And we did!
Our annual spa week just keeps getting better. And this year, the fabulous weather only added a great big plus.
It’s such a gift to have real time to hang out with pals, to catch up, relax, laugh, enjoy each other’s company and as much quiet time as you like. How much nicer can it be when you do all that when the sun’s shining and spring’s just blooming everywhere?
We took full advantage.
The car’s stuffed–though Kat took bunches, and Sarah came by and took more. We are loaded, and ready to go right on time.
Laura and I do have a tiny bit of work to do, and get that done shortly after our arrival. A quick video for Pen America to remind people book banning just sucks.
Then? Let the games begin!
We include our special guest Griffin in the mix who challenged many of our ladies to chases and races through the suite all week long. Who needs to work out when you’re getting your cardio running around with a four-year-old?
Jo and I do! Every morning our day starts off with a workout in the suite, and sometime during our sweat session, we hear his cheerful voice as he leads his mom in. The boy wakes up happy and ready for breakfast.
Mom needs coffee!
After that, who knows? It may be time for those chases and races, or for a walk outside. Maybe a treatment, a little shopping or a swim. Read a book, take a nap, have a cookie. The key word? Enjoy. *
Cocktail time. Room service mayhem.
Then? The games really begin.
The scoreboard the Clever Kat made awaits. Some gather around the table for Scrabble, others grab controllers for bowling, then the first round of Just Dance. The Fabulous Prizes also await.
If memory serves, Kat takes the Scrabble game, and Sarah crushes her competitors in Just Dance and bowling. We round off the gaming portion of the day with a silly card game–Old Wive’s Tales.
We have our single day of rain, but that doesn’t dampen anyone spirits. Workout, hang out, races and chases. **
Nicole brought up her makeup kits–she’s a Seint artist. (I became a convert last year at girl spa.)
Kat hauled up my bags of purged clothes so it’s time to Shop Nora’s Closet.
It’s entertaining to watch clothes winging around the room.
More games. Some of us can’t stay the entire week, but when we’re all there, we’re nine. So it takes awhile, playing four at a time, to complete a round. So more Scrabble ***, more Dance, and we shoehorn in some Bowling.
Another gorgeous day dawns, and Jo and I get it going. After breakfast, Kat slips out. My day’s clear so she booked a treatment and I’m on Griffin duty.
He caught sight of her making her dash, and tried to catch her. Had a sad at the door of the suite. Not a fit–thankfully–just a sad. I asked if he wanted a hug. He said: Okay. And after sharing a hug and some soothing, all’s well again.
Especially when I suggest a walk down to the toy store.
Nemocolin’s expanding it’s Lodge area, so lots of construction. There’s a long, enclosed (temporary) walkway to the spa and the shops. This includes many steps up, and steps down. So this becomes an adventure.
It’s a good thing Nana keeps in shape, as Griffin deems running’s necessary on some stretches.
He selects a toy in about two seconds. No wavering, no hesitation. It’s some sort of colorful marble run. Build the run out of plastic pieces, put the marbles in the top of whatever run you’ve constructed and watch them go.
It says 8 and up, but I’ve seen him with this kind of deal before. And he’s clutching the box like it’s Christmas morning.
More Adventures On The Walkway.
Back in the suite, I offer to open the toy.
No, Mommy opens, and he sets the box very deliberately in the center of the parlor.
When she comes back, she does, and the toy’s a hit.
Kayla had to miss the first couple of days, but arrives. Now I have my girl and my boy! But she’s got some catching up to do.
But first! It’s Paint Time.
Jo, Laura and I picked the painting we’d do back in March on our visit. **** It’s a big, gorgeous poppy. It’s fun to create, play around with our own visions. I like to get up and walk around the tables a couple times during the session, see those visions.
It’s always amazing how completely different everyone’s vision is. And we’re getting better at this! They’re all so pretty, so individual. I put this session is the Artistic Success column.
It’s pizza night, and yum. And after pizza, it’s time for Kayla to catch up.
Which she does by topping the high school on Just Dance, AND then destroying the high score on Bowling by hitting NINE strikes in a row. Scrabble isn’t her game–or mine (I have no Scrabble strategy) so the first round there is complete.
The Magnificent Butlers send in an amazing gift. A cake fashioned into a gorgeous book, and one of my favorites. Jane Eyre. What a thoughtful and creative thing for them to do!
Plus delicious. A lovely way to celebrate the end of another happy day.
After the morning’s workout, Kayla and I have mani/pedis. I go for bright green–palm trees–on my toes with a bright blue–the sea–on the accent toe. I feel very summery, and relax with Dark Angel, John Sanford’s latest.
We’re down to 7 competitors. Kayla falls in Bowling, but triumphs in Just Dance. We have the four for the next round in Scrabble–Kat, Jo, Laura, Nicole.
Reverse Charades is always good for that ensuing hilarity. It never fails.
It’s hardly a wonder I slept like a rock every night.
Kayla has a massage. I have a facial–and more time for my book while I relax and wait for my appointment.
And the games are coming down to the sticking point. Kat and Jo will face off the next night in Scrabble finals. Kayla is victorious in Just Dance. Jo wins Bowling.
We play Exploding Kittens. This is a not-so-quiet riot. I can’t remember who won, but we had fun.
Kat has a solo paint session and slips out. Griffin does not have a sad this time. I watch him build a run for the marbles. Obviously, he inherited his parents’ mechanical abilities.
Kayla and I take him outside, down in a big garden area for many races, hide and seek and just sunshine.
Laura also has a paint session, and I run into her. Her painting–a crescent moon over blue mountains is gorgeous.
Our final meal together–more cake, lots of champagne. The Scrabble finals.
Jo doesn’t have a chance after Kat manages to play three 7-letter words. In a row. Nobody beats that.
Another round of Exploding Kittens.
It turns out Kat and Kayla tied in the overall, so this year we have co-Spa Queens. Well, done, girls!
One last workout with Jo, and time to pack up.
Somehow, even though we shouldn’t be taking back as much as we brought we us, we’re loaded. Enough Kat takes the bag of leftover prizes and games with her.
More goodbye hugs, and I have a little bit of a sad myself.
But it was a fabulous week, and we’re already booked to do it again next year.
Here’s to girlfriends. They’re the best.
The Cranky Publicist take on things:
*For me, enjoy meant learning some new things. On the first day, Nicole and I made pasta which the chef paired with a red sauce. It was delish! (And we didn’t color coordinate, it just happened.)
