A Tale of Two Birthday’s

As I mentioned yesterday, today is Mom’s birthday. For 91, she’s doing great. Of course, the baby of the family (Timmy!) presented her with flowers last night so she could enjoy them all day. I kid a lot about how she really likes him best (it’s true), we now use that to our advantage. If she needs to be told something, he’s the one who does it. She listens to him. HAHA! All in good fun. Tim’s a good man, we just have to give him a bad time. Mom loves us all, each in a different way.

Mom and brother Tim (her favorite!)

I recall the story Grandma told about the day Mom was born. Grandpa and Grandma were married for six long years before they had Mom. On a 105 degree day, August 25, 1929, Rosemary entered this world. She was born at home, and Grandma said, “Once I got my hands on that baby, I forgot about how hot it was.” I believe her. Can you imagine giving birth at home in 105 degree heat? I can’t. Not at all. Grandma, my hat’s off to you. What a trooper! The Babe and I are taking lunch to her today, and will visit for a bit before we pick up Addison from school.

The other birthday I have a story about today is about our cousin, Rich. I believe he would be 63 years old today. Rich passed away earlier this year. He had cancer, and was in Grand Island, under the care of the VA. Like all of us, he had his problems. We all do. But I do remember him today. He was always so happy his birthday was the same day as Aunt Rosie’s. As kids, we couldn’t believe it, we didn’t hear much of two people in the same family being born on the same day, although many years apart.

As the oldest girl in the family, I babysat nearly all my cousins. Not so much the Conrad family, but the Wheeler’s and Burbank’s, yes. Uncle Mickey and Aunt Judy went out every Saturday night. Mom decided I would babysit, (I had no choice in the matter, ever), so either my uncle or aunt would pick me up. I ended up spending the night, it was late), after Creature Feature, by the time they got home. I’d sleep on the couch, then we’d all go to Mass at St. Agnes, where the kids went to school. Simple times for sure.

I earned a whopping fifty cents an hour at all my babysitting gigs back then. $3.00 for six hours. Sometimes the three kids (Rich, Mark, and Jolene) would be good, sometimes they were not. I’d feed them, clean up the kitchen, we’d make popcorn and watch TV. Rich was always building stuff, even at about 8 or 9 years old. He sorta had a temper, and often, he’d break his masterpiece apart because something wasn’t right. Bed time! I felt bad for him, and tried to cheer him up.

Fast forward a bunch of years, after he graduated from Creighton Prep, he entered the Marines. I was married and had my second son on November 7, 1975. Rich was home on leave, and came to see me. He wore his uniform, and I was so happy to see him, all grown up. It was one of the nice things he did for people. He continued his training, and became a guard at Camp David. He had to have a good record to qualify for that. I don’t remember when he crom hisame home to work for his dad, but he settled in back in Omaha. In later years, he became one heck of a carpenter. Maybe he inherited it from his biological dad who was also one heck of a carpenter. Gifted.

Fast forward to about 1982. He installed carpeting in my bedroom. He refused to be paid for it, and even went to Christmas Eve Mass with me and my three kids. I divorced in 1982, and Frankie was in the procession as an altar boy, Nick was 7 and Becky was 3. He offered to help me with the kids, in case they fell asleep. What a very kind thing to do. I’ve always remembered him that way. Offering help. He later married, had kids, and lived life. We lost touch until the wonders of Facebook reunited everyone.

I knew he was ill. So sad to see a young person suffer and die early. Mom is the only one of that generation left in her family. All her sisters are gone, and one uncle lives in Valentine, but we never see him. It’s an exception to lose a cousin before the previous generation is gone. Something just isn’t right about that. He cared for his mom before she passed a few years ago. Wow. Sobering. In September, other cousins, his children, grandchildren, and I will gather at the Omaha National Cemetery to tell him goodbye. Rich, tell Grandma, Grandpa, and all our aunts and uncles we miss them. And my dad. Especially my dad. Thank you!

Rich, on behalf of your extended family, we love you. We are glad you’re safe from all this world stuff. And we hope your first birthday in heaven is the best. Save a few spots for all of us. Whenever it’s our time. Then, heaven will see celebrations like never before, with the four fabulous Bobell girls and all their families. What a great thought!

Richard Wheeler, Sr.

Have a blessed day, everyone. Remember. Call you family. Tell them you love them. There’s never enough time. Be safe.

