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!

#400 Published!

Yay!! So happy to reach another milestone! This one is a big one, too. I hope there are at least 4K more, thanks for being on my journey with me.

Listening to my new Bon Jovi CD about 2020 is a great way to start the day. It seems I’ve been making some typing errors this morning, it seems I’m typing DC instead of CD and a great day to start the way. Haha. I think I haven’t completely awakened yet. The Babe is home today and is playing with the dogs outside. They love when he’s home. It’s rare he’s home all day on Tuesday.

I watched quite a bit of the videos on Hashtag Summit yesterday. Searching for hashtags applying to my niche is what I need to do next. Where did the word niche come from? Google tells me it’s a one-stop shop for college searchers. I’m guessing that’s not it. I suppose a place, employment, status or activity a person is most suited for is the definition I’ll accept, along with a specialized market, an ecological habitat, not so much.

One thing I’ve noticed in writing is there are so many possibilities for words compared to even twenty years ago. They are invented all over the place, many in social media and in social groups. It’s a little hard to keep up with, but having grandkids helps keep you in the loop. Kids, too.

Today’s topic on my week long training is TIK TOK. I’m pretty unsure about it. I picture that to be for my grandkids, not me or my fellow authors. I’ll let you know on that one. I’m trying to stay open minded, so we’ll see.

The Bon Jovi album 2020 is pretty inclusive of this year. It has songs that reflect on brutality by the police, the camaraderie of soldiers, and stepping up to help. All part of the crazy puzzle that is 2020. I like when songwriters can hit is just right. They’re doing their jobs. Springsteen did that in my younger days – the factories closing during a bad economy, with jobs leaving. Textile mills, steel mills, autoworkers, they all left dead towns in their wake. It was so very sad. He did it again after 9/11. He told the story of the day America was attacked, and did it with eloquence. No politics in any of it. I loved knowing the feelings are finally identified, the rawness of real life (much to our horror), and the after shocks were real and they were talked about. The losses were felt nationwide. We united. I hope we do that again. If not, we’re probably in trouble.

Later today, we’re having a meeting at the post about communication and advertising of events. Communication is important in any organization, and the advertisement of events are crucial to getting word out for attendees and bring in the funds to help where it’s needed. Luckily, in being their Webmaster, FB, & Instagram/Twitter poster, I can use the training I’m watching for them as well. It helps us to know what will draw in a younger crowd, and helping the organization help the younger Veterans as well.

I’m going to write a draft of Chapter 2 later today, and sent it to Sam prior to our meeting Thursday. She requested I try it if I have time, and I’ll make time for it. I believe it’s becoming easier to figure out what will tell the story in the best way way possible. It’ll be good to see if I can stick with my outline. You know how those crazy writers are!

It’s hard to believe, this is blog number 400. That’s an accomplishment. I’m going to think about that as well, for awhile. I hope you have a beautiful day, working on whatever you’re doing. I appreciate your time today, and hope to see you again tomorrow. Take Care. Be Safe. Be Kind.

Imagination vs. Electronics

There have been many discussions on imagination lately, asking if all the electronics kids have are decreasing the ability of our kids to play and develop their skills while imagining. I loved how we imagined as kids.

The first recollection I have of imagination play was with my older brother, Tom. He is my Irish twin, he is exactly eleven months and four days older than I am. He was born in June, 1951, while Dad was in Korea. While I was reading my dad’s equivalent to a DD-214 (Military discharge papers), I discovered he was separated from the Army in August of 1951. Brother Tom was three months old? Well, if you do the math, I was born sometime eight months later, plus a few days. That makes me chuckle.

Tom was my best friend for a long, long time. We played on Saturday mornings, using bed pillows to make imaginary boxes, complete with a top, and jump out of them when Mom came into our room. She always acted surprised. Mom’s are great at that, aren’t they?

We had the coolest linoleum in our room. The room had all wood floors, and we had an area piece of linoleum, and it had squares divided with different sayings, game boards, and even a checkerboard. It was much like an area rug. We spend hours playing in the room, using our imagination for a lot of games of pretend.

When we were a little older, I played with Peggy and Karen, neighbors. When we were older, we rode bikes together. Before that, we did what a lot of kids did, reenact TV shows. When my brother played Army with the neighbor kids, we played together, and I was the nurse. A young Hot Lips Houlihan, as it was (MASH had not come out yet. There were a lot of Army themed shows, though).

