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What a week this has been! Tuesday was my daughter’s birthday. Very late on Monday, she texted saying she and her boyfriend were thinking of a spur of the moment trip to the coast if I could stay with the boys. I agreed but warned her that we had snow in the forecast and she should research the weather and road conditions before decided to actually do it. She said she would. Famous last words.

I really didn’t think they would go but I made a mental list of things I needed to pack in case they did go. It was only one overnight so I didn’t need much and I’m a short walk away so I could grab the boys and walk home for whatever I forgot. Or we could drive but the boys love walking here and back so I figured we could do that. Then she said yes, they were going and leaving in just a couple of hours. I hadn’t packed because I didn’t think they’d go. So I rushed and drove over there thinking I would take the boys out to the Dollar Tree to get a few craft supplies besides the ones I took with me. They left and about twenty minutes later, she texted saying it was snowing lightly and that I should take the chance to get out to the store if I needed anything before it began to snow here. I looked out the window and realized that it was too late. In the twenty minutes since they had left, it had begun to snow and there was already almost an inch out there and the snow was coming fast and heavily and the wind was blowing. Spencer convinced me to get his snow clothes on and take him out on the driveway. Of course, he didn’t stop at the driveway and he made me follow him, trying to catch up with him. He was fast, even in the snow.

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It snowed all night long. Heavily. And it snowed most of the day on Wednesday. And the wind blew. Before long, the news was reporting that it was a record snowfall for Portland. Downtown Portland, which gets an average of less than one day of snow per year and that snow is trace amounts got over a foot of snow! Up here, in the foothills, we usually get more than downtown but we got less this time, about seven inches outside my door. My youngest daughter lives about ten miles away and she measured thirteen inches out in her yard. So yeah, we got a lot of snow. On Wednesday afternoon, the boys and I walked to my house so I could get a change of clothes because Tina and Chris were not able to get home that day because of the weather. It was a great excuse for them to play in the snow. There were lots of other kids out playing in it, too. While they played in the front year, I ran in and filled a tote bag with things I needed and some treats for the boys. When it was time to make the walk home (I didn’t want them staying out in the cold too long and although the walk is only about a half mile, because of the depth of the snow, it would take us about ten minutes or more) we put the tote bag in a little plastic snow disk that I pulled behind me all the way home.

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That was Wednesday. Today is Sunday. The snow is still all here. We haven’t been above freezing since then so it’s sill all here. When I tried to drive my car home on Thursday, I couldn’t get it to start. Apparently, the cold zapped my battery. We eventually got it going and I was able to get home driving along the tracks of other cars but when I got to my driveway, I couldn’t get in so Chris had to come and shovel my driveway so I could get in.

I haven’t left home since then. Not just because of the snow. You might remember that I have been having horrible back pain. My back finally gave out on me on Friday when I tried to get out of bed. After two days of it hurting so much that I couldn’t walk without my cane and even at that it would take me very literally eleven minutes to get to the bathroom, which is only less than fifteen feet away from my couch, I took to the Internet to see if I could diagnose my problem. I did. By then, the pain was not along my entire back. It was just on my left side and it was way low and radiating down my leg. I discovered that it is, most likely, sciatica. Since then I have been applying heat, taking leftover pain pills a couple of times a day (long enough so that I can get a little sleep which I can’t do without the pain pills) and trying to get through the pain. It is quite literally a pain in the butt! I’ve tried to write this post since Friday but haven’t been able to get in a position where I could open the laptop and type without severe pain. Today, however, I woke up with a little less pain! There is still a lot of weakness so I’m still having to rely on my cane to get around inside the house…both for walking and for grabbing things closer to me. I still cannot bend over or reach up without pain but I am not going to complain because, for now, it’s so much better! I’m hoping it will continue to be better so that I can walk around, inside because there is still seven inches of snow outside! Walking is supposed to help work the muscle that is causing the pain.

Now we are looking forward to a warm up in temperature AND heavy rain. That means the snow will melt and we will, most likely, have flooding. We haven’t flooded here where I live in the past and I am hoping that we don’t flood here now. The last time we had this much (and even more) snow was in 2008 and we didn’t flood, although the mobile home park just a quarter of a mile away from here did flood. Crossing fingers. Cross your for me, too, pleas.

