Christmas Puzzle

Usually, every Christmas I break out a new puzzle for something fun to do during the school holiday break. Every year I try to entice my family to join me in trying to put it together. This includes my husband, the kids and their spouses, my parents, sister, brother-in-law and nephew. Usually one or two design to help me with my endeavor. This is also usually done with much muttering and grumbling about how stupid puzzles are. Yet, here they are. Helping me. Go figure! The spouses of my kids help without all the whining or politely decline.

This was the latest puzzle I bought to start…two years ago!

College of Magical Knowledge
by James C. Christensen

Now I knew this 1500 piece puzzle would be hard. There is a lot of detail and the trees alone gave me pause, but I love the picture. So I bought it. It sat until last Christmas when I finally broke it out because, hello! Pandemic! What else were we going to do? Couldn’t go anywhere. Everything was closed. So, open the puzzle it was. Funny thing about this puzzle. The top left corner that is all clouds and blue sky was the easiest part to do!

I think the reason I like puzzles is because you know the end result, you just have to figure out how to get there. Picking apart something that is all tangled up is kind of the same thing. Figuring out how the knots are put together and unraveling them, ending with separate pieces. Only in a puzzle the process is reverse. The pieces are all separate and you have to figure out how to put them all back together. Eight months later…Wha-la! (I have no idea how to spell this word, and I could not find it on Google. :P)

College of Magical Knowledge
by James C. Christensen

Yes, you heard me. Eight months. It is the biggest puzzle I have done in a long time, and I’ll admit, there were times it sat unattended. After working all day, the last thing I wanted to do was something that pushed my brain that had been turned into mush any further. This last weekend I told myself I was finishing it. I didn’t think I would make it, but suddenly I was down to the last two pieces and it was done. Yea! Now it sits on the table and I no longer have to worry about losing pieces or have that nagging feeling in the back of my head that there is something I need to do. At least when it comes to the puzzle. lol. I did think about gluing it together and framing it, but I never liked that look. So, soon I will be putting it back in it’s box and starting to look for another puzzle to do. I have been informed, by my husband, that the next one needs to be easier. We’ll see. he he he

Is there a tradition you do every year during a holiday that is maybe a little funky or fun?

Have a great afternoon!

Heidi

P.S. If you are wondering, I found this puzzle on Amazon. It’s 1500 pieces, 26″ X 32″ finished, and by Sunsout

Thoughts that Wander to the Darkside

In keeping with my promise to myself that I was going to be more of an online presence, I was trying to think of something to write about today and it was hard. I usually like to keep things upbeat, happy when I blog. My poems are another matter, but writing down my thoughts I try to keep at least somewhat cheerfully. Today nothing is coming to mind that’s anywhere near upbeat, happy or cheerful. It’s all darkness, and that’s a bit more scary to unleash upon others. It’s towards the end of a hectic exhausting school year, we are starting our thirteenth month of COVID mind-numbing madness, spring as sprung and, while it is a beautiful season, it’s not my favorite due to allergies and potential migraines. The bottom line is, I’m just plain exhausted. Anybody else?

Okay. Here it goes. This morning I started out with some pretty ugly thoughts in my head. Not about anyone else, but about myself. Thoughts that drag me down as a person, a writer. As someone others want to get to know or be around. This tells me something in my life needs to change. I’m not sure exactly what, but what I did know was my inner monologue was my writer’s imagination drifting to the dark side. Taking random thoughts or observations and spinning them into something that is not entirely true. At least not to the extent they whispered to me this morning. When tears threatened, I finally told myself that I needed to stop. That none of it was true. It was just my overactive imagination trying to bring me down. Then I tried to figure out why I was in the mindset I was in.

Part of it, I think, is I work in a building full of people, but because of restrictions and rules I don’t get to talk to those people like I used to. We are all sequestered in out little areas, keeping contact to a minimum, only really talking when we see each other briefly by email or in the hall, and then usually about the student we work with. All the time in the back of our minds thinking, are we six feet apart? Have we been together longer than fifteen minutes? When can we finally take these damn masks off? There are no lunches together, no real time to just relax around each other. It’s all very isolating, and why I like my alone time, lately it has become overwhelming.

