Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The Unwrapped Present

I'm pretty fortunate to work with some incredible folks - one of whom shared this piece of his own childhood a while back.  After wiping my eyes, I wrote Rob, asking permission to share it with my friends in Blogland.    I was delighted when he said, "Yes."  
Merry Christmas, my friends!  
The Unwrapped Present
At this time of year, I often reflect on the Christmas mornings growing up in New Jersey.  The opening of presents, the wrapping paper flying everywhere, the smell of freshly brewed coffee, the sound of bacon sizzling on the stove, Christmas songs playing on the stereo, and the many hugs and smiles from my grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins and friends dropping in throughout the day.                                    
But there is one Christmas in particular that I recall each year. A Christmas morning that changed my life.                                  
I was eight years old. My only desire was that I wanted a "Johnny Lightning Racing Set" for Christmas. I had sent no less than five letters to Santa Claus asking and pleading for the gift. I remember writing all the reasons why I deserved the racing set, and how "I would never write to him again if he didn't leave it on Christmas Eve."       

Well, times were tight that year (... I only realized this sometime later), and instead of opening up the Johnny Lightning Racing Set with automatic lap counter and a lifetime membership into the Johnny Lightning Racing Club, I received two pairs of pants, a sweater, a small red truck, and a letter from Santa which I crumbled without reading.  

So instead of rejoicing on Christmas morning, I yelled, screamed and said I hated Santa Claus -- "the big fake" -- with all my might. My mother cried. My father said I didn't realize what I was saying. I was sent to my room with the crumpled Santa Claus letter in my hand.                                 

There in my room, I cried and cried. But somewhere between planning to write the President of the United States not to let Santa Claus into the country, and writing a nasty letter to Santa Claus, I picked up the crumpled letter from Santa now laying on my floor.                          

"Let's see what this big, fat jerk has to say," I remember yelling at the top of my lungs.                                
I sat down at my desk and read the letter from Santa Claus.                             
Dear Robert,                          
I am sorry if I have let down one of my best friends - you. I was not able to leave the gift you asked for, and I am sorry. But there is a present that you may have overlooked. It is not under the tree and it is not wrapped. It is not something you can plug in or assemble. It is with you every day of the year, and gives and gives even when it hurts.                                       
Remember when you struck-out in Little League this past season? Who was there to give you a comforting hug? Remember when you won the spelling contest? Who cheered the loudest you when you were awarded the winning prize? And remember when you were very sick this past fall? Who stayed with you all night long, held your hand, and placed a cool cloth of your forehead?                           

You have probably never thought about it in this way, but Robert as you continue to grow and cast doubt on much (...even on my very existence), realize that the most precious gift is one that is not wrapped or found under a tree. The unwrapped present is the love of a parent; the love for their son.                                
This very special gift is waiting for you right now -- your Mother and Father. Go and hug them tightly, and try to never let go. This Christmas day will pass all too quickly, but their love for you is timeless and beyond worth.  And, it is this love is what Christmas is all about.
Your friend,                                                          
Santa Claus                            

Now many years have passed since that Christmas morning, and the letter remains carefully preserved. I often reflect on how my Mother would stay by my bedside when I was ill, and I laugh when I picture my Father fast asleep snoring in the easy chair waiting for me to return home from the high school prom so many years ago.                

"Thank you Santa for showing a selfish eight year old boy the true meaning of Christmas. It has made all the difference in my life and in the lives of my children. I just wish I could have that unwrapped present right now."                         

Until Next Friday,   


Robert M. Hebeler

Copyright 2000-2013 All Rights Reserved by Robert M. Hebeler
......Me, too, Rob.   Me, too.
Hugs from Phoenix,

Saturday, December 20, 2014

My First Worst Day

In case you're looking for an upbeat or humorous post, please feel free to skip this.
It's not my intent to be a "Debbie Downer" - but at the same time, I've been feeling a real need to write about something that changed my life forever.
...In doing so, perhaps someone will see this and not be left with unnecessary regrets.

But if you'll (please) come back on Christmas Eve, I've a special treat ... 
an excerpt from a colleague's website (that) I'm pretty sure will tug at your heartstrings!

December 5, 1981
I'll never forget the look on my (former) husband's face as he gestured me to take the phone.  "Right now."

"Whaaaat?   I'm busy!"

On the other end, my mother's voice trembled, informing me my father had suffered a heart attack.  Dad was resting comfortably in the hospital.  She assured me, there was no reason  to come.  After all, we were expected to catch a flight from Dallas to Tampa for the holidays in just a couple of weeks.

Mother and Dad - newly retired to Florida's gulf coast - were so eager to show off their new home!

I was worried sick; but at the same time a little relieved.   My husband and I were slated to host a dinner party for his managers and their spouses that night at the club.

"Please tell Daddy I love him.  See you soon!"

That evening, I tried my best not to obsess.   Someone introduced me to a White Russian ... something so comforting, I opted for another.   And another.

