Best Gift EVER!

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.

blog map 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. 12 19 2013 3

not my cup of tea

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!

20131021_095258

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.

20131021_095312 20131021_095336 20131021_095346

Happy Halloween, everyone.   I am going to start getting my Thanksgiving-Christmas-Epiphany decorations ready.  November 1 will be here before you know it!

Grandma Tabor

Marjorie Grace.  Born June 14 1906 – on Flag Day – before there even was a Flag Day!  Born to James Benjamin  Daigle and Mary (Minnie) Victoria Gardner (Daigle) in the family home at 4500 Perry Street in Denver.  A mere 21 years later, my mother would be born in that very same house!grandmataborholdingmomat4500perrystreetdenvercolorado

Gram was the youngest of four children.  Two older brothers died at very young ages (one from an accidental discharge of a rifle and one electrocuted from felled power lines near their home.  She was, admittedly, very spoiled and that carried through until the day she died in 2004.  When Mom would take us to visit Gram in Denver no less than twice a year, everything revolved around her and care was taken to make certain that she did not prepare a meal, wash a dish or vacuum a floor the entire time we were visiting.  When Gram visited Grand Junction, also twice a year, everything revolved around her and care was taken to make certain that she did not prepare a meal, wash a dish or vacuum a floor the entire time she was visiting.  Déjà vu all over again!

Gram’s one and only chore during any visit was to take me shopping.  The famous phrase still rings in my head “we need to buy you a new top!”  Off to the May D&F or Fashion Bar we would go and I would return with no less than 4 blouses each time.  In my much younger days, I received pinafore dresses with layers of crinoline complete with hoop petticoats, matching socks, shoes and sometimes even a bonnet – her word for a hat.  When I was 3 or 4, I was dressed up in a pale pink dress layered with a pinafore.  A pale pink hat was placed atop my head, brand new shiny white paten leather shoes atop the pale pink ruffled socks, AND the piece de la resistance, white gloves.  The dainty kind that just barely covered my hands below the wrist.  I cared not where we were headed when I was walked to the 1952 dark maroon color Chevy with the most enormous steering wheel I have ever seen.  I was only concerned with not scuffing my shoes or soiling my pristine white gloves.  After a short drive, I was out of the car and walked into a big building which was all quiet and hushed-like.  I dutifully sat in the bench style seat next to Gram like the little lady I was.

I don’t know exactly when it was that I realized there was a dead body in an ornate box at the front of the building.  I felt so betrayed.  Why would Gram have me all dressed up in my signature pale pink color attire to bring me to sit on a hard bench looking at a box with a dead person in it.  I should be going to Luby’s for lunch and taken to another store to shop!  Nothing was ever discussed about that quiet day.  But I do know that I learned some grace from Gram that day.

Happy Birthday to Gram who left us in this world to watch over us from another.  I think I hear her voice now … don’t wear that.  You look like a hussy! 