I’m not someone who believes that COVID is all a big lie. That it’s a conspiracy the government has concocted to take over control of us all. I know too many people in other countries that are in the same boat we are. Lockdowns, keeping apart, masks. Some are more strict than others, but it’s out there. EVERYWHERE. As far as the masks, I do believe they work. I’ve been fully exposed to COVID, but we were wearing our masks and most of the time, not all of it, keeping our distance. I know that is what saved me from catching it. But back to my head and it’s dark thoughts.

Tomorrow there will be a change in my routine. I can finally be in a classroom with other kids. (Shots, immunity issues. That is about all I can say with the confidentiality clauses in place.) I don’t mind being in my little room, but I think it’s starting to really get to me. The change of pace, more than just me or my student in the same room (albeit six feet apart) will be nice.

I also think I need a vacation. I don’t mean a weekend somewhere we drive to. We’ve done that over this last year. I mean, get on a plane and GO somewhere that is not…here. We are doing this next month. My niece is having her wedding reception in Michigan and we have the plane tickets. Four days of not being here. I can’t wait! This Saturday is the bridal shower which I will attend via Zoom. It will still be fun because I will get to see people I haven’t seen in a long time. We also are going to celebrate Mother’s day with my family. We are all vaccinated and it will be the first time we have all gotten together since March 2020. We have a few birthdays to celebrate, too.

So while the thoughts were dark this morning, they have become better as the day has gone on. There are other things I could do that I’ve been putting off, like losing weight, getting into shape. I can get outside more and work in the garden. Yes, it rains this time of year in Washington State, a lot, and it won’t help the allergies, but it will not be inside letting my head get the better of me. Writing this out has helped too. Another thing I should start doing again. Putting the pen to paper.

I hope you are staying safe, that you, too, can soon go somewhere that is not here, and have a wonderful rest of your week.

Heidi

© Copyright 2021

Being More Present – Blog

As some of you know, I am a Para-Educator. What that is is a teacher’s assistance of sorts. I help students who need that little bit of extra assistance. Some need more than others. Some just need a person that is paying attention to what they are doing and redirect them in to a direction that won’t lead to a visit to the principal’s office. While at time it can be exhausting and down right dangerous, it can also be rewarding when that student you’ve been helping out reaches that next level of learning, or figures out on their own to follow the path that doesn’t lead to the often embarrassing and frustrating visit followed by a call to the parental unit.

One of the perks of being a Para at the high school level is being able to take, along with your student, classes that you might not have had in your school or have always wanted to take. This year I have had the opportunity to take Digital Photography, Spanish and Social Media Marketing. While my Spanish is…well…we won’t get into just how loooong ago I took Spanish in high school and say it’s a bit rusty. Digital Photography was a blast and I now have Photoshop Elements on my home computer and can actually use some of the expert level features.

At the moment we are in Social Media Marketing. Today we started looking into blogging. For the kids I work with I pulled up this site and had to frown at what needed to be updated and fixed. It made me realize just how far down the work/housework/yardwork/plain exhausted/COVID rabbit hole I have gone. It seems when I get home I have no brain cells left to do any writing, or even think about writing. The characters in my head have been complaining they have things to say, places to go, people to save; yet when I sit down to write I get silence. Or a half hearted attempt at telling me something that won’t work in the part of the story I am currently writing. I think deep down, they too are a little brain dead.

We have seven and a half more weeks of school left. Seven and a half more weeks to survive the crazy schedule of hybrid/online learning we have been navigating this year. Seven and a half more weeks when my brain can maybe breath a sigh of relief and relax enough to start thinking about what is to come next for my heroine, hero and their band of merry if slightly broken immortals. Until then, I am going to try and be more present here. Whether it’s gardening, writing or just plain speaking what’s on my mind.

Until then, and even afterwards, stay safe and have a wonderful afternoon.

