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

Something tasty

I have fun with cooking all kinds of things. One thing I like to do is to find an interesting recipe in a cookbook or magazine, and make it just as the recipe instructs. After it is made I start tasting the completed dish which leads to tweaking and adjusting until I have made a whole new recipe.

A recipe that is my own.

This process works because I have learned how to use various ingredients, and how different things affect the taste or texture of a particular food. What is wonderful, after I have made the dish my own, are the favorable responses by others to the foods I make. I think all cooks, chefs, and bakers enjoy seeing people relish a tasty treat they’ve made.

The most recent fun items I’ve come up with is a creamy homemade ice cream base recipe which is easy to flavor, and chewy cream cheese cocoa cookies.

I have also begun to write out these recipe and collect them in a computer file. You will find entrees, yummy drinks, desserts and breads. I hope one day to put them in a book to share. I don’t expect to be the next Ina Garten or Pioneer Woman, but these recipes have been enjoyed by family and friends.

A helpful part of my cooking is the wonderful shelf hubby built in the kitchen to hold pans, pots, and other things. It is made from a chrome shelf unit he had and he made the top of it from an old door. It is easy to see what I need, and there are outlets on the wall which is great for things that sit on top.

There are a few changes I want to make to my kitchen, especially the cabinets, but for right now everything is pretty much easy to grab and use.

Perfect, right?

Cheers!

-N

Distractions

This past week has been full of situations, humans, responsibilities, any thing that can distract me from putting words to work and has kept me sidelined. There were things I enjoyed doing like making the costume for my daughter-in-law, but there were also circumstances that were stress filled emotional things and they were unavoidable.

I was fighting to find my joy.

When I look at the pictures on my phone, tablet, and laptop of Charlie then my joy surfaces. Working with my hubby on a cool home improvement project is rewarding, and I look forward to seeing it soon completed. Then one of those distractions worms its way into my smile.

Rather than sitting down uninterrupted and writing 2000+ words, I stop quickly, bang out 200, then have to pull away. Argh!

I’m fighting the urge to run away and hide. This is my usual response to unpleasant distractions. Anyone want to pay for a week in Tuscany for me? Passport is ready.

On top of all of this it is really starting to heat up here in Southern Arizona. It’s been threatening for a month, now it is unavoidable. This does not help my state of mind because I don’t do hot. If it’s going to be this damn hot there should be an ocean nearby.

Ya know what I’m sayin’?

I wonder how Tinkerbell deals with times like this? Pixie dust! I need me some pixie dust! Personally I like the blue stuff.

 

Historical tidbit: Did you know there is not one photo or likeness ever made of Cochise?

Good for him.

 

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

 

 

Books, life, and high school

I’m sitting here with three chapters written, ten chapters plotted, and at least half of the story laid out on paper. This feels good.

Also on my plate, is the design and construction of a cosplay costume for my daughter-in-law. So the creative muse is very busy.

My own personal deadlines for each project are good for me. I need these and work well in this situation. I always have. I am good at spreading a project out, making timelines, seeing what needs to happen next, and looking forward to the thrill of completion.

Time works when I have plenty to do. That saying “if you want something done, give it to a busy person,” well that is me. When I am busy, I am very productive.

Recently I have connected with some people from my high school years. I went to two different high schools, changing between sophomore and junior years. Sunnyside was a big school where I, as a new kid, could fade into the background and find my niche. The second school, Flowing Wells, was a smaller school where it seemed everyone had grown up together and had long histories, and the new kid was on probation. These classmates from Flowing Wells are the ones I am meeting. I express it this way because I never knew these folks when I was in school. I really didn’t know many of the students at all.  Getting to know them and hearing their stories has helped with some bitterness I had about the school. They are very nice people and I hope to have more chances to get together.

At both schools I was involved in drama and music. I was fortunate enough to have some wonderful instructors and my enthusiasm for these subjects helped ease me through the troublesome high school times. I’ve used my high school experiences as fodder for my writing. In fact my short story “The Green Bag” has a few scenes colored from personal experiences at Flowing Wells, and drawn into the fiction of the story.

I think this is why I love to tell stories. My grandmother, my beautiful Nannie, was a story teller. In a scene from The Walton’s the grandmother tells John Boy that her people would gather in the evenings and tell all kinds of stories and she intended to pass these stories on to him. Nannie did this with her children and grandchildren, with the result that we all have our “Nannie” stories.

My cousin Niki and I have written down one of our most favorite about a family of bears, and I hope one day that it will be published. It would be a wonderful tribute to Nannie, and a wonderful opportunity for other children to hear the story that captivated us.

Books. I have over a thousand in my personal library. It is something I hope to hand over to my children as a heritage. Writing, story telling, books-they are part of me. But the best part is sharing them with an eager reader. Don’t you agree?

Cheers!

-N

The new book

Story construction, especially the part where the characters are created, fleshed out, and developed into someone who draws emotion from you, is where I am in my current work.

My historical romance stories are equal parts romance and history. I need to make sure my people and places are fit together in a way that is consistent for the time period. The culture and the morals of the time are critical to the realism of the story. The history research plays into that part of the story. The romance part, the sexy part I build into the relationships in a way that is as compelling to me as I hope it is to the reader.

One part of the history I write has action in it. I love writing the action, with the help of my hubby. He is great help in developing these parts, especially from the mans perspective. The current story is set in 1869, has post civil war US Army and Chiricahua Apaches in it. The research has been so exciting, and fun. The discoveries I’ve made and the knowledge I’ve garnered is compelling.

I have to tell this story!

This romance is one I hinted at in the previous book. It’s funny how as a writer you find out what the character wants to say, feel, and do. They exist in my mind, but once they are on paper they become more than the words. I know what they sound like, how they walk, the way they caress the person they desire, and the emotions in their relationships.
I did discover a new character who stepped onto the story stage and will really mix things up. I’m excited to see how this all teases out.

So now it’s time to put it together.

Cheers!
-N

Click on the link below to buy the first book in the trilogy.