Stories Are Everywhere

If you were to look into an elderly person’s safe deposit box, you would find many, many stories there.

The original copies of birth certificates; copies with black backgrounds, showing microfiche. Before computers, long before electronic files, important information only backup was microfiche. It is a flat piece of film with microphotographs of pages of documents, newspapers, and other printed matter.

The births recorded were of both parents, all siblings, and one sibling who died a day after birth.

The story goes further. In those days, the mother may not see the baby, or say goodbye with touching, holding, grieving. The mother did not attend the funeral, held in a day or two. She was still in the hospital. I’m grateful we don’t do this anymore.

The story of a family disagreement; a maiden aunt buying a separate home from her sister- and brother-in-law, then the young parents of the baby who died, purchasing a home Land Contract, and staying there for over 74 years. What a legacy.

Other items of business may include old CDs, old IRAs, old Annuities, all with beginning balances, ending balances, and indications of renewal is standard. Which ones came first? Are they still active, maturing? It’s hard to know. It takes a quiet time in a room bigger than six feet by six feet, no ventilation, outside light, or comfortable chairs.

It’s a lot to process the memories known about those documents. It can also create memories by making stories about those documents in your imagination. They can be comforting in times of change for families. Families whose elders are on the decline and nearing the end of their lives. It is a shame we lose many of their stories when they pass. Try to have them tell you those stories before it’s too late.

Write your stories, folks. Jot some notes your descendants can learn about your life and experiences. Our collective history is so important. Keep it going. Cherish it. Have a visit with the elder of the tribe. You’ll learn so much. Have a beautiful Sunday. We’ll see each other tomorrow.

Giving Thanks

By the time you read this, I’ll be on the way to drop the Babe at the airport for his flight to DC. Shhhh! He’s going to surprise our grandson Joell for his birthday on the 25th. More about this later. The holiday will be nice and quiet with my oldest son and me. Looking forward to it, and he loves leftovers! So I won’t be eating them until the devil wears ice skates.

While we know the first Thanksgiving isn’t how we were taught in school, we still remember we need to give thanks for living in the land we do, and that we are free. My sincere apologies to the indigenous peoples, we were terrible to you.

I have to say, Nebraska’s new governor has committed his first faux pas already. He posted a photo of his wife, him, and two grandkids at the kids’ Thanksgiving programs. The little girl was dressed like a pilgrim girl. The little boy, an American Indian. Didn’t anyone in his campaign educate him how bad that is these days? It always should have been bad. We need to respect the Indigenous People. This is not how we do it.

So to prepare for Thanksgiving, I baked Mom’s Mince Meat Pie. Have you ever tasted that? It’s awful, in my opinion. Mom also happened to give me a Pumpkin and Mini Chocolate Chip Bread recipe last time I saw her. She thought it sounded good, which I took as a big hint she wanted me to bake it. So I did today. Made four loaves. Hope she likes it. I’ll drop off her pie and bread tomorrow on the way home of the airport.

And the rest of the holiday weekend? The pups and I will be left to our own devices. Turkey, goodies, and a new Sweet Potato Salad I’m trying, and working on Kayla’s quilt, now that I know I haven’t lost all my skills and confidence. While we don’t know what the first Thanksgiving was really like, we do know it wasn’t idyllic as we were taught. The pilgrims were allegedly thankful for the harvest (and for being alive after their voyage across the ocean). The winter would nearly wipe them out, but they didn’t know that then.

None of us know where we’ll be a year from now. Too many of our friends didn’t make it through this year with us. We remember, and will not forget. We need to give thanks for how our lives are right now, today, and for the hope of what they can be in the next year. A good friend is waiting to hear the fate of a former co-worker; she has disappeared and the Sheriff’s Department is involved, it’s even searching a home in another state; it doesn’t sound good. Another two good friend lost their wives in the last six months, and their lives will never be the same. We can only hope, keep our faith, and give thanks for wherever we are at any given time.

Should the worst happen to us? Our only choice is to continue on. Yes, it hurts like hell when someone we love more than life itself is taken from us way too soon. We can give thanks because we knew that kind of deep, forever love. It can be from a friend, from a parent, or from a spouse. When we lost my dad, I never wanted to be close to anyone again; I never wanted the chance of something hurting that badly again.

Eight years later, I met the Babe; I learned he had ischemic heart disease. Dang! Finally met someone who would stay, and he had a bad ticker. I was afraid to love him; I was too afraid of losing him before we were even together. That was foolish of me. I’m so glad we talked over my fears. I knew I would have more joy with the Babe than without him. No matter how many years we’d have together, they’d be our best. All these years later, I’m grateful for him and the life we have. We are both lucky, to have each other. Thankful for it all.

