Great Expectations, Dashed yet Fulfilled

On Monday afternoon I was scrolling through my Facebook feed and read a post that caused me to do a double take. A post from a local bookstore announced that author Louise Penny was appearing in Tallahassee on Tuesday evening to launch her newest book in the Inspector Gamache series.

Quickly I read the details and called the bookstore to purchase a ticket. I freaked out a little when my call went to the store’s voicemail, but I left a message and then immediately dialed the number again. Bingo!! I was so excited! I just knew that I was going to meet Ms. Penny and she’d be smitten by my wit and intelligence and we’d become best friends forever (BFFs, don’t you know) while she composed a thoughtful note to write in my book.

The event didn’t start until 6 p.m. on Tuesday, so I was sure to arrive 45 minutes early, feeling certain I’d get a front row seat. Ha! When I arrived, the parking lot of Faith Presbyterian Church where the event was being held was completely full. I drove around for ten minutes just trying to locate a parking spot.

Then, when I walked in the door my hopes of getting anywhere near the front were dashed. The place was almost completely full already. That was okay, I reasoned, the ticket price included a copy of Ms. Penny’s newest book, so I didn’t really need to be up front, since surely she’d be signing copies.

Well, when I checked in to get my book I learned that only the first 150 folks to purchase tickets would get to meet the author. Apparently that information had been included in the FB post, but in my extreme excitement to see Louise Penny I hadn’t read all of the details. I was bummed out. Seriously bummed out. But I found a seat near the back of the sanctuary and settled in for an ordinary evening in which Louse Penny and I do not become BFFs.

The crowd was huge and excited. I began visiting with folks near me and reveled in their stories of connecting with the characters in Ms. Penny’s books. My own story included my daughter insisting that I read Still Life, the first offering in the Inspector Gamache series. I complied even though murder mysteries aren’t really my cup of tea, unless they’re set in the future and/or include zombies, elves, and/or aliens. But once I’d read the first novel I was hooked, and quickly read the rest of the books in the series. These books are so well crafted that they almost transcend genre.

When Louise Penny stepped up to the pulpit (we were in a church after all) she instantly charmed everyone present. She spoke of her life and early writing influences, how she’d overcome alcoholism and how she’s handling the loss of her husband to dementia in 2016. She spoke of writing to satisfy her own needs, not those of an audience, and of needing to write characters she personally cares for. She was entrancing. Maybe I didn’t get to meet her up close and personal, but I feel like I know her now, at least that bit of her she shared with all of us.

And I have her brand new book that she launched right here in Tallahassee, Florida!

If you haven’t read her books, I urge you to do so. Start from the beginning with “Still Life,” though. They’re better when read in sequence.

I’m still floating from Tuesday night’s experience. It’s probably a good thing I didn’t actually get to meet her. I’d have been comatose with joy, if that’s possible.

Peace, and good reading, people.

How to Ruin a Day

Yep. That’s my car in front. The guy in back came in too hot and rear-ended me at a stoplight. His car is stuck on my trailer hitch, so we had to maneuver out of traffic hooked together. Dammit.

Now we’re waiting on a tow truck to come unhook our vehicles. The police officer on duty only asked the driver of the other car what happened. I had to ask the officer if he wanted to hear what happened from my perspective.

“You got rear ended,” he said.

No shit, I thought, but didn’t say.

Now we’re waiting on a tow truck to pull us apart. Sigh.

Peace, people.

Hot Toddy Lunch

This morning I had a massage at the Aveda Institute in Tallahassee. I’d booked it months ago and totally forgotten about it. Thank goodness for iPhone and appointment reminders. The massage was delicious and relaxing. Twice I dozed off, and that’s a rare thing for me. Afterwards I walked next door to The Hobbit All-American Grill on Pensacola Street.

Now, the temperature in Tallahassee was 49° when I entered The Hobbit. I’d just come from being snuggled under a warm blanket in the spa. I was shivering when I sat at the bar.

I asked if they had any coffee brewed, thinking I’d warm up that way. But there was no coffee to be had. Then Armando, my new best friend/bartender, asked if I might like a hot toddy. Without hesitation I said, “Yes, sir!”

Hot toddies are my go-to when I have a cold, and I don’t think I’ve ever had one other than when I’m sick, but it hit the spot today. I feel a bit decadent having one for lunch on a weekday, but I’m a whole lot warmer.

Peace, people!

Pumpkin Patch

On Saturday morning I went in search of pumpkins to place on the bench in front of Doright Manor. Several churches in Tallahassee set up pumpkin patches at this time of year, and finding a suitable patch was fairly simple.

I believe Christ Presbyterian Church on Bannerman Road has one of the nicest pumpkin patches.

There were lots of families with young children taking pictures on this beautiful fall day.

