A Hallmark Christmas Story Beginning – Part 1

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

‘See the sunlight through the pines, taste the warmth of winter wine, dream of softly falling snow, winter’s cold, aspenglow...’ Noelle hummed along to one of her favorite John Denver songs as she wound the garland around the stairwell railing. All around her the staff was filling the house with holiday spirit for the Judge and Mrs. Carson.

She loved her job of personal assistant slash manager of this grand old mansion. Retired Judge Carson doted on his charming wife and she doted on him and Noelle. They had practically given Noelle carte blanche in decorating the house this year with only a few suggestions and she had taken off running with all of it.

Nearly every large room held one Christmas tree, be it big or small, and each room had a theme that flowed right into the next room. The front entry with it’s large grand staircase was classic red and green with poinsettias at the base of the stairs and green garlands wrapping up the railings. Then tiny fairy lights wrapping the greenery for a delicate glow. A tall fir graced the corner, decorated in red bows and ribbons, simple white lights , and a simple gold star.

The front living room was a white and ivory wonderland. The only green was from the blue spruce, but everything else was in shades of white and cream. Ivory beaded garlands were strung on the tree, which was decorated in cream birds and feathers, glittery snowflakes and delicate angels. A white winter village was set on the mantle with a fake snow batting softening the edges.

The dining room, with it’s large french doors overlooking the back gardens and gazing pool, had been trimmed in the simplest of greenery and clove studded oranges. Pomegranates and large bowls of potpourri decorated the table and scented the air in spice and warmth. Large magnolia and orange leaves were tucked into the long needled boughs and it was right out a very Scandinavian or French country.

The Carson’s entire family was coming home for the holidays, so each bedroom had to be perfect. Advent calendars and stockings decorated the great-grand kids and cousins rooms, while more simple and elegant things decorated the adult’s. Noelle had been planning the rooms since August. It was exciting to see all of it come into focus and reality. Mrs. Carson was delighted with every detail and even she had to concur with the judge, that his wife was as giddy as a schoolgirl with all the festivities in the house.

Noelle had even gone so far as to plan holiday meals each day and every evening since the first of December, light a candle each night for advent. She had found an elegant advent calendar  full of pretty sayings about the season. She had spruced it up with Mrs. Carson’s favorite chocolates, and now every evening after dinner, with their coffees, they would sit in her favorite decorated room. The grand, two story library, with a roaring fire. Mrs. Carson would open the numbered box. Noelle would light a green candle, and the judge would read part of the Christmas story. She had started the tradition the year before, when she had first started working for the Carsons, and now it was a cozy family thing they did. For the judge and his wife

viewed her as family since all of their sons, daughters, and grandchildren lived far away. Her family wasn’t nearby either, her parents still lived in her hometown three states away and 18 hours  of driving away. Her sister was friends with the Carson’s daughter and had recommended her for the job, but her sister also lived several hours away and hardly ever had the time to visit, what with being a housewife and mother of three very active little boys.

Various aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents were dispersed throughout the west, and on it went, so for her it had been absolutely lovely that the Carsons viewed her like and added granddaughter.

So with Mrs. Carson’s ever delightful support, she transformed the magnificent mansion to a Christmas wonderland. She also instrucked the gardeners on how to decorate dhte exterior. lights around the eaves and spiraled around the tall conical cypress that lined the driveway. They looked like glittering pillars every night when the first star would come out and the timers would click on . Flick! and there was a stellar driveway. The shrubs were covered with lighted nets that draped over, and various trees were decorated in the dripping icicle lights so they look drenched. If there was one thing she loved, it was lights.

She and the girls from the kitchen and maids had made snowmen families tucked into pockets of conifers throughout the gardens one afternoon when the snow had fallen thickly the night before. The judge had even found an old horse-drawn sleigh that was in need of massive repairs, but with some greenery and red bows and even more lights, it became the welcoming piece de resistance welcoming those at the front gate.

 

Part Two is in the next post. I just didn’t want to bog you all down with this little Hallmark-y story I started writing two years ago.  I only have parts one and two so far, but well I’m dabbling since I’m in the Christmas Season.

