February 1, 2023

Today is the beginning of the shortest month of the year. A Dad joke exists, that February isn’t the shortest month of the year – they ALL have 28 days. Nyuk, Nyuk, Nyuk. Yep, my dad had a million of them. How about yours?

Yesterday was a blessed day in the grand scheme of things. It was quite nerve-wracking, though. We awoke to news of two Omaha police officers being shot by a burglar at a storage facility; the unit, known to have guns and ammo, was a mark for burglary. Our concern was for the safety of the officers. They are both doing ok, one released, one requiring surgery.

Our concern was our neighbor Rosa. Rosa is an Omaha OPD officer. She is a such a wonderful human and often works the area the crime happened. Thankfully, it wasn’t her, and she is safe. She and her husband are both in law enforcement, and they introduced their children into participating in politics, particularly the last presidential election, and congressional race. I am amazed at this family. We are so lucky to have them for neighbors.

As if all that wasn’t enough, while we were feasting on Nachos for lunch, I saw our Target, which is where we shop a lot, frequently picking up grocery orders or in-store shopping, had an active shooter situation. Oh my gosh. It is too close to home. Too close to home everywhere it happens.

Within six minutes, all law enforcement from the city of Omaha, and nearby towns and counties responded, and the suspect was dead. No one else is injured. I am grateful I was not inside the store, witnessing anything, and especially not being injured or killed. It’s a hard word to say, much less have to think. Killed. Thank God for the response. I am grateful we live in a part of the state where there is a lot of law enforcement, ready to act and keep us safe.

I know there are many corrupt police officers in the country now committing horrible crimes against people. Excessive force is often deadly and not warranted. This is not the case today, in Omaha, Nebraska. And for that, I am grateful. I hope you are all safe in your home, school, and shopping areas. Take care and we’ll 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.

Abraham Lincoln Said:

I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true. I am not bound to succeed, but I am bound to live up to the light I have.”

What’s your definition of success? Some believe a fancy car, home, and designer clothes are the ticket. As many definitions of success exist as to the number of people who populate the earth. Fame, money, or fame and money are all fleeting. Sometimes the people we know are also fleeting as our fame or wealth diminish. Was it really what we wanted? Not now.

Nothing guarantees we will be winners or succeed. We need to be true to who we are and what we believe, and we are bound to shine whatever light we have in every nook and cranny of darkness ahead. Speaking our own truths and being who we really are is important; we also need to project our light into the universe out from us. It could be just what someone else out there needs to hear.

Giving of ourselves beyond ourselves is the ultimate in giving. And being a giver is to be successful. Of course, we need to be givers to be good citizens, humans, Christians, and fulfill what God created us for.

I am a volunteer with the VFW, Moving Veterans Forward, Guitars for Vets, 50 Mile Walk, and other organizations. I believe in their purpose, which is to serve our veterans. We send young people to training to fight and we expect them to just fit into life when they come home like they never left, saw the things they’ve seen, or done the things they’ve done. Founder of Moving Veterans Forward, Ron Hernandez, has said, “I wouldn’t leave you on the battlefield and I won’t leave you alone when you get home.”

I am inspired by the generosity I see from these organizations. It also inspires me to see the good they do. It’s what we’re supposed to do for each other. Care. Tend. Lend a hand. What could be more Christian or American than that? It’s the best of what there is on earth. More about our volunteer work later.

I hope you have a warm rest of the weekend, enjoy the big game tomorrow, and know we’ll see each other tomorrow. Thank you.

Self-Defeating Behavior

It’s that time of year again. No, not autumn, but the daily reading today reminds me of some classic Adult Children of Alcoholics abilities – to see such doom and gloom into our futures we likely don’t want to think about the future. Some of us in the family have learned that’s no way to live, yet others still persist. Let me assure you, it’s much better on the positive side of this trait.

We quote Mark Twain as saying, “I am an old man and I have known many troubles, but most of them never happened.” Read that again. I’ll wait. And again if you need to. We have imaginations that blow the wheels off our positivity trains. This is the classic shooting yourself in the foot behavior. We destroy our plans before we even begin with them. Whatever it is, we derail our voyage and wallow. I’d venture a guess 99% of these terrible troubles never happen. We just defeated ourselves.

People do it all the time. It doesn’t matter if it’s creativity or writing a book or everyday life. Stop it! We need to keep a positive attitude, knowing that is half the battle sometimes. Within ourselves. No monster out there can sabotage us as well as we can. We can spend out lives dreading that which doesn’t exist and very possibly never will. Think about that. The moral of this story?

Don’t Borrow Trouble From Tomorrow.

Having human natures, we can’t help but act like them. I do have some dread with dealing with some people, usually unfounded. The dysfunctional people who are still in my life either behave like they usually do or they surprise me. Sometimes the dread is warranted, sometimes it isn’t. Gas-lighters can surprise you at times; never enough to trust them again. Just be smart.

On a much brighter note, we spent the evening with family again last night. Dinner was fabulous. The kids are so fun. And a handsome lot.

