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.

Wired for Story

My latest book to read is called “Wired for Story.” It is a writer’s guide to using the science of how the brain science helps hook readers in the first sentence.

We humans are wired for story, and there are countless authors out there, including myself, who are working on selling stories to others. We hope others love our stories as much as we do, and eventually see some income from selling our books. The book began with this quote from Flannery O’Connor:

“I find that most people know what a story is until they sit down to write one.”

In the second or so it took to read the sentence above, your senses had 11,000,000 bits of information to process. We miss most of it. We can only register about 40 of them, and what we process is only about seven of them. On a good day, under perfect conditions. On a bad day? Maybe five. We think in story. It’s how we envision the future. Isn’t that remarkable?

Most writers talk about things like writer’s block (usually procrastination) and other reasons (excuses) why they cannot write. I had no problem getting over 50K words down before I knew anything about writing. That’s a lot of words when you don’t know what you’re doing.

My book coach (I worked with Sam Tyler for about six months during the pandemic) really put me to thinking about the scope of the story I was trying to tell. I stripped away a lot of the story. And settled on writing one part of the story. In great detail. I’m not sure where it will end in it’s current form. That is the project I’m picking back up come November 1, 2022, for NaNoWriMo. I’m looking forward to making progress on it.

Fictional stories are best liked by the brain; they’re more interesting. That’s the best reason. A story is about our changing. That’s it. It’s not plot, setting, the protagonist, or the goal. It’s how the protagonist changes. Universal appeal is how it would feel to navigate the plot. It’s not the external journey, it’s the internal one.

This kind of book is hard for me to read anymore. Yes, I need to learn this information, but I have a time keeping my interest on the facts, ma’am, just the facts. Yawn! If I can’t figure out what’s happening in a story, I lose interest and put it in my pile I started and didn’t finish. There are a bunch of those on my Goodreads list. Probably 20 books of all kinds I just can’t get into. I feel guilty for buying books I’m not going to read. I did pick one back up and realized it was a series of short stories, not one long book about dogs. Oops! That makes a little difference.

Many folks think good writing is flowery words, adverbs and adjectives all over the place, and beautiful writing. WRONG! Great storytelling trumps everything. Make people want to keep reading, into the wee hours of the morning. Telling a great story is not equal to great writing. They’re two very separate things.

What do you do with details? They should all be on a need to know basis. If they’re not critical to the story, I need to leave them out. No one will notice them anyway. A story is interesting, highlighting key points. Maybe they don’t all happen in two hours chronologically; but they should in the story, or the action will grind to a halt and your book/story will be in the “I can’t make it through this book” pile.

If you can’t tell what’s going on, your story needs help.

If you can’t tell who the protagonist is, your story needs help.

And so on. Your story may need help in a lot of places. That’s why, I hear, the first book an author writes never sees the light of day. It never sees a beta reader, an editor, a printer, a cover designer, etc. I have one, I’d like to salvage it someday. If that is possible.

I suppose my writing coach would tell me focus was missing in this literary folly of mine. The maiden voyage, if you will. It had a point and a cast of colorful characters. Fleshing out the story, focus, and all the adventures the protagonist has will be a good way to see if this story can go anywhere. But later. Not now.

So I’ll read some more tomorrow, and share what I’m learning with you. It may help explain why you start a book, and just can’t get into it. We all have that happen. It’s tortureous to keep going when your journey is doomed, when your dopamine dries up and can’t be replenished. Get over feeling bad, and put yourself out of your misery. Have a great evening and tomorrow. We’ll see each other then.

Happy Wednesday!

It was an early start at the Home Office in Gretna, Nebraska. It was zero dark thirty, I swear! The coffee was dark and strong, the cream sweet, and the conversation was good for it being 6 a.m. The Babe had an early appointment with the VA, so he had to leave super early. I was convinced all day it was Monday again. How does that happen?

I worked more on the quilt blocks for Kayla. I am having fun learning the stitches to applique the pieces down. I’ve missed the hum of the machine. My thoughts go to a creative world full of colors, shapes, textures, and all sorts of beautiful garments, quilts, and decor. The time just flies.

My goal is to have this quilt pieced and maybe layered and pinned for quilting. Then, cut out Cody’s blocks, pieces, appliques. Assemble it and quilt them both during October. AND get back to my children’s book, once the quilts are well in hand.

