Saturday, February 28, 2015

Nothing but a meatloaf sandwich...

What do you remember about your favorite meal growing up? Maybe your mom made it for you when it was your birthday or maybe once a week. When the girls were growing up I made most dinners at home especially when they were in school. Some meals like chili or a roast took most of the day to prepare and not just a quick 30-45 minutes like other dinners. Of course everyone in our family had a different favorite meal; for Bill it would be tacos or enchiladas, for Jenn it would be chicken and dumplings with homemade rolls, but Wendy's hands down favorite is tuna and noodle casserole with crescent rolls and pea salad. As to Heather's favorite I am not sure but she loved Sally's salad and any meal that took hours to prepare. She loved the holiday meals I made for sure.

Of course during cancer I didn't cook much and I certainly didn't make big elaborate meals. This was for two reasons; one being that I did not have the energy to cook such meals and two was I never knew what Heather would be hungry for come mealtime. When you deal with chemo you deal with food cravings and then smells that make you sick. It was always a hit or miss at mealtimes, especially when we added high dose steroids in the mix.

Heather was on the maintenance portion and had begun her schooling at PIMA, Violet had been born and was thriving and Jenn was working. Life seemed good. So one day I had some extra energy and I made a meatloaf. This is not any ordinary meatloaf, this was Grandma Coombe's meatloaf cooked in a cast iron skillet for super flavor. Of course all the extras came with that like mashed potatoes, gravy, some fruit salad of some kind and fresh homemade hot rolls. Heather was wanting to have perfect attendance at PIMA but just wasn't feeling energetic and when she found out what was for dinner she stayed home. She ate so good and enjoyed every single bite. Of course the best thing about a large meatloaf is the meatloaf sandwiches for a few days following.
Grandma Coombe's Meatloaf
That meal was made about March 2nd or 9th, 2009. I know this because it was a Monday and it was right before our nightmare began again. I maybe got a sandwich or two from the leftovers what with all the doctor visits and the weekend hospitalization. This was the last time I have made a meatloaf. Why? Because I guess I felt like it was Heather's last meal or the memory as I had to throw away the moldy green leftovers during her hospital stay. Somehow the thought of making another meatloaf was letting go of a bit more.
cooked and ready for sandwiches
Now this may all sound weird to you but if you have had a child died then you understand what I am saying. It is like somehow if I don't make a meatloaf again then March, 2009 didn't happen and all is good. I made a meatloaf this Friday February 27th. I have to work during the day over the weekend and I wanted good food to take with me to work. So I became “Suzy Homemaker” and made chili plus a meatloaf. Of course I did have a few flashbacks but it was okay. The meatloaf came out perfect and of course I was already thinking ahead to the sandwiches it would make. Somehow to me there is nothing like cold meatloaf with miracle whip and bread. I made the full meal with potatoes and bread as well. Cooking big meals is not something I do much of with just the two of us these days and especially now that I am working.

"I can't talk about our love story, so I will talk about math. I am not a mathematician, but I know this: There are infinite numbers between 0 and 1. There's .1 and .12 and .112 and infinite collection of others. Of course, there is a bigger infinite set of numbers between 0 and 2, or between 0 and a million. Some infinities are bigger than other infinities. A writer we used to like taught us that. There are days, many of them, when I resent the size of my unbounded set. I want more numbers than I'm likely to get, and God, I want more numbers for Augustus Waters than he got. But, Gus, my love, I cannot tell you how thankful I am for our little infinity. I wouldn't trade it for the world. You gave me a forever within the numbered days, and I'm grateful.”
John Green~The Fault in Our Stars
March already
 So each day draws me closer to "the day and date" this year, I am not sure how I feel except for exhausted from working nights. Maybe that is what I need to keep my mind busy and focused. I can't believe we are already about to spring into March as this year seems to be flying by. I have Heather's grave changed for St Patrick's Day and then April will follow with Easter and then......the day. I don't know how I feel anymore, guess a good way would be I enjoy parts of life but I am drifting thru, kind of numb and ho hum, thinking about what it means to have another year gone by without Heather here. I can't believe it will soon be six. How did six years pass me by? How could she be gone this long and it seem like yesterday and then seems like forever. But I was given forever in the numbered day I had with my Heather, and for that I am grateful that she was in my world.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

For the Love of Movies...

(1884): Frank Allen Arrives in New Mexico. He is 24 years old.
(1893): Frank moves to Farmington.
(1912): Allen Opera House opens. Shows first motion picture, only 10 cents per person. Frank's youngest daughter, Mary, "cues" the silent picture on the piano.
(1922): Allen Opera House Burns down. Brand new theatre built, called "The Allen".
(1930): First "talkies" shown at Allen Theatre. Founder Frank Allen dies.
(1937): First air conditioner installed by Augusta, Frank's widow.
(1941): Aztec Theatre in Aztec purchased and rebuilt.
(1946): Augusta Allen passed away.
(1947): First concession stand put in "The Allen"
(1949): Brand new theatre, the Totah, built and opened.
(1952): Russell Allen, Frank and Augusta's son, and his wife Helen, with business partners Kelly and Evelyn Crawford build two drive in theatres, The Apache Twin (1952) and the Valley (1954).
(1971): Cameo Theatre opens in Farmington, NM. First fully automatic theatre in New Mexico.
(1975): Totah Theatre changes to platter system from 2 projector system. Other theatres owned by the Allens follow suit over next two years.
Allen Theatre in Farmington NM
Most all these events took place long before I was ever born, however these event made some of my happiest childhood memories. I grew up in a very small town called Farmington, NM and we had a sleepy little Main Street that on Saturdays would come alive with all the shoppers. Our big named stores included Woolworths, McClellan’s and a JC Penney’s plus various small local businesses included Cradle N Teens clothing, JA May Jewelers and Eddie Lu’s for women’s clothing. JoBeth, Daddy and I would go shopping every Saturday. Our routine included lunch at the counter at McClellan’s and then I was given $2.00 to go to the afternoon matinee at The Allen Theatre while they went shopping. My two dollars would get my admission into the movie and I had enough left over for a soda and a package of Twizzles. I would bite the ends off the licorice and then use them like a straw till they got too mushy and then ate them. They are not like the ones today, mine were always soft and fresh as we had the Twizzler factory right there is our small community for many years. The Totah Theatre was one that had the adult or “bad” movies that I as a young child was not allowed to see. The Cameo was the first rocking chair Theatre in town and was a bit more expensive to see movies at. The Cameo is where my friend’s mother got her and me in to see Saturday Night Fever in 1977, my first rated R movie.
Cameo rocking chair Theatre in Farmington
Movies back in the 70’s were not like they are today where you have many theatres in one location with the latest and newest movies, but there was one movie and it stayed for weeks or months at a time. Farmington, being a small community we did not even begin to get the newest releases that came along. The best I can do is figure that I saw The Sound of Music and Mary Poppins, both with Julie Andrews, about some 25 times each. I loved being able to leave my world and go into the make believe world of movies. One very unique thing about The Allen Theatre was it had a mother’s crying room connected to the Ladies bathroom. This was a room that had a huge glass window facing the screen so that mothers could tend to their babies and still enjoy the movies and the crowd was not bothered by the noise of the child or baby.
The adult Totah Theatre in Farmington
Bill and I saw Mr. Mom on our honeymoon and then Ghostbusters for our first anniversary, and of course he will never let me forget that I dragged him to see Silkwood and Mask. The first movie that Jennifer and Heather saw was The Little Mermaid in 1989 and then all three girls saw 101 Dalmations in 1991. Of course all the Disney movies became our family movies of choice while the girls were younger. When the new Harkins Cine Capri opened at 101 and Scottsdale Road we all went to see Star Wars when it opened. We stood in line for hours to get a ticket and see the show. In the 2000’s our family began a movie tradition of seeing a movie the night before Thanksgiving and then on Christmas Eve. This was because after cooking all day for the next day’s meal, I wanted to relax so we went to a movie.
Harkins Cine Capri at 101 in Scottsdale
The beginning of 2008, theatres were showing Alvin and The Chipmunks and Enchanted. Heather had loved both these movies and as she became more ill with cancer she began going to movies nearly every day to kill time between school and work. Some days and most of the days prior to her diagnosis she just went to movies instead of classes. Once Heather was diagnosed going to the movies was nearly impossible as the theatres had way too many germs. The only night that Bill and I had a date night during cancer we went to see Wall-e and the friends that the girls were with went to the same movie at a different theatre. (What you need to understand is Heather was not allowed to be alone during treatments, especially after the blood clot to her brain. She was not allowed to drive either.)
Ariel view of Harkins Superstition Springs 25-Mesa
When life returned to “normal” movies became part of our lives again, including the Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve traditions. Heather saw Twilight for the first time on Christmas Eve and fell in love. This was her new favorite movie and we went looking to find the books at Walmart on Christmas Eve. Stacey, who worked night shift at the hospital, became Heather’s movie buddy. I cannot tell you how many times late at night Heather would flip downstairs and announce that she was meeting Stacy at the movies for an 11pm or a midnight show. This was a once a week or more occurrence.
Driving into work
Heather's favorite movie
Then Heather died. During the summer of 2009, Bill and I began going to back to back movies on the weekends to kill the constant thinking about what had happened. For that hour and a half we were not focused on our life and the death of Heather. It was still there but for a brief moment in time we became faraway places and funny jokes on the big screen. Then I picked up being Stacey’s movie buddy and we headed off to so many midnight showings of the newest movies. It got so that coworkers at Bill’s work would ask him what a good movie to see was since we saw most everything.
Movies have been a very important part of my life and my family’s life. Many of you know how movies mean many different things to me since Heather died. Of course Tangled is still a very moving movie for me for too many reasons to mention, then Frozen, and now Big Hero 6. Over the holiday season I worked at The Disney Store with the hope of a continuing position with Disney. If you want to know my take on what happened then message me and I will tell you, but I was not hired for a position with The Disney Store. I feel this was a huge mistake and loss for Disney. However, if you know me, then you know I don’t stay down for long. 
My favorite movie
I decided to do something crazy and apply for an assistant manager position with Harkins Theatres. I had been told recently that I had no management experience and I was not aggressive or assertive enough to be a manager. Well, I now have the last laugh as Harkins DID hire me as an assistant manager at Superstition Springs 25 Theatre. I went thru three interviews and I rocked them big time as Harkins does not like to hire outside of their employee base. They really promote “the hire from within” and I had to wow them to prove I had what it takes to get a shot at this position. Disney’s loss is Harkins gain and I feel Disney lost a valuable employee.
Balalalala--fist bump
I have worked about 10 days now and am heading into my 3rd week of 42.50 hours a week of late, nighttime working. I am doing the projection which has lots of responsibility and I am in charge of millions of dollars of computer and projector equipment. I had two nights of training and then I went sent to soar on my own. I am very proud of what I have accomplished so far in the Theatre work. I have learned how to “map” the movies so they play on the day and time they are supposed to. I know how to check the projectors for the next day’s movies and shut them down. I also am doing computer work, paperwork and auditorium checks during the movies to make sure our movie guests have the best experience possible. I am very happy here and love all my new coworkers and they are very welcoming to me. I am allowed to make mistakes and don’t feel under pressure to be perfect. I already have received a 20% raise plus I get free movies. I know that Heather is looking down and smiling and once again she is very proud of her Momy. She is always in my head telling me “you go Momy! Rock it!”

