Category Archives: grandkids

Cozumel, Day 6

A day at home for me. Apparently I slept through a storm last night, and this morning clouds rolls in, roll out. A quick shower, sunshine, a sudden hard rain with the sun beaming. Then sunshine alone.

Inside, Griffin challenges Nana to a chase. But he’s changed the rules! Now as I chase, he can turn and shoot fire at me. I counter with a hose, but it’s no match for his inferno. He leads me to the kitchen where it seems I’m trapped.

Griffin explains the rules to his Nana. Photo by Kat

I escape.

Watching me, he circles the dining room chairs, then takes my hand and leads me inside the blockade. I appear to be in jail.

Jail break! Wild chase. I am recaptured. Multiple times. You can’t escape the long arm of The Griffin.

Logan’s still feeling yesterday’s boat ride, so taking it easy in his room. Nana makes him a sandwich.

A group heads to the store for supplies for tonight’s dinner, and I head upstairs to work awhile.

Work’s done. Groceries hauled in. We’re adding chicken to the menu as the fish won’t be quite enough.

The three oldest kids and I settle into a game of Hearts.

When it’s time for me to marinate the chicken, Kat takes over for me. When it’s time for her to peel carrots, Jason takes over for her. Despite the tag team, Kayla wins.

Jason’s turn to fill in. Photo by Nora.

Rosemary was not to be found at the store, so I make do with thyme and oregano. Carrots are in. Kat scrubs and halves the pretty potatoes, and in they go.

Kayla and Colt play some Mario Cart which always entertains Griffin.

I give the carrots and potatoes a good start before I pull out the chicken. Oil in the skillet, then Kat’s finely minced garlic, some herbs and spices. No white wine handy, but we’ll make do again.

Roasting. Photo by Nora.

The gang clears and sets the table, and while the chicken’s sautéing, I tackle the fish BW filleted and Kayla makes some Mac and cheese. BW slices a pretty baguette.

Finished fish. Photo by BW.
dinner’s ready. Photo by BW.

And there we are, a hearty, home meal. Fish eaters declare the fish good—which is a relief to the cook! And yes, as I sample, it’s pretty tasty.  Plenty of food for all, and no complaints.

Cooks are excused from clean up, as is the house rule wherever I happen to be the cook!

But the cook isn’t excused from Chase! Whew!

When the boy settles down, the rest of us—after a tutorial by Logan—play Texas Hold ‘em. Fun. And Jason who rarely has luck at cards wins the first two hands. Handily.

Wins and losses, near misses and sneaky bluffs. In the end, I come out five fake dollars ahead. I think BW and Kat are the big winners, wiping out Colt and Logan while Jason and Kayla came close to breaking even.

So a game-filled, food-filled day at home.

Cloudy this morning, but it seems to be lifting as a breeze comes up.

Kayla’s boyfriend, JR, is flying in this afternoon to spend the next week with us. Not sure what other plans are, but there was talk of doing the Italian restaurant for dinner, and BW said something about driving down to the lighthouse.

I’m at a place in the work where I’d like another couple hours before the weekend. But I’m flexible there if any plans solidify.


Cozumel, Day 5

As our Kat isn’t feeling well, Jason designates himself our chauffeur for shopping while the guys head off to fish. Kayla has enough Spanish to explain to housekeeping not to open the door to Kat’s bedroom as she’s resting.

Before we head out we have a quick game of Daddy Gate.

While Jason, Kayla, Griffin and I are getting ready to go, Griffin spies Colt’s blue icing cupcake on the counter. And he wants it bad. Blue cupcake! He doesn’t cry or even whine, doesn’t melt down or throw a tantrum. He just repeats. Blue Cupcake!

We promise we will get him one while we’re out so he’s okay with going. He takes a little spill on the gravel outside, looks up at me as he gets up, and says: That was a close one.

The kid makes me laugh a lot.

On the drive, he and Kayla have a very fine time in the back seat.