The month of November is NaNoWriMo. It is a stretch of 30 days dedicated to writing 50,000 words. This will be back on my novel. To prep for this, I’m reading the book, “Wired for Story.” It is about using brain science and writing to hook readers with the very first sentence. I think it sounds fascinating, and I hope to learn a lot from this 250 page book.

All of these ideas are how I plan to spend the next few months, creating, writing, quilting, and other things I love. I’m so fortunate to have interests I enjoy. I just don’t seem to have enough time to do everything I hope to see through to completion.

Hope you have a pleasant evening (It’s getting dark out by 7 p.m. here in Nebraska)! The temperature was 100 yesterday, and about 65 today. We’re looking towards the cooler days and finding more time to spend with each other. The Babe is heading towards his second retirement (From the VFW) in six or seven months. In the meantime, he’s going to do most of his work from home, and only be at the office when necessary. It’s going to be another change for us. At least we like each other (now!) See you tomorrow!

It’s a creative mess in here! I love it. Out of the chaos comes creations. Quilts, kid books, a novel, clothes.

I love the warning when the bobbin is about to run out!

Wacky Wednesday

Here we are, at about 8:10 p.m. We have had a whirlwind of a day. The Babe had some Post stuff to handle, so he did, and I had a doc appointment. As I said yesterday, I had a procedure done to alleviate the bad circulation in my lower legs; the valves in my veins were bad, and I had them taken care of. This forces the veins in the middle region of the leg take over, so the circulation is improved, the legs get a better blood flow, and the pain stops! All is good, the veins that are supposed to be closed off are, and the veins that are supposed to be open are working. Awesome! God has modern miracles all over the place. Grateful!

Did a couple more quilt squares today, and am hoping to get more done tomorrow. I’m getting pretty excited about it, and cannot wait to share it with you. I waited my whole life to be a grandma, and although I had step grandkids first, (and I love them to death!), I was purely happy with the Babe’s grandkids as mine, and still am. When my daughter told me she was pregnant, WOW! Now we have two more, and love all five of these kiddos.

When I think of my dad and how much he loved Becky, his only granddaughter, I get teary eyed. I want this quilt to be the best, and have it be from not only me, but also my dad. He would be so thrilled! Mom would be, too, but Dad was so enamored by Rebecca. He always called her his “Dolly.” And he meant it.

At any rate, there are many times I think “What would Dad think about . . . ” and just wish I could talk with him about things. He would love computers (and I’m sure know much more than I do about them, just reading books), and would be fascinated with communicating with them.

As much as Mom hates them, Dad would love them. And I’m sure he would master them. I’d love to see all that. He would love the Babe. He was gone for nearly 10 years when we met, but I know he would love the Babe. They would be fast friends, talking about work stuff, managing a bunch of blue collared workers, a fleet of drivers, and all the other things they both did at their jobs.

Got a lot of stuff to do tomorrow. I will share a story with all of you about an event we’re having at the VFW Post 2503 in Omaha, Nebraska. We are offering free training about PTSD and Suicide Prevention. It’s vital info in today’s world. And we are offering it for free.

I hope you have a good evening, and we’ll visit again tomorrow. Thanks for reading!

Monday, Monday

Wow, I’m having a day, how about you?

In the middle of trying to straighten out a snafu with some other folks, I called my cousin at the VA, and as we chatted, I noticed the coffee pot was overflowing from the grounds basket, not from the pot. All the water, grounds, etc, spread all over the counter top, down into the drawers, and onto the floor. All my good intentions for this morning; learning how to use my sewing machine (never plugged it in), writing my blog (now, nine hours later), and not getting anything done! It lends truth to my Grandma Bobell’s statement: “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” Amen, Grandma, Amen.

I laughed with my cousin about it being a Monday, and wow, what else could go wrong? I must have tempted fate, because things happened here and there. I’m still smiling, but frustrated. It won’t get me down, but I remember when I’d fuss and fume for days over things like happened this morning. It’s age and learning to practice gratitude. And always remembering it could always be worse (and many times, it has been).

In the grand scheme of things, I suppose everyone has a day every now and then. We all do. And we go on. Some folks are not equipped to deal with everyday difficulties. Maybe they’ve never had to cope. Maybe things always went their way. Maybe they always won a trophy. Or maybe their parents managed their lives so much there was no margin for error. Bless their hearts.

