Handywoman

 Posted by at 12:58 am  Nick's Blog
Dec 042022
 

Our son Travis loves it when Dad comes to town, because he knows lots of projects around the house will get done. Not because I know how to do much besides get underfoot, but because Dad brings Mom with him. And as her T-shirt says, if Terry can’t fix it, we’re all screwed.

Travis has an amazing green thumb, and he could grow vegetables in a garden planted in concrete, but unfortunately, he inherited my lack of competency involving anything mechanical. So when he can’t figure something out, it’s Mom to the rescue!

This trip it was assembling a kitchen island cart for Geli. Travis and I look at all those pieces and parts and start getting headaches, but to Terry it’s child’s play. Fun child’s play.

As I’ve said before, some men buy their wives jewelry or sexy negligees, but nothing gets Terry’s blood rushing more than power tools.

It took her a couple of hours to get it put together, but she did a great job, as always, and the cart looks great. More importantly, it will give Geli much-needed extra storage and counter space and even act as a breakfast bar if they want.

And as they say in the late-night television infomercials, “Wait, there’s more!”  Travis picked up this cool little wall cabinet at a thrift store for $3 and refinished it, and once she was finished with the kitchen cart, Terry used a stud finder to mount it on the wall for him. That lady can do anything!

Believe it or not, I was even able to be somewhat helpful on this trip. The other day we went to Lowes so Travis and Geli could buy a bunch of plywood and lumber for some other projects they have planned. Since they only have a small compact car, we picked up their supplies with our truck to save them a delivery fee. And my veteran’s discount saved them a few bucks, though as it turns out, the discount does not apply to wood. I never knew that.

I have said before that the internet signal here at their house is very poor and unreliable, so after doing a lot of research, Geli had ordered an Amazboost signal booster kit from Amazon.

This is something I was actually able to help with, since it looks and works exactly like the old We Boost signal booster we used during our days as fulltime RVers. In fact, I am sure it is the same product rebranded with Amazon’s name for it.

While Terry was working on the kitchen cart, I helped Travis get it up and running. First we mounted the outside antenna on a ten foot long piece of electrical conduit, then I used a signal finder app on my phone to find a signal from a cell tower a few miles away and we pointed the antenna in that direction. What a difference it made!

Our cell phones went from one bar of service to five bars of 5G and very fast speeds with the inside antenna and signal booster just sitting on the table. That is definitely going to make life easier for them.

We secured the conduit to the back porch railing with zip ties, and today we will go back to Lowes to get some longer coax cable since the thirty feet supplied with the kit isn’t quite enough to reach where Travis wants to mount the rest of the system inside the house. I guess the old man is at least somewhat useful now and then. Not nearly as handy as Mom, but enough to keep him around for a while longer anyway.

Thought For The Day – No one wants to hear about your diet. Just eat your salad and be sad.

Dec 032022
 

We’ve all heard that if we’re not good little boys and girls, Santa will only leave us a lump of coal under the Christmas tree. I guess maybe that’s about half right, at least in my case. Here is the pretty Christmas tree that our daughter-in-law Geli and son Travis cut down on their very own property and Geli decorated. Isn’t it pretty?

And I got a lump of coal for Christmas. But it’s not the kind of coal that you can burn or grill steaks on. This is coal soap. The actual name of it is Big Ass Lump of Coal soap. I thought that it was because, well, let’s face it, I’m not exactly tiny, and we all know I can be an ass at times. But Travis says it’s because of the size of the bar. which is huge! Like maybe the size of three bars of Irish Spring.

What’s that, you ask? How can you bathe with coal and get clean? Don’t ask me, that’s a question way above my pay grade. But then again, how can a brown cow eat green grass and give white milk? It’s another one of life’s mysteries.

Our son Travis first introduced me to Lump of Coal soap a while back, and I really like it!  It smells great and it really works. If you need stocking stuffers for the men in your life, trust me, they’re going to love this! You can find it at Lowes, Tractor Supply, and, of course, on Amazon.

And before I close for the day, here is a quick Alabama sunset picture I took last night with my phone. It may not be as stunning as a sunset out in Arizona or New Mexico, but it’s still nice.

Thought For The Day – You are not a product of your circumstances, you are a product of your decisions.

No Blog Today

 Posted by at 12:23 am  Nick's Blog
Dec 012022
 

We arrived at our son’s house in Gordo, Alabama, yesterday. A tornado went through the area the night before. Fortunately, there was no damage except for a dead tree and some branches down. Internet is spotty here, and today I will help them put up a signal booster that will (hopefully) help. It’s a lot colder here in west central Alabama than in Florida!

A Dose Of Reality

 Posted by at 9:15 am  Nick's Blog
Nov 302022
 

Note: This is a repeat of a blog post from 2014 that is just as true today, and may burst someone’s bubble, but it’s something they need to understand about the fulltime RV lifestyle.

I get a lot e-mails and letters to the editor and see posts online from people with limited funds who want to go fulltime and are looking at older, usually entry level RVs. And many of those RVs have been sitting a long time, which is why they are for sale at relatively low prices. I really worry that a lot of folks are setting themselves up for disappointment.

I’ve always said that you don’t have to have the newest and best RV in the campground to enjoy the RV lifestyle, and that is true. However, an older RV can come with a lot of potential mechanical problems that can easily put you off the road needing expensive repairs. Tires alone can be a major investment and must be addressed on an older rig. They can look good but still be over-aged and a potential hazard. Even new high end RVs can and do have problems. That’s why extended warranty companies exist.

An older low mileage quality unit that was stored properly can be a good investment, but be aware that things like seals and tires will deteriorate, and a generator that has sat without being run for a long time is going to need some attention. All that adds up, fast.

If your idea of fulltiming is to park it someplace and live it in, that’s one thing. But to do much traveling, one has to be aware that it takes its toll on any RV, new or older, and hopefully you have the funds to handle problems that will likely arise. I hate to see people put all their money into something and then be stuck someplace broke down and with no money for repairs.

I’m not trying to say that if you can’t afford a new or late model RV that you should stay home. I’m just saying to do your homework, shop carefully, and be aware that you are going to have to spend money to keep whatever you have running, new or old. Our last rig was a 2002 Winnebago Ultimate Advantage that was eight years old and had 33K miles when we bought it. The previous owner bought it new and did not use it much, but he also ignored a lot of maintenance items. For example, he had never taken care of the slide seals, so they had to be replaced to the tune of over $2,000. The house batteries went bad, so he replaced them with regular car starting batteries. Another $600 expense for us. Also tires, for $2800. But we bought it right and factored those items into the purchase price.