We get to the shopping area, which is lined with little shops and stalls, and boy, are the merchants hungry for shoppers! We’re told the cruise ship passengers flood in about one—we’ve got just over two hours before that flood, so we’re good.

I’m after my traditional I’m Away Christmas Shopping. In the first shop I try, I do find a couple things, but the merchants are just too helpful, to put it mildly. I like to poke and browse and consider, but they insist on showing me this, and that, and things I’m not really looking for.

So I take what I did find, and we move on. Lots and lots of shop choices, and as we breeze through one, Griffin spots a Peppa Pig toy that’s just at his level. He’s dealt with the shopping so far without complaint (Blue Cupcake ahead!) so Nana indulges.

Another shop where the merchant is friendly, but not pushy, at all. And there I feel we made his morning. Left to ourselves, I find several gifts, and he offers a good price. Jason finds a lovely birthday present for Kat.

And while we’re waiting for them to bag all the pieces, there’s a show about to begin out in the plaza.

Out we go to watch acrobats, young men in native costumes. They climb up a very high pole, and descend part way and circle—hanging upside down—from ropes. Around and around, pretty high up, while one plays a flute. It’s impressive, dizzying and a little bit scary.

Climbin up. Photo by Kayla.
Mid spin. Photo by j a-b

We park in the garage, which Griffin decides is haunted. He spots ghosts, a vampire!, more ghosts.

In and up we go. They check your purses and bags at security. Not sure why, but fine. The bakery has the blue cupcakes. Final Mission Accomplished!

And back through the haunted garage. More hilarity from the backseat on the drive.

I reward myself for a good shopping job with a Bellini, and Griffin settles down with his Blue Cupcake. Jason goes to check on Kat.

I run up to put gifts away, and while I’m gone, Kayla attempted to wipe the blue mustache from Griffin’s face. He responded, as she showed me, by doing the boy thing. Swiping his sleeve over his face. So he now sports a blue icing sleeve, and a blue beard, and is fully enjoying the cupcake.

A boy and his cupcake. Photo by Nora.

I decide it’s too late to start any work—and I’ll earmark time for that tomorrow. I read instead until the fishing crew returns.

With three red snappers.

Okay, good job! But do not present me with fish that still have their heads. I ain’t touching that. Kayla, the vegetarian, and I have similar reactions.

We learn nothing was biting for quite some time, and there was a four-five foot roll. Colt and Logan got pretty seasick, but Colt rebounded and caught a snapper.

Colt and his catch. Photo by BW.
Logan, chillaxing. Photo by BW.
O Captain, my captain. Photo by BW.

I don’t have the supplies to deal with the fish—which someone else will have to dehead and filet (the tour guys cleaned them). But I make a list, so it’ll be back to the mega store for the spices, and potatoes, more carrots for sides I’ll make. I figure I’ll sauté the filets, roast potatoes and carrots. They can pick up some nice bread. That should do it. We’ll see how that goes tonight.

But for dinner, we head into town—with Kat who’s feeling rough, but better. Drinks, Nachos, soup for Kat. I order a rib eye—haven’t had any red meat in quite some time.

It’s really good, and really big. BW polishes off what I couldn’t manage.

We miss sunset, but there’s still time for Nana and Griffin chases apparently, and more Daddy Gate.

I sit out for just a bit and watch the crescent moon and the star that dogs it.

Up early, so since I conquered the strange-to-me-oven, I make bacon for the bacon lovers before my workout.

Today, for me, is put in some writing time, then make a meal. Yeah, we’ll see how both of those go.


Cozumel, Day 4

We experience, and test our mettle with, a day without power.

No AC, no water, no internet, no nothing!

Our hopes that this will be a quick fix are dashed. It’s island wide.

So we have the pool, we have the Gulf, we have books and toys and cards. And make use of all.

I finish the last fifteen minutes of my workout with an admittedly lazy swim. It felt just fine!

We have bread, cheese, crackers, peanut butter and jelly, chips, fruit. Nobody starves. Lots of drinks, including big jugs of filtered water. No one will die of thirst.

