Going Guatemalan: Apology

Did you know that Guatemala is in Central America, not South America? After posting my article, “Going Guatemalan” last night I slept like a baby, but I awakened this morning to learn that I’d placed Guatemala in the wrong place.

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My sincerest apologies to those from Guatemala. I should have looked on a map. I hope they don’t bar me from traveling there based on this error. I’ll just have to double down on my Spanish and learn how to blame this on Studly. How does one say, “scapegoat” in espanol?

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A scene from Antigua:

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Peace, people!

Going Guatemalan

If I had plenty of money I would spend it on travel; whereas, Studly would spend it on golf and motorcycles. Fortunately, I don’t mind traveling on my own, and if I leave him enough food and water he can survive on his own for a few days.

Last night the older of my two “little” brothers called me from Guatemala where he’s been all week visiting his oldest daughter, HH. She works for Teysha, an incredible company involved in empowering indigenous peoples in Guatemala. Check them out at teysha.is They sell the most exquisite handmade shoes and boots.

The lovely HH and her fiancé are planning to marry in Antigua, Guatemala, in mid-April. I hadn’t really given much thought to going, I mean, it’s in GUATEMALA, for Pedro’s sake, but then my brother said, “What’s it going to take for you to come for the wedding?”

I put up all sorts of objections. He had all sorts of answers. Bottom line, I’m going to Guatemala in April. I didn’t sleep a wink all night. I’d almost doze off and then it would hit me again: I’m going to South America!

There are so many things I need to do: brush up on my Spanish, lose 10 pounds, buy a dress, learn the Guatemalan national anthem. Do I need shots? Fortunately my passport won’t expire until this fall, so I don’t have to deal with that.

Of course the Studmeister isn’t going. After our trip to Scotland a couple of years ago he declared he’d had enough international travel to last a lifetime. And, honestly, I don’t think Guatemala is ready for Studly.

Look at these gorgeous shoes!

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Peace, People!

Technology: Good or Evil?

Studly Doright and I drove to Nashville, Tennessee, to celebrate Christmas with our family. Playing games and writing future blog posts on my iPhone kept me occupied for several hours of the eight and a half hour trip. Yea, technology!

But somewhere northwest of Atlanta, right in the middle of the composition of perhaps the most spell-binding, sure-to-go-viral blog post in history, my WordPress app crashed. Boo, technology!

I didn’t want to delete the app and reload it because I wasn’t sure what I’d lose if I did so, instead, opting to wait until I returned home, so I could save any worthwhile drafts to my iPad. Yea, technology!

Of course, upon reexamining that world-shaking prematurely preempted post, I found it to be less exemplary than I’d first imagined.
If the app hadn’t crashed, I’d most likely have posted that article to my blog where it would have languished among similarly less than fascinating posts. Again, yea, technology!

Of course, now I’m woefully behind on posting. Boo, technology.

But, I beat level 670 on Candy Crush with all the free time not posting to the blog provided me. Yea! Technology!

I had way more important things to do this past week, anyway:

Our family at The Escape Game in Nashville:

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A trip to the Grand Ole Opry and Tootsie’s Famous Orchid Lounge:

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And indulging in Christmas gift-giving and birthday celebrating.

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Yea, technology for allowing me to share with each of you!

Merry Christmas

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With all of my
Heart
From my
Head to my
Toes
I wish you a
Christmas
Filled with
Joy,
Peace, and
Love.

Joy in the
Moment,
Peace in our
Time,
Love for all
Beings,
These wishes are
Mine.

May God bless you
And keep you
And yours
Safe and warm
All through this
Day and the
Year yet to
Come.

Merry Christmas
With love,
From Nana (Leslie) and Studly (David)

Daddy and Christmas Trees

In my childhood, picking out a Christmas tree was a family affair, but everyone knew that the ultimate decision was made by Dad. He had this great ability to find the perfect tree every year. And decorating it was his thing.

We could help as long as we followed two basic rules:
1. Evenly space out the ornaments,
2. Make sure the various colors of ornaments were distributed appropriately (i.e. No two reds too close together)

Mom never approved of the way Dad tossed the icicles onto the tree, so he’d wait until she went into the kitchen and with a mischievous grin he’d fling a handful here, another there until it was to his liking. We never had an ugly tree. And, if the eggnog was flowing, the tree became a true work of art.

Perhaps this is why I pretty much spoiled the joy of tree decorating for my own family. So intent was I on trying to make the tree perfect, like Daddy did, that nothing short of perfection pleased me. All moms have regrets, this is one of my biggest: that my children never wanted to help decorate the tree because I had an unattainable image etched in my mind.

