We Feel So Loved!

 Posted by at 12:15 am  Nick's Blog
Jan 172021
 

Thank you to everybody who posted comments on Facebook and the blog or sent e-mail messages from the blog wishing us a happy anniversary. You all make us feel so loved.

In spite of yesterday being our anniversary, it was kind of a frustrating day because somehow during the transfer of the blog domain away from Go Daddy, our Gypsy Journal.net e-mail got lost. David tried to re-forward it to our Go Daddy accounts, and it was sporadic. Sometimes we would get the e-mail forwarded to Go Daddy, and sometimes we wouldn’t. My son sent me three or four test e-mails, and none of them would show up anywhere, but Terry got one he sent her, along with some other e-mails.

And then I also got a bunch of e-mails dating back to 2008 that I read a long time ago. I have no idea where those came from. After working on it for most of the day and having me check and recheck as he tweaked things, David finally reset something to where it is going to our original Gypsy Journal.net account. That’s the last thing I have with Go Daddy, and though it doesn’t really hold anything, it’s paid through 2022, so we will get e-mail sent there for a while as we figure out some other way to handle it.

Sometime in the afternoon, while I was on the phone with someone, Terry heard a crashing noise and said something fell off the top of the house. I went outside, and it was the 25-foot tall conduit mast for the over the air antenna that was here when we moved in. Fortunately, it missed the Explorer and boat as it came down. We use Spectrum for TV and internet, so there was no reason for it to be there, and I kept saying someday I was going to pull it down. The strap holding it to the side of the house apparently rusted through, and Mother Nature did the rest for me with just a little bit of a breeze.

Speaking of breeze, it’s been breezy and chilly here. I honestly don’t think that same Mother Nature I just mentioned wants me to get my boat in the water. Every time I think we’re going to have a good day, something happens. The next few days look like they’re going to be more of the same, so I’ll just sit tight and wait for better weather. Meanwhile, I’ve got plenty of writing to do, and Terry’s got several projects she’s working on to keep her busy, so it’s not like we’ll get bored. Then again, we never do.

Today is your last chance 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 U.S. addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed.

Thought For The Day – What happens to nitrogen when the sun comes up? Does it become daytrogen?

Jan 162021
 

Can you believe this beautiful woman has been putting up with me for 23 years now? Don’t ask me why, because I have no idea. We all know she could do so much better.

Here’s proof, here we are on our wedding day. Things have changed a bit since then. Her hair is a lot longer, while  I have less, and it’s white.

But she’s just as beautiful as the first time I ever laid eyes on her. And even though I don’t think it’s possible to love her more than I do right this minute, I know that when I wake up tomorrow morning, I will love her even more.

As soon as the judge pronounced us man and wife, I made sure we signed that marriage license. I wanted something in writing in case she ever woke up and wondered what the hell she had gotten herself into!

Because we both ran businesses that we couldn’t get away from for long, we had a short honeymoon on the California coast. Here we are at Big Sur. It was a magical time.

So what do we do that makes us fall in love more and more with each other every day? We make the effort. We truly are best friends. In fact, we were friends long before romance ever entered into the picture, and that friendship, just like our love, has grown stronger over the years. We make time for each other. No matter how tired we are or what kind of day we’ve had, when we go to bed at night, we hold each other and cuddle for at least a half-hour or so, and the last thing we say to each other before we close our eyes is “I love you.” And when we wake up the next morning, that’s the first thing we say to each other. Then, no matter how busy our day is going to be, we always try to have that little cuddle time, that 15 or 20 minutes just enjoying being close to each other.

Somebody once accused us of being codependent. Maybe we are, I don’t know. But we love to be together, and it’s very seldom you’ll see one of us without the other right there. A lot of people have mentioned the fact that we are always holding hands, and when we go someplace, I always open doors for Terry. My dad told me a long time ago that, whether it’s your first date with a woman or your 50th anniversary, always treat her like you did on that very first date. My old man had some pretty good advice, don’t you think?

Happy anniversary Terry. I know that all I am, that anything I have accomplished in life, is all because of you. I love you with all my heart, darling.

Be sure to enter our latest Free Drawing. This week’s prize is 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 Sunday evening. Note: Due to the high shipping cost of printed books and Amazon restrictions on e-books to foreign countries, only entries with U.S. addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed.

Thought For The Day – The best thing to hold onto in life is each other.

Dry Eyes And YouTube

 Posted by at 12:05 am  Nick's Blog
Jan 152021
 

I didn’t get any writing done Wednesday because Terry had an appointment with her eye doctor down in Titusville to replace the plugs that they do every four months or so for her dry eyes. She’s been having more and more of a problem with it, and even expensive eyedrops haven’t helped, so he gave her some samples of prescription drops to try. She said they burn her eyes quite a bit when she first puts them in, but hopefully, they will help resolve the problem.

I made up for not working on Wednesday by cranking out 6,000 words in my new John Lee Quarrels book yesterday. I never know what the exact word count is going to be on a book until I’m done, but I am somewhere around two-thirds of the way into it now and I’m still hoping to have it out by the end of the month or else very early in February. Once that’s done I’ll start on my third Tinder Street book for all of you who keep demanding another one in that series, which is quickly becoming my favorite of all of my work.

The other day I mentioned that I couldn’t get the Samsung Smart TV in our living room to connect to the internet when I wanted to show Terry a movie on YouTube. Like anything else, whenever you have a technological problem, ask a kid. In this case, the kid was my son, who is in his 40s and isn’t a kid anymore. He told me that all I had to do was go to YouTube on my phone, select the video or movie I wanted, and then push an icon on the phone’s screen to share it on the TV. I did, and it worked great. Thanks. Travis!

We are still trying to get our COVID-19 vaccinations, and things are beginning to move at least a little bit here in Volusia County, Florida, but not nearly fast enough. Instead of making senior citizens sit in their cars overnight for a chance at the vaccine on a first-come, first-served basis, now they are doing it by reservation. Of course, when you try to call or go online to make a reservation, they are already booked up immediately. They have also started doing vaccinations at some of the Publix grocery stores in our area. I don’t care where we get the darn thing, I’d just really like us to get it, and then the follow-up dose.

A couple of weeks ago, I told you that our daughter-in-law, Geli, got the vaccine, and then on Tuesday of this week, she got the second dose. She said that except for a bit of soreness in her arm, she felt fine after both of them. Since Geli is a frontline medical worker dealing with COVID patients all the time, it’s a big comfort to us to know that she’s got it.

Several people have asked what’s going on with Terry’s AeroGarden, so here’s a picture I took yesterday. Things are really growing, and she has already harvested some of the basil, chives, and cilantro. If you look carefully, there’s one red strawberry, and I’m licking my chops waiting for it to get ripe. There are some smaller strawberries on there as well, and now the cherry tomato plants are starting to bud up and should be producing fruit. Overall, Terry is thrilled with her little home garden.

Be sure to enter our latest Free Drawing. This week’s prize is 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 Sunday evening. Note: Due to the high shipping cost of printed books and Amazon restrictions on e-books to foreign countries, only entries with U.S. addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed.

