Monday Measures

The Internet is becoming one of the most important commodities we have right now. No, you can’t eat it, drink it, or anything like that, but we can communicate with it. We can learn with it. We can be entertained with it. We can learn what is going on in the world while we practice social distancing at home.

So what does this all mean, the world changing so dramatically in the past seven days? We need to be grateful. By that, I mean that although the media could have been crying the sky is falling in the beginning, at least we have had some advance warning about this terrible virus. I’m most concerned about my mom, who is almost 91 and, well, she’s old. She’s been to the grocery store and to physical therapy. Period. Her parish priest visited her on the First Friday of March, after returning from South America. I must say I think the priest has some extra protection, not only because he’s a priest, but because two of his brothers are top-notch epidemiologists. He’s got the best insider information that exists in the State of Nebraska!

Many things have changed. For one, I no longer have to look up the word epidemiologist. I’ve always been a good speller. In fact, I beat one of those now-epidemiologists in a spell down in grade school. I was so thrilled! I’ll never forget it was the word “satellite.” He must have had a brain toot or something, he spelled it with one l. I won a statue of the Virgin Mary, a Holy Card, and the sweet taste of victory. I had a lot to tell my mom after school that day. I also lost a tooth that was ready to fall out, making way for an adult tooth. Fourth grade was quite memorable. Isn’t it funny how we remember some things so well?

Our Nebraska Writers Guild may cancel our conference this Spring. I’m so sad about that! I had such a great experience at the Fall Conference, I was so looking forward to it. Since the CDC has suggested banning gatherings of fifty or more, I’d say we’re doomed. The Board will meet today and email us later today. Teleconferencing may be an option.

All any of us can do right now is be calm, wash our hands, don’t hoard household supplies, and be patient. Since we’re more or less at home constantly for awhile, be patient with your housemates, children, spouses, partners, and medical workers. They are most at risk and they are our best chance of regaining our health. Be respectful, they deserve it.

Mom will have therapy again this morning and Wednesday. I hope they are open. The clinic has no waiting area in the PT area, so I must wait in the reception area of the clinic. That said, I choose a seat in a row, by the windows, with a table on one side, and I put our coats and purses in the chair next to me. No one will sit beside me, and I feel pretty safe doing that. If that seat is not not available, I will simply go wait in my car. Safety first, folks!

Love this beautiful picture!

I have a project for the Babe when he gets home later. I hope he feels like hanging all the pictures we haven’t re-hung since we had the house painted inside. He might not, since he took our Goldie this morning to the Vet to be spayed. We can pick her up after 3 p.m. It’s so weird with only one dog here this morning. I’m glad we have the two, and I know Goldie will be different when she’s older. Right now, she sure keeps us moving! We can hang our art later.

Thanks for reading today, I’m off to pick up Mom right now. I hope you have a good day, whatever you’re doing. I’ll be back tomorrow and hope to see you then.

Fabulous Friday

It’s nearly the end of February 2020, and I’m looking at readjusting my Goals for 2020. It has to be done. I have honestly wondered if I could have adult ADHD or ADD and have come to the conclusion of “No, I just love too many things.” That can be a problem, just as not having creative juices flowing can be. I need to go back to my right brain thinking, and make some Goals based on all the things I dearly love to do. I’ve come to love blogging, and it will be at the top of my writing list.

Much as I want to learn to draw and brush up my creative lettering and calligraphy skills, they will have to wait for a bit. Even if they need to wait until January, 2021, right now they need to. I just don’t have enough time in a day to do these things. I deleted all my emails pertaining to classes on these topics, I just have to ignore those opportunities for now. Done and done.

Right now, I volunteer for Benson VFW Post 2503 as the back up newsletter person and the one who posts newsletter to their website. For a few years now, the website has seriously needed a facelift, drastic plastic surgery, or something to bring it out of the 1990s and into the 2020s. I am involved in conducting an investigation into the cost to move to WordPress, which is what I use for my website/blog. Along with that, I am still planning on adding pages to my website, and as my books are finished, they will be included on my website. The websites have different functions and purposes, so I’m not worried about doing them both for awhile. The goal is to make it much simpler than it is now so someone from the VFW can assume the role of Administrator. The current package doesn’t allow for simplicity. At least I did self-learn it over the past four years and became fairly proficient at it. Old coders never die, they just are assigned a Legacy System!