Griffin’s disappointed he can’t go on-line for his usual morning entertainment, but as a child of the internet, he gets it.

I read awhile, watch Kayla paddle board awhile. Colt asks me to teach him another card game.

Gin Rummy it is! After a couple of open hands to explain, he proceeds to kick my butt. I’m pretty good at Gin. I feel he’s going to be better at it.

We keep the patio accordion doors all the way open, and open the front door. There’s a blessed cross-breeze. It’s not nearly as hot as it has been, so we can be grateful there.

But by late afternoon it’s starting to get pretty steamy.

I make a big salad. Washing everything with our filtered jug water. Jason uses the gas stove top to make boxed Mac and cheese. BW does hot dogs on the grill. I do some raw veg with some Ranch dressing, some cheese and crackers. Again, no one starves.

Jason and the older kids head to the store—more ice. We have a cooler and can store some of the perishables in there if the power stays off much longer. They buy a couple more flashlights and candles—in case.

As it’s Kat’s birthday we have cake—and some very soft ice cream.

Birthday ice cream! Photo by j a-b

Griffin decides on a combo of chase and the locked-gate game we play at home. Jason becomes a gate at the library door and locks us in. We have to find the right color key—which Griffin chooses by some color on a book cover or something on my library shelves.

In this version Jason is the gate that locks me on the other side of Griffin. I have to find the right color key, unlock the gate, and give chase.

Hey, it worked off dinner.

The end of the day. Photo by Nora.

And suddenly, just after 8, boom! Power! There is joy and jubilation throughout the land.

Close the doors and feel the cool start to happen. Plug in all devices that weren’t. And bless him, Jason does the mountain of dishes.

When I head up, I take the little flashlight I carry in my purse and put it on the nightstand, light a candle, in case.

And boom, power goes down. Oh, the moans! The curses! I use the candle to find the flashlight, start to head down to help any who need it. And boom, it’s back on. Whew.

Tiny moon among the trees. Photo by Nora.

And so far it’s stayed on.

This morning the guys are heading out on a boat/fishing trip. The girls and Griffin are going to drive into town and check out the shopping.

But that’s after, I hope, a full workout AND a shower!


Cozumel Day 3

The three oldest kids and BW try out the Gulf. What fun—for them, and for me to watch. The practicing snorkeling in the pool worked great. Kayla, however, goes in, comes out and ditches her mask. She decides she’d rather not know those fish are in there!

Kayla and her grandda. Photo by Nora.

Logan finds a conch shell with an occupant. Very cool! And puts it back in its watery home.

Beach meeting. Photo by j a-b

There are kayaks and a standing paddle board. All are put to good use. Those kids are good! Excursion boats fly by, making a nice wake for the water play.

A very fun way to spend a chunk of the morning.

We’re thinking since Griffin has his float jacket, he might like to try a dip there later this week. We’ll see.

Housekeeping’s here, so I read outside awhile. When they’re finished in the room I’m using to work out, and will use to work, I go up, and travel from Mexico to New York in 2061.

I put in a hour and a half, am well satisfied. And the screen freezes. This has happened once or twice in the past, but THIS time I neglected to copy from my thumb drive to the hard drive, then work on that. Just a mental blip that cost me 90 minutes work because it’s gone, baby, gone.

I have to come down, pour myself a drink and take some good, deep breaths.

While I was working, Kat, Jason, Colt and Griffin have gone out to take a submarine ride. But I can whine to BW, Kayla, Logan, and do.

Then I put on my big girl pants, go back up and reconstruct. I tell myself this is probably better anyway. Come down, reward myself with a Bellini, then bang—something flashes in my brain and I realize I can add just this revelation—Eve’s—to the end of the chapter.

Well, you don’t waste that kind of flash, so back up yet again and finish it out. So maybe that annoying 90 loss was worth it in the end.

Everybody’s back and had a fine time on their underwater excursion. There’s pool time, reading time, hang out time before we clean up for dinner.

