The holiday sandwich

Well folks – Halloween down, Thanksgiving done, now the Christmas countdown begins.

The first two holidays were nonexistent this year. I never do the Halloween thing here since we haven’t had costumed trick-or-treating little humans in twenty years. We are a rural bedroom community north of Tucson with no street lights or sidewalks so there is just no reason to do things up. My decorations tend toward fall harvest themes inside the house. No pumpkins, skeletons, ghosts, witches or vampires in the vicinity.

Thanksgiving has, for years, been a real family time. My house tended to be the gathering place. I had plenty of room, and I enjoyed the whole process of celebrating the holiday with great food, football, laughter and love. I liked cooking the turkey, and sharing what everyone else brought to the table. I have a huge front yard where the annual Thanksgiving football game was held. Family made the effort to be together.

This year was different.

Neither of my kids could be here. Melissa and Bubba were with Vaughn family in Las Vegas. Aaron and Chelsea were in Florida and Oklahoma respectively and Aaron was working at his Disney World tech gig. My sisters had their own family things, and my mom was attending a huge Thanksgiving feast at her retirement apartments. Chuck got a notice from the University of Arizona asking employees and their families for help feeding the troops at Davis Monthan AFB who were staying in town for the holiday, so we signed up-ready to volunteer. We made a big mistake on the date, expecting it to happen on Thanksgiving day at the UA campus. At the last minute I discovered it was scheduled for the week before Thanksgiving and at the base! We totally blew it. Chuck was working that day and I hadn’t cooked anything or made any purchases, so that fell through.

We decided to keep with the volunteer idea and I started checking for places to help out. I found out that the Salvation Army did a Thanksgiving meal at St. Demetrius church so I started calling and emailing to put our names in the hat. Granted we were down to the wire time wise, so I wasn’t sure what would happen, but so be it. We never heard a word from anyone telling us yes, no or get lost. No return phone calls, no email reply. Nothing. So…Thanksgiving was just a day off for Chuck that we spent cleaning, doing outdoor chores, moving some furniture, binge watching Hallmark Christmas movies and just hanging out looking at all the pictures on Facebook of Thanksgiving feasts others were having.

Now we are planning Christmas. Melissa will be here with Bubba so it will be very fun having a wee one here. It is our first Christmas as Nannie and Poppa. Aaron will still be in Florida working and Chelsea will still be in Oklahoma. Hopefully my mom will be sharing Christmas eve with us which will be our Christmas meal since Chuck has to go to work at 1pm Christmas day. Yet we will be decorated and festive!!

How has your holiday season been so far?

Cheers!

-N

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Standing up

I’ve been looking at all of the media about the election. The mainstream media as well as social media. It is scary how divisive and defensive the comments are, and how aggressive humans can be when they feel wronged. What surprises me is that one side feels since they lost there is something wrong and they feel the process failed them. The people who won feel vindicated and validated, as though an oppressed voice was finally heard. Broad statements lumping vast populations into groups identified generally as stupid or intolerant because of their political positions have polarized humans, even within families. I am sorry if there are people who will never be my friend because of how I voted. I will say this was one of the hardest votes I have ever cast, and yet I was privileged to have the opportunity.

I’m still deciding. “He that is without sin cast the first stone.” John 8:7

Even though Mr. Trump has won, there is no full mandate or complete consensus in this win. It represents an evenly divided voting public, so Mr. Trump needs to see that reconciliation and healing need to be in all his statements and actions. This is no time for recriminations and bragging. Now we need to move forward. As a Christian (Jesus follower) I know God sets these things in place, just as He has in the past. Now comes accountability for what has been given.

Intolerance and racism seem to be the buzzwords now. For an example of the epitome of intolerance look at radical Islam. We need leadership now that will force tolerance on them the way the USA is expected to be tolerant. If you come to this country to live, you are under our laws and constitution. Those are the final and ultimate say in the USA. We are no different in this than in most other countries-especially the ones who are trying to force “tolerance” on us. Radicl Islam is racist, homophobic, misogynistic, and profoundly intolerant and expect to be allowed to continue with this attitude unpunished wherever they go. Bite me!

