Monday, March 20, 2017

A Comma's Story

This week I'm sharing a blog I read. I hope you enjoy it. As an editor, I see so much drama with commas, lack of or overuse of. Enjoy...

bewilderd commaThe comma stood on the corner, bleating, “Please, can someone help me? I know I belong somewhere, but I can’t quite remember where.”
Devon Taylor, copy editor, sat at the counter of the diner counter across the street and watched as passers-by skittered around the pitiful punctuation mark. They looked away determined to not notice it.
Devon (destined to become The Nib) couldn’t really blame them. Commas were notoriously slippery creatures. But there was something about this comma that made Devon think it was truly in trouble.
The editor set down the empty coffee cup and wandered across the street.
Until next I ramble on...


Sunday, March 5, 2017

What I've Learned OR The Rainy Day is Here!

I've made 70 circles around the sun. If you want a more impressive number, the moon has made over 900 cycles around the earth in my lifetime, so far.  BUT... In that time, surprisingly, I was able to learn a few things. Some of them were easy, others took a little more ... shall we call it wedging with a sledgehammer?

I'm retired.  I spent many decades working, always giving my all to my job, fretting when I couldn't make it in due to illness and feeling guilty when I was on vacation when a big project had to be finished. A friend of mine told me "This company doesn't give two farts to the wind about you. Don't stress yourself, they don't."  But I did.  I actually thought the company couldn't continue without me.

I was wrong.  I retired. I left and went back about one month later to see how things were going. Some people didn't even realize I had retired and been gone for any length of time. Everything still stood, life continued and didn't care if I was there or not. Yeah, I was a little depressed. I felt sure there would be a myriad of questions of how this or that was done. The questions didn't come.

In fact, it wasn't until about 6 or 8 months after my retirement that I got a frantic call about something failing. Seems they cleaned house over the weekend, getting rid of a lot of old equipment. They removed the sign "Do Not Turn Off" and removed the server over the weekend. On Tuesday, when the one employee attempted to print a seating chart - it failed. I got a call the following Monday as to what could be the problem since I wrote the program. Found out they removed the server which removed the program, the source code and the compiler. There was nothing I could do to help them. I'd printed out the source code with an explanation of what each line of code did for every special program I created, but it was deemed a waste of paper and tossed. They "hoped" I had a copy at home. Uh, no.

It was obvious, my last place of employment, and several of the others prior, had no regard for me or my work. Unless it impacted them and/or the bottom line ($$) they didn't care. Why should I?

So, again, I reiterate - Unless you own the business, don't fret about it or kill yourself, nobody cares. In other words, go to work, do your work with pride and go home and enjoy your real life.

What else did I learn? Learn to pick your fights. Sometimes you don't actually get that opportunity. Yes, the opportunity to pick your fight. It seems no matter what you do, the fight is coming to you and you're going to be in the mess. When that happens, take the appropriate action. BUT, if you can avoid a fight, do so. Is it really worth the effort of fighting about whether this or that is true or false? Step back and evaluate the battleground. Give it a lot of thought. With you winning or losing, will it make a difference? Next week, next month, next year - will the outcome have some bearing on it? So, it don't make a difference, why engage? If you win, it won't matter. If you lose, it won't matter. So why even get involved? Walk away.

Another tidbit - Money. What did I learn about mone?. One never seems to have enough. When I made $1.25 an hour, I wanted to make more. When I made almost $50 an hour, it seemed I still needed more. I didn't realize until I retired the true reason for that... even though it had been flaunted in my face at one time. Each person will consume to the level of income. That is almost a universal law. When I was cut back during a company-wide crisis back in the 80s - another employee friend of mine moaned that he wasn't sure how he would survive the 15% cutback. Sorry, but I couldn't empathize with him - I'd been cut back 22.5% and when I explained my situation, he explained he had a much higher cost of living. Our friendship sort of withered during the cutback and never re-bloomed when things got better.  It didn't matter how much one made, we all lived to the full capacity of our income and a cutback, whether 15% or 22.5% - it hit the paycheck. So, what did I learn about money? Try to stay within the means of your income. Actually stay within 75% of your income and avoid using credit. Yes, it is only a few dollars each month, but the number of months is astronomical in the long run. I am currently working to eliminate all debts and expenses except those needed for day-to-day living that one can not eliminate: trash removal, phone service, electric, water and other such amenities.

