Monday Habits

TRUTH!

We have all done this at one time or another. Some folks are geniuses at it. There may be perfectly valid reasons people do this. Often it’s a matter of conditioning. You may have learned it from childhood. I catch myself sometimes asking the Babe if he’s mad. He says, “No.” I need to stop that. Sometimes it flashes back at me from when I was a kid, if Mom got mad at you or someone else, she wouldn’t speak to you. It is pretty passive-aggressive, and we’d walk on egg shells the next time we’d be around whoever she was mad at. It took me a long time to learn you can be mad at someone and still have them in your life. You get over your anger and include them in your life again. Most of the time. I rarely saw people reconcile their differences. My parents never argued in front of us kids. Many didn’t. But you can rest assured, my kids and I always talked things out. So do the Babe and I. Most things don’t bother him at all. I’m glad. I’ve learned to be a lot more easygoing, too. Life is so good.

YES!!

I know we sometimes get off track when we try something new, be it a way of thinking or new habits for better living. There is always a happy medium, we just have to find it. The days I am out on errands of helping Mom are days it’s hard to readjust when I get home. All the great habits and good intentions in the world seem to be out the window. It’s time then to read a good book, research my characters, tighten up a story line, or just watch a mindless movie. It all helps clear my head. I cannot stop, I can only pause.

Mom just cracks me up sometimes. She said last night her TV quit working. It’s black. Nothing happens. Between her fear of using remote controls and her failing vision, it’s hard to tell what is going on. She has this idea, however, that only her sons know how to troubleshoot TV, Cable, and remote controls. I’ve told her many times I’m the tech geek in the family. I had to learn from the kids when they left home. I’m pretty good at it now. But you know, when you’re 90, you still don’t think girls know what boys do.

Using all my technical experience and education, I can assure you the problem is solved. She needed new batteries in the COX Cable remote. Worked like a charm then. She got the TV seven years ago, and this is the first time she’s had to change batteries. Wow. With all due respect, I wonder if she’ll outlast the new batteries? Time will tell.

We have to be patient with our elderly, after all, they taught us all the good and useful things we have retained. Until we had our own view of the world, we saw it through their glasses. Now we have our own visions, many learned the hard way. It’s still good you’re at the place you are now. All of that, whatever it is, made you who you are today.

Yes, they should have!

We’re picking up Addison later today, and going to late lunch. I finally understand why old people eat dinner at 4 p.m. You’re done for the day, won’t have indigestion from lying down and trying to sleep with a full stomach, plus the meal is cheaper. And we really aren’t that hungry anyway. Things always have a way of working out, don’t they? I appreciate you taking the time to read, it’s something I appreciate a lot. See you tomorrow, hopefully earlier. Then we’ll get more done, right? Enjoy!

Marvelous Monday Morning

I’m actually starting this on Sunday just after posting my Sunday blog. Today (Monday) Mom starts her individual therapy for her back. I think she has eight sessions and we’re hoping she keeps using these mechanics and newly gained strength as she gets back out in her flower gardens this spring and summer. We talked to her doctor last fall (I spoke for my younger brothers and myself) about our seeing Mom as losing strength and tottering around, since her balance is impacted by her diminished vision and her hearing loss. Mom was not happy and felt picked on, but when I left, the doctor must have told her how lucky she was that we not only noticed her failing, but actually said something. Mom’s a very stubborn person and is hard to mention something that could be improved. And, as her ENT says, “All old people lie.” I like that statement, because they do! They all want to stay at home even when it becomes unsafe for them to do so. Many old folks turn the comment around, and point out things they don’t like that you do, and that makes it worse. At any rate, I hope she learns what she needs to so she can stay in her home for at least another year or so. Steps are dangerous at her age, and the bedrooms and bathroom are on the second story. Lots of opportunity for a disaster, especially adding in a cat who wanders all over the place. Yikes!

