Nick Russell

Only My Ego

 Posted by at 12:05 am  Nick's Blog
Mar 012021
 

After reading yesterday’s blog, titled Stuck On A Sandbar, a couple of readers wanted to know how our muscles felt after not kayaking for so long, especially after getting our second round of vaccine shots a week ago today. Someone also asked if I hurt myself falling on my butt a couple of times trying to get back in my kayak.

We were both aware of the fact that we had been using some muscles we had not used in a while, but as they say, it was a good hurt. Neither of us felt any difference in our arms at the injection sites. In fact, except for just a slight redness on my shoulder, I can’t even tell where mine was. As far as hurting myself falling on my rear end, the only thing I bruised was my ego. But that happens on a regular basis anyway, so it was no big deal.

In that blog post, I mentioned the fact that I’m not very good at backing up short trailers, although I do seem to be getting a little bit better at it. A couple of people have suggested mounting a trailer hitch on the front of the pickup, saying it’s much easier to launch and retrieve a boat that way. It’s something to consider. Then again, I could just practice and learn how to back up a trailer properly.

My 1999 Ford F-150 is a good truck, but it’s showing its age, and lately it feels like the transmission is beginning to slip just a bit. I need to take it down to Leon’s Automotive and have them go through it and see what issues it has.

Both the truck and our 2005 Ford Explorer (our daily driver) have served us well, and the Explorer has a lot more miles on it than the pickup, both in being driven and towed behind our motorhome. With both vehicles, we have asked ourselves several times when will we reached the point where they are not worth repairing? Replacing a transmission or something like that would probably cost as much as the vehicle is worth. I do have my Mustang, which after two and half years still has just 1,150 miles on, and we have Terry’s Pacifica, which is what we take on road trips.

We have talked about trading the two older vehicles in on a new pickup and making that our daily driver. My accountant keeps telling me I need to spend some money or else give it to the government in the form of taxes. So Saturday, I went to Mullinax Ford to look at F-150 pickups with the automatic backup assist Tow Technology package. That would sure make backing up a boat easier. Do any of you have that feature on one of your vehicles? If so, what do you think of it?

Mullinax didn’t have anything that met all my needs in stock or available anywhere in a four state region, and if I am going to buy anything new, I won’t compromise and take “almost” what I want, just like I wouldn’t on the Mustang. So if I want one, I’m going to have to order it.

But wait, there’s more! Terry and I both like the Ford Expeditions, and we have talked about replacing the Pacifica with one of them, and it seems that the Expeditions also have the same Tow Technology program. That’s something to think about, too. We haven’t made any decisions yet, and until I have Leon’s look at my F-150 and tell me what’s going on with it, we won’t. I guess only time will tell.

Congratulations Yvonne Rising, winner of our drawing for an RV camping journal donated by Barbara House. Barbara makes several variations of these, and they all have pages where you can list the date, weather, where you traveled to and from that day, beginning and ending mileage, campground information including amenities at RV sites, a place for campground reviews, room to record activities, people met along the way, reminders of places to see and things to do the next time you’re in the area, and a page for notes for each day. We had 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 – I made a huge To Do list for today. I just can’t figure out who’s going to do it.

Stuck On A Sandbar

 Posted by at 1:04 am  Nick's Blog
Feb 282021
 

Our neighbor Jesse Bolton came over the other day and reconfigured some of the changes he made to the kayak trailer, lowering the front bar so that the kayaks sit fairly flat and are easier to load back in from the water. So Friday, Miss Terry and I decided we should give it a try and get those kayaks wet.

Though I took an 18 wheeler driving course when I was in the Army, and learned to back up a big rig and trailer pretty easily, backing up a short trailer like the kayak or pontoon boat trailer is a lot different. I tend to oversteer, getting jackknifed more often than I go straight. But I took my time and managed to get the trailer backed down the boat ramp and into the water on the first attempt. I was pretty proud of myself for that, but then I always savor my small victories.

It sure was nice to feel the water under us once more. We paddled across the Intracoastal Waterway, a.k.a. the Indian River, and into the mouth of Jone’s Creek, under huge old trees dripping with Spanish moss.

The creek winds its way through some mangrove hammocks and opens out into Mosquito Lagoon. If you are unfamiliar with Mosquito Lagoon, it is one of the prime redfish fishing spots in the world. People come here from all over hoping to do battle with a trophy bull red. The Lagoon is also home to lots of other types of fish and an amazing amount of aquatic and bird life. Even if you’re not a fisherman it’s a magical place.

This area, both the Intracoastal and the Lagoon, are known as skinny water. There is a 15 to 20 foot deep channel that runs the length of the Intracoastal that will handle deepwater boats, but the rest of it is shallow. At high tide, maybe 3 to 4 feet in most areas, and at low tide there are many areas with just inches of water.

Our Old Town Predator kayaks will float in about 6 inches of water. I know, because Terry was in about 6 inches of water and doing just fine. I was maybe 30 feet away from her and found myself stuck on a sandbar in about 3 inches of water. I tried and tried to use my paddle to push myself off, splashing lots of water and mud onto the top of the kayak in the process, but it just wasn’t budging.

Terry seemed to enjoy the show quite a bit as she sat there watching me, and I know she was thinking to herself that her mother was right, she could have done a lot better than me.

Eventually, I realized I wasn’t going anywhere, so my choices were to sit and wait until high tide several hours later, or else get out and push the kayak over to deeper water. So that’s what I did.

It seemed like a good plan until I sunk ankle-deep into the muck. Have you ever tried to get your feet out of something that deep while trying to remain upright and hold onto a kayak? If you have, you know that you can get your foot out eventually, but your shoe is most likely going to stay where it was. Somehow, I did eventually managed to push the kayak into a little more water, but it was a long, laborious process. But wait, there’s more!

Have you ever tried to get back in a kayak when your feet are stuck ankle-deep in muck that doesn’t want to let go of you? I’m sure there are guys that could do that with a minimal amount of effort, and who might even make it look graceful. I’m not one of those guys. Have you ever seen a big harbor seal flopping around on a dock someplace? I’m not as graceful as one of those guys, either.

I’m not sure how many times I fell on my butt, but it was more than once. By then I’m pretty sure Terry was thinking she might just paddle on home and let nature take its course. And really, who could blame her?

Somehow or other I finally managed to get back into the kayak, with Terry holding down the other side so didn’t tip it over on top of me, and we decided to head back down Jones Creek and across the Intracoastal. I’m not sure all that extra dirt and mud on top of my kayak really slowed it down or if I was just really tired by then.

When we emerged on the far side of the creek we ran into another kayaker who was getting ready to do some fishing and chatted with him for a while. He lives up north and does a lot of fishing in Lake Erie, but said it’s a whole different ballgame down here. We let him go back to his fishing and we headed across the water.

