Happy July First!

Good morning from the Home Office in Gretna, Nebraska. It was a rainy night last night, and all the lawn chairs, cushioned or not, are soaking wet this morning. And, much like any other humid July in Nebraska, well, you know the rest. It will probably be this way until school starts again, in about five weeks.

I feel badly for parents when school begins again. Blended families, families with students in different levels of education, working parents, and parents who work at home, are all in for another round of, “Will my child really benefit from the education he or she will receive during the next phase of the pandemic?” One can only hope and pray. I really don’t know what the answer is. I am leaning towards masks for all, then sanitizing to beat the devil.

I’m making a bootleg calendar for my next couple of months. Trying to carefully measure out what is possible while meeting deadlines and Zoom schedules. We all need a little structure in our lives. At times Ihen wonder if I need as much as when we were younger? No, I think no. Retirement is supposed to be about spending time whatever way you feel like. That said, I believe we should still be contributing something to others, to still shine our lights out in the world. The Babe has his Quartermaster duties at the VFW. I love to watch the kids, and yet, there needs to be more than that. You can’t count on having enough grandkids to spend your time that way.

That’s probably a lot of the why I decided to write. I’ve always wanted to write Children’s Books. My daughter encouraged me over and over, until finally, I decided, “Why Not?” In the nearly two years since that revelation, I’ve worked on a novel, started another, and have outlines for several children’s stories. One is about the loss of a family pet based on our experience last summer, losing our Roxie. I think it could do some good for kids.

I had a very loose outline when I began my novel. I definitely see now where I could have made an easier time of it to have a better outline before. Those who never outline are called “pantsters,” who write by the seat of their pants. The planners are “outliners,” who know exactly what they will write. I suppose each writer learns what works for them, then proceeds. What a learning process!

I’m going to organize all my information in a sectioned binder, so everything is organized and together. I hope this works. Time will tell, won’t it? I have the “Personality Isn’t Permanent” book to finish, too. It will help describe the transition my character experiences through her life.

Reading is a Joy!

I just printed countless photos of all our dogs who have known Gavin. I want to have a themed book for him about all of his doggies. He loves the stories he has in his mind, and I want to preserve those for him. It’s neat to listen to him talk about his doggies. What a good thing we can share with him.

The school district our grandchildren hasn’t announced yet how they will handle the school year yet. Three districts in the area will do full time, every day for everyone. Two others will have a split schedule, 3/2 and every other week they switch who has 3 and who is the 2 group. Too complicated for me. It has to be hard for working parents, single parents, and those with no one to help them out. I think we’re all a few cases away from home schooling again and stay at home suggestions again.

We have to dig in, be positive, wear masks, and think of others than ourselves. I know, that’s what we have been doing. It is going to take all of us. It is going to take a very long time for the danger to subside enough for us to abandon our efforts. Our generations have never had to make a sacrifice for a national cause, for a unified effort. Most wars in my lifetime have been undeclared (Korea, Vietnam), and lack of national support deeply affected the veterans and the outcome. Lack of national support in this pandemic is affecting us and will affect the outcome.

Let’s put our pride aside, and our sense of entitlement, and wear a mask. Always in public. Shopping, in the stores, and if we go to eat. Remove it while you eat and drink. Be vigilant. Be on your guard. Wash your hands. Use hand sanitizer. Clean frequently used items such as your phone; all the remote controls, the controls on your stove, oven, and microwave, and your refrigerator handles. Door knobs and handles. Yes, it’s not fun, it’s necessary. It’s boring, but it’s necessary.

Make sure you are around to attend all the postponed weddings, graduations, and family events. Make sure your grandparents are, too. Let’s take better care of each other. Thanks for reading today. I appreciate it a lot, and am now going to do some more cleanup on Chapter 1 of “The Freeing of Katie Fitzgibbons.” I’ll see you back here tomorrow. Be Safe. Be Kind. Be Thoughtful.

Swinging Saturday!

Yeah! Gavin started playing ball last night in his Youth League. They have a tournament all weekend. Nothing like going big or going home! I’m excited about this for many reasons. I love baseball. I love when kids get to learn and play. I love this team because his dad, our son-in-law, is one of the coaches. From what I hear, he was quite the player in his day. Never got to see him play, but I’ve heard the stories. Good ones, of course. His dad is a good father to both the kids, and a terrific son in law. We have three great ones, TJ, Aaron, and Brian.

So if the rain holds off, we may get to go to the game later on. Addison is back at dance now, and she’s enjoying seeing her friends. I don’t think there are many girls in her neighborhood to hang out with, so she’s glad to have human contact again. While it’s all good now, I’m concerned about what will happen later, in October and November. Just praying and taking precautions for now.

