Nick Russell

The Lou-Z-Boy Blues

 Posted by at 12:45 am  Nick's Blog
Jan 282022
 

In a blog post a few days ago I told you that the powered headrest on my La-Z-Boy recliner had stopped working. I called their service department and was referred to the extended warranty company, who said they would send out a replacement motor, and when it arrived I would have to call again to have them schedule a technician to come out and install it. A couple of days ago a package arrived, but it wasn’t any kind of motor, it was two pieces of plastic labeled Left and Right Swivel Assembly. I called La-Z-Boy and they said yes, that’s what I needed, not a motor. I’m not sure how they determined that, since nobody has looked at it, but at any rate they scheduled a technician to come on February 11th to fix it.

This isn’t the first time I’ve had a problem with the chair, as I wrote the other day. The operation has been clunky since the day I got it, and when I called their service department, they said it was normal and it would “wear in.” It’s only got clunkier over time. A couple of years ago, I wrote a blog post about the remote control not working and being stuck in the chair. Thanks to the extended warranty we purchased, they did send a replacement power cord for the remote control, and that seemed to solve that problem.

Then when I sat down in the chair yesterday and pushed the button to recline it, it lurched and there were some loud snapping noises, and it just stopped working. It wouldn’t move in any direction, so Terry and I turned it upside down and this is what we found. Half of the plastic mechanism that seemed to operate the recliner had shattered into pieces, and a bunch of grease or oil had been dumped on the carpet.

It looks like it came from this area, where the horizontal bar is.

So now I have a bag of broken parts, and I will be calling La-Z-Boy first thing this morning to raise holy hell. Yes, they will fix it under the extended warranty, but that’s not the point. Whatever happened to quality control? Whatever happened to pride in your products? I guess those days are long gone. I told Terry last night, and she agreed, that even after they fix the chair under warranty, I might just buy something else and give this to somebody who wants to deal with the constant problems.

On a happier note, my pal Bobbi Holmes just released The Ghost and the Church Lady, the 29th  book in her wonderful Haunting Danielle series about a bed and breakfast on the Oregon coast that is haunted by a previous owner who died long ago. Bobbi’s writing is always great, and I would love to sit down in my recliner and read her new book. But we know that’s not going to happen right now, don’t we? Order your copy of The Ghost and the Church Lady today. Better yet, if you are not familiar with Bobbi’s work, order every book in the series. You’re going to anyway once you get hooked, and you will. Don’t believe me? The first book in the series, The Ghost of Marlow House, is free on Amazon. Check it out!

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

Be sure to enter our latest Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an audiobook of Watching Over Me: A Psychological Thriller, the first book in the heart-racing Crime After Crime series by M K Farrar and M.A. Comley. Trust me, this British crime writing duo know how to keep readers on the edge of their seats from the first page to the last! 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 ever in a “Don’t laugh” situation, you probably shouldn’t look over at me.

A Busy Week

 Posted by at 12:47 am  Nick's Blog
Jan 272022
 

It’s been a busy week for us, and we’re not done yet. On Monday we had appointments at LabCorp to get blood draws for routine upcoming appointments with our primary care doctor. The lab is only a couple of miles from the house, and we were in and out pretty quickly. Like every place seems to be these days, they were short-staffed, and the phlebotomist we usually see was not there. But the new woman on duty, who was brought in from another location, was excellent and we never even felt the needles go in.

When we were done there, we went to Sweetwater Medical in New Smyrna Beach, the supplier for my CPAP machine. I had a couple of questions and the tech answered them for me, explained a couple of things I didn’t quite understand and told me that based on the reports the machine automatically sends to their office, I’m doing great, with a sleep score most nights in the high 90s.

Then we drove to Global Mobile Detailing in Holly Hill, a suburb on the north side of Daytona Beach. I want to get the new pickup and my Mustang both ceramic coated, which is a protectant that is better than wax if it’s applied correctly, and will keep them looking like new and help protect them from the salt air since we’re only 800 yards from the water. These folks came highly recommended and we made appointments to drop off both vehicles in a few days.

It rained all day Tuesday so we didn’t go anywhere, but that didn’t mean we weren’t busy at home. I made some last-minute changes to the manuscript for Big Lake Ranger and then sent it off to the person who formats my books for print. She’s hoping to have it back to me by the weekend, then I will upload it to Amazon, and the printed edition will be ready to go in a few days. I also talked to her about another project I have been working on and will be releasing soon.

Besides paperwork and keeping me fed and clothed, among all of the other things that she was busy with, Terry spent part of that time learning to knit a pair of socks at the same time on something called a magic loop. Don’t ask me what’s involved with that and how you can knit two socks at the same time because I got a headache just looking at what she was doing.

Yesterday we drove about 55 miles north to Palm Coast to have our friend Doctor Melony Thomas give us chiropractic adjustments at Coastal Integrative Healthcare. We started seeing Melony several years ago when she was in the Edgewater office before they moved her up there to open a new location. She’s been working on us and knows our bodies so well that it’s worth the drive. Besides our regular adjustments, for some reason lately, my lower jaw seems to be out of line, which causes my tongue to constantly scrape against the bottom of my teeth, leaving it irritated. Melony was able to align it for me but said that once a problem like that starts, it frequently becomes a recurring issue. Finished with all of that, we walked out of the office feeling much better than we when we entered.

Driving back to Port Orange, we met our friend author Frank Butterfield at a nice little Mexican restaurant called Salsa Cocina. I had told Frank we would be there at 4:30, and I had timed it just about perfect because we walked in the door at 4:29. We had a great meal and lots of interesting conversation about books and life in general. Frank is a fascinating man who we could talk to for hours on end, and the time just slips on past. Yesterday was a good example because it was close to three hours from the time we walked in until the time we left.

Back at home, we watched some television and then it was time to write the blog and call it a day.

Today will be spent catching up on chores here at home, including a backlog of e-mail I need to wade through, and tomorrow we will be on the road again, headed to the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville for a routine check-up on Terry’s Interstim implant. Then, hopefully, we’ll have the weekend off and I can get some writing done. I’m really looking forward to that. We have another cold front coming through the area and it’s not going to be very pleasant outside for the next few days. Sounds like a good time to get some work done to me, don’t you think?

It’s Thursday, so it’s time for a new Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an audiobook of Watching Over Me: A Psychological Thriller, the first book in the heart-racing Crime After Crime series by M K Farrar and M.A. Comley. Trust me, this British crime writing duo know how to keep readers on the edge of their seats from the first page to the last! 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 Don’t raise your voice, improve your argument.

Beware Of Scammers

 Posted by at 12:35 am  Nick's Blog
Jan 262022
 

I received a letter yesterday from the “Property Records Office,” but with a Tampa return address on the other side of the state. It instructed me to send $89 to receive the deed to my house. Not sure what that was about, I called the Volusia County Records office and was told by a clerk there that it is a scam and not from any official government agency. She also pointed out that in small print on the back, I was giving them authority to “act as my representative in matters related to this property.” I don’t think so!

