Monday, October 31, 2011

skelefamily fun



So that's going to be on the cover of the Christmas calendar this year.

I hope we don't give my grandmother a heart attack.

But I always want to remember our first all-family costume as carcasses.



Halloween is my favoritest.

Dressing up like a weirdo is actually ENCOURAGED.

Even for adults.


Plus, I got to wear a big coat, birthday boots, and striped stockings.

Here's to hoping everyone had as fantastic a holiday as we did.

Happy Halloween, y'all!

*


the secret

Me as Mia Wallace, 2004*

*

I wrote out this long blog post.

And deleted it.

I want to say something important, and I think shorter will be sweeter.

The secret to writing a book,
having a great Halloween costume,
or just flat out reaching your dreams is all the same thing:

Don't be afraid to make a complete fool out of yourself.

That's all.

Now go dress up and do something fabulous.

Just like The Rock.

*

*also known as "The day I realized I wasn't meant to work in a cube",
because everyone kept saying that they liked my haircut, but I had a booger.


Sunday, October 30, 2011

guess that 80's movie costume


The face glitter didn't show up, and I totally futched with the photo to make it prettier, but can anyone guess what my subtle Halloween costume was?

Hint: Despite the high hair and overdone eyes, NOT SNOOKI.

*

Friday, October 28, 2011

the narwhal is here with your tea, madam



I am a simple woman.

Simple things make me happy.

One of them is this tea, which is only available during the holiday season. But you know how Trader Joe's is-- once it's gone, you're screwed, left to scramble on eBay for overpriced lots of bagged tea that has somehow ballooned from $2.99 a box to $9.99 a box with $20 shipping, but you have to buy it anyway because you know you can't go 9 more months without it or you'll start fighting hedge lions and talking to imaginary bartenders, but in a bad way, and you should have bought more than five boxes this year, fool.

So I bought three boxes yesterday. Just to start out.

And it's AWESOME. Not only because it tastes phenomenal and is hot and cozy and perfect and decaffeinated. But also because THERE'S A FREAKING NARWHAL ON THE BOX.


Oh, and know what else makes me ridiculously happy?

The commercial that kept popping up while I was out with my high school friends.

Anybody need a travel catheter? It comes with free hand sanitizer.

For when you're GIVING YOURSELF A CATHETER.


Dear God, if you exist:

Thank you for Narwhal Tea and Travel Catheters.

Amen.

*


Thursday, October 27, 2011

putting the fun in you guys are still funny


These guys have been my friends since about 1994. I think. I lose track.

We once did an independent study on British humor, which meant we played a lot of pool while watching Monty Python and broke one of my windows while beating a Cabbage Patch Kid like a pinata.

I get to see them about once a year, for about 2 hours.

Totally worth it.

Also, I think I owe someone $13 for a Diet Coke, 24 shrimp, and some Malbec.

Next year, the brownie sundaes are on me.

I think of myself as a very fortunate person in many respects, and knowing fun, intelligent, and hilarious people for nearly 20 years is one of those respects. Even if they still call me Missy and make fun of my arm hair. Except for Meggo, not pictured, who only says really nice things about me and is therefore extra awesome.

Thanks for driving all the way home, guys. You rock.

See you next year.

In Iceland.

Over some moose testicles.

*




Wednesday, October 26, 2011

putting the "fun" in funeral

So I went to a funeral on my birthday, and even though it's dialing the morbid up to 11, I want to say a few things.

When I die, I don't want people to sit around a church and read Bible verses I didn't care about. I don't want some strange fat lady to put a black fleece vest on over her secretary outfit and sing religious songs that I've never heard. I don't want a preacher reading off a card, pretending like he knew me. I don't want everyone to stand around in a parlor in ugly and uncomfortable shoes, making awkward conversation and not eating scones. And I definitely don't want people to pretend I was any better than I was.

So here's what I want: I want a funeral that's fun.

