Wonderful Weekend

Despite being a day off on Friday’s tickets for Ugly Sweater Christmas Soiree, we had such a nice weekend. Everything from a 75th birthday party, to a play written by kids, to a quiet Saturday, to a cookie exchange and a baby shower today, with many, many hugs, good wishes, and memories in between. How blessed we are!

The Baby Shower was for a young lady we watched grow up at our last home. Jen and Tom lived across the street and over a couple houses, so we saw them often and visited as neighbors do. Their little girls (about 3 & 4 at the time), would walk their well-trained labs. There were these little blonde dolls, holding slackened leashes, with giant labs on the ends of them. Their dad (who followed closely behind) trained these dogs so well, you could take them anywhere, and the dogs never ran off, jumped, or were badly behaved. They were fun to watch.

Jayden and Caliegh, are typical sisters. Teasing, fighting, loving, and defending each other while growing up. And now, Caleigh is about to make her older sister an aunt. They are excited, over the moon, and so happy. This will be such a loved baby. I cannot wait to see photos. It was just wonderful to be with those girls and their parents today. I am reminded how exciting it is waiting for a baby. Caleigh and her husband are in the Army, and have until 2024 to serve. They will do just great. It’s nice to know how the girls are doing (and their parents) and keep in touch with them all. We are blessed to have such friends.

The Babe is at a cookie exchange today with other family. It is carrying on in the Riedmann tradition, now taken over by the Lackovic family. The Babe is representing us there this afternoon, as we needed to be in two places at once. It’s nice to keep up that tradition, since Louie passed away this year. There is a new little Lackovic, who is named Louie, after his great grandpa. How very perfect. Little fella has some big shoes to fill. He comes from good stock, he’ll do well.

Life always goes on, doesn’t it? It’s comforting to know that, isn’t it? The best any of us can do is adjust, and continue on. We are blessed.

As we get ready to celebrate the beauty of Christmas and the clean slate of a new year, the Babe and I are reevaluating a lot of things. While the ending of our time at the VFW, we are re-thinking a lot of things. Tomorrow is the first time for the Babe volunteering with Moving Veterans Forward with Ron Hernandez. We will be spending our time differently than before, volunteering directly to benefit veterans.

I will finish those quilts for the grandkids in Colorado. For the rest of the winter, we’ll spruce up parts of the house we’ve neglected for a while. I’ll get back to my kids book editing, and the re-organizing of my office/studio. The list is long, and will be thorough. Dust off the cobwebs and clear the closets. It’s time. And I look forward to all of it. We can only guess at how 2023 will unfold. None of us know. I know it will be filled with love. I know it will have some heartache in it. It always does.

Take care of yourselves; you longtime friends, you McGuigan Arts Academy kids, you folks from the old neighborhood, you folks expecting a new baby and new homes, you folks decorating cookies and raising your babies. You have all made us believe in life again. You all fit in our lives and give it meaning. We can only hope we do the same for you. Let’s travel this highway on the next leg, the next year. See you again tomorrow.

A Delightful Sunday

Sometimes you hear from people who you knew or knew of in a previous part of your life. The youngest son of a family from our neighborhood is on Facebook, and he friended me, after getting reconnected with my brother Tim. Long story, short story, I totally did not remember them having a younger son named Tom. I knew they had two older sisters, a brother John, who was a year older than me, and now I learn more and more about the family than I knew before.

Tom is a teacher and enthusiastic about it. He posts quite a bit about his students, the athletics, and positive thoughts. I feel blessed to have him as a friend. He’s offered quite a few words of wisdom when I’ve written about Mom and the challenges of elderly parents. What a nice man.

I planned to include the photo he sent me, a picture of the girls wrestling team members, who are beginning their season. Tom describes them as pioneers, and once he told their story, I have to agree with him. Unfortunately, I cannot copy or save the photo. And it’s just as well. I’d hate to share a photo their parents wouldn’t care to have me share.

We all know wrestling has been a sport for males. As Tom explains, the Olympics were at times a fight to the death. Not a sport for women, Tom says. He’s speaking from the point of view of being a gentleman, and I know his parents raised him to be respectful of women, protective of children, and to have his brother’s back. Right John? I thought so!

