Edinburgh, Day 2

Walking’s the word of the day. We do a lot of it.

Head out first to get cold meds for BW, then he and Jason peel off for a bit to check out the park while Kat and I hit a couple of shops.

View from a walk: Scott Monument. Photo by BW
View from a walk: Edinburgh Castle. Photo by BW

Griffin needs some clothes for his next size up. But we find his current size in a ridiculously cute plaid vest and pants—and bow tie. And tam. Irresistible.

Then there’s clan ties for the big guys. Fun stuff.

Into Marks and Spenser for Griffin clothes. The low level there has a kid department, and flower shop (gorgeous!) and grocery store. Fascinating.

We load up, and he’ll be a fashionable boy this winter.

The guys not only checked out the park, but rode the Ferris Wheel, so they were entertained.

More walking, with clouds rolling in. So back to the hotel to drop off the bags and get rain gear. 

How about lunch? How about pizza?

We find a place right off the Royal Mile. Pizza, pasta, and a very generously poured glass of red for me.

While we wait for our order Griffin invents a new game. Kat offers him her wallet to fiddle with, and he sweeps it off the table to Daddy. Daddy slaps it back on the table.

Slap the wallet!

Griffin finds this hysterical, so the game begins. Maniacal laughter, sweep, slap. The waitress says: What a happy boy, when she brings the food.

Yes, he is. And more so when he spots pizza.

Good food, good wine, and a nice rest for the walking feet.

Right call on the rain gear as it drizzles again as we start to walk The Mile. Such energy, such movement. Music playing.

A drummer (from NJ, it turns out) has drawn a big crowd. He’s got a fun routine we all (esp Griffin) enjoy before moving on. 

To someone who mentioned it in the last blog (Editor note: a comment by Sue Towery on Facebook), we did slip into Thistle Do Nicely. Who can resist a clever pun? Not me.

There’s a group—three women and a guy, all in pink suits—just setting up. Performers can promo their show for about ten minutes on the mile. 

They’re the Sushi Tap Show.

 I can no more resist a tap routine than a clever pun. They’re fun, fast talented feet, crowd engaging. They draw a young girl from the audience, hand her a bell—like a front desk bell. The guy is miming conducting, and his partners do their thing on cue, and the girl hits the bell—right on the money, time and again. It’s petty damn adorable.

Raining a little harder now when Kat spots some stall tents. We can’t resist those either. Fortuitous, as it turns out, because the first one we check out has terrific gifts (can’t say what) for many of my girl pals for Christmas. 

We hit a jackpot!

Kat helps me pick out which for who—and that’s a BIG help to me. We’re having a great time, and while the lovely woman—who’s giving us much information on the gifts—bags them up, an heroic clap of thunder blasts. 

And the downpour follows.

We’re undercover—lucky for us. People are scrambling for their own, lots suddenly finding religion and rushing for the gorgeous cathedral right across from our stall. Some people crowd in with us, and are welcome. 

It’s a big one—lighting, thunder, torrential rain. But doesn’t last but ten minutes or so. 

It slows, allows us to start back. BW, Kat and Griffin head back first. Jason and I get about half way back when the rain gets heavier. A shout out here to my Azita for putting the lovely rain jacket in my sight line at Kat’s spree at Saks. It’s not only really pretty, it’s light and easy to pack. And it seriously works.

I stay dry except for below the knees.

We duck into a souvenir shop as I have things I want to get for my other grandkids—and I have a Sherpa in Jason.

He’s pretty well soaked when we get back. Heads to a hot shower. I head for the champagne!

…and a banana for Griffin

A busy, entertaining day, with all kinds of weather. We’re tired enough to stay in for dinner.

It’s Edinburgh Castle today.

My workout’s done, BW, Kat and Griffin are down at breakfast. Jason’s catching some extra ZZZs. Hey, up now. Good morning!

We’ll head out in a couple hours.

The sky looks promising, but yeah, it did yesterday, too. Good thing I love my new rain jacket!