I am having some challenges with the office help this morning. Letting them in. Letting them out. Getting them water. Right now, a squeaking squirrel is making it’s way up my thigh, complete with bad doggie breath making it a little warm in here. And now, here is the dinosaur, doing the same. If I stop writing and go to the living room to sit with them, they go to sleep. Can’t win, but I can laugh while I’m doing it. Finally, twenty minutes later and she found a place to lay down and nap. Lexie prefers the couch. In fact, she knows the word “couch.” Funny what we do for our pets.

I am writing a scene/point page for my new story about a girl who has to find courage to leave her unhappy marriage. She is discovering many resources to help her leave, she just has to be vigilant to make sure she sees them, and has the courage to act on them. The more she discovers, the more there is to discover. I think life works this way. The scenes are major events she experiences, and the points are the way she feels about the experiences.

I’m beginning to think ideas are full of fluffy, filler words. It’s a real challenge to tone them down and not make the meaning difficult to find. I think we speak with a lot of filler words, and tend to try and write that way, too. Quite different from business writing. Then it’s the facts, summarized for an executive in fewer words. Almost as if they don’t want to waste their time knowing what goes into researching what they ask us to, then only wanting to know the important things.

And technical writing is really precise, with all the details, and sometimes hard to understand. Learning ASSEMBLER computer language was so painful. I attended a two night per week school and my younger son had his appendix rupture during that time. He required emergency surgery and I missed two of twelve classes. He nearly died. I almost didn’t pass the class, too. Neither of these things happened, thankfully. Never want anything so awful again. Either that class or one of my kids nearly dying.

This is going to be an afternoon I need a little nap, so I’m heading that way. Hope you have a wonderful rest of your Saturday. Thank you for reading, I appreciate your support. Wash your hands. Wear your mask, thank you. Call your mom. Be a good example. Share a smile with someone. Listen.

Thinking About Thursday

This Plant Needs Prayers!

Our beautiful pure-bred hunting dog must be a vegetarian or something. She mangled about four plants this week. I suppose it’s my fault for trusting her too much. She’s a puppy, still. And now, she’s sleeping peacefully on the floor by me while I write and it rains outside. All is right with the world.

She’s Sleeping Near the Bag of Coloring Supplies.

It started out a beautiful day, right now, the clouds are rolling in. It’s still a beautiful day and when the rain comes in, I’ll be grateful to not have to water. Even the plant Goldie tried to eat. Well, I guess she DID eat it.

I am so happy to have these two dogs for companionship. They are great company and comfort, even if they just nap in the room I occupy at any given moment. They are powerful creatures. They sense everything about us. Earlier this week, Lexie didn’t like Goldie tugging at a toy Gavin was going to throw for fetch. Lexie walked over in between them and gave a low, throaty growl, ever so quietly. Goldie let go. Gavin threw the toy, Goldie fetched, Lexie walked away and laid down again. She watches her people, and I love that about her.

I had a great conversation with my book coach Sam this morning. We have developed a plan for July and August. I’m taking a slightly different path in as much as I’m writing a different story over these two months, and will check in regularly to discuss the progress or lack thereof. If you’d like to read about Sam, here is a link to her website. You’ll hear a lot more about Sam and our work later in the summer.

Today is a day filled with significant birthdays! In addition to being Sir Paul McCartney’s birthday, it’s my older brother’s birthday and Dan’s younger sister’s birthday. Tom Jewell and Linda Ulmer, Happy Birthdays! Hope you both have a great day. Don’t need to wish Sir Paul one, after all, he’s Paul McCartney!

It seems the food industry is rebranding several products we have used for decades and probably not realized their packaging was racist. Aunt Jemima is having a makeover. I suppose it must be done. For years, I haven’t given it a thought using these products. I thought the updating done last was just like the Betty Crocker image on packaging, cook books, and other items. Were women offended by an old fashioned representation on the cook books? I don’t remember.

Uncle Ben and the cook on Cream of Wheat simply told me they were pictures on a package. No different than any other picture. And now, things will change. Will it change the violence in the streets? Most likely not. But those offensive photos will no longer be staring out from shelves in the stores. So be it.

Sometimes I can’t help but think there needs to come a point where we stop being offended. Where we stop pointing fingers and placing blame, and sit down and formulate a plan to just stop all of this. Both sides. Just stop it! Start respecting each other, just because God created all of us. Then work on being better humans. As you work together, and have frank discussions, you will grow in respect of each other. And yourselves. Do something that’s never been done. Admit there is fault on both sides. Quit being the stereotypes we all hate. The bad cop. The bad punk. The gangster. The professional rioter. Talk to each other. Talk with each other. Listen to each other. Listen to hear. Hear and act. Act in a rational manner. Make the change you want for everyone. Teach your children how to respect and behave, not show attitude and bad behavior.

We have plans to watch Gavin play ball over the weekend. Being a tournament, there are quite a few games to get in. And of course, the forecast is calling for a whole bunch of rain. It wouldn’t be a ball tournament without it!

