Happy Holidays

This morning it dawned upon me. The next time I have to answer one of those quizzes that asks “What’s your pet peeve?”, I know my response… “When people get upset over being wished a happy holiday.”

I love to hear Bing singing those words. I love the beautiful sentiment.. enjoy the upcoming holy days. I love that people acknowledge that we’re all just wanting to celebrate, and they go beyond the regular have-a-nice-day greeting.

So this morning when I was admonished with the seasonal “It’s Merry Christmas, NOT Happy Holidays”, and it raised my hackles, I decided to declare it my pet peeve.

Please, please… can we just think about the lovely greeting? Does everything have to be a battle? Because truly… there are battles to be dealt with. But someone telling me they hope I’ll have happiness in December… I’ll take that any day of the week.


Bravo for Life

A man played the flute tonight. Meaningful to me, because I’ve just begun reading a series of books recommended by a friend at least a year ago. I’m on the second book, and a man plays the flute. And a woman sails… and I went sailing yesterday. In the first book the main character is from Brazil, and I’m on my way to the Amazon River. It’s the beauty of the ebb and flow of life… these sweet coincidences.

Our evening entertainer played “Bolero”. I instantly knew what he would play when he was introducing the song, saying how beautiful the piece was when Torvill and Dean ice danced to it in the ’84 Olympics. We were newlyweds, and I’m quite sure it was the first time I’d heard the song. I was mesmerized and believed it to the be most romantic thing ever.

Later on tonight we sat in the piano bar while the couple at our table – several years our senior I’d guess – played a little footsie to the gorgeous notes being played on the ivories. We had just danced as we do every night, and had come to relax and partake of more of the amazing talent surrounding us.

We’re one month into this cruise we’re calling our retirement celebration. (Although we can’t quite seem to retire.) It was meant to be a kick-up-your-heels kind of voyage, but we’ve shed many tears. Our family has suffered a terrible blow, and we’re ever mindful of the brevity of our youth.

I’m transported back to childhood days… tip-toeing down the stairs, trying to catch a glance of a goodnight kiss between my sister and her boyfriend. Decades later they’re facing a miserable health crisis while I’m out on the deep blue sea, and I wonder how time could have sailed by so quickly.

It’s surreal floating along on the Crystal Symphony. We’ve been back in the Caribbean where our sea-going adventures began over thirty years ago. Somehow we stumbled into those jobs on St. Thomas. And these kids who sat out the Virginia Reel lessons in grade school, now tango and rhumba and foxtrot nightly. These hiking, running, biking, construction workers now sit and feast with too-big-tummies that we swear we’re going to do something about.

Bravo for life. It truly is fleeting. Cherish the days… each and every day. Look for those delicious tidbits in time… when you’re reading a book where a man plays the flute… and you find yourself in an audience listening to a virtuoso flute player.  Then cheer. Cheer with all your might.


Cold Water

Just a cup or two of cold water… the world to me!

Not going to sugar coat things.  I’ve had a tough couple of years.  Haven’t felt like writing.   Haven’t been very industrious at all.  Tried, but failed.  Looking after my mother, as she slips further into a world of lost memories and abilities, has drained me in ways I could never have imagined.  But I have great help… things have improved.

This guy… this amazing man I married 35 years ago… he has agonized over my agony.  He has been a constant source of strength and encouragement.   And this is the greatest thing he has done for me.  He has quietly assumed the task of filling these tumblers with ice water.  All. The. Time.

I’m a serious water drinker.  Through the night, first things in the morning, all day long.  So I sip from these continually.  And somehow… somehow in those long and difficult days, it didn’t matter when I reached for these, they were filled to the brim with icy water.  I would even try to beat him to it first thing in the morning.  Not a chance.   Any time I’d go to the kitchen to fill them up, already done.  Every evening when I’d come home from my mom’s house, there sat my tumblers waiting for me.  (Well… and a smiling husband whipping up some guacamole.)

It may seem like a silly post.  I won’t type on for paragraph after paragraph gushing about all that he does.   But Gary, from the bottom of my heart, I thank you for every single thing you do for me.  Quietly keeping these filled for all those months will always be a treasured memory of the refreshment you brought to my soul.


