Remnants and New Horizons

If you know the Babe and me personally, you know I have supplies for a bunch of hobbies. And I mean a bunch. There is a giant closet full of fabric of all kinds. Partial Bolts, large pieces for specific projects, remnants that go with my stash for quilts and clothing, and fat quarters (no, it’s not a body part), fat eighths, pre-cuts, Jelly Rolls, Layer Cakes, Cinnamon Rolls, it all sounds so delicious! Those are all the names of certain cuts of fabrics for quilts. It’s a vast collection. And I swear I have a use for it all. It’s not hurting anyone, and it’s not eating anything, so it’s fine. Of course, when the Babe talks about it, I could mention the barn-shaped shed, the woodworking tools, all that. We won’t go there.

Those remnants and bolts are important to me for future projects. Just as are the manuscripts I looked at yesterday are important to the author’s journey I’m on. It’s gearing up this year. It’s time. Now or never? No, not that extreme. It’s becoming important to move into it. Call it intuition; call it timing; call it what you want. I’m ready. Let’s go!

There are people to contact, questions to ask, formats to learn, photos or drawings?; What font? What do kids like? I feel like I’m on the high dive at the Olympics! Have I mentioned I can’t swim? Terrifying yet exhilarating. Woo hoo. I hope you’ll stay with me. We’ve come this far.

As my new friend Carol Gino taught me in her book, “Me and Mario” (the story of her twenty-year relationship with Mario Puzo, author of the Godfather), Puzo said a story is like making a quilt. (Boy, did this make sense to me!) I can take these parts of a story (pre-cuts, layer cakes, bolts, and so forth) and put them together. Through the magic of ProWritingAid and editing software, I can rearrange the pieces in any order, until it reaches the most pleasing arrangement.

Today is all about a beginning. Keeping parts of what is important. Building on those pieces. Adding more when you see fit. Changing things that don’t work. Being brave to be yourself. Be brave enough to tell your stories. My musician friends have done that very thing all year. Facebook Live got a workout. They established Venmo accounts. Survival is what it’s about now for them. As soon as you can, go see live music again. Please! They need your support now more than ever.

As I write a to-do list for me through the month of January 2021, know how grateful I am for your support all this time. We’ve met nearly 500 times through my blog. Thank you for being here! I’m off to pick up groceries (it saves me so much time!) and stow them. Then write the e-mails, etc. for creating the LLC, contacting the illustrator, all stuff that’s overwhelming and exciting. Who says retirement is boring? Not me, never! Blessings on all of you.

Christmas Eve Day, 2020

Gosh, what to do? I have three songs to talk about and only two blogs. I see some doubling up for today. Another song I love to hear this time of year is another one we sang in Church choir on Christmas Eve. I previously knew it to me as “When Blossoms Flowered Amid the Snow,” And I believe Latin was the language we sang it in back in the day. This is Heidi Joy’s version of Gesu Bambino. I absolutely love her voice. We did not attend this concert at Omaha’s Holland Performing Arts Center, but we enjoyed her Christmas performances at a Lutheran Church in Papillion, NE. They were wonderful.

As I look out the window and see our modern version of a “White Christmas,” I’m grateful for our lives. I’m grateful I started writing and have made new friends with the same interest. I have new things to explore next year such as; should I form a publishing company, should I print a children’s book in the first quarter of 2021? I know I’d like to, I took December off from writing my novel, now is the time to circle those wagons and dig deep. I’m writing some revealing things and to make those things real to a reader, I have to make sure they love the character and her struggle. I’m hoping they will, and I will reach out again to Carol Gino to ask her a few writer questions. She was great at answering a couple I had before. As I mentioned yesterday, I am totally immersed in her book, “The Nurse’s Story.” I’m standing right next to her in every patient room, feeling the pain she felt for them in her heart. I want to write that way. More practice!

I will get there. And I’d like you to come along on the adventure! In the next week or two, I hope to; contact an artist, contact an attorney about LLC’s, go talk to a local publishing company we work with at the VFW Post. They do marvellous work, and I will learn a lot. It might be a good thing for me to go forward for the children’s book, I’ll have something to show for my hard work. More hard work on the way. I’m ready.

