Tuesday Things

It’s been another day of being mostly sick, and a little regular work on some quilt squares. It hasn’t been without glitches, let me tell you. The header photo? I wound a bobbin on my new machine. I’ve never had one do this in over 50 years of sewing/quilting. Just when I think I’ve seen everything, I realize I don’t. And that’s a good thing. It means I still have things to learn.

Tomorrow is the visitation/prayer service for my sister-in-law Pat Tomasek. You do a lot of thinking while you reminisce about life with those special people. You all were grasping to hold on, and you were stronger in numbers. And here we are, 50 years later, all walking each other home. Everyone feels this loss, it’s a big one. I’m so grateful to have known Pat. She was a big blessing to me.

Not even the worst circumstances could make us into negative, jealous, self-pitying people unless we allow them to. Our experiences cannot be controlled. Our reactions to them can be. No matter what our circumstances, we are responsible for our attitudes about them. Let’s make sure we have good attitudes in all circumstances. Then, and only then, we can say we show gratitude.

I need to read a lot before class on Thursday night. I’m humbled I was asked to participate in the training. I want to use it for good. Intentional Peer Support is vital as a supplement to mental health services for Veterans and families.

Want to help? You can get involved. Contact the VFW in your area, volunteer at Post 2503, Bellevue University in Bellevue, Nebraska, and many places supporting Veterans. I hope you have a great evening and tomorrow. See you then.

Grateful American

I started reading Gary Sinise’s book, “Grateful American,” and it is wonderful. He tells us about his life from childhood to adulthood, highlighting the creation of Steppenwolf Theater in Chicago. Curious, now I’ve purchased a book Sinise mentions about Steppenwolf, which he himself has never read. Interestingly enough, the copyright date is 1927, 95 years ago, and two years older than my mother is. The notes from the author are dated 1961 when I was nine years old. Regardless of the age of the publication, I’m thinking a spiritual journey to find yourself hasn’t changed in nearly a hundred years.

Sometimes, I seem to go from one book to another, based on a blurb, a review, or just a FB post from another author. My curiosity is piqued frequently, and it seems as if the more I write, the more I read. Months ago, I pre-ordered Peggy Rowe’s book, “Vacuuming in the Nude,” for when I need a laugh. All sorts of books for all sorts of moods.

I also watch movies and tv dramas with a different eye than before. I focus on how the story is constructed. That is a different way than most of us consume movies and television. We’re entertained, distracted from real life, and pass time until something better comes along.

I am gaining more respect for Gary Sinise than I had before. I admire what he does for veterans, and know he will continue his important work. He does it for the results, the help he gives to our heroes, not for publicity or adulation. He is working constantly to gather resources to use in a good way for veterans. They are so deserving.

It’s been a long day with Mom and I need to decompress. Tomorrow will be a glorious day at home! I’ll get some writing done in the morning and some working on prepping quilt blocks the rest of the day. I’m loving my free time and am still discovering how to use it. Hope you have a beautiful evening and we’ll see each other tomorrow.

Thursday’s Thinking.

Do you have a place of comfort in your home? Not necessarily your bed (mine is great – firm mattress, I can let my spine decompress like nobody’s business), but somewhere you can sit and reflect. Maybe you have a spot where you can just consider your day, your life, your direction. Even for a retired person, this is necessary to keep living life, not just existing.

My thoughts go back to our grandparents. German on one side, Irish on the other. All very hard workers. Our dad’s parents had their own business, a drug and sundries store. Something for everyone. Dad told me a story once when I was telling him how hard it was with my oldest, who wanted to be our playing past dark, when it was time for bed. He could see the other kids outside, no supervision, riding their big wheels on the sidewalk of our busy street. Luckily, he obeyed me, didn’t try to go outside, he was a good kid.

Dad told me it wasn’t anything new. When he was a kid, he and his siblings were babysat by Great Grandma Hurley while his mother worked evenings at the drugstore. Never met the woman, but she ruled with an iron fist. She had to. She was widowed and didn’t have much. Her family lived with her, which was common in those days. Dad said he also wanted to be out with the kids. He didn’t dare cross his Grandma. She had a shillelagh, which she would use to bop them on the head when they were in need of an attitude adjustment. It got their attention. She died while my dad and his brothers were all away at the war. They were not allowed to come home for her funeral.