Go somewhere I loved, a park or a backyard or a pretty field. Wear whatever makes you most comfortable, even if it's jeans and boots. Especially if it's jeans and boots. Have a bonfire. Hook up my iPod and pump my favorite playlists. Bring my books and art and tell funny stories from 11th grade history class. Get drunk and dance around like fools. Bring your guitars and play music, or hell, just play a few rounds of Rock Band and celebrate my world-famous lack of any musical skill. Eat cake. Make each other laugh. Give away all my stuff to people who will actually treasure it.

If you want to celebrate my life, celebrate it like I lived it: with humor, with joy, with snarky comments, with pranks and movie quotes. With wacky.

And if you really feel like crying, turn on the Airborne Toxic Event's cover of The Book of Love, right at the end. Watch a slide show of photos of me laughing and pass out printed copies of my blog. Hold hands around the bonfire and get out one good cry.

And then go buy more of my books so I'll become a posthumous success.

But most importantly, have fun. Let that be my legacy.


*

Took down the pretty song as it was causing blogprobs.

Go here if you want to be F'ING HAUNTED BY MELANCHOLIA.

*

Monday, October 24, 2011

24 and 34


Sometimes, I worry about getting older. But let's look at the evidence.

Here I am at my 24th birthday party:




And here I am at my 34th birthday party:


Things just keep getting better.

And not just because they finally started putting some stretch into boot cut jeans.

A lot has happened in ten years.

But the important things stayed the same.

Right now, I have everything I wanted back then. And more.

Better and better. Better than I ever hoped things would be.

Let's hope the trend continues.


*

Thanks to everyone for a wonderful birthday!

Thanks for the messages on Facebook and Twitter, the gifts, the fun.

Cheering on the Green Knight with wonderful friends.

Hanging out with family. Eating lots of cake.

It was a great weekend.

<3

*

Friday, October 21, 2011

birthday rapture




It's from Cakes by Darcy.

Dr. Krog gets one for me every year.

For example: 2010. 2009.

In 2008, he got there late, and the only one left had a witch hat on top.
And I was all, ARE YOU TRYING TO TELL ME SOMETHING?

But this one? It's perfect.
It's white, black, and red, just like my book.

And there is a book on top. Like I'm a real author.

Inside, it's even better.


Chocolate cake. Vanilla frosting. Just a touch of almond.

LOOOOOVE THIS CAKE.

And here's what I had for lunch.




A Vosges Leche chocolate skull
with pink Himalayan sea salt from my friend Heidi.

Birthdays aren't supposed to be healthy, right?

And speaking of beautiful things I want to lick...



OMG, this book.

It's part of the Penguin Threads series,
which are based on commissioned embroidery by artist Jillian Tamaki.
I won it in a Twitter contest from Penguin publicist
Gabrielle Gantz (@contextual_life on Twitter).
It's one of the most lush, beautiful paperbacks I've ever seen.

There's so much pretty today, friends!

That crazy Camping guy predicted rapture,
AND I AM HAVING SO MUCH RAPTURE.

<3



Thursday, October 20, 2011

you were good to me, 33

*

That's right guys.

IT'S ALMOST MY BIRTHDAY.

Thus far,

PROS:

* 33 was pretty good
* I got some interesting news today on the book front
* we will be celebrating with jousting
* Dr. Krog ordered my Darcy Cake
* I have received one kickass gift
* my daughter made me a card that says I LOVE YOU MOMMY BE HAPPY
* my son said I'm pretty
* there will be hibachi
* Dr. Krog bought me two cute jackets and a pair of zippy boots
* I bought myself these fabulous shoes:



CONS:

* I have to go to a funeral tomorrow
* I can't wear my fabulous new skull shoes to a funeral
* synesthesia says 34 is a fugly number, although it's slightly better than 32.

I'll keep you updated as the birthday progresses.

*

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

on writing: skipping, stalling, and stalking

Myth: Writers finish every book they start. Once you've been published, every book you write will get published.

Truth: BWAHAHAHAHA!

Guys, I've got to be honest. I've got 3 books just sitting in folders on my laptop, half-written and waiting. I've got one idea that obsessed me for weeks before a fatal flaw became obvious and I killed it. I've got AN ENTIRE BOOK that will never go anywhere because the idea is unsellable. It's just sitting there, written, the characters fully-formed and deep, a tremendously awesome title, ready to go-- and yet the book is a complete dead-end.

