Feb 272024
 

Well, it took a while, and there were some speed bumps along the way, but our new Generac whole house backup generator system is now installed and ready to go to work when we have a power outage.

I was up before seven o’clock yesterday morning because Thompson Gas was coming to set the propane tank to provide fuel for the generator. The lady scheduling things told me that she didn’t know exactly what time he would be here, and I wanted to be sure to be up and ready for him. It was actually about nine o’clock when Flash, the installer, arrived.

He had been out here earlier in the month to look at where we wanted the tank to go, so it was a simple matter of him checking the gas line that had been installed to be sure it had been done properly, then he used a boom on his truck to take the tank off.

Flash is a nice guy, and I enjoyed visiting with him as he made the connections to the generator and cooktop, and installed pressure regulators and made sure everything was working.

Then there was some paperwork to sign, and he was on his way to his next customer, and now we have a 250-gallon propane tank, which will keep the generator and Terry’s stovetop working happily for a long time. While he was here, Flash also adjusted the simmer level on the stovetop’s burners, which Terry really appreciated.

She also appreciated him telling her how impressed he was with what a clean house we have. The pest control man told her the same thing when he was here a few days ago, as well as somebody from the generator company. Terry takes great pride in our home and works hard to keep it looking good in spite of all the messes that Alli, the cats, and I make. Trust me, that’s a full time job!

A couple of hours after the tank was installed, Ben from Absolute Power Systems came to initialize the generator and do a test run to make sure that everything was as it should be. Except for some problems getting the Generac phone app to work, an issue that seems to be from our T-Mobile router settings, everything was good to go.

As I said at the start of this blog, there were some roadblocks at the beginning, but none of those were caused by Absolute Power Systems. The company is dedicated to customer service and I can’t recommend them highly enough. The problems were with a couple of other propane companies that would not follow through or put all kinds of roadblocks in the way of setting a tank. I’ve never had to argue so much to get somebody to take my money before. Shoot, my ex-wives and their lawyers were always happy to get as much of it as they could. ☹

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 optimist proclaims that we live in the best of all possible worlds; and the pessimist fears this is true.

A Nice Day Outside

 Posted by at 12:30 am  Nick's Blog
Feb 262024
 

Yesterday was a nice day to be outside, with temperatures in the mid-60s and lots of blue sky overhead. It was definitely too nice of a day to spend it inside. Which was fine because we had plenty to do.

Terry wanted to relocate one of her raised planter beds. She currently has three of them laid out side by side, and one of the end ones was too close to the small hill at the side of our pasture. That made it difficult to use the tractor for mowing, because it didn’t leave me enough room to turn around. So we picked it up and moved it to the far side.

After sitting in place for almost a year, we weren’t sure how hard it would be to get the metal bed dislodged, but it was easy. Once it was moved, I collected a bunch of broken branches to put in the bottom to help fill the area. Over time they will decompose and help enrich the soil in the planter bed.

Then I connected the Yard Glider to the back of the Kawasaki Mule and we spent some time raking up wood chips from a pile where I had used the DK2 wood chipper to chop up branches and small tree limbs. This handy tool has paid for itself already in making it so easy to move things around the property.

With several loads of branches in the bottom of the planter, and then the wood chips filling in the rest, Terry spent some time leveling them out and the job was done. Once she adds topsoil it will ready to plant. In its previous location the planter had strawberries, which Terry thinks should not be a problem to relocate. I’ll leave figuring out how to do that to her. My job will be to eat the strawberries once they are grown and ripe.

It had been common to see anywhere from half a dozen to twenty deer in our pasture in the evenings, but once hunting season started several months ago, they have been making themselves scarce. But it ended on the 10th, and within a few days we were seeing deer again.

It always amazes me how they can tell when it’s hunting season. When I was a firearms instructor at West Point, there were so many deer that sometimes I would have to stop people from shooting on the range while I drove a Jeep with a siren down near the target area to chase the deer away. They would literally start grazing while I had as many as a hundred cadets or soldiers shooting. But come hunting season, you could not find them. I have no idea how they could tell the difference between soldiers with rifles and hunters with rifles, but it seemed like they could!

Speaking of deer, while we were doing our work outside yesterday, Terry spotted this antler that a buck shed right in the middle of the dirt road that goes across the back of the pasture. I looked around trying to find the other one, with no luck.

If all goes according to schedule, they will be here first thing this morning to install our propane tank, and then Ben from Absolute Power Solutions will connect the gas line to our new Generac whole house generator, and we will be good to go come storm season.

Congratulations Danny Stidham, 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 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. Meanwhile, love has come to town and wedding bells must compete with the echo of gunshots.

We had 34 entries this time around. Stay tuned, a new contest starts soon. Note: Due to the high shipping cost of printed books and Amazon restrictions on e-books to foreign countries, only entries with US addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed. After 90 days, unclaimed prizes revert back to the drawing pool for a future contest.

And finally, here’s a chuckle to start your day from the collection of funny signs we see in our travels and that our readers share with us. Do I get to choose the two people to get milked?

Thought For The Day – How come you never see a headline like ‘Psychic Wins Lottery’?

February Q&A

 Posted by at 12:30 am  Nick's Blog
Feb 252024
 

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. Why did you pay the dealer for your tractor’s service when you could have done it yourself and saved money? It’s not all that hard to do. Just watch some You Tube videos and learn how to do it yourself.
A. I have an agreement with my dealer. He doesn’t write books and I don’t work on tractors. I am not mechanically inclined and I don’t enjoy things like that. Past experience has taught me that it’s best to leave some chores to the professionals. While I probably could have done the work myself, the mechanics at the dealership know these machines inside and out and know what to look for to prevent future problems I might not be aware of.

Q. Are there many poisonous snakes where you live? Last summer my grandkids in Tennessee lost their dog to a snakebite. With summer coming, do you worry about Alli or Terry’s cats getting bitten living there in the country?
A. We have rattlesnakes, copperheads, and water moccasins all over this part of the state. The cats never go outside, so we don’t worry about them. But Alli loves being outside and is always sniffing and exploring everywhere, so that is a very real concern for me.