**I went to the other hotel a couple times for lunch.
*** for some reason, the Scrabble gods feel I should always play Elaine. She was the first to go in our round, but opted to skip her play in favor of drawing seven new tiles. And then she played those seven tiles in her next turn.
****Back in March, when we asked to do that magnificent poppy with the group, Amanda and Sam of the amazing Nemacolin art team, told us that the artist would be in residence in May. Kathy Mazur was an absolute delight to meet and in turn was absolutely delighted to see all our takes on her art. Give her site a look, the art is lovely.
Finally, this was an art week for me. Before the group paint class, I took an en plein air class with Sam. It’s one of my favorite views and I had so much capturing it with paint, instead of the camera.
And I still took photos of whatever caught my eye.
(or should I write HELLLLLLLOOOOOOOO – like a shout into a canyon???)
I know it’s been quiet here on Fall into The Story. There are a lot of behind-the-scenes reasons for that – from changing to a new platform to waging a battle against bot registrants to playing with/discarding all manner of new looks to the blog.
I figured since we’re all friends here, I’d invite you into the chaos while I attend to the final details.
A quick update: after Nora’s January post about visiting Nemacolin with family, she’s been deep in work. As usual, she finished the first In Death for 2024 in January. Now she’s deep in the weeds of the 2024 standalone (this year’s standalone, Identity, is out in a month. And the excerpt is here.)
Outside of work ,family events have taken up all her non-writing attention, meaning weekends have not lent themselves to updates. She did complete this year’s whole house purge AND Bruce went on his winter trip for the first time since 2020. (Nora reveled in a Home Alone that featured no mechanical breakdowns in the house.)
Nora, JoAnne and I returned to Nemacolin for a mini-girls spa week in early March. Kayla was able to join us for part of the time – it was her Junior year (!?!!) spring break. We had treatments, a paint night and did a puzzle – though nothing like the 2023 puzzle of cupcakes from hell. Thank goodness. And NO GAMES!!
Nora mentioned to me late last week that she was going to get her hands in the dirt and start The Garden. She’ll share more about that in an upcoming post.
In the meantime, we’re gearing up to attend The Kentucky Derby next week. Two weeks later I’ll be certain to share The Spa-Girls-Face-The-Stupid-Scoreboard™ posts. Then before you know it, it will be time for the 2023 Travelogue! Where’s Nora going this year? Well, I’m not sharing that right now, but I can say that she hasn’t been to this part of the world for over 30 years.
Basically, I have a publishing schedule in mind to carry us through the rest of the year.
We’re also transitioning Nora’s News to a different platform with the help of The Newsletter Ninja. If you are a subscriber already, you will receive an update email about the changeover. Since there are so many names on the list, it’s a slow roll out so be patient! If you haven’t received anything by mid May, let me know at LMReeth@gmail.com so I can forward to Tammy and Stacey. And if you’d like to subscribe go to the Nora Roberts or JD Robb websites, scroll to the bottom and subscribe in the box there.
My plan is to increase the newsletters to monthly. Nora will write the pre-publication ones, while I’ll fill in with other things of interest like audio excerpts or contest. Things that keep you in the loop.
In other housekeeping news, if you’d subscribed to receive emails any time there’s a new FITS post, unfortunately that list disappeared when I brought the blog over from InMotion to WordPress. Please re-subscribe so you get all the posts as they appear.
I’ve been waging war on bots in the user list here for a while. I know I’ve inadvertently erased real accounts in my effort to be rid of invaders. If you have a profile here, could you add your name to the profile? That way I know to keep you on the list.
What else? I’ve been taking photos on walks again. And I’ve been reading a lot this winter.
Which brings me to the final point in this restart post:
Besides Nora’s personal updates, discussion threads, cover reveals and excerpts, what else would you like to see here?
Photos of Nora’s garden just because?
What are you reading or quarterly book recommendation posts?
Share what you want to see post-wise in the comments.
Nora outlined her pre-holiday preparations last week, so I’m certain she’s deep in cookie dough this weekend. Since we have pretty diametically opposed approaches to the holidays, I thought it would be fun to share a diary of my run up to Christmas.
(BTW, You definitely know this is a Laura post since I have the World Cup final on in front of me — like in the featured photo. For those of you who have followed from the first opening tap, hasn’t the beautiful game made this month even more magical?)
November 29 – December 1
Nora and I headed to Tyson’s Corner to meet Kat and Sarah for a couple days of girl time before getting back into the holiday marathon. And back to work.
We arrived at the hotel before noon. Checked in, grabbed some lunch, then meandered through some stores. Nora grabbed new holiday pillows and some other decor (since we all know she finished gift shopping before the 4th of July). Kat was further behind in her holiday prep — an ally! — and she was happy to score some gifts in Crate & Barrel and Sur La Table.
Now, Nora and I have tons in common, but we take divergent paths on sports. She’s a lifelong baseball fan, otherwise sports are white noise in the background. I watch just about everything. As a side note, Sarah is a Washington Commanders fan by birth and a Buffalo Bills fan by marriage (she’s having a fun season) while Kat doesn’t hear white noise when it comes to sports, she hears Mozart on a different frequency altogether.
I’d tracked the US/England World Cup game on my phone while we shopped, so when we got back to the suite, I put it on the TV and sat in a chair so I could face the game. Nora, Sarah, Kat positioned themselves facing each other. I kept the game on mute, though I did emote when necessary. And when the game ended in a tie, not a loss, I did a little happy dance to their complete amusement.
We spend the next day at Saks in Chevy Chase with Azita — Nora’s long time shopper — and the rest of the amazing, enthusiastic team at the store. We shopped a bit, I had a fun session with a Guerlain makeup artist, then we ate lunch serenaded by the lovely Stephanie of Singers & Strings/Next Entertainment on her electric violin. She played for nearly 3 hours — popular music, holiday music — and never missed a note.
After lunch we made Christmas decorations with the very sweet ladies of Coffee & Calligraphy out of Annapolis. We’d fill empty glass containers with bits and pieces of holiday decor, then the the C & C team would write our names on the front, and a tree, star or wreath on the back. They had enough supplies for us to make ornaments for spouses and kids. Kat, as you see in the photo below, sat down and created her own designs for the back of hers.
Then it was back to the hotel for dinner and gifts. Now, for all the snark, I was curious about all the Christmas gift purchases in Italy. Nora found a beautiful red saddle bag for Sarah in Florence (sorry, didn’t snap a photo) and these beautiful earrings she and Kayla deemed “Laura.”
