Are Christmas Cards Passé?

I have a collection of Christmas cards that come from several years. They were the last one or two left in the box, unused. I have counted them and I found I have no need to purchase cards this year. The leftovers will take care of my needs. I don’t send out nearly as many I did in the past. It seems cards aren’t the thing they once were.

My mother-in-law, like many of her generation sent out dozens of cards often with school photos, a Christmas letter or both.  They kept track of friends who have moved away, family in distant places, and acquaintances who were now only “Christmas card friends.”  Do you read the Christmas letters when you get one?

This Saturday hubby and I will be meeting our daughter to take a photo with our grandson. This photo will be included in our Christmas cards for close friends and family. My daughter was teasing that instead of being in the picture she will be taking it! We will, however, be taking photos of her and Charlie for her own Christmas greetings.

When we get photo cards (I never get around to getting those made😜) I save them. They are precious records of people I care about. One day I plan to put them in a scrap book showing how families have grown up.

I remember mailing fifty cards (hubby and I each signed them,) hoping the addresses were correct and if returned would include a forwarding address. Now most of these have been replaced with Facebook and Instagram holiday greetings.

Will the actual cards become a thing of the past?

What will USPS do with all those holiday themed stamps?

Cheers!🍸🍷

-N

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Human behavior – puzzling, baffling, stupid.

We have lived in Catalina, Arizona since January 1991. We have seen this rural area slowly become developed as a bedroom community for Tucson, spreading north into Pinal county, and south toward Oro Valley on the north end of the Tucson city limits.

We moved out here to get our kids away from the growing gang threat and gun violence in the southern part of Tucson where we lived. We would be in bed, listening to gun shots, and the constant police helicopter and vehicle presence in our neighborhood.

My young son was harassed, bullied, beat up, and was being forced to adapt in the 2nd grade. These little gangsters were targeting boys like my son, a mellow, kindhearted fella and he was changing, withdrawing, and was happy only when he was at home with family. I was frightened for him.

My lovely, 8th grade, ginger haired, freckle faced daughter endured teasing, bullying, sexual and racial harassment while trying to enjoy school. She always liked school. It hadn’t been a problem for her prior to entering junior high.

We started looking for property and with the hand of providence my husband found an advertisement for the acre we now own. The acre had two little mesquite trees, was nice and flat, and was very near the Santa Catalina mountains. A perfect spot for us. Melissa had been commuting to a different high school where she had several good friends so she was in her junior year when we moved, Aaron was in 4th grade. We have been here since then watching the area grow up, people moving in, and developers building housing developments. It still has a rural feel to it.

Fast forward to the first of this month. I got a call from my neighbor Sandi asking if my dog Millie was inside and when I confirmed she was, she said to keep her in because there were a pack of pit bulls that had attacked and killed her next door neighbors two alpacas, and she was holding a gun on the pack to stop their attack on her neighbors horse. It was a killing field and my neighbor was heartbroken and furious. She had called 911 twice and was waiting, gun in hand, for the sheriff who took about two hours to arrive.

The people who own the pack exercise no control over these animals. These dogs escape and roam the neighborhood at will, harassing and fighting with animals that are securely and responsibly contained. This behavior has altered some of these otherwise tame animals, provoking aggression in them. When these irresponsible pet owners are called to come get their animals they always have an excuse. They do not get these animals fixed so it is a puppy mill at that place. Just this past Saturday the ringleader, a large white one, was out roaming and fence fighting. At this point there has been nothing done other than the three who carried out the attack were removed, but have since been returned to them. Animal control has yet to interview the alpaca owners, the neighbor who witnessed the attack, or any of us who have witnessed this repeat behavior.

I worry that one day the news people will be out here interviewing us because this pack got out again and attacked a human. We will tell them of the lack of response from the appropriate authorities, and maybe something will be done. Please God, don’t let that happen!

Be a responsible pet parent. Get your animals spayed/neutered, train them, and keep them under control. Everyone will be happy, especially your animal.

Cheers!

-N

 

Where I Come From

A long time ago, there was this couple who came together in a small town in north Texas, just miles from the Red River on the border with Oklahoma.

She was a petite beauty with a glorious soprano voice, a strong faith in God and His son Jesus. She carried herself with humility, gentleness, humor, and hard work. He was handsome, and strong, with a determined spirit and not too little pride.

