gypsyjournal2009

Jun 242023
 

Yesterday was a good writing day for me and I managed to get about 3,000 more words done in my new Big Lake book. And as happens so many times, the characters threw me a curveball and took the story off in a whole new direction from where I thought it was going. That’s why when my friend and proofreader Roberta Jensen asked me a while back where the story was headed, I told her I wouldn’t know until the characters told me. She thought it was a joke, but it’s true more often than not. It’s beginning to look like what I thought was going to be a simple assault in the first chapter of the book may turn into a murder story. But don’t quote me on that because sometimes my characters bounce around like a ball in a pinball machine, so who knows what might happen?

Once it had started to cool off a bit late in the afternoon, Terry went out to her garden and picked some more veggies. A lot of the tomatoes got really beat up by the hail from our recent storm and she doesn’t know how many can be salvaged. But the kale, squash, and zucchini have come up in abundance.

The grass was getting high in the pasture again, and since it’s dried out a bit I got the Kubota tractor out of the barn and used the brush hog to mow the pasture. It’s really big and took me a while, and Alli ran beside me all the way as I went back and forth and up and down. I don’t know where she gets her energy, but by the time I was done she was pretty tuckered out for a change.

While I was doing that, Terry got on the Husqvarna riding mower and cut the grass in the front, back, and side yards. At one point I pulled up beside her on the tractor and asked if she wanted to race, but she didn’t seem interested.

Of course, harvesting veggies and mowing grass isn’t a complete day for Terry. We all know she’s like the Energizer Bunny and keeps going and going and going. So when we were done outside, she made a delicious dinner of black and white sesame seed tuna steaks with wasabi sauce and baked potatoes. What a great way to end a great day!

Be sure to enter our latest Free Drawing. This week’s prize is a copy of the new hardcover edition of the 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 and audiobooks 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. After reading this, I think I’ll take the stairs.

Thought For The Day All my dance moves look like I’m trying to signal the guy on first base to steal second.

Jun 232023
 

Terry wanted me to thank everybody who left comments on the blog, on Facebook, or sent texts wishing her happy birthday yesterday. It meant a lot to her.

Since we had spent the day before doing some shopping in Northport and then going to dinner at Pastor’s Kitchen Mexican Restaurant, we didn’t plan on doing a lot yesterday for Terry’s birthday, which was how she wanted it. However, we discovered a very weird way to kick off the day.

Ever since we bought our house, we have heard a gurgling noise from the kitchen sink when the washing machine is draining. We know that the septic system is in good shape because we had it inspected before the purchase, and it was pumped at that time. But sometimes when we flush our toilets there will be a big air bubble that comes up, which leads me to suspect that there’s a partial clog somewhere. Then, Wednesday night after I took my shower, Terry took hers and told me that there was a gurgling sound coming out of the toilet in our master bathroom. I’m glad she told me that because when I went to investigate, water was clear up to the rim and just about to start spilling over. That never happened before and it didn’t happen during my shower a few minutes earlier. A lot of plunging eventually got the water to go down, but we knew we definitely had a problem that needed to be addressed.

So that’s how we started the day yesterday. I’m no plumber, but I once had a friend who owned a big plumbing company, and he told me there were only three rules a plumber must know. 1) poop flows downhill, 2) payday is Friday, and 3) keep your fingers out of your mouth. Using the knowledge acquired from my friend, I decided to see if I could figure out anything.

As it turned out, none of the toilets wanted to flush correctly. They would fill up and I would have to plunge the heck out of them or leave them and they would eventually slowly drain down to normal levels over a period of time. I got my snake out of the garage and spent a couple of hours working it down each toilet, and eventually they started flushing normally. I still don’t really know what the problem is or was, but I have a call in to a plumber and he is going to try to get to us today.

Aside from that, it was pretty much the laid back birthday that Terry wanted. She had phone calls from our kids and her mom and dad wishing her happy birthday, I corrected the last two chapters I wrote in my new Big Lake book, took Alli out three times to throw a ball and her Kong Flyer frisbee for her, and Terry made a delicious calzone for my dinner, while she polished off some assorted leftovers with veggies in them that she’s been saving.

You might not think that’s much of a way to celebrate, but I learned a long time ago to give a lady what she wants, and that’s what Terry wanted. However, I’m not a total loser. I did get her something expensive for her birthday, a Stihl MS 251C chainsaw. Now, if you think that was totally out of line, you obviously don’t know Terry. She doesn’t like jewelry and frilly things, but turn her loose in the tool department at Lowe’s and she’s a happy camper. Okay, I’ll admit I’ll probably be using it under her careful supervision. At least until she realizes I’m about to cut one of my own limbs off instead of a limb from one of the fallen trees, then I’ll have to watch her use it because she won’t let me play with it anymore.

Be sure to enter our latest Free Drawing. This week’s prize is a copy of the new hardcover edition of the 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 and audiobooks 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 I wonder what my parents did to prevent boredom before the TV and internet were invented. I asked my 18 brothers and sisters, and they don’t know either.

Jun 222023
 

Today the most beautiful and amazing woman I have ever known celebrates her birthday. My darling Miss Terry starts another year around the sun, but in reality I am the one who gets the present, because I get to make the trip with her. I am beyond thrilled and humbled (and more than a little bit mystified) that out of all of the men in the world, for some crazy reason she has chosen to spend her life with me. She is not only my wife, she is also my very best friend.

Besides being beautiful, intelligent, and talented in so many ways, Terry is also one of the nicest people that you will ever meet. She truly loves everyone and she would do anything she could to help out a friend or a stranger. That’s just one of the many reasons I am absolutely head over heels in love with my wife and I adore her.

We’ve been together for almost 26 years now and every day I think I could not possibly love her any more than I do at that moment, but the next day I realize I love her even more. The very first thing we say to each other every morning is “I love you” and it’s the last thing we say to each other as we fall asleep every night. But I’m going to say it again, right now. I love you with all of my heart, Terry. Happy birthday, sweetheart.

June 22 is apparently a popular day for amazing women to be born, because it was also my mother’s birthday. Don’t try to psychoanalyze me, my mom was gone for many years before Terry and I got together, and it wasn’t until afterward that I realized they have the same birthday. Besides, if you can figure out what’s going inside my head, you’re probably the one that needs to see a shrink.

