Category Archives: grandkids

I’m Ready!

The last little package arrived. I’ll gift bag that sucker and be done with the wrapping, ribboning, bowing and tagging.

Gifts to pals I won’t see this year, shipped weeks ago, and most landed where they’re meant to be.

Tree up, mantels dressed, candles lit.

Thanks to Kayla and a marathon baking day, we have tons of cookies. I stood as baker’s assistant while she did the real work–and a lot of work it was. Also delicious.

Getting Grandda into the act
Cookie Boss

 I’ll sneak in a Nana brag as our college girl got her grades. Straight As. 

We had a really fun, laborious day together. I miss seeing my grandboys, and having the gang baking in the kitchen. Next year–I hold onto next year.

I miss holiday celebrations and time with my friends. Next year.

Obviously, we won’t have our big bash of a New Year’s Day Open House this year. But next year.

And I admit, sometimes it gets me down. It’s hard not to hang out with friends and family, hard to cut out long-held traditions, hard to give up all those personal contacts, the hugs, the laughs, the simple, basic pleasure of being together. 

But next year.

I’ve got plenty of work to keep me busy. Writing, for me, has always been a blessing, but maybe never as much as in 2020. It gets me going in the morning, helps keep me from dwelling–too much–on everything else.

Then there’s the weekend cleaning/cooking/baking routine. It helps, too.

But boy, will I happily pass my toilet brush to someone else next year.I’ll buy them new ones! Gold-plated toilet brushes if they want. And shiny silver buckets, jewel-encrusted scrub brushes! Whatever it takes.

Meanwhile, it all keeps me busy, and somewhat sane.

Last week’s snowday view.

Also keeping us busy around here is Parker who had surgery last week for a torn ankle tendon. He’s recovering well, but JESUS! he now requires pretty much constant care. No opening the door so the dogs can stroll out and do what they do. Bag that cast, use a leash, walk him out, try to avoid having the Cone Of Shame bash you in the calves and shins. 

Parker and his new accessory.

He and Atticus both have the sads over the situation. But this, too, will pass. Next year.

Meanwhile meanwhile, the house is festive, and that perks me up.

Best, Jason, Kat and Griffin will come for Christmas as we’ve continued our careful bubble. I’m incredibly lucky there. We’ll have a late brunch once they get here, then tear into the presents. And won’t it be fun to watch a two-year old discover new toys under the tree?

Since Kat can’t eat mammals (reaction to a tick bite) we’ll have lasagna for dinner–with a salad bar to start, garlic bread from the Italian bread I baked last weekend, and an ice cream bar for dessert.

Then we’ll watch the new Wonder Woman. Yay!!

Not our usual Christmas, but we’ll make it happy. Then there’s next year. Next year, Kayla won’t have to haul all the gifts from here to her family because we’ll all be together. We’ll be together–family and friends–because we’re apart now keeping each other safe. And that’s the most loving thing we can do.

I’m wishing all our health care workers, our first responders, teachers, front line workers, delivery workers, USPS workers, grocery workers, and all those who’ve done so much, worked so hard to keep us all safe, to care for us, to keep it all going the best holiday possible. And a better, brighter new year.

I wish the same for all of you.

When I light my candles tonight, I’ll light them with that wish for all.

Next year will be better, and it will be brighter. But for now, we’ll make the now as solid and safe and shiny as we can.

Nora

Back To Our Regularly Scheduled

So that* happened.

And before it did, I’d planned to blog a bit about our holiday feast.

Your monthly dose of Griffin

In the time of Covid, we’re focused on staying safe. We have a bubble going with Jason, Kat and Griffin with all the adults working at home, not going out other than when necessary. Masks, sanitizer, hand washing, and all of it.

2021 has to be better, and we all want to get there.

Kayla’s also part of our bubble when she’s here. Before she drove home from college, she and her dorm mates got tested, then switched to all on-line classes to self-quarantine. They didn’t want to bring anything home but themselves.

Smart girls!

So we could have our little group for our big feast.

And I had a lot of help in the kitchen.

Pie baking—apple and pumpkin on Wednesday, and a pasta meal.

The most efficient diner in the house.

Griffin turned two the end of October, and he’s spent about ten months now at home, just his parents. We didn’t see them for the first three or four months of the pandemic, so the boy and I had to inch our way back. It’s a long time in a toddler’s life.

