Saturday, December 31 2011
New Year's Eve is a very different kind of night. It's a time of saying goodbye to last year, both the good and the bad. For some it's good riddance, for others it's been a great year filled with memories to keep close for a lifetime. And for most, it's a time of reviewing where you are now compared to where you were a year ago and where you want to be a year from now. Nearly everyone makes resolutions - quiet naturally born of the review of where we want to be next year when the tooting horns and fireworks usher in yet another new beginning. Whether we keep those resolutions or not depends who who we are and how sincerely we want to reach the goals we set for ourselves.
For me -- I'm excited about 2012. Ever since I retired and moved into my cozy little bungalow by the sea here in St. Augustine, life has been good. Very good. Hard to believe, but I've been here three years now. At first, I was reluctant to even go out on necessary errands, I was so anxious about missing even a couple hours of time in this beautiful little corner of paradise. But I've gotten better about that - groceries, hair appointments and returning books to the library no longer threaten to steal precious moments away from the beach. I've gotten used to the fact that I'm not on vacation when every moment needs to be hoarded, and become secure in the knowledge that this IS my life now, every day. I settled back into my writing and got involved beyond my membership in Ancient City Romance Authors. For the past two years I served as secretary, coordinated one genre of the book contest and ran their annual fiction writer's conference (2010 in Jacksonville and 2011 in St Augustine.)
This past year, I got involved volunteering at the Spanish Quarter which has been a wonderful experience. For the first several months, I worked in the leather shop with a wonderful man, Marko, who got me started learning the skills of leatherworking (I've still got lots more to learn, of course.) Then, last fall, to the disappointment of many, the city decided to close the Spanish Quarter and most of the people I got to know there scattered to other places and jobs. La Taberna del Gallo, however, remains open and bustling and I was invited to spend my volunteer time there with Jenny, Bill and Josh, who are the tavern keepers, as well as a colorful bunch of characters who come in from time to time, including the Bilge Rats (who sing sea shanties) Captain Mayhem (local pirate) and dozens more. The friends I've made at La Taberna add such color and fun to my life, I pray, whatever happens to the Spanish Quarter in the coming year, La Taberna will continue to be a part of my world.
This past week, I took a whirlwind trip to New England to spend Christmas with family. I started with a day in Derry with my sister and dad, then drove north to The White Mountains, to spend Christmas eve and breakfast on Christmas morning with my daughter and grandson. Christmas morning dawned snowy and beautiful. There was already snow on the ground but this was the finishing touch to a Currier and Ives holiday. Then it was back to Derry for dinner with my sister and dad, and finally to Massachusetts for Christmas night and the day after with my son, his wife and their two kids. I was supposed to fly home on Tuesday, but the flight was so delayed, I missed the connection in DC and ended up jumping on the Metro and going out to spend the night with my daughter in Maryland. Her two girls were excited to see me - surprise visits aren't something you expect from a grandmother who lives almost 800 miles away!! I finally arrived home on Wednesday feeling like I'd been traveling for a month, but it was a great trip - lots of fun, got to see so many of my family and enjoy a wonderful holiday. Time for a nap...........
Jack, snoozing with the teddy I made for him.
And so ends 2011. I'm excited, as I mentioned at the start of this blog, about 2012. I look forward to hearing back from the editor who is reading a partial on my latest book and an agent who asked for a partial on the book I completed earlier in the fall. I would LOVE to hear them say they would love to see the entire manuscript, of course. In December, I was busy sewing for Christmas, but in the back of my mind a new book was brewing and I'm anxious to get started. Tonight I'll be volunteering at La Taberna del Gallo to usher in the New Year. I'm looking forward to that, as well. I look forward to another year of life on the beach, daily rambles with my feet in the surf and Duffy gamboling at my side, in and out of the water. I am also looking forward to the arrival of grandbaby number 13. (Alex and Noel expect their 4th sometime in early August.) And who knows, maybe this year is the year I'll meet someone special and fall in love again. Whatever the year holds for me, I'm eager and ready so BRING IT ON!!!
Monday, December 19 2011
All the sewing is done, all the gifts wrapped, AND they've been shipped. Praise the Lord!!! Now I can do a little baking, enjoy the Christmas parties, visit a couple friends and get packed for my trip north.
Last night I volunteered at La Taberna with Josh, and it was fun chatting with folk who came in from the Christmas bustle on St George Street. Some were taking a break from shopping, some had come to St. Augustine for a little vacation before the holiday, one couple had just gotten married, some had kids who enjoyed playing Shut the Box. Josh was serving up some mighty fine hot chocolate along with the seasonal hot sangria. You should stop in some evening and enjoy the ambiance along with a glass or mug of your favorite brew.
