Sneak Thief

 Posted by at 12:45 am  Nick's Blog
May 262024
 

As predicted, yesterday was a scorching day. If the thermometer didn’t hit 90°, I know it came close. I spent much of the day writing, getting another chapter done in my new Tinder Street book. Then I went through and reviewed the last several chapters I had written, making a few minor changes before I printed them out for Terry to edit and proofread.

Late in the afternoon (or was it early evening), we went outside and unloaded several bags of soil and Black Kow fertilizer from the pickup into the back of the Mule, doing the same as before, putting both tailgates down and sliding them from one vehicle to the other.

Then we emptied them into Terry’s three new raised planter beds, which had settled since we filled them last week, thanks to all the rain we had gotten. She wanted to plant her new starter plants in them we picked up at Brown’s Nursery last week, but just as we finished emptying the bags it started to rain again, and it was coming down hard. The revised plan is to get them planted this afternoon once it cools down a bit.

Dinner was a delicious homemade calzone for me and homemade chili for Terry. So good.

And now for the title of today’s blog. I actually stole it from my dear friend Carol Ann Newsome, author of the Dog Park mystery series. Sneak Thief is the fourth book in this cozy animal mystery series, and if you love mysteries and you love dogs, you have to read it. Anyway, back to today’s blog. I’ve told you before how much Alli loves her soft rubber Kong style toy. She carries it around with her all day, just waiting for someone to throw it for her. She sleeps with it at night, and when we wake up in the morning, she’s sitting beside the bed with it in her mouth, waiting to start all over again.

Last night I was playing with her, tossing it up in the air in the living room and watching her jump to get it. Then I got silly and got down on the floor and snatched the toy away from her and held it under me so she couldn’t get to it. She sniffed around and pawed at me a few times, but when I didn’t give in, she took matters into her own hands. Or mouth, I guess I should say. My phone had fallen out of my pocket and Alli picked it up and walked away with it and sat off in the corner with it in her mouth, staring at me. It was kind of like you’ve got my favorite toy and now I’ve got your favorite toy. Want to make a trade? These animals make us laugh every day.

Today is your last chance to enter our Free Drawing for an audiobook of Big Lake Honeymoon, the seventh book in my Big Lake mystery series. The busy summer season is drawing to a close in the little mountain town of Big Lake, Arizona and the locals are looking forward to a relaxing interlude before the first snowfall brings carloads of skiers to the high country. That all changes when a nearly nude woman rushes into a convenience store in the middle of the night, begging for help. She tells Sheriff Jim Weber that her new husband has been murdered and she was taken captive by the mysterious killer, who seems to have disappeared into the thick forests of the White Mountains, touching off a manhunt for a phantom that cannot be found.

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. After 30 days, unclaimed prizes revert back to the drawing pool for a future contest.

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. Can you think of a better license plate for a driving school car?

 Thought For The Day – Sometimes I forget that I’m old enough to know better.

A Good Writing Day

 Posted by at 12:32 am  Nick's Blog
May 252024
 

It was too hot to get much of anything done outside yesterday, which made it a good day to stay inside and write, so that’s what I did. And of course, writing also involves research as I’m going along, especially with the Tinder Street series, making sure I get the historical timeline down correctly. And in the process, I always find interesting rabbit holes to go down.

One of them yesterday was about pioneering aviatrixes Jackie Cochran and Nancy Love, who while working separately, convinced the powers that be that women pilots could play a vital role in the war effort against Japan and Germany. Their combined efforts put women in the cockpits of airplanes that needed to be ferried from one location to another, freeing male pilots for combat duty. The Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) served as civilians in the US Army Air Forces from September 1942 to December 1944. This evolved into the Women in the Air Force (WAF) in 1948. The WAF program continued until 1976, when the Air Force began accepting women on an equal basis with men.

I had a friend, who has since passed away, whose mother was one of the pilots flying fighter planes and bombers from factories and different airfields to bases around the country during World War II, and I always loved hearing her stories. If you would like to learn some of their stories yourself, check out the fascinating book The Women With Silver Wings on Amazon. I think you’ll find it very interesting.

Even with getting distracted by the contributions of the brave women pilots, I still managed to get close to 5,000 words written yesterday. As I said, a good writing day.

And is there a better way to end a good writing day than with some of the Miss Terry’s delicious cooking? I don’t think so. Last night she made beer battered swai, along with crispy parmesan potatoes, and side veggies. Yummy!

Be sure to enter our latest Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an audiobook of Big Lake Honeymoon, the seventh book in my Big Lake mystery series. The busy summer season is drawing to a close in the little mountain town of Big Lake, Arizona and the locals are looking forward to a relaxing interlude before the first snowfall brings carloads of skiers to the high country. That all changes when a nearly nude woman rushes into a convenience store in the middle of the night begging for help. She tells Sheriff Jim Weber that her new husband has been murdered and she was taken captive by the mysterious killer, who seems to have disappeared into the thick forests of the White Mountains, touching off a manhunt for a phantom that cannot be found.

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. After 30 days, unclaimed prizes revert back to the drawing pool for a future contest.

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 attracted to intelligence, not education. You could graduate from the most elite college, but if you’re clueless about the world and society, you don’t know anything.

Another Busy Day

 Posted by at 12:40 am  Nick's Blog
May 242024
 

Yesterday was another busy day for us, starting with an early morning phone call from Pickins County Primary Care asking me to come in for some lab work. I’m not sure what that was about because they just did labs when we had an appointment there last week. But I told them I would be there in the afternoon.

Not long afterward, I got a text from Alan Banks from Banks Construction telling me he and his father Scott were there to put together the new handrails on the steps on the side of the house. They did a good job with them, and they are very sturdy. Now we just need to get them stained, along with the footbridge they built for us and the deck for the hot tub. They said it’s best to wait a while and let the wood dry well. We all know the quality of lumber you can buy these days is pretty sad, not to mention expensive.

Terry made delicious blueberry pancakes for breakfast, which is one of our favorites. Yeah, I know, I got a little carried away with the syrup.

Our neighbor Vickie House stopped over and brought us fresh eggs from her chickens and we had a nice visit. Vickie is related to just about everybody in the county in one way or another, and as it turns out, she’s even kinfolk to Scott and Alan Banks. Typical of a small town, everybody is either related or connected to everybody else in some way or another.

About the time I was getting ready to leave for the doctor’s office for the lab work, someone from Thompson Propane showed up to fix the broken gas line connection that got hit with a lawnmower the day before. He said whoever did the initial installation should not have left it sticking out of the ground like that and he will have to come back sometime next week to move it and make a permanent fix, but he was able to repair the connection enough to get us through until then.

Terry and I are both paying the price for the hours we spent mowing on Wednesday. Both of our backs are killing us, but at least the pasture and our yards look good, so I guess it was worth it.

Be sure to enter our latest Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an audiobook of Big Lake Honeymoon, the seventh book in my Big Lake mystery series. The busy summer season is drawing to a close in the little mountain town of Big Lake, Arizona and the locals are looking forward to a relaxing interlude before the first snowfall brings carloads of skiers to the high country. That all changes when a nearly nude woman rushes into a convenience store in the middle of the night begging for help. She tells Sheriff Jim Weber that her new husband has been murdered and she was taken captive by the mysterious killer, who seems to have disappeared into the thick forests of the White Mountains, touching off a manhunt for a phantom that cannot be found.

