Sunday, March 29, 2009


Home in PC
75*, raining for 3 hours

We awoke to the sound of thunder this morning and it was welcome. It has been several months since Charlotte County received significant rainfall. We have taken on more than an inch already this morning. It's good news/bad news for the new grass. The front will get a deep watering and save us money from having to use the house water. The seed out back, which was dropped one week ago, has been moved all around from the large puddling. There's nothing we can do about it so I'm trying not to get upset. On the bright side, a few areas out back already had germinated and show little patches of new grass blades.

The tides have been back to their warm season highs this week. Several times the water touched the bottom of the dock. I pulled the boat off the lift on Friday, tied up to the dock and did some maintenance on the lift cables. Since I put the boat in the water I started the engine and ran it for 15 minutes to keep our one remaining battery charged (other one died but budget restrictions have prevented replacement). While I idled the engine I washed the boat. It was well overdue with lots of crap in the cockpit. After putting the boat back on the lift I hooked the freshwater hose up and flushed the saltwater from the engine for 10 minutes. While doing the flush I cast a fishing line into the canal and finally caught something worthwhile; a lure I had snagged and lost across the canal six months ago. My old line, swivel and rattletrap lure where still in tact.

Last week I ran 5 miles on Monday and Tuesday both, but not since then. I plan on getting back on schedule tomorrow. I downloaded a plan to begin a 12 week training program for a half marathon (13.1 miles).

Saturday night we got together with Rolando and Kathy next door and grilled chicken kabobs then watched a movie together. At 10:30 PM there was a knock on their door. A woman was frantically telling us about the Charlotte County watering restrictions and she was having a fit that Rolando's sprinklers were running. I knew they weren't supposed to be on so I pretended to be shocked and thanked her and told her we'd shut them down right away. I had warned Rolando and he thought he had adjusted his timer to water only on Wednesday night. As she left, I realized who she was; the water meter reader who lives down our street. We all found her actions pretty brazen, knocking a strangers door late at night to tell us to turn off our water, but considering the current water restrictions carry a $250 fine if you are caught watering on a day other than your designated one day a week, Rolando will be lucky if she doesn't turn him in.

I'm amazed that Phoenix gets an average of 9" of annual rainfall in the middle of the desert and has no water restrictions. Sub-tropical Florida gets 49" of rain a year and restricts landscape watering to one day per week. They used to allow hand watering everyday but under the current stage 3 restrictions, you can't even do that. We get a pass for a couple of weeks after installing a new lawn but we have to be very careful about avoiding the fines.

The rain has now stopped and the forecast is for partly cloudy skies the rest of the day.

Friday, March 27, 2009


Home in Port Charlotte
66*, 73% humidity

After spending the week in Palm Beach County I made it home last night. It was a good and productive business trip and I will spend the day today writing reports to document my findings.

Kathy drove over to join me on Wednesday and we met her high school friend, Sharon, along with Sharon's husband, Merle, and a couple of their friends for dinner. It was a great group of people and our time together was great. The guys talked of sports and the girls talked of travel and of course Sharon and Kathy talked of memories from their teen years. It was so wonderful for Kathy to see an old friend and for us both to make new ones.

Sunday, March 22, 2009


Click on pictures for full screen

January 19, after roto-tilling the yard.

January 19...before seed

March 19 after one month of seed

March 19, one month after dropping seeds
Remember, we have no sprinkler system.
Kathy and I did all the watering by hand

Newly planted Croton

This new croton sits on the opposite side of the garage door.
click for a better view

Today, before dropping seed out back

Another view of the back yard before seeding.
The dock and canal are to the right, behind the trees and hedge

Home in Port Charlotte
High of 80, beautiful days

Spring has sprung in Southwest Florida. The weather has been perfect. Clear cool mornings, warm sunny afternoons. We haven't had heat or A/C on since the freezes in early January. The front yard grass has come in very nicely and we seeded the back yard today. I actually mowed the front yesterday, then fertilized today. Many, many neighbors are driving by or walking by and complimenting us on the lawn renovation. Above are some before and after pictures, as well as some new shrubs we planted in front of the house. I also included pics of the backyard as it sits today, freshly seeded.

