Posts Tagged ‘advent’

(advent) Tuesday, December 18

The cold persisted through the night and the next day, making it very difficult for Molly to find the enthusiasm to get out of bed. It was her day off, after all, and the bed was warm. Schrodinger had snuggled in next to her when Drew had gotten up, putting his head on the pillow and purring in his sleep. Molly lay in the semi-darkness of the bedroom, content to simply be.


In the end, though, her bladder demanded that she get up. Her slippers were icy when she slid her feet into them, despite the warmth of the room, and she was shivering by the time she got downstairs. Even the warm kitchen seemed cold.


Oh man, I can’t be sick, she thought, leaning against the counter as she waited for the tea water to boil. Molly could have heated the water with a thought, but that seemed like way too much work. I have too much to do to be sick now.


She took her tea into the living room, sitting on the couch with a blanket around her, her mug cupped in her hands. Outside the window, it was snowing fitfully, little spurts of flakes that came and went, but inside, the tea and the blanket began to seep through the chill. Molly snuggled back on to the couch and contemplated what they would do today.


Before he’d left for work, Drew had brought out the red and green Christmas tree stand from the basement, along with the three boxes of ornaments that they had collected. This afternoon, on his way home, he’d stop at the tree farm and get the tree they’d picked out a few weeks ago. He’d left early so that he could be here to decorate it with them.


Are you okay?


Schrodinger had come in and was looking at her oddly, his head cocked to one side, and for a moment, she couldn’t figure out why he looked weird, almost sideways. Then Molly realized that at some point, she’d slid down to lie on the couch, her mug on its side on the floor, dangling limply from her fingers.


“I must have fallen asleep again,” she murmured, trying to sit up. “What time is it?”


Schrodinger looked over at the clock on the mantle. Almost noon, he said, jumping up onto the couch next to her as she pulled herself into a sitting position. I woke up and realized I didn’t hear anything, so I came looking. Are you okay?


Molly put her hand to her forehead, and sighed in relief when it came back normal. “I’m okay, just sleepy, apparently,” she said. “Would you like some lunch, since we both slept through breakfast?”


After a hearty omelet and another cup of tea, Molly actually felt better, although she decided a quiet afternoon was what she needed. She and Schrodinger hung out on the couch and watched several Christmas movies until she heard Drew’s truck come into the yard.


And right behind him was Kiaya’s big SUV with the kids. Molly was glad she’d gotten the sleep she had.


“Who’s hungry?” she asked, as they all trooped into the kitchen.


“We can’t eat now, we need to help Drew set up the tree!” Gideon said excitedly. “And then we get to do the Advent calendar! We stopped at the bookstore to get it!”


Molly laughed. “Okay, you guys do that, and I’ll make tea!”


When she brought in the tray of tea and hot cocoa mugs and plates of shortbread cookies, they had set up the magnificent Douglas Fir in front of the window. Drew was holding up two separate strands of lights, one clear and one colored. “What should we do this year?” he asked.


“Colors!” the kids said, and Lily added, “You did white last year. And the year before.”


“Well, then we can’t repeat it again,” Drew said, winking at Molly and Kiaya. “The last thing we need to be is predictable.” He wound the strands of lights carefully around the tree.


“Before we decorate, let’s do the calendar!” Kaylee said, bouncing until Molly handed her a cup full of hot cocoa and homemade marshmallows. Then she sat carefully, and added, “The kitten needs to see the tree decorating too!”


Once everyone had a mug, Drew opened the tube that they’d brought the calendar in and hung it on the mantel. The little cat was still in the back parlor, looking at the birds, but when he realized that they were looking at him, he hopped off the chair he’d been on and sauntered into the next room. This was also a parlor, but they could see neat box flowerbeds covered in snow, and a driveway leading off into the distance. In this room, there was a small tree set up on a table, and a large fireplace that held a battalion of nutcrackers dominated one wall. Instead of flames in the fireplace, there was a pile of presents.


The kitten went into the fireplace and pulled out a box, and then opened it. The smoke puffed out and formed the words, “New traditions are as good as old ones if they are done with love.” Then it swirled out of the calendar and went, not to the children waiting, but to the top of the Christmas tree.


It coalesced into a tight ball, growing brighter and brighter, until Molly had to avert her eyes. Then it flashed, and when the after-glow cleared, they saw a beautiful star atop the tree.


“Well, I guess we’re not doing the angel,” she said, a little awed.


Drew smiled at her. “Time for a new tradition?”

(advent) Monday, December 17

Monday had dawned gloriously clear and very, very cold. So cold that it felt like she was inhaling shards of ice instead of air when Molly stepped out of the warm kitchen, and even Schrodinger bounded directly to the Jeep rather than exploring around. He still refused to wear the woolen boots that her mother had knit him, but Molly realized how very few steps it took him to get to the Jeep.

The cold persisted all day, and Molly refilled tea pots, not just cups, in between building the last few gingerbread houses she had. Thursday, the first day of winter break, was the day she planned to deliver them. Hopefully the deep freeze would break by then.

“I don’t mind cold,” she said to Lai, who had stopped in for lunch. “But this is ridiculous. I don’t want to keep the kids out in the cold in this weather.”

“Isn’t Old Man Winter going to help you?” Lai said, sipping from the mug in her hands.

“I think so. He’s been out doing something else for the past week, but he adores it,” Molly said.

“Maybe that’s why it’s cold? Because he’s been in the Cove?”

Molly pondered that. “No one’s seen him, though,” she said finally. “And it’s not like he’s not recognizable.”

“Not necessarily,” Lai said. “He’s the personification of Winter, isn’t he? He can probably pass completely unnoticed if he wanted to.”

Molly had to concede the point. “But why?” she said. “Why would he be sneaking around the Cove?”

Lai turned and looked at the Advent calendar. “Maybe he’s still looking to see who took that?”

