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HURRICANE IRMA — DAMAGED US ALL

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The most serious hurricane damage, was not physical…

Hurricane Irma caused millions of dollars worth of damage, as she roared savagely through our state. Very few manmade structures were not impacted in some negative way. Giant trees, that had stood for centuries, were torn from the ground and left toppled to the ground, gasping for breath. Countless species of wildlife were thrown into survival mode and our utility infrastructure was devastated as well. Tons of raw sewage flushed from septic tanks and sewers and the storm drains were no match for the rapidly rising water. Major escape routes were left at a standstill and gasoline, ice and drinking water became more valuable that gold. Millions of frightened eyes were glued to television screens and ears strained to hear the latest report on the radio. Text messages were flashing “Red Alert’s” and weather radio alarms were screaming with every passing moment… Cell phone signals from the spotty system were deluged with called from worried relatives up north, trying to verify the safety of their loved ones…

The more people we love, the more opportunities to worry.

Our decision to “RUN” north, ahead of the storm, was not an easy choice.

We were relying on meteorological reports and our memories of losing our in home in 2005 to hurricane Charlie. We had no desire to be here for a replay… In the horror that was Charlie, we remained in our home terrified as the roof was torn off and our neighborhood — leveled. I will never forget the fear I felt for Lucy, Aimee and baby Alexis, as we sat in our Suburban, closed up in our dark garage, listening to the terrible shrieks of the wind and sound of falling trees and pouring rain… We decided back then that we would not voluntarily “Go through another one”.

South bound and down, loaded up and truckin’,
We’re gonna do what they say can’t be done.
We’ve got a long way to go and a short time to get there.
I’m south bound, just watch ol’ “Bandit” run.

We left for home on Thursday, September 14th, nervous about the conditions we might encounter…

We were anxious  to survey the damage at our waterfront beach house and start the process of recovery. One big question was – “Will we have electricity at our home?” (more on that later) Our first day was marred by a vehicle breakdown, shortly after we hit the road. We were making good time, on excellent roads, with almost no traffic. I scan my mirrors frequently – learned in my pilot days – to stay aware of any eminent threat. My heart sank as I checked the rearview mirror and saw an enormous cloud of SMOKE. There was no one behind us… the smoke was coming from Voyageur. “Holy Shit!”  I yelled. I knew it was catastrophic. Lucy exclaimed “Are we on fire?” her thoughts were for the safety of “Ava” our African gray parrot and “Amelia”, our daughters beta fish. Lucy knew our cage bound bird and bowl bound fish had no chance of escape without our assistance.

“Are we on fire?”… exclaimed a terrified Lucy…

I immediately slowed and turned into the first cross road. It was “Sloan Road”. A quick survey revealed there was NO fire. The smoke was from automatic transmission fluid that escaped from the disconnected transmission cooling line. The fluid that sprayed onto the hot exhaust pipe and a huge cloud of smoke ensued. First fear alleviated – we were not “On fire”. My heart sank for two reasons, 1. We were dead in the water, until the loose hose was reattached and new ATF added and 2. The hose had come off once before and I had not done my due diligence by adding a better hose bibb. No time for self abuse now, how am I going to get this van back in running condition, in the middle of nowhere? It was all my fault.

“Howdy. Do you happen to have any automatic transmission fluid I could buy?”

As luck (or GOD) would have it, James Head was mowing his lawn just a few hundred feet away. He asked me what I needed and I, very embarrassedly, explained my plight. He said he “had no fluid” and immediately offered to drive me to a “nearby” auto parts store. (It was twenty four miles round-trip) While I explained the reason for our southbound travel, our conversation turned to our religious beliefs and how his two adult sons had recently “accepted Christ”. James too was a believer. I was touched by the story the kind stranger told of his walk with the Lord and what it meant to him to see both of his sons “Saved”. The NAPA store – he was a frequent customer – had everything I needed to replace the lost fluid. I even had the presence of mind to buy a special funnel to prevent a spill, as I added the fluid. When we returned to Lucy, Ava and Amelia, James slid under the van with me to survey the problem. As it turned out, James was a retired corporate mechanic with forty-four years of experience keeping vehicles rolling. In addition, both of his sons were circle-track racers who campaigned very well built and maintained dirt track cars. His huge barn was a complete mechanic/machine shop.

“This is the wrong hose fitting.” James explained…

I told James the truth. I knew the fitting was bad and had decided to just make do, instead of replacing the fitting with a proper one. He accepted my confession without judgement and started to consider alternatives to fix the problem. I already felt bad enough and was glad he didn’t pour on “burning coals”. James did not have the “right” fitting in his shop, so he decided to alter my existing hose bibb, to eliminate any more problems in the future. He took the fitting to his shop, made the necessary alteration and returned shortly with the modified hose bibb, two new hose clamps and a roll of teflon tape.

