The first day of this lovely Caribbean cruise began with my waking thought – “Which hotel am I in?”
We’d just spent the four previous days enjoying a sweet variety of Florida sunsets. Miami from my cousin’s glorious balcony, St. Pete’s Beach talking business, and Naples dreaming of the future. Friday night’s sunset was to be spent sailing out of Ft. Lauderdale, but our ship sat in port seven extra, long hours while we waited for stranded passengers to arrive late at night.
A quiet and somber mood filled our luxury liner as we learned that a shooting had taken place at the airport… the airport most of us had flown into either hours or days earlier. Life becomes more fragile in those horrible moments when you realize you’ve narrowly escaped any tragedy. At once you are thrilled to be alive to choose items from a gourmet menu, at the same time feeling extremely guilty that you’re doing so while others are mourning the senseless killing of a loved one.
Yes, life is fragile. Life is precious. I’ll cherish the moments and make fresh goals to stay calm when meaningless unpleasantries come my way.
So the morning began with a smile when I realized I wasn’t in a hotel. I was floating along on the ocean, and the familiar movement of the ship made me feel right at home.
I’ve stepped back into the fantasy world I love. Eggs Florentine and good coffee for breakfast, a table for two reserved for the coming dinners, a new sun hat purchased at the deck sale. And then, because I’m just impetuous like this, I’ve taken my little hair trimming scissors that always travel with me, and I’ve cut the netted layers of a floor length gown and turned it into a tea length dress. Turns out, there are only two formal nights on this voyage, and I was expecting three. But I still needed something dressy for a nice dinner tomorrow night. Netting doesn’t need to be hemmed, and I think I did okay with my alteration job and will pull it off! One formal gown toned down a bit… check!
A leisurely afternoon to prepare for tonight’s gala, and I will have whiled away at day at sea. Oh my goodness… people sometimes ask me what in the world I do every day when I’m cruising. This. This is what I do. And I’m sitting here with a smile as I type the story… and a heart filled with gratitude that I’m given another day to breathe the ocean air.
Pie in the sky, baby. Pie in the sky.
This shall be my final wish for the wish list.
Circumstances and hard work have brought some mighty exciting adventures my way. We’ve hiked to amazing destinations, rubbed shoulders with some dignitaries, dined on foie gras, sailed the high seas. I’ve loved every minute.
But grand as some events have been, I’d say I’ve had equal rushes of adrenaline and butterflies in the stomach brought about by over-the-top dreams and schemes. I’ve reached for that brass ring so many times my fingers are longer than necessary. And my hopes have been dashed more than once. But I wouldn’t change it.
Reach for those stars. Apply for the job. Invest in the start up. Work toward the college degree. Ask him out to dinner. Make the move.
So… I wish you a rose bush to care for, a stray pet to love, special first moments to witness, and finally, I wish you a farfetched dream that might just come true.
This summer I was blessed with two very special “firsts”. They were sweet scenarios. Little spaces in time that I hope to remember always. Since they were so special, I want to put moments like this on my wish list for a happy and fulfilled life. I wish you the joy of first moments.
In June we were dashing about trying to accomplish a mountain of work. And in the busy schedule of things to get done, we needed to make the three hour drive to take a niece to meet another niece to keep everything on the calendar held together. We threw tents and sleeping bags into the truck and headed to Ruidoso. (I throw in all this mundane information, reminding myself how easy it would have been to have completely missed the grand event.)
Little girls were giggling and making s’mores, and that was delightful. But here’s the moment that held me spellbound. My fourteen year old niece and I were sharing a tent. She’s a big city girl, and although she’s been to the mountains, this camping experience was a first. She and I decided we’d crawl out of the tent late at night to make one final pit stop. As we got the door zipped behind us and stood up, she flung her head back and stared at the stars in awe. Oh my goodness!
We just stood there drinking in the view. A black velvet sky with huge bright diamonds shining down upon us. You don’t get that in Houston, Texas. Watching her be amazed was heavenly!
My other “first” took place in Alaska. We were privileged to go on a family cruise this summer, a first for some – including our great-nephew. He’s a little five year old gentleman who was enchanted with ballroom dancing after dinner. Every evening we had our dance, and made our plans to do it again the following night. I’ll never forget our very first waltz, his charming smile, his plans to wear a nice shirt for the occasion, and his sweet tiny feet stepping one-two-three, one-two-three while the band played “Could I Have This Dance”.
Friends, this is life. These are the things worth doing before our days are done. Go ahead and make your grand plans for the “before I die list”… but remember that these simple pleasures are the very best!
Somewhere in your lifetime filled with hopes and dreams… I hope you’ll save room for a stray kitten. Yes, I wish you a stray kitten.
There have been a few years in my life (very few) when I’ve not had a cat. And all my cats have come to my porch as little lost souls, begging me to let them stay. If a tiny creature is brave enough to approach a huge structure, look up at the human who lives there, then ask in the sweetest little voice if she could please have a saucer of milk, well, a you have a darling personality on your hands.
Your soft, furry baby will snuggle with you when you take a nap. She’ll help you while you’re typing. She’ll keep you company when you need to take a cup of coffee out on the porch and just enjoy silence.
