Christmas Creativity...

My sister-in-law is an incredibly talented crafter. We spent the afternoon at their home, celebrating a belated Thanksgiving and delighting in the cheerfulness of her Christmas tree creations. I just had to share.

When completed, each room will have at least one spectacular and truly uniquely decorated tree. Her color choices are fabulous and the ornaments are different for each creation. WOW.
The photos do not do these works of art justice!

This whimsical tea themed one is my favorite.
Adorned with vintage ornaments, along with new ones shaped as desserts, this tree presented itself as a treasure hunt... I never knew what I would discover.

There are at least five more trees awaiting her creativity. I eagerly await the glee of them all.

“The Christmas tree is a symbol of love, not money.
There's a kind of glory to them when they're all lit up
that exceeds anything all the money in the world could buy.”
-Andy Rooney

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Scenes of a Simple Thanksgiving...

We are spending a few days with Steve's mom. We began our holiday delighting in a morning storm, followed by a glorious rainbow.

"Rainbows reminds us that even after the darkest clouds
and the fiercest winds there is still beauty."
-Katrina Mayer

To keep our meal prep easy, we ordered a complete turkey dinner at the local Stater Brothers Grocery store.
We all agreed that the meal was scrumptious with the turkey being some of the best any of us have ever eaten!
The rainy day was spent dining well, enjoying each other's company, watching way too much football, while realizing all we are thankful for. It was a very good day!
“Being thankful is not always experienced as a natural state of existence,
we must work at it, akin to a type of strength training for the heart.”
– Larissa Gomez

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My Broken Neck Follow Up #4...

After a highly anticipated, hopeful three months, I have the results of my CT scan from yesterday after today's appointment with my Orthopedist. Yes, I am still in my brace and will be for the next eight weeks. Not exactly the answer I was hoping for but there it is!

That said, the news is actually good and the doctor was very happy with how well I have progressed. My 5.5 mm break is now at 2.4 mm. He feels that I'm out of the daily fear of paralysis but cautioned that breaks like this don't always heal completely.
So bottom line is we are going to slowly wade back into our life, conservatively making plans. We'll continue to be cautious and thoroughly thankful that things are as good as they are.

I just wanted to share and to tell you how grateful I am for your support and concern. Happiest of Thanksgivings to you and yours!

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My Alphabet Day...

So how about this day of acronyms? I had a CT and an EEG at UCSD. Wild.

Today was the neck imaging that had to occur prior to my Orthopedist appointment tomorrow to determine if my fracture has healed. This was a day of doing prep work, being hopeful and just getting out of the house.
The EEG was just to make certain all is well in the brain department, too. We're covering all my bases.

"There is no medicine like hope,
no incentive so great,
and no tonic so powerful
as expectation of something tomorrow."
-Orison Swett Marden

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Leslie Comes to Play...

For over 38 years, Leslie and I have been wonderful friends and always there for one another.

Knowing that I was broken and I had to stay close to home, she came prepared for simple friend time: thorough catching up, walks around the neighborhood, delicious meals, porch sitting in the sunshine, and even a rousing round of Scrabble.

I'm pretty certain she let me win, too.
There is great comfort in being in the company of old friends. It is something that I am truly grateful for. I am an incredibly lucky girl... and I know it.

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Ellen Has a Hurt Neck Too...

Recently, I learned that one of my favorite people, Ellen DeGeneres, has a neck injury, as well. I have been to several tapings of her show, and once we even danced together (for a brief, magical moment).

She admitted on her talk show that she had “no idea” how she sustained the injury. Ellen said that she spent the morning watching tennis and then the afternoon some bird watching. She joked, “At night, we did hula-hooping on our necks.”

My theory about why her neck hurts? I think she knows I have a neck fracture and is having sympathy pains. That's my theory and I'm sticking with it. I 💙 Ellen.

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Cyndi & Steve Head To Mexico...

Today we had the opportunity to visit with our friends as they migrate South for the winter. I think I might have even caught the scent of pines when we hugged goodbye.

Cyndi and Steve are our second set of friends to whom we had to wish Vaya Con Dios within the last two months! I'm so glad Temecula is on the way to Mexico from South Lake Tahoe.

