Wonderful Weekend

Despite being a day off on Friday’s tickets for Ugly Sweater Christmas Soiree, we had such a nice weekend. Everything from a 75th birthday party, to a play written by kids, to a quiet Saturday, to a cookie exchange and a baby shower today, with many, many hugs, good wishes, and memories in between. How blessed we are!

The Baby Shower was for a young lady we watched grow up at our last home. Jen and Tom lived across the street and over a couple houses, so we saw them often and visited as neighbors do. Their little girls (about 3 & 4 at the time), would walk their well-trained labs. There were these little blonde dolls, holding slackened leashes, with giant labs on the ends of them. Their dad (who followed closely behind) trained these dogs so well, you could take them anywhere, and the dogs never ran off, jumped, or were badly behaved. They were fun to watch.

Jayden and Caliegh, are typical sisters. Teasing, fighting, loving, and defending each other while growing up. And now, Caleigh is about to make her older sister an aunt. They are excited, over the moon, and so happy. This will be such a loved baby. I cannot wait to see photos. It was just wonderful to be with those girls and their parents today. I am reminded how exciting it is waiting for a baby. Caleigh and her husband are in the Army, and have until 2024 to serve. They will do just great. It’s nice to know how the girls are doing (and their parents) and keep in touch with them all. We are blessed to have such friends.

The Babe is at a cookie exchange today with other family. It is carrying on in the Riedmann tradition, now taken over by the Lackovic family. The Babe is representing us there this afternoon, as we needed to be in two places at once. It’s nice to keep up that tradition, since Louie passed away this year. There is a new little Lackovic, who is named Louie, after his great grandpa. How very perfect. Little fella has some big shoes to fill. He comes from good stock, he’ll do well.

Life always goes on, doesn’t it? It’s comforting to know that, isn’t it? The best any of us can do is adjust, and continue on. We are blessed.

As we get ready to celebrate the beauty of Christmas and the clean slate of a new year, the Babe and I are reevaluating a lot of things. While the ending of our time at the VFW, we are re-thinking a lot of things. Tomorrow is the first time for the Babe volunteering with Moving Veterans Forward with Ron Hernandez. We will be spending our time differently than before, volunteering directly to benefit veterans.

I will finish those quilts for the grandkids in Colorado. For the rest of the winter, we’ll spruce up parts of the house we’ve neglected for a while. I’ll get back to my kids book editing, and the re-organizing of my office/studio. The list is long, and will be thorough. Dust off the cobwebs and clear the closets. It’s time. And I look forward to all of it. We can only guess at how 2023 will unfold. None of us know. I know it will be filled with love. I know it will have some heartache in it. It always does.

Take care of yourselves; you longtime friends, you McGuigan Arts Academy kids, you folks from the old neighborhood, you folks expecting a new baby and new homes, you folks decorating cookies and raising your babies. You have all made us believe in life again. You all fit in our lives and give it meaning. We can only hope we do the same for you. Let’s travel this highway on the next leg, the next year. See you again tomorrow.

An Action Packed Monday

Wow, this lady is quite tired after traveling a lot of ground today. It’s 8 p.m., and have been on the go since 10 a.m.

Met with a friend for coffee this morning. Haven’t done that in a long time and it was great. I’m gathering more creative friends as time goes on, writers, musicians, poets, artists, and I’m loving it. It makes life interesting and full of possibilities.

Mom had therapy again today. Not sure if she’ll go many more times, and I’m sure she’s glad about that. She’s still not compliant with footwear. I just don’t have the energy to argue with her. She doesn’t hear what the provider says, and fills in her own blanks as to what her instructions are. I hope when I’m elderly I follow directions. I do now, I don’t see that changing. Hope I don’t cause my kids a headache.

My new book to read is “Vacuuming in the Nude and Other Ways To Get Attention.” It’s by Peggy Rowe, Mike Rowe’s mother. She is my new hero. She had two New York Times bestsellers after turning 84. I’m a child of 70, so I’m stoked! How about that? I’m looking forward to reading some humor right now.

