Thoughtful Thursday

Good morning, from the Home Office of Jewell Publishing, LLC. It’s the home of Authors Kathy Raabe and Grandma Kathy. Isn’t this fun? Lexie, Chief of Security, is listening to music by Rick Tiger this morning. He tells some pretty wonderful stories with his lyrics and music. Real people’s stuff. It’s pretty quiet, just the sound of the music in the background and the keys making keyboard sounds. Once in a while, I hear Lexie snore, and I think of how wonderful this life really is.  

The Babe went off to accomplish some things at the VFW Post, and I have the time and freedom to write what’s in my heart today, that is until Goldie wakes up to play catch again. Spring is really greening up nicely. Even though it does every year, it’s still amazing to see it happen. We have the best seat in the house from either the patio or the deck. Ground level or second story treehouse view.

As the squirrels run their routes from branch to branch, tree to tree, the Blue Jays caw and frolic. They hang out all year. With the leaves coming in, they’re harder to see but easier to hear. I think the sound echoes as if in a canyon. The squirrels are pretty well hidden by the end of May. We feed the Finches, and a lively group dines frequently. Goldie loves to lie in the grass in the shade. It must be cool for her. What hair she doesn’t shed in the house covers her the rest of the time. And I’m sure it’s warm.

I’m thinking about what to plant this year. I do annuals in pots outside. I have some succulents to plant in pots and take in when summer is over. Hoping I get all that done before my back tells me to stop. There will be other days, too. Some to sit quietly and look for Baltimore Orioles after watering the pots every morning. Some to write as I’m doing now. It’s funny how certain habits span the years, isn’t it? I usually do those things in the mornings. Afternoons are for reading or hand sewing, embroidery, or something like that. Maybe a nap.

It reminds me of the days when I had small children and was a stay at home Mom. By 10 a.m. each day, the house was spotless, cleaned, dusted, vacuumed. I’d take the kids for a walk. I wore out a couple strollers. Not the umbrella kind, the old-fashioned heavier ones with the sunshade top. I never wanted those babies to get a sunburn. It was still in the era of baby oil suntans and no one knew about skin cancer. I had one great tan in my life; I wasn’t pasty Irish-white; I actually was a shade of tan. I worked at it. The summer before Frankie turned two, 1973. His dad was home from the Army and early afternoon, I let Frankie play in the baby pool I filled every morning. When he was ready for a nap, I dumped the pool out and put him to bed. He’d sleep a couple hours. I laid in the sun under his bedroom windows, so I’d hear him if he woke up. I was the only one home during the day, and it was safe.

Hot pants and halter tops were a big deal then, and I had both. I’d lost 40 pounds while his dad was in Germany. I kept it off for a while. Until I actually ate normal food again. Yo-Yo’s were common, and not healthy. I believe most of humanity does that; you know? We are so fortunate to have the food supply we have; no one should go hungry. No one should have an unhealthy diet. But being human, here we are. We think we “deserve” a treat. We do. Just not every day. It just takes a slide from healthy eating to start an avalanche of weight gain.

Back in October, after eating well and too much at home during the quarantine, we both gained weight. By October, I didn’t feel like myself. I didn’t like whoever I was feeling like and asked our Internal Med Doc if Keto was safe for folks of our age and the Babe’s Ischemic Heart Disease. He said, “YES!”

Of course, men always lose weight faster than women do. The Babe did well, then has stalled now. I’ve lost 30 pounds and kind of stalled, too. I’m going to get back on track and we will see what the summer brings us. I’d love to lose another 30, but will be happy with 20. If the Babe loses more, he may be a candidate to reduce the type of meds he takes. Wouldn’t that be a bonus? I love when that happens!

Think on your wonderful memories today. Own up to your areas that need improvement. We all need to do that. Be Kind. Be Thoughtful. Be Patient. We’re almost to the end of our COVID measures. A little longer. We will make it! Thank you for reading. We will see each other tomorrow. Have a beautiful outdoors day!

I Just Had To . . .

