After playing with different templates and backgrounds, I didn't like anything I ended up with. I have therefore decided to leave things as they are for awhile. I may change the whole look of the blog at some point in the future. But not now.
If I could tweak things to implement all the very good suggestions I would. But blogger won't let me without changing the entire template. So as difficult as it is for some of you to read some of the peripherals, the primary purpose of this blog is - the posts. With black text and a white background, it can't be made any clearer than that.
That said I appreciate all the input. In the future if I have a poll I may change the blog template just to make the poll more readable.
Thank you all again for your suggestions and crticisms. And thanks for sticking with me and continuing to support my efforts.