Do you believe?

I was that little girl who utterly believed in Santa, and the magic of Christmas. To this day the feelings and joy of belief in Santa enchants me. I adore stories that validate my childish memories and build my depth of belief in the Christmas spirit.

Like many children I discovered the painful truth by accident. One morning I was looking for my father, and stumbled across him in the neighbors garage. I saw he and our neighbor were putting together one of those little play kitchens and before he could see me I ran off. You can imagine what I realized when that very toy kitchen was sitting next to our tree on Christmas morning.

I never told him what I knew, but by the next year my Santa connection sadly was over. Yet, I still wanted to believe.

This blog was prompted by me watching Hallmark Christmas in Summer movies. What can I say?

What are your memories, feelings, andΒ  emotions that fill your heart for the upcoming season?

Share…

Cheers!

-N

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An insecure 14 year old far from home

It was 1968, Clark Air Base, Angeles City, Philippines. Dad had been transferred from Misawa, Japan – not what any of us wanted.

I loved Misawa. It was beautiful, welcoming, rural and safe. I had good friends there, rode my bicycle everywhere, loved my school, and there were four seasons which I had never before experienced. I turned thirteen there, and had my first crush. Needless to say my life was wonderful and my memories, to this day, are warm. I cried when we left.

Clark Air Base: Hot, humid, very green, and frightening. Because there were a group of us who left Japan for Clark I had a few friends already. One, Victor Watson, was my safety when my dad was TDY (temporary duty) to Phan Rang, Vietnam.

We lived off base in Josefa Subdivision. Just off the main gate was the street to our house. We were at the end of the road, with a creek and railroad running behind our house. Behind those were cinderblock houses holding mutliple generations of Filipeno families. One thing we learned quickly was nothing was safe from thieves. There was a family living in our subdivision brought over from the US a teal VW bug. This vehicle was stolen from the carport and the gate was still locked with a chain and padlock! Yeah it was scary. To keep people out of our place the block wall was topped with barbed wire and broken glass set in concrete. Also large thorny agave and bouganvilla lined the inside. Deterrents that most of the others in this neighborhood had, still one never knew how effective would be. Mom and I took turns sleeping by our Christmas tree to keep our gifts safe.

A local “security” guy was paid monthly to guard the houses. Security and guarding are used loosely. My dad wasn’t sure for whom he worked. When dad was getting ready for hs first TDY he found this guy and told him “My wife is from Texas, she is tough lady and she has a gun. So if someone tries to come into our house she will shoot them.” He later said to us, “If your mother calls out ‘get my gun’ don’t say ‘what gun?'”

Early one morning my dad was outside and heard crying from the housing behind our house. He motioned a man over and asked what happened. He ascertained a child had died overnight, so dad went into our house, pulled out a pot of beans from our fridge and gave it to them, saying he was so sorry.

We had good friends in the Singletary family. Their daughter, Lynette, was my BFF. They were transferred back to the US before us and they gave us their dog “Snoopy,” a white Spitz. This was the meanest dog I have ever encountered. He would attack us – mom would use a broom to shoo him away so we could go in and out the door. My sister, Mary, has scars from that dog. Easter 1968 dad was gone, and mom said we were going on base to have dinner and see the movie The Sound of Music. When we got home, Snoopy was growling from the corner of the carport which was covered in softball sized rocks. He did his job and mom gave him a reward of a package of hotdogs.

We were never robbed.

We were at Clark during the 1968 Tet offensive. It was part of my PTSD. I’ll explain.

Clark Hospital was the place the injured from Vietnam were sent. The buses carrying these wounded humans came from the flight line. The curtains would be open and often the soldiers would wave, leaning up to look at all the Americans. Other buses from the flight line, with closed curtains, bypassed the hospital and drove to the morgue – a morgue which at one point was so full that the coffins waiting for transport were stacked outside. Yes, in the moment I typed those words my mind is vivid with memory of the stacks of silver boxes. My heart was frightened for my most beloved father who was in this place where killing was happening. I was never happy or secure when he was gone.

