Sunday Summations 11/6/2022

It’s a chilly, rainy, wet morning at the Home Office in Gretna, Nebraska. We will see snow over the next few days. It’s ok. I’m mentally prepared for it. Yes, there are folks who blow it out of proportion, wailing how they hate the snow. Now what does that really do? Not a thing. It could ruin your day, make you difficult to be around, and make folks avoid you. 

This time of year, when the days turn raw, I think of how the dogs have all had such a frolic in the snow, the best being their first snow. Google lab puppies playing in the snow, and you’ll get some of the cutest videos of big, goofy, labs, running, slipping, sliding, and sprawling across the frozen snow. Downhill is best. 

We had a dog, Mollie, a lab/shepherd mix, who loved when I’d throw snowballs at her. She’d turn, catch them in her mouth, then look disappointed when she’d chomp them into snowflakes again. Every time. Sometime, she’d get the zoomies, doing hot laps around the yard. 

That sight always made me smile to myself. Here I was, in my 50s, and out playing in the snow, still. My brother and I used to play in the snow a lot as youngsters. The year we both got figure skates, we would walk downhill a huge hill, four blocks long, to an area at the neighborhood park, where the fire department would flood the ground, creating a skating rink every winter. There was never anyone else there, we had it all to ourselves. 

Despite the cold, we had the best time! I didn’t fall the first time on skates; and we walked up the world’s steepest hill up F Street, by Spring Lake Park. It’s hard, with cold feet, to put on shoes that sat outside in the cold for a couple hours, and walk four blocks uphill. I’d have frozen toes when we got home. They often swelled, lost feeling, and looked yellowish or white. I think it was frostbite; it still bothers me. 

We soon were able to attend the AKSARBEN ice rink, where the hockey team the Omaha Knights played. You could skate on weekends for a nominal fee. It was neat we could leave our shoes in an area, and things would still be there when we returned to put our shoes on. We could leave our coats, too, if we were dressed warmly enough. I really loved skating. 

Do you have memories of ice skating as a child? Playing hockey? Hockey skate runners were kind of scary to me. I thought they looked so sharp they could cut you if you touched them. Not sure if this is true or not, but I heard they were “faster” than figure skates. 

What in the world does that mean? 

Google, our trusty modern World Book Encyclopedia resource has many answers to many variations of that statement. It appears for one, the blades are longer on hockey skates, thus enabling longer strides. The weight of the boot is lighter as well. If the skaters were of equal ability, all things considered, the hockey skates would be faster. Isn’t that interesting? 

Hoping you have a great day. We plan to. See you tomorrow!

NaNoWriMo Day 5-Saturday

It’s a very overcast day, this day of November. There is the start of a chill in the air, the kind when you realize it will be a long time until spring. That’s not a negative thing. I really do enjoy the different seasons; trouble is, it only seems like we have three seasons instead of four. Winter’s were much more severe than they are now. That said, the Babe just shared a local forecast for the weekend that is calling for six inches of snow. That’s a bit for the first storm of the season! 

Yes, many are complaining, but at least the leaves are off the trees. If they’re not and we have a heavy, wet, snow, the trees can snap and break, causing a lot of permanent damage. It’s happened before and is never a good thing. 

As for us? We’ll snuggle in and start making soup of every kind, flavor, and concoction. It’s our fun time, getting all cozy and everything. We’re good at that sort of thing. And I’ll probably have a book or two to read, along with some quilting to do. The Babe? Cooking and football. Naps. 

It’s interesting to see how it feels like I have all this time, now that I’m writing daily 2000 word “essays” in a file for NaNoWriMo, and harvesting paragraphs to schedule the blogs ahead of publishing them several days later. Yes, it takes awhile to write that much, especially when I’ve had Mom 2 days this week and my own appointments another day. When I view the week that way, it’s ok I’m not further along than I am. 

Anyone participating in NaNoWriMo needs to remember all they do accomplish on any given day. This challenge is not supposed to make us feel like failures, missing our marks; it’s there for us to establish the habit of writing every day. Taking the time to think about how you will carve time out to write every single day can be overwhelming. Again, you can only eat an elephant one bite at a time. 

Today was a day to help the Babe out with some spreadsheets, cook a fantastic Green Chef Keto meal, Chicken Alfredo with Spaghetti Squash, and go to another Intentional Peer Support class tonight. It was fabulous!

We had a visiting instructor this week, along with our main instructor. He made a great observation. We talked about making ourselves do something. He suggested we let ourselves do something. What a difference it makes to look at it that way. He added a lot to our discussion, and we learned a lot again.  I’m not sure how much longer we have to go, two weeks at the most, I believe. 

