Thankful Tuesday

It’s a pretty day here at the Home Office in Gretna, Nebraska. Someone tuckered the dogs out (thanks, Babe!), and I slept in until 7, so I’m feeling rested. An old high school friend just contacted me. She is coming in from Wisconsin and staying in Gretna with her sister for our 50 + 1 HS Reunion. Of COURSE I’ll pick you up on my way past your sister’s to get to I-80. Outstanding!

Friends getting together will be very important this year. I haven’t attended a reunion since the 25th one – right before I had a mobility threatening issue with my spine, spinal cord, and all that. It was before I met the Babe. It was after another of my successive bad breakups, given my history of poor decisions about male friends. Then, in 1996, it all changed. Thanks again, Babe!

If I recall correctly, our class was intact for five years. We lost one classmate to cancer early, in the 5 – 10-year span, and I believe one to a car accident. Nothing too close. 25 years later, many have succumbed to cancer, accidents, heart attacks, and other things that people pass away from. We are all in the 69 – 71 age categories. Many have chronic illnesses. Many have life altering sicknesses. We are getting old. Our group has lost some very kind people; some spouses have died, and one woman who was a great volleyball player and friend of many, nurse to hundreds of people. Some will have canes, walkers, and electric scooters. But our hearts will still be young. The key to a happy life.

I believe we will all chat with each other. I believe we will all wish each other well. I believe we will all include each other by the end of the evening. What we won’t do is still have a “cool kid” group; a “band nerd” group; and a group of people who just don’t belong anywhere. I am positive I was the last group. It may have been self inflicted, as I had no self esteem and thought a girl’s goal in life was simply to marry and have kids. If you would have told me where these last 50 + 1 years would take me, I’d consider you a liar or a tall taleteller. If I were to select my high school category at this age, looking back, I’d be a late bloomer. It explains these vast opportunities I learned to create, and the risks I’m taking now that I’ve never done before. (Thank you, Billy McGuigan. You have taught me well). I’ve become the Queen of “Why NOT?” before my very eyes. Who is that woman, looking back at me from the mirror? It’s the real me. Living my own truth. Oh the places we’ve gone. What we’ve learned!

The trials and tribulations of growing up are now in their proper place; I’m looking forward to August 6, at the Field Club in Omaha, for our 50 + 1 class reunion. I’m looking to rekindling friendships, and acquaintences, too. We’re going to have a great time. Our faces will hurt from smiling. It’ll be a good hurt. The kind we should all have at this age. Ghosts of the past are buried, we can all be genuine and honest with each other. Let’s have a great time, classmates!

I’ll see you tomorrow, and we’ll do some more studying about kidlit. My illustrator Cartney and I have a schedule to follow with our work, and August 2, after our VFW Post 2503 Car Show, I’m resurrecting my novel, “The Freeing of Katie Fitzgibbons.” The studio/office needs some serious straightening up. All things in good time!

The Fifth of July, 2019; A Look Back

Two years ago, the most terrible thing happened. It tore my heart out. But it led me to blogging every day to deal with the pain. The guilt. All the things that go with losing a pet whose time was nowhere ready.

And now? Nearly 700 blog posts later, we have over 300 followers. And that sad happening is about to become my first book. Cartney’s and my first book. I’ve seen her first drawing of Roxie, and it’s perfect. Cart, you outdid yourself already and it was just the cover! I can hardly wait to see the rest of the illustrations.

That said, I’ll just share that first post on my blog that started all the storytelling. It was a huge step, and I owe it to grief. I owe it to that naughty, inquisitive, barky, loving, crazy little white puppy. She was so sickly and tiny (less than four pounds!) when she came to live with us. Her mama was sick. Her sister Lexie was ony four pounds. And so it began. Lots of naughty puppy stories, but she loved our Gavin like nobody’s business. Maybe because they both could be naughty. Together. They were best of friends.

Read on, friends. And have a beautiful day. Read about The Little White Puppy right here. Thank you for being here with us today. Hug your pups. And your people. See you tomorrow!

A Sunday to Celebrate!