The more we think no one has done what we’re doing in these times, the more the similarities leap out at me. What has changed? Well, Grandma Hurley would not be bopping a kid on the head with her shillelagh. And our mom’s Great Uncle Roy walked with a regular cane. When he wanted the nieces to come talk with him, he would use the curved handle of his cane to hook them by the arm or leg. They laughed. Mom and her sisters always fell for it. What’s changed? Well, now everyone is on red alert about children being molested, accosted by pedophiles right in their own homes. It needs to come out of the dark.

That has gone on forever, it’s just now we talk about it. We need to. We need to help children through these terrible events and keep them safe. I believe we are teaching children to be aware, stand up for themselves, and tell a safe adult when things are not right.

I feel so lucky that as kids, we didn’t have to worry about anyone hurting us. We rode our bikes around, roller skated, walked to the library, and other stuff kids do. We loved going to the air-conditioned library when it was blistering hot outside. It was an oasis from the oppressive heat. And of course, there were wonderful books there. Great time, well spent. Thanks Mom!

Author Jennifer Chaverini is someone I’ve followed because of the theme of her books, The Elm Creek Quilters. Alex Anderson had a quilting show I started to watch when I started on my LTD. I was depressed, and I really was inspired by watching her create quilts. I made many purchases of thread, fabric, patterns, lots of stuff. I now have a full room of stuff for making quilts. There are other hobbies covered there, too.

Ms. Chaverini now writes historical fiction. She’s covered Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker, and other women’s story throughout history. I just started “Enchantress of Numbers,” about the famous poet Lord Byron’s daughter, who was highly educated in math and science. That never happened in the 1800s. I’m only in the prologue.

Funny, authors debate the use of prologues to set the backstory. Most say not to use it. Could this very long prologue serve as the first chapter? I’ll have to let you know. Not having knowledge about that era and how social mores were so strict, I think it’s necessary to set the tone. More on that later.

I’m shooting for a productive day today. How about you? I like this new way of looking at my to-do list. Of course, there is a huge list of stuff that comes to mind that I want to do. I can cross it off when I write down what we’ve accomplished. I like seeing the done list grow and the to-do list shrink. It’s motivating.

Have a beautiful day, folks. Let’s keep going for more followers! We have jumped up to 938 readers as of publishing time yesterday. Let’s keep going! Love it! Thanks for going on this journey with me. I appreciate the company. Take care, see you tomorrow.

Making Space & Boundaries

That’s what I’m doing. We need to clear out things in our lives that aren’t working anymore. Yes, they were great when we started. When things like volunteering end up being more of a job than contributing to the community. Don’t get me wrong. We took on more things willingly. And now, we need to release some things to come back to the most important relationship we have; the one with each other. In the coming years, we’re aware one of us will leave this world before the other. We want to spend all the time together, just us, just enjoying each other’s company.

So far, one person doesn’t understand we’re doing this to do the things we want/need to do. Reducing our time outside the home to make room for us and the things we have planned doesn’t mean filling up that time to be “on call” for when they decide they want to do something. No, I’m not saying I won’t help this person; I’m saying asking for help would be much better than saying, “Then you can come here and do so and so. . .”

It would have been much better for the person to have asked, “Could you help me out one day a week? Maybe every Wednesdays?” The key here is, their pride keeps them from asking. They are used to giving orders and everyone complies. It leads to all sorts of anger, resentment, and ill-will. Disregarding the fact that others have a busy life is selfish. Someone who will not ask for help cannot ask, in their way of thinking. And, contrary to their saying they’re “Fine, I’m just fine,” they’re not. They’re fearful and upset and angry even though they’ve had a long, productive life.

