A Wet Week Ahead

 Posted by at 12:36 am  Nick's Blog
Jul 152024
 

According to the weatherman, we have a wet week ahead of us. Or at least a good chance of a wet week. Starting today and tomorrow there is a 20% chance of rain, which increases to 80% by midweek. We won’t complain about that. The news says we are in a moderate drought, and our lawn and pasture and Terry’s raised planter beds certainly need it.

We got a late start to the day yesterday, and after a light breakfast of a slice of banana bread each, I tackled some e-mail and then started writing. Except for a few breaks to take Alli outside, that’s all I did, along with checking some facts about major battles toward the end of World War II for the book.

Terry decided I needed a special treat, so dinner was homemade pizzas from scratch. I’m an old stick in the mud and all I ever want is pepperoni and cheese. Terry, having a more adventurous palate, included black olives, onions, and mushrooms on hers, as well as the pepperoni. Trust me, they taste even better than they look.

She has a dentist appointment early this afternoon, and sometime this week we need to take the cats to Western Alabama Animal Hospital for their annual shots. Aside from that there’s nothing else on our schedule, and I’m determined to get this book done and off to the proofreaders for their final inspection after Terry edits it.

Congratulations Steven Tiefel, winner of our drawing for an audiobook of Big Lake Scandal, the fifth book in my Big Lake mystery series. 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.

Sheriff Jim Weber’s investigation reveals a web of secrets, illicit sex, and shattered lives that teaches 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. Meanwhile, love has come to town and wedding bells must compete with the echo of gunshots. Many of the characters that made the first four Big Lake books so popular are back, along with some new ones readers will remember for a long time.

We had 30 entries this time around. Stay tuned, a new contest starts soon. Note: Due to the high shipping cost of printed books and Amazon restrictions on e-books to foreign countries, only entries with US addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed. 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 just read that someone is suing Canada Dry Ginger Ale because there’s no ginger in it. I’d like to formally announce my lawsuit against Panda Express.

Jul 142024
 

I know I’m beginning to sound like a broken record, but yesterday was another good writing day, 2,250 words in my new Tinder Street book, The War Years. Previous books in the series have run from a low of 96,842 words (A Changing World) to 105,823 (the first book in the series, Tinder Street). I am currently at 102,034 words and the story is into January of 1945, the year World War II ended. As I’ve been saying, I’m getting close.

Besides the million and one things she does to keep everything running ship shape in our house and our business, Terry also found time yesterday to go out and pick some things from her raised planters. Yesterday’s harvest included jalapeno peppers, poblano peppers, sweet peppers, cucumbers, and some basil.

People always ask me how I find the time to write four or more books a year, as well as a daily blog of over 500 words. I tell them that the secret is you have to sacrifice some things to make the time. In my case, I gave up diet and exercise. Terry didn’t have to do that because the truth is, she is really the Energizer Bunny out of costume. She keeps going and going and…

And now for the title of today’s blog. A new swichblade knife and Nick. What could possibly go wrong? To my credit, I had it at least five minutes before I stuck myself twice. Then Terry took it away from and me put it up. She says I can’t play with my toys unless I have adult supervision. I mentioned to her that my blood and her fingerprints and DNA are on the knife, so if something ever happens to me, she’s the one they’re going to look for. She studied me for a long moment and said something about it would be worth it. I don’t know what that means, and I’m afraid to ask.

Today is your last chance to enter our Free Drawing for an audiobook of Big Lake Scandal, the fifth book in my Big Lake mystery series. 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.

Sheriff Jim Weber’s investigation reveals a web of secrets, illicit sex, and shattered lives that teaches 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. Meanwhile, love has come to town and wedding bells must compete with the echo of gunshots. Many of the characters that made the first four Big Lake books so popular are back, along with some new ones readers will remember for a long time.

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 – You mean there are other ways to learn besides the hard way?

Jul 132024
 

The United States Postal Service (USPS) has been taking a lot of hits in recent years from customers unhappy with their service, or I should say lack of service. And in many cases, those hits are well deserved.

Back when we were publishing the Gypsy Journal, we started out sending the papers out by Standard Rate mail. We discovered that some post offices just would not deliver them, and when I talked to the postmasters, they all told me the same thing, they had no obligation to deliver anything but First Class mail or above.

Here in Alabama, our mail route has a regular carrier, and also at least one substitute. The regular carrier is great. Even though our mailbox is on the street, many times she has driven up the driveway with a large parcel and put it on the front porch for us. The substitute(s) could care less. If it won’t fit in the mailbox, they leave it at the post office and leave a note for you to go and pick it up.

There have also been days when we don’t get mail at all, even though the morning e-mail from the post office shows us what’s coming. That happened just this week. I guess if the route is taking longer than she wants to work, the substitute just takes the rest back to the post office for delivery on another day.

The problem is just not with our local carrier. The whole system needs an overhaul. Here’s another example. I ordered something online and got an e-mail with the tracking number for it. According to the tracking number, it entered the mail service on July 9th in Post Falls, Idaho. Later that day it arrived at the Spokane, Washington mail distribution center. It left Spokane the next day and arrived at the Birmingham, Alabama distribution center early in the morning on the 11th. We are about 80 miles from Birmingham. Later that morning, it arrived at our local post office in Gordo, Alabama, which is about 5 miles from our house. Two hours later, it left there and went to a post office processing facility in Moundville, Alabama, 40 miles away. Three hours later, it left Moundville and went back to the same distribution center in Birmingham. Late that afternoon, it was in transit back to Gordo, where it stayed for another hour or so and then went back to the processing facility in Moundville again. And guess where it went from there? Back to Birmingham! What’s wrong with this picture? When I called the post office, they had no idea why this is happening, but told me they were sure it was frustrating. Ya think so?

Since more and more customers are using e-mail to communicate, and commercial shipping services like FedEx and UPS rather than the post office, they found a way to offset the lost revenue. Starting on Sunday, July 14th, they are raising all their rates by an average of 7.8%. To give an example, a First Class Forever stamp is increasing from 68¢ to 78¢. A regular First Class stamp is going from 68¢ to 73¢. Other prices are raised at about the same rate.

What a way to run any kind of business, or any kind of public service. I know the post office is not funded by taxpayer dollars, and at the rate they’re going, they may not be funded by consumer dollars much longer either.

Be sure to enter our latest Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an audiobook of Big Lake Scandal, the fifth book in my Big Lake mystery series. 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.

