Thriving Thursday

I swear, this formatting page area for WordPress has changed in the time we’ve been using it. Did you know I’ve posted over 200 Blog Posts?? I’m pretty excited about that. I’m even more excited to be picking up more readers, and folks that like the blog. Some are fellow bloggers, some are selling their services, some are spammy ones, but hey, we can pick and choose, you know? I love that we’re going somewhere with this.

In your social distancing, have you completed your 2020 Census yet? I haven’t. It’s on the list. And so is Mom’s. I have to laugh with her. The first notice comes and tells you to log in blah, blah, blah. She will tell you in no uncertain terms that she does not have internet, computer, cell phone, and furthermore does not wish to be bothered with one! SO THERE! I told her I’d do it online for her. “No, I’ll mail it in.” OK Mom, do it your way. A week later, “Have you done your census yet?” “No, I’m doing it online, so I’ll get it done.” She said, “Why don’t they let us fill them out like we used to.” I’m not even going into it yet. I was sent home with both of her notices to complete it online. In the last two times I took her to therapy she asked, “Did you do my census yet?” “No.” I’m doing it this afternoon, in case she asks you.

One thing we were told that must be done online is renew your license plates for your vehicles. We did. It’s kind of crummy you have to pay an online fee to a third party, the state does not get directly paid by YOU. The third party pays them the correct amount, but it’s about a twelve dollar plus fee on each renewal. We had an extra $25 charged. WHAT? That’s pretty crummy. They force you to go online, then they force you to pay extra. That stinks. What about people who can’t afford that? It’s something they should probably refund under these circumstances.

So many teachers locally are doing parades through neighborhoods their students live in. I think it’s such a neat idea, the kids are lost without their daily school routine and their dear teachers, and the everyday stuff of school. Some kids may say they hate school and like being off, but I’ll be at least they miss their friends. The news stories are cute, some families made poster board signs and had balloons.

If you take your toddler to the park, do not use the playground equipment. I am surprised it would even be a question someone would ask, but I suppose they are being thorough. If you have little ones, I can see how you wouldn’t have been able to see the stories. There is so much to this virus and all that goes with it, I really believe there is no way we can be back to business by April 12, 2020. Maybe May 12, but definitely not April.

Without the wonderful invention of the Internet, what would we be doing at this point? I’d get more done on my book, maybe. Probably get more accomplished on my other hobbies, but who knows? Rush hour video of one of our most busy and dangerous intersections looks like early Sunday morning. I was talking to someone today and told them I just feel so weird driving. Things just feel off kilter and I don’t know why. She said she feels the same way. It amazes me how something we cannot see can impact our lives so greatly. It’s making us afraid, angry, and full of angst. Whatever it is, we just can’t seem to put our finger on exactly what it is, but it’s there.

If you can at all, please support your local restaurants. Not the national chains, the locals who are needing your support right now. I don’t know about you, but I’m kind of tired of even thinking what to make for two or three meals a day. It’d be easier if the Babe wasn’t kind of “picky”. He dislikes fish and isn’t fond of chicken. I could live on the stuff he dislikes. One thing we do agree on is dessert! Ha! tonight, it’s going to be a brownie sundae. Why not? Kind of takes the edge off.

I’ve started a bag of things to give to homeless female veterans when the centers open up again. I decided to stop keeping several pairs of jeans, pants, and other clothing that just doesn’t fit anymore. It’s time to accept the reality. Losing that much weight is highly unlikely at this point in life. I would say twenty five pounds of it is from cancer medication. Glad I’m alive, just wish it was like it used to be. Not complaining, it is what it is.

Thanks for reading today. I appreciate it so much, and hope you’ll return tomorrow. I’ll be here!

Superb Saturday & #180!

Happy Saturday, friends, family, and followers! It’s nice enough at the Home Office in Gretna, Nebraska to have the windows open a little. Of course, this morning the furnace is still kicking on, but it won’t be soon as it warms up. I’m fortunate, the writing staff is napping and the Babe has gone to the VFW Post 2503 for some office work and to help the Honor Guard pay last respects to a veteran who is being buried today. I’m so proud of his participation in this ritual. I sat next to my mother and heard the words said upon presenting the flag, and it has made me tear up every time I hear them. The nation is indeed grateful to each and every veteran who served with honor. I am too. Thank you all for what you all continue to do for this great nation.

