Sunday, July 15, 2018

A Little Politics

I have a friend who has considered running for a political position, but he is worried some of his "secrets" from the past will be raised and he'd rather not have them see the light of day.  Personally, I think he would be great for the job, and having known him since our school days, his past should be his past and left alone.

Of course, if he had been part of some subversive group back in his college years, I'd question that, but, then again, that was forty years ago and if he hasn't been "actively" involved with that group during the last forty years, I'm pretty sure he's clean.

Did he smoke pot?  Take drugs?  I don't know and I don't really care.  Is he or has he been taking them in the last 10 weeks? 10 days? 10 minutes?  Even 10 seconds ago? Now, that would be my question.

What I think is his basic problem is a little unknown secret of exploration during the sixties. [I know he hasn't smoked pot or been involved with a subversive group, so I'm guessing at this.] Everyone slept around.  So what if you woke up in a stranger's bed and the person happen to be a hooker or, even as a worst case scenario, the same sex as you.  You're not sleeping around now and have been true to your wife for the last almost fifty years.

For some strange reason we, Joe Public, feel a person in politics should be squeaky clean. We place them on a pedestal, and they should shine. Even my pastor confided to me, he is a man, not a saint, and if pushed, he can get angry and cuss with the best of them. He asks forgiveness, but, as he said, he is a man. But, I digress. Should our politicians be squeaky clean?

NO!

No one man could ... not even Jesus could stand up to that type of scrutiny. Think about it. Jesus had "hoes" and men of questionable reputations, such as a tax collector, as his buddies and sidekicks. Today, over 2.2 billion people claim this same man, Jesus, as their Savior. Nobody would have voted him "Man to Succeed" back then!

So, the bottom line is simple.  Can the person do the job?  Is the fact that he took a "toke" on a joint back in 1968 or woke up with another guy who claims it was one of the best nights or paid $20 for a quickie at some dive while attending college - is that critical to his position?

Now, if this person has been in a political position and has been pocketing money from special interest groups for votes and/or taking drugs and/or sleeping around - yeah, time to evaluate your choice. If the person is already a political figure, I expect them to represent ME and put forth their best effort to be a figure to look up to.

My buddy seems to me to be a good choice from what I know of him.

At the present time, as I see it, most of Congress should consider themselves eligible for deployment elsewhere.  Being a Senator or House Rep is a position of honor, it is NOT a career opportunity.  Too many of them are there, and been there, for way too long.

I would love to see a bill passed that had the following articles of conditions for members of Congress:

  1. Service not to exceed 2 terms, once filled, cannot serve again
  2. Salary will be voted by the public, and only the public - you are a servant of the public
  3. Must have served a minimum of 2 years military, this applies to both male and female
  4. If a bill is passed applying to the public, it applies also to Congress - you are not exempt
  5. Money will be set aside, just like the rest of the public, for your retirement - it will NOT be your salary amount - your current salary and retirement fund is our (the public's) taxes.
  6. Any monies discovered taken from special interest groups (lobbyists) will result in swift termination. This is direct or indirect funding by a lobbyist.
  7. Any involvement in sex or drugs brought to attention will be handled swiftly - resignation.
  8. The rest of the world is awake at their jobs, therefore no sleeping in session.
I was a little leery about the "sex and drugs" but I figure, if you're in Congress or any political office, you can keep your zipper up and your nose clean for those few years.  If it happened before and/or after their term of service - I don't care. Of course, if a political member is questioned about monies taken, sex, or drugs, I still see justice being served with a proper hearing.  BUT, the idea of spending $50+ million dollars "in discovery" is ridiculous. A reasonable hearing is all that is needed, not a slack-stick Hollywood production.

Also, all these so-called "junkets" to foreign countries or elsewhere to validate some obscure aspect is a waste of our money. Does the First Lady really need to shop in Paris? Or does the town mayor really need to spend five days at a convention where the rooms cost $275 or more per day? Or have an alcohol tab of an excessive amount? If the political person wants to drink, pay for it yourself! I have to, why not you?

