Beyond Stuffed

 Posted by at 12:37 am  Nick's Blog
Nov 252022
 

The turkey wasn’t the only thing stuffed around here yesterday. Not by a long shot! Our friends Jesse and Jennifer had invited several people to their house for Thanksgiving dinner, and the ladies went all out getting ready for the big meal. Terry was up by about 8 o’clock Wednesday morning, making desserts, relish, and all kinds of other stuff. She didn’t stop until about 11 o’clock that night, and then she was up bright and early yesterday morning and back at it again! And she wasn’t the only one. Our friends Jennifer, Tami, and Kim were also doing the same thing.

Yesterday Jennifer and Tami each baked turkeys the traditional way while Terry smoked a turkey breast in her Orion smoker. It went on looking like this (top) and came out looking like this (bottom). And trust me, it tasted even better than it looked.

While the turkey was in the smoker, Terry was doing last-minute chores like making a big batch of rolls and some amazing pecan tassies.

I couldn’t begin to tell you all of the different delicious food that was loading down the table and counters in Jesse and Jennifer’s kitchen. All of that turkey, mashed potatoes, vegetables, and all kinds of delicious treats. By the time we finish stuffing our faces, I’m pretty sure all of us were ready for a nap.

I think there were ten of us at dinner, but nobody stood still long enough for me to get pictures of everybody. In this one, starting on the right, we have Jennifer, Kim, Scott, Scott’s son Tye at the end of the table, and then coming up on the left, Scott’s mother Pam, and our friend Jesse. Not shown are Miss Terry, Tami and her husband Dennis, or yours truly. A good time was had by all, and we appreciated the opportunity to spend time with our friends, blowing our diets.

Since I didn’t make my goal of finishing Big Lake Drunk by Thanksgiving, the next couple of days will be spent trying to wrap it up before we leave town on Tuesday. I am very close, but like they taught me in the Army, close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.

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 strongest people make time to help others, even if they’re struggling with their own personal problems.

Happy Thanksgiving!

 Posted by at 1:01 am  Nick's Blog
Nov 242022
 

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody. I hope wherever and however you celebrate the day, you are with people who love you.

When I think of what Thanksgiving is all about, I remember our first year as fulltime RVers. We were staying at an RV park in St. David, Arizona, a few miles from the Escapees RV Club’s Saguaro Co-op park in Benson.

We had spent the previous week at a dealer in the Phoenix area trying to get work done on our motorhome, and we had completely lost track of time. We were making the rounds at RV parks in the area, dropping off bundles of sample copies of the Gypsy Journal RV travel newspaper that we used to publish. When we stopped in at the Saguaro Co-op someone asked if we belonged to the club. I said yes, we did, and they asked if we were coming to Thanksgiving dinner that afternoon.

Terry and I were both surprised because we had no idea that it was Thanksgiving! We explained that we were new to the RV life and were staying at another nearby campground. With a welcoming smile, the lady we were talking to said, “That doesn’t matter, you’re part of the Escapees family, and we expect you to be here.” We tried to beg off, saying we didn’t have anything to bring to the potluck, and then a gentleman spoke up and said, “The only thing we want you to bring is yourselves. You’d better be here or we’ll come looking for you.”

That was our introduction to the Escapees, a large extended family of RVers, be they fulltimers, weekend campers, or snowbirds. We did go to that dinner, and we immediately felt like we were with family. That’s a pretty special feeling when you’re new to something and away from everybody you know.

Over time we joined several other RV organizations, as well as clubs for people with converted buses, which we later had. But we always told people that we might belong to FMCA or Good Sam or Bus Nuts, but we were Escapees. And even though we don’t RV anymore, we are still lifetime members.

I’ve had a lot of Thanksgivings in a lot of different places in my life. Sometimes I’ve been surrounded by family or good friends, and sometimes I’ve been all alone. I spent one of them in a bunker on the other side of the world and another at a hospital with a dear friend as his wife was fighting a losing battle with cancer. The one thing I learned in all that time is that it’s not about the turkey, or the dressing, or the pumpkin pie. It’s about the people you are spending the day with. I hope you have a good day wherever you are.

We will be leaving Tuesday to make a quick trip up to Alabama to take care of some business, and I’m not sure how long we will be gone. Maybe a few days, maybe as much as a week or so. Because it’s too hard to keep up with the free drawing entries when we are away from home, I won’t be holding one this week, and possibly not again next week, depending on when we return. But we will be back with more, I promise.

Thought For The Day – As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. – John F. Kennedy

Moving With The Music

 Posted by at 12:44 am  Nick's Blog
Nov 232022
 

Note: This is a blog about a fascinating museum we discovered in our travels as fulltime RVers.

We’re always looking for interesting places to visit and share with our readers, and we’ve found many wonderful and fascinating attractions while we’ve been poking around in every corner of America. But we’re always surprised at how many places that are right under our noses get overlooked while we research the next location down the road.

A good example is the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix, Arizona. Having called Arizona our home before we hit the road as fulltime RVers, and with Terry’s parents and sisters living here in the Valley of the Sun, we had seen signs and advertisements for the museum many times but never bother to check it out until now. Oh, what we have been missing!

With 14 galleries devoted to different geographical regions of the world, as well as an Artist Gallery and more, the 200,000 square foot museum is home to a collection of more than 15,000 instruments and associated objects. There is so much to see and do that you have to come early and stay late, because you’ll need every minute to see it all.

Jazz Exhibit

Interior_Orientation Gallery

Visitors are given hands free wireless headsets that play music keyed to the different exhibits as they move through the museums galleries. Don’t be surprised if you find your toes tapping and your body swaying to the music. I know ours did!

Turkey Exhibit

The variety of instruments on display is amazing! From primitive African drums to finely crafted guitars to a huge octobasse that towers over the room, there is something new to see everywhere you look.

Tom Lyre, Sudan

Ud, Iraq

Octobasse

You will also see instruments and stage costumes worn by some of your favorite stars of country, pop, blues, and rock and roll in the Artist Gallery.

Elvis Exhibit

Roy Orbison Exhibit

In the experience gallery, visitors can make their own music and actually play a variety of different instruments.

Experience Gallery

The Musical Instrument Museum is located at 4725 E. Mayo Boulevard in Phoenix and is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Parking is free but limited to passenger vehicles. Admission is $20 for adults, $15 for ages 13-19, and children ages 4 -12 are $10. Children under 4 are admitted free. Complimentary wheelchairs, scooters, and walkers are available. For more information, call (480) 478-6000.

Thought For The Day – Sometimes the thoughts in my head get bored and go for a stroll out through my mouth. This is never a good thing.

Busy As Bees

 Posted by at 12:49 am  Nick's Blog
Nov 222022
 

Even though I didn’t get any writing done yesterday, we were as busy as bees and got a lot accomplished.

