Is it possible to have a hangover of joy? I think so, because I've got one. I had such a wonderful time last weekend. Annie and Olivia picked me up after work on Friday for a mini-road trip to Ft. Smith to see our friend Scarlett, who recently moved up there.
Olivia has always been a joy to travel with. We took her on a much longer road trip to Dallas when she was still a crawling baby, and she was never a moment of trouble. At 4, she's an even more entertaining companion. During the trip up, she was busy watching videos, so Anne and I got caught up a bit on our news and gossip. And joy is the only word to describe Olivia's reaction when she caught sight of her Aunt Scarlett after weeks' absence.
Scarlett's new apartment is cheerful and spacious, yet cozy. So comfy. I felt spoiled as soon as we arrived. We got in so late that, after a little visiting, we were all ready for a snooze. But we were up raring to go on Saturday.
Scarlett and Olivia went out for donuts--donuts in pajamas are a Saturday ritual for the wee one and her daddy, so Aunt Scarlett filled in. Then what a day. We hit the award-winning ladies' room at the Ft. Smith airport first. (See casserole's blog for full-color photos memorializing our tour.) Then downtown Van Buren--an 1890s restoration that reminded us of a mini Eureka Springs. I lucked into $2.50 pillow shams to coordinate with my new quilt, and we all stocked up on honey, preserves, and molasses at the Honey House, where we stopped to let Olivia see the transparent, working hive. Then downtown Ft. Smith, which seemed oddly but only vaguely familiar from my childhood, pre-freeway trips to Oklahoma. We passed Miss Laura's Social Club (which was what it sounds like it was) and paused at a small arcade with a ferris wheel and merry-go-round. We'd hoped to give Miss O a spin, but nothing was operating. (She was amazingly cheerful about that. At her age, I think I would have had a tantrum of disappointment.) Then Scarlett introduced us to her latest Mexican restaurant find--great food, great prices, and handsome, friendly waiters. What could be better. Olivia treated us to ice cream for dessert at McDonald's on her very own gift card, and we chatted while she ran off a little steam in the playland.
Then we headed off into the middle of nowhere to find Mama's Log House, a quilter's candy store. Evidently, it's a popular haunt among locals who are in the know. I wanted to lie down on the counters and roll around in the fabric. In fact, I went a little crazy. It's been years since I went joy shopping in a fabric store. We've been batting around the idea of attempting fabric collages--quilts without the quilt part--and I jumped at this chance to prepare. Here's a photo of my haul. Not pictured is a stack of charms--1930s repro dot prints--and a biggo spool of metallic silver thread.
We also worked in a couple of short driving tours--a gorgeous area of older homes, Scarlett's new workplace (which is in a spectacular setting), the Janet Huckabee nature preserve, and parts of old Fort Chaffee near Scarlett's apartment, including some areas that are being developed into residential subdivisions.
Olivia never lost her sense of humor through all this, constantly coming up with new stories and songs and games, mostly revolving around the baby-bird persona she'd adopted for the day. She kept me laughing and laughing. The grown-ups were worn out by the time we got back to the apartment that evening, but Olivia was still going strong. So she helped me make a pot of potato soup for supper (a chance to treat Scarlett a little bit). And then we all settled down and watched The Nanny Diaries.
We hit Panera for coffee and breakfast the next morning before we headed back to Little Rock. It was hard to leave, but I've always heard that's the mark of a great party. And this was a great one, indeed. Here's hoping there will be another big-girl slumber party soon.
Thank you Scarlett, Annie, and Olivia. Y'all are the best!