My sage advice is this…listen to your instincts!

I learned a lesson, the hard way.

My daughter and grandson had just moved to Phoenix from LA last Saturday with the help of her dad. I had hoped to meet them Saturday to help unload, kiss my little fella and welcome my daughter back to her home state after twenty years in California. They got a late start and didn’t get into town until the evening. So a trip up wasn’t going to happen. We had made previous plans to meet up with our Phoenix family on Wednesday to kick back, watch fireworks and be together, but I wanted to see them, so…against my instincts to wait until July 4th, I decided instead drive up yesterday, drop off my mom at my sister’s house and go to my daughter’s new place to help her get things put together. I figured I could help her best by keeping Bubba busy while she got some stuff knocked out and settled in.

Wrong!!

Mom and I left after church, stopped for a burger and drink, and headed out on the two hour drive to my sister’s place. She lives in Glendale which is northwest Phoenix. Things were going okay until after I turned off Hwy 79 onto Hwy 60. Now remember this is mid day, summer, central Arizona. I was about two miles down the road after my turn when I heard a loud knock on the bottom of my car, drove a bit more and there was another one, then a couple more. I was getting concerned since I hadn’t noticed stuff in the road. This red car came up beside me and the woman was vigorously pointing at my front tire. Damn!

I pulled over, got out and saw I had a flat tire that was shedding chucks of tread. The couple in the red car pulled off in front and she hurried over asking if I needed anything and if they could help with changing the tire. She was dressed beautifully so I reassured her I had AAA and I didn’t want them out there on the hot asphalt changing a tire. After a few moments of convincing her I was okay they left. Called AAA, and they responded quickly and efficiently telling me I was a priority since I was on the side of the road, and informed me a truck was on its way ETA 2:41pm.

My radio clock said 1:56pm! Nearly an hour at 102° outside.

So with about fifty minutes to wait, I put up the sun screen in the wind shield, rolled down the windows, turned off the a/c and the car, and proceeded to wait. I had a bottle of water that I wet napkins for mom and I to keep cool. There was a breeze so we had good old fashioned evaporative cooling. It wasn’t cool but was survivable. We also had ice cold drinks. My mother is 88, and not in the best of health.

I was stressed.

I spent the time, letting family know the situation, where we were, and the status while I watched the progress of the Phoenix Metro Towing truck heading my way on the app provided by AAA. Just want to say, they were great and kept calling to check on  us. Anyway about 2:20pm I looked in my rear view mirror to see an Arizona State Trooper pull up behind me. Suffice to say I was relieved and knew no matter what it would be okay. He got out and came over to mom’s side and asked how we were. I said the tow truck was coming in about twenty minutes. He looked at mom and asked me if I had plenty of gas and a good a/c. I replied I did and he said to start the car, pull farther off the road, set the brake, and turn on the a/c for mom and let’s start to change the tire. I was so on this and that’s just what I did. Mom was doing okay and I was being proactive.

I discovered I had no jack!

The only thing I had was the tool to lower the spare and pump the jack. “Shit!” yep yelled that out loud to all the desert creatures and the trooper. He went around and got his jack, but it was too big to fit under the low front of the PT Cruiser with a flat. Please God!?!? But then who should drive up, Mike with Phoenix Metro Towing. The trooper told him the deal with the jack, he went and got one that worked like a charm. Mike was my new best friend! He got the flat off, and pointed out I was missing a lug nut and the lug looked like it was broken. Okay, but can the tire stay on? Yep.

Right on!

Since it was a Sunday Discount Tire and Big O Tire are closed. The closest place I could go to get two new tires was the Walmart on Apache Trail in Apache Junction. This put me about 50 miles from my sister in Glendale. Amazing Mike, after giving me directions, followed me to said Walmart and then departed for parts unknown. I pulled in and as luck would have it no waiting! But…when the attendant was checking me in and saw the lug nut/lug situation he said Walmart can’t touch it. What?!?!? Nope, the liability, but he filled the donut spare with the proper air pressure and wished me luck.

In the meantime, unknown to me, hubby had called sister to ask her to find a place that was open that could get tires. I got back on Hwy 60, headed west. I had gone about three miles when I saw a highway patrol car behind me with flashing lights pulling ME over. What now?!?! The lovely woman officer came smiling up to my car to inform me when she first ran the plates it came back as a different vehicle, but a second time it came back as my car and I was free to go. I mentioned the flat/spare situation and she said that she thought the Discount Tire on Power Road was open on Sunday so I thanked her, and once again headed out. Turned off on to Power Rd, and found the tire store right away. Nope – closed. My sister called at that point to say her hubby had found a Pep Boys on Peoria and 67th that would do the work, was waiting for me and they closed a 6pm. It was 3:25 and 107°. I asked her to ask him if he thought I was good on the spare for the forty miles and I heard him say “Yes!” so back on the 60 we go.

