Merry Christmas!

(Written Christmas Eve)

It’s been a beautiful day. We baked cookies and Croatian Nut Bread, went out for lunch, and attended a church service this afternoon. It was a new church for us and it was beautiful. The music was wonderful, the crowd, the people. I had some pretty emotional moments to some of the music. Silent Night has always been a favorite, and the words were so moving today.

I’ve been on a personal journey this year to overcome something in life that isn’t of my doing, but I suffer for it. I suffer terribly. I chose to put that pain into volunteering to work with groups who help Veterans. I’ve suggested things that fit with the VFW philosophy of working to help Veterans. It’s been very rewarding work, and it’s helped re-shape my outlook. I’ve given my pain to God; He’s the only one who can help change the situation. I’m powerless.

I sat next to a young boy. He gradually relaxed and seemed to be quite moved by the service. In the end, he and his cousins went to the stage area and dedicated his life to Jesus. He wanted more information. He was moved to tears over and over again. He’s been on my mind ever since we sat by each other. The Babe and I joined the group who expressed interest in learning more and being more active in life with a church. The boy, and his cousins embraced us as well. I probably will never know about this young man or his life or his pain; what I can do is pray for him. I feel that’s the best thing to do for him and my concern for him.

Faith is the center of my life. I can encounter people and pray for their well being. It takes being aware of our surroundings. It takes recognizing a feeling when you see someone and how they are behaving. God is heightening my senses and awareness at this time in my life. I can feel it. It’s led me to writing, it’s led me to volunteering, and it’s led me to find Church again. The one we attended today may or may not be the one we choose to stay with, but it’s a start. I’ve missed Church terribly. I believe we’ve been working towards this for awhile. The fact that the Babe led the way to the altar is a Christmas gift like one I’ve not received before.

There has been a similar one. The Christmas Eve of 1997, the Babe came to my house, walked in with some groceries and a vase of flowers. My hand touched something metal. He whispered something to me. I didn’t hear, and followed him to the kitchen. I looked at the vase. There was an engagement ring! He asked me, “Will you be my wife?” I told him, “I’d be proud to be your wife.” I still am.

We’ve done a lot in these past 24 plus years. Grown a lot. Changed a lot. Become closer. Become stronger, both as individuals and as a couple. I am so grateful. God really knew who would be best for me in so many ways. A far cry from that devastated little girl whose grandfather died on Christmas Eve all those years ago. A far cry from that 34 year old mom of a 15 year old who told her she shouldn’t have to be alone on Christmas Eve, when we ate at McDonalds.

I commit to praying for that young man I met at Church today. I’ll pray he gets answers to his prayers. I’ll pray his pain is resolved. I’ll pray he heals and has a blessed life. It’s part of living on this earth. And I hope his life is wonderful. Mine certainly is.

Enjoy this day that celebrates Jesus coming to save us. Enjoy this day that celebrates family, hope, faith, and love. I hope your day is beautiful. And we will see each other tomorrow.

Winning Wednesday

My world was restored yesterday. We picked up Addison after school. It’s been a quarter of the year since we last did, since she ran Cross Country during that time, and it’s after school. She placed quite well for being a first timer. She is in incredible physical condition due to about twelve years of dance. She is probably more fit than many football players are. Gosh, I love that young lady. She’s smart, kind, thoughtful, funny, and beautiful.

What Toby Mac Writes, I Live! How Does He Know Me? He Knows LIFE. In That, He Knows Me.

My writing was productive yesterday. I fleshed out at least three scenes for the second chapter. The scenes are important to the story, they help with character definition and telling important history. The feat for the writer is to keep out anything that doesn’t further the story, that isn’t important, and isn’t pertinent. You don’t need to know how mean Katie’s kindergarten teacher was about nap time in 1957. Maybe the teacher didn’t help Katie’s fears, you just don’t need that bit of trivia in the story.

By writing an outline, I know where the story is going. Sometimes while writing, the story decides on it’s own to take a twist you hadn’t planned. And if it fits with the scene, it’s great. If not, you write the notes out to add in an appropriate place or simply put it on the shelf for another story. That can happen. This is certainly better than wandering around, clueless. Unless you’re a person who can do that, become clueful, then write a NYT bestseller! They do exist. My thought is they have more structure to their writing than they care to admit.

I just searched my free photo library for “words.” Sad to say, I had to page down four times to get to something other than “Black Friday” sayings. Isn’t that sad? I seldom care about Black Friday, even less this year, whatever date is is. If there were a time to make heartfelt gifts, homemade creations, works of our art for our family, it’s right now, during this Pandemic.

