Sunday, October 3, 2010

Because You Got To Have Friends: Laurita & Alan

Those damned Canadians: Laurita Miller, Alan W. Davidson and me.

Where do I begin?
I don't know. I really don't. Nothing I can write will do this justice. 
It's the kind of thing I really need to talk to you about in person. You could put on a pot of coffee, I could spill some, we could pull up chairs around your kitchen table and we could just chat, y'know? Chat ... and chat ... and chat .... 
Cause that's what happened. Three strangers, who weren't strangers at all, hanging out and talking; talking like they were banning talking soon; talking like there was no tomorrow... and there wasn't. Not really. There was one day. One opportunity. One truly remarkable occasion.
Where the magic happens: Alan at his desk.
On Friday, I hung out with two of the most popular, most well respected, most talented writers on the #fridayflash circuit: Laurita Miller and Alan W. Davidson. 
You know them from their work: Alan is the grey fox of blogland, Canada's Country Gentleman, the friendly charmer who always has something funny or something interesting or something scary to say at his blog, Conversations From Land's Edge. This is one of my favourite Alan stories: A Tale of Love, Misfortune and Nasty Wee Dogs.
Laurita is all homespun magic, as warm and welcoming and human a writer as there ever has been. She says she loves writing horror but my favourite Laurita stories are rich with details about family, about love and about her Newfoundland heritage. She blogs at Brain Droppings. This is one of my favourite Laurita tales: it's very, very short, but like a perfect chocolate truffle, it's all you need. It's called Dancing.

Laurita at her desk, laughing. She does that a LOT!
I've been chatting back and forth with Laurita and Alan for some time. Maybe because we're all Canadian and all kind of in the minority when it comes to #fridayflash. Not sure why, exactly, but both are on my e-mail list and I "talk" to them fairly regularly; especially Alan, who sends me an e-mail at work every once in a while just to see if I'm awake. Usually I am but sometimes a dose of Alan is just the spark I need to keep going.
A Mummer!
When Dave and I started planning our honeymoon we knew we wanted to stay in Canada. At first we were just going to go camping for a week: maybe to Algonquin Park to chill and watch the leaves change. Then we thought about traveling - it's not something we ever do. I mean, ever. Sure, we're always going somewhere but it's never too far away from home. We decided, what the heck, let's make our honeymoon memorable, a once-in-a-lifetime adventure, so we picked a place neither of us had ever been: Newfoundland. Once we decided on the spot, I realized I had a unique opportunity to meet Laurita & Alan. As many flashers are wont to say: SQUEEEE!!!!
We met Alan first. That sweetie-pie actually took a day off from work so he could give Dave and I a personal tour of St. John's.
I was a little nervous about meeting him; mostly, I was just worried that I wouldn't measure up to his expectations. But I just knew he was gonna be great.
Alan and Dave at Cape Spear. This was the first of
MANY photos I took of these guys!
Sure enough, he was. As soon as I set eyes on that grey beard I just had to hug him. Wouldn't you? I mean, he's like a big, friendly grizzly bear. We popped in his mini-van and he drove us all over the darned place, from Cape Spear (the most eastern point in all of Canada) to Torbay, from a fishing village or two, to Laurita's house in Paradise.
Yes, Laurita lives in Paradise, which is about 20 minutes away from Alan's house in St. John's. The hilarious thing about them is they talked back and forth for a long time before figuring out they were practically neighbours. And think about this: there are very, very few Canadians who contribute to #fridayflash on a regular basis - and two of them live practically next door to each other! Since they met, Laurita and Alan have become pals. They go to the same writers' group and they even went shopping together to buy Dave and I a wedding present (a very cool "Mummers" figurine. For more Mummers stuff, visit the Twillingate Museum.) Thanks guys, we love it!
Laurita's youngest daughter whispers to get Mommy's attention.
I met two of Laurita's kids and they're both adorable.
Laurita also got a hug when I met her. There she was, on her front stoop, looking so young and adorable - how can you not hug her, too? 
The funny thing about Laurita, she's different than I imagined. I thought she'd be this willo-wisp of a girl, a slip, a silth, a girl made of mist, as ethereal as dreams. Just like her writing.
But no! Laurita is as grounded and earthy as they come. Dave just loves her. "What a sparkplug!" he said admiringly. And her accent, you should hear it! It's authentic Newfoundlander at its most adorable. 
Laurita drove us home that night but first she picked up another writer friend, Ellen, because she needed a ride, too. Ellen's accent was just as thick as Laurita's and me and Dave fairly bust a gut as Laurita drove through the city like a New York cab driver with her and Ellen talking about 'dis and 'dat and wot-ever, it was all jist as cute as a bug's ear. We felt like high schoolers tearing up the town and by geez I haven't felt like that for many years!
You may recognize some of the 'props' in this photo:
you've likely seen Alan's fisherman's hat;
you'll probably recognize Ginny's famous apron - it's
the one she used to lure Alan her way;
and that's their son Sean in the famous Davidson fez.
Alan, funnily enough has almost no accent at all! Maybe because he's "from away," as they say on The Rock. He's a Townie by way of London Ont. by way of British Columbia by way of Scotland. No wonder he sounds like a newscaster for the CBC - he's been so many places even his accent is confused!
Seriously, though, I was enamoured by Alan's voice. It's so soft and gentle and deep. I imagined he'd be raspy and rough, but his mellow voice matches his mellow demeanour - charming, every bit of it.
Of course they both say me and Dave have accents. If anything we stand out because we talk so boring. Locals hear us coming a mile away - we might as well have "tourist" stamped on our foreheads.
I can't begin to tell you all the things we chatted about through the day. I do know there were no uncomfortable silences, not for a moment. There didn't seem to be enough time for us to say all the things we wanted to say.
We hung out at Laurita's house for a while, met two of her children (adorable, cute as buttons) and her handsome husband, Jonathan. (Sorry if I spelled it wrong!) Funny thing is, me and Alan got looking at Jonathan  and Dave together and damned if they didn't look a LOT alike. I don't know what that says about me and Laurita other than we have incredible taste in men.
Alan's better half, fortunately, looks nothing like me and Laurita's. Ginny is a wee sprite of a woman, bubbly and effervescent, and an amazing cook. The Davidsons had Laurita, Dave and I over for supper and we thoroughly enjoyed the steaks Alan barbecued, Laurita's homemade Irish Soda Bread, onions sauteed by their son, Sean, baked potatoes, asparagus, Ginny's experimental and delicious carrot soup and, last but certainly not least, Ginny's INCREDIBLE homemade chocolate cheesecake. This was amazing cheesecake and I honestly can't believe I didn't take a picture of it. Trust me, though, it was delish.

