Glory Road, Chapter 1

Ok, since you asked. Here’s the UNEDITED first part of the first chapter of the new novel. Before you even THINK of copying or stealing it: it’s with the publisher already. So HANDS OFF. It’s only for my friends.

1.

He watched her rise to get another cup of coffee.

The grace of her movements astounded him and kept him staring even after she had returned to her seat in the corner of the large couch, right in the shade of the palm tree. She sat there as if she wanted to hide, ankles crossed and head lowered, so lost in her thoughts that she did not notice him at all.

She was dressed very simply, in jeans and a shirt the color of a ripe tomato. Her hair was wrapped into a tight knot at the nape of her neck, but a few curly tendrils had escaped and bounced on her shoulder every time she moved. Parker wondered how long it was, and for a wild, exhilarating instant he felt the urge to go over and pull the pins out of that coil and dig his fingers into the tumbling strands.  He held his ice tea tightly between his hands, hoping the cold of the glass would transport itself to his heated blood.

The moment she had walked into the lounge she had captured his attention with the way she carried herself and the stillness that seemed to hover around her like a fine mist. A hush had fallen over the large room as nearly every man in it watched her. He had felt an insane spike of jealousy right behind his eyes and held his breath, wishing every other male away so he could have her all to himself, savor her presence without having to share his thoughts with others.

His flight was called. Full of regret Parker rose and picked up his briefcase, tossed a tip on the counter and made ready to leave when he saw her move toward the door, not once looking his way, not once even noticing he was there. As hasty as a schoolboy, nearly ripping his jacket on the back of his chair, Parker followed her, curious where she might be headed, hoping that she might be on his plane, since she had reacted to the same call. He followed her down the length of the terminal, followed right in her trail until she stopped before the gate and handed over her boarding pass.

In the gangway, he nearly caught up to her. She had to stop and wait for a wheelchair to be pushed inside, and she stood, as still and silent as she had sat in the lounge, until the way was open again and she could move on. Inside, she was led to one of the comfortable  seats in first class, as he had hoped, one right by a window, and he could hardly believe his luck when he was assigned the one right next to her, just across the aisle.

It took quite a while until the plane had filled up and everyone had settled down and he could see her again properly.

Her head was turned away, her chin propped on her fist, as she looked out onto the tarmac. Never in his life, Parker was quite sure, had he seen such a clear profile, such a delightful curve in a woman’s neck or a body quite as perfect. He guessed her to be in her early thirties, a bit young for him, but he was beyond the point of caring. There were seven hours ahead of them, crossing the Atlantic, and he was resolved to at least talk to her, or maybe get her to agree to a lunch date.

The flight attendant came by to check on their seat belts, which made her look up and smile briefly. Her lips crinkled in a way that made him want to get up and kiss her, inhale that smile right into his heart and lock it away there for all times. She noticed him when the attendant moved on and threw him a cool, distanced glance, nothing questioning, no interest, not even impatience in it, and then turned away again, giving Parker the impression that to her he was no more than a fleck of dust on the back of his seat, nothing she would ever bother about at all.

“I’m Parker Hamilton,” he said quickly, before she got lost in her own world again, “Pleased to meet you.”

There was no response for the longest time. Then, a quick nod without looking his way.

“So you are going to London too?” It was the only question he could come up with, inane as it was.

She ignored him.

“I am actually from London,” he plodded on, “And I’m glad I’m going home. Washington is so hot at this time of the year.” And, after a short pause, “Are you going home too?”

Very slowly, like rising out of water, her head came up. “Yes,” she replied, and her voice was as soft and melodious as he had hoped it would be, “In a way, yes.” But she did not go on to explain.

The plane moved away from the terminal, its big body shuddering as it rolled over the tarmac toward the runway, a harnessed beast ready to be set free. Looking past her Parker could see the land rush by and then drop away as they lifted off. He had flown this way so often, there was hardly anything exciting left about it, but being so close to a woman he thought was beautiful beyond words gave the trip a new spiciness.

Deplorably, there were rings on her left hand. They were expensive rings too, rings a wealthy man would buy for a cherished woman to show off he had won her.

She did not watch the movie, nor did she buy any of the duty free things the flight attendant offered them, she barely touched her meal and refused the wine, but she asked for a bottle of water and drank a lot of it as they flew into the night, a sure sign that she had traveled a lot.

