An attitude of gratitude

Olive cat
Olive giving me that look before she jumps in my lap.

After my free one-week trial, I decided to join the local YMCA. I made my reservations for a lane for three days this week and I felt obligated to go. It’s a quick drive from home, so even if I’m not feeling it, at least I get there and jump in.

I am sleeping soundly thanks to swimming — and being off prednisone. The combination of the two is amazing.

I’m feeling grateful for many things today:

Warm weather and no wind.

Sitting in the back yard reading my book club selection “The Old Man and the Sea.”

My cat who is strangely affectionate this week.

My husband for playing daily ping pong with me. Yesterday I won three zip.

Being off prednisone and the tinnitus is gone. I’m no longer crawling out of my skin from the medication.

For new friends and I’m grateful for the old ones who have reconnected.

Cooking on our gas range. We got rid of the electric stove top.

Every day I’m amazed by the beauty of nature around me.

Im grateful for my new readers and bloggers who are friends and make up a supportive community.

What are you grateful for today?

It’s all about simple pleasures

red cardinal in a tree
A cardinal enjoying our backyard.

There have been a few heartwarming and joyful moments the past few days that I captured with my iphone camera.

Several were simply watching our cat Olive. Then I spotted a bright red cardinal sharing a branch in a tree alongside 10 quail. I missed getting that photo, but I did manage to get the cardinal sitting by himself and quail enjoying the bird feed I put down.

pretty kitty staring at me
While I was reading, Olive sat and stared at me.
I never get tired of quail watching.


Nothing big and exciting has happened this week so far. But It’s been a a nice week of walking, reading, writing, ping pong and enjoying the quiet moments with the cat and wildlife.

Ten-year-old Olive is playful with tiny catnip mice. I laugh watching her, especially when they get stuck in her polydactyl claws.

How is your week going? What are your highlights so far?

Look who came back to visit?

VRBO views

stone lion with Christmas decorations
I saw this nicely decorated lion on a morning walk around the corner from the Christmas VRBO.

We’ve left the VRBO and we’re headed home slowly. It took a ton of energy and hard work to pack 12 people and to get the house in shape for the housekeepers. I’m waiting to hear that my son’s car has arrived safely to the Bay Area. They were the last car to leave along with us at noon.

We decided to spend the night with our dear friends who live in the Santa Barbara area and get up at dawn to make the nine-hour trek home. The packing and cleaning left us too tired and too late to make the drive. Plus, I’m hoping for better weather tomorrow. Another storm is currently walloping the coast.

I miss Olive the cat and hope she’s not too angry with me for boarding her. In our new home and her new career as an indoor cat, she’s become very affectionate. I have bonded with this lovable kitty more than ever. The goal is to stop on our way home to pick her up from cat jail before they close.

views of Santa Barbara marina from the Christmas house.
The view from the master bedroom deck in our Christmas VRBO.
View from master bedroom of Santa Barbara VRBO
The master bedroom French doors to the patio with spectacular views.
Santa Barbara sunset.
Sunset

Happy New Year! I’m ready for 2022. How about you? Are you looking forward to saying goodbye to 2021?

On the road again

beach view in Santa Barbara
On our way to the beach!

I need to get packed. But, I need to do laundry first. The kitty is on her way to boarding. The lady at the pet boarding place said our Olive the cat will be boarding with Olive the pug. That should be interesting. Olive our cat is not a pug fan. Waffles is the only pug she’s met and all he wants to do is chase her. I hope they don’t place them in suites (cages) that face eachother.

One thing that definitely helped my stress level was packing and loading the car one day before. What a concept! We only need to wake up, shower and go.

A nine-hour drive awaits. I’m trying to have a positive outlook for the long drive. I’ve downloaded several books to listen to including John Grisham. I tend to have anxiety on the road, so I’m trying to frame the trip as an adventure. As something fun to do for nine hours — rather than dreading it. Maybe a positive outlook will change my reaction?

Instead of breaking up the drive into a couple days, we’re going for it. We’ll stop by my dad’s to drop off his Christmas present at the halfway point. But we’re not spending the night. We want to get to our destination.

The Airbnb is letting us check in four hours early, which I’m thankful for. One of my worries was that the owner hadn’t reached out to me yet. Now she has and we have all the details to get into our Christmas vacation house.

What excitement do you have planned for Christmas week?

Views from last week

Sunset in Arizona desert
Sunset from our driveway last week.