<><>

Old Man Winter was, in fact, in the Cove, but not to find out about who had taken the Advent calendar. Jade and Jack had decided that trying to find the culprit was a waste of time, especially as the Snow Queen’s Ball was approaching. Left to his own devices, Old Man Winter had decided to see what else was going on.

He’d toyed with the idea of looking Pavel up, and taking the pirate out for a night of drinking, but when he’d stopped by his house, Brynna told him that Pavel had headed out on a short sail, and wouldn’t be back for a few days. She’d offered him a hot toddy, but he’d declined politely.

The children were still in school, and he decided against going and taking them on an adventure. While they would be thrilled, their parents would not be. And he didn’t feel like tea, or coffee. So he found himself wandering through the streets, invisible, just soaking up the feelings in the town. Ever since Molly had freed him from the Eidolon who had taken him over, he’d realized how much he liked Carter’s Cove. It was a town that you could be yourself in, no matter who yourself really was. They were accepting like that.

Which is why the older man standing in the middle of the street and glowering at a new building was enough to halt his progress. And as Old Man Winter looked closer at him, he realized something else.

The man stared angrily – no, not angrily, Old Man Winter corrected himself. Hungrily. As if the shop held something he wanted so much that he would take the building apart at the seams to get it.

He turned his attention from the man to the building. It was a large stone building, looking slightly like a barn and a business had had a child, and there was no sign on it yet. There was a spot for one, though. The building itself was shuttered up, but there was smoke coming from one of the chimneys. Forgetting the man, Old Man Winter walked forward, fully intending to go through the wall and snoop a bit. For him, it was normal.

Which is why when he hit the stone wall and bounced backwards onto his behind, he was more startled than hurt.

The front door opened while he was still sitting in the snowbank, and someone he hadn’t seen in a very long time came out. Kris put her hands on her ample hips and glared down at him.

“Sure, and what are you doing here?” she demanded, obviously able to see him, even though he hadn’t take off his invisibility. “I’ve no time for your foolishness, Old Man.”

He let the glamour drop. “Just passing through,” he said, getting up slowly. “I’d no idea you’d come to the Cove.” Old Man Winter held out his hand. “You staying?”

Kris looked at him suspiciously. “What is it to you?”

“I’m not the same as the last time you saw me, Kris,” Old Man Winter said, knowing full well where her hostility came from. “I promise you.”

“Promises from you are worth less than the ice on your beard,” she retorted. “Especially as you just tried to invade my new home.”

“That was a mistake,” he admitted. “I didn’t realize it was yours. I just wanted to see who had moved in.”

“You haven’t claimed this town,” she said, but he could hear curiosity as well as anger in her voice. “This is neutral territory.”

“Yes,” he said. “I just got used to be one of the few beings who could wander where I wanted here. It’s a bad habit.” He smiled. “Can I come in?”

She glowered a bit more, but then she relented. “Might as well,” she said, gesturing him through the door. “I don’t want to have this conversation in the street.”

<><>

“Molly, it’s so cold out!” Kaylee said, as the children piled into the kitchen. “We need to warm up!”

“I’ve got plenty of cocoa and tea for you!” Molly promised. “And hot sandwiches!” She’d made more cranberry walnut bread earlier in the day, and when she’d heard Jack and Aurora barking, she’d put ham and cheese between the slices of bread and toasted them in the oven. Now, she set out the sandwiches on a big plate and put it on the island, then she put out the tea and cocoa.

Once they were fed and warm, they clustered around the Advent calendar. The little cat was waiting for them in the music room, where he’d been the day before, listening to records on the old gramaphone. Now, he jumped down from the sofa and padded out into a small room with easy chairs around a large, low table. There was a tea service gleaming silver on the wood, with holly berries and ivy leaves on the tray. There were little cakes that had sugared berries and leaves sculpted out of marzipan or fondant, Molly wasn’t sure which. There was a window behind everything that looked out to a tree dripping with bird feeders.

“Wow, that looks like a fun place!” Zoey said wistfully. “I wish we could go in.”

The little cat jumped into a chair and then leaned out and nosed the top of the teapot off. The white smoke puffed up and formed the words “It’s not just Christmas for you.”

“What does that mean?” Kaylee asked, looking at her companions.

They all shrugged, confused. Then the smoke drifted out to them and wound around them, a silvery snake that became a thin thread, laying across their hands.

“What are we supposed to do with thread?” Lily said, puzzled, as she started to wind it back up from the spool she’d discovered in her hand. “Did the Advent calendar break?”

The little cat shook his head, as if he was astounded that they didn’t understand. He turned and hooked his tail through the teapot’s handle, lifted it up, and went to the window. He nosed up one of the window panes, and poured the contents of the pot into the snow. Birds flocked down to peck at popcorn kernels that had come from the teapot.

“Oh, I get it! We’re going to make popcorn strings for the birds!” Lily and Kaylee said at the same time. “Molly, do you have cranberries too?”

“Of course I do,” she said, pulling a large bowl of cranberries from the pantry. She handed it to Zoey, and then pulled a big bag of fluffy popcorn. “And if you guys want to go near the wood stove to string these, Peter is coming from the Humane Society to put them on the trees near some of the farms. So make as many as you want!”

(advent) Sunday, December 16

“Wow, look at all the people here!” Zoey paused in the doorway to the second floor of CrossWinds Books. “It’s packed!”

“Why are you surprised?” Lily said from behind her. “Santa’s coming today! Of course it’s busy!” She nudged her friend forward. “We need to get moving. The others are right behind us, and these trays are heavy.”

“Well, they won’t be when we carry them back down later,” Zoey said, moving into the crowded room. “Excuse me, folks!”