Nora


Introducing #randomkatness #momedition

You’re interesting. I am suspicious. (Photo by Kat)
What the heck Mom? Photo by Kat

Edinburgh, Day 1

BW, Kat, Griffin and I flew out Monday evening to meet Jason, who’s been in Edinburgh for several days. Boonsboro High School’s Theater troupe got an invite to the Fringe Festival here. This is a very big deal, a terrific honor and opportunity. Jason came as one of the chaperones, and as he works in theater, a tech advisor.

Before I get into us, I have to say I’ve been following the kids on FB, and what an amazing experience they’ve had. A couple days touring London, then the long bus ride here. Four performances of their chosen play, Almost, Maine.

Just huge congrats to everyone, all the kids, all the parents and families who got behind them, the community of Boonsboro, and to Mr. Bair, the guy who works with and inspires these kids (as he did withJason) every day. (See note below.)

Our flight was smooth. I say that as someone who hates to fly. Have I mentioned that before? It bears repeating. I hate to fly. In this case, the flight was so smooth I got a solid three hours sleep, only woke once to some turbulence over the wide Atlantic where I had to use the power of my mind to keep the plane in the air.

Best of all Griffin does NOT hate to fly. He’s a traveling boy with some experience under his belt already. He loved it, crawled up and down the aisle, flirted outrageously with our flight attendant, who flirted right back.

And he conked out for a good four hours.

We landed in a drizzle, packed a van, went through Customs, did the whole round. Lots of traffic on the drive in. Jason tells me that Edinburgh is a city of about 500,000, but during August, during Fringe, that swells to 1.5 million.

A lot.

Gorgeous old buildings, dour gray and brown stone majestic in the gloom—just as it should be. Mountains and hills in the not so much distance. Sheep in the fields.

And in town buses, tons of double deckers, streets lined with those gorgeous buildings, and the grand spread of the castle on the hill.

Flowers, flowers, flowers, and green.

The main part of our suite is ready, and we’re so weary and grateful for that. We have expansive views of the city, big windows we can open enough for fresh air.

A very Edinburgh view. Photo by BW

Griffin’s happy to explore.

Some lunch in the room—I have amazing tomato and basil soup. BW and Kat get fish and chips. The fish is enormous—and enjoyed. Griffin also approves there.

Fish & chips still life. Photo by BW

Naps come next.

I get about an hour down—that’s how I like to do it.

Jason arrives—his wife and son are asleep on the couch, so we catch up.

Sensibly sleeping. Photo by Griffin’s Nana

When they wake, Griffin’s so happy to see his daddy he wants no one else. Joy.

BW and Kat are going to BHS’s last performance. I would love to see it, too, but I know with my bleary brain if I sat down in a theater, I’d wake up again at curtain call.

Ticket and program. Photo by Kat
Festival programs for the taking. Photo by BW

So they go off, and Jason, Griffin and I walk around the city. A light drizzle, busy streets. Then The Mile—shops, restaurants that becomes, as Jason puts it, a kind of temporary Times Square during the festival.

He’s not wrong.

I see some actors still in costume and makeup, lots of tourists, lots of performers buxting. We climb steep streets and steps, head down steep alleyways.

We head to BHS’s venue to meet up with BW and Kat, wait in the little lobby. We can hear some of the performance, and Jason explains the scene to me. We can also hear an enthusiastic house, and that’s gratifying.

Cheers and applause at the end for these talented kids who are now international players.

The BHS actors, plus a small special guest.

I’m ridiculously proud.

Jason peels off—he’s staying with the troupe one more night, and they’re all going to The Tattoo—the big show at the castle.

We head back, taking the most amazing (and endless) marble stairs. The Scottish Stairs have a different color of marble on each tread, each landing. Kat’s carrying Griffin, BW and I take the stroller.

Street level view. Photo by Kat

I got my workout in, for certain.

Another nap for the boy, and as Kat went out and found a wine store, some much appreciated champagne for me. A relaxed evening in, room service, early to bed.

Sustenance — by the glass, not the small spoon. Photo by Nora

Before I turn in, I hear fireworks, and look out to see the castle lit up for The Tattoo.

And sleep a solid eight.