Sheriff Jim Weber’s investigation reveals a web of secrets, illicit sex, and shattered lives that teaches 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. Meanwhile, love has come to town and wedding bells must compete with the echo of gunshots. Many of the characters that made the first four Big Lake books so popular are back, along with some new ones readers will remember for a long time.

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 – Before you marry a person, you should first make them use a computer with slow internet to see who they really are. – Will Ferrell

Jul 122024
 

We had a rather unpleasant start to the day yesterday. We received a letter from the State of Alabama telling us that the $3,000 credit we were supposed to receive off our state income taxes for the purchase of our storm shelter was disallowed because the paperwork we sent in did not include a separate form we were required to get from another state agency to get the tax credit.

After several phone calls, I spoke to somebody to see how I could get the required form, and he told me that we could only do it in the same year that we had the storm shelter installed. Nobody told us that when we bought the shelter, we were just told to send the receipt in with the required documentation of design and testing with our our tax return, which we did. It would be nice if people in different branches of government talked to each other once in a while and got on the same page as to what their rules and regulations are going to be.

When you think about it, it’s kind of a dumb rule. What if we had a storm shelter installed on the last day of the year? How could we then send the receipt to the right agency to get the form for the tax credit?

In other news, it was another 2,000 word day in my new Tinder Street book. I’m at the last year of World War II now, and the end is in sight. As I’ve said many times, I love the research as much as the writing, but sometimes the things you learn are not pleasant. We’ve all heard about the horrors of the Holocaust, and I knew the Japanese had been just as brutal in the places they had overrun. But reading about some of the atrocities in China and the Philippines was enough to make my skin crawl. I’ll spare you the details, it’s too early in the morning for that kind of stuff. It may not have been politically correct, but I can understand why my father and others who served in that theater during the war hated the Japanese until the day they died.

Be sure to enter our latest Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an audiobook of Big Lake Scandal, the fifth book in my Big Lake mystery series. 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.

Sheriff Jim Weber’s investigation reveals a web of secrets, illicit sex, and shattered lives that teaches 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. Meanwhile, love has come to town and wedding bells must compete with the echo of gunshots. Many of the characters that made the first four Big Lake books so popular are back, along with some new ones readers will remember for a long time.

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. Apparently spelling skills are not required for some jobs.

Thought For The Day – Lord, whatever you’re baking outside, it’s done.

Still Not Done

 Posted by at 1:10 am  Nick's Blog
Jul 112024
 

We had a busy afternoon yesterday. We left the house a little after 1 o’clock for a 2 o’clock appointment at Alabama Dermatology Associates in Northport. Having had a bout of skin cancer once, I don’t want to repeat it, so I get checked semi-annually. I only had to wait a few minutes before I was taken back to see Nurse Practitioner Staci Hardwick. Staci is friendly and very thorough each time I go there, and never makes patients feel rushed. She froze a few precancerous spots on my head and hands, and I don’t have to go back until January, unless something comes up.

When we were done there, we tried a new to us restaurant called Local Roots, which many reviewers said had the best hamburgers and cheeseburgers of any restaurant in the area. I won’t say it was the best,because I haven’t been to all the others, but it was pretty good. I had a bacon cheeseburger and Terry had shrimp tacos, which she also said were good. The service was also very friendly.

From there we went to Lowe’s to buy some more Sun Drenched Oak Cabot stain. We need to stain the deck and pergola where the hot tub is and the little footbridge we had built a while back, the stair rails I had built on the side steps, and also probably do another coat on our big main deck. We have one gallon already, so we figured two more would pretty much do the job. But as it turned out, they had a special promotion going on that if you bought two gallons, you got a third one free. Since the stuff is nearly $60 a gallon, and yesterday was the last day for the promotion, we took advantage of that. We can always use the extra for touch up as needed.

While we were there, we also picked up some fire ant killer and Sevin dust, which is sprinkled on garden plants to get rid of bugs that eat the leaves. Like most stores these days, Lowe’s only has self-checkout. And like most self-checkouts, there’s always a hassle. This time around it wouldn’t recognize my military discount, which another customer in front of us was having the same issue with. So we had to go to customer service and have them check us out there. Sometimes it’s just not worth the effort.

Caliber Collision, the body shop that is working on our Ram pickup, is right across the street, so when we were done at Lowe’s we went there to check on the progress of our repair. Last week they had called to say they hoped to have it done the end of this week, but when I got there, the service manager said it will probably be another week yet, because the new tire and rim they ordered, and the running board have still not been delivered. Apparently supply chain issues are still a problem sometimes.

This shop also does not do ceramic coating, and I have not found anybody in the area that does. Since I had the truck ceramic coated right after I bought it in Florida, I need to get the repaired area done or it won’t look right. I have to call the insurance adjuster today to talk to her about that.

It’s Thursday, so it’s time for a new Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an audiobook of Big Lake Scandal, the fifth book in my Big Lake Mystery series. 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.

Sheriff Jim Weber’s investigation reveals a web of secrets, illicit sex, and shattered lives that teaches 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. Meanwhile, love has come to town and wedding bells must compete with the echo of gunshots. Many of the characters that made the first four Big Lake books so popular are back, along with some new ones readers will remember for a long time.

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 DC Stultz sent me this, he said the Canal Museum needs to trim their shrubs.

Thought For The Day – If elected, the first thing I’ll do is demand a recount. – Kinky Friedman

Potpourri

 Posted by at 1:07 am  Nick's Blog
Jul 102024
 

Definition of potpourri – 1: a mixture of flowers, herbs, and spices that is usually kept in a jar and used for scent. 2: a miscellaneous collection. The second definition above pretty much describes today’s blog, a collection of miscellaneous thoughts and info that I’m sharing because I don’t have anything else to talk about today.

***

Like most people, we have been watching the progress of Hurricane Beryl and worrying about friends in Texas who might be in the path of the storm. So far everyone I’ve heard from has been fine, although a lot of them are without power and will be for a while. Here in west-central Alabama, we didn’t get a drop of rain as the storm passed west of us.

***

Though the remnants of the hurricane missed us, we were actually hoping we would get some precipitation from it. Except for a couple of days last week, we haven’t had much rain at all this summer. When you combine that with the extreme heat, everybody’s gardens seem to be suffering. Even so, Terry has been able to grow some squash, peppers, and tomatoes in her raised garden beds, along with herbs like rosemary, basil, cilantro, anbd chives. Here are some of her Roma tomatoes.

And jalapeno peppers.

Poblano peppers

And sweet green peppers.