And just yesterday, I started another one.

The idea obsessed me. I tried to think of the three half-finished books, politely waiting their turn. Two of them even have my agent's blessing. But all I could think about was SHINY NEW BOOK. Things that happened, character quirks, scenes, lines. I wrote the first chapter of SHINY NEW BOOK. I went to Writers Group and used the assignment to write an awkward scene I'd been salivating over. I decided the main character wore only white undershirts. I knew the first sentence had to involve eating salad, because someone on Twitter said you could never start a decent book with someone eating salad.

In short, SHINY NEW BOOK totally cut in line.

And I hate line cutters. I hate quitting or stalling out or starting something and not finishing. I hate to think of things dangling, waiting, going nowhere.

But that didn't stop SHINY NEW BOOK from barging right on in.

And I know how this works, so I just let it take me away.

I went through my ritual. Open a new document in Open Office. Format the page, set the paragraphs, add in the indent to .5, write the title in all caps, insert page break, type "1.", and then ZOOOOOOM. We're off on another adventure!

I'm going to treat SHINY NEW BOOK as a NANOWRIMO book. You know, National Novel Writing Month, which is typically November? I'm going to aim to have a short and dirty first draft of 50,000 words by November 30. And that should purge the damn thing out of my suggestive and stubborn brain so that I can get back to those other books.

That's how art works, sometimes.

No matter what you're doing, what you should be doing, or how you've worked in the past, something consumes you. Overtakes you. Obsesses you. Demands precedence. And if you're the type to listen to your muse, you let it. There's plenty of time to finish those other things, and if they want to be finished, they'll start to seep into your subconscious, just at the right time.

They'll obsess you, too.

In conclusion:

If you love something, let it go. If it bothers the crap out of you, get a restraining order. If that doesn't work, just write it all down and hope for the best. You can sleep next year.

*

Monday, October 17, 2011

i, too, had a dream. it involved ice.



Can anyone guess what that is?

Can you?

That's a circle of scarlet ibises, two frogs, and a firefly. They are ice skating.

HOW DID YOU NOT GET THAT?

Okay, just kidding. It was pretty trippy, even with a proper frame of reference.

That, friends, is DISNEY ON ICE.

Subtitle: Bean and Biscuit's Next Excellent Journey, Because Who Could Forget THIS?

And it was awesome.

Oh, and here's proof that I left the surburbs:



That's a REAL, LIVE SKYSCRAPER.

And, for the record, Centennial Olympic Park was pretty cool.

The show was pretty cool, too. From what I could gather, it was a three-part play about a woman suffering paranoid delusions. She wanted to make beignets, wear dangerous shoes, and communicate with the stars. At one point, she and her French friend turned into giant, ice-skating frogs and swam around world 3 from Super Mario 3. King Koopa looked an awful lot like a giant crocodile with a trumpet. The most impressive part involved aerial silks, and Rapunzel wrapped herself up in her hair and flew around.

I know that sounds insane, but IT'S ALL TRUE.


Also, my kid has awesome shoes.

And she spent her $20 on the EXACT same pair of plastic Cinderella shoes that she bought two years ago, which is actually pretty adorable. Except for all the clopping around on wood floors.

She clops a lot now.

And she spent the rest of her money on ice cream.




I got to eat the last of those Dippin' Dots. Once they had melted out of dottiness and were more Mushin' Mush. But it was still delicious. And then there was CAKE.

Conclusion: Love my kid, love our friends, loved our day.

Happy Birthday, Bean!



*

Saturday, October 15, 2011

don't be a harpy

Something magical happened this morning.

I was eating breakfast at ChickfilA when I heard a low humming. It built into a beautiful love song, a capella/barber shop style, by some young men. Their recipient? An old woman with white hair wearing a veil headband and a BRIDE sash. They sang to her, right there in the ChickfilA line, and she blushed like she was 16 and hugged them and took pictures with her iPhone. I don't know if they knew her and planned it, or if it was a random-type flash mob of orderly boys with lovely voices, or what. I just know that it was a beautiful scene that made my day and brought my daughter and I to our feet, clapping.

