Nick Russell

No Immediate Plans

 Posted by at 12:42 am  Nick's Blog
May 222018

I wasn’t surprised that three or four people contacted me after reading yesterday’s blog to tell me they were so excited that Terry and I are going to be RVing again, at least on a part-time basis. Obviously they didn’t read the entire blog, or else they have short-term memory loss. I’m not sure which.

So, just to clear the air, no, we did not buy the Class B motorhome pictured in the blog, or any other RV. If we were to buy something, it would probably be a rig along those lines, but we have no plans to do so. Nor do we plan to go back on the road. We have adjusted quite comfortably to our life here on the central coast of Florida.

We do plan to do some traveling, taking our Chrysler Pacifica and doing the hotel thing along the way. But we have no immediate plans to go anywhere in particular. We talked about going up to Savannah, Georgia and Charleston, South Carolina for a few days, but several people who live in the Charleston area told me there is some kind of major bridge construction project going on near the historic downtown area which has completely snarled traffic. So I need to check that out before going up that way.

A number of friends and readers have invited us to stop in for a visit if we pass through their area, or to at least contact them and get together for lunch or dinner or something. We appreciate all the offers, but as I told my buddy Greg White last night, our plans are set in Jell-O, and it’s not even firm Jell-O. So please don’t plan your summer around us coming by to visit.

In other news, I have been able to get my Dragon NaturallySpeaking dictation program to work, after a fashion. Basically, I can use it and it works fine, but if I close the program when I’m done with it, it will not restart. Each time I have to completely delete it from my computer and reinstall it. I have wasted a lot of time waiting on hold for their tech support to basically tell me they don’t know what the problem is and researching various Dragon forums and user groups. I finally gave up, and now when I’m done dictating something I just minimize the program and go on to whatever I’m doing next, letting it run in the background.

In the last two or three days I got somewhere around 10,000 more words done on my new Big Lake mystery. I’m working hard to get it out sometime in June. And as often happens when I’m writing a book, the story is veering off in a direction I didn’t see coming. Sometimes my characters just take over and do their own thing, with no regard to what I had in mind.

And since the weatherman says all it is going to do is rain, and rain, and rain for at least the next week, that’s probably what I’ll be doing today, and tomorrow, and the next day.

Terry has been busy on a weaving project, but that didn’t stop her from finding time to whip up some yummy strawberry filled breakfast rolls the other day. They are a new recipe she tried, a variation from her regular cinnamon rolls, which are the best you’ll ever eat.

These were darned good and I sure wouldn’t want to discourage her from making them again. But I don’t think they were quite as delicious as her cinnamon rolls. They are a hard act to follow.

She also made waffles for breakfast Sunday morning. I never really cared for waffles, but my only exposure to them were things like Eggos or whatever some breakfast buffet had to offer. There is no comparison at all. Like everything she cooks, Terry’s waffles are 100% made from scratch and melt in your mouth.

No, I’m never going to be a skinny man, but that’s okay, I can live with that as long as she keeps cooking and baking.

Darn it, it’s after midnight and now I’m hungry!

Thought For The Day – Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could put ourselves in the dryer for ten minutes, then come out wrinkle-free and three sizes smaller?

May 212018

Let’s have a little experiment today. I’m going to tell you three things and write a short paragraph about each of them. Only one of those things is true. It’s up to you to decide which one it is. Okay, ready to play?

1) I seldom play the lottery because the odds of winning are pretty slim. But every once in a while when I’m in a convenience store paying for something and I have a buck or so in change coming, I’ll buy one of those scratch off tickets. Yesterday I bought gas at the local stop and rob and my credit card wouldn’t work at the pump so I had to go inside to pay. Just for the heck of it, I bought a lottery ticket. Back in the Explorer, I scratched the little squares off and I won $5,000. Hey, it’s not a fortune, but it will pay for a nice cruise!

2) Terry is a cat person and I’m a dog person, but we thought we had reached the point in our lives where we didn’t want the responsibility of a pet anymore. All that changed the other day when I saw an ad online for German Shepherd puppies. If you know me, you know I love German shepherds, so we went to take a look, “just for the heck of it.” Now we’ve got a lovable little bundle of fur peeing on newspapers and chewing on our shoes.