Wherever we are next year, I must remember to be grateful for all of this life we’ve had so far. Because we never know. And we’re going to make the most of it all. Thank you for reading; be grateful; see you tomorrow.

The World Has Lost, Again.

Yesterday, another call came we were expecting, but of course, hoped would never come.

Our friend passed away yesterday from ALS. Janet Lorentzen Nichols, friend to everyone, and my strong supporter when I was divorced (and before) succumbed to this horrible disease. Her husband, Don, was with her constantly the last months, as she slipped from walking to bedridden, talking to silence, and into a semi coma. By luck, I stopped and saw her Friday, telling her goodbye with a kiss on her forehead. Don is a rock, but a realist. Being a retired Firefighter, a Battalion Chief for the OFD, he knew the steps a body makes toward death. He called me Saturday afternoon. I didn’t expect it that quickly, but I was glad for all of them, her pain and fight was over. And now, ours begins.

Who is included in the group ours?

Don, her husband of over 50 years; her sisters (she was the baby in the family), numerous family members, nieces, nephews, in-laws, her two sons and their families, her daughter and her family; and lastly, but in abundance, all the friends she had. It would not surprise me if she, as an individual, touched thousands of lives during her lifetime.

I met her in 1980, as we had kids the same ages. Frankie and Janice (different grades in school), Nick and Donnie, Becky and David. We became fast friends. Back then, there were not many stay-at-home Moms in our aging neighborhood. The houses and long-time residents were all younger than we are now, so it was great to add a young woman as a friend, for both of us.

We added sidekick Kathy Snell along the way. Kathy babysat a bunch of children, and was mine when I got divorced and starting working. She and Janet were besties as I lost touch, moving into a different neighborhood and world. In those couple of years, between 1980 and 1982, we walked our babies hundreds of miles in their strollers as the older ones walked; spent time at the then-new Lynch Park at 23 & Martha Streets in South Omaha, made countless Zoo visits with picnics, made hundreds of peanut butter & jelly sandwiches together for the kids as we visited, talked, and solved the world’s problems. It was good to have a friend my age. It was a blessing to have Janet as a your friend.

We reconnected in about 1995, after a motorcycle accident took their son-in-law Dan and critically injured Janice. It was the day of Donnie’s high school graduation. It was also my birthday. I saw it in the newspaper, a little blurb on an obscure page, and my heart went to the family. They have endured so much as a couple, a family, and grandparents.

Two things stand out in my memories of Janet. First, she could talk faster than any other human being on earth. And never take a breath. I was still horribly shy then, so if and when she did take a breath, I’d add my two cents, then she’d continue, talking and setting the Guinness World’s Record for human speech. I believe she could out talk an auctioneer at a livestock show.

Second, Janet loved to cook. As the kids grew up, she worked as a lunch lady for the school systems. She would get to know the kids in line, many having her love and concern because she was that way. She loved you and was concerned. I’m sure some may have never had someone love them just for existing. She loved making food, sharing it, and showing her love with it. Those lucky kids. Hot lunch every day made by someone who put love in as the main ingredient. We were all lucky.

Later, she worked in Douglas County Child Support Enforcement. She learned Spanish so she could help people who did not speak English as their primary language. That is love and dedication, at work. That was how Janet lived her life; serving others. What a good friend, woman, and citizen.

As my the Babe and I sat on the deck this morning, the clouds came, a brief shower, clouds parted and eventually, it became sunny. Now it’s extremely hot. I thought about Janet and her first morning in heaven. I wonder what that was like. She’s probably not finished yet with all the reunions, and I’m sure she’s asking God all of her questions. All of them.

When we heard the cardinals singing, the Babe and I looked at each other. She was telling us to be sad, but don’t stay that way. Grieve, but keep living. As all of us left here without her, let’s tell all our Janet stories to each other. There are some great ones, I know. As long as we keep her spirit alive, she’s still with us. And that’s how it’s supposed to be. We don’t tell stories or blog to get attention for ourselves, but to honor the lucky one in this situation – Janet Nichols. RIP. Thank you for being our friend.

Sometimes You Just Have to . . .

Have a large bowl of popcorn on a Saturday night and watch reruns of Yellowstone. I like the story, but not all the violence. the story could be true to life in some places. We have traveled a little near Yellowstone National Park, in Utah, Wyoming, and Montana. Beautiful country. I could live there in a big old ranch house, like the Duttons have. Does Kevin Costner come with that home? Asking for a friend, the Babe is my love interest, now and forever.