James Head,  “Our Angel” didn’t have the right part – so he just modified my original one. Fantastic! “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’ Matthew 25:40

In only a few more minutes, the modified hose fitting was installed and the appropriate amount of ATFC was added. We then proceeded to his outdoor shop sink, “Super Orange” hand-cleaner and dry shop towels to complete the “paperwork”. We both agreed we love the smell of the hand-cleaner because it always meant the “job was done”…

The entire experience was made much less horrifying, by this Godly man and his willingness to help a stranger…

Wrong again… the engine would not start… I knew “It was ALL my fault.”

A few months ago, the same situation had occurred. The engine would turn over just fine, but it would not start. I used my scanner to determine the problem was a faulty Camshaft Position Sensor. Full of confidence, I ordered a replacement part and planned to replace the CPS. As it turned out, on each subsequent attempt to drive the van before the new part arrived, it started and ran. No problem. Chalking it up to a one-time fluke  – I put the new part in my parts bin and didn’t bother installing it.

I had this part, safely stored in my shop, instead of doing the right-thing and installing it.

Our vehicle finally running again, we set our next destination into our GPS and drove off with happy hearts. We were on the way home. We had planned to drive to a campsite at “Yellow Jacket RV Park” but fatigue got the best of us and we settled for any-port-in-a-storm. We started scanning ahead for the first campground that was open. Lucky for us, it was “Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park”. A large part of the park was closed, due to hurricane damage, but they had a nice drive-through site available and we took it. In only a matter of minutes were plugged in, setup and headed for a hot shower. It had been a very long day (Not as long as the next one). The soothing hot water helped to relieve our stress and our feelings turned to hunger. The “SOS Cafe”, located right in the park, provided delicious food at reasonable prices and for those so inclined, it was “Karaoke Night”.

Delicious food, bottomless pitchers of Sweetea, friendly attentive waitstaff and very relaxing atmosphere. 

SOS, Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park, campground provided a safe retreat with electricity and hot showers. We were fortunate to find an open campsite. The majority of the campground, that was reopened following the storm, was almost full of hurricane refugees, like us.

We were up early next morning to continue our trip south. We decided to make another stop at the “SOS CAFE” before leaving the park. We both ate large, delicious breakfasts and left feeling ready for the day. We had reservations at our favorite campground, Silver Lake, in the Withalacoochee State Forest.  Lucy and I had reservations for three days at site-16 – our favorite. We were very excited about spending three days enjoying the cool waters of the lake and launching Camo-Tow for some sedate river cruising…

As it turned out – this was not to be. More vehicle problems took over…

Hungry again, we stopped at another favorite eatery, Riverside Cafe in Nobleton, Florida. From there it would only be a fifteen minute drive to our campsite. WRONG! When we finished our lunch and returned to our Roadtrek, it would not start. It just kept turning over, the battery was new, but the 5.9 V-8 wouldn’t fire up. Deja Vous………………

For over three hours the van sat in the hot sun defying every attempt to start it. We began calling AAA immediately and request a tow to Chillston’s Garage in Floral City, Florida. I forgot about the identical problem that had occurred months ago and sat baffled at the reluctance to start. Finally I hooked up my scanner again and got a fault code for Defective Camshaft Position Sensor. Crap. Again, it was ALL my fault. Remembering our 200 mile towing feature on our Premier RV AAA coverage, we spent hours on the phone trying to arrange a tow for our van and boat trailer. This was frustrating and pointless. While I was on hold with AAA, Lucy decided to go out and check on Ava and Amelia. I said “Why don’t you try it one more time.”…

VROOOOOOOOM! MIRACLE! She fired right up…

I was filled with mixed emotion. On the one hand, exuberant that our vehicle was running, on the other hand, disappointed that we would not be going to Silver Lake. We were afraid to shut it off again for fear it would not restart. With a full tank of gas onboard and ten spare gallons, in two gas cans, in the boat, we drove the entire 165 miles home without turning the van off. With every passing mile –  we suffered with the knowledge that it might stall again, leaving us stranded on a deserted country road, totally in the dark, miles from home. The tension was almost unbearable. Our conversation was limited by our unspoken fears and we drove on in relative silence.

