Seattle Shenanigans

Ah, romance. What else would you make a trip to Seattle for? If Tom Hanks is sad and sleepless and says so on talk radio during Christmas, this intrepid reporter is going to catch the next flight into the land-that-never-stops-raining-shoot-me-now, to cheer him up.

Or at least spy on him. The man is such a great actor, I had to watch Saving Mr Banks again last night, just to be sure. Of course, this time he was in sunny Disneyland where he and everyone else belongs, so life is good again.

The entire clan went to Seattle last week to attend my nephew’s wedding, and so far as romance goes, it was thoroughly done. Roses, harpist, ancient barn venue hung with twinkle lights and chandeliers. The ceremony had people in tears, as did the mini donut truck parked outside. Tears of joy and harmony and hot, cinnamon-powdered sweetness.

After a couple of turns on the dance floor, the newlyweds drove off in a giant truck because, weather. I’m constrained to report that the weather remained outside the building for this event and during the rest of our adventures in the city, and it was our own fault if we went through an exit.

Not Seattle’s.

Gloom on the outside, sparkles on the inside.

We’ve explored downtown on a prior trip, so we went to the waterfront for this visit, and discovered the curious, the glorious, and the grotesque.

Grotesque: Bubble gum alley. People, why? My floors were this exciting during the toddler years. I should have cordoned off my dining room and charged admission for viewing. “Move that cheerio two inches left of the grape juice spill next to last week’s bogey. Yes. Perfect.”

Glorious: Pikes Place Market. All four levels. Flavored honey. Arcade. Leather bound journals. Tibetan singing bowls. Squid. Magic tricks. Hot clam chowder and double-sour bread. Fresh cheese. Jewelry. The giant brass pig, “Rachel”, on the street corner that collects change for downtown center services.

Glorious Honorable Mention because my sister said so: The original Starbucks store. I was expecting the Sistine Starbucks and instead found a mall version. It has a brass marker stamped 1971 but no painted ceilings or statues. We should have walked nine blocks further to the Roastery, but we had plenty to work with, right where we were.

Curious: Taxidermy. Life-size wood carvings. The giant ferris wheel for a full immersion weather experience. You can buy a whole fish the size of your arm and the fishmongers will seal it into a “24 hour airplane bag” after throwing said fish around first, tenderizing it for you.

Seattle offers live fish as well, and we spent some time in the Aquarium. This is where we watched a giant octopus work his snack out of a tube and then travel around trying to find snacks in the audience. The kraken is real. We wandered into the underwater dome, trying not to hyperventilate, when I recognized a giant fish overhead.

“That’s a sturgeon!” I said, chasing it with my camera. “I know that one!”

My kids patted me on the head. It’s not like sturgeon can compete with a butterfly fish. But thanks to my author friend, Laura, I am educated now, and yes they can. Next week I will tell you all about Laura and hold a give away of her new book!

The star of next week’s blog!

However. If you sit next to me on the ride home, you’d better not be carrying a flying fish. Or an octopus. Or a prickly sea urchin, which wouldn’t be allowed through airport security anyway, as I discovered. Seattle wasn’t going to let me go home without a little personal cuddle time.

I was the lucky winner of a random TSA security check giveaway!

“I’m going to wipe this little tag over your palms to detect any trace of explosives,” said the lady.

“Cool,” I said, offering both hands. “I never win anything!”

The palm reader flashed red, declaring me a national security threat. “It could also be a lot of other things that aren’t explosives,” she said, “but we’ll have to frisk you down anyway.”

“Okay,” I said, offering my luggage, boots, purse, electronics, boarding pass. Go, ‘Merica.

“I’ll be touching your breasts, buttocks, and other body parts that shouldn’t be said out loud. Do you want a private room for this screening?”

“Nah, go for it,” I said, offering up my dignity and a lot of laughing. Pretty bold for a blind date.

I stood with my feet apart, arms out, palms up, and waited to see if anyone wandering by in the airport would notice our shenanigans. Instead, while the lady checked for sea urchins in my hair, I caught my sons standing on the other side of the blockade, taking photos, delighted with my predicament. (Later, I demanded the photos for this blog, knowing they were solid gold, and they confessed to “Snapchatting” them, which means they are lost to space and we have only the good memories to prove any of this ever happened.)

