A little peace and quiet, please!

Sometimes you just gotta get away.

We were in Orlando a few days ago for spring break, the destination determined by our son’s tennis team. We deliberately elected not to visit the crowd-magnet attractions such as Disney World, Sea World or Universal Studios. And yet, we could not escape the crowds. Of course I didn’t expect to have the place to myself, but there were times I found myself about ready to run screaming to try and get away from all the people. They were everywhere. The beach was crazy. The parking was challenging. And. The. Traffic. The nearly stand-still lanes of cars creeping along the highways between Clearwater and Orlando made for a stressful and tedious drive.

But finally, on the next-to-last day of our trip, it happened. We got away. We found ourselves on roads with few other cars in sight. Call me crotchety, but I just don’t enjoy listening to screaming children, being run into, being coughed on or having my freshly-pedicured toes stepped on. Crazy, right?

P1080353The answer? Nature. I said before we left that I’d like to see some alligators from a safe distance, and preferably from our car. And we did!

We discovered that outside of Orlando, near the Kennedy Space Center area, are some awesome nature sanctuaries. We spent several hours meandering by car along gravel roads through scenic marshy areas that were full of wildlife – gators, turtles, hundreds of birds, butterflies, and the occasional wild pig.

Several times, we stopped along the road and simply took in the scenery around us. We gaped at the alligators and watched flocks of birds skim across the waters and lift into the sky. We saw interesting foliage and grasses. We took our time – and lots of pictures. It was quiet. Peaceful. Refreshing.

And for this introvert, much fun. 🙂

Do you have a favorite get-away?

Another anniversary. Another gift-giving dilemma!

IMG_3248Thirty five years is a long time. At least it’s a long time to buy someone gifts. My husband and I are celebrating our 35th anniversary today, and I’ve been running around trying to find something meaningful, functional, interesting, desirable (I’d settle for one of those qualities!) as a gift suitable for the occasion.

The fact is, I’m gifted-out. The creative juices in that department have dried up. And he’s pretty short on offering up ideas. He doesn’t need anything. Doesn’t want anything. In fact, he’s all for clearing out cupboards and closets and throwing things away! All of my cool ideas seem to relate to his business, so nix those. They’re business expenses. Tax write-offs. But . . . but . . . it’s our anniversary. Shouldn’t I do something to mark the occasion? I mean, I get flowers, probably a nice piece of jewelry and maybe a little chocolate, too! I’m easy!!! Those things work. Every. Time.

I remember when we used to celebrate, or at least remember, the anniversary of our first date. Of our engagement. Hahaha! Really? These days I’m more than happy to let those things petrify in the past.

Sure, anniversaries are special. And they only come once a year. But, hey, so do birthdays and Christmas and other holidays. Valentine’s Day!?! Are you kidding me? I just bought you a Christmas gift! And once we had kids? Oh, great, throw Father’s Day in there, too. Every year.

Don’t get me wrong. I actually like giving gifts. I usually enjoy the process of finding the perfect present. I like the creative task of wrapping the packages. But the rapid succession of birthday, Christmas, Valentine’s Day and anniversary has really taken its toll this year. Today is also our daughter’s birthday, so there’s that. Spring break is next week, so there’s that. Not to mention a few books to write!

People say give experiences instead of gifts. Sure, we’re going out for a nice dinner. We’ll have wine and dessert. On our 25th, we took a trip to Hawaii. But those dream vacations are expensive. They require time off from work, a ton of coordination, details, decisions, etc. Maybe next year.

For now, I’ll just have to hope that the “it’s the thought that counts” sentiment still holds true! I tried! 🙂

Do you have any go-to gifts that always hit the mark?

Happy Heart Day!

Happy Val

Hello, everyone! Hope you all are feeling the love today from significant others, fans, friends and family! Many thanks to all the readers who’ve shown my books a little love! Right back at you!

Today, the hubs and I are going out for a nice lunch and skipping the restaurant crowds tonight. Coming up on our 35th anniversary, we’ve kind of been there, done that! 🙂

There will most likely be chocolate and wine this evening.

However you celebrate the day – or not – enjoy!

Darlene

Here’s to Heartwarming Holidays!

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Hey, friends!

It’s that time of year –– time for some jolly holiday fun!

Join me and several other awesome authors, in the Heartwarming Holiday Blog Hop! It’s your opportunity to meet new authors and a chance to win a Kindle Fire 7 with Alexa!

Here’s how it works:

Visit each author blog in the hop and look for their “Heartwarming Holidays” blog post. 
Look for the title that includes the words “heartwarming” and “holidays.”
Visiting each blog in this hop is mandatory in order to be eligible for the grand prize, so be sure to comment on all “heartwarming holidays” posts from each of the following blogs between December 4 – 9, 2017:
Nicole Morgan, Suzanne Jenkins, Holly Cortelyou, Darlene Deluca, Casi McLean, Sensuous Promos, and  The Book Pub.

