Monday, May 22, 2017

Feeling Better - But Not Great

As some of you know, I've spent the last couple weeks battling bronchitis and all of the junk that goes with it.  It seems that if you've ever had one bad bout of pneumonia in your life, you will forever be plagued with the susceptibility of catching bronchial issues anytime a cold, cough or runny nose crosses your path.  Not fun; however, the actual having pneumonia part was much worse, so thanking the Lord that I haven't had to actually have that part of it since the 80's.  It was a horrific nightmare of sickness that I hope to never go through again.

The good news is, I'm feeling better.  The prayers and antibiotics seem to be doing their job.  The coughing has subsided from "every time I talk" to the "occasional moment when I try to talk too much."  My job requires that I talk a lot, so I am hoping and praying that my customers will be able to understand me when I walk them through why their premium doubled this year.  That conversation can be challenging enough when you have a strong and clear voice.

The antibiotics and meds that I have been on for almost a week are playing havoc with my body in other ways that I won't mention.  Today is my last dosage...Thank you Lord.  Doc said once the antibiotics are out of my system, my other issues should clear up.  Yeah!

The plan was to return to work today.  That didn't happen.  After talking on the phone with my Dr's nurse and my HR Case worker, we now have a return date of Wednesday.  The good news in all of this, is that being off work and spending a great deal of time in bed or the couch, has allowed me to work on my story writing.  It seems as though the "writers block" has been lifted!  Hallelujah.  I've written two more chapters in Sophia's Story and added some chapters to another story I've been working on for about a year.  It's about a spunky young woman I call Clare Donovan.  I cannot tell you how excited I am that the juices are flowing again.  Maybe this will be the year that I complete my books and get them published!

While off, I have also been having time to surf my travel websites in hopes of planning a trip for the not-too-distant future.  I use to travel a lot.  I loved the planning and the going.  Sadly, I haven't gone anywhere for the last last couple years.  Florida in 2015 was the last time my feet touched the white sandy beaches.  Very sad!  Well, Lord willing, I'm hoping that will change this year.  I really need a get-away.  Nothing far or fancy (at least this time), but somewhere that allows me to hear the ocean; feel the sand and sea and swing in a hammock!

Here's to a future of good health; fun road-trips with the windows down and great music.  A girl can dream, right?

Just thinking out-loud.


Saturday, March 25, 2017

Pondering My Friday Night

Last night as I was sitting up in bed listening to my favorite tunes and playing a game of Hill Climb Racing , I was pondering something.  How is it that a Hippie Van can climb higher hills and bounce over rugged terrain and make it further than a Jeep?  Also, why do I think if I press harder on my Kindle screen, it will help the car go up the impossibly steep incline any easier?  And the biggest question I ponder is why do I say "I'm so sorry" out loud when the vehicle crashes and flips upside down?

While David Phelps was belting out "Victory In Jesus" through my headphones, I was experiencing level 7 using a scooter bike trying to drive across the Arctic terrain.  I couldn't help but notice that the poor guy driving the scooter had no coat, scarf or beanie.  He must be freezing!  Then again, why would anyone drive a scooter across the frozen Arctic terrain?  By the way, David Phelps new CD called Hymnal is really good.  That guy has a voice on him.  If you've ever had the pleasure of hearing him live, than you know what I'm talking about.

As you can see, I stayed up way too late last night listening to great songs and pondering the "why's and what-not's" of who designs these games.  I can't wait to get enough points so I can move to the roller coaster.  Now that looks amazing.  I'm a coaster lover.  That goes for both roller coasters and the coast...any coast.  North, South, East or West.  I have favorite beaches on any coast.  Back to the game...once I get the roller coaster, I can pick my mode of transportation/vehicle.  The scooter would be terrifying.  The motor home would be way too clunky.  The Mustang might be good or the motorcycle could be interesting.

