Living far from friends and family can mean that things get done at odd times. The most recent example? My best friend Amber and I just had our Christmas gift exchange. In February. Two months late.
But the wait proved well-worth it when I stripped off green and red wrapping to find a chic little box whose contents had me laughing aloud.
To kick off your morning, an encouraging coffee cup:
“You got this.”–Coffee
And to cap off your evening, a reassuring wine glass:
“You gave it your best shot.”–Wine
While I’m sure writers aren’t the only professionals who experience these twin emotions across their workdays, I can’t help thinking this gift makes a particularly excellent support kit for authors. How many mornings have I woken up energized and motivated, full of confident, creative energy? Today’s the day, I’ll say. Today, I finally figure out how to…
Brooke and I raise a glass!
Logo by Great Shoals.
My (half-devoured) bottle of Riptide.
Photo by Great Shoals.
My first experience doing a wine tasting was at a dear friend’s bachelorette party, when we did a marathon session at five different vineyards in the Midwest, starting at the early hour of 11 a.m. (Don’t worry. We were safely D.D.ed by our handy-dandy limo driver.)
Needless to say, by the time the tasting portion of the day was starting to wine-d (get it?!) down, I was very ready to stop sipping and get something more than cheese and crackers in my stomach. But I was also pretty sold on this “tasting” thing. It was like a little adventure in a glass–you never knew what flavors awaited you in the next sample.
But I’m not into doing tastings solo, so my opportunities have been pretty few and far between–living overseas for long stretches and often being far from family and friends has that effect. But I’ve rustled up the occasional partner in crime. My bro invited me to join him and his friends at a lovely Texas winery. And on her recent odyssey to visit us in our new homestead in the D.C. area, my sis-in-law Brooke was good enough to accompany me to Great Shoals. (We abandoned the husbands at home. #SorryNotSorry.) Continue reading “Wine Tastings & Touring New Towns”
Cotton fields as far as the eye can see.
Cotton in bloom.
Hunter, preparing for his dive.
Views off St. Joe’s island–popular for fishers and surfers alike.
The husband, all decked out and ready to dive.
Dad, on the hunt. Fish beware!
Hauling in a sheepshead!
Hunter, proudly displaying his kill.
The war wound.
One of the many (
many MANY) odd quirks of Foreign Service life is a little something we call “Home Leave.” A congressionally-mandated series of leave days following the end of an overseas posting, Home Leave is designed to help culture-shocked American readjust to life stateside.
Since July saw the official end of our time in Suriname, we’ve been spending our month-long Home Leave traipsing around the country, visiting loved ones and preparing for our move back to ‘Merica, where we’ll be posted to the D.C. area. Our trails took us from D.C. to Michigan to Indiana to Texas, seeing treasured family and friends all along the way. Continue reading “Texas: There’s No Place Like Home”
An ode (that’s technically a limerick) to my husband, in honor of his patient creativity in helping me re-plot my novel this weekend:
There once was a man whose writer wife had
Written a book whose problems drove her mad
She asked him plot questions
Nagged for edits, suggestions
With a sigh, he gave advice ironclad*
Continue reading “An Ode….”
Between the last week of September and mid-March, I was a bridesmaid in three weddings. Three. It’s been an incredibly blessed, busy, beautiful, occasionally-manic, joy-filled season.
And now I’m ready for a nap.
At the most recent festivities, I was honored to be a bridesmaid to my hilarious, loving, incandescently-beautiful friend, Sarah. As so often happens, Sarah’s wedding party was cobbled together of friends from different periods of her life. We required a few rounds of introductions to get to know one another.
It wasn’t until several hours into our pre-wedding slumber party that I learned Sarah had raved to the other ladies about my novels (for which she’s been a gracious beta reader) and introduced me as a “world-renown novelist.” I blushed, rolled my eyes, and made a joke about how you had to actually publish a novel before you could become world-renowned.
But on the inside, my heart blossomed, warming, practically glowing. I kept thinking: Thank God for friends who see us as the writers we want to be, instead of the writer we are right now. Continue reading “Weddings, Writing & Words of Encouragement”
Giant molten chocolate column.
