Veterans Day, 2021

Today is a day for our very special Veterans. All that we enjoy today is because of them and their sacrifices. The freedoms we enjoy are not seen in any other country. We are safer with them at the ready. They don’t think twice about it. Love of their country and freedom are what keep them at their posts. All six branches of the services combined create the well oiled machine that is the Military of the United States of America. Old Veterans would marvel at drone technology used today. I know my dad would. He’d want to work the darned things!

I’ve mentioned before the three photos my Grandma Jewell had in her living room. Each in a corner, either black and white or sepia finished, her three sons in their military uniforms. All handsome, young, trained, and ready to go. The patriotism the men of this era had is recounted in old war movies, songs, and the general mood of the times. Folks at home planted gardens to ease the burden of the grocery system at the time, so the troops would have what they needed. Mom recounted the shortages on toilet paper, soap, and other items like sugar. Everyone did their part. Could we do that now? I would hope, but many folks wouldn’t.

The message I took away from seeing those photographs subliminally at every visit sits deep in the fabric that is me. I cannot imagine life without that early exposure to the Patriots around me. All the men in our neighborhood and family served in the military. Of my three brothers, one was 4F, one not the right age during the draft, and one went to the reserves, at the time, the 915 Transportation Unit from Council Bluffs, Iowa. He would have gladly gone if called up.

My husband Dan served in Vietnam, many years before we met. It left him a haunted soul, like many of the young men who served there. My dad, after serving in WWII and Korea, told me once, “A jungle war is so different than a war fought in cities and towns. The mindset of the enemy is very different, too. The bottom line is, the enemy wants to kill you in whatever barbaric way they can.” He should know; he was in combat as a medic “aide.” They were on the battlefield, did not have weapons, and running to assess and aid the wounded. He was a surgical tech in the MASH tents of Korea. He saw the damages. And he was awarded two bronze stars. My dad, gentleman, loving father and grandfather, and quintessential bad ass. He was a quiet man, just went about his business, never wanting any attention. Many of our Veterans are the same way.

After having these experiences, it’s no wonder our troops have difficulty merging back into life at home. They are not the same as when they left. We need to find ways to help them adjust, and we need to adjust, too. Nothing is the same once they return home.

Recognizing that, we have an Art exhibit by Liz Boutin, and an information fair at the VFW Post 2503 today. The Post opens at noon, and we have lots of tables for you to visit with various agencies and groups for the Veterans. Guitars for Vets, Moving Veterans Forward, 22 Veteran Suicide Awareness Association from Council Bluffs, grief materials from Centering Corporation in Omaha, and some vendors. Come, have a great spaghetti meal between 4 – 7 p.m. and attend our Ceremony at 6 p.m. Corporal Daegan Page’s family will receive a special gift that was sent to us by a gentleman in Texas. I will share it with you tomorrow. It’s breath-taking.

Let us honor our keepers of freedom. Let us remember their sacrifices. We can never thank them enough.

Overwhelmed

Yes, it’s how I feel this morning. There are a lot of things going on again. Funny, after the Car Show/Breakfast/Fundraiser last week, I thought the feeling would ease up. What do we do then? We have more very important stuff to do. And we stress ourselves into overwhelm. Then we need to sit down, make a list of everything, and decide the top three things for today that have to be accomplished. It’s the only way out.

The first thing I want to tell you about is what I’m doing on Facebook Ads, for both the VFW Post 2503 AND my Kathy Raabe, Author/Jewell Publishing LLC Facebook pages. I took a risk and put up FB ads on all three pages. If we can believe the stats Facebook is showing, all three pages are reaching a significant number of people for just five dollars a day. I will keep an eye on it the next few days and see what it does. It’s a start to making myself more visible.

Exposure is so important for people who are starting a business and promoting themselves via Social Media. It’s necessary in this instant contact and communication world. If we don’t learn to create what reaches people, we never get our ideas shared with the world. I’ve spent about $50 to put my brand out there. And the Jewell Publishing LLC has 171 page likes now. 9,318 people has at least glanced at the name in their newsfeeds. It’s a great start!

