Happy Valentine's Day

This is a big day for “love” and “lovers”. And card companies, and chocolate makers, retailers everywhere. A huge part of the population sometimes feels as if they are less than the rest of us who happen to have partners of one kind or another.

I remember being single on this day. I remember sitting at work while everyone in the office received flowers from their someone. Everywhere. Flowers. Candy. Cards. Stuffed Animals and Balloons, all sorts of things. I felt less than desirable, less than loved, and soldiered on to get through the day. I was always glad it was over. Being in a relationship and marriage, now it’s so different. Sometimes we forget to get a card for each other, it’s all good. Each and every day, we demonstrate the love we were lucky enough to find with each other. I remember those long, lonely years. And I know some day we will face losing our partner. And we will experience another kind of lonely.

God was very good to both of us. For all of you who are single by chance or by choice, it gets better. You will find someone who is perfect for you. Make sure you keep your standards high and don’t let your lonliness lead you to a bad relationship decision. The worst mistakes I have made were made out of lonliness. Think more highly of yourself. The lonliness will pass. The best company you can have is yourself. Once you are comfortable being alone, you will be better off. Trust me, it doesn’t last forever.

I do believe blind dates still have a place in our world today. I don’t think I’d be a good candidate for online dating if I were single. Too many lies. I’ve been lied to in person more than had truths told. I don’t want to be lied to electronically. The Babe is the first man I ever met who told the God’s honest truth all the time. That took a little getting used to. And now, I would expect it rather than just hope for it. That is what happens when you learn to value yourself. It’s the best lesson I’ve learned in my life.

Today, Mom had another good day at therapy. It’s helping a lot more than she realizes, and I think it’s good for her to get out more frequently than she has been. Sunday we get to have a new adventure at a family wedding shower. First time for Mom going to a winery. First time for everything.

Thank you for reading today, I’m grateful you stopped by. I will be here again tomorrow, please stop by. It’s always great to see old friends. Give your single friends a hug.

Hug your friends today. They need to be loved, too!

Wednesday & Thursday

The overcase skies yesterday resembled what I would call “snow skies.” It feels dampish, dark, and looks like a snowstorm will happen later. In some ways, I hope it does. I’d love to have to stay home tomorrow. Yesterday was Hamburger Night at the VFW, and our usual gathering time with our friends. Simple enough, yet rich with memories. Good memories of good friends.

It has occurred to me lately how many friends we have lost. I have a number of them from my cell phone contacts and Facebook friends. Many more lie in the pages of my address book. It’s amazing how you just no longer have that person or those people in your life. Friends and family, then a memory. It’s all the more reason to be kind. You never know how long you’ll have these people in your life so make the most of it.

Once the Babe and I do our household tasks, it’s so freeing to decide what we’d like to spend time on the rest of the day. After doing this blog, I think I’ll read more of Margaret Lukas’ River People. It’s about life in Nebraska in the 1890s and are a glimpse into what women endured in that era. Anyone who lived through the hardships the prarie presented to them had a story, that is for sure. We are so fortunate to live in a time of equality. Yes, we still have some wrongs to right, but we are not where we were in the 1890s.

Have you ever watched REELZ channel on Direct TV? They have real life autopsies on celebrities which are kind of interesting. They also have a series called, “I Lived with a Killer.” Today the story is about a mob killer and it’s amazing how deep down evil those guys are. The wife and one daughter of this guy plot to put drugs and poison in his meatloaf to kill him. What a very tangled and messed up life the families had. Psychological abuse is one of the very worst things to inflict upon another person and this man was a master at it.

Evil has existed since the dawn of time. It is an inevitable thing in the world. So many people who couldn’t overcome a bad environment, or who just fell in with the wrong people are victims of themselves often. I find it sad, although many kids come from a terrible environment and somewhere, someone inspires them to break a cycle. Breaking out a cycle of family dysfunction is extremely difficult. Often your family or origin doesn’t see the dysfunction. You may be accused of thinking you’re better than they are. That isn’t the case, you simply want something different for your life. Settling isn’t what you want to do. It is no reflection on them, it’s just not in you to go along to get along.