Kat and Griffin join me in the morning right before my workout. He is a huge infusion of cuteness in his little jacket and cap.

They’d off to get batteries for one of his toys, some breakfast.

I have the bulk of my workout done when they get back, and as BW’s fighting a head cold, Kat wonders if she should go down and bring him breakfast. On his birthday, too!

We end up ordering room service again as BW rises, and Griffin does part of the workout with me.

I entertain him with the Mash-Ups on Shaun-T’s Cize program. He loves these, and laughs, snuggles, begins to fade.

A quick nap for him while we eat.

Stretches for Nana, and here’s Jason.

Griffin wakes thrilled to see Daddy.

Ready to take on the world.

We’re going to walk around, do some shopping on this marvelously sunny day. You have to take the sun when you get in here, so we will.

And we’ll see what we can see.

Nora


Editor’s note: You can read more about the BHS trip on Facebook or their You Tube Channel The energy is amazing. ~Laura

On the eve

I hear it all the time — Nora’s travelogues rival her books for many readers. Well, I’m pleased to say Nora, BW, Jason, Kat and Griffin set off on their annual summer adventure tonight. And the most wonderful time of the year is upon us: Travelogue Time!

I practice an abundance of caution in exact details during Nora’s vacations — after all it’s time to relax and explore as a family. Nora does have one public, ticketed, event at Ashford Castle but otherwise it’s private time away. (BTW, there are 10 tickets left for the Ashford Castle event on August 18. More information here.)

You can expect a daily dose of Nora’s travel notes and everyone’s photos once they get their bearings and some wi-fi. Plus your RDA of the Amazing Griffin.

Feats of strength and an adoring audience.

What has Nora been up to since the family spa trip? Well, first we had Turn the Page Bookstore’s 24th Anniversary weekend on what was surely one of the hottest days of 2019. Despite that, we had happy readers all afternoon long.

And Griffin met a peer named Logan.

The next day was the 7th Fall in to The Story Brunch at Vesta. I describe it as a Big Fat Nora Wedding. We visit tables, chat, take photos and have the most fun.

The gang’s all here.

I may have mentioned a couple dozen times at the brunch that I needed to get home and do laundry because the next day we were off to our third year at The Greenbrier. (For those who worried, I got it all done.) Every year it gets more magical and fun. From that first sight of the iconic building…

to greeting our parlor companions…

Edward and Wallis say hello.

to watching Griffin crawl further and further each day…

In search of Nana

to finding a fun new outlet for creativity…

Making wind chimes
Making wind chimes
Finished product (mine)

to finally getting a group shot on the stairs…

it was a most wonderful, magical, relaxing time (even though I came down with bronchitis and lost a few days to extensive naps). We’re already booked for 2020.

Nora’s spent the intervening week working on In Death #51, unpacking from one trip, packing for the next. I hear there’s a joint birthday/bon voyage dinner to celebrate Kayla turning 17, Colt turning 9 and BW turning a different age before they set out for the airport. Pizza and birthday cake are the perfect send off!

I’ll be back with the first of the travelogues once I have copy and photos and time to work on my captions.

Until then, Griffin says, “See you soon!”

Laura

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

Under Currents discussion thread

On Sale today!

Today’s the day — Under Currents is available for your next summer read! And this is the place to discuss the book with other readers.

I know you read the excerpt a while back so here’s the book description to refresh your memory:

Zane Bigelow feels like a prisoner of war. While strangers and even Zane’s own aunt see his parents as the epitomes of a successful surgeon and his stylish wife, Zane and his sister Britt know there is something terribly wrong.

As his father’s violent, controlling rages and his mother’s complicity become more and more oppressive, Zane counts the years, months, days until he can escape. In fear for his life, he plays along with the insidious lie that everything is fine, while scribbling his real thoughts in a secret journal he must carefully hide away.


When one brutal, shattering night finally reveals cracks in the facade, Zane begins to understand that some people are willing to face the truth, even when it hurts. As he grows into manhood and builds a new kind of family, he will find that while the darkness of his past may always shadow him, it will also show him what is necessary for good to triumph and give him strength to draw on when he once again must stand up and defend himself and the ones he loves.

