Old(er) People

Should never be allowed in the kitchen. OK, well maybe never is too long a time to be banned. This morning, the Babe and I began our task of cooking 30 pounds of hamburger to make Sloppy Joes for the PTSD presentation/Talk Saves Lives Training the VFW Post 2503 is hosting on Sunday at noon. The Post is donating the lunch, and we’re doing the work at home to give the cook a break. They already have to cook for a Craft Fair tomorrow. Funny thing is, they’re making Sloppy Joes and Hot Dogs.

In South Dakota, the locals call Sloppy Joes “Bar-b-ques.” Isn’t that funny? Local differences, just like “soda” vs. “pop.” America is great, isn’t it?

So the browning of the hamburger went well, I had 3 large cans of crushed tomatoes and 3 large cans of tomato sauce. I pre-measured 3 separate cups that contained all the seasonings for each 10 pounds. Salt, Pepper, Smoked Paprika, Italian Seasonings, Garlic, Worcestershire Sauce, Sugar, and whatever else. All set. Then, the battle of the can openers happened. The header photo finds them poised for action. The white one, on the left, is the new Pampered Chef one, is specifically made to be used by those of us who have arthritis in our hands, fingers, and need a little assist. I like it because there are no more sharp edges on the can lid once it’s removed, like the one on the right creates while cutting.

The first can, no problem. In fact, the first five, no problem. Then the opener became a diva and wouldn’t cut the last can lid. The Babe tried it. Nope. It just doesn’t adhere to the can, you can feel it doesn’t engage, and therefore, doesn’t cut. I tell the Babe, “I did drop two cans, maybe this one is one of those.”

We decided to turn it upside down and try it on the bottom. Nothing. I picked it up, turned it right side up and there it went. The cut lid that looked intact gave way. And there went a 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes all over the counter top. Wow. I said a couple naughty words, and we started to move it off the counter top and into the pan, where it belonged. And that, boys and girls, is why older people shouldn’t be allowed in the kitchen. Don’t you agree?

We had a laugh or two, and kept cooking. I can hardly wait to start baking the nine boxes of brownies I get to do. It’ll be fine. Really, it will. There are no canned goods to open.

More from the book, “Wired for Story,”

Tone and Theme are stressed very early. So is the phrase, “It’s not what you say, but how you say it.” Have you ever known someone who can tell such great stories, jokes, and anecdotes they always have a crowd at their elbow? They’re the one we always want to be an emcee at our events, and maybe even give our eulogy at our funeral. They really know how to tell a great story. We can learn, with practice.

Another incredible thing I just learned – all story is emotion based. If you’re not feeling, you’re not reading, according to Lisa Cron. I get this. Have you ever read something very emotional for the protagonist, and you feel it, too, as you read? The author has done a good job.

Emotion determines the meaning of everything. If we’re not feeling, we’re not conscious. Most of us were taught emotion and logic were two opposite things. They are, but one must exist for the other to exist. I haven’t read further than this yet, and I hope to do so tomorrow, in between baking brownies. Who knows what madcap hijinks the Babe and I will engage in? I’m sure we’ll enjoy it, and have some good laughs. Have a great evening, see you tomorrow.

Baking Frenzy Update

I surprised myself by actually feeling some Christmas cheer by doing some baking. I made two kinds of fruit cake, one with rum and darker fruits, one with whiskey and lighter fruits. We’ll open them at our New Years Eve Party at the VFW Post. I talked of making one for a long time; I held myself accountable and did it this year. Hope my friends like it, there are four loaves to consume!

Once I started mixing the concoctions, I realized my mood changed. Maybe it’s a sugar rush by osmosis? Anything is possible, and whatever it is from, I need to feel that way more often. Note to self: Put that into your plan for next year’s self-awareness. It feels as if it can lead to good things.

I would imagine creating something with flour, butter, sugar, spices, and other ingredients releases some sort of endorphins reserved for feel good feelings. Celebrations do that. Baking for a special holiday is a celebration and remembrance of traditions. My daily meditation is about celebrations today. Very fitting. Some folks celebrate (use alcohol or drugs) to escape reality, to become less conscious of the world around him or her. It’s sad when even a child’s birthday party turns into another reason to get high or drunk.

