Apr 232024
 

Here is another blog post from my days publishing small town newspapers.

I started my first newspaper when I was in my mid-20s, in Grays Harbor, Washington. The harbor is the largest natural deepwater port on the Pacific Coast north of San Francisco, and has been an important shipping center since the days of the earliest settlement.

Located at the base of the wild and beautiful Olympic Peninsula, the area is a sportsman’s paradise like no other on earth. The dense forests are home to elk, deer, black bear, mountain lions, and many believe the legendary Bigfoot lives there, too. The rivers offer fishing for everything from trout to steelhead salmon, or you can drive out to the beach and surf fish or walk out on a jetty to wet a line. If you like shellfish, you can dig for razorback clams during the open season, drop a crab trap off a dock and haul up Dungeness crab, or charter a boat out of Westport, on the south entrance to the harbor, and go deep sea fishing. When I lived there, Westport billed itself as the Salmon Capital of the World due to the many charter boats that operated from there, as well as commercial fishing boats.

I had a friend who operated a very successful taxidermy shop in Grays Harbor and was well known to sportsmen throughout the Pacific Northwest. I was always amazed at the number of people who caught a huge salmon and brought it in to be mounted and didn’t want the meat. All they cared about was a trophy to hang on their wall. Not wanting to see all of that meat go to waste, my buddy tried donating it to local food banks, but due to some glitch in the law, they could not accept it. So if you were his friend, you could expect your freezer to be well stocked with salmon steaks and salmon fillets, and you always had a good supply of smoked salmon. By the way, if you are ever friends with a taxidermist, don’t ask when he hands you a piece of meat and says, “Here, eat this.” Salmon were not the only animals that came through the shop!

One day my friend got a call from a commercial fishing boat that had netted a seventeen-foot great white shark offshore. They wanted it mounted and contacted him. Now, just how in the hell do you move a fish that big? I borrowed a big flatbed truck from another friend, and we went to pick up the shark. It took a forklift in the middle and several men on each end to get it onto the truck. Just seeing that critter was enough to keep me out of the water for a year!

Driving home with the shark in the back of the truck, we stopped for fuel. While we were filling the truck’s tank, the old gentleman working at the station asked where we caught that creature we had strapped down in the back of the truck. We told him it came out of a small creek a mile or so south of there. His jaw dropped open and his eyes became almost as big as saucers. “My grandkids wade in that creek all the time,” he said. “But they ain’t gonna do it anymore. No, sir, no more!”

Sometimes I feel bad for those poor kids who were probably never allowed back in their favorite creek. And I’m sure that old-timer got razzed by his pals about his wild story since the creek was no more than a foot or two deep. But at the time, my friend and I laughed all the way back to his shop.

And finally, 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 – Apparently responding to a wedding RSVP with “Maybe next time” isn’t a proper response. Who knew?

First Rose Of Spring

 Posted by at 12:40 am  Nick's Blog
Apr 222024
 

Except for a pretty stiff breeze, yesterday was very nice here in west-central Alabama. There was lots of blue sky and the temperature was somewhere in the mid-60s. And if we can believe the weatherman, we won’t have any more precipitation until the weekend. Hopefully things will dry out a little bit between now and then.

While I had Alli out in the yard yesterday I noticed that several of the rose bushes along the front of our porch are budding out and a few are already blooming. I was able to get a picture of the first rose of the year.

We have a lot of work to do to get Terry’s other raised garden beds put together and things planted in them, and I still have a lot of branches to run through the shredder and other outside chores to attend to.

But much of yesterday was spent on the telephone dealing with Cove Security. We had their system in our house in Florida and it was excellent, as was their customer service. But something seems to have changed since then. Some of the door sensors for the new system we have here at our house have been problematic, sending false signals or no signal at all. They sent me a replacement set for one of our doors, but when I tried to connect it to the system yesterday, it would not recognize my username or password.

I called customer service and got someone who spoke very rapidly and in heavily accented English that I could not understand. I kept trying to explain to her what my problem was, and she kept talking over me, saying she was going to do different things to get the system working. By the time she was done, half of it was not working at all. I finally asked her for a supervisor and was told one would call me back. Hopefully someone who could speak English. I’m still waiting for that call.

While I was doing that, Terry was busy editing and proofreading the first seven chapters of The War Years, my new Tinder Street book. Once she was finished, I made the corrections she suggested, then sent the chapters off to Judy and Roberta to go over.

As if all of that was not enough, Terry was also busy with some other projects around the house, including putting some racks in the cupboards under the kitchen counter to make the space under there more usable. Then she made a delicious dinner of aglio e olio, which is one of my favorite pasta dishes. No matter how stressful life gets, we always eat good. 😊

Congratulations Kathy Voorhees, winner of our drawing for an audiobook of Gone The Next, the first book in my friend Ben Rehder’s Roy Ballard mystery series. Roy Ballard is a freelance videographer with a knack for catching insurance cheats. He’s working a routine case, complete with hours of tedious surveillance, when he sees something that shakes him to the core. There, with the subject, is a little blond girl wearing a pink top and denim shorts – the same outfit worn by Tracy Turner, a six-year-old abducted the day before. When the police are skeptical of Ballard’s report – and with his history, who can blame them? – it’s the beginning of the most important case of his life.

We had 21 entries this time around. Stay tuned, a new contest starts soon. Note: Due to the high shipping cost of printed books and Amazon restrictions on e-books to foreign countries, only entries with US addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed. After 30 days, unclaimed prizes revert back to the drawing pool for a future contest.

And finally, 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 – If you’re really, really quiet, you can hear yourself doing the world a favor.

Class Clown

 Posted by at 12:45 am  Nick's Blog
Apr 212024
 

Since I’m a bit of a clown myself, it shouldn’t surprise anybody that my dog is also the class clown. When she’s not chasing a ball or waiting for us to throw one for her, Alli is either playing with Mae Lin, one of Terry’s cats, or out in the backyard trying to catch a bee or wasp as it flies by. I keep telling her she’ll regret it if she ever does snatch one of those little critters out of the air. She’ll think she caught a flying habanero.