It’s Thursday, so it’s time for a new Free Drawing. This week’s prize is a copy of the new hardcover edition of the 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 and audiobooks 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 Today is the oldest you have been, and the youngest you will ever be. Make the most of it!

Cold Case Solved

 Posted by at 1:05 am  Nick's Blog
Jun 212023
 

I’ve told you many stories from my years publishing small town newspapers on the Pacific Northwest coast and in Arizona, but there are other stories that remain untold for one reason or another. Here is one that was a long time coming.

Whether you are a healthcare worker, a first responder, a schoolteacher, or a newspaperman, when you live and work in a small town you’re often going to come into contact with people you know on a daily basis in the course of your duties. This can be both a blessing and a curse, depending on the person and the situation. As a newspaper publisher, I’ve had to cover stories about tragedies that happened to people I knew and write obituaries for close friends. Sometimes it’s hard to remain objective and treat these as just one more story, but it’s something the job demands even when you wish you could be far away and hand it off to somebody else.

Such was the case in mid-June of 1996 when I was at the scene of a terrible homicide in Pinetop-Lakeside, Arizona. A young man named Jody Hemphill, age 28, was found viciously stabbed to death at a business called Mountain Edge Tapes & CD’s, where he was working. It wasn’t the first homicide I covered in my career, and it wouldn’t be the last, but this one hit home because I knew Jody and his family. His father Dick had been a police officer, his mother Diane was a wonderful lady, his sister Terri worked at the bank and was a friend of mine, and his brother Lyle lived just a couple of houses down the street from me.

I can remember standing outside the building as the police were doing their initial investigation and seeing the little Dixie cups sitting inverted on the sidewalk, covering up the blood trail leading from the store as Jody’s killer made his getaway. And I can remember well the grim faces of the police officers, many of whom were also friends of mine, knowing that they were dealing with the murder of a family member of one of their own.

It was believed that robbery was the motive for the crime because $250 was missing from the store. A suspect was described as a Native American male in his late 20s to early 40s, with unkempt, dark collar-length hair. Pinetop-Lakeside is located on the edge of the White Mountain Apache Reservation and there was a lot of speculation about who was behind the attack and rumors floating through the community as people pointed fingers and talked about who could do such a terrible thing to such a nice person. I won’t go into all that here because it’s not my place to, and because there are still a lot of questions that have gone unanswered.

Over the years, as the family and the community’s frustration grew because no headway was being made on the case, it didn’t seem like it would ever be solved. I always tried to publish a story around the anniversary of Jody’s death to remind people about what had happened to him and that the person or persons responsible were still out there.

Time passed, and eventually, so did Jody’s parents, never knowing who took their son from them. The case grew cold, although the police never gave up, and last week it was announced that after developing new information, an arrest had been made. The suspect is a man named Romeo Massey Jr., a member of the White Mountain Apache tribe who lived on the reservation. In a press release, the police said that there may still be another unknown suspect who was also involved in the crime and the investigation is ongoing.

Nothing will ever bring Jody back, of course, but I hope the news of the suspect’s arrest might help his siblings, Terri and Lyle,know that their brother has not been forgotten, and that though the wheels of justice may turn slowly, they do continue to turn. Hopefully you can now rest in peace, Jody.

Thought For The Day The dead cannot cry out for justice. It is a duty of the living to do so for them.

T-Mobile Woes

 Posted by at 12:25 am  Nick's Blog
Jun 202023
 

I noticed when we got up Thursday morning that our T-Mobile 5G Internet hotspot was not working. I figured that it probably had something to do with the storm we had overnight and that it would come up eventually. It never did, so about 5 PM I called T-Mobile’s customer service number and spent over an hour dealing with somebody whose English was almost impossible to understand. If I hadn’t had it on speakerphone and Terry sitting next to me to try to help translate, I would not have known what the hell she was saying.

The long and short of it was that the device needed to be replaced, and they could send me one, which would not arrive until sometime next week. I asked if I could just take it to the T-Mobile store in Northport, where we got it and turn it in for a replacement, and she said we could. But since it’s a half-hour drive at least, I decided to call first to be sure they had a replacement in stock. The rather rude lady at the store told me that no, they didn’t do that, and she didn’t care what customer service said.

Frustrated, I called T-Mobile’s customer service number back, and this time connected with someone obviously in this country who spoke perfect English. It may have even been her first language. 😊 I apologized in advance for being frustrated and explained my situation, and she put me on hold and called the store in Northport, were they also told her they didn’t care what company policy was, they are a franchise store and they were not going to do it. She came back on the line and apologized, told me she had made a notation of their rudeness to pass higher up the chain of command, then told me she had also called the company store in Tuscaloosa and arranged for them to exchange the device for me.

That’s even farther than the Northport store and I wasn’t sure we would make it in time, but she told me that they knew I was coming and they would have it ready for me and be waiting for me. And sure enough, when I got there the manager and a gentleman working there had everything ready for me and it was a simple case of handing them the old device and them putting the SIM card in the new device and I was out the door.

You would think that would be the end of story, but you would be wrong. Back at home it quickly connected to the internet but kept rejecting our password. That took another half hour of frustration to get figured out, but thanks to Terry, we got it done.

Well, kind of. Both of our phones and our two computers in our office, which is two rooms away, connect just fine. But my other laptop and our smart TV, both of which are in the living room where the hotspot is located, won’t connect. No matter how many times we try, both give us a message “Cannot Connect To Network.” I have tried all of the usual things like rebooting the device to no avail. So yesterday I called customer service, got somebody else I could not understand, and was told to give it 24 hours to “settle in” and try again. Yeah, that ought to work even if it hasn’t settled in in the last 96+ hours.

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. Suddenly I’m not so hungry anymore.

Thought For The Day Never fear failure from trying, but always be terrified of regret for not trying.

