Sunday, December 25, 2005

Dec. 25: Mom's perfect gift

My siblings and I get together at my mom's on Christmas Eve and then after, I always bring Mom home with me.

I love Christmas morning at my home. It's always the same - sweet and simple. The children awaken early (too early) and finally, somewhere around 6 a.m., I manage to be coaxed out of bed (to the smell of coffee) to start the gift-opening rituals.

But Christmas is more than presents at our home. There is so much love and laughter, that one can't help but smile and feel good. After the presents, I always make a big breakfast and then the children settle in to enjoy their gifts while I read (I always get a book) or watch a movie - and we just relax.

I don't go anywhere special - we don't do anything out of the ordinary - it's just a sweet and simple day. My children each received a gift that they really loved and seeing them so happy was enough to make my Christmas special.

But this year, my mom received a special gift. She loved it so much that I wanted to share the story with you.

Every year, my brothers and sisters (there are 10 of us) wonder what to give her, but if they would only listen to her - they would know.

First - my mom is elderly - in her 80s. She grew up in Southern California and often told my daughters stories about the swallows returning to San Juan Capistrano (where she lived as a little girl) every year on March 19. I heard my daughters asking her questions and she got misty-eyed and mentioned she had not seen the swallows since she was 12 years old. I knew instantly what I would get her.

I bought her a nice children's picture book - a story about the Swallows of San Juan Capistrano. As she opened her gift, my daughters played "When the Swallows come back" (Gene Autry) and my mom looked at me and then at the book - strangely -- until an envelope fell out. Inside the envelope, I placed a brochure from San Juan Capistrano's chamber of commerce and a copy for hotel accomodations on March 18-20; and a certificate saying that I would take her to San Juan Capistrano to see the Swallows return.

She cried and hugged me. Nothing else mattered at that moment.
To my mom - who has everything - this was the perfect gift.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Dec. 23: Merry Christmas

Jay Leno (host of The Tonight Show) said we should call Jesus the "Holiday Infant."
I know he meant it as a joke but one thing is not funny -- it is getting ridiculous, the way people are so preoccupied with being politically correct. Is it Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays?
With that in mind, I just want to stand and say that I don't care what they all say:

Merry Christmas to one and all -- and may you all have a Blessed 2006.

It has been so long since I've posted anything here. I get so busy on my other favorite sites (AW boards - where I average about 20 posts a day) and I tend to neglect this new site.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Dec. 5: Reading & Writing - 15 things about me

Thanks to Lady of Prose, I have been tagged and now need to write 15 things about books and/or reading. Thanks Lady.

Actually, this sounds like fun. I will combine it with chronological events of my growing-up days and it will be fun to reminisce. I suppose it is about books, reading and WRITING, but to me all three go hand in hand.

