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...