State Park and a visit to the Pepin Heights apple store. A nice day all around.
On Sunday I headed north to Wild River State Park, which I haven't been to in a while. The autumn color was much better up there than around Red Wing, but the highlight of my seven mile hike was definitely the ruffed grouse. I heard a few of them, but better yet got to see some, and even got a photo! Between pheasants, wild turkeys, and grouse, grouse are certainly the gamebird I encounter the least.
The drive back was beautiful, highlighted by spotting a pair of bald eagles sitting side by side in a big dead tree. Cute!
Also happy that I got my cover image project for the DWoT eBook completed, and I'm finally getting up to the final stages with the DWoT revisions as well.
Blessings amid frustrations:
Interesting day last Wednesday at work, because I spent most of the afternoon on a tour of the BCP site (the fallback site in event of a local disaster that prevents my employer from doing business at their main buildings). It was really interesting to see the place, talk through the disaster scenario presented, add to lists of needed supplies and try to imagine having to actually work there. A lot of labor put into a precaution that is hopefully never needed.
Lots of setbacks during the evenings last week, due to either the female curse or a coworker wanting my help over the phone. But despite that, glad to be making slow but tangible progress on both improvements to DWoT and on the eBook cover illustration I'm working on.
Related to that, I had a shocking surprise on the weekend. Vue had an upgrade patch it wanted installed, so I did that without paying much attention to the matter. Then to my amazement I discovered soon afterward that a lot of the glitchy issues that hindered my use of the software (and which I'd lost weeks trying to figure out and resolve last year) had suddenly disappeared. What a blessing! Since I hope to be spending a lot of time in Vue over the next few months, I really appreciate the boost in efficiency with the bugs gone! (Well, some of them.)
Around the middle of the month my air mattress started to tear apart on the inside and create a 'bulge' in the middle. It's been a race ever since, waiting for it to get cool enough to abandon sleeping on it while the bulge got longer and harder to sleep on every night. Very glad I made it! The bulge reached 100% of the mattress length by the 20th, but on the 22nd I could get away with sleeping on a regular mattress and not be too overheated. It was hard trying to balance on that thing in my sleep and not slide off!
The last week has brought even more crazy quantities of rain (and hail on Wednesday night), though thankfully my area didn't get the worst of it. So that reminds me, despite my disgruntlement over more evenings of splashing homeward huddled under an umbrella, that I should count my blessings. Nice thing about being in a second-floor apartment is that I don't have to worry about water in the basement, or leaking through the roof!
On Saturday morning I got together with Joe for a long-anticipated bike ride. (He's been wanting to do one with me since my bike has been living in their garage the last few months.) He took me around a whole lot of the local paths and down to the regional park, and we covered 22 miles total. My rear did not appreciate so much quality time with the bike seat, but I'm delighted I was hardly even sore the following day.
I had lunch with my boss's boss, Jodi, today. I don't think we've ever done that before, not just the two of us. I got to enjoy delicious sweet corn tamales, black beans, and rice from La Loma, and we had a great time catching up, as it has been a crazy summer for both of us, but hers was definitely crazier. I am so blessed to have her as my manager (and former boss).
Over the weekend I got the last items moved out of the larger storage unit. It feels good to have that wrapped up, but that 50% off for three months storage unit was a big blessing this summer.
Also got out on the weekend to see Sully and I'm glad I did. I appreciated how the movie was structured to reveal events in layers and maintain uncertainly. I was also amazed by the flight attendants.
Monday at work was a terrible horrible day, but Monday evening at home was wonderful because I kicked off writing the novella The Furthest Leap. Progress will probably be slow, but very glad I can finally get back to writing!
Also very glad, that with life settling down and pass 6 wrapped up, I can do some fiction reading for fun again. It has been FAR too long.
Last but not least, happy that I got the editing contract signed and the first half of the payment mailed out to my editor. Little more than a month until she starts!
What a week! Work from Tuesday through Friday morning was the most ghastly stretch I've had in a while. Worse, I had commitments three evenings in a row, so I couldn't stay late and also started getting really grouchy with no 'me' time. But with two big joys this week, all the nasty is greatly outweighed.
I had church lunch on Wednesday with my boss, her sister-in-law, and one of her 'renters.' My second time having ratatouille; I was a little apprehensive because when I had it at the fancy restaurant in Yosemite it was not tasty at all. But I'm glad I gave it another chance, because this variety was so good I wanted the recipe!
On Wednesday night I made myself go to an after-work networking type of event in downtown Minneapolis, celebrating the new office location for a consulting company my area sometimes works with. At least I could ride the bus and light rail to get in and out, and do lots of pass 6 work on book 2 during that time. But the real treat for me was getting to meet my boss's husband at last. We've both heard so much about each other, ha ha. And I could get the latest news on the Costco that is coming to Woodbury.
Speaking of Costco, when my mom took me and Cindy during her visit, I impulsively grabbed a 28 oz bag of organic Algerian Deglet Noor dried dates. It has been a real challenge to not devour the entire bag by the end of the week! (Fasting day on Thursday certainly helped, ha ha.) It's good I don't have a Costco membership and won't let myself get more until I EARN them!
