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

Summer Reading and it’s Pitfalls

Every summer there is a to-do list that I make. All the things that I hadn’t had time to do or was just too exhausted when I got home to do when school is in session. I try to get most of those things crossed off my list as soon as possible so I can have that needed down time to rejuvenate for the start of the next year. Even with a late start due to vacation NOT in Washington, summer cold that kicked my butt and the loss of our pet, my list is slowly whittling down. All that’s really left is the fun stuff. You know, cleaning out the gutters, washing the windows and skylights. Things when I was 10 years younger I never thought twice about because getting on and off the roof didn’t seem so daunting. What happened to the girl that would skip across decks that were nothing but skeletons (no floor boards), two stories up without a second thought? Funny how age and mortality, or the understanding of it, coincide.

There is one thing that is sort of holding me back from finishing my to-do list a bit faster, and this happens more often than it probably should. I love to read. (I know! Shocker, right?) Well, there is a downside to this. If I am really enjoying the book, nothing gets done until the book gets done. On laundry day that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Start a load, read my book until laundry done, switch to dryer and start another load in washer, read my book…you get the idea. When the kids were home and laundry was an all day thing, it was great! Unfortunately the kids have moved out and laundry ‘day’ has shrunk down to laundry ‘couple of hours’. Not a lot of time for the quality reading I want to do. And if it’s a series…well then we have a problem because there is more than one book to a series.

The worst I think was when I started reading Laurell K Hamilton. A friend lent me the first couple of books of the Merry Gentry series to see if I liked them, so I blame the lack of anything getting done for WEEKS on her. If any of you have read her series you know they are loooong. I think her Anita Blake series is now up to book number 28 with a couple of side stories. Then there is Sherilyn Kenyon. There is not enough o’s to put into the word long for her Dark Hunter and League series, and all the connecting series to those series. If I like the characters and the storylines I want more. It always saddens me when I come to the end of a book I really like and there is nothing more to read about the characters in that book. The two writers I mentioned above have not disappointed when it comes to more. There are a few more writers that I keep tabs on for the next book to be published in a long series, but these two are my favorites.

This summer I found a new writer I have come to like. K M Shea. My husband read one of her series and liked it so recommended it to me. I was looking for something to read so I decided why not. What I didn’t realize was that there was more than the three books that were connected to the particular storyline/world I started. The Snow Queen trilogy, Timeless Fairy Tales series, and The Fairy Tale Enchantress series all intertwine. When I finished that seventeen book series (there is more because the actually storyline is not finished, she just hasn’t written them yet), I found out she had more. The Magiford City has two trilogies that connect, the first being Hall of Blood and Mercy trilogy. The stories are written well, clean love stories with the supernatural elements (which I love!) and funny. That last part kind of gets me into trouble. Especially in the middle of the night when I giggle and it wakes my husband up. He’s not so amused.

There are a couple more trilogies/series from K M Shea that I haven’t read yet, but I decided if I wanted to get anything done they will have to wait. Since I do need something to read before I go to bed I decided to reread something. I do that a lot with books I like. I want to experience a certain feel, if that makes any sense. This series I have read many times. It has helped me through a time in my life when an event threw me for such a loop it took years to stop the world from spinning. Harry Potter. I was reading it when a tragedy that I won’t get into right now hit my family. I hadn’t realized I had kept rereading the books until my husband asked me how many times I was going to read them. I thought about it and realized I was on number 7 of rereads. I think it was because it was safe. There were no surprises and I knew what the outcome was going to be. It actually scared me to read a different book, but I pushed myself to and in a way that new book full of surprises helped me to begin moving forward in my life. I love this series either in book or movie form. I’ve watched the movies many times too, but it’s been a while since I’ve read the books. So, I’m hoping that because I know what is going to happen so I don’t have to keep reading I can put my kindle down and finish my to-do list a little faster. Because on that to-do list is writing and editing my own book. We’ll see.

Have a great afternoon!

Heidi

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.

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

What to do. What to do.

So I’ve finished Forever Lost and school has begun so I’m back at work. Summer seemed to short with the last two weeks being the busiest. Son’s wedding reception, guests, trip to Vegas. The house remodel is finally done after three in a half years (YEAH!), and there is yardwork still to be done. Well yardwork is kind of like laundry and dishes. You think it’s all done and looky there, another dish or towel you missed. I do have to start working on my next book. I have a beginning, but Forever Lost was the loudest in my head so I could not be ignored. Now there is another story that is pushing me to pay attention to it. Unfortunately, I dont think it’s one I can post here. It’s not what you would call PG-13. The powers that be here on WP might not appreciate it. So maybe Kindle. I’m planning on spending more time on the computer writing now that the summer is winding down and I may have more time.

Have a wonderful day!

Heidi

I’m Too Old to Chase Rabbits

My dog, Jack, is getting on in age. It has been thirteen years since we went to choose between him and his brother. It was and easy choice. Jack was full of energy and wanted to play. His brother found the nearest object, ran under the truck and began to chew on it. Yeah…exuberant it was! Now, where he still has energy, it’s a little more subtle and his hearing isn’t what it used to be.