The Same Parade

It’s a very long drive from Houston, Texas, to Eastern New Mexico.  When you get to the town of Post you’re almost home… but that means you’ve still got a little over three hours to travel.  And this was the case one day when Gary and I arrived at the main intersection in town only to be stopped for a parade.  At first we groaned, but we were grateful we were the first car at the intersection, giving us front row seats.  And there we sat for the next half hour until the last horse had passed and we were free to move along.

One year later some Facebook friends shared their frustrations at being stuck at that very same intersection in Post, watching that same parade.  Ha!  I flippantly told them I’d been there.. just relax and enjoy the parade with their kids.  But I understood.  It wasn’t their plan to be stopped there, and they too were trying to make that long haul across Texas in a day.

This is now my daily routine.  I need to make tracks.  I have much to accomplish every day, just like everyone I know.  But I’m stopped.  I’m sitting there at the parade trying to make the best of it.  Trying to appreciate that I’m watching it with someone I love.  Reminding myself at least I’m watching a parade.  It could be worse.  But it wears on me.

The parade lasts about 4 hours.  The floats, the animals, the bands… they’re nothing spectacular.. and it’s the same exact show every single day.  My passenger and I can only talk about the parade.  We may try to talk about other things, but it’s too distracting.   We must keep our eye on that same cast of characters.  It grows tedious, but we try to say the same nice things about those floats, and we talk about those animals with mustered exuberance.

The only thing that seems to change for me and my passenger is the weather, or the time of day we’re watching the parade.   She likes to have news playing while we watch that parade go by.  I would prefer silence, or maybe a little soft music.  I rarely try to get my way.   It’s easier to just let that news drone on and on… even though it’s a little too loud and I find it annoying to have to speak over it.

Sometimes I lose sight of the fact that I’m just at an intersection watching a parade.  Sometimes I feel like it’s a horrible traffic jam with nothing to see.  I do grow tired of those same old entries. Even worse, some days it seems much more like a wreck.  Regardless… every day… there I am… the parade’s passing by… I can’t move… I can’t hurry along to where I wanted to go… I can’t tackle the piles of things that are waiting for me at home.

But that’s the path I must travel right now.  It’s not easy to sit there with my mother every day.  But Alzheimer’s is certainly no parade for her either.


Make Room for Champagne

One of my closest friends was telling me a tale of kitchen space, or lack thereof, during the holidays.  A friend of his had moved across the country, gifting him with a supply of tonic water which he had no need for.  But you know how that goes.  One holds onto that sort of thing out of thrifty obligation.  I popped off and said I was giving him permission to pour it down the drain.

We had a fun conversation about how he could therapeutically empty a bottle at a time, symbolically pouring problems down the drain at the same time.   I went on to enjoy all the holiday hubbub and promptly forgot about this talk.

Skipping on to a few days after Christmas… I got a message from my friend.

And then the great phrase “Make Room for Champagne” was coined.   I loved having it running through my mind as 2018 was approaching.

Indeed!  Out with the old things that were taking up valuable space in my mind from the previous year.  Out with the negative feelings, the difficult days, old anger and sorrow.  Make room for the bubbly, the exuberance of fresh hope, new goals and dreams.

Give yourself permission to get that old jar of nutmeg out of the cabinet and toss it… along with some old resentment.   Get that pair of pants you don’t like that you’re never going to wear again, and remove them from your home… along with an old bag of guilt you’re carrying.  A new year is a perfect time to declutter our hearts and free up some sweet space for celebrating the good things in life.

Cheers to 2018!


I See Her

You will see us smiling with our Styrofoam cups from Pat’s. I will order a Vanilla Coke –  she first taught me about when I was a kid – and she has “never heard of it”.

You will see her commenting on Facebook. I will watch her place trembling hands to the keyboard, then put them back in her lap and ask me to type for her.

You will see us having lunch and laughing. I will tell her that French fries are made from potatoes, and that people eat ketchup on them.

You will see her eating a hamburger. I will assure her that I will order it for her when she’s nervously looking at the menu.

You will see her breaking into a big smile and giving you a hug. I will tell her every day, every time she asks, the names of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren and nieces and nephews.

You will see her talking about her animals at church. I will tell her it’s okay that she didn’t know who she was visiting with, because it’s “been a long time” since she’s seen them.

You will hear her tell the sweet stories about her dogs. I will tell her that her poodle’s name is Summer.

