Saturday, August 1, 2020

I saw this guy on the deck last week. It was pretty cool, watching him move ever so slowly. He seemed to move one segmented joint at a time. It was fascinating to watch. I love seeing the creatures of the world from a safe distance. One bug I hope to never see again is the Japanese Beetle. They are so beautiful yet so destructive. The dragonflies, and butterflies are welcome!

August is month with a lot happening. School again (we think), and I don’t envy parents at all. I think our children will be behind where they should be if remote learning would continue for an extended period of time. I don’t think our grandkids are finding enough challenge in the work assigned and I’d hate them to lose out on some critical learning as Addison is in eighth grade and Gavin is in third. They are both very bright and need to be challenged.

Goldie has a blast with butterflies. She could have stood there watching this one for hours. I love showing puppies and babies to watch butterflies. Dragonflies are a lot harder, they move very quickly.

Another August event I’m looking forward to is working with a company to set up a new website for the VFW Post 2503. I’m involved in maintenance on the old one (probably twenty years old), and it is in serious need of an update. It needs to be done, and I’m glad for what I’ll get to learn about WordPress. I can use the knowledge to add pages to my website, and the blog will continue to be one page of many. As I get closer to finishing my book, I’ll add pages to my website.

The Babe and I couldn’t find anything to watch on TV last night, so we watched an Amazon Prime movie, “Fathers and Daughters.” It was quite sad. The daughter was very young when her mother died in a car accident. The father was a writer (go figure!), and mentally ill/struck with seizures after the accident, loss, and having a child to help. He went to a mental hospital for seven months, had ECT (Electric Current Therapy) and other therapy, and returned to raise his daughter. It paralleled his life with hers. She had little understanding how to have a personal relationship with anyone else. She was a social worker, helped a little girl who lost her mom, yet couldn’t commit to her boyfriend. It was a weird story to track. At the end, there was this beautiful song: “Fathers and Daughters Never Say Goodbye.” Yes, it’s a tear jerker. It makes me miss my dad.

Sometimes, it seems as if it’s silly to still miss him after all these years. I have already lived longer than he did. He was cheated out of enjoying his retirement by that tyrant, cancer. I miss his support. Not a “good job,” kind of guy. More of a, “keep doing what you’re doing, and you’ll get there,” kind of guy. He’s still with me. And that is all I need to know.

I have a lot of work to ready and send to my book coach for this week’s conference (Thursday morning). For some reason, it seems to just jump at me from nowhere. Lots to do, so cutting this a little short. Have a beautiful day. It’s cloudy, but you can make it sunny in your heart. Be Kind. Be Courteous. Be Safe. Help someone. Hold the door open. Small things add up. You’ll feel better, too. I appreciate you reading today. I’ll see you tomorrow, and we’ll catch up. Be careful out there.

Tuesday Morning

Hi, folks! It’s going to be another hot, humid day in Gretna, Nebraska here at the home office. It’s another Gavin day, too. We pick him up for lunch, drop his sister off at dance, hang out awhile, then take him home when Dad gets home from work. Ballgame tonight. I’m so happy he feels more comfortable with his team and understands he’s learning skills and the more he plays and practices, the better he’ll be. Dad and Mom are doing a great job helping him learn it won’t happen overnight. I do believe with his natural talent, and playing/practicing with his team, and more home coaching with Dad, he’ll be a great player some day.

I have to laugh at how the grandkids of a certain age (7 – 8) talk incessantly!) Addison used to say, “Grandma, guess what?” then share what she needed. Gavin is funny. He says, “Grandma, can I tell you something?” Not sure what he’d do if I said, “NO!” I just can’t do that to the kid.

I need to be pinning and quilting!

Today, I’m taking a break from writing except for this blog. Going to finish prepping my poppy quilt, which I haven’t revisited for a month or more. There are just not enough hours in a day to finish things. The mornings we don’t have Gavin, we may linger a little longer on the deck with coffee. It’s the best time of the day. The dogs are quiet. The day is just beginning. There is a lot of promise for the next 24 hours. There may be a nice breeze, blue skies. Birds singing. It’s great. I love it so much, it’s like being on vacation at a rental cabin. We were so lucky to find this house. I hope we can stay here for many, many years.

