I Can’t Afford to Save any more Money

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I went grocery shopping with my wife the other day.  The store had several sales going on:  buy one get one free, buy two get three free, two for five dollars, etc.

As my wife placed each of these items in our cart, I’d ask “do we need that?”  And she looked at me like I was daft and said, “but it’s buy two get three free.” Needless to say, we had a cart full of groceries by the time we made it to the checkout lane.

Yes, I recognize that I am the cart boy.  My job is to push the cart and keep my opinions to myself (Obviously, I need a bit of retraining).  Still, I can’t help wondering how much money do we have to save before we’re not really saving money?  Buy two get three free is an awesome deal, but what if you only need one?  Hopefully, we’ll never need five boxes of Pepto-Bismol.   It would be okay if it were extra bonus packs of Reese’s Cups—Just saying.

I can’t really complain (Even though I am).  My wife doesn’t go shopping all that often and is a frugal shopper.  She actually trained me on how to not spend money(Hmmm, there’s a lesson in there somewhere).  She likes to come home from one of her discount stores and show me the receipt that states how much money she saved.

Whoever came up with that scheme is a genius.  You Saved 23 dollars!  Of course, you had to spend two hundred to do it, but that’s beside the point.

I guess I’m just becoming one of those crotchety old men who complain about money.

Don’t touch the thermostat! 

Turn off that light switch—it ain’t free you know.

What’s wrong with those shoes that a little duct tape won’t fix? 

It tears my stomach up, I tell you (Maybe I will need all that Pepto after all).

I’m not sure how this happened.  I used to blow money like it was going out of style, and now I wear my slippers until I can feel the floor through the soles (and will go through a couple of rounds of duct tape before admitting defeat).

I guess we all have a little Scrooge in us, and it gets worse with age.  I think I need a vacation from it all.   Wonder if I can get a cheap flight to Vegas?  I hear you can drink for free while playing the penny slots.

 

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Get it While it’s Hot!

Last weekend was nice here is Charlotte.  I spent the day working in the yard and got the vegetable garden planted.

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My wife is especially excited about the spinach.  I can’t let her have too much of it though or she might go Popeye on my butt.

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Of course, a nice day outside isn’t complete without a fire.

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I’m not stirring up that fire for my health.  The pan on the bench in the background is the smores fixings.  They’re not quite Reese’s Cups, but they’ll do in a pinch.

Speaking of fire, this is the last day of my red hot book sale on Amazon.  Head on over and get my Kingdom of Haven series for a great discount price.  The Order of the Wolf is still free until the end of the day and the rest of the series is discounted.  Free is good, but a discount isn’t bad either.

Ahem, after last weekend, I need to buy some more marshmallows.

 

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Here’s a Treat

 

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Check out my new strawberry pot!  There’s nothing better than a freshly picked strawberry.  We’ve harvested about 10 berries so far.  Most of them didn’t make it into the house, but that’s the point.  You gotta have something to snack on while you’re out in the yard.

If you’re not into strawberries, check out my Amazon promotion going on right now for the Kingdom of Haven Series. . . Delicious.

Kingdom of Haven

 

 

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Check out my Stuff!

I will be running an Amazon promotion on the Kingdom of Haven series for the next 5 days.  The Order of the Wolf is free, Stenson Blues is $.99, and The Eastern Factor is $1.99.

I tend to write towards the dark and gritty.  If you’re not quite sure if they’re your cup of tea, check out my quick book descriptions:

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Having a mid-life crisis, shit happens, and people die.

 

 

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Coming of age, more shit happens, and more people die.

 

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Life’s a bitch, then you marry one, and then you die.

 

If you like gritty mercenaries, strong women, and dirty politics give them a read.

What was I thinking?  That sounds pretty light and cheery.

 

 

 

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What a Difference a Bed Makes!

My Bed

How often do you think about your bed?  For me, it starts creeping into my thoughts about the time yawns become the main part of the evening conversation.  If thinking about beds is yawn-inducing, does that make it a boring subject?  Or maybe relaxing? (yeah, that sounds right)

So I start to think about relaxing in bed, and the yawns take over my brain.  Next thing you know, I’m tucked in up to my neck and snoring away.  (I can only go off my wife’s insistence that I snore.  I’ve never heard it.)  I’m one of those “my head hits the pillow and I’m out” kind of sleepers.  For some reason, my wife has to turn on the television and set the volume at a million to go to sleep.  It’s almost like she’s trying to drown out some noise.

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Anyway, I don’t think about the bed until it’s time to go off to la-la land (Not that stupid movie, but the real la-la land where I can fly and all the women think I’m hot).  I never thought about the bed being an issue until one evening a few weeks ago when my wife asked me about my back.

I’ve had back problems for the last couple of years.  I suffered from a bulging disc (which is better now), and as part of the doctor’s workup found out I have arthritis in my back.  So my back hurts most days, to one degree or another, and I just try to ignore it.  I gave her my standard answer, but this time she didn’t let it go.  “It’s the bed,” she said.

“The bed?”  My writer brain immediately went off on a tangent.  The bed is part of a conspiracy to take over the world.  Once we’re asleep, it sends an inter-dimensional signal to its lizard overlords who open a portal to our bedroom and manipulate our backs.  That way we won’t be able to fight back when they invade.

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“I think it’s worn out.”

Oh, yeah it could be that too.  I mean, we bought it 18+ years ago.  There are divots where we sleep.  Maybe it could be the bed is worn out.

So we bought a new mattress about a week ago, and wow, what a difference a bed makes!  Who knew you could wake up in the morning without a backache?