You will see her sitting in a group smiling. I will comfort her when she tells me she tries not to say much because she’s afraid she will make a fool of herself.

You will think she didn’t hear her phone ring. I will do what I can to help her remember how to answer it while she struggles to not lose control over the misery of being unable to figure it out.

You will see us laughing while we buy matching shirts. I will be trying to make one more happy moment between us.

You may think you see her. I see her.

Special Treasure

I have this tiny treasure box.  Perhaps I should say I “had” this treasure… but it’s mine for a few more hours.  Very soon it will belong to a young woman who celebrates becoming Sweet Sixteen today.

The delicate little case has been mine for 49 years, always sitting someplace in my home where I’ve been able to enjoy it daily.

It was a gift from my aunt, given to me the night before her wedding… a precious thank you gift for being a flower girl.  I was five years old, and I have vivid memories of walking up and down the hall in my grandparents’ home along with my cousin, practicing to perfect our steps as we dropped petals from our baskets.  We felt so big.  The photo reminds me we were itty bitty five year olds.

The treasure is not the box.  The treasure is my aunt.   And not just this aunt, but also the other women I’m blessed to have in that role.  Sharon & Jane, Jan & Marilyn, Sheryl & Sandy… these names flow through my life, beautifully woven into the fabric of my story.  They’ve all treated me to gifts I’ve treasured.   They’ve read to me, played with me, taken me on coke dates when I was still a child.   They’ve been with me at the wonderful celebrations of life, and we’ve stood side by side through the tragedies too.  These women continue to affirm their love for me, and I want them to know they’re all treasures to me.

As for the keepsake that inspired my thoughts today, it’s going to have a new home with my cousin… the granddaughter of the bride who entrusted my tiny hands with such a lovely gift all those years ago.  I know she’ll cherish it.



It’s never been a dream of ours to someday renew our wedding vows.  We’ve toyed with the notion of possibly buying a wedding ring for Gary since he’s never worn one due to his line of work.  Even so, I don’t think either of us envisioned a ceremony of any kind.  Perhaps just the joy of shopping on one of those cruises we love so much.

So it came as quite the surprise to both of us that we got so carried away in June, spending a week making plans, buying a dress, including a best man and a maid of honor, selecting music, smiling at each other with happy tears.

A preacher called us one Friday evening and asked if we’d be willing to help him out.  He wanted a marriage illustration to go along with his sermon on the church being the bride of Christ.  He thought we might have a little vow renewing ceremony.   We told him we’d be happy to help out.   We had a week to prepare.

From the moment we hung up the phone we began to get more and more excited at the thought of how much we were going to enjoy it.   And it was a great surprise on that Sunday morning when the sermon took a twist and I got to come down the aisle to “Faithful and True”.

I’m just telling you… if you’re like us, and you’ve never given any thought to renewing your vows, give it a go!  We loved it so much, we may just have to enjoy another wedding ceremony every year or two!

These are the vows we exchanged.   I wrote them a few years ago for a marriage enrichment class we led at our church.  They’re based on the fruits of the Spirit from Galatians 5.

With all my heart, I want our marriage to be filled with the fruits of the Spirit, and before you now, I ask God to help me keep these promises.

I will love you forever.

For as long as we live, I want to bring joy into your life every day.

I will strive to make our home a peaceful refuge from the world.

I will be patient with you, and ask you to be patient with me.

I will shower you with kindnesses. Both big and small.

I promise to follow Jesus Christ, for only in doing so can I be a good husband/wife.

I will be faithful to you, and will keep our marriage pure.

I will be a gentle mate. Rejoice with you when you’re happy, cry with you when you’re sad, and take care of you when you’re sick.

When we disagree, I will talk with you calmly, and will practice self-control.

May God bless our marriage as we live and walk in the Spirit.


Tex New Mex Rocks

Oh my goodness!  I’m so caught up in this new hobby.  I’m not always one to jump on the bandwagon, but this one grabbed me and wouldn’t let go.

Here’s the quick story.   My cousin moved to Ohio and found a painted rock at the library.  She kept telling us about this rock thing.  Then another cousin and my aunt went to visit her, and they got hooked on painting and hiding rocks.  So when they got home to Eastern New Mexico and West Texas, they got the rest of the family hooked, and started this Facebook group… Tex New Mex Rocks.

