Love, Laughter, and Life

Adventures With a Book Lover


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Tea with Me, And Then Monday Happened

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It feels like ages since I’ve just chatted and shared life over a cup of tea (Irish breakfast with a dab of honey) with you, my friends. How is life treating you?

Christmas came and went so quickly! I can’t believe we are back to counting how many days there are until next Christmas. One of the favorite gifts this year among the grands was a whoopie cushion. Can you tell what age group we are?

And Happy New Year! A new year, a new decade, and new numbers to train ourselves to write.

I’m off and running, er, writing my way through Julie Hedlund’s 12 x 12 Writing Challenge.  I was overjoyed to learn that I had won a scholarship to join this challenge. SO many resources available for writers. I just cannot believe the wonderful support and encouragement to be found in the kidlit writing community. Thank you, writer friends, and thank you, Julie Hedlund!

I’m enjoying the challenge of a new editing opportunity. I alternate between extreme joy and mental work and moments of terror and concern over what I feel I need to change. And will somebody please read this after me to see if I did it correctly? What a great adventure that stretches me in new ways. I hope you have something like this in your new year to grow you and make your heart sing.

Alas. My Seahawks finished the year yesterday after they lost to Green Bay. Probably not many of you are football fans, but I have really enjoyed watching my team. It’s fascinating to learn their little tricks and figure out what the announcers are talking about. I still don’t know what a nickel back is or a slot play, but I hear those words over and over. Next year, Go Hawks! Be healthy and come back strong!

And this is the part when Monday happened.

All the grands were at school, though two had minor health complaints.

During preschooler pickup time, I received a phone call informing me about the oldest, Hayden, being in the office in tears with significant eye pain. He had something in his eye, or as the nurse was guessing, pink eye. And he needed to see a doctor.

Before leaving the parking lot, I called and secured an appointment. Pick-up Hayden.

Waiting time until appointment. Rearrange who picks up where and when.

We left for appointment and just as I merged on the highway, received a phone call from Aucutt Mama that second child, Khloe, was in office in severe ear pain and tears. Papa was MIA for phone contact, so Mama left work to drive to the opposite side of town to get Khloe.

While I was at the doctor’s appointment (with Hayden and two preschoolers, which was another fun story all together, because both of them were feeling NO pain and great JOY, which they shared loudly with all), Aucutt Mama and I arranged a second appointment for Khloe to have her ear checked. And I called Quantrell Mama to meet me at doctor and divide the preschooler frivolities by dividing the number in half. She took Autumn, leaving me with Gage and Hayden.

Shortly after they left (we were still in exam room), Aucutt Mama arrived, just in time to find we needed to extend our adventure by heading immediately to the eye doctor. We met in the waiting room, I handed off an extremely talkative Gage, and Hayden and I drove post haste to the eye doctor (yet another valley and opposite end of town). Aucutt Mama stayed for the Khloe appointment.

To wrap up our afternoon of operation organization (OH, I forgot to add Papa and I played phone tag to secure a ride home from school for Donavyn, the only child not involved in the traveling circus of medical events):

~ Hayden ended up having a seed pod stuck beneath his eyelid. This caused extreme pain AND corneal abrasions. Such a tiny thing making such a mess! Eye drops and healing in order.

~Khloe had temp and severe ear infection. Antibiotics, pain meds, and rest in order. Plus, return visit to doctor if ear drum bursts. Which it did, overnight.

~Donavyn made it home just fine.

~Autumn missed us at the doctor visit and left her bunny in my car. Not a happy camper upon that realization.

~Gage continued to talk nonstop to his mama, quite gleeful to have her ear.

~Aucutt Mama met me at eye doctor to fill in forms, then went back across town to grab prescriptions. Not much sleep in that household last night.

~Nana and Papa collapsed after using their super-speed powers to make and consume dinner.

Short story. It’s only Tuesday, but we survived!

How about you? Thanks for sticking through the story to the end. How was your Monday?


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Happy 2020!

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Happy New Year, friends!
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We’ve decided to make hiking the Cowiche Canyon an annual event. We hiked it last January 1st and made a return trip today. It’s becoming very popular!
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May the Lord bless you and your family in this new year of a new decade.
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I might be slow, but I finally figured out why all the New Year’s Eve parties were 20s themed. May your 2020 be filled with roaring good fun and great health!
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The Rock

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Not THE ROCK, Jesus. Or the Rock, Dwayne superstar Johnson. Not even the diamond rock.