Every week I hear from people who want to raise their kids on the road and homeschool them. I think that could be a wonderful way to grow up, but I get worried when I get ones like I did a few days ago from a family with five kids, looking at a 1987 travel trailer they planned to pull with a 2002 minivan. Another from a family looking at a 1991 Fleetwood Class A gas model that has been sitting for three years. Or worse yet, the couple with 13 and 16 year old sons who want to fulltime in a B van. They said they like spending time outside so they didn’t think the limited space would be a problem. I asked where everybody was going to sleep and they said mom and dad would use the bed across the back, one son would sleep on a dinette that converted to a bad and the other in the reclining passenger seat up front. Seriously? How long do you think that’s going to last on a fulltime basis?

Please understand that I’m not trying to be an elitist. I know what it’s like to be broke. Keep in mind that we lost everything after Terry’s cancer and had to start all over again. We bought a beat up old 1976 MCI bus and converted it ourselves and lived in it for over eight years. But I do think it’s important to inject a dose of reality into the fantasy that a lot of folks have about living on the road. It’s not all sitting around a campfire toasting S’mores and singing Kumbaya.

Thought For The Day – You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.

Nov 292022
 

Note: This story is from our days as fulltime RVers.

Just a half hour drive south of busy and modern Tampa, Gamble Plantation Historic State Park preserves the historic Gamble Mansion, the last surviving antebellum plantation home in South Florida.

Major Robert Gamble built his beautiful home between 1845 and 1850 as the center of operations for a large sugar plantation. Florida’s Gulf Coast from Crystal River south was an ideal area for growing sugar cane and many plantations thrived there.

When work began on the plantation, the Seminole Indians were strongly resisting the loss of their traditional homelands to settlers and government efforts to move them west to Indian Territory. That, combined with the harsh climate, natural predators, and disease, made construction a challenge. By the time the fields were cleared and the beautiful mansion was finished, the bottom had dropped out of the sugar market and prices had plummeted. Major Gamble found himself deeply in debt. He was forced to sell the plantation to meet his obligations and left the area.

The property went through a series of owners, and by the time the Civil War began, Captain Archibald McNeill owned the mansion. McNeill, a sea captain, became one of the most successful blockade runners due to his knowledge of the backwaters and inlets along the Gulf Coast to keep supplies and necessary products moving during the war.

On April 2, 1865, General Robert E. Lee informed Jefferson Davis that he could no longer protect the Confederate capital at Richmond, Virginia and advised him to evacuate. The Confederate president and his cabinet fled south. Refusing to admit defeat, Davis hoped to flee to a sympathetic foreign nation to form a government in exile. But before he could do that, he and his entourage were captured on May 10 near Irwinville, Georgia by a detachment of Union General James H. Wilson’s cavalry.

Confederate Secretary of State Judah P. Benjamin managed to escape capture and made his way to the Gamble Mansion a few days later. Using his intimate knowledge of the coast, Captain McNeill was able to set sail out of the Manatee River, which fronted the Gamble Plantation, and sneak out to sea under the guns of the Union blockade. He transported Benjamin to Nassau, in the Bahamas, safe from capture. Benjamin eventually reached England, where he went on to practice law. Some believe that a fortune in Confederate gold is still buried somewhere on the old plantation grounds or nearby, though one wonders how a man on the run, hiding out in the dense forests and swamps of Georgia and Florida while being pursued by the Union Army, could have managed to carry very much gold with him.

At its peak, the plantation included 3,500 acres, and more than 200 slaves worked the property and processed the sugar cane. Over the years there were other owners, and like many Southern homes of its period, the Gamble Mansion fell on hard times. But while many of the old plantation homes eventually disappeared, in 1925 the United Daughters of the Confederacy purchased the house and sixteen surrounding acres and donated them to the State of Florida to serve as a historic site and memorial to Judah P. Benjamin.

These days the beautifully restored house is open to visitors. It is an excellent example of what life was like for those who owned Florida’s plantations during the antebellum era. Many visitors are surprised to find that it was really more of a functional home than a glamorous showplace as in movies like Gone with the Wind.

The house is in the Doric Revivalist Vernacular architectural style. Its columns and two foot thick walls are made of tabby, a unique construction material created by mixing lime extracted by burning shells with sand and water. The carefully restored interior rooms display period furniture and items that would have been found in a home liked this during antebellum times. The parlor includes a beautiful piano and delicate China tea set.

Displays outside focus on the operation on the sugar mill, including a 40,000 gallon cistern that provide the household with fresh water, a large cane roller that was used to crush cane stalks to squeeze the juice out of them, and the ruins of the old sugar mill. If you time your visit right, you may see volunteers in historical costume demonstrating old time skills or talking about life on the plantation during its heyday.

The park also includes the restored two story Victorian style Patten House, which was built in 1872 for owner George Patten.

Located at 3708 Patten Avenue in Ellenton, Florida, Gamble Plantation Historic State Park is open daily from 8 a.m. until sundown, 365 days a year. The mansion itself is only open Thursday through Monday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tours are given six times daily on those days. The house and visitor center are closed on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day. The park and grounds are free to visit. There is a small admission fee for tours of the house. Parking could be difficult for a large RV. Visitors should leave their RV at one of the many local campgrounds and visit in their tow vehicle or dinghy. For more information about Gamble Plantation Historic State Park, call (941) 723-4536.

Thought For The Day – You have to put off being young until you can retire.

Whiter Than Rice

 Posted by at 1:20 am  Nick's Blog
Nov 282022
 

If you live in Florida and have a manufactured home or a house with siding on it, you’re going to have to learn to live with mold and mildew. It seems to collect on the exterior no matter what you do or what kind of products you use to repel it, and the only way to get rid of it that I know of is by pressure washing.

It’s been three years since we last had our place pressure washed, and it was beginning to look really funky. So I asked my buddy Jesse Bolton, who handles a lot of things for us around the house and can fix or build just about anything if he was up to the job. Jesse never sits still, and he started at about 8:30 yesterday morning.

What a difference it made! Three years’ accumulation of gunk gone in just a few hours. Jesse even got up on the roof, and pressure washed the fascia on the different levels. What a guy! Thanks, Jesse. We always appreciate everything you do for us.

Later on in the afternoon, I was outside picking up a couple of pieces of paper that had blown into the yard, and a neighbor walked by and said, “God, your house is whiter than rice! I need to put on sunglasses when I walk by it.” I sure wish it would stay that way, but I know that Mother Nature and Florida’s humidity will start undoing all of Jesse’s hard work in no time at all. Jesse says he doesn’t mind that. It’s job security for him. 😊

Terry finished proofing all the last few chapters I have done in my new book yesterday, as well as one more that I wrote while she was doing that. After I made the corrections she suggested, I read through things once more time and then sent it off to my proofreaders.

I have a phone conference with the attorney who set up our family trust this afternoon, and then we are going to be leaving for Alabama on Tuesday morning. We have some business to take care of up there, and we will probably be gone a week or so. As I’ve said before, the Internet signal at our son’s house is rather flaky at times, so I will do my best to post a blog when I can, but I can’t promise it will be every day.

