Surfing

My absolute favorite thing to do when I was a kid growing up in Manhattan Beach was dive under those waves, I could spend all day in the water.  The best feeling for me was still having that salt and sand all over me when I got out, I never even rinsed off.  There was rarely a time I even brought a brush to the beach with me.  Having salt mixed with sand either walking or riding my bike home felt so good!  My grade school was right up the hill from the water, we had a pact to go in the water every single day one year.  That’s my memory of it, not sure if we did it or not?  I’d wait for my hair to dry at my friend’s house (my parents didn’t know), then run down Sand Dune park hill to get home.

I had a few water toys growing up, a styrofoam wave rider thingy and an itchy surf mat.   When I was really little, my mom would put us on the surf mat to get us across the hot sand and pull the rope.  Boogie boards came out when I was in middle school, they were actually kits you had to buy duct tape to put them together.  Then the boys starting surfing, girls not allowed.  This could be due to the fact that the boys weren’t very good yet and didn’t want the girls to actually know that.  Right before we made that puberty transition, I was still one of the boys with my boogie board.  We were all at the pier, two of my guy friends dared me to go in when the waves were big, so I went for it.  Of course I was pummeled, when I came in though they both said they never would have gone out!!  They both became pro surfers at some point in their lives.

What was unfortunate timing for me was short board popularity, long boards were not cool in the ’70’s, no one wants to be labeled a “kook.”  I was asked by the local surf shop to join the boogie board team…ummmm, no thanks.  That just sounded so wimpy compared to surfing.  I wanted to stand up!  I just couldn’t on a short board.

In my attempts to surf, I was lucky to hang out with a group of kids for a time with dads who were longboard surfers.  I did a lot of pearling, the timing of Manhattan Beach waves with a longboard is not the greatest either.  They’re quick waves, with a boogie board I could take off while the wave was curling.  On a longboard, you take off at the swell and paddle hard.  If there’s already a curl, it’s just going to push the nose straight down.  Since there was no formal instruction, besides a beginning book in the library (I’d put guys names in as if they checked it out as a joke), I did a whole lot of pearling.  I did have some success when my friend took the helm.  He’d be at the back of the board to take it so I could crawl up tandem.  It was a fun summer, before my BF dumped me and I had to switch steets.

I gave up until after I graduated from college, when I was working at a swimwear store in Santa Monica Canyon.  The local guys there adopted me as their own and came by with a board for me after work.  They put me on a 9′ board, I hopped up right away.  One thing I always knew how to do was paddle and wave motion.  The waves at State Beach were a lot easier than Manhattan Beach, plus I had the support of a bunch of Malibu surfers who were impressed I could even paddle.  I was hooked!!  I bought a board and tried to surf every day.  I made a mistake though, I went from a 9′ board with the intention of getting better to go back to a short board at some point.  Same fatal mistake I made from when I was younger.  I bought a shorter board and couldn’t even get up…because by that time I was 5’9″ with a really slow hop up.  I switched jobs too, I started working at Nordstrom getting me off the beach.

That Christmas, I went surfing with my brother and his friends.  I was able to get past the break, then they would take off and I heard our friend screaming down the wave.  I thought, “I have no business out here if he’s scared.”  I waited for the lull and went in.

That summer I met my husband, moved to NorCal and quit surfing.  I became a suburban mom and took up golf, a sport that doesn’t require speed or a quick hop up.

When our boys were grown, for my 50th my husband asked what have I always wanted to do?  I said, “I’ve always really wanted to learn how to surf.”  He found a women’s surf retreat for me, Kristy Murphy’s surf retreats.  The first one I went to was in Mexico, I’ve also been to the Costa Rica and Hawaii retreats.  She gave me this soft board that was about 11′??  I affectionally called it the “Beastie board,” I couldn’t carry it alone.  I could barely paddle it once it got a little water logged.  What I could do was get up on it right away, my first ride in 20 plus years was an audience of legendary women surfers paddling out hooting at me.  What a welcome!!  I didn’t know who they were at the time, I found out at a party afterward.  Before the party, I PM’d one of my surfer friends with the names to see who they were.

