How Cold Is It?

Mention was made a few days ago it has not been this cold since 1983. Oh, wow. One of the years that was so hard! I remember it well. It tried to break me.

I usually became very ill in January, every year. Sinus Infection, and it not only knocked me down, it started to bury me. It was so cold, I brought my car battery in the house every night. It was a few years old, the car was out all night in sub zero temps, and I could not afford a new battery. Don’t laugh. My friends who lived in Minnesota told me they did that very thing. It worked until my Income Tax refund came later in Spring.

I invited my husband to leave a year earlier. The kids and I were doing well. All things considered. I was doing well with my job, but not dating. I didn’t think it would be hard, but there were times I really needed someone for me.

Many guys I met immediately thought I was looking for a Dad for the kids. I told them, “No, they have a Dad.” Those guys were not the caliber I would have chosen. And so I kept on, raising kids, working, and going to school. Burning the candle at both ends, for sure. No wonder I got sick!

The world premiere of the movie, “On Golden Pond,” was held in January, 1983, in Omaha, at the Orpheum Theater. The Orpheum began as a Vaudeville Theater, and was one of many grand movie theaters in Downtown Omaha. Henry Fonda, who was from Omaha, was ill and could not attend.

I saw Jane Fonda on the news at the premier. She wore a pants suit. An elaborate one, but pants. Protocol at that time would have been an evening gown. It was just too cold.

The next day, I came home from work and saw a note on my door from Uncle Bob. Bob was Dad’s brother, and he worked for MUD, our local gas, water & sewer utility. The note said to call him. I did.

It seems they found a water main break in front of my house. Unfortunately, it was on my side of the pipes. I had to pay for it. I had no money. NONE. My uncle knew someone who could do the job. He waived the extra $300 fee for digging up frozen ground. Boy, was the ground frozen!

My parents loaned me the money, and the plumber started work two days later. They were finished as we had a huge snowstorm. My instructions were to turn the water back on when I got home from work. The commute was terrible, lots of accidents. I picked the kids up, came home, and went downstairs to turn the water on.

As I turned the valve, water sprayed all over me, my suit, blouse, hair, and I was in shock. I called the plumber, who worked in the cold all day, and told him he needed to come fix the leak. I had three kids, we couldn’t be without water in a blizzard. He wasn’t happy, but he did come fix it. We had water. Thank God!

I was sick from work for several days. It was awful. I was glad it had been over a year since the divorce. Being at the lowest low I’d ever seen, I was glad I didn’t consider getting back “together” with the ex. No, I can handle it. I had grown to believe it.

For all of these reasons, I won’t forget the last time it was this cold. It was a lifetime ago. I was 31. I’m looking down the barrel of 69 this year, 70 will soon follow on its heels. I’m so grateful for all the lessons learned. Yes, all of them. They helped make me strong enough to endure what lie ahead. It was one of those valleys you pass through on the way up the next mountain.

Thank you for reading – please, stay warm today. Help someone else stay warm. Yes, do what you have to do. Be Kind. Be Grateful. Be Courteous. We’ll see each other tomorrow.

Memories – 2002

In going through some old writing I had from grief seminars with the Centering Corporation in Omaha, Nebraska, I found a couple things I’ve held onto. It would have been in about 2002, when I turned 50 years old. A huge mark in a person’s life, but for me it was the dawning of some premature events.

I went on disability at 48, I was unable to continue working due to the condition of my spine. I continued working for five years, and just couldn’t physically handle sitting all day anymore. My work place was more than accommodating. The Babe and I were married about four years. He told me I didn’t have to work. It never dawned on me to quit.

The header photo is a collage I made of my feelings in 2002, depicting how I felt about being placed on LTD. It was very hard to adjust to. I’d been working for twenty years, got an education while raising my kids, bought my own home, and climbed the corporate ladder. I was approaching where I would get to have the time of my life. And my career ended. All the words dealt with my medical issue, which you “couldn’t see.” “Doing What I Love?” I hadn’t thought of anything. ” I am data,” spoke to there being no data on someone recovering from what I had. I was written up in medical journals, complete with a digital photo of my arachnoid cyst squeezing my spinal cord. The pain was unbelievable. And for the big 5-0? I went on MEDICARE, for crying out loud. Fifteen years early. I was embarrassed. I certainly did not look 65. I felt I had no control over anything. I finally learned to grieve properly about that loss, and adjust to my new life. Thank you, Joy Johnson Brown and Dr. Mary Hansen! You ladies have taught me so much about living.

