Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Try Something New?

I'm not the most adventurous eater. We decided to try something different today. The lady at The Seafood Shoppe in St Augustine Beach recommended Trigger fish. (This place is terrific. They're always friendly, everything is spotless & their seafood is always fresh - usually caught that day.) The filet looked appealing. The whole fish - Yikes - one ugly bugger with a captal UG. We like seafood, better than the usual landlubber fare, but after seeing the whole fish displayed in ice, I had my doubts. We took a shot at it anyway, but bought some Mahi, just in case.

Riding home from the store we debated about what to have with the ugly, don't know how it will taste, fish & stopped at another store to get some fresh vegetables and Deb's 'Vitamin Water'. Deb is a fantastic cook. She can flat out make anything. There have been times where we have gone out to dinner, liked what was served & 2 weeks later she has duplicated it at home. Me, I can barely get by making grilled cheese.

The trick with fish is to have a side dish that is light, like the fish. Deb decided on a modified rice pilaf. Modified because she added red beans, fresh tomato, scallions, & seasonings - like cayenne pepper & garlic salt. The fish was baked, covered with a very light dose of grated Romano, garlic, topped with freshly sliced tomatoes & shaved hot chile peppers & some seasoning. Now this is where I would screw it up - I assumed dinner would take at least an hour or more to prepare. I'm not much use in the kitchen, though I do help out with the clean up regularly, so I moved out to the porch to resume my writing. (It's going well today.) After checking my email I was all set to return to my WIP when I was summoned to the kitchen. Everything was ready in 10 minutes! (How does she do that? It takes me that long to make a PBJ!)

Well, lemme tellya - it was awesome. The fish was perfect, nice texture & taste, pure white. The rice (not normally a favorite of mine) was another show stopper, just enough spice to give it an interesting bite. I'll admit it here - I'm spoiled.

They say that in the water a Trigger fish is quite beautiful. I find that hard to believe but, on my plate, it looked like the prettiest fish ever. Thanks Deb!

A Guy Type Email

A friend of mine emailed this to me today. Sick, but true, most of it, anyway. I can actually be off the phone in less than 30 seconds (unless it's my mom) & a 3 pack of underwear is now $11.95.

Deb will love this one.....

What do you expect from such simple creatures?

Your last name stays put. The garage is all yours. Wedding
plans take care of themselves. Chocolate is just
another snack. You can never be pregnant.
You can wear a white T-shirt toa water park. You
can wear NO shirt to a water park. Car mechanics tell
you the truth. The world is your urinal. You never have to drive
to another gas station restroom because this one is just too icky.
You don't have to stop and think of which way to
turn a nut on a bolt. Same work, more pay. Wrinkles add character.
Wedding dress $5000. Tux rental-$100. People
never stare at your chest when you're talking to them. New shoes
don't cut, blister, or mangle your feet. One mood
all the time. Phone conversations are over in 30 seconds flat.
You know stuff about tanks. A five-day vacation requires only one
suitcase. You can open all your own jars. You get extra credit for
the slightest act of thoughtfulness. If someone forgets to invite you,
he or she can still be your friend. Your underwear is $8.95 for a three-pack.
Three pairs of shoes are more than enough. You almost never have
strap problems in public. You are unable to see wrinkles in your clothes.
Everything on your face stays its original color. The same hairstyle lasts
for years, maybe decades.You only have to shave your face and neck.
You can play with toys all your life. One wallet and one pair of shoes--
one color for all seasons. You can wear shorts no matter how your legs
look. You can 'do' your nails with a pocket knife. You have freedom of
choice concerning growing a mustache. You can do Christmas shopping
for 25 relatives on December 24 in 25 minutes.


Becky Ramsey has a funny post about fool-proof child care on her blog 'Wonders Never Cease'. I had to laugh as it brought back to memory a story my mom told me many times. In all honesty, I don't think she should have shared it since she describes her own pretty weird 'attempted' method of child care, naturally involving me. (Being the oldest - I musta been the guinea pig.)

Me n' Deb stopped at 2 kids. (We quit while we were ahead some would say.) That was perfect for us & everything turned out great. They're grown up, on their own & doing well in the world. Whew!! Some folks are better able to deal with big families. My hat's off to 'em. It takes lots of work.

Anyone considering adding 'littluns' to the thriving nest - think it through carefully. Times have changed!!! Not that it would be a bad thing.... but.... just think about it - Dat's all I'm sayin'.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Keep This In Mind

Look at the picture closely - then read the caption. I'm not sure where I got this little tidbit, but it has to be one of my favorites.