Thankful Thursday

This morning started out at zero dark thirty. 4:30 a.m., to be exact. We have a guy as we speak (at 7:16 a.m.) upstairs tearing off the old stone on the fireplace. It will be nice when he is finished. I get to spend the day in the lower level of the home office in Gretna, Nebraska with Lexie. Goldie is going (alone) to the groomers. Hope she’s good, she’s a handful.

The Babe is very sore, the doctor x-rayed his ribs. Nothing appears broken, but it will probably take a long time to resolve itself. Chostochondral separation is not fun, boys and girls. It’s a separation of the cartilage from the ribs. All they can do is give you pain pills and feel sorry for you.

What a blessed life we have. Two areas of gratitude already this morning. God is so good to us. We witnessed a beautiful time at the VFW Post 2503 last night. Our friend, Emma, came in with her birthday cake. If you recall, the first case of COVID-19 in Nebraska was a lady who was at our Hamburger Night back in March, before St. Patrick’s Day. It was our Emma. Her father was Case #2.

She burst through the door, and started to wave at those of us who applauded when she returned for the first time after her horrible illness. It is a true miracle she is still alive. After greeting her favorite friends last night, complete with a new hair-do, Emma, her friends, and family, celebrated Emma’s 37th birthday. God is so good. We have a renewed hope in the midst of masks and mania. We love you Emma. You make our hearts happy. Life can be so good. We just have to be open to seeing it around us.

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Today, for the most part, will be spent between the family room and the patio. It’s at ground level with the beautiful wetlands behind our home. We will have a beautiful new “face” on the fireplace, which will be fun. The next step in the great COVID remodel of 2020 will be new flooring upstairs, both bathrooms, kitchen, and entry. LVT (Laminated Vinyl Tile) will be the material, and it will be great with the dogs.

Photo by Emre Can on Pexels.com

This beautiful library is one dreams are made of. Yes, it’s “old.” Yes, it’s “cluttered.” Marie Kondo would NOT approve. The furniture would work only if the chairs are comfy. I have to have a comfy chair these days to read in. I would also allow the dogs only if they’re “dog” (so sorry, I had to!) tired. Otherwise, I barely get a paragraph started before they begin their, “I want out, I want in, I want out, I want in, I want out,” dance. I re-read the same paragraph for what seems like days.

But yes, I’d like a library room. Right now, I’ll settle for a couple nice bookcases. Then I can meet my books again and decide which ones to keep, and which ones to donate. I’m hoping the local library or high school could accept some. My quilting books could help out anyone from a home ec student (do they still teach sewing?) to an young lady in the library. Hope to find them a home somehow.

In writing my book, it’s amazing the number of words we used in the 1970s that aren’t used much if at all in 2020. The examples I found are “peignoir” and “negligee.” A Peignoir is a light dressing gown or negligee. A negligee “is a loose women’s dressing gown, especially when lacy or revealing.” My only questions would be;

  1. Do they mean “loose women’s” or do they mean “loose, women’s dressing gown?”
  2. They’re so beautiful, why don’t we use them anymore? The world lives in t-shirts and flannel pj’s. It’s really kind of sad.

Research, my dears, is what we need to do. It’s a lot to remember things about the decade. These things are true, things women could not do in the 1970s. Believe it or not, these things were the law.

Women could not have credit in their own name.Women could not be guaranteed they would not be fired for being pregnant.

Women could not sit on a jury. It took until 1973 for all 50 states to allow women to be on juries.

Women could not fight on the front lines in the military. They could only serve as a nurse or support staff. The ban was lifted in 2013.

Women could not get an Ivy League Education.

Women could not take legal action for sexual harassment. It took until 1977 for a court to recognize office sexual harassment.

Women could not decide to decline having sex with their husband until 1993.

Women could not obtain health insurance at the same rate as a male until 2010. It is a belief in the industry and government women “don’t mind paying more.”

Women had no access to birth control pills until the late 1960s, and then only in extreme situations. The pill was considered the same thing as abortion. Some religious sects still ban anything but “natural family planning.”

Sadly, in many states, the age of consent was 10 or 12 in most states. Delaware had a different age, which was 7. Those poor little girls! No date was given when the age of consent was raised.

I am amazed at all nine statements above that women could not do. Even though I lived this, it’s not something I thought of growing up. I came late to the equal rights party. I firmly believe in it now. And with rights come responsibilities, just like any rights we fight for. We need to address both sides of that coin as well.

