Its one of those days!

I’m busy the last three days of this week taking care of my grandson in Phoenix. Because of his autism issues he is not able to stay at the daycare he had been in for this school year. But his mom still needs to work so I am splitting caregiver duties with a woman my daughter met through her church until the end of the school year. Miss Diane has Monday and Tuesday, I have Wednesday through Friday.

But this leaves hubby on his own for three days! Oh my, the trouble that man could get into. 😱

It was a perfect storm of injury making reactions. Charlie and I were getting ready to run to the store yesterday afternoon to snag some ice cream and were in the garage when the garage door started to lift! Whoa, that surprised both of us. I was opening my car door to throw my purse in the seat, at the same time I called out “Charlie, it’s mommy!” He rushed past me and slammed into the inside of my open car door and ping ponged between the side of the car and the door, then fell back on the floor!! I was horrified and he was hurt and screaming. I gathered him up against me as his mom pulled into her spot. He finally calmed but was not a happy guy.

But he did want to get ice cream. 😊🍦

Fortunately. after a trip to the Walmart for ice cream, a discounted Easter basket and some nutellla snacks he was feeling pretty good. This morning he has a knot on his head, a scratch on his ear, and a scrape on his cheek, but he says he is fine.

Life with a busy four year old.

Cheers!

-N

 

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Physics and Hurricane Michael

I am a meteorology, geology, astronomy geek. Yep, and proud of it.

Last Wednesday I went to a presentation at the University of Arizona by the folks who helped get the image of the black hole M87. I had chills. It made my mind fly with excitement, and frustration.

The frustration was because I was never encourage, pushed, or helped to do well in school. My folks were not those kind of parents. I was never asked if I had homework, much less if I did my homework. If I got a good grade that was nice, if I didn’t (math specifically) I was told I probably wasn’t good at it, instead of working with me to improve.

My father was in the Air Force, and we lived lots of places. This gave me the chance to experience every kind of meteorological and geological event. Hurricanes in the Philippines and earthquakes in Japan. Tornadoes in Texas and monsoon flooding in southern Arizona. I’ve chased storms in tornado alley, and sat on a cliff in Hawaii watching the lava flow into the sea.

When I came back from helping my son move to Florida I took a side trip to Pass Christian MS to see where storm surge of Hurricane Camille washed the coast clean back in 1969.

I get notifications from NASA whenever the ISS is visible in my area and I watch for it. I’ve learned parts of the sky with my star charts. I eagerly followed the courses of Voyager 1 and 2 out of our solar system, kept track of the arrival of Osiris Rex at asteroid Bennu, watched the images of New Horizons when it flew by Pluto, and set my alarm to wake up so I could watch live the reveal of the first images of a black hole the Event Horizon Telescope captured.

I dig this stuff.

I want to know how they did this stuff. How do scientists figure out the way to image a black hole with six telescopes around the planet? How do geologists measure the movement of the plates? How did meteorologists come up with the CAPE measurement?

I mentioned in a previous blog about observing the damage done by Hurricane Michael in the Florida Panhandle back in October 2018. The damage six months later gives the evidence why this storm was recently upgraded to a category 5. All of these photos were taken on I-10.

I know I have a science leaning. I worked in a cell culture lab for seven years where I was taught how to grow cells, titer antibodies, and make tissue blocks used in cancer diagnosis. I used high school algebra I thought long forgotten, and learned the same sterile technique for a biological safety hood taught to freshmen biology students at the University of Arizona. I had my own projects, and developed procedures I taught to incoming staff with PhD’s. With just a high school diploma.

What more could I have done with the proper encouragement in math and science?

Woulda, shoulda, coulda – physics.

So I still try to learn, my curiosity is as strong as ever.

Cheers!

-N

 

Roads and bridges and tunnels – Oh my!

I live in the arid country of southern Arizona. We have bridges, but the go over washes, which are dry river beds that only have water during monsoon season. They are boring flat bridges, grey-brown in color to match the desert.

But…then…in Florida… Yeah we were crossing a bridge through an amazing preserve and low and behold there was water under that bridge. Lots of water, for miles and miles.

I got a view of this bridge as we were coming up to it.

Seriously,how cool is this!?!? Ok, there are no cool bridges like this anywhere in Arizona.

Official bridge geek here.

I believe bridges are forms of art.

So amazing, and thrilling to drive over and through.

The geek in me wonders how engineers design these so they will continue to stand during hurricane winds. It’s math – physics, yes but it is fascinating.

Some are so elegant and graceful you feel grateful to have the opportunity to use them.

Some we drove on really looked as if they might need a bit of reinforcement or elevating.

