Going Commando

This post might come under the Too Much Information category, so I’ll forgive you if you want to tune out.

I went to water aerobics this morning. I’d gotten up early and donned my two-piece swimsuit, pulling on a pair of jeans and a T-shirt as a cover up. The water aerobics class didn’t begin until ten, so I went to my favorite coffee shop and worked on my current manuscript, managing to wrack up 1200 plus words in two hours. Not bad for a Saturday.

My watch alerted me when it was time to head to the pool and I arrived at Trousdale aquatics center with a few minutes to spare. My plan was to burn a ton of calories during my class, pack them back on at Sweet Pea Cafe, and then arrive back at Doright Manor before Studly Doright made it home from golf so I’d have my choice of nap locations. Dibs on the sofa!

About midway though froggy jumps, I realized I’d forgotten to pack my bra and undies. Hm. So as soon as I got out of the pool I stretched out on one of the loungers, soaking up the sun. But the clock was ticking. If I wanted that sofa nap I was going to need to take drastic measures.

In the locker room I pulled my T-shirt over my sort of soggy swimsuit top, but the bottoms were still really wet. So, I did something I can’t remember ever having done in my life. I pulled my jeans up over my naked bum and went commando.

Even though there was no way anyone could possibly tell I had no knickers on, I felt like I was wearing a scarlet letter on my forehead: C for commando or B for breezy. I gobbled down my lunch and scurried back to my car, then raced home, pulling into the driveway just minutes ahead of the competition.

And yes. I got the sofa—but only after I added undies to my ensemble. Going commando isn’t going to be my new norm. I promise.

Peace, people!

Fall, Y’all

Fall is my jam. It’s the best of the seasons. Hands down. Or should I say, leaves down.

The sad thing is, here in Tallahassee, autumn is slow to arrive. Leaves remain a stubborn green and they stick to the trees like glue.

Now, I’m glad I live here in the land of three seasons: Summer, Summer Light, and That Odd Cool Spell Of Indeterminate Length, but sometimes I grow envious of places where the trees put on a regular fashion show with their audaciously bold oranges and reds and yellows. Here we get green and an occasional brown. Yay.

Growing up in the panhandle of Texas I became accustomed to some slight color changes in September. I loved riding my bike through crunchy yellow leaves, while pretending they were the bones of my enemies. I was an odd child.

But in school our teachers would hang paper leaves all over the classroom in colors I assumed weren’t true to life. Red leaves? Purplish leaves? No way. But then I grew up and for a brief time, lived in Illinois where I saw these colors in the wild and I wanted to capture them and take them home with me along with snazzy pine cones.

I made decorations with them and placed them on my dining table then realized there were bugs in the pine cones and we had to call an exterminator. Still, they were pretty til the very end.

Oh Fall. I love you so.

Peace, people!

In Praise of British Airways

My recent trip to England is still very much on my mind. The food, the history, the wonderful people, and yes, the transportation to and from my destination.

I’d booked my flight through American Airlines, and because I tend to be frugal (since I don’t have tons of money, and therefore, little choice in the matter) I opted for the cheapest seats available on my flight to England.

So for about seven hours, (give or take a bazillion) I was crammed into a small seat—one of four jammed close together in the center section of the plane. And it wasn’t an aisle seat, so in order to reach my one allotted personal item (aka handbag) I had to use my feet to snag the straps and drag the bag up my shins until my fingers could finally grasp enough of it to pull it into my lap where there was just barely enough room to extract whatever I needed before returning it to under seat storage.

It was a laborious process, and since I’m a chronically disorganized individual (CDI), I repeated the steps at least two dozen times during the trip.

You might ask why I didn’t just keep the bag in my lap for the entire trip, and I’ll admit that I tried, but then was unable to use my tray table and by the time I’d gone through the rigors of retrieving my purse, I really needed a drink.

I won’t go on and on about the discomfort, but next time I’ll pony up the money for a better location. Perhaps beneath the plane. At least there I wouldn’t have to crawl over my fellow passengers to use the toilet, or to stretch my legs, or to take a full breath and exhale without encroaching on another human being’s personal space.

After my less than comfortable outgoing experience with American, I was really dreading the return flight. I’d not heard great things about British Airways, but what was I going to do? Hitchhike?

To my great surprise and immense relief the return trip was a dream. Same (cheap) price for seating, but the seats weren’t crowded so tightly together. I could wiggle. I could fetch my bag with ease. It helped that the flight wasn’t as full as the AA one had been, but even if it had been I’d still have had considerably more room than I’d had on the previous flight.