Q. In your RVing days, did you ever drive the Alcan Highway? We are planning a trip this summer to see our soldier son, who is stationed at Fort Richardson near Anchorage.
A. No, we never did make it to Alaska. It was on our bucket list, but things always got in the way of taking the trip. It’s one of the few regrets I have from our life as fulltimers.

Q. Is Miss Terry planning a big garden for this year?
A. She plans to do some gardening, but I’m not sure what all is going to be involved. She now has six of the raised planter beds, and I know that they are going to be a big part of her gardening efforts this time around. As for what else is going to happen, I leave that up to her to decide.

Q. How come only some of your books are available as audiobooks? We love listening to audiobooks when we travel but can’t find many of yours in that format.
A. Unfortunately, audiobooks have not done well for me. Of the ones I do have out, very few sell enough to justify the cost of narration and the time involved in producing them.

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 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. Meanwhile, love has come to town and wedding bells must compete with the echo of gunshots.

To enter, click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name (first and last) in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn this evening. Note: Due to the high shipping cost of printed books and Amazon restrictions on e-books to foreign countries, only entries with US addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed. After 90 days, unclaimed prizes revert backto 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 – Old age is like everything else. To make a success of it, you’ve got to start young. – Theodore Roosevelt

Tractors And Typos

 Posted by at 12:15 am  Nick's Blog
Feb 242024
 

After a light breakfast of berries and cream along with half a bagel yesterday morning, Terry guided me as I backed the tractor off the flatbed trailer. I had left it on overnight after getting back from the dealership for its 50-hour service.

After parking the trailer, I spent a couple of hours on the tractor spreading out some of the extra gravel leftover from what I had delivered and dumped on the barn road. There were some spots in the driveway that needed to be filled in and I had just about enough to take care of most of it.

With that done, I parked the tractor in the barn and spent a while rearranging things to take advantage of the extra space I now have from my son and I taking down the wall to the extra room.

About the time I finished that and began walking back up to the house it started to sprinkle. When I got inside, I told Terry that contrary to popular belief, I do have enough sense to come in out of the rain. It didn’t last long. By the time I changed clothes and cleaned up, the rain had stopped and the sky was blue again.

Roberta Jensen, my second proofreader, has been dealing with some medical issues lately and is now playing catch up with chapters of Big Lake Accident. She returned several of them and I spent some time going over them and correcting a few typos as well as some punctuation errors that got missed in the first rounds of proofreading. Experience has taught me that no matter how many sets of eyes look at a manuscript, something is always going to sneak through.

I hope to get some more chapters done today. Our daughter Tiffany and granddaughter Destiny are coming to visit from Arizona in a little over a week and I really want to have the book done by then so I can spend every minute possible with them.

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.

To enter, click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name (first and last) in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn Sunday evening. Note: Due to the high shipping cost of printed books and Amazon restrictions on e-books to foreign countries, only entries with US addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed. After 90 days, unclaimed prizes revert backto 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 was a trust fund kid. My parents trusted me to fund my own life as an adult.

Less Than I Expected

 Posted by at 12:35 am  Nick's Blog
Feb 232024
 

According to Kubota’s specifications, a new tractor should have its first service at 50 hours. That service includes oil change, lube job, fuel, air and oil filters, checking and adjusting valves if needed, and a thorough inspection. We have had so much going on that I goofed and didn’t realize I was at 71 hours on my tractor. Oops.

I took it to my dealer, Tuscaloosa Tractor, on Wednesday afternoon and dropped it off. Because I didn’t want to haul my 20-foot trailer back and forth twice if I could avoid it, I asked if I could leave it there until I picked up the tractor, which they said was no problem. The service manager told me they weren’t very busy and that he would call me when it was done. I expected it would take a couple of days, but he called me mid-morning yesterday to say that it was ready to pick up.

Terry and I had some errands to run, so we drove into town to take care of them, which included dropping off something at the UPS Store in Northport, picking up a few things at Publix, and then we had lunch at McAlister’s Deli before picking up the tractor.

In reading the different online Kubota forums, members reported prices of up to $650 for their initial 50 hour service at their tractor dealers. So I was very pleasantly surprised when my bill was only $222. It was much less than I expected.

The service manager said that because I’ve been careful about doing lubrication and checking the oil, keeping the radiator and air intake screens clean and such, the tractor is in very good condition. He said they see a lot of tractors with less hours than mine that already look trashed. I’m not a mechanic by any stretch of the imagination, but I can’t understand why someone would spend a bunch of money on a vehicle or any piece of equipment and not take care of it as best they can. Obviously, it pays off!

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.

To enter, click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name (first and last) in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn Sunday evening. Note: Due to the high shipping cost of printed books and Amazon restrictions on e-books to foreign countries, only entries with US addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed. After 90 days, unclaimed prizes revert back to the drawing pool for a future contest.

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

Thought For The Day – We enter life with an inhale and leave life with an exhale. In between, we live for the moments that take our breath away.

Feb 222024
 

Back in my small town newspaper days, many editors and publishers, myself included, had a sign or plaque in their office that said some variation of, “The duty of the press is to print the truth and raise hell.” I have heard that phrase attributed to everyone from Mark Twain to a number of well-known journalists, and I really can’t tell you where it originated from. But I always believed it was true, and I still do.

Miss Terry tells people all the time that one reason she fell in love with me was because I was so outspoken and didn’t mind stepping on toes with my editorials. Often those toes belonged to politicians on the city, county, or state level. A lot of times people didn’t appreciate that very much. That’s one reason I can’t breathe very well through my nose and have little sense of smell. That happens when you get it broken a time or two.

Not only did I get punched out more than once by someone who was irate about something I put in the paper, I also had the mayor of a town in Washington state spit on me at a town council meeting, had my car vandalized a time or two, and somewhere in my desk I still have a tape recording of a county sheriff standing in my office telling me that some night he was going to pull me over and shoot me, and that his deputies would be the ones that investigated it and not a damn thing would happen.

