Category Archives: Spa!

Girls, Games, Griffin and (Uninvited) Guests

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ample room to watch the contest unfold

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

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

One soul-shattering point.

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

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

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

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

Plotting his next move to corner ALL the bacon.

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

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

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

This, we agree, is A Problem.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Laura also moved down to Mary’s room.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The mouse makes its dash at her feet.

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

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

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

And so the hunt begins.

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

The rest of us shout:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Another toss—missed it by THAT much!

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

The mouse is Under The Dome.

Cheers, screams of triumph, wild laughter.

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

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

Then the thought: Now what?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tequila shots, relief, ridiculous laughter.

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

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

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

Then we played Hearts.

Nora


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

Nicole with her crown, scepter and small dinosaur.

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

Family Fun

Every summer we take a family (with friends who are family) week at Nemacolin in the Laurel Highlands. We’ve done this since Kayla and Logan were just little guys.

It’s fun, and it’s busy, it’s relaxing and noisy and loaded with young energy.

This year was no different.

Our pals have joined us on this week since their two boys’ tiny days. (In fact since before their youngest, Brendan, was born!) They are tiny no more! Altogether we’re six kids, ranging now from nearly seventeen (Kayla) to 8 months (Griffin) and seven adults. We still outnumber them!

From left: Logan, Griffin, Colt, Ryan, Brendan, Kayla

The kids really only see each other a couple times a year, including this stellar week, but every time, they slide right back in as if they’d hung out the day before.

We bring our old, original Wii and set it up in the living area of our suite for group fun in the evenings–or for a rainy day. There’s a big pool, tennis courts, loads of activities for those who want them. And, of course, spa treatments.

Also shops!

There are ropes courses, climbing walls, zip lines–and lovely walks.

This year, Jason and I took Griffin in his stroller for one of those lovely (long!) walks. Good thing Dad went with us because there are challenging hills, and while Nana could’ve managed, it would have taken some rest periods!

The second walk, I had Kayla–young, long-legged girl–who pushed the baby and stroller up the big-ass hill.

Kayla and I hit the shops–and Logan hooked up with us. Colt, Griffin and I hit the toy store.

When we had a couple of foundation meetings, kids juggled baby-sitting.

We had pool time, gym time, hang-out time, game time. And our now traditional family (minus Griffin for this) Paint Night where I learned I don’t (or didn’t) understand the concept of negative space.

Finished art

Griffin discovered the joys and rewards of crawling–he can motor pretty well now–and the sheer delight of having lots of kids to play with him, entertain him.

Look! Big kids.
Oldest and Youngest
Big and little
Exhausted by fun.

One night we hung out with a kind of virtual reality screen–throw a football or hit a golf ball at it. Our pals the Orrs are seriously athletic, and their oldest, Ryan, is quarterback on his high school football team.

The boy can throw a football!

I honestly thought Griffin would just explode. Nothing has ever been funnier in his eight months of life.

And it’s great to see kids so willing to entertain a baby, to haul him around, to take his hands so he can walk–a favorite activity.

Perambulating

I can imagine Griffin waking up at home this week and wondering: Hey, where’s my crew?

So another summer week’s in the book, with good times for all.

There’s nothing like kids–from teens on down to babies–to remind you what summer’s really about.

Nora

Ups and Downs

My life right now seems to be a series of them without much of that steady middle ground.

I really like steady middle ground.

Updated total: 41 authors and 93 of their books infringed by Serruya. She’s a blood leech sucking on the body of the writing profession.

Arranging for a truckload of salt to dispense with her has been taking up a lot of my time, energies, sanity. Hopefully, once that’s in place the frustrating and infuriating distraction of her will fade, at least a bit.

Meanwhile I had a very happy week at our annual Drunken Girls Spa–with Special Guest Star Griffin. Nora had a week with girl pals, massages, games, champagne, and food she didn’t cook. Nana had a week of baby laughs and snuggles–though she did share those with girl pals.

And Laura’s not allowed to whine about the games as she dominated in the new addition of Cards Against Humanity.

Note from Laura: this is because I’m the Queen of Empathy and Persipacity. Not the queen of building stupid words.

