The Last Day of January, 2023

If you live in Nebraska or any state north of there, you know what I’m talking about.

This morning, when I opened the inside door to let the dogs out, the combination door to the outside was frosted over. Not just on the glass, but on all the metal, too. It was about zero degrees out. And don’t touch it with wet fingers – or your tongue.

Yes, it’s that cold out. The possibility for frigid temps, snow, and bad weather exists for another couple of months. We have lots of things to take care of inside until springtime comes along. There are lots of books, projects, and writing to do.

For the first month of 2023, I made a decision for my future. The art/drawing/painting bug has been biting me since I went with my friend Lora last summer to see Van Gogh. I have not started yet, but hope to by March 1. February 1, I’m taking out my kid book again and begin to edit the long passages.

The hardest part of me with a kid book is to learn most parents don’t want a book to last more than about five minutes. They’re too busy to read. That makes me sad, but I can’t change that.

The quilts are coming along nicely. I am learning to accept the fact I only think I can finish things quicker than I do. It’s hard, but it’s better than driving myself crazy. It’s part of learning to accept ourselves. I have to accept every part of myself to let the creative vibes do their thing. The clearer my strong points become, the better to capitalize on them.

I am very much almost right on with my Goodreads Reading Challenge for 2023. I started Colleen Hoover’s, “All Your Perfects.” I’m about 1/3 way in so far, and I’m thinking it may only take a day or two to finish it. Some of her books are a little hard to follow; I think that was maybe because I was probably much older than her fans who read the books/trilogy. I’m guessing she also wrote these books earlier in her life. The combination could be why I had some difficulty being interested in the story about very young love, first apartments, first breakups.

I’ve repeatedly read about the more you read, the better you will write. I’m all for that. I do love to read. And learning all throughout life helps us create keys to different parts of ourselves. Some keys open doors we’d rather not open. They can stay closed. The keys that open doors to new adventures, new people, new discoveries. Those are the doors we want to open. They exist to enhance our lives. I think we all want to do this.

We need to stop talking ourselves out of living our dreams. Trying things we’ve always wondered if we could do or not. We are not too old. It is never too late. Start putting our dreams into action. It feels so good! Begin today! See you tomorrow.

Christmas Week, 12/23/2022

On this day, I want to wish my lifelong friend Kris Leavitt, Happy Birthday, as well as FESTIVUS FOR THE REST OF US!

Yesterday was the most frigid day since I can’t remember when. I want to say about 1983, maybe. We stayed in Wednesday night because of the icing that was happening, and were going to stay in yesterday. But we needed to deliver some things to the MVF warehouse. The Babe wanted to have lunch and go to the store. My to do list would have to wait.

I thought the store would be crowded. It wasn’t! A Christmas Miracle! The store staff was all very nice. That would be a tough job, along with anything retail this time of year. Those people all deserve a bonus, you know?

As I’ve said before, it is tough to be on this side of Christmas; a grown family and the littlest grandkids live far away, so it’s tougher to get into the spirit. The header photo is of our two great nieces, children of nephew & niece Alex and Megan. Their little girls, Kenna and Knox, are adorable. The header photo is the family Christmas card this year. While I was out at the dentist a couple days ago, I was remembering having kids that small at Christmas. It occurred to me those are the years Christmas is magical and fun. Having some memories? Me, too.

Come to think of it, I’m also remembering some other memories.

The year everyone had terrible colds, were cranky, had red faces and raw lips from being chapped in the cold temps; 1978; I was 8 months pregnant and miserable; the years we couldn’t afford anything, so I made a lot of gifts; the year we hosted dinner for 28 people. I made Swiss Steak and Baked Potatoes and it was perfect. I also cleaned up, did Santa, and all the Christmas Eve duties, while the kids’ dad went to bed. He was too tired to help. He was angry when the kids woke up at 6 a.m. the next morning. That’s what Christmas Day is about! No, I don’t miss the collateral memories that go with the little kids and an uncooperative husband.

Knowing Alex and Megan as I do, they will do things together, and be more excited than their little ones to wake up early. They will be patient and loving all day, too. The girls’ Aunt Ona will certainly do what an aunt does on Christmas, birthdays, Easter, and whenever the opportunity presents itself. Grandma Cindy and Grandpa Brad will enjoy every minute. Enjoy, Shuck Family! Merry Christmas. We love you all, and hope your memories are wonderful.