My mother, along with some other women from our church would go to the hospital to visit the wounded, write letters for them, and bring homemade treats. Because I was old enough to go with her she took me on her visits. There were soldiers there who were only five years older than me. Until you have sat in a room where a very young voice is crying for his mother, another has no arms, another has a face pulled together with stainless steel and buttons, or whose burned body smells of napalm, you cannot imagine what my naive, young mind worked to file in a dark corner of conciousness. I spent years never being able to enter a hospital without being nauseous at the smell. No one else could smell what I smelled. Suffice to say it took years to know what it was. It was the napalm burns. It smells, bad. No more of that now.

I have a thing for umbrellas. I love them. I have more than I need in southern Arizona. This is because of Clark. I carried a cute little pink umbrella my dad bought me in Japan everywhere I went. It was to protect myself from the Filipeno men I passed who would try to grab me and touch me when I was walking to the main gate, or a friend’s house. Unless Victor was with me my little umbrella was security. Victor was a very sweet and kind guy, who was protective of my tiny self if I needed him. It wasn’t a great place to be for me.

There is so much more to tell but my heart is done with the feelings these memories surface. So maybe another time.

Cheers!

-N

 

 

 

I’m back, but emotions are running high!

I’ve been on a brief blogging hiatus, spending time going between Catalina and Phoenix to take care of my grandson during the last three weeks of my daughter’s teaching schedule. I had days where I lived at her place in Phoenix, and then he would come down here and live with us. There were times it was hard for the little fella to get his bearings with the back and forth, and missing his mother.

During this time hubby has been working a crazy schedule giving neither of us good sleep and making us grumpy. So the two things together robbed me of time and blogging inspiration.

However I am ready to jump in.

Last week hubby’s two brothers came to town from Reno for the interment of their parents ashes. It was held at the Northminster Presbyterian church where they were married in 1956.

It was a very sweet and emotional service; my husband and his brothers honored their parents well. Β Melissa and Charlie also came for the weekend. One special person was Janet Daub who was my mother-in-laws maid of honor came with her husband, Vic!

So four days of visiting family and friends, lots of cooking and cleaning, and so many stories with lots of laughter. Charlie got to know his two great Uncles from his grandfather’s side of the family well.

Now we have a week until the next visitor.πŸ‘πŸ‘

Saturday, my great niece, Kali will come down from Phoenix to spend the week with us. This will be her second summer doing this and we are already looking at fun things to do with her during her visit. She is a very sweet and fun almost teenager (no!!) and we are taking advantage of her willingness to hang out with us old folks 😎 She is excited about using the pool we just put in to keep us cool.

So I’m thinking of new topics, ideas, and life events to blog. Promise to have pictures.

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.

_DSC0069 (2).jpg

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. πŸ˜‰πŸ‘

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

Give it to a busy person, yeah right!

Well, yeah, that’s what it feels like. Last week, this week, next week – not enough days and lots to do. February 2019 has decided I’m on it’s radar.

This month was Charlie’s birthday, my niece Kali’s birthday, my nephew Austin getting ready to deploy with the US Army, reconnecting with a precious young family, my niece Danielle’s bridal shower, hubby flew to Reno, doctor appointments, eye surgery, hair appointment, waxing appointment, weekly Bible study, truck repairs, travel prep…yeah it’s been busy in this short month.

Dang, that explains my loss of sleep!

The biggest event was the reason for the trip to Reno. My father-in-law passed away 31 January, and Hubby went up to help his two brothers clear out dad’s apartment. It was an unexpected passing, and Chuck cherishes in his heart he was the last person to talk to him. They chatted on Saturday a couple of times, and then during his sleep and he suffered a catastrophic stroke. He lingered unconscious for four days, and passed peacefully.

Charlie’s birthday celebration was rescheduled a couple of times because of circumstances, but he didn’t care as long as he had a party. The weekend after his birthday party he came down to Catalina and it snowed! He dug it.

We had a last minute gathering to give a loving deployment send off for my nephew Austin. Lots of love and hugs and promises of care packages. Pizza, beignets, and cake along with music, laughing, conversation and photos.

So now the month is over, the last appointments to be attended, and a look forward to March.

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.Β 

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 toΒ  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.Β Β 

We dug in and had a wonderful and extremely filling meal. I highly recommend the honey yogurt cakeπŸ˜‹. 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.Β  https://itsgreektomecatalina.com/

Cheers!

