Thursday Thoughts

On our way to the VFW Post yesterday about 4 p.m., we were in the first traffic jam we’ve been in for a long time. It was noticeable enough we commented on it. It would be nice if traffic kept being sparse, smooth flowing, and uneventful. Probably not going to happen. It was again great to be among friends and share a meal and beverages.

Why Do We Think We Know Better Than God?

This is a part of our “normal” back. That said, it will never be “normal”. There is a new Commander taking over next month. The other new officers need to learn the ropes and keep the place running. The Babe is still Quartermaster. He offers the members some continuity, and that’s a good thing. The bulk of income is from room rentals, and those are beginning to pick back up. All good signs. We need to keep social distancing when in public, though. And we are meeting the requirements to be open.

God will help us adjust somehow. The whole pandemic, and the protests turned riots, have made our heads swirl. It’s intense and crazy and not civil. I posted a comment about being safe at home during riots and pandemics and some smart aleck posted I should stay home for the next 20 years. What? Wow. The invincibility of youth. You too, will be more cautious someday, young man. I hope you live long enough.

Today has not been an easy day. Pandemic blues are lingering, along with the apprehension of the tension in the nation. I still believe in my country, the United States of America. I believe we are fortunate to live in the best country in the world. I’m uncertain about current events, for sure. It feels as if the media whips us into a frenzy on a regular basis, as if we are on a bad reality show. It is very stressful for a mind and heart to endure that kind of stress continually. We need a break. We need some peace. We deserve it.

I’m weighing how to do my outlining and structuring part of my book. Being overwhelmed makes it difficult to know which way to go at this point. I’m going to do some reading on those topics tonight, and hope it’s enough to make a difference with my being stuck in neutral. It’s hard being so far along and not able to keep the momentum going to finish. If I don’t get in gear tomorrow, I think a day off may be in order. Do other creative people out there have problems like this? It’s seeming to come and go, and I so hope I’m normal. Not Abby-Normal.

Thanks for reading today. I appreciate you sticking with me on bad days like today and good days like yesterday was and tomorrow will be. Have a fruitful evening, that’s my plan! See you tomorrow.

Thanks for hanging in there with me today.

Wednesday’s Words

How do we use ordinary words to explain to our kids and grandkids what is going on in the world right now. Give me the pandemic back, please! They understand they don’t want Grandma and Grandpa to get sick, really sick. This unrest? They don’t, because it can come into their neighborhood, to their school, to their grocery store, or to the place Daddy or Mommy go to work every day. When it turns violent, everyone is at risk.

Having grown up in the 1960s, I remember all too well hearing stories about segregation. EXTREME segregation. Read anything about Josephine Baker (from the 1920s), Lena Horne (1940s), Sammy Davis Jr. (1950s-1960s and beyond), George Wallace and his hatefulness, the Tuskegee Airmen, and you will learn how one world was ok for us, and another was ok for them. Read “The Help” or watch the movie. It was true. All true. So much misinformation about how people of color functioned as humans. They can run faster. They cannot learn as well. They will pass diseases if they are allowed to use white only facilities. Really?? How sad. It makes me ashamed to be remember hearing these things. Not from my parents, but from “others.”

Henrietta Lacks was a black woman who had cervical cancer. Her journey to immortality took place at Johns Hopkins University where she was treated for her cancer. She was also experimented upon and used as a guinea pig by researchers. How they used her is sinful. It is criminal. And they just thought because she was black she couldn’t understand and didn’t bother treating her as one of God’s children, and experimented on the poor woman. After she passed, her family discovered all the ugliness that happened, and finally, her story was told. Shame on Johns Hopkins. Shame on everyone involved. The book about her life is called, “The Immortality of Henrietta Lacks.” It’s very educational.

Right in the middle of the 1960s, the unthinkable happened to my white, Irish (Polish, German, Dutch, Catholic School in South Omaha. My dad and all his brothers and sister attended there as young kids, too. We were getting a new gym teacher. We heard he was black. What? Tongues were wagging. How can that be? It was, and that was the way it was going to be. My folks didn’t say much, except to say he was attending Omaha University (now UNO), and he was a black man. We didn’t know what that would mean to us.

