Montana – Day 8

Let me start with the end of Day Seven, the night sky and meteors. It’s chilly, so requires a little bundling up. We have a picnic table in a field which strikes as the perfect spot to try to catch the show. We make our way along the narrow path with the aid of cell phone flashlights.

It’s really dark—no moon which will only help.

Meteors aside, the sky is just breathtaking. Crisp, clear, loaded with stars. A huge black canvas studded with lights. We settle down, and whoosh—a streak of light with a shimmering tail. I’ve never seen a meteor that big, bright. Here and gone in a blink, but it made itself known.

I’m thrilled.

We can spot satellites, and far below, the red blink of a plane or two. Not sure I’d want to up there with all the traffic!

We see another, another, quick blinks and streaks of light. It’s pretty damn cool to sit in a field in Montana and watch a meteor shower, and one that adds those snaps and slips of light in a star-bright sky where you can pick out constellations like a drawing in a book.

We end it with another big one, like a celestial bookend.

A spectacular end to the day.

In the morning, I squeeze in a short workout as we’re heading to the airport to rent a car. We’ve got lists, and our walking shoes.

Mike drives us to the airport, and fills the time entertaining us with stories (he thinks the clack-click-cluck we heard might have been a woodchuck.) He has anecdotes and stories (annoyed raccoons, sneaky bears, huckleberry picking), answers questions and makes the ride go smooth.

And it turns out he was once a smokejumper, a Zullie. I’m fascinated, so more stories. Kat actually found a copy of Chasing Fire in the airport gift shop, so I’m going to sign it and get it to him.

We get the car—and prep for Missoula shopping with that hit on the airport gift shop.

Downtown Missoula/BW

Once we get into town, we hunt for a parking garage, and end up finding the same one we used when we visited before. There’s a stone statue of a cat—a big one. We’d taken a picture there before, so do again.

In Missoula, on a cat, with a Kat (please note the disparity in outerwear)
Commentary by Laura/Photo by Kat

Then we’re off.

Kat and I are very pleased to find the same shop where I scooped up lots of Christmas gifts (and an amazing bag for me) last time. It only takes a minute to see I’m going to have some fine luck again this trip.

I love having Kat so I can ask: Do these earrings or pendant or whatever look like Girl Pal? If not, maybe someone else, or a bull’s eye right off.

A good long time in the store, but before I’m done I’ve got every single Girl Pal a Christmas gift from Montana. The shopkeeper seemed both impressed and a little anxious. LOL. He boxed them all up—I love buying baubles as they don’t take up much luggage space. Plus, shiny!

Gifts (I think mine is the third from the top, middle stack)
Guess by Laura/Photo by NR

And I, of course, bought myself a pair of earrings for being such a good pal! Plus!! They had gorgeous wooden spoons. I can’t resist a good, attractive wooden spoon. Now I have two from Missoula.

Onto another shop with more fun to find. A tea shop where Kat finds gifts for family. In another BW and I both spot this metal happy sun face. We’ll find a tree branch to hang it on at home.

Pottery/Kat

We find another jigsaw puzzle—so there’s future fun. Souvenirs, A pair of adorable baby booties—and a tiny little pair of blue moccasins. Nana can’t resist.

A nana can’t help herself.
(Please note I wrote this caption four hours before the blog arrived.)
Caption & commentary by Laura/Photo by NR

We head over to Biga Pizza, get on the wait list as they’re slammed. There’s a thrift/free trade/rock/jewelry shop next door.

We should be able to pass our wait time in there.

Kat digs through tumbling stones for candidates for jewelry making, and finds herself a little treasure trove—and a very knowledgeable sales woman.

Rock notes/Kat

I find a cool rock for Colt—who shares my interesting in stones—and another pair of earrings.

The weather’s perfect, I think. Warm, but not hot (for me), a little breezy. And Missoula’s a fun town with interesting buildings, fun shops, lots of restaurants. And some interesting people watching.

I see a woman—probably in her 20s—parking a bike. I have never—seriously never—see anyone that skinny still alive. She’s a pretty girl but her body’s a skeleton with skin. She looks perfectly happy, but I want to tell her to eat something.

Lots of people in town as Pearl Jam’s got a concert. I see lots of PJ tee-shirts. And Kat and I watch a woman pull a decent-sized black poodle from a backpack. Not a tea-cup, but maybe a miniature. In a backpack.

Then we spot a gorgeous Great Dane who ignores the challenging barks of a much smaller mop-headed dog. The Dane has far too much dignity to react.

Now it’s pizza time. Jason and I split the House Pizza—tomato sauce, garlic oil, basil, sauce. Kat and BW get something loaded—called the Vesuvius.

We’re all very happy pizza eaters. The place is busy throughout, so lots of other happy pizza eaters around us. We can’t quite finish two 16” pizzas, so we have a little to bring home.

Pizza/j a-b

Since I’d mentioned this wonderful pizza shop in Come Sundown BW wanted to bring a copy to them. We’re lucky enough the owner’s in, so we have a little chat, give him the book.