The weather is supposed to be kind of ugly, but hopefully, most of the Thanksgiving travelers are back at home and at work by Tuesday, so at least we won’t have to fight all of those crowds as we make the trip. It’s a little over 600 miles, and we used to do that easily in a day, but as we have gotten older, we find that we prefer to break the trip up into two days. Everything slows down over time, including us.

And finally, here’s a chuckle to start your day from the collection of funny signs we see in our travels and that our readers share with us. It’s nice to know that whatever function you are throwing, these folks can handle it.

Thought For The Day – I will never forget who helped me in difficult times, who put me in difficult times, and who left me in difficult times.

Nov 272022
 

We are almost through this year’s hurricane season, which runs from June through the end of November, and the weatherman says there is no chance of anything happening between now and then. After dealing with two hurricanes in 43 days, that’s good news for us!

After making a delicious breakfast of banana pecan pancakes, Terry spent much of yesterday going over plans for her weaving project. Since this will be the first one on her new Louet Spring II loom, which is very different than any of her other looms, there is a learning curve. Terry says it is easier for her to set up and will do anything her bigger looms do, so she is planning to sell at least one, or maybe both of her Glimakara looms (below). It will give her a lot more space in her weaving room, which is very overcrowded. If you know anybody looking for a good deal on a loom, let me know.

I made some last minute changes to several more chapters of my new book and then printed them out for Terry. She will edit and proofread them today, and then I will send them off to my other proofreaders to do their thing.

Later in the afternoon, our friend Jim Lewis came over to visit for a while. Jim has been dealing with some health issues and doesn’t get out much anymore, so it was good to see him. We agreed that getting old is no picnic, but it’s (probably) better than the alternative.

Dinner was chicken quesadillas, and then we watched Where The Crawdads Sing on Netflix. We both want to read the book but have not gotten to it yet, but we agreed that the movie was one of the best we have seen in a long time. If you get a chance, check it out.

Since I am in Facebook jail for another day or two because they seem to think I am a degenerate, or at least less than polite to rude idiots, there are several people who have asked me questions in different writer and RV groups there that I have not been able to reply to. If you are one of them, send me a private message or e-mail, and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.

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 – Forgiving someone is easy, but being able to trust them again is a totally different story.

Never Left The House

 Posted by at 12:51 am  Nick's Blog
Nov 262022
 

While much of the country was up and out the door before dawn yesterday to stand in long lines waiting to get inside crowded stores, pushing and shoving to get to Black Friday “bargains” that really are not bargains, we slept in late yesterday. We needed to make up for the two early mornings and long days Terry had spent cooking and making preparations for Thanksgiving dinner. Then, after a light breakfast, we kept busy at home and never left the house all day.

Terry needed to recharge her mental and physical batteries and stayed in her office/loom room, catching up on e-mail and cruising the internet for much of the day until she fixed dinner. While she was doing that, I handled my morning e-mail, then finished reading through and correcting several chapters of my new Big Lake book. Today I will print them out for Terry to edit and proofread.

I also spent some time talking to a frustrated author friend who was scheduled to have surgery Monday but got an e-mail from the surgeon telling her the procedure had been canceled and she was no longer his patient. She told me last week that in a pre-surgery consultation, she had mentioned that she was an author, and when he asked her who her publisher was, she told him she was self-published. Apparently, the doctor considers himself an author, too, since he has a short story in an anthology for which he was not paid. He proceeded to tell her that self-published authors are a joke and that they were wasting their time because their books never sold. In truth, this author is very successful, pulling in the mid to high six figures every year, and while she didn’t go into a lot of detail, he got more upset the longer they talked. She tried to find out why the surgery was canceled and he was no longer her doctor but got no response. If that is the reason, I doubt he’s any better a surgeon than he is an author.

I am always amused and somewhat frustrated by people who think self-published authors are not “real” authors. It reminds me of an uncle I had who was a decorated World War II veteran and told me that Vietnam was not a “real” war. Well, the enemy’s bullets were sure real, and so is the money self-published authors make. But never try to confuse someone with facts when their mind is already made up.

We only have a few days before we leave town for a week or so to go up to Alabama, and I am working hard to crank out words to get this book finished. Wish me luck.

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 never thought of booze as an energy drink, but whatever works for you.

Thought For The Day – Eventually, you reach an age where you realize that silence is more powerful than proving a point.

Beyond Stuffed

 Posted by at 12:37 am  Nick's Blog
Nov 252022
 

The turkey wasn’t the only thing stuffed around here yesterday. Not by a long shot! Our friends Jesse and Jennifer had invited several people to their house for Thanksgiving dinner, and the ladies went all out getting ready for the big meal. Terry was up by about 8 o’clock Wednesday morning, making desserts, relish, and all kinds of other stuff. She didn’t stop until about 11 o’clock that night, and then she was up bright and early yesterday morning and back at it again! And she wasn’t the only one. Our friends Jennifer, Tami, and Kim were also doing the same thing.

Yesterday Jennifer and Tami each baked turkeys the traditional way while Terry smoked a turkey breast in her Orion smoker. It went on looking like this (top) and came out looking like this (bottom). And trust me, it tasted even better than it looked.

While the turkey was in the smoker, Terry was doing last-minute chores like making a big batch of rolls and some amazing pecan tassies.

I couldn’t begin to tell you all of the different delicious food that was loading down the table and counters in Jesse and Jennifer’s kitchen. All of that turkey, mashed potatoes, vegetables, and all kinds of delicious treats. By the time we finish stuffing our faces, I’m pretty sure all of us were ready for a nap.

I think there were ten of us at dinner, but nobody stood still long enough for me to get pictures of everybody. In this one, starting on the right, we have Jennifer, Kim, Scott, Scott’s son Tye at the end of the table, and then coming up on the left, Scott’s mother Pam, and our friend Jesse. Not shown are Miss Terry, Tami and her husband Dennis, or yours truly. A good time was had by all, and we appreciated the opportunity to spend time with our friends, blowing our diets.

Since I didn’t make my goal of finishing Big Lake Drunk by Thanksgiving, the next couple of days will be spent trying to wrap it up before we leave town on Tuesday. I am very close, but like they taught me in the Army, close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.

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 strongest people make time to help others, even if they’re struggling with their own personal problems.

Happy Thanksgiving!

 Posted by at 1:01 am  Nick's Blog
Nov 242022
 

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody. I hope wherever and however you celebrate the day, you are with people who love you.

When I think of what Thanksgiving is all about, I remember our first year as fulltime RVers. We were staying at an RV park in St. David, Arizona, a few miles from the Escapees RV Club’s Saguaro Co-op park in Benson.

We had spent the previous week at a dealer in the Phoenix area trying to get work done on our motorhome, and we had completely lost track of time. We were making the rounds at RV parks in the area, dropping off bundles of sample copies of the Gypsy Journal RV travel newspaper that we used to publish. When we stopped in at the Saguaro Co-op someone asked if we belonged to the club. I said yes, we did, and they asked if we were coming to Thanksgiving dinner that afternoon.