When we were advertising our motorhome for sale a few years ago, I must have gotten a dozen e-mails from people who were out of the country, usually serving with the military, and were going to send a representative to pick it up. They all wanted to send me a check for more than the asking price and told me to give the excess money to the driver who came to pick up the RV for his expenses. That’s an easy way to lose your motorhome and your money. Thanks, but no thanks.

Another popular scam is an e-mail from a friend saying that it is a relative’s birthday and they are out of the country and unable to send them a gift card, so they want you to do it for them, and they will pay you back. Think about it, if they’re online and able to send you an e-mail, they were able to go online to Amazon or wherever and get a gift card. Don’t fall for it!

A couple of years ago, I wrote about a scam going around where someone would call and say they are holding a loved one hostage and were going to kill them if you didn’t pay a ransom. I got one of those calls, telling me that he was holding a gun to my son’s head and if I didn’t follow their instructions exactly to send them $10,000 they were going to shoot him. I told the caller to go ahead and do it, I never really liked him that much anyway. At first the guy seemed kind of incredulous, then he called me a heartless SOB before he hung up.

Now, just to set the record straight, after it was over with, I did call my son Travis and explained the situation to him. I told him that it was nothing personal, but $10,000 was a lot of money. Being the good guy that he is, Travis understood and said he would do the same thing if he ever got such a call about me. Actually, if I recall correctly, he set his limit at ten bucks. Now that’s a heartless SOB!

There was a story on the news the other night about someone who got a call, allegedly from their grandson, saying he had been arrested for a DUI and needed money for bail. The grandparents were instructed to withdraw cash from their bank account and put it in an envelope and that someone from the bail bondsman’s office would come and pick it up. Granny was no fool. She called the cops, and when the con artist arrived, she handed him a box with an envelope filled with paper, and he was tackled and arrested by police officers as he started to leave.

Another news article about the same time was about the same type of phone call, and the grandfather actually went to the bank and withdrew over $7,000 before his wife thought that they should call their daughter and see if their grandson really was in jail. Nope. He was at work and knew nothing about it.

It seems like every day some lowlife is coming up with a new way to cheat people out of their money. Here’s an idea – get a job, loser!

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. Somebody at the bookstore has a sense of humor.

Thought For The Day I started to go to the gym this morning, but I couldn’t find my membership card. A new card is $10. A donut and coffee were $3. Guess who saved $7?

Q&A

 Posted by at 1:01 am  Nick's Blog
Jan 252022
 

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 were just at the Tampa RV show, the first one we have been to in four years. Is it just me, or is the quality of RVs getting even worse these days while the prices get higher? We looked at one motorhome that was $395,000, and the fit and finish both inside and outside were deplorable. In two different places there were half-inch gaps around the window trim. How can they get away with selling things made so poorly for so much money?

A. They get away with it the same way they have for the last 20 years, because consumers will settle for it. Why spend the time and money to make something better when there are plenty of fools lined up with their checkbook in hand, willing to take whatever they can get, no matter how shoddy?

Q. A while back on your blog you talked about electric cars. I am all for them, but there are some negatives that have not been addressed. While batteries are improving all the time, they all have a time when they are no longer useful. My question is, what will happen to all those dead batteries, and the cost to replace them in cars that are otherwise perfect?

A. Every car, truck, and bus in the world uses at least one battery. What do we do with all of them when they are worn out? What do we do with old cars that wear out or get in accidents? There will eventually be ways to recycle them. And as technology improves, cost to replace them will be less in the long run than for all of the gasoline and diesel we feed our vehicles now, and the environment will be better off.

Q. I know that many of the RV vendors we knew from our days on the road are now retired. The other day I was wondering about Mac McCoy, who used to do the excellent RV fire safety seminars. Are you still in touch with Mac? Is he still teaching at RV rallies?

A. Mac retired a while back and is now living in Oregon. We don’t get to talk as often as we used to, but he is healthy and happy.

Q. Like you, we are now officially old farts and will both be able to qualify for Medicare this year. Trying to figure out everything has been very confusing, and every time I turn on the TV some has-been celebrity is telling me about their Medicare supplement plan. What do you and Miss Terry use as a supplemental plan, Nick, and has it worked out for you?

A. We were very fortunate that when it came time to make that choice, our good friend Chris Yust, who retired after spending much of her career in the insurance industry, was on hand to advise us. We have a United Healthcare supplement through AARP, and it has been very good for us. There are cheaper plans out there, but you get what you pay for.

Q. My mother and her husband just bought a fifth-wheel RV trailer and wanted to go to the Florida Keys. But they are not finding any place with an RV site available for less than way more money than they want to spend. Do you know of any budget-priced RV parks in the Keys or any places where they could dry camp for a week or two?

A. The words budget-priced and Florida Keys never go together in the same sentence. RV sites go for premium prices there, if you can even find one in the winter. And forget dry camping. I don’t know of any place where it’s allowed. My best advice would be to go online to the Florida State Parks website and see if they can find an opening for a day or two when somebody had a cancellation. But I wouldn’t be optimistic about it. RV sites in the Keys are usually reserved for a year in advance.

Q.How did you adjust so easily to the CPAP machine, Nick? I am 60 days in and just can’t wear the darn thing for more than an hour or so before I rip it off. I was told last week that I am not compliant with my insurance company because I’m not wearing it and they require that I do at least four hours a night.

A. To be honest, I’m surprised that I was able to adjust to it so quickly. I had some anxiety the first couple of nights but was able to fall asleep anyway. You might try melatonin or some nighttime sleep aid to help with it. I still don’t like wearing the darn thing, but the health benefits are well worth it.

Q. I love audiobooks and I’ve listened to all of yours that are available, but it’s only a few. Why don’t you have more of your books available in audiobook format?

A. Unfortunately, I have found that for me, the cost and time involved in creating audiobooks just does not pay off. I’m very lucky if I sell 20 audiobooks in a month, and it’s usually less than that.

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’m not being lazy, I’m just waiting for inspiration to strike me.

Jan 242022
 

My CPAP machine has a reservoir that has to be filled with distilled water every day. It seems like it uses a lot compared to some people I have talked to in the online forums, but other people say they also have to refill the reservoir on a daily basis. Terry’s AeroGarden also uses distilled water, as does her Steamfast digital steam press.

We have found that it’s sometimes hard to find distilled water in our local stores, so when someone in a CPAP forum recommended a stainless Megahome countertop water distiller, I decided to look into them. We liked what we saw so we ordered one, and yesterday Terry set it up. It takes up quite a bit of counter space, but it will be nice not having to find distilled water at our local Publix. It takes over five hours to make a gallon of distilled water, so it’s not a quick process, but we think it will be worth the effort.

Something else we recently ordered was a Lunix LX3 cordless electric hand massager. I’ve written often about the fact that my arthritic fingers give me a lot of problems when I am typing, and Terry has problems with her hands, too, especially when she is knitting. The hand massager has good reviews and hopefully, it will give us some much-needed relief.