It’s a phenomenon that’s sweeping the nation.  There are rock groups everywhere doing this same exact thing.  Paint rocks, hide rocks, find rocks, share on Facebook, repeat, repeat, repeat.  It’s just the sweetest “random acts of kindness” thing, and it’s with absolute delight that I’ve watched our group grow.  My cousins started our FB group in March, and in less that 3 months we’re well over 5000 members!

So many things I love about it.  Great stress release for me.  I’m not much of an artist, but I’m happily content to splash out some paint and create a little cat on a rock.  Then it’s wonderfully fun to put it out somewhere in town for a random passer-by to find.  Painting around a table with family and friends of all ages is marvelous, and that’s taking place all over America in these groups!  

I know how fads come and go, but I sure hope this one stays around for a long, long time.  


Fourteenth Home – Hollandaise House

From the time we started planning to develop this block of land we own in Portales – how to place the houses, which one we would live in, what style they’d be – I’ve had a nickname for ours… The Hollandaise House. 

You know how we love to cruise, you know how we love delicious food, and you know we’re ready to take a break!   So this house has me dreaming of an ocean feel inside where we’ll leisurely prepare Eggs Benedict for breakfast.

Every house project, starting back in 1982, has been exciting for us.  We’re both loving this one so much. All those previous chapters had us working our way up, trying to establish another business, figuring out another building method, forever pushing hard to keep up with a timeline.  

Not so on this house.  We’re in no hurry, happily downsizing, and happily picking out very new and different finishes.   I do love to decorate.  How wonderful it’s been to work in this industry all these years.  I’ve had so much fun putting various themes together for the homes Gary’s designed for us.

Sometime this fall we’ll move in.  Chapter Fourteen of our lives is yet to be written.  I hope it’s filled with plenty of  delicious Hollandaise sauce and lemon curd in a lovely new courtyard.  Time will tell. 


Thirteenth Home – The Barn

Now, this has been one fine chapter in our lives.  What fun it has been to say, “We live in a barn.”  We completed this place in 2008, so it’s been our home for nine years.   That’s the longest we’ve ever stayed put.

What began as an idea for a pretty workshop blossomed into a full scale house.  It’s been my pleasure all these years to enjoy Gary’s creative flair, and he certainly treated us on this one.  Building this big red barn was such an exciting job.  From the huge concrete pillars to support the workshop, to the gorgeous curving staircase, this project was quite unique.  


Over the years, the barn has been the venue for so many wonderful celebrations.  The very first one was held here a couple of months before we actually finished the place, and that was our 25th wedding anniversary.  Since then we’ve hosted more anniversaries, reunions, birthdays, showers, weddings and receptions, and a whole slew of politicians.  My dear friends have joined me in my home for Bible study, and those Tuesday mornings will forever hold a special place in my memories of this chapter.  We’ve loved entertaining throughout the holidays, and never is the barn more beautiful than when it’s all decked out for Christmas.

I’ve always loved yard work, and the barnyard has given me countless hours.   Countless!   Ha ha.  When we first moved in here, I would stand at the picture windows upstairs, looking out over my yard with tears of joy exclaiming, “I have a park!”   I must admit that there are some days now that I stand there and say with an overwhelmed sigh, “I have a park!”  I do love my fruit trees and roses… and for those of you who’ve been with me on this blogging journey over the years… you know I’ve even come to terms with my crepe myrtles.

The years in this barn were a real page-turner in our career.   Prior to this, Gary and I had always worked side by side in construction.  I wouldn’t say we out grew that… but I might say we grew too old for that.  We finally had to turn the physical work over to others while we focused our energies on the office end of Field Day, Inc.  Our desks are upstairs in the house above the workshop.  At the moment I’m in the comfy leather chair at my computer typing, and this has been my seat these past nine years.  I’ve sat here putting numbers into columns on spreadsheets as I’ve listened to the soft background noise below me of saws and sanders and garage doors opening and closing.   It’s been a great business to run, and I’m thankful for each and every person that has been in and out of that shop helping us build so many dream homes.

That brings me to our beautiful dining room table.  Let me just say again how thankful I am for each and every person who has joined us at that table.   Without all the clients who have sat there with us pouring over house plans, this big barn would never have existed.  Gary and I both say ‘thank you’ from the bottom of our hearts. 

