Finds in the Garage

Yesterday while cleaning the garage I found Gigi clutching several keepsakes and weeping.

One was a little ceramic clock my father made her. I was surprised at the detail of work. Patience was not a virtue of my father but he managed nevertheless to show patience in his ceramic work.

My dad did ceramic work in the last 5 years of his life when he was very ill with a failing heart. He found that someone who was fantastic at his work and suddenly tossed into disabling retirement difficult. Doing work with his hands helped him feel productive.

I found my father’s golf clubs too. They look like museum pieces compared to clubs of today. The woods were actually made of wood, and the golf balls were hard and brittle. The tees and canvas bag looked so old fashioned. Honestly they all looked like the stock picture I have on the right column of this blog.

I was going to toss them and Gigi talked me out of it.

The clubs are probably 40 plus years old.

We found a marriage certificate from a couple who had long since divorced and remarried. I think Gigi was going to frame the picture but never got around to it.

Who knows what else is in there. I’ll soon find out.

Game Day Plans

Today we play Tampa Bay at home at 4 PM. Any game other than a 1 PM game throws me off a bit.

We decided to watch the 1 o’clock game at the club on the 60 inch plasma TV and eat lunch there. Then around 2:30 we’ll head downtown for the ceremonial 24 ounce good luck beer and go to the game. I switched to Bud from Blue Ribbon this week in an effort to change our luck. We are a superstitious crowd. I may even institute the “Blowing of the conch” for good luck.

I still fondly recall week one of the NFL season when I was in St Croix watching the game at Styx on the waterfront. Styx always has the coldest beer and the most characters of any bar on the boardwalk. The bartender is rude, the patrons are weird, but for some reason I like the place. The place is a dark hole in the wall and the football fans are diehards.

Like most places on the island you are just a glance in one direction to breathtaking beauty…and it ain’t the women at this place. The water view wins hands down at Styx.

I wish I was there today watching the game with that surly bunch.

Its Still Warm Enough for Trouser Legs

I prefer songs to have a beginning and an end. I don’t like songs that fade like they are going to play forever. I love the way Rough Justice by The Rolling Stones starts, but the darn song fades at the end.

What the hell is “shirt sleeves?” It is short sleeves and long sleeves. Do you call shorts, trouser legs? No!

I can eat Kraft grated parmesan cheese right out of the shaker. It is so good!

I really like the long shadows of the fall. I played 9 holes of golf by myself on Friday. The leaves and shadows add to the difficulty and beauty of the game. The shadows though are plain artistic.

I was working with a guy last week and his breath would damn near buckle my knees every time, day after day. Ty came running to me one day for some gum because he thought maybe it was his own breath blowing back on him. I assured him it was the other guy.

Why is it that when women on TV get a beauty makeover, they always wave their arms in the air and shake their hips? Why can they just walk out and show us how they look like a regular person? They don’t look good enough to wave their arms around, only better.

The Secrets of Reggie Tut’s Tomb or Cleaning out the Garage

Scene one opens with dirty, sweaty Reggie holding a radish in his fist and shaking it angrily toward the sky.

“As God as my witness, I shall clean out this garage!”

Dramatic orchestra music plays…

Today is the day I started taking back control of my garage. Folks, you have no idea how messy and how much junk is in this 24 by 24 foot area.

I am ashamed, but here is the picture. This is 19 years of accumulated crap.

There is no way that his is a weekend job. It will take be months to clean, dispose, keep, and classify the junk that I want to keep, and the junk that is junk.

I want to keep my camping stuff. I have summer stuff and winter stuff for camping.

Closely related is tailgate stuff. But how many flags, coolers and grills do I really need? Jeremy…need a used Weber Little Smokey? I have two!

Then there is Christmas stuff. It needs to be sorted and packed.

Yard tools will be hung neatly and so will the bikes.

Right now I am taking back the room piece by piece, 10 by 10 foot squares until it is done.

Now I have the dumpster full and ready for Wednesday pickup along with two rusty shelves, a floor lamp, a roll of dirty carpet, a nasty basket and other odds and ends.

Wish me luck.

Starbucks

I like coffee just fine. I don’t go a morning without it. A cup or two will do and only rarely do I drink coffee at any other time.

When I was younger I drank coffee all day. Now I seem to have more energy as I have aged and do not need the boost that coffee gives me.

At best, I like plain old simple, breakfast blend, missionary style, straight up coffee. A bag or can of Maxwell House will do just fine.

Throw some French Roast on me and I may spew it out.

So it is with open honesty that I must confess that I do not get the Starbucks coffee craze or all the other coffee shops that abound. Most of the coffees I’ve tasted in Starbucks in a quest to be hip and cool taste like acidic magma.

Plus the cakes and muffins they serve would serve a family. I won’t even guess the caloric value of each item.

So now you see my lack of appeal. Let’s go get a cup of acidic slurry, and have a lard ass cake to go with it and call that fun.

Well…I off to the plant for one last day. This regular working schedule is killing me.

Shakin' That Bush Boss

Here I sit at 5 AM with 3 dogs and a cat panting at my side steaming me up with dog breath. The cat doesn’t actually steam much, and Peaches is still asleep in case you were wondering where the 4th one was.

They just know I am headed to the airport to catch an early flight when in reality their “Daddy” is headed to another trade show at a local Freightliner production facility.

This is the first time I have participated in a trade show. I stood on my feet all day yesterday in a tent, on a parking lot in 91 degree heat, talking about what I do to production employees.

I couldn’t help but think about how much their life at Freightliner was like elementary school as compared to how much freedom I have in my job.