Plus, the seats had some support and reclined in a more ergonomic manner. Nice. The food was slightly better and I had room to actually chew.

One day maybe I’ll have sold enough books to fly first class. I’m not holding my breath, though. At least not on a completely full plane. There might not be room to exhale.

Note: Flight attendants were great on all my flights. These folks put up with so much and maintain their cool under trying circumstances. Cheers to the intrepid souls who care for us in the skies.

Peace, people!

Cause for Celebration

My stay in England is at an end, but I’ll always remember the stories. One in particular has stayed with me.

The last two nights in the land of tea and crumpets were spent at a lovely little hotel just a few minutes away from Gatwick International Airport. From my hotel it was a ten minute walk into the quaint town of Horley where one night I enjoyed a meal, shopped at the local Boots pharmacy, then stopped in at a pub where I purchased an excellent cider.

The weather that evening was lovely, so I took the cider outside and sat by myself at a picnic table, enjoying the music and watching people. One picnic table was filled with a fun loving group. They waved me over and I thought, “why not?”

When I introduced myself, they knew instantly I was an American and asked about a jillion questions which I answered as well as I could. They were still confused as to how Donald Trump was ever elected president and I apologized on behalf of our country.

This group was full of good cheer, but I couldn’t help but think there was something else going on.

“So, what are y’all celebrating,” I asked.

The beautiful woman seated across from me didn’t mince words. “Cancer,” she said, brushing a strand of blond hair from her face.

“Oh?” I asked.

“Yeah. I’ve got it. Incurable.” She shrugged.

Her friends sobered.

“We just found out today,” the woman next to me said.

“I’m so sorry,” I said.

The pretty woman smiled. “Don’t be. I’m not going to be sorry for meself. I’ve signed up for a trial. Help others, you know.”

We all drank a toast to her. She laughed and said something bawdy and everyone laughed with her. And I said a prayer for her. That she’d be comfortable when the time came.

I walked away that evening feeling the weight of her disease and the wonder of her acceptance. Truly beautiful.

Cheer, people.

The Traveler’s Dilemma

Today I’m leaving England. I really don’t want to go, but at the same time, I can’t wait to be home. I miss my husband and my cat. My bed. My shower. My water aerobics class, too.

I’ll miss the people I’ve encountered here, though, like the Canadian couple I dined with two nights ago at this cozy little hotel in Horley, near Gatwick airport. They’d come to England on a teacher exchange program many years ago and come back for a visit. They once met Princess Diana’s mum in the basement at Harrod’s department store.

Then there was the elderly gentleman who regaled all the guests in the hotel’s common room last night with stories of his adventures. He’s heading to Vermont today to see his great grandchildren who he’s not seen since the start of the pandemic. I didn’t ask his age, but I’m guessing he’s in his eighties. Lovely man—the son of an American soldier who, after returning to the states, never acknowledged his English son.

And most of all, I’ll miss my friends, Shirley and Mike, and their son, George. The trio had me in stitches most of the time I was here—either from laughter or exercise, and sometimes both at the same time. They’d take me and sweet Rosie the wonder dog, on long marches through the countryside. I’d huff and puff while Rosie frolicked, running hellbent for leather hither and yon across fields and through the woods.

They introduced me to crumpets for breakfast, then fed me beautiful meals every evening to restore any weight I might’ve dropped during the long walks. I’m afraid to step on the scales when I’m back home.

Okay, I need to finish packing so I can catch a plane. But first, one final crumpet please.

Peace, people!

On My Own in London

I have decided that the English are the kindest, most genuinely nice people in the entire universe. From offering directions, to giving me their map, to walking blocks out their way with me to Buckingham Palace, to making sure I only got a brief glimpse of a man standing at the urinal, these people have been angels.

Well done, I say. Well done.

Peace, people.

County Kent

I’m currently visiting friends in Dover, England. They’ve taken me all over county Kent: Folkestone. Deal, Sandwich, and the county’s seat of government, Canterbury. If my WordPress account would allow it, I’d share photos, but I’ve done something to piss off the powers that be, so I will just have to give you my impressions.

Every experience has been incredible. I’ve seen homes and buildings so ancient that it blows my mind. Established in 1559? Yep. And these can be found sitting adjacent to modern structures that might fit into any city in the world.

