Monday, February 29, 2016

Farmer Bob

Even the best-laid plans go astray!!

I have been planning and discussing the idea of chickens and eggs with my wife over the last few years and finally, this year, I decided to do something about it.  I even got my sons involved and they have the wood to make me a shed/chicken coop.  After several "talks" with my lovely bride, we decided that six chickens would be the best number, giving us the eggs we need and extras, too.

We were going to get them on Weds morning with a trip to Angola to Rural King for the chicks and necessary equipment AND a little side trip to a couple of other stores for some things we thought we might want but didn't really need.. We awoke to a snowstorm and decided that two old farts didn't need to be out on the highways in that kind of weather.  So it was delayed to Thursday.

Thursday came and our #3 son called needing some help and could we come to the Detroit area.  We said, weather permitting.  So we headed to Detroit on Thursday with hopes of getting our chicks on Friday.  That idea quickly dissipated when we realized we would be staying overnight and probably not be getting home until late on Friday night.

Our #4 son called to let us know he was coming to visit over the weekend. He had no idea what I had in plan for him! LOL.

Saturday morning, my #4 son in tow along with two of his daughters, my granddaughters, Zora and Keeley, ages 6 and 5, we headed to Rural King in Angola, Indiana.

I was informed I needed to buy EIGHT chicks, one for each of the younger grandchildren and great-grandchildren.  HUH?  I was buying egg layers, I wasn't buying pets!!  My lovely wife instructed me to get one chick for each of the grandchildren - Hailey, Cora, Zora, Keeley, Jaxson and Makayla plus the great-grandchildren, Gracie and Easton.  Guess I was buying pets that also laid eggs!

Okay, not my original plan but something doable.  Hey!  I was getting my chicks!!!

Here they are:

3 of the 8 chickens

5 of the 8 chickens

All 8 huddled together

The last picture does have all eight chicks in the picture. There is one hidden at the very top, getting a drink - you can just see her butt.  Yes, her.  These are all pullets - hens.  No roosters.  These will be our egg producers.

Actually, I call the last picture - Everyone in the pool since they all went scurrying up to the water tank when I stuck the camera in to take a picture.  They are currently "homed" in a 55 gal aquarium that once was a turtle habitat.  I figure that the current residence will be good for at least two weeks, maybe even three.  Hopefully, by then, the coop will be a reality, otherwise, I will need to figure out something else until the coop is built.

BTW, two of them already have names.  I didn't plan on naming them but since Zora and Keeley went along, one is named Emily, another is Hannah.  Don't ask me which one is who, I don't want to get to friendly with my future food.  Yes, food, at some point, but not pets.  No pets!!

They will soon be visited by their cousins - another 25 chicks I will be buying for butchering after raising them for 8 weeks.  If that works, my wife says we may consider another 25 to definitely fill the freezer for the winter.

ALSO, I will be getting two tom turkeys to raise.  Then again, we might up the ante on them to 3 or 4.  I mean, turkey is good.  My nephew raised one several years ago.  Come Thanksgiving, it dressed out over 32 pounds and was soooo delicious.  I'll be happy if they are 25 pounds when it comes time to butcher.  

Well, this is Farmer Bob signing off...

Until next I ramble on...

Monday, February 22, 2016

All The Verdicts

Let's start with last week. I wasn't here and there was no update to the voting on the book cover. My bad and I apologize. I was sick and for all practical purposes, really didn't care if I lived or died and wasn't too sure if I was dead or alive. Here comes the story...

Friday night I and my lovely bride enjoyed the company of some friends at a local fish fry. The fish consisted of piles of all-you-can-eat deep-fried fish accompanied by two types of coleslaw (creamy and vinegar,) three types of potatoes (baked, mashed, 3 cheese hashbrowns,) several types of bread/buns and a huge assortment of desserts - I won't even attempt to describe but I would say, if you couldn't find something you liked, you're just too damned picky. All this food - I call it $10 Heaven. I ate so much fish, I didn't have room for dessert.

Got home and about 7:30pm, Heaven turned into absolute Hell. My stomach turned, there was some gurgling and I had a countdown of less than 10 seconds to make it to the facility - 3-2-1. I think I made another 2 trips before I finally attempted to call it a night. During the night it was another, at least 4, if not 5 trips and Saturday was a constant race. Fortunately we have two bathrooms so one was always available for my use. Saturday night wasn't any better. I'd awake to an urge and make a dash. Do you realize how difficult it is to dash when half-asleep? And in the dark? I thank the Lord for giving me the foresight to install an LED nightlight in the bathroom. So Sunday was a total wash. I didn't even bother getting out of bed - except to run to the facility. I'd given up on attempting to eat and was just trying to exist on beef broth. Water begets water.