Onto crafts. You’ve all heard the story about Nora being an Earth Mother/Queen of Crafts before she discovered her true creative outlet in writing (for which we are thankful). Prior to winter 1979, she sewed Jason and Dan’s clothes, she did needlecrafts, macrame, pottery, to name a few. Once she wrote that first – never published – book she gave all her craft supplies away.
Me? I’m always game to try a new craft. And fortunately have many like minds in my neighborhood. This year a group of us learned needle felting (I call it stab and gab) and stained glass. Candlemaking and blacksmithing are two we want to try next year. On my own, I have any number of yarn crafts on the needle or hook. Finishing them is a different ball of wool.
My main craft partner in crime is my friend Tara — who I’ll call The Craftinator. Or maybe The Maven of Making. Or maybe just Tara.
Months ago she sent me a link for some Christmas hoop crafts and asked me to file under future Mayhem (our preferred terminology for making things).
Now, I think it’s important to mention that, like Nora, The Craftinator is a woman who starts a project and doesn’t stop until it’s done. (See Nora and writing books one at a time.)
Me? I’m Doug the Dog in UP — show me something shiny, I’ll yelp, “Squirrel!”, drop what I’m doing and focus on the new. Tara will finish a project and I’ll store mine for a later date. (That later date is probably never-ish from the state of my craft closet.)
I sense a theme in my friendships, btw: people who follow through.
This particular December 3, a group gathers in Tara’s craft room — because, of course she has an organized craft space. Five neighbors with glue guns, decorations, battery operated LED lights, Cava and snacks. We started at noon with no real plan other than finishing. While my friends created woodland or bright party scenes, I really just wanted the Zen of wrapping the hoop with jute.
Once done with that, I decided to add a web of lights, then some pearls and felt balls. Mainly, I wanted a wreath for a Reeth (get it?). But I ran out of felt balls to fill it out. Please note, because we are adult women the discussion of needing green balls went downhill. Fast.
The afternoon was a fun one. And here’s what I brought home:
My husband took a long look when I brought it home. “Is that a hexagram?” he asked.
“I think you mean Pentagram,” I replied. “Maybe.”
“Hmmmmm,” was the reply. “What did everyone else make?”
“Well, here’s Tara’s.” I showed him my phone.
He stared at the photo. “And how long did Tara have to do this?”
“The same as me.”
And for the record, here’s what the entire group made:
Don’t worry, I’ve got a plan to re work mine. For Christmas 2023.
On Sunday, most of the same group attended a session on building succulent Christmas. Despite my frustration at getting some of the stems to fit into the mossy base, THIS is a project on display. Batting .500 (so Nora gets the reference).
December 8 – 12
We had an early Christmas with our kids because that worked for everyone’s schedule this year. Having an early celebration made for a very relaxing weekend (and easy travel from Connecticut and LA). Part of the fun was our neighborhood holiday gathering, held outdoors under cafe lights with fire pits and heat lamps.
I returned to my church’s choir in November, just in time to rehearse Christmas music . On this Friday night, we sang at the Sicilian Tenor’s concert at our church, kind of a dress rehearsal for Christmas Eve and Frederick’s Candlelight Tour of Historic Houses of Worship on December 26. (If you live in the area, it’s a wonderful evening of song and food.)
The World Cup final is in the books (what an absolutely beautiful, brutal and amazing match) and I’ve moved over to NFL games for this Sunday afternoon. Nora’s probably still working on cookies.
For those of you lighting the first candles on the menorah tonight, Happy Hanukkah! May your candles burn bright this season.
For those those of you still working toward the Christmas marathon finish line, I’m with you (I need to send cards, calendars and wrap gifts – no biggie).
This is my last personal post of the year, but keep an eye out for a kind of questionnaire post as Nora and I work toward some changes here on Fall Into The Story.
A fall trip to New York City is one of Nora’s fondest traditions that dates back to the years of fall book tours. New York would be the last stop on the tour, then BW and the family would meet her at the Palace to relax after weeks on the road. It was the breather before the holidays.
Well, a breather and a chance for Nora to finish her holiday shopping. She still does. [humbug]
Her favorite place to stay is the Champagne Suite at the Palace which is large enough for the entire family to stay comfortably.
Covid interrupted the trip in 2020 and in 2021, the suite was taken for Nora’s dates. This year? She was back, baby. Broadway and dining out remain off the table for now, so BW opted to stay home. Kayla planned to come on her fall break, then had an opportunity to travel with friends. So Nora, Jason, Kat and Griffin rode up in a new-to-them small bus. Everyone was comfortable and Griffin loved it.
I love October in New York for the weather and the sports. My husband and I drove up a day early so we could see the Mets on Saturday night (the only win in the series against the Padres) and then the Jets on Sunday afternoon. We were 2 for 2 for in-person sports so happy, despite the Mets losing the series on Sunday night. We’re native New Yorkers and just keep hold of our teams.
Nora and family arrived Saturday afternoon after creeping so slowly through tunnel traffic I had to leave for Citifield before they reached the hotel. I popped up for a quick hello before football, but didn’t spend time with them until Monday.
It was an absolutely gorgeous October 10 (aka someone’s birthday), even with the Columbus Day Parade screwing up our walk to the new flagship UGG store on Fifth. Nora, Kat and I spent a nice hour wandering, then an enforced 25 minutes watching the parade since we were held at a crosswalk until a break in the marchers.
Once allowed to cross, we headed back to the hotel for a break. Then I had a late lunch with my sister downtown and Nora decided to walk up Madison Avenue on a gift mission.
A side note: Sunday evening, Kat’s nephews and nibling came over from New Jersey with their moms. When they got to the suite, they reported meeting Dennis Quaid in the lobby. Nora replied, “You should have called me – I love Dennis Quaid!!” Please note, I only run into athletes and saw many San Diego Padres and the Cleveland Guardians — also at the Palace.
Back to Monday. We get on at the 53rd floor, then the elevator opened at the 51st and Mr. Quaid walks in, finishing up a conversation with someone who remained on his floor. He was in front of me, looking ahead at the doors — as one does on an elevator. I looked over at Nora who gave me bug-eyes. (Later, Kat said he probably caught us in the reflection of the doors ruining all my fantasies of being cool.)
Dennis Quaid half turns and asks what we’re all doing today. I told him we were riding the elevator until we ran into him. And then we all chatted a bit on the minute long ride. He’s doing a project for HBO Max with Stephen Soderbergh. (Ok, he mentioned Soderbergh and I googled the rest.)
Guess who else is in the project? Timothy Olyphant! We hoped to run into DQ again to find out where Timothy Olyphant is staying. No such luck. But a fun birthday story.