At the party, I talked mainly to this woman Zuef.  Zuef was married to Frosty of “Mavericks” fame.  She talked about what it was like to be a step-mom to girls who had lost their mom while they were young.  This was before the movie came out, I didn’t know much about Frosty or that his first wife had died.  Zuef was battling bone cancer herself, their girls trip to Mexico was in her honor while she was still alive.  A few years later, she lost her battle too.  One of the take aways from that was how she had told me she could tell I had a great heart, I’ll always remember that observation by her of me when I’m down.  Other attendee’s were Linda Benson and Heather Hudson of “Women and the Waves” movies.

I continued going to these retreats for a few years, posting shamelessly on FB.  A friend from MB finally asked to join me on a Costa Rica trip.  One thing about growing up in MB that was hard is that everyone’s super model thin plus a killer athlete.  I’m a half ass athlete, no comparison to the girls I grew up with.  She had surfed with her dad as a kid, played Div 1 volleyball in college, I knew I’d be a little jealous.  Sure enough, she out surfed me after 2 shaky waves.  I felt like chopped liver, that I sucked.

Since that first trip, we went on quite a few others.  Some of my best waves were at a ranch in Mexico we took a boat to, that was a fun day!  I surfed really well for me.  Another was a right I caught in Hawaii, it seemed so effortless and went on forever.  I out paddled my friend for a wave and Kristy told me about it later.  I can’t see without my glasses, I didn’t even know she was going for it?  I’m a wimp, I’ll let the “better surfer” get the wave.  Her attitude towards the whole thing was that she didn’t think I’d get it, so she went for it.  She said that to me a few times, “I knew you wouldn’t get it”  as her apology for cutting me off… What a friend.

The last 3 times I’ve gone have been mini-disasters for one reason or another.  Hawaii was a huge storm and WAY too big for me.  I won’t go out if it’s too big, I have a healthy fear of mother nature.  I surfed 2 days of that trip.

The next time was in Mexico where the biggest bitch on the face of the earth happened to be.  She was an emergency room Dr. who deemed me irrelevant.  She was also “off duty,” I got tourista and broke my ribs.  I don’t mean “off duty” as a Dr., I mean as a human being.  When I came down in the morning to say that I couldn’t surf, I crawled back to bed for a day of pain from my ribs and passing out.  The morning was the only time I was even able to make it downstairs, we were the only ones staying at the Casita.  She never knocked on my door to see if I needed water, or was alive.  Kristy finally saved me with some gatorade and crackers that night or I wouldn’t have woken up the next morning.  Less people in the line up for the Dr. I guess?  God I hated that woman!  If we went to HS together I would have put her name in that library book as a kook.  I don’t care if you went to med school, if you talk down to people as non-existant then brag about hook ups on Tinder, I’m not going to like you more than you don’t like me.

My last attempt was almost 2 years ago now.  I went to Costa Rica with my friend and her now wife.  It was a few months after the Mexico fiasco, I guess my ribs hadn’t healed?  All went well until I had a minor fall forward, like a belly flop.  That’s what happened the first time, I figured I must have hit the board to do that kind of damage?  I never went to the Dr. though for x-rays, wasn’t even sure if I broke them?  I was out for the rest of the trip, it was such a bummer.  Then, of all things, I lost my drone 😦  I brought it down to film Kristy when she caught a mile long wave.  I designated my friends W as a spotter, but she was spotting my friend and not the drone.  Not to blame her, just that it was super annoying when I saw the palm leaf come up when I backed it up to see where it went.  I would have just pressed the home button, but I didn’t have enough battery to pop it back up and she wanted some footage of A.  I was looking through the FPV, not paying attention to the drone at all.  Never found it, everyone was pissed at me and suddenly drone experts.  The rest of the trip was painful ribs and me being the 5th wheel who was useless because I lost my drone.

So my surfing life might end?  When I did get back, I got the X-rays and a bone density test.  I have Osteopenia, which wouldn’t matter much if I didn’t do an extreme sport.  I’ve always been so strong, that’s been the hardest part of aging for me.  Never fast, always strong.  It took me forever to realize my weak points as an athlete.

I might try again, I just can’t be a wimp about what board I should be riding or have others who think they’re better than me intimidate me.  A few waves and a smoothie, that’s what I love about surfing.  Kristy & Cat were great!!  For that reason alone I might give it another go.  Or I can just leave it to my friend and her now wife?

