Monday, July 28, 2014

Sand and Re-varnish

We have a dining room table.  It's a nice round one, pedestal with a huge leaf to insert when we need to seat more than four comfortably.  It has been in the household for about 20 years now. At first, it was the crown glory - a shrine of sorts, used only on the most special of occasions.  It was beautiful in its shiny glory of natural oak with a gloss varnish finish.

Time has a way of diminishing the luster and glory. Once revered, it soon passed and became another common item in the household and was used for every meal, banged on by new grandchildren and quickly modified into an instant craft table for water paints, glue, staples and sharp instruments of destruction. The once glorious table suffered the abuse of their little hands as they painted birdhouses, carved assorted things and created every possible craft.  If that wasn't indignity enough, it also was assaulted with spilled milk, soft drinks, coffee, gravies and an assortment of cooked and uncooked foods.

After last year's Christmas holidays of crafts, gift wrapping and meals, I would catch my loving wife quietly studying the table.  Finally, right after the Spring rains had stopped she voiced her quiet musing.

That kitchen table needs to go. It's a sight.  How much do you think a new dining room suite would cost?

Whoa!  I'm retired.  Money is limited and that old kitchen table is solid oak.  I was taken aback. What was once a dining room table was now a kitchen table.  The poor thing had lost all its status symbol.

Well, I really do like it but the top is so... so... It's in really bad shape.

It was a feeble offer but one I decided to hazard.  We could sand it and re-varnish the thing.

And so began the singing mantra.  We need to sand this table top and get it back into shape.  But I did nothing.

Last week we were in WallyWorld - every town seems to have one now-a-days.  My wife strolled through the store as the storm raged outside.  I really don't worry about getting wet - I mean, I'm not afraid of me being so sweet I'd melt.  No, it's more like, I'm old, I've got wrinkles and water seems to add more wrinkles - THAT's my fear.  Anyway, we suddenly found ourselves in the hardware department.  We picked up some sheets of sandpaper for my little hand sander... and a can of oak finish varnish.

Yesterday I heard a strange sound as I worked in my shop creating stakes for my tomato plants in the garden.  The cherry tomato plant was suddenly going renegade on me and I needed to harness it ... but that's another story.

I ambled upstairs and found my wife sanding the table top.  Since I seemed to be reluctant to approach the project, she took it upon herself to handle it.  She sanded and sanded and sanded and sanded.

Years, decades of abuse disappeared.  The gouges, the marks, the dull, listless areas -- they all vanished.  My wife was stripping away the memories.  She spent a diligent amount of time on the project.  The table was satin smooth again.

Tonight she applied the first layer of new varnish.  It still needs two more applications but already I see the table we bought twenty years ago.

I gazed in the mirror in the bathroom just a few minutes ago and for just a fleeting moment, wondered.  Could that sander do a similar justice to me?  Could it rid me of those creases, gouges and whatever then get a new re-varnish and look all spiffy again?

Wouldn't that be great?

Until next I ramble on...

Monday, July 21, 2014

Battle of the Bulge

Today I'm not going to rant about some political issue.  I'm not going to comment or expound on some writing example.  Instead, I want to talk about something very near to my dear heart - FAT.  Please note I did not say "near and dear to my heart" in that last sentence.

I need to diet.  Four letters and the horrors they explode within the visual brain.  D-I-E-T.

That's right.  The Battle of the Bulge.  I have too much fat. Yes, I'm overweight.  I'm FAT.  That's right -- F... A... T... fat.

It isn't like I haven't tried to diet before.  I've done the water diet many years back.  I lost some weight but the idea of drinking ONE WHOLE GALLON of water in only 8 (EIGHT) hours was mind-boggling.  In truth, I think the only reason I lost weight was a simple one.  The men's room was one flight down the stairs and another 25 steps.  Yes, I counted them.  When you consume a gallon of water, not counting the 3 or 4 cups of coffee - no matter how much you try, the bladder wins and you race to the toilet.  If you don't, the bladder still wins, you lose.  One reason to wear dark (black) clothing.  If it gets "wet" for some reason, it doesn't show, at least not like gray, brown, or God forbid! A light color.  Fortunately, I never lost a battle in the race to the toilet.  Whew!

Again, I did lose weight.  Not a whole lot, but about ten (10) pounds.

I've done the others and I won't mention them all here.  Just say, that I would lose "some" weight and then in a few months, balloon back up and add some extra on - just for good measure. I was a human yo-yo.

My last diet was just a few months ago - well, almost a year ago.  I was having some issues and after several months of tests - starting in June 2013 - it was finally determined to remove my gall bladder.  But first, I had to purge my system.  Now, we all know what that means.  I had to have an UPPER and a LOWER G.I.  Well, whoop-de-doo-dah.  Talk about the veritable poked pig.  I didn't have both done at the exact same time to appear like a skewered pig, although I did have them both the same day and procedure.  He took pictures.  Getting in touch with my "inner" self is not all that much fun.  I stored the pictures away.  Anyway, come November, I get the final decision on gall bladder surgery.

