Nick Russell

She’s Ready To Go

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dec 282020
 

My Bennington pontoon boat has been sitting in the garage way too long. Between my back problems that pretty much incapacitated me for many months and then the hot nasty summer here in Florida, it’s been pretty much a garage queen for well over a year. But my back is doing better, and the weather is cooling down, and it’s time to get out on the water!

The boat is a 20-foot fishing model, equipped with two live wells, four swivel fishing seats, a Garmin fish/depth finder, and just about every option I could ever want or need. I bought it used, but it had only been on the water two or three times because the previous owner’s wife told him he could have the boat or he could have her, but he couldn’t have both. I guess that old thing of “Just do whatever the hell you want to do” really isn’t true after all, is it? So between us two owners, I think it’s been in the water a total of six or seven times. I definitely plan to remedy that this winter.

Besides the fishing seats and the captain’s chair, there’s also an L shaped couch with cushions that lift up for storage and a padded lounger if you want to stretch out and work on your tan.

The lounger lifts up to reveal storage area for the batteries and cargo, and a while back, I acquired a portable changing room from another pontoon boat owner. I don’t see us changing clothes when we’re out on the water, but there is room for a porta potty in there. You know what they say about guys out on the water, they can just “hang it over the side,” but a lady needs her privacy, right? So yesterday Terry and I (mostly Terry) set up the changing room. It didn’t come with all the parts, so we had to fabricate a base for it and then attach the frame to that base.

Then it was a case of attaching the zippered fabric curtain on the frame, and we were good to go.

I even talked Terry into posing for a picture. She said it’s not as roomy as the two bathrooms here at our house, but sometimes a girl’s gotta go, and this will do the trick.

Tomorrow I hope to get the boat out of the garage and then hook up a set of “earmuffs” and a hose to it and see if it will fire up after sitting for so long. I put stabilizer in the fuel after the last time I used it, but it’s been a while, so I guess we’ll just have to see what happens. And trust me, if it does start, it won’t be long before I’m out on the water!

Congratulations Cathie Laurent, winner of our drawing for an audiobook of Big Lake Lynching, the second book in my Big Lake mystery series. We had 39 entries this time around. Stay tuned, a new contest starts soon.

Thought For The Day – I don’t mean to interrupt people. I just randomly remember things and get really excited.

Stuck In Park

 Posted by at 12:27 am  Nick's Blog
Dec 272020
 

Help! I seem to be stuck in Park and am not able to get myself back in gear.

As I said in yesterday’s blog, I didn’t do much at all Christmas Day except chat with some friends online, do an online jigsaw puzzle, and cook steaks on the grill.

My plan for yesterday was to get the pontoon boat onto its trailer and out in the driveway, but I just couldn’t seem to get myself motivated enough to do it. Maybe it was because it was still pretty chilly out, somewhere in the low 50s, or maybe just because I’m lazy. Either way, I had all the energy and drive of a sloth.

In fact, I couldn’t get myself motivated to do much of anything. After a breakfast of one of Terry’s delicious cinnamon rolls and a cup of hot chocolate, I answered a few emails and then opened my latest book manuscript and stared at it for a while. Then I put it away and goofed around on Facebook for an hour or so, answering questions in a couple of authors groups I belong to and deleting some rude comments in an RV group I help administer.

Finally, sometime around 5 o’clock in the afternoon, I decided to write this blog. And then I parked myself in my recliner and watched a little TV and snoozed a little (okay, in truth I snoozed a lot and watched a little TV). And that was about it. If I don’t get a move on today, Miss Terry may call a couple of neighbors over to help drag my fat butt to the curb. Lord knows I’m much too big for her to try kicking me there. She’d be walking with a limp for a month!

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

Today is your last chance to enter our Free Drawing for an audiobook of Big Lake Lynching, the second book in my Big Lake mystery series. To enter, click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name (first and last) in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn this evening.

Thought For The Day – The casinos are now offering curbside pickup. Call ahead and they come out and take your money right from your car.

A Quiet Christmas

 Posted by at 12:27 am  Nick's Blog
Dec 262020
 

How is everybody doing today? Did Santa Claus bring you everything you wanted for Christmas? If not, maybe it’s because you are not a good little boy or girl. But then again, being naughty has its benefits, too. Right?

We had a quiet Christmas here at home, just the two of us. The morning started out with a group video call from my daughter Tiffany and her family in Arizona and my son Travis and his wife in Alabama. That was a lot of fun, and we got to see all the grandkids and just had a good visit. It’s not the same thing as getting together in person, but we do what we can given the current situation.

I was feeling lazy and didn’t want to work yesterday, so I didn’t. Instead, I spent some time doing an online jigsaw puzzle, chatted with a couple of friends on Facebook, and basically just goofed off. Sometimes it feels good not to do anything.

For most of the years that we were on the road as fulltime RVers, our Christmas tradition was to go to a Chinese restaurant for Christmas dinner. But since we haven’t been to a restaurant since March, we didn’t see any reason to change now. It’s kept us alive and healthy to this point. So instead, we decided to cook some steaks on the grill. Terry had gotten a couple of nice ones at the local meat market, and I wheeled our big stainless steel grill out of the garage and fired it up. The steaks came out perfect and were absolutely delicious.

Terry also made some of her amazing cinnamon rolls, and a couple of hours after dinner we had them for dessert, and that’s exactly what they were, amazing. I took a plate of them across the street to our neighbors Jesse and Jennifer, and a little while later Jennifer sent me a message raving about how good they were.

We ended the day watching the Christmas special of Call the Midwife on PBS. Like I said, a quiet, laid back Christmas.

And while we may be in Florida, the cold front that came through this area had me thinking we were someplace much farther North. The 11:00 o’clock news last night said the temperature had dropped 28 degrees from the same time the day before. I don’t doubt that for a minute.

Terry and I don’t usually exchange Christmas gifts, because when we want something we just go get it. However. I did buy her an AeroGarden kit that included the Bounty Elite Artisan indoor hydroponic gardening system and a separate smaller Sprout system, along with plant food and seed pods. which actually arrived a while before Christmas. People have been asking me how the stuff she planted is doing, so here are a couple of pictures. The first ones, from left to right, are thyme, Genovese basil, and chives.

And these are cilantro, cherry tomatoes, and Italian parsley.

And, last but not least, are the strawberry plants. They have already gotten several flowers on them and are doing great.

Be sure to enter our latest Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an audiobook of Big Lake Lynching, the second book in my Big Lake mystery series. To enter, click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name (first and last) in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn Sunday evening.

Thought For The Day – If my wife bought me a Taser for Christmas I would absolutely get curious to see how it feels and taze myself, which is why my wife didn’t buy me a Taser for Christmas.

Merry Christmas

 Posted by at 12:10 am  Nick's Blog
Dec 252020
 

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Seasons Greetings, or whatever sounds best to you. Wherever you are and whoever you are with today, I hope you are surrounded by love and happiness. No matter what your religious beliefs are, if any, this is a time of year to be happy.

You have more important things to do today than sitting there reading blogs. Go spend time with your loved ones, and we’ll get together tomorrow.

Be sure to enter our latest Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an audiobook of Big Lake Lynching, the second book in my Big Lake mystery series. To enter, click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name (first and last) in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn Sunday evening.

