Monday Morn

Have you ever had a consumer complaint against a company regarding payment that lingered on for nearly a year? Hope that never happens to any of you. I just finally got it resolved this morning.

I was a customer of Phillips 66 Gasoline company since 1988. Some of you weren’t even born yet! But yes, never an issue. In the last year with gas prices escalating, I paid special attention to our monthly bills. The Babe and I used the same account, and I paid the balance off every month. Last year, July of 2021, the bills went up over $100 a month. Now, they’re even higher, although we now each pay at the pump as we individually fill up whichever vehicle we’re driving.

In July, I paid the bill through First National Bank’s Bill Pay feature. Always reliable. Late last summer, the oil company switched from in-house credit to Synchrony Credit. Not good. Not good at all.

At first, I gave them the benefit of the doubt. The only way to resolve anything was phone only. And hold on forever until you’re sure you’re on IGNORE, not HOLD. That puts you in an immediate bad mood, holding on for 20 minutes. I secured what was needed from my bank – numerous times. I got the credit, then a month or two later, bam. They added the amount of $214 + change back on to my account, saying I didn’t provide them with what was needed. Wow.

I can tell you, they no longer care how long you’ve been a customer. They no longer care you cut up your credit card. They often cut your call off in the middle of talking. You have to start over with the hold/ignore cycle. Aggravating as heck.

I received a message from Synchrony again I needed to provide more information. I called the number, finally with an extension number, and talked to a lady I could understand. Bonus! She actually investigated my account and told me they applied it to my BP VISA card. Which I’ve never had. At last! They made a boo-boo! Vindicated, after all this time! I was about ready to celebrate a one year anniversary with that $214.++ balance. (Sarcasm font used).

Cue Etta James’ At Last. Finally! I found a decent customer service rep.

As we go throughout the rest of the day, let’s be pleasant with customer service reps. While searching for “service” stock photos, mostly baristas appear. Isn’t that crazy, what we’ve become? You won’t see a clerk at a department store as an example, either. My, how things have changed. A lot of years have passed between seeing Grandma Jewell standing behind the glass candy display counter at the family drug and sundries store, and Mr. Chase working in the pharmacy, compounding drugs. Grandma knew every kid in South Omaha. And they respected her, too. She was just that way. What fond memories I have of her!

I’m off to a meeting now, hope you all have a wonderful Monday. I’m having one, it will just get better. Make it a sunny day where you are. See you tomorrow!

#963 and Counting.

Good Saturday evening, from the Home Office in Gretna, Nebraska. It’s been a long but great day.

Got my flowers panted in all their containers today and carried them to where they’ll live. Watered them after carrying to where they’ll stay. Lighter to carry. It was wonderful to be outside from about 8:30 a.m. until about 11:00 a.m., not a care in the world. No thought what time it was. No thought about having to hurry and go do an errand or meet someone. I could concentrate on whatever I wanted. Note to self: need to do that some more. It was great.

I neatly trimmed all the therapeutic sewing I did yesterday (the threads were terrible). I’ll probably press them tomorrow. This is how I need to approach getting stuff done daily. There is a certain grand feeling of accomplishment just doing a lot of little things and having them stack up to bigger things.

The Babe is home tomorrow, it will be the first time in a couple weeks he is. And Monday is Memorial Day at the Post. We will attend. The Babe has several ceremonies to attend with the Honor Guard. It’s all in a day with the VFW. Memorial Day is one of my favorites. The reason? We stop to thank the spirits of the heroes that went before us. We wouldn’t have such a peaceful life as we do if we weren’t free, thanks to them. I hope if the time comes in the future, there are people to step up and fight the good fight.

This newly minted 70-year-old woman is feeling every bit of her age right now. Lots of hard work I’m not used to; but it felt so good. Right now, I’m retiring to the couch with a good book to think about what we’ll do tomorrow. I hope you have a beautiful evening. See you tomorrow!

The Day After Birthday

This morning, it was still darkish out, but the bed was empty of both canines and the Babe. I heard nothing going on in the living room. They can’t have gone far. I listened to the birds for a while and dozed. It was heavenly. I got up and saw the family on the couch, all snuggly. It was sweet.

And sharing coffee amongst good mornings is such a wonderful thing. I’m not the griddle cook getting the husband out the door, or the kids off to school. I’m his equal. He’s my equal. Yes, we sipped on our coffee for another hour. It was sweet. Other married couples may not think this is a big deal. I really noticed it today. I noticed because it was missing from my life before the Babe.

I know many other women of all ages who haven’t experienced this kind of laid back before in their lives. Many, many women and even men haven’t experienced this in a relationship. Much as I was told, it doesn’t happen; it does. Single friends, take heart. Leave your heart open, but protected.

I met my son, Frankie, for brunch. It is like visiting the best part of yourself to meet your adult kid out. It was the best catch up there was. He is always in a good mood and satisfied with his life. We laugh about if I am an old widow someday and need someone to monitor me; he would be the one. We make up scenarios and I know he’d always help me out. Seriously, I hope it doesn’t come to that.

Today was a followup visit to the ortho doc for my shoulder. Over the past six months, I’ve had three injections for pain. If this doesn’t help, it’s on to an MRI next time. Hoping it’s not a torn rotator cuff. But if it is, we’ll deal with it.

Yesterday, I checked out my sewing machine before getting ready to make the grandkids in Colorado their quilts for Christmas. I plugged in my trusty Bernina Activa 220. Nothing worked. The lights didn’t go on. Nothing responded. Carried it to another room, electrical circuit, and plugged it in and turned it on. Nothing. Tomorrow, it goes to the Bernina Store. I hope it’s not expensive or I’ll be shopping for a different machine. Cross your fingers! Good thing I started early on the Christmas projects!