On Tuesday, Nora and Jason took Griffin to the Central Park Zoo. I walked uptown with them to enjoy the lovely morning. Griffin was taking in all the sights and sounds. Every time he heard a horn or a siren he’d yell “Watch out!” as safety always comes first.
When they returned in the afternoon, Nora and Jason reported that Griffin took a couple moments to look over the Spider Web Scramble Net, but once he watched some kids playing, he climbed up and had the best time — never once letting go of his truck.
After nearly an hour, Jason retrieved Griffin so they could take in some more sights at the zoo. That turned into a ramble in the park to find the carousel — which dad and boy enjoyed a lot.
On the walk back, they found a subway stop with Nora’s intials.
In big Griffin news, next week he turns 4 AND starts school!
In Griffin and Nana news, Nora got in an extra 5K steps every day with Griffin — either chasing, racing or playing hide and seek.
Does a Cranky Publicist do any of that? Why no, but we got into a great rhythm of him doing a run and when he’d get near me, I’d ask “Stop or Go?” He’d reply “GO!” and keep on the move. Satisfactory exchange on both sides.
Wednesday was a walk around day. I’ve taken on an intern this year — specifically The Inquisitive Intern, to contrast with a Cranky Publicist. Paige is helping me with some social media graphics as well as behind the scenes research for future updates to the websites and this blog.
We shopped for sneakers for Griffin and more Christmas gifts (bah, humbug) then had an al fresco lunch near Rockefeller Center. Nora and Paige bonded by the time the french fries were served. And you’ll see more of Paige as the year goes by.
Thursday was the only rainy day. Nora, Jason and Kat had a Nora Roberts Family Foundation meeting so I rambled around — down to the Flatiron Building and back up to St. Patrick’s. Then I met my husband for a couple beers at an Irish pub. A perfect NYC day.
Friday was a matter of tying up any loose ends for shopping — which meant a stop at Uniqlo and later Sephora. I also had to show Nora the seasonal decorations on Papillon, a restaurant on 54th street.
That last afternoon, we sat down for a Facebook Live on the JD Robb page — we shared stories about the trip, revealed the title of the September 2023 In Death and answered a few questions. I know it will fill in some of the blanks: https://fb.watch/giBC6xltbK/
A few more favorite photos from the week.
A lovely week indeed.
How have you fared during the dog days of summer? Or the depths of winter, depending on your hemisphere? Nora’s currently with family at the spa while I thought it was time to get a regular summer cold. (Forgot how little fun they are.)
But before either of those things happened, we had some time together at The Greenbrier.
Previously, the resort was such an oasis of cooler weather I’d taken to calling it Brigadoon. Unfortunately the magical properties of Greenbrier weather were no match for the current US summer reality. While we didn’t scorch, we had three solid days of rain along with late afternoons showers on two other days, so patio time was limited severely to a couple hours on arrival day and the last two days. That was a bit sad since we’ve mainly stayed outside/eaten dinner on the patio every visit.
However, the space is big enough that we made our own fun. And there was no thunder and lightning with the rain so Kat and Griffin spent hours at the pool each morning.
A couple days before we headed to the resort, JoAnne sent out a report of filming a Christmas movie at The Greenbrier (rumor is it will be titled Christmas at The Greenbrier).
As we turned on the main drive, there were all the trappings of a traditional Christmas — set among the mid-summer begonias, coleus and hosta.
The main building was decked out for a traditional Christmas, including the ice rink that Greenbrier has November through January (we’re summer visitors, who knew???). We think they are going to CGI the ice.
Pause for a second and consider any bride who dreamed of getting married at The Greenbrier — in the summer — arriving to find it decked for Christmas. Guests were not given a pre-arrival heads up. But plenty of creative families got their holiday card photos taken against the gorgeous Christmas in July set ups.
There was filming in the lobby on our first full day. A couple of us went down to watch for a bit. We didn’t recognize the actors so I’ve taken to checking IMBD for a cast list
The sound guys must be brilliant because they had to deal with a kid screeching in a stroller as his parents — not extras — walked through the lobby off set. Then there was a family coming down the hall, with someone giving instructions that echoed around the tiled lobbby, followed by a yelped “Oh S#*T!” when he saw the crew.
We stayed for three takes. And now we have something to watch in December. The staff didn’t know if it would be Hallmark or Lifetime, so once I know, I’ll share.
On the whole, the Greenbrier stay isn’t one to lend itself to daily travelogues. Nora and JoAnne worked out every morning. I went for walks or the gym. Everyone had books to read. Nora got a little work done. Kayla instructed me and Sarah on Instagram looks. The usual.
Mainly it lends itself to photos.
We had three wonderful sessions with Max at the glassblowing studio. He plans to move on from rural West Virginia this winter so we made the most of our glass time.
Sarah organized trips to the two escape rooms on the property. I declined because it felt too much like a dreaded game.
Though I get credit for playing hearts.
JoAnne was Chief Griffin Companion while the gang escaped from rooms. She was prepared to chase and hide and play, but both times, he opted to deal with his mother’s absence by napping in place.
There was a puzzle. Not as bad as the cupcakes from March, but a hard one. Nora and JoAnne completed it the last day.
Kayla turned 20 while we were there.
There was ghostly activity to entertain everyone. The keys stopped working daily. Nora, Kayla, JoAnne and Kat saw presences in the card room. I did my morning work in there for most of the trip. One morning I heard someone go down the hall to the kitchen. As she came back, Nora said, “Oh, good. A real person.”
Sarah had it the worst as a ghostly presence kept invading her room at night. She finished the trip sleeping in my room after our sensible Kat went into the room and reported whatever was in there wasn’t nice. Housekeeping confirmed there was something in that room that didn’t play well with others.
I slept extremely well. I think the fact I sleep in Wallis Simpson’s old room scares them all away.
Nora and I filmed our regular July Facebook live on Saturday afternoon. It was our first one since October 2021 and we were due for a catchup. Really hope this link works: https://fb.watch/eLKJQfU5mf/
We all dressed up for a fabulous dinner at Prime 44 (the steakhouse down the hall).
And in our final tradition, we’ve already booked our trip for 2023.
Nora may or may not have a spa trip update. Once she’s home, she stays put until NYC in October. In the meantime, I’ll head to the OBX to work by the ocean for a bit.
Hope the rest of your August is a good one. Here’s to cooler/warmer days in the weeks ahead!
Once Nora readjusted to East Coast time after Italy, she recorded an interview for the LifeExcellence with Brian Bartes podcast.
After workout, I’m told we have no cold water. The gardener’s trying to fix this issue, and the housekeepers are also on it. It’s a good thing my workout was brief today, because no shower. Definitely no shower as by the time we’re ready to leave, no water at all.