I walked into the Canterbury Free Library. This venerable edifice appeared to be straight out of a fairy tale. Yet inside was a state of the art library. Fascinating. The marriage of the old to the new works nicely here.

My friends have spoiled me rotten. They’ve fed me like royalty and treated me like family. On Wednesday, I’ll leave County Kent for a couple of days in London, but County Kent has my heart.

Peace, people!

The Early Bird

Today’s the day my flight leaves for England. I was so excited I barely slept last night. I’d packed two days earlier, only adding the few odds and ends this morning. Double-checked my list around 8 a.m. and took a movie break, figuring I’d leave for the airport around 11 for my 1:43 flight.

So I watched Buzz Lightyear on Disney Plus then once it was over, I loaded up the car with my luggage and headed out of the housing development. It was only ten, so I was way early. But I’d gone about a mile and remembered I’d never made copies of my passport: one to leave at home and another to keep in my carry-on luggage just in case my purse happened to be stolen.

I turned back to the house and ran inside with my passport, quickly popped out two copies and was on my way again. I needed new mascara and a Starbucks drink, so I detoured to Target. Once in the Target parking lot I thought I should clean my glasses, and in the midst of doing that I realized I’d done something really stupid—left my passport in the copier.

Good grief. I still had plenty of time but now my heart was racing like an Indy car on the home stretch. What else could I possibly screw up today?

I hustled back home, grabbed the passport, and decided to skip Starbucks and Target, and head straight to the airport. And here I am. With more than enough time to spare. In fact, the gate agent commented on it.

“My you’re an early bird.”

Let’s hope I’m not in for more bothersome “worms.” I’ve caught quite enough already.

Peace, people.

Unapologetic Late Bloomer

Every now and then I remember I have several books available on Amazon and I do a little happy dance.

Y’all, I’d dreamed of writing a book since I was a gangly little second grader in Mrs. Gregory’s classroom. Mrs. Gregory didn’t much care for me. I talked too much and once punched a fellow student in the nose resulting in copious amounts of blood on the classroom floor (it was an accident, sort of—he and I still laugh about it—sort of). Yet she was the teacher who made me first think of becoming a writer.

She’d given us a writing prompt: Four sequential pictures featuring a little girl standing on her front porch with a saucer of milk, and a growing number of thirsty kittens arriving to partake.

In response to the prompt, I wrote a rather lengthy tome. Not only that, but my tale was gripping. Hard to put down. Real Pulitzer material. Okay, I made that stuff up, but for a seven-year-old, it was darned good. So good, in fact, that Mrs. Gregory called my mom and told her I had real possibilities in the field of writing.

To my mom, who was an avid reader, that call was a big deal. One would’ve thought the teacher believed I might be a young Alberta Einstein or something. That was hardly the case, but my mom was pleased. She told everyone. And then everyone expected me to become a famous author.

Fast forward several decades in which I was NOT a famous author. In my 64th year of life, I finished a hefty manuscript titled Mayhem at the Happy Valley Motor Inn and Resort. Then wondered, What to do? What to do?

Do I begin searching for an agent? Sending it directly to publishing houses? Do I take the chance that my book might never gain an audience? I couldn’t take that chance. So, for the first time in my life I made a really bold decision. I found a good editor and self-published Mayhem at the Happy Valley Motor Inn and Resort through Kindle Direct Publishing. Now, nearly two years later, there are three books in the series and a stand alone romance. Not bad for a late bloomer.

My only regrets are that my mom and dad never got to see my book in print and that I once punched a good friend in the nose. Sorry about that J.W.G.

Peace, people!

At Least I Speak the Language

In a very few days, I’m heading off on a grand adventure. Alone. To a foreign country. My emotions right now run the gamut from pure excitement to abject terror.

Mostly excitement, though. You see, I’m going to England to hang out with a couple of dear friends I’ve never actually met. Via FaceTime, the three of us have assured one another that we’re not axe murderers, and honestly, I’m positive they aren’t.

We’re keeping our plans fluid because I know how annoying I can be and they might want me gone after day one. I can also be charming, though, and in that case, they might want me to stay forever. In either event, I’ve booked a few days at a hotel in London and a return trip because at some point Studly Doright is going to miss me.

I leave on Tuesday and would love some good travel vibes—luggage that makes the trip with me, smooth flights, pleasant seat mates, on time arrivals, etc. Oh, just for the record, I’m leaving my axe at home.

Peace, people!

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