I’m grateful for my freedoms, the later in life interest in them, the awareness that is required for them. I’m grateful for you, my readers, and the time you take to read my blog. Instill the love of reading into your young people, and they will be able to do anything.

Stay Safe. Mask Up. Wash Up. Look Up.

Thinking About Thursday

This Plant Needs Prayers!

Our beautiful pure-bred hunting dog must be a vegetarian or something. She mangled about four plants this week. I suppose it’s my fault for trusting her too much. She’s a puppy, still. And now, she’s sleeping peacefully on the floor by me while I write and it rains outside. All is right with the world.

She’s Sleeping Near the Bag of Coloring Supplies.

It started out a beautiful day, right now, the clouds are rolling in. It’s still a beautiful day and when the rain comes in, I’ll be grateful to not have to water. Even the plant Goldie tried to eat. Well, I guess she DID eat it.

I am so happy to have these two dogs for companionship. They are great company and comfort, even if they just nap in the room I occupy at any given moment. They are powerful creatures. They sense everything about us. Earlier this week, Lexie didn’t like Goldie tugging at a toy Gavin was going to throw for fetch. Lexie walked over in between them and gave a low, throaty growl, ever so quietly. Goldie let go. Gavin threw the toy, Goldie fetched, Lexie walked away and laid down again. She watches her people, and I love that about her.

I had a great conversation with my book coach Sam this morning. We have developed a plan for July and August. I’m taking a slightly different path in as much as I’m writing a different story over these two months, and will check in regularly to discuss the progress or lack thereof. If you’d like to read about Sam, here is a link to her website. You’ll hear a lot more about Sam and our work later in the summer.

Today is a day filled with significant birthdays! In addition to being Sir Paul McCartney’s birthday, it’s my older brother’s birthday and Dan’s younger sister’s birthday. Tom Jewell and Linda Ulmer, Happy Birthdays! Hope you both have a great day. Don’t need to wish Sir Paul one, after all, he’s Paul McCartney!

It seems the food industry is rebranding several products we have used for decades and probably not realized their packaging was racist. Aunt Jemima is having a makeover. I suppose it must be done. For years, I haven’t given it a thought using these products. I thought the updating done last was just like the Betty Crocker image on packaging, cook books, and other items. Were women offended by an old fashioned representation on the cook books? I don’t remember.

Uncle Ben and the cook on Cream of Wheat simply told me they were pictures on a package. No different than any other picture. And now, things will change. Will it change the violence in the streets? Most likely not. But those offensive photos will no longer be staring out from shelves in the stores. So be it.

Sometimes I can’t help but think there needs to come a point where we stop being offended. Where we stop pointing fingers and placing blame, and sit down and formulate a plan to just stop all of this. Both sides. Just stop it! Start respecting each other, just because God created all of us. Then work on being better humans. As you work together, and have frank discussions, you will grow in respect of each other. And yourselves. Do something that’s never been done. Admit there is fault on both sides. Quit being the stereotypes we all hate. The bad cop. The bad punk. The gangster. The professional rioter. Talk to each other. Talk with each other. Listen to each other. Listen to hear. Hear and act. Act in a rational manner. Make the change you want for everyone. Teach your children how to respect and behave, not show attitude and bad behavior.

We have plans to watch Gavin play ball over the weekend. Being a tournament, there are quite a few games to get in. And of course, the forecast is calling for a whole bunch of rain. It wouldn’t be a ball tournament without it!

I also have a lot of writing things to accomplish in the next three weeks. It will be a great way to spend time, and a great way to move forward with my projects. A plan and a partner work well together. I’m looking forward to it.

Thank you for reading today. I appreciate your time. It rained quite nicely here, and now appears to be dreary for the rest of the day. Perhaps dreary and rain is what my Goldie – relocated plants needs to come back to life. I’ll see you tomorrow! Stay safe. Wash your mask before you wear it again! Wash your hands. Be a good example. Teach your children well.

Saturday, Happy Saturday

Today is my little brother’s birthday. Happy Birthday, Steve! Hope you have a nice day and get to do something fun. As you’re in your 60s now, hoping you’re able to start looking at retiring. Yes, health coverage is expensive. And you’re not getting any younger, either. Just hope you have good years ahead of you.

