Happy Birthday, Addison!

Today, thirteen years ago, the Babe and I became Grandparents. What a life altering experience! It’s been quite a ride, and I pray the next thirteen years is as memorable and filled with love. The day Addison was born, we made a trip up to Sioux Falls to attend a wedding shower. I was helping throw the shower for Dan’s niece, Michelle. We knew Tracy was experiencing something, but didn’t think anything would come of it. We arrived, set the tables up, and had to turn around and go home. We hoped to make it back in time, and figured we would. It was about three and a half hours to get there. Nothing was happening yet, she was in the L&D room, her mom Sandy and Aunt Sharon were there, along with Grandpa Randy and Grandma Peggy.

It so happened February 10 was also Grandma Sandy’s birthday. How fun to become a Grandma on your birthday! Sandy passed away ten years ago from lung cancer, but she enjoyed her grandkids so much in the short time she lived after they were born. Sandy and I became good friends, and talked a lot about her kids growing up. The Babe and I married when our kids were all adults, so I didn’t experience them growing up. Together we have five kids, and now four Grandkids.

It was a beautiful thing to hear Sandy and Dan talk about when they were expecting Blake all those years ago in Sioux Falls. They talked about how broke they were (we all were, back in the day), and the cradle the Babe made. He made two more, one for each of his grandkids. It was truly a labor of love. They were one couple who could get past the divorce stuff and be friends. I’m sure they took the long way around to get there, but it was a wonderful thing to see. We would all be very lucky to be in that mindset for our kids of divorce.

I waited until everyone else held Addison, and the room was packed with people. Grandma Sandy brought her over to me, and said, “You haven’t had your turn, yet.” She placed the little pink baby in my arms. The tears came for both of us, and it was a beautiful moment. I think of Sandy often when the kids do something funny or even naughty, and how we talked so much. And that moment I first held our girl.

“Being a teenager means you’re not a little kid anymore”- Addison, on turning thirteen.

Sandy was still working when Addison was born, and I was not. Luckily, I got to watch her when the sitter had something else to do, or later when she couldn’t go to daycare due to the sniffles. I had so much fun with her. I think we have a special bond, and it would be there even with all the other grandmas Addison has. Her family extends as far as she can see, and it’s awesome. When I made them all Christmas stockings, she asked if we could make one for her daddy’s sister’s baby. We did. She is generous, happy, knows her own mind, expresses herself in times of trouble, and isn’t afraid to tell the teacher(s) if someone is treating her or someone else badly. She just gets it. She’s always “in” to go for ice cream, too.

We have watched countless dance recitals, classes, demonstrations, and competitions. This girl loves to be on stage dancing a solo. It amazes us a kid can learn to do that. We didn’t have experience speaking in front of people until we became adults. Glad they teach kids that now. So when they’re not kids anymore, they’ll be comfortable dancing, giving a speech, directing their workforce, etc. Addison has a heart of gold, and I pray she always looks at life with the joy she does. She loves her family so much, and her cousins in Maryland and Minnesota.

Thanks for reading today. It’s my pleasure to see you here, where I’ll be tomorrow. Hope you are, too. Now, it’s back to the book rewrite. Have a blessed day.

The Day After

Today is a very cloudy, chilly day in Nebraska. The kind where naps all day would be great. A nice fluffy blanket, the fireplace, a good book, a dog to pet. All elements in what would be a nice scenario. Then you’d probably have insomnia all night tonight, so don’t do it! Be stronger than the lure of the fire, blankets, and all.

It has always amazed me how quickly Christmas is just over and nothing else (except post Christmas sales) is mentioned about it. In years past, I’ve just been glad it’s over, eager to celebrate with my dad and family on his birthday. Dad was the first New Year’s Baby in Omaha, Nebraska in 1924. For awhile, my mom’s whole family would come for a day of football, fun, and food. That was also the day Dad would unwrap and reveal his magnificent birthday cake. It was an honest to gosh home made fruit cake. And no joke about it, it was unbelievable how good it was. Mom mixed it up the day after Thanksgiving, and baked, cooled and wrapped in foil. Every week she would douse it with bourbon or brandy, and cover it back up. It was moist, chewy, and delicious. He loved it.