The dysfunction doesn’t need to be evil. Any change or attempt to improve will boggle the minds of some in your family. Just expect it. If it doesn’t happen, you are fortunate. The dysfunction could be domestic violence. It could be alcoholism. It could be opiod abuse. I am from a family that has many alcoholics on both sides. I don’t think it was uncommon for men returning from WWII and Korea to drink. To drink too much. At that time in our history, men were expected to be “manly.” To not show tenderness, weakness, upset, and not to question what they did during the war. They were soldiers, and they were following orders. My own dad was in the medic corp. He was out running around on the battlefield with another guy and a stretcher to retrieve the wounded. He saw many, many horrors of war. He wasn’t even twenty years old. He returned home for six years, and was called up to do the same thing in Korea. Patching up the wounded, hoping they’d make it home. He did drink when he returned home, but not excessively once he married Mom. They probably couldn’t afford it.

The bad memories didn’t go away, they became part of his normal life. An aunt asked him what the Concentration Camps were like. He said, “I’m not going to talk about it, but here’s a book to read. This will tell you better than I can.” He was awesome taking care of my kids when they were sick and I had to work. He recorded temps, times of medications, etc. It was great. Somehow, he learned to live with his thoughts. Never a teetotaler. He just relaxed if he drank, and was very funny. I’m lucky I didn’t grow up in a home where violence lived.

And by now, it’s Thursday, late morning. I’m working on this blog, then more editing and writing on my book. I’m so glad to have a day at home to try and catch up. We still have some rearranging after the painters finished, and I’m glad that big job is done. It is quite cold outside now, five above zero, and the feels like is -9. Sunny and clear, but wow, It’s cold.

Thank you for reading today, I appreciate it. We returned home a little too late for me to post yesterday, so sorry about that. I’m working on editing again today. It is coming along. We become impatient sometimes while waiting for the process to take care of itself, and yet, here we are, busy everywhere and not having the time to finish a thought. It will even out when Mom’s finished with therapy at the end of April, I’m hoping. I will return tomorrow, this time I’m certain.

Toned Down Tuesday

Mom reported back to Balance and Strength Class today. She was glad to get back to it. She needed a boost today, was out of sorts, but felt better after the class was over. Then she felt like doing more than just going home. Hobby Lobby, there we went!

It serves as an outing and an indoor walk, so she was happy but tired by the time we were finished. I feel badly for older folks. Will I have anyone to get me out when I’m 90? Gosh, I hope so. I am sure I’ll need help, everyone does. Maybe it’ll be grandkids, or stepdaughter, or my son who lives in town. I’m certainly not worried or concerned about it, but hope I’m still a vital human by that time.

The painters finished up today. There’s something fresh and new about new colors and a clean start. Kind of early spring cleaning. now to get new accessories. Artwork, maybe an art quilt, stuff, and more stuff. This is the fun part. Photos to follow.

No writing today, but lots of thoughts about the book. I’m creating dialogue to tell parts of the story, as this is supposed to be more readable and relatable. It makes the whole story different. Hope to hit it again earlier tomorrow, in between an appointment for the Babe and just putzing around the house. I found another couple of books at Hobby Lobby today, Calligraphic Drawing, and Creative Lettering Companion. I’m all about books at bargain prices, and these were discounted deeply.

I also started reading a new book, River People, by Margaret Lukas. She is a fellow Nebraska Writers Guild member. The story is set in Nebraska in the late 1890s. It should be a great read, if you’d like to learn more about it, it is available on Amazon.

This week is the big holiday that was invented by the Romans to celebrate love. There are all sorts of definitions and origins if you Google Valentine’s Day, and you can believe what you’d like. While I was still single, I was amazed at the vast number of women who received (delivered) bouquets of roses at work. When the vases were delivered, other women would ask, “From your husband?” The answer was a mixture of sarcasm and bitchiness, “He knows better than to forget.” Wow. Is that the way to show love, expect it as a show to other women? I love to receive flowers. These days, if I see a pretty bouquet at the store, I’ll buy it. The babe and I both can enjoy the blooms, and it’s a good pick me up for the house during gloomy days.