"El regalo más grande de la vida es la amistad, y yo lo he recibido."
The greatest gift of life is friendship, and I have received it.

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Gratitude: Better Late Than Never

As I've mentioned previously, I'm spending my confinement at home reminiscing with my family's old photos. I wanted to share a letter I wrote to my oldest brother's ex-wife, the mother of his two children. I woke up the other day, compelled to snail mail her. I thought it was worth sharing as a reminder that it is never too late to thank someone.

My Mom & Wendy (her first grandchild) c. 1975
Dear Marcia,

Recently we were able to dig out some old treasured photos. Numerous, amazing photos of your babies were included. I gathered many of them and sent them on to Brett and Wendy.

As a grandma who doesn't get to see her grands nearly enough, I can only imagine what joy those images gave my parents [who lived 3,000 miles away]. You were a thoughtful daughter-in-law, as evidenced by all you sent (complete with dates and names clearly written on the back of each image).

I just wanted you to know how much I appreciated all you shared. I never realized how powerful it was then but I certainly do now.

With gratitude,

“What I like about photographs
is that they capture a moment that’s gone forever,
impossible to reproduce.”
– Karl Lagerfeld

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Gloria Steinem Wishes Me Well...

Okay, this has to be one of the most awesome images to wake up to- Gloria Steinem telling me to "Keep Healing!" WOW.

So how did this come to be? In August, pre neck fracture, I had purchased tickets to Ms. Steinem's book launch through my favorite bookstore, Warwick's. For those who are not familiar with her, Gloria Steinem is an acclaimed journalist, trailblazing feminist, and one of the most visible, passionate leaders and spokeswomen of the women’s rights movement in the late 20th and early 21st centuries.

This event was her discussing, in conversation, her newest book The Truth Will Set You Free, But First It Will Piss You Off!, a collection of Gloria’s lifetime of quotes—powerful and wise, funny and outrageous—beautifully illustrated, and with a new introduction and essays by the feminist writer and activist herself.

This was to be an unforgettable afternoon, which I had to cancel, sadly. Our cousin-in-law, Stacey, is Warwick's Children's Book Buyer. I reached out to her when Steve firmly stated that I could not attend this event.

It turns out that there was a waiting list of 400 people for this sold out happening. I was excited to learn that two someones who really wanted to be there were going to get their chance.

Never in a million years would I dream that this amazing woman would learn of my current setback and react in such a heartwarming way. WOW. Thank you to Stacey for making a magic moment happen for me. I am truly grateful.

"I'm a realist, but I'm also a dreamer.
And I'm not just a dreamer,
I'm a hopeaholic."
-Gloria Steinem

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The Great Christmas Card Exchange...

When I received news of this holiday card exchange, I knew I had to sign up! "It's that time of the year again and we all love sending out Christmas cards for the season. So, we have decided it would be fun to have a Christmas greeting card exchange within our snail mail community. All you need to do is send out a Christmas greeting card to someone and in return be a recipient of a beautiful card yourself."

This was a first for me. I sent mine out as soon as I received my pen pal's address. Honestly, I was in such a hurry (and so excited) I didn't spend any time on the envelope, sadly.
The rules stated: no homemade greeting cards are allowed; you are only required to send out a greeting card with a message written on it to your recipient, anything else you wish to send or include is totally your choice; and lastly, I had to send in proof of my mailing (just the envelope pic with postage) to Geetika & Paula, the hostesses of this wonderful event.
Today, I received proof of Lisa's incredibly spectacular envelope. I want to start all over again and redo mine. If this is not an example of Holiday Cheer, I don't know what is. I cannot wait to find this treasure in my mailbox when it arrives. Oh what fun it is!

"I love the rebelliousness of snail mail,
and I love anything that can arrive with a postage stamp.
There's something about that person's breath and hands on the letter."
~Diane Lane

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Envelope Making...

Some days one needs to be crafty. Today, I received my new, awesome Envelope Punch Board by We R Memory Keepers.