Thought For The Day – Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

A Tale Of Two Mixers

 Posted by at 11:38 am  Nick's Blog
Dec 242020
 

It’s no secret that Miss Terry loves to cook; it’s one of the many things she excels at. And there is no question about it, I enjoy all the wonderful things she makes.

Over the years, she has accumulated many top-quality kitchen tools and appliances, which she takes very good care of and appreciates. So she was dismayed a few days ago when her trusty old Vita-Mix Maxi 4000 Commercial mixer stopped working while she was making breakfast smoothies. This is a big, heavy monster that she has had for at least 30 years, long before I came into the picture. She flipped the switch on and off a few times, and we checked the outlet it was plugged into to see if she had tripped a circuit breaker, and found nothing wrong. Nothing except that it was, as the old saying goes, deader than a doornail.

Well, we can’t have that, can we? A true craftsperson in the kitchen must have the proper tools, don’t you think? So I went online to Amazon and found a replacement, a Vita-Mix 5200 professional grade mixer-blender. It was not cheap, but you get what you pay for. So yes, I bought my wife a mixer for Christmas. And no, I won’t be in trouble, because it’s something that she wanted to have. It is supposed to be delivered here sometime today.

Yesterday, Terry unplugged the old Vita-Mix unit to take it out to the garage because she just wasn’t ready to part company with it, and I heard her say something like, “Oh damn!” I went to the kitchen to see what was wrong, and she pushed the button, and the old Vita-Mix came to life.

It turns out that it has a push-button circuit breaker in the back of the unit which neither one of us realized or remembered after all these years. It was popped out, and as soon as Terry pushed it in to reset it, the Vita-Mix was as good as new again. Does anybody want a great deal on a new mixer?

In yesterday’s blog, I told you that we wanted to get our pontoon boat out of the garage and ready for the season. The first step to doing that was to get the scissor trailer out from where it sits next to our garage. My neighbor Jesse Bolton had offered to come over and help sometime over the three day weekend, but we are supposed to have a big storm coming in tonight or sometime tomorrow. I didn’t want the ground to get all soggy before we tried to move the heavy trailer, so I decided yesterday that Terry and I would do it. That job didn’t turn out to be nearly as easy as I thought it would.

The trailer has been sitting in one place for about 16 months, and the tires and the front crank down wheel, and the wood they had been sitting on, had all sunken into the ground. We pushed it in by hand when we parked it because there is no room to get a vehicle between the garage and the drainage canal that borders our property.

It took quite a while to get it out, and I wound up having to back the Explorer up as close to it as I could, attach a heavy-duty tow strap to the trailer, and pull it out a little bit at a time. The darn front wheel kept turning sideways, carving a rut in the area where we just planted our perennial peanuts a while back. Using a two by four as a lever and a block of wood as a fulcrum, I was able to push down enough to get the tongue up enough that Terry could put a piece of wood under that wheel and some more wood in front of it. I would pull until we got to the end of the wood and then start the whole procedure over again. It was not fun, and I really should have waited to bother Jesse about it, but the poor guy works hard all the time and I hate to add to his load.

At any rate, once we got it free, I put the trailer hitch into the receiver in the back of the Explorer and found out that it’s too high for the trailer. So then I had to put the hitch in the F-150 and use it to pull the trailer completely out, and then back it in again on the cement parking apron on the other side of the garage.

By the time we were finished, we were both hot and sweaty and hurting, but we got the job done. One step in the process out of the way.

Once we got that project done, I managed to crank out another 2,000 words in my next John Lee Quarrels book, then we had a light dinner. We tried to watch TV after dinner, but we were so worn out that we both kept nodding off, so we called it an early night.

My latest book, Big Lake Hoarder, which came out earlier this month, is still on the charts at number 16 on Amazon’s Hot New Release list for mysteries and police procedures, and in some very good company. Thank you, everybody, for your support.

It’s Thursday, so it’s time for a new Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an audiobook of Big Lake Lynching, the second book in my Big Lake mystery series. To enter, click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name (first and last) in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn Sunday evening.

Thought For The Day – Age 60 might be the new 40, but 9 p.m. is the new midnight.

Dec 232020
 

This is our lovely daughter-in-law, Geli, getting her first dose of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine yesterday morning. Geli is a nurse and works at a hospital in Birmingham and has been dealing with Covid patients since the very start of the pandemic. We and her husband, my son Travis, have all been worried to death about her, hoping that she did not contract that. Late yesterday afternoon, she said her arm was a bit tender, but not as bad as the flu shot was this year.

At first, we weren’t sure when, or even if, she would get the vaccine due to short supplies. But then, on Sunday, she was told that it would be on Tuesday because many hospital employees declined to get it. One down, 330 million Americans, more or less, to go!

I don’t know why anybody would hesitate to get the vaccine, especially healthcare workers. Every one of them I know can’t wait to get to the front of the line. I keep hearing all the nonsense about microchips and all kinds of other crap, and that’s what it is, nonsense put forth by the conspiracy theory crowd. There’s no sense trying to talk sense into that bunch. I just hope they keep their unmasked faces far away from me.

Other people say that they don’t trust a vaccine that was created in just nine months. What people don’t understand is, it wasn’t created in nine months. Scientists have been working on vaccines for viruses for decades. This is just the latest version. It’s like saying you don’t trust a car with an automatic transmission because the car you learned to drive in had a standard shift. Things evolve. It’s called science, baby.

Now that cooler weather is here (the high on Christmas Day is only supposed to be 51), we are looking forward to getting out on the water. As many of you know, I bought a nice Bennington pontoon boat all set up for fishing that hasn’t been in the water much since I bought it two years ago due to my back problems. Now that that seems to be in control, I definitely want to use it.

Because our garage door is not high enough to let the pontoon boat get in on a regular trailer, we had to buy a scissor trailer, which cranks up and down. That allows us to put the boat almost on the ground and back it into the garage.

Then I put four heavy-duty dollies under the pontoons and crank it all the way down and take the trailer out, saving space.

But it is a hassle to get it in and out all the time, so I’m thinking very strongly about pulling the boat outside and just leaving it out on the trailer for the winter months so we can use it more often. We have a nice cover that protects it completely from sun damage. We also want to get our kayaks out and get them wet, too.

Speaking of being on the water, the shrimp are starting to run here. A neighbor told me he was out a few nights ago and got two and a half gallons of shrimp in a little over two hours. We need to get our dip nets wet, too, I guess.

Thought For The Day – It’s no fun not having anything to do. What’s fun is having something to do and not doing it.

Last Q&A Of The Year

 Posted by at 12:47 am  Nick's Blog
Dec 222020
 

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. When you had your RV, did you take the battery out over the winter season? And if so, was it still charged when you put it back in?
A. We fulltimed, so that was never an issue. However, when we bought our place here, we put the RV in storage with the batteries disconnected. Even so, four months later, they were dead. My suggestion is to plug a trickle charger into them if you have a place to get power for it.

Q. Forgive what is probably a dumb question, but I’m very curious. I know that they make weaving yarn from sheep’s wool, and I think alpaca too. A friend told me she made yarn from her dogs’ hair, but not sure if she was pulling my leg or not. You said the blanket Terry made is from Shetland wool. Is that from Shetland ponies?
A. Shetland wool comes from Shetland sheep, a popular breed from the Shetland Islands. And yes, people really do spin their pets’ hair to make yarn.