Share your all your thoughts in the comments — and be ware: spoilers ahead.

Laura

Nothing Much

Not a lot going on this past week, which is just how I like it!
Just work straight through to the weekend, all pretty calm and satisfying.

A full Saturday for certain with a lot of gardening chores–also how I like it. With packing squeezed in there for the family trip to the spa. BW’s going to meet us there mid-week as he’s off to a music workshop to work on his Cajun accordion playing. Kayla and I head out Monday morning, and the rest of our gang will dribble in through the day.

Spent the evenings signing books and finishing up galleys as I really don’t want to take work with me.

We get our first little harvest of tomatoes–a very pretty Roma and some cherries. Setting them and the peppers in this new spot made all the difference. While I weed the front of the beds, BW braves what I like of as Snake Haven and does the back. (No snakes spotted.)

And as our wild berries are ripening, he has himself a handful, then gets another handful for me. Yum. We don’t often beat the birds to the berries that climb all over the slope behind the raised beds.

Last week, he discovered a nest of ground hornets under the furled loosestrife when he started to install some low fencing support as they’ve gotten so big. The hornets were not pleased, nor was BW when he got stung–fortunately only twice.

We just can’t have hornets buzzing around right outside the house,  but whatever he sprayed didn’t bother them a bit. Time for the exterminator.

The plants and pots look good!

We have an incident last week with a raccoon and the dogs. The dogs behave like dogs, so the raccoon is no more. In the battle, they break my favorite pot–my face pot–in two. Handy BW glues it back together, but I’m letting it rest for the remainder of the season–and happily save the plants.

A couple of problematic shady spots we’ve worked on are coming together. In one area, after many failures due to deer, I tried astilbes–deer-resistant, and they’ll take shade. Not my prettiest spot yet, but since the ones planted last year survive, we add more this spring. Eventually, when the little guys catch up, I hope for a nice flow of color and texture the deer ignore.

I chase one away from another area just the other day after work. They’re pretty, but relentless. 

I’m having serious good luck this year with hummingbirds and butterflies. We have a couple of hummingbird feeders, and I like watching them. One enjoys the boomerang lilacs outside my gym, and often comes to feed and visit when I work out. Sweet.

Happy boomerang lilacs

My herbs are thriving (harvest a lot for dinner last night). I’m letting one patch of oregano bloom because the butterflies like it, and I like them.

My favorite of the weekend is the stone lantern BW gave me for our anniversary, and installs yesterday. So pretty during the day, and what a lovely glow it gives at night. I think it’ll be my favorite thing for a long time. Across from that, my Rose of Sharons are about to burst into bloom.

Stone lantern
Rose of Sharon on the bring of bloom

Purple coneflowers and Susies bright in my beds, cardinal flowers ready to pop. Spilling nasturtium, bold begonias, cheery garden phlox. Hydrangeas lush and lovely–and so plentiful I cut some to enjoy inside.

Coneflowers, Susies, nasturtium
Hydrangea display

It so satisfies me to see the rewards for the years of work, to see each area we tend develop its own personality.
It’s even more satisfying to see it all on an evening walk after a good day’s writing.

I’ll miss that this week, but I’m pretty sure the family time–and a couple of good massages–will more than make up for it.

Nora

GO WEST YOUNG MAN

This summer’s grandkid trip features Logan at fifteen, and–by his choice–Montana.

He and his posse–BW, Jason, Kat, Griffin and me–head off to Paws Up for five packed days. When a boy’s never been west, you can’t have a much better intro than Montana.

The flight out’s smooth–thank all the gods–and the weather when we land a LOT cooler than Maryland. First stop, a bite to eat which includes Griffin’s favorite treat, french fries.

His Nana’s grandson.

Then it’s time to fulfill Logan’s first request. The boy needs a hat and boots. This offers a nice walk–stretch those plane legs–and a chance to see some of the horses in the paddock before BW checks Logan in for his first activity.

A guy can’t go west without testing his skills on the rifle range.

I plop Griffin on the grass. He is very entertained grabbing it, yanking it, talking to it.