3) We thought our RVing days were over when we bought the house and sold our Winnebago diesel pusher, but as it turns out hitch itch is a disease you can’t get over very easily. We will never go fulltime again, but we still want to travel, so we are the proud new owners of this beautiful 2010 Pleasure Way Class B motorhome.

Okay, which one of those three is true? Think about it before you answer. Did we come into some unexpected money. Hey, it could happen! Do I have a new puppy to love? You all know how much I love getting a puppy fix. Or do we have a motorhome parked in our driveway. Think about. Which is it?

The answer is, none of them are true! What? Wait a minute, didn’t I say one of those three things are true? Yeah, I did. Guess what? I lied.

Can you believe it? People actually lie on the Internet. You’re kidding me, right? It was on the Internet so it has to be true. They can’t put things on there that aren’t true. Everybody knows that.

Yeah, people do put stuff on the Internet that they make up. Why do they do it? I don’t know. I think sometimes they just want to stir up trouble. Or maybe they just want to see how many people will actually believe the BS they’re throwing down. Or, they may be idiots who really believe what they say even if there’s no basis in fact. But don’t worry, if you put it out there, people are going to pick it up and start spreading it around.

A case in point is the current flap over Pilot and Flying J truck stops. According to some clown who posted something online, he is a professional truck driver and he pulled into a Flying J somewhere and they were taking down the American flag. He claims when he asked why, an employee told him it was because the company does not want to offend foreigners. That’s all it took. His nonsense went viral and Flying J started getting flooded with emails from irate people saying they will never do business with such an anti-American company again.

I help moderate a large (52,000+ member) RVing group on Facebook and I can’t tell you how many times myself and the other administrators have taken down links or stories about this. Yesterday alone I received 14 emails from people wanting me to help spread the word and put those traitors out of business. And that doesn’t count all the instant messages I got on Facebook saying the same thing!

Okay, here’s the real story. First of all, Flying J is an American business started by a Korean War veteran 60 years ago. Here is their statement about this issue, right from the horse’s mouth: Our current policy is that an American flag can only be displayed at our locations if it can be flown according to military protocol. What many may not know is there are very specific rules and protocols to properly fly a flag; everything from how it’s raised and flown, to how it’s lit at night. Our goal is to ensure we show the flag the respect it deserves at our locations that fly the red, white, and blue. We are currently working to ensure that the flag poles at the locations that have a flag pole are repaired and in proper working condition to do so.

Flying J is very RV friendly and a popular fuel stop for RVers. Many of their locations include RV fuel islands, designated RV parking lanes where you can overnight for free, and RV dump stations. Pilot/Flying J is also a contributor to many charitable organizations that benefit veterans, including Bunker Labs, Fisher House Foundation, Operation Honor Guard, Special Operations Wounded Warrior, and Wreaths Across America.

Folks, if you get this nonsense forwarded to you, just delete it. Don’t add to the problem by blindly forwarding it on to everybody in your mailing list. What if I had written something online saying that your business or the company that you work for is un-American? How might that impact you personally? What if I wrote something online that said you were a pedophile, or a deadbeat who didn’t pay your bills? How would you feel about that?

You don’t have to be the person who originally starts an Internet myth, but you are part of the problem if you forward it on. It takes all of two minutes to do some quick online fact checking before you click send or share on something. If you’re too lazy to do that, please do me a favor and unfriend me on Facebook and take me off your e-mail list.

Congratulations Dave Tousseau, winner of our drawing for an audiobook of Big Lake Honeymoon, the seventh book in my Big Lake mystery series. We had 93 entries this time around. Stay tuned, a new contest starts soon.

Thought For The Day – My people skills are just fine. It’s my tolerance for idiots that needs work.

May 202018

After reading yesterday’s blog post about my friend Jim Lewis and I installing a ceiling fan in our garage, a longtime reader from the Gypsy Journal and the blog, who attended several of our RV rallies, wanted me to tell about the time I was assaulted by a ceiling fan. Okay, but be forewarned. You may not want to drink anything while you’re reading this.