From left; Joell, Addison, Gavin. Joell has turned into a young man. No more kid left in either him or Addison. Gavin may have a time left, but not much yet! Can you tell they’re all quite comfy in front of the camera? These may be the most photographed kids in the world. And I get to be their bonus Grandma. What a lucky woman I am. Do you have any bonus grands, or nieces/nephews/etc.? We enjoy spending time with our future!

Day #3 with Beastly allergies is off to a better start. I’m hoping for some rest later after a visit with Mom and her new occupational therapist. It’ll be busy and crazy for Mom, then we’re planning a trip to Hobby Lobby next week. She considers it a must for her annual Christmas decorating marathon. She will likely supervise this year. Whatever makes her happy at this point.

I hope you enjoy your day. Do something kind for someone. Give a hug to someone who needs one. You get one, too! Thanks for being here, and see you tomorrow.

Preach it, Sistah! (Or Don’t!)

I remember growing up, Mom would often go on tirades about different things. She still does. By now, we all know she hates the telephone. She hates interruptions. She hates Telemarketers. She hates anyone interrupting her day. She hates the answering machine. She hates the “money mongers” on PBS. She hates reruns of Julia Child. She hates old people. She hates old men. She hates asking for help. She hates not having help. She believes in her heart it’s venting. Oh Mom. No. It’s bitching. What’s happening that’s good?

God, please help me to not do that. It’s such a blessing when you visit with another human who can tell you what they love. Especially when you repeat it multiple times a year. No, she won’t change. My brothers and I have to cope with the negativity. Now, if something is truly wrong, we respond quickly. It’s hard to decipher actual issues from complaining. We all know plenty of people who are negative. Usually negativity comes from fear. Fear of what could happen. But it hasn’t yet. Too much time in your own head can make a lot of fear and negativity surface. Old habits die hard. Fear makes us hold on to them. Just because we’ve always done it “this way.”

How is that? Like our elders? All politicians are crooks. Insurance companies are all scammers. No one can touch my remote control. I don’t even use it. You’ll mess up the tv. Leave it alone. I’ll wait until someone comes over to ask about the dripping faucet. “You never would let me hold you when you were a baby.” Sorry, Mom. I have no explanation for you about that. I was a baby!

All I can say is this. Rather than complaining about everything under the sun that’s ever happened, try kindness, instead. We all respond more to kindness than we do to barrages of constant complaints, warranted or not. We can direct the conversation in a more positive direction. We can all try that. If I ask you how you are, it sets a better mood to say, “I’m grateful to have woke up today,” rather than, “Well, I’m still here.” We could preach to the other person. Or we could respond with our own positivity instead. If they insist on doom and gloom, we have to let them be. When it affects us, we can withdraw from the conversation. Steer it elsewhere. For your sake. If they persist, cut your visit short. Don’t carry their gloom with you. Pray for them. It’s the gracious thing to do.

As a kid, I thought I was responsible for cheering Mom up. It did no good. I didn’t realize I thought this way until I felt so sorry for her when no one but me and my family were present for holiday dinners. She’d always dreamed we’d all have spouses and tons of kids. She had the perfect dining room, table, and chairs for it. It never happened. My presence didn’t matter. It was her ideal to handle, not mine.

During the “lean years” I was a single mom, I started consciously finding something to be glad about, especially if the car broke down, the water main broke in the dead of winter, the dryer stopped working, you know what I mean. You live through those things. It’s not convenient, but you make it through somehow. Every unfamiliar noise in an old car, you can bet will turn into something. Luckily, Dad taught me to listen to the noises, try to figure out where they came from, and to describe them to the mechanic. In later years, I had a great garage to go to. West Center Automotive, on 90 & Center, before HyVee built there. Jim was his name. The kids had older cars, too. Sometimes, it’d be an expensive repair. I’d call to see if the car was ready.

Jim would ask, “Are you sitting down?”

I’d say, “Is there a comma in the amount?”

He’d laugh and tell me the amount.

I’d always say, “That’s not as bad as it could be.”

He knew my situation, and I had a lot of trust in him and his sons, who worked for him. A pleasant exchange with another person lightened my load. Had it been otherwise, I would have feared everything that “might” happen. I just don’t want to live that way. It’s not to say I don’t expect some things. I do. I just don’t let it ruin my day. Things happen. To everyone. Not just us.

If, through all the negativity we hear all day, you have had enough, it’s time to do the one thing we all can do. That’s to display a live-and-let-live attitude. You’ll feel calmer, centered, more positive, and people will enjoy your company. Most things are none of our business. I want the loudest sermons to be how we live our lives at the Home Office, here in Gretna, Nebraska. I’ll pray we all get there. Join me.

Thanks for reading today. We’ll see you again tomorrow, and we’ll be grateful to God for waking us up again. Life is so full of wonderful things! Let’s focus on what goes on around us. Approach life with gratitude, kindness, humility, and calmness. You’ll see a tremendous change in everything. Be Safe out there!