In the Path

Most everyone who comes to this blog knows I live in Central Florida. Orlando, to be precise.  Hurricane Irma is supposed to hit Florida head on, but hurricanes are unpredictable and nobody really knows for sure what is going to happen. Currently the hurricane is directly over Cuba.

In 2004, we sighed with relief when Charley went into the Gulf of Mexico. However, at Charlotte Harbor, Charley turned eastbound up the Peace River. My husband and his former souse were sitting in Orlando watching on the television as the eye of the hurricane moved over their investment home on the Peace River and leveled it. His boat ended up in his neighbor’s living room. Then, Charley headed north, and hit Orlando wide open.

Charley was small, fast and furious, cutting a path across the state before heading back into the Atlantic on the other side of the state. When it hit the Gulf, all of Central Florida had let down their guard. Tornadoes were spawned in Charley’s wake. So there was much devastation across the state.

In 2004, I had never experienced a hurricane. That night, I was off work and sitting on my front porch talking to my dad on the phone while watching the huge oak trees across the street kiss the ground in the torrential rains. My little apartment was on the ground floor of a two-story cinder block building on the NW side of town and I felt safe.

Little did I know that the SE side of town was ripped apart near the airport. I never lost power, so I had hot water and air-conditioning. But I was most fortunate, most were without power for nine days. Early the next morning I was called into work.

As an RN I was considered first responder during Charley and our employers made nurses stay at work 24/7….could not even go home to shower and had to sleep in patients rooms on the floor. I mean we chose that job…but that’s how it was. I lived five mins away and off the night of the hurricane, but was called into work that morning and had to show the police my “Disaster Preparedness Team” papers to be able to be on the interstate. I was in College Park and worked off Michigan. After 16 hours of work, they wanted me to sleep on the floor in a patient’s room because we received a huge amount of patients that had been evacuated from a facility in Lake Wales that had lost its roof. They let me go home for 8 hours, but I had to sign a paper agreeing to be back when I said I would….or risk termination.

We lost a lot of patients during that time. The Nursing Home was without power for nine days. The backup generator only supplied a few room’s outlets. The oxygen concentrators are electric, and once we ran out of O2 tanks, people started dying. We saved more than we lost, but people were literally dying in the hallways. A van of nurses came from Lake Wales to help take care of their patients every day. A couple of days after Charley went thru, the van was involved in a terrible accident in the torrential rain and two nurses were killed and one was paralyzed for life. I don’t think non-essential employees should be mandated to stay on their jobs during such a crises. But it’s crazy here and people can be fired for leaving a job at McDonald’s. Unless they live in a mandatory evacuation area, they are expected to stay.

Life is an adventure and then you die….seriously…we’ve been helping people board up homes and secure pets for those that need to leave. Some of our friends have relatives on the coast that can’t drive any distance (elderly people) so they are going to get them and bringing them to Orlando…I actually feel safer here in Central FL than anywhere else in FL at the moment.

In the aftermath of Charley all you could smell when you walked outside was Bar-B-Q. People were grilling meats that had thawed and was one big party from backyard to back yard…lol It was quite an experience. Free food everywhere….people helping cover rooftops with tarps. Chainsaw sounds were deafening.

But here is the real kicker: We just bought a house on Matlacha. The island is basically a sandbar between Pine Island and Cape Coral in the Gulf of Mexico, just behind Sanibel Island. Pine Island is a conservation island where no more development is allowed…no big condos, hotels or big box stores. Matlacha (pronounced Matt-la-shay) is that tiny red island.

The homes are three feet above sea level…the quaint bungalow we hope to retire to is on a lot that is built up by about 6 feet, and Irma’s storm surge is expected to be 6-10 feet. The Key Westy home is surrounded by coconut trees and sits on a deep water canal just a few yards from the channel that runs wide open to the Gulf. The home is waterfront with picturesque shuttered windows all around, opening views to the dock and the bay. Sanibel and the barrier Islands offer some shelter, but you just never know about these things.

So there is that. Sure hoping the 1964 house will still be standing when all is done, and the island property is not on the bottom of the bay. It’s been there for more than fifty years, so all we can do is hope it can at least last another fifty years.

