The day I whispered “Really?”

Nothing in life can prepare you for a giant, purple Teletubby.

So ‘tis the Turkey Season and guess what?  Thanksgiving is almost here!  In a mere few hours, I will be the proud owner of a turkey-stuffed belly while listening to some of my nieces and nephews probably screaming their little faces off while they play hockey with Uncle Pilot.

I know the last few posts have been a bit doom and gloom.  But hey, it’s stormy, pitch black and rainy outside, ‘natch as the Seattle November is, and it was doomy-gloomy-mood-inducing weather.

But not today, Precious Readers!  Today is upbeat, happy and exciting!

Picture it: A November 2009 Friday evening.  Pilot and I are at home in discussion to figure out how to spend our weekend.

Channeling my inner Sophia Petrillo… Golden Girls?  Anyone…?  Anyone…?

Me: Grocery shopping?

Pilot: Did it earlier in the week.

Me: Friends?

Pilot: [So-and-So] are busy, [What’s His/Her Face] are out of town, and so on.

Me: Hmm…  How about we go out of town?

Pilot: <perks up.> What did you have in mind?

Me: Want to go visit some old haunts?

Pilot: Sounds interesting

Me: Why not go over to Ellensburg? Visit the ol’ alma mater

Pilot: Let’s do this!

We agree to spend the day in Ellensburg, WA visiting Central Washington University. We’ll visit old hangouts and eat at some of our favorite places from our college days.

Did you know: the nice thing about Eastern Washington is, once you’re over Snoqualmie Pass, you’re really in more of a desert climate. The air is dry with 360 days of sunshine a year.

Don’t get me wrong, it can get freeze-your-ass-off cold there, but it’s always clear skies and sunny.

The next day, we hop into Grease Lightning (my white Jeep), we drive over to the other side of the state to reminisce about our past.  We arrive and grab some D&M Coffee.  Precious Readers, when-

I’m not accepting any “if’s” here.  I’m expecting you to go someday.  There is no chance for defense here.  I am instructing you to go.  (Just beware the rodeo and around CWU graduation-it’s a zoo during those times!)  As I was saying…

-when you go to Ellensburg, be sure to grab some D&M Coffee.  It is, by far, the best coffee I’ve ever had in my entire life.  And that’s a die-hard Seattleite talking to you.  Pilot recommends the Snickers Latte, while I tend to prefer the Milky Way Latte.

Pilot made the perfect suggestion of walking around the downtown portion.  Hand in hand, we wandered up and down the various blocks of privately owned retail space.  Excited for the new stores that popped up since I had graduated high school seven years prior, happy at the places that still existed which held special memories for us, and saddened by the businesses that closed down.

It’s amazing how many memories come flooding back from small instances, like a tree root that grew through the sidewalk that you trip over each time you walk on a certain block.  The house that’s covered in bike reflectors in a decorative way.

You should check it out; they have a “postcard” machine that allows you to take an image of the home with you.  It’s like a kid’s candy dispenser.  It’s awe-inspiring and hilarious at the same time.

We got back in the car and decided to drive to one of our most prized places of the city: the water tower.

The water tower stands tall, crowning the top of an enormous hill/cliff that overlooks everything in the city.  From the west you can see downtown Ellensburg, due north is CWU, east is residential area and directly at the base of the hill/cliff is the Ellensburg Rodeo arena.

Ellensburg basically lives in the base of a mountainous bowl.  No matter which direction you face, the mountains are in the distance, perfectly encasing the countryside in a circle.  We spent many an evening enjoying events at the rodeo for free from that spot, usually with a car-picnic of KFC.

Pilot and I parked on the hill/cliff and wandered to the edge of the hill, overlooking the city where we first met.  As we maneuver counter-clockwise around the top of the hill/cliff, Pilot stops to tie his sneakers.  I roll my eyes and sigh while moving on to look at the mountains in the distance.  Sneakers and Pilot are a longtime bane of my existence.

Precious Readers, to know me is to understand that I am a one of those Seattleites who wears flip-flops practically year-round.  My sandals are basically retired for 1.5 months, January through mid-February, only because those are the months they aren’t entirely functional.

Flip-flops rarely work on ice.

If it were up to me, our world would be covered in some kind of springy rubber or compact dirt and I would walk barefoot 24-hours a day.  I love being barefoot, especially on the (clean) beach.  The only time I wear close-toed shoes (and only if I’m in a meeting with external clients), is at work. Since I mostly handle data entry and internal-tools creation, I’m at my desk for most of the day, so I wear sandals to be comfortable.