This is hard for those of us who have disabilities which began in our 40s. We’ve had limitations due to illness and near-death events. We didn’t get to have 85 years before we had limitations of age forced on us. We had limitations of our body failing us and had to put our pride aside at a very young age. Sometimes, it’s hard to have empathy when dealing with someone who thought they had aging beat. It results in ungraceful aging, and negativity.

So if you have this same type of challenging person in your life, know you’re not alone. It’s hard to establish boundaries with them, but we need to. Boundaries keep us all sane and safe. Boundaries keep unwanted things out. Boundaries make our time more accessible for what we want/need to do.

And we can offer assistance to others when needed. It just needs boundaries around it. Then we don’t start something we need to do and have the interruption at 10:30 a.m. of the person who wants (non-emergency) help (different than needing (emergency!) and ruining our day because we haven’t established a boundary.

The meme in the header today first caught my eye because of the beautiful color. Then the words hit me. Yes, the Babe and I are going to intentionally decide how to spend the space we’re creating in our lives. You should too. Continue helping other humans, but do it with intention. And boundaries. You’ll all be happier.

Hydrate in this awful heat! Stay inside with your pets, and fill your day with what you love. I’m doing that very thing! Please, help me get to 1,000 followers who will be notified when a new blog is posted! We’re above 1,000 blog posts published now, I’d love to see our followers get over 1,000 too! We’re hovering around #929. Help a girl out, please! I appreciate it. See you tomorrow. Take care.

Monday Morn

Have you ever had a consumer complaint against a company regarding payment that lingered on for nearly a year? Hope that never happens to any of you. I just finally got it resolved this morning.

I was a customer of Phillips 66 Gasoline company since 1988. Some of you weren’t even born yet! But yes, never an issue. In the last year with gas prices escalating, I paid special attention to our monthly bills. The Babe and I used the same account, and I paid the balance off every month. Last year, July of 2021, the bills went up over $100 a month. Now, they’re even higher, although we now each pay at the pump as we individually fill up whichever vehicle we’re driving.

In July, I paid the bill through First National Bank’s Bill Pay feature. Always reliable. Late last summer, the oil company switched from in-house credit to Synchrony Credit. Not good. Not good at all.

At first, I gave them the benefit of the doubt. The only way to resolve anything was phone only. And hold on forever until you’re sure you’re on IGNORE, not HOLD. That puts you in an immediate bad mood, holding on for 20 minutes. I secured what was needed from my bank – numerous times. I got the credit, then a month or two later, bam. They added the amount of $214 + change back on to my account, saying I didn’t provide them with what was needed. Wow.

I can tell you, they no longer care how long you’ve been a customer. They no longer care you cut up your credit card. They often cut your call off in the middle of talking. You have to start over with the hold/ignore cycle. Aggravating as heck.

I received a message from Synchrony again I needed to provide more information. I called the number, finally with an extension number, and talked to a lady I could understand. Bonus! She actually investigated my account and told me they applied it to my BP VISA card. Which I’ve never had. At last! They made a boo-boo! Vindicated, after all this time! I was about ready to celebrate a one year anniversary with that $214.++ balance. (Sarcasm font used).

Cue Etta James’ At Last. Finally! I found a decent customer service rep.

As we go throughout the rest of the day, let’s be pleasant with customer service reps. While searching for “service” stock photos, mostly baristas appear. Isn’t that crazy, what we’ve become? You won’t see a clerk at a department store as an example, either. My, how things have changed. A lot of years have passed between seeing Grandma Jewell standing behind the glass candy display counter at the family drug and sundries store, and Mr. Chase working in the pharmacy, compounding drugs. Grandma knew every kid in South Omaha. And they respected her, too. She was just that way. What fond memories I have of her!

I’m off to a meeting now, hope you all have a wonderful Monday. I’m having one, it will just get better. Make it a sunny day where you are. See you tomorrow!

Shhh! She’s Fixing the World!

The little lady in this header photograph today may not have access to enough bandages to fix the entire world. Do enough even exist? Will this cause a supply chain issue? Gosh, maybe she should stop. I mean, it’s a gigantic job. And she’s pretty young. Too little to go far alone. Why crush her dream?