Sore, stiff hands never keep Terry from working her magic in the kitchen! She made a delicious dinner of tortellini and homemade meatballs that was better than anything you’ll find in any Italian restaurant in the world.

And what better dessert than some of her fresh, hot, homemade banana bread? Yummy!

I mentioned writing above, and for those who are asking when the next Tinder Street book will be out, I’ve spent quite a bit of time the last couple of days getting my notes organized to begin working on The Hard Years, the fourth book in the family saga. Each book covers roughly a five-year period, and this one will be about the difficult days following the 1929 Wall Street crash and the Great Depression. I’m old enough to remember my parents talking about how hard things were back then and will be incorporating many of those memories in this book.

Speaking of books, I have the greatest readers in the world. I released Big Lake Ranger on December 26, and thanks to all of you who have downloaded it, posted reviews, and told your friends about it, it’s still riding high at #1852 in the Kindle store yesterday (down from a high of #543), at #52 in the Mystery category, and #19 in Police Procedurals. It sold over 1100 copies in the first 36 hours. I can’t tell you how much your support means to us.

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 Judy Butterfield, winner of our drawing for an audiobook of The Driving Lesson by my friend Ben Rehder. While Ben writes some excellent mysteries, including the wildly popular Blanco County series, this tale of a boy and his grandfather on an unplanned road trip across the country is a coming of age story that will tug at your heartstrings. We had 30 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 took the grandkids to the zoo last week. I’m going to go back tomorrow to see how well they have settled in.

Kayaks And CPAPs

 Posted by at 12:07 am  Nick's Blog
Jan 232022
 

We love the memories that daughter Tiffany and granddaughter Destiny left us with after their visit, but we sure wouldn’t have minded at all if they had taken the cold and windy weather back home with them to Northern Arizona, where it belongs. I don’t think it got out of the mid-50s all day yesterday, with the wind blowing about 15 mph, and rain was spitting all day long. It was definitely not a day to be outside, and we are supposed to have the same for at least a week or so.

But in anticipation of when the weather does clear up, we spent part of yesterday reconfiguring our kayak trailer to hold two boats instead of one. Our neighbor Jesse converted it for us last year, and having two boats on it makes it super easy to take them down to the water and launch them for a day of paddling. In a pinch, we can put our third Old Town Predator kayak on top of the other two on the trailer and haul them that way. However, when the pontoon boat is in the garage during the super hot summer months, there’s no room for the trailer configured that way, so we return it back to the single boat set up and store the extra kayaks underneath the pontoon boat.

When I said that we are going to sell our two Sea Eagle inflatables in a previous blog post, a couple of people contacted me asking the price. With everything that comes with them they cost about $3,000 new, and I’d like to get $1,500. One person, someone who I’ve never met or heard from before, contacted me asking if I would take payments of $50 per month. No, I’m sorry, I’m not a banker or a loan company.

Several readers have asked how I am adapting to using my ResMed AirSense 11 CPAP machine at night, and I have to say it’s gone much easier than I expected it to. In reading different online forums, it seems that a lot of people have tremendous difficulty getting used to them, but except for a little bit of anxiety the first night or two, it really hasn’t been an issue for me.

And even then, my sleep score was in the high 90s every night. Here is a bar graph of my sleep score for the first 12 nights. Only twice did it drop out of the mid to high 90s, with a score of 88 the morning we had to get up earlier than normal to pick up the girls at the airport when they arrived from Arizona, and 79 the day they left, when we were up all night and slept for a few hours when we got home. I’ve also noticed that I’m not falling asleep in the evening sitting in my recliner watching television, though that might be because the girls kept us so darned busy that there was no time to fall asleep. 😊 But overall, I do feel a lot more rested.

Speaking of my recliner, there was a time when La-Z-Boy products were considered some of the best available. Not anymore, in my opinion. Less than three years ago I ordered a custom La-Z-Boy powered recliner, and the mechanism has been clunky when it moves from day one. A while back, the remote control stopped working and was replaced under warranty, and now the powered headrest has stopped working. It is in an extended position, which makes it almost impossible to sit in the chair comfortably.

We bought an extended warranty with the chair, so it is covered, but I have no idea how long it’s will take to actually get it repaired. When I called the warranty service last week, they said they would send me the replacement motor, and once it arrives, I need to call and make an appointment for a service tech to come out and make the repair. While I’m glad that they are honoring the warranty, for the price I paid for the chair I wouldn’t expect so many problems. And if we hadn’t bought the extended warranty, we’d be out of luck. I don’t think I would ever buy another La-Z-Boy product, based on my experiences with 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, courtesy of our friend Jim Harper.

Today is your last chance to enter our Free Drawing for an audiobook of The Driving Lesson by my friend Ben Rehder. While Ben writes some excellent mysteries, including the wildly popular Blanco County series, this tale of a boy and his grandfather on an unplanned road trip across the country is a coming of age story that will tug at your heartstrings. 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 – I can’t even imagine the self-control required to work at a bubble wrap factory.

Jan 222022
 

Wow, it sure seems quiet around here now that our daughter Tiffany and granddaughter Destiny are back home in Arizona.

As I said in yesterday’s blog, the girls flew out of Daytona Beach at 6:30 AM, which means they had to check in at the airport at 4:30. Since Terry and I seldom get to bed before 2 AM, and it’s a half-hour drive to get there on a good day, it didn’t make any sense for us to even go to bed. So we stayed up until it was time to leave. There was almost no traffic on Interstate 95 at that early hour and it was a quick trip. Before we went inside the terminal, we had to have one last group photo.

Daytona Beach International Airport is not very big and not very busy, but at that time of the morning, there was almost nobody around.

We had to wait for a while because the ticket counter wasn’t open, but once the girls were checked in and their baggage was on the carousel, we went upstairs and hung out by the gate for a little bit, saying our last goodbyes. That is always bittersweet, but we know they needed to get back to their lives, and we needed to get back to normal, too. Or at least whatever passes for normal around here.

When we got home we were both so tired that we just cleaned up, brushed our teeth, and went to bed. We slept for a little over six hours, then really didn’t do much at all for the rest of the day. Hanging out with two young ladies for over a week wore us old farts out!

Tiffany and Destiny could have taken a flight that left a little later in the morning, but that would have put them into Phoenix about 4 PM, and it’s at least a three-hour drive through the mountains to their home in Show Low. Because it’s winter and gets dark early there, and because it’s not uncommon for deer, elk, and even bear to wander out onto the highways at night, we wanted them to be able to drive home before it got too late.

As it turns out, that didn’t happen because after a couple of hours of layover in Charlotte, North Carolina on the first leg of their trip home, they boarded the airplane and then were stuck on the runway for over an hour because something had to be changed or adjusted because of the new 5G rollout. In the meantime, it was cold, with a winter storm coming their way, and once the techs were done doing their job, there was another delay because the plane had to be de-iced. The end result was that they still got into Phoenix late in the day, and it was dark by the time they got home. Tiffany said she was so tired that the last 75 miles or so were very difficult, but she and Destiny were talking and singing to stay awake. We were relieved when she called to tell us they were home.