So, it’s back to plotting These Walls DO Talk, creating the family that lives in the house where the walls know so much of them. No, it’s not science fiction, and the walls don’t REALLY talk, but too many memories exist there. You’ll see.

And then the wall art I’m creating with quilting kits I’ve had in inventory. The Poppies will grace our wall when I piece, layer, and quilt it, along with the colorful Dahlia that will be on display in our newly painted bedroom. The lovely new tools I purchased for drawing, doodling, coloring, and painting will have to wait for now. Sometimes I extremely dislike being sensible and grown-up.

Here’s a little quilt I did about three years ago when we moved into this house. I loved the colors, and I’ve always been fond of elephants. I machine pieced it and hand quilted it, and it was to hang in our old plain colored bathroom. Fast forward to today, and after the painters completed the lovely shade of purple bathroom, it suddenly doesn’t go anymore. It goes perfectly in the living room. There is truly a place for everything, and a time for everything. I just try to cram too much stuff in a day.

My Elephant Quilt

I love this little guy. It adds a touch of brightness during this late winter time. Later today, I’m going to cut out the pieces for the beautiful Poppy Quilt and maybe get started on that in the next day or two. I also need to sandwich the Dahlia quilt for quilting. That will be easiest, since it doesn’t need any sewing together at all. It’d be great to get those both done during March. Working on them will be my reward for working on my book. Mental rewards are a great incentive, aren’t they? Food rewards are frowned upon anymore, but Mom used to promise dessert if we were “good.” We never knew what “good” meant, because we always had homemade chocolate chip cookies in the cookie jar. She baked them every week. The neighbor kids loved them. My nephew Don Kraft makes them every time he visits Omaha, on the last day in town. What a neat tradition, from such a neat guy.

Thank you so much for reading today! I will see you here tomorrow, and we’ll have more fun. Have a beautiful Friday.

Another Sunday in the Suburbs

It’s almost noon in Gretna, NE. We’ve had a full morning, and are getting ready for the crew we hired to come paint tomorrow. When we first moved in three years ago, the Babe painted the living room, kitchen, two small bedrooms we use for studio/office space, and our bathroom. ReBath made a tiny ugly shower into a beautiful thing. It’s all handicap ready for when the time comes, if it does. The lady that built the house had it constructed that way. Mostly all door handles instead of doorknobs. Wonderful for us arthritics! The one door with a knob is leading to the deck, and I struggle with it. But it’s a good test of what you’ve got or not.

So builders grade paint is nothing but a dirt magnet. We had the kitchen and living room share a color called “Mimosa” on a couple walls. The others are neutral. My studio/office is my favorite color – Yellow. It’s happy, bright, and makes me think of sunshine. The Babe’s office is a smoky purple, grey in nature. We brought the paint from the old house, didn’t get the guest room painted before we sold, and we liked the color. The guest level is professionally finished by Thrasher, I believe. It’s nice. The colors are very neutral and clean.

Our colors are getting a bit crazy, but who cares? We’ll have a Caribbean Blue bedroom, with a darker accent wall. The laundry room will be neutral, one accent wall grey in the living room, and the extra bathroom will be a delightful Grape color. It should be fun, and I’ll be glad when we get the carpets cleaned. We’ll be ready for spring. And for the puppy to be spayed. She’ll be six months old on Valentine’s Day. What a gift! A brown eyed yellow lab! Love her to pieces.

Character cards. Opening scene card.

Thanks to Sam, my wonderful editor, I have moved the whole story around. The family home is the scene, and Katie is my main character. An only girl in a family of boys. Seven of them! Wow, I can relate, but I only have three brothers. Some days, that was way too many. She is the dependable one, and most of the brothers are afflicted by the disease of the family – alcoholism. It’s not just a matter of drinking too much. It’s a mindset of excesses, blame, secrets, lies, and abusive behavior. Katie has broken free from the curse. She recounts how lonely that has been, but is glad she learned these lessons, and had a sixth sense about the whole lifestyle. Nothing was ever made better by having a beer/glass of wine/shot/highball or whatever. Nothing was ever made better by “needing” a drink. Society has fed the dragon, and only now can Katie see how she has been blessed.