I’ll never forget the apprehension on his face as our class entered the gym. He introduced himself. He was a large man, very athletic. Muscular. He had a soft, gentle voice. Over the months that ensued, he gained our trust and love. Even through dodge ball. He was kind to us all. We learned he was married, with a little girl, and a wife who attended college also. Sometimes they were without child care and he would bring his little girl to class. The girls took turns playing with her. It was fun.

At Christmas time, my mom always went overboard doing what she loved. Baking Christmas cookies. She baked over 167 dozen cookies one year. This particular year, when giving my brother and me boxes to deliver to the teachers, she gave me one and told me, “This is for Mr. Hepburn.” I was happy and nervous to deliver it to him.

I approached him before class and handed him the package. “This is for you, Mr. Hepburn.” I was too shy to tell him it was from my brother and me. He thanked the whole class and they looked at me funny. I felt the flush in my face. After class I went to him and told him, “Mr. Hepburn, I forgot to say this was from my brother and me.” His eyes lit up. He was so grateful. I’ll never forget that look in his eyes.

A week later, he gave me a beautifully handwritten thank you note. My mom was tickled pink. He was always so nice to me as an individual person after that. In high school I learned he was on the semi pro football team the Omaha Mustangs. I was so proud to have known him, his name was often in the Sports section of the Omaha World Herald.

And then, in the fall of my sophomore year of high school, the worst happened. We heard Glen Hepburn sustained a serious head injury in a game played that Saturday night. He died two days later. I was stunned. He was such a nice man. And he had two little girls and his wife to take care of. How can this be happening? I never could understand that. But at least it was an accident. No malice or prejudice took his life. He was a good man, and I’ve remembered him often as one through the last fifty some years. A good man, gone far too soon. I wonder if his wife remarried, and I wonder about his children. I hope they had good lives, too. I just know their Dad is proud of them from heaven.

Kindness is a great teacher. I saw my mother’s kindness taught to me, her daughter, and reflected in the face of a kind black man. I’m grateful for that memory that is so fresh in my mind today. Care for each other. Share a cookie or two.

Thank you for reading today. I appreciate your time. Have a good day today, be kind to someone new, and I’ll see you tomorrow. You know I’ll be here.

Mobile Monday

A Sunny Day or Six Would be Great!

Getting a late start today for the blog. I had two early appointments this morning, and the rest of the day had a conference with my writing coach, and a lot of thinking about what we talked about. It started out gloomy again. Maybe tomorrow. There is always hope.

I’ve had my temperature checked more today than I have in the past five years. Well, not really. I’m surprised Walmart didn’t check it. They had no disinfecting wipes to clean off the cart handles and didn’t require people to wear masks. They did a good job reconfiguring the aisles. They have some dividers in the middle of 12 foot aisles and nice markings in the aisles indicating the six foot apart rules. It was perfect. I found Butter Beans! And Dog Treats. Essentials for Cowboy Beans and for keeping the dogs happy. It was a win-win.

The conversation with my writing coach was good. I got some honest feedback to help me take my idea and what I’ve written so far, add some things, and be able to make it the best telling of my story about Katie and her seven brothers: Patrick, Andrew, Edward, John, Marty, William, and Michael. It is amazing to make the decisions about characters, their flaws and strengths, and the perils they will interact during. It’s a continuing process, and sometimes I get an idea and decide that may be in a follow-up story, maybe in a trilogy. That would be quite exciting!

Those of us in the 1970 Graduating Class from Archbishop Ryan High School will not be having our 50th Reunion this year. That is sad, but since we are all “of a certain age,” maybe we’ll start a new tradition of a 51st Reunion. It could become a thing, you know? And perhaps our good friend, Anna Merola, will be able to come from Italy. It would be wonderful!

As I left the dentist this morning near 144 & Fort in Omaha, I did see the Nebraska National Guard flyover doing a tribute flight to honor the state’s heroes in the trenches of treating COVID-19 patients. It would have been more spectacular against a blue sky, but the clouds accentuated it as well. The special tributes to those in harm’s way are incredible.

My nephew Don is an ER (ED) nurse in Arizona, and I know he is an angel to his patients. He is in the profession because of his mother, who died from oral cancer in 2007. He was a graduating senior at Bellevue East High School then. Wow. Talk about your graduation being messed up. Her funeral was the day after his 18th birthday. What a lot to overcome! Don enlisted in the USAF, and served his country. I love what he’s done with his life. And, still a newlywed, he married the lovely Carrie last November in Omaha. I’m so happy for them, proud of them, and am just waiting to see their new chapter. You, Don, are my hero. May God continue to bless you!