He’s also thrilled to gut laughs by the tether ball play.

Kitted out.
Sunny afternoon with Nana + grass!
The spellbinding tetherball.
Can’t look at the camera right now because: HORSE!

Grandda takes Logan to the range, and the rest of us head to our cabin to unpack, settle in. It turns out Logan has a keen eye and steady hand with a .22. Those endless hours of video games likely help there. Montana Logan shoots the crap out of the targets for a solid 90 minutes.

Call him DeadEye.

Logan has the loft room in the cabin, so I join Kat and Griffin to show him his space. As he’s well pleased we leave him to unpack then clean up before his first western barbecue.

Kat, Griffin and I decide to walk over to the Village, and while the road–pitted, horse poop, rough–is a challenge for the stroller, we manage just fine. You can smell the burgers and dogs and brats before you get there, and hear the music from the live band on the outdoor stage.

Griffin likes the music, and shows his own keen eye every time a pretty girl walks by. The men join us for the feast, the view, the music. You don’t go hungry at Paw’s Up. And, oh, that sky.

Dinner al fresco.
Full plate.

But our body clocks are still on East Coast time, and we unanimously agree to call it an early night.

We (except Griffin and me) have a hot air balloon ride booked for the morning. But the weather up there looks iffy, so that’s called off.

I head up to the living area of the loft for my workout while Logan catches more zzzs in his bedroom. I hear Jason and Griffin down below, go to the rail to say good morning. It’s rewarding to hear Griffin’s happy babble when he sees me. Jason brings him up, puts him in the pack and play. He’s well entertained watching his Nana jump around for her cardio section before the rest of the crew stir and all but Nana head out for breakfast.

Since they won’t be gliding up in the clouds, we vote to hike down to the obstacle course. The Grizzly Man isn’t for wimps. I have to give Kat major kudos for hiking it with an extra twenty pounds of Griffin strapped to her in the pack.

The trail’s steep. I’m talking feel those quads sing steep. Logan handles the obstacles like an American Ninja champ. Nothing stops him. And he instantly becomes Griffin’s favorite cousin, bringing on gut laughs as he climbs, swings on ropes, jumps and balances.

Logan the Magnificent.
Hidden high above the course.
The conqueror

I’m in pretty good shape considering, but I’m winded more than once on the climb. That’s okay because I can take time to admire the wildflowers. We’ve never been here this early in the season, so I haven’t seen the bitter cress or wild lupine in bloom. Makes me happy when I catch my breath.

And I only had to wince and close my eyes a couple of times while Logan performed.

Lunch!

Well earned and much appreciated.

The gang–which does not, again, include Griffin and me–have a river float booked. After Daddy entertains his boy with tosses and rubbing his belly on Daddy’s head, Griffin and I are happy to wave them off. We have some play time, then a nice rock on the porch when he gives Nana those I’m Tired tells. I’ll take rocking a cuddly baby on the porch with a fabulous view any day over riding the rapids.

The crew.

Team Logan returns, wet, cold, triumphant.

Logan’s favorite cousin status is only more solidly cemented.

The whole river gang hits the hot tub.

Time for dinner.

We thought to play a game or two after, but the energetic day’s taken its toll all around. So goodnight!

Workout for me in the morning, then breakfast for the gang. And we’re off for a guided tour of Garnet Ghost Town.

Our guides point out the beargrass along the way. Fascinating starry white puffs on stalks. Each plant only blooms every three to five years. The woods and hills around Garnet are loaded with them.

Beargrass
Up close
Ghost town pose.

We do our tour on a gorgeous morning walking around and through the old log buildings of the once thriving mining community. Daddy hauls the baby, Mama hauls the baby, everybody eventually hauls the baby who loves looking at everything and every one.

And before you know it, lunch!

My two boys really pack it in. No fussy eaters here.

Logan, Jason and Kat are off to ride ATVs. Time for another porch rock, and some down time while the baby naps.

ATV adventurers

Our adventurers come back coated with dust and success.

Clean up time before our Chuck Wagon Dinner experience.

We now have two cowboys as Kat and Jason scored a bandanna and boots for Griffin! He is seriously dressed for Chuck Wagon time.