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. After 30 days, unclaimed prizes revert back to the drawing pool for a future contest.

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. Personally, I’d prefer a different venue for a party, but whatever fits your budget.

 Thought For The Day – One day you’ll be just a memory for some people. Do your best to be a good one.

May 232024
 

I’ve been looking for a pull-behind grader to use with the Kawasaki Mule for leveling the gravel in the driveway and on our roads, as well as some uneven areas of the pasture. After looking around, I settled on an 84-inch wide Vevor Driveway Drag, which is made out of heavy duty steel and is adjustable to hold cinder blocks or bricks to add extra weight to it and help it dig in deeper.

I could have ordered it directly from Vevor, but I ordered it from Amazon instead for the free shipping. It came in a long, heavy box, and we assembled it on the back deck in the afternoon when the sun was on the other side of the house, giving us shade to work in.

The first step was laying out all of the parts, and there were a bunch of them.

The directions weren’t very clear. Actually there were no directions at all, just a parts list and a diagram, but it was easy enough to figure out.

Using a folding table and the railing of the deck to hold the heavy drag as we assembled it, it didn’t take long. Well, it wouldn’t have if all of the hardware had been included in the package, but it turned out we were short three sets of nuts, bolts, and washers. So we had to pick those up at Ace Hardware.

Then, when we got it together, we realized that they had drilled the holes in the towbar incorrectly. That took a while to figure out. Now I just have to get some cinder blocks to put on the back of it for extra weight.

Once it cooled down some yesterday afternoon, Terry used the Husqvarna riding lawnmower to mow the front, side, and back yards while I was on the Kubota tractor using the mid-mount mower in the pasture. It took us about three hours, but we got it all done.

Unfortunately, just as we were finishing, Terry hit the propane gas line that was supposed to be buried when they did the installation for the generator but wasn’t done properly. She said she thought she smelled gas and moved her mower away and shut it down just as I was driving up in the tractor to see if she was ready to call it a day. As soon as I shut the tractor off, I could hear the hiss of gas coming out and quickly turned off the valve on the tank. So today they need to send somebody out to remedy the situation. I’m glad Terry noticed it, since I have little sense of smell and I would not have realized anything until there was a big bang, and not the fun kind we watch on TV.

It’s Thursday, so it’s time for a new Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an audiobook of Big Lake Honeymoon, the seventh book in my Big Lake Mystery series. The busy summer season is drawing to a close in the little mountain town of Big Lake, Arizona and the locals are looking forward to a relaxing interlude before the first snowfall brings carloads of skiers to the high country. That all changes when a nearly nude woman rushes into a convenience store in the middle of the night begging for help. She tells Sheriff Jim Weber that her new husband has been murdered and she was taken captive by the mysterious killer, who seems to have disappeared into the thick forests of the White Mountains, touching off a manhunt for a phantom that cannot be found.

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. After 30 days, unclaimed prizes revert back to the drawing pool for a future contest.

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 – Story of my life, I knew better but I did it anyway.

So Much Happening

 Posted by at 12:52 am  Nick's Blog
May 222024
 

We have had a lot happening the last couple of days and it seems like we have spent more time going places than we have at home. The first thing Monday morning our friend Alan Banks from Banks Construction came over to look at the steps on the side of the house to figure out the best way to install handrails for me. He came up with something that will work and told me he should have them together in just a few days.

After Alan left, we took Alli to West Alabama Animal Hospital in Carrollton for her annual shots and checkup. When we got her June 1st of last year she weighed 52 pounds and now she weighs 65, which is about right for a two year old female German shepherd. Doctor Lowe is a very nice man and has been taking care of animals large and small in this part of Alabama for many years. I mentioned to him our concerns about snakes because we have a lot of them in this area, including copperheads, cottonmouth water moccasins, and rattlesnakes. Doc said in all his years of practice he could count on one hand, or maybe two at the most, the number of dogs he has lost to snake bites. His advice if Alli were to get bitten was to give her 25 milligrams of Benadryl for each 25 pounds she weighs and bring her in for treatment. I hope it never happens, but it’s good to know what to do in case it does.

When we were done with that, we brought Allie home and then drove into Tuscaloosa for Terry’s appointment with Southern Eye Consultants to get plugs put in her tear ducts for chronic dry eyes. This has to be done every three months and the process only takes seconds, but we were still there for two hours waiting for her to get in and be treated. With that out of the way, we went to The Juicy Crab for dinner. It’s one of our favorite restaurants and we haven’t been there since our daughter Tiffany and granddaughter Destiny were here in March.

Yesterday was another busy day, starting with me getting an MRI in the morning for a new spinal doctor I’m going to be seeing in a week or so. I was surprised that when they called my name at the imaging center, they took me outside to a semi-trailer and had me step on a power lift and took me inside it for the MRI. Apparently a couple of the machines in the building were not functioning well so they brought in this portable unit as a backup.

When that was done, we went to Brown’s Nursery so Terry could get some starter plants for her raised planter beds. This is a very cool place, with every kind of plant you could imagine from shrubs and flowers to vegetables and herbs. They have a bunch of large greenhouses as well as plants on display outside.

Terry got several plants including tomatoes, squash, peppers, cucumbers, kale, and a few herbs.

We had about three hours to kill, so we came home to let Alli out, check e-mail, and things like that. Then we had to go back to Tuscaloosa for an appointment Terry had at the Center for Rheumatology. Her doctor said things are looking good for her, renewed a prescription, then sent her to the same place where I had my MRI in the morning to have a bunch of X-rays taken of her spine.

By then it was after five and we had not eaten all day, so we were more than hungry. We had dinner at Pastor’s Mexican Restaurant, a small family run business that we found a year or so ago and really enjoy.

After that and a stop at Lowe’s to pick up some more soil and Black Kow fertilizer, it was home for the evening. We don’t have anything else scheduled for the rest of the week that I know of, and since it’s going to be hot, it’ll be a good time to stay inside and get some writing done.

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 – Appreciate good people. They are hard to come by.

May 212024
 

Here is another blog post from my days running small town newspapers.

If you run a small town newspaper, you’re going to make some people mad. There’s no way around it. And sometimes the things that make people mad are amazing.

For example, I once ran a story about a man who got drunk and was speeding through town on a motorcycle, with the police in hot pursuit. They reached speeds in excess of 100 miles per hour at one point before he eventually lost control and crashed into a fountain in front of City Hall. Fortunately, he had slowed down somewhat, and because God looks after fools and drunks, he only ended up with a few cuts and bruises and a broken wrist. It could have been much worse.

When I reported the story in the newspaper, his mother and aunt came into my office demanding that I round up every copy of that issue and get them off the streets because it was embarrassing to them to have the whole town read that a member of their family had done something so foolish. They were not disputing the story, they knew he was a troublemaker, but they did not want the rest of the town to know about it. When I told them it was impossible to do that, and I wouldn’t anyway, they called me names that even my ex-wives haven’t called me. At least not yet.