Another Round

 Posted by at 1:16 am  Nick's Blog
Jun 192023
 

Thanks to everyone who expressed concern for us and for Travis and Geli after all of the storm damage. We are all hanging in there, and it looks like we’re not out of the woods yet. As I write this a little before midnight on Sunday, another round of storms is headed our way and it looks like that will be the pattern for the next week or so. The weatherman keeps saying that tornadoes are not common this time of year in Alabama, so I guess it’s something Mother Nature did just to welcome us.

I guess one good thing about all of this is the rainbows we are seeing. They remind us that the world is still a very special place.

We spent some time out in the garden yesterday afternoon, and even though it got beat up pretty badly, Terry has been able to salvage some stuff. While we were out there, she picked this squash, zucchini, yellow beans, and chives. The kale is flourishing, too!

There are also a bunch of green tomatoes. Some of them got scarred up by the storm, but they seem to be hanging in there.

While we were only without power for a few hours on Friday night, Travis and Geli still don’t have any, and the latest news is that it might be Wednesday before they get it re-established. Terry and I took one of our Honda generators over to their place so at least they can keep their freezers running and not lose all of their food, and can also keep their cell phone batteries charged and such.

I mentioned in yesterday’s blog that I’m going to have to get a chainsaw to cut up some of the downed trees and limbs from Friday’s storm. I don’t know what to get yet, but I’m looking at both Husqvarna and Stihl, and I’m open to suggestions. I know it needs to be a gas unit for all the work we need to do around here, but I won’t actually be cutting down any trees, just cleanup work, so it doesn’t have to be a massive, powerful saw.

In other news, Alli is not the least bit bothered by thunder, as many dogs are, but she has more energy than a dozen tornadoes wrapped up in one. She loves chasing a ball or frisbee or walking along the perimeter roads with me as I check out the damage. I bought her a cheap frisbee a while back, but it didn’t take her long to chew it up. Looking on Amazon, I found this Kong Flyer, which is flexible and looks to be just about indestructible.

I’m not a great frisbee thrower, and it doesn’t go very high, but it gets out there enough to give her a good run to bring it back. And after doing it long enough she gets tired and says, “That’s enough for today” and lies down in the shade.

I also ordered a XiaZ Hanging Bungee Outdoor Tether Tug of War Rope Toy for her and hung it off of the corner of the deck. She really likes it, and by the fierce look on her face you would think she was ready to mangle something or someone, but trust me, she’s a big baby who loves everybody she meets.

Congratulations Ronald Brazell, winner of our drawing for an audiobook of my pal Ken Rossignol’s The Chesapeake: Country Cornpone Cornucopia. It’s a series of short stories of and about people in and around the Tidewater Chesapeake region – along with a few stories from other regions when the writer’s travels.

We had 28 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 U.S. 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. A friend sent this because after our weather issues, we needed to see a smiling face.

Thought For The Day A happy marriage is when one half snores and the other one does not hear it.

Wolf Wind

 Posted by at 1:11 am  Nick's Blog
Jun 182023
 

Do you remember the fairy tail where the big bad wolf threatened to blow the little piggies’ houses down, and then he huffed, and he puffed, and he did it? Well, the wolf wind visited our part of Alabama on Friday.

The weatherman had predicted strong storms, and even the possibility of tornadoes. Late Friday afternoon the sky started getting black and our phones alerted us to the possibility of baseball size hail. I had parked the van and pickup under the carport on Thursday, but we drove the truck into town on Friday, so it was in the driveway. I drove it back down the hill and parked it next to the van in the carport just as the rain started coming down.

And boy, did it come down! Between the strong wind and the rain, there were times when we could not see the street from our house. There were no tornado warnings, so we did not go into our shelter, which is just a few steps from our side door, but we thought about it. In the middle of all that I got a call from the neighbor across the street saying that she was there alone, that trees were falling, and she was hiding in a closet and terrified. I told her to come over here, then walked out to meet her. We had not actually met in person, so it was not the best way to do so, but we were glad to be able to be there for her.

Though the big bad wolf wind did not take our house down, it caused tremendous damage all through the area. Our power was out for about twelve hours, but I won’t complain because Travis and Gila lost power at their place and still don’t have it back on. Trees were down everywhere and there was a lot of local flooding. We also got a lot of hail.

Yesterday morning when it was safe to do so, I went outside and began assessing the damage. There are a lot of tree limbs down all over the place.

Two trees on the south side of our yard snapped off about halfway up.

The top of one came crashing down, but the other one is hung up on a bunch of branches. I don’t know how long it will stay there but it definitely needs to be addressed before it comes loose and hurts somebody. Fortunately, everything was far enough away from the house that they didn’t hit it.

Just walking around, it’s obvious that I need to buy a chainsaw to start clearing things up. Since the temperature is in the mid to upper 80s, that’s not going to be fun. I will pace myself and do a little bit at a time as I can.

We obviously had straight-line winds even if it wasn’t a tornado. These are half-inch fiberglass poles that held the deer fence up around Terry’s fruit trees. They are all bent at a 90o angle in the exact same direction.

While the fruit trees seemed to have handled it well enough, the garden took a beating, and the rose bushes in front of the house were denuded of all of their pretty flowers.

At least we were able to salvage some of the blueberries.

Unfortunately, all of the beautiful gardens that Travis and Gila have spent literally hundreds of hours of backbreaking labor on were destroyed. They not only put their blood, sweat, and tears, but their hearts and souls into those gardens and they are understandably devastated. They have a different power company than we do and have not had power since Friday on their road and are under a boil water notice. Area churches are coming by bringing people food and water and checking if they need anything. We told them they are welcome to stay here for as long as they need to, but with all their chickens to be responsible for, Travis does not want to leave them. Our hearts ache for them. Sometimes life can be very unfair.

All in all, we have it better than a lot of people around us do. We are safe, our house and vehicles were not damaged, and except for having a lot of cleanup work ahead of us, we have nothing to complain about.

Today is your last chance to enter our Free Drawing for an audiobook of my pal Ken Rossignol’s The Chesapeake: Country Cornpone Cornucopia. It’s a series of short stories of and about people in and around the Tidewater Chesapeake region – along with a few stories from other regions when the writer’s travels. This mix of history and humor is the perfect way to pass time on a beach or promenade deck.

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 U.S. 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. When my dear friend Lynn Throckmorton sent me this, I remembered sneaking into the movie theater when I was a kid. Who knew sneaking out would get you in trouble?