Laura will continue to complain when the universe sends her messages: Buy a clue? Wear a clue as a feathered scarf? You decide.

Though Kat ultimately thwarted Elaine in Scrabble, she couldn’t –nor could any–topple Elaine who we crowned Queen of the DGS on our last night.

Our previous Queen JoAnne had a hard fall and shared the loser earrings with Pat.

A great week for all, with beautiful days, rainy days, stormy nights–including one that blew open the (unlatched) balcony doors. Flying curtains, toppling lamps, rain blowing in, women scrambling, Auntie Em summoning.

The annual paint & sip evening. Bright colors abound.

Shortly before I left for the week my tooth implant felt weird, and my bite shifted. Now I’m chewing the hell out of my cheek. But it’s an implant, I think, what’s the deal? No time to find out as I’m leaving.

Call the dentist the morning of my first day back. The day, I’ll add, I’m supposed to haul BW to the nursery in his truck, get all my pretty plants and start digging in the dirt. And have my NEW CAR delivered.

A happy day after a happy week.

Things didn’t go as planned.

Dentist says come right in, so I get dressed and do that. Figures he can fix, takes a look. Needs an X-Ray. Uh-oh.

Don’t you hate that?

Bad news, maybe worst case scenario news. It looks like the bone graft failed, implant shifted (I wasn’t wrong there, but being right never felt so bad). I need to go to implant guy. The Hammer Of Doom: It will be like starting over.

I like to think I’m pretty tough, but I just looked up and said: Oh, Jesus.

My dentist calls implant dentist himself. Again, I’m told to come right in. These are very good guys, really good doctors. But now I have to text BW, can’t be back by noon, off to second dentist.

Arrive, am seated immediately. Implant guy is so kind, apologizing for the failure, looks at X-Ray. He doesn’t think it’s a graft failure, but a fracture of same. Somehow–and this baffles him–I’ve managed to crack the bone.

He had to numb me up, always a good time!, take off the crown, take out the implant. Yes, indeed, I cracked it.

While he’s cleaning it out (even more fun than needles plunged into the soft tissue of your mouth!) I think: Fucking Serruya. I’ve caught myself stress clenching over the past weeks. Make myself stop, but still.

I blame her for my current situation. It actually helps, a little.

So he does what he does, sews me back up. DA gives me pain med, I get Rxs and make next appointment. The process takes several months of appointments. Oh well.

Off to CVS to fill Rxs. Drop off, go outside to call BW. Notice I failed to charge phone after spa and it’s down to like 16%. BW doesn’t answer. Not the house phone, not his cell–though I try both twice.

I am not feeling tough.

He finally calls me back. I cut off his explanation as phone will die. Just meet me at the nursery at 1:30. I’m getting my plants, damn it!

Get Rxs, drive to nursery.

Ahhhh. A happy, happy hour. A true up in a down day. The scents, the colors, the textures. Mine, all mine! The hell with everything else, this is my little paradise. I fill four huge carts. We fill the bed of the truck.

Sadly, I don’t have it in me to dig in the dirt. Just don’t have that next gear. But I can lay all those flats and pots out on my garden walls.

And take more meds.

Car guy’s running late, which is just as well. We put the delivery off until the next day.

My plan for Friday: Work in the morning, plant in the afternoon. I knew it was supposed to rain, but still.

Pours. So work the day.

However, many, many Serruya interruptions. No wonder I cracked a bone graft. Still, a decent chunk of work, and it’s good to be back into the story.

And here comes my fabulous new G-Wagon. I’m so glad to have this model again (and loaded this time!!) They reconfigured the interior so it’s comfortable for my Tall Guy. The old model just didn’t have the leg room.

It looks like a big, deep, dark green tank. But an elegant one. I am a General behind the wheel of this baby. And it’ll do what I tell it. I just have to say: Put on left seat warmer, and it will warm my butt. I don’t have to push a button for that now. I can tell it who to call, what temperature I want, what music I want.

It takes Barry The Car Guy an hour to go over all its beautiful tricks with me. So many wonderful tricks! I am in love with my new car. A very happy up.