Not many hours later, I struggled to push through the fog ... groping to silence the ringing phone. 

My mother on the line, her voice curiously flat... telling me Daddy had passed away.

Obviously the next few weeks were an awful blur.  Those who've suddenly lost a loved one get it.
Unfortunately, my decision not to catch a flight that afternoon is something I will always regret. 

I'll never forget the young waitress who -- after handing us our menus and asking about our day, uttered, "Oh, that's so nice!"   (Seriously?  My father-in-law had just said we'd just come from the funeral home.)

Then and there, I vowed to exercise caution when blithely wishing others' a 'merry' Christmas or 'happy' holidays.
Hopefully, it's made me more cognizant of others' scars - new and old.

December 6 was the first, 'worst day of my life.'   After all these years it remains a day of reflection.

Since then, I've experienced a several more 'worst days.'    I suppose it's all part of the price of admission to becoming a full-fledged adult.  

I know my you, my dear friends need no reminding ...
but let's all share - through our words and our actions -  awareness of those facing some pretty awful challenges, and remember to hold them in our prayers.

Thank you!
... and hugs from Phoenix,


Oh no!, Christmas Tree

I couldn't believe my ears!
...  On the other end of the phone line, Mother was saying there would be no Christmas tree at her house when I arrived.   "After all", she rationalized, "Troy and Lois won't be travelling to Florida this year; and it's not my turn to host bridge club."

After we hung up, I was at a loss to identify my dismay.  
Was there something wrong with her health she wasn't ready to share?   
Had her finances suffered?
 ... Had she suffered a crisis of faith?   
Ya, I've tendency to worry about the craziest things!

Truth be told, my perception of Christmas always included a tree.    Not a stately creature whose delicate branches gently curve in unison.
Oh, nooooo!   Not until DH and I found a pre-lit, faux evergreen on sale a few years ago ... most of the trees in my life may well be described as 'Charlie Brown' affairs.    (Not sure if my father felt sorry for the misshapen creatures, or if there was a 'deal' to be had!)

Mother and Troy, ca. 1981

Mother and I were left to transform the ugly ducklings.  
Bless her heart, there must have been scars on her tongue - not saying a cross word when I'd throw clumps of icicles in the direction of an exposed branch.  
Then, there was the year our arms broke out in a rash from some nasty pink stuff billed as 'angel hair.'    
Mostly, I remember the laughter.

Fast forward 40-some years, there was little laughter when my brand-new boss assigned me the task of decorating the lobby tree.   Alone.  Looking back, it's a wonder my association with the Company didn't conclude then and there!
Having no interest - and even less talent - I was sure I'd died and gone 'down there.'    Only when a friendly engineer stopped by with a ladder and a bit o'wit did I find humor in the situation:   In response to my grumbling, "I'd rather be scrubbing toilets", Glenn observed, "Well, that could be arranged."

For lots of reasons, our artificial tree remains in hibernation this year.   We've visiting privileges to others' trees.   And come to think of it, there's a brand new, nicely-adored tree in the lobby, just a few steps from my office!

Warming hugs from Phoenix!

Did I tell you?   No, I don't think I did!
This may sound incredibly childish ... but every day after Christmas when I pass a sad, abandoned 'tree lot', my heart breaks a little for the un-chosen ones.    A blogging friend who shall remain anonymous (it's HER story to tell, after all) recently shared a sweet story over breakfast:
One December 26 her hubby approached a vendor and made him an offer he couldn't refuse for the remaining trees.    He brought them home and planted around the periphery of their property, and today they thrive!   Isn't that neat?!



Friday, December 19, 2014

It's Beginning to Feel a Lot Like Christmas!

... well, not exactly like the White Christmases I enjoyed as a child.
Still, when there's cause to pull extra covers from the closet, and my decades-old sweaters make a cameo appearance  ... I smile!

A month I've been gone?  Yikes!  
It's not for having nothing to say -- as DH would be happy to attest.  
Rather, I don't suppose you good folks would be interested in hearing me re-hash the agony of this year's Iron Bowl ...
nor, my shiny new (albeit, UNwanted) washing machine, clothes dryer and garbage disposal.
 (Yuppers.   No sooner did one go kaput, but the others followed in short order.)  

On a happier note, Tom's recovery is amazing.    He developed some nasty abrasions as a result of a allergy to the tape, but the home care nurse got us back on track.   We were so blessed that our insurance allowed her 9 visits!
 ... reassuring for someone who was ready to wave a white flag after the first 24 hours.    Caregiver, I'm NOT!

There's so, sooooo much for which to be thankful!

... not the least of which is my (sometimes unexpected) treasure trove of memories.

For instance?    During my early morning commute yesterday, I had this great visceral craving for hot cheese queso dip and tortilla chips.   At 6AM. 
What's odd?   I probably haven't indulged in that goodness since leaving West Texas more than 20 years ago!  