“So where in London do you live?” He had never felt this stupid before, approaching a woman, but, he realized, he had never before wanted to impress one as badly as this one, either.

Again she looked at him from large, very dark eyes. “I don’t live in London.”

Drinks were offered, and he ordered a double brandy. He needed a fortifier badly.

“I’m joining my husband.” There was just enough inflection in her voice to emphasize the last word.

Parker, on an impulse, decided to ignore it. He knew he wanted her, and in a very bad way, wanted to break through that cool, passive resistance and find out how she would react to passion, reserve all gone, hair down and her pale skin flushed.

“Are you from Washington, then? It’s a nice town, only the heat is incredible. We never get that kind of weather in England.”

“No.” In a polite attempt to clarify she added, “No, I’m not from Washington.”

“I thought not.” More comfortable now, he settled back in his seat and raised his glass to toast her. “Your accent is different. You sound almost English. You are European, right?”

This time she actually turned and regarded him for a thoughtful moment. “I am not. I’m Canadian.”

“Ah.”

Her hands folded neatly in her lap, she said, “Excuse me, but I would really rather not talk. I’m tired,and I’ll try to sleep now.”

“I’d love to share a last drink with you then,” Parker answered quickly, “Maybe some champagne? You look like you would enjoy some good champagne. Please? I’d enjoy that very much. It’s not often I have really lovely company on one of these flights. Tell me what you’ll be doing in London. Are you going there to shop?” He signaled to one of the flight attendants. “Will you tell me your name? Then I would not have to call you “mystery woman” all the time. Your name is surely prettier than that.”

Her lips pressed together. Then, very softly, she replied, “My name is Naomi.”

Somehow, in a part of his memory he did not visit too often, the combination of the face and name rang a bell, but he could not pin it down. He thought he recalled some act of violence, something that he had seen on TV and that had shocked him at the time, but he could not call up the image.

“Have we met before?” he asked instead, and that brought the first smile to her face.

“Certainly not. Or at least I do not remember talking to you. Maybe, on one or the other party…” Her eyebrows raised, she watched as the champagne was poured, a very good brand and in an aged bottle.

“Oh that’s right, it might have been a party.” Relieved, he handed her one of the glasses. “Somewhere in Washington? Somewhere around the White House? You look just like that, like you belong there.”

That made her laugh. The sound made his heart beat a little faster and his palms sweat. Carefully he picked up his own wine and toasted her across the aisle.

“Not the White House, certainly not. No.” Mirth shook her voice. “No, I don’t belong to the Washington noblesse. Sorry.”

“You look as glossy as a movie star. I’m totally enthralled. I hope we have to take a detour to Australia or something so we won’t get to London too soon and I’ll have the joy of your company for just a few hours longer. What a great good fortune.”

“I’m married,” she reminded him gently, “And I’m flying to London to meet my husband.”

“But he’s not here now. And I’ll take advantage of that.” He reached over to refill her glass. “He will surely not begrudge me a few hours of friendly chat with you.”

Instead of an answer she gave him a small, mysterious shake of her head.

Parker loved the way the overhead lights reflected in her black hair and gave it a rich sheen.

“How long will you be in London?” The brandy was more to his taste than the Dom, but he drank it stoutly, seeing she seemed to enjoy it.

“Only a few days.” Her shoulders came up in a gesture of rejection.

“Well, maybe you would me to show you around a bit? There are quite a few great things to see. You know we have a queen, and…”

“I’ve been there before,” she interrupted, “Thank you.” With a nod of thanks she returned the glass and pulled out the quilt provided by the airline. “I’ll sleep now. I need to be fresh tomorrow morning. Good night.” And lowered her seat into a bed before she switched out her light and turned away from him.

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Chuck The Quilt

Imagine this:

It’s a  mellow late afternoon, the worst of the summer heat gone, the first leaves drift on the lawn, stirred by a gentle breeze. Among the last roses a couple of butterflies dance, slowly, as if they are in a trance, as if the scent and color of the flowers has  hypnotized them. The sun is soft, yellow, milder than maple syrup, not as cloying as honey, and the sky that deep, brilliant blue of a very clear day just before the first frost hits.

