Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Bikinis, bars, beaches and baseball

 Wifey and I recently finished our annual Florida Fest, where we scrimped all year so we could blow our savings on a week-long gluttonous grilled shrimp and blackened Grouper fish taco extravaganza on the beach.

Some rando thoughts, observations and anecdotes about the Sunshine State:

** If you are in your 50s and want to feel young, attend Sunday Mass in Fort Myers. Let's just say you don't have to worry about babies crying during the service.

** Don't get me wrong, the service was lovely, the priest was great and it was a huge church. There's a portion of the Catholic Mass where names of ill or deceased people are read and we are asked to pray for them. It was the longest list of names I've ever heard read at a service. 

I was only half listening because, obviously, I didn't know any of the people there. So it was like: Marvin O'Connor, Harley Johansen, Mildred Margrove, blah, blah, blah, and then "Secretary Madeleine Albright." It woke me up. The rest of the service I was thinking: Was the former United States Secretary of State a member of this parish, or did they have a church secretary by that name, or do they just honor random politicos here?

** While we stayed at St. Pete Beach, we were in Fort Myers for a Twins spring training baseball game.
A lady sitting behind me said to her friend: “Let's get something to eat at halftime.” I bit my lip - yes, that is possible for me to do, especially because wifey was squeezing my knee with her vice-like grip, as she does when she wants me to bite my lip.

** Other than that outing, we did the least stuff we ever did on a vacation besides eat and sit on the beach and listen to bands. Day after day. It was great.

Wifey asked me on the beach: "Why do the women wear less clothes than the men?"

I wisely answered: "I hadn't noticed."

** Our first day there it rained off and on. So we did go 10 miles into St. Petersburg so I could visit the largest used bookstore in Florida only to find out it didn't survive COVID-19. It survived Amazon's take-over of the book industry and society's shift to reading nothing longer than 140 characters, but all the Ivermectin in the world couldn't help it pull through the Wuhan flu shutdown.

** There's a 7-11 and a Dunkin' Donuts across from the hotel we stay. They line up 40 deep to get coffee at DDs, but 2 people deep for 7-11 coffee. You know where this impatient soul got his java.

** The first question people ask you is "Where ya from?" When I tell them South Dakota, 9 out of 10 say a variation of "Oh, wow." Like we're from Mars or something. The 10th person says "Where's that?" So I ask: "Ever heard of Mount Rushmore?" They all have heard of that.

One couple said they went to Deadwood last year. "We caught COVID there," they said and laughed it off.

** I read two books on the trip, one of them "The Paris Apartment" by Lucy Foley. The guy under the umbrella next to us was reading "The Paris Detective" by James Patterson.

I held up my book and asked him if his detective ever stayed at my apartment. He looked at me like he was one of those people who didn't know where South Dakota was.

** The more I visit Florida, the more I like it. And, oddly enough, the more I visit Florida, the more I like South Dakota.

Sunday, March 20, 2022

And the 2022 gardening season begins

 Planted some pepper and egg plant seeds today. Up until last year I started my tomato seeds on St. Patrick's Day but I pushed it back a couple weeks because they seemed a little leggy by my usual planting time of Memorial Day weekend. So those are yet to come.

We'll see what this year brings - rabbits, deer, hail, wind, drought, grasshoppers, fungus. I'm ready. Let's get ready to rumble.

Thursday, March 17, 2022

Well, it was worth it

 Finished Dean Koontz's "Quicksilver" and it was worth the 29 bucks I plunked down (never end a sentence with a preposition). 

The namesake of the book is Quin Quicksilver, a baby found in the middle of the road and raised by an orphanage fun by nuns. At 18 he ventures out to become a writer, and as with most writers, his life gets wild.

Quinn had a happy if unexceptional life. Until the day of “strange magnetism.” It compelled him to drive out to the middle of nowhere. It helped him find a coin worth a lot of money. And it practically saved his life when two government agents showed up in the diner in pursuit of him. Now Quinn is on the run from those agents and who knows what else, fleeing for his life.

During a shoot-out at a forlorn dude ranch, he finally meets his destined companions: Bridget Rainking, a beauty as gifted in foresight as she is with firearms, and her grandpa Sparky, a romance novelist with an unusual past. Bridget knows what it’s like to be Quinn. She’s hunted, too. The only way to stay alive is to keep moving.

Barreling through the Sonoran Desert, the formidable trio is impelled by that same inexplicable magnetism toward the inevitable. With every deeply disturbing mile, something sinister is in the rearview―an enemy that is more than a match for Quinn. Even as he discovers within himself resources that are every bit as scary.

In usual Koontz fashion, it's good versus evil, a little sermonizing on the state of mankind, but not overly so. It was vintage Koontz with a dose of the supernatural and the ah-shucks kid forced into being a hero or a wimp. It's a book about free-will and the choices men make.

I liked it and gave it an 8 on the Haugenometer scale of 10. Amazonians agreed and gave it a 4.1 of 5. 

Thursday, March 10, 2022

Impulsive buy I hope is worth it

 Did something today I haven't done in a long time. I purchased a hardcover book and paid full jacket price for it.

My reading funk this week, only surpassed by my writing funk, was hitting hard. I'd had my fill of Block, Box and McMurtry and needed a jolt. When in doubt, go to Dean Koontz.

He has a new one out called Quicksilver. I could've ordered it on Amazon for almost half price, but their two-day delivery has gone the way of Blockbuster. I needed it immediately. Today. To read tonight.

So after work I drove out of my way to Books-a-Million, so add another 30 dollars in gas for the two miles extra, and I plunked down $28.99 toward Dean's new swimming pool. It hurt. I usually do used book stores, library sales and E-Bay for my books. But, like a heroin addict, I needed my fix and needed it now.

Hope it's worth it.

Tuesday, March 8, 2022

5 Things That Recently Caught My Eye

 1. Let's hear it for the Knights: To date, $4.5 million has been raised, all of it going directly to relief efforts.

The Catholic fraternal organization has set up “mercy huts” in Poland, right across the border from Ukraine. When fleeing refugees enter Poland, they can immediately receive food, medical supplies, clothing, and relief from the Eastern European winter weather. The huts are based on the principle that guided the Knights’ humanitarian efforts in Europe during World War I: “Everybody welcome, everything free.”

2. Marcus Foster: A Black Hero You’ve Never Heard Of

Stressing old fashioned values like hard work, self-help, and academic achievement, Foster helped thousands of children as a public educator in Philadelphia. Foster was poised for even greater things as Superintendent of the Oakland Unified School District. But in 1973, he was cut down in a hail of cyanide-filled bullets, assassinated by the Symbionese Liberation Army, the Marxist terrorists better known for kidnapping newspaper heiress Patty Hearst.

3. Because we all need more COVID news: The long, strange history of anti-vaccination movements

The history of smallpox is a reminder that, while they may seem new, anti-vaccination movements are as old as vaccination itself. People’s reasons for opposing vaccines — concerns about side effects, a preference for natural remedies, fear of government overreach — haven’t changed that much either.

4. Earth's biggest bookstore: Amazon, Notorious Bookstore Killer, Kills Off All Its Brick-and-Mortar Bookstores

Today, Amazon has worked its way into so many facets of our lives, from shipping people essential products to hosting the websites where people get their news. But it looks like replacing your local bookstore with one of its own was a bridge too far.

5. UFF DA! Four-dollar gas through November in South Dakota

Its 2022 fuel outlook predicts an average $4.11 per gallon of gas in April and a high of $4.25 per gallon in May. While the per gallon price will drop some it won’t fall below $4 until November.