She has a dog bed on the floor beside our bed. Occasionally she curls up in it like a normal dog, but more often than not, I’ll get up in the night and find her like this. What a goofy girl.

She’s not allowed on the bed, but apparently just because we say something doesn’t mean a lot to her. I take my shower and go to bed and watch TV while Terry is taking hers, and sometimes Alli will jump up on the bed with me, stretching out on Terry’s side. I guess she figures if Mom’s not there, that spot is up for grabs. And if I get up to use the bathroom at night, sometimes she will promptly take my place in bed.

She likes to follow me into the bathroom during the day, but yesterday I got in there before she realized I was out of sight. This is what greeted me when I came out. Doesn’t she look like she knows who is really in charge areond here, even if I don’t?

Speaking of yesterday, storms started rolling through our area overnight and it rained off and on most of the day. The temperature also dropped quite a bit. The weatherman says the system will move out by sometime this morning and the rest of the day will be clear and in the mid-60s.

Because our land is clay, and because the backyard was so torn up when we had the septic lines replaced, there’s a lot of mud back there every time it rains. Which means whenever Alli is outside, I have to wipe her feet off good before I bring her back in or she makes a mess. Last week Terry ordered a Dexas MudBuster portable dog paw cleaner to help with that chore, and it actually works pretty good. Alli is patient while I put each foot in the opening and then rotate it a few times while the soft bristles inside clean her feet. Then I dry them with a towel and she’s safe to come back inside without Terry having to mop the floor every time. Well, at least not as often.

Rainy days are always good for writing, and yesterday I wrote another chapter in my new Tinder Street book, then I printed out seven chapters for Terry to edit and proofread. When she’s done with them, I will make her corrections, then send them off to Judy and Roberta so they can go through them. As so often happens in my books, I had no idea the events of the last two chapters were going to occur until I was writing them. They cover a dramatic and terrifying incident for one of the characters that will give them some sleepless nights.

Today is your last chance to enter our Free Drawing for an audiobook of Gone The Next, the first book in my friend Ben Rehder’s Roy Ballard mystery series. Roy Ballard is a freelance videographer with a knack for catching insurance cheats. He’s working a routine case, complete with hours of tedious surveillance, when he sees something that shakes him to the core. There, with the subject, is a little blond girl wearing a pink top and denim shorts – the same outfit worn by Tracy Turner, a six-year-old abducted the day before. When the police are skeptical of Ballard’s report – and with his history, who can blame them? – it’s the beginning of the most important case of his life.

To enter, 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. Note: Due to the high shipping cost of printed books and Amazon restrictions on e-books to foreign countries, only entries with US addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed. After 30 days, unclaimed prizes revert back to the drawing pool for a future contest.

And finally, 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 – When life gives you pickles, dill with it.

One More To Go

 Posted by at 12:32 am  Nick's Blog
Apr 202024
 

Yesterday I uploaded the audiobook of The Hard Years, the fourth book in my Tinder Street family saga, and it is now available on Amazon and audible.com. That leaves just one more audiobook in the Tinder Street series to be formatted and uploaded, A Changing World, at least for the time being.

The famous tram 28 in Lisbon.

Somebody asked if I will be creating audiobooks for the rest of the books in the Big Lake and John Lee Quarrels series. I plan to as time allows, assuming Amazon continues with their AI narration program.

In yesterday’s blog, I told you I had uploaded the print edition of Big Lake Accident and expected it to be available for purchase by the time most readers got the blog. I don’t know when exactly it went live, but it was up by 7 a.m.

I am currently writing The War Years, the next book in the Tinder Street series, and the story is moving right along. Even with the time it takes to research the historical events of the time, of which there were too many happening at once to include them all, I am averaging a full chapter every day.

As you can see, I have a lot going on in the world of books right now. But I need to take a break sometime this weekend so we can make a trip into town, since our stock of groceries needs replenished. I may even try to convince Miss Terry to let me buy her dinner while we are out.

Be sure to enter our latest Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an audiobook of Gone The Next, the first book in my friend Ben Rehder’s Roy Ballard mystery series. Roy Ballard is a freelance videographer with a knack for catching insurance cheats. He’s working a routine case, complete with hours of tedious surveillance, when he sees something that shakes him to the core. There, with the subject, is a little blond girl wearing a pink top and denim shorts – the same outfit worn by Tracy Turner, a six-year-old abducted the day before. When the police are skeptical of Ballard’s report – and with his history, who can blame them? – it’s the beginning of the most important case of his life.

To enter, 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. Note: Due to the high shipping cost of printed books and Amazon restrictions on e-books to foreign countries, only entries with US addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed. After 30 days, unclaimed prizes revert back to the drawing pool for a future contest.

And finally, 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 – I know the voices in my head aren’t real, but sometimes their ideas are awesome!

Another Audiobook

 Posted by at 12:20 am  Nick's Blog
Apr 192024
 

Yesterday I uploaded the audiobook of Boom And Bust, the third book in my Tinder Street family saga, and it is now available on Amazon and audible.com. I hope to get the fourth and fifth books in the series uploaded in the next few days.

I also uploaded the print edition of Big Lake Accident to Amazon, but as of Thursday night as I write this blog, it hasn’t gone live yet. Hopefully by the time you get the blog it will be, but if not, I’m sure sometime by the end of the day it should be available to purchase.

Besides those projects, I also wrote another chapter in The War Years, the next book in the Tinder Street series. At this point in the story, I’m about halfway through the year of 1941 and by then most people knew that war with Germany and Japan was inevitable. In writing about the reactions of the people of that time in our history, including some of the young men who might soon find themselves involved in the conflict, I found my mind going back to my own high school days, knowing that Vietnam was very likely to be in the future for a lot of us. It’s funny how the years go by, but some things never change. My dad used to always say that wars are started by rich old men and fought by poor young men. I don’t think that’s changed either.