Danger Behind Us…. At first we were unaware of the danger that followed us…

We stopped for a bite to eat at a fast food joint and left the motor running. When we finished our meal, darkness had fallen and it was time to turn on the lights. I confidently pulled the headlight switch expecting two bright shafts of light from the two new headlights I had recently installed. WHAT? There was no comforting twin beams of light when I pulled the switch. Total darkness continued. DAMN DAMN DAMN! I realized at that moment, that I had never installed the brand new headlight switch that I bought when this intermittent problem had occurred in the past. We NEVER drive at night and I had forgotten all about the previous time I had to “wiggle the switch”. Wiggle it I did and we were finally greeted by the glowing HEADlights…

This new switch shouild have been installed months before our hurricane escape. I was just to lazy…

Our WAZE App set our course over miles of narrow, winding backroads through darkened farm fields…

We drove on nervous for an unexpected outage from the defective switch. We drove past several small homes, totally dark, with no illumination, due to the power outage. We were truly in the dark… Again it was ALL my fault. Worst thing of all, guess what was at home in my shop right next to my new CPS? Yes. You guessed it. A brand new headlight switch. I had not installed it because “We never drive at night.” and “Its a big job. I have to remove part of the dash.” Now I felt like an even bigger FOOL. Was this the worst that could happen? Oh no no no. Read on my friends…

Stopping for a roadside pee break, I noticed no taillights on the van, or boat trailer. SHIT!

Again, I lamented, in utter embarrassment. This was, ALLLLLLL my fault. What am I going to do? Still hours from home. Totally dark two-lane roads and nothing to warn approaching drivers of our presence, except for the small reflectors that would glow in the light of the overtaking headlights. I knew we would be driving more slowly than any overtaking vehicles and I was terrified at the thought of making the remaining night-drive home. There was nothing I could do. If we could even find a place to pull over on the narrow roads we had no idea if the van would start again in the morning. With no other choice, I taped a small flashlight to the rear of our van and drove on in the inky, all encompassing blackness. We drove on in silence each of us lost in our own private thoughts of guilt, worry and dread. Through it all, Lucy never showed a bit of anger at my stupidity. She was the perfect example of a loving Christian mate… Believe me – I was angry enough at myself to make up for her forgiveness…

How come no van or TRAILER lights? Again. ALL My fault.

These brand new LED TRAILER Lights, purchased for our Camo-Tow trailer did no good at all sitting on my shelf. Will I ever learn? Procrastination is a sin.

I bought these new lights for our trailer several months ago. Why didn’t I install them you ask? Well, I was concentrating on the restoration of my Land Rover “BELUGA BUILD” and we NEVER tow the trailer at night. I am such a dumb ass. Lucy was right.

So….. This week I will be busy; installing new Camshaft Position Sensor, Installing new headlight switch, Installing new trailer lights, welding up our broken spare tire mount and wearing a very embarrassed, red face, while gorging myself on HUMBLE PIE. Lucy, I am so very sorry…

We did make it home safely, arriving at 1:00am… No thanks to me.

Our pool cage screen was blown out and our AC did not turn on.

 

Tons of yard debris, lots of tree damage, but our electric power was on.

Our air conditioning man, Scott Baker, of SCOTT AIR, arrived bright and early, on our first morning home and restored our cooling. We spent our Homecoming Night (Thursday) in our nice cool Roadtrek. We both slept like babies, happy to be safely home, thankful for our minimal damage, and praying for others not so fortunate. I learned lots of lessons on this trip and reconfirmed one undeniable truth….

I have the best spouse in the world… Thank you Lord.

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The Lord was with us. Escape from hurricane IRMA.

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Fight or flight? We chose flight…

We left home, in our 1999 Roadtrek camper with a lot of faith and a little angst. Unsure of our destination, but firm on our direction – NORTH! As time passed we learned that one of our daughters had been discharged from a local hospital early… High anxiety.

Amanda was discharged from her hospital stay one day after we fled. She was on her own…

When we left home they told us she would be kept “until the threat of the hurricane had passed”. Wrong. She was discharged against her will, with no place to go. We knew she was resourceful, but had no way to confirm her safety. Amanda was totally — on her own… Our prayers increased.

We used the WAZE app and stayed well clear of the parking lot that was I-75

We stuck to the backroads and had no traffic at all. Even though we were in “Flight” mode, the incredible scenery kept us enthralled and the knowledge that we were moving farther from harms way lessened our anxiety…

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The looming storm made our exodus even more urgent.

Our initial destination, was Silver Lake Campground in Brooksville, Florida. This beautiful park is holds of fifty years of happy memories, for Lucy and me. Once again, it proved to be our solace. We even got our favorite campsite… Number sixteen…

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Our favorite lakefront campsite, number sixteen, was the perfect overnight spot.