Awhile back, I downloaded a free sample of the software Pro Writing Aid. I must say, I do like it a lot, and have used it on my book before the re-write after my first edit. My editor Sam cautioned me to make sure suggested changes make sense before accepting them. That is a good point and I’m glad she told me that. I would have double checked anyway, heck, being a retired software coder, I know they are only as good as the coder who wrote them. I freely admitted when I made some colossal goofs when writing code and pre-testing it. “Sometimes, I even amaze myself” was what I’d laugh and say when catching errors I made. It always only did what I told it to do. Admitting mistakes. That gets you far in life and work, too. Just don’t keep on repeating the same ones.

Anyone who has ever been burned by autocorrect can attest to the weird stuff that shows up since autocorrect and spellcheck really don’t know what they’re doing. Again, limitations enforced by the coder. Grammar mistakes are king, aren’t they? We need to be patient and proofread what we write. Memos, e-mails, letters, books, and texts take on a way different meaning when words are substituted without our knowledge or checking. Protect yourself, take the time to read.

That said, because we’re all human and no one is perfect, cut each other some slack. At times when someone posts a lot of grammatical errors in a Facebook Post, it only bothers me when the one who makes all these errors claims to be smarter than everyone else. Haughtiness doesn’t get you anywhere when you’re making a statement like that.

I’m having a good time during my re-write. I’m in Chapter 10 right now. Nearly halfway. At this rate, I may be able to get it back to my editor by the end of March. This year! Yay! I’ll keep you posted for sure. I’m a sucker for accessories. Fashion accessories, computer accessories, and now, writing accessories, commonly known as references. Here’s a book I’ve enjoyed perusing.

Tired of “nod” and “sigh”? Me, too.

This amazing little 88 page book has chapter divisions by body part. Eyes, Noses, Mouths, all body parts, except for the genitalia. Had to say it, you know you were wondering. The gist of this 1,000 Character Reactions from Head to Toe is that my characters need to do more than sigh, said, heard, and stand still. They can take a long drag from a cigar, parrot back, hear as if everything was under water, and sashaying away from someone. Don’t get too crazy with these words, though. Jerry Jenkins, who wrote the “Left Behind” series and who is a successful author, says to quit with too many descriptive words for “said.” It may be appropriate in some genres and not others. I’ll have to let you know about that theory, too.

BTW, this is our 180th published blog since last July 5, 2019. In the beginning, I didn’t write every day, but I do now it at all possible. I’m sad it took our dog Roxie being run over by a car to make me start writing every day. You never know what will strike your heart and be a story you want to share. It helped us with our grief, too. If you would like to read that first blog, here is a link for you to read. Bring Kleenex. She was a charmer.

I would absolutely love for you to continue this journey with me, right along to when we reach the 360th blog post and beyond to buying a book once we publish them. In the meantime, thank you for reading today, I’ll be here tomorrow, as I hope you are. Go out and have a beautiful Saturday.

Super Bowl Sunday

STOP!! This has nothing do to with the football game later today, except to say I’ll be watching later. I’ve become a fan of Patrick Mahomes, and admire this very young man for how he is handling the intense spotlight. He comes from good stock, as his father was a professional baseball for the Minnesota Twins. It’s a great story. Hard, hard work, dedication, confidence, humility, generosity towards others, it’s all there. This is a story like many others of us who work day after day. Month after month. Year after year. Some of it is very hard and others never see it. As we build our foundations concrete block by concrete block, others resort to the poured walls method we see in construction now. It’s a quick way to get the job done, with fewer materials and less (much less) labor costs. Many block and brick layers are no longer in business, but the trade misses them. Just like many trades today. Hurting for skilled, dedicated workers, who are not afraid of hard work, and who will go the extra mile to do the job right. I have always been a huge fan of men (and now women) who can work with their hands. We need them all desperately.

Part of what we need is the mindset that comes with those professions. Not afraid to get dirty. They are really artists when you get down to it. A framer can eyeball things and often come up with the right measurement and right angle to cut the wood. Just to be safe, they measure and cut. Yes, mistakes are sometimes made, but not like people who have no idea what to do or how to do it. It’s that way when trying to learn new skills. Whether it be carpentry, block and brick wall building, quilting, writing, sewing garments, or blogging. Practice is needed. Sometimes years of practice. And the better materials you can afford, the better your outcome. But you can still do the job if you have budget concerns.

