Category Archives: Nora at home

Perfect Weekend

Yesterday I attended the wedding of my longest of long-time friend’s granddaughter. I was there when Kara was born–in fact, served as co-labor coach with tkarajoeyhe new daddy. I’ve watched her grow into a beautiful, loving and kind young woman. And yesterday on a beautiful May evening, I watched her marry the man she loves–and who absolutely adores every inch of her. 

Gorgeous flowers, a stunning bride, a love-struck groom, friends and family ready to celebrate what the bride had dubbed The Best Day Ever. And it was. 

I brought home a nasty head cold from Derby, and haven’t had the best week–and that’s putting it mildly. Yesterday I figured to just look at my garden in process–didn’t think I had the energy to do any planting before getting ready for the wedding. Well, maybe just these couple of things. (Note from Laura:  Just a couple…HA!)

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Two hours later, I had lots more done, and felt so much better. Gardening, for me, is as good as yoga for feeding the body, mind and spirit. There’s more to do–BW is assigned to pick up the special begonias now ready for me at the nursery (and a few other things) on Monday. I’ve got spots to fill yet, and I’ll enjoy doing just that. But what’s done gives me so much pleasure. Now I can sit back, enjoy–and weed and water and maintain–but a lot of pure enjoyment. How will things grow–how will they look filled in together, what will bloom next? 

A wedding is a celebration of love–and a garden is the same for me. A marriage is the work, the joy, the changes, the growth–like a garden you get what you put in, and if you maintain, if you love, you get back even more for years and years to come. 

So I wish my sweet Kara and her adorable Joey even more for years and years to come.

Nora

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The Cruelest Month

T.S. Elliot hit the nail on that one. April teases us with warm breezes, climbing temperatures, pretty pink and yellow blossoms, tenderly greening trees–then slaps us silly with frosts and sudden plunges into winter.

Not sure what it says about me that I still love April. It holds out its sweet green hand, then yanks it away and blows cold white. You can just hear the snicker.

And still, it’s the promise, the knowing May’s coming. It’s looking out my dining room window–even though I have a fire going–and seeing my cherry trees brilliantly blooming.

pink tree

On Monday afternoon, I walked around with my two oldest grandchildren, all of us in tee-shirts, checking out the blooms and buds. Today I put on boots, a sweatshirt, my warmest hoodie, a scarf, and was still cold as BW and I went to the nursery. It’s yet to hit 50 today.

 

While I loaded up carts with plants that will make me incredibly happy, I chatted with a couple who told me they drove through snow to get there. They’re only a half hour north, and had snow. That’s pretty damn cruel.

truck of flowers

I can’t plant yet–who wants to garden when it’s 48 degrees anyway? It kills me, I admit, it kills me not to get out there and play. But I have a truckload of gorgeous plants that will, eventually, fill my beds, my pots with color and scent. I’ll enjoy every minute of digging in the dirt–when it doesn’t freeze my fingers off.

Since it’s my oldest grandson’s birthday (yesterday officially) he’s having a swim party here this afternoon (indoor pool, best thing I ever did), so the house will be full of happy–and a big-ass Call Of Duty cake, at his request.

As I can’t garden today, I think I’ll bake bread. I might as well make soup while I’m at it. They’re calling for a drop to 32 degrees tonight. But maybe tomorrow, if April decides to be kind, it’ll be warm enough to dig.

If not, well, May’s coming. And spring better be ready to bust out all over.

Nora

Good Things Come

Though the wait can seem endless, good things do come around. Tomorrow I head out for a week with the best of girl pals for fun and serious relaxation at the spa.

Packing’s a lot, but pretty easy as it’s work-out gear, sweats and pjs. For seven lovely days, we don’t cook, we don’t clean, do laundry, work, and the biggest stressors tend to be what color to have our nails done and who’s moving onto the next round of Drunken Scrabble or Wii Bowling. We have a tournament. With prizes.

Yesterday was  a mega, major signing at Turn The Page. Today is recover from that, pack, do a weather check to help with that packing, get in a workout, and since it’s gorgeous out, take a walk around outside.

After what hphoto 3onestly feels like the longest winter on record, spring’s starting to pop. I can’t decide whether to be delighted or annoyed my tulip magnolia’s on the edge of bursting.I’m going to miss most of it, and it’s my favorite April treat. But the forsythia’s bright and sunny yellow on one of my hills, and I see some of my perennials in the beds, like delphiniums and dianthus and columbine, pushing their way up.

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So I’ll leave my daffs and hyacinths for a week. Then come home to serious work, and some serious gardening. I’ll be ready.

But starting tomorrow, it’s all girls all the time, and it’s a week worth waiting for.

