Star Storm Quilt Making and Helpful Hints Continues

The Holidays have finally wound down and I’m ready to dig in to this Star Storm Quilt!!! What am I talking about?? Catch up by reading my previous Star Storm post HERE. The adventure into using a quilting pattern continues.

I have read, and re-read the Star Storm pattern directions. My head is swimming, but I think I understand the process. It’s time to choose fabrics!!! Fun!!

Oops… not so fast. To fully understand this pattern I decided I had better cut and tape the pattern together. Unfolding the large paper patterns freaked me out with all the lines… veering off in all directions! Some were solid, others were dashed, and some were BOTH! Circled numbers were all over the place!! I took a deep breath in and slowly let it out, grabbed my scissors and quickly came to the conclusion that this wouldn’t be so bad. After all it was only paper… if I made a mistake I could always tape it back together.

Star Storm Pattern

It wasn’t bad at all. The Star Storm pattern was clearly marked with where to cut and where to tape. Keeping ‘even’ with ‘even’ and ‘odd’ with ‘odd’… and ‘A’ with ‘A’ and ‘B’ with ‘B’ is all I had to do. The crazy numbers and lines running all over the paper don’t come in to play until later.

Back to choosing the fabric!! Yea!!!

Rummaging through my stash I pulled all the fabrics that screamed BEACH to me. Oh, and I pulled all the neutrals, purples, greens, and yellows for Bonnie Hunter’s mystery Quilt Along while I was at it. Hey, that’s great time management… right? Back to the beach fabric! Concentrate!!! Once gathered, I pulled out any fabrics that were glaringly out of place, and assessed what is missing. The vision in my head wasn’t jiving with my fabrics. If I had my way I would simply go out and purchase all new beautiful fabric. Alas, my wallet doesn’t agree with that logic… so I re-thought the vision in my head to align with the fabrics in front of me.

Unless you want to drive yourself absolutely crazy… stick with ‘all over’ patterns on your fabric!!! I disregarded many of my chosen fabrics because they were too linear, heading in the wrong direction, or worse… on a diagonal!! I already had one wide stripe fabric, adding another would have competed.

I came to the conclusion I needed one or two accent fabrics to really make this Star Storm quilt POP! This is where the line divides a designer from a hobby quilter. If I were a designer I would have bolts of my own fabric line to choose from, cut a strip and audition it. Not good? Choose another strip from another bolt. As a hobby quilter I needed to stop the design process and hop in the car to drive to my local quilt shop… in my case it’s an hour drive! Even with swatches in my hand I found it difficult to choose the two accents. At $10 and $12 a yard I really wanted to be certain I chose correctly!

How much yardage to purchase?? Great question!!! I’d love to say, “Just purchase 2 yards of everything you like,” but that isn’t practical. Before leaving for the store I did a little calculating. Laying out my fabrics in the order I THOUGHT I would use them, I scrutinized the photo on the front of the Star Storm pattern and guessed at the placement I needed the accents to be… then followed the recommended yardage provided. Needless to say, once I got home and really laid things out, I was a little off the mark. Sigh.

I don’t have a design wall. More accurately… I don’t have a blank wall to PUT a design wall. My small bungalow was built in 1918 and between an open floor plan, the free-standing fireplace, windows, windows, and more windows… I only have ONE blank wall, and that’s where the TV was placed. So I use my floor to design. It’s not perfect, but all the bending over keeps me active.

Star Storm Fabric Selection

I cut 2 pieces of each fabric measuring 4 ½” by WOF (width of fabric) and began to lay out the strips for color placement. I urge you to really LOOK at the star pattern on the front cover and understand WHY the design WORKS! Pay close attention to where the bold fabrics versus lighter fabrics are placed. Trying to capture a real beach feeling, I chose fabrics to represent sand, water, shells, and sunset. My breath is always taken away with a stunning sunset, so I decided the fullest star shape would be of that fabric… then worked around from there. Sadly, the fabric I purchased to represent mussels didn’t make the cut. Oh well… I’ll have to use that fabric in something else. I also realized I didn’t have enough fabric of another one I purchased… but was able to pull a co-ordinate from my stash.

Also take note of the use of coordinating fabrics in this design. If each ‘round’ were the same fabric, the quilt wouldn’t be as interesting. I encourage you to ‘mix it up’ a bit!!