More than once, somebody who was upset about a news story or editorial threatened me, those threats ranging from burning my house or business down to actual death threats, and a time or two I was physically assaulted, as well. But fortunately, I was only cursed once.

Now, when I say cursed, I don’t mean cursed at or cursed out, that happened plenty of times. I mean actually cursed. A woman named Darlene, who was known in town as Ding-a-ling Darlene, was well known for going into businesses and creating scenes. It didn’t take much to set her off. One time she was in a furniture store and she didn’t like the fact that none of the recliners on display were the color she wanted. So instead of asking if they could order one for her, she threw a tantrum and told the owner that she was going to break all of his windows.

Darlene also routinely approached police officers when they had someone stopped for a traffic violation, demanding they let them go. Usually, they just ignored her and went on about their business, but a time or two she got so adamant about things that she was arrested for interfering with a police officer.

I had seen Darlene around town and knew who she was but had never interacted with her. At least not until the day I parked in front of a business and got out and was putting money in the parking meter. Darlene came along and asked me why I was paying money to the city for the right to park, which was guaranteed in the United States Constitution. I told her that since the Constitution was written long before the automobile was invented, I was pretty sure that was not a right guaranteed by our forefathers. Who knew that was enough to set Darlene off?

She followed me into the store, haranguing me and telling me that I was a Communist. When the owner told her to leave, she grabbed some things off the counter and threw them at him before making her exit. Okay, that was interesting.

This was in the days before cell phones, when we all carried pagers. A half-hour later my pager went off, and when I found a phone to call the office, my secretary said I needed to get there right away because there was a problem. I was about ten minutes away, and by the time I got there, there was no question about it. We had a problem.

That problem’s name was Darlene. She had stormed into the office, demanding that I be fired because I was a Communist. When Laurel, my office manager, explained to her that I owned the place and couldn’t be fired, and also mentioned that I was a veteran and she did not believe I was a Communist, Darlene staged a sit-in right in front of the counter. She said she was not going to leave until I had been fired. She opened a grease-stained paper bag and poured out a collection of bones, rocks, feathers, and who knows what else and began chanting some kind of mantra.

By then I was pretty fed up with Darlene’s theatrics, so when I came in the door and she pointed a finger at me and said, “There he is! There’s the Communist that’s ruining our country,” I told her to take a hike. Not taking it very well, she began screaming at me, and one of my employees called the police. Two officers arrived in short order and told Darlene she had to leave, but she refused to get off the floor, continuing her sit-in.

Did I mention that Darlene weighed over 300 pounds? The two officers together couldn’t get her on her feet. In fact, when they tried to lift her under her arms, she laid on her back and began making what I can only describe as snow angels on the carpet. In the process, her skirt ended up around her waist and I saw things no man ever wants to see. Darlene obviously was not a fan of underwear, and later one of the ladies who worked for me described what she saw as a hedgehog wearing an Afro.

Finally, more policemen arrived and they were able to pick her up by her limbs and carry her outside, but not before Darlene screamed at me that I was cursed. She told me she came from a long line of gypsies and that her grandmother was Marie Laveau, the famous voodoo queen from New Orleans. Did you know that Marie Laveau was a gypsy? I didn’t either. I’m not sure Marie Laveau even knew that!

I don’t know if it was just a coincidence since it was a small town, or if it was planned, but it seemed like for the next two weeks, everywhere I went, there was Darlene. Standing in line to check out at the grocery store, she saw me and started screaming that I was a Communist and someone needed to shoot me. Filling my gas tank at the Shell station, Darlene came storming across the parking lot, pointing her finger at me and telling me that she had placed a curse on me and my testicles were going to fall off. Well, that didn’t happen, my first ex-wife still has them in a jar someplace. They were part of the divorce settlement.

My next episode with Darlene was when I was in a restaurant with a couple of my employees having lunch. She walked by and saw us through the window and came in and did the whole finger-pointing thing again, telling me that I was cursed and I was going to choke to death on my lunch. Okay, Darlene. Thanks a lot.

This went on for several weeks, and though my ex still had the family jewels and I had not choked to death, I did find myself looking around wherever I went, just in case Darlene was there to create another ruckus. Eventually, she found someone else to harass and she forgot about me. At least I thought she had forgotten about me. As it turned out, that was wishful thinking on my part.

About six months later the police scanner in my pickup truck went off as I was driving through town, saying there was an unconscious woman down on the sidewalk and needing help. Things like that are always news in a small town, so since I was close, I pulled up as the police and two EMTs were trying to get an unconscious Darlene onto a stretcher. This was no small feat because I think she had added another 20 or 30 pounds since our first encounter.

Eventually, they got her on the stretcher, and as they were getting ready to load it into the back of the ambulance, I stepped back to get out of the way and tripped over the curb and fell on my butt, right into a big puddle of water. Suddenly Darlene, who had been unable to communicate or move all this time, sat up on the stretcher, pointed her finger at me and said, “See, you son-of-a-bitch, I told you you were cursed!”

I saw Darlene around town every so often for the next year or so, and then suddenly she was gone. I don’t know what happened to her. Maybe she moved to a new town to spread her version of joy and terror. Or maybe she went to New Orleans to hang out with her grandmother, Marie Laveau, the gypsy voodoo queen.

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. Can I at least slow down before I throw my kid out of the truck?

Thought For The Day – You may delay, but time will not. – Benjamin Franklin

Pampered Taste Buds

 Posted by at 12:45 am  Nick's Blog
May 202024
 

I am far from a gourmet, I’m more of a meat and potatoes kind of guy. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have pampered taste buds. Miss Terry makes sure of that with all the delicious meals and treats she makes.

For example, check out this delicious cheesecake topped with lemon curd she made the other day. It is delicious and absolutely decadent. Even a meat and potatoes guy appreciates a dessert like this.

Pizza is one of my favorite foods, and I’ve had it everywhere from little New York Italian restaurants with checkered tablecloths and a wine bottle with a candle as a centerpiece to chain restaurants, and everything in between. And I would bet money that you will not find a better tasting pizza in the world than what Terry makes.

Everything she makes is from scratch, from the dough to the sauce, to grating the cheeses. And you can tell she enjoys every minute of it.

These are the pizzas she made for dinner last night. Mine had lots of pepperoni on top and a melt in your mouth crust.

Terry made hers with pepperoni, mushrooms, olives, and onions.

She is not one to brag on her accomplishments or her cooking, but she did acknowledge it last night by saying, “I make a damn good pizza, don’t I?” Yes, baby, you sure do!

We’ve got a busy day ahead of us today. Our friend Alan Banks from Banks Construction is going to be here first thing in the morning to figure out what he can do to build a set of stair rails for the outside steps going up to the side door of the house. Then we need to take Alli to West Alabama Animal Hospital in Carrollton for her annual update on her shots.

This afternoon Terry has an appointment at Southern Eye Consultants in Tuscaloosa to get new plugs put in her tear ducts for her chronic dry eyes. It’s a process she has to have about every three months and sounds rather gruesome, but it’s quick and easy and she says she doesn’t even feel it.

Congratulations Shelly Schultz, winner of our drawing for a Kindle Paperwhite e-book reader with a 6.8 inch display, adjustable warm light, up to 10 weeks of battery life, and 20% faster page turns than previous models.