And about the time we’re walking out the door, the villa manager’s husband fixes it.
Griffin’s not happy when Mommy heads out, but his attempt to follow her—making a run for it, even figuring out how to open the gate—is foiled by Daddy.
And with Kat at the wheel, we’re off.
I anticipate a workshop where we’ll sit around someone’s table and play with silver wire, twisting or bending it into what would be in my case, a poor excuse for a ring or pendant. No problem with that, it’s always fun.
Navigation takes us to a kind of industrial area between the villa and Florence, and now I anticipate we’ll twist that wire in some sort of warehouse setting. Then we make the last turn, and it’s a little bit residential, so I’m back to table.
We ring at the gate, walk in. Katarina greets us, and takes us up to a display room to explain what’s possible to make. Well, wow. Jewelry and much more. Boxes, bowls, key chains, charms, wine stoppers, salad tongs. Beautiful, shiny things. She explains some aren’t possible to make in an hour or two, but we have many choices, and she’ll take us down to what she calls the laboratory for inspiration.
This isn’t twisting silver wire at a table.
It’s a serious, professional work space with all sorts of tools, presses, rollers, work benches, soldering irons. And her father who sits at a workbench creating. She shows us little silver beads that come from the mine, and explains they send them away to a place that makes them into sheets of silver. And—fun fact—pure silver doesn’t tarnish. Copper’s added to make sterling, and the copper causes the tarnish. We’ll be working with sterling.
Kayla’s picked what she wants to make. And I can’t tell you as it’s a surprise gift, but after a brief consultation Katarina says it’s possible. I decide on a pair of earrings I saw in the display room, and Kat, being Kat, has an idea for something else altogether.
She makes a prototype out of a strip of paper. Katarina and her father discuss if it’s possible. He doesn’t speak English so the discussion’s in Italian. But it’s possible.
Katarina tells us that silver is not only pure, it’s alive. I think our group will be very simpatico with Katarina and her Papa.
Kayla begins, and follows instructions on how to use the big tools to bend, straighten. One of them has a large handle, and you swing it, keeping back as when it swings back, it would knock you a good one in the head. Kayla want her creation engraved, so into another workspace and the engraver, a machine you guide by hand—so cool. You pick the letters, line them up, and then increase or decrease the size, center. You hold one handle, and with the other guide the engraver into the letters on the tiles so it etches the letter into the silver. Slowly, firmly.
It’s absolutely fascinating.
Then it’s soldering time. Heat the solder, dip it in powder, touch it to the joint or base when the flame turns the silver at that point pink.
Now Kayla’s really impressive creation goes into a solution to clean it, and it’s my turn.
Before I begin, Papa takes us into another room to show off some of his work. Well, Jesus! The man is a true artist. Beautiful candlesticks, ornate bowls—all that detail, all hand-crafted. Gorgeous boxes with intricately designed lids. He’s justifiably proud.
To start I’m given what looks like a little spring of silver and sharp-nosed clippers. Snip! She tells me to cut a few as back ups for mistakes. We take the little rings to the soldering station to fuse the ends together. Fun! I haven’t soldered since high school metal shop.
Now I get to do the big swing, and the rings are now flat. Into another room and what Katarina calls the pasta machine. It’s basically a roller. Put the rings down, nudge them under with a tool, and the big roller (what a number THAT would do on a finger!) flattens them more and shapes them into ovals. Do it all again. We take the ovals to another bench where I get to hammer them. I love hammered metal, and it’s a kick to do it. Whap, whap, whap. Then over to file the joints inside the top. Punch the holes for the wires.
I’ve freaking made hammered silver earrings.
Kat begins by, along with Katarina and Papa, bending a strip of silver by hand. And oops, cuts her thumb. Antiseptic and bandaid provided. Kat bleeds for her art. The experts feel the strip was too thin, and provide a thicker one. And Papa works with Kat. His daughter tells me he is very precise, has very high standards. If a guest, like us, or a customer wants something made he doesn’t like, he won’t do it. Just no from Papa.
Whenever it’s time to make samples, she tells me, it’s a big family fight.
He obviously approves of Kat’s design as he breaks from his own work to supervise hers. She has two strips, hammers them—again under Papa’s eye. He’ll say no, or stop, or signal to continue. Bend them into the shape she wants by hand—again with Papa instructing—Nods, no, stop.
More tools to turn the flat strips into the smooth and rounded, soldering.
Kat’s work goes into a sandblaster for cleaning. All our creations are polished—so pretty!
Up to the display room where Katarina provides Kat with ribbons and twine so she can use her curving bauble as a bracelet or pendant—or both as she made two. Papa comes up, so I think we’ve entertained him.
We’re given certificates—like diplomas. Papa instructs his daughter to roll and ribbon them. (Pretty sure we made a hit with him.)
I spy a pair of small, gorgeous, ornate scissors—for cutting grapes, I’m told—and buy them.
What a fun, fascinating time. I’m not surprised by how beautiful Kat’s and Kayla’s creation are, but I did astonish myself with mine.
Well pleased with ourselves and with Papa and Katarina, we head home to show off our work.
Griffin’s happy to see Kat. He must be happy to see me as before too long he challenges me to a race, with jumps.
More puzzling—we’re almost there!
And oh—no water. This time BW fixes it as instructed.
Time for a drink, a sit outside. The lawnmower’s back and I can hear it rattling in front of Griffin.
And another oh—no AC. What the what?? I wouldn’t mind so much, but it’s seriously hot. I’d had a conversation with Katarina about this long, unseasonable heatwave and drought. It’s a serious problem. Kayla comes out to stand in the center of the breezeways, doors open on either side for the cross-breeze.
The manager’s husband and daughter come to fix. Takes awhile to figure out that when the gardener tried to fix the water, he inadvertently turned off the AC. As the villa took awhile to heat up, it’ll take a little while to cool down.
But we’re heading out to dinner soon anyway.
And off we go—so does the lawnmower. We’re going to try the place just down from last night’s spot, and at seven-fifteen are the first table occupied. Kayla and I are pleased they offer green salad—just field greens. Many varieties of pasta to follow. I go with the thick spaghetti in a garlic and tomato sauce, and it’s wonderful. Griffin’s happy with his lawnmower, Kat’s phone and French fries to start. It’s a much quieter place than the night before, and service is much brisker and still relaxed.
[The variety of dinner choices to follow.]
Everyone’s well pleased with their choices. Kat has her splash of wine from the best bottle of red yet. Smooth as silk.