There was a session about expressing grief. It was through poetry. As nearly as I can remember, I must have written a poem about My Dad’s Hands. I’ll leave you with these thoughts.

MY DAD’s HANDS

Big, Outstretched, and Warm

I always felt safe

When Dad reached down

and took my small hand in his.

Crossing the street

Into the Doctor’s Office

Upstairs a million steps to the dentist’s smelly office

I knew he would protect me.

As I grew, I noticed

the nicotine stained fingers,

the Pressman’s ink,

the Mechanic’s grease,

and I saw some of his many talents.

His beautiful signature

The thousands of books he’d read

The golf clubs he treasured

The grandchildren he’d held after

He was sure they wouldn’t break.

How cold and small they seemed

With the IV’s inserted

As that modern plague Cancer

Sucked the breath from his lungs,

But not the love for him from my heart.

Thankful Tuesday

Sometimes, when you least expect it, you see something, remember something, or have a dear cousin contact you. That’s what happened Saturday. It’s taken me a few days to compose myself enough to tell you about it. I’m still blown away.

I’ve told you about our Grandma Jewell before. Dad’s Mother, she had three ornery boys and one daughter. She was the quintessential Irish woman; unwavering in her Catholic faith, sincere in prayer, and love for me and all my cousins that was deep, encouraging, and lasting. She treated us all as equals. My cousin Jilla and I were the only girls with all of those nine boys. So glad we had each other. I’m sure we were “Dad just came home from Korea” babies. The two of us, my brother Tom, and cousin Michael, were four babies at the beginning of the boom, 1951 – 1953.

I remember Gram mentioning to my dad, “You know, Tommy, the boys are wearing their hair longer nowadays. It wouldn’t hurt if they skipped a week or two at the barbershop.” My dad didn’t answer and didn’t disagree with her. A more informed person didn’t exist. She and her sister Anna lived together after Grandpa died, as they had their entire lives. A single woman rarely lived alone in those days. We thought nothing of it.

One thing a well refined young lady did when Grandma and Aunt Anna were young was needlework. Embroidery, specifically. They always had a work in progress. They learned from their Mother, and I learned from mine, how to do various stitches: cross stitch, straight stitches, backstitching, and the French knot. I still cannot do a French knot I like. But Gram could. Her stitches were perfect every time. Even as her vision was poor in her later years, she did embroidery.

Saturday, I received a small package in the mail. These were inside:

The note inside was so beautiful. Cousins Terri and Jeff were going through some things and found these. Their folks supplied Gram with her projects until late in her life. I had tears that they thought of me to keep them. Gram lived two years longer than Dad did; when we saw her the day after his death, she cried and said, “This is the worst shock of her life.” She was 95 and heartbroken. Each time after that we visited, she asked, “Do you think my Tommy’s in heaven?” Absolutely, Gram. How she loved her children all of her life.

Cousin Terri wrote these were Gram’s last masterpieces. And they are works of art. Up close, you can see the pink, circular, puffy stitches, a/k/a French knots. My nemesis! I run my fingers over her flossed stitches and know how she must have labored over those perfect stitches. I feel the puffy knots that elude me, and I can hear her modestly proclaim, “Now, Kathy, I’ve just had more practice than you.” Her humility was one of her best qualities. I want to be like her. I need to remember that when I’m less than loveable. Be like Gram. A worthy heroine. I really think if God is female, He is just like her. Just saying. Thank you, Terri and Jeff. You have given me a gift I really needed right now. It’s magic for my soul. Bless you both.

Folks, this is the season for expressing love. You can give it away, and you also have to receive love, too. Accept it, it’s a beautiful feeling. Regardless of our Covid-Blues, it’s no excuse to be mean to people. Unacceptable behavior does not get a pass because we’re all stressed. Rudeness and temper do not get a pass. Tantrums lead to more of the same. Whatever we give is what we’ll receive more of. Wouldn’t you rather have it be love than hatred and ugliness? I would.