Before Miss Terry and I got together it was just myself and Magic, my 100+ pound protection trained German Shepherd being a couple of bachelors together. We lived in Lakeside, Arizona in the White Mountains, which is the setting for my Big Lake mystery series. For those of you not familiar with that part of the country, it isn’t like the Arizona that most people picture. At somewhere around 7,000 feet elevation, it’s located in the world’s largest stand of ponderosa pine trees, with dozens of lakes, a ski resort, and some of the best hunting and fishing in the west. The dense forests are populated with deer, elk, wild turkey, black bear, and all kinds of small game.

About the time I settled into bed one night, Magic got sick and I had to get up and let him out. I had a big fenced in back yard and I left the sliding glass door open enough that he could get in and out when he wanted to, then went back to bed.

Somewhere around 2 AM or so I woke up to Magic raising a ruckus. Not knowing what had set him off, but knowing he didn’t bark just for the heck of it, I walked into the living room and turned on the light. That’s when I found out what had him all riled up. There was a bat flying around the living room.

Please understand, I don’t have anything against bats on a personal level. I know they eat bugs and things like that, and even when I had hair I never believed that old wives’ tale about them making a nest in it. But I draw the line when they invade my living space. Think about it, bats are basically rats with wings. When I was in the Army the paratroopers wore wings on their uniforms, and Airborne was supposed to have the roughest and toughest guys around. So I’ve got an Airborne rat flying around my living room. No, that has to stop.

Now, I want you to picture this, and I warn you ahead of time, it’s not a pretty sight. I’m naked. Hey, don’t look at me that way, I warned you! I’m naked and I grabbed a broom and started swatting at the bat as he was swooping through the air above my head. Meanwhile, I’ve got this huge pissed off German Shepherd trying to bite anything that moves. So I’m swinging the broom with one hand while trying to keep the family jewels intact with the other. (This is why I warned you not to drink anything while you read this.)

Did I mention that I had a ceiling fan in the living room that ran all the time? 24 hours a day, seven days a week. So I’m chasing the bat, Magic’s teeth are like a chop saw looking for something to tear to shreds, and that’s when I ran into the ceiling fan with the broom. When the broom hit the fan blades they knocked it back down into my head four or five times in rapid succession, wap, wap, wap, wap before I had the good sense to drop it. Which was just before I dropped, too.

The next thing I knew Magic was licking my face and had this expression on his face like “what the hell did you just do?” I’m not sure what happened to the bat. I think he saw what was going on, took one look at me, and decided he needed to go find somebody with hair he could make a nest in. Or maybe he went back to the bat cave to tell his buddies about the crazy sight he had just seen. I’m pretty sure they didn’t believe him.

Today is your last chance to enter our Free Drawing for an audiobook of Big Lake Honeymoon, the seventh book in my Big Lake mystery series. To enter, all you have to do is click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name (first and last) in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn this evening.

Thought For The Day – I have days when my life is just a tent and a bag of peanuts away from a circus.

Another Project Done

 Posted by at 1:11 am  Nick's Blog
May 192018

My goal on Thursday was to get another 5,000 words done on my new Big Lake book since I’m behind schedule and trying to catch up. But it always seems like when I’m in a situation like that the gremlins go to work overtime.

My Dragon NaturallySpeaking dictation program suddenly began putting the type on the screen in red italic letters with a green highlight behind them. If I manually typed, everything was fine and normal, but using Dragon I couldn’t get rid of the oddball type. I tried everything I could think of, checked on Dragon’s help forum, went online looking for a solution, and nothing would work.

After three or four hours of frustration, I finally deleted the whole program and reinstalled it, thinking that would do the job. Wrong, fat boy! It took three tries to get the program to load back in to my computer, and then it would not accept the password. So I had to request a temporary password and change it. With that done it wanted me to register the program but when I tried, I kept getting a message saying there was a technical error on their end and to try again later. Long story short, it’s still not working right, and I only got 3,000 words done instead of the 5,000 I was aiming for.

Since I didn’t feel like tackling that mess again yesterday, and it was still too wet outside to work on our retaining wall project, my buddy Jim Lewis came over and we installed a new ceiling fan in the garage. When we first bought this place it had an anemic 48 inch ceiling fan in the garage that only worked on one speed and was on its last legs. It didn’t seem to move any air at all. While we were at Lowe’s last week, we found a six speed Slinger V2 fan with a 72 inch blade spread. That ought to move some air!

