Sunday Ramble – Uplifting Chatter

Amy at E.M. Kingston has questions – Here’s my attempt to answer them.

When you feel negative, what techniques do you use to bring yourself up to feeling positive?

I remind myself that I am good enough. I may not feel it, but when I keep repeating that, eventually I do feel good enough. Unfortunately, I often don’t feel good enough. So this is a constant mantra for me.

What is a smell that made you smile when you woke up today?

Easy one, COFFEE!!!

An owl is known for its wisdom, what are you known for?

Being a sarcastic SOB? Not really. I see myself more like a stubborn mule. I’ve been told many times, that I’m quiet as a mouse and then when I do speak it is like Owl wisdom.

Do you know any good recipes? If so, can you share one? (If you don’t cook, tell me your favorite food recipe that someone else makes for you.)

Eons ago, I had a recipe for a Cream Cheese Carrot Cake. Everyone raved about them whenever I deigned to bake. When I retired from the Navy and moved to New Mexico, I lost the recipe. Since then I’ve tried to recreate it by memory but have failed. It wasn’t so much the ingredients, but in the mixing of them that made it special. There was a certain order that isn’t usually done in carrot cake recipes you find on the internet. I think it was divine inspiration that lead me to mix it that way.

How do you console the people around you? (Online or in-person)

Suck it up … Oh wait, that’s what I tell myself. For others, especially in times of grief I have no words. I know that anything I say will simply be platitudes that roll off like water on a duck. A simple “Sorry for your loss” is about the best I can do. Mrs. D accused me of having no empathy a few years back. I’ve been working on being more emphatic, but I still fall short.

Great questions!

Sunday Ramble – My Blog

E.M. Kingston has five questions – here’s my attempt to answer them.

When did you start your blog?

October 2021 – about 8 months ago

Did you start with a theme, or did it come later on?

Definitely started with a theme. Writing with Cancer pretty much sums up what I have done here. Although I am cancer free now, I’ve decided to keep the name the same.

What is your favorite post that you have ever written on your blog?

Oh this is a tough one. There are lots of favorites. I could say Redemption which is my most popular post. It was my first attempt at a Six Sentence Story. It was a hard story to write, but I enjoyed the challenge. However the most favorite post is one I did shortly after starting this blog which is Why I Write. That post laid out why I write and why I post to this blog. As I look back on it, every word on it still rings true to my goal.

Do you share your blog with friends and family, or do you keep your blogging world separate from them?

My family has been the biggest encouragement to me to keep blogging and writing. Hi Mom! Mrs. D and one of my daughters that lives with us, let’s me bounce ideas off of them and have given me ideas for my stories.

What is the best advice you could give someone who is new to blogging?

Keep after it. Find your style and niche and at least at first try to post at least once a day. After six months or so, you’ll fall into a steady rhythm that works for you. Don’t’ worry about stats or followers, they will come if you have interesting content.

Great questions.

Sunday Ramble – Sundays, Mondays, Happy Days

E.M. Kingston has five questions – Here’s my attempt to answer them.

Photo by Jill Wellington on Pexels.com

What is at least one thing that makes you happy today?

Just being alive and feeling better than I have in a long time. The hot flashes are slowly going away, my strength is up. I may even go out into the garage to organize my workbench.

What is one thing that happened last week that made you feel positive and happy?

Sounds like a question my therapist would ask. My mind goes blank and we sit and stare at each other for five minutes. Eventually I’ll come up with something lame. The therapist gives me a look “like really?” Then I’ll hang my head in defeat. Then a lightbulb will go off and I’ll blurt out something I had forgotten. Pretty much like what’s happening as I write this.

Oh wait! Writing a Six Sentence Story in one shot that was perfect.

What is your positive personal mantra? (Mantra means “a statement or slogan repeated frequently” via Oxford Dictionary.)

“I’m just a dumb hick from the country, but…”

What is the nicest act you secretly did for someone?

If I told you, it wouldn’t be a secret then would it?

What is one hobby you would like to try?

Model trains. I’ve been fascinated by them since I was a wee young lad. To do a realistic layout that I built by hand would be cool.

Bonus Question: What is your go-to song to belt out in the shower?

Rarely if ever do I sing in the shower. I do like singing in the car though but only when I’m by myself. I’m usually out of tune as I don’t have a singing voice worth a darn.

Not much rambling on these questions, but that’s okay. Thanks to E.M. for asking them.

Sunday Ramble – Habits and Routines

E.M. Kingston has questions, here’s my attempt to answer them.

Original artwork by Mrs. D.

Do you have a daily routine that you are used to, or do you just go with the flow of the new day?

I wake up, I have my coffee and my smokes no matter what happens. I’ve been doing that for so long I don’t even think about it.

