The holiday season took a toll on me. I’ve never been good at refusing sweets and other items that appear on kitchen the table. Holiday meals are times when I overeat, and not doing so is hard when everything smells and tastes so much better than at other times of
the year. As a result, the pounds have piled on, and my goal is to lose them before warm weather returns. It seems as if this is a never-ending battle.

Even as a child, I was “healthy.” Mother cooked plenty of food, and since I never wanted to hurt her feelings, I dutifully ate the fried chicken and biscuits and pancakes and pies. Before long, my body ballooned. My appetite grew ever stronger, and I kept cramming stuff in my mouth at meals and in between. My brother Jim developed a case of hepatitis in elementary school. Mother took us both to the doctor to make sure I didn’t have the illness too. The doctor looked at Jim, gave him medicine and prepared a B-12 shot because he knew Jim would lose weight as his appetite ebbed. He looked at me and told Mother, “This one needs to go on a diet.” How ironic that one twin was going to be too thin and the other was too fat.

Some of the weight disappeared while I was in high school, but not enough to make much of a difference. At the beginning of my senior year, I began my own diet. Each day for lunch, I ate a peanut butter, mayonnaise, and mustard sandwich. The rest of the time I substituted food with a coke and a cigarette. In no time, I’d dropped 30 pounds and several inches from my waist.

During college I managed to keep the weight off. Of course, a steady diet of bologna sandwiches helped. My sister-in-law cooked meals for me several times of week, but the walking across campus to classes provide plenty of exercise to burn those calories.

Marriage put some pounds on my frame. I weighed 145 when Amy and I said our “I do’s,’ and before I could blink my eyes, 10 pounds jumped on me. That was all right since it didn’t add to my waist size. However, as the years went along, I gained weight in the cold months, only to lose it when summer arrived.

With each successive year, the losing of extra pounds became harder. I discovered that more hours of work in the yard or on some project were required to melt the weight. At one point, I left the teaching profession for about 3 years. I sat in the car traveling to accounts or sat in an office and called clients all day. Before long, I looked as if someone had stuck an air hose in me and overfilled my body.

Not long ago, I worked at a job three days a week. During those days, I averaged between 10-12 miles of walking. I could eat anything I wanted and never had to worry about gaining an ounce.

It’s been several months since I worked at the place. Now, I do some walking, but much of the time, I sit in a classroom and watch students. That sedentary lifestyle allows the pounds to once again pile on. My clothes feel tight, and lethargy, aching hips, and creaking ankles only make exercising more difficult.

I’m back on the Weight Watcher diet. It works as well as anything I’ve ever tried, and I like
being in control of what I eat. I hope that by spring I will have once again lost the extra weight. One things for sure: I feel like a yo-yo with these gains and losses.  


Mother Nature discovered that we humans were much too happy with the balmy temperatures occurring in January. She sent a surge of cold air back through the south the next month just to remind us what season it actually was and to dampen our spirits. It’s on these cold mornings that I remember life as a child. More to the point, I recall the breakfast menus that we had at home.

Mother had a job each day of making sure three boys were out of bed. Jim was not such an easy one to awaken, so Mother would speak to me and and instruct me to “wake up your brother.” During our early years, we ran barefooted across wood floors to the coal stove in the living room. There we would dress quickly because the house never warmed by that one stove.

We’d make our ways to the kitchen afterwards. Most mornings the only light that was on was the one on the top of the stove. The oven was warming, and we stood in front of it to thaw out just a bit. Before she went to the one bathroom in our house to get ready for work, she’d made breakfast of

some kind.

Oatmeal was always good to start the day. We dumped half a truckload of sugar and a boulder of butter into the stuff and stirred it together. Before long, the sugar rush hit, and we bounced around the house for the rest of the morning. Little did we know that in a short time the sugar would be gone and that we’d crash and burn.

Sometimes, Mother made cream of wheat for breakfast. No matter how hard she worked, the gruel always had lumps. We’d dish out a helping of it and once again add
sugar and butter. However, no amount of additives ever dissolved the clots in our bowls. We ate around them or held our breaths before biting into one of those disgusting things.

The best weekday breakfast item was cinnamon toast. Mother spread butter on each slice of white bread and the topped them with cinnamon and spoonfuls of brown sugar. After a few minutes under the broiler, the toast was ready. I still remember the taste, but for some reason haven’t been able to recreate it during my adult years.

On weekends, breakfast became a feast. Mother took the time on Saturday mornings to fry bacon or link sausages. Then she’d mix up a bowl of batter and cook stacks of pancakes. Even better, sometimes she pulled out a big, heavy contraption and make waffles for us. The taste of those waffles has never been reproduced anywhere.