A special drawing from a grandchild, a photograph by an amateur neighbor kid, a baked goody from a car pool family can all lighten a heart during these times. We used to make time for these things every holiday season. I love when someone takes the time. They don’t have to. But they do. And that’s why it’s special. Make time for someone today. Before you can’t anymore.

I’m having another good writing opportunity today. The dogs are asleep for awhile, and I have on music I haven’t heard in awhile. Dayna Jones is another musician from South Dakota. She has a lovely, strong voice. Her lyrics are so telling. Maybe that’s why I enjoy music so much, and always hear the lyrics. It is storytelling at it’s finest. Putting impactful words to music. How much better can it get? Check Dayna Jones out wherever you secure your music. She even has CD’s for old folks like us!

Dayna Jones, Leaves. Get It Today!

As part of my research, I’m going to read “From Generation to Generation,” it is a memoir and a workbook in one. “Healing Intergenerational Trauma Through Storytelling” takes us to a second generation Holocaust Survivor. Serious traumas can be passed generation to generation even though the events are unspoken. Types of behavior reflect that trauma, and are passed, unknowingly, to the next and subsequent generations.

Of course, the Holocaust is an extreme, terrible event to survive. My traumas and your traumas will not be so dramatic. Ours are lesser, yet they are extreme, terrible events to our grandparents, parents, us, and our children. Do not minimize your trauma. Do not ignore it. It affects you. And your children.

Illness and addiction affect many generations in families. Coping behaviors become something to survive in and of themselves. It is amazing how the human mind protects itself, and the body that goes with it. Flight of Fight. Adrenaline Rushes. Amnesia of traumatic events. Thank God for creating us as He did. We’d never make it without these safety features.

That said, lingering below the hard, crusty surface of any Veteran I know, there are war stories too terrible for them to repeat out loud. There are things a regular person back home could not think of doing. Those same things are what we expect of our combat veterans and others. Male or female. Young and Older. It happens to everyone in some way. Self medicating is not the answer. Help is available, and it can stay off your record. Contact Moving Veterans Forward for a conversation that can save your life. 1-402-301-6300.

It’s time for me to switch the thinking and expand on my scenes to make the chapter I’m working on. Sam Tyler, Book Coach, you’re making my life easier. I’m hoping yours gets easier with this work I’m doing. Lol. I appreciate what you’ve taught me.

Thanks to all of you for your time. I appreciate it and plan to see you all tomorrow! It’s going to be a windy day today, so it’s a good day to write. Be safe out there. Be calm out there. Be courteous out there. We’ll get through this. I know we will. You will, too. Hang on. Hang in.

Happy July First!

Good morning from the Home Office in Gretna, Nebraska. It was a rainy night last night, and all the lawn chairs, cushioned or not, are soaking wet this morning. And, much like any other humid July in Nebraska, well, you know the rest. It will probably be this way until school starts again, in about five weeks.

I feel badly for parents when school begins again. Blended families, families with students in different levels of education, working parents, and parents who work at home, are all in for another round of, “Will my child really benefit from the education he or she will receive during the next phase of the pandemic?” One can only hope and pray. I really don’t know what the answer is. I am leaning towards masks for all, then sanitizing to beat the devil.

I’m making a bootleg calendar for my next couple of months. Trying to carefully measure out what is possible while meeting deadlines and Zoom schedules. We all need a little structure in our lives. At times Ihen wonder if I need as much as when we were younger? No, I think no. Retirement is supposed to be about spending time whatever way you feel like. That said, I believe we should still be contributing something to others, to still shine our lights out in the world. The Babe has his Quartermaster duties at the VFW. I love to watch the kids, and yet, there needs to be more than that. You can’t count on having enough grandkids to spend your time that way.

That’s probably a lot of the why I decided to write. I’ve always wanted to write Children’s Books. My daughter encouraged me over and over, until finally, I decided, “Why Not?” In the nearly two years since that revelation, I’ve worked on a novel, started another, and have outlines for several children’s stories. One is about the loss of a family pet based on our experience last summer, losing our Roxie. I think it could do some good for kids.

I had a very loose outline when I began my novel. I definitely see now where I could have made an easier time of it to have a better outline before. Those who never outline are called “pantsters,” who write by the seat of their pants. The planners are “outliners,” who know exactly what they will write. I suppose each writer learns what works for them, then proceeds. What a learning process!

I’m going to organize all my information in a sectioned binder, so everything is organized and together. I hope this works. Time will tell, won’t it? I have the “Personality Isn’t Permanent” book to finish, too. It will help describe the transition my character experiences through her life.

Reading is a Joy!

I just printed countless photos of all our dogs who have known Gavin. I want to have a themed book for him about all of his doggies. He loves the stories he has in his mind, and I want to preserve those for him. It’s neat to listen to him talk about his doggies. What a good thing we can share with him.