We had 143 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. After 90 days, unclaimed prizes revert back to the drawing pool for a future contest.

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

Thought For The Day – The less time I have to work with, the more I seem to get things done.

May 192024
 

The weatherman was wrong when he said that we would get a lot of rain on Friday, but he made up for it by saying that it would come in on Saturday. About mid-afternoon yesterday it started pouring, and I told Terry that all of the soil and compost we put in her raised planter beds the other day was definitely going to be settled by the time it let up.

Now I need things to dry out because the grass in the pasture is getting high again already and I need to mow again. Fortunately, we’re not supposed to have any rain for the next few days, but we are supposed to have some pretty hot temperatures. It’s always something, isn’t it?

The good news is, all of the rain has really helped the rose bushes in front of our house.

I spent the day yesterday writing and got another chapter done in my next Tinder Street book. And as so often happens, the characters decided to change things up a bit on me. I wish they’d tell me in advance so I could plan ahead, but I guess it’s on a need to know basis and they don’t think I need to know. 😊

Before I close for today I want to brag a little bit about my dog, Alli. German shepherds seem to have an instinctive knowledge of what people need. Last November I told you about Terry’s parents visiting from Arizona, and when her 94-year-old father wanted to go for his daily walk, Alli, who almost never leaves my side, would tag along right beside him to keep him company and make sure everything was alright.

As I’m sure you’ve heard me whine enough about by now, my back has been giving me a lot of problems lately. Besides the intense pain, sometimes if I move wrong, my lower back locks up, throwing me off balance. We need to get handrails installed on the steps on the side of the house, which is the door we use to go in and outside. A couple of times I have almost had accidents on those steps, but I realized the other day that for the last week or so, when we are coming in from outside, Alli will stand beside me and brace her legs and stiffen her spine so I can lean on her. It’s like I have my own four-legged stair rail. I don’t know how she came up with that or how she knew that I was having trouble, but she’s never done it before now.

Today is your last chance to enter our Free Drawing for a Kindle Paperwhite e-book reader with a 6.8 inch display, adjustable warm light, up to 10 weeks of battery life, and 20% faster page turns than previous models.

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. After 90 days, unclaimed prizes revert back to the drawing pool for a future contest.

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. Tell the truth, you were singing the alphabet by the time you got done reading this, weren’t you?

Thought For The DaySometimes all a person needs is a hand to hold and a heart to understand.

A Lazy Man

 Posted by at 12:45 am  Nick's Blog
May 182024
 

Bill Gates has been quoted as saying you should choose a lazy person to do a hard job because a lazy person will find an easy way to do it. If I was a younger man, I think I could have gone to work for old Bill.

We had the back of our Ram pickup loaded with heavy bags of Black Kow compost and soil that needed to be moved to the back yard and spread in Terry’s last three raised planter beds. This is never an easy task even when my back isn’t acting up as badly as it has been.

Our son Travis said he and his wife Geli would come over and do it for us, but I know that they are busy with their own things and told him I thought we could handle it. Then I put my lazy man’s brain to work.

When the tailgate of the pickup truck and the tailgate of the Kawasaki Mule are lowered, they are within an inch or two of being the same height off the ground. So we put both tailgates down, and then with Terry directing me I backed the Mule right up to the back of the truck. Then it was a simple case of sliding the bags from one vehicle to the next.

Pretty soon we had the bed of the Mule loaded and were ready to go.

Driving around to the back yard, I backed the Mule up to the planter beds and we slid the bags off into them, cut them open, and emptied them. It took a couple of trips, and then we did the same with the soil, and dumped it on top of the Black Kow. By then the planters were full.

We were supposed to get a lot of rain yesterday, but it never developed, and now the weatherman says it should be here today. That’s fine because it will help compact the compost and soil. Hopefully Terry will be able to put some plants in them within the next couple of days.

Be sure to enter our latest Free Drawing. This week’s prize is a big one, a Kindle Paperwhite e-book reader with a 6.8 inch display, adjustable warm light, up to 10 weeks of battery life, and 20% faster page turns than previous models.

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. After 90 days, unclaimed prizes revert back to the drawing pool for a future contest.

And finally, here’s a chuckle to start your day from the collection of funny signs we see in our travels and that our readers share with us. When I told my Mom I was bringing a college girl home for dinner she was impressed. Dad was even more impressed!

Thought For The Day – If I woke up and nothing hurt I would think I was dead.

May Q&A

 Posted by at 1:23 am  Nick's Blog
May 172024
 

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

Q. I finished Jackpot, book 12 in the John Lee Quarrels series. It directed me to book 13, The Ballad of John Lee. I could not find it. Hoping it will be published soon.

A. The Ballad Of John Lee should be out sometime in September if all goes according to plan.

Q. Can you please tell me what weather radio you use and the phone apps? I’ve used two Midland radios and found them confusing to program every time we move. Maybe I can get by with just the phone.

A. We have a Midland also. I had to have my daughter-in-law  program it for me. We mostly use our phones and Weatherbug, AccuWeather, and Weather Channel apps.

Q. Do you empty the wood from Terry’s raised planter beds each season?

A. No, it decomposes and breaks down into soil for the plants, slowly adding into the dirt, enriching along with the leaves, mulch, and other compost. We needed to move the planter holding the strawberries after one season and I was amazed at how rapidly that happens. We set up the new planter completely, then moved the strawberry plants into it, along with their surrounding soil, salvaging the rest of the layers for an additional planter, and most of the branches and limbs were already breaking down. We just shoveled them into one of the other new planters. I love how nature works. – Terry

Q. We live in Florida, about 40 miles south of where you did and the no-see-ums eat us alive anytime we step put the door. You mentioned ant and mosquito bites at your new place in Alabama. I am curious which you think are worse between them and no-see-ums?

A. There is no question, no-see-ums are worse. Their bites seemed to take forever to heal, and old ones would sometimes would flare up again days later if I got a new bite. At least the mosquito and ant bites don’t do that.

Q. I was sorry to read about your back pain in the blog yesterday. I remember you saying that you were getting goods results from medical marijuana oil before. Has it stopped working for you?

A. Medical marijuana oil did help a lot with the pain. However, it is not legal here in Alabama as of now.

Be sure to enter our latest Free Drawing. This week’s prize is a big one, a Kindle Paperwhite e-book reader with a 6.8 inch display, adjustable warm light, up to 10 weeks of battery life, and 20% faster page turns than previous models.

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. After 90 days, unclaimed prizes revert back to the drawing pool for a future contest.

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 – Your bank account can be overdrawn, but it can never be overfilled.

Being A Wimp

 Posted by at 12:48 am  Nick's Blog
May 162024
 

I’ve spent a lot of time being a wimp over the last couple of weeks. My old back injury has flared up big time, which really brings out the whiner in me. I’m sure poor Miss Terry is tired of hearing me say ouch and moaning every time I move, bend over, or try to pick something up. The other day, we had a delivery from Chewy and I couldn’t even help Terry bring it in off the porch.

I guess it’s time to see about getting another nerve ablation, like I had a few years ago. It doesn’t solve the problem forever, but the first one I had gave me about two years of pain relief. The second one didn’t do me any good at all. Maybe the third time’s the charm?

