Happy Fourth of July, everyone.
Happy Fourth of July, everyone.
Thanksgiving Day. Couldn’t have asked for nicer weather. Jeffry and Kerri and the grandkids arrived the night before, and we had planned on getting together for Thanksgiving Dinner at a local buffet. Mateo and Marluce and I were ready to make the trek to Whitewater to pick up Gramma Anne to join us for some family time. I was quite proud of myself that I kind of winged my way to her home! Mateo got out of the backseat and held her arm as she got situated in the front seat. He is quite the little gentleman! I could tell that Anne was quite taken with him. We were off to meet the other Gardners for an early dinner!
After dropping off Gramma Anne at her house, I took the kids over to meet Dennis & Sandra Forsgren. Dennis was married to Bob’s sister, Linda until Linda was killed in a vehicle accident in 1996. Dennis was and remains a part of our family and close to my heart. A really nice visit followed – so nice to catch up.
Dennis actually owns the house that Gramma Anne resides. Don’t know why I cannot find anymore info on it, as that house was the original Whitewater Post Office. There is still a little side door that had the US Post Office in that old gold script. I would think it would be listed as a historical place, but I literally cannot find anything as far as research.
After a brief respite at our hotel room to let the kids lay around and wrestle a bit and me to do a tad of accounting, Robin and Alina rolled into town after a 2-day drive from Austin. We all met up at Denny’s for dinner and laughter and general catching up. It gave Robin a chance to meet Mateo and Marluce and for me to meet Alina. She is a sweet and precocious 3-year old with silky dark hair and brown eyes on the verge of turning green. What a beauty!
We had a wonderful day, albeit a tad long. Lots of family visiting. Lots of laughter and conversation. Lots to be Thankful. Back to the hotel early. In our pjs and the kids played their games on iPad while I caught up on some blogging and accounting. Good times.
The day before Thanksgiving and lots to do. Lori and I, along with my trusted assistants, Mateo & Marluce, are off to the venue to set up for Friday’s fun. I purchased 19 tablecloths of every color I could find. Lori purchased a gazillion disposable chafing trays with racks and Sterno and silverware and all the dinnerware and napkins you can imagine. We set out moving and arranging tables and chairs. Mateo and Marluce strung twisted crepe paper around the room.
and they made the banners WELCOME FAMILY 2014 REUNION.
The last thing to do was to set up the kids table to keep them from being bored. We had crayons and coloring pages, wooden ornaments and colored pencils, clay and shaping tools, Skip Bo and Story Cubes. I am thinking this table will be a hit!
Breakfast at the Hotel and enjoying the type of conversation that you can only experience while dining with a 10-year-old grandson and an 8-year-old granddaughter. All of the sudden, I feel a thick mane of hair on my neck and get a huge sister hug from my youngest sibling, Lori. After surprising us at breakfast, we head up to the room to gather anything else we need for the day.
Finishing a great photo-op with Auntie Lori, we jump in her new red Ford Focus and head out to see the hall in Palisade that she rented for our reunion. Always a pretty drive to Palisade and brings back so many memories of our entire family going out to the peach orchards to pick the best peaches that I have ever tasted. Kind of makes a lump in my throat as we pass so many familiar places from, oh, so long ago. Back to reality as I quiz Mateo and Marluce on the landmarks surrounding us as we drive. “Mateo, what is that mountain?” Mt Garfield. He catches on quickly. “And what is this long flat top mountain?” Right again. The Grand Mesa.
Lori and I take a lot of the drive to reminisce, And within a few minutes, the valley has enveloped me in her arms, and I am home again. My mind wanders from seeing myself as a child in a peach orchard with the family laughing and picking fruit and back to the present conversation of reunion plans. Lori picks up the keys and we check out the reunion hall and make mental notes of supplies we still need. Mateo and Marluce decided that some decorations were needed to add some color. After Lori drops us off at our hotel, we hop in the car and head out to Hobby Lobby and find crepe paper and banners and big sticky letters. It has been a long and busy day, so we decide on an early dinner at, in my opinion, the world’s best pizza ever – Junct’n Square.
After a pizza that Mateo is talking about three days later and describing it as “AMAZING”, (that, in itself, is amazing! Mateo is, shall we say, a very particular dining guest), we head back to the hotel and hop into pajamas and make an early evening of it. iPad games for them and accounting for me A wonderful day in my wondrous home town with people I love to share.