I know there were plenty of drivers yesterday who were cussing the lady driving the purple PT Cruiser down the highway at 60mph but screw ’em, I had no options if that donut failed!

Twenty minutes later I pulled into the Pep Boys parking lot. I went inside and told the guy at the counter I was the lady with the Cruiser. He looked at me like I was speaking Klingon. He told me  that when the guy called he told them he couldn’t do it. This isn’t happening. I had to have something work out. My brother-in-law showed up and when he talked to the guy he realized it was the Pep Boys on Peoria and 75th, so off we went. We walked inside, and up to the service counter.  Manuel at the counter turned to another guy and asked if he talked to a man about tires for a PT Cruiser. He said, “Not me, that was Devin. Hey Devin, the guy with the cruiser is here.” I let out a huge breath, handed over the keys, got in my brother-in-law’s car and mom and I went to my sisters house.

My brain in a fog, my head aching and my mom very quiet, I ate, played with my grandson and hugged my daughter who were waiting there for us.

An hour later I had the car back, with two new front tires – mom and I would make it home. The Cruiser has an appointment this Friday to get the lug fixed, two new back tires and an oil change.

If I had followed my initial instinct to wait until Wednesday, my husband would have been with us, there is a good chance the tire would have been flat and replaced before we left, and I would have had a fun time with my family celebrating our great nation’s birthday.

Wednesday is off the schedule now since the Cruiser is going to the car doctor. The family had planned a get together here in Catalina on the 14th so I will still have family time.

Listen to your instincts.

Cheers!

-N

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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

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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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

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

 

 

What makes a friend?

What makes one human appealing as a friend? Are there certain characteristics and behaviors that attract others and draw them into a circle of friends?

Because my father was military we moved a lot when I was young. Consequently my friendships were very transient.  I believe this made it difficult for me to form lasting friendships.  My sisters and I are close, but they now have their own families to concern them. I had no real idea of what a lasting friendship looked like.

Until I met Kristen. For some reason she wanted to be my friend.

We met at work in 1985 and are still friends to this day, although she now lives in  St. Louis. We connected immediately, even though she was ten years younger than I. She would call me and want to hang out, would invite me to join her for a weekend at Rocky Point, Mexico. She thought of me when she was going somewhere and would often get me a small gift. She would drop in with a rose bush or small tree for my yard. She spent weekends with Chuck and I and the kids, she liked being with us.

She taught me how to be a friend. When she married I actually was a bridesmaid, not the wedding singer I usually was (although I did sing a song too), which felt very special. We spent lots of years enjoying our families together.

Her move made me realize I didn’t have a network of friends.

The people I know don’t seek me out. I would love to have a couple of girlfriends to do things with yet, I hesitate. Maybe I’ve become the kind of human that others say “Hi” to but I offer nothing to motivate them to be buddies. Perhaps I need more self reflection to know what is about me that keeps acquaintances from getting closer. I see pics on social media of people getting together, making the effort to connect, enjoying human interaction, and it gives me pause.

I know writing and sewing are solitary activities, but I love talking and laughing at happy hour or at my house with the music playing and a bonfire fire going and sharing a bottle of wine with friends.

Is it me?

Cheers!

-N

Christmas wishes

I shared on Facebook something a friend had posted about what she wanted for Christmas from her kids. It spoke to me profoundly. She said she just wanted them.

I miss my kids. They live on opposite coasts and in different states from me. When my daughter Melissa started at the University of Arizona she moved out and never moved home again. After graduation in 1997 she moved from Tucson to Los Angeles and is in California still.

My son Aaron left for Northern Arizona University in 2001 and spent a couple of summer breaks at home, then moved to California to attend school there. He met his wife there and after about a year they moved to Oklahoma, then Texas and now will be living in  Florida.

I admit I am envious of mothers who live near their grown children. It would be wonderful to have them over for Sunday dinners, be able to share birthdays with them, and plan holidays together. Just being able to spontaneously go to a football game together or share a bonfire party would give me such pleasure.

So my Christmas wish is time with my children. To laugh, love, and spend precious moments together.

Cheers!

-N

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

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!)