All posts by Laura

Laura is Nora Roberts' personal publicist. She can be found on the Nora Roberts and JD Robb Official Fan Pages on Facebook as well as on Instagram.

Montana – Day 7

We end our first week with a cold rainy day, but we expected it. We girls have our glorious massages booked and head over to Spa Town in that steady rain.

And into our warm individual tents. The table’s heated—ahhh. And that steady rain’s a calming kind of music now. My tech has good, strong hands, and knows what to do with them. Kinks and knots begin to melt. I drift in that perfect plane between sleep and wake, just float there for ninety glorious minutes.

Could’ve stayed right there for the rest of the day.

But home we head, three relaxed girls.

Griffin’s thrilled to see his mom, even when after some play time she convinces him to take a late—for him—nap. He’d slept in a bit this morning as he decided the span between 3 and 5 a.m. made the perfect time to be awake.

Kayla takes a lie-down herself, and I decide to squeeze a little work time in.

We’re cooking tonight, and I expect it to present a challenging experience. I’ve never cooked on a hot plate before in my life. We’re doing a Mediterranean dish with pasta, broccoli and pasta. Jason—as everyone’s off having quiet time—acts as sous chef.

The cooking space. Photo by j a-b

He cleans off a space on the little counter for the hot plate, and shows me how to turn the thing on—a two burner job. While I boil water—takes a while!—I have the new experiences of mincing the garlic Jason’s helped me peel with a steak knife. It’s what we’ve got. It works—but again takes awhile.

Kayla’s up by now and receiving instructions.

Water’s finally boiling—put the pasta on.

Heat oil in the big pot for the garlic (no onions as Kayla dislikes) then some of the spices—this dish has a kick so we’ll save out some of the pasta and broccoli for Griffin.

Jason mics the broccoli we forgot to defrost, opens and rinses the beans.

Broccili and beans. Photo by j a-b

Starting to smell good in here!

Add the broccoli to the pot—this will take a bit of awhile, too, before it’s time to add the beans. I’m now—with the steak knife—trying to chop the fresh parsley that froze in the fridge drawer. Interesting work.

Nearly done. Photo by Nora

Add the pasta, some of the pasta water reserved from that pot, the parsley, some grated Parm—more spices. It smells damn good in here! And others come out of their quiet spots to say so.

Griffin has his butter noodles and broccoli, and the rest bowls of spicy.

Finished! Photo by Nora

Success! A tasty hot plate meal.

I have now cooked a meal on a two-burner hot plate.

Clean up—not by the chefs!—and time for a bath for Griffin.

Excuse me? Photo by Kat

Kayla and I hit the puzzle while BW settles down to work on photos. We stick with it—we’re pretty close—but I didn’t choose an easy one. Bath time must be over as the giggles have stopped. The house gets quiet—just music from BW’s Bluetooth speaker, and our more than occasional mutters re puzzle.

The spread. Photo by BW
One of many views. Photo by BW

That should go there! Why doesn’t that go there? Where is this stupid piece? Where does this equally stupid piece fit?

Closer and closer—and Kayla insists this one piece she’s hunted and hunted for is missing. Piece by piece, we crawl to the finish line.

Hard work. Photo by BW

And indeed that one piece isn’t on the table. Don’t panic! Look on the floor.

And there, with a sound of triumph, Kayla finds the last piece.

And DONE.

Now I want candy. Comment by Laura, photo by BW

Flushed with our accomplishment, we head to bed.

Woke to a cold 32 degrees, and a lovely mist rolling over the far field. The day promises to warm considerably—thank GOD!  By the time I work out, and Jason and Griffin have their morning routine, it’s about 50. That right there’s warmer than it got yesterday.

The Breakfast Crew is off, and Kat and Griffin are watching one of Griffin’s shows/segments on the IPad. He is VERY involved. I hear a resounding YAY!! So something worked out well.

He gets a trip to the Apothecary today for a kiddie session—they make slime. What could be more fun?

Sunny and bright now, and supposed to stay that way.

It’ll be nice to grab some outdoor time today after a cozy indoor day.

Nora


Meanwhile, from the Travelogue Editorial Desk: Kat captures Griffin verbalizing all Laura’s feelings when dealing with repetitive questions and silly comments. Punctuated by the nose to sleeve.

And, since turnabout is fair play. It’s not always sunny at the beach office.

Curtains of rain. Photo by Laura

Montana – Day 6

So pretty for about half the day, then clouds and cool mostly. So we set up to paint inside. Ashley, our instructor and guide has painted a couple of choices, and we go with lovely Montana landscape.

Let the fun begin.

Canvases, paints, brushes. Jason takes Griffin duty first—early nap so the boy’s up—and gets a late start, but he gets to join in.

Resting up for art class. Photo by Kat

I avoid looking at Kat’s because . . . Kat.

Lots of color to play with as we start—as instructed—with the sky and work our way down. I love that everyone’s interpretation’s different.

Artists at work. Photo by BW
A different view. Photo by BW

Ashley goes around the table, complementing and/or answering questions, then I hear her Oh Wow! She’s steps behind Kat.