If I had to write an essay about how I spent my summer, I’d have to say a resounding “inside!” I find that sad. We had such a terribly hot summer this year, it didn’t feel as if we had much deck time at all. Sunday, we enjoyed a couple hours out there, and I realized how much I missed it. We just don’t spend as much time like we used to. It’s so terribly busy for the Babe doing Honor Guard Captain, funerals, and his Quartermaster duties. I’ll be glad when he’s finished with his elected term and his volunteer position. I hope we have a lot of spare time. I’d like to take a surprise day trip here and there just for fun. Tulips in spring, leaves in fall, Baker’s Candies when the fancy strikes us.

The Babe has an appointment tomorrow afternoon to get his eyes checked again. He went six months ago, and got new lenses, so we’ll see what happens tomorrow. I hope you have a nice evening, and we see each other tomorrow. Take care!

The World Has Lost, Again.

Yesterday, another call came we were expecting, but of course, hoped would never come.

Our friend passed away yesterday from ALS. Janet Lorentzen Nichols, friend to everyone, and my strong supporter when I was divorced (and before) succumbed to this horrible disease. Her husband, Don, was with her constantly the last months, as she slipped from walking to bedridden, talking to silence, and into a semi coma. By luck, I stopped and saw her Friday, telling her goodbye with a kiss on her forehead. Don is a rock, but a realist. Being a retired Firefighter, a Battalion Chief for the OFD, he knew the steps a body makes toward death. He called me Saturday afternoon. I didn’t expect it that quickly, but I was glad for all of them, her pain and fight was over. And now, ours begins.

Who is included in the group ours?

Don, her husband of over 50 years; her sisters (she was the baby in the family), numerous family members, nieces, nephews, in-laws, her two sons and their families, her daughter and her family; and lastly, but in abundance, all the friends she had. It would not surprise me if she, as an individual, touched thousands of lives during her lifetime.

I met her in 1980, as we had kids the same ages. Frankie and Janice (different grades in school), Nick and Donnie, Becky and David. We became fast friends. Back then, there were not many stay-at-home Moms in our aging neighborhood. The houses and long-time residents were all younger than we are now, so it was great to add a young woman as a friend, for both of us.

We added sidekick Kathy Snell along the way. Kathy babysat a bunch of children, and was mine when I got divorced and starting working. She and Janet were besties as I lost touch, moving into a different neighborhood and world. In those couple of years, between 1980 and 1982, we walked our babies hundreds of miles in their strollers as the older ones walked; spent time at the then-new Lynch Park at 23 & Martha Streets in South Omaha, made countless Zoo visits with picnics, made hundreds of peanut butter & jelly sandwiches together for the kids as we visited, talked, and solved the world’s problems. It was good to have a friend my age. It was a blessing to have Janet as a your friend.

We reconnected in about 1995, after a motorcycle accident took their son-in-law Dan and critically injured Janice. It was the day of Donnie’s high school graduation. It was also my birthday. I saw it in the newspaper, a little blurb on an obscure page, and my heart went to the family. They have endured so much as a couple, a family, and grandparents.

Two things stand out in my memories of Janet. First, she could talk faster than any other human being on earth. And never take a breath. I was still horribly shy then, so if and when she did take a breath, I’d add my two cents, then she’d continue, talking and setting the Guinness World’s Record for human speech. I believe she could out talk an auctioneer at a livestock show.

Second, Janet loved to cook. As the kids grew up, she worked as a lunch lady for the school systems. She would get to know the kids in line, many having her love and concern because she was that way. She loved you and was concerned. I’m sure some may have never had someone love them just for existing. She loved making food, sharing it, and showing her love with it. Those lucky kids. Hot lunch every day made by someone who put love in as the main ingredient. We were all lucky.