Terry and I were both surprised because we had no idea that it was Thanksgiving! We explained that we were new to the RV life and were staying at another nearby campground. With a welcoming smile, the lady we were talking to said, “That doesn’t matter, you’re part of the Escapees family, and we expect you to be here.” We tried to beg off, saying we didn’t have anything to bring to the potluck, and then a gentleman spoke up and said, “The only thing we want you to bring is yourselves. You’d better be here or we’ll come looking for you.”

That was our introduction to the Escapees, a large extended family of RVers, be they fulltimers, weekend campers, or snowbirds. We did go to that dinner, and we immediately felt like we were with family. That’s a pretty special feeling when you’re new to something and away from everybody you know.

Over time we joined several other RV organizations, as well as clubs for people with converted buses, which we later had. But we always told people that we might belong to FMCA or Good Sam or Bus Nuts, but we were Escapees. And even though we don’t RV anymore, we are still lifetime members.

I’ve had a lot of Thanksgivings in a lot of different places in my life. Sometimes I’ve been surrounded by family or good friends, and sometimes I’ve been all alone. I spent one of them in a bunker on the other side of the world and another at a hospital with a dear friend as his wife was fighting a losing battle with cancer. The one thing I learned in all that time is that it’s not about the turkey, or the dressing, or the pumpkin pie. It’s about the people you are spending the day with. I hope you have a good day wherever you are.

We will be leaving Tuesday to make a quick trip up to Alabama to take care of some business, and I’m not sure how long we will be gone. Maybe a few days, maybe as much as a week or so. Because it’s too hard to keep up with the free drawing entries when we are away from home, I won’t be holding one this week, and possibly not again next week, depending on when we return. But we will be back with more, I promise.

Thought For The Day – As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. – John F. Kennedy

Moving With The Music

 Posted by at 12:44 am  Nick's Blog
Nov 232022
 

Note: This is a blog about a fascinating museum we discovered in our travels as fulltime RVers.

We’re always looking for interesting places to visit and share with our readers, and we’ve found many wonderful and fascinating attractions while we’ve been poking around in every corner of America. But we’re always surprised at how many places that are right under our noses get overlooked while we research the next location down the road.

A good example is the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix, Arizona. Having called Arizona our home before we hit the road as fulltime RVers, and with Terry’s parents and sisters living here in the Valley of the Sun, we had seen signs and advertisements for the museum many times but never bother to check it out until now. Oh, what we have been missing!

With 14 galleries devoted to different geographical regions of the world, as well as an Artist Gallery and more, the 200,000 square foot museum is home to a collection of more than 15,000 instruments and associated objects. There is so much to see and do that you have to come early and stay late, because you’ll need every minute to see it all.

Jazz Exhibit

Interior_Orientation Gallery

Visitors are given hands free wireless headsets that play music keyed to the different exhibits as they move through the museums galleries. Don’t be surprised if you find your toes tapping and your body swaying to the music. I know ours did!

Turkey Exhibit

The variety of instruments on display is amazing! From primitive African drums to finely crafted guitars to a huge octobasse that towers over the room, there is something new to see everywhere you look.

Tom Lyre, Sudan

Ud, Iraq

Octobasse

You will also see instruments and stage costumes worn by some of your favorite stars of country, pop, blues, and rock and roll in the Artist Gallery.

Elvis Exhibit

Roy Orbison Exhibit

In the experience gallery, visitors can make their own music and actually play a variety of different instruments.

Experience Gallery

The Musical Instrument Museum is located at 4725 E. Mayo Boulevard in Phoenix and is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Parking is free but limited to passenger vehicles. Admission is $20 for adults, $15 for ages 13-19, and children ages 4 -12 are $10. Children under 4 are admitted free. Complimentary wheelchairs, scooters, and walkers are available. For more information, call (480) 478-6000.

Thought For The Day – Sometimes the thoughts in my head get bored and go for a stroll out through my mouth. This is never a good thing.

Busy As Bees

 Posted by at 12:49 am  Nick's Blog
Nov 222022
 

Even though I didn’t get any writing done yesterday, we were as busy as bees and got a lot accomplished.

After dealing with the morning’s load of e-mail, which seemed to be larger than normal for some reason, including not one, not two, but three different people contacting me who are generals or presidents of banks in other countries wanting me to know that one of their recently departed clients want me to be the benefactor of their estates which, depending on the e-mail, range anywhere from $16 million to over $55 million. My poor accountant works hard enough as it is, so I didn’t reply to all of those wonderful offers because I don’t want to put any more work on her than I have to.

I also had an e-mail from someone complaining that he has entered our free drawing every week for over a year and never won. I replied that the reason he has not won is because his entries immediately go into the spam folder because he insists on using funny names like Mighty Mouse and Superman, even though I very specifically say that you must enter with your own name. He shot back a reply saying he would never put his real name online, and I replied that his name is in his e-mail address. His reply to that was that since I had his name on his e-mail address, he shouldn’t have to use it in the contest. I didn’t bother replying to that one because the conversation was not going anywhere.

While I was doing that, Miss Terry was packaging the book from last week’s contest to send to the winner, who used his real name.

We left the house to go to my doctor’s appointment to get the results of the MRI I had on my hand and wrist last week. The doctor said it shows some degenerative damage as well as an issue with some tendons, and he is referring me to an orthopedic specialist. I didn’t have to go to a doctor to find out I was a degenerate. People tell me that all the time.

When we were done there, we went to Space Coast Credit Union and paid off Terry’s Chrysler Pacifica. We still had about a year to go on the loan, but I like to pay things off early and get them out of the way. We did the same thing with our house, my Mustang, and the pontoon boat. The truck will be the next one that we start making extra payments on, to whittle the balance down enough to pay off. People don’t realize how paying even an extra $50 or so a month on something reduces the balance dramatically because that applies directly to the principal.

Our next stop was at the post office to send the book to the contest winner, and by then it was getting late in the afternoon, and we hadn’t eaten, so it was time for vittles. We went to the Bagel But and had Cuban sandwiches and split an order of French fries, all of which was very good.

With our tummies full, we went to a trailer dealer near our house to get some prices on cargo trailers and find out what our half-ton Ram pickup is capable of towing safely. We are looking at trailers because there may be something coming up that we will need to be able to haul a bunch of things in. I’ll tell you more about that when I know more.

Then it was to Publix so Terry could buy several things she needed for Thanksgiving dinner, as well as some stuff to restock here at the house. I was surprised that the store wasn’t very crowded, but a friend of ours who works there told us that we had just missed the rush, and they expect to be crazy busy for the next couple of days.

After that, it was a quick stop across the street at Walgreens to pick up a prescription and then we came home. As I said, it was a busy day. We’re supposed to have rain for the next two days, and I plan to spend them working on my new book. I’m very close to the end now, and I want to see how it all comes out!