They come in a fenced, secured facility and belong to the company for the next 8 1/2 hours. Every movement is scrutinized and they can’t even go to the bathroom until it is time to go to the bathroom. It reminds me of the movie Cool Hand Luke, “Shakin’ that bush boss!”

I take for granted that I can say, “Screw it!” and take off an afternoon to play golf. Or say what the heck, I’m going to the islands the last week of next month.

I have responsibilities to meet, but they are based on results and not time and motion like my production friends that I met yesterday.

Freedom to work when I am at my best is a great gift and I thrive on it. My hat is off to those folks who do what they do like I saw yesterday and they don’t go completely postal. I see why so many people hate their jobs now.

Rum and Bitch Slapping

I’ve been trying to buy a few things on Ebay lately.

What I simply wanted to do was collect a few Cruzan Rum items for the home bar, even though I really don’t have a home bar. Cruzan Rum is made in St Croix and having a few items around makes me smile when I see or use them.

Cruzan Rum is also the sponsor of the Kenny Chesney concert tour so I am apparently bidding against hordes of screaming females that want the items worse than I do.

First I won some Cruzan Rum muddles. You use a muddle to crush stuff in a glass for an Old Fashion or Mojito.

Then it got quite ugly with the bar mat but I won that too.

Next I was involved in a bitch slapping contest for a beach umbrella. It was a nice one too. I thought it would be nice in the RV to use down at Jekyll Island. I walked away at $101. Same for a bar caddy. I walked away at $51.

Maybe I should just buy the stuff the next time I am down in St Croix instead of Ebay.

Craig's List

I am addicted to Craig’s list. I have three categories set up in my RSS reader.

The first is Auto Parts. I am looking for any cheap Jeep stuff for my Jeep. I have found several things and bought them for my Jeep.

The second is Farm and Garden. I’m looking for anything cheap for the “ranch”. That is where I found the horse trailer and hay. Now the trailer sits in my driveway full of hay.

Lastly, I look at General stuff for sale. It’s mostly junk.

I do get excited when I find a match like this morning. One guy had an engine hoist for sale that was brand new and he lived near the airport. That sounds nice if I were even the slightest bit mechanically inclined.

A few lines later a guy is looking for an engine hoist at a reasonable price.

Bingo! A match! I hope these fellows are as excited as I am. One guy get rid of a big piece of junk and pockets $200. The other fellow gets a shiny new hoist that I hope is reasonably priced in his mind.

Meanwhile my world is now balanced.

My Monday Morning Post on Sunday Night

We are in the worst drought in recent memory. I recall a similar drought in the late 1980’s. Back then I didn’t care much as long as I had water. I was on a city tap so rain didn’t matter.

Roll ahead 20 years and I have 3 hay burners and there is no hay to cut.

Currently I buy hay for $3 a bale. Suddenly hay is spiking to $10 a bale because it has to be trucked in from other areas of the country.

Today I took delivery of 80 bales from Buffalo, NY at $7 a bale. I may have 20 to 25 bales of the local stuff and hope this will last until next May when we normally have our spring cutting.

We met the tractor trailer about 10 PM and started to unload. I was the first to load my hay.

In other news…I can now buy Carib beer locally. I love that beer. I think they make it in Trinidad and I always get it when I go to the Virgin Islands. A little slice of lime and I am in heaven. I’m having one now before bed.

I just remembered this. Last week when I was checking in at the airport in St Croix, I saw a kid come up to his father with a big piece of sugar cane. The father took the cane and peeled it with his teeth by pulling long strips length wise. Eventually he got to the center, took a big bite and handed the peeled cane back to his son. They both smiled in approval.

Sunday Morning Feed Time

video

This is morning feed time with the horses and two of the herd dogs. Sassy the black horse shows you how a horse scratches her butt cheek on a tree.

Neon


I like neon signs. My eye is drawing to them immediately. Better yet, I love animated neon signs.

When I was a college student I worked at a pizza place that had an “Open” neon sign. I used to plug it in at 11:00 AM and would turn it off at midnight on Saturdays.

The apparatus looked very dangerous but the reward was a nice glowing red welcome to anyone who wanted a pizza.

Even broken neon signs are quaint to me. It’s okay to have a letter or two out. Maybe the sign unintentially flickers from age. That is okay to, it part of the beauty of neon.

Neon signs used to be hand blown and completely custom. I doubt the do it that way anymore.

French mime Marcel Marceau dies

I thought this was a spoof when I read this headline on Yahoo News this morning. What could be more irritating than a French mime?

Sorry Marcel, you gave me my first laugh of the day.

Cane Bay Sea Horse

Hmmm…I’ve seen this before, now where was it? It’s has me puzzled.

Now I remember. Go down to Cane Bay, straight out from the boat ramp to the first buoy. Dive straight down and ride the pony.

Let There Be Music!

Yesterday Ty and I head to the golf course in our Jeeps, tops down and it starts raining. It hasn’t rained here in months and it wasn’t called for yesterday either. It was a light rain and it felt good.

After some reading and consultation the previous day, I rushed home full of good ideas about how to get my conch shell working. By the way, I ran out of gas for the second time in the Jeep, this time coming up my driveway.

I resumed work on my conch by taking a strong pair of needle nosed pliers and breaking the little swirl thing in the middle where I had sawed the hole. Then I plunged a dremel grinding bit in the mouth area and magically I started forming the perfect mouthpiece. (Thanks Mark for the suggestion)

In ten minutes I had a conch horn capable of several different sounds depending on air pressure.

Now I need to patch the hole where the fisherman extracted the conch. Right now I am plugging the hold with my thumb to make it work. I think a little epoxy with some sand sprinkled on it for cosmetic effects should do the trick.