When Steve was born, I received my first store-bought birthday cake. Our dad’s cousin Joann bought it. It was a bundt cake and had a doll in the center to look like a girl in a dress. I don’t remember what the flavor was or what the color was, but I remember thinking she was beautiful. Mom was very practical, cutting the first servings out of the back of the “dress” and keep the front looking perfect. I felt so special! I was six years old at the time. Just finishing kindergarten. The world was my oyster!

Another cloudy day today. It is supposed to be rainy today. Still no visit to the nursery, but we are going to visit the grandkids later today. The Babe saw them yesterday, and he said Gavin has really gotten tall. He’s going to be eight in June, and it amazes me how fast they grow up. He’s got some neighborhood friends now, and is riding bikes with them much of the day, when he’s not doing school work. His dad is working from home, so he’s got the best supervisor there is. I love how these Dad’s express and show their love for their kids. When we were kids, men were pretty reserved about emotions, especially about kids. I’m glad they are able to express themselves now.

How will you make today beautiful?

You never know for sure if someone really did write the quotes you see for Facebook memes. For instance, did Mark Twain really say the one above? If not, he should have. I started to research who may have said it, but got hijacked into mindlessly searching other things, and I ended up distracted. So it’s back to work. The most beautiful day of our life? I’m going to work some more on my grandson Cody’s little wall hanging of a hedgehog family. It’s so cute and it’s tough on the eyes for sure. Very tiny holes to do counted cross stitch. This is definitely a work of love. I’m imagining Cody while I work on it. I’m hoping he sleeps beneath it many, many times during his little life. I did buy a pattern for a hedgehog quilt too. That will be fun, too.

The Babe rolled out some sod yesterday, around the area he poured a new landing at the bottom of the stairs off the deck. She was a pretty naughty puppy this morning and tugged at the corner of the sod. She picked up the whole piece and pranced around the yard with it. It looked hilarious. I was not amused because even though we got it for free, it’s a bad habit for the pup to cultivate. We gave her a stern look, a talking to, and I hope she leaves the stuff alone now. We’ll see.

Thank you for reading today, I appreciate your support. I’ll see you again tomorrow, you know I’ll be here! Stay safe. Keep your distance. Make today a beautiful day!

Happy Birthday, Addison!

Today, thirteen years ago, the Babe and I became Grandparents. What a life altering experience! It’s been quite a ride, and I pray the next thirteen years is as memorable and filled with love. The day Addison was born, we made a trip up to Sioux Falls to attend a wedding shower. I was helping throw the shower for Dan’s niece, Michelle. We knew Tracy was experiencing something, but didn’t think anything would come of it. We arrived, set the tables up, and had to turn around and go home. We hoped to make it back in time, and figured we would. It was about three and a half hours to get there. Nothing was happening yet, she was in the L&D room, her mom Sandy and Aunt Sharon were there, along with Grandpa Randy and Grandma Peggy.

It so happened February 10 was also Grandma Sandy’s birthday. How fun to become a Grandma on your birthday! Sandy passed away ten years ago from lung cancer, but she enjoyed her grandkids so much in the short time she lived after they were born. Sandy and I became good friends, and talked a lot about her kids growing up. The Babe and I married when our kids were all adults, so I didn’t experience them growing up. Together we have five kids, and now four Grandkids.

It was a beautiful thing to hear Sandy and Dan talk about when they were expecting Blake all those years ago in Sioux Falls. They talked about how broke they were (we all were, back in the day), and the cradle the Babe made. He made two more, one for each of his grandkids. It was truly a labor of love. They were one couple who could get past the divorce stuff and be friends. I’m sure they took the long way around to get there, but it was a wonderful thing to see. We would all be very lucky to be in that mindset for our kids of divorce.

I waited until everyone else held Addison, and the room was packed with people. Grandma Sandy brought her over to me, and said, “You haven’t had your turn, yet.” She placed the little pink baby in my arms. The tears came for both of us, and it was a beautiful moment. I think of Sandy often when the kids do something funny or even naughty, and how we talked so much. And that moment I first held our girl.

“Being a teenager means you’re not a little kid anymore”- Addison, on turning thirteen.

Sandy was still working when Addison was born, and I was not. Luckily, I got to watch her when the sitter had something else to do, or later when she couldn’t go to daycare due to the sniffles. I had so much fun with her. I think we have a special bond, and it would be there even with all the other grandmas Addison has. Her family extends as far as she can see, and it’s awesome. When I made them all Christmas stockings, she asked if we could make one for her daddy’s sister’s baby. We did. She is generous, happy, knows her own mind, expresses herself in times of trouble, and isn’t afraid to tell the teacher(s) if someone is treating her or someone else badly. She just gets it. She’s always “in” to go for ice cream, too.