Thanks in huge part to 'Etsy', the Master List was complete weeks ago.    We had to cut back this year, but ever since I was a little kid - armed with the Miles Kimball Christmas catalog -  I get this absurd delight finding the 'perfect' gift for everyone on my list.   (Sometimes I think mine's a sickness.)

The only 'to-do' remaining is my annual Starbucks expedition.  Having an addictive personality, I only allow myself a visit to 'Mr. Bucks' once each year for a seasonal delight ... which, of course, must be slowly savored like a fine wine.  LOL!    (Hey, I take my simple pleasures where I can find them!)I

Those of you who know me on Facebook are familiar with this tableau ... but I wanted to share our lil' substitute-for-a-tree impromptu scene.   The wee book was gifted to my mother when she was but 5 years (ca. 1920).  In turn, she grew up and 'stuffed' this sweet tree for her own daughter.   And that little stool with mis-matched paint?   It's a survivor ... of my own tumultuous toddler days. 


In the coming days, I hope to share some vignettes from the Most Wonderful Time of the Year - both past and present.    I hope you'll stay tuned!

Hugs from Phoenix!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Best Laid Plans ...

Update ...
Thank you all for your prayers n' positivity!   Tom's surgery went well, albeit a little longer than expected -- doc says his bones are like 'concrete.'
(To which his former admin wrote, "so's his head!")

Off to physical therapy/boot camp now.   Have a great day everyone.   Stay warm, stay safe!

You'd think by the time I'd reach this age, I'd know better.   I'd curb my enthusiasm.

Oh nooooo.    For a few years now, we've I've toyed with the idea of revisiting Santa Fe and my hometown -  but set it aside as being fiscally irresponsible.   Then, this powerful post made me sit up and re-examine my priorities.   

Game on!   Reservations were finalized for the long Thanksgiving weekend, and the anticipation of tasting authentic New Mexico cuisine again had me salivating.     

Then, after two years of DH's oncologists' "maybe's" and "we'll have to see's" ..... Tom got a call a couple of weeks ago ... an 'all-clear' for hip replacement surgery.  

Have to admit, at first I was less than gracious when hubby called.   (Control freaks hate having their plans changed, don't-cha-know!)
In lightning-like speed one thing led to another, and the deed's being done tomorrow at 11:30.      

While the mechanics seem almost as routine as a tonsillectomy, my only concern is how Tom's oncologist and orthopedic-dude agree to orchestrate his blood thinner.   
Seriously, it's like when I used to work for a couple CPA's who'd often feud over the silliest things:   "Myra, would you tell Doyle ...."  
Followed shortly by, "Myra, tell Cliff ...."

Driving home tonight, Doc #1's assistant calls to ask me to tell Doc #2 tomorrow not to do the filter, but instead resume the shots.   
(Seriously? ... I wanted to say, "Tell him yourself!")

I'm pretty sure everything will turn out fine and Tom will be able to return to his beloved game of golf come Spring.
... Still, prayers are certainly appreciated!

... and the good thing?   I don't have to worry about eating turkey next Thursday! :)
If anyone has some great tapas recipes, won't you let me know?

Hugs from Phoenix!


Tuesday, November 4, 2014

I've been Liebster-ed!

One of my favorite blog-friends, Paula, has nominated me for the Liebster Award!
 I'm not necessarily big on awards ... but as I told her, I'm delighted to let my 'inner Barbara Walters' out of the closet! 
Here are the rules:
  1. Post 11 random facts yourself
  2. Answer 11 questions posed by Paula
  3. Nominate bloggers with less than 200 followers to do the same
  4. Let those bloggers know that you've chosen them

OK, random facts about myself:
  1. Take away the part about water, and I'm a typical Pisces
  2. Rainy days get me down -- but I love the snow and ice!
  3. I like to think I'm a good listener
  4. Conservative?  Yes.  Both in my politics and lifestyle
  5. I still care WAY too much what others think of me
  6. On account I'm a lousy backer-upper, I go out of my way to find a pass-through parking space
  7. Ya, I'm "that" person who makes 3 right turns to avoid a left
  8. I've never once had to parallel park, and don't plan to start!
  9. Given my druthers, I'd most enjoy Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner at a nice restaurant
  10. If I'm 'on time' ... I'm late
  11. I can't stand having an unmade bed

My nominees?
Dang, this is hard!   I don't want to put anyone on the spot.
I'd love to see what Kim and Tarryterre have to say ... Anne and Mary, too.  Heck, I invite all my circle of friends to come play!
Paula's questions for me:

Why do you blog?
To see myself think.   (No, that sounds flippant - not my intent.)
I suppose, when all's said and done, I blog so my granddaughters will have a good idea of who I was and what mattered to me.

How did you choose the name of your blog?
Respice Prospice came from an inscription on an old locket given me some years ago.  I was really taken with the translation:  Look to the future, learn from the past.