I had never installed a ceiling fan before, and I don’t think Jim had either, but it wasn’t all that hard. Standing on the pontoon boat while we worked was a definite advantage. I turned off power to the old fan, unbolted it and disconnected the wiring, and it was time to start on the new one.

The only problem was, like with so many products these days, the instruction manual left a lot to be desired. But by looking at the pictures we figured it all out and were able to get it hung and wired up with no major problems. The original drop-down bar on the fan was only 6 inches long, but we bought a 12 inch one to use instead so it could get more airflow above it.

The fan is remote-controlled and there was some confusion with that because the instructions said to set its DIP switches to the desired position before using the remote control. But nothing in the instructions told us what the desired position was, so I decided to just leave it as it came and see what happened. I guess that worked, because the fan powered up and ran fine.

The reviews I read on the fan said that at the highest it was like standing in the middle of a hurricane. Well, not exactly. It moves a lot of air, and does the job we wanted it to do, but it’s not exactly a hurricane force wind.

Here is the completed job, LED light and all. Anytime we can do a project like this and nobody gets electrocuted or beheaded by the fan blades and we don’t burn the place down, I consider it a success.

So far over 70 people have entered our latest Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an audiobook of Big Lake Honeymoon, the seventh book in my Big Lake mystery series. To enter, all you have to do is click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name (first and last) in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn Sunday evening.

Thought For The Day – Getting older is such an adventure. Like, is this chest pain indigestion or a heart attack? I can’t wait to see if I’m alive tomorrow so I can find out!

Getting Prepared

 Posted by at 12:41 am  Nick's Blog
May 182018

Hurricane season officially begins here in Florida on June 1. That doesn’t mean we are going to have a hurricane of course, just that we are in the season when they are more likely to form. Some prognosticators are saying that they expect at least fourteen named tropical storms and hurricanes in 2018, and of them, they say seven will form over the Atlantic Ocean.

We were closing on our house in October of 2016 when Hurricane Matthew came through the area and did a lot of damage. And then last year Hurricane Irma wreaked havoc throughout the state. We could get hit again this year, or we could just have some tropical storms and nothing worse. Either way, we are starting to get prepared.

Yesterday I ordered two Honda EU2200i 2200-watt portable inverter generators from Amazon. These generators are very popular with RVers because they provide plenty of power, are super quiet, and sip gasoline. They can be linked together for parallel operation for heavy loads, if necessary. If the electricity goes out during a storm we want to be able to provide power to our refrigerator and a portable air conditioning unit until it is restored.

I also bought two 5-gallon gas cans, which I will keep full and on standby. The plan is also to have all three of our vehicles full of gas, and my pontoon boat has a 25 gallon fuel tank. So with a little bit of siphoning we should be able to have enough fuel to get by for a while if we have to. Having spent a lot of time boondocking when we were fulltime RVers, we know how to ration our power usage and get the most out of what we do have.

We are also going to start buying a few extra cases of bottled water to keep on hand, along with other non-perishables, and supplies like flashlight batteries and such. We don’t want to wait until the hurricane warning goes out and everybody is rushing to the stores in a panic.

With all that being said, we are not fools. If it looks like a powerful storm is coming our way we will do what we did during hurricanes Matthew and Irma – get the hell out of Dodge. And if we do evacuate, we plan to do it well ahead of the mad rush up the interstate among all the people who waited too long.

After reading yesterday’s blog about life coaches, one reader wrote to ask what these people expect to gain by it and if they are they hoping to make money from RVers who are new to the lifestyle and will pay life coaches to advise them for a fee. Yes, that’s what they are looking for, RVers to pay them for advice on everything from buying an RV to where to go and what to do when they get one. One “life coach” who sent me her press release and wanted me to post in the blog charges $500 a month to be able to contact her by email up to 50 times a month for advice.

At those rates, I think I’m in the wrong business, based upon how many people I give free advice to every month. If I charged that kind of money I could retire and live happily ever after. The only problem with that plan is having to deal with people who would be foolish enough to spend big bucks for information they can get for free just about anywhere. Come to think of it, I’ll just keep writing books. At least if my characters get to be too much of an annoyance I can kill them off.

Be sure to enter our latest Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an audiobook of Big Lake Honeymoon, the seventh book in my Big Lake mystery series. To enter, all you have to do is click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name (first and last) in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn Sunday evening.