Another fact of growing up. A friend of mine retired shortly after me and from what I can tell, he quit shaving, showered when others made faces or flat out told him, and basically vegetates in his house. He said to me: I cleaned and shaved every day, put on a fresh shirt, tied that tie and wore a suit with shiny shoes for a professional look. He decided to go feral. Okay, I retired and gave up the fancy suit and tie look. Yes, I'd worn "monkey clothes" for most of my working life with a few days of simple dressing. After retirement, I started to wear shorts and t-shirts, going barefoot when I could. I would put on long pants and a nice polo shirt when going to town. By the way, this is my year-round apparel wearing routine. Yes, I walk outside to get the mail wearing shorts, even when the snow is blowing, I just add a hooded sweatshirt or jacket. And I wear moccasins almost daily.  Sunday, when I go to church, I tend to dress up - a nice shirt, slacks, socks and shoes, but the minute I get home, they get changed to shorts and t-shirt.  Retirement is about enjoying life - your way - but it always means that you still need to function within society, so one does need to bathe and consider hygiene.  Still, it is your life, enjoy it as you see fit... you worked for this moment, enjoy it.

Remember the phrase - We're saving it for that special time? Exactly when will that special time happen? We had "good" china, special candles and fancy clothes for a special occasion. Of course, it could anything you have that you've been saving. Why? When will it be that special moment? Use it. My wife and I have lugged special china I bought while in the Navy all over the USA with us as we've moved over the years. Always keeping it for that special meal. I think we've used it maybe 3 or 4 times - hardly worth the effort of keeping it all these years - over 40+ years! We are now considering down-sizing and it will be up for sale. Why? At this point in time, every day is a special day and we don't use them - we use paper plates for convenience. Time to clean house. We had some crystal china my wife had collected and we finally decided to use them as everyday plates. Rather fancy for a meal but we used them and finally sold them. My mother received a blouse that was expensive and she saved it for a special day. She's gone and the blouse was sold in the estate sale, never worn. If you have it, use it. You woke up today so it is a special day, make it even more special and enjoy the stuff you're saving - otherwise it will be sold at a sale. It may mean something to you, but to those who "inherit" all your fine things, it probably won't mean a thing - 25¢ blouse or 10¢ plate. Enjoy what life has given you, don't stash it away for a rainy day.

Oh, wait - that might be the magic phrase I'm trying to allude to - Forget the rainy day, enjoy it now!

When it comes time to regret, you'll always regret the things you didn't do. Seldom does one regret doing what they did. They may think it a better choice not to have participated, but will they regret it? Not really!

I enjoy my family, my community, my hobbies: traveling, writing, fishing, gardening and being with my wife.

It is better to have ______ and lost than not to have ______ at all. (fill in the blank to fit your need)

I see rain but I also see a bright sunny day in my very near future. I'm purging myself of all that is holding me back, cleaning house, and moving forward. In the words of Johnny Nash...

I can see clearly now, the rain is gone, I can see all obstacles in my way
Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind It's gonna be a bright (bright), bright (bright)
Sun-Shiny day.
I think I can make it now, the pain is gone All of the bad feelings have disappeared
Here is the rainbow I've been prayin' for It's gonna be a bright (bright), bright (bright)
Sun-Shiny day.
Look all around, there's nothin' but blue skies Look straight ahead, nothin' but blue skies
I can see clearly now, the rain is gone, I can see all obstacles in my way
Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind It's gonna be a bright (bright), bright (bright)
Sun-Shiny day.

Yeah, the perfect song. Enjoy it... and remember, you are your first priority and that includes your family. The rest will fall into proper place.

Until next I ramble on...


Sunday, February 26, 2017

Multi-Tasking

I started teaching this week.  What am I teaching?  Writing, of course.  I'm doing a 7 week course I created called "Sailing The Seven Cs" which is based on my segment of a how-to writing book.

I arrived at the college early so I could discuss another project with the department head and make sure I had enough time for lunch before my 1pm class.

Okay, I arrived early and she was in another class.  As I sat in the lounge, I was able to watch other students.  That's when I say the latest (at least for me) in multi-tasking.