The sky goes pink—a huge cloud, rosy pink, demands pictures. Time for cappuccino and dolci as the bells chime at nine. Laura tells me this is an old-tradition, the mad bells at nine—to signal it’s time for prayers and bed.
A perfect little chocolate soufflé first? Yes, please!
A mishap with the cappuccino, as the tray dips and two hit the stone. The waiter’s full of apologies—no big for us, we assure him. Replacements delivered, and we all enjoy.
The walk back in time to see those last fiery lights. And home for another look at the half moon before bed.
The winery we’d hoped to tour is fully booked, but we may take a drive to look at a castle. Depending on the distance and how windy the road, I’ll join or stay back and pack. Packing must be faced as this is our last day.
Chain Saw Man doesn’t disappoint and has been busy since about six a.m. Otherwise, the hills and valleys are quiet. I’ll do my last water bottles for weights routine, see what’s what.
In the quiet, I watch a hot air balloon float over the hills.
Legit #randomcatness. Photo by j a-b.
Another Girl Spa Week in the bag! We missed Laura, who ditched us to attend her son’s wedding. Of all the nerve! And Pat who’s in the process of moving.
But the rest of us had a very fine time.
Every time I walk into the lobby after the drive, I feel my stress level plummet. Just ahhhh.
We’re back in The Chateau after a two-year absence. The first year, canceled due to Covid, the second year in a house on property, due to Covid again.
We’re all happy to be back in our traditional space. Settle in, pop a bottle. Slainte one and all. Relax, eat, enjoy watching Griffin explore the space.
The boy likes a good hotel.
And let the games begin! Just Dance comes first, and while Kayla and Sarah are neck-in-neck, Kayla wins it with top score. Bowling’s up next, and I crushed it! Hello, five strikes in a row. But I disqualify myself from Fabulous Prizes.
Games continue, but not the tourney, as Griffin wants to race. At home he likes to chase me around the house until we round back to the start/finish line. Then, he looks at me with puppy eyes and says: Ready? I must repeat it. Then Set, then GO!!! Usually at the finish there’s: Hooray! We did it. We win a trophy, and high fives. But he sometimes skips that and goes straight back to Ready?
Different track in the suite, but same game. Around and around we go. I bank a LOT of steps before bedtime. And slept like a rock.
Work out in the morning, then clean up for some shopping. They’ve painted big angels wings on one of the walls in the shop area, and Kayla poses. We have fun, Griffin especially in the toy store.
Then Kayla and I have massages. More ahhhhh!
Lovely, lovely. Let’s cap that off with a glass (or two) of champagne and a cookie.
Dinner order’s in, Jo and Jeanette arrive. They have to catch up with dancing and bowling. More Fabulous Prizes! And more races. It helps that Kayla joins in there.
And it’s great, seriously great, just to hang out with girls.
Another morning, another work out. Jo’s got a neck/shoulder deal going on, so I take it easy on her. We do a lot of stretching.
Elaine, Jo, Kat and I squeeze in Scrabble. I have words, but no strategy for Scrabble and they have my share and more. But they needed the fourth and Jeanette (who also kills in Scrabble) had a treatment.
I am the lamb to the slaughter.
Kat defeats all comers.
I have champagne to sustain me.Meanwhile Nicole’s doing makeovers. She’s a Seint rep, and all her profits go to Distinguished Young Women–a scholarship program for high school seniors.
Laura sends us pictures of the wedding. Oh, so beautiful! And our girl is dancing! Happy!
More bowling, more dancing–Kayla’s killing it. Jo wins her bowling heat, if I remember right. And Kayla and Sarah will face off in the Just Dance finals when we get to it.
We do some Wild Cards for those who have no stickers on the board. Everyone wins a trophy!
Morning workout, and a little more cardio of Jo as she’s down to sore. Lots more stretching.
Sunday is Paint Day. Griffin gets a sitter. He isn’t thrilled, but I distract him with a race so Kat can sneak out. Then I make my escape. And he has his Monster Trucks to sustain him, and takes a nap halfway under the couch.
I should add, Griffin is now seriously attached to the little lawnmower Grandda and I gave him on his first birthday. He often takes it to be with him. And this is essential to his race games. In the mornings, I can hear him coming from across the hall into the suite as the lawnmower clacks its way.
But now it’s paint time! We’ve chosen the painting–a pretty simple sun on the meadow sort of deal. I sit as far away from Kat and her genuine artistic talent as possible. I’m between Jo and Kayla, and we begin with the sky.
A glance over and I see Sarah’s going for a night sky.
My sun looks like a six-year-old painted it–all it needs are the rays poking out. So I paint over it. No sun on my meadow! Kayla’s sun looks like it should, and even better. Jo paints over hers.
I try clouds, and I think I regressed to a four-year-old. Paint over them.
Sarah’s night sky has become a dramatic storm with a freaking tsunami instead of a meadow, and a rocky outcropping in the corner with a figure standing on it. It’s fabulously fierce.
I work on my grass. I’m fairly pleased with my grass and my sunless sky. I refuse to be unpleased when I walk around, see Elaine’s, Jeanette’s, Nicole’s. Even Kat’s.
We can add flowers, so I do. No, I tell our helpful instructor, don’t show me how to paint tulips as they will probably look like the work of a two-year-old. But I have fun mixing colors, dabbing, dotting, swirling. Jeanette does awesome daisies. Kat’s is, well, gorgeous. And no one’s looks like the template. They’re all just wonderful and individual. And every one of us leaves happy.
[Laura’s note: Since I wasn’t present in person, here are all the paintings for your perusal.]
Good job, girls!
Griffin continues his nap when we get back. It’s Scrabble for Nicole, Jeanette, Sarah and Kayla. Kayla inherited her Scrabble skills from her Nana, poor thing. Jeanette dominates.
It’s pizza and ice cream night! Who could ask for more?
First Round of Cards Against Humanity. It’s always ridiculous fun. I do well here as I know my individual judges and I get really good cards.
Elaine has to leave us Monday, early, so we say our goodbyes before bedtime.
Morning workout, then Jo, Jeanette, Kayla and I head off for mani-pedis. Or just the pedi for Jeanette today. I love knowing the hardest decision I have to make today is what colors on my toes. My feet are incredibly happy by the end of it.
Kayla and I make our way back as Jo has a massage after nails.
Dinner. I have to give kudos to the chefs. We have among us, two vegetarians, a shell-fish, beef and pork allergy, and a gluten allergy. It’s a lot to deal with, and they really come through.