I decide, what the hell, and round the table, too. It’s such fun to see what everyone does with the same scene. And yes, Kat’s an Oh Wow.

She’s added Buffalo (still to be detailed when Griffin is napping) and made it a winter scene.

Then Ashley brings out another canvas and gives Griffin paints and brushes.

He goes for it!

Maman c’est comme ça que tu peins! (I imagined him thinking in French – Laura).

A fun, artistic afternoon on a breezy day. And we all have our personal souvenirs of Montana.

The gallery. Top row: Kayla, Bruce; middle row: Jason, Nora; bottom: Kat, Griffin. Photo by Nora.

It gets cloudier, and rain’s off and on. Still good enough for some playtime in the tent.

In a theater family, it’s never too early to learn cues and trust falls. Video by Kat

All but BW decide to stay in, order room service and forgo tonight’s barbecue. We also have frozen pizza, and the toaster oven’s just big enough.

Sadly, we discover one of the baby birds—didn’t know they’d hatched—has been kicked out of or fallen out of the nest. And we discover it far too late to attempt a return. I hope the rest fare better.

We eat happily at home in our Montana ranch.

After dinner I play a little gin rummy with Kayla while Griffin begins his night time/bedtime ritual.  Jason finally comes down with the baby monitor as Kat tries to convince the boy to sleep.

Now we have four, and play Hearts.

This turns into a marathon, roller coaster of a game. Kayla way in the lead, BW losing steadily, Jason and I neck-in-neck between. Kayla slips, Jason sneaks by her, I sneak by Jason, back and forth.

Kayla runs them! Back in the lead.

Then BW cagily does math, plays it right and hits 100 on the nose. Hit 100 by our house rules, go back to zero.

The game turns around! BW way in the lead the other’s battling for second. Up, down. I should add Kat comes down during all this battling, and that besides card sharking we have a ridiculous amount of laughs.

We’re hitting BW hard, though he still holds a commanding lead.

And then, out of the dark, Jason—apparently inadvertently—hits 100.

Back to zero, and I fall over the edge.

Game over. Jason is The King Of Hearts for the evening.

Then we all fall into bed.

Workout done on this cold, cloudy day. This is forecast to be the coolest, wettest day of our stay, so we  plan to cook a big vegetarian meal for dinner. (And there’s frozen pizza!)

We’ll start on that after Kat, Kayla and I have our massages at Spa Town.

Sounds like a very fine way to spend a day where they’re calling for a high of around 48.

That ain’t June to this East Coast Girl!

Nora


The essence of #RandomKatness

Update from The Travelogue Editorial Desk: Today’s #randomkatness is a puzzle. A five leaf clover? Did Kat get a maniture? Do the palettes match the greens? There’s no explanation so I leave it up to you.

And just between us – since we’re friends and all? I’m working at the beach office and the weather is just fine.

Laura

Montana – Day 5

We’re gifted with a perfectly beautiful day. Bold blue skies, light breeze, low 70s. There’s another bush between the lilacs, and I think—maybe—white lilac. Not sure, and the blooms are too high and on the other side of the fence so I can’t do the sniff test.

But pretty.

High white blooms. Photo by Nora.

Lots of play time outside for the boy, in the tent, out of the tent with bubbles and his love of pouring water and dropping rocks into the tub. Pour more water from tub to tub, pick out rocks to drop in new tub. He can work this experiment for a very long time.

I can sit on the porch steps on a pretty day and watch him for a long time.

The mad scientist magics up a nice day. Photo by his Nana.

When it clouds up, as predicted, and you can all but feel the rain coming, there’s some intense puzzle time. Kayla’s deeply into this and makes serious progress.

Some wavering by me about heading to the Chuck Wagon Dinner event. If it’s raining and chilly, I can toss a frozen pizza in the toaster oven and all good.

But, delightfully, skies clear, temp creeps up again.

Time to put the cowboy on.

In the shuttle Griffin does his car riding thing. He calls out K!!!!! We like to think that’s his name for Kayla and not just the letter. Then COWS! He has a steady interest in the cattle—from a distance. We all join in.

This event is by the river and a stunning spot. You travel there through woods and hills all sparkling and shadowy at once in the sunlight. The river’s running fast, the smokers are smoking—smells good—-and the bar’s set up.

Supply wagon. Photo by BW
J by the river. Photo by BW
The set up. Photo by BW.

We grab a picnic table under a pergola—in case the rain comes back, and while Griffin takes off with his parents giving chase, the rest of us settle in.

Perfect spot. Photo by Nora.

Live music, a beautiful spot on a beautiful evening.

Apparently our boy wanted to run in the road—and the fact he was denied this activity ruined his life for about ten minutes.

The feast’s on. I’m really grateful the resort has so many veggie options, and Kayla doesn’t go hungry here. She, of course, passes on the Tomahawk steak. I do not, and it’s delicious.

Meat on the grill. Photo by BW

We all pass on the invitation to take part in a hatchet throw.