The next morning, backroads beckoned again and we shifted our GPS to points further north…

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If you have not used the “WAZE” app, give it a try. We love it…

An old campground, Deer Run, appeared, just as we were both feeling the need for a break from the road…

Just as God must have planned, we rented the LAST campsite. Once plugged in we settled down to unwind, attempted to contact family and friends by phone and social media and then enjoyed a full nights sleep… We discussed our future travel plans as we sipped our morning coffee.

First thought was to head to Frank Jackson State Park in Opp, Alabama, but they were full.

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There is just something about a journey on a tree lined dirt road that elicits joy from within…

Lucy and I loved traveling the dirt roads and marveled at the scenery.

As we were trying to decide where to “run”, our close friend Mandy Walker invited us to join them in Byron, Georgia. Fantastic.

We found an open gas station, filled our tank and set our WAZE App to head for safe haven in Byron.

The womenfolk, Mandy, Leigh, Alicia,

The trip was wonderful and we arrived to big hugs from our daughter Alicia, happy grandchildren and the entire Walker family. Mandy’s estate was the perfect place to feel; safe, loved and relieved. She even had an empty outbuilding that was a perfect shelter for our Gheenoe “Camo-Tow”. While MiMI Lucy relaxed with the girls in the big house, I called it a night and went to bed…

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“Voyageur” our venerable Roadtrek made a perfect hideaway.

Next morning we awoke to beautiful weather, cool temps and clear skies.

There was no indication of the fury that was hurricane IRMA. Soon after we woke, Mandy told us that our old friend Ryan Jones and his mate Krissy had invited us for a cook out. Man-O-man. That was wonderful news after a week of fear and doubt. As the hurricane continued its destructive path toward our home in Fort Myers Beach, Florida, Lucy and I were treated as honored guests at the Jones estate.

Tender and juicy pork loin and chicken quarters dissapeared quickly. Ryna cooked enough for a small army. We ate like one…

Bryan had three different kinds of meat in his smoker and plenty of beverages to keep our throats from getting dry, while we shared hours of wonderful conversation and fond memories.

The highlight for me, was getting to know Krissy, Riley (four years old) and Hunter (one year old) better. First time meetings for me.

Ryan relly knows how to handle his meat…

Ryan gave me a big bag of his “Secret Rub” to use when we return home. Fantastic!

Ryan gave us tour of his beautiful new Class-A, motorcoach and Krissy invited us to “Make ourselves at home” in their spacious abode. Chickens in the yard and a horse next door made the scary hurricane seem even farther away…

There were happy, laughing, kids of all ages, filling our space with joy. We continued our lively gabfest with the delicious aroma of smoking meat fueling our hunger to the max.

Krissy’s potato salad and Ryan;s perfectly seasoned and smoked meat  were definitely in competition for “What did you like best?”…

Four year old “Riley” was kind of shy at first, but by the time we left she and I were best friends. I already miss her.

It was an incredible joy to spend time with Ryan, Krissy, Riley and Hunter…

This little family is built on “Cherish, Honor and Love”. I cannot recall a time when I felt more at peace and at home.

Krissy and Ryan are true achievers. They plan their work and work their plans. If God had given me a son, I wish he would have been just like Ryan Jones…

Lucy and I have no idea what will greet us when we return to our home, but as for now… It is well with my soul….

 

Staying home with the babies…

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As it turns out, Lucy and I are spending this week in two different places. She is staying at the Bradenton KOA (Kampground of Armstrong) and I am home, mostly alone, at the Crowes’s Nest (beach house). I am very lonely when we aren’t together so … what’s up?

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“Mostly alone” because AVA is with me. 

Daughter Alicia, is attending a week long real estate sales seminar, so “Mimi” Lucy is doing school bus driver, housekeeper, grandmother, duty. She loves being helpful and spending time with the Armstrong’s…

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Daughter Alicia and granddaughter Alana always make Lucy feel special…

As it turns out it is a “win-win-win” situation. Lucy gets to spend quality one-on-one time with the Bradenton family, the kids get to spend quality time with their Mimi and Lucy gets a break from hanging out with me 24/7. Our reunion is always spectacular. Lots of hugging, kissing and………..

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Six year old granddaughter “Lucy Jo” turned her bedroom over to Mimi. Here is the welcome sign that Lucy made for her grandmother. Wonderful memories for sure…

So………… why am I not with them? Good question. I too am performing “childcare” duties. Difference is, all of my “Children” are GREEN. Lucy and I have planted lots of edible plants and they need daily care. Watering, weeding, tilling, mulching and feeding. I am also in charge of our hardworking earthworms… Even the worms, in their cozy worm towers, need care. Our practice of Vermiculture is dependent on the care and feeding of our two towers of European Nightcrawler’s.