This is a special date for the Babe and me. On March 2, 1996, we met each other for our first date. The guy kept following me around and convincing me he wasn’t going anywhere. I folded like a cheap tent. Seriously, I did not have a great dating record. I picked people that weren’t right for me, and once I got over that, here comes this guy that tells the truth. He calls when he says he will. He wants to spend time with me. He thinks I’m wonderful. And I think he is. And he says, “I love you.” in the first week we’re together. I say, “Oh, no you don’t. You can’t. You won’t.” I just don’t want another disappointment. And here we are, married for 22 years this October. He’s not going anywhere. Neither am I. He’s my best friend and my greatest fan. I’m his, too. I told him it would be an honor to be his wife. It still is, Babe. So on this, our 24th anniversary of knowing each other, I say, “Thanks, Babe. For being who and what I always hoped for. I had been told it didn’t exist. But I found it in you. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart. Love you.”

October 3, 1998 – we were 46 and 48, respectively. Babies! Photo courtesy of Janet Nichols.
Lucky us, to still have each other. This year, we’ll be 70 and 68, respectively. I’m his much younger wife.

The Babe is a man of his word. He vowed to turn my hair gray when we got married. Nearly twenty two years later, see what a good job he did! It’s been a wild ride, mostly due to health issues. Cancer (me), heart disease (him – over and over), a stroke (him), carotid artery surgery (him). From the beginning, we thought we’d be lucky if he lived twenty years – and he has beaten that number and we reap the benefits of it every day. We are grateful.

Enough mushy stuff, as my son Frankie would say. It’s pretty overcast this morning. We had a snow shower, but only in the back yard. There are piles of snowflakes there, but the front yard is bare. Go figure! This past weekend was Addison’s first Dance Competition, at the MAC in Council Bluffs. Waiting to hear how she did, but usually she’s high in the rankings. She has eight dances this year, so there are eight opportunities to shine.

It’s time to finish cutting out some fabric for my Poppy quilt. It’ll be good to have something new to hang on the freshly painted wall. Quilts will be my Art for the rest of the year. I want to concentrate on publishing my books, and quilting, not add any more to my plate. The Nebraska Writers Guild has created online training for Authors posting on social media. The concentration right now is on Pinterest. I need to make some time in the next couple months to learn this well, so it becomes second nature, kind of like Facebook is. So many pieces to create your marketing plan. It’s amazing.

Thank you so much for reading today, I appreciate it. I’ll be here tomorrow, I’d love to have you return. Have a beautiful Monday.

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.

This Thursday

As all anatomical auras are, Allison ached at an idea in an anthology of ideas. Allison inched along, acting as if all’s A-#1. An inkspot advanced around an Asian artwork. Allison iced an elbow as aching ebbed. “Always, an energy aching,” as Allison’s extremity acted unquestionably unusable.

Zelda rang the bell. She was not wanting someone to come to the door. Zelda crept the perimeter, holding the crucifix near her head. The magic would come soon. Most would then be forgiven, noted, brought to the jail per the magistrate, following the hearing.

When All Else Fails . . .
Consult a Book of Prompts!

Hoping you are still reading. Did you think I totally lost my mind? My ChromeBook was malfunctioning? Someone changed my keyboard to type gobblygook? None of the above.

Most of the time when sitting down to write my blog, I already have an inspiration of some sort. Either it’s an experience, someone did something funny, aggravating, illegal, or I try to capture a strong feeling that is in my heart and on my mind. There is so much out there to share, and I’m lucky you listen by reading.

Some days, the ideas, words, thoughts, and stories just don’t happen. I would imagine a songwriter or poet experiences much the same. Poetry, I’ve read, forces you to use fewer and more exact words to get your point across, to complete your story, and help the reader use their imagination. A songwriter uses fewer words, also. The music can fill in where words cannot, where they are inadequate or fail to convey what is intended. A beautiful song, thoughtful lyrics, and a melody that sweeps you away, in my mind, is a huge #1 hit. It doesn’t matter how much airtime it gets, how many people buy it, if it strikes me in my heart and soul, it’s done it’s job. I’ll always remember what I felt when I first heard it. That songwriter did their job well.

