Monday, January 27, 2014

It's Called Love

My wife and I raised four wonderful sons.  Part of the reward back is the honor of eight grandchildren, so far: 2 grandsons, 6 granddaughters.

But this isn't what the rambling is about today.  Instead, I am looking back at an interesting tidbit.

I bought a clarinet and a saxophone for two of the boys as they progressed through school. The boys grew up, moved out and in a matter of time, sold the instruments.  Hmm?  Did I see any of that cash?

My wife and I bought new furniture and was about to sell the old living room suite at a garage sale when one of the boys decided that it would look good in their apartment.  So we didn't sell it and he took it.  Eight months later he received a bonus or something which allowed them to buy new living room furniture. Yup. They sold our old stuff -- uh, no money in my pocket.

The same occurred for an antique set of twin beds that I'd gotten when I was single. AND also for a bedroom suite.  "Inherited" by one of the boys and then shortly (or maybe as long as two years) sold off for cash.

Of course, I should have learned my lesson early on.  My Number 2 son was a great con-artist.  We'd go to the store and he'd want something but 'forgot' his money.  So, we'd buy and he was to pay us when we got home. Normally we'd would forget and trust me, he'd forget to remind us, too.  One time it was a watch. Not expensive but I decided to 'go for the money' since it was more about making him responsible.  I asked him for the cash for the watch.  He gave me a flashing smile and said that I'd have to see Number 1 son since he now had the watch.  Without thinking, I went to Number 1 for the cash.  Oh, I had been tricked.  Yes, Number 1 had the watch but he'd bought it for cash (more than Number 2 paid for it, by the way.) Also, Number 2 felt that since Number 1 had the watch, he also inherited the obligation to pay for it.  Talk about double-dipping.  Number 1 felt he'd been cheated so he got Number 2 to refund the cash and take the watch back.  I wanted my money from Number 2 or he'd have to give up the watch.  Number 2 gazed at the shiny watch on his wrist that he'd purchased elsewhere and handed me the watch in question with the genuine plastic straps. "You can have the watch back."  Hmm?  I'd been beaten at my own game by a 12-year old.  I only can think I learned. Obviously, I hadn't.

What I found interesting.  I had an accordion when I was 10 years old. Yes, I was going to be the next Myron Floren / Lawrence Welk. Yeah, right.  Anyway, years after I'd moved out, my mother finally sold my accordion for a tidy sum.  She also sold my comic books and several other things.  No, I didn't see that money, either. LOL.

It is called LOVE.  As parents we do things for our children and we do it without thinking of a return. We give.  A friend of mine scrimped and saved to make sure his only son had a good college fund and attended medical school.  At first I thought of how unselfish this man was being.  Then he told me -- "I want to make sure that he can take care of me and my wife when we are old."  WOW.  Talk about a guilt trip on the boy.  I made sure my sons had a good childhood but never once did I consider that they would be obligated to take care of me or my wife when we are old -- okay, older than we are now.  I know in my heart, if something would happen to me, my wife will be taken care of by our sons but not out of obligations but out of love.

Still, maybe, just maybe I should mention the $300 I spent on that clarinet. Then again, maybe not, because it's called Love.

Until next I ramble on...

Monday, January 20, 2014

Controlling the Muse

How often have you had to tell your Muse to just shut up?  I mean it?  How many times?  Usually any writer, musician, or artist will gladly listen to their Muse and follow the flowery path to complete their project.

But what if you have umpteen dozen projects in different stages of completion?

I am currently trying to publish a minimum of four books this year.  Well, actually, if I could get really lucky, a total of six.  Let me explain.  Four of mine as self-published, another one via an agent and the sixth one as a cooperative effort with my co-author finishing up book 2 in our series.

Lofty aspirations?  Maybe.

I made it a resolution - sort of.  At least, let's call it a goal for the year of 2014.  My first project was to complete book 1 by the end of January.  It is currently done, edited and being beta-read before I self-publish it.  When I get back the comments, I will make the changes and if all goes well, publish before the end of the month - thus completing 25% of my goal for 2014.

