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)

Really? A Winery Here?

That’s what I exclaimed as hubby and I were driving back through Arkansas toward Tulsa from Memphis. We tend to travel the back roads when possible because you never know what and who you will find. If we like something we will grab a bottle or two to bring home, and if they sell them a couple of wine glasses.

We drove west out of Clarksville, AR on old hwy 64, crossed I-40, passed through Hartman and Coal Hill, and unbeknownst to us were entering Arkansas wine country. I will admit it was simply beautiful. The green hills along the Arkansas River running south of the Ozarks blew me away. After passing a couple of signs for wine tasting I said lets stop at one of them. He was onboard, so we stopped at the Post Familie Winery in Altus, AR. It was a very friendly tasting room, rustic and comfortable. They had a couple of good dry wines. A Seyval (similar to a savignon blanc) that I liked (rare for me,) and a red I had never tried but enjoyed, a Chambourcin.  We bought a couple of bottles.

FYI, I am a dry red wine fan. I love a really good Cabernet Savignon.

Another time I said the same thing was on the southern tip of the Big Island, HI. We drove south out of Kailua-Kona where we had been staying for seven days and heading to a B&B in Volcano for a couple of nights. The two-lane highway wound and twisted through the most brilliantly colored flora and vivid green trees and ferns I had ever seen. This desert girl was enraptured. We saw a sign for Volcano Winery! We had enjoyed the best coffee and now a winery. I was ready to toss my return ticket in the lava. The wines in Hawaii have amazing fruits blended into the grapes, very floral. They packaged very nicely for us the three bottles we brought back.

Hubby and I had a great trip with our destination actually in the middle of the whole vacation. We headed to Red Lodge, MT for a family reunion which took us through Arizona, Utah, Wyoming, South Dakota, Nebraska, Colorado, and New Mexico. We used our National Parks Passports to find places to visit on our travels. We were pulling a fifth wheel so we could stop in RV parks or road side rest areas, and the occasional Walmart boon-dock. On our way through Nebraska (on a back road) we found an RV park and a winery in a small town near Scotts Bluff in western Nebraska. The winery has since closed and I don’t remember the name. I will admit these were not the best overall wines, but there were a couple we liked and brought some bottles back with us.

The Arizona wine country has some award winning bottles, and the area is in the rolling hills of Southeastern Arizona. Many of the vineyards were started with vines from Napa, Sonoma, and Europe. You drive south out of Tucson to Sonoita, AZ on AZ-83. In Sonoita you will find some retailers who can provide maps to the area wineries. There are also a few in the Willcox area. I really like Coronado Winery, Flying Leap, and Kief-Joshua the best. Many of these have their own vineyards and supplement with area grown grapes from different vineyards. If you are in Southern Arizona and have the time it is worth the trip through the area.

With a road trip coming up in a few months we are looking forward to finding new wines to try and fill our Passport to the National Parks book with some new stickers and cancellations!

Cheers!

-N

 

 

 

Do Not Disturb

Some people don’t seem to understand what it takes to focus on writing. Just because the music is playing and I am walking around talking to myself doesn’t mean I am not in a writing zone and it’s okay to barge in and start chatting. I am seriously thinking I need a “Do Not Disturb” sign on my door.

Some people need silence, solitude – space to make the words flow and the jumble of thoughts to become a cohesive body of narrative. Me, not so much. That works at times I’ve found, especially when I am editing. In most cases I have music – all kinds of music – filling my work room. I dance, pace, wander, talk to no one, and fiddle with my muse.

Right now the playlist is soul/pop from the last forty years. Prince, Jimmy Luxury, Michael Jackson, Sly and the Family Stone, The Temptations. Whoa baby, digging it.

Then the interruptions….

Thus the blog refuge to focus my mind on creating and my fingers a needed a warm up – you get me?

 

Had a fun thing happen yesterday while hubby and I were gardening. Lots of soil was moved, reseeding the back yard and planting flower seeds by the pond. I asked if the spa was hot and he said yes, and I replied after this day we need a soak and alcohol, and who knew what next. He agreed and by 8:30 pm we were in the hot water, staring at the stars, planning our next adventures. It was splendid. In my mind I thought “I’m going to use this in a story!”

