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  • At the Turning of the Year

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on January 1st, 2016 (All posts by )

    It is that time of year again, isn’t it? To review the past year and look to the next, and make those personal resolutions and decisions; I’ve done a post on this subject several times in past years. I’ve made resolutions late in December or early in January and twelve months later, tallied them up. Usually the tallying up came out with a score overall of 75% achieved. Alas; the backyard is still not a bountiful truck garden and orchard of edibleness; nor are my books on any kind of best-seller list – nor even above five figures in the overall Amazon author rankings, a position which I reach intermittently and usually on the occasion of a new book being released or an Instapundit link.

    In mid-December of 2014, I looked at the list I had made for 2013 on those things that I wanted to accomplish, taking stock on what I had managed to do and what I had left undone. Now on this New Years Day 2015, I am looking at what I did manage to complete from that original list, and examining those things to work on, and either accomplish, or to try harder on in 2015.

    #1 – Books … During 2015 I had meant to complete The Golden Road for release in time for the Christmas markets in November; the adventures of a wide-eyed seventeen-year old Fredi Steinmetz in Gold-Rush era California. The good news is that I have ten chapters of it in rough draft … and the other good news is that in the last year I managed to complete two other books for Christmas-shopping-time season. I had an inspiration last January, after reading another writer’s post about the Harvey Girls; that book was done before Thanksgiving, and then the inspiration which stuck my daughter and I – to create a typical small South Texas town, and people it with characters sort of based on certain people, and a history – as well as a whole town layout – based on a handful of such towns known to us. Chronicles of Luna City was done – or at least, the first volume (yes, there will be more; the whole epic is more or less open-ended) at the eye-watering speed of about three months.

    #2 – A vow to redouble the efforts for a lavishly-productive back-yard truck garden sufficient to provide all our fresh vegetable needs. Still a flat failure, although the output from the pole beans was pleasingly bountiful this year, at least. This will be a continuing goal, although on the plus side, the goal of a backyard farm has been augmented with the addition of the chickens, or as my daughter calls them, “the wup-wups” from the sound of the gentle clucking they made when they are satisfied with life but still feel chatty. Maureen and Carly regularly produce an egg a day (with occasional days of feeling off.) We haven’t had to purchase eggs in the supermarket since about mid-September.  Larry-Bird the rooster also serves as an avian alarm clock. It is apparently a coming thing to have backyard chickens, now. We are grateful that all of our nearest neighbors were raised in the country and rather like hearing the sound of the girls and Larry-Bird. There are (according to what I read in the neighborhood email group), some locals who acquired, or moved in with chickens, and the roosters of their flocks were not well-received. Especially at 5 AM.

    #3 – Better track of readers and fans … Sigh. I had a marvelous bump-up in sales, due to the new releases and some enormously helpful links in strategic places, but seeing that the bump-up continues is one of those ongoing projects.

    #4 – Management of existing business and recruitment of new clients at Watercress Press; this remains another ongoing work in progress. I have two clients, the completion of whose work has been dragging on, for various reasons for the last year. As regards their books, there is light at the end of the tunnel for certain of one, and just possibly for the other. Although as I keep saying pessimistically, “It may not be the light at the end of the tunnel – it might just be the headlight on the train coming towards us!” I completed a couple of projects for an old Watercress client, who is ecstatically pleased, and have a new editing client, and a number of repeat orders for new copies of books from past POD clients. Keeping the business going is a continuing goal.

    #5 – Stockpiling staple foods; the pantry closet, the big standing freezer, and the long-term storage spaces are packed almost solid with staples, frozen and canned foods. Our goal for this year, is to continuously review what we have stashed, and ensure that we rotate and consume the stuff efficiently. Which reminds me – to start another batch of sauerkraut soon; we made grilled Reuben sandwiches for New Year’s Eve supper. Grocery sauerkraut just doesn’t have any flavor to it; might as well be eating watery and slightly salted celery, or iceberg lettuce.

    #6 – The project for totally renovating the kitchen is somewhat closer on the horizon than it was last year at this time. The practically-pristine vintage stove which Blondie inherited will have to be made right, tight and safe for use, and we will have to ensure that a gas main is run out to the kitchen end of the house. That may prove somewhat expensive, but on the other hand, replacing the cabinets may be a bit more affordable, thanks to working with the neighborhood Handy-Guy.  Unfortunately, the kitchen reno project this year was derailed by extensive and expensive work needing to be done on Blondie’s SUV, and veterinarian bills for the late and much-beloved Calla-puppy.

    And so there we are. I’ve left out the political stuff. Above my pay grade and anything might happen – and likely will, this coming election year. I have no control over that, other than voting in November – these resolves are just the stuff that I do have some control over.

     

    12 Responses to “At the Turning of the Year”

    1. Mike K Says:

      I’m seeing a cardiologist at USC on the 6th to consider doing a procedure I’ve put off for a couple of years due to doubts about the significance of an anatomical variant we discovered ten years ago. It’s a long story and not something I want to do at the age of almost 78 so we’ll see.

      My wife keeps after me to get an agent to see about turning my Kindle memoir book into a real book.

      Then I have begun to generate a Kindle version of my medical history book. That is a terrific pain. I’m sure you know more about it than I do.

      I’m doing some reading about Islam, especially a new book called “Black Flags” that is highly recommended by Hugh Hewitt.

      My new AR 15 is getting iron fold-down sights put on it. After I get used to it I will put the electronic sights on it.They can be quite expensive but my gunsmith suggests cheaper ones are just as good.