I’ve shared with you about the great day I had yesterday. If you didn’t see it, here it is. The day got even better! We got to see these guys with the Omaha Symphony. If you know me at all, you know I love these guys, and the lovely Tara Vaughn. Since it’s been awhile, let me re-introduce you. From the left, Matthew McGuigan, Tara Vaughn, Larell Ware, Ciaran McGuigan, Ryan McGuigan, Darren Pettit, Max Meyer, and Billy McGuigan. A couple guys are new, but they fit with the band like a glove. It’s like they all have McGuigan lessons before they join, yet they all are great on their own. All these musicians are multi-talented. They are all huge personalities. Ciaran is in training, taking guitar lessons from Max at the McGuigan Arts Academy in Omaha. He is indeed learning from the best.

Most of the country is open after COVID-19. Omaha has let it’s Mask Mandate expire. Yes, we’ve heard conflicting information, but the Babe and I had both vaccinations, and consider ourselves safe. I believe all these maskless marauders below had the shots, too. Tara Vaughn hasn’t performed with her boys since pre-pandemic, I believe. It was so good to see her back, and hear her strong, beautiful, resonant voice again. These guys are great alone, but now, the band is indeed back together! It became time to unleash this energy on Omaha again.

And it was epic! The sign on the door of the beautiful Holland Center said masks were suggested. We took note of that, and once inside, saw the majority of folks maskless. I’ve never been in jail to be let out of it (except in Monopoly), but it felt like getting out of jail. We were free for the first time in a very long, time.

The conductor for the Symphony had a spring in his step all evening, too. To hear the hits of the era we grew up in was so cool. They sounded so good with a live symphony to back them. One violin player had a constant smile on her face. She enjoyed it, too! The other members kept their stoic faces. Lots of toe-tapping going on, just not smiling. The music filled the heavens of downtown Omaha. I’m sure their Dad Bill McGuigan, had a front row seat from heaven. I wonder what that is like? If I get there someday, I’ll have to ask him. Remind me of that, ok?

I think I’m speaking the God’s honest truth when I tell you it was so apparant these musicians all enoyed performing with each other for the first time in a long time. Their faces were extra-jubiliant. Their execution was right on! Their knowing looks cast at each other and smiles told you you were seeing them at their best. And with these people, you can be sure of that.

We plan on seeing every show they have planned, whether in Omaha, Glenwood, or Papillion. Go to their website and get tickets for the summer series. You will never go away disappointed. If you disagree, we cannot be friends. Go see them. The sooner the better. You’ll be set free, too.

Thanks for reading. Take care out there. Enjoy the fresh air. See you tomorrow!

Aww, Babe; You Did It Again!

Happy Birthday to ME! The Babe isn’t much for words, but he always slams it out of the park with the cards he selects for me. What a thoughtful guy. We don’t do gifts, we figure we’ll just attend things we decide upon. This morning, I signed up for a Painting of the Month Club for $20 per month. Cancel at anytime. They’re the kind of paintings you might see at a Sip and Paint session. Our VFW Auxiliary friends did that several times in the past ten years, and it was a lot of fun. I have a lot of supplies, so I’ll only need some canvas. Why not? It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, and the rest of my life is going to be about those very things. I’m so blessed to be able to do them. Painting, here I come!

And back to the card. It is celebrating the “woman that you are.” How sweet. I know he doesn’t want me to get over-extended, since I tend to do that, but he also knows I’m a giver, helper, coordinator, and compassionate person. This last year of coordinating donations for Moving Veterans Forward Nebraska has been so fulfilling. The generosity of our friends and members at the VFW Post 2503 and Auxiliary is overwhelming. These men and women know they could be homeless, have addictions, and and suffer PTSD. Many have PTSD. We work hard to make a safe place for them to be. For them to help other veterans. And be involved in our community. “There But By The Grace of God Go I.”

When this wonderful man, the Babe, asked me to marry him on Christmas Eve, 1997, I told him it would be an honor to be his wife. It still is, more so every day. I’m grateful all over the place. So our gift to us this year is go see Billy McGuigan perform (frequently) this summer. We have the good seats for the concert with the Omaha Symphony. It’s going to be awesome. Yes, it was a lot of money. Last time we saw him with the Symphony, we sat in the very last row indoors at the Holland Center. The acoustics were phenomenal, and the music played very well together. It reminded me of the old days, when you’d have an orchestra recording with music, like Sinatra, TransSiberian Orchestra, Rock and Roll, the Beach Boys, and the like. Go, people. Treat yourselves to the time of your life. Kick the summer off right. And catch all his other productions as well. You will be as hooked as the good people of Omaha are.

