I got to spend a couple days with my high school friend, Melissa in Asheville, NC over Memorial Day weekend. I hadn't seen in her 10 years, but it was like no time had passed at all! So here I continue my list of gifts, blessings that I write down to remember all the wonderful things that God gives me along the journey (from Ann Voskamp's book and her blog, A Holy Experience). I'm still struggling with depression (SAD), but the gifts keep accumlating, and it's possible I appreciate them even more in the midst of depression.
Before I get to my North Carolina adventure, a few end of school year things:
275. Birthday cupcakes.
Dreamer's birthday was May 17 and I brought cupcakes to school for a little school party. After all the kids sang her Happy Birthday, Dreamer asked me to stay (there was only about an hour left of school). I hadn't planned on staying, but how could I refuse on her birthday? And I've got to enjoy these years when I'm still the greatest thing in the world to my kids, when they want to show me off in front of their friends and teacher!
Dreamer's ballet recital rehearsal was the next day, and she was so excited about getting to perform up on stage! When we entered the big auditorium for her rehearsal - she couldn't stop giggling. Dreamer giggles when she's excited, and it's contagious.
277. Dance recitals.
Saturday was her actual ballet recital. She got to dress us as a bride and the girls in her class did a dance called "La Mariee" by Marc Chagall, to a beautiful classical piece that I'd never heard before, but now I love: The Great Russian Easter Wedding March by Rimsky-Korsakov. I love all the other dances too, tap, jazz, hiphop and Irish step (I love the Irish step especially because the whole audience gets involved clapping and yelling). The costumes are always fun, too. One of my favorites were the little girls dressed up in jungle gear and tap dancing to the elephant's march from Disney's Jungle Book.
B. tried to call me during Dreamer's recital to see if Blaze had come outside yet to be picked up for her friends' swimming party. I couldn't talk to him so I texted him back. Texting is so much fun! I loved our little "conversation": B: I'm a bissy man send her a runnin or no swimmy. Me: I'm in the middle of a recital! B: Just march right up on that stage grab her and tell them people my husband wants dinner what are you all thinking?
279. Last favorite things.
One more thing relating to ballet - Dreamer came and told me, "Some people at school don't like ballet." I told her, "well, people have different favorite things and some things they don't like to do." Dreamer thought for a minute and then asked, very plaintively, "why can't ballet be their last favorite thing?"
280. Casa BonitasAfter the recital, we drove down to Denver for Dreamer's birthday party at Casa Bonita's. It wasn't a real party (it was just our family) but that giant resaturant, with a waterfall, a high dive show, actors dressed up as pirates, gorillas and princesses, pinatas, puppet shows, and Black Bart's cave, is better than any party I could come up with for girls on my own!
281. Refocus stations.
Blaze and Dreamer told me about the "refocus station" at school. Apparently when you get in trouble these days at school, the old threats we used to deal with - a dunce's cap, detention - have been replaced with something with a more more constructive title - a "refocus station." I'm not quite clear how it works, but the name just cracked me up.
282. Critique partners.
I've found a new "critique partner" via my writing blog, another writer of youn adult fiction, and we exchanged our stories (well, she sent me her entire novel - which was WONDERFUL! I had a hard time finding anything to critique about it; it's ready for publication) and I sent her my first three chapters (the rest of my novel still needs major revision). But my partner's response to my first three chapters was very encouraging. She found some things I needed to fix, but they weren't major. Her words: "I like this. I really, REALLY like this." Music to my ears!
283. Dismissed fees.
I forgot to file a form with the IRS last year, and they threatened a $700 fee! I sent them the missing paperwork, and said a prayer. This week I got a letter saying they were dismissing the fee! Hallelujah!
284. Great quotes"The world will not starve for want of wonders, but for want of wonder." G. K. Chesteron
285. Beautiful riding.
Stars posted a video of her riding her horse Roy without bridle or saddle, walking, trotting and loping in circles and doing patterns - even backward steps and a perfect 360 degree turn on the quarters!
