To Let: Site # 143/ A Farewell To The Sunshine State


[As I write this post, Site #143 is occupied]

On December 30, 2015, around noon, the radio in our red Ford Escape will begin to emit static.  It will crackle and hiss as my favorite country music station fades in strength.  Fort Myers will be receding, falling away into the south…into the muggy soupy haze.  The traffic on I-75 will be roaring past us.  The final songs are playing.  I hear the lines:

“Lookin’ in every trailer park for her red pick-up truck…”


“If you’re gonna cheat on me, don’t cheat in our hometown…”


“There’s a tiger inside of those tight fittin’ jeans…”

I think I hear,

“Tell it like it used to be, when you were still in love with me, before you got so used to me, and wanted someone new…”

Wait, a signal burst from the station,

“Billy gave up his wife and children…just to satisfy your 14 carat mind.”

and, just as the faint sounds of the best country music station in Florida fades into the ionosphere,

“You never called me ‘darlin’, darlin’…you never even called me by my name.”

“Before you got so used to me…”  It’s not that we are “used” to Florida, its just that the calendar will turn over in a few dozen hours to 2016 and we have places to see.  Former sharecroppers shacks in the southern cotton and soy bean fields and places in the western deserts.  We’re trading the Royal Palm trees for the Saguaro.  If you open your Rand McNally and look at the U.S. map, we will be riding along the belly of this great and varied country.  Landscapes will change…but the heart of this traveler will be setting a course toward the sunsets.

Our days and nights in Florida are at an end.  A night in Fort McCoy, another in Tallahassee and then we begin making our way through the heart of the deep south.  Mobile, Natchez and Vicksburg.  There are campsites waiting for us.  I have important personal business in Monroe, Louisiana…I hope it’s not hot and glaring in the sun when I sit beside that headstone in the cemetery in Monroe.  Then Shreveport and onto Dallas.  Mariam will fly back to New York City for several days of business-related meetings.  I’ll stay back…back in Texas where I will plug away on my novel.  I’ll sleep alone in the Lone Star state.  How much trouble can I get into while scribbling away in Arlington.

What are we leaving behind us?  So many things, mostly pleasant and a few not so.  The heat and humidity, unusual this year, will not be missed by me.  (But, I do enjoy going outside without wearing fleece.)


[Big Cypress Wildlife Refuge]

We’re leaving our friends in Jupiter, Brad and Linda, who were so gracious a few weekends ago on the Atlantic coast.

We’re leaving my high school classmate, Katy (and her husband) who prepared a wonderful lunch for us in Zephyrhills.  Katy is my proof-reader.  We’re leaving my teaching colleague, Dianna (and her husband) who showed us the sunny side of St. Petersburg.  Dianna is a transplanted Connecticut yankee.  Good luck in the Florida heat, Dianna.  Teach those children well.

We’re leaving the sublime beauty and stark nature of the Big Cypress and Everglades Parks.



The malls, the walls, the sand and the alligators.  The seashells of Sanibel.  The sunsets over the Gulf.  My learning to sail with Russell and sailing teacher, Randen.


I will miss the Bike Bistro, where I bought a mug and had Mariam’s broken spokes repaired. (The free ball-point pens were orange-colored).  Farewell to Paulette and Emily who provided me with the best iced coffee on the hottest of days. They were more than baristas, they became my friends.



[Paulette (left) is a gifted artist & Emily (right) has a dog-siting business. They are the top two baristas in Fort Myers]

Gone will be the pink flamingo yard ornaments, adult tricycles, golf carts and circling Turkey Vultures.


Out of my life, like a cool breeze on a hot day, will pass the best public libraries this side of 42nd Street.

I will no longer drive along San Carlos Boulevard and tip my cap at the strippers who are all standing in front of Fantasy’s, waving to the passers-by.

New adventures are awaiting us on the roads to the West.

If you’ve read between the lines of my posts, you may have noticed that this writer is a restless soul.  I feel unspeakably lonely sometimes, even when Mariam and friends are near.  It’s my dark side.  My nightly companion is a melancholy that can’t be described easily.  Have you ever dreaded something and welcomed that thing in equal portions?  Love and hate.  Approach and avoidance.  The beautiful and the obscene.  The sacred and the profane.