As I continue this special day, I’m grateful for friends and family, who make being on this planet more fun than I should be having. I’ve enjoyed getting to know all my adult cousins the past ten years. When they were all little “devils” I was the oldest girl, so I had to watch them. Ugh! The Bobell cousins grew up ok. I love you all.

The Jewell cousins are fabulous people in their own right. I never baby sat them, so all was good. Their fathers all had an impish grin and played pranks, and many of them do that very thing now. The impish grin is inherited by all the boys. I love seeing it. I love you all, too.

Our five kids make a great blended family. Five kids in four different cities is tough, we could never collect them all together at the same time. We enjoy visiting them all, even if it’s just in the Omaha area. They were mostly grown when we got married. I’d highly suggest that for people marrying later in life. We would have had a very full house if we’d met when the kids were young. Love all of you and your beautiful children, too.

There are some stock photos above, some actual photos. They’re all photos of what I look forward to doing this year, along with imags of what I’ve loved most in life so far: Babies, Music, America, Grandkids, Doing over Doubting (took me awhie!), My Doctors, who saved me from becoming paralyzed, Baseball, Ice Cream, celebrating (with a cherry on top!), writing, reading, trying out what comes next. I love what I’ve been through because it’s made me who I am. And I’m eager for all the fun we’re about to have publishing my book in a few months. It will be a real trip to go to the library or book store and see OUR BOOK on the shelf. Cartney will get a kick out of it, too.

This list is not complete yet, it is still growing. I am on a mission to make the rest of my life count for something. I want to make a difference, somehow. Join me along the way. We’re going to have a fun year. Thanks for being here, and we’ll see each other tomorrow. Be Safe. Have some ice cream with me today.

Works of Art?

Eager as we are to kick an addiction, follow a Keto diet, get with an exercise routine, write a book, form new habits, change our bad habits, or change our direction in life, it’s hard work. I cannot stress that enough. It takes discipline, new habits, thought, learning to love yourself, and time, a precious commodity in today’s world to achieve it. Remember, we didn’t become an alcoholic, drug addict, overweight body, procrastinator, or an enabler overnight. Time is the hardest part. We gained weight one pound at a time. We got out of shape one Netflix binge at a time. We stop writing one hour at a time. We became self-loathing one year at a time.

If you skip one meal at a time and weigh yourself five times a day, you will not see progress. If you skip water for five days, you’ll end up dehydrated, not thinner. The body needs hydration more than food. Don’t try for a shortcut. You can create shortcuts on your Windows Desktop, not in life. Put in the work. The way to success lies there. I believe that is why we’re told to weigh only once a week.

It’s boring as heck, but consistent attention works. A diamond doesn’t form overnight. The pressure and heat turn graphite into diamonds. Again, it takes time. The conditions must be right. Same for writing, music, acting, change of any kind. At this point in my life, I get it. I’ll be 69 years old next week, on my birthday. The Babe will be 71 two days later. We will not have many more Do-Overs or Wake-Up-Calls. The whole gig of our lives could end. Anyones could, but statistically , older folks have greater odds of passing away before younger folks. Just sayin’.

Now, we’re not looking at life with doom and gloom. We know we’ve found many, many diamonds along the way. Each other. Our children. Our grandchildren. Our extended families. The Babe’s sobriety. Kindness from each other and friends. Our friends for sure. Wisdom that comes with age. Realizing what’s important in life and love. We are grateful, blessed, and thankful. We take our time. We enjoy. It’s taken us a lifetime to get here, and it’s great. Come along!

I look forward to what lies ahead. Almost finished plotting my narrative of my kid’s book. Then Cartney will work her magic. It’s going to be an exciting summer! I’m so glad you’re traveling this road with me. It’s more fun finding your way when friends join you. We’ve seen some good things, bad things, joyful things, and sad things. We’ll get there. Together. Thank you for reading! I’ll see you again tomorrow. Busy, fun weekend ahead! A wedding and a fundraiser. Blessed to celebrate and help! Billy McGuigan, thanks for such a great song to share. Google Billy for more music and tickets!

About Last Night . . .

A night the Babe and I were waiting for since early December 2020 finally happened. To hear TOGETHER, Billy McGuigan’s live performance of his COVID album released a few months ago. The music is reviewed here. The live performance? It was fabulous. Although I’d listened a hundred or more times (yes, I do that with music I love), seeing Billy McGuigan live is always a top-notch experience. Kevin Klimowski, a fan from Des Moines, and I sat near each other and and commented on how good they sound recorded and in person as well. Boys and girls, that’s the sign of a group of REAL musicians. Billy doesn’t mess around. They will never let the music die.