Be sure to enter our latest Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an audiobook of Gone The Next, the first book in my friend Ben Rehder’s Roy Ballard mystery series. Roy Ballard is a freelance videographer with a knack for catching insurance cheats. He’s working a routine case, complete with hours of tedious surveillance, when he sees something that shakes him to the core. There, with the subject, is a little blond girl wearing a pink top and denim shorts – the same outfit worn by Tracy Turner, a six-year-old abducted the day before. When the police are skeptical of Ballard’s report – and with his history, who can blame them? – it’s the beginning of the most important case of his life.

To enter, 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. Note: Due to the high shipping cost of printed books and Amazon restrictions on e-books to foreign countries, only entries with US addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed. After 30 days, unclaimed prizes revert back to the drawing pool for a future contest.

And finally, 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 – When you die people cry and moan and beg for you to come back. But when you do, there is so much running and screaming!

Books And Bees

 Posted by at 12:44 am  Nick's Blog
Apr 172024
 

For the last three weeks or so, we have been commenting on how high the grass is getting in our front and side yards, and in the pasture. It was definitely time to mow the grass, however there is so much clover out there feeding the bees that we kept putting it off.

We finally decided that something had to be done or the place would turn into a jungle. So, we decided to mow a lot of grass but still save quite a bit of untouched clover for the local bee population. It seemed like the best compromise.

Our Husqvarna riding lawnmower had not been started since last year, and it had to turn over a few times before it caught, but then it ran fine. With Terry on it and me on the Kubota tractor with the belly mower, we set at it. It took most of an afternoon to get it all done, and we left the area where Terry’s fruit trees are untouched because it’s full of clover. I also left a big patch at the back of our main pasture and all of the smaller pasture behind the shooting backstop untouched. That should keep the bees happily buzzing.

Besides mowing, I’ve also been working on several book projects, including writing a new chapter just about every day in The War Years, my fifth Tinder Street book. As I’ve said before, there’s a lot of research that goes into this series to make sure I get the timing of the historical events right. And I learn something new every time.

For example, Colonel Charles Lindbergh, considered a hero by most Americans for making the first solo flight across the Atlantic, was very opposed to the United States getting involved in World War II. He was an isolationist who believed that what happened beyond our borders was none of our business. He was so outspoken about it at a rally in New York City in April of 1941 that President Roosevelt publicly chastised him in one of his radio messages. Lindbergh responded by resigning his commission in the U.S. Army Air Corps Reserve. Yet, though he was opposed to the war, when hostilities broke out he flew combat missions in the Pacific with Marine Ace Joe Foss and Army Ace Thomas McGuire.

Besides working on the new book, I also uploaded the audiobook version of The Good Years, the second book in the Tinder Street series, yesterday. As I write this blog it has not gone live yet, but I will post on Facebook when it does, and also in the blog.

And if that’s not enough to keep readers happy, I have more news. Scarlett finished the formatting for the printed edition of Big Lake Accident. Elizabeth Mackey is working on the cover now, and as soon as that’s done, I will also get it uploaded to Amazon.

I guess you could say I’m not letting any grass grow under my feet, and I’m keeping the grass in my yard under control, too. 😊

And finally, 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 – I’m taking care of my procrastination issues, just you wait and see.

Apr 162024
 

After reading yesterday’s blog, regarding the day my daughter Tiffany was born, several folks wanted to know what made it so hectic. So here’s the story.

In April of 1982, I was running several small town newspapers on the Pacific Northwest coast, with our headquarters in Aberdeen, Washington. Tiffany’s mother had gone to the hospital the day before with the plan to have a cesarean section at 10 the next morning. But Tiffany was too impatient for all that nonsense, and at 7:30 A.M. her mother called me to say that she was in labor and the baby was coming fast. I told her I would be there as quickly as I could and hung up the phone and started getting dressed.

Five minutes later, the phone rang again, and it was Roy, the young man who was responsible for picking up our paper from the printing company near Seattle. He told me he had gotten into an argument with his girlfriend and she told him not to come home, so this was his official notice of resignation. He was moving to Portland, Oregon to stay with his brother. He told me where the van loaded with newspapers was parked and that the key was in the ashtray and hung up. Perfect timing, right?

I called Laurel, my secretary/office manager, told her the situation and asked her to round up as many employees as she could so they could get the papers distributed to the various stores in the county. She told me she would handle it, just be with my wife and new baby. I knew she was on top of it and I didn’t have anything to worry about. Well, at least that’s what  I thought.

It was a rainy day, as many days are in coastal Washington, and when I got to the hospital, they said the labor had stalled so they were in a holding pattern, trying to decide if they should go ahead with the cesarean section or wait for a natural birth.

Meanwhile, Laurel and several employees had caravanned up to Olympia, where our delivery van was parked, and they were splitting up the delivery route to get everything done in a timely manner.

There’s a rather steep hill on US Highway 12 coming into Aberdeen from the east, and that morning a small slide occurred on that hill, littering the wet pavement with rocks and mud. Laural was driving a company-owned Chevy Impala, and when she hit that patch of road, she spun out and rolled the car.

Meanwhile, I was upstairs in the hospital’s maternity ward and they had just taken Tiffany’s mother in to do the cesarean section. This was before the days of cell phones, so I didn’t know anything about the accident Laurel had been in. When they got her to the emergency room downstairs, she told them to please contact me and let me know what had happened.

I was sitting with a couple of other fathers waiting for their babies to be born when a nurse came up and said, “Mr. Russell, they need you downstairs in the ER.” I asked her why and she said she didn’t know, she was just relaying the message to me.

So I went downstairs and told a nurse in the emergency room who I was, and she said. “There’s nothing to be worried about. It looks like she may have a couple of broken ribs and a broken nose, but she’s going to be fine.”

Totally confused, I asked what she was talking about. My wife had a broken nose? My new baby had a broken nose and broken ribs? How? Why? Did they drop her or something? She told me no, according to the sheriff’s deputy she spoke to, when the car rolled she wasn’t wearing a seat belt, and that’s how she got so banged up. But not to worry, she was going to survive, even if she was going to be uncomfortable for a while.