The two girls took their trays loaded with Molly’s Christmas shortbread and chocolate chip cookies over to the table on the far side of the room, almost immediately across from the large wooden chair that Nathan and Drew had pulled up earlier in the day. Molly had told them that the chair was specially set up for this every year, and had been since she could remember. There were pictures in Mrs. Barrett’s house of Molly and Nathan back when they were Lily and Kaylee’s age, sitting on Santa’s lap. Other towns claimed to have Santa visit them, but Lily knew that the real Santa came to Carter’s Cove. He was on very good terms with Aunt Margie.

They set the trays down with the others they had already brought up and then settled themselves behind the table. Gideon and Kaylee were soon with them, with Molly’s precious box of teas and her box of mismatched mugs. The large carafes of hot water, hot cider, and the one labeled “Mulled Wine,” watched over by DC, were already there.

“This is going to be cool,” Gideon said, looking out at the crowd.

“What is?” Kaylee asked him.

“Helping Molly like this,” he answered. “I like to help, and this means that she doesn’t have to do it all herself.”

“Yeah, I guess.”
He looked at her. “What’s wrong?”

“I just hope Santa doesn’t leave before we get to talk to him,” Kaylee said.

“We will,” Gideon reassured her. “Molly promised.”

And Santa was told you would be helping, Schrodinger said, coming over to them. He put his front paws on the table so he could see everything. Wow, this is amazing, even for Molly!

In addition to the trays of shortbread and chocolate chip cookies, there were slices of dark, fragrant fruitcake, the candied fruits in it glowing like rare jewels; sugar cookies frosted to look like snowflakes; rows of gingerbread soldiers; and cranberry orange tea bread slices. If anyone was going to go home unsatisfied, it wouldn’t be because there wasn’t enough food.

“And after Santa is gone, we can do the Advent calendar,” Zoey said, as the room continued to fill. There wasn’t just kids and parents either. Everyone in Carter’s Cove wanted to talk to Santa. “I wonder when he’ll arrive?”

As if he’d been waiting for those words, the air in the room changed, becoming almost electrified as whispers spread in ever-expanding ripples. “Santa’s here! Santa’s here!”

Indeed, he was. Every year he dressed a little differently, but always the blue eyes and long snowy white beard were the same. This year, his long coat was bright red, like a cardinal, and trimmed in fur so white and soft that it seemed made of snowflakes. A large, wide black leather belt wrapped around his midsection, and his boots gleamed in the light of the lamps. “Good afternoon, Carter’s Cove!” he boomed, as the crowd parted before him, opening up a path to the great wooden chair. Two elves, dressed in miniature versions of his outfit, followed him, and took up positions to either side.

The queue formed quickly, and for the next three hours, people waited to sit on Santa’s knee, even the adults. And then they thronged around the refreshment table. Lily and Zoey kept busy running up and down the stairs to get refills for the cookies, cake, and bread. Molly’s gift of kitchen witchery meant that she could keep the carafes full, for which Lily was grateful. Carrying the trays were hard enough!

On one of her trips, she paused to catch her breath and glanced over at the Advent calendar. The little cat was still in the dining room, but he was prowling around the table, looking anxiously out at the room every so often.

“Don’t worry,” Lily said. “We’re just busy right now. Once Santa is gone, we’ll be back down. We haven’t forgotten you.”

That perked him up. He jumped up onto one of the dining room chairs, curled up, and went to sleep.

I wonder how they managed to put him in there, she thought, as she carried her tray back up the stairs. Is he actually a real cat? Or is he just magic?

Did they tell him what they were doing? She hoped so. It would be cruel to think of a creature trapped in the spell, and sternly shook her head. Jade and Jack wouldn’t do that, silly. But still, I wonder what will happen to him at the end of Advent.

Finally, the line thinned out, and the happy talking died down. Molly sent the four children and three animals over to see Santa, who was talking to the elf on his right.

“You have been very busy!” Santa boomed, smiling at them. “Do you want to tell me what you would like for Christmas?”

Lily gestured to the others. “You guys go first,” she said. “I need a bit to think.”

As she waited her turn, her thoughts again turned back to the cat in the calendar. When Schrodinger had jumped down, she climbed up onto Santa’s lap.

“And have you been good this year, Lily?” he asked her, his deep voice full of jollity.

“Pretty good,” Lily said honestly. “I did fight with Kaylee a bit.” There was no use lying to Santa, after all.

“That’s good,” Santa agreed. “What would you like for Christmas?”

Lily leaned over and whispered into his ear. His face became still as he listened.

“That’s a very specific wish,” he said at last. “Are you sure that’s all you want?”

Lily nodded. “It’s the only thing that is important.”

“I’ll see what I can do,” Santa said. “But it may be beyond even me.”

“Really?” Her eyes widened. “But you’re SANTA CLAUS.”

“Everyone has a limit, even me,” Santa told her. “But in this case, perhaps I can help.” He smiled at her. “Merry Christmas, Lily.”

“Thank you, Santa!” Lily jumped down from his lap and ran to help the others carry things down stairs. If Santa could grant this wish, she decided, she would be even better next year than she had been this year.

(advent) Saturday, December 15

The snow had finally ended around noon on Friday, and to Kaylee and Gideon’s delight, Old Man Winter himself had brought his massive sledge to bring them back to their car, then to the library to drop off the box (which turned out to be full of books wrapped in brown paper, mysterious packages of delight that the librarian, Mr. Staphert, took with effusive thanks), and then back to the bookstore. The calendar had been waiting for them, the kitten looking very concerned, his tail lashing back and forth. He’d been in a room that looked an awful lot like Molly’s pantry back home, if her pantry had been decorated, and the package he’d opened had given a puff of smoke that said “Good things happen when you have friends to help!” and then had dropped pieces of gingerbread into their hands. Gingerbread studded with candied fruits, like rich jewels, that melted in their mouths, and which they shared with everyone else.