Although I’ve been a Billy and brothers’ fan for a long time, we are still seeing new and exciting things at any function these guys play. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Carly Frolio’s beautiful voice. She sings like an angel and accompanies Billy well. Unfortunately, we missed the Parking Lot Concerts last summer at the Omaha Community Playhouse. If Carly sang there, we missed it. Sorry! Much like her fellow band mates, she has many creative skills, including photography.

In addition to the band, something else new was students from McGuigan Arts Academy as ushers, a wealth of information, and front row fans. Our little girl usher informed us we “could take all the pictures we wanted of Billy McGuigan.” Thank you, honey. She told Kimberly Faith Hickman, “Now, I’m an usher,” before this bespectacled, braided, confident little girl bounced down the aisle, intent on mission completion.” She found our seats with the precision of a soldier on a mission. She waved us over, pointed, and said, “Enjoy the show.” Mission completed, young lady!

All of the children sat in the first row after helping introduce Billy. They all looked thrilled to death. Much like the adults who frequent his shows, they jumped to their feet and danced their hearts out. A new generation of McGuigan’s Minions. Who knew? The Arts Academy is doing great things. Some kids were backstage hands. What a great thing! Hands on learning. Lucky, lucky kids.

Billy’s son, Ciaran McGuigan keeps coming more into his own more and more as a guitar player. Max Meyer, is a lead guitar player, and Ciaran’s teacher. Max does great things with a guitar you have only heard about with the likes of Eddie Van Halen, Jimi Hendrix, and Eric Clapton. Love listening to you, Max! We even heard him singing, “Surfin’ U.S.A.” I loved the Beach Boys when I was a kid! You evoked some great memories!

Matthew McGuigan is a favorite, too. He is always consistent, steady, and a great vocal back up. He was mentioned as turning 40 yesterday, and with his second COVID vaccine, he took it all in stride. Go Matthew! This is a banner year for you, too! He and brother Ryan McGuigan stayed pretty much in the background Saturday night. It was Billy’s night. And he rocked it. The love of family really stands out with this group. They are their own family! And the fans, we complete that family. Kate Whitecotton organizes the whole lot, and it comes off without a hitch every time. She’s magical!

I keep wondering what else these guys can do that’s not been done before? A whole bunch, all the talents considered. We will be there, Billy, Ryan, and Matthew. We have heard the life story, and we’re glad you’ve used your experiences for good. Not just your good, but for ours, too. Billy started out playing Buddy Holly at the Omaha Community Playhouse. And the rest is history. He is nowhere near done. At 46, he has at least 30 more years of performing ahead of him. He already knows he can do a Sinatra-Buble-Connick, Jr., type of show. And he killed it! When you can’t jump anymore, when you may have trouble reaching for the strings on your guitar anymore, you can croon. Until then, though, feel free to share your life, thoughts and feelings with your family from Bellevue, Omaha, Gretna, Elkhorn, and the surrounding areas. You guys are home with us, and we couldn’t be prouder. You will tend the music and keep it alive as long as we need it. And you. The Best is Yet to Come!

Saturday Leaps of Faith

The Neighborhood at the Home Office in Gretna, Nebraska is teeming with activity! Homes have loads of fresh mulch or good black dirt dumped in their driveways. Yes, it is a beautiful, calm, sunny day for the first Saturday in April. The day before Easter. As kids we learned this was the day all of the followers of Jesus were on the low-down. They were gathered in groups in rooms with the lights off, windows and doors locked, wondering what they do now. They did not want to meet the same demise Jesus did. Their faith was shaken. They all had doubts, not just Thomas. It had to be the longest 24 hour period in all of their lives.

The nuns sort of told us we should be engaged in prayerful, quiet activity all day. Our mom’s all loved that. Then of course, we had to go to the Saturday evening service at 8 p.m. It lasted a very long time, and often we walked home at 10 p.m. It was safe back then! Of course, we were required to go to the Children’s Mass at 9 a.m. These were the days before Saturday services “fulfilled Sunday’s obligations.” I have to laugh, my Protestant friends say Catholics are the only ones who are concerned about things “counting,” and the world famous 15 minute Mass at St. Mary Magdalene’s Catholic Church in downtown Omaha. Ask us, we’ll tell you.