Four nights later, a carload of skinheads showed up at our semi-rural house in the middle of the night, trying to break through two different doors. I put Terry on the floor on the far side of the bed with a .38 revolver and told her to shoot anybody who came to the bedroom door that wasn’t me. Then my 12-gauge riot gun and huge pissed off German Shepherd helped me get the message through that they were not welcome. Terry had dialed 911, saying that our home was being broken into, and three days later, a deputy wandered by to take a report and casually mentioned that I must have made somebody mad. I guess that’s what happens when you step on toes.

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.

To enter, click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name (first and last) in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn Sunday evening. Note: Due to the high shipping cost of printed books and Amazon restrictions on e-books to foreign countries, only entries with US addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed. After 90 days, unclaimed prizes revert back to the drawing pool for a future contest.

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

Thought For The Day – If you can’t be kind, at least be vague.

Always Busy

 Posted by at 12:58 am  Nick's Blog
Feb 212024
 

Between getting the generator installed, repairing and upgrading the septic system, working on my new book, and everything else that life throws our way, it seems like we’re always busy.

Terry has been eager to get back to weaving, and the last couple of days she has been working on getting her loom set up for a project. She says it’s been so long that she had to do some reviewing of the different techniques, but she’s got it figured out now. I’m happy to see that because I love to see the smile on her face when she’s creating things, and I love to see what she produces.

Yesterday was another busy one. We were up early because I had arranged for a couple of truckloads of gravel to be delivered for the road going out to the barn, as well as some more for the driveway up to the garage and house. A nice gentleman named Danny Kelley brought it for us and spread it as he dumped it, which will save me a lot of trouble and tractor work.

I think it looks pretty good, and it will definitely be much better than dealing with the mud when it rains.

Then, during the afternoon, Terry and I were out the door, headed to our routine doctor checkups at Pickens County Primary Care in Reform, about ten miles to the west of us. But first we made a stop at the post office in Gordo to pick up a bag of dog food I had ordered from Amazon. Lately Amazon is using the post office to deliver a lot of things. The only problem with that is that our local post office won’t deliver anything over 25 pounds, and the dog food weighed 36 pounds. We had the same issue with something else last week. So what’s the good of ordering something online if you still have to pick it up? I told Terry from now on I will just get things like that from a local store and save the hassle.

We got to the doctor’s office a little early but they took us right in, checked our vitals, went over our medications, drew blood for labs, and Terry got a couple of shots to hopefully help ease the pain she has been having in her right elbow and left hip.

It’s been a while since we’ve been to a Chinese buffet, so when we were finished with the medical stuff, we took a short drive to Columbus, Mississippi, for dinner at the Hibachi Buffet. We really like this place. They have a huge selection, and everything is always fresh and delicious.

As if everything else we have going on isn’t enough, sometime soon I need to take my Kubota tractor to the dealer for its 50 hour service. It’s actually past due because I got busy and forgot to check the hour meter. The rep I deal with at Tuscaloosa Tractor said they’re not very busy right now, so hopefully they can get it in and out in a couple of days.

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 want my children to have all the things I couldn’t afford. Then I want to move in with them. – Phyllis Diller

Messy Job Finished

 Posted by at 12:30 am  Nick's Blog
Feb 202024
 

In Saturday’s blog I told you how the subcontractor doing the trenching for the gas lines for our new whole house generator had cut two of the field lines for our septic system the day before. I called Scott and Alan Banks from Banks Construction to come out to see about repairing them, but we discovered that all the lines were clogged and/or collapsed, so we made the decision to replace everything.

They worked on it all day Friday and Saturday and got the solid pipe replaced from the septic tank out to our pasture, where they dug out three separate trenches for the field lines. However, they could not get gravel delivered until yesterday.

And sure enough, bright and early yesterday morning a dump truck delivered a load of gravel.

Using their big Kubota tractor, Alan dumped gravel into the bottom of all of the trenches.

Then Scott used a shovel to spread it out evenly.

The next step was to place sock pipe in all three trenches. It is a perforated plastic tubing that has a fabric cover over it, which allows the treated water from the septic system to pass through into the ground.

With that done, they connected the sock pipe to the heavy-duty PVC pipe coming out from the septic tank.

Then they laid heavy plastic sheeting over the top of the sock pipe. Alan explained this was to keep dirt from getting into the pipe and causing clogs, like what had happened previously.

Scott and Alan work well together, the perfect father and son team. Alli has been in heaven the last few days, having so much going on and so many people around to throw balls for her. You’d think that’s the only reason we had the job done, to keep her entertained.

By the end of the day all of the pipe had been laid and connected, and Alan filled in and covered all up the trenches with the tractor. Then he flattened things out with its back blade.

Right now it looks like a somewhat muddy clay covered field, but I know that once the spring rains come it won’t take long for the grass to start growing again, just like it did last year when the people regrading the backyard were driving across the field to dump the excess dirt. They left us with a bare earthen road, but by summer you couldn’t tell it had been there and I was cutting the grass on top of it.

Thanks Scott and Alan for all of your hard work and coming to help us out once again. You guys are the best and I would recommend you to anyone for any project they need done!

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

Thought For The Day – We went to Panda Express the other night. No panda on the menu. What a disappointment.

Corporate Thinking

 Posted by at 12:25 am  Nick's Blog
Feb 192024
 

I got a flat tire on my Kubota tractor when Travis and I were taking down the wall in the garage and clearing everything out last week. We found the hole, which looks like it may have been made by a nail, and since I have a tire repair kit, it shouldn’t be much of a problem to fix.

But I wanted to get a tire marking crayon to make it easier to find the hole again while I’m doing the repair. When Terry and I were in town we stopped at an auto parts store on the way home to see if they had one, but they didn’t. Terry suggested Walmart, and since we had to drive right by it, I pulled in and went to the automotive department and asked if they had any.

The young lady behind the counter said she didn’t know what that was, but she was sure they didn’t carry it. One of their mechanics standing there showed her a stub of one that he had in his pocket and said, “This one’s about ready to be thrown away, if you want it.” It wasn’t much over an inch long, but it would do the job I needed for just that one tire.