There is not a lot of room on the porch for the quilting frame, let alone the quilt and the sewing basket.  We have to move the coffee table with the jar of ice tea, cake and bowl of Life Savers before we can sit down.

I put the quilt into the frame. This is a first for my publisher, and she watches as I stretch the material, but not too tightly, so we will have a good grip. The needles are tiny, the yarn relatively thick. I have to help her with the threading.

It’s very peaceful on that porch. Across the front lawn, across the street, a school team is having a football training session. The boys are still young, about twelve, and they look a little lost in their helmets and gear, t-shirts flapping around thin, immature bodies. Their coach is making them run for the warm-up, quarterback in the lead as is proper.

“Tell me,” she begins, “About yourself. Did you always want to be a writer?”

The quilting pattern is an easy one, a beginner’s one. “Small stitches,” I say, “Ten to an inch.” She groans and puts on glasses.

“I remember writing my first story when I was eight,” is my reply, “We were supposed to write an essay for school, about dinosaurs, and instead of writing something pseudo-scientific I made up a story about a fight between a T-Rex and some kind of flying reptile. They even shouted insults at each other. My Mom loved it, but my teacher was not so pleased. I think that was when I got hooked. Then in 6th grade I had a teacher who really loved my stories, and she used to read them out to the class. It was pretty mortifying, but also very cool. I was hooked.”

The sound the needle makes as it passes through the layers of fabrics has always held a special satisfaction for me. Every stitch is a tiny step toward completion. It’s like a mantra, one grain of sand after the next poured out.

A bumble bee comes to visit. He draws three circles around us, takes a dangerous dip toward the ice tea jar and bumbles away in the direction of the flower shrubs. From the football field, we can hear the shouts of the children, the sound of the ball being caught, cheering.

“If you were compared to another author, who would you like to be, and why?”

Who would I like to be? Now that’s one I’ve never thought about. Never. “I want to be myself. The best writer I can be. I would like to have the scope of Vikram Seth, and the lyricism of John Galsworthy. But I would still like to be myself and write the way I have to write. I don’t think any writer can be anyone else.”

A short glance over the rim of glasses, and a small pursing of lips. Her thread is knotted, and I reach over to untangle it.

“How do manage not to stick yourself and bleed all over the quilt?” This is asked with a trace of impatience.

“I don’t! I DO stick myself all the time. There is blood on every quilt I’ve made.” And to prove it I point at several red spots, well hidden among the flower pattern.

“Your characters.” The hand with the needle sinks onto the rim of the frame. “Do they tell you what to do, or do you tell THEM?”

This is interesting, and it has been on my mind for a while now. There was an insight a while ago that quite surprised me. I don’t outline. My stories start with one idea, one scene, and then the rest falls into place. Only sometimes, and I don’t know how to explain this, things happen in hindsight. I write one scene, and then much later, after having written several other chapters, it occurs to me that the scene I’m writing NOW is just that way because that other one happened way earlier… only I did not even think of it when writing the later one… oh, I give up. So, “I think,” I answer, “My characters know their own story. In fact, I think by the time I start writing it, it has already happened for them and they are sitting in a cozy bar, with a sparkly drink and some nice snacks, and they tell me about it, and laugh in reminiscence.”

She lays away the needle and picks up one of the pineapple life savers instead. “Why do you like these so much?”

I shrug. Dunno. I just do.

A slow smile, and then, “I told you to chuck the quilt. Why are we sitting here, quilting? Do you still quilt, at home? Or do you write all the time now?”

I put the needle and thimble away too. This is so easy. My life is so easy, now. I don’t do anything else anymore. Writing, it is like flying. It is like a pebble skipping over a pond, a breeze rustling in the leaves, a gull soaring in the wind. Writing is freedom, and who does not want to be free all the time. The words flow from me, they are everywhere. The stories are everywhere, even in my dreams. It feels as if someone has opened a big wide door for me.

“I write all the time. All the time. If I’m not typing away on the laptop the stories are building in my head, and everything I see, everything I experience, goes into them. The stories are all out there. They only need to be visualized and then written down. Writing the first book was like stealing. Stealing time, strength, energy from my family. It was egotistical and single-minded, and I felt bad about it. And yet, despite feeling bad, I could not stop. Only once it was finished, to start another, I needed vindication.”