At this point I feel my Star Storm quilt is headed in the right direction, but am not 100% satisfied with my color placement. It’s time to walk away, and wait ’til tomorrow for a different perspective. I’ll keep you posted as I continue my Star Storm adventure.

Want to check in more frequently with my progress??? Follow me on Instagram @uniqueandnovel… using #debsstarstorm.

What’s my next BIG project? A Star Storm Quilt!

It’s time to kick my quilting UP a notch… and make a quilt for myself!

My usual way to design and sew a quilt is to look at a pretty picture and say, “I can make that.” After a few hours of sketching, calculating, scrabbling through my stash, and making a run to my local quilt shop… I’m ready to sew. Scissors snip, fabric flies, the sewing machine hums. It’s a beautiful thing.

That’s when I’m in my happy place, barely coming up for air. My insulated TERVIS glass is filled with Lipton’s Berry Tea and ice, and placed AWAY from the machine and fabric! The thought of food is secondary, as I only stop sewing when I feel faint with just enough energy left to pop something in the microwave.

Now that I seem to have more time to sew these days, I don’t feel I have to do everything all in one sitting. Soooooo… I”ve decided to make my very first quilt just for ME, and to plot, plan, and take my time making it.

My next quilt project! Victoria Findlay Wolfe http://www.vfwquilts.com

I fell in love with Victoria Findlay Wolfe’s quilt STAR STORM. I actually GASPED when I first saw it. I just KNEW I had to make that quilt to hang over my bed, but in different colors. So while in NYC yesterday I stopped by her shop and purchased the pattern… and some fabric 🙂

Although I am considered an Intermediate to Advanced quilter, I am a total beginner at using patterns. I’ll admit, a bit of panic set in as I read through the 5 pages of instructions. Then I unfolded the oversized paper templates… all four of them. EEK! There is even a sheet of paper ‘tags’ to label each strip of fabric so as not to get confused. Here I was, staring down into a design that came from someone else… not me. What an eye-opening revelation!!

“OK… I can do this,” I say to myself. The first thing to do is to change the color palette. Although I LOVE the bright colors of Victoria’s quilt, and her fabric line… my home is more ‘beachy’. I have decided to replace the bold black and white stripe in the design with the same fabric, but in tan and white. I kind of wish her pattern came with a black and while line drawing so I could audition specific colors of my own. I guess that’s where I’ll begin my project… drawing and sketching, just like I do with my own design.

I plan on posting my progress as it moves along at it’s own pace. If you care to follow how it’s going, feel free to check back here about every other week or so. You can also follow me on Instagram… @uniqueandnovel. Use hashtag… #debsstarstorm to see my posts.

An Ocean Place Wedding

The true story of a wedding at Ocean Place Resort and Spa.

I had to wait almost a week to write this post about my son’s wedding at Ocean Place Resort in Long Branch, NJ… just to make certain my judgment wasn’t clouded by emotions. Besides, I was raised if I didn’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all. I just can’t bite my tongue any longer. Future brides need to know exactly what to expect from Ocean Place Resort and Spa if they decide to book their most special day there.

Scott and Krisa Wedding

It’s a big day when one of your children gets married. It’s even bigger when it’s your last… and a SON to boot. Oh… I’ve been MOB (Mother of the Bride), twice, so I know the drill. As MOG my friends cautioned me to wear beige, sit in the corner and keep my mouth shut. However the bride-to-be included me in the planning, and I’m forever grateful she did.

From the moment my future daughter-in-law and son began the discussion of making their commitment to one another ‘official’, a team consisting of her mother, a bridesmaid, and me was formed to hunt down the perfect venue. The future bride and groom live on the west coast… the rest of us live on the east and some live out of the country. A beach wedding was the future bride and groom’s wish… so off we went in search of a location and venue fit for the wedding of the century located on a New Jersey beach.

I’ll skip past all the venues we checked out that didn’t even come close to meeting our criteria, and cut to the chase… Our team unanimously thought Ocean Place Resort and Spa in Long Branch was the ultimate venue. The large expanse of pristine sand planted with palm trees, the glorious renovations, the option of having a bonfire on the beach were all major check points in the ‘plus’ column.