Thought For The Day – I once had a hen that could count her own eggs. She was a mathemachicken.

Jan 142021
 

We love getting off the interstate highways and taking the two-lane roads whenever we can. As I have said many times before, a Denny’s or a chain hotel at an interstate exit in Kansas is no different than one in Michigan or California. But the two-lane roads will take you to the real America. Small towns where you can sit in a diner on Main Street, where the waitress will call you honey or dear, and by the time you finish your lunch, you will know who is cheating on who, who just bought a new pickup truck, and who’s out of work. You will meet friendly people, see things you never imagined, and learn a lot about history in these small town gems scattered from border to border and coast to coast.

One of our favorite small towns is Inverness, Florida, located halfway between Interstate 75 and the Gulf Coast. With a population that hovers around 7,500 people, Inverness is a reminder of Old Florida, with its handsome 100 year old courthouse, quaint shops on the Square, and live oak trees draped with Spanish moss.

Located on the Tsala Apopka chain of lakes, which are popular with boaters and fisherman, Inverness and the surrounding area is laid back and friendly. A lot of snowbirds have found it to be a very affordable place to winter, and many who came for a one time visit have bought small homes or mobiles as their winter headquarters. While the community is small, it has everything you could want or need, from restaurants to a WalMart Supercenter, Lowes, a good hospital, and easy access to larger communities like Orlando and Tampa.

Built in 1912, the old Citrus County Courthouse is unique in that the building sits on a square lot at a 45 degree angle. Built in 1912, the building features a copper cupola topped with a belvedere, and if it looks familiar to you, it may be because the courtroom scenes from the 1961 Elvis Presley movie Follow That Dream were filmed there. The superstar and his entourage, including boat, RV, and Cadillac, spent six weeks in sleepy little Inverness.

Today County business takes place at a new courthouse a block away, and the old courthouse is the headquarters for the Citrus County Historical Society, which has an impressive local history collection. People here are proud of their history, and many of the old commercial buildings on the square have brass tablets that tell the history of the buildings and what businesses were housed there over the years.

We found an interesting little shop called Old Inverness Antiques tucked away in an alley behind the square and spent some time looking at all of the old treasures on display. Am I dating myself when I say that they had stuff for sale there that I remember using or having as a kid? Does that make me an antique, too?

It’s Thursday, so it’s time for a new Free Drawing. This week’s prize is 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 Sunday evening. Note: Due to the high shipping cost of printed books and Amazon restrictions on e-books to foreign countries, only entries with U.S. addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed.

Thought For The Day – Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are. – Benjamin Franklin

Success (I Think)

 Posted by at 12:41 am  Nick's Blog
Jan 132021
 

David Carr from Carr Communications has been busy the last few days moving my blog from Go Daddy to a new host, and I think he’s been successful. There were several times during the day yesterday when people couldn’t get to the blog, or if they could, there were no photos or something like that wrong, which was all part of the migration process. But I think that’s all behind us now. I’m looking forward to being able to not having to argue with Go Daddy on an almost weekly basis and being able to focus on the things I really need to get done.

So what did I do yesterday, besides standing by and talking to David by Instant Messenger as he was doing things? Well, I wrote another chapter in my new John Lee Quarrels book, proofed it, and then researched a couple of things to make sure I had them correct. As it turned out, I had one right and one wrong, so I had to go back and make some changes to the chapter to remedy that.

One of the great things about living on the Atlantic coast is that we get lots of seafood. Of course, we have not been going to restaurants since we got back from Arizona in March, but there is plenty of fresh seafood to be purchased at the local grocery stores and at Gary’s, our favorite meat market. The last time we were there, Terry got some nice cod fillets, and that’s what she made for dinner yesterday. They were the best I’ve ever had anywhere in my life.

After dinner, while Terry was doing the dishes (I keep offering to help her, and she keeps telling me no), I read over the chapter I wrote earlier to see if there was anything else that needed to be corrected, then we retired to the living room to watch TV. Two of our favorite shows were on, Finding Your Roots and This Is Us, and both were excellent episodes. I would love to sit down with Henry Louis Gates Jr., the host of Finding Your Roots, some time and spend an afternoon talking to him. Actually, listening to him. He has a brilliant mind.

Speaking of television, Sunday night, we watched the premiere of All Creatures Great And Small on Masterpiece Theatre. If you are familiar with James Herriot and his books about life as a veterinarian in rural England, you’re going to love this remake of the 1970s TV series. We are hooked and have it set to record automatically.

We have Samsung smart TVs in our living room and bedroom, and I was trying to access YouTube on the living room TV last night to show something to Terry, and for some reason, I couldn’t get it to open. In fact, I couldn’t do much with it at all. There was a message on the screen saying I needed to update our web browser, but every time I tried to update it, I got a message saying the update failed, or else that there was no update available. I don’t know what that’s all about, but I’ll have to do some research and figure out what I’m doing wrong. I tried the same thing with our bedroom TV and had no problem at all.

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. This one is courtesy of my friend Jim Harper.

Thought For The Day – During my recent colonoscopy, I had my doctor write a note to my wife telling her that my head is not up there!

Boats And Birds

 Posted by at 12:38 am  Uncategorized
Jan 122021
 

Well, I still haven’t gotten my pontoon boat in the water yet, but yesterday we did go down to our private fishing pier and spent some time soaking up the fresh air coming off the Intracoastal Waterway. It is one of my favorite places to be, and I can feel my whole body de-stressing just sitting there.

Though we didn’t have our boat out, there were quite a few on the water. Everything from pontoon boats to small center console fishing boats to this beautiful cruiser that would be fun to live on for a short time.

The folks in this Hobie-Craft were having a good time, using both the sail and the peddle drive to zip right along.

There were also lots of birds to keep us company. This pelican greeted us when we first came down to the pier. If you’ve never seen a pelican splash down in the water going after a fish, it’s a sight to see. Unfortunately, I was never quick enough to take a picture of one in action.

But at least I did get a few pictures of birds in flight.

Sometimes I wonder what it must be like to be a bird and be afraid of heights.

There were lots of terns. This guy was quite noisy and apparently didn’t appreciate us interrupting his afternoon.

It was breezy and somewhere in the upper 60s, but not bad for a while. But after an hour or so we decided that was enough for one day, so we came home. We are still hoping to get the boat out on the water soon.

Speaking of things that live in the water, a story from Channel 6 News in Orlando about somebody scratching Trump’s name into a manatee’s back really pissed me off. If I caught somebody abusing an animal like this, one of us would not walk away from the confrontation!

Of course, there are other critters in the world, too. My pal Carol Ann Newsome, who writes the excellent Dog Park mystery series, just released her latest book, Swamp Monster, to the delight of her many fans. You can order it on Amazon at this link.

I mentioned the other day that I finally found someone who can move the blog away from Go Daddy to another server. His name is David Carr and he has been busy working on it. After the many weeks I spent trying to get the missing passwords I needed from Go Daddy, David was able to do it in a heartbeat. He told me yesterday that most of the prior blogs and photos have been transferred over to a temporary holding spot on the new site, and sometime today he will probably migrate everything else over. You should be able to just use the link you do now and be directed to it, but if not, or if you have a subscription to the daily blog and you don’t get it, you may have to type in the blog address to access it and save a new link.

