Traveling for Work

I’m in San Diego this week. Most people hear that and think, “how fun.” But it’s not for me. I’m here for work. While interacting with the editors of the journal that I work for can be fun, the meeting itself translates into long hours, sleepless nights and early mornings. Since I arrived Friday, it has been nonstop activity. 

The only fun part has been hanging out with my colleagues and my hotel. I am staying at the Hard Rock Hotel in downtown San Diego. In its lobby hangs one of Stevie Ray Vaughn’s guitars.  

Wish I could buy it for my husband to add to his collection. Also in the lobby is the picture of my hero, Johnny Cash. It shows him behind a stone fortress, looking contemplative, perhaps before San Quentin or Folsom. There’s no caption but I’d like to hang it in my office.

  And then there’s the lyrics to George Harrison’s song. 
Other than the hotel, the best part of the trip has been the constant supply of Garrett’s popcorn, a Chicago staple. Chicago is the location for next year’s conference so they have been promoting it with supplies of the salty, sweet mix.  

Then there’s the picture my husband sent of my kitten, Terra, with my dog, Bandit. Many of you may remember how I’ve said before that my dog doesn’t like cats. You wouldn’t know if from this picture.

I can’t wait to get home to them.

  And I will send a free copy of the new Antique Hunters mystery, Pickin’ Murder, to the first person to correctly  identify the band who is painted in the lobby of my hotel.

Comment here. 



A Sunday Visitor

So, Sunday afternoon, my husband and I were enjoying lunch before going back to work on our next story. I had heated up the low-carb chili I had made the night before and we were watching his favorite series, Buying Alaska.

The doorbell rang. I answered it, thinking maybe it was UPS or USPS with an Amazon package. Instead it was a young college-age girl holding a clipboard. I was not in the mood to talk to anyone. She started by saying she wasn’t selling anything but collecting for scholarships. I said politely that I don’t donate to people who come to my door but through the journalism school at my alma mater. And, then she asked me to listen to her.

I said, “Actually I was in the middle of something and would like to get back to it.” And then she hit me with, “If you were in the middle of something, why did you answer the door then?” I was struck aback. I closed the door and locked it, something I normally don’t do during the day.

Her words bothered me the rest of the day. I answered the door because it might have been a delivery that we were expecting, because it might be a neighbor needing some vinegar (it has happened) or my lawn guy doing his final mowing of the season. I answered the door because it was how I was brought up. The doorbell rings, you answer it. My father rushed to answer both the door and the phone. It bothered him when I would let the phone ring and go to voicemail. I haven’t mastered that trick with the door. Perhaps it is because our Fedex driver who sometimes requires a signature rings the doorbell and then bolts.

Sharing my frustration with my husband who heard the whole exchange, we concocted a story about a Ghost Visitor who haunts people who don’t support her clipboard. I feel the story taking shape. Who knows what will happen when the bell rings?

Starting with a Stone

A green stone. I love colored stones so much that I have often thought about getting my gemology certificate. Not to actually appraise or work as a jeweler or gemologist, but more to collect stones. I have an insatiable need to collect stones.They fill garden pots in my backyard, the tiny butterfly pot we made in the front yard and the 1920s era gilded brass flower pot that is in my bookcase.

Luckily my husband indulges me. We have traveled to Hiddenite, North Carolina, to search for the elusive hiddenite. Did not find one but did find a one carat emerald, a ten carat citrine and many smaller stones. This past summer we stopped in Hickory, North Carolina, to look for rubies. My husband found a large ruby, which I shared in an earlier post. I found an ametrine, lots of smoky quartz and a suitcase full of uncut garnets.

My stone obsession changes from time to time. I see a stone that sparks my interest like an opal from Mozambique to the rare morganite to green tourmaline. Last week I won an auction on ebay for a 1.25 carat green tourmaline stone set in a white gold pendant from England. It arrived on Wednesday, and I haven’t taken it off since.

tourmalineWhen considering ideas for a new cozy mystery series, the first thought that crossed my mind was gemologist. It gives me a perfect opportunity to research one of my favorite subjects — stones and to write about them. I spent considerable time on Thursday with the jeweler at my local jewelry store doing “research.” Of course, I might have shopped a little at the same time.

Next week when I have to go to San Diego for week, I plan to take a side trip to Carlsbad to visit the Gemology Institute’s museum and office. Maybe I will sign up for their colored stone class after all.

The Perils of Errands

I spent the morning running errands, looking forward to my last errand. A last stop at one of my favorite antique stores, Affordable Antiques in Naperville. The staff has been so supportive of my work and have offered to stock books that I needed to drop more off. Of course, that included leaving some time for browsing.

Vintage coral and pearl necklace
Vintage coral and pearl necklace

I have a jewelry obsession and find jewelry everywhere from estate sales to antique stores to eBay. Affordable Antiques, and one booth in particular, ┬ánever fails to hold something to capture my interest. Today was no exception. It doesn’t matter that I am trying to stop shopping so much and start saving money. I still had to look. And, I found that the dealer had just rearranged the case since I was there last. I ended up falling in love with a sweet vintage Italian 14K coral and pearl necklace.

It didn’t take me long to decide that I wanted to add it to my collection. No matter that I already have an overflowing jewelry cabinet and a second one started, and that it was slightly over my budget. It felt right to me.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, I then caught a Victorian opal and gold pendant out of the corner of my eye. It was tucked into a corner and hardly visible. I picked it up and knew. I knew that I wanted it and that I couldn’t wait to wear it. I also knew that both pieces were really over my budget. What to do?

Victorian opal pendant
Victorian opal pendant

Of course, Jackie, the kind manager at Affordable Antiques offered to call the dealer to negotiate a better deal. The dealer was very kind and negotiated a great price. I ended up with both pieces for almost the cost of the one and can’t wait to wear them both.

I did feel extravagant buying both and decided  that I really need to stop shopping now. For me, running errands if very similar to the perils that my heroines, CC and Anne, encounter in the Antique Hunters Mystery series. It is too much temptation. I have vowed to stay out of the store until their November 15 open house when I will be there signing books, not shopping.