Christmas Week, 12/23/2022

On this day, I want to wish my lifelong friend Kris Leavitt, Happy Birthday, as well as FESTIVUS FOR THE REST OF US!

Yesterday was the most frigid day since I can’t remember when. I want to say about 1983, maybe. We stayed in Wednesday night because of the icing that was happening, and were going to stay in yesterday. But we needed to deliver some things to the MVF warehouse. The Babe wanted to have lunch and go to the store. My to do list would have to wait.

I thought the store would be crowded. It wasn’t! A Christmas Miracle! The store staff was all very nice. That would be a tough job, along with anything retail this time of year. Those people all deserve a bonus, you know?

As I’ve said before, it is tough to be on this side of Christmas; a grown family and the littlest grandkids live far away, so it’s tougher to get into the spirit. The header photo is of our two great nieces, children of nephew & niece Alex and Megan. Their little girls, Kenna and Knox, are adorable. The header photo is the family Christmas card this year. While I was out at the dentist a couple days ago, I was remembering having kids that small at Christmas. It occurred to me those are the years Christmas is magical and fun. Having some memories? Me, too.

Come to think of it, I’m also remembering some other memories.

The year everyone had terrible colds, were cranky, had red faces and raw lips from being chapped in the cold temps; 1978; I was 8 months pregnant and miserable; the years we couldn’t afford anything, so I made a lot of gifts; the year we hosted dinner for 28 people. I made Swiss Steak and Baked Potatoes and it was perfect. I also cleaned up, did Santa, and all the Christmas Eve duties, while the kids’ dad went to bed. He was too tired to help. He was angry when the kids woke up at 6 a.m. the next morning. That’s what Christmas Day is about! No, I don’t miss the collateral memories that go with the little kids and an uncooperative husband.

Knowing Alex and Megan as I do, they will do things together, and be more excited than their little ones to wake up early. They will be patient and loving all day, too. The girls’ Aunt Ona will certainly do what an aunt does on Christmas, birthdays, Easter, and whenever the opportunity presents itself. Grandma Cindy and Grandpa Brad will enjoy every minute. Enjoy, Shuck Family! Merry Christmas. We love you all, and hope your memories are wonderful.

Of course, since we did the store and lunch yesterday, it was too late to start the tree. So, today is the tree. Photos tomorrow. Nothing like the last minute. When my kids were little, they always knew we had to wait until Grandma Tomasek’s birthday to put the tree up. December 7. It got a little earlier, December 1. Finally, when I divorced, and we had my house, we’d do it the day after Thanksgiving, when the boys would decorate the outside of the house. I miss those Christmases, too.

Take each of these moments during the Christmas present, and enjoy it as much as possible. The good and the bad. I look forward to the meal we’re hosting, and to seeing the family who are available. We are blessed, and grateful.

Have a great day today, stay warm, finish your shopping, and we’ll see each other tomorrow.

Wednesday Editing, Too!

Here we go again. I was fearless yesterday. I deleted pictures, undid the backgrounds with patterns, and saw white backgrounds and my story words in black text. It looks naked again. It won’t be for long. I’ve read once you’re away from your writing project for awhile, it is much easier to edit the words, thus being more succinct.

We had a nice family dinner last night with Tracy, TJ, Gavin, Cindy and Brad. Cindy is the Babe’s sister, who is in town for training at her new job. She will work remotely in Sioux Falls. Isn’t technology grand? We bought local, Bar B Que from a small restaurant in Gretna, and gathered seven people in our kitchen, sharing a meal. Addison was not able to come over. The evening was full of talk, laughter, jokes, and love. We don’t often have this chance so it was really nice. It’s hard when the majority of your family lives out of state.

Brad is an accomplished photographer in addition to being a top notch web designer. He took a new headshot to replace my original one from a few years ago when my hair was very short. He unloaded his equipment into our living room; the lights, camera, and slight moves coached me into a nice photo. I’ll unveil it next month when I add new pages to my website, right here. You’ll know when it happens. He is a magician with his camera. What a talent!

