Goodbye Paradise

It’s easy to beat the sun awake in the tropics. Or anywhere in the winter. Is this balmy breeze stirring palm leaves to dance and sing a sign of winter?

December afternoon sky
December afternoon sky

Today’s the day. It’s time to say goodbye to Paradise and return to the reality of home.

For whatever reason, that reality involves a winter storm advisory. Because after enjoying shorts weather for five days, it’s only fir to return to sub-freezing temperatures, icy roads and the wintry mix the Pacific NW is famous for–when the regular deluge gives way to colder weather.

Every morning we enjoyed a walk, either along the beach or through the quieter, sleepy streets. There won’t be any of this once we get back to the mainland. Who wants to get drenched in the name of walking outside?

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What Makes it Paradise

Perhaps everyone has a different concept of Paradise.

In the Bible, it could be the Garden of Eden or a place in the center of the Earth where souls waited for release.

In my world, it’s a place where the days are sunny but not hot. Where the only thing on my schedule is whatever sounds good. Where I don’t have to wear socks and shoes.

This is how much I get in the ocean
This is how much I get in the ocean

And the pace of the day reflects my mood.

There are palm trees. The sky is a crystalline aquamarine, the color of my Caribbean blue diamond. Maybe it’s a blue topaz sky since it’s December.

Waves lap against the soft shores. The briny smell of the sea underwrites a sweet aroma of baked goods.

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And there are no calories. At least in my mind.

What Makes it Goodbye

Is there any song so mournful as “Taps” when a bugle plays the cadence?

It suits the mood. It’s the perfect way to say farewell.

There’s an end, so we say goodbye.

Which also means there’s a beginning. It’s an ocean away in a colder place. Pine trees will carpet millions of homes with their needles.

Because it’s nearly Christmas.

The voices of Andy Williams and Bing Crosby have even reminding us of the season when the flush of sweaty beneath sunny rays lent to amnesia.

Seats are reserved on a flight. Cats wait our arrival thousands of miles away.

There will be a hello.

But first we must say “Aloha Hawaiian vacation.”

My birthday dinner: but I'll stick with tails after this
My birthday dinner: but I’ll stick with tails after this

Those Hawaiians knew what they were doing. Aloha means hello and goodbye.

Because in this temperate land of sweet pineapple and aromatic coffee, they’re really the same thing.

Aloha.

Cover Reveal: Summer’s Sweet Embrace

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Summer’s Sweet Embrace

A Romance Anthology
By Various Authors
Publisher: Roane Publishing
Release Date: August 19, 2015

Truly Paradise – Michelle Ziegler
Waiting for the right one can be torture.
Too bad for Hailey, impatience got the best of her. Finding Mr. Right in time for a destination wedding couldn’t happen fast enough. Instead of listening to reason, or rather her friends, she’s stuck in paradise alone, again. Nothing ruins a tropical paradise faster than catching your date with another woman.
Justin’s ready for a change. He’s been caught up in his own success for too long and is looking to finally settle down. Timing is everything and his cousin’s wedding is the perfect start of his new life. His luck is changing with the captivating mystery woman on the beach.  Now all he has to do is find her, before he agrees to his family’s match making plot.

Ocean Dust – Laurie Treacy
Carly Dawson, 18, is facing her last summer before leaving for college, all alone. Still nursing a broken heart over the loss of her boyfriend, Chase Montgomery, she wants the next two months to be different. A shocking unexpected visitor one night just may offer Carly the excitement she seeks. Her only decision is whether or not to choose what this visitor offers her.

The Beach Rose – Christa MacDonald
Annie Thomas can’t believe her good luck when she inherits the family’s beach house in Oceanside Maine.  It’s one of the few places she was truly happy so she sells everything she owns, quits her job, and moves in hoping that her new business, The Beach Rose, will bring in enough money in its first season to let her live there year-round.  But on her first day things aren’t as easy or as simple as she’d hoped.  To cap it off she discovers that her best new client is actually her teenage crush.  So much for rekindling a summer romance.
For Craig, Annie was everything he wanted when he was a geeky seventeen year-old.  Now that he’s pushing forty and the owner of half the real estate in town, he wants another shot at convincing her that he’s everything she needs.  He didn’t count on her owning the business he just signed a contract with though.  Craig has to find a way to help Annie’s struggling business without her knowing it since anything else would push her further away and that’s the last thing he wants.
Together they may get a second chance for a summer romance.

When the Sea Swallows the Sun – Kim Strattford
A trip to Clearwater Beach was supposed to be a fun escape from the D.C. rat race for Emma and her boyfriend Sam.  Until Sam dumped her, leaving her with a ticket she was too cheap not to use and a resolution to enjoy her time in the sun and get over him.  A plan that sputters when Sam’s good friend Rick shows up.  Rick, who’s never seemed to approve of her for reasons she’s never understood.  Rick, who seems to think he has license to bug her just because he bought Sam’s ticket.  Rick, who may be a much nicer guy than she ever realized, and who might have a very good reason for not thinking much of her.  Can they make peace in the beautiful Florida sun and surf?  Peace—or maybe more?

Love’s Nectar – Jaylee Austin
What if fate pushed you to make a choice between keeping a promise and revealing a truth? After her grandmother’s death, she opens an unexpected letter containing an unwanted request. Isabel feels obligated to honor her grams final wish. In the process she risks losing the man of her dreams.
Six months before their marriage Isabel reveals a time bomb that will forever change their lives. He loves her but the betrayal of not trusting him weighs heavy on his heart. Trust means everything to Seth.
One ring, journal, box, spirit, and flower will teach everyone the power of commitment and the importance of honesty.  Secrets left buried will always haunt the living, a life lived truthfully leads to happily ever after. Will Isabel and Seth realize this before they are doomed to replay the mistakes of the past?