Kathy found a leaky pipe in the kitchen sink and upon further investigation we determined the sink strainer had coroded and sprung a leak. We considered filing a home warranty claim but after consulting my handy dandy DIY home repair books my Dad gave me, I headed for Home Depot and got what I needed for less than fifteen bucks. The home warranty co-pay would have been fifty. The job should have been less than an hour but nothing that starts with DIY ever comes easy for me. Long story short, the tail pipe flange was too thick and couldn't be secured to the strainer. After going back to Home Depot and exhanging the plastic tail pipe for a stainless one, the job was complete. Just call me Bob the Builder. NOT!

Friday night, after we had come home from the Keys, Kathy and Stephanie and I started up the boat and took her out for a little canal cruise just to stretch her legs. It felt good to be out there, even though it was for less than an hour. I flushed the motor out, just like I'm supposed to. I hope Rolando and I can go fishing soon. It's been since early January that we went.

Stephanie had a great time on Spring break and she's now back in Phoenix. She and Billy will return to Florida after school gets out and stay a few more weeks with us.

I leave Monday night for Palm Beach and three days on the road. Kathy is going to drive over and join me on Wednesday and we will meet an old high school friend of hers for dinner at RA, the sushi bar.

Friday, March 20, 2009


Islamorada, Key Largo and the Florida Keys

Sunday, March 15, 2009


Sunday I completed my first 12K, which also equalled my longest run distance yet at 7.46. miles. I triumphed by not walking except for a few steps at the water stations. I fell short of my goal of beating a 12 minute per mile pace, coming in at 12:20 overall, 1 hour, 31 minutes, 14 seconds. One thing I had to do different, which may have contributed to slowing me was that I carried a fanny pack on my waist, by neccesity. This race was linear in nature; almost a straight line from start to finish. You had to park at the start line, run the 7.46 across the peninsula and then take a shuttle bus when you were ready to go back to your car. My running shorts don't have pockets so I fanny packed my truck keys, a gel pack, a power bar and my blackberry so I could find my wife, who was waiting at the finish line. I won't say that it really got in my way, but I'm sure those couple of extra pounds on my waist didn't help. Overall I felt good running but had hoped to sprint the last .46. I went for it but the sprint only lasted about .20 until I slowed back down in an effort to finish without a walk.

The course had some slight inclines and downhills (very slight). The starting weather was 70 degrees and 97 percent humidilty. The weather was not a factor in my mind. The post race party left a bit to be desired in the food category, but there was a good band and the sights of the Bay (Tampa Bay) were beautiful. We made the hour drive home, hit the hot tub and then napped for 2 hours. This one definately took the life out of me. My next scheduled event is the Mercedes Benz Miami Corporate Run (5K) on April 30, running for my company team. Kathy will join the team as a walker. I now need to find a 15K to continue my quest for endurance, building toward the Miami Marathon in January of 2010.

Monday Stephanie, Kathy and I will all head for Islamorada and the Florida Keys. I'll work during the day and the girls will lounge on the Atlantic beach, in the Florida sun. Each evening we will get together for a nice dinner.

NOTE: Sunday night, for the first time we saw the launch of the Space Shuttle, with our naked eyes. It was pretty cool, with perfectly clear skies right at dusk.

Saturday, March 14, 2009


click to enlarge and see the race route, from Bay to Bay
the white circle above I-175 is the Rays baseball stadium, Tropicana Field
Home in Port Charlotte
Low 61, High 81
I can't recall being so relieved to see a weekend in some time. I've been so busy since the day I left for DC, I never had a chance to recover until now. I slept in until 7AM and got up to walk the yard to inspect the grass coming in nicely. My daughter, Stephanie (16) is arriving on a flight today from Phoenix and she will spend spring break with us for a week. We are looking forward to hosting her, as we haven't seen her since September.
Tomorrow I will run in the Bay to Bay 12K in St. Petersburg. Kathy and I will drive to St. Pete this afternoon, pick up my race packet, check into the Hilton Bayfront, get some dinner, then drive 30 minutes to Tampa to pick up Stephy at 9:20PM. Sunday we will get up early, enjoy breakfast at the hotel at 6AM and head to the finish line. We'll park the truck and I'll take a shuttle to the start line, while the girls enjoy the sights of the pier and wait for me to finish. There's a post race party on the pier and it should be a great time for all of us.
The above photograph shows the race route, in the white line with red dots, from the west end of the St. Pete peninsula, running due east for 90% of the race. The last bit goes north and then east to the pier for a total of 7.46 miles. This will mark a new personal best for me. I finished my 10K in January in 1:14:06, with an average pace of 11:56 per mile. My goal is to beat that average pace, finishing the distance in less than 90 minutes. Wish me luck! If you want to see the race results as soon as they post them, go to
Kathy and Stephy will take pictures to share the day, so check back on Sunday night.