Thought For The Day Staying positive doesn’t mean you have to be happy all the time.

Light Show

 Posted by at 1:17 am  Nick's Blog
Jun 162023
 

When we went to bed Wednesday night we knew that we were going to have some storms overnight, and boy did we get some doozies!  They started about 3 AM, and for the next three hours or so we had a tremendous light show as bolts of lightning shot across the sky and thunder boomed like cannons. At time the lightning was coming so rapidly that it was like a strobe light, one after another after another, and there were times when the thunder was so loud that it shook the house.

I was afraid that Alli would be freaked out by all of that, as many dogs are, but she ignored it completely, sleeping on her doggy bed on the floor beside our bed. I don’t think she even knew what was happening, though I have noticed other times when we have been outside and it has been thundering that she ignores it.

Beebee, Terry’s kitten, on the other hand, did not like what was going on at all! She meowed and yowled loudly nonstop. I think in her little kitty mind she thought the gates of Hell had opened and all the demons were coming after her. Needless to say, it was not the most restful night we ever had.

Yesterday afternoon we drove into Lowe’s in Northport and picked up a couple of propane tanks so we would have a backup for our stove. In Florida, we had a propane company that furnished a 100-pound tank and came by a couple of times a year to fill it. But every propane company I have talked to here won’t service us because they say we won’t use enough gas in a year for just the two of us to make it worth the cost of fuel to deliver. So instead, we will continue to take a tank in and get it filled as needed, and have a backup tank.

When we left Lowe’s, we met Travis and Geli at Mr. Chen’s Chinese restaurant for linner, which is a combination of a late lunch and an early dinner. It’s always nice to get together with the kids when we all have time, and the food was delicious, as always.

We are supposed to have a lot more rain and more storms in the next few days. We plan to hunker down at home and I’ll get some more chapters knocked out in my new Big Lake book. It’s too wet and too hot to do much of anything else.

Be sure to enter our latest Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an audio book of my pal Ken Rossignol’s The Chesapeake: Country Cornpone Cornucopia. It’s a series of short stories of and about people in and around the Tidewater Chesapeake region – along with a few stories from other regions when the writer’s travels. This mix of history and humor is the perfect way to pass the time on a beach or promenade deck.

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.

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 – They say that honesty is the best policy. But insanity is the best defense.

Weather Alert

 Posted by at 12:37 am  Nick's Blog
Jun 152023
 

There was a lot of thunder and rain Tuesday night, and we were awakened yesterday morning by weather alerts on our telephones informing us that a strong storm system was coming through our area and that we were under a tornado watch. That wasn’t a surprise because the night before, the weatherman had predicted afternoon storms with wind, hail, and even the possibility of scattered tornadoes.

My Mustang is parked in the garage, and we usually park the Pacifica and the Ram in the driveway in front of the garage. We have a carport down the hill on the barn road where the Kawasaki Mule, Kubota tractor, and Husqvarna riding lawn mower are parked. Our son Travis called to suggest I might want to move the Mule and tractor into the barn at the back of the property and park the van and pickup in the carport. With all the hail that was predicted, that sounded like a good idea. We could park the vehicles that way all the time but I’m lazy and don’t want to walk up and down the hill every time we come home from town, or all the way to the back of the property to get the Mule or the tractor from the barn. Eventually we are going to put up some kind of metal building or barn closer to the carport.

It was starting to sprinkle about the time I got all of the vehicles arranged, and there was quite a bit of thunder rumbling. But all we got during the day were a few showers and lots of threatening thunder, accompanied by some occasional lightning. The tornado warning was lifted at 5 PM, with the weatherman saying we could expect more storms overnight and this afternoon, though not nearly as severe. I guess we dodged a bullet again.

During the afternoon we watched a Robin Williams movie on Amazon Prime that I had never even heard of before called The Angriest Man In Brooklyn. It’s about a man who goes through life mad at the world, but has an awakening when a doctor tells him he only has 90 minutes to live. I guess you could call it a dark comedy, and the language is rough, but it has a very good message about the priorities in life. I have always said that Robin Williams was one of the greatest performers that ever lived. He could play the madcap comic or serious roles that would bring a tear to your eye, and I think this may well be the only one of his movies I had never seen until now. The world lost an amazing talent when we lost him.

It’s Thursday, so it’s time for a new Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an audiobook of my pal Ken Rossignol’s The Chesapeake: Country Cornpone Cornucopia. It’s a series of short stories of and about people in and around the Tidewater Chesapeake region – along with a few stories from other regions during the writer’s travels. This mix of history and humor is the perfect way to pass time on a beach or promenade deck.

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.

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 days that break you are the days that make you.

Not One Word

 Posted by at 12:25 am  Nick's Blog
Jun 142023
 

In yesterday’s blog, I told you that the weatherman said the next few days are supposed to be very stormy, which was fine with me because I would have time to get some writing done in my new Big Lake book. He lied, and I lied.

Though we had some rain before dawn, it had stopped by the time Alli woke me up at 8:30 for her morning constitutional, and the sky was cloudy. It stayed that way for most of the day, and the temperature was down to about 77o degrees, so as it turned out, I didn’t do any writing at all, save for this blog. Not one word.

Instead, I answered some morning emails, did some research, took Alli for a walk around the perimeter road, and spent some time throwing balls for her with the Chuck It! ball launcher. A year-old German shepherd is vibrating with energy, and if you don’t keep them occupied and somewhat tired they get bored, which can lead to destructive behavior. While I spend a lot of time throwing balls out into the pasture for her, when I want to really wear her out and be lazy at the same time, I sit on the deck and throw them down the hill toward the barn road. That way she has to run down the hill to catch the ball, then run back uphill and jump up onto the deck so I can repeat the process. This may sound kind of mean, but it does the trick. And Alli lets me know when she’s tired of the game because either she will lay down in the shade under the deck or just take the ball and go to the back door as if saying, “Okay, enough of this nonsense. Let’s get inside under the air conditioning.”

