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.

Goodreads 2022 Challenge.

Many folks belong to this Challenge, and I find it kind of fun. I’m not sure if I’ve ever reached my goal or not, but I’m close this year. I’m searching Raabe Ranch for all my half read books, the ones I’m just not into, don’t care much about, or just got interested in something else before finishing. Call me fickle, but I do have a pile of books I’ve classified as “reading.” Some things have to age, you know?

Kind of like the fifteen year quilt kit I’m finally working on; kind of like all the small kits I bought to make sequin appliqued Christmas stockings for the Babe, me, and all the dogs we’ve had; and yes, like all the yarn, fabric, embroidery projects, yet to be done. Where there is breath, there is hope. Yes, there is.

I only projected I’d read 24 books this year. Two a month seemed reasonable. What have I read?

It Ends With Us, Ugly Love, My Life With Karma, Bird by Bird, 30 Red Dresses, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, Walk Me Home, Ticker Tape, Where the Crawdads Sing, Senile Squad: Adventures of the Old Blues, Enchantress of Numbers, Grateful American: A Journey from Self to Service, Vacuuming in the Nude: And Other Ways to Get Attention, The Gown, Nobody Will Tell You This But Me, November 9, More Busting Bad Guys: True Crime Stories of Cocaine, Cockfights, and Cold-Blooded Killers, The Granddaughters, Your Story is Your Power, The Price of Admission: Embracing a Life of Grief and Joy, and The Soldier’s Guide to PTSD: A No Sh*t Guide to Reclaiming Your Life.

The PTSD one is something I found on Kindle. It caught my eye when looking at books about PTSD for my Peer Support Training Class, which ended December 2. After 60 hours of training, Mark and Will and I are Peer Support Specialists. It’s inspiring and intimidating at the same time. God will guide us through this, and I feel good about the connections we’ve made. A new way to start 2023, with the PSS designation after my name.

After learning about Veterans Issues in a short course, I’m intrigued by many subjects related to what we’ve studied. It probably wouldn’t look too good right now, looking at the books I’m browsing and looking at; Suicide, Veteran Suicide, PTSD, Military Families, and many others. I want to help. If the Babe and I can do it together, so be it. We will be engaging with people from Moving Veterans Forward and 50 Mile March on a regular basis, and Guitars for Vets, too.

We’ve ended our volunteer work at VFW Post 2503. The Babe is training his successor at Quartermaster. We want to work closer to the Veterans themselves, and have found a way to do it. 2023 will be a wonderful, fulfilling year.

What are you reading now? Do you keep track of how many books you read every year? Do you keep track of the titles to avoid repeating them?

Fear is the Base of Worry

The old saying, “If you Pray, Why Worry?” “If you Worry, Why Pray?” is truest when you look at Worry and Faith and Prayer.

Prayer became a part in my arsenal as a single Mom. I prayed for our health and well being, and protection for my kids. I didn’t stay awake at night worrying. Many people are of the opinion good Mom’s stay up all night worrying. I never have. I’m glad, because I need my sleep.

Worry is a self-defeating habit. Yes, I believe it’s a habit. It’s definitely not a virtue by any means. If we have many habits like these, we lose out on the good things life has for us. We’re so busy dealing with unhealthy habits, we miss out on the joy, adventure, happiness, and goodness. Old habits and rules are not worth keeping around when they don’t enhance our lives. Let go of the old, in with the new. You’ll thank yourself later.

I pray, and leave it to God. I ceased praying for the outcome I wanted when I finally figured out God knew best. Not me. Not even close. God is a big-picture guy. I’m not, not even close.

The reasons we follow old rules is we are afraid of different. Yes, change is hard; staying the same can be deadly. Deadly to creativity, joy, happiness, and friendship. We need change if we’re to grow. I shudder to think of people who decide at a young age they will never change or grow. They think they are the best they’ll ever be. Oh my, you have much to learn.

I ask God to keep me changing, growing, learning. This is the decade I’ve read is the most creative during a lifetime. What a perfect time to write a novel and a children’s book, work on more quilts, and eventually learning to draw and paint. It will be a full decade, won’t it? You can bet I won’t waste time worrying. Prayer, and putting it in God’s hand is the answer for me. He’s done good by me so far. I see no reason to worry about things now.