He saw in her the perfect woman who would blend easily with him to create a home. She saw a man who might need some taming with love and understanding, but would become the head of the household she desired. They both came from large families. They learned the importance of holding family close, and the value a making the time and effort to gather together.

They shared a life of hard work, the loss of their first child that was followed by six who ultimately survived them. They were church going, tax paying, Great Depression surviving good people. They had a love song they sang together that all of the family have learned. She told stories we all loved, taught Sunday school and always had something cooking on the stove. He could do amazing things with wood. Beautiful custom desks, that he made for executives to use in their offices. The faults they had were culturally typical of the time and place of their lives, and as they lived they learned that their perspectives were not acceptable.

The picture of the beautiful hands I posted at the top of my blog page are the hands of these two humans, my mother’s parents.

They now are survived by only two children, my uncle Foy and my aunt Faith. Yet…the next generation-the grandchildren, great grandchildren and so on are perpetuating the love, closeness and attachment that Nannie and Papaw taught us. I am proud to be named after her, and have been told I resemble her. He and I had a few heated go-arounds in the past about his racial attitude and he did open his mind as he grew older, but I knew, no matter what, he loved me his first grandchild.

C.D. and Nancy Reba Forehand. My grandparents. I hope we will continue to make them proud.

Cheers!

-N

 

 

Pulled by Clem and Carl, but Carl bites

Saturday October 20th hubby and I had a day trip to Tombstone, Arizona with our daughter and our grandson. What a trip!

It was Helldorado Days in Tombstone which means it’s a TombstoneCon. Everywhere you looked there were people in 1800’s dress. You know what I mean: women in long fancy dresses with bustles, wigs and facinator hats, and black garbed men in western dusters, handlebar mustaches, and lots of guns.

Chuck’s contribution was his black hat, snap button shirt, jeans and boots. He looked pretty handsome with his rattlesnake tooth bolo tie.

The attendees stayed in character as they roamed the boardwalks. The faux Wyatt Earp’s tipped their hats to the ladies and nodded to the men as they passed.

The streets were filled with horse and mule pulled wagons, re-enactors doing gunfights, and cowboy stories played out in the middle of Allen Street. There were even belly dancers (my grandson thought that was hilarious.) They had the town park set up so little buckaroos could get rid of excess energy, and for a price you could watch the cowboys do the Hollywood version of the gunfight at the OK Corral. Two horse drawn wagons and one mule drawn circled the town, with a driver narrated history of Tombstone. The mules were brown, and the horses were a pair of black and a pair of white.

Charlie had fun breaking in his new boots, saying hi to everyone then shooting them with his finger gun, and his most favorite was his ride in the red Conestoga wagon pulled by Clem and Carl. He liked them because they were white horses. The nice fella who set us up with our ride asked Charlie if he wanted to pet the horses. Charlie was nervous since it was his first up close to a horse and they were way bigger than he expected. The guy said to pet Clem cause Carl bites. He hesitated but with his mom’s help he rubbed Clem’s face and then wanted down, it was time to start the ride!

After our ride we went for lunch, and had to wait a few minutes to get in which gave us a chance to watch all the people walking around.

I think the best part for me was being with my daughter. She’s a very fun person and a great mother.

 

 

By the time we got back to the car, and passed the border patrol check point Charlie was passed out. About five minutes.

We all had a good time.

Last pic was taken by Charlie of his momma.

Cheers!

-N

Fading away, but starting fresh

My house is slowly losing the strongly imprinted energy of a human who resided there for years.

My mother.

She and dad moved in with hubby and I in 2000 after dad had a really bad stroke. He passed in 2002, and mom stayed for several years after he died. During part of that time she spent five years in a retirement community before coming back to us – she had physical needs costing a chunk of change each month. She moved back into the room she lived in with dad, and refreshed her energy in that space.

Now she has moved on, her physical body is resting with dad in a shared spot. They are, in our minds, together again. So the energy is fading ever so gradually.

The room, their room, is changing into a guest room with a University of Arizona theme. The walls are being painted cardinal red and navy blue. The furnishings will be different. The bedding and wall hangings conforming to the theme.

Yet…she and my father will still reside in this room that was originally built for them. Dad and mom’s UA sports memorabilia will fill the walls, joining the items we have and the things our daughter, a UA alum, is loaning us. Although the room will look strikingly different from the cozy room she passed away in, she and dad will be back.

Their human energy will fade, but memories will be nurtured for future generations to remember two cool people.