Nora

Note from Laura:  I’m going along for all the fun.  Nora and I will take turns giving some updates.   And on Tuesday morning I’ll open a thread to discuss The Liar. Stay tuned!

 

 

A query letter by Nora

Dear Winter: How can we miss you if you don’t go away?

Yesterday I hosted my annual gathering/clothes swap for people in my local writing group. I used to do this mid-winter, but it proved so problematic with weather and travel, I’ve shifted it to early spring in the last several years.

When I sent out the invites a few weeks ago, I thought: This’ll be nice–end of March. Cool, but pleasant enough people could wander outside if they want.

Wrong.

A 28 degree high isn’t cool, it’s fricking cold. And morning snow flurries are not burgeoning daffodils.

Still, a fine time was had by all. It’s a total girl day with food and drink and talk, and the madness of a mountain of clothes–every style, shape and size–brought by dozens of women.

I’m ending the weekend making farmhouse bread, and a vast pot of chicken noodle soup as I had the chicken, and could take advantage of the leftover veggies from the party. And it had better be the last vat of soup I make this spring specifically because it’s so damn cold out.tulips on counter soup in pot

At least papansies in planternsies–who don’t mind the chill–give me some hope of spring, even if it’s cold enough to keep a fire burning instead of doing some early prep-work in the garden.fire in grate

I’ve got four tubs of books to sign, and when that’s done I believe I’m going to flop down horizontally and find some movie that won’t tax my tired brain cells.

It better be warm enough next weekend for me to at least plant my potatoes, or Mother Nature and I are going to have a serious conversation.  

Nora

Spring forward

This morning when I went outside to feed the dogs, I didn’t see my breath, and I heard birdsong. Maybe I had to pick my way over some snow and ice, but I didn’t have to haul on a coat and shiver while doing this basic ritual. I consider this a triumph. Maybe I can’t yet see the ground, and the view out my office window still looks like a black and white painting, but I’m going to believe winter’s finally heading out the door.

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When spring finally gets here, I’m going to get my hands in the dirt. On those days when I’m busy, and those garden chores are just one more thing to do, I’m going to remember what I looked at for three long months–and be grateful for the work.

Every fall we haul in some of the deck and patio pots to winter over in the pool house. Like me, this little begonia wants to sit outside in the sun. It won’t be long. begonias

I’m not one to wish the time away–that’s something you can’t get back–but I’m ready for the change of seasons. Happily I live in a spot that offers four of them, distinctly. Each has their appeal–winter just loses that appeal for me quicker than the other three.

Today, I’m springing forward–though the time change will screw up my body clock for days–and assuring myself this is the shift, this is the day we start to drift out of the white and into the green.

Nora

Hibernation

As you read this, keep in mind I’m posting this for Nora while staying in a hotel in Long Island where the winds are up and the temps are down. I like her anyway. ~Laura
One of the biggest perks of being a writer is working at home. Even bigger is working at home when the thermometer reads one frigid, bitter, ridiculous degree. While I always do a February signing, I try not to venture out otherwise during this short, nasty little month.
 
I love hibernating. I’m an unsocial, solitary creature by nature, and winter gives me the perfect excuse to say: No thanks, not going anywhere. Mostly, I can always come up with an excuse, but winter builds one in for me.
 
There was a time I worked every day–a little less on weekends, but every day. Now it’s mostly a five-day week, but depending on where I am in a book there may still be some writing on weekends.
 
So that’s not an excuse, but a reason not to venture out. Hey, working here! I pull that reason out of my hat regularly. People who know me don’t ask me to meet them for lunch or go out to dinner or attend an event. People who don’t know me get the reason or the excuse.
 
A lot of them are sincerely baffled. My husband gets it, but there was a time. Several winters ago he said: You haven’t been out of the house is like six weeks. My response was: And your point is?
 
I understand perfectly that many people enjoy socializing regularly. My husband’s one of them. He went out in this deep-freeze yesterday to visit some pals. I stayed home, did some basic domestic stuff, baked bread and made an excellent pot roast–and got a solid workout in.photo 2
We were both happy.
 
Today the wind’s howling and I’m not going to even look at the temperature. I won’t be writing, because after all the shifting of books and files and clothes and shoes, our One More Room is a pure disaster. It’s the last on my purge list, and it’s getting the Big Treatment today.photo 3
 
After that’s done, I’ll get my workout in, then it’s time to pick a book off my TBR pile, pour a glass of wine, cozy up in front of the fire and go into someone else’s world for a couple hours. I hope it’s warm there.
 