Like last week, we have another cold front coming through that will bring us wind, rain, and low temperatures. Most of the next ten days the highs won’t be out of the low 60s, and one day is even supposed to be down to 57 degrees. But that’s okay, I need to get back to writing, and Terry has a lot of projects she wants to do around the house, so we won’t be bored.

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, courtesy of our friend Peter Ambrose.

Be sure to enter our latest Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an audiobook of The Driving Lesson by my friend Ben Rehder. While Ben writes some excellent mysteries, including the wildly popular Blanco County series, this tale of a boy and his grandfather on an unplanned road trip across the country is a coming of age story that will tug at your heartstrings. 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 love putting on warm underwear fresh out of the dryer. And it’s always fun to look around the laundromat and try to guess who they belong to.

A Paddling Day

 Posted by at 1:06 am  Nick's Blog
Jan 212022
 

Yesterday was the last full day for our daughter Tiffany and granddaughter Destiny to be with us, and since it was one of the few nice days weather-wise while they have been here, we decided to introduce them to kayaking. You might think that people who live in Arizona don’t have enough water to go paddling in, but they live in Show Low, in the White Mountains, where there is an abundance of lakes. It’s just something that they’ve never done and we decided we needed to remedy that.

We took our three Old Town Predator kayaks down to the boat launch in our little private community, and Terry gave the girls a short lesson in paddling, explaining how to get in and out and how to steer the kayaks with the paddles. Then she put Destiny in her kayak, and as you can see, she was excited to head out onto the water.

They paddled over to the side of the fishing pier and waited while Terry got into a kayak and was ready to join them. We have three Old Town Predators, as well as two Sea Eagle inflatable kayaks, and we had talked about me using my Sea Eagle PaddleSki, but I decided to let them have at it while I waited on the pier.

It didn’t take the girls long at all to get the hang of it, and they started paddling away in search of adventure.

Terry kept them close to shore for a while until they were comfortable in the boats, and then they moved out into more open water. There they go, the three amigos.

They paddled around for a while and then went down to the canal where we usually see manatees and paddled into that. But again, there was not a manatee to be found there. I don’t think we’re going to have any this winter, and that’s sad because we love seeing them.

I hung out on the pier for about an hour or so before they came paddling back toward me. Tiffany and Destiny were in our regular thirteen-foot Old Town Predators, and Terry was in the Predator PDL, which came with foot pedals, making it the perfect fishing kayak. The only problem is that sometimes the water here is very shallow, and when you’re going into those areas, the pedals are more trouble than they’re worth. But they are easily removed, and a while back, I took them out and replaced them with a storage console that dropped right into the opening for the pedal assembly, giving it a flush floor. It takes just a minute to change back and forth between one or the other.

This was the first time we had had that kayak in the water since making the switch, and I wanted to try it, too. So Terry and I changed places and I paddled out to the girls. As I was going out, a dolphin surfaced right in front of me, and before we knew it we were surrounded by them. We have seen a lot of dolphins since we have been here, but this was the first time that we found ourselves in the middle of a feeding frenzy. I can’t count how many dolphins were around us, jumping and going after a huge school of baitfish, but there were more than we could count, and it went on for longer than I could believe. Sometimes they were within just a few feet of us. What an experience! I said later it was like the dolphin version of a fireworks finale for the girls’ visit with us.

Tiffany said that except for the birth of her two children, it was the most memorable experience of her life. I can believe it.

By the time we got back to shore, both girls were hooked on kayaking and wishing that the weather had been better earlier during their visit because they would have probably spent all of it out on the water.

I have written many times about our two Sea Eagle kayaks and we loved them when we were traveling fulltime in an RV because they were easy to store and carry, and the darn things are bulletproof. You just can’t hurt them. We’ve been hanging onto them for a long time, but we decided that we’re going to try to find a new home for them and use the money to purchase one more Old Town Predator. That way, when we have visitors, we’ll all be able to launch and go paddling quickly. If anybody is interested in the pair and is anywhere near us in central Florida between Daytona Beach and Cape Canaveral, we have both a Sea Eagle PaddleSki 435 and a 385 Fast Track, along with an electric pump and foot pumps, seats, paddles, and accessories.

The girls flew out at 6:30 this morning, which means we had to drop them off at the airport at 4:30. It’s been a wonderful visit, and we’re sorry to see them go, but we know they’ll be back again, and we’re all looking forward to it.

Be sure to enter our latest Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an audiobook of The Driving Lesson by my friend Ben Rehder. While Ben writes some excellent mysteries, including the wildly popular Blanco County series, this tale of a boy and his grandfather on an unplanned road trip across the country is a coming of age story that will tug at your heartstrings. 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 – Support bacteria. It’s the only culture some people have.

Muscle Car Shortage

 Posted by at 12:49 am  Nick's Blog
Jan 202022
 

If you grew up like my kids did, with a father who loves classic cars, it’s probably not too surprising that my daughter Tiffany has a fondness for muscle cars. I came of age in the era of the muscle car and had a bunch of them when she was a kid. So she definitely wanted to take her daughter Destiny to Hankster’s Hot Rods in Daytona Beach while they were here. Hankster’s is a combination car museum and collectible car showroom housed in an old roller-skating rink, and it’s always fun to stop in and see all of the neat old cars on display.

But this time around it was a bit of a disappointment. I don’t know if there is a muscle car shortage or what was going on, but they didn’t have even half of the number of hot rods and muscle cars that they normally have.

We all have a dream car, and Destiny’s is a 70s-era El Camino, so she quickly fell in love with this one. I had a buddy in the army who had one very similar to it, and I took every opportunity I could to get behind the wheel.

Parked next to the El Camino was a Dodge with a 440 cubic inch engine. I had one of these for about 24 hours once when I was in the army, but it had more horsepower than I had guts and I decided that discretion was the better part of valor and sold it to a friend of mine.

As I said, while the showroom is usually full of old Mustangs, Camaros, GTOs, and Corvettes, this time around Hankster’s didn’t have very many old cars I felt were worth drooling over.

Instead, they had a bunch of things like dune buggies and old pickups and SUVs. Not that there was anything wrong with them, but it wasn’t what I had come to expect to see there.

They even had a couple of conversion vans from the 70s. Again, nice to look at, but not their typical inventory.

Tiffany fell in love with this Volkswagen and suggested then if I bought it for her, she could drive it home to Arizona, and I wouldn’t have to get up early tomorrow morning to take her to the airport. Sorry, kid, I’m not that easy.

When we left Hankster’s we took a stroll through nearby Dunlawton Sugar Mill Gardens, admiring the new troll house they had on display.

Then we went to Aunt Catfish’s on the River for dinner. We got a window seat, allowing us to look out across the river to the high-rise condos facing the ocean in  Daytona Beach. Dinner was delicious and we all left with full tummies.