Being a died in the wool carnivore, I don’t care about all that vegetation. But I sure did like the banana bread and banana cupcakes Terry made yesterday. They were yummy.

***

I got a panicked e-mail yesterday from an author who was contacted by somebody telling him he was going to sue him because the author used his name in his novel. He said he would drop the whole thing for $500. His name is Jim Walker. How many Jim Walkers do you think there are in the world? I bet quite a few. I told the author not to worry about it and not to send the jerk any money. Every novel is going to include the names of somebody. Unless you’re using an identifiable private person or public figure, it’s not an issue. Now, if he had written that Jim Walker of 101 Center Street in Anytown, Iowa was a fireman in his book, and there really is a fireman with that name who lives at that address, no attorney in the world would bother with a silly case like that. Well, let me correct myself. There is probably an ambulance chaser out there somewhere that might.

The reality is that in this country, anybody can sue anybody about anything. Back in my days publishing small town newspapers, I once wrote about a woman who sued her neighbor because she said the neighbor’s dog got her purebred Cocker spaniel pregnant, thus ruining the dog’s pedigree bloodline for breeding future show dogs. She wanted $100,000 in damages. However, the supposed offender dog had been neutered two years before. When informed of this, she wanted to sue the vet who neutered him, claiming he had botched the surgery. People. Go figure.

***

One way we have found to beat the heat is soaking in our hot tub in the evening. I know you’re saying, “wait a minute. how can soaking in a hot tub help you beat the heat?” Simple, I turned it down to 96° and now it’s not hot. We still get the benefit of the jets massaging our bodies, without the heat. It’s rather refreshing.

The other way I’ve been beating the heat is staying inside and writing. I’ve been able to turn out about one chapter a day, ranging from 2,000 to 2,500 words in my latest Tinder Street book. I’m getting very close to wrapping it up.

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’ve reached an age where my brain went from “You probably shouldn’t say that” to “What the heck, let’s see what happens”!

Jul 092024
 

I have written before about an area in northern Arizona called East of Snowflake that attracts all kinds of weird people. If you’re a burned-out hippie, a survivalist, a conspiracy theorist, or any other flavor of eccentric, you can buy land east of the small town of Snowflake for very little money and live happily ever after. Or paranoid ever after, or whatever floats your boat.

For the first couple of years I ran my newspaper in the White Mountains, I did it out of an office we had built onto our house. One day I was out running some errands, and my secretary paged me. This was in the days before cell phones, so I found a telephone booth (remember those?) and called the office. Melissa told me to come home because someone was there who was making her feel uncomfortable. I asked if she needed the police and she said no, just get back as soon as I could.

When I pulled in the large driveway, there was a pickup truck painted in a camouflage pattern waiting for me. As I got out of my car, a man wearing all camouflage, including face paint, emerged from the truck and asked me if I was Nick Russell. Being the smartass that I am, my first response was to ask, “If you park that truck in the forest, how do you ever find it again?”

He didn’t have an answer for that, but he had something he needed to tell me about. He said he was there to protect me because there were 200 Russian troops and 17 tanks at the small airport in the neighboring town of Show Low. I asked him just what those tanks and Russian troops were doing there, and he said they were getting ready to take over.

“Okay fine, so why do I need protection?” I asked him. His reply was, “Because you’re a journalist, man! Everybody knows they always kill the journalists first! Don’t you know that?”

I told him I wasn’t aware of that and thanked him for informing me. He had some kind of pistol strapped to his hip, and I could see that there was an AK-47 sitting on the front seat of his pickup truck. I knew this guy came from East of Snowflake before he ever told me. I thanked him again for his time and told him that I appreciated him coming by. Then he said, “You don’t believe me, do you?”

I allowed as how I didn’t really see why there would be 200 Russian troops and 17 tanks at the airport, so he pulled out a folded piece of yellow notepad paper and said, “Here, look at this. It’s proof!”

The only thing I saw was a square, drawn with a pencil, taking up most of the page. Knowing I shouldn’t, I couldn’t help myself and asked what the heck that meant. He told me that it was the floor plan of a building they were putting up at the airport that was big enough to hold 200 Russian troops and 17 tanks. He added that he had asked the people on the construction crew what the structure was for, and they told him to go away. He asked, “What does that tell you?” I didn’t want to tell him what it told me, so I just said I’d look into it.

His quick reply was, “No, you have to stay at home until the threat has passed. If you go out there, They’ll get you.” Then he told me not to worry because he was my bodyguard, and it was his job to protect me until the all-clear was sounded.

I assured him that I really didn’t need protection, but he was pretty adamant about it, and I don’t make it a practice to argue with people with AK-47s and handguns. My street was the last road in a little subdivision, and it was only one long block and then turned to go up to the main road at each end. For the next two or three days that guy was parked at the end of the street in his camouflaged truck, and every time I went by, he waved at me and followed me to the post office or wherever I was going and then came home and took his position at the end of the street.

At that time, Terry Ringey was the chief of police in Pinetop-Lakeside, and a friend of mine. I mentioned my bodyguard to Terry, and he asked if I wanted him to have an officer come by and talk to the guy. Technically it was not illegal to park where he was, but if I was concerned, Terry would have someone visit with him. I told Terry no, I didn’t want him to do that. In fact, I didn’t even want the UPS man to come down the street. Anybody with a uniform might be fair game for that wackadoodle.

Apparently, the threat passed within a short time, and the all-clear sounded, or maybe he just got bored or ran out of MREs and went home, but by the fourth day he was gone, and things were back to normal. Or maybe he was still there and just blended in with the trees. Either way, every time I drove by the airport for the next week or so, I looked to see if there were any Russian troops or tanks, and there wasn’t one to be seen. I have a feeling he might have been mistaken.

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 really don’t mind getting older, but my body is taking it badly.

Taking Advantage

 Posted by at 12:47 am  Nick's Blog
Jul 082024
 

Yesterday was not quite as hot, with the temperatures in the upper 80s and the heat index somewhere around 95°. That’s not great, but much better than the triple digit heat indexes we’ve been having. We took advantage of the opportunity to get some mowing done, me on the Kubota tractor and Terry on the Husqvarna riding mower.

It took us close to three hours, but it was necessary because the grass everywhere was getting out of hand. Once I was done with the pasture behind the house, I went down the perimeter road that runs down on the south side of the property and then across the back of our property line.

It had really gotten overgrown there, and in some places the grass was over the hood of the tractor. I really would have been better off with the bush hog mower, but I didn’t want to take the time to attach it. It all looked pretty good when we were done, but we were both wiped out.