Of course by the time all that’s done, my swollen jaw is throbbing. A sad down. Hit those meds, get the ice bag.

We’re celebrating Easter and Logan’s 15th (!!) birthday today. He requested pulled pork. So after ice bag, I make the rub, rub the pork.

Definitely time to lie down.

Today, I put the pork on, boil a couple dozen eggs for kids to Cool Whip dye, make the sides, make the bbq sauce and pull that pork. BW will pick up Logan’s fave chocolate chip cookie cake.

I hope to dig just a bit. Even one bed, one pot would be enough until tomorrow.

Because a big up will be having four grandkids–including Griffin for his first–here for Easter.

I’ve got an achy swollen jaw, more frustrations and interruptions ahead with our serial plagiarist, but….

I have a beautiful family I’ll enjoy the hell out of today. I have plants waiting for me to find just the right spot for them to fill.

And a new car!

Nora

Spaaa-tica: A new Queen ascends

and her name is not Laura (though I appreciate everyone’s belief in me).

When last we met, I’d won a round of Just Dance.  I added my sticker to the board (an homage to the nascent dark side) and otherwise turned my back on the Stupid(ish) Scoreboard.

Ignoring the grid turned out to be pretty easy since we had so many wonderful, non-competition distractions.  As mentioned in the past, we all pretty much go our separate ways during the days. Saturday morning, JoAnne, Jeannette and Mary planned to lunch at the casino on the property.   Just before 2 pm, JoAnne texted that Jeannette won big on the $5 slots. Much happy dancing from Nora — along with the strict instructions to come back NOW!

They stayed and won a bit more but the news and excitement spread among us quickly.

Then Kat arrived with her magic fascinator and her thrilling news. (We knew she was pregnant, but waited until the first trimester was cleared to share.)  If all goes according to schedule, Nana will share a birth month with the baby.   As for names, everyone in the room had opinions. For some reason my suggestions of Cornelius or Aloysius were not welcomed with open arms.

Kat and Jason have plenty of time to decide, and in all probability we’ll only share the name when the Young Master arrives.

After painting on Sunday night, we had to get a couple more rounds of games on the record to help Kat and me catch up and to accommodate Pat’s early departure.  Later, we realized that departure was not because of another trip but to flee the scoreboard results (they don’t lie).

Scrabble is either the apex or the nadir of the competition — depending on where you sit by Kat or Elaine or your particular talent in pulling all consonants or all vowels.  I placed a respectable third in my first round and happily retired from the field.

In the end, it came down to Elaine and Kat  (did anyone doubt this?).  They played a Monday night death match semifinal  with Nicole and JoAnne that lasted forever (ok maybe 2 hours).  Since Kat left Tuesday they decided to rest their brains overnight and play the final match on Tuesday morning.

To summarize: Kat played well ahead until — and we can blame pregnancy brain — she left herself wide open for Elaine to put EQUIP on a triple word with triple letter for Q.  While she played valiantly, Kat couldn’t overcome that and Elaine took the Scrabble prize.

The final board. Photo by Mary B.

Tuesday night, Elaine — defending champion btw — faced Sarah in Just Dance and JoAnne in bowling.

Their faces say everything about the dancing — plus Nora just danced for the heck of it.

[KGVID]http://fallintothestory.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/20180424_182412.mp4[/KGVID]

In the best of three, Elaine barely squeaked by.

Nicole and JoAnne follow the dance. Photo by LMR

After dinner, Elaine and Jo started the final round of bowling.  Remember, friends, that Jo and I have shared Biggest Loser through the years.  This year, she won the wild card round (through bowling) and made the finals in bowling.

Sorry gang, this was my only action shot. Phot by LMR

Elaine was ahead through nine frames and it looked like we’d have an early coronation, but JoAnne bowled four strikes in a row to take that prize!

What to do?  Elaine and JoAnne each had two wins, but there’s only one crown (and necklace that was the ultimate prize).  I reminded Nora that tiebreakers in the past were the mega bowling on Wii — there are more pins to strike every frame.  All agreed that was the way to name the winner.

Long story very short, JoAnne was on fire and won.  And all was right with the world turned upside down.