Serious cowboy

They shuttle us over to yet another gorgeous area of the resort by the Blackfoot. Food’s more than plentiful, but first Montana Logan heads to the river. I watch him and Kat skipping stones.

Kat wins this one, hands down.

Pretty, pretty evening, lots of kids running around, some cowboy poetry. And more grass for Griffin. I swear he’d sit for hours in the grass.

OOOOH! Grass. Thanks Nana.

But there’s horseshoes, and I spot Logan taking on Grandda. We have to go watch this. Kat, Jason and I play pass-the-baby. The score stays close, but it looks like experience will triumph over youth.

But then, Logan, steely-eyed, lofts his shoe. It’s a Ringer!

I wish I’d had my camera out to capture that look of surprised delight on his face. I did get the aftermath. And he takes BW by a point.

Good form.
The ringer.

Back home. And some Reverse Charades.

This again has the baby in squealing with joy. Look at all those crazy people!

Logan thrashes us.

Night!

BW to read, me to sleep, and apparently the rest to hang out awhile. During that time, Logan’s favorite cousin status reaches new heights–as they demonstrated for me in the morning.

Logan meows. Griffin: Hysterical!

Logan shakes his hair. Griffin: Gut-busting!

Logan makes a face. Griffin: I think I cracked a rib!

Kat, being one smart mama, now enlists Logan every time she needs to change Griffin if he’s fussy. All Logan has to do with shake his hair or make noises, and Griffin’s squealing with joy.

I love, seriously, how engaged and patient Logan is with him. He’ll get down on the floor with him, or take his hands for Griffin’s favorite walking practice. And the little guy will walk endlessly if you can keep up. They’ve bonded hard over these days to the point Griffin just has to see him to break out in grins and excitement.

Morning time. Breakfast for them, workout for me. Then BW and I have massages booked.

Ahhh. A trip to Spa Town’s just what the doctor ordered. Blissed out we return for Logan’s Aerial Adventure Course. I’ve seen him take on those types of courses before–he’s like a monkey. But this one is bigger and more complex.

He handles it like freaking Spider-Man. And again has Griffin lost in hero worship. He swings, he climbs, he balances, he walks the tightrope, he belays down from–I don’t know how high a platform–then climbs up to the second part of the course.

We find grass for Griffin. Logan finishes the 90 minute course with 20 to spare, and is invited to do any part of it he likes again. But he’s satisfied. And hungry.

I like grass that’s THIS high.

Lunch is welcome, followed by a little down time. We have a jigsaw puzzle we’re working on. Progress made.

It’s Griffin and me and the rocking chair. And the rest off for a trail ride.

When the gang returns I learn they had the kind of excitement you’d rather not. Jason says he noticed his mount seemed a little testy, kept putting his ears back. Then about ten minutes away from home, he spooked. Turned straight into Kat’s horse, spooking that one. Had Logan’s horse shying.

Logan got his under control, Kat managed to pull hers up from the gallop he’d launched into. But as Jason pulled back, his horse turned again, and tossed him.

Before.
Just about to head out.

Fortunately–as best as you can be fortunate–he took the brunt of the fall on his hip and shoulder. The wrangler was quick, and they called out the EMTs just to be sure. The group’s a little shaken, and Jason plenty sore on top of it.

He’s got ice, has a long hot shower, some Advil. He’s moving slow, but okay. Still we opt out of that night’s BBQ. The rest head off–and they’ll bring us food back. I’ve pretty much hit a wall activity-wise and take a solid nap. That with a minor break, turns into 10 solid hours of sleep.

Human enough in the am for my workout. Jason’s better, but his main deal now seems like a pulled inner thigh muscle. Some stretching, some ice, a spin in the hot tub. Improvement.

Better yet, he and Kat and Logan have massages later in the day. Perfect timing for Jason. Kat and Griffin go rappelling. Jason’s in no shape for that! But Kat rediscovers her love for it, and Logan has a great time.

Another day, another rope.

They head down after lunch for a good rub while Griffin and I have that floor and porch time.