Back on our side of the Intracoastal, we paddled down to a little canal that runs through our subdivision and on into it. During the winter the canal is home to a lot of manatee, sometimes as many of 30 of the gentle giants will gather there at one time. It’s starting to warm up though, and I think most of them have gone out into the ocean into deeper water. However, we did see a small manatee, and then a larger one not far past it. I don’t know if that was mama or not, but we did not want to hang around and disturb them too much, so we headed back to the dock.

I lucked out again backing the trailer down the ramp with no problems, we loaded the boats with minimal effort, and went home, where for the third time in a row, I managed to back into our driveway on the first attempt. Hey, am I getting better at this?

All told, we were on the water for about three hours, and loved every minute of it. Well, except for the time I spent being stuck on a sand bar. And stuck in the muck. And falling on my butt. Again and again. But it was still more fun than a lot of things I’ve done. We are already looking forward to getting back out again.

Today is your last chance to enter Free Drawing for an RV camping journal donated by Barbara House. Barbara makes several variations of these, and they all have pages where you can list the date, weather, where you traveled to and from that day, beginning and ending mileage, campground information including amenities at RV sites, a place for campground reviews, room to record activities, people met along the way, reminders of places to see and things to do the next time you’re in the area, and a page for notes for each day. To enter, click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name (first and last) in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn this evening. Note: Due to the high shipping cost of printed books and Amazon restrictions on e-books to foreign countries, only entries with U.S. addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed.

Thought For The Day – A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor.

My Biker Phase

 Posted by at 12:53 am  Nick's Blog
Feb 272021
 

My love affair with motorcycles started when I was a teenager. I bought my first bike, a 1967 Triumph Bonneville T120 with a 650cc engine, with money I earned mowing lawns and shoveling snow. A year or so later I bought a 750cc Norton Commando. I rode both of those motorcycles everywhere I could until my father caught me riding to high school on snow-covered roads one morning. After that, the bikes stayed in the garage and I drove my car until spring.

Over the years I’ve had all kinds of motorcycles, my last one being a beautiful Yamaha V Star 1100cc. It was probably the best motorcycle I ever owned, and I loved it. But after ten years of not riding, then switching to a much bigger bike than I was used to, and several million fools texting as they are driving down the highway, I decided that it was time to hang up the helmet.

But that last motorcycle did lead to some fun and games. This was during our fulltime RVing days, and we were going to spend a week or so in Quartzsite, Arizona, the Mecca for RVers every winter. Before going to Quartzsite, we stopped for a week or so to visit with some friends along the way. Among them were Smoky and Pam Ridgeley, and when Smoky saw the bike he said he had the perfect accessory for it. He went inside their fifth wheel and came back with a do rag decorated with big white stars, with long gray “hair” sewn inside it. When I saw that thing on, I just knew I was going to get some laughs out of it.

I can’t tell from this picture if Miss Terry is saying, “that’s the man I love” or “what the hell am I doing with this idiot?”

I started losing my hair when I was overseas in the Army, and anybody who knows me knows that I’m pretty much bald. At that time, we were carrying the motorcycle on a rack on the back of our MCI bus conversion, and before we pulled into a camping area in Quartzsite where a bunch of Escapees RV club members that we knew had gathered, I made a point of putting the do rag on. To say I got some odd looks from people we knew would be an understatement.

I wore the skullcap for the rest of that day, and while we were sitting around a fire ring with a bunch of people that evening, I overheard someone behind me saying, “What’s up with Nick? He bought a motorcycle, and he now thinks he’s a Hells Angel or something?”

I didn’t let on that I heard him, but the next morning I saw him walking his dog on a leash past our bus, and I went outside without the do rag to say good morning to him. He stopped and stared at me and asked, “Where’s your hair?” I told him that I had heard what he said the night before and that I didn’t realize I was making a spectacle of myself, so as soon as we got back to the bus, I had Terry cut it all off.

That poor guy started apologizing up, down, and sideways, saying he didn’t mean any offense, and I kept telling him no, he did me a favor. I didn’t want people laughing at me behind my back. That just made him apologize more, and I really felt sorry for him. But not sorry enough to let him off the hook.

I waited until later in the day when he was sitting on his lawn chair soaking up some sunshine, and I put the do rag back on and walked over to talk to him. He stared at me with a confused look on his face, and then it hit him, and he called me a few names that I would have taken offense to if we were drinking in a bar. Well, not in a biker bar, but you know what I mean. We all got a good laugh out of it, and that was pretty much the end of my biker phase. I gave the do rag back to Smoky, and just the other day, his wife Pam told me they still have it somewhere. I wish I had it, because I could still get some fun out of that thing.

Be sure to enter our latest Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an RV camping journal donated by Barbara House. Barbara makes several variations of these, and they all have pages where you can list the date, weather, where you traveled to and from that day, beginning and ending mileage, campground information including amenities at RV sites, a place for campground reviews, room to record activities, people met along the way, reminders of places to see and things to do the next time you’re in the area, and a page for notes for each day. To enter, click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name (first and last) in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn Sunday evening. Note: Due to the high shipping cost of printed books and Amazon restrictions on e-books to foreign countries, only entries with U.S. addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed.

Thought For The Day – If you have an issue, get a tissue.

Feb 262021
 

As I recall, I was somewhere around 27 or 28 years old when I started my first weekly newspaper. It was quite an experience, and I learned a lot about the newspaper business and business in general, in a relatively short time.

I was always fascinated by how successful business owners advertised. I learned fairly quickly that there are a couple of different types of advertising in print media. One type of ads are from the big guys, the car dealers and grocery stores who ran full-page ads, and sometimes more than one, that changed every week with the latest specials or new arrivals. Those ads sold for a lot of money, and there was a certain amount of work involved in putting them together because they did change every week. Our production department was kept busy typesetting and laying out the new ads, then giving them to the salespeople to take back to the business to approve or make any last-minute changes before publication.

The other type of common newspaper advertising is what I came to call institutional advertising. This is basically a smaller ad that runs week after week and never really changes. This might be something as small as a business card or as large as ¼ page, and might not have more than just the name of the business, their address and phone number, and a slogan about what they do. These types of ads were always popular with service businesses like plumbers, auto repair shops, towing companies, and the like. And many retail businesses also ran the same type of ads that seldom changed.

The newspaper doesn’t make as much money from those smaller ads every week, but they are the bread-and-butter that keeps you afloat because they appear in every issue, so a salesperson doesn’t have to call on them week after week, and because they seldom if ever change, the production department puts them together once and that’s it. I always said that I would rather have 20 customers who ran a business card sized ad week after week than one car dealer that bought a full-page ad. If you lose that big guy, you take a big hit to the pocketbook, but the smaller customers stay with you forever, and if one does go away, it doesn’t affect your budget that much.

One advertiser I had was a pet shop. He ran the same 1/8 page ad with me week after week for years. And all the ad said was, “Bring this coupon in for a free goldfish” along with the shop’s name, address, and phone number. When I first started the newspaper, I could not understand why the shop’s owner would spend money on an ad giving away free goldfish every week. That didn’t make any sense to me at all.