I thought I might get myself a little bit of a rest after playing outside with her, so I parked myself in my recliner, hoping to get a nap, I mean so I could do some mental plotting of the next chapter of my book. But the critters decided that wasn’t going to happen. BeeBee, the kitten, climbed up on my chest, and then Alli jumped up on my lap. So much for that idea.

But later on, all that activity caught up with her and she took a nap in front of the fan while Terry and I watched news coverage of Trump’s indictment in Florida. I’m sure you’ve heard people refer to something as being a dog’s life. Well, this is what it looks like.

Later in the afternoon, Terry went out and harvested some squash, zucchini, and kale from the garden. It’s amazing how much stuff is coming up in such a short time. Terry and Travis both tell me that next year will be even better because the soil has had time to be enriched from this year’s gardening.

Assuming the weatherman is telling the truth for a change, we should see some pretty strong storms this afternoon, with wind, hail, and even the possibility of some scattered tornadic activity. He says that within the next seven days we should get anywhere between four and six inches of rain. No problem, we need 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 The most important thing in life is not knowing everything, it’s having the phone number of somebody who does!

Shade And Screen

 Posted by at 1:16 am  Nick's Blog
Jun 132023
 

We are supposed to have a lot of rain later this week, so we took advantage of a good day yesterday to get a couple of outside projects done.

The first was putting a shade cover over the top of the 10×10 foot outdoor kennel we put up last week for Alli. I originally thought about using just a tarp, but Terry reminded me that we had purchased some shade material from Amazon to use on the carport at our place in Florida. I don’t know what became of that, but I went back and looked through my Amazon purchases, and ordered a Shatex 90% mesh sunshade fabric. It’s the same size as the kennel and has taped edges with grommets.

It came with 10 ball bungies, which was not nearly enough, but from our years as fulltime RVers we know the value of ball bungies. They have a million or more uses, so I also ordered a pack of 50 bungees. That leaves us plenty of extra ones for whatever we’ll find a use for, and I know we will. You can never have too many ball bungees.

We started out just hooking bungees through the grommets at the four corners of the cover to the frame of the kennel and then worked our way around until all the grommets were secured.

The cover was made with some excess, which is good so it will have a little bit of flex when it rains. We crossed two pieces of ¾” metal electrical conduit underneath to give it a little extra support.

This is what it looks like all done, and now Alli will have plenty of shade and a swimming pool full of water if we have to leave her out there while we go to town or something like that.

Our bedroom has a sliding glass door, which doesn’t work very well. Terry is not sure if it’s the wheels on the bottom of it or if the track just needs cleaned out well, as it’s been too hot to remove the door to check. Either way, in her years working as a glass contractor, she installed many doors like it, and she tells me it’s not going to be a big deal. She also wanted a screen door on it, so we found a universal replacement door on sale at Lowe’s, and yesterday she installed that.

The only thing I know about sliding doors is that every one I’ve had either jams up or comes off the track, but Terry assures me that won’t be a problem when she’s done. She finished up by trimming the weather stripping on the screen door. This is the look when she gave me when I told her that when I grow up, I want to be half the man she is.

When that was done, she set the screen door in place and made a couple of adjustments. We all know I’m worthless when it comes to anything like this, but Terry probably can’t count the number of doors she’s put in, and she made it look easy.

And here is the finished project. It’s too hot now to have the glass door open and just use the screen, but when things cool down a little bit it’s going to be very nice.

As I said, it’s supposed to be stormy off and on for most of the next week or so, which is no problem because it will give me time to get a lot of writing done on my newest book, Big Lake Assault.

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 our friends Larry and Joyce Space. Signs like this make me want to become a pedestrian, but I’m too lazy to walk.

Thought For The Day The probability of meeting someone you know increases a hundredfold when you’re with someone you’re not supposed to be seen with.

Q&A

 Posted by at 12:45 am  Nick's Blog
Jun 122023
 

I’m back with more questions from blog readers about RVing, my writing activities, what’s happening in our lives since we hung up the keys, and all kinds of other things. While I try to answer all questions individually, I also share some here occasionally.

Q. I know you guys sold your bus a long time ago, but I am hoping you can give us some advice. We want to convert a bus and have looked at a bunch of them. Three different people have told us not to go with an older bus with an 8V76 or 8V92 Detroit diesel motor, but other people say they are workhorses. Which is true?

A. Both are true. The old Detroit diesels are tried and true workhorses that will go a million miles if properly maintained. The problem is that it is difficult to find shops and mechanics who know how to work on them these days, with so many more modern engines on the road. Even when we had ours fifteen years ago, it was becoming an issue, and I can only believe it is more so today.

Q. What bidet did you get and why?  We have been looking and there are so many it’s hard to decide.

A. We got two of the LUXE Bidet NEO 120 on Amazon and have been very pleased with them. Quick and easy installation and trouble free. https://amzn.to/3oMpRkn

Q. Did Terry get the five-toed cat?  If not, just go down to Key West and purloin one of Hemingway’s cats.

A. She got a regular kitten, but then I found a polydactyl online in Mississippi that will be weaned and ready to go on the 25th. Since her birthday is the 22nd, that works out well.

Q. Will your next book after Big Lake Assault be a John Lee Quarrels novel?

A. Yes, it will. Jackpot, my twelfth John Lee book, is next on my list.

Q. I know this is a dumb question, so go ahead and laugh at me. Your new German shepherd Alli is beautiful. When I was growing up in the 1950s, dogs like that were called police dogs and we were warned to stay away from them. Are they two different breeds that look the same?

A. When I was a kid, I also heard the term police dogs all the time when referring to German shepherds. They got that nickname because so many police departments use them as K9 officers. But they are one and the same. And like any dog, they can be as gentle as lambs or can bite, depending on the given dog and the situation. Even trained police K9s live at home with their handler’s family with no issues when not on the job.

Q. I was stationed at Fort Rucker back in the 1980s and the Alabama summers were hotter than Hades. How are you going to tolerate living there after being in Florida?

A. The same way we did when we were living in Florida or the Arizona desert. We stay inside during the hottest part of the day and say a silent thank you to the man who invented air conditioning.