We toured the facility with one of their event planners and were ‘wowed’. Although her mother was suffering from sticker shock, we all knew the bride would love the place. It had just the right amount of ‘laid back’ beach wedding feel mixed with enough elegance for the bride to feel like a Princess. Perfect!

Before the final decision was made… it was time to bring the bride’s father into the mix. The bride’s parents and I made a date and met at the venue on a Saturday evening to see a real wedding in action. What we got instead was FIVE weddings to view. The stars in our eyes dimmed as we realized this place is a wedding factory… churning out weddings one right after another… five weddings, five cocktail parties, five receptions, and five bonfires.

Instead of going back to the drawing board, the kids decided to plan their ‘big day’ on a Friday in early June. One big bonus is the price is a bit lower on a Friday and secondly… it’s not as popular a day and therefore the odds are better you will not be sharing the beach.

Let’s fast forward now… the bride and groom have flown in and seen the place, and approved. Paperwork and contracts passed back and forth, more tours and meetings have taken place… the dress has been chosen, altar designed and made… it’s been a flurry of activity and the big day is just a month away. Our first major disappointment rears its ugly head… the food tasting. Oh… don’t get me wrong… the tasting went smoothly, but only ONE dish from the chosen menu was served. Yes… only ONE, the lobster and shrimp pasta. The chicken dish and beef selection were not the items the bride chose… so, why were we here??? The beef was grisly and a bit tough… so the bride’s father asked for a different cut… and he didn’t care for the red sauce used on the lobster and shrimp dish and requested it be changed to a white wine and garlic. I’ll comment further on the actual food the day of later.

Picture this… everyone has flown into town. It’s the day before the wedding. You are scurrying around in all directions with last-minute preparations… when you get a call from Ocean Place stating although you made your room reservation 6 months ago, they are so sorry, but they have to BUMP you. YES… this really happened to the sister of the groom… who had a newborn!!! Oh, the front desk assured her they secured her a room in a lovely hotel a few blocks away and of course there would be no charge for the room that night. What good does THAT do when you have to nurse the baby, and fit in naps when you are blocks away from the action???? She, or her husband (the best man) would be traveling back and forth, missing some of the planned festivities. OH… and even though the room they requested 6 months ago was for 2 queen sized beds so they could share with the in-laws to help with the baby sitting… they were given a room with one king size bed… cozy. Not to mention the ‘open’ bathroom… as in no wall between the shower and the room. Speak about getting to know your in-laws a little more than you are comfortable with. Needless to say… the in-laws drove up the next day.

We were still reeling over this when Ocean Place placed another phone call… The BRIDE WAS BUMPED TOO… in addition to one of the bridesmaids!!!!! The bride!!!!! Really!!!! I can’t make this stuff up!!! Ocean Place apologized, stating they made a huge mistake and a difficult decision had to be made… but another event booked 240 rooms and so the bride had to move on down the road. Promises of a bellhop moving their things back over the next morning were made, but never executed. The front desk was quick to assure everyone they would still be able to use the facilities like the Spa, pool, and workout space… just assuming the bride would feel comfortable walking a few blocks to the other hotel in her bathrobe.

To add insult to injury… upon check out one of the bridesmaids was charged for the change in rooms and the front desk refused to remove it immediately stating ‘accounting’ needed to make the adjustment… and they weren’t ‘in’ at the moment. It’s almost a week later and the problem has not been resolved.

So…. Here we are… the Bride and a few other guests have been bumped… and feel like second-class citizens. Nerves are being stretched to their snapping point, clothing and belongings being shuffled between a few ocean beach blocks, the sister of the groom is seething trying to rearrange her feeding and babysitting schedule to be able to enjoy the wedding. After a few hours we all calmed down and made the decision we were not going to let this ruin our good time. Tomorrow was the ‘big day’ and there was so much else to focus on.

And things went downhill after that!

Our schedule was to be at the hotel in the ‘get ready’ room at 9:00am for hair and makeup to begin. During our tours we were shown the ‘get ready’ room. It was beautiful, located on the second floor with a huge balcony overlooking the boardwalk and a spectacular view of the ocean. Imagine my surprise when I was escorted to a thin, narrow, totally enclosed room with a dripping air-conditioner compressor!!! “Oh HELL no!”