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

Thought For The Day – Why is lemonade made from artificial flavors, but furniture polish is made from real lemons?

Nov 212022
 

Well, Thanksgiving week is upon us, and that means it’s almost that time of year. Time for the stores and malls to be flooded with people pushing and shoving to buy something for somebody who probably doesn’t even want what they’re buying, and then will spend the next year paying everything off so they can do it all over again next year. Isn’t that the American way?

As for me, I make it a point to avoid those kinds of places as much as possible from this week through the middle of January. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy buying gifts for the people I love, and I try to make sure that they get something they really want for Christmas. But with online shopping, it’s so much easier. And if I do buy something retail, I try very hard to do so from a small, locally owned business, even if it costs a few dollars more. Those people are my neighbors whether I know them or not, and I would rather support them than some big box store whenever possible.

I mentioned the other day that friends have invited us to their house for Thanksgiving dinner, but trust me, come Black Friday, this kid isn’t leaving the home. I’ll leave all that nonsense to the senseless hordes of shoppers who are excited because they’re going to save a buck or two on something and don’t mind clawing their way through a crowd to get to it.

Besides, Black Friday shopping can be very dangerous. Just ask Raymond Winters. He was an everyday family man who went shopping the day after Thanksgiving and found himself in a world of hurt, accused of murder, suddenly jobless, estranged from his family, and not knowing what his future would be or if he would even have a future. You can read all about it in my book Black Friday. That would be a better way for you to spend the weekend than going to the mall anyway.

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

Congratulations, Marshall McLaurin, winner of our drawing for an autographed copy of Big Lake Scandal, the fifth book in my Big Lake mystery series. It’s the story about what happens when the richest man in Big Lake is murdered on the night he announced his bid for State Senator. The list of suspects stretches all the way from the small mountain town to the Governor’s office, and Sheriff Jim Weber’s investigation reveals a web of secrets, illicit sex, and shattered lives that teach him that nothing is what it appears to be and that sometimes the people we think we know are not at all what we believe them to be.

We had 76 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 and audiobooks to foreign countries, only entries with US addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed.

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

One Man’s Trash

 Posted by at 12:58 am  Nick's Blog
Nov 202022
 

We’ve all heard the old saying that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, and that is never more true than at an antique show. It’s always interesting to see the things that our parents and grandparents used up and wore out now becoming collectible. And there’s no better place to see an amazing collection of such things than at the big Renninger’s Antique Extravaganza, which is held three times a year in Mount Dora, Florida. Vendors from all over the country come to the show to offer everything from antique rocking chairs, and milk churns to old farming implements, any kind of tool you could ever imagine, rocks and geodes, metal signs, and more. Antique collectors and people looking for a fun day out come from far and wide to see what they have on display.

This show is huge, and you can’t see it all in a day. It’s just impossible. But yesterday, Terry and I, and our friends Jesse and Jennifer, did our best to see as much as we could. It was a beautiful day, not too hot, and with a pretty blue sky overhead. We wandered around through row after row of vendors, looking for treasures. Does anybody need a vintage copper wash tub to clean up after your holiday dinner?

Besides highway and street signs, there are all kinds of signs from businesses from long ago on display.

There was a lot of antique furniture as well as some custom stuff like this beautifully carved chair. I didn’t sit in it, but I bet it was comfortable.

All four of us found something we just had to bring home, ranging from Carnival glassware for Jennifer to an old stop sign for me, Terry bought a silverplate cruet set, and Jesse found a beautiful wooden burl that he will use for one of his woodworking projects.

By the time we were just too worn out to see any more my back was killing me, but it was worth it to have such a fun day out with our friends. Back in New Smyrna Beach, we went to Uncle Chicken’s for dinner, then later in the evening, after I napped in my recliner for a while, we had some of Terry’s delicious homemade apple crisp. The perfect way to end a perfect day.

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.

Today is your last chance to enter our Free Drawing for an autographed copy of Big Lake Scandal, the fifth book in my Big Lake mystery series. It’s the story about what happens when the richest man in Big Lake is murdered on the night he announced his bid for State Senator. The list of suspects stretches all the way from the small mountain town to the Governor’s office, and Sheriff Jim Weber’s investigation reveals a web of secrets, illicit sex, and shattered lives that teach him that nothing is what it appears to be and that sometimes the people we think we know are not at all what we believe them to be.

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 and audiobooks to foreign countries, only entries with US addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed.

Thought For The Day – The difference between who you are and who you want to be is what you do.

Nov 192022
 

Note: This is a repeat of a blog post from our days as fulltime RVers.

As soon as the first European settlers arrived in the New World, conflicts for control of the land began between the newcomers and the Native people who had always called what would become America home. Conflicts that would result in bloodshed and tragedies on both sides. As colonists pushed ever inland from the coast, wars were fought, treaties were made and broken, and year after year the Indians were pushed further back.

George Washington proposed a system of assimilation that encouraged the Indians to adopt the white man’s way of life, convert to Christianity, learn to speak and read English, and become one with the people of the newly formed United States. A major part of this new culture was the idea of individual land ownership, something that was totally alien to the Indians’ beliefs. How could one man own the land, any more than he could own the wind or the water?

But while assimilation may have been the official policy of the new country, in reality, individual greed and the belief that the Indians were no more than savages put more and more pressure on the government to force them off their traditional lands. By the time Andrew Jackson became president in 1829, public opinion was strong that they needed to be removed from their coveted lands by any means necessary, including force.

In 1830, Congress passed the Indian Removal Act, which authorized negotiations with southern Indian tribes for their removal to federal territory west of the Mississippi River in exchange for their ancestral homelands. Understandably, many tribes resisted the idea, which resulted in the forced expulsion of tens of thousands of Indians to the west, an event that became known as the Trail of Tears.

The hardships suffered by the Indians on their long trek west were nothing short of shameful. Prodded forward by armed troops, provided little in the way of food and supplies, and prohibited from hunting for food along the way, many of them perished before they ever arrived in their newly allotted land. And for those who did make it, even more problems lay ahead. To the whites, all Indians were the same, while in reality there were many cultural differences between the tribes, and many times traditional enemies were forced onto the same land. It was inevitable that trouble would follow.

In 1824, Fort Gibson was established near present-day Muskogee, Oklahoma to keep the peace between the newly arrived Western Cherokee and the Osage, who had been there much longer. Hostilities between the two had grown to the point where open warfare was likely.

A site was chosen near the mouth of the Grand River, and construction of the fort, a rectangular assortment of log buildings connected by a sturdy log stockade, with two-story blockhouses in diagonal corners, was supervised by Lieutenant Colonel Matthew Arbuckle. At that time it was the furthest west military post in the United States.
For the next 70 years Fort Gibson was a vital military post on the western frontier. It served as a final stop on the Trail of Tears for thousands of Cherokee, Creek, and Seminole Indians, a supply point before they went to their assigned lands, and a refuge for the often starving victims of the forced overland march.

