Thankful Thursday

It’s been pretty busy here at Raabe Ranch today. I had a great book talk with Sam Tyler, my coach this morning. I’m feeling a little sad because we agreed to take December “off,” and resume in January 2021. By now, I feel I’ve learned enough of what I didn’t know before that I can proceed on my own, with good guidance from a couple of books certain authors have written to guide other writers in their trade. Changes are hard, and I know we have become friends along the way. That is the best benefit.

I finished with shopping for the VFW Post donation to the homeless vets being served through Moving Veterans Forward. I’ll accompany the founder and CEO, Ron Hernandez, and a couple other people to deliver the goods where they will do the most good. It will be another lesson in the story of life. Some are sad, some are happy. Some show impressive growth, others bear substantial loss.

I mentioned yesterday about facing mortality, as Michael J Fox talks about his retirement from acting after his last couple of years of struggles with health issues. In the past five to ten years, we have lost a bunch of friends and family, mostly from cancer. As I went through my Facebook friends list, deciding on who to invite to like my author page, I am struck by how many of those people were no longer with us. The old-fashioned address book is even worse.

I think of all the people I’ve loved, liked, and had fun with. Fun friends from school, church, groups we’ve belonged to, and friends of friends. It’s a whole unique group of people you collect throughout your life, and if they’ve been with you for a long time, they really become part of you, and you become part of them. Friends, wonderful friends, are worth so much. It’s a pleasure being a part of their lives, just as it’s a pleasure to have them in your life. The world is so much better with them.

Today, start making the most of however much time you have left on this earth. I don’t care if you’re 15 or 95. You can make the most of the rest of your life by starting now. Start today. Be positive. Be Kind. Be Courteous. Be Grateful. Always leave home on a pleasant note. You never know how life can change in eight or ten hours. Be free of regrets. It makes a tremendous difference in your life.

Although it is late, I appreciate you reading. Tomorrow’s blog will be later in the day, too. The delivery of goods to homeless shelters for Veterans is going to be quite a story. There, but by the grace of God, go I. See you tomorrow. Stay safe out there.

Thoughtful, Full Thursday

After the day at the VFW Post 2503 yesterday, I am so happy to know those good men, women, members, friends, and the public who stopped out. The dinner was exceptional, and the clothing drive was an enormous success. The Babe and I have Honda Pilot and a Honda Passport, two fairly good sized SUV’s. From behind the driver’s seat clear to the back hatchback, we stuffed our vehicles with coats, boots, sweatshirts, sweatpants, socks, hats, scarves, and other items for our homeless vets in the Omaha Nebraska area. Ron Hernandez from Moving Veterans Forward will distribute to the homeless he deals with every day, as they wait for their housing to open up. We are beyond happy about the success of the drive, and the generosity of the people who donated. It restores hope in humanity, and we sincerely thank everyone involved.

On another note, it’s amazing how much writing changes. Certain rules used to dictate “Said is dead,” meaning you should not use the word “said” to show – well, that someone said something. It was a fad. The directions now are to use action beats. What is a beat, exactly? It keeps you from info-dumps. Info-dumps are backstory in excess, which don’t add to the story. Action beats break up dialogue and are useful in revealing information about your characters. They can show body language, emotion, and other useful things. After setting out to add some to two chapters I already wrote, I like my story better. Amazing. Now, I need to reduce the number of “he said, she said.” Action beats also convey setting, or build a world.

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I tried a different writing schedule today, as you may tell, since this is so late tonight. I wrote my novel chapter when I was freshest this morning. It was good for a couple thousand words. I remember when I was just throwing out words, there could be 4K in a morning. And I’d have to edit them laboriously. (Word of the day?) I like not proceeding until I’m happy with the elements of my writing. It may seem to take longer, but I will bet over all, it takes less time. I’ll take copious notes and let you know my findings.

Wow! This Writing Stuff IS Complicated!

The meme above is a brief glimpse into how complicated it really IS to write a novel. And not only do you have to be the writer and a character, you must be all the characters! And reading as a writer is wayyyyy different from reading as a reader. Sam, it’s beginning to make sense! Clear as MUD!

