A Catalina Party

I’ve been on a blogging hiatus, primarily because I was struggling with inspiration for any kind of writing. The stresses of life hit me like a category five hurricane. Thoughts and ideas were destroyed like 200 mph winds throw around a metal shed, and rip off the roof. The next step in my story plot was washed away from my mind like the storm surge will swipe the surface of the ground away, debris lost to the tides. I have struggled, cried, complained, and spent quiet time in thought. Where can I start? Author Twist Phelan gave me a suggestion, to start with just a paragraph, so that is what I am doing. This is Nancy fighting back, rebuilding the house, pumping out the water, throwing away the ruined furniture, and repainting.

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Last Saturday I held a farewell party for my nephew, Austin, who is leaving for Army basic training. He is actually my great nephew but I never make those distinctions. This party was important to me for a couple of reasons. The first is I was there when Austin was born. I helped his mom be calm through a difficult delivery. I watched as he was helped to take his first breaths, when he made his first cries, and when he peed on his dad.

Austin has always been important to me.

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He has struggled with some poor life choices, let the wrong people influence him, dealt with abuse, and turned the corner to focus on a direction that is healthy, both physically and emotionally. He has found his spiritual voice giving him a strength to release detrimental humans in his life. I am incredibly proud of him.

The party was here at my house, in the “party yard” and was filled with family and friends who came to celebrate this step in his future.

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The music was rocking, the kids were running, the drinks were flowing, the food was plentiful, the ice cream was homemade, and the cake was Army cammo.

Once the sun went down the bonfire was lit and the little ones were entertained by waving sparklers.

Austin represented third and fourth generations at the party – how cool is that! He was able to tease and chase his young cousins. He had cousins present who were older by a decade to as young as a year old. He had friends there who grew up with him. It was perfect.

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I took a moment to share with everyone how proud I was of him and to give him a cheer.

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It was fun. I think he was a bit surprised at the whole thing.

 

He will leave for basic training on October 2nd. But he will stay in our hearts and minds as he serves his country and makes us all proud! dsc0043.jpgSo I leave you with this special picture of Austin and I, and the party.

This is a Catalina AZ party!

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Mom brain

I use Marco Polo to video chat with my kids and hubby. It is an easy app that works like a video walkie-talkie. It’s great to see their faces while chatting, and I have the app on my tablet and phone.

I had a chat with my son last night that was a bit unnerving. We were talking about them preparing for Hurricane Irma who is now a category 5 and is likely to hit Florida. My kids live in Orlando. The governor of Florida has declared the entire state in emergency status.

Our family are still dealing with damage and clean up of my aunt and her children who live in the Houston area. Waiting for updates was stressful. Watching Harvey hover over Seabrook was scary. Even a hurricane prone region with time tested preparation can only handle so much water and wind.

My son and daughter-in-law are living in our 5th wheel in an RV park. It is water tight so rain isn’t an issue, but the wind is the nemesis of a trailer. He was talking about locating the nearest shelters, storing important documents and possessions, asking us to check on our insurance coverage: it gave me pause. My first thought was a mom thought “I have to go to him!” but then the reality of the situation expanded in my mind and that’s the last thing he needs.

He is a smart man, with common sense. If he needs to he will talk to his dad about the details, and take care of his wife and himself. I know this rationally, but my mother brain wants to protect him. He’s my baby. It would be no different with my daughter. I’ve told hubby if a big earthquake happened in LA I would go. But…she is strong and smart, and unless she calls I would be in the way.

Yet, it is hard to stay here. I will pray and wait.

Cheers!

-N

Finding solitude

I’ve never been a fan of rising early unless it was to catch a flight to Hawaii. I was always the kid that slept in on Saturday mornings. I always waited until the last moment to get out of bed to get ready for work. I loved lying abed.

However since my mom moved in I have found the early morning, all by myself with my coffee and my tablet, is treasure for my sanity. Hubby sleeps until 8 since he gets off work at 11pm and is home by midnight. It takes him an hour or so to slow his mind and decompress so he is usually in bed by 2am.

In my morning solitude I read, feed the birds and the dogs, and listen to the early sounds of the neighborhood waking. On weekdays this includes the sounds of school buses, the garbage trucks, and people leaving for work. I imagine myself sitting on a porch beside the ocean or a mountain lake, trekking through Paris searching for a meal or stopping in a pub in Ireland for conversation and laughter.