The thing about surfing, piano, sailing, whatever people want to try is that it doesn’t matter who is the best.  My favorite surfing quote is the best surfer out there is the one who is having the most fun.  That would always be me 🙂

This is from Costa Rica, the best wave for me with no crowds:

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#costarica🇨🇷 #stillabeachgirl

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Now I’m really choking

Smoke in Walnut Creek on the worst day from my drone

After the first rain…

 

 

That smoke finally nailed me!!  Been down for days with chills and no voice.  It didn’t help that we haven’t changed our heater filter downstairs forever, I forgot we had a heater down there until our son moved back in.  They’ve been running it non-stop, it’s like I have legionaires or something??  Maybe it’s just a flu, it sure seems like the smoke.

I was out WAY too much in it without a mask.  The first day I was walking a reservoir a few miles when I saw the smoke as I came around.  It looked like the fire was in Walnut Creek or Concord there was that much smoke.  When I got home to google, I couldn’t find anything local.  It was from that Paradise fire about 150 miles away.

The next day we had a sail out on my boat.  Most of the people who show up for it are seniors, the smoke was really bad once I went through the tunnel and saw the San Francisco Bay.  We all met at my dock, I gave them the option to call it for health reasons but everyone wanted to still go for it.  There was no wind, we ended up motoring the whole way without any physical exertion.  Still, we got to Sam’s in Tiberon to be told we had to sit inside for the health of the staff.  That was about 5 hours in the smoke for me, all because I couldn’t call it.

We took one more walk around the reservoir before it got really bad.  By then, everyone was wearing masks.  That was the last day I was out until it rained to clear out some of the smoke.

On Saturday night there was a party I had RSVP’d to, but I felt like crap.  We made it for the dinner part, then left early because of a knot in my chest and my heart actually hurt. I finally called Kaiser on Sunday, they had me come in.  It’s the first time I’ve ever gone in for a flu type symptom, usually I figure if I want to get sick I go into a hospital.  I don’t know anything about smoke inhalation or not changing a filter.  The kind of a bitch of a nurse assured me it wasn’t the smoke?  That was like the manager at the restaurant I got food poisoning from lettuce telling me it wasn’t their lettuce that got me sick.  Whatever.

They gave me an inhaler, that untightened the knot in my chest.  A little surprised the Dr. didn’t use a stethoscope to check for… I don’t know?? Pneumonia??  The inhaler did help though.

Now I’m just weak and my  husband is down for the count.  I’m a few days ahead of him, just feel weak now with no voice.  Selfishly, I wanted to just lay in bed for this to be over with – I’m never sick.  I also never watch daytime TV, it totally caters to people laying in bed.  There’s a plethora of illnesses we might  not even know we have unless we go to the Dr. and ask for that specific drug.  With all the internet searches and the TV, it’s all an ad for drugs.  I’m guilty of jumping to the google, legionnaire conclusion.

It’s one thing to be in a warm house (with a new filter).  I can’t imagine what they’re doing in Paradise now that the town is leveled.  I totally disagree with that nurse, the illnesses from that smoke is about to kick in.  There’s the long term affects of us all smoking a cartoon a day of cigs in smoke, the first wave is going to be the illnesses it caused right away.  Who would have thought this would ever happen?

If this isn’t coherent, it’s because I’m not coherent yet.

I Choked

When is it that you just throw in the towel, admit defeat, decide that you truly suck at something?  A lot of cliche’s, they best describe how I’m feeling about my piano.

Every month I get together with some women, who could care less how I play, it’s just that I’d like them to not have to suffer through my piece either.  They’re really good, I won’t go unless I’ve had sufficient time to practice.  I can sight read, it’s not fluent like they’re able to do.  There’s no way I could just pick a piece of music up and play it in front of people.  The hardest part for me is to play in front of people, the first time I did it my fingers were shaking.

It just reminds me of my extreme stage fright as a kid and somehow powering through a recital.  My other stage fright was choir, I worked so hard one time to get the solo then choked during it.  It’s not just a matter of stage fright, no matter how much I practice someone else enters my body to render me frozen with a blank mind.  Even surfing, once that camera is on I can barely stand up!  The girls who run the camps told me that happens with the pro’s too during competition.  Some people come alive in the spotlight, I freak out.  Probably why I’m such a good friend to people who demand a spotlight?

My piece yesterday was Jazzy Jingle Bells, more advanced than my actual ability piece.  My new piano teacher thought I could pull it off.  I’ve been working on it all month, practicing every day.  Then when I played it in front of the group yesterday I really struggled.  At one point I almost got up and quit right there, the paper I printed out for the first page fell off the gorgeous Steinway (a piano made for a better player than I).  I sat down afterward to dig into the cookies.  I never eat the snacks before I play to avoid crumbs on the keys.

