Romance at the Grand Canyon

SB2017_020As part of a spring break road trip, my husband and I visited the Grand Canyon last week. I’d done a small plane tour many years ago, but this was the first time for either of us to walk the south rim of the park. Have to say it was pretty incredible. We arrived in late afternoon as the sun was beginning its descent, and the moon was rising. Made for some nice photos.

We stayed overnight in the Village, then went back to the scenic vistas of the south rim the next morning. There were fewer people, and we wandered the path without jockeying for position at the lookout areas.

At one area, a little farther out from the main path, we came upon a young couple enjoying the view, and they asked if we’d take a photo. Lucky them. Their timing was perfect, as my husband is a professional photographer.

Turns out they’d just gotten engaged! And it just happened to be our anniversary. Kind of cosmic. We spent the next several minutes chatting and taking photos. The photos probably won’t be their “official” engagement pictures, but I’m sure they’ll be treasured. Of course, he didn’t take just one. He knew how to place them for the best lighting, and the best composition. And he remembered to have the young woman place her hand where her new engagement ring was front and center. It was a short but fun photo shoot.

I don’t remember their names. We’ll never see them again. But it added to the romance and ambiance of our Grand Canyon experience. This is how memories – and stories – are made. Little snippets. Chance meetings. Unexpected connections. Intertwined with life’s big events.

They don’t know us, but we’re forever part of their story. I love that.

Enhancing your Romantic Getaway!

Whether your getaway-for-two is over Valentine’s Day or not, by land or by sea, you can enhance your romance wherever you go — without spending a fortune. Here are some inexpensive and easy tips: Find a garden. It could be right there at your resort, in a park near your hotel, or part of an […]

via Easy Ways to Enhance Your “Getaway” Romance — I Luv2cruz!

The Year we went with Wacky

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So we’re planning to get a Christmas tree this weekend. We always get a live tree, and almost always end up going on one of the coldest nights of the year. That’s not the plan, as I am a winter weather wimp, but as fate would have it . . . that’s the way it goes. I’m watching the forecast, but whatever, the schedule says it’s this weekend. Because we don’t want to wait too late.

One year, a few years ago, we decided to wait until both kids were home from college before getting the tree. You know, make it a fun family outing.

Well, we did have that, but when we pulled up to our longtime Christmas tree lot, the place was packed up and put away. Gone. Except for . . . this.

One lone deformed tree had been left behind. I mean, this tree made Charlie Brown’s tree look like perfection. At least his was shaped like a tree! This thing looked more like a shrub in need of a serious trimming — something fitting for a Dr. Seuss scene. Sitting in the car in the cold, we considered our options. Go drive around and try to find another lot that was open? I have no idea whether there were any others that still had trees. It didn’t matter, though,  because a kind of poor-baby sympathy began to well up for this pathetic little tree-thing that nobody wanted. Plus, it was free, right?

In the spirit of Christmas, we decided to give the thing a home. So, we loaded it up and took it with us. My husband had to hack and saw on it just to get it into the tree stand. Once inside the living room, there was a definite “now what?” moment. Laugh or cry?! Well, we dressed it up as best we could with our usual ornaments. Had we known this is what we’d end up with for the year, we might have come up with a clever “theme” more fitting of the situation. But time was running out, so we made do.

In the end, we kind of liked our wacky little Seuss bush-tree. It was worth some laughs. And made a fond family memory!

 

Do you have a favorite let’s-make-the-best-of-it holiday story? Do share!

A Scary Bump in the Night

strokeIt’s almost Halloween, but the bump I’m referring to had nothing to do with Halloween. There were no ghosts or creepy costumed characters or ax-wielding zombies.

The thing that went bump in the night was . . . my dad.

It happened a few nights ago when he got out of bed for a visit to the bathroom, and found that his legs wouldn’t carry him. They cramped, and he fell. He was aware enough to know something was wrong, but he didn’t make the connection. He was suffering a stroke.

Like those men who refuse to ask for directions, my dad is reluctant to ask for help. Rather than banging on the wall or yelling for my mother, he spent the entire night – nine hours – on the floor. This, it turns out, is one of the more dire consequences of snoring. My mother, unable to sleep through the noise, had gone to another room upstairs, and had no idea anything had happened until the next morning when she finally realized he was sleeping later than usual.

His stroke was the bleeding kind, and not the clot kind, so getting the clot-busting medicine in a hurry was not a factor. Still, damage was done. Who knows whether getting to the hospital nine hours earlier would have made a difference. I can’t help but think it might’ve. Of course, we’re all still scratching our heads over the fact that he didn’t call for help. Really, if you fall and can’t get up – it’s okay to yell and wake someone up!

The brain is a funny thing. Dad was able to relate the story of what had happened, and even what time. He’s alert and able to communicate. He has strength in his arms and legs, but there is a disconnect. Though he can feel his toes, and move them, he can’t tell whether they are on the floor, so he can’t stand up. He has no sense of balance. He’ll be transferred to a rehab facility in a day or two, where he will, hopefully, regain his balance and learn to walk again. Doctors are optimistic that he’ll get there and have full mobility again. That’s certainly our hope. No wheelchairs. No permanent disabilities. And, please, no more bumps in the night.

Remember the acronym FAST to help you spot the signs of a stroke.

Move over, Martha

p1070029So this is it – the extent of my Fall/Halloween decorating. You’re jealous of the originality and effort that went into it, aren’t you? I must be the next Martha Stewart, right? Well, it did require a trip to the grocery store and some physical activity to gather the hedge apples.

Maybe some people do more lavish decorating once their “nest” is empty, but this is it for me. There’s no fake spider web material in the windows (I have enough of the real thing, thank you very much), no ghosts or skeletons hanging around, and no twinkling lights or sinister sound machines blowing in the trees.