My family is a family of people who learned how to do many things by building and creating. My dad owned a full service gas station and garage after WWII. He sold it before he went to Korea. He could always listen to an older engine or drive the car and tell you what could be wrong with it. He was skilled that way. He could work with electricity in the house, (plumbing, not so much), building walls, (finishing and refinishing woodwork, he could do it all. My brothers have followed suit. My mother sewed a lot of our clothes. She did flower arranging about twenty years ago, when she was a youngster of 70. My older brother was good with cars and due to his small stature, ran many of the first computer cables in the old Omaha World Herald building in the 1980s when the computer age was beginning. He is good at the guts and workings of some electronic things. A younger brother worked as a machinist, a draftsman, and now works for that gutter guard company. The youngest brother works for CAT, or whatever they’re calling themselves these days. He is a mechanic, and is very good. His people skills make him perfect for the customer service he provides. They’re all good guys. I’m a lucky sister, indeed.

Then you get to me. Growing up, I learned embroidery, as did many young girls in my time. I learned to sew in high school, and even sewed wool suits for my career in computers (coding, application development, etc.) because I was a single mom with three kids. It’s how I could afford to dress for the next job I wanted. I was glad some of those homemaking skills were so handy. Now, the kids are raised, two grandkids need rides or watching weekly, and two live too far to participate daily in their lives. I always thought I’d have a constant influx like my grandmothers did. Nope, didn’t happen. Now what? Learn new stuff. Learn how to reinvent yourself.

I was delighted earlier today to see a Facebook Post that depicted a 98 year old woman in London who had her opening art show. Yes, at 98! Ahem! That phrase across my face at the top of this blog?

I’m not too old, and it’s not too late!

Click link for article about the 98 year old artist.

So commences the I Art Daily challenge from my friends at I Create Daily. Yesterday, I prepped fabrics for the Snowball Quilt I’m making. I’m allowing one day a week to sew this beauty. I only want to finish by next winter, so no hurry. And I dug my milk crate full of art supplies out of the closet in my studio. Going to jump in today, did a little planning yesterday.

Ah, the possibilities!

Sometimes in planning, we need to look back at last month just to see where we are. I’m further along than I ever dreamed I would be. One goal in 90 days was to learn more about Social Media promotion of my blog, establish myself as an author, and gain a following. Interesting enough, the social media part was the part that ran out in front, thanks to the Nebraska Writers Guild Social Media training. If you’d like, join the Guild, and you’ll have access to this, too. You can find them at Nebraska Writers Guild. Does my heart good that even while I was feeling as if I was behind again, I really wasn’t.

And more possibilities!

Yesterday, I mentioned my friend Shannon Schofield, a newly published author from an I Create Daily writing group we both belong to. Here’s a link to her gritty tale of her life, bad choices, and her redemption. I applaud her for telling her tale. I have not read it, but as soon as I can purchase it in paperback, I will. Here is that, too.

And, here’s a link to my author Facebook Page. I’d love to have you follow me there as well. WordPress automatically posts there everyday to let you know the blog is up. I hand post to my personal FB page as well, but sometimes I get busy and forget. All new stuff. All good stuff. All stuff that will get this last third of my life going to be the best of the whole thing. I’m planning on living another 30 years, at least. How about you? Thanks for reading today, I got a little talkative. Just ask the Babe. I do that sometimes. See you tomorrow, I’ll be here. Hope you are, too.

Tuesday’s Tales

Today, I’m grateful for a sunny day and the love of a sweet yellow lab. She is quite the toy chaser. Even I can wear her out! That’s an accomplishment. Goldie is doing much better with her potty training. It’s tougher in winter, but at least you really know how much they learn what they should be doing. At least that’s what I tell myself and the Babe when we get frustrated about all the in and out. Part of puppy duty for sure.

We tire this Girl OUT!

Took Mom to her balance/fall prevention class today. She is at a considerable disadvantage because of her limited vision and hearing. She cannot hear the instructor or any of the other ladies in the class. She was nervous, much as any kid on their first day of school. It’s a new experience for her, as she prefers to be solo doing anything. Nevermore. She didn’t say too much about it except that she hoped she wasn’t too tired Friday after class to go to Menard’s. She can’t miss that 15% off sale on cleaning products. I told her we’ll figure it out. We always do.