She’ll worry you when she falls sound asleep in a new hiding place and you can’t find her, then purr with delightful assurance while she twines herself between your ankles once she’s found.
You’ll always have someone to talk to. And as a bonus, your cat will be quite excellent at taking care of herself.
If you choose to adopt a stray puppy, I’ll understand. But with all my heart, I wish you a stray kitten.
I really don’t care for the term “bucket list”. There’s no romantic flow to the thought of kicking the bucket. So I always cringe a little bit at the notion, but I do enjoy reading the happy goals my friends set for themselves before they die.
With that in mind, I’m going to write a few words about my wish list. They’re wishes that have already come true for me… so these will be things I wish for everyone else.
Today I’m wishing that you all have at least one rose bush.
Have dozens if you can. But at least have one. One bush that you love and think about. You’ll watch it through the winter, and you’ll keep an eye on the spring weather forecasts so you’ll know when to prune it for the best flowering dreams.
Its fragrance will greet you in the morning when you head out to your mailbox. You’ll take the proverbial time to stop and smell the roses covered in lovely drops of dew.
The blossoms will amaze you with their beauty, and then remind you of fleeting time as they wither. You’ll have blissful moments all to yourself as you take your little clippers to remove the dried remains, making your rose bush as pretty as possible. It will only take a few minutes in the cool of the evening, two or three days a week. Just enough time to unwind from the pressures of your day… and there will be pressures of the day.
You may encounter thorns, but that’s just another thing to ponder. Let them speak life lessons into your heart. There are many.
Yes… I wish you a rose bush.
My grandparents are always in my heart. Our family recently sold the furniture store building, which means the memories flood our souls. The photo was taken there. Grandma and my niece, Lizzie.
I’ll share a letter I wrote for Grandma years ago.
Grandma’s Mother’s Day Gift 1995
Relaxed… trying to think of the word that best describes Grandma, this is the one I decide upon. There are so many others… strong, confident, gracious… but I don’t remember a time that she wasn’t relaxed.
Throughout my childhood and even until recently, I believe I have taken this gift of hers for granted.
Grandma has always managed the furniture store in what seemed to me such an easy fashion… calling customers by name, earning a deep and true respect from all who have worked there, always dressed beautifully with her hair and makeup just so.
I was not amazed that Grandma would spend six days a week doing this, then prepare a wonderful meal each and every Sunday for our large family. It was just what she did. It never seems amazing when a person makes what they’re doing look so easy.
So, I was never amazed at the beautiful house, the excellent meals, the wonderful parties with the entire church attending.. they seemed so casual to me.
I was never amazed that she and Granddad had time for civic organizations and all the functions that involves. Never amazed at the huge array of homemade Christmas candies. Her sewing amazed me… but mostly for the beauty of it, and how quickly and easily she could sew a beautiful dress. I was never amazed that she did it.
Well – I can tell you that I’m amazed now!
Grandma, how do you manage to do all of this? More importantly, how do you manage to do all of this and stay so relaxed? I work at my little store, usually pick supper up, or pop it in the microwave, complain about doing the dishes and have an idea that I will sew another dress next year when I have more time. I usually manage to get to church on time, but there is definitely not a meal already cooking in the kitchen. I refuse to join a club because it will take up too much of my time. Not to mention the fact that I don’t even have any children.
I have certainly learned many lessons from my Grandma, and I’m thankful to be her granddaughter.
I hope that some of her beautiful character traits are mirrored in my life… but I’m striving for her gift of accomplishing so much in a day without hurrying through it.
If I could step back into my childhood for just a few days, I’d love to take my cell phone with me. And this is what I’d do…
I would take so many photos in the kitchen. I’d get my parents making breakfast and dropping battered squash slices, fresh from the garden, into the fry daddy.
I’d take photos of the morning sun streaming through the sliding glass door onto a fresh batch of biscuits on the glass top table.
And all week long I’ve been wishing for photos of the cabinet in one corner of the kitchen that was filled with the lovely variety of placemats and cloth napkins. I’d get plenty of photos of that sweet collection… stacked on the shelves, placed on the table. I’d get someone to take a picture of me placing the knives and the forks and the spoons.
Back in the day of camera film, and watching the 12 count down to 1, I was clueless that photos like that would be priceless someday. We were so cautious with those rolls of film. We had to be. So I store those memories in my mind’s eye.
Setting pretty tables is a sweet tradition in our family. All those years of catching the school bus early in the morning for the ride into town, we always sat down to a pretty table and a good breakfast first.
You’ve taught me many things throughout my life, Mama. It always gives me a happy feeling of contentment when I’m putting plates on a table… and I thank you for making that a part of who I am.
Happy Mother’s Day.
Nana was born on this day in 1915. I’m thinking of her today, and enjoyed reading this letter I wrote for her 21 years ago.
Nana’s Mother’s Day Gift, 1995
Charming… this seems to be the perfect word to describe my Nana.
I can easily call to mind countless examples of Nana adding charm to the day.
