On the Road: Beach Skirts and Other Pleasures

So now I’m where I was going and the ocean is as beautiful as ever and it was worth the long drive which was pretty great all by itself. The second half started after I left the hotel and was trying to find my way back to the highway and saw a Michael’s. Well, you know how that is. Thank God it was a Michaels; if it had been a Hobby Lobby, I’d never have gotten out of town. So I went in because I decided I wanted to make a beach shawl or a shrug during the week and then I found this felting wool in a color called Ocean Blues so of course I bought it. I figured if it didn’t look right for a shawl or a shrug as I worked on it, I could felt it and it’d be a scarf. I’ve been working on it all week and people kept asking me what it is (peopel here are very goal-oriented). I kept saying “I don’t know” because nobody who asks “What are you making?” wants a speech about how it could be this or that or whatever. But it did make me seem unfocused. So now it’s almost done and it’s a shawl. I’d love to felt it to see what happens but unfelted it looks like fish net which is good for the whole beach thing, plus I’ve been picking up shells with holes in them to sew to the fringe and shells don’t felt well. So it’s a shawl. I was about halfway through it when I looked at it and realized the yarn was variegated. I mean, you could tell it was variegated immediately when you looked at the skein, I just hadn’t realized I’d bought sixteen skeins of variegated yarn again. The damn stuff is insidious.

Then back on the road and two hours after I bought variegated yarn (the shame, the shame), I stopped for breakfast. There’s something about pulling into an IHoP in Columbia, SC, with “Born to Run” blaring on the stereo that makes you glad you’re an American. Plus there’s the great dialogue you overhear. The woman in the booth behind me was saying, “Look into my eyeballs. You look into my eyeballs,” to somebody when I sat down. But my all time favorite Dialogue Overheard At IHoP was from a mother talking to one of her sons who’d just popped the other one: “Justin, we don’t hit family.”

That’s goin’ in a book.

And now I’m here. This is the sixth day of a six-day retreat at the ocean, twenty-some women crammed into a pretty big beach house with the ocean rolling in and out just yards away. I have taught my butt off this week but the students I’ve had have been wonderful: focused, dedicated, cheerful, and amazingly hard-working. The only drawback to this retreat is that you have to share a room and in some cases a bed–I’m a diva so I said, “I don’t think so” because that was a deal-breaker for me–but once you get past that big drawback, everything here is perfect. It’s the Low Country RWA Jumpstart Master Class; the real retreat starts Friday night but that sounds more hectic and less retreat-ish than this week, which has been full of optional classes and equally optional beach walks. Jen, Meg, and Bob are coming in for the weekend, so I’m expecting it to be party central here after a lovely, slow week of talking on the porch and falling asleep to the sound of the ocean. I’ve slept better here than anyplace else I’ve ever been except on a ship where the roll always puts me to sleep. Of course, I’m not sharing a room or a bed, so that helps a lot.

And today I’m celebrating by wearing my favorite long beach skirt. It’s pretty over the top–chartreuse with turquoise embroidery and sequins with little bells on the belt ties–but I love it and I was determined to walk on the beach at least once in it. Of course, now the sky is lowering and it looks like rain, but I’m getting out there sometime today after I get some work done and teach my final class for the week, this one on collage. There are some people who look skeptical but I’ve done this before. They’ll be up to their eyeballs in glue before dinner.

So life is still good on the road. And bless Jane Espenson for being such a star and blogging while I drove. She can come back anytime, especially since I forgot to ask her about graphic novels. We’ll have to lure her back. I’ll start looking for heirloom tomatoes as soon as I get back. Or maybe she likes variegated yarn. I’ve already got that.