The school district our grandchildren hasn’t announced yet how they will handle the school year yet. Three districts in the area will do full time, every day for everyone. Two others will have a split schedule, 3/2 and every other week they switch who has 3 and who is the 2 group. Too complicated for me. It has to be hard for working parents, single parents, and those with no one to help them out. I think we’re all a few cases away from home schooling again and stay at home suggestions again.

We have to dig in, be positive, wear masks, and think of others than ourselves. I know, that’s what we have been doing. It is going to take all of us. It is going to take a very long time for the danger to subside enough for us to abandon our efforts. Our generations have never had to make a sacrifice for a national cause, for a unified effort. Most wars in my lifetime have been undeclared (Korea, Vietnam), and lack of national support deeply affected the veterans and the outcome. Lack of national support in this pandemic is affecting us and will affect the outcome.

Let’s put our pride aside, and our sense of entitlement, and wear a mask. Always in public. Shopping, in the stores, and if we go to eat. Remove it while you eat and drink. Be vigilant. Be on your guard. Wash your hands. Use hand sanitizer. Clean frequently used items such as your phone; all the remote controls, the controls on your stove, oven, and microwave, and your refrigerator handles. Door knobs and handles. Yes, it’s not fun, it’s necessary. It’s boring, but it’s necessary.

Make sure you are around to attend all the postponed weddings, graduations, and family events. Make sure your grandparents are, too. Let’s take better care of each other. Thanks for reading today. I appreciate it a lot, and am now going to do some more cleanup on Chapter 1 of “The Freeing of Katie Fitzgibbons.” I’ll see you back here tomorrow. Be Safe. Be Kind. Be Thoughtful.

Saturday Fun

Saturday already! Wow, more ball games for Gavin, but we have a banquet to attend tonight. It’s for The Honor Guard at VFW Post 2503. They are the largest Post in the state, and I believe they do the most funerals with military honors. This past week they had seven funerals. That’s a lot for young guys, however, the age of most guys is over the age of 70. Always looking for a few good men, so please spread the word! You must be a veteran of a foreign war, honorable discharge, have a DD214, and a join the Post. Males or females welcome.

What I love most about the Honor Guard is their camaraderie the guys have. All veterans seem to share that, and I love to see it in action. When the Babe had his quad bypass surgery, I couldn’t tell you how many of them called and told me (during his recuperation) if we needed something, just let them know. I trusted them to keep an eye on him when he went back to his duties. Their concern has stayed with us even six years later. They’ve all been through the ischemic heart disease in all of it’s glory (remember Agent Orange), so they understand. It’s a wonderful group of friends.

Our next door people are moving by the 30th. They’ve been such perfect neighbors. They have grown kids and they all drive. No noisy teens gathering around causing trouble (we’ve had that before, believe me). It’s been so quiet. The house may go up for sale, and I know it won’t last long. The other neighbors didn’t, and neither did ours three and a half years ago. Gretna is a small town right now, 5K population, but many of us haven’t been annexed yet. I understand that usually happens after the debt of the SID is paid down.

Funny thing, as kids if we couldn’t spell a word, Dad always said, “Look it up!”

We’d ask him, “How can you look it up when you don’t know how to spell it?”

He would reply, “Do your best to sound it out, then look. You might not find it right away, so just use the time to learn a few new words. You’ll find it eventually.”

I laugh about this now, because I just tried to look up camaraderie and it was NOT in the dictionary I was using. Can you believe it? I had to Google it. I don’t mind looking words up, it’s a good refresher and way to keep your brain sharp. Old fashioned? Sure, why not? Old school is more like it.

The flowers are looking so nice. It makes the work worth it, doesn’t it? Important tidbit about a common outdoor plant, Hostas. The grow profusely without a lot of effort. Great in shade or sun, depending on the variety. I googled them today, to see if they are poisonous to dogs. Yes, very poisonous, as it happens. For some reason, Goldie will pull a couple out by the roots and eat them. They have a sticky substance that expands in the gut, and can cause all sorts of problems. The Babe is going to put a chicken wire fence around them to keep her safe. Can’t have our girl get sick from something so simple. Be safe, secure your Hostas from your dogs.

Writing is sometimes a challenge. No, not for ideas or words. I’m talking about while Goldie thinks I’m her personal playmate. Throw the ball, I may just get my chair back to the desk before she brings it back. Sheesh! It’s a good thing I’m not doing NaNoWriMo.

For those who don’t know, NaNoWriMo is “National Novel Writing Month.” The goal is to write 40K words. I succeeded last year, and have the t-shirt to show for it. It’s free participation. Blogging counts. I wrote the bulk of “These Walls DO Talk” during that time, so I did produce a lot. At times, folks don’t produce a lot that is useable after all is said and done. I can certainly see where having an outline, a plan, and following it would help.