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We spent a lot of time and energy turning the ugly ornamental planting bed into a vegetable garden. I installed a nice paver-path and the screened in pool cage helps to guard against unwanted insects. You can watch a time-lapse video of the family effort conversion here. Please; Like, Comment and Share…

We have planted quite a variety of veggies and we hope to have enough to share with family…

Here is what I’m up to.

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Our patch of “Golden Bantam” sweet corn is doing great. Already waist high. We have interplanted zucchini squash. It will grow under the corn stalks, protected from the hot sun. The squash will help to eliminate weds by shading them out.

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Our watermelon plants are doing fantastic. They are planted under the baby Gumbo Limbo tree that I planted in our front yard. Companion planting is a proven method of increasing vigor in all plants. I started the tree from a branch pruning.

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Our watermelon plants are already in bloom. With luck, these five plants will provide lots of, big, fat, juicy, sweet, melons. It takes a few months for them to grow to edible size – we will be anxiously waiting.

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Our micro-greens, planted in a repurposed water softener tank, are already providing tender greens for our daily salads. Succession planting will help to insure a ready supply.

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Our well tended nursery is full of babies waiting to take their places in our various garden spaces. In these cribs; cucumbers, kale, dill, egg plant, yellow and green peppers.

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This area of our garden contains; two kinds of radishes, spaghetti squash, butternut squash, tomatoes and Kentucky wonder beans. It is our “Three Sisters Garden” spot.

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In these pots, three different varieties of fig trees. There are also three purple sweet potato slips that will be transplanted into our main garden spot. Lucy loves figs and I love Lucy.

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We don’t plant many ornamental varieties, but this young Frangipani tree sure ads a nice visual accent and a marvelous aroma…

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In these rows, Lucy’s favorite “Sugar Snap Peas” are joined by purple tomatoes and Easter egg radishes. All are doing well. 

It is a pleasure waking up each morning, pouring myself a cup of fresh coffee and walking out to see ll the growth in our Victory Garden. It is even more fun when sjhared with my sweet spouse. I am missing her mucho, but grateful for the time she gets to spend with our family.

What are you growing this year? I would love to read in the comments and see some of your photos. Until next time remember;

“It ain’t easy being green.” Kermit the Frog

Overcoming Dissimilar Inertia

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It is the differences that makes it fun…

Howdy readers. it has been a long-long-long time, since I have visited our BLOG. I really have no excuse, other than laziness. I was all enthused about sharing my interesting (?) life with my Lucy, until I started thinking, “Why would people care about what some old “Florida Cracker” thinks is the secret, to a long and extremely happy relationship, that just happens to be based on an old-fashioned marriage to a person of the opposite sex. Nothing special about it—— or is there?

My mate for life – and beyond. I promised GOD.

When I was a boy, divorce was very rare. (Actually, both of my parents were married to other mates and divorced prior to meeting each other.) There was only one divorced woman in my neighborhood. She was either the target of every horny, frustrated husband within her view, or disdained by all the other married women who did not share her obvious comfort with her incredible body. Clothes were only chosen to prevent “Indecent Exposure”.  Those around her seemed to base their expectations of what was “proper”, based solely on their gender. She was always over-dressed for the men and to scantily for the women. Anyway……… I guess she is a big part of why I thought getting a divorce would be a terrible experience subjecting the two “X’s” to a life of pain and sorrow. “If I ever got married”, I vowed “I sure wouldn’t get a divorce.” Well, I did and I haven’t….

Lucy and I promised GOD that we would be together until “Death do us part”. (I’m not too comfortable with the last part. I wouldn’t care about going to Heaven, if I didn’t know Lucy and I would be mates forever and ever.) You already know the amazing story about how God put us together, but why has it lasted? Here is my story.

Dissimilar Inertia –

The dictionary basicly explains inertia as follows:

Inertia is the resistance of any physical object to any change in its state of motion; this includes changes to its speed, direction, or state of rest. It is the tendency of objects to keep moving in a straight line at constant velocity. The principle of inertia is one of the fundamental principles of classical physics that are used to describe the motion of objects and how they are affected by applied forces. Inertia comes from the Latin word, iners, meaning idle, sluggish. Inertia is one of the primary manifestations of mass, which is a quantitative property of physical systems. Isaac Newton defined inertia as his first law in his Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica, which states:[1]

The vis insita, or innate force of matter, is a power of resisting by which every body, as much as in it lies, endeavours to preserve its present state, whether it be of rest or of moving uniformly forward in a straight line.