Do you do anything in your life habitually that you wish you could stop?

Quit smoking of course. I’ve tried just about every thing you can do and have failed.

If habit was the acronym H.A.B.I.T, what would it be short for?

Halt And Be In Tune – When things are chaotic, it helps to fall back on habits and routine. Sometimes you got to stop and get back into routine.

Ok, I completely made the above up and probably doesn’t make much sense, so don’t go quoting me over it.

Are we born with our bad habits? Or do we acquire them from the environment surrounding us?

Ooh, the old nature vs. nurture argument. I have no idea. I can argue on both sides, sometimes simultaneously.

Are you a night owl, early bird, or something else when it comes to sleeping routines?

Definitely an early bird. Growing up I naturally woke up early. This got reinforced by being in the Navy for 21 years. Even on weekends where I don’t have to go to work, I generally wake up early. It’s my time of peace and quiet.

Didn’t ramble much on these questions, but that’s okay. Sometimes we just need to be straight to the point. Thanks E.M. for the questions.

Sunday Ramble – Who Am I?

E. M. Kingston has 5 questions on High School – I don’t particularly feel like revisiting those days, so instead I’m going to Ramble on a different subject.

Photo by Olya Kobruseva on Pexels.com

Who am I? I am a human being. While technically correct, that is not the right answer. Like it or not, what we do in life is who we are. When I was in the Navy, I could rightfully say I’m a sailor. Because I stayed in for 21 years, I can now and always say I’m a Retired Navy Chief. When I was doing work at the school district in New Mexico, I was a Carpenter. Or now, when I’m working in the logistics field, I can say I’m an Inventory Specialist. Of course, I can always say I’m a Dad, a Grandfather, a Husband. Now, I can say I’m a Writer.

But do these labels define me? Do they say who I am, really am?

When I started this endeavor, my goal was to write, get published and get rich. A worthy goal indeed and one that I felt was achievable. Since then, I’ve learned a few things. Getting published is rare for writers. Getting rich is even rarer. If I had known that in the beginning, I may have not started down this path. Since then, my goals have changed. Well, to more accurate, I don’t have goals in writing other than to write the best I can. There is no overarching goal of being published, much less being able to do this full time.

Has this defined me as to who I am?

Maybe if I added adjectives to the term writer? Talented writer? Wanna be writer? Hack writer? Great writer? Enjoyable writer? Terrible writer?

I’ve been all of the above at one time or another and many others that I can’t recall at the moment. The big question is, why can’t I just be me? To know that answer, I have to go back a few years when I was suffering from extreme low self-esteem. My internal voice was telling me I wasn’t good enough. I wasn’t ever going to amount to anything. If I was to survive, then I had to put on a mask each and every day hiding who I really am. The mask was what I thought others wanted me to be. Did I fool everyone with my mask? Most of the time, yes. Sometimes not.

Through intensive therapy, I’ve learned to at least tell myself that I am good enough, even when I don’t feel it. To take off the mask and expose who I am, consequences be damned. People will either accept me or not. Be the best I can be at each moment. To own my emotions.

Most days, that works.

Then there are days that I feel like I’m faking it yet again. I’m putting on the mask and have to tell myself to take it back off. This is a lifelong constant battle. I must admit, it feels more comfortable to hide who I really am. In the long run, that leads me back to low self-esteem, so I have to be on guard.

So back to the question at hand, I am a writer. I write because I must. I have stories to tell. By telling these stories, I show who I am. It keeps me from slipping back into bad habits of being what I think you want me to be. The feedback from my writing is great, but it is not the end all to be all. I realized that this morning all over again. The story I wrote yesterday got minimal views and feedback. At first I was disappointed and felt like a failure. Then I realized, I really liked writing that story. It was fun to figure out how to tell the story and then to write it. At the end, I was very proud of myself. I’m still proud of myself for writing it. I feel it is one of the best stories I’ve written.

Who am I?

I am a writer and I have stories to tell.

Hardcore History

I’ve always loved reading about history. I know that makes me a small minority, but I own my history nerdness. I’ll read countless different authors on the same subject. This gives me new perspectives that I may have not seen before.

Recently, I turned to an old favorite of mine, Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History podcasts. His series on Genghis Khan was superb. From that I listened to his King of Kings series on the Kings of Persia.

I just finished Supernova in the East which is about the astonishing rise to power of the Japanese till the end of World War II. Dan doesn’t just recite facts, but digs into the human element. I have to admit that you have to be a hardcore history nut as this series was six episodes long and each was at least 4 hours long. The final was almost 6 hours. But by listening to it in chunks when I drove to and from work, I eventually got through the series.