With Goal One done, I am now working on the next goal, book 2 which I hadn't planned to start until the month of February.  Okay, the snow has been coming down, there is more expected tonight, and the wind is blowing causing drifts.  More than likely, tomorrow will be a day to stay inside.  Locked inside? Obviously, time to write!  Waste not, want not.

But what of controlling the Muse you ask?

To complete my goal I must focus.  To focus means I can't have my Muse throwing all these great ideas into my mind, cluttering my thoughts and causing me to stumble.

Yes, in only three mere weeks I have been assaulted with new ideas.  I even caved under the pressure and started to write a new book.  WHAT?!  If I start to work on a new book, that means I'm not working on the assigned project.  If I'm not working on the assigned project, that means I'm not going to make my goal.


So, that project, the new book, was quietly put away, to rest in the cyber-vault until the time came when I could work on it properly.  I have a couple of new files in my cyber-folder titled "Future Plots" which are basic outlines of concepts and ideas that have come charging in from my Muse. To attempt to remember all the great ideas my Muse has given me, I've learned, I can't remember, so I write them down and save them.

I don't really want to say "Shut up!" for fear of offending my Muse but I can tell, my Muse is watching and waiting.  Only time will tell who will win.

Do I really think I'm controlling my Muse?  Of course not, but it is a warm fuzzy to think so.  Already in the back of my mind, I can feel the percolating of an idea.  As it progresses and develops, I will finally put it to cyber-paper and store it for future use.

After all, I'm not a total idiot.  When the Muse is talking, I will listen.

Until next I ramble on...

Monday, January 13, 2014

Learning To See

Sometimes you can't see the forest for the trees.  I have a very unique situation that I've dealt with for almost three years and day by day, it has become obviously more difficult to handle.

My mother-in-law will be 102 years of age this year.  It is still a few months away - a little over 8 months away - but, still, the fact remains, the woman IS right now 101 years of age.

She moved in with us three years ago when we discovered that she was falling and since she lived alone in her home, it was not a good situation.  From late Fall until early Spring, my wife's next oldest sister would do daily visits since she only lived at the opposite end of the same street.  It is a small NW Ohio community and the distance was less than 1/2 mile.  But, during the summer, my sister-in-law and her husband spend their time at the cottage up in the wilds of northern Michigan.  Definitely too far to make daily visits possible.  So, during that time, my wife, her older brother and her eldest sister would randomly visit during the week and one grandson would get her mail and deliver it daily.  Why the mail delivery?  My mother-in-law, at the ripe age of 98 was still walking uptown to the post office to get her mail - a trip of about 5 blocks each way on a sidewalk that was anything but level.  But I digress.

Since she was falling, it was decided that we (my wife and I) would take her in temporarily during the summer to keep a watch on her.  She had a doctor's visit about 3 weeks after coming to stay at our home. The doctor informed my wife that my mother-in-law shouldn't be left to her resources and should either be placed in a home or live with a family member.

Lucky us.

Since that time, my mother-in-law has slowly spiraled downward with bouts of dementia and the onslaught of Alzheimer's Disease.  In addition, her eyesight and hearing was shaky, at best, three years ago.  Today, she can barely see and is basically stone deaf.  For her, it is always dark outside, except when the sun is shining in the east-facing kitchen window.  She can only hear bits and pieces when you get close to her left ear and shout at the top of your voice.  Okay, that's not totally true.  If you mention the idea of getting new eye glasses or being tested for hearing aids - she will fight you to your death.  She had eye surgery (cataract) back when she was 70+ and the doctor told her she would have great vision until the day she died.  And she thinks she can hear just fine and don't need any hearing aids.

Each day is an experience of surprises not knowing exactly what is going to happen or how it will play out within her world.  Yes, her world.  My mother-in-law will carry on very long and more than interesting conversations with nobody in the room.  At least nobody that I can see.  To get a grasp of how it works, think of listening to somebody on a telephone.  You only hear one side.  Yes, she talks, waits (apparently listening to a response) and then replies.  As terrible as this sounds, I sat by my office door listening to her carry on a 15 minute conversation.  It was extremely interesting and you have no idea how I wished I could have heard both sides.  She was in the living room, the TV was off and her chair was only about 10 feet away.  Since she has trouble hearing, she tends to speak a little more loudly.

