Flash-fiction: I’ll Be Home for Christmas

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I’m dreaming tonight of a place I love
Even more than I usually do
And although I know
It’s a long road back
I promise you

 “Hi, sweetie. I’m checked into the hotel, and I’ve got The Nutcracker on the television. I’m sorry we couldn’t see it together, but I know you’re having a great time at the ballet with Grandpa. I miss you, sweetheart, and I love you.”

The voicemail system wouldn’t leave her leave a message that was any longer. It was the 20th of December, and instead of being home with her daughter, putting up their apartment-sized tree and watching cheesy Christmas movies on the Hallmark channel, Rose was in yet another hotel room, in yet another city, preparing for yet another sales presentation in the morning.

Being a single mother was tough enough when she was home full time, but with her recent promotion, Rose was on the road nearly two weeks of every four. It was only temporary, of course. A new sales rep was coming on board after the holidays.

Until then, there would be four more nights of hotel sheets and hotel shampoo and hotel food, and the knowledge that she was missing all the holiday traditions she and her seven-year-old daughter had established in their life together.

I’ll be home for Christmas
You can count on me
Please have snow and mistletoe and presents under the tree

“Hi, honey. I’m sorry I missed you. I’m sitting in the lobby of the hotel listening to a man play Christmas songs on the piano, and sipping peppermint hot chocolate. Grandpa promised to record your choir concert tonight – did you get the flowers I sent? Did you like the chocolates? – We can watch the video of your show when I get home, okay? I love you.”

It had to be the Peterson account that made her late for her evening call with her daughter. They were one of the oldest clients her company had, but they demanded special care. Sure, they’d provided a lovely meal, but the filet mignon had tasted like sand, especially when they were eating it in a restaurant decorated with a chocolate Christmas village. (She snapped a picture with her phone to show Daisy.)

“Is this seat taken?”

Rose looked up to see a man about her age, maybe a little older. Brown hair with a touch of gray at the temples, expensive suit with a whimsical Christmas-themed tie (Peanuts? Really?) and brown eyes that twinkled pleasantly. Any other night, she’d have said no.

“How can I say no to a man who’s willing to wear that tie in public?” she said, by way of an answer. “I’m Rose.”

“Michael,” he said, trading his name for hers. He settled into the seat across from her, adding, “My son picked out the tie.”

“You have a son?”

“Charlie; he’s eight.” His expression grew slightly sheepish. “I have to confess: I overheard you leave that message, and thought another parent would be a safe person to share a table with.”

Rose softened toward him. “I was trying to reach my daughter, Daisy. She’s seven. Her school’s winter concert is tonight, but my meeting ran late, and then there was dinner and…” she trailed off. “Sorry.”

“It’s fine,” he said. “I wish I were home with Charlie, probably about as much as you want to be home with your daughter. I had to leave him with my sister.”

“You’re divorced?” It was a safe bet. Single fathers always went for the silly child-provided ties.

“Widowed,” he answered softly. “My wife died last January. This is our first Christmas without her.”

“I’m so sorry,” Rose said. “That can’t be easy.”

Michael shook his head. “We’ll manage. We have to. What about you? You mentioned a grandfather…”

“Divorced. Daisy’s father and I dated in high college, got married too young, and ended things when she was one. He’s a good father, but he’s active duty army. Deployed.”

“Wow. Do you… is he safe?”

“I hope so,” Rose said. “He usually manages to get time on the satellite phone on Sundays, but this Sunday is Christmas, so…” She paused, and sipped from her drink. It was peppermint hot chocolate, as she’d told Daisy in her voice message, but the mint came from a healthy shot of peppermint schnapps. “I’m sorry; I don’t usually talk this much to total strangers.”

“We single parents have to stick together,” Michael said. “Don’t apologize.” He stared at her cup. “What are you drinking?” She told him, and he grinned and flagged down the server. “I’ll have what she’s having… and a plate of those butter cookies.”

