good cheer

Christmastime is a busy time. For the last four days, I’ve been abnormally busy; which means I haven’t even had time to finish one chapter in any of my novels. This makes me practically desperate to sit down and write something – but just because I want something doesn’t mean I get it. And actually, I think some time in the ‘real world’ is going to help my writing anyway. I thought you might like to know a couple little things that have happened to me over the last few days while out and about with my family.

wonderfultime

– At Trader Joe’s, I was out with my soon to be sister-in-law looking for mom’s cell phone when an old lady comes running down the ramp, pushing her grocery cart. She hits the sidewalk and keeps going, and while she flies past us, calls, “That was fun!!” (It turns out my sister had the phone in her purse. Nobody knew how it got there, but apparently she’d been wondering where the ringing was coming from).

– At Whole Foods, I stopped to ask one of the men who worked there where he was from, because his accent was amazing. He got this huge grin (the only way I can describe this is that my soul liked his. Sometimes people just give you this weird feeling of ‘connection’ and it was strange that a random man in Whole Foods would be someone I liked so much) and then told me that he spoke Spanish very well. So, being brilliant, I said, “….Spain?” He told me it was a country in South America, and proceeded to name them all. The funny thing was, he wasn’t doing this in a know-it-all way, but in a really enjoyable way instead. I guessed Chile and he said, “Close! Argentina.” He asked where I was from, and I told him it was from the extremely exotic Washington State. We chatted for a bit, and he said, “If you ever travel, open your mind and your heart.” This, coupled with the Argentinian accent and the whole soul-thing, made this guy one of my favorite people I’ve ever met. His name was Carlos. (Roll the ‘r’.)

– We went into a coffee shop called Caribou Coffee in Atlanta. It is ADORABLE, and crowded and quirky. While Mom, Riah, and my older sister Maralie chatted at a table, I took my nephew Silas to a seat by the fireplace and told him three Christmas stories in a row (he spent the rest of the day asking for more stories. I love telling stories to him). I had a Ho Ho Mint Mocha. (Yesterday we went again and I had a Campfire Mocha. With actual melted bits of marshmallow. Ohhhh.) As we were leaving, Riah told me that Clark Kent had apparently been in there, and I had missed him. He was on the phone the whole time, but we decided it was because he was looking for a phone booth to change into and couldn’t find one. We DID find one later – but it was a DANTRIS; clear, red, glass, and locked. Ah well.

Oftheyear

– When we went to Atlanta, we wandered around the mall and had a blast. There was a Free People there; where I wanted every article of clothing and jewelry they had but none even pretended to approach my budget. They decorated beautifully for Christmas; white lights were strung around, and they decorated the mannequins in gorgeous, sparkly party dresses overlaid with vintage lace for a funky, adorable look.

– The next best shop was Anthropologie. The first thing you see when you walk in is a model in a dress – the skirt of which is made entirely of blue-and-white China plates, various pieces and sizes and fragments. The mannequin wore a white paper jacket, and I stood around gawping at it until my six-year-old nephew decided it was time to go, and proceeded to lead me around the store to look at papery, dolls, chinawear, clothes, books, and furniture.

– After that we went to Panera and got some snacks (strawberries and cream scone for me, cinnamon twists and pumpkin muffins for everyone else before heading out. We had a blast – and then we got to go to Atlanta again!

– Yesterday morning, Riah and I got up early. She made hot chocolate and we watched Prom together – we used to get up early on Saturdays and watch fluff movies regularly, but it’s been forever. We had the most fun time, laughing and giggling and ‘awwww’-ing. And it wasn’t a musical! (Yes, we watched the High School Musicals and Camp Rocks during our saturday mornings. Yes we did.)

This week we have the zoo, the Hobbit, Stone Mountain, and cookie day. I hope to bring the camera and take pictures for you! And now, I want to go write – because I’m dying to and haven’t had the proper time in days. Merry Christmas!