Afterwards we all chat about music, or anything that comes to mind.  The subject of how she got the Steinway grand came up.  Her husband’s friend is a Dr. who at one point decided to take up piano, bought the best, then got too frustrated and wanted to sell it.  Somehow that story made me feel a little better, the cookies didn’t hurt either.

Since I’ve experienced choking quite a few times in my life at this point, I’ve come to a few personal conclusions about it.

  1. No one cares
  2. Pick something that’s within my ability
  3. Give up on my dreams of being a senior rock star
  4. Keep playing, it’s supposed to be “fun.”

I tried to look up a youtube on someone playing this with no luck.  For copyright purposes, I can’t even put my pdf up of what I ordered.  The link to the sheet music site is here.  What I chose was the advanced version, part of my frustration even if I was playing it semi-decent at home.

My competitiveness is waning, the old Heller would just get pissed and become better.  This new version is ready to sell my piano.  Ahhh, but it’s raining and the only thing to do at home is either clean, play, or write?

Coffee & Black Friday

Besides the much needed rain, shopping wasn’t as bad as I expected.  This is probably the 1st Black Friday I’ve ever gone to, ONLY because my daughter in law is really excited about Christmas.  This will be her first Christmas, she’s from Turkey.  Her travel papers haven’t come in yet, she won’t be able to go home until they arrive.  She hasn’t seen her family since April when we had the big engagement parties both here and in Turkey.

While my son wanted to watch the over-rated Mickelson – Tiger Woods match,  I took one for the team and braved the rainy Black Friday with her.

Besides the line to just get in Lululemon (not a line I waited in), it didn’t seem that bad.  We only went to a few stores, I knew right away what I wanted to check out.  There’s a Nespresso store where they were discounted and I’ve been meaning to get one.  My coffee shop days are getting numbered, the service sucks and for the holidays, people suck.  I still go to Peet’s whenever I can, just not that Walnut Creek store.  At the one in Lafayette a guy cut in front of me rudely.  At the Coffee Shops  (a new chain) I’ve been trying to love they seem to get my drinks out last, it’s super annoying.  I never know whether I should ask at a certain point in case they lost my order or not?  When I finally watch everyone get their drinks that were behind me in line and ask, I feel like the bitch because NOW they’re working on my drink. One time at Peet’s when they did that they just said, “It happens” rudely while I waited & waited.  Granted, the customers are so high maintenance and WAY more important than me so  there’s that end of things too.  They just think good old Heller is going to sit tight while they cater to more demanding customers.  The other thing about the Coffee Shops is nobody gets it when I bring my own cup?  I bring it in not to waste cups, yet EVERY SINGLE TIME they forget my cup and put it into a to-go cup, completely defeating the purpose.

I should throw in that I don’t complain, I went to that Walnut Creek Peet’s for 20 years with the only complaint being they scalded my milk a few times.  I’d donate my books for an employee lending library, I was a good customer.   One of the girls that worked there was on my volleyball team when I coached.  She dropped out of high school, I bought her a bike to get to work at 5:30am.  They wiped out the staff last year, probably an effort to wipe out long term customers too and attract the pain in the ass crowd.  I left when they messed up my Costco GC’s, didn’t add the balance of the other cards, wouldn’t give me the cards back and told me to call customer service.  It should have been a 2 minute fix, instead it was a week of both customer service & the store employee treating me like I was a thief.

I’m throwing in the towel with coffee places and going to try to just make them at home, which I do from time to time with an old machine I have.  Thought I’d try the Nespresso for the instant gratification with both the milk and capsule at the press of a button.  I keep forgetting that Nespresso is actually Nescafe, basically it’s just popping instant coffee into a cool machine.  I just realized it this morning when I got my first cup.

The first time I had Nescafe was on a rooftop of our hotel in Europe somewhere after a long flight where I was trying to power it until at least 9p to adjust to the the time zone.  I was thinking “bleck.” and still drank it.  Regardless, I’m keeping the machine!  Just have to learn to love it, or put flavor in it, or something.