Celebration is an opportunity to re-create, refresh, and even remake our spirit. I never thought of it in that way, before. I’m in the midst of remaking my spirit, I can see it in my writing. I’m learning new ways to lift my spirit. New experiences are coming, new ideas are forming, and a new spirit is emerging. I’m so excited to see what’s next for me and the Babe. It should be great.

Our lives can be a lot happier by considering ordinary things a celebration. In the spring and summer, when the Babe and I sit on the deck for morning coffee, it’s a celebration. When we have happy hour on the deck or patio, it’s a celebration. When my bestie Kris and I go to a movie, it’s a celebration. See how easy that is? Practice it.

As a side note, there are two batches of cookies resting in the refrigerator, I’m excited to get to use my Pampered Chef scoops to make them. Silly? It’s a celebration. The Babe can’t hardly wait to eat some. And I’l do Croation Nut Bread too. And it’s a beautiful memory of my first mother-in-law. She made this incredible bit of heaven for Easter and Christmas. I came across the recipe in the cookbook from the Omaha World Herald. The name is Croation Povitica. It’s perfect for Christmas.

Enjoy the rest of the day. It’s a celebration of you. And of me. And your child. And your Grandma. You’ll be happy in ways you never though existed. It’s happening. And I’m going to learn from these last few weeks. You can make happiness and a positive attitude your new normal, despite bad things in the world, in your family, in your head. See you tomorrow!

Humid, Dreary Sunday

We are so proud of our Granddaughter Addison. She went to Nationals for KAR Dance Competition. She represented Accapricio Dance Studio in Papillion. So far, she has earned two first place awards. She is so good. Still limited with the photos I can share between my phone and here (read my lips – NONE) so I’ll share a photo of her later. We are so lucky to have good, healthy, handsome grandkids. They are learning to make good choices for their lives. The best blessing will be they all continue on the paths they are on.

One in a while, the humidity is so high in Nebraska, the outside windows are covered with humidity. They closely resemble the windshield of your car before you turn the wipers on. Why don’t they invent wipers for your home windows? If you live in the South, I bet that may be appreciated. Does this condensation appear frequently on your homes, too? Remember folks, you heard it here first! It’s MY idea, regardless of what anyone says!

A morning like this reminds me of when our family didn’t have air conditioning. It’s rough. On Sunday mornings, we’d walk home from the Children’s Mass at Church, and change into nice play clothes to go visit our Grandma’s. Every Sunday. Grandma and Grandpa Bobell had Central Air, and it was heavenly to be in their house. Grandma Jewell did not, but she had a beautiful huge enclosed porch. She opened all the combination windows, and we’d sit in her wicker furniture and enjoy the breeze that always graced her porch. It was heavenly. She also had a porch swing. Always. It was wonderful, too. Even on days like this, she always baked something for when we would visit on Sunday. I can still smell the baked goods when I drive past her old home.

Yesterday, I thought I’d get a second blog written. No, it just didn’t happen. What I did accomplish was divide up all my papers printed from my online classes, patterns, and writing hints. Our information for the volunteering is included, as is directions on the Painting of the Month Club I joined online. For $10 a month, we get lifetime access to all the POMC Paintings. When I have time, there it will be waiting. After my first book is published, thank you very much.

The mass of papers from my first novel of 80K words is now in a series of folders and tucked away in a drawer. My completed chapters of “The Freeing of Katie Fitzgibbons” is ready to go into a binder. Before I start on it again on August 2, I’ll read each chapter and be able to pick up where I left off. By that time, I hope to create the new habit of writing two or three blogs every other day. Then I could write nothing but the novel on the alternate days. And I still want one day to sew on a quilt. I haven’t touched my sewing machine for a year. Oh my!