Then I may spar urethane the outside for a protective shiny look.

Okay, so anyone need a conch horn player for weddings, birthdays, bris, Bar Mitzvah or funerals with an island theme? I’m your man!

Plain Old Spaghetti and My Conch

Twice in the past two weeks I have eaten a good old plain spaghetti and meatballs at a restaurant and they tasted the same and exactly as I wanted. Once was in St Croix and again last night at the club. I ate the whole plate both times. Sometimes plain, simple, comfort food is the best.

I’m playing golf today. The weather is perfect for golf.

Sunday Gigi and I pick up our Yankee hay from New York. The hay is twice as expensive but the bales are twice as heavy so we are getting a good deal.

I called down to the island last night and talked to Peter. I was checking on Terry and didn’t want to bother Michael again. She is doing well after her surgery I hear. I know it is going to kill her not being so active in the coming weeks and months during her recovery.

I still haven’t finished boring a hole in my conch shell so I can blow it. The darn thing is harder than concrete. My arm is sore from sawing off the tip with a hack saw. The shell sure is beautiful.

3 More Things

Sometimes I wonder about myself.

I have had epilepsy for 30 years, and for 30 years I take medication the first thing in the morning and just before bed.

About 1/3 of the time I forget to take my meds and remember about 20 minutes after I leave the house.

Today I drove off and got about halfway to work when I realized that I forgot my meds yet again. So, back home I go.

I never understand that when I complain about a product or service the company wants to make it right by giving me more of the crap I just complained about.

I like it when a country has a neat name for the party in power like Khmer Rouge or The Taliban. We need to come up with some snappy new names for our government.

I'll Be Nice

I am not going to complain about cold weather this year. I had a fantastic summer and that is the best I could do. Now I must pay this debt with winter, and have hopes for another nice season to come next year.

After a late Easter freeze we experienced a chamber of commerce type spring. This led to a mild June and July followed by a hot as hell and dry (I like it) August.

I got home yesterday to toss the Frisbee for Peaches and noticed the sun was plunging behind the trees at 6 PM. I though, damn, it’s all over and I must contend with winter soon.

Screw the crackling fires, hot chocolate, and sweaters. All that stuff is itchy and fleeting.

I have 136 days until I get my first taste of next summer, when we visit the big island during the Super Bowl.

For now summer of ‘07, I bid you adieu.

Peaceful Lunch

Today I headed out to lunch with my pals Don and Ty. Don is driving, I’m in the front seat and Ty is in the back seat.

Gigi called me and we chatted a few minutes.

Just as I hung up Ty lets out this panicked, blood curdling scream and says, “The hook is up my nose…help!”

I looked back and Ty is wrestling with nose and a small bungee cord is dangling from his face, his eyes watering.

I’m thinking WTF, what did I miss?

He had been playing and stretching a tiny bungee when he accidentally let loose of the end and the hook lodged up his nose.

I was dying laughing, Don was about to drive off the road and Ty was looking for something to catch blood.

I swear I don’t make this stuff up.

Mornin'

It’s hard to believe it’s been a year since I have been a “potato gun power”. I haven’t fired the gun since last October. I think I am going to buy some spuds and accelerate some produce this weekend. I meant to take that gun to Jekyll Island last summer but forgot.

I found out on my last trip to the island that I can blow a conch shell with the best of them. I get a big old lung full of air and let loose with this loud train horn effect. I bought a shell for myself but have not finished making the mouth hole. I can’t wait to blow it again.

This morning I will put on a jacket for the first time since last winter. I got cold riding in the Jeep last night coming home from a Monday Night Football gathering.

I’m going to write a complaint letter to American Airlines for that snotty little attendant that I couldn’t smack in the jaw. Hammer’s comment pushed me over the edge. I’m not sure he was French…maybe French Canadian, but he still needed a punch for being such a pain.

Crash and Burn

When I was checking in to leave the island I was informed that my flight had been canceled. Not to worry though, they would route me through San Juan, Miami, and then Charlotte. And by the way…I was about to miss my first flight because it left earlier than my now cancelled scheduled flight.

Now I’m not going to bitch too much here because we all have our own airline horror stories. We loaded up in an American Eagle commuter prop and commenced to sweat. We sweat and sweat and sweat. The flight attendant was a real smart ass French fellow that was on the verge of an ass whippin’ from me and my colleagues if that wasn’t a felony to whip a man’s ass that was federally protected. It seems it should only be a misdemeanor flail away at a smart ass flight attendant when you under duress.

Finally we got under way and landed in San Juan. I saw a sports bar so I thought I would check the college scores between flights. It seems they called this a sports bar to make it sound cool because there were no TV’s. It was just a bar with everyone screaming Spanish.

I loaded and flew to Miami, then Miami Charlotte and landed at 11:45 PM. This is way past my normal bed time and Gigi was there to pick me up so I was in a hurry to get home and go to bed.

I waited, and waited, but no luggage appeared. So it’s 12:25 AM and I am in line with everyone who boarded in St Croix looking for their luggage.

I hit the bed at 1:30 AM to wake up a few hours later to go to the NFL game.

We start tailgating around 9 AM and then watch the game in the hot sun where we got our butts beat by a better team.

By 7:30 Gigi and I could barely keep our eyes open and we both went to bed.

Oh what a difference a good night’s sleep makes. Now off to work.

Fly having his breakfast in the morning.

New Things I learned About St Croix and Related Stuff

When customs asked me where I stayed in the island, I told them I stayed with a friend. He asked who and I told him Peter. He stamped my passport and sent me on. Apparently everyone knows Peter.

