My Amazing Grandma

Grandma & Lizzie at Furniture Store

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.


Love a Lovely Table

Family Tradition

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.


My Charming Nana

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 Wrong

I was so very wrong.

Memories of St. T

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.

Sapphire Years

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.

Sapphire 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!


When the Garland Comes Down


Staircase GarlandIt’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!


My Ornament Tradition

2015 Ornaments begin

The ornaments were a simple shape this year.

2015 Ornaments in shop

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!

2015 Ornament papers

Months ago I’d found this great jigsaw puzzle map, and had printed out over 100 copies to be ready.

2015 Ornaments Spread

I always love it when they’re all together.   So much like cookies!

2015 Ornaments Wonderful World

Maps, puzzles, and a favorite song…

that’s what I chose for my 2015 ornament.

2015 Finished

I love this planet.

I hope 2016 brings peace around the world.


Planning for a Happening

Princess Jaymie

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.

Christmas at the Castle
The dishes are cleaned and put away, and like 50 or 60 others, I’m already dreaming up my table for next year.

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.

Castle Napkins
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.

Prince Daniel
Set the table Friday afternoon while Christmas music fills the ballroom, along with the happy chatter of 54 other table-setters.
Final step – Enjoy another enchanted Saturday!

Princess Raley~

Christmas Time

Christmas Time

Oh yes.. it’s Christmas Time!  My house is decorated, I’ve got Dean Martin singing Christmas classics as I drive along in my car, and today is the annual Holiday Happening in Portales.

Altrusa International has kept the tradition going strong for 18 years, and it’s always a wonderful way to begin the season.

Here’s my contribution to this year’s silent auction to benefit local charities.   I hope it brings some dollars and some smiles!


Grand Asia Hawaii and Pacific

Day 33 – November 26,2012 – At Sea

Today was our Mariners’ Brunch… with the pretty little tile gifts. (And a day for me to discover people who have extras to give me – as well as the wonderful plates they don’t want to take home on the planes.)

“Blue Hawaii” was our movie… and we needed the laughs after the somber shows we’ve been going to this week! Entertainment tonight – The Beatles. The same men who gave us The Beach Boys a few nights ago. Great show, crowd pleasers, lots of fun. We had dinner alone again tonight. Very nice when we get to dine alone and don’t have to carry on with the polite chit chat. =)

Day 34 – November 27, 2012 – Honolulu


Okay… we don’t need to return to Honolulu. Ha! Stressful day trying to walk to the palace, opting out of the tour, catching the bus, missing the shuttle stops. Uggghhh! Happiest time of the day was getting back to the ship for our own luau on the lido. =)

Luau Onboard

Day 35 – November 28, 2012 – Maui

Loved the place. Enjoyed Lahaina and Hanapali. Walked along the shore, played in the water, bought matching Hawaiian shirts (old cars and surf boards) and enjoyed hearing Bing singing Melikilikimaka inside Hilo Hattie’s. Really a beautiful spot we’d happily return to.


Day 36 – November 29, 2012 – Hilo

Went on the excursion to Kilauea and loved it. Wonderful views of the smoking crater, a walk through a lava tube, standing in the steam. This island was beautiful and lush and we hope to return and have the chance to see Kona.


Enjoyed sailing away out on the back deck with Rick & Sue, then dining alone, and on to the excellent concert by a classical pianist. He played a grand variety, and helped put us into the Christmas mood by playing music from The Nutcracker. We are spoiled. Indeed… we are Hollandaised!

Day 37 -41 – November 30, 2012 – December 4, 2012 – At Sea

We begin the journey home. 5 days at sea. We’ve had a marvelous time. If we only had one sea day… that would be fine. Since we have 5, that’s fine too. We will completely unwind, no worries, no agenda, just float on.



Grand Asia Samoa

Day 28 – November 22, 2012 – Apia, Samoa

Samoa Resort

You never know what to expect. Today’s surprise was the gauntlet of taxi drivers! Usually Holland America takes us to nearest town on a bus… and we’ve grown quite spoiled to these Grand Voyage accommodations! Ha! Today we were met by a wall of large Samoan men right behind the gates of the pier, longing to take us in their taxis. So hard to choose… hoping you do so wisely. And so we finally said yes to Simone – in his lava lava, bare-feet, and floral shirt. And when he took us to his car… aye adai! It was the oldest one we saw all day, the air-con didn’t work much, the tires were about to split, and it had a hard time chugging us up over the hills… but all’s well that ends well, and we enjoyed our day.

Taxi Tire

We saw the beautiful Papapatai Falls and an incredible resort on the opposite side of the island from Apia. We visited Villa Vailima, the home of Robert Louis Stevenson, and also stopped at a gorgeous Catholic Church… all open air.

Samoa Waterfall

It’s a quaint place, little villages, thatched roofs. Simone is a chief in his family, lives in a farming village and has no electricity. They cook their food with wood, and they catch their water. Again… reminders of Guam everywhere… and probably what Guam was like 40 years before we moved there.

Gary and the Chief

(By the way… Gary gave him money at the end of our tour to go buy some new tires!)


Day 29 – November 22, 2012 – At Sea

Notice that it’s still November 22, still Thursday, still Thanksgiving Day. We’ve crossed the Dateline.

