Terrific Tuesday

There is something wonderful about being retired, and you’re both home at the same time, and you have no specific plans for the day and somehow, you’re busier than all get out, and you get a lot done, and one of you doesn’t even need to leave the house. I hope you all get to experience it someday!

The Babe had a rare day at home, so he did the yard, I worked on learning how to applique on my new sewing machine. Yesterday was the day to do a bunch of the squares, but things fell apart. It was mesmerizing to listen to a new machine, humming away, doing it’s thing, and putting you into a reverie. I learned it gives you a warning when the bobbin is close to running out. No more paying “Chicken” as you sew through a seam. I cannot wait to learn how to use the embroidery machine. I have a pinkish stretchy jean fabric to make a pair of pants and a jean jacket. I want some machine embroidery on it. I look forward to doing it.

The last few weeks have been pretty busy, with my volunteering nearing an end at the VFW Post 2503. We are hosting an event with a PTSD Speaker, followed by training on Talk Saves Lives. It is September 25, 2022, from Noon until 4 p.m. at the Post, and it is free. If you have an interest, message me for more info. I hope this takes off locally. While it’s not a great topic, it’s a necessary topic. Too many people (soldiers, police officers, first responders, retired police officers and soldiers, children, and kids) find this the way to deal with terrible problems in their lives. It is a tragedy all the way around. PTSD is nothing you overcome, it’s something you learn to live with. You learn the triggers. You learn ways to cope. It’s big. And you must become bigger.

I have a good friend who struggles with complex PTSD. I don’t know how to help her. I can only reach out and hope it’s the right thing to do. My heart hurts for her. And it must hurt like hell to be her, and to experience all that she does. I pray, and want to learn to be a friend she needs. I want to learn. I want to be effective, as a sounding board when she needs one. And anyone else.

I felt so joyous working on a quilt again; and it is a special quilt. It is for my darling granddaughter Kayla, who lives with her parents and brother in Colorado. I told my daughter Rebecca I envision Kayla all bundled up in it and sleeping like an angel. Rebecca burst my bubble and told me, “No, Mom. She usually throws everything on the floor, and sleeps sideways.”

Oh, my! She sounds just like her mama! Rebecca really was a free spirit as a child, and I let her be whoever she needed to be. She decided her “look” in middle school and high school. With all my kids, our agreement was do your own thing at school and with your friends. Just understand, there are times when you need to dress appropriately for an event. A funeral, a wedding, a party for Grandma, Christmas. You understand. I employed that attitude with all my kids, and I believe it let them express whoever they were at the time.

Today, I was enjoying our unstructured day so much, I forgot a doctor’s appointment this morning. It was for a followup ultrasound on my legs, specifically, the venous systems. I decided to have some intervention with insufficient valves in both of the lower legs. One leg had bad veins closed off. The other leg, had the veins closed off and many of the veins just below the surface excised. Plebectomy is the term. Veins removed surgically.

I’m amazed by the whole process. It used to be, you were hospitalized for stripping your veins.I remember I was hospitalized for my thyroid in 8th grade, before high school. Tests, etc. I was in with a woman who had the veins stripped in her legs. They were blood red from the methyolate or merchochrome. What an experience for a 14 year old girl.

My mom, however, was disgusted because this lady wore sexy negligee’s every day. One day it was black lace, one day it was red lace, and one day white lace. Mom was disgusted and thought I’d be damaged from such an exhibition. I don’t recall much else, but thought her legs must be painful. How odd now I would be experiencing a similar procedure only as an outpatient procedure. You could even drive home afterwards. I opted to have the Babe drive me home. Someday I might not have that option. Use it while you can.

I hope your day was pleasant as ours was. It’s late, and we need to get ready for sleep. Take care, and we’ll see you tomorrow!

Tuesday Things

Why do we keep doing this daylight savings thing? It’s pretty disruptive to our lives, internal clocks, our workdays, our sleep patterns, and our dogs feeding schedules. There are debates every year why we do it, why we keep doing it, and especially why we should or should not keep doing it.