Now, Schrodinger was curled up on his bed beside the wood stove with Aurora and Zoey, who was looking MUCH better but was grumpy at missing the sleepover.

“Man, I always seem to miss the fun stuff!” she complained. “Did Brynna cook for you?”

She and Molly put their heads together and made gingerbread pancakes and maple bacon, Schrodinger admitted. It was yummy. Then he laid a soft paw on her lap. But don’t worry – Brynna said she had so much fun that we need to do it again! So you can come the next time!

That cheered Zoey up, as did the eruption of sound as Lily, Kaylee, and Jack came through the front door. The next few minutes were spent in bringing Zoey up to speed, and waiting impatiently for Gideon to come in.

“You’re late!” Kaylee said to him, as he and Kiaya came through the door.

Gideon looked at his watch and frowned. “No, we’re not,” he said. “We said 10 am, and it’s 9:55. We’re early.”

“You came last,” Kaylee said. “That means you’re late.”

“No, it means we’re later than you,” Gideon corrected her, as Kiaya tried and failed to hide a smile. “Are you feeling better, Zoey?”

“Loads! And I hope whatever the calendar gives us to do today is outside. I’m sick of being inside!”

“Well, let’s go see,” Kiaya said, leading the way to the kitchen, where Molly was cutting out gingerbread walls for the houses she was constructing.

“That smells like breakfast from yesterday!” Lily said, inhaling deeply. “I love gingerbread.”

“Me too,” Molly said, putting her knife down. “I think one of the new teas I get will be gingerbread flavored.”

That caught all their attention. “How are you going to do that, Molly?” Kiaya asked.

“Yava and I are working on some new teas together,” Molly admitted. “I’m not ready to sell them yet, but by mid-January, they should be available.”

“Ooh, that’s so cool!” Lily said excitedly. “What other flavors are you doing?”

“The Christmas tea, of course,” Molly said. “And a decaf version that I’m testing now.” She indicated the steaming mug by her elbow. “And we’re working on an Earl Grey for Schrodinger.”

Really? That’s awesome! The CrossCat bounced. I love Earl Grey!

Molly smiled down at him. “I know.” Then she stretched, trying to get the kinks out of her back. “So if you can think of any other flavors you’d like to see, I’ll be happy to talk to Yava about it. But now, let’s see what your calendar has in store for you today.”

They all clustered around the calendar. “Good morning, kitten!” Zoey said. “What is up today?”

The little cat had been sitting in the pantry’s doorway, obviously ready to get things underway. As he trotted into the next room, his tail caught the ribbons from the package from the other day, giving him a long trail of red ribbon that had all of them giggling.

The next room was the grand dining room, and to Schrodinger, it looked very much like the table at Molly’s parents’ house, especially since it was set for the Christmas dinner. In the center of the table was a small tree, covered in what looked like beaded ornaments in all different colors. The plates were white with gold edging, and each setting had a red linen napkin, intricately folded to resemble trees. The feast wasn’t on the table yet, but Schrodinger could imagine what would be there: turkey and stuffing, Molly’s fluffy rolls, green beans and mushrooms and squash and so much more, they’d be eating leftovers for days. And that didn’t even start to count the desserts…

The kitten didn’t go straight to a chair, but ducked his head under the dark green tablecloth, obviously looking for something. To their surprise, he pulled out a picnic basket, edged with green and red ribbon. He nosed up one side, and the expected smoke rose. “Time to make sure others are happy too!” it said, and then came out of the calendar, formed an arrow, and went out towards the front door.

“Wait for us!” Gideon said, and they all ran out, shouting goodbyes over their shoulders.

The arrow led them down the freshly-plowed sidewalks towards Merchant Square, which was one of the hearts of Carter’s Cove. It was an area they knew well, and Schrodinger wondered what was up now. As they followed it along, they called out greetings to the shopkeepers they knew. The square was alive with music, not from radios, but from performers who were set up outside of the shops.

“I love Christmas in the Cove,” Lily said, as they entered The Chocolate Bean, the coffee shop run by Katarina and Mick. “It always sounds so nice.”

“It smells nice too,” Zoey said, inhaling deeply. Katarina, who was frosting a chocolate cake, smiled at them from the counter.

“Good morning!” she said in her musical Austrian accent. “Are you here to help us then?”

The smoke arrow turned into the words “Yes we are!” and then burst into sparkles and faded out.

“I guess so!” Gideon said. “What are we doing?”

Katarina lifted the counter-top to allow them to go into the back room, where her husband Mick was busy. “Go see him,” she said. “He’s got everything for you!”

Mick did have everything: two large thermoses full of hot cocoa and cider, and wrapped packages of butcher’s paper that were warm to the touch, and contained meat hand pies. “You have an important mission today,” he told them, his Scottish brogue a deep counterpoint to Katarina’s lighter voice. “All those musicians out there need to be fed for lunch. Think you can handle it?”

“We can!” Lily said. “But we should have borrowed Molly’s little wagon. Those will be heavy to carry.”

“That’s not a problem,” Mick said, and opened the back door. “Think you can handle this?”

“This” was a little sleigh, although the back was covered with a lid, rather than having seats. It was painted in blue and green with silver accents. Mick picked up the lid, and showed them what he’d built inside: a warming box, well insulated, which would keep the hand pies warm. The two thermoses went on the back of the sleigh.

“And we can pull it!” Gideon said.

Not you, me! Aurora bounced into the area between the traces, and she was right. It fit her perfectly, and there was even a harness that Mick put on her.

“I made this for the goats,” he admitted. “Well, are you guys set?”

Let’s go! Schrodinger said, and they headed out into the square.

(advent) Friday, December 14

Molly’s first thought was that her bed felt weird. Not cold, but the comforter wasn’t hers, and while Schrodinger was sleeping in his normal spot at the end of the bed, Drew wasn’t there. In fact, the narrow bed wouldn’t have fit both of them.

