Nick Russell

Feb 082019
 

Okay, Arizona. Enough of this nonsense! It was 31o here in Apache Junction overnight Wednesday night and about 40o at 9 a.m. And it was cold all day long. I highly disapprove! Meanwhile, when I talked to my son last night, he was bragging that it was in the low 80s at his place in Alabama. I’m writing his smart aleck butt out of the will!



We were on the go all day yesterday, including a wasted trip to a bookstore that had wanted me to bring some of my Big Lake books by, since they said they like to feature books from this region. As it turned out, they were only interested in carrying them if I would agree to be there for an author reading and book signing. I would have been okay with that, but the next time they had available was in March. If I have my way about it, I will be sitting on my pontoon boat, fishing, a long way from Arizona in March!

As some of you know, I collect police badges, as well as antique chauffeur, cab driver, and company employee badges. Poking around at a shop yesterday, I found this unique item. It was an ID badge for a freed black man on hire to a railroad from before the Civil War. I also found an excellent book on western ghost towns that will give me some great story fodder.

This afternoon my daughter Tiffany and her family are driving down from their home in Show Low for a visit, and I am sure looking forward to seeing her and the grandkids. And then, unless something unplanned comes up, we’ll be on the road Saturday, headed home. I am looking forward to that, too. But hopefully, it won’t be as fast as the rushed trip we made to Arizona.



And in closing, here’s a chuckle to start your day, from the collection of funny signs we see in our travels and that our readers share with us. Given our penchant for exploring antique and junk shops, it seemed fitting.

Thought For The Day – Life is short, make sure you spend as much time possible on the Internet arguing with strangers about politics.

A Juggling Act

 Posted by at 12:02 am  Nick's Blog
Feb 072019
 

Life is all about choices, and sometimes making those choices is a real juggling act. Every time we come to Arizona, we have so many friends and family members we want to see that there is never enough time. Especially when we make a quick unplanned trip like this one.



Yesterday we drove down to Eloy to see our dear friends Butch and Jodi Spiller, a wonderful couple we met when we were all fulltime RVers. Like us, they hung up the keys a while back and now have a beautiful home in a place called Robson Ranch.

Whenever we get together with Butch and Jodi, all four of us are talking at once. Butch is a techie kind of guy who is into flying remote-control airplanes, and Jodi is an amazing quilter. Her creations are beyond beautiful.

After we visited for a while at their house, we went to a restaurant called the Ranch Grill for a delicious lunch and more good conversation. All too soon it was time to part company. We look forward to getting together with Butch and Jodi again one of these days.

Today we are supposed to get together with Terry’s sister Dani, if she can arrange her schedule to make it happen, and tomorrow (Friday) with her sister Lisa and her husband Jim. We also have an early lunch scheduled Friday with Scarlett Braden and her husband Ron. In addition to being a fine author herself, Scarlett formats my books for me. We are looking forward to meeting up with them.

I also found time to check out one of the local antique malls, where I picked up three more badges for my collection. The two on the right are recent issue, but from what I have been able to find out, the railroad guard badge dates way back.

I mentioned above that our friend Butch is a techie guy. Somebody who is not a techie guy is the flake I talked to at a local Verizon store the other day. My Motorola MotoZ smart phone, which is a little over a year old, has become very slow, locks up all the time, and apps will not open or else just disappear completely. I took it to a Verizon factory store (as opposed to a franchised dealer), and after twiddling my thumbs for about 90 minutes to get waited on, the first dweeb told me smart phones have a 12 to 18 month lifespan and I needed to buy a new one. Uh, I don’t think so.



So I stood on my hind legs and raised a bit of a ruckus about how as a 15+ year customer, I wanted to talk to someone who could help me, not just try to sell me something new. Right away a “manager” showed up and looked at my phone for a minute or less and told me the problem was that I had added apps to the phone besides the factory installed apps. According to him, you should never install any apps on a smart phone, because they will kill it every time. Really? Who knew?

He did offer to give me 10% off on a new phone because I am such a loyal customer. I took the phone back from him and said thanks but no thanks. When we get home I will change companies and no longer be a “loyal” Verizon customer.

Thought For The Day – True love is spending one day getting married and the rest of your life feeling glad you did.

Feb 052019
 

We have been living out of a suitcase, well actually a couple of suitcases, and it’s been a challenge. We left our home in Edgewater, Florida on Friday morning and arrived in Tucson, Arizona on Monday morning. We keep saying we are done making these marathon trips across the country but it seems like things keep happening to make them necessary.



After picking up my cousin Beverly in Tucson and dealing with some issues there, we came up to Apache Junction to see Miss Terry’s parents. While we are here, I have an appointment to meet with the woman who formats my books and with a couple of bookstores that specialize in mystery books, especially those with a Southwestern flavor. And there are also a couple other book retailors I will be touching base with.