The young lady lady said she didn’t know how much to charge me and he told her they were a disposable item and it was just going to go in a trash can. She said she had to check with her assistant manager. That took a series of phone calls, but because they don’t have a stock number for that item, they didn’t know how to ring it up. They finally decided to charge me $9.95.

Really? For something they were going to throw away? I thanked her for her time and came home and ordered a pack of five of them from Amazon for $6.99. I will never live long enough to use all of them, but it still seemed like a better deal to me.

Congratulations Gail Reitz, winner of our drawing for an RV camping journal donated by Barbara House. Barbara makes several variations of these, and they all have pages where you can list the date, weather, where you traveled to and from that day, beginning and ending mileage, campground information including amenities at RV sites, a place for campground reviews, room to record activities, people met along the way, reminders of places to see and things to do the next time you’re in the area, and a page for notes for each day.

We had 27 entries this time around. Stay tuned, a new contest starts soon. Note: Due to the high shipping cost of printed books and Amazon restrictions on e-books to foreign countries, only entries with US addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed. After 90 days, unclaimed prizes revert back to the drawing pool for a future contest.

And finally, here’s a chuckle to start your day from the collection of funny signs we see in our travels and that our readers share with us. Do you think I can get an emotional support cougar?

Thought For The Day – I’m sick of following my dreams, man. I’m just going to ask where they’re going and hook up with ’em later. – Mitch Hedberg

What A Mess

 Posted by at 12:35 am  Nick's Blog
Feb 182024
 

Things were going along smoothly with our Generac whole house generator installation on Thursday. The generator was set on its pad, the new breaker box with the automatic transfer switch was mounted on the side of the house and all the wiring was in place, and things were looking good. Then the excrement hit the oscillating device. Literally.

The subcontractor who was doing the trenching for the gas lines cut into one of the field lines for our septic system. Oops. That’s not good.

Ben from Absolute Power Solutions asked if I knew a plumber I could call, and I didn’t. But not to worry, I’ve got a guy. Actually, two guys. I called Alan Banks, one half of the father and son team of Banks Construction, and told him I was in a jam and needed help. Alan and his father Scott have worked on several projects around here, including building both of our decks and taking down the back section of our barn that was falling down. Alan said he would call his father and they would be right over, and within half an hour they were here.

As it turns out, the trencher had actually cut two different field lines in different locations. At first, Scott and Alan thought it would be a relatively simple matter of repairing the broken lines, but that was not to be.

I have mentioned before that we have had problems with one of our toilets flushing, and after a heavy rain like we had last week, none of our three toilets flush properly. We knew the septic tank was pumped and inspected when we bought the house a year ago, so it couldn’t be full.

We thought there might be either a clog or a vent issue someplace, but when they started inspecting the field lines to assess what would be needed for repairs, we realized that they were all at least partially collapsed, as well as being clogged in some places. That would explain a lot of our problems.

Realizing that the only way to handle the problem would be to dig all of the field lines up and make repairs where needed, we decided that if that was going to be necessary, it wouldn’t cost that much more to replace them all and run them farther out into the pasture. They also needed to be deeper into the ground so they would not run the risk of being cut or collapsed again. It’s going to be a labor intensive job, and not cheap, but it needs done and we want it done right, so let the games begin!

Before long, Alan was on an excavator digging up the old lines while Scott was off to purchase the necessary materials to replace all of the field lines.

By the end of the day we had long, deep trenches across our backyard and then on into the pasture.

This is the view from our bedroom window out into the pasture.

Scott and Alan worked until dark, and were back again first thing yesterday morning, along with one of their helpers. It had turned cold overnight and the morning was downright bitter, with a stiff breeze blowing. It stayed cold all day. I don’t think it got into the mid-40s, but the guys kept right at it.

They managed to get new heavy duty PVC piping run from the septic tank out to the pasture, and then Alan used the excavator to fill in the trench and smooth it down as much as he could, considering the ground is wet from recent rains.

They were not able to get gravel delivered for where the field lines branch off until Monday, so they will be back then to finish the job. We really appreciate them coming to our rescue whenever we get in a bind. Scott and Alan have built their business based upon good customer service and a hard day’s work for an honest day’s pay. It’s nice to know we have people we can depend on.

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

To enter, click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name (first and last) in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn Sunday evening. Note: Due to the high shipping cost of printed books and Amazon restrictions on e-books to foreign countries, only entries with US addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed. After 90 days, unclaimed prizes revert back to the drawing pool for a future contest.

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

Thought For The Day – My high school was so small we had sex education and drivers education in the same car.

Generator Delivery

 Posted by at 1:09 am  Nick's Blog
Feb 172024
 

I was up and out of bed a little after 6:30 yesterday morning, believe it or not. If it would have been a normal morning, I would have peed and gone back to sleep. But this wasn’t a normal morning, because this was the day our Generac 24 KW whole house generator was being delivered. So instead, I brushed my face and washed my teeth and went out on the back deck to greet the morning. Yeah, it’s pretty, but you know what else is pretty at that time of the morning? The inside of my eyelids.

Before long the installation crew started arriving in several trucks from several different directions.

Ben Williams from Absolute Power Solutions backed a cargo trailer up alongside of our garage and they rolled the generator out. Once it was off the trailer, they leveled the area where it was going to sit and put down a preformed pad, then put the generator in place at the end of our old deck behind the garage.

Then the electricians went to work, first disconnecting power to the house before they removed the old breaker box and installed a new one that includes an automatic transfer switch. The generator and transfer switch are designed to kick on within a few seconds of us losing power and will then run until power is restored, when the transfer switch turns off the generator to let regular power run. It is set up so that power from the generator cannot go into the lines and possibly electrocute a lineman from the power company working on lines somewhere after a storm causes an outage.

While they were doing that, a subcontractor showed up with a trencher to dig the trenches to bury the gas line that will feed the generator. The self-propelled trencher was an awesome piece of equipment that dug through our heavy clay soil with ease.

The trench starts behind a utility shed in the backyard and goes across the yard to where the generator is, with a T along the way for a secondary trench that runs alongside the house for a connection to our gas line for our stove. This will eliminate us having to use the small propane tanks we have been doing up until now.