I remember the first year of high school we were not on daylight savings time. There was a lot of discussion about what time we needed to assemble at school to take a bus to a Friday night football game in an adjoining state. It was maddening. Our high school did not have air conditioning and had early dismissal some afternoons at 1 p.m. The heat was unbearable, and we wore wool uniforms.

It seems as if the entire world is air-conditioned now. No more worries of if being too hot in a school during the day. No more heat while shopping, enjoying a movie, or going to church. Anyone watch an old movie lately where there is an afternoon baseball game (remember, there were no lights in stadiums for night games) and all the men in the crowd wore suits and hats? It is how people dressed in the 30s, 40s, and 50s. Even as kids, the Babe and I didn’t wear jeans. They were not acceptable at schools or dances. The boys and men wore trousers. Everyone wore leather shoes. It’s all we had.

There have been many times in my life when all I’ve had is hope. Hope someone will recover from a serious accident or illness, hope the money will get to the bank before a check that covers a bill will cash, hope the unfamiliar noise in the car isn’t an expensive repair. There are times I recall tougher times like these and the resulting gratitude is overwhelming.

They seem like such basic things. It’s such a vivid memory because it occurred a lot. You never gave up, though. As soon as you blinked while looking life square in the eye, you wavered. You lost hope. Maybe you gave up. If you backed down, it would be very difficult to regain your foothold for progress. It could stall your forward momentum. All you wanted is a rest. Rest. And get back to it. C’mon! You’re so close to your goal! You can do it!

As we all go about the day on this hopeful Tuesday, let’s not count the things we do; let’s do the things that count! Zig Ziglar really knew what he was talking about. Help make the world a better place. We all can. Let’s meet again tomorrow. Be safe out there.

Satisfying Sunday

The wedding yesterday was so fun. It’s always so sweet to watch a couple just starting out. They are often a bit older than back in the day, they are established in their careers, they may even be homeowners already. This was such a memorable event because nearing the end of November, we were outside, with a beautiful Iowa cornfield as a backdrop. It was absolutely perfect, no wind or breeze, a warm late fall sun shining, and a couple who are clearly crazy about each other. The three sisters have all had beautiful weddings over the last couple years, all unique, all as special as they are. Their dad shed tears over each of his girls, and they were great hosts each time. It does our hearts good. The world is choosing to go on, with God’s grace. The Pandemic has been awful, many have lost hope, but we saw the future last night. It’s the hope, all rolled into these families who gathered. It’s in our hearts even today. Check out this beautiful venue!

And it’s come at a great time for me. I tend to get depressed over the next six weeks. I’m not alone, I know. It’s easier to admit that out loud, then I give voice to it. Over the last year or so, I’ve grappled with it, and I will conquer it again this year. Now, we have many things to celebrate; we both had COVID in October, and have no lasting effects from it. We’re grateful for our health, each other, our friends, relatives (well, most of them!), and I look forward to making Thanksgiving dinner. Many of the old standard dishes will be made. I’m trying mashed potatoes in the crock pot. I look forward to trying that out. It’ll be fun. My daughter has two toddlers, who would be fun. However, they spend holidays with her husband’s mom, she’s a widow, and her son is the only child. She would be seriously alone if they traveled. I’m perfectly fine with sharing my daughter with someone who may need her more than I do.

I read this morning may be we’re not as different as we think. I had to think about that quite a bit. Even kids without alcoholic parents have had bad experiences growing up. They’ve experienced feeling weak, lonely, their homes could have been disrupted by serious illness, not alcohol fueled havoc. And don’t get me wrong. Mom’s drinking got worse after I left home. My two younger brothers had completely different parents than my older brother and I had. But other kids have their own stories, scars, brave hopes. They may have had it worse than we did. It is possible.

I think families were very tight lipped when we grew up. If there was domestic violence, no one talked about it. It may have shown, the woman wearing makeup over her bruises to church. No one ever said anything. Children in that home grew up as unevenly as we did.

We are as imperfect and glorious as they are. They are not the enemy. We all have things. We all have bad memories. We all are deserving of good, safe, productive lives. We all deserve a safe, loving relationship, if that’s what we want. We may have to change some bad habits to have one. The one I had to change was not believe love hurts, to believe it truly existed, and good, solid single men existed. Once I let one walk into my heart, I’ve healed. I’m most grateful for that.

