Fab Friday!

Good Morning!

I’m hoping to make a big dent in grandson Cody’s quilt today. I’m pretty excited about how it’s taking shape, these are the middle blocks:

What we have here are sixteen different dogs. The big rectangles have the nose on them, you can see the body below and the ear in the air. I’m happy to be able to create something like this, even though it’s a pattern created by someone else. This is still a creative endeavor because all of these fabrics are mine, from my stash. I find myself feeling a lot of happiness while stitching the rows, pressing the seams, arranging the blocks. It’s mesmerizing and magical, all at once.

I feel the same way after writing something I feel good about. My kid book will be short(er) and sweet. Teaching children about grief and loss is hard, but so necessary. If we don’t learn to cope with both of these, we will not have a balanced life. It isn’t all good and happy. Sometimes, it’s bad and sad to cope with. But it’s part of all of our realities. The sooner we learn this, the better.

How about you? Do you remember how old you were when you experienced loss to your family? Do you remember how your family handled it? Let’s compare notes. It will help me construct a better story. I want to tell the truth. It will help children learn. And how to learn to deal with life.

Tell me what you think. Do you need help sharing life’s hard realities with children? Kids are stronger than we think. The truth is better than no information. Thank you for reading today. Have a wonderful Friday and see you tomorrow.

Goodreads 2022 Challenge.

Many folks belong to this Challenge, and I find it kind of fun. I’m not sure if I’ve ever reached my goal or not, but I’m close this year. I’m searching Raabe Ranch for all my half read books, the ones I’m just not into, don’t care much about, or just got interested in something else before finishing. Call me fickle, but I do have a pile of books I’ve classified as “reading.” Some things have to age, you know?

Kind of like the fifteen year quilt kit I’m finally working on; kind of like all the small kits I bought to make sequin appliqued Christmas stockings for the Babe, me, and all the dogs we’ve had; and yes, like all the yarn, fabric, embroidery projects, yet to be done. Where there is breath, there is hope. Yes, there is.

I only projected I’d read 24 books this year. Two a month seemed reasonable. What have I read?

It Ends With Us, Ugly Love, My Life With Karma, Bird by Bird, 30 Red Dresses, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, Walk Me Home, Ticker Tape, Where the Crawdads Sing, Senile Squad: Adventures of the Old Blues, Enchantress of Numbers, Grateful American: A Journey from Self to Service, Vacuuming in the Nude: And Other Ways to Get Attention, The Gown, Nobody Will Tell You This But Me, November 9, More Busting Bad Guys: True Crime Stories of Cocaine, Cockfights, and Cold-Blooded Killers, The Granddaughters, Your Story is Your Power, The Price of Admission: Embracing a Life of Grief and Joy, and The Soldier’s Guide to PTSD: A No Sh*t Guide to Reclaiming Your Life.

The PTSD one is something I found on Kindle. It caught my eye when looking at books about PTSD for my Peer Support Training Class, which ended December 2. After 60 hours of training, Mark and Will and I are Peer Support Specialists. It’s inspiring and intimidating at the same time. God will guide us through this, and I feel good about the connections we’ve made. A new way to start 2023, with the PSS designation after my name.

After learning about Veterans Issues in a short course, I’m intrigued by many subjects related to what we’ve studied. It probably wouldn’t look too good right now, looking at the books I’m browsing and looking at; Suicide, Veteran Suicide, PTSD, Military Families, and many others. I want to help. If the Babe and I can do it together, so be it. We will be engaging with people from Moving Veterans Forward and 50 Mile March on a regular basis, and Guitars for Vets, too.

We’ve ended our volunteer work at VFW Post 2503. The Babe is training his successor at Quartermaster. We want to work closer to the Veterans themselves, and have found a way to do it. 2023 will be a wonderful, fulfilling year.

What are you reading now? Do you keep track of how many books you read every year? Do you keep track of the titles to avoid repeating them?