Kate

A Little Christmas Bling

Winter slumps in like that grumpy gnome you have hiding in your garden. One minute the sky is blue, the next, there sitting in the corner armchair, or maybe it’s a recliner, is this frown faced, white bearded, cross armed gnome. Sort of like Grumpy. The fog sits in this fuzzy white line across the sky like a low hanging ceiling. Never lifting and you know darn well it’s all blue skies and sunshine above. Maybe. Who knows. It’s this bubble you are in. You have no clue. Heck, it could be rockets red glare up there and you wouldn’t know.

The fog, if it does lift, happens around 4pm right when the sun is making its last pass and is about ready to drop down over the mountains. Then, the night sky is alight with the most midnight blue sky. Brilliant and scintillating with the starshine of the winter constellations. Orion tipped on his side as a waxing gibbous mercury silvers a metal barn roof to mirror shine.

Daytime: late afternoon and deer linger on velvet lawns of faded green and tan, like well placed ornaments. It is Advent season after all. They are like the flocked deer of one’s childhood where there were those beautiful horses and deer and woodland creatures that were the softest to touch but couldn’t have their limbs moved. The kind that area always in the ranching stores. I remember the last time I saw them was in this all purpose Radio Shack store when I was about 12 in Colorado. The kind of store that sold farm toys to kids. Tractors and John Deere things, and blue jeans, and knick knacks for a tourist town.

Advent, when every glittering thing takes on a new meaning. Starlit nights, Christmas lights, a red drum in a second-hand store window, paper bags lining a street with little flickering lights. Turn on every Christmas song I know, watch every Christmas related movie in the world, hum about hippopotamuses and lost front teeth. Grinches and Little Toy Trains. Candles shine more brightly in the dark.

 

Christmas is a fairytale. For Christians it aught to be a fairytale. We are on this quest for the ‘gold’ and the right, we are knights fighting for our King, to end up in a paradise of riches and wealth. They say fairytales don’t exist. Clearly no one ever read the Bible. Why, everything is fantastic and amazing and glorious. And it’s all true! Talk about a story that doesn’t have an end, and the end is going to be so much more magnificent than anything us mortal humans could cook up in section 398.2.

The holiday season is fastly here and I’ve yet to write anything I’ve wanted, but the start of this post was a start of a poem that didn’t go anywhere. It was clearly meant for blog posts and all that.  I can’t quite seem to get out what I’m feeling and thinking. Life is just too chaotic at times. I’m just one motion into another. Planning desserts, Christmas party dresses, functioning. It’s just all a little too much to sit and write. That being said, I am in another Hallmark frame of mind. Ironically, a friend just sent me the best Hallmark Christmas movie plot generator. I am having a blast with it. I dare you to come up with something yourself.

Go for it and tell me what you come up with. Even better, or brownie points if you can name a movie that fits one of these!

Kate

 

Missing Random Writing and Christmas Season

I have spent the last year and a half focused solely on poetry. Hardly doing any free writing. Just this poetically possessed individual. Well, I have had enough of that!

Driving up the mountains through the sugar cookie encrusted snow engulfed pine trees today, with a milky sun trying desperately to burn through the fog, I realized how much I missed writing bits of flash fiction and free writes. I wanted to write so much about the snow and the Christmas season and the light and dark and shadows.

We Have Visited Narnia

I get in this obsessed atmosphere where I hyper focus on one thing and then I sometimes miss the big picture. Poetry is pretty micro-ed down. And I am more tired these days where poetry doesn’t come out as easily. Partly as I am too wired at night when I get off of work to write poetry. I probably need to start forcing myself to try. Especially when I get off of work, sit at the bar for a quick drink or last cup of coffee. I have a new Field Notes notebook, my first ever, that I am filling with “Night Shift Notes” at the end of the night.  But that is non fiction. I could sit with a small notebook and just start working on fiction and fun things.

I am in a Hallmark Christmas mood. Like, every night we watch one, at least, and on my weekends, two, sometimes. Thankfully I have a family that likes them as much as I do. Some are horrible. Some are marvelous, and some, well, just barely make the cut.  But much to the chagrin of my coworkers (men, Coffeeman….. I’m looking at you, and a couple others) I love Christmas, Christmas music, and all things Christmas. Thankfully Awesome, Extraordinare, Superwoman hostess loves Christmas as much as I do and we were giddy last week when the tree went up at work. Tinsel and glitter and gorgeousness. 