One day I asked him why he did it, when goldfish sold for 25¢, as I recall. He told me it was no big deal, it was something a lot of pet shops did, and the goldfish only cost him a nickel apiece. Still, he probably gave away a hundred fish every week, so that was $25 he was giving away, not counting the cost of the newspaper ad.

I asked why he would do that, and he laughed and said, “Kid, those free goldfish pay the rent on this place. Think about it. Mom and dad bring their kid in all excited, and I give him or her a free goldfish in a bag full of water to take home. What are they going to do with that goldfish? They can’t keep it in a bag forever. So they buy a fishbowl for five dollars, and then they need some gravel to put in the bottom of it, and that’s a dollar. And you just know they’re gonna want a little pirate ship or something to stick in the bottom, and that’s two or three dollars. And that darn fish has got to eat, and I sell fish food, too. That’s another buck in my pocket. So they came in to get a free goldfish and spent $10. Hey Nick, you want a free goldfish?”

No, I didn’t take him up on his offer of a goldfish, but I walked out of there with a little more knowledge about ways to advertise.

Be sure to enter our latest Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an RV camping journal donated by Barbara House. Barbara makes several variations of these, and they all have pages where you can list the date, weather, where you traveled to and from that day, beginning and ending mileage, campground information including amenities at RV sites, a place for campground reviews, room to record activities, people met along the way, reminders of places to see and things to do the next time you’re in the area, and a page for notes for each day. To enter, click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name (first and last) in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn Sunday evening. Note: Due to the high shipping cost of printed books and Amazon restrictions on e-books to foreign countries, only entries with U.S. addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed.


Thought For The Day – Do I get bonus points if I act like I care?

Feb 252021
 

In yesterday’s blog, titled The Day After, I said that except for a large red welt on my arm at the injection site and Terry having some joint aches, we really didn’t have any negative side effects from our second round of Moderna Covid-19 vaccinations. There is a possibility I may have spoken too soon about that.

By the time I went to bed Tuesday night, the welt on my shoulder was about the size of a lemon if you cut it in half, and hot and hard to the touch. But it really didn’t hurt much at all. However, about 3:30 in the morning, I woke up with my teeth chattering, covered in goosebumps, and shivering terribly. I also had a splitting headache. That’s what usually happens to me when I’m coming down with the flu. I seldom sleep with even the sheet on me, but I pulled the sheet and comforter both up and snuggled up to Terry, seeking her body heat. That continued for about three hours, and once it subsided, I felt okay.

I had a low-grade headache during the day yesterday, but I actually had to think about it to realize it was there. Terry still had the same body aches, nothing severe, but enough to let her know that the vaccine is inside her system and doing its job. Let me emphasize that none of this was debilitating, and we would still get the shots in a heartbeat if we had to do it all over again.

After a delicious breakfast of Terry’s banana pecan pancakes, we spent a lot of time yesterday going over paperwork and getting everything organized to take to our accountant this afternoon. It is that time of year, you know.

I also got some writing done in the last couple days, and I’m several thousand words into my new Tinder Street book. Things are rolling right along back there in the Roaring 20s.

After a few days of comfortable temperatures, the weatherman says it’s going to start heating up again and be back in the mid to upper 80s before we know it. I’d much rather stay in that sweet spot between about 72 and 80, with relatively low humidity. Of course, here on the Central Florida Coast, “relatively low” means any kind of humidity below about 60%.

It’s Thursday, so it’s time for a new Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an RV camping journal donated by Barbara House. Barbara makes several variations of these, and they all have pages where you can list the date, weather, where you traveled to and from that day, beginning and ending mileage, campground information including amenities at RV sites, a place for campground reviews, room to record activities, people met along the way, reminders of places to see and things to do the next time you’re in the area, and a page for notes for each day. To enter, click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name (first and last) in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn Sunday evening. Note: Due to the high shipping cost of printed books and Amazon restrictions on e-books to foreign countries, only entries with U.S. addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed.

Thought For The Day – No matter how much you push the envelope, it will still be stationery.

The Day After

 Posted by at 12:05 am  Nick's Blog
Feb 242021
 

I’m writing this blog early, actually about 4:30 PM, which makes it about 25 hours after we got our second Moderna Covid-19 vaccinations Monday afternoon at the Volusia County Fairgrounds. Several friends have asked if we had any bad reactions to the shots.

We have had a few side effects but nothing to fret about and nothing at all unexpected. For much of the day, Terry has been feeling a bit achy in her joints, but nothing that would make her want to go to bed. Of course, it’s very seldom that she takes a nap in the middle of the day anyway.

As for me, except for a large red welt on my arm at the injection site, which is tender to the touch and itches a bit, all is well. And this isn’t nearly as bad as the couple of times I’ve been bitten by fire ants.

So overall, if things stay this way, we can both count it as a good experience. I did take a couple of Tylenol about 2 AM before going to bed, but only because my back was hurting. It had nothing to do with a reaction to the vaccinations. And while Terry finds it difficult to take a nap, I have it down to a science that only requires one step. All I have to do is sit down in my recliner and I’m gone.

Our friend Jim also got his second shot yesterday at the VA clinic in Daytona Beach. Jim said yesterday that he felt a bit tired but had no other reaction to the vaccine.

And while we are doing fine, I have to admit that I am a bit worried about my neighbor Chris across the street. Chris is a good guy, and he recently married a wonderful lady named Rhonda. I don’t know Rhonda all that well, but I don’t think she’s a woman who suffers fools lightly, which is why everybody was surprised when she agreed to marry Chris in the first place. (Personally, I think alcohol was involved.) So you can understand my concern when this truck with a giant wood chipper pulled up in front of their place yesterday, and three guys went to work. It’s probably my wild imagination, being a fiction writer and all that, but just in case I am right, I might mention to Rhonda that I’m in the market for a motorcycle, and I’ve always liked that Harley that Chris has (or had).

On another topic, my latest book, Fresh Out Of Mojo, is doing well on Amazon, with over a dozen reviews, most of them five stars. Check it out, but be aware that is strong language and violence, which is part of the world the characters in the story live in.

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. You just know there are people who would be doing this, right?

Thought For The Day – Ladies, good men do exist. We’re just ugly.

Stab And Go

 Posted by at 12:32 am  Nick's Blog
Feb 232021
 

No, that’s not the name of an all-night convenience store in the bad part of town. It was just our experience getting our second round of Moderna Covid-19 vaccinations yesterday afternoon.

Okay, I made up the stabbing part. It was more of a jab. Okay, I made that up, too. The reality is that with both the first shot four weeks ago and the second shot yesterday, I never felt the needle. The lady giving us our shots both times was very good at what she did.

