Thankful Thursday

My writing staff and I are having a meeting of the minds this morning. Goldie (front) and Lexie (back) got the Babe up at 4 a.m. again. He was kind and let me sleep until 8 a.m. What a great guy. Typically he wakes up earlier than I do, but also goes to sleep much earlier too. It all evens out, I suppose. While the Babe is off again on VFW business, I’m here, creating with the animals.

My creative staff and I are meeting this morning.

Goldie is six months old already, and nearly the size of Lexie. Being a purebreed, she has more outstanding features than a pound puppy, but that doesn’t mean she’s superior. No, not at all. You can tell the difference, however. She is a very smart dog, and needs stimulation. They all do. Kind of like people, really. All ages of living beings need outward stimulation for a balanced life.

Last night at the VFW, we had a reunion of sorts. A good friend moved away a couple years ago after losing his wife, and came to visit for the first time since then. Although we’ve kept in touch via Facebook and texting, this was the first time we had seen him. It was a beautiful reunion. I am so overwhelmed by the men of the Post and the hugs, slaps on the back, the closely held conversations of a few words that say so much, and the checking to make sure they have current phone numbers to contact later on. This is what a band of brothers is. Each of them welcomed him with open arms. They truly love and care for each other. You have to when you depended on each other for your lives. Camaraderie is a beautiful thing to be a part of. If you can witness it as I did last night, you are truly lucky. This is why our Armed Services helps make this the greatest nation in the world. These everyday men from all walks of life, came together as youngsters to do a job they were called upon to do. They did. They are all better for having performed their duties.

Some guys made the service a career, some did not. They all remember their duty, although don’t talk about it a lot, if at all. It’s better kept in their hearts. They show such kindness towards the older guys, and it is returned a hundred fold. Yes, there are disagreements. Yes, there are differences of opinions. There is one thing that holds them tightly together. America and their love for it. Money could never buy this if it were a commodity. You can measure it, however, since all have taken an oath to serve to the death. And they still would if asked. It’s an honor to know them and call them my friends.

I’m glad to have from today until next Tuesday morning to myself (and the Babe), to regroup and plan how the next couple weeks will go. Mom needs some additional therapy for her back, and I’m all for that, so it will be more appointments twice a week. They add up, but should help build her up to have a more enjoyable time in her flower gardens this spring and summer. Right now, the plan is to rejoin the balance and strength training in September through next winter to keep her as strong as possible. Every older person needs extra conditioning to keep living a good independent life.

This is a sunny, bright, beautiful day today. It is cold, we know it’s still winter, and it won’t last too much longer. It’s a great day to create something. I’m going to try my hand at some more water coloring for the 30 Day Art Challenge. I also need to cut more fabric squares for my Snowfall quilt. And I need to write more on the novel. The words have been coming out at a good pace the last several days, so I need to capitalize on that. Thank you for reading today. I will be here again tomorrow, and hope to see you then!

A Saturday in January

This is about the coldest it has been in Nebraska in a while. All the Babe and I need to do is dig deep in the closet to find the warmest gloves, scarves, and hat. And we each have several coats to choose from. We are so fortunate. Yesterday, the Babe went through his closets to find warm coats he no longer wears. He has four or five of them, ready to go, in a plastic garbage bag. We know two ladies from the Post who volunteer at a Veterans Homeless Shelter, and they will take the coats to the shelter this week. He didn’t want to donate them to Goodwill, etc., because it sells them. He wanted them to go directly to a veteran in need, for free.

We did a little office work at the VFW today, getting ready for a mailing. Every year they have a fundraising initiative to raise money to maintain the building and grounds. I like this to be my volunteering so I can apply my clerical skills to helping in any way I can. It helps the Babe, since I can type faster than he can, and then he is finished sooner than later. It was a good day.

We went to Walmart for a few groceries. Few people were out. It amazed me there were so many people much older than we are. Usually we are the oldest ones there. Maybe they go on Saturday, but it just seemed so cold out for them. I think frigid temps are so hard on older people. I know it adds to aches and pains; it aggravates arthritis and other ailments most people acquire as time goes on.

Tonight, I’m writing by the fireplace as my studio is frigid again. The dogs love the fire and lay in front of it until they become too hot; then they move away quickly. What lucky pups. We heard about two men who abused a lab pup somewhere near a lake. They threw the dog, so it landed on its back, the ice broke, and the pup fell in the freezing water. How terrible. I hope the state does not allow them to own another pet. Ever again. People who do that to animals usually abuse children and other adults in their lives.

The football season is nearing the end tomorrow with the last two playoff games. The Super Bowl will follow. We are cheering for Kansas City and hoping they come out ahead. The young quarterback is fun to watch.

Tonight will be a little more reviewing my first chapter and assess if it’s still making the cut for the rewrite. One important thing I have learned is how authors try to cram the entire backstory into the first chapter of the book. Nothing much happens, it just gets dumped out, and the action doesn’t start until Chapter Two. I did it, too. Thanks to my editor, I have learned how that approach could make the readers drop my book like a hot rock.

Thank you for reading today. I appreciate it very much. As usual, I’ll be here tomorrow, and I hope to find you here, too. Stay warm!

VA Hospital, Parking, and More

It’s 10:17 am on a beautiful, sunny morning. I’m currently waiting for Dan (Babe) after a check in with his research team for the study he is participating in. It’s been awhile since I’ve been down here, and wow, has it changed.

Isn’t there always chaos when any entity attempts to change the configuration of their campus, grounds, territory, or property. What do you view as the most impacted service during the chaos?

I believe it is parking. No matter what, I believe parking is impacted the most. The VA Hospital tries quite hard, providing shuttles to ride. So many of these veterans have conditions that prohibit them from walking far. And face it, I’d venture to say most of the patients here have at least one disability. You must arrive early to attempt a spot in the Handicapped Lot. The rest of the day, you get one by dumb luck.

The Visitor/Patient Lot is a terrifying place. Just observing here for the past 30 minutes, I know my life will be on the line backing out of this parking place. Cars all gather, each vying for the spot. Pedestrians are everywhere, not really looking for a car backing up much less out of said parking spot.

I see the parking for construction workers is close to their worksite, a luxury never afforded by the hospital workers. I wonder what would happen if someone were to park in the “Hard Hat Area”. Might the earth swallow them up? You never know.

When I worked at Mutual of Omaha, their lack of parking was well known. As their employment level dropped along with their insurance business, it became routine for a new employee to be assigned a parking area on the first day. In my time, it took five to seven years to creep up the list. Many folks would not work these that long.

The Midwest may be different from New York City or Los Angeles as far as vehicles go, but I’d like to hope we are “Nebraska Nice” with how we deal with driving during construction while parking is chaotic.

Parking will be disrupted with all the people out Thanksgiving and Christmas shopping too. Please stop and think about being kind and cooperative while you are out on extra trips during the next month or so. It will help things go a lot smoother. If we are all thinking only of ourselves, there will be much more of a chance for tempers to flare, accidents to happen, and failure on our part to remember the reason for the season.

Give a like, make a comment in WordPress, and I’ll put your name in my drawing for the $50 Visa Gift Card. Thanks so much for reading, and make sure you come back tomorrow. I’ll be right here.

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.