The halls have been decked!
And no children, or Left Brains were injured in the process!

We are not finished with the outside lights yet, because of course one strand insisted on having 8 burned out lights right smack dab in the middle, so I can't promise that I will have a perfect patience record just yet.    It's funny how I must wait until December 1st to decorate for Christmas; any earlier and I just feel like the Season is rushed, or forced upon me.  But once that calendar flips over...  All The Joy Now!

I even made a few festive changes here on the blog just for you.   Nothing too fancy; just a little bit of jolly to show even if I will argue for 3 hours that if you put coloured lights on one tree in front of the house, you cannot put white lights on the tree beside.  amiright people? do indeed have the Spirit of Christmas.

We still don't have any of that fluffy white stuff yet.   Just some freezing rain that did keep the kids home from school one day.  So I had an impromptu party with friends and their kids here.
Didn't really occur to me at the time, that if they were driving their kids to my house -- they probably could have just as easily driven them to school.   Whoops!
Oh well, it's good to have days like that.   It's good for the spirit too.

With these warm temperatures, I am not feeling the urge to escape somewhere more southern and warmer this year.    Well, until I open my writing journal that is.

Mike. Callie.
I just can't quit you.
And I hope that you're beginning to feel the same about each other.

To catch up on the story:   One,   TwoThree , Four Five

Once again, I am so thrilled that I will collaborating with the wonderful blogger, friend and amazing photographer Claudia over at imagesbyCW.  All images are courtesy of her today.

The boy ran down the beach, sending birds and other smaller creatures scurrying out of his reckless path.  He ran into the shallow water, then back up onto the beach, a quick turn of his body, and back out in to the water.   Mike chuckled as he thought of a balloon’s erratic flight once you let go, and all the air zooms out. Hard to catch, and even harder to hold. It’s path completely unpredictable.
The thought caused a slight squeeze in his chest.  He pushed those thoughts aside, intent on enjoying the day with his nephew.  The sun was a big, bald head of bright in the sky above.  The water calm as barely a breeze stirred the palm trees lining the beach.  Perfect day for fishing.  Down the distant shore line he saw a lone man waiting at the water’s edge, a rope line attached to a small boat held in his grasp.  The other hand stretched high in greeting.  Waving his own hand, Mike leaped forward to scoop up his nephew once more before he launched himself into the water. He saved a small crab that scurried sideways out of their way, but not his own clothing.
Shaking the water droplets from his form, his laughter joining Edan’s; he made his way down the beach to the waiting man.          

 I can see right to the bottom Mike!!! Mike!  Mike, look!!!”         

The boy leaned dangerously over the side to get a closer look, forcing Mike to lean the opposite way to keep their small vessel from tipping over.  The other man barely budged, only a smile registered on his face.  
Mike, Seriously – LOOK!!”
Edan, if I lean over with you, we will FOR sure get a really, really close …. And WET look.”   