What people seem to forget is one simple fact: Any money the government spends is YOUR money paid in taxes.  The U. S. government, state government, county government, even city government, is not a company making money - they aren't selling anything... well, they sell us a lot of BS, but that's another story. Any money they have is OUR money we've paid in taxes. There is not a PROFIT margin like a corporation or company.

Back to the problem at hand - If a person wants to run for a political office, it should be about that person's ability to handle the position and if there are certain "terms" of that position, the person should be able to meet them or not run.  What I am saying, if you need to be 35 and a U.S. citizen, show them your birth certificate.  The fact that you got arrested for stealing a watch from WalMart when you were 19 years old has nothing to do with your ability, at age 55, to be a County Commissioner or Senator.

Some skeletons should be left in the closet - that's why they're there!!

So what are your thoughts?  Am I wrong?

Until next I ramble on...




Sunday, July 8, 2018

What Have I Been Up To?

Most of the time I am fighting my weight or blood sugar. I mean, that is a daily battle, and really... Do you want to hear about it? If so, here's a little update. Finally, I think I have my insulin intake under control - for the most part. I mean, I still have minor bouts of high numbers, especially when I go off diet and binge at the Chinese "all-you-can-eat" buffets. Give me a break. Sushi? Fried fish? Fried shrimp? Fried... well, whatever? And rice? Of course my numbers are going to be out of bounds. DOH!!! Also, I've learned, if I turn just right, I can jolt my back out of place and that insipid continuous pain can sky-rocket my blood sugar, too. So, I deal with it, and on most day, I'm good.

Weight? I didn't gain this spacious 100 pounds overnight; I'm not going to lose it overnight. The faster it comes off, the faster it comes back and usually brings extra luggage and friends. I'm losing at a slow pace, a hair over three pounds over a three month period. That would mean, one pound per month. Maybe I "could" step it up a little, but, well, read the previous paragraph. Buffets? Doh?! If it ain't deep fried, it is coated in a heavy sugary syrup. Hence, when at home, I eat a lot of less carb meals, cutting corners on the carb count as I can. Sandwiches are now basically a wrap, but with lavash bread which is only 4 carbs for 1/4 section of bread which is more than enough to wrap a sandwich. Sure beats 20+ for a slice of bread.

So much for all that same-o, same-o crap about my diet, weight, and blood sugar. Big whoop! I'm controlling it for the most part. I'm happy.

So... What have I been doing? We decided to revamp the front porch. Okay, in full honesty, we decided to revamp the whole appearance around the house. First step was getting some of the weeds under control and to do that, we decided to get rid of some flower beds. We didn't get rid of flowers, just the beds. Flowers now reside in pots and they're doing real fine and I've discovered, so much easier to weed. As I wander around the yard, checking the posies, if I see a stray weed growing in the pot - well, out it comes!!

The garden was six feet by fifteen feet. Slightly raised. To be honest, barely eight inches off the ground. It did help keep the weeds somewhat controlled, but leaning down to get to them. Uh, that was a stretch.


A new raised bed this spring. Smaller. It is - inside dimensions - four feet by nine something feet. Note I said inside dimensions. I used concrete blocks, two blocks high. So the garden is now sixteen inches from the ground and quite reachable. Weeds? Yeah, a few at the start which I was able to remove in less than ten minutes. Now, that's what I call easy gardening. This image is when I first started to put it in. Uh, two trips to Menards to lug them back in the rear of a 2014 Ford Focus, 700+ pounds, just in blocks, each load. LOL.


Almost finished. Just a little more dirt. I've put in some dirt, some sand, and lots and lots of chicken crap. I cleaned out the chicken coop and well, what better place to put all that fertilizer? I let it sit for almost a month, watering it so it wouldn't be too strong.


And, now? Here's what it looks like today.