After taking showers to cool down we ate dinner, an awesome posole made of roasted pork, hominy, green chilies, and New Mexico red chili powder, with shredded cheddar cheese, and diced avocado (for Terry) on top. It took two days to prepare, soaking the dry hominy from scratch and roasting the pork overnight. But it was worth it because it was absolutely delicious. And there were leftovers for at least one more meal, if not two.

Congratulations Arley Running, winner of our drawing for an autographed copy of Tinder Street, the first book in my Tinder Street saga. Chronicling the days leading up to World War I and the events that followed, Tinder Street is the first book in a saga that will take readers from rural farms to a major industrial city in the Midwest, across an ocean where German U-boats lurk waiting for a target to come within range of their deadly torpedoes, to the bloody trench warfare of France, and home again. And of how, back at home, the soldiers of a victorious Army try to put their experiences behind them and pick up the pieces of the lives they once had, to look toward a future bright with promise. Lucas Morgan was one of those soldiers, a man who hated the thought of killing, but did his duty. A duty that would haunt him long after the last shots were fired.

This is also the story of the simple working class people who built America. Farmers, factory workers, streetcar conductors, midwives, and public servants. Their joys and sorrows, their wins and losses, and how these people who struggled together to build a better life for themselves and their children changed a place named Tinder Street to Tender Street, a reflection of one family’s devotion to their neighbors. This series is one I have wanted to write and have researched for years.

We had 98 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.

Thought For The Day – To clarify: Teachers are not “off for the summer.” They are “in recovery.”

Sleepyhead

 Posted by at 12:41 am  Nick's Blog
Jul 072024
 

That’s about the only word for me in the last couple of days. My back has flared up and it’s giving me a lot of discomfort. I am back to the point where I’m using my cane again. I am scheduled to have my RF ablation August 8th and I really hope it helps.

In the meantime, sleeping has been difficult. I didn’t get much accomplished at all on Friday because once I got up and answered some e-mails I sat down in my recliner and tried to sleep for a couple of hours. I did manage to get one chapter written in my new Tinder Street book by the end of the day and that was about it.

Don’t ask me what happened yesterday, because after an uncomfortable night, I remember waking up when Terry did, and we exchanged our morning I love you words and a couple of kisses. and the next thing I knew Alli was howling at the closed bedroom door trying to get in, close to two hours later! Terry said she knew I needed the rest and let me sleep.

At least I was able to write another chapter once I was up and had a breakfast of berries and cream and half a bagel, and then I printed it out to add to the other chapters Terry was working on. When she was done editing and proofreading all of them, I went through and made her suggested changes, then sent them off to Judy and Roberta for them to go through with their fine-tooth combs. If I can manage to stay awake, I hope to get the book done by the end of the week.

Today is your last chance to enter our Free Drawing for an autographed copy of Tinder Street, the first book in my Tinder Street saga. Chronicling the days leading up to World War I and the events that followed, Tinder Street is the first book in a saga that will take readers from rural farms to a major industrial city in the Midwest, across an ocean where German U-boats lurk waiting for a target to come within range of their deadly torpedoes, to the bloody trench warfare of France, and home again. And of how, back at home, the soldiers of a victorious Army try to put their experiences behind them and pick up the pieces of the lives they once had, to look toward a future bright with promise. Lucas Morgan was one of those soldiers, a man who hated the thought of killing, but did his duty. A duty that would haunt him long after the last shots were fired.

This is also the story of the simple working class people who built America. Farmers, factory workers, streetcar conductors, midwives, and public servants. Their joys and sorrows, their wins and losses, and how these people who struggled together to build a better life for themselves and their children changed a place named Tinder Street to Tender Street, a reflection of one family’s devotion to their neighbors. This series is one I have wanted to write and have researched for years.

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’m gonna need some of you people to start acting weirder. I can’t keep pulling all the weight on my own.

An American Hero

 Posted by at 12:30 am  Nick's Blog
Jul 062024
 

Given the patriotic theme of this week, I wanted to repeat a blog from a few years ago about one of the men who fought to give us the freedoms we have in the country.

On a trip through South Bend, Washington, I stopped to pay my respects to an old friend. Bob Bush owned the first office I rented for my first newspaper in Grays Harbor, Washington, a lifetime ago. He was a successful businessman who gave me some valuable advice that has served me well over the years. “Avoid negative people, they’ll drag you down every time. Associate with winners, not losers. And never take business advice from anybody who isn’t doing better than you are.”

Bob, who has since passed on, was a true American hero, the youngest sailor to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor during World War II, as an eighteen year old Navy corpsman. His hometown of South Bend erected this memorial to him, and Tom Brokaw included a chapter about Bob in his excellent book The Greatest Generation.

Bob was a very nice man who was proud of his service but never bragged about it, just acknowledged that yes, it happened. Here is Bob’s Medal of Honor citation:

“For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as Medical Corpsman with a rifle company, in action against enemy Japanese forces on Okinawa Jima, Ryukyu Islands, 2 May 1945. Fearlessly braving the fury of artillery, mortar, and machinegun fire from strongly entrenched hostile positions, Bush constantly and unhesitatingly moved from one casualty to another to attend the wounded falling under the enemy’s murderous barrages. As the attack passed over a ridge top, Bush was advancing to administer blood plasma to a marine officer lying wounded on the skyline when the Japanese launched a savage counterattack. In this perilously exposed position, he resolutely maintained the flow of life-giving plasma. With the bottle held high in one hand, Bush drew his pistol with the other and fired into the enemy’s ranks until his ammunition was expended. Quickly seizing a discarded carbine, he trained his fire on the Japanese charging pointblank over the hill, accounting for six of the enemy despite his own serious wounds and the loss of one eye suffered during his desperate battle in defense of the helpless man. With the hostile force finally routed, he calmly disregarded his own critical condition to complete his mission, valiantly refusing medical treatment for himself until his officer patient had been evacuated, and collapsing only after attempting to walk to the battle aid station. His daring initiative, great personal valor, and heroic spirit of self-sacrifice in service of others reflect great credit upon Bush and enhance the finest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service.”

Like most real heroes, Bob seldom talked about what happened that day on Okinawa. The only time I know of him recalling what happened was in an interview when he said, “The first grenade took my right eye out, and I put my arm up to hold it off and got some fragments in the other eye. Got a lot in my eye and shoulders. They hit me with three hand grenades in a matter of seconds. I was firing on them with [the lieutenant’s] carbine. Every time I saw a Japanese head pop up, I could see the star on their helmets, I’d fire one round a foot below where I saw that head come up, because I knew I couldn’t miss, I’d get ’em on the way down.”