Cheers! and Bear Down,

-N

 

 

 

A change has happened

In June my mother was diagnosed with small cell lung carcinoma (SCLC), a very aggressive non curable form of this dreaded disease. It took four months for it to do it’s cruel work. On September 18th she passed away peacefully in her bed, surrounded by family. Her life slipped away after a week of steady visits from family and friends showering her with love and affection, and the cancer won this battle – but God won the war. Her strong faith reassured us she was resting in paradise.

Her funeral was special. Many people complimented the family on how personal and uplifting it was, and that they came to know mom better from it. There were stories told, songs sung, laughing, tears, and a profound sense of peace afterward. She would have loved the reception catered by her favorite restaurant, It’s Greek To Me. Family and friends gathered for a few hours, taking time to remember her, picking out favored mementos and keepsakes, sitting in the peacefulness of her now vacant room, and being together – just like she would have wanted.

Now my new normal has started. Clearing out the things left behind, donations of clothes, shoes, furniture, and medical equipment arranged, financial arrangements to be conducted, and the last of the funeral expenses to be paid. Then I have a room to convert from an elderly woman’s apartment to a guest room.

I still sense her.

Loading the dishwasher I sense her standing beside me, or a glance toward her room I expect to see her walk out, or sitting with hubby watching TV and listening for the distinct shuffle of her steps. She is imprinted in this place. I know she has gone on but her human energy is still active. I think it will be for a while.

So now we move on. My sisters and I have no parents. My children are down to one grandfather. But we have family connections I hope will stay strong after this loss. Time to get back to my routine – my new normal.

Cheers!

-N

Space is clean

I’m feeling crowded. The urge to wipe spaces clean is swamping me. I have no problem getting rid of clutter. However I am married to a future “Hoarder” episode. I have few items which have true sentimental value. Photos are the most valuable, along with things from my kids like baby books, school drawings and cards. The collections made during travels, some things I have picked up with historical connections, and things like my grandmother’s costume jewelry. My vinyl collection and turntable.

Also my library. I am attached to those tomes and relish adding to my library where ever I go. Used book stores are my drug.

To my mind space is clean, and just because there is an open area on a shelf or a clear spot in a corner or a space of open wall does not mean it’s okay to put something there. I have a thing about not having anything in front of my windows. I like being able to walk up to a window and look out. Just because the piles are neat doesn’t mean they belong on that counter or corner of the room.

I go through my drawers and closets regularly. It is liberating. I don’t like crap in my car either.

Hubby, well…neat piles of who knows what on every surface, a used Burger King bag collecting garbage in his truck that never gets washed or vacuumed, a t-shirt drawer stuffed so full he can barely get the five he wears all the time inside, and a back yard filled with stuff he plans to reuse. This is why I am married to him. To keep him from being an episode of “Hoarders”. I’ve already told my kids they have to watch out for him if I die first and leave him alone. I can picture it now – a recluse watching TV, dirty dishes everywhere, his recliner surrounded by TV trays filled with projects he will never finish. Him loading the washer and dryer so full they explode, and never rinsing off a dish or pan before putting it into the dishwasher. It’s my nightmare.

But we argue, sneak, tease, laugh, question, ignore, and get sexy. It’s how we’ve stayed married for 39 years.

Cheers!

-N

Fly sweet spirit.

This morning a beautiful woman transitioned from this world to the next.

Chuck’s mother, Elaine Vaughn, is out of pain and no longer suffering. This amazing woman worked hard all her life, living in mining towns in Papua New Guinea, as well as rural Arizona, Idaho, Utah, and Nevada. She lived to see both of her siblings go before her. This planet released to the heavens a special soul.

Please remember the Vaughns in your prayers.

-N

Potty training as a writing distraction

Yes you read that correctly. Hubby and I spent the last weekend helping our daughter with potty training our three year old grandson. He needs to be trained for day care and preschool and it made me realize how similar housebreaking a puppy and potty training a toddler can be.

  • Puppy: regularly taking them outside to do their business, lots of praise, cleaning up accidents, watching for them taking the position prior to the deed.
  • Toddler: regularly taking them to the toilet, lot’s of praise, cleaning up accidents, watching for the pee/poop position signs.

Yeah it’s pretty similar.

Toddler couldn’t care less about the whole process and get bored, however the puppy wants to please the adored pet parents. So the biggest difference comes into play – convincing toddlers, by negotiation, this is a good thing for them. Easier said than done my friends.