Then she remembered the night before, when Kris had found them on the side of the road and brought them back to Brynna and Paul’s house, where they met Paul and Brynna just coming back in their own sleigh. The couple was delighted to see them and happily put everyone up in the house for the night. Nathan, Kiaya, and Drew had been informed, and then Corrine had called the police to let them know about the abandoned car.

Now, Molly looked out the window. It was still snowing, which meant all she could see was a curtain of lace obscuring everything. She shifted, and Schrodinger said sleepily, Is it still snowing?

“Yes,” Molly said. “It’s doing exactly what Aunt Margie said. I wonder how long Paul and Brynna will have to put up with us.”

Not long. Drew will come and get us on the snowmobile, or we can get a ride home with Kris. Or Old Man Winter. Schrodinger shifted into a tighter coil. Do I have to get up?

“No,” Molly said. “But I need to. I need tea.”

She found that Brynna had left her a bathrobe and slippers, and so dressed, went downstairs to investigate the kitchen. As she’d suspected, both Brynna and Kris were already up, and there was a pot of hot water on the stove, waiting for tea. “You two are amazing,” Molly said, accepting a mug and picking through the tea bags offered to her. “Thank goodness you came along when you did, Kris. That was a stroke of luck.”

“Hardly,” the older woman said from her seat in front of the wood stove. Brynna had both a wood stove and a regular stove/oven, but she preferred the wood stove in the winter. Molly couldn’t really blame her. “I got told you’d need help.”

Molly’s hand paused over the top of the mug at that. “Who told you?” she asked, turning to look at Kris.

“SHE did,” Kris said, and tapped the side of her head. “The lady living in my head.” Then she chuckled at Molly’s look of confusion. “Get your tea, and I’ll tell you.”

She waited until both Molly and Brynna had settled back down next to the stove and then said, “You know about Eidolons, right?”

“Yes,” Molly said. “Apparently I’m good at fighting them, although I’m not sure how.”

“Probably because you care,” Kris said. “Anyways, you know how they need a vessel, right?”

“No, actually,” Molly said. “The extent of my knowledge is that they exist, and somehow, kitchen witchery scares them.”

“Interesting,” Kris said. “I wonder why…” Then she shook her head, cutting herself off. “Never mind. Well, let me tell you a bit about Eidolons. They have to have at least one vessel in order to do much of anything. Eidolons are emotions made real, but unless they are incarnated into a living thing, mortal or immortal, they can’t do much. Once they are incarnated, they can channel their energy through the vessel and actually start affecting the world around us.”

“Interesting,” Molly said. “How do you know about them?”

“My village was the home of an Eidolon,” Kris said. “We grew up knowing that perhaps one of us would be chosen to be her vessel, once her current vessel had decided to retire. That happened when I was only 18, and I was chosen.” She paused. “It was a grand ceremony, but rest assured, it did not make me special in a good way. When you serve an Eidolon, even a kind one like in our village, you give up everything that you thought you would do in your life.”

“Why?” Brynna asked. “That was something I never understood. Especially for your Eidolon.”

“Especially for the Eidolon I serve,” Kris said. “It has to do with the travel. It’s hard to travel where you are needed if you have a family, or a job that isn’t portable.” She shrugged. “Can you imagine having to drop everything if you have a babe in arms? Or a shop that needs to be watched?”

“But aren’t you building a store here?” Molly said. “Doesn’t that interfere?”

“Not this time,” Kris said. “The reason I’m here is because the village that I used to live in, that the Eidolon used to rest in, is gone. So we need a new home base, and the Snow Queen was kind enough to let us settle here.”

“What is the Eidolon you serve, if you don’t mind my asking?” Molly said.

Kris’ blue eyes twinkled. “Sure, and do you really have to ask, child? What do you think?”

Molly’s answer was drowned out by the thundering of feet coming down the stairs, and moments later, the kitchen was invaded by hungry children.

“It’s still snowing! Can we play in the snow after breakfast?” Kaylee asked. “I’m hungry!”

“We still need to get to the library!” her older sister reminded her. “Then we can play.”

“I doubt the library will be open today,” Brynna said, glancing out the window. “I think you might be lucky if there’s anything going on outside today. Except for getting you guys home. But let’s see what I have for breakfast.”

We have a Molly, Schrodinger said, yawning a bit. We’re fine.

(advent) Thursday, December 13

Molly? Do you have a minute?

“I always have time for you,” Molly said, turning from the dishwasher and smiling down at Schrodinger, who had come in to the kitchen quietly. Her smile faltered when she saw the droop of his ears and tail. “What’s wrong? Are you feeling okay?”

You and Drew would tell me if you didn’t want me to live with you anymore, wouldn’t you?

The tone of his voice broke her heart. Molly knelt down and hugged him to her. “We would, but that day will never come,” she said fiercely. “This is your home for as long as you want.”

He relaxed into her. Can I ask another question?

“Of course.”

What have you and Drew been talking about when you thought I wasn’t around?

Molly chuckled. “Trust you to sniff that out,” she said. “It’s a secret, but I trust you.” She whispered into his ear. “But you can’t tell anyone else,” she said at the end.

Schrodinger’s eyes were wide. Really?

“Really.” Molly nodded. “Are you ready for that?”

I can’t wait! Excitement had chased all the despair from his frame, and he put both his front paws on her shoulders. This is going to be the best!!!

“I hope so!” Molly said, hugging him again. “Feeling better now?”

Loads!

“Good, because I think I just heard Corrine’s jeep come into the yard,” Molly said, getting up. “I wonder if Zoey’s feeling better today?”

There was no Zoey or Aurora in the group that came into the kitchen, although Corrine said she should be out and about the next day. “Her fever is gone, but her mother wanted her to rest up,” Molly’s sister-in-law said. “You two ready to join us?”

“I just need my coat,” Molly said.