During all this, I lose about 12 pounds.  I very ecstatic.  Weight loss.  Yay!

I backslide a little during the holiday - I mean -- Thanksgiving?  You know you have to gorge--turkey and all.  Christmas?  Can you really give up peanut brittle and candy canes?  And, of course, the Christmas feasts.  Then comes New Years and the resolutions.

Resolutions?  No, I normally don't do those since they are usually broken within the first month, if not the first few days.

But, I did get back on the treadmill and bicycle.  I worked out and kept my weight down.  Oh, and I ate a lot more salads.  Hey, I happen to like salads -- just not every meal.  I can easily put down a BIG bowl of lettuce with all the yummy condiments - tomatoes, celery, green peppers, onions, sunflower seeds, pineapple, mandarin oranges, garbanzo beans and of course, thick, yummy dressing.  Ooooh.  I already see a few no-nos in the crowd.  Call it a luxury and move on.

I don't seem to lose any weight, at least, not a lot and I slack off.  I could tell you it was only January 3rd when I quit but I actually made it into February.  Now it is July and since I live out in the country, I can walk around and flash that pale flesh in the sun.  Nobody is being blinded by the sight of all that flesh.  Yes, I gained all the weight back. My body weight soared upward and it was even higher than when I started - but then again - every time I diet, I always go higher than the current plateau.  Damn!

So, do I maintain the body mass I have or do I lose weight?  I mean, really go for it and try to lose 80 pounds?  All the way down.  A total of 80 pounds?

A friend told me: Be happy with who you are and live your life to the fullest that you can.

I want to do that but I want to live as long as possible, too.  If I live to the ripe age of my parents, that means I have maybe another 12-15 years.  If I diet, could it be a better life?

I've already had a quadruple by-pass on the heart so I figure I'm on borrowed time as it is.  Do I really want to push the edge?

I found those pictures the doctor took.  They still don't look good but I can see the fat he was talking about.  It's not good fat, as if there was such a thing, but I should consider getting rid of it.

If I diet - I need a diet that is heart friendly and doesn't have eggs or pasta in it.  I can't have eggs and almost 90% of diets insist on eggs.  And pasta is a texture thing with me.

Share your ideas - should I diet and continue this Battle of the Bulge?  Why or why not?

Until next I ramble on...

Monday, July 14, 2014

Why Do You Write?

That seems like an honest question... or is it?

I'm accustomed to the age old questions: What inspires you? How do you think of something to write? And various other such questions, but "Why do you write?"  Huh!  That's a new one.

First, I have a vivid imagination and certain words will invoke an image or a string of images that somehow I construe into a tale.  Oh, wait -- that falls under "what inspires you" questioning.

How about?  I read a story written by another author BEFORE I started writing which I found so pathetic that I said "I can write a better story than that!" and finally decided to put up or shut up.

That sounds rather tacky and impolite to dis another author.  Actually, it is the truth, in a way.  I read a very poorly written story including bad, stereotypical characters, bland action, crappy plot and even worse ending.  It was a story I was reading to my children at night.  Even they didn't want to listen to it. So I quit and I began creating a story for them in place of it.  I finished the crappy novel hoping it would get better - it didn't and quickly thought I'd wasted my time but realized I actually had learned a lot while reading it.  I'd learned what not to do.

Now, as I mentioned, I was creating a story - continuing it each night as I told my sons the tale with them helping by adding names, some descriptions and in a sense, deciding what action might happen next.  In other words, as I stumbled through my tale, I would say "As Andrew (a name they'd chosen) hiked through the woods, you won't believe what he found. What do you think it was?"  Now they would get involved and try to guess what it was.  Each boy was allowed to give two ideas then I would pick the one that I thought would be the best choice.  I usually had five choices (2 boys X 2 ideas = 4) plus my own for backup, so I was safe.  Making a decision about which choice, I would continue the story.  What I didn't know was my wife would sit on the landing and listen to the tale as we created it.

One night she suggested I start to put the words down and see if it could be a real story.  For some reason, the story never really ever ended. The nights of story-telling ceased; I guess the boys grew up since they preferred I not do bedtime stories when they had buddies stay over.

BUT, I had these stories inside me.  I needed to get them out.  I needed to write.  My wife's suggestion seemed the logical escape.

So why do I write?  I write to express myself, to share the world(s) inside my head with others and let them see the wonders I live with and am able to escape to for a little while.

If scientists ever prove whether parallel worlds exist, it won't be a surprise to me.  I know they exist. I live in those worlds that parallel mine or mine that parallels theirs.  Inside my brain are so many wondrous worlds that if I don't write, I'll go crazy.

So, tell me - Why do YOU write?  Share.

