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Wednesday, June 24, 2015

And the Arizona Trip Memories continue...

It was really great to be able to spend so much time in Arizona on our recent trip. Usually we head there on a Friday and come back on a Sunday. This time my sister Lisa and I took time off on Thursday, Friday and Monday. So we left on Thursday and came back on Monday which gave us Friday, Saturday and Sunday for family fun!

Here's the route we took. This estimates that it would take 9 hours and 53 minutes, but because we don't want to tire our mom out too much we stop often for her to walk around and stretch her legs. We stop often for snacks and we have a traditional stop in Needles for Dairy Queen Ice Cream!

I know this is not the fastest route, but this is the route my mom would take with my dad when they would visit Arizona and so it's the route she's familiar with and she relives memories of travelling this way with my it may take a little more time, but it's worth it to make mom happy. 

We always make a stop in Parker, Arizona to visit my cousin Mary Lou and this trip was no different. We stopped and stretched our legs. Mary Lou had made us a delicious meal and her famous homemade rolls. She's a fabulous cook and we loved spending time with her. 

We finally arrived in Eloy at around 8 pm. We had left Bakersfield around 6am even though mom wanted to leave at 4am...she was chomping at the bit to get to Arizona! It was a very long day. We grabbed a bite to eat with Tia Ninfa at Dennys and then our cousins Stella and Norrie came by Tia Ninfa's house and we drank a margarita together to unwind and then we called it a day.

The next morning mom was very anxious to go visit her sister Maria in the nursing home where she lives. We had coffee and some sweet bread and headed to Casa Grande. I can't even describe the joy in my heart to see my mom reunited with her sister. There just are no words and since they say a picture is worth a thousand words, well we will let the pictures speak.

Side by Side
or Miles Apart
We are Sisters
Connected by the Heart


Sunday, June 21, 2015

Visiting Arizona - It's all about the family

In my last post I spoke about "mi tierra", the land where I grew up, where my heart is and also where the majority of my maternal side of the family lives. Family is the main reason we visited Arizona in May.

My mom still has a brother and a sister that live in Arizona. My moms father, mother, brother and five of her sisters are buried in Arizona cemeteries so mom of course has been wanting to go to Arizona and visit her sister Maria who lives in a nursing home and to visit her brother Tino who lives with his daughter and of course to visit relatives at the cemetery.

We went during Mothers Day weekend. The first thing we did was visit our Tia Ninfa who we stayed with. Tia Ninfa is the widow of my moms oldest brother Jesus or as we all called him Uncle Jesse. Tia Ninfa is like a real sister to my mom and she loves her dearly. We all love Tia Ninfa, she never had children of her owned so spoiled all of us her nieces and nephews endlessly. She's a wonderful, kind hearted, spirited fun lady who always has a smile on her face and only kind words about everyone she knows and a kind word for everyone she meets.

Mom with her sister in law Ninfa (Ninfa in red)
Tia Ninfa just had her home remodeled and when I say remodeled I mean they moved her and everything she owns out of the house she and my Uncle Jesse had lived in their whole married life, leveled it down to the ground and then rebuilt it. 

Here's a picture of what the house originally looked like. I have many wonderful memories in this house. I visited it often and spent the night many times with my Tio and Tia. They treated me like a princess!

Tio Jesse was sick for many years before he passed away and the house was beginning to have many problems with the plumbing and a leaking roof. One day Tia Ninfa received notification of a program in Arizona to rebuild homes for those that qualify. She called my cousin Norrie who is a realtor in Arizona as it sounded too good to be true. Norrie checked it all out and it was legit and Tia signed up and then forgot all about it.

Tia Ninfa tells us that one night after an especially heavy rainstorm the roof was leaking badly and she spent most of the night awake running around dumping out buckets of water that kept refilling from the leaks.

She said that in the morning, exhausted she sat down on her couch and started to cry and she talked to Tio Jesse. She told him, "Well Jesse, when you married me you said that you would always provide a roof over my head and you did for many years and now you're gone and the roof is falling in on my head and I don't know what to do, I need your help Jesse."

A few days later she received a phone call in response to her application to have her home rebuilt. She had qualified and they were ready to begin the process. It took a while as Tia Ninfa had stored years and years of treasures on the property but finally they began and here is her new home now. A home that she truly deserves for being the wonderful wife she was to our Uncle, for loving all of us and for just being the kindest person I know.