A heavy-duty polypropylene type line designed for gas was laid in the trenches and stubbed up to pipes coming out of the ground. When the propane tank is set, which won’t be until the 26th, everything will be connected and we will be ready to go.

This is what the generator looks like with the front cover and lid open, and here it is all closed up.

It sounds like it was a good day and everything went according to plan, doesn’t it? However, as they always say in those late night TV commercials, but wait, there’s more!

In a blog a couple of weeks ago, I said that a mechanic friend who once told me that every thirty-minute job is just one stuck bolt away from a three-day ordeal. In our case, it wasn’t a stuck bolt, but toward the end of the installation there was a mishap that is definitely going to turn into a three-day ordeal. A very expensive three-day ordeal! But I’ll tell you all about that in tomorrow’s blog.

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

To enter, click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name (first and last) in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn Sunday evening. Note: Due to the high shipping cost of printed books and Amazon restrictions on e-books to foreign countries, only entries with US addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed. After 90 days, unclaimed prizes revert back to the drawing pool for a future contest.

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

Thought For The Day – Being kind is more important than being right.

Plugged And Stuffed

 Posted by at 12:45 am  Nick's Blog
Feb 162024
 

We were on the go for much of yesterday, running errands and getting things done. Our first stop was at the post office in Gordo to pick up an Amazon package that they wouldn’t deliver because it was too heavy, at about 40 pounds. The lady at the post office said that Amazon is shipping a lot more stuff through them now instead of UPS. Actually, it does ship by UPS from Amazon, but it’s taken to the post office for local delivery. My question is, if it’s too heavy for the post office to deliver, why are they accepting it?

From there we drove into Northport for an appointment Terry had at Southern Eye Consultants to get plugs in her tear ducts. She has chronic dry eye, and no kind of drops relieves it, so every three months she getse new plugs put into her tear ducts to keep things from drying up. It sounds pretty gruesome to me, but Terry said it is very simple and only takes a couple of seconds to do both eyes.

I also had an appointment for a routine eye exam scheduled for March 13th, but while we were there I asked to reschedule it because that is the day our daughter Tiffany and granddaughter Destiny will be flying back to Arizona after their visit with us. Their flight leaves in the morning and the appointment was in the afternoon, but I didn’t want to take any chance of a delay messing things up and causing me to miss the appointment. While she was setting up a new appointment for me, the lady at the office told me that she always has people fly in and out of Atlanta instead of Birmingham because overall it’s about $50 cheaper. I asked her how long it took to drive to Atlanta and she said three hours there and three hours back. So six hours of your time to save fifty bucks? That doesn’t sound like much of a deal to me.

Since we hadn’t had breakfast, when we were done with the eye clinic we decided to go to Applebee’s for a late lunch. I had the three cheese penne pasta with grilled chicken and Terry had a quesadilla salad with grilled chicken. Our server was a wonderful young woman with a great sense of humor, and the food was wonderful. By the time we walked out of there Terry had been plugged and stuffed, all in one day.

I had noticed that there was a gun shop not far from where we were, so we went to check it out. That is never a good idea because I always find something I didn’t know I really needed until I saw it. They had a couple of interesting pieces there, but I really don’t need another gun, do I? I don’t, right? Are you sure?

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

To enter, click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name (first and last) in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn Sunday evening. Note: Due to the high shipping cost of printed books and Amazon restrictions on e-books to foreign countries, only entries with US addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed. After 90 days, unclaimed prizes revert back to the drawing pool for a future contest.

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

Thought For The Day – Never ask a starfish for directions.

Feb 152024
 

More than once I have joked that I come from a long line of horse thieves, card sharks, shady ladies, and other assorted riffraff. I’ve always claimed that in jest, but it appears I wasn’t that far off the mark.

I’ve always been interested in history, so I guess it was natural I would be interested in my own history as well, which got me into genealogy. A few years ago I was looking through some old Cincinnati newspapers on newspapers.com and plugged in the name of John Sanders Stephens, my great-grandfather, who lived across the Ohio River from Cincinnati, in Ludlow, Kentucky. I didn’t find anything new about him, but I did find some information on one of his grandsons, a first cousin one time removed or some such, also named John.

Most of great-grandfather Stephens’ family seem to have been great citizens who made a lot of contributions to the community, including one of his sons, James, who was president of the First National Bank of Ludlow, as well as the City Treasurer of Ludlow for many years.

But not my ne’er-do-well cousin. According to newspaper records, in 1936 his wife divorced him on grounds of desertion. Two years later, he was hauled before the judge and given 30 days for failure to provide child support for the two children of that union. The newspaper article reported that the judge said the defendant had been in his courtroom for the same charges several times previously. Then, in 1939, he was charged with cutting another man in a barroom fight. And as if that was not enough, that same year he was sentenced to a year in prison for stealing 47 chickens. Again, the newspaper said it was not the first time he had been charged with theft. I had to stop reading about that time, because I didn’t know whether to laugh out loud or to hang my head in shame.

I guess when you shake your family tree, you have got to expect a few nuts to fall out, don’t you?

It’s Thursday, so it’s time for a new Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an RV camping journal donated by Barbara House. Barbara makes several variations of these, and they all have pages where you can list the date, weather, where you traveled to and from that day, beginning and ending mileage, campground information including amenities at RV sites, a place for campground reviews, room to record activities, people met along the way, reminders of places to see and things to do the next time you’re in the area, and a page for notes for each day.

To enter, click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name (first and last) in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn Sunday evening. Note: Due to the high shipping cost of printed books and Amazon restrictions on e-books to foreign countries, only entries with US addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed. After 90 days, unclaimed prizes revert back to the drawing pool for a future contest.

And finally, here’s a chuckle to start your day from the collection of funny signs we see in our travels and that our readers share with us. This is a lot more information than I need to know about this driver.

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

Feb 142024
 

Happy Valentine’s Day to all of you lovers, young and old, and especially to my own sweetheart, Miss Terry. I’ve said it a million times before and I’ll say it a million times again, I love you. There’s nothing better than being married to your best friend.