 

At any rate, we have a generator for powering our a/c and fridge here in Orlando in case we lose power, and the family is gathering at our place to weather whatever part of the storm hits us here in Orlando Sunday night. There is still a sliver of hope that Irma will continue westward, but all hope of it turning north and heading up the eastern seaboard is gone at this point. It is currently bearing down on Cuba and when it hits the mountains it should weaken. The FL Keys are just starting to get hit with the outer bands, and they are warning them for Cat 3 with 105-125 winds with gusts to 145, and it’s not looking good for Matlacha. However, the house was built in 1964, has weathered many a storm, and we can hope to weather another half century.

Battening down the hatches and riding out the storm!

Leaving the World Behind

Nothing is more satisfying than getting away from the rush and crush that is city and deadlines. Most of my deadlines are self-imposed, but the pressure is heavy just the same. My best inspiration comes from getting out into the spaces that are quickly being overrun by modern society.

We took off with the boat for the Gulf Coast.  There’s a certain sort of serenity and peace that sweeps over you when you find yourself miles away from civilization and surrounded by nature that is usually unseen and often taken for granted. Like this huge sand bar at Big Pass off the coast of Siesta Key.

Our friend, Gabriel walking on water.

Our friend, Gabriel, walking on water.

My husband spent his teen years here on the Key and it was pleasantly nostalgic for him and for me to share in his history there. We netted a few dozen soft shell blue crabs, which are in season now. They are scrumptious when lightly battered and deep fried. This next pic is the $10,000,000.00 house that was built on the lot that his father’s old house was bulldozed off of…funny thing is…you don’t need a ten million dollar house for the same glorious views you can get if you have a boat. There are a few 1950s hold-outs tucked between the $20,000,000 mansions here and there.

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The RS told us stories of his youth, streaking across his college campus, making the front page of the local paper and becoming airborne in his VW bug when topping a hill, only to fine the cops sitting at the foot of the hill when he landed. Willful and wanton reckless driving was the charge (following a few dozen more) that suspended his license and had him riding a bicycle to college, thirty-six miles round trip, for the rest of the semester.

Many days he pulled his little skiff out to the sand bar and spent time alone absorbing the splendor of spiritual moments in tune with greater aspects of our universe…internal and external.

A couple enjoying the view and some quiet time on Big Pass Sand Bar

A couple enjoying the view and some quiet time on Big Pass Sand Bar

We’re hoping to be able to leave Central Florida and move closer to the Gulf Coast when the RS retires. We try to spend as much time as possible over that way. There have been some nice stays in top-of-the-line resorts, but our favorite thing to do is to find a little affordable waterfront hotel with no dress code and a quaint dockside marina where we can park the boat and chill for a few days with no worries.

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Meeting up with a good friend for lunch at Star Fish Company Restaurant 

I look forward to days when the grandchildren are a little older and we can take them out and share the splendor of the area before it’s all spoiled. It’s getting harder and harder to find such places in Florida. Old World Florida is slipping away beneath the concrete of condos and high dollar establishments as New World Florida smothers the best the area has to offer.

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People pay big money to leave the massive condos for dinner tours to watch the sunset, and it’s becoming more challenging to find a spot to watch it undisturbed by all things modern and convenient.

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Sometimes giving up conveniences is just the prescription you need to get your head and your heart in order. But I have to admit, it’s nice to have a well tricked out boat with GPS and a depth finder.

Boat Scam Resolution

Since I ranted on here about our boat dilemma, it’s only fair I come on here and update you on our progress. I wrote about that here: https://sknicholls.wordpress.com/2015/01/06/how-florida-boat-scammers-work/

The rocket scientist checks with the bank every day to see if the lien has been paid. Well, today, the lien has been paid.

Don’t know if the guy is totally honest, or whether he was concerned about the threat of legal action. At any rate, he came through.

He’s deprived us of our property and failed to pay since December  7th.

The detective in Lee County assured us we would not be held liable if he wrecked the boat, smuggled drugs, or some other atrocious act, since we reported it to authorities. Thank goodness none of that came to pass, but better safe than sorry.

He still owes us a couple hundred, but we’re not holding our breath. Better to let it go and get the boat out of our name so he can do whatever and we’ll be completely out of the picture.