Q. I seem to recall that you and Terry were lifetime members of Escapees and Passport America? What happened to those memberships once you hung up the keys and stopped RVing?
A. Nothing really happened to them. We still get the Escapes magazine, and I imagine if we ever got another RV, we could use our Passport America membership.

Q. I like to listen to audiobooks when we are on the road and have listened to the eight you have out now. Will you ever be bringing any more of your books out as audiobooks?
A. I actually have twelve audiobooks out but do not expect to release any more of them. While many authors I know do very well with audiobooks, my sales have always been dismal. The time and expense to produce them do not justify the return.

Q. I have been a reader for many years, and you have told us about so many favorite places you and Terry have visited. What about places you didn’t like, or that were a disappointment, and why?
A. Though many RV snowbirds love spending the winter in the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, the three or four times we visited that area, we did not like it at all. To us, it was just blah. Busy, dusty, flat, and brown landscape with not many trees. Key West, Florida, was also a disappointment. While we love the middle keys, Key West is just too crowded, too touristy, and not our style. And even though it’s an island, there are only a couple of public beaches and access to the water is limited. If you are not into bar hopping or spending money, once you see the few tourist attractions, that’s about it. We spent eight days there on a friend’s houseboat in the marina and drove back up to Marathon Key at least half of those days.

Q. You have not mentioned playing darts in a long time. I liked hearing about your informal competitions. Have you stopped that?
A. We quit playing when my back was so bad because the pain would not allow me to. Terry and I have played a few games since my RF ablations, but not many. We need to get back into that.

Q. We are staying at a campground near where my wife is undergoing cancer treatment and will be here for several months. The campground refuses to accept mail for guests, so we have to have our mail forwarding service send it general delivery to the post office, but the one we have to go to pick it up is fifteen miles away with a lot of heavy traffic. Do you have any suggestions on an easier way to get our mail?
A. First of all, we wish your wife well as she deals with her illness and recovery. If there is a UPS store or Safe Ship location near the campground, you could rent a temporary mailbox from them. Google ‘personal mailboxes near me.’ I’m sure you will find something.

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

Thought For The Day – I told my wife I wanted to be cremated. She made me an appointment for Tuesday.

Dec 212020
 

Judge Roy Bean, the famous Hanging Judge from Langtry, Texas, was a larger than life Old West figure, and it is sometimes hard to separate fact from fiction when talking about his adventures. This is further complicated because Bean was a shameless self-promoter who made up plenty of wild tales about his exploits, and then dime novels and Hollywood came along to further muddy the waters. But there is no doubt that the old judge was the Law West of the Pecos, and many a rustler and outlaw paid the price for their deeds when brought before Judge Roy Bean.

Born in Mason County, Kentucky in 1825, Roy Bean, grew up poor and left home at age sixteen in search of a better life. Ending up in San Antonio, Texas, he went to work for his older brother Samuel, hauling freight into Mexico.

By 1848, the brothers had opened a trading post in the Mexican state of Chihuahua, but Roy Bean soon fled the area after being charged with murder for killing a Mexican outlaw. He landed in San Diego, California and moved in with another brother, Joshua. More troubled followed, and in 1852 he was charged with wounding another man in a duel. A female admirer smuggled a knife to Bean, who used it to dig through the adobe wall of his cell and escape.

There are many tales of Bean’s time in California, but again, it is sometimes hard to separate fact from fiction. He lived in San Gabriel for a time, where he inherited a saloon after his brother was murdered. One story has Bean single-handedly tracking down the killers and dispatching frontier justice.

Another story has Bean courting a beautiful young Mexican girl, who was kidnapped and forced to marry another man. Bean killed the husband in a duel, and in response, the man’s friends tried to lynch him. But the bride, who had been hiding and watching the proceedings, sprang forward at the last minute and cut him free. Bean reportedly was left with a permanent rope burn on his neck and a perpetually stiff neck Shortly after that, he left California and moved to New Mexico to live with his brother Samuel again, who had migrated there a few years earlier.

During the Civil War, Bean was reported to be busy smuggling Texas cotton from San Antonio to British ships off the coast of Mexico, and supplies back into Texas. For many years after the war ended Bean managed to make a living in and around San Antonio, always skirting right on the edge of the law.

For a time he operated a firewood business until it was discovered that he was illegally cutting the wood on someone else’s land. Than he ran a butcher shop until it was found that the meat he was selling came from rustled cattle. His next enterprise was a dairy, but that didn’t last long because he was caught watering down the milk.

By the late 1870s, Roy Bean was in a bad marriage, had several children, and was running a saloon in a run down Mexican neighborhood of San Antonio. He was so universally disliked by the rest of the business community that when he started talking about moving west, a collection was quickly taken up to help him leave town.

Bean abandoned his wife and four children and followed the railroads as they moved westward, setting up tent saloons and selling whiskey to railroad laborers. He settled in present day Langtry, Texas, squatting on land he did not own, and managed to get himself appointed as Justice of the Peace. Bean held court in his saloon, and for the next twenty years, he was the Law West of the Pecos.

Bean’s courtroom was his personal fiefdom, and he operated under his own rules, much to the dismay of the State of Texas. He chose his jurors from his saloon customers and required them to purchase a drink during every court recess. While he was known as the Hanging Judge, there is no evidence that Bean ever actually sentenced anyone to death. After all, you can’t sell whiskey to a dead man.

When an Irishman named Paddy O’Rourke shot a Chinese laborer, Bean ruled that while it was illegal to kill a human being, his law book did not say anything about killing a Chinaman.

All cases in Bean’s court were resolved with fines, usually whatever the defendant had in his pockets at the time. Bean refused to send the state any portion of the fines he took in. On occasion, he would look over the prisoners awaiting trial, and if he knew they had no money, Bean would turn them loose without a trial. “We don’t get anything if we try them, so why bother?” he is reported to say.

Bean eventually built a wooden saloon, which he named the Jersey Lilly, after a famous actress of the time named Lilly Langtry, whom he was infatuated with. Though he invited her to visit Langtry several times, her one and only brief appearance came after Bean’s death.

Always a legend in his own mind, with grandiose visions, Bean built a simple two room house next to his saloon/courtroom, which he called Roy Bean’s Opera House, Town Hall, and Seat of Justice.

He was a liar, a drunkard, a braggart, an abusive husband, a negligent father, and no doubt a thief. Though there was much not to like about Roy Bean, in his later years he spent most of his money helping the poor people who lived in and around Del Rio and Langtry. Bean always made sure that the school was supplied with firewood in the winter, and many a poor child or widow had food on their table due to Bean’s generosity.

Roy Bean never gave up his hard drinking ways, and he died March 16, 1903 in Langtry following a drunken binge. He was buried in Del Rio, and later his grave was moved to the grounds of the Whitehead Memorial Museum to protect it from vandals and souvenir hunters.

Today Bean’s Jersey Lilly saloon/courtroom and home are part of the state-owned Judge Roy Bean Visitor Center in Langtry, which is sixty miles northwest of Del Rio, just off U.S. Highway 90.

The visitor center includes displays on Judge Roy Bean, the above mentioned buildings, and a desert garden with a handsome wooden windmill. There is no cost to tour the old buildings, which have been carefully restored and are handicapped accessible.