I love working on the West Coast.

Pilot on the other hand, can’t stand feet in any way, shape, form or capacity.  I suspect Pilot inherited the gross-out reaction to feet from his father.  Actually, to this day, I don’t believe I have ever seen The Silver Fox (my father-in-law) without shoes or some other type of footwear.  And he always wears socks.

By the way, I didn’t even come up with that nickname on my own.  My father-in-law is called The Silver Fox at work.  No joke.

Anyway, Pilot has this habit of double-knotting his shoelaces, which repeatedly fail at keeping themselves knotted.

So needless to say, having Pilot take a few moments to tend to his shoes was a regular occurrence with us while we go through our typical song-and-dance:

Pilot: Go on ahead; I’ve got to tie my shoes.

Me: <rolls eyes.> Why not just get slip on shoes or loafers?

Pilot: Because those are better for short trips or driving, not for walking around.

Me: Why not get different shoelaces made of a better material that doesn’t come undone so often?

Pilot: <waves at me> Go on ahead. I’ll be right there.

Me: You could always wear flip flops like I do.

Pilot: <thins lips into a frown.> You know I think feet are gross.

Me: <puts hands on hips.> Then why did you marry someone who would rather live life barefoot?

Pilot: <points to my feet.> Because you have cute toes. Look at them! They’re purple, or often blue, or some other random color.  Doesn’t mean I like my own feet.  Or others.

Me: That doesn’t make sense. How can you think my toes are cute but hate feet?

Pilot: <smirks.> Don’t judge me.

Me: How can you hate feet?  That’s completely irrational.

Pilot: <waves at me again.> Go on ahead I’ll be right there.

Me: Whatever. <Continues on journey.>

Pilot: <bends to tend to his loosening sneakers.>

But back to our story…

Pilot and I are overlooking the city where we first met. Pilot stops to tie his sneakers.  I rolled my eyes and sighed while moving on to look at the mountains in the distance.

Pilot: Go on ahead; I’ve got to tie my shoes.

Me: <rolls eyes.> You could always wear flip flops like I do.

Pilot: <stoops to tie his sneaker.> Go on ahead. I’ll be right there.

Not wanting to go into bickering mode because I am way too fulfilled by nostalgia overload, I sigh, turning around to let him be, while I wander to the western side of the hill/cliff and look at Downtown Ellensburg.

Pilot: Katie…

I turn around and look a back at him.  Pilot is on the ground.  Does he see some kind of gardener snake or something?  Oh dear god, please don’t let him have found a snake.  Chances are it’ll be one of those rare occurrences we find an animal and it bites us.

I squint and realize he’s kneeling on the ground with a gray box in his hand.  His eyes wide and shiny as he gazes softly at me, looking slightly nervous as he opens the box.

I think to myself: He found a box?  Where the heck did that come fro-…?

<ding.> Lighbulb illuminates over my head.

My eyes nearly bug out of my head.

There’s a ring in that box.

Channeling Katie MacAlister’s novels, “I goggled at him.  There’s really no other way to put it.  I just goggled.”

Barely able to find my voice-

For those who have yet to figure out: It is damn-near impossible to render me completely and utterly speechless.

-I barely squeak out a small, hushed voice:

Me: …really?

Pilot: <gently nods.>

I run over and throw my arms around his neck and we kiss.

Pilot: <winks.>  Finally!  I was wondering when you would ever suggest a trip to Eburg.

Me: <pauses.>  What?

Pilot: You’re no fun to surprise. You always guess what’s going on.  I had to make it seem like your idea.

Me: <frowning.>  How long have you had that ring?

Pilot: A while.

Me: Explain ‘a while’.

Pilot: About a month. <pauses.>

Me: <narrows eyebrows.>

Pilot: What’s wrong?

Me: What would have happened if I hadn’t suggested this trip?

Pilot: I would have had to figure something else out.

Me: Let me get this straight. We could’ve been engaged for a month already?!

Pilot:  I love you.  <kisses my nose.>

Me: <scowling.> I hate you so much right now.

The world truly can stop.  It’s amazing.  There are moments in life when it can seem like its operating in slow motion.  A basketball hanging in the air before it swishes, the pause before someone kisses you, a moment of quiet during a life-changing moment.  Like this one.

After the world resumed its rotation on its axis and around the sun, I peer down at the ring in the box.  I can only stare at it and nothing else.