Just the rock. As in, “the rock that bounced into my car.”

That rock.

It was HUGE. Grapefruit-sized. Did I mention it was bouncing?

The time: Tuesday morning, between 8:05-8:10 am. I know this because the Nana bus had just dropped off Khloe at her before school study group.

The location: west Wide Hollow Road, near Gromore Market

The perp: FedEx truck (AND the rock)

The victims: white Mazda Nana bus, shocked Nana and 4-year-old Gage riding in backseat; also the fog light grill, bumper, and inner shroud

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How it all played out: The Nana bus was headed east for home. After making the sharp corner around the market, we were barely going 30 mph. Nana spied a FedEx truck who was stopped road side up ahead with a driver who had just completed a delivery.

Said driver headed back onto road and took off headed west for more deliveries.

We were headed east, he was going west, when a huge clod of mud came bouncing out of his rear tires. It was odd, how round and bouncy that mud was. The first big bounce was easily over a yard high. It came bouncing directly into our lane and front bumper, but there were no shoulders on the road for avoidance and the distance was too close to slam on brakes. Crash! We hit the mud clod. Smash, crunch, crumble.

Whew. We were over it. Both Gage and I felt the driver side tires grind over the bits and pieces. But also, whew! The tires were not flat and the car was still driving.

The results: At home, Gage and I searched the car for damage. I noticed the smashed in grill. Gage found peeling paint on the rear license plate cover. 🙂 It was not a part of the rock incident, but good eyes, Gage!

The fog light grill, a very small opening in the front bumper, was smashed clean through and torn loose. Later examination led me to discover that the shroud right behind the grill plate had a huge hole smashed through it as well. Even later, when Papa came home, more pulling apart of the bumper and grill area led to the discovery of the rock still resting inside the shroud amidst shattered portions of thick plastic.

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Evidence! That was why the “mud clod” was bouncing so high. It was a ROCK. A very large rock, which if it had bounced one more time, would have come through the windshield into my head.

I am very thankful. God gave me my own little (BIG) miracle as I traveled my daily route in caring for my grands. Just one more blessing for which I can give Him credit.

Perfect timing, don’t you think? Thanksgiving is right around the corner. In just a few more sleeps, we will wake to excited taste buds ready for the feast that will be prepared. But this year I want to remember to give thanks for all the blessings, protections, and miracles the LORD has provided.

I pray you have a happy and blessed Thanks-for-giving. Look for the miracles.

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Haiku Moment: fall explosion

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woods, stream, leaves, and fall

collide, put on nature shows-

such beauty explodes

 

fall explosion by Angie Quantrell

 

Photo Credit: Angie Quantrell, Hood Canal, Belfair State Park, WA state


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Need Stress Relief? Take a Weekend Trip

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What a week!

Our daughter ended up in the hospital due to cellulitis from a bug bite. As a result, we juggled child care, transportation, hospital runs, and assorted other duties while she received aggressive IV treatment to stop the infection (previous antibiotics did nothing to stop the infection from spreading).

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Every week is busy and we tend to go full speed. Writing, working, cooking, cleaning. But add one off-kilter event, such as a parent (our adult child) being hospitalized, and chaos rules the day.

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Good thing for me, I had a weekend away tucked in my hip pocket. Of course, I would have cancelled had my daughter not been released from her expensive spa treatment (that’s what we called her stay). Hooray, her bite improved, the high powered antibiotics did their job, and she went home in plenty of time for my retreat.

After handing off care of 3 grands to my daughter-in-love, I loaded the car with the important things (rubber stamps, food, clothes) and headed to Seattle to stay and play with my crafting partner. And boy did we pack in the fun.