I finally got pass 6 of the second Geren book finished on Thursday, and busted my bedtime Thursday night after church group by staying up to get the application and chapter samples submitted at the editing website. And to my immense delight, I heard back from my editor Friday morning. She's excited to get into the next Geren book, is charging at the same rate, and will be working on it from the end of October to mid-November. Yay!
Joys and answered prayers:
On Saturday I was delighted to discover that the new Hobby Lobby about 3 miles from where I live is already open. Even better, when I wandered around inside I found the perfect solution for securing three pictures and my makeshift over-the-sink light in my kitchen (the latter was being held in place with a jury-rigged solution involving garish orange clamps). Got some autumn napkins with a Bible verse that I really like as well.
Sunday afternoon I finally got to see Kubo and the Two Strings at the theater. Beautiful movie, but what really got me excited was the car commercial beforehand in which the actor/driver recited the entirety of William Blake's 'Tyger Tyger.' So cool!
Got a big prayer request a long time in the seeking answered this week. Figuring out funding to get more novels professionally edited has been on my prayer list all year, but with apartment shopping and the Canada trip I hadn't had much time of late to focus on it. No sooner did I get back to Minnesota and move (the day after, August 14) than there was an entire section of the sermon that felt aimed right at my question. I was shocked. Then came more praying and research and then delay with my mom's visit. That time brought me a number and a strategy, but this week was the wrap-up. I was so blessed on Tuesday (after checking out other options) to get a great loan from my bank with a very nice interest rate (they just *happened* to have a sale going this month) and no prepayment penalty. So now if I save up the rest, I can get three more novels edited, hopefully over this year and the next. Thank you God, for answered prayer and clear direction!
Also on Tuesday the wonderful Towners picked me up at work and with their help and their minivan, I was able to get my dwarf umbrella tree/schefflera whom I call "Schleffie" moved from the Johnsons to my new place, and just in time before the first really cool night. I've had him since he was a tiny little plant I bought in high school--probably close to 25 years. I had great evening with the Towners as well, and Schleffie now nicely occupies over half my new dining room. I just have to figure out additional lighting before he throws a big fit over coming inside!
So glad it's Friday!
Thanks to my miserable ordeal in Denver July 20th, I received a 50% off coupon from Southwest that I used this week to get some airfare to visit family for Christmas and New Year's at a fantastic price. Looking forward to that visit, which should not contain 100+ degree temps either!
Happy that my iron was high enough and I was able to make a blood donation during the blood drive at work on Thursday.
My mom and I had a great time during her visit and I'm glad she made it safely home Thursday night without any hitches. Also blessed that she used her slow day to do some cleaning around my place. She is welcome back, ha ha!
Getting to ride the bus again meant I could get back into pass 6 work on book 2. Delighted that I've passed the 80% mark.
Excited over autumn temperatures in the forecast!
So grateful for God's continuing blessings during my mom's visit!
Saturday was fabulous. We spent the day down south, first driving along the Wisconsin side of the Mississippi to the town of Nelson to visit the great cheese shop there. On the way, when I stopped at a pull-off, we were blessed to spot a bald eagle sitting in a tree on the other side of the highway, and as we watched it called its mate and then there were two of them flying over us. Such a treat for my mom to get to watch them so close! From Nelson we went to the National Eagle Center in Wabasha, where we got to see the birds they have on display (unable to be released due to their injuries) and their great show about eagles. We also discovered the Castlerock Museum in Alma, Wisconsin which has an amazing collection of arms and armor spanning from Greek times onward up to the later 1700s. Neat to see the styles changing during the Renaissance and changing again as the earliest guns were developed.
On Sunday we went to the church I attended as a child and my mom got to meet some of the people she knew from decades past. Then we went out for the fantastic brunch buffet at Lake Elmo Inn (the dessert spread was astounding).
So it's gotten rainy and humid of late, but what a blessing to have such fantastic weather from Wednesday through Sunday. The low humidity in particular was quite cherished. Very grateful that autumn is coming after such a crazy and busy summer!
So many blessings!
My mom had smooth flights, no trouble with her connections, and actually arrived a little early on Tuesday afternoon.
On Wednesday we got together with the Towners for a visit to the MN Landscape Arboretum and then a delicious early dinner at Boca Chica afterward. The weather was magnificent, it was neat to take the guided tour, and even neater to hear Joe describe his younger years growing up in Alaska and later being stationed in Germany. Fantastic day!
Very grateful what while the monthly curse had to show up right when my mom did, it has been blessedly untroublesome.
Thursday was fantastic. My mom and I spent the whole day at the State Fair--it's been five years since her last visit. We were blessed by both amazing weather (low 70s and not humid and a long cool morning) and a remarkable lack of crowds for such great weather (because they've all already attended, the weather has been great a lot this year!) Got to savor many of my favorite treats, we both had success in shopping, and were delighted to enjoy the beautiful birds at our beloved 'Last Chance Forever' presentation.
Looking forward to the three-day weekend and more time with my mom!
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...
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.
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 got 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!
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.
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!
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.
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!
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!