Nick Russell

Is Today The Day?

 Posted by at 12:17 am  Nick's Blog
Jul 292021
 

I knocked out another 5,000 words in my new Big Lake book yesterday, and I’m hoping today will be the day I finish it, given any unforeseen problems cropping up. Then I will give it a final check for any plot holes or errors before printing out the last chapters for Miss Terry to edit and proofread, and then send them on to my other two proofreaders. When I get all those back and corrected, Terry and one of the proofreaders will do a final read-through of the whole manuscript just to see if there’s anything we all missed.

While that is happening, I will be formatting the manuscript, pending final corrections that I can make in the formatted version, writing the blurb that will go on Amazon to describe the book, and also writing the first chapter of the next book in the Big Lake series, which will go in the back of this one as a teaser of things to come. It sounds like a lot to get done, and it is, but with 45 previous books under my belt, I’ve kind of got it down to a science.

Not a perfect science by any means, and I wouldn’t be surprised if after all of this editing and proofreading a sharp-eyed reader or two doesn’t find something that slipped past us. It happens. The great thing about digital self-publishing is that I can go back in and make immediate changes in both the e-book and the printed book if somebody does spot an error.

So what happens on our agenda after the book comes out? We had planned to take a short trip up to Ohio and Michigan to do some research on the next book in my Tinder Street series, but with COVID cases increasing around the country again, we’re rethinking that. Even though we are both fully vaccinated, nothing is 100%. While we might only get a mild breakthrough case, we don’t want to transfer it to somebody else who may not be vaccinated.

Our numbers here in Florida are climbing at an alarming rate and are at or near where they were during the worst of the pandemic last year. Several hospitals here have announced they are canceling elective surgeries because they want to keep as many resources as possible available for incoming COVID patients.

I had hoped we were turning the corner, but I fear that due to mass ignorance and stubbornness from those who refuse to get a vaccine or even wear a mask, we may never get past this. I’ve lost some friendships because I’ve also lost enough friends and family members to the pandemic that I have absolutely no patience for anybody who downplays things and won’t take the simple steps necessary to protect themselves and those around them. We truly are a nation of fools.

And finally, thank you to everybody who posted blog comments or sent me e-mails of condolence after reading yesterday’s blog about the loss of my friend, author George Wier. I appreciate all of you.

It’s Thursday, so it’s time for a new Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an audiobook of Pirate Trials: Dastardly Deeds & Last Words, the first book in my friend Ken Rossignol’s Pirate Trials 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 the high shipping cost of printed books and Amazon restrictions on e-books to foreign countries, only entries with US addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed.

Thought For The Day – They say every piece of chocolate you eat shortens your life by two minutes. I did the math, and I died in 1532.

Rest In Peace, George

 Posted by at 12:22 am  Nick's Blog
Jul 282021
 

My heart is heavy with the news that my friend and fellow author George Wier has lost his battle with esophageal cancer. The world is a darker place without George’s sense of humor and many talents in it.

Though we lived in different parts of the country, and most of our contact over the years was through e-mail or Facebook messages or telephone calls, I learned a lot from George. He was always a loyal friend, a source of entertainment as well as advice, and George was one of those professionals who was as excited and pleased with the success of his friends as he was with his own.

The last time we went through Texas, George was under the weather and we promised each other we would get together another time, as we did previously, along with another of my favorite authors and dearest friends, Billy Kring, in this earlier meeting. I remember George looking around the table that day and saying, “You know guys, the first liar doesn’t stand a chance around here!”

George was suffering greatly the last time I talked to him two or three weeks ago, but he did not feel the least bit sorry for himself. He told me that he had lived a life with few regrets and that whatever happened, he was looking forward to the next adventure in this world or whatever comes next.

George was an accomplished author, with such popular works as the Bill Travis mystery series and a number of short stories and books on everything from science fiction to steampunk to his credit, and not many people could turn a phrase like he did. The man was a true wordsmith.

But he was so much more than that. George was an amazing artist, and I always told him that someday I wanted to have one of his drawings hanging on my wall. Whether he was working in color or pen and ink, his creations grabbed you and wouldn’t let go. George was also a musician, and he could do things with a violin that would make you sit up and take notice and leave you speechless.

With all of those accomplishments under his belt, I think George’s biggest claim to fame was the many friends he had, from other authors and artists, to people in the legal profession, medicine, and blue-collar working folk, too. Nobody was too far above George or too far below him that he wouldn’t take the time to earn their friendship. I know that I’m a richer man for having known him.

Rest in peace, brother. I miss you already.

Thought For The Day – There is no greater memory than the sound of a friend’s laugh. May it drown out the sound of my cries.

Closer Every Day

 Posted by at 12:27 am  Nick's Blog
Jul 272021
 

Yesterday was another 6,000 word day in my new Big Lake book. I’m getting closer to the end all the time and should be able to wrap it up in the next two or three days. Then it will go through the last stages of editing and proofreading, followed by formatting, and be out. I’m really enjoying this story. It’s got some interesting twists and turns, and I hope my readers will like it, too.

I did take a break from writing for a while yesterday to run to the post office to mail out a book and then to stop and fill up three gas cans. We try to keep several cans of gasoline on hand for our Honda generators during hurricane season, which will go all the way through the end of November. I always put Sta-Bil fuel stabilizer in the cans, but even so, every so often I pour the gas into one of the cars and replenish it. If things get bad enough that we need to be running our generators, the last thing I want to have to worry about is the gasoline I’m putting in them.

While I was getting gas, I heard a commotion and turned to see a dually pickup towing a flatbed trailer make a right turn onto the US Highway 1, ignoring the red light, and in the process, he dropped off two large wooden wishing wells right in front of oncoming traffic. At least one car was damaged, and I was surprised there wasn’t a bad accident because it’s a busy intersection. The fool driving the truck kept right on going, probably too dense to realize the damage he had done or the lives he had endangered.

I hate being behind anybody towing things on a trailer or a loaded truck because I’ve had a couple of bad experiences. Many years ago, when my father was in the hospital dying of cancer, I was taking my mother to see him. We were on Interstate 10 in Tucson when a truck with a flatbed trailer piled high with wooden mobile home steps lost part of its load right in front of us. I was in the center of three lanes, and there were eighteen-wheelers on both sides of me and a car right on my bumper, so the only thing I could do is put my hand over my mother’s face and run right into the mess. It tore the heck out of the car, but fortunately, we were not injured.

Another time, Terry and I were on Interstate 75 in Tennessee when an aluminum extension ladder fell off the back of a truck right into our path. We were lucky because it landed in such a way that I was able to straddle it with our Toyota pickup and keep right on going. A couple of years ago we were in Daytona Beach when a plastic box with a Dewalt electric drill and other tools fell off in front of us. We were able to stop and pick it up, but by then the driver of the truck was long gone.

While I was running errands and then back home writing, Terry was proofing some previous chapters I had written, as well as working her magic in the kitchen. Every time I think she’s reached the limits of what she could possibly do to amaze me, she just laughs and says, “you ain’t seen nothing yet!” Dinner last night was grilled pork chops and wild rice, and the night before was a delicious pepperoni and cheese calzone with homemade marinara for dipping that was better than anything I’ve ever had in any Italian restaurant on the planet.