“Don’t forget the Advent calendar!” Kaylee said.

“It’s still at the bookstore, silly,” Molly said, tousling her blonde hair on the way. “We have to run an errand for Aunt Margie, so we’re going there first.”

“Grab your big boots,” Corrine said. “It’s snowing to beat the band on. I’m not sure how late we’re going to stay out tonight.”

Corrine hadn’t been lying. Small flakes fell with determination, making their lights all but useless. “I wonder if we should cancel,” Molly said softly, looking out the window.

“We’ll see,” Corrine said. “I know how much they want to do this.”

“Yes, but not if it’s dangerous.”

Aunt Margie said the same thing when they got into the bookstore. “I’m surprised you folks came out,” she said. “It looks like this snow is going to park itself over the Cove and not move for a few days.”

“We couldn’t not come!” Kaylee said. “We need to do the Advent calendar!” Schrodinger, Lily, Jack, and Gideon all nodded in agreement at that.

“Well, I’d do it quickly,” her great-aunt said. “Soon they’ll probably close the roads.”

Molly’s eyes widened. “Really? They don’t normally do that.”

“Hudson just announced it over WCOV,” Aunt Margie said. “So unless you’re planning on taking a magic sleigh, I’d hurry it up.”

Molly ushered them in to the kitchen. “Let’s go, let’s go!”

As if the kitten had sensed their urgency, he was already moving into the hall that connected the conservatory to something that looked something like a kitchen, except minus the stoves. There were two huge sinks, though, and a large cabinet that held china dishes and mug. It wasn’t a large room, but even here, where it looked like the household did nothing but wash dishes, there was a garland of greenery strung around the edge of the ceiling, and a candle with a little bunch of holly burned on the windowsill. The little cat jumped up on a stool and then peered into the sink.

“Don’t get wet! Or break the dishes!” Gideon said quickly.

Luckily, the kitten didn’t jump all the way in. Instead, he dipped a paw in, as if he were stirring whatever was in there. A huge soap bubble came up from the sink and popped as if it were poked.

“Be careful! You have an interesting trip ahead of you!” Then, the smoke words swirled together and shot out of the calendar, into the kitchen and then out the kitchen door.

“Follow it!” Lily shouted, and they did. It didn’t go very far, either. It stopped right at the counter where DC was standing with a large box, and burst into sparkles above her head.

What are you sending, DC? Schrodinger asked.

“Nothing,” DC said, grinning at them. “But you guys have volunteered to take these over to the library for their giving tree!”

“What’s a giving tree?” Kaylee asked.

“You’ll find out when you get there!” DC said, and hefted the box. “Let me bring this out to the car for you.”

Once they were back in the Jeep and buckled in, Corrine steered out into the road. The snow seemed to be annoyed that they were out, and Molly could barely see in front of them. She looked at her sister-in-law. “Maybe we should head home instead?”

Corrine bit her lip as they moved through the curtain of falling snow. “Well, we’re heading that way,” she said finally. “If we need to, we’ll stop at the house and you guys can…”

Look out!

Jack’s warning bark echoed in the jeep’s interior as another car loomed out of the storm and nearly hit them. Corrine wrenched on the wheel and the big vehicle ended up in a snow bank.

“Is everyone okay?” Molly asked, twisting around to see the kids and animals in the back seat.

We’re okay, Schrodinger assured her. We were all buckled in. Who was that?

“I don’t know, but they didn’t stop,” Corrine said grimly, putting her flashers on. “And I think we might be stuck.” She put the jeep in reverse, and sighed as the wheels spun. “Never mind think. We are stuck.”

“Oh no!” Molly said, pulling her phone out of her pocket. “Well, I guess we should call someone with a sleigh.” She looked out the window. They were about 3/4 of a mile from the store, but walking in the storm would be just as dangerous. “I wonder if Pavel will come get us.”

But no one picked up at Brynna and Paul’s. Molly was dialing the Station when all of a sudden Kaylee said, “I hear bells!”

“I bet it’s Old Man Winter!” Lily said excitedly. “He’s coming to save us!”

There was indeed bells coming, and moments later, two huge reindeer heads loomed out of the storm. But it wasn’t Old Man Winter driving the sleigh. Instead, Kris looked down at them and said, “Sure, and this is a mess. Would you like a lift?”

(advent) Tuesday, December 11

Tuesday, December 11

Come on, Molly! Schrodinger danced around the kitchen, anxious to be off. We’re going to be late!

Molly laughed at him as she pulled her coat on. “We can’t be late, silly,” she said. “They have to wait for us to get to anywhere else! Besides, we have everything they need to finish the surprise!”

That was true enough, Schrodinger had to admit. The special supplies they had picked up after picking out their trees yesterday were safely stowed in the back of Molly’s Jeep. But still! I can’t wait!

“Me either,” Molly agreed, following him out on to the porch. “They are going to be so surprised.”

It was a glorious bright afternoon, the kind of winter day with a sky so blue it stretched forever, and every snowflake sparkled in the bright light. A sharp wind, smelling of pine and snow and crisp cold, made the ribbons on the wreaths that Molly and Schrodinger had hung on the railings of the porch dance. He could taste the faintest bit of sea salt – even inland, you could smell the sea in Carter’s Cove. Schrodinger dashed across the yard and waited impatiently for her to reach him so she could open the front door.

Hudson was playing Christmas carols on WCOV, the radio station for Carter’s Cove, and Molly and Schrodinger sang along at the tops of their lungs as they drove into town to pick up the others. By the time they pulled into Molly’s traditional parking spot behind the bookstore, she was fully into the Christmas spirit.

Which was good, because waiting for them inside the bookstore was not what they had expected at all.

“You are not going to get away with this!”

The words hit Molly like a sledgehammer, and she very nearly reeled backwards away from the speaker: an angry man with a towering beard that bristled threateningly at Kris, who looked supremely unconcerned.