My apologies kids. Maybe this year we can have our laid back tree.

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You’d never know it by looking at him, but the man was a tree decorating genius. I miss him so much.

Love, Mom, and the Cabbage Patch Kid

Today is my mom’s birthday. How old would she have been? Well, let’s see, she turned four years old on the day that the Japanese launched a devastating attack on Pearl Harbor launching our country into World War 2. That year was 1941, so Mom was born in 1937. She’d have been 77 today. Sadly, Mom passed away in her mid-50’s, a victim of cancer.

I miss her every single day. I’ll never forget when it hit me that Mom was gone. Many days after her funeral, Studly, the kids, and I were back in Kansas, and one of my students said something funny to me in class. When I got home that afternoon I picked up the phone to call Mom. I even started dialing her number before I realized that I’d never be able to do that again. That’s when I cried until I thought my head would implode.

Now Mom and I were often at odds. As much as we look alike we had very different approaches to life. Mom was a perfectionist, and she never quite understood my haphazard ways. She had the subtlety of a sledge hammer, so even when she thought she was correcting me in gentle ways her message came through like a bullhorn in a closet. But, and every mother and daughter will understand this: Mom was my best friend.

My fondest memories of my mother:

Anytime I was sick my Mom was the very best nurse–she should have been one, but circumstances prevented that from happening. Instead, she worked for doctors for most of her life. There was nothing quite as comforting as having Mom lovingly placing cool cloths on my forehead when I had a fever or cradling me when I had a bad cold. Honestly, sometimes I played sick just to get the attention.

One Christmas, I think I was 7, my California cousins came for a visit. My cousin Gail was a year older, and we were great friends. On Christmas Eve we were excitedly discussing our presents while snuggled into the twin beds in my room. I said I couldn’t wait to see what Santa would bring. Gail told me, in no uncertain terms that there was no Santa, and that parents who told their kids there was a Santa were liars.

My sobs brought Mom in from the living room where the grownups were enjoying an adult beverage or two. I told her what Gail had said, and Mom told me the truth–that parents did provide the gifts from Santa, but that Santa, would always be in our hearts as long as people did good things for one another. I could live with that, and I still believe it was the best Santa explanation ever given.

One of the very best times I had with Mom was the December we camped out all night at a local retailer in order to secure a Cabbage Patch doll for my daughter. I’d gotten a tip from a co-worker that a store in Amarillo was getting in a shipment of 100 of those much coveted dolls. Casually I mentioned to Mom that I was thinking about getting up extra early to try and get a doll. She immediately went into action and said she’d go with me. She packed a bag like we were going into battle: Thermos full of coffee? Check! Two warm blankets? Check! Cushioned seats? Check! Reading material? Check! Extra heavy gloves? Check! Snacks? Check!

We arrived at the store at midnight thinking that we’d be able to sit in the car for a couple of hours, but there were already 20 or so people in line. As we watched, a few more joined the queue, so we quickly grabbed our supplies and staked out our spot. I can’t remember everything we discussed that night, but we talked non-stop. I’m pretty sure most of the world’s problems were solved. Thanks to my mom, we never got cold or hungry, and we each ended up with a doll–one for my Ashley and one for a friend’s daughter.

I’d love to have that impromptu camp out one more time. I’d make sure Mom knew just how much she meant to me, and how much I loved her.

Peace, People. Please let your family members know how much they mean to you. Right now.

Below: Mom and Dad circa 1957.
My daughter Ashley, Cricket the doll, closed-eyes me, and Mom.

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Mom with her family, from left, her brother Jackie, my Grandaddy Carl, Mom, and my Nanny Grace holding my Aunt Nedra.

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Pardon Our Dust

Studly Doright, (my first and current husband), our two children, and I have moved many times in our 38.5 years of marriage, so we’ve never become overly attached to any one residence. Home has always been wherever our little family is at any given time.

A friend wrote something on Facebook the other day, though, that made me wonder what it would have felt like to have stayed in one home for all of our married lives, raising a family and watching them grow, and helping them leave the nest. I wondered what it would be like when eventually one of us had to face the task of selling the home. Ok, I got a little teary eyed.

The poem below is what came of my reverie. Parts of it are gleaned from true events from my own childhood–I drew the mountains, my brothers and I played for hours and hours under a big old pine tree in a long ago front yard.