Heidi

Copyright © 2021

Gardening – Spring Project

Spring sprung early this year, and with Covid 19 shutting everything down a lot if people were able to get ahead start in the yard work. I have posted a couple of projects. The seven yards of compost, the back corner with the shed that has filled in nicely.

Because seven yards of compost wasn’t enough, I ordered seven more yards of 3-way. (For those who don’t know what that is, it is a compost/top soil/sand mix.) Like the compost, when I ordered it it was sunny. When it arrived it was raining….. Sigh. So what I ordered this dirt for was to fill some holes in the grass that refused to grow and to also fill in an area of the garden that has slowly sunk down. Mostly due to weed pulling over the years and taking the dirt with them. Here is a picture of the before. It’s the path within the roundish bed. There are roots showing and the ground is rock hard. You can see where the rocks in the back are layered and holding in the dirt around the Rhody. It also goes down at the back of the patio.

Also, by a large stump we have the ground has sunk down about a foot.

You can see how much dirt I had already put in this area, and I wasn’t done. My husband also voiced his dislike of the rock boarder. To him it was too messy. To me it was a cheap natural fix for a problem. Every time I dug up a rock it went into the border. Ta da! Now I will admit when it comes to my garden that I have worked hard in for many years to make it look the way it does, I may be a little touchy when someone suggests a change. I know, for those who know me, what a surprise!

As it turns out he was right. (Don’t tell him I said that out loud.) It does look much better without the rocks.

We were going back and forth on what to put down for the path to help with the weeds – pavers, stepping stones, gravel – but the more we look at it the more we like the natural look. Yes, it will have weeds and maybe we will change our minds later, but for now I think it’s an opportunity to buy some more shade loving plants to soften up the edges. Such a hardship. 😉

Until next time,

Heidi

Just too Funny

I wanted to share something that happened last night because I’m still snickering over it. It was one of those moments when you are in say a library or a large meeting, and you try to keep your emotions inside because you don’t want to disturb the person next to you and you have an epic fail. One of those moments.

So last night, my husband and I had gone to bed and we were doing our nightly reading of different books. Currently I am reading J.R. Wards new The Black Dagger Brotherhood series book Sinner. J.R. Ward is one of my favorite writers. She holds no punches and neither do her characters. A couple I would love to reach in a slap sometimes …. coughcoughLassitercough … because of their antics or, as we all have from time to time, acts of stupidity. I cry and laugh with them. I have read all the books in this series, which are many, so know the characters well. Don’t panic! I will not give away any details or spoilers of what happened and who it happened too in this latest book. I just want to relate what happened to us while I was reading this one particular passage.

So we are laying there, quiet, each lost in our books. It hadn’t been very long when I started reading this one particular scene. As a writer, I know their are times when the words flow, what you see in your head write beautifully onto the paper. When that scene just clicks and it’s marvelous. Better yet, it’s when the reader can also see that clear picture in their head and laugh, cry or be angry at the same level you were when you wrote it. This particular scene was hysterical.

As I started reading it, I could picture that character so well. Know how he would react. See the scene with his expression and the villain’s expression as it played out. I tried. I really tried not to burst out laughing, but it kept coming out in small spats. My husband kept telling me to stop, that it was annoying, but I just couldn’t help myself. I offered to let him read it so he would know why I was laughing, but he grumpily declined. So silence ensued for about three seconds. Then we both starting laughing. Me because of what I was reading. Him because I was trying so hard to keep it in and failing. I was seriously in danger of having the giggles.

The next bout of silence lasted about 20 seconds. I finally was able to get myself somewhat under control, read past the line I had been stuck on to the next, when he burst out laughing. That was it. Giggles were on! I put my kindle down, tore off my glasses and completely lost it. And because giggles are contagious, so did he, and he didn’t even know why!

A few minutes later, and some coughing until I couldn’t breathe, I told him if he wouldn’t laugh then I wouldn’t. Finally, I was able to get past that scene with only a few little giggles and a couple of coughs.

I can probably blame some of it on the stress of the last month and a half, some of it on my husband, but mostly it was the author of the book I was reading and her wonderful writing. Can’t wait to see what happens next.