Isn’t that great when that happens?

We have introduced Cleo to the outdoors and she is digging it. She has gotten big enough and savvy enough to know to stay near the house while she explores. One interesting aspect is Millie, as the big sister German Shepherd, pays attention to her and when she gets out of Millie’s sight the search is on. Millie kind of whines as she tries to find the wee cat, only calming when she is back. So adorable.

They are so cute and are pretty good buddies. Cleo loves Millie’s big swishey GSD tail, and Millie will nudge and lick Cleo when she is laying on the floor. Their food bowls are in the same place separated by a water bowl they share. 

We had Jake for a while but he went back to his family once they were again able to house him, much to Jake’s happiness.

I have always liked having a dog and a cat. I love the difference in the two animals, and they both nourish the variety of pet lover needs I have. Chuck and I are both this way.

So now the words are flowing. Time to ease back into the past as Jude Tremaine arrives at Fort Bowie, Arizona Territory. It could very well be a bloody night in the mountains around him. Ready for a rowdy ride, a betrayal, and a heartbreaking loss? Volume II of The Tremaines is in progress. Pray for no more interruptions unless the house is burning down or the wine is running out.

Cheers!

-N

 

Media for creativity

I have music on my old fashioned stereo which will play the radio, CD’s and believe it or not cassettes tapes, and there are iTunes on my laptop. I don’t have iTunes on my phone because it is an android-yuck. You see I have to have music, especially to be creative. Another thing I do when I am sewing is to chromecast from my laptop to a TV in my work room. I can watch a netflix movie and know how much time I’ve spent on a project, or turn it to YouTube and autoplay one of the channels I follow.

I’ve always had a soundtrack for my life. Inspiration, motivation, interpretation, recall, prompting, all of those words I get from the sound of music I love, or stories I like to watch. It colors the thought process, and the feeling of my creative surroundings.

Today the wind is blowing, the air is cool, the sky changes from clear blue with wispy clouds to a spreading overcast that changes the color of the mountains. It is a classical music day. Hayden I think, maybe Debussy later. I am glad for the solitary time I have at this moment to do some important research for my historical work. I’m looking for books or text written during 1868-1870 to get a feel for language and customs that dominated interpersonal relationships. How would a single young woman write to a young man she has know for her life, but now the relationship is starting to evolve?

I welcome suggestions as I sip my wine.

Cheers!

-N

 

Fighting back

Hubby and I have been working hard at staying healthy. I’ve not always been than way. Up until I turned 35 I had the metabolism of a hummingbird. Big mac, fries, milk shake, and regular coke at midnight – no problem, no weight gain. I didn’t break 100lbs until I was three months pregnant with my first child. Gaining weight was actually a goal for me.

Not any more.

Hubby has been studying natural ways to become healthy, get off prescriptions, lower blood pressure, and boost metabolism.  I’ve been careful of what I eat, exercise every night, and generally being a good girl and feeling pretty good. Lost a few lbs too.

I did see a bit of good news that red wine will supply anti-oxidants, support vascular health, and fight off the flu. I’m totally on that health kick!

Today was a typical warm winter day in southern Arizona, so hubby and I got outside to do some “spring” clean up. Yeah I know it’s February. I had some plants to clear out of some crowded pots and re-pot, weekly watering of some landscaping plants, and so on. I was about half way through and was hauling a tall plastic tub we keep garden soil in from the back yard to the front porch. It is pretty heavy but has wheels so I got on it. I had been sweating (good thing) and my heart rate was up a bit (good thing) when I began to feel a little dizzy.

Ok, I told myself, slow down, get some water and push through this.

I came inside for a water bottle, had a stressful “discussion” with my mother relating to her dementia world, then went back outside. After three shovel fulls of soil I became nauseous. So I pulled off my hat, sat on the front steps-they are brick and cool in the shade, when I got slammed with all of it, the whole shebang. Dizzy, nausea, pounding heart, you name it I felt it. I went inside and sat in a recliner and it took at least thirty minutes for things to settle down, and then…I got the migraine shimmer! Are you kidding me?!?!?