I haven’t been able to read this week. I have watched TV, well DVDs. I pulled out my DVD copies of an old show that I really used to love. It’s called Once And Again. It’s a late 90’s ABC show about two divorced parents who meet at school while dropping off their kids and end up in a relationship, with all the problems caused by life, kids, and exes.  I’m hoping to maybe read today, after reading blogs. If the pain stays away, I can. If I don’t come around and read your blog, I apologize in advance. That probably will mean that the pain has returned.

What about you? What have you done this week? Has the weather effected you? What has been on your TV? Reading list? Please tell.

 

#WeekendCoffeeShare is a weekly blog link-up hosted by Diana at Part Time Monster. Please come over and check it out. We’re a friendly bunch and welcome you!

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Silent Sunday 

Saturday Once More

If we were having coffee today, we’d be snuggled inside my house if you could get here. The roads are in bad shape and everyone is being discouraged from leaving their home. Yup, it’s snowing again. It’s late afternoon and I haven’t done anything but sit by the window watching the snow and offered my grandson food and drink. He just left so now I am having a warm egg nog, nothing “good” in it.

Last night my six year old grandson, Anderson, came over for another Nana and Anderson special night. We watched the third Harry Potter movie (Prisoner Of Azkiban), ate junk food, drank soda, and stayed up late, well beyond late. He loves doing that, just him and me. He spent the night and slept in. I was up earlier, watching the snow and drinking my first three cups of coffee. When he got up, he came to the living room, snuggled up on the couch with my Kindle tablet, and played Minecraft Pocket Edition until his dad and his little brother walked over here in the snow to get him, three hours later!

As a follow up to last week…I found it! Now if you didn’t read last week, you will have to! Hee hee! Also, I will say that I am enjoying tarot readings. I still need a lot of clients but I did get a couple more this week. If you know anyone, send them my way!

I have spent a lot of time trying to figure out how I am going to pay the rent beyond April. I haven’t figured it out yet. A couple of nights ago I stayed up for hours and hours researching and making a list of simple, cheap, crafts I can make that are unique enough that I could sell them at craft fairs or weekly farmers markets in the area. I think I have at least five I can do with little investment of money because they use stuff I already have (wine corks, wine bottles, bottle caps, etc.). The only problem now is that there aren’t any of those sales opportunities until April at the earliest!

I’m trying to keep my spirits up. Some days it is more difficult than others. Yesterday, my dad would have been 87. And today is the anniversary of the death of a very close friend and although she died in 1968, it’s still tragic, partly because it was the first time I had someone close to me die. I was twelve years old.

Okay, your turn! What are you reading? What is the weather like in your neck of the woods? What was the last movie you stayed up late watching? Please do tell!

#WeekendCoffeeShare is a weekly blog link up hosted by Diana at Part Time Monster. Take a look at all the other coffee shares. Come join us!

108

Yesterday I mentioned that I am going to write a minimum of 100 fiction words each day this month in an effort to get back to fiction writing. Here’s the first installment, written late night on January 1. I won’t always share them but, as it’s the beginning one, I’m sharing this one. It’s 108 words so it fits the minimum.

 

She stood above the desk staring at the blank piece of paper. It was at an angle, as if someone had been about to write something. Who could it have been and to whom was this bit of writing for? What was going to be written? Was it business or was it personal and did it have any connection to her job here? Like any good detective, she was filled with more questions than answers. She took one last look at the desk and everything on it before returning to the adjoining office where the body lay waiting for the CSI team to finish their work.

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The Fool is about to set off on a new adventure. He is innocently trusting the world around him as he takes the leap of faith. A perfect card to start a new year!

If we were having coffee today, January 1, 2017, we would be at my house. It’s too cold to go out and as I sit here typing, it is snowing. It isn’t expected to be much or stick at all. We’re at about 34 degrees. What is really keeping me close to home, in fact close to bed, is my back. For the past three days the pain has been excruciating. I didn’t re-injure myself so I don’t really know what made it hurt so much. I am so stiff I can barely move. Sitting up is difficult and making my way from the bed to the kitchen is quite a challenge. Today it is slightly better and I am hoping that moving around slowly and carefully will not cause more pain. Cross your fingers for me.