286. The filling of the Holy Spirit.
Beth Moore's Breaking Free study continues to give me wonderful insights into the Bible and my spiritual walk. She talks about how the Holy Spirit is like a great flood of water pouring into your life. The only places it can't fill are the places that where you won't yield - your "high places". It is entirely possible to be filled with the Holy Spirit but still have high places you haven't yielded yet - stubborn spots the Lord is still working on you to give up. I could think of a few I'm still hanging onto...
287. Old friends, far away but not forgotten.
Visiting Melissa! Oh my goodness a friendship that stands the test of time is a true treasure! When she picked me up from the airport in Greenville, SC, I got to meet her daughters Molly (13) and Emily (10) for the first time, and then I got to meet Ho Ward, which is what they've named their talking GPS. Yes, I've been living in the dark ages, I've never heard an onboard GPS give directions before. They had all sorts of stories to tell me about the pros and cons of GPS and the particularities of a computer voice (I wanted to hear the Australian version of Ho Ward).
288. MohitosMelissa had a barbeque to reaquint me with her family and introduce me to her new friends and she introduced to me to a new drink, "the mohito": a freshing lime, mint, seltzer and rum concoction. Delicious.
289. The Grove ParkA grand old hotel and spa. I took pictures of Molly standing inside its giant fireplaces (it reminded me a more rustic version of the Homestead in Virginia). We also drove by the Biltmore (too expensive to actually go in - we admired from afar).
290. Pink ghosts.
The Grove Park is supposedly haunted by the Pink Lady, who is not a frightening ghost - the worst she does is tickle your toes while you are sleeping.
291. Star shops and street performers.
We walked around downtown Asheville, listened to street performers - Asheville reminds me of the outdoor mall in Boulder, Colorado. We popped in and out of all the little boutiques. At one store you could buy real dinosaur bones and fossils. My favorite though was the Star Shop, where you could buy these beautiful painted paper lanterns in the shape of stars.
293. Old-timey general stores.
Another great store in downtown Asheville is Mast's General store, like stepping back in a time fifty years or so (well, except for the prices). I loved the barrels of full of old-fashioned candy in the back. While picking out some treats to take home to my daughters, I heard another shopper exclaim "I haven't seen some of these candies in forty years!" They even had horehound candy (famous from Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House books).
294. Mugs and maps
Whenever I visit a new place, I like to get a local map of it (I was picking on Melissa for not having any Asheville maps and relying so much on her GPS). And I like to bring home a mug. Because then when I'm sipping my tea in the morning, the mug brings back memories.
295. Fusion restaurants, flavor explosionsWe ended the day at a delicious restaurant, Curras, which serves Mexican fusion - not sure what that is exactly, but my scallop enchilada was a perfect explosion of different flavors.
296. Creatively-named chocolates.
I dragged Melissa and the girls into a shop called the Chocolate Fetish, because I love to discover new flavors of chocolate! I tried a truffle called "the Dragon's Sigh" - listen to this heavenly description: "sprinked with white and black sesame seeds, enrobed in a creamy smmoth dark choclate overture, the full flavored dark chocolate center will tackle your tongue with a light taste of Wasabi." I also tried the "Midsummer Night's Dream" truffle - chocolate infused with fresh lavender, locally produced honey, and hint of lemon, and admired more creative truffle names such as "High Tea" "French Velvet" "Wine and Roses" and "Ancient Pleasures."
297. Mountain driving.
After another delicious meal on Sunday, brunch at the "Laughing Seed" (love that name!) we went driving up along the Blue Ridge Parkway, through real mountain tunnels, and hiking through "tunnels" of rhodendron. I am used to mountain driving, but I've never encountered such narrow scary little roads as the ones in the countryside surrounding Asheville. You really do not want to encounter another car coming the opposite direction!
298. Silliness that you never outgrow.
"I am in love to help you, Miss Meleeeeeeesa" - not sure how to explain this one, except to say that it's classic Melissa. We were silly like this all the time in high school, so nice to see we haven't outgrown it.