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Life in Napa | Dealing With A Forced Time-Out



Did you know that, in technological terms, a computer that is a mere seven-years-young is considered vintage? The absurd part of all that is the difficulty, almost impossibility, in finding spare cables and parts to repair them when they fizzle. And that is what my faithful, then state-of-the-art Mac Pro did about six weeks ago, smack in the middle of a tutorial video: it fizzled.

The good thing: after delaying for weeks with the excuse that I had so much else that was top priority to take care of, I had finally backed up everything just two days before.

The not good thing: a phone call to Apple and a few “let’s try this, let’s try that” later, the problem remained unresolved. Hence, my first “load + schlepp” of my big and heavy computer tower + display all the way to the nearest Apple store, which is an hour’s drive away in Santa Rosa. Indeed, schlepp: an expression I learned from a New York friend, and which I think is perfect for expressing this kind of activity.




This will be long enough already, so I will skip the long “let’s see if we can repair it” story and jump to a couple of weeks ago, when I humpfed and heaved one last time to return the “vintage” computer back to Apple for a 4TB data transfer to my spiffy, new and ever so light (not to mention expensive) Mac Book Pro. Yes, I did go from desktop to laptop again.

As I watched the Apple technician roll the cart with all my old and new equipment through the doors to the backroom, it felt like being at a hospital, watching a loved one being carted into the operating room. I wanted to reach out and say: “Please take care of my babies.”




All this semi-long story to explain why I have been MIA all these weeks. I have been on forced hiatus from anything that required a computer, mostly from work. Thank goodness for iPhones, so I could at least pay my bills.

It has been an interesting process, starting with the fact that I did not panic, not at all. I stared at my now black screen and thought: “Ok, let’s take care of this.”  I must admit, though, that I would have been a lot more panicked had I not just backed everything up.


The surprise was how a part of me, which became bigger every day, felt… relief. I had not taken a break from work and computer in about 6-7 years. And I mean a real break, both physical and mental/emotional from my photography, blog and all the logistics that go with that. In the previous few months I had been so focused that I had come dangerously close to a burn-out, something I did not realize until I was forced to stop.




I took a deep breath and decided to just flow with what was happening. After a few days of complete rest, I figured I might as well give a serious tackle to the still humongous pile of boxes in my living room. That I did, with incredible determination and stamina, during the hottest weeks of summer here in the wine country. Did I mention how grateful I am for air conditioning?

I have now opened and sorted through every single box, from the smallest to the biggest. I have donated several carloads of stuff, and I am getting ready to sell a few items (needed a computer for that). It has been a workout, but so worth it. And I now know that, had it not been for the forced time-out, I would have dilly-dallied over this and taken the rest of the year to complete the process. Interesting how we are forced to prioritize sometimes.




Working my way through the boxes felt so good! I totally recommend it. Sometimes I would open a box and wished I could whip my wand and say “Evanesco!” and make everything disappear. But sometimes it was like Christmas, as things I loved and forgot I had showed up and made me happy. At the end of each day, I felt bummed when I had to stop because I was tired, or had run out of clear storage tubs, which I have been using to organize what I am keeping. I just wanted to keep going.


As of today, I have about half the stuff I had before, and all I have left to do is go through a few of the tubs with papers and such for a deeper level of decluttering. When I am done with that, I think I will go through my clothes again.

By the way, what Marie Kondo says about working one category at a time in her book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: she is absolutely right. Because of the chaotic state of my pile – the result of three moves – I was unable to do that, and had to tackle what showed up in the next-easiest-to-open box. It is so frustrating trying to organize something when you know there is more of the same somewhere in the pile, or forgetting tat there is an then having it show up when you thought you had already completed that category, only to have to go and mess around with it again, maybe even after having placed it at the bottom of a pile.

I considered taking photos of this process, but then decided this chaos did not make for good images to look at. You get to enjoy photos of the Napa garden in August instead. Much better, don’t you think?




These no-computer weeks have also been a time of reevaluation and re-set on many levels. This is something I really needed and that is still going on.  I can feel something new maturing in my energy field, and I am allowing it.