I’m glad to see these young ladies putting in the work and dedication to participate in a sport as females. It has become sanctioned by the Nebraska Schools Athletic Association. Bravo! I’d rather see girls wrestling each other than see a random girl wrestling on a boys team, against boys. Maybe that point of view is old fashioned, but it’s mine, and I will keep it until I’m convinced otherwise. And yes, I can change my mind, with new information.

It’s nothing new for women to have to fight for equality. There are still wages differences that are appalling. I was so fortunate, I worked in a technical industry, I/T, and you were judged at paid equal to your technical abilities, and performance of them. It was the most equitable system I’ve seen. The pay was not equal at ConAgra for I/T. I went from a clerical position to I/T, and wasn’t paid what men were. It was more than a clerical position, but not equal to the men I worked with. As I gained knowledge and skills, there was still a gap. When I changed to Mutual of Omaha, I received a 7K pay increase immediately, and was promoted to the next position up the ladder within six months.

These ladies at Skutt High school are being trained for adversity in their lives. It isn’t all just about sports now. They are learning some valuable skills for later in life. I hope they don’t have to fight their way through life, but they will most likely have a skirmish of two along the way. I’ve learned to fight, to skirmish, and to do what you need to. Most important, I feel if we want equality, we must do our part to be equal. We must work hard, we must be in the best shape, and we have to be able to carry our own load. No one but us should have to carry it when we expect to be equal. If we can’t, we don’t belong with the big boys. Equal means equal. It doesn’t mean a sub-standard candidate for law enforcement, the fire department, or military, where all need to give 100%. Someone ends up hurt or dead if they don’t give 100%.

No one ends up deceased in wrestling anymore, thank goodness. I told Tom when I was in high school, the only girl’s sport was tennis. I really thought tennis was for rich people. As Tom says, “There were no tennis courts where I went to play.” Nebraska did not participate in girls’ basketball back then, but Iowa did. I guess the boys played football and the girls were cheerleaders. Not like now for sure.

Tom talked a little about the neighborhood sledding down the alley my house was on. It emptied rather abruptly into F street, which was very busy. He mentioned my dad putting sand down at the bottom of the alley, in the snow, to make the sleds stop before reaching the street. My dad. What a smart man. Safety first! Bless his heart.

My day started today with a smile in my heart, thanks to Mr. Tom Bauer. Thanks, friend! It’d be fun to get the kids together from the ‘hood, and see how everyone is. There were a bunch of kids, it might be fun. I hope you had a great start to your Sunday. We’ll see each other again tomorrow, so enjoy today!

Sunday, 11/13/2022, Solitude

“The Worst Loneliness is not to be comfortable with yourself.”  Mark Twain

When we gathered at the VFW Post for Veterans Day, we sat with an old friend and just caught up. It was wonderful. The table of people was all retirement age, and we laughed and shared funny things about getting older. 

Some of us admitted to taking a nap nearly every day and liking it. Others said, “Nope, never.” I do, but I think my body is just spent after a few hours of doing stuff. Today, I sewed together eight rows of blocks for Kayla’s quilt. By 1 p.m., I was on the heating pad. 

Our friends all agreed it’s great to be able to do just about whatever you wanted. I don’t know of what I’d rather be doing, now that the quilt blocks are tamed, the rest needs combining, then all the quilting, etc. I’m looking forward to it. 

Travel would be nice, but the Babe’s not comfortable doing that. He’s now wanting to be far away from his doctors. I can’t say I blame him. I’m not wanting to be away from our comfy home, bed, and hobbies for long. 

I think we’ve all reached what’s known as contentment. We are all comfortable with ourselves. We don’t need to go prove anything. As Dorothy said, “There is no place like home.” How long it takes for us to learn that!

When I was first divorced in 1982 and 30 years old, when the kids left with their dad on Saturday afternoon, I had to leave the house. Go find anything to do. I didn’t want to be there alone. I was never alone in my whole adult life. I had never lived alone. Yet, I couldn’t be alone on a Saturday night while the kids were gone.

I didn’t have many single women as friends, who were my age. Most were older. And bitter about life and men. I did not want to end up that way. No, thanks. I’ll do something else than listen to their negativity. The younger gals had no kids, no responsibilities. That wasn’t for me, either. 