He’d play on the floor with me, walk outside, babble. But I was not allowed to pick him up or hold him. Uh-uh, Mom or Dad only! So no snuggles through spring, summer, into the fall.

We had a breakthrough—more to be grateful for. Last October I bought him this crazy little robot toy on the way to New York. It plays an incredibly repetitive nonsense song while it dances around and shoots out light.

At one, it terrified him. So away it went.

Now, he’s two, so let’s see what he thinks of it.

Interesting….let me stand way over here and observe it. Okay, now I must touch. And laugh. And dance. Nana dances, too. And for the first time since February, he wants me to pick him up. And we dance with the robot.

I lift weights three times a week, but the boy weighs 35 dense pounds. As my arms give out, I think we’ll sit on this kitchen stool and watch the robot.

No, we won’t! Dance, Nana, dance. And I get a hug for it.

Worth spaghetti arms.

A bonus for the feast.

We’ve got turkey, stuffing—and a meatless dressing for our veggie. Mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, roasted Brussel sprouts, roasted cauliflower—much peeled and chopped by Jason, veggies roasted by Kat as I handled making the gravy and other dishes. Homemade cranberry sauce, succotash, deviled eggs, a pretty round of sour dough bread.

A thankful meal

Pie for days.

Nobody went hungry.

Before and after I’ve been at the keyboard through the week, working out after the writing day, then, with zombie book brain, signing tubs of books from TTP, and crashing.

On weekends, since we’re still stuck in COVID, it’s clean. No more weekly housekeeper—not since March. So I scrub toilets and floors and all the rest with my faithful sidekick BW. And I cook, and I bake.

Trying some new breads—and as Jason has become a pandemic bread baker, or as Kat calls him The Bread Wizard—we’ve exchanged recipes.

I made his Irish Soda bread—yum! Then tried my hand at Stottie bread. Also yum.

Irish soda bread.

 

Stottie bread
Italian bread

And since Christmas is coming, I shop on line.

Which is finished!!!!

Since it’s finished, there’s wrapping (Kayla’s helping!) gift bagging, and shortly shipping gifts to pals I can’t gather with this holiday. I miss them!

And there’s decorating. We all need some cheer, especially in 2020. I’ve got a start on that, and will likely finish this weekend.

Just the start of the display

It’ll be a quieter Christmas than usual, with no New Year’s Day Open House to follow. But we’ll stay safe, look out for each other, take the blessings we have and treasure them.

Wishing the same for all of you through the holiday season and beyond.

2021 can’t possible suck this much.

Nora


*What happened? Basically, comments in The Awakening discussion thread were picked up on Twitter and six days after Nora dealt with the issue, we had a blog breakdown from all the people rushing in to read the comments. No need to add anything, just filling you in. ~Laura

A november-ish update

November, how can that be? I mean, I know HOW it can be, but still am stunned there are 61 days left to this year.

Before 2020, Fall into the Story was full of bright, interesting travel, family and life updates from Nora along with lively book discussions. This year, while the book chats continue to bring up differing points of view and some charged opinions, the life section has simmered down to monthly updates with varying degrees of Groundhog’s Day (the Bill Murray movie, not the weird shadow day. Though I admit to preferring Emily Blunt in Edge of Tomorrow for a movie about a day without end.)

I volunteered to take November. For those who love Nora’s own voice, I know she’ll be back with an update around the holidays. Today you’ve got the Cranky Publicist.

In Nora’s world, she and BW celebrated her birthday in the 2020 way — lots of virtual love and gifts by mail. Plus a visit from the ever entertaining Griffin and his parents.

C’mon Atticus, show me a downward dog!

Writing-wise, Nora’s immersed in the second book set in the world you’ll meet in The Awakening (out November 24). It’s hard sweaty work to build a world, but I sense it’s also daily respite from the stress of the world where it’s 2020.

Last weekend, Griffin turned 2! (Ok, if I can’t believe it’s November, I’m really having issues with Griffin and two.) He celebrated in fine style with his Nana and Grandda (and those necessary chauffeur parents). Word is he wanted everyone’s cake — especially Mom’s — instead of his own piece.

Yours looks more interesting. Mom!

Time for the first #randomkatness in a very long time! I know long-term readers have asked occasionally about the blanket Kat was knitting for Griffin. I have proof she finished it before the 2nd birthday:

One side…
the other.