It is not an engagement ring.  It looks like a wedding band.

Confused, I ask Pilot what’s going on with the jewelry.

Pilot: It’s a “presentation ring.”

Me: What’s a presentation ring?

Pilot: It’s the ring you present that you’ll use during your wedding.

Me: I’ve never heard of such a thing.

Pilot: Oh, it’s a real thing.

Me: That doesn’t sound right.

Pilot: <stares at the ring for exactly 4 seconds.> Crap.

Me: What’s wrong?

Pilot: I knew that guy at the jewelry shop was full of it.

Me: <laughing.> It’s ok.  We’ll figure something out.

Pilot: When do you want to go exchange it?

Me: <look of contrition on face.> We don’t have to exchange it, it’s just… what would I wear then?

Pilot assures me it’s OK to go back and get an actual engagement ring.  We laugh recognizing we of like mind (as always), and are too excited to wait.  Since we had already toured the city for the most part, both us were determined to get the ring exchanged the same day.

Not moments after making this decision, we look to the east on the hill/cliff.  Something else has caught our eye.

There it stood.  A six foot four, life-size, purple Teletubby.

Now, if you’ve never heard of Teletubbies, they are lowest of the low of children’s entertainment.  I don’t understand any parent who subjects their kids to watch these inarticulate alien species hell bent on living under a baby sun god, who will likely grow up to be a serial killer as a result of his/her parents agreeing to let said baby work on the show.  That psychedelic acid trip of a children’s program hosts one of the strangest main characters I’ve ever seen.

And they frighten the shit out of me.

There was a small group of three college students.  Some guy wearing a purple Teletubby costume, complete with mascot-sized, purple Teletubby head, another guy holding some sort of fancy sound equipment and a third with a video camera.

I slowly look back at Pilot.

Me: Either they’re working on some sort of weird art project, or that guy lost a bet.

Thus ending the story of the day Pilot and I got engaged.

For those girls out there wondering what we picked, it’s a white gold, low-profile setting-

Do I really want the ring snagging all my clothes or taking out chunks of my hair? I don’t think so.

-with a band that looks like its split lengthwise.  Pilot and I were both born in September, so we have the same birthstone.  The gemstone is an oval, horizontally oriented, pale blue sapphire (almost looks light purple) and small diamonds on either side of the sapphire.

Looking at it, it kind of looks like a blue-eyed eyeball, (but in a really gorgeous, feminine and delicate manner).

It was unique, special.  The same as our engagement experience.

Pilot: <raises eyebrows.> We really can’t have anything be normal, can we?

Me: Apparently not.

Pilot: <closes eyes.> If anyone doubts that God has a sense of humor, wait’ll they hear this one.

Me: <kisses Pilot’s frown away.> Well, at least we’ll never forget it.

By the way, we both still think a ’presentation ring’ is bullshit.  Guys we’re talking to you.  Don’t get sold by a salesman. GET AN ENGAGEMENT RING.  Shiny, not shiny, bedecked with jewels, or simple tastes, new or antique-GET AN ENGAGEMENT RING.  You will avoid confusion with your partner.

In the end, Pilot really did pick the perfect ring.  It was perfect, I suspect (perhaps subconsciously?) Pilot knows I love to experience everything with him.  That I would want to share that moment of finding it.

We selected the soon-to-be-permanent-fixture-to-my-hand the same way we do everything else in our relationship.


So, Precious Readers, there you have it.  I hope you enjoyed the story of the day Pilot and I became engaged.  Nothing beats a story of a buddy-comedy/romance/road trip adventure/Freakishly huge, purple Teletubby.  Am I right?

If you visit (AND LIKE!) my Facebook Author Page, you can see a posted picture of it there.

What was a tender, milestone-life-moment of yours that was randomly interrupted by a moment of someone else’s insanity?  Or were you the unexpected surprise in someone’s “moment”?  Would love to hear from you!  Leave a comment or share a story!

Hope you have a Happy Thanksgiving!

<gobble, gobble.>

will someone, again, explain to me why it’s good to be a princess?

Let’s address the Rumpelstiltskin in the room.

Nostalgia creeps up on me. I recall the early days of Disney and reading fairy tales, searching to find meaning and the ‘lesson’ to learn, as I’m thrown into the shadows of a new world and exposed to some grand adventure.