One of the reasons I really want to get moving is that I have been re-focusing my energy and time on Tarot. I offered a special in my Tarot group for a $17 new years reading. I got some takers and I have been enjoying doing those readings. I even got to help a fellow blogger by doing readings for a couple of her fictional characters! Those were fun and I think she is finding a lot to work with as a result! And I am happy because the money has gotten me much closer to being able to pay my light bill (scheduled for disconnect later this week)! I am about two more readings away from having the money to pay the bill.

It has been a challenging couple of weeks. I am missing an envelope with the cash to pay my rent for the next four months. I know it’s here in the house but I can’t remember the safe place I put it. I have been looking high and low and I think that might actually have something to do with my back pain. I’ve been climbing the step ladder and looking under furniture and moving boxes, all to no avail and all contributing to the back pain. And stress. That’s why I’ve been quiet here. I can’t seem to concentrate on anything but finding that envelope. I am taking the day off to focus on other things. I have until the 5th and if I absolutely have to ask, my mom has agreed to lend me the $600 and she can send it Western Union so I can have it the same day. I hate to do that but I don’t have much of a choice if I can’t find the envelope by then. I’m hoping a day of rest from looking for it will let me see things differently tomorrow and I will be able to find it.

So aside from my Tarot and trying to find copy editing and proof reading clients, I am going to attempt to write at least 100 words of fiction each day. That doesn’t sound like a lot but some days are so challenging that it will be difficult to do even that 100!

What are you all up to? What are you focusing on this year?

#WeekendCoffeeShare is a weekly blog link up hosted by Diana at Part Time Monster. Come on over and take a look. We’re all friendly and at last look, none of us bites!

December 25, 1955

[NOTE: This is the story about the night I was born. The words the mother speaks to the baby at the end are the words I spoke to my daughters at their births. And yes, my parents really are named María and José, although they both use their middle names because they feel their names are too common. I have heard the story over and over again over the past 60 years. My mother swears it was 11:52 PM but my birth certificate says I was born at 11:19 PM. In any case, I was my mom’s Christmas baby!]

María lay in bed exhausted, yet unable to sleep. She’d had an endless day and had just finished putting out the gifts for her four children. Tomorrow would be filled with joy and much activity. The kids were sure to waken by seven, anxious to open their gifts and play with their new toys. There would be lots of cooking to do, too.

Just a week ago things had looked quite bleak. They didn’t have much money and her heart had ached at the thought of disappointing her children on Christmas. Somehow, José, her husband, had managed to work a few days and had brought her enough money for groceries and a couple of modest gifts for each of the children. They had even gotten a small tree to decorate.

He had come through and María appreciated it. It allowed her to push back the memories of all the times he’d come home late, drunk, and smelling of dime store cologne.

María thought about her life. They lived in a tiny two room house with no heat and no indoor bathroom. They were far from town. The car was always either broken or out of gas. Her husband worked in the fields during the season and at odd jobs in the winter. Her children never had new clothes. She had to accept old clothes from her neighbors and her comadre’s. María’s beautiful little girl had to wear boys’ clothes. Her boys needed shoes that didn’t fall off their feet when they ran so they wouldn’t fall and get hurt. She was very familiar with the second-hand stores where José took her to shop when the boxes of clothes from her comadre didn’t fill all of their needs.

She had given birth four times in five years and was now nine months pregnant with their fifth child. She wondered how many more times she’d give birth before José tired of her and left her alone or ended up dead on the highway on his way home from the cantina he always managed to visit, even when he said they could afford nothing else.

Sometimes things were alright. José could be thoughtful and attentive if he wanted to be. He loved playing with his children. He even helped María with the housework when he wasn’t working. He had taught María how to cook when they had married. José was a hard worker and always managed to provide his family with what they needed.

María loved her children. Sometimes they were all that kept her going. They needed her. They loved her. She loved to see their happy faces and feel their sticky kisses and tight hugs. She liked being able to console them when they were hurt and crying.