Have a beautiful Saturday. It’s going to be a great day to stay inside today, so enjoy! We’ll see each other tomorrow.

November 20, 2022; Sunday

While other writers and author-types are deep into NaNoWriMo, feverishly writing to reach the 50K word finish-line on 11/30/2022, I’m on the sidelines, and working feverishly to complete two twin sized quilts for our grandchildren in Colorado. It’s coming along nicely, and the Babe is going to visit our son & family on the east coast, so the pups and I will have 5 days of sewing, with no interruptions or things to take our mind off of the tasks at hand. (Hah!)

I’m delighted, we’ve made it to #1000followers. YES! Yesterday, the count was #1002followers. I think some folks sign up and then change their minds. It’s all good, you know? But as of this moment, we are at #1000followers. I’m over the moon!

As with quilting, writing, living, and all the other things people occupy themselves with, we set goals to achieve, and work to accomplish them. We decide on a path, we learn how to achieve it, and we want to follow through to completion. Yes, we’re full of resolve, and learning new skills, and eager to get going. We have confidence and visions of glory. We’re going to kick butt, aren’t we? You betcha!

And so, the battle begins. The battle between our resolve and our actual getting-stuff-done-energy. We lose steam, and may not get all the reading research done, we don’t write the 1,667 words every day in November, and we just get lost. We don’t want to perform. The goal was stupid. We were stupid. The thought of us publishing a book was stupid.

Nothing could be further from the truth. The goal is not stupid. You are not stupid. Publishing a book is certainly not stupid. You have to work to achieve it, but you really can do it. It’s never too late! The new diet isn’t really that hard, you are on the right path, we need to keep up with our exercise classes even though our muscles are sore.

The thing we need to remember, it’s easy start a project, diet, new habit, new hobby, or even new relationship. The real challenge is persisting with any of them. Accomplishing is much harder than beginning. It doesn’t take money, good looks, intelligence, social standing, or personal favors to achieve anything. It takes persistence more than anything else. We are all capable to being persistent. We are equal as far as that goes, and we have no one to credit but ourselves if we stop before we achieve our goals. Just keep going. The one who persists wins. Period.

Have a beautiful Sunday. Make sure you work to keep your task “fun.” However you can do it, make sure it’s fun. See you tomorrow.

Day 2 – NaNoWriMo- 2022

Technically, it’s still Day 1, but I’m working ahead of myself to get to the required 2,000 word count for the first day. I decided it would be easier to write ahead a blog or two, then maybe work on book things for a couple days. Change it up a bit, you know?

I haven’t checked the official NaNoWriMo website yet, or logged in at all to confirm I’m present and accounted for. Since I have Mom things two days in a row, I believe working at this changed up plan will help me stay writing and not give up when I don’t have time to engage. My determination tells me there is a way, and my brain is just trying to get it organized in a way to see it through to completion.

I have the World Series on. Wow. Phillies, at home, just hit a homer and scored two. In the bottom of the first inning. It might be a long night. A little trivia, here. In addition to Kyle Schwarber coming from the Cubs to the Phillies, two young men from Nebraska are in their first World Series. How cool! One on each team. What a story. I will love watching Gavin all through his baseball career, wherever it takes him. Grandma Kathy and Grandpa Dan will be cheering him on from the stands. Or bleachers. Or a Suite, who knows?

It’s always a trip taking Mom to the foot doctor. She goes to have them trim her toe nails. I’m glad, I’m not a foot person. I find feet are kind of creepy, but they’re workhorses. I can no longer wear fun, cute shoes. I’m doomed to sensible shoes, but have found some online places to buy fun designs on sneakers, etc. I have quite a collection, and three pairs of combat boot style boots. I decided since I can’t wear the ones I love, I might as well have fun with comfortable ones. And my back is thankful, too. I tried walking around in the house in the slides I used to wear for dress, and they hurt so bad, I refuse to wear them anymore. Most women would rather be in pain than give up their pumps or slip-ons.  

