I left Hibbing early, and in the snow, last Thursday morning. It was treacherous up to Highway 53 and not much better to Duluth. From Superior and through Wisconsin to Eau Claire it had one clear lane but when I got to I-90 it was smooth sailing–relatively speaking. I had entered the ‘trucker’s world’ and would be in their realm through Wisconsin, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, and . . . finally the Florida panhandle. I can remember when truckers were probably the best and most courteous drivers on the highway. But that was long ago. I’ve read about the shortage of truckers and how easy it has become to get licensed–demand and supply–so, the pay is quite attractive. But, I’m sorry to say, the caliber of drivers in this new generation drive like they’re on speed or some chemical uplift . . . or, it’s possible, a very tight schedule. Anyhow, three days later I had survived the ‘trucker’s world’ and arrived in Naples. Thank God! I don’t want to make that trip again.
Upon arrival, I found a shrub I’d planted two years ago had grown to proportions that I could never have imagined.
The Sea Grape bush had risen to the top of my house and nearly across my driveway. That would be project #1 after unloading. All looked good inside (my grandson had put out the patio furniture, etc. during his Thanksgiving break) but out behind the place where my patio where tropical perennials had graced the yard I say a weedbed that I could get lost in. I love flowers and took such great pride in my garden that I was heartbroken to see that most had been strangled to death. Project #2 would be to try and find the survivors.
Those first two days in Florida were hot and humid, as expected, but there would be no peace of mind until I’d done my chores–no sunbathing, no beach walking, no relaxation–only yard work. When I was done with the trimming and the weeding I filled five large ‘yard waste’ barrels. I’m not sure if I’ll replace the lost plants or not. I hadn’t budgeted for new plants, mulch, dirt, fertilizer, etc. I am grateful that my two patio palm trees were in excellent health and will soon be providing morning shade.
For the past several years my major achievement (and enjoyment) while in Florida was not sailing, surfing, or lazing on the sugar-sand beaches; rather, it was the excitement of creating a new story. Usually, that would take up a few hours of each morning and then I was free to do whatever including time at the beach and biking and enjoying my wonderful neighbor’s company. Tomorrow will be one week away from home, I’m settled in, and anxious to begin a new story. I’ve had ideas swimming about my thoughts for weeks but that first sentence remains elusive. I know it will come when it’s ready.
I’m sure that familiar characters will get me going . . . but maybe not the ‘one’ who is expected to be the protagonist. Where Father Mickey will fit is a mystery. In WAITING, my last novel (published in October), our restless padre was returning to the fold he’d abandoned. Mickey’s life seemed to me to be back in alignment. Yet, he always surprises.
With all the hoops of publishing a book, I only leave myself one month to do the most important task–selling enough copies to cover the next endeavor. I accomplished that with four events in November. WAITING has been successful beyond my expectations. I’ve talked with many who have already read the story and all have given it ‘five stars’. Not because I wrote it but because it was a good read. Now I have set the bar a little higher. As with everything else, however, is the problem of marketing a book without a distributor, or local bookstores. I have to rely on this website and Amazon. (Amazon sales, however, net me little more than $2.00 after shipping).
Fortunately, I have a local (Hibbing, MN) outlet for all thirteen of my novels and my children’s stories. My friend Tom Sullivan (Sullivan Supply) has agreed to market my titles for the months I’m here in Florida just as Patty Shafer did at her Mulberry Bush shop for so long. It is as a favorite song suggests, “We get by with a little help from our friends . . .”
If I don’t get to another blog before Christmas I want to wish all who read this posting to have a happy, healthy and blessed Christmas.

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