I welcomed 30, while many single co-workers hated it. They were old maids. Wow. LIfe has sure changed, hasn’t it? In the years that followed, I learned to love staying home – even alone. I look forward to it now, though it isn’t for long. I’ve learned to take whatever comes along, and to deal with it. 

When I was first put on long term disability, I went three times a week at an early hour to Aquatic Therapy. Warm water therapy is heaven. I’d still go, but I’m allergic to the chemicals they put in the water to keep it clear and sanitary. Back then, the Babe and I lived in my house, on top of a hill with no outlet. Snow was still pretty bad back in 2000. We rarely saw a snowplow until it was nearly melted. If the weather was icy, the hill was treacherous. I became angry if I couldn’t get out to therapy on those days. The Babe and my kids lovingly didn’t want me to either be in an accident or slip and fall walking to and from the car. My delicate spine and lingering injuries couldn’t risk more injury. 

Finally, in order to deal with my anger, I took my 35mm camera outside (with good winter boots, my cell phone and both dogs we had then), and walked in the yard, taking photos of the wintery wonderland. I learned quickly how to take that anger, disappointment in my condition and myself, and turn it into something else; learning how to take photos in the snow. I learned to deal with it. It took a while, but I learned. I was young (48 years old) and learning to deal with disability. That is never fun.

It was during that late winter I found quilting as a new hobby and as a way to end my depression by creating something beautiful. I’m still at it, twenty-two years later. Life is so rich, and I want to encourage anyone who is disabled; with patience, you can find a rewarding hobby and way to pass your time. Please, don’t give up. And you are more able than you think. I’ve been there. It gets better, and you have to put in the work. Be willing.

Work on finding peace and contentment with your own company. You may be surprised at how much you enjoy yourself. Let’s have a great day, and we’ll see each other tomorrow.

It’s Been a Week.

We rode high from the outstanding success of our awards ceremony at the Post Sunday. We raised $2,020 for Nebraska COPS; a donation of $3,500 from ABATE and our Car Shows/Raffles fundraising produced $2,240 checks for both Guitars for Vets and Moving Veterans Forward. Life smacked my family with a giant, undeserved comeuppance at 4 a.m. Monday morning. No cause for alarm cousins. Just know mom fell and hit her head. She is ok, nothing at all broken.

Very lucky, for being ** years old; and truthfully, she looks like hell.One brother lives across the street. He and his wonderful partner called 911 and he went to the ER. He texted my younger brother and me; and took the day off and cared for her the rest of the day once she could go home. I spent Tuesday and Wednesday with her, going to her doctor and adjusting some things. No more canes for stability, she has to use a walker. Therapy at the house, too. Help her build some strength up. All normal stuff in the life of an elderly person.

Mom has been an exception to every rule since Dad died 33 years ago. She just picked up and went on with life. She worked, volunteered, learned, traveled, and did a lot of thing. Like hand feed an elephant at the zoo. Like babysit a baby orang and gorilla when their mama’s rejected them. If we couldn’t find her at home, she’d be at the zoo. Her stroke and reduced vision took that from her a few years ago. She gave up driving on her own; she knew it was no longer safe for her or others. She gave us a gift there.

I’ve decided to tell you about the rest of the week after I catch up around the house and the Post website. It’s got to be done to get the balance back as well as we can. Mom will lose a little independence, but she’s still at home, where she’s lived since 1949. Yes, you read that right. 1949. Bless her heart! Prayers gratefully accepted!

If you have your parents, call them. Tell them how you love them. Help keep them in their home as long as possible. It all takes work, but you will be glad you did it. They will thank you. Be Kind today. Be Grateful today. Make a difference today. See you tomorrow!

P.S. No, the photo is not of our mom!

#290! Fabulous Friday!

Here is blog post #290! I’m excited at making this a habit for nearly a year. We have a way to go until we reach 365, but we’re getting closer and closer. I’m just happy for the friends and family who have stuck with me and continue to do so. Thanks for your support.

The Babe and I spent the day doing much-needed “stuff.” Errands, things you put off if you can. Most important thing was the saga of the broken Acer laptop. We have only had it for 18 months or so, good thing we bought the insurance for it. The new service center Nebraska Furniture Mart outsourced their computer repairs to is CPR, not far from where we live. OK, they checked it out, and needed to order a new screen component. Replaced the whole thing. Took it home, didn’t work. Took it back, they ordered yet another new screen component, fixed it, we picked it up. After using it once, it failed again. They certified it was non-repairable.

