2nd Set of Solo Holidays.

Compared to last year, there is no comparison.

I’ve got your answers, in the palm of my hand and they come, this year, a little easier from the heart.

What do you do?

I’m a social worker for the county. I co-supervise a program that advocates for foster care children.

I could never do what you do.

Sure. But you know what? I’d make a lousy farmer.

How long have you been here {in this vineyard town}?

Three years. I lived in {the little mountain town} for 10 years before.

What brought you up here?

I was married at the time and we followed his job. I’m solo now.

{This has to be followed by a smile to assure the other person it’s really, really ok.}

Right there. I’ve got your answers right there.

At this point, sure. I’d always expected a large family of my own and at 30, thought for sure it’d be MY turn to host the moms and the dads and the brothers and the sisters and the nephews and the nieces. I’d always pictured too much food. A kids’ table. Raucous laughter. Things are always slightly out of control when this clan gets together. And oddly enough, I thrive on that part that you just can’t control. I adore it when my brother in law says things he absolutely shouldn’t and his sons overhear it and repeat the phrases all night long. I adore it when I can’t, for the life of me, figure out what my sister is trying to act out during Cranium and it turns into a screeching fest. I love it that my darling, cowboy family has to deep fry their turkey. We’re lucky to beat the chaos and change out of our sweats for dinner.

I’d just been waiting to add to it with my own tribe.

But here I am. 30. This year’s Thanksgiving brought a whole new set of friends here in this vineyard town without any of my family present. At this Thanksgiving, there was a beautifully decorated, shimmering Thanksgiving table that no real child could have ever been sat at. Deep fried turkey was replaced with an expertly basted, roasted to perfection bird accompanied by side dishes such as brussel sprouts au gratin. {My nephews not only won’t touch brussel sprouts, they will tell you where you can put those brussel sprouts. We thank my brother in law for that.}

This year’s Thanksgiving, we drank bottles of good wine. None of us would have dreamed of wearing our sweats.

It’s not what I expected. I couldn’t have imagined it any other way.

Two truths.

I did get my little taste of things being out of control. These friends and their family I was eating with have been sharing Thanksgiving together for years. They were so gracious and welcoming to me, and I loved being part of their own inner circle. This is an inner circle ruled by a beautiful, stately matriarch. A great grandmother. She had a stroke 12 years ago and requires lots of extra TLC, but oh, how her family honors her. She is truly lovely and although largely non verbal now, she truly loved her holiday company.

Her daughter was our host, and as we were all seated, she (the daughter) started to read a quote about honoring ourselves and the gift God has placed deep within us. It was a truly amazing quote. I think.

It was at that moment the Queen Bee decided to start singing, loudly {at the top of her voice loudly} “DEE BO DEE DAH BO DO DO DO …”.

We’re still not quite sure why, but then she grinned from ear to ear and said, “All right, all right, all right.”

Daughter took a second stab at it and was interrupted again with, “DEE BO DEE DAH DO DO DO. All right, all right, all right.”

She never did get the quote out, and the next time Queen Bee started singing, we all joined in with her. Loudly. At the top of our voices.

So for right now, at this stage in my life, I’ll take the fancy, adult dinners in which we don’t dare go without at least a couple of bottles of white and red. Just as long as it’s accompanied by this total love. And raucous laughter.

... of things to come.

We're in the new apartment.

It's a mess.

We have too many things!

This evening we were getting ready to go buy groceries
to make a meal for a family that needed a little nudge of help.
I got my coat on.
Got my keys.
And my roommate, Tiffany, was still sitting at the dining room table
pressing on her stomach.
Tiffany is expecting in February.
"She kicked," Tiffany said.
"I want to see if she'll kick again before we leave."

We waited.
No kicking.

Tiffany picked up a hammer that was on the table
and said,
"The end of this hammer is about the same size
of the thingie they do the ultrasound with,
and when they move that on my stomach,
she goes nuts."

So she gently pressed her big fat belly
with the end of that hammer,
and while we dissolved into giggles,
Madelyn got spunky and kicked back.

Tiffany's in for it.
... into real life could be better. Really.

I've heard it before, but coming back from Hawaii is hard. Truly. Normally by the end of vacation, I'm ready to get back and get things organized.

O, but how I'm not here in mind or spirit.

Re-entry's probably a little bit more difficult because I moved apartments immediately after coming back ... and still had my job to deal with.

But I don't want to think about it.

So I'll share some beach pictures with you.

Hanaumo (sp?) Bay

me conquering snorkeling.

{i didn't really conquer snorkeling.
it was scary.
i swam away from the fish when they got too close.
it made my sister laugh.
then she snorted salt water into her breathing tube.}

but i did not see sharks.

my sister.
and me.

some beautiful, random beach i was i was still at.

big sigh.

good vacation.

back to unpacking ...

Even in Oahu, I'm still being told I need to relax.

By the surfing instructor!

Cheryl {mi hermana} and I took a 3 hour surf lesson on the North Shore yesterday. A splurge, indeed. But so very worth it.

Hard work, this surfing business. Paddling against the waves, sharing our space with sea turtles (no sharks, thank goodness!). My arms feel a little jelly like today. My left foot caught the brunt of the reef (the hike we were planning is going to have to wait a few days!).

And it was amazing.

And now, of course, I can say that I HAVE been surfing {technically} on the North Shore! {Um, "technically". It will be our little secret that we surfed in this adorable little bay with adorable little waves.}

These are all the pictures I have of our surfing experience. We were both in the water, with nobody left on shore to take more. But I do have a few more random ones to share ...

Bubba Gump Shrimp.

I have no idea what this beach is called.

Waimea Bay.

Warm water.

We had so much planned for this trip, but with all the running around and excitement ... we're beginning to lose steam! ;) Hopefully we'll still get to the snorkeling, the temple and the hike to Waimea Falls, but we'll have to see.

Today we have plan to give Cheryl some time to get caught up on some homework and then, this afternoon, head to the North Shore to a coffee shop I'm told is well worth my time. ;)

So I'm IN Oahu.

But definitely NOT on Oahu time. It is just beginning to get light outside and I've been awake forever. Literally. Forever.

I have a story for you. This story begins, "I'm fine. Everbody's fine. Nobody got hurt."

I'm in Little Pacific NW Town, on the plane. We're waiting to take off. In fact, the doors to the plane aren't shut yet, but most everybody has found their seats. I'm in the back with a group of very chatty, social people. {You work with juvenile delinquints? I work with juvenile delinquints!"}

But in a flurry of activity, the 2 flight attendants rush to front and back of the plane, slam the doors shut and lock them. I look to my left and see a Very Big Man being wrestled to the ground and handcuffed by TSA, City PD and the County Sheriff's Office. They've surrounded him and there's a shotgun pointed at him.

Our flight was delayed.

After they had escorted him away, the pilot got on the loudspeaker and informed us that the Very Big Man had escaped from a locked mental health facility, broken through the glass airport windows and was making a mad dash for the plane.

Other than that, it was an uneventful trip. ;)

Cheryl and I are making good use of our time. Today is starting out to be a beautiful day ... so it might be surf lesson day ...