Black Friday-Time to Unclutter!

Did you all survive the day of giving thanks and cooking all day? We did, too. Quiet, reflective days are good. It seems I did something weird to my upper back in the shoulder blade area. I can hardly move it without severe pain. It happens now and then. I’ll probably get the TENS unit on it with the heating pad during the football segment of the day. I’ll use that time to sort through this:

This Chair is full of the printed matter I’ve accumulated while writing and doing research. I enjoy having printed copies, but if I sort through and find any of this unnecessary, it’s going!

I want to get a few things cleaned well before I do the Christmas tree. One was cleaning up my writing area. The sewing area in my little studio needs it too. But with my strange flare up, I’m limited. We’ll make do. Anyone who has chronic pain gets it. When you least have time to deal with it is when it rears up.

I did this thing and bought a laptop stand to use while I write. The Chromebook fits perfectly and even raising it off my lap three inches while typing in the recliner makes less stress on the old body. The pain in subsiding in my neck, thank goodness. I need to do a great rating on Amazon for this product. It was from Lifelong, a family business. They may have saved my writing career!

Before left, and after, right. I can see the glass-top desk and organization. Much easier. I just procrastinate on spaces like this. I’m busy working on things and think, “I’ll do it when I come back in,” and then I don’t. I can create in chaos, which isn’t a good thing, really. We all do better with order. I want to organize all the projects and stories, and tutorials and rough drafts. A small, simple milk carton storage cube will hold enough hanging file folders to keep what I need. I love my space!

It’s amazing what you find when you tidy up. A thermometer as a token of 2020, a book by someone whose work you admire, and letters you need to scan and add to a website for the VFW Post 2503. Never a dull moment.

Sometimes authors report going through spells of “writer’s block.” What is it? I’m not sure if it really exists or if it’s procrastination, self-sabotage, or a cluttered brain. One reason I straightened up is I was getting too distracted. Since I’m not working with my book coach anymore, maybe I feel like “School’s Out for the Summer.” Could be. I believe I’ll get back to business after I tidy several areas that require my attention right now.

The really wonderful thing about being retired is you can fill your time however you wish. It’s really up to you. You can read, write, draw, create, sew, or quilt. I love these things, and just don’t have enough time. I located my list of goals for this year. I thought my book, “These Walls DO Talk” release date would now be past, as would the children’s books, “Bonus Grandma’s,” and “Roxie, WHAT Are You Doing?” And another project, “Grandpa’s Gone,” would be near publication. Other things happened instead. I’m a little sad to say nothing went to press, but that’s a good thing. I’ve learned so much more about my craft, and I know the writing is much better than it was a year ago.

The craft improved with study, a great coach, and my confidence is higher. I know my creations will be better than a year ago. The practice here every day is necessary, yet it’s a different writing. It’s been a splendid start on this journey we’re on. Who knew we’d take the side trips we have? It’s all been unexpected blessings. And I’m all for that. How fortunate I’ve been! Can’t wait to see what comes next.

Please be safe if you’re out shopping today. Distance. Masks. Kindness. Thoughtfulness. Patience. We need all that more than ever. Thank you so much for reading today, and we’ll meet again tomorrow. Enjoy today and all that comes with it.

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.

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.

Gratitude

I had a great opportunity yesterday. The VFW Post 2503 had a donation of items for use at the Victory Apartments. They are newly refurbished empty spaces from the former Grace University Bible College campus. Victory Apartments house formerly homeless veterans in our area. It is a beautiful use of old buildings and houses a beautiful start currently for fifteen veterans. Some are moving in next week, so we furnished four kitchens with some necessary items which included: 4 piece place settings silverware, four plates, cups, small plates, glasses, general use knives, 4 dishcloths, and 4 dish towels. It’s enough for a start. Many, many items are needed to complete the furnishing of the fifteen places open, and the addition of at least fifteen more later.

A high school friend, Margie Smith, and I reconnected through the wonders of Facebook. Also through the wonders of Facebook, I discovered her assistance with the Victory Apartments, and was eager to help out. Margie’s a great gal, and she has a lot of love to share about in the community with projects like this. It’s awesome we have people like her, making a difference, and leaving an impression. It’s great to reconnect with friends. We talked about more need for other items, and I do see the Post collecting them in the future.