Kayla makes herself a s‘more, then it’s time for the ride home.

It’s past a certain someone’s bedtime, but he strongly objects. Mama won’t be denied, and—as mama’s do—wins the battle. But it’s fiercely fought.

Kayla and I are at the puzzle, and Kat comes to join in. But after the battle decides she’s earned a mimosa. Kat is a rare drinker, and a serious lightweight. Kayla decides she’d like to try one. When she samples, she says, it just tastes like oj. Kat is amazed! But it tastes so strong to me. (Lightweight! LOL.)

I suspect Kat put maybe a scant teaspoon of champagne in the nearly 8 oz of oj. I add a little more to Kayla’s. Okay, she says, it tastes like sparkling oj.

There you go.

So I have my first adult drink (no oj in mine, thanks) with my granddaughter.

Nora’s solo bubbles. Photo by Nora.

We puzzle on until bedtime.

Another gorgeous day, and a morning warmer than the last few. Workout done, a load of laundry in. I’ll work a little in a little.

We hope to have our Paint Day. Rain coming late afternoon, but sunny and low 70s before. It should be a great day to play artists outside.

Nora


Note from the Travelogue Editorial Desk: I wake up to a trove of photos. Some I know will fit copy. Some are there for the memory. And for some, I create stories of my own. These didn’t fit copy, but I thought you’d like a glimpse of the power of the Griffin.

King me. Photo by Kat.
Cross me and you shall bear the same fate as the flower. Photo by Kat
The flower. Video by Kat
#RandomKatness (clean rocks by Griffin). Photo by Kat

Montana – Day 4

Apothecarying’s fun!

We have our class near Spa Town with those incredible views through glass walls.

We start off making little lotion bars—custom as we choose our own scents or blend of scents.

Measure, mix, melt. Sniff, sniff to decide how we want them to smell. I’m in love with the Huckleberry so easy choice for me. Kayla goes for a lavender peach combo, and Kat huckleberry lemon.

Oh, the way everything smells!

We can add bits of rose, lavender or chamomile. Who can resist?

When we’re all done, we pour into little molds. Kayla and I both choose stars, and Kat a star and a couple seashells. So cute!!!!

From l: creations by Kat, Nora, Kayla’s . Photo by Nora

While those are in the fridge to harden we tackle lip balm. For this, it’s lavender peach for mine because it smells so yummy. A similar process of measuring and mixing, and into the little tubes.

Polish it off with bath scrub. I’m all about the huckleberry and lemon—with some dried rose crushed up in it. We get blue jars, mix it all up. It’s so creamy and fragrant.

Happy Kat and Kayla. Photo by Nora.

Back home on a warmer and happily sunny day.

BW’s been out with his drone taking aerial shots. Jason has tried and failed to get Griffin down for a nap.

The view from above. Photo by BW.

Pretty day to walk around outside—then the puzzle calls me for a session.

It’s coming along!

We have dinner—The Big Sky Bash—at the equestrian center. Kayla gets her cowgirl on with her hat—and a jacket and boots from Nana’s closet. It’s just gorgeous when we leave, but I also wear a jacket because I know how it goes here!

Kayla and her Nana. Photo by BW
Kayla and her Grandda. Photo by Nora.

We shuttle off to the bash, and it’s gorgeous there, too. There’s a pretty pond, and people out in canoes. That wide, wide spread of sky, the mountains and hills rising and rolling under it, cattle in the fields, lots of picnic table set and another live band.

Fun stuff. Along with a pony ride for kids.

Griffin makes a bee-line for the lake. That kid loves water. He has some running around time, and his Mom suggests a pony ride. But when she takes him over, sets him in the saddle, the answer is: Absolutely not!

A shame (though pretty funny) as Cookie the pony is pretty and sweet and patient. Kayla makes friends with her.

Kayla and her new friend. Photo by Nora.

Lots of food—and the roasted corn on the cob’s a big hit. Also fresh tortillas—mmmm.

Then the sun disappears behind clouds, the wind kicks up. Cold!!!! I hold out hope the sun will find its way back, but no. Just no. Still we had a fun time, good eats, and sunny and pleasant for most of our adventure.

Before the sun disappeared. Photo by Nora.

Back home for us. A Daddy Bedtime Dance. Not even halfway through that ritual, Griffin’s asleep on Jason’s shoulder. And still, mouth slack, eyes closed, he sings blearily: Wobba Wobba.

The videographer dances too!

Up to bed for our sleepy boy.

Day is done. Photo by Kat.

More puzzle time! Hang and puzzle with Kat and Kayla for awhile after Griffin’s settled (and Daddy with him). By ten we’re all tired, so an early night in the west.

I get eight straight, always a happy. Work out—good morning, Griffin. This is Daddy’s shift, their routine, and it goes along well. Some warmer, so parts of that routine means Griffin goes to the door. Time to go outside!

Finish my workout shortly before the shift change and BW, Kayla and Jason head out for breakfast.

I need to rewrite the bulk of a chapter. I’ve worked out in my head the how and the why but because it’s more intense work than editing, I take myself up to the quiet of the bedroom.

