Saturday, August 11, 2007

Family Traditions

When I was a kid, my father grilled hamburgers and hotdogs on his big charcoal grill every Saturday night. When we were very young, we would take our burgers and our potato chips wrapped in a paper napkin, along with our green bottles of Coke (only allowed once a week) and sit in the playroom to watch TV.

When I was a little older we turned it into a picnic outside, and we would watch fireflies and take out our star charts and telescopes and pick out constellations. I remember those days so fondly--before my siblings and I moved to the far corners of the country and the globe, before my parents sold the family home and retired to a lake house, before anyone died or divorced (at least that I recall).

So these days, whenever any pieces of my far-flung family manage to get together, we almost always have a hamburger cookout.

My niece and her boyfriend are visiting this week from Iowa. I've never gotten to see much of Pam--we've never lived in the same city. So of course, tonight we're having a cookout and I've gathered as many sisters as I can. I hope she associates happy memories with hamburger cookouts and continues the tradition when she gets married and has kids.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007


Hi all,
Like Ann I was also on one of the floors at the Dallas Conference where the fire alarm went off. It happened at 12:30 p.m. and I was sound asleep. Suddenly an alarm was blaring, lights were blinking and a voice was saying over and over, “Hotel Emergency. Exit your room quickly. Do not use the elevators. Use the stairs.”

Now I’m in a wheelchair and this was a bit daunting for me. My cousin was with me and we scrambled out of our beds. I didn’t know I could move that fast. I didn’t bring a robe either, but I had on a very nice gown that covered me completely. My cousin on the other hand had on a pair of pajamas and the top was cut low. She also didn’t bring a robe so she grabbed our purses and a blouse to cover herself.

As we reached the door we could hear people running in the hall. My cousin said, “What are we going to do?” I replied, “You’ll have to go down and tell someone I’m still up here.” She was appalled. “No. I’m not leaving you up here.” Here we were debating this at the door. Finally I told her we needed to just go see what’s happening. She opened the door and people were running here and there looking for the stairs. Everyone was scared and not knowing what to do. Finally a hotel person came running and shouting, “False alarm. Go back to your rooms.”

Best words I’ve ever heard in my life. My heart was about to pound out of my chest. The alarm continued to blare and none of us were too eager to go back to our rooms. So we started chatting until we could breathe normally again. We were in our night clothes, no make up and our hair was sticking out in all directions, but no one seemed to care.

This all happened in about a minutes time, but it was like a tiny sliver of the fear the people of 911 must have felt—the fear of the unknown. From now on I will ask what arrangements there are for handicap people in case of an emergency. For heaven’s sakes my handicap room was on the 10th floor. Next time I will also carry a robe. Next time I will be prepared.

And if you’re checking into a hotel any time soon, make sure you know where the stairs are. That’s important. Happy travels to all.

Linda Warren
Once A Cowboy--Feb American
Adopted Son—Sep SuperRomance

Monday, August 06, 2007

Be prepared

Hi guys,
Later in the week I’m heading off for Las Vegas for a long weekend. And let me tell you, I don’t travel light. In fact, I’m usually prepared for anything that could be thrown my way. There’s a really good reason for that little bit of OCD. Let me tell you about a couple of times I was remiss in my packing. Sheesh! I hate it when I do that.

Several years ago I was in Chicago and got caught in a frog stranger-rain, thunder, lightening, the whole enchilada. By the time I made it to my destination, I looked like I’d been swimming in Lake Michigan. How about that for making a great impression? My next humiliating experience happened in New Orleans. I can hear you all saying-what, anything goes in the Big Easy. Yeah, normally that’s true. But even during Mardi Gras walking around with a man’s long underwear shirt wrapped around your head is a wee bit unusual. That actually wasn’t my fault!! It was sunny when I left my house (an hour away). Too bad I didn’t watch the weather forecast. Are you seeing the pattern here? Rain. No umbrella. LOL Now I live in the Pacific Northwest and I always have a bumbershoot handy (for you desert dwellers that’s an umbrella).

But the worst of the worst was the planning conference fiasco. In the middle of the night there was a fire alarm and we had to evacuate the hotel. My roomie had matching robe, slippers, yada, yada. I, on the other hand, had on a little pink Teddy. I didn’t even own a robe at the time. About three flights down my friend grabbed a tablecloth and shoved it my face. That’s how I ended up standing out on the street-with all my colleagues- wearing nothing but my pink teddy and a burgundy tablecloth. Did I get a few strange looks? Oh, yeah!

So, now you know why when I travel I’m prepared for heat or cold, rain or drought, and just about any kind of ailment you can imagine. Ditto for my characters.
Enjoy the rest of the summer, and be prepared.
Ann DeFee

Georgia On His Mind, Harlequin American Romance, August 2007
Summer After Summer, Harlequin Everlasting Love, September 2007
The Perfect Tree, Harlequin American Romance, November 2007

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Watering your feet

We are blessed with an adorable grandson (our first!) named Jack. Jack is two, and knows just how to keep cool. By watering his feet instead of the flowers, of course. (Now, why didn't I think of that?) There's nothing cuter than Jack, standing on the deck with his tiny watering can, soberly and carefully wetting his toes. When the can is empty he holds it out. "More, please." Just thinking about that makes me smile.

The real gift for me is that Jack reminds me to take joy from the simple things. The sun on your face. A baby bird, chirping for her dinner. A new season of The Closer. Coffee with a friend. I could go on and on!

Take a moment and think of something simple that makes you happy. Then please share. Who knows, your pleasure could spark added joy in each of us.
Summer Lovin' Anthology: A Reunion Story, June 2007
Mitch Takes A Wife, August, 2007