I’m planning on finally getting to put thread in my new sewing machine tomorrow. It was my plan today, but someone else’s mess became my problem, so my day has been spent on damage control. Thank goodness for friends who listen and who know who you are and what you’re about. Those people make up for everything. Thank you, you all know who you are.

I am enjoying the book, “The Gown,” about the making of Queen Elizabeth’s wedding gown. In those times, embroiders worked on all the royal gowns, dresses, and fine ware the queen, princesses, and children wore. Right now, I’m learning about right after WWII, the major design houses in Europe were re-establishing themselves. (Think Christian Dior). References were given when certain young women looked out for others at the Concentration Camps. Jews had an equal chance to get these sewing and hand work jobs. And they deserved them.

The Babe and I are working on our next volunteer opportunity, one that will help us give back in a huge way. More on that as it becomes available. As for this evening, I’m donning my comfy lounge wear, and diving back into The Gown. Let’s visit some more tomorrow! Thank you.

September 11, 2022

Everyone still remembers where we were that awful day in 2001. We were still enjoying the happy vibe of a family wedding on September 8, and everyone headed back to work/life on that Tuesday. Until.

Fast forward 20 + 1 years and here we are. Still at war, against an enemy that morphs itself into other forms of disguise and renames itself. It still remains the pure evil the devil himself is. It will always be with us. Always.

We attended a dinner tonight for the 50 Mile March Foundation. The money raised was distributed to Guitars for Vets, Operation 22 Until Freedom, and Moving Veterans Forward. It is inspiring to be a small part of the effort these incredible humans put forth to meet their goals of helping Veterans that are experiencing homelessness, mental illness, and other issues. We have an obligation to help these men and women assimilate back to civilian life after serving our country. We owe it to them for defending freedom.

It is late, and WordPress wouldn’t load on my Chromebook. I could only access it on my iPhone. Rather than miss a day, I typed it on the phone. Hard to do. With that, I’m going to end for the night. I hope you have a good evening. I will see you tomorrow!

The Queen.

The header photo is the cover of the next book I will read. I’ve had it for awhile, and wanted to read it. Sometimes, I think events correspond to the timing of our picking a book from our personal libraries to read. I have heard things about this incredible woman I didn’t know before. Her dedication to public service has spanned my entire lifetime. In those terms, what a very long time.

I love she did not allow for Charles to reign as king beyond his 80th birthday. I applaud Prince William will succeed his father, hopefully in my lifetime. I believe Kate will make a perfect Queen to his King.

This little meme below struck me. If it is not true, it should be. I could so see her saying this or praying this. During her incredible reign and experiences I believe she always kept God close to her heart and hand. This is how everyone used to be, back in the day.

If not true, it should be.

This tiny woman, a powerhouse of faith, believed in service above all. We should all take a lesson from her playbook. We need to be more aware of how we can serve to make the world a better place for all of us. A good lesson. We should all be so humble.

I’m going to read a little now, and just think. Sometimes that’s way better than writing more words when I’m not in the mental place to do so. Then the next day is more fruitful. You’ve probably never thought about Queens and Kings, and their impact on the world. I have a feeling this little woman, respected by many, will continue to have an influence on the world long after she is gone.

Have a nice evening, and we’ll see each other again tomorrow. Thanks for reading.

Building Bridges

Yesterday’s answers to problems is not the one to use today. Many of us tried over and over only to have the same result. Here’s an idea! How about we try a different route, a different answer, a bridge far away from the last one. Learn how to build a new one.

Get outside of yourself and make connections with like minded people. Do what it takes to get through the day. Get through a week. Get through a month of weeks with a new attitude. The people you surround yourselves with makes a difference. And guess what? They’re building a bridge, too. Maybe you can use each other’s. Sharing with new people is a great way to build new bridges. And find new ways to solve problems of today and tomorrow.

As you get through difficult stages and learn the new skills to do what you’ve never done and go where you’ve never been, you’ll gain momentum with all aspects of your life. New skills, old hobbies, things you can enjoy right now, today, in this life. Sweet, isn’t it? The air is fresher, the view is vast, the possibilities are endless.

I have met a lot of great people in the past five years or so. We’re blessed with new possibilities ahead and the new connections we make. Many of us have done nothing but disconnect from each other to be safe. The best of everything, success, growth, love, and connection happen on the bridges we build between people. Be a connector. Be a bridge builder. You just might find your calling yet. I did.