I’ve been contemplating for a week now; how to write a blog about this. I received the new Billy McGuigan solo album last week, complete with a nice Polaroid photo (autographed!) and my spirits soared. We had been hearing from Billy via Facebook about the different songs on the album, and what his inspirations were. The guy had a lot of time to think in his little yellow shack in his backyard. We all have this year. After passing time in all the usual ways, Billy took to his shed (Sonny West Studio in Country Club) and started creating. He sang everything (all the parts), played all the instruments, and produced something magic yet real. He hit gold with this music, these stories, these tunes and words that come from his soul.

I’ve been a fan for over seven years now. Regular shows include his brothers (always in his band), and they do a Beatles Tribute show called “Yesterday and Today.” It’s exceptional. He has starred as Buddy Holly in “Rave On,” a musical show at the Omaha Community Playhouse. There are many accolades in their collective resumes, music, acting, arranging, lots of talents to go around one family. Their children are all very talented, too. Check out the videos and info.

Citing inspirations from the Beatles (always), Beach Boys, Buddy Holly, Eagles, and countless others, Billy reaches for the stars and touches them. He’s sharing them with us, his fans. On his website, take time to read the info about the album. You’ll find two buttons at the bottom of the ordering page: The Songs, and Liner Notes. You’ll learn the inspirations and events that inspired the words, the music, and you’ll finally have your answer if you’ve ever asked why they don’t talk about their mom. Their dad was a man among men, dying when he was only 42 from cancer. Together, they are a force to reckon with.

Billy, I can tell you, many of us been on roller coaster rides and guilt trips, too. At 91, my mom is still driving that damned bus. And I admire how you put all this together. The truth you speak of; it’s honest, open, and inspiring at the same time. We receive the gift she lost out on. And they can’t help themselves, often, they don’t know any better. Breaking that cycle is difficult. Kudos to your stepmom. What an influential person!

Christmas came early this year, folks. Last night, since the first live performance at Iowa Western Community College was COVID-cancelled, through the magic of Facebook live, we got to watch a live performance of the album, complete with the most talented band there could be. You can view it at Billy’s Facebook page, “Billy McGuigan,” and you will spend about 90 minutes in my sunny place. You’ll laugh, it will touch you, and you’ll hear some grim realities of life. And they’ll all be true, from the heart of a very talented singer/songwriter. I know we will hear from Billy again. I look forward to it. Hope we’re able to see you at a live show again soon!

As Billy now joins the esteemed ranks of singer/songwriter, he joins the groups of people the Babe and I met by attending other local music shows. Jimmy Weber, (he’ll perform live today from Johnny Cash’s farm in Tennessee, check out his Facebook page for the 2 p.m. CST gig); Rick Tiger, (a prolific songwriter and singer on his own, he has written many songs you’ve heard others sing, and he prays for me when I ask. Good, good man); Ray Scott, (he performs on Facebook Live nearly weekly, check him out), I have a bunch of his CD’s.

A cool thing about Ray Scott, his latest album, “Nowhere Near Done,” is in a top album of the year named by American Songwriter Magazine. This is an esteemed list. It’s so cool someone we’ve seen at Buck’s in Venice, (Nebraska). You may catch him in person there sometime. Buck’s Bar & Grill, Facebook page worth watching.

Gentlemen, I hope all of you knock ’em dead today. Our year will be complete when Jimmy Weber releases his new album. I have a feeling it’ll be soon. We’ve heard some of his original music, too. More on that later. Thank you, on behalf of music lovers everywhere, for sharing your talents with all of us. You make this COVID-Post Election World a much kinder, gentler place to live. Keep writing, we’ll keep listening. Be Safe out there!

Thursday’s Child

There was an old nursery rhyme called “Monday’s Child.” It was a little ditty supposedly for children to help them learn the days of the week. I was born on a Thursday. Ascension Thursday, no less. “Thursday’s child has far to go,” was meant for me. From what I’ve read, I can take this one of two ways: First, I will have a long life. I’m hoping for that. Women have good longevity in my family. Both Grandmothers lived long. Mom is 91. Second, it could mean I have a lot of obstacles to overcome. Have you known me long? There were mountains and hills worth of obstacles. Faith and Hope have gotten me through. Sure there are more to come, too. Just realistic, not negative. God has been so very good to me. I’m forever grateful.