What makes you laugh out loud?
Our year-old Malti-poo puppies, Macie and Grace.  They're crazy!

Are you a morning person or a night owl?
Definitely a morning gal.  My day starts at 4:00.  (Mind you, I'm a basket case after 9!)

Favorite TV show and why?
The Bachelor/Bachelorette -- not sure why.
Jeopardy always makes me think (how little I know!)
Family Feud never fails to crack me up!

What do you want to be when you grow up?
A homicide detective.  (If I can pay someone else to do the science stuff.)

How do you cope when things are not going well in your life?
Wine and prayer.  (Not necessarily in that order.)

A favorite quote:
There's so many, but my 'right now' favorite:
"So long as the memory of certain beloved friends lives in my heart, I shall say that life is good."  - Helen Keller
(Thank you, Jack!)

Your favorite food to snack on when no-one is around?
Ice-cold, extra-crunchy JIF.

What is your favorite social media?

What is one destination that you dream of traveling to?
It used to be St. Petersburg, Russia..  Today, between the TSA and terror threats, my sights are set closer to home -- Breckenridge, CO for the International Snow Sculpting championships.

My questions for y'all! 
(...and yes, you over there!)
  1. As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
  2. Everyone's heard of TV's "The Apprentice."  If you could apprentice under anyone in the world for one year, who would that be?
  3. What's your favorite way of relaxing?
  4. What would be the most enjoyable way for you to spend $100?
  5. What type of entertainment that others enjoy would you have a really hard time sitting through?
  6. Name a taste that makes you melt.
  7. If you could have chosen your own first name, what would it be?
  8. What CD is currently playing in your car?
  9. Have you any present-day heroes?
  10. If, like a product, your behavior came with a guarantee, what could you honestly guarantee about yourself?
  11. What would be a good theme song for you?
As Paula says, "Please jump in and let's all get to know each other a bit better."  

Hugs from Phoenix!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

A Charmed Life?

"Is every one of Michele's family ridiculously good looking?"
... so an associate asked me a few years back.   My boss' daughter was to be married in a few days, and extended family members from here-there-and-everywhere gathered to check-in.
Yes.  To a person, their faces appeared to have been crafted by heavenly hosts.

I probably shouldn't say this out loud .... but it's been on my mind a while now.   And at this stage of my life, I'm all about transparency.

For too many years, I might have disliked them - and their seemingly 'charmed lives' - on sight.   For no good reason.

Since grade school, I resented those whose effortless good looks and charisma made me want to shrink further and further into the shadows.    Janice's poignant "At Seventeen" may well have been written about yours truly.

Thank God, we grow and get over ourselves!
And learn what Real Beauty is all about.
Still, every now and then I wonder.   What is it about the presence of others' larger-than-life appearances that makes us feel clumsy or inadequate?  
Sure, every once in a great I can still hear a classmate's words, "Myra?  You mean the one with the big nose?"  
Then I reassure myself, recalling another similarly-afflicted soul's laugh: "All this oxygen we get to breathe, and I'm sure lucky to get more than the next fellow."
I was sobered recently by a news story whose headline teased:  "What the Dying Really Regret."  
As Erma Bombeck once lamented - I presumed the answer to be not taking more chances.
No.  They regretted wasting so much time hating their own bodies!   Isn't that incredibly sad?
Oh, and by the way.  
One of Michele's  "ridiculously good looking" family members - a vibrant young man with a lovely, loving wife and two little girls recently passed away from brain cancer age 34.     
Tommy's story is but one of hundreds, maybe thousands.  
Didn't we used to refer to the Kennedy family as 'charmed'?
It's a little early to be talking about Thanksgiving, but I'm incredibly grateful to be right here, right now .... and especially for you allowing me to be part of your charmed lives.  
I promise to be back with a more upbeat tone next time.
Hugsfrom Phoenix!
Myra :)

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Do you smell that?


So, I've been doing a lot of smiling in the last 48 hours.
Not just because DH's latest CT scan warranted a great review from his oncologist (which is pretty awesome!)

... but I think Summer's finally releasing her grip on the valley.  Woo-hoo!

Just yesterday morning - instead of automatically hitting the A/C, I felt like rolling my car's window down.    Not 10 minutes later, I caught the unmistakable aroma of a commercial bakery, and my toes began to curl in unison.

... Which got me pondering.  
Aside from baking bread, or a porterhouse steak sizzling over a mesquite-wood fire, here's a baker's dozen of my favorite, happy aromas.

Bubble gum

Garlic and onions simmering in olive oil
Movie theater lobbies
Brand-new textbooks
Wooden matches
Supermarket freezer-chests (it's been a long time since I stuck my head deep inside and inhaled ... only on account grown-ups aren't supposed to do that sort of thing.)
Ponderosa pines

Elmer's rubber cement (remember those adorable pots in elementary school?)
Original Jergens lotion
The lumber section of a warehouse
Horse stables
A lit pipe (preferably held by a gent wearing a smoking jacket, cradling a cognac in his other hand.   Ahhh!)