 

 

When we were crossing the Mississippi River into Memphis on a rainy night it was pretty spectacular and bumpy. 

You can see the rain drops on the windshield and the Tennessee sign on the cool bridge spanning the river, and the lights of the city in the distance.

Big  river,  pretty  lights.

And then, in Mississippi (the state) we ran into this awesomeness.

A freaking tunnel that took us through the bay and under downtown Biloxi!!

Fabulous.

 

 

 

 

Yep.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Very cool at night too.

 

Cheers!

-N

Nerdy travel things

Most families who do road trips have the nerdy things they do, things kid remember when they are older and may incorporate into their own road trips as grownups.

Ours is signs! continental divide sign

Not just any signs but signs that tell a story about our trip. We try to catch the state signs as we cross the border. Most times it works, but occasionally, especially on bumpy roads or at night, the picture is blurry.

There are some signs we always try to get like the continental divide or time zones, or the one that makes you wonder “huh?” Bat cave

 

During our trip across country we saw a lot of interesting things, but the most startling were in the panhandle area of Florida, and the surprising evidence that remained of Hurricane Michael from last October. I just read this morning that this hurricane was upgraded to a category 5 and after our drive through its damage path I am not surprised.

The huge stumps of massive trees ripped from the ground, the ripped and tossed interstate signs, and houses and barns that looked like they exploded gave hubby and I pause at the power of nature’s fury. Interstate 10 was closed for quite a while due to downed trees and storm debris. Huge swaths of land were cleared where trees had been uprooted.

I’ve enjoyed road trips, mostly, especially when I go places I’ve never been and this trip took us through areas of our country that are the polar opposite of southern Arizona. I dug it!! Especially when we have plenty of time for side trips. We hit several places indicated in our National Parks Passport. This really gives us an even more diverse travel experience.

So now I have memories from which to compose, what I hope are interesting narratives, and photos of locations that might make you curious to go see for yourself.

So here we go…

Cheers!

-N

 

Monumental Road Trip – Introduction

Yep, we did it! We took two weeks and one day to drive from Catalina AZ to Orlando FL. As anyone who has done something like this knows not everything can be prepared for or anticipated, and the best perspective is “expect the unexpected.”

The first hurdle was hubby working 12 hour days right up to our departure. That made things hard to get ready and I hate packing for him! I mean seriously, I never get things quite right, so…this waited until the absolute last moment – like, the middle of the night before we planned to pull out at 7am. We packed the truck and the trailer, hooked the trailer _DSC0059 (2) (here after referred to as Daisy,) filled the truck with gas and managed to be on the road by 9am.

Ok so we tried!

Two weeks is quite a while, but in retrospect I brought way too many clothes and shoes. I know part of my rational was I would be in at least two different climates so I wasn’t sure what to bring. Our stop in eastern Tennessee would be during winter, with cold rain and fog, but central Florida would be warm spring tropical so you tell me – what would you bring?? Another thing that was big were the amount of tools hubby brought. Those filled the back of the truck. He and Aaron had plans to do a bunch of stuff to the 5th wheel while we were in Florida and since hubby has way more tools than son he brought them along. I’m talking shop vac, a ladder, a bag full of tie-downs, three tool boxes, etc., you get my drift.

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It was a fun trip. The best part is always the humans who are part of the adventure. We learned some history, saw a musical production, roamed three DisneyWorld parks, and spent too much money $$$, but we had a good time and didn’t fight too much. 😉👍

Cheers!

-N

 

I’m Back!!

Well fantastic followers, after two weeks and nearly 4,000 road miles later I am finally back online and ready to blog. I have a ton of photos and stories to share with everyone. Still getting the pics downloaded and sorted so it will probably be a series of blogs.

Hubby and I had fun visiting (in order round trip from Arizona) New Mexico, Texas, Arkansas, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, New Mexico, ending back home in Arizona of course.

Our sweet little 15 foot travel trailer we have fondly named “Daisy” performed exceptionally well. She is a vintage 1982 Sport and we look forward to sprucing her up. We got a lot of attention and great comments about her.

We spent a week with Aaron and Chelsea. Hubby and son working on some RV repairs, going to Epcot, Magic Kingdom, and Animal Kingdom at DisneyWorld, watching Chelsea be excellent in a production of Beauty and the Beast, and eating way too many donuts!

Our place and our pets were well cared for by Heather Herman, with help from Kristopher and Trinity. It was such a relief not to have to worry about anything. Millie was crazy to see us again, and Cleo was mildly interested that we returned.

I finished the laundry, we’ve got most of everything put away, Daisy is cleaned out and now it’s the getting back to normal.