Bob had dropped out of school to join the Navy, and after recovering from his wounds he returned home to join his high school graduating class and marry his sweetheart, Wanda.

He once told me that his biggest regret about all of it was that he lost an eye during the battle and the Navy would not let him return to duty. He felt bad that there were other GIs and Marines who needed a good corpsman and he would not be there to help them.

Be sure to enter our latest Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an autographed copy of Tinder Street, the first book in my Tinder Street saga. Chronicling the days leading up to World War I and the events that followed, Tinder Street is the first book in a saga that will take readers from rural farms to a major industrial city in the Midwest, across an ocean where German U-boats lurk waiting for a target to come within range of their deadly torpedoes, to the bloody trench warfare of France, and home again. And of how, back at home, the soldiers of a victorious Army try to put their experiences behind them and pick up the pieces of the lives they once had, to look toward a future bright with promise. Lucas Morgan was one of those soldiers, a man who hated the thought of killing, but did his duty. A duty that would haunt him long after the last shots were fired.

This is also the story of the simple working class people who built America. Farmers, factory workers, streetcar conductors, midwives, and public servants. Their joys and sorrows, their wins and losses, and how these people who struggled together to build a better life for themselves and their children changed a place named Tinder Street to Tender Street, a reflection of one family’s devotion to their neighbors. This series is one I have wanted to write and have researched for years.

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. This one is courtesy of longtime reader Rick Devoy.

Thought For The Day – Heroes don’t have the need to be known as heroes, they just do what heroes do because it is right and it must be done. – Shannon A. Thompson

No Fireworks Here

 Posted by at 12:52 am  Nick's Blog
Jul 052024
 

I hope you all had a safe Independence Day holiday, and if you played with fireworks, I hope you still have all of your fingers.

There were fireworks displays around the area yesterday, but we didn’t go to any of them. I was busy writing, getting another chapter done in my new book, and Miss Terry was doing all the things that keep our house and business running smoothly, along with making a delicious dinner of fried chicken and roasted smashed red potatoes. It is absolutely one of my favorite meals.

Even though we live in the country and it’s not uncommon to hear guns going off, we only heard a few yesterday evening. As I was telling our son Travis earlier in the day, I always worried when we traveled in our motorhome, because so many fools fire guns into the air on New Year’s Eve and the 4th of July, not realizing those bullets have to come down somewhere.

Many years ago, I had a friend who served a tour in Vietnam and never got a scratch but was left a quadriplegic because of a pistol that was fired in the air, and when the bullet came down, it hit him in the head. When we were RVing, we were at a Camping World and a mechanic showed us a bullet that had come through the roof of the building and through the roof of a motorhome and landed in the driver’s seat after a New Year’s Eve celebration. Who knows where it came from? Bullets can travel a long distance. And remember, what goes up must come down.

Be sure to enter our latest Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an autographed copy of Tinder Street, the first book in my Tinder Street saga. Chronicling the days leading up to World War I and the events that followed, Tinder Street is the first book in a saga that will take readers from rural farms to a major industrial city in the Midwest, across an ocean where German U-boats lurk waiting for a target to come within range of their deadly torpedoes, to the bloody trench warfare of France, and home again. And of how, back at home, the soldiers of a victorious Army try to put their experiences behind them and pick up the pieces of the lives they once had, to look toward a future bright with promise. Lucas Morgan was one of those soldiers, a man who hated the thought of killing, but did his duty. A duty that would haunt him long after the last shots were fired.

This is also the story of the simple working class people who built America. Farmers, factory workers, streetcar conductors, midwives, and public servants. Their joys and sorrows, their wins and losses, and how these people who struggled together to build a better life for themselves and their children changed a place named Tinder Street to Tender Street, a reflection of one family’s devotion to their neighbors. This series is one I have wanted to write and have researched for years.

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. Eddie always has the best fireworks.

Thought For The Day – Arguing is about who’s right; discussion is about what’s right.

Jul 042024
 

Don’t ask me how, but I managed to get my days wrong again and started this week’s free drawing a day early. Don’t ask me how, but I did the same thing last month. My only excuse is that I am calendar challenged.

Happy birthday, America. We have a lot of problems in this country, and so much division right now that it is saddening. But I’ve been to a lot of places and seen a lot of things in over seven decades on this earth, and there is no doubt in my mind that we still live in the greatest country in the world. And it’s our job, each and every one of us, yours and mine, to work together to keep it that way and to make it even better. But we can’t do that when we are so polarized. We have to do better. We owe it to our kids and grandkids, and we owe it to the brave men and women who fought and died over the years to keep America free.

What are your plans for the holiday? A cookout with friends and family? Are you going to take in a sporting event or watch the fireworks tonight? Or are you just going to have a quiet day at home? There’s certainly nothing wrong with that.

As for us, it’s too darned hot to do much of anything outside. Just walking down to the street to retrieve our trash can yesterday and bringing it back up to the garage was enough to have me drenched in sweat. Today is going to be just as bad, if not worse, so while Terry is editing and proofreading the latest chapters of my new book, I’m going to be right here in the air conditioning, writing some more.

While I was outside getting the trash can yesterday, I spied this fuzzy little fellow in the grass. I hope he made it somewhere safe before one of the local birds decided he’d make a good holiday dinner.

Be sure to enter our latest Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an autographed copy of Tinder Street, the first book in my Tinder Street saga. Chronicling the days leading up to World War I and the events that followed, Tinder Street is the first book in a saga that will take readers from rural farms to a major industrial city in the Midwest, across an ocean where German U-boats lurk waiting for a target to come within range of their deadly torpedoes, to the bloody trench warfare of France, and home again. And of how, back at home, the soldiers of a victorious Army try to put their experiences behind them and pick up the pieces of the lives they once had, to look toward a future bright with promise. Lucas Morgan was one of those soldiers, a man who hated the thought of killing, but did his duty. A duty that would haunt him long after the last shots were fired.

This is also the story of the simple working class people who built America. Farmers, factory workers, streetcar conductors, midwives, and public servants. Their joys and sorrows, their wins and losses, and how these people who struggled together to build a better life for themselves and their children changed a place named Tinder Street to Tender Street, a reflection of one family’s devotion to their neighbors. This series is one I have wanted to write and have researched for years.

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 – You can tell a lot about a man by how dogs react to him. For example, if the police K9 is biting him, he may not be such a great guy.