I’m going to spend the rest of the day reading and using my heating pad. This colder weather does a number on my back. It’s going to be a busy week, and I need to be better than I am right now. Lots of sitting at the keyboard last week. Have appointments all day tomorrow, so more busy happening. See you tomorrow!

Thankful, Thoughtful Thursday

It is still a dreary morning here at the home office in Gretna, Nebraska. I have a dog in my lap (a 50+ pound dog, by the way), one on the couch, a cup of hot coffee, and you guys out there. It’s been a long time since we had the news on in the morning. The Babe and I have been sitting on the deck for several hours for the past month or so. It’s quite a change for sure.

In fact, the news is now full of wildfires (although one was started by a baby reveal party gone wrong. Shame on them!), and Bob Woodward’s new book, and doom and gloom. Ah, the sky is falling, isn’t it? Or is it?

I wonder if there is any of California left, it seems as if it will burn itself out soon. I feel badly for the people who lose everything. Imagine the payouts the insurance companies will be paying out. And where will they go? What will they do? These are going to be long-term interruptions in people’s lives. Again, how much can the state do to help?

Not only are these concerns, the thing I think about is the air quality. I know what a little bit of smoke does for my asthma, I can’t imagine what that kind of smoke will do to healthy lungs. Health concerns are always near the top of my list. All we can do is pray for everyone out there. My first thought about Oregon fires was too bad the areas being destroyed by looters isn’t in the region of fires. Maybe the fires would calm the chaos that is happening out there. I thought maybe it would help.

Did you notice the difference in my thoughts here so far? I did. Instead of enjoying beauty of the outdoors and the positivity which results from that, we could have news blues. Wow. In a conscious effort to turn that around, I just have to look around me. I’m grateful for the warm, loving home we have. The Babe is off taking our beautiful Addison to school early this morning, she has a Student Council. It’s so neat to see how she is picking and choosing what she wants to spend her time doing. I was such a shy, introverted girl at that age, and I marvel at this young lady and her casual openness.

The Babe and I were talking about when Addison was little, when she’d spend the night, she would always play the same trick on Grandpa. One of the toys we had was a Curious George doll whose face lit up when you squeezed his tummy. Before she would go home, she would come whisper in my ear, telling me she was going to hide George under Grandpa’s pillow so he would see it when he went to bed later that night. He always laughed and she thought she was so sly. Those kids really leave imprints on your heart with such sweet memories.

See the difference? I’m smiling while remembering those sweet times and the warmth of life, the hope for tomorrow that grandkids give us. The world is indeed much more wonderful than the current situation would indicate. Choose hope, and life, and love to be part of your diet, not doom, media and gloom, and hopelessness.

Letting Go is the best!

The good news is I got a good start on my origin stories for characters in my book. I plan to finish it up today, and do the other homework I have for another conference with my book coach, Sam Tyler. She is making me a better writer. She is bringing out the better in my characterizations, describing the scenarios and getting out the backstory where it’s appropriate. It’s well worth it.

I’m off to another day of working on my story, switching out decorations from summer to fall, and enjoying another blessed day with the Babe and the pups. With all the “stuff” there is in life, consumer goods and difficulties, the best cure for the News Blues is gratitude. We are a blue collar middle class couple. We both started late on our retirement plans, we don’t have the million dollars some folks our ages have in their retirement plans. We are comfortable where we are. We worked hard for all we have, as did most people we know. Some have more than others, their opportunities were different.

I was taught if the opportunity isn’t in front of me, I needed to learn to create my own opportunity. I believe every school kid should learn how to do this. Then we will be equal, in opportunities and learning how to utilize them. We have to show up, learn, step up, and rely on our knowledge to make a good life. Hard work never hurt anyone, especially the Babe and me. We are truly blessed.

Enjoy your day. The rain will pass. We will have sunshine again. Thank you for reading, I appreciate it very much. Be safe, be kind, be aware. Let’s keep distancing and wearing our masks, it’s the least we can do. And yes, the days I wear my mask many hours, my face breaks out, too. So, even Grandma’s have maskne. What a deal. See you tomorrow! I look forward to it!