Clearly, almost certainly, it’s the air sign of mine.  Gemini.  The twins.  Perhaps that explains my dual nature.

But, I think I can be fixed, like an old Chevy with faded paint that’s not running on all cylinders.  Yes, I think I’ve found the place that could be my Fountain of Youth.  I stumbled on this ghost town while googling the Mohave Desert.  I’ve never been there, but I know it exists.  It will be an unusual place and it bears the oddest of names.  It’s in the California desert.  It’s alongside the dunes and sage and cacti of the Southwest.  I’m not going to tell you (yet) where this place is located.  You will need to stay in touch.

Keep reading my posts.  I have so much more to share.

Good-bye Site #143.  It’s been a great two months.  Perhaps we can do this again sometime.  I’ll buy the wine and pay for the room if you sing that song I love…


So Near Yet So Far Away/The Three Hour Tour

Posing on the boat Day4

You’ve been waiting.  Waiting by your warm hearths sipping an extra strong egg nog.  You’ve posted your last holiday cards and only two remaining items are on your “to do” list.  You have to figure out who is going to get the re-gift this year.  But, what you’re really waiting for is the next chapter in the Tale of the Old Man and the Sea, the Ancient Mariner saga that has your friends and relatives making late-night phone calls and flooding your email accounts.

What happened to him?  Did he finish the sailing course in Fort Myers?  Or, did he give in to his insecurities and bail out in favor of scoring early tickets to Star Wars?

He’s resting now, but I just spoke with him and he gave me permission to announce the news we have all been awaiting.  His stomach was fluttery last night as he went through his stack of 3 x 5 index cards in a desperate attempt to make sense of the alien language of the sea.  Jibe.  Jib.  Cleat.  Luff and Tack (which has three different meanings).

He was sore in places he hasn’t felt soreness since 1964.  Should he take a Valium to help him sleep?  (He did).

The fourth day was to be a brief two-hour sail and then the written test!

He has been a teacher for over thirty years.  Now, he was expected to be the student.  He had to study.  He had to pass a test.  He had to make the monetary investment pay off.  What would his future be like if he walked away…a failure?  He’d spent too many years thinking of himself as a failure.  Was this going to end up with the girl leaving him in the parking lot of life beside a cheap after-hours bar?  Was he going to lose another election and chance to be the King of the Dance Classes (like he did in 1963)?

Was another manuscript going to come back from Random House with a sweet note of rejection?

He desperately needed to remember that port is left when you’re on a boat.

So, here’s your Holiday present, my friends! [I’ve switched to the First Person just now.  It’s me talking.]

I passed the test!  The one question I missed was the one that I debated over and went with my second choice.  Now, I have a nice certificate and a classy logbook.  When I get back home in April, there will be a stamp from the U. S. Sailboating Association (or whatever the name is, I don’t have the paper in front of me).  I will place this stamp in my logbook.

I will be officially certified as a person able to take out a sailboat up to thirty feet in length.

The logbook?  What will the future entries contain?  A trip out of a port in the British Virgin Islands?  A voyage into the Gulf of Mexico out of Key West?

There is a story that is yet to be written in this little book.  This story will be a record of where I go from here.  Will I file the book away and think no more about the salty air and the beam reach and the tacking?

I don’t think so.  I was thinking about the dynamics of sailing on Day 2 of my classes, around the time I wrote The Old Man and the Sea blog.  I can’t tell you the history of how the Phoenicians first used the sea beyond the sight of land, I can’t tell you of the ancient Greek fishermen.  I can’t speak to the spectacular technical achievement of Columbus, Magellan, and Cook.

But, I can tell you that it is truly humbling to hear such stories.  To be in a boat, upon the limitless sea, beyond landmarks, beyond the sight of your home port…out where the curvature of the earth can be seen.  To do this and use the stars to find your way back to the arms of your family, is a very intense and awesome concept to comprehend.