Friday – Day Two

I dutifully packed my trusty Chromebook in my CUBS backpack this morning. Traffic was much lighter today since there was no fog. When I was still commuting to work at Mutual of Omaha, I lived in northwest Omaha, and traveled down Dodge Street every day. It was about a ten or fifteen minute commute. It was pretty easy. There was not any big disruption except for road construction. They chopped up the asphalt overlay up every year, and it was a mess. Not a big deal. After witnessing the immediate aftermath of a terrible accident yesterday, I’m grateful I didn’t have to do the interstate to work every day during my career.

Today, I’ve listened to speakers about writing a strong heroine; using wise cracks, banter, humorous retorts, and smart assery in dialogue. The presentations have been very good. There was also a session on starting newsletters. Not sure if I need one? Blogging usually covers what a newsletter would. I’ll have to think about that one. I suppose I’d blog less? It would be more time to write on projects. Hmmmm. There are some decisions to make for sure.

This afternoon, I’ll learn about building conflict that captivates the readers; I’ll be able to fix the sagging middle; and learn about the lies characters tell themselves. How enlightening! I went home last night tired and still excited. I just love this stuff.

I’m making space in my life to take part in writing more, and the other creative endeavors I love. Spring always makes me want to get my hands in the potting soil, put the plants out, cut out a hand-sewing project, and sit outside on either on the deck or the patio. It’s time, boys and girls. This summer will have a bunch of creative fun!

With the number of people in our lives who have passed away in the last two years, and the people who have experienced dramatic changes in their health situations, I don’t want to miss my opportunity. No regrets. Let’s see each other again tomorrow. Looking forward to Day 3! Be safe out there.

The Hawk. Insomnia. Messages.

I’ve been awake since probably 3 a.m. Yes. 3 a.m. I am still not tired yet at 7 a.m. A quick nap this afternoon will be in order. I woke when the Babe got up to use the restroom, as dudes in their 70s often need to do at night. Lexie was sleeping between us and she stood to circle around and lie down again. She moves until she bumps into any body part on me, then she sighs. It’s kind of nice.

While lying in bed, willing myself back to sleep, my first conscious thought again was the hawk from a few days ago. Here’s that article. Yes, I feel it was a message to urge me to free up time to do the things I want to do – writing, quilting, creating. The hawk, a symbol of honesty and clear vision, came to me in the very spot my friend Rick Tiger said we’d sit and write a song this summer when he and his wife would travel to Omaha to do another show at the VFW. Sadly, Rick contracted COVID and passed away last October.

In the early morning fog of waiting for the coffee to finish brewing, it occurred to me. The hawk may have been Rick. He encouraged me to write, and that is what I intend to do. I am amazed. It’s what I’m working towards, that very thing. And the hawk appeared above me where we were to write the song we talked about. I’m tagging his wife, Joyce, in this blog. Joyce, Rick is still working, isn’t he? I’m grateful for the prompt he asked God to send to me. It’s a gift! Thanks, Rick!

Tonight, the Babe and I are going to the kick-off meet and greet for the first Bombshell Patriots of Nebraska Conference. I’m proud to be part of this event and am eager to hear the speakers tomorrow. They are all very accomplished women. I cannot wait to learn from them. It should be a great weekend. Check them out on Facebook, Bombshell Patriots. They’re in Colfax, Iowa. Their website is: http://www.bombshellpatriots.org.

Should be a great conference.
It will be an honor to hear these women speak and meet them.

I won’t be able to blog until late tomorrow evening, so we will see each other tomorrow. Thank you for reading, stay safe, and have a beautiful evening.

Thursday Things

It is currently a whopping zero degrees at the Home Office in Gretna, Nebraska. Wow. That’s not the wind chill factor, it’s the actual temp. I’m sure the wind chill would be much colder. Great day to sit, watching Rachael Ray while letting Lexie sit with me while I decide what we’ll do today. It’s the best part of each brand new day. Full of potential. Chock full of possibilities. Ways to make progress. A blank slate, so to speak.