But, again, I digress.

What I didn't realize until just a couple of days ago, I was being slapped up along side the head by the Muse. She was handing me a great story.  I am now remembering many of the incidents of the last three years and putting them to cyber-paper.  Sort of a memoir but not really.

I mentioned an incident that had happened to a couple of my friends and the one told me to write them down and use them as blog entries.  Since my blog is about ramblings ... you just may see one or two stories pop up over the next few months.

As a writer, I am learning to see.

Until next I ramble on...

Monday, January 6, 2014

Looking Forward Looking Back

I know, sort of funky post title but today I want to talk about looking forward, but to do so, you need to look back.

New Year's Eve: You're doing the whoop-de-doo and celebrating. The ball drops and everyone cheers - a new year has begun.  You spout your resolutions.

Now think about it for a few moments.

Can you truly move forward with your resolutions?  Can you honestly say that you're going to keep them?  Are they same trite lines you said just a mere year ago?  Be honest.  You know what I mean...

1) I will be a better person
2) I will lose weight
3) I will .... (fill in as needed)

If you'd looked back over the prior year, you might have discovered that maybe you did or you didn't keep that New Year's resolution.

Sure.  I wanted to lose weight ... and then dove into the homemade peanut brittle and fudge. I wanted to keep my sugar under control.  Yup!  That peanut brittle and fudge was just the number to do that!  Oh, then we had grilled cheeseburgers and deep-fried French fries as a midnight snack.  Yup!  Again, all in keeping my resolution.  NOT!

I gazed back over my prior year(s) and what I hoped and dreamed of happening.  Had I lost weight? No.  Was I a better person? I'd like to think so. One year I even accomplished my goal of not smoking.  Oh, it wasn't at the beginning of the year.  No.  I broke that resolution about January 5th.  It wasn't until late in September that I got so sick I didn't eat anything for 4 days and the idea of a cigarette forced me into a whimpering curl on the bed.  That was back in like 1985.  I haven't had a cigarette since.  I take it day by day and some days, even after all this time, really push the button but I persevere.

If you want to lose weight then actually apply yourself.  Don't put yourself in a losing position. To lose weight you need to eat healthy and exercise - that means no wandering into a McD or BK for a loaded burger. Go to a mall and speed walk a couple of times inside. To make it interesting, glance at the windows but don't slow to shop and then on the 2nd pass, examine just those items that actually caught your interest. But again, don't slow down.  Once you've finished your two or more runs of the mall. Now you can wander back to those places where you might be interested... as long as it isn't Cinnabons, Godiva's, or a fast-food place.  Of course, Randy's Salad Bar & Grill might be okay.  Also, when losing weight, avoid certain aisles in the grocery store - especially the candy, pop, ice cream and potato chip aisles.  I realize the checkout is a danger zone but sometimes you just have to buck up and stand your ground.

I've digressed.  You need to evaluate your past. You need to look at where you've been to know where you're going.  Your past will guide your future.

I've been writing for so many years but not really pushing to get everything published.  In fact, I hate rejection and get around that dilemma by not submitting.  Using an old axiom -  No submission, No rejection.  Sort of like No pain, no pain. LOL.

But it doesn't work that way.  You need to submit to get published.  Publishers will NOT come knocking on your door wanting to print anything you might have written.  It would be nice, but it just doesn't happen.

Look at your past, either just last year or go a few years beyond that.  Really examine it. Do you see the pattern?  Trust me, history repeats itself over and over.  Only YOU can break that circle.  You've seen where you've been. Now you have an idea of where you want to go and what you want for your future.

NOW you can make those New Year's resolutions.  Maybe this year they'll be something you actually can keep.  Maybe, come December, you'll be that person you really want to be.  If not, look back at 2014 and see what you need to fix to move forward into 2015.

Oh, if you slip off the wagon.  Don't worry.  It's slow moving and you can jump back on!  It's all up to you but I'll tell you now. Trudging down the road when you could be riding the wagon is not fun and in the long run, not conducive to your desires.

Without looking back to see where you've been, you can't move forward and know where you'll go.

Until next I ramble on...