Pat, btw, was biggest loser in absentia, but I fixed that with some tape and a tablet.

The Queen and the Biggest Loser. Photo by LMR

After that, we celebrated with Reverse Charades — because how else would one end a week of spa and games?

Thus ends another Spa Girl week.  What did we learn this year?  That the scoreboard is stupid if I let it be.  Ignoring is a smart move on my part (ok, and so is a lot of sarcasm).

Everyone is a winner.  Except Pat this year.

And from Ireland to Pennsylvania, sheep are the theme of my spring.

Sheep! PA version. Photo by LMR

Sheep! Connemara version. Photo by LMR

Laura

Spa-La-La

It’s hard to wait 51 weeks for the best week of the year, but it’s worth it.

It’s strange to hit the end of April, and see a snow fall, but we managed.

Because we’re girls!!

We came in a little scattered this year due to this and that. A group on Wednesday, another couple rolling in on Thursday, then Friday, then Saturday.

And we’ve had nothing but fun.

COLD outside initially, so we missed those morning walks. But Jo and I worked out in our room every morning. She wanted that 10k a day, and got it. In fact yesterday because finally the sun shined and the temps hit mid-60s, we walked. And she hit 20k!! A record.

The score board’s filling up with stickers. The fabulous prizes are thinning out. We’ve had some dark horses* push their way into the next heats, and the usuals hold their own.

I call this “Redhead by Scoreboard.” Photo by LMR

Lots of laughs, lots of wine, lots of chatter. Some shopping, lovely treatments, food none of us had to cook. And just that simple and marvelous community of pals. Pretty perfect.

Last night was our Paint Night, and I have to say I think it was the best yet. Not only for the fun, the everyone’s work became a masterpiece. And they’re all so different. Wonderful, individual visions realized (with more wine).

Empty canvases. Photo by LMR

Finished! Photo by LMR

The Spa Girl gallery. Photo by LMR

Close up. Photo by LMR

We followed that with pizza and salads, and more wine! Then Dancing, Bowling, Trivia, Scrabble!

We have a couple of finals coming up tonight, and what I know will be a vicious second heat of Drunken Scrabble. I suck at Scrabble. Words aren’t a problem, but I have no strategy. I’m always impressed with those who do.

Since we have another warmish, sunny day, I’m going to walk outside again, soak in the moments before the rain returns.

I have a book** to read, pals to hang with, and a deep tissue massage on my afternoon schedule. A really good deal.

There’s nothing, just nothing like girl friends, and this week, with just girls is a treasure.

Though we have allowed a male into our glorious female group this year. And while we’re not entirely sure of his name, he’s been welcomed by all.

For those who asked for a Random Katness, here’s a couple photos Laura took last night.

The best kind of #randomkatness. Photo by LMR

No caption needed. Photo by LMR

It’s a boy!

Obviously, I’m beyond thrilled, already besotted, and as you can see, Kat looks amazing.

Best week ever!

Nora

Yay! Cake! Photo by LMR

* This means Laura.
** Twisted Prey by John Sandford. 

Spaaa-tica

Dear FITS family,

Did you even doubt I’d miss the FUN (!?!) of spa week?  I ended up trading my view of this:

View on Wednesday’s walk. Photo by LMR

and choice of activities like this:

Meet my new friend Sonora. Photo by LMR

For this:

About 24 hours after getting home, I walked into tea time at the spa and stories of the first 48 hours without me.

Nora bestowed a welcome-to-the-spa boon: a competition free first night.  I know the real reason: Kat (the most beloved person in her world) wouldn’t arrive until Saturday so we would do the first round together.   But I’ll take the stay of competition.

Spa flowers. Photo by LMR

(Random flowers to celebrate.)

Saturday dawned busy with a workout, conversation, whiskey in my oatmeal (a thing I saw at Ashford), conversation and treatments.  Kat arrived, bearing with her the hat she made to wear for the Derby in two weeks.

Yes, she made it.  We knew she’s clever, but this hat outdid every expectation.  So much so, I made everyone try it on.