It's been my experience that those trying to prove they've got it together (when they don't), usually blow it by opening their mouths.

It's always better to solve problems without trying to stand out. Low key is the way to go & it's more efficient. When you're running your mouth - you're not engaging your brain.

BEARley Motivated

It's been a almost 2 weeks since I sat down & really did any writing. Hopefully that will change tonight. Seems like there's always something else to do or I just procrastinate & never get going. This weekend - we enjoyed the beach on Saturday - it was a perfect day - & yesterday just chilled out at home.

I'm going to make a real effort this week to get motivated & build some momentum.

Sunday, April 27, 2008


Our grandkids (Jack & Isabel) live in Pennsylvania. Actually, our entire family lives in Pennsylvania. The little ones are growing up fast. Jack turns 5 in July & Belle will be 3 in less than a month. We're debating a trip north - but there's not that much to do up there. On top of that, our sons have their careers, so they can't just take time off because we're in town. That limits us to seeing our boys only on the weekend. It's a tough call - what to do. We miss the kids but it's an expensive trip that doesn't offer much bang for the buck. I guess we'll decide what to do soon. It's been a year since our last get together (down here). It would be more fun if they visited us. I'll suggest it today - maybe.

Friday, April 25, 2008

A Pissy Start To The Weekend

Never open emails from work after arriving home on Friday afternoons. Ever. There's no sense in it. I made that mistake today & ended up in a really pissy mood for about an hour or 2. Cost me the price of dinner at Amici's over on the island - a lame effort to get past my 'pissiness'. Then I was pissed that we spent so much $$$ on dinner. It was good but not $$$ THAT good. I did have fun teasin' Deb about eating poor defenseless calf meat (that would be Veal Marsala). She damn near got herself schnockered (maybe to escape my pissiness) - the beer was nice & cold & ... well, I better stop in case she reads this post.....

Me, I could pretty much do without meat altogether, prefering seafood or pasta over everything else. Despise green vegetables & I only like salad if it's cold & served on a chilled plate. There are some things that I'm just a pain in the ass about. Clean & neat, being organized, clean (again), my food, & uh ... my shoes.

I'm going out to get shoes this weekend. Deb WILL NOT go with me - she hates when I buy shoes. She says I'm too picky & whiney & it's the only time she sees me being totally indecisive & cranky. When I finally decide, after trying X # of pairs, I always complain after I get them home. The complaints usually subside after a couple of weeks - though I've been known to get rid of new shoes without ever wearin' them.

So for a quick wrap up heading to the weekend - I was pissy about a late day email, pissy that my salad wasn't cold, pissy that dinner was overpriced, & I can look forward to being pissy when I go get shoes. Oh well - guess it's male PMS.

(Does look like a nice beach weekend though....)

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Next On The Agenda

Rumor has it that I'm going to be taking care of an MRI job in the upcoming weeks. The building in the photo is one that I completed last spring. It's a medical/surgical center in Jacksonville. That's where the work will be done. It was a good job, made plenty of money, won awards, happy clients, etc., yadda yadda yadda.

The problem? We have to get the unit into the building. The magnet, by itself, weighs 192,000 lbs. It has to be placed inside a copper lined pit (We did the pit & lining a long time ago) & to do that, we have to remove a section of the outside of the building. Since this is an occupied building, there's no margin for error. The scheduling will be intense, everything removed, equipment installed & building buttoned up within 5 days. A rigging & logistics challenge.

The room where the equipment will be situated will be lined with shielding & then all of the finishes are completed to make everything look, well, like a finished facility. At least it's 30 miles closer to home & I already know everyone at the facility. Oh, almost forgot, there's a great coffee shop about a mile or so away. That's the biggest plus.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Eatin' Outta Her Hand

These pics are from our visit to Silver Springs.

I'm a lucky guy 'cause I'm best friends with my wife (Deb), & we've been happily married for a long time. As unusual as it may sound these days, we actually enjoy each other's company & get along great. Hint - Hint - we like to have conversations & we work hard at trying to spoil each other. (I'm spoiled rotten.) Like the giraffe above, she's got me eatin' outta her hand.

Deb's great with a camera. In my book, The Bad Latitude, the character 'Nan' seems to have the same traits & hobbies as Deb. Hmmmm.... even photography, especially pics of flowers & wildlife. Butterflies are another big thing for her - somehow she manages to get them to hold their pose.

If I can ever find the picture of the pygmy rattler that she caught, I'll post it on the blog. Deb wanted close ups. It was coiled up next to the front porch so she grabbed it, put it in an orange juice bottle, snapped the pics & then let it go. Didn't seem worried at all that it was poisonous.