The other Christmas song is another creative one, one that blasts you out of your funk until you realize it’s Christmas! Be Happy! Celebrate our Saviour! All really is right with the world. It’s the Carol of the Bells, complete with pyrotechnics and laser lights of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Enjoy a listen! See, you’re fully awake now. I hope you can find at least one thing to celebrate this Christmas season. Music, children, church services, neighbors, or friends. Or all of them.

It’s time for me to go make a batch of Chocolate Chip Cookies. We’re giving a dozen to each of five neighbors; and the Babe is home to be my delivery elf. My wish for all of you is a magical Christmas. May you feel the love of God and your families this Christmas Eve, and have a beautiful morning tomorrow. Remember the reason for the season. We’ll see each other tomorrow. I have one more song for you to hear. Be Safe!

Three Days Before!

This day marks three days out from Christmas. As happens frequently in the Midwest, the State of Nebraska is smack dab in the middle of a Winter Storm Warning. We don’t have an enormous amount of snow coming, but the winds are producing blizzard conditions. A small amount of snow can move into deep drifts because of the winds. What a treat!

I’m not caring too much about all of this – we don’t need to go anywhere later. We were gathering for a friend’s birthday later, but I’m thinking they will cancel it. We live twenty-five miles from the Post, which is where the gathering will be. It may be much worse here than there, too.

The song I’ve chosen for today is a favorite. “Silent Night,” by Jackie Evancho. This little girl has grown up and is still singing; she is amazing. This recording is from when she was younger. Silent Night is another song that takes me back to Midnight Mass. I think especially of our dad when I hear it. For over thirty years now, he’s gone, and while I don’t dwell, I miss him at Christmas and on the New Year, his birthday. Enjoy this angelic voice and remember good things. We may not gather this year, but we can call, Zoom, Skype, and many other wonders of technology. It won’t be that hard. It’s a sacrifice, but it will be worth it a year from now.

Carol Gino’s Book, The Nurse’s Story and My Notes for the Next Two Blogs!

The book “The Nurse’s Story,” by my friend Carol Gino is the most fascinating account of nursing I’ve read. She tells her own story with experiences with patients she cared for – and lost – over the years. Many girls I went to high school with became nurses; I wish I could have become one, too. Money was a big issue back then, and my timid personality didn’t help. I didn’t want to ask my folks to pay for it, and I didn’t know how I could get the money. Heck, I didn’t drive or anything.

Nursing has changed in the last forty years, and I would bet this lady lobbied for a lot of the changes. A nurse is the true caregiver in a hospital setting, they observe the patients during their best and worst times, and she ought to have some input into their care, and ought to have respect for what they do. My dad always said, “Nurses never get enough respect.” He worked closely with nurses in the MASH unit in Korea and in Europe, boots on the ground.

Doctors (now, a hospitalist, who doesn’t know you) plot your care out and visit. It’s rare for your regular doctor to care for you in a hospital. Yes, surgeons, cardiologists and oncologists are more hands-on doctors, but those are the exceptions.

This book is amazing, and I want to finish it over the next few days. I highly suggest it if you enjoy reading medical-based stories. And it’s real. Those are the best stories. Thank you, Carol Gino, for a beautiful book!

The wind is so harsh today, I can’t help but think of the homeless population who endure this weather. It is such a sad thought, especially at Christmas. I’m glad the VFW Post became a supporter of Moving Veterans Forward this year. We actually can see the difference we can make in the lives of these men and women. There, but by the grace of God, go I. Be Kind. Be Thoughtful. Be the Change. Be a Difference. Be Safe! Thank you for reading. I look forward to seeing you tomorrow.

Summation Saturday

I’m enjoying music by Ray Scott this morning. The Babe and I saw him briefly about a year ago with our friend Jimmy Weber at a local hole in the wall, Buck’s. It was a fun night, but the Babe was dealing with a wound vac and wasn’t feeling well enough to stay for the entire show. What we heard, we liked. We bought up all the CD’s I could find online. He’s very good. The songs are making me think, which helps me create. Thanks, Ray!