The visitor center does not have a separate parking lot, but there is little traffic in Langtry, and the street in front of the visitor center is wide and has plenty of room for any size RV to park along the curb. The road makes a loop for easy access back to U.S. Highway 90.

Judge Roy Bean was certainly a colorful figure, and it is fun to walk inside the famous Jersey Lilly and think of all the hell raising that went on here. The next time you’re passing through West Texas, take a break in Langtry and pay a call on the Jersey Lilly. Who knows? Maybe you’ll get lucky and feel the ghost of “Ol’ Roy” brushing past you.

Congratulations Jim Garris, winner of our drawing for an audiobook of Dog’s Run, my mystery set in a small Ohio town in 1951. We had 55 entries this time around. Stay tuned, a new contest starts soon.

Thought For The Day – The road to success is always under construction.

It’s Big!

 Posted by at 12:01 am  Nick's Blog
Dec 202020
 

Terry has been a bit under the weather the last few days, but that did not stop her from finishing weaving this beautiful blanket she made for our granddaughter Destiny. It is 100% pure Shetland wool and big, measuring 52×80 inches before the finishing and final processing. I love the colors and patterns. This was her first double width project, and she wasn’t too sure about it going in, but I knew she could do it. She has another one set up on the loom for granddaughter Hailey that will be her next project. And then two more, for granddaughter Britni and grandson Travis. I’m sure they will be just as beautiful.

As for me, I was at least a little bit more productive yesterday than the day before, knocking out a 2,550 word chapter in my new John Lee Quarrels book, then proofing it and printing it out for Terry to go over. If you have not read the John Lee series, it is about a deputy in a rural part of north Florida, and the language and situations are grittier than the Big Lake series.

I also did an online interview with a mystery book reviewer. That was interesting because she has read all my books and tells me she loves them all. She asked some questions about how I developed the characters in my books, how they have grown and evolved, and where I see them going in their lives. She said it feels like she knows those people and they are friends of hers. Yeah, I feel that way about them, too.

Speaking of books; just in time for Christmas my dear friend Mona Ingram has just released The Wish, the sixth book in her Dear Santa Christmas Romances series. Mona is a talented author with a large following of loyal fans, and if you read one of her books, I bet you will be among them.

And in closing, here is another of our funny signs we see in our travels and that our readers share with us. Thanks, Steve Varadi. I know a lot of people can relate to this one.

Today is your last chance to enter our Free Drawing for an audiobook of Dog’s Run, my mystery set in a small Ohio town in 1951. I have 33 mystery novels out, as well as 10 nonfiction books, and I have to say that Dog’s Run is my favorite. It’s a gritty tale that is loosely based upon an actual crime that took place in that part of the country when my father was a young police officer there, and I warn you in advance that there’s some rough language, but it’s appropriate to the time and place. To enter, all you have to do is click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name (first and last) in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn this evening.

Thought For The Day – To the lady who flipped me off when I honked my horn today, I don’t think your cell phone is on the roof of your car anymore.

Just Taking Up Space

 Posted by at 12:09 am  Nick's Blog
Dec 192020
 

I did not get a lot accomplished yesterday except for a teleconference with a nurse practitioner from Dr. Creamer’s office, the doctor that did my RF nerve ablations. They were done six months ago today, and it was a follow-up to see how I am doing. I told her the difference is amazing from how I felt before to now. I still have nagging back pain from other issues, but the near agony I was living with is gone and I feel like I have a new lease on life. There will be another follow-up in a couple of months. The nerve might regenerate eventually, and if it does, we will have to repeat the quick and easy procedure.

After I was done with that, I answered some e-mails, tried to help another author with some problems he was having in his story, wrote and proofed another chapter in my new John Lee Quarrels book, then spent a couple of hours researching things for that book. I also called my friend Orv Hazelton out at the Escapees Club’s Jojoba Hills RV resort in California to wish him happy birthday, and we chatted for a bit.

Neither one of us was very hungry, so for dinner we just had cheese and crackers while watching TV. And that was it. Otherwise, the only thing I accomplished yesterday was to take up space and set a bad example for the rest of the world. Hopefully, today I will be a bit more motivated and get something accomplished. Then again, maybe not. I guess I’ll just have to wait and see what happens.

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

Be sure to enter our latest Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an audiobook of Dog’s Run, my mystery set in a small Ohio town in 1951. I have 33 mystery novels out, as well as 10 nonfiction books, and I have to say that Dog’s Run is my favorite. It’s a gritty tale that is loosely based upon an actual crime that took place in that part of the country when my father was a young police officer there, and I warn you in advance that there’s some rough language, but it’s appropriate to the time and place. To enter, all you have to do is click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name (first and last) in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn Sunday evening.

Thought For The Day – I got myself a senior citizen’s GPS. Not only does it tell me how to get to my destination, when I arrive, it tells me why I wanted to go there in the first place.

Dec 182020
 

As I’ve said before, during my days publishing small town newspapers I always enjoyed a good relationship with the local law enforcement community. At least for the most part. There was one exception that I will talk about some other time. Sometimes this resulted in some wild adventures.

I was doing a ride along with a deputy from the Sheriff’s Department in Grays Harbor County, Washington, once when a chase came over the radio. We were on State Highway 109, about six miles from Ocean Shores, and the license plate of the fleeing vehicle came back to a man with an address in that town. It sounded like he was heading our way, and as they got closer, the deputy I was with parked on the shoulder of the road and told me to get out of the car and stand well off to the side while he deployed stop sticks. If you are not familiar with stop sticks, they are a linked device that is thrown across the road with something akin to nails in them that are designed to perforate a fleeing vehicle’s tires.

A mile behind us, the Ocean Shores Police Department had blocked the road to oncoming traffic. Sure enough, within just a couple of minutes, we could hear the sound of sirens, and they were getting closer. As the vehicle, a beat up old Ford station wagon as I recall, approached, the deputy I was with deployed the stop sticks and managed to perforate three of the four tires. The car sped on for a short distance, maybe 25 yards or so, but then he lost control and spun out.

What happened next, I can only describe as being a pure example of dumb crooks. I don’t know if he was disoriented or what, but the driver of the car jumped out, and instead of running off into the thick forest on either side road, he ran towards the approaching deputies’ vehicles. So much so that it wasn’t until they stopped near us and starting jumping out that he finally took to the woods, almost running me over.

If you have never been in that part of the Pacific Northwest, at the foot of the Olympic Peninsula, the forest is incredibly dense. If Bigfoot really does exist, there is a reason he lives there and has never been caught. Deputies searched for the man, even brought out a K-9 out, be he was long gone. No problem, they went to his house and arrested him there a few hours later.

The deputy took a statement from me since I was on the scene, and a few months later, when the man went to trial, I was subpoenaed to appear. The prosecutor made his case, talking about how the defendant had been seen leaving a tavern in Hoquiam, and how he was seen staggering across the parking lot to his car. About how a Hoquiam police officer had tried to stop him and he had fled, and then sheriff’s deputies joined in the chase. The prosecutor talked about how he had endangered other traffic, sometimes driving on the left side of the road, forcing oncoming cars to get onto the narrow shoulder to avoid a collision. Then he talked about the deployment of the stop sticks, his flight into the woods, and his subsequent arrest. The different deputies involved in the case gave their testimony, and when I was asked to come to the witness stand, I testified to what I had seen.

