Tuesday, December 16, 2014

What Do I Do?

I'm sure that those of you who followed my Drift Away blog, and for whatever reason followed me over to this one, wonder what I do all day.

"Dave, you're a man of action!  Without bilges to clean or heads to rebuild, and what with you in Florida and not Bleecker, what do you do?"

I'm glad you asked.  Mainly, I surf Al Gore's interwebs and shoot pool.

"I get the interwebs.  But pool?"

Yep.  Pool.  When I was a kid, I had a pool table.  I used to shoot almost everyday.  By myself, with friends, it didn't matter.  Last year, our neighbor Denny asked Earl and I if we'd like a pool table.  He was given one and its been sitting on his porch for years.  Would we!  So we took it, assembled it, and shot a lot of pool last winter.  This year, without Earl, I'm back to shooting alone, or sometimes with Pam, who is a decent player.

Its in the middle of the garage, as you can see.

"But Dave, where are the victory beers?"

I set the temperature in the fridge so the beer has just a hint of slush.  Perfect!

The table is a regulation slate top.  The slate is in three  pieces, and Earl and I got them as level as we could, but it is not perfect.  The middle slate is off a hair.  But it is still a lot of fun.

What else do I do?  Well, I've taken some star photos down here, but it is not the same as light pollution free Bleecker.  Pam also enrolled me in an Ocala photography club that does field trips, so that will be fun too.  More blog fodder.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Riding The Beach

Pam loaded Jeremiah the Horse (GS Jeremiah has his own Facebook page) to friend Debbie's Cheers Horse Ranch in Yulee, Florida.  Debbie takes people riding on Amelia Island's beach for paying customers, but on last Wednesday and Thursday it was just Pam and Deb.

I stayed behind with the critters, so the following video and photos were taken by Deb and Pam.

 If you'd like to ride horses on the beach,  call Debbie at Cheers Horse Ranch at (904) 277-7047 or her cell at 753-1701.  Pam said it was great fun and they intend to do it again soon.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

A Matter of Perception

I needed a salt water fix yesterday.  I've been away from the ocean too long.  With nothing else special to do, Pam and I, and mother-in-law Judi, loaded ourselves into the Kia and drove a little over 60 miles to Ormand Beach on the Atlantic side of Florida, a little north of Daytona Beach.

We took route 40, which not only took us to Ormand Beach, but took us directly to the beach.  As in, route 40 ended at the ocean.  We drove from asphalt to sand.  Like Daytona, you can drive on the beach at Ormond.

Yeah, I totally forgot my camera.  I'll bring it next time.  But it was very cool, and we plan on returning to spend a day there very soon.  But funny... it wasn't busy at all, and Pam and Judi and I wondered why?  It was a gorgeous day, in the low 70s and sunny, although the water was cool.  And then I looked at the license plates of all the cars there.  New York, Massachusetts, Michigan...  snow birds.  To us, this was heaven.  To Florida residents, this was winter.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Christmas Time in Florida

Pam, mother-in-law Judi, and I went to old downtown Ocala yesterday.  We were told it is a very nice downtown with nice decorations.  Right on both counts.  But it just isn't the same as back home in New York.

An hour later, all the tables below were filled and there was a line waiting to get in Harry's Seafood, Bar, and Grille.  Harry's is a regional chain of five restaurants, moderately priced and apparently very popular.

The sign below is a reprint of a 1922 original.

Ocala has a nice little downtown, with the usual antique shops, boutiques, and restaurants.  Pam and I plan on returning at night sometime to check out the lights.

Later, I went outside to see if I could see the green laser that the Kennedy Space Center was shooting at the moon.  I couldn't see it, but took a pic anyway.

I posted it on their Facebook page.  Someone then told me that they aimed the laser at Mars, not the Moon.   That might explain it.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

The More Things Change...

As many of you know, Pam and I lived on Drift Away, our 46 foot trawler, for several years.  We now spend half the year living on Harvey the RV here in Florida.  Yesterday, it was time.  Time to dump the black water holding tanks, just like we had to do on Drift Away.

It is a big production.  We have fencing in front of the RV to keep the dogs in, and I need to move it.  All the awnings need to be rolled up, and the big awning that Alpin Haus in Amsterdam supposedly fixed was not, and it took some doing to get it rolled up.  Unhook the electric and water and we were on our way.

We decided to stop at the Wilderness RV Park in Silver Springs, since they both sell propane (for our furnace) and have a dump station.  18.8 gallons of propane later, and many gallons of waste dumped, and we were on our way.