Later, she worked in Douglas County Child Support Enforcement. She learned Spanish so she could help people who did not speak English as their primary language. That is love and dedication, at work. That was how Janet lived her life; serving others. What a good friend, woman, and citizen.

As my the Babe and I sat on the deck this morning, the clouds came, a brief shower, clouds parted and eventually, it became sunny. Now it’s extremely hot. I thought about Janet and her first morning in heaven. I wonder what that was like. She’s probably not finished yet with all the reunions, and I’m sure she’s asking God all of her questions. All of them.

When we heard the cardinals singing, the Babe and I looked at each other. She was telling us to be sad, but don’t stay that way. Grieve, but keep living. As all of us left here without her, let’s tell all our Janet stories to each other. There are some great ones, I know. As long as we keep her spirit alive, she’s still with us. And that’s how it’s supposed to be. We don’t tell stories or blog to get attention for ourselves, but to honor the lucky one in this situation – Janet Nichols. RIP. Thank you for being our friend.

Reminiscing. Class of 1970.

For the first time today, I went to the First Friday of the Month Luncheon for my graduating class. There were enough to fill one long table @ Sortino’s Pizzaria. Pizza pleases everyone, so why not? It was great fun to sit and listen to people I knew from school all those years ago.

And, since I was introverted, I felt some of that today. It’s hard for me to talk about what I’ve done with my life. Thanks to be homie Gwen for mentioning I’m a writer. The thing of it is, though, I want to continue getting to know these people, who all took time out of their lives to gather and remember. The end of the month, we have a guided tour of the new public school built on the property our school occupied. It should be a good time, then food and beverages later, with everyone who wants to attend. I do want to see the school, it’s an opportunity to see what goes on now in a school. Looking forward to it.

Relationship building is important to me. It’s even more important at this part of life; our seventh decade on this planet, still learning how to maneuver through this crazy thing called life. Whatever you choose to put in front of you as the driving force for your existence, select and do it. Volunteering for a reputable organization is important to the Babe and me. The VFW Post 2503, one who has survived the closures so far, is the main one. Through work there, we met the folks at Guitars for Vets, Moving Veterans Forward, and 50 Mile March. A group of top notch people, who are committed to bettering the lives of our brave veterans who are suffering from homelessness and/or PTSD. Help is there, and we feel committed to promote it.

I’ve resumed Hello Fresh meals this week. We took a little time off from their delivery to use up the Omaha Steaks package of meat we won at a raffle. It was a little weird to cook with our own ingredients again, but I could get used to it. There is something about not having to walk the aisles in the store that I’m happy to give up, the loading the car, unloading the car, putting everything way. I’d be exhausted after each trip to the store. I can use the extra couple hours a week to write, or read about writing. It’s turned into my “life.”

So the kid’s book is out for review by a couple people, and I’ve gotten some pretty good feedback so far. It’s coming along. This weekend will be for working on my crochet project for me (part 2 arrived this week, so I need to get moving); normal blogging and stuff; and putting more things from my old sewing machine cabinet away in their new places. More nostalgia to come.

Visit with old friends and make new ones. Whatever separated us in high school is over long ago. We forge ahead in this life, learning, improving, and loving more as we go along. Remember that as you go about your weekend. Take care of you, too. And we’ll see each other tomorrow.

Tuesday’s Trips Around Town

What a beautiful Tuesday morning from the Home Office in Gretna, Nebraska. Wow, it’s not supposed to break 90 degrees today. What a shocker! This is a summer cold front in Nebraska; 88 degrees predicted for a high. Blessings.

I have to say, some days the daily meditations of my book “Days of Healing, Days of Joy, Meditations of Adult Children,” really hits is out of the park. (The NCAA College World Series in is Omaha yet again, as it has been since the 1950s, plus I love baseball!) Today it had a quote by Montaigne. Who is that?

Montaigne was a philosopher of the French Reniassance. He popularized the essay as a literary genre (who knew?) He was admired more as a statesman than an author. His quote was:

“Marriage may be compared to a cage: the birds outside despair to get in and those within despair to get out.