It was a pleasant hour or so, Rose reflected later, sipping the beverage that warmed her in more ways than one, and sharing the lightly-lemon flavored half-moon cookies with her new… friend? Acquaintance? It didn’t really matter. She likely wouldn’t see him again.

Christmas eve will find me
Where the love light gleams
I’ll be home for Christmas
If only in my dreams

“Hi, Daisy. I’m at the airport but there’s snow here in Chicago, and my flight is delayed. I know tomorrow’s Christmas Eve, and I promise I’ll be home in time for pancakes and seeing Santa at the firehouse. Remind Grandpa to ask Anna to have your red velvet dress ready for tomorrow night.  I love you.”

The weather had caused the delay or outright cancellation of so many flights, but Rose had gotten lucky. She was flying away from the storm, not into it, and even though her original flight had been scratched, they’d found a seat for her on the ten p.m. to Denver. She wasn’t thrilled about having to drive the hour-plus home after midnight, but at least she’d make it home for the holiday.

And they’d bumped her to first class for her trouble.

Settling into her seat, Rose accepted the offer of a single glass of red wine, and arranged her neck pillow so she could look out the window and still be comfortable.

They were about to close the aircraft door when there was a flurry of activity and a brown-haired man appeared in the aisle. For a moment, she wasn’t entirely certain he was her companion from the other night, but then his tie – Calvin and Hobbes this time – swung free, and she smiled.

“Rose,” he greeted. “We meet again. Is Denver home for you?”

“Michael,” she responded. She sipped her wine before sharing, “I live about an hour away from the airport, in the mountains. Georgetown.”

“Oh, I know it well. Quintessentially cute, tucked in at the bottom of the switchbacks before Guanella Pass.”

“Okay, no one knows that…”

“They do if they live in Silver Plume.”

She couldn’t help it; she goggled at him. “Silver Plume kids go to school in Georgetown.”

“They do.”

“So if either of us were ever home…”

“We’d probably have met at parents’ night. I’m loving the irony.”

The plane had pushed back from the gate while they were chatting, but Rose barely noticed. What would have been one more excruciating flight had become a pleasant interlude in a month of disappointments and frustrations.

They chatted amiably from take-off to landing, parting ways in the parking garage, though Michael had insisted upon walking Rose to her car before going to find his own.

Inside her vehicle, Rose texted her father an update on her status while she waited for the engine to warm up. She’d forgotten to ask for Michael’s last name, but she could always ask Daisy about a boy named Charlie, one grade ahead of her.

Or not.

She saw him stowing his suitcases – like hers, one was full of presents for a waiting child – in the trunk of his car as she drove through the nearly-empty parking structure toward the exit. Impulsively, she pulled over and rolled down the window. “Hey, Silver Plume!”

“Georgetown!” he grinned at her. “We’re not using first names anymore? If you call me ‘Colorado’ does that mean we’re breaking up?”

She laughed. “Tomorrow morning, nine-thirty, the Happy Cooker. Daisy and I do ritual gingerbread pancakes and then see Santa iat the fire station down on Main. You and Charlie should join us.”

“Oh yeah?”

“Yeah!” She hesitated. “Make sure  he chooses a really good tie.”

They exchanged numbers, just in case, and then Rose put her car back in gear and headed home. The Christmas lights on their vintage Queen Anne-style home were switched on, waiting to welcome her back, and she smiled as she wheeled her luggage up the stairs.

Inside, her father was sitting at the kitchen table working a crossword puzzle. “Hey, traveler,” he greeted, rising to enfold her into a flannel-clad hug.

“Dad. You didn’t have to wait up.”

“Now, you know that’s not true.”

“Okay,” she said. “Would you mind heating up some water for tea? I want to peek in on Daisy.”

“She was out like a light, last I checked.”

Rose smiled, but she climbed up the stairs anyway, and kept her footsteps as quiet as possible as she moved down the hall to the end room where her daughter slept. The door was cracked open, as usual, but she pushed it wider so she could see her child’s still form.

She’d kicked the covers off again.