It takes a couple hours—and will need at least a couple more to make it all smooth. But it’s done. I think, while I’m up there how some idiot posted on the internet just yesterday or today—forget—how I don’t write all my own books because. There’s always a because in this type’s mind. And I think bite me, asshole, as I finally shut down after a couple of sweaty hours during my damn vacation!

Because I do write all my own books.

Come down to learn Griffin’s not feeling altogether well. When a toddler wants a nap and doesn’t want a cookie, he’s feeling off. But he has The Daddy Shoulder Of Comfort—doesn’t want Mom who is—unquestionably—his most favorite person of all people.

From yesterday when the mad scientist felt better and kept busy. Photo by Kat.

Seems a little better now, and is outside with Mom while Daddy’s getting a well-earned massage at spa town.

BW’s just back from taking pictures of our neighbors just up the road. Buffalo!

BW and his new pals. Photo by BW.
A closer look. Photo by BW.

I’m going to get some outside time myself.

We have—hope it’s not too cold—The Chuck Wagon Dinner tonight. Always a good, fun time.


Note from Travelogue Central Editorial Desk:

Because one download staring at me wasn’t enough, Kat decided to get a fuller photo of the eyes, thus earning the first #RandomKatness since 2019. To top that off, she took a snap of Griffin communing with the eyes. ~Laura

Montana Day 3

Switching it up this morning to do the blog before I see about squeezing a little work in as Kat, Kayla and I have a one o’clock.

Paint time’s rescheduled. The artist had an emergency. Since it stayed fairly chilly, and we hope to do it outside, that’s all fine.

A son and his mom. Photo by Kat

Instead, we spent the bulk of the day indoors. Indoors for Griffin and Kat meant a lot of tent time. It’s like a big playhouse—with beds! I walked outside a bit, and couldn’t resist taking a lilac sprig from one of the several blooming bushes. At home mine have long since bloomed off, so it’s nice to have this revival of spring with that lovely scent.

The Purloined Lilac. Photo by Nora.

We have a bird nesting in the outside corner of the front door. I see her often, and she objects when we go in and out. Can’t blame her as she has four pretty eggs to protect. Ms. Robin’s doing a fine job—and I wonder if they’ll hatch while we’re here.

The Robin’s Nest. Photo by BW.
Treasure. Photo by BW

We decide to break out one of the jigsaw puzzles we brought with us, and get a start on that. Our puzzle board was left inadvertently in the car, but the intrepid Kat called and asked for a flat piece of cardboard. We can move it easily from the dining room table to the kitchen counter when we need the table.

Jigsaws puzzles, screen time, happy boy. Photo by Nora

It’s barbecue night at the ranch. Layer up, everybody, because it’s cool—and downright cold when the wind blows. It’s nice when we get there as the sun comes out from where it’s hidden most of the day. We choose our pod—like a big cabana—and Jason does the chase after Griffin deal. This is fine until the boy decides he wants any pod but ours, or perhaps testing out the fire pit would be fun, then there’s that big field on the other side of the fence.

A boy and a cover. Photo by Kat

Many distractions are offered. Many are rejected, firmly.

He finally settles in after a protracted battle of wills, and we use some extra chairs to block his escape from the pod.

There’s a live band, and they’re really good. The lead singer and keyboard player is barefoot. It may be 50-52 out, with a stiff breeze that comes and goes, but the band’s from Missoula so I guess that’s summertime!

The music’s eclectic and more than fine with songs ranging from Hendrix to a number from The Jungle Book.

The food hits the right notes, too, with plenty of options for our vegetarian. Griffin decides the trout is exceptional (I agree) and eats what seems like an entire fish.

We stay for dessert.

Home again for the bedtime dance with Daddy, and after Griffin’s settled in (Daddy, too, as the dinner-time chase was long) Kayla practices her Tarot card reading skills. I gave her a deck a couple months ago, and she’s proven to have good instincts. She did a solid reading for Kat, did mine and nailed that, too.

I walked out between to grab the sunset.

Sunset. Photo by Nora

Then the three girls enjoy a gabfest until midnight.

I’m up early, naturally—and a little annoyed I can’t seem to sleep past 5:30, but what can you do?

I think Griffin and his parents had a rough night, but they’ve slept in so I hope that makes up for it.

Got my workout done. Kayla’s waiting for Grandda and whoever else wants breakfast—BW’s doing a workout of his own. I’m going to go up and change, see about squeezing that work in.

The girls are heading to the Apothecary this afternoon to make lotions and whatever else we can do. Kat and I did this last time we were here and really had fun.

It’ll be warmer today—hitting 70 (YAY!) and the sun’s out.

I’m ready for it.

Nora


In our daily Griffin video, he practices his sleight of hand, ending with a splash. ~Laura

Montana — Day 2

A little time before dinner—and that wild wind—leaves time for a little three-handed Hearts inside. Kayla, Jason and me.