In the Cranky Publicist world — outside of Nora responsibilities — my very first solo photo show opened at Gifts Inn BoonsBoro yesterday. When we planned it in January, the opening coincided with TTP’s Halloween signing. While events at TTP are canceled (the store remains open), the talented team at Gifts continues to forge ahead with in-person and virtual exhibits of interesting art from creatives all over the Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania area.

Including, it seems. Me.

As some of you know, I tend to take photos as I go on my daily walks. The pieces I chose for this show feature walks from 2018 until last month. I framed 12 pieces, then made cards and a calendar.

Framed, ready to go.
A selection of cards.
Outside the shop on delivery day.

And all will be on display/online until the end of November. You can see my pieces here.

I’ll close in the best way possible: a sweet little boy on a tree stump. I KNOW you don’t find that every day.

Perfect form.

As always, stay safe, stay well, and be kind.

Laura

Keeping on and keeping up

I imagine that’s what we’re all trying to do as we move into COVID fall.

Around here, we’ve got a routine going, and routines always keep me steadier. I’m writing away, and that always keeps me sane and steady. I recently finished next fall’s In Death—and no! We’re not telling you anything about it yet.

Now I’m working on Book Two of The Dragon Heart Legacy trilogy. Fantasy’s a fun place to go when reality is particularly hard.

Weekends are for cleaning, cooking, baking. Not much gardening recently as herds—and I mean herds—of deer gobbled up at last half my gardens. Nothing stopped them this year—not repellant, not dogs, not whirligigs, not nothing, not no how. Twice I went out and chased about ten away. And we have a good-sized fawn—still spotted—who has come right up to my kitchen window—three times—still chewing on one of my shrubs.

Despite them, I have some bright spots out there.

I’ve harvested, chopped and frozen in ice cube trays my oregano and my basil. I now have a couple of big freezer bags of both for all those soups, sauces and stews I’ll make through fall and winter. Rosemary yet to deal with.

Laura’s branch vase

Snipped a few flowers for the pretty vase Laura made me. The ones with the tiny orange flowers attract hummingbirds so I plant a good flow of them every spring. We have a couple of feeders which they frequent, but I watched one spend at least five full minutes going from one of these tiny flowers to the next the other day. He actually had to fly up to a tree branch to rest for a minute, then came back and did it all again.

They’ll migrate soon, and I’ll miss them over the winter.

We brought in my lemon tree—we’ve had a couple of very cool nights—and I picked the last three lemons of this crop. Sweet!

Lemon harvest


I also had some coleus volunteer in the river rock beside the pot where I plant it every spring. These volunteers must have popped up from seeds blown out from last year. I managed to dig them up and pot them. Am happy to report after a week in the pool house, they’re doing well. Nice houseplants, and a nice reminder of spring and summer.

Coleus ready to winter


And every couple weeks, Jason and Kat and Griffin visit. That’s the real bright spot. He’s such a little boy now, and full of energy and toddler babbling. One of his favorite games is to set up some barrier—a box, a laundry basket, whatever, then chase of be chased around it by one or both of his parents until he just flops down exhausted.

This little man is nearly 2!


Kayla is staying safe in college, and it’s clear from our Face Times (at least once a week) and texting, college agrees with her.

BW stays busy, and this week finished a project I so much wanted. He added lights to the built-ins he built years and years ago. It’s exactly what I wanted, and makes me ridiculously happy.

Cabinets aglow. (And yes that’s a portrait of Nora and BW as Rick and Ilsa.)

Today, heavy sigh, it’s back to the dentist (other than the magical week at The Greenbrier, the only place I’ve gone since March) for two more crowns. My teeth are the nemesis in my mouth. I’ll stop on the way home for a flu shot, then expect to hunker in, once again, likely until spring.

We’ll vote by mail. And here’s your PSA for the day. Vote. Vote safely in person or by mail, vote early if you can, but VOTE. It’s both your right and your responsibility.

That’s really about it from my home front. I’m going to relax in my clean house for awhile!

As always, stay safe.

Nora


Just a little fall from Laura’s neck of the woods.

Bubbles and Breaks

It’s been a long year. When I think of last summer, I think of time spent with friends and family, our wonderful trip to Scotland and Ireland, prepping and hosting our annual summer party.

Seems like another world.