Thought For The Day – Some people have had the common sense educated right out them.

May 172018

Lately I have been hearing from people asking me to promote their life coaching business to my readers. Apparently that’s the hot new thing to make a living without really working while you travel the country. Interestingly enough, none of them have spent much time, if any, on the road. Only one of them actually had an RV and it was a small thing you might consider for weekend camping, but not fulltiming or extended travel. But they are all suddenly “experts” on the RV lifestyle.

A couple of years ago it was online day trading in currency and commodities. Before that it was being a freight broker. And, of course, let’s not forget the ever-popular multilevel marketing schemes that proliferate faster than cockroaches in a New York City tenement. The great thing about all of these is you don’t really have to have any qualifications to do them. Just call yourself a day trader, or a freight broker, or a life coach, and you are one!

And that’s the problem right there. You could have a dozen failed marriages, six bankruptcies, a credit rating of -5, and be living in a tent, but you can call yourself a life coach and teach other people how to make their lives happy and successful. Give me a break!

I started my first weekly newspaper in Grays Harbor, Washington when I was in my mid-20s. I was stone cold broke and was flying by the seat of my pants because I didn’t have a clue as to what I was doing. I traded advertising for the use of  a print shop’s typesetting machine and darkroom, and sold enough ads to pay for the first issue. I made a profit on that issue, and put out a second issue, and it made a little bit more money than the first. I continued to make a profit, and a year later I opened a second weekly newspaper 50 miles away, and it too made money. Within three years I had seven papers on the Washington and Oregon coasts and was making a lot of money.

Then I joined the National Newspaper Association and went to their annual conventions, where an “expert” said you needed a million dollars to open a weekly paper, and that you could expect to run it in the red for 3-5 years. What? Nobody ever told me that!

I came home freaked out and so confused I couldn’t make even the simplest decision for the next month. I had no idea how far over my head I was until that expert told me so.

I finally contacted the expert and told him I didn’t know how I was doing it, but I was making a profit right from the start. He told me that was impossible. We talked for over an hour, and he ended up coming to the coast to see my operation. He spent five days with me and when he had looked at everything I was doing, he told me that it was impossible to launch a newspaper the way I had, and even more impossible to make the kind of profits I was in such a short time after startup. Absolutely impossible. Then he said, “Whatever you are doing, don’t change a damn thing! It just can’t work, but you are making it work.” After that, I stopped listening to experts.

A while later a self-made millionaire who owned several businesses that advertised with me told me something I have always remembered. He said to never take advice from anybody who wasn’t more successful and making more money than I was.

I don’t know where the sudden boom in life coaches for fulltime and wannabe RVers is coming from. Years ago I had a friend who was in the real estate business in Tucson, Arizona, and he said that whenever some shyster came around with one of those How To Get Rich In Real Estate With No Money Down seminars he always took the next week off and went on vacation. I asked him why, and he said because every real estate agent in town’s phone would be ringing off the hook with people wanting to know about properties that the owners were willing to give you money to take off their hands. Who knows? Maybe somebody had a seminar at an RV rally or something.

It’s Thursday, so it’s time for a new Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an audiobook of Big Lake Honeymoon, the seventh book in my Big Lake mystery series. To enter, all you have to do is click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name (first and last) in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn Sunday evening.

Thought For The Day – Old age and treachery always overcome youth and skill.

May 162018

 We have all heard of sleepwalking, and maybe we’ve experienced it ourselves, or with our children at some time. But did you know that there is such a thing as sleep driving? There is. If you don’t believe me, check out this article on the Psychology Today website.

And while sleep driving seems to be pretty rare, I suspect I may have been doing some of it recently. I know I went to sleep in Florida on Sunday night, but since then I would swear I’ve been in Seattle or some other place in the rainy Pacific Northwest. I told you before that the storms always seem to go north or south of us, or sometimes even split and go on both sides of our place here in Edgewater, but not this time around. It has rained, and rained, and rained some more. How much has it rained? There was a knock on my door yesterday afternoon and it was a couple of manatees from down in the canal near our house wanting to know if they could come in and dry off for little while!

It’s supposed to stay this way for most of the next week. But I’m not complaining, we certainly need it. We have already had several wildfires in the area because things have been so dry.

