California was rain. At turns soft and steady and other times torrential, filling the concave places curbside with wide lakes the color of coffee, to be splashed at unsuspecting passer-by as cars churned passed.California was palm trees and bougainvilleas and trumpet flowers and a wild abundance of deciduous trees still with golden leaves even in early December, the sidewalks strewn with flecks of yellow like so many fallen stars. It was a trip on the tail-end of the stomach flu; it was dizziness at the airports and sleeping in uncomfortable positions on the plane, and all of it was worth it to see my dearest friends with new babies, and to do a reading in a beautiful loft, celebrating my book with the people who knew me when I was who I was then: a California girl, back in high school, with windy hair and a crooked-toothed smile. I hadn't seen some of them in 16 years, but seeing them again felt familiar in the way riding a bike is familiar after not riding for years. You just know. You remember. There is body memory to the hugs; and a timber and depth to the laughter. It was the first time, really, that I felt myself reveling, a little bit, in the accomplishment of writing a book. It was a lovely way to wind the season down: seeing my book in the hands of friends and loved ones. And now I'm back, with rain here too at the end of this dirt road. The warmest winter we've had here in my memory; the ground still soft and the air sweet with decomposing leaves and ozone as the wind blows in and the clouds lift, revealing the cerulean bowl above. In the morning, the boys run down the hall to find what the Advent Fairy has brought. She slips into our house on fairy wings, bringing special notes and tiny gifts; and after dinner the boys write loving notes to her: Bean, with uneven printing and phonetically spelling and a zillion questions about her wings and adventures and magical names; and Sprout, who has just learned to write the letters of his name, practices them gleefully on snippets of colored construction paper that he carefully cuts. There are just a handful of days really; two weeks exactly before we slip away again for a holiday adventure as a family. And between now and then a hundred things, the least of which is laundry--though it's taking over our lives. I can't remember the last time it was all folded and put away; still every night we have dinner together and over shrimp tacos with lime and mango, T and I laugh and listen and map our future--here, and then somewhere beyond here--and then the laundry doesn't really matter at all. Instead what matters is going to bed early, the warm coffee-colored fur of the dog against my hand, silverware standing like soldiers in tidy rows in the dishwasher to be cleaned, and plotting creative collaborations with friends. Here's a peak at some new work. Nothing makes me happier lately than having a brush in my hand. How have you been? What does this time of year look like for you?