Those were the days. Cousins over to play, (I used to have to watch them, being the oldest girl), everyone was happy, celebrating the holiday and my dad. It was something I looked forward to every year.

We lost dad December 7, 1988. He was only sixty four years old. That’s all. Mom had to send back his first social security check. The fruit cake never saw the light of day again. The math is done in my head every year to calculate how old he would be by now, and I marvel at how I am older than he was when he died. How I wish he could have seen how his grandkids grew up, and that he has another little dolly in his life, great granddaughter Kayla. It is a thought, that’s all, and we all go back to doing our every day stuff. We have to.

One thing I’m working at is drawing a line where it’s healthy to think about the memories a person accumulates in life, and where it crosses the line into simply living in the past. That is a bad place to live. You will never be able to go forward. Life is not meant to be static. It is dynamic, ever changing. Just being alive requires our bodies to continue changing to function. Breaking down cells to do what they were designed to do, coordinating the work of the systems of the body to sustain our lives, and adjusting to the changes in the life of that body require that we be in the here and now, not back there in the past. Being safe is comforting but you must venture out into the living world. Into your life, and make the most of it.

About a year ago, I started to look at writing a book. I found some very supportive online groups on Facebook, and have really grown more towards that goal. Looking back to a goal from last summer, I wanted to get a blog up and running. You’re looking at it now. I have learned so much about blogging, and I need to learn more. So it will continue to be a part of my day, and I hope it’s part of yours. Every day something meaningful can happen, but writing about it all makes it worth doing. I’m proud to have met that goal. It all takes repetition and practice.

Next year, I’m adding some pages to my website. I need to honestly describe myself, talk about what I’ve done in life, and put it all down on my “About” page. That is very hard for me to do. It feels like bragging, which it isn’t, but being raised to be a compliant little girl who didn’t make waves puts me in a spot. I’m going to speak up from now on. I have to. I’m the one who will finish the book, and I have to be the one to market myself and sell the book. So I’m not bragging.

My goal for today is to start quilting the project I’ve put together for my friend. I want to be able to have it completed before New Year’s Eve, when we will see her and our friends for dinner at the VFW. Dinner, dancing, and live music will be the order of the evening. It’ll be fun.

Thank you for reading today. I hope you are warm and cozy wherever you are. And stop by again tomorrow. I will be here. See you then.

The Magical Day is Here!

We are just relaxing at home for awhile before going to a friend’s home for Christmas Dinner. We have enjoyed holiday dinners with Lou, his daughter Beth, and Dan’s daughter Tracy, husband TJ, and grandchildren Addison and Gavin. We have done this for several years. Lou’s wife Sharon was Tracy and Blake’s aunt. Sharon’s sister Sandy was Tracy and Blake’s Mom. This would make a good character line for a novel, wouldn’t it?? Sandy, Sharon, and I were friends. Yes, I was lucky enough to be friends with these two great ladies.

They both passed away from lung cancer, the same kind their mother died from. We have formed sort of a family, the group of us. Lou invites us for many family celebrations. Today, Christmas, 2019, is a celebration of not only the birth of Jesus, it will be the first dinner in Lou’s rennovated lower level of his home. He was among those with devastating loss after the flood last spring. The lake house has never, in over fifty years, been flooded. This past year, the once in a lifetime flood happened. And boy, did it. Many houses in that area are still waiting to be repaired. Luckily, Lou has many good friends and contacts in the construction industry in the Omaha area. He is retired but is what I still consider to be one of the good, honest, and reliable businessmen in the business. He is a wealth of information of how to get things done. He is a good friend to Dan and me, and he was always there for the kids when Dan wasn’t. I owe him a big one, too. If he hadn’t offered Dan a job at Watkins Concrete Block Co., Inc, Dan and Sandy would have never moved to Omaha. I probably would have never met him. So I’m thankful for Lou. He has indirectly affected my life and it’s outcome.

It was a beautiful day and meal. Lou is an excellent cook, and we all had tasks assigned to finish the meal off. The conversation was wonderful, lots of stories, lots of love exchanged. How lucky we are to have spent the day with such good people.