In the last couple of weeks the rabbits, or stew meat as I lovingly call them through gritted teeth, have come out in force. I’ve had as many as four in the yard at once, and those are just the ones I can see. I wonder where all the coyotes have gone. Have they suddenly sworn off rabbit? I hear it’s rather tasty.

Now before I receive comments about how cute and cuddly rabbits are, I thought the same thing until they ate $200 worth of plants I had just planted. Needless to say I was not amused.

Now that you have some back story, here is what happened a few days ago.

Jack is sleeping on his bed when I see one of the vermin called rabbit in the yard eating grass a little to close to my flowerbed for my comfort.

Me: Jack! Rabbit!

No response.

Me, a little louder: Jack! There’s a rabbit!

Jack’s head comes up: Rabbit?

I head for the slider and he follows as I wind him up to chase the rabbit. Now there is an art to opening the slider and not having the dog slam into it as he bolts out the opening like a race horse. You have to time it right and be wicked fast. I brace myself. Jack crouches down, ready to spring forward. I slide the door open and…

He sticks his head out the door. Slightly anti-climactic. Although lately he has been thinking about running more than actually doing.

Jack stares at the rabbit who is now frozen in hopes that he won’t be seen.

Me, very exuberantly: Rabbit! (Because that one word says it all.)

Jack: Yes, that is a rabbit.

Me: Go get the rabbit!

Jack gives me a look that seems to say: You do remember the last time I chased one of those things. I had to be carried back because my joints aren’t what they used to be. Very embaressing.

The rabbit is still frozen in the lawn.

Me: Come on, Jack. Get the rabbit!

Jack looks back at the rabbit then very non-chalantly walks out the door and to the left, NOT towards the rabbit: I’m going out front.

As Jack disappears around the corner of the house, the rabbit resumes eating, and I’m left wondering what just happened.

Have a wonderful week.
Copyright 2017 Heidi Barnes

Here is a little side story that my friend Suzanne Carey wrote after she read this piece. We have a mutual friend/bane-of-my-existence called Suzi. She is a fairy that tries hard to do good things, but somehow they always manage to go…sideways. Here is Suzi and her attempt to help me with my little rabbit problem. Chasing Rabbits.

Let It Snow!

We have had some cold days this year. Even a smattering of snow, but nothing like what we woke up to this morning. Eleven inches fell where we live in the Casacade Foothills. To the north where I grew up they recieved one to four inches, more the farther north you go. South up to fourteen. And there is suppose to be more coming.

I say, let it snow! 🙂

Daily Prompt: Year

via Daily Prompt: Year

A year. 365 days. Seems like a long time, doesn’t it. Yet it seems to fly by in a blink of an eye. December is suddenly here and one starts to think, did I do everything I set out to do? Then the year turns in to years and the thought, Why didn’t I go on that trip I planned to go on when I was twenty? Years, months, weeks, days, hours, minutes, seconds. All gone before you know they are there. I may not accomplish everything I set out to do, or go on that trip I wanted to go on. But I do have to say there is very little I regret in my life. Mostly stupid things that came out on those instances when my filter decided it wasn’t going to work. Very annoying.

2016 is gone. Regrets are wasted energy when 2017 looms before us. Do I hope we have a better year than last? Yes. 2016 was one filled with upheaval, death, and anger. Here is hoping for a year we can be proud of. A year that we live through relatively unscathed. Only time will tell.

Happy New Year!

Heidi

Copyright 2017

Vacation Time

WIN_20160804_101912

This is my view this morning. Literally! I put my surface on the table, pulled up the camera and took a picture. Can you get any better than this? Nope. Earlier this morning I sat out in those chairs in my pjs and shawl with my coffee and watched the birds fly by while a sea otter poked its head out of the smooth water every so often as it played. A crane flew in and sat on one of the boats to take a nap. The neighbors were reading their boat to go crabbing out in the islands as others went by in the channel. The Olympic Mountains were a shadowed in a hazy cloudbank, and the state ferries went back and forth in front of them on their runs into the San Juan Islands and up to Victoria, BC. Only a few small clouds drifted by, but down on land there was barely a breeze. Perfect morning. Even got some journal writing done. My husband was at this very table doing a report for work that needed to be done and you know what? That was okay, because it meant I could sit here and enjoy the scenery. Eventually I went inside, got dressed, ate breakfast, came back out and read, went back in and did a few dishes. Now I’m back out here writing this blog and staring out at the view.

I grew up spending summers here. My grandparents bought the land when my mom was a little girl, so it’s been in the family for a long time, and I hope to keep it even longer. My oldest loves to come up here. It’s probably his favorite place in the world. I can’t blame him. It’s mine too. Full of memories of family reunions and sleepovers. I would bring friends over here for my birthday. Since it’s in August the weather was usually nice. We would sleep in what is now the shed. It used to be the cabin, once upon a time. The A-frame that is here now was built when I was about nine years old. A long time ago, but I do remember being in the older cabin. It had one of those split doors so Grandma could open the top and see what was going on or yell at us. For the most part we were good kids, but we did have our moments. LOL

I probably should get started on some editing. It will be hard to with this view, because no matter how many times I sit and stare at it, it never gets old. Especially on days like today.

 Copyright 2016 Heidi Barnes