I’ve learned that people who don’t outline or plan are “pantster” writers. Yep, “by the seat of their pants.” With the idea in my head, it seemed as if it would be no problem at all to follow the map in my mind, and automatically end up where I could type “the end.” I am becoming convinced outlining may be a better way to go. The outline can be modified while writing, so I would need to be flexible with it. What I don’t want to do it write myself into a corner with no way out.

I’ve read either way is acceptable, with some very famous writers never outlining. Until I get the hang of it, I’ll commit more to planning than just an idea to run with. Some of this will start this weekend, and continue into early next week. I’m planning what to do when for July and August, since I’ll be working with my book coach. Another new adventure! Retirement is not for the faint of heart after all.

I was amazed by an article I read last night in the current issue of Writer’s Digest. It discussed being a travel writer. The article stated you do not have to travel to the places you write about. I would think that could be a drawback, since for me a new place has sounds and smells and music all of it’s own. Sure, you could regurgitate information about those things from other articles on the same places, but would it be as effective? I’m voting no, what do you all think? Leave a comment in the Comment Section, below, please! Convince me I’m wrong. To me, you can’t review a show or restaurant if you don’t attend of dine there, how can you tell what it’s like to travel to a place you have never been?

This afternoon, we’re taking it easy. Since we’ll be out later, it’s a sure thing we’ll need to. It’s going to be hot and humid this afternoon. Be careful out there! Thanks for reading today, I appreciate it a lot. I’ll be back later in the day tomorrow, Mom and I have an early wedding shower to attend. It’ll be great to see my cousins again.

Taco Tuesday and Other Truths

You won’t believe what I just did. After about 45 minutes of working on a pretty good blog (if I must say so myself!), I hit the wrong key and exited from the 700 word masterpiece I was nearly finished with. Much to my dismay. Wow. It’s vanished in cyberspace. Do I have any idea how to reconstruct it? Heck, now. So for now, it’s:

Take Two Tuesday and Other Truths

There is a reason anyone who uses a computer will always tell you: Save Often! Save Before Printing! Save After Changing! So I just committed the #1 mishap in computer use history. I hadn’t saved. So now, upwards and onwards, while saving often.

Today is another Gavin day for the Babe and I. We will pick him up and he’ll be contented to play with the dogs all afternoon. They like him, too. He has loved many of our dogs through his eight years, some he remembers, some not. But we have photos, and he asks questions about their personalities and quirks. He tells me, “Grandma, all dogs deserve love.”

I tell him back, “Yes, Gavin. And all kids deserve love, too.” And he agrees with me. A long time ago, a good friend of mine told me how kids do listen to what you tell them, even though it seems as if they have no idea you exist. They listen and you can see they did when you observe them growing up and being a leader with others. And she was right.

My friend passed away several years ago, and it was sad for everyone who knew her. She was a good lady, always there to help. Always there if you needed to talk. She had several types of cancer in her lifetime, which eventually took her. She was so strong, but what choice did she have? I’m so glad to have good memories of many talks with her. I still consult my mental pages of the Joyce Cross Alexander Book of Hope, Faith, and Love.

Confidence is a great asset if you have it. It is so eluding if you can’t stand up for yourself, either not caring to or by not knowing how. My lack was in not knowing how. There was a fine line between confidence and vanity, according to our elders in the 1950s and 1960s. Especially if you were a girl. I believe this is why many Moms lived lives through their children. Their children’s successes became theirs. Their children’s failures became theirs, also. (The term, “I have failed as a Mother,”) that TV character Beverly Goldberg uses is used for humor, but I believe there were a lot of Mom’s who felt they were failures. It’s a shame it took women so long to find their worth in additional areas besides motherhood. Don’t get me wrong, motherhood is wonderful and fulfilling, as long as you raise those children to leave you. Your job is to teach them so they can leave you, as it should be.

I have to say, it’s harder to let go when you’re a single parent, in my opinion. I struggled for a long time trying to figure out, “So, what’s next?” I still had a good relationship with my three kids, but I hadn’t a clue what to do with all that time, despite all my hobbies. I finished college for me. I was happy to have earned a promotion at work, so I would finally have a great income. (Mom always said when you don’t need money anymore is when it comes your way.)

I became ill after that, and within six years could no longer work. At the age of 49. That was a blow to me. I turned it into gratitude, though, but being grateful I was well and working until my kids could go out on their own. After that I met the Babe. By the time I couldn’t work, we were married and my time was filled. I’ve picked up on a lot of my old interests and some new ones, too. Filling my time is no longer a problem.