Many of you right now are probably thinking I need more of a life!  You might be right, but I'm actually very content right now.  I don't smoke, drink or party hardy, so the more simple things in life make me pretty happy.  After a long work week, I enjoy picking up something for dinner that's different from the rest of the week.  Maybe Pei Wei's or Chipotle's.  I might stop at the store and get a container of Tillamook Sumptown Cold Brew Coffee ice cream.  When I get home, I'll set up my laptop and put my headphones on and listen to music while working on one of my stories, or play a couple online games when my brain cannot figure out what to write for the next chapter.  I also love having my drawing paper and colored pencils close by.  I'm always doodling.  Most of the time it turns out to be nothing but a mixture of different shades of colors and maybe a tree in the middle.  I like adding quotes from different people right in the middle of the object I've drawn.  Sometimes its lyrics from a song I'm listening to, other times its a scripture verse that keeps going over and over in my mind.  In the end, I've filled my heart with something positive and creative.  Yes, I may be a little frustrated with the police car that consistently runs out of gas too soon or the people in the back of the hippie van that don't seem to be wearing seat belts, but other than that, when I close the laptop, turn off the music, put the drawing stuff away and reach over to turn off my light, I take a moment to thank the Lord for the day I've had.  I let Him know how grateful I am for life, breath, health, home and family.  I remind Him every night that without Him, I'm nothing and with Him, I can do all things.  He's my protector, my provider and my person.  I can tell Him everything.  The good and the bad, the hopes and the fears.  When I lay my head on my pillow I know two things for certain.  He is perfect and He loves me even though I'm not.

So pondering the why's and how-comes of an online game is just for a few minutes.  It's fun, but it's not everything.  It's an hour or two where my mind can slip away from the daily grind.  The positive and encouraging music I listen to calms my soul.  And my Heavenly Father that I communicate with before I fall everything to me.

Just thinking out-loud...


Thursday, March 16, 2017

Spring has Sprung

I woke up this morning and I knew that Spring had arrived.  My head was pounding; my eyes were puffy and my radio stated that at 6:00 a.m. it was 75 degrees.  When I crawled in bed the night before, it was heavenly.  My windows were opened to the cool gentle breeze; my ceiling fan was on low; the occasional smell of orange blossoms would waft through the screen and all was well with the world.  At least my little world.  Within a few minutes, I was sneezing.  So much for the windows staying opened.  After about an hour of sneezing, I was ready to grab my clippers and go outside to my neighbors yard and cut something down.  I didn't know exactly what; however, at that point I was willing to trim anything.  I love Spring.  I do not like 90 degree Springs!  That is too close to Summer.  I'm not ready for Summer.  But, no matter how much I'm not ready for it, it will force me to be ready.  So, today I started taking down my sweaters; corderoy skirts, jackets, hoodies, scarves, boots (sniff sniff) and take out my flip flops, sandals, cotton skirts, short sleeved tops, straw hats and sun screen.  I used my a/c in my car for the first time today.  My a/c at home has been off and on for the past week.  When the sun goes down, I open the windows and doors and enjoy the short time I can before May shows up.  We'll be lucky to get through April without hitting 100, but one can dream right?

I'm keeping my thin hoodies out because when I go in a restaurant or coffee shop, I typically have frost bite by the time I leave.  In AZ once it hits 80 outside, every building that has a/c, cranks them down to 60 degrees.  I love hanging out in coffee shops, but only if I'm comfortably warm.  It's not unusual to see me in the Summer, sitting in a coffee shop with a scarf or hoodie on.  Thank goodness for big purses!  Between my laptop, my writing journal, reading material, my drawing pencils and tablet, my sweater, 3 pairs of glasses, Carmex, sunscreen and my phone, I LOVE my big purse/bag. A little painful for the back, but essential. Oh, don't forget the hat!  A must in the AZ sunshine.

Hannah's birthday (3/22) always marks off the beginning of Spring and Summer for me.  She turns 5 this year.  Hard to believe she starts Kindergarten in the Fall.  After that, I'll just have 1 grandchild left that's not in school yet.  Marley just turned 3, so we have a couple years to enjoy her "baby-hood".  My birthday shows up in April.  I'll be 58.  Wow...that's all I can say is Wow!  It sounds so much older than it really is.  Truthfully, I'm looking forward to this upcoming year.  I have a feeling the Lord has something wonderful in store for me.

Tana turns 16 in July...She is doing well in her classes.  Always has her nose in a book or drawing.  I love that girl and wish pray that God will lead her and guide her in every choice and decision she makes.  I believe in her and I just know that a good future is waiting.  Hunter is 18 and graduated early.  He got his diploma and is one happy kid.  I wanted him to wait and walk with his class, but he had enough credits and was very excited to get school behind him, so he went ahead and finished up in February.  As a young brand new adult, he has so many options and opportunities in front of him.  I love that young man and pray that he will make good choices for his life.