Sometimes my mind plans home improvement ideas and the standard “if I won the lottery” schemes. Occasionally mom and Chuck are up and moving around at the same time, but there are those days that my care giving doesn’t start until 8:30 or 9am. Those are wonderful mornings.

Cheers!

-N

 

 

My new normal

My mother moved into a room in my house last Saturday.  She is 87, and is legally blind, has trouble with her knee, and requires a bit of supervision which she was paying for in the place she was living. It is not cheap.

Her room is a large bedroom with a handicap access bathroom. Lots of hand holds next to the toilet and in the tub. A shower chair is installed, and there is room for her to move about with her walker. It is coming together for her, and the days are slowly falling into a routine, for both of us. She has a very advanced case of macular degeneration so she does require help figuring out the remote for the television, connecting her phone to the charger, finding items in her room, and other things that are part of daily living.

I am with her 24/7, and I will admit after three days I needed some away time. Tuesday morning I took off and went to the store. All by myself. I grabbed a mocha frap with an extra espresso shot, bought six bottles of wine, and spent an hour wandering the store. It was very relaxing and once I was home my attitude was chipper!

Today I took another time to myself. A trip to Gadabout for waxing and stuff, another relaxing alone time.

This is how I will keep my sanity-having alone time. I have been known to retreat, hide out, and be in my own head to repair my psyche. I am fine on my own, alone, and exploring.

My mother is a person who requires the presence of others for conversation and not being alone. She has always been thus. She spends lots of time on the phone chatting up everyone she has a number for, and we have to make sure the filter is on – the “just because you are in the house doesn’t mean everyone needs to know our business” filter. Another thing we are working with her on is that her bedroom is a private space and we have no need or desire to know and hear what she is watching on TV, that she is in the bathroom, or changing clothes. The door must be closed!!!

This is my new normal. Fortunately my hubby is a kind and patient man.

Cheers!

-N

 

An adorable distraction

So many distractions. Not bad ones, but enough to make a new normal for a short time. My daughter and my grandson have been with us for a few days. Charlie is two and a half and very good at it. Someone was always on Charlie alert! “Tag you’re on Charlie alert!” We would laugh and get busy. My house is generally prepared for him, but there are still a few things he has to be watched over while he is near them.

Curiosity, energy, and fearlessness.

I was drinking from my water bottle and Charlie, who was eating graham crackers, came over and wanted a drink. Okay, no thinking about it I let him drink from it. Can you say backwash? Well that became his bottle and Nannie got a new one.

Poppa always has cool stuff to interest the little human. Feeding the dogs or building a porch, he had his own little shadow. Chuck is a good grandfather, and he connects to Charlie man to man.

Charlie has been to our place enough that he has started to remember things like the rack that holds the pots and pans, which bedroom is mine, which door goes to the dogs yard; all things imprinting on his memory. He also knows that if he runs up to me with his arms wide and calls “Nannie” I am a total sap. He pulls this pretty effectively with “Poppa” also.

We have had a very active monsoon in southern Arizona so far, nearly 4 inches of rain in the last couple of weeks, so my grass is lush and soft. Just perfect for a barefoot boy. He also discovered the joys of playing in a big puddle. Big rocks make big splashes and makes Momma and Nannie jump – much to his glee. I think in a few years we will have a tree climber on our hands. He really wanted to get up in the branches.

Last Saturday we went to a birthday party in Phoenix. My niece’s little boy turned one. The coolest part was that I brought my mother along and she sat with her littlest great grandchildren for a priceless picture. They call her GG and we realized that the two older ones are the only ones who will probably remember GG.  I am so joyful when I hear Charlie say GG.

The progress of our family relationship with him keeps my mind excited, and my heart fully engaged with love.

Cheers!

-N

 

 

Remembrance

A couple of weeks ago the oldest daughter of long time friends passed away from an aggressive form of adrenal cancer. The speed this disease took her down stunned all of us who knew her. From the day she told us of this diagnosis to the day she passed was months. This sweet woman is gone from here. Her two daughters will never know her touch except in memories and dreams. Her partner will face days of loss and pain as she goes day by day in the normal living of everyday life without the love of her life. How do we remember Shelley?

