Wednesday, September 30, 2009


our guest bedroom before

guest bedroom after

master bath before

master bath after

Lacking a crystal ball, I look to the future behind the clouds on Crystal Drive in Fort Myers
Home in Port Charlotte
72* at wakeup, going to a high of 87
When I had my eyes checked last spring for a pair of prescription safety glasses the doctor warned my that would be the last pair of single vision lenses I ever buy. She was so right.
Kathy and I recently purchased wood blinds for the house, replacing some very outdated window treatments and some that were just too embarrassing to even photograph. It gave the entire house a whole new look and we are very pleased with the expense. Installing them was fairly easy after I figured out how to change to a concrete drill bit. But trimming up the length of the blinds proved to be the biggest challenge.
For the past few months I have had to remove my glasses or peer down over the top of them in order to read magazines or small print on receipts. Now, even that doesn't work. The Levelor blinds have the tiniest of strings which have to be cut and re-inserted through the tiniest of holes in order to trim them out. Once in a while I would see the string and sometimes it would just not be there. Wow, talk about frustrating. Kathy's eyes went bad a few years back. I used to laugh when she would ask me to read the menu to her at restaurants. She said my day would come. It's here. Move over old people, I'd like to take a seat at your table . . .that is, if I can see the chair.
I am starting my workday today in Bradenton at one of my golf courses. After a couple of hours there I will drive to Longboat Key to teach a supervisors class on dealing with drugs/alcohol in the workplace. I will then head home, pick up Kathy and drive 4 hours the Keys for the remainder of the week. As usual, I will go to work each morning and she will enjoy the oceanfront resort. We are staying over to Saturday and hope to find a sunset sailboat cruise on Friday night.
My October is going to be crazy. I recently was assigned new territory in San Juan, Puerto Rico and will visit there for a few days. I also have a 7 day trip to Washington, DC. My usual travels to the Atlantic coast of Florida await. Kathy's niece is getting married in DeBary in the middle of the month, so that will be a fun trip to see her brother and family but it's a 4-5 hour drive north. Between airlines and roads I should exceed 6,000 miles in the month of October.
The construction slowdown continues and this forces our company to continue to do more of our existing work with less people. In the coming months my regional territory will be expanded to include 3 more branches in Virginia Beach, Richmond and Williamsburg. I'm also picking up 3 branches in Pennsylvania, one in New Jersey and one in Boston. I will also get about 7 more golf courses in those areas, although they should shut down for the snow season.
Don't feel bad for me. I am grateful to still be employed. These areas were formerly covered by a good friend and colleague. These are such uncertain times. I don't know what the future holds but even if I had a crystal ball, I'm sure my eyes wouldn't be able to read it anyway.

Saturday, September 19, 2009


Click on pictures for full screen image

First light of the day; idling through our canal toward the harbor

As we exit the canal system this is our first view of Charlotte Harbor

My new best buddy and fellow Cardinals fan, Chuck

Now here's something you don't see everyday. As I took their picture he hollered out, "We're going to cut the sea grass!"

I never get tired of shots like this. Saturday afternoon returning home alone, after dropping Chuck off on another boat.

With the sun at his back and the wind in his face, it's just him and the wheel.
He wouldn't take a million for the way it makes him feel.
Home in PC
Nice night, going to a low of 76.
Oops I did it again. After a fun day out with Cardinals Chuck I dropped him off at the Barrier Island of Gasparilla and I headed back home to meet the rising tide. I had to get to the short bridge by 1PM to beat the tide. I was 5 minutes late. Normally I have a 10-15 minute window to get through but today the tides were not behind me. I couldn't make the bridge for the 3rd time in 18 months. If I was 5 minutes earlier or my boat was 2" shorter.... .
I backed away from the bridge; less than a mile from my home dock. I idled up the Pellam canal and looked for a new friend. I spotted a man working in his yard and he graciously helped me tie up to his empty dock. His name was Ed and he built his house in Port Charlotte in 1981. He and his wife Martha have been married for 67 years. My own young bride came to meet me and our new friends invited us in for a refreshment. Kathy and I were both stunned when Ed revealed he was 93. Not only does he look great, he works in his double lot yard, still drives, pulls a trailer with his own fishing boat and spends several days a week fishing alone. He was some kinda guy. He shared with us that he was from the Houston area (born in 1916) and that he spent 41 years working for Aamaco/BP oil. He said he was recruited to the company to play on their corporate basketball team and ended up making a life there. He retired from BP while stationed in Cairo, Egypt, and they settled in Port Charlotte. We have met the nicest people in this town.
Saturday evening we had our neighbor from NY, Ronnie, over for dinner. He and his wife Carol live 3 doors down from us. He's retired but she still works. They spend a few weeks at a time here, several times a year, and the rest of the time on Long Island, NY.
At 10:30PM Ronnie and I headed over to the boat and brought her home without incident. The maintenance job I did seems okay, as the boat ran great all day. I put 64 miles on 25 gallons of fuel. After having awoke at 3AM Saturday, it's now 11:40PM Saturday and I am ready for a good nights sleep.


