Happy Birthday to The Babe!

Seventy-two years ago, the moons aligned, the sun was in a perfect spot, and they deemed it; I would celebrate life everyday once we met. The Babe was born. Thanks, Liz and Gene! If I could have custom-ordered a man to love me and my kids, I wouldn’t have known all the qualities to ask for. Yes, parts of this paragraph are exaggerated for effect, but come on, man! It’s my story!

Yes, we’ve repeated the header photo is a repeat of our Birthday dinner(s) with the kids. One vow I have is to take many photos of the two of us. I have a lot of other people in photos, not so many of us together. Might as well do that now, while I can.

We had some nighttime visitors; either of the opossum or racoon variety. Lexie pulled a bunch of baby bunnies from their nest in the ground, inside our back yard. She didn’t harm them (thank you, soft-mouthed Labrador mixed mutts), just moved them. The Babe further moved them beyond our fence-line. I think they were being fought over by the nighttime visitors. Lots of some terrible noise. It may be an early nap for me.

Hopefully, I’ll be able to drop my Bernina off today. It could be as simple as the electrical cord having a short, to the computer component being out. At any rate, I’ll check our the price of a new machine and see what they may give me on a trade-in. I’ve also found dealers for a Janome (wonderful quality) and a Brother. Both have their own dealerships within ten minutes from our home. It will be worth checking around.

About ten years ago, I remember seeing elderly grandmas (in their 80s), bringing in their new $5K machines to take classes. I was temporarily envious of them. I don’t wish to spend that amount of money on a sewing machine, although it should last the rest of my life, you know; another 30 years. It’s one thing Frankie discussed Monday at breakfast. “Will you get enough use out of it?” Since I’ll have more time as I age, it makes sense. I still don’t want to spend $5K, however.

I’d rather use that to publish my books. I will insert my drawings into the kid book manuscript on Wednesday. It should be fun. When we pull the trigger on that, I want to introduce you to my graphic artist, Jordan Ullom. She is incredible. I love her heart and her commitment. She has some solid art experience since graduation last year. I’m as excited for her as I am for myself.

I think I’ll have a full page for her. When I introduce her to you, we’ll also release the two more new pages to the website, The Jewell Publishing LLC page and the Grandma Kathy page. It is a fun time ahead. Thanks for being along for this ride. It’s been a great day with the Babe. Tomorrow I’ll fill you in on my new Brother SE 1900. It’s a gem, I believe. It’ll be fun to learn a new machine. See you tomorrow!

#952 and Counting!

We quote Oliver Wendell Holmes as saying:

“As life is action and passion, it is required of man that he should share the action and passion of his time at peril of being judged not to have lived.”

How many people do we know who dare not pursue their passion? Whether it’s writing, playing guitar, racing cars, photography, motorcycle drag racing, or simply expressing their opinion? Too many, if we’re truthful. We may even be some of them. So what do we do?

Before I published very many blogs, I was pretty timid about getting out here in the blog-o-sphere. I read a few I enjoyed; Quilters Pat Sloan and Bonnie Hunter; and Pioneer Woman Ree Drummond. They told stories as they shared beautiful quilts and how to do what they do. Ree Drummond shared stories of Marlboro Man (her husband) and her children. We’ve been cyber friends for a long time now. I’ve refined my quilting techniques and learned to cook in different ways. They are quite successful, drawing readers into their worlds and showing a part of life I had not considered.

When I researched how an independent author/publisher can put themselves “out there,” blogging was an option. Because of Pat Sloan and her beautiful website, showcasing quilts in a way that made me want to make them all, I became acquainted with WordPress. The rest is history, in a way. It appeared to have an excellent product, and with an I/T background, how hard could it be? It’s very user friendly, and I’ve learned something I enjoy. Bonus!

As I finally get back to this, it is very late in the evening; we’ve had a late meeting at the Post. I took Mom to get her hair done, and the sun is magnificent in the West. Every day ends well, doesn’t it? I’m reaching out yet again into the universe and giving the blogging universe, which is part of the writing universe, a whirl. And I’m still here. I’ll still be here tomorrow, too, to continue this journey. I hope you’ll be along then, to continue this trip with me. Hope we go to a fun place. Until tomorrow, be safe out there. See you soon!

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.

Superb Sunday 4/24/2022

Wow. Sometimes I forget things. We all do. I’ve forgotten haircut appointments and scheduled phone calls. The worst thing I forget? Like most people of a certain age, forgotten to take my prescription medications.