I start a new position at Liberty Mutual the end of April.  I'm excited and a little nervous.  It's a good change, but one I've put off for awhile.  I know the Lord will help me, so I'm making the leap.

Life is moving forward at an incredibly fast pace.  If I'm not careful I can get busy doing other things and miss the important things.  I don't want that to happen.  I want to be present and accounted for.

Life is filled with moments where we find ourselves at a crossroad.  We might be afraid, confused and unsure about what lies ahead.  The choice we make in those moments can define the rest of our days.  Typically, when faced with the unknown, most of us would rather turn around and go back to what's comfortable.  For me, I can no longer do that.  So here's to taking a leap of faith!

Just thinking out loud...

P. Torres

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Baking in December

Baking in December is different from any other month of the year.  It just is.  I can't explain it, but there is just something in the air that just sparkles with inspiration and causes a yearning to be in the kitchen rolling out cinnamon rolls and dropping cookie dough and getting out grandma's recipes and dusting the flour off from last year and trying to read the measurements that have faded on the card.  The smells of peppermint, cocoa, cinnamon and nutmeg just make you smile.  The aroma of yeast and the sound of the mixer all evoke memories of when I was little.  There truly isn't any other time of the year, other than November for Thanksgiving, that can kick start those feelings.  The food was always the biggest and best part of my memories for the holidays.  I love baking.  I bake all year long, primarily because I have 5 grandchildren.  But the real inspiration strikes me to be my very best during the Holidays.  Thanksgiving and Christmas.  The mood is just right. The stars are lined up.  My prep work is done ahead of time.  My sink is filled with hot sudsy water. My apron is on and my hair pulled back.  Christmas music is pouring out of my Amazon speaker and I'm ready.  It just feels good.  I hum as I pull the next sheet out of the oven.  I sing out loud when the mixer is blending the butter, vanilla and sugars into a creamy deliciousness.  When the last cookie is taken from the cookie sheet and placed on the wax paper, and the last mixing bowl is washed, I look over the work I did and smile.  Then I take a picture!  I can barely wait until they have cooled down enough to pack them into colorful tupperware containers and stack them neatly in layers.  I grab my keys and head to the car.  I am so excited to take them over to my kids and drop them off.  I love seeing their faces when they open the lid carefully and pull the paper back to take that first look.  They smile and say Wow!  That's enough for me.  I'm happy and content.  I'll give myself a few days to recover, and I'll choose a few more choice recipes and start again.  Yes, December is about many things.  Shopping, gifts, wrapping, planning trips, going to grandmas, etc...but one of my favorite things is the baking.  Each ingredient I put in the mixing bowl, I hope it brings a smile and a sigh to someone.  

Here are a couple pictures of the two recipes I did today.  I know 5 grandchildren and 4 adults that are going to have some yummy goodness tonight.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Conversations with a Five Year Old

Wednesday's are always such a joy.  It is my day to pick up my granddaughter, Madison, from school.  We have 3 glorious  hours to spend together, doing whatever we want.  We may stop at a diner to get a cheeseburger and fries, or Dairy Queen to get an ice cream cone.  After that, we'll head to the park and swing.  We love swinging.  We run (she run's and I do a brisk walk).  Sometimes we just take a book and sit under a tree and read.  Let me rephrase that...I try to read while she talks.  She can't help herself.  She's a conversationalist.  She gets that from her daddy.  Madison has always been precocious.  It must be that 1st born nature.  She is very aware of people.  Whether they are happy, sad, sick, tired, angry, etc...Nothing gets by her.  As an adult, I find myself totally mesmerized by this child.  She's hilarious; smart; witty; clever and so full of energy and determination.  I rarely ever hear her cry.  When she falls, she immediately pops up like a jack-in-the-box and says, "I'm ok!"  No one can make me laugh like Maddie can.  The other day she was telling me about the new letter they had learn in class.  W.  She wrote the letter for me and made the sound and gave me a few examples of words that started with "W".  I decided from then on, we were going to play a game whenever they learned a new letter.  At first we just took turns coming up with 1 word that started with that letter.  I learned in the first 10 minutes that this was way too easy for her.  So...I decided to change it up a little.

