And not so much the Christmas season, though she has a wonderful Christmas story out. Liv Rancourt writes paranormal and romance, often at the same time. She lives with her husband, two teenagers, two cats and one wayward puppy. She likes to create stories that have happy endings, and finds it is a good way to balance her other job in the neonatal intensive care unit. Liv can be found on-line at her website & blog (http://livrancourt.com/), on Facebook (www.facebook.com/liv.rancourt), or on Twitter (www.twitter.com/LivRancourt). Right now she needs to talk about dealing with time changes.
Thanks so much for the chance to be a guest on your blog, Mona. I really appreciate the chance to connect with your readers
This is the weekend where it really hits me. For those of us who live in the Northwest, the shift to standard time means the sun sets by about 4:30 in the afternoon. By the Solstice, sunset will be closer to 4pm.
That’s a lot of darkness.
People say that winter in Seattle is hard because of the rain. I’d argue it’s the dark, the weeks where you go to work before sunrise and come home after sunset and maybe, just maybe, get a little bit of light on your lunch break. It can feel like a big long tunnel, and it’s always such a relief when February rolls around and the days get longer.
Now, I’ve lived in Seattle since about 1973, so this annual Marathon-of-Night is no big surprise. It may in part be responsible for my interest in vampires, but that’s another blog post. My trick is to surround myself with light whenever and wherever I can, to offset the chronic darkness.
This year, I’m turning to Pinterest for help. I have a board titled Stuff I Won’t Have Time To Do, which is a collection of all kinds of neat crafty projects that I’d love to do. Someday. Actually, the title is pretty self-explanatory, but I can always dream.
If you visit my board, you’ll see that about a quarter of the projects there involve candles, either making them or creating cool candle holders. It’s all about turning up the light during these cold dark months. If hunting through Pinterest is too much work, you can always do a Google search for ideas. Here’s a link to a cool DIY site with instructions for making decoupage votive holders. I can imagine a rainbow row of candle holders on the fireplace mantle, brightening up my living room.
Now if you’re not crafty – or if you’re as time-challenged as I am – I’m going to throw you a bone. Mona, I know you like recipes with your posts, so I’m going to share my favorite wintertime recipe. It’s super easy, and a very different way of coping with the cold and dark. Here it is:
Hot Chocolate with Peppermint Schnapps
What? You don’t need a recipe for this? Well, here’s MY way of making it.
One package Instant Cocoa (I know, I can hear Martha Stewart freaking out from here because I’m not using the finest organic hand-farmed chocolate or whatever. Welcome to my life.)
One slug Peppermint Schnapps (I leave the actual measuring to you.)
A healthy squirt of whipped cream from a can. (Hush, Martha, you’re making me feel bad.)
Mix the cocoa according to the package directions, add your slug of schnapps, and top with the whipped cream. Couldn’t be easier. It’s not instant sunshine, but it sure is tasty, and you can’t really justify drinking it in July, right?
And for yet another reason to smile, you can check out my newest release, The Santa Drag.
Things aren’t always what they seem, and this shopping mall Santa has secrets only her true love can reveal.
* * *
On a particularly busy Saturday, I was tired and thinking more about a double shot of espresso than I was about the pile of kids who wanted to sit in my lap. The weak winter sun was making its circle over the atrium where the Christmas Village was set up, and my roommate Shauna was buzzing by every so often to giggle at me from the sidelines. She was trying to get all of her Christmas shopping done in one day, which was a good trick for someone with as many fertile brothers and sisters as she had.
“Come sit on Santa’s lap.” Maya, the photographer and kid-wrangler, invited the next kid in line approach my golden throne. Well, it was fake gold, but the kids didn’t know that.
“No,” said a little girl with a stubborn crease between her brows. She was dressed in Seattle’s version of Christmas formal, a stiff, red velvet dress, likely made from organic fabric dyed with beets and rose hips. On her feet were two-toned leather MaryJanes that probably cost sixty-five dollars. At least the green corkscrew ribbons tied around her blond pigtails looked like they belonged on a child. I made myself as approachable as possible, getting down to her level and producing a big smile.
“Come on, Thula,” her mother said, tapping one French manicured nail on her cell phone. “Go sit up there with Santa so we can take your picture.” She sounded as if this was just one more thing to knock off the list.
“It’s okay, sweetie.” Maya put on her encouraging smile. Maya was a tiny thing, barely bigger than most of the kids we saw, with long dark hair, a tiny gold hoop pierced through one nostril, and bugged-out eyes that looked like they’d been molded out of chocolate. She was non-threatening as an adult could possibly be. The kid stared at her and bit down on her bottom lip. At least she wasn’t crying. Yet.
“You want to come tell Santa what to bring you for Christmas?” I kept my voice pitched down somewhere under my sternum. It helped that I had one of those raspy lady voices that earned me a permanent spot in the tenor section whenever I sang in choir.
Sometimes less is more when you’re dealing with preschoolers. We went back and forth for several minutes until the kid went from biting her bottom lip to letting it pooch out and tremble. Never a good sign. Finally, after a ton of coaxing, she was more-or-less close to me, squatting down on the other side of one of the big pretend presents that ringed my throne. That was good enough for her mom, and Maya snapped a picture.
When she was done, the little girl glared at me from behind the big, glossy red ribbon that topped the present. “Bring me a baby brother,” she bellowed and took off running..
Mom’s glare was meaner than the kid’s had been. Hey, it’s not like I made any promises.
The kid ran full tilt past the pseudo-Tyrolean houses that made the Village, and out through the crowds of shoppers. She stopped in the middle of an open space and cut loose, her sobs echoing around the smoky glass dome that covered us. We could hear her carrying on until she and her mom got swallowed up by the Ross store at the end of the north hallway. The whole place fell into a bit of a hush when she was gone, as everyone exhaled in relief. This close to Christmas, none of us needed a crying child to ratchet up the stress level.
A young mother was next in line. She came into the Christmas Village and positioned a slightly damp baby on my lap, moving as if something hurt. The baby was so young that Mom still looked a little pregnant under her loose denim-blue shirt. Or maybe she was already pregnant with number two. I’m not so good with the principles of baby production. Well, I understand the basic concepts, but haven’t had that many opportunities to put them into practice.
The brief quiet was interrupted by a yodeling squeal that I recognized. I stared into the crowd until I caught Maya looking at me funny. I stuck on a smile as close to my normal, jolly-Santa shtick as I could get, and she settled back down behind her camera. The reason for my roommate Shauna’s squeal had me completely rattled. In the two or three beats I’d looked out from behind my wire-rimmed glasses as Mack-the-girl, I’d seen Shauna giving someone a big hug. A really handsome someone. Joe McBride. Joseph Timothy McBride. The actor. The real-life, got a soap opera gig and several commercials and you saw him in Scream 2 actor. The only guy I ever really loved.
Ooh, now she’s got a problem! Will Mack turn all Creepy-Kringle? Will Joe recognize her? What’s a Santa to do? 😉