Well the same applies to each one of us. We are all objects (some easier to look at than others – but still “Objects”.)

I remember an experiment in my high-school physics class, where the teacher dropped a ping-pong ball and a golf-ball off the top of the auditorium, to see which one would reach the ground first. Dissimilar weights should produce a discrepancy in the landing time, right? Wrong. They struck the floor at exactly the same time. Go figure…

Spend each day trying to out-nice each other. There will always be two winners…

“Nothing’s quite as beutiful as Lucy in the morning…” (Must be sung)

Ideally, a married couple would enjoy the same results. Lucy and I will be leaving our beach house for a trip to the country to visit family, enjoying the country atmosphere and on Sunday, celebrate our Granddaughter Olivia’s birthday. Initialy, we planned to leave yesterday, Friday. That was changed. Next we decided to leave this morning, Saturday. Now it is Saturday evening and we are now leaving “early in the morning“. Sunday. Well, you might ask, “Why so many time changes?”.

So many fun shop projects to finish

Excellent observation and quandary. Lucy wanted to go, go, go and I just wanted to complete a few more tasks and projects in my shop. “If I just had a little more time I could finish this.”

“Honey, just a few more hours. Please?”

Lucy did not pout, stamp her feet, or withold sex. She accepted my desire and delayed our departure to suit my “wants”. Was it a “Selfless” act of love on her part? Perhaps, but then again perhaps not. Each partner must decide which way to go based on their own appraisal of their own dissimilar inertia. Yes. Give and take. We seem to take turns going with the flow and being firm in our desire.

Lucy is the best shop hand a man could have – but she’s mine all mine.

So… what’s the point? In every situation, chose carefully the hill you want to die on. Some things are worth fighting for and some are not. If the potential adversary is your partner – suck it up mate – the makeup sex is fantastic! I have never been sorry to bend to Lucy’s desires and she is happy to provide all (most) of mine.

So many, many, reasons to be grateful and Lucy is one of the biggest.

Agreeing with the one you love, is always way better than “agreeing to disagree”. Believe me, you can take that homespun wisdom to the bank….

 

Go do something nice , just because you love her.

I lost my MoJo…

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I am not sure when it started, but my verve and zest have left…fishing rodWhen Lucy and I moved here to Fort Myers, in 1999, we were always happiest when we were doing something. Staying home was boring…

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We sold our farm, bought our fifty-seven foot Chris Craft “Constellation” and moved aboard. From our home port in the Fort Myers Yacht Basin we enjoyed traveling to many new locations and participated in lots of great adventures…. That’s Lucy on the “Tide-Ride” boarding ladder. She had just returned from her gig as a guide at the Edison Ford Estate. Lucy really enjoyed that job and the visitors loved her. She even got to dress up in period costume as “Mrs. Clara Ford”. The marina was close enough to the attraction that she was able to commute by bicycle…

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A couple of years living aboard was enough. We sold “Southern Cross” and drove to Fort Valley, Georgia to buy our next unconventional home – a Bluebird “Wanderlodge”. This big, luxurious Motorcoach served as a wonderful rolling home to Lucy and I and our youngest daughter Aimee. We called it home for three years and enjoyed every minute. We had our 1972 vintage Airstream “Overland” stored nearby. We towed the Airstream to many, many campgrounds around the sate of Florida and had a ball…

IMG_3658Our current pool home here on Fort Myers Beach is where I started to “Lose it”. I haven’t been on my bicycles – mountain or road in two years…

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Bicycles (and people) start to decay if they aren’t used. For some reason I just can’t get my energy up to swing my leg over the saddle and hit the rail. I don’t know why…

1052228_10203935608939634_9070195427082874003_oLucy and I have been avid kayakers since 1976. We have paddled thousands of miles in our pointy boats, but in the last two years they have only been in the water one time…

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Yes, this is my last “Lost MoJo expedition”. I just wanted to see if I could still sit in it without capsizing. we can launch right here from our dock, drive two miles to Lover’s Key to launch or trailer to any number of streams, creeks or rivers – but we haven’t. Why why why?

IMG_3485The view from our beach house is incredibly beautiful. The big house is nicely furnished, air-conditioned and has a big two car “Workshop” for all my pending projects… I just never feel like leaving…

421832_10200725603211497_1930133870_nLucy – my much younger spouse – still rides her bike quite frequently and always asks me to accompany her. I don’t. Why? No MOJO. It’s ridiculous….