“Ma’am, this can’t be taken through security,” said the lady with a righteous frown. She pulled a yogurt cup from my purse. “This is a gel and as it clearly states, right here on the label, is over the 3.4 ounce limit.”

“Yogurt is a gel? Eww.”

She was so excited to find something amiss, that I let her run with the victory. I offered to help the other agent repack my luggage, but she was having a great time waving my brassiere around in front of everyone and cheerfully replied, “I’ve seen worse.”

Ah, romance.

The date’s a bit off, but…

PSA: Fish market door greeter. He’s on a chain and they will make him jump to scare you. You’re welcome.

Crab is about right sized.

So. Much. Nope.

Pirate gold

Purple reef

I likey.

Top Five Faves from 2019

I can’t believe it. 2019 is rolling to a close. I hope you have each decided on a creative way to ring in the fresh 2020. Perhaps with a thankful list of all the little things that brought you joy, perhaps with a sigh of relief that some things are now behind you. Or perhaps like a certain sister-in-law, determined to do a Polar Bear Plunge on the first fresh new year morning with a leap into the salty Pacific. To each her own.

Taking a peek at my website, I can see that I tried a variety of new things this year and I want to encourage you to spread your own wings, too. It’s okay to knock on doors, just to see who opens them. Bring a couple of girlfriends along, in case it’s a trap full of Imperial Stormtroopers, but most of the time, it’s just a group of Ewoks and a Baby Yoda or two. (What if there’s more than one? EEK!)

Since you’re staying up past your bedtime tonight anyway, here’s the countdown of our Top Five Blogs of 2019 to read.

5. The Blues is about depression, what feels like, how it works, and that you are loved.

4. Eldercare Where? is about transitioning through our different life stages and giving particular thought to our elders’ circumstances.

3. Pie Giveaway Time! was a fun blog to run and I’m planning a lot of giveaways next year! Stay tuned!

2. Vaping, School, and Your Kid is as labeled and full of links and photos. Parenting is not for sissies.

1. Stalked by the Empty Nest was the opener for 2019 and contains all the emotions of change.

I wish you joy and courage. I hope you do hard things and grow stronger from them. I want you to carry your laughter into battle because we are all in this together and I need to hear your giggles beside me.

Love your people, lend a hand, nourish yourself with all good things. May your light rise and brightly glow into the new year.

2019 Christmas Newsletter

2019 has been quite a year, let me catch you up!

Child Five just came into my writing lair to get the keys to my car in order to go to his day job that is usually a night job because BJs Brew House loves him. He schmoozes old ladies and brings ginormous pazookies to people and generally makes this world a better place, which is something a mother can get behind. He graduated high school in June. Like everything the kid has ever done, I celebrated with tears of joy and vowed, “We aren’t ever doing that again.”

It never gets old.

Child Five hangs out with Child Four, the two bachelors living in – let’s call it what it is – our basement. They like to style it “Man Cave” and I like to call it “The Pit of Despair” and if a cave woman ever walks by, she will agree that if a mastodon dies in the hallway, no one will ever notice. We are, neither one of us, going in there to investigate.

The two boys attend community college with lofty visions (rim shot: they are both 6’ 5”) of transferring to SDSU as Engineer majors. They sit around the table making up words for their calculus classes, like “Rolles theorem” and “left, right, Rieman sum” and “integrals”. I tell them to watch their language at the table but they don’t listen to me anymore because they are adulting now.

Adulting. This is The Way.

Did you see that coming? Quick side note that I did not see Baby Yoda coming, either, and now he must never leave and I need one for Christmas because he makes me laugh but also want to throw things and this sounds just like grand-parenting but, none of my kids are dating at the moment, so….Yoda!

Where was I?