Griffin playing in the tent amid the wild wind. Video by Kat

Jason has incredibly bad luck. Barely missed running them—one card light. I tell him he played it well, so he lost correctly. * He’s well behind when we have to pause the game to change for dinner.

A cool, brisk evening means eating inside instead of out—but sunny means some walks around, especially for a certain little boy. One who really, really, REALLY wants to climb through the fence and explore the next field.

Can’t sit still. Photo by Nana

But that’s a hard no.

Kayla gets her cowgirl on and it sure looks cute on her.

Cowgirl chic. Photo by Kayla’s Nana.

It’s a fine meal, and our waitress Dart is terrific. Griffin enjoys his Mac and cheese, then decides he’s had enough. His dad drives him and his mom home, and comes back for us in time for dessert.

The first, definitely not the last, creative pano. Photo by Kat’s phone

I have a scoop of vanilla gelato with a scoop of huckleberry. Just as wonderful as I remember. But too much for me. Jason reaps that reward.

We see cattle on the way back, and a field loaded with moms and babies. So cute!

Cattle still life. Photo by BW

Back home, and the temp keeps dropping so I want sweats on.

It’s time for Griffin’s nightly pre-bedtime dance with Daddy. It’s an adorable ritual with a specific play list on Jason’s phone, and usually ends with the favorite. The Elmo Slide. By then, Griffin’s head is almost always heavy on Jason’s shoulder.

Mom and Dad put their boy to bed with BW drafted to finish for Jason at Hearts.

His luck is no better. Kayla triumphs. She’s become, over the last couple years, a very canny—and often ruthless—card player. Makes a nana proud, even when she screws me over on a pass.

Jason conks with Griffin, so it’s now four-handed with Kat, BW, Kayla and me. Lots of fun, lots of laughs.

My luck is fairly crappy, but BW’s is even crappier. Kat gives her a run for it, but once again, Kayla crushes all comers.

I warn her next time we play, she’s going down!

I’m up early again, and just decide to roll with it. Pretty chilly this morning. Get my workout in, while Jason fixes Griffin’s breakfast. It’s fun listening to him babble with Sesame Street or Mickey and Donald while I work up a sweat.

I sit down to work while the Breakfast Club heads out. Cool or not, eventually the boy wants outside, so Kat and Griffin go on a short adventure.

I finish up my goal for the day shortly after the gang comes back—with bacon!!! Mmmm, bacon.

Kat’s putting Griffin down for an early nap as he hit the wall, and I might take a walk myself.

In a couple of hours we have a paint activity here at the house. Fun! And it’s barbecue night at the resort. All sounds good to me, but I admit I’m looking forward to feeling the temperatures climb back up to summer.

Nora

Notes from Laura:
* Sometimes Nora says this to me. OK, she never says it to me. Stupid games.

To follow up the first day post, here’s Griffin and Nana “bowling.” And a glimpse at the big furniture.

So…who’d volunteer to sleep in the tent? I think I would.
Laura

Montana Day 1 (and part of 2)

Good weather makes for a smooth flight—and makes me very happy. While our youngest passenger traveled extensively in his first year or so, Griffin hasn’t been on a plane since 2019. He loves it! The minute the plane startdd to taxi, he breaks out in a huge grin. Likes looking out the window—doesn’t take after his Nana on this one.

Happy traveler. Photo by j a-b

We arrive in hot and sunny Montana—glorious summer day—for the drive from Missoula to Paws Up. We didn’t get a cabin this time—booked too late as we held out hope for our trip to Italy—but instead scored a very private ranch house with gorgeous views, front and back porches. Even a BIG tent with two twin beds if anyone wants to sleep outside.

No takers so far.

Kayla gets her first real look at Western mountains from the plane. So big, so rugged, so young compared to our more sedate Eastern ranges. A different world here with those soft sagey greens, snow-capped peaks, the sea of sky, the endless fields of grass.

The view from above. Photo by BW

Since the house isn’t ready for us, we have a bite to eat, some drinks on the deck of the restaurant. Have a chance to unwind, give Griffin a chance to run around.

Home away from home. Photo by NR
The tent. Photo by j a-b

I’d say we were all a little lagged by the time we finally got into the house. They sure like BIG furniture in Montana! By the time we unpack, take a breath, it’s time for our dinner reservations. Kat, Griffin and I pass on that, and it feels so good to just stay put.

More time to explore our Montana domain, let Griffin run and pick dandelion fluff. Sit on the porch, or walk around and admire the pretty stream behind the white picket fence of our backyard. I find my stress level going down to zero.

Peaceful. Photo by NR

I play the bowling game with our boy while his mom fixes him dinner. I set up the soft pins, he gleefully knocks them down. I pretend shock.

Rinse, repeat.

We have plenty of food stocked—but discover our kitchen lacks a stove. This is a major surprise. But we’ll figure out how to use the hot plate and toaster oven.

The rest come back from dinner, and we wait on sunset. Kayla pines for a purple sky. The sun’s glorious and gold as it sinks, sinks, sinks toward those peaks. But it’s not until after she’s gone in that light bounces up and spreads purple. I go in to call her out for her first purple/gold/mauve Montana Sky.