I think we did some final rounds, more wild cards. I know Sarah and Kayla went head-to-head for Just Dance. Well fought, but Kayla nipped her for the final round win. Jo and Kayla are the finalists in Bowling. This time Kayla goes down.
Workout morning, and Jo’s better so I don’t take it so easy on her.
More makeovers. It’s really fun to see the transformations. I make a palette–girl toys–and add their brush cleaner as it’s so much better than anything I’ve used. Ever.
Kat, Kayla, Griffin and I take advantage of a pretty day, go outside for a walk. That becomes many, many races. Then Hide-And-Seek.
This is particular fun as you can hide behind a skinny pole, and Griffin loves it. Or you can sit on a bench, cover your face with your hands. He’s on board. This is in a really spacious and pretty courtyard area we have to ourselves.
We race, and when Griffin needs a break, he pushes his lawnmower into the grass and pretends to be stuck. So Kayla and I use this ruse, pretend to be stuck. Catch our breath.
Dinner, more Cards Against Humanity. Kayla sneaks up on me this time. I blame my cards. Since she won Just Dance–every round– Cards twice, and finaled in Bowling, it’s no stretch to see who’ll get the crown on our last night.
Final Scrabble–Jeanette and Kat. The tension is palpable! The board is tight, neither combatant giving way. Though Jeanette came close, Kat remains undefeated.
Last day workout, hang out, enjoy. I take Griffin duty so Kat can finally have a much-deserved massage. Kayla assists. He really likes the kid dances on Just Dance, so is well entertained.
Last dinner, last races, last ahhhs before Kayla is crowned Queen of the Girl Spa. Youth kicked Experience’s ass this year.
One last morning workout. Everyone finishes packing. It’s a lot!! Even though I don’t have the three bags of clothes purged from my closet–they went Night Two. Or all those Fabulous Prizes.
Hugs all around. So glad to have had this time together. Then Kayla and I drive home where the dogs–and BW–are happy to see us. And my gardens have exploded in the week away. Big and beautiful and full.
I took some pictures yesterday. Laura can decide whether to add them to this–which would be a lot–or just do another blog of garden pictures. Or save them. I’ll let her surprise me.
That was our week, and it hit every note. We missed you, Laura, and you Pat, but we’re already booked for next year!
Treasure the women in your life. They’re the flowers that bloom all year long.
A note from Laura:
While I’d argue using the word “ditch” to describe missing Spa Girl week, I was definitely absent. Instead of a scoreboard, my focus was on flowers
It sure has been around here. But happy busy with shopping, wrapping, decorating, baking. We do the works!
Pies, Turkey, All The Fixings and Family. I broke my own tradition this year, and decorated before T-Day. It seemed to me we can use all the cheer we can manage. So up goes the tree, out come the candles and strings of lights. Put out the Santa collection, the Snow People. And it’s time to admit I also collect Christmas trees.
And yeah, there’s a lot of cheer.
Thanksgiving gobbled right by. And that’s my signal to get up to my One More Room and start dealing with my personal department store of presents accompanied by gooey (it’s the season!) Christmas movies.
A quick and careful shopping trip with Laura to visit our friends at Saks (with Sarah for a day). Room service and evening hotel writing. Quiet, productive, and a lovely little break.
Weekends loaded with wrapping paper, tissue paper, gift bags, gift tags until Hey! I can once again see the floor.
Nose to that grindstone during the week because I really, really want to finish this book and take a long deep breath before Christmas. And it pays off! Manuscript done and outta here two days before I have a little gathering for a handful of my (vaxxed and boosted) girl pals.
So nice to see everyone face-to-face, to just spend a day catching up. And since I have a day not chained to the keyboard, I can haul down the two Hefty bags of clothes purged from my closet, set them up on BW’s clothes rack.
And gone. More room in the One More Room. And that’s a nice side benefit.
The long deep breath includes a weekend with Jason and family as Kat leads this year’s Foundation Christmas party for a few local families. Deliveries again this year instead of in person, but Covid doesn’t dampen the cheer.
And I get Griffin time! The time includes a new favorite story.
He’s not happy when his mom leaves and it’s just me. Not a tantrum, but sadness that takes him to the door he’s thankfully unable to open to follow her. He sits on the floor in front of the door. I sit on the floor and sympathize. Then lie down, play peek-a-boo. He tries hard not to smile.
Then I see him look out of the corner of his eye at my little Limoges cabinet. He’s always fascinated by all those little pretty things. And is always denied access. Clinging to his boon companion, a little stuffed dog called Howl, he starts a butt scoot to the cabinet and the shiny little things.
Nana says: Uh-uh, Griffin, that’s a no.
So he shifts Howl in his hand so Howl puts his paws on the knob of the glass cabinet. Hey, I’m not doing it! Howl is!
Howl is also denied access, but Nana gets a good laugh, and gives the boy full credit for creativity.
Then I get out the bowling pins and we play, wild and happy, for a solid half hour before we head into Chase Me All Over The House–another favorite game.
The Santa gang brings back pizza.
Monday, dentist for me–and coincidentally Jason. Permanent crown now installed. Extraction (oh joy!) in February. Home to play another favorite game with Griffin, Bury Me In Pillows, before he and Kat head home.
And yesterday Baking Day with Kayla. Our girl is home from college (Dean’s List once again!) with a rotten cold. Tested for Covid, Flu, Strep, all negative. Just a vicious cold. But she’s on the mend, so baking it is.
Sugar cookie dough first and in the fridge. Chocolate chip, Peppermint Kisses, Snickerdoodles, Peanut Butter Blossoms. The house smells like a bakery (yum) as I play baker’s assistant. She does the work. I’m no longer guiding her little hands to help her crack an egg or measure flour. Those early lessons bore fruit, and she’s a wonderful baker.
While she bakes, I make her some veggie bean and pasta soup.
We’ve got soup simmering, cookies in the oven, and Christmas movies on the kitchen TV. It’s pretty damn perfect.
And she and BW sit down to paint the sugar cookies as I roll out the dough, cut out the shapes. After a long, productive day, she goes home with soup and cookies. And I have more sweet memories in the bank.
I’ll start a new book today, satisfied that I’m ready for the Christmas that is just around the corner. And look forward to having the family gathered together to tear into that wrapping paper and those gift bags.
As we close out the year, and look to longer days with the Solstice behind us, I wish you all peace, health, joy. And hope you find all of those with friends and family.
Dear FITS family,
Well, it’s been a long while since Nora or I posted here — as a worried Sue King mentioned in an email yesterday. While life has handed out a few surprises in August, we’re both fine. I think the slow, hot and humid days have made time blur even more than it did in the winter. Or at least that’s how it feels to me.