Thursday, March 12, 2009


Home in PC
High of 84

I want to drop a quick note to let you all know I'm fine, just extremely busy with work. I spent the day yesterday, from 8AM to midnight preparing part one of a two day course I am presenting at the Venice branch today and tomorrow. When I get done teaching today, it's right back to the prep room to get ready for Friday. I haven't taught this OSHA 10 hour class since last June and on that occassion, I was riding the second chair.

Tuesday I was up at 4AM to make a quick turn around from home to Ft. Pierce in the morning, Stuart in the afternoon, returning home at 7PM. Monday I managed to squeeze in a 3.4 mile run. I have my 12K on Sunday in St. Pete. My daughter Stephanie is coming in Saturday for spring break.

There's the bell; gotta go.

Friday, March 6, 2009


Washington Dulles International Airport
5:43 AM; 40*

"It's been a hard days night. And I've been working like a dog. It's been a hard days night. I should be sleeping like a log."

I'm headed home to Florida after a 5 day trip to DC. It wasn't a bad trip but last night was a pretty rough night. I didn't feel good in the afternoon yesterday, with a stomach ache, so when I arrived at my hotel about two o'clock I immediately laid down and took a two hour nap. I woke up feeling better but not great. I had no interest in leaving my hotel to eat so, for the first time in a long time, I ordered a pizza to be delivered about 6. I knew enough to order caffiene free diet coke. Unfortunately they delivered regular diet coke and I drank two of them. That was a big mistake.

Ever since I changed my diet last August, I substantially cut down on soda and caffiene. I can't remember the last time I had caffiene in the evening. I have coffee most every morning but sometimes I only need one cup. My vigorous exercise routine gives me plenty of natural energy.

I enjoyed the pizza (Papa Johns has whole wheat crust), watched American Idol and, knowing I had a 4 AM wakeup call, I went to bed at 9PM. I fell asleep easily enough but something jarred me awake at 12:30 AM. I very nearly thought I was about to puke but that quickly subsided so I'm not sure if I had imagined the feeling. Nonetheless, I was wide awake. I lay in bed until 1AM and thought if I got up to read for a while, I'd get tired again and go to sleep. I tried to lay down again at 3AM but the damage was done. I was up. I departed the hotel at 430, returned the rental car and cleared security at Dulles at 5:15. I got to the gate two hours before my departure.

I've been very lucky to limit most of my business travel to driving around South Florida, while some of my colleagues spend their work life in airports. My company is no different than others, in that the economy is forcing us to do more with less, so my luck has run out. The Washington DC metro area will be an assigned part of my territory for at least the next year. My trip here this week went well but I will be need to make regular, frequent, visits here to do what I do. The branches here are filled with good people who haven't exactly received the best service from my predassesor and as a result, there's a bit of cleanup to do. I plan on spending the first week of every month here for a few months. I don't mind it. At least I saw the end of winter this week. My wife has been very understanding of the demands my schedule puts on me and I'm grateful for that.

"But when I get home to you and find the things that you do, you know I'll feel alright."

Wednesday, March 4, 2009


Oxen Hill, MD
17 degrees at wakeup; going to a high of 33

I visited two branch offices yesterday, putting about 100 miles on the rental. The next two days will be only one per day. The snow had stopped falling before I arrived but it's everywhere on the ground. The thaw out will continue today, as blue skies and sunshine melt away the winter wonderland. After work today I am scheduled to run 5 miles. I will likely get on a treadmill for the first time in a while. The only thing worse than running strange streets is having ice patches along the route.

Kathy says the grass seeds at home continue to germinate into baby grass blades. I can't wait to see how it looks when I get home. It's our own little field of dreams.

Monday, March 2, 2009


Chantily, VA
Low tonight of 12*

I flew out of Tampa to Washington DC for a week of work travel. There's snow everywhere. Fortunately, the worst of the winter storm is supposed to be behind us. It will get up to 33 Tuesday, and close to 40 by Wednesday. Those are highs, for those of you counting at home.

Kathy stayed home to water our grass seedlings, which are popping up all over the yard.

As I go to bed tonight, my thoughts and prayers are with the 3 men lost at sea near Tampa. May God keep them safe and bring them home; be it back to Earth or in Heaven.