I have to say, I’m going to miss our neighbors when they move. We had some moving boxes Dan offered to them, the kind from Home Depot, that break down nicely. It’s getting real, now that the boxes are going to be filled. This couple is about our ages, and I hope we can keep in touch when they relocate. They are fun to talk with and have been so patient with our dogs. You can’t get better than that!

It seems I’ve “arrived.” I’m on someone’s snail mail list for “Professional Writers.” La-de-dah! There is a magazine called Poets and Writers, I can subscribe on the cheap. Might be worth looking at. I can always not renew. I have to confess, I don’t think I’m a good e-reader. It’s just not a magazine or book. I need it in my hands. I love the portability of a magazine or book. I know, I can carry 80k more on my Kindle. Well. Maybe I’ll do that someday.

It seems Lee Gutkind, the author of “You Can’t Make This Stuff Up” is also the founder/editor of “Creative Nonfiction Magazine.” This is another one I think would be very informative. Might look at a year’s worth of it, too. It’s all deductible. Why not? Gutkind explains things succinctly, something an author of creative nonfiction needs to achieve. Say more with less. Say it better with less. I need to learn that.

I love this kid!

Thank you for reading today. This is brief, we’re leaving to get the G-man so he can tell us stuff. You know, the heart of an 8 year old if open and totally honest. Wouldn’t miss it for the world! I’ll be here again tomorrow, see you then! Be Kind. Be Thoughtful. Wear a mask, Wash up.

Saturday Fun

Saturday already! Wow, more ball games for Gavin, but we have a banquet to attend tonight. It’s for The Honor Guard at VFW Post 2503. They are the largest Post in the state, and I believe they do the most funerals with military honors. This past week they had seven funerals. That’s a lot for young guys, however, the age of most guys is over the age of 70. Always looking for a few good men, so please spread the word! You must be a veteran of a foreign war, honorable discharge, have a DD214, and a join the Post. Males or females welcome.

What I love most about the Honor Guard is their camaraderie the guys have. All veterans seem to share that, and I love to see it in action. When the Babe had his quad bypass surgery, I couldn’t tell you how many of them called and told me (during his recuperation) if we needed something, just let them know. I trusted them to keep an eye on him when he went back to his duties. Their concern has stayed with us even six years later. They’ve all been through the ischemic heart disease in all of it’s glory (remember Agent Orange), so they understand. It’s a wonderful group of friends.

Our next door people are moving by the 30th. They’ve been such perfect neighbors. They have grown kids and they all drive. No noisy teens gathering around causing trouble (we’ve had that before, believe me). It’s been so quiet. The house may go up for sale, and I know it won’t last long. The other neighbors didn’t, and neither did ours three and a half years ago. Gretna is a small town right now, 5K population, but many of us haven’t been annexed yet. I understand that usually happens after the debt of the SID is paid down.

Funny thing, as kids if we couldn’t spell a word, Dad always said, “Look it up!”

We’d ask him, “How can you look it up when you don’t know how to spell it?”

He would reply, “Do your best to sound it out, then look. You might not find it right away, so just use the time to learn a few new words. You’ll find it eventually.”

I laugh about this now, because I just tried to look up camaraderie and it was NOT in the dictionary I was using. Can you believe it? I had to Google it. I don’t mind looking words up, it’s a good refresher and way to keep your brain sharp. Old fashioned? Sure, why not? Old school is more like it.

The flowers are looking so nice. It makes the work worth it, doesn’t it? Important tidbit about a common outdoor plant, Hostas. The grow profusely without a lot of effort. Great in shade or sun, depending on the variety. I googled them today, to see if they are poisonous to dogs. Yes, very poisonous, as it happens. For some reason, Goldie will pull a couple out by the roots and eat them. They have a sticky substance that expands in the gut, and can cause all sorts of problems. The Babe is going to put a chicken wire fence around them to keep her safe. Can’t have our girl get sick from something so simple. Be safe, secure your Hostas from your dogs.