I’m glad the different religions finally realize God loves us all. Equally. Yes, equally. He doesn’t favor one over the other. Some religions are founded on mistaken ideas, and call for things far outside what God expects from each of us. Find yours and concentrate on how to have spirituality in your life. Be with people who reflect your beliefs. Be accepting, kind, tolerant, inclusive, and stand by your beliefs. It’s about integrity. One of the best things a person can have.

Two years! Wow! This is pretty cool, folks.

In other news, I didn’t realize this was my second anniversary with WordPress! How fun to have this milestone today. It took a leap of faith on my part. I didn’t blog much until that July 5, 2019, when we lost our Roxie. I had to get the distress and grief our of me. It was devastating. Someone entered our yard and left a gate open. There were still fireworks going off, she was scared, and ran into traffic on the highway, two blocks away. Her last minutes had to be full of terror. My book for kids is about her and our grandson, Gavin.

Speaking of a leap of faith; my featured header photo today is a collage of the CD’s I’m listening to today while I work. I’ve not met two of them (or you’d all know about it!), Kevin Costner & Modern West and Bruce Springsteen. I will say I do not agree with Bruce’s politics. He has done a lot of good for people through his career, he had food drives at his concert sites before we heard of them; he chronicled the demise of his hometown, closing factories, etc. He has a song on his “Magic” album called “Leap of Faith.” Give it a listen. I like it.

At any rate, the others are some local singer/songwriters who took their own leaps of faith and put themselves and their original songs out there. Billy McGuigan and Jimmy Weber are two local musicians who we enjoy a lot. They have special chemistry when they perform together, and they are both very dynamic solo or with their bands. Fine, fine musicians we’ve had the pleasure to get to know. They both never cease to amaze me with what they do. Billy has a new solo album, “Together,” it’s doing well. The Babe and I get to see him and his brothers in the band perform this great album in person next Saturday at Iowa Western Community College in Council Bluffs, Iowa. Looking forward to it!

And Jimmy Weber has a friend/road manager/sidekick, “Handsome” Jake Mayer. They are in Nashville, TN this week recording another new album of their original music. The just released one, “Black and Blue Heart,” hits so close to home if you’ve ever been alone. I have. I cannot wait to hear what those two have been up to. Jake is an amazing lyricist. One day, I hope to talk to him about his words as they relate to Jimmy’s amazing music. What those guys do with a guitar and a bunch of words (both carefully chosen), is pure magic. There they are, taking their leap of faith.

Ray Scott is someone I’ve never met, but I did just about see his show one night at Buck’s in Venice, Nebraska. Jimmy Weber opened for him, we saw Jimmy that night, but the Babe wasn’t feeling well. He had a wound vac attached to him and he just couldn’t sit up straight anymore for the evening, so we had to leave. Hopefully next time he’s up this way, we’ll be able to see him live. I’ve purchased a bunch of his CD’s and like his style. His voice is unique, and he just tells it like it is. Check the usual music outlets to listen and purchase. His leap of faith was to do things his way. And he’s a big man, I don’t think anyone questions him much.

Rick Tiger is a singer/songwriter from Louisiana. The Babe and I met him the first time we saw Jimmy Weber perform alone. Jimmy sang first, and Rick followed. We loved him. He has written many songs you’ll recognize, and any more you can relate to. That night, he sang about Coffee & Conversations, which reminded the Babe of waking up at his grandparents farm in South Dakota. Once he walked me through the property and identified where everything used to be. The barn was gone, but the memories of it weren’t. You will be reminded of something in your life if you listen to Rick long enough. And he’s the nicest man you can meet. His wife Joyce is such a kind woman. They are perfect with each other. Blessings abound in their life, and they will tell each other about it. Nice, nice people.

When you’ve spent a little time with people who are so talented, it’s inspiring. They are taking their leaps of faith. And I’m about to take mine, by publishing my first book. I’m excited beyond description. Thanks for being on this journey with me. Thanks for the examples and encouragement, guys! I appreciate it a lot.