Because, of course, there are no kids! Well, maybe. I suppose that’s part of it. I think it might just be the next phase. A transition. Decorating for all the seasons/holidays isn’t a high priority anymore. We’ve morphed into the de-cluttering phase. Scaling back. Less is more.

I visited a friend’s house last weekend and was amazed at the level of fall decorating both inside and outside her house. It was beautiful – wreaths, flowers, candles, etc., all artfully arranged throughout the rooms. Rich tones of gold and bittersweet were woven into impressive mantel and table displays. But as I looked around, I couldn’t help thinking, “Wow. That’s a lot of work.” And time. And money. And storage. The truth is, my house won’t ever look like that because I’m simply not inclined to devote the time and energy to that level of seasonal transformation. That’s OK. I thoroughly enjoyed her efforts! 🙂

Which holidays do you enjoy decorating for?

A Quest for the Perfect Present

big box.jpgHave you ever been really excited about giving a gift? You’ve bought something that’s the perfect gift, and you know the recipient is going to love it? You anticipate the smile and joy the gift will bring? You can’t wait to watch the person open it?

I have a gift that arrived via UPS yesterday (several days earlier than I was expecting it). It’s a great present. I know my dad is going to love it. And now it’s sitting here in this big, cool box, and I have to wait a week and a half to give it to him!

I enjoy giving gifts. I enjoy coming up with a special item that perfectly fits the recipient and the occasion. I’ve been told that gift-giving is my “language of love.” I suppose that’s true.

My dad turns eighty in a couple of weeks, and we’re having a celebration. It’s kind of a big deal, so I’ve spent a considerable amount of mental energy on this – the quest for the perfect present. A phone call to him resulted in no good ideas. A couple of conversations with my mother also yielded zip. So I was beginning to feel anxious. I’ve bought the man more puzzles, billfolds and shirts than I can even remember. Each year it gets harder. I wanted this one to be more special, something a little out of the ordinary. And I have a reputation to maintain!

Trying not to hurt myself with the back-patting, but I’m so happy that I finally had an epiphany while on vacation last week. Whew! Don’t you love it when that happens? I ended up ordering it online because retail store options were limited. So I didn’t get to touch and feel it. Didn’t get to see the actual color and material, so when I hit the “purchase” button, I was a little nervous. Opening the package yesterday was a relief. It’s great! Did I mention perfect?

I won’t give it away in case there are family members reading this. But, trust me, it’s a good one. Can’t wait to watch him tear into this package, and snap a couple of photos. The anticipation of his smile makes me smile!

What’s the best gift you’ve ever given?

 

Mothers of Character

blog orchidIt’s Mother’s Day! The day to honor all of the loving, hard-working moms in our lives. As a daughter, of course, I reflect on the relationship with my mom, so fortunate that she’s still with me and in good health. As a mom, I’m grateful for the joy that my two awesome kids bring to my life. And as a writer, I can’t help thinking about all the mothers in my novels.

Here’s just a quick introduction to a few of them:

There’s Dana, the single mother in Second Wind, who works diligently to provide for her kids, give them a stable home environment, and send them to college. She’s a steadfast encourager who does all she can to give support and direction to her children.

“Chase, like I’ve said a million times, you have so much potential. You can do whatever you want. You need to believe in yourself.”

“Yeah? What good does that do if no one else will?”

“Chase.” She waited until his eyes met hers. “I believe in you.”

 

In Unexpected Legacy, Grace, the hero’s mother, unconditionally accepts the 16-year-old grandson she didn’t know she had.

She got up from her chair and in three quick steps threw her arms around Matt. “Of course we’ll help,” she said as she hugged him tightly. “I want to meet this boy.”

His mother was a slight woman, a good foot shorter than him, but those were the most comforting arms he’d ever been wrapped in.

 

In Something Good, Mandi’s mother plays a supporting role – a steady presence primarily in the background. While Mandi’s relationship with her father is a little rocky, her mother is rock-solid.

Mandi punched in her mother’s number.

“Mom?”

“Mandi? Is something wrong?”

The worry in her mother’s voice tugged at Mandi. She didn’t always see eye-to-eye with her parents, but she could always count on them. They were her safety net, and tonight she wanted to feel safe.

“Yeah, there is. I don’t want to go home tonight. Can I come there?”

“Of course. Are you all right? Where are you? Do you need us to come get you?”

“No. I’ve got my car. I’m leaving the diner now. I’ll tell you about it when I get there.”

“I’ll wait up.”

Light spilled onto the porch, and the front door opened before Mandi stepped out of her car. She hurried up the stairs to the welcoming entryway of her parents’ house, and stumbled into her mother’s arms.

 

The mother/daughter relationship in The Storm Within is complicated. Claire struggles to accept the death of her son and forge a closer relationship with her daughter who’s always played second fiddle. While they haven’t been close, Elise refuses to give up on her mother.

Claire’s fingers grazed the small trinkets.

“You’re not upset that I took Ben’s things and put them in here, are you?”

“Of course not. I love it. And I love that I can still take them out and touch them. It’s very thoughtful, Elise.”

She swallowed hard, and took Elise’s hand. “This has been a tough year for both of us. I know I put you through some bad times. I’m sorry for that.”

When tears spilled down Elise’s cheeks, Claire wiped them away, Ben’s words echoing in her ears again. It’s gonna be okay. “No more tears,” she whispered. She gathered her daughter into her arms. “I love you, honey.”

“Love you, too, Mom.”

Though Elise’s words were muffled, Claire understood each one.

 

Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms who love and support unconditionally!