It’s beginning to feel a lot like…prom season. I bought three prom magazines for the library, and just about every girl has thumbed through them at least once trying to plan the perfect night. I remember when my three girls were so afflicted, only they were very thoughtful. As daughters of a true bargain hunter, they took pride in finding the cheapest prom dresses and accessories on the east coast. One of my daughters organized with her friends and together they got themselves a Rockstarz Limousine & Party Bus, which I am still hearing about. They knew that the outfit, just like a wedding dress, would probably only be worn once. The youngest found a gorgeous brand new Hawaiian-print cheongsam for ten bucks in a resale shop! Anticipation was usually more fun than the actual prom itself anyway. I’ve found sometimes the more excited you get about something, the less fun you have.

New Year’s Eve used to be the worst night ever before I met my husband. Inevitably I’d get all gorgeous only to have a fight with my date. But the prep time with the teasing, hairspray, high heels and false eyelashes was always fun.

Several years ago, we took a trip to England. I’d done my research beforehand, and I was determined to see an estate called Athelhampton in Dorset. I mean, I was salivating. The day we arrived at the gates, the property was closed to the public because they were hosting a charity event. I was crushed. I mumbled to myself my expectations were probably too high anyway—just like prom and New Year’s Eve, I was bound to be disappointed.

But the next day, my husband and oldest daughter insisted we try again. Oh my. For once my ideals and reality collided into perfect harmony. The house itself was a wonderful treasure trove, but the elaborate gardens were what really caught my fancy. I pictured my heroes and heroines strolling the avenues, inhaling the scent of roses, listening to the rushing river. The Great Court with its awesome yew pyramids truly was great. I’m sure there are more historic or important houses and gardens in England, but Athelhampton will always be special to me because it was even better than I imagined.

What have you looked forward to that didn’t turn out quite the way you expected? What surpassed your wildest dreams?

Any prom night horror stories? I know Santa has one in her book! My spaghetti strap broke. Oh, the horror.

How do you feel about the AAR’s “most disappointing book” category? What new releases are you craving? I’d risk my ladylike reputation to get my hands on Loretta Chase’s latest Not Quite A Lady.

April 8-14 is National Garden Week. We still have snow here, but that’s another story. Here’s a shout-out to my middle daughter, who is a professional gardener extraordinaire. The estate gardens she’s designed have been on the Islesboro Garden Tour, and she planted a wonderful perennial garden for me one Mother’s Day, a gift that kept on giving until we moved. Sigh.