The Middle. Child Three trains dogs. Among other career-type things. Shameless plug. Her dog is more obedient than any of my five kids ever were. It lies on a towel and won’t budge, even when you wave hotdogs under his nose. I mean, not like I tried when my daughter wasn’t looking or anything. I was happy if my kids stayed in the backyard when the ice cream truck drove by. On the other hand, her dog will also rip your face off if she says the magic word, so, pros n cons.

Child Three and Child Two, my beautiful girls, lived together in a Shoe in Ramona this year. A sweet little penny loafer that they enjoyed but will give up in a couple of weeks for closer pasture and that makes my heart happy. Child Two is sneakily educating children through the use of science and creativity (ie: fun), both on the job and through personal tutoring, and may take her talents into the school district next year. So long as she avoids calculus, we can hang out.

Child One has been orbiting our universe for so long that we think of him like Santa Claus. Maybe he’s real. Maybe he’ll show up if we leave out cookies. He’s not a holiday human, which is okay, but if he decides to pay us a visit, just know that a trap has been laid and we are ready for “Operation Santa Snatch”.

Hubby built a wall this year. Out of eighty pound blocks of cement. Then he built a deck. Out of PVC planks that are fire-proof , termite-proof, water-proof, and walking-on proof. Don’t ask. Hubby thinks retirement sounds fabulous until it occurs to him that he will be subjected to my sarcasm 24/7 and then he goes to work whistling. Which makes him both strong and wise.

Who, me?

I’ve been very patient and responsible and went to writing classes for a year to learn how to write a novel. Now I have a novel but it has to be REWRITTEN and EDITED and subjected to further SCRUTINY before it’s allowed to be born and the temptation to go rogue and self publish exactly what I think about that is dancing through my head.

Ahem.

I love my actual job. I provided excellent service to my freelance clients this year and they let me make glorious words for them. They are the warm steady glow in an office filled with strobe lights and laser beams. And a chicken.

And a wardrobe with Narnia inside.

I sit in my closet, wardrobe thrown open wide, and magic pours out. With it, I spin the straw from my emptying nest into the gold of new dreams. And everything sort of sparkles.

Merry Christmas to each one of you, and a very Sparkly New 2020.

Sweet as Pie Winner

Congrats to our Pie-in-a-Jar Giveaway drawing winner! Mark Ishman will be enjoying a personal sized Five-Spice Pear-Apple Pie made by “The Peace of Pie” bloggess, Jessica Gelineau. A huge ‘Thank You!’, Jess, for helping us kick off the holidays with sweetness and fun. And thank you to everyone who played along, we’ll do it again soon!

Jess has been years working her way through Ken Haedrich’s pie book and savoring every bite. For the rest of us longing to sample this recipe, we include it here with Jess’ notes sprinkled throughout.

And if you just can’t get enough, visit Ken Haedrich’s Pie Academy website to access how-to videos, recipes, and all of his books. Happy Baking!

Crust: Ken Haedrich’s Basic Flaky Pie Pastry

Single Crust:

Cut up 1/2 stick of cold unsalted butter into small pieces and set aside. Measure out 1/4 cup of cold vegetable shortening and set aside.

Combine 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, 1 1/2 tsp sugar, and 1/2 tsp salt in a large bowl. Toss well, by hand, to mix. Scatter the butter pieces over the dry ingredients and toss to mix. Using your fingertips, rub the butter into the flour until it is broken into pieces the size of small peas.

Add the shortening and pieces and continue to rub in until the fat is all in small pieces and very much incorporated into the dry ingredients.

Fill the 1/4 cup you were using for shortening with cold water. Sprinkle half of the water over the mixture. Toss well with a fork to dampen the mixture.

Add the remaining water, 1 1/2 to 2 tbs. at a time, and continue to toss and mix, pulling the mixture up from the bottom of the bowl on the upstroke and gently pressing down on the downstroke. Add a little more water, 1 tsp at a time, if necessary, until the dough can be packed together in a ball.

Once it is packable, make a ball and press down to flatten it somewhat into a thick disk. Wrap the pastry (I use a piece of wax paper and fold all the corners under) and refrigerate until firm enough to roll.