With all the rain, we have had to push our erosion control problem to the back burner for now. That’s okay, we’ll get back to it.

Yesterday Miss Terry had to have a blood draw at a lab near our house for an upcoming doctor’s appointment. Usually she’s in and out in about five minutes, but this time around there was a glitch because the doctor’s office had never sent over the orders. So she had to call them and have them fax the order to the lab, then wait for the folks there to get things entered into their system. So the normal five minutes turned into a little over half an hour.

When we left there we decided to have lunch at the Sand Bar Cafe in New Smyrna Beach. We have driven by the place a thousand times and always said we were going to stop, but never got around to it. That’s partly because they close at 3 PM, and since we are night owls we seldom go out for breakfast or lunch. But we were glad we did, because the food was very good and the service was excellent. Miss Terry had a vegetarian omelet with cottage fries, and I had a blackened chicken sandwich with French fries. Terry really liked her omelet and said she would come back again just for that. While my sandwich was good, I probably wouldn’t order it again because it was pretty heavy on the blackening. Next time around I think I’ll go for the grilled chicken sandwich instead.

This is love bug season in Florida. While they don’t bite or sting, these little black-and-red bugs are a real nuisance.

You can’t drive anywhere without getting them all over your vehicle. They seem to have a fetish for slamming into the front of automobiles while locked together in an amorous embrace.

They are a mess to clean up, and if you leave them on your car, something in their smashed bodies can mess up your paint job. They seem to show up twice a year, in May and again in September, and nobody is sad to see them go. When we came out of the restaurant there were so many of them swarming around our Explorer that a few actually made it inside with us before we got the doors closed.

We know a lot of RVers who travel south of the border, sometimes going as far down as Central America. Have you ever thought about trying that, or maybe living the ex-pat lifestyle that is popular with so many retirees because the US dollar stretches so far down that way? My friend Christy Pinheiro and her family are ex-pats and she is full of valuable knowledge about places to go and how to make the transition. Check out her e-books at this link for more information.

Thought For The Day – I thought the dryer made my clothes shrink. Turns out it was the refrigerator.

Six Out Of Eight

 Posted by at 12:23 am  Nick's Blog
May 152018

I wanted to give you an update on our erosion control project. In a blog a few days ago I said that we tried sinking the first two 5-foot lengths of PVC pipe into the ground and got them down a foot or so and ran into rock or something and couldn’t pound them in any deeper. It was over 90° and pretty miserable out there so we knocked off and decided to go back at it the next day.

When we started the next day, Miss Terry found a piece of rebar that somebody had abandoned a while back and she used that to probe the ground in a circle roughly the diameter of where we wanted to put the next pipe. That did an amazing job of making things easier for us!

It only took a couple of hours to sink the next four pipes a couple of feet into the ground when she had prepped each location with the rebar. It really made a difference! It also helped that it wasn’t nearly as hot on that second day. So now we have six PVC pipes in the ground and still need to put two more in.

I also want to get them all down to the same height before we fill them with concrete. The engineer friend of mine who has been advising us told me to get a 5 foot length of three-quarter inch PVC and to glue a garden hose fitting on one end, making a water drill out of it. Then he said to stick it all away down in the PVC we are installing until it’s touching the ground and turn the water on and let it run until it starts breaking the dirt up so we can get down deeper. This is the same method they use to sink pilings for piers, just on a smaller scale.

A couple of readers have asked why we didn’t use some kind of metal fence posts instead of the PVC. We considered that, but we are 800 yards from salt water and things like that don’t seem to last long in this environment unless they are galvanized. And, because it will be bordering the county’s ditch, they won’t let us use metal because they say it will eventually rust and pollute the water in the ditch as it flows into the canal and then the Indian River, which is part of the Intercoastal Waterway.

They have a lot of dumb rules here. For example, the fish cleaning station on our pier had a fresh water hose to rinse things off with. Some bean counter from an office someplace came along and said that wasn’t allowed because the fresh water would pollute the salt water of the Intercoastal. I guess nobody told them that rain is fresh water, and so is the water flowing from the storm ditches like the one next to us.