There is nothing like watching Sunday NFL football on the island. Individuals gather at a waterfront bars wearing their team colors. There was even an old Jets fan in the corner. You have to admire Jets fans. The bartender then switches the single TV from NFC to AFC channels. You hear an occasional scream when your team’s score is flashed on the screen and they are winning.

Fredricksted is a beautiful town on the west end and is well worth a visit. The beaches are pristine, the town is quaint, and there are some neat places to visit. Plus, you get to ride through the rainforest to get there.

You can get cock flavored soup on the island. Actually I think this package came from Tortola. I wasn’t about to try it.

I am glad to know that can snorkel hours on end even at my age. Heck, I was so comfortable snorkeling in the warm waters of Fredricksted that I could have fallen asleep.

I visited several new beaches while I was there. Each beach is like being in a different resort. I can highly recommend great beaches and snorkeling if you ever go there. All have a restaurant nearby where you can get a meal and drink.

A power failure island wide brings about community. All the restaurants and bars light up the candles and lanterns and go about their business as best as possible. People act exceptionally nice groping in the dark. Michael was so kind to bring us candles and water. You hear the drone of generators running in the distance.

You get used to having a light sheen of sweat. This is nature’s way of cooling you and it works well. Anyone you hug is a little sticky but so are you. A slight breeze feels so refreshing.

Cruzan rum is fantastic rum. It is made on the island and it is cheaper than water. A liter of dark Cruzan rum costs $4.49 at Kmart. I brought two liters home. It tastes good with anything but plain old Coke is a good mixer too.

I love accents. I was talking to Michael this morning and said something to him about baking powder. He heard “bacon powder” and was intrigued. Everything is good with bacon and he wanted some of this bacon powder. I heard a woman down here from South Carolina order a glass a warder. I knew she wanted water.

September is the most off of off seasons there is in St. Croix. It is very quiet. You can go to a beach and have the whole place to yourself. We went to Buck Island and saw two other couples the whole day. Off season means low prices for hotels and travel. The only negative is local seafood is not featured as much in the off season.

Fly is a very cool cat. He eats his breakfast overlooking a ten million dollar view everyday. He is a happy cat too. I took care of fly while I was there.



Please keep Terry and Michael in your prayers. Terry is having surgery on Tuesday, so she will need to recover, and he will need to nurse her to health.

There is a real sense of community in St Croix, at least in my circle of friends. People take care of each other and check up on each other. These people become a large extended family.

I cannot stand to be away from Gigi for more than a few days. This seems to be more so the longer we are married.

Wheels Up

I just put Gigi on the plane for Charlotte. Mine leaves 4 hours later.

This morning we had breakfast with Terry and Michael at the Golden Rail Café at the marina.

Terry and Michael are wonderful hosts and I am forever in their debt for their time spent with me this week. This week was filled with new experiences and new friends.

I decided to stop by the Deep End for a final blog entry and a final Carib Lager before my departure.

I will have some new observations to note later.

For now…back to the grind and a home NFL game against Houston tomorrow.

Thank you too for use of your home Peter. Good luck on The Pickled Greek.

I Love This Place

Gigi flew in last night and I was very happy to see her. Terry and Michael joined us at the airport in welcoming her.

Gigi and I parted ways to head to Peters villa because I knew she would be tired. We foolishly decided to stop by the Deep End Bar, where Peter works to say hello to Peter. Gigi had some of two different rum drinks while we played a dice game with the patrons.

Meanwhile…there was an unrefrigerated burger and fries waiting for her to eat when we eventually got home. (Low dangerous Jaws music playing)

When we got home Gigi took a few bites on the burger before we went to bed.

By morning she was very sick. At first I thought she may have a hangover since she normally doesn’t drink at all. She only had maybe a drink and a half so we started thinking it was food poisoning. At any rate we had to control her vomiting or she would dehydrate.

I went the pharmacy and they were able to help us transfer a script from the states that got everything under control. She spent most of the day getting better.

Later in the day I bought her some third world looking crackers and some chicken noodle soup. They were some strange ass crackers with the catchy name of Export Sodas out of Puerto Rico. I made her drink Pedialyte which she cursed as thick water.

Meanwhile I headed to Cane Bay for a quick afternoon snorkel. Cane Bay is a fantastic place. A picture of Cane Bay is what you see at the top of my blog.

I caught up with Michael and Terry with a snorkel already in progress.

A one point Terry popped up and yelled, “Sea horse!”

Michael dove to the ocean floor where someone had augured down a carrousel horse. He jump on and pretended to be on a bucking rodeo horse. I can’t wait to do the same to my brother in law next February.

Then we ventured to the wall. At Cane bay you can be a few hundred yards off shore and the floor plunges to a dark blue abyss. This is called the wall and it attracts divers from all over the world.

I would never, ever go a few hundred yards offshore back home. The currents are too strong there and the water is murky.

Here the water is clear and there is virtually no current. It is ideal for long swims.

It is wonderful how the weather here stays virtually the same year round. Today it was in the upper 80’s and breezy with humidity. In February it will be in the mid to lower 80’s and windy with less humidity.

I have enjoyed spending one on one time with Terry and Michael. They are genuine and generous people.

I especially like to hear the inside scoop on the island happenings. This is a small place with a small population so everyone knows somebody you know. I can point out most anyone and they say, “Oh that is so and so.” Then there is a little storey behind it.

I love this place.

Tuesday

It was a different kind of day. Tuesday was my designated day off so Terry and Michael could work, and I could rest. Tonight Gigi is flying in and will join the fun. She is feeling better and we both miss each other very much.