OK… in all fairness the staff probably didn’t know about the dripping air-conditioner… but come on… did they really think that squishing 11 women in a tiny room with no windows for 5 ½ hours was an acceptable way to treat a bride and her wedding party on the big day???? Seriously???

The bellhop called down for a manager as requested… then quickly scurried away. The manager arrived and informed us another bride was using the other ‘get ready’ room across the hall and since they want their brides to feel special they keep them separated!!! I kid you not… she actually said those words, “they want their brides to feel special’!!!! And she said them with a straight face!!!! Oh yeah… my future daughter-in-law really felt special all right… NOT!

We were moved to the room we were originally shown… but it shouldn’t have taken an act of congress to do so!!! The morning’s room juggling cut out about 45 minutes of much needed time for the hair and makeup artists to do their thing, so they were a bit frazzled.

In the end… we found out there were a few more weddings scheduled that day. We knew the bride of one of them… and the groom of the other. Small world. In addition, the other bride wasn’t getting married until later in the day… and arrived just as we were leaving for our ceremony.

The ceremony was scheduled for 3pm on the beach. Around 10:30 the weather report was bleak… predicting 70% chance of rain. Damn! The indoor back up ceremony site was set up and looked lovely… but it wasn’t the bride’s dream wedding. The father of the bride created the altar and was waiting for permission to erect it in the sand…as it couldn’t be erected inside. Things were getting tense. It was finally decided to set up the outside site… just incase. Besides, none of the decorations could be used indoors any way.

The weather co-operated and the ceremony was held on the beach as planned. Although it sprinkled just a little before the sun came out, the hotel provided some towels to wipe the seats… but not enough. The ceremony was lovely… just as we all hoped and dreamed. The cocktail portion of the day, originally planned to be held on the outside patio, was moved indoors due to foreboding clouds overhead. Good call! I think everyone was overjoyed to be out of the sticky, muggy heat.

At the entrance a server offering the signature drinks of the day greeted me… Coconut Mojito and Rum Punch. Both were refreshing… however no one tasted the alcohol. Maybe that’s how it was supposed to be??? The food, both passed and at stations were plentiful and delicious. The steel drum band was exceptional!

However… reports of a rude bartender began to circulate. Apparently it wasn’t WHAT he said that was rude, but rather HOW it was said. He accused the best man of drinking too much and would be cut off… when in reality he was only being helpful and gathering drinks for tables and basically serving them. Perhaps the bartender needs a refresher course in customer relations?

Upon entering the reception room I was pleased with the set-up. The table scape wasn’t an easy one to replicate, but the staff did an AWESOME job! The room was a bit crowded, but that was to be expected as the guest list pretty much maxed out its capacity. That didn’t stop us from dancing the night away and having a wonderful time.

I am sure you will agree with me that a wedding is only as good as the entertainment, the food, and the bar… right? Well… the DJ nailed the entertainment! He read the crowd, played the right music at the right time and remembered the Bride called all the shots. I wish I could say the same about the food and the bar.

There were over 90 guests… and only ONE bartender. Yes, it was the same rude bartender as the cocktail party, and no, his demeanor hadn’t changed… commenting rudely to guests about their drinking habits. In addition he was s-l-o-w. When asked why only one bartender was on duty, the reply was that the serving staff was told there were only 75 guests attending. Huh! The final count had been in for weeks… there was no surprise the number was over 90. It was an open bar, so my guess is that is how Ocean Place keeps their costs down. Slow bartenders make fewer drinks therefore using less alcohol.

Speaking of alcohol… let me touch on the champagne toast for a second. I only have a second because that’s how fast the servers whisked my glass away after the toast. The glass was only filled with 1 inch of liquid to begin with. My daughter doesn’t drink a drop of alcohol, so she passed hers on to me. I took 2 small sips from my glass, stood up to speak to someone at the next table for a few minutes and when I returned both glasses had disappeared! Gone! The servers had cleared the table in such a hurry. I was so stunned I snapped a picture of the round indentation the glass made in the tablecloth as proof a glass really existed at all.