Yesterday we went to Northport to pick up the police report from the accident last week. While we were in town, we tried a pizza place we haven’t been to before, TuscNY Pizza. I have mixed feelings on this place. The pizza was very good, but rather expensive. I don’t mind paying for something good, but having it served on paper plates with plastic utensils at those prices is a bit of a turnoff.

We also tried something new yesterday. Terry needed some soil and Black Kow compost for her raised planter beds, and before we left home, she had me order it from Lowe’s with their curbside pickup. When I placed the order, it said it could take up to three hours, but less than fifteen minutes later, I got a text saying that it was ready whenever I wanted to come and pick it up.

After we finished eating, we stopped there on the way back out of town. I pulled into one of the customer pickup spots, clicked the link to say I was there and described my truck, and a short time later a young lady came out and told me where to park in their loading zone. I felt bad because I couldn’t help load everything, a total of nineteen bags, into the back of the truck, but she did it all cheerfully. I gave her a tip and thanked her very much. Now if I can just figure out how the heck to get it out of the back of the truck. 😊

It’s Thursday, so it’s time for a new Free Drawing. This week’s prize is a big one, a Kindle Paperwhite e-book reader with a 6.8” display, adjustable warm light, up to 10 weeks of battery life, and 20% faster page turns than previous models.

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. After 90 days, unclaimed prizes revert back to the drawing pool for a future contest.

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 – At this point, shouldn’t it just be called uncommon sense?

Willapa Seaport Museum

 Posted by at 12:15 am  Nick's Blog
May 152024
 

Here is a repost of a blog from our days as fulltime RVers. 

We never know what we’re going to find when we go out exploring a new area, or even one that we’ve been to many times before. But we always try to give ourselves plenty of time and keep our options open just in case we stumble upon something we didn’t know existed.

A good example was the Willapa Seaport Museum in Raymond, Washington. We went to Raymond to visit the excellent Northwest Carriage Museum and discovered a hidden gem right next door in the Seaport Museum. The small museum is filled with all kinds of artifacts from the region’s logging industry and shipbuilding days.

And while the museum may not be all that large in size, the amount and variety of things on display is simply amazing. Everywhere you look, in nooks and crannies, tucked away in alcoves, and hanging from the ceiling are displays that tell the story of Raymond and Willapa Bay.

We discovered something new in every corner of the crowded museum, including treasure from the 1622 wreck of the Spanish ship Atocha and displays on the Native Americans who have lived here for hundreds of years, as well as displays on the Army’s Spruce Division, responsible for furnishing wood for World War I airplanes. Along with the many interesting items in the exhibits are historic documents that tell their story.

Always a center for logging and fishing, Raymond, on the shore of Willapa Bay, was involved in building fishing boats and commercial ships for many years, and during World War I turned out a number of wooden-hulled ships that were used in anti-submarine warfare. Displays in the museum tell the story of the warships and fishing vessels built here, and the impact of shipbuilding on the local economy. There are also several paintings on display that reflect the flavor of the museum.

Southwest Washington played a role in other wars, and displays in the museum include swords, flintlock pistols, and other weapons from the War of 1812. The display includes a commission signed by President James Madison certifying Robert Barton as a US Navy surgeon. There are also coins made from the propeller of Commodore Dewey’s flagship USS Olympia at the Battle of Manila Bay during the Spanish-American War.

The Coast Artillery, US Revenue Service, Lighthouse Service, US Life Saving Service, and Coast Guard are also represented with exhibits and displays, as are the Navy and Marine Corps.

The centerpiece of the museum is the original wheelhouse from the FV Vansee, a 100 year old halibut schooner that still work’s Alaska’s fishing waters.

Logging has always been an important part of the economy of the Pacific Northwest, and the museum displays chainsaws, sawmill equipment, a steam donkey, and other artifacts and memorabilia of the men who supplied the timber that helped build America.

Like many small town museums, things are informal here. You are welcome to take your time and discover things that most will overlook in a quick pass through. Things like a high-wheel bicycle, an ancient outboard motor, photographs and more that tell the story of life here on Willapa Bay. When you visit, give yourself that time and don’t make the mistake of giving the museum a quick look and moving on down the highway, because there is so much to see here that you will never know all of the things that you missed.

The Willapa Seaport Museum is located at 310 Alder Street in Raymond, and is open Tuesday – Saturday from noon to 4 p.m. Admission is by donation and there is plenty of parking nearby. For more information, call (360) 942-4149.

Thought For The Day – 90% of being married is just shouting “What?” from other rooms.

May 142024
 

Here is another blog post about my days publishing small town newspapers.

Anybody who has ever owned their own business knows that you have to wear many hats. On any given day, you might be making a sales presentation to a new client, working the cash register, making deliveries, or taking out the trash. Or being a bill collector.

During my long career publishing small-town newspapers on the Pacific Northwest coast and in Arizona, I’ve dealt with many fine business people who always paid their bills promptly and were a pleasure to deal with.

I also encountered customers who were struggling to get by, and sometimes they got behind in their accounts. Not because they were trying to stiff me, they simply did not have the money. When this happens, a newspaper usually loses that customer. Being a small businessman myself, and sometimes having to wonder where my dinner might come from that night, I always tried to find ways to work around their situation.

One of those ways was bartering. If a business owed me, say $200, rather than lose them as a customer, I would suggest that we trade for something they had in their store. I would much rather have the cash, but anything is better than nothing, right?”

This is something that happens with most newspapers and radio stations in small markets. I can’t tell you how many meals I have eaten in restaurants, how many movie tickets I passed out to friends and family, and how much work I had done on my vehicles and home, or whatever somebody could give me to settle their account. Then I told them that we would start from scratch, and they could pay every week rather than waiting until the bill got out of hand again. They appreciated that, and many of them became steady, faithful paying customers for years.

This may not be the best business model, but it worked for me. It also made my family and employees very happy. When Miss Terry and I got together, she was shocked that on Christmas and birthdays, my employees got things like nice jewelry, big-screen televisions, and things like that. I also made sure that they always had good tires on their cars and that their vehicles were in topnotch shape. Terry will tell you that when we first started seeing each other, I had a dozen roses delivered to her office every week until she finally had to tell me to stop it because it was getting embarrassing. All this because of bartering for unpaid bills.

However, there were always some people who just didn’t want to pay their bills, even though they could well afford to do so. Then you had a couple of choices. You could sue them and hope to collect, but just because you have a judgment against somebody doesn’t mean you’re ever going to ever see a penny of what they owe you. Often times, going to small claims court was just a waste of time. So, occasionally I got creative.

There was a dentist in Hoquiam, Washington, who ran up a bill with me for several hundred dollars for advertising. Every time I tried to collect, he was not available. He was either with a patient or in a conference with somebody, but I was always promised he would get back to me by the end of the day. Of course, he never did.

One day when I stopped by his office in another attempt to get paid, the door was locked, but the receptionist for the doctor’s office next door said, “He’s in Hawaii. He won’t be back until next Monday.” Yes, this guy who had strung me along for several months decided to take a vacation to Hawaii! I couldn’t afford a vacation, but apparently, he could. Okay, we can handle that.