Now we had to take turns making a sentence that used only words that began with a "W".  She looked at me and said,
"Ok Nana, you first."
The challenge was on.  She's 5 years old, right?  So I decided to go easy on her.
"What were you whispering to Winifred?"
She looked at me and started laughing.  She informed me that I was hilarious.  I looked at her and said,
"Ok, smarty pants, it's your turn."
 She turned around and stared at the wall for about 10 seconds.  I figured she probably just lost interest and would ask if she could go draw a picture or something.  Instead she turned around with a big smile on her face and said
"Willy Wonka was a wacky warrior."
It was silent for about 3 seconds.  Then we both burt out laughing and we high fived each other.  She was amazing!  From that point on, we played the game for hours.  She's 5 and it didn't matter one iota that I came up with a sentence that said,
"William Wallace was the  wiliest warrior in the world,"
She would crack up laughing and say
"that's so funny Nana."
She doesn't know who William Wallace is from Adam, but she caught the reason why I used the name.  Obviously it was an amazing 3 hours.  The next week the letter was Q.  That was fun.
"The Queen used the quill to write a question for the quiz."
I know, I know...the sentences got longer and stranger as the hours progressed.  Bottom line though? It was a great way for her to learn the different sounds of the letters, and all of the unique and crazy words that can be imagined.  Did they make sense?  Are you kidding?  To most people, no.  To us? Absolutely!

As we were sitting across from each other sipping our drinks this afternoon, she wanted to know if her grandpa Mike had ever met her grandpa Josh.  I told her no, they had never had the opportunity to meet each other before her grandpa Josh went to heaven.  She quickly informed me that she believes when her grandpa Mike gets to heaven, that both her grandpa's will become best friends.  I advised her that I totally believed that.

Madison then quickly let me know that her grandpa Mike has no teeth.  As serious as a heart attack, she informed me not to worry though, because Grandpa Mike has "fake teeth" that he can "pop" in his mouth whenever he needs them.  I just sat back and thoroughly enjoyed myself.  The next question that came out of her sweet mouth was this.
"Nana, does Arizona have tornadoes?"
I tried to explain that we do not have tornadoes; but, sometimes we have micro-bursts.  Lots of wind, rain, lightning, etc... She just looked at me and said,
"so Arizona has little tornadoes?"
I said, yes, as opposed to big tornadoes that happen in places like Oklahoma and Kansas.  She wanted to know what happened to the people when a tornado came through.  I informed her that most places that have lots of tornadoes, typically have some sort of shelter under the ground where they go for safety.  I told her that they had food and water and sleeping bags and stayed inside until it was safe to come out.  She looked very solemn and advised me that she would not like living in a place that had tornadoes.
Just like that, her little mind was on to the next thought that entered her head:
"What was the first thing you said to daddy when he got married?"
Wow!  What?  I had to remind myself that she was a 5 year old.
"Well, I said congratulations!"
She smiled and looked at me and said,
"Nana, I thought you would have said, "Thank the Lord he finally married mama."
I looked at her trying my best to keep a straight face and said,
"That was the 2nd thing I said to him."
She giggled and threw her arms around me.

Maybe it's a first born thing, or maybe it's because she has 2 older siblings 15 and 17 years old, but she talks like an adult in many ways, and is way too concerned and worried about things that a 5 year old should not be worrying about.  I constantly pray that her little mind will stay protected from the harsh realities of this world for a few more years, at least.

I'm so grateful that she is smart and sensitive yet still loves to run through an open field and just laugh and yell at the top of her lungs. She adores her mom and dad and loves her little sister.  She wants to be a veterinarian when she grows up.  She's afraid of the ocean because that's where the sharks live.  (that one I fault her older sister who is a shark fanatic).  She loves Elsa from Frozen and has known every single word in the the song "Let It Go" since the movie first came out.  (I think she was 2).  She is such a joy to my life, and I cherish our days together.  I adore each of my 5 grandchildren equally; yet each of them have a unique and special relationship with me.  Madison makes me laugh and keeps me on my toes with words and wit.  She is generous with hugs and kisses and giving random compliments.  She makes me feel very special.  I pray that the bond between granddaughter and grandmother will forever be strong and true.

The mind of a 5 year old is filled with conversations that are true works of art.  My days are better because of them.

Just thinkin out loud...