After the prosecution rested, it was the defense’s turn. The gentleman insisted that he had only had two drinks and wasn’t intoxicated and that he had no idea the police were chasing him for twenty miles. He never almost ran other cars off the road, and there were no stop sticks. He had been driving at a normal speed when suddenly his tires all went flat, so he got out of the car and walked home. He did not run away, and he never saw any of the police and their vehicles, and that was it. As far as he was concerned, none of it had ever happened.

On cross-examination, the prosecutor asked him if he didn’t remember seeing all those police cars behind.

No, he didn’t, because it never happened.

He didn’t remember jumping out of his car and escaping into the woods?

No, that never happened.

He didn’t remember all the police officers shouting for him to stop and put his hands in the air?

No, he didn’t, because it never happened.

Then all of those police officers who had testified about what he had done were lying?

Yes, they were.

Then the prosecutor asked, “So, all of these officers perjured themselves and risked their careers and possible jail time just to frame you?

“Any cop who says I was there is lying,” the guy said. “It was dark, and the only one close enough to see me was that guy,” he said, pointing at me “and he ain’t no cop. I know the law. Only a cop can testify against me in a criminal case. Civilians can only testify in civil cases. That’s why they call them civil cases.”

Everybody in the courtroom started laughing, even the defense attorney. When the judge finally got control of the courtroom again, the case drew to a close, and the judge found the defendant guilty of all of the charges against him.

“This ain’t fair,” he said. “How can you do that when none of those cops saw me?”

I guess the judge couldn’t help it because he asked, “Are you really that dumb?”

Apparently, he was. Go figure.

Be sure to enter our latest Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an audiobook of Dog’s Run, my mystery set in a small Ohio town in 1951. I have 33 mystery novels out, as well as 10 nonfiction books, and I have to say that Dog’s Run is my favorite. It’s a gritty tale that is loosely based upon an actual crime that took place in that part of the country when my father was a young police officer there, and I warn you in advance that there’s some rough language, but it’s appropriate to the time and place. To enter, all you have to do is click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name (first and last) in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn Sunday evening.

Thought For The Day – Never test how deep the water is with both feet.

Dec 172020
 

As I said before, I have used a headset microphone to dictate my books for a long time, and a while back I decided I needed to upgrade so I purchased a Blue Yeti Nano standalone microphone. It took a couple of attempts to get it set up properly and it works, although it’s not perfect. But then again, what is? At the same time, I also bought a Zoom H4n Pro recorder/microphone, which was highly recommended by some people who know a lot more about these kinds of things than I do. I have been trying to learn my way around it the last couple of weeks, knowing that it’s a very sophisticated piece of equipment, and probably overkill for me.

Being Gadget Boy, at first I was very impressed with it, then I segued into being very confused because it has a lot of different options and settings that I will never use and cannot quite master. In fact, just yesterday I told Miss Terry that I thought I might return it before the time to do so expires in January because it was too confusing to work with.

The big issue I had was trying to get it to connect to the computer and make it work properly. It seemed like there were more steps to go to than was worth the effort. Then I looked at a couple of YouTube videos that explained the process much better and using their method I was able to plug it in and get it working pretty quickly. In fact, I’m narrating today’s blog with it.

One problem I have discovered is that I need a longer USB cord to connect it to the computer because all I have is a short one and I am using it with a USB extension cord. It seems like if I even look at it sideways, it loses the connection. When that happens, I have to choose the profile in Dragon all over again and go from there. I guess that will be one of the things I order the next time I’m on Amazon. I have until the end of January before I have to make a decision whether or not to keep it, so I’ll work with it a while longer and see what happens.

When I mentioned in the blog the other day that Terry was growing herbs in her AeroGarden, someone suggested I want might want to grow my own pot. No thanks, I don’t use pot, and since my RF nerve ablations six months ago, I haven’t even used the medical marijuana oil that I have. But there are people who are quite successful in growing their own weed in hydroponic setups.

It’s nothing new. Early in my newspaper career, many years ago, I owned a big Victorian house in Washington state, and the third floor was a massive open attic. A good friend of mine was a narcotics detective who had busted some major hydroponic marijuana grows, and he was helping me upgrade some electrical wiring. We had to go up in the large attic which was fully floored and could have been finished and used as a living space if we needed it, which we didn’t. My friend looked at all that space and then at me and said, “If we could get enough fluorescent lights up here and I could get enough stuff out of the evidence room, we could become gentlemen farmers and retire in a couple of years.” He was kidding, of course. I think.

I have been watering our citrus trees every day, as recommended by Lindley’s Nursery for the first month. The only days I have missed were when it has rained, like yesterday when a large system came in from the West in the afternoon and really dumped on us. As they say, it was a gully washer, so no watering was required. Saturday marks a month since they were planted, and then we switch to watering every other day for a week, and then every third day for a week after that. Then I will water once a week and see how things go.

I’m looking forward to seeing fruit on the trees, though I know that won’t be for quite a while yet, but I think our neighbors are looking forward to it more than we are. Every time I’m out doing something in the yard and see one of them passing by, they tell me that I should not be surprised if I wake up some morning to find the tree stripped bare. Yeah, that’s why we went to all the time and expense, so they could have fresh fruit. I’m a wonderful neighbor. 🙂

It’s Thursday, so it’s time for a new Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an audiobook of Dog’s Run, my mystery set in a small Ohio town in 1951. I have 33 mystery novels out, as well as 10 nonfiction books, and I have to say that Dog’s Run is my favorite. It’s a gritty tale that is loosely based upon an actual crime that took place in that part of the country when my father was a young police officer there, and I warn you in advance that there’s some rough language, but it’s appropriate to the time and place. To enter, all you have to do is click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name (first and last) in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn Sunday evening.

Thought For The Day – I solemnly swear that I am up to no good.

Dec 162020
 

Born into slavery, Sojourner Truth was a remarkable woman who threw off the shackles of oppression to become a leader in social reform in a time when any woman, let alone a black woman, had no business making a public statement.

Named Isabella Baumfree when she was born near Kingston, New York in approximately 1797, she was taken from her family and sold at auction along with a herd of sheep when she was nine years old. She later recalled that her new owner was a brutal and violent man. Over the next two years, the girl, who was called Belle, would be sold twice more; her last owner was a man named John Dumont, who lived in West Park, New York.

It was there that she fell in love with a slave from a neighboring farm and had a daughter, whom she named Diana. But slave owners did not consider the feelings of their property, and marriages were arranged by the masters, who chose who they would be with. The owner of the child’s father forbade him to see her again and the relationship ended. In 1817, Dumont selected an older slave named Thomas to be her husband, and they had three children together, a son named Peter, and two daughters, named Elizabeth and Sophia.

The union was not a happy one, and Belle began to chafe at living under the institution of slavery. She made an arrangement with her master to earn her freedom, but when he reneged on their deal and refused to free her, Belle took her daughter Sophia and escaped in 1826.

The state of New York emancipated all slaves on July 4, 1827, and soon afterward, Truth learned that her former master, John Dumont, had illegally sold her five year old son Peter to someone in Alabama. Truth filed a lawsuit and eventually secured her son’s release and return to New York. It was one of the first cases in which a black woman successfully won a case against a white man in a United States court.

