That tree my guys cut down yesterday? It now looks like this:
Nice, huh? We had such fun decorating it last night! I put on some Christmas music (currently at the top of my playlist: Pentatonix), made hot chocolate with homemade marshmallows for everyone (confession: I didn’t make the marshmallows myself — I bought them at Baker & Spice, my favorite local coffee shop/bakery/hangout), and then we took the ornaments out of the storage boxes one by one, reminisced over them, and found the perfect spot for each one.
When we were done, we sat back and admired our handiwork. What is it about twinkle lights, the smell of evergreen, and shiny baubles? They put the magic in this holiday, for me at least.
So to those of you who celebrate Christmas, I wish you a very merry one. And to those of you who celebrate other holidays, I wish you a happy new year. I’m signing off for now to spend time with my family, but I’ll be back in early January with some treats in store for you, including the cover reveal for ABSOLUTELY TRULY, my next novel, and an all-new story starter and a giveaway to kick off 2014 in stellar style.
My cousin Dorothy turned 99 a few weeks ago. Isn’t she adorable?
Note the large red creature in the bottom left-hand corner of the photo. That’s all she wanted for her birthday. Coming right up, I said! My husband and I stopped by this weekend on our way to see our older son in Seattle, and we cooked up a good old New England style lobster feed, adding the three C’s: homemade coleslaw, cornbread, and cupcakes. Yum.
Dorothy is actually my grandmother’s first cousin. She was born and raised on Nantucket, and moved to the Pacific Northwest right after World War II, when she and her first husband bought land in a remote corner of the Olympic Peninsula to homestead. She has awesome stories to tell. She walked across the Golden Gate Bridge the day it opened. She was shipwrecked in China. She was the first woman to manage the transportation department at Yellowstone National Park. She served as postmistress for many years in her tiny town in Washington State, too, and published a book about its history.
A few years back she took me to see the cabin where she once lived. The creek that rushes past it used to run so thick with salmon that you could practically walk across their backs to the other side, she told me. Besides providing good fishing, the homestead was rich with berries and fruit trees, and they had a garden where they grew all their own food. They raised chickens and goats for meat, eggs, and milk, and only had to drive into town for flour and staples. Unexpected dinner guests were never a problem, she said, showing me a photo of her pantry, whose shelves were lined from floor to ceiling with jars filled with every kind of food imaginable. She’d put them all up herself. Just thinking of the hours of work that represented left me speechless. And feeling like a slacker.
Dorothy still lives in her own home, a snug nest from whose vantage point she keeps tabs on the world, including all the doings back East (she’s subscribed to the Nantucket Inquirer and Mirror all her life). She has a wide circle of family and friends and is keenly interested in everything and everybody. She’s witty, cheerful, optimistic, fun-loving, and kind, and she has a heart as big as the world.
She’s my hero.
Happy birthday, Dorothy! I can’t wait to bring you lobster again next year.
Well, OK, not really. There’s a winter storm watch in effect here in Portland, Oregon, and I’ve just sent my boys to the grocery store (one major benefit of having teenage drivers around) to stock up in case we get iced in. Last year we were stuck at home for days and days. They’ve called twice with questions, so it will be interesting to see if what they come home with is even close to what’s on the list.
Back to the sun. I was in L.A. over Thanksgiving, spending a couple of weeks with tween niece while my sister and her husband were in China fetching home new wee niece (more on that delightful addition to the family in another post). We went to Disneyland and got sunburned (it was 80 degrees! in late November!), and we also made a jaunt to Balboa Island, one of my favorite spots in Southern California.
The transition from the land of perpetual sunshine back to the frigidly cold Northwest hasn’t been easy (I’m having niece withdrawal, for one thing), and on an icy day like today it’s lovely to have a few photographs to remind myself that summer will be coming around again here, too, soon enough…
We had burgers at Ruby’s at the end of the pier and watched the surfers. Then it was time for Balboa’s most famous treat. Yes, all you Arrested Development fans, you guessed it — frozen bananas on a stick!
This one was taken with my old cell phone’s crummy camera, but I quite like the Holy Grail-like ethereal glow. It perfectly captures my feeling of reverence toward my new favorite treat.
After frozen bananas, it was time for a ride on the Ferris wheel, which is almost as teeny as the ferry, but still manages to give a good bird’s eye view of the bustling island.
All in all, a most satisfactory day, as you can see from our smiles.