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I was amazed at all we managed to fit into our weekend. We

~rubber stamped cards (36 total for me)

~took a ferry ride to Hood Canal

~relaxed at a cabin where we sipped hot tea, read a magazine, read the newspaper, and attempted a crossword puzzle

~completed a four-mile walk through the state park where we saw one spawning salmon and several done spawning and deceased fish, bald eagles, a seal, seagulls, gorgeous fall colors, and sparkling streams leading to Hood Canal

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~stopped at a craft market AND a thrift shop

~enjoyed a new apple crisp (with cheese!) recipe

~tasted creative and delicious meals

~talked much and solved world problems

~watched the Seattle Sounders win the national championship game

~walked to the University Village

~listened to a mystery on cassette

~kicked off the Christmas season with traditional music selections

~planned Christmas gifts and adventures

~traveled to Southcenter (a shopping area in Renton) where we perused Impress for more rubber stamping ideas and supplies, braved crowds and long lines at IKEA (plus I had coupons for a free birthday meal and stuff), and used coupons at JoAnn’s

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~slept in and snuggled kitties

I’m sure that’s not all we did, but the change of scenery and responsibilities refreshed my body and energy. I was sad when my weekend away came to an end and I had to reload the car and drive home.

What a wonderful way to recharge! Should you find yourself needing stress relief and relaxation, consider a weekend getaway. Choose a new or favorite destination, pack your bags, and hit the road. It will be worth all of your time and efforts.
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How do you relax? Where do you go to get away? What was your favorite weekend away?


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RV Living: Day (approximately) 1,125

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Speaking of “Adventures with a Book Lover” (part of the title of this blog), we moved into our RV on August 20, 2016. That was approximately 1,125 days ago. Do I sense a celebration coming on?

Let me tell you. We are still married. We still love each other. We are better at dancing around each other in tight spaces. We wear the same clothes over and over again. We ignore the wardrobes in the shop for the ease of grabbing the same somethings from the tiny cupboards. We cook, shop, store, and recreate differently than when we lived in a stick house. We entertain in unique (and sometimes HOT or COLD settings, due to outside venues) ways. We rotate seats when groups > than the number of available seats visit. And I still haven’t gone through EVERY cupboard and drawer to remove things we have never used. That goal was from summer #1 in the RV.

Due to several circumstances, we are no closer to building a small house than when we settled in this tiny RV space. That’s an entirely different and very long post.

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Was it worth it? You bet. How you ask? I love lists. Here is the short version:

1. Finances. The RV is paid off. DEBT-FREE living.

2. Coziness. We have this in droves. Come on over if you need a cupful.

3. Less stuff to worry about. Though I do have to shop more often, I need to purchase less because of storage. That was an interesting revelation.

4. Moveable. We don’t have to stay in one spot. We do, for the most part. But that will change in a few years. Travel options are unlimited.

5. Tiny living. This is it baby. We have about 228 (or some ridiculously low number like that) square feet, about 60 of them dedicated to the cat. LOL. We have learned that we really do not want a tiny house. We want a small house. About 800-900 square feet. With some breathing room. And a bigger shower. But for an RV, our bathroom is deluxe.

6. Cute RV. Really! Our RV is pretty cute. I’ve learned how much I can decorate without the cat knocking things over or the circuits getting blown.

7. Weather. We know what the weather is. Hot is hot. Cold is cold. The RV, four season though it is, is still a tin box. With excellent insulation, but still. We are so thankful for our super furnace and AC. The addition of the skirting really makes us successful during our northwest winters. We always know what the weather is. It’s a habit of RV life. Check the weather. Feel the weather.

8. Rain. On the roof. I love listening to it fall! The same goes for snow and wind. Weather is an interactive experience.

9. Creativity. Let’s say our creativity is enhanced due to multiple opportunities to solve tiny house living issues. We are building our brain cells!

10. Adventure. We are living the dream. RV living is definitely an adventure. One day (we tell ourselves) we will look back fondly on the funny and not so funny episodes of RV life and miss the adventures.

But until then . . .

It’s time for a celebration! Happy 1,125th day of RV life, Quantrells. Enjoy the ride!

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Throwback Thursday: Kids & Nature in the Arizona Desert

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I was probably in first or second grade in this picture. And I can tell you, we had no nature deficit disorder in my family. We were always outside. Either the kids were out, by choice or by mom’s choice, or the entire family was off and exploring.

It seemed like our family spent most weekends in the station wagon or camper, heading off to explore and find what we could find. Though I know we also went to church on a regular basis, so maybe we spent Saturdays traveling and skipped a random Sunday now and then to camp. Life as a kid was always an adventure.