Last night’s dessert was an amazing blueberry key lime tart. We gave some to our buddy Jesse across the street, and a while later, his pretty lady Jennifer sent me a Facebook message saying that his mouth had an orgasm while he was eating. Yeah, buddy, been there and done that, more than once!

Terry likes having Jesse and Jennifer across the street because she loves to cook and bake, and there’s only so much I can eat before I will be too big to get through the door and out of the house. They very graciously help reduce the supply of goodies from her kitchen. That’s what friends are for, right?

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. With school starting back up soon, I figure classroom teachers and homeschooling parents all need to be prepared.

Thought For The Day – Trying to hurt me by bringing up my past is like robbing my old house. I don’t live there anymore.

Jul 262021
 

Note: This is a repost of a blog from a few years ago, but the message is just as important today.

I am a big advocate for safety in the RV lifestyle and in everything we do. Sometimes I probably err on the side of caution, but so far I haven’t wrecked our motorhome and it hasn’t burned down with us in it, so I guess my method is working out.

In the course of a normal week I get a number of e-mails from RVers and wannabes asking me about a lot of things, including what options I think they should purchase. Among the things I always tell people they should invest in are good smoke alarms and CO detectors, the proper fire extinguishers, an electrical management system (EMS), a supplemental braking system for towed cars, and RV driving lessons. And I can’t tell you how many people think some or all of those items are a waste of money. I’ve always been baffled by that train of thought.

Among my other activities in life I was a firearms instructor in the military and also as a civilian. Over the years I’ve had many people ask me if a quality self-defense firearm is really worth the extra cost over a cheaper make and model. I always ask them, “I don’t know, how much is your life worth?” It’s kind of the same thing here. Is your life and the lives of your passengers worth the investment in a supplemental braking system, or quality fire extinguishers, or spending a day and a little bit of money learning how to be a good RV driver? Only you can answer that question. I don’t know you or your family. But I know what mine is worth.

My rig came with smoke detectors. Why would I want to replace them if they work?” Some, not all, RV manufacturers put top quality detectors in their products, and some cut corners anywhere they can. Yes, the detectors they install may meet minimum standards. Are you willing to bet your life on the guy who was the lowest bidder?

My RV has a fire extinguisher mounted right by the front door.” Yes, and that dinky little thing won’t have much more effect than spitting on an RV fire. We have a dozen quality foam fire extinguishers. These include extinguishers in our bedroom, kitchen, by the door, in the front bay, in our Ford Explorer, as well as fire suppression units in our refrigerator and engine compartments. Is that overkill? Have you ever seen an RV fire? I have, and they are an ugly thing.

Why do I need an EMS? Don’t campground power outlets have to be up to code?” I don’t know what the local codes may be, but judging by the number of bad power pedestals we’ve encountered in our time on the road, I’m sure a lot don’t meet the standards. I have seen a lot of RVs damaged by both high and low voltage, and the cost of replacing things like TVs, microwave ovens, and air conditioners, plus the possibility of those appliances shorting out and starting a fire, is a lot more than the investment in an EMS system.

That big heavy motorhome of mine will stop that little old car behind me!” I used to think that too, until I had to make a panic stop one day after somebody ran a red light in front of us. We were in an MCI bus conversion and the Toyota pickup we were towing ended up sitting on top the motorcycle rack mounted on the back of the bus. We’ve also known at least two RVers whose tow cars became disconnected from their tow bars and went rolling down the highway and off the road all by themselves.

I’ve been driving for 50 years. Why do I need RV driving lessons?” Even a Class C motorhome is a lot bigger and heavier than most passenger cars and pickup trucks. They take up more space in the road, they need more room to turn, stop, and maneuver. It takes an entirely new skill set to safely drive one. Not only should the primary driver take a driving course, but also the spouse or partner should know how to get the rig to a safe place in case the regular driver becomes sick or is incapacitated.

Yes, an RV is a big investment, and it does cost even more money for the safety upgrades I’ve talked about today. Only you can decide if it’s a worthwhile investment. How much is your life worth?

Congratulations Judy Butterfield, winner of our drawing for an autographed copy of Big Lake Hoarder, the nineteenth book in my Big Lake mystery series. We had 87 entries this time around. Stay tuned. a new contest starts soon. Note: Due to the high shipping cost of printed books and Amazon restrictions on e-books to foreign countries, only entries with US addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed.

Thought For The Day – On the internet you can be anything you want. So why do so many people choose to be stupid?

Keeping Jesse Busy

 Posted by at 12:28 am  Nick's Blog
Jul 252021
 

Jesse Bolton, our neighbor from across the street, has been busy helping us with some home improvement projects whenever he has time away from his regular job as a heavy equipment operator. Jesse is one of those guys who can do anything, and I do mean anything.

When we replaced our original microwave with a low-profile unit (which Jesse installed), it left a bare area on the wall between the old thin-set brick veneer and the top of the new microwave. We only needed to fill an area 6 inches by 30 inches, and the brick comes in boxes that cover 8 square feet for somewhere around $80. So instead, Terry got some nice tile squares that would fill the area perfectly, and Jesse set them in place the other day.

Now he’s busy on a new project, and it’s a big one, installing corrugated clear polycarbonate hurricane panels on all of our windows.

The first step was removing the decorative wooden shutters on either side of the windows, then mounting wood strips above and below the windows that screwed into the studs that hold them in place. Then Jesse mounted special channels above and below each window and installed the polycarbonate panels.

The final step was reattaching the decorative wooden shutters. We think they look great and will give us some added protection during hurricane season, while still allowing us to see out the windows when we want to.

The panels are easy to install and remove. They slide into the top channel, and are a snug fit (top picture), and are held in place with stainless steel wing nuts attached to studs on the lower channel (bottom picture).

We will probably take them off and store them in the garage unless a storm is coming because though they are resistant to UV light, I’m sure over time it could cause some deterioration, and we want to prolong their life as much as possible.

The first window took the longest because Jesse had to pull off some of the siding to see what was under it and where the studs were and to make sure everything was going to fit. He tells me that now that that’s done, the others should be quicker and easier, and he will do a window or two in the evenings after work, time and weather allowing.

To show our gratitude for all that he does for us, yesterday evening we took Jesse and his beautiful lady Jennifer down to Dixie Crossroads in Titusville for a seafood dinner. They had never been there before, and I think they were impressed. We’ve never had a bad meal there.

Today is your last chance to enter our Free Drawing for an autographed copy of Big Lake Hoarder, the nineteenth book in my Big Lake 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 the high shipping cost of printed books and Amazon restrictions on e-books to foreign countries, only entries with US addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed.

Thought For The Day – A writer is someone who forces what’s living in their head to pay rent.

Jul 242021
 

Yesterday morning Terry and I had to go to LabCorp to get blood draws for upcoming doctor appointments. We finished there about noon, and since we had to fast before the appointment and we had some other things we wanted to do while we were out, we decided to try a small restaurant on U.S. Highway 1 in New Smyrna Beach called Mom’s Home Cooking to see what we had been missing. It turns out we were not missing anything. If my mom had cooked like this place I would have run away from home the first time I got out the door.