So with all that, thank you for reading today. Keep good thoughts in your heart today. Be positive. Wash up, wipe down, wear masks. We’ll all come out on the other side of all this in a better place. I’ll see you tomorrow. And by then, maybe I’ll remember what I wrote about in the blog that is now forever lost, out there floating in the wasteland of the Internet, unfinished.

Thinking About Thursday

This Plant Needs Prayers!

Our beautiful pure-bred hunting dog must be a vegetarian or something. She mangled about four plants this week. I suppose it’s my fault for trusting her too much. She’s a puppy, still. And now, she’s sleeping peacefully on the floor by me while I write and it rains outside. All is right with the world.

She’s Sleeping Near the Bag of Coloring Supplies.

It started out a beautiful day, right now, the clouds are rolling in. It’s still a beautiful day and when the rain comes in, I’ll be grateful to not have to water. Even the plant Goldie tried to eat. Well, I guess she DID eat it.

I am so happy to have these two dogs for companionship. They are great company and comfort, even if they just nap in the room I occupy at any given moment. They are powerful creatures. They sense everything about us. Earlier this week, Lexie didn’t like Goldie tugging at a toy Gavin was going to throw for fetch. Lexie walked over in between them and gave a low, throaty growl, ever so quietly. Goldie let go. Gavin threw the toy, Goldie fetched, Lexie walked away and laid down again. She watches her people, and I love that about her.

I had a great conversation with my book coach Sam this morning. We have developed a plan for July and August. I’m taking a slightly different path in as much as I’m writing a different story over these two months, and will check in regularly to discuss the progress or lack thereof. If you’d like to read about Sam, here is a link to her website. You’ll hear a lot more about Sam and our work later in the summer.

Today is a day filled with significant birthdays! In addition to being Sir Paul McCartney’s birthday, it’s my older brother’s birthday and Dan’s younger sister’s birthday. Tom Jewell and Linda Ulmer, Happy Birthdays! Hope you both have a great day. Don’t need to wish Sir Paul one, after all, he’s Paul McCartney!

It seems the food industry is rebranding several products we have used for decades and probably not realized their packaging was racist. Aunt Jemima is having a makeover. I suppose it must be done. For years, I haven’t given it a thought using these products. I thought the updating done last was just like the Betty Crocker image on packaging, cook books, and other items. Were women offended by an old fashioned representation on the cook books? I don’t remember.

Uncle Ben and the cook on Cream of Wheat simply told me they were pictures on a package. No different than any other picture. And now, things will change. Will it change the violence in the streets? Most likely not. But those offensive photos will no longer be staring out from shelves in the stores. So be it.

Sometimes I can’t help but think there needs to come a point where we stop being offended. Where we stop pointing fingers and placing blame, and sit down and formulate a plan to just stop all of this. Both sides. Just stop it! Start respecting each other, just because God created all of us. Then work on being better humans. As you work together, and have frank discussions, you will grow in respect of each other. And yourselves. Do something that’s never been done. Admit there is fault on both sides. Quit being the stereotypes we all hate. The bad cop. The bad punk. The gangster. The professional rioter. Talk to each other. Talk with each other. Listen to each other. Listen to hear. Hear and act. Act in a rational manner. Make the change you want for everyone. Teach your children how to respect and behave, not show attitude and bad behavior.

We have plans to watch Gavin play ball over the weekend. Being a tournament, there are quite a few games to get in. And of course, the forecast is calling for a whole bunch of rain. It wouldn’t be a ball tournament without it!

I also have a lot of writing things to accomplish in the next three weeks. It will be a great way to spend time, and a great way to move forward with my projects. A plan and a partner work well together. I’m looking forward to it.

Thank you for reading today. I appreciate your time. It rained quite nicely here, and now appears to be dreary for the rest of the day. Perhaps dreary and rain is what my Goldie – relocated plants needs to come back to life. I’ll see you tomorrow! Stay safe. Wash your mask before you wear it again! Wash your hands. Be a good example. Teach your children well.

Sunday, Sunday

Were Sundays a special day when you were a kid? They were for us. Not so much for my mom. Since my dad worked at the Omaha World Herald on the night shift, he worked well into the early hours of Sunday. If there were mechanical breakdowns, he could be hours late getting home. Usually, he was able to fulfill his Sunday Mass obligation at the old St. Joe’s Hospital Chapel at 5 a.m., on his way home. He attended Mass with the nurses, and hurried home so Mom could go at 6 a.m. to our parish church. She would get home, wake us kids up, and my older brother and I walked to St. Bridget’s in South Omaha for the 9 a.m. Children’s Mass. We sat separated by gender just like at daily mass, which we were required to attend, too. Sunday had lots of people seated in the pews behind the children.

