Weekend Coffee Share

Wow it’s already Sunday afternoon! I apologize for being so late with the coffee this weekend. How is your weekend?

Everything is good here. I admit that I am a little tired. There’s a lot of things to process inside my head right now. Everything is ready for tomorrow. THE BIG MOVE! In fact after posting this, I’m going to give my dog a bath, and start organizing everything in the car. Phew. It is dawning on me that this is it. I am ready, but still, it is going to be a big change.

Got a new #haircut today, since I’m heading towards new #adventures. #blonde #selfie

A post shared by MJ (@sagittariusviking) on

I figure that a big change like this requires a new haircut. Don’t you think?

Speaking of new…I bought a new camera yesterday, a Canon EOS 6D Mark ii. (The Instagram selfie above, is only a cellphone pic.) I’ve been wanting to upgrade to a full frame, ever since mine was stolen, four years ago. That camera wasn’t insured, so it was a hard hit for a single mom. The first camera I could afford after it happened was a $79, point and shoot camera from Walmart. I worked it as well as I could, and I’ve been able to do smaller upgrades, every year since then. Yesterday I was finally able to get a full frame camera again. It’s big for me.

I only have one lens that fits this camera, but I will make the very best use of it, until I can compliment it with a good telephoto zoom lens. The lens I have is a fixed 50mm lens, so I’m going to become the new 50mm expert..LOL. I’m very excited. I was happy with my last camera, which was a good camera, a Canon EOS 80D. I bought it when it came out and I’ve been very happy with it. It didn’t take very long before it paid for itself. I was actually considering purchasing the same camera again (I had used up most of the shutter counts on the one I had.) If you’re in the market for a good camera under $1000, I can recommend investing in a Canon EOS 80D. (I’m telling you this as a friend, I’m not an affiliate..there is nothing in it for me other than the pleasure of seeing my friends being happy with a good camera.) It’s a lot of camera for the money. However, I went with my full frame dream yesterday. I’ve waited a long time for this. Now it’s the perfect time, with a long road trip, and plenty of new, exciting vistas to explore. When you print/sell photos, there is a big difference between a camera with a cropped sensor, and a full frame camera. Which is the most significant difference between the Canon EOS 80D, and the Canon EOS 6D Mark ii.

I took my new camera out for some test shooting today, of course I had too.. I was so excited that I skipped going through all the menu settings before I started. I only used the manual settings on the top of the camera, as I took the pictures. When I came back home I discovered that I’ve only shot everything in RAW format. Which basically means that the files are HUGE. When you’re shooting RAW, the camera saves every little ounce of information in the photo. Later you can edit the photo in any way you want, and it will look more natural, and not take any quality away from he photo. However that takes a long time. I think this is only for special occasions, like weddings, or exotic vacations etc. Once in a lifetime things. For every day photos it’s more practical to shoot JPEG, where the camera do some processing by itself, and the photos comes out looking good, and in reasonable file sizes.

When I came back from my photo excursion today, I read (part of) the manual to the camera, and experimented more with the camera. Now I know how to switch between JPEG, and RAW easily. You can even choose to shoot in both modes at the same time, having the camera save two files of every photo you take. Naturally it would eat up a lot of space on your memory card. I’m so excited about being able to move forward with my photography again. I’ve always enjoyed taking pictures, no matter the camera, but it is a thrill to take it to the next level. I might even start up my photography business again. Not as a full time thing, but maybe part time, (a few months, and a few more lenses, from now.) Maybe. Either way,  I am super happy and excited. And slightly tired..

I’m going to go to bed early tonight, heading to my last day at work tomorrow morning, and then hitting the road to Reno. I’m not driving the whole distance in one day. No need to rush. Gretchen (my dog,) and I are going to enjoy this.

I hope your weekend is fabulous! If you don’t want another cup of coffee, I have some delicious Pomegranate Ice Tea. I promise to share the first photos from the new camera somewhere along the way to Las Vegas. See you soon my friend ❤

Weekend Coffee Share is a time for us to take a break out of our lives and enjoy some time catching up with friends (old and new)!
Grab a cup of coffee and share with us! What’s been going on in your life? What are your weekend plans? Is there a topic you’ve just been ruminating on that you want to talk about?
All are welcome! Just add your link to the Linky-List, and be sure to visit others and join in their conversations! The link will be open from Friday August 17 th at 7am (Pacific Time) until Monday August 21 st at 7pm (Pacific Time) to give us a good range of “weekend”!