Nah, guess that story's not as interesting as the one where she caught the small hammerhead shark by the tail down at our beach. It was swimming near shore, in knee deep water, right next to her leg. It didn't phase her. She reached down & plucked him outta the sea & click click click. Unfortunately, those pictures were lost when her computer crashed. What she'll do for pictures is crazy, but it's always pretty funny. That's important - 'cause we laugh a lot.

Guess I'll have to post the gator pics in the future..... TOO CLOSE!!!!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Debate Demeanor

A salesman for one of my suppliers, a great guy with whom I do a substantial amount of business, decided to go on a bit of a diatribe about politics.

As I'm prone to do, I let him go through his proclamations & opinions without interruption. (You learn more when you listen.) This lasted about 10 minutes or so. When I had 'my turn', I smiled & disagreed with him on every single point, providing very concise explanations for my positions - no preaching, no condescension, no 'attytood'. His face turned beet red, the vein in his neck was popping out, his teeth were clenched & his tone changed to almost a screech. He was furious, confused & lost for words. The dude was actually tongue tied. (In the world of debating, that's called a TKO in the first round.) It was funny as hell.

Needless to say he left in a quite a poor state of mind. Probably ran home to practice his 'speech' again in front of a mirror. Me, I didn't get upset at all. Calm, pleasant, totally under control. If I disagree with someone - that doesn't make either of us idiots - well, it certainly doesn't make me an idiot. Now I would get aggravated during a debate if it became a personal attack. If that happened, all bets would be off. My good nature has limits. I'm no less passionate about my political views than many others, probably more than most, but what the heck, I'm not going to have an aneurysm over it or turn into some meanspirited nutcase.

My beliefs are what they are but I still manage to respect the opinions of others. I pay attention to the issues & do more than my fair share of homework. There's no pied piper out there getting my vote because they look or sound good - let's see their track record & their plan - then I'll decide based on how my thinking meshes with theirs. In this country, we have the freedom to have & express our views & opinions. Some of us just happen to be right more often than others.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Today's Visit To Silver Springs

Spent the day at one of our favorite hang outs - Silver Springs. It's about a 90 minute drive from where we live. This is part of the Silver River & it is fed from a natural spring. 550+ million gallons of fresh 99% pure water is pressed through the limestone from the Florida aquifer 15,000 feet below each day. Some of the limestone gets forced through the holes onto the river bottom & when it picks up the sunlight, it's shiny like silver - hence the name. The picture of the fish is at one of the spring feeds, you can see the bottom in the shot, 88 feet below.

There are 3 groups of glass bottom boats, operated by the park, that travel through the Silver River & tributaries. Each ride takes about 30 minutes & the cost is covered in the admission price. (We have a season pass - about $100 total, unlimited visits.) During the rides you see gators, turtles, snakes, wild birds, cyprus swamps, & lots of fish. There is also some entertainment history to check out.

Because the water is absolutely perfectly clear, SS has been used as a set location for several movies including the Tarzan flicks of the 30's, The Creature From The Black Lagoon in the 50's, and the underwater battles in some of the early James Bond movies. On the small screen, the TV show Sea Hunt, & at least one episode of I Spy with Bill Cosby were made there. The list is longer but this will have to do.

Inside the remainder of the 365 acre park are animal exhibits, botanical gardens, quaint little shops & eateries. All of that will be covered in another post.

Overall, today couldn't have been better.

By the way - notice the turtle being leaned on by the young gator? He's hanging out in one of the swamps - looks like pea soup.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Oysters On The Back Porch

Mmmmm.... fresh oysters on the back porch. These suckers were in the water this morning & they were awesome this afternoon. Finally figured out how to add pictures, so today was productive (& relaxing).

Friday, April 18, 2008

"The Laffin' Gaff"

What a completely awesome day! I'm sitting on the back porch writing. It's sunny,80 degrees or so, nice breeze, Nubber the cat is in 'his' chair keeping me company, lizards & turtles putting on a show in the yard & on the patio. Deb took pics of lizards fighting - A productive & completely enjoyable day.

Yesterday someone wanted to know how I came up with the name of my boat - "The Laffin' Gaff". (Dang, I need to learn how to add pictures.) The name is written out on the hull in black & gold lettering, ending like hooks wherever possible. The truth is, the name is the result of me being a total wimp.

I should elaborate here - My tolerance for pain has been a source of annoyance for my wonderful wife. She is often amazed how unaffected I am by certain injuries or calamities. Last summer she couldn't figure out how I could have surgery & then move about like nothing ever happened only a few hours later. I'll admit, part of that was an act to make her feel better, but I do have a ridiculously high tolerance - unless it involves a dentist.