We’d hoped to hit—after a walk—an ice cream place called The Big Dipper. Jason and I head out on foot, but the heat and the hours on feet have BW and Kat driving to meet us.

Then, when we come to the end of the road—before we hit the expected address—we realize we’ve walked the wrong way. Even ice cream can’t persuade us to head all the way back across town.

Getting out of Missoula proved a little problematic. Wrong turns, stops and starts, a lot of jerking. Unlike the smooth ride in where I hadn’t had a problem in the back seat, this kills me. I’m car sick before we’re out of town.

We need to stop for a few grocery items so I tell BW that I need to take the wheel once we stop. Driving should help.

We find a travel stop right off the highway that has everything we need—except a watermelon—and I’m already feeling a bit steadier before I slide back in. And fight to bring the seat up for someone without a yard of leg.

It takes about five minutes for me to decide I don’t like this car. Loose steering—and some feature that pops out alerts, even tugs the wheel if you touch the line on the road. Driving on a curvy road, occasionally narrow, means your wheel might brush the stupid line on the side of that road.

The car and I have a simmering battle most of the way. I like to think I won.

Back home to unload all our goodies, have a rest—we’ve been gone nearly 8 hours.

It’s cooled off, so I change sandals for boots, put on a jacket for dinner. Jason takes himself on the walk—and to return a ring found in our drive. It must be from the guy who returned our resort car (for some reason they picked it up while we were in Missoula.)

We drive over and stop for BW to takes pictures of our favorite steer—with a companion. They’ve decided to lie down in the grass. And there’s a sweet pony, gorgeous horses in the opposite field.

Playdate?/BW
Flowing locks/BW

I need to add I saw Kat’s horse painting in progress. Fabulous!

We have a nice, leisurely dinner on the porch, good food, good wine, good company before winding our way home again.

It’s pretty much time to turn in as we’re weary travelers tonight. And BW and Jason have to make an early start in the morning.

Crescent moon/BW

The guys are headed to Glacier National Park—Kat and I demurred—and left around 7. They’re driving in, then taking a four-hour tour. Kat and I will have our day at home.

I got my workout in, will likely write a couple hours. Since I finished the Spencer, I’ll pluck another book out of the pile. Or there’s that new puzzle.

It’s still cool as I write this—low 60s. I expect that will climb considerably before the day’s done.

Oh, and the resort kindly provided us with a watermelon. We have plans for that tomorrow or the next day.

Nora

#Food-a-rama is back!

In today’s #randomkatness:

Fruit + fork, a still life/Kat

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Update from Maryland Control Center:  Second surgery went off without a hitch yesterday.  I’m typing while wearing a pair of cheaters, but when I look over the top of my monitor I can see the other side of the room clear as a bell.  As my husband marveled, it’s the first time in 50 years I can say that.  Thanks again for all the good wishes.

Montana – Day 7

Going to try to do this quick and send tonight as tomorrow is so busy for us. And Laura will send this on when she can.

Temps in the high 70s rather than the high 90s or more makes for a very welcome change.

Got some laundry done while I wrote. Outside until the sun got too insistent, then switched to the bedroom desk. Until my Surface went a little wonky. Where’s my IT guy? Why’s he’s right in the other room!

Strange little blip, which after some head scratching the very handy Jason fixed up for me. But enough work anyway. I had a very nice session in 2061 NYC while Kat got a facial, BW fiddled with photos and Jason did foundation work.

Then I deliver some laundry to Kat and discover she’s painting a triple—three images from photos taken here, with the same backdrop of mountains. Our big-ass gorgeous longhorn steer, a lovely horse and a mighty buffalo. This is going to be so cool. She has three canvases going at once. I can’t wait to see the final result.

Jason and I toss a frozen pizza in the oven for lunch—BW’s doing a pb&j and Kat’s clearing up leftovers. It works!

I worked out, did laundry, wrote for a couple hours. Now I can settle in with my book and some champagne on the back porch where the breeze is lovely, the quiet perfect.

After awhile BW comes out to read, too. We hear this weird clicking, clacking—not like an insect—bigger than that. I have no idea what animal we had out there. Not a bird, different than a bird. Then we hear a honk I’d have sworn was a goose, but that doesn’t seem quite right either.

We give up and take a walk. Kat’s painting, Jason’s foundationing. We wander down the road, up a trail. BW’s legs are a LOT longer than mine. I’m eating his dust. Literally.

Trail markers (the paw prints concern me)
Caption & concern from Laura/photo by BW

Still, it’s a good hike, pretty views. And the woods here are so different from mine at home. These tall pines, the dusty ground, the sparse scrub and little purple wildflowers. A lot of what I think of as mini Christmas trees. Desktop size.

Today’s blooms/NR

We meet a woman and her son on the road who’re here for a couple of days, from New York. A long way to come for such a short visit.

Time to get ready for dinner. We give on-foot Jason a head start, then mosey (Kat speed) to the car and drive over. The air has really cleared—the mountains are crystal clear.