For Christmas, I received a nurses cloak, bag with doctor/nurse stuff, and some sort of hat. When I put that cape on, I was not me anymore. Those were some good times.

The other great times were playing with Peggy and Karen, we played “Bonanza.” I was madly in love with Little Joe, so I always called him my boyfriend. Those were such innocent times, really fun. Life had little concern for us then other than who would be our fictional boyfriend.

When I was probably sixth through eighth grades, a friend and I used to write plays that we pretended into live action. They revolved around our fictitious lives as the girlfriends of our favorite rock and roll stars. It was probably pretty juvenile, but we wrote them and practiced them just like scripts, complete with music, and it was even more fun. That friend sent me a photo a while back of this very sweatshirt. Karen Smolinski, I loved it! Thanks for thinking of me! I’ll be wearing it soon if it doesn’t warm up a lot!

My New Writing Hoodie!

So here is one of the items the Babe brought home from the store. He knows us so well! It’s a great day for ice cream by the fire later. What a guy. I’m so lucky.

Here we are at the end of another blogpost for today. Thank you for joining me, I hope you stop back again tomorrow. Hopefully, I’ll have more done on my character’s origin stories. Been way too busy again this week.

And, by the way! You can also connect with me on Facebook, Kathy Raabe, Author, On Instagram @authorkathyr, and on Instagram @Author_KRaabe. Please ask your friends to give us some likes and follows. Thanks!

Be Safe, Kind, Patient, and Thoughtful today and every day. We’re all kind of struggling at one time or another. This will all be worth it. See you tomorrow!

Super Bowl Sunday

STOP!! This has nothing do to with the football game later today, except to say I’ll be watching later. I’ve become a fan of Patrick Mahomes, and admire this very young man for how he is handling the intense spotlight. He comes from good stock, as his father was a professional baseball for the Minnesota Twins. It’s a great story. Hard, hard work, dedication, confidence, humility, generosity towards others, it’s all there. This is a story like many others of us who work day after day. Month after month. Year after year. Some of it is very hard and others never see it. As we build our foundations concrete block by concrete block, others resort to the poured walls method we see in construction now. It’s a quick way to get the job done, with fewer materials and less (much less) labor costs. Many block and brick layers are no longer in business, but the trade misses them. Just like many trades today. Hurting for skilled, dedicated workers, who are not afraid of hard work, and who will go the extra mile to do the job right. I have always been a huge fan of men (and now women) who can work with their hands. We need them all desperately.

Part of what we need is the mindset that comes with those professions. Not afraid to get dirty. They are really artists when you get down to it. A framer can eyeball things and often come up with the right measurement and right angle to cut the wood. Just to be safe, they measure and cut. Yes, mistakes are sometimes made, but not like people who have no idea what to do or how to do it. It’s that way when trying to learn new skills. Whether it be carpentry, block and brick wall building, quilting, writing, sewing garments, or blogging. Practice is needed. Sometimes years of practice. And the better materials you can afford, the better your outcome. But you can still do the job if you have budget concerns.

My family is a family of people who learned how to do many things by building and creating. My dad owned a full service gas station and garage after WWII. He sold it before he went to Korea. He could always listen to an older engine or drive the car and tell you what could be wrong with it. He was skilled that way. He could work with electricity in the house, (plumbing, not so much), building walls, (finishing and refinishing woodwork, he could do it all. My brothers have followed suit. My mother sewed a lot of our clothes. She did flower arranging about twenty years ago, when she was a youngster of 70. My older brother was good with cars and due to his small stature, ran many of the first computer cables in the old Omaha World Herald building in the 1980s when the computer age was beginning. He is good at the guts and workings of some electronic things. A younger brother worked as a machinist, a draftsman, and now works for that gutter guard company. The youngest brother works for CAT, or whatever they’re calling themselves these days. He is a mechanic, and is very good. His people skills make him perfect for the customer service he provides. They’re all good guys. I’m a lucky sister, indeed.

Then you get to me. Growing up, I learned embroidery, as did many young girls in my time. I learned to sew in high school, and even sewed wool suits for my career in computers (coding, application development, etc.) because I was a single mom with three kids. It’s how I could afford to dress for the next job I wanted. I was glad some of those homemaking skills were so handy. Now, the kids are raised, two grandkids need rides or watching weekly, and two live too far to participate daily in their lives. I always thought I’d have a constant influx like my grandmothers did. Nope, didn’t happen. Now what? Learn new stuff. Learn how to reinvent yourself.