Fabulous Friday

It is really a beautiful day outside. I swear God sends cold fronts through the humid and hot areas like Nebraska to give us a break and make us feel like living again. It improves the general feeling of your soul and gives your mind a break. Still, I like the four seasons. Four “alleged” seasons. It seems like we skip a lot of spring and a portion of fall many times. Hope there is comfort to deal with the rest of the pandemic we are having.

Where we live in Gretna, it is very close to Omaha. The VFW Post we attend is in Omaha. We have concerns about the possible mask ordinance Omaha was considering. It appears the health department has backed off from enacting one. I say it’s a shame, the legalities were questioned and they asked people to use their best judgment. With those rights comes responsibilities. To me, it makes sense to wear a mask. We do not often make the best judgments. Some use motorcycle helmets as an example. I favor helmets, seat belts, and wearing masks. Yes, it’s annoying. So are helmets and seatbelts. But I’m safer using them.

My asthma doc ordered me to have a COVID test before my appointment with her last week. I thought I would test negative and did. I believe curtailing my social activity and social distancing, which includes wearing a mask when shopping is helping. Please think long term on the outcome, it may make more sense.

Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

In addition to working on my Poppies Quilt, I’m devouring a couple more books for writers: Write Great Beginnings, and Point of View. It appears there is more competition than ever to attract a reader who will read a book. It also appears there are fewer who start a book who actually finish one. I have only quit reading maybe 4 books in the last ten years. When I buy them, I think it’s a terrible waste to not finish. One was borrowed from the library, a biography by Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys. Brian is a genius and has had mental illness for nearly his entire life. It’s a very sad story, and one that concludes well. There are better versions written, believe me.

In addition to having a hook to attract a reader, you have to do a lot to keep them reading. Each chapter ending should make them just want to keep reading. I love books that do that. They are easy to read and quick. No time wasted. Now to learn how to do exactly that.

I have some real characters to introduce once I build them. It is such fun to be able to do that. There is something I read to make sure to appeal to the theater of the reader’s mind. What does that mean? Simply put, have you ever enjoyed a book more than a movie? Yes, an author needs to write so well the images in our minds are vivid and our imaginations can take us through the story. That’s the challenge.

Conflict is the center of fiction. Intensifying the troubles that stand in a main characters way. The problems are big, and he or she drive the story with their decisions. Because they chose this, something else happens. I’m told it gets easier the more I understand it. I trust Sam Tyler, my writing coach. She has made this endeavor so good for me. I’m so lucky to know her from the Nebraska Writers Guild. She is a writer and coach. Very good with critique. Asks hard questions. All with good reason. If I can’t answer the questions, how can I write my answers to them?

AHA! There it is! This is also a great living example of why/how to outline everything (major events) in the story you want to tell. Sure, you have it all in your head, but trust me, your memory isn’t that great some (most) of the time. As I write, other ideas spill out and I can end up in a completely different area than I wanted to be. I’m learning to be a planner, not a pantster. A pantster is writing by the seat of your pants. When you think you have a great idea, it’s easy to think you don’t need to plan anything. I can be foolish at times!

Just as maps are not always up to date in Google, our outlines can leave a bit to be desired. We need to be open (always) to modifying the outline. Even if you’re well into the story. Lots to think about. Lots to wade through.

And There You GO!

Off to work on another unrelated issue. I’m helping get information together for the new VFW Post 2503 website. It should be a fun project. The one we have is pretty outdated and cumbersome to work on. I’ll be learning some WordPress tricks I don’t know and will benefit tremendously from it. Thank you for taking time to read the blog today. I appreciate it, and hope to see you tomorrow. Stay Safe, my friends. I want you all with me the rest of this journey. Be Kind. Be Courteous. Be Careful out There!

Masterful Monday

Can that be right? Masterful is defined as imposing one’s will on others. It’s being domineering, imperious, imperative, and peremptory. Huh? It does sound pretty unflattering, even to call Monday. But I don’t mean it in a bad way. My intent is all that matters here, and my intent is good. It’s a good thing. How so?