To sail into the wind is a contradiction in terms.  But, you can do it.  It’s always puzzled me how this can happen.  Now I know.

It’s a profound idea and now it is something I can do.

Like my passport, I intend to have entries in my logbook that say something about me.

That I tried to see as much of the world as I could.  It’s really a wonderful and a small world that we have been given.

And, it’s a Wonderful Life.

Sweet holiday wishes to all my friends and family….




My 301st Blog: The Walls Of Fort Myers, The Benches Of Central Park And Fluffy


Remember me?  I’m Fluffy.  My human is the guy who writes these blogs.  I’m here to cover for him because he made a mistake and is unwilling to go public with it.  I’m also here to help him segue into two other topics about his recent time in Florida that he wants to “bundle” into one post.  First of all, he was mistaken when he posted his last blog and stated that the next one was going to be his 300th.  That blog was his 300th.  This one is his 301st.  Don’t be too hard on the poor guy, he’s been through a lot lately, all the driving, all the torrential rain, the humidity and the fact that his temporary henna tat is now gone from his forearm.  There are a few black spots left that look like insect bites, but it’s just the last bit of henna.

He also had to worry about how I’m being fed and kept warm.  You see, he left me in the North Country.  Don’t be overly concerned, though, I’m in a nice warm barn with plenty of straw and hay.  He thought about taking me along, but he assumed that there may be a federal law against transporting a lamb across state lines for humorous purposes.  And, besides, there’s barely enough room in the R-pod for his wife, Mariam, and the laptops, books, maps, art supplies and clothes.  I told him he could use me as a pillow, but Mariam is allergic to wool so that was out of the question.

Okay, so here are two topics that he wanted to combine into one posting:  Please try to read carefully and don’t forget to hit the “like” button at the bottom of the blog page.  For each “like” he gets on WordPress, I get a little extra chunk of a delicious apple.  You’d like to see me have that, wouldn’t you?  Of course you would…and have a Happy Holiday!  Remember the lambs in the nativity scenes?  Again, my future depends on you, the reader.  If my human gets to be really popular as a blogger, it could lead to book contracts and product endorsements.  Hollywood would be calling.  Then, I, poor little Fluffy (look at my cute little nose and sad eyes!  See my little legs, unsure and wobbly?)  If my human gets famous, I could end up scoring a major role in the Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall in New York City.  It isn’t all about the legs of the Rockettes (like my human thinks), no, they use real live animals in the show.

I could be a Broadway star!  It all depends on you!!!


Mariam and I are in this part of Florida for the first time.  I just finished reading a book about the over-development of the Miami area on the eastern coast.  We knew Fort Myers was subject to the same stresses of mall building and gated communities.  The gates to these developments are beautiful to look at and are executed with skill by landscape architects.  But, the walls…  The walls are said to keep the noise of the traffic out, but is that the only reason?  Are they a reminder that the million dollar homes behind the walls are to be left alone?  Are they some kind of class barrier?  I wonder.

The walls come in a riot of variations.  Here are two examples:


[A simple and functional wall]


[A “green” wall that is not too imposing]

I’d like to show more examples, but I think you get the point.  Besides, it worth your life to slow down or stop on these busy boulevards to take a photo.

Now, for something completely different.


Before we set out on this long road trip, we had several days in Manhattan.  I was strolling through Central Park and stopped in the October light of a mid-afternoon.  I noticed plaques on some of the benches.  A little back-story:  Just before we left the North Country, the media was covering a local controversy about a college, a donation and a name change.  A woman was set to give Paul Smiths College $10,000,000.  The catch was that the name was to be changed to add her name to that of the institution.  In the end, a judge ruled against the name change because it violated the original deed of the donation of the land for the college, by Paul Smiths son.  And, the judge said that the college didn’t prove that the money was essential to the survival of the college.

Me? I was against the name change because I felt it violated the true nature of philanthropy.  But, that’s another story.  As I sat in Central Park and looked at the plaques, I sensed a certain humility in the naming and wording for each bench.

