Books (updated from “Private” to “Public” on 17/7/23)

Books.

Their heft when you lift them off of a shelf.

Running your fingers over the title of an embossed cover.

The sound of just that kind of paper, as you flip the pages until a word, a sentence, a chapter title, or just plain instinct, stops you.

The smell of them.

The urge to write is persistent. The dream of becoming published…urgent. Sometimes even obsessive.

But life happens. Urges are stifled, dreams are put on hold. Still, throughout life, there are diary entries made, journals become a passion and massive reams of paper, handsful of pens and the hoardish possession of great, hardback journals full of empty, inviting pages feeds an obsessive-compulsive streak you never knew could be so fierce.

Then you retire and everything falls into place.

Over the course of sixty-one years*, one can accumulate a library full of memories and experiences, thoughts and philosophies. Categorizing everything by subject can take years, especially if you’re physically  organizing notes. Then comes ordering, whether chronologically or otherwise, and then updating and setting it all down in NEW notebooks or, stored in and on the latest technological format.

During the past decade and a half, I’ve discovered that nearly ten books have grown out of my 61* years of life.

One book lacks only illustrations. One is nearing it’s final self-edit before a more professional editor can critique’ it*. The rest are coming together, slowly but surely.   “I Love You More”, part of the “Mama Always Said” series (Mama Always Said, Vols 1-4 ©2003-2017) is my first children’s book.

It is time.*

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All the Trimmings: Mouthwatering Food Blogs on WordPress.com

“I’m rumbly in my tumbly…”!

The WordPress.com Blog

The holiday season is officially upon us: that special time of the year dedicated to friends, family, red-nosed reindeer, and—

Who are we kidding? It’s all about food! Glorious, comforting, yummy food. As millions of Americans are busy preparing for tomorrow’s turkey/turducken/tofurkey feasts, the food scene on WordPress.com is equally abuzz with recipes, food stories, and pictures that will make you drool over your screen. Here are some of our favorite food blogs — better not continue on an empty stomach…

Eating with your eyes

A picture is sometimes worth a thousand bites, and many food bloggers take their images seriously, pushing food photography to a whole new level. On cookinandshootin, for example, bloggers Tara Striano and Maria del Mar accompany the detailed recipes with crisp, bright photos. They make great use of Anthem‘s full-width content display to make the pictures pop.

Others follow suit:…

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Five Easy Ways to Transform Your Blog for the Holidays

Although this really doesn’t have a technical relevance to Balance the Circle, sometimes your frame of mind can be boosted visually…so I’m sharing this with all and sundry!

The WordPress.com Blog

Your WordPress.com site is your home on the web. It only makes sense, then, to spruce it up for the holidays as you would your brick-and-mortar address. With the ideas we include here, you’ll be able to give your blog a festive look with just a few easy clicks.

Make it snow!

It’s an annual WordPress.com holiday tradition: as of December 1st, you can have snow falling on your site! While the real stuff might be hard to deliver via The Interwebz, our special snow will fall gracefully down your screen wherever you are. To activate Holiday Snow, just follow these steps:

  1. Go to your dashboard.
  2. Navigate to Settings → General.
  3. Check the box next to “Show falling snow on this blog.”

If you activated this feature last year, it’ll be on automatically this year, too. Whenever you’d like to deactivate the snow, you can make it stop on your personal…

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“Know Thyself”…a Re-Post

It’s been a long time between posts, here on Balance the Circle, but rather than write a long, drawn out post (for the fourth time!), I’m just going to re-post today’s entry, “Know Thyself”, from one of our sister sites, “The Philosopher’s Nook”.

“Know Thyself”

So, being the great philosopher that I am I get quite adept at spouting great philosophical quotes, like, “Know Thyself”, also translated as “To Thine Ownself Be True”.

Also, like many self proscribed philosophers, I’m so busy loftily “educating” others with the wisdoms I’ve picked up over the years that I forget to pay attention to my own shortcomings.

Yes, I am a hypocrite.

Knowing yourself doesn’t necessarily only refer to sticking to your own beliefs and following the philosophical path that keeps you on the straight and narrow. It can also mean to stay in a state of awareness about EVERYTHING that makes you YOU…including your physical health.

How you treat your body and maintain your health has a direct, immediate and ongoing affect on, not only your outlook on life, but your daily choices. Every choice you make is a “tell” to your personal philosophy of life.

If you’re not taking care of yourself, your outlook on life can change in subtle ways. You may wind up with a lot of “but if’s” which can eventually corrupt your philosophy, if you’re not careful.

Case in point: “Know thyself.”

Daddy always quoted this to me as I was growing up. Of course, he was mostly talking about not letting peer pressure lead me down the wrong path, but still…

I was definitely a tomboy (much to my mother’s chagrin), but I was also somewhat of a scaredy cat. I didn’t anyone to see me as weak, so I didn’t even want to try anything I didn’t think I could excel at. For instance, I’d fight the boys with the best of them, but in gym class I’d never take a chance on the parallel bars. Why? I knew I had weak wrists. I knew myself.