The young man had a small electronic notepad, Kindle or iPad and was watching the news on it. At the same time, he had another smaller electronic device he was playing a game on. He also had a set of earbuds and I thought he was listening to the game.  I was wrong.  I heard a cellphone ring and he pulled it out of his pocket which had the cord to the earbuds. He yanked the earbuds out of his ears and I heard music - either rap or something with a heavy beat.  In my ignorance, I listen to rock and roll - basically 50s, 60s, 70s, and some 80s stuff, new age, classical, show tunes and country. I'm eclectic but just haven't gotten into rap or heavy metal and/or grunge.  Anyway, he started talking to somebody, grabbed the news playing unit and the screen changed to what appeared to be another news channel.  Just as quickly, he picked up an earbud, stuck it in his ear and immediately placed the other one on the speaker of his cellphone. "Listen to this!"  Again, it was music but I couldn't really make it out.

From what I could tell, the conversation between him and his friend revolved around the music he was listening to and the news.  AND, all during this time, he also continued to play the game while at the same time, involving another student who was sitting a nearby table into the news aspect.

Sorry, but this old guy's mind was blown.  How does one multi-task so many different things at once?

I was visiting my #4 son's house a while back and his 6 and 7 year old daughters were watching some show on TV.  I, for some reason, thought it to be an animated movie, like Veggie Tales or whatnot.

Again, WRONG!

It was Shopkins.  The segments are about 60 seconds, some shorter, some longer, and then it is over and a new segment comes on.

We say our children don't stay focused on one thing for any length of time. As an adult (parent) have you watched what they watch?  Just because it is a "children's" station or show, doesn't mean that it is automatically the best thing to watch.

Years ago, I was home sick and was helping my wife watch the first our grandchildren. They wanted to watch their TV shows.  My wife put them on.  I was amazed at the shortness of the scenes and the variance of each scene. I just sat there shaking my head in disbelief.

On the way to work the next day, the passenger riding next to me got up to leave and asked if I'd like to read the magazine, otherwise she would toss it.  I agreed to read it.  Inside was an article that explained how children's TV shows today are designed to keep their interest and to keep them from wandering away from the TV.

HUH?

Short scenes, voice changes, lighting variances - everything plays to the child to keep his mind occupied.  In order to do that, everything is a short burst. The child won't leave the TV for fear of missing something.

Think about that!!

You go to the theater and during the movie, you want popcorn or a drink - you get up, hurry to get whatever and race back to your seat. You might miss something but more than likely, not too much and can quickly pick up the flow.

Not so with a children's TV show. By the time they've toddled to the other side of the room, they could have missed a whole episode - hence they stay put.

Is this part of the multi-tasking that I saw at college last week?  Are the young children growing up in a world where everything must happen in 30 seconds, no more than 60 seconds or lose their interest?

When I was a child, I'd sit under a big tree and listen to the wind blow through the leaves or watch the wind play atop the fields of golden wheat - mesmerized for great lengths of time.  Today when I attempt to show this to my grandchildren, it is a quick glance followed by "That's nice" and they move on.  I could read a phrase in a book and get lost in the reverie as I pondered its meaning and how it made me feel. It could be a couple of minutes, even five or ten minutes, maybe longer.

I consider myself multi-tasking when I write, listen to music, stare out the window from time to time and sometimes chew gum.  But, watching the news, playing a game, listening to music and talking to a friend on the phone and the guy at the next table?  That is taking multi-tasking to a whole new height.

Until next I ramble on...

Monday, January 30, 2017

Age - The Illusive Butterfly

Age.  Exactly what it age?  I mean, for most it is an accumulation of years... or the number of times one has traveled around the sun. For others, it is a mindset.

In reality, it is gravity.

Within my mind, I'm not that old.  I can't be THAT old! It was only yesterday, or was it last week? I was out playing ball with my sons, hitting a few to prepare them for the summer season.  The oldest just took his driver's test - yeah, that was the first of the week, yeah, I"m sure.

No, that can't be. My mind just had a relapse.  Uh, my oldest son is a grandfather. Wait a minute. So is my #2 son.

OMG!  I'm a great-grandfather.  I'm too young for that.  In fact, I was too young to be a grandfather and that was just... OMG!  That was over twenty years ago!

I'd ask where time has gone but we all know - Time marches on.

Today I'm helping my wife. We're shampooing the rug and it is nothing like doing your hair. The machine isn't too heavy. Well, at least, when the young whelp at the store lifted it off the shelf it didn't seem too heavy.  Somewhere between that moment and me actually picking it up to put in the back of the car - it had gained another 200 pounds. With a little effort - okay, a major effort, I was able to lift it into the back of the car.  BTW, without the assistance of my lovely bride, I might add. (Insert your favorite themed music background - Tarzan, Superman, He-Man, etc.)