And then the eclipse happened. Even here in Napa, where it was barely visible because of Karl the Fog, it was most certainly felt. For me it was a release, a passage, a switch turned on, or maybe off. This was my multi-level experience of the eclipse day and the day after:

  • On eclipse day I got the call that my data transfer was complete and I could pick up my new computer, so a process that had started six weeks earlier was now complete.
  • The day after the eclipse, Tuesday, I almost went into a panic attack during a massage therapy session, something that had never happened before. This was followed by intense and inexplicable exhaustion (especially given that I had slept really well the night before). It felt like a combination jet-lag and antihistamine, and I was forced to sleep the rest of the day. I could not even read, because it took too much effort to hold up a book or even my iPhone.
  • Also Tuesday: I noticed that several weird digestive-related issues I had been dealing with for about a year, ones even my doctor could not explain, vanished overnight, literally. As of now, two weeks later, they have not returned.
  • My dreamtime is always intense and very rich, to the point that I often say that my dreamtime is more interesting than my daytime; but on Tuesday night I had a particularly significant dream, which to me marked a huge turning point.

I will see what continues to develop, as we are moving towards the autumnal equinox (Friday, September 22nd @ 1:02 pm PDT) and the beginning of a new cycle, and personally I am on countdown to my birthday, a period of time that is always interesting. to say the least.





Back to the logistical side of things: a few days ago I spent more than two hours first on chat and then on the phone with Adobe to try and reset my old Photoshop CS3 for the new computer. I was still using CS3 because all my actions, brushes and whatnots were appended in there, and it is a major job to have to re-append everything into a newer version. Alas, the program was old – vintage, like the old computer – and things did not work out. I had to scram all the old and set up the new Photoshop + Lightroom, one of the many things I had been meaning to do for at least two years and never got around to. Another major switch.

I am sharing this bit of technical background because this will further delay my posting on the blog. I need to learn to move around the new Photoshop, re-append all those whatnots I mentioned earlier before I can even resize an image or prep a widget, let alone edit. And, even though I am pretty good at figuring these things out, Lightroom is completely new to me, and I have tutorials to watch.

I had prepped and uploaded the images for this post before the Photoshop issue, so please, be patient with me a little longer until I sort everything out. I will refresh the blog as much as I can with widgets and images I already have ready to go, but everything else will have to wait, including the complete redesign.




When I finally got my new computer, my Mum said: “Oh, good! Now you can go back to normal.” As she said that, something inside me rebelled. I did not want to go back to “normal”. I no longer liked my old normal. So now I am creating a new normal, a little every day, with every new choice I make and every decision.





If you have read so far, thank you for your time and patience. I hope I have not bored you. And if you have just looked at the photos and skipped to the end, thank you anyway for patiently waiting for a new post from me.

I know I am not the only one for whom these past few weeks have been “interesting”, and the eclipse has marked an intense transition for many, even among those who live in areas where it was not visible. Now I am wondering: how has your summer been? And your eclipse time? I would love to hear your experience if you are up to sharing it in the comments.







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  • Gail09/05/2017 - 11:56 pm

    A summer of changes. Still working on the pond. Putting in a new floor. Dealing with some intense health issues. Saw the eclipse at totality. Great journey. Aloha. As always, love your writing and photography.ReplyCancel

    • Monica Schwartz09/07/2017 - 8:19 pm

      Thank you, Gail, for your kind words. Sorry about the intense health issues, as those spoil everything else. I hope you can sort them out soon. xoxoReplyCancel

  • Marykate09/06/2017 - 3:29 pm

    I loved so much of this. I hustled and bustled all summer, and I know I need a time of cleansing… it’s so smoky here where I live and the sky is yellow it’s got me ALL out of sorts. But your blog and photos reminded me to breathe. Thank you for that.ReplyCancel

    • Monica Schwartz09/07/2017 - 8:15 pm

      Thank you for your kind words, Miss MK. I am so happy you enjoyed the post and that it was helpful. In the meantime, I heard it is raining well in mid Oregon, so I hope the rain reaches further up and cleanses the air for you. xoxoReplyCancel

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