Thank you for reading today. I’ll be back tomorrow. Hope you are, too. Join me. Be Kind. Be Patient. Be Courteous. Be Grateful. Be like my Gram. And maybe I’ll finally learn to make beautiful French knots.

Memories

As I opened the blinds in the main bathroom this morning, the sun glared at the mirror above the sink. Splatter marks all over the place. I smiled. Yes, it was a splattered mirror, clearly dirty, and I smiled. Why? The sweet memory accompanying it. Our grandson Gavin, lover of dogs and common sense, the very smart boy, Grandpa’s best buddy, was over in the last couple of weeks. He spent the night, then Grandpa took him to school the next morning. With the whirlwind only an eight-year-old can create in his path, he dressed in our bathroom and brushed his teeth in the other one. No problem. The sink is lower, so it was easier for him.

Oh, I’ve seen the splatter marks before this. And I’ve smiled every time I’ve seen them. The memory is more important to me than a spotless mirror. One time, we left a little one-year-old handprint on the patio door, where the sun highlighted it all afternoon. It made me smile, too. Too fast our babies grow up, and even faster do our grandchildren grow up. Cherish them. Especially with their mess. A spotless home is often empty.

The Times of Your Life is a beautiful song written by Canadian Paul Anka. It came out in about 1975, and used by the Kodak Corporation in a commercial about capturing your memories on their fabulous film. If you’re young enough to not know what film is, we can’t be friends! It went in a camera and captured images. You had to take it to a place that would develop film. It took quite a while to get it back. At least for several days. You also had negatives available for reprints, if you wanted to order them.

So, of course, this beautiful song will evoke tears about the memories you have. Keep the good ones and don’t dwell on the bad ones. You’ll lose yourself in them. Baby handprints on windows. A little stool you sat on at Grandma’s house. A teapot you drank tea from when you were sick. Memories help us convey so much love. When I mix bread dough, I think of my Grandma Jewell. She baked unbelievable stuff for us. With so much love.

I’m selecting these beautiful memories to keep calm about the world right now. I would die laughing if, by some strange quirk of fate, Trump won. The folks at ABC, headed by George Stephanopoulos, are like the cackling women robbing Scrooges body after he dies. There is another glorious memory, going to the Omaha Community Playhouse’s production of “A Christmas Carol.” I’m wanting people to become civil again. I’m wanting people to calm down. Please. We need to. All of us.

Elvis sings the other song I am recalling about. Mac Davis (who passed recently), and Billy Strange co-wrote this beautiful song. Wow, listening to it now, I remember it so well. My kids were all little and playing in the leaf piles their dad and I raked up. We buried them up to the neck, then Frankie, the oldest put his hands up and threw leaves all over his brother and sister. Wonderful memories of the kids. I had photos of both scenes, but gave them to Frankie a few years ago. We lost them in his apartment fire, but I remember the vision. How terrible it must be to lose your memory, all catalogued in the corners of your mind. The song, “Memories,” is a classic.

Yesterday’s Breakfast was Delicious!

We’re doing pretty well eating differently. Yes, we’re doing Keto, mostly. I think it’s important to get everything we older folks need, so we’re adding a Protein drink every day. To find one with low carbs is a challenge, but we found Ensure in a very low carb version, with 30g of protein. Great discovery and doesn’t taste bad at all. We use it as a snack around noon – 2 p.m. Then cook dinner to eat anytime between 4pm and 6 pm, depending on what’s going on. So far, so good.

Keep your spirits up. Read positive things. Entertain your heart-warming memories. Do it while you still can. Thank you so much for reading today. I appreciate your time and hope you come back tomorrow for some more positive thoughts and words. It’s so much better when you keep a good thought. See you tomorrow! Be Safe!

Fall Festiveness and Memories

Fall is a favorite time to decorate in the house. I suppose it comes from my knowing the snow will fly in a few months (or should fly) and once the leaves are down, the outside turns dusky, dark, and dank by five p.m. once CDT is over. And I do just love the way it all looks. Yes, even pumpkin flavored tea is on the shelf in the pantry. Sipping hot tea makes me feel all wise and librarianish. Lol.