And then something horribly depressing happened.

"That's so rude," someone said. "I can't believe they think they can just interrupt our meal like that. Don't they know this is a public place? It's just so rude."

It was the woman sitting behind us with her husband and two children. They were about the same ages as my kids, but instead of being allowed to run and play in the indoor playground, they were sitting on the other side of the glass, tightly reined in by a loudly critical mom who had been complaining since they walked in. The booth was dirty. The coffee was burnt. The children-- IN THE INDOOR PLAYSPACE 5 FEET AWAY-- were horribly loud and mannerless, their parents negligent boors to allow them to, you know, PLAY IN THE PLAYSPACE.

I had held my tongue as she complained about my kids from four inches behind my back. After all, I've tried my best to give up the judging thing. I've been annoyed by other kids, too. Maybe she was just having a bad day or had a headache. And I guess they were pretty loud, but I just assumed that anyone who chose to sit on the other side of the glass knew what they were getting into.

My first instinct was anger. But then I just felt sorry for her.

What kind of person would actually get angry at four teenagers serenading an elderly bride? How dead do you have to be inside, how negative and wrapped up in yourself?

I saw magic. She saw annoyance.

And so I decided that I would add this saying to my personal list of quotes.

DON'T BE A HARPY.

I think I'm going to make a t-shirt.

And if anyone is ever thinking of publicly serenading me, I promise to blush like I'm 16.


*

Friday, October 14, 2011

fall fashion


What does fall mean to me?




New jackets.




Fun sweaters and belts.



My first infinity scarf.

The Night Circus made me do it. I wanted black and white stripes.

And that's also why I wore this outfit today.



All black and white with one pop of red.
In the book, they wear red scarves.
But my red scarf isn't here yet,
so I wore a striped scarf and a red bracelet.
Fashion: IT'S ALL ABOUT LITERACY.


And if I can find the time later,
I'll take some pics of my new hats and boots.
I never cared about fashion until...
oh, about last year.

But now?

I love pretty things.

Having kids taught me to treasure the moments
when I am entirely myself,
without having to plan my wardrobe around
holding hands, wearing baby carriers, or
stuffing my pockets with tissues.

I might even wear a dress today.

Dare me?

*

Thursday, October 13, 2011

the other kind of cougar + an art crush

biscuit: Mommy?

me: I AM NOT THE MOMMY. I AM A TIGER.

biscuit: You are not!

me: I so am.

biscuit: But you have armpits.

me: Tigers have armpits.

biscuit: But tigers don't have toes!

me: Sure they do.

biscuit: You don't have stripes.

me: Excellent point. I AM A LION.

biscuit: You don't eat those deer-things.

me: You present me with an antelope, a dibatag, an oryx, or a gerenuk, and I WILL SO EAT IT.

biscuit: You don't have a mane.

me: LOOK AT MY LUXURIOUS MANE.

biscuit: YOUR MANE IS BLACK! Lions have yellow manes.

me: Fair point. I AM A BLACK PANTHER.

biscuit: You don't have green eyes.

me: I do so.

biscuit: You don't climb trees.

me: I DO SO.

biscuit: You don't have fur.

me: Check out my arm, dude.

biscuit: (visibly frustrated) MOMMY, YOU ARE NOT A PANTHER.

me: UNTIL YOU CAN PROVE OTHERWISE, I POSIT THAT I AM.

biscuit: UGH. I GIVE UP.

me: YAY! I WIN! I'M A PANTHER!

biscuit: Oh, Mommy. You are *so* weird.

*


Also, I have an art crush.

I want this guy to illustrate ALL MY BOOKS.

The paranormal romance about the steampunk Victorian circus caravan?

The middle grade about the all black-and-white world where they have to wear plague masks all the time and are chased by thylacines and eohippi?

The middle grade about the mice that live in the attic and are really people?