15 Book-Reading-&-Writing Facts about Me

  1. Ever since I can remember, I have loved books. One of my favorite pastimes was spending the day at either the local library or at the bookstore. I love the Dr. Ford series (Randy Wayne White) especially Captiva. Other favorite books are To Kill a Mockingbird and The Bridges of Madison County.
  2. I don't know at what I age I started to read but I do know that by age 4, I was reading out loud to my Dad. I remember the day I was enrolled in kindergarten at Olive Street School and the teacher being impressed that I could read so well.
  3. By age 8, I was reading Readers Digest monthly to my blind father. It was one of his favorite magazines and I couldn't wait each month for it to arrive in the mail so that I could read it to him. My father subscribed to the magazine in print and in Braille. Sometimes he read and I'd follow along or I'd read and he'd just listen. Some of my favorite memories are of us reading on the porch or in the car on rainy days. We both loved the sound of rain.
  4. In fourth grade I won first-place at Olive Street School. I had entered a poetry contest and it was read in front of several classes in the cafeteria. A boy in my class (the class clown, no less) ran to me and in front of everyone, got down on one knee, clasped his hands and said: "That's the most beautiful poem I've ever heard. Please say you'll marry me and make me a happy man." I was so shy, I just blushed and sat there embarrassed by the scene, while Michael Brown was scolded by the teacher and asked to return to his seat.
  5. In 7th grade, I suddenly discovered the Porterville Public Library. It's not that I had never been there, but prior to this I was never allowed to go out on my own. I couldn't wait for Fridays. I'd leave Bartlett Jr. High and my best friend Liz and I would walk to the library. I'd stay there until my dad and brother picked me up on their way home from work. It was 1970 and I read every Nancy Drew book on the shelf. I started with No.1 and was determined to go through them in order but soon found myself skipping around. I was reading three books a week. (always one Nancy book a week, but occasionally two, and always one other book) Once I picked a book up, I could not put it down. I knew then that someday I'd like to be a writer.
  6. I was in love with Donny Osmond and during the summer of 1971 I entered an essay contest, writing about my family. The best selection won a trip to Salt Lake City to meet Donny Osmond. I wanted to meet him. I did not win but I did win an honorable mention, which was great considering the thousands of submissions the magazine received. It inspired me to write a short story about Donny (fiction) and my sisters fell in love with it. I'd write a chapter a night.
  7. By 10th grade I had read about 500 books (I actually kept track of them in a binder.) I can't say I had any real favorites. It was not one or two authors I read, it was a little of everything. If I was bored, I'd pick up an encyclopedia or almanac and get lost in it for hours.
  8. In 11th grade, I read the Red Badge of Courage - which I really loved. And it was this same year that a teacher encouraged me to write. He had given us an assignment - The South wins the Civil War. I did more than just write the typical diary everyone else seemed to be writing. I researched everything I could find on the Civil war and -- keeping the dates intact -- changed the outcome of some of the battles. The emancipation proclamation became the exmancipation proclamation and President Lincoln was still assassinated in my story. But Mr. Renwick was so impressed, he called me aside to ask me about my writing.
  9. At his encouragement, I enrolled in Creative Writing, a course offered across town, and decided that a career in writing was for me. But alas, I was too shy to bring it up to my counselors and begin to feel that I could never do it. By this time my father had been diagnosed with cancer and he decided to make a dream come true and flew the family to Guadalajara to spend two weeks doing nothing but roaming the pretty countryside, listening to mariachi music in the plaza daily and relaxing. We knew no one in that city, we just relaxed every day. We talked a lot and read a lot and every day I'd write at the plaza. I have one large binder of writing that I still treasure. It has so much information about my dad that I will forever be thankful for those two weeks.
  10. I entered my Senior year in high school and lost my father shortly after. But the love for reading and writing he instilled in me will forever live in my heart. Shortly after graduation, I discovered Danielle Steel books. Something in the way Danielle wrote, made me want to pick up every book she's ever written.
  11. I like Steel's books but I can't say she's my absolute favorite writer. I like too many to pick a favorite. I started collecting other books as well and before I knew it, I had a library in my home of more than 2,000 books of almost every genre.
  12. I love picking up books and rarely pick up only one. I love spending Friday nights at Borders and do so about twice a month. I love to hit their bargain-books section. I have found some great bargains there and usually come home with at least three or four new books. Many of these are coffee-table books, like the Grand Canyon book I picked up last week. I also love to scan the Dollar Store for books. I have found some great hard-cover books with beautiful jackets. I've picked up The Monica Lewinsky Story, The Curse of the Kennedy's, Stephen King's On Writing, Jack Higgins, and one of my favorites, 01-01-00 by R.J. Pineiro - set in my favorite place, the Yucatan, the story is of an unstoppable virus triggering synchronized disaster through the world's computers on the eve of the millennium.
  13. If only It Were True (Marc Levy) is another book I picked up from the Dollar Store and read about three years ago and suddenly this year, it was made into a movie staring Reece Witherspoon "Just like Heaven." The movies are never as good as the books.
  14. The latest books I've read were The DaVinci Code, which I read in three days and three nights. I loved that book and absolutely could not put it down. I read Danielle's latest book Toxic Bachelors over the Thanksgiving weekend (actually in two days.) I am now concentrating on finishing my novel "September Skies" and not starting another book. But I know I'll read more soon, I can't stay away from books.
  15. I'm looking forward to reading The Pacific Between by Ray Wong. (release date: February 2006)