Logan, Grandda and Kat head to the go-cart course. Though he’s doing better, Jason opts out. The report is, once again, Logan wins the day.

Logan and and his Granda.

We’d planned to have dinner and a movie in the cabin for our last night. Our timing is perfect. As we wait for our food delivery, a storm–a whopper–rolls in. It’s dramatic and fabulous–especially since we’re all cozy indoors. (Logan’s become our official fire starter.)

The wind blows, the rain slashes, and the hail shoots like bbs. I have drama, wine and a fire. It’s pretty great.

It blows out again while we eat.

Up to the loft for movie time. How about some Captain Marvel? Griffin doesn’t make it through, but sleeps peacefully on Kat’s lap.

It’s a nice, relaxing end to our many adventures.

Miscellaneous photos from the trip:

Quick morning workout, pack it up. Breakfast, happy Griffin who watches Logan with adoration all the way down the loft stairs.

Back to the airport on a–thankfully–clear day for the flight home.

Have to say goodbye to Jason and Kat–who remain the best traveling companions ever–and the happiest baby in the world of babies.

We’ll see them again soon as we have our full-on family spa week coming up in no time.

Drop Logan off at his mom’s, and his two siblings actually come outside to see him. Absence makes the heart grow, after all.

Home to the dogs, to unpack, to just chill.

Those cowboys wore me out!

The boys.

But nothing makes a nana’s heart smile more than having her teenage grandson tell her this was his best vacation ever.

Happy trails!

Nora

Vendetta in Death excerpt

We’re less than 70 days out so I think it’s time for a sneak peek at Vendetta in Death, don’t you? First, the book description.

She calls herself Lady Justice. She chooses a man as her target, then turns herself into tall blonde or a curvaceous redhead — an alluring, seductive illusion. Once in her grasp, her target is powerless.

The first victim is wealthy businessman Nigel McEnroy. His company’s human resources department has already paid out settlements to a couple of his young victims but they don’t know that his crimes go far beyond workplace harassment. Lady Justice knows. And in one shocking night of brutality, she makes him pay a much steeper price.

As Eve combs through the evidence of McEnroy’s secret life his compulsive need to record his misdeeds hints at a wide range of suspects, but Lady Justice remains elusive and escalates rapidly. If Eve can’t stop this vigilante, there’s no telling how much blood may be spilled.

Read Chapter One.

Speculate away in the comments.

Laura

Hi and Bye

Here’s a quick one before we take off in the morning. It’s Logan’s turn for a summer trip! We’ll send a report, and plenty of pictures when we get back.

I get to have my oldest and youngest grandsons for five fun days!

Meanwhile, I had a very solid, productive writing week. It’s always fun to spend time with Eve, Roarke and the gang. And to be able to stick with it, and them, without needing to stop and go anywhere! Yay!

Today meant getting that workout in early—and doing a little extra as tomorrow’s a travel day. Then packing. And packing, and figuring, and packing.

My wall/paver guys have done an amazing job, and are nearly done. It LOOKS done, but there’s backfilling, and lights to install, and clean up. I’m just so happy with the results. And finally, BW and I could move pots who’ve been waiting in far too much shade for their place on the lower patio. I expect my geraniums will thank me with lots and lots of blooms.

I got my weeding and deadheading done, and had a very fine time with it.

And discovered lilies! Two years running, the deer ate them all. We’ve been battling them fiercely this year, and we’re winning!

Happy, too, we’ve worked on problem sloping, shady areas, and are gradually improving them.

I bought my gorgeous new fairy, intending to use her in the shade. But her beautiful bronze skin would disappear. So I switched her out, and she’s lovely and happy where we put her. Now the very white reading girl pops in the shade with a cairn, an old hand plow and my tree of life gate.

My nasturtiums—Laura always gets me seeds—are throwing vivid blooms, and before long will spill artistically over my garden wall. I love adding them to salads—along with my thriving herbs.

It’s been great to spend so much time playing in the garden. I’m going to go spray my tomatoes and peppers with an epsom salt solution, then come inside, sign four tubs of books.

And done!

