Happy Valentine's Day

This is a big day for “love” and “lovers”. And card companies, and chocolate makers, retailers everywhere. A huge part of the population sometimes feels as if they are less than the rest of us who happen to have partners of one kind or another.

I remember being single on this day. I remember sitting at work while everyone in the office received flowers from their someone. Everywhere. Flowers. Candy. Cards. Stuffed Animals and Balloons, all sorts of things. I felt less than desirable, less than loved, and soldiered on to get through the day. I was always glad it was over. Being in a relationship and marriage, now it’s so different. Sometimes we forget to get a card for each other, it’s all good. Each and every day, we demonstrate the love we were lucky enough to find with each other. I remember those long, lonely years. And I know some day we will face losing our partner. And we will experience another kind of lonely.

God was very good to both of us. For all of you who are single by chance or by choice, it gets better. You will find someone who is perfect for you. Make sure you keep your standards high and don’t let your lonliness lead you to a bad relationship decision. The worst mistakes I have made were made out of lonliness. Think more highly of yourself. The lonliness will pass. The best company you can have is yourself. Once you are comfortable being alone, you will be better off. Trust me, it doesn’t last forever.

I do believe blind dates still have a place in our world today. I don’t think I’d be a good candidate for online dating if I were single. Too many lies. I’ve been lied to in person more than had truths told. I don’t want to be lied to electronically. The Babe is the first man I ever met who told the God’s honest truth all the time. That took a little getting used to. And now, I would expect it rather than just hope for it. That is what happens when you learn to value yourself. It’s the best lesson I’ve learned in my life.

Today, Mom had another good day at therapy. It’s helping a lot more than she realizes, and I think it’s good for her to get out more frequently than she has been. Sunday we get to have a new adventure at a family wedding shower. First time for Mom going to a winery. First time for everything.

Thank you for reading today, I’m grateful you stopped by. I will be here again tomorrow, please stop by. It’s always great to see old friends. Give your single friends a hug.

Hug your friends today. They need to be loved, too!

Toned Down Tuesday

Mom reported back to Balance and Strength Class today. She was glad to get back to it. She needed a boost today, was out of sorts, but felt better after the class was over. Then she felt like doing more than just going home. Hobby Lobby, there we went!

It serves as an outing and an indoor walk, so she was happy but tired by the time we were finished. I feel badly for older folks. Will I have anyone to get me out when I’m 90? Gosh, I hope so. I am sure I’ll need help, everyone does. Maybe it’ll be grandkids, or stepdaughter, or my son who lives in town. I’m certainly not worried or concerned about it, but hope I’m still a vital human by that time.

The painters finished up today. There’s something fresh and new about new colors and a clean start. Kind of early spring cleaning. now to get new accessories. Artwork, maybe an art quilt, stuff, and more stuff. This is the fun part. Photos to follow.

No writing today, but lots of thoughts about the book. I’m creating dialogue to tell parts of the story, as this is supposed to be more readable and relatable. It makes the whole story different. Hope to hit it again earlier tomorrow, in between an appointment for the Babe and just putzing around the house. I found another couple of books at Hobby Lobby today, Calligraphic Drawing, and Creative Lettering Companion. I’m all about books at bargain prices, and these were discounted deeply.

I also started reading a new book, River People, by Margaret Lukas. She is a fellow Nebraska Writers Guild member. The story is set in Nebraska in the late 1890s. It should be a great read, if you’d like to learn more about it, it is available on Amazon.

This week is the big holiday that was invented by the Romans to celebrate love. There are all sorts of definitions and origins if you Google Valentine’s Day, and you can believe what you’d like. While I was still single, I was amazed at the vast number of women who received (delivered) bouquets of roses at work. When the vases were delivered, other women would ask, “From your husband?” The answer was a mixture of sarcasm and bitchiness, “He knows better than to forget.” Wow. Is that the way to show love, expect it as a show to other women? I love to receive flowers. These days, if I see a pretty bouquet at the store, I’ll buy it. The babe and I both can enjoy the blooms, and it’s a good pick me up for the house during gloomy days.

It’s been a couple of long days here at Raabe Ranch. Even the dogs are extra tired. It should get back to normal in a day or two here. Just glad to have a head start on spring sprucing up and all the wonder that goes with it. I would bet we get a snowstorm or two before spring really arrives, but it won’t last too long. Famous last words, right? Thank you for reading today, I hope to see you again tomorrow.

Happy Birthday, Addison!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Sunny Saturday

When you live in the midwest, anytime the temperature is above twenty, it’s not windy, and the sun is out, it’s like a fine summer day upon us. People are nice to each other, the stores are a little less crowded, the grocery stores are pretty much sold down in inventory. Maybe they are planning cook outs? I’m not sure, but the shelves were oddly vacant today.

We just don’t eat at home a lot, so our “grocery list” is probably like a snack supply trip. Bagels and peanut butter for breakfast, with a yogurt, coffee, and we usually eat a late lunch/dinner out. The rest is lettuce for salad, cottage cheese for me, apples, carrots, and crackers and cheese for a snack. I used to fully stock the refrigerator for dinner every night, but we just ended up throwing so much away, it was not good. I think if you eat a balanced diet, the rest will take care of itself. We both could lose several pounds, so I don’t think we’re in danger of malnutrition. I’m just not that hungry anymore. For anything. It might be an aging thing??

I’d rather have lighter fare than restaurant luncheon items. Burger and fries? Maybe once a week, no more often. Tacos? Maybe once a week. I would eat a small steak and salad, or pork chops and a potato. Baked potatoes are great, especially loaded. I like sweet potatoes baked with a dash of sugar and cinnanom. delicious. I’ve never seen the thing about smoothies. To me, it’s just mushing everything up, and sometimes there is so much sugar added. I like the purity of raw fruits and like to eat them as such. Veggies the same way. The closest to natural the better.

We have a birthday in the family on Monday. Addison will be thirteen. She was born on her Grandma Sandy’s birthday, which was really cool when it happened. Sandy lost a hard battle to lung cancer ten years ago. It was such a sad thing and we all think of her often. Sometimes I wonder what she would think of these wonderful grandkids of hers. I know she would love them to pieces. All three of them. All we can do is love the kids and tell them about their other Grandma. As long as we keep her alive in our conversations, she will live on.

It hasn’t been a good day for writing. When I start out late, it seems I cannot get things on paper. Tomorrow will be another day. I’m just going to review my printed pages and figure out where to tell stories about my additional characters. It should work. Instead of my main character just thinking the story, I’m going to have the characters talk the story. Descriptions, narrative, and lots of colorful characters should do it.

I thank you for reading today. I’ll be here tomorrow, and hope to see you, too.

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!

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.