“Sure, Nelson, and what should I be getting away with?” Kris countered. “It’s not as if it affects you at all, you know.”

Nelson’s face went even redder, and he swung around, looking for another target. His gaze fell on Molly. “Do you know what this woman means to do here?” He asked, stabbing an accusing finger at Kris.

“Move into the Cove and open a shop?” Molly said, looking at Kris. “Making a living?”

“A living?” Nelson shouted. “More like a dying! And the one dying will be this town! He glared back at Kris. “I won’t let you do it! I won’t!” And then he pushed past Molly and stomped out of the store.

“What was his problem?” Molly asked Kris.

Kris shook her head, the long grey braid swinging with the movement. “He’s an unhappy man, is Nelson. His is a long, sad story, and I’ve no wish to go over it now. Not at Christmas. Some folks just can’t move on.”

Did he live in a town you lived in? Schrodinger asked, coming up to her. Is that why he doesn’t like you?

Kris leaned down and stroked Schrodinger’s ears. “We knew each other a long time ago, in a place that doesn’t exist except in our memories. And while I’ve learned to put those into the past, not everyone has. Some day, Nelson will have to own up to the fact that our village is gone, and then he will be forced to deal with the present, instead of obsessively going over the past.” She sighed. “I can only hope that it is sooner, rather than later. Perhaps this place will be good for him.”

If any place can be, it would be here! Schrodinger agreed. This is an amazing town to live in!

“Sure, and it is.” Kris smiled. “Molly, I realize it is your day off, but may I bother you for a bit about tea?”

“Of course!” Molly said, leading the way in to the kitchen. “We’re waiting for the others to get here anyways. How can I help?”

Kris followed her in, and took the seat that Molly offered. “I’m looking for a good tea to leave in a crock pot, for a party. Something that will appeal to a wide range of people, but will be okay to sit.”

Molly frowned thoughtfully. “Are you thinking of a black tea, or an herbal?”

“I don’t know.” Kris spread her hands. “I bow to your expertise.”

“Wait here.” Molly moved into the pantry, already running scenarios in her head. Not a black tea, she mused. An herbal is more forgiving to sitting, and that means that everyone can have some. Perhaps a mix on cider – there’s that spiced apple tea that would be lovely.

She chose a few tins from the shelf and brought them back into the kitchen to find her new friend examining the Advent calendar, Schrodinger at her side.

“And it brings you magical gifts?” Kris was saying.

Sometimes. Mostly it brings us things to do, and it’s loads of fun! Schrodinger said. I can’t wait to see what we’re doing today!

“You are lucky indeed to have such friends that give you such things,” Kris said admiringly. “Perhaps one day I too shall have that kind of friend.” She looked over at Molly. “What have you found for me?”

“I think this would be best, especially if you put it into an apple cider,” Molly said. “I’m going to mix a few of my herbal teas together for you, and then you can float it in the crock pot.” She pulled out a bowl, and then an empty tea tin, and got to work. It was a simple task, and soon she handed the tin to Kris. “Just use a quarter of a cup of the tea mixture to the crock pot,” she said. “It would be best if you put the herbs into a square of cheesecloth or muslin, and then tie it up. Easier than a tea ball, and you won’t get the weird metallic taste in the cider.”

“That’s perfect!” Kris beamed as she accepted the tin. “How much do I owe you?”

“Nothing,” Molly said. “Consider it a welcome to the Cove gift.”

“Then you must come to my party!” Kris said. “All of you!” She looked at the children who had just trooped in. “You will, won’t you?”

“A party? Of course!” Kaylee said. “When is it?”

“December 19 is the date I’m planning,” Kris said. “So I can open the store before Christmas.”

“Oooh,” Lily said. “That sounds awesome!” She looked at Molly. “We can go, can’t we?”

“As long as your parents say so, I don’t see why not,” Molly said. She looked at her regular calendar. “It’s a Wednesday, so I’ll be here, but I’m sure I can stop over at some point, and you guys will be out of school by then.”

“Yay!” Gideon said, and he grabbed Kaylee’s hands, the two of them whirling around in glee. “I love parties!”

“Guys, guys, come on, we need to see what the Advent calendar is having us do today!” Zoey said, giggling a little at the antics of the younger children. Then she turned to Kris. “Would you like to help us?”

“Absolutely!” Kris said. “What do we do?”

“We watch,” Lily said, and pointed to the little cat, who was sitting on the stairs, obviously waiting for them. “What are we doing today, kitten?”

He jumped to his feet and trotted down the stairs and then through the hall, stepping into a back garden that was coated with snow. There was a Christmas tree out here, decked with long strings of cranberries and popcorn. Suet balls shaped like bells and gingerbread men hung on it, along with apples, and the top of the tree had a nest, with a beautiful red cardinal perched on the edge, his beak close to the beak of his mate, who sat within the nest.

“Oh, what a pretty tree!” Zoey said. “I love how it’s for the birds and animals! Just like we planned for Indi!”

It’s like he knew! Schrodinger said. I wonder how the Snow Queen knew what we were going to do!

“She’s the Snow Queen,” Molly reminded him.

The little cat had sniffed the tree and then gone over to the big snowman that someone had built. The snowman had a jaunty red scarf tied around his neck, and a big black top hat, with a sprig of holly tucked into the hat band. A pipe was stuck into his smiling face, and his bright eyes were bricks of charcoal that sparkled with magic and mischief. As they watched, he leaned over to the cat and patted its head with one mittened hand, then looked up and out, and raised his hat politely to them. The expected smoke came out of the hat, and formed the words, “Remember that this is the season to help others. And have fun!”

“Sure, and isn’t that amazing,” Kris said, as the smoke came out of the calendar. It wrapped around each child, and as they watched, it dropped suet stars into their hands.