When I got it home, the box was all soggy from the rain.  There’s a handle for convenient carrying, only it was going to fall out from the bottom if I didn’t carry it right.  When I hooked it all up, it wasn’t pumping water for it’s first rinse out and there were no samples.  I spent last night chatting it up with customer service, who immediately said they would send me the missing capsules saving me another trip downtown.  It was so nice not to be accused of trying to get away with something!!  Then the second call was about the water not flowing through.  I guess you have to prime it, which I would have known if I would have looked at the manual.  They were so busy at the store, they probably forgot to tell me.  It seemed like I had a defective machine with a soggy box it wasn’t going to go back into.  In my world, I want to plug it in and press the button…walaa!  It took awhile, it finally worked when I opened and closed the capsule lid a few times, pushing that air bubble out.

Happy to get out, even in the rain, with all the smoke here the past few weeks.  The sky is clear today, have a few free weeks before Christmas with only weekend plans.  For my birthday, I bought myself a year parking pass to Lafayette Reservoir.  Looking forward to filling up my Yeti mug with my homemade latte for my Rez walks mentally preparing myself for Christmas…yay!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jump start my smokey brain

Been a rough week indoors with all the smoke, still not as rough as the people in Paradise.  I keep thinking it’s OK to go outside, then park to walk to lunch and can feel it in my throat.  My heart actually hurts?  Don’t know how to explain that besides it’s tight.

Overall, I’m pretty healthy and not too worried about the smoke besides not feeling well all week.  Rain is in the forecast, this should be over in a few days when my only worry will be cold and dark at 4pm.

Usually this time of year I go for a running start into the cold, dark days.  Kind of like riding your bike fast downhill to make it up the next hill with little effort.  I try to stay busy and outside because I know I’m going to be inside for months, I’m not a very productive indoors person.  This smoke is like putting the brakes on for that uphill climb through Winter and having to walk your bike up the hill with flat tires instead.

Yes, I try to gear myself up to avoid seasonal depression (SAD).  Not to be Debbie Downer, just that Christmas coincidentally is a few days after the shortest day of the year.  Sometimes I wonder if bright lights and gift giving isn’t a way to just get us out of the house to look forward to something?  A big party on New Years to get us out of the house with friends.

The short little ebooks (on drones & golf)  I wrote in Tahoe when I was stuck indoors, just to give me a project.  My drone work was weather permitting, that got me through a few Winters just because there used to be so much trouble shooting involved.  I’ve passed that all on to my husbands engineering firm, there are 2 drone pilots there now.

This is the first year I haven’t actually had a job, my time is my own.

I can do one of those cheesy “5 things to get you through seasonal depression.”

  1.  Stay outside as much as possible while the weather is still decent (I’ve already blown that one).
  2. Stock up on home projects, like cleaning the closet or drawers for 15 min a day.  Then write a to-do list to replace items like light bulbs, moth balls, stuff that forces you to get out and go to a store.  We’ve lived here for 20 years, it’s a Winter project.
  3. Organize all your photos for Christmas gifts – another huge project.  When was the last time you had prints made?  I have digital photos all over the place, on several computers/CD/USB/Cards.  Nothing is in one place, there’s no more room on this particular laptop I’m writing on.  Yesterday I made an attempt and uploaded my film cards to Shutterfly, which BTW has unlimited storage.  They also automatically suggest photo gifts.
  4. Plan a trip to look forward to, like surfing in Mexico in Jan.
  5. Get outside no matter once at least once a day, even if it’s pouring.  The gym, a coffee shop, anywhere!

This list is mostly for me, I’m excluding holiday shopping only because the parking and people out for the holidays makes me lose faith in humanity & doesn’t help the cause.  I’m just not a shopper.

Other things on my personal list is writing, either another mini ebook just to practice writing or continuing this blog.  Sometimes I get how Stephen King thought of the idea of “Misery.”  Maybe it takes being totally stuck doing nothing else but writing while you lay around getting limbs cut off?  Kidding, certainly being house bound is WAY too much free time!!  Free time is not my friend.

 

Didn’t mean a fire storm!!

My last post was titled “Calm before the Storm,” meaning the holidays.  This week NorCal has been socked in with fires and smoke.  That Paradise fire affected almost all of NorCal, even hundreds of miles away.  It’s the worst fire in California history, the death toll keeps rising.

We’ve just been nailed with fires all year, then come the mudslides.  Last year my in-laws house in Ojai was in jeopardy, firefighters were able to save Ojai Valley before it jumped father down.