trick or TREAT

Oct 2003 Kerri & Connie at a Halloween Concert in Tucson
We picked up a couple of Wizards after the concert.
Really never was much of a big Halloween fan.  Oh, when I was a child I was a huge fan just because I had a ton of dance costumes to choose from recitals – so what to wear was never a problem.  And since it was back in the 50’s and 60’s, we could roam for hours by ourselves collecting candy from strangers with no worries.  We knew which houses to hit first as they always gave out real size candy bars!  One Halloween, Mom made all of the fixings for popcorn balls of all colors.  Kids could come right inside the kitchen (front door wide open) and plunk down their bags and take off their coats and dig in to the warm gooey popcorn concoction and make their own treat adding bits of candy or nuts or even fresh coconut.  When they were done, Mom would hand them a flat sheet of waxed paper (Saran wrap back then – never heard of it) and they could roll it around to cover their own home made treat and shove it in their bag.  it was okay to grab a handful of the popcorn all warm and gooey and pop it in your mouth to tide you over during your long night of making the rounds.
Another year, Dad decided that we would all make homemade pulled taffy.  We would make our way walking backwards across the kitchen with warm taffy strung from our hands to Mom or Dad’s hands.  It was a constant motion of pulling the taffy one direction and then the other with buttery hands until it reached the perfect consistency.  Mom would cut the taffy rope into pieces with scissors and we would wrap the little pieces in torn wax paper.  If they were so inclined, kids and adults alike had an open invitation to join in the fun to make their own.  And lots did.
Oct 1998 a 6 year old Tristan sans costume sorts out her bounty at our dining table.
Many other Halloweens followed with carmeled apple make your own treat night.  Our home was turned into a haunted house by my parents and Al & Dorothy LaCount, complete with scary music and cold spaghetti brains and peeled grape eyeballs and jello-y guts.  Even though Janet and I had watched the entire thing come together, we still got creeped out when actually going thru the dark house.  When I got home from trick or treating and was tired and ready for bed, that proved impossible as the adults had turned all 4 bedrooms, the family room, dining and living room and kitchen – all into scary little dark rooms.  So, I made my way to my bedroom and dug my pillow from the closet where it had been stashed in order to make the scary guts and blood room – made my way to one of the bathrooms and sat in the dry tub, pillow propped up on the edge and tried to get some sleep in between the screams of terrorized neighbors!
October 2004 baby Mateo visits his first ever Pumpkin Patch and tries a taste of straw!

 

October 2007 Katia and little princess Marluce
When I had kids of my own, I was horrible at making costumes.  Did not have a sewing talent to my name and no imagination whatsoever.  So the poor kids were relegated to being clowns or hobos or Fonzie.  When Jeffry was in Taekwondo and would be testing for his black belt at the tender age of 8, he firmly reminded me that his Taekwondo gi was NOT to be used as a Halloween costume.  Orders from Master Rex Veeder!  Hmmm.  Apparently Master Veeder was aware of my past costume endeavors.
Jeffry inherited his mother’s talent for costumes. 
 I have had other memorable and enjoyable Halloweens as well.  Halloween dinners on the driveway at the Dunham house …
October 2003 at the Dunham halloween Spooktacular Dinner
Enjoying the Tucson Zoo Halloween night with Tristan and Chase … Tristan had my phone headset and was a Rock ‘n Roller and Chase was skull to toe bones dressed as a skeleton.  We toured the Zoo, watched dancers, got lots of candy and treats and were exhausted by the time we got back to Grandma’s to spend the night.
And we just had a visit from Thomas Train.  Nana (me!) decorated the little front yard just for him as we had ZERO trick or treaters.  Sign of the times, I guess.
Yeah – still not so much of a halloween fan – but with Grandkids and friends and family in the picture – well, what could be better than that?

a Tribute to Mom’s Kitchen

I love vintage.  I love ALL things vintage.  So, when I saw a 1960’s Frigidaire Flair stove for sale, what else could I do but bring her home with me?  This particular unit is fairly rough!  Going to take quite a bit of elbow grease, a bit of electrical work, priming and painting the cabinet not to mention the amount of time, to get this in perfect up and running shape.
The bottom cabinet doors were removed and are residing in the dumpster.  Today I spent over 2 hours just cleaning the smaller oven.  The results were worth it.  Now, Max is napping and Nana is hopping in a nice hot shower!  Ahhhhhh.
20121122_115142 20121122_115156
          larger oven before cleaning …                                                       smaller oven after!

Colorado became a state on August 1, 1876

I think there is hardly a more beautiful state than the peaks and valleys of Colorado.

Mt Garfield

I still consider Colorado to be my home state. I was born there, attended school there, and lived there for 32 years before moving to Arizona. 5 of the 6 kids in my family were born in St Mary’s Hospital in Grand Junction. (Jay was born in Chicago while Mom and Dad moved around with the US Navy. This is where the family gathered for Christmases and Graduations. Jay and Larry have both passed, however, I believe I speak for them as well when I say that Grand Junction is still home. Happy Colorado Day.