Wherever you are–in the frozen tundra or some sunny spot, try to do one thing this weekend that makes you happy.
Nora

Fun and Fabulous February

Mostly I tolerate February. It comes after January, which is something, and it’s short. You have to get through it to hit March, and once you get to March, spring’s coming right up. Plus spring training starts so baseball isn’t far off. 

This particular weekend in February was more than tolerable. It was indeed fun and fabulous starting for me on Friday evening when my son delivered my bestie Ruth Langan to the door. IMG_122620150207_112412 galaxy 387

Everything is fun and fabulous when Ruth’s around. 

I took most of Friday off to make lasagna, and a coffee cake for the mornings, one I know Ruth especially enjoys. Bubbly and hangout time for me and Ruth after dinner before we all tucked into bed to rest up for Saturday’s signing. 

On Saturday morning Laura arrives just after BW, Jason and Kat leave for TTP. A little girl consult over which jacket I want over my signing dress, and we’re off. 

It’s cold — one of the reasons I mostly tolerate February — but clear. And we’ve got a stellar signing line up. Ruth and I, with Laura’s and TTP Janeen’s help, hit the pre-sells and the virtual signing books. 

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Nora and Sarah Addison Allen

And I’m especially thrilled to meet Sarah Addison Allen, whose books I simply adore. 

Due to good weather and that stellar line up we have a four and a half hour signing — over 300 people came through the line! But I can honestly say I can’t remember ever having a happier group of authors, or a happier group of readers. The bookstore rang with voices and laughter all day –and the strong, cheerful energy sang everywhere. 

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Our Laura is only days into recovery from knee surgery, but she trooped through, taking photos, chatting with readers. And, as always TTP treats its authors right, she wanted to get breast implants afterwards so she contacted breast augmentation in utah which are the best. to Pizza in the backroom, and at the second quick break a bottle of champagne to share to keep that happy energy going. 

I sincerely want to thank all our authors for the happy, and all the readers who waited, stood in line, and remained cheerful. It was a really, really good day, on every level. 

It didn’t end there for me or Laura, for Ruth and our Kat. Home again where some pals waited — with food and drink. We topped that off with an amazing cake for Ruth. 

She’s hit 100. Publications, that is. Yes, that’s 100 books, and that kind of milestone deserves an amazing cake shared with pals who love you. Congratulations, my darling Ruthie! 

Afterward, we had a fun and fabulous time tearing through all those bags I’d purged from my closet. Nothing much more fun and fabulous than a group of good girlfriends stripping down, trying on clothes and shoes, finding things new to them that fit and look great. 

Nobody left empty-handed. 

This morning we had to say goodbye to Ruth–and Kat who took her to the airport on her own way home. And to Laura who headed the much shorter distance home. Ice that knee, Laura! 

Lots of good memories to keep (and far too much cake to tempt me). 

If you’re tolerating February, I hope you can do something fun and fabulous to make the cold days pass with some happy. I promise it’ll make spring come quicker.

Nora

Note from Laura: Thanks for all the well wishes yesterday.  I’ve been diligent about the icing since yesterday evening.  It was hard, but I did my best to let everyone else fetch and carry once the signing was over.  

SOUP-er Bowl Sunday

Note from Laura: even the strongest of friendships benefit from opposing points of view.  This is NOT how I will spend Super Bowl Sunday — but I know plenty of people whose plans concur with Nora’s.

I don’t watch football–not even the Big Game. A couple days ago my granddaughter quizzed me on basic rules and scoring, certain because I don’t watch it I wouldn’t know. It surprised her I did.

I know how the game works (mostly), but it’s not my game. I like baseball. I like baseball a whole bunch. And oddly enough, I like sports movies, and the sport doesn’t matter.

In any case, my husband watches football, and he’s been gearing up for today. Part of that was getting some heavy lifting done yesterday–for both of us. Moving a zillion books from one space to another is a major undertaking. I’ve had my copies in this area for decades–and I’ve written a bunch ‘o books. But the newly selected area will serve better–once we get it done.

shoes glorious shoesMy shoes now live on the shelves that used to hold my hardcovers–those that weren’t still in boxes (the books, that is). And this I deem good.

We worked until we both decided, jeez, that’s enough for the day. Then, most excellent timing wise, enjoyed a visit with our oldest grandson who didn’t want to go with the rest of his family on an outing. Fun for us.

But today is another day.

No hauling, so I got a workout in, then rolled up my sleeves. I promised my football guy ham and potato soup–which I’ll enjoy as well. We won’t enjoy it together. soup er bowlHe’ll be down in the family room shouting at the TV, and I expect to be reading–and maybe giving myself a facial. He will come up and excitedly tell me plays or the score–he’s got his annual bet going with his pal. I’ll make mouth noises, then go back to my book–or by that time it might be a movie.