We have watched countless dance recitals, classes, demonstrations, and competitions. This girl loves to be on stage dancing a solo. It amazes us a kid can learn to do that. We didn’t have experience speaking in front of people until we became adults. Glad they teach kids that now. So when they’re not kids anymore, they’ll be comfortable dancing, giving a speech, directing their workforce, etc. Addison has a heart of gold, and I pray she always looks at life with the joy she does. She loves her family so much, and her cousins in Maryland and Minnesota.

Thanks for reading today. It’s my pleasure to see you here, where I’ll be tomorrow. Hope you are, too. Now, it’s back to the book rewrite. Have a blessed day.

Wonderful Wednesday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And So It Begins . . .

This is officially a new year for us to spend however we may. We have an advantage this year, as there will be an extra day to give us 366 do-overs. What will you do with these 366 chances? The mind may be a little boggled with all this freedom to choose, with so many possibilities.

I belong to a group online called “I Create Daily.” I’ve been a member for about a year. It is a group of people who are creative in many different ways, some artists, some writers, some fiber artists, some photographers, who are united in finding more ways to push our creative selves to do all we can do. This takes a different mindset than just wandering through our lives, creating a little here, and a little there. We are reexamining how we spend our time, how we think, and how we can create better than we believe we can. LeAura Alderson and Devani Alderson are the leaders who ask the tough questions and encourage our answers. It helped me write the first draft of my novel last year. I wrote during a thirty day challenge, and learned new ways to encourage the words out of me.

Because of the group, I looked for any writing groups I could find. I found the Nebraska Writers Guild, and joined. There were two conferences I attended last year. The first one, I was surrounded by romance writers (I’m a fiction girl, or children’s books) and terminology I couldn’t decipher. It was a little tough to remain optimistic. I was also older than many people, and probably the same age as others. The second one, I was fortunate enough to meet a lot of women of all ages that clicked with me, and several I’ve kept in touch with. It is wonderful. We are learning about each other and encouraging each other to write, to tell our stories, and to keep telling them. I’m really looking forward to spending more time with these smart, dedicated women, all of us learning about ourselves and what we are capable of.

The Babe and I spent a little time at the VFW this afternoon. I volunteer to help him in the office, so I updated the spreadsheets they use for inventories and accounting, to prepare them for another month of keeping track of all the parts of the business side of the volunteer organization. It’s a good way to use some of my abilities to help the veterans out. I enjoy it a lot.

Yesterday, I mentioned it is my Dad’s birthday today. It dawned on me this afternoon, I made a mistake reporting his age. I have corrected it in the blog, and am here to announce I made the mistake, and fixed it, and am continuing on. It’s my first humility lesson, and I’m listening. Instead of 95, he would be 96 today. I loved his birthday. Since it was a big holiday, the family actually came to our home and celebrated New Year’s as well as his birthday. It was a fun day. At that time, all the bowl games were played New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. Some folks grazed at the buffet, the men had adult beverages in front of the TV, and the women sat at the dining room table with their wine or cocktails and talked. I usually had to find the kids when they escaped the room. Most of them played either in my little brothers’ bedroom or in the rec room in the basement. It was a great way to start the year.

Dad died in 1988, three weeks before his 65th birthday. What a shame, he had just retired. We miss him, and I really wish he could have met the Babe. They would have gotten along famously. So plan your goals. Set them out in front of you, and think of how you will execute them. Join the FaceBook group I mentioned if you’d like. The people are becoming friends and quite a support system.

My goal for this year is to publish several children’s books, and my novel. I have 365 more days to work with, and I don’t want to waste any. We all only have so much life, so many days allotted to us. I’ll be sixty eight years old in May. That’s entering the age where you never know what may happen. The body is aging. Many of our friends have had strokes. I pray I don’t have one. Everything I enjoy requires use of my mind, my vision, my hands, and attention. I pray these all stay intact.

With our good VFW Friends.
back row: Judy, Nugent, Lora
front row: The BABE (Dan), me, Kris, Lenny
The Babe and me on New Year’s Eve

Thank you for reading today! I appreciate your time and your input. Any topics you’d like to see covered? Anything but politics, thank you. Come back tomorrow, I’ll be here. I hope you are, too.