She moved to New York City and worked as a domestic servant for Christian evangelist Elijah Pierson and became a Christian under his influence. In 1843, she changed her name to Sojourner Truth and began working toward the abolition of slavery nationwide.

In 1844, Truth joined the Northampton Association of Education and Industry in Northampton, Massachusetts. The organization was founded by abolitionists and worked toward a reform agenda that included ending slavery, promoting women’s rights, and pacifism. The members lived together in a self-sufficient communal style on 500 acres at Northampton. Although the community disbanded within a few years, her time with them further strengthened Truth’s commitment to the causes she believed in.

She became involved in the Underground Railroad in Florence, Massachusetts, where she lived for many years, and she was instrumental in helping many escaped slaves find refuge among the abolitionist community.

Speaking at the Ohio Women’s Rights Convention in 1851, she delivered her famous Ain’t I a Woman? speech on racial inequality. Later that year, Truth spoke at the first National Women’s Rights Convention in Worcester, Massachusetts, and her memoir The Narrative of Sojourner Truth: A Northern Slave began to make her well-known nationwide, along with Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman, both escaped slaves like herself. She began touring major cities in the northern part of the country, speaking before large groups on the subjects of slavery and human rights. Her audiences were enthralled with her message. Eventually, her fame led Truth to a meeting with President Abraham Lincoln, where she shared her beliefs and her experience as a slave.

During the Civil War, Truth helped to recruit black troops for the Union Army, even encouraging her grandson, James Caldwell, to enlist in the 54th Massachusetts Regiment. In 1864 she was invited to Washington, D.C., to work with the National Freedman’s Relief Association.

The end of the Civil War and the abolition of slavery was no reason for Truth to retire. All of her life she continued to work for social reform. In 1865, she tried to force the desegregation of streetcars in Washington by riding in cars designated for whites. She believed that ownership of their own land would give African-Americans self-sufficiency and put an end to the system that had sprung up after the war, where the same wealthy landowners controlled the lives of black tenant farmers, almost a form of slavery in its own right. Most of her later life was devoted to a movement to secure land grants from the United States government for former slaves, but this would be a cause she would never accomplish.

For as long as she lived, Truth continued to advocate passionately on the things she believed in; women’s rights, universal suffrage, and prison reform. Though she was always controversial and a frequent thorn in the sides of those she opposed, Truth was a close friend to such well-known reformers as Susan B. Anthony, Lucretia Mott, Amy Post, Wendell Phillips, and William Lloyd Garrison.

Late in life, Sojourner Truth moved to Battle Creek, Michigan, where she died at her home on November 26, 1883. She is buried alongside her family at Battle Creek’s Oak Hill Cemetery.

While the woman who dedicated her life to fighting for the things she believed in may be gone, Sojourner Truth’s legacy lives on. American men and women of all colors who live free today owe her a debt of gratitude. A statue of the famed abolitionist stands near her former home in Florence, Massachusetts, and a 12-foot high sculpture of Sojourner Truth was dedicated in 1999, in Battle Creek, Michigan. Both are reminders that it doesn’t matter where we start our lives, it is the path we chose to take from there and what we do along the way that matters.

Thought For The Day – The older I get, the earlier it gets late.

Dec 152020
 

Never underestimate the power of sniveling. If done properly, it can have amazing results. Trust me, I’ve made sniveling my life’s work, and I know of which I speak.

In a blog post a few days ago titled Apparently, I’m Snippy, I wrote that a package I had sent to a friend in Brainerd, Minnesota by Priority Mail had gone missing and I wasn’t getting anywhere with the U.S. Postal Service trying to locate it. In fact, when I talked to a woman at the St. Paul Regional Facility Network Distribution Center, where the package seemed to be languishing for several days, she told me I was snippy and hung up on me. Well, I don’t know if it was my sniveling online or my being snippy to her, but yesterday the package finally arrived at my friend’s house in Brainerd, only 10 days after I sent it. Don’t you love that 2 to 3 day Priority Mail service?

In that same blog post, I wrote about planting Scotts Turf Builder Pensacola Bahiagrass grass seed in our yard where we had pulled out the old tree, and after watering it for a couple of weeks, nothing happened. I said that someone at the company told me that it wouldn’t germinate until warm weather. When I asked why they didn’t tell me that when I asked about the product in the first place, I didn’t get much of an answer.

I guess somebody somewhere heard my sniveling because Sunday afternoon there was still just a big patch of bare earth in the yard, and yesterday afternoon look what I’ve got! Grass about this high all over that patch of dirt. I’m told that it will fill in pretty rapidly once it gets going, and I’m glad to see that. I did not really want to look at all that black dirt until spring.

I’m not the only one with a green thumb. Look at what’s happening with Miss Terry’s AeroGarden. A couple of days ago, these little plants were either just sprouting or were just barely starting to make their way above the cardboard lid of the pods. Look at them now. These are cilantro, cherry tomatoes, and Italian parsley.

And here we have, from left to right, thyme, Genovese basil, and chives.

Now, you all know I don’t do veggies, but that doesn’t mean I don’t eat some things that grow out of the ground. I like potatoes, grapes, bananas, and several other types of fruit. And I love strawberries. Terry ordered several strawberry bareroot plants and planted some of them in the AeroGarden. They look like they’re going to take off really well, don’t they?

Besides checking out the new foliage around our place, I also did some writing yesterday, only getting in about 1,500 words. But I also proofed and corrected all of the stuff I’d written in the two days before that. I have six chapters done now in my new John Lee Quarrels book, and I will print those out for Terry to start editing and proofing today or tomorrow when she needs a break from her loom.

Someone asked me the other day, which is my favorite book of all the books I’ve ever written. That’s like asking someone to tell you who their favorite child is. By the way, when it comes to my children, I do have a favorite. Travis is my favorite son, and Tiffany is my favorite daughter. For quite a while, I felt like Dog’s Run was my favorite book, and I really enjoyed it. Now, I would say that the first two books in my historical family saga, Tinder Street and The Good Years, are running a close competition to Dog’s Run. I think it’s the historical aspect of those books. But really, I like them all. That’s why I wrote them. How about you? Do you have a favorite book among the ones I’ve written? I would be interested to know what it is.

Thought For The Day – Sometimes someone unexpected comes into your life out of nowhere, makes your heart race, and changes you forever. We call those people cops.

Stealth Rockets?

 Posted by at 12:39 am  Nick's Blog
Dec 142020
 

We live on the central Florida coast, just about exactly halfway between Daytona Beach and Cape Canaveral. If you have been reading the blog for very long, you have seen our pictures of rocket launches that we take from our yard, or sometimes from our private fishing pier on the Intracoastal Waterway. I was never into Star Wars or had much at all to do with outer space, but it’s always a thrill to me to see a rocket lift off.

But, to be honest, we’ve seen so many of them over the the four years we’ve been here that we kind of take them for granted sometimes. I guess the folks down at Cape Canaveral wanted to get my attention, because now apparently they are sending off stealth rockets.

A rocket was supposed to go up last Thursday or Friday and the launch got scrubbed, as happens quite often due to weather or technical difficulties. The last I heard, it was rescheduled for Sunday about midday. Even if we are not outside to see the launches, we always hear the rumble and feel the vibration of the booster rockets when they make their reentry and land. But not yesterday. The rocket launch went off sometime while we were having brunch, and we never even heard it. That surprised me, because usually, you can’t miss it. We’ve had them wake us up from a sound sleep sometimes. Yesterday we were definitely awake, we just did not hear the darn thing at all. Yes, I think it was a stealth rocket. That’s the only explanation I can figure out.