Still, we have a lot to be grateful for around here. It’s been a good spring and summer for the garden, and that gives me a lot of pleasure. I’m seeing hummingbirds–a favorite of mine–almost daily. Work’s going pretty well, and that’s important to me.

Most of all, we’re healthy and safe.

Recently, we expanded our bubble and with much preparation and precautions, took our girl trip (including Griffin) for a week to The Greenbrier. We book a house there, with a private patio–so the six of us (with Griffin as 7) made a bigger bubble.

Having a week away, with girls and the boy (and the ghosts) was just incredible. We didn’t, as we have in the past, go out to dinner, haunt the shops. We just hung out, played cards, sat on the patio, entertained our young male companion. We went for walks–with our masks.

Speaking of bubbles, I got our boy a little bubble maker. A huge hit, and a break-through for a toddler who’s spent about 1/4 of his life now in his own bubble with his parents, in his own home and yard.

Who are all these people???

I brought bubbles and bowling pins, and they really did the trick.

Boy and his bubbles.

The house spirits took to him, big time. In fact, one day when his mom was elsewhere, he had a toddler meltdown, raced down the big hallway on our main level, face-planted.

Life, as he knew it, was over for the moment. As he stayed face-down wailing–not hurt, pissed–I heard a woman’s voice–very calm and soft speak to him from farther down the hall. I thought it was my pal JoAnne, as only she and Sarah–whom I could see right there on the chaise were around. Then I saw Jo come in from the patio.

So, some motherly ghost offered him a little comfort.

They also enjoyed Kayla who joined us for her first adult girl trip. One night she fell asleep watching something on her laptop, earbuds in. When she woke, earbuds still in, her laptop was closed and set safely aside.

She thought I’d done it.

Nope.

Jo and I worked out every morning, then joined the rest of the gang. Hot days at first, but Griffin entertained himself and us with his tub of water, measuring cups and pitchers. The boy loves water, and has most excellent hand/eye coordination.

Busy boy
Popping bubbles

Our highlight was taking two private–just our group–classes. The first on glass-blowing. I’ve always been fascinated with the art, and while eager to try, had low expectations of what I (or really any of us) could do.

Except maybe Kat, because Kat. And possibly Laura who is a crafty girl. But we had the fabulous, skilled and adorable Max as our instructor. No one could have been more delightful, safe and more articulate as a teacher.

Meet Max

Kayla went first, and wanted to make a glass ornament–a globe. I think of them as witch balls. She chose her colors, and Max walked her through the process first, then worked with her on the creation.Stunning really to watch him gather the glass, watch him help her roll it through the colored fragments, watch her blow through the pipe so that globe became.

Kayla rolling glass through color

She did beautifully. And ended up making two.

Sarah wanted to make a paperweight, a different process. She wanted to make on filled with fire. For this, after the gathering and rolling, she sits in the chair, uses tools to pull the hot glass, then fold it back. Max heats it again, she repeats, repeats. It’s amazing. Then with other tools, she shapes it, smooths it, creates a solid ball filled with color.

Sarah pulling glass with the tweezers

In the end, like with Kayla’s, Max holds the pipe over fireproof padding. She taps the pipe (this is after she files the globe from the pipe–or makes that initial cut) and the ball falls into the padding.

It’s put away until it cools.

Laura–ambitious–wants to make a flower. Lots of tools used here, pulling, drawing out the glass, reheating, using big tweezers to shape and shape. Again, and again and you could see it start to become.

Honestly, I had the time of my life just watching.

And her result was just stunning.

My turn. I tell Max I collect paperweights, so I want to make one. And I want to make a garden in it. He helps me choose the colors, walks me through. It’s even more amazing rolling the pipe, gathering the colors, sitting it the chair with those tools. Feeling the glass pull out, fold in. Watching yourself shape that globe.

Nora’s paperweight
Nora finally blowing glass after researching the technique in the 1990’s

We all make two. Oddly, Laura, Sarah and I all have an idea–independently–to create a night sky. They do paperweights, and I want a chance to make a witch ball.

What an experience. Thanks to Max we have the most amazing memories.

The group exhibit
Laura’s flower and paperweight

We also have a private class for glass fusion. Last year we all made windchimes. This time we’re going to choose between making clocks, plates. Kayla wants a plate, and is going for a kind of tie-dye deal. Laura, Sarah and I decide on clocks.

So much fun! Such a variety of styles and visions.