Do you have plans for Valentine’s Day? Are you going out for a romantic dinner, or maybe an evening spent dancing? We are old fuddy-duddies, so we’re just going to have a quiet dinner at home. We don’t need a special day to express our love for one another. We do it every hour of every day.

Not long after we moved here, I got an e-mail from one of our neighbors, Vickie House, welcoming us and saying that she hoped to stop by and meet us in person someday soon. But you know how it is, people get busy and time slips away, so even though Vickie and I had exchanged emails a few times, we never met her until yesterday, when she saw me out in the front yard with Alli and stopped to introduce herself. Vickie’s family has lived here in Pickins County forever, and as she said, you can’t throw a stick anywhere in the county without hitting some of her kinfolk. We had a nice visit and found we have several things in common. We’re looking forward to getting to know Vickie and her husband Bill more.

During the afternoon we had an appointment at a lawyer’s office in Tuscaloosa. We had contacted him a couple of weeks ago to see about any changes we needed to make in our family trust, which was established in Florida, now that we live in Alabama. We also wanted to put our home and property here in the trust to protect things for our kids when we are gone, and to avoid probate. That was all accomplished, and yesterday was a simple matter of signing some paperwork that we need to take to the courthouse in Carrollton to transfer the deed to the house and surrounding property into the trust’s name.

By then it was midafternoon and we had not eaten yet, so we decided to try a place we have passed by but never stopped at before called McAlister’s Deli. I didn’t know that it’s part of a chain with over 200 locations. We were pleased to discover that they have a large selection of sandwiches to choose from, all huge and delicious.

I ordered their Cuban sandwich, and it was excellent. Lots of pulled pork, ham, and Swiss cheese, with a touch of mustard.

Terry chose the New Yorker, which had corned beef, pastrami, Swiss cheese, and spicy brown mustard on marbled rye. I had a couple of bites of it, and I think that would be my choice next time.

These pictures are only half of each sandwich. After our first bites we knew this was going to be a place we’d be coming back to again and again. They had some interesting desserts on the menu, but the sandwiches were so big that neither one of us would have been able to take another bite.

With our tummies full, we stopped at the post office to mail off a few things, and then went to the CVS in Gordo to pick up a couple of prescriptions before coming home. Then it was a quiet evening at home for us. The perfect way to spend a day, because we were together.

We don’t have any plans for today, though I’m sure I’ll get some more writing done, and Terry has a lot of chapters to edit and proofread. And I’m pretty sure there’ll be a whole bunch of saying “I love you” throughout the day. But that’s every day of the year, not just on Valentine’s 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.

Thought For The Day – Don’t marry someone you can live with. Marry the person you can’t live without.

Good Eats

 Posted by at 12:45 am  Nick's Blog
Feb 132024
 

The weatherman had said that the weekend’s rain would taper off Monday morning and be gone by midday. But I guess Mother Nature never got that memo, because yesterday was a cold, breezy, and very wet day across much of Alabama.

That didn’t stop Ben from Absolute Power Solutions from coming out first thing in the morning and putting down marker flags where the trenches will be dug in the backyard for the gas lines to run to our existing cook stove connection and where the Generac whole house generator will be installed.

Except for taking Alli out for potty breaks several times during the day, I spent most of it working on Big Lake Accident. I started out making corrections to chapters I had already written, then writing another chapter and printing it out to add to the ones Terry is editing and proofreading. I am over 49,000 words into the new book now, and if I can keep up this pace, I will have it done and hopefully out by the end of the month.

There’s an old saying that an army moves on its stomach. There’s another one about the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. Well, I was in the Army and I’m a man, so it’s a good thing my wife is such a superb cook, right? Let me share with you three wonderful meals she’s prepared in the last few days.

While I’ve always enjoyed fishing, I’d rather catch them than eat them for the most part. Unless Terry is cooking them. Then everything changes. Check out this amazing black sesame tuna steak with wedge potatoes and wild rice. Makes you want to crawl right through the screen and eat it, doesn’t it?

I love pizza and have enjoyed delicious pizza from border to border and coast to coast. But nobody makes pizza like Terry does. These are the ones she made Sunday. Everything is from scratch and baked to perfection. She likes hers with all kinds of veggies on them.

In comparison, I’m a simple man. Give me one of Terry’s pepperoni pizzas, and I’m always happy.

Last night it was pan-seared salmon steaks, along with wedge potatoes and sautéed veggies for Terry, while I had a side of peas.

My friend Alan Banks keeps saying I’m going to be surprised when he shows up here unannounced at 5 o’clock some evening for dinner. No, he’s going to be the one surprised, because we usually don’t eat until around 7. But I’m sure I can find some chores that need done to keep him busy until dinner is served.

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 – A tongue is like a knife. The sharper it is, the deeper it cuts.

Newspaper Days Reboot

 Posted by at 12:15 am  Nick's Blog
Feb 122024
 

For much of my working life I published small town weekly newspapers on the Pacific Northwest coast and in northern Arizona’s White Mountains. A while back I wrote about those days in a series of blog posts that readers seemed to enjoy, and I have had several requests from new blog readers to repeat the series. So I thought I would, and hopefully they will be well received.

When you run a small town newspaper, everyone knows you, and they don’t hesitate to call you at any hour of the day or night to tip you off to a possible story, to complain about an editorial you wrote, or to demand that you print a front page story about anything and everything, from their son being unfairly arrested just because he was driving 50 miles over the speed limit while drunk, because raccoons are getting in their trash cans and something needs to be done about it, or because their granddaughter is running for homecoming queen.

East of the small town of Snowflake, Arizona there is a rather desolate area that everybody calls “east of Snowflake,” appropriately enough. A lot of real Looney Tunes lived out there because you could buy land for almost nothing. Granted, most of it has no water or power, but if you are a doomsday prepper, an anti-government militia type, or just a hermit who wants to be away from people, that was, and still is, the place to be. People live in shacks they have thrown together, old mobile homes, travel trailers, and ancient school buses they pulled out there, and at least one person I know of lived in a cave. Yeah, he was a real caveman. These folks are suspicious of outsiders and even wary of their “uppity” neighbors who live close enough to a road to have utilities and telephones.