By midday on Monday, I thought I was on the heal. There was no longer a dual water spigot - the original pipework theory seemed to be the plan of the day.  Tuesday morning proved that wrong with a small diarrhea run but it was short-lived. Whew!

Wednesday found me feeling pretty good which meant that our trip to French Lick, Indiana was on track. Both my wife and I had received a complimentary room, so we each booked a room and took her sister and her brother and his wife with us. We had a room, they had a room. Uh, our room had TWO fireplaces!! The place was very, VERY nice and we thoroughly enjoyed our stay, only wishing it was a tad warmer and the gardens more in bloom. But, it was still a fun time.

This is mezzanine (2nd floor) looking down into part of the lobby. Our room is 4 doors down hall behind us.

This is our room w/ a nice flat screen and fireplace. Huge room!
I decided to catch a couple of Zs and she decided to take pictures. Coordinated effort!!

I told you there was 2 fireplaces - the other one was in the bathroom!
Mural in ceiling above lobby and mezzanine level - so much gold leaf!

More of the murals above the mezzanine. That chandelier is about 5 or 6 feet across, maybe more. I would say it was about 25  or more feet between the two marble columns.
We each found a piece of furniture we wanted to take home.

My wife fell in love with this table and floral arrangement. Even with four sons, I don't think this table would get moved too often once it was put in the house.

As you can see, it was a very enjoyable trip and experience and we hope to get back there again, even maybe later this summer. They do have an RV park and we may take our RV next time.

Verdict with the doctor and my health. Discussed my diabetes with an endocrinologist and he has put me back on 500mg metformin twice a day which should be gentler to my kidneys. We'll see. Has it helped my sugar? Yes!! A resounding YES! Of course, he wants me to lose weight and go on a 1500 calorie diet which is probably more than I eat now with my current diet. I see a dietitian in March and we'll see what she has to offer. I also go back to the doctor about mid-March so I won't have a lot of time to institute the 1500 calorie diet.  The scales indicate that I have lost 7 pounds since I went to the doctor - and that I would call a good thing.  Of course, the medical scales can be different than mine - although I did weigh myself when I got home from the doctor to see how far off my scales were. The results were 1 pound difference... my was more.

Now, the question, by now, on everyone's tongue is: The book cover! Which cover made the cut?

There was a lot of discussion as to which one was better and each argument had its own value. The basic concern was readability. Another was the skull and teeth.  Some thought the doors disappeared or got lost on the cover. Finally, after an immense time getting all the votes from here, my different media sites like Twitter and Facebook and some of my favorite watering holes on the internet, the final verdict was...

I offer you the winner designed by Sheri McGathy of Sheri McGathy Book Cover Design

This is the winner!!
With a little luck, hopefully it will be ready for a release date in early March. My beta readers are giving me some vital and critical feedback and I'm getting the editing done. Hopefully this will be a very clean book on Amazon and I won't be seeing their ugly "flag" denoting errors within.

By the way, is anyone else getting excited?  Spring is on the way!!  In about two weeks I will be starting some of my seeds.  I may even be getting the first of my chickens to raise. We want about a half dozen hens for eggs and those we want to get early. Then I will get the other twenty-five we want to raise for butchering and Sunday dinners.  Spring is on the way!  Summer is coming!!

Until next I ramble on...

Monday, February 8, 2016

Cover Verdict - And Other Stuff

I'm sure it has been bothering you in the worst possible way ... sitting on pins and needles, even ignoring any primaries, waiting to hear the verdict on my latest book cover.  The votes are in and have been tallied.

It was close.  It seemed either you liked the ghostly skull specter (option 1) and hated the teeth (option 2/3) OR you liked the skull (option 2/3) and wanted a cleaner font (option 1) for clarity.

The final version - I think, sort of, could be, maybe. LOL.

No, we have two NEW covers.  This time it will be much easier.  Vote for Option 1 or Option 2.

The above is OPTION 1
The above is OPTION 2

Yes, I realize these weren't in the running.  In fact, they weren't even created.  Reading all the comments, some online here, others from different social media threads, the general consensus was a font issue.  Okay, some had big issues with the teeth but I really feel it was addressed with the new layout and font. Also, there was concern about being able to read the title when a thumbnail.

In stepped another book cover artist.  Wow!  After some open dialog, I was able to get both artists working together. There was a final and then there wasn't.  They worked on other possibilities.  I anxiously awaited their creative efforts to see which one actually wins.  I checked to see if the two offerings would thumbnail and be readable. They passed muster. So the above is my dilemma...