There’s nothing like living overseas for a year-plus to make you appreciate being home for the holidays. This past month has been a whirlwind of visiting American friends and family as the husband and I have ranged from down south in Texas, all the way up to (what this Texas gal considers) the Far White North of Indiana. Although both of our overseas posts–China and Suriname–celebrated Christmas to some degree, the American Christmas experience is truly unique. In no other place that I’ve lived has the holiday been as sugary, extravagant, bustling, or glistening as I’ve found it to be in the States. Traveling home to share in all that chaotic cheer gives me an effervescent kind of happiness.
One of the moments on this trip that quintessentially captured American Christmas was a stop at Albanese candy store, AKA Santa’s Workshop. Some of our dear, Indiana-based friends took us to this massive–and I do mean massive–sweet shop in western Indiana. The instant we crossed the threshold, we ran into an almost palpable wall of warm, sugary scent. The sights were equally dazzling, with banks of home-made chocolates (maple truffles, malted milk balls, chocolate-covered animal crackers, turtles, haystacks, etc.) and endless bins of rainbow-colored gummy candies (did I mention that their gummy bears are home-made?! From scratch?!) Vintage-style candies lined the back of the store, and an extra wing of the shop boasted a glorious array of glittering Christmas baskets and speciality items. And as if that weren’t enough, a gigantic column coated with flowing molten chocolate stood sway in the midst of all the Christmas sparkle.
Considering all the temptation around, I was pretty proud of the fact that we walked away with only two packs of bubble gum cigarettes (a nostalgic favorite of my husband’s) and 1.5 pounds of chocolate candy (peanut butter meltaways, chocolate-covered cookie dough, and chocolate almond toffee). I’m also grateful that the Suriname to Indiana commute is long enough to prevent our being regulars at Albanese. Because my waist-line cannot take that abuse on a regular basis!
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That red “sold” dot is ours! The artist generously dropped the price a wee bit… but it was still an expensive night for our household!
Beautiful portraiture by Jona Giovanni.
Gorgeous work by Overdo Berghout. The top painting is one of my favorites, as it captures so beautifully the gaiety and freedom of Surinamese celebrations like Owru Yari and Holi Pagwa.
My “Birds of Suriname” series. With some 700+ species in Suriname to choose from, I may be adding a few more fowl to this flock in the future.
Our new addition: “let me feel,” by Doro Nuyken.
A macaw taking flight, again by Overdo Berghout.
An atmospheric painting of a white lotus by Soeris Dipai.
My first art exhibit! Hence my taking everything but the kitchen sink. You know: Just in case….
Close-up of one of my paintings: “Mallards at Dawn.”
For my artist’s placards, I prefer the term “handwritten chic” to “unprofessional” or “home-made.”
A series by Doro Nuyken.
My offerings: two originals and two prints.
The ornately carved pieces hewn from tropical timber and the rainforest-themed painting make this Suriname in a snapshot.
Check it out–that’s my name! To SIS, I’d like to say: Thanks for having me!
A gala tickets: Cutest event name!
Because no gala is complete without a few gorgeous floral arrangements.
Another work by Soeris Dipai.
A very tropical collection by Frankie Martodikromo (also a member of Suriname’s Ministry of Defense.)
On this blog, I’ve mentioned a time or two that I paint. But it’s purely for my own enjoyment (and the occasional gift-giving to family and friends). I make no claim to being a professional artist. Let’s be honest: trying to make it in the arts can be a heartbreaking business. Attempting to carve out a writing career is artistic excitement enough for me.
So I imagine how honored I felt when one of my dear friends in the Embassy community invited me to participate as an artist in the gala she was throwing to raise funds for one of Suriname’s international schools and a cause it supports: a local home for underprivileged children. Internally, I balked a little at being labelled one of “seven of local artists” (I’m not an artist! I just happen to have a few tubes of paint lying around my house!). But the idea of getting to showcase a few pieces was pretty exhilarating stuff. Continue reading “Art, Auctions, & Wine: Oh My!”