Some readers have asked me how I feel about the cold laser therapy that I’ve had done on my back recently. Overall, I’m very pleased with the results. I am feeling a lot better than I was before I started it, and I’m continuing with it three days a week. When you consider that just a few weeks ago I needed two canes to walk and was in agony, and now I’m out pounding those PVC pipes into the ground, I think it’s made a tremendous difference.

It started raining sometime Sunday night, and has been pretty much nonstop since then. The weatherman says we will get a few short breaks, but that’s pretty much what we can expect for the rest of the week. I’m thinking that all that rain has to have softened the ground up somewhat, and when we do get one of those lulls between the storms we plan to get those next two pipes pounded in so we can proceed to the next phase of the project once the weather clears up.

And in closing, here is another funny sign from our collection acquired traveling around the country as fulltime RVers.

Thought For The Day – Find a group of people who challenge and inspire you; spend a lot of time with them, and it will change your life. – Amy Poehler

A Great Unplanned Day

 Posted by at 12:38 am  Nick's Blog
May 142018

We were supposed to get a lot of rain yesterday and since we have been busy for several days in a row, Terry and I decided to just have a laid-back stay-at-home do-nothing day. That was the plan. But you know what they always say – if you want to hear God laugh, just make plans.

As I’ve mentioned before, we live in a very flaky area for Verizon cell phone service. Sometimes I will have four bars of 4G and two minutes later it will be down to one bar, or even no service at all, even though I haven’t moved. Sometimes Terry will have three or four bars of 4G on her phone, which is the exact same make and model as mine, and I will be sitting next to her and not have any service at all. Yesterday morning was typical of that; first my phone had turned itself off for some reason, even though the battery was fully charged, and once I turned it back on everything seemed okay for the first half hour or so. Then I got notice that I had text messages and voicemail, and they had come in quite a while earlier.

They were from our buddy Stu McNicol, a longtime friend from our RVing days, saying that he had come down from Tennessee to pick up some things that were in a storage shed on an RV lot that he and his wife Donna had recently sold. Stu said he and his friend Earl were headed back home, but wondered if we could meet someplace for lunch. Okay, scrap the plan for staying home and doing nothing, let’s go meet Stu and Earl!

They were in Leesburg and we were here in Edgewater, and it looked like a convenient place to meet would be Deland. I did a quick Yelp search and found a small family type restaurant called the Potato Patch, and texted the name and address to Stu. We were both about 25 miles away, and arrived within minutes of each other.

As always happens when Stu and I get together, there was a lot of good-natured banter and storytelling going on during our meal and afterward. Suddenly I realized that we were the only patrons still in the restaurant, and I asked the waitress what time they closed. She said at 2 PM, which was 45 minutes ago. Oops!

We got out of there so they could close up, then the four of us stood around the parking lot for another hour or so swapping lies. Here’s a picture of Terry, me, and Stu. He’s the skinny guy on the right. Since we last saw him, Stu has dropped something like 30 or 40 pounds. I’m the not skinny guy in the middle. I lost a lot of weight one time, but my fat missed me and hurried back.

And here’s a picture of Earl, myself, and Stu that Miss Terry took.

I call this picture American Gothic Reborn. Anytime Stu and I get together, it’s always good to have a shovel around because things tend to get deep. Terry has the leaf blower to move some of our hot air around so we don’t spontaneously combust.

Thanks for taking time out of your trip to visit with us, Stu and Earl. We really enjoyed it! Safe travels.

After we parted company, Terry and I stopped at Rivertown Antique Mall in downtown Deland to see what kind of goodies they might have. She found a very nice weaver’s pirn and also a big, thick, and very heavy antique cutting board at an unbelievable price.

On the way home we made a quick stop at Publix grocery store and got back to the house about 6 PM, a bit tired from our great unplanned day, but so glad we had the opportunity to get together with Stu and to meet Earl.

Congratulations Robert John, winner of our for an audiobook of A Shot In The Bark, the first book in my pal Carol Ann Newsome’s excellent Dog Park mystery series. We had 57 entries this time around. Stay tuned, a new contest starts soon.

Thought For The Day – The cost of a thing is the amount of life which is required to be exchanged for it, immediately or in the long run. – Henry David Thoreau

Happy Mother’s Day

 Posted by at 12:53 am  Nick's Blog
May 132018

Happy Mother’s Day to all of you Moms out there! I hope you have a wonderful day, surrounded by lots of love. If you have not called your Mom to tell her you love her yet today, go do it right now. She’s waiting to hear from you.

