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!

#640! How Exciting!

With all the newness of a Monday morning, I am full of hope for a very productive week. Tomorrow, the Babe has a Neuro Doc visit after another CT Scan. Prayers and hope for successful healing. He is vowing no more ladders. That is huge and I’m grateful. The garbage company has their trucks out like clockwork, and they are doing a fine job. We are lucky they do such a fine job. I’m grateful for their work. Can you imagine what our towns and cities would look like if we didn’t have garbage haulers? I shudder to think.

All these things are running through my mind and I see this is blog post #640. How exciting. and I have about 320 followers? Cool. Now I need to find out how to go backwards and capture email addresses. Apparently, I’ve missed that point. I’m pretty tickled with that many followers and am learning more about key words every day. Trying to get that all in my brain, and apply it to the website we have for the VFW Post 2503, too. They benefit from my learning how to do this. I have a Twitter Account as an Author, and the Post has one also. Ditto with Instagram. Maintaining all of these is a job, and I’m looking at how to do it better.

I don’t want to give up daily blogging. I’ve had people tell me they look for it when they have morning coffee breaks. That’s fun to know, even if it’s my cousin. Baby Steps. It’s that way with everything. Writing, promoting yourself on social media, blogging, heck everything! My mind is whirring all over the place. I need to focus on making a plan for the week, and stick to it. yes. That’s what will make it a successful week, achieving all sorts of things.

Allergies are getting me all sneezy! Crazy, I stepped to the mail box, and now I can’t stop sneezing. It will pass allright. I can’t help but think about Cartney this morning. She’s on a car trip to Wyoming and is drawing as we speak. I think. What a way to use her time constructively. I think I may cry when I see her interpretation of my words into drawings. I’m excited.

So many things are coming together with this journey. It’s slow and steady some days, others the hours fly by. It’s all in the process, I suppose, as we’re trying to learn so many things that should add merit to the projects. Once I get the drawings, there will be a final edit; I will ask my niece and a FB friend in South Dakota to give me their opinions. They both teach kindergarten and I value their feedback.

I’m hoping this will all happen before the end of the summer. By September 1, it should be at the printers. And then the fun starts! I have a small bookstore to visit and see if they’re interested in selling the books. I can do a reading, Cartney could do readings, sketches. My imagination is seeing a good path of more things we’ve never done before. I think some folks call that “visioning.” Whatever word you want to use, it helps to make a stressful (exciting) time very positive, visioning only great things will happen.

Being a creator of things all my life (crafting, learning to paint, sewing clothing and home decor), I’m used to having a vision of something and having something go wrong, and I’m disappointed with the finished project. That could happen with “ROXIE! What Are You Doing?” too. I’m prepared for that, but don’t entertain the notion. Life teaches you that after a while. We will not quit, though!

For a nice break before I go to other things, the staff and I are going outside on the shady patio to plant my succulents in a cool multi-layer pot. Pictures tomorrow. It’s hard to explain. If the dogs will stay out, I plan to read a bit, and relax that way. Hoping the Babe gets home soon so he can get some of the rest he needs. Thanks for reading today, and I’ll see you again tomorrow. Be Safe out there!

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!

Wow! It’s Wednesday!

And it’s the afternoon already. It’s sped by. I was at the Post with the Babe, for him to do some work. We had lunch and came home to let the pups out. They ran a little bit, and they just want to be with us. That’s why I love dogs. They don’t care, they love unconditionally.

The Babe finally sees our primary care physician tomorrow. I’m not sure what he’ll do other than get his own notes updated. I doubt he’ll be able to drive so soon. I don’t think it’s possible to heal in ten days. We’ll see how that works tomorrow.

Today was finally the day! Cartney is now in possession of the laid out book, and she will begin her fun illustrations. I love her work. Very soon, you will have a preview of her work. I’m excited not just for her, but for me, too! It’s starting off to be a fun summer. YAY!

I find it fascinating how places like Direct TV can make promises on reduced monthly fees. They want you to call every month to have a credit applied to your account. The Customer Service people know nothing about such discounts. It has been “promised” for 12 months. We have to call and argue every month. I think they assume most people will simply give up. It’s all streaming from now on. And we’ll get an antenna for each tv now. There’s nothing worth the aggravation.

We need to go back to the Post soon, and get ready for Hamburger Night. Time with our friends is always good, I hope it cheers the Babe up some. Thanks for reading. I’ll see you tomorrow! Be Safe. Be Kind. It will make a difference.

What? #500 Words?