We had a wildly successful Hamburger Night last night at the VFW. It amazes me how many people will brave the cold to get out and join us for a meal. It’s hard to know how many to plan for on days like yesterday. Luckily, there is a full service grocery store across the street, so if we need, there are more fresh beginnings available to create more meals. We were blessed with two families celebrating birthdays last night, and it’s always nice to see the whole family come out. I always think about how loved those families must be. It’s a nice thought.

Our family lives so far away from each other, it’s difficult, at best to get them together for anything. I hope that changes over the next few years. We all get caught up in our own lives and activities and sometimes we forget about those who love us from afar. Hoping we all get our loved ones contacted to share our love with them. Life is too fragile to let it slide. A friend can be gone before we know it. Keep them close. Talk often.

I’m hoping the Babe and I assemble our new bookcases this weekend. They’re about 47 inches high, and 36 inches wide. Three shelves. One will go in the bedroom, one in the Babe’s office. One will be all my books about creating and writing. I have run out of room in my office, and need to get more organized. A part of having several creative hobbies is keeping everything orderly. That’s another area I need to make progress this year. I will be able to access whatever I need for any hobby when it is orderly. It will become a way of life the more I practice. It will be lifelong orderly, as I used to be.

And of course, the time wasted looking through several piles of books randomly placed about the house will be used for creating. I look forward to it! I’m getting started by vacuuming and dusting the bedroom and living room, and finishing cleaning the wood floor in the kitchen. It’s amazing with all the Swiffer products that exist, that the item I like best for cleaning the wood floors is a plain old broom. Nothing sexy about it, and not dashing about like a choreographer.

Have a beautiful day, wherever you are. This day will be what you make it. Make it a good one! Let’s see each other tomorrow. Be safe out there.

“Saturday, In the Park”

For some reason, this old Chicago song popped into my head this morning. Do people go to parks much anymore? When I was a kid, there were several parks we could walk to, and the city had kid-sponsored activities every afternoon. The little green shack opened just after lunchtime, I believe, and stayed open until probably 4 or 5 p.m. For a nickel or dime, we could do a little craft thing, or they had tether ball, box hockey, and maybe horseshoes. Teenagers worked the shack daily and our harried mothers got a little bit of a break from us during those hot, summer days.

When I had kids, the green shacks disappeared from the city parks, you were basically on your own. We just walked across a very busy street, and we had access to basketball, tennis courts, and of course, swing sets and adventures on some low to the ground climbing devices. It was the old days, and the devices were made of wood, which didn’t wear well in the extreme weather we have; blistering heat or frigid cold. They developed splinters, and were deemed unsafe. We’d take lunch over to the park and have a picnic sometimes. Sometimes we had a picnic in our own yard. Do people still do that? Aside from fire pits and barbeques? I loved being home with the kids.

Once we finally had grandkids, we would babysit for Addison quite a bit. Her Grandma Sandy was alive then, and we’d share babysitting when the kids went out of town, etc. Sandy worked close to our home, and she’d drop Addison off in the morning, and pick her up after work. We worked well together. Usually ex-wives and current-wives don’t get along. Sandy and I had more in common than the Babe. Oh, and having one wife in between Sandy and me probably made a lot of difference. I never met that wife, although I bowled with her mother forty years ago. Small world.

At any rate, we’d take Addison to the park a lot. It really was fun taking her. There was a small park two blocks from our house, and we’d take her there nearly every time we had her over. As she got older and didn’t like the park as well, we’d go to a soft serve ice cream place nearby and get ice cream. She remembers that a lot. Even now, at the age of 14, if we mention “Ice Cream” she smiles and says, “Let’s GO!” I’m glad she has those memories. Now, our park experiences are going to ball fields and watching Gavin play baseball. I love that, expecially at this age.

My daughter Becky sends pics of Kayla and Cody playing in the park. She puts cute little hats and sunscreen on them. Adorable. I hope we get to see them later this summer. She and Brian have very busy work schedules, and with COVID variants occurring, we can only pray we aren’t locked down again. Get your shots! I have, the Babe did, and we’re fine. Just please don’t be the part of the population causing the problem. Sometimes we have to think of the “greater good” before our personal beliefs. Period.