A nod, in silent understanding. So I go on: “Getting signed by a publisher set me free. It gave me the license to write. I still can’t believe I’m really allowed to write, and all the time, that someone actually wants me to do it, thinks I’m good enough. But..” I have a feeling the quilting session is over. There are better things to do here. “But getting signed by you was an incredible piece of good luck. So, let’s chuck the quilt.”

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A New Tune, A New Dance

Home again. I’m home again, and it feels good to sleep in my own bed, and not alone anymore either. My cat welcomed me as if I had not been away at all, the house has not changed, and neither has my family. In a way it feels as if I’ve never been away at all.

But I have been, and very far, too, farther even in mind than in miles, and I think part of me got lost for good on this journey. Good riddance, I say. It was the sick, weak and depressive part that fell away, and I’m a new me, a happy, healthy and tanned me. I have the feeling I lost all the mental garbage somewhere on the road to Biggs Junction, and there it can stay, in the desert mountains of Washington State.

This blog is to say thank you to the many friends who hosted and feted me, who helped me heal and put me on the path to what I am now: no longer the sloppy German housewife, but a manicured author-lady with a lot of work ahead of me, and a very bright future. You all, my dears, are my landmarks on this road. You helped make me. Again, thank you.

Sue, Rich, Denise, Tara and Moniera in Vancouver.

Jane, Susan, Laura and Brian in Seattle and Ellensburg.

Leslie, Patti and Marianne in DC. (I’m not allowed to post a photo of Leslie, sadly)

Bunny, John and Jen in Lynchburg, VA.

Steve, Nancy, Carolyn and Alicia in Portland ME.

Adam and Julie in Boston. (Ok, that’s Keith in the pic with Julie, not Adam)

 

Keith, Emily, Sylvia, Libby, Paul and Claudia and Denise in NY.

Sam in Edison. And MaryChris.

Thank you all. Miss you already.

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It’s Up To You, NY.

While Denise is making Mint Juleps and Keith is playing Cole Porter on the piano…

Yes, life in Jersey City can be pretty classy. It can. With the right people. But then again, EVERY place can be pretty classy with the right people. Only in New Jersey, it takes a special effort.

Wow, this place has a fascination all of its own.

If I were a crime writer I would move here and use it as setting.

If I were a psychotic serial killer I would TOTALLY move here and make a game out of picking the most infernal spots to hide a body, and there are more infernal spots than possible murder victims in New Jersey.

New Jersey totally deserves a blog all of its own. I’ve been told there are pretty parts, and there simply have to be, it calls itself “Garden State” after all. Or is this a willful misnomer? A  marketing gimmick gone bad?

I mean, they have the grandest view of Manhattan from here. It’s right over THERE, on the other side of the river, shimmering in its glory, proud and beautiful, the heart of America, and (for me, that is) the center of the world. And here is Jersey City. The twin. The dark twin. The runt, the unloved, neglected sibling, the one who made, out of sheer desperation, a total mess of his life. The homeless, dirty drinker sleeping in the dark corner of an overpass. The sulking kid lurking on the top of the stairs while his big brother is being feted by the family.

Lately the unloving parents seemed to have noticed that there is this other child and have tried to clean him up, but I get a feeling it is half-hearted, and not done with passion.

Yes, Jersey City. It seems as if it is defeated by its neighborhood to New York, as if there is no sense in making an effort, as if it knows very well it can’t compete anyway. And so it just lets itself go.

We drove down from Maine on Sunday.

Our first stop was Boston, and I love Boston. Instant love, period. Being in Boston felt like being in London, and since I adore being in London… There you go. Here is Harvard. My kid made me go there to buy him a Harvard sweatshirt. Kiddo: I got your sweater. It cost me a million bucks.

And we met Julie for lunch! Isn’t she the sweetest girl? Lunch with Julie and Adam, and here are Keith and Julie, chatting away.

We passed through New Haven so I could buy the promised Yale sweater for my kid ( he is a great Gilmore Girls fan), but New Haven is not as classy as Boston is, I have to say. Still, the campus is very pretty.

The best part of this day though was getting to New York in the evening.