We book another glass blowing class, but this time Kat and Jo will join, and Nana will stay back with Griffin. You probably know this is not a sacrifice for Nana.

Laura and Sarah make vases. Vases!!! Jo finds the idea of that molten glass too scary, so Sarah makes her paperweight. And Kat designs a bowl (free-form and so Kat)–Max is happy to help her with the design, and the result is gorgeous and unique.

Kat’s turn!
Laura’s vase

I have to try the vase deal next year–as those results were also gorgeous–and involve SWINGING the pipe. I have to do that.*

We’re all pretty damn proud of ourselves and our accomplishments.

Best of all, we had a week together. And I had a week with good friends, my treasured daughter-in-law, and my oldest and youngest grandchildren.

Home again, rebooted, refreshed, and re-energized to get back to work, back to the garden, back to the kitchen, back to routine.

And feeling blessed to have found a safe way in these difficult times to gather with my girls and my boy.

Stay safe, stay well.
Nora


*Note from Laura: we only picked up the vases and the fused glass just before departure so I don’t have a shot of Kat’s bowl or Sarah’s vase.

I also spent a lot of time taking photos and here are a couple of my faves.

I told him to hold this pose while I took some photos. He obliged. And didn’t cry, just posed.
Open door from the patio
Gorgeous blooms
Morning

So It’s Summer

If things were usual, we’d be heading out tomorrow for two weeks in Italy—Kayla’s big graduation trip. Bright side of this disappointment, is we’re re-booked to go next year. Something to look forward to.

Meanwhile, our girl has graduated, with honors, and they were able to hold a safe and lovely outdoor ceremony. I’m so glad she got that moment in cap and gown. Though her prom was canceled, she dressed herself up in her gorgeous dress for pictures.

Congratulations!
Elegant in aubergine.

Since we’ve all been staying home, we decided we could merge our bubbles with Jason, Kat and Griffin last weekend. It was beyond wonderful to see them all again, have some time together. A full fifth of Griffin’s life has been spent at home, with just Mom and Dad. A long, long time.

I could see memories click, bit by bit, and though it took him time to start warming up to Nana again, by Monday morning before they headed out, we got there.

The boy loves water in all forms. Nana bribed him with the hose. Nana is no fool!

If you press here….

This happens!

And he loved just walking around outside—took his Dad on several adventures. Sunday night the three of us walked out so he could see the solar lights glowing. Jason took one of my all-time favorite pictures of Griffin staring up at the magic ball I got last year at Greenbrier.

Wonder

Otherwise, it’s routine, routine, and more routine around here. Cooking, working out, cleaning, writing, gardening. And the annual Deer Wars. I was just out weeding and saw they’ve come right up the drive at the back of my house, mowing down Black-Eyed Susans and Purple Cone Flowers.

My dogs are useless here apparently.

Worse, they’re still (or Parker is) nosing in my pots. Despite hot sauce, red pepper flakes, vinegar soaked coffee filters.

Another battle in another war.

Still, the gardens look lovely—especially if I squint when I pass the damage. And my hydrangeas are absolutely awesome this year.

We continue to stay home, rarely venturing out. We did participate in the very peaceful—100% masked—protest in Boonsboro. I’ve lived here for decades, and believe this is a first. About a hundred people gathered for it, and that‘ s huge for a small rural town.

So that makes three times I’ve left the property since March 8–the others being dentist appointments. And all good there for now!!

Today with the weekend cleaning and cooking and baking and gardening done, I’m either sitting down to proof galleys or to give myself a break and read someone else’s book.

Stay safe, stay well, enjoy the flowers and the long, bright days of summer.

Nora

Staying Home

For those of us who aren’t essential workers, we’ve been doing a lot of at home this spring. Normally, that’s my favorite thing, but even for me this has become pretty surreal.

I know a lot of areas and businesses are opening. I hope everyone who does venture out is staying smart, staying safe, and doing everything possible to protect themselves, their families, and everyone else.

We really are all in this together.

I have my work, and am so lucky to be able to do work I love safely in my own house. I have lots of outdoor space–a huge boon–and the gardening.

Though I’m incredibly tired of all the rain!

But even with those blessings, I need distractions, activities, occupations outside the keyboard.

So I cook, and I bake, and BW and I clean like maniacs every Saturday. Having the house clean and ordered helps keep my stress level low.

I do some more serious cooking on weekends, too.