With the chronic. Pain I have, that’s not good. I don’t take opioids and CBD products don’t work. So, it’s live with it and understand how to work through the pain. It takes a lot many days. Today, I did not want to get out of bed. Once the coffee, meds, and hot shower kicked in, it was all systems go.

We had ball games for Gavin today. His skills are improving every game. It’s hard when the kids as a team make mistakes. You can tell all the kids are growing as players and as humans. The catcher called time out and walked up to give Gavin a pep talk. It was such a proud moment! Gavin got back in the zone and the game continued. Since it was a tournament today, the first game was a win, the second a loss. The kids’ collective heart broke. Until next week, boys. Fresh game, new team, new challenges.

As I watched today, I recalled all the games we’ve watched for the grandkids. Grandson Joell out in Maryland played little league, and we were able to see some of his games. It was a lot of fun, too. Unfortunately, he took a hit in the face by a crazy pitch and decided he’d like swimming better. He is a competition swimmer and does very well. He secured his first job recently, as a swim instructor for younger kids at his swim club. How awesome! He let go of something and found his own niche in the world. I love how the parents orchestrated both of the boys finding what they love and are supportive of their dreams. That makes all the difference in the world. Same goes for Addison with her Competition Dance and High School Dance Team.

Tomorrow, I’m beginning the journey again. Order of business is to organize my information for a free week long Children’s Book Challenge Week. I want to be prepared every day when class begins at noon at ends at 2 p.m. I should get some great information as I work with my illustrator in the next couple of months. Jordan is quite busy and should have something for me to review in a couple of weeks.

I am excited to get back to the serious work of writing. The first step, along with the Children’s Book Challenge, is to straighten up my studio/office. No more untouched quilt kits making me feel guilty. I will only allow things in the studio/office which are being worked with. All else will be in the basement level studio. It should allow for a lot of creativity to flow. I look forward to that.

Tomorrow is another brand new, shiny opportunity to have a beautiful day, create something, and do some good. What are you going to do that will make you happy and make a difference in the world around you? Have a good rest of the evening, and 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!

Serene Sunday Morning

Wow. And just like that, it’s back to whatever normal is. Some things remain the same, many don’t. The Babe is working on the books at the VFW, and I’m thinking about what to discuss today. How do I do that? Life gives me many ideas. Sometimes not. The news gives me some, and many times, I decide from a daily meditation book for Adult Children of Alcoholics. None of those are sparking creative thoughts today. I refuse to call it writer’s block.

Right now, I’m watching CBS News Sunday Morning. I don’t watch it for the news part. I watch it for the featured stories. Today, those included the life and legacy of Buster Keaton, the Baltimore Museum of Art, transgender athletes, and a Russian Oligarch.

I’m one geek who would gasp in awe at the geodes, minerals, and other colorful, shiny objects on display. God created so many wonders in the world. He fashioned so much detail in all the parts of nature. We have such gorgeous surroundings many people never see. How many of us sleep-walk through life, never seeing the obvious, which is right in front of our faces.

Look around you today. What is within ten feet of you? How much life is scurrying about? You may have bugs you’ve never noticed before all around you, coming to life after the winter. Looking right down to the base of the dead flowers, you see new life beginning. Many perennials look like goners right now. Patience, Grasshopper! We need to appreciate all forms of life more.

One form of entertainment you don’t see too much anymore is that of the comedy of pantomime or silent movies. People like the comedic genius of Buster Keaton. His timing, his022, forever straight face, it just makes everything even more funny. Find him on YouTube. You’ll see things like a fake scenery side of a house fall over, and it falls around him standing there. An open window or door is always in place where he is standing. It’s used in many, many movies, tv shows, etc. Young kids may mistakenly think this is new, but it is not. It’s over 100 years old!

As we near the end of another month, the first quarter of 2022, reflect on how aware you are of your surroundings. Do you notice minute things? Slight changes go right by you? Maybe they don’t. Good for you if you notice everything. It’s a learned skill. What do you want to learn this year? Keep you eyes open. You’ll be amazed at what you see. Thank you for reading, let’s see each other tomorrow.

Junk Drawer, Junk Thoughts

Saturday, as I rummaged through the out-of-control junk drawer in our kitchen, it occurred to me how easy it is to junk up our thinking. It’s easier than we think; we need to stay one step ahead of ourselves.