I am ready for jeans and sweatshirts, leather boots, (gosh, I miss wearing high heels!) and a warm scarf. It seems as if we get to that point each year like we’ve never been there before. Each year, the seasons bring something new. This year, some say, it will be a super-flu bug, a Flu-Corona-20, if you will. Whatever it is, I’m getting a shot for it. I always get a flu shot, and so does the babe. It’s kind of careless to not. I know, some folks claim they become ill from it – often, it doesn’t take effect until two weeks later. In those two weeks, if you get the flu, it’s because of that lag in between the time of exposure and the time the shot kicks in.

This was Tyler Perry‘s acceptance speech for the Governor’s award at the Emmy’s last night. I did not watch the program, but was glad to hear something about my hobby. I saw this earlier today on the Facebook page of Pat Sloan. Pat is a well known quilter, designer, teacher, and such a fun quilter to follow. I selected WordPress because of her; I’ve spent a number of years learning from her through her blog, and I liked what I saw. Of course, hers is full of great stuff, and she has wonderful free patterns all the time. If you want to learn, check Pat out.

Yes, we all have quilts that are our lives. Some are torn and tattered, indicating they either weren’t cared for well or they have been used beyond their time. Some are pristine and beautiful, not allowed to be touched. They live in a temperature controlled atmosphere, and rarely see the light of day, for fear they will fade in the sun. I have made quilts for people and tell them I want them to use them. The quilts I made for Mom’s three sisters were each made for them, their personality, their beliefs, or something beautiful that made me think of them or some experience I had with them in their lives.

Now, Mom doesn’t want a quilt. She says she’s not “a quilt person.” I have to remember, the first afghan I ever made was for her. After all, she watched Frankie while I went to class. It has never been used. It used to sit on her antique rocking chair. She has given that to my baby brother, and I don’t know where the afghan is. I imagine it will find its way back to my house someday. All the afghans I’ve made (well over 50, I think), I’ve never made one for me. Strange, isn’t it? I’ll have to remedy that someday.

So after all is said and done, I will probably make her a quilted jacket from a sweatshirt and fabric. I have wild animal fabrics to use on it. I’d probably better get started with that. At 91, she won’t be here forever. So she’ll have a different kind of a quilt. But she’ll get one. Haha!

You know, I know some folks are anti-RGB strictly because of her stance on abortion. I have to look at the whole career of such a woman, though. I shudder to think what my life would have been like if she had not championed the causes of women. I was not on the “women’s lib” bandwagon early on, I quickly got on board, though for equality. I had credit although I hadn’t worked in over twelve years, I could open a bank account in my name, I was able to earn a very good living in the IT World, because it was one arena your technical knowledge determined what you were paid. I was equal to a man who did the same work. My life has been very blessed because of the good this tiny, mighty woman did. Thank you, RBG, for standing for me before I realized I needed your help. I am forever grateful.

For too long, decisions were made about my life that didn’t include my opinion. Thank God those days ended.

Maya Angelou has been credited with saying something like “Don’t be hard on yourself what you accepted before you knew better. Once you know better, though, you need to make changes.” I did. Boy, it was not a popular decision. And oh, how family can judge. It was lonely to become divorced in 1982. I lost so many of my favorite people, the ex’s siblings. All these 38 years later though, we have a good relationship, for which I’m grateful. The nieces and nephews have all become adults, parents, and some are grandparents. So very grateful to still have them all in my life.

What will you do with the rest of the day? I’m finishing a project I’ll reveal tomorrow. I hope you all have a beautiful Monday, it’s half over already! Make it count, make yourself shine, and I hope you are blessed today. Find the goodness. Listen to the music of life. Ponder what your life quilt looks like. Be kind, be thoughtful, be aware of others, be courteous. Your quilt will be much more beautiful.

Thank you for reading, see you tomorrow!

Swinging Saturday!

Yeah! Gavin started playing ball last night in his Youth League. They have a tournament all weekend. Nothing like going big or going home! I’m excited about this for many reasons. I love baseball. I love when kids get to learn and play. I love this team because his dad, our son-in-law, is one of the coaches. From what I hear, he was quite the player in his day. Never got to see him play, but I’ve heard the stories. Good ones, of course. His dad is a good father to both the kids, and a terrific son in law. We have three great ones, TJ, Aaron, and Brian.