Now starts all the end of the year clearance sales, the weight loss ads, the gym ads. Don’t pay a bunch of money for something you won’t do a month from now. Remember any day is a good day to start a new behavior, to break a bad habit, to make a change that will be beneficial in the long run. Any day is a good day to start.

Thank you for reading today’s very short blog. I hope your Christmas Day has been a good day. It’s whats in your heart that counts. I’ll be back tomorrow, and back at working on the quilt, then the rewrite of my book. See you then!

Twas the Night Before Christmas

How are the stirring creatures in your house tonight? Have you had a busy day of last minute preparations? Need to shop? I hope you are through with the work part of this holiday and ready for the enjoyment.

No one came home for Christmas, and they’re all celebrating in their homes tonight. We will spend time with the Babe’s daughter, son-in-law, and grandchildren tomorrow. It’ll be great, as always.

Do people need to do lots of returns and exchanges after Christmas anymore? It seems like it’s been decades since people had to shop in stores, so I’m not sure what customs are still applicable and which ones are not. I don’t think as kids we actually were ever allowed to return things. Usually everything fit, especially the underwear, socks, and pajamas. We received gifts that we needed, mostly, nothing frivilous, and no Easy Bake Oven for me.

In some ways, I can’t help but think that may be why Christmas seemed so magical, so special. We were always grateful. I want to consciously practice gratitude from now on. I am very grateful for my life as it is. I’ve been blessed in countless ways. Being human, I want to be sure I’m as grateful as I should be. I try to be mindful of teaching the grandkids little things to be glad about. They are really good at telling us about the good things in their lives. We love to hear the conversations with Addison when we pick her up from Middle School. We are learning so much! And we are grateful she so eagerly talks with us and shares so freely.

While I dearly miss my kids, I know that life at the present is what we need to concentrate on. I enjoy the here and now, and am so grateful for the time the Babe and I have together. We are getting to the ages where you never know what can happen to one or the other of us. He has ischemic heart disease. The past two years have seen new complications so we are counting any more time together as a bonus.

When I was a little girl, we learned first hand of how suddenly life can change. The Christmas Eve of 1964, our mom’s father had a massive heart attack and died. We were not at the family gathering that year, because one of my little brothers was sick. We received two phone calls. One, to say Grandpa had a heart attack and was in the squad en route to the hospital. The second call, to say Grandpa died, came within another half an hour. At twelve, I was devastated. So was my older brother. The other kids were little, as were most of my cousins. It was the most confusing Christmas ever.

I do touch on this memory every year, not to be depressing, but to be remembering. Remembering is what makes us learn from the past, and not repeat mistakes. From what I remember, there was talk of family division, differences of opinion, and unresolved conflict. The family was no different from others. These problems are present everywhere more than one person is living. How a family operates during times of crisis and loss is what makes or breaks it. Grandma did go on and have a productive life at the age of 59. She learned to drive and purchased several different homes. She moved quite a bit. We didn’t get to spend any summer days with her anymore, since she had to work. My mother and her sisters were close for a very long time. They seemed more forgiving than they had been.

So, if you are at odds with anyone, make peace with them. You may only have one chance. If you haven’t seen someone, call them. Forgive. And seek forgiveness. Go to sleep tonight with the gift of peace in your life. Wake up tomorrow with joy that you have another day to love and hope. Tomorrow is the first new day after the birth of Jesus. And all will be right with the world. Make sure it is with you, too.

Thank you for reading today. Please come back again tomorrow, we’ll have tales to tell of Christmas dinner with our dear friend, Lou. He is in his eighties and had to rebuild the damaged part of his lovely lake home. What a job!

Until then, Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

Suburban Saturday

Maybe Gretna, Nebraska isn’t considered a suburb, since it is it’s own little town. We don’t associate closely with Omaha, or Papillion and LaVista, so I suppose I should have titled this Small Town Saturday. The gist of it is, I’m snug at home, working on a quilt that has a darling scene on it. After it’s gifted, I will make sure to post the finished project. It’s a labor of love. Tomorrow, if time permits, I will begin quilting it.