Terry’s biscuit seemed to be a couple of days old and was reheated in the microwave, her home fries had also been reheated so many times in the microwave that they were hard to stick a fork into, and her Greek omelet was a paper-thin wrap around a very crunchy filling and not at all tasty. I ordered a flounder and shrimp combo and the fish was about 1/2 inch thick and heavily breaded, as were the shrimp. Both tasted like frozen food. We won’t be going back.

When we were done there we ran by New Smyrna Beach Chrysler Jeep to check on the status of the Ram Laramie pickup I ordered a while back, and because I wanted to see about getting running boards for Terry’s Chrysler Pacifica. We bought the minivan at the Dodge dealer in Daytona Beach and they were supposed to include running boards with it, but then they came up with all kinds of excuses why that couldn’t be done, including saying that they were no longer available. That place lied to us so many times that I didn’t even consider them for the next two new vehicles I bought. Sure enough, running boards for the Pacifica are still available, so I will be ordering them soon because it makes it easier for both of us to get in and out with our bad backs.

While I was there I also got the VIN for my new truck, then when we got home, I went on the Ram website to check the build status. The agent said all parts are on hand and it is about to enter assembly in the next one to seven days. He said then it will take about four to five days to build it, and then shipping, which can take anywhere from one to four weeks. Then he added, “unless there are any unforeseen problems.” So hopefully things are moving along. Several people on a Ram truck group on Facebook said not to believe that and that no 2022s will arrive at dealers’ before the end of October. They may be right because we know that if it’s on the internet it has to be true. Everybody knows they can’t put stuff on there that isn’t true.

It was raining lightly when we left the house, and I suggested to Terry that we take the Pacifica, since it was in the garage and we wouldn’t have to go outside to get in the Explorer. It turned out we were glad we did because by the time we got home the rain was pouring and we would have gotten drenched between the Explorer and the house. Instead, we pulled into the garage and stayed dry.

Be sure to enter our latest Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an autographed copy of Big Lake Hoarder, the nineteenth book in my Big Lake 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 the high shipping cost of printed books and Amazon restrictions on e-books to foreign countries, only entries with US addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed.


Thought For The Day – My friend told me she wouldn’t eat beef tongue because it came out of a cow’s mouth. Then I handed her an egg.

Thousand Trails Advice

 Posted by at 12:17 am  Nick's Blog
Jul 232021
 

A longtime reader contacted me yesterday saying they are considering a Thousand Trails campground membership and asking me for my thoughts on the matter.

Thousand Trails is like any other membership campground system. If you use it, it can be a good deal, and if you don’t, it’s a waste of time and money. We used it a lot when we were fulltime RVers and saved a small fortune with our membership.

There are many different types of memberships offered, and they seem to change them on a monthly basis, as well as the benefits and limitations of each one. We had a nationwide membership that included Thousand Trails, Leisure Time Resorts, and Outdoor World, which all fall under the same umbrella. That allowed us to stay in any campground for three weeks, and then we had to move to another campground in or out of the system for the amount of time we were there before we could return.

So, for example, we would stay at the Orlando Thousand Trails Preserve for three weeks, then we would drive 35 miles or so to the Three Flags Outdoor World Resort in Wildwood, Florida, and stay there three weeks, and then go back to Orlando, spending the winter bouncing back and forth like that. At $5 a night for a full hookup RV site, it was worth moving every three weeks. We did the same thing a couple of summers on the Pacific Northwest coast, bouncing between the Seaside, Oregon Leisure Time Resort and the Long Beach, Washington Thousand Trails, again about 35 miles apart.

Whatever you do, don’t pay full price for a new membership. There are tons of them out there that people just want to get rid of and not have to pay the annual dues. You’ll see them listed in the back of Escapees magazines and other RV magazines and sometimes even on campground bulletin boards. If you find one you like, call the main office and give them the membership number and make sure you know exactly what you are getting, what campgrounds are part of the package, how long you can stay, and all of that. As I said, they change plans a lot, so you need to know exactly what plan you are buying, and if anything changes with an ownership transfer. There will be a transfer fee to pay, based on the original membership contract.

Overall, it was a very good investment for us. $5 a night in Florida or on the Pacific Northwest coast for a full hookup RV site is darned good. We did the same when we went to New England, spending $5 a night at two or three campgrounds up there. Our annual dues were something like $500 a year, for which we got 50 “free nights” and after that we had to pay the nightly fee.

Some of the campgrounds are a bit rundown, and they can be very crowded during peak season, so you have to plan ahead and make your reservations in advance. But overall, for our needs, it was a good option. Your individual style may be different.

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. Thanks to Linda Sand for this one!

Be sure to enter our latest Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an autographed copy of Big Lake Hoarder, the nineteenth book in my Big Lake 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 the high shipping cost of printed books and Amazon restrictions on e-books to foreign countries, only entries with US addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed.

Thought For The Day – I guess we should retire the expression ‘avoid it like the plague’ given how little effort people put into avoiding an actual plague.

Jul 222021
 

Terry had a routine appointment at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville yesterday afternoon to check on her Interstim device and to meet her new doctor. Everything looks good and we really like the new doctor, who is very down to earth and has a great sense of humor. She took the time to listen to Terry’s concerns about a couple of issues and answer her questions fully. We will be going back again in August for another appointment. It’s only about 90 miles from home to there, and interstate highway most of the way, so it’s a pretty quick trip up there.

For quite a while now I have been talking to an online friend named Deb Dlugosz, who lives in Jacksonville. When we first started going to Mayo, Deb reached out and gave us some tips on the best hotels to stay nearby, and good places to eat. We kept saying we needed to get together one of these days, and yesterday seemed like a good day for it. So once we were done at Mayo we met Deb and her husband Dan for dinner at a place called Seafood Express.

The portions were generous, the food was good, and the company was excellent. We had a wonderful time visiting and getting to know them. They told us about another restaurant that has great bison burgers, so the four of us agreed that when we come back in August, we will get together and go there for dinner. I’m really looking forward to it. Here is a picture of Dan, Deb, and Miss Terry, all full of yummy seafood.

Deb had mentioned that for quite some time now, a duck has been living just outside of the door of the restaurant, and laying its eggs there. And sure enough, when we left, there was an egg!

We had some light rain on and off heading home, and about the time we got to Daytona Beach, the sky opened up and it began coming down in buckets. Big buckets! A lot of traffic on Interstate 95 was down to 50 miles an hour or less, but of course, there are always some fools who have to blow by everybody doing 80 or 85. We saw a couple of accidents, and ambulances and police cars on roads next to the highway heading off in other directions, too. It wasn’t a good day to be a first responder.

Of course, when we got back to Edgewater, everything was dry and it didn’t look like a drop of rain had fallen all day. As I’ve said before, we live in the Florida desert. It can be raining hard a mile or two north and/or south of us, and we get nothing.

But at least we get some good sunsets. Nothing like the ones we were used to back in Arizona, but nice nevertheless. Here are a couple of pictures Terry took of the sunset when we got home.