Congratulations Lynn Beman, winner of our drawing for an autographed copy of Tinder Street, the first book in my Tinder Street saga about two intertwined families beginning just before World War I and eventually through the Vietnam War years. It is the story of Twentieth century America told through the lives of the simple working class people who built the country. Farmers, factory workers, streetcar conductors, midwives, and public servants. Their joys and sorrows, their wins and losses, and how these people who struggled together to build a better life for themselves and their children changed a place named Tinder Street to Tender Street, a reflection of one family’s devotion to their neighbors. These were my people and this series is one I have wanted to write for years.

We had 102 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.

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 know you are on the right track when you have no interest in looking back.

Jun 112023
 

While we were in Tuscaloosa a couple of days ago, we stopped at PetSmart to pick up a couple of things, one of them an identification tag for Alli. They have a neat machine there called TagWorks, where you purchase a blank ID tag from several different styles, colors, and sizes to choose from.

Once you pay for it, the checkout clerk gives you a code that you place the tag in the TagWorks machine, enter the code, and you use a keypad to enter what you want it to say on the front and back. A minute or two later that information is laser engraved on the tag and you’re ready to go home and put it on your pet’s collar. In our case, I put Alli’s name on the front and my name, address, and phone number on the back. We plan to get her chipped when we take her in to be spayed in a couple of weeks, but I also want something that someone can just read and give me a call if she wanders off.

I’ve told you before how much she loves chasing a ball, but it turns out she loves chasing a frisbee, too. While we were at the pet store I picked up a cheap plastic frisbee and she loves chasing it. I can’t throw the darn thing well enough to get out a good distance with it, but it still gives her a lot of exercise.

Speaking of the games we play, the other day I was using the Chuckit! ball launcher, and when a ball landed in the pasture and Alli went after it she spooked up a rabbit. I’m not sure if that’s the first one she’s ever seen, but it’s definitely the first one she saw here. Her head snapped in two directions as she tried to decide what to go after, the ball or the rabbit. She decided on the ball, which was just as well, but it was comical to watch her confusion.

She’s also decided that she likes riding with me in the Kawasaki Mule. She was a little reluctant to get in it the first time, but once she did she settled in and loved seeing parts of the property she had not been to yet.

Last night while I was watching TV, I had both BeeBee the kitten and Alli sitting on me in my recliner. When I sent this picture Terry took of all of us to our daughter Tiffany, she wrote back and told me that my new title is the Animal Whisperer. Hey, I’ve been called worse! 😊

Today is your last chance to enter our latest Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an autographed copy of Tinder Street, the first book in my Tinder Street saga about two intertwined families beginning just before World War I and eventually through the Vietnam War years. It is the story of Twentieth Century America told through the lives of the simple working class people who built the country. Farmers, factory workers, streetcar conductors, midwives, and public servants. Their joys and sorrows, their wins and losses, and how these people who struggled together to build a better life for themselves and their children changed a place named Tinder Street to Tender Street, a reflection of one family’s devotion to their neighbors. These were my people and this series is one I have wanted to write for years.

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.

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 Is there a polite way to ask someone if their parents are first cousins?

Jun 102023
 

In a recent blog post titled Another Day, Another Chapter, I told you that I had received the formatted print edition of A Changing World, my fifth Tinder Street book, back and was hoping that my cover artist, Elizabeth Mackey would be able to get the cover done and back to me before her family’s move from Alaska to California. Thanks to good timing and hard work on Elizabeth’s part, we made the deadline and the printed edition is now available on Amazon at this link.

I wasn’t sure it was going to happen even after getting the cover back, because that same evening our power went out after I uploaded the files to Amazon and it took forever to get a confirmation back from them. There was a gentle rain falling but nothing close to a storm, but Alabama Power said it was a weather-related incident involving a downed tree. It’s a mystery to me how the little bit of rain we had could have caused something like that, but you never know.

Another mystery happened with us a couple of nights ago. Terry had a Corelle plate with some banana bread sitting on the counter and she heard a pop noise, and the plate broke into two pieces. Then a second later there was another pop noise and one of the pieces split again, as well as throwing a small shard off to the side. Nobody was touching it or even near it, and the bread wasn’t hot out of the oven. We can’t figure out what caused it to fracture like that not once, but twice. Now I’ve got to figure out how to work that into one of my books. The Case of the Fractured Plate.

Speaking of mystery books, I’ve finished six chapters in my latest Big Lake book, and most of the seventh chapter is done. Terry’s been proofreading and editing them and I will be sending them off to Judy and Roberta either today or tomorrow.

Be sure to enter our latest Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an autographed copy of Tinder Street, the first book in my Tinder Street saga about two intertwined families beginning just before World War I and eventually through the Vietnam War years. It is the story of Twentieth century America told through the lives of the simple working class people who built the country. Farmers, factory workers, streetcar conductors, midwives, and public servants. Their joys and sorrows, their wins and losses, and how these people who struggled together to build a better life for themselves and their children changed a place named Tinder Street to Tender Street, a reflection of one family’s devotion to their neighbors. These were my people and this series is one I have wanted to write for years.

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.

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

Thought For The Day – Did you ever look at somebody and wonder how they got all that stupid in just one head?

Jun 092023
 

Sometimes when people come to me for advice, I have to burst their bubble, as much as I hate to. Such was the case the other day when a neighbor stopped by to tell me about a book of poetry he had self-published a couple of years ago, asking me how he could get people to buy it.

I could already tell where this conversation was going, but I let him explain to me how he had written a book of poems and then paid some outfit $4,000 to publish it for him. In return for the money he spent, he received 1,000 copies of his 18-page book and a lot of promises about how he was going to be rich and famous in no time at all. After that all he heard was crickets.

He told me he had tried to take it to several bookstores but they weren’t interested, and now the company had finally responded to him, telling him that for another $5,000 they could guarantee to expose it to their “large audience” of customers. I asked him just how large that audience is and who those customers might be, but he didn’t have a clue except for the fact that they told him that this was going to be what would put him over the top and make him a household name.

When I told him that he had gotten ripped off and that he could have self-published his book on Amazon for little or nothing out of pocket, and that companies like this make their living feeding off of hopeful authors like himself, I could see his dream washing away in his eyes. Then I had to add insult to injury by telling him that not many people buy poetry these days, and that a $10 price tag, as recommended by his “publisher,” was going to guarantee that nobody was going to buy his 18-page book.