Now, we can enjoy our new boat without this hanging over us. We tried to have faith, but couldn’t help but feel scammed.

The RS and I feel so much relief! R.E.S.O.L.U.T.I.O.N.

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This was the day we bought the boat! Good riddance. We’ll never own a boat this big again, unless we have millions and a house on deep water.

Bye-bye boat!!! The nightmare is over.

Have you ever been scammed?

Where We Are Today

This morning's beach shot by Scott Spradley.

This morning’s beach shot by Scott Spradley.

Scott, over on Flagler Beach, gets up every morning to catch the sunrise. He posts pics almost every day. What a nice way to start the day. If you’d like to follow him on Facebook, he’s here:

 https://www.facebook.com/scott.w.spradley

I’ve been a real slacker this year, both in writing and blogging. I didn’t have any resolutions, so I didn’t set myself up for failure, but I have not been terrifically productive either. I have done no guest posts, no interviews, only a couple of promotions for others, and a couple of book reviews.

I have been busy though. I have two outlines for Naked Eye series books. I received my final edits back for Naked Alliances and have been very busy polishing that manuscript. Right now I’m on chapter twenty-five with five more to go. This last chapter has been the most challenging to get through. There was a scene that I personally felt wasn’t working as it was written, so I cut quite a lot out of it and did some rewriting. The rewriting was easier than deciding what to cut.

Knocked out for a couple of days with a broken tooth. It’s not fixed yet, but it’s not hurting either. I have an appointment scheduled to have a root canal with posts and a crown to be put on February 10th. I missed an author symposium and book signing. I also have jury duty February 5th. I try to do my Civic duty, but honestly, I’d like to get out of this one.

We’re also dealing with the stolen boat situation as best we can. It’s a tough call. The place where the man said they bought the money orders that he claims they cancelled (the ones that never made it to our bank) says it can be sixty-five days to get a refund, which is what he says he is waiting for. That would give him until March 13th to pay up. If we file a stolen vessel report and they find him, he could be arrested and not be in a position to pay (IF he intends to pay).

The attorney has basically said he is in the business to sue people and wants a $200.00 retainer and $2000.00 settlement if the man pays (That’s nearly a quarter what we are owed.). The thief has not responded to his request to provide proof of the money orders, return the boat, or pay the balance. The Lee County authorities don’t have it high up on their priority list and haven’t permitted us to file a stolen vessel report yet. They seem to want to see more of an effort to collect first, and had us send notification of intent to pursue legally (which, again, the man did not respond to).

The RS is thinking we should give him until March 23rd, and then file the stolen vessel report if he doesn’t pay at that time.  Major frustration! Meanwhile, we’re making payments with interest on a boat he’s living aboard for free.

Scariest thing is that it is a documented vessel with Homeland Security in our name. If he smuggles drugs, runs it aground, wrecks into another boat, or crashes into a dock, we’re liable.

On a positive note: We’ve been babysitting the grandkids from time to time and the grandson is not screaming for hours when he’s with us anymore. Thank God for sisters.

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New Release: Curse of the Darkwind by Charles Yallowitz

Dive into the newest adventure of Luke Callindor, Nyx, Fizzle, & all their friends.
LEGENDS OF WINDEMERE: CURSE OF THE DARK WIND
IS LIVE!

Cover Art by Jason Pedersen

Cover Art by Jason Pedersen

What’s the Story?

After their battles in Gaia and surviving the Island of Pallice, the champions of Windemere are off on their next adventure.

In his quest to be a hero and help others, Luke Callindor has jumped into danger countless times and would do so again without hesitation. So when he is infected by the toxic Dark Wind, it is up to his friends to find a cure and keep his courage alive. With time running out and their enemies in the shadows, one ally will make the decision to share in Luke’s suffering and forge a bond that runs thicker than blood. Such a sacrifice might not be enough when the truth behind this living curse comes to light.

Will Luke find the strength to defeat the Dark Wind? What ghosts from his past will appear during his weakest hour?

You can find this epic fantasy adventure on:

Amazon!
&
Goodreads!