Not sure how you feel about this, I’m not loving the barrage of Christmas commercials already. I am a firm believer in letting November be about gratitude. In my opinion, we aren’t grateful enough about the what we already have. It’s not more stuff, it’s intangible things. Security, love, peacefulness, enough to eat, a warm bed at night, and family who love us. I’m still grateful for a car with a working heater that starts, hot water for a shower, and a washer and dryer. What would be do without electricity? So many things we already have. It’s a remarkable world in which we live. Let’s spend November remembering that, ok?

The most recent book I’m reading, “The Granddaughters,” is moving along well. It’s an interesting story, and it’s unfolding with some tension, concern for the characters, and has me hoping for a good outcome. I’m pretty sure I’ll finish it by Sunday, and then I’ll let you know what I find out about Margaret Belle, the author.

Have a great rest of the day, and we’ll see each other tomorrow.

Where Did Fall Go?

Nearly all the leaves are gone from the trees in the wetlands behind our home. It’s just crazy. The weather is very fall-like all week, and would be wonderful to go check out the leaves, but I’m afraid they’d be close to all fallen. Next time. We’re going to finish up the outside yard work this weekend. I still need to re-pot some plants I brought in from outside. Just not enough hours in a day, you know? Someday there will be.

I remember when my Grandma talked about how slowly time passed in her later years. I haven’t reached that yet, and hope to, but not for a long, long time. I think she was in her early 80s then. She had her tv on constantly, every day. She’d watch game shows, CSPAN, movies, old tv shows, soap operas. All while dangling a cigarette from her lips, and letting the ash get at least 1/2 inch long. Sometimes longer. She might be playing her organ, puffing away, and Mom would take an ash tray and hold it under her cigarette until the ash fell. Grandma just kept playing the music. She was quite good at it. Played piano, all the daughters took piano, and so did I. I was the only granddaughter (I think) who learned piano. 

My son Nick learned piano. He loved playing, and was very good at it. I’m sure he could still play now. We’d both need some practice. He wasn’t much for sports, but Frankie was. Becky took ballet for a year, and was pretty good, too. She could have gone to Omaha School of Ballet, but I knew I couldn’t afford the $90 a month it cost in 1984. Who knows what she could have learned? 

Have you taken music lessons? Dance lessons? Played on a sports team? I think all kids should get the chance to play something, participate in classes or lessons to learn teamwork. Do kids still play baseball, football, or basketball at a city park and just have pickup teams? Probably showing age here, they probably don’t. Watch the movie, “The Sandlot.” It will show you kids playing a pickup game of baseball. I love that movie. 

This morning, I have to make a huge dent in the quilt project. This is for Day 3 of NaNoWriMo, and so far, so good. I scheduled Tuesday’s blog on Monday night. That’s so handy, I nearly forgot about it! It should come in handy this month.

The Babe and I had two Green Chef meals yesterday. One was a Chicken Soup, and the other a Ground Turkey/Cauliflower bowl. Lots of veggies, spices, etc. Finally figured out what was rather odifierous in the refrigerator. I had a few things that didn’t smell bad, but looked a little “iffy.” The smell continued. It was the raw cauliflower for today’s meal. It was sealed in plastic. After about 5 days in the refrigerator, the gases started to build up, and you could smell it through the plastic, the brown paper bag, and all over the fridge.

I’m just starting all over tomorrow. First, I’ll clean the refrigerator surface all over. Then put baking soda in an open bowl to freshen it up. Sheesh! Remind me to freeze any and all cauliflower that enters this house in the future. No more stinky fridge! 

I’m really bummed now. Although this is published Thursday, it’s Tuesday night. At the bottom of the sixth inning, Houston is getting skunked so far. 7 – 0, Philly is ahead. It’s still early for baseball. Yes, some folks hate it, say it’s too slow. I still think it’s the great American game. 

I don’t understand Soccer, don’t care for Basketball. Football is ok, I just think the season is soooo loooonnnngggg. August until February is too much. Nascar, I like, I just don’t have a favorite driver anymore since Tony Stewart, Junior, and others have retired. After awhile, the money isn’t worth it if your health and well-being are at stake. 

With concussion protocol the hot topic in NFL, I cannot fathom how boxing and MMA can continue. There have to be many, many concussions in those sports every round. How can they continue? I never thought two men (or women, now) who continued to beat each other about the head and body was not entertaining. I know it’s big money (boxing), but no, I’d rather not witness it. 

As you continue your day, take time to think how you enjoy your people. Friends, family, other loved ones. Be grateful. And we’ll see each other tomorrow.

Day 2 – NaNoWriMo- 2022

Technically, it’s still Day 1, but I’m working ahead of myself to get to the required 2,000 word count for the first day. I decided it would be easier to write ahead a blog or two, then maybe work on book things for a couple days. Change it up a bit, you know?