Current attention spans aside, she may become bored and stop on her own. No need to crush her dream. It’s so important to let little children dream big. Not that they’ll be the next Bruce Springsteen, Shel Silverstein, or Pete Rose. (Yes, he should be in the hall of fame!) Big dreams help kids investigate how to achieve those dreams. Whether he or she needs music lessons and knowledge, writing lessons and practice, or baseball coaching one on one. Or science instruction, study, experiments. Let them dream and achieve.

Whether they’re male or female, we need to let them find their own way. Then they can fix the world around them. They learn to take ideas and make reality from them. Through creative things, they can heal the world. And show others how to do so. Art and music touch our hearts and make them feel better, from the inside out. All healing goes that way. Inside out. Anyone who heals from trauma and brokenness, including broken heartedness, knows the strength you feel upon healing. That is how we fix the world. One person at a time.

I cannot pass Mother’s Day without wishing the Mom’s out there to have a good day. It can be a hard day. Parts of mine are hard, parts are not. I don’t think this is unusual. Although things didn’t quite go as I would have liked, I would never trade my kids for anything. Raising them were some of the happiest years of my life. Living with their father wasn’t.

I believe a large group of women who serve as bonus mothers who deserve kudos. They’re the women who love their partner’s children because they belong to him. And they love the children. And the children love them back. I’m a lucky step-mom myself. I gained steps when they were adults. The Babe’s two children fit exactly in between my three. Making five kids spanning 7 years. We laugh and say it would have been all over if we’d met when they were little. That’s a lot of kids all in the same age groups!

It would have worked, and our kid’s lives would have been more integrated than now. They don’t really know each other. It’s impossible to get them all together. It’s ok. We get to enjoy them all separately. And we love them, different as they all are. We are blessed beyond our wildest dreams. It hasn’t always been this way. It took years individually and together to get here. Take heart, things are possible you can’t imagine right now. And the hard work is worth it.

Tomorrow will be the day I pick back up to get my studio/office back in order. We had two lovely days off, where all we did was see our grandson play ball, and today, where we spent time together at home, ate, took a nap, and had coffee on the deck in the chill of morning. It’s our favorite place in the summer. From zero dark thirty until the sun rises above the treeline, we talk, sit, and rock in our rocking chairs. It’s a daily vacation. Then we live our lives for the rest of the day.

Have a beautiful evening. Be positive. Keep ahead of the bad feelings. Make sure you talk with someone if you can’t come back from feelings of negativity, worthlessness, and not caring. We are human and we have to care. We have to be cared about. It’s what we’re made for. I care. We can walk together to get you where you need to be.

Magical Monday Morning

Here we are, in the sunny brightness at the Home Office in Gretna, Nebraska. I woke this morning to several beautiful sounds. One was the Babe talking to one of the dogs. It’s always sweet and he is so kind to them. I sort of dozed, and then heard a woodpecker. He was all about the business of pecking some tree. It’s an interesting way to start the day.

Then, sweetly, Roxie jumped up on the bed and licked my face and neck. She loves the smell (and taste; I suppose) of my makeup remover sheets. I ran out of lavender scented ones, but these are a close second. She licked and then laid her head on me as I pet her. It is very comforting when either dog does that. I don’t want those moments to end, and just let them hug on me, if that’s what they’re doing. When she’s afraid of thunder and lightning, she comes to me. She’s not upset; she just wants to be by me. And that’s ok. Who of us doesn’t want to just be by each other sometimes?

When Goldie left my side to lie on the empty side of the bed and look out of the window, I rose and started the day. I felt so loved. God let me wake; he had Goldie show her Labrador love; and He serenaded me with a Woodpecker’s concerto. If you would be grumpy and negative after all that, we cannot be friends. There is always something to be positive about; to be grateful for; and to have hope for the future. Which will be a thing to work on. For starters, see you tomorrow!

Beauty/Loveableness/Teens

It’s said beauty is in the beholder’s eye. I suppose that is true. As I’ve grown older, my definition of beauty changed dramatically. I suppose as a teenager I found my idea of beauty in fashion magazines, teen magazines, and had a skewed idea of beauty. It was anything but me. I think most girls my age felt this way, although I did not know that. We just didn’t have those kinds of discussions.