María thought about the baby inside of her that made it impossible for her to find a comfortable position. She hoped this one would be another girl. When her first child had been born, she had wished for a girl, only to get a boy. She had cried but soon she loved him so much that she had wished for sons when she had become pregnant for the second, third, and fourth times. When God gave her a daughter for her fourth child, she had cried with disappointment, only to grow to love her so quickly that now her wish for a second daughter made her smile as she rubbed her swollen belly.

She wondered what the future had to offer this innocent child. María feared that perhaps it was a sin to bring children into the world when she and José had so little to offer them. Her exhaustion finally gave way to sleep, as the infant inside of her womb settled down also.

The next morning the children woke their parents asking eagerly if they could go open their gifts. They were happy with what Santo Clos had brought them. They were not used to getting toys or new clothes. The boys had each gotten gun sets–belts, holsters, guns, and even tin badges. José’s boss had given him a small cowboy hat for one of the boys and María had found a couple of bandanas at the segunda. They had also managed to get their hands on three tricycles for the boys. José had worked on them late at night, fixing and painting them to look like new.

Their little daughter was busy playing with her life-like baby doll that had moving eyes, hair, and drank from a bottle. María’s comadre had sewn a small brown bear for her. The last trip they had made to the segunda had provided them with toy dishes for the little girl and a warm coat of red velvet.

After opening the gifts, the children had breakfast. Their mother had fixed huevos con chorizo and fresh tortillas. While she cleaned up after breakfast, María turned on the radio. She tuned to her favorite station. The announcer was excitedly bragging about how his wife had given birth to a baby daughter shortly before midnight on Christmas Eve. She thought to herself how wonderful it would be to give birth on Christmas day!

When she finished with the dishes, she sat by the tree to watch the children at play. It was cold and damp outside so they had to stay indoors. María looked at the tree. They had only a few glass ornaments on it. They were painted shiny, bright colors with dainty designs that looked and felt like fuzzy snowflakes. María could see her reflection in them. She had cut a silver star out of an old pie plate. The plain, simple star now stood guard on top of the little tree. María hoped that maybe next year they would be able to get some colored electric lights like her comadre had on her tree.

All day she waited for the pains to begin. She couldn’t believe how crazy it was that she was actually looking forward to the pains that she had dreaded so much the other times. She felt that there was something special about this child and certainly it was God’s blessing to have a baby born on Christmas day and so she was almost eager to feel the pain that would threaten to tear her apart from the inside out. She dozed for a while, as the children played and she listened to the gentle rain falling outside.

Later that afternoon María was wakened by the thunder outside, crackling loudly. It had begun to rain violently. The house was dark. The wind was deafening as it threatened to blow the tiny house away. The rain fell as if being poured directly over them from a pitcher. The sky had darkened prematurely.

The children were scared. They gathered near their mother. The radio announcer reported that many roads had been closed and that the reservoir was threatening to overflow. At this, María turned down the volume and went into the bedroom to tell José. She was frightened. Their house was just about a half mile from the reservoir. If it overflowed, their small house would be washed away. It was time to load up the car and get as far away as they could. They had friends in town. Their compadres were sure to let them stay for a night or two.

José came into the room and listened briefly to the radio reports. He told her to gather their things and get the kids into the car. They would go into town for the night. When they were all in the car, José could not get it started. He got out and tried everything he knew to try to get the old car going. Nothing worked.

The children, sensing danger, cried softly and obeyed every order given them by their parents. They seemed to know instinctively that their cooperation was an absolute necessity. Even the youngest acted like an angel.

After some time of futilely trying to start the car, José began walking the half mile to the nearest neighbors to get help. When he arrived, there was no one there. He continued to walk toward the road to look for help for his family. It was very difficult to walk against the oppressive rain and wind which seemed to be concentrating their joint efforts on keeping him from reaching the highway.

As José neared the main highway, he could make out flashing lights. He quickened his step and waved his arms, even though he knew they couldn’t see him. It was about nine o’clock and the night was black, except for the lights that flashed from the highway. Finally, as José reached the road, a Highway Patrolman spotted him.