Going down the highway toward Lincoln Tunnel, the towers of Manhattan glittering ahead, it felt like coming home to me. My heart wanted to cry. I wanted to stand on the roof of the car and spread out my arms and shout, “I’m back! See me, I’m here!”

Yesterday, after lunch at Katz’,

And here is Denise! Yes indeed, my very own Denise, THE D-POW! With us at Katz’, having Pastramis Sammie!

we just drove around a bit, cruised through the heart of Manhattan, the window down to soak in the sounds and smells, and I was the happiest girl in the world.

I want an apartment on Times Square. I want to live right there, where you can feel the heartbeat of the city and where all the theaters are. Or maybe one with a view of Lincoln Center. But I want to be there, be a part of it.

You can have the houses with a view of Manhattan, I want to be in it.

Right now it’s early morning. I’m in a brownstone house in Jersey City, across the street is a little park with a very pretty playground, lots of trees and well-manicured lawns. It could almost be Brooklyn heights, it’s that civilized and groomed. Actually, it could very well be Paris! But then again not, because there would be no lawn in the park but concrete ground. Oh well.

Upstairs, people are moving. Denise is up. She had a long overnight flight yesterday, all the way from LA to meet me. Keith has a very bad cough, and I’m going to do my darnest to talk him out of the trip to Long Island we had planned for today.

The weather has been kind so far. It is warm, but not very humid, and in fact not that very hot at all.

Today, I’m meeting my publisher again. I love her. It is a great gift, not only finding a publisher you are really, really comfortable with, but also a new friend, and one that I can hardly bear to be parted from. Some people are like that, they are treasures, and once we have found them it is hard to live without them.

It rained all night, the air is fresh and crisp, and no one dare say it’s always hot and humid in NY. It’s not. Not when I am here.

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The Maine Things In Life

Blessed, cool, wonderfully green Maine. Of all the places I’ve been to now on this trip, finally the one that eases my traveling heart. This feels familiar, secure and relaxed. Maybe it’s the illusion of being closer to home, or maybe it was the immediate feeling of familiarity with Steve and Nancy, or maybe it even is a mentality thing with the East Coasters being so more European than other Americans. Whatever it is, I love being here. I love my hosts, witty, graceful, and living in a home full of books where the conversation ever returns to writing and authors.

AND LOOK AT THIS: I HAZ A PORCH! And it is not too hot to sit out on it and enjoy the slider and the view!

I flew out of Roanoke, VA, on this cute little machine. It was a very fun thing to do, but I have yet to get on a flight in the US that leaves on time.

Also, I have yet to get on a plane where I do not feel like part of a herd of cattle being forced into a too-small barn.

One fantastic thing happened on the flight from Charlotte to Portland though.

There were these two ladies sitting next to me, and we started talking, and after a while they asked where I was from and what I was doing. So I dug out my pre-launch booklets and my business cards (thank you, Buddha’s!) and handed them over to them, and for the rest of the two-hour flight they read my book! And they were SO engrossed in it they nearly missed the service and went without their coffee. That was a pretty awesome moment. It was also a very AWKWARD moment, watching them read my novel, squeezed into the window seat with not a chance to escape, totally at their mercy.

BUT THEY LOVED IT! And I now have an invitation to come and visit in Memphis and do a reading there, too. Oh well.

Gilbert’s.

Would I ever dare to defy an order from Leslie? Nuh-huh. Thankfully, I could convince Nancy and Steve to take me there, and this is the result:

 

A lesson in lobster-eating. Nancy said having a whole lobster for lunch was totally decadent, but do I care? I’m an author now, and I have the grand excuse of doing weird things for the sake of research. There you go. As Nancy would also say.

Yesterday, I had a visitor. Cute and lively Alicia aka A. Minor (better known to twitter friends as @BrightMoments ) came up to Freeport all the way from Vermont to meet me.

I have this vision of getting her and Suzie together. That would be a spectacular event. Two tornadoes clashing. A tsunami meeting a hurricane. The Moon hitting the Earth. The Milky Way swallowing the Andromeda Nebula. You get my drift.

 

Oh, and since we are talking about Suzie: Hey, Sue, remember the Coach outlet in Burlington? Remember the patchwork purse I liked and did not buy? Well guess what Alicia MADE ME DO yesterday. She is the world’s WORST enabler, even worse than you, my dear.