I have two struggling bell peppers on the extreme right with some nice looking bells. There are 2 rows of green beans and one row of wax beans. My "salad" lettuce is on the left. It is a mixture of different leaf lettuces. And, across the back, I have five (5) tomato plants. Starting from the left, it is a cherry tomato (in case you didn't notice, it is HUGE) for salads and munching, a Beef Steak for sandwiches, a New Jersey Devil which is a strange Roma-type for pastes and salsa, a Pink which will add a lighter color to the mix, and finally, on the far right, a Mortgage Maker which is a heavy bearer and great for sauces. Yeah, a lot of tomatoes going into pint and quart jars this season until the first winter frost kills them. Of course, I'll probably sneak out and grab a couple of green maters to fry up. Love them. Oh, and before I forget, I am proud to say, everything in the garden but the lettuce was grown by me from seed.

I've also been working on the front porch and side deck. Let's go with the front porch. It is "almost" done. I just need to get the LED post cap lights for the four small posts, and I also need to string rope between the posts. Since the porch is only two feet from the ground on the sides, and a couple of inches from the front flower beds, I don't need to have any railing. We love the look without. BUT, we discovered, a strong wind moves the furniture across the porch and well, in the past, the railings kept things contained to the front porch and not flipping all over the yard. Hence, we are placing a decorative rope around to at least keep the furniture on the porch during a storm. Here's the porch, as built in 2006 when the house was going up. The only thing missing is the slapped-up white roof with no trim.


This is what it looks like today, minus the cap post LED lights and ropes ... which are coming soon.


And, now, some close ups. They are: front porch left side, front porch right side, my fancy corner emblem so I didn't have to miter the corners when putting up the trim, and the newly painted furniture.




Now, a little about the furniture. Originally, the love seat was the same insipid "tan" color as the table next to it. The Adirondack chair was a lovely shade of dark army green. The other chairs were also a shade of dark moss green. I painted them all a dark blue. We put new blue and white cushions on the old rockers. And, in the near future, I will paint the tables white. Also, I plan to paint all the shutters on the house to match our new color scheme. Yup! It will be that dark blue.

I'm currently working on the side deck. It is a mere eight (8) to ten (10) feet above the ground on the east end of the house. I had some of that crappy plastic trellis screwed to some of the uprights. Not really all that safe. I have since put up welded fencing and will be covering it with wood strips. When I finish that project, I'll post. Hopefully, by then, I'll also have the rest of the front porch, and shutters completed. One neighbor asked if I was getting the house ready to sell. I informed him I was changing a lot of things around the house to make it easier for me, a seventy-two year old fart, to keep things up-to-date. I will be enlarging the "hillside" flower bed this fall. My son bought a new place and my DIL doesn't want to fiddle with all the myriad of flowers. Guess who is going to inherit them? And, in the manner of keeping it easier for me, I'll add a simple path through the new bed to make weeding easier when in the flower bed.

A Gardening Lesson

Here's a gardening tidbit. When is the best time to weed? Well, of course, when the weed first emerges from the ground and has very little root... but, well, we don't tend to catch them until they are larger than the flowers. LOL. So, now to answer the question. After it has rained. If you get a heavy deluge, or really good dousing of water that seeps deep into the ground. The next day... or later that day, grab your bucket and whatever weeding tools you use and get out there. PULL... yes, PULL those weeds out. If the ground is really wet, they will literally slip out, maybe even with all the hairy little roots still attached. I did that for a mulch area, pulling dandelions, Queen Anne's lace, thistle, creeping Jenny and all sorts of other weeds out - tap root and all the little roots, too. If you get the root out, they don't tend to grow back. LOL. I've got a little weeding to do and it has threatened to rain for the last couple of days. Even the weatherman believes it will rain. It hasn't. Each day it doesn't rain and I don't pull the weeds, they get stronger root systems and bigger. If it don't rain tonight, I will get the sprinkler out and let it run for about an hour in the morning, then again for about thirty minutes in the afternoon. Then, in the evening shade and cool, I'll sit on my little bench and pull those weeds out. BTW, if you know my luck, it will pour that night after I've watered so well.

Until next I ramble on...