I simply love to create things. Whether it’s with words or fabrics and thread, I love the whole process. My parents instilled in all of us a great imagination. Some of that, I believe, is from reading. Reading in and of itself helps create things in your imagination, your mind. Whenever I read a book as a child, I usually pictured scenes in my head. The characters were real people. Sometimes, the people resembled the characters in television shows or movies we saw. It was my brain, making something concrete out of something in my imagination, that happened to come from a book. Maybe that is why I still love fiction to this day. To think next year, I will see my name on the spine of a book I wrote is a thrill beyond belief. It won’t be without hard work. My goal is to get the process of writing so ingrained in me that it will be similar to doing a large quilting project, or a remodeling project. I’ve done lots of those over the years. When I was a single mom, it’s how my sons learned to use power tools, and make things. I had learned from watching my dad, and was able to teach them some basics, and with the help of shop class (before schools did away with it).

While I was working on my project today, it occurs to me to be mindful of those who dread the thought of Christmas. There are many, many people who are alone this year. I have been in that position, and it is hard. Yes, I had my children, but it was not the same as having an adult man to be in a relationship with. God blessed me with the Babe, and he even asked me to marry him on Christmas Eve, 1997. I couldn’t make that up. It was wonderful.

Some folks aren’t happy with their lives for one reason or another. Other folks need to make major changes in their lives to have a chance at staying alive until this time next year. Obesity, Alcoholism, Smoking, are all conditions people have control over. Their lives are dependent on it. All around us are people who are not secure in their lives and situations. Jobs can be unstable. Homelessness abounds. Children are cold and hungry. Women (and men) can be afraid of their partners. Abuse, both physical and verbal, is so rampant in life today, we cannot continue to turn a blind eye to situations in front of us. Find a way to become involved to help people who cannot escape these situations on their own.

My brothers have worked out with a cousin to surprise my mom tomorrow afternoon. You’ll see it here, I think we may render the old girl speechless, which is quite a task. Good job, brothers! Can’t wait to share it with you all.

Keep your spirits up this next week. If the holidays are hard for you, take heart. They are hard for me, too. I’ll tell that story later. It’s another one you cannot make up. I like to think of soldiers who are away from home, and hope they know how we appreciate their sacrifices. It’s tough on a family to be separated at times of family celebrations. We are such a great country because of our soldiers, who have kept us free all these years. Thank you all for your service.

First responders, nurses, doctors, workers in nursing homes, hospital workers, anyone in the service industries, know we are grateful for what you do. These are usually thankless jobs. Make sure to thank those who perform these duties.

Thank you for reading today. Let’s meet again tomorrow, and you can hear about our surprise for our 90 year old mother. I’ll be here, I really hope you are.

Magnificent Monday!

The sun is shining despite some gale force winds and a flurry of snow this morning. I’m so glad I can stay in today, finishing my decorating (maybe) unless I start looking at storage boxes in our basement and rediscover fun stuff. I think Addison remembers a lot from years ago, but maybe not. Surprises are fun.

Talking about surprises, I moved a box of CD’s and saw this one on top. Playing it now. This was such a good one! So, with the help of Eric Clapton, I’m going to get a lot done today, providing the dogs are good and my achy, breaky body holds up.

Eric Clapton. One of the best.

A lot of this music is almost reverent. I believe it was Clapton’s tenth album solo, in 1986. The song, “Holy Mother,” just tears at my heart. A relative was in the throes of several addictions and this song always made me think of him trying to fight his demons. He struggled a very long time. He is over twenty-six years sober. He has a lot to be proud of, but he is modest about it. He has come so far, and I’m so proud of him.

Holy Mother

written by Clapton/Bishop

Holy Mother, where are you?

Tonight I feel broken in two.

I’ve seen the stars fall from the sky.

Holy Mother, can’t keep from crying.

O I need your help this time,

Get me through this lonely night.

Tell me please, which way to turn

To find myself again.

Holy Mother, hear my prayer,

Somehow, I know you’re still there.

Send me please some peace of mind

Take away this pain.