And just like our first experience, it was a quick in and out process. We arrived at the Volusia County Fairgrounds at three minutes before our time slot of 3 – 4 PM and stopped to be directed which line to go to. They had three different vaccination events going on at once, people who were coming in by appointment for their first shots, people whose appointments had been rescheduled because of earlier shortages, and folks like us who were getting our second round.

We followed the car in front of us, filled out some paperwork and signed consent forms at the next checkpoint, followed the same car a little further, and stopped again to make sure that our shot records were up-to-date from the first vaccinations. Then we pulled up to one of the tents where they were administering the shots. A very nice young lady checked our paperwork one last time, then gave us our shots. Like last time, we never had to get out of the Pacifica.

After you get the shot, they want you to wait for 15 minutes before you leave, just in case there are any side effects. We were directed where to park, waited the required time, and left. All in all, the whole process took 42 minutes from the time we pulled into the fairgrounds until the time we pulled out, which is about the same amount of time it took the first time around.

I know getting an appointment has been very difficult for some people, and we feel very fortunate to have been able to book them on our first attempt, and we are impressed with the way the people at the fairgrounds handle things. Everyone was very friendly and easygoing.

As for side effects, there was nothing with the first shots, and this time we both have a very slight discomfort around the inoculation site, but nothing to complain about. We have been told that sometime today, we might start to feel some other effects with the second round, and if that happens we are prepared for it.

When I said in yesterday’s blog that we had pain medicines if needed, several people wrote to tell me that the CDC is telling people not to take any type of pain relievers for the first few hours after their shots. The people at the fairgrounds also said if we did need something, to take Tylenol (acetaminophen). But we have not needed anything so far, so here’s hoping it stays that way.

Today is going to be a spectacular day, about 75° and lots of sunshine. In other words, a great day to get out of the house and out on the water. But that all depends on how we both feel.

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 – There is no problem a total lack of response will not eventually resolve.

Today’s The Day!

 Posted by at 12:36 am  Nick's Blog
Feb 222021
 

This is a red-letter day for us because it’s the day that Terry and I get our second Moderna COVID-19 vaccinations. We have been looking forward to this for a long time, and though, as I’ve said before, we will continue to wear a mask and practice social distancing, we feel like a large weight is going to be lifted off of our shoulders. Now, if we could just get the rest of the country vaccinated, young and old.

Of course part of that will be convincing a lot of people to get the shots. It saddens me to know that so many people are so foolish that they would not. Trust me, Bill Gates is not going to put a microchip in you. You already carry a telephone around in your back pocket that tells him and anybody else in the world that wants to know everything about you. Take your tinfoil hat off, roll up your sleeve, and we might all see some daylight at the end of this long, dark tunnel.

We didn’t really feel any bad effects after our first vaccinations, and we are hoping for the same this time around. However, we are aware that many people do experience achiness, fatigue, and other flulike symptoms for a day or two after the second shot. That’s fine, we’ve got Tylenol, and when we get home, Terry has some delicious homemade chicken noodle soup waiting for us.

I spent most of yesterday working on Boom And Bust, the third book in my Tinder Street series. I have only got about 5,500 words in so far, but it’s nice to get back to the McNally, Morgan, and Wirtz families. They have some good days and, unfortunately, some bleak ones as well in store for them.

After a delicious dinner of Terry’s beer battered cod, we spent the evening relaxing and watching TV. Sunday nights mean another episode of All Creatures Great And Small, based on the wonderful books by veterinarian James Harriet in 1930s Yorkshire. Last night was the season finale, and we will be looking forward to its return.

Another British show we have gotten hooked on, and have been binge watching earlier episodes of on Netflix, is Last Tango In Halifax. Current episodes are also on Masterpiece Theatre on PBS. It’s a romantic comedy about two 70-something widowed people who were sweet on each other as teenagers and reunite and fall in love all over again.

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

Congratulations Beckie Dobbins, winner of our drawing for a copy of The Trench Coat Chronicles, a short story anthology from several top-notch authors, with a blend of mystery and whimsy, along with characters from detectives, villains, and spies to flashers and femme fatales you will enjoy getting to know. We had 64 entries this time around. Stay tuned, a new contest starts soon.

Thought For The Day – When you have a hammer in your hand, everything around you starts looking like a nail.

Feb 212021
 

We took the kayaks down to our boat launch to try out the new trailer configuration yesterday. The results were good, even very good, but not great. Not yet, anyway. Launching them was a piece of cake, especially since Jesse backed the trailer down the ramp. I really have to work on my backing-up skills.

It was a windy day, which suited me just fine because we did not plan to do any paddling, we just wanted to see how well things worked for launching and reloading and if the wind added a shade of difficulty, even better.

As I said, getting the boats into the water was easy. Getting them back onto the trailer was not a big deal either, except that we quickly learned that pulling their bows up onto the T-Bone did not work as planned. They wanted to go under the crossbar, so we still had to lift them up onto it. The solution to that is to remove the curved part of the T-bone and just use the crossbar flat so the boats will sit flat on the trailer. That should be an easy fix. Otherwise, I like it!

So far, over 50 veterans have requested and been sent a copy of our free guide to Overnight Parking With The VFW. If you want one, just send me an email at [email protected]. As I said in the question-and-answer post on Thursday, we have not updated the guide in a long time now that we are no longer RVing, so I cannot guarantee how current information is. A few people who are not VFW members but are veterans have asked for a copy of the guide as well, and I sent it to them with a note that it’s up to the individual VFW posts whether or not they will let a nonmember stay there. All you can do is ask.

Speaking of the different guides we used to publish when we were fulltime RVers, my friend Judy Rinehimer, who helps proof all my books, is also a former RV who will be doing her traveling by car in the future. She asked me what hotel chains we stayed in, and I replied that for the most part, we stay at Hampton Inns. They are clean, comfortable, moderately priced, you get a free breakfast, and we’ve only had a bad experience in one of them. I have been compiling a list for my own reference of the places we like and don’t like when we travel, and I sent it to Judy yesterday. Hopefully, it will help her plan some future trips.

I heard from a long-time blog reader and RVing friend who lives in Texas and spends several months a year traveling. He said they have been without power for a couple of days now, and he told his wife he wished they could get in the motorhome and come to Florida and visit with us and warm up in the process. He said they both looked at each other for a long moment and got this weird look on both of their faces before his wife asked, “Why the hell are we wearing two layers of clothes sitting here freezing in the house with no heat or power when we have a motorhome out there with two furnaces, a generator, and a full tank of diesel?” He said they are now snug in their RV parked in the driveway, waiting for things to get back to normal. Sometimes we miss the simplest solutions to our problems, don’t we?

Meanwhile, if the weather is keeping you inside and you need something good to read, my dear friend Mona Ingram has just released After All, the fourth book in her popular Willow Bend Romance series. Mona has a strong following of dedicated readers, and once you read one of her books, I think you will become one of them.