When we think ill of ourselves or our ability, we are accumulating junk thoughts. When we let those self-defeating thoughts in, we’re in danger. The danger exists in those little lies we allow ourselves to hear; “You can’t do this! You’re a girl! Girls don’t run businesses!” “You can’t do this! You only went to community college. Everyone knows your degree isn’t as good as a four-year one!” “You think you’re so smart! You really don’t know what’s right for you!” “Who do you think you are?”

While I don’t consciously entertain those thoughts, I can self-sabotage with the rest of them. I didn’t hear how I did a good job every time I performed something minor in everyday living. If I got a B on my report card, I should have received an A. I’d be close, and if I worked harder, I’d be able to have an A. I’d be able to have a perfect score. Gosh. Was that possible? Not really. I’d have to work impossibly hard. No, I was a girl. I’d probably not be able to.

During that era, there was an unspoken rule; a girl never allows herself to be smarter than a boy. I’m serious. I remember reading in a Catholic girl’s magazine if you know the answer in class and a boy you like gets it wrong, you shouldn’t raise your hand and give the correct answer.

Imagine my delight while during a spelldown in fourth grade, I out-spelled the smartest boy in the class. Louie Safranek. He and a brother are state epidemiologists. Bug doctors. They are scary-smart. But he misspelled the word satellite. Yep. And I beat him. I never won. But I did that day. I won the statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It was a proud moment. That feeling made me feel i could do anything. I’ve remembered that.

That feeling of achievement is something I’ve repeated throughout life. Raising my kids alone, while going to college and working full time. I was proud of my work and accomplishment. More women need to feel that way about themselves. I look forward to feeling that way again with the publication of my children’s books and novel.

Seeing my name in print is something I’ve always wanted to do. I feel it looking at my chapter in the Nebraska Writers Guild Anthology that was published in 2021. I look forward to seeing the entire book in print. With my name on it. How many of us get to do these things? It’s easy and hard at the same time. How can that be?

Believe in your dream. Do the work to achieve it. Keep at it. Don’t give up. Practice discipline. Take a break if you need. Yes. After having these a break since December, I’m feeling called to write again on my novel. I’m happy about the spark I’m feeling. It will be a fun spring and summer.

Another busy day, and tomorrow will be a repeat of today. Have a nice rest of the evening and we’ll see each other tomorrow.

Buh-bye

I’m probably going to sound like an old person, but what the heck? I’ve had this issue with Synchrony Bank and their processing of my Phillips 66 gas card. They do a poor job of customer service. They all claim to be supervisors. You can send information from your bank to them three times and they “haven’t received it.” A phone call? No, don’t count on it. You can spend over 39 minutes on hold to explain this fiasco. They have cut me off more than once in the middle of explaining.

I’ve fought this issue with them since July, 2021. My August statement did not show that I paid $214.82. It arrived late. I called, they listened, gave me credit. My September statement added it back on. I provided proof from the bank, after an hour on the phone, and I saw credit for the amount. End of problem, or so I thought.

Go to October, it appeared ok, but they didn’t catch that monthly payment made. I called again. Oh yes, they had it. But they again said my bank never sent the $214.82. What? They could do no better than give me a fax number to send it to. Not to the attention of anyone, just into the vast pool of faxes a business receives. I could not have an extension to talk to a person, or a name either. OK. By December, there was just no going back.

After being a customer since 1988 – yes, 1988 – I am bidding them farewell. I am sending a multi-page fax tomorrow, telling the entire story since July and telling them why I will never buy a product with their credit card again. They will not care, they are Synchrony Bank, not Phillips 66. They do not care if I remain a customer or not. It’s a shame the customer is never right anymore. Phillips won’t even know I’ve left. Farewell to one company who helped me build my credit all those years ago.

My favorite shade of blue

This morning, it was a pretty spring-like morning. The sky was a perfect blue. February in Nebraska, and I’m sitting outside with no coat on in the morning. We have snow predicted twice next week. I just want the rest of winter to happen and leave. I want to spend time with my flowers this summer.

I’ve straightened up my avalanche of papers that were crowding the kitchen table. Everything is sorted into piles of category – income taxes, honor guard banquet, Phillips 66, NE taxes, etc. I’ll finish up each smaller stack and file them tomorrow. Then go to the Babe’s office and get all the receipts from last year. One of these years I will follow through and file papers as they’re paid. I get closer every year. The next couple weeks will be Income Tax time at Raabe Ranch, along with cleanup in the family room downstairs. It never ends, does it? I hope not.