All of them. Illustrate ALL OF THEM.

You, sir, are the artist I wish I had been.


*

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

cross your ampersands


Please keep your fingers crossed for me.

I can't tell you why.

But let's just say there are several hints in this picture
that you won't understand for at least a few months.

Onward to adventure, my friends!

*


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

an unruly education

Looks like we had lots of similar reactions to Columbus Day yesterday.

Reactions along the lines of WHAT IS WRONG WITH THESE PEOPLE and WHAT ARE THEY TEACHING OUR CHILDREN?

Which made me start thinking about banning books and censoring what our children are allowed to read. Banned Book Week was September 24 - October 1, and since most of the people I follow on Twitter are in publishing, it was a big deal. Lots of books that I love have been banned. Harry Potter. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian. The Hunger Games. Twilight. The Golden Compass. Not to mention loads of classics, like The Catcher in the Rye and Bridge to Terabithia, books that helped form me as a person when I was young.

So I thought I would share a few books that changed me.

Milestones in the life of a writer, if you will.

King of the Wind by Margeurite Henry- The first full-length book I read in one sitting in 2nd grade. Significant because I realized I liked books more than most of the kids I knew and that a story was the perfect escape.

Watership Down by Richard Adams - I saw the movie at the video store, and my dad wouldn't rent it because it was "too violent." Mind you, I'd seen JAWS and Piranha!, so I was desperate to know how a cartoon about rabbits could be worse than that. The school librarian wouldn't let me read it, as I was in 3rd grade and it was in the 5th grade section. So I "borrowed" it secretly and returned it when I was done. To this day, it's one of my all-time favorites.

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L'Engle - The rest of the class was reading something I'd already read in 5th grade, so the teacher gave me this one, a banned book. I still remember the way I felt when that folded up skirt explained time travel. My little mind was blown. Blown, I say!

Pet Sematary by Stephen King - I remember my mom devouring this book while suntanning in the back yard, and when I asked about it, she told me I couldn't read it. So of course I waited until she was done and secretly borrowed it. I had no idea things like that could be written-- sick, twisted, terrifying. It was delicious. And it gave me nightmares. And I loved it. That was 6th grade.

IT by Stephen King - Same as Pet Sematary. I was 13, and I thought it would be cool. It completely messed me up. I am still terrified of clowns, of rain gutters, of spiders. But as scared as I was, I COULD NOT STOP READING. Even at the time, I was amazed at the power of a story, of a good book.

My daughter saw the movie in Target yesterday and asked me about it, and I said, "It's the scariest thing I've ever seen, and you can't read it until you're at least 13."

Valley of Horses by Jean Auel - My mom gave me Clan of the Cave Bear, which was fascinating. I picked up the sequel at a used book store. I mainly remember reading it in the middle school library, getting to the first... scene... and thinking, OH MY GOD. PEOPLE DO THIS? DO THE LIBRARIANS KNOW I'M READING THIS? HAVE THEY READ IT, TOO? I think the most important issue here is that it was a gentler introduction to sex than the other kids' conversations, than music videos, than movies, than pornography. It was extremely explicit. But the relationship was warm, kind, caring, generous. It was a good way, I think, to learn about such things.

The Awakening by Kate Chopin - I read this in high school and felt like I'd found kinship in a book. And, of all the books I've ever read, it was almost the most damaging, because it gave me dangerous ideas that luckily didn't come to fruition. But do I think it should have been banned? No. No. No. The book wasn't the reason I wanted to kill myself. It just showed me I wasn't alone in feeling hopeless, like an outsider.

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon - One of my best friends and my long-time mentor recommended this one to me, and I thought, "Me? Read romance? HA FREAKIN' HA." But as with so many things, she was spot on. I bought this one in a used book store and read it so fast that I was back there before the doors opened the next day, sleepless and starving for the sequel. Outlander taught me that romance can be more than romance. It can be a gripping, well-written tale rich in historical details. It can be a saga, the story of people we come to deeply care about. Outlander was my gateway into quality romance that's more than romance.