Today is your last chance to enter our Free Drawing for a printed copy of The Trench Coat Chronicles, a short story anthology from several top-notch authors, with a blend of mystery and whimsy, along with characters from detectives, villans, and spies to flashers and femme fatales that you will enjoy getting to know.

To enter, click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name (first and last) in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn this evening. Note: Due to high the 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 – Doing nothing is hard because you never know when you’re done.

 

Feb 202021
 

Miss Terry and I love our Old Town Predator kayaks. While they are not the fastest kayaks on the water, they are strong and stable, and easy to maneuver. When we bought the kayaks, we also bought a Boonedox T-Bone Bed Extender to make it easier to carry them in the back of our short-bed Ford F-150 pickup. That has not worked out as well as we expected.

The kayaks weigh close to 90 pounds each, and lifting their bows high enough to slide it into the back of the pickup is hard on our bodies. But we just wrapped up a new project that should make life easier.

When I bought our third Old Town kayak, a Predator PDL, from a friend, it came with a trailer that he and I modified a bit to fit the kayak when he first bought it. It’s great for launching one kayak at a time, but we wanted to figure out a way to carry two at once.

I asked our neighbor Jesse Bolton for suggestions on how we might modify the trailer to carry two kayaks, and he came up with a couple of good ones. Jesse is one of those guys who can fix or build just about anything, and he brought home a square frame made of pipe used for a chainlink fence, cut it into two L shapes, and mounted them across the back of the kayak trailer. He also installed uprights to help keep the kayaks in place when loading them in the wind or in a current.

Then Jesse attached a reducer sleeve to the tongue of the trailer to hold the T-Bone. If the height of the T-Bone presents a problem, we can reconfigure things to just use its horizontal bar. And everything is bolted together, so if I never need to return the trailer to its original configuration, it will only take a few minutes.

In theory, we should be able to float both kayaks onto the trailer and, using a common tether attached to the front of each kayak, pull them onto the T-Bone with the trailer’s winch, and secure them with hold-down straps front and rear, and be ready to go. When launching, we should be able to back down our boat ramp and reverse the process. Easy peasy! If it works.

As we used to say in the Army, you can plan everything to the smallest detail, but it can all change the minute you put boots on the ground. There will be a water test soon to find out. Stay tuned.

Be sure to enter our latest Free Drawing. This week’s prize is a printed copy of The Trench Coat Chronicles, a short story anthology from several top-notch authors, with a blend of mystery and whimsy, along with characters from detectives, villans, and spies to flashers and femme fatales that you will enjoy getting to know.

To enter, click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name (first and last) in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn Sunday evening. Note: Due to high the 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 – The apology may not be extinct, but it is high on the endangered species list.

February Q&A

 Posted by at 12:05 am  Nick's Blog
Feb 192021
 

I’m back with more questions from blog readers about RVing, 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. We are stuck in Oklahoma working traveling nurse jobs and freezing our butts off. Our RV has two furnaces and they seem to blow more hot air outside than in here. I seem to recall way back that you had some kind of portable propane heater in your bus conversion. What was it? And how do we safely use one in an RV?

A. It was an Olympian catalytic heater, and it was so efficient that we never used our furnace after we installed it. We always kept a roof vent and a window open an inch or so for ventilation and for the convection effect and stayed toasty warm even in places where the overnight temperature was in the single digits.

Q. I think you said you and Terry had your COVID-19 vaccines a while back. Have either of you had any problems from them?

A. We received our first round of the Moderna vaccine on January 25, and yesterday I received an e-mail confirmation that our second vaccine will be as originally scheduled for this coming Monday. I was glad to get that because many are being rescheduled due to weather and supply problems. We had no problems from the first shots and have been told we may experience a slight fever, body aches, and fatigue for a day or two after the second ones. That’s a small price to pay to have protection against the virus.

Q. At one time, you published a guide to VFW posts with RV parking for members. Do you still have it available, and how much is the cost? I want to order two of them.

A. Now that we are no longer RVing, I have not updated any of our guides in a long time. But I will be happy to send a copy of the e-book to any VFW member who wants one at no charge. Just send me an e-mail at [email protected]

Q. After reading your blog post yesterday about ordering stuff from Amazon, I guess you don’t get the “buy local” concept, do you?

A. We do buy local when we can, but there is also a concept called “keep your butt home to avoid exposure to COVID-19.” We adhere to that as much as possible.

Q. We found a motorhome listed on Craigslist here in Spokane that seems to be right up our ally. However we suspect it is some kind of a scam. The seller e-mailed to say he is in the Army serving overseas and is selling it for his widowed aunt. He said he has a friend from out of town (Seattle) who will meet us to see the RV. The selling price is half of what it should be because he has to get it sold in a hurry. The “friend” contacted us and both of their English in their e-mails is super bad. The friend wants us to wire him $200 as a refundable “good faith” deposit before he drives all the way over here, just to be sure we will show up. My husband asked where the motorhome is so we could drive by and look at it, and the seller says it is in a secret location because of his classified job in the Army, and that the friend will meet us at a mall parking lot to see it. Yes, I know, red flags everywhere. But if it really is a legitimate deal, we could save a fortune. We always value your advice, Nick. Should we walk away?

A. No, don’t be foolish and walk away from a deal like this. Be smart and RUN AWAY as fast as you can! You see the red flags, now heed them. There is no way this will turn out well.

Q. I just finished Fresh Out Of Mojo and I have to tell you that I think it’s your best book in the John Lee series yet, Nick. Are John Lee and Maddy ever going to get married?

A. I have no idea what any of those people plan to do from one book to the next. I just write down what they tell me to.

Be sure to enter our latest Free Drawing. This week’s prize is a printed copy of The Trench Coat Chronicles, a short story anthology from several top-notch authors, with a blend of mystery and whimsy, along with characters from detectives, villans, and spies to flashers and femme fatales that you will enjoy getting to know.

To enter, click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name (first and last) in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn Sunday evening. Note: Due to high the 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 chicken crossing the road is poultry in motion.

Flitz To The Rescue

 Posted by at 12:36 am  Nick's Blog
Feb 182021
 

A lot of you who have been reading my blog for a while know that I am a gun guy, and I have several. Since moving to Florida it’s been hard to find a convenient place to shoot, except for some private gun clubs whose annual membership dues are more than I can justify or some indoor ranges in the Daytona Beach area. But Covid 19 has pretty much put a stop to anything like that for me for the last year.

Before things got so crazy, I purchased a new 10th Anniversary Edition Taurus Judge. The Judge is a hand cannon that fires either 410 shotgun shells or .45 Colt cartridges. Loaded with five rounds of Hornaday Critical Defense ammunition, each round containing two 35 caliber round balls topped with one non-jacketed slug, it is the perfect home defense handgun.