I came away with a gentle feeling of generosity with no real strings attached.  A simple plaque.  A simple memory of someone who probably enjoyed many October afternoons on that very bench.



Sometimes, the simple things make the larger impact.

[Coming soon: My yearly Holiday Blog.  Stay tuned.]

This Is Not The Scary Halloween Blog You Were Expecting


You read the title correctly.  I’m very sorry but I just don’t have the energy, creative or otherwise, to put together a high-quality very scary blog that you have come to expect of me.  I just put the spooky image at the head of this post to grab your attention.  I know I posted something at the start of October that promised a series of totally mind-blowing blogs celebrating my favorite time of year.  But, as I’m sure many of you know, I took sick shortly after attending my 50th High School reunion.  I’m still not well and it’s been a month, three ER visits, a chest x-ray, a hefty dosage of antibiotics, a diagnosis (shown later to be a little inaccurate) of pneumonia, and all capped off by an allergic reaction to one of the drugs I was proscribed.  My flesh looks like a scary Halloween story by itself.  I have red spots on parts of my body that I forgot I had.  I’ve been rubbed with aloe vera and other lotions that you would have to travel to a cheap Bangkok brothel to find.

So, instead of something scary, I thought it would be highly entertaining to tell you about our last-minute preparations for our winter “on the road” in our R-pod RV.  Remember the late part of 2013 when Mariam and I drove across the country to visit my grandson, Elias, in Orting, WA?  I even compiled those travel blogs and published them in book form.  It’s called: “In the Middle of Somewhere”–and did I mention it’s available on Amazon in paperback or Kindle.

Anyway, here is a picture of part of the R-pod.  I tried to get some colorful trees in the frame as well to show you that its peak foliage time up here in the North Country.


Like I was saying, I am picking out the books I intend to take along.  We’re busy choosing CD’s, books-on-tape and DVD’s.  I also pack all the writing material for future projects (like a few novels, etc).  I even considered bringing along my banjo.  I googled music lessons in Fort Myers and found that I can get private lessons for a reasonable rate.  But, I’m having second thoughts about this.  It will require practice time and I just can’t see myself sitting by the door of the RV and learning chords for the banjo.  People (mostly elderly from what I hear) will think they’re in a scene from “Deliverance”.  I don’t want to frighten old people.

I’m writing this late at night on October 11.  The rain has stopped and it is very dark.  It’s nearly midnight.  I just looked out the front door and noticed a dull light shining at the end of the driveway.  I thought of the moon, but it’s too low to the ground.  Perhaps it’s a reflection of the light in the guest bedroom against the front window of my car.  Maybe someone is out for a late night walk?  Hold on while I check if it’s moved…

Nope.  The dull light is still there.  It’s not our new motion lamp because it would be much brighter.  I wonder…

Well, on second thought, maybe some of you would feel shorted somehow if I didn’t come through with some weird Halloween photos.  I must keep my contract with my readers.  If I say I’m going to do something–I have to do it!

After all, what are the “things that go bump in the night” going to do to me?  Come creeping down my driveway and walk through my dining room wall?  I doubt it.  This isn’t the History Channel.  There are no aliens on my property.  (Although, I have some doubts about our neighbor)–

So, here are a few nutty Halloween customs:



Pretty scary stuff, huh?

I’m going to check on that light again–don’t go away.

I hope I’m wrong, but I think it has moved just a little–only a little–toward the house.  Let me look again…

OMG, it’s nearly passed the short row of cedar trees…just at the end of the walkway to the porch.  Who could this be at this hour?  It’s just a few seconds before midnight.  I feel that I have to type fast to finish this…what’s that?  I hear something on the front porch floor…sounds like footsteps.

I hear a voice.  It’s almost a mumble and I hear saliva helping to slur the words…”You think messing with the dark is funny?  Do you think we laugh when you pretend there’s nothing out there?”

The power is going out in the house.  Mariam has locked the bedroom door.  She’s having a nightmare.  If she’s having a nightmare…then what’s on the porch…at my door?

I must finish this quickly….I….can’t……..