I do not want to be a person who regrets not doing things they always wanted to do. I will publish a novel and some children’s books. Before I don’t have the opportunity any more. In order to do that, I need to have my ambitions and my skills and my purpose defined, mapped out, and get with the work. In a way, I’m imposing my will to do this on my ability to procrastinate. I’m making it the most important thing to accomplish in the next couple of years. Seriously. It’s got to be first. The hitch is here: it can’t be more important than spending time with the Babe, our families, our grandkids. Moderation is the key. And work like hell in the block of time I can spend on it every day.

Some Days!

Song of the Day: “I’m Going to Love You Through It,” by Martina McBride. I’ve been the woman waiting for that phone call. I’ve been the woman who hung up and thought, “Shit, now what?” It was terrible calling the Babe at work and telling him. He cried out, “No!” And he said, “I’m on the way home.” I felt terrible telling him on the phone. We always know when each other is upset, by the tone of voice. I couldn’t hide it at all. No, I’ll never play poker.

The month was October. Boy, was I aware of Breast Cancer by the end of the month! My mammogram came back needing an ultrasound. I went to have that done. The radiologist and nurse told me, yes, it’s a definite lump, and I’d need a needle biopsy. All through this, I was thinking about Dan’s ex-wife, Sandy. She was just diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer. She had immediate chemo and radiation. We were establishing a friendship, as she was no longer working. I wasn’t either. It was wonderful talking with her about her kids with Dan. We were blessed to be able to be friends.

The Babe went with me to the biopsy. He told them he was going to be in the room with me while they did it. They tried telling him, “You might want to wait outside.” He wouldn’t hear of it. ‘I was in Vietnam, so nothing bothers me.” They talked throughout the whole procedure, and as I placed my right arm above my hand, the Babe took hold of it. He didn’t let go until the doc and nurse left the room. I knew he’d love me through it. There was never any doubt about that.

The doc seemed almost cocky, though. She said the three samples didn’t look like cancer at all. I chose not to believe her. The Babe, however, believed her. So much that he was dumbstruck when the news came. I wanted to scream at her. How could she give us false hope like that? Wow. I hope she never did that again to another woman and her family. I was angry for how hurt the Babe was.

Next step was surgeon, he was quite thorough. The lump(s) were too small to be felt, trust me, everyone tried. To get clean margins, he removed enough tissue that was baseball sized. Ponder that. I’m pretty lopsided, but not bad, didn’t have reconstruction. I was in my late 50s, and I’m so fortunate to be an eleven year survivor. I don’t like the fact the medication added 30 pounds to me while removing all the estrogen from me. I’d had a hysterectomy at 39, so I was already a “quart low.” Or more. I don’t know. It’s not ever been the same, but I’m so grateful to God. Screw the 30 pounds.

Tell Your Much Needed Story

My friend Sandy, mother of the Babe’s children, lost her battle. Her sister also had the same cancer, she is gone now, too. Oral cancer claimed my sister in law, Laura. All around us, it’s been a battlefield. How it picks and chooses is a mystery. Sounds strange, though, I have always felt I would have breast cancer. I don’t know if you’d call it a premonition or not, but I was not surprised at all when I got the call. Hard as it was to tell the Babe, it was the worst to tell my baby brother, Tim, all 6+ feet of him, lean and lanky, tattooed man. He is the kindest person I’ve known. I’m lucky he’s my best friend after the Babe. He was still reeling from his loss.

Somehow, we all made it this far. And we’ll keep going. It’s what’s in the plan for our lives, I believe. Without being cocky myself, I do find it easier to see the signs God gives me. They are everywhere. See if you can tell where your signs are. They are things you would never have considered, they must be acted upon with logical thoughts and plans, not reckless abandon. While it might be God’s plan for us, we have to do our part. Just practice, it will come to you.

Thank you for all your support and reading. You’re giving me a boost that is important. We’re getting closer and closer to that year mark for blogging. It’s kind of fun to look back, and see how the writing has changed, and how many things I discover about WordPress. I’m a work in progress, and it feels so good! Wash up, Mask up, Be Kind, and I’ll see you tomorrow!