I’m issuing an apology in advance of you reading this meme. It is an important part of a theme in my book, and it is important for all of us to own our actions, words, and behaviors. If you do not you will never be able to be your best. It is especially hard for people who were raised in dysfunctional families. There is no shame in it, the shame is in not changing the things that are wrong. Not calling out the bad behavior within our own groups leaves the door open for passing along the bad things. And you don’t want to do that. Be strong. Be aware. Be brave enough to say, “It stops here. My family did the best they knew how. And some things need to change for the future.”

I thank you for reading today. I appreciate you so very much. See you again tomorrow, you know I’ll be here ! Stay Safe. Wash your hands. Call a Friend. Learn something new! Take care.

Thankful Thursday

Yesterday, I wrote about venturing out for the first time. Or rather, the anticipation of going out for the first time. If you’d like to read it, check yesterday’s post, Woo-Hoo Wednesday. We all felt very strange going somewhere to dine again, and to especially see our friends after two months.

I spoke with a lady who reiterated what I felt yesterday. She mentioned feeling safe because we all know each other. I wholeheartedly agreed. It was wonderful to be out. To be among friends. To feel safe while relaxing some aspects of social distancing. The Post strictly adhered to the guidelines the Health Department insisted be followed for reopening. People understood. People were kind to each other. As I reflect back on it today, I am thinking of those who did not come out. They were not convinced they should be out yet. And that’s ok. We took a risk, and it was a good one.

It did our hearts good. Sharing a meal with friends who are like family is almost a sacred act. I can only imagine the joy we’ll feel when we are able to be with our grandkids again. Hugs for all! We all miss those the most. Yes, it felt like forever since we were able to gather. We tried to catch up on the news from each other. We had a limit of six to a table, and had to rotate in and out to not break the rules. It was so worth it. Some men hadn’t shaved for awhile. Some women needed haircuts. None of that mattered, we were just glad to be out.

All that said, I can’t say I have a desire to get on a plane, drive to Colorado (really hard to not go, with a new grandson and all!), go shopping in a crowded place, or attend a outdoor concert yet. I don’t feel we’re safe enough to do that yet. We may not be for a long time. Yes, warm to hot weather is going to make the virus unable to make us ill, but traces will still be around. It will be round two in a few months with a double punch from Coronavirus and the flu. Lucky us. We’re going to be doing this for a long time, folks. We can do baby steps getting out again. In time we will be more secure about it. Just pick a place you know you’ll feel safe. And go, when they’re open. And you will experience joy at being with your friends again. A reward for staying home these past two months, that we were all present. It will happen for all of us soon. Enjoy the experience. Savor your people.

I may have lost 3K words from my book while editing with Pro Writing Aid. Not sure if the word counter had a hiccup or anything, I don’t see where they are missing. It may take awhile to locate the gaps. There are some chapters that need more work, and I’d still like to reach 50K words or more. Lots of loose ends to tie up, and relationships to mend (those that can be mended). Hoping I can find them sooner rather than later. It will work out, things always do!

Ancient Chinese Proverbs May Be The Best

Thank you for reading today, I appreciate you taking the time to do so. Hope to see you again tomorrow. I’ll be here! Stay safe! Wash hands, Be Kind, Call a Friend Today!

Is It Thursday?

By the time I go from the bedroom to the kitchen, I can lose track of what day it is. I also lose it by the afternoon or early evening, even though it doesn’t matter. Losing track. Used to be we needed to at least act we were with it, on top of the world, holding our finger on the pulse of business, industry, creation, religion, and whatever else arena we needed to compete in. It just isn’t that important any more. In some ways, I hope that remains, so we don’t put so much pressure on ourselves. So that our jobs, society, and leisure times don’t put so much pressure on our psyches. It’s too much. I hope we never get that way again.

I hope we don’t because the time we are making for our families right now shouldn’t be lost. Yes, parents probably need a break right about now, but so do the kids. If you’re unfortunate and have badly behaved kids, you can fix that right now. Before school starts again. Before sports start again. Before work starts again. The most important thing for us all to learn is be kind to the world. Be kind to your kids, school, sports teams, and co-workers. We can unlearn any bad habits we have, so can our kids. Make up for lost time in what’s left before we can go out again with no masks. Think long and hard about it. Your whole life can change for the better right now.