More to come!

Cheers!

-N

What a Scare!

Several months ago, after my annual eye exam, I was told by my optometrist he was referring me to a glaucoma specialist!!  😨

I have never had any indication of an issue, no high pressures or eye pain, so I was confused. I didn’t quite understand the issue, but accepted his recommendation.

I put it off for several months because of the distractions of life, and finally saw the doctor Tuesday. According to Dr. Kay I am at risk of an acute glaucoma attack. 😱I have what is called narrow angles in my eyes which can occlude the drainage of fluid and this would raise my pressures to a point of sudden loss of sight.

I was horrified and distressed.

With writing, blogging, quilting/sewing, and reading – losing any of my vision would devastate me. After watching a video explaining my condition and the treatment suggested I was a bit easier. It still scares, the idea of a laser making a tiny opening in my iris to drain excess fluid.

So, next week this will happen. One eye will be done on Thursday, the other on Friday. I pray for no issues, and will share the update you beautiful followers.

Cheers!

-N

 

Hungry While Passing Through Catalina AZ?

Catalina is a rural village, just north of Tucson on Hwy 79. We have a beautiful view of the Santa Catalina mountains and are far enough from Tucson that the only signs are the bedroom community aspects of traffic and new construction. As is usual in communities like ours we don’t have all the dining options a metropolitan area would have.

However…

We do have a little gem called It’s Greek to Me. It is the best. The food is fresh, and prepared with love. The atmosphere is like sitting in the dining room of a Greek family home, with wonderful smells, laughter, children’s voices, and people enjoying the music. It is a place where you can sit at your table for however long you want, no rushing your meal. The wait staff, which can include the couple who own it, are super friendly and accommodating. 

Hubby and I we there last Friday for a late lunch. It is like visiting with friends. The owners David and Kaitlyn are hands on, cooking, serving, and going out of their way to  make the best dining experience possible. Their toddler son, was asleep in his playpen while his pregnant mom cooked – this is the way it goes in this family oriented place. She is due in June.

Kaitlyn had told me, whenever I came in, to ask if they had mussels, which I did. I was thrilled to hear an affirmative response! Yep, I ordered them in red sauce, along with a glass of a dry Greek (Skouras Saint George) red wine. Perfect!!

The lovely Rebecca was an attentive and friendly server. She enjoyed how much we loved our food, which feels wonderful to a customer.

Hubby had the Gyro Platter, always a favorite, for his meal. We started off with the hummus (so good) and warm pita bread, cheese and olives. They don’t scrimp on the portions so I had to go easy to make room for my mussels.  

We dug in and had a wonderful and extremely filling meal. I highly recommend the honey yogurt cake😋. It was my mother’s favorite. A side note, they have very fresh and wonderful vegan/vegetarian options as well.

This place is worth making a special stop in Catalina. Check out their website to see a menu, and don’t blame me if you get hungry.  https://itsgreektomecatalina.com/

Cheers!

-N

(no compensation was received for post)

Looking for Cochise

I love historical research. I love history – that’s probably why I enjoy writing historical fiction. This past weekend hubby and I spent two days scouring the southern Chiricahua mountains for the site of a firefight between the US Army and Cochise’s Chiricahua Apaches in 1869.

My fictional Army officer will be engaged in this event. I had questions about the location, and after searching through books and historical papers I managed to pinpoint the place I needed to see. To put myself in my character’s mind, explore his emotions, and find out who he would be after this was over, seeing the location was important for the story.

Much to her great pleasure Millie came along on the road trip, riding comfortably on her bed in the back seat. 

There was so much for her to see and smell, so much to experience. She was so good, and when we stopped for pictures or to explore she was happy to do her own research of the area. 🙂 

Rucker Canyon was where we were heading. It runs between the Chiricahua Mountains to the north and the Pedregosa Mountains to the south west. The creeks were running thanks to snow melt, and the dirt roads were well maintained, with a few places I wouldn’t want to drive on if they were wet.

  My driver did a good job getting me where I wanted to go, and he loved exploring those crude trails disguised as roads. I’m not so fond of the bouncing around on these, but he was having a great time.

Considering we were very close to the international border we saw this sign going either direction. Gave me pause. 

Using our topo map and the references, we were able to pin point the bluff where the Apache warriors held off the US Army. This series of fights lasted for a month beginning in October, and resulted in both sides suffering injuries and loss of life. It also prompted Cochise to examine the cost to his people of the continued fight against the whites.  He was dead five years later.