Filling:
3 and 1/2 cups peeled, cored, and sliced Granny Smith, Cortland, Northern Spy, or other apples
3 and 1/2 cups cored and sliced ripe pears, peeled or unpeeled
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons orange juice
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tsp. Chinese five-spice powder
Cornmeal Streusel Topping:
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup fine yellow cornmeal
2/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
1. If you haven’t already, prepare the pastry and refrigerate until firm enough to roll, about 1 hour.
2. On a sheet of lightly floured waxed paper, roll the pastry into a 13-inch circle with a floured rolling pin. Invert the pastry over a 9 1/2 inch deep-dish pie pan, center, and peel off the paper. Tuck the pastry into the pan, without stretching it, and sculpt the edge into an upstanding ridge. Place in the freezer for 15 minutes.
3. Combine the apples, pears, lemon zest, lemon juice, orange juice, and 1/2 cup of the granulated sugar in a large bowl. Set aside for 10 minutes. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
4. Mix together the remaining 1/4 cup sugar, the cornstarch, and five-spice powder in a small bowl. Stir the mixture into the fruit. Turn the filling into the chilled pie shell and smooth the filling with your hands to even it out. Place the pie on the center oven rack and bake for 30 minutes.
5. Meanwhile, make the topping. Put the flour, cornmeal, brown sugar, and salt in a food processor and pulse several times to mix. Scatter the butter over the mixture and pulse until it resembles fine crumbs. Empty the crumbs into a medium-size bowl and rub them between your fingers to make large, buttery crumbs. Refrigerate until ready to use.
6. Remove the pie from the oven and reduce the oven temperature to 375 F. Carefully dump the crumbs in the center of the pie, spreading them evenly over the surface with your hands. Tamp them down lightly. Return the pie to the oven, placing it so that the part that faced the back of the oven now faces forward. Just in case, slide a large aluminum foil-lined baking sheet onto the rack below to catch any spills. Continue to bake until the juices bubble thickly around the edge, another 30 minutes.
7. Transfer the pie to a wire rack and let cool for at least 1 hour before serving.

In the beginning…

You can almost smell it

Made by hand

Crumble topping

Happy ending!

Pie Giveaway Time!

Thank you everyone for putting up with me last month. NaNoWriMo is no small thing.

To reward your patience, and to celebrate THE END, we’re having a drawing for a giveaway! Pie eating contest Pie throwing contest Pie-in-a-Jar Gifting is a great way to kick off the month of December, and it’s so much better than Figgy Pudding.

By “we”, I mean a collaboration with my favorite pie baker, Jessica Gelineau. Her luscious pie blog, “The Peace of Pie“, has kept me company for years. The stunning visuals are almost as good as tasting, and calorie-free. Jess is a wife, a mom, a math teacher. She wears as many hats as most of us do, but tops it off with a baker’s hat. Read her story here. I’m just saying that if you were born with a “pie thumb”, it’s a sign. And the world is holding their cuppas and waiting. For pies. On your front porch, Jess.

Now, I’ve been known to exploit the mason jar epidemic back in the day, as you recall. I will never eat a salad in a jar. But Pie-in-a-Jar, as she puts it, is as exciting as it sounds:

  • They’re pies. In JARS.
  • They’re so super cute.
  • What’s better than a slice of pie? A whole pie to yourself.
  • What’s more socially acceptable than eating a whole pie? Eating a whole mini pie.
  • What’s easier to transport than a jar with a lid?…Nothing.

To enter your name in the drawing, please make a comment in the Message box, below. You have until Sunday, December 8th, 2019, at midnight to add your comment. On Monday, into the sorting hat you’ll go and the lucky winner will be announced the 10th.

The winning Pie-in-a-Jar will be a Five-Spice Pear-Apple Pie from Ken Haedrich’s pie cookbook, because she just bought a big fresh jar of five spice powder – the one alluded to in the Butternut Squash pie in her latest post, here. This is how the story begins, and this is how the story ends.

You really, really, want to be a part of this story. I mean, these things inspired poetry!

Stay tuned, ya’all. Even if you don’t win, you’ll win. Next week I’ll post the recipe, links, and more festive pie fun so we can all raise a cuppa together.