All summer I drove through a ton of smoke on I-5, driving through a controlled fire right on the freeway guided by CHP.  When we filmed this clip, we didn’t know it was controlled yet & understandably freaked out.

Now this Paradise fire, which is truly devastating in so many ways.  My friend made a trip up with supplies yesterday in a campaign on FB.  The request was for mainly gift cards, blankets, hygiene supplies.  It was interesting, I shared her post and asked if anyone wanted to drop off with me I would get the items to her in Modesto – I didn’t get one response?  The day before I asked if there was a donation station in Walnut Creek and got maybe 2 responses.  At first I thought everyone blocks me on FB and was a little pissed.  Now I think that FB blocks “non-sponsored” fundraisers, a Go Fund Me would have made my feed.

Regardless, we went out and got a bunch of GC’s in $25 to $50 increments from Walmart and Target for her to deliver.  I had some warm blankets, bought a bunch of trial size hand sanitizer .  Looking for useful camping supplies in the garage I found a propane heater I used to use for golfing on cold mornings, so I threw that in with some propane bottles.  Other than that, I didn’t want to out-guess what supplies would be more useful than just GC’s.

I first noticed the air quality last Friday when I took a group out on the boat, mostly seniors.  We stood at the dock wondering if it should be a no-go, everyone voted to go for it.  Besides some short outings, I’ve been indoors ever since with a sore throat and teary eyes.  OK, that’s nothing compared to being homeless in Paradise, it’s just to say how bad the air quality is here.  A few days of a sore throat is nothing.

This picture & the cover are from the start of the bad air quality last Friday, then some drone footage of Walnut Creek from yesterday.
IMG_2015

 

If I’m right about FB blocking me on the newsfeed, that’s a whole other blog.  I could very well be persona non-grata in Walnut Creek, or everyone is just “over” FB.  If that’s the case, my prediction of FB is it’s going to go out as fast as it came in.

The best way to donate is through the American Red Cross disaster.  This is linked to their txt donation instructions. 

 

 

Calm before the Storm

Which would be the holidays coming full steam ahead like a train wreck.  October is always a really busy, but fun, month for me topped off with WAY too much sugar and my birthday.  Now it’s just recouping from the sugar rush/acne breakout to think about Thanksgiving & Christmas.

If last week was all about getting through my Halloween birthday with my mom, this week is trying to pull myself together from the crash.  Daylight savings kind of helps actually, I can sleep in and appear to be an early riser.

For my 56th year, I scheduled a facial/movie/hair dye day.  When I got home I was all achy from a cold I guess?  My body just kind of said, FU- you need a break.  Good timing, what I was really hoping for was a break in some relaxing location besides my full house.  Don’t feel good enough to go anywhere even with my planned free time.

Instead, I lay here writing trying to think of goals for my 2nd year into senior citizenship.

I do have a confession, in general I’m very healthy.  When I don’t feel well I might as well be on my death bed.

So my “free” week has been spent trying to relax, think about Christmas, looking up “meetups” for groups I might be interested in.  I found a photography & coffee meetup group I signed up for, we’ll see how that goes.  I checked out a sewing shop in Berkeley that had a long arm quilting machine they rent after taking their 3 hour class.  It was a cool studio workshop, I was the youngest one in there.  Not by much, I’m just not ready to be 100 years old quite yet.  I still think of myself as a surfer girl, not put out to bingo pasture.

Are you really as young as you feel?  My Vo2 score puts me at about 35 (whatever that means).  If it weren’t for my back and breaking my ribs surfing, I’d feel a lot more confident about moving forward.  I am terrified of my back going out!  It happens in a split second and I can’t move until the relaxants kick in.  Then it takes over a month to recover, I sported a cane last time just to walk for a few days.

The other thing I’d like to focus on is writing again just to make this a more interesting blog instead of my tales of aging woe.

To give an idea of my typical holiday enthusiasm, I’ve been known to Amazon next day clicking the gift wrap button on December 23rd.  Last year we pulled up in Las Cruces Christmas Eve, hitting Home Depot for a tree they just gave us because they were closing in 5 min.  My husband got me an Amazon GC at the grocery store for my gift.  I actually thought ahead and brought wrapped presents, which was good or there would have been no presents under the tree.  My son got us tix to see Star Wars, where I got a $10 nap in 🙂  That’s how we roll.