Sunset by BW.

Griffin manages to make it to what would be his bedtime hour on Mountain time—or two hours past his usual. He’s pretty much adjusted already.

It’s so wonderfully quiet—with none of the horror movie back noise of the constant song of cicadas we’re dealing with back home. Just quiet, with a breeze sighing through the trees now and again.

I slept like a rock.

Popped awake at—ugh! 4:45. Try to ward off wakefulness for about a half hour, then give up. Griffin and his daddy aren’t far behind. While Jason makes Griffin cheesy, buttery grits (the boy doesn’t take after his nana there, either) I gear up for my morning workout.

Too cool to take it outside, so I make room among the giant furniture. About 3/4s done when Kayla wanders out. She, BW and Jason will go to breakfast, bring back bacon—very important—and something more for Kat. But no rush on that.

I do a solid workout, then start putting things together to work on the book for a couple hours as we have no activities planned. The Breakfast Club is about ready, and Kat comes down. Griffin greets her with hi, hi, hi! And madly waving hands. A thing for the family. He glances my way to make sure I’m in the swim of this.

Gang’s back, put away work, and head upstairs to change. The girls are going shopping once Griffin’s down for his nap. It’s wicked windy and much cooler today. The baking heat of yesterday’s just a memory. Soft blue skies, cool air and constant wind blowing over the tall grass.

Griffin’s down, the girls escape. Kat drives us to the shopping here in the resort as if we were here last week. Impressed!

I’ve convinced Kayla she needs a cowboy hat. We score the perfect one in minutes. A black Stetson, soft, slightly more structured than mine—and a perfect fit that looks adorable on her. I find a nice shirt, and I can probably use another long-sleeved shirt in this changeable weather. Find a hoodie that yells JASON, and two hats—one for Colt and one for his boon companion C.J.

Bag two Christmas gifts for girl pals—and a necklace that knew it was mine the minute we spotted each other.

It’s both satisfying and relaxing to shop a bit with just girls.

Back now, and I can hear Griffin, so he’s up from his nap. I’m about to finish writing this on the back porch while the wind whips and whips through the trees and over the fields. I see a few snowy peaks, occasionally hear the low of cattle and lots of birdsong.

I believe it’s time to go in and pour myself a vacation libation.

Nora


Note from Travelogue Central: We’re just getting up to speed here as our intrepid travelers adjust to big furniture/wide open spaces/and my demands for photos in the shared Google account so I can illustrate Nora’s words. For instance, where’s the Stetson I ask you???

This one just struck me and it’s from Nora, not our Random Kat.

#randomly

I swear it blinked at me when I downloaded.

Laura

Forgotten in Death excerpt

A little surprise on this Tuesday morning — the Forgotten in Death excerpt!

The body was left in a dumpster like so much trash, the victim a woman of no fixed address, known for offering paper flowers in return for spare change–and for keeping the cops informed of any infractions she witnessed on the street. But the notebook where she scribbled her intel is nowhere to be found.

Then Eve is summoned away to a nearby building site to view more remains–in this case decades old, adorned with gold jewelry and fine clothing–unearthed by recent construction work. She isn’t happy when she realizes that the scene of the crime belongs to her husband, Roarke–not that it should surprise her, since the Irish billionaire owns a good chunk of New York. Now Eve must enter a complex world of real estate development, family history, shady deals, and shocking secrets to find justice for two women whose lives were thrown away…

Forgotten in Death is out September 7. You’ll find the excerpt here: Chapter One.

Legacy discussion spot

Legacy is on sale today! And here’s the place to discuss the book from start to finish.

A reminder of the cover copy:

Adrian Rizzo met her father for the first time when she was seven. It was the same day he nearly killed her mother, Lina.

A decade later, Adrian is as cool-headed and ambitious as her mother. They aren’t close, but they’re cordial as long as neither crosses the other. And then the vicious letters begin to arrive. While Lina dismisses the death threats as a routine part of her daughter’s growing celebrity, Adrian can’t help but find the vicious rhymes unsettling.

Year after year, they arrive with different postmarks, but the same menacing tone.

Sometimes it even seems like the terrifying messages are indeed routine, like nothing will come of them. Until the murders start, and the escalation begins.

Did you race through Legacy or savor it? Share all in the comments.

Laura

Girls, Games, Griffin and (Uninvited) Guests

Laura’s done a roundup of our Spa Girls Week, but I’ll fill in a few details before I continue the adventures of our last night.

First, the house was all Laura said, and so perfect for our needs this year—though we SORELY missed our butlers. The weather struck me as more March than May the first few days, but the indoor space provided all we could ask for. (And a little more than we wanted!)

Kayla had her first spa girls experience, and that was a bonus for all.

The best was just seeing each other face-to-face again after a very long year-plus. HUGS!!! Lots of laughs, lots of catching up, and of course, the annual tournament.

Griffin’s also had a long year-plus unable to socialize, but he got used to a house full of women pretty quickly.

