Pictures from Las Vegas

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:

Just one of the many products on display at the Omega Mart—a clever façade for a fantastic world of imaginative art.
Personalized bleach.
Have you tried the Implied Chicken?
Or Emergency Clams.
The labels are worth a read.
Muscle Fresh Toothpaste. Yum.
Sparkling waters in interesting flavors.
Brother Kelly found something he really needed.

But behind the scenes, if one is fortunate enough to find it, lies the most incredible adventure.

That’s me talking to myself in a mirror. Yes, it took me a few seconds to recognize myself.
Kelly and Susan pose in a multi-dimensional work of art.
That’s a mop and bucket.

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.

Enjoying a pre-dinner cocktail. So good.

After dinner we strolled through a casino or two and Susan took this of my “little” brother and me.

One to cherish.

Part of one day I hung out at Kelly and Susan’s travel trailer and visited with their dog, Gus.

Handsome boy.

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.

Until we meet again, peace, people.

A Little Bit of Mayhem

For Christmas my beautiful and thoughtful and exceedingly brilliant daughter presented me with the coolest gift.

It’s a teeny tiny replica of my first novel made into a key chain.
It’s exactly like the book’s cover, both front…
… and back.

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.

Peace, people!

An Adventure

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.

Lyn, me, Saint Helen

Peace, people.

Losing It

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.

Peace, people.

Beautiful Tributes

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.

Lyn Noyes Rayburn (aka Greatest Aunt Lyn)

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.”

Our Mema, Helen Parker Noyes

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.

Peace, people.

Bright Spots

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.

Jason and Milo
Ryder

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.

Update

In mid-July, our eighteen-year-old grandson, Garrett, was diagnosed with a neuroendocrine tumor following an emergency appendectomy. On Friday, he underwent surgery to resection a portion of his colon and to remove a few lymph nodes.

The surgery went well and his surgeon does not believe that the tumor has metastasized into the lymph nodes. We won’t know for certain, of course, until they receive the pathology reports. At any rate, we feel optimistic.

Garrett has had a rough few days post-surgery. I won’t go into details, but he’s been in a great deal of pain and has needed two blood transfusions. He’s in good hands, but it’s hard knowing he’s hurting and I feel helpless.

It’s been difficult not getting to see him and hug him, but Covid restrictions limit the number of visitors. At least his mom (my daughter) and his dad have been able to be with him. Besides, I’m a hoverer and would likely annoy the heck out of him.

So, I’m here on the sidelines, hanging out with Garrett’s two younger sisters. I’d say I’m taking care of them, but they’re both pretty self-sufficient. The 16 year-old could probably run the country. The nine-year-old could provide the comic relief. Mainly I think I’m here to keep the pets in line.

Match
Snuggles
Roo

So far, the pets are winning.

Their family has a terrific support system—my son-in-law’s parents and sister have checked in on us, fed us, and kept us entertained. Neighbors and friends have brought food and vegetables and even a lovely little plant. The little town of Port Byron seems to be filled with caring people.

We appreciate all of the prayers and good vibes. Garrett may require an additional surgery this week; although, we hope it doesn’t come to that. Sorry if this is a bit of a ramble. Just trying to get it all straight in my head.

Peace, people.

One Day at a Time

I’ve always been a worrier—the kind of person who worries if she doesn’t have anything to worry about. And now that my life has been turned upside down, I realize how useless my worries have been.

My daughter, who might be the strongest person I know, tells me she’s taking life one day at a time now that her oldest child, my oldest grandson, has been diagnosed with a persistent and stubborn neuroendocrine tumor.

I think that one day at a time thing is a mighty fine idea. Don’t worry about tomorrow. Don’t think about what we might’ve done differently the day before or the day before that. Just live and be grateful for every day.

I’m working really hard at doing just that.

Peace, people.

Three Generations

From left, our son Jason, my husband, Studly Doright, and our grandson, Jackson.

Studly Doright and I were in the Texas panhandle this past week. On our way to his mom’s place in Hereford, Texas, we stopped for the night in Wichita Falls where we picked up our son and his son, and loaded up their motorcycles.

The three of them, along with a carefully selected group of friends and family members, embarked on two days of motorcycling along the Canadian River just north of Amarillo.

It was our grandson, Jackson’s, first real riding experience. Outside of riding a little motorcycle around our yard at Doright Manor, Jackson had never really gotten to experience what motorcycling is all about—the hills and gullies, deep sand and water crossings. This week he encountered all of the above while learning to use a clutch and shift gears. By all accounts he acquitted himself admirably.

His Poppa, aka Studly Doright, had a blast riding with him and with our son, Jason. They’re already saying, “Next year….”

Peace, people!

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