And just then, someone from the maternity ward called downstairs to tell me I had a brand new baby girl and asking if I wanted to come up and meet her. Wait a minute? The baby’s upstairs and her mother’s in the ER? What the hell is going on?

Eventually it all got sorted out, I got to meet my beautiful little girl, and I was able to see that Laurel was bruised and battered, but she was more concerned about the wrecked car and the newspapers getting to where they were supposed to be.

Yes, it was quite a hectic day in that little town that rainy April morning when Tiffany came into the world.

And finally, 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 – My dream is to cut all ties with civilization, but still be on the Internet.

Another Birthday Girl

 Posted by at 12:50 am  Nick's Blog
Apr 152024
 

In yesterday’s blog I wished our daughter-in-law Geli a happy birthday, and today we have another birthday girl, our beautiful daughter Tiffany. I know I sound like a proud father bragging, and I am, when I say that you can search the world over and you won’t find a kinder, more loving, sweeter, or more gentle soul in the world than my little girl.

She is a caring and wonderful daughter, a fine wife, and a fantastic mother of four, three of whom are still teenagers. Tiffany is the mother that all of the neighborhood kids call Mom, because no matter what their circumstances or who they are, she provides a safe and welcoming place for them. Most teenagers want to be off someplace hanging out with their friends. Not my grandkids. They all want to hang out at home, and bring their friends with them.

Tiffany told me more than once that all she ever wanted to do in the world was to be a good mother, and she’s been more successful at that than she could have ever imagined. She also works at the local high school that three of her kids attend, which gives her a whole bunch of other young ones to look after and love. But she’s so happy doing so that she never thinks of it as work.

Some people make their mark in the world by achieving a fantastic goal. Tiffany is one of those people who leaves her mark on the world with a million small acts of love and kindness to those around her.

I should have known she wasn’t going to be an everyday person from the day she was born. I don’t have room in this blog to tell you how hectic that was, but believe me, it was a day to remember in more ways than one! How many children’s births include everything from a rollover accident to broken ribs and a busted nose, and a trip from the maternity ward down to the emergency room? Maybe I’ll tell you about that in another blog.

Happy birthday, Tiffany. We love you very, very much, and we are very, very proud of you and the amazing woman you have become.

And believe it or not, we’re not done with birthdays yet. We still have another birthday girl to celebrate within a couple of days. We buy a lot of candles and eat a lot of birthday cake in April. 😊

Congratulations Dave Cross, winner of our drawing for an audio book of Ken Rossignol’s Pirate Trials: Famous Murderous Pirates Book Series: THE LIVES AND ADVENTURES of FAMOUS and SUNDRY PIRATES .

We had fourteen entries this time around. Stay tuned, a new contest starts soon. Note: Due to the high shipping cost of printed books and Amazon restrictions on e-books to foreign countries, only entries with US addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed. After 30 days, unclaimed prizes revert back to the drawing pool for a future contest.

And finally, 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 – If vegetables are so good, explain to me why vegans are always trying to make them taste like meat.

Happy Birthday Geli

 Posted by at 12:45 am  Nick's Blog
Apr 142024
 

This is a special day for our family because it’s our daughter-in-law Geli’s birthday. This amazing woman works hard keeping others alive as a nurse, and when she’s not saving lives and comforting those who are ill, you can find her helping our son Travis with their chickens, gardens, beehives, and caning and baking. And she does it all with a smile. We love you very much Geli. Happy birthday on your special day.

It was a lovely, warm day here in west central Alabama yesterday, with the thermometer peaking at 80° and a lot of blue sky and sunshine overhead. Not that I got to enjoy a lot of it because most of the day I was working on my new Tinder Street book. This installment in the family saga picks up just before America’s involvement in World War II and will take the McNally and Wirtz families through the war years, both on the battlefield and at home.

In doing my research for the book, it is amazing how ill prepared we were for the conflict, even though everybody knew it was coming. Before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the United States Army ranked seventeenth among the armies of the world. It only had 464 underpowered tanks, and soldiers being trained for tank warfare used trucks to simulate armored vehicles.

Of the few coastal artillery guns we had, many had not been fired in two decades. Soldiers in basic training used worn out World War I Springfield bolt-action rifles that were so inaccurate it was impossible to be sure of hitting a target consistently on the firing ranges.

All of that changed, of course, after Pearl Harbor, and we eventually fielded a large and victorious military. In doing so, many innovations were used, including training enlisted men to be combat pilots because there were not enough college educated officer pilot candidates to fill the need. One of the young men from the McNally clan would find himself in a cockpit as one of them. For a history nut like me, this is so interesting that I have to tear myself away from the research to actually do any writing.

While I was immersed in pre-war facts and figures, Terry was busy making sure our home was intact, doing laundry, some paperwork, and making a delicious pot roast for dinner, along with some angel biscuits that tasted absolutely heavenly.

Today is your last chance to enter our Free Drawing for an audiobook of Pirate Trials: Famous Murderous Pirates Book Series: THE LIVES AND ADVENTURES of FAMOUS and SUNDRY PIRATES by my friend Ken Rossignol. This is one of several books Ken has written about the world’s pirates back in the not so good old days.

To enter, 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. Note: Due to the high shipping cost of printed books and Amazon restrictions on e-books to foreign countries, only entries with US addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed. After 30 days, unclaimed prizes revert back to the drawing pool for a future contest.

And finally, 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’ve never seen an elevator that goes sideways before. Have you?

Thought For The Day – Don’t save the good stuff for a special occasion. Life is a special occasion.

Critter Care

 Posted by at 1:14 am  Nick's Blog
Apr 132024
 

Having animals is a fulltime job. To be honest, I don’t know if we have pets or if they have people, but I’m beginning to suspect the latter might be the case.

Don’t get me wrong, we love our critters, and they each have their own distinct personalities. Alli loves us and wants to be beside me 24/7. I’ve forgotten what it’s like to go to the bathroom alone. But more than anything, Alli loves her toy. She goes to sleep with it and when we wake up every morning she is beside the bed and will stand there giving us those sad puppy dog eyes until we throw it for her. That goes on all day, nonstop.