I had not noticed until right now that they kept the same color of her old house, a pinkish color. isn't it beautiful? The inside of the home is gorgeous. They would only rebuild it to the specifications it originally was so it's a two bedroom, one bath, but the kitchen is beautiful and modern and she's so happy with it! Thank you cousin Norrie for all you do for our beautiful Tia Ninfa!

I want all my friends and family members in California that whine about not being able to water their lawns because of the drought we are in, to notice that here is no grass on this lawn, that is all rock. Arizona learned how to live without being wasteful with water and California...we can learn too! Let's be water wise Californians!

Tia Ninfa was a great hostess and we had a wonderful time with her. She has not changed a bit, her heart is still as big as the state of Arizona.

Here's my sister Lisa with our mom and Tia Ninfa at the Picacho Peak State Park with Picacho Peak in the background.

And here's yours truly with Tia Ninfa and my mom and Picacho Peak in the background. We had just visited the gift shop where we bought souvenirs for all our loved ones back in California. Every time I go I buy a hot pink shirt with an Arizona decal. I don't know why but they always have a hot pink shirt waiting for me! It's like they know I'm coming back to "mi tierra". Love you Arizona!


Monday, May 18, 2015

Arizona - My Tierra

My dad used to talk wistfully about his "tierra". Translated that means his dirt, his land, but he meant Mexico, the land of his birth. My mom still talks about her "tierra" in Texas and has a picture of the old family homestead hanging in her house. What is it about the land of our birth that fills us with so many memories and peace and why do we long to go back?

For me, my "tierra" is Arizona, especially Eloy, Arizona and nothing means home to me like this site.

Picacho Peak - Picacho, Arizona
I can remember standing in front of my maternal grandparents home looking out and seeing this. It was something I saw daily. I didn't realize it was such a big part of my life until we left it and I didn't get to see it every day. I always know that I'm home when I see Picacho Peak.

My cousin Stella posted the photo below on her Facebook page and wrote, "I know they say you can't go home again, but I did this weekend...literally! Got to go thru my grandparents house....the house that built me. Everything inside was still the same. So sad and yet so blessed for all the memories that came flooding back. Thank you Norrie, Alicia and Lisa for being there as well." 

Forgive me for stealing this photo Stella, but it is perfect, just as your words above were perfect! This is the home that built me too.

The photo on the top is the home as it was back when it was first built in 1954 or so. The bottom photo is how it looks now. This is the front of the house, where as kids we would play in the front yard with the view of Picacho Peak in front of us about 13 or so miles away. While we played the view of Picacho was always  there, which is why whenever I see it I know I'm home, I've arrived at my "tierra". 

As cousin Stella mentioned she was grateful to relive this moment with her cousins Norrie, Lisa and me, Alicia. So to close a picture of us four cousins and our beautiful Tia Ninfa that was a second mother to us all growing up.

Left to Right - Cousin Stella, Aunt Ninfa, Cousin Norrie, Sister Lisa and winner of the whitest leg ever Me, Alicia


Monday, April 13, 2015

End of an Era - Saturn is in it's Last House

My first car was a 1975 Oldsmobile Omega SX and I did a post about it HERE. My mom and dad bought me that car as a graduation present from high school. I was allowed to keep it until I finished high school and then while I completed a 2 year junior college and then I was to give it to my sister, which I did.

My second car was sort of a gift from my paternal grandfather. He wanted to give it to me, but my dad wouldn't let him, my dad said I had to buy it from my Tata. So dad and I went down to good ol' Bank of America and dad co-signed my first auto loan and I made every single payment on time to my Tata.

From then on every car was a purchase with my husband. The last car my husband I purchased together was a red Ford Explorer. When we divorced I got custody of the Explorer and of our two kids, all in all I got the better deal, as my ex only ended up with himself! But that's another story and we won't go there!

Back in September of 2003 my poor little Explorer's transmission just decided it had given it's all for me and my little family and it died. So with a heavy heart I had to go out shopping for my own car. No dad, no husband, just me.

I remember the day like it was yesterday. September 9, 2003. I headed out that day on my own to buy a car. I had never bought a car on my own. 

I remember test driving cars at Honda and Toyota and Ford and while they all approved me, the monthly price and the down payment was way more than I was comfortable with. I didn't know what to do. I drove away dejected and defeated!