After dealing with the morning’s load of e-mail, which seemed to be larger than normal for some reason, including not one, not two, but three different people contacting me who are generals or presidents of banks in other countries wanting me to know that one of their recently departed clients want me to be the benefactor of their estates which, depending on the e-mail, range anywhere from $16 million to over $55 million. My poor accountant works hard enough as it is, so I didn’t reply to all of those wonderful offers because I don’t want to put any more work on her than I have to.

I also had an e-mail from someone complaining that he has entered our free drawing every week for over a year and never won. I replied that the reason he has not won is because his entries immediately go into the spam folder because he insists on using funny names like Mighty Mouse and Superman, even though I very specifically say that you must enter with your own name. He shot back a reply saying he would never put his real name online, and I replied that his name is in his e-mail address. His reply to that was that since I had his name on his e-mail address, he shouldn’t have to use it in the contest. I didn’t bother replying to that one because the conversation was not going anywhere.

While I was doing that, Miss Terry was packaging the book from last week’s contest to send to the winner, who used his real name.

We left the house to go to my doctor’s appointment to get the results of the MRI I had on my hand and wrist last week. The doctor said it shows some degenerative damage as well as an issue with some tendons, and he is referring me to an orthopedic specialist. I didn’t have to go to a doctor to find out I was a degenerate. People tell me that all the time.

When we were done there, we went to Space Coast Credit Union and paid off Terry’s Chrysler Pacifica. We still had about a year to go on the loan, but I like to pay things off early and get them out of the way. We did the same thing with our house, my Mustang, and the pontoon boat. The truck will be the next one that we start making extra payments on, to whittle the balance down enough to pay off. People don’t realize how paying even an extra $50 or so a month on something reduces the balance dramatically because that applies directly to the principal.

Our next stop was at the post office to send the book to the contest winner, and by then it was getting late in the afternoon, and we hadn’t eaten, so it was time for vittles. We went to the Bagel But and had Cuban sandwiches and split an order of French fries, all of which was very good.

With our tummies full, we went to a trailer dealer near our house to get some prices on cargo trailers and find out what our half-ton Ram pickup is capable of towing safely. We are looking at trailers because there may be something coming up that we will need to be able to haul a bunch of things in. I’ll tell you more about that when I know more.

Then it was to Publix so Terry could buy several things she needed for Thanksgiving dinner, as well as some stuff to restock here at the house. I was surprised that the store wasn’t very crowded, but a friend of ours who works there told us that we had just missed the rush, and they expect to be crazy busy for the next couple of days.

After that, it was a quick stop across the street at Walgreens to pick up a prescription and then we came home. As I said, it was a busy day. We’re supposed to have rain for the next two days, and I plan to spend them working on my new book. I’m very close to the end now, and I want to see how it all comes out!

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. As with everything, the details are in the fine print.

Thought For The Day – Why is lemonade made from artificial flavors, but furniture polish is made from real lemons?

Nov 212022
 

Well, Thanksgiving week is upon us, and that means it’s almost that time of year. Time for the stores and malls to be flooded with people pushing and shoving to buy something for somebody who probably doesn’t even want what they’re buying, and then will spend the next year paying everything off so they can do it all over again next year. Isn’t that the American way?

As for me, I make it a point to avoid those kinds of places as much as possible from this week through the middle of January. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy buying gifts for the people I love, and I try to make sure that they get something they really want for Christmas. But with online shopping, it’s so much easier. And if I do buy something retail, I try very hard to do so from a small, locally owned business, even if it costs a few dollars more. Those people are my neighbors whether I know them or not, and I would rather support them than some big box store whenever possible.

I mentioned the other day that friends have invited us to their house for Thanksgiving dinner, but trust me, come Black Friday, this kid isn’t leaving the home. I’ll leave all that nonsense to the senseless hordes of shoppers who are excited because they’re going to save a buck or two on something and don’t mind clawing their way through a crowd to get to it.

Besides, Black Friday shopping can be very dangerous. Just ask Raymond Winters. He was an everyday family man who went shopping the day after Thanksgiving and found himself in a world of hurt, accused of murder, suddenly jobless, estranged from his family, and not knowing what his future would be or if he would even have a future. You can read all about it in my book Black Friday. That would be a better way for you to spend the weekend than going to the mall anyway.

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.

Congratulations, Marshall McLaurin, winner of our drawing for an autographed copy of Big Lake Scandal, the fifth book in my Big Lake mystery series. It’s the story about what happens when the richest man in Big Lake is murdered on the night he announced his bid for State Senator. The list of suspects stretches all the way from the small mountain town to the Governor’s office, and Sheriff Jim Weber’s investigation reveals a web of secrets, illicit sex, and shattered lives that teach him that nothing is what it appears to be and that sometimes the people we think we know are not at all what we believe them to be.

We had 76 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 and audiobooks to foreign countries, only entries with US addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed.

Thought For The Day – I don’t get nearly enough credit for all the things I manage not to say.

One Man’s Trash

 Posted by at 12:58 am  Nick's Blog
Nov 202022
 

We’ve all heard the old saying that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, and that is never more true than at an antique show. It’s always interesting to see the things that our parents and grandparents used up and wore out now becoming collectible. And there’s no better place to see an amazing collection of such things than at the big Renninger’s Antique Extravaganza, which is held three times a year in Mount Dora, Florida. Vendors from all over the country come to the show to offer everything from antique rocking chairs, and milk churns to old farming implements, any kind of tool you could ever imagine, rocks and geodes, metal signs, and more. Antique collectors and people looking for a fun day out come from far and wide to see what they have on display.

This show is huge, and you can’t see it all in a day. It’s just impossible. But yesterday, Terry and I, and our friends Jesse and Jennifer, did our best to see as much as we could. It was a beautiful day, not too hot, and with a pretty blue sky overhead. We wandered around through row after row of vendors, looking for treasures. Does anybody need a vintage copper wash tub to clean up after your holiday dinner?

Besides highway and street signs, there are all kinds of signs from businesses from long ago on display.

There was a lot of antique furniture as well as some custom stuff like this beautifully carved chair. I didn’t sit in it, but I bet it was comfortable.

All four of us found something we just had to bring home, ranging from Carnival glassware for Jennifer to an old stop sign for me, Terry bought a silverplate cruet set, and Jesse found a beautiful wooden burl that he will use for one of his woodworking projects.

By the time we were just too worn out to see any more my back was killing me, but it was worth it to have such a fun day out with our friends. Back in New Smyrna Beach, we went to Uncle Chicken’s for dinner, then later in the evening, after I napped in my recliner for a while, we had some of Terry’s delicious homemade apple crisp. The perfect way to end a perfect day.

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.

Today is your last chance to enter our Free Drawing for an autographed copy of Big Lake Scandal, the fifth book in my Big Lake mystery series. It’s the story about what happens when the richest man in Big Lake is murdered on the night he announced his bid for State Senator. The list of suspects stretches all the way from the small mountain town to the Governor’s office, and Sheriff Jim Weber’s investigation reveals a web of secrets, illicit sex, and shattered lives that teach him that nothing is what it appears to be and that sometimes the people we think we know are not at all what we believe them to be.