Please pardon our dust
The old house has been closed up for a long, long time.
But if you close your eyes
You can almost feel the love that once lived here.
Over there our children played
At make-believe
Before they made their own lives
And their own dust in their own homes.

Please pardon my tears
I really thought this would be easier,
But remembering is both sweet and hard.
You see these marks on the wall?
Our oldest drew ‘mountains’ there
When she was barely three.
I kept meaning to paint over them
But thirty years later you can still
Pretend to take a trip to the summit
And ski down the slopes to drink
Hot chocolate at the lodge.

Please pardon my lapse
I just can’t go through the rest
Look around on your own
Take your time.
Be sure to visit the backyard and
Swing on that old tire,
Maybe dig in the sand,
And carve roads under the pine.
It’s a fine place for kids
It was a fine place for us.

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Something I Love

I’m sitting at Whole Foods enjoying a non-fat chai latte, medium, almost too hot to drink, and checking my email on my phone. There’s a funny message from Studly Doright. It was sent to three recipients: our son, our daughter, and me. It struck me how much I love that–that our family group is united in that email. Even though we’re hundreds of miles apart, Studly knew we’d all find the message amusing. At some point today each person will read, giggle, and perhaps shake his/her head at what our well-loved patriarch has wrought.

Yes. This is something I love.

Looking Ahead

Thanksgiving is just around the corner. It’s a little depressing to know that I’ll be cooking a full-blown Thanksgiving dinner for just Studly and me. I know, we could open our doors to others, but Studly isn’t into that sort of thing. He just wants family around on holidays. So, I’ll cook a small turkey and make my mom’s recipe for cornbread dressing. We’ll have cranberry sauce, green bean casserole (ugh!), and some kind of fruit salad. It’s nothing fancy, but tradition (Studly) demands it, and he doesn’t demand much.

My brain is already looking ahead to Christmas. For the first time in many years our family will be together for Christmas. I can’t even tell you how much this means to me and how very excited I am! I could use multiple exclamation marks and they still wouldn’t convey my excitement. Our son and his family live in Texas, our daughter and her family are in Illinois. Studly and I live in Florida. My heart longs for us to be together, and on December 24, 2014, that will happen.

We are renting a home in Nashville, Tennessee, a location fairly equidistant to all of us, give or take a couple of hours. We’ve booked a trip to the Grand Ole Opry on the 26th and a trip to a place where we’ll be locked together in a room and have to solve a mystery as a team in order to escape on the 27th (http://nashvilleescapegame.com).

But I just want to see my grand babies playing silly games together. I want to see their eyes light up when Santa visits. I want to help them leave treats for Santa’s reindeer on the lawn in front of our house. This photo was taken the last time we were all together in one spot.

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Harper, the baby, is two now, so it’s about time we got together as a family again.

These are the kids I can’t sit to hug:

The Illinois bunch

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And the Texas two.

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Peace (and LOVE), People!

No Bucket

There will be no bucket kicking for me when the time comes. Instead, I’ll be flinging a champagne flute and relishing the sound of breaking glass as I bid adieu to this life. All the same, I do have a list of things I’d like to do before my final day on earth. Thus…

My Champagne Flute List

1. Walk the runway in a fashion show. I’m not picky, either. Walmart, Kmart, I’m ready to strut in style.

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2. Score backstage passes for any of the following acts:
A) Huey Lewis and the News (yes, they’re old, but I still have a tremendous crush on Huey)
B) Katy Perry (she fascinates me)
C) The Rolling Stones (of course)
D) Sir Paul (duh)

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3. Sing in a rock and roll band. Preferably my own, but I’m open to suggestions.

4. Learn to play drums. Studly refuses to cooperate on this one. I can’t imagine why.

5. Tour Europe with a group of friends. None of those 10 countries in 11 days tours, either. I want a leisurely, relaxed tour with lots of wine and beer.

6. Take each of my grandchildren on individual, no holds barred expeditions to a destination of their choosing.

7. Spend a week at a spa with my daughter–one of those exclusive, all-inclusive places where we can relax and recover and talk.

8. Enjoy a drive through wine country with my son while listening to podcasts.

9. Corral my brothers and their families, my cousins and their families, and my children and grandchildren for a much needed family reunion.

10. Attend a Super Bowl with Studly, preferably with the Cowboys representing the NFC. Okay, any team. It doesn’t look like Jerry Jones plans on selling the team or hiring a real GM any time soon, and I’m not getting any younger.

11. Publish a novel and go on a major book tour.

I really need to start working on these. Cough. Cough. Another glass of wine, please.

Peace, People!

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