I also have a lot of writing things to accomplish in the next three weeks. It will be a great way to spend time, and a great way to move forward with my projects. A plan and a partner work well together. I’m looking forward to it.

Thank you for reading today. I appreciate your time. It rained quite nicely here, and now appears to be dreary for the rest of the day. Perhaps dreary and rain is what my Goldie – relocated plants needs to come back to life. I’ll see you tomorrow! Stay safe. Wash your mask before you wear it again! Wash your hands. Be a good example. Teach your children well.

Sunday, Sunday

Were Sundays a special day when you were a kid? They were for us. Not so much for my mom. Since my dad worked at the Omaha World Herald on the night shift, he worked well into the early hours of Sunday. If there were mechanical breakdowns, he could be hours late getting home. Usually, he was able to fulfill his Sunday Mass obligation at the old St. Joe’s Hospital Chapel at 5 a.m., on his way home. He attended Mass with the nurses, and hurried home so Mom could go at 6 a.m. to our parish church. She would get home, wake us kids up, and my older brother and I walked to St. Bridget’s in South Omaha for the 9 a.m. Children’s Mass. We sat separated by gender just like at daily mass, which we were required to attend, too. Sunday had lots of people seated in the pews behind the children.

There was no 5 p.m. Mass during those days. That started in the very late 60’s, early 70’s. To this day, my Protestant friends laugh. They swear Catholics are the only religious denomination who can tell you where the shortest service is, time-wise. I marvel at how true that is. Never about the sermon, or the music, just about the world’s shortest Mass. Crazy!

After we went to Mass, Mom loaded all of us into the family truckster and we would go visit both grandparent’s every Sunday. They were always home. Grandma Jewell baked clover leaf rolls and Caramel Sticky Buns every week. From scratch, no less. Her house smelled heavenly. I can still smell the love when I drive past 3324 Center Street in Omaha. It will always be Grandma’s house to me.

After that, we would go to Grandma Bobell’s house. Grandpa was sometimes mowing the grass or had just finished. We would sit in their shaded backyard and visit. No matter how boring it was, you would never dare say that word out loud. Never. Grandma usually had some concoction of a snack for us. Crackers, store bought cookies, frozen juice. They were exotic treats to us because we didn’t have crackers at home for a snack, and cookies were made from scratch (cheaper back then) and juice? I think not. We drank water. No Kool-Aid or sodas for us. Water. Take it or leave it.

Did it hurt us? Heck no! We even wore our nice clothes all day on Sunday. Sunday-best was a phrase I think people used for a very long time. No pajamas and jeans were not pants anyone wore unless you were a laborer or farmer. No, jeans were not permitted at school events, dances, and we wore uniforms so they were not mainstream until about 1970. Seriously. Little boys wore dress pants/trousers just like their Dad’s and Grandpa’s. They wore a belt, they wore button shirts. There was no skipping on what was acceptable attire. The t-shirt with messages was not on the horizon until the late 70’s or early 80s. We wore leather shoes. Everyone. Tennis shoes were Keds or Converse and were strictly for tennis or basketball. I believe the first jogging shoes were the blue suede/leather ones. The fad started in the gay community and grew from there.

I love a good pair of jeans and a comfy t-shirt, believe me. I do think there is a lot to say for how we dress as a society now. We have gone beyond casual/stay at home comfy/pajamas for going out in public. We have become kind of slovenly. With that, our demeanor and speech has become so as well. There is no “polite company” any more it seems. I’m just as guilty as the rest of the world for dressing casual and for very casual speech. Guilty as I charge. I think there is a lot of respect for ourselves and our fellow humans we could regain if we could monitor how we are when we leave our front doors. We would show more respect for ourselves. We would show more respect for each other. We would garner more respect, too.

I’m not saying wear suits everywhere, I’m saying wear well fitting clothes, clean clothes, and you will be met with better reactions. It should be part of everyone. Growing up the Babe and I didn’t have a lot as kids, but we were clean. Soap and water are still cheap. Clean clothes take effort but they are worth it. Pull your pants up, make sure they fit. Don’t send a bad message with your wardrobe. Be respectful. You will be respected.

There was a Black Lives Matter march of a different sort in Omaha yesterday. A group of young black men, dressed in suit coats, dress pants, shirts, ties, shoes, belts, who marched from Joslyn Museum on 24th and Dodge to somewhere downtown/Old Market area. I searched and could not find where, sorry! They have the right idea.

I believe we can all garner more respect when our appearance and demeanor is reflected in our dress, attitude, and actions. There is anger, and right now, although justified, I believe it is out of control. We all need to dial it back a notch or ten and use the anger for constructive dialogue. For it to work, we all need to be on the same page. All of us. Unless we do this soon, I think we’re doomed. And I would hate to see that happen to my country. The greatest country in the world. The United States of America. Let’s learn our real history, even the ugly parts. We need to remember how we’ve been oppressive, immoral, amoral, and committed grave errors for us to not go there again.