I’m pretty sure this picture was taken at Turkey Creek in Arizona. Turkey Creek was a great spot. I can remember camping there at least 3 different times. Judging by the grin on my face, I loved getting outside. And in Arizona, being outside around water was a treat. Being a desert and all. We four of kids (maybe not James, who was a baby) had a ball splashing in the creek. We did the usual-get muddy, catch critters, drench ourselves, throw rocks, find favorite rocks, go fishing with plain sticks. I remember one trip in particular when I found a snapping turtle. I was, of course, sticking my finger towards its mouth, seeing if it would snap. It did. Pinched my finger hard enough that I wet my pants! I remember crying. Hello. If you poke a wild animal in its mouth, it will bite.

Besides random attacks from snapping turtles, I remember all of us being together. That was important. The mom and dad, the 4 kids, the dog, the cat, the bird. We all crowded into the camper and dad drove us along bumpy dirt roads to get to our camp or picnic destinations. That was back in the good old days when kids rode in the camper while the vehicle was in motion. We played cards, colored pictures, ate snacks, climbed up and down from the over-the-cab bed, and I’m sure, fought like crazy. But somehow, we all made it to adulthood.

Looking back at this picture of myself standing on rocks and my sister collecting nature items, I can remember the beauty of the water, the rocks, the plants, the dirt. I can feel the sun on my back. Just look at those boulders behind me. I mean, they are gorgeous. Plenty of lichen and hiding spots for poisonous desert dwellers. But we didn’t worry too much about those. Stay away from the obvious dangers like tarantulas and rattlesnakes. Leave them alone, they’ll (most likely) leave you alone. Dappled light gives great luster to this photo. I love how the sunlight highlights my braids. And I see I am, even at that young age, wearing one of my lifelong favorite colors. Orange. And stripes. I’m still into stripes. Funny.

I’m so glad my parents instilled in us a love of the outdoors and exploring our surroundings. It doesn’t matter where you live, there are interesting and beautiful nature hot spots just waiting to be discovered. You can go as far as your backyard (welcome, gallon jars of tadpoles) or escape to a different state or country.

Hello, Arizona desert. I miss you.

How about you? Where did you go exploring when you were a child?


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Throwback Thursday: Things I Adopted Back Then That Are Still With Me

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Can you date this photo? Judging by the sandals, tank top, shorts, hair style, watch . . .

Well, I know the exact week. This picture of me (waayyy back before selfies-my honey had to take this, with an actual film camera) was taken on our honeymoon in June of 1985. So if you guessed mid-80s, you were spot on.

Looking back, I recognize signs that make me, well, me. Things I always do, have with me, or wear.

Tote bags. I LOVE tote bags. Just ask anyone who has traveled with me. One of my favorite souvenirs is a tote bag commemorating the location or adventure.

Minnie Mouse. Disney. I LOVE taking trips to Disneyland. We spent our honeymoon in Southern California, hitting Disneyland, the wax museum, and Knott’s Berry Farm. But Disney is my favorite.

Sandals. These pour things! I can’t believe I traipsed all over Los Angeles with them. Of course, now I am so much better at wearing appropriate shoes. 😉 TEVA sandals are all I wear. Much sturdier than these babies, and oh, what a fashion statement. It only takes one week in March to get back my TEVA tan. On my feet I mean.

Notepad and pen. I cannot comfortably leave home, travel, visit, meet, plan, or do anything without paper and pen. I can see I was already in the habit on our honeymoon.

The watch. Back then, no cell phones. People actually wore watches that ONLY told time. Like this one. Now, of course, cell phones do everything but put food in the oven. I’m sure they can turn the oven on though, for some tech-advanced families.

The brace. That’s a freebie. I tore my knee ligaments at college while playing in a racquetball tournament. This is the LITTLE brace! I was so happy to graduate from the full-leg version just before our wedding. Still, I walked with a limp, as evidenced by the wedding video. After our honeymoon, I returned home to multiple sessions of physical therapy to regain my graceful gait. ;0

Hair. Oh my. I actually had hair! And it was fluffy. Now with thinning and lots of products, most days my hair is under control. Or in a bun. A nana bun.

Shorts. Short shorts. Mine were not too bad, but the people in the background had much shorter shorts. You can’t see the waist band of mine, but it was one of those huge wide belts that were in fashion. Eww. Now I’m all about comfort. And skorts. I adore skorts. Skorts are me.

Generally speaking, this is me. I still sit with my foot out of my shoe like I did in this picture, I feel happiest when I have pen and paper, and my hair curls (or frizzes) wildly.