I’ve been discriminated against because I am white, I’ve endured rude and sexist comments because I am female, I’ve been ridiculed because of my weight, my extensive work experience was marginalized because of my lack of a degree, I’ve also been harassed because of my faith. My first best friend was black and it didn’t matter, my parents had best friends who were mixed race couples, I have a young friend I would be there for should she need it who happens to be black. I’ve seen what people of color have endured. I remember when there were “colored” and “white” bathrooms and drinking fountains but that doesn’t mean I felt privilege because of this. Instead I felt ashamed, and sad that humans would minimize other humans. I was profiled because of the pealing paint of my old but reliable car by the police officer who pulled me over. He was stunned when I produced  a valid drivers license, car registration and proof of insurance since he fully expected me to not have at least one of those. I know what it feels like to live on welfare and food stamps because I was an out of work single parent. I admit I was motivated to get work, so that lasted about a year, but I’ve been there.

“Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and work with your hands just as we have shown you, so your daily life will win the respect of outsiders and you will not be dependent on anyone.” 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12

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I’m starting a grass roots movement right here, right now to elect my husband, Chuck Vaughn as the next president.
He is honorable, has integrity, is intelligent, has served in the military, is well respected, and has worked hard his whole life. He raised two amazing and self-sufficient children, and stands up for those who are oppressed.

This is the man who needs to run this country. BOOM!

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!)

 

 

Coast to Coast-almost part 3

Dude – Florida is freakin’ far from Arizona!!

I admit I was a touch weepy when I left my baby boy in Florida. But I am always that way when I leave my kids behind. I have the BEST kids, evah.

Destination Catalina, Arizona.

Thursday morning I headed my truck toward I-75 in the direction of Tallahassee and points west via I-10. Stopped for a big coffee and a cup of donut holes from Dunkin Donuts, filled the truck, and took advantage of very light interstate traffic.  Found a music station and set my cruise control to 70 and let my mind wander. The southeast is so beautiful, filled with huge trees with big leaves and grass that grows right to the edge of the road-very unlike southern Arizona. I decided on a side trip that represented my weather geekness. I would swing down to Pass Christian, Mississippi and visit the site of the Richelieu Apartments. This building along with dozens of others were decimated by Hurricane Camille’s 23 foot storm surge in 1969. The area also took the brunt of Hurricane Katrina’s eye wall winds and 28 foot storm surge. I had to see for myself how close to the gulf this sleepy little town really is. See for yourself.20161027_155121

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These two photos show the lot where the apartments stood. As you can see from the one on the left showing the view toward the ocean it is only five or six feet above sea level. The pic on the right shows there is construction going on at the site. Perhaps, as is evidenced by other structures in the area, the ground floors are unused or used for parking. As I came down the road toward the ocean I realized I hit a point where the trees thinned out significantly and I saw dozens of cement slabs, evidence of the storm surges swiping the earth clear. It was humbling to see nature’s unstoppable strength. 20161027_155235 20161027_155247

Standing on the ground, looking directly across the road at the ocean, imagine seeing a wall of surging, debris filled sea water, over 20 feet high coming toward you. This is what the gulf normally looks like. It is stunning to picture in your mind the wrath of Neptune.

I must say Mississippi has some incredible rest areas just near the borders of Louisiana and Florida. I stopped to move around, rest and reflect at this gorgeous spot just inside the border before Louisiana. 20161027_164951 20161027_164945 20161027_164939

One inside Louisiana I discovered the freeways are a nasty, bumpy, narrow mess. I’m pretty sure I’ve not experienced freeways so badly cared for. I can’t imagine how the truckers deal with it. Probably just blast on through to get it over with. Florida and Texas highways are way better. Another thing I noticed as I moved further from Florida, with the friendliest population I have ever met, the people weren’t as nice. I was so spoiled after nearly a week in Florida.

Florida people are wonderfully friendly.

I spent the night at a Super 8 in Lafayette, Louisiana and all I can say is the WiFi was crappy, and I was at the end of the hall next to the ice machine and an exit. Scary for a woman alone. At 5am the next morning someone decided to fill their ice chest at the obnoxiously loud machine. Check that one off the list. I found a place to fill the truck, it was a nice, wide open clean place. However the diesel pump did not have a latch on the handle! It is a nightmare to hold the pump while you fill the truck with 35 gallons of gas. Switching hands several times I finally stopped when I knew I had enough to get me to Texas. Both hands were sore and shaking. Never do that again.

I cruised on through Beaumont, Houston and San Antonio on I-10 heading toward my stopping destination of Ft. Stockton. I stopped in a little wide spot called Seely, Texas for a Whataburger and gas fillup. Never again! It took me 40 minutes to get my food, and only then after I brought up my receipt to get a refund and leave. They compensated me with an apple pie, no thanks. I was bummed because I love Whataburger. Then it took me two tries, crossing back and forth across an over the top busy road with no traffic lights to get gas. I really think this place is a truck stop turned into a town and they didn’t do it well.