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 and audiobooks to foreign countries, only entries with US addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed.

Thought For The Day – The difference between who you are and who you want to be is what you do.

Nov 192022
 

Note: This is a repeat of a blog post from our days as fulltime RVers.

As soon as the first European settlers arrived in the New World, conflicts for control of the land began between the newcomers and the Native people who had always called what would become America home. Conflicts that would result in bloodshed and tragedies on both sides. As colonists pushed ever inland from the coast, wars were fought, treaties were made and broken, and year after year the Indians were pushed further back.

George Washington proposed a system of assimilation that encouraged the Indians to adopt the white man’s way of life, convert to Christianity, learn to speak and read English, and become one with the people of the newly formed United States. A major part of this new culture was the idea of individual land ownership, something that was totally alien to the Indians’ beliefs. How could one man own the land, any more than he could own the wind or the water?

But while assimilation may have been the official policy of the new country, in reality, individual greed and the belief that the Indians were no more than savages put more and more pressure on the government to force them off their traditional lands. By the time Andrew Jackson became president in 1829, public opinion was strong that they needed to be removed from their coveted lands by any means necessary, including force.

In 1830, Congress passed the Indian Removal Act, which authorized negotiations with southern Indian tribes for their removal to federal territory west of the Mississippi River in exchange for their ancestral homelands. Understandably, many tribes resisted the idea, which resulted in the forced expulsion of tens of thousands of Indians to the west, an event that became known as the Trail of Tears.

The hardships suffered by the Indians on their long trek west were nothing short of shameful. Prodded forward by armed troops, provided little in the way of food and supplies, and prohibited from hunting for food along the way, many of them perished before they ever arrived in their newly allotted land. And for those who did make it, even more problems lay ahead. To the whites, all Indians were the same, while in reality there were many cultural differences between the tribes, and many times traditional enemies were forced onto the same land. It was inevitable that trouble would follow.

In 1824, Fort Gibson was established near present-day Muskogee, Oklahoma to keep the peace between the newly arrived Western Cherokee and the Osage, who had been there much longer. Hostilities between the two had grown to the point where open warfare was likely.

A site was chosen near the mouth of the Grand River, and construction of the fort, a rectangular assortment of log buildings connected by a sturdy log stockade, with two-story blockhouses in diagonal corners, was supervised by Lieutenant Colonel Matthew Arbuckle. At that time it was the furthest west military post in the United States.
For the next 70 years Fort Gibson was a vital military post on the western frontier. It served as a final stop on the Trail of Tears for thousands of Cherokee, Creek, and Seminole Indians, a supply point before they went to their assigned lands, and a refuge for the often starving victims of the forced overland march.

Established in 1824, Fort Gibson served as a starting point for several military expeditions that explored the west and sought peace between the tribes in the region. It was occupied through most of the Indian Removal period then abandoned in 1857. The post was reactivated during the Civil War. The army stayed through the Reconstruction and Indian Wars periods, combatting the problem of outlaws and squatters. In 1890, the army abandoned Fort Gibson for the last time.

During its busiest time, while the Trail of Tears was active, the garrison at Fort Gibson ranked as the largest in the country. Among the many well known soldiers who were stationed at or passed through Fort Gibson headed for other assignments were Zachary Taylor (who would become the 12th president of the United States), Robert E. Lee (who would resign his commission to lead the Confederate army during the Civil War), Jefferson Davis (later president of the Confederate States of America), famed soldier and explorer Stephen W. Kearny, Nathan Boone (the son of Daniel Boone), and Sam Houston, who owned a trading post in the area before going on to Texas and leading its
struggle for independence from Mexico.

One relatively unknown but notable person who survived a brutal winter march along the Trail of Tears and spent some time at the fort was Milly Francis, dubbed the “Creek Pocahontas” by soldiers fighting in the First Seminole War.

In 1861, during the early days of the Civil War, Confederate troops seized the fort and held it until the next year before withdrawing as Union troops advanced on the area. Concerned that the Confederates would try to retake the position, a network of earthwork fortifications that completely enclosed the fort were built that would serve as a deterrent to any attempt to attack the fort.

The post was the launching point for the Battle of Honey Springs in July, 1863. Sometimes called the “Gettysburg of the West,” it was an important victory for Union forces in seeking to gain control of the Indian Territory. It was the largest confrontation between Union and Confederate forces in what would eventually become the state of Oklahoma. The battle was unique in the fact that on both sides, white soldiers were the minority. African American troops serving in the Union army and Indians supporting the Southern cause in the hope of regaining their traditional lands, made up most of the fighting force.

After the Civil War U.S. troops continued to occupy and improve the fort for the next quarter century. New buildings were constructed and the military presence helped ensure peace between the Indians and the settlers who were moving westward to help protect Indian Territory from the outlaws who preyed on the whites and Indians alike. But by 1890, the military decided Fort Gibson was no longer necessary and it was abandoned.

During the Great Depression days of the 1930s, the fort’s original log stockade and buildings were reconstructed by the Works Progress Administration (WPA). Today the sites of both the original log stockade and the later second, larger post are now part of Fort Gibson Historic Site, which is maintained by the Oklahoma Historical Society. A museum at the fort tells visitors about its important role in our history and serves as a guide to the different parts of the historic site.

Surviving or reconstructed structures include barracks, the powder magazine, post hospital, and other buildings. They are furnished much as they were during the days of the Trail of Tears.

Among the points of interest on the self-guided walking tour of the park is a small section of the original earthworks built during the Civil War, when the post was renamed Fort Blunt for a brief period.

Nearby Fort Gibson National Cemetery is the final resting place of soldiers who served at Fort Gibson and in later conflicts.

Today visitors can stop at the Commissary Visitor Center, which has museum exhibits about the history of the region, then explore the old fort, which is a National Historic Landmark, watch special living history events and programs throughout the year, and learn about the Trail of Tears and what became of the soldiers who served there and the people they were sent to protect.

The old fort is located at 907 N. Garrison, in Fort Gibson, Oklahoma. The fort is open Tuesday – Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and admission is free. For more information about Fort Gibson, call (918) 478-4088.

Be sure to enter our latest Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an autographed copy of Big Lake Scandal, the fifth book in my Big Lake mystery series. It’s the story about what happens when the richest man in Big Lake is murdered on the night he announced his bid for State Senator. The list of suspects stretches all the way from the small mountain town to the Governor’s office, and Sheriff Jim Weber’s investigation reveals a web of secrets, illicit sex, and shattered lives that teach him that nothing is what it appears to be and that sometimes the people we think we know are not at all what we believe them to be.

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 and audiobooks to foreign countries, only entries with US addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed.

Thought For The Day – Despite the high cost of living, it still remains popular!

Another 51 Done

 Posted by at 12:46 am  Nick's Blog
Nov 182022
 

5,100 words that is. Yesterday was another writing day for me, and things were flowing well, allowing me to get another two chapters, over 5,000 words, done in my new book. Can I wrap it up by Thanksgiving and have it out by the end of the month? I sure hope so.