For the times the words don’t come, when the ideas are elusive, when no words exist for a writer, the feeling keeps nagging, and you are still coming up empty, prompts work sometimes. Prompts like I pictured above, Writer’s Digest presents A Year of Writing Prompts. The second photo lists specific dates and ideas. February 27, Vowel-uable Writing. I wrote the first paragraph all with words that began with vowels, the second paragraph is written with words that began with consonants.

I know my readers are very bright people and have already seen what I just described along with the prompt. The whole idea of this is to get the brain thinking, how can you phrase this with only vowels, are consonants easier (you bet!), do people still use a Thesaurus? I just did. For the first time ever, I think. You could entertain yourself all day doing this. You may come up with some unintelligible sentences, but you would have exercised your brain. This is why I blog every day. If there is no time to work on my book or my quilting or my art, it all goes into my blog. I enjoy it so much.

Yes, I noticed also the prompts are only for 365 days and we have the elusive 366th day this year, since it’s Leap Year, an election year, and we have to even up the Gregorian Calendar. We have used this calendar for over 400 years. The primary motivation for this was primarily religious, to calculate when Easter would be. Lent begins 40 days prior to Easter.

All in all, it helps even time out. In reading this Huffington Post article, I was unaware of skipping a leap year. I don’t recall ever doing it, but is sounds as if it does happen. Read the article here. Why did we not know this before?

All the while I worked as a programmer, coder, systems analyst, and before the Y2K date stuff hit the fan, we used Julian Dates to define our date fields in the programs we used. It’s just what we did. I liked the old COBOL programs we wrote and maintained. I’ve heard many companies are searching for us old, retired COBOL programmers and will pay a good chunk of change to those of us who know what to do with these programs. Done right the coding is a masterpiece. When debugging, it was always one little thing, like a period, that usually caused your program to loop on into infinity and beyond! Some could be out there, still chugging away. Usually it fixed the problem when you either deleted the period, or added it in. Sometimes, when I finally found an elusive error, I would state, “Sometimes, I even amaze myself.” It keeps your ego in the humble zone for sure. I loved being able to write something from scratch or even modify someone else’s program, and make it work, adding an entirely new function. So glad I had a mentor who steered me towards that field of work so I could earn the amount of money I needed to help raise my kids, have a house, retirement, and all the things normal families do. It was a great run.

Thank you so much for reading today, I am appreciative of your time. For not knowing what to write, this prompt took us a few places I would never have expected when I started writing. And in that, dear friends, is where I can say humbly, “Sometimes, I even amaze myself!” And it’s a good thing. See you tomorrow! Have a great afternoon!

Tuesday Fun

Mom had her last balance class today. I think she’s going to miss it, it was more social interaction than she wanted to admit and she enjoyed that more than she thought she would. Plus, she is stronger. She was a little wobbly after having lunch, and I made sure she got back in the house safely. No more now until her back therapy starts on Monday. So, here we go again.

There was a delightful lady in the waiting area talking with the coordinators before her individual therapy. She spoke rather loudly, and was so funny. She was English, and had a fun way of telling her story about why she needed therapy. She started back in the 1990’s, and gave a blow by blow description of every ache she had from then on. She talked of gardening and said, “What would an old biddy be doing gardening?” I haven’t heard that phrase “old biddy” for a long, long time. It struck me as rather funny. I would imagine those coodinators hear many a story, tall tale, and life story of the folks they have for patients. It would be quite a book, wouldn’t it?

I’m finishing reading the book by my friend, Shannon Schofield. It’s a story that follows the young lady telling it from childhood through adulthood and tells the trauma suffered and overcome. It would be an inspiration to a person who had been through similar trauma. Many, many people have stories of how they have come through the dark, into the light of healing, joy, and love. In these times, there is no reason for a person to suffer. Find someone who can help you through a doctor, educator, family services agency, or a clergy person. And prayer. The power of prayer is far reaching and complete. Give it a chance.

The rest of the week will be a good time to rearrange some storage stuff from Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and my snowman collection. Once that is done, I want to unearth my recumbent bike to start working out with it March 1. I want to use it for the next six months and get some exercise along with the knee injections I’ll get starting March 7. If it’s sitting in the middle of the room downstairs, I’ll use it. I’ll make myself use it. And I can read while pedaling. Win, win!