Ms Zen

Carr Fire – Game Plan

I realized that I did not write a post this morning. Just want to let you know that I am safe from the fire. It is still burning at 163,207 acres, with a 45% containment, as of this morning. The winds are moving the fire further away. The city of Redding is not in danger anymore, other smaller communities are. It is a good thing that the the Carr Fire is getting a little more contained by the day. Neighborhoods have Raking Parties! Neighbors gather together with rakes, and help each other go through the ashes. Phew. It almost feels wrong to have been spared from the worst of the worst. We’re still wearing face masks outside. The smoke is thick.

It’s been a super busy day today. I took care of the horses at work this morning, and then my own. I’ve given away some of my trees and plants. I won’t be able to take them with me when I move to another state. You can’t bring plants. Which is sad in a way, but a dear friend of mine is going to enjoy them a lot. That makes me incredibly happy. Then I didn’t do all that work for nothing. My friend makes these most exquisite metal work. She made this rose for me, isn’t absolutely beautiful? I feel so blessed to have so many amazing people in my life.

I’m a minimalist and I purposely don’t have a lot of “stuff” laying around, but I do highly appreciate the few decorative items that I do have. The all have a special meaning. This rose from my friend will definitely be one of those precious things with a special meaning.

I’ve started to downsize things that I don’t need to take with me to my new home. Yesterday I sold two saddles, and some other tack I had in my tack room. This morning I notified the lady I work for, and she was so understanding, and kind. I know it will be troublesome for her to have to train someone new, but she was so sweet.  She knows how serious I take motherhood, and moving closer to my daughter is something that she could understand.

There’s a gentleman coming to look at my horse Ghost on Thursday. I have not put an ad up on Fancy yet, still there’s two people interested in her. I am mostly concerned about getting Ghost into a good home, since he isn’t trained, that is more challenging. Not so many people can responsibly take on an untrained horse. I am keeping my fingers crossed for the gentleman that is going to look at him on Thursday. Our phone conversation was very promising. I think he would be a great match. Finding wonderful homes for Ghost and Fancy is my number one priority these next coming days. After that everything will be relatively easy. I’m fairly sure it will be easy to find Fancy a home, even though her hooves is not 100% yet. They will be soon, and she is a very nice, trained, registered horse, with zero vices that I’m aware of. In fact she’s the easiest horse I ever owned.

When I’ve found the horses new homes, I’m going to sell my truck, and buy a car. Buy then I pretty much should have my other possessions figured out, and packed the things I want to bring. I’m going to donate a lot of things, and clothes to Goodwill. I usually do that every spring, and every fall. I don’t like collecting things that aren’t being used. The move is going to be fairly easy. I might even have a job, with housing lined up. Nothing is set in stone, but it felt promising. It’s less than an hour from my daughter’s new home. My timeline is to be on my way by the end of this month, if everything works in my favor. Now you know my game plan. I believe it is totally doable. I am a doer. When I decide something, things happens, and I can be rather stubborn (or goal oriented) about it. It’s been a productive day today. I hope you had an awesome day!

..and I’m going to have to figure out a new name for this blog, NorCal won’t do when I don’t live in NorCal anymore…I’ll have to think about that one.


Ms Zen

Weekend Coffee Share; Carr Fire Update – My Garden – Zen 

I promised you a more positive coffee share this week, and I will deliver! The zen is slowly finding its way back. The coffee is ready, please have a cup! How is your week so far? 

Last weekend I was in shock, when our county was declared in a state of emergency because of the Carr Fire. When a big fire just gets bigger, and gets totally out of control you feel kind of small. I’m a very organized person, that plans ahead, and take care of things in good time etc..well, there’s limits to what you can do in the midst of a raging fire, after you packed your bag. (You don’t want to unnecessarily endanger yourself in anyway, so that precious resources would have to be used to rescue you.) The more positive note is that the fire is getting more contained by the day. Last night (Thursday,) it was 37% contained. The containment lines towards the city of Redding, with the highest population, is strong now. BUT CalFire also said last night that Low relative humidity and an unstable atmosphere have increased fire behavior. I am by no means letting my guard down! My bags are packed, and I’m still ready to go if need be. This is the latest info I have about the fire.

Incident Start Date: July 23, 2018 

Incident Start Time: 1:15 p.m. 