Terry was just as busy, finishing editing and proofreading six chapters I wrote earlier. I will make her suggested changes today and get them sent off to my other proofreaders. Someone asked me if I make every change Terry suggests or do we sometimes disagree on something in a manuscript. Yes, we sometimes disagree, but she’s usually right, and I go with what she suggests. Just as I do with my other proofreaders. That’s why I have them. I can write a story, but they are the ones that polish it up and make it worth reading.

What are your plans for Thanksgiving? I said a couple of times that I wanted to follow the tradition that we established when we were fulltime RVers of going to a Chinese buffet for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners. It just seems a lot easier to me than all of the fuss and work of making a big dinner that takes hours to prepare and gets eaten in 15 minutes. But friends invited us to join them, so that’s the plan this year. They are cooking one turkey, and Terry is also going to smoke a turkey breast to add to the meal. I do love smoked turkey, no question about that!

Several years ago, we were with some folks who made fried turkey for Thanksgiving. I wasn’t sure how that would be, but it turned out to be absolutely delicious. I told Terry one of these days we may have to get a fryer and try it ourselves. But then I saw videos on YouTube of people burning down their houses and decided that maybe that’s not such a good idea after all. Let’s see, a klutz, an open flame, and hot oil. What could possibly go wrong?

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.

Be sure to enter our latest Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an autographed copy of Big Lake Scandal, the fifth book in my Big Lake mystery series. It’s the story about what happens when the richest man in Big Lake is murdered on the night he announced his bid for State Senator. The list of suspects stretches all the way from the small mountain town to the Governor’s office, and Sheriff Jim Weber’s investigation reveals a web of secrets, illicit sex, and shattered lives that teach him that nothing is what it appears to be and that sometimes the people we think we know are not at all what we believe them to be.

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 and audiobooks to foreign countries, only entries with US addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed.

Thought For The Day – I don’t know where you got your opinion from, but I hope you kept the receipt.

Nov 172022
 

A cold front has descended on much of the country, including here in Florida, and what a difference a day makes! The high here in Edgewater yesterday was 82 degrees, and today the weatherman says we can expect the high to be just 62. That’s a big difference! Break out the long johns, baby, Daddy’s shivering.

But I won’t complain about it because it’s a nice break from the hot, humid summer. And if the weatherman is to be believed, which I would never bet money on, we have seen the last of the high temperatures for this year, and there is very little chance of any more hurricanes this season. That’s just fine with me. We are entering the best time of year to live here on the Central Coast.

If this keeps up, before long we’ll be getting the kayaks wet again and the pontoon boat out of the garage. I’m definitely looking forward to that.

But first, I need to knock off those last few chapters of my latest book, Big Lake Drunk. Terry is busy editing and proofreading the last six chapters I gave her, and I hope to be able to send them off to my other proofreaders very soon.

However, we do plan to take Saturday off to go to Mount Dora for the big Renninger’s Antique Extravaganza, which is always a fun getaway. Antique dealers from all over the country come there to offer their wares, and even if we don’t buy something (who am I kidding, we always do), it’s fun just to poke around the different vendor booths and see all of the goodies on display. I keep hoping I will find a nice oak or walnut coat rack to hang all of my hats on, and I would absolutely love to find an old or even nice reproduction cigar store Indian. I’m not sure where I would put it since my office is pretty full already, but my slot machine might have to find a new home if I did.

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.

It’s Thursday, so it’s time for a new Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an autographed copy of Big Lake Scandal, the fifth book in my Big Lake mystery series. It’s the story about what happens when the richest man in Big Lake is murdered on the night he announced his bid for State Senator. The list of suspects stretches all the way from the small mountain town to the Governor’s office, and Sheriff Jim Weber’s investigation reveals a web of secrets, illicit sex, and shattered lives that teach him that nothing is what it appears to be, and that sometimes the people we think we know are not at all what we believe them to be.

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 and audiobooks to foreign countries, only entries with US addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed.

Thought For The Day – It doesn’t matter what you think of me because my friends inside my head think I’m amazing.

Up, Up, And Away!

 Posted by at 2:02 am  Nick's Blog
Nov 162022
 

The Artemis I rocket was scheduled to launch weeks ago, but technical delays, fuel leaks, and hurricanes kept pushing things back. The window for the latest launch opened at 1:04 a.m. this morning, but even an hour before that, the ground crews were struggling to deal with last minute details and problems that were cropping up. The rocket finally lifted off from the Kennedy Space Center at 1:48, and it certainly rocked the coast!

Of course, things are always happening right here on Earth, too. Yesterday I had an MRI on my right hand and wrist to see if they could figure out why I have been having so much pain the last few months. We normally have to go to Port Orange for MRIs and CT scans, but the company recently opened another facility in New Smyrna Beach, which is much closer to home. They asked me to arrive 30 minutes before my scheduled procedure, which we did, and they weren’t very busy, so we were in and out in good time.

When we left there, we stopped at Sweetwater Medical Supply, which provides my CPAP equipment, because they sent me the wrong hoses on the last shipment. While I was there, I also got a chin strap, which is supposed to help keep my mouth from opening when sleeping.

That only took a few minutes, and then we stopped at A OK Guns a couple of blocks away. In a blog post titled Busting Clays that, I wrote about shooting trap at our son’s house up in Alabama a couple of weeks ago, I reported that I had bought Terry a used Remington Model 1100 semi-automatic twelve-gauge shotgun a while back, but it doesn’t fit her well. I had purchased it from A OK Guns at a gun show a month or so before that, and when I stopped in last week, I mentioned that I needed to find something else for Terry that would fit her better. These folks are excellent to do business with, and the owner said if the gun didn’t work for her, I needed to pick out something else that would.

That something else turned out to be a new 20-gauge Charles Daly over-and-under, which I think will be much nicer for her. The owner of the shop gave me back all of the money I paid for the Remington, which covered the cost of the new shotgun, and put some cash back in my pocket. Then I made the mistake of looking around a little bit more and spotted a beautiful classic Beretta Silver Pigeon 20-gauge over-and-under. When it comes to fine shotguns, this is way up towards the top of the list in my mind and I’ve always wanted one. He made me an offer I couldn’t refuse, so it came home with us, too. Since I didn’t have a case to put it in, he loaned me one of his, and I wanted to drop it back off while we were in the area yesterday. I decided not to look at anything else because I didn’t want to hurt my credit card that much in one month, so I just dropped it off and got the heck out of there, budget intact.

From there, it was just another block or so to Stavro’s Pizza for an early dinner, which was as delicious as always.

After we ate, we decided to drive down and check out Flagler Avenue and the beach before we headed home. There are still lots of trees down in the area, and some of the shops still show damage from Hurricane Ian. Scientists predicted that as the water levels rise and the beaches erode, there are going to be fewer and fewer of beaches as the years go by. If yesterday was any indication, I believe that’s true because probably more than 1/3 of the beach is gone now. But that didn’t keep the surfers and a few families from being out having fun, even though it was a gray, cool day.