Rose moved into Daisy’s room and settled the sheets and blankets back over the little girl’s shoulders. Then she placed a gentle kiss on her daughter’s forehead.

The child stirred in her sleep. “Mom?”

“Yes, Daisy. It’s Mom. I’m home.”

“Good. Love you.” And she was asleep again, just like that.

“Love you too, sweetie,” Rose whispered. She retreated to the doorway where she remained, watching her sleeping child, until she heard the low whistle of the tea kettle.

Christmas eve will find me
Where the love light gleams
I’ll be home for Christmas
If only in my dreams

 

“I’ll Be Home for Christmas” was written by Kim Gannon and Walter Kent, based on a poem by Buck Ram.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Flash-fiction: They Grow Up So Fast

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They had just pushed the button to illuminate the Christmas tree when the power flickered out. It came back a few seconds later, but the blackout had lasted just long enough to disrupt the time on every digital clock in the house.

“Mom, I think we lost internet!” Her son was leaning over the upstairs balcony railing.

“That happens when the power goes out,” her daughter shouted upwards. “Anyway, you were standing next to me when the lights went out… you teleported didn’t you.”

“Geez, Sam, rat me out, why don’t you?”

“Patrick, do not blame your sister for your own actions. The internet will reset in another minute or so. Please come back down here – and use the stairs. Samantha, tattling on people only makes people resentful.”

“But you know the power glitches every time he does it.”

Helen sighed. “I know. But your brother is starting puberty and his power is fluctuating.”

“You mean he’s getting hormones?” The ten-year-old imbued the word with a sense of wonder. Well, really it was affectionate mockery and wonder.

“Yes.”

“Didja have to tell her that?” Patrick had returned to the first floor of their house.

“It’s a fact of life, Patrick. And at least you’re a boy. When Samantha gets to that stage a few power fluctuations are the least we’ll have to worry about.”

Patrick glanced at his sister. “Wow. That kinda sucks.”

“Yes,” Helen agreed. “It ‘kinda’ does. In any case, we’ve talked about this before: no big magic in the house – it alters the electrical fields and affects all our technology, not just the power grid.”

“Teleporting isn’t big magic.”

“Maybe not for you,” Helen countered. “But displacing the mass of a human, and then reintegrating that mass in a new location takes a lot of power, even if you’re not feeling the effects yourself.” She paused letting her words sink in.

“So, how do I practice?”

“Well, you’re thirteen now. I think it’s time you started Magical Education Classes. When the winter break is over, we’ll see about getting you enrolled.”

“Is it true there are all-wizard schools, like in Harry Potter?”

Helen chuckled. “Oh, if only. Just think how much easier life would be without your friends constantly asking if you could just make their homework appear or speed the time ahead so they didn’t have to go to gym. No, Magical Education is sort of like… you have friends who do their Confirmation or Bar Mitzvah classes after school, right?”

“Yeah, sure. Zachary Schwartz has been bragging that Lady Gaga is performing at his party.”

“Well, this doesn’t come with pop singers, but Mother Margery at the Episcopal church teaches a Coming of Magical Age class on Tuesdays and Thursdays. You’ll be doing that.”

“Mother Margery’s okay,” Patrick allowed.

“Mom, are we ever gonna light this tree? Dad’ll be home soon.

“Oh, sweetie, I’m sorry,” Helen apologized. “Yes, let’s do it right now.”

Mother and children gathered around the decorated tree, and Samantha grabbed for the remote with the button that controlled it.

Helen put a loving hand on her daughter’s shoulder. “Would you mind if we let Patrick do it his way, just this once?”

The younger of the children took a beat to think it over. “I guess,” she shrugged. Then she glared at her brother. “But if you make the lights go out again, I’ll tell Josie Frye that you like her.”

For a moment, Helen thought her son was going to argue the point. Instead, he said. “I won’t. I promise.”

Patrick faced the tree and closed his eyes, just concentrating. After a moment, the lights on the tree began to glow, softly at first, then more brightly, one at a time, from the light on the bottom row in the back, all the way through the circuit.