It’s been a couple of long days here at Raabe Ranch. Even the dogs are extra tired. It should get back to normal in a day or two here. Just glad to have a head start on spring sprucing up and all the wonder that goes with it. I would bet we get a snowstorm or two before spring really arrives, but it won’t last too long. Famous last words, right? Thank you for reading today, I hope to see you again tomorrow.

Sunny Saturday

When you live in the midwest, anytime the temperature is above twenty, it’s not windy, and the sun is out, it’s like a fine summer day upon us. People are nice to each other, the stores are a little less crowded, the grocery stores are pretty much sold down in inventory. Maybe they are planning cook outs? I’m not sure, but the shelves were oddly vacant today.

We just don’t eat at home a lot, so our “grocery list” is probably like a snack supply trip. Bagels and peanut butter for breakfast, with a yogurt, coffee, and we usually eat a late lunch/dinner out. The rest is lettuce for salad, cottage cheese for me, apples, carrots, and crackers and cheese for a snack. I used to fully stock the refrigerator for dinner every night, but we just ended up throwing so much away, it was not good. I think if you eat a balanced diet, the rest will take care of itself. We both could lose several pounds, so I don’t think we’re in danger of malnutrition. I’m just not that hungry anymore. For anything. It might be an aging thing??

I’d rather have lighter fare than restaurant luncheon items. Burger and fries? Maybe once a week, no more often. Tacos? Maybe once a week. I would eat a small steak and salad, or pork chops and a potato. Baked potatoes are great, especially loaded. I like sweet potatoes baked with a dash of sugar and cinnanom. delicious. I’ve never seen the thing about smoothies. To me, it’s just mushing everything up, and sometimes there is so much sugar added. I like the purity of raw fruits and like to eat them as such. Veggies the same way. The closest to natural the better.

We have a birthday in the family on Monday. Addison will be thirteen. She was born on her Grandma Sandy’s birthday, which was really cool when it happened. Sandy lost a hard battle to lung cancer ten years ago. It was such a sad thing and we all think of her often. Sometimes I wonder what she would think of these wonderful grandkids of hers. I know she would love them to pieces. All three of them. All we can do is love the kids and tell them about their other Grandma. As long as we keep her alive in our conversations, she will live on.

It hasn’t been a good day for writing. When I start out late, it seems I cannot get things on paper. Tomorrow will be another day. I’m just going to review my printed pages and figure out where to tell stories about my additional characters. It should work. Instead of my main character just thinking the story, I’m going to have the characters talk the story. Descriptions, narrative, and lots of colorful characters should do it.

I thank you for reading today. I’ll be here tomorrow, and hope to see you, too.

Finitely Friday

There are only twenty-four hours in this highly touted day of the week. When you are working for a living, you cannot wait for it to arrive. What do you do once it’s there? Maybe we put too much into this one day a week, why should all it’s siblings have a lesser fan club? Especially Monday. What happens when you are retired? You have six Saturdays and a Sunday. Those days are not that different, one from another, and it is difficult for new retirees to keep track of what day it is.

When I was moved into early “retirement” in 2000 due to my health, I was kind of a mess. I was only forty-eight years old and was a newleywed. It just didn’t seem like something I should be doing. It was hard. My body let me down and I was a bit angry about that fact. As one of my brothers’ said, “That’s what you get for taking care of yourself.” Well, maybe.

I have since recovered from the overwhelming feeling to explain my early departure from the working world. When I told my doctor I couldn’t do it anymore, he said, “I’m surprised you made it this long.” What? And the rub is it’s one of those things a person cannot identify on sight. That may be what made it so hard. That and my age. And the fact after keeping it together through being a single mom, college student, friend, sister, you name it, that it finally was my turn. Bitterness could have easily taken over.

I met the Babe right after that horrible illness, and he was more than ok with me having a hidden illness. His mother battled MS for most of her adult life and he was well aware of people who lost their health. From watching his interactions with her over the years, I came to know what type of compassionate caregiver he is. And he is. Like most men, he’s a better caregiver than patient, but that’s another story. Initially I felt I kept him from doing things, but he said no, he’d rather be hanging out with me. And it turns out we’re perfect for each other. Sure, we get frustrated. We’re human. But in the long run, neither of us will give up or quit on the other. And that’s a quality I”m glad we both have.