      I keep edging toward Tucson as California gets crazier. I took my wife over there to look at houses a month ago and she found one she desperately wants. My children will have a fit. We will discuss it after the cardiologist visit. She was unfamiliar with Tucson as we are back together for only two years after a 25 year separation after divorce. I have had quite a bit of time there as my youngest daughter went to U of A and I had a house there for some time. Looking at what houses there cost is a shock to Californians. A small three bedroom here would pay for a gorgeous estate in Tucson.

      Anyway, those are my resolutions so far. If you don’t like them, I have others, as Groucho said.

    2. Bill Brandt Says:

      Someone was talking about resolutions today on the radio (I have rarely made them) but the gist of it was that they are far more likely to be accomplished if they are written down. And specific – not general.

      Sgt Mom – it looks like you are preparing for Armageddon ;-) I can see you on the front porch with Mike’s AR pointed at any stranger and saying “state your business”.

      Or more likely that would be Blondi? ;-)

      I’d agree with Mike – CA is getting loonier and loonier. Today is the first day our mandate from our all-knowing city-council declared no more plastic bags in stores.

      I go to Target today – no bags available – and among other things get 10 containers of yogurt – and upon reaching home learned 1 apparently was stuck in the shopping cart.

      They are saving us from ourselves.

    3. dearieme Says:

      My wife has resolved to make more room in the freezer by pulling out all the frozen Morello cherries (our own, Sarge) and making jam from them. We can buy excellent raspberry and strawberry jams, but her cherry jam is the best I’ve had.

      My resolve is to eat lots of cherry jam.

    4. Mike K Says:

      Bill, thank God I live beyond the Orange Curtain in the plastic bag lunch. I wonder how many E. coli epidemics it will take to reverse it ” Chipotle is getting a head start on everyone. Nobody washes those “reusable” bags and there are already studies of E. coli outbreaks due to the bags.

      A research paper published last year by professors at the University of Pennsylvania and George Mason University found San Francisco’s ban on plastic bags has had significant negative repercussions on public health.

      The study, released in August, found a spike in San Francisco hospital emergency room treatment due to E. coli infections and a 46 percent increase in deaths from foodborne illness in the three months after the bag ban went into effect in 2007. E. coli bacteria, common in the human intestine and frequent suspects in food poisoning, can range from harmless to lethal.

      Who cares about a few deaths when plastic bags cause….. what exactly ?

    5. Mike K Says:

      Not “lunch” but lunacy. I guess autocorrect doesn’t like that word.

    6. Bill Brandt Says:

      Mike I always took my plastic bags to the dog park to recycle. I’d have maybe 100 at a time, and by the next day they would be gone. In my case all I have to do is drive 5 miles in any direction and I am out of the city limits and the clutches of this city council.

      I suspect retailers will notice a sales drop, although I can’t say how much…

      There is supposed to be a referendum coming up for the people to vote on this – can’t come quick enough.

      They always know what is best for us, don’t they?

    7. Michael Hiteshew Says:

      Sgt. Mom, what all are you trying to grow in your garden? And how does the dry climate affect your growing efforts?

    8. Mike K Says:

      Just for comparison, here is the house my wife loved in Tucson.

      Here is what is what $700 thousand gets you in a marginal market in southern California.

      Orange County is still higher. And safer.

    9. Michael Hiteshew Says:

      I’m with your wife. The Tucson house is gorgeous and the view is spectacular.

    10. Sgt. Mom Says:

      Dr. K — that Tucson house is gorgeous! But 450,000 would have gotten a nice little bit in Northern San Diego county – but alas, it was on a dirt road at the far end of nowhere. But still a pretty bit of property, nicer than the San Pedro place… And it sold last month, to our great relief.

      It’s not so much the dry, Mike – it’s the heat in summer that makes it hard to grow things. I try for tomatoes, green beans, okra, salad greens, various peppers, cucumbers, herbs, zucchini and other squashes, and potatoes. I have lemon trees in pots, an odd little Philippine citrus called a Calamondin orange which finally produced fruit last year after about eight years of just sitting there and looking leafy, two apple trees which produced some small fruit, a plum and a peach which didn’t. Some years I am lucky with some things, other years … not.

      And of course now I have to plant the edible stuff where Larry-Bird and the girls can’t get at it.

    11. Phil Ossiferz Stone Says:

      You sound like you’re doing fine, Mom. My family is doing much the same — though with a successful garden, and minus the chickens.

      Be certain to stock up on ammunition as well. Oh, I don’t mean Doomsday Prepper-esque bulk buys; I mean a box every month or so for every firearm you own. If Hillary can mobilize enough dead people and welfare rats and recently-enfranchised illegals to carry the White House, we will have another manmade famine in the shooting sports, just as we did after Sandy Hook. Only this time it will go on and on. Some silver bars might also prove useful as a hedge, should our creaking financial system go sideways.

      Fear God & Dread Naught. And keep stockpiling for the seven years of lean.

    12. Mike K Says:

      Not much grows in Arizona but cactus and bees. A hiker and his dog got killed got killed last summer by bees.

      I guess it was 2013 but the bees got him and the dog.

      Steven Johnson, 55, was last seen on Friday hiking in the Santa Rita Mountains with his dog right beside him. The Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office found Johnson hanging off Mount Hopkins in his climbing gear. The cause of death has yet to be determined, but officials suspect a bee attack.

      Sheriff’s Lt. Raoul Rodriguez says Johnson may have disturbed bees by hammering a spike into the cliff.

      His dog’s body was also covered with bee stings.

      The Tucson man was an experienced hiker and climber, The Arizona Daily Star reports. Friends became worried when he didn’t show up at work on Monday. They posted messages asking about his whereabouts on Facebook, then contacted the police.

      Other climbers told KVOA that aggressive bees have been a cause for worry in the area.

      I’m not much of a climber but something must be growing to support all those bees.