David tells me that one of the problems that should go away is that many readers have problems accessing the most current blog post. Sometimes I can open a new blog immediately after I post it, but Terry, who uses the same Wi-Fi in the same house, can’t get it for at least a day, and sometimes two. It’s the same with comments left by readers. I can see them, but many times other readers can’t for a day or two. Hopefully, that will take care of that issue, too. Meanwhile, please be patient with us as we make this transition because there is always the possibility of an unexpected glitch along the way.

Thought For The Day – My ancestors navigated their way across the ocean using stars, and here I am missing my exit with a GPS.

To Be A Kid Again

 Posted by at 12:17 am  Uncategorized
Jan 112021
 

I’m getting hitch itch, but since we are staying home and away from people as much as possible, the only trips I am currently taking are down memory lane. I hope you will enjoy this story from our past travels.

They say that inside every senior citizen is a kid asking, “What the heck happened?” I think that’s probably true, and I know it is in my case! A perfect place to take that inner child is the Denver Museum of Miniatures, Dolls, and Toys, which is housed in the wonderful old 1899 Pearce-McAllister cottage, just two miles from downtown.

This is a place that will take you back to your childhood, with its collection of more than 10,000 items, some dating back to the 1700s. Displays include toys ranging from dolls to board games,  a model train layout, puppets, and Hot Wheels.

But the museum’s claim to fame is its collection of exquisitely crafted miniature houses, which are perfect in every detail, down to the plumbing pipes under the kitchen counters!

Some of the houses took more than 10,000 hours to complete, and they are all true works of art. Even the cups and plates are handcrafted, as well as woven rugs on the floors! Inspiration for a creation like this can come from something as simple as a single tiny accessory or the memory of a favorite house one admired from childhood.

Some miniaturists begin with a favorite piece of furniture that sets the tone for a room, like a roll-top desk that they design a den or office around, or a dry sink that is the starting point for a country kitchen, and the rest of the house grows up around that.

And the creations are not just dollhouses! The Southwest Adobe Gift Shop contains stunning tiny examples of Indian arts and crafts, from silver and turquoise jewelry to Kachina dolls, baskets, and pottery. Everything is authentic; the clay pots are painted with authentic Indian designs and colors, with paints made from local plants. The woolen rugs are examples of the unique art called pictorial weaving, in which the weaver draws inspiration from their environment instead of traditional geometric designs.

The museum’s three-walled brass 19th century German grocery shop came from the collection of the Toy Museum of Munich, Germany, and is perfect in every detail. The cupboards, drawers, worn carpet, utensils, scale, and glass containers are all original. The shop is complete with merchandise, counter, oil lamps, porcelain plates, and brass pots. This was an educational toy designed to introduce young boys to the business world.

The ground floor also has a collection of Japanese dolls that were a part of the Friendship Doll Program, inspired by missionary Dr. Sidney L. Gulick, who spent 25 years in Japan.

Concerned about rising tensions between the United States and Japan before World War II, Dr. Gulick felt that dolls could serve as goodwill ambassadors from the children of America to Japanese children. With his encouragement, each state collected hundreds of dolls to send overseas, a total of 12,739. In return, the children of Japan sent 58 Ichimatsu dolls made by Japan’s leading doll artists. The dolls were 32” tall and elaborately dressed, and often came with their own furniture and tea sets. Each state was given a doll, and the rest were placed on exhibit in museums.

With the outbreak of war, many of the dolls were removed from museums and placed in storage. Over the years, many were lost, forgotten, or damaged. Today an organization called Japanese American Doll Enthusiasts (JADE) is working with museums and collectors to find and identify all of the dolls from the Friendship Doll Program.

The second floor has displays of old time toys, dolls, and teddy bears, including Big Ben, the largest articulated teddy bear in the United States, at 6’6” tall.

There is also a huge miniature circus layout created by Charles Hendrickson, a South Dakota man who grew up in the circus and worked as a tightrope walker. He spent over seventeen years creating and hand painting hundreds of items that included not only circus performers and animals, but also a circus train, cars and trucks, employee showers, dining facilities, and more. After Hendrickson died in 2003, his family searched for a new home for his circus and chose the Denver Museum of Miniatures, Dolls, and Toys. Damaged in storage and shipping, the layout required thousands of hours of dedicated volunteer labor by skilled miniaturists before it was ready for display.

While touring the museum is delightful, the house that holds the museum is fascinating in itself. Designed by Denver architect Frederick J. Sterner for prominent citizens Harold V. Pearce and his wife Cara, the gambrel-roofed home was designed to reflect a colonial cottage that would be at home in any small New England town. Preserved much like it was when the Pearce’s lived there, it is a good example of the lifestyle of upper middle class families from 1890 through World War I and into the Roaring Twenties.

The next time you’re in Denver, do yourself and that inner child a favor and tour the Denver Museum of Miniatures, Dolls, and Toys. You will be glad you did.

Located at 1880 Gaylord Street, just west of City Park, the museum is open Friday – Saturday from10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Sunday from 1 – 4 p.m. It is closed for all major holidays. Admission is $6 for adults, $5 for seniors age 62 and over, $4 for children ages 5-16, and children under 5 are free. Due to the COVID pandemic, admission is currently by appointment.

There is no parking lot, but visitors can park on the street while they tour the museum. Streets in the neighborhood are too narrow for large RVs to navigate easily.

The first floor of the museum is fully handicapped accessible, and a ramp at the side of the house allows access for wheelchairs. There is no elevator, so the second floor is not accessible. For more information, call (303) 322-1053 or visit the museum’s website at http://www.dmmdt.org.

Congratulations Tim Miller, winner of our drawing for an audiobook of Free Ride, the thirteenth book in my pal Ben Rehder’s popular Blanco County mystery series. We had 42 entries this time around. Stay tuned, a new contest starts soon.

Thought For The Day – Today I plan to be as useless as the “G” in lasagna.

Back At It

 Posted by at 12:35 am  Nick's Blog
Jan 102021
 

The events of the last few days have occupied a lot of my time, and I will admit that I have been rather snippy with some folks who believe that the insurrection we saw happening on Wednesday is all a plot by far left liberals or that COVID-19 is all a hoax. I just don’t have the patience for any of that nonsense anymore, and I spent some time deleting and blocking quite a few of them on Facebook. They have a right to their misguided opinion, but I don’t have an obligation to listen to it.

One person who disagreed with me and claims that this is all a plot by former President Obama, Kamala Harris, and Nancy Pelosi, said that she will never buy one of my books again. Damn, I guess I need to sell my Mustang and start looking into selling blood plasma so we can make ends meet.

I decided yesterday that I needed to push all of that to the background because it’s not doing any good dwelling on it, and I spent the day making some corrections to previous chapters in my new John Lee Quarrels book, Fresh Out Of Mojo. Then I wrote another chapter and proofread it. I’m more than halfway through now, and every time I think I know how things are going to turn out, those darn characters throw me a curveball and take off in a different direction. Talk about an independent bunch of cretins.