I slammed two advil, a bottle of water, lay down on the bed, and waited it out. About a half an hour later, hubby came in, closed the blinds, gave me another two advil, and ran interference with my mother, God bless him.

The shimmer left, the pain never got full blown, I got a shower, and now it’s just the pressure that lingers afterwards.

Cheers!

-N

Writing, Quilting and Doctor Who

I’m writing here. Writing and sewing. Mozart is cranked, wine is poured. I’m basking in the solitude of creativity. It is awesome!!

Almost 1000 words today. Anchor Bay is coming into focus.

My story has been at a standstill until the other night, after my stress meltdown. I picked up my story folder, read through some notes, and started to plot some scenes. Before long the cobwebs cleared and I remembered who these people were and where they were going. As I sat here today with those notes spread out, and the map I drew of my imaginary town in front of me, the good feeling of accomplishment filled my literary soul.

Behind me is my cutting table with the pieces of a baby quilt cut and laid out in order. It is going to be so cute. It is for my brand new great nephew Andrew. I also owe one to great nephew Bodie, and that one is next. I enjoy the process of quilting. To make quilts, cutting and measuring need to be precise. Quilters are the first to say that making a quilt is a lot of sewing and pulling it apart and resewing.

It gives us quilters a good excuse to buy extra fabric!! You know – just in case.

This weekend hubby and I start prepping for our Galifrey One costumes. Chuck is going to be the “The War Doctor” (John Hurt played him) and I am going to be “Sarah Jane Smith” played by the late Elizabeth Sladen. We have been thinking of Charlie being K-9 but his mom and I don’t believe he would put up with wearing the costume all day! Oh well. Aaron, Chelsea, and Melissa are playing various Doctors and Companions also. I am going to make matching T-shirts for us to wear one of the days of the convention.

We are the WhoviVaughns.

Cheers!

-N

Life is a Steamroller

So annoyed, ready to run away, so much to do, how far away can I get with what is in the bank, four projects due by the middle of February, no writing done since ??

Life has spiraled out of my control.

Wonder who the new football coach will be for the UA Wildcats?

My 87 year old mother lives here, we have two German Shepherds and a cat, and I am feeling trapped. My hubby is very busy speaking my love language – acts of service – and I wish I could just grab some me some vino (whiskey for him) and snuggle up for a make out session. But…the privacy issue is just that, an issue.

Chuck and I have tickets for Galifrey One in Los Angeles Feb 16-18, 2018. When we bought the tickets nearly a year ago we had my sweet Millie and that was it. Easy solution, drop her at the kennel and off we go. But oh no, not now! After a three week long search I was unable to find respite care for my mother that ran less that $150 a day, and only one place would do less than a two week minimum. Plus they all require a doctors orders since she is on prescription medications, and has memory and vision loss.

The two big dogs (even though they are very good dogs) are going to run me $50-60 a day. The cat is pretty self sufficient, just make sure the cat box is fresh, and food and water set out for the time we are gone and she is all good. I love her.

But damn!

I got to the point where I started to develop stress headaches every day at 4pm, I was about to cancel the whole thing. I really didn’t want to since all my kids and my grandson would be together with us for the first time in I can’t remember when.

Oh hell no, I’m not missing this.

Then…God took mercy on me and I found out my great nephew Kristopher is moving to Catalina soon and he will stay here the whole time, helping with his GG (Great Grandmother) and taking care of the animals! Woo Hoo! Did I mention I love that kid?! Last night, for the first time in weeks I didn’t get a headache.

So let’s see if things will settle down and I can focus on what I need to do before my awesome trip to Doctor Who land.

Cheers!

-N

The words are back

I’m very glad to share I have been writing again!

I sat down, opened the file, read what I had already written – I’ve done this before with no results – and when I reached the end of the text another line came to my mind, then another, and before I knew it 1000 words were knocked out and my mind was flying. It was bliss. I’ve since added more words, plotted the next couple of chapters, and fleshed out an important character I didn’t yet know very well.

This fed the creativity in my brain for the cosplay costume I am making. I was becoming so stale it was disconcerting and depressing. I can’t express how great it feels to get things moving once more. One thing I did discover is I need to ignore the distractions, specifically a person whose negativity is counterproductive. I shut the door, blast the Netflix or music and get busy writing and sewing. Woo hoo, it’s fun.