Writing is sometimes a challenge. No, not for ideas or words. I’m talking about while Goldie thinks I’m her personal playmate. Throw the ball, I may just get my chair back to the desk before she brings it back. Sheesh! It’s a good thing I’m not doing NaNoWriMo.

For those who don’t know, NaNoWriMo is “National Novel Writing Month.” The goal is to write 40K words. I succeeded last year, and have the t-shirt to show for it. It’s free participation. Blogging counts. I wrote the bulk of “These Walls DO Talk” during that time, so I did produce a lot. At times, folks don’t produce a lot that is useable after all is said and done. I can certainly see where having an outline, a plan, and following it would help.

I’ve learned that people who don’t outline or plan are “pantster” writers. Yep, “by the seat of their pants.” With the idea in my head, it seemed as if it would be no problem at all to follow the map in my mind, and automatically end up where I could type “the end.” I am becoming convinced outlining may be a better way to go. The outline can be modified while writing, so I would need to be flexible with it. What I don’t want to do it write myself into a corner with no way out.

I’ve read either way is acceptable, with some very famous writers never outlining. Until I get the hang of it, I’ll commit more to planning than just an idea to run with. Some of this will start this weekend, and continue into early next week. I’m planning what to do when for July and August, since I’ll be working with my book coach. Another new adventure! Retirement is not for the faint of heart after all.

I was amazed by an article I read last night in the current issue of Writer’s Digest. It discussed being a travel writer. The article stated you do not have to travel to the places you write about. I would think that could be a drawback, since for me a new place has sounds and smells and music all of it’s own. Sure, you could regurgitate information about those things from other articles on the same places, but would it be as effective? I’m voting no, what do you all think? Leave a comment in the Comment Section, below, please! Convince me I’m wrong. To me, you can’t review a show or restaurant if you don’t attend of dine there, how can you tell what it’s like to travel to a place you have never been?

This afternoon, we’re taking it easy. Since we’ll be out later, it’s a sure thing we’ll need to. It’s going to be hot and humid this afternoon. Be careful out there! Thanks for reading today, I appreciate it a lot. I’ll be back later in the day tomorrow, Mom and I have an early wedding shower to attend. It’ll be great to see my cousins again.

Swinging Saturday!

Yeah! Gavin started playing ball last night in his Youth League. They have a tournament all weekend. Nothing like going big or going home! I’m excited about this for many reasons. I love baseball. I love when kids get to learn and play. I love this team because his dad, our son-in-law, is one of the coaches. From what I hear, he was quite the player in his day. Never got to see him play, but I’ve heard the stories. Good ones, of course. His dad is a good father to both the kids, and a terrific son in law. We have three great ones, TJ, Aaron, and Brian.

So if the rain holds off, we may get to go to the game later on. Addison is back at dance now, and she’s enjoying seeing her friends. I don’t think there are many girls in her neighborhood to hang out with, so she’s glad to have human contact again. While it’s all good now, I’m concerned about what will happen later, in October and November. Just praying and taking precautions for now.

I am having some challenges with the office help this morning. Letting them in. Letting them out. Getting them water. Right now, a squeaking squirrel is making it’s way up my thigh, complete with bad doggie breath making it a little warm in here. And now, here is the dinosaur, doing the same. If I stop writing and go to the living room to sit with them, they go to sleep. Can’t win, but I can laugh while I’m doing it. Finally, twenty minutes later and she found a place to lay down and nap. Lexie prefers the couch. In fact, she knows the word “couch.” Funny what we do for our pets.

I am writing a scene/point page for my new story about a girl who has to find courage to leave her unhappy marriage. She is discovering many resources to help her leave, she just has to be vigilant to make sure she sees them, and has the courage to act on them. The more she discovers, the more there is to discover. I think life works this way. The scenes are major events she experiences, and the points are the way she feels about the experiences.