-N

(no compensation was received for post)

Math in real life

I remember in school hearing the comment, “why would I need math?” and I admit, I said that too. But then I grew up and got a checking account. Yeah, that is math folks.πŸ€‘

I only took one algebra class in high school and said “why would I need algebra?” and then I got a job in a cell culture lab where I was taught to grow cells. I called on that algebra to count cells, make cell culture growth medium, and titer antibodies. Yep, that was math too.πŸ”¬

Now…I love to sew and quilt and y’all there is plenty of math in it. Math in real life. How many yards, make sure to have the right seam allowance. Sizes, blocks, binding, and elastic, you gotta have the right amount or the dang thing won’t work.

I’m just finishing some small projects: a valence for the guest room shower, and a dog bed for Millie. These are the whip them out in a day and clear out some space type of jobs. I also started on my next project which is the Doctor Who theme quilt for Charlie. Cutting a bunch of 2 1/2″ strips to make into blocks. I’m stalled because I need more blades-those suckers get dull pretty fast!😜 I also have the stuff for two small quilts for two wee nephews, and one big one that’s a surprise for one of the humans I love. Not telling πŸ˜‰

So back to the sewing machine (I love my machine-thanks mom) and the creative fun of construction.

Cheers!

-N

 

The New Year is Here!

Today Christmas left the building. One thing I really wanted to do was organize all of my Christmas decorations into better groupings of items and themes. It was fun, and hubby helped, with no arguments!! His help made it go so fast I can honestly say we whittled it down significantly in the number of Christmas storage tubs. Also the tree ornaments were separated by type, and packed by theme. Next year I want to have a small real tree to compliment our big artificial one. The small one will be angels, stars, and snowflakes. The big tree will be all of the rest of them. I may get a small table top artificial one for the non-sparkly decorations. I am considering it.

Charlie spent Christmas with us, then he came back for New Years so his mother could finish last minute stuff without him underfoot (you can imagine the havoc an almost four year old can wreak) and also get a break before the school year starts.

Christmas was fun with Charlie. He was very patient while waiting to open his presents. When we said it was time to open gifts he celebrated. He did pretty well this Christmas and then when he came back to our house for second time it snowed on New Years day. And he loved it!

He discovered he could eat snow, and throwing a snowball at me makes me jump. (Insert him laughing hysterically.)

So, we are four days into 2019 and the best I can say is it feels like winter here in southern Arizona, and my house is Christmas free πŸ˜πŸ‘ .

I hope to upgrade my blog by the end of the month. My Twitter and Instagram pages will stay the sames. Facebook will have a big change for my current author page. It is connected to my personal page and I cannot separate it. Instead I will set up a whole new one and move everything over to that page. This will take some fancy footwork on my part but it is part of making a more professional footprint of my internet presence.

Good luck all and I hope 2019 will be stellar for all!

Cheers!

-N

 

 

 

I did it for the first time!

Yes I did, and I can admit I was nervous.Β 

Β  Β  Β Would it look silly? What if my idea was laughable? Would others appreciate it?

I ordered photo Christmas cards and a self inking address stamp! I am so proud of myself. Every year I get those from friends and family, loving the new pics and wishing I had my act together to do it for hubby and I.

But this year I did, a bit behind the date but I hope the folks who receive one will enjoy it and want to keep it. I must have dozens of these I’ve saved for years. They are so special and some come with a newsy letter. I have them in a manila envelope and plan to make albums for them.

My card this year has hubby, me and Charlie in Santa hats, wearing Christmas light necklaces. We went to my daughter’s house and took the pics in front of her tree. Such fun to corral an almost four year old with unlimited energy in front of a decorated tree, trying to get him to leave the hat on, let go of the lights, stand up, smile, etc., but we managed to take some very fun photos. I think this will be our tradition, hubby and I with grandkid/s in Santa hats and Christmas light necklaces.

We also got some of Charlie and his momma too. They are sweet and funny, but one was of momma giving him “the look” when he wandered off and wouldn’t listen, and we laughed outloud when we saw it. I told her she needed to make a poster of it and put it in her classroom πŸ˜‰πŸ‘Œ.

I used Shutterfly for the cards and it was pretty easy. Now I hope to get them addressed and out before Christmas!

Fourteen days until Christmas Eve. Get those gifts wrapped, hire someone to clean the house, put up the lights, finish the cooking and baking, learn the songs for the Christmas Eve service, keep writing and sewing.

I’ve got this. πŸ€žπŸŽ„

Cheers!

-N