As I remained dateless after the age of 16, I thought no one would love me. Images of Twiggy and Goldie Hawn as the “Sock it to Me” girl made me believe I would never be thin enough for someone to love. It reinforced the message from Madison Avenue, my mom, and what I saw around me. Everyone but me was beautiful and loveable. I felt fat and ugly. And not very smart. Little did I know I actually had a pretty face, beautiful eyes (hidden by pop bottle lenses of the 60s) and was the right size of a normal human teenage girl. (The other day, a friend commented, “I wish I was the weight I was when I first thought I was fat.” Amen, sister!)

I lost all that. While my first husband was gone in the Army (Europe in an office, not in Vietnam), I crash dieted my way to less than 130 pounds. Starved myself, lost 50 pounds, and wore hot pants and shorts for the only time in my life. It was hard to maintain. I went back to a normal weight again, and felt fat. I wasted how sad so much of my life on feeling like that. Who the heck cares? I did, way too much.

I’d gain 35-40 pounds during each pregnancy when some doctors only wanted a 20 pound weight gain. I suspect many babies did not have the great start they deserved during this era. Mine were all healthy from the get go, thankfully. I’ve yo-yo’d my way during the rest of life. I was at an unhealthy plateau for a long time, until COVID let me to realize I wasn’t comfortable. I lost about 40 – 45 pounds, feel great, and haven’t KETO’d since.

By charts, etc., I should weigh less. I’m not sure that’s going to happen. For my health, it would be a little better, but the rest of my health numbers, etc are great. No high cholesterol, blood pressure under control, and I have various specialty docs I see for chronic pain. My knees don’t require injections every 90 days any more. I’m good, by most standards.

My idea of beauty now? It’s never found in a celebrity or the pages of a magazine. It’s found in the smiling, wrinkled face of a grandmother; the wisdom of a toddler who talks constantly; the excitement of a person discovering their talents after a lifetime of doing for others. It’s in nature; it is in wildlife; and it is in the every day, commonplace things. It is in the beholder’s eye. The heart of the beholder. The mind of the beholder. It’s a tween telling you they like spending time with you. When you tease your grand kid about silly things they did when they were young, they smile. It’s there! It’s everywhere.

As I finish up the cleaning from yesterday, I’ll see the beauty and show gratitude for taking care of our home. I’ll see it in our dogs. I’ll see it in the book I’m reading. It is everywhere. I’m going to soak it all in, and be grateful for learning what is truly beautiful. Check it out for yourself. Let’s see each other tomorrow. Be safe out there!

Tuesday Topics

Remember the Billy Joel song, “I’m Movin’ Out”? Mama Leoni’s was the restaurant mentioned in Little Italy, New York City. On Rachael Ray today, she talked about going there as a small child; about their food and their service. It was sweet. From the song, you could smell the neighborhood and take in it’s culture, and you could feel it as Rachael Ray talked today. Wonderful stuff. Maybe you should check YouTube for her show and the song. I’d bet it’s out there.

Do you have memories of food/cooking/baking from your childhood? The smell of rising clover-leaf rolls fills my nostrils when driving past Grandma Jewell’s home on Center Street. She’s been gone from there since the 1980s but that memory will stay with me for my lifetime. I think of her as my hero.

I also know the smell of Nestle’s Chocolate Chip Cookies baking. Mom made a batch every week. They were my solace after being bullied at school. I developed a sugar addiction that I still court today; truth be told, I’d go for dessert every time. But eat it first, because life is way too short.

My family went out rarely for dinner. Dad worked nights, but had every Sunday and Monday off as his weekend. Once in a great while, we would go as a family to Piccolo Pete’s for dinner. It was a favorite of Dad’s, just down the street from where his Standard Oil Service Station was located. The dining room was nearly empty on a Monday night right after they opened. Dad had a favorite waitress who always waited on him. That was the term back in the day. Pro Writing Aid flagged it as not inclusive, but heck, that’s how life was then.