And why go to the beach unless you can take a picture of a pretty lady there, right? This is definitely the prettiest one I’ve ever seen on any beach anywhere.

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 never thought I would be one of those people who get up early to exercise, and it turns out I was right.

We Never Slow Down

 Posted by at 12:55 am  Nick's Blog
Nov 152022
 

It seems that we never slow down for very long. While we might get behind schedule sometimes, like I am with my new book, we are always busy doing something. Part of that this year was traveling, part of it was writing, part of it was dealing with medical issues, and some other things that have come up.

Let’s talk about writing and my new book first. Yesterday I finally completed my first read-through of six more chapters (somewhere around 16,000 words) and made changes to the way the story flowed, and corrections to errors that I spotted. Then I printed them out for Terry to edit and proofread, and once I make her changes I will send them off to my other two proofreaders. I’m over 66,000 words now, so probably somewhere past the three-quarter point of the book. Of course, I never have an exact word count on my Big Lake books. They have ranged from 67,000 words for Crazy Days In Big Lake to over 100,000 words for Big Lake Lynching. Wherever this one ends up, I’m getting close.

So what else is going on with us? When I spend several days or a week at a time chained to my desk as I have been, I eventually reach a point where I have to get out for a while. I reached that point Sunday and told Terry that we needed to go to Daytona Beach for dinner at Hibachi Grill & Supreme Buffet. It had cooled down quite a bit, so I opted for a for long sleeve shirt, and I was glad I did because by the time we got home, it was downright chilly!

Miss Terry has been busy getting things set up for her weaving project, but that never stops her from being the best cook in the world. Last night’s dinner was huge, delicious golden fried chicken breasts, along with fried corn that she cut off the cob. We’re talking about some good food there, folks. 😊

For the last few months, I’ve had a lot of pain on the outside of my right wrist, where the little bone is, about where you would wear a wristwatch if it was on your right hand. I really feel it a lot when I’m busy working at the computer, and I thought it was carpal tunnel syndrome. But when we were at our doctor’s for our checkups last week, I told him about it and he said no, he thinks it’s something else. So today I get to go for an MRI so they can see what might be wrong in there. If it’s not carpal tunnel, I suspect it might be arthritis since I have that in my fingers and some of the joints in my back. I’m telling you right now, getting old isn’t for sissies! But it still beats the hell out of the alternative, doesn’t it?

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 – You can’t hold on to people you have outgrown. It’s like trying to wear clothes that are too small.

He Created Horror

 Posted by at 12:25 am  Nick's Blog
Nov 142022
 

Note: This is a repeat of a blog post from our travels as fulltime RVers. 

He has been called the man who created the horror literary genre with his stories of murderers, madmen, people being buried alive, and mysterious women who return from the dead. Though Edgar Allan Poe is widely acknowledged as the inventor of the modern-day detective story and was an innovator in the science fiction genre, his fame rests on his tales of terror and the macabre, as well as on his haunting lyric poetry. And more than 165 years after his own death, the works of Edgar Allan Poe are even more popular than they were when he was alive.

Born in Boston on January 19, 1809, Poe was the second of three children born to traveling actors David and Elizabeth Poe. In those days acting was a disreputable profession, and Poe seemed to be haunted by his parents all of his life. His father abandoned the family, and by the time he was three years old his mother had died, leaving his siblings and himself orphans.

The children were taken in by different families and raised in Richmond, Virginia. Poe was raised by a wealthy tobacco merchant named John Allan and his wife Frances. While Mr. Allan hoped the boy would grow up to become a businessman, Poe dreamed of becoming a writer. By age of thirteen, he had compiled enough poetry to publish a book, but the headmaster at his school advised his foster father not to allow him to do so.

Poe was a talented and intelligent boy who excelled at athletics but often had trouble fitting in with his classmates. One described him as being “imperious, and though of generous impulses, not steadily kind or even amiable.”

Poe left Richmond in 1826 to attend the University of Virginia. While there he did very well in his classes but always short of funds, he began gambling and soon found himself deep in debt and had to burn his furniture to keep warm during the winter.

Furious with his foster father for not giving him enough money to pay for his education and living expenses, Poe returned to Richmond only to discover that his fiancée, Elmira Royster, had become engaged to another man in Poe’s absence. Humiliated and heartbroken, Poe soon enlisted in the Army, but not before publishing his first book, Tamerlane, when he was only eighteen.

With the help of John Allan, Poe received an appointment to the United States Military Academy at West Point, but he only stayed a few months before being kicked out. Broke and in debt, Poe moved to Baltimore and lived with his aunt Maria Clemm. He soon fell in love with her young daughter, Virginia.

He continued to write both poetry and short stories and caught the attention of Thomas Willis White, owner and publisher of the Southern Literary Messenger, located in Richmond. White published many of Poe’s stories and eventually hired him as an assistant editor. Although he admired Poe’s literary talents, White was not happy with his intemperance and his harsh literary reviews. White once wrote that Poe only read books so he could ridicule their authors. Still, he gained national recognition for his work at the Messenger.

On May 15, 1836, the 27-year-old Poe married his cousin Virginia in Richmond. She was only thirteen, which was legal as long as she had her father’s consent. However, her father was dead, so Poe falsely claimed that she was 21 in the marriage bond he filed in Richmond. By all accounts, it was a happy union, and though money was tight, Poe hired tutors and music instructors for his young bride. Sadly, the marriage lasted only eleven years; Virginia died in 1847 of tuberculosis when she was just 24 years old.

Following Virginia’s death, a heartbroken Poe bounced around from New York City to Boston and back to Richmond, working as editor at a couple of different publications and writing and selling his poems and short stories to many of the magazines of the day, but never really achieving financial success. He became a champion for higher wages for writers as well as for an international copyright law.

The publication of one of his most beloved stories, The Raven, made Poe a household name. He was able to draw large crowds to his lectures and to demand better pay for his work.

But with his growing success came growing criticism, and many of the authors he had besmirched in the past looked forward to his downfall. Indeed, even with his growing fame, Poe was on a downward spiral. There were rumors of alcohol and drug abuse, though these may have been unfounded or exaggerated by his enemies.

On a trip to Philadelphia, Poe stopped in Baltimore and disappeared for five days. He was eventually found in rapidly declining health and was sent to Washington College Hospital, where he died on October 7, 1849 at the age of forty. The exact cause of Poe’s death still remains a mystery.

Just as the often bizarre characters in his stories captured the public imagination, so, too, has Poe himself. Most see him as a morbid, mysterious figure tortured by his past and seemingly fated to die alone and bitter, but much of that is pure legend fostered by Poe’s greatest literary rival, Rufus Griswold. Griswold hated Poe because of the scathing reviews of his own work that Poe had written, and after his death, he took every opportunity to defame his enemy.

Griswold wrote an obituary and later a memoir that portrayed the late author as an amoral drunkard given to womanizing, who had burned every bridge he ever crossed. Unfortunately for him it backfired, and today, while Poe’s name is a household word, Griswold is merely remembered as the author’s first biographer.