I won’t bore you with the details of yesterday, which were basically me working on my new John Lee Quarrels book, and Terry weaving. But I will show you a picture of the beautiful loaf of bread she made yesterday, along with a delicious apple crisp. We had some of the crisp last night for dessert, and we may have French toast with the bread this morning. I think we’ve got some turkey left over from Thanksgiving in the freezer. Hmmm, turkey sandwiches for lunch. There’s a thought.

We are certainly enjoying the cooler weather, although today it is supposed to get back up to around 80 again. Then the temperature will drop down into the 70s the rest of the week. It just doesn’t get much better than that, as far as I’m concerned.

Are you looking for something good to read while you wait for my next John Lee Quarrels book? Have I got a deal for you! Now through the 17th, my pal Cameron Lowe is giving away free copies of his e-book A Shot at Us on Amazon. That’s right, free! How can you get a better deal than that? The book is a contemporary love story for the ages. Spanning a decade and a half, readers will fall for a colorful cast of lovable characters in a fictional city in eastern Montana. Cameron tells me that A Shot at Us is inspired by the classic Christmas movie It’s a Wonderful Life. Check it out, and leave Cameron a good review.

Congratulations Jenise Harper, winner of our drawing for an autographed copy of Toxic, the first book in Leigh Hull’s new Gamer Files series. Find out what happens when professional gamer and cosplayer Athena Dellis’ friend and teammate is murdered at the annual comic book convention. From murder to nerd love, Toxic is the perfect book for geeks who love a good story. We had 37 entries this time around. Stay tuned, a new contest starts soon.

Thought For The Day – When you do squats, are your knees supposed to sound like a goat chewing on an aluminum can stuffed with celery?

Dec 132020
 

I got off to a good start yesterday working on my new John Lee Quarrels mystery and kept at it pretty steadily for most of the day. By the time I knocked off late in the afternoon, I had done 5,575 words, which is a pretty good day’s writing. Or dictating, in my case.

I saved the file and then closed it, and a moment later, I went back into it to update the running word count keep after every writing session, and nothing I had done was there! It was like I hadn’t written a word all day long.

Suddenly I felt the feeling you get in your stomach when you get on an elevator and it starts dropping quickly. Then I calmed myself down enough to think about it. I always hit Save every few minutes when I am writing, and I had Autosave working, so I figured that it had to be someplace, even if it wasn’t in the file that I work on from my desktop when I’m working on a book.

I went into the other two locations on my computer where I save works in progress and opened the files there, and they were the same as what I’d ended up with the day before. I racked my brain for a while and then realized that it was saving to OneDrive, which is in the cloud. I went there, and sure enough, there was the file as I had been working on it. I thought that while it would save to OneDrive, it would also save to the computer at the same time. I thought it always had done that, but maybe I’m wrong. Or maybe it did, and I managed to change a setting somehow. At any rate, I sure was glad to get it back because that wasn’t fun at all.

For someone who makes his living with a computer, there is so much about them that I don’t know or understand.

A misty rain had fallen the night before and for most of the morning. When I went out to check our citrus trees in the early afternoon, the ground around them was pretty wet so I didn’t bother watering yesterday. One little chore I didn’t have to mess with.

While I was doing that all, Miss Terry was busy weaving, and her latest project looks pretty good to me. What do you think? It’s going to be a lap blanket. It’s the first time Terry has woven something double-width, and she was pretty nervous about it starting out, but now that she’s got the hang of it, it seems to be going fine.

As if creating something that beautiful wasn’t enough, Terry also made a delicious dinner of a type of Szechuan chicken, which she served over rice with a delicious sauce she made for me, and chili for herself. It was really amazing.

Besides thinking I had lost a day of work, something else that wasn’t fun was that while Terry was cooking dinner, I got on the treadmill to do my daily half-mile. I was plodding along nicely when suddenly I felt a sneeze coming on. Have you ever had one of those sneezes that start somewhere around your tailbone and comes through your body to leave your nose with such force that your ribs hurt and you see stars?

Yeah, never do that when you are on a treadmill. It can dump you on your butt real quick. Fortunately, I was able to hold onto the arm rails to keep from going down as my legs kept moving away from my torso, but it sure wasn’t pretty to see. Funny maybe, but not pretty. In another couple of days, I’m going to up myself to three-quarters of a mile a day and then up to a mile. Assuming I don’t sneeze and the damn treadmill eats me.

When I wrote about people who would or would not take the new coronavirus vaccine in yesterday’s blog, I thought I might hear from some people. And sure enough, I did. Among them was a fellow who I won’t name told me that he not only wouldn’t take that commie socialist vaccine but if anybody he knew did, he would be happy to come and piss on their grave because it was poison. Thank you, the grass is always going to need watering.

Someone else said that three months ago, you could not have convinced him to take the vaccine because you would never have convinced him that coronavirus is as bad as people say it is. He said that since then he has buried his brother, his mother, and his best friend. All had been stricken and died within a short time after testing positive. Yeah, folks, it’s real. I feel sorry for people who still want to deny the severity of the issue, and I have no patience for them. I have blocked more than one person on Facebook or here in the blog who think it’s nothing anybody should worry about and wants to spread misinformation.

Today is your last chance to enter our Free Drawing for an autographed copy of Toxic, the first book in Leigh Hull’s new Gamer Files series. Find out what happens when professional gamer and cosplayer Athena Dellis’ friend and teammate is murdered at the annual comic book convention. From murder to nerd love, Toxic is the perfect book for geeks who love a good story. To enter, click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name (first and last) in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn this evening.

Thought For The Day – When I ask for directions, please don’t use words like “east.”

Same Old Same Old

 Posted by at 1:17 am  Nick's Blog
Dec 122020
 

Yesterday was pretty much like the day before, and the day before that, and the day before… well, you get the idea. We got up and I checked my email, answering the most important ones and saving the others for later, then we had brunch, which was some of Terry’s yummy overnight yeasted homemade browned butter waffles. As always, they were melt in your mouth delicious. When we finished eating, I went back to my desk and dealt with more emails, then did a half-mile on the treadmill, watered our citrus trees, and then wrote another chapter in my new John Lee Quarrels book. While I was doing all of that, Terry was busy in her loom room doing her thing. We lead such exciting lives.

Every year our little subdivision has a Christmas toy and food drive, where residents in decorated golf carts hold a parade through the area, stopping to pick up food and toys that people leave at the curb in front of their houses. It was supposed to start at 5 p.m. yesterday, so we took out a big box of toys and several bags of food.

I kept an eye out for the golf cart parade because I wanted to get a couple of pictures, but they never came around. About 7:30, I took a quick drive through the subdivision in our Explorer, looking to see where everybody was, but there was nobody to see! Back at home, I found the flyer that someone had brought by a couple of weeks ago about the toy drive and called the number on it. The woman in charge didn’t know how they missed us and said they went right by our place. I think she was mistaken because we had the door open watching through the screen all the while, and never saw anybody.