Thanks for reading today. Tomorrow is what it’s all about. The renewal of Easter Sunday. I vow to renew habit I need to renew. I vow to exhibit behaviors to make me a better person. More patience. More understanding. More listening. And I’ll continue to love words and stories, whether they’re on the page or in a song. Good music makes me write better. What a motivator music is! What great music to be motivated by. Have a beautiful rest of the day. I’m going to the deck, where we’ll probably stay for the rest of the day. God’s been so good to us. See you tomorrow! #Grateful #Blessed

Spring-y Saturday

Today is the first day of Spring. Ah, yes, I believe we will make it now. Grandson Gavin is attending his first outdoor baseball practice today. I hope and pray we are able to attend his games this year. COVID has taken a lot from us. But, grass is greening up, allergies beginning, we know it’s Spring in Nebraska. During those spring days we can experience lots of weather changes. You can go from 60 degrees and calm to a real snow-dumping blizzard in 24 hours. Some of the bigger ones happen in April, and even in May. It never lasts very long, though. You won’t hear me complain, though. It’ll pass.

Gavin and his Dad, TJ. Two of my favorite guys! Outdoor Baseball Practice Begins TODAY!

One thing I’ve learned in my years on the planet, is things will always get better; and things could always be worse. Is it a glass half empty philosophy? No, I prefer to think it’s realistic. Just as spring always follows winter in nature, in our human lives take us from bad situations, to healing, even to gaining precious insights of all we’ve endured. New life replaces death. Growth expands a life, a soul, a mind. Gratitude and Attitude are everything.

My header photo today is a quilt I made, and the beautiful flower statue was a gift from my kids, Frankie, Nick, and Becky. It was from the times they were all still at home, the boys were working after school, and they pooled their resources and bought a series of these sculptures for me. I will treasure them forever. They pointed out to me they had human fingerprints on the petals; the Italian artist who created these was very precise. He made molds to hold the porcelain, and they bear his fingerprints. What a neat thing!

The Carpodimonte method goes back to the 1700 in Naples, Italy. They’re beautiful. I smile when I think of those kids spending their hard-earned money on me like that. They bought them from QVC, and were so proud. Good Times!

Life has so many passages for us to navigate. We are not meant to stay in one spot. Early death happens when people are too afraid to embrace the next stage of life. You cannot remain rooted in your past, it’s not a place to remain living. Memories are great, but your spirit is a living organism, it introduces every new spring to your soul. Your soul is where you discover new things and grow! Choose Springtime. Choose Creativity. Choose Life!

I love reading to little kids. I get all into the character’s voices, and sometimes the Grandkid’s look at me while I do the voices. They love it! I do too! I dream of having a book launch and be able to read to children. I’ll have get some people with toddlers and little ones. It would be so fun for me! And for them! I am thinking of having a pen name for my Kid-Lit, “Grandma Kathy.” What do you all think? I can add a page to the website for her, and one for “Jewell Publishing LLC.” Comments, please!

Many thanks to my friend, Billy McGuigan, the King of “Stuff We’ve Never Done Before.” I’m going to build my brand(s) all on one website. Just because no one’s ever done it, doesn’t mean it won’t work! Right, Billy? Your encouragement and Kate Whitecotton’s is so encouraging. I appreciate it so much! Folks, don’t forget about Billy’s new solo album, “Together.” The stories are rich. They’re real. They’re about love, moving on, uniting as a family in tough times, and all the stuff dreams are made of. They’re about living in a pandemic. The creativity soars. It’s a cure for COVID blues. Also, check out McGuigan Arts Academy. There are opportunities galore for your kids during school breaks and vacations. All COVID-safe, Socially Distanced.

Thanks for reading today. Get outside. Get some fresh air. Get moving. Shake up your routine today. Do something new. Listen to some good music along the way. Call an old friend. Call an elder in your family. Be Kind. Be Courteous. Be Thoughtful. The world will smile back at you. See you tomorrow, my friends.

Hedwig and The Angry Inch

See this! It doesn’t matter your age, your beliefs, or your taste in music, there is something for everyone here to appreciate. The Acting. The Music. The stage presence of the actors and the band. Even the pre-show where Billy McGuigan sings some old songs and a few from his new album, “Together.”

It felt good to be attending a live show again. When the Babe retired, we tried new things we’d never done before. We became members of the Omaha Community Playhouse, and saw many plays of high quality, and the annual Christmas Show “Yesterday and Today,” which is a Beatles tribute show performed by Billy and his brothers Ryan and Matthew. A very talented group of musicians. Billy has a pool of amazing musicians to choose from and uses everyone in the best way possible.