What’s today’s challenge? Consider where, and how to cut words after Cartney illustrates our KidLit Book. It’s a challenge. A timely e-mail came from Brooke/Journey to KidLit. She tells me the industry standard for a picture book is 500. Most/Many have over 1,000 words. As it sits now, mine is 1,617.

Cartney mentioned to me about the number of words in my current draft. I love her honesty and ability to speak up to me, and be kind while doing it. I truly felt like I was working with an equal, we’re both new to publishing a book. BTW, my illustrator is graduating from high school today. How fun! Congratulations, Cartney!

Happy Graduation Day, Cartney!

This e-mail further explains to me what I need to do as a writer. From the very beginning, I’ve known I will cut words out as illustrations will make them unnecessary. Now, I’m going to remove passive voice, making it active. Easier said than done!

To use a word our friend, Lenny Leavitt almost coined, I need to do a “word-ectomy” to my story. It might be a little painful, but the story will heal and be much better with fewer words. The idea of a picture book, after all, is to let the pictures tell the story. Lenny adds “ectomy” to “foot” to explain a pedicure. Maybe I could get some great words from him! Maybe for the novel. Not now. I don’t want kids confused.

My Challenge for this weekend, before Cartney begins illustrating.

Another hint from Brooke @ KidLit is to always show action above anything else. And each page needs to feature something different to keep a kid’s interest. I have plenty of kid books to look at for “how to do this.” I collected them like crazy for the Grandkids. They’re some of my favorites, I’ve even found some of the books I had for my kids. They’re fun to read to the Grands. And soon, I may be reading them to practice for making a video of parts of “ROXIE! What Are You Doing?” Grandma Kathy may be going “Hollywood.”

Oh dear, what have I gotten myself into?

I’m just joking. I know perfectly well what I’ve gotten myself into. It never occurred to me I’d really make this opportunity for myself. I’m going to publish my kid book! All the pieces are falling into place; at the same time, I’m learning creative ways to make myself seen and heard among the avalanche of books that are out there. How do I stand out?

I think Grandma Kathy needs to read books (any good books, not just mine!) to kids on video. It might be a substitute for when Mom or Dad are busy and cannot read to their littles. It might be a way to stand out. I think it’s worth a try. Kate Whitecotton of RAVE ON Productions, I may be asking you some questions soon!

So even after the Babe having a fall off a ten foot ladder, a small brain bleed we’re watching, and me serving as his UBER driver for the next few weeks, It’s been a very productive week. My words are all in the manuscript text boxes, I’m going to flag the ones I’m going to omit (for Cartney) and we’ll see what happens next. This is pretty exciting. Thanks for being here with me today and every day. We’ll see each other tomorrow, eary again! I love writing in the morning. It’s so much easier, my brain isn’t so cluttered. Take Care. Be Kind.

Guess What?

Sorry to be late with this again today! The weekend should be better, I believe. The Babe is very tired and has decided we’ll stay home and let him rest two day. (Finally!) I’m glad, he’s surprised this fall affected him so deeply. A brain bleed is never something to ignore. And we have to pay attention to everything unusual. So far, so good!

It’s very quiet, only 7:30 p.m. CDT but one dog and the Babe went to bed. At 5:30! He’s exhausted. I’m not a basketball fan, so I’m watching a very old colorized version of Dick Van Dyke Show. It’s amazing to take this walk down memory lane. The married couple have twin beds to sleep in. The craziness surrounding the impending birth of a baby is so foreign compared to birth plans nowdays. How far we’ve come in about 60 years.

What an innocent world we used to have. Couples hid actual information about reproduction from their children; women were treated as if they were fragile, yet they gave birth. Do you know how much pressure there is within the body while giving birth? It’s a miracle every time. So amazing.

These best thing about today is I finished typing the text for my kids book into Publisher text boxes. It needs a couple read-overs. And on Tuesday morning, bright and early, I’m sharing it in Google.doc with Cartney. June 1 (if not before) she will start her official job as illustrator for “ROXIE! What Are You Doing?” I am excited beyond belief. I think she is, too.

We continue to be grateful the worst things didn’t happen when the Babe fell off the ladder Tuesday. My life could be considerably different right now if things had been even a little different than they played out. I don’t want to let him out of my sight, yet know that’s not healthy. Logic tells me one thing, and emotions tell me something else. We’ll be logical in the end. And grateful.

Hopefully, tomorrow will be a normal day. A normal blog. A day of doing laundry, cooking, sitting on the deck reading. No hospitals. No doctors. No tests. Just rest. I think we both need it. Thank you for reading, we’ll see each other tomorrow. Be Careful!