And now, here I am, waiting for my first book to be published next Spring.

My dear hope is that, like Outlander, it's a romance that goes beyond romance, with a story and characters that will appeal to men and women alike. My dearest hope is that WICKED AS THEY COME will touch someone in the way that these books touched me. Not a huge, life-altering change, but maybe it will make someone reconsider the romance or paranormal genres. Or maybe it will provide them the escape they need from the frustrations of everyday life. I'll be happy if it just makes a few people smile.

Maybe, one day, it will even be banned.


*




Monday, October 10, 2011

Columbus, shmolombus

biscuit: Mommy, why don't I have school today?

me: I think it's part of a larger plot to drive me crazy.

biscuit: No, really, though?

me: Well, it's Columbus Day.

biscuit: I KNOW THAT GUY. My teacher told us.

me: What did your teacher say?

biscuit: He found something.

me: Eh... not really. See, he lived in Europe, and his king and queen didn't know that there was land on the other side of the ocean. So they sent Columbus over here, and he landed in the place that's now the United States, and he stuck a flag in it and decided he'd discovered it.

biscuit: THAT'S WHAT MY TEACHER SAID!

me: Yeah, but buddy, people already lived here. The Native Americans had been here for thousands of years. They had towns, families, tribes. So is it possible to discover something that's already been discovered?

biscuit: Yes! No! But my teacher said...

me: Your teacher knows a lot of things, but she's not always right. You can't own something that someone else already owns. What if somebody walked into our house right now and said, "I FOUND THIS HOUSE! I OWN IT!"

biscuit: Then daddy would use jiu-jitsu on them?

me: Exactly. We wouldn't say, "Oh, okay. You found our house. You can have it. We'll go somewhere else."

biscuit: But I thought Columbus was good.

me: Eh... I think he thought he was good. But you'll notice there are a lot more white people running around than Native Americans. Columbus wasn't so cool to them.

biscuit: Oh, I REMEMBER them. They're called INDIANS.

me: Eh... let's just call them Native Americans for now, okay?

biscuit: But my teacher said...

me: Your teacher isn't always right. Remember when she told you that you should get her a present because it would be her anniversary if she wasn't divorced?

biscuit: YEAH, WE WERE SUPPOSED TO...

me: No, we weren't. The thing is, there are two sides to every story, and I think Columbus Day is one of the most ridiculous, horrible holidays on the planet. Half the people go to work or school, the other half don't, which means only half the people can do their job. There's no mail, which means my Harry & David gift basket won't be arriving. There's nothing to celebrate. It wasn't a real accomplishment. Or, at least, the accomplishment of sailing across the ocean was canceled out by the genocide. And now they're force-feeding it to you in school, and I have to basically tell you that your school, or your teacher, or your government is lying to you, which is a lot to take in when you're five.

biscuit: Um... so what do we do?

me: We relax and have a nice day off, regardless of why.

biscuit: Okay. I'll put on a dress and draw a heart for you.

me: That will officially make it the BEST COLUMBUS DAY EVAR.

*


Saturday, October 8, 2011

for the dreamers


Continuing a week where I squeal over things that make me happy,
I can't recommend this book highly enough.

It's magical.

Simply magical.

I know I take odious joy in awful movies and frivolous books, but this one is a keeper.
Beautiful, lyrical, deep, dreamy, luscious, with just a few token tears at the end.

It's about a magical circus that randomly appears and a star-crossed love that defies logic and reason. I bought it for my Nook, but I'll be buying it in print, too.

Whoever says print is dead couldn't be more wrong.

For something this spectacular, I'm happy to pay twice.

Signed,

a rêveur

*

Friday, October 7, 2011

what passion tastes like



The primary reason for my trip to Oregon this past week was to visit the Harry and David factory and learn about what they do, which is grow pears, make candy, and craft gift baskets. But, really, it's so much more than that.

What makes them different is passion.

The man in charge of the candy kitchen isn't a faceless entity. He's Charlie, a 3rd generation chocolatier with a ponytail who has spent the last 30+ years of his life at Harry and David, dreaming up new ways to make sugar special. This is a man who, along with his team, went through over 160 trials before developing the perfect shade of pink on those breast cancer awareness pears up there.