We’d take our mounds of food to the table and “doctor” them. Sometimes, we turned the bottle upside down
and wait as a small river of white Karo syrup oozed over the pancakes. Not until a few years later did we ever taste dark syrup. On occasion, one of us would retrieve a jar of homemade blackberry jelly from the refrigerator. Globs of the stuff were dumped onto plates, and then they were slathered over every inch of pancake.

These days, breakfast is much healthier. Amy and I eat eggs with a couple of slices of bacon. On some mornings, we simply grab a bowl of cereal before heading out the door. Yes, on rare occasions, we even make a run to Hardee’s for something. None of it equals the wonderful tastes of things Mother prepared that remain in my memory. I suppose the dash of love that she added to breakfast items made the so good, and maybe one day, I’ll see her again and ask if she has time to make me a stack of waffle...just one more time.  


As I’ve stated before, I’m a political junkie. For a week, my attention had been directed toward the committee hearings for those individuals who had been selected to become heads of the various agencies. Those sessions were spectacles that left Americans all the more troubled about the future or our country.

For one thing, the nominees are wealthy folks. For instance, Betsy DeVos, the candidate to
head up the Department of Education, has a financial worth of approximately $5 billion. Rex Tillerson, the State Department candidate, has approximately one-half billion dollars in assets. Even the Treasury nominee, Steven Mnuchin, is wealthy beyond what we regular folks can fathom. Now, wealth isn’t a bad thing, but it does bring up some questions.

I thought President Trump was going to “clear the swamp.” Instead, he’s merely replaced one set of rich people with another. I’ve yet to see a single candidate who is what I call an “average Joe.” These people have worked hard; I grant them that. However, I’ve worked hard all my life as well but haven’t come close to making a fraction of the fortunes these candidates have. No, I’m not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but like you, I’m not the dullest either. These proposed leaders have tricks up their sleeves for making huge sums, and they aren’t about to let us know what they are.

The problem with these leaders is that they just don’t understand the struggles of middle class folks. How could they? You and I work hard to pay for a home; we fret when a new car has to be purchased. Our depression deepens when we see the cost of health insurance. These department heads have no such concerns. They have the best healthcare; they live in mansions that would house our humble abodes multiple times; chauffeurs ferry them from place to place. Their children attend the best private schools and then go on to any college that they choose without fear of not being able to cover tuition. Their lives are so far different from ours that they can’t conceive of the daily worries that we face.

Many of these folks also have conflicts of interests. DeVos has long been a proponent of vouchers and charter schools and private schools. Neither she nor her children have ever attended a public school. She wants to take moneys from public schools so that children can use it for admission to a private school. In case you hadn’t thought of it, that money is taken from the funding of public schools. They will have a shortfall, and guess who will have to make up the difference: taxpayers. Your fair share will increase so private schools and charter schools can make money off students.

Steve Mnuchin owned a bank that foreclosed on thousands of homeowners who found themselves upside down after the economy went south in 2007. His bank foreclosed on one
elderly woman who had a short payment by 27 cents. Another homeowner was faced foreclosure because it was said she didn’t live in the house. However, when she was served with those papers, the processor handed them to her at the door of that residence.

Health and Human Services candidate Tom Price bought stocks in companies and then voted on legislation that proved to be advantageous to them. He denied that he’d done it directly, instead saying that a broker of his trust made the purchases. Then, under further questioning, he admitted that he contacted the broker with instructions to buy the thousands of dollars worth of stock.

Do these folks have our best interests in mind? I just don’t know. DeVos is dead set on crippling public education. She champions the use of vouchers that allow students to attend schools that have the same or less success rates with students. Rex Tillerson was
awarded a friendship medal by Russia’s Putin, and it’s not clear if he is in favor of continuing sanctions against the country for its hacking of our election and invading Crimea. Tom Price has long advocated the end of Obamacare, even though his new plan does not insure coverage for all people. Instead, he pledges to make coverage “available” for everyone, not assuring that anyone will be able to afford it. He also has pushed for cuts to Medicare and Medicaid. His plan is to cut $1.7 trillion from Social Security and Medicare.

Most probably, these rich folks will become leaders of the major departments. What they do might well affect the welfare of us common folks. I’m more than a little worried about the future. Some might say we must cut entitlements, and to that I say Social Security is not an entitlement; we have paid into the fund every time we drew a paycheck. It is a savings account that the government declared that we have. If our contributions had been wisely invested over the years, we’d have more than enough to see us through our senior years.

This is not a Democrat versus Republican issue. It’s a matter of qualified individuals leading the departments of government in such a way that takes care of ALL Americans, not just the wealthiest of us. Be vigilant and call them out when their actions aren’t in the best interests of the common man.