Either way, whatever that phrase means, I am here and so happy to be. Life gets better and better. Heck, this morning, I felt great and started a crock pot dinner an hour ago that will be ready at about 6 p.m. or so. Planning ahead. Chicken and noodles. Thanks, Peggy Fischman! My grade school, neighbor, and quilting buddy. Always has a new recipe or two.

The header photo today is my music of the day. I posted it on my personal FB account, asking what was missing? More Jimmy Weber CD’s. I hope there is one despite this pandemic. Jimmy’s a very creative guy, if anyone can produce it, he can. (No pressure, my friend!). Dayna Jones’ CD is great. You can order it from her, and she has a really cute shirt, too. I ordered a long sleeved one and know it’ll rotate into the fall wardrobe a lot. Go Dayna!

I’ve said before, music gets me through a lot of hard times. As a single mom, I was glad to have the drive time from downtown to the 90th & Dodge area near home to just decompress from the day, and relax. It was then much easier to get home to my three kids and spend the evening with them when I wasn’t in school or working my second job. Music is always there, even if no one else is. Now, the Babe and music are always there. Grateful and blessed.

I Love Eleanor Roosevelt. Such an unsung hero.

Still working on character definition for my book, The Freeing of Katie Fitzgibbon’s. Katie has seven, count them seven brothers. They are characters, believe me. It’s fun to make this stuff up. I can do that since I’m doing an actual fiction novel. A couple weeks ago, I was considering creative nonfiction. My book coach, Sam Tyler, mentioned I could be sued. That would certainly be an unfortunate end, wouldn’t it? Since I have no interest in that happening, I have ventured back to fiction. The common disclaimer you see after every movie and at the beginning of every book should cover me. I don’t look good in horizontal stripes, you know? On a writer’s merch website, I saw a shirt that read:

If people don’t like what you write about them, they should have treated you better.

It’s certainly to the point now, isn’t it? I did buy the one that reads:

Careful! Or you’ll end up in my novel!

Another thing I’m learning about with this venture is “Character Agency.” It’s something vital to the story. Plot is driven by the decisions the protagonist (main character) makes. The writer needs to make clear why the character makes a decision they do. An inciting incident voids any possibility of a character continuing to live a normal life. Will they fight or flee?

Writer Topher Kearby sells his creations at http://www.topherkearby.com

I admire Topher’s work, and am Facebook friends with him. His typed words are beautiful. There is also art that go with some of the musings. Check him out.

As I go to do some more domestic chores this early afternoon, I want to thank you for reading today. I hope you have a great day today. I’ll be here again tomorrow, hope to see you then! Stay Safe, Wash Up, Mask Up, Be Kind, Be Thoughtful, and Be Courteous. It’ll help us all. Thank you!

Sunny Sunday!

Greetings from the Home Office Studio in Gretna, Nebraska! It is a scrumptious day out there, a bit chilly, but the sun is shining. That makes all the difference in the world. As you know, with all this social distancing going on we are not able to go out to movies, shopping, stop off and have a beverage, and go see our favorite musical entertainment. I shared yesterday about our friend, Jimmy Weber, who did a gig last night from his home. It was so good to hear him sing live again! The seating was great, no lines at the ladies room, and they stocked our favorite beverages! There were a couple technical issues, but that stuff is even happening to Netflix these days. (Buffering is still alive and annoying while watching your favorite series’ new season!). That aside, he sang a lot of his new songs that will be recorded later this year in Nashville. Hope they’re ready for you, Jimmy! Stay well.

Today, our friend Rick Tiger and a friend are on FB Live from 4 to 6 p.m. Tune in, you’ll know you’ve heard Rick’s songs before. He’s written a treasure trove of them. He’s a good guy, and you’ll feel you’ve known him forever. Thanks in advance for supporting our friends!

While high school athletes and seniors mourn the loss of their time in the sun, there are couples all over the world who are having to postpone the most important day of their lives together – their weddings. I truly feel sorry for them as weddings are something they look forward to for months and even years. How disappointing to have quarantines in place, where no more than ten people can gather together. Some can’t even include their entire families!

