Monday, December 28, 2015

Year End Round-Up

What did 2015 do for you?  It is the end of another year and, as always, we tend to get a little whispy-eyed with memories of the last 12 months.

This year had it ups and downs.  There were good things and there were bad things.  Of course, we all remember those incidences which just happened... like my mother-in-law passing just prior to Christmas.  That was definitely a down thing but you can spin it as an up thing: She was 103 and had lived a very full life.  Her health had been failing, along with her memory - and that hurt, especially my wife who visited her several times a week.  It's hard when your mother doesn't remember who you are - but, she knows you, just not your name.

Of course, there was my doctor visit in November which wasn't all that great.  My blood sugar was averaging 246 for the last six months and he basically told me, fix it or die.  Again, to spin a good thing to it, I have since lost 18 pounds and my sugar has been hovering around the 100-120 mark.  That is a very good thing.  I'll be going back in January for another blood draw to see what the new results will be.  I'm hoping to lose another few pounds in the meantime.

While on the subject of weight, I'll go clear back to the beginning of the year when I was making resolutions.  What were they?  Lose 25 pounds. Publish 3 books.  So let's see what I did.

Back in June I got so sick I could barely swallow.  I lost weight - a lot of weight.  I lost a total of over 30 pounds.  Then I got well.  I found them.  I didn't have to go that far to search, either.  They were ever so quick to return - and return they did.  Okay, I didn't get them ALL back.  I was able to let some free to roam and find another home.  About 10 pounds were left on the range.  So with the doctor's colorful health report, I've lost almost another 20 pounds, so, in total, I've lost almost 30 pounds this year.  THAT I call a success.  I reached my goal of 25 pounds.  Oh, for you readers, if you find these stray pounds, their yours to keep - call it my gift, if you will.  I don't want them back so they're free for the keeping.  I'm sure they'll be good to keep you warm - not healthy, but good.

Now, to the publishing.  In April I published "The Secret Voice" which has been a great seller.  I have had to order it twice from Amazon to keep it in stock.  I even sold a copy to the young lady who helped me at WalMart when I created my new poster of the cover.  My one classmate also works there and she's been telling everyone about and well, do you have any idea what it is like to have a clerk ask if she can buy a copy?  If you go to Amazon, it doesn't look like it is selling because all the copies I sell don't reflect... and I've sold a LOT of copies.

Anyway, I published that book and was able to finally get my 2nd book published yesterday and should be available now.  "CRACKED! The Writing Mystique" is a short how-to about handling the different aspects (mystiques) of writing including character detail, active/passive voice, writing sex and so much more.  As always, I made sure to include examples so it could be easily understood.

Did I publish three books?  No.  I really feel ashamed.  I could have done so easily but I didn't and there absolutely no excuse.  Of course, I've been working on the sequel to "The Secret Voice" and, as many writers will understand, my mind has been attacked by several other plots and stories that are screaming for attention. I was just busy with other things - like family and life, I guess.

Of course, this year, my wife and I tried to do a little more camping.  Of course, with her mother's health, we didn't want to travel too far away.  Most of the time we went to the local state park just a few miles up the road and would camp there for the week, skipping out Friday morning before it got too crowded.  We did do a trip up into Michigan with our middle granddaughters (ages 13 and 9) where we got in some great fishing.  That was about 5 hours from home... not too far, but away.

My garden.  It was a good garden.  I even was able to grow some sweet corn and it was delicious. My wife canned some tomatoes, making stewed, diced, juice and even several jars of salsa which I have pretty well decimated already.  She agrees - more salsa next year.  Yes, I have already received what I call the best fiction mags of the year - the garden seed catalogs.  And, yes, I already have delusions, uh, I mean, dreams of things I want to attempt to grow this coming year.  Since I was so busy doing mulch to certain areas, I am going to have to be a little more selective in what I want to grow in containers.  I have plans for a couple of tubs.  Of course, my two hanging deck boxes I have to allocate some nice draping plants.  And the step planters, those big 24-inch pots will need some color, too.  In just a few short months I'll be starting my garden seeds likes tomatoes, peppers and just not sure what else as of now.

Also, this coming year, I want to attempt raising some chickens - about 50 for slaughter and another 5 or 6 for eggs during the summer and fall.  Of course, if winter next year is anything like it has been so far this year, those chickens might make it through the winter.  Oh, and I'd like to also raise about 2, maybe 3 turkeys.  Living in the countryside does have its perks but then again, it also has the critters that like chickens and turkeys, especially the young ones... oh, and eggs, too!

So, as you can see, I'm already getting around to my New Years Resolutions for 2016.  I'll keep it simple.  Lose another 25 pounds.  Publish at least 2 books.  Raise some chickens and turkeys.  Grow a garden.  Travel, camp and fish more.  Oh, and spend more time with my wife, kids, grandkids, great grandkids, family and friends.

Until next I ramble on...

Monday, December 14, 2015

I'm Back.

I know I've been remiss in doing my weekly blog but I had to take care of a few things and to be quite honest, I just didn't feel I could be fair to my readership.  Here's a little of what has happened in the interim...

1) NaNoWriMo.  Yes, I attempted and succeeded once again with this program.  This year I couldn't decide if I wanted to slap-write my 2nd Amish novel or do the writing book that was buzzing around in my head.  A friend suggested both.  That's what I did.  I accomplished over 52k words by the end of the month, completing my writing book and actually accomplishing quite a bit on my Amish novel.  So, hang in there, I've got some books coming out soon.  More later...