A drive into town and another open-air restaurant with two for one drinks. Ho boy!

Family meal. Photo by j a-b

Super nachos for the table, and another big ho boy. HUGE. And yum.

Big ass nachos. Photo by j a-b.

There’s a band here, and though they’re a little loud to allow conversation, they’re good, and they’re fun. Chips come with two kinds of sauce—mild and burn your tongue off. I am alone in enjoying the burn your tongue off.

Sunset by Kayla.

At home BW, Jason, Kayla, Colt and I play some poker. Kayla’s getting it pretty good as we pretend bet from a penny to a million dollars.

A fine meal in a lively place with more awesome views. Can’t ask for better.

Shortly after, I follow Logan’s example and give it up for the night.

It seems I slept through the power outage. BW had settled down to read, but luckily had a flash light. Jason and Kat were about to take Griffin to the other villa for bed time—and Jason got the flashlight from the kitchen. Colt and Kayla used their phones to get back here.

BW tells me the dark was DARK, and brought the stars to brilliance.

A couple hours later, it came back on, and I never knew the difference.

Up just before the sun to enjoy the birds and that slowly creeping light.  Nice quiet start to my day. I’m about two-thirds done with my workout, and the screen freezes. Not just the internet. Power’s down again.

We’re fortunate it’s not blazing hot—at least not yet.

We’ll hope the outage doesn’t last too long, but there’s the pool, there’s the Gulf. I think we’ll manage.


Cozumel Day 2

The view. Photo by Kayla.

A fine day had by all. Some lazing around, some swimming.

Part of the gang hits the grocery store for the big run. While they’re out I teach Colt 5-Card Draw. Every boy should have this skill—and every girl, too, so we’ll teach Kayla.

Grandda comes out and we switch to 7-Card Stud.

When the gang comes back, we’re loaded. Lots of food to put away, and now nobody should be hungry!

Griffin picked out a pool toy—a big Orca float. This proves fun for all. Logan and Colt practice snorkeling in the pool to get a handle on it before trying the Gulf tomorrow.

Resting before pool time. Photo by Kat.
A new friend! Photo by Nora.
Snorkel prep and whale riding. Photo by Nora.

The neighbors are having a fine time, too. I hear lots of kids laughing. Nice someone’s enjoying themselves as much as we are.

I think it’s more getting our bearings, setting things up, figuring out a routine-ish, learning where everything is. And appreciating the lovely views.

We gather ourselves and head to a restaurant in town. I spot the shopping area we’ll hit on whatever turns out to be shopping day.

Dinner with a view. Photo by j a-b.

Fun restaurant, terrific water view and seriously good menu. Again, no one will be hungry! It’s two for one drinks. Logan and I—18’s the legal drinking age—order margaritas and Kayla a banana daiquiri. Didn’t realize we’re getting two drinks so we’ve got a lot! Jason takes a margarita. They’re excellent!

Hanging out. Photo by j a-b.

Logan and I appear to be in solidarity as we both order the grilled lobster. Beside me, Colt goes for a steak burrito. Not sure what everyone else ordered, but everybody was happy. Ice cream for dessert, but I try the flan. And it’s just fine!

Colt, waiting for his burrito. Photo by Nora.

I all but waddle out to the car.

After dinner sib group shot, Kayla, Logan and Cold. Photo by Kayla

Back home for some sunset picks—low clouds block the sun, but the sky turns into a painting of pinks and golds with orange highlights.

Sunset show. Photo by BW.
Sunset show, Nora’s version.

Griffin has some ice cream and entertains me with an on-line game that amuses the crap out of him. And Kat gives Logan a kitchen haircut at his request. Good job!

Another early night. The heat’ll do that.

Up early, enjoy the birds—a yellow warbler watches me as I watch him.

Logan’s already up, made his breakfast and coffee. Taking an early dip while I figure out how to work the oven. First challenge, translate centigrade—-but BW has his tablet handy. Then figuring out the symbols. BW and I both try various things, and I’m about to give up when I finally hit on it. Bacon will happen!