Yes, there are 24 hours in my day. With my back issues, I can only sit, stand, walk, type, or sew only so many hours. More that two or three is encroaching on setting off a lot of pain that takes days to recover from. And yet, I find blessings in the fact I can do anything at all. Life teaches us many lessons along the way. I decided to use the time wisely as long as I can. I believe things do fall into place if we listen to the signs along the way. They are present. You must be, too. Not on your phone. Not absorbed in Mindless TV. Awareness is critical. Learning to read the signs is too. The Five Man Electrical Band of the 70s recorded this hippie song. It was huge at the time, and I can tell you, restrictive signs regarding personal appearance still lingers. “No Shirt, No Shoes, NO SERVICE,” is one I agree with. I don’t want to see some man (or woman’s) hairy armpits while I’m eating. Thank you very much.

The best example I can think of in my life was before I filed for divorce. The Catholic Church had a series of lectures on a Friday night titled, “Women in Transition.” I knew I was terribly unhappy and wanted to divorce. I also knew I hadn’t worked outside the home since I was nineteen. I was nearing thirty and wanted to prepare myself. Every Friday night, a friend of mine and I, met and listened to the speaker. In 1981, she said the best field you could enter is Computers. They were the wave of the future.

Within five years, I was offered free classes at a computer school, paid for by our HR Department where I worked. I became a Programmer Trainee in 1987, then spent nearly fifteen years working in Software and System Analysis. I believed God led me to all of it. If I had ignored the lecture announcement, I may have never started this journey.

Think about the signs you may have in your life. Afraid to make a change? Look for support in unusual places. I’ve often thought how ironic it was, since the Catholic Church was so against divorce, that my sign came from a “Catholic Voice,” which is a Catholic Newspaper for the Archdiocese of Omaha. Since 1982, I believe the “You must stay together until you die,” has been relaxed. People make mistakes. Some people are exposed to domestic violence. Kids are not better off if their kids hear nothing but arguing constantly.

Whatever else you do today, make some “YOU” time. It’s a perfect day to read. After that second blog, I’m headed to do just that. It will be a hectic week next week, getting everything finished for the Fundraiser at the Post next weekend. It will be worth it. Two Veterans groups, Moving Veterans Forward, and Guitars for Vets, will receive the proceeds. Do something nice for someone today, too. The world will be a better place for it. See you tomorrow!

Christmas Cookies, Part One

Luckily, the curious puppies took a long nap while I was mixing, baking, and cooling a double batch of old fashioned Toll House Cookies. You know, Nestle doesn’t print the recipe on the packages of chocolate chips anymore. I had to look it up online to find one. I seem to remember 1/2 cup less of flour than what they called for. I also use butter. My mom, who baked these delicious morsels every week. We were popular with the neighbor kids when we could share a homemade cookie. They were heavenly. I made them for my kids too. I haven’t made any in a very long time, and these are for the cookie exchange Sunday. These turned out so well, I think they are the best ones I’ve ever made. Yay!



Love my perfect kitchen. The roomiest one I’ve ever had. Enough counter space to hold ingredients and the mixer and the cookie sheets and the cooling racks. Bonus!!
They smelled so good

I am finding a lot to be grateful for this Christmas season. I’m so happy we are on the road to The Babe feeling better, I’m just praying it continues. He still gets pretty tired, but you have to consider age and other things. His pup keeps him busy when he’s not at the Post, and she keeps growing a bunch every week She has done well with the Christmas tree, but she hasn’t grabbed anything off of it. Just thinks the glittery bulbs are balls, and she wants to play. It’s all part of the learning process for all of us.

I’m starting to plan the publishing and releasing the books I’m working on now. I believe my children’s books and the family story of loss will be ready next summer, if not before. And I do really want to take a painting class some time next year. I also want to continue finishing quilts that I have started and not finished. And read more books. And write more, too.

In the next couple days, we’re going to get the cookies finished, get the cards and little gifts mailed to the two grandkids out of state, get house back in order, sew as time permits, (I have a special project to help someone out), and work on some more writing projects. They are whirling around in my head, and need to be captured before they are forgotten. The notes may spur more memories and ideas. The process is continual, and the creative ideas flow when you practice capturing them daily. I’m grateful to God for leading me to this, especially since I’ve always wanted to do it. Next year will be the best yet.

Thank you for reading today. I appreciate it a lot. I’ll be here tomorrow, too. See you then!