Soups–the latest, tortilla soup for me and BW, a veggie bean and pasta for Kayla. I made my pal Ruth’s Party Potatoes as Kayla and BW both especially love. So half went down the lane.

I made my mother’s pound cake, made cream puffs, because sweet and fun is a good antidote to worry.

Cream puffs

I tried my hand at tomato/basil risotto for Kayla. It worked! Yesterday, it was lasagna.

Risotto

I’ve baked bread, and learned Jason has taken up bread baking. BWscanned him my recipe for Italian bread–another for his new repertoire. I may do a focaccia later today.

The gardens give me incredible pleasure. However, a few days ago, I’m at my keyboard, BW is working outside. I hear him yelling. I assume one of the dogs has–despite our deterrents (soak coffee filters in vinegar or ammonia, let dry thoroughly, cut into strips, lay in the pots) dug in one of the planters.

He yells again, and a third time, which makes me think: Is he calling for help? Jeez! So out I go, hoping I don’t have to call 911.

BW’s fine, but furious. Parker hadn’t dug in a planter, he’d jumped up in one of the raised beds and gone mad. Just wild and crazy digging. Not just the plants, but dug so far down so fast he broke the underground sprinkler pipe, ripped out wires for the wall lights, and made a horrible mess of things.

So . . . He’s lucky we didn’t find a brick to bash him with!

Sprinkler guy was able to fix the pipe, BW was able to fix the light and is currently fixing the wires. We’ve piled in more dirt, and may save some of the plants. I’ll do what I can to transfer others.

And have googled home made dog repellent spray, and will make that up.

We can call Parker’s digging a very big distraction!

And no, it wasn’t moles. He wasn’t after some critter. He just decided to go for it. Such is the life of a gardener with dogs.

Other than that spot, everything looks amazing. It’s soothing and satisfying to walk around after a day of work. And we’ll fix what our canine ditch digger wrought.

Then there’s books to read, movies to watch, shows to binge. Good distractions all.

I’ve now colored my hair myself a second time. It’s ratty and shaggy and long enough to pull back in a tail. Coloring’s one thing–attempting to snip at it, a bit other thing. A line I won’t cross. *

I very much miss Harold!

I watch the videos or smile at the photos Jason and Kat send me of Griffin. I can’t find the words to express how I miss my kids, my grandchildren.

But I know they’re all safe and well, and that means everything right now.

I hope you’re all finding distractions, pleasures, maybe exploring a new interest or hobby as we go through this together/apart. I hope all of you, and all of yours, are safe and well and find blessings to count.

On behalf of me and mine, we send all our thanks on this Memorial Day to those who served, who have served, to their families for all they do, all they sacrifice so we’re safe at home.

Nora


*Laura will cross it.

Cut it all off.

Stay Home, Stay Safe

I know it’s hard. We miss our families, our friends, our freedom to go to the movies, a restaurant, go shopping, have a drink in a bar, work out in our gym, go to the beach or the park–and so many ordinary things we all took for granted.

But.

There are so many people–and some are friends, some are family–who have to go out, every day, to tend the sick, to deliver the mail, to drive the trucks that bring food, to work in grocery stores, to prepare the take-out, to clean, to provide us with safety, care and essentials.

For them, we stay home.

For our kids we stay home. For our parents, for our neighbors.

I know I’m fortunate to be able to work at home, to have land around me so I can go outside without putting myself or anyone at risk. I know there are many, many who aren’t as fortunate.

And still, even for the fortunate, it all wears down, stresses out, this constant repeat of days.

For me, staying busy really helps. It took me awhile to find my writing rhythm again. The minute I’d open my mind, it will fill with worry. But I sat at the keyboard every day, as usual, and kept trying. And I had a pretty decent writing week this week, so that eases the stress.

Doesn’t matter if most of what I wrote is probably crap. It’s words on the page, and the pushing back into the habit. I’ll eventually fix the crap.

Weekends around here have a new kind of routine. Maniacal cleaning. Scrubbing, sanitizing, polishing. (I’m sure I don’t have to add disinfectant is for cleaning, not injecting or ingesting–but I’ll say it anyway.)

BW and I have worked out a loose division of chores–which change as needs demand. It’s working just fine.

I’m holding on strongly to the belief that a clean house is a healthy one. If this is true, we’re very healthy here!

