Sunny Saturday

It is a beautiful blue-sky, sunny day in Gretna, Nebraska. The day reminds me of one that starts out cool and turns beautiful. Like when you rise early and load the car to go on vacation. You remember vacations! I imagine we’ll all want to go on one when this Coronavirus is over. It could be awhile.

I’ve always thought these to be stunning, but not too functional. Perhaps their time has come?
This is pretty much all on my mind today.
Blog, write, and later some block sewing. And thinking of our grandkids. I’m missing them all!

The kids and grandkids are all on my mind this morning. I’m praying for all of them, hoping all are well and going to stay that way. In the family are: a chef, a Federal Law Enforcement Officer, his stay at home wife who is a great homeschooler, a truck driver, a real estate agent, two who manage trucking of railway goods delivered to trainyards by the Union Pacific railroad (essential personnel), a health care worker, and a project manager director. Some of them are parents of our four grandkids, two in Omaha area, one in Maryland, one in Colorado. That’s a lot of diversity and some important, essential people on that list. They may be more exposed than most, and we have to keep living our lives. With common sense at the helm.

Common sense for them will be adequate distance from others while on the job, probably avoiding the subways, and washing their hands – a lot. All we can do is check in on them once in awhile and pray we’ll all come out on the other side of this ok. I believe we will. If not, we will learn how to deal with the end results.

The Babe tells me the last time he felt this way was in Vietnam. Not having any idea of what will happen is the feeling of loss of control. I get it. My feeling of loss of control was in December, 1995, when I had a tumor compressing my spinal cord and in a week lost the ability to walk without assistance. That was the worst feeling in the world, as my daughter was still at home. My sons had just moved into an apartment. I had to get better for my kids. And for me. The Babe had his wife, Sandy to come home to. He was never the same for her.

I would bet every adult who has had a feeling like this is having flashbacks, dreams, whatever there is that tells us we know this could go very badly. Acknowledge them. Don’t let yourself dwell on them, though. Yes, we were afraid after 9/11. We need to remember how we, as a country of free individuals, came to a new normal. A new normal of a free people. We will do that again. Things will not be the same as they are now. Hopefully we will be appreciative of people who really matter in life. Doctors, scientists, first responders, nurses, truck drivers, train operators , and our military all keep our counntry going. It’s time we reorient our thinking to look up to people who really make a difference in our every day life, not sports figures, movie stars, celebrities, and people who are famous for absolutely nothing. I find it very sad we need to get a Kardashian to go on social media to get young people to understand they need to stay home while school is out. It tells me some have lost their concept of real life. You won’t find it on a reality show, despite all you hear on social media or television or in the movies.

In the meantime, keep yourself busy with positive things. Create something with words, music, paints, anything you may have around you. Be inventive. Write a note to your Grandma or Great Uncle and mail it. They will love it! Talk across the fence to your neighbors. Take your dog for a walk. It’ll do you both good. Get some fresh air. Thank you for reading. I’ll be here tomorrow and hope you are, too. Now for some creating!

These folks have my deepest respect and admiration.

Three Young Sailors

Back in the Korean War, three young men from South Omaha, Nebraska, set out on the journey of their lives. Soon, they were trained in Naval flight deck procedures and set off to protect their country. Two were brothers, Joseph and James Conrad. And a fellow named Bob Blakeman. All three served on the USS Essex. I never knew this bit of family history until my uncle, Joe Conrad, passed away a few years ago. The Honor Guard from Benson VFW Post 2503 provided Military rites at his service, along with the Honor Guard from the Omaha Police Department.

The next time I saw Bob Blakeman, he and his wife, Mabel Vankat, were at the VFW. Bob told me about his connection to Joe Conrad, and asked how Jim was doing as well.