I’m beginning to think ideas are full of fluffy, filler words. It’s a real challenge to tone them down and not make the meaning difficult to find. I think we speak with a lot of filler words, and tend to try and write that way, too. Quite different from business writing. Then it’s the facts, summarized for an executive in fewer words. Almost as if they don’t want to waste their time knowing what goes into researching what they ask us to, then only wanting to know the important things.

And technical writing is really precise, with all the details, and sometimes hard to understand. Learning ASSEMBLER computer language was so painful. I attended a two night per week school and my younger son had his appendix rupture during that time. He required emergency surgery and I missed two of twelve classes. He nearly died. I almost didn’t pass the class, too. Neither of these things happened, thankfully. Never want anything so awful again. Either that class or one of my kids nearly dying.

This is going to be an afternoon I need a little nap, so I’m heading that way. Hope you have a wonderful rest of your Saturday. Thank you for reading, I appreciate your support. Wash your hands. Wear your mask, thank you. Call your mom. Be a good example. Share a smile with someone. Listen.

Thinking About Thursday

This Plant Needs Prayers!

Our beautiful pure-bred hunting dog must be a vegetarian or something. She mangled about four plants this week. I suppose it’s my fault for trusting her too much. She’s a puppy, still. And now, she’s sleeping peacefully on the floor by me while I write and it rains outside. All is right with the world.

She’s Sleeping Near the Bag of Coloring Supplies.

It started out a beautiful day, right now, the clouds are rolling in. It’s still a beautiful day and when the rain comes in, I’ll be grateful to not have to water. Even the plant Goldie tried to eat. Well, I guess she DID eat it.

I am so happy to have these two dogs for companionship. They are great company and comfort, even if they just nap in the room I occupy at any given moment. They are powerful creatures. They sense everything about us. Earlier this week, Lexie didn’t like Goldie tugging at a toy Gavin was going to throw for fetch. Lexie walked over in between them and gave a low, throaty growl, ever so quietly. Goldie let go. Gavin threw the toy, Goldie fetched, Lexie walked away and laid down again. She watches her people, and I love that about her.

I had a great conversation with my book coach Sam this morning. We have developed a plan for July and August. I’m taking a slightly different path in as much as I’m writing a different story over these two months, and will check in regularly to discuss the progress or lack thereof. If you’d like to read about Sam, here is a link to her website. You’ll hear a lot more about Sam and our work later in the summer.

Today is a day filled with significant birthdays! In addition to being Sir Paul McCartney’s birthday, it’s my older brother’s birthday and Dan’s younger sister’s birthday. Tom Jewell and Linda Ulmer, Happy Birthdays! Hope you both have a great day. Don’t need to wish Sir Paul one, after all, he’s Paul McCartney!

It seems the food industry is rebranding several products we have used for decades and probably not realized their packaging was racist. Aunt Jemima is having a makeover. I suppose it must be done. For years, I haven’t given it a thought using these products. I thought the updating done last was just like the Betty Crocker image on packaging, cook books, and other items. Were women offended by an old fashioned representation on the cook books? I don’t remember.

Uncle Ben and the cook on Cream of Wheat simply told me they were pictures on a package. No different than any other picture. And now, things will change. Will it change the violence in the streets? Most likely not. But those offensive photos will no longer be staring out from shelves in the stores. So be it.

Sometimes I can’t help but think there needs to come a point where we stop being offended. Where we stop pointing fingers and placing blame, and sit down and formulate a plan to just stop all of this. Both sides. Just stop it! Start respecting each other, just because God created all of us. Then work on being better humans. As you work together, and have frank discussions, you will grow in respect of each other. And yourselves. Do something that’s never been done. Admit there is fault on both sides. Quit being the stereotypes we all hate. The bad cop. The bad punk. The gangster. The professional rioter. Talk to each other. Talk with each other. Listen to each other. Listen to hear. Hear and act. Act in a rational manner. Make the change you want for everyone. Teach your children how to respect and behave, not show attitude and bad behavior.

We have plans to watch Gavin play ball over the weekend. Being a tournament, there are quite a few games to get in. And of course, the forecast is calling for a whole bunch of rain. It wouldn’t be a ball tournament without it!