Is it a bug or is it a plane?/Kat

Lots of kids and families at the restaurant and yard today. A lot of kids on the stage platform outdoors—so dinner and a show as they play, cavort, climb, jump. I wander while we wait for our order and see these adorable cowgirl boots—kid size—kicked off on the grass. I hear a boy being dressed down for hitting his sister with a beanbag. I try not to snicker.

Waiting for her owner/NR

I get a little pasta from the kid buffet because mid-day pizza has done it for me. Such a pretty sky all spread out before us while we eat.

A long dinner tonight, mostly due to huge families and groups, but there’s that sky.

Day is done/NR

We’re home and taking a break before going back out to see the meteor shower shortly. I’ve changed into sweats and a warm hoodie because, boy, does it cool off at night. Low of 49 coming tonight.

We saw Mars burning red on the drive home, and we think Venus, possibly Jupiter, too—all so clear in the sky. So we have big hopes for the meteor event. We won’t be staying up till dawn—we have Missoula on tap for tomorrow, and we’re not night owls on this trip.

All in all, a fine, productive yet relaxing day. With the possibility of a celestial show in an hour.

Then it’s bedtime so we can gear up for a day of shopping.

We’ll be sending you good vibes, Laura!

Nora

In today’s #randomkatness:

Rope rest and a spot of tea/Kat

The Montana gang should be off to Missoula within the hour, I’m off on my own adventure.  Thanks for the good wishes everyone.  I’ll be back tomorrow to pick up where we left off. Because I, for one, can’t wait to hear if they saw meteors! ~Laura

Montana – Day 6

Kat’s cat puzzle caught me. So hard to walk away, especially from all those cute faces. I figure to write a little bit today to make up for it.

Though the temps didn’t hit triple digits again, they came close—and with a touch of humidity in the air, it actually felt hotter. Still, Jason and I braved the heat for our walk to lunch. Good soldiers are we.

We eat inside, because pretty damn hot—and enjoy the variety of the offered buffet. Barbecued brisket? Yes, I think I will.

A little overcast, which may add to that close feeling in the air, but Jason, a very good soldier, walks back. I’ve hit my 15k so a ride will work just fine.

Then there’s that puzzle, just waiting. Why not spend a hot afternoon inside with cute kitties?

Cats, a lot of them/NR

We have activities (sort of) planned for next week, so another lazy day works just fine, too. We’re going to do another paint session, all four of us, hit the trail of horseback (not our Baby Mama!), head into Missoula to shop. I may, at some point, take one of the hiking trails to see what I can see.

But we take a day for hanging, puzzling, sitting on the porch, and eating.

Drone class/BW
The cabin from BW’s drone/BW

And playing with baby names. Much fun for me! They now have the baby’s name choices down to about nine. I enjoy this little contest as I love all the names on their current list.

Have some fun looking up meanings for the options.

Time for dinner! Jason’s on foot again. We have to stop to take pictures of the God fingers in the sky.  

They have a Long Table event tonight, but we’re doing that next week. As a result, we nearly have the back deck of the restaurant to ourselves, and a sky with sculpted clouds, a breeze. BW and Kat try the chili—apparently it’s hot enough they ask for sour cream. Out of that, but yogurt does the trick. Jason goes for a wrap, I go for pasta.

Selfie Pano #2/photo by j a-b’s phone

It’s cooled off nicely, so it’s a very pleasant outdoor meal. And the sun’s setting, outlining the clouds in pink, adding some violet, sparks of gold. We add photography to the meal that Kat and I top off with huckleberry and vanilla ice cream. It’s like a huckleberry Dreamsickle!

[From Laura — three different takes on the view]

Kat
Nora
Jason

Our girl’s having some Braxton-Hicks. I think this is the first of them. Not painful, but not comfortable with that tight belly. Baby’s giving her a little preview.

So back home, so mama-to-be can rest.

Workout’s done, and I think I’ll write a little in a bit. Much, much cooler today with a high forecast at 79–that’s about a 20 degree drop. Maybe porch writing! Plus, meteor showers tonight! I hope our big sky stays clear enough for us to see them.

Missoula’s on tap for tomorrow, so I need to make a couple lists. Christmas present shopping, and some groceries. Another homey chore today—a load or two of laundry.

If that doesn’t fill the day, I’ll grab my book.

Nora

In today’s #randomkatness (sorry, there is no #food-a-rama — the sky took up everyone’s attention)

Rock +knots = #randomkatness
I said NO BUG photos (even under glass). Kat disagreed.
Distress from Laura/photo by Kat


Scheduling notes from the Maryland Control Center (aka Laura’s office): Vacations are all about no deadlines, little stress. Not so at home.  My second eye surgery is set for the usual time the blog shows up in my inbox.  So the update may be late on Monday or a two-fer on Tuesday.  Either way, you’ll get Day 7 and Day 8 as soon as I’m back up to speed.

Montana – Day 5

We get a hot one, but the heat takes its time to roll in. By lunchtime it’s pleasant enough still for us to scramble together our leftovers for an easy lunch on the back porch. Something for everyone, and especially nice since that blissful morning massage turned me into a relaxed noodle.

