Christmas Memories

I grew up in southern Ohio. Dayton, to be exact. And Christmas was always a very big deal at our house.

Memories include making homemade caramels with Mom. The kind you cooked on the stove and then wrapped up in wax paper. Wrap one, eat one, wrap one, eat one, until you were caught. And Daddy’s popcorn balls  that we kids couldn’t help with cause the syrup was so hot. And the chocolate fudge. Oh boy, I’m gaining weight just thinking about it.

It wasn’t just food either. We always went downtown to Rike’s department store to see the windows. Glorious animated figures in winter and holiday scenes. Different every year. Rike’s was one of the big stores in Dayton, along with Elder-Berman’s, neither of which is still around today. Recently I was back in Dayton. I visited the theater center downtown which happens to be on the property where Rike’s stood. This what is looks like inside. Marvelous architecture.

And they have re-furbished and preserved some of the animated scenes and put them on display. Each scene is inside a giant case set up to look like a window. I spent quite a while peering into them. There’s so much detail.


And they even brought back the best part of going to Rike’s during the holiday season. Tike’s Gift Shop. It was a room set up especially for children to go shopping for their family. The doorway was about 4 feet high so no adults were allowed. Store clerks assisted us in purchasing just the right thing for mom and dad. I believe nothing cost over $1.oo And they gift wrapped the presents so the folks would be just as surprised as we were on Christmas morning.

Another great story from my life is about the year we got the piano. I wanted a piano badly. I had been taking dance lessons and wanted to change to an instrument. So that year, I think I was 8 or 9, my parents bought one. But didn’t tell me. It was to be a complete surprise. I ran down the stairs Christmas morning and there it was. I could not speak. (I know, I know, …ME?) It wasn’t possible. We did have a fireplace, but how on earth had Santa got it down the chimney? Well it turns out, the night before we had gone to the 11:00p.m. Christmas Eve church service like we always did. When we got home, I was tired, almost asleep on my feet. My mom walked me through the house with me on her left side, my dad had my brother on his left side, (the piano being on the right side of the room) and they walked us up the stairs without us seeing what had been delivered while we were gone.

I took lessons for three years and no I can’t play without HOURS of practice. So don’t ask.

Christmas is still a special time for me. It means family and giving and kids squealing with joy. And food, Lots of food.

You can look forward to my next post entitled “My Exercise Routine.” LOL




New Book

The past month has been spent taking care of family. My granddaughter who had surgery, my daughter who had surgery, and their various family members. So instead of traveling I’ve been in caretaker mode.

This has given me plenty of free time to concentrate on writing. I’ve finished the third volume in my Trivia for Kids series.

And here it is!

Just in time for Christmas gifting. It will be available on Amazon next week.




A Day in the Life of a Retired Grandma

For the past week I’ve been at my daughter’s house. My granddaughter was hit by a car and had to have a skin graft on her foot. She spent two days at the hospital and she can’t walk so I’ve been helping out.

So, my days have been quite different from the normal traveling mode. I’m on grandma duty now. Here’s my schedule:

6:30 am – the kids are waking up. The 11-year-old gets himself ready for school. The 3-year-old wakes up hungry. And the patient, 6-years-old, needs to get to the bathroom. She’s been sleeping downstairs on the couch. It’s a 2 story house and, of course, the bathroom is upstairs.

7:00 a.m. – breakfast  Yogurt and cereal. The doctor says protein is the most important thing to eat to help the healing process. Meats and dairy products. Yum!

9:00 a.m. – shopping.  We’re almost out of TP and paper towels, so I volunteer.  She’s getting bored, so I also picked up some little arts and crafts kits. Oh, and a new winter coat for me.

10:00 a.m. – library. I remembered that when my kids were little they had activity bags for traveling or sick days. Unfortunately these have been discontinued, but…they now have bags of books. Each one is on a different subject and contains 8 books and a DVD. I got the one called “I Spy” with books of hidden pictures. She loves those.

11:00 I run to her school to get some homework. The teacher had all her classmates make get well cards. How wonderful! The school also gave her a book.

1:00 p.m.  computer time Games and news surfing

3:00 p.m.  reading with the patient  The I’Spy hidden pictures books are a big success.

4:00 p.m. laundry and supper

7:00 TV time for the rest of the night

10:00 early to bed

A far cry from roaming, but just as satisfying.

Last Day at Balloon Fiesta and Trip Home

On our last day in Albuquerque we took some time to explore a bit. Found a city park along the Rio Grande which runs along the west side of the city. It has wonderful bike / walking trail.


The last thing we did at the Balloon Fiesta was attend the evening glow. It was all the special shapes balloons, the ones that are not just a regular balloon shape. Every few minutes the announcer would say “5-4-3-2-1 all burn!” And the balloon pilots would light up their burners and they glowed! And then there was fireworks.


Then the next morning we finally said adios to New Mexico and began the 3 day drive home. The scenery is spectacular and changes constantly. Here’s a few shots.


So, good-by to the “Great Wide Open” for now.  I shall return.

Balloons Day 3

Flight of the Nations Mass Ascension

Today started at 5:30 a.m. We went to the Fiesta Park before dawn. Saw some balloons glowing on the way. We parked and the event had trollies to take us from the parking lot to the gate.  Then we  went out onto the field.


I watched one balloon from roll out to lift off. It’s name is Bimbo, sponsored by a bakery called Rise and Shine.


The rest of this post is pictures. No words can describe the thrill of seeing over 400 balloons rising to the sky.



Balloon Fiesta Day 2

This is what we saw when we walked out of the hotel this morning.


The sky was filled.


My brother and I went to the International Balloon Museum.

It was fascinating. I learned all kinds of things about ballooning – from the origins in France to how they were used in both world wars, to various expeditions and round the world trips.

This is a jig saw puzzle done by a balloon pilot. It’s 14 x 5 feet!

Then this evening we decided to eat Tex Mex…because, Albuquerque. We chose Sadie’s and it was good.

More tomorrow.

Balloon Fiesta Day 1

What an amazing event! Balloons are everywhere.

You can see them all over the city.

The Balloon Fiesta Park is a huge field, an area as big as 6 football fields.

It’s ringed with vendors of all sorts, food, merchandise, souvenirs, and more food. Lots of coffee booths because the days begin at 6:00 a.m. with a mass ascension. We didn’t make it there until later today. But we still saw a lot of balloons before they were deflated.

You never know who’s going to be around a corner.

The event is run by volunteers and they are some of the nicest I’ve run across. Friendly, helpful beyond normal service. They even flagged down a courtesy shuttle for us when we couldn’t find one.

We’re planning to see the mass ascension on Wednesday because it’s the Flight of the Nations featuring international teams. And maybe we’ll do some things around Albuquerque. I’ll keep you posted.