“Did it work?” he asked, a bit uncertainly.

“It’s beautiful,” Samantha breathed.

Patrick opened his eyes. “The regular power will keep them on,” he said. “I just got them going.”

“That was cool,” Sam pronounced. “Dad’s gonna love it.”

Helen stepped away from the tree to dim the room lights. Her husband would be home from work shortly, but she was enjoying this precious moment. All too soon, Patrick would be too old for tree-lighting, and Samantha’s magic, when it manifested, would likely have nothing to do with electricity.

They grow up so fast, she thought.

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Flash-fiction: Poinsettias

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“They say that things just cannot grow
Beneath the winter snow,
Or so I have been told.”

 – Sarah Bareilles & Ingrid Michaelson, “Winter Song”

The signs on the greenhouse doors warn against the use of magic in six different languages, but even so, it’s tempting to do just a tiny warming spell to ward off the chill. Inside, Ophelia knows, the air will be warm and humid, but outside it’s Deep Winter, and she resents having her fingers go numb on the walk from the main house to the greenhouse where the Work is done.

With a mittened fist, she presses the button for the intercom, waits for the buzz, and then announces. “Ophelia Bloome. Incoming.”

Hold for retinal scan.

She peels her hat away from her eyebrow and lowers her scarf just enough to give the scanner an unobstructed view of her right eye.

Scanning… scanning… scanning…

It always seems to take longer when the weather is cold, Ophelia thinks, but if she mentions that to Gran the old woman will tell her it’s Nonsense and remind her that Everyone Knows Cold Makes Computers Work More Efficiently. (Gran always spoke as if every word was capitalized and amplified, the result of a lifetime of living with a husband who excelled at situational deafness until age finally took his hearing away for real.)

Identity confirmed. Good morning, Ophelia. Please come inside.

It’s her imagination, isn’t it, that the computerized security system is always much more polite once the scans are complete? It doesn’t actually have a technopixie working inside it, imbuing it with personality, does it? That would be dangerous for the plants.

The outer doors swish open, just like the doors on Star Trek, and Ophelia steps into the airlock. Vestibule, she corrects herself. It’s just a vestibule. This is real life, not science fiction.

With the outer doors closed behind her, she strips off her outerwear, trading her snowsuit and boots for denim overalls and sneakers. Then she triggers the inner doors, which don’t so much swish as creak.

The inside of the greenhouse is a technological marvel, with heat lamps and misters and every kind of measuring implement ever invented to track growth rates and division patterns, to determine optimal climate zones and confirm hardiness. Even the ceiling was programmable on a section-by-section basis so that day-lilies could thrive next to night-blooming cactus if the Gardeners so desired.

“You’re A Bit Late This Morning,” Gran announced too close to Ophelia’s left ear.

“The coffee maker was infusing every cup with Daydreams,” the younger woman explained. “Alex had to shake me out of them twice, and then I had to return the favor, before we figured out it was time to descale the thing.”

“Magic Builds Up Just Like Minerals,” Gran explained. “Your Grandfather Is Supposed To Maintain The Kitchen Gadgets.”

“Well, maybe you can remind him of that,” Ophelia suggested with only a hint of a smirk. “What’s on schedule for today?”

“Poinsettias.” The old woman pointed a gnarled finger at the farthest corner of the mile-square space (like many magical edifices it was bigger on the inside), under an arch of candy canes. “You Know They Call Them Flors de Nochebuena In Spanish?”

“Yes, Gran. But I didn’t know we Worked with them.”

“Of Course We Do!” The old woman had a way of making Ophelia feel like a six-year-old more often than not, and her loud speech didn’t help. “Come, Child.”

Dutifully, she trotted along behind her grandmother on the moving sidewalk that ran down the center of the building. There were golf carts, as well, but Gran preferred to walk, and on the days Ophelia had to Assist her, she walked, too.

At the poinsettia grove, both woman stopped, and the older one activated one of the touch panels and called up a recipe. (She preferred that term to ‘spell,’ but really, the two were interchangeable.) “Read That Out To Me, Child.”