Last night I discovered that I didn’t have any shorts other than the ones I wore. I had to borrow a pair of Peter’s to get by for the evening.

This morning I foraged for food at the Golden Rail. The food was fast and the service was excellent.

Next I headed into town to pick up some shorts. It’s always great to have a spare.

Next I called Ali and Zig. They were laughing at me from the live harbor cam in Christiansted.

I headed back to the villa and I got a call from Gigi and she was crying her eyes out. She had missed the plane and rebooked for a later arrival.

I decided to post my blog at the hotspot at the Deep End bar. Being a good guest I ordered a Corona. After all it was 11:30 and I had the day before me. I leisurely checked blogs and email.

By now it was lunch time and I headed to Christiansted Brew Pub. I enjoyed a fine Caesar salad and a cold Miller Lite. Then I thought to myself, “Self, lets just pop in on several establishments this afternoon just to see if they are keeping their beverages at optimal temperatures. I’ve got time to kill and you can’t beat this weather and the views.

I headed toward Cane Bay and dropped in a tiny beach bar across from Full Moon Beach Bar. In the open air bar were local blacks talking away about affairs of the day. I joined in when I could understand the Cruzan and we all laughed and joked. The view was fantastic but the beer could have been colder.

Before you start worrying, this trip involved many hours and I sipped my beer being careful not to get buzzed.

Next was Off The Wall. I walked in on an argument between a vendor and the bartender. It all got worked out and I enjoyed a Miller Lite.

The coldest beer was at the brew pub. I had the most fun at the unnamed beach bar talking to the locals.

Now it is 5 PM and I’m going to get cleaned up to meet my sweetie at 8:45.

Oh, and meanwhile my cell phone keypad is not working so I can make an outgoing call as long as it doesn’t contain a 6 or 8….sometimes. I called AT&T and they said they would FedEx a new one. The problem is I don’t know the address. I’m staying at Peter’s place and that is not good enough for FedEx.

Peter said that they can’t find him and suggested we send it to the hotel where he works.

Monday

It’s Monday and I feel like I have been here for weeks. I have been here about 36 hours.

Gigi is coming in Tuesday night and I can’t wait. I miss her very much.

Terry and Michael called and asked that I meet them at Cheney bay to accompany them on their turtle walk. I didn’t exactly know what that was but it sounded fun.

Basically we walked along the shore looking for evidence of turtle nesting. We found a place where a turtle came ashore as evidenced by a large gouge on the sandy wall of the beach. A few feet further was a large impression in the sand where a turtle had laid her eggs. Michael and Terry starting recording the next by taking gps readings, measuring from known coordinates and then marked the nest. There were quite a few nests on this beach.

Afterwards we ate breakfast overlooking the indescribable beauty of the bay there.

So the afternoon we planned to snorkel Buck Island. You need a boat to get there and they own a boat up to the task.

Her name is Origami. It a portable boat made of some kind of foldable composite with a 5 HP motor attacked. This is not what most people would use to venture to another island in the peak of hurricane season.

After we got loaded and situated the capable Captain Michael and his First Mate Terry safely delivered me to the back side of Buck Island.

We tied off at one of the mooring spots and had a ceremonial rum and beer before we departed into the ocean.

We plunged overboard and were immediately delivered into a fantastic underworld. I was greeted by a good size grouper. A grouper is a beautiful fish and looks exactly like a fish should. A picture of a grouper should be the standard for all fish to aspire.

Next we saw large schools of squid and beautiful big thick clouds of blue fish swimming in large schools. We followed a sea turtle for quite a while. The saw an occasional barracuda and many hard working parrot fish as we swam against the current.

Finally we found a cut through the reef that let us enter the other side to the deep blue sea. The view was both breathtaking and frightening. The water was very deep and very clear. We swam along the reef for a while then Terry and I decided to head for safer and more familiar waters.

Michael stayed back and located a large nurse shark. We all went over to see a shark that I would guess was as large as a man sleeping on the bottom. Okay…now I have seen one and I was ready to look at friendly fish again.

Finally we worked our way back and boarded the boat. That grouper I saw at first was still below the boat a few hours later. I was fully exhausted but the day was not over.

We went over to the deserted beach and ate lunch with a ceremonial rum drink and lunch. (I am only trying to do as the natives do, drinking all this rum. I didn’t want to insult them you know).

Then we walked along the shore and saw 5 good size sharks feeding just offshore maybe 10 feet away in a foot of water. They were barely submerged.

We went away from the sharks and snorkeled some more. I followed a large flounder and swam in some school of fish.

By the time we loaded and arrived on St Croix my body was exhausted and I literally fell out of the boat trying to step out. I landed flat on my back in 6 inches of water and the ever cautious Michael screamed, “Man overboard!”

I felt like I had barnacles on my toenails, krill in my teeth, and my skin was dry and leathery from the salt and sun. Man that was fun.

I slept deeply last night.

Now This Is Living

Last night was a total whirlwind. Terry, Michael and Peter picked me up from the airport, poured me a rum drink at the airport, and the party started.

We all ate a wonderful supper at Kaleidoscopes and Peter and I continue to have a few after dinner cordials at Cheeseburger before we turned in. Actually, Peter was a bit over served and I had quite enough.

I spent this early morning down in Christiansted hunting for a cup of coffee. I wandered over to the webcam and found my buddy sitting there watching the sun come up.

He is a back fellow, a street person. I have seen him many times while I am watching the sun come up over the harbor. I didn’t say anything to him and he didn’t acknowledge me. I felt like I knew him though.

I then met Terry and Michael for a leisurely brunch at the Deep End bar.