James (left) and Joseph (right) Conrad

I posted this photo on Facebook for Mabel to show Bob. In her nineties, Mabel was up on FB and loved it. Back to the story though, it was awesome to know the three men had a connection, and I knew them all. That sort of thing happens frequently in South Omaha. Everyone is connected in some way or another. Directions are given by “You know where Darby’s is?? Go up the hill across from it, and you’ll find our house.” Bars are the way to find your way around, and Lord knows there were enough of them.

Bob Blakeman felt awful he was not physically able to attend my uncle’s funeral. It really touched my heart. That’s how these older veterans are. If they knew someone, they felt they should see them home. Band of Brothers and then some.

The next person to lose was Bob himself. He had many struggles with health issues, making it difficult for him to get around, Mabel had to drive, his prosthesis didn’t fit or work properly. Struggles that were hard to witness. And such a nice man. I think he didn’t give compliments readily, but when he acknowledged the job my husband Dan was doing as the Post Quartermaster, he told him he was doing a good job, and thanked him. You could tell he meant it.

All that was left was Jim Conrad. He just passed away this week. I immediately thought of these three young kids, these three musketeers, these three amigos from South Omaha. I hope they have one heck of a reunion, reunited and swapping stories for eternity. We here on earth will miss the three of you. Thank you all for what you did for the world, the United States Navy, the Korean War, your families, friends, and the folks you were kind to. This world is a better place for your kindness. Be kind to people today, it’s National Kindness Day, and it would be a great way to remember these three kids in uniform.

A photo, an Eagle, and Bob’s favorite beverage at his table in the Canteen. It took my breath away. God Bless Him.
Joseph Conrad was laid to rest next to his wife, Lois. VFW Post 2503 Honor Guard and the Omaha Police Department provided honors for this good man. God Bless You, Uncle Joe.

And now, Jim’s family will be laying him to rest too. Thank you, God, for allowing all three of these kids in uniform to come home, meet their sweethearts, and raise families, contribute to their communities, and help make the world a better place.

Today is National Kindness Day. Be kind to people today. It would be a great way to honor these three kids in uniform. Please leave a comment, like this post, and like the Blog, please. You’ll be entered (limited to once a day) for every comment and every like (limited to once a day) to win a $50 Visa Gift Card, in honor of NaNoWriMo. Drawing is December 1, 2019. Who couldn’t use an extra $50 at this time of year?? Thank you for reading, I appreciate it very much.

Love my Veterans

What I remember about Veterans Day as a kid was about the Armistice which ended WWI. From Wikipedia:

The Armistice of 11 November 1918 was the armistice signed at Le Francport near Compiègne that ended fighting on land, sea and air in World War I between the Allies and their opponent, Germany. Previous armistices had been agreed with Bulgaria, the Ottoman Empire and the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Once I started high school in the fall 1966, Father Vernon announced a moment of silence, at 11:11 am, on 11/11, and every classroom was quiet. We understood what it all meant. And we respected it.

Now, in present times, we have a kid in You Tube saying kids shouldn’t know about WWII. It’s too traumatic. Life is traumatic at times. Everyone needs to learn to deal with it. Period. Yes, even little kids. Life isn’t touchy-feely. It will eat you up and spit you out if you do not know to cope with the harsh parts of it.

As the Vietnam War dragged on, I was appalled at how the veterans were treated. It was very wrong. This era may have been when as a society, we began to consider respect a thing of the past. I believe we quit having respect for those who keep us free, those who serve and protect as first responders, and those who are elected to lead our great nation. Can you disagree?? Yes, and you should do it respectfully.

We have many veterans my extended family. My dad and his three brothers all served. A few years ago, I purchased memorial bricks to be placed around the flagpole at the Benson VFW Post 2503.

From the far right, my Grandfather, Father, and two Uncles. The family served in WWI, WWII, and Korea. Proud of them all.

A few years ago, I petitioned the Army to receive my dad’s medals. Two Bronze Stars. We never knew.

Veterans Day isn’t about free meals, it isn’t about a sale at JC Penney or Nebraska Furniture Mart. It is about those who
who served. Those who came home and those who did not. Those who came home and settled into mundane lives, all the while thanking their God that they returned home. Those who returned home but are still fighting a worse war because it is a war within themselves.