I have also been gathering information for future blog posts and researching some things for upcoming books. I spent some time yesterday talking with a friend who was a police officer in Show Low, which is in the White Mountains where my Big Lake books are set. He gave me a lot of good info on how the different police agencies up there work together, which will add an extra degree of accuracy to my books.

The weather has been very chilly here and it’s supposed to get down in the 30s overnight for the next few days. Meanwhile, our house sitter tells me it’s nice and warm back home. At least I think that’s what he said. I couldn’t understand him very well and I suspect he found my hidden Hostess Twinkie stash. Another reason to get back there as quickly as possible, before he eats them all.



I’ll try to post more tomorrow, but internet access has been difficult. If not, I will post again as soon as I can.

Thought For The Day – On very bad days, when I’m sure I can’t take anymore, I try to remind myself that my track record for getting through bad days is 100%.

Feb 012019
 

Here’s another tale from the Nick Happens file.

Anybody who knows me well already knows that I require adult supervision at all times. Left to my own devices, there is no end to the trouble I can get into, and I don’t have to look far to find it. So you can blame Miss Terry, or Greg White, or whoever was in charge of me that day for what I’m about to tell you. They are the ones who let me out the door all by myself.



Oh, and if you’re drinking or eating anything while you’re reading this, you might want to put it aside for a moment. You have been warned.

Terry and I were staying at the Three Flags RV campground just off of Interstate 75 in Wildwood, Florida, which was one of our favorites. We had noticed a very nice looking Beaver Marquis motorhome parked near us at the campground, and we had been trying to decide how long it was. It seemed to be longer than our 40 foot Winnebago Ultimate Advantage, but we didn’t think Beaver made anything bigger.

One afternoon I took some trash down to the dumpster and as I was walking back to our motorhome I saw that the lady who owned the big rig was outside with her dog, so I stopped to scratch its ears and we chatted for a moment. Then I asked her, “By the way, how big is your Beaver?” She did a double take, then started laughing and said, “We just met. Don’t you think that’s kind of a personal question?” The fact that I had no idea what she was talking about and was standing there looking confused only added to her glee. Then it hit me!



No, that wasn’t global warming that shot the temperature up several degrees for a few minutes, it was just my face turning very, very red! And the redder I got and the more I tripped over my tongue trying to explain myself, the harder she laughed.

Pretty soon we were both laughing so hard that her husband poked his head out the door to see what all the ruckus was about. But he took one look and decided that whatever was going on, he wanted no part of it and went back inside. Yep, I need adult supervision.

And in closing, here’s a chuckle to start your day, from the collection of funny signs we see in our travels and that our readers share with us.

Thought For The Day – Nutrition fact: if you drink a gallon of water every day you won’t have time for other people’s drama, because you will be too busy peeing. Stay hydrated, my friends.

Not Yet

 Posted by at 12:02 am  Nick's Blog
Jan 312019
 

Thank you everybody who emailed or posted comments wishing Terry good luck with the hyperbaric oxygen therapy I wrote about in yesterday’s blog. As it turns out, that doesn’t start yet.

We had an appointment with the facility yesterday, and I thought that’s when they would do the treatment, but I was wrong. It was just to get all the preliminary paperwork done. Then Medicare has to approve it, which they tell us should take a couple of weeks. Once approved (if it is), Terry will have 40 hypobaric treatments, one five days a week for eight weeks. Each of them take about 90 minutes to two hours.

We were very impressed with the facility and the doctor, who patiently answered all our questions and told us things we needed to know. He was apparently very impressed with Terry as well, because she does her homework ahead of time. At one point he asked her if she was a nurse, and when she said no, he said that was surprising, because he could tell by the way she talked that she had a good knowledge of her medical condition, the procedure, and things like that.

While we were there, I found out that my buddy Greg White has been holding out on me. Who knew he had a title? I mean, we all played doctor we were kids, but apparently Greg took it to a whole new level. The next time we get together, he’s buying dinner. And I’m not talking Denny’s. Oh no, the good doctor is taking me someplace expensive!

With some time to kill before Terry starts her treatments, we are going to make a quick trip to Arizona to help deal with a family member’s medical issues. Because it is sometimes hard to get online when we are on the road, I’m not going to hold our free drawings for the next couple of weeks. And if by chance you don’t see a blog some morning, don’t worry, it just means we can’t get online or we had a long travel day and I was too tired to write.

I just hope our house sitter doesn’t get it in his mind to take my Mustang out for a ride or my pontoon boat out for a cruise while we’re gone!

And in closing, here’s a chuckle to start your day, from the collection of funny signs we see in our travels and that our readers share with us. I didn’t know you could recycle them, did you?