I haven’t checked the official NaNoWriMo website yet, or logged in at all to confirm I’m present and accounted for. Since I have Mom things two days in a row, I believe working at this changed up plan will help me stay writing and not give up when I don’t have time to engage. My determination tells me there is a way, and my brain is just trying to get it organized in a way to see it through to completion.

I have the World Series on. Wow. Phillies, at home, just hit a homer and scored two. In the bottom of the first inning. It might be a long night. A little trivia, here. In addition to Kyle Schwarber coming from the Cubs to the Phillies, two young men from Nebraska are in their first World Series. How cool! One on each team. What a story. I will love watching Gavin all through his baseball career, wherever it takes him. Grandma Kathy and Grandpa Dan will be cheering him on from the stands. Or bleachers. Or a Suite, who knows?

It’s always a trip taking Mom to the foot doctor. She goes to have them trim her toe nails. I’m glad, I’m not a foot person. I find feet are kind of creepy, but they’re workhorses. I can no longer wear fun, cute shoes. I’m doomed to sensible shoes, but have found some online places to buy fun designs on sneakers, etc. I have quite a collection, and three pairs of combat boot style boots. I decided since I can’t wear the ones I love, I might as well have fun with comfortable ones. And my back is thankful, too. I tried walking around in the house in the slides I used to wear for dress, and they hurt so bad, I refuse to wear them anymore. Most women would rather be in pain than give up their pumps or slip-ons.  

Mom is supposed to wear a very sturdy pair of New Balance shoes. She refuses to. Says they’re “Frankenstein Shoes.” They are sturdy for a reason: to keep her stable and decrease the chance of her falling. She doesn’t care. And each time I have to take her in, I ask, “are we taking the New Balance shoes today?” Today she about growled, “No! We don’t have an appointment with that girl who fits things.” That wasn’t even close to what went on last time. Last time, she bought some off the rack inserts, and was to switch them into and out of the shoes she wore. I can’t get her to understand, I wear custom orthotics, and could put them in her shoes, and tell her if they fit or not. She refuses. Oh well.

The shoes she wore today were horrible. Worn away at the toes, nearly holes in them. No support whatsoever. None. She refuses to throw them away. I guess if she falls, it’s on her. Roles really do reverse, when you start to give care to your parents. Wish we would have had a chance to help Dad out. He died way too soon.

Going to watch the rest of the World Series game. Have a good evening. See you tomorrow.

Happy NaNoWriMo, Day One

I almost feel as if this should be “Captain’s Log, Day One.”

It’s November 1, a day of Saints in the Catholic Church, the day after Halloween, and the day my Aunt Lois died a number of years ago. She went peacefully, in her home, surrounded by her family. She and Mom’s other sisters gave me a look into their lives growing up in a very poor, working class part of Omaha. The house is no longer there, taken years ago by the Interstate construction in Nebraska. There are a lot of stories, in those conversations I was blessed to have with them.

That said, I use important parts of those stories about people and their strengths and weaknesses, to propel my characters into the places they’ll go in my novel. It helps to have some skin in the game, as they say.

I was reminded of some of the darkness I’ve written about by a comment made by Ian McEwan on Sunday Morning, on CBS. He said he didn’t know where some of the darkness came from that he wrote about. Some of the things I wrote a couple years ago while going through a hard time with a family member were so dark it scared me. I had no idea the depth of my anger at this person. The bottled up resentment. It actually frightened me, and I put it away. That was two years ago, when I made it through NaNoWriMo.

I haven’t read it again, but I have thought of the feelings I had after that. My anger and resentment was lessened considerably. I came to realize I was not a person with an evil heart, because I am a good person, a fair person with a lot of love in my heart. I realized it was a recognition on my part of the evil in the world. And it’s good to be aware of it. And learn how to deal with it.

The writing and release of the feelings I experienced is useful to me right now. In the Intentional Peer Support class I’m taking. Journaling has come up as a method used to help people get things on paper that weighs heavy on their minds. This was a perfect example of what we need to encourage people to do. I intend to use it as an example since I’ve experienced it. Things I had no idea were there, weighing on my mind, have been dumped, dealt with, and dismissed.

I feel if this first attempt of over 50K words were edited and enhanced, it could still be a book. The timeline is fluid, it has flashbacks, but they’re relevant. I’ve noted many books I’ve read since then have had timelines that jumped around. It’s how life happens, isn’t it? You are present somewhere, yet memories come up. Some chapters deal with those memories while something else is happening in the present. I’ve read many books that do that.