 

NaNoWriMo Week 4: Sliding Home

Current NaNoWriMo Word Count since November 1: 50,161

Cool, celebration music video for proper writing atmosphere:

I am thankful for: The opportunity to live a well rounded life and appreciate that this day will never repeat, ever, in the history of the universe. So you better fill it to the brim. And I did, in between turkey and pie and maybe some shopping at the mall.

I poured over 50,000 words into a document, one bite at a time, and it even looks like a really fun book. Who knew?

Excerpt from a random bit of writing (with great reservations because we are not allowed to edit until December and you know it’s making me crazy):

He had his stetson in his hand and offered me the other. I smiled and took it, whereupon he gave me a spin right there in front of the hostess. “Oh, my,” he said, “I believe we’d better get the best seat in the house tonight, ma’am.” Then he winked at the hostess and I’m fairly certain she had to hold on to her podium to stay upright.

“Gina, darlin, you can’t be more than knee-high to a grasshopper, but aren’t you just all lady.”

He held me out at arm’s length and I actually couldn’t do anything but let him.

“Not exactly serving the salad tonight,” I said with a smirk. I was half flattered and half annoyed.

“I should say not,” he said as he tucked my hand in his arm and we followed the hostess to our seats. The table was in front of a window wall with a view of the Torrey Pines lagoon and beaches of Del Mar. Below us was the highway and beyond that was a line of train tracks. The sun was at the end of it’s evening rituals and the sky was several shades of blue. Shane held out the chair for me and the hostess added a napkin to my lap.

“Wow,” I said as he took his seat. We enjoyed the scene for a minute in silence. When I looked his way again, he was watching me. It was hard to tell what he was thinking. Maybe that my nose could use some work. His hat was on a corner of the table, and I set my little black clutch next to it, friendly-like, and smiled.

The sommelier arrived with the wine list and Shane gave it a quick look and ordered a bottle for us. I was grateful. I buy my wine by the label and I’m certainly not above two-buck chuck. This date was his idea. But just in case he thought I was a women’s libber, Gramps’ stash was in my little bag. I crossed my toes for luck. Luck that I could return the money to the freezer before anyone noticed.

“How are you, darlin?” he asked and it really looked like he meant it.

“Oh, fine, just great,” I said, with a mental face palm, “How are you, Shane?”

“Never better. It’s been a good week. Thank you,” the sommelier was back and poured him a little taste from a fresh bottle. Shane approved it without the whole swirl, sniff, smack of lips or other antics I’ve seen on TV. Two glasses were poured and the rest left in a bucket at his side. He lifted his for a toast and I raised my glass as he said, “Happy Friday. Here’s to a weekend free of weddings.”

I took a sip and said, “As much as I’d love to applaud that sentiment, I may have to object instead.” He waited politely for the punch line. “I might just have a new job in the industry. Fingers crossed.”

“I knew there was something going on, there. I’m just not sure I understand your interview methods.”

We perused the menu for a minute and I focused on the options, not the price tags.

“I hope you’ll order something more than a salad,” he said, “the filet mignon is first rate and I can speak personally for the prime rib.” He looked my way. “And before we get into the nuts and bolts of sexism and cliche and other weary female adages, let me tell you up front that this evening is on me. My mama raised me right, but I have no problems taking your little bag away from you until you’re on your way home again.”

NaNoWriMo Week 3: Every Word Counts

Current NaNoWriMo Word Count since November 1: 35,201

Cool, procrastination music video for proper writing atmosphere:

I am thankful for: surviving the 70s, the 80s, the 90s, and whatever we are calling the decades after that because everything shrank up then, including the date digits. We can’t be cool again until the 20s. That’s in January, people. Get ready for bigness.

Big hair. Big teeth. Big family. Big attitudes. Well. Some things never change.

Excerpt from a random bit of writing (I missed two days of writing and the pain involved in catching up was unreal):

I was dreaming. Alec Trebeck was looking in the mirror and working a can of mousse through his thick distinguished hair, working it up to epic heights. Ronald Reagan appeared next to him in a robe. “Dude, is that a wig?” he asked. Then he read the back of the can. “Can I borrow some of that?”