Also, Alicia, she felt like I had known her all my life. As if we were picking up a conversation that had been going on for a very long time, as if we had been sisters or friends in a former life. Sometimes, with some people, that happens. I have met a number of them on this trip, but this was still special.

Honey, we will meet again. And I was sad to let you go last night.

Tonight I have my book reading here at the Freeport Library. I have to admit I was apprehensive, but then Steve and Nancy took me to meet the people there. The librarian recognized me when I walked in! And they were all so nice and pleased to meet me, my fear blew away. Now I’m looking forward to going there tonight, and I hope  someone will show up. Anyway, Steve is making dinner for them, so whoever does NOT come misses out on that, and there you go.

Maine is treating me very well. I’d love it even more if there there wasn’t the worst staircase in the world in this house, and the bathroom downstairs while I sleep upstairs. It’s not even me I’m worried about (yes I am; I’m terrified.) but Nancy and Steve, having to live here. I’ll be gone by Sunday, and every day I don’t fall down and break my neck my risk of doing so grows smaller.

Oh well. I’ll take those stairs any day to have the privilege of being a guest here.

Today Nancy and I will go on a drive along the coast to some place where she wants to get blueberries. The air is fresh and cool, the sun is shining, there is a slight breeze, and Steve promised is steak for later. I know. Life is good in Maine.

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Out Of The Loop

Hi, folks, here are the tweets I WOULD HAVE sent if there was wifi here. Probably many more, in reply to what you would say to me, but this is the gist, I figure. Miss you all a lot.

 

 

– Had the the best of times with @crookedstamper. She is SO sweet”! Thank you, Leslie, for being my friend. I’m very honored indeed. 🙂

– Luray Caverns, or the cold, sweaty dungeons of hell. Made it through, but barely. But I WALKED ALL THE WAY! No cane, no wheelchair, nothing! (Don’t ask what I did right after getting out again, though.)

– Going southward in a little @understandblue-blue truck.

– Made it to Topsail Island, took the wrong turn only twice. Landed in the dingiest part of some town in the middle of the night, got out again.

– Not sure we are on an island. There was a bridge, but we saw no water. Might have been because of the darkness though.

– The Bunneh and her BF insist on me taking the bedroom with the big bed while they sleep in the bunk beds. SO sweet of them!

– No internet. Damn all. But nice view of the beach, and a full moon reflecting on the surface of the ocean.

– There are drinks. I think I’m having Dr. Pepper’s with vodka or something. Not that I care. 2am in the morning.

– Oh yes and it’s my birthday. Happy Birthday, me. xxx

– These people get up way too early. IT’S ONLY 7am FOR CRYING OUT LOUD! GET SOME SLEEP!

– Walk on the beach with the Bunneh. We found some seashells and driftwood. The water is nice!

– Topsail Island: 5 gazillion houses, three roads, twenty gift shops and not much else.

– Kid next door – or rather next balcony – is screaming like a banshee. Big brother, maybe 12, is emptying Coke cans down into the yard. Think I’ll go inside.

– Hehehe – I brought the cool weather with me from home. “Normally it’s WAY hotter!” Oh, really? Lol

– When everything else fails, my writing is a place I can always go to. Happy Birthday!

– Bought myself a silver shark teeth ring for my birthday!

– Can’t wait to meet @buddhapuss. Will I THEN feel like an author, I wonder?

– Lonely. Tired. Wish my hubby was here.

– The most unsavory place on Earth. It should not even carry the name “diner” or “grill”. It should be burned to the ground. #Notsocoolforabirthdaydinner

– Insight: even if you use it all by yourself a toothpaste tube will be empty in three weeks.

– Slept in today. So there. Hello Sunday.

– So, @RalphGraves, what makes you think Topsail Island is “undiscovered”? There isn’t an inch of empty land here, except for the protected dunes. House after house after house.

– Heartily sick of fried food.

– Sorting old family photos with @holyxuxa. Some pretty creepy stuff there. Lots of pics of people in their coffins.

– Nothing open for lunch on Topsail Island but the seedier spots. So cherries and strawberries it is, and a table booked for dinner.

– Not to self: don’t forget the sunblock next time.

– Tweeting without twitter is like driving without gas.