Some people believe, “If only I were married, I would be happy.” This is not true. I can tell you, if you’re married to the wrong person, you will not be happy. Some people believe if only they were married, they would not be lonely. Wrong again. If a relationship isn’t right for you, you will be lonely.

If a marriage is healthy, it can be a mighty hedge against loneliness. If not, it can be the container for many, many problems, issues, and misery. The quest for happiness has not one thing to do with your marital status: it has to do with your own self-esteem. If you are working on your faults and deficiencies, and have learned to think well about yourself, there is no limit to the happiness you can achieve: married or not.

It’s been a hard day. I love visiting with old friends, even those who are quite ill now. I will not abandon them. They mean too much to me. Yes, it’s not fun to see their deterioration, but I will not desert them. Tomorrow will be easier. Lunch with a longtime friend from elementary school and her husband. It’ll be a great day.

Have a beautiful evening, and we’ll visit again tomorrow. Blessings on you and your families. Keep them close. You just never know.

First Step: Resist Temptation

We’ve talked many times about breaking bad, unproductive habits.

I’m reigning my life in again, lots to create, only so many hours in the day to do things. Yesterday, we spent a couple hours with Gavin and his family at the ballpark again. It was hot, but not bad. There was a slight breeze, we drank a lot of water, and it was good. We stopped and had pizza on the way home. The header photo is our view from the deck yesterday morning, during coffee. I love it!

I’m tickled with my promise to me and you to start on my grandkids’ quilts for Christmas gifts. Yes, it’s early, but they take a lot of time. And it’s a perfect way to get used to my new Brother sewing machine. So last night, I took the envelopes with the first two sets of blocks. They’re from JoAnn’s Fabric Store. I decided to hand applique, so took the steps necessary to cut out the pieces with freezer paper adhered. Maybe I’ll take pictures later so non-quilters can see what I mean. It’s a start, and I’m happy about that.

This morning was the true test. The Babe left just after zero dark thirty to get to the Post and load the blank ammo into the rifles for the Honor Guard this morning, then load the rifles in the car for transport with some of the guys to Omaha National Cemetery.

It’s already hot and humid, but cooler and less humid than where we’re headed today. Took the watering can and dogs out, watered the flowers on the patio, played with the dogs a bit. When I came back inside, the national news was on. I just can’t tolerate hearing any more speculation about shootings, riots, and all the other stuff. I think we’re in a pretty frightening era. I flipped to the guide on the remote. Ahhhh. Chicago PD. All day long.

Without the promise I just made to the world, I would have plopped down and vegged out for awhile. But I resisted. Sounds silly, but I’m so proud! I’m really doing this! It takes baby steps to get started, and I’m there. It’s only Monday, but here we are. It is progress. And that’s a lot in breaking bad habits that waste time.

Coincidentally, a Facebook Virtual Quilting Group I’ve been part of for years, has dwindled down, not meeting every Wednesday as we used to. To honor a beautiful soul, Vickie W Calkins, we have decided to start meeting again. Vickie passed away unexpectedly last week. She had such a big heart, both for people and our pets. When we lost both of our dogs (we had them cross the Rainbow Bridge together; they had always been together and they were both ill), she sent me a couple of beautiful keepsakes; coffee mug and a necklace with paws on it. She was that kind of person. We will miss her.

This really speaks to the good of social media. A group of 91 women from many different places, forming in 2012 (I think) and forming friendships, exchanging quilting knowledge, and even recipes. I’ve made some good friends. We’ve shared victories, losses, ill health, and lots of life’s gifts. Another very sweet woman, Jan Kutschinski, suggested we make it a point to become active again, to honor Vicki. I think it’s a great idea.

One of the things I’ve discovered in life is God sends me messages about what I should be doing. I believe Jan’s idea for THE Virtual Quilting Bee to become active again is one of those messages. I’ve been wanting to dedicate a day to quilting for a long time. Now I’ll actually do it. Thanks, Jan. And Vicki. Motivation comes from many places. Check your life! You’ll see some, too. Sandy Long, founder of our group, thanks to you, too. Because of all of this, I’ll get more of my creativity back.