“Evacuate immediately,” said Alec.

“Huh?” Ronnie looked confused.

I cracked open an eye and in the pitch darkness, a circle of red danced across my wall and disappeared. I heard a car outside rolling slowly down the street and Dufus started barking in the hallway. I rolled over just enough to wipe the drool from the side of my mouth and sat up and shook the sleep from my head.

“Everyone evacuate immediately. There is a gas leak in the area.”

Are you kidding me? I grabbed my cell phone and read 4:30am before it conked out. I reached the other direction but my sweatshirt wasn’t where it belonged. I slid off the bed, stumbled over the piles on my floor, and slapped at the lightswitch. Nothing. The electricity was out.

“Dufus! Can it!”

“Gina? Gina what’s happening?”

“Hold on, Gramps. Stay where you are, I’m coming.”

My bag was on the peg, thankfully. I hauled it over my shoulder, opened the door and heard Dufus scuttle into the living room. Through the front window, I saw a patrol car going by with all it’s lights on. The megaphone on it’s roof blared across the neighborhood and, although it was dark everywhere, I could see people moving around outside.

“Everyone. Please evacuate the area. There is a gas leak.”

“Gramps, we need to go. Where’s your bathrobe?”

I stepped to his bedroom door, where he stood in his boxers, knobby knees and spindly chest. His robe was on the door where it always went and I helped him into it. My eyes were adjusting to the darkness.

“Gramps, can you get your slippers on?”

“Sure, Gina, where’s the fire?”

“Gramps, that’s not funny. The cops say it’s a gas leak. I wonder where? Grab your teeth and I’ll grab your emergency cash and let’s get to the car.”

I herded him into the living room. My car was parked right outside. I could see other neighbors car lights coming on, as they scurried around. I reached into the freezer, behind the broccoli that had been there for a solid ten years and pulled out a small container of Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia. Inside was Gramps $500. I hoped fervently that he hadn’t dipped into it in his poker enthusiasm. I gave it a quick shake and heard a reassuring thump. Tossing it into my bag, I took Gramps by the hand and we dashed out the front door.

I beeped open the passenger door and got him into a seatbelt.

“Wait here while I get Dufus,” I said, and set my bag on his lap.

“What about my teeth?” He was waving them around.

“Just toss them on the dash.” I slammed the door shut.

NaNoWriMo Week 2: Into the Weeds

Current NaNoWriMo Word Count since November 1: 24,506

Cool, procrastination music video for proper writing atmosphere:

I am thankful for: those moments when inspiration hits and your feet just take over the dance floor. Confetti helps, of course. And screaming.

Excerpt from a random bit of writing (goals achieved for 14 straight days in a row! Woot!):

Meggie was frantically snapping shots, running almost in circles around each couple as the groomsmen escorted family up to their seats, parasols aloft, and then took their place beside the chaplain. There was a pause and then, each bridesmaid, in a delicate swirl of pale green silk, carrying bouquets of cream with arches of greenery and ribbons cascading from the bottom, began their slow procession to the alter. I knew, without a doubt, what those ladies had sacrificed by wearing thongs under Spanx and walking through the sand in high heels. There was sand between their toes and misery in their nether parts right now, all in the name of love. Psh. The fact that they could slap smiles on top of that makes me proud of strong women everywhere. But also shake my head.

I saw a swatch of pale gray pantsuit through the gap. Finally, I’d found her. Then I saw a swatch of black tuxedo and a sinuous slink of white lace pause at the end of the sidewalk. Two things happened at once. Lizzy McEwen turned with her back to me, to let them pass, and a sudden gust of wind came around my corner. The bride shrieked and when the pantsuit moved forward, I saw white flowers flying away on the beach, tumbling down the sandy shore. Someone at Dandelion Daydreams was going to be fired today and it made me happy to think that I wouldn’t be alone on the streets tonight. My hands started moving before I realized that I’d had a thought. Snip, snip, and another snip later, my arm reached out from behind the bushes.