This isn’t the first person I’ve had to tell something like this, and I’m sure it won’t be the last. No reputable publisher is going to ask an author for a penny up front to publish their book. Real publishers pay authors an advance against future royalties. No matter what any company tells you, that’s the reality of the publishing world. Any company that tries to tell you otherwise is only feeding your ego with empty promises, and soon you’ll have an empty bank account to show for your trouble.

Be sure to enter our latest Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an autographed copy of Tinder Street, the first book in my Tinder Street saga about two intertwined families beginning just before World War I and eventually through the Vietnam War years. It is the story of twentieth century America told through the lives of the simple working class people who built the country. Farmers, factory workers, streetcar conductors, midwives, and public servants. Their joys and sorrows, their wins and losses, and how these people who struggled together to build a better life for themselves and their children changed a place named Tinder Street to Tender Street, a reflection of one family’s devotion to their neighbors. These were my people and this series is one I have wanted to write for years.

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.

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 Ignoring the facts does not change the facts.

Jun 082023
 

I wish I had a lot of interesting things to share with you in today’s blog, but I don’t. Much of yesterday was spent researching and working on my new book project, Big Lake Assault. I managed to complete the fourth chapter, and when I get one more done, I will print them out for Terry to edit and proofread, then send them on to Judy and Roberta to do their thing.

Aside from that and fielding quite a few e-mails, I also received the formatted print edition of A Changing World, my fifth Tinder Street book back yesterday. Elizabeth Mackey is working on the cover now, and hopefully she can get it completed before the movers come to start packing things up for her family’s transfer from Kodiak, Alaska, where they have been stationed with the Coast Guard, to California. If she does, the printed book should be available in just a few days. If not, we will have to wait until the move is done.

It’s Thursday, so it’s time for a new Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an autographed copy of Tinder Street, the first book in my Tinder Street saga about two intertwined families beginning just before World War I and eventually through the Vietnam War years. It is the story of twentieth-century America told through the lives of the simple working-class people who built the country. Farmers, factory workers, streetcar conductors, midwives, and public servants. Their joys and sorrows, their wins and losses, and how these people who struggled together to build a better life for themselves and their children changed a place named Tinder Street to Tender Street, a reflection of one family’s devotion to their neighbors. These were my people, and this series is one I have wanted to write for years.

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.

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 – Life is a journey to find people whose weirdness is compatible with your weirdness.

A Lot Going On

 Posted by at 1:18 am  Nick's Blog
Jun 072023
 

We have a lot going on that has been keeping us very busy. I’ve already told you about our new pets, and there’s no question about it, they have taken up a lot of our time as they adjust to living with us and we adjust to living with them. But it’s all been fun.

However, there’s more happening around here than just that. I have started my next book, Big Lake Assault, and in the last couple of days I’ve written over three chapters. It’s always fun for me to revisit that quirky little mountain town and all of the characters that live there. It feels like going home. Assuming your home is a cross between Twin Peaks and Mayberry.

Terry is starting to see some results from her garden. Yesterday she picked some zucchini, a summer squash, and kale. I’m still waiting for the strawberries and the pepperoni pizza plants to bloom.

Besides taking a short nap in my recliner in the middle of the day yesterday and waking up to Beebee sleeping on my stomach and Alli sitting with her head on the footrest of the recliner, sound asleep, Terry and I tackled another project.

I have never believed in tying dogs up outside. If I have a pet, it’s a member of the family and I want it in the house with us. However, I realize that there are times when that is not possible, or when we may have to leave the house for a while and don’t feel comfortable leaving the dog inside. So we went to Lowe’s and bought a 10’ by 10’ dog kennel kit, which we assembled yesterday.

It came in premade panels along with all of the assembly hardware. The six-foot-high kennel was easy to put together for just the two of us. It was basically a case of standing the panels up and using the supplied clamps to connect them together.

We put it just outside of the sliding glass door to our bedroom, where it will be shaded in the morning by a tree and in the afternoon by the house. We also plan to get a light-colored tarp to put over the top, both for more shade and to keep Alli from climbing or jumping out if she decides to try that.

Besides the clamps that came with the kit, we used a lot of outdoor-rated heavy-duty zip ties to reinforce everything. It may have been overkill but we figured it was worth the extra effort.

I wrote in the blog the other day that I bought a small children’s wading pool for Alli, which we put in one corner of the kennel. As you can see, she still has plenty of room. We won’t use the kennel often, but I don’t want my dog running around bothering the neighbors, getting into mischief, or worse yet, getting hit by a car.

After finishing that job, which took less than two hours, Terry took advantage of the sun being low in the sky to work in her garden a little bit while I watered the grass in the side yard and part of the backyard. Then when she was done in the garden, we turned the sprinklers on there because, as hot as it’s been, the plants definitely needed a drink.

Of course, Terry wasn’t done for the day. Not by a long shot. Back in the house, she made two loaves of delicious banana nut bread before making dinner. I always say she’s like the Energizer Bunny; she keeps going and going and going.

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 Some people won’t admit their faults, but I would if I had any.

Critter Update

 Posted by at 12:59 am  Nick's Blog
Jun 062023
 

Several people have asked me how our new dog Alli is settling into life with us and about the kitten Terry got last week when we were at the veterinarian’s. So I thought I would give you an update today.

Alli is doing just fine. She is energetic but not at all hyper like the people we got her from said she was. I think she was just reacting to being in a house with a bunch of little kids. Not to say that she is a couch potato, because she absolutely loves to go for a walk around our property and chase a Kong or a ball.

On the advice of several blog readers, I got a thing called a Chuckit! ball launcher that really lets me throw balls way out there for her. I know a young German shepherd needs a lot of exercise, so three times a day we have a long session chasing balls across the pasture.

The last few days have been very hot and we got a little kids’ wading pool for Alli. Sometimes after a session of fetch she’ll get in it and stand for a few minutes to cool herself off. It’s big enough for her to sit or lay down in but she prefers not to do that. Whatever floats your boat.

And even though I said above that she is not a couch potato, there are times when she thinks that she is a lap dog. When 50-plus pounds of German shepherd jumps in your lap and smothers you with kisses, all you can do is love her, right?