I can’t wait, I can’t wait, I can’t wait any longer,

I can’t wait, I can’t wait, I can’t wait for you.

Holy Mother, hear my cry,

I’ve cursed your name a thousand times.

I’ve felt the anger running through my soul;

All I need is a hand to hold.

Oh I feel the end is come,

No longer my legs will run,

You know I would rather be

In your arms tonight.

When my hands no longer play,

My voice is still, I fade away.

Holy Mother, then I’ll be

Lying in, safe within your arms.

This song helps me heal, it helps me accept things I don’t want to accept. I look at it as a prayer. What do you think?? Is that possible?? I believe it is. Here are a couple of links to YouTube, so you can listen to the song. The first is Clapton alone, the second is Clapton and Pavarotti. Like most good, beautiful music, it can be sung a variety of ways.

Love this guy. His guitar playing is stellar!
Same song, different setting.

Much of what we hear in the backgrounds of our lives can help make our mood. It may depend on the genre of music, some writers can only write while instruments play in their background. I can listen to rock and roll, complete with words, and it peps me up considerably. Jazz in the background makes me get through some really mundane tasks. I have not tried writing to it, but I think it will be the same experience. I can really sew to music. It’s amazing how the repetition helps you with the words, too.

Much of what I listen to, my kids listened to at home. On Sunday mornings, we had our own “Jazz Brunch” and listened to a local radio station who played Jazz from 9 am to NOON on Sundays. It was a great time, we read the paper, ate, talked, and cleaned up the kitchen. Good times!

Thank you for joining me today. If you are out, stay warm, and be kind. Your day will go much better. I hope to see you tomorrow!

Friday – Yesterday and Today and Saturday – O Christmas Tree

Anyone who knows me knows how much I love music. Good music. And live music that is good is on my top ten list. Date night tonight with five good friends is dinner first at Longhorn’s, then our group of thirteen will go to the Omaha Community Playhouse and see a show called Yesterday and Today. We have gone with this group of friends to see these incredibly talented entertainers in every one of their shows we can see. The list is growing, and you can always be assured of great music. They can sing anything, and you know you’ve been sung to. These brothers, Billy, Ryan, and Matthew, along with their very talented band, sing and play guitar no matter whatever else is happening. They are dedicated to their message of family, Beatles music, and following your dreams. They speak of their dad, who died way too young, at 42. He instilled their love of Beatles music. It was their entertainment and education. They have impressive musical skills and you can tell, they enjoy every minute of it.

This year, they are starting to look towards Tomorrow. It seems some of their children are actively learning guitar. And they are quite good. Billy’s son, Ciran, accompanied him on “Yesterday.” I have a video, but for some reason it will not play properly in WordPress. It is perfect to play in Facebook, or on Google, and anywhere else, but here. Hopefully, I can share it with you at another time.

The acoustic part of the evening was new and great.

It is always strange being out later than we are normally. Getting older, you get some habits that seem easy to form, like staying home and going to bed early. We all had a good time last night, and we know we were young and energetic at one time. It’s their time, now, and our place is step back and see what these young people who have hearts of gold and talent and fire in their soul have for the world. We need it to be kindness, sharing, and love. Love of one another like we could not do enough. Sharing in a way which we fell short. And kindness to replace bullying and uncaring. They can do it. I know they will. And one day, they will be the ones who stay home and go to bed early. It is how the world keeps on, one day at a time, for centuries.

And today was the new Christmas Tree unveiling. I need another string of 100 clear lights. Three places were out of them on Saturday. That’s a bit crazy. I’ll have to try Lowe’s, Menards, or Home Depot.

This is the tallest tree I’ve ever had. It has a huge capacity for decorations. And it’s beautiful. I’ll need help when I’m too crippled and old to put it up, but I know Gavin will always help Grandma, and so will Addison. It’s nice to know.

So after Church tomorrow, I’m going in search of the holy grail of clear tree lights. And then, finish up as much on the tree as I can. It’ll be a nice day again, and with the new sunrise come a day of possibilities. Stay tuned for the next exciting installment! Thank you for reading today.