The day he got back, I called, not telling the receptionist who I was, and asked if he was available for an emergency procedure that afternoon to replace a crown. She said no problem come on in. He was busy, but he would fit me in. A woman who worked for me named Debbie had four of the most unruly children that ever crawled across a carpet on this earth. I asked her if I could borrow her kids and her van for a couple of hours. She looked at me strangely but said, “Take them. Keep them as long as you want.”

First, I took those youngsters for ice cream cones, and then we stopped at the store, and we got candy and soda. When we pulled up in front of the dentist’s office, I gave them all a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Then we went inside

Seeing me, the receptionist said that the doctor was too busy to talk to me that day. Yeah, I’ve heard that story before. I told her no problem, I would just sit and wait in case he had an opening. Then I turned those little heathens loose in the office. Do you have any idea how much havoc four little kids on a sugar high can do in a professional office?

Within minutes there were peanut butter and jelly stains on the carpet, on one of the chairs in the waiting room, on the big saltwater aquarium, and on the wall. One of them toppled over a stand with a plant on it, and another, who was just about potty trained, pulled down his pants and peed on said plant, which was now lying on the floor. And let’s not forget the one who was wailing at the top of her lungs.

Unbelievably, the very busy dentist was out in the lobby within five minutes, wanting to know what the hell was going on. I told him it was good to see him, and that I had missed him. Then I asked him how his trip to Hawaii was. Before he could answer, one of the kids threw up on the couch. I think she may have had too much junk food.

He yelled above the bedlam and said I needed to get those kids out of there. I told him I couldn’t because I didn’t have enough gas to get back to my office. Then I suggested that maybe if he paid his bill, I could fill up the tank and we could both get back to our regularly scheduled day. He paid me, and I rounded up my pint-sized terrorists and away we went. Mission accomplished.

When I was in the White Mountains of Arizona, there was a gentleman who ran a power tool shop, and he was notorious for not paying his bills. He owed me $500 or something like that, and every time I tried to collect, he always had a story. I’ll give him credit, some of the stories were pretty good! Once, his sister, who did the bookkeeping, had been in a terrible automobile accident and was barely clinging to life. He said he would have to wait until he could find someone to fill her shoes to pay me. He didn’t even know where she kept the checkbook, but it was probably at her house. On another visit, he told me he had been having chest pains and was just on his way out the door to go to the ER. Probably the best one was the time when burglars broke into his office, and the only thing they stole was his checkbook. Not the thousands of dollars worth of chainsaws and other equipment sitting on the shelves, just the checkbook.

Well, those were not the only thieves in the world. One day I went in and handed him his invoice and said I really needed to be paid that day. He told me he was with some customers and I would have to wait until we could talk. The shop was pretty busy, I’ll give him that, but every time he had a break from a customer, he would disappear into the back room before I could get to him.

When you live in a small town, everybody knows everybody. While I was standing there, the local police chief wandered in the door. We were good friends, in fact, we belonged to the same classic car club. He asked what I was doing, and I said I was trying to collect a bill. He told me he was going to buy a chainsaw.

Hearing the chief, the owner of the store came out, and they started talking. I interrupted long enough to ask what the most expensive chainsaw he had in the shop was. He pointed me to something, I don’t remember the brand now, but I do know that it was $1500 for the saw, the case, and some other equipment that came with it. So, while he was busy with the chief, I picked it up and went outside and put it in the back of my truck. The chief came out shortly afterward, not finding what he wanted, and I told him what I had done. Knowing the man’s reputation, he got a chuckle out of that and wished me well.

Back in my office, an hour so later, the phone rang, and guess who it was? The gentleman from the store said he remembered seeing me looking at the chainsaw, but now he couldn’t find it. Did I put it someplace else? I told him I’d put in the back of my truck and brought it home with me. He asked why I did that, and I said I traded it for the $500 he owed me. He didn’t take kindly to that and told me that the saw cost three times as much as the past due bill. I agreed that was probably right, but I had no use for a chainsaw, and I would probably have to sell it at a great loss rather than be tempted to start it up and more then likely cut one of my limbs off.

He told me to bring it back, and I told him no. He said he would call the police, and I told him to be sure to ask for the chief, since he had seen the saw in the back of my truck. I suggested that the chief might even be a witness for the prosecution. We went back and forth like that for a few minutes, and finally, he said to bring the saw back to his office, and he would give me a check. Having played that game before, and having his checks bounce, I told him no, he would come to my office, with cash in hand. No checks, no promises, I wanted five $100 bills. I wouldn’t even take $50s or $20s. I wanted five $100 bills.

He didn’t appreciate that at all, and he called me some names that were downright hurtful. But he did show up at my office within 15 minutes and give me my money. I thanked him very much and said I hoped we could do business again. After all, I had my eye on a nice Rototiller he had sitting in the shop, too!

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 – If God ever made anything better than a good dog, He kept it for himself.

Paying The Price

 Posted by at 12:30 am  Nick's Blog
May 132024
 

I had been experiencing a lot of back pain the last couple of weeks, but it seemed to have eased up quite a bit. So yesterday we took advantage of the last good day we’re supposed to have before the week of rain that is predicted to start today to gather wood to put in the bottom of Terry’s three new raised planter beds.

We have a lot of downed wood on our property, some from storms last year and some that’s been down a long time, so finding what she needed was not a problem.

It took about two full loads of wood in the Kawasaki Mule for each planter bed, ranging from several inches in diameter down to branches. Gathering it wasn’t that hard since it was dry enough that it would break to size, though there were a few pieces I had to cut with a saw.

While we were doing that, we were also careful for snakes, because it’s that time of the year and we were in their backyard. Fortunately we did not see any, which was fine with us.

By the time we had the planters filled with wood to the level Terry wanted them to be, my back pain was just short of agony, and Terry’s wasn’t much better. We wanted to add dead leaves, compost and mulch on top of the wood, but neither one of us was up to it, so that project is going to have to wait a while.

Along with her back hurting, Terry collected some ant bites the other day which left her right forearm red and swollen and hot to the touch. By the time we got done with the wood yesterday it was weeping serum and she was feeling pretty miserable with the combination.

I had my share of bites too, though not nearly as severe. After we took showers to cool down and clean up, we each applied Benadryl cream and took a Benadryl tablet. After that I sat in my chair for a while and dozed off a couple of times, then woke up yelping from a spasm of pain.

At least the timing for that was good because Terry had dinner almost ready. After we ate, we watched a little bit of television and Terry spent some time in the massage chair. Then it was time to write the blog and call it an evening.

Hopefully by the time the rain lets up sometime toward the weekend we’ll both be feeling better and able to get started on the rest of the gardening.

Congratulations Ali Workentin, winner of our drawing for an audiobook of Dog’s Run, my mystery set in a small Ohio town in 1951. I have 55 books out, and I have to say that Dog’s Run is my favorite. It’s a gritty tale that is loosely based on 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.

We had 28 entries this time around. Stay tuned, a new contest starts soon. Note: Due to the high shipping cost of printed books and Amazon restrictions on e-books to foreign countries, only entries with US addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed. After 30 days, unclaimed prizes revert back to the drawing pool for a future contest.

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 stole this one from my pal and fellow author Cameron Lowe’s Facebook page.