It took us a few tries before the perfect negotiating tool revealed itself. He can only ride the school bus from day care to preschool if he goes potty in the toilet! This kid is crazy for buses. So…the task was on. He was spending the weekend with us while his mom, who is a teacher at a new school, was setting up her new classroom, running a bunch of errands, and having some peaceful nights sleep before the hectic school season starts.

Hubby and I have this-right? Charlie calls his grandfather Poppa and I am Nannie. He was having a good time with us and we started doing the potty breaks.

 “Charlie, let’s try to go pee in the potty.”

     “No.”

     “Let’s just try, remember you have to potty on the toilet to ride the bus.”

     Insert big sigh here and he goes with the person who initiated the topic.

Poppa and I tag teamed this, and the first day (Friday afternoon) there were some accidents, not unexpected. Then it became a watching game. We kept our eyes on him since he was wearing big boy underwear, not pull ups, so no leak barrier.

We didn’t let him carry a cup full of juice around all the time because we were watching the I/O on the little human. He had a busy day, and actually did the deed in the toilet. When he discovered Poppa stands up to pee, he refused to do it in the potty chair. He wanted to stand up-it’s what guys do.

He woke the next morning with a dry pull up, got up, got some breakfast, said he had to pee and proceeded to pee like a race horse. Damn we were proud. This kid might be a genius. He was having fun, playing with Hot Wheels, and I was talking to his mom. I looked into the kitchen when I spotted him crouched down, sort of hiding, and very still. This is not good. It took only a few steps toward him to smell it. Yeah one of those. At this age they poop like adults and it’s a gag fest.

As the day went on he was telling us the pee thing, and didn’t do another #2 (thank God,) and we felt he was getting it. He went to bed that night, awoke again with a dry pull up, same routine as Saturday morning. We went to church, he wore big boy undies, and got lots of reminders about telling Sunday School teacher if he needed to pee/poop. Got out of service and went to pick him up-no accidents, not issues-woohoo! Met his mom for the hand-off and she had a good afternoon with him.

Today same morning as the last two. Except he didn’t pee before going to day care (insert here he is in a class for fully potty trained three year olds) where he proceeded to have three accidents. Okay so we jumped the gun on this one. But this kid has the idea, it will happen. At this age the focus when having fun and playing is not there. Plus it was a new place and maybe he thought the only place he had to do the potty stuff was with Poppa and Nannie and mom.

So it was interesting, my hubby was a rock star, Charlie is going to figure it out, and his mom will be able to ditch the diaper bag.

The moral of this story-I didn’t do any writing, none.

Cheers!

-N

Is it a romance novel?

Well…I guess it has romance.

It’s a question I get when I’m asked about two of my books. How do I explain it is a genre mix? My books have good, well researched history of dress, speech, locale, conveyance, and real historical figures merged appropriately into the setting of my books. That is of huge importance to me as a HistNerd.

Yep, made that one up!

That being said, I do incorporate the human side. Family, love, struggle, conflict, all the parts of who humans become as we live. Yeah, there is sex. However it is not erotica by any stretch. I don’t do gratuitous in any media I access. But my stories are sexy. I love sexy people; what they think, how they move, how they speak, the way they touch. Sexy is fun. However these two stories are set in a time when there was no deodorant, shampoo, washing machines, toothpaste, and tampons. Women had body hair, men had even more. You get me right?

I don’t avoid these things in my historical writing. It’s how it was.

The settings are fleshed out to give the reader easy access to the time period. With language it is important to be precise in order to drive the reader into the feel of a relationship. I do describe dress both male and female, as well as room decor to pull out who the people in the story are and what their lives are like. Are they rich? Do they have servants and how many servants would this person have in their lifestyle of the time period? Do they struggle to feed their children? Do they have to work and what would that work look like. It is a disservice to readers to give 2018 attitudes to women and men of the 1880’s.

Likewise forcing the language of the 21st century on 19th century characters diminishes the powerful effect of the communication of people of that time. They wrote letters, they kept journals, and they read newspapers, all part of human interaction and understanding. I love it!

So when you read about two proud individuals who are forced into a farce of a marriage, they still adhere to the standards of the day. When you read of a woman who is used by a man to gain favors and blackmail, she is a victim, but in the time there would be no rescue for her.

I am a mixed genre author and reader.

Cheers!

-N