At any rate, she said she would be happy to come by and pick the things up right then if it was okay with me, and I said sure. While she and her husband were loading things into the back of their SUV, she asked if I knew the writer that lives somewhere close to us, and I told her that was me. As it turns out, she’s a fan of mystery books, so she took my name and said that she would check me out on Amazon as soon as she got home.

Speaking of my books, here’s a printout of all of my book covers except for a couple of older ones that I don’t have listed on BookBub. Once I get a few more written, I might have to make this into a poster.

Neither one of us was very hungry, so for dinner we just had cold sandwiches as we watched the second episode of BattleBots on TV, which I had recorded the other night, and then Blue Bloods. After that and the 11 o’clock news, we were pretty much done for the day. I wrote my blog and printed it out for Terry to proof, and that was it. And today, it starts all over again. As I said, we lead such exciting lives.

Terry and I were both happy to see that the FDA approved the new coronavirus vaccine yesterday. Hopefully, this will be the beginning of the end of the pandemic, but we know that it won’t happen overnight. It will take many months before all Americans who want the vaccine will receive it. And I know a lot of people who say they won’t take it for whatever reason. Many of them are the same people who won’t wear a mask because it interferes with their freedom or some such nonsense.

Because we are both over 65 and have other health issues, Terry and I should be among the early people to qualify for the vaccine, and we will be more than happy to roll up our sleeves and get it. Of course, even then we will still wear masks when we go shopping and things like that, and we don’t expect to become social butterflies anytime soon. Personally, I wish that first responders and medical workers could get the vaccine before we do. We can continue to self-isolate and mask up when we have to go someplace, and use disinfectant wipes and wash our hands and all that good stuff when we get home. The men and women out there on the front lines are exposed to the virus every day. I can’t tell you how much we worry about our daughter-in-law, Geli, who is the clinical director at a hospital in Birmingham, and several of our friends and family members who are nurses, paramedics, and police officers.

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 love Chinese buffets, and we have eaten at many of them in our travels around the country as fulltime RVers. But when I saw this one in Tucson, I decided I would pass.

Be sure to enter our latest Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an autographed copy of Toxic, the first book in Leigh Hull’s new Gamer Files series. Find out what happens when professional gamer and cosplayer Athena Dellis’ friend and teammate is murdered at the annual comic book convention. From murder to nerd love, Toxic is the perfect book for geeks who love a good story. To enter, click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name (first and last) in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn Sunday evening.

Thought For The Day – I don’t get nearly enough credit for the things I manage not to say.

Dec 112020
 

Yes, I’m snippy. Who knew? At least that’s what somebody at the United States Postal Service told me yesterday, and who am I to argue with a heavily armed, disgruntled postal worker?

On the 2nd of December, I sent a Priority Mail package from the post office here in Edgewater, Florida, to a friend in Brainerd, Minnesota. Priority Mail is supposed to take two to three days, and now it is the 11th, and it’s still not there. The Postal Service’s tracking system says it arrived at USPS Regional Facility Network Distribution Center in Saint Paul, Minnesota at 6:38 PM on the 5th.

When it still had not arrived yesterday afternoon, I contacted the Postal Service and asked for a search. I also called the Distribution Center in Saint Paul. The person I spoke to, who also followed up with an email saying the same thing, told me the package is “In Transit” to Saint Paul. I told her that didn’t make any sense, because according to their own tracking system, it arrived in Saint Paul five days ago. I asked her how it could be “In Transit” to someplace where it apparently has been for almost a week now. She told me if I was going to be snippy with her, there was nothing more she could do for me and hung up. Our tax dollars at work.

I just don’t seem to have good luck with customer service people anywhere. Maybe it’s because I’m snippy, I don’t know. I said a while back that I ordered some Scotts Turf Builder Pensacola Bahiagrass grass seed to plant in the bare area where we took the tree out a while back. The company recommended it for our climate and soil conditions and said now would be a good time to plant it. So, I planted the seed following their directions and watered it every day, just as they said. I was told to expect to see sprouts coming through the ground in about 11 days, but nothing has happened.

I contacted the company to see if I’m doing something wrong, and they said no, I’m doing everything right, but seeds won’t germinate until warmer weather. They assured me that around May or June, I’m going to start seeing something happening. I asked why they didn’t tell me that to start with and why I was wasting a lot of water and time when I could have waited till May or June to plant. Their reply was that it was up to me whenever I wanted to plant the seeds. To my credit, I didn’t get snippy. I just thanked them, hung up, and muttered a few words that I’m sure my Momma wanted to come out of her grave and wash my mouth out with soap for. Sorry, Mom.

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

Be sure to enter our latest Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an autographed copy of Toxic, the first book in Leigh Hull’s new Gamer Files series. Find out what happens when professional gamer and cosplayer Athena Dellis’ friend and teammate is murdered at the annual comic book convention. From murder to nerd love, Toxic is the perfect book for geeks who love a good story. To enter, click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name (first and last) in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn Sunday evening.

Thought For The Day – Have you ever had one of those days when you’re holding a stick and everybody in the world looks like a pinata?

Where Did The Time Go?

 Posted by at 12:16 am  Nick's Blog
Dec 102020
 

Where did the time go? Can you believe that it will be Christmas in only fifteen days now? And that three weeks from today we can finally say goodbye to 2020, a year that I think we can all agree really sucked. I just hope that when 2021 rolls around and hears us complaining about the previous year, it doesn’t say, “You think that was something? Here, hold my beer!”

As I’ve said before, Terry and I don’t really do a whole lot for Christmas, except for sending gifts to the grandkids. That’s all done, and if they’re not there now they’ll be arriving any moment. We don’t decorate or put up a tree, and even before COVID-19 we were not the kind of people that went out to Christmas parties. About the most we ever did was go to a Chinese buffet for Christmas dinner. It was kind of a holiday tradition for us, but that won’t happen this year, and maybe not ever again.

Speaking of Christmas, my author friend Suzy Stewart Dubot just released a wonderful set of four great Christmas stories from the past and present, and the set is just 99 cents! Order your copy of Christmas – Then, Now & Later: 4 Christmases Across the Centuries, and give yourself a holiday treat. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Terry spent most of yesterday doing the final tie ups on her loom for her latest project, and sometime in the afternoon she begin weaving it. She tells me it’s going well, and I can’t wait to see what it’s going to look like when she’s done. I wish I had a tenth of her talent.

As for me, I wrote another 2,500 words or so in my new John Lee Quarrels book yesterday. The story is off to a good start and I’m having fun with it. I’m also getting a lot of good feedback on my latest release, Big Lake Hoarder. It’s already received 4 five star reviews on Amazon, and I’ve got several comments from readers telling me how much they enjoyed it. I’ve also gotten a couple of comments from readers who read the sample of the next book in the series, Big Lake Shootout, telling me that I’m evil. Yeah, I knew that a long time ago. 🙂

It’s Thursday, so it’s time for a new Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an autographed copy of Toxic, the first book in Leigh Hull’s new Gamer Files series. Find out what happens when professional gamer and cosplayer Athena Dellis’ friend and teammate is murdered at the annual comic book convention. From murder to nerd love, Toxic is the perfect book for geeks who love a good story. To enter, click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name (first and last) in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn Sunday evening.

Thought For The Day – We are not all in the same boat. We are in the same storm. Some of us are in yachts, some are in canoes, and some are drowning. Just be kind and help whoever you can.