Thought For The Day – Your crazy is showing. You might want to tuck that back in.

Happy Mother’s Day

 Posted by at 12:37 am  Nick's Blog
May 122024
 

Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers out there in blog land! What would we be without our mothers? Well, motherless, I guess. This year marks 33 years since my own dear mother passed away and I miss her every day. Do your mom and yourself both a favor and be sure to spend some time with her today, or if you are too far away physically, give her a call and tell her how much you love her. Trust me, when the time comes that she’s no longer with you, you will wish you had the opportunity once more.

We took advantage of having a nice day yesterday to get Terry’s last three raised planter beds placed in the garden where she wants them. The first step was me mowing the area where they are going to go, and then Terry used the weed eater to clean up close to the three existing ones.

Then we carried the new planter beds out and set them down and Terry laid cardboard down in the bottom of each one.

Once we had the planter beds in place, Terry used the Husqvarna riding mower on the front and side yard because they both needed mowing again already, and I got on the Kubota tractor and used the bush hog to knock down some of the head high weeds on the north perimeter road. I was able to carve a decent trail through there that we can get through with the Mule, but it still needs some more work.

When I was done with that, I decided to mow an area at the back of our pasture where there is a bunch of compost from when people used to keep horses out here. That proved to be a problem, because apparently at some point in the past someone threw a bunch of hay bales out there which eventually decomposed. But when I ran through that area with the bush hog, the old strings from the hay bales buried in the compost got wrapped all around the bush hog blades and shaft. I had to take it off the tractor, and I’ll have to spend a lot of time cutting away a mass of string before I can use it again.

Besides chasing after the tractor and keeping us company outside, Alli also spent some time playing with her XiaZ Retractable Rope Tug of War Toy. It’s connected to one of the corner posts of the old deck behind the garage and it gives her a real workout.

The plan today is to gather some broken branches and leaves to put in the bottom of the new planters as filler and then add compost and mulch. We are supposed to have heavy rain all of this coming week so we want to get as much done as we can.

Today is your last chance 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 55 books out, and I have to say that Dog’s Run is my favorite. It’s a gritty tale that is loosely based on 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, 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. After 30 days, unclaimed prizes revert back to the drawing pool for a future contest.

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 need to teach my facial expressions to use their inside voice.

Puppy Pedicure

 Posted by at 12:25 am  Nick's Blog
May 112024
 

As I said in yesterday’s blog, we lost power Thursday evening during a heavy thunderstorm. The storm let up after a few hours, but sometime around midnight we got hit again, with rain pounding down on the roof, and lots of thunder and lightning.

Through it all, our Generac whole house generator did just fine, and if we would not have heard it running, or known that the yard lights mounted on telephone poles were out, we wouldn’t have known the difference.

I’m not sure what time the second storm moved out of the area, but when I woke up around 5:30 a.m. to go to the bathroom it was gone, power had returned, and the generator was no longer running.

We had hoped to get some work done outside, getting Terry’s raised planter beds set up and ready to go, but the ground was too wet to do anything. So instead, I wrote another chapter in my next Tinder Street book, then went back and polished the chapter I had written a couple of days ago. By the time I knocked off I had about 3,500 words in for the day and felt like I had accomplished something.

Terry is always busy with 1,001 things, and one of her chores yesterday was to trim Alli’s toenails. Some dogs don’t like this procedure, but it doesn’t seem to bother Alli at all. She sits still while Terry clips her nails and then smooths them out with an emery board. She is definitely a pampered pooch.

The weekend weather is supposed to be good, and since we had a steady breeze most of the day yesterday, it helped dry things out somewhat. Hopefully we can get those planters set up, because next week is supposed to have rain just about every day.

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 55 books out, and I have to say that Dog’s Run is my favorite. It’s a gritty tale that is loosely based on 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, 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. After 30 days, unclaimed prizes revert back to the drawing pool for a future contest.

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 – Warranties are a legalized type of gambling; the house always wins.

Well That Sucked

 Posted by at 12:45 am  Nick's Blog
May 102024
 

Overall, we live a blessed life. We have a nice home, some critters we adore, friends and family we love, and a wonderful marriage. But even in the best of lives, some days are going to suck. Yesterday was a good example.

Terry had not been feeling great for several days and my back had been giving me fits, but by yesterday afternoon we were both feeling somewhat better. Not like we were kids again, but not bad for old farts. We needed to get some grocery shopping done, so we left the house mid-afternoon to go to Publix.

I had mentioned to Terry that I wanted to get another yellow diesel fuel can so I would have two whenever the Kubota tractor needed fuel. We saw an O’Reilly Auto Parts on the way and pulled in, and I left Terry in the truck with it running because it was a very hot day. After I bought the can and came back out and got in the truck, I backed out and started to pull out of the parking lot, and as I did,  another customer began backing out and backed right into the side of our Ram pickup.

It caved in the bottom of the passenger side rear door and part of the fender behind it. The man who hit us got out and immediately began apologizing, saying it was all his fault. I told him that things happen, and as long as nobody was hurt, the rest could be worked out. He called the police department, and while we were waiting for an officer to arrive, he mentioned that he had been a sheriff’s deputy in the area for a while.

It probably took half an hour or so for the officer to get there, and he knew the man who hit us. He told the officer that it was his fault, that he had backed right into us without looking, we exchanged insurance information, and the officer gave us a case number and sent us on our way. I called our insurance agent and we have to pick up a copy of the police report sometime next week and take it to them, and then they will get the ball rolling on making sure we get taken care of. Since the fellow who hit us has insurance and admitted fault, our agent didn’t think it would be a problem, just an inconvenience.

The weatherman had threatened storms Wednesday night and Thursday morning, but they didn’t develop. However, by the time we got our shopping done it was late in the afternoon and our phones were giving us alerts for severe weather in our area. Sure enough, about ten miles from home it began pouring, with lots of thunder and lightning.

We got home, and by the time the groceries were unloaded we were both soaked to the skin. After we had changed into dry clothes and everything was put away we just had sandwiches for dinner, and not long after we ate the power went out. Fortunately, our Generac whole house generator system kicked in, and as I write this it’s humming along out there and we have plenty of power here in the house.

About 11 o’clock I took the trash can out to the curb and by then it had stopped raining, but the news said we could expect some more possibly severe storms overnight. We have our weather radio and phones set for alert, but hopefully it will pass over us without any problems.

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 55 books out, and I have to say that Dog’s Run is my favorite. It’s a gritty tale that is loosely based on 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, 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. After 30 days, unclaimed prizes revert back to the drawing pool for a future contest.

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

Thought For The Day – There are over seven billion people in the world and I can only tolerate like six of them.

May 092024
 

Cyndi Lauper said it, so it must be true, right? I don’t know about all girls, but these three seem to prove her right. Our critters are always up to something, and they bring a lot of fun into our lives.

That’s BeeBee straddling the back of the chair and Mae Lin in the seat. And, of course, you all know Alli by now. If you ever see her without her orange Kong shaped toy in her mouth, you can bet it’s close by. She is sitting beside the bed with it in her mouth when we wake up in the morning, waiting for us to throw it for her with a look that says, “All right, guys, get with the program.” And when she goes to sleep at night, it’s either in her mouth or beside her in her bed.