2) Health.  Remember my New Year's resolutions to lose some weight - okay, at least 25 pounds?  I actually accomplished that back in June, losing almost 30.  I got so sick, I couldn't eat and basically was on a liquid diet.  Yeah, I lost weight.  But to be honest, it just lingered around the corner and when I wasn't looking, most of it jumped back on board.  Not good.  I went to my doctor back in November and well, he tried to sugar-coat the results of my latest blood test.  "Get your diabetes under control or die."  WOW!  He said he couldn't sugar coat it because I'm a diabetic, which is true for the last 15 years.  Seems my A1C went from a not-so-great 7.3 to a Holy Crap! 10.4.  For those not in the know, an A1C in the range of 4.5 to 5.9 is consider good.  My diabetes was totally out of control with high blood results averaging 243 for the past 6 months.  I have since taken active steps to correct the situation.  He had changed my meds - I had him put me back on the old meds which were working.  Since then, my sugar has dropped drastically into more acceptable numbers.  I'm watching my food intake and exercising more.  My doctor said if I can get my sugar under 130 on a regular basis, he will be happy (and surprised!)  Last night, before supper, my sugar was 126.  I'm eating my healthier right now and from what I could tell - I went to the Medical Center with my wife and stopped at my doctor to get weighed in - my weight is down 6 pounds in one week.  I will allow a little variance since it wasn't the same scale, but still, those scales are checked often throughout the year - so there shouldn't be too much change.  But, we'll keep tabs on it.

3) I mentioned publishing a book back in item #1.  That's right, hopefully, sometime this coming week, I will release "CRACKED! The Writing Mystique" which is a book to help a new writer understand some of the secrets of good writing and aide those seasoned writers with their writing.  I figure the e-book will be released at $.99 - at least for a few days.  There will be the paperback but I'm unsure exactly how much it will be since I need to have CreateSpace calculate all the expenses. My New Year's resolution goal was to publish 3 books - I got two books out with this one.  Hmm?  Last year I wanted to publish 4 books and only got out 3, so this year I decided on 3 and only got out 2 books.  Maybe next year I should consider 11 books and publish 10.  Whoo-hoo!!

4) On the home front, I was able to get a lot of landscaping done before the winter chills came in. We had this home built in 2006 and now, finally, after almost 10 years, I have a sidewalk to be somewhat proud of.  Prior, it was some mud, grass, a couple of rubber mats and a short length of carpet remnant.  Now it is an attractive angled walk of bricks with an edging of mulch.  In fact, there is matching mulch in front of the low brick wall and a large expanse of ground (heavy clay) that wouldn't even grow weeds. Oh, and the angled ground which had irises and day lilies, it is now a lovely stretch of mulch.  I will be guarding it against weeds with a self-made concoction of weed-killer including dish soap and vinegar plus some other stuff.  It's not as harsh as RoundUp and therefore will take quite a few hits to finally exhaust the plant's growth and kill it.  Still, if it gets on my good plants, it won't kill them and I can spray with water to rinse it off.  Not so with RoundUp.

5) Hoarding. We've all seen those shows were people hoard and hoard. My wife and I have started to hoard, too.  Slightly different.  The local grocery had 8 weeks of specials where you could get certain items at a very low price in limited quantities.  We also had a couple of friends who got those mailers and didn't want the items.  Guess who got them?  Then they decided to also have a 10 for $10 sale and other amounts.  Imagine - 10 1 pound packages of Butterball turkey bacon for $10.  Around here, that stuff usually sells for the cheap side at $3.99/pkg.  Need I say we bulked up?  They had 80/20 hamburger for $1.99/lb.  Yup!  We bought in 3+ lb packages and re-packaged into 1 lb bags and put it in the freezer.  They had all sorts of stuff on sale and we bought and bought to stock up.  Our big freezer is packed and the smaller one is also full.  We did a lot of canning and freezing of our garden goodies, too.  I kid you not, we can eat very well for the next 2 or 3 months and not leave the house except for milk which we don't drink that much of, anyway.  Oh, I forgot to mention, my grandson hunts and has gotten 2 deer so far this year.  He can only get one more.  The 2nd deer is still being processed and I have NO idea where we will put it.  What's nice, I can take a little venison and some of that 80/20 hamburger and get a very lean mixture which is even better for me.

6) Weather-wise - I'm not going to complain one bit.  I'm basically still running around outside in shorts and t-shirts in NW Ohio.  Okay, when I go into town, I put on bluejeans and sometimes a light jacket.  There has been only a couple of days that I've actually had to put on my leather jacket because it was so cold.  My wife, on the other hand, thinks it is chilly - but then again, I'm the guy who runs around in shorts all winter in the house, putting on a shirt when company comes. LOL.  I can handle extremes of heat and cold.  I'll be honest, I prefer 70 for a temperature year round but we keep our house a little warmer if we use air-conditioning - meaning it is too hot outside with no breeze and the windows can't be open.  In the winter, we keep it a little cooler, about 68.  Just had a thought!  Maybe that's why we don't get a lot of company. LOL.  Just kidding, this house should have a revolving door for the way people come and go here with 4 sons and 10 grandchildren, 4 of which are on their own, some with families.  It's a mob when the family gathers here.

Hopefully things will get better in my life.  I intend to get my blog out in a timely manner each week and, once again, I apologize for my absence.

Until next I ramble on...