Of course, since we did the store and lunch yesterday, it was too late to start the tree. So, today is the tree. Photos tomorrow. Nothing like the last minute. When my kids were little, they always knew we had to wait until Grandma Tomasek’s birthday to put the tree up. December 7. It got a little earlier, December 1. Finally, when I divorced, and we had my house, we’d do it the day after Thanksgiving, when the boys would decorate the outside of the house. I miss those Christmases, too.

Take each of these moments during the Christmas present, and enjoy it as much as possible. The good and the bad. I look forward to the meal we’re hosting, and to seeing the family who are available. We are blessed, and grateful.

Have a great day today, stay warm, finish your shopping, and we’ll see each other tomorrow.

Election Thoughts

(NaNoWriMo Day 8. November 8, 2022)

Please don’t scroll past this; it’s not an ad, it’s not a plea to vote one way or another, it’s just some thoughts I’ve had about elections in general. And our freedom.

We all have our opinions and our own ideas of who we’re going to vote for. That’s not what this is about. It’s about other things to consider as we prepare to exercise one of our most important freedoms. The right to vote.

I’ve never understood why people don’t vote. The example we had growing up was people voted. We didn’t discuss politics at home, we just knew they voted. We didn’t have campaign signs in our yards, we just were aware. In 1960, when I was 8 years old, the nuns got involved in politics and practically swooned over John Fitzgerald Kennedy. He was young, progressive, and Catholic. No other Catholic man ever was elected to the office of President of the United States.

Joe Biden is only the second Catholic to be elected. There had always been such a bias against Catholics. Nearly all presidents have professed to be Christian. It kind of makes you wonder, doesn’t it? I do recall hearing conversations about Catholics taking the country over. There has never been a Jewish president of the United States. The closest we ever came was Barry Goldwater ran for President in 1964, but was beaten by Lyndon Johnson. I found that interesting.

In doing research, I had to ask if there’s ever been an atheist president of the USA? No, it appears the people wouldn’t support one. I’m not sure where we’re headed with that, it wouldn’t surprise me if we elected one in the future. Believing in God doesn’t guarantee you have morals or ethics. There are countless examples of presidents who were snakes in the grass, including Kennedy and Clinton. That disappoints me.

The meme in the header caught my eye and made me heartily agree with it. I don’t know who created it, but trust me, I’m about ready to give up at all the ads, the text messages (a new way to harass the voters), useless various sized postcards telling me to vote a particular way. There are numerous negative ads, and I’ve noticed, I think most of them are paid by the national parties. Several local candidates don’t do negative, and I may be more inclined to listen to their pitch because they don’t do negative. It’s hard to be a voter, and I’m sure it’s hard to be a candidate as well.

Do they not give us enough credit to have our own minds and choose who we feel is better? Probably not. I wish we weren’t at the mudslinging part, with just a couple days left. I’ve grown weary of previous presidents, candidates, and losers campaigning for everyone. And I’m just not sure a former pro football player can be a viable candidate. Perhaps he was convinced by the powers that be to be a distraction, not a real politician. There was a Robert Redford movie called “The Candidate,” and I remember seeing it, but don’t recall much of what it was about.

That aside, there are people selected and groomed to run. Think Sarah Palin/John McCain. Think Geraldine Ferraro/Walter Mondale. And then, of course, we have Hillary/Kaine. It’s amazing how our minds forget who came before. I could not remember Kaine’s name, and I mistakenly thought Geraldine Ferraro ran with Michael Dukaikas. Silly me! How quickly we forget who we made important choices for or against in prior years.

I truly don’t care which way you vote this election. I’m not encouraging one over another. My encouragement is to go the Polls and cast your ballot. You decide in your heart of hearts who is best. We will all have to live with our choice. I’m asking you also be respectful of the outcome.

We need to get back to that acceptance when things don’t go the way we want. I’m sad at all the ugliness we’ve seen in the past ten years or so. It’s not how the people behaved in the country my father, his brothers, my husband, and many friends defended. They defended your freedom to choose, let’s let them all know their sacrifices were worth it. Please. Don’t let them lose hope. Have a good rest of the day, and God Bless America. See you tomorrow.