I felt great today despite being very stiff and sore. Mentally, music helped me out, and I did some clean-up and clean-out. Clean closet and prepping a bag of too-big-clothes to give away helps a girl feel special and good. Like life is going in the right direction. It may take awhile to get everything I want in the right places, and many things will be donated in the meantime. Freeing up time, space, and the mind. Make room for new ideas and ways of thinking.

Back to the story of Yellowstone. Enemies changing affiliations, many people in the mix who all are out for their own agendas, and lots of loose ends. These long stories/serials/seasons are sometimes hard to keep track of. It’s fun to try though. The homes would be great to stay in over a week or maybe a month. Then back home, with the Babe and the pups. Life is so good, I am grateful for friends, family, and the experiences we have, there isn’t much I would change to make it better. Whatever there is that’s better is something so far from my imagination at this point in life, I can’t comprehend. The more I learn, the more I love, the more I reach out into the world.

Today will be another nice day in area. We ended Daylight Savings Time and now have Central Standard Time in Nebraska. I wish it could stay this way forever. In Nebraska, we didn’t change the clocks until I was a senior in high school, April of 1970. At this point in life, we are early risers, and probably go to bed very early by most people’s standards; 9 pm to watch TV for awhile. It just feels so good to just lie down, let my spine relax and decompress, and talk with the Babe about anything we forgot to talk about during the day. It’s a special time of day, just as getting up is. Greeting that significant other person and asking how they are, and talking about what we each have planned for the day.

I am officially behind in NaNoWriMo. I will get caught up today and tomorrow, and hopefully blog later today for tomorrow. It helps to have that task completed. I believe when I finish the next three chapters, I’ll have to get my plotting the story papers out again. Even though I’m behind, it’s great to already be at the end of what was outlined so far, and know I get to develop the characters more. Katie has a lot of demons to fight before the end of this part of her story. Depending on how this novel goes, I’m thinking of a series about different parts of her life; it will include interaction with her friends and family, where she has a lot of life experiences. This is what this work of fiction examines, the things in a woman’s life that help her find her way.

Stay tuned, folks, we’ll have more updates on the NaNoWriMo process and progress. I appreciate your support by reading and liking the blogs, Facebook posts, and eventually, buying my books. It’s a process. Thanks for your patience, too. See you tomorrow.

Remnants and New Horizons

If you know the Babe and me personally, you know I have supplies for a bunch of hobbies. And I mean a bunch. There is a giant closet full of fabric of all kinds. Partial Bolts, large pieces for specific projects, remnants that go with my stash for quilts and clothing, and fat quarters (no, it’s not a body part), fat eighths, pre-cuts, Jelly Rolls, Layer Cakes, Cinnamon Rolls, it all sounds so delicious! Those are all the names of certain cuts of fabrics for quilts. It’s a vast collection. And I swear I have a use for it all. It’s not hurting anyone, and it’s not eating anything, so it’s fine. Of course, when the Babe talks about it, I could mention the barn-shaped shed, the woodworking tools, all that. We won’t go there.

Those remnants and bolts are important to me for future projects. Just as are the manuscripts I looked at yesterday are important to the author’s journey I’m on. It’s gearing up this year. It’s time. Now or never? No, not that extreme. It’s becoming important to move into it. Call it intuition; call it timing; call it what you want. I’m ready. Let’s go!

There are people to contact, questions to ask, formats to learn, photos or drawings?; What font? What do kids like? I feel like I’m on the high dive at the Olympics! Have I mentioned I can’t swim? Terrifying yet exhilarating. Woo hoo. I hope you’ll stay with me. We’ve come this far.

As my new friend Carol Gino taught me in her book, “Me and Mario” (the story of her twenty-year relationship with Mario Puzo, author of the Godfather), Puzo said a story is like making a quilt. (Boy, did this make sense to me!) I can take these parts of a story (pre-cuts, layer cakes, bolts, and so forth) and put them together. Through the magic of ProWritingAid and editing software, I can rearrange the pieces in any order, until it reaches the most pleasing arrangement.

Today is all about a beginning. Keeping parts of what is important. Building on those pieces. Adding more when you see fit. Changing things that don’t work. Being brave to be yourself. Be brave enough to tell your stories. My musician friends have done that very thing all year. Facebook Live got a workout. They established Venmo accounts. Survival is what it’s about now for them. As soon as you can, go see live music again. Please! They need your support now more than ever.

As I write a to-do list for me through the month of January 2021, know how grateful I am for your support all this time. We’ve met nearly 500 times through my blog. Thank you for being here! I’m off to pick up groceries (it saves me so much time!) and stow them. Then write the e-mails, etc. for creating the LLC, contacting the illustrator, all stuff that’s overwhelming and exciting. Who says retirement is boring? Not me, never! Blessings on all of you.