There was no 5 p.m. Mass during those days. That started in the very late 60’s, early 70’s. To this day, my Protestant friends laugh. They swear Catholics are the only religious denomination who can tell you where the shortest service is, time-wise. I marvel at how true that is. Never about the sermon, or the music, just about the world’s shortest Mass. Crazy!

After we went to Mass, Mom loaded all of us into the family truckster and we would go visit both grandparent’s every Sunday. They were always home. Grandma Jewell baked clover leaf rolls and Caramel Sticky Buns every week. From scratch, no less. Her house smelled heavenly. I can still smell the love when I drive past 3324 Center Street in Omaha. It will always be Grandma’s house to me.

After that, we would go to Grandma Bobell’s house. Grandpa was sometimes mowing the grass or had just finished. We would sit in their shaded backyard and visit. No matter how boring it was, you would never dare say that word out loud. Never. Grandma usually had some concoction of a snack for us. Crackers, store bought cookies, frozen juice. They were exotic treats to us because we didn’t have crackers at home for a snack, and cookies were made from scratch (cheaper back then) and juice? I think not. We drank water. No Kool-Aid or sodas for us. Water. Take it or leave it.

Did it hurt us? Heck no! We even wore our nice clothes all day on Sunday. Sunday-best was a phrase I think people used for a very long time. No pajamas and jeans were not pants anyone wore unless you were a laborer or farmer. No, jeans were not permitted at school events, dances, and we wore uniforms so they were not mainstream until about 1970. Seriously. Little boys wore dress pants/trousers just like their Dad’s and Grandpa’s. They wore a belt, they wore button shirts. There was no skipping on what was acceptable attire. The t-shirt with messages was not on the horizon until the late 70’s or early 80s. We wore leather shoes. Everyone. Tennis shoes were Keds or Converse and were strictly for tennis or basketball. I believe the first jogging shoes were the blue suede/leather ones. The fad started in the gay community and grew from there.

I love a good pair of jeans and a comfy t-shirt, believe me. I do think there is a lot to say for how we dress as a society now. We have gone beyond casual/stay at home comfy/pajamas for going out in public. We have become kind of slovenly. With that, our demeanor and speech has become so as well. There is no “polite company” any more it seems. I’m just as guilty as the rest of the world for dressing casual and for very casual speech. Guilty as I charge. I think there is a lot of respect for ourselves and our fellow humans we could regain if we could monitor how we are when we leave our front doors. We would show more respect for ourselves. We would show more respect for each other. We would garner more respect, too.

I’m not saying wear suits everywhere, I’m saying wear well fitting clothes, clean clothes, and you will be met with better reactions. It should be part of everyone. Growing up the Babe and I didn’t have a lot as kids, but we were clean. Soap and water are still cheap. Clean clothes take effort but they are worth it. Pull your pants up, make sure they fit. Don’t send a bad message with your wardrobe. Be respectful. You will be respected.

There was a Black Lives Matter march of a different sort in Omaha yesterday. A group of young black men, dressed in suit coats, dress pants, shirts, ties, shoes, belts, who marched from Joslyn Museum on 24th and Dodge to somewhere downtown/Old Market area. I searched and could not find where, sorry! They have the right idea.

I believe we can all garner more respect when our appearance and demeanor is reflected in our dress, attitude, and actions. There is anger, and right now, although justified, I believe it is out of control. We all need to dial it back a notch or ten and use the anger for constructive dialogue. For it to work, we all need to be on the same page. All of us. Unless we do this soon, I think we’re doomed. And I would hate to see that happen to my country. The greatest country in the world. The United States of America. Let’s learn our real history, even the ugly parts. We need to remember how we’ve been oppressive, immoral, amoral, and committed grave errors for us to not go there again.

We all judge people. We hate to admit it but we do. Be aware and stop yourself from doing it. Especially if they are a lot different than you are. Check your prejudices and comments. About people of color. About policemen. About old people. About young people. I’m trying. Try with me.

Thank you for reading today. I appreciate your support. I’ll be here again tomorrow, as will our grandson Gavin, the dogs, and we’ll see you all then Be Kind. Be Thoughtful. Be Respectful. Wash your hands. Wear your mask. Stay outside.

Wednesday’s Words

How do we use ordinary words to explain to our kids and grandkids what is going on in the world right now. Give me the pandemic back, please! They understand they don’t want Grandma and Grandpa to get sick, really sick. This unrest? They don’t, because it can come into their neighborhood, to their school, to their grocery store, or to the place Daddy or Mommy go to work every day. When it turns violent, everyone is at risk.

