Tuesday, December 31, 2013


Resolute: res-o-lute: Latin - resolutus
1: marked by firm determination : resolved < a resolute character >
2. bold, steady : < a resolute gaze >
synonym: faithful

This is what resolutions are made of. But how many do we really keep? With the best of intentions, we fail miserably; as did I on mine, last year. In this blog, I proclaimed, to wit, my faithfulness to the coming year of 2013. The previous year was monumentally lackluster and disappointing, however, 2013 turned out as bad a year as I can remember for several reasons, fraught with trials and tribulations.

Let's see how I did on last year's bold statements to be resolute. (ah, hem...clears throat)
I proclaimed on a personal note, to take My Beloved to a movie once every six or eight weeks.
Resolutus failurus: Uhm, I think we saw one movie last year...but hey, it was a really good one. Well, maybe two but one included taking Ragin' Cage. I don't know that a four-year-old tagging along really counts.

I proclaimed to give My Beloved flowers every month.
Resolutus successus: Yea! I really did this. She received flowers from me every month. Okay, truth be told, one bundle was from my dear departed brother's funeral. But they were given with tremendous love and therefore can be counted, as she loved him very much.

I proclaimed to re-grout the kitchen floor.
Resolutus kinda-sortofus: I found a wonderful cleaner to actually clean the grout and it looked wonderful. No need to re-grout. Unfortunately for me, I didn't have the time to seal it. Needs to be done again.

I proclaimed to do the small projects around the house.
Resolutus failurus: Yeah, whatever. I've got stuff to do....I work a lot, ya know?

On a professional note:
I proclaimed to not spend so much time above my schedule at work. Render unto Caesar what is Caesars, I said.
Resolutus epicus failurus: I spent more time at work than I had the previous year and gave up more than a week and a half of vacation time because I just couldn't go.

I proclaimed to finish two novels, the first book a fantasy and the second, a sci-fi work.
Resolutus kinda-sortofus: The fantasy book was finished and published under the title 'Sands of Nevertime'. It is the first in a series titled, 'The Last Elf Prophecy'. The sci-fi, 'Star Eagle Six', saw little work after the month of April. I did however write a short for an anthology titled 'End of the Road' and was published. (It's free on Amazon, iTunes and Barnes...I'm just sayin'). I have also penned another short for a second anthology due out in January of this coming year titled 'The Kiss'. Look for it. It is a compilation of twenty-some authors, each presenting their prowess as writers. (Yes, we are very good and you should go out and get one. It'll be free, ya cheapskates).

I proclaimed to add 'booksfromhale.com to my favorites list.
Resolutus failurus: While this simply did not happen, I see his writings so often that I simply don't need to add it to the favorites tab. He's still a funny guy and a terrific writer.

I proclaimed to sell more books.
Resolutus successus: I did indeed sell more books, just not that many. I did give away a few hundred as The Dream Valley, the first book in The Crystal Point Legacy trilogy is permanently free. Hey success has its price. You must crawl before you can walk.

Coming soon: this year's resolutus failurus topics, I mean, my new year's resolutions for 2014.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

This Christmas Eve

The work is done, okay, mostly by my beloved wife, but it is so. The presents are wrapped, yes, I helped, and the house is decorated from front to back. I sit now in my chair admiring our tree, lit with white lights that make me think of stars held within the night sky. It is a tree My Beloved and I have always cherished.

Beside it stands the mantle, strung with fresh pine garland. Okay, it's probably wilting a little bit. That's what happens when you cut a live plant and let it sit for weeks indoors. It wilts some. However, the scent of pine waffles through our abode. It frames the stockings hung by the chimney with care, yes, in hopes that St. Nicholas soon will be there. My job is to fill My Beloved's stocking as she is the hidden Santa within our home.

Our front room has yet another tree, a slim version trimmed in silver and white lights. From above, the room is lit with a gentle glow from garland strung with soft, white lights. It adds a gentle luminescence to our home. One of my favorite decorations is a simple red basked filled with pine cones and a string of white lights buried beneath. All these touches tell me our season is complete.

Today is my favorite day of the year. Nothing surpasses Christmas Eve as I have grown older. Everything is ready. There is a sense of anticipation in the air. Tomorrow, the gifts will be torn to pieces, sometimes literally as my grandson gets so excited. That's what happens to a four-year-old on Christmas day. I look forward to his reactions as much as anything. It is the sparkle of Christmas I remember through his eyes, the times from my past where Christmas has always been a joyous occasion.

There have been many changes in my life over the years, but that has not dampened my spirit. My Sainted Parents are no longer with us but they live on in my memories. Christmas was always a joyous time in their home and I have always tried to live up to their model. This year as well with the passing of my dear brother Donald (North of 50, to many of you), I knew there may be yet another challenge to face for the season. Yet, my heart still holds this day special, something he would be proud of, not only for myself but for his family.