Remember I mentioned the food tasting earlier? Well… here it comes into play. The requested white wine and garlic replacement sauce never happened… the sauce was still the red one. The Jerk Chicken, which we never tasted was NOT Jerk Chicken at all… and was so dry I only took one bite and pushed it to the side. The Black Bean Salad was wonderful, fresh, and colorful. Nothing else looked appetizing so that’s all I ate… one bite of dry chicken and a few forkfuls of black bean salad.

I work for an event planning company part time and have eaten at Ocean Place on many occasions. I was never a fan of their brown resin hot water baths they use for buffets… and was overly disappointed to see they use them for weddings as well. They just aren’t fancy enough for a wedding in my opinion. They are great for the outside bar… but seem to add a ‘picnic’ feel to the serving table.

Let’s talk cake! It was beautiful and delicious, purchased from an ‘approved vendor’ … although it was difficult to tell since the servings were so thin you could almost read a newspaper through the slice. Thank heavens there was a smorgasbord of desserts on the side. They were all yummy!

Everyone assumed the cake slices were thin so the happy couple could save the top layer for their first anniversary. Ah, no. The top was never saved nor given to anyone on their behalf. I’m guessing if you wanted the top you had to spell it out in the contract. Don’t you think that should be a checklist question for the event planner? It wasn’t. Perhaps that was our mistake??

The reception ended with a bonfire on the beach… with S’mores! What a peaceful and calming finish to a celebration of two families blending together. Then WHAM… time’s up! The staff threw a trashcan of cold water on the fire… and it was time to go home. I know the staff has to get cleaned up and get home… and there might even be regulations about bonfires on the beach… but in my mind I envisioned the fire slowly burning down and extinguishing on it’s own. Silly me.

One last point of contention to discuss is Ocean Place’s total disregard and mistreatment of your personal belongings. We were assured during the service and reception all ‘get ready’ rooms would be locked. I believe that was true for the girl’s room… for some of the time… however we know for a fact the groom’s room was never once locked. Thankfully nothing was stolen, although many expensive items were there on display.

After all is said and done, the staff gathers everything up and delivers it to the couple’s room. This is where the real heartache happens. To say the couple’s belongings were handled without care is a HUGE understatement. The guest book poster which was signed with happy wishes for the newly weds was crumpled and stuffed under the burlap runner and is damaged beyond repair. Leftover cookie favors were broken and many are missing. Handmade seashell frames arrived to their room broken, which most likely can be repaired… but that’s not the point. The bride’s seashell bouquet was also stuffed in a box without care and has a few broken shells. Items were simply tossed haphazardly into boxes without thought. Total carelessness!

None of these things ruined the wedding completely. The bride was still beautiful, the groom still smitten, and the guests danced ‘til they couldn’t move another muscle. After a year of plotting, planning, dreaming, and implementing, the wedding was still a success, IN SPITE of Ocean Place.

The DJ, Videographer, and Photographer were professionals (and AWESOME) and made the bride and groom the center of attention, rightfully so and made them feel special.

I will leave you with a favorite quote by Maya Angelou:

‘I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.’

Perhaps the staff at Ocean Place Resort and Spa needs to repeat this quote on a daily basis.

Snowy Day at the Beach!!! – DP#133

Snowy bench

 

I’m one of those crazy people who get excited when it snows!!! It’s a PERFECT reason to pop popcorn, choose a movie, snuggle up, and stare out the window. All errands and obligations are cancelled by Mother Nature…. and I’m OK with that!

The ‘white stuff’ couldn’t keep me in the house. I went for a walk… then got in the car and took off for my favorite spot… the BEACH!!! The benches are cold and wet… the sky grey, dark, and ominous… but oh so beautiful and serene. It’s still a wonderful place to sit and contemplate the wonders of the world.

snow on benchsnowy ocean

 

Even the Spider Webs get coated with flakes making them look like lace…

Snow Spider

 

What did YOU do today to celebrate the blanket of snow???

I Hope You Dance – DP#52

20130911-170619.jpg

 

I didn’t take the photograph above. I wish I had, but I didn’t. That honor goes to Dave and Vicki Arndt. They are also the talent behind my daughter’s Disney Wedding Photos and their engagement shots. Check out their web page when you get a chance… Dave and Vicki Arndt Photographers.

This morning, once I wiped the sleep from my eyes and shook the cobwebs from my brain I fired up the iPad to check out what was going on around my world.