Today the Poe Museum, housed in the oldest home in Richmond, Virginia, honors the memory of the troubled author who brought the world such great works as The Tell-Tale Heart, The Murders in the Rue Morgue, The Cask of Amontillado, and the last complete poem he composed, Annabele Lee.

Though Poe never lived in the home, which dates back to around 1750 (none of the places where he lived in Richmond have survived), the museum has the largest collection of the famous author’s personal belongings and memorabilia in the world. Displays include many items from his life and examples of his many works. These include the bed he slept on as a boy while living with the Allans, the writing desk he used while working at the Southern Literary Messenger, complete with the chair that Thomas White is said to have cut the back from to encourage Poe to sit up straight, and the pair of Old Sheffield Plate candelabra under which he wrote The Bells.

Other items in the museum’s collection include first editions of several of Poe’s poems and stories, a page said to be from one of his West Point textbooks, a small trinket box and mirror that belonged to Virginia Poe, and the author’s trunk, which he left behind in Richmond when he took his ill fated trip to Philadelphia. It contained most of Poe’s worldly possessions, which included some clothing, Virginia’s mirror, and some manuscripts. The key to the trunk was found in Poe’s pocket after his death, two weeks after leaving Richmond for the last time.

Located at 1914 -16 East Main Street in Richmond, the Poe Museum is a must stop for any Edgar Allan Poe fan and for anyone interested in American literature and early nineteenth-century Richmond, where Poe lived and worked.

The museum is open Tuesday – Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $10 for adults and $7 for senior citizens and students. Besides its extensive collection of Edgar Allan Poe artifacts and memorabilia, the museum has a small but well stocked gift shop where visitors can purchase Poe’s books and souvenirs of their visit.

The streets in the area are not suited for RVs, and parking is limited to passenger vehicles, so leave your RV at one of the area campgrounds and drive your tow vehicle or dinghy when you visit. For more information on the Poe Museum, call (804) 648-5523 or visit their website at http://www.poemuseum.org.

A lot of you do your online shopping by clicking this Amazon link or the Amazon Search box at the top right sidebar of this blog. We appreciate that, because when you purchase an item on Amazon any time of the year from one of our links, we earn a small commission, which helps us offset the cost of publishing the blog.

Thought For The Day – Be stronger than your excuses.

Nov 132022
 

Except for dealing with Hurricane Nicole, pretty much all I’ve done for the last week is read through and make corrections to several chapters of my new Big Lake book. That’s an awful lot of words and I still have more to go, I think one or two more chapters before I print them out for Terry to edit and proofread.

I’m not sure why this book is taking so much longer than I expected because it’s not going to be any longer than the others in the series, but it just seems to be slow progress. Part of that is the extra research it has taken to get some of the details right, but things usually go faster than this. Hopefully, when it’s done my readers will think it was worth the delay.

Besides everything else that she does to keep our house and business flowing along, as I reported the other day, Miss Terry has been busy getting a new weaving project ready to go. She has all the wool yarn on the loom now but still has to tie everything up before she starts the actual weaving process.

And my twisted mind would be remiss if I didn’t mention that yesterday was the anniversary of one of the most hilarious (read sick) misadventures to ever happen on the Pacific Northwest coast. In November of 1970, the body of an eight-ton, forty-five foot long sperm whale washed up on the beach at Florence, Oregon.

Local folks were understandably disturbed because a dead whale smells like, well, a dead whale. It doesn’t exactly make for a pleasant day at the beach. Of course, there are always looky lous who have to come and check out something like that, and local officials worried that some fool might try climbing onto the dead creature and get hurt. And there was also the very real possibility that the body might burst as gases built up inside the whale during decomposition.

So what do you do with a giant dead whale? State officials pondered the question, and somebody came up with the bright idea of using explosives to blow it into small pieces that would then be washed away by the tide or devoured by seagulls and other creatures.

A large crowd of local people and reporters waited on the beach while Assistant District Highway Engineer George Thornton and his crew prepared the half-ton dynamite charge. What happened next can only go down as one of the most bizarre scenes ever recorded.

When the dynamite went off, a huge cloud of gore flew into the air, and the people gathered began to scream and run as they were pummeled by pieces of bloody, stinking dead whale. One large chunk of whale blubber (one report said it weighed more than forty pounds) slammed into the roof of a car and crushed it. Fortunately, nobody was seriously injured, and one chagrined official involved in the fiasco later admitted to reporters that “maybe we used too much dynamite.” Ya think?

Here is a YouTube video about the incident, but you might not want to watch it while you are eating breakfast.

But time heals all wounds, and the good people of Florence eventually decided to celebrate the crazy incident with T-shirts and other souvenirs, and Florence even has an Exploding Whale Memorial Park.

That’s making lemonade when life gives you lemons, right? I’m just glad that old saying doesn’t say you should make fish sticks when life gives you fish. Or dead whales.

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 – You can only be young once. But you can be immature forever.

November Q&A

 Posted by at 12:51 am  Nick's Blog
Nov 122022
 

How about some questions from blog readers to start your weekend?

Q. We found what seems to be a good deal on a 2003 Alfa See Ya diesel pusher motorhome. The interior looks almost new, but the exterior has what I can only describe as large pimples all over both sides. I asked the saleswoman twice what caused them and if it was going to be an issue, but she changed the subject both times and never did answer. Have you run across this and can it be fixed?

A. This was a common problem with Alfa motorhomes, and my understanding is that it was caused by using substandard adhesive on the sidewalls. These blemishes can get worse and lead to delamination. The company went out of business in 2008 and filed for bankruptcy. The cost of replacing the sides would be prohibitive, in my opinion.

Q. Why in the world did you stay to ride out Hurricane Nicole when you showed pictures of houses falling into the ocean in your blog? That was beyond foolish.

A. Then I guess most of our neighbors are also fools because everyone stayed put. We have lived here long enough to be able to get an idea of what is coming our way, and we would not have hesitated to leave if we felt it was necessary. Our house is not on the beach and subject to the erosion that caused those buildings to collapse.

Q. I am a big fan of your books, especially the Tinder Street historical series. When will the fifth book be out?

A. I am finishing up my next Big Lake mystery and then will start on A Changing World, the next Tinder Street book. It will come out after the first of the year.

Q. Is it legal to let our two teenage sons ride in the travel trailer when we are on the road? They get bored sitting in the back seat of the truck.

A. It depends on the state, but regardless of the law I would not recommend it. The passengers could be seriously injured in an accident because travel trailers and fifth wheels usually don’t have seat belts or airbags, and they are not built to withstand a crash. Here is a link to a website with state-specific information. https://teamcamping.com/can-you-ride-in-a-travel-trailer-state-guide-included/

Q. You wrote about some new ceiling fans you bought and put up, but I can’t find the blog about how to order them. Can you help me out, Nick?