Jul 032024
 

Between the two nerve block shots I received recently, and Terry getting her second one yesterday, the Spine Care Center in Tuscaloosa is starting to feel like home. Medicare requires two of the nerve blocks, done at least two weeks apart, before they will approve the RF ablation to sever the nerve and stop the back pain. Well, back pain in my case. Terry has both back and neck pain, and so far they’ve just done her neck.

As regular blog readers might remember, I had this process done a couple of times when we lived in Florida. The first time was fantastic and I went two years without any noticeable pain. The second time around really didn’t do me much good at all. Even with all the technology they have, it’s kind of a hit or miss procedure.

Anyway, that’s what we did yesterday. It’s really a pretty simple procedure. It takes longer to get the patient prepped than it does to do the nerve block shots. Here’s Terry getting ready to go in before the procedure yesterday.

When she was done, which took about 40 minutes including recovery, we went to Jalapeños Mexican Grill for a late lunch/early dinner. It was early enough that the place wasn’t very crowded yet, and as we were leaving a young African American couple sitting nearby said they had been watching us and it was obvious we had a good marriage. He asked us how long we had been married and Terry told him we’re working on our 27th year. The gentleman asked for any advice, saying they’ve been married four years so far.

I told him what my father told me when I was a young man – always treat your lady like you did on the very first date. I also told him that even if we’ve had the worst fight of our marriage, I still open doors for Terry every time, and that the first thing we say to each other in the morning is “I love you” and it’s the last thing we say at night. Terry added that communication and respect help make it successful. They both thanked us, and I hope they took our advice to heart.

From there we went to Publix to stock up on groceries, made a quick stop at the post office to drop a couple of things off, and headed home. It was miserably hot, and by the time we had everything unloaded from the van, the only thing we wanted to do was sit in our recliners and drink some iced tea.

In other news I’ve finished several more chapters of my new Tinder Street book, and today I will print them out for Terry to edit and proofread before sending them on to Judy and Roberta. I’m getting very close to wrapping this one up, folks. 😊

Speaking of Tinder Street, it’s Thursday and time for a new Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an autographed copy of Tinder Street, the first book in my Tinder Street saga. Chronicling the days leading up to World War I and the events that followed, Tinder Street is the first book in a saga that will take readers from rural farms to a major industrial city in the Midwest, across an ocean where German U-boats lurk waiting for a target to come within range of their deadly torpedoes, to the bloody trench warfare of France, and home again. And of how, back at home, the soldiers of a victorious Army try to put their experiences behind them and pick up the pieces of the lives they once had, to look toward a future bright with promise. Lucas Morgan was one of those soldiers, a man who hated the thought of killing, but did his duty. A duty that would haunt him long after the last shots were fired.

This is also the story of the simple working class people who built America. Farmers, factory workers, streetcar conductors, midwives, and public servants. Their joys and sorrows, their wins and losses, and how these people who struggled together to build a better life for themselves and their children changed a place named Tinder Street to Tender Street, a reflection of one family’s devotion to their neighbors. This series is one I have wanted to write and have researched for years.

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 – If you saw a heat wave, would you wave back?

Jul 022024
 

Here’s another blog post from my days publishing small town newspapers

Back during my newspaper days on the Pacific Northwest coast, my headquarters was in Aberdeen, Washington, in Grays Harbor, which is located at the bottom of the Olympic Peninsula. Aberdeen is an old seaport and lumber mill town, and Gray’s Harbor is the largest natural deep water port north of San Francisco, and there is a lot of history there.

A young man named Billy would come by once a week, wanting to wash the windows in our office. Billy only charged a dollar or two, and he was a very nice man and a hard worker. He was developmentally disabled, but that never slowed him down a bit. Every Wednesday, right on schedule, Billy was there with his bucket, sponge, and his rags, ready to go to work. One week Billy came just as I was going out the door, and I handed him five dollars to do the windows. He said it was only two dollars, and I told him to keep it. This offended Billy. He handed the money back to me and said, “I don’t take charity, and I don’t want no more than what I earned.”

The women who worked in the office took a shine to Billy because he was always such a gentle soul, and when someone asked where he lived, they discovered he was sleeping in an abandoned house without any utilities because the abandoned car he had been living in had been towed away. That just was not acceptable, so they decided that they had to remedy that situation. At one time the building that housed the newspaper office had been a saloon and brothel, back during the wild and crazy seaport days (that’s an entirely different story I will tell you about someday), and there were eight small rooms on the second floor that had been the cribs for the working girls. They sat empty except for being used for storage, and the girls decided to clean one of them for Billy. It wasn’t fancy by any means, but it was warm and dry, and there was a bathroom down the hall.

As I said before, Billy had pride and wouldn’t take something for nothing, so he insisted he had to work to earn his keep. That was fine with me, and I told him that he could wash my car and pickup and the delivery van. He was meticulous about it and kept all three vehicles looking better than they did the day they came off the showroom floor. Billy also took it upon himself to clean the office every day and did a great job.

However, this was somewhat problematic because Billy may have had a good heart, but he was totally lacking in personal hygiene. So the girls had to explain to him that he had to take a bath and they gave him a bottle of cologne. The next morning he came downstairs looking clean and polished, but he reeked of cologne. Laurel, the office manager, asked him how much he had put on, and he told her the whole bottle. Okay, Billy, time for another bath!

My wife at the time was pregnant, and she usually went to the printers, about 30 miles away, to get every issue printed. Loading bundles of newspapers into the van was becoming difficult for her, so I asked Billy to go with her and do the loading. He was happy to have more responsibility.

Over time, Billy began doing more and more things around the office, and I decided we should put him on the payroll, which was fine with him as long as he was earning the money and it wasn’t a handout.

When the first payday came around, I handed Billy his check, and he asked what it was. I told him it was his pay for the week, and he asked, “Don’t I get any money?” Laurel explained to Billy that he needed to take the check to the bank and cash it, which he didn’t understand. So one of the girls in the production department took him to the bank, where Billy opened a checking account. That turned out to be a very bad thing. That hundred dollars was the most money Billy had ever had, and he thought the was rich.

Just as Billy didn’t understand that his paycheck was the same as money, when they told him that the checks were just like money and he could go to the store and buy things, that’s what Billy did.

You have to understand, this was in 1981 in a small town where everybody knew everybody. There was no such thing as bank cards, and no one ever asked for identification when you purchased something with a check. In fact, most banks had counter checks that you could just pick up and fill out when you needed cash. By the middle of the next week, our office phone started ringing off the hook. One store after another was calling to say that Billy had bounced checks. A lot of checks!