I am overwhelmed by that. And I can’t wait to see how Kathy Raabe, Author does. I’m promoting my blog on both pages so I don’t miss anyone. Still debating as to whether Grandma Kathy should have a Facebook page for her books. What do you think? Tell me in the comments here, I’d love to know your thoughts.

Things to do for the Post Website are jumping in the queue of things I need to do today. We have a POW/MIA Remembrance Ceremony tomorrow evening, and the Commander’s wife and I have done research on a particular POW from Lisbon, North Dakota. The story tells of the Death March to Bataan, in the Phillipines. My father was in the Phillipines after his time in the European Theater of World War II. If the United States wouldn’t have been able to fight off the Japanese and drive them from the Phillipines, I may not have even existed. Grateful Dad lived through all that and Korea!

That said, please remember the 22 Veterans a day who commit suicide. This is a powerful song that expresses it so well.

Sultry Saturday

Today was filled with meetings at our Post to talk about how we can help our Afghanistan Veterans. They are really hurting right now. And some Vietnam and Gulf War Vets are in the same condition. We are putting our heads together, trying to figure out what we can offer, how we can make connections, and help those connections to make a difference. It is quite a position to find ourselves in. I’m glad we’ve gone from figuring out how to keep the doors open to asking ourselves how we can help those in need. It makes a vast difference in how we approach things.

Tomorrow, we are presenting several groups with the funds raised throughout the summer through our Honor Guard Car Shows and Silent Auctions. It has been a learning experience, one we have benefitted from. We are eager to keep doing more of the same for those we can help. It’s what the VFW does; no one does more for Veterans than your local VFW’s.

It weighs heavy on the mind of many, with the tragedy in Afghanistan this week. Politics aside, how terrible to have the soldier you sent overseas to not return home. I don’t know how one recovers from that; although many, many have over all the years of all the wars the United States has been a part of. We have to be there, to protect liberty. I pray we can continue to help the returning soldiers feel their sacrifice is worth the America we give them.

I am retyping part of my remarks for our ceremony tomorrow, then reading. Just quietly reading. It’s been a long couple of weeks, and my heart is kind of beat up and tired. A night’s sleep is just about enough, but not quite. I’ll practice my remarks one more time tomorrow, before anyone else arrives. It should be ok. I suppose I’d better learn how to speak to a group, especially if I publish books and do author signings. Need some practice, so it’ll be fine.

I hope you all have a beautiful evening, and we will have more time together tomorrow. Once this event is over tomorrow, we’re digging down to get back to the novel. Yes! See you tomorrow. Be Safe!

Submission Guidelines

I’m getting ready to do a thing. I mentioned earlier the Voices from the Plains Anthology by the Nebraska Writers Guild is accepting submissions for their Fifth Volumes from now until September 11, 2021. I decided to submit the first chapter of my novel this year. I’m excited and almost dreading it at the same time. Why? It’s kind of like being naked at 90th & Dodge Streets at rush hour. On the sidewalk, not in your car. And at the same time, I’m not nervous. Whatever happens will happen, I can guarantee it. It’ll be ok.

The story about my first seeing an anthology happened about three years ago. The Babe and I were driving back from Colorado and stopped at a roadside building. It was an old abandoned Burger King from the look of the building. We really appreciated the nice lady who tended the store. There were books, and of course, I had to look

I’ve always liked getting books out on our travels. I have one about the big fire at Yellowstone National Park in 1988, and I have one about the life of Walt Disney. Both fascinated me. I believe Disney would be disappointed with the amount of money people have to pay to enter each part; I don’t think over $100 per day was in his initial plan.

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Among this little former bookstore turned rest stop offerings was a volume of the Anthology published by the Nebraska Writers Guild. It was that book that led me to joining the guild, connecting with people, and getting started on this journey. I love how it started since I deeply believe God gives you nudges throughout life. This was a huge nudge, and I investigated all about writing. Well, not everything. But you get my drift. It’s free to submit poetry, essays, short stories, etc.

I plan to check the chapter a few times with Pro Writing Aid and on my own. I will submit it by September 1, or sooner, if I feel it’s ready. Then we wait. I’m super excited about the process. The book will publish around Deember 1. I’ll keep you in the loop!