Wednesday, December 14 2011
I've been doing a lot of sewing for Christmas and to keep myself company while I do it, I've been watching a DVD set of Bob Hope's USO Christmas tours in Vietnam. I always enjoyed watching Bob Hope's tours on TV back when they were originally aired and I miss them now that he's gone, so it's been enjoyable to see them again. Most of the time, I'm busy sewing so I'm just listening, not watching, but one thing stands out and I find myself putting my sewing down and stopping to watch. In the midst of all the humor, the pretty women singing and dancing and commentary on the war itself and the sacrifices the soldiers make, Bob Hope ends every show with the singing of Silent Night, inviting the soldiers to join in. That's when my hands become idle as I listen to thousands of men singing one of my favorite Christmas hymns. In the midst of everything they are living through, they come together in this one moment. I know that it's a Christian hymn and our military is made up of Christians, Jews, Muslims, agnostics and even atheists, but somehow, that moment still feels like a moment of unparalleled unity. Vietnam is a long time ago in a distant past most would like to forget, but our young men and women are still out there defending what so many of us take for granted, in places just as hostile and far from home as Vietnam was in the 60s. Right after they sing Silent Night, the tape ends with visits to the wounded men, and the price our young people have paid then and are still paying now is reinforced. On one tape, Bob Hope comments that the tour was finally headed home in a convoy of three planes: theirs with the USO troup, followed by one carrying the wounded, and lastly, by one bearing those who will never feel pain again. It's a sobering moment. I know that this year, as I kneel in a safe, warm church on Christmas Eve and hear the congregation join in the words of Silent Night, I'll be thinking of our soldiers, airmen, Marines, sailors, coast guardsmen and reservists. I'll be thinking of how far they are from home and that they are there for me, preserving the freedom and the way of life I enjoy. I'll be thinking of their families who are missing them and of those who won't be coming home again. God Bless you all and thank you for your service.
Monday, December 12 2011
You just never know who you might meet on a Saturday night at La Taberna del Gallo! This is Captain Mayhem, one of St Augustine's better known pirates. We also had live entertainment this Saturday - a Spanish guitarist and his son on drums. It was a busy night, what with the parade of boats all lit up for Christmas in the harbor and all. Some Saturday, you should come on down and check La Taberna out.
Somehow, on my way back home, I managed to drop my wrap and when I remembered it, late LATE at night, I went back to see if I could find it. Didn't luck out there, but it was interesting having St George Street all to myself . . . well me and the resident ghosts that is.
Sunday, December 04 2011
Two weeks ago, St Augustine began their Christmas festivities with a night of turning on the Christmas lights. St George Street is bustling with folks on holiday and locals shopping in all the neat shops. But one of the best places to hang out is La Taberna del Gallo - lit at night with candles and lanterns and serving up a great sangria along with selected beer on tap, wine and cider, the place has the greatest ambiance. And if you're lucky, you'll pick a night the Bilge Rats are singing.
Last night I dressed out and attended a lovely dinner put on by the folks from the Spanish bakery, then watched the Grand Illumination - British Night Watch parade which commemorates the years 1763 to 1783 when St Augustine was under the rule of the British. Playing tavern wench at La Taberna is always fun, but last night was especially exciting with standing room only most of the night capped off with the singing of the Bilge Rats. One of these nights, if you've never been to La Taberna, come on by and experience tavern life as you would have had you lived in 1740.
Sunday, December 04 2011
Me with Theresa, Jacqui, Juliana and Lynn
I had a marvelous trip to Maryland to spend Thanksgiving with my children and grandchildren. Lots of good food (of course) but even better company.
Lynn, Jack, Philip Kit with his girlfriend Nara
Juliana & Jacqui
Fortunately, I'd finally finished my current work in progress and since I have a editor critique lined up, I now have to get my synopsis in order and get it off to her. Maybe this will be the one to get me published. Or perhaps it will be the single title I just sent off a partial to an agent on. Either way, both of my 2011 projects are done and out the door so now I can focus on a mountain of sewing projects for Christmas gifts, get my shopping done, the Christmas cards and the wrapping. And there is always the lure of the sea and the beach to walk every day. Life just doesn't get much better than this. And lurking in the back of my mind is the next writing project. I'm just getting to know my characters and the plot comes in bits and pieces. Come the start of the new year, I'll be ready to begin writing again.
So get busy everyone - lots of shopping to be done, Santa's visit to prepare for and family to enjoy. And for those who have no family, I pray the season will bring you some other blessing. One last thing, for our soldiers serving here and anywhere in the world, my thoughts and prayers are with you and your families too.