Established in 1824, Fort Gibson served as a starting point for several military expeditions that explored the west and sought peace between the tribes in the region. It was occupied through most of the Indian Removal period then abandoned in 1857. The post was reactivated during the Civil War. The army stayed through the Reconstruction and Indian Wars periods, combatting the problem of outlaws and squatters. In 1890, the army abandoned Fort Gibson for the last time.

During its busiest time, while the Trail of Tears was active, the garrison at Fort Gibson ranked as the largest in the country. Among the many well known soldiers who were stationed at or passed through Fort Gibson headed for other assignments were Zachary Taylor (who would become the 12th president of the United States), Robert E. Lee (who would resign his commission to lead the Confederate army during the Civil War), Jefferson Davis (later president of the Confederate States of America), famed soldier and explorer Stephen W. Kearny, Nathan Boone (the son of Daniel Boone), and Sam Houston, who owned a trading post in the area before going on to Texas and leading its
struggle for independence from Mexico.

One relatively unknown but notable person who survived a brutal winter march along the Trail of Tears and spent some time at the fort was Milly Francis, dubbed the “Creek Pocahontas” by soldiers fighting in the First Seminole War.

In 1861, during the early days of the Civil War, Confederate troops seized the fort and held it until the next year before withdrawing as Union troops advanced on the area. Concerned that the Confederates would try to retake the position, a network of earthwork fortifications that completely enclosed the fort were built that would serve as a deterrent to any attempt to attack the fort.

The post was the launching point for the Battle of Honey Springs in July, 1863. Sometimes called the “Gettysburg of the West,” it was an important victory for Union forces in seeking to gain control of the Indian Territory. It was the largest confrontation between Union and Confederate forces in what would eventually become the state of Oklahoma. The battle was unique in the fact that on both sides, white soldiers were the minority. African American troops serving in the Union army and Indians supporting the Southern cause in the hope of regaining their traditional lands, made up most of the fighting force.

After the Civil War U.S. troops continued to occupy and improve the fort for the next quarter century. New buildings were constructed and the military presence helped ensure peace between the Indians and the settlers who were moving westward to help protect Indian Territory from the outlaws who preyed on the whites and Indians alike. But by 1890, the military decided Fort Gibson was no longer necessary and it was abandoned.

During the Great Depression days of the 1930s, the fort’s original log stockade and buildings were reconstructed by the Works Progress Administration (WPA). Today the sites of both the original log stockade and the later second, larger post are now part of Fort Gibson Historic Site, which is maintained by the Oklahoma Historical Society. A museum at the fort tells visitors about its important role in our history and serves as a guide to the different parts of the historic site.

Surviving or reconstructed structures include barracks, the powder magazine, post hospital, and other buildings. They are furnished much as they were during the days of the Trail of Tears.

Among the points of interest on the self-guided walking tour of the park is a small section of the original earthworks built during the Civil War, when the post was renamed Fort Blunt for a brief period.

Nearby Fort Gibson National Cemetery is the final resting place of soldiers who served at Fort Gibson and in later conflicts.

Today visitors can stop at the Commissary Visitor Center, which has museum exhibits about the history of the region, then explore the old fort, which is a National Historic Landmark, watch special living history events and programs throughout the year, and learn about the Trail of Tears and what became of the soldiers who served there and the people they were sent to protect.

The old fort is located at 907 N. Garrison, in Fort Gibson, Oklahoma. The fort is open Tuesday – Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and admission is free. For more information about Fort Gibson, call (918) 478-4088.

Be sure to enter our latest Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an autographed copy of Big Lake Scandal, the fifth book in my Big Lake mystery series. It’s the story about what happens when the richest man in Big Lake is murdered on the night he announced his bid for State Senator. The list of suspects stretches all the way from the small mountain town to the Governor’s office, and Sheriff Jim Weber’s investigation reveals a web of secrets, illicit sex, and shattered lives that teach him that nothing is what it appears to be and that sometimes the people we think we know are not at all what we believe them to be.

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 and audiobooks to foreign countries, only entries with US addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed.

Thought For The Day – Despite the high cost of living, it still remains popular!

Another 51 Done

 Posted by at 12:46 am  Nick's Blog
Nov 182022
 

5,100 words that is. Yesterday was another writing day for me, and things were flowing well, allowing me to get another two chapters, over 5,000 words, done in my new book. Can I wrap it up by Thanksgiving and have it out by the end of the month? I sure hope so.

Terry was just as busy, finishing editing and proofreading six chapters I wrote earlier. I will make her suggested changes today and get them sent off to my other proofreaders. Someone asked me if I make every change Terry suggests or do we sometimes disagree on something in a manuscript. Yes, we sometimes disagree, but she’s usually right, and I go with what she suggests. Just as I do with my other proofreaders. That’s why I have them. I can write a story, but they are the ones that polish it up and make it worth reading.

What are your plans for Thanksgiving? I said a couple of times that I wanted to follow the tradition that we established when we were fulltime RVers of going to a Chinese buffet for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners. It just seems a lot easier to me than all of the fuss and work of making a big dinner that takes hours to prepare and gets eaten in 15 minutes. But friends invited us to join them, so that’s the plan this year. They are cooking one turkey, and Terry is also going to smoke a turkey breast to add to the meal. I do love smoked turkey, no question about that!

Several years ago, we were with some folks who made fried turkey for Thanksgiving. I wasn’t sure how that would be, but it turned out to be absolutely delicious. I told Terry one of these days we may have to get a fryer and try it ourselves. But then I saw videos on YouTube of people burning down their houses and decided that maybe that’s not such a good idea after all. Let’s see, a klutz, an open flame, and hot oil. What could possibly go wrong?

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 Big Lake Scandal, the fifth book in my Big Lake mystery series. It’s the story about what happens when the richest man in Big Lake is murdered on the night he announced his bid for State Senator. The list of suspects stretches all the way from the small mountain town to the Governor’s office, and Sheriff Jim Weber’s investigation reveals a web of secrets, illicit sex, and shattered lives that teach him that nothing is what it appears to be and that sometimes the people we think we know are not at all what we believe them to be.

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 and audiobooks to foreign countries, only entries with US addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed.

Thought For The Day – I don’t know where you got your opinion from, but I hope you kept the receipt.

Nov 172022
 

A cold front has descended on much of the country, including here in Florida, and what a difference a day makes! The high here in Edgewater yesterday was 82 degrees, and today the weatherman says we can expect the high to be just 62. That’s a big difference! Break out the long johns, baby, Daddy’s shivering.

But I won’t complain about it because it’s a nice break from the hot, humid summer. And if the weatherman is to be believed, which I would never bet money on, we have seen the last of the high temperatures for this year, and there is very little chance of any more hurricanes this season. That’s just fine with me. We are entering the best time of year to live here on the Central Coast.