When faced with situations that are morally suspect to our eyes, Dan gives context to not only what was happening, but how people were thinking. Not just the leaders of countries, but the common folk too. Too often, historians have blasted the ancients for what they did based on the morality of today. As Dan says, “You can’t do that!”

I wonder today what people in the future will think about us? Will they see us as barbarians? We are the most technologically advanced humans in all of history, but the way we treat each other is at times barbaric.

From my readings on history, the more things change, the more they stay the same. It’s a never ending story of people trying to take power over other people. The names and places change, but the same motive exists throughout.

Freedom of the individual is not the norm in history. What we have now is likely to be transitory. I don’t think this makes me a pessimist about the future, but a realist. I just hope that the time where we go back to tyranny as a norm is far, far in the future.

As a writer, especially of future events that I imagine, it becomes incumbent upon me to point out what could happen, both the good and the bad. The hard part is making it entertaining without boring everyone including my dog, Gracie.

Ayn Rand famously wrote “Atlas Shrugged”, a huge novel that is back in the news lately. I slogged through the book years ago. I don’t think I could do that now as it was pretty darn preachy for most of the book.

Not sure where I’m going with this, just putting thoughts down as they occur to me.

Sunday Ramble – Vacations and Travel

E.M. Kingston has five questions – This is my attempt to answer them.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

When at the ocean, do you want to be in it, on it, or just look at it? (If you don’t like visiting the ocean, what is a hobby you enjoy on vacation or in general?)

I grew up in the high plains of New Mexico & West Texas with very little water. Joined the Navy to be on ships and see the world. I’ve always been fascinated by the ocean. I seen spectacular sunrises and sunsets. The rolling of the ocean waves is soothing and I’ve always had my best sleep while on a gently rocking ship.

I love to go to the beach, but even though I’m only about 20 minutes away, it seems that it is forever in between visits. I do love swimming, but also just love lying on a towel listening to the roar of the waves crashing.

Have you ever surfed or gone snorkeling?

Never surfed as I don’t have the greatest athletic balance, but I do enjoy snorkeling. Once in Puerto Rico we were snorkeling and a school of barracuda’s came by and circled around us for a while. At first, I was fearful, but after a while it was pretty cool to see them up close.

My daughter loves surfing and even volunteered to teach kids how to surf until one fateful day while holding onto a surfboard from the back with the kid on top, the waves sent it back into her face. She looked pretty bad and stopped teaching after that.

When traveling, do you experiment with the local dining experience or pack a picnic/cook for yourself and anyone with you?

Local dining experience is where it’s at. In my travels around the world, I’ve eaten some of the most amazing dishes and some that are definitely an acquired taste.

Once in Naples Italy, I got the opportunity to dine at a restaurant that only had one table. It was huge and seated about 20. They had two sittings. The first sitting, half of the family members would sit and eat with you while the other half did all the serving. Then they would switch for the second sitting. The meal was a 7 course dinner complete with cheese and wine and meats. This was an authentic Italian family meal and absolutely wonderful.

What is your biggest pet peeve when traveling?

In the Navy, whenever we did a port visit, we were required to be on the buddy system. This meant you had a buddy and the two of you had to stay together. I can’t count the number of times a buddy I was paired up with wanted to head straight to McDonald’s. You are in a foreign country, why would you want a Big Mac?

Are you someone who takes a lot of photos on vacation? If so, you can share your favorite vacation photos. (If not, share your favorite vacation story.)

I’ve tried to take photos, but either forget or lose the photos.

My favorite vacation was when I took my kids from Florida to New Mexico. We stopped in New Orleans and I took them touring down Bourbon Street (Daytime only). We rode the St. Charles trolley and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. Then heading west, we stopped for a couple of days in San Antonio and visited the Alamo which the kids loved seeing history come alive. The next day we went to Six Flags over Texas in San Antonio and had a fantastic time riding all the rides, some of them multiple time. I cherish that time I got to spend with them.

Great questions!

Sunday Ramble – Finish My Sentence

E.M. Kingston has five questions, here’s my attempt to answer them

The greatest feeling in the world is when I:

Sit on the back patio with Mrs. D. We are both reading on our iPads and having coffee and a smoke. At some point, we simultaneously look at each other and smile. The feeling of love is palpable.

The one thing that I misplace more than anything is my:

Mind. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve walked into a room and completely forgot why I came into it. Or I’ll hurry to tell Mrs. D something and open my mouth and completely lost my train of thought.

When I am stressed out, the one item/person/thing that always makes me get back to feeling okay is:

Having a smoke. Yes, it’s a dirty nasty habit, but it is mine and has been for over 40 years. I’ve tried quitting, but stress always leads me back to smoking.

