"" Writer's Wanderings

Friday, March 12, 2021

It Pays To Have Friends With Connections

 Anyone who knows us knows we are addicted not only to travel but to Pickleball as well. We meet the nicest people playing at home and in Florida during the winter months. One of our fellow Florida players is married to a boat captain who does tours with his six passenger pontoon boat. We followed our Until-Next-Year lunch with a cruise on his boat. It was so much fun as well as informative. A whole new perspective on Key Largo from the water. 

Captain Larry picked us up from Senor Frijoles after lunch and took us out and across Blackwater Sound to a protected area of mangroves. We went through a channel that is part of the Intercoastal Waterway and then into a smaller channel that led to a small lake in the middle of the mangroves that are actually a part of the Everglades. Captain Larry has a special permit to go into the area with his charters. 

Mangroves are an important part of the eco-system. They reduce erosion, protect water quality, provide a nursery habitat for marine life and provide shelter and nesting areas for a variety of other birds and animals. Their roots that go down into the water make them look like they are standing on stilts. 

Along the way we saw a variety of birds including some really pretty herons and an iguana out for a swim. It was interesting to learn that the channel is where they anchor boats when a hurricane approaches. When Irma came through, the water was blown out of the Bay and the boats rested on the bottom but the mangroves protected them from damage. 

Since all of us onboard new what a manatee looked like, he didn't spend time trying to track one down. We did take a peek at the dolphin pens by the Dolphins Plus at MM102. 

Captain Larry was informative and kept us all chuckling with his humor as well. It was a relaxing and enjoyable time with wonderful friends from our Pickleball group. If you happen to be in Key Largo and are looking for a little relaxing and enjoyable time on the water, you might want to look him up. He does morning tours and some sunset cruises as well. 

Monday, March 01, 2021

So What Is A Leprechaun?

 St. Patrick's Day is approaching. And while I don't resemble a leprechaun in any way, I feel like there must be some kinship since I was born on March 17. It has led to my dislike of the color green however since everyone naturally assumes that the best way to celebrate is to give me something green--green cupcakes, green mints, green cookies, green carnations (the worst!). 

The color green has long been associated with leprechauns although in my research, there are said to be leprechauns that do wear red. Apparently leprechauns belong to the fairy family. Small in size and prone to mischief, They are said to be descendants of Tuatha De Danaan, a group of magical beings that served under the Gaelic goddess Danu. According to legend they lived in Ireland long before humans.

There are no female leprechauns. It is said they are they unwanted fairies, tossed aside by the community. They are described as grouchy, untrusting, solitary creatures. Doesn't sound anything like the guy on the cereal box. 

Pot of gold? Leprechauns are cobblers and I guess there's a lot of money in making shoes. They are also the bankers of the fairy world. who take care of the money supposedly for the other fairies who would just spend it frivolously. And of course there are always stories of people trying to steal a leprechaun's gold. (No wonder they're grouchy.)

They are sneaky little creatures though. One story tells of a man who forced a leprechaun to show him where his gold was buried. The man tied a red scarf around the tree trunk the leprechaun showed him and ran off to get a shovel to dig it up. When he returned to the forest, he found that every tree had a red scarf tied around it.

Ah, the stories abound. But wait! There's a whole other story about where they came from and who they are. Looks like my work here is not done. There's still time to explore before St. Paddy's Day.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Have You Ever Traveled With A Mopsie?

 This is a video of a reading I did from In A Pickle. While it is fiction and carried a bit further than my own experience with a lady and her dog on a plane it is a fun little scene from the book. 

Wednesday, December 09, 2020

Bookcovers - My Designs

 Not only do I enjoy writing my novels, I also enjoy designing the covers for the books. This latest release, The Christmas Prodigal, was fun. I usually use one of my photographs or use my graphic designer to blend my pictures together to create a design. This time I took a new direction. I made a colored pencil drawing of a scene that fits in with the story (pictured here).

Now after the initial drawing was done, I had to take a picture of it and using the editing program in Photo Gallery, I deepened the colors. Amazon self-publishing has a creative program that allows you to add the title and back cover information. I enjoy the creative process, start to finish. 

One of my favorite cover designs is the one I did last year for Letters From Santa. It's a photograph I took of a Santa hat, a letter and a pen (designed and made by my son, Ron). The letter was something I printed from one of the letters in the book. The items sat on a small desk in our foyer. 

My recent Annie Pickels series book covers were designed using a picture I took with my iPhone at the grocery store in the produce section when the pickles and dill were displayed together. Thankfully no one asked me what I was doing
arranging the dill a little more artistically.

The cover of A Pocketful of Christmas is from a picture I took during the winter after a snowfall in our backyard. 

My Casey Stengel series books feature pictures I took as well. I'm sure people on the cruise ship wondered why I was taking a picture of an empty deckchair. The next in the series will feature a photograph of a castle I saw in Ireland. But here I go, putting the cover before the finish of the story. I hope to have booth finished by St Patrick's Day, 2021. 

Monday, November 09, 2020

Mackinac to St. Ignace - The Funky Breakfast Place

 It was time to leave Mackinac Island. We were ready. The weather was definitely turning cold but at least we were happy to find that the wind had eased up for our ferry ride back to St. Ignace on the mainland. There were not a lot of good choices for breakfast on Mackinac partly because it was the end of the season and I'm guessing COVID maybe had something to do with it as well. So, we decided to hold off on breakfast and find a place in St. Ignace after our early morning ferry ride. 

