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.

Wonderful Wednesday in Nebraska

Yes, it can be a wonderful Wednesday in Nebraska – or Arizona, or South Dakota, or Tuesday, Thursday, you get it. It’s all in our attitude if it’s wonderful or not. Look at it this way. It’s lightly snowing this morning. It’s pretty outside. It’s sending moisture to my very dry flower bed areas that are covered by cold stones. It’s preparing the soil and flowers that will come back to grow and bloom in the spring. Preparation. The Creation Plan of God, although I dispute the 7-days-and-He-was-done theory, is so immense, interdependent, and all encompassing, it makes me feel very small, like a speck of dirt in the universe.

Could you imagine a writer or artist having a plan similar to God’s plan of Creation for a book or work of art? It would take far longer than seven days to complete. The characters! And I thought MY family was quirky! Er, unique. That’s it, unique, one-of-a kind, that’s it. Yes. Ahem. Or the colors and shapes in a work of art that contained the story? Wow. You may have guessed by my unconventional capitalizations that I was raised Catholic. Creation, He, all those things were capitalized when I was a kid. In my mind and heart, they still are. While I question a lot of the point blank teachings we were force fed, I still have the respect for the faith of my father, Grandparents, Aunts and Uncles. Faith is very important for the Irish, and for all of us. Mom was a “convert.” All that meant was that Dad and Mom could not have been married unless she agreed to raise all her children Catholic. Regardless. It’s really kind of sad, when you think of it. Lots of people were coerced into that kind of promise, not knowing what lay ahead. I will not venture into any topics like Church cover ups of abuse or anything like that. What I will talk about is the treatment of women as the lesser creation of God, that we are not equal. No, we are not. In many ways, we are superior to men. With all due respect, in many ways they are superior to us as well.

My point is we equal each other out. That is the whole idea. What one cannot do, the other does. We all have different talents, abilities, and gifts. If we use them like we could and should, it all balances out. I believe it. So does the Babe. That’s how we make it work. That’s how we can be friends after nearly twenty two years of being married. And twenty four years together. Wow. Back in 1996, we were hoping for a good fifteen or twenty years, based on his coronary artery disease. God gave us the miracle of great doctors and health care who have taken good care of the Babe’s health. It could be better, but he’s still here.

In these years, I’d have never guessed we would have had his issues, Agent Orange illnesses, my cancer, his stroke, my disability, losing his sweet Mom and sister-in-law Pat, my sister-in-law Laura, and so on and so forth. It’s a give and take, we take care of each other and thank God we can do this. We have worked hard, and are humbled by what we have. We are fortunate. Through the work of the VFW and our church, we help others. We must share, but not give it all away. That isn’t fair to anyone.

A long time ago, my mom was mad at Dad for not handing over cash to me to help when I was a single mom with three kids. He had it, sure. But he wanted me to be self sufficient. And I learned. Only one time did I have to borrow and I paid him back. It was $200 for my daughter’s braces. I paid him back. The cancelled check is in my sewing cabinet drawer. It’s there to remind me of what I learned from him, and it’s the only memory I have of his beautiful, cursive handwritten signature. Thanks, Dad. I know you would have loved these grandkids in their 40s and Dan. His kids would amaze you, too. But then, you know all about these happenings in our lives.

Let’s keep looking ahead to our futures, be mindful from where we all came, and know we cannot live there. What is alive is ahead, not behind. Spring will come. All in God’s time. Thank you for reading today. I appreciate your time. As always, I’ll be here tomorrow. Time to go take Mom to get her hair cut. Blessings!

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.

Terrific Tuesday

Sitting by the fire, and the events of the day are helping me to smile. Today was a day for me to Uber Mom over to Think Physical Therapy. She calls me her seeing eye person, or her driver. Oh well, as long as she gets there. I hope someday she tells someone I’m her daughter. She doesn’t think like that, however. She had to go to Menards, to stock up on cleaning supplies. She also purchased a wreath for next Christmas. She also purchased some other odds and ends. The girl that cleans her house knocked over one of Mom’s Christmas trees, breaking the stand. It doesn’t stand up well anymore.

Mom asked several sales people if they had any more Christmas tree stands. One said they thought so. About forty minutes later, she had a new artificial tree stand, for $6.38. And eleven percent rebate. Heck of a deal. The two women who searched the store, the storage, the basement and checked with other stores could have told Mom, “No, we don’t have any.” They really went above and beyond to look for the item she needed. Maybe they knew she decorates in October, or maybe they just wanted to help. They made her day, and I’m sure she’ll pray for them tonight. We need more of this in the world, don’t we?

