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We are here at Topsail.

Our trip was loooooooonnnnnnngggggggg.  We’ve taken late night flights before, but never a red-eye to get here. For some reason, it really took it out of us.  We crashed immediately on arrival on Saturday, and really didn’t recover until yesterday when we checked into our rental cottage.

A crashed Kelsea.

The living room at Two Suns

We have seen a lovely sunset.

The edge of the sun

Rain.

Kelsea touches the rain.

And a rainbow.

Faint and lovely.

We waxed ecstatic over Annabelle.

A crashed Annabelle.

And opted not to walk on the beach to see the fam last night, prefering to avoid potential lightning strikes from an approaching storm.

Approaching storm.

We had some nice family time last night, but Kelsea and I stayed up way too late. It was surprisingly cool and gray today, so it was a good day for hanging out and reading on the porch.  Dinner is cooking as I type.  MKL arrives tomorrow.

As the saying goes, “God’s in his heaven and all’s right with the world.”

Kelsea and I are off to North Carolina tonight, leaving the kitty and house in capable hands. E-Bro and the fam are coming on Sunday. MKL will join us on Tuesday. For the first time since Kelsea was born, we are staying in a different cottage – one called Two Suns.

Two Suns from the front

It’s only about 10 houses north of “our” house, but it’s amazing how different that makes both the view and the energy.

Two Suns from the back

When I first started going to Topsail, we stayed in a little tiny house called “The Willard”. I remember the night we first arrived. It was unmarked, we had no idea if we were in the right place, and a hurricane was passing by. It’s not called by that name anymore, but it’s still there and still tiny, though it has been fixed up some. I suggested to Kelsea that we stay there this year, but we decided we wanted to be south of the Jolly Roger Pier.

Once when I was younger than Kelsea, and once again when I was about her age, we couldn’t get “our” house, and so we stayed elsewhere. It was interesting and different, but we still liked “our” house best. I am thinking that will be the case this time, especially since we don’t have a front porch on Two Suns, and Kelsea loves to hang out on the front porch in the afternoons, reading and watching the world go by where the sun is not so ripe and flaming.  She’ll have to make do with the side porch at this house.  I guess she can play sentry at the top of the stairs.

A change of scenery is never a bad thing, and my photos will have a different perspective, which I hope we will all enjoy.

Having MKL join us is a change as well, since no one else has stayed with us since my parents died, and ex-Pat didn’t even come with us most years.  MKL will be meeting the rest of my family for the first time.  In my old-fashioned Southern way, I am hoping for my brother’s blessing as head of the family.  It’s been two years since I’ve seen E-Bro and the fam, so I think we’re all prepared for changes all around, especially in the kids.

I’m considering whether we want to make time for a side trip this year.  Last year’s trip to Bald Head Island didn’t work out as quite the fantasy I’d hoped for, but it certainly was interesting. As MKL has never been to North Carolina, I’d love to be able to share a little more of my home state with him.

Possibilities for a day trip are Moore’s Creek, a Revolutionary War battlefield not too far from Hampstead, or perhaps the Arlie Gardens, where Kelsea and I had… technical difficulties on our last visit, way back when she was three, or maybe even Swansboro. After all, it’s been two years since I’ve made any grievous errors getting lost on the military base. I’m pretty sure they miss me.

But you won’t have to miss me, as Two Suns has wireless, and I promise to keep you posted. (Get it? Posted? HA!)

Bon voyage!

I can get homesick for a memory, not a place.

Does that sound strange?

Homesickness is fairly rare for me anymore. It happens mostly in spring, when I know that North Carolina is turning green and blossoming while Colorado is still buried under a winter shroud.

But sometimes, it is triggered by a visual, like it was this morning. The bus stopped at one of its usual stops on Hwy. 287, and across the street, a Mo-Po-Po (translation: a police officer on a really cool Harley) was giving some poor guy a ticket, which was not a good way to start his day. At the edge of the small hill on that side of the street is a small pond (more of a giant puddle) and at the edge of the puddle are cattails.

My Mother loved cattails, so I loved cattails.  Their brown velvet casings are so soft, and the down that emerges from them is like a blessing, an indicator that it is time for this lovely thing to move on to its next phase of life (or death).