It’s been quite a week. I’ve experienced some weird memories and dreams, when I figure out what they meant, I’ll let you know. Messages come in your dreams, and if you keep your eyes open, you can see them all around you. Mentally, I’m getting more in the Christmas spirit than before. Not sure why, but these holidays can be very tough for some of us. I’ll leave it at that for now. Remember that with your friends and family. Help them get through these days. It’s not all silver bells and tinsel. And now, we get to add in the Covid-19 which just adds to funk and fog. Be gentle with yourself and others.

My Writing Space. I love the laptop stand.

Yesterday, I mentioned this stand I purchased from a small company through Amazon. It’s the best investment I’ve ever made. With the stand all the way down, it raises the Chromebook up about three inches. I am not putting stress on my neck by looking down while writing. I can write longer! It’s a Christmas miracle! Get one for anyone in your life who needs some ergonomics in their life. The company is Lifelong.

Today, I’m going to sift through all the papers and printed things I’ve accumulated during this writing journey we’re on. It’s a good time to keep what I have found useful and toss everything that isn’t helpful. Later, I’m going to mark a quilt for quilting and tomorrow, going to hem a dress for a beautiful young lady. Time will fly by, as always.

Go for a walk today, or just get a little fresh air. From my studio window, I can see a couple houses putting up Christmas lights on their homes. It’s always fun to see them lit at night. If there are sound effects with them the dogs get a little nervous. They’re such cowards when it really gets down to it. They make me laugh out loud!

The last but best happening this week; When I talked about what I learned about writing from Carol Gino, Mario Puzo’s twenty-year companion and fellow writer, she took the time and e-mailed me. I am over the moon! We’ll talk more about that all later. I’m just going to enjoy the orbit I’m in. Thanks for reading, I’m headed out to the deck for a little fresh air. Be Kind. Be Careful. Be Courteous. Be Thoughtful. Slow down. You’ll get there. Just get there. See you tomorrow!

Summary Sunday

Hi, friends. Another Sunday on the docket, and here we are. Today is the time for making lists of stuff to do, catch up on, and start. That’s a lot! I skipped a couple things I usually do to give me a more positive take on the day (every day), and I’ve learned I shouldn’t skip those routines. Note to self made. To keep me sane, I need those rituals.

I may have shared here I had a free online presentation by Carol Gino. She is a writer, a nurse who has written many books on how nursing needed changing during the last probably twenty or more years. She was a companion of Mario Puzo, author of The Godfather. He also wrote the screenplays for all three movies, although it seemed he was reluctant to do so. The talk was wonderful! Carol spoke with the East Coast-Italian-New York-Jersey accent we’ve all heard. She was very good.

Some tips I loved were these, between both the book and video: Write to your strength. What does that mean? When Mario told Carol theirs was “A love story.” She was a companion to him, and the nurse in her tended to his needs later in his life. He told her he couldn’t portray her in a book. He couldn’t write from a female point of view. He could only write from a male point of view and speak to the characters he does. He writes to the dark side of human nature. (He said their story was was a Neil Simon comedy, not a Romeo and Juliet tragedy.)

This got me to thinking. Maybe my strength is not what I think it is. In a discussion with my book coach, we discussed if I was most interested in writing a fiction story for pleasure, or do I want to write a story to offer hope to people who need to make dramatic, drastic changes in their lives. I’m pondering that greatly this weekend. If I write stories based on anyone’s overcoming a harsh life, meant to be inspiring, will I be pigeon hole myself as a “self-help writer,” “a writer with a depressing view of the world?” My other projects are:

Grandpa’s Gone,” A true story the loss of a grandparent on Christmas Eve;

Bonus Grandma’s,” A story about a little boy with six grandmas, because of blended families;

What Are You Doing Now, Roxie?” A true story about a little boy and his grandparents’ dog, run over by a car after a stranger left their gate open. It deals with loss, and reminds kids to close gates and doors, not leave them open. I present it with kindness and focuses on love. It explains feelings of grief and why we have them.