Love’s High Tide – Niki Mitchell
Tired of the vacationers hitting on her, surf shop owner, Skye Taylor quits dating. In walks the cocky, Harley Nicholson from Idaho. She’s not open for another summer fling. Can he convinces her to give love a chance?
Harley sees Skye shooting through the Huntington Beach Pier on her surfboard. Mesmerized by the woman’s connection with the wave, he sets out to meet the brazen surfer. He bets his cousin that before he leaves in three weeks, she’ll be his.
Skye’s life is kept busy running the Epic Surf Shop and training for annual surfing contest. The handsome, buff Idahoan interests her, but she doesn’t want another disastrous summer fling. Harley charms her into giving him a surfing lesson, woos her with moonlight strolls, and coaxes her with sweet gestures.
Skye discovers Harley’s betrayal. She refuses to see him or hear his explanation. Harley must do something monumental to win her back. Will Skye ever forgive Harley?

Linger – Melissa J. Crispin
Tracey Thompson isn’t like most twenty-year-olds. She’s looking forward to settling down and marrying her soul mate, Noah Martin. Even though their love bloomed when they were just little kids, they never doubted it and never looked back.
When a tragic accident separates Tracey from Noah, she struggles to go on without him. As the days wear on, she becomes aware of a chance for them to be together once again. All she needs to do is understand what tore them apart in the first place. But, overcoming this is harder than it seems. Will she be strong enough to find her way back to him?

Above Reproach – Sheryl Winters
Executive Secretary Margaret Simms should have had it all. An apartment on the beach and a job at Reynolds Ad Agency, working for her best friend and business mogul Garrett Reynolds.
A one night stand leads to a pregnancy and a re-evaluation of her life goals. In reality, Margaret’s always hated her office job and culinary school is her life dream. But that too is ripped away from her when Garrett, her best friend and father of her child, develops cancer.
Obligation forces her back to the work she hates. When office espionage threatens her life, Margaret finds she must make a choice. Stand up for what she truly believes in or lose all she’s ever wanted.
Get ready for summer romance. Summer’s Sweet Embrace available at your favorite retailers on August 19, 2015.

Hawaii’s Top Ten

Sun sets behind Lana'i
Sun sets behind Lana’i

Anyone who enjoys the ocean, the beach, green scenery or balmy nights should plan a trip to Hawaii. In short: everyone needs to experience the fiftieth U.S. state at least once.

It may prove challenging to visit only once.

I recommend Oahu for those people who want a fast-paced trip. A varied night life awaits once the pulse of Waikiki beach fades under the setting sun.

If you want a wide variety of hiking, biking, sightseeing, snorkeling, shopping and adventure, I suggest the island of Maui. On my next trip (See? I warned you this might happen), I’m going to hike to waterfalls in the Northern mountains and zip line through a jungle.

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Here are the top ten most memorable moments from my recent vacation in the Aloha State and, specifically, to the Valley Isle:

10. Snoozing beneath crystal blue skies beside a sparkling swimming pool

9. Quality time with people I love while basking in sunlight and inhaling balmy air

8. My inner pyromaniac salivating as men in loincloths spin fire overhead and between their legs

7. Whooping down Haleakala atop a bicycle

6. Building my ocean-colored Pandora bracelet with a turtle charm to cement this vacation in memory

5. Enjoying each meal on the lanai with friendly birds and full view of the trip mascot: turtles

4. Admiring the “neck” of Maui from 6,500 feet above sea level

3. Swimming in the warm ocean with sea turtles bobbing up all around me

2. Lapping waves as a lullaby every night and a daily wakeup call

1. Dolphins racing the boat and spinning in the air a few yards away

Dozens of these Spinner Dolphins chased the boat
Dozens of these Spinner Dolphins chased the boat

Take a moment to reflect on your best moments from your last trip away from home. Make a list. What tops your list? What made that moment so special?

Paradise: Found

Underneath the veneer of this Paradise, the surf thrums. Its regularity relaxes me. The steadiness acts as the heartbeat of my vacation.
Blue water, reflecting sunlight and mirroring the azure sky above, swells against the reddish sand. With this pulse, life continues.
Images included with this post display the Paradise I view upon awaking and the last thing seen at night. In fact, I have spent many wee morning, pre-sun, hours on the lanai staring at the midnight waters rolling ashore.
The only plan for the day is a luau this evening. The Royal Lahaina Luau takes place about 10 minutes (via the rented Tahoe) south of my temporary home. A manicure may compel me to shower and dress this morning. Or I might just put on my bathing suit and stretch out beside the pool until lunch.
Thus, my definition of vacation becomes clear.
I sat by the pool in a rain shower yesterday. Most of the tourists fled the pool deck. I held my towel over my head (trying to preserve my hair) and let the warm beads refresh my skin. My husband plunged into the water.
Within three minutes, the rain tapered into a mist and the sun smiled on us again.
My definition of Paradise used to be a sunny place where it only rains at night. Now I know better. Paradise and Maui are synonymous.
If you think I’m squandering this week in Paradise by lounging by the pool instead of taking in the sights, never fear. Tomorrow is a snorkeling trip to nearby Lana’i with a 95 percent chance of catching sight of dolphins.
Wednesday morning is the sunrise on Haleakala followed by an 18 mile downhill bike ride. I hope to share pictures from said excursion in my Wordless Wednesday posting.
We have been shopping and will go shopping some more. After all, both Jeff and I had half-empty suitcases when we left home. It would be a crime not to remedy such a travesty.
What is your definition of Paradise?

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