Of course, pets take a lot of care. Anybody who’s ever been around a German shepherd knows they shed constantly, summer and winter. Even though Terry and I brush Alli frequently, getting enough hair off every time to make a poodle (not that we would ever want one), but the next day there are clumps of hair all over the place.

Alli does like to be brushed though, as you can see in these pictures. She may be my dog, so to speak, but she loves Terry and Terry loves her, and she’s always happy to get some kind of attention, even if it’s just a good brushing.

Now the cats are a different story. They will let Terry brush them when they feel like it, just like they will let us pet them on their terms. Mae Lin has long, fluffy, soft hair, and when she will hold still long enough for Terry to brush her, she purrs all the while. But when she’s had enough, she’s had enough, and that’s it.

As for BeeBee, the black cat, I think she sees us as no more than staff there to attend to her needs. She is aloof half the time and won’t give us a second glance, or else she wants attention and drives poor Terry nuts demanding it. If she’s not walking across her computer keys while she’s working, she’s knocking something off of her desk, trying to get into her loom, or reaching through her mesh office chair to grab her. Sometimes in the evening when I’m writing the blog, Terry reaches a point where she can’t take anymore and has to put the cats in their room and shut the door just to be able to check her e-mail and things like that.

Oh yes, pets are such a joy. But we tolerate them, and most defininely love them. What does that say about us?

Be sure to enter our latest Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an audiobook of Pirate Trials: Famous Murderous Pirates Book Series: THE LIVES AND ADVENTURES of FAMOUS and SUNDRY PIRATES by my friend Ken Rossignol. This is one of several books Ken has written about the world’s pirates back in the not so good old days.

Version 1.0.0

To enter, 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. Note: Due to the high shipping cost of printed books and Amazon restrictions on e-books to foreign countries, only entries with US addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed. After 90 days, unclaimed prizes revert back to the drawing pool for a future contest.

And finally, 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 – Feel free to take advice from me if you want to. But you should know that I almost choked drinking the Pringles crumbs out of the canister.

Apr 122024
 

In yesterday’s blog I said that I had released the audiobook of Tinder Street, the first book in my family saga series of the same name, using Amazon’s new artificial intelligence narration. Since then, I’ve heard from several readers who either purchased the book or downloaded the sample and the reports have all been good.

One person said they noticed there were some pauses in the narration, and I found this to be true at the start of each chapter, after they announce the chapter name and before the story actually picks up. The pause is short in duration, but noticeable. I think, based on the feedback I’m getting I will go ahead and release the other books in the series the same way. Thank you everybody for your input.

Yesterday was a busy day for us. We met our son Travis and his wife Geli at a nice Mexican restaurant called Los Tarascos in Tuscaloosa for linner to celebrate Geli’s birthday, which is actually on Sunday. But since she works that night, we all agreed to do it early. This was our first visit to this restaurant and we really liked it. We’ll go back again.

After we ate and said our goodbyes, we stopped at Waterworks Pool & Spa, the dealer we bought our hot tub from, to have the water tested. This is a free service they do every month, and even though we use test strips to try to keep the water where it’s supposed to be, their system is more precise. It turns out we need to add some more chlorine and PH hardener.

From there we stopped at a gun shop, but I couldn’t find anything that I needed to take home with me. Then we went to a place called South’s Finest Meats, just a couple of blocks away. One thing Terry has missed from living in Florida was the excellent little meat market we used to go to there. We haven’t found anything here with much of a selection until today. This store had everything she wanted, along with a good selection of frozen vegetables, and their prices were very good. We picked up some steaks and pork chops, and also some sectioned turkey necks and pigs’ feet for Alli. Before I bought any of them, I checked online to make sure they were safe for dogs.

I gave Alli a couple of the turkey neck pieces when we got home and she loved them.

By then it was late in the day, so we watched a little bit of television, I wrote the blog, and we called it a night.

Be sure to enter our latest Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an audiobook of Pirate Trials: Famous Murderous Pirates Book Series: THE LIVES AND ADVENTURES of FAMOUS and SUNDRY PIRATES by my friend Ken Rossignol. This is one of several books Ken has written about the world’s pirates back in the not so good old days.

To enter, 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. Note: Due to the high shipping cost of printed books and Amazon restrictions on e-books to foreign countries, only entries with US addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed. After 90 days, unclaimed prizes revert back to the drawing pool for a future contest.

And finally, 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 – Did you ever meet someone and wonder if they ate a bowl of stupid for breakfast?

 

Lots Of Book News

 Posted by at 12:45 am  Nick's Blog
Apr 112024
 

I’ve got a lot of exciting book news to share with you today, and I think it’s going to make some of my readers very happy. At least I hope so.

A week ago I said in the blog that Amazon had asked me to take part in a program to create audiobooks using artificial intelligence narrators. As I said at the time, I have not been thrilled with a lot of AI technology that I have seen, but I decided to experiment with it and see what they have come up with. I have to say that I’m impressed. This could be a game changer.

Yesterday I released my first audiobook using the new technology. I went with Tinder Street, the first book in my family saga by the same name. If readers seem to like it, I will release the other four books in the series to date as audiobooks as well. You can listen to a sample and purchase it at this link. Please let me know what you think.

A lot of readers have asked for audiobooks of all of my different series, but in the past the high cost of narration has not made it worthwhile. As I said, this could be a game changer, making it possible for me to make them all available in audio format.

My friend Ben Rehder is also experimenting with the new technology, and just released The Driving Lesson. I am a big fan of Ben’s excellent Blanco County mystery series, but this one is totally different, a coming-of-age story I think everybody will enjoy. Check it out.

Of course, the writing world isn’t all about audiobooks. Lots of folks prefer the printed word, or the digital word in an e-book reader. Yesterday I began writing The War Years, the next book in the Tinder Street series. I am only a couple of chapters into it, but I’m enjoying the story so far, even with all the research involved.

And I’m happy to say that Big Lake Accident is still doing well. Scarlett is working on formatting the print edition now, which should be available soon.