A. They are Jinweite ceiling fans, and we bought them on Amazon. We are very happy with them.

Q. I was impressed to read that you have made over a million dollars from your books on Amazon. That is quite an accomplishment. I told my brother about it and that you are self-published. He said that is impossible, that self-published books never sell that many copies, and that you must have a publisher. Was I wrong?

A. You were not wrong. There are many self-published authors like myself who have earned well over a million dollars in royalties.

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 wife tells me I can be an idiot sometimes. I think it’s very nice of her to give me permission.

The Day After

 Posted by at 1:02 am  Nick's Blog
Nov 112022
 

We had a somewhat restless night Wednesday night, awakened several times by our computer backup power supplies kicking in and out when the power would flicker on and off and occasionally by the sound of heavy wind and rain. But by the time we woke up yesterday morning, the world looked much different. There was a strong breeze blowing, but the rain had stopped, and the storm had moved well away from our area.

There was no damage here at our house, but our boat dock is completely submerged in water, as well as much of the parking lot down there.

But in other places not that far away from us, the storm did terrible damage. Twenty miles north of us in Wilbur-By-The-Sea, a small suburb of Daytona Beach, a number of beachfront homes and condos were collapsing into the heavy surf because the seawalls had been damaged by Hurricane Ian last month and there was no time to repair them before Nicole hit. Here are several pictures I took from the TV screen from News Channel 6 in Orlando. It’s sad to see so many beautiful homes and so many people’s dreams reduced to rubble.

Further north, in Flagler Beach, the historic pier was heavily damaged by Ian, and Nicole added even more damage. Part of US Highway 1 completely collapsed as the dunes and the underlying ground washed away.

Compared to all that, we sure got by easy. Except for flickering on and off a few times during the night, there were no power outages for us here. As soon it was safe, hard-working local and linemen from out of state were busy repairing things and getting power back to those who did lose it.

In one of those ironic history does repeat itself moments, last night Candace Campos from News Channel 6 showed how in 2004, Hurricanes Janine and Charley hit Florida 43 days apart. This map shows where they made landfall and how they progressed across the state.

Now, in 2022, Hurricanes Ian and Nicole also hit us exactly 43 days apart. And look at the map of the paths those two took! They all made landfall in almost exactly the same spot and followed almost exactly the same routes across the state. That’s kind of eerie, isn’t it?

We spent the day at home, me making corrections to chapters in Big Lake Drunk that I wrote before the storm hit. I still have a couple more chapters to work on before I can print them out for Terry to edit and proofread. I also did some after-hurricane clean up in the yard, picking up a few branches and palm fronds that had been blowing around and moving our big roll about garbage can and two recycle bins from the garage and putting them back on the carport where they belong. Terry spent much of the day getting a weaving project set up and is looking forward to getting going on it.

Before I close, I want to thank all of our veterans for their service and the sacrifices they have made for our country. Remember, a veteran is someone who at one point in their life, wrote a blank check payable to the United States of America for an amount up to, and including, their life.

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 all want to live on top of the mountain, but all of the happiness and growth happens while we are climbing.

We Are Okay

 Posted by at 12:25 am  Nick's Blog
Nov 102022
 

Thank you everybody for your concern for our safety, as well as your comments on yesterday’s blog about managing to pay off our house. They are much appreciated.

The outer bands of Nicole are coming ashore and we have some high winds and rain, but we are okay. The actual eye is supposed to make landfall quite a way south of us and cross the state to the west side before it turns north. We are well out of the cone unless something changes at the last minute. As of the 11 o’clock news last night, they said by noon today we will be through the worst of it and things will start clearing up considerably.

So far we haven’t had any power outages or other issues here at home, but several beachside condominiums in nearby New Smyrna Beach and Daytona Beach have been evacuated because the heavy waves have damaged or washed away the sea walls protecting them and their structural integrity is very possibly damaged, or will be. Much of that damage to the sea walls happened in Hurricane Ian in October and this just exacerbates the problem. Compared to those folks we are doing just fine.

I am going to make this a short blog so I can get it out there and we can get to bed, just in case things do get worse during the night and we have to get up. More than likely, we will just sleep through everything and wake up when it’s all over. That’s my preference anyway.

Thought For The Day – If you spend your whole life waiting for the storm, you’ll never enjoy the sunshine.

Another Goal Achieved

 Posted by at 12:30 am  Nick's Blog
Nov 092022
 

I have always been a big believer in setting goals. Jim Summers, my favorite high school teacher and a dear friend as an adult, always referred to me as his Number One Son. When I was a teenager eager to get my driver’s license and my own car, he told me that I needed to figure out what kind of car I wanted, how much it was going to cost, and how I was going to earn the money to buy it. He said, “Son, there are a million people dreaming about cars as they stand on the sidewalk. If you want be driving by them, decide what you want and how you’re going to get it, and then make it happen.” I shoveled a lot of snow, mowed a lot of grass, and pumped a lot of gas, but by the time I was old enough to get my license, I not only had a car, I had a motorcycle, too!

Later on, a self-made millionaire several times over who advertised in my very first newspaper told me that the key to making money was to spend it on yourself. Then he cautioned me that that didn’t mean going out and blowing every dollar that came in the door. Just as my old high school teacher said, set a goal and then decide what you have to do to achieve that goal. He said it didn’t have to be a big goal, it could be something small, or it could be something big. The secret was to focus on that goal. Not just say, “I want a car” or “I want a boat,” or whatever, but to decide the kind of car or the kind of boat, or whatever it was. Then make a plan for what I had to do more than what I was already doing to be able to make that happen. And then once I achieved that goal, keep doing what I did to get there, and my bottom line would grow every year. And it works!

When we first moved here, I decided I wanted a Bennington pontoon boat, but to be able to afford it, I decided I needed to put out four new books in one year. I made it happen, and I sure like my boat.

I told myself that the first time my book royalties got to $100,000 a year, I was going to buy a new Mustang fastback. I even knew the color I wanted. In 2018 I reached that goal, and that Mustang is sitting in my garage.

Those are pretty big goals, no question about that. But an even bigger goal was set when we bought our house in October of 2016. Even though we had a 12-year loan, I told Terry that we would put away extra money in a bank account every month so we could pay it off in six years. Yesterday Terry wrote a check for the balance we owe on it. You can tell by the smile on her face she’s just as happy about that as I am.

Another very big goal of mine that I set a few years back was to hit one million dollars in accumulated royalties for my books by the time I turned 70. I actually hit that goal ten months ago, last December, and I turned 70 a couple of weeks ago.

I’m not sure what my next goal will be, but I’ll come up with one, big or small.

In other news, a lot of friends and family members are asking us if we are going to stay or evacuate with tropical storm Nicole headed for Florida and predicted to turn into a category one hurricane sometime tomorrow. You may remember the weather map I showed in yesterday’s blog, but one thing about the weather in Florida is you can never predict what’s going to happen, only what it was like after the fact. Last night’s weather map shows a different path, coming in further south of us before it makes its turn, taking the cone further away from us.

