Monday, March 31, 2014

The Snow Birds Are Flying North

There was a mass migration south of blue haired snow birds from the snow and ice of the northeastern United States.  For the first time, we got to join in this miraculous event in "the Boat", our RV.  Although we didn't leave Bleecker until January 10th, better late than never.

The north-central part of Florida seems to attract blue hairs who want to avoid the touristy places, like Orlando and Fort Lauderdale.  The folks here are either fishermen, horse people, or cheap.  I say cheap because it isn't touristy, and so RV parks are half the price of other areas.

Today was March 31st, the last day of the month.  RV park rents are probably due on the 1st.  As we were running around doing errands like buying hay, I noticed that the RV parks have emptied out.  Each park had many vacant lots with only a few stragglers left behind.

We're staying for at least another month.  The weather here in Eureka is beautiful and Pam has horsey things to do at the Griffin Ranch.  But we know it will get unbearably hot very soon and we need to escape back to Bleecker.

Speaking of Bleecker, our plans there may be changing.  Instead of a year round house, we may build a summer cabin.  And a barn for Jeremiah who will most certainly accompany us back north.

Oh, and I should tell you about Aimee.  She's eleven years old and helps her mom feed the horses everyday at the ranch.  She loves horses, and is very good with them.  Well, her mom decided that Aimee should have her own horse, and found a good deal on a Paso Fino at a local ranch.  Paso Fino is Spanish for "fine step".  A Paso Fino is a gaited horse, meaning that they have a smooth gait somewhere between a trot and a gallop.  Pasos share their Spanish heritage with the American Mustang, and if you've ever seen the movie Hidalgo, I'm sure you're impressed with what a great horse they are.   I'm thinking that with my spine issues, a Paso Fino would be a good horse for me.

Oh, and Aimee had to go to school while we fetched her horse for her.  I guarantee that today was the longest school day of the year for her, and the bus ride home the longest ever.

Friday, March 28, 2014

This Is Never Good

We had a bit of excitement here in sleepy little Eureka, Florida yesterday.  It seems that a dirt bag that lived across the road from us violated his probation for armed robbery.  The Marion County Sheriff's department  arrived to serve him a warrant, and he decided that he wasn't going to comply.  Big mistake.

Yep.  That's him.  He was hiding under the floor of the trailer, wedged between the floor and the insulation.

His girlfriend's trailer needs a bit of fixing up now.

Thursday, March 27, 2014


Earl and I went fishing on the Ocklawaha River yesterday.  We bought a dozen shiners for bait.  Earl fished downstream and I cast into some weeds upstream.  The fish didn't seem to be biting, as usual.  But suddenly my bobber disappeared and I grabbed my rod.   This fish put up a heck of a fight.

This is a 24 inch Mudfish, also called a Bowfin.  According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, The bowfin is the only living representative of an ancient family of fishes. It has an air-bladder that functions like a lung, and can be seen gulping air. They have a long, stout body; big mouth with small, sharp teeth; long dorsal and rounded tail fin. Males have a dark spot with a bright orange halo on the tail fin. The spot is absent or inconspicuous on females.  Bass anglers are often surprised to find a bowfin has taken their lure. Mudfish strike topwater and deep-running lures but are most often caught on live bait. It is a better fighter, than some highly rated game fish.

Tomorrow's blog will be all about the Marion County Sheriff's SWAT raid on the house across the street.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Pamela out does herself

Pamela works the horses at the Griffin Ranch in Fort McCoy, Florida.  But Pam is the kind of gal who will step up to do whatever needs to be done.  That was the case over the past few days.

A group of fishermen came to the ranch on Sunday, and another flew in to Jacksonville on Monday.   The owners of the ranch who usually greet and feed guests are only there on weekends, so Pam stepped up.   Not only did Pam make them dinner, but also drove two hours to Jacksonville to fetch Bill who flew in from Vancouver.  She was at the ranch at o'dark thirty to make them breakfast, she made them sandwiches for lunch, and was there to feed them dinner when they returned from a day of fishing.

Pam had Ruby there the other day, and, like everyone, they loved Ruby and they insisted that Miss Ruby be there last night.  She's such a great dog.

Pam  wanted to give them a nice dinner for their last night at the ranch, but not knowing when they would return from a day at fishing had to prepare something that was quick.  She decided on spaghetti and meatballs, a tossed salad, and garlic bread along with red wine.

The dinner was wonderful.  Pam did a great job.  As did Ruby, schmoozing with the guests as only Ruby can do.  They were great guests too.  We hope they come back next year.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

New Shoes for Snuggles

Navicular Syndrome.