Whether an old biddy or an old broad, I want to be a work of art! The Babe already is!

Dan and I were young (in our 40s) when we met, dated, and got married. The comic Pickles (above) reminded us of our neighbors, Darwin and Pryllis. They were such great neighbors when I moved next door to them with my three kids. They were a watchful eye, a place to go if the kids needed help, and they overlooked normal teenage noise later on. Good people. Now, Pickles reminds me of the Babe and me. We’ve grown into that age of our lives. It goes by so quickly!

For all the jokes about Coronavirus, it is appearing to be quite a huge thing. The CDC is issuing warnings. We had better realize if we do have an outbreak here, it could very well mean we have to quarrantine in our own spaces. Americans, in my opinion, are going to be reluctant to give up their freedom to jump on a plane or into a car and go wherever we want whenever we want. If we have to stay home for any length of time, we had better prepare ourselves mentally for it. It would be in the interest of everyone should we have to stay confined. I’m not worried at all about the folks at the National Guard Camp in Ashland. What would concern me are the people who insist on going out when they are clearly ill – coughing all over everyone, sneezing, and contanimating everything they approach. And everyone. In the meantime, I think I need to stay stocked up on staples we can cook meals with, just in case.

I always love when it’s time to get out the patio and deck furniture and hose everything off for the season. It’s way too early to do it, but not too early to think about it. Once it’s warm for a good amount of time, I like to sweep the concrete patio and deck, and hose it all off to get the dirt off. The hose works great to clean all the screens off as well. The basement windows haven’t been cleaned too often lately, so it’ll be great to get that done. Once we get the blizzard we always get this time of year. Between now and May, it will snow like crazy at least once. It has to. We’ve only had 14 inches of snow so far. Last year, we had three times that much by now.

Thank you for reading today. I appreciate it. I’ll be here tomorrow, hope you can join me then.

Satisfying Sunday

Ahhhh. It’s another fantastic weather day here in Gretna, Nebraska. We went to Church today and are mentally preparing for the week ahead. We talk about what we each need to do, what we might want to do, and what we can do together. The more time I spend with the Babe, the more I miss him when our schedules take us away from each other for days on end. In the seven years since Dan retired, we have really changed a lot in our schedules and habits.

For example, he always went to lunch at 11 a.m. Even though we don’t have breakfast until 8:30 or so, he still wants lunch at 11. This drives me nuts. I was a late luncher when I worked (1 p.m. or so), and still would rather lunch later. Depending on what we have, it can take me through until a small snack in the evening, and I’m good. It’s still hard to regulate us and come to a happy medium. A work in progress for sure.

And the Babe prefers to go out for lunch. That means somewhere with Keno. I’d rather not, and instead of one more drink, one more drink, it’s one more game, one more game. I’m not a gambler at all. We played the slots in Council Bluffs on occasion, but I never spent more than $20. We no longer go there, I think because now it’s quite a jaunt.

The Pastor talked about faith and fear today. That isn’t necessarily a sermon topic only, it’s a topic we all deal with every day. When we have faith, we don’t fear. And when we fear, we don’t have faith. Faith in ourselves, faith in God, faith in our abilities, fear of the unknown, fear of other people, fear of living. I do believe strongly in God. He’s gotten me out of a lot of bad situations and medical conditions. Part of the belief comes from growing up Catholic, with twelve years of Catholic schools. My parents sacrificed for the tuition, which doesn’t seem like much right now, but it was a lot back then. After I divorced at 30, I stopped going to Mass, mostly because whatever parish I took my kids, they talked about people not committing as they should, that’s why divorce was so prevalent.

Of course, I had to tell my kids something. I told them I believe in marriage, which is why I got a divorce. It’s because marriage is about sharing, caring, working together, and cherishing each other. Their dad and I didn’t have that. We weren’t growing together, we grew apart. I was angry at my church, but never lost sight of God. He was always there. During my best and worst moments. I never stopped believing. My faith wasn’t the dwelling I went to once a week. I carried it with me everyday. My faith wasn’t the humans who were just as flawed as I am, and who preached to condemn any of us who were human. Except for them.

