We stay busy as a family, but Amanda and I have remained true to taking at least one date night each month. Sometimes it’s planned and sometimes it’s spontaneous, but we always manage to squeeze some alone time into our hectic schedule. When I write “squeeze”, I mean just that–we oftentimes only have an hour, or so, to squeeze between responsibilities. However, we were able to spoil ourselves these past two weekends with a couple of “date-aways” in a row.
FEBRUARY 27th DATE-AWAY
It started in New Orleans last Saturday when we rolled into town for the Rock ‘n’ Roll 10K. We checked into the Marriott on Canal Street, picked up our race packets at the Convention Center, and then ordered some dinner from a little restaurant next door to the hotel. We then retired to our room for a picnic that consisted of shrimp poboys, French fries, and Great American double-stuffed chocolate chip cookies.
Early Sunday morning we ate (more) cookies and milk for breakfast and walked to the starting line of the Rock ‘n’ Roll 10K, which was a few blocks away. The weather was great and the crowd large. We ran the 6.2 miles through the city–enjoying some great views along the way–and finished at City Park. After collecting our medals and eating everything we could find at the finish line, we took the shuttle back to the hotel and relaxed before heading back home. We both had things to do later on Sunday, so it was back to our busy schedule.
I have to give a shout-out to my grandfather, who turned 94 that Sunday. A man of few words and a hard worker, he’s the most honorable man I know. Here’s to many more birthdays!
MARCH 4th DATE-AWAY
This weekend found us in Lake Charles visiting with members of the Bayou Writers’ Group. The group’s vice president, David Chang, invited me to speak at their monthly meeting and I readily accepted. I last visited with the BWG back in September of 2007 and I was looking very much forward to seeing the members I already knew again, meeting some new members, and introducing them to Amanda.
(Before giving me credit for having such a great memory, you should know that I had to look up the pictures from the last time I was there to figure out the date.)
We checked into the SpringHill Suites on West Prien Lake Road Friday night, took a scenic drive downtown and along the lake, and then grabbed dinner. As is our custom on date-aways, we picked up some take-out and retired to our room for a picnic. This picnic consisted of a pile of food from Ichiban Japanese Grill and Yeung’s Lotus Express, along with–of course–some Great American double-stuffed chocolate chip cookies and a half gallon of milk.
The real treat was Saturday morning when we met with the BWG at the Carnegie Memorial Library on Pujo Street. It was immediately apparent to me how much the rectangle of tables had grown, and it was great to see that the group was expanding.
Here’s a photograph showing the size of the rectangle of tables in 2007:
And here’s present day:
After Cliff Seiber, the group’s president, held the official meeting, I gave the little speech I’d prepared. (It actually went much longer than I’d anticipated–oops!) I talked about mysteries, explained why I couldn’t write erotic romances, offered some ideas on researching, and provided a list of resources I thought might be helpful to all writers who needed a cop, a gun, or a law in their stories. The members were engaging and asked some great questions.
They then treated Amanda and me to lunch and we got to visit with them a little longer. I can’t say enough how welcoming they are and how much of a great time we had with them. I look forward to going back to Lake Charles and visiting with them again in the future. It was definitely a very rewarding experience and just being around them energized me.
Unfortunately, Amanda and I had to leave the restaurant at about 1:15 PM to quickly return to our room and check out before 1:30 PM. As it turned out, the hotel had already deactivated our room keys and we couldn’t get in to grab our stuff. Thankfully, a nice lady who was cleaning rooms down the hall let us in and we reclaimed our clothes and–most importantly–the rest of the Great American cookies.
In closing, I want to say how saddened I was to hear about the passing of Harvey Honsinger. It was almost exactly four years ago that he passed away, but I just found out yesterday. The few times I got to visit with Harvey, I had a great time talking about writing, my all-time favorite genre, westerns, and guns. Like my all-time favorite author, Louis L’Amour, Harvey was a western writer and a really interesting man. I’m really sorry he’s gone.
Here I am with Harvey at the Bayou Writers’ Group Conference in November of 2007: