Monday, October 10, 2016

Time Travel: A Branson Smorgasbord

Time Travel: A Branson Smorgasbord:                                              A Branson Smorgasbord      We went to Branson for the shows . . . but I came home with the...

A Branson Smorgasbord

                                           A Branson Smorgasbord

     We went to Branson for the shows . . . but I came home with the memory of the outdoors . . . laying on my lounger chair outside the Minnie Winnie trailer . .  . smelling the clean fresh air . . . looking through the trees at the clouds rolling across the blue sky.  The shows were great but I would return to the Ozarks for the outside life.  

     After a rewarding family reunion in Indianapolis, we packed up and started out early for Branson.  It was a grueling ten hour trip of driving with quick stops only for snacks and stretching legs.  Arising at an early hour is tough on my 89 year old bones and the solution is a comfy nest in the back seat of the car and return to dreamland. 

     The route included a zig zag through St. Louie.  I had transferred planes many times here but had never seen the Gateway Arch.  We came close enough that I can now cross it off my Bucket List.  

     It was still daylight when we pulled Minnie Winnie into the Shenanigans RV park and tied her down.  After a quick meal from the refrigerator, we relaxed with three games of Mexican Train dominoes.  I was behind in our running competition but due to my rested condition while others had slaved, I won three games in a row.  So watch it, Mr. B.!!!

     The next day would be grocery store and organizing the days ahead.  We drove around hilly streets with all imaginable entertainment – from Ghost tours to Wax Works -- and menu choices from well-known fast food to the top priced elite.  Reservations had been made in advance for four shows and we knew we wanted outdoor time and possibly a train ride. 

     My report here will not be a review of the attractions we attended but rather impressions of our sampling of all that is offered. 

     The first show, the Haygoods Family Entertainment, was written for a younger audience.  The country songs came out with a rock pattern and streams of lights covering the audience.   I was ready to leave after the first 15 minutes but was glad we stayed when the talent -- some awesome solos – overcame the zooming lights.

     After looking over our table full of brochures and maps, we settled on the next morning plan of a Free Trolley Ride around the historic area and exploring Downtown.  However, sometimes Plan B turns out better than Plan A.  After waiting 30 minutes for the trolley, she told us that it was her lunch hour and she didn’t know when the next trolley would be coming.  We spotted the Branson Scenic Railway at the historic depot and walked across the street.  This turned out to be a winner and we made reservations for 2:00 pm the next day.  I also bought mighty fancy souvenirs for only 99 cents. 

     We walked a few steep blocks toward the main street of stores and spotted the Free Trolley Ride, ran for it and got on.  Progress indeed!  Three blocks of riding to reach the downtown and now that can be crossed off the list of To-do’s.  

     Back in the good ol’ days when I had been hunting for cheap antiques, this area would have been a goldmine to search the cubbyhole stores.  Now it was fun for about 30 minutes, my favorite place being Dickie’s with rows and rows of “five and ten cent store” type of variety. 
     Lunch time.  The recommendation was Landry’s Seafood House, which turned out to be the classiest joint we attended in Branson and worth every expensive penny.
     We barely could get in a nap before our evening show; I love my sleepy hour outside with overhead tree branches partially blocking out the sun and cloudy skies.   

     Our evening destination: “The Shepherd of the Hills”, an outdoor amphitheater with lots of action – a love triangle, the beautiful Ozark girl planning to marry a city slicker, but the rugged hometown boy overpowers the bad guys and wins the girl.  Lots of melodrama and excellent horse action.   

     At halftime the audience was invited to meet the actors and I couldn’t resist heading for the outdoor stage.  My feet moved dancing to the square dance music.   The good-looking “bad guy” with the drooping mustache and cowboy hat held out his arms to invite me to dance.  Do-se-do and swing me around.  When I ran out of air and had to quit, I gave him a hug and headed back to the grandstand.  On the way I asked one of the ushers for his name.  She said, “Ed.”  OMG, I ran back to my dance partner and told him, “Ed was my love, departing two years ago.”  He understood and embraced me again.  

     After the show we began our departure across the field to the stairs.  My partner came running toward me, held out his hand and said, “This is from Ed.”  He handed me one of the empty blank shells used in the gunfire.  My arms went around him and when I looked into his eyes, we both had tears.  We both knew that this was sent by my Ed.    

More attractions filled up our calendar and the days were passing too quickly.  We went to the morning show of the Blackwoods in the Starlite Theatre:  Gospel, Country and Patriotic with wonderful harmony plus a back screen showing various Blackwood family members with big name artists throughout the years.  We all loved them. 

     The other event for the day took us on the Branson Scenic Railway.  At 2:00 pm we boarded and ate a good lunch sitting high in the dome car. Our 1950’s train took us on a 40-mile round trip through the Ozark foothills.  Lots of trees with interesting shots of the engine rounding the curve.

     This was the last night for playing Mexican train dominoes.  The score had changed from day to day but our ending tally showed Mr. B ahead by one game.  I vowed to pass him on the next visit. 
     I had been looking forward to a hike through the woods, along the lake, someplace with a trail that was reasonably flat instead of steep climbs. Table Rock Lake was the answer.  We had an easy walk of a couple of miles plus bringing home some pretty camera shots of trees and lake  

     Our last show ranked high on our list of “likes”:  “Country Vault” with excellent renditions of favorite country singers.  

     The day had come to go home.  The three hour drive to Kansas City for a nonstop flight is transition time from “I don’t want to leave” to “Can’t wait to get home.”  Sister has taken such good care of the old lady and we have had so much fun together.  

    And yet I have been away from home for ten days.  Sunny weather and good friends are waiting for me.  After an uneventable flight, now I am eager to unload the pictures from camera to computer, find the brochures and tell you about my fun adventures. 

Tuesday, August 9, 2016


Time Travel: MY TEXAS VACATION: I was 13, a freshman in high school, and I noticed the protruding of Mom’s belly.  I asked in a disgusted tone of voice, “You are not g...


Time Travel: MY TEXAS VACATION: I was 13, a freshman in high school, and I noticed the protruding of Mom’s belly.  I asked in a disgusted tone of voice, “You are not g...


I was 13, a freshman in high school, and I noticed the protruding of Mom’s belly.  I asked in a disgusted tone of voice, “You are not going to have another baby, are you?”

The last one was not walking yet and took an awful lot of care from the eldest of her children – me!  Mom always made the best out of whatever came and she answered, “Yes, and this time I will give you a girl.  She will be special and you can name her.”

Wow.  That was quite a gift.  “Well, it better not be another boy or he is going back.”  Three brothers were enough. 

That was about the best deal I ever made.  Cute baby girls can twist anyone around her finger and, along with everyone else who came close to her, I got twisted.   

She is still being the boss lady.  Just because I am 13 years further along to getting old – like 88 to 75 – small difference -- when I fly into Texas, she calls the shots. 
 We begin this visit with one of my favorite entertainments.  Fourth of July fireworks in downtown Beaumont.  We take a casual cruise up the Neches River in Buford’s pontoon boat, peeking into the outlets, catching sight of the picnics on the shore. Anchor is dropped in a quiet spot, out of the way of speedboat waves.  I open a beer and we enjoy our sandwiches.

There is no better sightseeing spot for the dazzles exploding in the sky than right underneath them.  Breath-taking oohs and aahs.  Then after the final firey explosion among the stars, Buford skillfully navigates us between the other motor and cruise-type boats to home.  It is time for our almost nightly competition on Mexican train dominoes.  We have been keeping score for three years and – at the moment – Buford and Mariam are neck and neck.  However, we all know that can change in one evening and last year I left Beaumont trailing by six games. 

The next day Nancy handed me the calendar.  Worst, first.  Eyes and teeth and feet.  I told her there was no need for these check-ups, but she doesn’t believe me. When the moment came that the doctor(s) tell her that these parts are about as good as they can be for an old lady (oh, I hate that description), both of us are relieved. 

The fun part comes next. Her hair-cutting lady takes her time, snips here, surveys, snips a bit more.  The results actually turn me almost pretty.  (for an old lady, that is!).  Then I had my choice and this year I chose the facial over a massage.  This brand-new procedure for me was smooth, relaxed every bone in my body, and I named it an hour of heaven.  Next year, when I am 90, maybe I can talk her into both.   After all, I changed a lot of diapers.

Since Beaumont is my second home, I had arranged to present the Beaumont library with my book, four copies of “The Alternate Safe World of Sanctuary”.  The folks at the library welcomed me with warm, friendly, open arms.  The newspaper didn’t care but you can’t win them all. 

The wonderful beautiful Texas Tyler State Park is about a five hour drive from Beaumont and certainly worth the trip.  A tree shaded lake side spot had been reserved for the Minnie Winnie. 

 Then, for almost a week, we explored.  A short trail, less than a mile, up and down, left us hot and sweaty and heading for the camp shower.  Our longest trail took us over a steady two miles, around the lake, getting good camera shots from all directions.  We took our picnic lunch and also lots of breaks to sit and take pictures of the scenery. 

Motor boats are not allowed on the small lake.  Paddle wheelers and kayaks are for rent.  I had my eye on the kayaks but Nancy considered it too dangerous for “an old lady.”  It was with reluctance that she finally quit hassling me about paddling a single seater.   I plopped down into it and Nancy and Buford took off in a double kayak.  All going great, and with the help of the wind, I moved out into the center of the lake. 
  I pushed my paddles down deep, trying to turn around.  Hollers were coming at me, “turn right!  Right!  The other right!”  The wind kept pushing and my paddle kept going the wrong way and in about two seconds flat, I was in the weeds, against the shore.  Sigh. 

I pushed out, got around to a beach and my single kayaking days were over.  I was assigned to the double kayak with Buford doing the work and me admiring the scenery.  Nancy got into the single kayak, and with no previous experience or instructions, took off, smoothly skimming her paddles along the surface, sending the boat any way she wanted it to go.  My only consolation is that I didn’t manage to turn that durned piece of wood over. 

One more week and two more stops.  This is the chance I get to visit with family and see how much the young ‘uns have grown.
Bernie was not enthused about making friends with me but he was still young.  His sister took her time, but she finally came to my lap.  I do need to mention that this picture of her was enlarged by the lady of the house in order to make an impression of how much Marshmallow has grown.

Otis had added considerable weight since the first picture had been put on facebook.  He wanted to make an impression by showing off his teeth, but I was warned:  “Keep his mouth away from your arm.”  I wasn’t quick enough but it was only a baby scratch.  In this picture, he wanted to show his affection for me, almost knocking me over. 

This week went by too quickly, a relaxed time, with lots of family togetherness.  I came home with so much pride in the family connections that belong to me.  From Aunt Mariam: Love you all so much and thanks for being you. 

And for Buford – here is a question for you.

Saturday, August 6, 2016


Time Travel: THE ROLLER COASTER RIDE: MY ROLLER COASTER RIDE Quick decisions can sometimes get you in trouble.   Or it can lead to a roller coaster ride that might be ...



Quick decisions can sometimes get you in trouble.  Or it can lead to a roller coaster ride that might be missed by being a scaredy cat.   I jumped into a whirling jamboree without considering the work or the consequences.  When 21 year old Tia, third great granddaughter, walked out on Hoy Field to receive her Phoenix College diploma, little did I know how that was going to affect me.   

Without thinking it through, I told son Fred, “I can do that.  I only need two more credits,” and with a sigh, “in Science.”  I had lots of credits in the fun courses, writing, newspaper, photography, art, history, but lack of Science credits had kept me from graduating forty some years ago. 

It wasn’t easy.  Short term memory caused me to give up all other activities for 100 days.  I had to concentrate solely on finding a way to pass the online “Science of Nutrition.” I strongly considered dumping it after the first test.  However, I couldn’t face telling my PC graduate kids – son, grandson, three great-granddaughters – that I was chickening out. 
Three blogs give the story of the struggle if you want to check the blog file.

Then came the big day, G-Day, Friday, May 13, 2016.  It is now almost three months later, as I write this, and I am trying to get those fireworks days organized.   The URL link shown will show the story.
This will be my filing case.  I’m putting out a red flag now that this file might be rather dull.   The next blog, three weeks in Texas, will be much more lively.

Megan, from Phoenix College, emailed and asked if I would talk to a reporter from Channel 3 and Channel 5.  Wow!  You’re durn tootin’. Send ‘em over!   You're never too old to follow your dreams. Reporter, Jason Barry, TV channels 3 and 5, KPHO/KTVK, May 12, 2016.

We made a date of May 12 at Laura Danieli lunchroom where I had arranged to give a talk, “Hear Her Story – 71 years to Finish a Dream.”  My desire was to encourage others to follow their dream, regardless of age or disability.
The action began when two special friends, Amanda and Ursula, came to my apartment.  They helped me put my gown on right side out and the cap at the proper angle.  They attempted to calm me to a slow run, but it wasn’t possible, I was keyed up to high gear.  

 One of the very best Arizona Republic feature writers, Dianna Nanez, appeared with her camera.  This link is to the e-version of the Arizona Republic.  After you get past the ad, it also captures my five-minute talk.  88-year-old Phoenix woman chased her dreams and caught them.  Arizona Republic story, Dianna M. Náñez, June 4, 2016.
 In the lunchroom, two cakes and flowers magically appeared to give a party appearance.
More friends took time out from a busy day.  Daniel, a one-of-a-kind-reporter who remained a good friend despite Ed saying “No” to his writing about our romance, came for the show.   Jack, who had been Ed’s best Phoenix friend, surprised me and I couldn’t have been happier when I hugged him. 

Family had told me that they would be at our family dinner on graduation day and I didn’t expect anyone here.
I was ready to give my talk, notes in one hand, mike in the other, wanting someone to hold up my book, “The Alternate Safe World of Sanctuary,” when out of the blue, great granddaughter Tia appeared.  My cup floweth over.  

So much of what happened next has become a blur.  Jason Barry and his crew took me over to Phoenix College, in my cap and gown, on a hot afternoon and I walked up and down that sidewalk dozens of times for the photographers to get 30 seconds of shots. That evening I set the VCR to tape both channels and went to bed.  While I slept a couple of dozen stations picked up the story. 

Next day would be even more exciting.  Colleen arrived first, coming in from Detroit.  I know she came to support me and show her love for me, but I also felt she represented Duane, a major person in both of our lives.  Then wonderful niece Kathy, from Houston, parked and a beautiful young lady came walking up the sidewalk.  I couldn’t believe my eyes.  Dolores had come along, first time I had visited with her since the families had explored the zoo together.
What a crowd we had at “My Mother’s” private dining room.  There never can be so much happiness as to when all of one’s family is together in one space, all talking at once, laughter from one corner and then giggles from another. 

Yes, just about every one of my family, plus my apartment friends who had cheered me on from the beginning; plus Tim and Alice representing the Lewis clan and always standing by me; and our special out-of-town visitors.  My cup not only runneth over, I was crying with happiness. 

Another blur – only two moments stand out for the ceremony.  Five hundred or so graduates were sitting together for instructions.  The channel 5 recording was shown on the tv screen, I was introduced, took my bow and my fellow graduates rose and gave me a salute.  The next I recall – walking across that green grass to the presentation stand.  The rest is a blank. 

Well, it’s all over.  The coach turns back into a pumpkin, the silver slippers are gone. 
Almost.  Shanna Hogan called me.  Shanna of the New Times, ASU journalism teacher, author of best selling true-crime books, with a bunch of awards.  What could she do with someone who is not spectacular and doesn’t have a problem?  As it turned out, she wrote a great story and one of my best moments was signing our books for each other.     88-Year-Old Phoenix Great-Grandmother Graduates from College.   Phoenix New Times, Shanna Hogan, May 25, 2016

Some nice things have happened because of the media attention.  I sold a few more books.  We had some nice family get-togethers.  And I enjoyed every moment of my Roller Coaster Ride.  

Here are more links to stories.  I hope I haven’t missed any.    ”88-year-old writer donates book to library”   June 30, 2016, Glendale Star. earns diploma at the age of 88”   June 24, 2016.  Hendricks County (Indiana) Flyer        June 7, 2016 – Graduation story “It Doesn’t happen Often”    website, The Collected Life of Mariam, long-ago published stories, current blogs and the first chapter of Sanctuary.  

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Time Travel: Twitter Test?

Time Travel: Twitter Test?:                 6-16-16 Is This a Twitter Test? Today is a Number with Good Fortune While waiting for an ... Twitter Test?                6-16-16

Is This a Twitter Test?

Today is a Number with Good Fortune
While waiting for an important phone call, I have finished paperwork that should have been done yesterday or maybe last week.  And every time I type the date, I say “Good.  You will bring Positive Answers to my Quests.

This is my search:  To find people who will used their Kindle account and click on my book, “The Alternate Safe World of Sanctuary.”  It is FREE with prime and the huge sum of 99 cents otherwise.  The only way for me to market my book is to tell a lot of people about it.  This has been moderately successful by the publicity of the last month.

88 year-old-great grandmother graduates.

I’ll find out if today is truly a day that leads to progress and success.  Did I make lemonade on this date?  Here’s a lemonade toast to Mariam!

Tuesday, June 7, 2016


Time Travel: IT DOESN'T HAPPEN OFTEN: It doesn’t happen often – But Sunday was the day.  NEVER TOO LATE TO LEARN  To see my squinty-eyed silly grinning face taking u...


It doesn’t happen often –

But Sunday was the day. 

 To see my squinty-eyed silly grinning face taking up a third of the page on the Valley & State Arizona Republic section.  Then to just glom into the wonderful delicious article by Dianna M. Náñez.

.  This is one of the few times that I can’t find enough words to express the sky high feeling I get when I read and re-read the story she writes about my life.  Graduating at 88, maybe that’s a big deal, but that just fell into place as one of the things on my bucket list.  The chance to spout out about “Never too Late,” and “Don’t Give up Your Dream,” is a definite plus.

The ‘walking on air’ came about because Dianna painted such a hilarious picture of me.  I’m certainly not “toothpick thin” but I will allow her the literary license and love her for it.  But where my eyes couldn’t get enough, I kept going over the page to be sure it was printed correctly, her description of Evangeline and “The Alternate Safe World of Sanctuary.”  

Those are MY words.  To see them in such a prominent place in the gigantic newspaper of the sixth largest city in the United States, wow!, a gal can go through the roof and head for the moon.
There are only a few times that a person is allowed to have such a delirious feeling in their lifetime:

 When I first soloed a plane by myself and bounced that Cub six times before landing at Weir Cook Airport, I had to be tied to the ground. 

When I sold my first small magazine story, phone calls cost money, but I didn’t care, I had to tell everyone in faraway places about it.

At seventeen, our three day secret honeymoon in Chicago and for weeks I had a hard time keeping my mouth downturned not to give away such flying happiness.

The wonderful fuzzy-warm feeling that overtook me when my 5 pound 11 ounce skinny un-beautiful son was put in my arms.

Actually standing up on the ski-slope and skimming down the bunny hill.

When the first copy of “The Alternate Safe World of Sanctuary” came in the mail and I danced around the room, the house, the block, couldn’t slow down.