Having grown up in the 1960s, I remember all too well hearing stories about segregation. EXTREME segregation. Read anything about Josephine Baker (from the 1920s), Lena Horne (1940s), Sammy Davis Jr. (1950s-1960s and beyond), George Wallace and his hatefulness, the Tuskegee Airmen, and you will learn how one world was ok for us, and another was ok for them. Read “The Help” or watch the movie. It was true. All true. So much misinformation about how people of color functioned as humans. They can run faster. They cannot learn as well. They will pass diseases if they are allowed to use white only facilities. Really?? How sad. It makes me ashamed to be remember hearing these things. Not from my parents, but from “others.”

Henrietta Lacks was a black woman who had cervical cancer. Her journey to immortality took place at Johns Hopkins University where she was treated for her cancer. She was also experimented upon and used as a guinea pig by researchers. How they used her is sinful. It is criminal. And they just thought because she was black she couldn’t understand and didn’t bother treating her as one of God’s children, and experimented on the poor woman. After she passed, her family discovered all the ugliness that happened, and finally, her story was told. Shame on Johns Hopkins. Shame on everyone involved. The book about her life is called, “The Immortality of Henrietta Lacks.” It’s very educational.

Right in the middle of the 1960s, the unthinkable happened to my white, Irish (Polish, German, Dutch, Catholic School in South Omaha. My dad and all his brothers and sister attended there as young kids, too. We were getting a new gym teacher. We heard he was black. What? Tongues were wagging. How can that be? It was, and that was the way it was going to be. My folks didn’t say much, except to say he was attending Omaha University (now UNO), and he was a black man. We didn’t know what that would mean to us.

I’ll never forget the apprehension on his face as our class entered the gym. He introduced himself. He was a large man, very athletic. Muscular. He had a soft, gentle voice. Over the months that ensued, he gained our trust and love. Even through dodge ball. He was kind to us all. We learned he was married, with a little girl, and a wife who attended college also. Sometimes they were without child care and he would bring his little girl to class. The girls took turns playing with her. It was fun.

At Christmas time, my mom always went overboard doing what she loved. Baking Christmas cookies. She baked over 167 dozen cookies one year. This particular year, when giving my brother and me boxes to deliver to the teachers, she gave me one and told me, “This is for Mr. Hepburn.” I was happy and nervous to deliver it to him.

I approached him before class and handed him the package. “This is for you, Mr. Hepburn.” I was too shy to tell him it was from my brother and me. He thanked the whole class and they looked at me funny. I felt the flush in my face. After class I went to him and told him, “Mr. Hepburn, I forgot to say this was from my brother and me.” His eyes lit up. He was so grateful. I’ll never forget that look in his eyes.

A week later, he gave me a beautifully handwritten thank you note. My mom was tickled pink. He was always so nice to me as an individual person after that. In high school I learned he was on the semi pro football team the Omaha Mustangs. I was so proud to have known him, his name was often in the Sports section of the Omaha World Herald.

And then, in the fall of my sophomore year of high school, the worst happened. We heard Glen Hepburn sustained a serious head injury in a game played that Saturday night. He died two days later. I was stunned. He was such a nice man. And he had two little girls and his wife to take care of. How can this be happening? I never could understand that. But at least it was an accident. No malice or prejudice took his life. He was a good man, and I’ve remembered him often as one through the last fifty some years. A good man, gone far too soon. I wonder if his wife remarried, and I wonder about his children. I hope they had good lives, too. I just know their Dad is proud of them from heaven.

Kindness is a great teacher. I saw my mother’s kindness taught to me, her daughter, and reflected in the face of a kind black man. I’m grateful for that memory that is so fresh in my mind today. Care for each other. Share a cookie or two.

Thank you for reading today. I appreciate your time. Have a good day today, be kind to someone new, and I’ll see you tomorrow. You know I’ll be here.

Is It Thursday?

By the time I go from the bedroom to the kitchen, I can lose track of what day it is. I also lose it by the afternoon or early evening, even though it doesn’t matter. Losing track. Used to be we needed to at least act we were with it, on top of the world, holding our finger on the pulse of business, industry, creation, religion, and whatever else arena we needed to compete in. It just isn’t that important any more. In some ways, I hope that remains, so we don’t put so much pressure on ourselves. So that our jobs, society, and leisure times don’t put so much pressure on our psyches. It’s too much. I hope we never get that way again.

I hope we don’t because the time we are making for our families right now shouldn’t be lost. Yes, parents probably need a break right about now, but so do the kids. If you’re unfortunate and have badly behaved kids, you can fix that right now. Before school starts again. Before sports start again. Before work starts again. The most important thing for us all to learn is be kind to the world. Be kind to your kids, school, sports teams, and co-workers. We can unlearn any bad habits we have, so can our kids. Make up for lost time in what’s left before we can go out again with no masks. Think long and hard about it. Your whole life can change for the better right now.