When I am sick, the only thing I want is:

To lie in bed, curled up like a baby and have Mrs. D bring me water, crackers and caress my forehead. Yes, I’m a man and I’m a complete baby when I get sick.

Whenever I feel like I am procrastinating, I fix it by:

Telling myself to “Suck it up, Deal with it, No sympathy”. Of course that doesn’t always work if it is something I really don’t want to do.

Great questions … err … starter sentences.

Sunday Ramble – Life and Positivity

E.M. Kingston asks 5 questions – This is my attempt to answer them.

Photo by Taryn Elliott on Pexels.com

What are the greatest attributes about you that make you feel good about yourself?

Wow, this is a tough one right out of the gate. I’ve been in a doom and gloom mode for a very long time. Bear with me as I figure this one out. I feel good that I am able to get a job done whether at work or at home by being persistent. In other words, the more difficult jobs I tell myself to suck it up and bite the bullet. When I’m done, I’m amazed at how well I did. Even if no one notices how much work it was to accomplish the job, I feel good that I rose to the occasion and finished.

Maybe that isn’t the greatest attribute. Let’s try a different tack. How about my ability to connect the dots? In other words, I have a God given talent to look 4 or 5 steps down the road on a task and use that to accomplish it more efficiently. Also, it has given me the ability to have insight into things that I wouldn’t normally consider.

What is/are your biggest motivation/s to get things done?

Easy question at first, but looking at it more in depth, this is another hard question. Casually I would say that I enjoy getting things done and look for the end of the journey. The more I think about it though, I’m not sure that is entirely correct.

Really it boils down to fear. Fear of not being seen good enough. Fear of failure. Fear of missing out. Fear is a huge motivation factor in my life.

Do you have any tips that could help others with their own motivation?

Suck it up, deal with it, no sympathy.

To expand on that, life gives us rotten situations all the time. This is not unique. So complaining about it is pointless. Obstacles that are in our way have to be dealt with one way or another. Even backtracking and trying a different approach is a way of getting past life’s obstacles. If you are looking for sympathy, then you are just trying to find an excuse to not accomplish what you want/need to do.

As you are sitting there reading this question, look around you. What item in your home/work/car (wherever you are) made you smile when you looked at it?

My dog, Gracie. She is lying on her dog bed next to my desk snoring. It’s a light snore so it doesn’t bother me. She has been my constant companion for the past 15 years. Fiercely protective and an innate sense of time. Mrs. D says that she always knows when I’m on my way home from work as Gracie will lay down by the front door about thirty minutes before I get home. Funny thing is, I don’t always get home at the same time.

What always makes you laugh and smile in your life?

My grandchildren. How could one not laugh and smile? One of my favorite things to do is wait until they ask for ice cream. I always respond, “I’ve been waiting for you to say that.” Enjoying ice cream with the kids is a fantastic fun thing to do.


Great questions and very timely as I’m going from a paradigm of uncertainty and anxiety to one of trying to learn all over again the good things in life.

Sunday Ramble – Kitchen And Food

E.M. Kingston has five questions and I try to answer them.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

When you are in the kitchen cooking (or cleaning), do you have anything playing in the background (i.e.,TV, music, Julia Childs, etc.) while you are completing your tasks? If you are not someone who cooks or does chores in your kitchen, think of another chore or task. While you are doing that task, do you have anything going on in the background?

Usually I have Pandora going on. Sometimes I’ll put on 80’s Rock, but lately I’ve been partial to Irish Pub Songs.

What is the weirdest thing you have ever eaten that someone cooked for you?

I once ate monkey brains in Thailand. It was served in the skull and was definitely weird. Actually didn’t taste too bad once you forgot what you were eating.

Thinking of that weird food, did you like it enough to eat it again or get the recipe?

Oh hell no. That once was enough to satisfy me for life.

What’s the food you usually refuse to share?

I’ve been accused of being a “hollow-leg Pete” as I can consume vast quantities of food. I’m slim and don’t usually gain weight. I’m also one that eats almost anything. I don’t mind sharing, but you got to be quick about it before I shovel it into my mouth.

Do you use recipes when you cook, or do you have your own way of cooking the food that you love? If you are not the person who cooks in your household, pick a task that has directions/instructions. Do you follow the directions or put them to the side?

I rarely cook anymore since I married my beautiful bride, but when I was a single dad of two, I cooked most nights. I usually followed the recipes but when I felt like it I would deviate a bit to make it better. I’m known for my seven spice ranch chicken where I randomly select seven spices. Each time I’ve made it, it was different in one way or another. Never had a bad batch.

Bonus: Pick three smells in your kitchen that make you happy when you smell them.

Bacon! What other smell do you need? Okay, I’ll throw in some others, but they only make me smile a bit. Coffee and BBQ.

Great Questions as usual. See you next week!