Speaking of books, the print edition of Big Lake Hoarder is now available on Amazon, and you can order it at this link.

Meanwhile, Terry was busy with all the things that keep her from relaxing, from doing laundry to making a delicious batch of dark chocolate pecan fudge and making shrimp chimichangas with homemade red enchilada sauce for dinner, and all of it was delicious, of course.

Have you gotten your stimulus check yet? A couple of friends had theirs direct deposited into their bank accounts last week, and ours arrived in the form of a check. I know that for some people it’s going to be very helpful, but for far too many of our fellow Americans, it’s not nearly enough to help them through these difficult times.

Nobody seems to know what’s going on as far as the COVID vaccine here in Volusia County, Florida. As I wrote before, a couple of times they have had senior citizens waiting in their cars overnight in temperatures that dipped down in the low 40s, just to hopefully be among the first come, first served of 1,000 to get a shot. Now there’s talk that the county is going to be administering the vaccines on an appointment basis, but nobody really seems to know when or how that’s going to happen. We are sitting tight and don’t go out much, so we’ll wait until our turn comes. It’s comforting to us knowing that our daughter-in-law, Geli, who is a frontline healthcare worker, will get her second dose of the vaccine on Tuesday. We have been worried about her for so long because she deals with COVID patients every day.

I keep hoping we’ll be able to get the pontoon boat out on the water, but it’s either been windy, or else my back was acting up, or Miss Terry wasn’t feeling well, so I don’t know if it’s ever going to happen. I told her the other day that we either need to use it or sell it, because there’s no use having it take up space in the garage if we’re not going to get any use out of it. I am hoping for better weather soon so we can get out on the water. I am absolutely craving that as much as I do food or oxygen.

Today is your last chance to enter our Free Drawing for an audiobook of Free Ride, the thirteenth book in my pal Ben Rehder’s popular Blanco County mystery series. 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 high shipping cost of printed books and Amazon restrictions on e-books to foreign countries, only entries with U.S. addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed.

Thought For The Day – Contrary to popular opinion, Shepherd’s Pie does not actually contain shepherds.

 

Jan 092021
 

Note: This is an updated repost of a blog from January, 2013.

I thought we’d start your weekend off with a chuckle or two about what you may see in a campsite near you one of these days.

We’ve seen some oddball RVs in our travels around the country, and if you’ve spent much time on the road you probably have, too. Sometimes I’ve just had to scratch my head and ask “Why” but I guess beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Here are some we’ve seen and others that readers have sent us.

This might be a good choice if you prefer a smaller campsite.

Caddy trailer

And this must be what happens when you breed a Volkswagen with a Winnebago.
vw camper bug

Actually, I think this truck conversion looks pretty cool.Carolyn hatch utah

I can’t say the same thing for this thing.

Chandler, Oklahoma fifth wheel horse from Carolyn

Apparently putting campers on trailers is popular with a lot of people.

fiver fair oaks, indiana Steve Clarke

Flatbed camper Dan Karen Silverwood Sugar Creek Ohio

Or, you could put one on top of your truck.

truck camper

Some of the bus converters can get pretty creative.

School bus with roof deck 3

I don’t think this bus Jim Aslin sent us has moved in a very long time.

Jim Aslin Bus

You know that old saying about keeping the shiny side up and the greasy side down? Whoever made this thing that Joyce Space photographed in Albuquerque apparently never heard it.

two sided bus joyce space albuquerque

I wonder if the guy with the two-sided bus tows this behind him?

2 way car CR Markham Hwy 11 western virginia

Sometimes smaller is better.

Whit Mather tiny RV

Have you seen some strange looking RVs? If so, send me a picture. If we get enough I’ll run a sequel to this blog one of these days.

Be sure to enter our latest new Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an audiobook of Free Ride, the thirteenth book in my pal Ben Rehder’s popular Blanco County mystery series. 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 high shipping cost of printed books and Amazon restrictions on e-books to foreign countries, only entries with U.S. addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed.

Thought For The Day – I’d drink more water if it was frozen and surrounded by bourbon.

A New Day

 Posted by at 12:24 am  Nick's Blog
Jan 082021
 

I know that a lot of us are numb from yesterday’s events in Washington DC, and I think we will be for a while yet. But it’s a new day, and while we should never forget the treacherous activities of the mob of terrorists who attacked the Capitol, let’s try to focus on some other things.

But before we do that, let me say something. Most people were very supportive of yesterday’s blog, My Heart Hurts, but not everybody. And that’s all right, people have the right to voice their opinion just like I did mine. Or to unsubscribe from the blog, like a few people did yesterday. What’s not all right is to make veiled or outright threats of violence. Somebody chose to do that in a blog comment yesterday, and I’ll tell him right here what I did in my response, bring it on. It’s this kind of crap that got us where we were yesterday and I will not be intimidated by a foolish keyboard commando.

Now, let’s move on to new business. After several months of trying to move the blog from GoDaddy with no success, yesterday I talked to a professional tech person who was referred to me by Chris Guld from Geeks on Tour. It looks like I will be entering into an agreement for him to handle that and other Internet-related issues for me. I’m looking forward to that.

While things may be tense in our country right now, Miss Terry knows how to make life worth living. Look at these delicious blueberry muffins she made the other day. I guarantee you, there’s not a bakery in the country that could make anything more delicious. We had them for breakfast a couple of days in a row because they were that good.

And this is a loaf of Japanese milk bread she made to go along with her spicy red lentil dal. She is amazing.

I had to chuckle the other day when somebody asked me if I knew of a gig they could do from their RV to support their fulltime lifestyle. He said he doesn’t want to work more than 20 hours a week, and is not interested in anything like workamping or something like that. Hell, if I could get a gig like that I’d keep it to myself!

Before I close, several people have asked why I included a disclaimer about the weekly drawings only being open to US addresses and email addresses. As I said, the cost of shipping books to Canada or other countries is too high, and the audiobooks apparently can’t be claimed by Canadian email addresses because the last two Canadians who won were not able to download them. In both cases, I paid for a physical copy of the book to be sent to them from Amazon. But I cannot continue to do that, either. I’m sorry, I have absolutely nothing against our wonderful Canadian neighbors, it’s just reality.

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 new Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an audiobook of Free Ride, the thirteenth book in my pal Ben Rehder’s popular Blanco County mystery series. 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 high shipping cost of printed books and Amazon restrictions on e-books to foreign countries, only entries with U.S. addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed.

Thought For The Day – We are all a little broken, but the last time I checked, broken crayons still color.

My Heart Hurts

 Posted by at 12:48 am  Nick's Blog
Jan 072021
 

Like millions of other Americans, my heart hurts for our nation following the violence at the U.S. Capitol yesterday. My heart hurts and I am ashamed of the country I fought and bled for.