Sunday, May 27, 2018

An Epiphany

Ever have one of them? An epiphany? A friend of mine likes to call them "The Epiphany" but somehow that indicates there is only one — and, for me, of late, there's been more than one.

When I was dating my wife, we'd go to her brother's house for family gatherings, picnics, and swim in the pond with the nieces and nephews. Up by the house, a table sat at the edge of the large deck under the shade of a large oak tree. As I lazed in the sun on the small sandy beach area, I'd see them, the aunts and uncles, the old people, sitting at that table enjoying their coffees or lemonades.

The years have passed. My brother-in-law and his wife have moved into a small trailer set a little closer to the pond. His eldest son has taken over handling the "estate" of six acres. We had a party the other day. All the family showed. The grandkids and great-grandkids frolicked in the pond, running helter-skelter here and there. I sat at the table at the edge of the large deck under the shade of the huge oak tree. I was enjoying my cup of coffee, talking with the other siblings of my wife's family, watching the kids. I was once more reminded of how the old people (the aunts, uncles, moms and dads) would sit at the table and...

OMG!

I was the 'old people' at the table.

Sure, Uncle Earl passed. Aunt Mary went to her Heavenly reward. Even mom and dad had taken their turn visiting the Pearly Gates.

But, wait, when had the baton been passed. When did I — that's right, the three of us — me, myself, and I — when did we become one of those to sit at the esteemed table of elders?

I longed for the sunny beach; to allow myself to throw caution to the wind, no reservations, allow the sun to crisp my body to a golden brown.

I held my hand over my eyebrow to shade my view and see the kids out in the water.

NO! I'd seen my wife's dad, and her Uncle Earl do that. Not me! It couldn't be me!!

I sipped my coffee, resigned to the fact — I was old. I'd moved on. No longer was I the stud lounging on the beach. My heydays were over.

Never!!

I stood, my bones creaking and cracking in the action. I was going to take my rightful place back in the sun. As I was about to leap off the low deck onto the lawn, I thought better of it, turned and carefully, one step at a time, made my way down the staircase and to the path to the pond.

About four steps later I realized the truth. I hurt. The idea of getting down, laying on the beach, allowing the glorious sun to bathe my body...

I cringed. Thoughts assailed me.

     1. That's a lot of white flesh to expose, not only to the sun, but to the world.
     2. They don't have a crane handy — how are you getting back up?
     3. Your six pack is more like overstuffed carry-on luggage.
     4. Do you really want to hear the kids, grandkids and others laughing?
     5. Or worse, crying for you to put on more clothes?

With the sincerest look I could offer, I turned to the others on the porch deck and said...

"Damn! I forgot what I was going to do!"

And humbly walked back up to sit at the table.

There is honor in growing old. It is a rite of passage. You are an elder to be respected.

Yeah, right! That's a lot of hogwash.

As Judge Thurgood Marshall stated when asked why he was retiring...

Because I'm old!

Yes, I'm old but I do believe I'd remember when the baton was passed to me. Obviously, as I have now learned, it is done without any pomp or circumstance. No ceremony. It is a simple case, one day you don't have the baton, the next day you have it. I also discovered, it does not, I repeat, does NOT come with instructions.

In fact, a little head's up — very little of growing up comes with instructions. Sure, you get guidance when you're young, but when you hit a certain age, all those who are older than you, well, they have moved on, and suddenly, you are now the font of all things important, somewhat relevant, and unfortunately, more often than not, totally useless information of a period gone by.

A few years ago, the matriarch of my wife's family passed. Yes, my mother-in-law, at the ripe age of 103 (one hundred and three) went to her Heavenly home. My parents had already passed. At that moment, although I hadn't realized it at the time, my wife and I became the matriarch and patriarch of our family, as did my wife's sisters and brother with their families.  The baton had been passed. There was none for us to go to for advice. We now were the Oracles, the deities of information, good or bad.

Epiphany.

When did I get to this point? How did I get here?

The answer is simple. I got here one breath at a time... and there were a lot of them.

As king, my first proclamation...

HELP!!