-Topsail Island food, redeemed: excellent dinner at “Bistro at Justbaked”. Wow, that was the best chicken in my life. Move over, @Georgia_browns.

– The Bunneh has gone down to the beach. Injection aftermath for me, I’m on the couch now.

– The tide here is pitiful. 20 meters, you call that a TIDE?

– I’m in a country full of Americans…

– Good morning, Monday!

– 7am, and already it’s muggy and hot outside. The Bunneh has gone for a stroll on the beach. Today we’ll try to find a place with wifi. And visit some antique stores.

– Read the first two chapters of my new novel to @holyxuxa last night. She loved it. But then she loves everything I write. 🙂

– vVVROOOooming down the highway to Wilmington, top of the car down, hair blowing in the wind!

– In Wilmington, searching for some coffee shop with wifi.

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My Week At The Spa

I’m having a spa week.

Air-conditioned rooms, French Vanilla coffee, a huge bed, a rocking chair, pedicure, manicure,  massage, great food and VATS of homemade Margaritas.

I get to be driven around Washington DC at night, when all the monuments are illuminated, and I get to see the Library of Congress, where MY book will be soon, too.

On Sunday, I was introduced to kettle corn, bought along the road from these guys who surely have the hottest job in the world, and not in a good way.

It was hot walking to that tent, but it was WAY hotter where they were working. Hot in a really bad way. Make me think of Biggs. A tiny, roadside version of it. But the popcorn was really great!

The DC area still has me geographically confused with all its suburbs, waterways, shores and bays and the mess of highways that always seem to lead AROUND the city but never into it. I can’t even figure out why they call the Eastern Shore the “Eastern” Shore when it actually faces West.

Driving across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge was a real adventure. There’s a story here. Ever since I was a teenager I’ve dreamed of seeing the Chesapeake Bay. One of my  English teachers, a lady a adored very much for her fun lessons, had a sister living here, and she used to tell us about her visits. It sounded just like the place I would want to see.

Leslie took me to St. Michaels on afore-mentioned Eastern Shore (It’s on the WESTERN shore of that peninsula, guys!) for crab cakes and a meeting with Patti. Patti is the sweetest little thing in the world, and her paintings are quirky and cute. She loves to portrait flying pigs and fluffy owls, there’s a hint of Chagall in her images. Leslie has a number of them. The flying pigs watch me when I’m brushing my teeth in the morning… oh well.

The crab cakes though… not so much. Sorry, friends. I tried, and I was WILLING to like them, really. But… no. The raw clams though, those were awesome.

Leslie had a good time. She got to eat two crab cakes instead of one, and I left the place sort of hungry. NOT anybody’s fault, I might have gotten something else, right?

So driving back, we went down to the beach. I was afraid of the beach. In Vancouver, I nearly did not make it back to the car, the walking on the sand was so hard on my back. Sue had to help me, and I was ready to cry by the time we got back on safe ground. But here, in the heat of a Washington day, and barefoot on sand so hot it would make glass melt, I did just fine. We dipped our feet into the Chesapeake Bay!

And yes, I walked all that and back again! On my own!

Also in St. Michaels, I found a perfect setting for my new book. It’s almost as perfect as Floro was, and that’s saying something. I made Leslie (who is really very patient with me) drive me up to this pretty little hotel and walk around and through it, and I’m very happy we did that. This will surely be a part of my story!

On the way back home we stopped in Annapolis. That’s a really pretty old town. Lots of tourists, though, and, sadly, lots of tourist stuff. I wanted to go to the Naval Academy and get a t-shirt for my son, and so we did. It was HOT. Walking along those sidewalks and across the parking lot was hot hot hot.

The visitors’ center, on the other hand, was as cold as a fridge. They really know how to do A/C.

Today we are going to meet Marianne. We will visit her at her home, and there will be FIVE dogs. I wonder why so many of my friends own dogs? I don’t even like dogs, and at Jane’s house, in Ellensburg, they lay down beside me on the couch. And they are cute, I have to admit, albeit grudgingly. I think Sue’s spaniel, Cara, felt that I’m not overly fond of canines. I was polite to her, and she was polite to me, but that was it. Jane’s papillons though, they adored me. Well, not me. They adored the tomatoes I was eating. And wanted their share. So today, five big dogs. Oh well.

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