The right to peacefully protest is protected by the Constitution of the United States, but nowhere does it allow damaging and storming a federal building, assaulting officers of the law, or interfering with the due process of government. What we saw yesterday was not a peaceful protest. It was anarchy.

To see one of the most sacred bastions of our democracy invaded by thugs, and that’s what they were, thugs, is both sad and infuriating. This went from a protest to an attempted coup, and the people taking part in it, as well as those who encouraged them, are traitors and criminals.

And don’t even start with the nonsense about what other protesters did somewhere else. John Dillinger robbed banks, that doesn’t give you or me an excuse to do the same thing.

The pictures of armed security personnel ready to use deadly force to protect our duly elected congressional representatives, of thugs swarming the Capitol, will go down in history, just like pictures of the Twin Towers falling, the dead students at Kent State University, and the attack on Pearl Harbor. They will define us in this place and time. The only difference is that what happened yesterday was not an attack by enemies from outside our country, it was by enemies from right here at home.

It’s Thursday, so it’s time for a new Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an audiobook of Free Ride, the thirteenth book in my pal Ben Rehder’s popular Blanco County mystery series. 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 high shipping cost of printed books and Amazon restrictions on e-books to foreign countries, only entries with U.S. addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed.

Thought For The Day – Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge. – Isaac Asimov

Jan 062021
 

Apparently, the latest complaint by the politically correct crowd is their objection to someone saying Amen at the end of a prayer. They want something more PC, something gender-neutral. Or is that gender neutered? I guess some have asked why they can’t say Awoman instead of Amen. An old junior high school teacher of mine who I keep in touch with on Facebook said that if you have to say Woman after saying Amen, you are Amoron. I can’t say that I disagree with her about that.

Another Facebook friend asked if menopause should now be called womenopause? That does kind of make sense.

I have written some blogs about this before, including one titled, Nick Goes PC. For some reason, that effort never got praised by the politically correct junkies.

Folks, this nonsense is nothing new. Back in my small town newspaper days, the head of a regional real estate group was lobbying for politically correct terms in real estate advertising and sent around a manifesto, excuse me, I mean a guide, to terms that newspapers and real estate people should follow.

Some of her suggestions, and I swear these are true, were that we should never say a home was close to schools because that might be hurtful to childless couples. We should never advertise a place as having a beautiful view because that was offensive to people without sight. I asked her how they would know what the ad said if they couldn’t read it and she called me something I would have taken offense to if I had a shred of dignity.

Forget saying a home was an easy walk to the park or shopping, that might hurt the feelings of handicapped people. Another term that the booklet she passed around objected to was master bedroom, recalling the days of slavery. I asked her if it was still okay to say a home was affordable because I didn’t want to make people who were on a budget feel bad. She really blew her top when I mentioned that she lived on Whiteford Road, which had to be offensive to people of color and those of us who drove Dodges.

Every year my newspaper ran a special section called Women In Business, in which we wrote about the female movers and shakers in the local business community. She objected to that, of course, so I told her that next year we would call it People In Business and include men, too. Guess what? She didn’t like that idea, either. You just can’t please some people.

Another time, years ago, a young Asian woman came into my newspaper office so mad you could almost see flames coming out of her ears. She slammed a copy of that week’s edition on the counter and pointed to an ad for a gun store that included a surplus World War II military rifle, and told me that the designation of the caliber as 6.5 Jap was racist and absolutely infuriated her. She asked if I would say it was a 6.5 Spick or a 6.5 Nigger. I thought it was kind of ironic that she was the one using racial slurs while calling me a racist.

I tried to explain to her that that was the designation for the cartridge (which is now called a 6.5 Arisaka). I was wasting my breath. She didn’t believe me or else she was too busy shouting to hear me. It just so happened that the gun shop that placed the ad was right next door to my office, and I told her to wait a minute. I went next door and retrieved a box of ammunition and brought it to show her, and showed her where it said 6.5 Jap right on the box. I’m glad I didn’t bring the rifle, too, because I think she would have shot me with it!

Thought For The Day – I need to get in shape. If I were murdered right now, my chalk outline would be a circle.

Punched In the Heart

 Posted by at 12:05 am  Nick's Blog
Jan 052021
 

It has cooled down considerably here on the Central Florida Coast, with daytime temperatures this week in the mid to high 60s and overnight lows in the upper 40s to mid-50s. Perfect sleeping and snuggling weather, and the fish are biting, too! And some of them are big. Look at this monster drum that one of our neighbors caught the other day. I definitely need to get out there and have some fun.

Not that I don’t have fun at home, too. Someone told me when I was a young man that if you enjoy what you do for a living, you’ll never work a day in your life, and I have found that to be true. Terry and I have said many times how fortunate we are that we don’t have to go out and go to work someplace. I can sit at my desk and write stories and have a great time. And I don’t have to wear a mask at home!

In fact, that’s what I did yesterday, worked on my new John Lee Quarrels book. I am at or very near the halfway point now, and the first few chapters have already been printed out and are going through the various editing and proofreading stages.

Speaking of books, I have received all kinds of reviews for my books over the years. Many, many five-star reviews, which I really enjoy, and some one-star reviews that keep me balanced, and I appreciate all of them, but I think this one has to be my favorite review of all time.

Speaking of reviews, we’ve always been a fan of Mayim Bialik, who played Amy on The Big Bang Theory, so we decided to check out her new sitcom, Call Me Kat. Four minutes of it was all that either one of us could take. It wasn’t just bad, it was painful to watch. I hope Ms. Bialik can find a better project the next time around because there’s no doubt in my mind that this one won’t last very long.

We also watched Death to 2020 on Netflix, which is a spoof documentary of the happenings of the past twelve months. Some people have called it laugh out loud funny, and while I wouldn’t go that far, it had its moments. Especially the vapid blonde White House spokesperson who lived in a world of denial, and a couple of other characters. If you’re tired of reruns, it’s worth an hour of your time.

In closing, the wife of a friend of mine from my Army days read yesterday’s blog and said I forgot to add one part to my story about the MPs failing their firearms qualifications. None of them were allowed to carry their weapons on duty, which meant that as they were all slowly requalified, some guys were working 12-hour shifts seven days a week. Can you guess which MP I made sure was the first one to requalify and have to do that?

Thought For The Day – If I had a dollar for every time a girl told me, “I like you, but not that way” they’d like me that way.

My Criminal Past

 Posted by at 12:11 am  Nick's Blog
Jan 042021
 

You may think I’m just a chubby little guy who spends my days writing stories about cops and criminals, but you might be surprised to learn that I have a criminal past of my own. That’s right, I’ve spent some time in jail.

For part of my time in the Army I was a firearms instructor at the US Military Academy at West Point, which is located 60 miles north of New York City. This was back in the early 1970s, and New York had some very strange laws during that time period. When we weren’t training cadets, National Guard, and Army Reserve units, and providing support to local police agencies who wanted to use our ranges, we also got assigned to other duties. One of those duties was occasionally helping the MPs with things.