So if the rain holds off, we may get to go to the game later on. Addison is back at dance now, and she’s enjoying seeing her friends. I don’t think there are many girls in her neighborhood to hang out with, so she’s glad to have human contact again. While it’s all good now, I’m concerned about what will happen later, in October and November. Just praying and taking precautions for now.

I am having some challenges with the office help this morning. Letting them in. Letting them out. Getting them water. Right now, a squeaking squirrel is making it’s way up my thigh, complete with bad doggie breath making it a little warm in here. And now, here is the dinosaur, doing the same. If I stop writing and go to the living room to sit with them, they go to sleep. Can’t win, but I can laugh while I’m doing it. Finally, twenty minutes later and she found a place to lay down and nap. Lexie prefers the couch. In fact, she knows the word “couch.” Funny what we do for our pets.

I am writing a scene/point page for my new story about a girl who has to find courage to leave her unhappy marriage. She is discovering many resources to help her leave, she just has to be vigilant to make sure she sees them, and has the courage to act on them. The more she discovers, the more there is to discover. I think life works this way. The scenes are major events she experiences, and the points are the way she feels about the experiences.

I’m beginning to think ideas are full of fluffy, filler words. It’s a real challenge to tone them down and not make the meaning difficult to find. I think we speak with a lot of filler words, and tend to try and write that way, too. Quite different from business writing. Then it’s the facts, summarized for an executive in fewer words. Almost as if they don’t want to waste their time knowing what goes into researching what they ask us to, then only wanting to know the important things.

And technical writing is really precise, with all the details, and sometimes hard to understand. Learning ASSEMBLER computer language was so painful. I attended a two night per week school and my younger son had his appendix rupture during that time. He required emergency surgery and I missed two of twelve classes. He nearly died. I almost didn’t pass the class, too. Neither of these things happened, thankfully. Never want anything so awful again. Either that class or one of my kids nearly dying.

This is going to be an afternoon I need a little nap, so I’m heading that way. Hope you have a wonderful rest of your Saturday. Thank you for reading, I appreciate your support. Wash your hands. Wear your mask, thank you. Call your mom. Be a good example. Share a smile with someone. Listen.

Thankful Thursday

Hi, friends. Hope you’re staying amused, being productive, and getting done what you need to. I know I’m not. Well, I am, and I’m not. The sun and warm went away this morning, and now we could have freezing rain/snow. After this virus outbreak and quarantine, nothing surprises me. How could it? About the time we think we’ve seen everything, something comes along and trumps the last event. I love talking to my oldest, who will be fifty years old next year. He has a good memory of things from his youth. He actually remembers the awful tunnel at 84th and I-80. Remember it? He remembers going to Brandies when he was three to see Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory displays. He remembers being afraid of some of the characters in Star Wars. It makes me laugh when he wonders what’s wrong with kids nowadays. For those conversations, I am so thankful.

English – the hardest language to learn.

I’m glad I grew up in a family of readers. My parents both read every chance they got. We were good at looking stuff up in the dictionary and encyclopedias. Dad never told us how to spell something. His philosophy was start where you think it should be. Then, if it’s not there, look further until you find it. You’ll become familiar with so many more words. Good advice, although we disliked it at the time. He would be so amazed by PC’s today. I wish he could have lived long enough to have had one. It would have been fun to help him learn how to use it. It’s hard to hear about kids who don’t read, or who don’t like to. It is so much harder when you dislike it. Dad also used to say if you could read you could do anything. There is 100 % truth to that. Directions, reading a recipe, reading a dress pattern, putting together a car, model airplane, whatever you need to do, you usually have to be able to read to accomplish it. I’m thankful to the gift of reading.

And the meme above points out an important thing about reading. For as difficult as English is, you must be able to know read from read, excuse from excuse, and so on. Would that be in language class? I truly don’t remember. Wherever it’s taught, I’m thankful to have learned it.

I sort of led my life backwards, compared to how some of my classmates lived. I married very early, had three kids by the age of 27, and was divorced at 30. I attended college classes for a long, long time and graduated from college in 1995. Twenty-five years after graduating from high school. It’s the only thing I ever regretted, was not being able to graduate from college. Dad told me, “Just keep working at it, you’ll get it done.” He was right. I’m so thankful he gave that advice and that I followed it. It meant a lot to me.