New to Windemere? Then check it Volumes 1-5 of this exciting series by CLICKING ON THEIR COVERS!

COVER ART BY JASON PEDERSEN (CLICK COVER FOR AMAZON SITE)

COVER ART BY JASON PEDERSEN (CLICK COVER FOR AMAZON SITE)

COVER ART BY JASON PEDERSEN (CLICK COVER FOR AMAZON SITE)

COVER ART BY JASON PEDERSEN (CLICK COVER FOR AMAZON SITE)

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COVER ART BY JASON PEDERSEN (CLICK COVER FOR AMAZON SITE)

COVER ART BY JASON PEDERSEN (CLICK COVER FOR AMAZON SITE)

COVER ART BY JASON PEDERSEN (CLICK COVER FOR AMAZON SITE)

COVER ART BY JASON PEDERSEN (CLICK COVER FOR AMAZON SITE)

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Art by Jason Pedersen (CLICK COVER FOR AMAZON SITE)

Art by Jason Pedersen (CLICK COVER FOR AMAZON SITE)

AN EXTRA TREAT!
Check out an interview with Charles E. Yallowitz on N.N. Light’s Blog: Princess of the Light!

AUTHOR BIO:

Charles author photo B&WCharles E. Yallowitz was born, raised, and educated in New York. Then he spent a few years in Florida, realized his fear of alligators, and moved back to the Empire State. When he isn’t working hard on his epic fantasy stories, Charles can be found cooking or going on whatever adventure his son has planned for the day. ‘Legends of Windemere’ is his first series, but it certainly won’t be his last.

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ENJOY THE ADVENTURE & BEWARE THE DARK WIND CURSE!

Happy Birthday Florida Style

I hate to start off a post talking about the weather, but really I must. The weather for my birthday weekend couldn’t have been better for what we planned to do. November and April are practically perfect in Florida.

Saturday, we took our new boat out on the intracoastal waterway at Indian River. The sun was shining, the air was refreshingly cool, but the sun’s warmth was felt to the core melting away any morning chill.

This was our first adventure to downtown Cocoa with a boat. Not a great idea. There is a lovely park with boat ramp in the middle of the historic district. I thought it would make for a nice walking tour when we returned. There are little al fresco diners, quaint shops, and boutiques along the way.

one way streets

Wrong. Getting to the park was next to impossible hauling an eight-and-a-half foot wide twenty-three foot boat and trailer. We turned left, then right, then left, again and again, swinging wide to avoid the cars and clipping the curbs on the narrow one-way streets.  After sweating bullets through downtown traffic, we finally made it to the park. I’m certain we were cursed at often.

Once in the water it was a gorgeous day. We motored upriver toward the lagoon. Coming under the A1A bridge, a barge about the length of a football field came blasting around the corner out of a canal to the east and I nearly wet my pants.  I had to turn the helm over to the more experienced captain.  The rest of the day was pleasantly uneventful.

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Breaking in the new boat, we had two hours of near idle time keeping the boat under 2000 rpms. Slowly, we meandered down the barge canal to Habortown Marina and had a leisurely lunch at a most obscure waterfront restaurant.

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Coming back west to the intracoastal we were surrounded by dolphins and manatees. The dolphins all seemed to have babies and the manatees were munching on seagrass. These are not my pics, because every time I tried to get a shot they disappeared into the waters. Osprey and pelicans were everywhere.

It was getting late so I knew a walk around cocoa was out of the question. The only bad thing about winter in Florida is that darkness comes too early.

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After our short day in the water we headed back through Cocoa. Coming around a corner, the rocket scientist swung wide to avoid a curb, but also had to avoid a parked car on the opposite corner. You know those cute little chalkboard signs that owners put out to advertise their daily specials (like the pretty pink one in this pic)?

Cocoa

Well, the RS clipped one perched on the curb and down it slammed. It sounded like gunshot hitting the sidewalk. A lady jumped off a nearby park bench as if she needed to take cover. I know we were cursed again, “Those damn boaters coming through here!” I can hear it now. Anyway, we made it home.

First order of business upon arriving home. No limes, but a lemon works just as well.

First order of business upon arriving home. No limes, but a lemon works just as well.