Sunday, the Day of Rest

I sure took advantage of this today. Still not feeling the best, but did shower. I cannot remember when was the last time when I left pj’s on all day long. Two days in a row. I hope to dress tomorrow and work on quilt blocks again, when I feel human again.

There are terrible wildfires, wind, and extremely dry weather in Nebraska. I didn’t set foot outside again, thought the allergies and dust would rile my asthma, and I don’t need that. I hope it all stops; so many of the leaves were blown off trees, they didn’t fall. Isn’t that cheating? Don’t we get a recount?

I felt like I needed to read something, but wasn’t up to a book about writing or the historical novel I started. I settled on “More Busting Bad Guys,” by Mark Langan, retired OPD Sargent. He wrote a great first book about his cases on patrol and on narcotics. He was a good officer and a fair one. He retired and took a job with the Nebraska Humane Society, to monitor dogfighting, animal hoarding, etc. And now, he has actually retired. I suspect he may have another book or two.

I want to get myself well first; get organized and finish Kayla’s quilt, then prep for NaNoWriMo; and get started on Cody’s quilt. That takes care of November. See you around the 1st of December!

It appears WordPress changed the way they report followers. Imagine my surprise when a few days ago, they reported I fell from #985 followers to #512 followers! It appears they count the folks who follow on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Email, and WordPress, then add them together. I’m glad I didn’t get #473 people mad at me!

Going to hit another night of NyQuil, good sleep, and liquids. Take care of you, too, and we’ll see each other tomorrow.

Monday’s Creations

Somehow, the photo I wanted to use and talk about Monday Sunshine isn’t available. We can talk about it another day, but we’ll talk about Monday’s Creations, instead.

The header photo is one I saved from Facebook. A woodworker saved a triangle of all the knots that marred his pieces of wood, and created this cool sphere with all of them. I love it! What a collection!

I felt quite silly, putting a circle called a yo-yo on one of two quilt blocks, and I appliqued it upside down. It looked weird, but I kept going. I made some others for five other blocks, and realized they looked better on the side I sewed on. Oops! I applied them backwards. I removed the two that were sewn down, and put them on correctly. Much better! I’ve been sewing since about 1968. I never cease to amaze myself at the mistakes I can make. I laugh at them, and then change things around.

One thing I learned first with quilting. The pieces must be cut accurately, and the seams must be 1/4″. Nothing else will make it look like it should. Sewing clothing always has a fudge factor in it. Bigger or smaller seams are ok, depending on how you need it to fit yourself, or whoever you’re sewing for, and adjustments are welcome and necessary. Not so with quilting. Seams are not so forgiving.

I’m learning with writing things have changed dramatically from when in college (the 1980s), I took English Composition, Creative Writing, and some other course, and you could use flowery prose, lots of adverbs, and you were a writer. Not so much anymore. I’m glad I purchased Pro Writing Aid, a lifetime subscription. I don’t plan to stop anytime soon! We’ll get there. There are just too many things to create.

I have a Kindle that is over ten years old. Trying to figure out if it’s worth replacing. I love real books, but if I can spend $0.99 instead of $12.99 that could save me a ton of money. Until I decide, I may use the app on the good old Chrome Book to read. It’s big enough, and I could read in bed, so it might not be a bad idea to get a new Kindle. Or not. What do you all think?

Thanks, for your opinions. I value your time, and your following me. We have #980 + followers now, and will have more. Let’s get to #1000K! Help a girl out. Have a great evening. See you tomorrow.

Old(er) People

Should never be allowed in the kitchen. OK, well maybe never is too long a time to be banned. This morning, the Babe and I began our task of cooking 30 pounds of hamburger to make Sloppy Joes for the PTSD presentation/Talk Saves Lives Training the VFW Post 2503 is hosting on Sunday at noon. The Post is donating the lunch, and we’re doing the work at home to give the cook a break. They already have to cook for a Craft Fair tomorrow. Funny thing is, they’re making Sloppy Joes and Hot Dogs.

In South Dakota, the locals call Sloppy Joes “Bar-b-ques.” Isn’t that funny? Local differences, just like “soda” vs. “pop.” America is great, isn’t it?