Until next I ramble on...

Monday, July 7, 2014

The Speed of Spam...

Okay, today I do a little rant.  Not a big one... well, maybe it will be - depends on what all I find to say.

I hate spam mail.  Really?  Is there anyone who gets really excited when they get spam mail?  I mean, who jumps up and down for joy just because they received some garbage stuff in the mail - either snail or electronic?

Did I ask for that mail?  Do you think that just because you can send out mass mailings that I would leap at the chance for new car insurance or a credit card or... and this one I really like... want a psychic reading?

Now let's think about that.  A psychic sends me an email promising to tell me the future and my business, my love life, or some great monetary opportunity.  First, I'm retired so my business is pretty much defunct.  I'm happily married for more years than I can believe... so my love life is right on course and if you can tell me about a monetary opportunity - why aren't you taking it?

A psychic send me a email.  If she (or he) is truly psychic, I would have thought they'd have known I wasn't interested and not wasted their time or money on me.  So much for their psychic ability.

Credit cards?  I've worked the last ten years to get myself OUT of credit debt.  Why would I want to grab a chance to get a credit card at such a low interest rate that is only good for maybe three months, six months or even twelve months THEN deal with a 29.99% interest rate there after?  Do I look stupid?  Don't answer that!  I am constantly getting offers for a credit card at a "low" offer.  Just think - if credit card companies didn't spend all that money doing mass mailings they could probably reduce the interest rates to something truly respectable.  Plus, who are they fooling?  We'll round-up the charge to the next dollar and put that money in a savings account at 3%.  Hmm?  So, I buy something at $21.36... you ante it up to $22 and I get to earn 3% on $.74 while you charge me 18%-21% on that same $.74.  Yeah, real fair.  Look!  I'm putting money back for little Jimmy's college tuition.

Years ago I had a spam call to my apartment just as I was getting my supper fixed.  She wanted a few minutes of my time.  I tried to explain that I wasn't interested.  Her response?  I haven't even told you what my call is about. How can you not be interested?  I told the person I was in the middle of something and didn't have the time. She only wanted a minute.  I told her I didn't have a minute and was hanging up - and I hung up.  The phone rang within 60 seconds.  It was her again and she informed me that she didn't like me hanging up on her.  I told her I didn't like her calling me when I didn't even ask her to call me.  She was silent for a few seconds - I think she was going over her cheater notes to see what to do next.  I hung up.  She called me back and let me know in uncertain terms that I was being very rude.  I told her she was being rude by calling me back - I didn't want to talk to her.  I hung up.  Yup!  She called back and told me not to hang up on her again until she was finished talking.  I said - "Listen to me. I didn't call you, you called and are bothering me. I don't want to talk to you. Call me back again and I will have you and your company sued for phone harassment.  Am I understood?  I'm hanging up now."  I slammed the phone down... and waited.  She didn't call me back -- until the next day.  The phone rang and she said "I hope you're free to talk today."  I was furious.  I told her "Sure, just wait a second I need to turn off the stove."  I put the phone down and went to watch my TV show she'd interrupted.  I checked the phone every 10 minutes or so (during commercials) to see if she was still there.  She hung on for almost 2 hours before finally hanging up.  Yes, she called the next day.  I told her it was phone harassment and that I had her number and would getting in touch with a lawyer.  She hung up.  I never heard from her again.

I had a psychic call me and offer to do a free reading.  I asked her if she had somehow gotten a message that I wanted a reading.  She said no.  I retaliated with "So you can't really read the future since you didn't know I didn't want a reading.  Right?"  I hung up.  No return call.  I guess she could read the present.

I had a gentleman offer me siding for my house.  I told him I lived in an apartment where I rented.  He continued to sell me on the idea of remodeling, even trying to do the inside.  He told me to talk with my landlord and see if we could work out a deal.  I hung up.  He didn't call back.  Somehow the concept of non-ownership was beyond his scope.

My spam email has offered me many opportunities that I have passed on.  I do not need breast enlargements, no matter how much I like big ones.  Nor do I need to have them reduced.  I'm a guy.  I don't need penile enlargements nor do I want to have the ability to be able to perform all night with no down time.  I've discovered intermission between bouts is sufficient and a necessity.  My financial portfolio is fine.  I got me a small savings and see no reason to deal in stocks and lose it.  I still remember the drop back in 2007 - I'd just got my money out and spent it.  Otherwise I'd lost a very tidy sum.  I was lucky.  A relative of mine lost over $80k and has spent the last few years trying to recoup the losses.  OH, and I don't need to meet a hot "whatever nationality" bride nor blind date a married person to spice up my life.  I do believe that spice would be settling the divorce - not needed.

When you realize all the spam that your ISP eliminates before you get it and then all the spam you delete, step back and think about this:  How much faster would the internet be if spam mail wasn't cluttering the lines?

Until next I ramble on...