In one case, we had a guy who deserted after assaulting an officer. He was only gone about a week and his parents convinced him to turn himself in. So he flew into LaGuardia Airport and approached a security officer and said he was a deserter and wanted to turn himself in to the Army. They held him in a security room and called West Point, since that was where he had been stationed, and myself and another NCO were told to take a staff car and go down and pick him up. This happened on a Sunday.

So there we were, in our dress uniforms, leading him out of the airport in handcuffs. When we got to the car, a Transit Officer or something like that approached us and asked us why we were carrying handguns in New York City, and demanded to see our carry permits. We told him that we were picking up a prisoner, but that didn’t matter to him. We were not police officers, and we were not supposed to be carrying guns, as far as he was concerned.

He called his supervisor, who showed up and had the same opinion, so we were both arrested and taken to a precinct in Queens. It took about three hours for a JAG officer and our commanding officer to get there. The JAG officer said that we were doing our duty and they had no right to arrest us and explained that the law allowed officers and agents of the US military to carry weapons in the performance of our duties. The cops’ argument was that we were “noncommissioned” officers and not “officers,” and our rank did not say “agent,” so we were breaking the law.

It took a while, and a very angry Assistant District Attorney called in on a Sunday to get that all sorted out, but they finally gave us back our weapons and told us to get out of there, so we did. Five blocks away, the sergeant who had been with me asked, “What happened to the guy we were picking up?” We went right back to the precinct, and the fellow on duty at the desk said he had no idea, he remembered somebody sitting on a bench there for a while, but then he was gone. A week or so later, the guy showed up at West Point and turned himself in.

Another oddball thing there was that during the winter when we were not training cadets, we got assigned to all kinds of weird things. One of them was two weeks of recruiting duty every year. The Army rented a very small apartment somewhere in the city, where NCOs would stay and go out and talk to kids in high school, telling them about all the wonderful things that would happen to them in the Army.

It was a rough neighborhood and a couple of guys from another unit got mugged, and one of them was stabbed. The same JAG officer who had responded when we were arrested in the story earlier did some research and found out that at that time in New York City, black powder cap and ball revolvers were not considered firearms, they were considered “curiosities.” So several of us bought short-barreled .36 caliber replica revolvers, which were just as deadly as anything else you could shoot someone with, and carried them tucked in our belts under our uniforms. None of us ever had to use one of them, and I’m not sure what would have happened if we did, from a legal standpoint.

One final story from that time. Myself and another range master lived in a pair of small stone cottages across the road from the main rifle range, where we had a storage room full of weapons and ammunition. Since we were several miles from the main base, part of our job was to respond to any alarms going off on the range because we could be there long before the MPs could. And because of that, we were authorized to carry a .45 semi-automatic pistol even when off duty, and each kept an M-16 at the house.

One day I went to the main base to do some grocery shopping at the commissary, and as I was loading everything into the back of my new Mustang an MP pulled up and wanted to know why I had a pistol on me. I told him who I was and that I was authorized to carry, but he didn’t believe that, so he arrested me. Yes, I’ve been arrested twice! I showed him a letter from General Knowlton, the superintendent at West Point, requiring me to be armed, but he didn’t care about any of that.

It was a hot summer day and I said if he was going arrest me, could I at least take my ice cream back to the store so it did melt in the trunk of my car. He would let me do that. It being a Saturday (I always seem to get in trouble on the weekends), it took a while to get hold of my commanding officer, who then got hold of the MP commanding officer, and the excrement hit the oscillating device.

Long story short, when I was released and got back to my car, two half-gallons of ice cream had melted into the carpeting of the trunk. I was not a happy camper. My CO was a great guy and reminded me that the MPs had to qualify with their weapons every six months, and as range master, my word was God on the range. If I didn’t feel someone qualified, they would have to reshoot on another day at my convenience. Amazingly, all 47 members of the MP company failed their qualification in one day. As did their commanding officer, executive officer, and First Sergeant. Once again, the excrement hit the oscillating device. But there was nothing they could do about it. It was very convenient for me to drive across the road and open the range for them to requalify, and I did, two at a time over several days when they were scheduled to be off duty. Don’t ever piss off the range master.

Congratulations Karen Keeley, winner of our drawing for a printed copy of The Twofer Compendium, a collection of 36 twin-themed short stories written by 34 international authors that leap across genres from science fiction to whimsical, to downright creepy. We had 43 entries this time around. Stay tuned, a new drawing starts soon.

Thought For The Day – If a gingerbread man breaks his leg, does he walks with a candy cane?

Offline

 Posted by at 12:50 am  Nick's Blog
Jan 032021
 

I don’t know when you will see this since both our Spectrum TV and internet went down about 8:30 last night, but I will try to get it posted using my phone as a hot spot.

I spent most of Saturday working on my new John Lee Quarrels book, reading the last three chapters and then printing them out for Terry to proof. I also wrote another 2,500 words or so. I am not quite to the halfway point, but getting close.

Our daughter called from Arizona just before dinner and we talked for a while, and just after dinner our son called from Alabama. I sure like hearing from my kids and miss them. Can’t wait to see them again once we finally get this pandemic behind us.

Several people, including my son, have told me we should watch Death To 2020 on Netflix, so we decided that would be our evening’s entertainment. But Spectrum crashed about twenty minutes into it, which only seems fitting given the subject matter. Hopefully, we can finish it tonight.

Today is your last chance to enter our latest new Free Drawing. This week’s prize is a printed copy of The Twofer Compendium, a collection of 36 twin-themed short stories written by 34 international authors that leap across genres, from science fiction to whimsical, to downright creepy. In them, you will meet twins who are good, bad, fantastic, fearsome, magical, envious, secretive, devious, and more. 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.

Thought For The Day – Lance is not a very common name these days, but in medieval times people were named Lance a lot.

Sequoyah’s Cabin

 Posted by at 12:13 am  Nick's Blog
Jan 022021
 

On a back road in eastern Oklahoma, a small state park preserves the cabin of one of the most influential Native Americans of all time.

Little accurate information is available concerning the life of Sequoyah, sometimes known as George Gist or Guess. He was born in the 1760s or 1770s, probably in Tennessee, and was the son of a Cherokee woman and a white or half-breed trader. Sequoyah was raised by his mother in the traditional Cherokee tribal manner and became a silversmith or blacksmith. He never learned to speak or read English, but around 1809 he became interested in writing and printing, which he recognized as a powerful civilizing force.

Sequoyah spent years experimenting with symbols to decipher the Cherokee language. In 1821 he completed a syllabary consisting of 84 characters, each of which represented a syllable. Because it was a phonetic rendition of the language, the syllabary could be learned in a short period of time. Within a few months, thousands of Eastern Cherokee Indians had mastered it and were learning to read and write.
In 1822 Sequoyah traveled to Arkansas to introduce his syllabary to the Western Cherokee. The following year he settled in Arkansas, and in about 1828 he moved with the Western Cherokee to Indian Territory, where he lived for most of his life. It is believed that he died about 1843 or 1844 in Mexico while searching for a band of Cherokee who, according to tribal lore, had migrated to the region in 1721.