You would think this would be uneventful, much more so than moving a 46 foot trawler in wind and current to a dock dump station and back.  Well, it was not.  I pulled back onto Judi's lawn a different way, over a shallow ditch by the road, and promptly hung Harvey up.  The trailer hitch carved a groove in the road, the bumper was sitting on the shoulder, and the rear wheels were spinning.  We were most definitely stuck.

Pam asked if I had a jack.  No.

Harvey's wheels were sinking in the soft Florida sand.  I needed to act quickly.  I decided to use my upstate New York winter driving skills in snow.  I could move Harvey a couple of inches in forward, and then a couple of inches in reverse.  Then a few more inches in forward, and a couple of more in reverse.  After a dozen repetitions, I was luckily able to rock Harvey out of the ditch.  Barely.

So we got the RV back where it belongs, and in unrolling the awnings, we struggled with the big one "fixed" by Alpin Haus.  I was on the aft end tugging on the support strut struggling to unroll it, and Pam was on the forward one.  Suddenly she started hollering "OW OW OW OW OW!!  FINGERS FINGERS FINGERS!!  OW OW OW OW OW!! FINGERS FINGERS FINGERS!!!".  She had gotten the forward strut out a bit, but being spring loaded, it snapped back and clamped onto her fingers.  I raced over and jumped up on the milk crate she was standing on, reaching up as high as I could.  I pulled for all I was worth, but with my nerve damaged right arm, it wasn't much.  "OW OW OW OW OW!!  FINGERS FINGERS FINGERS!!  OW OW OW OW OW!! FINGERS FINGERS FINGERS!!!".   Adrenaline kicked in and I was able to pull the strut out just enough for Pam to yank her fingers out.  No broken bones, but certainly crushed.  She might lose some fingernails.  She wrapped them in ice to ease the pain.

Yep.  Boats... RV...  the more things change, the more they remain the same.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

The Pow Wow

Pam and I, and Pam's mom Judi, went to a Pow Wow at Chambers' Farm in Fort McCoy (Florida) today.  I enjoyed it immensely, and the vibrant colors and driving beat of the drums really got to me.  I guess the only distraction was the sunglasses worn by the really cool native-Americans.

Please note, these are not costumes.  Costumes are worn by someone pretending to be someone else, the speaker admonished.  These are referred to as dancing clothes.

I was totally blown away by the rhythmic beat of the drums, and the  colors of the  clothes.  I was also very happy to see so many young people embracing their heritage. But please, lose the sunglasses.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Energy Conservation Night

For those of you old enough to be adults back in the 1970s and early 1980s, do you remember the "energy shortage"?  Gas lines?  Odd and even days to buy gas?  We were even concerned about being able to buy energy at all, let alone how much it would cost.  Being a young parent with a young daughter, I worried about these things, and even though we lived in a middle class suburb, I decided to buy and install a Vermont Castings Vigilant wood burning stove.  This was in the day that Vermont Castings had no dealers and I had to drive to Randolph Vermont to pick it up.  But it was that prized of a wood stove, so I did it.

I installed it myself, using tips I got from the half a dozen self sufficient lifestyle magazines that I subscribed too.  Google would have made this whole process so much easier.

With the wood stove installed, we enjoyed the free heat and warm fuzzy feeling it provided us.  My first wife and I also decided that we would have "Energy Conservation Night", a night without using any outside power.  We turned off the electric heat and cranked up the wood stove.  The electric lights went off and candles and oil lamps came on.  The TV was turned off and Sorry, Monopoly, and other board games came out.  Our daughter Becky, probably about eight years old, was very dismayed.  No TV?  No video games?  No.

For the first few weeks, it was just the three of us.  But then a couple of Becky's friends started to come by, sporadic at first and then on a regular basis.  Energy Conservation Night was a big hit, not only with us two adults, but with the kids!

Look, I'm probably the last guy who knocks technology.  I programmed, built, and sold computers for decades.  I love my GPS.  I loved my electronic navigation system on my boat.  They all served useful purposes.  But I don't have a cell phone.  I don't see what use one is, and the one time I did have one, people seemed to call me on it.  I  look on modern conveniences the same way.  They're nice to have, but also nice to do without.

It is never too late.  If you have a young family, consider having your own Energy Conservation Night, and  reconnect with your kids and their friends.  Maybe things weren't so backwards a hundred years ago.