And now, I have to get going on other household stuff before it’s too hot to water the flowers outside, straighten out a few things, and get started on that quilt. It will be a very productive Monday. Stay hydrated today, folks. It’s beastly outside, and should be over 100 degrees with high humidity several times the next week or two. Welcome to summer in Nebraska. Check on your elderly, young kids, and yourselves. Heat Stroke is no joke. Be safe. See you tomorrow!

Shiny, Happy, New Monday!

After the last month being schedule-crazy, I have the entire week free until Friday. Mom goes to the eye doctor then. I am free to add in whatever I want to do. I am visiting a couple friends from way back in the late seventies. I’m looking forward to it.

Until visiting later today, I’m going back to writing first thing in the morning. The day is far more productive. Friends, we cannot often gauge how quickly we’ll change a bad habit. It is said it takes 21 days. So be it. It should take me until around my birthday to make progress towards changing the bad habits I’ve fallen back to.

I’m grateful to go visit friends who have played an important part in my independence as a single Mom. Janet babysat my kids whenever I needed her. I’ve always been grateful for that. Our friend Kathy was my main sitter, and Janet helped whenever she could. Her husband Don was an Omaha firefighter who offered support and encouragement when he could. I love the fact we’ve remained friends all these years later. As a couple, they’ve always been first to offer help. Good people, we need more like them.

None of us knows what our future holds. Health or illness? Work or rest? Gains or losses? The older I become, the more I know things can change so quickly. In 1995, I went from being healthy and basically fit to nearly being bedridden in one short week. A tumor in my spinal canal was crushing the spinal cord. The pain was something I will never forget.

The weather was chilly and drizzly yesterday. We enjoyed Netflix and meals from HelloFresh. I enjoy cooking so much more with tastier food. Let me know if you’d like to receive a complimentary box. No joke, there are no strings attached. Let me know by FB Messenger what your email address is. Thank you!

I’m going to organize some stuff, then visit my friends. It’s a hot summer day according to the forecast. I’d appreciate some more spring non-windy days, but I’ll take what we can get. Have a beautiful day and we’ll see each other tomorrow.

Sunny Saturday

It’s a cold but beautiful sunny day in Gretna, Nebraska today. The Home Office has sunlight streaming through the entire house. It also smells like delicious home made chocolate chip cookies and brownies, our contribution to a birthday party later for our friend, Lou Riedmann. His daughters and son are celebrating large this year, with the family welcoming all of us.

We found out early this morning our other friend, Jay Donoho passed away in Oklahoma. He was a friend through the VFW. He moved away after his wife Teri died, and we’ve kept in touch with him through messaging, FB, and phone calls. We were hopeful he would move back to Omaha someday, and he would have made a good Post Commander. He will be buried in Omaha with his wife, Teri, at the Omaha National Cemetery. She was young and passed from cancer, Jay did, too. Complications were too much for him. Sad to know he is gone, too.

In reading back on some postings Jay did over the years, it tells me we didn’t know our friend well enough. His wife was ill during most of the time he lived in Omaha, and most of the conversation was driven by how we could help support Teri and him, and recently by his health. He loved scuba diving; he and Teri made many trips and had beautiful photos. He loved his mom, kids, Jesus, and the Air Force (in any order). He will be missed by many. It’s just sad, the more we lose, the harder it is some days. It happens as we get older. Part of life.

I broke many Keto rules early today, by eating cookie dough but it was so worth it. I can start again. Weight was gained over December and is stable, those 10 pounds are now 7, and we’re going in the right direction. We are having a variety of soups, appetizers, desserts, etc. tonight. It should be a good time. What do you have planned for the rest of the day? I hope you enjoy your people today and tomorrow. Be safe out there, and we’ll see each other tomorrow.