Have I struck a chord with anyone?  
What would you recommend?
Thank you for pausing to visit, and please, have yourselves a sweet new week!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Killing me softly, with his song

I hadn't planned to chat about Those.Who.Entertain today, but learning of Paul Revere's passing leaves me a bit reflective.  
Inquisitive, too.

Do you recall your first concert?

Growing up in a community the size of your average saucer, I longed to live in New York City or Los Angeles.  I longed sit alongside those screaming in Sullivan's audience.   Instead, I sat cross-legged, inches in front of our black/white television, dreaming of the day I'd reside in a Big City.

A few years later, I was thrilled to attend a campus concert by one of my favorite artists.   Unfortunately, the poor fellow was so messed up on gosh-knows-what he couldn't recall the words of the opening song and had to be led off-stage.    Na├»ve, yes, but I remember feeling soooo sorry for him -- and really upset at my supposedly-religious fellow students' jeers and boos.   (Thankfully, I learned he subsequently cleaned up his act and turned his craft to a 'contemporary Christian' genre.)

All the same, I was hooked -- on the smells and sounds and energy -- even before the artist(s) took the stage!   One of my favorite memories involves a B.Y.O.B. affair in the early 80's where we sat at portable tables and danced in front of an "up-and-coming singer" by the name of George Strait.   I wasn't really 'into' c/w music at the time, but had to admit he was pretty cute!

Obviously, some were better than others.  Perhaps my biggest let-down was a surprise trip I'd planned for my then-husband to see Ole' Blue Eyes at Reunion Arena in Dallas.   Unlike "R", I wasn't especially fond of Sinatra - and even less so after the lukewarm performance where he appeared wholly disinterested.

A few years later I began work at Tampa Bay's CBS affiliate where I was astonished to realize, concert and theatre tickets could practically be had for the asking!  Crazy, the things I used to take for granted.  (It may be a common practice, but now that I'm on the "other side-looking in", I don't think that's especially fair.   LOL!)

These days, DH and I've not attended a concert in ages.   Oh, a few years ago I won a radio contest to see Neil Diamond, and his show was just as amazing as I remembered from 1972.   Unfortunately, transportation in and around the newly-constructed stadium was poorly orchestrated, and at least one concert-goer was trampled and badly injured in the exodus.    Tom sometimes experiences difficulty maneuvering, so I do my best to avoid crowds.  

Sure, there are times I miss the energy.
... But I was only mildly disappointed recently at being "Caller #5" when the tickets to see Kris Kristofferson were meant for "Caller #6."   
Aside from the obvious, most nights I find myself yawning uncontrollably after 9! 

Irrational, perhaps ... but I'm always concerned that someone I've adored for years will turn out to be a huge disappointment.    I may be the only person on the planet who disliked George Strait's much ballyhooed farewell concert.   Has something like that ever happened to you?

All else aside, is there someone I'm still dying to see?   You bet-cha! :) 

(Say, I never claimed not to be a square!)
When we were in Vegas a couple years ago and had a chance to purchase tickets I balked at the prices.  Instead we returned to our rental, stuck a bag of popcorn in the microwave and watched one of his 'live' performances on DVD.   Not so sure I'd do the same today. 

If you don't mind sharing, I'd love to hear your own concert-going stories -- the good, the bad and the ugly!    Is there a special someone you're still longing to see?

Hugs from a deliciously-cooling Phoenix.   Have a great week, everyone!




Saturday, September 27, 2014

Heirlooms - or horsefeathers?

Me, I'm not normally given to 'signs' or 'tugs' from the universe.  
I sure don't discount their existence.  It's just, that stuff happens to other folks.

Before anyone goes getting excited, I'm not talking about seeing long-deceased, line-dancing ancestors.   

Instead, a mundane activity in which lots of us find ourselves unwilling participants:   Deciding what family 'heirlooms' to save, what to release.

For a while now, I've felt it's time to purge.  
Still, I was doing a pretty good job of ignoring our guest-room closet - whose contents challenge anyone to hang more than 1-2 articles of clothing.  

Then, in the space of a few days came a proverbial 'kick' ... and another.  Followed by another:
As is custom, the other morning I grabbed a random Unity cassette from the hodgepodge to 'pump me up' while preparing for the day.   Titled Heirlooms, my former minister was speaking about those sometimes silly, inanimate objects we hang onto - which really have no value - except in our hearts.   Her turning point came when a trusted friend sat alongside as she examined the contents of one box, then another.   Each time the friend asked, "Does that mean anything to you?"

That evening an inspiring e-mail arrived, improbably titled, 'Learning to travel lighter.'

... and the morning after that?  Both my go-to radio stations were playing something I didn't care for, so I hit the button for a frequency I used to enjoy.  The hosts'  were soliciting listener's feedback, asking, "What is something you will never get rid of?"