Sequoyah’s syllabary had a dramatic impact on Cherokee culture. Before the syllabary, the Cherokee had viewed the white man’s written records as witchcraft. After Sequoyah introduced his syllabary, they were able to codify their laws, adopt a written constitution, better govern and educate themselves, and express their viewpoints in print. Once they became literate in their own language, they could more easily grasp English.

By 1824 the Eastern Cherokee were printing portions of the Bible. Four years later, at their capital in New Echota, Georgia, they began publishing the first Indian newspaper, the Cherokee Phoenix. This technology made news and literature available to the older generation, most of whom were fluent only in their native tongue, as well as to younger Cherokee, many of whom had been schooled in English.

Shortly after they adopted Sequoyah’s syllabary, the other Five Civilized Tribes began to formulate their own, and before long all of them could read and write. The syllabaries provided Christian missionaries a means of written communication with the Indians through books, pamphlets, and other religious and educational materials.

Beyond its direct benefits, Sequoyah’s syllabary made possible the preservation of a mass of Cherokee lore in print. Of special interest to ethnologists are the writings of the Cherokee shamans, which provide an unparalleled body of information on an aboriginal religion that was unobtainable from any other American Indian tribe.

Sequoyah’s contribution to the Cherokee Nation has been recognized in many ways. During his lifetime, the U.S. government honored him with a monetary award, and the Cherokee nation granted him a pension and medal. His likeness appeared on a postage stamp, and his statue is displayed in Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol. His name is immortalized in the giant Sequoia trees of California, and with the world’s other great alphabet inventors on the bronze doors of the Library of Congress.

Sequoyah’s Cabin State Park, near Akin, Oklahoma, preserves the cabin Sequoyah built in 1829. A typical one-room frontier home of hewn logs with stone chimney and fireplace, the cabin has undergone minor restoration. It is enclosed in a stone shelter, which features relics and documents associated with Sequoyah’s life. Near the shelter stands a log structure dating from 1855 that once adjoined the cabin.

The historic landmark includes a visitor center, small museum, and picnic area. The parking lot is small, and drivers of large RVs should park elsewhere and drive their tow vehicle or dinghy.

Sequoyah’s Cabin State Park is located on State Route 101 a few miles east of Akin. The park is open Tuesday through Sunday, and is closed on all holidays. Hours seem to be sporadic, so you would be advised to call (918) 775-2413 before visiting.

Be sure to enter our latest new Free Drawing. This week’s prize is a printed copy of The Twofer Compendium, a collection of 36 twin-themed short stories written by 34 international authors that leap across genres, from science fiction to whimsical, to downright creepy. In them, you will meet twins who are good, bad, fantastic, fearsome, magical, envious, secretive, devious, and more. 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.

Thought For The Day – Age may wrinkle your face, but each wrinkle contains a treasured memory.

Is It Really Gone?

 Posted by at 1:33 am  Nick's Blog
Jan 012021
 

Okay, is 2020 really gone, or is this one of those practical jokes where just about the time we all breathe a sigh of relief, it pops up out of nowhere and yells “Boo!” I sure hope it’s behind us, although a friend of mine said last night that we’ve got a new year that’s now 21 and legal to drink. Can you imagine the new year saying to 2020, “If you think that was something, hold my beer!” Let’s hope not.

So what did you wear to the living room last night for your celebration to welcome in the new year? Did you get all fancied up in new pajamas, or were you in the ones you’ve been wearing all the time? I know a lot of people who normally go to bed early who told me they were staying up just to make sure 2020 really left. You can’t be too careful.

I had one of my rough nights and only got about three or four hours’ sleep, so I was a little slow getting started yesterday. But I did answer some questions by email and in a couple of online authors’ groups. Then I managed to crank out just under 5,000 words in my new John Lee Quarles book before calling it a day.

Our last dinner of 2020 was awesome. Miss Terry made some of her delicious shrimp and grits, and they were fabulous.

 

I can’t think of a better way to end a terrible year and welcome in a new one then having a nice dinner and spending a quiet evening with the love of my life. I find it hard to believe that we will be celebrating our 23rd wedding anniversary in just a few weeks. Where does the time go? I guess they really mean it when they say time flies when you’re having fun.

And in closing, here is another of our funny signs we see in our travels and that our readers share with us.

Be sure to enter our latest new Free Drawing. This week’s prize is a printed copy of The Twofer Compendium, a collection of 36 twin-themed short stories written by 34 international authors that leap across genres, from science fiction to whimsical, to downright creepy. In them, you will meet twins who are good, bad, fantastic, fearsome, magical, envious, secretive, devious, and more. 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.

Thought For The Day – I’m just going to flip this omelet… okay, change of plans, we’re having scrambled eggs.

Dec 312020
 

Well, we made it. The last day of 2020. Did you think we would get this far? I wasn’t too sure, and unfortunately, a lot of people didn’t. Just a few days ago, I found out that one of my longtime readers and online friends, Truman Dobbins, lost his battle with COVID-19. My heart goes out to his wife Beckie, and everybody who has lost loved ones to this terrible pandemic. This makes nine people for me, two of whom were family members.

That’s why I get so disgusted with people who still claim it’s a hoax, who won’t wear a mask, or who preach nonsense like Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) being the cure-all. The only two things that will stop the pandemic are common sense and a vaccine. The vaccine is here, but it’s getting distributed very slowly, and we all know how rare common sense is.

I used to always do a review of the things we did at year’s end, but what can I say about this year? In February, we took a month-long trip to Arizona, stopping many places along the way to distribute books and do research for blog posts and future projects. We got home just in time to start self-quarantining, and that’s been about all we have done. In between the pandemic and my back issues, that was about all it was possible to do. After getting the RF nerve ablations done in June, my back problems have improved greatly. Actually, the problems are still there, but the ablations block most of the pain. I still have other back issues that bother me but at least I can move around now.

The one good thing to come out of 2020 for me was that I was able to put out six books, including two books in my Tinder Street historical family saga, which is something I have wanted to write forever. I am working on another John Lee Quarrels book now and hope to have it out by the end of January or in early February. Then I will jump into Boom And Bust, the next Tinder Street book. This one will start in 1925 and end with the onset of the Great Depression. It’s an era I know a lot about because my parents lived through it and spoke about it often. I will be using a lot of those memories in the book.

I had an interesting online conversation yesterday with a friend who is at a crossroads in his life and doesn’t know what to do. He retires May 1st and has thought quite often about getting an RV and trying the mobile lifestyle. But like many people, he is hesitant to make such a big change. He is also worried that as a single man, he might not fit in well. As I told him, the fulltime RV community is very welcoming of others, and we know many solo fulltimers, both male and female. I also sent him links to some of the different RV clubs for single people.

He asked me if I thought now was a good time to do it or should he adjust to retirement first rather than jumping into something that was even more of a change. My suggestion was to keep his house for a while and spend a few months traveling and see how he feels about it. I added that in the 18+ years that we were fulltimers, and in the hundreds of seminars I presented at RV events nationwide and at Life on Wheels, and of the thousands of fulltimers we talked to over those years, the most frequent comment we heard from any of them was, “My only regret is that I didn’t do it sooner.” A few months before he died, my father, who was a very wise man, told me that we don’t regret the things we do in life nearly as much as we regret the things we didn’t do. I think that’s very true.