And if you one day order their cashew toffee brittle, you can rest assured that I participated in early stage taste tests. It was fabulous but needed more salt, in my opinion.



One of the most fascinating discoveries for me was that people who work for big companies could still be completely passionate for their work. It's not just the artists and writers and musicians among us, toiling at home alone who feel driven and in love with their jobs. It's Charlie and Tim and Dom and Chrystina and Matt at Harry and David, too.

And they wanted to share their passion with us.

Instead of taking us out to a fancy restaurant, they coordinated an intimate and striking meal in the barrel house of RoxyAnn Winery, another place filled with people passionate about their work. Harry and David's Culinary Director, Tim Urban, made extraordinary sandwiches for us out of local artisanal beef, while Roxy Ann director Michael Donovan paired his favorite RoxyAnn wines with every course, each of which included Harry and David products.



And then there was the Roussanne.

It's not in the picture because I drank it all. Twice.

I've never had Roussanne wine before, but I've never tasted anything like it. Complex, sharp, sweet yet flowery and rich. I inhaled it so often that my seatmates began to laugh at me. The scent and taste were so amazing that it brought my synesthesia out to play, and I tried to describe it as an evening's spring rain dripping down a window onto that light-yellow clover I used to eat as a child.

For as long as I live, I will remember what that wine, what that dinner, made me feel.

Because these people felt passion for their work, I began to feel passion for it, too. Everything I ate and drank that night became a part of my story. The lights twinkling overhead, the smell of wine barrels, the sound of wind outside, plate after plate of amazing food.

We loved the Roussanne so much that even though it's not available for sale, they're going to send us a bottle. And do you know what I'm going to do with mine?

I'm going to invite my friends over for dinner soon, cut up a Harry and David Royal Riviera pear, put out some Rogue River Blue cheese, and break open my bottle of Roussanne.

I want them to feel the passion, too.

*

Thursday, October 6, 2011

oh, pear.



So... I won't be joining the ranks of the pear-dippers any time soon.

It didn't look so good, but HOLY CRADOODLE, it tasted AMAZING.

I was much better at all the other things we did today.

Sample delicious food at Harry & David? CHECK.

Stop the tour group in order to snap a photo of a painting of two lobsters fighting in Shakespearean kit? CHECK.


Note: LOBSTER HAS AN EYE PATCH.

Ahem.

Take a photo by the pumpkins while hoping that my luggage wasn't lost? CHECK.




Buy a hat, some new perfume, and an AMAZING almond marzipan cupcake from Larry's in Ashland, Oregon? DOUBLE-BILLION-GAZILLION CHECKS.



Have a delightful plane flight discussing books with a bibliophile named Barbara? CHECK.

Bond with a fellow Southerner over the fact that our route through the airport was so oddly deserted that we were waiting to hear either zombies or banjos, then go to Rogue Ales Public House for a kickass Kobe burger? CHECK.


In conclusion:

Absolutely adored everything about this trip from the people to the food
to the passion of everyone who works at Harry & David?
Want to stay in Oregon for another week?
Deeply dig peppermint-covered pretzels?
Be super happy?

CHECK.

*


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

adventures in Rogue Valley





I want to remember this.

I know I say that a lot. I know I forget a lot. But I felt things tonight that I want to remember, so I will try to record them to the best of my deeply flawed ability.

1. I actually look like a grown-up sometimes. I felt like I was masquerading as a journalist today, but it turns out I actually *am* a journalist. I can legally call myself a writer. It takes a surprising amount of effort to remember I'm technically a grown-up.



2. Oregon is beautiful. Orchards are beautiful. Pears, dammit, are beautiful. And that piece of fruit, that simple pear, is a complex marvel. There is a man awakened at 2 in the morning who drives 20 miles to the orchard and sets fire to hundreds of smudge pots, just to make sure your pear doesn't die on the vine. There are fences set up to keep elks from tenderly lipping that pear off the tree.