Please chime in with your opinion. I need to figure this out. I just don’t want to be an author with a dark cloud over my head all the time.

So back to Mario and Carol. This is my absolute FAVORITE. Too bad you never had a quilting class. Writing is just like quilting. You start with one little patch. You add as many details as you can. Patients, miracles, heroes are where you start. Then you keep rewriting it. Writing is simple, and not easy, which is quite different. Being a quilter, this hits home for me in many, many ways.

Autumn Quilt. A favorite of mine.

As with my autumn quilt, I have selected many, many fabrics for many, many quilts. It is fun to think of each of those as a book, with characters and faults, with well structured writing to hold it all together. This quilt does the same. The characters and their faults are all the beautiful fabrics, each selected for this quilt. The construction is a solid structure that holds it all together. The re-writing is like spending time with a seam ripper. Quilters have to adjust their sewing often for precision. The quilting is the finishing touch, which is like an appropriate title and cover. It the project so much better.

This is where I am right now. The person I’m writing about goes through hell until she learns she has some self worth. Her journey towards that understanding is hard. She makes it. This will have a happy ending, folks. Eventually. You only learn to write by writing and rewriting. Use your own voice. A very timid little girl grows up to have a grownup woman’s voice who learns to value herself. Is that it? Opinions? Feedback? She is not playing a victim here. She is speaking her truth.

Other sage advice from the master? Names are important. Not only how they sound, but how they look on the page. They need to be pretty simple, easy to remember. Expert advice, Mario! You need to have some sympathy even for your worst characters. That could be very hard for the bad guy in the story. Every story has a bad guy or antagonist. Understanding helps immensely there.

I was writing another project, “These Walls DO Talk,” and one character is specifically not a good guy in his life at the point we meet him, in his 60s, a scoundrel and a womanizer. When I began the part about these characters at home, as children, I liked this guy, much to my chagrin. Puzo’s statement about having some sympathy for even your worst characters rang so true. It was a gift to hear that, Carol Gino!

The tension between the moral characters and the amoral ones is fascinating. There you may plant “hooks” to keep your reader reading. Most readers who love reading don’t want to read something boring. There are not enough hours in the day.

Thank you for reading today. If Carol Gino reads this, I’m honored you took the time. I plan to finish reading your book later this afternoon. For the others, I appreciate you going on this journey of writing with me. I will be back tomorrow. See you then! Be Kind, Be Courteous, Be Patient, Be Thoughtful. Be Positive. And don’t forget to get your turkey thawing! Ours is. Have a beautiful afternoon.

Friday’s Session

It’s 10:26, the breakfast dishes are soaking, I made the bed; the dogs are napping, and I’ve just read through another edit of my Chapters Three and Four. I’ve read it’s best to read out loud when doing that. It’s true, you hear some weird things when you do that. I feel pretty confident about the two chapters. I may get bold and share a part of them on the creative FB groups I belong to. And here, as I become braver. I can tell I’m learning, and that’s a good feeling.

The red pencil needs sharpening. I have to laugh at the Pro Writing Aid software I use. I’ve been happy with it, but lately, I see them suggesting to use, say “beat;” and then you correct it, they tell you “beat ” and you could chase your tail all day long. If you turn off the suggestion, you turn it off not just on that one example, but on all occurrences of it until the end of time! Be careful what you wish for. The thing is, don’t totally rely on the software. Sometimes it makes little sense.

Stories. We all have them. We all tell them. We share some; we keep others hidden away and shout others from the rooftops. How do we decide which ones to share? I believe it may work the same when writing a song, and you need the very best of all words for the perfect song. Lennon and McCartney proved that. Brian Wilson lived that. Bruce Springsteen preaches that. Jon Bon Jovi gets that done in fine fashion. They bless us with rich stories of words and sounds of music which tell our stories better than we could have ever hoped to. How do they know?