As I came around the corner I saw a salesman showing a couple a car that had these super fantastic doors. I didn't know what this car was but the doors intrigued me as they opened like this:

I thought that was the coolest thing ever and I bravely stopped to ask about this car. A salesman by the name of Ron came up to me as I stood there looking, with my mouth open, at this car. I asked about those doors and told him I wanted one just like it!

We looked at a few but by now I could do the numbers in my head and I knew that I couldn't afford the car, so I told him so. He said he was going to show me a car I could afford...and he did. 

Did it have fancy doors? A cool paint job? Great wheels? No...but guess what? It was affordable and it had dent resistant doors. I know this because Ron beat and kicked the door of the car I test drove and when I decided I wanted to go in and go over the numbers on it I remember telling him I wanted a different one, not the one he beat up (even though there wasn't a scratch on it). He said no, that car, the one I test drove, that was going to be my car. He said as long as I had it I was never going to have to worry about dents and dings because of the doors Saturn had put on it. 

Well there...I let the cat out of the bag and told you what kind of car it was. It was a brand new 2003 Saturn Ion, and 12 years later, this is that car.

See...not a scratch or a ding on those doors! This was the first car that I ever bought on my own. This car and I went through so many things together. Twelve years is a long time and I'm going to miss her. She kept on trucking like a trooper until one morning she gave her life's blood (oil) all over my driveway and my mechanic said he could fix her, but he wouldn't because I couldn't afford it and he wasn't going to do all that needed to be done because he physically wasn't able too anymore. My car and my mechanic both got old on me.

So I have a new car and I'm sure that I will make many memories and have good times and bad with the new one...but nothing will ever be as special to me as that Saturn Ion. The first car I ever bought and paid for all on my own! Goodbye Sweet Saturn, I will always miss you!


Friday, April 10, 2015

Don't Lose Your Loved Ones a Second Time

March 28, 2015 - I started this post on March 28th but never posted it. So sorry, but here it is.

"It's a little like Facebook meets Google Maps but for Dead People" - Pacific Coast Business Times

That's part of the advertising on the brochure for a company called And it really is like the quote above says. 

Photo taken at the Booth
This weekend my sister Lisa and I are in San Luis Obispo for 57th annual conference put on by the California Association of Public Cemeteries. We arrived on Thursday and that evening there was a "meet and greet" put on by the vendors, one of them being 

A hosted bar meant the wine flowed freely. There were sharply dressed waiters cruising the room with trays loaded with different delicacies, Pot stickers with peanut Sauce, Teriyaki Beef Sticks, Cheeseburger Sliders, Sausage and Vegetable Kabobs and Sushi. There was also a buffet table set up with assorted meats and cheeses, various fruits and veggies, a beautiful assortment of olives and guacamole and mini taquitos.

While we gorged on the delicacies so graciously provided by the vendors, we toured the room stopping at the various booths set up by the vendors with their wares. One of them was the one I've already mentioned,

What caught my attention about them was the brochure they had on a table for interested parties to take with them, and the catchy slogan that said, "you've already lost your loved ones once, don't lose them a second time."

Front cover of Brochure. Those pearly gates open up.
Inside of Brochure
Back of the Brochure with their contact info
I thought this brochure was so clever and eye catching and modern...most of all modern. Funeral Service as a whole has always been stuck in the dark ages as far as I'm concerned. Not a whole lot of technology has been applied, but that is all changing. Fresh ideas and young minds see things in a different way. Not that funerals shouldn't still be respectful, but they should be a celebration of life. 

It was great to be around people that understand that. There were those there that had been in funeral services for years and had lots to teach the young ones coming in of course, but they also learned new things from the young ones. It was a lot of fun as cemetery conventions go. (The great thing was that in this crowd Lisa and I were still considered kind of, sort of...young!)

Of course Lisa and I have fun no matter what whenever we are together. Even surrounded by a bunch of cemetery folk! After we took the picture below we had dinner and then we danced the night away! Well as much as you can dance the night away when the dance ends at 9pm, but we took advantage of it and danced every single one!

We had some great food! Wish I had taken pictures of everything, it was all so delicious, but I did take a picture of some of my favorite things.

This is my absolute favorite dessert in the whole world!

Creme Brulee - with lovely berries
Lisa invented a drink that everyone was calling "The Lisa", it was 7 and 7 with a splash of cranberry juice and a twist of lime. She loved it and so did everyone that she made try it!