May your Christmas be filled with joy and peace.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Ties that bind

Many of us have preferences that come about, likely because of what we do, or, more specifically, what we do for a living. I for one, almost never wear ties. I simply have no reason to. My work clothes consist of khakis and a polo with my company logo. It's not that I don't feel 'special' when I don a stylish strip of cloth the covers up the buttons on my dress shirt.

Oh, I wear them when I am forced; weddings, funerals, but little else. And for that reason, I own, or did own, about four ties. That's all a guy really needs, isn't it? My ties are suited to the dress clothes I wear. I own one suit, a gray double-breasted job that I've had for eighteen years. I suppose the good thing about that is I can still fit in a suit that is older than a high school student.

But, there's the rub as I have recently been given some of the neckties that my dear brother, North once owned. Now, North was an office person as his job was housed in one of the great towers of mankind. Although he was never outlandish in dress, he had a slight flair for color as evidenced in his ties. My personal ties are gray/black and red. Yep, that's it. His, well, that's another story. I am now the proud owner of purple ties with strips and others that I couldn't tell you what the patterns are. They are, however dignified as was my brother. There are one or two that are a tad wide. Perhaps they'll come back in style.

I am excited about a couple others he most assuredly cherished. As he was certainly proud of his Irish roots, yep, you guessed it, I have some leprechaun or clover green ties that have their own brogue accent. As well, being that North has a full collection of nearly every Santa ever created, I am the proud owner of cheery Christmas ties. I'm not sure where I will wear them, but I'm working on it. One mustn't  let the Christmas season go uncelebrated.

Perhaps I'll get to go to an ugly Christmas tie party. It'll be fun. At least I won't be sweating beneath an ugly Christmas sweater. North had too much class for that, thankfully.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

What's a business for?

Many of you know that I am a retail manager by day, blogger and author by night, unless of course I have to work at night, then the roles are reversed. Such is the life of a retailer.

After many years of this profession, 30 years to be exact, I've had my ups and downs. I've had good jobs and not-so-good jobs. Many times, the success of the company you work for determines if the job is worth having. I've had several go under beneath me and some that came very close. No company lasts forever. Just look at the recent troubles of several once-mighty stores such as Sears, JCPenney and KMart. It's debatable if any or all of them will make it in the long run.

Why do I bring this up? It's simple. I don't agree with all the negative attacks on companies such as Wal-Mart concerning their business operations and practices. As a matter of transparency, I do not work for Wal-Mart and never have. Although they have a store within three miles of my home, I rarely venture there. That particular company just seems to be a lightning rod for those who are dissatisfied with themselves or society.

There are plenty of other companies that pay their employees the wages that Wal-Mart pays theirs, often many who pay less. Many hospitals pay the cleaning staff and other non-skilled positions minimum wage and then ask for volunteers to man the information desk, visit patients and fill other positions. You don't hear people complaining about that, do you? The business of a company is to make a profit; to stay in business. Payroll and benefits is typically the number one cost any business faces. That's also why when times are tough, that's the first place to look for dollars to cut.

Many of the 'complainers' rail about the Wal-Mart 1%ers; the family of Sam Walmart. So they are billionaires, so what? Don't blame them for being in the right place at the right time. The U.S. is not a society, or shouldn't be, where those who have become a success should feel bullied into taking care of others just because groups are yelling at the top of their lungs. I'm sure there is a Wal-Mart foundation of some sort that provides significant assistance to charities. I'm fairly certain that the Walmart family contributes substantially to that and likely others.

In many places, towns and burgs, that company is likely a significant employer. That in itself is a substantial investment in the community. Many companies reinvest back into the communities they serve and it's not always celebrated with press releases and hoopla. Yet, it still happens. How many of those who complain about huge companies ever acknowledge the good they do? Few.

Corporations need to be profitable. That's the bottom line. No profits, no company. No company, no jobs. If you don't like the way a company runs their business, don't be their patron, but then don't complain if they pull out of your community and some of the jobs dry up. There are many who would love to have those jobs. Entry-level jobs are just that; entry-level. Want a raise? It's up to you to do more than the bare minimum just to get by. Entry-level jobs were never meant to be the primary income of families. I understand that at times, things happen that are not within one's control. However, there are many who simply think they deserve a larger paycheck but do nothing to go out and earn it. Sadly, that is too typical of many in the workforce. I have experienced it for many years in this line of work.

For those who do nothing more than complain about others who don't help, how much time did you donate to a local charity this year? I'm sure Wal-Mart and other corporations did more than you know. Is it always as simple as that? No. Are they perfect? Hardly, but then neither is any of us.