It felt a little odd this morning… no preparations to be made, no hustle and bustle. We filled the day with nice conversations, good food, samba lessons and reading. Gary actually got on a bike today. He’s been giving his achilles a break.

American Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Dinner was very nice this evening with Carol and Evan. The dining room was filled with American flags and red, white & blue streamers… making sure we Americans were honored on our holiday. I had two courses of delicious pumpkin soup, and also had two desserts… pumpkin and pecan pie. The turkey was good, the plate was filled with vegetables – so we truly had our traditional meal.

Day 30, 31, 32 – November 23, 24, 25, 2012 – At Sea

Movies, dancing, reading, relaxing. “Hawaii”, “Amelia”, “Pearl Harbor”.

Grand Chefs
Another beautiful formal night, a dessert extravaganza, lovely gifts of commemorative plates. We crossed the equator Friday night and loved watching our tv screen count down to zero from the south, then begin moving up into the north.


Grand Asia Fiji

Day 26 – November 20, 2012 – Fiji

Fiji Holiday

What a special day! We docked in Lautoka and were told we weren’t at an island with any pretty beaches. All aboard was 2:30, so really not enough time to get out to the gorgeous areas of Fiji… so we got off the ship with no expectations other than to meander and see what we could see.

Fiji Pineapple Delivery

First of all… BULA! It’s the greeting, and everyone says it! People just walking down the street, all determined to make us feel welcome, just grinning and saying “Bula!” We were in a mix of Polynesians, African descendants, Indians… and the clothing and shops depicted this beautifully. I got carried away! Bought a beautiful dress from India – with the little pantaloons and a pretty scarf. Also bought an amazing necklace and earrings – later coined my Fijian Bling!

Women of Fiji

We loved the local produce market! Got great photos and later went back for amazing pineapple. There was a parade for peace in the home… women all dressed beautifully in their traditional clothing… the variety of cultures – and a marching band playing “Onward Christian Soldiers”, but also doing a fun dance to the percussion beat right at the intersection where we happened to be standing.

Fiji Parade

We took a nice long walk that actually began at a mosque where children were at school, on around to a Krishna temple, and ending up inside a Methodist Church where women were having their weekly gathering. We sat down quietly in the back on old wooden pews and were treated to the most heavenly choir singing in Fijian. Maybe the most special moment of the whole day.

Fiji Fanta

So much about the place reminded us of Guam. It was a hot and humid day – which made our break for drinks and a tropical smoothie that much more delicious. They had no bottled water, so we got sodas. Gary had a Coke and I had a Fanta. I was reading the label, and it’s bottled right there – probably right next door to the sugar cane factory. Carbonated water, sugar and ascorbic acid in my drink… certainly no corn syrup. Mine was ‘made in Fiji’, but Gary’s was ‘lovingly prepared’ in Fiji! Isn’t that great.. a Coke, lovingly prepared!

This was a place on the globe we’d happily return to!

I wore my pretty new dress to dinner and loved playing dress-up.

Fiji Dress Up

Day 27 – November 21, 2012 – At Sea

Just another beautiful day in paradise – cruising along. Samba lessons. Formal night – so I wore my black velvet dress with my new Fijian Bling. Again – loved playing dress-up. And of course, more steak and lobster. For entertainment tonight we went to the movies… “South Pacific”.

Fijian Bling


Grand Asia Auckland

Day 23 – November 17, 2012 – Auckland, New Zealand

We were off the ship as soon as possible this morning… 7:00, and there was Mandy – waiting for us at the docks, looking just the same as she did 30 years ago when she came to Portales as an exchange student! What fun!

Mandy and Me

We spent the whole day together, with her showing us a variety of things around her city. We had a wonderful breakfast of Eggs Benedict and coffee. (We’ve learned how to order in Australia and NZ now that we’re leaving… long black and flat white.) We took a beautiful walk along a rugged shoreline with fabulous homes, went to her house and had tea and strawberries with her kids, a grand drive to see where she used to live in the country – near the dotcom mansion, then to the Sky Tower… the tallest structure in the Southern Hemisphere. That’s tall! We stood at the top watching bungee jumpers, and being a little amazed at how we couldn’t bring ourselves to stand on the glass flooring!

Scary Sky Tower

Lunch at a food court in a grand old brick building, walking in the rainy weather back toward the ship, another chance for coffee and gelato before coming back aboard. (Should have made arrangements for Mandy to come aboard… but didn’t start the process soon enough.)

New Zealand Coffee

Only two stops in New Zealand. Not enough. We must return someday.

Auckland Walk

We pulled out at 5:00, went to the dining room – where we were the only two from our group tonight… so enjoyed a relaxing evening alone. Afterwards we went to the hot tub to unwind and warm up from today’s chilly temps, and it’s early to bed for us. Time for books and good night’s sleep!
Grand Asia – The Pacific

Day 24 – November 18, 2012 – At Sea

Sleeping in, talks on what-to-do in upcoming ports, lounging in warm sweats in the cool breeze and sunshine on the back deck and our own verandah. More wonderful entertainment tonight… Graffiti Classics.

Day 25 – November 19, 2012 – At Sea

Sleeping in, chatting with Rick & Sue (From Manly, she lived in Lubbock as a child while her father went to Sunset School of Preaching), finishing our books (I have become enchanted with Mark Twain), more relaxation. G visits with Cal, and learns he’s the rabbi onboard. Who knew!