Speaking of heartwarming, it’s one of the words that always comes to mind when I describe my novel Unexpected Legacy.

Unexpected_Legacy_Cover

You might fall in love with hero Matt Dalton who’s just found out he has a 16-year-old son. You might relate to the leading lady, an up-and-coming high school principal who champions her students. And you’ll definitely cheer on Brady, the teenager who’s dealing with the traumatic effects of an accident and the loss of his best friend.

It’s a heartwarming story of bravery, resilience, and, of course, love! One that will leave you with a satisfied smile! Perfect for cozy holiday reading!

 

Wishing you the happiest of holidays and best of luck!

Darlene

 

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Fall . . . season of love or loss?

Well, it’s that time of year. So far this week, I’ve: 1. Worn socks. 2. Turned on my electric blanket. 3. Turned the heat on in my house. Sigh.

Yes, it’s pretty out. Sort of. We’re seeing yellow, orange and red in some of the trees. But it’s messy, too. The patio is littered with leaves, as is the yard. Leaves are caught in the bushes, ground cover and patio furniture. We have a lot of trees, and I can’t keep up. (Not to mention the oak mites.)

A few flowers are valiantly trying to hang in there, but you can tell the jig is up. It’s that time of year. The mornings are chilly. The days are shorter. Those pretty falling leaves are just a prelude of what’s to come.

And that’s my whole issue with fall.

For many, fall is a favorite season. You like the milder temps. You’re ready to wrap up in scarves and sweaters. For me, fall is a loss. A warning. It’s the mourning of long, warm summer days. Yep, end of October, and I’m still mourning summer. It’s my season. Flip flops! No coats, jackets, scarves, gloves and other baggage to haul around and keep track of. No warming up the car. No raking or scraping or shoveling!IMG_2451

So, facing the inevitable, I pulled a few waning plants out of sad-looking pots and put some pumpkins on the porch. Ah, pumpkins! Now there’s a bright spot in fall. I have to say, I’m happy to be done with the days of finding the perfect pumpkin patch and making costumes and trick-or-treating. But I do like the pumpkins even if they’re just bought at the neighborhood grocery store. This weekend, we’ll hollow them out and roast the seeds. And for a day or two, I’ll enjoy the fruits of fall. 🙂

What do you enjoy about fall?

Last Gasp of Summer

I know some of you are fawning over the onset of fall. You delight in cooler temperatures, sweaters and pumpkin spice. I get it. Fall is generally pretty nice. But I lament for summer. I love the warm, sunny days. I enjoy sipping iced tea by the pool or in the shade and being WARM. Yes, fall can be warmish, but it’s the prelude to cold – the calm before the storm. Ugh. Winter. I truly hate winter.

So, with that in mind, I’m enjoying the last gasp of summer! I’m trying to ignore the subtle color in my dogwood trees and focus on the final rose buds and blooms. Only a few days ago I was in Colorado and came across this gorgeous field of wild flowers. Even as a few aspen were beginning to turn yellow, these cheery flowers were standing tall, keeping up the appearance of a bright summer season. It makes me smile just to look at the photos. Hope they cheer you, too! 🙂

What season brings you the most joy?

 

Chasing the Sun

Eclipse day dawned gray and rainy. En route to our viewing destination in rural Missouri, my sister and I drove through thick, overcast skies and rain – our spirits dampening with each mile and minute that passed without a glimpse of the sun.

Over the next few hours, the rain came and went and came again. Clouds dispersed and then reformed. And we waited. We worried and we wondered. What were the odds of getting clear skies at the right moment?

P1080033Our watch party was at a vineyard that offered wine tasting and a barbecue lunch – nice ambiance and additions to the eclipse event itself. The wine and the barbecue were excellent. The view, not so much.

With less than an hour to go before totality, the clouds were thinning, but we faced a decision. Take our chances and stay or hit the road again and chase the sun? From our deck-top table, the umbrella soaked with rain, we pondered our options. In the distance we could see a spot of clear blue sky. But exactly how far was it? And would it stay clear? Would the clouds get there before we could?

We decided we couldn’t sit and wait. So we chugged the remainder of our wine, and set out to chase the sun! A good choice!! We made it to clear skies, and stopped along the road beside a corn field. Had the place all to ourselves.

It was awesome! We saw the entire movement from start to finish. Totality was very cool. It didn’t go night-time dark, but it cooled a little, and was something like dusk. To me, it actually felt like the calm before a tornado.

Didn’t get many good pictures with my basic camera, but I made sure to look at totality without the camera so that I have a good mental image of it. So glad I did this. Already looking forward to the next one! Planning to be in Dallas on April 8, 2024! 🙂

Did you get a chance to see the eclipse?