Today it will be back to writing for me. I’m getting toward the end of my latest Big Lake book, and I’m looking forward to finishing up and getting it out. Then I’ll start my next book project.

It’s Thursday, so it’s time for a new Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an autographed copy of Big Lake Hoarder, the nineteenth book in my Big Lake 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 the high shipping cost of printed books and Amazon restrictions on e-books to foreign countries, only entries with US addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed.

Thought For The Day – If we’re going to have an Olympics in the middle of a pandemic, then why don’t we just go all the way and make one of the events running with scissors?

 

Jul 212021
 

Note: This is a blog post from our days as fulltime RVers, exploring some interesting places on Cape Cod.

Yesterday was another gloomy day, but since it was our last chance to play tourist in this area, we decided to take advantage of it. I’m sure glad we did!

We drove the 26 miles into Sandwich, getting caught up in a long traffic jam that extended from about five miles north of the Bourne Bridge to the bridge, itself. Three lanes of traffic, plus an onramp from State Highway 6, all funnel down into two lanes to cross the bridge and immediately enter the traffic circle at the bottom on the other side. It took us most of an hour to travel those five miles, and if there had been a way to get off the highway and turn around I probably would have. So it’s a good thing there wasn’t.

Our destination was the Heritage Museum and Gardens, which are tucked away on a narrow two-lane road in Sandwich. And when I say narrow, I mean barely enough for two cars to pass each other going in opposite directions. While they have buses coming to the museum complex, I sure wouldn’t drive my motorhome down there. But it was no problem in our Explorer. And oh, the delights that awaited us!

The museum complex covers many acres of manicured and exquisitely groomed gardens, with paved pathways, as well as nature trails for those who feel a bit more adventurous. All along the way, beautiful flower gardens and plants line the pathways.

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Our first stop was this beautiful round barn, modeled after the stone dairy barn at the Shaker Village in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.

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We didn’t find any cows inside waiting to be milked, but rather a beautiful collection of antique cars dating back to the earliest days of automotive engineering. There was everything from a Stanley Steamer, to a beautiful yellow Duesenberg, a couple of Woody wagons, and more.

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I’m an old car guy (as opposed to an OLD car guy), though I guess I fit in that category, too, since I’ll turn 60 in October. So I really enjoyed seeing these beautiful antique automobiles.

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We left the automotive display and walked further down the path, where we came upon this beautiful windmill, which was built in 1800 and help supply Union troops with ground corn during the Civil War.

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As we explored the grounds, we came across a number of whimsical garden gates that caught our attention, all created by local artists.

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Miss Terry loves flowers and she was constantly stopping to take photos of the many beautiful blossoms on display.

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The highlight of the day for us was a special exhibit called Norman Rockwell, Beyond The Easel, which explained all the painstaking work the artist put into creating his beautiful paintings and Saturday Evening Post covers. Besides a number of original Rockwell paintings, there were sketches and photographs of the models and props that he used to create the finished product. No photography was allowed in that exhibit, but no camera could pay just tribute to Rockwell’s work anyway.

Another building housed a beautiful old working carousel and we stopped to watch kids and their parents riding the horses and other animals that have delighted children for over 100 years.

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The same building held a folk art collection that included a collection of cigar store Indians and other advertising figures.

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There were also interesting collections of old weathervanes, Scrimshaw, original oil paintings, and signs used to advertise businesses, including these giant scissors for a tailor shop, and this fellow that hung in front of a book and antique shop.

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Since it was our last time on Cape Cod for a while, when we left the museum we stopped at Marshland Restaurant again for a seafood dinner. If anything, it was even better than our first time around. Terry said her lobster roll was the best she’s ever tasted in her life. And words cannot describe their scallops. Beyond delicious.

As we were crossing the Bourne Bridge back onto the mainland, a police car sped past us and got behind a black Cadillac Escalade and flipped on his overhead lights. I don’t know if the people inside the SUV were trying to evade him, or just stupid and didn’t know they had a rearview mirror to look into, because they held a steady speed of about 60 mph as the police car followed them for a good three to five miles with his overhead lights flashing. Soon we saw another police car coming from the opposite direction on the highway, and he crossed the median to join the chase if that’s what it was.

The car continued driving along, not taking any kind of evasive action, not speeding up, not trying to get away, just staying in their lane and ignoring those red and blue lights in their rearview mirror. So another police car showed up, and then another, and then another, while all the traffic slowed down behind them, not wanting to get too close to whatever was going down. Eventually they did get the vehicle stopped, and traffic on the highway came to a grinding halt while they tried to get things sorted out. State and local police officers with AR-15’s and a K-9 unit swarmed around the Cadillac.

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When they started getting traffic moving again, routing us into one lane to get past them, it looked like several women and a bunch of kids. Nobody was in handcuffs and the cops all seemed relaxed by then, so we don’t know what was going on. I really do think that whatever originally got the first officer’s attention wasn’t that serious and that they just kept driving along in their own little world, so he called for backup, which is entirely reasonable.

We call these kind of people OPOPs, which stands for Only People On The Planet. You know the type – they go through life totally oblivious to anything and anybody around them.

Soon after we got home, the gloomy skies we had overhead all day long finally opened up and it began to rain. It’s supposed to rain all day today but that’s okay because we planned to stay home anyhow. This is our last day at Gateway to Cape Cod Outdoor World Resort, and Monday we will be moving to the Sturbridge Village Outdoor World Resort, about 95 miles away. We’re not exactly sure they can accommodate a rig our size since I was told that they only have a few big rig sites, so we’ll just have to wait and see how that plays out.

Thought For The Day – I love people who can make me laugh when I don’t even want to smile.

The Squeaky Wheel

 Posted by at 12:42 am  Nick's Blog
Jul 202021
 

Yes, the squeaky wheel does eventually get greased. But sometimes, it has to squeak loud and long before that happens. In a blog post a couple of weeks ago titled Stair Rails And Carpet Woes, I told you that we have been unhappy with the carpet we had installed in our house three years ago. Within a few weeks after installation, it was starting to come loose and ripple in the center of every room.

Repeated calls and visits to the store to complain were ignored until we stopped in a while back, and Terry let the owner’s nephew know exactly how she felt about their shoddy installation and lack of customer service. There were other customers in the store, and she made a point of telling them that they might want to look elsewhere. That got the owner’s attention and he came out to the house to look over the job. While not admitting any wrongdoing on their part, he said he would send someone to make it right.

That was scheduled for yesterday morning between 8:30 and 9:00, and at 9:01 two employees showed up and spent several hours moving furniture, stretching the carpet, and reattaching it. It looks good and we hope it will stay that way. The guys were polite and efficient, and it’s not their fault that someone else did a crappy installation job the first time around, or that the company didn’t address the problem when it first came up. So I gave them each a $20 bill as a tip and told him to enjoy lunch on me.

So, as I said, the squeaky wheel does get greased. It just takes a while.

Before the men could start the work, we had to move Terry’s collection of Aladdin lamps and some other breakable antiques into another room out of their way and out of danger. After they left, it took us a couple of hours to get everything put back in place, and by then it was mid-afternoon.