Until next I ramble on...


Sunday, January 7, 2018

The Diet

Happy New Year - 2018 is officially here.

Now that all the holiday hoopla is over, it is time to once more relegate ourselves to life.

At the beginning of 2017, I made a resolution to lose weight this year. I was just under 250 last January but during the year I was able to find a few more of those pounds I'd lost in 2016. With a little work and a major threat from my doctor, I am now down to 234. My resolution was to lose 15 pounds and by jiminy-jack, I basically did it. Actually I lost almost 25 pounds total but from the beginning of the year, I made my goal.

Unfortunately, it was too little, too late. The doctor decided to put me on insulin and right now we're trying to see just how much insulin I'll need to take daily. They started me at 10 units, upping it every day two more units. I'm currently squeezing 48 units under my skin each day. AND, of course, we haven't hit the "sweet" spot, yet. So I keep upping the ante each day.

On the plus? side - I'm no longer taking all the other diabetic meds that were costing me so much. I was able to stop buying $100+ of monthly meds - we still don't know exactly how much my insulin will cost, but we'll deal with it. OR, as I told my doctor, being on a fixed income, if it is too much, guess I'll die a very sweet guy. LOL.

Here's the truly sad part to this whole scenario.

Dieting and being a diabetic.  I can only eat certain things and carbs are a definite NO-NO. Do you realize how much carbs are in foods?  Okay, the foods we like - potatoes, rice, bread, and the list goes on. If it isn't a carb, then the sugar is too much. Cherries will basically bomb my sugar spike to kingdom come. I love cherries. Fresh fruit - I have to be so careful.

Basically, if it is green or white (excluding potatoes and rice) - I can eat it. That means, I can have all I want of lettuces, broccoli, beans, onions, cauliflower, kale, sauerkraut... you see what I mean.

The other day I had 5 - count them - FIVE itty-bitty little tater tots with some chicken strips. What harm could five little nuggets do?  Uh, my sugar spiked up to 397... uh, that was 3 hours after eating them. I can only imagine what the number was 1 or 2 hours earlier.

I can eat protein - that's meat - and almost as much of it as I want. I've learned to make meatballs that are basically almost carb free. Instead of breadcrumbs, I use shredded summer squash. Don't turn up your nose, it is really quite tasty.

I also found a recipe for baked fish that makes them almost as crunchy as deep-fried but, oh, so much healthier. Imagine my surprise when I tried it on onion rings. My wife now looks forward to my Friday night fish - she loves, LOVES the onion rings. All of it baked.

It is a good thing I enjoy sauerkraut, too. Sausage (kielbasa) or pork chops with sauerkraut, green pepper, onions, mushrooms. YUM.

Chinese stir fry is a pretty safe bet, too. Of course, no rice allowed - too many carbs. I did try some Chinese noodles but I can do without, if necessary. Protein and veggies - how that be wrong?

Now, another sad item. We did a lot of harvesting in the garden and I made a lot of stuff to fill the freezer with some quick meals.  What kind of things, you ask?  Stuffed Cabbage Rolls.  Egg Rolls.  Jambalaya. Stuffed Green Pepper Casserole. Tater-tot Casserole.  Did you notice?  A lot of rice and/or potato dishes... or a need to deep fry.  All of those are no-no for me.

I will continue on my diet and I will get my diabetes under control.  The doctor did offer me a carrot on a stick - since I can stand to lose 100 pounds and still be at a safe weight, I might be able to come off the insulin, depending on how my body reacts to the weight loss.

Sure, it's a long shot, but at least the carrot is hanging there in front of me.

Wouldn't it be nice if I could lose possibly 50 pounds this year?  Like I said last year, that is probably a blue-sky wish. Reality. Another 20, maybe 30 pounds. After all, I didn't gain all this weight overnight; I'm not going to lose it overnight.

AND, if anyone has some great recipes for a dieting diabetic who can't eat eggs or egg-products, like pasta and such, please share with me. It takes so much time to search the internet. LOL.

Until next I ramble on...