Thought For The Day – No matter how much it hurts today, someday you’ll look back and realize your struggles change your life for the better.

Catching Up

 Posted by at 12:02 am  Nick's Blog
Jan 302019
 

Between dealing with doctor and chiropractor appointments, a storm that knocked our Internet and cable TV out for hours, and dealing with the everyday chores of life, it’s been a little crazy around here lately. So I thought I would use today’s blog to play catch-up.



Miss Terry has been plagued with terrible  IBS for years now and every year it seems to get worse. A colonoscopy on Tuesday revealed damage from the intense radiation she received for her cancer. Her gastroenterologist has been trying everything he can think of to get her some relief and one option is to send her to the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville. It may still come to that.

In the meantime, after much trial and error with meds and antibiotics that didn’t work, he has put her on Viberzi, which has helped quite a bit. The only problem with that is that a one month prescription cost over $1400. With insurance and several discount prescription programs, coupled with our AARP medical supplement, we have gotten that down to $677. That is still a lot of money, but it’s worth every penny if it helps her. Today they are trying something new. They are putting her in a hyperbaric chamber for up to two hours. Apparently pure oxygen helps rejuvenate radiation damaged tissue, among other things. We are keeping our fingers crossed that we will see some good results. Here is a link to information about oxygen therapy https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/hyperbaric-oxygen-therapy/about/pac-20394380.

I know that Terry doesn’t want anybody to feel sorry for her. When she was diagnosed with cancer, the first doctor gave her about six weeks to live. That was eighteen years ago. So every day is a gift, and she says she would rather be alive dealing with some pesky issues than not to be here at all. I’m glad she is here, too.

In other news, my two new box sets of the first three books in the Big Lake series and the first three in the John Lee Quarrels series, are doing well. Especially in Kindle Unlimited, where you can read all the books you want for free with a low-cost monthly subscription. They are turning a lot of new readers on to my work. And Big Lake Wedding, my most recent release, is getting a lot of great five-star reviews. That makes me happy because there’s nothing like good reviews to help readers decide on a new book or a new author they have not read before.

After reading my blog post titled You Can’t Be Too Careful a couple of days ago, someone wrote to tell me that he has also had people tailgate him like that, but instead of speeding up or moving over to let them pass, he slows down and sticks his pistol out the window to let them know they’re messing with the wrong person. That’s about the dumbest advice I’ve ever received. What if the person behind you is a police officer in an unmarked car? What if it’s somebody filled with road rage who has his own gun? I wrote back and told the gentleman that the best thing he could do is take his pistol to the nearest pawn shop or gun dealer and sell it. While I am a strong believer that every law-abiding American citizen has the right to own a firearm, I have always said that even so, there are a hell of a lot of people who have no business with one.



Another reader, responding to the same blog, asked how it was legal for me to collect police badges. He said he thought only police officers could possess a badge. No, that’s not true. Obsolete badges can be owned by collectors as long as they do not try to pass themselves off as legitimate law enforcement officer. And I don’t just collect police badges. I have quite an assortment of taxicab and chauffeur licenses from the 1920s and 1930s, and some other oddball stuff that has caught my eye along the way. Pretty soon I’m going to be setting up a couple more display cases for them, to go with the ones I already have.

And in closing, here’s a chuckle to start your day, from the collection of funny signs we see in our travels and that our readers share with us.

Thought For The Day – Your life is like a book. The first page is written at your birth and the last page is written at your death. Try to fill the middle pages with love, adventure, and joy.

 

Jan 292019
 

I apologize for not having a blog yesterday. We had heavy rain that rolled through Central Florida for much of Saturday and Sunday, and our Spectrum internet and cable TV went out sometime mid-afternoon Sunday and it didn’t come back on until about 5 A.M. on Monday. Here is a blog about one of the many points of interest along the beautiful and rugged Oregon coast.

The treacherous waters of the Pacific Northwest coast are unforgiving and dangerous, and over the years hundreds of ships and thousands of sailors have lost their lives when fate and the weather turned against them. When ships are in peril at sea, moments can mean the difference between life and death.



For over thirty years the brave surfmen at the Port Orford Lifeboat Station, on Oregon’s southern coast, were ready to answer the call of ships in distress. Risking their lives to put out to sea to rescue those in trouble no matter how bad the storm, these heroes in small boats exemplified courage and devotion to duty in every way.

Established in 1871, the U.S. Life-Saving Service, the forerunner to today’s Coast Guard, built a total of nine stations on the Washington and Oregon Coasts, including one at Port Orford, which opened in 1934. Located on a cliff high above Nellie’s Cove, the Port Orford station included a house for the officer in charge, a two story barracks for the enlisted men that saw double duty as the administration building, a garage, several smaller outbuildings, and a lookout tower. A boathouse was built in the cove and 532 wooden steps led down to it. The station was equipped with two motor lifeboats and two non-powered surf boats that were rowed out to sea.