Whether it be Cinderella, that good things happen to those who are truly kind, patient and work hard, Beauty and The Beast which focuses on who a person is versus what they look like and self-forgiveness, Sleeping Beauty, where if you get enough beauty sleep a handsome dude will come whisk you off to eternal bliss on his enormous white stallion…

Oh wait, I forgot. Sleeping Beauty doesn’t really have a point. Never mind that one. 


By the way, giant white stallion… No symbolism there at all, eh BMW drivers?


Second “By the way”: What’s up with writers constantly putting women into comas? Is this to cover a dreaded plot hole to state the “fact” that women have had so many head injuries, I figure at least if I fall under the duress of another concussion I can say they’ve accomplished something in my life by saying I got married and have a good-looking dude who will catch me while they continually fall unconscious?

Sorry sweetie. Apparently I don’t just have a headache, I feel a coma coming on.

It seems like we’ve seen it all in decades past, where we’re shown several tales of the ‘damsel in distress’ and the dazzling hero come to save her, to modern day stories such as Twilight where there’s a mousy girl who is in love with a sparkly anti-hero and wants to drink her blood. (And I am a Twilight fan. Sorry Twi-hards, but even though I’m a fan of the series, we have to admit this is true.)

Generations before me and my generation grew up with the Daphne’s of Scooby Doo, the girl who was notorious for being captured by the monster. Daphne being the one you want to root for and emulate. While Velma, the girl who always figured out how to capture and defeat the monster, was the homely, ambiguous, sort-of girl with butch voice who could never get a date.

At least in some fashion, today’s world is much more embracing of a real HERO-ine, (though I do believe entertainment has a looooong way to go on supporting feminist views, again I am mentioning Twilight here).  I’m mostly refreshed to see the women who fight for what they want. They’re not just lazily sitting in towers, twiddling their thumbs, singing about their dream men.

By the way, what is it with assuming that all princesses are musically talented? I appreciate the Shrek films addressing this issue with not having Fiona be particularly gifted in this, instead being well trained in hand-to-hand combat.

One of my all-time favorite tales has Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass.  To me they have always been a tale about survival. That no matter what obstacles are put in front of you, resourcefullness and knowing when to ask for help can help you through even the worst of times. Alice’s tales to me were more focused on the concept of believing in impossible things.

Or, my personal sub-theory: A somewhat-rational person is dropped into a land which is chock full of crazy.

The author made Alice a warrior and free-thinker. She also made mistakes, wasn’t afraid to express her emotion, face consequences and continued with grit and determination to fight for what she believed in, even if her beliefs changed.  Isn’t that really how life is anyway?

Today’s DWC is a loose blend of these two concepts, survival and being thrown into a world of unknowns, danger and impossibilities, the foundation being Alice’s tale. I think I’ll store this idea in my pocket for a rainy day.

Which let’s face it: in Seattle is pretty much every day from October through June.

So tell me readers: What do you think about fairy tales? Which heroines you favorites, or which do you despise?  Do you prefer the classic “damsel in distress” or the kick-ass fighters and do-ers?

Opinions? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?

Daily Writing Challenge

Day 16: Your character is going on a trip. Where to? Who with, if anyone? Why are they going on a trip? Write a scene of them either getting ready or departing on their journey.

Looking out the window at JFK airport, a woman settled into the uncomfortable plastic seat at the airport, listening to other prospective passengers mill around chatting and shopping at duty-free stores.  As she turned on her laptop, a man in a nice business suit collapsed in the seat down next to her.

Letting out a large whoosh of air, he turned to her. “Phew! I never thought I’d get here in time! This is the 105 flight to Sea-Tac, right?”

She gave the man a polite smile.

“Yup. You’re in the right place,” she replied turned her head back to the monitor.

“Great!” He rubbed his hands together and sat down in the seat next to her, leaning back into the chair.  “So, is this your first time going to Seattle?” he asked. Just give a quick answer and go back to work.

Barely turning her head slightly to glance at the expectant face.  “Nope, I’m going home.”

“Ah, I see. I’m from Seattle too” he nodded.  She gave a noncommittal response and turned back to her laptop. Exactly two seconds passed.

“So which part of Seattle? Actual Seattle or another area nearby?”

Warning bells started going off in her head.  “Around.” Stay calm. Just leave quietly and find another chair.

“I’m Jared,” he said giving her a slight wave.  He leaned in slightly, “What might your name be?”