We cannot do everything we need to do at once. We can do one thing first. And another second. It’s how we build a bridge to each other. It’s hard when we’re not used to it, or if we only believe we’ll fail. But, my dear, what if you succeed! Try more new things, and see what happens. If it doesn’t work this way try that way. Pretty soon, you’ll be an old pro.

It’s dark outside already, and it’s only a little after 8 p.m. Time to wrap it up for the evening. Hope you have a pleasant evening and we’ll see you tomorrow.

Hump Day Rolling Around Again!

With no Monday this week, it’s going pretty fast, isn’t it? The week there is a holiday, we have no Hamburger Night at the VFW Post 2503 on Wednesday. Sometimes we meet for drinks anyway, but we have a meeting tomorrow, so we’ll just skip tonight and meet tomorrow. We’re less involved every day and I’m finding good things to do with my time. Still working slowly on the quilt blocks, and finishing a couple of smaller reading projects.

We had a nice visit this morning on the deck, with our morning coffee. I swear, I cannot say enough how beautiful this spot is, how serene the surroundings are, and how mood altering it all is. It helps shake the aches and pains of early morning for two folks in their early seventies. It puts hope in my soul, and a spring in my step.

The other thing that amazes me is how fast the time goes and how far away my imagination and thoughts go while I’m gluing the edges of the fabric down to the shapes. I listen to music (how funny!), and today the lyrics of some old Glen Campbell songs struck me as odd.

All of the love song were really break-up songs. Many of the man being “just a man” who is unable to stay with a woman. Women were still considered to be part of a man’s possessions, and many times, the man just didn’t want to take responsibility for this particular possession. I found this disturbing. That, and when the woman would leave him waiting days on end and never coming home. No wonder some of us grew up with totally wrong ideas about relationships. Thinking breaking up and making up was expected or usual is a bit off how it should be. And never, ever, should boys hurting girls when they’re young be interpreted as “he likes you!” Love doesn’t hurt. If it does, leave. Immediately!

Thank goodness things have changed for the better. Women are no longer possessions, as a couch would be. Women can take care of themselves, and don’t really need a man for financial gains. No longer do women need to “marry well.” The Babe and I married to grow old together with a companion we could trust. We’re knocking that out of the park.

Thank goodness the world has changed from when those lyrics were written and sung. There was one song I never cared for at all. You Tube it and you’ll see what I mean. It’s horrible. “Dreams of the Everyday Housewife.” Gosh, I’m so blessed to have not lived like this for my whole life. It could have happened. Blessed. Grateful.

Tomorrow will be another day of therapy for Mom. Hoping it’s a great evening for you and an inspiring morning for you. See you tomorrow!

Experience the Reality of Life

Do you know anyone who believes life is one problem after another, with little time for enjoyment? I believe we all do. “Born under a bad sign,” is one way to put it. There is a lot of good in the world whether we see it or not.

Struggle is a huge part of life. It is not the only thing, though. Yes, we’ve all hard very hard periods of time, and then good comes to stay. It’s relative. As I’ve said before, we need to remain positive to be positive, and concentrate on that instead of the negative things that occur once in awhile. I believe good outweighs evil, and I believe it will win in the end.

This morning, I was gluing my quilt block pieces, and Goldie wanted to play catch. She gave me a sad look with those big brown eyes, and I was powerless to deny her. As soon as I stepped on the deck, the beautiful day smacked me awake and I was in awe of the pure, blue sky. Goldie knew what she was doing. It was just the break I needed. The sky was a glorious sight; it was easy to go back to working on my quilt blocks after that sight.

Today still had many, many errands, the Babe had an eye doctor appointment, and we met for pizza. Groceries, then dropping some donations for Moving Veterans Forward. The day seems over before it was started, really. Tomorrow will see more quilt block gluing and deciding how to begin sewing those pieces down. I’m getting excited about sewing on my new sewing machine for the first time, finally.

We have another day at home tomorrow, and hope to see our friends at the VFW in the late afternoon. The rest of the week will be filled with planning how to finish up the 2022 yard work and cleanup of the shed/garage/patio/basement storage. There is so much to be grateful for, making us positive in this life. I hope the same for my friends and this family of followers. See you tomorrow!