So I have lots of festive things to write about and have fun. A Christmas party in a few weeks, prom-esque style. I never went to my prom. And I have this super cute LBD with embroidered kittens coming… I could have gone more glamorous, but heck, this will be a fun one to have for other events.

So, as I rambled off of that original train of thought. Basically, I miss writing. I miss the fun things I could come up with even if they didn’t go anywhere. So, clearly I need to start playing around with words. Recently I was playing a drinking game after work, don’t worry, I only had one beer, and I was called the resident ‘wordsmith’. So I must must must use words.

Kate

Everything Changes – Day 27

So yeah, I didn’t actually complete the Write 31 Days in a 31 day period… sue me.  Busy, tired, busy, tired, I could repeat….  And I can’t quite remember what Twin Ponygirl said for title, but I’ll give her the credit for this. So any comment made to this post, she get’s 50 cents royalties…

Lemon Bars Photo by Dana DeVolk on Unsplash

Literally, everything changes, from coworkers to menus, the restaurant business is ever evolving. Months ago I wrote how Miss Holly and I hated change, and for the most part, it’s true, but honestly, I am excited for the new changes to the menu. The other day as a bunch of us were prepping on a closed day, Coffeeman asked how we were all feeling. I wasn’t sure if it was in general because we all put in a long day, or because of the new menu. For me, I am feeling quite excited about the new menu. Yeah, there is a lot of prep. It’s an ambitious menu, to me at least. But it’s a good and exciting change.

I didn’t get what Coffeeman was blathering on about a week and a half ago about being bored with the summer menu… Then I started thinking about it. Like that night I went home and was totally in agreement. I was bored with the menu. I needed a change. I needed something different to challenge my mind. My creativity. My passion.

I’m always passionate about what I’m doing, which is why it takes me a bit longer to make things because I want them to be perfect-ish. But even I was feeling like the menu was mundane at times. It needed something to spice it up. It needed to embrace fall. Lots of fall, even if there are only 54 days till Christmas… (yeah, I killed you there, didn’t I?) I need dark flavors and spices. I want rich and heavy. It’s gorgeous fall weather  as I look out to a blue sky and this rust colored oak tree. I mean, it is absolutely gorgeous! So I want flavors that embrace that.

Oh the cranberries, port, orange, lemon, and cinnamon are a simmering. Gorgeous sight…

I am excited Chef decided to use my cranberry-port sauce for the lemon bars. My sauce!  Okay, well I did find the recipe and tweak it.  And the other day he asked where my recipe was for the lemon bars. “What recipe, you are the chef, aren’t you supposed to have it?” I asked

“You’re the pastry chef! Where’s yours?!” he countered.

Damn straight. I am the pastry chef. Where was mine?  I have to tweak it a bit working with a much larger pan than a 9 by 13!  But it’s good and I have plans.

Fall is bound to be exciting, and changes are forever happening. I’m learning to roll with them. Sometimes.

Kate

October 1st – Write 31 Days – Autumn Crocus

autumn-crocus

Ah autumn crocus, I love you. This time of year, actually it’s more early September, is when out of the ground pops marvelous, huge, fantastic crocus. My father has planted them in groups every where. They are reddish pink in the evenings and glorious purple in the day. They last about three weeks then are gone for another year. Nothing says the start of fall is here like when the autumn crocus pops up its blooms.

Kate

Positive Feedback, Springtime, and Being a Woman

So just the other day I found out that my grandfather read one of my stories here and told Mr. B that he liked it. While I know my grandmother reads some of my things occasionally, it surprised me to find out my grandpa did as well. Pleasantly surprising though. I mean, half or most of the time my parents don’t read what I write, for which I am partly glad. They know enough about me, they don’t need to know some of my other aspects. As it was, Mr. B wanted to know what I had written about so I was explaining some of the last pieces of flash fiction I had written, and he was making faces. Well, I had to explain that Under the Clock Tower gets interesting.  I’ll have to type it up so y’all can see.

So, no, I don’t always tell my parents what I write. Mel did mention, since she gave me the suggestion for how to continue the Clock Tower, that they (the writing group) was corrupting me. To which I replied, “Don’t worry, I’m already corrupted. You should see some of the stuff I’ve written that I share online only under an alias.” She burst out laughing, especially when I took her suggestion about the story.  Oh, being a writer means I have too much going on in my head, and half of it is not what I would call ‘nice’. It’s wicked, it’s bad, gruesome, disturbing, sexy, sexual, violent, and various other not nice things.  Hey, have you ever read of nice villains?