Each day we have is the same twenty-four hour period on the clock, calendar, and moment in time. I had a boss who would take Monday off instead of Friday for a long weekend. His thinking was everyone takes Friday, Monday can be less crowded and just as special. Just a little change in thought, and powerful things can happen. Try it. You might like it. It could change the way you view your world, life, and creativity.

In the creative realm, for those who create things from other materials, you need to strike while the iron is hot. While the ideas are flowing, get them down, cut the fabrics, paint the pictures, write the words. And then coax them to become their best. I cannot say, “Friday is not a good day for creating, come back Monday,” because the idea most likely will be lost forever. Write down a note to spark the memory when you are able to capture the idea more fully. After a while, it won’t matter where or when you get those ideas. You will be able to make a note then coax it back into a more full statement. Practice. We all have enough time for that.

Don’t wish your life away. Make the most of each twenty-four hour trip around the sun. Give thanks for each day no matter how bad it can be. Tomorrow could be worse, but chances are, it won’t be. Some days the best thing you can say about it is, “It’s over now.” Do-overs. How lucky we are to have one every day. We may look back and decide these days weren’t so bad after all. All the Thursdays, Tuesdays, and Sunday nights have the capacity to be awesome. Just like we do. Every day people. Doing extraordinary things. Every day of the week.

Thank you for reading today. I’m grateful you did. I’ll be back tomorrow, and hope you will be, too. See you then. I’m off to work on my second chapter in the novel re-write. Go figure!

Thankful Thursday

My writing staff and I are having a meeting of the minds this morning. Goldie (front) and Lexie (back) got the Babe up at 4 a.m. again. He was kind and let me sleep until 8 a.m. What a great guy. Typically he wakes up earlier than I do, but also goes to sleep much earlier too. It all evens out, I suppose. While the Babe is off again on VFW business, I’m here, creating with the animals.

My creative staff and I are meeting this morning.

Goldie is six months old already, and nearly the size of Lexie. Being a purebreed, she has more outstanding features than a pound puppy, but that doesn’t mean she’s superior. No, not at all. You can tell the difference, however. She is a very smart dog, and needs stimulation. They all do. Kind of like people, really. All ages of living beings need outward stimulation for a balanced life.

Last night at the VFW, we had a reunion of sorts. A good friend moved away a couple years ago after losing his wife, and came to visit for the first time since then. Although we’ve kept in touch via Facebook and texting, this was the first time we had seen him. It was a beautiful reunion. I am so overwhelmed by the men of the Post and the hugs, slaps on the back, the closely held conversations of a few words that say so much, and the checking to make sure they have current phone numbers to contact later on. This is what a band of brothers is. Each of them welcomed him with open arms. They truly love and care for each other. You have to when you depended on each other for your lives. Camaraderie is a beautiful thing to be a part of. If you can witness it as I did last night, you are truly lucky. This is why our Armed Services helps make this the greatest nation in the world. These everyday men from all walks of life, came together as youngsters to do a job they were called upon to do. They did. They are all better for having performed their duties.

Some guys made the service a career, some did not. They all remember their duty, although don’t talk about it a lot, if at all. It’s better kept in their hearts. They show such kindness towards the older guys, and it is returned a hundred fold. Yes, there are disagreements. Yes, there are differences of opinions. There is one thing that holds them tightly together. America and their love for it. Money could never buy this if it were a commodity. You can measure it, however, since all have taken an oath to serve to the death. And they still would if asked. It’s an honor to know them and call them my friends.

I’m glad to have from today until next Tuesday morning to myself (and the Babe), to regroup and plan how the next couple weeks will go. Mom needs some additional therapy for her back, and I’m all for that, so it will be more appointments twice a week. They add up, but should help build her up to have a more enjoyable time in her flower gardens this spring and summer. Right now, the plan is to rejoin the balance and strength training in September through next winter to keep her as strong as possible. Every older person needs extra conditioning to keep living a good independent life.