The people at the Waiting Room did an outstanding job of only selling 25% capacity for the show. We were more than socially distanced, seated at our table. We could remove our masks while seated, which was good. It was safe and gave us a sense of security with the precautions they enforced. The Waiting Room is in Benson, at 6212 Maple Street. Get there super early! Parking is hard. Doors open at 6:30 pm, Billy performs at 7 pm, show starts at 7:30 pm.

Hedwig has one heckuva voice, whether singing as herself or as himself. The Angry Inch is a rock band who backs up Hedwig, the internationally ignored superstar (in her mind). You learn of her past life, her later life, and her quest to escape East Berlin before the wall fell. It was an historic time for sure. Her desperation to leave Germany was so intense, she resorted to some drastic measures.

The quest to find your “other half” is something we all experience. Hedwig’s was of utmost importance to her. Part stand-up comedy, part rock musical, and part play, it has it all! The female lead was fantastic. What a voice! She rocked the place in fine fashion. And the best part? Evelyn Hill is a senior at Central High School. What a young talent! The possibilities that lie ahead for her!

Jesse White is incredible as Hedwig. The stories and songs tell the story how he started out as Hansel in East Berlin. He came to have a sex change operation, which was botched. No wonder he’s angry!

It was hugely entertaining for a chilly Saturday night in Nebraska. It was worth the drive and the price of admission. When it ended, we wanted more. More shows open later this spring and summer. There are post cards available at your seat to remember dates and places of other Rave On Production shows this year.

It’s going to be an exceptional year, being entertained by the genius that is Billy (always up for a challenge), Ryan (he has quite the stage presence, folks! Pay attention, you’ll see why!), and Matthew (the most excellent musical director) McGuigan, Max Meyer (one of the best lead guitarist’s you’ll ever see), Jay Hansen (Superman), and Larell Ware (Drums – my he’s good!). And I have to say, Kate Whitecotton, House Manager and CEO of Rave On Productions, is the most organized person on earth; she excels at coordinating everything for the performers. Kathleen Kersey is the Volunteer of the Year, selling merch at most of the shows. She knows her stuff, and which versions of the bands performed which version of the CD’s.

For your mental health, make a date tonight or next weekend for the remaining shows of Hedwig and the Angry Inch, at the Waiting Room Lounge. You will not be disappointed. Thanks for checking in today. We’ll see each other tomorrow. I look forward to it.

Thankful Thursday

So we did this thing. And the Nebraska Secretary of State accepted it. And my attorney is applying in the places so the IRS knows where I live, etc. I’m proud to announce I am now an official LLC.

I chose this name to honor my dad, Thomas M Jewell, Jr. He was a pressman/printer by trade, and worked for the Omaha World Herald for 37 years. He retired and died when I was 37 years old. I think he’d be pretty modest about this whole thing, but he and Mom instilled a love of books in me and my three brothers. We also had in-depth knowledge of ink, paper quality, and various newspaper techniques used through the years. Thanks, Dad! For everything!

As I’m still plotting my goals, tasks, and projects for this year, the LLC news came at just a perfect time. It’s a great motivator! The mountain of paperwork I needed to sort for our 2020 taxes is culled and tamed, so I’m ready to head into the home stretch of all that. It’s kind of toss up for figuring the new standard deduction vs. itemizing; I still itemize to see what exactly we have. Although 2020 had Quarantine; COVID-19; not getting to meet our new grandson yet; we are lucky we had few medical bills last year. For a couple 70 and 68 years old, that’s a huge win. We are thankful.

Dreams absolutely, positively, come true! Now the fun starts. The hard work. I’m ready for it. Although we’ve never done this before, I hear there’s no reason to stop. Just do it, it’ll be fun, they say. Beginning this company was a lot of the reason I dropped my formerly married name (finally); I felt it kept a connection to the family I still love. We’re in touch. They understand I still love them, and especially my kids. So it was time for a new identity. A new life. Instead of “here goes nothing,” we are saying, “here comes SOMETHING!” Thanks for being along with me on this journey. The best is yet to come.

Thanks, guys, for encouraging people to follow their dreams!

I’ll be finishing up our taxes the rest of the day. And tomorrow is an early eye doctor appointment. I won’t be able to see much after that. We’ll think of something to do. Writing and reading will probably be difficult. And I’m quietly celebrating and thanking my friends Billy McGuigan and Jimmy Weber, who unknowingly encouraged me to chase my dream. It’s meant a lot. Thanks for sharing my news. It’s going to be a blast! See you tomorrow (but it’ll be fuzzy!).