Take wing on the balmy breeze/ and sweep you off your feet

Our camping trip was cut a little short thanks to some rain – but that didn’t matter! I had an amazing time! There’s something about camping – it calmes you, refreshes you, slows you down, straightens your priorities. It couldn’t have come at a better time – I need a re-focus before NaNo sets in. The autumn foliage was spectacular – I was a little bit camera-happy, when I wasn’t sitting around the fire warming my feet and drinking hot chocolate! Because really, that’s what camping’s all about.

Proof! I really did go camping!

Our tent! There’s a divider in the middle; Riah and I slept in one half, Mom and Dad in the other. Mar, Jake and Silas slept in their own tent (which has a front porch. It’s like a tent-mansion).

Silas loves the fire. It’s his favorite part about camping every year – he does his best to keep it going all day, and every time he grabbed a new handful of kindling he would come running up and call me, “Auntie M! Look!”

Hot chocolate and a homemade pumpkin muffin for breakfast? I think yes. (Am I making you want to go camping yet?)

My sister and my brother-in-law. I told Jake he looked as if he was going to eat the bait. His response –

I adore this picture of mom and dad. I’m not a photographer, but I feel rather proud of it.

How I normally look, in case you were wondering.

And last, but not least, my tree. We camped by this tree the last time – it’s perfect for laying on, feeling like a woodland elf or something. I fell asleep there the last time for a good solid hour; waking up to pick twigs from my hair and brush leaves off my jeans.

Autumn is delicious.

“I feel like a postcard, ‘cuz I wish you were here”

We’re in FLORIDA!!! I have not been in Florida since I was nine years old. Many of you don’t know that my State timeline is this: Washington from years zero to six, Florida from years seven to nine, Washington again for years ten to thirteen, and Georgia from fourteen to current.

We’re exactly where I used to live in Florida, and it was amazingly nostalgic driving around and pointing out everything I used to live near. We were all calling out signs and buildings, and the car sounded something like this –

“Look! The outlets! Mar used to buy almost all her clothes there!”

“I used to get a plastic toy horse there every time we went if you could buy it for me!”

“I remember when we had gummy worms there!”

“Oh yeah, right by all the painted manatee statues!”

“Hey, there are people chatting on the freeway!”

“I’d forgotten people did that in Florida, they must be really desperate for a chat.”

“Hey, we forgot our Augu Clara CD to listen to on the way to the beach!”

“RACE THE SUNSET!!! WE CAN MAKE IT TO THE BEACH!!”

“Ohmyword, LOOK! IT’S THE ATLANTA BREAD COMPANY!”

“Best. Restaurant. Ever.”

“HEY! Look, it’s the Sunshine Skyway! From over here it looks a lot smaller than it feels while driving on it.”

And finally – “WHOA, look at the SKY!”

We did it, ladies and gentlemen – we raced the sunset and made it to the beach in time to watch the sun go down in a glorious blaze of pale blue, soft orange, glowing yellow – all the colors reflected on the water. It was amazing. I’ve never really missed living in Florida – insects, heat, and humidity are my mortal enemies to my person and (especially) my hair, which has a tendency to frizz WITHOUT the help of extra-moist air.

But being back here, in weather that’s hot but not TOO hot (it’s October in Florida, so it’s only like ninety degrees….) sings of several years of my life that were very good years. It was like a long vacation – Disney World, Busch Gardens, alligators in the backyard… now I’m rambling, but I guess memories will do that to you.

We walked down the sand of Annamaria Island, soft and sugary beneath our bare feet. We walked past crumbling sand castles and piles of tiny seashells, past beach dudes throwing eachother around in the water, past couples young and old holding hands, and watched the moon rise amid silver-rimmed clouds. If you haven’t seen the sea reflect the shine of the moon, then you’ve missed something in your life and you should head to your nearest beach.

And the funny thing is, I don’t even like everything about the beach. I like walking along the sand, but I don’t like getting myself wet AND sandy. It’s disgusting. “It’s itchy and it gets everywhere,” to quote a certain troubled Jedi. And yet, the magical pull of the beach can make me forget the fact that we aren’t on completely friendly terms, and we form a truce.

I’ll hold hands and stroll with you, I promise the beach, but don’t expect me to drown in you.

All right, it agrees.

And the waves roll up, teasing my feet, and somewhere far out, my eight-year-old self thinks there may still be mermaids playing.