The Band of Brothers and Sisters extends through all branches, none are omitted. The example of their brotherhood is amazing. They are always there for each other. When you have entrusted your life to another soldier, you can say you are comrades, brothers in arms.

God Bless all of you. And may God continue to bless America. What do you think of on Veterans Day? Leave a comment, like the blog post and my site, and you will be entered to win a $50 Visa Gift Card. Drawing on December 1, 2019. Thank you for reading and see you tomorrow!

Let the Fun Begin

Here we are, a brand new month beginning, a very important month to a group of writers from all over the world. November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). The goal is to actually write 50,000 words in one month, thirty days. Can I do it? I plan to. We will need to see how far I actually get, knowing full well that life very often gets in the way of a lot of things. Dan and I have learned that in spades the past year. But we must keep going.

I love all the quotes and memes about perseverance and tenacity. An old friend I used to work for used the word tenacious describing me. I had to look it up. I was flattered, and he certainly meant it as a compliment, describing my working full time, being a single mom with three kids, and wanting to get a college degree. I finally made it.

It’s been started for awhile.

So, in the spirit of keeping on, I won’t bore you with the list of projects and details that I admitted out loud to you. On the internet. Preserved forever. No pressure, right?? My novel and a few other projects are listed on the blog post yesterday, if you’d like to scroll down and refresh your memory. Right now, I’m eager to dig in and write. I had little time to finish an outline of where I’d like my thoughts to take me while yielding actual countable words. I do have this vision in my mind of the outline, and I think once my fingers hit the keys, I will have enough ideas and words to keep up with the 1,677 words a day that will count towards the 50K goal. (Please feel free to quote me on this later should I whine I’ve run out of words).

If you think about it, that is a lot of words. My novel, as it sits now, is 38,388 words. I felt is was complete and wonderful and captivating at 33,507. My dear friend Kris read it, gave me some honest feedback, and I started to embellish the stark prose that was waiting to be adorned.

It will be challenging to add more details and description to what I’ve written, but I need to learn to add this in the first place. I think this executive summary style comes from being in the business world for twenty some years. Just the facts, Ma ‘am, Just the facts. It’s hard to deviate from that norm and create a new one. That is why choosing those words is so very important.

My first participation, hopefully not my last.

At the Nebraska Writers Guild Fall Conference 2019, #NWGFALL2019 I sat in on a session about using poetry as a way to improve your writing. By using fewer words, you will improve your writing. It was amazing. Poetry says so much more without a high word count. I would think writing songs/lyrics would follow closely behind poetry. Think of the poems and song lyrics you have heard and still have in your mind over a lifetime.

“I think that I shall never see a poem as lovely as a tree.” Joyce Kilmer, 1913

“and I need you more than want you, and I want you for all time.” Jimmy Webb, 1968

Suffice it to say, I was alive and heard Glen Campbell sing Jimmy Webb’s incredible song “Wichita Lineman” on the radio, I was not alive when Joyce Kilmer wrote her lovely poem about trees.

Those two passages just popped into my mind while writing this. A third one also did:

“Sticks and stones will break my bones, words will never hurt me”

and I think this is totally wrong. Words have the ability to devastate a person, destroy a child, or start a war. Or all three at once. Anyone who has ever had someone gaslight them knows this firsthand. It’s terrible and hard to recover from.

Strong words? A story was told in that session about a group of famous writers talking about how many words you needed to tell a story. Ernest Hemingway is credited with this quote, and wrote a series of six word stories that followed this one:

“For Sale. Baby Shoes. Never Worn.”

I am moved to tears by these six words. I want to hug and kiss my grown children over these six words. How about you?? Please leave a comment below, like my blog, and pack your bags to come along on this journey towards finishing my novel. I will share parts of it from time to time, ask you opinions, have you select one passage over another, and other things similar.