It takes longer than at home where it’s put the parchment paper lined sheet in a cold oven, turn it to 400 degrees for 20 minutes. It takes about 30, but I’ll adjust for it next time. And still a little floppy.

Time to work out, get cleaned up, and see what the day brings.


Cozumel – Day 1

Cozumel in sight. Photo by Kayla.

We take off for Mexico on a wonderfully clear day. Always a relief for me when flying. On this trip, we’re eight. BW, me, Jason, Kat, and all the grandkids—Kayla, Logan, Colt, Griffin.

Nora watching the approach. Photo by Kayla.

It’s not only Colt’s first trip out of the country, but his first plane ride. He handled it more than well. At take off, as usual, Griffin starts grinning—he’s a plane vet. Going super fast, and up, up, up.

Grandda and a cool Colt. Photo by Kayla.

We have some snacks, then Logan brings out cards. He wants Poker, Kayla wants Hearts. We end up with Hearts—Kayla, Logan, Colt and me—because Poker seems too complicated for those (K&C) who have no idea how to play. Plus Logan’s only Poker is Texas Hole ‘Em, which I can’t remember how to play.

I hope to teach them all 5-card draw on this trip.

Kayla and I watch Logan and Colt play Chess on another of Logan’s portable game deals.

Colt and Logan Photo by Kayla.

Games pass time well, and really before you know it, we’re on our way down.

It was clear and warm in MD when we left some 3 hours ago, and clear and HOT in Cozumel. I can soak that heat right in!

Through Customs, through the airport, and Kayla, Logan, Colt and I wait with the luggage while the others hike across the parking lot to where our rental car company’s based. Two cars due to eight people and a serious mountain of luggage.

Waiting with Nana and the luggage. Photo by NR.

We pack it in, people and luggage, and wind our way through town. Busy! A tree limb, good-sized, falls into the road in front of the truck in front of us. Guy gets out, hauls it over to the little central island.

I guess it happens.

We arrive at our home-away from home for the next couple of weeks. We have two villas—right beside each other. So it’s take a tour through, decide who stays where. Everyone wants a view, and everyone can have one!

Walk around—we have two pools, a hot tub and best of all a view of the Gulf, and a lovely little pergola on one side, a little roofed hut on the other for sitting by the water, or making your way down to it to swim, snorkel or kayak.

Everything is very blue and very green, with splashes and flashes of red from flowers.

Haul luggage, start the unpacking process.

One issue: The company was supposed to stock one of the villas—where we’ll gather as a family-with food and drink as outlined on the list provided. And someone didn’t get the memo.

Now we have some hungry people!

Off go BW, Jason, Logan for emergency groceries and a take-out meal from an Italian place. A lot of restaurants close at five on weekends, but this one has longer hours.

Everybody in the pool! Photo by Nora.

Meanwhile Kat, Colt, Griffin, then Kayla try out the pool. Water’s warm. Kat says it’s the best pool ever. There’s a wide ledge where Griffin can stand—he steps off it once, and under he goes.

Griffin and Colt. Photo by Nora.

Colt hauls him back up. I’m pleased our boy didn’t freak at the dunking, but just carried on.

A black bird drinks from the shallow end. Being a bird’s thirsty work.

Emergency food arrives, so we eat at the big, live-edged dining table. That’s better!

Big grocery run today, but there’s enough to sustain all until.

Jason and Kat set up the Switch in the living room, and it’s Kayla v Colt in Mario.

BW and I sit down by the water as the sun gets lower. Perfect weather now—warm, a little breezy. The gang—sans Logan who’s crashed in bed—comes down. We admire the sunset, watch the boats ply the water.

Sunset. Photo by Kayla.

Travel days wear you out so it’s not long until the rest of us follow Logan’s example.

Evening boat ride. Photo by Nora.

I’m up early, sit out on our little balcony and watch the world slowly wake. That starts with a lot of very happy birds. It’s pretty sweet to wake and not immediately think of work or duties.