IMG_3621Lately, I have become expert at: Napping, Cooking, Baking, Floating in our pool, Watching hours of Netflix, amazon and YouTube on our big flat screen TV. I am getting NO EXERCISE, NO ADVENTURE and NO MOJO…

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I have stage four CKD and two symptoms are “Muscle Wasting” and “Fatigue”. I am seventy years old and I have lived a very busy life – until now. Lucy loves me – June first was our forty-eighth anniversary – and she wants me to “Live long and prosper”.

If you have any suggestions to help me rekindle or reignite my MOJO, please post up. If you are feeling the same as I am, please share. If you think I am a big, whiney baby, who just needs to suck it up and get a life – tell me that too… Well I have to sign off. It’s time for my nap and I have to go in the kitchen and check my soup…

Stealth camping in our Roadtrek…

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We spent the entire day at “Sanibel Island Causeway Park” and since we knew there would soon be a gorgeous sunset, followed by a stunning full-moon rise we decided not to leave. “We” was Lucy and me and our friend from Canada, Ross Fish. Ross was in his self-contained Class-B “Pleasureway” accompanied by his beautiful Brittany Spaniel “Barney”…

Barney was one of the most awesome companions I have ever had the pleasure of spending time with.

Barney was one of the most awesome companions I have ever had the pleasure of spending time with.

Sanibel Island, Fort Myers, Florida has long been one of our favorite; bicycling, fishing, kayaking, beach combing, kite flying destinations.. We have spent many, many, days parked under the beautiful long-leaf pine trees that shade the waterfront. We have never attempted to “stay all night”, due to the signs posted all over the park “No Overnight Camping”. We decided that we weren’t going to be camping we were going to be “Fishing“. We set up a couple of rod-holders on the beach and settled in for the night…

When we arrived, we parked on the west side to take advantage of the shade and sunset…

east side causeway

We arrived early to some very low temperatures… We were the only ones on the beach.

The west side of the causeway is the best side to see the sunset and a nice view of the Gulf of Mexico. We brewed a pot of coffee and relaxed. Barney loved walking the beach and chasing the wading birds…

Lee County provides some very nice picnic tables and spotlessly clean rest rooms...

Lee County provides some very nice picnic tables and spotlessly clean rest rooms…

We all enjoy each others company and we took advantage of Ross’s visit to catch up on all the news that he had to share since his last Florida visit. Ross travels for a month in the winter and then another month in the spring. The stories he tells keep us laughing. We brought simple foods to keep meal prep to a minimum. Lots of healthy snack-food, and no heavy dinners.

Lucy wore her hoodie to ward of the chill of the strong sea-breeze...

Lucy wore her hoodie to ward of the chill of the strong sea-breeze…

We stayed on the west side of the span until the sunset was over. Packed up and drove to the east side to enjoy the full-moon rising over the water…

As the sunset ended we loaded up and headed to the east side of the causeway to watch the full-moon rise.

As the sunset ended we loaded up and headed to the east side of the causeway to watch the full-moon rise.

When we arrived on the other side Sanibel Lighthouse was flashing its cheery light through the gathering darkness… There is a museum and gift shop located at its base…

Sanibel Lighthouse welcomed us with its warm cheery glow.

Sanibel Lighthouse welcomed us with its warm cheery glow.

We had a marvelous night. We sat up visiting and sipping adult beverages until the wee hours and fell asleep with the balmy breeze rustling the curtains that covered our windows. It was truly magical waking up on the island. No traffic going by and no other people…

It was a perfect place to camp. No I meant "fish".

It was a perfect place to camp. No. I meant “fish”.

It just a few minutes the Kelly Kettle was boiling and we were enjoying steaming mugs of coffee brewed in our aero-Press. It was a glorious time to be alive. Total cost: ZERO

Just a few twigs picked up from under the gorgeous Long-Leaf Pines and the water was on-the-boil...

Just a few twigs picked up from under the gorgeous Long-Leaf Pines and the water was on-the-boil…

Maybe it is being with people you love. Maybe it is being on the beach with the smell of the salt water and the soothing sounds of the surf. All I know is our fresh ground, Aero-Press brewed coffee, always tastes better in the great outdoors…

I was up early and had the coffee makins on standby. As soon as I heard Lucy stirring I fired up the Kelly Kettle. Nothing beats coffee brewed in an Aero-Press...

I was up early and had the coffee makins on standby. As soon as I heard Lucy stirring I fired up the Kelly Kettle. Nothing beats coffee brewed in an Aero-Press…

I spent an enjoyable hour wade fishing, but had no luck. I did meet a few other long-time causeway fishermen who were putting a few Speckled Trout in their ice-chest. It just wasn’t my turn…

The fish just were not hungry for what I offered. That's why they call it "fishing" and not "catching"...