Dave & Alan hanging in front of a gift shop.
When we were leaving, Alan told me to give him a call in the morning so we could get together for a coffee before heading down the road for the next part of our adventure.
But I didn't.
Why? I didn't want to ruin it... I mean, I don't think that would have happened, not by a long shot, but the day we all spent together was Perfect. It is framed in my mind like the most beautiful picture you could ever imagine. I wanted to keep it in that frame and treasure it.
Does that sound crazy?
But it sounds crazy to travel halfway across the country to meet people you don't know. And yet, when you meet, you feel like you've known them forever. They are like sisters or brothers, only closer. Siblings of the soul. We have so much in common.
The writing, sure, we talked about writing - and what a joy that was. To discuss it with such lively passion, with such pure enthusiasm. It puts a smile on my face just thinking about it. 
But we talked about everything: about blogging, about other flash writers, about our families, our histories, our lives. We laughed at the foibles of our children; we laughed at our embarrassments; we laughed because it felt good and it was easy, so easy, just to be together. And to laugh.
Oh Laurita, oh Alan. It was such a pleasure to meet you.
You are just as wonderful as I imagined you'd be.
Just as warm. Just as lovely. 
Afterwards, Alan tweeted to me and Laurita: "Let's do it again next weekend!"
Oh, I wish I could, my friend.
I wish I could.
Hugs and kisses to you both.


  1. "Siblings of the soul"

    What a beautiful line. Thanks for sharing your joyful adventure. I feel like I was there with you.

    *Big Hugs!*
    Karen :0)

  2. Oh this is so great. And I am so jealous!

    It truly is wonderful to meet cyber-buddies for real. Magical.

    Thanks for the peek into Alan and Laurita, two of my faves as well. Peace...

  3. I'm so glad I had the opportunity to meet you and Dave.

    I hope I can tear up the town again with you sometime...perhaps in daylight next time. The accent will probably be just as thick though. ;-)

    Laurita and Alan are the best!

  4. I am so glad you had a great time. I can tell by your writing how much fun it was for all of you. Maybe you can do it again next year.

  5. JEALOUS!!! In my imagination, I am sitting at that fourth chair eating an apple. I say nothing because I am completely at ease listening to you Canadians blab, blab, blab. Then Jeeves comes in and everything goes to hell.

    So glad you had fun. This was a beautifully written post that shows the joy and friendship between you all. If any of you are ever in Illinois...there will be absolutely nothing to do... but we have coffee.

  6. I love Laurita's spirit as she's laughing in Photo 3. I agree, it is great to have friends.

  7. Sounded like such a great time!!! Woulda loved to join you guys!

  8. Looks like you had an awesome time, Cathy. It's great to see blog friends meet up. I'd love to have been there. You should make it an annual trip.

    Regards, David.

  9. I'm so jealous! What an awesome adventure, being able to meet Laurita and Alan! Thanks for the photos (that yellow rain hat is my fav!).

  10. I can't even begin to describe the awesomeness of that day. Meeting you and Dave was such a treat. Two of the friendliest, sweetest people you'd ever want to know. I only wish we could do it every weekend.

    Big hugs to you guys. Enjoy your trip home. And don't forget to write.

  11. That's an awesome account of your day in St. John's. I love all the photos, but the one with Laurita and her daughter is particularly sweet.

    I'm glad that you've had a good time here on 'The Rock'.'re always welcome here, and bring your boys next time.

  12. A well-deserved amazing day for some very rare and special people. Love hearing about it, and seeing it. You should make it a yearly occasion!

  13. Cath, I'm glad you had a great time. Your pics are very good & your write-up just great. Miss you two. See you soon. Love Mom

  14. Jealous indeed! What a wonderful weekend you guys had, thanks so much for sharing. :)

  15. Loved this post. Of course I did! So jealous. Wish we could all have a big ole catchup in Newfoundland!

    Had to laugh at all the photos - I can imagine the giggle-filled art direction going on behind the scenes!

  16. Thanks for sharing this glimpse into Alan and Laurita's world - love the pics!

  17. Hi everyone! Thanks for all your comments! Dave and I are still on the road and only have intermittent internet service or I'd write more. But thanks - we really did have a great time. I honestly think we should have some sort of #fridayflash meeting of the minds, a convention, if you will. I volunteer my place - we have lots of room to put people up. Of course, y'all would have to come to Canada...

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