Formal yoga wear. Photo by LMR

Elaine, in a hat. Photo by LMR

Top: Kat, Nicole, Jeannette
Middle: Pat, Mary, Kat in a hat
Bottom: Sarah, Laura, JoAnne

And then. And then.

I WON a round of Just Dance.  And a prize.  The magic of Ireland may carry me through.

Then a round of Scrabble brought me right back to Earth.

Once I conquer the jet lag, I’ll fill you in a bit more. But a good start, don’t you think?

Laura

A Cranky Publicist note.

Dear FITS family,

I’m sure you all wonder about the truest harbinger of Spring in these parts: Girls Spa Week.  When does it take place? When will all that girl energy flood the posts?

When will Laura have to play games??? (It’s ok to admit that’s what you really want to know.)

The timing is a bit different this year and the fun (is It? Really?) starts this Wednesday. From all reports Nora spent the weekend in the garden and packing.  But what of our lovable 2-time Biggest Loser?

Well, I’ve run away. I put an ocean between us and have been in Ireland since just after Easter.  I’m scheduled to get home Thursday, do a ton of laundry and then join in the fun (definition – noun: enjoyment, amusement, or light-hearted pleasure. Really????) on Friday. Do you realize how far behind I’ll be?

I went to Donegal for a photo workshop. I visited family in Sligo and Galway. I lifted pints of Smithwicks – more than one. And did the same with Jameson.  Now why would I ever want to leave?

Farnham estates

Donegal sunset

Enniscrone cows

Since I trust you all to keep a secret, I’ll just say that Ashford Castle will be the testing ground . It’s our last stop and considering the FUN (definition – adj:  amusing, entertaining, or enjoyable) activities that await, I may never leave.

Unless I do. Just don’t tell Nora. Ok?

Laura

An Port, Donegal

Donegal sheep

Kylemore Abbey

Provence, France Day 10

Tickle Tickle! Photo by NR

Eggs Benedict. Photo by BW

BW’s caption: BE apres Cizing It Up. (Laura has her doubts on this — I READ the blog posts.) Photo by NR

Only two insistent ant fitness buffs for the morning. I was a little lonely.

On this gorgeous day Jason and Kat take off in a quest for yarn. I had a lovely, lovely swim, a round in the hot tub in reward for the workout.

Then, thanks to my promptly arriving charger, settled down to work for a couple hours. How about some cheese and bread with that? Don’t mind if I do.

For a couple of hours, my body sits in the woodsy shade of Provence and my brain goes to New York in 2061. It’s a very fine deal for me.

Stretch it out, have a bellini. Seems fair.

Then BW and I stroll (climb) stroll to Le Spa. This is BW’s second trip, my first. It’s gorgeous.

Airy and fragrant and wonderfully calm. Up a few stairs a glass window presents the beautiful indoor pool and its lounging area. We sit in reception a few minutes before we’re led to our respective locker rooms. More quiet, more pretty, more fragrant. I’m into the plush robe and slippers, then go into the relaxation room.

Nice!

Several lounges–adjustable for your comfort. Glossy magazines. I test my very poor French reading and admire the photographs. My masseuse fetches me, guides me into my pretty massage room. In minutes I’m down, she’s back and it begins.

Ah.

My choice of oil scented with lemongrass. Hot stones seeping into bones and muscles tested by climbs, workouts and horses. Good. competent, soothing hands. I drift in and out–my favorite state during a good massage. Not out so you wake up, think: What? Not fully awake so the brain doesn’t rest. The floating stage, and it’s perfect.

I tell her so when it’s finished.

Still in the dreamy state, I meet BW back at reception, and back home we go.

I decide to continue to relax there, which requires another bellini.

Jason and Kat return just about five o’clock. An adventure!

The yarn store Kat earmarked was closed for August–the traditional holiday month. Not to be discouraged, she found another in Nice, so on they drove. But that one, closed as well. She figures they figure who wants to buy yarn in August any way. Since they’re in Nice, they go to the beach, have lunch. And Kat gets to dip her feet in the Med. Jason regrets ordering a salad, which proved to be huge–after he sees someone served a hot fudge sundae. An enormous sundae.