The header today is close to my heart. Sometimes the most interesting memories enter my mind while looking out the window. Recollections of childhood spent outdoors, walking to school with my best friend Peggy, Mass every morning at our Church before school, and many other things. It’s all part of the tapestry of my story. And stories are what we all tell, in one form or another. Some are capable of putting their stories to music, some to the page. It’s something that is meant to be shared. I’m grateful to all of you who continue to read my musings, and am grateful we are now at 944 followers. Let’s get to 1000! It’ll be fun!

I’m going to plunge further into the world of editing when I close this device. It’ll start me towards the goal of finishing something I’ve always wanted to do; create a child’s book. What will you create today? What would you like to do with your time? Do it, while you can; before you can’t, as the song goes.

It is a beautiful sunny day at the home office in Gretna, Nebraska. There will be a small town festival this weekend signaling the end of summer. The high school band practiced for the first time this morning, I could hear the drumline. It’s a sure sign of back to school. The sights and sounds of summer are waning, even though it’s only July. Have a beautiful day. See you tomorrow!

Ain’t Technology Grand?

It surely is. When it works. When it doesn’t? We tend to panic, don’t we? I’m doing that right now.

This morning, I reached for my phone to check emails and messages about our upcoming car show fundraiser at the VFW Post this weekend, and all I get is a black screen. The dreaded black screen of death! What will I do? Tried the hard start. Nothing. Checked my charging cord. Frayed a bit but still ok. We tried charging it on the Babe’s charger. An hour later? Still nothing.

What’s a girl to do, in the middle of planning two fundraisers and a concert within three weeks, meeting up with people to secure donations, noting last minute tasks on your to do list, and keeping in touch with your artist about your kidlit book soon to be published?

You punt! What did we do in the olden days, of no phone that holds your life. What did we do before we became slaves (didn’t we just talk about our slavery and freedoms the other day?) to our devices and our phones became our lives? I am also guilty as charged. We all are. No more landlines, either. We feel stuck. We feel isolated. We feel uncomfortable. And we send emails, text like crazy from the Babe’s phone to get the word to key people your phone died and you’re still trying to lead the charge for these three events.

And you write about it in your daily blog, hoping people see it. Hey! you can tag everyone so you can get the word out! Maybe this won’t be so bad after all? OR will you learn in the next couple days to enjoy the quiet? NAH! Well, maybe. I’ll let you know how I do. And the worst part? Verizon doesn’t even open until 10 a.m. Heck, the day is half over by then! Wow, I really sound old with that one.

Aside from the crisis, it’s a beautiful day again. Clear skies, birds soaring around, and the Babe and I drank a whole bunch of coffee already by 8:30 a.m. I’ve caught up on my 71 squats a day and 22 wall/doorway push-ups. I hurt my back in the torso area. It felt like someone was stabbing me, like I had a butcher knife stuck between my ribs, halfway between my spine and underarm. Hurt like the devil. Couldn’t move. Spent a couple 24 hour periods on the TENS unit, full blast, constant zapping. That is the only thing that helps. It’s calmed down considerably since we missed the 4th of July at Louie’s house. It was a completely restful day for a change.

The previous paragraphs were written this morning about 8:00 a.m. It is now 5:30 p.m. I still have no working phone. The Babe has a new one. I transferred his data from the Google phone to the iPhone, no problem. I can get calls, but have no apps available until I can log onto the world of iPhones/Play/whatever the heck they call it. I no longer have the cell phone # when I set up the account. They ask what my phone # is now, I enter it, they sent re-set codes to that phone #. But I can’t get to it, since I cannot set up the phone. Today I’ve learned:

  1. The folks at iPhone think they own the world. After today, I believe they do.
  2. It now costs $99 at Best Buy to transfer data from one phone to another. Luckily, I could do the Babe’s.
  3. It will take at least until Saturday to get a new battery for my old phone. Then, they will test to see if it will charge. (Not at Best Buy, they won’t touch it). If it charges and turns on, I can transfer all my data to my new phone; then, my life will be worth living again. Sheesh! This is not for the faint of heart.
  4. The bulk of people at the Verizon Store this morning were mostly all elderly folks. Like us. At least we didn’t have to come in with our kids, like one couple did. I’d guess we know the most about all 8 of the people we saw in there. I can also verify we made two trips into the Verizon store; one to the Phone Fixit Store nearby (got the most help from them); and two trips to Best Buy. The first BB person didn’t even work with phones, he didn’t want to do it; the second BB store we went to was very knowledgable, but had no help for transferring data.
  5. Is there a patron saint of dead batteries on cell phones? Could you help me out and pray to that saint or angel or troll and ask for me to at least get iCloud folks to let me reset my password. The stupid thing is they want to send info on how to do that TO MY PHONE THAT CANNOT BE ACCESSED RIGHT NOW!! Yes, to the phone I can’t dial from, read a text from, or anything. And they very cattilly tell you online it may take many days to get you reset. Well excuuuuuusssssseee the heck out of me!
  6. Help. This world is too crazy.
  7. On the bright side, we have a couple nice, new phones. The Babe wanted to go back to iPhone, since his Google also had a battery fail earlier. I forgot about that. Oh well. Onward. Once I can text you about it. Or call you. Have a good evening.

Tuesday’s Tactical Tenacity

Years ago, my HR and business mentor told me I had tenacity. At the time, I figured it was a compliment, although I had never heard the word before. I probably came by it naturally, being of both Irish and German heritage. My parents were great examples of tenacity. It is one of the best things I learned from them. Don’t ever give up is another thing; along with don’t let them know they got to you. The last one was advice about being bullied. I believe that’s one reason why it’s so hard for me to cry. I got so good at suppressing tears. I wish I could summon them when I need to. But no, they’re pretty tenacious, too.

Apparently, to market my Kid-Lit, I should start marketing NOW. I’m dabbling in that very thing when I talk about it, or my illustrator, Cartney McGuigan, or studying about Children’s Books. It’s amazing how much information exists about it. I am still wading through the 45 minute videos of Women in Publishing Summit. I’m also finding many organizations that I, as a publisher, author, blogger should investigate. It all takes precious time. More list-making is ahead of me, I can see it now. Maybe I could hire the Babe as my Personal Assistant, since he’s the VP and Secretary of Jewell Publishing, LLC. Oh, and there isn’t any money for a payroll. You’ll get the pleasure of my company, LOL.

Seriously, I’m learning about timelines, who does what, how long it will take. Project Management. Just like in IT. I’ve done a lot of that in my life. I cannot wait to get to publishing time, hopefully in September, 2021. I hope I can be at the printer’s and watch the printing process, and coming off the press. Remember, my family was in the business of publishing the local newspaper. It’s a huge part of my story! I cannot wait to touch the first book as they complete it. And celebrate it! Launching is a lot of work, but we can make it a lot of fun.

This week, quite by accident, I learned why some photo uploads were failing in Word Press. The website I maintain for the VFW Post 2503 was experiencing difficulties when I uploaded photos from events. Our Big IT Kahuna (also a professional photographer), taught me was about the size of the photos. I’m using my Google Pixel 3 Phone. Apparently the phone settings were on very high resolution for photos. They should be smaller res, so I now have a downloaded program that will convert them for me. Smaller res photos load quickly and make the website more professional in performance. I’m glad to have gleaned that little techie tidbit.

However, now that I know that, I need to convert the files and re-upload them. My dad always taught me there’s no sense in doing something if you’re not going to do it right. Thanks, Dad. I don’t need more to do, but I don’t want to be half-a**ed about it. So I’ll revise the files in an orderly fashion. A few at a time. And make sure the new photos are smaller. My phone won’t fill up as quickly, either. Thanks Brad!

As I start my afternoon checking out the professional organizations for authors and publishers, I remember today is National Puppy Day. I’d be remiss if I didn’t share our girls with you. Lexie (brown dog) is the best Director of Security we’ve ever had. Goldie is one who could play, play, play forever. And our Roxie, (white and brown dog) is how I started blogging. We lost her July 5, 2020, and I wrote my grief. I still have some of it, and it’s the topic of my book for children. How Gavin coped with the loss was a lesson of many kinds for life. You’ll see when you read it!