Well anyways, it was nice to get feedback from my grandpa. Then that same morning, a woman I know here said she loved reading my work. She reads it every morning before work while she drinks her coffee.  Wow. Thank you.  I know the ladies occasionally read my work since I post it on Facebook for friends to see, and I always get marvelous feedback from Mel, but out of the blue feedback is rather a gooey feeling.  Okay, honestly, positive feedback gives me a gooey feeling in general. Mrs. Austen always makes me smile when she posts something.

So, feedback = Nice

Then with it being springtime, there is so much inspiration going on. Oh my gosh. All the flowers and smells and birds and green things growing. It brings out a happier me. A more inspired me than winter. I have slipped out of my ‘burned out’ feeling. Thank goodness. And I have moved on to being more inspired.  I think PAD has given me a boost to write all kinds of things, not just sticking with stories and flash fiction.  I have had a lot of inspiration, even if I might groan at the prompt. Like yesterday’s haiku day. But even that turned out good.

Then the being a woman.  As Mel said after we were all gushing over the Outlander novels and Outlander the show, and Jamie, that we are women and the ‘sap’ is rising.  one thing said was  how the sex is really good in Outlander…. and the show. Really good on the show, people. Really good. And it’s really well written in the books. Not super erotic graphic, but just enough that you, or I, keep going back and rereading it. It’s that good.  I had talked to a woman the other day who had mentioned that she read the first three books and thought they were too steamy.  My inner thought was, hell yes, and thank goodness!  That’s one of the things that makes them so ridiculously good. And I don’t even feel it’s a guilty pleasure. It’s just a good read. Hey, I’m a sucker for romance novels, be it clean or a bit naughty…. or in some cases, really naughty.

Ah, springtime. Romance, love, sex and all things fertile start flowing. There must be something about it that we don’t even realize that we mimic nature.  So I have to say that yeah, spring comes along and anything girly and feminine is on my mind. And romance.  Lots of romance. And roses, and Hallmark movies.  I did my 31 days of femininity in October, but honestly, I probably should have done it now.  Lol.  I have stacks of romance books I want to read, or write. Heck, I am writing romance. I don’t share the romance with anyone because it’s terrible. Okay, it’s probably not that bad, but it has a lot of half starts. I’m still working on a story I started a month or so ago, and it’s actually turning out okay. I want to have one of my ladies read it when I’m done and get some feedback on my romance style.

So, there’s a ridiculously personal update. How is spring treating everyone else?

Kate

A Moment of Mulch – Writing 101 Day 14

Shovel. Shovel. Fling. I heft the hay fork over my shoulder and the mulch deposits in the trailer. One shovel full after another.

How many wheelbarrows are in a trailer load of mulch? How long have I been doing this? I ask myself as another scoop falls into the trailer.

I mean, it could be worse. It’s a gorgeous day, and the sun is shining in a November sky. That right there is an oddity sometimes. Usually there is fog. Thick fog that never burns off. Okay, I might be exaggerating there a bit.  That kind of fog waits for December.

So here I am on a crisp clear day, doing something I actually like. But boy do my shoulders not like this.

There I was this morning with my sister asking me what I was going to do today. “Oh, I don’t know,” I said casually. I really didn’t. But then I started thinking about the dahlias needing to be covered in mulch for the winter. We are trying something new, so well, I need to get the mulch.

So out of nowhere I ask for my father to hook up the trailer and I’ll load up mulch to pile under the pine trees for the winter.

That was one load ago. Now my shoulders are so tired and I’m feeling that wobbly motion that comes when I’ve over done it. My inhaler is wearing off, and my breathing is more labored. And I’m sure the soup is boiling on the stove. And I have to cover plants tonight. And I can feel the cold breeze starting as the sun has shifted down lower and its not hitting me as much as I would like.

But, now I have two loads of mulch. Not bad for a day that started off with no plan but to be outside. Maybe.

 

I have no idea if this fits with the ‘rules’ of day 14. But I’m not terribly worried. I’m not even sure what I was going for. It is semi autobiographical since I did think most of this, and most of this happened today. So…..

Kate