This is the girls’ last day here, and I’m not sure what we will be doing. But whatever it is, I know we’ll be having fun cramming in the last bit of adventure we can before they have to go back home

It’s Thursday, so it’s time for a new Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an audiobook of The Driving Lesson by my friend Ben Rehder. While Ben writes some excellent mysteries, including the wildly popular Blanco County series, this tale of a boy and his grandfather on an unplanned road trip across the country is a coming of age story that will tug at your heartstrings. 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 best way to appreciate your job is to imagine yourself without one.

Jan 192022
 

It has been unseasonably cold here in Central Florida, which has curtailed some of the things we wanted to do during our daughter Tiffany and granddaughter Destiny’s visit from Arizona. But we’ve still had some adventures and a lot of laughs. Today I’ll bring you up to date on some of them.

In previous blogs, I’ve told you about Horseshoe Park in the spiritualist camp of Cassadaga and the park’s delightful Fairy Trail, a series of paths that meander through a woodland decorated with beautiful fairy wings, fairy houses, gnomes, and all kinds of things that people bring along to leave at the park. When Tiffany was here last spring, we took her there,  and she knew that Destiny would love it, so we went there one day before it got too cold.

It’s a fun place, and you never know who or what you’re going to run into. Is that Elvis?

The girls ran into a gnome of their own and had their picture taken with him.

Forget gnomes and trolls, I took this picture of three fairy princesses.

One of the things Tiffany really wanted to do was take Destiny to the beach to watch a sunrise over the ocean. She asked if I wanted to go along, but that would entail getting up much too early for me. In the words of the singer Meat Loaf, I’d do anything for love, but I won’t do that. So yesterday morning, she and Destiny were up and out the door early, and when they got back to the house they said it was a memorable experience even though it was freezing cold.

I had suggested that it’s always good manners to bring a gift when you visit somebody, and I may have mentioned that they would be passing a Dunkin’ Donuts on their way back from the beach. There might even have been a hint that Grandpa loves glazed donuts. There were a couple in the bag that Destiny handed me when they got home, but I have no idea how many the bag started out with, and she wasn’t telling.

We’ve crossed most of the things off of Destiny’s To Do list, but one of them was taking a ride in Grandpa Nick’s Mustang. So I took her for a spin in it yesterday, and I think she liked it. I may have to hide the keys while they’re still here.

The other day there was a rocket launch from Cape Canaveral, which I was glad they got to see, and there was another scheduled for 7:04 PM yesterday. So we bundled up and went down to the dock to watch it, only to learn when we arrived that it had been pushed back for two hours. We weren’t going to stand out there in the cold night air that long so we came home, and when it finally did go up, we just stepped outside watched it from the yard. It’s amazing how much they light up the sky when they lift off from the Cape, and how quickly they disappear on their trip to outer space.

Thought For The Day – Don’t worry about getting old, worry about thinking old.

Jan 182022
 

Before I do anything else, I want to thank everybody for your wonderful e-mails, text messages, blog comments, and Facebook comments congratulating us on our 24th anniversary. Terry and I read each and every one of them, and you all touched our hearts. Unfortunately, there were so many that I’d still be trying to reply individually to all of them by the time our next anniversary rolls around. But please know they mean the world to us.

I’ve been using my CPAP machine for a week now, and after saying that I received it, I have heard from many blog readers and Facebook friends who also use CPAP machines. I didn’t know there were so many of us out there! Several people have asked how my results have been so far.

Overall I have no major complaints, and adjusting to it is going better than I expected. The first couple of nights it seemed invasive having this thing hooked to me, but once I experimented with the adjustment straps and got it fitted a little better, it hasn’t been too bad. I find myself more rested during the day and don’t fall asleep watching the evening news.

For the most part, my sleep scores have been very good, in the mid to upper 90s for the first seven days. The one time it dipped below 90 was a score of 88, which was the morning when the girls arrived, and we had to get up early to go to the airport and pick them up, which meant I didn’t sleep as long. I am sleeping soundly and am not tossing and turning all night long, or waking up gasping for breath. This also means that Terry is getting a better night’s sleep, too, because I am not keeping her awake.

Speaking of Terry, check out this beautiful shawl she just finished knitting. It was a big project and the first one of its type that she has taken on. She said she made a couple of errors in it, but I sure don’t see them. Like most of us, she is her own worst critic.

Daughter Tiffany and granddaughter Destiny are having a great time visiting us, and we are thrilled to have them. As I shared with you before, Destiny had a bucket list of things she wanted to do here, and we’ve crossed many of them off already. The one disappointment was that there were no manatees in our canal, where we usually see many of them. But yesterday, a friend of theirs who moved to Tampa from Arizona a few years ago came over to visit and took them to Blue Springs State Park. Tiffany sent me these pictures and said that there were 458 of them in the park. It’s always been a great place to see manatees, and I’m so thrilled they got to go there.

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 was in front of a library. Who says librarians don’t have a sense of humor?

Thought for the day – Sometimes when one door closes, you need to nail a board over it so it stays that way.

Jan 172022
 

In my last blog about my short time selling automobiles, I told you about one of the easiest sales I ever made, an older gentleman who took a taxi to the dealership and drove out with a new truck and did not want to waste any time negotiating, he just wanted the sticker price so he could write a check for it and be on his way. This time around, I’ll tell you about another easy car sale. So easy I was confused during the whole process and afterward.

I worked in an auto mall for a mega-dealer that sold several different brands, and one day a fellow showed up in a pickup truck and said he wanted to see the most expensive Lincoln Continental on the lot. I started to show him a couple of different ones and he said, “I don’t need to look at a bunch of cars. Show me the most expensive one you have, and I’ll buy it. But it has to cost over $28,578.”

That sounded strange because most people want a deal, and it seemed like this man wanted to spend money. It took me a few minutes to find the most expensive Lincoln on the lot, and as I recall, it was somewhere around $28,400. He told me that wouldn’t do. It had to cost more than $28,578. It took a bit of head-scratching, but I came up with some aftermarket options we could include, bringing the price up over what he demanded. He didn’t want to test drive the car, he just wanted to buy it. We went inside and I told him I would speak to the sales manager and see if there were any discounts available (there are always discounts available, no matter what the salesman tells you). He cut me short and said, “I don’t want a damn discount, son. I want to buy a car, and I want to spend over $28,578.” And just like that, he wrote me a check for $29,100. I remember that figure very well because it was the most expensive car I had ever sold.

As he wrote the check, he said, “I need one other thing, I need you to drive it and follow me to my house, and I’ll bring you back.” No, he didn’t want to drive the new car, he was going to drive his truck. Okay, whatever. I followed him to a very nice house in a very nice subdivision in the foothills of Tucson, and when we got there, his wife and several ladies were playing bridge in the screened-in Arizona room. He said, “Honey, I bought a Lincoln, and it costs more than Eddie’s did.” She said, “great,” and went back to her card game. She never even looked up at the Lincoln.

He drove me back to the dealership in his truck, and when we got there, I told him I just had to know what the story was behind this deal. He said his brother-in-law Eddie was an absolute jerk and always had to have the best of everything and then lorded it over everyone else in the family. Eddie had just bought a new Lincoln for $28,578 and was crowing about how it was the most expensive car anyone in the family owned. So my customer decided it was time to one-up Eddie, and he did. He said he didn’t even like Lincolns, and as far as he was concerned, the damn thing could sit in the driveway forever and he would never get in it. But it was worth every penny just to shut Eddie up once and for all.