In two hours, the Babe and I will go to Nebraska Brewing Company, in LaVista, Nebraska. We will be in the crowd welcoming walkers who walked 50 miles overnight, from Lincoln to Omaha. The purpose of the walk is to raise awareness to PTSD, homelessness, and other issues our Veterans deal with on a daily basis. With the terrible events this week in Afghanistan, there is a definite uptick in our Veterans needing help. Triggers are very real for them. They aren’t just drama in a movie. They are real terrors that are triggered and must be dealt with in order to live their lives. They sacrificed for us, and now it’s our turn to sacrifice for them. If you’re in the Omaha area, come on out. Our friends from VFW Post 2503 will be there, too. It’s the least we can do for them.

Meantime, I’m going to edit and re-edit my Chapter. Thank you for reading, I believe by the end of this calendar year great things are going to be happening. Stick around, we’ll go on this journey together. See you tomorrow!

p.s. If you’d like to donate to the 50 Mile Walk benefitting Guitars for Vets and Moving Veterans Forward, go to www.givebutter.com and donate!. At this moment, they have raised their goal, let’s help them go over by a bunch! Thank you, and you’re all the greatest!

July 1, 2021

So here we are again. It’s the first day of the rest of this year we call 2021. I have resolved to spend every minute I can doing positive things for the rest of the year. I have issued a challenge to our VFW Post 2503, on their Facebook page. I am going to do a total 2200 Squats in July to raise awareness for Veterans Suicide. Each day, 22 Veterans commit suicide. That is 22 too many. We need to get help for them. There are programs out there for each and every one of them. Take my hand, and I’ll walk with you to get you some help. Please.

A mere 71 squats a day will give me 2201 total squats. I also am doing 22 wall pushups daily to focus closer on that number, 22. 22 is the day of my birth. I find coincidences like that very weird. Do you? It tells me I need to help any way I can. Join me. If nothing else, we’ll be stronger on August 1, 2021.

One of the fundraisers our Post is organizing is for the 50 Mile March. A walk from Lincoln to Omaha, sponsoring walkers with funds, moral support, snacks, and cheers. The funds will be divided between two Vets Support Groups, Moving Veterans Forward Nebraska, and Guitars for Vets, Nebraska. Ron Hernandez and Peg Ullom are tireless in their quest to help as many Veterans as possible have a more normal life. I love being involved with their efforrts.

Come along with me as I try to improve life around me. Concentrating on the Squat/Push Up Challenge does something else for me. It helps pass my time while I’m eagerly awaiting the illustrations for my kidlit book. I’ve combed over the narrative over and over, and will once again when I get the illustrations. In the meantime, I’m taking a Master Class on Kid Lit. It will help me identify any other holes in my manuscript, and hopefully, get them all edited out soon. My goal is to get it to the printer in September. Then the fun begins!

There is a craft show at our Post on October 2, 2021. I’d love to have my book available there. It could generate some sales, and I’d get a start on marketing/selling. I will shift my focus onto all of that. It will be an exciting fall here at Raabe Ranch, with the dogs and the Babe (not necessarily in that order)!I believe it will work like it’s supposed to work. No amount of worry will make it happen. I won’t procrastinate or ignore the next step, and I believe it will fall into place. If not, we’ll make Plan B.

I have a meeting in a bit about our July 11 fundraiser for the families of Law Enforcement Officers who were lost in the line of duty. We have 10 days, and we have already garnered a great number of donations for silent auction. People are so generous. Love it. I’d better find a snack as I’m currently starving. I hope you all have a beautiful rest of the day. I will make it one, too! See you tomorrow!

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Saturday and Sunday Fun!

Guilty for playing hooky yesterday! It was such a fun morning!

A VFW member had a guitar he wanted to donate to Guitars for Vets, Nebraska. I couldn’t attend one of their meetings until yesterday to meet Peggy Frye Ullom and drop off the guitar. David J Mike and I met before, and he greeted me with a warm hug, as did Jim. Nice, nice people.

After meeting Peggy, she asked if I wanted to hang out for awhile. I did. Lucky me! They were rehearsing for their two hour set, which is going on at this minute. In Papillion, Nebraska, at Veterans Park. Their music will continue all day long and into the early night, to bring attention to Veteran PTSD.