Kat’s doing another painting on her own in her room, to use for this year’s magnets and bookmarks. She’s researched the area where I’ve set next summer’s hardcover, and has created a beautiful image that reflects it.

Those of you who request the annual magnet this year are in for a treat. An original Kat!

BW has his drone, Jason has his coding. I’ve got my Spencer book.

We all find a good way to spend the heat of the day.

By early evening it’s hot but not oppressive, and we’re all up for heading over for dinner. Jason gets his walk in, but I’ve got 15k steps so I’m satisfied and ride.

We stop a few times as there are very photogenic horses waiting to pose.

Photo by BW
Photo by BW
Bison blending in/BW

We opt for outside as there’s a nice breeze—and as always that view. Since I’d taken it light at lunch, I figure I can handle another steak. The rest of the table goes for the lamb entree.

Everything is delicious, and Isabel, our server, adds to the whole event. I try the sparkling wine special at her suggestion, and that gets a solid thumb’s up.

While we wait for dinner, we wander out to take some pictures. I get to enjoy Jason and Kat setting up another echo image for that sweet baby bump. Adorable.

Belly and wheel, a still life/j a-b
Awwww/NR

This time Jason and I split the flight of sorbet—mango, blackberry, raspberry.

Time for a mid-post #foodarama:

Perfect.

The evening’s cool—it’s a solid temperature rise and fall daily, and we’re at the end of another relaxing day.

Time for puzzling! Kat’s brought cats. A cute, and again challenging puzzle with lots of cute cats, balls of yarn, a basket and so on.

The guys have already turned in by the time we call it, but we get a decent chunk done—including (as is my system) the edges.

Up a little later this morning, a lovely Saturday, and up to the loft to hit the workout routine. Some good cardio and core this morning, and a nice yoga session to stretch it all out again.

Kat has a massage shortly, then I guess we’ll see about lunch. We may need to squeeze that in as she has the dress rehearsal for her webinar.

I may write, I may read—we’ll see which mood strikes.

Nora

In today’s #randomkatness

Practicing peek-a-boo/Kat

Montana – Day 4

Activities!

I decided to spend a couple hours in NYC, circa 2061, and had a fine time. The lovely morning meant I could start out writing on the porch—so nice to sit in the fresh air, hear the wind surf through the pines. Even if murder is the order of the day.

Finished up inside at the bedroom desk once the sun got strong enough to glare on my screen.

And all done just in time to walk with Jason and BW to lunch—our mama-to-be drove. We detour to visit the horses, and the one drinking, close to the fence, gives the three of us a look.

Eve Dallas’ worst nightmare: they multiplied./BW

I’m not in the mood for a ride today, the look says, so bugger off.

He swishes his tail and walks away.

I fall for the grilled cheese again because why not go for comfort food?

It’s a gorgeous day, but going to get close to triple digits, so time, when we get back to close the windows, turn on the AC. A little time to unwind, then Kat and I have a big treat.

Competition/j a-b

Painting under the willow—huge, fabulous willow with lots of spreading shade—near the main resort. There are five of us at long tables with wood canvases, looking out at the pretty spectacular view. This is billed as abstract. Our instructor is Danielle, and sets us up with globs of oil paint on our pallets, and a little cup of oil to thin the paint as we go. We’re working with two brushes, two pallet knives (a new one for me).

My take is we’re to paint what we see, sort of sketching it out—long lines or curves or whatever—then filling it in. Apparently I saw brilliant fall as my colors ended up seriously bold.

I glance at Kat’s now and then, just shake my head. The girl has serious skills, and there’s no abstract there. What she has is a soft, soothing, yet dramatic rendition of the landscape—the hills, fields, sky, clouds—she even adds in a couple horses some clumps of wildflowers.

Kat’s painting/NR

Danielle claims mine is Van Gogh-esque. Bless her sweet heart. Believe me, I won’t be cutting off an ear any time soon.

Nora’s painting/NR

It’s great fun, and entertaining to see how everyone’s turns out so different. Danielle works with us, makes suggestions (not so much with Kat, as why bother?) I admire the meadow of flowers in the painting on Kat’s other side, and Danielle gives me some pointers on how and where to make some of my own.

I like it!

It’s a terrific way to spend a couple hours. They’ll ship our paintings when they dry—as oil takes time unlike the acrylics I’ve used in Paint and Sips.

I think mine may dry in a year or two as I had a lot of fun with the pallet knives.

Kat and I agree we’d absolutely do this again, and try to convince the guys to try it with us.

Back we go, a little break before it’s time to head back over for dinner.

And we spy our class paintings inside a room—if you stand well back from mine, it’s not bad!

Art from a distance/NR

We have dinner in a cabana—pasta and a salad for me, and it’s great. I don’t have much room for dessert, but ask for the raspberry sorbet, thinking I’ll get one scoop. I get three, so that goes around the table.

We’re a pretty jolly group, and as the evening cools we head back. That sky, that sunset—just as amazing as a painting itself. Dusky blue rising up to strong pink that fades into softer blue, all spreading a gilded light over peaks and fields.