Whether you believe in God or not, you still operate on what you have faith in – yourself, your partner, your job, whatever it is. Believing is what makes the difference, even if you call it a higher power. Something is larger than life, larger than you. Lots of us know there is something greater than we are. Hopefully it is real, and something that is static in your life. My God never leaves me. I leave Him by fearing, doubting, and being angry.

This guy was singing his song so brilliantly this morning!

Nature is what tells me there is so much greater than me. This cardinal was singing his heart out at the top of a Cottonwood tree while I sat on the deck earlier. You know how high Cottonwoods are? About 70 – 100 feet tall. I’d guess this tree is closer to 100 feet high. How all of this exists within my view and enters different seasons to beautify my environment just amazes me. I’m so grateful to live in this Wonderful World!

Thank you for reading today. I appreciate your support, and hope you come back tomorrow. I’ll be here for sure. Enjoy the sights and sounds of your world today. I hope it awes you!

Tenuous Tuesday

I’m amazed the results are not in for the Caucus in Iowa. I never knew what that was until several years ago when my eldest son, Frankie, went there to get autographs from Bill Clinton, Hillary, and several others. He watched the process and told me what went on. I just can’t help but wonder how in the world we rely on hand counting people, who can move from one section of the room to the other, and be counted several times if someone from another group can persuade them to come to their side and be counted. Is there a minimum number of people participating? It seems the groups we saw on the news were only older people, I mean my age and older, and some impressionable high school kids.

Don’t get me wrong. I was an impressionable high school kid once. And the first time I voted for president was in 1972. I voted for Nixon, because he ended Vietnam and my husband came home early. I suppose there are worse reasons to vote for someone. But ever since then, I’ve been disallusioned by the process. And the lack of good candidates. And by how you can lie instead of telling the truth. And now, social media can really sway people who do not do their own fact checking.

I was an independent for the majority of my life, neither wanting to be Republican or Democrat. I am probably a liberal conservative now. I have grown to ask how things will be paid for before I think it’s a good idea. Being a Computer Systems Analyst and Coder for a number of years has brought out the information gathering in me. Getting all the information is important.

I voted for Al Gore in 2000, because I didn’t think a former baseball team owner could be president. I was wrong. I came to respect George W Bush for his leadership after 9/11. I actually became a Republican. It has caused some rifts in my family, but I cannot stop other people’s feelings. We have to respect people for who they are in their hearts, not for their political party. As an American citizen, an aging American woman, I feel our country has the best hope being led by someone with business experience. I have felt that for a very long time, if government were run like a business, there would be more attention paid to financial details, and less to hand shake deals, good old boy buddy systems. I believe as a nation we need to all examine our moral fiber and go back to thinking of God, family, faith, nation. What does that make me? Someone who believes in America, what it stands for, and that life is primarily good. People are primarily good. The world is a beautiful place. The grandmothers of the world can help teach our children the world will be as good as they help make it. We have to respect each other, authority, disagree respectfully, and work very hard for change that is good for all of us. There is no free lunch anywhere. Not even at Grandma’s house.

There will be those who refuse to read my work because of this revelation. Sorry you feel that way. It certainly isn’t my intent. My intent is to tell you I care about the shape of the nation and the world. And as the politicians, who left Iowa without any results, ran off to New Hampshire to troll for more votes, different caucus, same rhetoric, I’m still here. You left us in a lurch. We Grandma’s have a lot of influence, character, intelligence, and moxie. All the while we had no rights, we really ran the base of the nation. The family. Our unit of responsibility. We raised the children who bore the children who rose to greatness. Whatever party they were. Those who had good moral character, made their decisions after much consideration. I shudder to think it matters more now what party the person is representing than their character. That is not what Dr. King had in mind, or in his heart. We must come back to finding our similarities, not our differences. Come back together. With respect.

Thank you for reading today, it was a tough one to write. I try to stay middle of the road, but gee, sometimes you just can’t. Come back tomorrow, and we’ll look at some writing stuff again. See you then!