The Insurance Company who processed the claims took forever. It’s been a good 30 days since we’ve been able to use the laptop. They gave the Babe a very bad time (how dare they!) and finally emailed with info about the credit we received for a new one. It was purchased in November, 2018, and of course, all the models have changed. That’s ok by me.

So when I finish here, I hope the new HP Laptop is charged. It has Windows 10 on it. It should be a good one I’ve always been pleased with HP. I know there are naysayers out there, and that’s fine. For my money, I doubt I’d get another ACER again. Maybe that will change. Unless I live to be 95, I don’t know how many more laptops I’ll need in this lifetime. What a concept to ponder!

And now, in the “What I’ve Learned About Writing,” category, I’ve read a series of articles about manuscripts that aren’t necessarily bad but may not measure up for one reason or another. And it all has to do with beginner author mistakes that are so common. In my mind, I’ve thought, “No way, will I make those mistakes.” And yet, here we are. The manuscript of “These Walls DO Talk” will be put on hold, indefinitely. And that’s a good thing. It’s a little exhausting to write about dysfunctional people. Really. Instead, I’m concentrating on one person (Katie) and chronicle how she grows up and rejects many ideas her family had for decades. No idea how long it can be, but I think it’s got some important messages in it for girls who know what they see before them is not what they want when they grow up.

And it’s been so long since I was a twenty-something. The world has changed so much since 1972, when I turned 20. I look forward to working on it the next couple of months. No writing is wasted, it’s something you need a lot of practice doing. I can tell some days my blog isn’t as good as others, and other days, it almost writes itself. So goes it when working on a manuscript. Even if they are abandoned, there is a lot of learning that takes place. And that’s the best I can hope for in this world. To learn everything I can.

I love my reality, I have no reason to escape it. I write for those who need to escape theirs for a little while.

Song of the day: Sugarland’s “Life in a Northern Town.” Listen here.

Note: this is an audio only, a static picture, no video. Sorry!

I love their singing. The first time I heard Jennifer Nettles sing was for the Super Bowl show where she sang “Who Said You Can’t Go Home,” with Jon Bon Jovi. What a voice! I couldn’t find the Superbowl video, but the one I did find was at Daytona International Raceway. Great combination!

And here’s another version, from the Hurricane Sandy relief fundraising concert of 2012. Here, Bruce Springsteen joins him. Two Jersey boys making their hometowns proud. I am always amazed to hear of their works of charity; Bon Jovi with his restaurants, Habitat Homes, and Springsteen has always collected food for local food banks at his concerts since the 1980s. Generosity abounds.

I am still in Season 1 of Yellowstone. I wanted to review it before the new season begins on Father’s Day. Not sure if I’ll hit that goal or not. It is a very good drama, and the scenery is beautiful. Although it’s supposed to take place in Montana, it was filmed in Utah. Those states are all so beautiful. I’m sure it will be another interesting look at their lives. What a story those people have!

Thank you for reading today, I”ll be here again tomorrow. Hope to see you then! Stay safe. Wear your masks. Wash your hands. Be kind to each other. Set a good example. Have a great weekend.

This Too Shall Pass

It’s all going to be all OK. I know it is. Just have to get through the next two and a half weeks.

You know the feelings you have when you’ve been dealing with things out of the ordinary (say, medical/health issues)? It’s been a very long six weeks, and this tough exterior is starting to crack. Yes, as together as we all think we are, we’re but mere humans and we get worn out, worn down, and wobegon. Don’t you just love the word wobegon? It brings to mind hearing Garrison Keillor and his stories told, painstakingly slow, as only he can. They were worth waiting for every word. He can make me laugh. That’s what I’m in need of right now, laughter.

I get a tremendous kick out of reading things that make me laugh out loud. Babe (Dan) just looks at me, then I say, “You’ve just got to listen to this.” Then I proceed to read sometimes an entire page to him from what I’m reading. Sometimes he’ll laugh, sometimes not. He never says anything, he just listens. That’s the Babe, always listening. It is one of his finer qualities, for which I’m eternally grateful. He’s patient while I carry on.