Bob had done a little googling and found a place with a menu that totally outdid any breakfast menu I've ever seen. Granted, a lot of it was variations on pancakes and omelets but it sure looked good to us and it was just up the road from Shepler's ferry dock.

We collected our luggage from the ferry and started off to find Java Joe's--even the name was promising a good cup of coffee. What we found made me laugh at first. It was a tiny shack-like operation that was painted in outrageous colors and designs and motifs. If I had to categorize it, I'd say it was out of the early sixties.

It was just as small on the inside as it appeared outside and maybe even a bit smaller since the tables all had clear plastic shower curtains separating them because of the COVID restrictions. Now that I think of it, it kind of reminds me of some of the places we've been to in the Florida Keys. The floor was painted brightly and all sorts of interesting things hung on the walls. I couldn't explore a whole lot because, well, it was small and of course there was that COVID thing that deterred you from getting close to others.

The menu was in a newspaper format about the size of a neighborhood newspaper and one whole page was nothing but the menu. There were so many choices of pancakes that I had a hard time deciding but finally settled on banana nut pancakes which turned out to be absolutely wonderful. Bob settled on eggs and corn beef hash but was a little disappointed that the hash appeared to be from a can. 

The newspaper contains a story of Java Joe, a family legend which looks a bit suspicious in the telling of it. If you click on the picture and enlarge it a bit you can read the legend.

The other very interesting article was Java Joe's Five Day Road Trip. I had already decided that if we ever came back we needed to explore the mainland area around St. Ignace. Here was an outline for that very thing!

1. In St. Ignace go to Castle Rock, Deer Ranch and Mystery Spot.

2. Take Highway 2 west to Fayette State Park, an old mining town set on a natural harbor. Also see Kitch-iti-kipi, a large spring as well as Garlyn Zoo.

3. A day at Mackinac Island.

4. Whitefish Point Lighthouse and Museum on Lake Superior followed by Tahquamenon Falls and Oswald Bear Park.

5. Cross the bridge from St. Ignace and take the first exit to Fort Michlimackinac and in Mackinaw City see the Lighthouse and Museum and historic Mill Creek. 

Don't know if I would see it all but it would be worth looking into. Not to mention, it would be a chance to try all those other pancakes!

Friday, November 06, 2020

Mackinac Island -- The 8 Mile Bike Ride

 Remember how your parents always said they walked 10 miles to school in the wind and snow and it was uphill both ways? I almost felt like I was living it the morning we decided to take the 8.2 mile bicycle trip around the island. The first two days of out stay on the island had been sunny even though a bit chilly but according to our Weatherbug things were about to change. It assured us though that the rain and wind wouldn't come until after noon. Like all good weather predictors, it was wrong.

After breakfast on the last full day on the island we headed to the bike shop across from our hotel. At the Mackinac Island Bike Shop, we rented two bikes for $11/ hour. We picked this shop because it prorated the rental fee after the first hour. It also offered a free helmet if desired and a basket on the front with a bottle of water. The seats were comfy and adjusted for our heights and with fear and trepidation, I started off.

Thankfully I didn't immediately take a spill and once I got going the pain in my bad knees eased up. I would find though that it was better to keep going than to stop and start up again. Because there wasn't a lot of bike traffic (in the summer, I think they want you to follow the arrows of the bike route) we chose to go clockwise which was actually backwards from the prescribed route. We were concerned with the wind picking up and wanted to get to what we thought would be the lee side before it did.

About a third of the way, we stopped to get some pictures of where it was the British landed July 16 of 1812 just at the start of the war. They took the high ground overlooking Fort Mackinac and frightened the commander, who didn't know the war had begun, into a surrender to save having an Indian massacre. Really. That's basically what the historic marker says.

The clouds were moving in and we began to feel the wind pick up as well as the waves that were pounding an already eroding shoreline. Soon enough we got a light rain, not too bad. I figured we could survive. We had all weather jackets on. I pulled up my hood and we peddled on. Before too long our gentle rain turned steady with the wind whipping it into our faces. 

When it seemed to relax a little, I couldn't resist stopping at a sign that said, "Resting Place of the Ancestors". We rested a moment, took a picture and then we took off again--for me painfully. I told Bob I wasn't stopping again. It turned out we didn't want to stop. 

Just before entering town again, we made a quick stop for a little different view of the Arch Rock. I couldn't decide if I liked the view better from the top or the bottom. Of course at this point when you looked up the rain was hitting you in the face. 

The rain didn't let up. Our "leisurely" bike ride took only an hour and a half. The ride around the island would be a lot more fun in nice weather and with good knees. We asked if there were electric bikes but the answer was that they were not allowed. Hmmm. The golfers got to have their golf carts on the courses. Not fair. But as I said, with good knees and nice weather the ride would be very pleasant and there are lots of places to stop and stay a while. A picnic lunch wouldn't be bad either. 

We spent the rest of the afternoon going in and out of the shops that were still open. Most of them were just your run of the mill souvenir places. One or two had some unusual items but all of the clothing was emblazoned with Mackinac Island. I would have enjoyed buying a nice sweater and just telling everyone I got it there. 

We rest3ed in our room, watched a little TV and then went out to dinner. The weather was definitely turning colder and I was glad we hadn't waited any longer to visit the Island. Next time maybe a little earlier in the Fall.

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