My teeth, thankfully, are in great shape. Nice n' straight n' healthy. If, however, you really want to see me sweat, shake & act like a real sissy, put me in a dentist's chair. Just movin' around in my mouth with one of those mirror things will make me squeal like a little kid & I just about rip the arms off the chair (only knowing that I'll have to pay for chair repairs keeps me from doing it - I think). I actually have to have nitrous just to get my teeth cleaned. Laffing Gas is another name for it.

My boat was delivered a few days following a 'dental ordeal'. Since I love to laugh & joke around, & since a gaff hook is a common item to carry on a boat, & since fish have fins &, with the 'dental ordeal' still fresh in my mind - "The Laffin' Gaff" was born.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Warnings Ignored

Times aren't what they were in the construction biz. Slow starts, careful money, tight bids. It doesn't seem to phase some people. My company let a guy go yesterday, after some crazy hand wringing that went on for several weeks. I appreciate the fact that they don't take a decision like this lightly, it is someone's livelihood, but, it should have been done long ago. It was completely justified. That's just a sad fact.

This guy was given warning after warning about his lack of effort. He was warned repeatedly about being uncooperative & argumentative & about not following even simple instruction. I warned him myself many times - sometimes nicely - sometimes not. Didn't matter - he wouldn't change, wouldn't even try. The weird part is, it was an incredibly easy job. No pressure, no decisions, no working weekends or extra hours without extra pay. (I'm salaried - 40hrs or 80 it's always the same.)

The sad part is, he's not a youngster & it's going to be tough for him to get a new job that pays what he was paid, including full medical, vision & dental benefits, sick time, 401k, vacation & bonus. He had it made & HE blew it.

I feel bad about it. Feel bad for his family. If he had just tried, even a meager effort, the company would probably have carried him along through this slow period.

Now it's probably a matter of time until we hear there is some claim being made against us that he was let go without just cause. Guys like that - it's always someone else's fault & everyone owes them something. Some are determined to be victims of their own stupidity.

I hope he lands on his feet quickly & learns something from it all.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Vacation Accomplished

I need to get back to work so I can rest. The sod is down, muy perfecto. I finished about two thirds of my list of things to do & stuff I hadn't planned to do - like replacing bad irrigation heads (what a pain in the butt they were), planted flowers out the wazoo, powerwashed the brick patio out back, etc. The weather is going to be crappy late Saturday & all day Sunday. Tomorrow I have to dress up the mulch beds, plant a new grapefruit tree, scrub the soffits, clean the Durango & my truck & maybe the boat - hopefully all done by early afternoon. I won't get to paint the porch columns, maybe next weekend. No big deal - they look fine, but it's better to paint while everything looks fine than to wait 'til stuff 'needs' paint. We're too picky.

We never made it to the gulf coast as planned, but we did get a great day on the beach Wednesday. We went to Jacksonville today & bought a new chair for the living room. Being the dutiful husband that I am, I waited patiently in the mall parking lot with the sunroof open (& read) while Deb bought out Bath & Body - or whatever it's called. That was followed up by a visit to my favorite SeaSide stop, The South Beach Grill for a fantastic 'lunch' of pecan encrusted Mahi with a strawberry-mango-orange topping over a bed of rice (& a few cocktails). No oysters today - bummer.

My YA manuscript is ready to go. Amazon just announced last week that they will eliminate the 'buy' button for books not produced through BookSurge. I'm waiting to find out what's going to happen before forwarding my MS. I've decided that I don't want Amazon to make a dime from my work, so I need to see how this shakes out with the folks that I plan to use for publishing. If they cave in, I'm going elsewhere.

On another note (this is a windy post) - I usually write best in the wee hours of the morning. The other night I was set up on the back porch (me n' the cat). The porch is screened in, the chairs are comfortable & we have a large glass table, so I can spread out. Our property backs up to a nature preserve. Lots of critters roam through the palmettos & the haunted looking live oaks (& my back yard sometimes) & can sound pretty scary. Nubber (the cat) gets freaked out, for as long as he can stay awake anyway - usually no more than ninety seconds. So I started banging out a brand new story around 10PM. At 4AM I knocked off & started reading it. I couldn't believe it, the word count thingy said I had put down just under 9,000 words! It's a first draft but it just flowed. Tonight I'll pick up where I left off & see what happens. I don't work off of outlines, so I have no clue where this one is headed.

It's almost 11PM now - Time to make coffee.