Which brings me to the point of this story. My cousins Mike and Mary have four grown kids, three girls and a boy. The son is in college, so they’re all grown for the most part. Their oldest had a wedding scheduled for yesterday, April 4. After much discussion, they went forward with the ceremony, in the groom’s parents yard. They were so blessed to have such a pretty day. From the photos, it was a beautiful wedding. They adjusted. They got through it. They didn’t like having to change their plans, but they did. They were grateful and everything went well. That’s what being married is about. Things don’t always go the way you want, but a compromise is found, and you go on, being grateful for the gift of each other. It’s a testament to their parents and to Marc and Katelynn too, for picking out the important part and going with it. You kids are off to a great start.

In addition to adjusting, you also need to keep your sense of humor in marriage. The Babe and I have found it to be our most important and most used tool in the arsenal. While going through the photos online, we were blessed with this one. It was the groom’s idea, and it truly speaks to their sense of humor and grace, and will be a story to tell their grandkids about. I absolutely love this!!

What a great way to start a (COVID-19) marriage.
With laughter!

Do me a favor? If you get down in the dumps over all this staying at home, come back to this blog post, and have a good laugh on Katelynne and Marc! Congratulations to them!

It ought to be interesting, my cousins Mike and Mary have another daughter getting married in August, 2020. I wish them the best of luck in keeping their schedule amidst this looming crisis. This is a family who believes in their faith, the goodness of God, and the kindness of people. They will all be ok. I hope the same for all of us.

Better days are coming again.
Be aware and receive them fully.

At the present moment, I have to say, this isn’t the worst bad time I’ve had – yet. Sometimes, as a single mom, I thought we might go bankrupt, but that worst never happened. Sometimes, as a single mom, I prayed my kids would have enough of a teacher in me that they would break the stereotype of “bad kids come from broken homes,” and they grew up good, responsible citizens. (I still hate the term “broken homes”to this day). Sometimes, as a breast cancer patient, I was afraid the cancer would have a mind of it’s own, destroying my life and taking me from this earth, but it didn’t. The list goes on and on of the things that would qualify as my worst hard/bad time. Yes, many could have happened, but by the grace of God, they did not. I am praying for all of us, that this global pandemic, is not any of our worst hard times.

Thank you for reading today. I hope it made your heart a bit lighter. I appreciate you very much, and hope to see you again tomorrow. Who knows what fun we’ll have then? I’ll be here.

Stupendous Saturday

It’s another Saturday here at the Home Office at Gretna, Nebraska. Another decent day, and it will be in the 60s and 70s next week. For the first time in about ten days, I’ve left the house to go with the Babe to his office in the VFW Post 2503 in Omaha. It feels strange to be out of the house, yet I don’t want to venture too far away. I feel the best at home, truthfully.

Our musician friends are making it easier to be quarantined. There are many local and national performers who are doing FB live concerts from their homes to ours. Some are posting previous performances to keep the interest piqued. All of them are done to help us get away from what’s going on right now, even if just for an hour. You will feel better after listening to music, I guarantee it.

That said, our good friend, Jimmy Weber, is performing tonight from 8 – 9 p.m. Just go to his FB page, Jimmy Weber Music, or Jimmy Weber and watch. You’ll be glad you did! Singer and Songwriter Rick Tiger and a friend will share some songs tomorrow afternoon from 3 – 4 p.m. You’ll enjoy this one, too. I’m so happy to be able to share these events with all of you, it’ll help reduce your stress and introduce you to two of the nicest and talented men I know. I’m so lucky to call them both friends. Enjoy!

This pandemic is going to get worse before it gets better, according to some of the experts. This means we will be under these stresses for a while to come. It is important to put things into perspective and be calm. Yes, things have gotten away from me several times already. I freely admit it. Some days, I’m terrified for our families, our old folks and our babies. I am afraid for myself since I want to see those grandkids all grow up too. There is way too much for all of us to lose, and that’s not even talking about the financial aspect of it. We’ve all survived with less money, fewer belongings, and in tougher times. God will be good to us.