This family is a conglomoration of many I have known, observed, and read about through the years. People end up in some terrible situations because of their vices. I know I have. I have made my worst relationship mistakes because I was lonely. That is the God’s honest truth. Parts of Katie are me, other parts are not. For the record, I consume alcohol. It has never controlled my life. I don’t need it. I won’t drink if I’m upset, need to make a coherent decision, have someone depending on me. I can have fun and not get in “fights” if I drink. All in all, not a big deal.

As I forward to my manuscript, wish me luck, creative thoughts, excellent spelling, perfect words, and good concentration. It’s just a matter of getting it done. And you’ll be the second to know when I do. I really appreciate your reading, your support, and you always come back to see what will happen next. I do too, because I don’t know either! See you tomorrow.

Finitely Friday

There are only twenty-four hours in this highly touted day of the week. When you are working for a living, you cannot wait for it to arrive. What do you do once it’s there? Maybe we put too much into this one day a week, why should all it’s siblings have a lesser fan club? Especially Monday. What happens when you are retired? You have six Saturdays and a Sunday. Those days are not that different, one from another, and it is difficult for new retirees to keep track of what day it is.

When I was moved into early “retirement” in 2000 due to my health, I was kind of a mess. I was only forty-eight years old and was a newleywed. It just didn’t seem like something I should be doing. It was hard. My body let me down and I was a bit angry about that fact. As one of my brothers’ said, “That’s what you get for taking care of yourself.” Well, maybe.

I have since recovered from the overwhelming feeling to explain my early departure from the working world. When I told my doctor I couldn’t do it anymore, he said, “I’m surprised you made it this long.” What? And the rub is it’s one of those things a person cannot identify on sight. That may be what made it so hard. That and my age. And the fact after keeping it together through being a single mom, college student, friend, sister, you name it, that it finally was my turn. Bitterness could have easily taken over.

I met the Babe right after that horrible illness, and he was more than ok with me having a hidden illness. His mother battled MS for most of her adult life and he was well aware of people who lost their health. From watching his interactions with her over the years, I came to know what type of compassionate caregiver he is. And he is. Like most men, he’s a better caregiver than patient, but that’s another story. Initially I felt I kept him from doing things, but he said no, he’d rather be hanging out with me. And it turns out we’re perfect for each other. Sure, we get frustrated. We’re human. But in the long run, neither of us will give up or quit on the other. And that’s a quality I”m glad we both have.

Each day we have is the same twenty-four hour period on the clock, calendar, and moment in time. I had a boss who would take Monday off instead of Friday for a long weekend. His thinking was everyone takes Friday, Monday can be less crowded and just as special. Just a little change in thought, and powerful things can happen. Try it. You might like it. It could change the way you view your world, life, and creativity.

In the creative realm, for those who create things from other materials, you need to strike while the iron is hot. While the ideas are flowing, get them down, cut the fabrics, paint the pictures, write the words. And then coax them to become their best. I cannot say, “Friday is not a good day for creating, come back Monday,” because the idea most likely will be lost forever. Write down a note to spark the memory when you are able to capture the idea more fully. After a while, it won’t matter where or when you get those ideas. You will be able to make a note then coax it back into a more full statement. Practice. We all have enough time for that.

Don’t wish your life away. Make the most of each twenty-four hour trip around the sun. Give thanks for each day no matter how bad it can be. Tomorrow could be worse, but chances are, it won’t be. Some days the best thing you can say about it is, “It’s over now.” Do-overs. How lucky we are to have one every day. We may look back and decide these days weren’t so bad after all. All the Thursdays, Tuesdays, and Sunday nights have the capacity to be awesome. Just like we do. Every day people. Doing extraordinary things. Every day of the week.

Thank you for reading today. I’m grateful you did. I’ll be back tomorrow, and hope you will be, too. See you then. I’m off to work on my second chapter in the novel re-write. Go figure!

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.

Stormy Weather

Neighbors, surveying the snow from Tuesday night.

It’s seen in neighborhoods all over the heartland after a snowstorm. The Babe (right) and our neighbor Terry (right) met up while both were clearing snow Wednesday morning. I had the perfect view while writing yesterday’s blog. Babe, you’ve still got it! One of my younger brothers had a girlfriend in the 80s that called herself the pocket inspector. Remember, buying jeans in the 80s and finding a little white paper in the pocket that read, “Inspected by #258. I’m #258! I’ll inspect your pockets anytime!” We all laughed. You just don’t see those tags anymore. Oh well, I’ll still inspect your pockets, Babe.