I am going to have a busy week writing and hosting my dad and friends for Thanksgiving. I get anxious thinking about it. I’m in the thick of getting the house ready. This will be the first time my dad will see our new home and stay with us. Tonight we have friends from our Palm Springs swim team coming over. We agreed to go out for a casual dinner, since I have the big feast ahead of me. I’m excited to see them, because it’s been years since we were swim parents volunteering together. We’re going to the ASU vs. UA football game together on Saturday, too.

For Thanksgiving, I am cooking the whole works for me, my husband and dad. That’s seem a bit much doesn’t it? I called our friends who moved from Palm Springs to one mile away and asked if they had plans. I’m excited to say our ex-pat Californians will be joining us.

Here are some of the highlights from last week, when I thought I was busy — but compared to this week, not really.

Sundial Center in Carefree with a Christmas tree
I spotted a Christmas tree across from the post office on Easy Street in Carefree. I love the name.
Christmas tree in Carefree city center.
cat sitting on fireplace hearth
Olive found a new place to hang out. My daughter absolutely hates the stacked stone fireplace in our new house. I can live with it and Olive seems to like it.
Sonoran desert sunset
Another night, another sunset

What are your plans for Thanksgiving? Are you getting together with friends and family this year? Are you cooking?

I honestly can’t remember what we did last year because we were in escrow to sell one house and buy another and I was packing for my first move in 28 years.

FYI, today I hit this milestone:

NaNoWriMo update. Badge for 40,000 words!

What a week!

I hit the halfway point of my writing challenge at the start of the week.

Actually, not much happened out of the ordinary. But compared to most of my weeks during the past year and a half COVID days, a lot did happen.

Here’s a quick rundown:

I hit my goals for NaNoWriMo this week.

I managed to fit in posting blogs and reading other bloggers worked around my novel writing.

I played lots of ping pong and I sense some improvement.

I went to the Podiatrist and found an In-N-Out only 30 minutes from our house.

I had my first meeting as the official newsletter editor for our HOA. I met three new people who will be working with me to get the newsletter written and produced.

I took Olive the cat to the vet for shots. I had to find a new vet, since she hasn’t been to one in Arizona. I am not a person who regularly takes the cat to the vet. First of all, Olive hates it. She cries incessantly in the car and then she shudders and shakes. She doesn’t need to go to the vet if she’s not sick. But I called the place we boarded her in August to make a reservation for a trip planned in December. They told me one of her shots had expired. We both survived the trip to the vet, barely.

I talked to several of my old friends on long phone conversations after reading the article I posted on the importance of friendships. You can read that HERE if you missed it.

I went to my first NFL game in person.

Today I’m headed to our farmer’s market to get treats for Thanksgiving-week guests and my dad.

cat on a patch of grass in the house
Olive cat on her patch of grass next to pots of cat grass.

Happy Friday!

Have you noticed your weeks getting busier? Is it because we’re leaving COVID behind us? What makes your weeks busier? Or did I just have a one-off week?

If I could only remember

Olive with her cat grass.

I’ve been struggling with the NaNo Prep 101 assignments. I can’t quite find my idea or nail down the characters for the writing challenge I signed up for in November where I’m going to write 50,000 words of a novel in 31 days. I’m weeks away and just not thrilled with anything I’ve come up with.

Here’s a description of the first assignment:

Some people struggle to come up with a novel idea that excites them! Some people are idea machines, but have a hard time committing to one. Tackle this week’s exercise to focus on finding inspiration… and then hone in on a few ideas that spark your creative passion.

https://nanowrimo.org/nano-prep-101#week1

Last week I completed the first assignment. I had some inspiration with my characters but struggled through the next week’s tasks:

Week 2: Create Complex, Believable Characters
(Strong enough to shoulder a novel and hold your interest)
Week 2 Exercise: Character Development and Questionnaires
Characters are the active drivers of your story, and a huge part of a first draft is getting to know the characters you’re creating. Get a head start with this exercise!

Last night I had a vivid dream where it was all laid out. I had five characters. I was filling out their backstories, their ages, appearances, mannerisms, pet peeves, desires. It was all coming together. I made progress on the plot and was so excited to write. I was sitting at my laptop, editing, making changes, completing the exercises.

Morning came. Olive the cat jumped on the bed and woke me up. I struggled in my morning pages trying to remember my characters. They floated away out of my mind’s reach. I wonder if they were any good? Or was it my mind working through the process?

Have you ever problem solved or figured out a creative solution in your dreams? Do you usually remember your dreams or not?