About the day before the night before Christmas…and the perils of hiccups!

I had a post half-written (in my head) and was feeling cheery and ready to host a small Christmas Eve gathering in our home the next day. Add to that eager anticipation of a full family Christmas with the shared excitement of young children–the ones who say things like, “Santa is such a nice man. I wonder if he gets the toys free from stores?” Sophia and Karina do believe in Santa, but I’ve been told they aren’t as sure about the reindeer and apparently a workshop with elves is also a bit hard to swallow.

We can’t look back and say exactly when it was clear that Jay was sick. He had a little cough and felt miserable. He was running a low-grade fever. But it was the three days of almost non-stop hiccups that became the focus. Do you go to the doctor when you have hiccups 18 out of 24 hours?

And wouldn’t you feel sick and little flushed if you hadn’t slept a full night in three days?

With much encouragement from our nurse daughter, Jay did see his doctor on Tuesday the 23rd,  and although the hiccups were a mystery to him, too, antibiotics were prescribed for a mild case of pneumonia, with simple instructions to just rest. And then the day just didn’t improve. By evening the fever was climbing, and I probably wouldn’t have encouraged a trip to the emergency room, but Aimee was beginning to get nervous about her dad’s appearance. Something wasn’t right.

And off we went…

As it turned midnight and the 23rd became the 24th, I had a flashback. December 24, 1973 I walked into a similar hospital emergency entrance to give birth to our first child. The attendant greeting me at the entrance took note of the date and said, “There’s a manger down the hall.” That was the first of many Christmas references, with Aimee born later that day and placed in a little Christmas stocking

Present day, and aren’t we glad for antibiotics? Jay was released early this morning and home in time to see his granddaughters open their presents. And sometime late yesterday afternoon those crazy hiccups finally stopped. Fingers crossed!

In all the excitement I missed the round of Christmas greetings I’d intended to share, but I have one left to give.

Earlier this week Sophia noticed one of my Spotify playlists and asked me to explain “Contemporary Christmas.” Sophia doesn’t just ask questions; she loves discussion. So that’s what we did.

The playlist included songs from current entertainment artists, but at seven, she still doesn’t know many of them by name. In an attempt to tell her what was NOT particularly contemporary, I mentioned Bing Crosby. She said she knew who he was–and by the way, he was dead. Hmmmm. Well, that would mean he wasn’t on the contemporary list. But he would have been on MY contemporary list at one time.

So we took our time talking about how the word contemporary has multiple meanings. We could be talking about “belonging to or occurring in the present” or referring to “a person or thing living or existing at the same time as another.”

At the end of an invigorating discussion Sophia turned to me with a knowing expression and summed it up. “Yeah. I understand. It’s not contemporary if the song goes all the way back to the old times, like the 70’s.”

I hope she will always love our discussions, and not be too thrown off by how hard I laugh.

Well, I go all the way back to the 70’s–at least! And I have a favorite from that era I pull out every year at this time. The artists blur the lines of contemporary. Bing Crosby wasn’t exactly my contemporary, but he’s timeless. Pairing his voice with a very 1970’s contemporary artist, David Bowie–sheer genius.

To read an interesting back story on the awkward meeting of the pair, read HERE.   And if you would enjoy going “all the way back to the 70’s” you might enjoy recalling Bing meeting Bowie at the door. Like I said, an unlikely pairing.

It’s never too late to wish peace and joy in the new year. And that’s my personal wish for each one of you. The world is made up of all sorts of unique and unlikely pairings. I’m hopeful that maybe we’ll take a bigger step towards all getting along. Peace.




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To Live Forever Tour Stop: Ross Barnett Reservoir


Here’s an opportunity for you to capture the flavor of author Andra Watkins’ walk along the 444-mile Natchez Trace and to see how the walk complements her book,”To Live Forever: An Afterlife Journey of Meriwether Lewis. Enjoy the brief video clip and her answer to reader question eleven.

Originally posted on The Accidental Cootchie Mama:

When Em and Merry flee a certain mode of transportation in the rain, they find themselves on the shores of the Ross Barnett Reservoir. 33,000 acres of water. A full eight miles of Natchez Trace along its banks.

I was lucky enough to walk its length in daylight. No rain. Majestic herons flew along its shoreline, while geese lounged on one bank. I asked several folks if they had any luck with fishing, and I marveled at power boats that disappeared on the horizon.

While Em and Merry skirt the lake in record time, it took me several hours to walk its length. I listened to their voices splash with the waves. And I breathed deep. I even paused to survey all that glorious water.

I wasn’t running from anyone. Maybe that’s why walking The Rez was one of my most peaceful days on the Natchez Trace.

Click here…

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Zena takes her first vacation and Darwin is left in charge. There’s a first for everything.

Have you heard of snowbird season? Typically a snowbird is a retiree, or anyone with a schedule flexible enough to allow an escape from harsh winter weather by adopting a temporary home in a warmer climate.

In Southern California the snowbirds usually adopt Palm Springs. If you live in one of the coldest parts of the country right now, 90° F in February probably sounds unbelievable.

I really do wish I could at least temporarily transfer some of the warm and dry Southern California conditions to blanket those of you in the extreme cold right now. Between multi-state storm-related power outages and the flooding and ferocious winds in Southern England I think I had best just make peace with drought conditions.

I’ll kick that problem down the road and be grateful I’m not freezing.

After this weekend perhaps I’ll share just the right photos to entice you to come and visit next winter.

Cameras-in-hand, we are headed north to unwind in a beautiful part of our state. Only a couple of hours up the road, but a world away, we will be enjoying ourselves in the gorgeous Santa Barbara County wine country.

It’s one of those long Presidential holiday weekends, and not only was I able to arrange my schedule for some welcome rest and relaxation, but two little girls are also on holiday.  Recent family events have prevented me from fulfilling my time-with-granddaughters-quota, and I plan to make up for that deficit.

One week ago I wasn’t certain we would be able to follow through with our plans.

Thank you very much for the many lovely messages of concern for my father’s recovery. He is doing so well that I feel comfortable leaving town for a few days while he safely continues his physical therapy.

About the time my mother assumes mastery of their many electronic devices, each with unique idiosyncrasies, dad should be home to assume his supervisory role.

So I’m free to move forward, eager for long walks with spacious views and hopefully a beautiful sunset or two.


I think it’s likely we will be entirely off the information highway for the long weekend. Truly unplugged? I don’t remember the last time I was fully disconnected from the Internet. I wonder how that will feel?


Oh, and did I mention we will be taking Zena with us?


She doesn’t look like she really needs a vacation, does she? She’s a very smart dog, so I think she’s wisely resting up for the weekend adventure.

On our way up the coast we’ll stop in Santa Barbara so she can get her toes wet with her good buddy, Obi at the only off-leash dog beach in the area. I do have some concerns about this, thinking specifically of the car interior, but I’m assured by my son that it will be wet and smelly fun.


I think Jay will have to drive because as soon as we reach the coast I won’t be able to take my eyes off the ocean.

I will miss my time visiting with each of you, but I will come home with lots of stories, and be refreshed and eager to share them.

In case you were wondering, Darwin will be left behind to take care of things at home. He is very independent and at the moment he isn’t eating much at all. I think he’s a bit confused by the current weather fluctuations.

I’m sure he won’t miss us very much. And how much trouble can he really get into over just one weekend?


Please don’t answer that. I’m trying to stay positive.

Oh, and did I tell you that the property brochure mentioned goats?  Maybe I’ll come home with a new pet.