“Thank you, calendar!” the children chorused, and then turned to Molly.

“Do you think Indi will like it?” Lily asked.

“I do!” Molly said. “Did you guys bring your skates?”

“Mom said she’d meet us there with it,” Zoey said. “So let’s go!”

A return to (hopefully) normalacy (personal/spiritual/writing)

It’s been an interesting couple of weeks, and it’s kind of thrown me for a loop, which is why I haven’t been posting. Another death (and goddess, how I hate typing those words) disrupted everything. I re-set myself a bit by doing some coifs to help out a friend and sent them off, and by helping my niece and nephew get married, and now I’m ready to start again. As I’ve been reminded lately, time is a river – we move in one direction. Even if we feel like we’re stuck somewhere, we’re still moving. And sometimes, you just have to go with the flow until you feel like you can swim again. 

For those who may have missed it – the second Molly book is out! 

I’ve also been listening to books lately – I just finished Derelict: Marines by Paul E. Cooley, and I’m almost done with Libery Station by Terry Mixon (yes, I’m on a SF kick lately), and that’s made me realize that I need to write again. So, we’re writing. I want to have Winter Mysteries done before NaNo starts, so I can work on something new for November. And no, I really haven’t decided what. I might just work on either Blue or Abby and see which one takes off.

I’m preparing for winter, too. I know how weird that sounds, when it’s still August and technically summer, but I’m moving myself into a more pagan mindset, and since Lammas is already past (August 1), we’re in the harvest festivals. It’s fall, and we’re moving towards when the earth settles back and rests before growing again in the spring. Many pagans use Samhain (October 31) as their new year, and I’ve decided to do that as well this year. My winter will be a time of resting, of planning for the energy of the spring, of enjoying a quiet time. I’m not going to be going at the same speed I do during the summer. I’m learning to live in harmony with the seasons.

There may be more pagan-type stuff in the blog as I work through this. I know not all my readers are pagan, so I will be tagging things again in the header. If you are not interested, feel free to skip those posts. But this is something I need to discover about myself, and work through, and, well, it’s my blog. You’re welcome to come along for the ride. 

Weekly news round-up, the slightly late edition

So yeah, it’s been a few weeks. First I had an eye infection, complete with an ulcerated cornea, which meant absolutely no screen time. Then I went away to GNEW and was busy taking down my pavilion and driving home, so there was no posting. I meant to do it Monday, but I woke up with a migraine and, well. Yeah. So it’s been a while.

 

Today, I am the only one at Creatives. It’s a rainy day, and I’m enjoying the Acoustic Covers playlist on Sp0tify, and reveling in the fact that I don’t have a migraine. I have a chai latte with almond milk, an iced raspberry green tea, and, for the first time in a LONG time, a workable plot for Advent this year! YAY!

 

You guys, you have no idea how happy I am to have a plot. Carter’s Cove is easily my most popular story, but it’s HARD to write. Plot-wise, anyways. Because see, bodies and violence and save the world are easy to plot. It’s the fluffy, feel-good but not be total sugar because that’s boring stuff that is hard.

 

I’m also going back on a mini-reset this week – doing a Whole10 with my Facebook group. I need to get back on the wagon, and this seems the best way to do it. Also, I’m adding in a fitness goal, because I want to get my stamina up. Also, I need to get more Pokemon. Because, well, Pokemon won’t walk themselves.

 

Since I haven’t been posting, I’m going to just start my goals over.

 

Oh, and I finished Hope Never Dies and I have to write a review. Mini review: I loved it. I also saw Ant Man and the Wasp yesterday. Go see it – it’s fun.

 

Morning Pages: Going for all 7 days, per normal.

Non-writing goals: 1 more coif made for Her Highness for Pennsic. I want to do 2 more if I can, but the goal is 1. Also, 2+ hours on Conri’s trim. I’ve got 1 cuff for that done, and need 1 more cuff, the neckline, 2 sides, and the hem.

Writing goals: Plot out Advent this week. I can do this long-hand.

Fitness goals: Make my step goal (currently 3500 steps per day) all 7 days.

(personal/writing/updates) The Weekly World Review, 2 weeks version

Sorry that this is late, but I’m getting over an eye infection AND an eye ulcer (in the same eye), so last week my computer use was limited. I even had to take 2 days off of work, which sucked. Oh well. The eye is healing nicely, and it doesn’t hurt to look at anything with a lit screen anymore, which is the important part. Apparently Crohns’ patients are prone to eye infections, which I am just learning about. Yay, compromised immune system! When you get this kind of thing, you get not one, but TWO medications to drip into your eye. I’m a fun person at the moment. At least I don’t look like I’m detoxing from a 4-day meth bender anymore.

 

But it put a cramp in my writing, my work, and pretty much everything other than listening to audiobooks. So I start this week over again, with new goals.

 

This week is also Great Northeastern War, which I will be going to. This is my final vacation of the year (and my only camping event, sadly), so I’m making the most of it. K-J and I are going up mid-week, and taking our time. Bear and Tayla are unimpressed, especially since we’ve actually reminded the landlords that no, they really don’t get handfuls of treats at a time anymore. If you hear howls, it’s from them.

This Week’s Goals:

Morning Pages: Going for all 7 days again. Sunday to Saturday, and not let the vacation derail me. I’m almost done with my first notebook! I’ll have to dig a new one out of my stash.

Writing Goals: Taking a bit of a break to let some noodling about Advent go on in my head. I think this week, I’m going to work on Lily and Spike, and a new Sapph short story. Both can be done long hand, and I don’t need the computer.

Non-Writing Goals: Finish Rachel’s bag, and then bring the cross-stitching for Brewcie’s coat, and washcloths to knit for Kris. I also want to make myself a lunch bag, but I don’t know if that will happen this weekend. It might.

 

I hope you guys had a great 4th of July, and I’ll see you in a bit!