Mom put me in Junior Bowling in seventh or eighth grade. Our neighbor coached it, and we were close enough to walk. Jan Matya, my friend and I stuck with it until we were seniors in High School. The reason? It was fun, and we were the only two girls in the league. All boys. The odds were in our favor. She dated a guy for awhile, I had one ask me to the Military Ball for his ROTC. I didn’t like him, I was 15 and used the excuse my folks wouldn’t let me date until I was 16. Mom told me, “No one turns down a date to the Military Ball.” In retrospect, it probably would have been a good idea. I only went to one prom and no homecomings at my school. None to other schools. I felt so crummy no one did.

So glad times have changed where kids actually go solo, and hang out with their friends. How nice. No one would feel less than enough. I really feel for kids who feel that way. There is so much buried in them that makes them good, talented people. It’s so bad when you lack confidence in yourself and your abilities. Remember; You ROCK!

I think families with kids have their time occupied by organized events. Sports, Dance, and a whole host of other things. That’s great, I hope they enjoy their experiences as neighborhood kids used to when they’d do a pick-up game of baseball, kickball, and even dodge ball. My brothers didn’t participate, and there were no girls sports. I did play volleyball, but Sister Mary What’s Her Name? didn’t put me in, she said I was too nervous, I needed to relax.

After growing up, I wondered if it occurred to her to let me play and I’d be less nervous? That would make sense to me. I also learned as an adult I probably suffered from anxiety. Our mom had a temper and as a kid, I thought she was always mad (at me). It seemed her moods swung from nice to degrading whoever was around. I think this was inherited from her mother. Zero to Sixty in 30 seconds. She scared me. I spent a lot of time in my room. My sanctuary.

I have forgiven her. She didn’t know any better. Many of us followed suit until we learned how damaging that was. Sometimes I think to myself, “If I was Mom, I’d probably say, “Don’t you know blah, blah, blah.” For someone who lost her cool a lot, it’s funny we were forbidden to say words like, “Hate, Shut Up, he’s stupid, you’re a dummy, I could kill you! (believe it or not, people used to say stuff like that).” So glad that type of speech is not acceptable anymore.

For today; Speak Kindly, Sit in Nature, Relax, Remember You’re Enough. Pet a Dog. Go for a walk. Attend a benefit. Always be kind. See you tomorrow!

“Play Ball!”

Life repeats itself. Since Gavin was born, nearly nine years ago, his sister Addison has competed in dance competitions across the region. This weekend is no exception. Gavin asked if he could hang out with us instead of driving in the van with Addison and her team to Tulsa this weekend. I thought this was fitting.

LEFT: Grandpa giving Gavin his bottle. Note the Baseball!
RIGHT: Gavin having his second bowl of Frosted Flakes. Double header today.

So, eight years later, on the same weekend, we’re hanging out with Gavin. I may work a little around the house, then join the boys after the first game begins. It’ll be a perfect day for it. I get little done when he’s here. I don’t care; what I’m supposed to get done when he’s here is spend the time with him. What a job, I’m lucky to get to do it. Blessings all around.

Last night, he asked me if he could do Word Search on my phone. He’s such a smart kid, it impressed him I was on Level 633. He commented it was harder than it looked. I told him he was solving the grown-up Word Search, not the kid one. He brightened up immediately. I think this game is just as good as reading sometimes. It helps him learn and keeps my brain working. Win/Win for Grandson and Grandma!

I’m a little puzzled by the way I’ve been feeling lately. It appears when I’m in a creative and learning mode, I can have a lot of understanding and enlightenment about my writing, my business, all the marketing involved, and I’m full of energy. I feel like I could slay dragons after those sessions. And then, I may go sit where the heating pad can comfort my twisted muscles and spine. Within twenty minutes or so, I’m exhausted and get nothing done the rest of the day. Do other creatives experience this? If you do, help a girl out and drop me a message or comment here. I’m perplexed why this happens and wonder if it’s from creating?