I expected a lot of September 11 tributes and braced myself for the unsettling reminder. Instead, this serene and beautiful picture was staring up at me. Vicki, in the ocean with a hand drawn Mickey inscribed with their initials and 4 EVER. It took my breath away… and pierced my heart with an arrow.

Take away the Mickey in the sand… and that photo could so easily have been of me standing in the water with that caption.

Frequently I go to the beach and dip my toes in the water… and that is EXACTLY what I think about. How I feel so small and insignificant in the big scheme of things.

My friend JaNoel passed away shortly before my husband, slightly more than seven years ago. Wise before her years… On my last visit to her in Arkansas she made me promise to listen to the words of the song by Faith Hill… I HOPE YOU DANCE… and to live by them.

Well… I have forgotten that promise. I have forgotten how to ‘dance’. Life got in the way, icky things happened, I had to take a step back and re-group. Apparently I’m STILL re-grouping… trying to figure out how I fit in this gigantic world we live in.

So… thank you Dave and Vicki for the reminder… or should I say, ‘the kick in the pants’. You guys are the BEST… and I love this photo of you. Your talent and love for each other shines through the computer screen!

For those of you needing a refresher of the lyrics… here they are:

I hope you never lose your sense of wonder
You get your fill to eat but always keep that hunger
May you never take one single breath for granted
God forbid love ever leave you empty-handed
I hope you still feel small when you stand by the ocean
Whenever one door closes, I hope one more opens
Promise me that you’ll give faith a fighting chance
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance

I hope you dance
I hope you dance

I hope you never fear those mountains in the distance
Never settle for the path of least resistance
Living might mean taking chances but they’re worth taking
Loving might be a mistake but it’s worth making
Don’t let some hell-bent heart leave you bitter
When you come close to selling out, reconsider
Give the heavens above more than just a passing glance
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance

I hope you dance
(Time is a real and constant motion always)
I hope you dance
(Rolling us along)
I hope you dance
(Tell me who)
I hope you dance
(Wants to look back on their youth and wonder)
(Where those years have gone)

I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean
Whenever one door closes, I hope one more opens
Promise me that you’ll give faith a fighting chance
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance

Dance
I hope you dance
I hope you dance
I hope you dance
I hope you dance
I hope you dance
I hope you dance

 

 

 

 

Refreshing Salt Air – DP#46

Beach

 

Ahhhh… the salty sweet smell of the ocean air fills my soul and brings me back home.

In an effort to exercise the extra pounds I gained while away this past month, I rode my bike to my favorite beach this afternoon, hauled it up onto the boardwalk, sat on a bench and took a deep breath. There is nothing better!!!!

The sights, sounds, and smells of the sea set my creative brain in gear. Looking out into the vast ocean I day dream and think of the most amazing stories.

One day, after beach combing on a rainy morning… I came home and wrote a short story. Just a little ditty that ran through my head as I was searching for shells, sea glass, and drift wood. Every day… without fail… someone ‘googles’ that story and reads it. EVERY DAY!!!

I understood the popularity when it was first posted as it was something new, but months later it is still the most viewed post on my blog. My statistic app isn’t the most robust so I don’t know if it’s the same few people reading it over and over… or all different people. Sometimes it is viewed only once… and other days it is viewed as much as 10 times.

Obviously the story hits a nerve with quite a few people. Instead of leaving public replies… I get private emails of similar tales. Most with happy endings.

In case you missed it and want to read it yourself… CLICK HERE.

As you fall asleep tonight envision the calmness all around you. Listen for the waves, smell the salt air… and drift off to never never land.

 

 

Zero, Zip, Ziltch – DP#36

Nothing

 

As a writer there is nothing worse than staring at that blank page just HOPING words will start to magically flow. Any words… any words at all. Once you start writing the rest falls into place. Then you re-write, and re-write again. But it all starts with the first word.

However, that is not my problem. I have plenty of words swirling around in my head. So many are trying to make their way out of my head and onto the page in hopes of becoming a book. No, my problem isn’t the lack of words… it’s the right space to write in.

I have found it best for me to write sitting on my favorite bench at the beach… however it’s overrun with strangers during the summer which makes it hard to concentrate, besides I haven’t been home in weeks!!