I don't know much of anything about horses, but Pamela does.  One of the first things she noticed about the herd on the ranch was that Snuggles was lame.  He wasn't walking right.  His head was down and he was dragging his right front foot.

"Snuggles is lame," she said.  "I think he has Navicular Syndrome."

"Whut?" said I.

"He has problems with his front hooves."

"Oh.  What do we do about that?"

Pam called Bob Poland, a local farrier.  He's good.  He's really good.  Like I said, I don't know much about horses, but I know people, and Bob is good people.  He arrived at 9:30 AM yesterday, right on time.  The first thing he did was to have Pam walk Snuggles around so he could observe him.

"That horse is in a lot of pain," he said.  "Because his front hooves hurt, he's compensating with the rest of his body."

Bob touched Snuggles' withers.  Snuggles flinched.  Bob touched his hind end.  Snuggles flinched.

Navicular Syndrome can be treated by proper hoof trim and corrective shoes.

Bob was great.  He was patient with Snuggles...

who wasn't a model patient.  It took an hour to get the two front shoes on.  Snuggles reared up several times, not wanting Bob to hit his hooves with his hammer.

"It's OK.  He's in a lot of pain," said Bob compassionately.

When Bob finished, we could see an immediate improvement.  Snuggles walked with his head up and was no longer dragging his right foot.

"He's still in pain.  Don't work him for a couple of days.  Give him a chance to recover."

We could see a difference even at his food bucket, where he had weight on both front hooves.

Nope.  I still don't understand what difference a couple of little metal horseshoes can make, or what navicular syndrome is, but because Pam saw the problem and Bob knew how to treat it, Snuggles is much better.

You can read more about Navicular Syndrome here.

Poor Pam  had a long day yesterday.  She was up at 5 AM to hie herself to the ranch to make breakfast for a group of fishermen staying there, and then had to deal with Snuggles.  She had to make dinner for the guys too, so I offered to help by making my "man chili".  I'm pretty proud of my chili, to which I add my secret ingredient.  Horseradish.  We had it in the crockpot waiting for the guys to return from fishing, and then Pam left at 7:30 to drive to Jacksonville to pick up another fisherman whose plane arrived at 9:30 PM.  She didn't get home until well after midnight.

Pam was hoping there would be some chili left since she didn't have time for dinner.  There was not.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

"Boat" Projects

When you buy old stuff, you have projects.   That was true about Drift Away, our 1980 Cheoy Lee trawler, and that's true about "the Boat", our old RV.  The toilet wasn't holding water in the bowl anymore.  I watched a Youtube video about rebuilding it and decided it would be much easier just to replace it.  The Thetford Aqua-Magic V, at $122, seemed a bargain after all the moola I dumped into Drift Away, and it was billed as a replacement for the old Thetford Aqua-Magic Galaxy.

The first step was to remove the old toilet.  Thankfully, the Youtube video showed me where the two nuts are located that hold the toilet down.  One was behind the footpedals that pumps water into the bowl and the other under a plastic cap.   In the photo below, you can see where I removed it.   The nuts were at 10 and 4.

Just like a boat, it was poorly designed.  The plastic cap was only a peep hole to the nut underneath.  And it was not over the nut.  It was off by several inches and I had to reach around the back of the toilet and feel around in there to find it.

Once I removed the two nuts, I was able to pull the toilet away from the back wall enough to unfasten the water intake.   I set the old toilet and the new toilet side by side.  The Aqua V is not a direct replacement for the Galaxy, as you can see.

Even though I ordered the  low profile model, it is still several inches taller than the old one.  The water intake is also several inches higher.   In the old unit on the left, you can see the intake low and on the left.  It is in the middle and much higher in the new toilet on the right.  I couldn't make it work, even though I tried to stretch the RV's water hose, and it required three trips to the Fort McCoy Hardware store to get enough adapters and hose to make it work.

But work it does.  My twenty minute job turned into a two hour job, which meant that the sun was over the yardarm and it was time for a victory beer.   A Guiness, which I had left over from St. Paddy's Day.

Oh, and I waited for 5' 3" tall Pamela to come home and try the new toilet on for size.  It was OK, so I can toss the old one.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Gone Fishin' for Longnose Gar

Earl and I went fishing yesterday.  All day.  From early morning until around 6 PM.  We started on Lake Kerr, where we got skunked, and then trailered Earl's Ghenoo over to the Ocklawaha River, our favorite stomping grounds.