Maybe I should take up drawing? Go back to quilting? After I finish out this month. Not before. I’m kind of on a roll which I think will take us through the next few chapters right up to the defining moment. My character has a huge life event happen. She must decide what to do to keep her children safe. And it’s not a normal defining moment. I’m eager to see where we go. Stay tuned!

This evening, maybe some reading by the fireplace while the Babe takes in yet another football game. How many can you guys watch, after all? I know as many as we can. You have to love those men when they hone in on something like a sport. It always amazes me when they can recite sports stats from thirty years ago, yet they quickly forget something simple like a gallon of milk. I know I do too. It’s still pretty amazing.

Have a beautiful evening, dark as it is and only 6 p.m. Dinner is ready, and I believe we’ll have a slice of cheesecake tonight. The nicest gesture, our new neighbors brought a cheesecake over for the Babe, to thank him for his military service. How very thoughtful! Although it’s not KETO, we had to eat a piece. It’s glorious! Thank you, sweet neighbors. We’re so happy you’re here.

Off to do some more reading. Feeling good after having a good day writing. Now to figure out a way to get a bunch of blogs written, then publish them later. Might be worth it. That’s a decision for tomorrow. Blessings on all of you and have a good night. See you tomorrow. Be safe. Be kind. Be courteous.

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Veteran’s Day 2020

Thank you to every Veteran for your service for this great country of ours. This year of 2020 has presented a lot of problems for her, yet, each of you love your country more than your own lives. I admire that undying love of country. It never goes away from what I’ve observed. Many restaurants will let Veterans eat for free today, others will offer discounts.

A free meal pales compared to the debt we to these brave men and women. Just think of it. From the trenches of “The Great War,” to the Battlefields of World War II, the tundra of Korea in winter, the jungles of Vietnam, and the vast deserts of the Gulf War (Operation Desert Shield), The Iraq War (Operation Desert Fox), and the mountainous terrain of Afghanistan, there are still many, many men and women who take the oath to protect America. I’m proud to know many veterans and am related to many more.

I hope our country and each of us are worthy of the commitment made by these brave men and women of our armed services. Yes, there are a lot of wrongs in America, and there is so much more that is right. A lot of the rifts begin and end with failure to communicate. A great deal of emphasis on perceived wrongs, rather than actual wrongs. Yes, slavery was horrible. Segregation was horrible. Discrimination based on ethnicity, religion, sex, orientation, you name it, it’s wrong. We must be mindful of what we have done to correct our wrongs. Those changes accomplished before us are relevant and of value. It’s taken a long time to get this far, which is a shame. It’s a good place to begin.

We need to right many wrongs; we are not perfect. No country is. I believe the United States of America is as close as we may get. We have for a couple of centuries governed by the will of the people. We have elections in which everyone is now equal to cast a vote for whoever they wish. We elect congressional representatives and senators to use our system of checks and balances. They crafted it with freedom, liberty, and justice for all.

When you see a veteran today, thank them for their service. We are such a fortunate nation. We owe them all our effort towards making this a nation worth defending as they do and always have done. Think about it. Be Kind. Be Patient. Be Forgiving. Be Courteous. Be all you can be to be worthy of each soldier’s sacrifice.

Our VFW Post 2503 in Omaha, Nebraska is having a spaghetti dinner today. Veterans are free, all other dinners are $8. A couple of Afghanistan vets contacted us this week, wondering if we could have a trailer sit on our property this week for a clothing and food drive. They were kind enough to let us ask for coats, hats, boots, and other warm clothes for the Moving Veterans Forward organization. The winter items will help our homeless veterans a great deal. The guys are taking the food, etc. to a local homeless shelter.

These vets are blood brothers, who are ending 2020 on a wonderful note, helping other veterans. The spirit is so contagious; I hope we work with them and their enthusiasm for a long time. These guys are definitely worth another soldier’s sacrifice. What else can we do to make sure we are, too? Thank you for reading. God Bless all of you. And especially, may God Bless America.