We decide to end our evening with a game of Hearts. Kat’s very canny with this game, and runs them before the rest of us can blink. I got a run in later on, but it’s not enough to catch her. BW and Jason jockey for last place. Then, following our house rules, BW (very quietly) takes four hearts to hit 100 on the nose, and goes back to zero to win.

We’ll be keeping our eye on him next match.

I’m up early to workout as BW, Jason and I all have massages booked for ten. Kat’s getting her pre-natal massage Saturday. Jason and I walk—close to a mile, I guess—on a cool, pretty morning.

I have Natalia—and we actually recognize each other from our visit here three years ago. She gives me a blissful hot stone massage that vanquishes even the thought of a kink.

A damn good way to spend a morning.

I suspect we’ll stay in for lunch as we have leftovers—and it’s hitting up to 104 today. Dry heat it may be, but 104 is freaking hot!

I think I’ll settle down with a book, a glass of wine, and let the afternoon heat roll by.

Flower portrait/NR

Nora

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#Food-a-rama:

And in today’s #randomkatness (not sure if this is Kat’s remedy or the resort’s but she took the photo — and Jason supplied the description):

Natural bug protection: cloves and lemon. Kat

Montana – Day 3

Another pretty day with no real plans makes a nice vacation.

Jason’s doing code on his computer, Kat and I are puzzling, and BW is trying out the new drone I got him for his birthday. Fun for all.

Time for lunch so a walk for me and Jason. It’s warm enough I wear sturdy sandals—but do so without thinking of the dusty road or tiny little stones. Still, you kick the stones out and all’s well again.

Hoofprints on the trail. Photo by j a-b.

There’s a huge buffet at lunch—so many choices. A lot for somebody like me who usually dines on Cheez-Its* for lunch at the keyboard. Some salad, a big hunk of fried chicken, some fries. I can manage the salad and about half the rest. It’s so nice to eat outside, with the view, the breeze—and a little sparkle to top it off.

It’s an easy, lazy meal—with Jason walking back toward his 12k goal for the day. (I’ve already passed that :))

More puzzling, BW at the living room desk reviewing the tutorials on his new drone. I decide to sit outside for awhile, with more sparkle and email.

I smell gas. I’d smelled it the day before, but we couldn’t find the source, and it went away. But catching that smell two days running? Time to call and report it.

A couple of guys are here in minutes, and I leave them to Jason. I can hear them outside, checking this, checking that. Then I hear male groans and laughter.

The gas smell turns out to be a dead mouse under the cushion of one of the porch chairs. Very glad Jason was in charge! Dead mouse and cushion are taken away.

The mystery is: Did the mouse crawl under there to die, or did some predator tuck it there, thinking to come back for it later?

Either way? Eeww!

I have to say the staff here is everything you could want. Friendly, efficient, informative. Kat needed a folding table for a webinar she’s doing for the foundation—and they brought one (BIG) lickety split. I had trouble with the DVD player, and they’re here dealing with it quick and easy.

At meals, the waitstaff is just lovely, and everyone looks happy. It really adds to the vacation mood.

Kat and I puzzle some more—we’re close to done on this very challenging and really pretty project. But it’s time for dinner.

Puzzlers. Photo by BW

Kat decides she’ll attempt the walk with Jason—and since at 30 weeks, she moves slow, they leave well before us.

Third trimester belly watch — the point when your body resembles the landscape.**
Photo by Kat.

We’re at one of the cabanas tonight in The Yard, with that magnificent view. There’s a little boy, probably 18-20 months, and his big sister—maybe five. He’s trailing her, and she’d stop, look back and make him bust out with that fabulous toddler gut laugh.

Corn hole as far as the eye can see. Photo by j a-b.

Over and over again.

Kat and Jason make it shortly after we arrive.

J & K 4 evah!
Photo by NR

I don’t want a big meal—had that at lunch. Not after red meat. I get the kids’ menu, and it’s perfect. Pizza!*** A little green salad to be a good girl.

It’s good pizza, and really filling. They need to box up half to take home. Hey, breakfast!

The first (of MANY) artistic, selfie pano.
Photo by j a-b’s phone.

It’s already dusk—and really cool by the time we finished. Cool enough I go out for the hoodie Jason left in the car—known on this trip as The Car Hoodie.

It’s too late for the walk back, so we all drive—and the sky is glorious. Red and pink spread over the mountains with that dusky blue above. And all the fields charmed by that softening light.

Time to finish our puzzle, so satisfying. And as this one came with a quiz/hidden object deal we’re into that. Jason helps out here. You’re looking for the name of an artist—we’ve determined Raphael by the clues. And once you answer the questions you’re looking for things like keys, an eight, a cardinal, a turtle and so on.

We find some fairly easily, but are defeated by others.

Bedtime—but a few minutes for me outside. We’re not in Texas, but the stars at night are big and bright.

Up for my morning routine. Check in with the world, up to the loft for a workout—which I capped off today with a really lovely yoga session.

BW and Kat head over for breakfast while I’m in the loft, return just about yoga time. When yoga’s done, Kat calls up she’s found the other objects in the puzzle.