I arrived in Ft. Stockton around 8pm and found a room at the Hampton Inn, super nice, very friendly and helpful, ready to get a good night’s rest. I spent a comfortable night in the spacious room after dinner at the restaurant next door (got a 20% discount showing my room key.) I got up the next morning, packed and headed down to the lobby for a complimentary breakfast only to discover the lobby was filled with a football team. UMHB-University of Mary-Hardin Baylor and I loved it. They were so sweet, lots of yes ma’ams and deferential treatment for me while I sat in the middle a bunch of cute boys. I did discover they were undefeated and heading to play a local college team (which I found out later they had beat.)

I filled up and directed the truck toward El Paso via Van Horn. My grandmother used to say there was no reason to cremate anyone because there is enough land between Pecos and Van Horn to bury everyone in the world! Hilarious woman. During this time I found myself in the middle of “the fight of the 18 wheelers” much to my dismay. These drivers didn’t seem to care I was there, they were in this game of who can speed up and pass the other the closest, then cut off the other guy behind him, who then speeds up and passes that guy. I was nearly side swiped by a red car trying to get away from them. I will say it made the trip go quickly as I tried to stay alive!

I didn’t need to stop for gas, amazing mileage in the diesel truck, so I blew through El Paso, Las Cruces, Deming, Lordsburg, Willcox, Benson, and into Tucson. I arrived in Catalina SAturday afternoon around 4pm very glad to be done with the trip.20161029_154807

Took this pic after I pulled up to the house, glad to be home. Got lots of welcome home love from Chuck and Millie. Unloading, unpacking and laundry was on the agenda.

But my heart was happy that we helped make it possible for Aaron and Chelsea to live as they start their grand adventure.

Cheers!

-N

Coast to coast-almost part 2

I have an amazing son.

Saturday, after we got the RV all set, hooked up and running, we took Chuck to the airport.He had to be at work the next day so he had to escape back home. My sister, Lisa, picked him up at the Tucson airport, and Aaron and I settled into getting his house in order.

A big thing we discovered was a seal at the base of the toilet had somehow got twisted and was across the opening!

Nasty. The toilet paper was getting caught on it keeping it from draining-ok TMI.

When we bought the RV we purchased extended warranty insurance which covers a lot. It does cover the bathroom thing, but only the connections. Really?! Seals wear out and are not covered! Suffice it to say we were majorly bummed. The repair guy I talked to who does warranty covered repairs suspected this and instead of us paying out of pocket for him to come repair it he said, “If your son is good with tools he can do this himself and will save you some money.” Needless to say Aaron is just like his dad about fixing things. So Aaron took off the bolts, tilted the toilet on its side, (I cleaned it up-no need to have my repair man gagging) and we found the seal was fine just twisted. He replaced it and taa daa! It worked perfectly.

Across the street from the RV park is a huge RV sales, service, and supply store. We headed over to get a look at it. He can get his propane there, discounted because of where he is staying, we got some black water tank deodorizer, a new sliding piece for the front door, and a new sprayer for the toilet (it was leaking.) Aaron met the lady who works in the store, and when we got back he got to work doing more stuff.

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Another problem we found was the nut that connected the gas to the pilot lite on the stove was loose. So he took it apart, tightened the nut and the pilot lite worked perfect

After all that it was time to set up his PO Box, and have a bit of fun. I will say this, Winter Garden, Florida is beautiful. The streets are clean and the trees and shrubs groomed, the buildings well tended and Jill at the Post Office is a very cool woman.

Aaron and I decided to head to the Atlantic on my last day in Florida. We planned to stop in at Kennedy Space Visitor Center and then head down to Cocoa Beach for some ocean time. The Space Center was very interesting, very interactive and a bit pricey. Still as space geeks we dug it. My late uncle Jimmie Forehand was truly a rocket scientist!

It was a great time and I would love to go back and spend the whole day exploring.

Cocoa Beach was special because it was clean, beautiful, not too crowded, and it was my son’s first visit to the Atlantic Ocean. The waves were great, at least 3-4 feet, and a nice breeze was blowing in.

I’m pretty sure I’ve been there to introduce Aaron to every ocean he has seen. As an ocean lover it is my pleasure. This day finished with a drive back through Orlando at rush hour but we had enjoyed such a relaxing, cool day we handled it with the help of Sirius radio comedy shows and classic vinyl rock music!

Part three is my drive back to Arizona, by myself, all the way from Florida with a special side trip in Mississippi.

Cheers!

-N