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

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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

 

 

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

 

 

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.

I’m back!!

Greetings all!

I am back from ten days spent caring for my grandson, and back to good internet service. He and I had a good time, lots of chasing a little human, flying body hugs, cleaning up messes, laundry, and all the assorted things that go with caring for a toddler.

It kind of kept me on my toes. Yet I had an advantage by his attendance at daycare. It is already paid for since he is still in the foster to adopt system, at least for a few more months, so I was able to get a lot of things done for my daughter while she was off chaperoning 15 eighth graders to Washington DC and NYC. Some grocery shopping, cleaned a lot, and got all her laundry done. Ran some errands for her, as well as having fun with the little man when he was with me.

Charlie is fearless. He would run to the little kid slides and climbing things, but once he was into it all he wanted to do was get on the big kid stuff. I was blown away by his balance and strength. He wasn’t fazed by the height, (not like me) and he liked the fast slides. But…he also really like covering himself in the sand. All I could think as I watched him roll around in it was ring worm, and kitty litter! Little humans get really dirty when they play.

I did discover the internet at her place was not a good as mine. It seemed to run intermittently, sometimes being very strong, then a moment later it was off. I mean as in my laptop saying no internet service. Very frustrating when trying to blog, email, and do research online.

Thus, I never got to do a blog post.

Well I am back, and after a couple of days of being sick once I got home, I am online, cleaning up after hubby being home by himself for ten days, and getting lots of love from Millie and Jake.

Cheers!

-N

Lessons in graceful aging

My mother has always been outgoing, fun loving, and outspoken. She is a deep down Texas girl , and an over the top Arizona Wildcats fan. In fact this woman is a true sports fan. Depending on the season her TV will be showing football, basketball, baseball, softball, tennis, golf, volleyball; she knows and loves most sports.

She raised three daughters, while married to a career military man, moving from state to state, per the orders of the US Air Force. She adapted, was fearless, instilled love and family values, and made sure dad was able to do the things he needed to in his job.

She spent months on her own caring for myself and my sister Lisa while my dad was stationed in Germany. She had been very sick during her pregnancy, and after delivery had gall bladder surgery (a big deal in 1956) so they felt she should stay behind (she hated that she missed it.)

She managed, sometimes barely, during his constant TDY to Phan Rhang, Vietnam while being stationed in the Philippines at Clark Air Base. Looking back I’m not sure I would have done as well living in a foreign country alone while my husband was gone for two or three months at a time to a war zone.

Once we girls were older she always had a part time job. Whether it was working in the pro-shop at the base golf course in Misawa, Japan or as a teacher’s aide at Homer Davis School in Tucson, Arizona. She worked in the athletic department of the University of Arizona for decades, meeting countless people who would remember her whenever they saw her. There were times she was distracted with responsibilities outside of the home, and I was amazed at her energy and will to get things done.

She spent years keeping things stable for us girls while dad worked shift work at ASARCO mines. When dad was seriously injured on the job and was disabled from the injury she diligently cared for his wounds, kept up the house, babysat her grandchildren, and continued to take part time employment. I could write a book, hmm.

Now she is a sprightly 86, and her age is becoming a factor in her lifestyle.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

After my dad passed away she lived with Chuck and I, and it worked well as long as she could drive. But age related macular degeneration left her vision impaired enough she couldn’t pass a vision test so no more driving. I’ll admit we were all thankful to the DMV for that one. With my husband and I both working full time she spent many days sitting in front of the TV, talking on the phone and waiting for one of us to come home. She was getting bored and felt very lonely. Local family members would come and take her out when they could, but their situation was the same -working full time. At one point my sister and I noticed symptoms of depression, and worried her health would start failing. After a heart to heart with her about it she consented to a search for a fun place to live.

She moved into a retirement community, not assisted living which she is quick to clarify, and has done very well for several years. She was busy with the activities they offered, she made lots of friends, she could share interests with other residents, and she seemed to blossom with youth. However, in the last year we have all noticed a slowing, frequent illness, less participation, and her own acknowledgement that she is weaker. She has started using a walker giving her a bit of independence, but she is having a painful problem with one of her knees, and a related problem with her hip.

It gives me pause.

I just talked to her about the Arizona Wildcats basketball team being the Sweet Sixteen, and she is so excited about it. She recalled her years working at the local games, and wants to talk to anyone about the game. She can hold her own with the best of them. She even worked a Super Bowl in Phoenix and was interviewed on local television about her participation. The Dallas Cowboys were playing in the game, and she was and is a Dallas fan.

So…we keep watching with envy, this woman who is pushing through life with pride, determination, and joy. Go mom!

Cheers!

-N

 

 

Bonus Child!

So perfectly said.
-N

grammyjoy

Bonus Child 2I am a stepmom and a stepgrandma.  I’ve been a stepmom for almost 28 years.  I’ve been through the good and the bad.  I know a little about this subject.

The new phrase is “Bonus Child.”  I like it.  It fits, but only if you want it to.  You see, the dynamic of a blended family can be either miserable or rewarding.  It takes work.  I made mistakes with my stepdaughters over the years and trust me, you don’t want to live with that guilt.

What I have found are some of the keys to step-parenting:  know your place – I’m not their mother, I am their father’s wife; and also, encourage your significant other’s relationship with their children.  I give to him, what I expect back.  My children and grandkids come first.  After all, they actually came first.  Doesn’t it make sense that I would have greater respect for…

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