Then there’s cooking. At BW’s request I made spaghetti and meatballs yesterday. And while I was at it, I put together a kitchen sink vegetable soup for Kayla–enough to share with her family if anyone else is interested.

Red sauce with meatballs
Kayla’s soup

Busy and yummy work.

So Saturday was…

Strip the bed and get the laundry started. Get the workout in early because the day’s packed. Scrub down two bathrooms–BW took the third. Keep at the laundry–a shared chore. Make meatballs, make red sauce, make soup, get it all simmering. Scrub down the kitchen. Dust and polish furniture–we’ve got a LOT of wood in this house, and that’s another shared chore.

By the time I’m done, BW’s already working outside. And when I finish, I can go out, too, and get my hands in the dirt. Start putting in more flowers–wonderfully delivered by my beautiful local nursery.

Post delivery, flowers at the ready

This is joy–hard work, but just joy. It’s therapeutic, and satisfying, and you can’t think hard, worrying thoughts when you’re planting a faerie garden.

Coleus in solar pot — it lights up at night!

I can only give it about four hours due to the inside work, but it’s a lovely start. Today’s cool and rainy–the flowers will like that, but no gardening today.

And as I’m boiling pasta, Kat FaceTimes so I get to see her and Jason and Griffin. That boy is definitely living his best life right now, everything is happy, is parents are at his beck. And he waves and blows kisses at the end.

I can also see him whenever I like due to the pictures and videos Kat and Jason post daily. Not the same, of course, but a tremendous lift to the spirit. My favorite, so far, is his uncontrollable giggles over a Sesame Street segment where every time Elmo sneezes, the seasons change. He tries to pretend to sneeze like Elmo and laughs and laughs.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve watched it.

My oldest grandson, Logan, turned 16 on Thursday. Hard, hard, hard not to see him, celebrate with him. We’ll make up for it when the world’s sane again.

Today, I’m making my mother’s pound cake–a family favorite. I’ll send half of it down the hill for Logan and family.

My workout’s done, and when I finish this blog, I’ll bake that cake. And since it’s raining, since my house is clean, I’m going to settle in with a book.

I hope all of you are safe and well, those of you at home, those of you on the front lines. And I hope you find the things–so many of them simple and ordinary–that bring you peace and some joy.

Nora

Be Strong, Stay Safe

This is a terrible and scary time. Most of us have to stay in our homes, losing the freedom of movement and society we’ve all taken for granted, well, forever. But we give up that basic freedom for the good of all. For our families and friends and neighbors. For strangers we’ll never meet.

Not all of us can stay home and safe, and we need to thank all those on the front lines. The doctors, nurses, interns, the lab techs, cleaning services, maintenance people, support staff in hospitals and clinics everywhere.

They’re heroes.

The cops, the firefighters, the truck drivers and delivery people, the mail carriers and all who leave the safety of home to help and protect us are heroes.

We have staff at Vesta and Turn The Page and Gifts going to work on limited hours to provide food for take-out, on line ordering for books and other things that make life for those of us at home easier and more bearable. At FIT, our Renee is streaming yoga videos from her home to keep that connection, to offer ways to relax. Our inn staff is doing videos of room tours, and posting on FB to, again, keep that connection, offer something to help people get out of their own heads for just a little while.

Heroes.

The teachers doing their best to send out lesson plans, to keep our children from losing progress, to keep their minds occupied, more heroes.

The child care providers tending children so those medical and essential people can do their jobs, just more heroes.

For myself, staying home is natural to me—but . . . I miss my grandchildren, I miss spending a fun week with my girl pals. And, like all of us, I worry.

Kayla’s missing the best part of her senior year—her last chance to run competitively, her prom, her moment of walking across the stage for her diploma. And the trip we planned for this summer, taking her to Italy.

And this sweet, smart, strong young woman is handling these deep disappointments without complaint. She’s sad, but knows how lucky she is—she told me so—to have a home, to have internet, to have books and movies, a family right there.

She’s one of my heroes, too.

I mourn for Italy, one of my favorites places in the world. I have dear, dear friends in New York, and am sick what this virus is doing to a city I love. I have friends with underlying conditions, with elderly parents, with young children.

I light candles—that’s my way of sending out light and hope and strength.

I have my home, my work—plenty of food and alcoholic beverages. I work out daily—it helps gets me out of my head. I have books, I stream movies—and when watching the news gets too much, I switch on HGTV, or turn to a book or movie.