Saturday in the Heartland

Hello, from the home office in Gretna, Nebraska. We are just getting started on today’s blog because we were doing some volunteer work for our local Veterans. The VFW Post 2503 is having a spaghetti feed on Veterans Day, and Veterans’ meals are free. It’s the least we can do. We are also having a coat drive for distribution to the homeless veterans in the area. We will purchase weatherproof boots, socks, sweatpants, hoodies, coats, etc. We want our guys to stay warm this winter, regardless of where they sleep. Help is available for them, and we hope more help is available soon, when COVID positive cases go down in numbers. We hate to see anyone out in the cold.

I distinctly remember, as a kid, we could not wear our winter coats until after November 1. It didn’t matter if it snowed, sleeted, or whatever, we couldn’t wear winter coats. Mom’s theory was we wouldn’t be used to the cold, and would be colder than if we’d waited to don the warmer coat. I do not understand if that’s correct or not. I just know it was our rule. I know we were freezing before we could wear the warmest coats we owned.

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Mom probably figured she would do what her mother did. All Mom’s know best, right? Not so sure. Old wives’ tales abound in every family history, and who knows what is the right thing to do for babies and children? It seems no one asks Grandma’s opinion anymore. Some young women behave as if in the world’s history, no one before themselves have had a child. Truthfully, it’s just a vibe I pick up.

And the “No sleeping on their tummies,” edict, oh my gosh, we had our children doing that – and no one woke up screaming. In fact, we were told if a baby laid on it’s back after feeding, vomiting could be fatal, because of aspiration. Not so much anymore. I am astounded. Suffocating easier on their tummies? I would say only if you had a pillow-soft mattress for them. They are strong enough to turn their heads. They develop a lot of upper body strength from turning their heads from side to side. When did they decide this wasn’t good for them?

Times change. I remember once my mother-in-law said not to hang wallpaper in the babies’ room, putting my arms up would cause the baby to strangle on the cord. I asked her, “Well, should I stop hanging clothes on the line, too? Haven’t women always done that? I think I’ll be fine.” She meant well.

And what will be the next trend? Not for me to guess. Young people just don’t discount Grandma’s offer of help or advice. It’s not all bunk. Sometimes you have to trust your gut, you’ve carried that baby in your body for nine months, who should know better than you? We have all survived our novice mothers. Thank God for that, and for the advice of a knowing Grandma or Great Grandma.

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What is on your plate for the rest of the weekend? We are just hanging out with our pups and talking. It was an early start this morning, and a very productive day. Tomorrow is a Post breakfast, so after we attend that, come home tomorrow in time to clean our windows, and mow the grass/leaves before it turns into winter again. Just in time is good. And pick another order from Walmart for groceries. Time to dig in again with Keto, we’ve had a hot dog on a bun today, and shared a bagel for breakfast, I need to mix up a breakfast casserole for next week, and make some keto bagels to get back on track.

Thank you for reading today, I appreciate it. Be Kind. Be Aware. Be Courteous. The Election is over. Mr. Biden is the winner. Congratulations to you and Ms. Harris. I pray for your success as the two most powerful people in the world. Cherish the trust we have placed in you. Take care of our great nation. Pray for guidance from above. Let our trust in your leadership be just. And please, make your decisions for the good of our great nation and good people. God Bless You Both, and God Bless America.

Long May She Wave!

Ironic Thursday

Irony generally means a sarcastic turn of events. This morning while Googling it, an article popped up referring to it as the most misused word in the English Language. It could be. I’m using it correctly, I believe.

Scrolling through Facebook posts this morning, I saw a meme stating this is National Grumpy Person’s Day. So noted, I find that funny. After getting ready for the day, I saw today’s meditation in my Days of Healing, Days of Joy book from Hazelden Meditations. It was truly ironic.

Today, October 15’s meditation is: “Be patient with all things, but first of all with yourself.” I can only guess, but I believe most grumpy people are impatient with everything. Themselves, the coffee pot, the kids, the wife, the car, the co-workers, the check out clerk at the grocery, and especially with all inanimate objects.