"This is the easiest envelope maker on the market. Just punch and score. The 2-way envelope punch creates fold tabs and round corners. It is easy to create designer envelopes in dozens of sizes. Printed on the punch board are a variety of cards sizes; paper sizes; and the score lines."

I am a huge fan of mail art and this new tool is going to be amazing and so fun. I discovered it on the blog hometalk and I'm so excited I did. Oh man, the envelopes I'm going to make. Woohoo!

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My Nephelococcygia Day...

One of my favorite pastimes is nephelococcygia: the act of seeking and finding shapes in clouds.

Since it was a beautiful Fall day, and since I have to get horizontal every few hours, I decided to lay about in our front yard. Here was my view and I just had to share.
 "If you use your imagination,
you can see lots of things in the cloud formations."
-Charles M. Schulz
 "When we feel stuck, look at the sky.
The clouds remind us that everything changes."
"Clouds come floating into my life,
no longer to carry rain or usher storm,
but to add color to my sunset sky."
-Rabindranath Tagore

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Where Was Your First Flight?

When I was 7, my big brother Chuck was newly married and an officer in the Navy. When my parents learned that he would be stationed at Naval Station Rota Spain, they booked a family Christmas trip to go see him.

My First Passport Photo
This was a huge undertaking. We went over Winter Break and we were gone for an entire month. I remember when we returned, the school threatened to hold us back for missing so many days. My mom was fierce and the threat dissipated.

For many years after this trip, the European adventure defined me, even being so young. "I have been to Europe!" I would proclaim. And many of the memories are still vivid.

Looking back, I'm extremely surprised at the planning that went into this trip. We had never flown anywhere as a family. We landed in Amsterdam where we toured Anne Frank's house. We then trained to Frankfurt, Germany to hang out with a friend of my brother's who was in the Army there. On the train to Paris, our parents lost us as we ran about and my mom thought that we were certainly still on the dining car that had been disconnected (we weren't). While in the City of Light, we ogled the Eiffel Tower and I had flu symptoms in front of a sidewalk café. Oh the things children remember.

The true highlight was to live in Spain, if only for a week or so, with my big brother. He was military, through and through. "I don't care what time you get up or how long it takes for you to get ready. We leave at 0:800". Oh man, I have never forgotten that. We toured castles and walled cities. We had a true adventure, one that 50 years later I still have fond, albeit faded, memories of.

Where was your first flight?

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It's the Simple Things...

Today was one of my best days in the last 11½ weeks. I actually felt like my previous self (who I have missed). At times, if I stood at just the right position, I even forgot I was wearing a neck brace, but just ever so briefly. It was awesome and hopeful. I was extremely happy and I want to share the little things that made me so.

I was due for my annual fasting labs and since I only leave the house for medical issues, out we went. And since we were out, and I was famished, Steve took me to breakfast. I was absolutely giddy. What fun it was just to be outing & abouting.
I wanted to also show you my wonderful collection of Get Well cards received. This is a view that encourages me every day.
Not to stress anyone out, but I have finished my Holiday Card Prep. Ah but when to send? This is what I found (I am so ready):

Sending Christmas cards out during the holidays can be simple if you begin early. If you want your recipients to have enough time to enjoy your family’s cheer before the holiday frenzy and ugly Christmas sweater parties begin, start your Christmas card mailing process 3 weeks in advance of Christmas day. Family and friends are usually overloaded with cards and gifts the week of Christmas so it’s always a smart idea to avoid what we like to call, the “Christmas Card Rush”.
I haven't felt much like reading, as of late, but picked up this book and just couldn't put it down. The Little Paris Bookshop has pretty much everything I needed for lazy days of reading. “Books, the only remedy for countless, undefined afflictions of the soul.” - Nina George
Steve said the sweetest thing, "I feel bad when I leave you at home and I don't get into a car accident, knowing you could have come with me." Until we know I'm healed, we just can't take a chance but it was a super sweet sentiment, nonetheless.
It makes we happy to eye spy unique things in nature. Isn't this a cool spider?
It has been unseasonably warm here (80°+ most days). It has allowed flowers to stay blooming and porch sitting to happen for hours. I am so delighting in all of the simple things.

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The U.S. Mail Is Not for Sale...