Love your pets. Provide comfort for them, they will return the favor a hundred-fold. Thank you for reading today. Thanks for continuing on with my adventure, I’m happy to share it with you. Be Safe. Be Kind. Be Careful out there! I, for one, cannot wait to get my second COVID vaccination. Can’t come soon enough. See you tomorrow!

Simple Saturday

Many things are swirling around in my head this morning. Lots has occurred in the last 24 hours. First thing I’m thinking of my cousin Mike and how grateful they must be to have pulled off two wedding receptions in August and early September now that COVID is peaking again in Nebraska. Rules for bars are again, mask to enter building and leave, and mask to walk around in building.No more standing room only events. Events must drop to below 50% capacity. I would not be surprised if the bars and schools be closed again before Thanksgiving to slow the spread again. Our hospitals are nearing a much higher capacity than they want. I just pray to God we can get the election done, in the books, and move on to whatever is next.

Photo by Annie D on

Second, I’m thinking about Estes Park. It is one of our favorite places to make a destination. We love the nature, beauty, scenery, and people. Always something interesting going on. Flood visited there a few years ago, and now a two month old wildfire is calling for evacuations. Prayers for those folks, their families, property, and the wildlife. It all suffers during events like this.

Third, we had a great Post and Auxiliary meeting last week. Ron Hernandez, the founder of Moving Veterans Forward in the Omaha/Papillion area spoke to us about the Victory Apartments, and the other opportunities that are available for the Post to help him get off the ground that will serve Veterans locally. I see a lot of opportunity here for us and I’m excited about it.

I have some things to update for our Post website, and need some lessons from our Web Host, Image Masters. Luckily, the host with the most is my brother in law, Brad Shuck, and he’s always willing to teach me more about how the website works and can work. Great guy. Great photographer, too. He’s in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Check out his work.

Today is the day to make good on my intentions to bring in any plant that will perish with a frost. We’re due anytime, and I have some succulents that will be great inside the house. I don’t want to lose them. That’s for a little later on, and I might let them sit after spraying them for bugs to see what comes out, if anything. Then the transplanting can happen.

Even if we’re quarantined again it won’t be so bad. I’m already looking at grocery delivery, that’s the one thing I’m no longer crazy about doing. It’s kind of a hassle, and hard for me to carry a lot in from the car, after picking it up to put it in the cart, unloading cart, reloading cart with bags, putting bags in the car, that’s a lot of lifting and moving the same stuff to get home. I need to consult with our daughter Tracy to see how we can get started. She’s on to all the shopping stuff. Bless her!

Gavin Has Been Such a Blessing For Our Pups. And Organic Bones.

I’m organizing all my social media marketing information today, too. Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook are both used by the Post and by me as an Author. I’m starting up on both of them, so I figure planning them side by side should work. They are both meant to give exposure to the target audience. The Facebook is pretty well established for the Post, and my author page could use some boosting. I still have some online training to review and add to the plans, so that will be some good stuff to sit by the fire and do while the Babe watches football. This is what life is meant for. Being together and getting things accomplished. I’m grateful.

The second chapter seems to be pretty good so far. It’s about 1900 words, which is pretty fair. I don’t want to get hung up on word count, so I’m planning a little ahead. I don’t want to go much further than Chapter 3 before next Sunday night when I send Sam Tyler, my Book Coach, the updated versions for her feedback. I’ve mentioned before, if I’m way off track, I’d rather have just a chapter or two to rewrite than the whole book. Makes sense.

The Babe made some stellar Beef Vegetable Soup late yesterday. It’s reheating now in a great big soup pan. Tis the season for good stuff like that. It’ll be ready after a bit, and will be a welcome break from the morning. Of course, now that it’s afternoon, it’s time to get those plants inside. Life can be mundane, yet accomplishing those tasks gets things done, and you can move on to other tasks and relax. Ahhh. Saturdays. Even retired Saturdays are good.

Thank you for reading, it’s something else I’m eternally grateful for. We’ll meet you again tomorrow, with more tales of marketing myself, the Post, and being an author. Be Safe. Be Courteous. Be Patient. I’ll try to be, too.