We proceeded to snorkel just in front of the bar and hotel. The water was slightly murky but got clearer as we moved west.

Terry and Michael have a very keen and trained eye spotting wildlife under water. We followed a turtle for a while and saw fantastic schools of fish. There were a few lone fish as well that came by.

Later in the day I headed to a town bar to watch football. Everyone sat around a lone TV as we watched the Packers and Eagles and looked for our hometown team on the sports ticker. My Panthers won.

By late afternoon we headed to the Pickled Greek for a party in my honor. I must say that I am overwhelmed with my friends hospitality and generosity. Thank you all. You are too kind.

There were too many side stories to tell. Needless to say I had a blast.

Oh one thing; this couple brought in this gigantic, grotesque cancerous looking vegetative growth thing about the size of a whole turkey. It is called jack fruit. They started slicing it and offered the pulpy yellow fruit for us to try. It tasted similar to a pineapple but nit as juicy with an overtone of bubblegum. It was very sweet and sticky. Peter dribbled some cherry juice and sprinkled rum over it and the fruit tasted even better. Surprisingly a large portion of this ugly ass fruit was eaten over the evening.

I Got Mad...Real Mad

Normally, I’m a fairly laid back guy that is slow to anger.

This morning however, I passed go, and all of my usual safety checkpoints to achieve full throttle anger in less than 30 seconds. I could feel my face flush with red. All this anger was unleashed with a TSA agent at security screening.

It seems I had broken the law that was clearly posted on a sign about 20 yards away. My crime was that I had sun screen in a container that put my fellow passengers in peril.

[Sidebar] Damn this guy beside me smells like bacon.

Anyway, I guess I started stewing at curb side check in. Gigi dropped me off beside 4 sky caps that were cutting up and laughing. I thought what a jovial bunch and handed them my bag and paperwork.

They looked at me like I was some elderly fool and pointed to a line 30 yards away with three fuming people standing and staring at the happy sky caps. Okay, I go in the line that I didn’t see at first and wait. I have no problem with that. In fact I felt rather foolish to assume I was next.

I soon discovered why everyone was fuming. The 4 idiots continued telling jokes and cutting up for the next few minutes. Then suddenly as if they were cued, they all walked to the line and started checking us in.

Why did we have to wait for no reason? I guess it was a good joke.

In seconds I had my boarding pass and instructions to go to the security check point A. I usually go to B because it is bigger and faster.

I got to A with a belligerent line of passengers that were on the verge of lighting torches and pulling out pitch forks. The line was not moving at all and it was very long.

Then one of the bright sky caps came by and suggested we all go to B where there was no line at all. In unison everyone told him we were instructed to go to this check point. He said it didn’t matter and while the other unloaded their rage on him I scooted to check point B.

My carry on bag was pulled for inspection. The guy opened my bag and explained that I had a problem. He then dumped the contents of my toiletries on the counter. He further said I should know better because the sign clearly was posted at the check point that I was in violation of the rules.

“I packed in my bedroom and not at the sign”, I said. “How was I to know?”

The agent became miffed so I dissolved into a confused elderly man to get back at this asshole.
“Are all these things dangerous? Lets see, is this dangerous?” I asked.

“Sir, its not that it is dangerous, it has to be in a 3½ ounce container.”

“So I can keep it if I squirt out all but 3½ ounces?”

“No, you must have only 3½ ounce bottles and they must all fit in a quart bag.”

I looked at all of my stuff on the table. “Are these eye drops dangerous?”

“No you can keep those. They don’t count.”

“Was the notice about the eye drops on the sign back there?”

He is becoming as mad as I am and I’m feeling good about it. Meanwhile the line is stalling.

“Is this inhaler dangerous because I might need this? How about these razor blades, can I have them?”

“They don’t count either.”

Finally he gets frustrated and takes the two sun screen bottles.

“Are those dangerous to the other passengers?”

“No, you just can’t have them. They are more than 3½ ounces.”

By now I didn’t care if I got kicked out of the airport. This was starting to be fun for me and I was fueled by anger.

“Sir, just leave these three bottles and you are free to go.”

“Now everyone is safe?”

He didn’t say a word and I slowly packed.

It is fun to play the part of an old fool. I could get used to this.

Rum, Spices and Breadfruit, Oh my!

I am up early to begin my Far East journey to tame the savages and acquire gold, silver, spices, rum and breadfruit.

Actually, none of that is too far off. The crowd I run with down there is fun, I know I’ll get Gigi something pretty in gold or silver, and rum is a given along with fantastic and exotic foods. It just sounded more Magellan-like in the first sentence.

I started a tradition the last time I was there where I call Ali and Zig at work and we laugh at each other. I plan to do this again except I’ll be at the webcam on the harbor.

Today, I will zigzag through Miami and San Juan before arriving in St Croix. That means I will be bathed in Spanish for the first two landings before I get to the island where I never hear anything but English or Cruzan. I can hang with Cruzan better than Spanish especially when just listening.

Osmosis amoebas! See you there!

24 Hours

Tomorrow night this time I will be landing in St Croix, VI.

My dear bride has decided at the last minute to stay back.

Gigi has for many years had fibromyalgia which manifests itself in fatigue and pain. For the past week she has been very tired. Today she asked if it was okay if she stayed back and rested.

Fortunately she does better in familiar routines and surrounding. Frankly, flying 2,000 miles and changing planes thrice is tiring. It makes for a long day.

Fortunately again, I have friends on the island. Gigi has packed goodies for them all. She is a thoughtful and generous person.

I will be writing and posting from paradise next week. I will very much miss Gigi being with me.