Mostly that table has been the lovely scene of family meals.  Every few weeks the barn is full of family members.  We’re blessed with large loving families, so from time to time we sit down at that big table which seats 12 easily, and we set up the card tables to hold everyone else, and we pray together and eat delicious meals.  I feel so fortunate to have had this grand chapter in my life to play hostess so often.  I love setting tables with pretty dishes, and this will always be the era filled with fond memories of this happy task.  Two huge days stand out in this red barn every year… Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Gary’s family has filled our home for that glorious turkey dinner every year.  And my family has always been here for a beautiful Christmas breakfast after we see what Santa has brought down the chimney.

People have been surprised that we’re making plans to sell the barn, since it was our “dream home”.   But to us, all of our homes have been dream homes.   Whether they were tiny or large, temporary or lasting, they were a roof over our heads as we reached for our stars.

So now it’s time to move on.  We’re seeing the finish line on the horizon for our business.  Retirement seems truly within our reach, and we’re happily building away on the next house.  It’s a couple of blocks away, it’s much smaller, and my main concern is hoping our cat Peli makes the transition easily.  Gary and I think we may wipe away a tear or two when we spend the last night in this barn, but we’re so excited for the next chapter and are beside ourselves with glee.


Twelfth Home – The Globe House

I will always say that this little house was a gift from God.  Everything in life is a gift from above, but this was a special gift with perfect timing.  The very first Sunday we had officially moved back to Portales, a dear friend at church asked us what we were planning.   I said we were going to get our construction business going again, and we’d be doing anything and everything.  She asked if we’d be interested in a fixer-upper.

Boy howdy, this was a fixer-upper.  A friend of hers had owned the house for decades, and without bogging down in the details… the person living there had stripped the house.  Stripped it!  From the outside all looked well.  On the inside all wiring, all fixtures – and I’m talking right down to the toilet and sinks being gone, all sheetrock, everything… gone!  What a shocking discovery for the owners.  And what a good opportunity for us.

We were able to buy the place for an amazing price.  Inch by inch, as we got money together and when we had time, we rebuilt the inside of the house and dolled up the outside a bit.  It was a two year process before we actually moved in, then it was home sweet home for the next four years.

We were rarely there because we were working so hard.  I’m sorry if I ramble on with that theme of working all the time, but that’s the story of this time in our lives.   Gary and I were both on the jobsites all day every day, six days a week.   At night we took turns on our computer – Gary getting his portion of Field Day together, and me getting mine.  We marvel that we managed with only one computer, but we were on a quest to fill up the coffers.

We put a wonderful covering over the back porch, and as much as we love sitting on porches, this one was our workshop, and we worked off of that porch and out of our tool trailer.  One night we ate on the back porch, and that was only because we were feeding our stone laying crew from Texas, and there wasn’t enough room in the kitchen to hold us all.  In fact, the kitchen was quite crowded if we ever had a third person join us for dinner.

When people came to our “home office” with their blue prints to sit at that tiny table in that cracker box house, I always figured they were wondering just what they’d gotten themselves into.

Although we’d built homes in the past, I’m forever grateful to my aunt and uncle who were planning to build a lovely and very large home on a beautiful piece of property.  They had no proof that Gary could build a house like that, but they knew Gary, and they trusted him with the task.  The results were grand – if I do say so myself – and they were continually generous in allowing us to show the house to future clients.  It’s how we fell into the niche of very special custom homebuilding.

Well, obviously, we needed a real workshop and we needed a kitchen of our own where we could not only showcase our work, but actually have people over to dinner and offer them a place to sit!   We’d had ideas about building a shop that would have some classic characteristics of a horse barn.  This was the deal… while we worked to save the money to do it, there was never any time to get started on it, so this gave Gary five years to dream and scheme.   He spent lots of time in that little house drawing the plans for the barn, and I had a ball putting decorating ideas together.

We do love little spaces, and we truly loved that house.  It gave us the chance to sock our earnings away while we grew our business.  Okay.  Work, work, work.   Maybe I’ve hashed that topic enough, and as I roll into the next chapter you won’t have to hear so much about that.  We always laughed about how we’d done life a bit backwards.  In our younger years we lived a bit more of a semi-retired lifestyle.   In our 40s we made up for it!