A kitchen view

When the weather warms, BW and I can do yard work, something we both enjoy. I hope we can get annuals to fill out the beds, but if not (after my sad) I can divide and plug perennials into empty spaces.

I walked around outside—it’s brisk but sunny out there today—and took pictures of blooming things. It helps remind me that seasons change, hope springs, and we have to look for beauty to find it even in horrible times.

The Tulip Magnolia

Last fall I sliced a tomato, stuck it in a pot. And today, I picked the first perfect little ripe tomato. I’m going to send it down the lane with Kayla—she’s bringing me a few back-up groceries after her mom gets to the store.

Tomato.

Yesterday I made chocolate chip cookies, so my treasures down the hill can have that little bit of love from me.

Later today we’re FaceTiming with Jason, Kat and Griffin. They send pictures and videos, and I gobble them up every day.

This virus is a bastard, and we all have to take it very seriously. We have to protect each other. I hope you, too, can find little things to do to help push away the worry for awhile. Spring cleaning, crafting, books, movies, keeping in touch with friends and family, playing games, baking, whatever works. Do something to ease your mind while you stay safe and strong.

I read a story about a young man who heard an elderly couple in the grocery store say there was no more bread. He told them to take the loaf he had in his cart. Heroism can be just that simple.

Social distancing doesn’t mean we stop caring. It shows we care enough to give up those freedoms, that movement, those activities to protect others.

This is long and rambling, but heartfelt. Stay safe, wash your hands (We’re going through soap and lotion like crazy here!), be loving enough to keep your distance so we can all hug again one day.

I’m lighting candles for all of you.

Nora


Note from Laura: With so many people away from their regular routines, I think this is the right week to start the FITS book discussions. I will start a post with the first graphic and add to it as the week passes (like I do with the teasers for the In Deaths). I’ll be using graphics some of you may have seen on Facebook because I have a backlog of them.

The first book we’ll discuss is Birthright. Look for a Monday morning post.

I’m saving my particular sanity with walks and photos every day. If you like to look at calming scenery, you’ll see them at https://www.instagram.com/lmreeth/

Frederick MD skyline.

Really nothing much

Winter queen Nora as fashioned by the fabulous Turn the Page Staff. The real Nora is staying home.

I haven’t blogged in awhile mostly because I’ve had my nose to the grindstone both professionally and domestically. So it’s pretty much boring, as in:

Get up, go to work. Check the news on the world maybe. Realize the news in the world sucks a lot. Go back to work. Finish work, go work out. Sweat is good!

Talk to BW. Perhaps have a drink with BW because I’ve had a righteous day. Eat. Sign books or do galleys if necessary. Watch something on TV as brain is very tired. So is body. Go to bed.

Get up, repeat.

On weekends, continue the full house purge–no excuses!–until it’s finally, finally, FINALLY complete. Bake bread, make soup or whatever. Shovel out the rest of the house.

Oh, a couple of dentist appointments in there. My teeth are my bane.
A couple of family dinners–with at least some on the menu geared toward our vegetarian.

Oh, a nice visit from same over a weekend when she stayed with us. Movies, on-line shopping for (gulp!) a graduation dress. And it’s so pretty on her, too! Help with purging is always welcome. Much happy conversation about college. When Kayla leaves the end of August, I’ll miss that girl like a limb.

Kayla visited her college a couple of weeks ago. She’ll be able to visit Nana in the library!

A delightful family Sunday including the constantly happy Griffin. He definitely likes Nana’s spaghetti. I don’t know if Laura can grab the shot of him off FB–I have no clue how to–but it’s classic.

Guess what? Laura knew how. Classic.

Work, more work–my favorite routine is sticking well over this period. I love getting solid, uninterrupted writing days, then sweating it off, getting my house in order and spending time in the kitchen on weekends. It’s my perfect balance.

Tomorrow I plan to go out into the world (or at least Boonsboro) for the first time–excluding the dentist–since . . . jeez, I think the February signing. I believe that’s correct.

The inn’s having an art show with one of my very favorite artists, Claire Hardy. Since I’ve just redone our bedroom I believe I have a spot for a new painting.

Flowers by Claire Hardy.

Then, my hope is to continue to basic and boring right up to the girl spa in April.

Then spring happens. I’ll be ready for it!

Nora