I went upstairs to his little room and knocked on the door, and when Billy opened it I thought I had walked into a Circuit City or Best Buy. He had two television sets, a VCR, a boombox, and two bicycles. He also had four or five pairs of new shoes, almost as many cowboy boots,  and a bunch of new clothes. The room had been small to start with, but now it was full! I asked Billy where he got everything, and he said he bought it. Knowing the answer even before I asked him where he got all the money, I wasn’t surprised when he said he didn’t need money, he had checks.

My office manager, my wife, and I spent the rest of that day and most of the next hauling things back to stores, explaining the situation, apologizing on Billy’s behalf, and then closing his checking account. After that, Billy got paid in cash. It just seemed to work out better that way.

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 – Camping is nature’s way of promoting the motel business.

Time Does Fly

 Posted by at 12:35 am  Nick's Blog
Jul 012024
 

Can you believe it’s not only the start of a new month, but we are halfway through the year already? How is that possible? Time really does fly, doesn’t it?

Speaking of time flying, I want to wish a belated happy 73rd anniversary to Terry’s parents, Pete and Bess Weber. Their anniversary was actually yesterday, but somehow I slipped up and missed it. Here’s wishing you two many more years of happiness. We love you.

I can tell you one area where time is not flying, the repairs to our Ram pickup. Back in early May somebody backed into us at an auto parts store, damaging the right passenger side door and fender of the truck. He quickly admitted that he was at fault, it was noted thus so on the police report, and his insurance company called me the very next day to arrange to get the truck repaired.

It took nearly three weeks for a body shop to get an opening to take it in, and I was surprised that what I thought was a mere fender bender actually came out to over $6,000 in damages. The other guy’s insurance company had no problem with that and we dropped the truck off. That’s when everything seemed to slow down.

Between problems getting a replacement door and some other items needed, and then the employee working on the truck quitting with no notice and another tech having to step in and take it on, we are still waiting. The last I heard was that they are shooting for a July 18th completion date. Everybody tells me the shop is very good, and I understand that they cannot control supply chain issues. But I sure do miss having a truck!

Congratulations Kathy Brophey, winner of our drawing for an audiobook of The High Ground, the ninth book in my friend Ben Rehder’s Roy Ballard mystery series. In a look back at one of Roy Ballard’s earliest cases, beautiful Kendyl Jordan’s eye-catching classic car goes missing, possibly with something of great value hidden inside it. Can Roy Ballard help her find it? Despite Ballard’s budding reputation, Kendyl learns he’s not even a private investigator, he’s a legal videographer with very little experience. Still, he seems to have a knack for the job, and it doesn’t take him long to identify a couple of dangerous suspects. That’s when the case takes more twists and turns than a winding Texas Hill Country road!

We had 25 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.

Thought For The Day – I haven’t tried yoga, but I have tried bending over to pick up my keys, so I’m pretty sure I’d hate yoga.

Jun 302024
 

The possibility of rain was predicted for yesterday afternoon, but around here the weatherman is kind of like the little boy who cried wolf. You listen but you don’t really believe him most of the time. As it turned out, he was right this time around.

We had heard thunder rumbling most of the day, and in the early afternoon the clouds opened up and it began to pour. The sky got so dark you would have thought it was almost twilight, and when I looked out back, the normally dry ditch (in the foreground of this picture) that runs along the road back to the barn was overflowing and looked like a small river. I’m not complaining because it’s been so hot and dry that our grass and Terry’s raised planters really needed it.

The crazy thing is that my friend Donald Hann, who lives less than ten miles west of us as the crow flies, said they hardly got enough to make the grass wet at his place. Our son Travis, who lives about the same distance to the east, told me they didn’t get much more than a sprinkle.

Once the rain stopped, I took advantage of everything being so wet to burn a lot of cardboard boxes that had been stacking up in the garage. I would prefer to recycle them, but the county recycling center is always closed. So I hauled two loads of boxes down to the burn barrel and spent an hour or so getting rid of them.

Alli loves to play in the water, so while I was doing that she was jumping around and splashing in the ditch, having a wonderful time.

Today is your last chance to enter our Free Drawing for an audiobook of The High Ground, the ninth book in my friend Ben Rehder’s Roy Ballard mystery series. In a look back at one of Roy Ballard’s earliest cases, beautiful Kendyl Jordan’s eye-catching classic car goes missing, possibly with something of great value hidden inside it. Can Roy Ballard help her find it? Despite Ballard’s budding reputation, Kendyl learns he’s not even a private investigator, he’s a legal videographer with very little experience. Still, he seems to have a knack for the job, and it doesn’t take him long to identify a couple of dangerous suspects. That’s when the case takes more twists and turns than a winding Texas Hill Country road!

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 – Why do I have to use leaves as toilet paper when we go camping, while we have bears out there using Charmin?

Jun 292024
 

Yesterday was another hot, miserable day here in west-central Alabama. As I said I planned to do in yesterday’s blog, I took advantage of having to be indoors to get a lot more writing done in my new Tinder Street book. But it wasn’t always easy.

It didn’t help matters that our internet was flaky all day long, coming on and then dropping off again, which makes it hard to dictate into Word. I finally gave up and started using the hotspot on my phone, but it’s very slow transferring data like that. However, even with all of that happening, I still knocked out two more chapters, 6,425 words.

Sometime during the afternoon, we ventured out for a few minutes to check on Terry’s raised garden beds. This super hot summer has not been good for anybody’s gardens, and we may have been overcompensating. When Travis and Geli were here last week, they suggested that we might be watering too much, and to cut back from doing it every day to every other day or so. We did, and the results are definitely good. While we were out there, Terry harvested these squash. It’s always good to be able to bring something in that she grew herself.

The plan for the weekend is more of the same, assuming the internet will cooperate. I’m starting to get close to the end of the book now, and I’m eager to get it finished and in my readers’ hands.

Be sure to enter our latest a Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an audiobook of The High Ground, the ninth book in my friend Ben Rehder’s Roy Ballard mystery series. In a look back at one of Roy Ballard’s earliest cases, beautiful Kendyl Jordan’s eye-catching classic car goes missing, possibly with something of great value hidden inside it. Can Roy Ballard help her find it? Despite Ballard’s budding reputation, Kendyl learns he’s not even a private investigator, he’s a legal videographer with very little experience. Still, he seems to have a knack for the job, and it doesn’t take him long to identify a couple of dangerous suspects. That’s when the case takes more twists and turns than a winding Texas Hill Country road!