I had bags and more bags of clothes purged from my closet—no chance to see each other since 2019, so a lot of bags.

How Kat managed to load luggage for five women, one toddler, two cases of champagne, two enormous bags of games and prizes, snack food and more as we’d be in a house instead of the hotel, a case of toys, etc into two vehicles remains one of the greatest achievements known to womankind.

Ample room to watch the contest unfold

So the tournament began. Fierce competition, as always, and Elaine, our oft-reigning queen seemed a bit off her game. Youth nipped experience in Just Dance time after time with Kayla taking the lead and holding it. Laura and Nicole proved Bowling For Giggles experts. Nothing made the boy laugh harder than watching the ball roll down the alley, strike or gutter ball.

 And, again Nicole and Laura proved dark horses in Scrabble. Kat unmercifully crushed all comers in her first round, but a steady feed of vowels in her second defeated even her mad skills. In the semis, Nicole looked poised to send Elaine, our other Scrabble Queen, packing, but at the very end, Elaine slipped past her by one point.

One soul-shattering point.

As Laura reported, she faced off with Elaine in the Scrabble finals. Though she went down in defeat, I feel her complaints about the score board now ring hollow. The Cranky Publicist bagged an array of Fabulous prizes this year.

I will say it’s interesting for a nana to play Cards Against Humanity with her granddaughter. Interesting, yet hysterical.

And Reverse Charades is, always, just brilliant. Fave of this year: Sarah bending over, pointing at her butt. And Kat guessing—pretty instantly—Full Moon. It was a moment.

Sarah also shared bacon with Griffin at breakfast each morning. So when we gathered at the dining room table one evening, Griffin reached over took the end of bacon peeking out of Sarah’s bacon cheeseburger, and slowly, carefully, pulled it out.

Plotting his next move to corner ALL the bacon.

He enjoyed the bacon almost as much as we enjoyed THAT moment.

So you have the girls, and you have the games. Now we’ll discuss the (unwanted) guests.

The first morning while Jo and I are doing our workout in the communal living area, Sarah comes out. She’s laughing, but her eyes are very large. As they have just seen the dead mouse in her bathtub.

This, we agree, is A Problem.

We also agree we’re not going to deal with A Problem ourselves. We call for disposal.

A Problem is solved. Maybe not as quickly as a group of women on a spa vacation might like, but it is solved.

Until, a couple days later, the unfortunate mouse’s sibling—alive and well—makes an appearance in the kitchen. 

Ten women, a toddler, and a mouse is A Problem. 

All of us but Laura are country girls. And all of us have seen a mouse in our lifetimes. But we do not want its company. We call for a solution to A Problem.

I have to say the solution didn’t arrive as quickly as any of us liked, and wasn’t solved in a way I’d have chosen. Setting snap traps under the stove isn’t ideal in a house with ten women and a toddler.

The problem solver promised to return to check said traps. But he did not follow through until more calls for solutions. However, the second mouse joined its sibling in the Great Mouse Hereafter.

We had a amazingly fun time at our group paint session. Everyone’s painting was fun and pretty. Kat’s isn’t yet finished as Griffin woke from his nap. But I can already see it’ll be amazing.

All the color! (From l: JoAnne, Kayla, Kat, Pat, Nora, Elaine, Laura, Mary, Sarah, Nicole)

 Nicole taught Elaine how to make other art with dried flowers. Gorgeous!

For our last night we were a smaller group as Pat, Elaine and Mary had to leave. Hated saying goodbye, but so grateful we had our time together.

Laura and Kayla had shared the loft bedroom, but that evening, Kayla informed Laura she’d moved her things, and herself down to Mary’s room due to the Big Spoder on the skylight.

I didn’t see said spider, but am assured by those who did, it was BIG. And what’s left of it after Nicole smashed it as it was too high and too BIG to catch and release—remained on the skylight.

Laura also moved down to Mary’s room.

For our last evening, we decide (poor Laura!) to play Hearts.

We’ve enjoyed our dinner. Kat’s on the lower level putting Griffin to bed. We’re enjoying our champagne. While chatting with Nicole, JoAnne knocks over his glass. Broken glass on the carpet. A (new) Problem.

Jo claims there must be a vacuum, but we pay no attention and call Housekeeping. We watch the sunset, and have the array of tiki torches lit. Lovely!!

Housekeeping arrives with a broom and dust pan. No, we said vacuum cleaner because carpet. Come back with a vacuum cleaner please.

Meanwhile Jo finds we DO have a vacuum cleaner in some random closet. We’re stunned, but clean up the glass in case Housekeeping doesn’t return. And in case they do, we leave the chairs pulled out, in innocence.

Nicole discovers we’re out of tequila, and she wants some. Since the intrepid butlers said we could call for any reason, she tries them to ask how we might acquire a bottle of Patron. She leaves a message.

Housekeeping does return, and as Kayla supervises the clean-up, she spots A Problem. Apparently the mice have yet another sibling and this one dashes across the kitchen floor.