Sunday, we put in just north of the NASA building in Parrish Park, a much easier boat ramp to get to on the causeway to Merritt Island.  People were much friendlier today than on our maiden voyage.  It was a sunny day with very little breeze and a perfect temperature.  Much more boater traffic Sunday and I got some good experience at the wheel.

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Fun day. Happy birthday. Looking forward to many more. 🙂

This morning the wind was whipping the traveler’s palm leaves around, the air all balmy and tropically warm, and now it is pouring rain, lightning and thundering.

Barely Wet

I am going to die on this boat.

We live in Central Florida, almost directly in the center of the state. One of the reasons we wanted a trailerable boat is that we like to go to the west coast on the Gulf and the east coast on the intracoastal waterways, the rivers and lagoons that separate the barrier islands from the mainland. We bought a hybrid boat just for that reason.

A hybrid boat has a modified V-hull. It is good for pleasure riding and fishing. The bottom of the boat is not flat like the lowland fishing boats. In that way, you can take it out in rough waters without getting beat to death. It is not a full-V either. In that way, you can get it into the shallow areas where some of the best fishing takes place.

The draft of the boat is a measure of how deeply the boat sits in the water. Our last boat was 36 feet, full V, and had a draft of nearly 3 feet. We test drove some boats that had a draft of less than 10 inches, but in mildly choppy water your fillings rattled in your head and back and neck surgery would be inevitable from the pounding.

The Coastal 231 solves those problems. It has a draft of only 14 inches and a modified V-hull that smoothly glides over the waves and choppy waters.

The Rocket Scientist has owned a boat since the age of sixteen, so boating is something deeply ingrained. He lived for 12 years on Siesta Key, Fl, and spent 2 years on a treasure hunting boat in the Caribbean. He has had everything from kayaks to cabin cruisers. He could not wait to get this boat wet so we took it over to the intracoastal waterways to put in at Indian River Lagoon on the east coast.

Something you need to know about the east coast: Mosquito Lagoon is barely navigable because it is so shallow. Most people pole small boats through that lagoon or use a small trolling motor. The fishing there and in the Indian River Lagoon that is connected by a canal is some of the best in the world. Indian River Lagoon has some deep channels but the average water depth is 4 feet. The lagoon runs south into the Indian River and opens into Sebastian Inlet from the Atlantic and some seriously deep water.

The locals, mostly rednecks and Hispanics that live around Bithlo and the country villages between Orlando and the intracosatals, don’t like the city boys coming out to fish their holes.

We pulled up to the boat ramp at Parrish Park and there was a group of Hispanics putting their boat in at one ramp and a couple of rednecks putting their boat in at another ramp. We backed toward the third ramp. I got out of the truck and into our boat to back it off the trailer and the Rocket Scientist did the driving down the ramp. All the while, these guys were jawing.

“In Puerto Rico we called them pescado de la ciudad…city fish!”

 

“We call them jerks,” came the redneck’s reply.

 

My husband backed the boat down into the water, got out of the truck and quietly went about his business while I cranked up the engine and backed the boat over to the dock. I killed the engine, got off and we tied up the boat. There were insults and jeers coming from the fishermen as my husband went to park the trailer. The group of fishermen continued their exchange and I was feeling uncomfortable when the rocket scientist came back.

 

Redneck #1: “I don’t understand why these city boys think they’re gonna move in here and catch fish just because they have these big ass shiny new boats.”

 

Redneck# 2 : “This is one place where bigger ain’t better.”

 

The Hispanic group boarded their small flat craft and motored away into the darkness of the early morning.

 

Redneck #1: “Y’all gonna be stuck before the sun rises.” He tossed his fishing gear into his little flat bottom boat.

 

Redneck #2: “Hope y’all got some poles on that monster to push off the sandbars,” he mocked, spitting tobacco juice into the water.

 

The rocket scientist smiled. He stepped aboard our new boat and quietly went about checking out the new depth finder.

 

Redneck#1 “Plannin’ to fish the deep holes?”

 

Rocket Scientist: “Nah, yo girlfriend ain’t here.”

I froze.

I am going to die on this boat. *sigh*

Name we decided on for new boat!

Name we decided on for new boat!