Sidenote: The only redeeming grace of this incident is it didn't happen at a WalMart parking lot. I rented the machine from a local grocery store.  Otherwise, I probably would have seen my image on Facebook as part of the "WalMart People" slide presentation.

Continuing on.

I shampooed the living room carpet. I've never really thought of my living room as huge. Okay. It is large, about 15x21, but it isn't what I would call an awe-inspiring chamber.  After getting all the furniture out of the room, need I say, there was a rest period?  I started shampooing.

It is time for honesty.  My living room is HUGE!  Going back and forth, back and forth.  I think I walked about 38, maybe 39 miles pulling and pushing that machine.  Remember, it wasn't all that heavy.  After the first 3 trips back and forth - pull trigger for cleaner, pull the machine s-l-o-w-l-y across the room and then push it s-l-o-w-l-y back to the starting point. Release trigger. Repeat the process without holding the trigger so the machine can suck up the moisture.

Do you remember me stating the machine wasn't 'all that heavy' at the start?  Uh, that was without the chambers filled with liquid.  In case you didn't know, water weighs a measly 8 pounds per gallon.  I believe the chamber holds about 3000 gallons... or, at least, that much by the time I was nearing the end of the process.

It seemed the dirt coming up out of the carpet added extra weight... and the two large African elephants riding on the machine didn't lighten the load.  No, wait, I was hallucinating.

Okay, the carpet looks great.  A job well done.

Now, back to age.  As I told my wife, this would have been so much easier back when I was 30. I laughed. Strange to think that.  Actually, it would have been easier when I was 50.

Never once in my life did I ever think I would look back at an age and think how great it would be. Okay, honesty here.  Yes, I did think back, but never ONCE did I ever think I'd be glad to be 50. I guess that is what your mindset is when you're 70 years of age.

Ahh... to be 60 again.  Sure it would be nice to be 30 but I don't think I would want all the turmoil of being 30 in today's society.  The age of 50 wouldn't be too bad, but 60, that seems, at least to me, to be a nice figure.  Not too old.  Not too young.  Call it middle age. Yeah, I like that.

My wife, the realist in the family let me know the truth. "You're 70, honey. Get over it."

And, so I am.  Gravity is taking its toll.  Some days gravity doesn't suck as strongly as other days. I enjoy those days because I feel like I'm 60 and that feels great.

Like a butterfly in the yard - age flits around, letting you run up and down the scale of ages, being whatever your mind thinks and your body willing to accommodate.

On December 31st of 2016, I completed 70 round trips of our sun. I'm proud of that accomplishment. My mind and body haven't totally accepted those facts... and I don't want them to!!

Today I want to live in that illusive butterfly moment and be the age I want to be.

Until next I ramble on...


Monday, January 16, 2017

Last Chance - In More Ways Than One

For those who don't know it ... I'm running an edit special.  I'm taking "appointments" for editing of short stories and novels.  Assigning them 'down the road' so to speak.  If you know you will need an editor, say mid-Feb, I'm willing to lock you into a time so when the time comes, you'll have my services available... and at a reasonable price.  Yes, rather than my standard $1.50/page (which by the way will be changing later on) — I'm only charging $1.00 per page.  You save 30% on my editing services.


Okay, that was last chance #1 — this offer will be expiring soon. Remember two things, prices are going up and this offer won't last forever, although you can lock it in now.