So the browning of the hamburger went well, I had 3 large cans of crushed tomatoes and 3 large cans of tomato sauce. I pre-measured 3 separate cups that contained all the seasonings for each 10 pounds. Salt, Pepper, Smoked Paprika, Italian Seasonings, Garlic, Worcestershire Sauce, Sugar, and whatever else. All set. Then, the battle of the can openers happened. The header photo finds them poised for action. The white one, on the left, is the new Pampered Chef one, is specifically made to be used by those of us who have arthritis in our hands, fingers, and need a little assist. I like it because there are no more sharp edges on the can lid once it’s removed, like the one on the right creates while cutting.

The first can, no problem. In fact, the first five, no problem. Then the opener became a diva and wouldn’t cut the last can lid. The Babe tried it. Nope. It just doesn’t adhere to the can, you can feel it doesn’t engage, and therefore, doesn’t cut. I tell the Babe, “I did drop two cans, maybe this one is one of those.”

We decided to turn it upside down and try it on the bottom. Nothing. I picked it up, turned it right side up and there it went. The cut lid that looked intact gave way. And there went a 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes all over the counter top. Wow. I said a couple naughty words, and we started to move it off the counter top and into the pan, where it belonged. And that, boys and girls, is why older people shouldn’t be allowed in the kitchen. Don’t you agree?

We had a laugh or two, and kept cooking. I can hardly wait to start baking the nine boxes of brownies I get to do. It’ll be fine. Really, it will. There are no canned goods to open.

More from the book, “Wired for Story,”

Tone and Theme are stressed very early. So is the phrase, “It’s not what you say, but how you say it.” Have you ever known someone who can tell such great stories, jokes, and anecdotes they always have a crowd at their elbow? They’re the one we always want to be an emcee at our events, and maybe even give our eulogy at our funeral. They really know how to tell a great story. We can learn, with practice.

Another incredible thing I just learned – all story is emotion based. If you’re not feeling, you’re not reading, according to Lisa Cron. I get this. Have you ever read something very emotional for the protagonist, and you feel it, too, as you read? The author has done a good job.

Emotion determines the meaning of everything. If we’re not feeling, we’re not conscious. Most of us were taught emotion and logic were two opposite things. They are, but one must exist for the other to exist. I haven’t read further than this yet, and I hope to do so tomorrow, in between baking brownies. Who knows what madcap hijinks the Babe and I will engage in? I’m sure we’ll enjoy it, and have some good laughs. Have a great evening, see you tomorrow.

Happy Wednesday!

It was an early start at the Home Office in Gretna, Nebraska. It was zero dark thirty, I swear! The coffee was dark and strong, the cream sweet, and the conversation was good for it being 6 a.m. The Babe had an early appointment with the VA, so he had to leave super early. I was convinced all day it was Monday again. How does that happen?

I worked more on the quilt blocks for Kayla. I am having fun learning the stitches to applique the pieces down. I’ve missed the hum of the machine. My thoughts go to a creative world full of colors, shapes, textures, and all sorts of beautiful garments, quilts, and decor. The time just flies.

My goal is to have this quilt pieced and maybe layered and pinned for quilting. Then, cut out Cody’s blocks, pieces, appliques. Assemble it and quilt them both during October. AND get back to my children’s book, once the quilts are well in hand.

The month of November is NaNoWriMo. It is a stretch of 30 days dedicated to writing 50,000 words. This will be back on my novel. To prep for this, I’m reading the book, “Wired for Story.” It is about using brain science and writing to hook readers with the very first sentence. I think it sounds fascinating, and I hope to learn a lot from this 250 page book.

All of these ideas are how I plan to spend the next few months, creating, writing, quilting, and other things I love. I’m so fortunate to have interests I enjoy. I just don’t seem to have enough time to do everything I hope to see through to completion.

Hope you have a pleasant evening (It’s getting dark out by 7 p.m. here in Nebraska)! The temperature was 100 yesterday, and about 65 today. We’re looking towards the cooler days and finding more time to spend with each other. The Babe is heading towards his second retirement (From the VFW) in six or seven months. In the meantime, he’s going to do most of his work from home, and only be at the office when necessary. It’s going to be another change for us. At least we like each other (now!) See you tomorrow!

It’s a creative mess in here! I love it. Out of the chaos comes creations. Quilts, kid books, a novel, clothes.

I love the warning when the bobbin is about to run out!