Monday, the 24th, was a comedy of errors as far as our flight. Bob was unable to travel to Grand Junction Colorado, so Ricky remained behind to stay with his dad, while Mateo, Marluce and I headed to the airport. From before we even left home, our flight was delayed by 45 minutes. Okay – no problem as we had an almost 2 hour layover in Phoenix. So, 1:45 passes us by and then 2:15 and I am thinking, boy our layover is getting fairly short! At 2:40, we are moved to another gate to board a different flight to Phoenix. As we are landing with 7 minutes before the boarding gate is closed on our connection, the flight attendant asks everyone who is not connecting to stay seated as we are all running out of the plane to get to our gate. With one minute to spare, we make it. We taxi out to the runway and then stop and wait…and wait … and then the Captain announces that he received an error message on the plane’s computer and maintenance people are on their way so we wait and wait and 2 guys come on board and check this and that and then they leave and we are thinking “woo hoo”. Well, we woo-hoo’d way too early. After the men leave and the stairs are pulled back up and we are getting ready to take off, Captain has other ideas. He announces that we have to go back to the terminal and we will sit on the plane while some other mechanics surmised the situation. A fuse. We needed a new little fuse. A short time later, we were on our way – although, since this was the 2nd attempt at take-off, the enthusiasm had waned somewhat. As we settled in the air at 30,000 feet, Mateo and Marluce played on their iPads (Yes, the each have one and Mateo won them both at different events). Once in a while you could hear their voices and a little giggle. Just good kids having a little fun.
This smaller jet has much more engine noise than the bigger ones, so any conversations were muffled, as if they were whispering. Captain announces that he is beginning the descent into Grand Junction and clapping follows. I like a grateful crowd. Just as the first wheel touches down, Mateo, not realizing the volume of his voice after such a noisy plane ride, exclaims (okay – he yells!) PREPARE FOR LANDING!!! And then comments on how he didn’t realize that his voice got so loud. Several passengers joined me in laughter.
I will admit to the embarrassing confession that I have never rented a car myself up until age 62. The hubs always handles these things and I have not minded one bit that I have been spoiled for my many years of marriage. Off we go in a 2015 Nissan Altima with key-less ignition. Zippy little thing and if I could, I would pack it up and take it home!! So, back to our day … We arrive at the Marriott’s Spring Hill Suites in beautiful downtown Grand Junction, facing Main Street and all the beautifully lit trees ready for the holidays.
A few short years ago, I started a sibling Christmas gift exchange. The reason was a simple one. After the death of our oldest and youngest brothers, I just wanted the remaining four siblings to connect. The idea was to be nothing fancy but should be handmade or recycled or at least had some kind of personal aspect. We all were living in different places so far away from one another. Lori in Grand Junction, Mark in Colorado Springs, Robin in Austin and me in Tucson.
The first year I had Mark’s name and made him a calendar with footprints of his grand kids and family photos. The second year, I made Robin an ornament using some of Gram’s old costume jewelry. I cannot say what I did this year for Lori, because it would ruin her surprise!
I loved the gifts that Robin and Lori bestowed on me the previous two Christmases. This year, Mark had my name. Imagine my surprise to see a huge package all wrapped in cardboard and taped together by our front gate yesterday. As soon as I began cutting the tape, I realized just what my gift from the heart was.
Some years back, with the blessing of Gram, I signed over the deed to her house to her niece, whom I affectionately called Sissy. This house shared a split deed with Sissy’s home since the day they were built. Gram’s home was built in the late 1800’s and Sissy’s house built in the early 1900’s. Gram’s house at 4500 Perry Street in Denver, was the original family home of my great grandparents and was built by my great-grandfather and other friends and relatives. Years later, in 1906, my grandma was born in the front bedroom of that little 2 bedroom home, as was my mother in 1927. To say that this home had sentimental family history that always touched my heart, is an understatement at the very least.
After Sissy passed away, my cousin had both homes demolished. Gram’s home was nowhere near modern building code and would have been cost prohibitive to bring it to building and safety code. After the demolition, Mark made the trek from Colorado Springs to Denver and managed to salvage a little 24 inch door for me. It must have been a difficult thing to see the house gone, but still, he did it because I asked. I had to hold back tears as I removed the layers of cardboard and packing and tape to discover the door that Mark took the time to grab and then store at his home for several years.
I have so many ideas for this door. Shall I make it into a kitchen table? Maybe a wall hanging? In the meantime, my first instinct was to dress her for the holidays. And here she stands in her glory showing off a new wreath. Thanks, Mark. You made my day. No, not day. You made my Christmas oh so special, and I love you so much for your thoughtfulness.