That pear, friends, is a work of art.



3. Sometimes, I pretend to eat your oh-so-holy pear. So there.



4. There's also a barn. It is very pretty. On one side, there is a pear orchard. On another side, there is a plot of medical marijuana guarded by a stoned-looking dog. On another side is a boat, and beside the boat is a chicken coop, and chickens, and they're all standing under a pink umbrella. And that, too, is beautiful.



5. Sometimes, dinner is more than food. Sometimes, food is a gift.

Tonight, I tasted so many amazing things that my synapses feel like they're braided, curled and twined as intricately as honeysuckle. The red cow beef sandwiches and Roussanne, the cheese and cinnamon bread and rich, red wine. The smell of the air among the wine casks, the lights twinkling overhead. Talking to a third generation chocolatier who once lived in a teepee for two years. Discovering port for the first time and trying to put into words why it made me think of the soft, tender ears of puppies.

Ye gods, what a gift. Just having the time to experience such a thing. I am humbled.

And grateful.



6. Also, sometimes pears grow as big as a human head.

And then they are called FRANKENPEARS. And they look like this.



7. Lastly, I made my own gift basket.

I think it's important, to give gifts to yourself. And I can't wait to tear into my goodies when I'm back home, hundreds of miles away from the magic of Oregon and Harry and David



These trips are a gift. To myself, from myself, from circumstance, from the people who come together to make it possible, my husband and parents and all the strangers who become friends on a tour bus. Traveling and trying new things makes me feel so alive, so young, so invigorated. I find myself fascinated with things I'd never imagined before, with questions on bees and kaolin and popcorn varietals and wine casks. I find myself waking up, wanting to learn and soak up knowledge.

And then, sometimes I find myself half-drunk and smelling of skunk at 9:56 Pacific time, deeply grateful for everything. I look at pictures of my children and smile, thankful to my core for my family and also for the chance to remain a separate being.

This, this, this, always. Skunk smell and all.

Monday, October 3, 2011

could you be more pacific?


Guys, I'm in the Pacific Northwest for the first time in my life, and even though I haven't left the hotel room yet, IT IS AWESOME.

I didn't do much traveling as a kid, but today, I flew all the way across our country, and I saw many fascinating things that, frankly, bored the crap out of me in school. But I admit it: geography is kind of cool, when you're experiencing it firsthand.

First there were the fields. Seen from the sky, they're pure art.

And every now and then, I saw one that looked like Pac-Man.



And then we moved into the mountains.

Not piddly, "rather a large rock" mountains like we have in Georgia. Big mountains. Rocky mountains. Manly mountains. Mountains that look like Mother Nature's unfolded laundry.




Next up, there were strange marshes that made me think of the Neverending Story, before Artax gave up and I started to cry like a little girl. They looked so untouched, so pure. I can't believe I got all geogra-swoony over a little ol' swamp. But it was so pretty. The guy in the seat next to mine probably thought I was a moron.




And then came the most mysterious sight of all.

I couldn't figure out what they were. But they were beautiful.




"What is that?" I asked myself. "Sand? Cotton? Desert?"

So I looked at the little in-flight map.

And I pushed my stewardess button, because I am a brazenly curious girl.

Just as I opened my mouth to ask, "What are those large, white, water things near Salt Lake City?", I abruptly smacked myself in the face and asked her a question about my luggage instead.

Because I swear to gosh, guys. I AM SMART.

Let's just say that I was very impressed with the salt lakes around that city.

Ahem.

But what was the most beautiful sight of all?


The lovely gift basket from Harry and David, because after traveling since 5am on nothing more than a donut and some coffee, I was starving.

Let me tell you, guys. Moose Munch? THE HYPE IS TRUE.

I can't stop eating it.

The pears are also quite nice.


So that's today's installment of Unruly Adventures.
reported to you live from Oregon while eating Dark Chocolate Moose Munch out of a bathtub.

Tomorrow: Visiting the Harry and David pear orchards and Moose Munch factory
on behalf of Cool Mom Picks, because my bosses are really awesome.

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