And she has, though God knows how she found that damn turtle!

BW’s drone practicing. I think Jason might still be asleep. I’m going to clean up, have some cold caffeine and think about what I’ll do with the rest of the morning.

Nora

#foodarama

In today’s #randomkatness:

The highest form of #randomkatness. A western still life with materials at hand by Kat.

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* This is true.  I’ve seen the evidence. 
** A close runner up for today’s #randomkatness

*** Nailed it! I get the photos before the copy and called this as Nora’s dinner.
Laura

Montana – Day 2

A doing pretty much nothing day—perfect for the first full day of vacation.

Gorgeous weather—cool mornings and evenings, HOT afternoons, clear skies and a whole lot of quiet.

Montana Sky (c’mon, you know I had to do it)
Caption by Laura/photo by j a-b

Jason and I walked over to meet Kat and BW for lunch—a good, long walk down a dusty path where horses had obviously been. You can see for what seems miles, fields of that western green, clumps of dusty green sage, then we hit the center where they keep the horses. So many pretty, pretty horses, cropping the fields, or hanging out in paddocks.

Horses/photo by j a-b

And onto the restaurant where both Kat and I get the grilled cheese. It needs a much less humble name. Thick slices of garlic toasted sourdough bread with (my choice) of melty sharp cheddar. I can manage half of mine—it’s huge!—BW has part of the second half. And since it’s vacation, I’ll have a huckleberry sparkle with that.

Stuffed, Jason and I walk to the shops where BW and Kat have driven as BW wants a bike. They have poker playing raccoons, good for a smile (Not actual raccoons), and I need a belt. Spot a Jason shirt—it just says Jason, so get the shirt, a nice belt. BW rides his bike back, Kat and I drive, Jason walks.

I think at night they come alive.  We need follow up photos of the cards.
Caption by Laura/photo by j a-b

Then it’s a fine time to sit out and read awhile, have a bat nap to go with it.

We’re going to the Tuesday barbecue, so take our time getting cleaned up. I think about walking, but hey, I already have 20k steps for the day. I leaving the walking to Jason.

In what they call The Yard, the have tables set up, a pavilion holding tons of food. Lots of salads, lots of sides, herb roasted chicken, pulled pork, beef, taco makings. Nobody’s going to go hungry.

We tuck in very well, and enjoy the live music—and the side yard full of kids getting pony rides, playing soccer, tether ball, playing corn hole, getting a lesson on roping from a cowboy who’s so delightful with the kids. So dinner and a show.

It’s a seriously beautiful evening—warm, but not oppressing, a lovely breeze, a soft blue sky.

There’s a family at a table near us, and the youngest is a little girl of about three—blonde, a ribbon in her hair. She’s having the best time.

And as it’s BW’s birthday, the waitress brings over a couple scoops of huckleberry (what else?) ice cream with a little candle.

Birthday boy!  Photo by j a-b

Mostly our family has a deal—no happy birthday stuff in public, but we break the rule—keep it low key. But apparently Happy Birthday is the little girl’s favorite song. She’s delighted.

At one point I started to walk down some steps leading to the side yard, and they fired a starter pistol. The kid races behind me: Fireworks! She’s sure that’s what the little crack meant. I say, Fireworks? And she grabs my hand, pulls me down the steps, eager to share her joy. She points to the sky, instructs me to watch, and when no fireworks appear, she’s not the least concerned. Time to run back and have fun with something else.

I found her utterly charming.

Jason opts to walk back—good for him—and we drive along, watching the sun—a hot red ball—sink over the western peaks. Cattle, horses, buffalo—a white-tail deer. I decide to enjoy the romp of the deer as she’s not the one who ate my hostas.

Allowable deer. Photo by NR

And there are longhorns—gorgeous, big, in shades that make me think of Appolusas. We want a picture of the big guy, so BW gets out and obliges—and catches one of the grazing buffalo in the background.

Bull with bison, a still life. 
Photo by BW.

We’re told the sky will be loaded with stars tonight, and Mars will be visible. It’s just dusk when we settle in, so Kat and I decide to start a puzzle. BW puts on some music, and we hang very well until dark.

It takes awhile for those stars to light up, and our view is too obscured by trees to show us Mars. But once that sky lights, it’s damn impressive.

We get a good start on the puzzle before bedtime.

I hit vacation routine in the morning, catch up on the world, then head up to the loft for my workout. The DVD player gives me a little trouble, but that finally resolves. A solid workout gives me 10k steps and a good upper body session with my traveling resistance bands. A stretch, and done.

A long, hot shower, and I’m ready to face whatever the day brings. It’s cool enough this morning for a hoodie as I write this on the back porch. I may go in, do some puzzle, grab my book, take a walk.

I think I’ll write a little tomorrow because it’s starting to tug, but another day of doing pretty much nothing sounds good first.

Nora

I’m adding a new section this year: Food-a-rama to showcase different parts of meals.  Unless Nora specifically describes something (like the huckleberry sparkle) I’ll keep the photos here.  You know, we could have a drinking game: when you spot a huckleberry, take a shot! Laura

And now, what you’ve all waited for: today’s #randomkatness:

Before she was pregnant and switched to a smaller size, Kat could have built this with the contents of her cross body bag.  Truth!
Photo by Kat.