It appears I will have time today to watch some videos for Pinterest for Nebraska Writers Guild. A member went to a great deal of work to spell everything out for us. I’m glad. I may have been a software programmer and analyst, but I was the world’s worst end user. It had to tell me exactly what to do in perfect sequence. It’s how I wrote data entry software. Lots of error checking before writing the record to a batch file for processing later. We did not have any real time updating back then. Heck, we were lucky if it updated overnight! In computers and information alone we have come a billion miles since 1985-2000, the fifteen years I worked in the field. From dumb terminals to PC’s. It’s amazing.

Well, I just watched six videos and am convinced Pinterest is amazing for long-term marketing that is free. My question is, though, do any straight men use Pinterest? I wonder how men would use it? Baseball teams? Fantasy Football? Who has the best wings any night? In my mind, I cannot fathom men using it. In which case, although the ad has the longevity of a McDonald’s hamburger, extended shelf life may not do much good if half of your audience never sees the ad. What do you think?

To tell the truth, I was on Pinterest a long time ago. It ended up taking a lot of time I did not want to spend glued to a device. Why would I want to spend more time on a device looking at pictures of people living their lives in photos, recipes, flower arrangements, quilt patterns, and not be living my life? I will need to learn to like it again in exchange for reaching many people with pins of my books once they hit the market. Small price to pay, I’d say.

Thank you for spending time with me today, I hope you have a nice evening. I will return tomorrow. I hope you will be here, too.

Magnificent Mondays

Lots of great things are on the horizon for me and other Nebraska Writers Guild members. Last week, they announced we will again have our Spring Conference in Omaha, and it’s in April. I am so looking forward to meeting up with some folks I met at the Fall Conference and learn more about the craft I am learning now.

The NWG announced on their Social Media Page some training for Pinterest. I listed Pinterest and other Social Media platforms as what I would like to add to my presence. I’m excited the Guild is ahead of me and wants to teach me at the same time. How fortunate I am to be here at this moment. For those who believe, I call it a God moment. For those that don’t, I suppose you’d call it Karma. Either way, I’m delighted. It just further convinces me this is time to be writing. I’ve waited a lifetime for the “right time.” So grateful.

Here I sit, with two children’s books written, one family book waiting for my co-author to offer their contribution, and a novel ready to be re-written. A year ago I wouldn’t have ever thought all of this would happen. It is. I have discovered the more professionally I approach the tasks of the day, the better the outcome. Instead of being in my cozy studio/office, I am at our beautiful marble-topped table in the kitchen. It’s a beautiful view out the window. See for yourself! This view in any season never disappoints me. In the spring it is teeming with life. In the summer, the birds are vocal. In the fall, the colors are pretty but not very varied. Still, it’s lovely to see.

The Woodlands provides a beautiful backdrop for working on this writing.

With the Babe out on VFW errands this morning, I can hardly believe the dogs both laid down on the couch for naps. I will let those sleeping dogs lie, believe me! They continue to surprise us with their own shenanigans and hijinks only our four-legged friends can. After we lost our two dogs over six years ago, (they were old and worn out), we hesitated to adopt any more pups. We did because we both felt if something happens to one of us we would want a pet for company. Something to get you out of bed in the morning. Here we are, six years and three dogs later.

Losing one of our dogs led me to write my first blog, back on July 5, 2019. You may read it here if you would like:

https://kathyraabe.com/2019/07/05/the-little-white-puppy/

It delighted me this morning when I saw this:

Two Hundred and One Likes! Thank you!

I am so happy you like what I write! And I know it’s not my mom, she has no computer and likes nothing! Seriously, she likes nothing to do with one. I have to laugh. I drive her to the bank; she refuses to use a drive through or an ATM. To get cash, she walks inside, waits in line, writes a check for CASH, and comes back out to the car. She claims it’s the only way to do proper banking. I’m amazed sometimes. But then I shouldn’t laugh. As the meme goes: she taught me to use a spoon.

The Last Day of 2019

I’ve been quilting today. For the first time in a long time, I’m using invisible thread. It’s not something I dreamed up as a prank, there is truly invisible thread. It keeps me from having to change thread over and over to make it match different colors on the quilt. Anyway, it’s challenging because it’s nearly impossible to see. It taught me some patience today, and I’m grateful for that. If it was easy all the time, where would the fun be?

In the back of my mind, I’ve thought over and over about things that would be great to accomplish during the brand new year that begins tomorrow. Why wait until then? You can start today, tomorrow, or a week from now. The two main things are: 1. START. 2. KEEP MOVING. All steps that keep you moving towards the goal, however small they are, will get you there. How do I know?