The photos tell the story:

The apartments have nice kitchens, a sitting room of sorts, a bedroom, and full bath. I was touched beyond words after seeing the generosity of people giving our veterans assistance, which they work to deserve and to keep. There is a VA office right next door, mental health counseling in the same space, and resources of all types are available to the veterans. It is not only Vietnam Veterans served, there are several Desert Storm and Desert Shield vets, and others from Afghanistan, etc. Regardless of the era, they need our help and are very appreciative of it.

Certain criteria must be met to qualify, and continue a residency here. Their website is here. I am enthused about offering assistance right here, in my hometown, not half a nation away. We can see the help, it’s concrete, not abstract. I can see our Post offering more goods to furnish these homes for their brothers and sisters. More on all of that later.

Keeping in the gratitude theme, I received these photos last night as the grandkids and their parents were on the way home from picking up Josie.

Tracy, Gavin, Addison, and TJ. No one looks too happy about this little Josie girl, do they?

I had three little voice messages from Gavin on his GIZMO watch. He is about jumping out of his skin, and I know he’ll retain this excitement. It might be sketchy when he’s pooh farming in the backyard, but the responsibility is good for kids. It was for mine, too. As soon as their dad left, we adopted a puppy within six months. It was a great tool to teach responsibility.

As for me, I’m going to quilt a little bit until we go meet Josie. I hope you all have a beautiful weekend. It may be spent inside, it’s pretty toasty outdoors. Just be grateful for where you are now. But by the grace of God, we could all be in different situations. Be Safe. Be Courteous. Be thankful. I will see you all again tomorrow. Thank you for reading today. Try and think of a way to reach out and help. Donate items to the Open Door Mission, the Sienna Francis House, the Victory Apartments. Get involved while socially distancing. It can and it must be done. Wear your mask. Wash up.

Gratitude

I had a great opportunity yesterday. The VFW Post 2503 had a donation of items for use at the Victory Apartments. They are newly refurbished empty spaces from the former Grace University Bible College campus. Victory Apartments house formerly homeless veterans in our area. It is a beautiful use of old buildings and houses a beautiful start currently for fifteen veterans. Some are moving in next week, so we furnished four kitchens with some necessary items which included: 4 piece place settings silverware, four plates, cups, small plates, glasses, general use knives, 4 dishcloths, and 4 dish towels. It’s enough for a start. Many, many items are needed to complete the furnishing of the fifteen places open, and the addition of at least fifteen more later.

A high school friend, Margie Smith, and I reconnected through the wonders of Facebook. Also through the wonders of Facebook, I discovered her assistance with the Victory Apartments, and was eager to help out. Margie’s a great gal, and she has a lot of love to share about in the community with projects like this. It’s awesome we have people like her, making a difference, and leaving an impression. It’s great to reconnect with friends. We talked about more need for other items, and I do see the Post collecting them in the future.

The photos tell the story:

The apartments have nice kitchens, a sitting room of sorts, a bedroom, and full bath. I was touched beyond words after seeing the generosity of people giving our veterans assistance, which they work to deserve and to keep. There is a VA office right next door, mental health counseling in the same space, and resources of all types are available to the veterans. It is not only Vietnam Veterans served, there are several Desert Storm and Desert Shield vets, and others from Afghanistan, etc. Regardless of the era, they need our help and are very appreciative of it.

Certain criteria must be met to qualify, and continue a residency here. Their website is here. I am enthused about offering assistance right here, in my hometown, not half a nation away. We can see the help, it’s concrete, not abstract. I can see our Post offering more goods to furnish these homes for their brothers and sisters. More on all of that later.

Keeping in the gratitude theme, I received these photos last night as the grandkids and their parents were on the way home from picking up Josie.

Tracy, Gavin, Addison, and TJ. No one looks too happy about this little Josie girl, do they?

I had three little voice messages from Gavin on his GIZMO watch. He is about jumping out of his skin, and I know he’ll retain this excitement. It might be sketchy when he’s pooh farming in the backyard, but the responsibility is good for kids. It was for mine, too. As soon as their dad left, we adopted a puppy within six months. It was a great tool to teach responsibility.

As for me, I’m going to quilt a little bit until we go meet Josie. I hope you all have a beautiful weekend. It may be spent inside, it’s pretty toasty outdoors. Just be grateful for where you are now. But by the grace of God, we could all be in different situations. Be Safe. Be Courteous. Be thankful. I will see you all again tomorrow. Thank you for reading today. Try and think of a way to reach out and help. Donate items to the Open Door Mission, the Sienna Francis House, the Victory Apartments. Get involved while socially distancing. It can and it must be done. Wear your mask. Wash up.

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.