This is Too Funny to Make Up

“Osama bin Laden appeared on a videotape for the first time in three years, telling Americans they should convert to Islam if they want the war in Iraq to end.”

Ah…no thanks. You mean, if join your hairy religion, and get all hairy myself, the war will end.

You kill me Osama…you are as funny as our politicians. Seriously, what did you have to say, I am a busy man.

Down To the Short Rows

Okay, we are down to the short rows. Does anyone know where that saying came from? I do!

All the dogs are suspicious now. I keep running around and cupping their fuzzy faces because I know I won’t see them in a few days. Half the reason we have an RV is we can take our dogs traveling.

After 8 weeks of being topless, the Jeep is sealed back to winter conditions. There is a tropical disturbance off the coast so I wanted to make sure the Jeep was tight in case of rain. I even threw a tarp on it secured with bungee cords. I swear that Jeep is the most fun toy I have ever had. It is worth every penny I paid.

This drought has made us face the reality that we have enough hay for the horses until maybe October. There will be no Fall cutting this year and the last Spring cutting was okay but not stellar in quantity.

I am trying to get some other small time hay folks together to get a truckload of Yankee hay from New York or the Midwest. My Southern horses won’t know the difference.

Well today I pack and prepare for the AM departure. Let’s see…got my new cool sunglasses, flip flops, shorts, shirts, haircut and I am ready.

Checking In

All is quiet on the warm waters of the Caribbean so our trip looks like a go so far. Hurricanes can work up in no time so I am not counting my chickens yet. That is a funny saying…”don’t count your chickens before they hatch”.

I am starting to see those “Baby on Board” caution signs on cars again. I hate theses things. I know it is their little miracle gift from God, but I am my parent’s miracle gift from God too. Have respect for everyone on the road.

I ran out of gas this morning in the Jeep as I was pulling into the gas station. Man, when the power goes, you feel helpless. Thankfully I had enough inertia to roll to the pump.

I like the word inertia; I don’t get to use it enough. I haven’t used the word inertia since I talked about that inertia nut cracker I bought last winter. That nutcracker is still under my chair in the living room waiting for the fall pecans.

The NFL season starts for real tonight and I can’t wait.

I just smiled at my assistant and cracked my fat upper lip. That’s cruel to smile and get punished.

Some ass put and empty salad container on my driver side seat yesterday. I had the top off.

'nuff Said?

I Can't Believe I Am Telling You This

What happens in Vegas doesn’t always stay in Vegas.

I few years back, Gigi and I were in Vegas. It had been a long day traveling. I was tired and didn’t feel fresh but didn’t have time for a shower, before a required dinner meeting.

I went to the sink and took a “marine” bath by running a wet cloth all over and brushed my teeth.

I then yelled out, “Honey, do we have any of those butt wipe things?”

“Yes, look in the shave kit.”

I took out what I though was one of those butt things but soon discovered otherwise.

I let out a horrific scream and went tearing around the hotel room naked. My butt was on fire.

“Oh honey,” Gigi said, “you used one of my alcohol swabs.”

I accomplish two things. I certainly was no longer tired, and I was at least clean.

Decisions

I really get miffed when I have thought long and hard about a decision, examined all the angles, weighed the pros and cons, slept on it, done the research, and finally conclude the decision with confidence, and someone completely disagrees with me with about 10 seconds of consideration.

I take it as more of an insult that they realize.

Recently I restructured how my phone system works at work. I could have attacked this a number of ways, either through equipment, and or software. My goal was cost savings and efficiency. I had many hurdles to overcome and ideas to think through.

What I ended up doing after months of research and consideration was drop the traditional land lines and go with Internet based incoming and outgoing Voice over IP. I saved about 75% over what I was doing with Land lines and increased the efficiency of what I was trying to accomplish.

I built the system myself using off the shelf products like Vonage, Onebox, and scanners.

I made sure that I built in safety backups into the system.

Anytime I discussed this idea with others, they would tell me I was crazy, or this wouldn’t work, like I was an idiot for even trying to do what I proposed.

I tested my new system along side of the old system for two and a half months. On September 1, I switched over to my homemade business system and I have accomplished more than I set out to do.

My costs are in line with what I thought and now all my voice, fax and voicemail are handled exactly as I tell it, they are delivered anywhere I want them delivered. I choose email so I can be a virtual office at any location.

Each person can tweak their on preferences.

The system has worked flawlessly.

I could literally hire anyone now from anywhere in North America, and plug them in as easy as I could if they were in the office beside me.

This opens my opportunity for part time help.

This 'n That

I still wake up in the night and pinch myself. Did my Alma Mata, Appalachian State University really beat Michigan in football in the big house last Saturday?

The win last Saturday will become one of those defining events in my life.

Elsewhere I am searching for any storms that may disrupt my trip to St Croix next week.

SHOWER AND THUNDERSTORM ACTIVITY HAS INCREASED SLIGHTLY IN ASSOCIATION WITH A NON-TROPICAL AREA OF LOW PRESSURE LOCATED ROUGHLY 300 MILES EAST OF THE NORTHEAST FLORIDA COAST. THIS SYSTEM HAS THE POTENTIAL TO BECOME A TROPICAL OR SUBTROPICAL CYCLONE OVER THE NEXT COUPLE OF DAYS AS IT MOVES SLOWLY EASTWARD. ELSEWHERE...TROPICAL CYCLONE FORMATION IS NOT EXPECTED DURING THE NEXT 48 HOURS.

Everything looks okay so far. I have so many meteorological links I study every morning that I could fill in at the hurricane center. I promised Gigi that I would stir clear of any hurricanes. They can hit Honduras or Charleston; just stay clear of the USVI.