Nicole and Sarah begin devising a cunning plan to capture this one as the mouse problem solvers have proved neither efficient nor timely. And the housekeeping guy looks stunned speechless when we suggest he deal with it.

We let him off the hook as Nicole and Sarah are determined they will capture the mouse, removed it and take it out to the woods and release.

Jo turns off the kitchen lights as she thinks this will bring our quarry out of hiding. I think, the lights haven’t stopped him yet, but we try that while Sarah and Nicole finalize The Plan.

There’s also discussion about how the poor mouse will starve after we go as no one will drop crumbs on the floor.

I am long past caring about the mouse’s welfare. But that’s just me.

Brendon the Butler calls back. As Nicole’s asking him the best way to acquire the Patron, Jo—obviously forgetting about the mouse—strolls into the kitchen.

The mouse makes its dash at her feet.

The scream should’ve broken another glass. And her leap was Olympic level.

The scream brings on a chorus of screams, curses, shouts, hysteria, all of which Brendon hears. The screams of six women would alarm even an intrepid Butler who’d just asked Nicole if a half bottle of Patron would do.

Nicole responds: It’s the mouse. Gotta go! And hangs up on him.

And so the hunt begins.

Nicole snaps out orders: Shut the door, move that towel, guard that door.

The rest of us shout:

It’s under the chair. It ran over there! Now it’s under that chair! Under the fridge!

Laura is The Flusher, following Nicole’s or Sarah’s orders to Herd It This Way! Which she does by stomping. There’s chaos, confusion, more screaming as the mouse skitters under one of the small refrigerators.

Sarah is battlefield calm as rear guard, bowl at the ready as Nicole hunts with her bowl and Laura drives.

It’s making for the hallway to the bedroom! Cut it off! No escape!

Laura prepares to pick up the fridge, Sarah and Nicole pursue doggedly with two stainless steel mixing bowls.

I think, I admit it, this will never work.

Laura stomps, they pursue, the mouse streaks across the floor desperate for cover. Nicole tosses the bowl! A miss.

Another toss—missed it by THAT much!

Sarah follows up, tossing hers. It wobbles, wobbles, wobbles over the surely exhausted and traumatized mouse. Then settles.

The mouse is Under The Dome.

Cheers, screams of triumph, wild laughter.

For those who follow me on Instagram, there’s a mouse was the correct caption.

Nicole and Sarah celebrate with a double high five. Unfortunately, Nicole missed with one hand and smacked Sarah in the eye. Sarah deemed it worth it.

Then the thought: Now what?

Nicole asks for tape. We must tape the bowl to the floor in case Griffin comes up in the morning and picks up the bowl.

I say: It’ll be gone in the morning, and mean it.

I helpfully offer the bottle of Dawn dish detergent (A big one!) to weigh the bowl down. This offer is rejected.

We must remove the mouse from our house. We’ll slide something under the bowl, trap it, carry it out of the house and release it into the woods. We are not murderers!!

A paper plate? But we discover the plates have lips, so won’t do.

The cutting board? The question: What do we do with the board after, is met with: Toss it out.

Fortunately cooler heads prevail, plus the board’s too thick for the job.

Nicole takes the big glass turntable out of the microwave. I think, but….

Laura actually asks: But how will we clean it after?

It’s suggested (Sarah!) we put it back after and turn the microwave on to kill the germs.

Again, cooler heads—and it also won’t work.

Sarah says: Someone’s coming down the drive, and they’re coming in hot!

Brendon arrives—and as we’re a serious distance from the Chateau, he must’ve flown. He says: I heard you screaming. I heard all of you screaming! Every one of you! And he brought Patron!

He volunteers to help dispose of the mouse (impressed by the capture). Maybe we have a box. A box will not do. He agrees the paper plate is also a bust.

While we’re discussing solutions, Jorge—who has been our stand-up guy throughout—arrives. He also came in hot.

The poor guy looks so upset that we’ve had yet another A Problem. He has something rolled under his arm which makes Nicole ask: You brought a tube?

No, he and the guy with him have a piece of FLAT cardboard (rolled up)—exactly what’s needed.

The mouse, cardboard, bowl and all are removed. We see Jorge stop the car at the woods, and so the mouse lives to scamper in the woods—until he meets an owl or hawk. But that’s not A Problem for me.

Tequila shots, relief, ridiculous laughter.

Then Kat, who’s been trying to settle Griffin for the night comes up, with a narrow look in her eye. When the Asian Goddess give you The Eye, you feel it shiver in your bones.

Ringing phones, screaming, stomping, more screaming. But when she hears the story, we are forgiven. She also said that it was a relatively short amount of time. Felt like hours, but there you go.

Kat who rarely has more than a sip of wine, makes herself a tequila shot.

Then we played Hearts.

Nora


Thus ends the 2021 Spa Girl Recap — Wait! It’s not official until we have a photo of the winner of the tournament. This year, the crown went to Nicole!

Nicole with her crown, scepter and small dinosaur.

And in another step toward life without restrictions, Nora and family will travel back to Paw’s Up in early June — so stay tuned for the return of travelogues!