Our folks always ordered spaghetti and meatballs for us. That is the only time we ate that dish. Mom never made it at home. It was a real treat. Probably the cheapest thing on the menu for a laborer and his family. The room had a mirrored ball in the middle of the dance floor. Few lights were on, and the outer edges of the room seemed dark and mysterious. We saw the grand piano and some horn instruments behind it. I imagined what it must be like to sit in that room while eating dinner on a Saturday night. What a scene played in my mind. Just like in the old black and white movies.

I believe the sense of smell can either provide wonderful memories or terrible ones. It took a long time for me to smell wet sand and suntan lotion without feeling like I would wretch. It was part of the trauma of experiencing my son drown at the age of 5 1/2. PTSD existed back in 1979 but no one knew what it was. The best advice was “just don’t think about it.” How Dare They!

I was pregnant with my daughter, and I’m sure she felt the trauma just as I did. My little boy, 2 1/2 years old, felt it. He was terrified when his brother went to school. He kept asking if brother was in the hospital. We finally walked Frankie to school, and went into the building, entering the classroom so Nick could see where his brother was. He stopped asking and became less afraid. I didn’t. It took a long time.

Now, when I smell those two things, I recall the tremors in my stomach, but don’t have them. I recall the blessing my son’s survival has been. From that point on, I believe he has a special kind of soul. My kids are all my besties, along with the Babe. From that near loss, I learned I could survive some very hard things. And I have. We have. I’m forever grateful for all of it.

Have a beautiful day today. Find your blessings. Even those that come from tragedy. It’s all part of living life. See you tomorrow!

What Day Is This?

I’m sure everyone has asked themselves that question during the last ten days. I’ve been a day ahead of myself all week for some reason. It’s perfect to have it during vacation, with the holidays themselves on Saturday. Recuperate on Sunday, back to work on Monday? Maybe. Some folks will have designated holidays on Monday, and schools won’t go back until Tuesday or Wednesday.

This is Thursday, I had some office work at the Post to help the Babe; he had two funerals at the Omaha National Cemetery for the VFW Post 2503 Honor Guard. The Commander’s wife was decorating for New Year’s Eve; it will be beautiful. A lot of progress is evident at the Post; a year ago, we met to begin planning the great remodel of the facilities. It’s coming along nicely. The bar area is the last and will be most expensive, as it includes the rest rooms. The 90th Anniversary Party is in April, 2022, and it will be wonderful.

Ralph Waldo Emerson is credited with saying:

“The hero is no braver than the ordinary man, but he is brave five minutes longer.”

All of us are capable of heroic acts. My dad was a hero in WWII and Korea. He was also a hero to me. He was a great example of working (perhaps too hard), and staying the course. He was unwavering in anything having to do with providing for his family. Shows of affection were a bit more difficult for him. His mother told me once, “he took after his father in that department.” Grandpa finished growing up in an orphanage, one of ten children, hugs weren’t given away freely in that era.

Heroes we refer to who save a regiment of soldiers solo are much more glamorous than everyday, working class heroes. Consistency is what matters. Integrity is what matters. Above and beyond often means taking care of yourself so you can care for others. It’s not news-worthy but it is necessary in life. Staying the course, being consistent, and honesty are critical. We are all capable of doing small but heroic deeds in our daily lives. Keeping on our workout routine and eating healthy makes you a hero to your child, who needs you to be there for him or her as they grow up. Be your child’s hero. Those of us who achieve hero status just have worked at it a little longer than others. But we all can do it. Let’s join each other in being each other’s heroes next year. Help each other along.

Try and list all the things that turned out well this year. Concentrate on the positive. Despite everything, I’m thrilled with how 2021 played out for me. I became not only a published blogger online, but also in print; in Nebraska Writer’s Guild Anthology #5. I’m nearly there. What have you accomplished despite the odds? Be your own hero. You know you were braver than you ever thought for even five more minutes. Be safe out there. See you tomorrow, as we say goodbye to 2021.