I don't get political but I am passionate about the United States Postal Service. When I read about the privatization of this formidable (and my favorite) institution, I knew I had to share. I have lived abroad and have sent mail from various countries. There is no better postal system than ours!

The goal of the US Mail Not for Sale campaign is to preserve affordable, universal mail and six day a week delivery service for all. The White House’s plan states, “Like many European nations, the United States could privatize its postal operator.” What’s left unsaid is European nations charge substantially more for mail services delivered in a much smaller area, and they regularly raise the price of delivery. One example is that the price of sending a letter in the United Kingdom has increased 80% over the last decade.

Eliminating the universal service obligation to deliver to the 157 million U.S. addresses at the same price, as the plan suggests, would hurt businesses and individuals alike. It would be a dagger in the heart of rural America and undermine e-commerce. There is nowhere else in the world that you can send a love note 3,000 miles for only 55¢.

The United States Postal Service (USPS) is the only federal agency enshrined in the U.S. Constitution. It belongs to the people of this country. Let’s do whatever it takes to keep it for generations to come! Stop the Postal Sell-off by signing the petition. The People's Post Office, Keep it. It's Yours.

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Sharing My Dad on Veterans Day...

On this day, 100 years ago, President Woodrow Wilson issued a message to his countrymen on the first Armistice Day, in which he expressed what he felt the day meant to Americans. What a perfect day to share my dad's military history- he a Veteran of three wars: WWII, Korea and Vietnam.

I've written about him as a dad but not as a military man. He didn't share that life with me so the information here was written by my big brother, Chuck, another Navy veteran worth praising as well. This only tells the story of my dad's military career in WWII. I hope, one day, to learn about the other two wars my dad served in. History needs to be shared!
In the fall of 1942, less than a year after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, Hawaii and the United States declared war on both Japan and Germany, my dad enlisted in the United States Navy. He was just 17 years old and had to have his parents sign the papers so he could join. He graduated from basic training at Great Lakes Naval Training Center. He then went to school to learn how to be a diesel mechanic. He was very good with tools and machines and did well in that school. He trained to work on engines of small ships. His rating (or specialty) was Motor Machinist
In early 1943, my dad was stationed in Norfolk, Virginia where he did more training and some at sea time on ships called Landing Ship, Tank (or LST for short).  These were very interesting ships, as they could come right up on the beach and discharge their cargo. He was one of the men that were charged with keeping the engines that powered the ship in top shape.
Dad did not see any combat in the Atlantic, and was soon transferred to the Pacific theater of the War…or the war against Japan.  Again he was assigned to an LST that was to carry United States Marines to several of the islands in the Pacific Ocean that were occupied by the forces of Japan. The mission of his ship was to land Marines and their equipment on the beaches of these islands. I am not sure of which island campaigns he was involved in but he did see combat in several.  

His ship was never hit by enemy fire, but was an important contributor to the final victory of the Allied forces over the Empire of Japan. His ship did participate in a very historic event. They were part of an advanced force that went into Tokyo Bay, after the Japanese said that they had surrendered, but before the official signing of the surrender documents. My dad told my brother how he and several of the men from his ship went ashore in Yokohama, Japan, and were the very first Americans to be there after the war. He said he didn’t know what the reaction of the people there would be. They went ashore armed in case there was hostility, but there was none. He said it was very sad with much destruction and suffering by the people. A few days later, the official signing onboard the USS Missouri, a battleship, occurred. General Douglas MacArthur signed for the United States and the other Allies.
This photo of my dad (on the right) was taken in Japan, shortly after the end of the war. He advanced very rapidly in the Navy during the war. At the end, he was an Acting Chief Petty Officer. He decided to return home and get out of the Navy and start a family. He did just that and not long after that my brother, Chuck, was born…a Baby Boomer…in 1946. After a brief period as a civilian in Iowa, he missed the Navy and rejoined. He had a wonderful career of 26 years and retired as a Lieutenant.

Thank you to all Veterans for your sacrifices and service. We are grateful for you, today and everyday.

"This nation will remain the land of the free
only so long as it is the home of the brave."
~Elmer Davis

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