One such character, a harmless but eccentric fellow named Ed, had a vivid imagination and I could tell you many stories about him. Early one Sunday morning I was awakened by a phone call from Ed, telling me that a flying saucer had landed on his property and that I needed to get an undercover reporter out there. I said “sure, Ed” and went back to sleep.

A little while later he called back and told me that I needed to get an undercover reporter out there because the military was there rounding up all these little alien guys. I blew him off again and went back to sleep, or at least tried to. But Ed was persistent when he was on a roll, and he called a third time and told me that the soldiers were machine-gunning the little aliens in a dry wash on his property, and he again told me I needed to get an undercover reporter out there.

I told him that I already had a reporter on site, and Ed replied that he had not seen anybody. That’s when I told him he had not seen anybody because they were “undercover.” I guess that satisfied him because I didn’t hear anything more from him that day. But I sure did other times!

Congratulations Jean Watson, winner of our drawing for an autographed copy of Stillborn Armadillos, the first book in my John Lee Quarrels mystery series. Life is already complicated enough for John Lee, what with his estranged wife dropping in for unannounced sleepovers, her oversexed sister tempting him, his pot smoking ponytailed grandfather growing his own stash, his Elvis obsessed grandmother, and being caught smack dab in the middle of a power struggle between the Sheriff and Chief Deputy. But when a road construction crew unearths the skeletons of three murder victims, John Lee suddenly finds himself on the trail of a killer who may well have died long before the deputy was even born. And then a mysterious sniper begins shooting at deputies…

We had 88 entries this time around. Stay tuned, a new contest starts soon. Note: Due to the high shipping cost of printed books and Amazon restrictions on e-books to foreign countries, only entries with US addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed. After 90 days, unclaimed prizes revert back to the drawing pool for a future contest.

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

Thought For The Day – Even the tiniest poodle or chihuahua is still a wolf at heart.

One Call After Another

 Posted by at 12:57 am  Nick's Blog
Feb 112024
 

In yesterday’s blog I wrote about sleepless nights. I think I was motivated to write that because the night before had been one of those nights for me, where I tossed and turned and stared at the ceiling for hours. Eventually I would drop off to sleep for a few minutes and then wake up again and begin the process anew.

The last time I looked at the clock it was a little after 8 AM and apparently I then fell into a pretty sound sleep, because the next thing I knew it was 9 o’clock and the telephone was ringing. Oh well, it was good while it lasted.

The call was from Thompson Gas, the company that will be installing the propane tank for our whole house generator system. The lady needed my credit card number to cover the cost of setting up the tank and filling it for the first time. I gave her the information and went back to bed, thinking I might sneak in another hour or so of sleep, but it wasn’t meant to be.

About the time I got snuggled up to Miss Terry and closed my eyes, the telephone rang again. It was the same woman, saying the credit card didn’t go through and asking me to verify the number. As it turned out, she had transposed two digits, and we got that straightened out. Was it worth trying to sleep again? Why not?

At 9:30 the telephone was ringing again, this time from the service department at Thompson Gas, confirming that they will be here on the 26th at 8 AM to install the tank. Things are finally moving along on the generator installation.

I headed back to bed, because I’m no quitter, but just as I started to slip beneath the covers, guess what? Another phone call. This one was from Absolute Power Solutions, the company that will be installing the generator, telling me that everything had been scheduled with Thompson Gas and confirming they will also be here at the same time the tank is being set to begin the generator installation.

Figuring we had that all worked out, I looked longingly at my bed, but I wasn’t surprised when the telephone rang again. Seriously? Now what? This time it was Donna, our accountant, calling from Florida to go over some information for filing our income tax return. That took quite a while, and by the time we said our goodbyes, Terry was up and Alli needed to go out. So much for any thoughts of slumber.

And would you believe, the damn telephone never rang again for the rest of the day!

Today is your last chance to enter our Free Drawing for an autographed copy of Stillborn Armadillos, the first book in my John Lee Quarrels mystery series. Life is already complicated enough for John Lee, what with his estranged wife dropping in for unannounced sleepovers, her oversexed sister tempting him, his pot smoking ponytailed grandfather growing his own stash, his Elvis obsessed grandmother, and being caught smack dab in the middle of a power struggle between the Sheriff and Chief Deputy. But when a road construction crew unearths the skeletons of three murder victims, John Lee suddenly finds himself on the trail of a killer who may well have died long before the deputy was even born. And then a mysterious sniper begins shooting at deputies…

To enter, click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name (first and last) in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn this evening. Note: Due to the high shipping cost of printed books and Amazon restrictions on e-books to foreign countries, only entries with US addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed. After 90 days, unclaimed prizes revert back to the drawing pool for a future contest.

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

Thought For The Day – Always keep your words both soft and tender, because tomorrow you may have to eat them.

Sleepless Nights

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

I’ve been called lazy or a malingerer more than once because unless I absolutely have to, I seldom wake up before 10 or 10:30 AM, and many days it may be after 11. And that does sound lazy until you understand that I often work late and seldom get to bed before 2 AM. So if you factor that in, I’m still getting around eight hours sleep.

And that’s on a good night. There are many nights when back pain or other places where I’ve abused my body over the years keep me awake for many hours. And let’s not forget the nights when I just can’t shut my mind off. I can be totally exhausted when I go to bed, but about the time my head hits the pillow my brain kicks into high gear and won’t stop.

Sometimes that’s because I’m going over a plot for a book in my mind. I have actually come up with the ideas for several books on long sleepless nights like that. Return To Dog’s Run was one that comes to mind, as does Black Friday. I had no idea I was going to write those books until their plots came to me at night. It may sound strange, but when that happens I seem to write the whole book in my head. Then it’s simply a matter of getting it from there onto a computer screen.