We have reached the sad point in society that believes fast is best. It’s all around us. Instant Pots to cook meals fast. No more smelling the roast cooking all Sunday afternoon. It can be done in 30 minutes of less. So much for anticipation. If you are of a certain age, you will remember the Hunt’s Ketchup (or Catsup) commercial with Carly Simon singing her hit song, “Anticipation,” as someone is waiting, waiting, waiting, for the product to finally pour out of the bottle. Worth waiting for.

I think there are a lot of things still well worth waiting for. It still takes 9 months for a baby to grow and be born. It is a short 18 years for a child to complete their basic education. We teach kids more now than ever before, yet our ability to compete has slowed and even fallen. We don’t all learn at the same rate.

I think some of us are simply late bloomers. I believe I am. I was painfully shy through school and high school. Very low self esteem. I grew out of it and into confidence, and a much improved sense of self. It took me until I was 30 years old, but I got there. We all can use some encouragement. Receive it graciously and return it abundantly.

I remember when computers first came to the office. We had “dumb terminals,” at our desks to code programs in COBOL. Usually, the data that served as input to the program was batch processed after business hours, and put through inventory programs, billing programs, invoicing programs, and others. A wide range of activity. We wrote programs to produce reports printed on green bar paper, that was fed through the printer with tractor-feed wheels that held the paper in place.

Early in the 90s, the old timers told us stories about how slow the system was on the mainframe. You could press enter, go walk a mile outside, come back, and the egg-timer icon was still showing. They were very slow. The battle began with processors. We purchased desktop computers for our homes in order to work more, and dial up was invented. Very slow, unstable, and aggravating. More development led to faster processors. Now, we all carry around our phones, with more processing power than the mainframe computers every had. And we process in milliseconds. Good? Or Bad?

Good for getting your work done. Not good inasmuch as we are trapped in an instantaneous mindset. We get impatient in traffic. We are impatient in retail stores (when we choose to go). We are impatient with our kids because they don’t act like mini adults. Truth is, they can’t nor should they. They are kids. Please don’t rush them.

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Rushing. It’s what causes us to be impatient and often rude to others. Berating a waitress is not kind at all. She may have a sick child to care for and get little sleep. Maybe her feet hurt after her long day. Think outside of yourself. You have to slow down to do that.

I feel sad for little kids who have the parents saying, “Hurry. Hurry.” Sometimes, Mom and/or Dad have wasted time or not used it well, and they have to hurry the kids along since they’re later. It’s not the kids’ fault. Don’t make them pay for your bad habit.

You may disagree with me, but I believe all great things take time. A Butterfly spends time in it’s cocoon and emerges grown and beautiful. Personal growth is slow, two steps up and one step back. Progress is slow, but so worth it. Changing habits is timely, evident by the number of people in America who yo-yo diet. Lose weight too fast, you’ll gain it back and then some. Fads don’t work. Quick fixes fail nine out of ten times. Maybe ten out of ten times.

Waiting is worth it. I’m patient, and I think it’s a good quality to have. My dad was more patient when dealing with life than my mom is. She is generally an impatient person, and used to carrying on instead of carrying out things. She does finish things, but it’s also quite a narrative that goes with it. It’s her unique feature, her habit, part of her personality. Dad just simply did with no fanfare.

Practice Patience today. We have our meetings at the Post and Auxiliary tonight. It should be good, with a speaker from Moving Veterans Forward. Folks seem to be pretty eager to meet Ron Hernandez and help our local veterans. It’s good stuff happening right now. There, but by the grace of God, go I. Thank you for reading. I appreciate it and hope to see you tomorrow. Be Kind. Be Courteous. Be Patient.

Winning Wednesday

My world was restored yesterday. We picked up Addison after school. It’s been a quarter of the year since we last did, since she ran Cross Country during that time, and it’s after school. She placed quite well for being a first timer. She is in incredible physical condition due to about twelve years of dance. She is probably more fit than many football players are. Gosh, I love that young lady. She’s smart, kind, thoughtful, funny, and beautiful.