Health wise, Mama always knew what was best for me (and never hesitated to tell me, philosophically, just why it was best!) so I didn’t bother thinking about it. But when I grew up it took about 10 years before I realized that I should’ve paid more attention to Mama’s oft shouted, “Be careful or you’re gonna break something that can’t be fixed!”

From the time I was 20 years old, I knew I was Superwoman. First I went into bodybuilding and developed and awesome body that showed every muscle group I owned! Later, I was raising 3 (the first 3 of 10 that I would eventually raise or help to raise!) kids by myself, worked a physically demanding job and paid all my bills.

Because I had no car, I braved the heat and lightening storms of summer, the glorious ‘green’ scent of springtime (and its accompanying rain showers-and thunder storms), crisp autumn with its surprise temperature drops and frigid winter, with sleet, snow and four inch deep slush…and walked three and a half miles to and from work. Still in perfect physical condition (I could outflex anyone at work!), I was even doing that at the age of forty-two.

I have to say, it was exhillarating to outperform all those 23 year old, muscle flexing young men I worked with!  Truth be told, I was a little too proud of myself, with consequences. I was so busy concentrating in being Superwoman that I forgot ‘to mine own self be true’ and I injured my back.

You’d think that suffering for a solid year with that injury would be a lesson that stuck. Ha! No such wisdom! Forty years later, I have done the same thing…which is why there have been no posts for nearly two months.

Yep. Superwoman has grandkids, walks to the store when possible…and sits around way too much satisfying a culinary appetite that should have been adapted to age and activity levels a long time ago. Superwoman is now thirty pounds overweight, with a “typical,” neglected, sixty year old metabolism. What can I say? I’m human and I have suffered because of one of the greatest human faults: complacency.

In short, I’ve forgotten to pay attention to my entire self and neglected to ”be true” to my own philosophies. And I’ve paid for it once again…this time with a ruptured disc.

Know thyself. To thine own self be true. All the time, all your life. Live the philosophy you preach or suffer the consequences.

DAMN YOU, GRAPH PAPER! ((Mama always said")

“Mama Always Said…” (8th Draft???)

So.

Here I am, ready to write (by hand, of course) a full draft of my book, “Mama Always Said…” All my notes are gathered around me, placed ‘just so’, so that I can organize them properly. I worked on my WordPress site for four and a half hours yesterday and completed around 4 pages, one of them introducing the concept of the book, another outlining the book itself – plus introducing three more manuscripts which are “in the works”.

I’m excited! I’m ready! I’m more than ready….I’m psyched!!

So…

…as I said, I’m ready to make a good start, having purchased four spiral notebooks (one for each book) and a set of six gel pens. I grab my coffee, phone, pens and reading glasses, cigarettes and ashtray and I hie me to the bedroom for some serious creating.

I get settled and comfortable, perch my readers on the tip of my nose, open my pen. Ready to write…and with a self-satisfied sigh, I turn back the front cover of my first notebook.

It’s graph paper. A notebook full of graph paper, all neatly held together by a silver coloured spiral.

Graph paper. Big old squares just sitting all over each and every page. Both sides, front and back.

Distracting me.

Teasing me.

Tempting me away from my well laid plans to write.

To most people, this will sound a bit petty. But I know me better than anyone else does. It’s really not petty, this graph paper, even now, just sneering at me with its perfect little boxes – all the same size

perfectly aligned

4 squares per inch

which can be scaled to read:    4 sq. (=) 1ft     2 sq (=) 6in     1 sq (=) 3in.

Perfect.

But not for writing my book.

You see, there are certain things in this life that I treasure dearly:

  • a blank canvas and a dozen tubes of paint
  • a big old lump of clay, or a good sized chunk of wood
  • a ream of blank, college lined paper and a supply of pens, cos I love to WRITE – and –
  • a ream of graph paper, a dozen pencils and a gum eraser…cos I love to design houses and furniture and jewelry and…and…and…

Perfect squares.

Four whole notebooks of perfect little squares.

Just sayin’…

DAMN YOU GRAPH PAPER! ("Mama Always Said...")

“I’m Gonna Wash That Gray Right Outta My Hair!”

So…I was braiding my hair into a one side plait the other night, as I always do before bed and, just as I turned off the bathroom light, I caught sight of myself in the mirror. I stood there for a minute, puzzling what it was that seemed odd about my reflection (other than the usual dazed, bemused look I get every time I happen to see myself that, “wow…I look more and more like Mama every day”, way). Well, I didn’t want my husband walking by the bathroom to see me standing in the dark, not moving, as he already thinks I’m a bit weird; no need for him to now think, “oh boy…Old Timer’s…she’s forgotten where she is”, so I turned the light back on and leaned forward a bit, studying my face.

Other than finding one stray hair on my chin that seemed to think it was okay to leave my husband’s face and take up residence on mine, I really just couldn’t figure it out…What was different? Sagging chins (yes, there are more than one this year), jowels like a hound dog, the upper lip looking like it’s been pulled together like a drawstring bag…hmmm. Same stuff. Different evening. Then I leaned a little closer. Actually I had  to lean closer in order to actually see me well, since my eyelids now droop so far over my eyes that I need a pulley system to see.