I have not been sleeping well the last few nights, averaging four to five hours of sleep a night broken up into bits and pieces. It was just over four hours the night before, so I really wanted to spend some time in my recliner napping. But I also needed to get some work done, so instead, I knocked out two more chapters in my new Big Lake book, for a total of somewhere around 4,750 words before it was time for dinner. I am about at the ¾ point in the story and hope to get it wrapped up pretty soon, so I will be back at it again today.

Many people have asked me where I get the ideas for my books, and I tell them they come from everywhere. It might be something I saw on the news, or an idea picked up from a true crime story on TV, or maybe it’s based on something that I covered in my small town newspaper publishing days. Sometimes it’s just a snippet of conversation I overheard somewhere. And now and then a story idea seems to come out of thin air. This happened Sunday night while I was formatting yesterday’s blog when an idea for another Big Lake book hit me out of the blue. I rolled it around in my head for a while as I was finishing the blog and then taking my shower and getting ready for bed, and before I knew it, I had the makings of what I hope will be a pretty good mystery to share with my readers one of these days.

Another question I get asked quite often is how many more books do I plan on for the Big Lake series? As long as my readers keep enjoying them, I plan to keep writing them. Including the story idea that came to me just the other night, right now I have plans for at least fourteen more books in the series. And that doesn’t include at least another ten books in the John Lee Quarrels series. And let’s not forget my Tinder Street family saga. I want to do ten more books in that series, too. Since I normally write between four and six books a year, that’s at least seven more years if no other new ideas come to me. And I seem to get new ideas all the time. Since I’ll turn 69 in October, I’ll probably keep writing until the orderlies in the old folks home eventually take my crayons away from me.

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 used to have superpowers, but my psychologist took them away.

Jesse Makes A Door

 Posted by at 12:09 am  Nick's Blog
Jul 192021
 

I’ve told you before about all of the things our neighbor Jessie Bolton does to help us with projects around the house, and we always appreciate him. He just finished another one that we really wanted to get done.

When we bought the house, the door in our guest bedroom had a hole in the back of it from the previous owners’ grandkids. We thought it wouldn’t be a big problem to replace it, but as it turns out, it was an oddball size and nobody had such a door in stock, and ordering one made to fit would cost a small fortune. That’s where Jesse comes into the picture.

I asked him if he knew of someplace where we could get a door and Jesse said there was no reason to waste time or money with that, he would just make one. And he got the materials and did! I’ve never known anybody who made a door from scratch before.

Jesse works full time and is always involved in projects for people, so it took a while for him to get it finished, but he did, and we couldn’t be happier. One of the problems he was running into was that he was working in his carport, and with the high humidity here in Florida, he couldn’t get the stain to dry. So he brought it over here and did the staining in our garage, which made it a lot easier.

Yesterday he hung the new door, which required power tools, so I was not allowed to get too close because Jesse needs all of his fingers and toes, and we all know what a klutz I am.

And here’s the finished product. It looks great and we really like it. Thanks, Jesse, you’re the man!

Last night we watched The Beguiled on Netflix. It’s a remake of the 1971 movie by the same name that starred Clint Eastwood. I have to say that 50 years between the two films did not do the audience any favors. That’s a waste of 90 minutes of our lives that we’ll never get back.

I told you in yesterday’s blog that Go Daddy had messed up our e-mail again, and after spending a couple of hours on the phone with them on Sunday, they promised me it would be up and running by midnight. But by noon yesterday it still wasn’t working, so after another hour wasted on the phone with Go Daddy’s tech support, I reached out to my tech guy, David Carr, and he managed to get things working again. However, any e-mails that might have been sent since Friday never showed up. So if you sent me something from midday Friday through yesterday afternoon, I’m sorry, but I didn’t get it.

Congratulations Karin Huth, winner of our drawing for an audiobook of Buck Fever, the first book in my friend Ben Rehder’s immensely popular Blanco County mystery series. If you’re not a fan of Ben’s books you have no idea what you are missing out on. Wacky characters, great humor, and superb writing. Give them a try. You won’t be disappointed. We had 42 entries this time around. Stay tuned, a new contest starts soon. Note: Due to the high shipping cost of printed books and Amazon restrictions on e-books to foreign countries, only entries with U.S. addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed.

Thought For The Day – If you can’t look back at your younger self and realize what a fool you were, you are probably still a fool.

I Snuck Out

 Posted by at 12:04 am  Nick's Blog
Jul 182021
 

While Terry was editing and proofreading another six chapters of my new Big Lake book, I snuck out for a while yesterday afternoon and went to the gun show at the Volusia County Fairgrounds in Deland.

I’ve owned more guns in my life than I could begin to count, but only once have I owned a Colt Single Action Army, better known as the Peacemaker. It was an old, worn-out .45 that a friend of my father’s gave me when I was 13 (it was a different world back then), and somewhere along the way I let it get away from me. Lately I’ve been thinking I wanted another one, and hoped I might find one at the gun show. I’ve seen collectors who have several for sale at some gun shows, but this time around, the only one in the entire show was a .45 that the seller said was made in 1921. It had cracked aftermarket grips, not much bluing left, and a lot of cylinder play. Frankly, it wasn’t much better than the one I had when I was a kid, and he wanted a lot more than I was willing to pay for it. I will keep looking.

When I got home, I spent a couple of hours on the phone with my old friends at Go Daddy. They have managed to screw up our e-mail again, and neither Terry nor I have been able to get any e-mail for the last several days. Apparently they were doing some kind of verification and sent an e-mail to an old AOL address we haven’t used in 20 years. The guy kept telling me that’s the contact e-mail address they have for me, and I pointed out that they have no problem sending me bills and renewal notices at my regular e-mail address, [email protected].

Supposedly that issue will be fixed sometime today, and since the only thing I still have on Go Daddy is my Bad Nick blog and our e-mail, I will be moving those someplace else as soon as possible. The dweeb I was talking to at GoDaddy seemed disappointed that I wasn’t interested in hearing his sales spiel about the great products and services they have available to me. It’s amazing that a company can let you down repeatedly and then not understand why you don’t want to continue to do business with them.

In other news, Marc and Julie Bennett, bestselling authors of the excellent Living the RV Life: Your Ultimate Guide to Life on the Road, have just released a great new book that every RVer will find invaluable, called RV Hacks, which has over 400 ideas to make living on the road safer and easier. Everything from tips on driving an RV to maintenance and repairs, campgrounds and boondocking, RV living, cooking, and RV storage tips, along with chapters on working and technology on the road, and ideas for RVing families and traveling with pets. I got excited just looking through the book because there were some ideas that I not only could have used in our RV when we were fulltiming, but some that will come in handy right here at home. Click this link to order your copy today. Marc and Julie put a lot of effort into this book, and the result shows 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. When my friend Diane Melde shared it with me, I told her I am always on the alert for those nasty critters.

Today is your last chance to enter our latest Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an audiobook of Buck Fever, the first book in my friend Ben Rehder’s immensely popular Blanco County mystery series. If you’re not a fan of Ben’s books you have no idea what you are missing out on. Wacky characters, great humor, and superb writing. Give them a try. You won’t be disappointed. 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 – Sometimes God sends an ex back into your life to see if you are still stupid.