Thursday Thoughts

After the day we had yesterday with the Babe’s fall, small brain bleed, and beginning his recovery, all I can say is how lucky he is. We could have had such a terrible outcome, and we are once again grateful. I swear, the Babe has nine thousand lives. I shudder to think which one he is on now.

I’m finishing up the narration of my kid book. Soon, it will be in the hands of the illustrator. What a week she’s having! Cartney McGuigan is graduating from high school Saturday, and setting off on a road trip. She is ready to sketch, shade, paint, and whatever else she needs to do to create the magic of our story. After she creates her magic, I will get to reduce my word count. The whole prospect is daunting. Can you imagine how it feels, to have wanted to do this all of my life, and be near realizing my dream? And Cartney is getting to do something she probably never expected right after high school. It just goes to show you, you just don’t know how partnerships will be formed. Perhaps someone will approach you when you least expect it, and . . . well, here we are. I’m getting more excited by the day.

It’s a great distraction from the sobering reality that our lives could have been changed forever yesterday. I’m readjusting our schedule to figure out how to cover all the bases, ours together. No driving for the Babe for at least a couple weeks, once he gets off the pain pills and has another CT Scan. This will be another adjustment on our road of life, and we will make it. Together. There is no other way to negotiate the vows we made nearly 23 years ago. In sickness and in health. We are with each other through thick and thin.

Sorry to be so short today as I said, we’re adjusting. Let’s see each other tomorrow, and catch up some more. Have a beautiful evening.

Fabulous Friday

Here at the Home Office of Jewell Publishing, LLC; Kathy Raabe, Author; and Grandma Kathy it’s another overcast day. Most other years by the day before my birthday, I’m excited out of my mind. Birthday’s are my favorite day of all. Better than Christmas or Fourth of July, it’s a day we usually have all to ourselves! I love celebrating everyone’s special day.

The Babe and I don’t exchange gifts (his birthday is two days after mine). We usually go out to one special dinner (often the day between), and call it good. Mr. Low-Key, the Babe is. And don’t even think of telling the folks at Texas Roadhouse it’s his birthday. Or mine. We have been so busy lately, when he left this morning, he said, “Meet me for lunch, then we’re coming home and sitting on the deck.” You don’t have to ask this girl twice. Ima be there!

As I’ve aged, I’ve come to appreciate the simple things. As kids, we were taught to look for them. We found them a lot. I remember playing with my brothers in the dirt in our back yard. We all did. As I got older, I watched the two younger ones. Good times. Shooting marbles. Roller skating (the old school skates, you wore your brown leather shoes, so there was a surface to tighten the skate to. We carried the key with us, you never knew when you’d need to tighten up). Remember, the only “tennis” shoe was Keds. Good times.

Fast forward through life, and I’m glad to still have those memories. I think all people forget somewhat, but so far, no signs of memory issues. I will thank God to my dying day if He spares me and my family that cross to bear. It is such a sad transition. We have a couple friends with the disease and you just feel helpless. For your own sake, you have to be kind. You owe your friends that. Yes, it’s hard to see. They would likely do it for you. Don’t forget them in their need. You will grow as a person.

I Get Such a Kick Out of This Stuff! I’m a Big Deal to ULINE! Hey Babe! You’ve Got Mail!

I’m pretty excited every time I get new mail for my LLC. Hey! I have an LLC! What an exciting thing to happen for a woman who will slide headfirst into her “VERY” late 60s tomorrow. Yes, I’ve to decided approach the rest of this life like Pete Rose sliding into home. Charlie Hustle was something to watch in action. It was when baseball had people who weren’t paid anything close to what they should have been. They loved the game that much.

Of course, in my mind I can do the slide-head-first-into-home-plate. I’d hate to see how badly my body would react if I actually attempted to do it. It would be ugly, I’m sure. And it would likely look much worse. But in my writer’s imagination, I can do it, jump up, and brush the dirt off. I loved the Reds in the 70’s. And especially Pete. Great times. So, that’s how this woman is approaching the rest of my life. With excitement, energy, and passion. Great things are coming, I just know it.