I am going to make masks for my family should they want any. And I’m going to create from my studio, deck, and/or patio every day. It is what I know will make me feel better. You make sure you find what will make you feel better and do it. Music, creating, and being with my best friend top my list. The Babe is true blue in good times and in bad times, as I am with him. I have learned, however, that he has many women friends, whom I’ll gladly share him with. After all, he shares me with my men friends. It’s a grown up relationship, no jealousy, just as it should be. Lucky me!

Truer words never spoken!

I want to thank you for reading today. I suppose we have dawdled enough today, and it’s time to publish this post. We ended up having drive through lunch and going for ice cream on the way home. I’m ready to cocoon again for awhile. We don’t ask for much, and we’re so richly rewarded!

The photo above and story that goes with it is humorous yet sadly true. Just remember the moral of the story as you go about this quarantine. Wash your hands, stay home, and keep the jackasses under control. Thank you for reading today, tune into Jimmy Weber tonight and I’ll see you again here tomorrow. Be safe until then.

Wonderful Wednesday

Today is a special day for the world. It is Rick Tiger’s birthday. I want to wish him a happy day and hope for many more for him. Rick is a storyteller/singer/songwriter, and the Babe and I met him a few years ago.  He has written many beautiful songs. Check out his catalog of songs, and you’ll likely find something you like that he wrote. Today in my studio, we’re being serenaded by Rick. I love being able to create my own playlists. Google Rick and you’ll see his many accomplishments. It’s a great story. Here is a link to his website. http://www.ricktiger.com

It’s also a special day because they have nominated a very special friend of ours to the Rocky Mountain Country Music Awards, Jimmy Weber, as Musician of the Year.  Wow! No one works harder than Jimmy to achieve what he has. I’m delighted for him, hope he wins. Find more info on
Jimmy go to: http://www.jimmywebercountry.com

Back in time, both Rick and Jimmy, these creative people have been where I am. Just starting out. They are two of the many people who inspire me to create, who I listen to when they have talked about their dreams and encouraged all of us to just to out and follow ours. Good stuff! If anyone enjoys my writing as much as I enjoy their music, it will thrill me to death. Until then, I’ll be here in my studio, working on my dream. Just like they did. Dan and I love both of you guys!

Meanwhile, back at the Raabe Ranch, I am studying the second part of Pinterest training. An online group is offering guidance as the Nebraska Writer’s Guild did on posting in Pinterest. I’m amazed by the numbers provided for how long a shelf life advertising has on Pinterest. About 8,760 days. 24 years. WOW! Let that sink in. So I believe I’d better learn this pronto!

I also had a call yesterday from Constant Contact, an organization that works with WordPress helping collect email addresses. It is something I’m looking at. I realize full well Mail Chimp does that for free or darned near. It’s all about finding out about choices and how to spend my time well. The Constant Contact call was from expressing interest, not a cold call. I like that. I also like he could quote a lot of my blog posts. I know, he’s a salesman. At least they took the time to read some of what I wrote. More looking at options to come.

YES. Yes. yes. Some folks believe retirement is the time to do nothing. Absolutely nothing. I’ve always had hobbies. Mostly of the “girly” kind; sewing (garment construction, quilting, and decorating), embroidery, crocheting. I’ve created many, many gifts for people and clothed myself, even sewing business suits for me. It was a lot of fun, and I learned a lot. Mom told me the other day my maternal great grandmother worked at Clarkson Hospital. Her job was sewing the nurse’s uniforms. Hats, dresses, cloaks, all of it. Mom said, “You come by your outstanding sewing skills naturally.” That made me happy to make that connection with Great Grandma Riss. Mom is not sure whatever happened to Grandpa Riss, no one said. So many disappearances back in the late 1800s and early 1900s. So many questions that will never have answers. So glad to have those hobbies.

And in February, I’m joining others in the private Facebook group in a 30 day creative challenge. I will focus on a creation every day that I will either draw, write (maybe poetry), or photograph. There are prompts given, and it’ll be another great experience. The last time I did this artistic challenge, I overloaded myself with too many things. I did not finish the month and I was exhausted. Note to self: hard as it is to accept, you’re not in your 20s anymore. Or 30s. Or 40s. Or 50s. I refuse to go further until it’s time to! I have a few good years left!