I know because a few goals have been very important in my life. When my dad was dying, I talked with him about the only regret I had. At 37, I had not graduated from college. I got married at 18 because I wanted to, and was divorced at 30. I had a couple years of community college level classes and had earned a programming certificate and started working in that field. My dad said, “Just keep doing what you’re doing, and you’ll make it.” I have remembered that my whole life. I graduated from college in 1995, twenty-five years after I graduated from high school. Yes, it took a long time, and it was worth it. Having my degree in my forties made me more marketable. It was hard, raising three kids, working full time, and having a life. My kids were so good during that time. They had a good example of someone working towards a goal.

My point with all this is we set goals all the time. We take up a new hobby, we decide to spend more time reading or playing piano, or spend more time with our spouses and children. Whatever it is, start doing it. Keep doing it. You will not be sorry. You will be happy you did. My dad taught me so very much. As a little girl, I remember if I went somewhere downtown and had to walk to a store, he would take my hand. I could hardly keep up with him, but he slowed just enough so I could. He teased as most dads tease daughters. I was so proud to go places with him. I’m a very lucky woman to have had such a gentleman for a father. If he were still alive, he would be 96 years old tomorrow. He guides me even now, thirty one years after the last time I talked with him. He is missed.

My new reminder for 2020. It will spark a great memory and spur me onward.

Tonight, the Babe and I are meeting friends at the VFW for the annual New Year’s Eve dinner and dance. The band is DayBreak. It will be fun to see our friends after a few weeks of being other places. Dan doesn’t drink, so we have a designated driver. I pray for all of you to be safe, make it safely home, and wake up well tomorrow.

Thank you all for reading today, I appreciate you taking time to do so. I’ll be here tomorrow, and hope to see you then.

Superb Sunday

This was indeed, a superb Sunday before Christmas. We didn’t have to be out with the masses shopping for last minute gifts, but we were able to use our mad Ninja skills and help our cousins, Rob and Joleen, a/k/a Father Christmas and Mrs. Claus, to pay a visit to our 90 year old Mom before the old boy gets too busy in a couple of days. It was great to surprise her, she enjoyed it a lot.

Mom, Father Christmas, and Joleen
Father Christmas, his wife, and Baby Brother Tim
Father Christmas looking all regal

Joleen is my cousin on Mom’s side of the family. Our mothers were sisters. Aunt Judy died a couple of years ago. Both of Joleen’s parents died within a few months of each other, and that was difficult for her. Her folks were good to all of us nieces and nephews, and we are grateful to have been close when we were growing up. I was older, so I usually babysat everyone, so that was quite different than growing up as a peer or playmate. I was another authority figure to most of my cousins. One said he always wanted to call me “Aunt Kathy”, because he knew I was close to his mom. His mom just died in October. I miss all my aunts.

Mom’s family had quite a few characters in it. And like many families, there were a slug of cousins who were the same age. At one time, my mom, her aunt, and her cousin were all pregnant, and 1951 saw three more males born into the family. Mom’s Mother, Grandma Bobell, always said when more boy babies were born, there would be another war in fifteen to twenty years. Sure enough, Vietnam reared it’s ugly head in the 1960’s. Has anyone else ever heard that? I’ll have to do some research on that subject and let you know. It could be old wives tales or just how population increases, but I though it sounded like the truth. Grandma could really sell a bill of goods, let me tell you. She was pretty funny. She passed away just before my dad did, in 1988.

Rob and Joleen had another engagement after they left Mom’s house. They were going to a NICU, at the request of a grandmother, who wanted her tiny, new grandbaby to see Santa. It was beautiful to hear them say they weren’t sure what the situation was with the baby. They have raised two daughters, and I’m sure they’ll give not only the little angel some comfort and love, they will do it for the baby, parents, and grandparents. Just like they did for my mom. This is what good people do for others at this time of year. Spread blessings even though they are not sure what to do. Just by being there, it says everything. It’s how Jesus wants us to be. I only hope I remember that the next time I’m angry, or the next time I’m too tired, or the next time someone hurts me. I want to respond with love. And patience, and understanding. I have a long way to go. We all do!

I hope this evening finds you safe, warm, and full of love. Thank you so much for reading this, the last Sunday before Christmas. I will be here again tomorrow, and I hope to meet up with you, too.