And pardon me for taking a bite of this chocolate cake before taking a picture of it, but c''re lucky I didn't just inhale it with no picture!

Poor Lisa had to attend classes and seminars and I got to go shopping and wandering around.

Here we are the last night of the convention, Lisa is have "The Lisa" during the hotels happy hour and I'm having a margarita, just to switch it up from all the wine I had been drinking.

That night was a long dinner and presentation of the new officers of the board and awards presentations and by the end all we wanted was to go up to our room and go to we did!

The last day we were invited to the Tap-It Brewery in San Luis Obispo. We sat outside on their beautiful patio enjoying the gorgeous sun and a slight breeze, sipping our craft beers and enjoying a delicious BBQ. A perfect way to end a perfect weekend! Thank you so much Lisa for taking me with you!


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Dead Wake - From Left to Write

I've never been good at History. Never really even liked it. I know, I Edmund Burke once said, "Those who don't know history are destined to repeat it." 

Maybe the reason I don't like History is because it seemed like every year we would start with the same old American History book and we never got beyond the Civil War. Or maybe I stopped listening after the Civil Way.

But I've been reading an excellent book by Erik Larsen called Dead Wake, The Last Crossing of the Lusitania and one of the things that has made an impact on me is when he writes about the death of the wife of then President Woodrow Wilson.

Photo Credit - National First Ladies Library
Ellen Axson Wilson died on August 6, 1914, just a couple of days after Britain entered the new war in Europe and a year and a half into President Wilson's first term. I stopped to think about how devastating that must have been, to go through his wife's illness with her and then her death and still have to be the President of the United States. It's just mind boggling.

This got me to thinking about tragedies that happened to other Presidents during their term in office.  

Photo Credit - The American Presidents
There was our drunkest president, Franklin Pierce. He was the 14th President of the United States and while he was likable and popular president during his term he struggled with his wife Jane's illnesses and depression. They lost two sons, one just a few days old and the other at the age of four. They had another son named Bennie who lived to the age of 11 and died horribly in a train accident when the train they were on went off the track and rolled down a hill. Bennie was instantly decapitated and the President and Mrs. Pierce witnessed the whole thing. President Pierce died March 4, 1857 of cirrhosis of the liver. 

Maybe this book has opened up an interest in me for History.

This post was inspired by Dead Wake by Erik Larson, a thrilling account of Lusitania’s last voyage across the Atlantic Ocean and the U-boat that attacked it. Join From Left to Write on March 26th as we discuss Dead Wake. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.


Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The Sleep of the Innocent

I've always been a good sleeper. 

I inherited that ability from my dad. He could fall asleep anywhere, anytime.

I can remember when I was a kid, that he would come home during his lunch hour and he would eat the lunch my mom made him, then he would lay down in his recliner and take a nap before he had to go back to work. He would instantly start snoring. Sometimes we would jump into his lap and he would wake up and look at us with bewilderment and then he would go right back to sleep again. 

My mom who always had a hard time sleeping would get so mad at him that he could sleep like that. That soundly, That deeply. That restfully. Like it was his fault! My dad would tell her that he could sleep that soundly because he slept the sleep of the innocent. Without malice, without worry, without strife, without stress. I think that really pissed my mom off. Probably because she took it to mean that she couldn't sleep because she had malice, worry, strife and stress. I don't think my dad meant it that way, but I'm sure my mom took it that way. 

I sleep the sleep on the innocent as well. I can lay down at night and turn off the light and my body knows it's time to go to sleep. The bad thing is that they can lower the lights at a movie theater and my body thinks it's time to go to sleep. I can start reading a book and my body thinks it's time to go to sleep. My body thinks it's way innocent-er than it really is!

My sister and my mom both still experience bouts of insomnia, while I sleep soundly through the night. I also love naps during the day. I normally can't nap unless it's the weekend but I can lay down around 2pm on a Saturday and catch a 20 minute nap or a 1 hour nap and awaken refreshed and ready. 

I've been reading the book Thrive by Arianna Huffington for my online book club, From Left to Write.

In the book Arianna talks about how important it is to get a good nights sleep. It can help you to deal with stress better and is a great aid to losing weight. Sleep brings lots of good benefits with it. 