Home in Port Charlotte
76* at 4:30 AM

I woke up at 3AM, stayed in bed trying to fall back asleep until 4 and finally gave up. I get this way sometimes when I know I'm taking the boat out. I don't know if it's excitement or nerves or a combination of the two. Nonetheless I turned the coffee pot on so my day is officially started.

Yesterday evening I took the boat off the lift for the first time since July. I wanted to take a little test run to make sure all is well after the big annual maintenance project. Everything seems a-ok.

I'm launching at 7AM and will return about 1PM. My Cardinals buddy and neighbor Chuck is coming out with me and we are supposed to meet up with his wife, Ruthie, and some of their friends on another boat. I will bring a couple of rods with me but this will mostly be a cruise around Charlotte Harbor and not so much of a fishing venture.

Above are some photographs I shot during my last business trip to Fort Pierce. The water shots were taking from my dinner table at a restuarant called Chuck's Seafood (no connection to my buddy Chuck). The unassuming name is deceiving; this is a really nice place. It has been at the same location, where the Indian River meets the Fort Pierce Inlet along the Atlantic Intercoastal Waterway, since 1961. They just recently completed their first renovation since opening and now sport a new dining room and outdoor patio.

For dinner I had parmesean crusted snapper served over linguine alfredo (24.95), plus a bowl of conch chowder (4). It was a great meal and Chuck's is a great place.

The turtles were hanging out in one of the Fort Pierce neighborhoods where I worked on Thursday. They reminded me of a turtle we had as a child named Magoo.
I will take some pictures of my boat trip today and post them tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


On the road, Palm Beach Gardens
85* and dry. Nice night.

I found out today that the Company has cancelled my October meeting so I won't be coming to California or Arizona next month. Kathy and had been looking forward to seeing everyone but it will have to wait until Spring.

We do have lots of upcoming plans here so the time being given back to us will help. Kathy's niece is getting married in October, which is a 3 day trip to DeBary (between Orlando and Daytona). I have do a week in DC in October. Our boat mates from Phoenix, Nolan and Nancy, and my daughters from AZ each come in November seperate weeks.

In May my youngest boy, Billy graduates 8th grade on the same week my daughter Stephanie graduates high school. That's a trip we won't miss for sure.

I just got done talking to Billy, telling him I won't be there to see his Pop Warner game in October. He was understanding but man, I hated having to disappoint him. His brother, my oldest, Ryan, goes to his games and hangs out with Billy on a regular basis. They are good brothers and becoming good friends. I am grateful for Ryan being a good influence. In these tough financial times I'm sure many parents are working far from their children. Everyone should be so lucky to have someone looking out for their kids.

As I wrote here a few weeks ago, Ryan now works for my company. I got a very nice email from the office manager in Phoenix complimenting what a great employee he is and what a fine young man he is. I knew that but it's nice to know others feel the same.

Sunday, September 13, 2009


Click on pictures for full screen image

The dinghy enabled me to do my own annual boat service

Here I replace the drive oil with 75w90 synthetic gear lube

That little bite out of the exhaust was there when we bought her

Smile and guess which one of these sacrificial zinc anodes is new

After greasing the prop shaft, the duo props went back on and I was done.
I even replaced the Volvo decals all around the drive

On Sunday, 9/13 we awoke to a beautiful calm and clear morning

24 hours of rain gave way to a bright clear sky, reflected in our backyard canal

The low boy loading deck was underwater with a very high morning tide

Looking north up our canal on Sunday, 9/13/09

Minnows enjoyed swimming atop the dock for once

Home in Port Charlotte
High of 88, rainy weekend

We just got back from our friends' house, Chuck and Ruthie, where we spent the first of many football Sundays to come. Our Cardinals came out flat on offense and dropped their home opener but the defense gave hope for the season.