I have an unoccupied room for workouts, so take advantage of that. I give it about 20 minutes on the balcony before even I have to say: Too hot for this.

I finish up inside.

Get myself a shower, get myself dressed. I could hear Griffin’s arrival during my workout. BW comes up and tells me he and the boy played several games.

I find Logan in the kitchen, making eggs for his breakfast. I like a grandson who cooks!

BW went down to snorkel, and I choose a book.

Logan’s had a turn in the pool, and Kayla must still be sleeping.

Another black bird, or the same one, used that shallow end as a birdbath for a bit. Hot and thirsty!

The gang’s about to take off for the grocery run, and I believe I’ll sit down in the shade outside and read.

It’s so lovely, such a blessing, to be able to take a trip like this with so much family.


Girls Just Wanna Have Fun

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.

We were greeted with a Derbt hat in the lobby.

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.

Stupid Scoreboard

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.

Hilarity ensues.

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.

Okay then.

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.

Group art.

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.

Just another night of games.

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.

See you next year Stupid Scoreboard

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.

As we left, the lobby was transforming into the summer look


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.)

Early dinner.

**I went to the other hotel a couple times for lunch.

Derby Hat in the Falling Rock lobby.

*** 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.

Back row: Elaine, Nora, Kayla, JoAnne, Pat and me/Front row: Sarah, Nicole, Jeannette, Kat and Kathy Mazur

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.

The lone tree
Floral displays
…and the f’ing wings

Welcome Spring!

First, it’s been a very long gap on the blog due to reasons. But we’re back!

There’s been a whole bunch going on in the last week or so, and I hope you’ll read the previous blog and consider a donation to EveryLibrary Institute, an organization that fights book banning and library defunding. I can’t stress enough how important I consider this fight for the freedom to read what you choose. And to keep libraries open and thriving.

This isn’t just about my books, and I joined this fight awhile ago. It’s about LGBTQ readers having the right to access books that tell stories with characters who deal with the issues they deal with—and YES, this includes teens. Maybe especially. It’s about books that deal with Black history and the experiences of people of color. It’s about attacking librarians and refusing to let them do the work they’re trained to do. It’s about the right to read what we like without having one person’s opinions and feelings outweigh that right.

As lovers of books, this is your fight, too. Donate. If you can’t, spread the word. You’re on social media or you wouldn’t be reading this. Use social media to stand against the bullies and bigots, and the misinformed.

Now for something happy!

A couple weeks ago, BW and I prepped the garden beds. Prepping included digging out ten million Black-Eyed Susans. I enjoy Susies, but they tend to spread insanely and take over. So we dug, and we dug, and we transplanted where we wanted them to stay.

The happy for me is this cleared more space. So I could get more plants!

And last Friday, I took off work and we headed to our fabulous garden center, Sunny Meadows. It’s so wonderful there, so pleasant, so beautiful. So many pretties, so well tended, to choose from.

We filled the bed of the truck, and then some.

All the flowers. Photo by BW.

Then, more fun! I spent considerable time setting out, shifting, looking over, changing my mind, setting elsewhere until I had what I wanted.

Now dig!

We spent the whole day doing just that. A gorgeous day, a laborious day, a very, very satisfying day. How I love taking a walk after and seeing the color, the textures, the possibilities.

They didn’t have my precious nasturtiums, but they had seeds! Now I wait for them to start popping up.

They called for rain, and as I’m planting, I ask the Higher Power to just give me more time. Just a little more. Can I have another hour?

And minutes after the job is done, the rain comes. So perfect, and now all the new plants get a good drink!

Saturday, I started on pots. I really didn’t realize I had so many I wanted to fill.

33. 33 pots to fill. What fun!

About the time I finished, Jason, Kat and Griffin drive up. Oh, so much more fun.

Kat tells me that earlier in the week there was a day without school. What shall we do? Griffin says—holding up a finger: I know! Nana’s house.

Can you imagine how delighted that makes me?