I remember at Topsail, towards the North end of the island at the curve just before the big bridge, stopping at the side of the road for my Mother to burrow into the marsh and cut cattails to take home. They would live for a long time, dried in an old bronze-toned vase with dragons etched and curling up its sides.

I think I have that vase somewhere.

And at Buxton, where a walk on the Maritime Forest Nature Trail in the chill of a beachside March dusk would yield cold fingers and runny noses, she would see cattails, but never disturb them, as the Nature Trail was a protected area.  (Though she would snitch a few leaves from the Bay Laurel tree to ensure she had enough to carry her through the year.)

The sight of cattails this morning made me homesick.

We are going home very soon, to a different beach house for this one year, which will be good but strange, and we will start some new traditions, and welcome MKL into some old ones.  And I will drive by the curve in the road where the cattails live, and remember.

Image aptly entitled “Fuzzy Corn Dog on a Stick” by Vagabond Shutterbug from www.flickr.com

Is it the sun? Or the moon?  You be the judge, because it’s whatever you think you see.  And I’ll never tell….

Boulder County, Colorado.

Quote of the Day: “The real lover is the man who can thrill you by kissing your forehead or smiling into your eyes or just staring into space.”  —  Marilyn Monroe

Daily gratitudes:
The way dogs’ jowls flap in the breeze when they stick their heads out of moving car windows
The lady so moved by the spirit of gospel that she was singing and dancing in her car this morning
How tolerant MKL is of ring shopping
Sushi
A cooler day today

Ready for take-off at the 1940s Dance at the Boulder Municipal Airport.

Boulder, Colorado.

Quote of the day: “When unicorns headbutt, there are no winners.”  —  Josh Stern

Daily gratitudes:
The giant bolt of lightning outside my house tonight
Bats winging their way through the twilight treetops
Crickets
My bed
My parents

 

Sometimes flowers are reluctant to have their picture taken, but insatiable photographers that we are, we insist.

Lafayette, Colorado.

Quote of the day: “People who dream when they sleep at night know of a special kind of happiness which the world of the day holds not, a placid ecstasy, and ease of heart, that are like honey on the tongue.”  —  Isak Dineson

Daily gratitudes:
The wind before the rain
Random bunnies
Day lily buds – and the memory of E-Bro picking, cooking, and eating them, a la Euell Gibbons
Walking
An infinite number of shades of blue

My daughter was at a midnight premiere of “The Dark Knight Rises” here in Colorado last night.  So was my niece.

Thank God they weren’t at the midnight premiere in Aurora some forty miles from home.

Like much of the world, I awoke to news of the mass shooting in a theater not too far away, a similar crowd to the one my darling girl was a part of last night.  This morning when I left for work, she was still sleeping peacefully. I kissed her sleepy little self and told her I loved her.  I don’t think she’ll mind if I share her Facebook post from about 4:00 a.m. this morning. She must have found out about this after she got home.

“I, much like thousands of other people across Colorado, went to see the midnight premier of The Dark Knight Rises. But while so many of us were sitting comfortably watching the movie we were all so excited for, at least 14 people, who were expecting a night like mine, were killed in a mass shooting in another midnight premier at the Century 16 theaters in Aurora, Colorado. My heart and thoughts go out to all of those who were injured or who lost someone in this senseless act of unprovoked violence. There really are no words to explain what happened this morning…”

I wish she had awakened me.

It breaks my heart, and as a parent, it terrifies me.  MKL and I were driving through the Columbine neighborhood a week ago, and I got very quiet.  I can’t go near that area without remembering the pain and terror and permanent destruction of lives and hearts and families that happened at Columbine High School.  Ever since Kelsea started school, an incident like that has been hovering in my fears that live in that place in your brain that you can’t let go of, but can never bear to face.

Last night struck too close to home.

You can’t protect your children from insanity.  You can’t lock them away so they’ll be safe forever. Life is unpredictable. And sometimes it is indescribably tragic and agonizing. And so often, so random. All you can do is, sadly, play out scenarios with them – “What would you do if…?”  – coach them, and hope they never find themselves having to actually experience those moments, and put those practice scenes into action.