I’m going to keep track of all the comments, likes, new follows, etc., and there will be a prize at the end of the month, based on your contributions towards helping me finish this novel. I think it will be fun, hope you’ll join me. Participating will not hurt a bit. I promise. Thank you so much for reading today.

It may come to this once in awhile. Just dig deeper!

Balloon Boy??

It has been ten years since the Balloon Boy was allegedly sailing through the air, causing the world to halt, not realizing we were being scammed.

I remember those reports vividly. Not because I was drawn into the story. I remember because Dan and I were sitting in a doctor’s office. It was a follow-up visit to the surgeon who did my lumpectomy. We were there to have a look, removing the bandages and determining what I was to do next. I was frightened.

I remember being bothered by the hoopla surrounding the hoax that was the Balloon Boy. I had much more important concerns, like if the cancer would come back? Back then, I couldn’t imagine reaching ten years being cancer free. Would I need any reconstruction? I opted not to even think of it. I’d seen a younger woman at the warm water therapy pool who had reconstruction. She was so bruised from the donor area it made a real impact on me. It looked so terribly painful I decided against it. Would it ever quit hurting? Due to lymphedema, no. Some days are worse than others, but it’s a small price to pay for escaping with my life so far. We just had our twenty first wedding anniversary, and we have four beautiful grandchildren. There is so much left to experience.

And what would I look like, eventually? In ten years there have been probably a hundred exams. Many doctors have exclaimed, “That is beautiful,” followed by an embarrassed, “your surgeon did such a good job.” In my mind I laughed. What a funny but honest reaction. I knew how they meant it. It still makes me laugh now. In spite if the #metoo movement.

Would my husband still love me? Of course he would. And he still does. It was my own fear as a woman that was speaking, not my heart or mind. Fear does all kinds of things to you. Self doubt is one of them. It passed, thank God.  It rears an ugly head now and again. The price we pay for being human!

In retrospect, I’m grateful I had such good examples of lives well lived. My dad, his mother and father, brothers and sister, my mom and her family all gave us a normal or (at times), Abby Normal examples of how a person lives.  Love God, work hard, respect our elders, soldiers, teachers, and especially  police officers and firefighters. No one in my extended families has ever felt the urge or need to fake-launch one of our children into space and still insist it happened. We are not so dysfunctional after all!

I’m hoping the media doesn’t continue to have such a hard time reporting actual news that they report the same story about Balloon Boy twenty years out. If they do and I’m still on the earth, I hope I can reflect on twenty years cancer free. There’s so much to do until then!

Friday, I’m joining writers from all over the country in a challenge to write 50K words during National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo for shirt. Seriously, what did we do before we had acronyms?? How did we ever communicate with one another??

I’ll leave you with this meme. Ponder it and comment at the end if this post which you prefer. It’s important for authors to know what their readers may want. We will have all kinds available when we publish. Give us a like, and comment. It will help me provide what you like.

Thank you for reading, for commenting, and for being here with me. It’s so special.

I must confess. I prefer paper books. We are a family who had two members in the newspaper business. We comment on paper, how it feels, how expensive it must be, and the covers!! They must tell a story too. Don’t get me started on fonts! We had lively discussions at home, believe me.

Pushing On and Through

It is quite chilly this morning, but my heart is warm. The turmoil of the past month is starting to resolve. That’s always good.

Dan has an infection in his incision from the surgery ten days ago. He’s on antibiotics so it should resolve. The staples come out Tuesday, October 29th. Hopefully, that is the last time the poor guy sees a surgeon for a long while. Prayers appreciated.

My son Frankie (his mom can still call him that) finally was granted access to the apartment. He and the room mate are working feverishly to go through things. Their damage was strictly water damage, which is a blessing. Now, the beds and furniture are so waterlogged the insurance company just paid them out. The clothes are fine just need washing. Good deal.