Nothing Changes

 Posted by at 12:43 am  Nick's Blog
Jul 172021
 

When I wrote that I was ordering a new truck a while back, someone asked if I had considered the Ford Lightning, their new electric pickup. No, it wouldn’t meet my needs at this time. But it’s interesting seeing all of the feedback on electric cars on social media. I can’t count the number of posts that say you’ll have to have a tow truck come and pick up your electric car when the battery goes dead because there won’t be any place to charge it. Or that you can drive 200 miles or so and then you have to charge it for hours and hours if you can find a charging station.

In doing research for my Tinder Street historical family saga, I read a lot of old newspapers from back in the early 1900s, and one of the common thoughts about the new horseless carriage was what were you going to do when you ran out of fuel? You would have to have a team of horses to pull it back home. Many people were convinced it was a wild idea, nothing but a toy, a passing fancy. Guess what? Technology expanded to meet the need like it always does.

There was a time when people believed radios and televisions were gadgets that would never catch on, either. 25 years ago, many people in the newspaper industry would have never believed more people would be getting their news online than from a newspaper someday.

I remember during my Army days back in the early 1970s, stopping in a little secondhand store someplace in New York and coming across a bunch of photography magazines from the late 1940s or early 1950s, and reading articles about how color film was never going to be taken serious by real photographers and would soon fade away, just like the color prints would. When digital cameras were first introduced, many of my peers in the newspaper business loved the idea of being able to do away with film and darkrooms. But the naysayers among us scoffed and said the first time that digital image disappeared from the camera between the story and the newspaper office we would all regret it. When’s the last time you bought a roll of film and had it processed?

Nothing really changes, does it? I guess that’s just human nature. In researching my same Tinder Steet books, I read a lot of editorials and letters to the editor about how Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s crazy ideas for Social Security and universal health care were no more than socialism and would never work in America. Why, he would bankrupt the country!

There are parallels today with the COVID-19 vaccinations. In the early, and even into the mid-1900s, people resisted getting vaccinated for smallpox, even after the government-mandated it in the interest of public health. Nobody was going to tell them you had to let somebody stick a needle in their arm and put that poison in their bodies! Sound familiar? When’s the last time somebody you know had smallpox?

So laugh all you want at electric cars, and solar and wind technology. I won’t be here 25 years from now to say I told you so, but I did.

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

Be sure to enter our latest Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an audiobook of Buck Fever, the first book in my friend Ben Rehder’s immensely popular Blanco County mystery series. If you’re not a fan of Ben’s books you have no idea what you are missing out on. Wacky characters, great humor, and superb writing. Give them a try. You won’t be disappointed. 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 – Don’t expect me to stop if you’re broken down alongside the highway. Someone called and offered to extend your warranty several times.

Winnebago Factory Tour

 Posted by at 12:21 am  Nick's Blog
Jul 162021
 

Note: We were on the go all day yesterday grocery shopping and taking care of some things, so I didn’t have time to write a blog. So here is a re-post of a blog about our tour of the Winnebago factory in Forest City, Iowa from a few years ago.

Yesterday was a horrible day for me because I had to get up at 5 a.m. so we could be dressed, and have the motorhome ready to roll when the factory techs came to get it a 6 a.m. Anybody who knows me knows that I hate getting up early in the morning.

I do most of my writing at night and don’t post the blog until midnight. With the terrible internet connection we have on our Verizon air card here in Forest City, it took me well over an hour to get yesterday’s blog uploaded. (My desktop computer doesn’t have a WiFi card, and I have not loaded my blogging program on my laptop, so I couldn’t use Winnebago’s WiFi signal.) So by the time I got my shower and got into bed, I managed about four hours of sleep.

Now, I’d never be so bold as to tell anybody how to run their business, but I’m telling you something, the folks here at Winnebago are missing the boat on an opportunity to double or triple the revenue from their service department. All they have to do is rent cots or hammocks to those of us who have to be up so early to have our RVs worked on and I’m convinced their bottom line would skyrocket.

I tried to nap in the front seat of our van since the back end is filled with bikes, kayaks, and a few thousand copies of the Gypsy Journal, but that just wasn’t happening. You’d be surprised how rude people are when you knock on the door of their RV and ask if you can take a nap on their couch! Is that any way to treat a perfect stranger? (Okay, an imperfect stranger, in my case!).

We have toured several RV factories in our time, and since we now own a Winnebago Ultimate Advantage motorhome, and since we are here in Forest City, Iowa, the home of Winnebago Industries, it just seemed like a good thing to do yesterday while our motorhome was in the shop.

Plant Tour bus 2

First we looked at a small display on company history in the Visitor Center, including this vintage motorhome. It was one of the first Winnebago motorhomes to come off the assembly line.

Early motorhome

Then we boarded a bus for the factory tour. It was interesting to see how Winnebago makes Class A and C motorhomes, but, unfortunately, our tour guide wasn’t all that great. He was a nice guy, but he didn’t seem to grasp the concept of using a microphone and bullhorn. He kept letting the thing hang at his side instead of holding it up where the sound would project. If you were standing right next to him, you could hear what he was saying, but five feet away, you couldn’t.

Sprinter build

Winnebago was the first RV company to use an assembly line, which revolutionized the industry. They have it down to a science, and while other RV manufacturers have closed their doors in the last couple of years, Winnebago keeps right on chugging along. They have cut their workforce to deal with a lower volume of sales, but they are still producing top-quality motorhomes every day.

Factory floor

It is interesting to stand on the viewing platforms high above the factory floor and watch their skilled employees bring a raw frame in and turn it into a home on wheels.

Frame build 2

Class A build 3

Class A build 2

Today we have a bit of a reprieve, since they won’t be taking our coach into the shop until 7 a.m. What will I do to fill that empty hour in my life? Hmmm… snoring sounds like a good idea!

We are having quite a bit of work done, all the result of a lack of maintenance on the part of the former owner of our motorhome. The list includes new seals on both slide rooms, re-caulking the fiberglass roof, and new springs on all four of our HWH leveling jacks. It’s not going to be cheap, but we got the motorhome at such a good price, that we feel we still got a great deal.

The techs working on our coach say they hope to have the job done today, and if they do, we’ll be hitting the road Wednesday morning. If not, we’ll just hang out here at Camp Winnebago another day.

Be sure to enter our latest  Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an audiobook of Buck Fever, the first book in my friend Ben Rehder’s immensely popular Blanco County mystery series. If you’re not a fan of Ben’s books you have no idea what you are missing out on. Wacky characters, great humor, and superb writing. Give them a try. You won’t be disappointed. 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 – There is a difference between being broke and being poor.

I Make The  Rules

 Posted by at 12:42 am  Nick's Blog
Jul 152021
 

I really ticked off someone who is now a former blog reader because I deleted two comments he made in my post A Grim Reminder Of The Past about the Oregon Holocaust Memorial. I very seldom do that, but in this case, his comments were antisemitic and offensive, claiming that the Holocaust never happened and a lot of other crap that I won’t get into here.