I was delighted earlier today to see a Facebook Post that depicted a 98 year old woman in London who had her opening art show. Yes, at 98! Ahem! That phrase across my face at the top of this blog?

I’m not too old, and it’s not too late!

Click link for article about the 98 year old artist.

So commences the I Art Daily challenge from my friends at I Create Daily. Yesterday, I prepped fabrics for the Snowball Quilt I’m making. I’m allowing one day a week to sew this beauty. I only want to finish by next winter, so no hurry. And I dug my milk crate full of art supplies out of the closet in my studio. Going to jump in today, did a little planning yesterday.

Ah, the possibilities!

Sometimes in planning, we need to look back at last month just to see where we are. I’m further along than I ever dreamed I would be. One goal in 90 days was to learn more about Social Media promotion of my blog, establish myself as an author, and gain a following. Interesting enough, the social media part was the part that ran out in front, thanks to the Nebraska Writers Guild Social Media training. If you’d like, join the Guild, and you’ll have access to this, too. You can find them at Nebraska Writers Guild. Does my heart good that even while I was feeling as if I was behind again, I really wasn’t.

And more possibilities!

Yesterday, I mentioned my friend Shannon Schofield, a newly published author from an I Create Daily writing group we both belong to. Here’s a link to her gritty tale of her life, bad choices, and her redemption. I applaud her for telling her tale. I have not read it, but as soon as I can purchase it in paperback, I will. Here is that, too.

And, here’s a link to my author Facebook Page. I’d love to have you follow me there as well. WordPress automatically posts there everyday to let you know the blog is up. I hand post to my personal FB page as well, but sometimes I get busy and forget. All new stuff. All good stuff. All stuff that will get this last third of my life going to be the best of the whole thing. I’m planning on living another 30 years, at least. How about you? Thanks for reading today, I got a little talkative. Just ask the Babe. I do that sometimes. See you tomorrow, I’ll be here. Hope you are, too.

Magnificent Mondays

Lots of great things are on the horizon for me and other Nebraska Writers Guild members. Last week, they announced we will again have our Spring Conference in Omaha, and it’s in April. I am so looking forward to meeting up with some folks I met at the Fall Conference and learn more about the craft I am learning now.

The NWG announced on their Social Media Page some training for Pinterest. I listed Pinterest and other Social Media platforms as what I would like to add to my presence. I’m excited the Guild is ahead of me and wants to teach me at the same time. How fortunate I am to be here at this moment. For those who believe, I call it a God moment. For those that don’t, I suppose you’d call it Karma. Either way, I’m delighted. It just further convinces me this is time to be writing. I’ve waited a lifetime for the “right time.” So grateful.

Here I sit, with two children’s books written, one family book waiting for my co-author to offer their contribution, and a novel ready to be re-written. A year ago I wouldn’t have ever thought all of this would happen. It is. I have discovered the more professionally I approach the tasks of the day, the better the outcome. Instead of being in my cozy studio/office, I am at our beautiful marble-topped table in the kitchen. It’s a beautiful view out the window. See for yourself! This view in any season never disappoints me. In the spring it is teeming with life. In the summer, the birds are vocal. In the fall, the colors are pretty but not very varied. Still, it’s lovely to see.

The Woodlands provides a beautiful backdrop for working on this writing.

With the Babe out on VFW errands this morning, I can hardly believe the dogs both laid down on the couch for naps. I will let those sleeping dogs lie, believe me! They continue to surprise us with their own shenanigans and hijinks only our four-legged friends can. After we lost our two dogs over six years ago, (they were old and worn out), we hesitated to adopt any more pups. We did because we both felt if something happens to one of us we would want a pet for company. Something to get you out of bed in the morning. Here we are, six years and three dogs later.

Losing one of our dogs led me to write my first blog, back on July 5, 2019. You may read it here if you would like:

https://kathyraabe.com/2019/07/05/the-little-white-puppy/

It delighted me this morning when I saw this:

Two Hundred and One Likes! Thank you!

I am so happy you like what I write! And I know it’s not my mom, she has no computer and likes nothing! Seriously, she likes nothing to do with one. I have to laugh. I drive her to the bank; she refuses to use a drive through or an ATM. To get cash, she walks inside, waits in line, writes a check for CASH, and comes back out to the car. She claims it’s the only way to do proper banking. I’m amazed sometimes. But then I shouldn’t laugh. As the meme goes: she taught me to use a spoon.