Looking ahead

The weather continues to warm up here in Florida, families are visiting from the North, and winter visitors (snowbirds) are packing up and leaving the neighborhood. For myself, I find I’m giving more and more thoughts to the projects awaiting me once we make the semi-annual trek to upstate New York, as I mentioned in my last post. I’m also giving attention to getting as well-organized as I can so I can get everything done, especially the writing I have in mind. I’m used to thinking of Fall as a busy time of seasonal transition, getting wood cut and stacked, lining up snow tires, etc., and Spring as a (sometimes dreaded) time of house cleaning, but I guess any seasonal change offers an opportunity to get your stuff together and position yourself to do well in the anticipated months ahead of you. Why doesn’t that work out better in real time?

As far as my writing is concerned, I’m thinking of adding some Okeechobee time for my protagonist in my next novel. I had decided to set it in the Florida Keys, but have received encouragement to include this area, Okeechobee, as well. Now, I have to figure out how much. With some improvements in weather and opportunity, I’ve gotten out on my own motorcycle more lately and keep feeling some of the things that would resonate with Bobby Navarro—openness of the landscape, fewer people, abundant wildlife. These are things that Bobby found so important to his being in the Southwest in both Murder on Route 66 and my latest publication, Murder on the Mother Road. It’s funny how you learn about your character as you write. Meanwhile, I still want to enjoy what we have happening here in rural Florida.

Enjoying Rural Florida

Enjoying Rural Florida

 

Labor Day Parades

 

Yesterday morning, about a dozen farm tractors, some new, most vintage, drove past our home in upstate New York. I thought they might be gathering for a parade, but it didn’t turn out that way. I tried to get photos as they drove by, but I was too slow. So, no photos. . ..

Linn, an old tractor no longer manufactured, was built here, and was used not only on farms, but in the logging industry in the Adirondacks. The people who built the Linn helped lift the area out of the horse and buggy era, and that’s what Labor Day celebrates. Linn tractors were impressive machines, with a combination of wheels in the front and tracks for the rear.

I think parades are one of the things that typify village life. They are likely to include a high school band or two, maybe an honor guard of American Legionnaires carrying the national flag, and possibly a few floats as well. Of course, there will be a line of fire trucks, and participants will toss candy to the kids lining the sidewalks.

In a small city in Connecticut, a bunch of people decided to do their own parade when the official one was cancelled. They got out on bicycles, and carried boom boxes (portable radio/tape players) on their shoulders. It went over so well, it became an annual tradition. For our village, I think a string of farm tractors is ideal.

Would my series protagonist, Bobby Navarro, be likely to participate in a parade? I doubt it. I don’t think I’ve ever read a murder mystery in which the protagonist takes part in a parade. But, maybe if there were fifty other Harley riders in it, he might. What do you think?

Bobby Navarro is on the road again

It’s springtime in Florida. I can tell. It’s warming up, people are flooding the airports trying to get here, and daylight savings is back. But, I can also tell by those mysterious inner workings that start me thinking more heavily about the projects I have planned when we get back to our northern cottage in upstate New York and all the things I want to do and enjoy before we leave here. High on the to-do list, both here and back North, is writing. I want to complete the manuscript for the third novel in my series featuring Bobby Navarro. That’s right, number two in the series, Murder on the Mother Road, at long last is completed and available through Amazon. The story is set in Arizona this time. Bobby discovers a body in the trunk of a parked car, meets an eccentric who claims to know who the killer is, decides to join a Bible study group at the Holiness Pentecostal Church of the Brethren, run by ex-motorcycle gang members, in order to chase down suspects and suspicions so he can help a police officer he had a crush on in high school determine whether the story told to Bobby is true. In other words, Bobby Navarro never tires of taking his motorcycle out on the highway, and never fails to run into a few problems and adventures when he does.

Outdoor living

Today was predicted to be steady rain, heavy at times. We’ve had rain in the forecast quite a bit lately, but the days have turned out to be absolutely beautiful. This has meant dropping any competing plans wherever possible and working in the yard. Spring yard work is usually a narrow window of opportunity. Naturally, when it wasn’t raining when I got up this morning, I decided to see how much I could get done before it started.