Ms McEwen cocked her head to the side just enough to see the voluptuous cluster of exotic pink flowers in my proffered fist and that it was attached to an arm in black sleeves that extended from nowhere. She seized the hibiscus and with one deft twist, the bridal bouquet was filled with pink. It had taken almost no time at all, and immediately the bride and her father were down the aisle. Ms McEwen waited for a beat, then placed a hand on the corner of the building, the other on her bluetooth, leaned over and made eye contact with me, frowning a real, live frown.

I felt like a mouse caught in a trap, waiting for its fate. She looked at me like I was an alien with two heads. “Eagle has landed, cake in place, Zach no-show with the accordion, and can the florist.”

Now who had two heads?

“Who are you?” she asked.

“I’m Gina,” I said, “I can explain.”

NaNoWriMo Week 1: So It Begins

Current NaNoWriMo Word Count since November 1:  12,391

Cool, procrastination music video for proper writing atmosphere:

I am thankful for: working from home where I can shout, shout, let it all out without coworkers giving me the side-eye or putting customers on hold. I can cough and cough and cough without missing any work days. I am deeply grateful that I am able to spend my time spinning straw into gold. (Watch the whole bit. You’re welcome.)

Excerpt from a random bit of writing (unedited because knickety-knack and we don’t look back, please refer to #1 and #5, above):

Currants and Cream Catering was having none of it. Loretta herself wasn’t here, but it was apparent that she had a bouncer hired as her representative. The catering commando stood squarely in front of the gorgeous Mr O’Donnell and from what I could gather from peering through the window, was calmly informing him of the error of his ways. I was next in line, and I cowered mostly behind the windowsill, watching in mute horror as Shane had a few words with her.

I couldn’t hear a word because the piano man had obviously ignored the fact that everyone else was in the house now, and he put forth an energetic rendition of Elvis’ “I Want to Be Your Teddy Bear”. I thought I could hear him singing along with his tune, softly. Some people really get into their jobs.

When the commandant was finished, Mr O’Donnell began speaking. I could tell by his arm motions and the cock of his head. As he proceeded, Ms Currants and Cream began to thaw. Her shoulders dropped a little. Her face softened. She took her tightly crossed arms down and put a fist on one hip. I shivered a little in the evening breeze. It wasn’t cold, but I was wet in places that had no business being wet. My toes were swimming in little champagne pools.

“Tiny Bubbles,” crooned the piano man.

The catering queen smiled. Who wouldn’t? Just watching Shane – er, O’Donnell – from the backside was a treat. I watched her nod once, say something dismissive, and take the hand that O’Donnell extended. Her smile grew and she said a few more things before releasing his hand but once she did, he marched away and into the house. We both watched him go and she had to bark my name before I turned back to the business at hand.

She never told me what he’d said, but I was to remain a gainful employee of Currants and Cream Catering at least through the next week. This dinner was the prequel to the main event and if O’Donnell had put in a good word for me, it seemed that she was going to at least keep her word and not fire me until their contract was completed. This meant a wedding. A glorious affair next Sunday at the Hotel Del Coronado itself, the crown of San Diego, the historical monarchy of the coast, the next gleaming paycheck with my name on it.

I left with the catering truck and never saw him again, not even when I peeked through several windows while we packed our boxes and stacked leftover trays in their gleaming perfect kitchen. He was taller than a lamppost with a flaming red top. How hard could it be? But there you have it. Story of my life. What are you gonna do? It was really sweet of the guy. If I couldn’t thank him, I could at least pass on his good karma to the next klutz I met.

I passed the piano on my way out with the last box.

“You can stop now. Unless you know anything from the 80s?”

Tiki torches bounced their light off his smile.

I listened to his tune all the way home in my head. A deep rhythmic, rebellious, perfect for a wedding and my new job, rendition of “Another One Bites the Dust”.

****************

When I told Jen the story, she went nuts.

“You did what?” she questioned, “And Loretta took you back?”

She spooned mashed peas into her eleven month old.

“Loretta is pretty tough about her reputation. I can’t believe it.”

“It wasn’t my fault,” I began, “accidents happen, you know.”