She excused herself saying she needed to make a personal call, gathering her things and began to walk away.  She felt the gentle grasp to her hand suddenly become an iron grip.  She gave a cold stare to the hand on her hand, slowly saying in a low voice to the Jared’s face which was no longer smiling, “Let go of me now, or I’ll scream so loud they’ll lock you away, giving you a cavity search in places you didn’t even dream were possible.”

Jared bowed his head low and whispered to her in a serious tone. “Rachel Iverson, real name Alice Wendell?”

A chill ran down her body as she heard her real name used for the first time in six years.


No, not again!

NOT AGAIN! She screamed in her mind.

“My name is Jared White. I’m a U.S. Marshall for the Witness Protection program. I’ve been assigned to protect you during your travel from New York to Seattle. Now it’s very important you listen carefully and not make any sudden moves, as it’s possible we’re being watched.”

Her eyes were round as saucers as she watched the man flash his badge. Recognizing the same seal, the same colors from the last time her life was shattered into a million pieces, and she knew the words to come next.  He’s found me¸ she thought.

“Quentin Carmine has escaped from prison and we have reason to believe that he has figured out your identity. I’m here to make sure we get you get safely into hiding. Please come with me while we escort you to the precinct.”

Her heart stopped. Her lips suddenly dry she couldn’t move. Fear had taken over and completely shut down her ability to think or respond.

“He found me,” she whispered.  Her heart stopped as the statement echoed in her mind.

She barely heard Agent White’s voice, it sounding as if coming from far away. “I’m sorry. I know this is a lot to take in right now, but we have no time. We-“

“What happened to Agent Mallory?” Alice asked quietly.  Pain laced Agent White’s eyes for a moment, then he steeled his face back to a neutral expression.

“I’m afraid Agent Mallory was killed this morning.  I’m sorry.”

“We have a safehouse called The Rabbit Hole, and need for you to come to the precinct before getting you to a safe house. Now, pretend I’ve just arrived to greet you. We’ll turn around and be on our way. I have a team of unmarked vehicles ready to escort you. Please nod if you understand.”

She slowly nodded.  She remembered The Rabbit Hole. That’s where she was forced to stay until Quentin was incarcerated.

The only thing that could go through her mind now was a phrase repeating itself over and over.  I’m dead. He found me. I’m dead.

Jared paused to hold her hands safely in his.

“Look at me.”

She tilted her gaze into his dark brown eyes which were serious and warm with concern. “We have time. I won’t let him find you. But we have to go now.  Just stay calm, walk slowly and we’ll be out of here in under three minutes, I promise.”  She nodded again as he grabbed her two tiny carry-on suitcases.

Alice shouldn’t have let her guard down.  The first two years were tough, always looking around her shoulder, checking in with her protection officer. Sometime during the third year, she felt safe. Well, that wasn’t really true, but she tried to start her life again.

After six years of peace, she was at ground zero all over again.

if I could turn back time

Nostalgia is the name of the game today. Yeah, it caught me off guard, too.

Amara is the first baby to be born on my side of the family.  Last Tuesday, my cousin gave birth to a healthy, gorgeous, snuggly and lovable little girl. (Perhaps one could say I’m biased, but I don’t think so.) Watching my cousin, we’ll call her Red, go through the wonder of pregnancy and incredulous concept of childbirth has been amazing.  I couldn’t be more proud of Red. I’m in sheer awe and so full of joy I could burst from my desk chair right now.  Being the second-youngest of all my cousins, it’s strange to recognize we’re all adults now.  Amara’s birth sort of cinched that concept to me. We have reached the end of a generation in our family, and a new one has begun.

You’re probably wondering why I’m saying, “cousins” instead of siblings. That’s because I have none.  I’ve always wanted a younger sibling, to protect, teach, (and of course) bug the living daylights out of.  It wasn’t in the cards for me and my parents.  I’m adopted, myself. During the adoption process for a baby brother, my father was diagnosed with an inherited heart defect and diseases, negating their ability to adopt anymore children.  Now that I am an adult, married and receiving the daily interrogation from my mother, demanding why I have yet to give her a grandchild, it brings new perspective on how difficult that whole process must have been for my parents.

As a woman, I try to imagine being part of a young, happy couple ready to take on the world, (not too difficult to imagine anymore), and being told that becoming pregnant could endanger my life.  Not only was starting a family one of the dreams my parents had for themselves, but to be told that this particular dream could kill one of them? Coming to terms with that… Making the decision to spend what little money they had to adopt instead?  Wow.  In case you didn’t know, adoption is a long, arduous process with unending interviews, red tape, home visits.  And it’s a hell of a lot better than it used to be.  Basically every step’s purpose is to tell you EXACTLY what you’re doing wrong and need to fix, otherwise some stranger will deem you’re unfit as a parent.