We all judge people. We hate to admit it but we do. Be aware and stop yourself from doing it. Especially if they are a lot different than you are. Check your prejudices and comments. About people of color. About policemen. About old people. About young people. I’m trying. Try with me.

Thank you for reading today. I appreciate your support. I’ll be here again tomorrow, as will our grandson Gavin, the dogs, and we’ll see you all then Be Kind. Be Thoughtful. Be Respectful. Wash your hands. Wear your mask. Stay outside.

Spectacular Saturday

Hi, friends. It’s starting to get back to humid summer weather in Gretna, Nebraska, at the home office and studio. We sat on our deck before the sun rose above the tall trees in the Wetlands behind us. It was beautiful. It’s amazing how busy the birds at that hour. I couldn’t help but wonder about the flight paths of the little creatures. Do they need any air traffic control? Look at how many run into your picture window and bounce off in a season. Do any ever collide in mid-air? Wow. After one week with our grandson, this sounds like a Gavin question. Hopefully I’ll be able to give him an answer should he ever ask me about it.

One morning last week, there was a brilliant red cardinal chirping his head off, and he was sitting right on top of the flagpole. It was such a cool scene. And neither of us had our phones to snap a picture. It brought back the memories of the good old days, when we took in these things rather than only saw them through the site of the camera. We probably do miss a lot around us because of that. But that cardinal was spectacular. Glad we both saw it at the same time.

I’ve mentioned before I start the day with a daily reading from a book of Daily Meditations of Adult Children (of Alcoholics). Today’s is good. An American proverb:

“There is always free cheese in a mousetrap.”

The reading talks about feeding a weakness. The more you feed a weakness, the hungrier it becomes. If it’s food, you can become a boarder- line diabetic before you realize it. If it’s fancy cars, clothes, travel to exotic places, or any of many other things, you’ll be so far in debt you’ll never find your way out. And you’ll be just as hungry for whatever is missing in your life. I’m not an alcoholic or drug addict. The places I’ve tried to back fill my life were with clothes, things for my kids and grandkids, and a few more material things. I created debt for myself that was ridiculous. I did what all the experts tell you, and pait off the highest interest, blah, blah, blah. The Babe and I have always kept our money separate as we both had lots of bills from life before we got married. We are co-owners of accounts, etc., and manage our own stuff. It works for us, I don’t know if it would for others or not.

So often, we feed our weaknesses and hide behind them, never satisfied. We’ve all done it at some time in our life. It’s human nature, and doggone it, we’re so human. We might be slow learners that the problems aren’t “out there” but “within us.” What?? In us? It’s so easy to try and point fingers and place blame elsewhere. Anywhere but where it belongs. With us. In us. It is’t you, it’s me. Really.

You Will Get Better

You can survive many things throughout a lifetime. Some people seem to be able to survive one disaster after another. There is no other choice, is there? If you don’t survive, you perish. You may not want to go on, but you do. God gets you through things you cannot believe. I’m glad there is help for me, and love for me, when I need it. Friends help, families help, but God gets us through.

First Hibiscus Bloom of 2020.

Yesterday, the Hibiscus on the deck was about to pop open. I wanted to get a photo of it beginning the process. I got dressed and everything, went back outside, and the bud popped open! It must have opened when the sun hit it 20 minutes earlier. Dang! Missed it. But isn’t it beautiful? I hope I can keep this living over the winter in the house. The blooms only live for 24 hours. That’s it. Such anticipation, and then they die. Nature is so grand!

The reading for yesterday was certainly timely as today’s was. It was:

I have to remember this: People at the top of the mountain didn’t fall there.”

I think this is so timely with all the talk about socio-economic differences in our country, and issues with it. The people I know who have had good lives, regardless of color, have stayed in school at least through age 18, then gone to college, the military, or trade school. Their parents didn’t pay for them to become educated. They learned how to get loans or grants for students.

They have been dedicated to their mission of a degree, a life of service, or a life as a tradesperson. They have all earned good livings, learned to handle their finances and business, been morally uncorrupted, and do what good people do. I do believe if we all lived this way, there would be more people at the tops of the mountains. I think it is a tried and true method to get there. No excuses. No blame placing. Good mentoring helps. If your parents aren’t able to do that, ask someone who can.

I do plan to write some more today. I am writing more of significant events in my character Katie’s life, and will reassess how that will go with what I already have. I believe there is a way, I’m just not sure of the how yet. Great things to ponder on another beautiful, sunny, hot Nebraska day. Thank you for reading, I appreciate it so much! See you again tomorrow. I can’t wait!