Anyway, I leaned in and looked at my braid. Then I reached into the medicine cabinet, took out the artificial tears, applied three drops to each eye, rolled my eyeballs around a bit (did you know that tears are necessary to good vision?) and took another look. Ever heard the song title, “Things That Make You Go ‘Hmmm'”? Well, that’s what happened. I said, “Hmmm. HA!”. Then I called to my husband.

“Hey!” I hollered. “Come in here a minute and tell me what you see!” I heard him go, “good lord, what now…”, but he did trek to the throne room in answer to my loud summons.

“What’s up?” he asked, with barely disguised boredom.

“I’m SO sorry to have interrupted your commercial, DEAR, but just look at my reflection there. What do you see that’s REALLY different? – because I think I may be hallucinating”

So he tips his head, backs up, leans forward, shrugs and says, “Noth…”, then leans in toward the mirror. “Huh! Is that…?”, then turns toward me and says, “Holy crap! Your hair is getting darker!”

Understand that I got my first gray hair at the ripe old age of 16. By 26, even though there was way more pepper than salt, you could see the silver hairs glinting in the sunlight. At age 32 I was definitely salt and pepper and by 40 years of age I was fully frosted. After 40 I stopped noticing the changes for I had finally, actually become my mother. The bad part though, was that the grey was like straw and straight, while the little bit of hair that retained a semblance of dark brown still kept its natural, zippy curl. Poor hair hasn’t been able to make up its mind to be super curly or dead straight in YEARS!

But now, on this night, I was seeing a braid that looked like one strand of black, intertwined with one strand of light brown intertwined with silver. My hair looked like it belonged on a zebra!

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

In all seriousness, I’ve been trying to figure out what, if anything, I’ve been doing differently. Diet? Sleep? Change in stress? But all I’ve been able to come up with is that

  1. my diet sucks worse than it ever has
  2. my arthritis and broken joints keep me awake more now than they did a month ago and
  3. rent is going up, gas is going up, groceries are going up and the White House says if I don’t purchase a medical insurance policy in 10 months I’ll be penalized on my taxes…really? So that takes care of the question of stress!

Everything in my life should have made me bald headed by now anyway, never mind the grey hair! But there IS one thing I’ve been doing differently in the past three weeks or so.

Last month I was talking to my daughter about how she managed her girls’ hair. Dixie got her dad’s hugely thick, straight hair, while her daughters all have hugely thick, long, tight curls which ken back to their dad, who is Black. Yet they can actually pull a wide tooth comb through it with only a little trouble (as long as they go no more than one medium-sized hank of hair at a time!).

“Coconut milk,” she told me. “Go buy a can of coconut milk, put it in the fridge for awhile and the cream and fat will solidify. Put that in a separate container in the fridge and use it on your hair after you’ve washed and towel dried it. Comb it through and it’ll not only feel soft but it’ll have a real faint smell of coconut. After awhile, if you use it regularly, your hair will soak up the oils and go smoother.”

Well I can tell you it has made a difference in the texture of my hair. It really has a softness, a silkiness, it hasn’t ever had AND it’s almost as thick as it was back when I was pregnant all 90 times. But changing the color of my hair?  NOT. What? Naw…ya’ think?

Time for some research!

(…to be continued……………)

Health & Well Be-ing

My first semi-professional, freelance project was writing articles for the company for which I work, MD247. The company is all about telemedicine, which is proving itself to be very relevent to our future health care. There are so many aspects to the technology of Telemedicine, from simple consultations with a doctor on the phone or online, to using roving robotic assistants (I’m sure most of you have seen the commercial where a robot enables a sick, homebound child to participate in the classroom) and “smart phone” technology, new applications for which are being developed every day.

There are so many medical conditions out there that can be mistaken for simpler (or more serious) illnesses. It really  behooves us all to be willing to educate ourselves about our bodies, genetic propensities, the varying ways that certain medications may affect us and, most especially which of Nature’s “medicines” are valid and which are just being touted as a cure-all. When we really ponder the route that health care is going, it’s critical to be able to take care of ourselves to be as healthy as humanly possible. By the same token, we need to recognize when going to or consulting with an MD is preferable.

I find I enjoy doing the research it takes to write an interesting, informative article, though I must warn you, the only dry part of these works are the necessary technical or statistical facts that are important to the subject at hand. Of course, when I say “research”, I’m not referring to the in-depth, technical facts that a medical student must have in order to complete a thesis; rather, I’m just an average human being who happens to have a real curiosity about the causes and effects of illness on the body, and who has enough of a way with words to maybe shed a little understanding on the subject to others.

There is also the issue of the different disciplines or styles of medicine: Western, Eastern, Wholistic, Natureopathic and Natural. I’ve spent a great number of years studying the active principles contained in certain plant life. I would say that, sadly, much of what I learned was lost in the space of time that it takes to suffer a mini-stroke, but I much too much of an optimist for that pity party!  No, I will simply declare that, of all the years I would want to live over, the only ones I could honestly enjoy would be the ones I spent in the woods, the fields and the library…and learn it all again!