It started raining almost as soon as I got outside, so naturally I told myself I’d work until it started raining hard. In the meantime, I was laying weed prevention cloth in the flower beds and covering the area with mulch. That meant I repeatedly decided I’d just finish the section of cloth I had laid, or work until I’d dumped the rest if the bag of mulch I’d just opened. As you can guess, I was pretty wet by the time I went inside for a late breakfast.

Actually, being out in the rain can be great if you’re dressed for it. I’ve many memories of hiking in the rain because I wanted the exercise and fresh air. I suppose that would explain why I spent so much time after breakfast this morning looking out the windows. Spring rains, they can be beautiful.

When I think of loving the outdoors, I usually think of hiking, biking, canoeing, skiing, sailing, and so on. It occurred to me that working in the yard, or on the outside of the house, can be compelling as well. It usually beats taking up the long list of indoor projects I have piled up and waiting. Even when it’s raining. Besides, the sourdough pancakes I made for breakfast tasted extra good for having done the work in the yard.

 

 

 

 

A Plan for Healthy Eating

Last posting I talked about the snowbirds leaving the south and looking ahead to our garden and all the good eats it will provide. Well, this post is from out cottage in upstate New York. We just accomplished our semi-annual migration ourselves, at least the trip north. We are still in the throes of unpacking and settling in. One of the things our moves spur us to take a look at is all the stuff we really shouldn’t be carrying back and forth. We also take a look at things we haven’t used and probably can get rid of. But that’s not all. Like New Years, our semi-annual trek encourages us to give consideration to what we are eating. You see, we tend to work hard,  exercise less, and eat things we shouldn’t because of end-of-season get-togethers, a need to boost our energy, and because eating on the road is hardly diet-friendly. Invariably, the change of season move results in a weight gain–followed by a renewed resolve to eat a healthier diet. So this is it, the semi-annual resolve.

Actually, I enjoy most of the process. New beginnings can be fun. The splurges leading up to a need for a new beginning can be fun as well, although I keep telling myself the better answer is learning how to better limit those splurges. Forever an optimist, I even enjoy the thought I might succeed in this endeavor, after all, I think I am learning how to eat healthier and enjoy it.

I’ve tried an assortment of diets, most of which pointed out that the plan was to change the way we eat, not just lose a few pounds. They generally worked to lose some weight, but did not become a life-style change. I love good bread. Why not? I’m a sourdough aficionado. I love pasta. I love baking.  I love eating. I love the foods I associate with cold weather, wood stoves and campfires. So adopting a diet plan that substitutes artificial flavors for real food hasn’t worked, no matter what the form. That leaves limiting caloric intake, which has been a problem too. Did I say I love eating?

On the other hand, all has not been for nothing. I’ve made little gains, no pun  intended. I manage to keep some of the weight off. I have also made some changes in what I actually enjoy eating, and what I can cut way down. Bread, good bread, is something I won’t give up at this point. I have discovered I don’t need to eat nearly as much of it as I assumed was essential. For example, I used to think two pieces of toast with breakfast was a minimum. Now, I realize I don’t need toast at all a good part of the time. I’ve discovered that savory, old fashioned oatmeal is a delicious compliment to a breakfast egg. That’s right–an egg. An extra large egg, but just one nevertheless. Savory oatmeal is also an excellent alternative to rice or potatoes as well. In a future post, I’ll share my recipe for cooking and flavoring it. I’ve also learned I don’t need as much meat as I used to think I did. This even helps eat a little healthier on the road. A SMALL steak and a big salad is terrific after a long day of driving. Of course, it helps when you love oil and vinegar as a salad dressing.

So, my spring resolve is to exercise more, eat a little less, and eat better without giving up my love of good food. I’m almost eager to begin. Oh, did I mention. . .? The biggest contributor to my seasonal weight gain may have something to do with enjoying a good martini before dinner and wine with. Oh well, nothing ventured, nothing gained–or, in this case, nothing ventured, too much gained.

Spring is the time to….

In Florida, you know spring is here because all the snowbirds pack up and leave for the north. It always seems that we have left too early when we get close to our northern home and find the trees still bare, the hillsides wet and brown, and the skies overcast. We’ve seen it snow three inches in the middle of May, though, so picking the time to return north becomes more a matter of appointments and commitments than weather.

Once back however, attention turns to all the work to be done, the flowers that have pushed through the snow, muck, mud, or whatever to make their annual appearance, and the condition of the raised beds that will produce the summer’s yield of vegetables. This has truly been a joy. We’ve become thoroughly spoiled on fresh-picked lettuce, squash, beans, tomatoes and cucumbers. I love salads, and I especially love garden-fresh salads.