As I said, there’s a lot going on. 😊

It’s Thursday, so it’s time for a new Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an audiobook of Pirate Trials: Famous Murderous Pirates Book Series: THE LIVES AND ADVENTURES of FAMOUS and SUNDRY PIRATES by my friend Ken Rossignol. This is one of several books Ken has written about the world’s pirates back in the not so good old days.

To enter, 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. Note: Due to the high shipping cost of printed books and Amazon restrictions on e-books to foreign countries, only entries with US addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed. After 90 days, unclaimed prizes revert back to the drawing pool for a future contest.

And finally, 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 – The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary.

 

Apr 102024
 

In last week’s Newspaper Days column I told you the story of a woman who called me because her teenage sons were playing with an unstable World War II-era hand grenade. I said that once I determined it was a live grenade, I called my buddy Rusty, who was a lieutenant with the police department. He, in turn, summoned a police department to deal with the grenade.

Rusty was a great guy with an evil sense of humor, and some of the pranks he pulled were awesome. So awesome that the statute of limitations may not have run out on all of them. And occasionally, when I wasn’t participating in them, I became the target of one of Rusty’s pranks.

For example, always wanting to keep abreast of what was happening in town, like most small-town newspaper people I knew, I had a police scanner in my office, one at home, and one in my car. Now I’ll admit, back in those days I may have occasionally ignored a traffic law or two. I wouldn’t think of speeding through a school zone, but occasionally I might not come to a full stop at a stop sign if there was no other traffic around. But hey, at least I slowed down!

One day I went to the post office and when I left, I made a “California stop” at the stop sign on the corner. I was almost through the intersection when a voice said, “You really need to stop at those signs, Nick.” Okay, we all hear voices in our heads, don’t we? Or is that just me? But usually, those voices don’t speak out loud. This one did!

Since I was the only person in my minivan, I looked at my big German Shepherd, Magic, sitting in the passenger seat, wondering when the heck he learned to talk. Then that same voice said, “Don’t blame it on the dog. You’re the one that ran stop sign.”

By then I thought I really was hearing voices, and I might need to call my shrink. But about that time I heard a siren and looked in my rearview mirror. And there was Rusty in his patrol car with his lights flashing right behind me, holding up his radio’s microphone and grinning. So I did what any law-abiding pillar of the community would do in a situation like that. I gave him the finger and went on about my business.

The story quickly made the rounds around town, and over the next few days several people asked me if I wanted to sell that talking dog of mine. I told them no, while I quietly plotted my revenge.

A few weeks later, a new business was opening in town and they had a ribbon-cutting to celebrate the grand opening. Members of the Chamber of Commerce, other business owners, the mayor, and the Town Council all turned out for the occasion. I was supposed to be there to cover the event for my newspaper, and I was running late. I jumped out of my van with my camera, and Rusty, who was there representing the police department, told me I had not locked my car. I said that was okay, I knew a cop who would keep an eye on it for me. Rusty said no, I had to go back and lock it. So I did, just to humor him.

After the ribbon-cutting and the celebratory round of applause, I went back to my van and realized that Rusty’s car was running. Looking around, I saw him talking to the mayor. So, once again, I did what any law-abiding pillar of the community would do in a situation like that. I reached in and turned on the siren and roof lights, then I locked Rusty’s car and beat a hasty retreat.

A lot of cops I knew kept an extra key to their vehicle in their pockets. Rusty was not one of those cops. So everybody got to stand there and watch his lights flashing and listen to his siren wailing while he went into the new store and used their phone (this was before the days of cell phones) to call the police department and ask them to send an officer to his location with another set of keys. It turns out nobody could locate an extra set of keys, but an officer with a Slim Jim was able to eventually open the car.

I made myself scarce for a week or two, always looking for Rusty anytime I ventured out, until the heat was off. Who says cops and news reporters can’t get along?

Thought For The Day – If you were in the path of the total eclipse and didn’t get raptured, you may be entitled to compensation.

Everybody Still Here?

 Posted by at 12:35 am  Nick's Blog
Apr 092024
 

Well, are you all still here or did you get raptured yesterday during the eclipse? I must live in a town full of sinners because nobody here got raptured. To be honest, I was really looking forward to it. No, not for myself. I knew there was no way I was going to get to join the party. But I figured if all those people were gone the stores and streets might not be so crowded. This is probably the 10th or 15th predicted rapture I’ve lived through. Someone more cynical than me might think that it’s all bovine scatology.

So how did we spend our time during the eclipse? I had a doctor’s appointment in Tuscaloosa yesterday afternoon, and it rained all the way into town. Later when we walked outside Terry said it seemed like it was getting awfully dark and I reminded her that there was an eclipse going on, though with all the clouds you wouldn’t have known it anyway.

Since we had skipped breakfast, we stopped at McAlister’s Deli for a late lunch/early dinner, or as I call it, linner. I ordered a Cuban sandwich and Terry ordered the New Yorker, and then we split them. I’m not sure which of those two I like best because they’re both delicious.

From there we stopped at the UPS Store for Terry to send something back to Amazon, and then at Publix to pick up a few things. While we were there, Terry picked up a box of angel hair pasta to put in our cart and apparently the box was never sealed because when she took it off the shelf one end opened and everything came pouring out. A lady standing next to her said, “They can’t blame that one on you, I saw the whole thing” and they shared a laugh.

Our last stop on the way home was at Tractor Supply to pick up some grass seed and fertilizer. We’re supposed to have a lot of rain in the next couple of days and I want to get the seed out and try to get some grass growing in the areas that were dug up for the septic field lines.

After I mentioned setting up a family tree for my Tinder Street book series in yesterday’s blog, I received messages from several readers saying they hoped I would make it available to either view online or include it in the books so they can keep track of all of the different characters, too. I’m going to try to figure out some way to make that happen.

As I said, we’re supposed to have quite a bit of rain in the next few days, and hopefully I will be able to get started on the next book in the series. I’m really looking forward to it, and I know a lot of readers are, too.