I also have a lot of writing things to accomplish in the next three weeks. It will be a great way to spend time, and a great way to move forward with my projects. A plan and a partner work well together. I’m looking forward to it.

Thank you for reading today. I appreciate your time. It rained quite nicely here, and now appears to be dreary for the rest of the day. Perhaps dreary and rain is what my Goldie – relocated plants needs to come back to life. I’ll see you tomorrow! Stay safe. Wash your mask before you wear it again! Wash your hands. Be a good example. Teach your children well.

Wild Wednesday

Hello, friends. I hope you are all having a great Wednesday. Gavin is hanging out with us today. He told me he is sure Goldie was upset he wasn’t with her yesterday, that’s why she dug out my flowers from the pots sitting on the patio. Grrrrr! Naughty puppy! I love how Gavin explains things. We should all think like an 8 year old. The world would be a better place.

After enjoying milk and doughnuts, we talked awhile, and I started to look at another homework assignment for my novel. I’m not quite finished, but decided I also needed to blog, too. What a busy day to have a huge headache! I’m sure it’s allergies and from the constant wind this week.

There is more and more on the news that I’m beginning to not listen to for the negativity. I know there is a problem for some police and some black men. I believe in those cases they both could have an attitude, then it becomes a contest between egos. Things escalate and someone dies. No one wins this, friends. No one at all. I believe there needs to be retraining on the part of the police. I believe a lot can be done on the part of citizens. Be respectful. Both of you. Don’t do things that are illegal (shouldn’t even have to mention this, really). There was a young person with over 100 arrests who purposely shoved a 92 year old woman down. She had a head injury, as her head bounced off the fire hydrant near her when she fell. Totally wrong. Uncalled for. I hate people on the attack for no reason whatsoever.

Systemic racism has been mentioned a lot in the past week. What is it? I had no idea. I had to look it up. I read it is how racism permeates the fabric of American life. Statistics are given on post WWII housing purchases by white veterans. Many, many purchased homes. Black veterans were denied access to the neighborhoods that were white, and many never applied for loans for that reason. There was no data mentioned about from 1965 until 2015. I would think in that 50 year span of time there would be many, many more black veterans who were able to purchase in “white neighborhoods” because it is now illegal to discriminate in housing. I’d like to see those statistics now and see how they have changed. I can only guess there has been strides made in that aspect.

Education? From where I sit, I see public education as a resource that all races need to take advantage of. School is generally free, and perhaps we live where the quality of “black” schools is not less than the quality of “white” schools. We have had busing since the 1970s, shouldn’t that have made some progress? It’s been a long time since I had a child in school, but I believe there were more programs available in the public school system than in private schools. How about the exclusively black colleges? Don’t they help even the odds? Those are some prestigious institutions.

Discrimination in hiring is also against the law. I think there have been many, many changes brought about over the past 50 years. Don’t those count at all? I know, there should be more. I pray there will be. Better homes, food sources, schooling, work that we will all work hard to attain. We must work hard to get there on an individual basis. A kid with 100 arrests is seriously off the tracks. Where did that happen? Why is it allowed to continue?

I have no cures for social ills. They were here long before my time. They will be here long after I’m gone. What I’d like people on all sides have is hope. Hope backed up with hard work. Reliability. Being on time. The good feeling of earning a day’s honest pay for a day’s honest work. Not the quick buck earned on the street hustling or selling drugs or shoplifting. Don’t be a stereotype. Be the exception. Be what people don’t expect.

And to the police: don’t you be a stereotype either. Listen to people in your precinct. Build a relationship with them. Be the exception. Get the kid on the corner information about joining a technical education program at the community college in their neighborhood. Be an example. Be a Kerry Orosco. Care about the kids. You will make an impact in their lives. Let’s all start today.

Thank you for reading today. Let’s all do what we can to be an example. Not only to our kids, but to the community. It’s going to help us save America. Do it for your kids. And the community. I’ll see you all tomorrow. Be an example.