We were able to take our annual trip to The Greenbrier in the middle of July. Our little group drove down on a Sunday with two cars packed high — though admittedly with far less stuff than our May trip to the spa.
The Windsor Club concierge team greeted us at the lobby door, then walked us over to The Presidential Suite. One step in and I swear everyone (including the ghosts) took a deep breath and just let go of any tension. I’d emailed in our dinner order so first night was a matter of unpacking, then sitting on the patio sipping champagne.
[It’s important to mention here that the first half of this post is very Laura-centric because on our first full day at The Greenbrier, I turned 60.]
Bright and early Monday morning, I headed to the concierge to go over a quick list of things before I stopped work for 24 hours (I gave everyone three hours, then would be off until Tuesday). I finished my list and then she said, “Are you the person I spoke to about the special order…”
I held up my hand and said, “I’m the birthday girl, you want to talk to someone else.” I felt a little guilty about it later, but in the moment I was very clear.
I was the only one with a treatment that day (because: birthday) so I headed to the spa area around 11:15. As I limped over (first milestone of 60 looks to be a hip replacement in early 2022) I decided to add a soak in a sulphur bath to help relieve the pain. Texted Sarah (who was playing Laura that day) to say I’d be back for sandals between treatments.
After the 90 minute session, I was relaxed and ready to soak. As I headed up the lawn to the suite’s patio entrance, I idly wondered what everyone was up to.
Opened the door and there were Nora, Kat, Sarah, Kayla and Joanne waiting for me in a wonderland of balloons and Happy Birthday signs, a glass of champagne at the ready. (There are no photos of the moment, but these will do.)
Once I recovered from the surprise, I heard about all the strategies to make this happen. Apparently they were on tenterhooks until I left, but didn’t let down their guard until they knew I was truly gone. Nora and Sarah watched me from the dining room until I disappeared into the main doors.
On Sunday, they’d smuggled the supplies into the spare bedroom and monitored my every movement closely so I wouldn’t inadvertently walk in that room. Which meant when I kept heading down that hall to make sure the hotel tech fixed the lock on JoAnne’s bedroom door, I ratcheted up their tension a thousand-fold.
On Monday, once I was gone, they sprang into action: Kat built the balloon arch, JoAnne created paper flowers, then herded Griffin away from the balloons. Nora, Kayla and Sarah blew up more balloons, hung up more signs. A frenzied 90 minutes for them. A calm one for me. <g>
I sipped champagne in the equally festive dining room and opened my gifts — my gorgeous crown came first. Accepted the love, thanked them all, congratulated them on the fabulous strategies and results. Sarah and Kat said the decorations weren’t what the concierge meant earlier. That was coming.
I decreed we had to dress up that evening, then went back for a soak followed by a nap, before the birthday dinner. The big surprise was a cake made with a recipe from my favorite childhood bakery in Brooklyn, NY (the now defunct Ebinger’s) — yellow cake with a mocha frosting. And it was perfect. Our superstar concierge, Lane, made that one happen when the kitchen initially balked.
After dinner, we drank – a lot. Finally I turned on a Spotify playlist and we danced for over an hour (which helped with Hangover Tuesday). And so I turned 60.
Hangover Tuesday was quiet, but we did start the card games. When my daughter Clare called on Monday, I put her on speaker so everyone could catch up. Just as the called closed, she said “You know, my mom keeps it a secret, but she LOVES games.”
I’ve disowned her. Stupid games.
We traditionally have one day of work at Greenbrier, usually the Wednesday. On the line up this year was an interview with the German podcast Eat, Read, Sleep, filming a video Q&A for Little Brown UK, a photo shoot for new social media pictures and our traditional Facebook Live. I was director and cameraman, the rest of the Smart Girls helped with hair and makeup, and we completed the tasks before our one dinner out in a restaurant. (The rest were on our patio.)
The remainder of the week fell into the tried and true pattern: workouts for Nora and JoAnne, some pool time for Kat and Griffin, reading and puzzles, champagne and conversation for all.
The non-birthday highlight came at the end of the week: glassblowing with the amazing Max Clair at the Virtu studio. We divided into two session with Kayla and Nora going on Saturday; Kat, Sara and I went on Sunday. Kayla wanted to make a paperweight this year. Since she made a paperweight last year, Nora wanted to try blowing a small vase. Kat and Sarah wanted to do some more complex vases this year and I opted for a small pitcher.
You know how things flow when you have a good teacher? I’d say each of us found that flow as Max gave us confidence to build on what we’d done last year. Glassblowing remains a group favorite and stays at the top of our must-do Greenbrier activities going forward.
We finished the week on a different birthday note: ice cream cake for Kayla who would turn 19 after we returned home. Next year, she turns 20 when we’re at Greenbrier. We’ll see what strategies and planning bring for her surprise.
Then it was time for the party to end and head north.
We tend to keep things positive here, but in recapping the summer I have to talk about the good and the bad.
Reality resumed on the way home from Greenbrier. JoAnne is Nora’s lifelong friend and business manager. While driving back they came to the decision for Nora and BW to announce a vaccine mandate for all their Boonsboro businesses. While some employees quickly got their shots this spring, others were hesitant. Watching the numbers increase over the summer, Nora and JoAnne felt a mandate was the best course of action.*
When the announcement came, some employees felt differently. Several abruptly resigned and left in the middle of a shift. Which meant the first week of August was a scramble to find replacements and new hires with JoAnne in the lead on the interview and schedule front.
That Greenbrier Ahhhhh? A thing of the past.
Things seemed to be steady when Nora and BW left for the family week at Nemacolin at the start of the second full week of August. Within 24 hours they received word of a two-alarm fire at Vesta. While the restaurant was closed on a Monday, a crew was in for cleaning in the morning. The fire broke out around 3:30 pm. Two of the residents in the apartments upstairs were home, but got out safely.
The fire has been deemed suspicious and remains under investigation at this point in time. Nora and Bruce have offered a $5,000 reward for anyone giving information that leads to the identity and apprehension of the person or persons responsible for the fire.
While the scene is cleared for repairs, there is no reopen date.
And there you have it FITS family: a rather fun and celebratory July. A nose-to-the-grindstone August.
What’s up going forward here on the blog? We shake off the late summer doldrums next week with teasers for Forgotten in Death followed by the excerpt from The Becoming over Labor Day weekend.
So stay tuned.
We’ll talk soon,
*Please note: Comments are not open to debate about vaccine. Nora and I have clearly shown support for them all along. Any arguments against will be deleted.