Now, the big question.  When I release the book, will the winning cover be enticing enough to make a reader want to check it out?  To read the back (yet to be done) and maybe even open the book to read a page or two?  Finally, will the buyer BUY THE BOOK?  Only time will tell.

Somebody asked what the book was about.  It is about Death and its myriad "doors" to the final end. It isn't really a horror book.  But, then again, you don't want posies and butterflies on the cover.  Let's just say it is about the different avenues Death can open.

Now, for something totally different.

My health?  I've been relegated to just Januvia.  The doctor took me off Metformin which I was getting via the Janumet.  I go to an endocrinologist on the 12th and we'll discuss other options since the Januvia isn't keeping my sugar under control.  I can keep it down as long as I don't eat a lot but, really, a person does have to eat something more than just salads all day.  I mean, I enjoy celery and air-popped popcorn is okay, but every once in a while you want more.  I even drink an immense amount of water - no pop except on the rarest of occasions... and then it is diet, which I know isn't good for me, either.  With a little luck, maybe I can get back on Janumet.  I was reviewing everything.  I was on 50/500 Janumet - have been taking it for years, twice a day.  The doctor decided to put me on Januvia, 100mg, once a day.  Sugar went out of balance.  My heart specialist put me on Janument, 100/1000, once a day.  My kidney numbers skyrocketed and I'm off Janument, back on plain Januvia 100.

Uh, did you notice?  I was on 50/500 for years - no kidney issues.  I'm placed on 100/1000 and all Hell breaks loose.  

I'm going to see if I can go back to the 50/500 twice a day.  It might be gentler to my kidneys.  One can only hope.

Also, since Mr. Groundhog didn't see his shadow, that means Spring is just around the corner.  I'd like to believe that - even the weather since has been warm-ish.  You know that means - Gardening!!

I've got my seeds all purchased except for the corn, beans, and beets.  Still deciding if I want to grow corn.  In a few short weeks I will be starting many of my tomato seeds, along with some of the more slow-growing flowers, like Impatiens, Geraniums and Petunias. Sort of getting excited.

Anyone else got Garden Fever?

Until next I ramble on...

Monday, February 1, 2016

Book Covers - Your Chance to Vote or Have A Say

I'm not sure exactly what is the worst part of being a writer.
  1. Writing the story
  2. Editing the story
  3. Getting a book cover
  4. Publishing the book
  5. Marketing the book
Actually, I think the easiest part is writing the book.  From that point on, it is all downhill and complete and utter stress for any author.  Sure, if you get a contract with a major - or minor - book publisher, the cover is usually handled by the publisher, as is publishing the book.  Marketing is still a lot on the author but there is some marketing by the publisher.

But, what about us Indie authors?  We have to do it all.  I'm basically an Indie author.

So, I'm putting together a collection of short stories I've written over the years, some of which have been published in various venues: magazines and anthology collections.

After some major re-adjusting of the titles and heavy thought, I finally found a shred of a theme thread to which I could move forward with my book cover. A cover should indicate in some manner what is inside. I attempted a cover of my own but was told to get a professional cover if I wanted to present a professional image.

I contacted my last cover designer, a gentleman in Germany, whose name is Karl Müller.  He has offered me two possibilities - for starters. (Edit update) He sent me a third possibility.

Option 1: Doors w/ shadowed skull

Option 2: Skull w/ doors shadowed within skull
Option 3: Skulls w/ doors and a single D for the words

Now, my dilemma.  Which do I choose ... or do I ask for another possibility?

Actually, I was thinking Option 2 but have the font changed to that used on Option 1, and keep it as "A Short Story Collection."  I don't know if it just me, but it seems the letters are clearer on the first option.  Maybe it won't be the same on option 2. (Edit update) With the new addition, I think I like #3 the best now.

By the way, if you haven't figured it out by now, the theme I found in my short stories was "death" but in many faceted ways.  Some were outright deaths, others involved vampires or paranormal type characters, while other stories were a mental twist.  Sorry I can't be more precise than that, but if I did, I'd be ruining a few of the stories.  Let's just say it is a "form" of death.

I'm terrible in making decisions. Help me.  Vote for the one you think is a better choice.  Your possibilities are:
  1. Option 1 - as is.
  2. Option 2 - as is.
  3. Option 3 - as is.
  4. Option 1 - different font
  5. Option 2 - different font
  6. Option 3 - different font done as a single D
  7. Something totally different - and please give a suggestion.
As to why I'm asking for suggestions.  Karl is just starting to make book covers and he tries to give the author what they want via their suggestions.  I told Karl it was an anthology about death and how there are many doors to different kinds of deaths.  So, if you think a different cover would be better, please give me an idea of what to tell him.  Thanks.

I look forward to your input...

Until next I ramble on...