Yesterday we received 2.75 inches of rain and the tide was much higher than expected. The low dock has a low boy loading deck and it was under water for a few hours this morning. I took advantage of the chance to fish for a while but the only fish I saw were the minnows pictured above.

Friday I fertilized the grass and got rain all night Friday and all day Saturday; just what you want in the days after dropping nitrogen on the turf. That should carry me through the end of the year and keep me mowing twice a week through October. The thick green grass is worth the added labor.

I put the final boat maintenance pics on here for all to enjoy. I am pretty pleased with how the project came out but next time I will spend more effort removing old paint. Live and learn, they say.

Money Magazine has come out with their best of 2009 and named the number 1 place to retire as Port Charlotte, Florida. How about that? The article cites our affordable waterfront living, easy access to a wide network of healthcare providers, recreational opportunities and of course Charlotte Harbor. So now I'm in the best place to retire. . . all I have to do is figure out a way to actually retire someday.
Hurricane Fred made it to a Cat 3 before he fizzled out. There is still some remnants of Fred out near the Cape Verde Islands (3,000 miles away) and those remains are mixing with a new tropical wave. It will be interesting to see if it reorganizes and gets a new name or if they call it Fred II, the return!
The coming work week will take me east across the peninsula to Broward County (Delray Beach)Palm Beach County (West Palm) and then north to Fort Pierce. I will leave Monday and return home on Thursday.

Monday, September 7, 2009


Labor Day
Home in Port Charlotte
High of 91, humid

Hey all, remember me? This is the longest I've ever gone without writing a new chapter. My work schedule was really tough in August, travelling 4 days a week, all 4 weeks of the month, ending with a 6 day trip to DC. I spent all of last week trying to catch up the paperwork from those travels and fortunately I did. In the coming week I will be working the Gulf coast and sleeping in my own bed, nightly, for another entire week.

The boat project is 99% complete. I finished painting, applied new decals, changed the gear oil (transmission fluid), greased and reapplied the props and installed one of two new sacrificial zinc anodes. The second of the two has to wait until I get the stainless steel screw that my vendor shorted me. It should be here tomorrow. I'm still trying to burn off the old ethanol fuel that was separating water in my tank and causing me problems getting the boat to get up on a plane. I have about an 8th of tank left, which is about 16 gallons. I don't really know what's going to happen when the fuel is gone and there's still water left. I just keep pulling my fuel filter and dumping the water out as I burn it off. At idle, the boat runs great but the real test will be when the fuel is gone. I found a station where I can buy non-ethanol fuel on the street and I plan on switching. It costs about 30 cents a gallon more than the regular unleaded I have been buying but in the end it will be worth it. It's also 91 octane, which is better than the 87 I have been buying at Sam's Club.

I caught a Redfish on the back yard dock the other day. It was so small, I didn't bother taking a picture of it but it was cool since it was my first time catching one of those. It is also known by the name Red Drum or in some parts, Spottail Bass. Everyone here calls them Redfish or Reds. Uncaught, they can live up to 60 years. You'll be happy to know that I successfully released my little fella. He hit a gold spoon lure on my first cast. On my second cast I stuck that lure in Bob's tree next door. Kathy and I spent about 30 minutes, launching the dinghy, armed with a telescoping tree pole pruner to get that lure back. I can't lose a lucky lure like that, right? I rarely catch fish on artificial bait so I was sure proud of this one. Of course, fifteen minutes later I snagged it on an underwater tree or root or something and lost it forever. I'm telling you, I can't make up stories like this.

During my absence from the blog, we had another named storm come and go. TS Erika was a rain event that hung around Puerto Rico for a few days and then broke up. We are supposed to get remnants of her rain later this week. Today, tropical depression #7 has formed off Africa's Cape Verde Islands. It is expected to become Tropical Storm Fred tonight or tomorrow.

Also, since we last met on the blog I have managed to turn another year older. Thanks to all of you who sent nice wishes, emails and cards. The time goes by faster, with each passing year. For the most part things get better for me, as well. Like everyone else, this economy scares the crap out of me but I sleep better knowing I can pay my bills every month. I have a loving wife and lots of great family, including both of my parents, brothers and sisters, children and a fourth generation adding our family tree . I have a great job where I feel appreciated on a regular basis. I have a house on the water and every once in a while, there's money to buy fuel and go boating. What more can a skipper ask for? Happy Birthday to me. Everyday I get just what need; another day.