For the mothers out there, I’m not trying to compare childbirth to adoption. Childbirth is an experience that nothing can compare to the torturous pains of contractions. The point of all this, is the idea that life is so much chance and opportunity.  Sure, you can have all the talent and skill in the world, but if you’re hit by a bus the next day, where does that get you?

I think of my parents sitting across a desk from a stranger, being told that because of a medical condition, they’re not allowed to have any more children. Again. First because of my mother’s health, the second time, my father’s.  It took my parents several years of patience and waiting before winning the jackpot with Pilot. Pilot is part of an enormous family. He has an older sister, 10 years difference, and an older brother, 12 years difference, both married with three children, each. Our parents meshed well, even finding out my father’s family and Pilot’s mother’s family come from the same small village in Germany.  (Pilot’s eyes became round as sauces as he turned to look at me during this conversation of family enlightenment, to which I quickly dissolved his fear saying, “It’s ok, honey. I’m adopted. Even if we were technically related, it’s not by blood.”)

My mother and Pilot get on well together, and l believe she’s come to accept him as her own son. The son she never had.  You’ll notice I don’t mention my father here. He passed away a little more than a few years ago from his heart defect, but he lived to age 60. I think of all those years, another little boy could have had my dad as a father. Whoever was at that agency made a huge mistake. I can recall countless fishing trips on Lake Washington (including the time we ran out of gas, but that’s another story), learning how to change my first tire (yes, girls don’t have to be helpless when it comes to the dreaded automobile), tasting delicious smoked salmon he’d just brought in. These are experiences I wish I could have shared with an “automatic” buddy. My never-was-brother.

Don’t worry, it’s not all doom and gloom.  Pilot and I have been together for 10 years now. We were lucky he and my dad had their own healthy relationship, along with mutual respect before my dad passed on. I will always be grateful for that. The older generation is moving on, I’m (hopefully slowly) merging into the older generation, and a new generation is blooming.

So, now what?  Holding baby Amara this weekend, and definitely not getting enough snuggles and forehead-kisses in, I think about her having two amazing older step siblings.  I wanted to be able to learn more about this deep connection. These Daily Writing Challenges (DWC’s) sparked the idea of a siblings-focused story.

Of course, they’ll both be romances, but the heart of each book is about these two sisters’ relationship.  Here’s a bit that I might be incorporating into the stories later on.

Daily Writing Challenge

Day 5: Your character is getting ready in the morning. Write a scene of their morning (or even mid day) routine.

Feeling the warmth of sunshine touching my cheek, another cheerful Saturday greets me as I slowly open my eyes. Taking a moment to let them adjust from the bright white that first appears, right before everything warps back into focus. The sound of my clock radio is tuned to a station that plays classics. Ah, Summer Breeze. Yeah, it definitely makes me feel fine. Pushing back the covers, setting my feet down, I feel worn, familiar yarn under my feet.  It’s a rug my sister made for me as a Christmas present. A hook-and-latch kit with Snoopy on it.  (Did I mention my sister was 10 at the time?)  I glance at the clock. Eight fifteen. I have to meet Margaret at the Suds & Duds to help open by nine.

Filtering sunlight into the room, I gently nudge the sheer Tiffany blue curtains apart and peer out. A sigh escapes my lips as I lean my chin on my fist. Same old Saturday mornings. The mailman driving off, Mrs. Stevens is tending to her rosebushes, Old Man Matthews picking up his newspaper in his bathrobe again… Ew.

Suddenly, loud rock music starts blaring from next door.  August Brandt steps out from under the shadow of the raised garage door, carrying a sloshing bucket of suds and a scrubbing mitten. I can’t help but stare as he moves over to his Jeep. Bobbing his head lightly in tune with the beat, he sets the solution down. Reaching for the hose, he’s about to start rinsing it off when he glances up in my direction. Oh, crud. He saw me staring.

I can feel the blush raising up my neck, as I straighten up quickly. A slow, knowing smile starts making its way across his face, and before a I know it, he’s sending me a big grin, oh great he’s sending me a wave now. Quickly wiggling a few fingers, I step back from the window.

Great. I’m supposed to leave and meet Margaret in… now half an hour, and he’s probably still going to be out there.