“It’s Not Too Late and I’m Not Too Old!

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.

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.

Mobile Monday

A Sunny Day or Six Would be Great!

Getting a late start today for the blog. I had two early appointments this morning, and the rest of the day had a conference with my writing coach, and a lot of thinking about what we talked about. It started out gloomy again. Maybe tomorrow. There is always hope.

I’ve had my temperature checked more today than I have in the past five years. Well, not really. I’m surprised Walmart didn’t check it. They had no disinfecting wipes to clean off the cart handles and didn’t require people to wear masks. They did a good job reconfiguring the aisles. They have some dividers in the middle of 12 foot aisles and nice markings in the aisles indicating the six foot apart rules. It was perfect. I found Butter Beans! And Dog Treats. Essentials for Cowboy Beans and for keeping the dogs happy. It was a win-win.

The conversation with my writing coach was good. I got some honest feedback to help me take my idea and what I’ve written so far, add some things, and be able to make it the best telling of my story about Katie and her seven brothers: Patrick, Andrew, Edward, John, Marty, William, and Michael. It is amazing to make the decisions about characters, their flaws and strengths, and the perils they will interact during. It’s a continuing process, and sometimes I get an idea and decide that may be in a follow-up story, maybe in a trilogy. That would be quite exciting!

Those of us in the 1970 Graduating Class from Archbishop Ryan High School will not be having our 50th Reunion this year. That is sad, but since we are all “of a certain age,” maybe we’ll start a new tradition of a 51st Reunion. It could become a thing, you know? And perhaps our good friend, Anna Merola, will be able to come from Italy. It would be wonderful!

As I left the dentist this morning near 144 & Fort in Omaha, I did see the Nebraska National Guard flyover doing a tribute flight to honor the state’s heroes in the trenches of treating COVID-19 patients. It would have been more spectacular against a blue sky, but the clouds accentuated it as well. The special tributes to those in harm’s way are incredible.

My nephew Don is an ER (ED) nurse in Arizona, and I know he is an angel to his patients. He is in the profession because of his mother, who died from oral cancer in 2007. He was a graduating senior at Bellevue East High School then. Wow. Talk about your graduation being messed up. Her funeral was the day after his 18th birthday. What a lot to overcome! Don enlisted in the USAF, and served his country. I love what he’s done with his life. And, still a newlywed, he married the lovely Carrie last November in Omaha. I’m so happy for them, proud of them, and am just waiting to see their new chapter. You, Don, are my hero. May God continue to bless you!

I’m issuing an apology in advance of you reading this meme. It is an important part of a theme in my book, and it is important for all of us to own our actions, words, and behaviors. If you do not you will never be able to be your best. It is especially hard for people who were raised in dysfunctional families. There is no shame in it, the shame is in not changing the things that are wrong. Not calling out the bad behavior within our own groups leaves the door open for passing along the bad things. And you don’t want to do that. Be strong. Be aware. Be brave enough to say, “It stops here. My family did the best they knew how. And some things need to change for the future.”

I thank you for reading today. I appreciate you so very much. See you again tomorrow, you know I’ll be here ! Stay Safe. Wash your hands. Call a Friend. Learn something new! Take care.

Summery Sunday

Good Sunday Morning! Hope you are all well. Hope you have a steamy cup or six of coffee, however you like it, and that you talk to someone you love today. It’s in reaching out that we reach each other. Not in a physical way, but symbolically, reach out so someone. It may be the only contact they (or you) have all day.

The Babe and I watched CBS Sunday Morning with Jane Pauley today. I really like that program. Although it does report some news, it talks in a very positive way about the status of all, and doesn’t try to scare the Holy Heck out of you. I’m serious. It was much more uplifting to hear from Henry Winkler about his bad dyslexia and how he has dealt with it than to hear more updates on the death totals, protesters, and elections in November. It was actually refreshing.

At first, I was with everyone who wanted normal back again. The more I read and realize that may not be what we should want, the more I don’t want it back. I love seeing families trying to plant gardens, to spend time with each other in a loving way, and for many people who have finally figured out that the Almighty Dollar isn’t what we should strive for.