And finally, 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 – We keep a potato masher in a kitchen drawer because sometimes it’s fun not to be able to open that drawer.

Apr 082024
 

Sometimes you live with something because it works, even if it’s not always convenient. I do that with the characters in my books. For each series, I have a list of the main and recurring characters, their physical traits, and a small bit of their history that I can refer to as I’m writing. That has worked fine for the Big Lake and John Lee Quarrels series.

However, I have found that with the Tinder Street family saga, there are so many characters from so many generations that it has become cumbersome to keep track of them. Each book in the series covers a five-year time span, and sometimes the children don’t play a major role until they are older. Then I have to look back and say, who is Roger? Oh yes, he’s Margaret’s son. When was he born? That’s right, he’s married to JoAnn. How many children do they have and how old are they?

But as I was in the shower Friday night, I had a thought. Don’t ask me why, but I get many book ideas while I am in the shower. I’m sure Sigmund Freud would have something to say about that. Anyway, because I’m about to begin the next book in the Tinder Street series, I was going over the characters in my head and getting confused by who was old enough for military service and such. Then it hit me I have a tool that would make life very easy. All I had to do was go into ancestry.com and create a family tree. So that’s what I did yesterday.

I actually named it the Tinder Street family tree, because the series tells the stories of two intertwined families starting from just before World War I, and will eventually end with the Vietnam War.

So that’s what I did much of yesterday. It wasn’t as easy as it sounds because I had to go back through each book and see when a character first appears and add a birth date for them, as well as the death date for ones who have died as the series has progressed through the first five books. I have to admit that as I was looking through the different books in the series and reliving some of the events in the character’s lives, I became even more excited than usual to get started on The War Years, the next book in the series.

Congratulations Marshall L McLaurin, winner of our drawing for an autographed copy of my book Overlooked Florida, featuring over 30 interesting places from the Panhandle to Key West. Florida is filled with wonderful attractions that most visitors never get to see. Frontier forts, wildlife refuges, historical museums, Cracker homesteads, and quaint fishing towns are all waiting for you away from the glitter and glitz of Orlando and Disney World.

We had 82 entries this time around. Stay tuned, a new contest starts soon. Note: Due to the high shipping cost of printed books and Amazon restrictions on e-books to foreign countries, only entries with US addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed. After 90 days, unclaimed prizes revert back to the drawing pool for a future contest.

And finally, 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 – I won $10,000 on a scratch off lottery ticket and donated a quarter of it to charity. I now have $9,999.75.

Apr 072024
 

Someone gave me a bunch of cinder blocks a while back, which I didn’t have any immediate need for, but I knew our son Travis could use them at his place. He’s always got some project going on over there.

Travis came over yesterday and we loaded them all up into the back of my Ram pickup. There were close to 30 of them, but it didn’t take us long to get them loaded.

But before we did that, Travis had to take a test ride in the new Real Relax Favor 08 full body massage chair Terry got for me. I think he was a little skeptical of it at first, but within a minute or two he was saying, “Oh, my!” With 18 massage settings, this chair provides you with everything except a happy ending.

Once we had the blocks in the truck, we took them over to his place and dropped them off. I’m sure they’ll be put to good use.

Back at home that massage chair was calling to me, and who am I to say no? I spent about half an hour in it, and by the time I got out I had just enough energy to make it to the few steps to my recliner, where I slept for well over an hour. Definitely a lazy day for me.

I woke up in time to enjoy an amazing dinner of shrimp and grits that Terry had been preparing while I was sleeping. I defy anybody to find a more delicious meal anywhere in the country. Huge pieces of succulent shrimp along with bacon and the best cheese grits you’ll find anywhere. Life is good here at Rancho Russell. 😊

There’s still time to download your free copy of Stillborn Armadillos, the first book in my John Lee Quarrels series about a small town Florida deputy. It is free until midnight, so get it while you can.

Today is your last chance to enter our Free Drawing for an autographed copy of my book Overlooked Florida, featuring over 30 interesting places from the Panhandle to Key West. Florida is filled with wonderful attractions that most visitors never get to see. Frontier forts, wildlife refuges, historical museums, Cracker homesteads, and quaint fishing towns are all waiting for you away from the glitter and glitz of Orlando and Disney World.

To enter, 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. Note: Due to the high shipping cost of printed books and Amazon restrictions on e-books to foreign countries, only entries with US addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed. After 90 days, unclaimed prizes revert back to the drawing pool for a future contest.

And finally, 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 – I didn’t do anything yesterday, and today I’m going to pick up right where I left off.

Happy Birthday Kenny

 Posted by at 12:14 am  Nick's Blog
Apr 062024
 

Before I do anything else today, I want to wish our son-in-law, Kenny Conrad, a happy birthday. Kenny is a great guy, a loving husband, and a fantastic father. What more could we want for our daughter? Well, to have them live nearby. But aside from that, no complaints here. I hope you have a wonderful day, Kenny. We’re looking forward to you coming and visiting one of these days. I’ve got a bunch of guns I need you to help me shoot.

Yesterday was spent doing pretty much what I did the day before, research for The War Years, my next Tinder Street book. I have a couple of doctors’ appointments next week, but between them I hope to get started on the sixth book in the series.

I also did some more experimenting with Amazon’s new AI audiobook narration program. I haven’t been impressed with computer generated voices in the past. But I have to say that overall, this concept sounds pretty darn close to a live narrator. I’m going to play around with it a little more. As I’ve said before, I don’t sell enough audiobooks to make it worth the expense of paying a narrator, but this might be a way to make my books available in that format for readers who are interested.

Speaking of books, Stillborn Armadillos, the first book in my John Lee Quarrels series about a small town Florida deputy, is free this weekend on Amazon. If you haven’t tried the John Lee series, now is your chance. It is a bit grittier than the Big Lake series, but it has a very strong readership, and I hope you’ll enjoy it, too.

