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!

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.

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!

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.