As you go about the rest of your day, smile. Even if you’re still mandated to wear a mask, smile anyway. Your eyes will show you’re smiling at people. I miss doing that so they see us. I love to smile at shy children. It’s hard to do that, because children are so cautious now. Stranger Danger. Yes, it’s a dangerous world. I hate that. As children, we grew up in an old neighborhood. All the neighbors were in their 50s and 60s. They mostly had grey or white hair. They were retired. Many ladies were widows. Men died young in those days, often by heart attacks. But we could trust them. While our parents were the youngest in the neighborhood, now Mom, a widow herself, is the oldest neighbor. Life marches on, doesn’t it?

Be Safe out there. Thank you for reading. Thanks for being here. Thanks for the encouragement you all give me to reach my lifelong dream. I’m already published with the blog. I’ll a published author with a real cook, the kind you can hold in your hand. The kind with legaleze printed on a page declaring this stuff is Cartney’s and mine. A first for both of us. I’m as excited for her as I am for myself. See you tomorrow! It’s a big day!

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!

Today, Tomorrow, and Forever

Photo by Anastasiya Vragova on Pexels.com

So far this morning, it’s been sunny, cloudy, partly cloudy, we’ve played catch with Goldie’s favorite rope, and she’s finally decided she’s as tired as Lexie is. Security is on call and the staff is in a meeting. My favorite time of day. Except for when I wake up with Goldie licking my face and I hear the Babe’s voice, “You getting up?” How could I not? The coffee works its magic, and here we are!

That first cup of coffee promises we’ll conquer the world today. And why not? Except for my blog, which is now a daily habit, I feel awkward when I don’t write one. The day is a blank slate after blogging. Well, usually it does. I’m still placing the Babe’s office in order. It won’t be long now. There will be room for Jewell Publishing, LLC company files. How exciting! A proper place of my own. My manuscripts can live there, too, once they’re in final drafts. My business checkbook can live there, too.

I’m planning in my imagination towards the end of the year, when I’ll have my kids’ book ready to publish, and imagine a Book Launch, with Cartney McGuigan by my side. She’s my very talented illustrator, and I’m so excited to see what magic she’ll create for the world my characters live in.

I see Cartney and me autographing our book. Heck, even if just friends and family come to the launch, we’ll have quite a crowd. A lot of work goes into creating this event. Work that is hard to explain, work that just fits into place as we both tell the story of Roxie, a naughty little puppy. She doesn’t mean to be that way. And sometime Gavin can be naughty, too. They just get each other. They have such a bond.

After launching “ROXIE! What Are You Doing?” I plan to finish the novel and plan to do a couple more children’s stories. And I have more story ideas percolating. Does anyone remember the old electric coffee pots, the percolators?

My parents had a huge drip coffee pot. It made 18 cups of coffee. 18! And they made it twice a day. I think Mom lived on coffee. Dad was a day sleeper, but then he always had a full cup. And before he went to work, he’d methodically pour the coffee, then the cream, and barely 10 grains of sugar just to take the edge off of the bitter coffee taste. He’s stick a knife down into the thermos and stir. He had his rituals for his coffee. It’s a wonderful memory.

Memories are not living in the past. Living in the past happens when we dwell on all the hurts, the slights, and the bad things. We need to pack them up and leave them. I think I’ve finally done that. Living helps us understand circumstances related to those hurts, slights, and bad things.

I’m excited to think of the future. I’m planning and thinking, but I’m not living there yet. Not until it happens. It may not even resemble my hopes and dreams, but I’ll adjust. I always have. Living this long has taught me to be resilient. I know that makes me strong. A lifetime of accepting what’s in God’s plan for me makes me strong. I have learned to not question Him. Sometimes, I close my eyes and pray. “Ok, God. Where are you taking me now?” Strangely, I feel safe. I put my Faith where the fear tries to take over. Yes, I get scared. Especially with the Babe and his health. But the Faith takes over. Faith in God, Gratitude for our life together, and Trust in our doctors and the miracles they perform. It will be all right. It always is.

These are the only two stock photos I could find for “Tomorrow.” It may be here before I know it. Time speeds by faster the older we are. I am finding more people who ask me “If Not Now, When?” I have the time. I have the money. My kids won’t starve. This is the time. The time of my life for this. It feels so good. Try doing what you’ve always wanted to. The time is NOW.

How about you? Are you ready to change your life? Just do it! Take the Art Class. Learn to write. Draw the landscape. Join the group of people with your interests. There is so much to do in the world! Take the first step. After that, the rest are easier! Tell me what you’d love to do.

Thank you for reading today. We’re off to have a beautiful day. I hope you do, too. Grab life by the horns and enjoy the ride! I’ll see you again tomorrow. Be Safe, Kind, Generous, and Aware of life around you. Make it a better world. We can all use one.