Studly Doright and I met our daughter and her family at an airport in Orlando yesterday. They’re spending today with us at a hotel in Cocoa Beach before boarding a cruise ship from Port Canaveral. I’ve tried to get myself included as a chaperone for the trip, but so far have had no luck. It didn’t help that I came down with a case of food poisoning last night and puked in the parking lot of the hotel. Now no one wants to take me along. Not even Studly.
There was some excitement around 2:43 this morning when an incredibly loud double sonic boom rattled the windows of our room. Grandson Garrett and I rushed out to the balcony to see if we could get a glimpse of the rocket as it broke away from the earth’s atmosphere. For one weird moment we stared in rapt attention at an extra tall flag pole, thinking it was the tail of the rocket’s trajectory. Sick as I was it made me giggle when we realized that the pole was stationary.
Then I returned to the bathroom where I continued to retch. Good times.
I think I feel better this morning. At least I can now identify a flag pole.
I already voted, so now it’s just a matter of nail biting. So sick of political ads, especially the negative ones. Wouldn’t it be nice if the ads stopped once you’d cast your votes? That being said, please vote.
On the 12th of November, I’m heading to Las Vegas for a huge writing conference at Bally’s (or the Horseshoe, Bally’s is getting a name change). I’m hoping to learn how to up my marketing game, which right now consists of me saying, “I’ve written books. Several books. You should buy them,” to everyone I meet. My friends are ready to throw me off a cliff, and I wouldn’t blame them.
I’m so excited to meet other indie authors and engage in geeky author stuff. I’m old, so I won’t overindulge. Maybe…
Then there’s Thanksgiving—my favorite holiday. Just good food, football, and fellowship. There’s no rush to buy gifts or push to over decorate. And the mimosas I make to aid in the cooking process are the best. Okay, they’re just orange juice and champagne, but they do the trick.
Our daughter and her kiddos are flying into Orlando in early December. Studly Doright and I are going to meet them at the airport and spend time with them before they leave on a cruise. I still hope one of the grandkids will let me hide in their suitcase. It could happen.
The build up to Christmas is in full swing, of course. Our son and his family are coming to celebrate with us at Doright Manor. So excited! I’m already buying gifts, and that’s something I normally put off until almost the last minute.
Oh, and somewhere in the mix, my newest book, Christmas at the Happy Valley Motor Inn and Resort will publish. Hopefully around Thanksgiving. 😳 Have I mentioned yet that I’m a writer? That I’ve published several books? Wait, that’s a cliff, please, I’m begging you. I won’t mention it again….
Whew! That was close. I think I’ll have another glass of wine.
A recent column by Sean Dietrich inspired this post. In it he talked about the drives he and his family took on the backroads way back when.
My family also enjoyed meandering drives on Sunday afternoons. We’d go to church, then to King’s Restaurant in Floydada, Texas. Afterwards Daddy would aim whichever secondhand car we owned at the time down one back road or another.
Sometimes we’d head in the direction of Turkey, Texas, the home of the grand master of Texas Swing, Bob Wills. Sometimes we’d head to Plainview, where singer and sausage king, Jimmy Dean hailed from. Lubbock, home of Buddy Holly, Mac Davis, and the Maines Brothers, was often our destination.
Other times we’d drive through South Plains, where my great grandparents staked their claim, and Lockney, our main rival in football. Good grief, we couldn’t stand Lockney.
I loved these drives—listening to my parents talk about the places we visited, the people who put these little towns on the map. It used to be a fantasy of mine that one day someone would drive through Floydada and say, “You know, that author, Leslie Noyes, grew up here. Her maiden name was Hall. She was Gerald and Freida’s daughter. Kind of odd as a kid, but maybe most authors are.”
I spent several days in the city known for showgirls, casinos, and over the top productions. But, lest you think I was in Las Vegas, Nevada, purely for pleasure, think again. Oh, I had plenty of fun, but not the kind you might be imagining.
Sometime last year I applied to attend a writer’s workshop hosted by author Craig Martelle. Knowing that my acceptance was a long shot, I quickly stored the thought of it in a deep, dark recess of my mind and got on with my life. Then, miracle of miracles, I received an invitation to attend and my mind was blown.
Those of you who know me can probably imagine the anxiety I felt. I began making excuses to myself so I could back out of the event. Then, I visited with my brother, Kelly. When I told him about the workshop, he offered to come to Vegas and hang out with me for a few days prior to the retreat weekend. That was all the encouragement I needed.
After spending six days in Sin City, I’m exhausted, but I wanted to share a few photos of what turned out to be an epic experience.
From the Las Vegas Meow Wolf art installation:
But behind the scenes, if one is fortunate enough to find it, lies the most incredible adventure.
One evening we had dinner at Gordon Ramsay’s Hell’s Kitchen. I really should have taken photos of my beautiful food, but in the heat of the moment I forgot. Let me tell you, the meal was incredible. I had salmon and green beans cooked to perfection. And the sticky toffee pudding was the bomb.
I did take a wonderful photo of Kelly and Susan though.
After dinner we strolled through a casino or two and Susan took this of my “little” brother and me.
Part of one day I hung out at Kelly and Susan’s travel trailer and visited with their dog, Gus.
So glad I had the chance to enjoy this time with Kelly and Susan. The older I get the more I appreciate these moments. And Kelly is barely even annoying anymore.
I’ll write a bit about the workshop in a day or so. It deserves it’s own post, but for now, I’m going to bed.