Stay safe!

Heidi

Copyright © 2020 Heidi Barnes

Time on Our Hands

Morning everyone. I hope you are all staying safe and at home as much as possible. For those of you who are out working I thank you for putting yourselves out there to make sure the world keeps turning, albeit slowly, and we have food and supplies so we keep moving.

I have been keeping busy by editing and yard work. I thought I’d talk about the gardening because I have not done that much in the last couple of years.

This year I decided that I would finally put down compost on my garden beds. We also decided to bring in topsoil for those areas in the yard that need some help in growing grass or leveling. There are a few other things we’ve changed too. I’ll start with the back right corner of the yard.

This part of the garden has gone through many changes over the years. When we first moved in there was a play area and a few more trees. The only picture I was able to find of it was during one of our snow storms, but it gives you an idea what was back there when we moved in.

The boarder for this area was firewood. Not very safe or stable. So we had put in 4X4 pieces of lumber around the area to keep the pea-gravel in place. A few years later, when the kids had out grown it, we found that it was pretty rotten, so off it went to the dump.

Now what to do with it. Moving all that pea gravel was not high on my do to list so we decided to turn into a garden for my oldest. Through Grandma Frank, he had become very interested in growing his own vegetables. We put in a shed, water and fence to keep the critters out and four raised beds. All along the outside I planted a flowerbed to soften the edges. Unfortunately I could not find a picture of that phase of life, which lasted about five years. My son became too busy with school and work to be able to tend a garden. So we took down the fence and I put in large wine barrels to keep my few vegetables up off the ground in an attempt to keep the critters out. (Mainly slugs!) The first picture was taken when I decided that this was not going to work. Too much gravel and not enough pretty. The second is from the outside looking in when when everything is in bloom.

So I decided that the plants that surrounded the graveled area needed to be inside the gravel area. As I planted the plants I brought in soil to put in the hole as I placed each plant. As the years have gone by I have put a couple of layers of compost on top of the gravel to help. The one thing that stayed the same was the 4X4 boarder and the water, which I re-vamped to fit the new layout. I also added a few accessories.

Jump a few more years later and we decided that the wooden boarder was too choppy. That it needed to go to make for a softer edge, making it part of the yard instead of a separate entity. And here it is.

Aside from throwing down some Preen in hopes to keep the weeds to a minimum, the garden part in this area is done. There is still some gravel, but we are playing with the idea of putting down brick to finish it off. There is one item left over from the Garden Era. The rhubarb that is surrounded by brick because it originally was in a raised bed. I didn’t want to chance killing it by digging it up and replanting it.

So now, even though it is gorgeous outside, I am taking the day off from gardening and maybe working on some editing. Tomorrow I’ll be back out to finish the one bed that I did not have enough compost for, but has a wonderful array of weeds.

Have a great day and stay safe by staying at home.

Heidi

It’s been a while….

It’s been a while since I have posted on here. I hope everyone is keeping safe and healthy. It seems so surreal sometimes that the world has basically slowed down to a slow crawl. We stay in our house and life still goes on. Then we venture out because we need food or medication and see that life is not moving as it once did. That it has changed drastically in a short period of time.

Since the schools have shut down I have been busy with yard work, house work, editing and wondering what the next step for us para-educators in our district is. We keep receiving conflicting messages because honestly no one knows exactly. It’s not ever day we have a pandemic on our hands. Kind of new territory.

As of now we are healthy. Aside from seasonal allergies that is. My luck to not just keep sneezing, but I actually become sick if I don’t stay on top of my allergy meds. As it turned out, I was late in starting this year – who knew I needed to start taking them in February! Silly me! – and they took me down hard. The day before we went on out trip to Disney World I started becoming sick with cold like symptoms. Next day on the trip I could barely swallow because my throat was so swollen. A week of DayQuil and NyQuil later, sinus infection. Again, yeah me! Now I have a cough left that yields dirty looks from others because they think I may have something much more dangerous than allergies. *Sigh* But enough of that.