I used to think it was easy for people with money to tell you it wasn’t everything. While that is true, I’ve been on both sides of the equation. Dirt poor as a single Mom, and now when money isn’t what matters any more. Years ago, my mom told me when you have enough money, it doesn’t matter anymore. Truer words were never spoken. I didn’t want for much. All I wanted was enough money to go to the grocery store AND buy shoes for each of my three kids. Without worry. Without robbing the utility bills payment and still have one kid that needed shoes. Didn’t want to get greedy.

And now, I understand how families feel who are not being paid because of their jobs being shut down. I cannot fathom being a person whose livelihood depends on tips. I never had to use a food bank or apply for government cheese, but I feel for people who don’t due to pride. As I gained more training and experience and higher pay, all it did was put me in the category of the kids not qualifying for reduced lunch at school. The raise was only $.50 per hour usually. The taxes on a single person reduced take home pay. And the guidelines for reduced lunch were your gross pay, not net pay. With the higher lunch prices, it actually was a negative net pay change. Imagine that. My answer was to get more education, and I would earn more money. That and a change of employer made all the difference in the world.

The things I’ve described above have taken a couple things I never knew I had. FAITH in myself. HOPE in my efforts. BELIEF that I could do it. As I ventured further into the world, I gained more of those three things. They’re intangible but necessary for success in anything, be it college, job interview, creating your own opportunity, or learning anything new. Like a new direction for your lives. Yes, it’s frightening. But if you don’t venture out, you’ll fail by not trying.

Do you know someone like this?
Is it YOU?

Yes, this was me about fifty years ago, right out of high school. I knew I’d never finish college much less be able to pay for it, I knew I’d never meet someone so I married my high school boyfriend, I never thought about hair styling school because I was sure I’d never work. What would the nearly 68 year old Kathy tell the then 18 year old Kathy from this perspective on her life?

  • Listen to yourself, not everyone else.
  • Get some confidence in yourself.
  • You are valuable.
  • You are intelligent.
  • You are very capable.
  • Don’t listen to negativity, especially from your mom.
  • Be brave enough to ask your dad about things.
  • Do it afraid.
  • Find a group that is on your side.
  • Find support. It’s out there.

And so many other things. There were no community colleges in the Omaha area in the late 60s and early 70s. The women’s movement was just starting here in Omaha, Nebraska, behind the curve of the nation, but it was all about things that were foreign to me, my mom, my family’s way of thinking. I now embrace certain things about it, but couldn’t imagine it back in those days.

As a late bloomer, I can only imagine what I could have accomplished with another twelve years out in the world making my way. That said, I am so grateful to have been at home with kids and having that beautiful experience. They gave me the strength to leave a bad situation and look for a better life. They were my reason for living and venturing and enjoying life. It has been quite a ride, and I regret nothing.

It’s perfectly OK to look for support outside of your family. It’s perfectly OK to be different than “they” want you to be. It’s perfectly OK to blaze a trail. Do it afraid, but do it. You’ll learn quickly. You must learn to create opportunities if you don’t see any in front of you. Education. Professional groups. Networking. Social Media. No one can take your learning away from you. Don’t keep yourself from it. It’s yours for the taking and keeping.

As we continue through these days of uncertainty, create opportunities for yourself. Work related, fine. Free time related? Sure, why not. Why do you think the baking aisle at the store is noticeably understocked right now? People are trying something new, something they haven’t had time for before. Baking is a start. Online art classes are a start. There are many, many low cost or even free ones. Check it out! Better to spend your time learning something you’ve always wanted to do than watching some of the videos out there.

And there is another benefit. A real one. If you have young kids who see you learning, it will keep them learning. They will value learning. They will value education. They will value calculated risk taking. It’s all a fantastic experience. Go for it!

Thank you so much for reading today. Enjoy this Sunday in any way you can. It remains overcast with a big chance of rain tomorrow, so the Babe is finishing the little patio garden fence. It has a gate, and is so cute! I hope to see you again tomorrow. I’ll be here, hope you are, too. Learn. Something. New. Stay healthy! Stay sane!

I’d like to believe someone wrote my story here.
It can be yours, too.