“One part Spirit of the Season, one part Hospitality, and two parts Pleasant Dreams,” Ophelia read from the digital display. “To be Worked by someone in the first third of life, and someone in the last.” She looked up, understanding, suddenly, why they would be doing this project together. “Oh… Gran.”

The old woman didn’t speak, just took up her position at the Working station, and jerked her head to the left so that the younger one would follow suit.

It took two or three hours of concentration, but when they were through, the red, pink, and white plants glittered faintly in their foil-wrapped pots. They’d been infused with Holiday Magic, and were ready to be loaded onto the conveyor belt that would take them out of the Shielded greenhouse and onto the loading dock, where Alex would ensure they were packed into temperature controlled trucks for delivery.

Hours later, Ophelia was curled up in her favorite chair in her cottage on the family property. The winter storm had killed the electricity again, but she’d Enhanced her Roku-TV so that she could get Netflix without it, and with cheesy holiday movies playing on the 40-inch screen, a pot of spiced tea, and a crackling fire, she couldn’t imagine being any cozier.

The holiday season had officially begun, and Bloome and Greene Florists was looking at a banner year.

Once Upon a December

Copyright: <a href='http://www.123rf.com/profile_michaklootwijk'>michaklootwijk / 123RF Stock Photo</a>This is not a #MusicAdvent post. It’s also not a #Holidailies post.  Oh, and it’s not a #DecemberReflections post either.

This is an admin post warning you about what’s going on with the Bathtub Mermaid this December.

Because I like to challenge myself (or because I’m insane, possibly both) I’m doing a triple cocktail of Holiday Blog/Twitter/Instagram projects, and may (or may not) be combining them.

(Actually, I may be doing a fourth project at the same time, but that will only be 12 days, and not 25 or 31)

So, here’s the lowdown on what to expect.

Today (1 December 2016) is the first day of MusicAdvent, in which people share a song every day from now til Christmas. This year, the challenge is to chain the songs together, so that each song somehow connects to the previous one. I came this|close to using “The Alphabet Song” or  “Alligators All Around” because that way the instant connection would be that they’d be in alphabetical order, but that would be cheating. So, you’ll have to go follow me on twitter (see my link in the sidebar) to find out what song I start with.

Today (1 December 2016) is also the first day of Holidailies, which I’ve been participating in for over a decade now. If you visited this space, or listened to my podcast, in October, you know I also participated in the darker version of that project, #HorrorDailies. But this month is for the original.

And finally, today (1 December 2016) is the first day of December Reflections  which I’ll be doing mostly on Instagram (link in sidebar).

Oh, and that fourth project? It will be a 12-day podcast thing, like a mini-version of Dog Days of Podcasting, and you’ll be able to follow that at BathtubMermaid.com when it begins.

Now, if this all sounds a bit ambitious, please remember that I reserve the right to skip days when necessary. (12/21, for example, I’ll be on a plane).

I hope you’ll take the ride with me this month. Some blog entries may incorporate the music or photo from that day; some may not. Let’s see what happens.

Oh, who am I kidding. This is totally a holidailies post.

It’s not you; It’s me.

I’ve hesitated to write anything that feels like a Holidailies wrap-up, because I sort of fizzled out of participation this year. While I laud Richard and JeniPurr for keeping the project and the community going, I just didn’t feel very connected to it this year, which is a shame, because it’s the decade of Holidailies writings that morphed into my book.

I don’t blame anyone but myself. I’m just feeling really hermit-ish this winter. I didn’t decorate my Christmas tree until I absolutely had to, and if I weren’t having guests – beloved guests – on Sunday, I’d be itching to take everything down, even though it’s not yet Epiphany.

I wrote a short story for a fan community I belong to, which seems silly, but I use it as a playground to stretch myself – write in different voices, experiment with with different points of view, different structures. It’s a good way to learn and grow without having to spend tons of time world-building.

But none of that has to do with the new year.