I spent four days in the LA area with my sister, Mary, and I think that started the brain cleansing. The laughing we did felt great. A good, long, loud belly laugh does wonders for the perspective. We spent hours at the ocean, we cruised down one canyon and up another listening to great music, singing, and remembering. Went to a wine tasting, had breakfast at Weiler’s-twice-and spent plenty of time with Melissa and Charlie (love kissing that boy.) Got a little too much sun. I felt young, bright, free, and adventurous. It was a perfect respite from the tension that flows from the negative person in my house.

I would have liked to have Chuck along but this was a girls trip. Next time!

The nights are cooling off, finally! The days are still too close to hell fire for me, but thank goodness for refrigeration and lots of fans to keep the air moving. My nephew is holding his own in Army basic, hubby is busy with his leather working, my kids are busy productive humans, and life is going on.

“There’s no such thing as too much magic, pixie dust, or fun.”

Cheers!

-N

Being on track

There are so many things requiring my focus this summer, and I have to prioritize now more than ever. At the end of this month my mother will be moving into our house and a whole new set of issues will come with that. We have some changes to the house in order to accommodate her walker. She can’t do stairs without assistance so a ramp is required for access. Also an exterior door for her is being installed. Chuck is taking care of these changes, and he is doing a good job.

I have two stories in the works, and researching developing an author web site. My daughter and grandson will be here in a few weeks, there is a big birthday party in Phoenix for my great nephew at the same time, providing a chance to visit with family.

Monsoon storms are about ready to bust out which will be great for the fires in the mountains. We can smell the smoke in the air. The wildfire crews have been staging their helicopter water drops from Catalina, so we have been watchng them flying in and out.

I have a quilt to start and shirt to finish, some mending to do, and five bags of clothing donations to catalogue.

I hope to start going back to the gym in the fall, maybe make one more trip to California before school starts, and try to be as productive as possible in my writing.

I’ll be good as long as the wine holds out!

Cheers!

-N

No cure for travel bug

I was born into a military family. When I was six months old my father was transferred from Harlingen, Texas to Yuma, Arizona. This began a life of travel for our family, thanks to the US Air Force. It was all I knew and I adapted well to this transient lifestyle. I made easy but not lasting friendships, and I looked forward to the next assignment my father was given.

By the time I started high school in Tucson I had lived in Texas, Florida, Georgia, Arizona, Japan and the Philippines. In 1971 my father retired at Davis-Monthan  AFB in Tucson.

I was not happy about it. My sisters felt very different than I.

2There were so many places I wanted to see, but my dad was done. His retirement after 20+ years was what he wanted. Before his service in the Air Force he had spent active duty in the Navy then post WWII in Navy reserves as a very young man. So to him his military career was completed.

However, I had acquired an incurable case of travel bug.

I love going someplace I have never been, finding my way around, and fitting into life in that locale. Becoming acquainted with the locals who give you tips on the best places to eat, shop, and relax is enlightening and empowering as a traveler. Regularly I get what I think is a sort of travel depression from longing for the sights and sounds of a distant place.

My dilemma is the disposable cash to fulfill these desires.

So I study photos, history and literature, immersing my mind in what is still left to discover about places like Istanbul, Edinburgh or Budapest. Amazing as it may seem I’ve never been to New York City and count on it, that it’s on my bucket list. I would love to travel from Tuscany to Sicily trying local wines and food. I want to hike the Appalachian trail, spending the days finding the secrets of the mountains. I would love to sit at a bistro in Paris within sight of the Eiffel Tower, watching humanity pass by. Diving in the Florida Keys or the Red Sea, walking a forest of Blue Bells in Kent, waiting for Civil War ghosts at Gettysburg and riding the train from Tokyo to Misawa in Japan. You get the drift.

Desiring the unknown, compelled by different culture and language, finding out what I need to collect for understanding from the next stop and pushing myself toward discovery, I dream of skies, stars, food, faces, and an understanding that my journey will ultimately bestow on me is thrilling.

Immersing yourself in a new environment and culture is the best way to accept the differences and similarities in all of us.

Cheers!

-N

(P.S. My father was movie star handsome!)