They know because they have a gift. They’re aware they need to share the gift with others. How generous! We’ve met some wonderful musicians in the past seven or eight years who are local, some are not. We’ve discovered they are very down to earth for all being geniuses. I believe they are. Their messages are always positive, they are all very grateful people, too. You just don’t hear that from a bean counter, you know? There are difficulties, especially now during the Pandemic. Travel and late night gigs are tough on relationships. They make great sacrifices to share their creations with us. How lucky we are.

Writers? I’m finding out how hard it is to write a novel, not just gush words as we do when speaking. When I was a kid, I had a fantasy of being a reporter for our local newspaper. I wanted to see my name in print. My dad worked there my entire life. I was on our school newspaper for a while, and it was cool to see your name in print. That fantasy remained a fantasy. As I got older, the fantasy morphed into writing a children’s book. I have a few manuscripts, I’m looking for a young artist to help me out. I’m contacting her after Christmas and hoping we can work together. She’s very good, and I know children love whimsical artwork in books.

Words, words, words. It’s hard to choose the right ones from time to time. Other times, they flow like a river. Writing against the tide can be difficult. But going with the flow isn’t always the right thing to do. I’m really enjoying the book I’m reading by Carol Gino, “Me and Mario.” It’s about her twenty-year relationship with Mario Puzo, author of The Godfather. Yesterday, as she as describing her learning from him about writing, this phrase struck me: “What you need to learn is the carpentry of writing.” She questioned him further, and he replied, “Writing can’t be taught but it can be learned. Carpentry is the nuts and bolts of writing.” And there you have it. Ms. Gino, if you read this, know I’m fascinated by the advice he gave you. Thank you for sharing it with the world.

One thing our entire family learned from Dad had to do with quality paper. Newsprint has transformed over the years, from 1952 until present day. They have shaved it down, the width is much less than years ago. The thickness of the paper has gone from much thicker to onion skin thin. While the Babe and still took the paper, I remarked the paper itself was so thin you could see through it, making it hard for aging eyes to read. In a bright light, you could see the shadow of the next page interfere with what you were attempting to read. Poor quality.

And don’t get me started about printed books! Oh my gosh, the slick glossy paper is the stuff they make my dreams of. It would be so expensive to have a book printed on that. I’m jealous of the folks that can do that. Maybe someday, I can too. You never know. Thanks, Dad. It’s funny when someone else in our family and I look at a book, we open and feel the pages. “Excellent stuff, Dad would approve.” It’s a warm, wonderful memory. I know, we’re a weird lot.

With that fond memory, it’s time to get back to writing. It’s been a great day so far, and I’m working so it continues. Thank you for reading today, hope you return tomorrow. I’ll be here, as usual. Be Safe. Be Courteous. Be Kind. Be Thoughtful. Let’s all work to make this world a kinder place. Thank you.

For Today

Sometimes, I take on more than I can do. None of you ever do that, do you? I didn’t think so. How do you fit it all in, since it’s all a top ten priority? Beats me. All I know is for today, I have to select THE most urgent things I can do today. And listen to some wonderful music while I do.

First order: The Music. Glen Campbell, “I’ll Be Me” soundtrack. It some really beautiful music, and I think it reflects not only his long career and his musical abilities but also his deepest gratitude for the beautiful life he lived. Yes, his addictions required he deal with them. He resolved them one day at a time, like any other addicted person does.

The music helps me think, eases my mind, and helps me make sound (haha) decisions. There’s no other way to state it. My Second order: Make the list and prioritize.

I’m behind on NaNoWriMo (about 5,250 words behind). If I keep this pace, it’ll take me until January 2, 2021 to finish (2)

Consider if blogging five to seven days’ worth of blogs at once (4); (Have them readied to publish. If a topic becomes more timely than one “in the can,” definitely write the new one, but keep the others ready. Perhaps in entire hours available per day would allow more words written in the novel for NaNoWriMo. Many people do that very thing. It is definitely an option, and it could allow me to return to my beloved hobby of quilting. I haven’t touched hands to fabric in what feels like forever).

I need to publish a blog every day (3);

I need to prep and bake some items for our meals next week (4);

Load the car with the contributions we have for Moving Veterans Forward; (5)

Cleaning up the house (vacuuming, dusting, mopping floors); (6)

Reading a memoir while writing Katie’s story; (7).