Walking the area where these two groups struggled to control the land was profound for me. The area is a pristine, rugged, and beautiful wilderness area of oaks and junipers. The bluff was found by us, and we spent time examining it and imagining the humans surrounding it, climbing, it, hiding behind its peaks, and moving in a strategic dance of combat. I was thrilled.

Left – from the south, right – from the north.

The south view was a steeper approach the Army attempted but were pushed back by the well entrenched Apaches.

The Army circled around to the north side which was a gentler slope, but still unapproachable. It was this activity that leads to my character’s encounter with a warrior and a crisis moment for him and his life going forward. After a bit more driving and a bit of hiking hubby suddenly stopped and said, “Here, it happens here.” He found a perfect place for the confrontation. In this area there were signs of human presence at least 100 years old. Nancy was in her happy place!!

Down this slope my character will struggle and his life will change. At the bottom is a creek, and beyond that a meadow lined with trees that are good cover for the warrior.

Boy did Millie like this place. She could wander and discover, glancing back at us to make sure we were near.

It was getting late, so we headed out for Douglas, Arizona and to the ranch home of old family friends of hubby. When I say old friends, I’m talking before marriages and kids, my father-in-law and Mr. Christiansen were BFF’s.

This ranch house was built in early 1960, and is one of the most comfortable, and welcoming homes I’ve visited. We chatted, laughed, looked at books and photos, walked around the land, and hubby’s memories were tickled. Millie loved this as well. She had plenty of room to run, sniff, and do her business. Our beautiful hostess, Mrs. Ursula Christiansen, made us comfy, fed us, and loved Millie. Ursula, born in Germany, married an American military man, and moved to this country. I asked her what she thought of southern Arizona when she arrived and she said she wanted to see Indians, she didn’t realize they were on reservations.

The two German girls got on pretty well. They’d had German Shepherds on the ranch, and she missed them. I think Millie sensed that. After a good nights sleep, Ursula wanted to take us to her favorite Mexican restaurant – El Pato (The Duck.) Chuck and I loved it, fresh and delicious Sonoran food.

Ursula was greeted warmly by the lovely owner Alba, she introduced us, and we ordered. If you ever get to Douglas, AZ go see Alba at El Pato.

 After our wonderful meal, and full bellies we headed back to the mountain for a few hours, then home.

My mind was racing with ideas, scenes, and plots. I can give the writing an authentic feel, and take the reader into the action with authority.

The best part was the chance to be there, on the spot, in the location, walking the same paths, seeing the same landscape, being in history, and becoming my character.

Cheers!

-N

 

 

 

 

Memphis, Yeah I’ve Been There😎 part 2

Memphis…music, people, food, music. It is a remarkable place. Yes the Mississippi River is muddy, broad, and moves forcefully past this amazing city.

But it is the inside of the town. The guts, the brain, the voice of a place filled with the passage of people and time that grabs you. I really dug it.

The sidewalks were well worn. The stores and club fronts showed the appearance of years of bodies leaning against them to get out of the heat or rain and watch humanity pass by. Beale Street had the character and style of an old railroad car with a fresh coat of paint. While we were there part of the street was cordoned off for a mass of bikers, a bikers meet and greet if you will. 

There were dozens of bikes, with riders milling around, laughing, drinking, smoking, and calling out to people passing by. It was friendly and fun.

I was raised by a man who loved motorcycles, and when I see one, especially a Harley, I am warmed by memories of riding with my dad. I wanted to get right down in the middle of them. 😍

Beale St is full of music.

Passing clubs, pubs, and bars the music pours out, drenching the sidewalk with jazz, blues, rock, and country. The first three are the ones I wanted to hear. I craved sittingt near the stage listening to live musicians give it their all. We popped into several establishments on our way to the place I wanted to be.

BB Kings House of Blues. Yeah dog! I did that. That’s me and BB Kings guitar. The food was good, we took our time, and then Corey Osborn and his band took the stage. It was a religious experience.

Corey was a teenage prodigal guitarist when BB King discovered him. We sat through two or three hours of food and music. Hubby and I were loving it. We met him and his band, bought a CD and had it autographed by them all. Looking back it was a special moment in time because only a few years later Corey was killed in a car accident. It’s hard to find his music now. That CD is really special.

Elvis was there too, in music, and memorabilia.

Even a musical note on the sidewalk bears his name. We left BB Kings and walked around in the evening, lots of lights shining and people milling around, such atmosphere in this city by the Mississippi River.

We asked for a random guy to take our picture together, he laughed and told hubby to cozy up to that woman!

He did and it was a wonderful memory of the park across the street from the House of Blues.

I would love to go back and spend more time there. The food, music, and history of this city is compelling, exciting, and covers you in mood. That mood is up to you.

 

Cheers!

-N