Now, about last chance #2.  Sort of off-the-wall.  I bought me a new knit hat.  Yeah, big whoop, but this one has LED lights.  Again, big whoop.  Let me explain.  I got an LED thinsulate knit hat for the "men's" Christmas exchange this year for our family get together.  My granddaughter's boyfriend got it in the 'drawing of the numbers" as we call it.  He was thrilled and personally, I found a lot of uses for it around my house. I wanted one.  I found this one on Amazon, costing a lot less and not quite as delicate to remove to wash the hat.  This one has dual lights.  I mean, it has 4 white lights just like the one I gave, but this one also has 2 red and 2 blue lights which flash red, then blue, then red and blue together and finally repeat the pattern over.  I think they said it was supposedly for emergency aid.  Not sure about that.  I found the white lights work great when I'm away during the day and have to go collect chicken eggs in the dark.  The coop doesn't have electric, per se.  It has an electric cord run to it that keeps the watering dish heated, but otherwise, it gets dark, it IS dark — no lights.  The chickens didn't mind the white LED light when I collected the eggs.  I reached up to turn it off and the next option (red/blue) kicked in.  I thought my chickens were going to start dancing.  Suddenly I felt like I was in a disco.  The chickens got quite vocal about the red/blue flashing lights.  Now, my son came up with a better use for the red/blue lights.  He says when I'm driving the roads at night, with limited traffic, as I come up to a slow poke, hit the red/blue and they will probably move to the side thinking a state trooper is behind them.  Hmm?  Just not too sure I want to give that option a try — my luck, I'd do it to a law officer off duty.  I don't need slammer time, especially at my age.

My next last chance —  I can't believe I'm actually saying this.  Food.  I weighed myself and was not happy with the way the scale numbers spun on the dial.  I've gained weight. SO, last chance was today.  I am now on a rigorous diet and exercise program.  Okay, not really... well, sort of.  I am watching my intake of carbs and portion sizes.  Last Friday was my last all-you-can-eat fish fry... or, at least, limiting them to maybe once a month. I might be able to skip them if I do baked fish on Fridays.  Again, it won't be all-you-can-eat, but it should sooth the crave.  I love fish.  Of course, I can basically eat all the shrimp, crab, lobster and scallops I want.  Scallops are hard to get here in this locale. Lobster is too expensive to gorge on.  So, crab and shrimp it is... and I love shrimp grilled or baked and who can pass on steamed crabs?  Not me!  Again, they are proteins so they don't have a lot of effect on my blood sugar, but I'm sure glutting on them will have an effect on my weight, so once again, it will be portion control.  I'm going back to my breakfast of kale smoothies.  I love them. My wife?  She'll pass on the green mixture.  I'm giving you my secret recipe...

1 cup almond milk
1/4 cup frozen pineapple chunks
1/4 cup frozen mango chunks
1/2 cup chopped kale (I usually just put in a leaf of kale, including the stem)
2 T chia seeds
1 T honey
1 t cinnamon
1 t turmeric
juice of 1/2 a fresh lemon
some chopped ice - maybe 1/4 cup?

Blend it all together until a nice pure green silky drink.  I say YUM. If you try it, let me know what you think of my special breakfast go-get'em.

Of course, my cooking habits will have to change, too. No more all these gourmet meals of decadent yummies laden with butter.  I will need to streamline my cooking habits to a healthier ideal.  I know it can be done.  Goodbye double-stuffed twice baked potatoes. Goodbye cheesy-garlicky biscuits.  Goodbye thick soups. Hello brothy soups.  Hello zesty, spicy foods baked or broiled.  Goodby weight.

Another last chance? I have just a few more days to order my seeds to start growing them inside before Spring arrives.  This is January. If you calculate 3 weeks for a turn-around on delivery of my order(s) — that gets me into February.  If it takes 12 weeks to grow the seed to put out by May 1st, uh, I'm pushing it.  Twelve weeks is the equivalent of 3 months — Feb, Mar, Apr... which pushes me into May.  I will be ordering my seeds tomorrow. The bigger the tomato plant going in the garden, the sooner luscious tomatoes can be harvested. The same holds true for flowers  I want blooms in late May, early June — not the middle of July.

My last last chance to place here. I will be attending a 'get-together' soiree at Terra State Community College on Thursday, January 19th to discuss with others about my class I am teaching.  Yes, I am teaching a class in writing.  It will be a 6-week course and be an intense explanation about writing and handling the aspects as an author in today's publishing world.  I have been working on my classes and I think I know what I want to handout at the soiree, but I need to put that together. I got a couple of days.  I will be busy.

A final last chance?  There is never a final last chance. They just keep coming and coming.

Until next I ramble on...


Sunday, January 8, 2017

The Calendar Experience - Time in My Hands

Yeah, happy new years - once again it is calendar time.  Yup, that time of the year. If you didn't go about collecting calendars prior to Christmas, the selections of FREE calendars is now limited.