My best writing was done while sequestered away in a really nice condo on the beach in Myrtle Beach, SC. I woke up each morning ready to write. The ocean waves crashing right outside my window… dolphins playing in the surf… salty air wafting up to my nostrils. Ahhh… relaxing.

For some odd reason I find I can’t write unless I’m around water. No, not just around it, but able to see it, smell it.

At home I have placed a desk in my bedroom window, which faces the lake. I need to purchase a more comfortable chair… but all in all it works.

The photo of the notebook above shows how much I have written since mid July. At this rate my book won’t be finished for YEARS! I guess I should stop beating myself up and enjoy my time off, knowing that when I return home I need to buckle down and… ‘Git ‘er done’!

 

Short Story… Beach Morning

The morning sun peeks through my window and directs it’s warmth on my right eyelid; mother nature’s wake up call. My foggy brain kicks into gear. Numbers… from behind my eyes I see numbers. Low tide… 5:14am. Sunrise 6:18am. Get to work by 9:30am. It’s now 7:00am. Huh… gives me plenty of time to head out to the beach and pick up some shells and driftwood. Hearing rain earlier that morning gives me a reason to change my mind, but the rain has currently stopped so I decide to follow the original plan.

 

Jumping in the shower, I make the executive decision it won’t hurt to go another day without washing my hair. Not being hungry for breakfast, but knowing I have to eat something, I grab a Key Lime low fat yogurt before I jump into the car. I drive north on Ocean Ave so early there is no one on the road. Crossing over the little white bridge I flick my right blinker on and turn into the small, empty parking lot across from the red church. The sand is firm up to a certain point. As it softens I pull to the side and throw the car in park… for fear if I go any further I won’t be able to drive out.

 

Reaching into the back seat I grab the plastic ziplock baggie for the shells and a cloth tote bag to haul home some driftwood. I have a few craft projects in mind which require my astute gathering skills this morning.

 

The drizzle earlier this morning has left a thin, dark layer of sand. Although my car is the only one in the lot, I notice dry sand impressions in the shape of sneaker prints headed towards the ocean. I don’t see a set of prints coming back. Scanning the beach I don’t spot anyone else here. Hmmm… maybe they are on the jetty?

 

No worries… quite a few people are within walking distance of this beach. I move closer to the water’s edge and begin my search.

 

Bending over to get a better look, I take off my glasses to see clearer. The wind is blowing steadily from the waves. Damn! I forgot to bring a hair elastic to keep my long blonde hair constrained and out of my way as I scrutinize the mixture of broken shells, sand, and pebbles for the perfect crustaceans I need for my projects. I could use a few more hands… grasping the bags in one hand and trying to keep my flying hair out of my way with the other doesn’t leave any hands left to pick up my treasures. This struggle becomes a comedy routine. Throw my hair around to the back, then quickly bend over and grab the tiny morsel BEFORE my hair flops down in my face again and obstructs my view. Rinse and repeat.

 

I come here often. It’s my new hobby… hunting and gathering sea glass and such. I enjoy the smell of the salt air, the force of the waves against the shore and the roar of it all. The past 16 years have been crazy and chaotic. Walking on this beach in the early morning makes all of that a distant memory. The sound of the surf puts me in a calm, reflective mood.

 

Sometimes I miss my old life. I don’t miss my husband’s illness and all the pain I have been through… but I miss the day to day role of being ‘mom’ to a young family. I am in my golden years… all by myself. I am single… but not by choice.

 

My husband of 27 years passed away six years ago after a very long illness in which I was his caregiver. I met another man a few years later and for the first time in my life, fell head over heels, ecstatically in love. He wasn’t ready for that kind of commitment and moved on to someone else. I am broken hearted.

 

Walking along the beach gives me time to sort out my life and think about what I want to do with the years I have left. As Pippen sings in the play, “ I want my life to be something more than long.” For this moment however… this damp morning… I bend over placing my nose as close to the sand as I can get without falling over, searching for shells… oblivious to what is going on around me.

 

Voices to my left interrupt my peaceful interlude. I look up, a young boy and girl are arm in arm walking out from the tree lined area by the parking lot… snuggling against each other. Sigh. I miss that feeling. My thoughts turn to my ex. I would have done anything to have stopped him from leaving me. Sigh. I hope he is happy and doing well.