How about you? Do you have a picture of a younger you that showcases what you are today?


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Book Report: Pauses for the Vacationing Soul, A Sensory-Based Devotion Guide for the Beach

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Pauses for the Vacationing Soul, A Sensory-Based Devotion Guide for the Beach

Written by Cathy Baker

http://www.cathybaker.org, 2017

 

I was recently gifted Pauses for the Vacationing Soul, A Sensory-Based Devotion Guide for the Beach by the amazing Cathy Baker. Ok, by recently I mean…a bit ago. But I digress.

I started reading this adorable little devotional guide, again, a bit ago. Then I realized it would be the perfect special devotional guide to take with me on my week-long writing residency at Holly House (Hypatia-in-the-Woods). So I tucked it in my growing stack of things to take with me on my residency.

It turns out I was correct. This little gem was just the right length and focus for my week near several beaches in the Shelton, Washington, area. I loved reading the entry for each morning and reflecting on God’s beauty, vacation (though I was on a residency), relaxing, and resting. I especially enjoyed Cathy’s inclusion of travel days and coming back to reality after vacation.

Cathy has a sweet spirit, which is very obvious when you read her book or her newsletters. I first discovered Cathy when I bumped into one of her posts. Her site has a picture of the cutest Tiny House on the Hill. My honey and I want to build a tiny house, so I latched right on to her site. Cathy and her husband are working on her writing studio/retreat tiny house. I’ve loved watching each step they take as they add to the tiny house. I can’t wait to see it when it’s finished.

If you are heading out for a week away, or are still looking forward to vacation, consider reading Pauses for the Vacationing Soul, A Sensory-Based Devotion Guide for the Beach by Cathy Baker. Check out her web site at CathyBaker.org.

Thank you, Cathy, for the gift of a book that added just the right touch to my writing residency. Be blessed!

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Scenes from a Writing Residency: Holly House & Hypatia-in-the-Woods

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Holly House

Last January I was elated to learn I had been granted a special writing residency and retreat at Holly House and Hypatia-in-the-Woods. What a great way to begin a new year!

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Beautiful tree-lined drive into Holly House. Loved this walk!

Located outside of Shelton, Washington, not far from Olympia, Holly House would be overlooking Hammersly Inlet if it weren’t totally surrounded by a mixed forest of deciduous and coniferous trees. The setting is absolutely gorgeous. Cool, green, shaded, quiet, peaceful. Did I say peaceful? And all mine for the week.

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Welcoming front patio. Spiders especially loved this area.

After shopping for enough food to last 3 months, as if grocery stores did not exist 5-7 miles away, I arrived before lunch on my appointed Sunday. Outside appearances did not prepare me for the spacious and beautiful inside environment. Incidentally, Holly House is very close to the small house size my honey and I want to build for ourselves.

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Cozy living room. This chair is perfect for reading!

I’ll let the pictures do the talking. I had everything I needed for a creative, imaginative, stress-free week. Loft bedroom, large bathroom, living room, dining area, kitchen, and even a deck with the most perfect table and chairs.

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Perfect tiny kitchen. Ignore my mess. It was everywhere!

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The side deck let in so much natural, green light. Ahhh. I enjoyed reading and working outside in the soft green sunlight.

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The loft bedroom had plenty of storage and space. Wide open windows brought in light and fresh air.

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Me and more of my mess. This was my main working area (can you tell????). The view in front of me was a HUGE and very pleasant distraction. I didn’t mind in the least.

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TV window. No electricity required.

I was so blessed to visit and stay at Holly House. The neighbors (a couple and their huge dog) were fantastically helpful and reassuring. After all, I was in the middle of the woods in the middle of nowhere. And I heard there had been evidence of a bear. My imagination supplied the rest of the excitement.

The Hypatia-in-the-Woods board was wonderful. I enjoyed a potluck one evening, getting to meet most of the members. I was met by Carolyn at Holly House. She brought me some snacks and gave me a working tour of the cabin. Every single thing I could have wanted or desired was provided. Or all I had to do was ask. Thank you to all who gave me the opportunity and welcomed me to Holly House.

I’m so thankful for my writing residency. Thank you, Holly House, Hypatia-in-the-Woods, neighbors, and the Hypatia board. Thank you!

If you ever have an opportunity to go on a writing retreat or residency, do it! Worth every second.