Nice street scene. Photo by kat

Sweet selfie. Photo by kat

Classic farmland scene. Photo by j a-b

Giant Jason. Photo by kat

Kat drives to Nice, Jason drives back. I remain the only holdout. But really, think of the humanity.

We talk our day on the terrace, talk about where to have dinner as we’ve decided to explore off-campus. In their efficient way, they’ve taken photos of menus of a couple of our choices.

We choose one, casual, and clean ourselves up.

Beautiful, balmy evening after another hot day. We run into–I believe it’s Phillipe, head concierge and chat while I car’s brought around. He doesn’t know the restaurant we’ve chosen, but we promise to report back. (Jason tells me I misspelled Eladia’s name in a previous blog.)

Jason’s taken himself off on foot as it’s just a bit over a mile and he wants to hit his step goal for the day (I have sufficiently crushed all comers in our Work Week Hustle). Kat, faithful navigator, directs us. Wind and wind and wind, and . . . there.

It’s in or really by a kind of shopping center, and some flats. Wide, open air, lots of tables. A cheerful waitress with a little English. I choose some wine, and that goes smooth and easy. Vin rouge always works.

Le group. Photo by kat

She brings out a little chalkboard with the daily specials on it–and BW spots paella. That’s a favorite. It has a further description in French Jason and I puzzle over then decide is at any time over the weekend.

They have spaghetti arrabiata, which is a favorite of mine. Salade verte. Perfect.

BW inquires about what’s in the paella, as this often depends. The waitress only has French here, explains–and uses mime–it’s adorable. We got the shrimp, the mussles, the chicken (we’ve got that much French), but we’re all stuck on another ingredient until she draws a picture. An octopus (or squid). All five us are pleased with each other, and since all the ingredients suit BW, we order.

There’s a cafe across the way closing for the night. One of the residents of the flats is standing on her tiny balcony brushing her teeth. People begin wandering in to take tables. I have a view of the hills throughout.

The food’s really, really good. The service fun and bright. This is obviously a neighborhood place, and we hear only French. We all agree we’d certainly come back, and that’s before dessert.

Hey, hot fudge sundaes–and oh God profiteroles. Jason and Kat will split the sundae, BW and I the profiteroles. Meanwhile, a family with a young boy–three or four–and a very new baby are dining. The boy is entertaining himself creatively with action figures. Another big table is full of women so we figure a girls night out. Families and groups all around us, and the little boy’s in his own heroic battlefield. He’s really cute. We hear music from a nearby restaurant, and after a bit realize it’s karaoke!

Dessert comes, and oh my. I may not be able to fully finish my share, but I make a strong attempt. The long, lazy and satisfying meal has taken us deep into the evening. But we feel obliged to walk over and check out the karaoke.

Dessert!!! Photo by ja-b

It’s a pizzeria with a generous outdoor area. Lots of tables of people eating while others take the mike. We watch two girls bravely attempt a song. Not one I’m familiar with, and in French, but vastly entertaining.

Back home we go, and to bed as we hope to leave earlier this morning for the Saturday market in Fayence. No time to workout! Jason, Kat and I will start head-to-head on our Weekend Warrior Challenge.

I think I’ll try out my fun new shoes.

Nora

Today’s #randomkatness:

Bread IS art. Photo by kat

Note from Laura:  Here in the real world, I’m at a family wedding this weekend.  Sunday’s post could be a little later due to long party tonight and somewhat cranky wifi.  Will do what I can!

A True and Accurate Report

Throughout the magnificence of girl spa week, I read Laura’s diary with amusement, and not a little pity. Our resident Cranky Publicist and game-hater tolerates much enforced fun. I found myself pleased (as her ‘friend’) she embraced the release and comfort of a diary to express her emotional distress.

Without that release and comfort I fear I may have found her one quiet morning clutching the Wii remote, gibbering at the scoreboard while she chewed on the remains of scattered Scrabble tiles.

There’s always next year.

Meanwhile, our beleaguered Laura had a couple close calls on yet more enforced fun by barely missing qualifying for second rounds in Scrabble and Bowling. Still, a miss is as good as a mile, isn’t it?