From the empath’s perspective, I am trying hard today NOT to go to the place where I feel the overwhelming pain of those who lost someone, or the staggering fear and panic of the people who were there.  That’s my automatic response. But I don’t want to do that.

Today, I want to just say a prayer for those people, and for my own daughter.

As she said, there really are no words.

As the end of my birthday week celebration (or at least the first week of my birthday month celebration), MKL and I went to see La Boheme at the Central City Opera on Friday night.

It was magical.  Our last opera was The Marriage of Figaro by Opera Colorado in February.  If you’ve never seen an opera, I don’t recommend Marriage of Figaro as your first one.  I love opera, but haven’t seen one in about 17 years, and “Figaro” was four hours long and tough to follow, which made me wonder why I loved opera in the past.  But La Boheme made me remember.

We drove Tristan, MKL’s BMW show car, up to Central City just in time for an appetizer and a glass of champagne at the Teller House as the sun dropped below the mountains.   The Teller House fortunately still has an air of age and elegance to it.

Though the Face in the Barroom Floor has faded, as has much of the grandness of this former mining boom town since gambling was introduced back in the early 1990s.

The Face in the Barroom Floor – image from centralcityoperafestival.blogspot.com

We still had a little time to peek inside some buildings that have not been tainted by slot machines and blackjack tables, including the Williams Stables, which is also the purvey of the Central City Opera, and which holds small pre-performance excerpts of whatever is playing.

And the dagger in that picture?  REALLY sharp and totally unattended.

You are notified that it is almost time to head in for the performance by the staff marching up the street singing, by the ringing of handheld bells, and by  ten-minute, five-minute announcements, a friendly and gentle reminder to get your buns in gear.

Image from centralcityoperafestival.blogspot.com

It takes no time to get to your seat, and the interior of the Opera House is intimate, old, and beautiful.

As photos weren’t allowed during the performance, I borrowed this one from the Central City Opera website.

The Central City players performing La Boheme

This version of La Boheme was staged in Paris in the 1930s, and sung in Italian. The subtitles on the foot of the stage were very helpful, even though I knew the storyline, and I played with my own memory of two years of college Italian to see if I could catch any words or phrases. I must say, the subtitles were pretty loose with their translation, but it was still easy to follow.  The orchestra was seated beneath the stage, and I could just see the tops of their heads from our seats in the fourth row.

At intermission, we retreated to the darkened, romantic, terraced garden for a glass of wine.

Central City Opera House Courtyard image courtesy of http://www.waymarking.com

Every performer had a simply heavenly voice, and we both cried at the end (spoiler alert) when Mimi died.

It was a lovely evening, though it was late as we started home, and we had just reached the turn-off to I-70, when Tristan decided to play out his own death scene. Yep, he died.  And no amount of MKL’s roll-up-your-sleeves sensor/relay switching and eventual tire iron thumping made him start. My view was approximately this:

We wound up our evening with a long ride in a cushy (really!) tow truck, learning about life story of Ryan, owner of Father and Son Towing and longtime acquaintance of MKL.  It was a little surreal, but totally charming.

A marvelous birthday present…

Dragonflies have been a lovely recurring theme in my life with MKL.  Almost every time we are together, we see an actual dragonfly or a representation of one. It’s a wonderfully mystic thing that we share.  I found this dragonfly on my fence a little while ago, and thought I would share it with you.

Lafayette, Colorado.

Quote of the day: “Our dreams drench us in senses, and senses steps us again in dreams.” — Amos Bronson Alcott

Daily gratitudes:
A positive attitude when things go wrong
The wonderful voices at last night’s opera
A lazy day
Kelsea
Oversized shirts

Island churches have a little simple magic all their own. While I didn’t get to see this church is operation, I did hear the congregation of another church on Anguilla sing their hearts out through the open windows overlooking the turquoise sea on a Sunday morning.

Island Harbour, Anguilla.

Quote of the day: “In order to rise from its own ashes, a Phoenix must first burn.”  —  Octavia E. Butler

Daily gratitudes:
MKL
A much more reasonable plumbing repair quote
Loco Moco from the 20th Street Cafe
Opera tonight
That Kelsea called me when she heard “our song” on the radio today

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