We must begin somewhere

After my breast cancer treatment and after my wonderful niece and friend Wendy lost her husband, she came to see me and brought a gift. It was a plaque and stand. It helped me get up out of the chair, start walking, start doing all the things I’d stopped doing while I was too tired to do anything. It did the trick. And since that day over ten years ago, I put it out where I can see it when I need a jumpstart to get back to living. I took it out this week, and it’s now on the mantle again. The Babe and I both see it every morning while we have coffee. It’s gotten us both going. Let’s all get going. Let’s be interested in life whether you’re still in quarantine or whether you’re going to ease back into life outside of your home. Be cautious, but do it. You have to start somewhere. We all have to start somewhere.

Due to technical difficulties, I cannot post a photo of the plaque. It says “today BEGIN”. I’ll post a pic when it is available. The words are powerful for me, and I hope they are for you, too, it you need them. At different times in life, we all do. And in times of pandemic, we all do at the same times.

Restrictions in restaurants are lifted, with certain new rules in place. Many places are continuing take out orders only. Some are opening. The VFW Post 2503 is planning on opening on Wednesday, May 6, 2020, at 4 p.m. for a Hamburger Night. A limited menu will be available. No drinks sold unless they are sold with a dine-in meal.

Superb Saturday

The Sweatshop shut down early today. Now it’s up to the shipping department!

I’m sitting outside in the sunshine where the temperature is about sixty degrees, according to my Google Pixel phone. Except for a bit too much breeze, the day is perfect. That’s Nebraska in the Spring, boarders on bipolar many years. I do miss some of the flower garden I used to have. Peonies and beautiful Iris, the first flowers of my garden. I’d take them to my dad’s grave on my birthday, before the Memorial Day grave decorators are out.

It’s too beautiful to stay inside. After a false start a couple weeks ago here we are again. The dogs love it, we love it, it’s out happy place, either on the deck or patio. Right now it’s the patio, more sun is present at this hour. I’m so grateful to be here for another day of life. I finished a bunch of facemasks today. The sweatshop is closed. The shipping department will do it’s thing later today, and the Babe will mail the packages on Monday. Funny thing. The IT Department in Sioux Falls notified me they actually DO need the power cord for the backup hard drive they need to troubleshoot. I just have to laugh. We humans make funny boo boos, don’t we? So it will be mailed to the IT Department in South Dakota. Probably not until Monday. Neither of us are going anywhere anytime soon, you know?

I’m looking forward to watching my friend, Jimmy Weber, sing tonight and play some of his new songs. Folks, I’m making a public confession here. I was not a great country fan until I heard Jimmy perform alone and with friends. He can play like nobody’s business, sing with heartfelt emotion, and make it entertaining and fun. I’m a fan, and have been introduced to other performers through him. I appreciate his expert guitar playing on any genre. And he’s a great human being. He will go live tonight from 8 – 9:30 p.m. CDT. You will be amazed at this talent. He will be assisted by his manager, (Handsome Jake Meyer), tech guy, songwriter, and moral support division. He’s a good guy, too.

The incomparable Jimmy Weber.
7 – 8:30 Tonight, on Facebook Live, Jimmy Weber’s Page.

There are quite a few things to do before I settle in to watch and listen to Jimmy Weber tonight. Finish my Intake Q & A for my Book Coach, submit it and the first ten pages of my manuscript (I get goosebumps when I say that word), edit some more with Pro Writing Aid, and do those meals we need. Probably a late lunch/early dinner. The Chicken Chimichanga’s were awesome! We had pineapple and peach salsa, so it covered all the food groups, folks. Leftovers today and one more meal (frozen).

Cooking fiasco. I couldn’t believe it. On Easter Sunday, the bread was baking in the oven. All of a sudden, black smoke came rolling out of the top vent, and filled the kitchen, living room, and everywhere. The butter on top of the bread melted and fell to the bottom of the oven. Right on the hot metal that covers the flame in the newer gas stove we have. Wow. It was really something. We got it cleared out pretty quickly, but it was pretty amazing. I have not done anything like that ever. I do actually know how to cook, bake, and a few other things. It troubled me, the smoke detectors never went off. Never. They are hard wired into the electrical system, so even if the batteries were dead, they should work. Hmmmm. After watching Tiger King on Netflix, maybe my suspicions are aroused. I’ll have to check it out. Damn that Carole Baskin person!

Thanks for reading today. Listen to Jimmy Weber tonight, you’ll be glad you did. It’s like you’re sitting down with him talking over a beverage and he’s playing just for you. Enjoy! I’ll see you again tomorrow. Be Safe. Be Kind. Be Informed.