He sent me a message asking what happened to his comments and I told him they were deleted. He didn’t appreciate that and said that I was denying him his freedom of speech. You bet your butt I am, because it’s my blog and I make the rules, and if your speech is vile garbage like that, it won’t get in my blog. I covered all that nonsense in a Newspaper Days blog about freedom of the press.

Of course, then he called me a &@$%& Nazi, which was ironic because in one of his blog comments he said that the Nazis were good people who had the right idea. I have absolutely no patience for morons like this, any more than I do those who claim the January 6th insurrection at the Capitol was a peaceful protest, that Covid-19 is a hoax, that the vaccines have microchips in them, or that the election was stolen. If you want to come here and start spouting that kind of stuff, put your tinfoil hat back on and go somewhere else.

In other news, if you’re looking for a good, quick read, my pal Valerie P. Chandler’s novella The Last Straw, about a biology teacher who believes in using science to make the world a better place by poisoning people is free today only on Amazon. Click this link and get your free copy. Oh, did I mention the copycat poisoner? You’re gonna like this one!

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. They’re talking about automobile body parts, right? Please tell me they are.

It’s Thursday, so it’s time for a new Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an audiobook of Buck Fever, the first book in my friend Ben Rehder’s immensely popular Blanco County mystery series. If you’re not a fan of Ben’s books you have no idea what you are missing out on. Wacky characters, great humor, and superb writing. Give them a try. You won’t be disappointed. 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 – Since light travels faster than sound, some people appear bright until you hear them speak.

A Correcting Day

 Posted by at 12:18 am  Nick's Blog
Jul 142021
 

In Monday’s blog I admitted to being a slacker because I had fallen a bit short of my 5,000 word writing goal for Sunday, and that I hoped to make up for it that day. I guess I did because I knocked out a little over 7,700 words in my new Big Lake book by the end of the day on Monday. Then I wrote my blog, which was somewhere around 500 words.

All of that writing means that a lot of correcting needs to be done, too, and yesterday was spent making corrections. The first thing I did was make the corrections that Roberta, my third proofreader, suggested for several chapters I had sent her a few days earlier.

With that out of the way, I then made corrections to another six chapters that Terry had edited and proofed, and when I was done with them I sent them off to Judy, my second proofreader.

But that didn’t mean my work was over for the day because I had several more chapters I had been working on while the previous ones had been going through the proofing stages. I started reading through those and making obvious changes that I could see. I should get that wrapped up today and print them out for Terry to do her thing.

You might think that with four sets of eyes proofreading each book they would be error-free by the time they got published. If you did, you would be thinking wrong. All of my proofreaders are very good but things still slip past. Not a lot, but in every book there are at least two or three things that sharp-eyed readers find and tell me about.

One reader who pointed out a mistake in my last book asked if that offended me. Not at all. I want my books to be as perfect as possible, and when I find out about a mistake I go in and correct it. As I told her, it’s kind of like having a piece of spinach between your teeth or something hanging out of your nose. Would you want to be told or would you want to walk around like that all day?

After reading Sunday’s blog, in which I posted pictures of several meals Terry has made lately, a longtime reader told me he had gained four pounds just looking at them and asked me to please not do that again. Sorry, but check out the spaghetti with homemade sauce and meatballs she made for dinner last night! Look all you want, then get on the treadmill and walk it off.

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 it’s going to be a bad day when your imaginary friend files a restraining order against you.

Jul 132021
 

On any day in Portland, Oregon’s lush Washington Park you will find people ignoring the often gray skies and drizzle so typical of the Pacific Northwest as they explore the park’s gardens, hiking trails, walking paths, playgrounds, and museums. It is a popular escape from the often busy big city life. But tucked away on the north end of the park is a grim reminder of the past.

The Oregon Holocaust Memorial honors the memory of the more than six million people who were killed during the Nazi horrors of World War Two. We mostly think of Jewish people when we think of the Holocaust, and while they made up the majority of the victims, gypsies, homosexuals, the mentally challenged and physically handicapped, and many others that did not fit into Adolf Hitler’s vision of what was acceptable perished along with them. Nobody really knows how many people died to satisfy the Nazi bloodlust. Some say it was three million and others more than eleven million. But even one person was too much.

Dedicated in 2004, the memorial is a place to come and ponder the atrocities that happened, to remember those who were stolen from us, and to vow that we never let something like that happen again.

A circular area covered in cobblestones simulates a typical European town square. It was to these town squares that frightened Jewish families were herded before being loaded into boxcars and taken to the concentration camps during the Holocaust. Around the square are scattered bronze shoes, a suitcase, eyeglasses, and other everyday items that were left behind because the Nazis knew their prisoners would not need them again.

A cobblestone walkway leads to striking black granite panels inscribed with a history of the Holocaust, along with quotes from those who survived the atrocities of that time. The back of the wall is engraved with the names of people who died in the camps, followed by the names of their surviving relatives in Oregon and Washington.

Buried below the panel are soil and ash from six different Holocaust concentration camps, including Auschwitz and Treblinka.
A reader once asked why I would go to a place like this, or the Holocaust museums in Washington, DC, and Richmond, Virginia, that are so sad and depressing. I said because they are so sad and depressing. People must never forget what happened during those terrible times.

Parking is limited in Washington Park and the cost is $2/hour to a maximum of $8/day. Visitors would be better off to take public transit to the park and then use the free Washington Park Shuttle within the park grounds, which operates seven days a week from April through October, and weekends from November through March.

Note: My thanks to my friend Aaron Borovoy for the photos used in this blog.

Thought For The Day – For the survivor it is clear: his duty is to bear witness for the dead and for the living. He has no right to deprive future generations of a past that belongs to our collective memory. To forget would be not only dangerous but offensive; to forget the dead would be akin to killing them a second time. – Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel

She’s Still Cooking

 Posted by at 12:24 am  Nick's Blog
Jul 122021
 

I didn’t quite make my goal of 5,000 words in my new book yesterday but I came close, somewhere around 4,250. I know, I’m such a slacker. Hopefully I can make up for that today.

Someone said it has been a while since I have shown any of Miss Terry’s kitchen creations in the blog and asked me if she’s on strike. Oh no, she is still cooking! If I go a day or two without writing, it feels like I’m suffering withdrawals, and I think it’s the same way with Terry in the kitchen. If we eat out a couple of days in a row, she can’t wait to get her pots and pans out and make something delicious. And Lord knows I’m not going to argue with her about it because I don’t think I’ve ever bought a meal anywhere that was as good as what she makes right here at home. Here are just a few of the goodies she put on the table lately.

I would say if I had to choose just one food in the whole world that I would never give up, it would be pizza. Especially Terry’s pizza. She makes the dough from scratch, lets it rise overnight, and sometimes for two days, and makes her own sauce, too. Take a look at this and tell me there’s a pizza parlor in the country that could top it.

Of course, sometimes I keep her busy proofing books, or she’s weaving or doing her own thing and doesn’t have quite as much time to cook. That’s when she says she’s just going to whip up something quick and easy. For many women that would be throwing a TV dinner in the oven or opening a box of Stouffer’s something or other. Not Terry. Check out this ham and cheese calzone she whipped up the other day! It was huge and delicious.