I still have not fired the gun, but a while back when I was looking at it, I noticed several spots that appeared to be rust forming on the barrel. Because I maintain my firearms very well, I wasn’t sure what was causing this. I asked about it in an online forum for Taurus Judge owners and what would be the best way to clean it up.

According to several people in the online group, the satin finish that Taurus put on these special edition handguns has not been all that great. Someone in the group recommended Flitz polishing solution and a Flitz microfiber polishing cloth, so Terry ordered them for me.

They arrived yesterday, and I was surprised how quickly and easily it removed the spots and made the gun look like new again.

While she was online ordering the Flitz stuff for me, Terry also ordered two more telescopic support rods for the cover on our pontoon boat to help keep the water running off of it instead of pooling on the canvas in heavy rain.

She also ordered some 303 Marine Fabric Guard, and we plan to clean the cover and then treat it to protect it from the sun’s ultraviolet rays. We have used 303 products on everything from our RV slideout seals to our kayaks for a long time and have always been very happy with everything they make.

It’s Thursday, so it’s time for a new Free Drawing. This week’s prize is a printed copy of The Trench Coat Chronicles, a short story anthology from several top-notch authors, with a blend of mystery and whimsy, along with characters from detectives, villans, and spies to flashers and femme fatales you will enjoy getting to know.

To enter, click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name (first and last) in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn Sunday evening. Note: Due to high the 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 hold the U.S. indoor record for waiting in the house until my neighbors go back inside.

I Have Proof!

 Posted by at 12:24 am  Nick's Blog
Feb 172021
 

There is an old saying, well at least as old as the Internet, that if you don’t have pictures it didn’t happen. When a guy brags about a fish he caught, a deer he shot, a woman he met, or a classic car he had, people say if they can’t prove it with a picture, it never happened.

In yesterday’s blog, I talked about the delicious Texas sheet cake that Miss Terry made me for Valentine’s Day and about the amazing deep dish pizza she made. I didn’t include pictures, so a couple of people told me it must not have happened

Yes, it did, and I have proof!

Here’s the sheet cake, and as good as it looks, it doesn’t come close to the reality of how good it tasted. Moist chocolate, nuts, and frosting enough to tweak my blood sugar level up at least 10 points. And guess what? I don’t care, because it was worth it!

What about the deep dish pizza? Feast your eyes on this, ladies and gentlemen. It was too much for one meal, so the rest of it got finished off last night.

As I have shared with you before, Terry also makes delicious regular crust the pizza. She asked me which I preferred more, and that’s like asking which one of my kids I like more. They are both absolutely wonderful. And to be honest, the kids aren’t that bad, either. So I guess sometimes we’ll be having deep dish pizza, and other times we will be having regular pizza, and I get to make the decision as to which one it will be. There is a lot of responsibility on my shoulders, folks.

Speaking of yesterday’s blog, in which I shared some of my son’s light paintings, Travis was very moved by all your kind comments in the blog. I also shared the e-mails that many of you sent me with him. He said it was a real ego boost.

Don’t despair about the cake and pizza, I do more than just eat. On Monday, I took a friend to the hospital for a colonoscopy. If you’ve never had this procedure done, trust me when I say that it’s a lot more fun to take somebody to the hospital to have one than to be the one getting the procedure done yourself.

Yesterday we had to go down to Titusville for an appointment with Terry’s eye doctor, and when we got back to town, we stopped at Publix supermarket to pick up some things. We really didn’t have to go for another week or so since we stocked up heavily on our last visit, but there were a couple of things we did need and decided to take care of all of them while we are out.

I’ve also been going through all of the notes I have assembled for my next book, Boom and Bust, which will be the third book in the Tinder Street series. I’m constantly making notes about story ideas, filing away little bits of information and trivia, and then go over them all before I start writing so I have everything handy and in the proper places. For example, I would not want to write about a dial telephone before they were common or a news story that wasn’t appropriate to the time and place. I will probably start writing the new book today or tomorrow.

Somebody also asked what Terry was going to put on the new shelves I told you about last week. Here they are, one filled with yarn and the other holding some keepsake figurines our daughter Tiffany sent her, and a picture of Terry’s mother.

There’s not a whole lot else on the agenda at this point, but if we get a decent day I do plan to get out on the water. Time keeps slipping away, and pretty soon it will start being too hot again. And next Monday, Terry and I will be getting our second round of Moderna Covid-19 vaccinations. We know that that doesn’t mean we can run around pretending everything is perfect again and pick up where life was a year ago, but it does mean we will have taken a giant step in the right direction.

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 just seems so wrong in so many ways.

Thought For The Day – Poor people are often generous because they know what it’s like to have nothing.

Light Painting

 Posted by at 12:04 am  Nick's Blog
Feb 162021
 

After reading yesterday’s blog titled That Could Have Gone Bad, several readers have asked me what light painting is. To be honest, I don’t know enough about it to explain it well, except to say that it is a form of abstract photography that involves keeping a camera shutter open and moving light(s) to create an image. Here is a Wikipedia article on light painting that explains it better than I ever could.

And here are several examples of it that my son Travis has done. The pretty lady in this first one is his wife, Geli, who is a work of art herself.

I really like the spheres, both in color and black-and-white.

Here are some other examples of his work.

I got some feedback on yesterday’s blog from people saying that there is no way they would have been that cooperative with the police showing up at their home in the middle of the night like that, and that Travis did not have to show them any identification or make any explanation for what he was doing.

Why in the world not? Forget that nonsense about freedom and independence and yada yada yada. My kids were taught to respect law enforcement, and there was no reason not to cooperate with them. What if there had been a burglar or vandals at his house? Someone else said there was no reason for the police to have their hands on their guns or for one of them to have his weapon out. I am sure none of these people have ever ridden a shift with a police officer and don’t know what the hell they’re talking about. A cop never knows during a traffic stop or on any routine call they get who they’re going to be encountering and what their motivations might be. Travis had no problem with what happened, and neither do I.

In other news, besides her amazing skills with her looms, we all know that Miss Terry is also an artist in the kitchen. She made me a delicious Texas sheet cake for Valentine’s Day, and last night she made deep dish pizza for dinner. And all from scratch, of course. I have to admit that as much as I like my son’s artwork, I like Terry’s even better. I’m a big fan of art that you can eat.

Thought For The Day – At every moment of our lives we all have one foot in a fairy tale and the other in the abyss.

Feb 152021
 

My son had an incident Saturday night that could have gone bad but fortunately did not, because everyone involved kept their cool. He is an amazing photographer, and one thing he is doing a lot of is something called light painting, where you turn off all the lights, or go out on a dark night, open the camera’s shutter for a long exposure, and use different colored lights to create patterns.

He was doing this at home sometime after midnight, and all of a sudden, he saw flashlights shining through the windows and looked out to see police officers. One of them pounded on the front door and told him to open the door, and Travis told him that the door was blocked by the couch, they would have to come to the back door, which is the one they normally use. He quickly turned on all the lights and went to the door, keeping his hands empty and raised high.