I don't know about you, but I'm probably holding onto lots of stuff out of some weird sense of obligation.  I've already tossed some hundred matchbooks and swizzle sticks - keeping those whose logos still evoke a smile.   They'll probably mean little to my granddaughters, but meanwhile they don't take up a lot of room.

Perhaps I should consider an Etsy shop like my blog buddy, Kim.   Or Instagram akin to Martha's spot in the sun.    You think?

Candidates for the chopping block
That with which I'll never (ever) part?  
I know this is long, but I'd really like to show you few of my favorite heirlooms.

No, this isn't my wine-glass! 
I remember little from our 1957 European excursion, but do recall my father refusing to let the folks at StadtKeller ship his 3-liter glass boot.
Instead he carried it by hand throughout the rest of the tour, then across the Atlantic, and finally via Greyhound back to New Mexico.
Know what?  Throughout all my moves, I've done the same.   
Grandma Willer gifted a set of these to my parents for their wedding ...
then was enormously appalled when she discovered the 'nekked lady' engraved on each of the delicate glasses.
Once I turned 13 y/o, one of these 
appeared alongside my own dinner plate each Sunday!
Silly old wooden bowl now sits atop my refrigerator,
but used to be the dedicated repository for S&H green stamps,
So, I've got to ask.    
Besides photographs, what's something you will never, ever get rid of?
Hugs from (rainy) Phoenix!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Let's hear it for the hose!

From an early age I was besotted by my mother's silk stockings. 
On road trips I'd position myself 'just so' in the little cavity beneath the glove box and run my hand up and down her stockinged calves until sleep came.  

I could hardly wait for my very own pair!
Lordy, reaching that milestone made me feel like 100 bucks!
Never mind that my nerdy 14-y/o self wobbled like crazy in my first hose- n'-heels get-up.
I'd arrived!   

To complete the ensemble, certain accessories were in order.

To the best of my knowledge, no-one I knew was permitted to own one of these.

Instead, our mothers consulted with the matriarch of all things lingerie at Clement & Benner. 
An appraising once over ... a nod ... then old Mrs. Benner would pull open a narrow drawer and carefully present a tissue-wrapped GIRDLE for inspection.
I was mesmerized.  

While I've difficulty recalling the advent of pantyhose, I soon became addicted.  I loved the way they kept my legs cool in the summer, and toasty warm in the winter.  I even wore them under blue jeans!

Fast-forward to 2002.   July, to be exact introduction to Phoenix:
Clad in a navy business suit, nylons and heels, I must have been quite an apparition out there on the interview circuit.  
 (Those familiar with our 110-degree summer days and super-casual business attire may well be laughing aloud.)

Loathe to change my stripes, I continued to wear 'panty-nylons' (DH's term) for another few years before caving.

Imagine my surprise last Fall, when I happened on an old piece of luggage containing two dozen pair of L'eggs!   Woo-hoo!

Unfortunately, I'd quite forgotten the art of putting them on! 
Then came the ugly realization I was trying to squeeze 20 pounds that weren't there before into the unforgiving silk.   Yes, I hopped up and down.  
.....And yes, I swear those darn dogs were giggling.

Obviously, I need to pick up my game, shed some most of this unnecessary weight and start using those L'eggs again.  

'Casual' is all well and good -- but I can't help feeling better about myself in heels and hose.  

I'm curious!  
Ladies, are nylons still in vogue in your part of the country?

How about the fellows?
.... Do you care one way or another? 

As always, hugs from Phoenix!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Going to the dogs!

Gosh, it's hard to believe a year has passed since our lives were turned upside down by two wee pieces of fur.  

Some may recall, I lost my precious Caraleigh in March '13 ... then Tom was diagnosed with lung cancer 5 weeks later.
When well-meaning friends recommended we adopt a puppy, I'm sure mine was a mirthless laugh.   No interest.  Ever.

Still, they persevered ... assuring me it would be great therapy to boost DH's spirits while he battled chemo and depression.  

So we listened.
....and I believed Tom when he said, 'We'll just look.'

Who was he kidding?
We both fell .... for different puppies.   Unable to arrive at a decision I remember saying, 'Let's get both.  How much trouble can that be?'
The litter mates - Macie and Grace - were adorable.  And yes, Tom's attitude did a real 180.   He'd lay for hours on the floor laughing out-loud as 'da girls' climbed all over his chest ... struggling to gain purchase on his head.

The oncologist was thrilled by the results of his next PET scan.

Unfortunately, I was ill-prepared for the pups' energy -- and total disregard for discipline.   While Caraleigh had been the Perfect pup, these impostors seemed bent on destruction.   

Cute Kong toys and bones were ignored in favor of
... unraveling the living-room carpet
... excavating furniture 
... gnawing on baseboards

... and swallowing inanimate objects.