Last summer we had so many cucumbers we made pickles, and we are still enjoying them. What a treat! We also canned applesauce and made strawberry jam. I can easily see why so many people are turning to growing and preserving their own foods these days. It’s a healthier way to eat and a tremendously satisfying way to get in touch with something that seems real and natural. There is so much information available on the net for cooking ideas, recipes, and techniques. It seems a logical extension to taking cooking to the next level of getting back to basics and grow and preserve some of the food we eat.

My niece Reseda used to write me about the foods she had grown and preserved at her home in Washington. I really loved getting those letters. We don’t grow nearly as much as she did, but we love the results of our garden nevertheless. So, a toast to all the folks who are adding the joy of fresh, home-grown vegetables to their culinary lives. I can’t wait for the first of our garden to find its way to the table.

By the way, I had another reason for this blog in addition to the season and the annual migration of self and neighbors. I was checking through my old blog and clicking on the follower icons. One of them turned out to be that niece’s oldest daughter. Talk about a special discovery! So with all the good thoughts of summer meals on the back deck, fresh salads from our own garden, and the simple joys of getting back to basics, this blog is to Reseda and Julie. Julie, I’m so delighted to discover you have been a follower.

New Web Site – New Blog

Welcome to my new blog site – Glenn Nilson

Recently, I decided to combine my blog with my web site. I’m hoping it will be easier having everything together. I intend to keep my blog posts along the same theme as before: love of the outdoors, love of motorcycle riding, camping, cooking, and sourdough. In addition, just as I started my former blog as a means of sharing my book promotion tour along Route 66, on occasion I intend to use this blog to talk about my writing interests and activity.

I appreciate your visit to my new blog, and hope you’ll take a moment to check out my whole web site. As the weather warms up I’m already looking forward to what the outdoors has to offer this summer. I hope you’ll join me.

Glenn Nilson

Sacred Campfire

I understand and respect the need to protect our forests and open areas. It means the guttering flame of a small camp stove may become more symbolic of experiences for some than the smells of wood smoke and the glowing embers of a campfire. Hopefully, we will be able to enjoy campfires most places we take in on treks we take in the future.

I like to keep my campfires small. It’s easier to find adequate wood for a small fire, uses less of it, and you can huddle over, or near, a small fire to cook or warm up. I think small fires are less likely to get away from a camper and ignite a forest fire. On many hikes and cross-country ski runs, I’ve built a small fire to heat water for tea or soup. With small, dead twigs, it’s easy to build a quick fire, and just as easy to handle the remains when finished.

I understand fire was (and probably still is) considered a sacred gift to Native Americans. It’s hard to think of a more valuable one. I’ve been camping in wet, snow-slushy weather trying to get damp wood to provide a campfire and down to one match. Not often-but it happened once. That fire was greatly appreciated when I achieved it. Which brings me to thoughts about fire-building materials.

I grew up using wooden matches that would ignite when struck on almost anything, including my jeans. I learned to dip the heads in my mother’s clear fingernail polish to make the waterproof. The polish also the matchsticks a little extra zip. Now there are propane torches for lighting barbecues. I wonder how often they are also taken into the back country to start a fire? I have one of those survival bars you can scrape with a knife blade to produce a generous shower of sparks for starting fires. You can also use the knife to shave off bits of magnesium to use as tender. It works well. At the very least, it’s a terrific backup.

You know what also works well for tender? The cotton wads you can find in medicine bottles ignites very readily with a spark. Cotton is certainly light and packs down easily. I think it’s another must for backup fire-making material. If you are familiar with milkweed, the dried pods and fluff ignite extremely well from a spark. Of course, the cotton or milkweed pod is pretty much part of an ignition system. For the rest, you need slivers and small sticks of wood, of course, and if you’re in an area with birch trees, the resinous bark of birches is fabulous as starting tender.

I love the smell of birch wood burning, but I love the smell of cedar even more. I have many memories of evenings cooking on a campfire, and hours spent staring into the glowing embers while talking with a companion. I look forward to my next campfire, and hope you share my love for them. Thanks for visiting my blog. I’m sorry not to have any photos to share. I have been have been unable to insert them into my blog for some reason.