2015 was a challenging year for me. It’s the first year in which I’ve had hardly any paid gigs, but it’s also the first year in which I really focused on writing, so I think, in the end, it was a good year.

I mean, I published a book.
And I bought a guitar.
And made several new friends.
And made my marriage even stronger.

So, if I’m having issues with a favorite holiday project being unsatisfying this year, it’s all on me.
And actually, I’m okay with that.

Here’s to a new year. May it be full of wonder and joy.
And just a few surprises, to keep us all on our toes.

Holidailies 2015

New Years Eve at the AT&T Store

iPad Air 2 Jonathan at the AT&T Store in The Highlands of Arlington is awesome. I just thought I’d get that bit out of the way first.

Now to the real point:

I love my husband. Fuzzy adores me, supports my creative endeavors, still flirts with me after almost 21 years of marriage, and even remembers to recycle cans and boxes most of the time. he’s also Midwestern, which means “It’s okay,” is high praise, and making a decision is an agonizing experience.

It has taken him since September to figure out how to allocate his birthday money.  (He couldn’t figure out what he wanted, so we agreed that he could spend the equivalent of the cost of my guitar on something he wanted.)

When I asked him what he wanted for Christmas, he told me that he’d like to combine his birthday money with his Christmas gift and get a new iPad. This was a perfectly valid request, as Fuzzy has never had a brand-new iPad. Usually, I get a new iPad and he inherits my old one, largely because I’m a power-user, and he just plays games. I was happy to agree to his suggestion.

However.

He couldn’t decide which iPad he wanted. The current version of the iPad Air would be an upgrade beyond my Air, but the Pro was launched earlier this summer, and it’s really pretty.

Finally, on Christmas Day, he said he needed to go look at them.

But we were both exhausted and spent Christmas weekend in blissful lassitude, reading and puttering and not leaving the house.

And then he had to work.

Today, when his half-day of work was over, we trekked to the closest AT&T store, where the salespeople, who  I will not name, included a woman who kept pushing us to buy DirecTV, even though we already have Uverse, and love it, and a man who was saturated with cologne. (And I do mean saturated. Seriously, it would take him a week to sweat away all the scent he was wearing.) It turned out that they didn’t have the make and model he wanted, so we left.

Then we went to Best Buy, where they told us there would be a 40-minute wait.

There are very few pieces of mobile technology that are worth waiting forty minutes for on New Year’s Eve.

But the time in both those stores wasn’t entirely wasted. He decided the Pro was too large to be used the way he likes to use tablets.

I went online and learned that the other AT&T store near us, the one in the shopping center that is also home to our favorite movie theater, had ONE  128 GB iPad Air 2, but it was gold. “Fuzzy,” I said, “they have what you want in gold. If you REALLY want silver we’re driving to SouthLake or  Frisco.”

“Gold is good,” he said. For him, that’s almost excitement.

The Highlands AT&T store is newer, and much more spacious than the one nearer to our home. It caters to a slightly more affluent clientele. While we still had to wait, there were tables and chairs, plush benches, and lots of other things to look at.

(I might have had a brief affair with a Microsoft Surface 3. Don’t judge. I liked the fact that the keyboard, while small (which is actually good for me – I have tiny hands) was satisfyingly clicky. )

I also had a conversation with a wild-haired customer who was ranting about how AT&T is changing all their plans to scam you out of more money and how if you cancel your service while you have an installment plan on a device, you have to PAY OFF THE BALANCE!!!!! (He said it in all caps, I swear.)

And seriously, is that news to anyone?

I mean, really??

Finally, Fuzzy got his iPad and we went to the grocery store to get napkins and recycling bags and a gazillion other things, including the ingredients to make empanadas, because YUM.

So we spent a good chunk of the afternoon in the AT&T store, but that’s okay, because even in the AT&T store you can find a touch of holiday romance, like the light in your beloved’s eyes when you tell him, “Yes, sweetie, you can buy whichever one you want.”