“What are you doing out here? It’s very dangerous. We’ve evacuated the place and have road blocks to keep people out of the area. How did you get back into the restricted area?” asked the Patrolman.

“I live back there. No one evacuated us. We heard the reports on the radio and tried to get out but our car won’t start. My family is stuck back there. We need help,” answered José.

“Your family? We thought we had everyone out of there. How many people are back there? How far? Where exactly are they? Are there any others still back in there, besides your family?” quizzed the Patrolman rapidly.

“It’s about three miles back. Right up against the dam. My wife and four kids are out there. I didn’t see anyone else on my way out here,” explained José.

The Patrolman sent two cars back to get the family and some of their belongings. José rode along in the lead car to show them the way.

When they got to the house, they found the car empty. Inside the house, the only light was the flicker of a candle. When they entered, they found María in hard labor, the children gathered around her with wide, frightened eyes.

One of the Patrolmen took a single look at thescene and started to give orders. “Officer Taylor, help me get this woman into my car. I’ll take her directly to County Hospital. You can stay here with this man and help him get the children to safety, then you can bring him to County.”

They quickly and carefully carried María into the car and rushed inside the house to get the kids without waiting for the first car to drive away.

An hour later, José rushed into the Obstetrics Ward at County Hospital to ask about his wife. “She’s in labor. She’s not quite ready to deliver. You can wait downstairs. I’ll call down when there’s any word,” instructed the pretty nurse with a sympathetic smile on her face.

In the Delivery Room, María gasped for air. “Please Doctor, you have to help me deliver my baby now. It’s almost midnight. My baby has to be born before midnight. Please help my baby come now. What time is it? What time is it?”

“It’s about 11:30 María. Don’t be in such a hurry. This baby will come when it’s ready. I can’t do anything about it. Relax. It’s almost here. On the next contraction, push as hard as you can!” the young intern smiled at María reassuringly.

After pushing through three or four more contractions, María felt the baby being born. She heard the strong crying. The doctor gladly announced “It’s a girl, María! You have a beautiful, healthy baby girl!”

“What time is it?” asked María. “Did I make it? Is she a Christmas baby?”

“It’s 11:52. You made it! You have a Christmas baby! Congratulations, María.” The intern smiled as he continued to examine both mother and baby. “Why was it so important to have a Christmas baby anyway, María?”

“Because this baby is special. She is my gift to the world. She’s going to be a very special person,” beamed María as she put her arms out to take her baby.

Later, when she was in the ward, after José had come in to see her and the 5 pound little girl María held in her arms, María spoke to her daughter with complete adoration: “You are my hope for the future. You are a gift. A gift to me…to our family…a gift to all the world. You will bring good things into this world. I know you will be a special daughter. You bring me hope that out of the darkness of my life, something beautiful will come. Joyful, beautiful, and wonderful things will follow you wherever you go and everyone you touch will be blessed with your joy. You are my joy today, tomorrow, and always.”

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Just me and my mom, around May,1956.

If we were having coffee on this Christmas Eve, we would be in Seattle! The weather is much better than when I drove up here yesterday. That was a stressful drive in heavy rain and for a short 50 or so miles, heavy snow! But I’m here!

I am enjoying knowing that my daughter and her family are safe about 40 miles from here with her in-laws. I won’t see them tomorrow. I won’t see them until they go home, probably Tuesday. My other daughter has texted that she’s an hour away. Then I’m here with my son and his family, including 7 month old Mati who is so different now than he was last month when I came up for Thanksgiving! It is tough to believe that he wasn’t with us last year, he’s become so much a part of our lives!

It will be a low-key Christmas. I don’t have to do much but enjoy it and play with the baby! I couldn’t ask for much more than that!

How about you? Where are you? Is all your holiday planning done, leaving you to just mellow out and enjoy? I certainly hope so.

Have a wonderful Christmas and Hanukkah! Enjoy family and friends and feasting! I’ll be back tomorrow with the story of the night I was born, many Christmasses ago.

I will leave you with links so a couple of favorite Christmas stories from the past:

Stille Nacht

Here Comes Santa Claus

#WeekendCoffeeShare is a weekly blog link up hosted by Diana at Part Time Monster Blog. Come check it out!