Soon I’d selected five pumpkins of various sizes to display on my bench. As of this writing they are all in the back of my car waiting for me to clean up the little courtyard where my bench sits. Picking out the pumpkins was way more fun than cleaning out a spot for them will be.

Peace, people!

Volunteering

You know how Facebook reads your posts and all of a sudden your feed is magically filled with content that is in some way related? I’m hoping you do, because if it’s just me that happens to that might creep me out.

Anyway, after I returned to Hurricane Michael ravaged Florida from Texas I posted on FB that I was looking for opportunities to volunteer in some way. Voila! Within mere minutes a post seeking volunteers for storm relief miraculously popped up. The group, Operation BBQ Relief, made it easy to sign up.

As soon as I’d answered a few simple questions their website told me I’d be contacted with a place and time to volunteer. I kept checking my email and text messages all Monday evening, but hadn’t heard anything by the time Studly Doright and I went to bed last night.

First thing on Tuesday morning, though, I saw that during the night I’d received three emails. The first one told me I’d been “deployed” to help on Monday morning the 15th. Hmm. That boat had sailed. I figured better late than never, though, and hurriedly dressed to drive into Tallahassee. The second email just told me what to wear and where to go, and the third told me I’d been okayed to help. I might’ve read them out of order, but I figured everything out.

When I arrived at the staging site around 7:30 a.m., things were already hopping. I signed in, got a hat and a name tag and tried to find my niche. I hadn’t been there long when a man with an official looking t-shirt on tapped me on the shoulder and asked if I knew of a laundromat in the area that would pick up and drop off clothes. I’d just been to the closest one a couple of days ago and knew they weren’t doing that at this time. One would think this would be THE time for such services, but what do I know? I volunteered to take the items and launder them. Soon, I had a large trash bag full of gloves, dish cloths, and aprons. I was cool with being the laundress. Once everything had finished drying I hurried back to see what other tasks were in store.

Basically, OBR prepares, cooks, and packages foods to be picked up by groups like the Salvation Army and local churches. These groups deliver to places without electricity and water. One of the team leaders told me that even yesterday they spoke with local folks who hadn’t had a meal since the hurricane hit last Wednesday.

I found myself packaging and labeling items such as red beans and rice, peas and carrots, and bbq beans. The meats were handled by a separate crew–those with food handling certification. As volunteers packed items, trailers pulled up to be loaded. Everything was well organized and efficient with permanent team members directing volunteers of all ages, sizes, and ethnicities. What an experience!

At lunch time, they fed us an amazing lunch. The country group, The Zac Brown Band donated the services of their huge kitchen trailer and a cook to feed volunteers. I got a quick tour of the trailer. It’s like a chef’s dream.

After working until two p.m. on Tuesday everything on my 62-year-old body hurts, but if I am able to walk on Wednesday morning I’ll go back to work again. It felt good to know we were there to help. Here are a few photos I took during some downtime.

One of the volunteers wrote little love notes on the box lids:

Pallets stacked with water bottles:

Peace, people.

Stormy Weather

As many of you reading this know, my husband, aka Studly Doright, and I live in the Florida panhandle just west of Tallahassee. On Wednesday a category 4 hurricane named Michael blew right through our neighborhood and caused some excitement. I happened to be visiting my son and his family in Dallas, so I’ve only gotten second hand reports from Studly as to how our home, Doright Manor, fared.

First things first–he and the cats are fine. We have several trees down, but that was to be expected. He didn’t think there was any damage to the house, but the road in front of Doright Manor is blocked with trees. I’m sure he’ll be out there with his chain saw and axe as soon as the weather allows. The power went out fairly quickly, but we’d bought a huge generator after last year’s storms, and he’ll be able to enjoy his creature comforts.

Studly is an area director for a public utility, so he’s working from home during the storm. He sent me a text early this morning:

Scout is an incredibly helpful cat, especially during conference calls. She thinks Studly is talking to her.

I was supposed to have flown into Panama City Beach today (Thursday), but we changed the flight to Friday. Studly wasn’t sure he could get out of our neighborhood to pick me up in PCB which is a two hour drive on a normal day.

So I’m hanging out with granddog Toby. We had a good walk in his Dallas neighborhood this morning. Now he’s taking it easy and I’m going to read my book. I sure am ready to be home, though.

Peace, people.

A Distant Storm

Here in Dallas, Texas, on this October Wednesday morning, the sun is just barely up. I’m getting ready to walk Toby, my granddog, under the promise of a clear sky.

Back home at Doright Manor near Tallahassee, Florida, my husband, Studly Doright, is hunkered down, as the locals say, while Hurricane Michael drops buckets of rain and rattles the rafters. I’ve weathered more than one hurricane, but they each have their own personalities, and none are to be taken lightly.

I didn’t evacuate for the storm. It just happened to hit while I was visiting my family in Texas. Studly Doright left Dallas on Sunday morning and drove 12.5 hours to be home ahead of the storm. We’d already planned for him to leave on Sunday, but the approaching storm made everything seem more urgent.