Some of the collectibles will now be sold as boxes opened. They’re generally fine. Unbelievable. Someone already gave them new kitchen furnishings, so none of that needs hauling, cleaning, etc. Time saver. Hopefully, the electronics are not wet. Otherwise, that will be a whole ‘nother story. By tihs time next week, they will be moved into an exact same apartment in a different building. Nice to be able to move efficiently! Things continue to look up for him.

Loves of my life, my kids.
This was ten years ago on Thanksgiving. Last time we were all together.
From left, Frankie, me, Becky (lives in Colorado) and Nick (lives in KC MO).

All in all, God has been very good to my family, and we all have a lot of thanks to give.

If you ever play those silly games on FB, even though the results are totally randomly generated, sometimes they’re fun. I like this one, and try to remember this is really how I try to be. All the time. In times of peril and in times of plenty. Whatever it is, Let It Be. This also happens to be one of my favorite songs, too.

Words to Live By.
That Paul McCartney really knew how to write.
In more ways than one, I am a Survivor.

It truly IS hard for me to talk about myself. I would rather tell you about my kids or pets or Dan or the grandkids or anyone but myself. In retrospect, I do realize mine is a very unique story full of a lot of challenges. I realize they all made me stronger, and that is a blessing as well as a curse.

When you are strong, people don’t think you need support. You do. You just don’t expect it. People are baffled when you are down. You are too! It’s hard to keep the braveness in full force sometimes. I have been scared for my immediate family this past month in a way I’ve not experienced before. It’s hard. My faith has returned, is strong again, and so am I.

I have always Let It Be, and known that tomorrow the sun will always still come up. No matter what. It will always rise and set just like always. I know enough of those new days followed by a good night’s sleep will help my mind ease, my body relax, and my worry wane. I need to be patient. How about yourself? Can you Let It Be?? Do you want to?? God does a pretty great job of managing if you ask me. I need to quit trying to grab His paintbrush. We all do.

Thank you for reading, please like and leave a comment to let me know you were here. I so appreciate it!

Meaningful Monday

After last week, with Dan’s emergency surgery and the fire at my son’s apartment house Thursday, my mind has been very busy with trying to find strength through the situations. It’s been hard to make my mind go where is should be. Being strong for my two big guys. I’m back in the groove now.

Picking back up with my novel is now on the front burner. I was able to insert some of the new paragraphs I wrote at the NWG Fall Conference into the existing part of the book. It’s hard not to repeat yourself. I have a few if those sections to fit to the story.

Being a new author, I’m just finding out about NaNoWriMo. It’s National Novel Writing Month and it happens during November. You should be able to write 50K words that month. I met a fellow author at the conference, and she offered to be a buddy during the month. People are so encouraging! Looking forward to it.

I’m hoping it won’t be too difficult to finish the novel while doing participating in NaNoWriMo. It will be a skill developing month for sure.

Entrance to our humble home.
Small Burning Bush shrubs and Sugar Maple tree in our front yard.

In the meantime, fall is in full swing. The bright reds in our yard and the yellow in the wetland behind our property are sure signs it won’t be long until we are wearing heavy winter coats and boots.

The strong winds are challenging too. Keeping your car on the road is hard these past couple weeks. It has brought to my attention the butterfly bush needs to be tamed. The branches are rubbing on the house siding. That could cause some damage if left until spring.

These small but necessary tasks are present in everyday life. Kind of like fitting new paragraphs into what you’ve already written. And you keep going until you know you are done. Yes, there will be a certain type of feeling telling me when the words are enough.

In the beginning, I left out a lot of description. I felt too much was overkill. I didn’t want to belabor some details. In the end, I left out too much to adequately tell the story. I’m so glad people are giving me honest feedback on the bits and pieces they are reading.

So until tomorrow, I’ll keep working on getting back into my daily writing. It will add peace to our little corner of this beautiful world.

What will put peace in your world today? Organization? Resolve? New hobbies?? Comment below, give us a Like, and let me know what you may like to have me blog about.

Thank you for reading. I appreciate it very much.