The videos I viewed yesterday were helpful in drawing some basic creatures, elephants, giraffes, and other shapes. I will break out my dad’s Cartoon Drawing books and review how they teach drawing basic shapes. The fun lettering book came today from Adornit. I’m happy this can be part of my artwork for the February Challenge.

I did a lot of lettering in Art Classes in High School. Enjoyed it a lot.

Just not enough hours in the day! My mom wishes for more time. Not sure to do what, because she swears she’s always busy but doesn’t tell us what she does. She insists she still needs the 4 bedroom, 2 bathroom, a huge living room, dining room and a kitchen that is her home since 1949. She is a constant worrier so I guess that takes up some time.

The Babe and I are having homemade Pasta e Fagoili for dinner. It’s a great easy slow cooker meal that is perfect for these cold winter evenings. Hope you stay warm. Thank you for reading and know I’m grateful for you doing so. I will be here tomorrow, too, hope you will.

A Saturday in January

This is about the coldest it has been in Nebraska in a while. All the Babe and I need to do is dig deep in the closet to find the warmest gloves, scarves, and hat. And we each have several coats to choose from. We are so fortunate. Yesterday, the Babe went through his closets to find warm coats he no longer wears. He has four or five of them, ready to go, in a plastic garbage bag. We know two ladies from the Post who volunteer at a Veterans Homeless Shelter, and they will take the coats to the shelter this week. He didn’t want to donate them to Goodwill, etc., because it sells them. He wanted them to go directly to a veteran in need, for free.

We did a little office work at the VFW today, getting ready for a mailing. Every year they have a fundraising initiative to raise money to maintain the building and grounds. I like this to be my volunteering so I can apply my clerical skills to helping in any way I can. It helps the Babe, since I can type faster than he can, and then he is finished sooner than later. It was a good day.

We went to Walmart for a few groceries. Few people were out. It amazed me there were so many people much older than we are. Usually we are the oldest ones there. Maybe they go on Saturday, but it just seemed so cold out for them. I think frigid temps are so hard on older people. I know it adds to aches and pains; it aggravates arthritis and other ailments most people acquire as time goes on.

Tonight, I’m writing by the fireplace as my studio is frigid again. The dogs love the fire and lay in front of it until they become too hot; then they move away quickly. What lucky pups. We heard about two men who abused a lab pup somewhere near a lake. They threw the dog, so it landed on its back, the ice broke, and the pup fell in the freezing water. How terrible. I hope the state does not allow them to own another pet. Ever again. People who do that to animals usually abuse children and other adults in their lives.

The football season is nearing the end tomorrow with the last two playoff games. The Super Bowl will follow. We are cheering for Kansas City and hoping they come out ahead. The young quarterback is fun to watch.

Tonight will be a little more reviewing my first chapter and assess if it’s still making the cut for the rewrite. One important thing I have learned is how authors try to cram the entire backstory into the first chapter of the book. Nothing much happens, it just gets dumped out, and the action doesn’t start until Chapter Two. I did it, too. Thanks to my editor, I have learned how that approach could make the readers drop my book like a hot rock.

Thank you for reading today. I appreciate it very much. As usual, I’ll be here tomorrow, and I hope to find you here, too. Stay warm!

Weird Wednesday

Today I’m just taking a quick break from a very busy day. You who have had a puppy and wear glasses might have had the pup knock into your face while your specs are on. Throws them out of whack for sure. The day started with a trip to the optical company we do business at. They did the adjustment in a short time. Then on to Mom’s house.

She was ready but we still hung out for a little bit. She had to mail bills and go to the bank for some cash. It’s funny, she refuses to use her DEBIT card at an ATM. She writes a check and cashes it at a teller in the bank. She refuses the drive through lane. “The only banking that should ever take place is face to face, in the institution.” I find it funny. All you can do is allow enough time for her to get out, walk inside, and stand in line. She is so hard of hearing she and has limited vision, so it’s hard. She insists on going in alone. The days of the banker who could call you by name are long gone. I did get to experience that from Packers National Bank, Laddie Kozeny. He was a wonderful man, and knew my parents.

We went to the Omaha World Herald B-62 Luncheon. It is for retirees. She did not work there, but my father did from 1952 – 1988, and my older brother did for another thirty some years. Mom still attends as she is included in the group. Nice, nice people.

Tom Shatel, a sports columnist for the OWH was the speaker today. I read his column from time to time, and it was nice to hear his talk. He spent a time on Scott Frost, Nebraska Football, and Creighton/Nebraska volleyball. All worthy subjects and he did a great job. One thing he did discuss was the Omaha Press Club, which may open up and accept membership from other than newspaper, radio, and television news. By today’s standard, this is a daily column. I wonder if I could apply?? More on that later. It could be fun.