Mom is supposed to wear a very sturdy pair of New Balance shoes. She refuses to. Says they’re “Frankenstein Shoes.” They are sturdy for a reason: to keep her stable and decrease the chance of her falling. She doesn’t care. And each time I have to take her in, I ask, “are we taking the New Balance shoes today?” Today she about growled, “No! We don’t have an appointment with that girl who fits things.” That wasn’t even close to what went on last time. Last time, she bought some off the rack inserts, and was to switch them into and out of the shoes she wore. I can’t get her to understand, I wear custom orthotics, and could put them in her shoes, and tell her if they fit or not. She refuses. Oh well.

The shoes she wore today were horrible. Worn away at the toes, nearly holes in them. No support whatsoever. None. She refuses to throw them away. I guess if she falls, it’s on her. Roles really do reverse, when you start to give care to your parents. Wish we would have had a chance to help Dad out. He died way too soon.

Going to watch the rest of the World Series game. Have a good evening. See you tomorrow.

Authors and Writing

Happy Sunday.

One thing the Babe and I enjoy about Sunday mornings, after the news is over and the political shows begin, is turning over to the CBS Sunday Morning program. We’ve caught some great interviews of people, heard wonderful music, and learned things about parts of life we may never learn in regular life.

Today was no exception. British author Ian McEwan was interviewed, so of course, I had to see and hear it all. I even stopped the live airing, and started the interview over to take notes.

I’ve never read one of his books, and now I’ve probably got another eighteen novels to add to my Goodreads “Want to Read” list of books. In his 52 years of publishing novels, he says he’s lost count of all the novels, short stories, and other things he’s written. He showed the reporter his green spiral notebook, where he scribbles his thoughts, claiming, “It’s just a mess.”

That caused me to smile.

When asked about how he was drawn into the life of a writer, he said his passion for reading led him to write. I love that. It seems that is the answer many writers give, and I think it’s true. I’ve always loved to write.

It didn’t matter if it was an essay in school (I know, it’s a little weird), a story my elementary school friend Toni Altic Freis and I used to write, or a report for school. I wrote reports for college with a passion, and always felt I could do a children’s book. It’s illustrated, but not finished yet.

Back to Ian McEwan. He says he has resisted the urge to use his own life experiences and events as a plotline. He doesn’t give a reason for that. I can tell you it’s hard when some of the people are still alive. You may be concerned about what the others think if their character may be a villanous creature, or a no-good person. They should have been nicer to you before this. Then they wouldn’t have a guilty conscience. They can just get over themselves.

McEwan has written about some very dark issues, including child sexual abuse and incest. He says, “I can never explain away the darkness I sometimes write. I believe it is exploring the human condition by playing out our worst fears.” I can appreciate that. He is optimistic reading will make a comeback. I hope so. I think it’s one of the joys of life, and pray I’m spared from the fate of macular degeneration Mom has. I couldn’t exist without reading. And being able to hear. That would be torture for me. No reading or hearing music.

He also shared he will never stop writing. He says he still devotes 12-14-16 hours a day to it. While that sounds like a lot, it includes rambling with his high energy dog around his English estate, and other things related to writing, namely, reading. What a way to spend your days!

I am headed to work on my quilt again. There is a lot to do, and I’m behind. And tomorrow starts NaNoWriMo. Sewing, quilting, and doing household stuff. November will fly by, too, won’t it? Have a beautiful afternoon and know we’re thinking about a lot of things and how to proceed. We all are, aren’t we? Life is a daring adventure, or it is nothing. Helen Keller knew what she was talking about, didn’t she? See you tomorrow.

Saturday Summation.

What a very nice day today. The dedication of the Patriot’s Patio at VFW Post 2503 was at 1 p.m. It was a perfect day outside, and the remarks were short and sweet. The crews that did the work were all very talented men, top craftsmen, one and all. What a joy to see their creation. There was a pictoral history of the progress from day to day, and the men were collectively proud. I love this stuff. It would have been perfect if the Babe’s brother in law Lou Riedmann were still with us. He would have been equally as proud.

This month’s edition of Writer’s Digest suggests Journaling as a Superpower. Also suggested, we begin journaling. It is basically a diary. One type of Journaling could be a novel journal. What a great idea! A novel idea even. Too soon? I suppose.