Unless it comes to laundry day. I do not look in pockets or at them. My kids knew to empty theirs, but the Babe often left rollerball pens in his work shirts. It hurt nothing until one went through the washer and went to the dryer, opened, and spilled ink all over everything (my lingerie). Oh boy, what a mess. He never left another one in a pocket while he was still working. Now, he doesn’t use them. Thank goodness.

Today was errand day. We picked up letters and envelopes the Post had printed for their annual building fund. We will stuff, seal, and label inquiries to about 1200 members of the Post and Auxiliary. We have an aging building that needs repairs and updating regularly. The Veterans before us worked very hard to build everything, the least we can do is keep it operating however long we can. Afterwards, we picked up Addison from school. It seemed like a hundred years since we picked her up! We all had a good laugh about that. They had a snow day last Friday, were off MLK Day, then another snow day. Hope they don’t have one tomorrow, but it could be. The weather will do whatever it does, and we’ll adjust.

I am not using this as my model, especially 5, 6, and the do-over of 1!

I chatted with my editor yesterday. I assured her I was not on the ledge, but admitted to myself and her out loud I was afraid to start re-writing. Maybe it wasn’t salvageable. It certainly┬áis! It will be better than I could have imagined. It just needs help and lots of patience. I will begin with Chapter 2, as Chapter 1 was so full of backstory, I couldn’t believe it! Beginner’s mistake, and I’m in this for the long haul.

Thank you for checking in today, I appreciate it. And I’ll be here tomorrow, hope to see you then.

Snowy Wednesday and Gray Hair

Here we are, snuggly under my new sherpa throw, sitting by the fire, and enjoying the snow falling. It is beautiful. The Babe gave me a dirty look over the top of his blue glasses. We both spent many years commuting in this stuff and are glad to be retired and not HAVE to go somewhere in bad weather. When my kids were students they attended three different schools because of their age differences. This was the case for several years. Now that it’s over, I marvel at how we managed. The big thing was we only had one bathroom! They all understood I could NOT be late for work. We left the house at 7 a.m., I dropped them off at three different locations, and was at work by 7:45 a.m. I miss those days yet am glad they are over.

A great suggestion came in from my longtime friend, Janet Nichols. She suggested I include the recipes I talk about. It’s a great idea, thank you Janet! Yesterday I talked about Pasta e Fagioli. I used ground turkey in place of the ground beef/sausage. The Babe has such bad heartburn we substitute even for Chili. We use ground turkey. Good stuff.

I have tried repeatedly to include a link to the recipe, and for some unknown reason, it is not working. Too much snow, I guess. But you can Google “Pasta e Fagioli”. Select the results from Damn Delicious, and you will have Olive Garden’s recipe for it. Funny thing? I forgot to add the pasta, the last ingredient, to be added at the very last hour. It’s still good!

This morning I was reading some varied articles about women letting their hair turn grey. Yes, it is a natural thing. I colored my hair while I was working because I felt it helped me appear relevant, as I do not look my age. I was in my 40s while still working. I started working later in life, after my divorce and was competing with kids right out of high school. Since I started greying in my late 30s, I wanted a cover up. I kept it until my breast cancer diagnosis in 2009. After the lumpectomy, I had my hairdresser cut my long beautiful light brown hair OFF. I wanted to be ahead of the curve if I was to lose my hair with chemotherapy. I didn’t need chemo. Boy, was I fortunate. I kept my hair short these past eleven years and like it. I miss longer hair. I want to let it grow again and maybe get some curl in it. I still have very thick hair, and I don’t wish to spend nearly an hour drying it. I’ll see how far I get. Until then, it’ll be lots of gels, combs, and maybe a Cubs hat.

Going to be a long day with the snow, ice pellets, and whatever else falls from the sky. At least it’s not iguanas! Seriously. It’s a thing in Florida. Warning people because of the cold, Iguanas may fall from the trees. Poor things! Thank you for reading today. I appreciate it very much. I hope you have a great day and come back tomorrow. I’ll be here.