Triggers? I have written things about verbal abuse of children. The examples I used triggered some people I asked to Beta read. They had to stop. I didn’t pursue any others, as I was just unsure what to do next. It might be good writing, to trigger something. I felt terrible about that. Another person said if they had read it, they’d throw the book across the room. What good might that do? Are your triggers my responsibility? No. I’m not responsible for them. You are. You need to learn to work through them. You can learn to do that, with Intentional Peer Support.

The other question I have regarding triggers, is it necessary for an author to note trigger warnings? I’d love to hear what professionals may have to say about that. I know there are many, many books about abuse, and I’m not sure they print warnings. I should ask a bookstore owner. I find the topic interesting. Let you know what I find out.

I may write a second blog later tonight for tomorrow. It’ll help me get ahead of the game, have time to devote to the novel, the kids book, and other projects. It’s time. Hope you have a beautiful evening, and a great day tomorrow. See you then!

Halloween, 2022

What a day! The Babe and I both had doctor appointments, and that took until noon. Stopped for pizza on the way home. Just sat down to do this, and I’m needing to get organized for right away in the morning. It’s been a day. Traffic snarls, jams, late appointments, and other stuff. It all went away upon returning home. Nice when that happens.

Have never had to wait long at the doctor, but today I was able to read about 100 pages in “The Granddaughters,” by Margaret Belle. It’s just getting started, but is interesting so far. We’ll keep you informed on it.

Do you like Dateline/48 Hours/and the plethora of murder mysteries on network TV? Real life ones are the best. People all think they’re so smart, eluding the police for years. Sooner or later, it all catches up with you. Sooner or later, someone talks, gives their statement, or something. It’s bound to happen.

I have a few local crime stories to read, I’d like to make them some of the books I finish for this year’s reading challenge on Goodreads. Right now, I’m at 16 of 24 books, or three behind. It could be a great finish, and I’m not planning on reading anything more than 300 pages right now.

Sorry, folks, the rest of this got lost copying it over; I’m going to quit for now. Getting ready for tomorrow, and planning to get my first 2K words down, and blogtime, too. Stay tuned. It’s a great time to dig in and try to achieve a goal. Let’s go, folks!

Have a great evening. See you tomorrow!

Authors and Writing

Happy Sunday.

One thing the Babe and I enjoy about Sunday mornings, after the news is over and the political shows begin, is turning over to the CBS Sunday Morning program. We’ve caught some great interviews of people, heard wonderful music, and learned things about parts of life we may never learn in regular life.

Today was no exception. British author Ian McEwan was interviewed, so of course, I had to see and hear it all. I even stopped the live airing, and started the interview over to take notes.

I’ve never read one of his books, and now I’ve probably got another eighteen novels to add to my Goodreads “Want to Read” list of books. In his 52 years of publishing novels, he says he’s lost count of all the novels, short stories, and other things he’s written. He showed the reporter his green spiral notebook, where he scribbles his thoughts, claiming, “It’s just a mess.”

That caused me to smile.

When asked about how he was drawn into the life of a writer, he said his passion for reading led him to write. I love that. It seems that is the answer many writers give, and I think it’s true. I’ve always loved to write.

It didn’t matter if it was an essay in school (I know, it’s a little weird), a story my elementary school friend Toni Altic Freis and I used to write, or a report for school. I wrote reports for college with a passion, and always felt I could do a children’s book. It’s illustrated, but not finished yet.

Back to Ian McEwan. He says he has resisted the urge to use his own life experiences and events as a plotline. He doesn’t give a reason for that. I can tell you it’s hard when some of the people are still alive. You may be concerned about what the others think if their character may be a villanous creature, or a no-good person. They should have been nicer to you before this. Then they wouldn’t have a guilty conscience. They can just get over themselves.

McEwan has written about some very dark issues, including child sexual abuse and incest. He says, “I can never explain away the darkness I sometimes write. I believe it is exploring the human condition by playing out our worst fears.” I can appreciate that. He is optimistic reading will make a comeback. I hope so. I think it’s one of the joys of life, and pray I’m spared from the fate of macular degeneration Mom has. I couldn’t exist without reading. And being able to hear. That would be torture for me. No reading or hearing music.

He also shared he will never stop writing. He says he still devotes 12-14-16 hours a day to it. While that sounds like a lot, it includes rambling with his high energy dog around his English estate, and other things related to writing, namely, reading. What a way to spend your days!

I am headed to work on my quilt again. There is a lot to do, and I’m behind. And tomorrow starts NaNoWriMo. Sewing, quilting, and doing household stuff. November will fly by, too, won’t it? Have a beautiful afternoon and know we’re thinking about a lot of things and how to proceed. We all are, aren’t we? Life is a daring adventure, or it is nothing. Helen Keller knew what she was talking about, didn’t she? See you tomorrow.