One of the great things about living close to the ocean is seafood, and we have some wonderful seafood restaurants in this area. But Terry shines with offerings from the ocean, too. Last week she made scallop linguine for dinner. And yes, it tasted even better than it looks.

Grits are a southern staple, so if you combine that with seafood, you come up with Terry’s shrimp and grits. Topped with bacon bits and a tasty sauce, all I can say is yummy.

I don’t have a picture of the delicious petite steaks she made last night because I was too busy eating to remember. But dessert was some of her oatmeal raisin pecan chocolate chip cookies, hot out of the oven and washed down with a glass of cold milk. As you can see, I’m not going to starve to death anytime soon.

If any of these recipes look good to you, or you want to find out about more of Terry’s amazing dishes, get yourself a copy of her cookbook, Miss Terry’s Kitchen. I promise you, the people who sit down at your table will be glad you did.

Congratulations Fred Croscut, winner of our drawing an audiobook of The Ghost from the Sea, book 8 in my pal Bobbi Holmes’ popular Haunting Danielle mystery series about an Oregon seaside bed and breakfast with a resident ghost of a previous owner who has been dead for almost ninety years. 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 to foreign countries, only entries with US addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed.

Thought For The Day – I grew up living paycheck to paycheck. But after a lifetime of hard work and perseverance, I now live direct deposit to direct deposit.

Jul 112021
 

When I was in college a journalism professor addressed the topic of media bias. He said that biased media is any media that disagrees with your point of view. Everyone had their own selective perspective, and if you disagree with them, you are obviously biased. A career in the small town newspaper business showed me that the man knew what he was talking about.

I don’t care whether you work for a nationally circulated media outlet with millions of viewers or readers, or a small town rag with a circulation of 3,500, sooner or later someone is going to accuse you of being biased. I considered it a point of honor that it happened to me on at least a monthly basis with the newspapers I published.

And you’d be surprised at some of the things that set people off. When I was publishing my newspaper in the White Mountains of Arizona, a high school principal was busted for facilitating drug sales from his office and displaying a large knife when a student refused to pay for some pot he had gotten a week earlier.

Now, you would think that this would put the whole community up in arms, wouldn’t you? Not if you’re in a small town dominated by one particular church, and the accused is a member of that church and very well plugged into the good old boy network. I was accused of yellow journalism, some businesses canceled their advertising because of my bias, and people canceled their subscriptions.

Of course, there were other community members that appreciated me bringing the story to light, and I picked up as many subscribers and advertising dollars as I lost, if not more. But there were businesses that had been steady advertisers who never spent another nickel with me in the years that followed.

Politics, even small town politics, will definitely get you accused of bias. And I’ll admit that sometimes my tendency to be outspoken may have teetered on that edge. For example, the time I suggested that all that the then city manager of Pinetop-Lakeside, Arizona needed to improve his attitude was two bran muffins and a strong cup of black coffee every morning. Can you believe some people didn’t appreciate me saying that?

But you know what? If you were to ask Miss Terry what first drew her interest to me, she would tell you that it was those same outspoken opinions. So biased or not, I guess that makes me the winner.

Just the other day someone told me that the national news media is biased in favor of the LBGQT community because they keep talking about the 49 victims of the Pulse Nightclub massacre here in Florida. He insisted that they should be saying 50 victims, since the shooter, Omar Mateen, was killed by police, which makes him a victim, too. No, that made him a scumbag who got what he had coming to him.

Oops, does that make me sound biased? Oh well, in the words of the great and powerful Popeye, I yam what I yam.

Today is your last chance to enter our Free Drawing for an audiobook of The Ghost from the Sea, book 8 in my pal Bobbi Holmes’ popular Haunting Danielle mystery series about an Oregon seaside bed and breakfast with a resident ghost of a previous owner who has been dead for almost ninety 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 to foreign countries, only entries with US addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed.

Thought For The Day – People today are drowning in information while starving for wisdom.

Port Townsend

 Posted by at 12:21 am  Nick's Blog
Jul 102021
 

Note: Here is another blog post from our days as fulltime RVers exploring the beautiful Pacific Northwest.

We spent yesterday exploring the picturesque and historic waterfront community of Port Townsend, Washington, at the very tip of the Olympic Peninsula. It’s one of our favorite towns in all of the Pacific Northwest.

Settled in 1851, Port Townsend was a busy seaport in the late 1800s, with over 1,000 tall ships calling every year, from around the world. The beautiful Victorian homes on the hilltop above the city, as well as the brick buildings in the charming downtown, are reminders of the days when ships put in here from every point on the compass. Today Port Townsend is a popular tourist destination and year round home to an eclectic population that includes affluent retirees, young professionals, fishermen, artists, and boat builders.

The town’s boatyards are busy all year, and the city marina is home to everything from small sailboats to luxury yachts, as well as a popular port of call for recreational boaters.

Boat yard

Docked sailboat

Port Townsend is home to the Wooden Boat Foundation, located at the Northwest Maritime Center, and people come here from around the world to learn how to build and restore wooden boats. The annual Wooden Boat Festival, which features more than 300 wooden vessels, dozens of nautical seminars and workshops, along with vendors, music, and entertainers.

 Boat frame

Wooden boat hull

Wooden boat in rack

We spent most of the afternoon exploring Water Street, the Main downtown street, which is lined with handsome old buildings that house restaurants, boutiques, galleries, and book shops. All of the shopkeepers are friendly and welcoming, and very helpful if you have any questions. Flowers seem to be everywhere, and many businesses have flower boxes or planters lining the sidewalk.

Corner building

Street scene

Flower boxes

Palace Hotel

The past is never far away here, and many of the old buildings downtown are still adorned with faded signs from bygone days, advertising everything from shoes to tobacco.

Boiler Room

Bull Durham sign

While many cities around the country demolished old buildings in the eternal quest for newer and better, in Port Townsend, they cherish and preserve these old icons that are the very soul of the community. The Hastings Building, built in 1889, is still owned by descendants of Loren B. and Lucinda Hastings, pioneers who came to Port Townsend in 1852 and built the elegant building, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, as are many of the town’s buildings.

Victorian hotel 2

Visitors to Port Townsend can enjoy a relaxed, laid-back day of shopping in the downtown area, touring the waterfront, boating, or hiking in nearby Olympic National Park. Back in town, after choosing a dinner that may range from a pizza or sandwich at a sidewalk cafe, to an elegant meal in one of the historic old hotels, they can retire to any of several bed and breakfasts, or stay at one of the local RV parks, including this one next to the marina, with a waterfront view.

Waterfront RV park 2

We have been to Port Townsend many times, staying at the  Escapees Evergreen Coho Co-op RV park in nearby Chimacum, or the Elks lodge campground just a few miles from downtown. We never get tired of this friendly town and look forward to our next visit. There is a lot left to see and do that we still have not gotten around to yet!

Be sure to enter our latest Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an audiobook of  The Ghost from the Sea, book 8 in my pal Bobbi Holmes’ popular Haunting Danielle mystery series about an Oregon seaside bed and breakfast with a resident ghost of a previous owner who has been dead for almost ninety 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 to foreign countries, only entries with US addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed.

Thought For The Day – If today is the first day of the rest of your life, what was yesterday?