My young friend touched the lives of many people who needed housing they could afford. Shelley was the person who made the magic happen for these humans in San Antonio. Her fruitful and memorable life was honored by a video of memories from all the lives she touched, and was shown at a celebration of her life. Her loved ones shared photos and videos, stories were shared along with tears, laughter, and love.

I can only hope others will have memory treasures of me to comfort them.

This Saturday my little great nephew will be celebrating one full year of life. This is a big deal for every human. I’m sure all of us have been to those “birthday” parties for a one year old. They are usually parties for the adults since a one year old has no clue what is up. The birthday kid gets a ton of gifts they can’t even open, and have no idea who they are from. The pictures will tell the story to this kid when they are in high school and the parents want to embarrass them. Is this the best way to honor this milestone in age?

Rather than the typical adult get together disguised as a birthday party, there will be a chance for all of the family and friends to bring letters and other things to put in a time capsule, to be given to him on his 18th birthday. An ideal way to celebrate his first year of life by looking forward.

It’s been a thoughtful time for me as I composed my letter for Bodie. Hubby and I decided to write our own letters to him. Writing a letter to an eighteen year old in the future is an interesting project. What do we want him to know? What advice do we give? Who will he be at that age? My letter was two full pages, and Chuck’s was half a page. Both letters were written from the heart and in our own voices. I am curious what he will think when he reads them. Will we be around?

Remembering is hard when it is because of the loss of a loved one. It is hard when it is from a place of pain in the past. Remembering a future that hasn’t happened yet is one of hope and curiosity.

Memories are the video of the mind.

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

So freaking hot!

I’m sitting here inside my air conditioned home, drinking an iced coffee with Bailey’s thinking of why did anyone in their right mind stop and settle in Tucson or Phoenix? Okay, so Tucson does have beautiful mountains that get snow every winter and offers a cool respite from the damnable heat. A hundred years ago there were rivers that ran year round. But Phoenix?? The Salt River ran, but the hills are black volcanic rock.

Had to have been in winter.

June is hell in Southern Arizona. No rain, hardly a cloud, humans and animals hide inside, underground, in shade, wherever it is cooler. Folks who live where it gets very cold do the same thing during the winter – find warmth and shelter and hunker down.

There is a point in the day where nothing can cool me but to get wet. If I had a pool it would be ideal, but I don’t – so – I turn on the cold water in the shower and get drenched. It works, and I can make it through the day. In one of my books* I described the way evaporative cooling was done in this part of the state.  Fabric was soaked in water and draped over windows, the breeze would be cool as the fabric dried. June is perfect evaporative cooler month. They work great unless the temperature is too hot and the humidity is too low. In that case you will spend the day hosing off the cooler pads.

Years ago my son and I house-sat in Phoenix for my sister during the summer. It was my first experience at how ineffective a “swamp” cooler could be in the hot and dry Phoenix summer. My brother-in-law showed Aaron how to climb up the ladder holding the hose and wash down the cooler pads. Wet the pads worked great. Fortunately they had a pool so we spent hours in the water. It’s 120 degrees of dry heat!! That’s bull shite.

I hope one day to live in a home either at the ocean or on a lake, in a place that gets four seasons.

It is my dream, it is my fantasy.

Cheers!

-N

*https://www.amazon.com/Blame-Whiskey-Tombstone-Nancy-Vaughn-ebook/dp/B01CQ4S8R4

Mom’s Super Bowl experience

My mother has been a football fan for as long as I can remember, and she has been a Dallas Cowboys fan from the beginning of the franchise.  Because she was employed by the University of Arizona in the athletics department, she was given the opportunity to work a Super Bowl being held in Phoenix. I found this narrative she wrote of her experience and wanted to share it with you fine followers. I’ve left it just as she wrote it.

My Super Bowl Experience

By Norma Turner

January 26, 1998 Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe AZ

Dallas Cowboys vs Pittsburgh Steelers

 

At 6am we lined up to get our jackets. By 8:30 am we were at the NFL Experience and given our assignments. I was at the flag football field where the former NFL stars played a flag football game. Since it wasn’t being used after that I was soon moved and told to relieve different workers. I did that until 3:30pm. During that time I saw Peter Maxx and helped with security in his gallery. I was given a Peter Maxx Super Bowl pin. While performing the relief duty I observed Robert Shapiro and his family in attendance.