We anchored in the swift moving river and let our bait (worms) float downstream.  We could see fish jumping, but couldn't get a nibble.  Must be the wrong bait.  We went up a little offshoot of the river where I caught two sunfish, which I released, but that was it.  We went back out into the river and floated our worms.   After a couple of hours, just when we were about to give up, Earl's $9 flea market spinning rod bent in half.  It was a good sized fish and it put up one heck of a fight.  It dove, it headed to the boat and then away, and then it jumped.  Finally, Earl got the fish along side the boat, but when he tried to land it without a net the line snapped.  I got a good look at it though.  It was a Longnose Gar, about a foot and a half to two feet long.

If you don't know what a Longnose Gar is, here's a pic for you.

Much bigger than the one that Earl caught.  They can grow to almost 7 feet long and 35 pounds normally, but the record fish in Florida is 41 pounds.  The world record is 50 pounds and was caught in Texas.

If I reeled in a big Gar like that, I'd throw my pole overboard and scream like a little girl.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Happy St. Paddy's Day!

I'm half Irish, but on St. Patrick's Day everyone is Irish!  I love ethnic holidays that celebrate diversity.  A couple of years ago, Pam and I went to see Savannah's St. Paddy's Day parade, one of the largest in the world and attended by hundreds of thousands of people.  It was crazy, and while we had a great time, I'd never want to do that again.  It took us hours to make our way out of the city and to get back to the boat.

We usually don't go out either.  The Irish pubs are nuts and the non-Irish pubs don't do it right.  We stay at home, but still enjoy the day.  Sometimes it's just a six pack of Guiness, as I did yesterday.  Pam also make Dublin Cobbler, which is sausage, bacon, potatoes, onion, parsley, and a bit of salt and pepper baked in the oven for a few hours.

(photo from

Yes, it was as good as it looks.

By the way, Guiness stout is an acquired taste for most people.  If you don't like it, the Irish say to drink one pint (or bottle here in America) a day for three days.  You'll love it after that.

Here are a few fun facts about St. Patrick's Day.  First, St. Patrick wasn't Irish.  Our St. Patrick's Day celebration is an American invention.  Corned beef and cabbage isn't an Irish dish, it is an American one.  And, not surprisingly, there are more people of Irish descent in America than in Ireland.

The rain has stopped here in Florida.  I see horseback riding in my future.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Are your RV's Cabinets Falling Down?

Last year, while we were in Brunswick, Georgia and living on Drift Away (our boat), my Aunt Alice and Uncle Don came to visit in their big ol' RV.  They have one of those big jobs with the slide out rooms.  During the visit, we spoke of RV life.  Alice mentioned that these RVs tend to shake things up pretty good while driving, and that they'd even heard of cabinets falling off the walls.  Well, while we were underway and headed to Florida in January, I noticed that I had cabinets pulling away from the ceiling on both port and starboard.

While in Virginia, Pam and I went to Lowes and bought a screw jack to hold up the longest and heaviest set of  cabinets.  A week ago, Earl and I stopped at Lowes and I bought two table legs.  Yesterday, I cut them to length and, using the screw jack to raise the cabinets, cut the legs to length and wedged them in place.

Yes.  It is a game for me to see how high I can pile the dishes in the little sink to air dry.  I also did this on Drift Away.  Great fun.

And yes, I have every intention of staining and varnishing the table legs.  But like painting Drift Away, it will probably be too hot, too cold, too rainy, too windy, or too nice a day to waste finishing table legs.  If there was a Procrastinators Club, I would be president if we ever got around to holding elections.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Neighborhood Barbeque

Yesterday was a day to celebrate our neighbor Denny's birthday, and we did so with a neighborhood barbeque.  Everyone brought something.  Pam brought blue and orange Jello shots, blue and orange being the colors of the Florida Gators.   I brought some freshly made horseradish to go on the big, thick juicy steaks that Denny got at the commissary.   I hardly knew anyone, but it seemed like a friendly group, so I asked Denny if he'd like me to fetch my camera.   He said yes, and when I asked if anyone might punch me in the nose for photographing them, he replied that if there was going to be any nose punching, he was doing it.

Here you go...

My horseradish.  Yes, I made it outside.  Yes, that is a victory beer.

Denny's house is a great single guy place.  He has a fairly complete automotive setup and he and his friends do a lot of restoration and custom work.  Note "FEAR THE SWAMP" on the end of the cooker.  The SWAMP is the place's nickname.  It stands for Single Women (only) At My Place.

Junior, appropriately dressed in blue and orange.

We brought Ruby over so she could work the crowd.  Chevy and Olivia stayed home.

Junior loves dogs.  Everyone loves Ruby.  What a great dog she is.


Check out those steaks!  They tasted as good as they looked.

Junior worked the crowd, asking everyone to wear the funny glasses.

Denny's... ummm... birthday cake.  Why did he take off his shirt?

This is why.

Denny's shirt.

A good time  was had by all.