My own dear mother has been gone 26 years now, and I miss her every day. She was a sweet lady who was loved by everyone who ever met her. Life didn’t always treat her kindly. She outlived five of her eight children, but she overcame her heartbreak each time, picked up the pieces, and went on with her life.

She was a typical stay at home mother, like many women of her generation. She took pride in having a clean house and taking care of her family. She tried to learn to drive a car once, and her only time behind the wheel she put my dad’s DeSoto in a ditch. That was enough driving for her!

She was also as fierce as a mama bear defending her cubs. Long before I came along she had a hard birth bringing my brother Frank into the world and the doctor ordered her to stay in bed for several weeks. This was in 1931, and my dad was a young deputy sheriff. He had made some enemies among a group of local ne’er-do-wells who swore to get even. They knew where my parents lived and made it known they might show up some day when he was at work. Sure enough, they did, walking right into their bedroom. My mom was nursing the baby, but laid him beside her, pulled the .32 revolver my dad had left her from under er pillow, and fired a shot into the ceiling above their heads. As plaster rained down on them, she said the next shot would be in somebody’s head. I don’t think they heard her because they were too busy running over each other trying to get out of Dodge. In the weeks that followed, my dad sought out each of them and convinced them never to show their faces around the area again.

Mom never lost her sense of humor, no matter what happened. She passed that on to me, and it has helped me deal with plenty of setbacks in my own life. As the youngest of her children I was always her baby, even when I became a grown man with children of my own. I know I gave her fits sometimes, and though she was a short little round woman, she could hold her own.

I’ve been asked a couple of times to repost this story I told a few years back about my mom, and it’s the most hilarious memory of her I have, though it didn’t seem at that funny at the time.

When I was a young soldier, I was offered an opportunity to go to jump school and fell in love with the romantic idea of jumping out of airplanes for a living and wearing the coveted silver wings of an Airborne trooper. I called my dad to tell him that I had been accepted to jump school and his first words were “Why the hell would you want to jump out of a perfectly good airplane? Only bird shit and fools fall out of the sky.” His next words were “DO NOT tell your mother about this until you’re done! I have to live with the woman!”

So we kept it our secret until I made it through school, and then Dad brought Mom down to Fort Benning, Georgia for my graduation. She didn’t know what I was graduating from, just some Army training school. On graduation day we were to jump onto a drop zone where our families were waiting to see us. So bright and early on graduation morning my parents and a hundred other people were brought out in buses to the drop zone and ensconced on bleachers.

One officer after another made his little speech and then it was time for our dog and pony show. Far above, we got the word and began our jump. Meanwhile, on the ground, my mom had gotten frustrated waiting for her son to show up so she walked up to one of the men in uniform on the ground and said “My son is supposed to be graduating today. Do you know where he is?”

“Right up there, ma’am,” he told her and pointed to the paratroopers floating to the ground. That’s when all hell broke loose.

My chubby little mother pushed past the soldiers assigned to keep civilians off the drop zone and shook off their restraining arms as she stormed out into the middle of the graduates as they hit the ground and did their landing rolls, yelling “Nick, where are you? You get your butt down here right this minute! You know better than that! I didn’t raise you to break your legs doing something this stupid!” I swear I could hear her while I was still a hundred feet in the air!

And all the while, confused young paratroopers were getting to their feet and trying to collapse their chutes as she stormed up to them demanding to know where I was. Meanwhile, my dad (and much of the audience) was rolling around on the bleachers laughing their heads off.

Needless to say, when all the confusion died down, I had a lot of explaining to do! I’m not sure which put the fear of God into me more, facing my mom, or a hastily called meeting with our battalion commander. But she did calm down enough to pin on my wings, and I was the only graduate that day to get a standing ovation!

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. I love you, and I miss you.

Today is your last chance to enter our Free Drawing for an audiobook of A Shot In The Bark, the first book in my pal Carol Ann Newsome’s excellent Dog Park mystery series. To enter, all you have to do is click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name (first and last) in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn this evening.

Thought For The Day – Some mothers are kissing mothers and some are scolding mothers, but it is love just the same, and most mothers kiss and scold together. – Pearl S. Buck