Tonight I’ll be attending a concert with my granddaughter while Studly makes sure all of the hatches remain battened down back home. Tomorrow I’m supposed to fly home. Fingers crossed that the local airports aren’t impacted by Michael’s wrath.

In the meantime, I’ll be listening to this beautiful instrumental piece by Robert Linton. I found it when I googled the phrase “A Distant Storm.” And praying. A lot of praying.

https://youtu.be/tVReCkhyCxA

Peace, people!

Get Off My Lawn

Do we crankier as we get older, or could it be that we just do not care anymore what people think of us? Maybe that perceived crankiness is just a result of the wearing away of social constraints. Why am I even contemplating this?

I’ve been a fairly nice person most of my life, but I do have something of a temper. It’s something I try to work through, and I’ve gotten better at it through the years, but now as I approach my 62nd birthday I find that I’ve lost my ability to tolerate certain things.

Usually those things are large concepts, like racism and misogyny. I have zero tolerance for those who discriminate on the basis of race or gender, and I’ve been saddened to discover that some people I counted as friends over the years do both. I’ve gotten cranky with them, and in some cases they are no longer my friends.

Other times those things that make me cranky are little and local, like littering. One day last week I was behind a 40-something mother and her pre-teen son as they exited a convenience store in Tallahassee. Both of them had bought big gulp type sodas (huge cups) and were unwrapping their straws in the parking lot. I watched in horror as they tossed their straw wrappings on the ground.

Before they got into their car, I said, “Excuse me, I believe these belong here,” as I bent down and scooped up the wrappers, dramatically depositing them into a trash can that was literally two steps from them.

Now, the instant I said that I thought, “Oh crap, they’re both bigger than I am.” But I casually strolled to my car and drove away while they remained sitting in the parking lot. Who knows, maybe they learned something? Or maybe they took down my license plate and are plotting to take me down. But if they follow me to Doright Manor, I’ve got one thing to say, “Get off my lawn!”

Peace, people.

I Floundered at Disney Princess Trivia

The prep work I did for Disney Princess Trivia at The Brass Tap in Tallahassee didn’t help our team much on Tuesday night. I’m not sure where the “Hot Mommas” (yep, that was our team name) ended up, but we were way closer to the bottom of the roster than the top.

We had ten members of our Tallahassee Women’s Social Meetup group show up for the event, including some first timers. There was a good bit of giggling and camaraderie involved, so the gathering was a success even if we didn’t place in the top three. Or the top ten. Maybe not even in the top 18. And there were but 20 teams. Sigh.

Not all of the questions centered on Disney royalty. There were music questions and ones pertaining to general knowledge, as well. We had some knowledgeable folks in our group, but we just never could surge to the top. And I have to admit I was part of the problem.

I turned to the Duckside. I know, I know. It’s hard to believe that I could be a hindrance rather than a help, but twice last night I was so certain of my answers that I convinced the team to vote with me. You’ve probably guessed that both times I was wrong.

Just call me Goofy.

On a side note, I’d never been to The Brass Tap before last night, and I was thoroughly impressed. The food was really good for bar fare, and the wait staff was amazingly efficient and friendly. Next Tuesday the trivia theme is the tv series, “Shameless.” Since I’ve never watched a single episode I think I’ll pass, but The Brass Tap is definitely a venue worth revisiting. I’ll just wish upon a Star before the next event.

Peace, people.

How I Spent My Week

  • Around 8:30 on Thursday night I realized I had written nothing for the blog for Friday. There wasn’t even a decent draft to polish up for my readers. So, I’m taking the easy way out and giving a recap of my week.
    • Sunday afternoon Studly Doright and I went to see Alpha. We both enjoyed it, but had a lengthy discussion about whether the characters were computer generated or not. We refuse to google it.
    • Monday was a beach day since Studly had to travel for work. It was wonderful day, and I returned to Doright Manor refreshed and slightly sunburned. I also slept well even though Studly was gone.
    • On Tuesday I went to see Crazy Rich Asians at at a theater in Tallahassee. It’s a fun romantic comedy that made me desperately long for a trip to Singapore.
    • Wednesday was spent doing household chores and followed by shopping for an after five dress for an upcoming special occasion. I was unsuccessful, so the search will continue.
    • On Thursday I made a second foray into Tallahassee. I stopped by the Aveda Institute and took advantage of their customer appreciation day, booking several spa appointments for future dates. I ate lunch at Newk’s and then in the evening I hosted a Meetup group at the Wine Loft in Tallahasse. It was fun! Now that I’ve gotten to know some of these ladies better we’ve begun letting our hair down a bit. We got a little silly.
    • Tomorrow (Friday) I’m having a facial at Aveda, and who knows what’ll happen next? Maybe a nap….

    I might be a bit spoiled, but I am worth it.

    Peace, people