The fish just were not hungry for what I offered. That’s why they call it “fishing” and not “catching”…

… If we were camping it was wonderful. Fishing, not so much. I tried live-shrimp, assorted plugs and spinners and finally some Greenbacks that I caught in my cast-net. I never got bit, but I had a marvelous time…

Two men and a dog... Good times (Oh yes. Lucy was still fast asleep)

Two men and a dog… Good times (Oh yes. Lucy was still fast asleep)

Our overnight on Sanibel was another fantastic outing. I think the fact that we might have been awakened by a deputy and asked to leave, made it even more exciting. No one bothered us and we bothered no one else. Just a fabulous “Fishing Trip”…

 

Fruit Tree Rescue

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For everything there is a season…

Our lawnmower stopped running, for the third time, about two months ago. Yes, that is the time when the grass grows fastest in South Florida. I made a few half-hearted attempts to repair it and then just said “The heck with it.” It was too hot to mow anyway. Turned out that was not a good idea. Mower is now running, but the grass has become an almost impenetrable jungle. We also let the garden “go by”… as it is too hot to grow much of anything. We should have turned it over and mulched it heavily to discourage weed growth during the summer. Sometimes we have to “relearn” the hard way… It has been a real chore turning this weed-filled patch back into a viable growing plot…

Hot, sweaty, hard work, but Lucy did it with pleasure

Hot, sweaty, hard work, but Lucy did it with pleasure

This morning, while I was having my new patient orientation meeting with the Veterans Administration Clinic staff, Lucy got busy and grubbed out another ten feet of bed. Hot, dirty work and she loves it. In the morning, I will haul enough mulch from the front yard stockpile, to cover the entire area to a depth of ten inches. The thick wood-chip mulch will; foil weeds, cool the soil and help retain moisture. As it breaks down it will encourage the growth of organics in the sandy soil.

Just a little bit of work with the soil, pays huge rewards…

We already have baby okra making an appearance and the squash are blooming. A few hungry caterpillars have been removed by hand and sent to bug Heaven. The only control we use is a bit of Neem oil spray and organic soad for aphids. We don’t want to make our hard-working honeybees sick.

Healthy baby Okra. Yummy.

Healthy baby Okra. Yummy.

We have managed to actually get a few things planted and a bunch more ground cleared to plant…

Now we can easily access "Starclucks"

Now we can easily access “Starclucks”

Since the mower was still running I started “hacking out” the area around “STARCLUCKS” our hen house. Since Aimee and her daughters are living here at O.O.C. now, we will be buying a new flock of hens. Nothing beats fresh squeezed cackle-berries. The girls will be around to tend the flock while Lucy and I are traveling and vice versa…

I can’t stand to see plants suffer

DSCN0403

Time for a “Plant Rescue”

Tuesday, I had to pick up a few things from my local farm supply store (name omitted). I noticed, sitting out in the direct sun, a bunch of very nearly dead fruit trees. They were badly root bound and looked as if they hadn’t seen a watering can in a long, long, time. I grabbed one of the clerks and inquired “Are you just going to let all the trees die, or will you mark them down and let a customer try to save them?” She explained that she was powerless. Said the corporate office said “No markdown.” She went a step further and told me the store manager would be in the next morning. I went back, met with the manager and cut a deal to try to save seven of the trees. Two “Red Skin” peaches, one “Moorpark” apricot, two “Brown Turkey” figs and two “Golden Dorsett” apples. I am going to return on Monday and see if I can rescue the balance… I hate to see animals, people, or plants suffer.

We Triaged the trees and began treatment STAT…

Already starting to leaf out

Already starting to leaf out

After only three days in our plant ICU the Brown Turkey figs have begun to leaf-out and produce buds. It makes us so happy to see the improvement. Soon as they are deemed healthy enough to travel, they will be transported to a place of honor in our O.O.C. Orchard. Instead of being thrown into a land-fill they will be producing; shade, oxygen and delicious fruit for our family. I hope I can afford to bring the rest of them home to our fine plant rehab facility. A little love goes a long, long, way…

even the delicate Golden Dorsett apples have responded to our "CPR" (Careful Plant Revival)

even the delicate Golden Dorsett apples have responded to our “CPR” (Careful Plant Revival)

Every day Lucy and I thank GOD for our little piece of the earth. We feel very blessed to be caretakers. We also know we need to do a much better job…

Cheers, “Spokesman” Dave

 

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