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 – We forget that what we have is what we really wanted at some point. – Courtney Carver

Almost Tolerable

 Posted by at 12:22 am  Nick's Blog
Jun 282024
 

The weatherman had predicted rain and the possibility of severe afternoon storms in our area for Wednesday, but sometimes I feel like I could throw darts at a weather chart and do as well as those guys. It was the usual hot, humid weather all day and all evening, but they almost got it right except for their timing. About 1:30 AM on Thursday we got a serious downpour that lasted for about half an hour or so.

And then, yesterday was almost tolerable. I don’t think the temperature got anywhere past the low to mid 80s, and the humidity was not out of sight. It was definitely much better than we have had in a while, or probably will have for the next couple of months. But when I rolled our garbage can out to the street about 10 PM the humidity had increased considerably. By the time I got back to the house I was drenched in sweat.

I have been avoiding the hot weather as much as possible by staying inside and writing, getting about 5,000 words done in my new book in the last two days. Unfortunately, part of that included the death of one of the characters. That can be hard because I almost feel like they’re my friends. But that’s life, and by its very nature, in a family saga some people will pass on as the story unfolds.

Every day for the next week or so we are looking at heat indexes of 100° to 105°. I don’t plan to spend time outside any more than I have to, so I expect to get a lot more writing done.

Be sure to enter our latest a Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an audiobook of The High Ground, the ninth book in my friend Ben Rehder’s Roy Ballard mystery series. In a look back at one of Roy Ballard’s earliest cases, beautiful Kendyl Jordan’s eye-catching classic car goes missing, possibly with something of great value hidden inside it. Can Roy Ballard help her find it? Despite Ballard’s budding reputation, Kendyl learns he’s not even a private investigator, he’s a legal videographer with very little experience. Still, he seems to have a knack for the job, and it doesn’t take him long to identify a couple of dangerous suspects. That’s when the case takes more twists and turns than a winding Texas Hill Country road!

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 – Don’t take people for granted. No matter how much they love you, people get tired eventually.

June Q&A

 Posted by at 1:00 am  Nick's Blog
Jun 272024
 

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. For a while you were giving us updates on your barn renovation project. Has that stopped?
A. Just about everything outside has stopped for now, with our dreadfully hot summer weather. I hope to get back to the barn project when things start to cool down.

Q. A few months ago you released audiobooks of your Tinder Street series. Will you be doing them for the rest of the Big Lake and John Lee series? I hope so because I am visually impaired and can’t read printed or e-books.
A. I would like to produce audiobooks of those series, it’s just a matter of having time to do so. There are never enough hours in the day for everything I want to get done.

Q. Sitting in a doctor’s office waiting room a while back I read a magazine article about a Nick Russell who is apparently a big name in the snowboarding sport. I know it’s not you but wondered if it is any relation because I seem to remember that one of your kids or grandkids was a snowboarder?
A. Our granddaughter Hailey was into snowboarding at one time, before she got into barrel racing. I’m not sure if she still does it now that’s she’s married.

Q. I read that you got a new shipment of books in. I would love to have an autographed copy of one of your books. How much would it cost?
A. Cost for any of my novels, personally autographed, is $9.95 plus $5 for packing and shipping to any U.S. addresses. I don’t send them out of the country because postage cost is prohibitive.

Q. From time to time I have seen the names of people we both know from the RV community or who are mutual Facebook friends in your books. I think that is so cool. How can I get you to use my name sometimes?
A. Let me know if you want to be a villain or a victim. 😊

It’s Thursday, so it’s time for a new Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an audiobook of The High Ground, the ninth book in my friend Ben Rehder’s Roy Ballard mystery series. In a look back at one of Roy Ballard’s earliest cases, beautiful Kendyl Jordan’s eye-catching classic car goes missing, possibly with something of great value hidden inside it. Can Roy Ballard help her find it? Despite Ballard’s budding reputation, Kendyl learns he’s not even a private investigator, he’s a legal videographer with very little experience. Still, he seems to have a knack for the job, and it doesn’t take him long to identify a couple of dangerous suspects. That’s when the case takes more twists and turns than a winding Texas Hill Country road!

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 – Distance doesn’t separate people, silence does.

A Long Wait

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

I had an appointment at the Spine Care Center in Tuscaloosa yesterday to get another nerve block shot in my lower back. Medicare requires two of them with at least an 80% reduction in back pain before they will authorize an RF ablation to sever the nerve.

The nerve block I had two weeks ago was amazing. If it wasn’t a 100% improvement, it was darn close, and it lasted until Saturday of this past weekend before it started to wear off. They don’t usually last that long so I was happy with that.

My appointment was for 1:30 in the afternoon and we got there about 20 minutes early. The place was very busy, and it was well over 90 minutes before they took me back to begin prepping for the procedure. Prepping basically consisted of taking my vitals, asking a few routine questions, and then inserting an IV. When all that was done, we waited. And then we waited some more. And then we waited some more after that. It was 3:40 when they took me in for the procedure, which didn’t take more than 10 minutes or so. Then I was back in recovery for about a half hour. As I said in the blog’s title, it was a long wait. The good news is that it seemed to work and I don’t have any back pain at the moment. So I expect in another week or two they will be calling me back in for the actual nerve ablation.

I wasn’t supposed to eat or drink anything before the procedure, so by the time we were out of there, Terry and I were both hungry. We went to Dreamland BBQ in Northport for an early dinner. This is one of our favorite restaurants, and I ordered a full rack of ribs, which was enough to fill my large capacity stomach and still leave more to bring home for dinner today.

Terry went with the stuffed baked potato and fried green tomatoes, and she too had enough leftovers for today.

We got home about 6:30, and Alli was more than happy to see us, and even happier to get outside and go potty. As for the cats, their attitude was like, “What? You’re back again?”

It was 100° yesterday, and today we are looking at 101°. It’s definitely a day for staying inside and getting some more writing done. But before I do that, I have a bunch of emails to catch up on that I didn’t get to yesterday, and then I have several chapters of my new book that I sent on to Judy and Roberta after Terry edited and proofread them and I made the corrections she suggested. Judy sent hers back to me, so I will go through it and see what she found that we missed and take care of that before I start writing again.

And finally, here’s a chuckle to start your day from the collection of funny signs we see in our travels and that our readers share with us. Every parent I have ever known needs this license plate.

Thought For The Day – You can’t always get what you want, but you just might find you get what you need.