We play many games, have many chases. Colt’s here, and Griffin insists he join in. Colt is the very best of cousins.

A happy family weekend, start to finish.

The week’s been work-focused. We’re going back to the Derby next week for the first time in three years, and I’ll be so glad to see our Derby family again. But that means nose to the grindstone.

At least until the book banning bullshit happens. But I deal with that because it’s so very important.

Today, I’m making a pot roast with all the trimmings. I deal with the majority of packing for Derby—and that takes time and thought! But I want that mostly done so I can go nose to the grindstone until we leave on Thursday.

It’s cooler and rainy off and on today, so I may not get my walk-about outside. But it’s good for the new plants, so I’ll take it.

I hope spring’s treating you well, and if you don’t or can’t plant flowers, you can enjoy what others have. And that you can spend some of this weekend reading a book of your choice.


It’s been a while…


(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!!

Laura, Nora, Kayla & JoAnne in a floral mood.

A much simpler puzzle.

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 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.

Art in the early morning.

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.


Post Holiday Post

After the holidays, after the decorations come down and are stored away, after the baking and cooking and clearing up after are all done, we go to the spa for a well-earned week of relaxing.

Traditionally our pals Bill and Nicole join us, and for the last several years, Jason and Kat, and Griffin add to the fun.

This is the first post-holiday week I haven’t felt it necessary to take work along. WOO!! I’m in a solid place with the WIP to take that week all the way off. No work, no book signing, no cooking!!! It’s like Christmas all over again.

Our little guy loves hotels. He always has, and I have a feeling he always will. BW and I arrive first, unpack, settle in. And here come Griffin and his parents. He has a mile-wide grin. It’s clear he remembers being here before, and it’s a place he likes a lot. We brought one of his smaller race tracks, and his LARGE collection of cars. And beloved Monster Trucks.

And the fun begins.

Our boy has been socially shy since the pandemic, but apparently school’s taken care of that. He’s happy to see everyone. The last time Nicole saw him he wasn’t at all interested in interacting. Not so now!

We play, incessantly, The Floor Is Lava. We eat, we drink, we play and we relax. The next day means a foundation meeting, but that’s the only serious business of the week.

In the morning, there’s bacon for breakfast, and after my workout, the boy wants me to join him in his breakfast and his hilarity over videos on his iPad. Currently Combo Panda is a fave. And there is hilarity.

Then the babysitter arrives. He was fine with her during the summer meeting, but didn’t do much talking or interacting with her. Again, notso this time, and she’s so happy she can also share hilarity and cars and tracks.

The meeting’s a long one, but productive and satisfying. And I have a facial booked for after.

I have a seat in the almost empty relaxation room with a glass of wine, and open my book. I had TTP send me Sarah Addison Allen’s newest: Other Birds. I truly adore her work. It’s magical.

So’s the facial, and I think I slept through half of it!

Griffin’s happy to see me, and that’s also satisfying. But after dinner, he latches onto Nicole. She’s very petite, our Nicole, and he decides she, like him, should fall or jump off the sofa onto the pile of pillows we’re put on the floor so Danger Guy doesn’t end up with a concussion. She wisely chooses to slide off.

Griffin’s new pal Nicole.

Over and over again.His newest thing is saying: Oh gosh or Oh my goodness. A lot. Echoes of his pre-K teacher. It’s pretty damn adorable to hear a four year old say oh, my goodness, like a good pre-K teacher or a 50s housewife.

He climbs on Nicole’s back—and again this sort of physical interaction in pretty new for him post-Covid. Now she must slide off with him onboard. Many times.

Hilarity rises.

I’m giving tons of credit to his ever-patient parents and his exceptional teacher for the amazing progress the boy’s made in a few months. He is such a happy boy, and so much more verbal and sociable.

His parents always give him a countdown to bedtime. When they inform him ten minutes until. He wags a finger. No, no, no—in this sweet little voice. No bedtime!! Nana finds this amusing, though when Jason asks what I’d have done if he’d wagged a finger at me that way at four, I was forced to admit, he’d have needed a splint.