I am beginning to pack for St. Croix. I am taking as little as I have ever packed. I am assuming if I need to go to a funeral or wedding that island casual will be okay.

The weather here has really turned nice. It is clear and 90 each day with a lack of humidity.

We desperately need rain and lots of it. Our creek has run dry only for the second time since I lived here.

Creepy Stuff

We are at the beginning of our big old beefy spider season. I hate big spiders, but little ones don’t bother me near as much. I see these big spiders every morning when I head toward the barn.

Today I went in the well house to change the water filter. Gigi had been nagging me for some time to do this.

I traipsed across the yard to the well house and opened the door. I could hear camel back crickets jumping all over inside to get out of my sight.

The whole room was thick with spider, webs which I waved off with a broom.

I struggled with the filter making sure everything fit. I turned around and walked toward the door when I saw a large black snake was looking in the door at me.

My momentum would allow me to stop in time and his reaction was, “Oh shit, bubba’s going to step on me!”

I stepped over him and let out a very loud man scream in fright.

Several things went through my mind.

One, what a perfect storm of creepy stuff all at once.

Two, I hate snakes but tolerate black snakes because they are considered “good” snakes.

Three, what was with that man scream? It was embarrassing. I hope no one heard it. It was just a plain, loud, frightened, man scream. I did know I was capable of that.

Homogenized Condiments Please

Don’t you hate yellow mustard water?

How about red ketchup water?

Yesterday I grilled some burgers for lunch and shook the mustard good. I opened the top and shot a dried plug of mustard on my burger. This is worse than mustard water.

My Dad

My father died 25 years ago to the day. Every September 2, I silently mark his death by remembering him and thinking about what he would think of me now.

I was 26 when he died, he was only 61.

I was still a kid. I didn’t have any direction yet of what my career would be. I had been married for three years and had about as many jobs in the field of sales.

My father was a successful salesman and made a good living for his family. Little did he or we know that his life was at its end.

My father was a funny guy and like me he was subject to moods. He would head out Monday morning and come back all happy or sulky depending on his success that week. If only they had Prozac back then.

I marvel now at how he would have enjoyed and used cell phones, laptop computers, the internet, the weather channel (he loved weather and snow), and all of the fine dining establishments that have come to the south in the past 25 years.

He loved golf and I would give anything to play a round with him now. I used to caddy for him on Saturday morning but I never played golf while he was alive.

My father was a navy man in WWII and served in the Hawaiian Islands during the war as an airplane mechanic. We used to laugh about that because he was as mechanical as I am. We couldn’t fix a lawnmower, but somehow he did an excellent job and was promoted as far as an enlisted man could go.

My father was the number one sales man in his company for decades.

My father loved to laugh and he always gave me great advice.

But the biggest thing I remember and regret is I never verbally told him that I love him. We just didn’t do that back then. I don’t know why. How foolish was that? I guess I though he would be around and I would find the right moment to unabashedly say, “I love you Dad”.

I sure tell my mother and sisters now that I love them.

I love you Dad, and I miss you. Your memories play over in my mind like you were here yesterday.

App State 34 Michigan 32

I am so proud of my boys.


Appalachian State stunned No. 5 Michigan in Ann Arbor on a last-second field goal and then a blocked kick.

Converting the Savages

In exactly one week, I will begin the long and arduous trip to the island of St Croix to spend time with the savages there and hopefully convert them to my religion.

Think I could write this off as a mission trip?

Maybe I could adopt a highway there and say I needed to go and do my clean up next week.

Perhaps I could join the Coast Guard Auxiliary and say I need to go down and inspect a boat or something.

That reminds me. One thing I have always wanted to do is be on a boat at night way out at sea. I get a creepy feeling just thinking about it.

I was reminded of this desire last week when I watched Jaws.

The boat would need to make creaky sounds and other noises as it rocked in the water. It should have a little galley where me and a few select buddies could play cards, laugh and drink rum.

I imagine this night would be clear, warm, and the waters calm with the night full of stars. I can smell the water and the telltale smell of fish and maybe the leftovers of something greasy we cooked in the galley and maybe the smell of a kerosene lamp.

Hold on…I might hurl.

I really would like to do this, but I doubt I will ever get the chance.

Daylight Savings Time

Years ago when daylight savings time roles around, Gigi and I used to run around the house and change all the clocks the night before. Then we would giggle about what time it will be tomorrow this very time.

Now, we simply change the clock by the bed and get around to most of the other clocks in our own good time. This year we passed on two clocks entirely. There could be others in the guest room that I don’t know about.

One neglected clock is in the living room. I use it constantly to tell time. It’s just an hour off. I just look up and add an hour to get the correct time.

Another clock that didn’t make the cut was a clock on the deck. Not only is it an hour behind but it also is running 10 minutes slow. I have to stop and think for a second to calculate the real time. But you know, its good enough when I am timing a steak on the grill.

Why don’t we correct this you might ask? Well, Gigi and I haven’t discussed this, but for me, I am too lazy. Plus it is late in the season to go changing clocks around because before you know it I would have to be changing them back.

I Am Going to the Moon

I have decided to build a moon base by 2048. Everyone else is announcing their plans, the US, the Russians, the Chinese, so Reggie today, announces today that I too will build a moon base.

I have a few technical clichés to work through.

Oh my moon base will be a grand place. I will have lots of windows where you can look out at the vacuum of space and see dirt everywhere. It will be a lot like Phoenix except no air, water or other living things. Oh, that’s another thing I need to think about, air and water.

Oh screw it. Today I am announcing that I will abandon my plans to go to the moon by 2048. I decided I would be too old.