For Christmas my beautiful and thoughtful and exceedingly brilliant daughter presented me with the coolest gift.
Ashley purchased the miniature replica of Mayhem from a seller on Etsy, and I think it’s about the coolest thing ever. People are so darned clever and my daughter seems to know where to find the cleverest.
After the death of my mother-in-law, Saint Helen, we found boxes and boxes of photographs. I believe we could’ve papered the interior of her home with old photos and still had enough remaining to fill a dozen albums.
Many of the photos were ones I’d seen before: baby pictures of her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, along with photos from her retirement party and the trip she took to Alaska. But Saint Helen had saved some from the time she and I visited her eldest daughter, Lyn, in Jamaica, that I didn’t know existed.
I’ll share one with you because it features all three of us, Lyn, Saint Helen, and me. We’d gone on an adventure that day to a natural water park, the name of which escapes me now, but I clearly remember the day. The perfect weather and invitingly warm waters had the three of us giggling like little kids as we slid down the slippery rocks and plunged into a pool, only to climb again for another trip down. None of us were youngsters, but we all felt young that day.
They both are gone now, having passed within a day of each other from COVID just a few weeks ago.
Lyn died first, and I can clearly picture her beckoning her mother on from the other side. You know none of us could ever resist Lyn when she invited us on an adventure. I’d like to think they’re carefree again like we were on that beautiful Jamaica day.
See the small gold ring on the pinky finger of my dear mother-in-law, Saint Helen, in the picture below? You can’t tell from this angle, but there is an H inscribed on the top of the ring.
I was pleased and honored to be given the ring after her death. Depending on the time of day, the small ring either fit me snugly or a bit loosely. And since I wasn’t yet accustomed to wearing it, I had to make a conscious effort to make sure it was either on my finger or in the small bowl in which I keep my jewelry when I’m not wearing it.
Everything was going swimmingly until one afternoon I realized the ring was neither on my finger nor in the bowl. I lost it, both literally and figuratively.
Tearing through the house like a madwoman, I looked everywhere I thought the ring might be: the pockets of my blue jeans, inside my sock drawer, underneath every piece of furniture, within my bedsheets. And when I didn’t find it, I indulged in a major crying jag. That’s what poor Studly Doright came home to on Saturday afternoon. He patted me on the back and commiserated with me, saying “It’ll turn up.”
I wasn’t all that confident.
Then yesterday morning I decided to put on some makeup, even though I had no intention of leaving the house, and there, at the bottom of my makeup bag, I spotted a little circle of gold. It must’ve slipped off the previous morning.
I solemnly swear I will not wear this ring again until I’ve had it sized. My heart can’t take losing it again.
My daughter is a fine writer. I expect one day she’ll write a bestseller and everyone will be singing her praises. Right now, though, she is tied up with raising a beautiful family and working full time as the office manager of a busy veterinary hospital. She’s a pretty amazing human being and I love her so much it hurts sometimes.
Today she posted tributes to the two ladies our family lost to COVID this past week. I had planned on writing down my own memories, but honestly, Ashley’s tributes are so beautiful I could never have matched them. With her permission here’s her post from Facebook:
“My family suffered two great losses this past week. We gathered in Texas to remember, mourn, honor, and celebrate the lives of my Greatest Aunt Lyn and my Mema Helen. There are now two giant holes in my heart, and our family will never be the same without them.
Aunt Lynnie was full of life. She lived and loved with her entire heart, and with purpose. She was protective of everyone she loved, caring, hilarious, strong, adventurous, and a force to be reckoned with. If you ever had a chance to talk to her, you would almost immediately get a sense of who she was. She loved to talk about her family, her passions, and her pride and joy – the Hereford Senior Center and the thrift store that she made her baby. I can hear her laughter, and see her smile…the ones that lit up every room and made everyone feel welcomed and loved. She was always the one to suggest a “girl’s trip” to get a drink and lottery tickets.
Mema’s legacy will live on through our entire family. She was one of the most amazing people this world will ever know. The stories from her childhood in Pie Town, New Mexico. Her famous biscuits & gravy. Her laughter, especially when one of us said something slightly inappropriate that she thought she probably shouldn’t have been laughing at (and then the subsequent use of that person’s first AND middle names). Her love for her family. Her sense of adventure and the way her eyes lit up when she talked about trips to the casino, or her grandkids, or the cruises she enjoyed taking. She loved her church, her friends, and traveling. I can only hope I live my life with as much gusto and passion as my Mema did.”
My words—when folks die we tend to exaggerate their sweetness or say they were loved by all, even if they weren’t, but I can honestly say that these two women were admired by all who knew them. Gone from this world much too soon, but never forgotten. We will always love them.
I haven’t posted much lately. My mind is occupied with worry for my mother-in-law and sister-in-law, both of whom remain in an Amarillo hospital battling COVID. Both are now on ventilators.
On Tuesday I began my journey from Tallahassee, Florida, to Amarillo, Texas. I’m hoping to be a help and not a hindrance to the sister-in-law and niece who have been bearing the brunt of the responsibility these past few weeks.
Last night I stayed with my son and two of my grand dogs and this morning I’ll have a fairly short (four hour) drive to Amarillo.
The son and dogs were bright spots on my trip.
Ryder slept with me part of the night. He snores a lot less than Studly Doright.
Peace, people. Oh, and wear your masks and get vaccinated and boosted as soon as you can.