I wish I knew the secret to being able to get a good nights sleep. If I knew the secret I would definitely share it with my mom and my sister and with anyone else that has trouble sleeping. I just know that for me sleep comes easily and in fact I very rarely dream, or maybe I dream and just don't remember them, but when I wake in the morning or after an afternoon nap I am well rested and ready to face the day. 

Do you sleep the sleep of the innocent or do you toss and turn and sleep fitfully?

This post was inspired by Thrive by Arianna Huffington who challenges women unplug and sleep more to create a balanced life. Join From Left to Write on March 19th as we discuss Thrive. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.


Friday, March 13, 2015

Baby J Every Day...she's not just for Sunday anymore

I haven't done a Baby J Sunday post for a while. We still get a super fun visit from that little cutie pie every weekend, but it's getting harder and harder to snap pictures of her because she's always on the go! Such energy that child has!

This last weekend I was able to snap some photos of her while she was quietly drawing on the Dry Erase Board I got for her that she loves!

I love how comfortable she looks laying on her tummy! You get to my age and not only can you not lay on your tummy like that but you probably can't get back off the floor either!

She has the sweetest expressions and just loving her hair!

She was telling me a story about whatever it was she was drawing. Not sure what the story was about but the orange dry erase marker was important to the theme!

I don't know...but by they look on her face I would say she's plotting something!

She's back and focused on her drawing. That Dimple!!! That Dimple!!!

How I love this child!


Thursday, March 12, 2015

My Stupid Little Brothers

From the Halls of Montezuma, to the Shores of Tripoli. We fight our country’s battles, in the air, on land and sea. First to fight for right and freedom and to keep our honor clean. We are proud to claim the title of United States Marine! Ooh-rah! Semper Fi!

While at work today, I glanced out my window to see some cadets across the street that are training for a career in law enforcement and I said to my co-worker that it reminded me of my days in the Marine Corp (which of course I never attended or was a member of) and she said “You were in the Marine Corp?” I laughed and told her no and told her a story of when I worked at another office I jokingly told another co-worker that I had been a drill instructor in the Marines and she believed me and a few days later brought her young daughter to meet me. I was so embarrassed to admit I had just been kidding and this poor woman brought her daughter to meet me because she had admired my accomplishment. 

So then I sang my current co-worker Angie, the Battle Hymn of the Republic and she didn't know that was their song. 

Then I showed her the technique the cadets across the street were learning, on how to control riots with their batons and how to move as a group. 

Since I had a captive audience (literally because we’re at work and neither of us can go anywhere) I started telling her some of the sayings that my brothers (both ex-marines) had taught me when they got back from Boot Camp. 

This is my Rifle and this is my gun; this is for fighting, the this is for fun! 

I of course had to make that same gesture as in the photo. C'mon! We were just having fun and sometimes at work you have to take a break and just laugh at yourself and each other!

Then I told her there is a serious one about the Marine and his gun: 

The Creed of the United States Marine

This is my rifle. There are many like it, but this one is mine.
My rifle is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it as I must master my life. My rifle, without me, is useless. I must fire my rifle true. I must shoot straighter than my enemy who is trying to kill me. I must shoot him before he shoots me. I will...

My rifle and I know that what counts in war is not the rounds we fire, the noise of our burst, nor the smoke we make. We know that it is the hits that count. We will hit...

My rifle is human, even as I, because it is my life. Thus, I will learn it as a brother. I will learn its weaknesses, its strength, its parts, its accessories, its sights and its barrel. I will keep my rifle clean and ready, even as I am clean and ready. We will become part of each other. We will...

Before God, I swear this creed. My rifle and I are the defenders of my country. We are the masters of our enemy. We are the saviors of my life.

So be it, until victory is America's and there is no enemy, but peace!

I remember my brother Fred when he got home from Marine Corp Boot Camp reciting that to us while my little brother Jaime watched, knowing that someday he would follow in Fred's footsteps.

As I typed that it reminded me of the fact that while my brothers were learning these things and receiving training to protect and serve their country, to me they were just my stupid little brothers! But they returned as men!

I hope my little brothers know how much I admire and respect what they did for their country. Neither of them actually had to fight during a war, but they were prepared. They left home, family and safety to take their turn at protecting their country.

Wow, I didn't mean for this post to be about my brothers but I guess that is where my heart led me, stupid little brothers...I love you both.

My Brothers with our Dad
My Brothers with our Mom