Montana – Day 1 (with short recap)

Note from Laura:  She’s back — ok technically, she’s away — and you’ll hear from Nora for most of the rest of August.  But first a recap in her words:

It’s been awhile since I’ve been able to take a nice chunk of time to write a blog. The summer’s been crammed. Actually starting in the spring with my post-Derby cold from hell, then the stupid tooth deal. And travel (fun stuff) from Kat’s birthday spree, Kayla’s NYC trip, two signings, the reader brunch, then onto The Greenbrier.

Oh, and I squeezed our big annual summer party in there—with lots of help from BW and Jason doing the manly set up, to Kat and Laura and Kayla working with me in the kitchen.

All that life and travel and so on equals a lot of fractured writing time. My goal—to finish next year’s summer hardcover before our summer vacation meant focusing in at every available opportunity, and that left no time for blogging.

The Greenbrier worked its magic, and in addition to a full day’s shoot for St. Martin’s, I carved out writing time, and finished that sucker.

So up until now, summer has been a series of interruptions, work, fun with family—oh yeah, we had our family week at the spa in there, too. Gardening.

Let me add one thing about gardening. The deer are now my sworn enemy. No matter how often BW sprayed, the monsoon rains of July countered the repellent. I’ve never had so much eaten away in all my pretties.

They won this year’s battle, but we will retrench and fight the good fight again next year.

And now I can report on our first day of vacation where I’ll only write when the spirit moves, where I intend to enjoy the gorgeous scenery, the time to simply vacate, and appreciate watching Jason and Kat slide through this couple weeks of her third trimester.

We left early yesterday morning, had a long but uneventful flight. The 40 minutes or so from the airport breezed by with Papa John (not the pizza guy) at the wheel. Clear skies as opposed to the haze from wildfires we experienced last time. Those stunning mountains, the wide fields, the curl of the river.

Since we arrived early, we had a drink, a snack, breathed out. Kat and I walked down to the new, bigger shop. We will surely go back, but even on this brief foray, I found a gorgeous bag (I’m so weak! But it was on sale!) And Kat this amazing sort of Hamilton-esque waist coat that she can wear open now with her beautiful bump, and closed post beautiful baby.

The weather’s hot—really hot and really dry, which is just fine by me.

Time to head to our cabin, unpack, settle in, have a nice drink while sitting in a rocking chair on the porch, just looking at sky and trees and mountains. Birds singing, squirrels chittering.

BW on the cabin porch/photo by NR

I hope to do some hiking while we’re here, and a lot more porch sitting, maybe get a massage, do some outdoor yoga. And it’s nice, really nice, to be able to just take each day as it comes. No I Have To Dos on this break.

Before we know it it’s dinner time, so we clean ourselves up, head over to the restaurant. It’s lovely to eat outside, and the evening’s cooled off to very, very pleasant. Since it’s my first day in Montana I order a steak—and mmm-boy, yum. I also order what the waitress and I decide to call a Huckleberry Sparkle. A glass of champagne with pretty huckleberries. There’s never a lack of huckleberries around here.

It’s all just lovely, and a very nice end to a long travel day. We get home just about the time the sun’s going down and setting those peaks to the west on fire.

This morning, I’m up early, check in on what’s happening in the world, then head up to the loft for my workout. Later, my focus might be a book somebody else sweated over, or doing a jigsaw puzzle with Kat, maybe taking that walk.

We’ll just see how it goes.

Nora

More from Laura:  if you’re new to the travelogues, here’s the key to the initials in the photo credits:
NR — Nora (obvs)
BW — Nora’s husband Bruce Wilder
JAB — Nora’s son Jason
KP — The blooming Kat
For those who sent good wishes, my left eye is done — surgeon is pleased and I can see! Will spend the rest of the week as the Dread Pirate Laura because I have to wear a patch over the right eye until it’s fixed next week. Aaaaargh.

The quiet is nearly over

Hello from The Greenbrier!  This is your friendly Cranky Publicist checking in to assure you all that Nora is alive and well — just finishing a book.

Here she is! Photo by LMR

Last summer I noticed moving the “big” book (i.e., Come Sundown, Shelter in Place) from spring to summer meant instead of finishing before summer travel, Nora’s fitting in the finish while traveling. (Remember, she likes to be a year ahead of a release date.)

So what’s new?  Well it was my birthday last week.  And I’m having cataract surgery next month…

What’s that? You want to know about Nora?

Fine.

The theme of Nora’s summer is Stop then Go.

After the Kayla’s trip to NYC,  Nora had about a week of work before heading off on the annual family trip to the spa.  One highlight was group painting night.  Fascinating to see how everyone interpreted the picture, isn’t it?

Post-spa, Nora had four days of work before her and BW’s annual summer barbeque.  I drove up the day before to serve as line cook and pot washer.    I shelled 3 dozen hard-boiled eggs for deviled eggs, while Kayla made the trifle.