I’ll let you know when I successfully pin some real Nebraska authors’ books to a board on my Kathy Raabe, Author Pinterest page. Until then, thank you for reading along today. I will be here again tomorrow, and I’d love to see you here! Stay warm, be careful out there!

My Inspirations to Create

If you were to look just above the top of your phone, notebook, laptop, desktop, what can you see, right in front of you, at this very moment?? This is what I see:

My view at this very minute. Inspiring me.

If you have a human sitting across from you, please, you can read my blog later. Interact with your friend/spouse/lover/child/sibling/parent. If it’s a stranger, smile. Be kind. If you have no one close by, observe.

Listen to the sounds you hear. I’m not going to video, but I swear I have music on right now by Rick Tiger. Learn about Rick at

http://www.ricktiger.net.

Rick has written and recorded many, many thoughtful, storytelling songs. I am inspired by that. It’s creating at it’s best. Rick and his wife Joyce are such nice people.

Dan and I met him a few years ago, and we’ve become fans. We met Rick through Jimmy Weber, who is also in my creative soundtrack arsenal. Jimmy has an extensive musical background that you can check out for yourself at

http://www.JimmyWebercountry.com.

Jimmy is a remarkable human being I’m proud to call a friend. He’s deeply involved in his community and with fellow veterans.

We met Jimmy through Billy McGuigan and his vast assortment of very talented friends. Billy, Ryan, and Matthew McGuigan have our attention whatever and wherever they are performing. Songbird Tara Vaughn has taken major part in the productions and my, she has grown as a performer. She can still belt out a song, but she has been creative herself by starring her own show, “She Rocks.” And I can assure you, she does. New guy Max Meyer can do things with a guitar I can only watch in awe. My hubby Dan gets a kick out of how Max has blossomed, become more comfortable on the stage with Billy and the others. It’s such a neat thing to watch. Visit their schedules and story at:

http://www.billymcguigan.com

Yesterday and Today, Rock On, Legends of Rock, British Invasion (with the Omaha Symphony), Billy and the Downliners, Rock Twist, and everything they do is superb. It inspires me to try and do something superb.

About a year ago, I sat down to start jotting ideas, lists, books to consult, etc. So much to learn!

All these folks have closed shows with words like, “Follow your dreams!” “Dream On” “Do what you love.” It really set me to thinking. I could do what I want right now.”

About a year ago, I purchased this book from Amazon. I started reading and thinking about how I’ve always wanted to write books for children. My daughter, Rebecca, has always encouraged me to do that. I miss her, she’s lived in Colorado for the past 18 years, has a great guy for a husband, and a beautiful baby girl named Kayla. They prefer I not post photos of them and especially not Kayla, and I respect that wish. So, with Rebecca leading the charge, and those generic encouragements from the stage, I’m following my dream.

For me, this is the perfect time of life to create, write, and publish my stories. I’ve always wanted to, I like to create, and my living doesn’t depend on it. I wouldn’t have taken the risk of quitting my job in the IT world for something I thought I could do. After all, I had three very hungry kids to feed. This is now my turn!

The person who inspires me daily is my husband, Dan. (I called him “Babe” in public with our VFW friends one night, and that is now his name, “Babe,” or “The Babe.” He is all for it if I want to do it. Something I’ve never had in a partner before. Babe, thanks for always being in my corner.

Dan’s support rivals what my dad gave me throughout life. He wouldn’t want me to quit a good job and roam around trying new stuff, but he would have encouraged me to try it out in spare time, once I was done raising kids. A man of few words, he would tell me, “Just keep doing what you’re doing, and you’ll get there.” Thanks, Dad!

Right now, I’m writing a realistic fiction. No escaping reality there!

Thank you, Billy, Ryan, Matthew, Tara, Kate, Kathy, Jimmy, Rick and Joyce, Dan, Dad, and especially, my daughter, Rebecca.

Thanks to all of you for reading, encouraging, and giving me ideas. Please leave comments, like and follow, and don’t forget about the $50 giveaway for November. Once per day, for your comments or likes, you’ll be entered in a giveaway for a $50 VISA giftcard. Share with your friends, please. Let’s have a fun November!

Headed off to write the 1,677 words for today. 50,000 will be here before I know it!