My son is a very gentle person, and though he is in his 40s, he kisses my cheek every time we get together. However, he looks like a badass biker with a shaved head, beard, and tattoos, so he knows that his appearance alone might make some people uncomfortable.

One officer had his gun drawn but held down low, and the others had their hands on their weapons. Apparently someone had seen lights moving inside the dark house and reported it as a possible burglary. Travis kept his hands high, identified himself, and explained what he was doing. When they asked if they could come in the house, he said he preferred not because of COVID, but he opened the door wide so they could see his camera set-up and then asked if it was okay if he got his ID and phone so they could see some of his work.

One officer stood in the doorway, his weapon pointed down, while Travis retrieved them from the kitchen counter. Once he showed them his license with that address on it, and pictures on his phone of the art he creates, everyone relaxed. They apologized for bothering him and thanked him for his courtesy and the way he presented himself to them. He, in turn, thanked them for the job they are doing, and everything turned out fine. I taught both of my kids from a young age how to cooperate with police if they are ever stopped, and explained to them that you could be a great person or a bad guy, but the officer has no way of knowing that until you show them by your actions and attitude.

Congratulations Carl Swanson, winner of our drawing for an audiobook of Pirate Trials: Dastardly Deeds & Last Words, the first book in my friend Ken Rossignol’s Pirate Trials series. We had 19 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 – Constantly choosing the lesser of two evils is still choosing evil.

Green Thumb Girl

 Posted by at 12:09 am  Nick's Blog
Feb 142021
 

Quite a few readers have asked how things are going with Terry’s AeroGarden, as well as the citrus trees and perennial peanuts we planted in our yard. Overall, things have been successful, though there have been a couple of setbacks.

A week or so ago, we had a cold snap come through Central Florida, with temps down into the low 30s. That seems to have killed off quite a few of our perennial peanut plants or at least set them back quite a bit. I know they go dormant in wintertime, but the strange thing is that the ones at the west end of the strip where we planted them have all turned brown and ugly, while the ones just a few feet away on the east end are still green and looking good. I don’t know what that’s all about.

It was the same with the grass I planted in the area where we took the big old tree out. After it got so cold, the grass turned brown, and I thought it was going to die but this past week it was in the upper 70s and low 80s, and the grass is nice and green again and filling in very well.

The key lime tree is covered with flowers, and though we had a very heavy rainstorm yesterday that knocked some of them off, it still has lots of flowers and buds on it. I have a feeling this one is going to really produce once it gets mature.

The tangelo tree is another one that I wasn’t sure about because, for a while, the leaves were shriveling up and looking very yellow, but when we looked at it yesterday, we noticed several new buds coming out.

Likewise with the lemon tree. It has quite a few buds on it and some very pretty flowers. Terry uses a lot of lemon in her iced tea, which we drink every day, and her nonalcoholic ginger-lemon cordial. So I will be glad when we can start harvesting lemons from it.

Moving inside, the Aerogarden is putting out a lot of growth. Here is the second crop of strawberries, though I have to say that I found the first ones disappointing. They got to be about half the size of a marble, and though there was some sweetness to them, they tasted pretty bland to me.

The cherry tomato plants are going great guns in terms of height and have had quite a few flowers, but no produce as of yet, and I’m not sure if they will get any or not.

Terry also has some different kinds of herbs growing in the smaller Aerogarden and in pots, and she has been harvesting and using a lot of them and is very pleased.

She also loves avocado, and we have tried to sprout an avocado from seed several times, even though everything I have read said that they seldom produce anything. This was her third attempt, and it’s growing very well. Terry tells me that she will be transplanting it into a pot soon. Even if she is not able to harvest any avocados from it, it’s always fun watching things grow.

Well, except for my waistline. That darn thing is on a nonstop growing rampage!

Today is your last chance to enter our Free Drawing for 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 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 – The next time your wife gets angry at you, drape a towel over her shoulders and say, “Now You’re Super Angry!” Maybe she’ll laugh. Maybe you’ll die. It’s a toss up.

Feb 132021
 

In yesterday’s blog I told you about sitting in the Devil’s Chair during our visit to the cemetery at the Cassadaga Spiritualist Camp. The small community was established in 1875, and visitors still come today to talk to the many mediums and spiritualists who inhabit the camp.

During our visit we stumbled upon a delightful little wonderland called Horseshoe Park, where we spent quite a bit of time exploring the Fairy Trail, a series of paths that meander through a hardwood forest decorated with beautiful fairy wings, fairy houses, gnomes, mobiles, and windchimes made from everything from old silverware to seashells, along with trees streamed with gauzy netting and colorful leis, and anything and everything you can or cannot imagine.

The path is easy to walk, though there are a few exposed roots you have to look out for so you don’t stumble, and that can be a problem because there is so much to see that who has time to look at the ground?

But you will be missing out if you don’t look at the ground and everywhere around you, up, down, and sideways, because there are so many things to see that you will never take it all in in one visit. In fact, a friend who lives in the area and goes regularly says that she has been to the park at least 30 times and still finds something new on every visit.

Some of it is whimsical, like decorated trees and this sign forest.

Other parts of it are sure to make you smile, like this small RV Park in a flower pot.

Who doesn’t like a smiling elephant?

And if elephants are not your thing, how about turtles?

And some of what you will see along the trail is downright bizarre.

Who is this, and what is his head doing in Horseshoe Park?

Is he friends with this guy?

What, you never saw a doll hanging out in a tree before? Maybe she’s just taking a break from one of the many dollhouses scattered along the trail.

They say that fairies come to the park at night to decorate it, but here’s a picture of my favorite fairy in the whole world.

It seemed like a lot of things in the park are bits of folk art that people just add as they visit. We saw more strings of Mardi Gras beads than I could ever count, tributes to loved ones who have passed on, a rock painted with the names of a couple, and the words “together forever, 1971.” I couldn’t help but wonder if those lovers are still together. I would like to hope so.

There are benches scattered throughout the park where you can sit and rest and enjoy all of the beauty that surrounds you.

The trail was created in 2012 and has become a popular spot for locals and visitors alike, though even in this time of pandemic, there were not that many people around, and it was no problem for us to socially distance.

The park’s neighbors all seemed friendly, too.

Words and photos cannot come close to describing this enchanted world of fairies and fairy dust, you really do have to see it for yourself. And trust me, once you see it, I think you will want to go back again. I know that we definitely do!

Located at Seneca and Chauncey Street, Horseshoe Park and the Fairy Trail are open daily from sunup to sundown. But please don’t come at night, because that’s when the locals say the fairies are at work, adding even more magic. There is a small parking area for passenger cars, but the roads around the park are not adequate for RVs or other large vehicles.

Be sure to enter our latest 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 – Taking time to do nothing sometimes brings everything into perspective.