I must add something here. I also played Scrabble–though I don’t qualify for prizes as the host. My bed of pain must also be documented. I played the ENTIRE game with two–count them–two vowels. Both Es. One in the first draw, and just one more somewhere in the middle of the game. Two. Vowels. Unless the rules open up to the official language of Pluto, a player with two vowels is screwed.

(Still I didn’t place last altogether. I will refrain from naming those who played their rounds with a reasonable number of vowels whose scores ranked below mine.)

Nicole, with her ear infection and URI and antibiotics nipped Laura by two tiny points in the first Scrabble round. And Pat skimmed by her in Bowling.

Let me take this time to add our Pat is no fan of Scrabble. It was with great compassion I approached Pat one morning, slipped my arm around her tender shoulders. I have some terrible news, I said. I’m so sorry to have to tell you. You’re in the second round of Scrabble.

She wept a little, but I was there for her.

Pat is even less of a fan of Just Dance. Once again, I had to deliver hard, distressing news. Yes, she qualified for Round Two. As the news sank in, she attacked a butler. 

However, I find it odd that someone who expresses such distaste for certain games plays well enough to move to the next round. I suspect a hustle.

We must all bow to Mary Kay Of The Golden Ball for her consistent bowling skills. We must because she reminds us regularly, and likes to point out the shine of that Golden Ball.

It is pretty.

Jeannette’s turn.

JoAnne’s turn

Mary’s turn

Laura counting all the pins, in vain

The Woman with the Golden Ball. All Hail Mary Kay!

Kat dominated Scrabble. Others may strive, may sweat and may struggle, but it’s a rare game when our Kat doesn’t lay down a full seven letter word sometime during the game, usually involving a Q on a double letter box and on a triple word score. She destroys all comers, and smiles her Kat smile.

Not Scrabble but that Kat smile.

It’s also Kat and Sarah who dominate trivia as much due to their snake-like reflexes as their knowledge of useless facts. And math. (Why are there any questions involving math?) At the end of that particular game Sarah crushed the competition with more than 17,000 points. But then Elaine comes out of nowhere in her round and nips by Kat’s impressive score.

The perfect shot by Patricia Gaffney

Going into the final rounds, we had Elaine (yes, Fearsome but also a sneakily quiet competitor) and Sarah neck-in-neck with the surprise of Nicole as a dark horse. Who would be crowned Queen?

Sarah destroys Elaine in Trivia! Will Nicole triumph in Scrabble??? Please, she had to play Kat. But perhaps she’ll reach Golden Ball status in Bowling against Elaine. Nope. The dark horse falls.

Down to the dance, Sarah and Elaine, all for the crown. Their focus is intense, their moves poetry. As the music ends, Elaine has eked out the narrowest win in Spa Girl history!

All hail The Queen!

Still, we must finish with Reverse Charades. Mostly because it’s the funniest game ever. Even there, perhaps flush from her previous victories and already insured crown, Elaine dominates. But then, I ask you, how does one (or a group as it’s Reverse Charades) act out the word Cactus?

There is truth that as Elaine (not-so-humbly) accepts the coveted plastic tiara and Bedazzled scepter, Laura must clip on (after a quick repair) the pitiful pink earrings of the Loser. In an attempt to be Solomon, I suggested she and Mary each wear one, as their sad, sad scores all but matched. But the crowd called for Laura.

Popular demand counts.

It’s not, however, all games during spa week. Jo and I–and most days Kat–started our day with workouts, and as the mornings warmed after the middle of the week, followed those with long walks with flowers blooming and the sun shining.

I’d see Laura briefly–coffee for Laura, then a round at the gym, usually with Nicole. Maybe a little breakfast in the Lounge, maybe some of us poking through the shops. Lots of: What treatment are you having today? And some contented meeting up in the Relaxation Room prior, or the locker room after where we’d compare our bliss.

Quiet reading corners, or drinks on the sunny patio, room service, naps. Ice cream night!! (Thanks, Mary Kay.) Lots of laughs, lots of hugs, lots of adult beverages.

Girl vibes–and they’re as rejuvenating as a hot stone massage. My parents didn’t give me any sisters, so I found them. Fate didn’t give me daughters, so I found them, too.