This week is half over and my gosh! I need to get some big stuff finished up this week. Having a puppy in the house means we need to clean the carpeting before I put up the tree. I will feel better with a fresh carpet. Then decorate. There are so many things to decorate with, I will have fun doing it. And today, I received a new nutcracker in the mail. It’s a fun one. The other six I have are from the 1980’s when Shopko sold them for $10 or so, when you spent so much on gifts. So, I did. They were quite nice. Hope Goldie leaves them alone.

Hope we meet again tomorrow. I’ll be here, will you? I hope so. Thank you.

Happy Birthday, Joell!

Today is a very special day in our family. Our oldest grandson, Joell, turns twelve today. It is so hard to believe! He is in sixth grade, which is middle school where he lives in Maryland. We visited in May, 2019, and were present for his Promotion Ceremony from elementary school to middle chool. He has attended a Spanish Immersion program since first grade, and the school is pretty amazing. He will continue the SI program until he graduates from high school, I believe. His mother’s family is Puerto Rican, so it is good that he can practice the language with his mother and some relatives.

No More Elementary School for This Guy.

I hope Joell realizes how special he is to us. We talk about you a lot at our home. We are getting better at texting you and communicating since you now have a phone # of your very own. We love you for a lot of reasons, one being your big heart, so full of love.

You have been taught to share from a young age. Sometimes, when we have been visiting you for Thanksgiving/your birthday, we have seen your parents take boxes of hot meals they have shared from our dinner table to downtown Washington DC and you have helped give them away to the homeless. You were with your Mama on Thursdays to deliver Meals on Wheels. You saw many older people who were lonely and couldn’t afford nourishing meals. You and your mama took food to them and visited them. You helped them be less lonely. You think about other peoples’ feelings. You are a generous young man. I remember when you, your parents, cousin Addison, Grandpa and me, and Shucks from South Dakota went to Puerto Rico.

You were happy to show cousin Addison the places your family loves in Old San Juan. You and Addison posed for photos at the ruins there, and flew kites as your mama did as a little girl when she visited her Grandma who still lived there. And when you and Addison came upon the man who sold ice cream from a cart on the street, you pulled out your wallet so you could treat your cousin. What a generous soul!

Through the years, we have seen you have parties with your school friends, and were happy with all the good friends you have made. You will continue to be a good friend to many people who will continue to meet and get to know. It’s part of a balanced life. Your parents have taken great pride in making sure you learned from an early age about the important things. Family. Friends. Faith.

Last Day of Safety Patrol, May, 2019

You are an accomplished world traveler! You have been many, many more places than some adults have been in your life. You and your family were in Hawaii for a couple of Christmas’, have traveled to Europe and seen good and bad parts of world history. The beauty of Rome and the horror of Auschwitz have made impressions in your young mind. You are curious about things like this, and make it a point to learn the lessons the world needs to learn about such events. You have learned about Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad and saw where many of the slaves crossed into Canada. Your experiences have been very rich, thanks to your parents. What a lucky young man!

At the Vietnam Wall, Summer, 2019. You are helping your Grandpa heal.

Your dad took this photograph at you and Grandpa at the Vietnam Wall in Washington, DC, his summer. It is a perfect reflection of the two of you, a first and third generation of males of this family, and signifies your importance in Grandpa’s heart, and mine too. You can learn about Grandpa by knowing what experiences he has had in life, just as we learn about you by going to swim classes and competitions with you. You are an incredible swimmer! It’s something I never learned because I was too scared. You have mastered something that is a real accomplishment.

One day, we hope we can all go on a trip through South Dakota, so you may learn about the family and surroundings Grandpa Dan had as a boy your age. We look forward to spending more time with you, and would love to show you Mount Rushmore, one of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen in my life. The Black Hills played a huge part in Grandpa’s life. We’d love to show it to you. Great camping, but we will probably stay at a motel. I think our camping in a tent days are over. Yours are just beginning. You have been to many National Parks in your area, which is rich in history and stories.

So Happy Birthday, Joell. We hope you have a year as incredible as you are to us, and that Grandpa gets better so we can visit again. He is feeling much better, thank you. Don’t forget how much we love you, and remember, you can text or call us, too!! Love you, Grandpa Dan and Miss Kathy.

To my regular readers, I hope you remember the $50 Visa Gift Card Giveaway drawing is December 1, 2019 at NOON. Like the post, comment on the blog, you can have two entries per day during the month of November. If you haven’t read all the blogs, catch up during the Thanksgiving Days off! Read while you’re in the Black Friday shopping lines. I’ll be cozy at home, writing. Thank you for reading, and see you tomorrow!!