Their developing personalities were so different!   DH has always called little Grace, 'the snuggler.'  In fact, her latest report card states, 'Grace just wanted love and attention, and that's what she got.'
On the other hand, Macie's a clown.  Her report reads, 'Rebel without a cause.'   Yup. 

Not wanting to risk emotional involvement, I kept them at arm's length.  
... and waited for the day Tom would come to his senses, agreeing to find them a new home.

Funny, but life has a way of turning the tables.   You know how cigarette smoke always seems to float directly towards the one person in a room who suffers from allergies?  
First Grace, then Macie developed this crazy attachment to me.

I tried to ignore their overtures.  In the name of all things Caraleigh, I did.   It seemed so disloyal to love again.  

But cracks began to form.
Recently when we took the girls to be boarded, Grace began to shiver -- almost violently, and clung to my neck. 
... and I couldn't keep that darn wall up any longer.

No, they're not Caraleigh.   

But I'm learning to love Grace (left) and Macie (right)
for the rapscallions they are.

You might say, I've grown accustomed to her face!

Have yourselves a wonderful weekend ...
Hugs from Phoenix!





Saturday, September 6, 2014

Looking for Mayberry

Happy September, everyone!
...and to those fortunate enough to witness the beginnings of Autumn, won't you inhale deeply on my behalf?  

I so hope everyone enjoyed a satisfying holiday weekend?  
Used to be, I'd regard any 3-day weekend as an excuse to hit the road. For example, on a whim I once traveled from Abilene, TX to Vail, CO in a roadster with no a/c, 'just because' someone offered us the use of their picturesque cabin.    
... and I suppose it was that very weekend I began to grow up -- when, on the way home, exhaustion set in and I started 'seeing things' on the lonesome highway south of Lubbock.

For a host of reasons I've been reluctant to stray too far from home these last few years.  Still, the idea of having of 5 unfettered days off -- not to mention my growing 'itch' to change course -- resulted in last week's getaway to the picturesque Verde Valley.  

Stock image

Now, I never properly said Thank You! to all who offered suggestions regarding my wanting to downsize.   Each of your insights was really valued.  Really!  
Sadly, I have to admit (that) while DH and I are wholly committed to one another, if we were to try and coexist in an RV bloodshed might come of it.  (JK!!!)    

Actually, Jon's mention of a mobile/manufactured home began to make the most sense.   
... and we began visualizing just that sort of abode, situated in one of my favorite spots in the state.   A Field Trip was in order!

Not coincidentally, one of my favorite blog-pals lives in the Verde Valley and I was more than a little excited when Mary and her hubby invited us to meet them for breakfast.    I'm not particularly fond of the over-used term, 'exceed your expectations' ... but that's exactly what happened!   Mary is as genuine and caring an individual as you'd ever want to meet, and her handsome hubby just cracked us up with his stories!

As with any 'first steps', many of my presumptions about real-estate were WAY off-key.   After all, Cottonwood lies practically in the shadow of Sedona.    
Still, everyone we encountered just exuded this openness and warmth I'd not witnessed since having lived in West Texas.    I can seriously envision our living in its neighboring community of Clarkdale ... which I (not-so-privately) christened, 'Mayberry.'   
...see what I mean? (Stock images borrowed from 'Bing.')

I'm not sure if you can spot them, but I adore those olden homes' front porches!
Yes, they still pump your gas and check the oil!  Love!!!!!

For a myriad of reasons, we're in no position to make a move right now.  God willing and careful choices, I hope we're but a couple of years away.
Is anyone interested in purchasing a gently-used home in Goodyear, AZ?  LOL

Sorry to have rambled on and on.   Can you tell, I'm excited?   It's been a while I've felt that way ... and gosh, but it feels good.

Hugs from Phoenix!

PS - I've almost 44 hours remaining before Real Life intrudes, and I plan to spend a big chunk of it blog-hopping.   I've missed you!    


Sunday, August 31, 2014

Horrible History ...

So, this RE-RUN isn't necessarily for a lack of goings on.   Rather, my own inertia - which I suppose is a fancy way of saying, 'lazy.'
DH and I are enjoying a laid-back weekend ... looking forward to a brief get-away later this week.   Pictures to come!

Meanwhile, I felt compelled to honor one of my favorite people, gone too soon.  

Paris, August 31, 1997.  
Do you recall that awful day?  

From the moment we "yanks" lay eyes on Diana Spencer, I was smitten.  And, in an odd sort of way, I remain so.  

One day an associate asked, "Why are you crying?  You didn't know her." 
Not being blessed with a knack for appropriate comebacks, I sort of slunk away -- probably to reapply my eyeliner. (Again.)
Later, a friend counseled, "You should have said, 'Yes, I did -- everyone knew her'."

Journalist and author Peggy Noonan remembers picking up her Sunday paper:  "I realized I was holding horrible history in my hand.  I felt what a lot of Americans felt: shock, of course, and then sadness -- and then shock at the depth of my sadness."