Nora?  Oh she was there too.

A girl and her trifle. Photo by LMR
Trifle closeup. Photo by LMR

Last week, Nora put in another solid four days on the book before she had to break to pack for our week at Greenbrier.  Normally it’s an easy pack but she spent one day of the week shooting video for St. Martin’s Press, so she had to come up with wardrobe for Nora and for JD.  She sacrificed a work day because the weekend was devoted to the Turn the Page Anniversary signing.

In another nod to classic writing at the TTP anniversary signing,  Barbara Delinskey and Linda Howard visited the store and many happy readers.

Classic and classy: Linda Howard, Nora, Barbara Delinskey

You’ll see my reaction to Linda here: 

We met sisters and cousins and moms thrilled to be together.  Groups of sisters of the heart traveled to Maryland, including this Drink Therapy group from Chicago.

Someone forgot her shirt, but remembered the wine!

Despite rain setting in halfway through, the energy remained upbeat and excited for the entire 4 hours.

The next day was the Fall Into the Story brunch at Vesta.  Nora picked five readers to sit at her table from the bag of raffle tickets then everyone else filled in spaces. I stopped at all the tables to chat, then came back with Nora for more chat and photos.

Nora and Nora.

The brunch culminates in a raffle of baskets from Nora, Turn the Page, Gifts Inn BoonsBoro and Inn BoonsBoro. This year, the raffle raised over $1300 for Set The Stage – a non profit chosen by the Nora Roberts Foundation.

And then we came to The Greenbrier.

Evening sky over The Greenbrier. Photo by LMR

Yesterday’s shoot went very smoothly.  I can’t show much but these are  snaps I put on Instagram.

Nora prep. Photo by LMR
Post JD Robb prep. Photo by LMR

After Nora finished, we did a quick Facebook Live, then meandered out to watch the Houston Texans arrive for training camp.  Nora could not care less about football, but she came along for the walk.  Then we paused for a selfie in front of the cameras set up for a press conference with the Texans GM, and the NFL Networks James Palmer joined the snap.

James Palmer, JoAnn, Nora, Laura and Sarah

The rest of the week, Nora will go through the final draft of the July 2019 book in the mornings, I’ll catch up with my own work and then we’re off to hang out with our friends.

Once back and after Kayla’s Sweet 16 party, Nora has a solid week of work before she, Bruce, Jason and Kat set off for Montana.  Travelogues will again be the order of the day for a couple of weeks next month.  Though as I mentioned above and on Facebook Live, I’m having cataract surgery on both eyes, a week apart in August.  There may be a delay or two because of recovery, but I plan to keep things moving smoothly while Nora’s in Montana.

And that’s all the Nora updates fit to print.

One last order of business:  Five lucky readers will win an advance reader copy of Leverage in Death at the end of St. Martin’s Press new sweepstakes. All the details here:  Leverage in Death ARC sweepstakes.

The abbreviated rules of the contest: No purchase necessary. Open only to legal residents of the 50 United States and D.C. who are age 18 or older and of the legal age of majority. Entry period begins at 12:00 a.m. Eastern Time (ET) on July 16, 2018 and ends at 11:59 p.m. ET on July 29, 2018. Void where prohibited. For full Official Rules, visit https://read.macmillan.com/promo/leverageindeatharcsweeps18. Sponsored by St. Martin’s Press, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010.

Laura

Notes from the Cranky Publicist desk

Time to share some social media updates!  We’ve had two cover reveal videos on Facebook  recently. (The first is also on the  St. Martin’s Press You Tube channel.)

The first for Of Blood & Bone, book 2 in the Chronicles of The One, out December 4.

 

 

You can pre-order Of Blood & Bone at your favorite retailer now:

Turn the Page: http://bit.ly/2FmYnoZ

 

Then, in early 2019, there’s Connections in Death — #48 in the series —  out February 5.

 

Again, you can pre-order everywhere now.

Turn the Page: http://bit.ly/2xcrzjq
Amazon: https://amzn.to/2IICyCB
Kindle: https://amzn.to/2xb4Owf
BN: http://bit.ly/2IMTzvA
Nook: http://bit.ly/2×93078
IndieBound: http://bit.ly/2IMbaUg
Kobo: http://bit.ly/2xjlu55
iBooks: https://apple.co/2x9S6Ov
Google Play: http://bit.ly/2xa3rOl

Nora and JD are on Instagram! OK, we’ll be completely transparent here:  I’m posting on the Instagram pages.  Some people prefer to bypass Facebook but like IG for the photos.  Not all the content will repeat on all social media but I think it could be fun to follow. Search for Nora Roberts  (@norarobertsauthor) and JD Robb (@jdrobbauthor).

Finally, some #randomkatness (and a repeat photo).  Nora mentioned Kat’s design for the baby blanket in the Girls in the City post, right?  Well not only is she designing it to honor the family that came before the baby, but it’s REVERSIBLE like this one she made for her niece.    My mind is completely blown.

Hope you all have a good weekend.
Laura

The official blog for Nora Roberts and J.D. Robb readers