But nana’s are allowed their amusement (and revenge).

And still, when it’s time (every time) he goes off without complaint.

The next day, after workout, bacon for breakfast and more hilarious videos, I take over so Jason, then Kat can have much-deserved massages. The floor, of course, is lava. I must now substitute for Nicole and do many slides onto the pillows, get more pillows as Danger Guy is on a roll. I must slide off with my four-year-old passenger. And I think: Hey, I’ve got twenty years on Nicole! But we just keep sliding because: The Floor Is Lava.

It snows. It’s very pretty from inside our cozy space.

We’ve started a jigsaw puzzle—colorful candy. Kat and Nicole and I have made some progress. Now I make some more.

Later, Griffin doesn’t just want to sit beside me to laugh at videos. He sits on my lap. It’s been far too long since he wanted to. It’s starting to feel like that isolation with Covid, the weeks and weeks apart didn’t happen.

And it feels wonderful.

I have a massage the next day, and after workout (good thing I work out daily considering the sliding, the rolling, the running), breakfast and more Combo panda, I take my book and do the long walk around to poke in the shops a little before I settle down with my lovely book.

Hot stones, warm table, exceptional masseuse. Who could ask for more?

More progress on the puzzle. Check!

Thursday is painting day for Griffin, and I tag along. Usually he’s all about the paint, but not so much this time. Until he realizes he can paint his much adored monster trucks, then dump them in a tub of water to wash them off. Then paint them again because: Oh my goodness! They’re so dirty!

And throughout, there are cookies I didn’t bake, food I didn’t cook and hanging out with good friends, beloved family and a boy who just makes you smile.

Griffin latches onto Bill at dinner. As they’re sitting next to each other, Griffin must share his joy in whatever’s on his little screen, often taking Bill’s hand and pulling him closer.

Intense conversation with Bill.

Friday is nails for me, and my big decision of the week. What colors on the toes. I have my book, a glorious pedicure. I pick a deep brown tone for winter with a lighter bronze shade for my signature accent toe. And finish my wonderful book and get a French manicure.

I loved every page and my very pretty nails.

On the way to the salon I stopped at the toy store. I thought maybe I could find a stuffed panda as my boy is now so into Combo. No luck. The clerk and I hunt for a bit, but no panda. No big deal, I tell her.

But when I get back from the salon, there’s a bag, and a note for Griffin telling him to enjoy. And inside a stuffed panda in a Nemacolin shirt. It’s adorable! And it’s beyond sweet and considerate.

A boy and his Panda.

Griffin immediately dubs it—you guessed it—Combo Panda. For the rest of our stay he’s got it with him.

Now I have my second spa book, and when I’m not playing The Floor Is Lava (a lot), I start King’s Fairy Tale. More magic! A much different kind than Sarah’s, but just as riveting to me.

If you’re into magical realism and relationships, don’t miss SAA’s Other Birds—and if you’ve never read her, you’re missing a lot. Start with Garden Spells.

If you’re into magic, adventure, coming of age, dogs, monsters, good kicking evil’s ass, don’t miss SK’s fairy Tale. I gobbled it.

Saturday, it’s COLD. Kat and Jason are going to take Griffin to the carnival thing they have here. Indoors. Ball pits, giant Jenga, slides. BW opts in. I opt out because just getting there will be seriously cold. Take pictures, I plead as they leave and I settle down by the fire with my book.

Fun with blocks.
Indoor playground.
Slo-mo fun.

And they did. The boy had the best time ever.

The post-holiday week was pretty damned perfect for me. Friends, family, a little boy who laughed and laughed and laughed. Two most excellent books to take me away. Treatments to relax me. Morning workouts and bacon.

…and a finished puzzle.

An excellent way to start the new year.

Now it’s back to work, and I’m more than ready for it. It felt so good to sit at my desk again and dive back into the story. And if I have four tubs of books to sign tonight—and I do—I’ve had a week off to recharge the batteries.

It’s a good deal.