When someone dies unexpectedly, we feel our own sense of vulnerability.  These days, our nation is reminded of other "horrible history."   Remember how, after 9/11 everyone seemed kinder to one another?  

We need to walk in a constant awareness.  To be kind.  And most important, live every day as if it's our last.  Because one day, it will be.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Colors of the rainbow

I'm not really sure when it began.

... Perhaps the day someone told me, "The mother of the groom wears beige and keeps her mouth shut."  (Really! ... isn't that a hoot?)

... or the time DH -  not usually given to random compliments - volunteered, "You look really nice in black."

Aside from being cast as a nun in our high school's production of the "Sound of Music"  I don't recall owning much 'basic black.'  Or brown.

So who'd like to tell me, what's wrong with this picture? 

But wait .... there's more!  
Pathetic, I know.
Last Fall, I was really taken aback when someone said, "Bet-cha I know Myra's favorite color -- purple!"
I wanted to weep.  

She couldn't have known, I regard the color purple right up there with brussels sprouts.  I think it stems from my childhood neighbor, mean old Mrs. "D", who seemed to lavish undue attention on her creepy African violets.

Still, my friend' statement was an educated guess -- given the fact all my 'play clothes' range from lilac to eggplant.

Honestly, it wasn't my idea!   Purple is the 'official' color of my workplace, so I've several branded golf shirts.   Too, I once belonged to the flamboyant Red Hat Society, whose members are expected to wear  purple, purple - and more purple.    A few of those gals remain good friends, but for the most part it wasn't a cozy fit.

Mind you, I'm about as flamboyant as a rock.
Wouldn't you agree, something's gotta give!  
In her later years, momma believed everyone needed a 'signature color.'    I've not heard that since!   Have you?
Methinks it's high time I take myself to my fav consignment shop and (attempt to)  rediscover the color wheel.   Or at least, a signature 'pop.' 
.... I'd like to rediscover what it's like choosing an outfit based on my mood.
But in all honestly, I'm nervous.  Isn't that silly?

This has to be a solo flight.   Usually it's a long time coming, but when I finally decide to shop-to-buy, it's best done alone.  

What's your shopping M.O.?    Are you a 'browser' like my best friend  ... a 'buddy stroller', aka the denizens of Mall-land ... or perhaps a 'point-and-shoot' type who trusts her own instincts?

Please wish me luck!
... and don't forget to have yourselves a sweet weekend!

Hugs from Phoenix,




Thursday, July 24, 2014

Inside Box 1663 ... my hometown

Sometimes it seems the years I spent growing up on the Hill happened to someone else.   As if I were made of Teflon®, the significance of what went on there just a few years before never really touched me.

Then, a few years ago I happened upon an unassuming little book, Inside Box 1663.
It may sound crazy, but I've a need to identify on some level with a book's character - fictionalized or not.    Written from the perspective of a real LA wife - no sensationalism necessary - I empathized with Ms. Jette almost immediately.  

Her opening sentence gave me goosebumps: 
"In 1943 I lived in Croton-on-Hudson, New York with my husband Eric and my son Bill who was almost ten years old.  At that time I had no idea there was a Box 1663 in the Santa Fe post office, nor that I would disappear into it, lose my identity and emerge from it at the end of 1945 an entirely different person."

One observer writes, "Los Alamos, NM was a bustling city that officially didn't exist." 
To ensure that this town was completely hidden from the rest of the world, incoming mail was addressed simply to P.O. Box 1663, Santa Fe, New Mexico.   Birth certificates of infants born at Los Alamos during the war even listed 'P.O. Box 1663' as their place of birth!

My heart ached for Ms. Jette and the others who worked in "grim secrecy" ..... whose parents and extended family members had no idea where they were.  But I was astonished at the harsh living conditions the families had to endure -- a far cry from what I witnessed in the 50's and 60's, when the government practically threw money our direction.

At the same time, there was humor: 
Long-time resident, Marge Schreiber remembers a quiet afternoon in early August of 1945 when her husband witnessed an accident at the Lab and was thought to have been exposed to radiation. 

"Harriet Hollaway was at the foot of the stairs and, after I told her, we just looked at each other. In times of crisis, we would take out the whiskey bottle, so Harriet went and got her bottle.  Every time I looked like I was going to faint, Harriet would give me another shot of whiskey. I have no idea how much I drank during that time, but I am certain I completely depleted her supply. Consequently, I have no real memory of that night, and that’s how I got through it."

.... in Daddy's uniform with service weapon  
...  Mother's gate pass

Yes, I'll be watching the premiere of WGN's "Manhattan" on Sunday night.   Obviously, it's historial fiction, but I hope the producers don't feel it necessary to sensationalize - or demonize those early citizens.   As Ms. Schreiber said, "They did what they had to do to win the war." 

Omega Canyon Bridge