Don’t you wish you had that kind of money to be able to spend it like that just to make your point? I wish I did, though I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t do it anyhow. I spend my money on things I like, and I don’t care who it impresses or not.

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 – Money can’t buy happiness, but it sure makes misery easier to live with.

24 Years

 Posted by at 1:49 am  Nick's Blog
Jan 162022
 

24 years ago today, this beautiful lady became my wife and made me the happiest man in the world.

We have had some wonderful adventures since then, seen and done a lot of things most people never have an opportunity to, shared a million kisses, and weathered some storms along the way.

And now, all these years later, we are even more in love. Our daughter Tiffany posted a beautiful video tribute to our marriage on Facebook that I hope you will enjoy.

Some people have accused us of being codependent because we love spending all of our time together. I guess if you have to have some kind of dependency, it’s a pretty darned good one to have. She still takes my breath away.

The very first thing we say to each other every morning is “I love you,” and it’s the last thing we say every night as we fall asleep.

There’s something very special about being in love with your best friend. And if I have to grow old, I can’t think of anyone I’d rather take the journey with. I love you, Terry. Happy anniversary.

A Dolphin Day

 Posted by at 1:09 am  Nick's Blog
Jan 152022
 

When granddaughter Destiny was just a baby, we went with her and her family to SeaWorld in San Diego, where her big sister Hailey got to swim with the dolphins. That is something that Destiny has always wanted to do, and I promised her that when she visited us in Florida someday, I would make it happen. Yesterday was that day.

We left the house about 10 o’clock and drove to Marineland Dolphin Adventure just outside of St. Augustine. They have three dolphin swimming encounters during the day, at 10 am, noon, and 1:30 pm. We figured we would do the last one, but we got there early enough that they said Destiny could do the noon swim. And since it was a rather chilly day and there weren’t many visitors, there would only be two other people taking part.

Long before there was a Disneyland or SeaWorld or any theme parks, Marineland has been creating unforgettable experiences for more than 80 years. Today, the world’s first oceanarium welcomes guests from around the world with one-of-a-kind dolphin experiences that are truly unforgettable.

They offer several different dolphin encounter programs, from a dolphin show open to all visitors in which the beautiful creatures perform all kinds of tricks, including jumping high into the air alone and in pairs, to smaller meet and greet activities with different levels of involvement.

I chose the ultimate Royal Swim for Destiny, in which she not only got into the water to interact with the dolphins, shaking hands/fins with them and throwing a ball for them to retrieve, to hugging and caressing.

Then came the big ones – where she swam out into the middle of a huge deep pool and a pair of dolphins went up to join her, and she held on to their dorsal fins as they swam across the pool.

You would think that would be thrilling enough, but wait, there’s more! Destiny was sent out to the middle of the pool again, and the same two dolphins came up and under her and lifted her up by her feet and propelled her across the water. You can see by the smile on her face that she was a happy young lady.

Dolphins are amazing animals, and the first ones ever to be trained to do anything were right there at Marineland way back before most of us were ever born. We were told that the man who trained the first dolphin didn’t know how to swim, so he would go into the pool in a rowboat, and he spent a year teaching the first dolphin half a dozen tricks.

After Destiny was done with her adventure, a wonderful staff member named Joan took us downstairs, where a series of aquariums held all kinds of marine life, along with other interesting displays. One look at all these shark teeth told me I never want to go in the water again. Joan was a wonderful tour guide and we learned a lot from her.

After everyone else had left, Joan spent at least another half an hour with us, maybe more, telling us all kinds of interesting things about dolphins. For example, being marine mammals, dolphins cannot sleep like you or I would, or they would drown. So they close one eye and half of their brain sleeps while they continue to swim, and then they close the other eye and let the other half sleep. How cool is that?

We had a long day at Marineland and enjoyed every moment of it, and I know that Destiny has memories that will stay with her for a lifetime.

The next time you’re in the area, plan a day at Marineland, which is located at 9600 Oceanshore Boulevard (US Highway 1), just south of St. Augustine. It may not have all of the glitz of SeaWorld or Disney World, but it’s much more intimate, and I guarantee you that you won’t be disappointed.

Thought For The Day – I’m not being lazy, I’m just waiting for inspiration to strike me.

Making Memories

 Posted by at 12:47 am  Nick's Blog
Jan 142022
 

We spent yesterday making memories with my daughter Tiffany and granddaughter Destiny. Memories I hope they will cherish for a long time because I know we will cherish making memories with them.

We started the day by going down to our fishing pier to see the launch of a Space X rocket from Cape Canaveral. There were a few other people on hand to do the same thing, but everybody kept a good distance from each other, and we all had our masks on, too. Our friend Jesse was there trying out a new fishing rod and caught a skate, which is a cousin to the stingray. Seeing one of those and actually being able to gently touch it was a thrill for Destiny, as was helping it back into the water and watching it swim off.

Then we drove to Titusville to explore the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. Our first stop was at the visitor center, which has many interesting displays about the wildlife that lives there. Destiny picked up a few little souvenirs in the gift shop, and then we went out back to a boardwalk that makes a loop of about 1/4 mile or so. There is a lake back there, and the first thing we saw was a large alligator sunning on a ramp on the other side of the lake. It was so big that at first Terry thought it was not real and was put there for the tourists, but then it proved her wrong by getting up and going back into the water. There were also two huge turtles on the same ramp next to the gator and they seemed to be getting along just fine.

From there, we drove the Black Point Wildlife Drive, seven miles of one-way road winding through the reserve. This is always a popular spot for photographers, and since our son Travis recently passed his Panasonic Lumix FZ40 digital camera on to Destiny, the very same camera that Terry used for many years taking excellent photographs for the Gypsy Journal, it was a good opportunity for her to get a chance to try it out.

It took her a while to get a feel for it, but once she did, she showed that she’s got some natural talent, just like her Uncle Travis and Grandma Terry. I found myself stopping the truck often so the two of them could take pictures, mostly of birds. Lots and lots of birds.

There were white birds like egrets and blue and gray birds like herons, but I don’t know enough about the different kinds of birds to identify most of them. We have a couple of excellent birding books, but we never seem to remember to bring them with us when we make this drive.

One bird I do know is the roseate spoonbill. These are probably Terry’s favorite birds, and she never passes up the chance to take a picture of one.

There was also a small egret that had all four of us laughing because we stopped to take its picture, and then it ran along beside the truck for a short distance before we stopped to take another picture of something. When we did, it stopped with us and stood next to the truck until we started moving again, and then it kept pace with us. Of course, we weren’t driving all that fast, but it seemed like he wanted to hang out with us for a while. A couple of times he seemed to have lost interest in us because he stopped to grab a bite to eat from whatever he saw along the way, but then he would come flying up beside the truck and land again and run alongside us some more. This went on for probably half a mile, with us stopping to take pictures and him stopping with us and then running or flying right alongside us again. I told Destiny maybe it was her spirit animal.