The organization, Guitars for Vets accepts Veterans with a medical diagnosis of PTSD. Often, they spend time talking about their situations as well as learning their music. The relationships built between Veterans has always amazed. It’s one of the utmost of trust, camaraderie, and knowing. They have to trust their peers have their backs; the stories they share (good and bad) are relatable to all of them; and they all know what each other have been through. PTSD is very common during the summer, often triggered by fireworks. Sad we celebrate that way.

They understand the nightmares, the haunting visions, the triggers they each carry. And they accept each other. They support each other. It’s a beautiful thing to observe. I always see them at the VFW. It makes me think of my dad and his brothers, all Veterans, all honorable men. Dad and Uncle Joe Jewell served in WWII and Korea. Uncle Bob served in Korea too. Their formal photos all hung in Grandma’s living room as long as I can remember.

Uncle Joe Conrad served in the Navy. He looks so dashing in his photos. Like a movie star! He was on the USS Essex. His brother Bob and a man we know from the VFW Post were all stationed together. I was thrilled to hear that story from Bob Blakeman after Uncle Joe died. Bob had health issues preventing him from attending the funeral, but he gave me the gift of that story, that connection. He passed shortly after that, as did Bob Conrad. I think of them in heaven, all restored to whatever life in heaven looks like, and it makes me smile. That Veterans bond never ends. It defies death.

If you are in driving distance to the Papillion Nebraska area, road trip yourselves up here or down here and sit and listen to these fabulous musicians. The healing power of music has saved me many, many times. Through hard times and good times. Music is always there. And it heals hearts and souls. The schedule of performers is on their FB page, Jimmy Weber is performing last, and he will close with his version of TAPS. Have a hanky ready. It’s very powerful. Come out, enjoy the nice summer day; get some joy from the music, make some new friends, and learn what Guitars for Vets does for our Veterans. We owe it to them to support them in any way possible.

Monday Reflections

During our working lives, we live for the weekends. Well, not everyone does, but it’s thought to be that way. I think it may be the advertising world who paints that picture. How awful we all appear to hate our jobs, sleep-walking through the week to make the weekend last longer than it does. The thing we do to earn a living is an afterthought. We regard the place we spend 40 + hours a week with disdain. What happened to doing what you love? Can a Boomer do what they love? Or is that only for our children and grandchildren?

Sometimes I daydream about life as an author and of earning a living as one. Since I was a single Mom, I had to go with a steady income and good benefits. Those two things were musts. And it made sense. Mom stated, “My grandchildren will starve!” when I told her I was filing for divorce. They didn’t, by the way. I had to make a go of it on my own. Determined to make it, I looked ahead. I accomplished much more than I thought I would. I’m so grateful for all of it. The highs and lows. The good and the bad. I learned from it all.

Today, I am also reflecting on the fun we had this weekend. The Post Car Show was very successful. 128 cars entered. We sold food and drink. People were so happy to be outside again. The weather was overcast and perfect. The Babe and I had fun Saturday with grandson Gavin. Life can be so good, can’t it? With the warm feeling in my heart, I go forward to another day to create and learn. Blessings abound.

For today, I need to concentrate on making it a productive day. The recliner and NETFLIX or Amazon Prime are calling, but I must not answer that call! Right now is the time to put some thoughts into action. We need to act in order to gather momentum. We can be grumpy or act as if we’re not. Acting “as if” we’re not changes our attitude. It improves dramatically. Wallowing in the negative only hurts us. Inaction stalls us. Hoping alone will not make things happen, having faith and putting in the work does.

For today, although I do not feel productive, I will put in work and change my mind from wanting to relax to accomplishing something. As I see the results from consciously changing my mind to accomplishing, I feel productive. And so it goes. What will YOU accomplish today?

Thank you for reading today. I appreciate it. I hope you all have a productive day doing whatever you wish to accomplish. Let’s compare notes tomorrow. Be Kind. Be Courteous. Be Careful out there.

BELOW: Just a couple cars and motorcycle; David Mike of Guitars for Vets, Nebraska

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.

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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