We must begin somewhere

After my breast cancer treatment and after my wonderful niece and friend Wendy lost her husband, she came to see me and brought a gift. It was a plaque and stand. It helped me get up out of the chair, start walking, start doing all the things I’d stopped doing while I was too tired to do anything. It did the trick. And since that day over ten years ago, I put it out where I can see it when I need a jumpstart to get back to living. I took it out this week, and it’s now on the mantle again. The Babe and I both see it every morning while we have coffee. It’s gotten us both going. Let’s all get going. Let’s be interested in life whether you’re still in quarantine or whether you’re going to ease back into life outside of your home. Be cautious, but do it. You have to start somewhere. We all have to start somewhere.

Due to technical difficulties, I cannot post a photo of the plaque. It says “today BEGIN”. I’ll post a pic when it is available. The words are powerful for me, and I hope they are for you, too, it you need them. At different times in life, we all do. And in times of pandemic, we all do at the same times.

Restrictions in restaurants are lifted, with certain new rules in place. Many places are continuing take out orders only. Some are opening. The VFW Post 2503 is planning on opening on Wednesday, May 6, 2020, at 4 p.m. for a Hamburger Night. A limited menu will be available. No drinks sold unless they are sold with a dine-in meal.

Thankful Thursday

It is so beautiful outside this morning. It started a little cool, but that’s ok. The Babe is mixing concrete (by hand), to replace a slab at the bottom of the deck stairs. He made a temporary extra wooden step previously, but with all the dog traffic, it didn’t hold up too well. Goldie doesn’t know what to think. She is a bit timid about new things. She kind of hangs back and watches. You have to love her. She’s been a Godsend to the Babe since we lost Roxie.

As I told you last night in my late post, the Internet was down almost all day yesterday. Wow! Does that make your life different. It really brought to mind how much we rely on it for everyday stuff. Not only does it entertain people all day, my Google Docs weren’t available since the Internet was down. Word Press was also unavailable. It made me re-think my whole day. I read a book, relaxed outside with the Babe and the pups. It was great.

Today, it’s back to work. Proofread my preview for the book coach, send it to her via e-mail (which was also down yesterday), and continue doing work on the book. I’m really getting to like one character that I didn’t think I’d like at all. It amazes me how things can change just as the story develops. It’s just something that happens in your mind during the process. I wonder if other authors have that happen? Excuse me, are there any writers out there who have had that happen? I’m new at this, I’d love to know if it’s normal.

This will be for our new grandson, Cody Wyatt, who lives with his sister Kayla Jolee and their parents and dog Chief in Colorado. The ad didn’t say it was counted cross stitch so I’m cheating. Grandma’s go the extra mile for their grandkids!

I think this little picture will be cute for a little boy. His Mama loved hedge hogs. We even had a pet one, she named him Cliff (after Cliff Claven). I’m thinking of baby toes and smiles and good scents while I’m counting stitches, etc. Babies are just the best. Our world needs more of them, who are welcomed, and loved, and cherished. We all need to feel those three things.

Our friend Jimmy Weber did not an award last night, but we did see him perform the Star Spangled Banner. He always does such a great job on a difficult song. His love for our country shows with every note. It’s refreshing to experience that. When a link becomes available, I’ll post it.

There is a bird’s nest under our deck. It’s been there since we moved in. At first, Robin’s used it. This year, however, they did not return. There are many House Finches in our wooded area, and they have now called the nest home. They sit and sing to us, then go check on the eggs. It’s a pretty neat experience, and I wish the grandkids could come see it. Next year. One year, House Finches made a nest in a hanging planter with a Fuchsia plant. We could look in on the baby when we watered. It was pretty cool to be able to do that.

Every little bit helps!

I’d better get on with the day. I appreciate you checking in today, I appreciate you taking the time. Be positive about everything today, it will make a huge difference in your day. I will be back tomorrow, and hope to see you here. Wash your hands. Don’t touch your face. Sneeze into your elbow. These things will help keep you safe. Blessings.