Of course, I’m thankful for the Babe. This being quarantined at home tries everyone’s patience, but there still is no one I’d rather be quarantined with. No one else may be able to put up with me, you know? It works two ways. We are watching Netflix, we finished the Ranch, are watching Ozark, it’s really good. I don’t know if we’ll watch the Tiger King or not. There is certainly a lot of hub-bub about it. What do you think? Watch it or skip it? The promos remind me of the Jerry Springer Show. Or Honey Boo Boo. Or hokey stuff like that.

Today hasn’t been that great of a day. The weather change was predicted by the fibromyalgia/arthritis combination and is currently about to put me down for the count. Even with the Super Arthritis Formula 650 mg. Acetometaphine the Babe brought home for me to try. I took two. Haven’t started to work yet and it’s been a couple hours. Wow. How are people who have this fibro stuff supposed to know when they have body aches? It’s a sign of the virus, yet so many of us live with conditions that already cause a lot of pain. How does one tell?

Maybe it’s time to go sit by the fire and read. That’s it, boys and girls. Hope you have a good rest of the evening, and I’ll do the same. Thanks for reading, be grateful, wash your hands, come back tomorrow. I’ll be here, too. And for all that, I’m grateful, too.

Happy Thanksgiving, 2019!

One of the things people do on this day is share memories. The present day is indeed worth celebrating, but there is something wonderful about sharing memories that reinforces the bond among family members. I realize some families have bad memories, and I have some myself. Today, we’re talking about the good memories.

After I was divorced in 1982, I started cooking Thanksgiving for my family. My brothers and parents were invited. I believe I usually had my kids for that holiday, I don’t remember being without them on Thanksgiving. It was a nice dinner, and we had fun. The fun really began when my kids were older (Frankie was 16, Nick was 12, Becky was 9), and we moved to our own house from the family home we had.

In 1987, I was able to purchase my own home, a nearly fifty year old raised ranch in an established neighborhood in Omaha. It was so exciting. With help from my youngest brother, Tim, and my son’s friend, Chuck, my kids and I moved. I even drove the U-Haul.

It was that year that we started the Thanksgiving tradition of putting up Christmas lights on the house. The boys were old enough to do it, and they took quite a bit of the day creating their version of Christmas lighting beauty. Some years, their fingers froze from the weather. Many more breaks were taken, inhaling the turkey smell and drinking hot chocolate. They strung lights, unrolled extension cords, and weighted down figures like they had done it all their lives. It was so fun to watch them see their vision come to life! Becky kept checking their progress, playing with our dog Shadow, and telling me Thanksgiving was her favorite holiday EVER! She was so funny. Not a month before, she told me Halloween was her favorite holiday ever. I love that girl. Always is happy with what is in front of her.

Once they were finished, we would continue in the house, watching football, cooking, laughing, and having fun. When we were finished with dinner, we would eagerly wait until darkness came and we would have a grand lighting ceremony. We lived on a dead end street, so we’d stand in the middle of the street, and cheer when Frankie plugged in the lights. We whooped and hollered, clapped, and congratulated the boys on a job well done. This is one of my favorite memories of all time. We really were a good, strong, single parent family. It was a lot of hard work, and I know I made a lot of mistakes, but I also did some things right. I do miss them a lot. They are all off on their own adventures, and I love that they are.

And you know what?? This was in the early to mid 1990’s, before cell phones. I do not have one photo of that whole event, or the others that followed in subsequent years. We repeated what worked. I hope my kids think of it as well, with a smile. So please, put your phones down. Your family is much more important than the football scores, the Kardashians, or your friend and you texting. Do that stuff tomorrow. Soak in your families today. We’re cooking, only one of our five is coming for dinner with her husband and two kids, and we’re going to have fun. You have a fun day, too.

Thank you for reading, and please come back tomorrow. I’m going to tell you about all the money we save on Black Friday. You’ll love it. Like and comment, you get two chances to win the $50 Visa Gift Card I’m giving away to one lucky winner. Honoring the end of NaNoWriMo. And we’re going to celebrate me making it to 50,000 words. There’s no looking back now! See you then.