If this keeps up, before long we’ll be getting the kayaks wet again and the pontoon boat out of the garage. I’m definitely looking forward to that.

But first, I need to knock off those last few chapters of my latest book, Big Lake Drunk. Terry is busy editing and proofreading the last six chapters I gave her, and I hope to be able to send them off to my other proofreaders very soon.

However, we do plan to take Saturday off to go to Mount Dora for the big Renninger’s Antique Extravaganza, which is always a fun getaway. Antique dealers from all over the country come there to offer their wares, and even if we don’t buy something (who am I kidding, we always do), it’s fun just to poke around the different vendor booths and see all of the goodies on display. I keep hoping I will find a nice oak or walnut coat rack to hang all of my hats on, and I would absolutely love to find an old or even nice reproduction cigar store Indian. I’m not sure where I would put it since my office is pretty full already, but my slot machine might have to find a new home if I did.

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

It’s Thursday, so it’s time for a new Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an autographed copy of Big Lake Scandal, the fifth book in my Big Lake mystery series. It’s the story about what happens when the richest man in Big Lake is murdered on the night he announced his bid for State Senator. The list of suspects stretches all the way from the small mountain town to the Governor’s office, and Sheriff Jim Weber’s investigation reveals a web of secrets, illicit sex, and shattered lives that teach him that nothing is what it appears to be, and that sometimes the people we think we know are not at all what we believe them to be.

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 and audiobooks to foreign countries, only entries with US addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed.

Thought For The Day – It doesn’t matter what you think of me because my friends inside my head think I’m amazing.

Up, Up, And Away!

 Posted by at 2:02 am  Nick's Blog
Nov 162022
 

The Artemis I rocket was scheduled to launch weeks ago, but technical delays, fuel leaks, and hurricanes kept pushing things back. The window for the latest launch opened at 1:04 a.m. this morning, but even an hour before that, the ground crews were struggling to deal with last minute details and problems that were cropping up. The rocket finally lifted off from the Kennedy Space Center at 1:48, and it certainly rocked the coast!

Of course, things are always happening right here on Earth, too. Yesterday I had an MRI on my right hand and wrist to see if they could figure out why I have been having so much pain the last few months. We normally have to go to Port Orange for MRIs and CT scans, but the company recently opened another facility in New Smyrna Beach, which is much closer to home. They asked me to arrive 30 minutes before my scheduled procedure, which we did, and they weren’t very busy, so we were in and out in good time.

When we left there, we stopped at Sweetwater Medical Supply, which provides my CPAP equipment, because they sent me the wrong hoses on the last shipment. While I was there, I also got a chin strap, which is supposed to help keep my mouth from opening when sleeping.

That only took a few minutes, and then we stopped at A OK Guns a couple of blocks away. In a blog post titled Busting Clays that, I wrote about shooting trap at our son’s house up in Alabama a couple of weeks ago, I reported that I had bought Terry a used Remington Model 1100 semi-automatic twelve-gauge shotgun a while back, but it doesn’t fit her well. I had purchased it from A OK Guns at a gun show a month or so before that, and when I stopped in last week, I mentioned that I needed to find something else for Terry that would fit her better. These folks are excellent to do business with, and the owner said if the gun didn’t work for her, I needed to pick out something else that would.

That something else turned out to be a new 20-gauge Charles Daly over-and-under, which I think will be much nicer for her. The owner of the shop gave me back all of the money I paid for the Remington, which covered the cost of the new shotgun, and put some cash back in my pocket. Then I made the mistake of looking around a little bit more and spotted a beautiful classic Beretta Silver Pigeon 20-gauge over-and-under. When it comes to fine shotguns, this is way up towards the top of the list in my mind and I’ve always wanted one. He made me an offer I couldn’t refuse, so it came home with us, too. Since I didn’t have a case to put it in, he loaned me one of his, and I wanted to drop it back off while we were in the area yesterday. I decided not to look at anything else because I didn’t want to hurt my credit card that much in one month, so I just dropped it off and got the heck out of there, budget intact.

From there, it was just another block or so to Stavro’s Pizza for an early dinner, which was as delicious as always.

After we ate, we decided to drive down and check out Flagler Avenue and the beach before we headed home. There are still lots of trees down in the area, and some of the shops still show damage from Hurricane Ian. Scientists predicted that as the water levels rise and the beaches erode, there are going to be fewer and fewer of beaches as the years go by. If yesterday was any indication, I believe that’s true because probably more than 1/3 of the beach is gone now. But that didn’t keep the surfers and a few families from being out having fun, even though it was a gray, cool day.

And why go to the beach unless you can take a picture of a pretty lady there, right? This is definitely the prettiest one I’ve ever seen on any beach anywhere.

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 never thought I would be one of those people who get up early to exercise, and it turns out I was right.

We Never Slow Down

 Posted by at 12:55 am  Nick's Blog
Nov 152022
 

It seems that we never slow down for very long. While we might get behind schedule sometimes, like I am with my new book, we are always busy doing something. Part of that this year was traveling, part of it was writing, part of it was dealing with medical issues, and some other things that have come up.

Let’s talk about writing and my new book first. Yesterday I finally completed my first read-through of six more chapters (somewhere around 16,000 words) and made changes to the way the story flowed, and corrections to errors that I spotted. Then I printed them out for Terry to edit and proofread, and once I make her changes I will send them off to my other two proofreaders. I’m over 66,000 words now, so probably somewhere past the three-quarter point of the book. Of course, I never have an exact word count on my Big Lake books. They have ranged from 67,000 words for Crazy Days In Big Lake to over 100,000 words for Big Lake Lynching. Wherever this one ends up, I’m getting close.

So what else is going on with us? When I spend several days or a week at a time chained to my desk as I have been, I eventually reach a point where I have to get out for a while. I reached that point Sunday and told Terry that we needed to go to Daytona Beach for dinner at Hibachi Grill & Supreme Buffet. It had cooled down quite a bit, so I opted for a for long sleeve shirt, and I was glad I did because by the time we got home, it was downright chilly!

Miss Terry has been busy getting things set up for her weaving project, but that never stops her from being the best cook in the world. Last night’s dinner was huge, delicious golden fried chicken breasts, along with fried corn that she cut off the cob. We’re talking about some good food there, folks. 😊

For the last few months, I’ve had a lot of pain on the outside of my right wrist, where the little bone is, about where you would wear a wristwatch if it was on your right hand. I really feel it a lot when I’m busy working at the computer, and I thought it was carpal tunnel syndrome. But when we were at our doctor’s for our checkups last week, I told him about it and he said no, he thinks it’s something else. So today I get to go for an MRI so they can see what might be wrong in there. If it’s not carpal tunnel, I suspect it might be arthritis since I have that in my fingers and some of the joints in my back. I’m telling you right now, getting old isn’t for sissies! But it still beats the hell out of the alternative, doesn’t it?