It was not an easy duty assignment for the station’s lone officer and thirteen surfmen. They were responsible for a 40-mile stretch of coastline between Cape Blanco and Cape Sebastian. It was not uncommon to experience winds in excess of 100 m.p.h. when winter storms slammed into the coast. Five gallon cans of fuel had to be hand carried down the often wet and slippery steps to the cove, one in each hand. Before motor lifeboats became available around 1910, a typical crew was eight surfmen and a keeper who rowed through the pounding surf to reach vessels in trouble.

Single surfmen lived in the barracks, while some married men were allowed to build small houses for their families on nearby government land. A rigid schedule of training was adhered to that included practicing with their life-saving equipment, boat drills, which included launching the surfboats, capsizing and recovery, and rowing through rough seas.

There was also constant training in using signal flags and emergency medical treatment. All of this was in addition to regular military drills and maintaining the station’s equipment. Crewmembers were allowed one day a week off.

The surfmens’ mission was to respond to ships in trouble and rescue the crew and passengers first, and then to try to salvage the cargo, if possible. Between 1934 when the station opened, and when it was decommissioned in 1970, the men at the Port Orford station responded to three shipwrecks, rescuing everybody involved without any loss of life.

World War II brought increased activity to the Oregon coast and the station as their mission was expanded to include coastal defense as well as lifesaving. More than a hundred men were assigned to Port Orford. Armed guards patrolled the beach with attack dogs, alert for any enemy activity. The station added a guardhouse, machine gun pits and foxholes were dug, barbed wire was strung around the perimeter, and a 20mm antiaircraft gun was set up.

The war became real for the people of Oregon on the night of 21-22 June, 1942, when the Japanese submarine I-25 shelled Fort Stevens near Astoria. Little physical damage was done, but the psychological impact was widespread as the mainland United States realized it was vulnerable to enemy attack.



On September 9 the submarine launched a small seaplane that dropped incendiary bombs on Mount Emily, near Brookings, with the intention of starting massive forest fires. Fortunately, heavy rainfall in the days before the attack left the entire region very wet and the bombs had little effect. The plane had hardly landed and been recovered by the submarine when pursuing Army Air Corps aircraft attacked. The I-25 escaped by diving to the bottom of the ocean off Port Orford until the American planes ran low on fuel and left.

A few weeks later, on October 4, the submarine attacked the tanker S.S. Camden off Coos Bay. The crew was rescued, but the ship sank a few days later while being towed into port for repairs. The next day, October 5, the I-25 torpedoed the tanker S.S. Larry Doheny, bound for Portland with a cargo of 66,000 barrels of fuel oil. Two of the ship’s three cargo holds exploded into an inferno, killing six of its crew. The Port Orford surfmen rushed to the scene, saving the surviving crewmembers.

The submarine continued its wartime raiding until it was sunk in a battle with three American destroyers near the New Hebrides islands in the South Pacific on September 3, 1943, with all of its crew lost.

Over the years, new technology and the introduction of rescue helicopters and fast lifeboats that could cover long distances in a short time made life safer for mariners, and fewer lifeboat stations were needed. The Port Orford station was decommissioned in 1970.

Today the old lifeboat station has been restored and is a museum. Visitors can tour the old barracks and see how the surfmen lived and worked, and get some idea of how hard and dangerous their duty was, and why their motto was “You have to go out, but you don’t have to come back….” One of the old lifeboats is on display and it is hard to imagine going out into the ocean in such a small vessel in rough water.

There are also displays of equipment, including a line throwing cannon used to shoot a rescue line to a ship in distress, and a breeches buoy that crewmembers could then ride along the line from a sinking ship to a surfboat.

The park has several trails that begin at the museum, one of which leads to a viewpoint above Nellies Cove where you can see the pilings of the boathouse, which burned down in the late 1970s. Portions of the old staircase can still be seen, along with part of a rail-mounted carriage used to launch the boats into the cove.

You will come away from a visit to the Port Orford Lifeboat Station with a lot of respect for the surfmen who were willing to risk their own lives to save those in trouble day or night, no matter how dangerous the job or how bad the weather. They were true heroes. The Port Orford Lifeboat Station is located at 92331 Coast Guard Hill Road in Port Orford. Admission is free and the station is open April through October each year from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The museum is closed on Tuesdays. For more information call (541) 332-0521 or visit http://www.capeblancoheritagesociety.com/.

Congratulations Dan Whittock, winner of our drawing for an audio book of undone, the first book in my buddy Jason Deas’ new Burt Bigsley mystery series. We had 41 entries this time around. Stay tuned, a new contest starts soon.

Thought For The Day – If I really did live each day like it was my last one, the body count would be tremendous.