 

The Experience closed at 4pm and after clearing the perimeter of people we went to the Sony tent. They had set up a large wall size television where the game was broadcast. Just as the second quarter started we went across the street to the stadium to help with the half time. My team erected barricades to keep half time participants from intruding into the area where the Dallas Cowboys were to exit the field for their locker room. The entire team exited through our area and were within 1 to 1 ½ feet of us. Deion Sanders was the first Cowboy to exit. The team was very intense. The look from their eyes was like a woman in the last stage of delivery-ferocious. The exception was Emmett Smith who was very loose and excited. When my co-worker and I saw Barry Switzer we said “hi coach” and he smiled and nodded. When the team was secure we opened the area for the halftime participants to enter.

 

Diana Ross was the half time performer.

 

The reverse was done two minutes before the half time was over. After we let the entertainers and firetrucks out after the halftime activities the special teams coach was the first out and led the team who were just as intense as before. Spoke to Jay Novacek, Bill Bates, and Emmitt Smith. Barry Switzer acknowledged us again. I was very impressed with the condition of the jerseys of the linemen. Torn, greasy, grass stained, bloody, and obviously resewn before they returned to the field. While we were doing this we observed Joe Montana and Ahmad Rashad at the NBC trailer. They were friendly and spoke to some of our people. We went into the media tent to watch the game until just before the 4th quarter. At that time we went through the entrance tunnel where a crew put up barricades around a platform on which the trophy presentation was to occur. I was put on a crew to close and secure the end zone to only players. We were on the 15 yard line.

 

Dallas won 27-17.

 

After the trophy was awarded to Jerry Jones and Barry Switzer the team came through our lines on either side of me. A TV interviewer asked Bill Bates for an interview. He stood between me and the woman to my left and we watched his interview up close. Bill Bates was a real gentleman.

 

We went to the media tent again where players from both teams were being interviewed, and were assigned to stand beside them to make sure they weren’t bothered. I drew Cowboys Nate Newton, Scott Case, and Steeler Darren Perry.

 

When I left Scott Case I went to watch Cowboys Troy Aikman, Charles Haley, and Steelers Coach Cowhers be interviewed. Nice men all. The Cowboys players were praising Coach Switzer’s courage and patience. I left the tent to find my co-workers. It was at this time I saw Emmitt Smith, Mark Tunei, Larry Brown, and Leon Lett again. We also saw Jerry Jones and family ride off in a van escorted by four motorcycle police. After the Jones entourage left we went back on the busses for the CSC tent and our vehicles at 10:30pm.

 

During the day I wondered where my son-in-law, Chuck Vaughn, was because I never saw him all day. I thought he might have been stuck at the NFL Experience while we were in the stadium. Was I wrong! Early in the day he was taken to a party of big wigs. He was assigned to security for Cool and the Gang. Then he was assigned to the loge area with Dan Marino, Warren Moon, and James Belushi and families. He watched the game from the boxes there!

 

 

Cheers!

-N

A new cast member

I am so proud to announce that I am officially a grandmother! My daughter has been in the foster to adopt process for this last year, and last week the process was finalized and Melissa became the legal mother to my adorable grandson Charlie Vaughn.

The experience was amazing, I shed a few tears. Judge Soto was wonderful and shared the joy of the occasion with us. He has stuffed animals in his court room to give to the children. Once everything was completed he welcomed us up to take photos. Charlie did very well through out the whole thing.

In fact, when the judge asked Melissa to raise her right hand to swear in Charlie was on board with that as you can see in the pic below.

It was so wonderful because several people who are part of the village that participate in his life in California were there to support my daughter. This made me so proud of her, that she is the kind of person who elicits this response of loyalty in her friends.

Living in a different state I am glad to know she has a network of good humans nearby. As a teacher, she also works with a good group of people who understand when she has to be gone to do the “mom” thing with a sick child.

Here’s another cute pic showing the love between them.

From the first she felt an attachment to Charlie as newborn foster child. Her landlord fosters infants so Melissa was used to babies being around. But this little man was different and her heart got involved.

I met him when he was two months old and fell in love. God meant him for us.

Our joy is shared by our extended family as well. They were all so excited for Melissa and Charlie, ready to graft him permanently into the family tree. My son Aaron and daughter-in-law Chelsea are ready to spoil their new nephew. Of course no spoiling from me, haha!

I am Nannie and Chuck is Poppa.

We are family!

Cheers!

-N