This drive is one of our favorite places for showing visitors alligators, and it’s not uncommon to see a dozen or more in the seven miles. But right now, the water level is very high, and most of the places where we normally see alligators lounging in the sun are underwater. But we did spot one and spend some time taking its picture.

By the time we finished the drive and took a lot more pictures than I have room to post here, we had all worked up an appetite, so we went to Dixie Crossroads for dinner. This is always one of our favorite seafood restaurants, and we’ve never been disappointed. Destiny and I did pause long enough for somebody to take a picture of us, but not too long because we were really hungry!

We’re off to make some more memories today, which I’ll be telling you about soon.

Thought For The Day – I always mean what I say. I may not mean to say it out loud, but I mean it.

They’re Here

 Posted by at 12:40 am  Nick's Blog
Jan 132022
 

My daughter Tiffany and her fourteen-year-old daughter Destiny were scheduled to arrive at the Daytona Beach International Airport at 11:24 yesterday morning. We got a bit of a late start leaving, and traffic was heavier than usual, but we still got to the arrival gate at 11:10, only to read a display is saying that the flight would not arrive until 11:54. That confused me because I had checked FlightAware before we left the house and saw that it was in the air and almost to Florida. A moment later, I saw people with carry-on luggage coming out of the arrival gate, and there were the girls, ten minutes early. I have no idea why the display was wrong.

Unfortunately, they picked what is apparently going to be the coldest week of the year for their visit. The high yesterday was only 70 degrees, and I don’t think it reached that for more than a few minutes. On the way home, we drove down the beach and there were not very many people out because it was such a cold and windy day. The ocean seemed to be agitated with a lot of surf, but there was only one surfer out on the water.

We stopped at the house so the girls could drop off their luggage and change clothes, then we drove to Goodrich Seafood to get a bite to eat. The wind seemed to have died down by then, so we decided to eat on the back deck overlooking the water. It turned out to be a bad idea because the wind picked up again by the time we got seated and we shivered our way through our meal.

Destiny was looking forward to seeing our fishing pier, so when we left the restaurant we drove down there, where a couple of pelicans were on hand to greet the girls.

Even better was a pod of dolphins which were swimming in close to the pier and rolling in the water. Destiny had never seen dolphins before and she was able to get some good video with her phone. How cool is that?

I took a picture of these three pretty ladies I have hanging out with me for the next week. Eat your hearts out, guys.

And don’t ask me to explain this one. I think they were checking out the oysters that grow close to the edge of the dock or looking for hermit crabs. Or maybe they were just tired from their long flight.

As most of you know, we planted some fruit trees last year. The only one that has produced much so far has been the tangelo tree since the nursery told us to pinch off the immature buds the first year. I left one bud on it to grow and see what happened and ended up with a large fruit. Destiny picked it and cut it in half and it looked pretty good, and it tasted even better! I’m looking forward to a lot more of those.

If I couldn’t explain the two goofballs laying on the dock, I can’t explain this picture either. Blame it on jet lag.

In spite of the bad weather, they timed their trip right for one thing. There is going to be a rocket launch from Cape Canaveral this morning, and they’re excited about seeing it. Then I don’t know what we will do for the rest of the day, but I’m sure we will find something fun. Maybe a trip through the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge so Destiny can see an alligator or two.

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 – No matter how big a hammer you use, you can’t pound common sense into stupid people.

 

Today’s The Day!

 Posted by at 12:36 am  Nick's Blog
Jan 122022
 

We’ve been looking forward to it for quite a while now and it’s finally here. Today is the day that my daughter Tiffany and granddaughter Destiny arrive from our old hometown of Show Low, Arizona for a visit. Tiffany has been here a couple of times already, and we always have a great time with her, but this will be Destiny’s first trip to Florida, along with her first airplane ride. Actually, two rides because they flew from Phoenix to Charlotte, North Carolina last night, had a layover there, and this morning they fly to Daytona Beach. As I’m sure you can imagine, we are all very excited!

In the meantime, Miss Terry has been in a frenzy trying to get the house just right for the girls’ visit, and I have been planning things to do to entertain them while they are here. Destiny helped out by sending a To Do list to make my life easier. What a kid!

I had hoped to get the batteries swapped out in my pontoon boat before they arrived, but I need help getting them up into the boat because they are too heavy for my bad back. Hopefully I can get my buddy Jesse to help me out with it in the next couple of days, but he works a lot of long hours and I hate to impose on him any more than I have to.

I may not be posting a blog every day while the girls are here, or it might be a smaller blog than usual or even a repost of an earlier blog. Spending time with them is our priority. I’m also going to skip this week’s blog drawing because I just don’t have the time to approve all of the entries and to delete the duplicate and multiple entries we get every week.

In yesterday’s blog I told you about my new CPAP machine, and I have to say I was somewhat apprehensive about trying to sleep with it on. But I was very surprised that it wasn’t nearly as invasive as I thought it would be, and I actually had a very good night’s sleep. I got up twice to go to the bathroom, which is normal, but I didn’t find myself tossing and turning all night long like I normally do, and I didn’t wake up gasping for breath like I sometimes do. So that’s a plus. In fact, according to the app that comes with the machine so you can monitor your progress, it shows my score was 95 out of 100. I don’t think that’s too bad for the first time out. Something else we both noticed was that I usually nod off for a half-hour or so watching the news in the early evening after dinner, but that didn’t happen yesterday. If things continue like this I will be very happy.

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 –  Confidence isn’t walking into a room thinking you are better than everyone, it’s walking into a room and not having to compare yourself to anyone at all.

It’s Official

 Posted by at 12:48 am  Nick's Blog
Jan 112022
 

I am officially a fat old fart. Yesterday I was outfitted with a CPAP machine. I have had sleep apnea for years and it’s been getting worse over time. I was prescribed the machine several months ago, but like with so many consumer goods, there is a shortage of them and it just came in.

Being somewhat claustrophobic, I was envisioning some type of full face mask that would only add to that problem. So I was surprised to learn it’s basically just a soft plastic piece that fits under my nose and is connected to a hose that attaches to the top of the mask on one end and to the machine on the other. I guess we’ll see how it works out.

Since it was after 5 o’clock when we left the office where we picked up the machine, we had planned to go to Stavro’s Pizza for dinner, which was just a block or so away. But I had forgotten that they are closed for remodeling, so that was out of the question. Our second choice was Alberto’s Italian Restaurant, but as it turns out, they were closed. So we ended up at Boston Fish House, which is fine because it is excellent. Terry tried their blackened swordfish and loved it, and I went with the seafood linguine with shrimp and scallops. What a fine meal it was!

Back at home, I downloaded the MyAir app to my smartphone, which will give me reports on how my body is adjusting to the ResMed AirSense 11 CPAP machine and how it affects my sleeping patterns. But, for the life of me, I could not get the Bluetooth on the device to connect to the phone. After following their instructions and trying several times, I gave up and went online, and in a Reddit thread on the machines I found a back door way in. By turning the machine on and then turning my phone’s Bluetooth off and back on, I got it to it recognize the machine and let me enter the serial number, and it was all good to go. I’ll be heading to bed soon and we’ll see how it goes.