I’d like to say that is what happens on most of my sleepless nights, but in truth my brain is usually focused on some silly nonsense. What was the name of my fifth grade teacher? Was it Mrs. McCann or Mrs. McKinley? Where was it that I broke down in the pouring rain and had to sleep in the back seat of my old car in a roadside rest area? Was that in Pennsylvania or New York? Damn, what’s the third line of that old song Those Were The Days My Friend? Yeah, I bet you’ve had some nights like that, too, haven’t you?

Have you ever found a cure for them, except for a sleeping pill? I’ve tried getting up and taking another shower, sitting in my recliner and reading, and even going back to my computer and starting to work again. Nothing really seems to work.

I had an aunt that always said that when you can’t sleep it’s because you’ve got a guilty conscience. Maybe that explains it. If that’s true, it’s a wonder I ever sleep.

Be sure to enter our latest Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an autographed copy of Stillborn Armadillos, the first book in my John Lee Quarrels mystery series. Life is already complicated enough for John Lee, what with his estranged wife dropping in for unannounced sleepovers, her oversexed sister tempting him, his pot smoking ponytailed grandfather growing his own stash, his Elvis obsessed grandmother, and being caught smack dab in the middle of a power struggle between the Sheriff and Chief Deputy. But when a road construction crew unearths the skeletons of three murder victims, John Lee suddenly finds himself on the trail of a killer who may well have died long before the deputy was even born. And then a mysterious sniper begins shooting at deputies…

To enter, click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name (first and last) in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn Sunday evening. Note: Due to the high shipping cost of printed books and Amazon restrictions on e-books to foreign countries, only entries with US addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed. After 90 days, unclaimed prizes revert back to the drawing pool for a future contest.

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

Thought For The Day – I want to sleep but my brain won’t stop talking to itself.

Feb 092024
 

Two chapters, actually. That was yesterday’s accomplishment working on my newest book, Big Lake Accident, and I did the same the day before. So things are moving along pretty well. I’m past the halfway point now, and I think I have an idea who is responsible for the crime in this one. Then again, I have thought that about other books and been wrong, so who knows? Not me, that’s for sure.

Quite a few readers have asked me when The War Years, the sixth book in my Tinder Street historical family saga, or The Ballad Of John Lee, my next John Lee Quarrels mystery, will be out. Because I always put a teaser chapter of the next book in the series at the end of each one I complete, saying “Coming Soon,” many readers expect it is available at that time or will be within a matter of days or weeks.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. It takes time to research and write a book, then to handle all of the editing and proofreading and formatting and such. I always ask people to think of those teaser chapters as previews of the next season of their favorite television series. They’re designed to whet your appetite, but they’re not fast food and it takes a while. All I can tell you is that once I finish my current Big Lake book, the next one on the schedule is The War Years. Because I always want to get the historical content right in this series, a tremendous amount of research is required. I’ve been doing that all along and it continues as I’m writing each book.

My goal is to put out at least four books this year, and The War Years will be the second one. I’d like to be able to give you a date to expect each book, but I’ve found that’s impossible to do. Sometimes life, and even a little bit of play now and then, gets in the way.

Be sure to enter our latest Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an autographed copy of Stillborn Armadillos, the first book in my John Lee Quarrels mystery series. Life is already complicated enough for John Lee, what with his estranged wife dropping in for unannounced sleepovers, her oversexed sister tempting him, his pot smoking ponytailed grandfather growing his own stash, his Elvis obsessed grandmother, and being caught smack dab in the middle of a power struggle between the Sheriff and Chief Deputy. But when a road construction crew unearths the skeletons of three murder victims, John Lee suddenly finds himself on the trail of a killer who may well have died long before the deputy was even born. And then a mysterious sniper begins shooting at deputies…

To enter, click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name (first and last) in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn Sunday evening. Note: Due to the high shipping cost of printed books and Amazon restrictions on e-books to foreign countries, only entries with US addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed. After 90 days, unclaimed prizes revert back to the drawing pool for a future contest.

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

Thought For The Day – Never get married in the morning, because you never know who you might meet that night.

An Entire Tower?

 Posted by at 12:30 am  Nick's Blog
Feb 082024
 

No matter where you go in America, small town or big city, thieves are always hard at work. We’ve all heard news stories about people stealing catalytic converters from automobiles and copper wire from air conditioning units. But some Alabama crooks have taken things to a whole new level.

AM radio station WJLX, located in the small town of Jasper, about 40 miles northwest of Birmingham, recently reported that a 200-foot-tall broadcast tower had been stolen. You read that right, the whole darn tower is gone! How does that even happen?

According to station manager Brett Elmore, the thieves broke into a building at the site and made away with several thousand dollars worth of equipment, as well as cutting the tower’s guy-wires and taking the tower with them, too. Elmore said that in his 26 years in the radio business, he had never heard of such a thing. In all my years in the newspaper business and beyond, neither have I. How did nobody notice this happening? It’s not like they grabbed a computer and threw it in the back seat of a car and drove off. The thing was 200 feet tall!

If and when the thieves get caught, and I hope they do catch these guys, they could be facing harsh penalties, because radio stations are a federally licensed facility, making it a federal crime.

Now I have to figure out how to work this into one of my mystery novels. No, never mind. Nobody would ever believe it. Truth really is stranger than fiction.

It’s Thursday, so it’s time for a new Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an autographed copy of Stillborn Armadillos, the first book in my John Lee Quarrels mystery series. Life is already complicated enough for John Lee, what with his estranged wife dropping in for unannounced sleepovers, her oversexed sister tempting him, his pot smoking ponytailed grandfather growing his own stash, his Elvis obsessed grandmother, and being caught smack dab in the middle of a power struggle between the Sheriff and Chief Deputy. But when a road construction crew unearths the skeletons of three murder victims, John Lee suddenly finds himself on the trail of a killer who may well have died long before the deputy was even born. And then a mysterious sniper begins shooting at deputies…

To enter, click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name (first and last) in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn Sunday evening. Note: Due to the high shipping cost of printed books and Amazon restrictions on e-books to foreign countries, only entries with US addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed. After 90 days, unclaimed prizes revert back to the drawing pool for a future contest.

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

Thought For The Day – Some people just suck the nice right out of you.