We head out and head off early tomorrow morning. I’ll miss my garden, miss Eve and Roarke, but I think I’ll be too busy having fun to notice.

Nora

Time for fun

If you don’t have time, you need to make time for fun now and again. This was my week for making fun time.

What could be more fun that a day with girls–sisters and daughters–and the happiest baby in the world?

It’s our tradition to do a shopping spree at Saks in Tyson’s every year for Kat’s birthday. The team we work with there aren’t just the best, but have become family over the years. We start off in an area they’ve closed off for us and transformed into a garden–with a harpist!

Oh, the peonies! So fragrant, and fat as soccer balls.

Griffin likes the music, and also the selection of handsome baby clothes to pick from. Nana shows his some options. Yeah, that’s okay, hmm not bad. But when she holds up a little man suit, this is met with enthusiasm. Obviously, every handsome boy must have a little man suit.

We have delicious shortbread cookies–butterflies, dragon flies, blue birds–and an incredible cookie birdhouse made by Lily from the Graff department. She’s an baking artist. Some of these I have to take home for Kayla as my girl is extremely fond of Lily’s creations.

Delish!

Then it’s time to get serious about wardrobe for girls.

Griffin hangs with us, hangs out with the team, has a walk-about and even takes a nap. When we break for lunch the teams presents us with an amazing gift. They will have a dogwood tree (which happens to have been Kat’s mother’s favorite) planted wherever Kat wants, and have included a really lovely plaque. It’s so touching, so thoughtful.

Kat and Jason will find a spot in their lovely yard where they’ll be able to watch it grow and bloom.

We have a simply wonderful day, and are now outfitted for all our summer adventures.

Because fun days should be expanded whenever possible, we learned years ago to stay overnight. After a post-shopping room service dinner, we have to say bye to Mary and Sarah–both have obligations in the morning. But Laura, Kat, Griffin and I get comfortable.

Griffin isn’t interested in sleep because this is too much fun. Laura can make noises by rubbing her fingers over the sofa, and there’s nothing funnier than that. Still, eventually it’s night-night for all.

I wake as usual about five-fifteen. But I wake to the sound of a baby laughing. About the best wake-up call ever. I join Kat and Griffin and a glorious sunrise for amusement with hands and sofa noises.

Mama’s tired, and Nana’s up, so Kat can catch more sleep while I get more play time. The boy doesn’t last long before he starts the eye-rubbing, head scratching that says: I need a nap. While he naps, I get my workout in–a good deal for all.

After-nap munchies

All good things must end, so we pack up–it’s quite a load–and head out. Happy Almost Birthday, Kat!

Back to work for me, but a slightly shorter day of it Friday as my older babies are coming to dinner. A good time to catch up on what’s what at the end of the school year. The two oldest will be joining the work force this summer around vacations–a very nice balance, imo.

We’ll be having fun with Logan shortly as it’s his turn for a summer trip, and it’s coming right up. Details to come.

Saturday, it’s work out, get in some quick gardening because we’re spending the afternoon in Baltimore at an O’s game. Kayla’s going with us. Logan declined as he considers baseball boring.

I love the boy, but this is heresy!

It’s a perfect day–low 80s, low humidity, sunny, and there’s nothing prettier than a baseball field. And no field is prettier than Camdon Yards.

We’re a happy group, guests of my broker and his team. Kayla and I settle in to watch them finish prepping the infield as the stands fill up.

And here comes Griffin for his first ballgame. Unlike Logan, he doesn’t seem to find it boring. He also samples his first crab cake, and like a good Maryland boy, enjoys it.

A pretty little blonde girl flirts with Griffin who flirts right back.

We have a fine time despite watching the O’s lose. They just fell apart after the fifth. But I’ve had time with my oldest and youngest grandbabies, hang out with Jason–who loves baseball–and Kat–who simply doesn’t understand it–on a perfect June day.

Thanks, Bill!

Today, I get my workout in, and focus on finishing some gardening. Then it’s deal with my seriously disordered house.

Because tomorrow, solid work time starts again. And that’s fun, too.

Nora

The official blog for Nora Roberts and J.D. Robb readers