A cold front is coming through the area, and we are in for a chilly, windy day today, with highs in the low to mid-60s and wind gusts at 25 mph. It’s supposed to be back up to around 70 when Tiffany and her daughter arrive tomorrow, which will feel balmy to them after coming from snowy northern Arizona. The weatherman is saying that the next ten days are usually the coldest of the year here in Central Florida but I’m hoping the weather will cooperate enough that we can get out and show the girls a good time while they are here.

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 came from my friend Jim Harper, and I bet I could beat that score if I tried.

Thought For The Day – The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts. – Bertrand Russell  

Not Worth The Risk

 Posted by at 12:28 am  Nick's Blog
Jan 102022
 

In yesterday’s blog I told you that we had gotten my pontoon boat out of the garage and onto the scissor trailer in anticipation of taking my daughter and granddaughter out on the water when they get here, as well as enjoying some fishing.

The boat comes with two batteries, though it only needs one to operate, and the second is a backup. I noticed last season that one of the batteries would not hold a charge for very long. Yesterday I hooked a hose to the water intake of the four-stroke Yamaha outboard motor before starting it to make sure it was going to run okay, and both batteries were dead, even though I have a battery disconnect switch. I put a charger on them and let them charge for about three hours, and one would turn the motor over but was very weak, and the other one wouldn’t do a thing. I might be able to charge these up if I give them long enough, but it’s not worth the risk of being out on the water and having a problem. So today or tomorrow, I will run down to AutoZone or someplace like that and buy a couple of deep-cycle marine batteries. I’d rather spend the money now on new batteries and avoid any hassle later.

Speaking of fishing, I have told you before that we have some of the finest redfish fishing in the world right out our back door in the Intracoastal Waterway and Mosquito Lagoon. My neighbor and friend Jesse Bolton went out on a fishing charter in the Lagoon yesterday and caught this 32-inch redfish. That’s something Jesse has been looking forward to doing for a long time, and he said it put up a heck of a fight. I wasn’t there, but I was thrilled for Jesse to cross that off his bucket list. Unfortunately, Florida has a slot limit on redfish, and an angler can only keep one if it measures between 18 to 27 inches long, so Jesse had to let it go. But I wouldn’t be a bit surprised to hear he kissed it goodbye first. Congratulations, buddy, good work!

In yesterday’s blog, I told you that my friend Cleve Sylcox just released 13 Steps, the fourth book in his David Winter mystery series. But until blog reader Paul Tolsma reminded me, I had forgotten that the first book in the series, Fly Paper Soup, is also free on Amazon. Download your copy today.

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 comes from my pal DC Stultz, who obviously has a better grasp of mathematics than whoever painted this sign.

Congratulations, Robert Stone, winner of our drawing for a copy of the new hardcover edition of the RV camping journal donated by Barbara House. Barbara makes several variations of these, and they all have pages where you can list the date, weather, where you traveled to and from that day, beginning and ending mileage, campground information including amenities at RV sites, a place for campground reviews, room to record activities, people met along the way, reminders of places to see and things to do the next time you’re in the area, and a page for notes for each day. We had 35 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 – It’s hard to win an argument with a smart person, but it’s damn near impossible to win an argument with a stupid person.

We Have Been Busy

 Posted by at 1:02 am  Nick's Blog
Jan 092022
 

My daughter Tiffany and her daughter Destiny will be here in just a few days, and in the meantime, Terry and I have been very busy trying to get some things wrapped up before they arrive. So in today’s blog I will try to bring you up to date.

I mentioned the other day that our friends Aaron Borovoy and Peter Ambrose were in our area for a while, and after having dinner with them at Dustin’s Bar-B-Q one night, on another day, they came over and spent some time with us here at the house. They really wanted to see a manatee, and usually we have a lot of them in the canal here in our little subdivision. So we took them down to check it out, and as luck would have it, there were no manatees to be seen. I think this is the first time we’ve ever not spotted at least one or two in the canal, and sometimes as many as 30 or 40. Due to the loss of seagrass that they eat, Florida’s manatees are starving, and we have had over 1,100 of them die in the last year. That breaks my heart because I love those big, gentle creatures.

When we took Aaron and Peter over to our fishing pier, we did see some dolphins playing in the water, which is always cool. I have seen all kinds of watercraft going up and down the Intracoastal Waterway, everything from kayaks to fishing boats to yachts, but when this big boy came through it really caught our attention. It’s the multipurpose vessel Snell and is operated by the US Army Corps of Engineers. Launched in 1945, it was originally called the Seaplane Wrecking Derrick YSD-78, and assigned to the Sixth Naval District at Charleston, SC. It was transferred to the Corps of Engineers and renamed Snell in 1960, and used as a dredge/snagboat. It’s usually based out of Wilmington, NC, but has worked as far away as Galveston, Texas, setting floating buoys, repairing piers, clearing channels, and doing other tasks.

Though we got skunked on seeing a manatee, Aaron said I redeemed myself when I remembered at the very last minute that there was a Space X rocket launch scheduled and hustled everybody outside to see it lift off. We see so many launches here that we’ve come to take them for granted, but for someone just visiting the area, it’s quite a treat.

That was on Thursday, then on Friday, we went back to the Ram dealer in Palatka so they could install the new trim piece around the radio console in the Laramie to replace the ugly one it shipped from the factory with.

Being an old car nut, I got a treat yesterday when we went to Hibachi Grill & Supreme Buffet in Daytona Beach with Jennifer and Jesse and Dennis and Tami. As we were arriving, the owner of this beautiful 1958 Lincoln was getting ready to leave. He was gracious enough to let me take a couple of pictures of it and told me that it had not been restored. He purchased it in that condition and only had to do some minor engine work on it. Now that’s a classy ride!

We had a great time at dinner with our friends, and then when we got home, Jesse and Dennis helped us get the pontoon boat onto the scissor trailer and out of the garage. Even though I once took an Army truck driving school and could back an 18-wheeler up with little problem back in the day, I am terrible at backing boats and small trailers and such. But Jesse is a pro, and it took him no time at all to slip it in next to the garage where I wanted it to be. I want to get it cleaned up and make sure everything is running right before the girls get here, so we can take them out on the water.

Big Lake Ranger is still setting in the world on fire, with very nice sales. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate the support of so many of my readers. People are asking me when my next book will be out, but I won’t start any projects until after the girls leave because we want to give them all of our attention and time while they are here. But if you like reading mysteries, my friend Cleve Sylcox just released 13 Steps, the fourth book in his David Winter mystery series. Check it out.

And finally, here’s a chuckle to start your day from the collection of funny signs we see in our travels and that our readers share with us. If you cut yourself on this sign, don’t blame me. You’ve been warned.

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

To enter, click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name (first and last) in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn 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 – Gut feelings are guardian angels.