In my busy, hurried life, I often wish that I would slow down and take time to make the day more delightful… the way Nana does.
It has been a treat to spend time with her and observe the way she so easily makes this a part of her life, refusing to be rushed.
Preparing a simple meal for her Christmas Bingo ladies, Nana makes it special by placing a cherry on each plate – just so.
A woman told me once about a time when she didn’t have time to prepare a box for the church box social. Nana said she’d be glad to make an extra one. This lady was so surprised when Nana arrived with a delightful boxed lunch all done up with ribbons… of course she would add this special touch.
When I’m there and hear Nana playing the piano each day, I tell myself that someday I’ll take the time to play my guitar every day. What a treat to wake up to the sounds of Nana’s piano.
If you’re spending the night with her, you can expect the bed to be turned down… just so.
If guests drop in unexpectedly, Nana will have a delicious pie ready – that she made just in case.
If she’s been working in her beautiful yard all morning and needs to go to town, she’ll take the time to bathe, relax, and look ever so pretty before she goes.
Her purse always matches her shoes. Her nails are always polished. Her roses are always blooming. She always has the time to visit with friends. It’s a delight to see her spend her days in such a charming way.
It’s a delight to have her for my grandmother. I hope that some of her grace and charm are mirrored in my life.
I was so very wrong.
I can remember writing the poem… an anniversary gift for my Gary. We’d spent the last three of our seven years of marriage living on St. Thomas, and we’d be moving back to New Mexico in a few short weeks. There’s a line in it… “I know there are no memories that can take the place of these.” Well, perhaps I was partially right. The memories are always with us. But all those years ago I could never have dreamed that more island living would come our way. I did not imagine that so many of my happy days to come would be spent enjoying sapphire blue water with this man, over and over again.
Last month we took another break from reality, and for the first time in 26 years we were back on St. Thomas together. We were back in a jeep on those left-handed, twisting, climbing roads, back at our schools, and back on those gorgeous white sand beaches. It was a special day on another special cruise, reliving special memories.
The poem is sweet, but I still say I was wrong. I thought those days were almost make-believe, and that my “real life” wouldn’t be so dreamy. Not the case. Every day with Gary has been a marvelous and beautiful adventure.
Happy Valentine’s Day to the love of my life!
It’s the first thing I decorate. Right after Thanksgiving, my wonderful stair railings are covered in draping greenery, velvet poinsettias, red feathered birds of all sizes, huge gold Christmas balls, swirling gold ribbon.
And it’s the last thing to come down. I put it off for as long possible because it’s just so special. Left up to me, our staircase would have been one straight line along the wall. (No, left up to me it would have been a ladder.) But my amazing husband builds gorgeous houses, and I’m beyond blessed to have lived in this barn with these elegant stairs.
Well, today was the day. The calendar is filling up with appointments and events, so it’s time to wrap up the holidays and get down to business.
That’s what it means when the garland comes down. There’s work to be done. Deadlines to meet. This year I’ve been looking so forward to is now upon me. Time to buckle down.
2016, you’ve been on my mind with great anticipation. I’m ready for the journey.
Job one – deal with this amazing new gadget from Santa Baby. (He knows how new gadgets vex me, and yet the man continues to challenge me with better technology!)
It’s almost 3:30, Tuesday afternoon. Let’s just see how long it takes me to get a photo on this thing, get my blog dashboard pulled up, and somehow manage to get these words and a photo published to my website.
Alrighty then, it’s almost 4:00. To the casual reader, this accomplishment may not seem like much. If I hit “Publish” and this works, I’m going to feel like a million bucks! Happy 2016! Bring it!
The ornaments were a simple shape this year.
I needed a simple shape, and this year I really needed help. It’s been a whirlwind around here! Thankfully, there were elves – I mean employees – who did the cutting and sanding for me!
Months ago I’d found this great jigsaw puzzle map, and had printed out over 100 copies to be ready.
I always love it when they’re all together. So much like cookies!
Maps, puzzles, and a favorite song…
that’s what I chose for my 2015 ornament.
I love this planet.
I hope 2016 brings peace around the world.
Another beautiful day in Portales! The 18th Annual Holiday Happening was held in the ENMU Ballroom, and once again the room was filled with one glorious holiday table after another, friends and families laughing, enjoying the grand decorations and a delicious dinner.
This year’s table was “Christmas at the Castle”. It all started with a little ad popping up on the side of my computer screen for some lovely blue and white dishes… and priced just way too good to be true!
Next step – Figure out a way to build a castle!
Serendipity steps in – A friend posts a photo on Facebook of a little boy playing with a set of castle building blocks. I zoom in on the photo and get the name of the set from the box that’s in the background.
Progress – When the building blocks come in I spend a day at my mom’s house and we paint the blocks to match the dishes then hot glue them together… because there’s no way I’m waiting for the hurried holidays to assemble a castle.
Order some napkins to match the seat covers I already conveniently have in blue due to last year’s “Cruising for Christmas” table. Decide upon jeweled headbands for the gifts for my guests, which will double as napkin rings. Oh… and one bow tie for the gentleman who will be dining with us this year.