Best week ever with all my girls.

Nora

Dear Diary: a conclusion to the Cranky Publicist adventures

Dearest Diary,

I regret to inform you that I ended the week in possession of the gaudy Biggest Loser earrings.  All my “friends” turned on me in my hour of need.  The Mighty and Fearsome Elaine is the Grand Poobah Champion of Spa World with wins in Dance (poor, poor Sarah), Bowling and by getting the most answers in Reverse Charades.

When Nora added up the lowest scores, it  came down to the slimmest margin between Mary and me.  Nicole, sweet Nicole, turned to me and asked, “Wait, when did you start winning games?  You didn’t win when I was here.”  I told her I DIDN’T win, that was the point.  She nodded and said, “Ohhhhh.”

An ear infection and URI can make anyone a little loopy.

Nora said it was too close to call.  Mary said, “Oh just give it to Laura — it will fit her narrative.”  And the rest of them agreed with applause.  I guess accurate and unbiased reporting on the goings on during spa week begets frenemies willing to bring you low.

Sigh.  I need to accept applications for new friends.  The flurry of photos for Elaine’s THIRD coronation in six years ended up looking like this.  I think it accurately shows my feelings on the subject.

But let’s backtrack a bit, shall we Diary Dear?

Thursday evening was a flurry of activity.  The Mighty and Fearsome Elaine took on the Beautiful and Brilliant Sarah in a serious final round of Trivia.  I captured this moment near the end of the round:

[KGVID]http://fallintothestory.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/20170427_192030.mp4[/KGVID]

That begat the final result:

Elaine took the finals in Just Dance by a hair’s breadth, but my video won’t upload so I can’t prove it.  Does that mean it REALLY happened?

And then she bowled.  A game like no other with seven consecutive strikes.

See what I deal with Diary?

A busy evening for the future champion who moved to the dining table for second round Scrabble  Nicole, Pat and Kat.  Nicole, still obviously somewhat alert despite her symptoms came in second and would play Kat in the finals.

Nora, the soul of tact and discretion, said at least 473 times, “Nicole is in the final!  Let me repeat, Nicole and Kat are in the final!!!!” Perhaps her shock makes her Nicole’s “friend” as well.

Elaine chose her various prizes and then said, “I’m tired of winning. I have to go now.”  Diary, I believe I hissed a little.

[From the Fearsome one’s private journal:  “Yes!  All is in place for my re-coronation!  I shall sleep well  tonight.”]

In the meantime, side bowling games abounded.  Mary Kay had set the multipin scoring record of 560 the night before, so she sat and watched us try in vain to catch her.

[Excerpted from Mary Kay’s annals of fabulousness: “I’m still the bowling queen — I have a golden ball!”]

At one point JoAnne said Mary Kay should take a turn.  Mary Kay replied, “I don’t want to keep demoralizing you.”

Diary, our egos are very healthy during spa week.

We saved Paint and Sip for the final night (though sadly, Pat had to miss it).  For some misguided reason, Diary, I decided to let all the participants have a choice in what we painted so we could send the final pick to the teacher beforehand.  Oh the opinions on color and flower and scene!  But finally I herded my squirrels to one picture with the promise everyone could personalize the colors.

We had as much fun in the 2017 session as we did last year.

And we all remembered our listening skills.

Amanda, the instructor, took this photo of everyone at the end.

And here’s a closer look at what we painted:

We ended the night with Scrabble (Kat won, Nicole placed admirably), Reverse Scrabble Charades (I’m actually not sharing THOSE photos) and the coronation.

And then, Diary, our week was over.  Another wonderful seven days with girls, wine, games (ugh) and laughter.

In all seriousness Diary, it’s a wonderful gift Nora shares with us every spring.  We all started out in different parts of Nora’s life and now all those parts blend like the paint above — we enhance, we embrace and we encourage. Some of us get together regularly, some we don’t see until spa week arrives, but the time doesn’t matter, the relationships do.

And so, I bid you farewell Diary.  Word is my “friend” Nora may try to give her own version of the week.  I would take it all with a grain of salt.

Laura