Whatever 2020 has done to us, personally and as a nation, hopefully we can put it behind us now and look forward to a brand-new year. Think of tomorrow as opening a brand-new diary with 365 pages to fill. What will you put on those pages in the days and weeks and months to come? I hope there are lots of joys and adventures and love on those pages, and very few regrets. Happy New Year.

It’s Thursday, so it’s time for a new Free Drawing. This week’s prize is a printed copy of The Twofer Compendium, a collection of 36 twin-themed short stories written by 34 international authors that leap across genres, from science fiction to whimsical, to downright creepy. In them, you will meet twins who are good, bad, fantastic, fearsome, magical, envious, secretive, devious, and more. 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.

Thought For The Day – The most important project you’ll ever work on is yourself.

No Longer Shaggy

 Posted by at 12:11 am  Nick's Blog
Dec 302020
 

I started the day yesterday trying to help a friend transcribe some recorded interviews she had made several years ago. They were saved in something called an M4A file, and when I tried to transcribe one of them with Dragon, I got a message saying they had to be MP3 files. So I found a free converter online and converted one of them to MP3, and then had Dragon transcribe the file.

A reviewer once said that the best thing Dragon does is promote itself, and I agree with that because while I have been using the program for years, I have never been completely happy with the output. I have tried various expensive microphones, I’ve tried all of the tutorials, and I still spend a lot of time making corrections to what I dictate. And so it was with this file. There were so many errors that when I sent it to my friend, she decided that she would just have to find someone to type the many recorded interviews she has, something like 72 hours of them.

With that out of the way, I spent some time dealing with an argument in one of the writers’ groups I help administer. It came down to having to remove one person from the group and sending a strong warning to another. Most authors seem to get along pretty well, but in this case, we had somebody who thrives on political correctness who took exception to some of the things police officers and first responders say on a regular basis. When another member tried to explain to her how gallows humor helps some people cope with the things they have to deal with, it just made things worse.

And the crazy part of it was, it wasn’t really about police work or writing to begin with. It was about cops and their retirement. Someone said that when her grandfather retired from his job as a policeman, many years ago, her grandmother used to say that he was now officially retarded. A member of the group was very offended by that, and while I know it’s not politically correct these days, it’s how people talk in the real world. We had this exact same situation a while back in an RV group I help administer when a little girl’s homework assignment was to write a story about her family. She said that her daddy worked for the post office, and her mommy worked in an office, and her grandparents were retarded and traveled around the country in their RV. I know it’s offensive to some, but people talk the way they do and children frequently misuse words. I have had people offended by some terms I’ve used in my books, but it is what it is.

It has been a while since Terry cut my hair and trimmed my beard, and I was getting so shaggy that I beginning to look something like Cousin Itt from the old Addams Family TV show. So after brunch, we went out in the garage and she started whacking away at me. I’m glad we decided to do it yesterday, because in another week and I think she would have needed the hedge clippers. And we don’t have any hedge clippers!

And in closing, here is another of the funny signs we see in our travels and that our readers share with us. This one came from Jim Harper, and I’m not sure if it is real or not, but based on some of my life experiences in the past, it should be.

Thought For The Day – If you have an opinion about my life, please raise your hand. Now put it over your mouth.

She’s Ready To Go

 Posted by at 1:25 am  Nick's Blog
Dec 292020
 

A while back the very talented Elizabeth Mackey, who creates all of my book covers, made decals for my Bennington pontoon boat. But health issues and life got in the way, and they got put aside. We have spent the last two days getting the boat ready for the water, and yesterday Terry put the decals on, one on each side at the front and one on the back. I named her Mysterry because I always refer to Terry as Miss Terry, and my mystery books paid for the boat. I think they look great on there.

As I’ve said before, our garage door is too low to let the boat clear when on a regular pontoon boat trailer, so I had to buy a special scissor trailer that cranks up and down so I can get it low enough to get in the garage. Then, once it’s in the garage, we put four heavy-duty dollies under the pontoons, and I crank the boat trailer down all the way onto them and pull the trailer out to make more room, then we push the boat over into the corner out of the way.

In the past, Terry and I have been able to move it around by ourselves with some effort, but with my back issues, we didn’t want to try that this time around. So I enlisted the help of my neighbor, Jesse Bolton, from across the street. Jesse is a great guy and always willing to lend a hand when we need something. With his help, it was no problem to move the boat out into the center of the garage and toward the front. Then we pushed the scissor trailer under it, cranked it up just enough to remove the dollies, then I connected the trailer to my pickup truck, and pulled the boat out.

When I was at West Point, we spent a lot of time in the spring, summer, and fall training cadets, National Guard, and Army Reserve units. But during the winter, we had to find a job, or else the Army found one for us. And it was always things like shoveling snow. No thanks! That doesn’t sound like fun at all. So I used to sign up for every Army school I could go to, as long as they were someplace warm where I could escape the cold New York winters. I went to the MP school, demolition school, jungle warfare school, photography school, the NCO Academy, and several others, among them a truck driving school. By the time I got out of there, I could drive an 18-wheeler with no problem and back it and a trailer through a serpentine course of 55 gallon drums with ease.

That being said, I’ve never had much luck trying to back up something short like a pickup truck and trailer or boat, which is why we had a motorhome instead of a trailer in all the years that we were fulltime RVers. But with Terry and Jesse guiding me, I managed to park the boat exactly where I wanted it on the big concrete apron next to our garage. Then we put the dollies back under the pontoons, and I cranked it down enough that the boat was sitting on them for extra stability.

The last time the boat was used was in October of 2019 when my kids came to visit for my birthday. When we put it back in the garage, I put fuel stabilizer in the tank, but after all that time, I wasn’t sure if it would start up or not, and I wanted to find out before I took it down to the water.

The boat has two batteries connected by a battery isolator switch, and it can be run off of either one. On Sunday, when I checked them, one battery was at 12.8 volts but the other was only at 10.7 volts. I connected a charger to it and let it run for several hours, and when I disconnected it, it was at 12.9 volts. Once we had the boat parked yesterday, I hooked a set of boat earmuffs to the water intake on the four stroke Yamaha outboard motor, connected a hose to them, and turned it on. Then I got on the boat and turned the key, and I got was a click, click, click. Well, that’s not good! So I turned the switch to the other battery, and when I hit the key this time, it started right up with no hesitation whatsoever. How cool is that?

The sun’s ultraviolet rays can destroy a car or a boat’s upholstery in no time at all, which is why I keep the boat in the garage when we’re not going to be using it. It came with a large cover to protect it from the sun, so once I was done testing the motor, Terry put the cover on and snapped it into place. She’d only done that once before, right after we bought the boat, so it took her a few moments to remember how, but when she did, it was no problem.

So now the boat is ready for the water, and so am I! Thanks for all your help, Jesse and Terry. I appreciate both of you.

Thought For The Day – You are the result of 3.8 billion years of evolutionary success. Act like it.