This is a sunny, bright, beautiful day today. It is cold, we know it’s still winter, and it won’t last too much longer. It’s a great day to create something. I’m going to try my hand at some more water coloring for the 30 Day Art Challenge. I also need to cut more fabric squares for my Snowfall quilt. And I need to write more on the novel. The words have been coming out at a good pace the last several days, so I need to capitalize on that. Thank you for reading today. I will be here again tomorrow, and hope to see you then!

Wonderful Wednesday in Nebraska

Yes, it can be a wonderful Wednesday in Nebraska – or Arizona, or South Dakota, or Tuesday, Thursday, you get it. It’s all in our attitude if it’s wonderful or not. Look at it this way. It’s lightly snowing this morning. It’s pretty outside. It’s sending moisture to my very dry flower bed areas that are covered by cold stones. It’s preparing the soil and flowers that will come back to grow and bloom in the spring. Preparation. The Creation Plan of God, although I dispute the 7-days-and-He-was-done theory, is so immense, interdependent, and all encompassing, it makes me feel very small, like a speck of dirt in the universe.

Could you imagine a writer or artist having a plan similar to God’s plan of Creation for a book or work of art? It would take far longer than seven days to complete. The characters! And I thought MY family was quirky! Er, unique. That’s it, unique, one-of-a kind, that’s it. Yes. Ahem. Or the colors and shapes in a work of art that contained the story? Wow. You may have guessed by my unconventional capitalizations that I was raised Catholic. Creation, He, all those things were capitalized when I was a kid. In my mind and heart, they still are. While I question a lot of the point blank teachings we were force fed, I still have the respect for the faith of my father, Grandparents, Aunts and Uncles. Faith is very important for the Irish, and for all of us. Mom was a “convert.” All that meant was that Dad and Mom could not have been married unless she agreed to raise all her children Catholic. Regardless. It’s really kind of sad, when you think of it. Lots of people were coerced into that kind of promise, not knowing what lay ahead. I will not venture into any topics like Church cover ups of abuse or anything like that. What I will talk about is the treatment of women as the lesser creation of God, that we are not equal. No, we are not. In many ways, we are superior to men. With all due respect, in many ways they are superior to us as well.

My point is we equal each other out. That is the whole idea. What one cannot do, the other does. We all have different talents, abilities, and gifts. If we use them like we could and should, it all balances out. I believe it. So does the Babe. That’s how we make it work. That’s how we can be friends after nearly twenty two years of being married. And twenty four years together. Wow. Back in 1996, we were hoping for a good fifteen or twenty years, based on his coronary artery disease. God gave us the miracle of great doctors and health care who have taken good care of the Babe’s health. It could be better, but he’s still here.

In these years, I’d have never guessed we would have had his issues, Agent Orange illnesses, my cancer, his stroke, my disability, losing his sweet Mom and sister-in-law Pat, my sister-in-law Laura, and so on and so forth. It’s a give and take, we take care of each other and thank God we can do this. We have worked hard, and are humbled by what we have. We are fortunate. Through the work of the VFW and our church, we help others. We must share, but not give it all away. That isn’t fair to anyone.

A long time ago, my mom was mad at Dad for not handing over cash to me to help when I was a single mom with three kids. He had it, sure. But he wanted me to be self sufficient. And I learned. Only one time did I have to borrow and I paid him back. It was $200 for my daughter’s braces. I paid him back. The cancelled check is in my sewing cabinet drawer. It’s there to remind me of what I learned from him, and it’s the only memory I have of his beautiful, cursive handwritten signature. Thanks, Dad. I know you would have loved these grandkids in their 40s and Dan. His kids would amaze you, too. But then, you know all about these happenings in our lives.

Let’s keep looking ahead to our futures, be mindful from where we all came, and know we cannot live there. What is alive is ahead, not behind. Spring will come. All in God’s time. Thank you for reading today. I appreciate your time. As always, I’ll be here tomorrow. Time to go take Mom to get her hair cut. Blessings!