We normally get a nice book-type calendar from our insurance company. My wife loves it, big enough to write in, yet small enough to fit in her purse.  Of course, that sentence is a conundrum in and of itself. Small enough to fit in her purse - that thing is about the size of a picnic basket. Okay, I'll be honest, it is now smaller than that since we no longer have four kids to tow around. But, I digress.  Yup! Nada left. I was able to get the last wall calendar and two desk calendars. Score for me!

Not that we're all that rich, but we do have two banks.  Enter bank one. Nope, they didn't get calendars this year - in fact, they had to go next door to an insurance agency and get one for their wall. Hmm?  Do I really want to bank here?  [sigh]  Off to bank number two. The wife scores two more wall calendars.

Almost all is copacetic within my world - except... I had this super really great neato calendar we got back in 2015 for 2016.  So cool.  It showed a week at a time, flipped the pages so I could save the information and had space where I could write down appointments and such.  I loved that calendar.  It stood against the window by my desk. If I gazed out the window (I do a lot of that!) I would see my calendar and know what was ahead for the week - doctor appointment, classes to teach, speaking engagements, book signings. Everything was right there. Flip a page and see what was planned for next week.

If somebody called and wanted to get together to talk and have coffee at the local cafe, a quick check of that calendar and I knew what was planned.

Putting it bluntly... I NEEDED A NEW ONE!!

I was reluctant to approach the establishment where I'd gotten the calendar before.  I was there for a funeral of a friend's mother back in 2015.  I'd not have the opportunity to attend a funeral there since. Could I really just saunter in, pick up a calendar and walk back out?  Rather crass. I considered waiting until there was a funeral and slide in as unobtrusively as possible. Option 1 seemed the awkward, but option 2 seemed the really awkward, especially if somebody was visiting and saw me and said "I didn't know you knew so-n-so." A reply of "Just picking up a calendar." didn't seem an appropriate.

I decided the frontal attack was the best and drove to the community and parked my car. I sat there staring at the entrance.  Could I do this?  Answer?  NO.  I drove home.

Welcome to Arts and Crafts 101.  I decided to do my own calendar.  I had the supplies.   I had the skills.  I had the time.

I found a calendar for 2017 that was somewhat like what I wanted but it was 1 full page per week and I definitely didn't want that.  I spent a whole day finding that calendar. Okay, I spent about 4 hours locating it.  I spent another almost 6 hours reworking to what I wanted. In other words, it don't look anything like the original I found. Of course, my wife wanted one, too.  So I printed out one set which only printed on 1/2 of the page in landscape mode. I flipped the pages around and re-did it for another set. Then I began the assembly.

First, I got all my items together: printed calendar, paper cutter, old calendar holders, and my handy-dandy binder system.

I cut the pages in half to make two sets. Tedious job, only two pages at a time to cut... and with 53 weeks, plus a full calendar page with 2017 and 2018, that was 27 cuts.  Yes, there only 52 weeks in a year, but there was the beginning partial week with 2016 and the ending partial with 2018. 


Now the fancy cut work for the spiral binding.  Again, only a few pages. I did most 3 pages at a time, although the instructions say I can use up to 6 pages of 20# paper. In my youth, I probably would have slapped in 6 or 8 pages and slammed the cutter down, but, now in my maturity, I've learned less is more.  It is easier to carry in 4 bags, two in each hand, than attempt 8 bags in the left, with another 6 heavier ones in the right and a 20# bag of dog food on the shoulder.  Anyway, I cut the pages.


After cutting those cute, small square notches, I then assembled them onto a spiral holder.

And VOILA! The final product.  Yes, I am rather proud of myself.


Who'd have thunk I could do such marvelous work?  Even my wife was amazed at my skills. And my calendar sits proudly on the windowsill where I can see what is happening in my future... at least, when I'm not gazing or daydreaming out the window.  BTW, at the present time, there are 4 deer ambling through, about 35 feet from my house. They're in the thicket, grazing.  Yes, in my bio I mention I'm snuggled in a wooded acre.  I am. It is so peaceful.

Until next I ramble on...



Sunday, January 1, 2017

Happy New Year! Some Tips to Share

As most of you know, I fight continuously on the battle of the bulge. My stomach just doesn't want to be reduced. Now, stepping back and evaluating this information, I've come to realize some of it is my fault and some of it is caused by medications.