I’m tempted to journal this NaNoWriMo. It is described as a a collection of novel-in-progress. What are your goals for the scene, what clues do we need to plant? List 10-15 different directions my character might go, based on events of the story. Try different points of view for the character.

Also, an idea journal should be handy. Any ideas for stories, short stories, chapters, novels, etc. should be recorded. I’m liking these journaling ideas. Last night, we talked about journaling being important in learning in peer support. A person learns a lot about how they think and process memories through journaling.

All the words I write, in my novel or not, count as words to be considered for NaNoWriMo. They don’t have to be just chapters, blogs, or notes to myself. It will be good to count everything, and definitely add to the final tally. I hope the flow is conducive to more writing. We’ll have to finesse it as we go along. I’m getting kind of excited. Back to writing Ahhh! It’s been a long time. Remind me of those excited feelings in about a week when I’m tearing my hair out, ok?

It’s been a long day and that king-sized bed looks pretty good to me right about now. Have a great rest of the evening, and we’ll see each other tomorrow, ok? Thanks for reading.

Wednesday Already?

Wow. I remember when I was 23, after my son Nicholas was born in 1975. I mentioned to my doctor how quickly time went by. He said, “The older you are, the faster time goes.” I think of that many times lately. It’s just so crazy. How can we slow it down? The only answer is, “You can’t.”

When I get up in the morning, I still think I can get xyz, abcdefg, done that day. Often, I don’t get past XYZ, much less through ABC. I’ve begun to believe if I can just observe what’s happening around XYZ, maybe when I get to ABC, etc., I’ll consider it lucky.

I’ve been a little hung up on schedules, etc. lately. I have these mental deadlines for completing two big projects before October 31. Something very special; quilts for my two grandchildren. I am having trouble finishing the first one, that I should have had finished September 30, according to my schedule. Well, I finished it so far, then they sprung on me, there are eight more squares to make additional ones of, that weren’t included, then two rows of at least ten smaller squares each row, that need to be added. So, of course, we need to get all those additional squares done. Best laid plans of mice and men . . .

Surprises have been nothing in my life. Yes, there have been many I’ve hated, fought, protested, and followed through with, and I usually win. So this pesky quilt isn’t a great obstacle. I know it isn’t at all, it’s just inconvenient. So it really isn’t a bit deal. Working with people who need to talk is much more important. So this is more of what I’m actually pretty good at. It’s always so nice to be able to do what you’re good at. God is blessing me more than I can imagine. Thank you, Lord.

I will have another 5 + days at home to work this out, and will. Stick with me, and we’ll cheer each other on, OK?

Speaking of cheering each other on, I have about #981followers for this blog. I would love to get #1000followers! I only need about 19 more, folks! Help a girl out, ok? I want to be an encouraging force behind anyone who needs a cheerleader, somewhere to look for encouragement, or a positive influence. Some women need to be cheered on to where they want to be. It’s often no fault of their own they’ve not had the encouragement needed in their lifetimes. It’s just society and families have no idea of the things their ladies need. I’m just now learning of this at my age of 70. So what does this tell you?

I’m grateful for followers, for people who spend their valuable time reading my blog, my posts, and everything else. We all have a lot to do, but the fact someone takes their time to read this blog, I’m delighted! I cannot thank you enough.

Let’s head into the rest of the “ber” months with extreme gratitude, a sense of awe with what nature is showing us, and the anticipation of Christmas on December 25. The climax the year has coming up is always beyond anything we can imagine. Each and every year we experience the wonder of the season, and are amazed at the spectacle.

I am so very happy to try and share the wonder of the seasons with you; I’m also thrilled to share my thoughts and ideas with you through the year, and my books as they present themselves. They will be coming soon, and the story of Roxie and Gavin will come out by the end of the year, I hope. It’s a tale of a little boy and how he deals with loss. How he compares the loss of his favorite animal with when he lost his Grandpa. It’s more similar than you think. Join us, as we continue on this journey.

Thank you, and we’ll see each other tomorrow. Enjoy your day!

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.

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!