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Memories...Part Three

It seems that there is nothing better than sleeping at sea. The cabins on the Disney Ship are very large compared to other ships. A unique feature is they have two bathrooms; one has a full size tub, shower and sink and the other has the toilet and another sink. It is actually quite handy for getting ready. Another unique feature is the Disney Cruise App. This allows you to stay in contact with your group using your own cell phone and texting thru the app. It is quite amazing and is a fun great way to stay in touch on the ship.
Breakfast before we head out
 When we woke up Saturday morning we were in the Bahamas. There are travel alerts for this area about tour groups being held up at gunpoint, so we all wanted to stay very close to the ship and in a group. Wendy, Sunnie and Snooks headed to a small beach to enjoy the sand and water, while the rest of us went into Nassua. WOW, what a trip that was getting thru the vendors and peddlers right past the ship. Jenn was very nervous about having Lil E there and had her in the carry pac so she would not be able to be stolen. We looked thru several shops, but the best find was the Hard Rock Café we stumbled on. I was thrilled as I got a charm for my bracelet, a magnet and a Hurricane glass to add to my collection. After getting a couple more treasures it was good enough to say we have been to Nassau and we returned to the ship.
Nassau Hard Rock
Once we got back Jenn, Paz and Lil E went to see Big Hero 6 in the ship’s Theatre while Sunnie and Snooks wanted to go on the AquaDuck again. It was chilly but these two didn’t care. I passed a hair braiding station and decided to have my hair braided for Pirate night. Of course Pirate night is a huge hit on the ship as everyone comes dressed in their finest pirate outfits. Dinner that night was at the Enchanted Garden and once again we had the premier table for dinner. The Dining Room Maître’d was telling us we were getting the special table each night and tomorrow night would be spectacular. He didn’t know why we were there or what we were celebrating. That night the play was the Villains and it was really good.
Snooks and Sunnie ready to go
Nightitme AquaDuck
So I guess I have this idea of what cruising is from watching the Love Boat when I was younger. You always changed and dressed for dinner and then Julie McCoy always at night walked around in her satin like pajamas. Soooo, I had some red and black pajamas that we ventured out late one night in. We took lots of photos with no one around. It was amazing to get the whole lobby area with no people. It was just fun to walk around the ship late and see things that maybe we didn’t see with all the people around…like the real, life sized gingerbread house. Yes, it is made from real gingerbread and was playhouse sized. It smelled amazing and they served hot cocoa and cookies there every night.
Gingerbread house
Minnie and Mickey eating gingerbread
On Sunday we were docked at Castaway Cay, Disney’s private island. Oh my goodness let me tell you this was the highlight of the whole trip. The water was beyond so clear and crystal green by the ship and then on the beaches it was white beautiful sand with sparkling blue water. Everything you could want was right there including a BBQ lunch with all the soda and ice cream you could want. Wendy, Sunnie and Snooks went snorkeling, while Lil E chilled on some towels and enjoyed the sand and shade. Heather would have loved this part of the trip…The beach was her love for sure. This will be a special spot for all of us from now on and will be known as another Heather’s spot.
Special place and day
our ship is the only one docked here
Castaway Cay Gang
That night was the “formal” dinner night and Lynn, Linda and I had hair appointments. Our dining was in the Royal Palace dining room and it was beyond something else. It had a center table that had a crystal chandelier with glass slippers all around it. The floor was tiles that had roses and tiaras inlayed in it. Everyone looked amazing all dressed up. Wendy ordered a shot for Sunnie for his birthday and he made a toast to Heather and family. Then Linda made a toast and that was about it for anyone being able to speak. Then came time for the special birthday mousse and the Maître’d wanted to know who was Sunnie and Heather. This was the first opportunity I had to tell him who Heather was. He was shocked and told us that he had a feeling that we were a special family but he did not know about Heather. They brought two desserts and we all shared. He also told us that he remembers very special people that sit at that center round table and he would remember us for a long time. This was also the table that Roy Disney ate dinner at when the Dream was commissioned into service. It was an incredible last night on the cruise.
Glass slipper chandelier
Happy Birthday Sunnie and Heather
We did not make it to the last show as we were taking photos and wanted to spend the last night just relaxing and packing. Morning would come all too early as we had to begin getting off at 7:30am. Our flight didn’t leave us much time to delays, so we had to be ready to go. Monday arrived and it seemed like the vacation I had spent over a year in planning was gone way too fast. Lots of memories were made and I know that Heather would be happy with the use of the money from selling her piano.
Fitting that our family photo would be formal night with Minnie Mouse
Formal night
We made the same shuttle bus to the airport with Lynn and Linda, but we had different terminals to go to. I think it was easier to just rush goodbye instead of the long goodbye. Kind of like ripping it off like a Band-Aid. Heather loved going to South Carolina to visit Lynn and Linda. She took trips there two summers in a row. She and Lynn spent countless hours talking on the phone and texting. Lynn’s brother and Linda’s son, Charles, had cancer for many years. We all thought with the kind of cancer he had that Charles would be in heaven soon. Then Heather got cancer and of course Lynn and Linda were devastated. They came to visit Arizona in May, 2008 and we had no idea at the time that would be the last time for them to visit. Heather died 11 months before Charles died, so Linda and I are both grieving mothers. Like I stated before, because Lynn and Linda knew and loved Heather it was like she was there on the cruise.
Our Family
Linda, Sherry, Bill and Lynn
The flight home was two long flight as I could not find a connecting one on the way back. We checked all our bags and hoped for the best when we got to Phoenix that all the luggage made it onto two different planes. We had a layover in Denver and then we began the last leg home. Of course everyone was tired we felt like we did whatever to keep Snooks and Lil E happy at this point. (They are both EXCELLENT travelers, but after a whole day of flying even adults get cranky) SO we were on the plane and a cry baby of a man complained that Snooks games were too loud. Wendy and Sunnie told him he needed to be glad she wasn’t screaming and crying. SO the big man had to call the flight attendant and tattle on Snooks forcing her to turn down her volume, mind you no one could hear it trust me) Here came Lil E to the rescue of her cousin. The entire trip Lil E had been as good as gold and quiet…well she proceeded to fuse and cry for about 40 minutes. Served the man right for being such a jerk.

We all arrived home after a long day of traveling and all our luggage got home safe and sound as well. It was quite a trip and I am so glad we took this opportunity as a family to go on vacation. As the days went on and we settled back home I realized how much I missed being able to see Jenn, Wendy, Snooks, Lil E, Sunnie and Paz every day, several times a day. It is a blessing to be together and not a curse like some families feel. Now maybe if you ask the boys they might feel different about spending 7 days with their mother in law…
All home SAFE and sound and all the luggage
Snooks innocently stated as she looked out the window as we flew to Florida on December 10th:
“We are flying in the clouds, we need to 0- keep our eyes open for Aunt Missy