When I walked into Ed’s arms at the age of 75 and knew that something so very special had happened that it stays part of me always.  

And now – THIS.   Good fortune, call it luck, call it Providence, call it my guardian angel watching over me, that a writer with the talent of Dianna Náñez  would take the hours of interviewing, I don’t know how long on writing, to turn out a story that sounds like best-seller fiction but it has my name, my actions, my book, as the subject, it is unbelievable.

At this age, one thinks, “O.K., I’m on top of my world now.  It would be a good time to go.”  After all, one likes to leave the party when one is having the most fun, before it winds down - - - I don’t expect it will get any better than this - - - but I think I will stick around a while longer to make sure I don’t miss anything. 

Thank You, God.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016


Time Travel: THE BUTTERFLY LANDING:                              Those colorful butterflies of happiness flit around, fluttering up, drifting down, coming close, don’t l...


Those colorful butterflies of happiness flit around, fluttering up, drifting down, coming close, don’t look . . . or those wings of beauty will disappear.  Then – suddenly – from an unexpected direction, one comes and Ands landsupon my shoulder. 

Writing a book is fun,    selling it is work.  I have considered many ways of getting attention for Sanctuary: make a box sign and march down Central in my undies . . . but alas, my figure would not get the right kind of attention.  Or talk my Tia into helping . . . her figure would be great but she might not want a police record. 

Never did I consider the Phoenix New Times with its controversial approach.  I haven’t seen any UFOs and I am not in the public eye.  When I received an email from a New Times reporter I was very curious.  I don’t consider it a big deal to graduate at the age of 88.  I’m glad and proud and hope my action might show others that age or disability is not a barrier. 
Shanna Hogan is author of three best-selling true-crime books, has a bunch of awards and teaches writing at ASU.  After this discovery, I was even more curious.  What could she do with someone who is not spectacular and doesn’t have a problem?

After meeting Shanna, I forgot my dismay and we talked writing and formed a bond.  I suspect Shanna would instantly be a friend with any person on her radar but not many come into my radar to exchange autographed books.  That was pure pleasure!

Here is her story about Mariam Cheshire:


Sunday, May 15, 2016


Here is a link that will bring up the story for now.  I don't know how long it will last or when I can get the expertise people to help me save it.  Another blog is almost ready to go - The party is over!  It was fun, Mariam

Read more:

88-year-old great-grandmother graduates from Phoenix College
Posted: May 12, 2016 5:44 PMUpdated: May 12, 2016 7:06 PM

(Source: KPHO/KTVK)(Source: KPHO/KTVK)
You're never too old to follow your dreams.
That's the message from a Valley college student getting ready for graduation.
But Mariam Cheshire is not your average student.
The 88-year-old great-grandmother is about to become one of the oldest graduates in Phoenix College history.
"It really does feel wonderful," said Cheshire. "I accomplished something. I did it and it was not easy."
The retired travel agent said that she started taking college classes when she was 17, but family and work always got in the way of completing her degree.
Over the years, Cheshire watched her son, grandson, and three great-granddaughterss graduate from Phoenix College.
Now, it's her turn, and her family is not surprised.
"She's 88 years old," said great-granddaughter Tia Cheshire. "She works out at the YMCA, just got back from a cruise in Hawaii.  She has so much energy. She's living life."
Cheshire was the guest speaker Thursday at the Laura Danieli Senior Activity Center, where she hopes to inspire other seniors to follow their dreams, just like she did, taking one last class to get a college diploma.
"When people tell you not to believe in your dreams - that you can't make it - when they say why bother - then you can say why not," said Cheshire.
 One 74-year-old was inspired so much, she's already planning to go back to school.
 "I can do with my life what I enjoy, and what means something to me," said Cheshire.
The great-grandmother has already written one book called "The Alternate Safe World of Sanctuary," and is hoping to write another.
Cheshire will attend Phoenix College's graduation ceremony on Friday evening.
Copyright 2016 KPHO (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.
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