There is so much talk (and I believe it) creativity is like giving birth. I know that was very tiring and rewarding. I expect publishing my kids’ books will be, too. Right now, I have some house projects that need to be finished. Other things do, too. And yet, I need to have a day or two for a quilt I’m itching to work with. It’ll all work out. It always does.

As I continue along reading the book by musician Ben Folds, “A Dream About Lightning Bugs,” I marvel at the way his creative mind works. He tells of creative visualization and how it resonated with him. Eureka! Maybe that’s what I’m doing. As he says, “results fueled by temporary delusion.” That makes me laugh, but it’s true. He describes visualizing what isn’t currently happening as making you a little crazy. And being crazy zaps energy. Eureka! Could that be why I’m so drained after writing and learning every morning? Working towards what you visualize “scratches the itch.” Makes perfect sense to me. With my birthday in a few weeks, it couldn’t be from age, could it? Hmmmm. Be careful how you answer that!

If you’d like to read Ben Folds’ book, it’s “A Dream About Lightening Bugs,” and is available on Amazon, etc.

As we trek to the ball field again this Saturday, I’m grateful for much warmer weather today. Way better than last week was; no coats today. Shade and sunscreen are the order of the day. Thanks for reading, I hope you have a fabulous day. We will. Be Kind. Be Safe. Be Thoughtful. Let’s pay things forward or backward. Do something for someone. You’ll feel great. See you tomorrow.

A Brighter Saturday

For many creative people, honing in on one solitary project is hard. It is for me. There is a problem with creatives. We have too many ideas before we create something, and I, unfortunately have a tendency to go from project to project. Sometimes we’ll never get done. But I have to. My fellow quilters joke about large fabric stashes and unfinished objects, or UFO’s. Most likely, I’ll never finish everything I want to do.

While writing my children’s book (as Grandma Kathy), I see future possibilities for other stories teaching children to handle difficult situations. There could be a series in my future. See what I mean? I’m wondering if it’s ADD or if I’m just too full of ideas. Time will tell, I suppose.

A good book, very positive.

Dian Greisel writes about a lot of topics in her book, “The Silver Disobedience Playbook.” One I liked was “How to Ruin a Day.” It was quite a complete list for those who want to have a bad day. Demand perfection, Rigidity, Worry about what you can’t control, Overbook, Take everything you hear personally, Forget your sense of humor.

Ms. Greisel advises us to release our perfection goal, practice flexibility, stop worrying about what we can’t control, respect the hours of the day, learn some folks cannot get out of their own ways, they don’t know how to communicate, and smile and laugh. Be a drama queen; make everything a life or death situation; assume every scowl, comment, and action is against you.

If you are confronted by someone who insists on having a bad day, let them! Don’t let them drag you down into the pit. If you happen to live with them, I’m sorry! It is extremely difficult to have these folks around us while we try to be positive and have a good attitude. If you need to interact with them on your job (nursing, doctor, dentist, x-ray tech, or a store clerk, please know, they may not realize how they sound. Many times Mom doesn’t realize how she sounds. It’s sad. They’re angry they are aging rapidly and can’t stop it. They’re afraid or what is to come.

Just don’t let them be abusive to you. Kindly stop them from admonishing you when you need to stop them. Change the subject. We may be there before we know it. Prepare as well as you can; build a positive, happy life and attitude before it’s too late. Make it be part of your personality. Don’t take people on emotional roller coasters. They may not be “ride” people. I’m not. I refuse.

Let’s all go out there and have a positive weekend! Grass is greening up nicely, and the dandelions are back. They grow before everything else, and last longer than the last leaf on a tree. Nature is incredible when you observe it. Our deck is our favorite place in the summer, and the patio beneath it is a close second. I’m off to sort some boxes that need storing until next winter. Make more room for the Babe and his tools in the basement. The least I can do! Thanks for reading, I’ll see you again tomorrow! Be Kind out there.