I suppose that anyone who has known me for over ten minutes, most likely is knowledgeable of the fact that Halloween is not my “thing”. Even as a little girl, I did not like costumes. I did not like having my face made up and calling attention to myself. Luckily, I began dance lessons at the tender age of two, so I always had a tutu around to dress up like a ballerina. And my little black cowgirl outfit with the white fringe from “Ragtime Cowboy Joe“. Or, my blue costume from “Five Foot Two, Eyes of Blue”, so I could dress up in my big blue bonnet and be a Dresden Doll for the holiday. I was a small child and it seemed like I always got swallowed up in a sea of huge witches capes and black hats and yards of billowy white ghosts. I did not like to look funny or scary. I had zero confidence for that type of shenanigans! I enjoyed seeing everyone else’s costumes and admired their guts to have dark paint smeared on their faces or teeth blacked out. Not for me. Imagine how mortified I was each year when my Mom dressed up for her bowling team party. She would smear honey – gooey sticky honey, on her cheeks and chin and then rub COFFEE GROUNDS into the honey so it looked like a scraggly beard. To make matters worse, she would find an old stained shirt of Daddy’s that she had used with furniture polish and wear that ugly, dirty looking, wrinkled thing over some torn pants. And then, much to my horror, she would mess up her thick black hair and then Aqua Net it to hold the entire mess in place. She would get in the car, windows rolled down, and wave to anyone who looked her way. She always came home with some sort of prize for her winning look. Apparently I was the only one who did not appreciate her “costume”.
So, when I had children of my own, I was always in a panic. I didn’t want them to be a plain Jane and not be up to par with their classmates and friends. I experimented with different looks, but always came back to a clown. I just had zero talent for any other look. We always had something around the house to make their shoes look like clown shoes or an over-sized tie and shirt. Red lipstick on the cheeks and mouth and some eyeliner tear drops and eyebrows completed the transformation. Clowns. I tried something new every year, but I admit it – they always looked like a clown.
I never decorated the house save for the pumpkins that the boys and their Dad carved – front on center on the porch of wherever we lived. Mom and Dad would turn most of their house into a haunted house with dark lighting and cold spaghetti “brains” and jello “guts” and peeled grape “eyeballs”. They took great delight in scaring the living hell out of me while working on the house for several days. They had stuff in every one of the five bedrooms and, needless to say, I had many sleepless nights until Halloween was over. I did not like scaring people and I did not like being scared. I had enough of that on a daily basis while little brothers, Mark and Larry, would hide in my closet or in the bathroom, waiting for me so they could jump out or yell and watch me have a panic attack. Yeah, those were sure fun days. My brother-in-law had great fun digging out some dirt in the front yard of his Tucson home and, laying as flat as he could, and would raise up in the dark of the night and scare the bejesus out of the neighbors. How sad it was one Halloween evening, watching little kids walk a huge arc around the front of Dan’s and Robin’s house out of fear of the crazy guy in the dark. Robin always had lots of good candy left over!
So, here it is, October, and I will be damned if Halloween is once again upon me. Now I have grandkids and have enjoyed entertaining them on Halloween from Tristan and Chase to Mateo and Marluce and now Max and Abby. I have never had the chance to spend a Halloween with Quinn, but perhaps one day. So, Max comes to spend the day last week and flatly states, Nana, you need to decorate for Halloween”. Well, I did decorate (or at least I thought I had) by displaying a cute little pumpkin from Safeway where someone had artfully drawn a cute face with red lips and long eyelashes. And, if that was not enough, voila, look at my cute Halloween owl in the front garden!
Max gave me a patronizing smile and a soft “oh”, but I could tell he was not very impressed. Then he said, “you should see our house Nana! We have skeletons and pumpkins and decorations inside the house and outside of the house.” I assumed from that statement, that the kids house had more than an “indoor” pumpkin and a tin owl stuck in the dirt. “Come on, Nana! We need to decorate!” Looking into those clear blue eyes, I had no choice but to get in the car and high-tail it to the store before Max came back the next day.
I was NOT going to spend a ton of money on a holiday that I do not even really consider a holiday. Afterall, November 1 begins “my” holiday season of Thanksgiving-Christmas-Epiphany. THAT is my kind of holiday and I have always said that Halloween is just in the way. But, little kids and big kid enjoy the dark holiday, so who am I to quibble? I decided to make some melting witches. Some black pointy hats, black gauze, black and green and purple ribbons and hang them from the courtyard lights and presto! we have melted witches. A couple long pairs of Halloween socks filled with some squished up plastic bags made for the stylish footwear left from the melting witches. Max and Poppa found some orange and green lights in our Christmas light stash and I replaced some clear ones with the colorful ones to add a little flair! I got 5 little battery lit pumpkins which max has had a great time arranging them and rearranging them! Add two Sassy Witches to the front door, and we have the final product. Not going to win any prize, but seeing my grandson’s eyes light up and the smile on his face is my blue ribbon.
Happy Halloween, everyone. I am going to start getting my Thanksgiving-Christmas-Epiphany decorations ready. November 1 will be here before you know it!