I found an old photo of my office/studio when we first finished the fresh paint, etc. I want it to look that empty again. Like I do nothing in there, you know? And I’m taking the sewing projects/quilting projects back downstairs into their staging area where they belong. A few years ago, I went through unfinished quilting projects like a crazy woman, finishing a lot of things. Then I started writing. It’s another beast. It takes up much less room.

Thank you for reading today. I hope you have a beautiful evening and a great Monday. I appreciate you being here with me, and we’ll see each other tomorrow. Be safe!

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.

It’s WHAT Time?

So, it’s 5:22 a.m. on Tuesday, November 23, 2021. Yes, that’s a.m. I had a cortisone injection in my shoulder yesterday and it woke me up because it’s very stiff and sore. I’ve been awake for over an hour, trying to go back to sleep. But now, there is coffee, ice pack on my shoulder (cannot find my cool flexible packs. Drat!). What does one think about at this hour?

Well, for one, even with less sleep, I’m well rested. What was different yesterday? I didn’t do much but get in end of the year dentist appointment, a visit to the ortho hand, arm, and shoulder guy (a genius if you ask me!), and write about some memories of friends. OH! And I sent my kid book file to another illustrator. I hope to hear from her today or tomorrow. Wouldn’t it be grand if she could get to it? And then, I could get to it! Hope. There is always hope, isn’t there?

I started reading a beautiful story yesterday, “The Sewing Machine,” by Natalie Fergie. It’s about two families, three secrets, and millions of stitches. I’ve already read 87 pages. It is reminding me of how much I love sewing. It’s also told me I need to do something about it. I haven’t touched my machine(s) for over a year. They will require oiling, and come cleanup. I need to piece the rest of a quilt together, and then quilt a panel of a winter scene, in greyscale, with red cardinals on some of the branches. It’s going to take the place of the poppy quilt, which will be taken down and on sabbatical for a time.

I have to hear the rhythm of the machine again, feel the feed dogs grab the fabric, while I control the speed it feeds through. The rows will be sewn together, then I’ll put it on my board downstairs to see how the rows all look, one after another. I bought a little 11 x 14 ( I think) painting of a tree, with a pair of cardinals. The caption is “What I love most about my home is who I share it with.” A small bush at the bottom has “Dan & Kathy” written on it. It’s part of my truth, and that’s why I need to quilt the wall hanging quilt and get it up on the wall.

I’ve also thought a little about finally making our felt , sequined Christmas stockings, which would be decorative only, since we don’t do gifts. After making stockings for everyone and their dog (just about), it’s time we have some. The Babe’s has dogs all over it, and about six ornaments to match. Mine is a Father Christmas, dressed in winter-white regalia. It’s beautiful. Yes, it has to be done. Even a start. My hands have missed the activity.

My writing? I’ll still work at it, just not every day (save for the blog. I won’t stop that.) I think my creativeness will really kick in after the holidays. I’m going to enjoy the season, and start some new traditions. Even if they’re just for me!

And I’m genuinely happy for some folks who have completed NaNoWriMo already. I will not finish, unless I do nothing for the next seven days but write feverishly. I could, but would not get anything else done.

I have my completed chapters printed off and placed in a 3-ring binder. I will likely write many more by the end of the year, which will not be that far away. We have New Year’s Eve plans at the VFW Post 2503 with friends. It will be fun.

The other sewing I do is clothing. I haven’t sewn for me in years, but I plan to. I have had such success on Keto, I was able to purge a lot of things from the closet. I shared them with a friend, and she’s happy to have new clothes to go on a trip to Hawaii with. I’ll go for it. Sharing is what it’s about. I have a ton of fabric and patterns, so something should fit this less lumpy body. We will see how it all goes! Should be fun.

Thanks for reading today; I’m going to set a schedule for cooking on Thursday, to make sure the ginormous turkey will be done in time for our meal. Our newer gas stove has a temperature probe in it for roasting meats. It’s never wrong, I’m amazed. BTW: it’s only 8:15 a.m. I’ve already had a little cat nap. Going to be a great day, I look forward to the sunshine and warmer temperature today. Have a beautiful day, and we’ll see you tomorrow!