What Toby Mac Writes, I Live! How Does He Know Me? He Knows LIFE. In That, He Knows Me.

My writing was productive yesterday. I fleshed out at least three scenes for the second chapter. The scenes are important to the story, they help with character definition and telling important history. The feat for the writer is to keep out anything that doesn’t further the story, that isn’t important, and isn’t pertinent. You don’t need to know how mean Katie’s kindergarten teacher was about nap time in 1957. Maybe the teacher didn’t help Katie’s fears, you just don’t need that bit of trivia in the story.

By writing an outline, I know where the story is going. Sometimes while writing, the story decides on it’s own to take a twist you hadn’t planned. And if it fits with the scene, it’s great. If not, you write the notes out to add in an appropriate place or simply put it on the shelf for another story. That can happen. This is certainly better than wandering around, clueless. Unless you’re a person who can do that, become clueful, then write a NYT bestseller! They do exist. My thought is they have more structure to their writing than they care to admit.

I just searched my free photo library for “words.” Sad to say, I had to page down four times to get to something other than “Black Friday” sayings. Isn’t that sad? I seldom care about Black Friday, even less this year, whatever date is is. If there were a time to make heartfelt gifts, homemade creations, works of our art for our family, it’s right now, during this Pandemic.

A special drawing from a grandchild, a photograph by an amateur neighbor kid, a baked goody from a car pool family can all lighten a heart during these times. We used to make time for these things every holiday season. I love when someone takes the time. They don’t have to. But they do. And that’s why it’s special. Make time for someone today. Before you can’t anymore.

I’m having another good writing opportunity today. The dogs are asleep for awhile, and I have on music I haven’t heard in awhile. Dayna Jones is another musician from South Dakota. She has a lovely, strong voice. Her lyrics are so telling. Maybe that’s why I enjoy music so much, and always hear the lyrics. It is storytelling at it’s finest. Putting impactful words to music. How much better can it get? Check Dayna Jones out wherever you secure your music. She even has CD’s for old folks like us!

Dayna Jones, Leaves. Get It Today!

As part of my research, I’m going to read “From Generation to Generation,” it is a memoir and a workbook in one. “Healing Intergenerational Trauma Through Storytelling” takes us to a second generation Holocaust Survivor. Serious traumas can be passed generation to generation even though the events are unspoken. Types of behavior reflect that trauma, and are passed, unknowingly, to the next and subsequent generations.

Of course, the Holocaust is an extreme, terrible event to survive. My traumas and your traumas will not be so dramatic. Ours are lesser, yet they are extreme, terrible events to our grandparents, parents, us, and our children. Do not minimize your trauma. Do not ignore it. It affects you. And your children.

Illness and addiction affect many generations in families. Coping behaviors become something to survive in and of themselves. It is amazing how the human mind protects itself, and the body that goes with it. Flight of Fight. Adrenaline Rushes. Amnesia of traumatic events. Thank God for creating us as He did. We’d never make it without these safety features.

That said, lingering below the hard, crusty surface of any Veteran I know, there are war stories too terrible for them to repeat out loud. There are things a regular person back home could not think of doing. Those same things are what we expect of our combat veterans and others. Male or female. Young and Older. It happens to everyone in some way. Self medicating is not the answer. Help is available, and it can stay off your record. Contact Moving Veterans Forward for a conversation that can save your life. 1-402-301-6300.

It’s time for me to switch the thinking and expand on my scenes to make the chapter I’m working on. Sam Tyler, Book Coach, you’re making my life easier. I’m hoping yours gets easier with this work I’m doing. Lol. I appreciate what you’ve taught me.

Thanks to all of you for your time. I appreciate it and plan to see you all tomorrow! It’s going to be a windy day today, so it’s a good day to write. Be safe out there. Be calm out there. Be courteous out there. We’ll get through this. I know we will. You will, too. Hang on. Hang in.