My yard is looking pretty good, if I must say so myself. Even have managed to order compost before everything shut down, so that has been keeping me busy between rain squalls. I have also been editing. Fixing some of those things that have been bugging me about my books. It’s been a slow process, but I have enjoyed writing again.

We do our best to support the restaurants by ordering out. It’s not quite the same as going out to eat, but it also feels good to help others in some capacity. I do need to go to Costco, but I have seen the lines and that kind of scares me. lol

Well, that is all I have for now. Back to editing. Stay safe.

Latest Chapter of BP will be a bit…well, late.

Due to end of the school year, having to get ready for birthday parties at my house and rewriting the entire chapter because to much has changed for me to keep the original, I haven’t been able to finish the next chapter of Broken Promises. I will get it out as soon as possible. I promise. Sorry for the delay. 🙂

Have a wonderful weekend! Summer break is here!!!! 😀

Heidi

A new story…Broken Promises

I know it’s been a while since I have posted. Life has been busy and my muse has been quiet. It seemed that trying to write anything was a chore. I have a book that needs to be be written, the third to my Destiny series, and I did start it last year, but I just did not seem to have the gumption to continue. I think I have figured out why and now have started to think more about it, figure out what path it will take. In the meantime I have made a decision about whether or not I will start publishing another story on here.

Broken Promises is based on the very first story I ever wrote. The one that was was started with a writing prompt from my 8th grade home room teacher. The original was all fan-fiction. Mixing and mashing TV shows and at least one movie together to make an original story. It was easier for me to use the characters and places of those shows because I had them firmly in my head. The story line was all my own though. I have that first part because my mom typed it up for me and I turned it in to my teacher in place of another project we were suppose to do. You see, I was too busy writing to do the project. lol. Luckily my teacher was more than happy to support my fledgling writing. She also wanted to know how it ended.

750+ handwritten pages later (yes you read that right) and it still wasn’t done. I won’t be using that first part (15 year old teenage writing is a bit…scary). What I will post sort of jumps in the middle of that story. Don’t worry, it should make sense. I will have to heavily edit a few chapters. This is not a PG-13 story, so I will tone down some of the more…sexually intense scenes. Kara’s life is not an easy one.

I will see how it goes, how you respond. I would like friendly feedback whether it is positive or negative. It will help me figure out what works and what doesn’t. Like Forever Lost, I will have a page for it under random writing with links to each chapter and links to the chapters on either side at the bottom of the posted page. Part of me sort of thinks this may be a continuation of Forever Lost, even though the character’s names are different as are the places and genre. Let me know what you think.

I will post the first chapter shortly.

Have a wonderful rest of your weekend. 🙂

Heidi

Soap

Okay, this topic might seem a little strange, possible weird, boarding on too much information, but it’s something that I’ve puzzled over for sometime. Why guys won’t use a washcloth when they take a shower. Now I know there are those that do, or maybe the use one of those loofah thingies, but what I’ve notice in various conversations is that the majority don’t. Now here is what puzzles me. How do you wash those hard to reach places? The middle of the back. Between the shoulder blades. Here’s another. How are you sure the dirt is washed off? Soap or body wash have nothing abrasive. They are smooth. So if you’ve been playing in the mud, working in the yard or on the car, painting, how do you scrub the dirt, oil, paint off? How are you truly clean?

See, told you it was a bit strange!

There is a Friends episode that has always stuck with me and is so true. Chandler and Joey are roommates and Chandler is trying to make Joey understand why he doesn’t want Joey to use his soap. He tries having him visualize where he starts washing with just the soap, then the steps that follow, finally the last place he washes. I still remember the smile on Joey’s face on that visual. He he he. Then Chandler takes him back to the first place he washes. His face. Suddenly that smile turns into revulsion. He gets it. What was last washed is now all over his face. Ewwww! Again, if a washcloth or loofah is used then the problem would not exist. There would be no cross contamination.

So I guess my question is, if you only use the bar of soap to wash the grit and grime off your body, are you truly clean?

On that note, have a wonderful week.

Heidi