If your bed is more than ten years old, and your back has been giving you problems, you may want to replace it (The mattress, not your back, unless you have cyborg fantasies).  You can fly with the hot chicks every night (don’t tell my wife), and wake up with a (relatively) pain-free back.

Of course, it takes me a few more minutes to fall asleep now, because I keep one eye peeled for those inter-dimensional lizards (just in case).

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It Takes a Village?

I’ve heard the expression: “It takes a village to raise a child.”  This isn’t entirely correct.  Children are raised every day by single parents or a set of parents with no external support.  Some of those children turn out fine, and some children who grow up with a huge support network have major issues.  While the adage isn’t totally correct in all instances, I believe it is a good concept.  Basically, we all need help at some point or another to succeed.

But when should we ask for help?

For me, the “It takes a Village” concept is hard to put into practice because it appears to be in direct opposition to another important concept: the Work Ethic.

Work Ethic:  a belief in work as a moral good: a set of values centered on the importance of doing work and reflected especially in a desire or determination to work hard.

While the definition of Work Ethic does not say “do it alone,” it does imply a person should work hard as a moral obligation.  The way many of us interpret the idea of Work Ethic is that if only I work harder, I can attain my goal.  I do believe this can be the case in many instances, but there are times when hard work alone will not get you there.  Sometimes you need help.  Unfortunately, a person with a strong work ethic equates asking for help as weakness.

Asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness.

I’ve seen this expression thrown around by people who advocate for the “It takes a Village” concept.  It doesn’t quite ring true for me.  In order to ask for help, you must first recognize your weakness, acknowledge it, and then seek help to overcome it.  Because of this, I prefer the following quote:

Be strong enough to stand alone, smart enough to know when you need help, and brave enough to ask for it.

I have a hard time asking for help, because of that Work Ethic thing (Yes, I will drive around the block as many times as it takes before I’ll ask for directions, but that’s a different issue).  I do normally recognize when I need help, but I get stuck in that “if I only work harder” line of thinking.

Writing is one of those areas where you can’t do it alone.  Of course, you can sit alone at your desk or in a coffee shop to write, but you cannot learn to write a great novel alone.  It takes the help of fellow writers either through critique partners or some similar means.

I’ve recently come to realize that I cannot promote my books alone either.  Yes, I can hire someone to run a blog tour, and give away free books, but that only goes so far.  In order to truly promote my writing, It Takes a Village.

So this is my request.  If I am to reach my goal and make writing a full-time adventure, I need your help.

Friends, neighbors, and (dare I hope) fans, if you haven’t yet purchased any of my books you can find them here.

Hey, I’m a bit on the frugal side. If you’re anything like me, you probably wait for the sale before you buy.  Well, it just so happens that I have a 5-day promotion on Amazon starting on April 15th.  The Order of the Wolf will be Free, Stenson Blues on sale for .99, and The Eastern Factor for 1.99.

 

Kingdom of Haven

If you are one of the few who has bought a book of mine or the not so few who have received a free copy, please leave me a review on Amazon or Goodreads. (or anywhere else where I can find it)  Reviews are worth more than gold in the writing world.

If you are looking to join a village, you can join my newsletter mailing list here.

Also, my next book, Half-hand will be published in time for Christmas and I am currently seeking Beta Readers.  You can sign up here.

Writing is my passion, if reading is yours, give my books a try.

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Rules of the Road

Traffic Light

I’ve driven all across the country, and I have taken the driver’s test in several states over the years (California was, by far, the hardest test).  I had to renew my driver’s license this past year, which was basically an online renewal form.  It got me wondering how I’d fare with the driver’s test today?  Have the rules changed in recent years?  Driving around Charlotte, it sure seems like it.

So in case you’ve never driven in the Queen City, here are the rules of driving in my neck of the woods:

  1. Proper Lane Etiquette
    1. The left lane is for normal driving and the right lane is for passing unless you are coming up on an exit and then you must drive 10 mph less than the speed limit.
    2. If it is a three-lane road, the left lane is the driving lane, the middle is for passing, and the right lane is for Sonic the Hedgehog style driving (you must be going twice the speed limit and you earn kudos if you do it with your cell phone attached to your chin).
  2. Stop Signs
    1. Stops signs are optional.
    2. At a four-way stop, whoever hits the gas first has the right of way.
  3. Traffic Circles
    1. Unlike stop signs, you must come to a complete stop at every traffic circle (It is okay to stop here and check your cell phone for text messages).
    2. When you decide to go, make sure to do it slowly so that everyone must wait for you to find your exit from the circle.
  4. Traffic Lights
    1. As is common in many areas: Green means go, Yellow means go faster, and Red means floor it.
    2. Stopping at a red light is not required for the first 15 seconds or 3 cars whichever occurs first.
    3. No Turn On Red signs are just for decoration.
  5. Left Turn Lanes (Designated left turn lanes have the most complicated rules of all)
    1. If you are the first driver waiting in the left turn lane, you must play with your cell phone while you wait.
    2. Once the light changes to a Green Arrow, you must meticulously time your approach to the intersection so that yours is the only vehicle that can make the green light.
    3. The normal red light rules don’t apply. Once the first car perfectly times the green light, 5 more cars are allowed to run the red arrow (there is no time limit).
    4. If the light changes to a Yellow Flashing Arrow instead of a Green Arrow, you have the right of way as long as you beat the oncoming traffic to the intersection. Actually, it is like a game of Red Rover.  As long as the chain of turning cars is not broken by oncoming traffic, they maintain the right of way.
  6. Finally, using your cell phone while driving is standard practice. If you are not playing with your cell phone while driving then you are a novice and should be sent back to driving school.

I guess it’s a good thing I could do an online renewal.  I’m not sure I would pass the test today.

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