I am also listening to Peanuts Greatest Hits, by the Vince Guaraldi Trio. This is on purpose, it’s some of the greatest Jazz there is. Jazz always lifts my spirits. And even more so with Snoopy on guitar, Schroeder on piano, and Pig Pen on bass.

In two and a half weeks, I’ll be hearing the Christmas tunes while I’m working on my novel. Last year, I didn’t put up a Christmas tree. Things weren’t going great and I just didn’t have any Christmas cheer. First time since I left home. It is way different when your kids are all gone, and no one wants anything but cash or gift cards. Sure, it’s easier, but nothing can make a person feel as good as picking out something with the gift receiver in mind. It is a good feeling. I miss the whole activity, shopping, wrapping, watching the person open the gift. Hopefully you get it right and they love it.

In the past, we have adopted kids through our church to shop for. Samaritan’s Purse had a very good program. When our granddaughter Addison went to Sunday School, we did that, and filled a red box for a little boy and a red box for a little girl. The photos and email’s about those children really make you think about how very fortunate we all really are.

Aside from Garrison Keillor, another humorous author I love to read is Bill Bryson. It all started with the movie, A Walk in the Woods. I read the book after seeing the movie, and the first half of the book, I laughed until I couldn’t stop. It was addicting. The Babe had a lot of passages read to him from that book. The second half of the book educated me about the National Parks and many things about these beautiful places I did not know. My family was all about learning from reading. I really appreciate that about that crazy bunch of people I grew up around. Always an adventure with them and a book.

The key to any reading experience at this point in time is time and quiet. With a puppy in the house, that’s about impossible. She explores a lot, and the doors to Babe’s office and my studio remain closed, as do the bathroom door, our bedroom door, and the laundry room door when I remember. Otherwise, the familiar search for Goldie, making sure she’s not squatting somewhere she shouldn’t, and saying, “What are you chewing on?” The Babe is doing great with taking care of her, it’s really lifting his spirits. That is so necessary for healing.

So for now, this is my circus and these are my monkeys, so to speak. It is a beautiful sunny day. I will find a stack of beautiful, happy music to hear while I write today, and all will be well, here at my little part of Lake Wobegon. It’s OK to visit there, but I don’t want to stay too long. That just isn’t me.


The Day After

Yesterday, my adrenaline must have been excessively high. Today, I’m wiped out, but very happy inside. The family wedding was beautiful. In the words of my late Aunt Carol, ” It’s just so fun to see a young couple so in love with each other, who have plans for their life together.”

Yes, it is. I had a blast sitting with my brother, eating cake and drinking ice water, watching the crowd of friends and relatives. Dan wasn’t feeling up to attending, so he stayed home.

The girls and young women who appeared single were belting out magical, love charged songs. You could tell they were wanting what they were singing about.

There were very few young men actively dancing. One young black fellow could really move with the groove of the music. The others were standing about talking, some were in line at the bar. My brother is going to take dancing lessons when he feels ready to meet some ladies again.

I have to say, he is a catch. Good job, devoted, reliable, gentleman (like our dad), and an all around good man. He lost his wife to oral cancer. We could feel her presence last night. He misses her terribly, and I do too. He finished raising her youngest two sons after her death, and had always been so good with all four of them.

Yes, I’m a bragging big sister. More than that though, he is a very good friend. I used to help our mom with him when he was a toddler. Yes, he was the pesty brother I wanted to make vanish when I was in high school, but no matter what, we would always be friends. And it’s such a gift.

Sitting with him at midnight at his wife’s bedside, we had some very deep discussions. I was honored he shared his thoughts with me. As I reached for his hand, I remember thinking, “when did he get into our dad’s hands??”.

The shoe is on the other foot, so to speak. Since that night, I’ve many times felt him reaching out to care for me. Life has taken us both to the place where I may need his help some day. We share a strange sense of humor, and many folks may not understand, but we are family. I tease him and tell him, “You’re the sister I never had!” Well, at least I had my own room!

Tim, left, Don, right.
My brother and nephew.

As unhappy as I was when he was born, I’m so very happy to have this great guy for my baby brother.

Hope you all had a good Saturday! Leave a comment, like my post and follow my page. I’ll enter you in my giveaway. $50 Visa Card Giveaway. Drawing held Dec 1, 2019.