The memoir I selected was of Carol Gino, a nurse, author, and twenty-year friend of Mario Puzo. He taught her much about writing. I love reading his advice to her while she was beginning her writing career. He considered his book, “The Godfather” to be a commercial sellout. He hated his writing in it; yet he desperately needed the income for his wife and five children. This was a book I purchased because of Carol Gino’s name. I’ve been Facebook friends with her in a group for years. Never met her, never knew she knew “The Godfather’s” creator. What a cool thing to learn about! Unexpected surprises every day help make life an adventure, no matter how many decades you live.

No, these things don’t sound like very much, but they are time-consuming. And great to accomplish during regular times, much less during busy days. Oh, I’m not finished with the jotted list yet.

Get groceries from Walmart; (2A) This has a timeframe of Noon to 1p.m. I chose that time, so I need to comply. A break in the action always disrupts my progress. Note to self: learn to dig in after interruptions. I had that ability as a Mom, I’m a little rusty now.

Post on Instagram, (Twitter, Facebook (3A): This is not only for my author pages but also for the VFW Post FB, Twitter, Instagram accounts. This is time consuming, since I’m creating content for both entities. I love doing it, be aware, however, it’s a time-warp if you are not careful. It’s quite easy to wander around in those apps and not accomplish what you set out to do.

The Babe is right with me. He needs to complete some work outside before these gale-force winds make it impossible to use the hose attachment of soap to wash the windows. After today, it will be too cold to do that. But Goldie needed some attention and play time. She wins! Kind of like Walmart for me – I’m heading there in a few minutes.

For today, don’t stress over everything. Yes, the list is long. Time is short. You can only do so much. Do What You Can. See you tomorrow!

It’s Complicated

If anyone would have predicted counting the votes from this messy election would turn into a television miniseries, I would have laughed. Yet, here we are. Night three of a saga stranger than fiction. I can’t even imagine the outcome. I think they will elect Biden, and I shudder to think what will happen to many things I don’t want to change. Our retirement. Our Social Security. And especially our Health Insurance. For the very first time since being on Medicare, my supplement has not changed in premium at all. I about fell over when I read the letter. Thank you, Mutual of Omaha retirement benefits!

Had a good session with Sam, my book coach, today. I’m learning and needing more practice doing a lot of things. It’s hard to concentrate on each scene. Nothing else can occur except in the scene at hand. It really is a lot harder than it sounds. Lots to learn and practice. I’m glad to have Sam to work with during this learning curve.

One thing that helps a writer is to read. I am supposed to read a memoir. Sometimes they can be difficult, I read “Eat, Pray, Love” several years ago, and didn’t care for it. I have a memoir, though. It’s called “Me and Mario” by Carol Gino. I’ve been FB friends for a long time with Carol Gino, she is a nurse, teacher, author, and has a long resume. I didn’t know she was a twenty-year companion of Mario Puzo. For those who don’t recognize the name, Mario Puzo wrote the epic family saga, “The Godfather.” It was magnificent and published back in the 1970s. The movie came out later, in 1972.

The thing I’m most interested in learning about Carol Gino’s life through her memoir is the creativity they both must have. The subtitle is, “Love, Power, & Writing with Mario Puzo, author of The Godfather.” What creativity must have been at work for those twenty years. I’m eager to dive in.

Sometimes it’s fun to just fall into a book or another creative endeavor and stay there for a while. Creating always gets my ideas going, my happiness high, and my contentment at the max. Sometimes it’s too hard to read someone else’s creation, and then I have to stop. Do something creative for myself. That is also hard to believe unless you experience it. We will see how tomorrow goes.

In the meantime, turn off the television set. You’ll find out those results quickly enough. Grab a book to lounge with, a paintbrush to plow through some paint, or a tablet to record words on. Create something. Catalog your feelings as these crazy times continue. I pray you all find your way to the peaceful acceptance of whatever happens. We may not like the results. We need to live with them, however.

Let’s meet again tomorrow. Let’s be Kind. And Patient.