Have a beautiful evening. I need to get some ice for the shoulder. 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!

Serenity

Worry robs you of today. Worry makes you dream up every horrible scenario and think it may happen. Usually it doesn’t. Most of the time, moms are classic over-worriers. “Dead in a ditch somewhere” usually comes to mind. Ever hear that from your mom? Yes, I think we all have.

If you’re an adult child of an alcoholic, you may be an expert worrier. I used to be. No more. I’ve not lost sleep over my problems, kids, their problems, my imagined problems, my kids’ imagined problems or any of the above. I can leave it to rest. Hope my kids are ok. Sure. I might pray about them, but I don’t worry. God will take us where we need to be. And He’ll provide me with whatever I need should the worst ever happen. Until then, praying trumps worry.

Mom has habitually worried about everything, real and imagined. She isn’t shy about telling everyone, even now, about worry and lack of sleep. It’s a strong habit for her. At 92, she wouldn’t have to worry about us all. I suspect she may nap a bit more during the day than she admits to, maybe she isn’t sleeping well because of napping. I’m not sure. She tires easily. Heck, at my age, I enjoy a nap, and would think she will. But I won’t worry.

They activate the automatic worry when an ill wind is blowing. Anything that may pose a threat causes you to circle the wagons and hide. And worry non-stop. It’s automatic. There is a lot of hard work to reverse that pattern. But it is possible.

It takes a lot to help people understand they have more power than they believe they do. They have to believe they have the power to re-gain control over yourself and your thoughts. You will no longer react automatically. A new action will become easier to take, and you will take back your power.

“Opportunity does not knock – it presents itself when you beat down the door.” They credit this phrase to a person named Kyle Chandler. Not sure who that is, but it is true. A mentor of mine told me long ago, if you don’t find your opportunities, you need to create them. Figuratively, you could beat the door down, but I would hope it wouldn’t take that much.

Carefully looking for opportunities becomes easier the more practice we have. Then it becomes second nature. Not worrying. Chasing your goals helps us experience many opportunities we wouldn’t have if we sat on the couch at home. Each opportunity helps us become better along the way to our dreams.

Not letting others control what we do is a key to having power. That said, we need to work for others during our lives. And we need to do that, gaining experience as we learn. We may not always be able to work for ourselves. Sometimes we need those experiences to help us grow before we can manage ourselves. One step at a time.

Cautiously realistic is how I like to approach unknown situations. Disasters are so unlikely to happen; I prefer not to worry. Those who borrow trouble from tomorrow cannot help but worry about everything and court disaster because it’s all they know how to do.

As I end this day and look forward to tomorrow, know I understand why you worry. I know because I used to do the same thing. And I also know I had to stop. It drove me crazy and most of all, it wasn’t good for me. It robbed me of joy. I took my control back; I took my joy back. I took my life back. You can too.

It’s been another long day; I hope it’s a great rest of the evening and a good day tomorrow. Let’s see each other tomorrow. Take care out there.

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!

Saturday Shenanigans?

Still overcast at the Home Office in Gretna, Nebraska. Maybe that, not procrastination, is the reason I’ve left our Christmas tree up. The header photo is from this morning; I told the Babe I just love how it looks by the fire, with the dogs all napping and us just chilling’. It’s a part of life you cannot buy. You create that space with your family/friends/significant other, and it just feels so good, so right, so untouchable. It takes practice and trust to relax, let your hair down, relax your shoulders, and just be in the moments you are sharing. So grateful for our life.

I also have a planning meeting with the other officers of the Auxiliary at 1 p.m. The Babe is off doing bookwork and another Honor Guard Funeral this morning. I am so proud of The Babe, he is working a lot, but he’s a person who can’t retire and relax. He is using his need to be productive in a positive way. Yes, sometimes it can be frustrating, but it’s very rewarding for both of us. As long as we’re able, we will volunteer as we are.

The agenda for today? The dogs were naughty, tearing open a trash bag full of some decorations. Floral picks I used on a tree, red plastic grapes, giant pinecones, all scattered through the family room. It’s a mess. Girls! I need to clean that up later. I also have some boxes to sort through so all of like items are together and labelled before they go on the shelves. It’s coming along nicely.

I need to return my Jury Panel Questionnaire. On one hand, I hope to be chosen. It’s fascinatinig to be on a jury. It changed my life in 1981. That story will be in my book, The Freeing of Katie Fitzgibbons, which is my WIP (work in progress). There are so many heartbreaking, wild, difficult, mind-numbing events over my own life, some of them are the basis for what Katie experiences and grows from. Each event she experiences is from life – not necessarily mine – and have happened to real people. Some of the people she learned the hardest life lessons from are a patchwork for some of the characters. Despite everything, she remains a loving person, a believer in God, and a person of strong faith. She always knew God was leading her the way she went.

Fun Top for January. Snowy, not Christmas-y!

I love this new shirt. It has a plethora of snowflakes on it, at the boarders of the sleeves and bottom. It’s part of my smaller sized collection I’ve bought since losing 40 pounds on KETO. Time to get back in the saddle, boys and girls. I’m going to be doing raw veggies, protein, salads, and the one Halo Top Sea Salt Caramel Keto Pop. They’re heavenly! They’re expensive, but worth it, I believe. If you know me at all, you know I have a love of all things ice cream. Since I was a kid, it always represented fun, delicious times. That is a story for another day.

As we both make progress with our day and intentions, let’s be safe out there. Let’s be careful out there. See you tomorrow.