First, let me explain the really easy part. My fault.  I love to eat, plain and simple. I love food. I love to cook and seriously get excited with flavor combinations. I'm always on the lookout for a new recipe that will test my culinary skills and tickle my palate when I eat it. Hence, gluttony will get me every time. Plus, right now, holidays are a killer. Everyone is bringing something for me to taste and well, taste I must. LOL.  The second aspect of my fault is my lack of exercise. When I was exercising, I was losing weight.  Uh, I fell off the wagon.  No exercise means extra weight. Plain and simple.  The tip here: Exercise and watch what you're eating.

Now, let me explain about my medications. I'm diabetic, stage 2. Last year, this time, my A1C was over 10 and my doctor was totally ticked. He wanted me on insulin. I fought that battle and got my A1C down to like 7.4 and I went on a strict, rigid diet, cutting my carbs and meal intakes. My doctor had me take a "diabetes learning class" and things went awry. My instructor was appalled I had cut out almost all carbs. She was adamant, I had to have carb intake. She put me on a diet that consisted of 60 carbs per meal (3X daily) and 30 carbs per snack (3X daily) and if you do quick math, that is 270 carbs a day.  I tried it.  My weight skyrocketed. And my sugar increased, too.  So, after a couple of months of seeing this drastic change, I went back to my diet with minimal carbs. I love rice and potatoes and I wasn't about to cut that from my diet. I just drastically cut back the amount and how often. No more heaping piles of rice - a polite amount, one half cut. I got my rice hit. Same held true for the potatoes. A small serving or a very small baked potato. No longer do I search the tater pile for the biggest ones I can find.  Even French fries are being limited. My tip about this is simple: You are what you eat - or if you're talking about medications - what you take - try to keep control.

But, I digress. My medications, many of them, have side effects and usually that includes, of all things, weight gain. I spoke with my doctor about that and he had a solution. I figured another pill. Wrong! He pulled a fast one on me. I take a Victoza shot every day. It helps me maintain my sugar and also dampens my appetite - somewhat.

Now, as I said, I gave up my exercise. I'm paying for that action now. I've regained about 10 pounds of what I've lost.  I'm still under 250, down from the original 268 at the beginning of the year, so I consider that a good thing. I think I've maintained a 20 pound loss over the year. Yay!!  My tip at this point? Keep focus and don't lose heart. It is too easy to give in.

As stated, I stopped my exercise and to say I became more fixture-like is an understatement. That has not done my heart any good. For the last few days I've been watching my #4 son's dog - a pitbull puppy and she is solid muscle. Lugging her to her bedtime crate for the night leaves me slightly wasted in my recliner. I'm not gasping for air but I can tell it wears on my heart. Having had a quadruple bypass eleven years ago - I notice my heart more, now.  Tip to this? Be aware.

Other topics. My writing has languished of late. I did complete NaNoWriMo but the story is nothing like I planned so it will basically be a rewrite. I want it to be more literary than fantasy. Yes, I know I'm a fantasy writer but I wanted this story to NOT have a lot of fantastical aspects, and be more fictional. I guess that is what rewrites are all about. So my tip here: Sit your butt in the char and write!

So, with the beginning of a new year, like everyone else, I will once again attempt some new year resolutions... and like I've said in the past: Make the realistic and attainable with a definitive goal.

I'm going to lose weight. That is undefined. I'm going to lose 50 pounds. That is probably unattainable.  I want to lose another 15 pounds this year. Now, THAT is a possibility. Why such a small amount? Simple. I lost 20 and struggled to keep it off. Trying to lose another 15 is going to be tough. Did you read the above? My meds make it difficult. Of course, the more I lose, maybe I can reduce some of those medications. It was a slow spiral down to this point, it will be a slow go to reach back up to the top. But I will -- WILL -- get there.

I'm going to write more this. A nice ambiguous goal.  I'm going to publish 4 books. Another unobtainable goal, more than likely. I'm not saying it can't be done, but the reality to do so would involve total commitment and determination.  I'd like to publish 2 books this year. I figure it will be a fight with everything else I think I may be involved with this year, but, I've set a goal... and it is one I feel I could reach.

So my final tip: Make your goals for 2017 obtainable. No reason of going into the new year with goals that you know you can't reach.  It is better to save $50 during the year than attempt to put $1000 in the bank when you know you live from paycheck to paycheck.  A dollar stuffed in a jar each week won't be missed, but $20 a week could mean the difference of a nice meal and no meal.

Did you set your New Year's Resolutions?  Will you keep them?  Share your goals.

Until next I ramble on...