Holidailies 2015

Thoughts from the Bath

My usual Saturday evening ritual, at least in cool weather, is to soak in the tub while listening to Selected Shorts on NPR. (I know. I live a wild life.) I use the time to just relax, away from smartphones and computer screens. Sometimes one of the dogs will join me in the bathroom, splashed on the floor like a puddle of breathing fur, but most of the time the current pack all congregates on my bed, as if they’re guarding me from whatever might come through the bedroom and into my bathroom.

So far, their vigilance has paid off, and only my husband has ever come into the room. I’m sure they feel very smug about their track record.

Sometimes in the bath, I plot out the stories I’m working on.

Often, I read.

Last night, however, as I soaked in lavender-scented water and formed castles out of the mounds of bubbles, I let my mind wander and ended up with a stream-of-consciousness that was part life commentary and part idle musing.

It went something like this:

I really need a pedicure. It’s been over a month since I had my toenails done, and hey, this purple polish has pretty good staying power, but really, purple in December? I want to make that chocolate gingerbread again, the one we put the peppermint schnapps frosting on, and I can’t remember where I put the recipe. I just realized; it’s almost Christmas and I haven’t yet used my Christmas mugs. This weird warm weather is freaking me out. I’m so tired of mosquitoes. I promised Deb I’d shoot a picture of her book somewhere in my house. Is that a thing now? I didn’t ask any of my friends to take pictures with my book. Should I have done that. Oh, hey, that quantum relationship thing I wrote for Medium needs to be in the next book; everyone seemed to really like it. What day is tomorrow in MusicAdvent? Oh, right, it began on the first so tomorrow’s the 20th. What letter are we on? Oh, right T. We’re on T. T-t-t-t-t-t-t-t. Oh! that scene in Easy A just popped into my brain.

You get the idea.

Holidailies 2015

 

I Keep Writing Entries in My Head

Dinner, December 16I keep writing entries in my head, but somehow they never make it to the blog, which is a problem since I actually look forward to Holidailies every year, as a way to recharge my writing. I’m writing other things, of course… working on the collection of cafe vignettes I’m releasing in February, working on a chapter of a story for a private group of people, but mostly, I just feel tired this month, and that’s absurd because I have to real reason to feel tired.

I’ve been keeping up with #MusicAdvent, at least, but that’s a lot easier because I can do that from my phone. Interestingly, it’s been more difficult than I expected because I committed to only using songs that are either cello covers or feature the cello in their instrumentation, and trying to do that while also not resorting to only classical, and stay in alphabetical order, has been more of a challenge than I thought it would be.

But I can do that from my phone.

So, I keep having these ideas for posts, and then I forget to write them down, even in my head, and when I sit down to actually type, my mind goes blank.

I’ve been enjoying cooking up a storm, though. It’s been unseasonably warm, which means I’m trying to balance lighter foods with the seasonal flavors I’m craving. Tonight we roasted yams with herbed sea salt I brought home from Mexico, curry, and ginger, and baked salmon with Mediterranean Rub from Tom Thumb (it’s really good; I use it for everything) and mixed greens. I love the $5 tubs of herb salad or spring greens from the O! Organics line. Most nights we add dressing, but we don’t even bother adding other vegetables.

I baked a metric ass-load of chocolate chip cookies today, because I like to have them to give away. I don’t usually chill the dough, but I did this time because (see above) I was so tired that I napped from four til dinner-time (actually, that was also the hormone-induced lethargy that always hits me really hard at certain times of the month).

It’s 12:04, but technically this entry is for the 16th, because I started it at 11:43.

Maybe tomorrow I’ll actually write something real.

Holidailies 2015

 

Big Dogs and Big Storms

You know that line in A Visit from St. Nicholas? The one about dry leaves flying before a hurricane? I always thought it felt out of place in what was, otherwise, a sweet and fluffy poem, but today that line is echoing through my head, as leaves are being blown about outside my house.