Of course, it can change paths again and go further away or come closer. No matter what happens, we’re going to get a lot of wind and rain, but I don’t think it is going to be anywhere near as severe as Hurricane Ian. We plan to ride it out here at home, but if things get ugly, we will head inland 30 or 40 miles, which should be more than sufficient to get us away from any kind of storm surge.

Because I don’t know what’s going to happen, and I don’t know if we are going to lose power or not, and if we do, how long it will be out, I won’t be running a free drawing this week since I won’t be able to monitor and approve entries. But once the sky clears, I’ll be back with a new one next week.

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 – 99% of the battle is getting yourself into the right state of mind.

Here We Go Again

 Posted by at 12:52 am  Nick's Blog
Nov 082022
 

Hurricane season in Florida is officially from June through November, but in the six years we have lived here on the Central Coast, halfway between Cape Canaveral and Daytona Beach, we have never seen one after mid-October. So, with October in our rearview mirror, we breathed a sigh of relief. But it looks like we may have been premature in doing that.

The weather reports say that subtropical storm Nicole is predicted to be a category 1 hurricane by the time it makes landfall tomorrow. As of now it looks like the storm will come ashore south of us sometime Wednesday, come across the central part of the state, then make a sharp U-turn and go up through Georgia and the Carolinas.

However it has a wide cone, so we will have some impact. Most likely a lot of wind and rain and some localized flooding. That is not good for some areas that are still flooded from Hurricane Ian, and for people all over the state who have not been able to repair damage from the last time around.

We don’t plan to evacuate because it doesn’t look like (hopefully) this is going to be a big deal. But today I will fill up all of our gas cans so we can feed our Honda generators, just in case power goes out again. Hopefully if we do lose power, it won’t be for too long. I’m trying to get this book finished and don’t want to lose my momentum.

Life on the coast is always an adventure. But who wants to be bored in their golden years, right? Stimulation like this helps keep us young, and it’s a lot more interesting than bingo and shuffleboard. 😊

It’s getting to be that time of year. Before you start your holiday shopping, maybe you should get yourself a copy of Black Friday to find out how going in search of deals changed one man’s life forever.

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 can’t tell you how thrilled I was that they honored my ex-wife by naming a street after her!

Thought For The Day – You can’t always control what’s happening, but you can control the way you respond to what’s happening.

Busting Clays

 Posted by at 12:49 am  Nick's Blog
Nov 072022
 

Even though it isn’t politically correct to a lot of people these days, I grew up around guns and was taught to shoot at a very early age. But not before I was taught gun safety. Besides being an excellent shot, my dad was a hard taskmaster when it came to carelessness with firearms, and the first time you did something wrong would be a long time you ever held a gun around him again.

I’ve enjoyed the shooting sports for a long time, everything from formal target shooting to informal plinking to shooting trap. Unfortunately, there aren’t many places to shoot around here except indoor ranges. So when we went to see our son Travis and his wife Geli in Alabama, we took a few shooting irons with us since they live out in the country, and there are plenty of places to do it safely.

Shooting trap has always been one of my favorite sports, and we took a bunch of clay pigeons with us. We stopped at a Walmart and bought a target thrower to use when we were doing it, and at the house, it took Travis and Terry an hour or so to put it together. Yes, some assembly required.

Then we went up to the back 40 and started busting clay pigeons. This was the first time to try out my Charles Daly over and under twelve gauge, and it is definitely a sweet shooting gun.

But it was kind of embarrassing that Travis, who has never had an interest in shooting, busted more clay pigeons with it than I did by a wide margin. Terry said he’s a natural, but my ego demands I think it was beginner’s luck.

The ladies got in on the action, too. This was Geli’s first time shooting a shotgun, but she took right to it.

I bought Terry a Remington Model 1100 semi-automatic twelve gauge at a gun show a while back, but it doesn’t fit her well, so we will be looking for something more suitable before our next shooting session.

Even though the shotgun wasn’t a good match for her, she still smoked a few clay targets. Then she showed that she’s no slouch with a handgun, either, trying out her new Ruger LCP Max .380 pistol.

Unfortunately, the cheap Walmart target thrower broke the second day we used it, so I returned it for a refund. Then when we got back home, I went to see my buddy John at Edgewater Gun Shop and got a good deal on this much heavier, well-built model. It’s sitting in the garage, waiting for our next trip to Alabama.

Congratulations Steven Tiefel, winner of our drawing for an RV camping journal donated by Barbara House. Barbara makes several variations of these, and they all have pages where you can list the date, weather, where you traveled to and from that day, beginning and ending mileage, campground information including amenities at RV sites, a place for campground reviews, room to record activities, people met along the way, reminders of places to see and things to do the next time you’re in the area, and a page for notes for each day. We had 26 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.

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. Who says librarians don’t have a sense of humor?

Thought For The Day – Some cause happiness wherever they go; others whenever they go.

Still Not Rich

 Posted by at 12:33 am  Nick's Blog
Nov 062022
 

Well, as you can see, I didn’t win the big Powerball jackpot last night because I am still here spreading joy and sunshine this morning. I did win $7, which is not all that great of a return on the $20 I spent on tickets. But honestly, that’s okay. If I were to become suddenly rich, I would miss my kids and all of my friends. Not enough to give them my new address somewhere on a Caribbean island, but I would miss them.

Since I’m not rich, I am still at it, working on Big Lake Drunk. I got in another 5,000 words yesterday, which is a decent writing day for me. And I have to make a correction. I made a mistake in yesterday’s blog, reporting I had written 7,300 words. It was actually 9,300 words, and I updated the blog to say that. It definitely feels like I am on a roll, making up for lost time.

Did you set your clocks back? The official time was at 2 a.m. today, but Terry did ours before we went to bed last night. An author friend of mine says she doesn’t change the time on her clocks until sometime on Sunday when she watched a stupid TV show or gets hung up in a conversation that is going nowhere. She says she waits to reset them back then to get back that hour of her life that she wasted.

I mentioned a couple of days ago that we are supposed to have some coastal storms this coming week, and as saturated as the ground still is in some areas from Hurricane Ian, there will almost certainly be more flooding. Between the storms and all of the building going on around here, displacing so many critters, people are seeing all kinds of wildlife in areas where you don’t expect them. I told you about the water moccasin the Spectrum repairman and I saw in the canal next to our house a week or so after the hurricane, and yesterday somebody sent me this picture of an Eastern Diamondback rattlesnake seen not far from our place. They have to go somewhere, but when they are that close to homes and kids, it’s not a good thing.

Today is your last day to enter our Free Drawing for an RV camping journal donated by Barbara House. Barbara makes several variations of these, and they all have pages where you can list the date, weather, where you traveled to and from that day, beginning and ending mileage, campground information including amenities at RV sites, a place for campground reviews, room to record activities, people met along the way, reminders of places to see and things to do the next time you’re in the area, and a page for notes for each day.

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.

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 – It’s ironic that the two o’s in cooperate insisted on having their own separate sounds.