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

Thought For The Day – You can’t hold on to people you have outgrown. It’s like trying to wear clothes that are too small.

He Created Horror

 Posted by at 12:25 am  Nick's Blog
Nov 142022
 

Note: This is a repeat of a blog post from our travels as fulltime RVers. 

He has been called the man who created the horror literary genre with his stories of murderers, madmen, people being buried alive, and mysterious women who return from the dead. Though Edgar Allan Poe is widely acknowledged as the inventor of the modern-day detective story and was an innovator in the science fiction genre, his fame rests on his tales of terror and the macabre, as well as on his haunting lyric poetry. And more than 165 years after his own death, the works of Edgar Allan Poe are even more popular than they were when he was alive.

Born in Boston on January 19, 1809, Poe was the second of three children born to traveling actors David and Elizabeth Poe. In those days acting was a disreputable profession, and Poe seemed to be haunted by his parents all of his life. His father abandoned the family, and by the time he was three years old his mother had died, leaving his siblings and himself orphans.

The children were taken in by different families and raised in Richmond, Virginia. Poe was raised by a wealthy tobacco merchant named John Allan and his wife Frances. While Mr. Allan hoped the boy would grow up to become a businessman, Poe dreamed of becoming a writer. By age of thirteen, he had compiled enough poetry to publish a book, but the headmaster at his school advised his foster father not to allow him to do so.

Poe was a talented and intelligent boy who excelled at athletics but often had trouble fitting in with his classmates. One described him as being “imperious, and though of generous impulses, not steadily kind or even amiable.”

Poe left Richmond in 1826 to attend the University of Virginia. While there he did very well in his classes but always short of funds, he began gambling and soon found himself deep in debt and had to burn his furniture to keep warm during the winter.

Furious with his foster father for not giving him enough money to pay for his education and living expenses, Poe returned to Richmond only to discover that his fiancée, Elmira Royster, had become engaged to another man in Poe’s absence. Humiliated and heartbroken, Poe soon enlisted in the Army, but not before publishing his first book, Tamerlane, when he was only eighteen.

With the help of John Allan, Poe received an appointment to the United States Military Academy at West Point, but he only stayed a few months before being kicked out. Broke and in debt, Poe moved to Baltimore and lived with his aunt Maria Clemm. He soon fell in love with her young daughter, Virginia.

He continued to write both poetry and short stories and caught the attention of Thomas Willis White, owner and publisher of the Southern Literary Messenger, located in Richmond. White published many of Poe’s stories and eventually hired him as an assistant editor. Although he admired Poe’s literary talents, White was not happy with his intemperance and his harsh literary reviews. White once wrote that Poe only read books so he could ridicule their authors. Still, he gained national recognition for his work at the Messenger.

On May 15, 1836, the 27-year-old Poe married his cousin Virginia in Richmond. She was only thirteen, which was legal as long as she had her father’s consent. However, her father was dead, so Poe falsely claimed that she was 21 in the marriage bond he filed in Richmond. By all accounts, it was a happy union, and though money was tight, Poe hired tutors and music instructors for his young bride. Sadly, the marriage lasted only eleven years; Virginia died in 1847 of tuberculosis when she was just 24 years old.

Following Virginia’s death, a heartbroken Poe bounced around from New York City to Boston and back to Richmond, working as editor at a couple of different publications and writing and selling his poems and short stories to many of the magazines of the day, but never really achieving financial success. He became a champion for higher wages for writers as well as for an international copyright law.

The publication of one of his most beloved stories, The Raven, made Poe a household name. He was able to draw large crowds to his lectures and to demand better pay for his work.

But with his growing success came growing criticism, and many of the authors he had besmirched in the past looked forward to his downfall. Indeed, even with his growing fame, Poe was on a downward spiral. There were rumors of alcohol and drug abuse, though these may have been unfounded or exaggerated by his enemies.

On a trip to Philadelphia, Poe stopped in Baltimore and disappeared for five days. He was eventually found in rapidly declining health and was sent to Washington College Hospital, where he died on October 7, 1849 at the age of forty. The exact cause of Poe’s death still remains a mystery.

Just as the often bizarre characters in his stories captured the public imagination, so, too, has Poe himself. Most see him as a morbid, mysterious figure tortured by his past and seemingly fated to die alone and bitter, but much of that is pure legend fostered by Poe’s greatest literary rival, Rufus Griswold. Griswold hated Poe because of the scathing reviews of his own work that Poe had written, and after his death, he took every opportunity to defame his enemy.

Griswold wrote an obituary and later a memoir that portrayed the late author as an amoral drunkard given to womanizing, who had burned every bridge he ever crossed. Unfortunately for him it backfired, and today, while Poe’s name is a household word, Griswold is merely remembered as the author’s first biographer.

Today the Poe Museum, housed in the oldest home in Richmond, Virginia, honors the memory of the troubled author who brought the world such great works as The Tell-Tale Heart, The Murders in the Rue Morgue, The Cask of Amontillado, and the last complete poem he composed, Annabele Lee.

Though Poe never lived in the home, which dates back to around 1750 (none of the places where he lived in Richmond have survived), the museum has the largest collection of the famous author’s personal belongings and memorabilia in the world. Displays include many items from his life and examples of his many works. These include the bed he slept on as a boy while living with the Allans, the writing desk he used while working at the Southern Literary Messenger, complete with the chair that Thomas White is said to have cut the back from to encourage Poe to sit up straight, and the pair of Old Sheffield Plate candelabra under which he wrote The Bells.

Other items in the museum’s collection include first editions of several of Poe’s poems and stories, a page said to be from one of his West Point textbooks, a small trinket box and mirror that belonged to Virginia Poe, and the author’s trunk, which he left behind in Richmond when he took his ill fated trip to Philadelphia. It contained most of Poe’s worldly possessions, which included some clothing, Virginia’s mirror, and some manuscripts. The key to the trunk was found in Poe’s pocket after his death, two weeks after leaving Richmond for the last time.

Located at 1914 -16 East Main Street in Richmond, the Poe Museum is a must stop for any Edgar Allan Poe fan and for anyone interested in American literature and early nineteenth-century Richmond, where Poe lived and worked.

The museum is open Tuesday – Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $10 for adults and $7 for senior citizens and students. Besides its extensive collection of Edgar Allan Poe artifacts and memorabilia, the museum has a small but well stocked gift shop where visitors can purchase Poe’s books and souvenirs of their visit.

The streets in the area are not suited for RVs, and parking is limited to passenger vehicles, so leave your RV at one of the area campgrounds and drive your tow vehicle or dinghy when you visit. For more information on the Poe Museum, call (804) 648-5523 or visit their website at http://www.poemuseum.org.

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Thought For The Day – Be stronger than your excuses.