After talking to our son Travis the other day about different things, he mentioned he uses an extendable magnet for picking up nails and things that get lost on his property, to avoid flat tires. Since I’ve had some flats myself, I thought that might be a good idea, and I ordered this one from Amazon. It arrived yesterday and I’m impressed. It has an extendable handle from 24 to 38 inches, a three inch head, and a 50-pound capacity.

The other day a blog reader asked me how Terry’s cats were doing, because I always talk about Alli but never the cats. They are doing fine, living their best life. They definitely keep Terry busy and love climbing on her computer while she’s working, or getting into her loom. That’s what cats do, right? Here’s a picture of them hanging out in front of the fireplace, with Mae Lin on the left and BeeBee on the right. I tried to get them to look at me instead of looking away when I tried to take their picture but they ignored me. That’s what cats do, right?

Be sure to enter our latest Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an autographed copy of my book Overlooked Florida, featuring over 30 interesting places from the Panhandle to Key West. Florida is filled with wonderful attractions that most visitors never get to see. Frontier forts, wildlife refuges, historical museums, Cracker homesteads, and quaint fishing towns are all waiting for you away from the glitter and glitz of Orlando and Disney World.

To enter, 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. Note: Due to the high shipping cost of printed books and Amazon restrictions on e-books to foreign countries, only entries with US addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed. After 90 days, unclaimed prizes revert back to the drawing pool for a future contest.

And finally, 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 – Whoever said that money can’t buy happiness, simply didn’t know where to go shopping. – Bo Derek

Apr 052024
 

In a blog post a couple of days ago, I told you that I was going to be a guest on Tony and Peggy and Barthel’s Stressless Camping podcast. We met this fun and entertaining RV couple years ago, and I enjoyed visiting with them again for the podcast. We talked about my nonfiction travel books and my mystery novels, as well as some of the favorite two lane roads that Terry and I discovered when we were fulltime RVers. It was a lot of fun reminiscing about our days on the road. You can listen to the podcast at this link.

Even though I’m married to the best cook in the world, I do enjoy going out to dinner once in a while, and Miss Terry certainly deserves a break from the kitchen now and then. The other day we went to Dreamland BBQ in Northport for dinner. This is one of our favorite restaurants. I ordered the ribs, which are a huge serving and there was more than enough left over for dinner the next night.

Terry’s favorite is their loaded baked potato with a side order of fried green tomatoes, which she says are some of the best she’s found anywhere, and they gave her enough for two meals as well.

I had to take a picture of my pretty lady while we were at the restaurant.

Then she tried to break the camera on my phone by taking a picture of me.

I have always loved the dramatic sunsets in Arizona, as well as on the Pacific Northwest coast, but we had a nice sunset driving home from the restaurant, too.

After listening to the podcast yesterday morning, I spent much of the day researching America’s entrance into World War II for my next Tinder Street book, The War Years. I hope to get started on it in the next few days.

And thanks to the support from all of you, my newest book, Big Lake Accident, is doing fantastic. Yesterday it was ranked at #810 in the Amazon Kindle store out of the millions of e-books available.

Be sure to enter our latest Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an autographed copy of my book Overlooked Florida, featuring over 30 interesting places from the Panhandle to the Key West. Florida is filled with wonderful attractions that most visitors never get to see. Frontier forts, wildlife refuges, historical museums, Cracker homesteads, and quaint fishing towns are all waiting for you away from the glitter and glitz of Orlando and Disney World.

To enter, 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. Note: Due to the high shipping cost of printed books and Amazon restrictions on e-books to foreign countries, only entries with US addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed. After 90 days, unclaimed prizes revert back to the drawing pool for a future contest.

And finally, 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. What’s that they say about being a day late and a dollar short?

Thought For The Day – I was told I can look at an eclipse with a colander. I tried and it strained my eyes!

Talking Trash

 Posted by at 12:15 am  Nick's Blog
Apr 042024
 

Like a lot of people in this part of rural Alabama, we have a burn barrel to get rid of cardboard and paper and such, but I would much rather do the world a favor and recycle anything I can. However, that’s a concept that seems to be foreign to Pickens County.

Residents are required to have trash picked up by a company called Amwaste, which has been in the local news more than once because of failing to pick up regular trash for customers in communities where they have a contract. We have experienced that lack of service ourselves more than once. And they will not pick up more than six trash bags at a time. Large items or something to be recycled? Nope, they’re not gonna do that.

After a lot of asking around different city halls, I discovered that the landfill south of the county seat of Carrollton has a paper recycling center, and I have taken a lot of boxes there in the past. Yesterday I took a van load of boxes down there to recycle and found the gate locked and other vehicles also waiting to get in. Those included private citizens and a garbage truck. Everybody was frustrated because the gate has been locked a lot during their supposedly open hours, and more than one person said they were just going to dump their load in the road and leave it.

I drove back to the county seat to find out what’s going on and discovered that the county has a contract with Amwaste to run the county-owned landfill and recycling center. Apparently that contract ends the end of this month, and it seems they have just abandoned the place. I hope the new company does a lot better job.

On another note, isn’t this a great sight to see? Terry has been away from weaving for quite a while now, but she’s finally making time to get back to doing the things she loves. Look at that smile on her face. That makes my heart smile, too. 😊

She also knows how to make my tummy smile. She did it last night with this delicious homemade calzone filled with pepperoni, ham, capicola, salami, sopressata, and muenster cheese. I don’t even have to tell you how delicious it was. Just look at it,

It’s Thursday, so it’s time for a new Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an autographed copy of my book Overlooked Florida, featuring over 30 interesting places from the Panhandle to the Key West. Florida is filled with wonderful attractions that most visitors never get to see. Frontier forts, wildlife refuges, historical museums, Cracker homesteads, and quaint fishing towns are all waiting for you away from the glitter and glitz of Orlando and Disney World.

To enter, 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. Note: Due to the high shipping cost of printed books and Amazon restrictions on e-books to foreign countries, only entries with US addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed. After 90 days, unclaimed prizes revert back to the drawing pool for a future contest.

And finally, 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 – If you can’t look back at your younger self and realize that you were an idiot, you’re probably still an idiot.