Now, as for the kitten. The first time I wrote about her I told her that she didn’t have a name yet, but since then Terry has decided her name is BeeBee. Sometimes that stands for Black Beauty and sometimes it stands for Black Brat. She deserves both.

She is very affectionate to Terry and tolerates me, which is about all I can ever expect from a cat. And like all kittens, she is curious and a bundle of energy. She’s always getting into something as she explores the house and everything in it. Often when Terry is working at her computer, BB will sit on her desk or on the top of her office chair, looking over her shoulder to make sure she’s doing everything right.

We were worried about how Alli would react to the kitten, but she’s a gentle girl and has not tried to harm her at all. She is very curious about this little creature and follows the kitten around a lot. Our only concern is that she is so big and the kitten is so tiny that she might hurt her accidentally. So we will watch them when they interact until BeeBee gets a little bit bigger.

The kitten is just as curious about the dog. Every once in a while they’ll get nose-to-nose and check each other out. Or Alli will lick her across the face, which BB does not appreciate at all.

And that’s life at the Russell household these days. I will say that these two newcomers to the family have certainly entertained us and kept us busy. The only problem is, I’ve got a new book to write and Alli doesn’t seem to understand that I can’t get much work done if I’m busy playing with her. She definitely loves attention and can be demanding at times.

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 – On Dateline, it’s always the friendly person who “lit up the room” that gets murdered. I’m glad I’m grumpy and unapproachable.

Late Night Flood

 Posted by at 12:45 am  Nick's Blog
Jun 052023
 

A couple of nights ago Terry and I were awakened about 3 AM by a strange sound that was somewhere between a hissing and liquid. Our first thought was what had our dog gotten into. But Alli is not the kind of dog to get into mischief or tear up the garbage or things like that. Besides, she was sleeping on her doggy bed on the floor right next to our bed.

Getting up to investigate, I realized the sound was coming from our bathroom, and when I went in, my feet got wet. Really wet. Turning on the light, the area around our toilet was saturated. I quickly turned off the water valve leading to the toilet and then we started looking for where the water was coming from. It didn’t take long to figure that out. The plastic fitting on the water line that goes to the bottom of the toilet tank had broken, emptying both the water in the tank itself and spewing out more water from the supply line.

The shut-off valve seemed to not close all the way, still allowing a trickle of water through. Terry has some big clamps that she uses in her weaving, so we kinked the water line and put a clamp on it, then began the cleanup. The toilet sits in a little alcove in the bathroom, and the water was at least a half-inch deep there. The rug in the alcove and also the one in the main part of the bathroom were both soaked, so we threw them in the bathtub and then started drying things out.

It was not the best way to spend a night, if you ask me. But it could have been worse. We know many people who use white noise machines or something like that to mask outside sounds when they sleep, and if we had had one of those on, or worse yet, been out of town, it could have been a total disaster.

The next day we went to Lowe’s and picked up a replacement stainless steel braided hose. You all know that Terry is the handyman in our house and I’m just the eye candy. Back at home she replaced the leaking hose with the new one, and while she was at it, she also used a rebuild kit for the tank mechanism that we had picked up at Lowe’s to do that, too.

By then she was on a roll, so she also installed a bidet fixture and a new seat on the toilet. We had the bidets at our house in Florida, and though I was skeptical at first, I came to appreciate just how great they really are.

But Terry wasn’t done yet. She had also bought a shut-off valve for the shower, and a metal collar that goes on the wall where the shower pipe comes out, since we were missing one. There’s nothing that girl can’t do.

And to prove it, once all of that was done, she made two delicious pizzas from scratch for dinner, one with just pepperoni for me and one loaded with veggies and pepperoni for herself. I sure hit the jackpot when I found her, didn’t I?

Congratulations Michael Dancer, winner of our drawing for an audiobook of The Last Call, the first book in my dear friend George Wier’s Bill Travis mystery series.  We lost Bill a while back, but his amazing talent lives on through his great stories. I only have a few of his audiobook codes left, and once they are gone there won’t be any more.

We had 31 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.

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 sounds like a kinky place to me. Does anyone have the address?

Thought For The Day Sometimes I like to flirt just to see if I’ve still got it. I don’t.

Birthday Boy

 Posted by at 12:50 am  Nick's Blog
Jun 042023
 

Today is my son’s birthday, and though I know he doesn’t like being the center of attention, sometimes you just have to do it. I raised Travis as a single father, and I’m sure I made a lot of mistakes along the way. Hopefully he’s forgiven me for most of them, and I guess I have to lay claim to at least some of his faults. I wish I could lay claim to some of his talents as well, because Travis is a gifted photographer, an amazing light painter, and I have no idea how he manages to grow the things he does.

I figured if I was going to embarrass him, I would try to find one of his baby pictures, but I don’t know what happened to them over the years. Here is one when he was 11 months old, with my father and mother.

This one was taken Christmas of 1980, when he was three. Don’t we look like a couple of stylin’ dudes, me and my boy?

For much of his childhood Travis was a latchkey kid, and I regret that because I missed out on some things I really should not have. I guess I tried to justify it by saying I had to earn a living, but for the life of me I can’t remember what any of those dollars I earned were spent on. I wish I had the memories instead.

Between his beard and tattoos, Travis may look scary to some people, but trust me, there’s not a kinder, gentler soul around. He still kisses his old man on the cheek every time he sees me and tells me how much he loves me. I guess a father can’t ever hope for more than that from his adult son, can he?

Happy birthday, Travis. I love you very much, and I can’t tell you how proud of you I am. You’ve grown to be a fine man and a fine human being.

Oh, and don’t forget, Terry made your favorite vegan carrot cake for your birthday. We look forward to spending some time with you this afternoon.

Today is your last chance to enter our Free Drawing for an audiobook of The Last Call, the first book in my dear friend George Wier’s Bill Travis mystery series.  We lost Bill a while back, but his amazing talent lives on through his great stories. I only have a few of his audiobook codes left, and once they are gone there won’t be any 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. 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.

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 Don’t worry about getting older. You’ll still do dumb stuff, it just takes you longer.