If we are busy and she can’t get Terry or I to throw it for her, she will push it up onto one of the stools at the breakfast counter and nudge it until it falls off, or give it to Mae Lin, hoping she will push it off. Those two are good buddies and I think the cat likes Alli more than she does us. Alli likes to chase BeeBee around the house, and if she’s not paying attention, sometimes BeeBee will run up beside her to start the game. With these three hooligans, there’s never a dull moment.

After answering a few e-mails yesterday, I spent most of the day working on a timeline for 1942 for my current book, making notes of important events that happened in the country, and worldwide with the onset of America’s involvement in World War II. This isn’t just a war book. As much or more of the book will be about the people on the home front. How they dealt with rationing, shortages, and worrying about their loved ones in battle. Unfortunately, people die in wars, and that will include some people from Tinder Street, though I don’t know who or how it will happen yet.

Late in the afternoon, when the sun was low in the sky and it wasn’t so hot, we went outside and put the folding tonneau cover on the back of our Ram pickup. I took it off when Travis and I hauled a load of cement blocks to his place a while back and never got around to putting it back on. We like having it in place because then we can leave things in the truck’s bed, locked and secure.

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 55 books out, and I have to say that Dog’s Run is my favorite. It’s a gritty tale that is loosely based on 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, 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. After 30 days, unclaimed prizes revert back to the drawing pool for a future contest.

And finally, here’s a chuckle to start your day from the collection of funny signs we see in our travels and that our readers share with us. When Bob Martel sent me this picture, I thought he was getting recipes from the Cannibal Cookbook again.

Thought For The Day – It doesn’t matter how low the dollar will go, I will always bend down and pick it up.

Be Careful Out There

 Posted by at 12:35 am  Nick's Blog
May 082024
 

If you are among the millions of Americans in the path of the vicious storm systems that are tearing through the country, please be careful and take care of yourselves. Mother Nature seems to be on a real rampage.

Except for a lot of heat and humidity, and an occasional thunderstorm, our area of west-central Alabama has had it pretty good. The weatherman said that starting after midnight tonight and through the next day, we should see some storms with a lot of wind and rain and hail, but only the slight possibility of a tornado. Most of the bad weather is going north of us. But we are glad we have our tornado shelter in the garage just three or four steps from our side door, and our Generac whole house generator in case we lose power.

After this storm system passes through, Friday through Sunday are supposed to be cooler, with temperatures in the mid-70s. Hopefully, we can take advantage of that time to get Terry’s last three raised garden beds in place and filled. A combination of the heat, my bad back giving me a lot of grief, and some ongoing issues Terry has because of all the radiation during her cancer 20+ years ago, has kept us inside the last few days.

I’ve taken advantage of the time to get a lot more writing done on my new Tinder Street book, and yesterday after Terry finished editing and proofreading them and I made her suggested corrections, I sent seven more chapters off to Judy and Roberta to be proofread.

We have to make a trip to town one of these days to stock up on groceries, and I don’t know if that will be today or not. If so, I won’t get any writing done, but if we put it off for another day or two, I’ll be here at the keyboard, working my way through the events of World War II with the McNallys and their extended family. I’ve been writing about them for so long that they feel like part of my own family. That may be because I have incorporated some stories I heard from my parents and other relatives who lived during those troubling times in the book.

Besides all the editing and proofreading, and everything else she does to keep our home and business running smoothly, yesterday Terry made salmon patties for dinner. I haven’t had them since I was a kid, and they were delicious.

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 – All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence; then success is sure. – Mark Twain

May 072024
 

Here is anothre blog from my days publishing small town newspapers.

Publishing small-town newspapers on the Pacific Northwest coast and in Arizona was a lot of fun, and I like to think that sometimes my publications made a difference in the communities they served. I gained a reputation for stepping on toes, and that was all right with me because sometimes those toes really needed to be stepped on! I expected occasional repercussions, and I got them. Threats to kick my butt, to burn down my business or my house, and even death threats now and then. It only got physical a few times, which explains why I can hardly breathe through my nose and have almost no sense of smell.

But something I never expected in the small town newspaper business was the number of celebrities I would get to meet and interview.

They ranged from country and western bands and singers, including Crystal Gayle, Tanya Tucker, Don Williams, the Bellamy Brothers, Confederate Railroad, Tom T. Hall, and Michael Martin Murphy, with whom I exchanged Christmas cards for several years. And not only country acts, but also B.J. Thomas, James Taylor, one of the many incarnations of Herman’s Hermits, and Engelbert Humperdinck.

Musicians weren’t the only people I got to meet and interview. There were quite a few state and national political candidates, including two who were running for president. And occasionally someone from television or the big screen would wander into town and agree to give me some time. They included James Garner and Sally Field. One of the nicest men I ever met was Chuck Norris, who was nothing at all like the tough guy action figure that we assume he would be. He was humble, polite, and a lot of fun to hang out with for an afternoon.

Another Chuck who it was a thrill to meet was one of my own heroes, General Chuck Yeager, the first man to break the sound barrier, way back in 1947, and a fighter pilot who shot down five German aircraft in a single mission during World War II.

This happened when I was running my newspaper in the White Mountains of Arizona. General Yeager liked to fish on the White Mountain Apache Indian Reservation, adjacent to our community, and he became good friends with the head of the Apache Fish and Game Department. That gentleman’s wife worked at the high school in Pinetop-Lakeside, and she invited the general to come and talk to the senior class. I was surprised that he agreed to do it and even more surprised when they contacted me and the other local newspaper to attend the event and speak with General Yeager afterward.

Believe it or not, the other newspaper didn’t send anybody! When they were contacted, they asked who Chuck Yeager was, and when they were told, the response was “that’s ancient history.” That left me in the enviable position of being the only media person there.

General Yeager spent an hour with the students, telling them about some of his adventures and reminding them that if a poor boy from small-town West Virginia could make it like he did, even the sky was not the limit for them. He was a nice man, friendly and outgoing, and afterward, he opened the session for questions and answers.

I had an assistant with me on that visit. Not because I needed one, but because he insisted on tagging along. He was our local postmaster, who was also an accomplished hot air balloon pilot. I can’t tell you how many times I woke up early on a Sunday morning to the sound of Bill hovering over my house in his balloon, getting my German shepherd all riled up and barking its head off. It’s probably just a coincidence that I have a small-town postmaster who is a balloon pilot in Big Lake Lynching, the second book in the series.

Anyway, back to the general. As he was answering questions from the students, my friend, the postmaster, raised his hand and said, “General, if you have the time, I’d be honored to take you for a flight in my hot air balloon.” General Yeager, who still held a commission in the Air National Guard, looked at him with a twinkle in his eyes and said, “I flew here in an F-15, son. Balloons are for weenies.”

I don’t think the kids got the joke, but I laughed so hard I almost dropped my camera. While he still wouldn’t fly in Bill’s balloon, after the event at the school was over, the general autographed my copy of his autobiography, and we had lunch. I found him to be a lot of fun to talk with, and not at all impressed with himself or his many accomplishments. But that’s how real heroes are, right?

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

Thought For The Day – Don’t be afraid to be open-minded. Your brain isn’t going to fall out.