There’s definitely a storm brewing, but whether my part of the DFW metroplex will get any measurable rain is still a toss-up. Most of the time, the fact that our little corridor of I-20 seems to live in a sort of weather-proof bubble is a good thing. A couple of years ago, when tornadoes were hitting all around us, my neighborhood didn’t even lose power.

Stalking Maximus

Be very quiet; Max is stalking something.

Sometimes though, like today, I want the storm. We had crisp, cold weather until about a week ago, and then everything crept back into the 70s, which is fine, I suppose, except that it’s  December, we’re twelve days from Christmas Eve, and we still have mosquitoes.

I actually have air conditioning turned on.

Also, rain and fog make all the Christmas lights look pretty – enhancing the sparkle factor. Not that I’ve finished decorating. In truth, I’ve barely begun, and the recent weather is a big part of that. (Finishing my first book, and getting it ready to put on Amazon is another part of that, but that post has already been written.)

I’m not the only one feeling a bit off-kilter because of the weather. Max and Teddy, my two biggest dogs, have been acting kind of spooked since last night. They’re asking for extra attention, being overly clingy (even for them) and then bouncing off to chase each other around the house and yard as if they have to burn off every ounce of energy that they have right this very minute.

Watching big dogs play can be kind of intense. They slam into each other with all the force of football players, and there is much gnashing of teeth and swiping of claws.

Curious Ted

Teddy is always a bit perplexed.

They growl and roooooo! They dance around each other like prize fighters looking for the perfect opportunity to jab or cross, and then they back off, tails wagging, as if to say, “Aww, shucks, I was only playing.”

After a heavy play session, Teddy, who is four years younger and 20 pounds heavier than Max, will go to his brother and lick his ears, as if to say, “I may have bigger paws and sharper teeth, but you’re still my big brother.”

Max turned seven a few days ago, and his age is starting to show a little. The black parts of his face are bearing more and more flecks of white hair, and his stamina is fading a little bit. Of course, he’s always been a bit of a couch potato, sprawling his spotted legs over the arms of chairs, or letting them dangle off the sofa. Ted is more a hunker-down-on-the-floor kind of dog, as if he knows his soft, black fur will pick up every single bit of dust.

One thing both of these big boys have in common is that they never go too long without coming to my side, poking a wet nose into my hand, offering a callow paw to shake, and then heading off to romp again.

The leaves are flying.

The dogs are rough-housing happily.

A storm is brewing.

And I can’t wait for it to come.

Holidailies 2015

Buy this Book: The Bathtub Mermaid: Tales From The (Holiday) Tub

The Bathtub Mermaid: Tales from the (Holiday) Tub

File this under shameless self promotion.

I haven’t posted an entry here in two days, because I’ve been busy editing my book.

MY BOOK

I’ve been part of Holidailies for over a decade now (this is my eleventh year), and I’ve amassed quite a lot of holiday-related content, many of which were designated ‘best of…’ in their years of publication.

You could cull through all of my archives (a decade of archives) to find the best ones, but why, when you can buy my book?

Just in time for Christmas (or Hanukkah, Yule, Kwanzaa, whatever – it’s kind of Christmassy though, because that’s my winter holiday of choice) comes The Bathtub Mermaid: Tales From the (Holiday) Tub, and it’s available from Amazon either in paperback or for your kindle.

Here, have a very brief excerpt.

I used to walk my dog, a poodle mix named Taffy, through the packed powder in Georgetown, CO, and then flagrantly disobey my mother’s rules (and common sense), by taking her down near the frigid waters of Clear Creek, to the place behind the post office where the bank was climbable and the sandbars that were islands in the summer became mini-glaciers in the winter.

It was in the curve of that creek that my friends and I would spend hours pretending to be arctic explorers, while Taffy played the alternate parts of either a sled dog or a polar bear.

Afterwards, we’d trudge home (because trudging is really the only way you walk through snow), and I’d de-mat her paws, and we’d cuddle by the fire, while I drank cocoa with tiny marshmallows.

(Somewhat ironically, while people can get the paperback by Monday with Prime shipping, I won’t receive my author copies til after Christmas.)

Holidailies 2015