The Devil’s Chair

 Posted by at 1:04 am  Nick's Blog
Feb 122021
 

Long-time readers of my blogs or the Gypsy Journal know that Terry and I enjoy visiting old cemeteries. Some people might think that’s morbid, but to us, it’s always interesting. It puts your own life in perspective when you see how many people, especially women, died at early ages back in the “good old days.” In fact, one of the many seminars I presented at RV rallies around the country was one called Cemetery Stories, where I shared some of the odd and interesting things we have seen in graveyards in our travels from border to border and ocean to ocean.

We really needed to get away from home for a little bit, so yesterday, we visited a cemetery not too far away that definitely has a story associated with it.

The 10-acre Lake Helen-Cassadaga Cemetery here in Volusia County, Florida, is said to be haunted. Of course, people say that about a lot of cemeteries, but this one may have a couple of extra reasons for that claim to fame. The first is that one of the communities it serves, Cassadaga, is home to many spiritualists and professional mediums and is known as the “Psychic Capital of the World.” The Cassadaga Spiritualist Camp was founded in 1875 by George Colby, a New York medium who made his living traveling around the country giving readings and séances. Colby is buried in the cemetery, and his spirit is one of several that are reported to be seen wandering the grounds.

The cemetery’s other special feature is a brick bench known as the Devil’s Chair. Legend has it that if someone is brave enough or foolish enough to sit in the chair at the stroke of midnight, the Devil will speak to them for the rest of their life, a torment that many supposedly have not been able to endure. It wasn’t midnight, but you just know I had to go sit in the Devil’s Chair, don’t you?

Another part of the legend is that if you leave an unopened bottle or can of beer at the chair, when you come back the next day it will still be sealed but will be empty. We found this empty beer bottle at the chair, and it did not look to either one of us like the cap had ever been taken off. What happened to its contents? I don’t know, but if I hear somebody with beer breath whisper in my ear, I’ll let you know.

If you want to visit the cemetery, it is located between the two small communities at the intersection of Root Street and W. Kicklighter Road. And if it looks familiar to you, that might be because scenes for the 1981 movie Ghost Story, based on the Peter Straub novel by the same name, were filmed there.

I have to tell you one funny thing about our trip to the cemetery yesterday. It was Terry’s father’s 91st birthday, and while we were driving home, she was talking to him on the telephone and he had the speaker on so her mother could hear, too. Terry was telling him about the Devil’s Chair and the story behind it when I interrupted her and said, “He knows all about that honey. He’s been listening to your mother for a long time.” Her dad got quite a laugh out of that, but I think her mother is probably sticking pins in a voodoo doll named Nick right now.

In tomorrow’s blog, I’ll have some more to tell you about Cassadaga and a delightful little park there where we spent quite a bit time.

Be sure to enter our latest 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 – The term “domestic housewife” implies that there are feral housewives, and now I have a new goal.

That’s Frustrating

 Posted by at 12:13 am  Nick's Blog
Feb 112021
 

Thank you to everybody who purchased my new book Fresh Out Of Mojo, downloaded it to read for free on Kindle Unlimited, and told their friends about it. The book is off to a good start, thanks to all of you.

One person did say they had a problem with the language and violence in the book, but there is a disclaimer on the book’s page on Amazon saying that says it contains violence, strong language, and adult situations some readers might find objectionable. Unfortunately, when you’re writing about criminals, in this case, drug dealers, to tell the story accurately, you have to include the ugly world they live in. I do apologize to anybody who is not comfortable with that and encourage you to pass on this book if it would offend you.

There is a lot of work that goes into promoting a new book release, including announcements on social media, e-mails to book bloggers, asking my friends and fellow authors to help spread the word, and updating my BookBub and Goodreads author pages. Along with doing all of that yesterday, I also got my author’s newsletter sent out to all my subscribers with an announcement about the new book, and a great short story from my friend Donna McNichol from her new Red Line Coffee Mystery Series. I can already tell that I’m going to like these stories! If you would like to be added to the list for the free newsletter, just send me your e-mail address to [email protected] and I’ll get you added to the list. I promise I’ll never spam you.

All of that was the easy part of my day. Then it got frustrating. Back in August, Terry and I both got brand-new Samsung Galaxy S10+ smartphones, and for the last couple of months, every once in a while, my phone will not call out. I could get incoming calls, but when I tried to call out, the screen would just go back to the main screen when I hit the dial icon. So I called the customer support number for Consumer Cellular yesterday, and a very nice man walked me through several attempts to diagnose the problem and then had me do a factory reset.

That seems to have resolved the issue, but in the process, I lost all of my stored phone numbers and apps. That’s always frustrating. So I spent the next several hours trying to get everything back to where it should be. By the end of the day, I think I had most of it straightened out. I sure hope so.

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

It’s Thursday, so it’s time for a new Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an 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 – My goal is to be that old person that everybody is afraid to take out in public.

And That Makes 44

 Posted by at 12:32 am  Nick's Blog
Feb 102021
 

My new John Lee Quarrels book, Fresh Out Of Mojo, is now available on Amazon. This is my 44th book and my first book for the new year. I normally publish four books a year, but the pandemic kept us home more than usual in 2020, and I had a lot of time to write, so I ended the year with six new books out. I’m not sure what this year will bring yet. I have lots of books rolling around in my head waiting their turn, but I would really like to get out and play now and then.

Besides finishing the teaser chapter of my next John Lee Quarrels book to go in the back of this one yesterday, and then formatting the e-book and getting it uploaded, I spent some time working on my author’s newsletter, which will go out today. Then I helped Terry with a couple of little projects around the house, which means it only took her twice as long to get them finished than it would have if she had done them alone.

She needed some more storage space in her office, so she purchased a couple of racks from Amazon. We (she) actually put one of them together the other day, and the second one, which fits in a corner,  came pretty much assembled and ready to go. Here they are on her desk, ready to be filled up.

She also ordered a Rush Creek fishing rod rack from Amazon, and we mounted that to the wall in the garage. This will keep our fishing rods organized and hopefully not getting all tangled up like they did when they were all piled together in the corner. That’s happened a couple of times now, and it’s always a mess to sort out. Now, if we could just get out and use them!

About the time we were finishing up with all that, our neighbor Jesse Bolton from across the street stopped by and we chatted for a few minutes. Jesse is going to repack the wheel bearings on the kayak trailer sometime this week and then has a couple of ideas about how to reconfigure it to hold two kayaks instead of one, which will make it much easier to get them down to the water and launch them.

Besides all of that, I also received some print copies of my last book, Big Lake Hoarder, yesterday. I need a couple more bookcases in my office, but I have no idea where I could put them. This place seemed so big when we bought it, especially after 18+ years of living in a motorhome, but now it seems like we are running out of space! I read once that stuff expands to fill the available volume, and apparently, that’s true.

Thought For The Day – A friend suggested putting horse manure on my strawberries. I’m never doing that again, I’m going back to whipped cream.