Still, he leaned slightly over his own side of the boat, in truth amazed at how crystal clear the water shone.  He could easily count the fish that swam below their boat, and even the ones that tried to hide in its’ shadow on the ocean floor.  Yeah, count all the fish below, and easily the ones in the boat too.  That would be a big, fat Zero.  Mike chuckled to himself certain that the ever constant stream of excited chatter coming from Edan had probably scared the fish away.  The box of worms lay open to the sun’s heat, several slimy bodies had already ceased their wriggling.  The boys’ voice still continued in an excited monologue of all that could be seen, and how “Awesome” the day was going, and could they have French fries here with the fish they caught?
Though the restless night of remembering had left Mike feeling rather exhausted and slightly morose today, the hours passed with his delighted nephew were doing wonders for his spirit.  They had already imagined themselves to be Pirates searching for buried treasure.  Or lost sailors who had taken their chances on the open sea, after being stranded for years on a deserted island.  They had sang songs, and wondered if Mermaids really existed and do you think one would really save you from drowning just like Ariel did to Eric?   The old seaman who was their fishing guide informed the young boy that actually, Mermaids were often feared as it was believed they would lead sailors to their doom!  Edan was suitably wide eyed and impressed with his tales of mermaids who used their lyrical voices to lure men out to sea; and to their inevitable end.   Or well-intentioned men who saw a lady drowning in the harsh waves of the sea, and diving into rescue them, met their own Fate. While the unknowing mermaid swam away, oblivious to what her charms had wrought.
Mike smiled at each story, and did his best to ignore any parallels to modern women he might have known who seemed to have similar intentions.   It was difficult to remain in his dark mood, with the contagious joy of his nephew circling around them.  The lyrics of a song he used to hear on his mother’s radio came back to him:
It's not far to never-never land, no reason to pretend
And if the wind is right you can find the joy of innocence again
Oh, the canvas can do miracles, just you wait and see
Sail Away.
If only it were so easy.  Just set adrift and leave all your worries and strife behind.  Raise up the yellow flag, keep others away, and never set foot on land again.  Just leave it all behind.   The hurt.  The disappointment.  The loss.  Turn your back on... 
The sun shone on Edan’s smiling face, his words still stretching out across the waves and pushing back anything that might steal away his joy….
everything you love.   Your very heart.
Broken as it is.  
It’s amazing that love could come so softly.  Sweetly.  Sneaking into the very depths of your soul and becoming the very thing you never knew you wanted.  Or needed.  And everything seems so clear – like looking at Life through a glass bottom boat.  All your treasures within sight and easy reach.   Just grab hold and don’t let go.   Yet, so much of the time it was also confusing and scary and tricky navigation, and most of the time it never worked out.   Storms arose out of nowhere.
What was the difference?   Why was his love for Edan so easy and simple a thing, while he and Angie were torn apart by a single moment in time?  The difference of that one matter becoming a looming gap between them that could never be crossed?    Watching his nephew he couldn’t imagine ever not loving him.  Not matter what he did; that love would stick.  Why couldn’t he forgive Angie?  Why did his heart close up and shut her out?
Staring thoughtfully into the depths, while Edan still happily chattered beside him, his line all but forgotten as it bobbed on the waves, a shadow passed above.   Looking skyward Mike and the sailor both took note of the gathering, and darkening clouds.   The boy was oblivious, his eyes focused on the sights below.

Nothing steals his joy, Mike thought.   How does he do that?

He doesn’t compare his experiences; he just Is in them.   It’s enough.  Comparison is the thief of Joy.

The thought came so suddenly, he was momentarily taken aback.   And in the same span of the moment, he realized the truth contained in that single moment of clarity.   He was comparing his life.  Constantly.   With himself.  With others.  Before Angie.  With Angie.  After Angie.  The life where he was almost …. something more than he was today.   And his NOT being that something more, he placed the blame solely at her feet.
If he wanted to be more, why did he stay with someone who was content with Less?  Why did he have to love her, when this terrible bitterness and brokenness was the only result?
Be Enough. 
He didn’t know what that meant.  The idea wriggled around his mind, but much like their poor fishing results today, he couldn’t quite catch hold.  Couldn’t reel it into the confused and unsteady vessel that was his mind lately.  
Edan’s talking briefly paused, as he noted the furrowed brow and clenched jaw of his uncle.    Despite what the adults thought, he had noticed the darkening skies, and he wondered if that was the cause for his uncle’s present concern.  But if so, what was it that bothered Uncle Mike all the other times he noted that grimaced face?  
Uncle Mike really needs to have more fun, Edan thought to himself.  He has been so sad since breaking up with that pretty, nice girl Angie.  Edan’s own brow creased briefly as his young mind wondered why they were not dating any longer.  Uncle Mike had seemed so happy.  He always had this goofy look on his face when he was with her.  Edan shook his head – hoping he never was like that over some girl! 
Still, his young mind noted the difference of before and after; much like his uncle was currently wrestling within his own mind.     
Maybe he just needs a new girlfriend, Edan thought to himself.   Shielding his eyes from the glare of the sun upon the water, he noticed that the old seaman had slowly and steadily been guiding them back to the shore.  Looking past the swimmers, Edan noted a familiar form in a balanced posed just to the edge of the beach.
He smiled softly and glanced at his uncle, who now simple sat quietly in his seat, reeling in his fishing line, and casting glances up at the still darkening sky.
It was just about sunset. Perfect timing. They were not too late.
And Edan knew just how to show his gratitude.   He almost tested his new word out loud – he liked the way it sounded in his mind.  But, he didn’t want to give himself away.  So, for the first time since he had woken his uncle that very morning, Edan sat still in his seat; listening to the silence, praying the calm would hold. 

I don't know Edan; those clouds don't look very promising!  
I do hope they make it back in time to beat the storm... and share a little gratitude of their safe return with someone who may just also be keeping one eye on the darkening skies. 
Even though she seems the very picture of calm herself.

Stay Tuned to see if stormy weather keeps these two apart.  

Have a great weekend!