Incident Type: Wildland Fire 

Cause: Mechanical Failure of a Vehicle 

Incident Location: Highway 299 and Carr Powerhouse Road 

CAL FIRE Unit: Shasta/Trinity 

Unified Command Agencies: CAL FIRE, National Parks Service, Redding City Fire, US Forest Service 

Size: 126,913 acres 

Containment: 37% 

Expected Full Containment: Unknown 

Firefighter Injuries/Fatalities: 2 


Structures Threatened: 1,358 

Residential Structures Destroyed: 1,060 

Commercial Structures Destroyed: 19 

Other Destroyed: 474 

Residential Structures Damaged: 189 

Commercial Structures Damaged: 8 

Other Damaged: 61 

Situation Summary:  Low relative humidity and an unstable atmosphere have increased fire behavior. Shifting winds, steep terrain, and dry fuels continue to challenge firefighters. A Red Flag Warning has been issued this evening through Saturday. Crews will work through the night to mitigate potential spot fires across control lines. Repopulation of residents in the areas affected by evacuations will continue as conditions permit. 

When the worst shock subsided, I decided to do my best to stay in a positive state of mind. As soon as I possibly could, I went back to work. On my free time I’ve kept myself very busy in the garden, and taking care of the plentiful bounty from the garden (canning, and distributing the goodies to friends, and family.) I’ve had plenty of time to plan my fall garden this week, and I’ve been propagating some new fruit trees.

I’ve been focusing on propagating citrus trees this week. I’ve propagated California Honey Mandarin, and Meyer Lemon trees. The method in the photos above, propagating from cuttings, in simple tiny green houses made out of plastic bags, is very effective. If you count the amount of work, and the success ratio, this is my favorite method for the majority of fruit trees. My experiment with air layering this spring worked out wonderfully as well, but it is a lot more time-consuming.

My container garden is growing, both in number of trees, and size of the trees. I currently have four relatively big pomegranate trees, a big number of fig trees, lime, lemon, mandarin, two varieties of orange, dates (still very small,) and I just started a couple apricot trees as well. It is very rewarding. I think fruit trees are beautiful. Partly because of the joy of seeing a new tree grow (you can easily see weekly progress during the summer,) and partly because of the promise a new fruit tree gives for the future. I love the nurturing part. Some new baby fruit trees require a lot of attention to thrive. It feels so awesome when it is obvious that they do. I enjoy the challenge. I still consider myself a newbie to growing fruit trees, it’s something I’ve only done for the past 5 years, or so. Still relatively new. It’s kind of exciting not always knowing what to do, and being forced to do research. I document my experiments, and write down what works, a not. That will eventually be a part of my book; Productive Organic Gardening On A Budget. The book is far from finished. I’ve decided to work on my book every week, but lift the timeframe I had in my head. I want it to be both visually appealing, and of good use to my readers. I really like learning about something I find fascinating, like growing my own food. (Yeah, I find the learning process to be very beautiful, and fascinating ..after all, I am a teacher.) Bringing a beautiful tree as a gift to someone I believe would appreciate it, is one of my favorite ideas for a gift. To me a gift is more meaningful if the person giving it have put a thought, and effort into the gift. This gift could potentially help feed a family for years to come. Not even mentioning the joy, and beauty it brings.

My effort to stay in a positive state of mind have been successful. Everything that is happening is beyond tragic. Over 1000 people lost their homes, and people have died, but I can’t go around thinking about that all day, then I would need some serious help myself very soon. I’d rather stay positive, and perhaps I can inspire, or make this tragedy easier for someone. I’ve been overwhelmed by the kindness of semi-strangers this week; phone calls, emails, messages, real life conversations with actual strangers while in town. The majority of people are coming together, and showing a beautiful side, that might have passed unnoticed earlier. I see it. Many people are noticing the positive vibrations that this tragedy started. Another unexpected effect of this is, that I actually have been blogging every day since this started. All this turned into a good new writing habit. It started to ease the mind of friends and loved one, and ended up being a wonderful outlet for me. Writing helped me process this tragedy to some degree. Kind, encouraging, daily interaction with my blogging friends, via comments on the blog every day have been absolutely wonderful, and very helpful in keeping my spirits up. I’m going to do the best I can to return that. The goodness in other human beings had me humbled. 

Do you need a refill on that coffee? I think I’m going to have another cup 🙂 Do you have any fun plans for the weekend? 

This was just to let my friends and family know that I’m still here. In good spirit. Thinking of how this week started, I feel so much stronger now. How are you doing?

Weekend Coffee Share is a time for us to take a break out of our lives and enjoy some time catching up with friends (old and new)!

Grab a cup of coffee and share with us! What’s been going on in your life? What are your weekend plans? Is there a topic you’ve just been ruminating on that you want to talk about? All are welcome! 


Ms Zen