 

My plastic bag is filling up fast with broken bits of muscles, clams, snails and scallops. The seagulls have done their damage and most shells have a teeny, tiny hole drilled where the birds have slurped out their delicious feast. Mother Nature has deposited the piles of broken debris in a long line across the sand where the tides have receded.

 

Without paying any attention to the young couple, I continue my hunt down the beach… standing up every so often to stretch my aching back and flip my hair out of my way… yet again. I don’t need my glasses for close up work, yet if I place them on my head they continuously fall into the sand. UGH! In the future I need to wear a hat and put my glasses on a string around my neck… I make a mental note.

 

I am partial to the shimmery shells with a pearlized coating… you know, all girls love glitter and sparkle; I am no different. I know when I smash all the shells into smaller pieces the shiny ones will give my project the extra pizzaz it needs. I am so excited!

 

Out of the corner of my eye I see a clearing in the sand a little bit off to my right. A break in the line of shells. It looks as if someone swiped everything off to the side and wanted to make the clearing obvious. I work my way towards it… keeping my head down… I gasp! Right there… carefully placed in the center of a hand drawn heart… is a beautiful, sparkley ring.

 

What the f***??? Instantly I turn red realizing the young couple is now standing on the jetty to my right, hugging and kissing. I bet they thought they would be all alone and he planned to propose. Here I am, an old lady ruining their plans and botching up their special moment. Oops… how embarrassing!!

 

Fumbling, I gather my ‘finds’ and turn to make a hasty retreat back to the car… but I am pulled up short… dead in my tracks. It takes a moment for my brain to register what my eyes are seeing. Standing right smack in front of me is my ex. What the hell??? My heart stops beating and my breath catches in my throat. My knees begin to weaken. I am so confused! What is going on? What is he doing here? More importantly… How did he know I was here???

 

Without hesitation, he bends down on one knee and reaches for my hand. I am STUNNED. My head is spinning trying to sort this all out and make sense of what is happening. What is he doing?? We haven’t spoken to each other in months. Literally! No phone calls, no text messages, no e-mails. What is he doing here? Be still my beating heart!! What the…???

 

He broke off with me 2 years ago explaining he wasn’t sure what he wanted. After declaring his love for me and announcing he said the ‘L’ word first… to a year later firmly stating he doesn’t love me… then immediately hooking up with another woman… whom I assumed he was still with. I have never gotten over it. Now here he was, in front of me on bended knee… so far not having uttered a word.

 

I can’t breathe!!! I can’t breathe!!! My knees finally give out and I fall to the sand, kneeling in front of him. He is still holding my hand, looking into my eyes. Afraid to say anything, not that I could muster more than a squeak, I gulp and try to take a deep breath.

 

“I love you.” I hear the words quietly escape his lips.

 

Gulp! Tears begin to puddle in my eyes.

 

“ I am sorry I hurt you. I have spent the past 2 years thinking I was not the one for you… so I let you go so you could find your Prince Charming. I realized I was being stupid… a jerk really… and I loved you… and should never have let you go. If you will have me, I want you back… if it’s not too late. I promise to love you forever.”

 

He continued, “ I know I am not perfect… no one is, including you. I have issues and baggage… you do too… but I want to live out the rest of my life with you.”

 

“Will you take me back?”

 

With that he reached past me and plucked the ring out of the sand and held it up to me with a questioning look in his eyes.

 

Whoa! So many questions and thoughts were flooding my head. Where to begin? What should I ask first? I’m speechless.

 

I remember a night he was in this same position asking me to never leave him. He made it clear he was not begging… just asking. My heart melted that night, angels sang and harps played… that was the night I drank the kool-aid and allowed myself to unconditionally love this man. No one has ever gotten down on bended knee for me before… NO ONE. I blink… the puddle of tears slip down my cheeks.

 

I shake my head to clear the vision. I look down at the sand and all I see are broken shells. There is no clearing, no diamond ring, and certainly no man on bended knee. It was wishful thinking, plus my over active creative brain fleshing out a story line for a future book.

 

Damn!

 

The happy couple walk past me hand in hand, swing their arms together. Both smiling. “Good morning,” they call out to me. “Good morning,” I reply.

 

I gather my things… and my wits… and head home.

 

Oh, what a morning this has been!