Maybe I’ll pull out my DVD of The Natural–hey, spring training’s right around the corner.

But I’m starting my holiday Sunday early, with my book in the library. I expect to finish it, then hit my TBR pile. And that equals Super Day for me.

NFR tbr cozy read

For those of you–like Laura–who love football, enjoy the big game–and the commercials! For those–like me–who don’t, have fun with whatever you’re doing instead.

I’ve got a book calling my name.

Nora

 

 

Mondays Happen

I’ve decided not to feel guilty that my own purging hasn’t been as thorough and systematic as Nora’s.  In fact, I assuaged my guilt by deciding to read The Liar (out in April) and telling my husband I was working all weekend.  ~Laura

Sometimes I wonder how. But here we are, back at the start of the week. And it’s snowing again. It’s pretty from my office window–and I’ll dive back into the book shortly and won’t notice it anyway.monday snow monday snow 2

I’m hoping the week will be as productive as the weekend before it.

Purging moving right along. We tackled the Laundry Room–or as it has become: The Dumping Ground.

I made him watch a “how to” video about tidying up, I recalled this video after wseeing an ad for those domestic cleaners Bournemouth & Poole on TV. Just to get him on the right track.
I really hate that, but at least there’s satisfaction after spending a couple hours getting rid of stuff that has no business in there. Had to enlist BW on this one as most of the stuff that had no business in there ended up there by his hands. Why, I had to ask him, is this ancient computer monitor in here, under the shelves were I keep kitchen tools and such that are needed but used rarely?

He couldn’t say, but out it went, along with two old DVD players and other assorted electronics that had passed their prime. All will now be given away or recycled. And best, they’re out of my space.

Fortunately, once we started, he was as happy as I was to move things out, put the room back in order. And best of all, it’s done.

I tackled my office alone, and had to ask myself a variation of what I asked BW. What is this doing in here? More satisfaction as my office hasn’t been this clean in a year. So I’ll start this work week in a good space.

soup on sundayI made us both happy on Sunday and put together a big pot of tortilla soup. Nice, as we’ll have leftovers on this snowy Monday, and I can stay at my desk a bit longer without worrying about what’s for dinner.

Wherever you are, and whatever’s outside your window, I hope you had a satisfying weekend. And are ready for the start of a new week. I’m thinking of this Monday as a fresh page. Now let’s see what gets written on it.

Nora

Winter Weekend

Nora sends a weekend post card from her favorite place — Home.  ~Laura

This was a busy one around here. We’re repurposing two areas–shifting them, and since one is my sub-office where we’ve stored all my books, and the other is my closet, this entails much tubbing, boxing, purging, hauling. Both areas are up a set of stairs, so it involves a lot of climbing.

We’d earmarked this weekend for the major work here, but we took a pause on that Saturday as my oldest grandson had a basketball game.

Watching a bunch of 10 and 11-year old boys race around a court, dribbling, passing, shooting is enormous fun–and when one is yours, exhausting. And really exhilarating when your boy scores a basket and makes a key steal. Our guys won, which is great, but the very best was the big, beaming grin on Logan’s face when we saw him after the game.

At least we came home cheerful to face a solid three hours of work. I believe my Fitbit registered 50 sets of stairs by the end of it. Though my new closet space still needs some tweaking–ordered more shoe and boot boxes–it’s in pretty good shape. And the new storage area won’t be my problem!

Purging the closet will net my pals plenty. I’ve already sent out an SOS for us to get together soon and tear through the small mountain of bags we hauled out.

I did a little of that tweaking on Sunday, and will do more yet, but had set that cold winter day aside mostly for the kitchen. I finally got the Thanksgiving turkey carcass out of the freezer to make turkey noodle soup. BW’s particularly fond of pretzel bread, so I added that to the menu. When he came in from manly outdoor chores, I got another big, beaming grin when he saw the rolls cooling on the rack. Good deal all around.

turkey noodle soup pretzel rolls

Somewhere between chopping vegetables for the soup and punching down dough, my granddaughter popped in. She’s still afraid to change her own earrings (we’ll work on this) and has decided I’m the only one who can do it. So we did that–and I bought a load of Girl Scout cookies from her. That netted me one more happy face for my weekend.

The closet shift has delayed my full-house purge, but I hit the utility closet while I was chained to the kitchen, so can now check my kitchen off the purge and organize list.

With BW mired in football, I had myself a nice bowl of soup, some quiet and a book to end the weekend.

Today, after all that hauling and climbing, I’m looking forward to sitting on my butt and writing. I hope you all had a weekend with some happy faces, and can do what makes you smile through the week.

Nora