COVID-19 Blues

When I opened WordPress this morning, I was greeted with a meme that wished me Happy Anniversary. It was one year ago today I started my website and blog. I established it and wanted to learn more before I dove in headfirst. You see, I don’t swim. At all. Water terrifies me. I can use pool noodles and not hyperventilate, but take them away, and I sink. It’s a fear I’ve never overcome. I’d rather speak in front of an auditorium than try to swim. And I have spoken in front of an auditorium. I emceed a dinner at Metro Community College once about twenty five years ago. Probably a thousand people attended. Bob Boozer was a speaker. I knew nothing about it until the emcee was sick and they called me. What a surprise! I lived to tell about it.

I blogged a couple times between April and July, 2019. When we tragically lost our Roxie was when I started daily (almost). I can see a lot of differences depending on the day, and I’m glad for those of you who continue to follow. As soon as I finish my book and get closer to publishing, I will add website pages, about ordering, what we’re working on, and whatever else that entails. But as of now, we’ve met over two hundred times! That’s a lot of blogging, a lot of reading, writing, and a lot of trying to decide what to talk about. Thank you for bearing with me.

I’m sure you all know how much I love quilting. In ten years, I hope to see the improvement in my writing just as I’ve seen the improvement in my quilting skills. At first, I thought I’d never be able to make a nice quilt. Quilters always feel the need to confession, sort of like the Catholics do. It’s not necessary at all. Most of the time, no one else even notices mistakes. We are often our own worst enemies. Writers are also their own worst enemies, believe me.

As a quilter, a lot of friends have shared this pattern with me. I purchased it, and it arrived a couple days ago. I love the irony there is in this piece. The overs and unders of roll placement, patterned vs. white, and the glaring example of that one piece left on the roll, half covered with glue. What good is that? Who does that? It might make a good raffle prize for the Nebraska Writers Guild Fallish Conference later this year. I’ll have to see if my good intention comes to fruition. It might make a good memory quilt for our youngest grandson, Cody, who was born in January, before all this hoarding started. That remains to be seen.

I just couldn’t resist!

Do any of you have the problem of enjoying too many creative endeavors? Like art, writing, quilting, photography, etc., etc., etc.? I do. It’s a hard thing when you like a lot of things. Even back in the 80s when I took a placement test at the community college to see what areas of interest I had. It’s hard when you like a lot of things. It’s great if you can devote enough time to each facet, but not if you are simply hacking away at each part. I did decide to forgo the art part until I finish the novel. And relax starting another one for at least six months, unless there’s a valid reason to start another novel right away. If a publisher is hounding me for a series, and I must get started quickly. It could happen. Not likely, but I’m new at this, how am I to know?

Once Bitten Twice Shy?

Wasn’t there a metal band in the 80s who sang a song “Once Bitten Twice Shy?” Through the blessing called GOOGLE, I find it was by White Snake. Yes, my oldest liked Metal and Hair Bands (Bon Jovi & Van Halen), heck I even liked those last two. And now you can hear them all on elevator music. It happens to all of us. My younger son Nick liked the boy bands, Pointer Sister, girl soloists, etc. Daughter? She liked the Death Metal garage band that went onto become the Faint. Yes, the Faint. She had a boyfriend (Mike) who was the lead singer/guitarist. She broke up with him before they got big. Funny how things go along. She now likes Country music, and they have their two beautiful kids, named after western heroes (Cody Wyatt) and a Country singer (Kayla Jolee). I can’t help but wonder what those kids will listen to. Hopefully not rap. Sorry, I just don’t like angry sounding stuff that rattles my fillings. I can even get to like lots of stuff, but not rap. Not in me.

So as I’m off to see if my plot will bite me again, I hope you have a beautiful day today. We have winter ick again, but it won’t last long. The last couple days I think I’ve given in to some of the COVID-19 Blues, and I don’t want to give away any more of my time to him. Not unless I could write a blues song about it like an old, wise, gravelly voiced black man could. With that life experience, it’d be a great song, don’t you think? What a character he would be. I think he could tell a lot of stories about lives he’s lived. But that’s for another time.

And thanks for reading today. I’m glad you were here with me, it’s given me a boost to keep working today. I hope your day is good. Do whatever you wish to. Reward yourself for staying in. We must if we want to emerge on the other side of this with our communities intact. Please don’t think you won’t catch it. You might not, but you could infect me. Or the Babe. Let’s be sensible. Thanks! See you tomorrow.