Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 Wrap Up

(Man, it's been a while....let's see if I remember how to do this.)

In my first post of this year I mentioned that I don't do New Year's "resolutions". For me, the act of 'resolving' to change something is only the first step in accomplishing a goal. Just saying "I'm going to get this done", doesn't really cut it, for me.

Last year I set a pretty easy goal. To be "better"....in many areas.

While I think I did an admirable job (in my own, humble, opinion), I know there's always room for improvement. That's why, this year, I'm going for the same goal....just more of it.

To be better than last year's "better"....if that makes sense.

As far as writing goes, I think I did become a little bit better, but still need work on the discipline thing. Sitting myself down to write has become a bit slack these past few months. Yes, I could blame a new working dynamic, or the holidays, or anything else for that matter, but the honest truth is I've just not felt like writing much. The worst part was, this feeling hit me as I was trying to complete NaNoWriMo. Needless to say (but I will anyway), I didn't succeed...with either of my story ideas. Oh well, there's always next year...no use beating myself up about it. :)

I still want to be a better son, brother, cousin, "uncle/godfather", friend, in-law, and most importantly, husband. In that same area I'd like to add father to that category, so we'll have to wait and see how that turns out.

So, just like last year, pretty simple as far as my goals for 2014.

Too simple, you think?

How about you, anything you're looking to accomplish in the upcoming year?

Have a very safe and Happy New Year!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

"Well, It's The Keys."

Yes, it was the 'good life'.

(What follows is my very long and graphical excuse as to why you didn't see an IWSG post, this month,  sorry about that. Not saying it's the best of excuses....but, it's the only one I got :P )

Vacations, even small ones, are funny things. You can't wait to get there and then you can't wait to get back home again. It never seems to fail.

Yesterday (Wednesday, the 6th) was our three year wedding anniversary. Where does the time go? It seems like just yesterday we were standing on a beach, vowing to live the rest of our days together as husband and wife.

This year, we decided to go somewhere......anywhere....to celebrate, so we decided to head down to the Florida Keys for a few days of 'R&R'. The fact that it's only about a three hour drive for us didn't hurt, either.

So, we spent a few days, last week, checking hotel prices and looking for something not too expensive, but not somewhere that would make a cockroach cringe, either.

We found what we thought looked like a good place just past Key Largo, in Islamorada (A Village of Islands), called Coconut Cove Resort. We had no idea what we wanted to do, besides check out an artisan village called The Rain Barrel, so we were just winging it for the most part.

Day One: We get down to the "resort" around noon and check in. It was cloudy and drizzling. The room was small, but clean, though the furniture looked like it came from a flea market. Dinged up, scratched up, and mismatched. The cable was out and we couldn't get a wi-fi signal. The manager tells us the "line is down" and hoped it would be up soon. There was no in-room phone to call the desk nor a coffee maker. There was a mini fridge (which, thankfully worked) and an old microwave (with dials, of course), that was in working condition. A good thing, too, because it was our last hope for having any sort of on demand coffee (we had brought some instant with us.). On the plus side, the bathroom was fairly new looking and nice with a jacuzzi tub, even though the towels were about half the size of a normal one.

"Well, it's the Keys." my wife (who has been coming down to the Keys for over a decade and knows the "commonplace") said with a smile. Besides, we weren't down there to hang around in the room. We came down for the sun, surf, sand, and to relax.

Not the most inviting view.

Anddddd here comes the rain...

The clouds begin to break!

Luckily, the rain passed fairly quickly (Well, it's the Keys), but it was still overcast, so we set out to explore. We hit up the aforementioned Rain Barrel artisan village, which was pretty cool. Neat, but over priced (in my opinion) crafts that I would have snapped a few pics of, except for the blaring "NO PHOTOS" signs that were hung, no kidding, almost every ten feet. I mean, it was cool stuff, but not "top secret" cool. 

Anyway, we drove further down and found an Outback and decided steak sounded good for dinner. Well, as it turned out, we should have run 'out back' and found somewhere else to eat. Worst service we've ever had at an Outback (they'll be getting an email from me regarding this, as well..."Keys" or not, no excuse) and the steaks were very unimpressive. The best part of the meal was the blue cheese wedge salad. Meh. By the time we got back to the room, the breeze was blowing and the clouds were clearing up so we headed down to the beach area to sit around with some instant coffe and relax. Coconut Cove is "famous" for their weddings and one was going on that night. We were in time for the reception and sat on the beach while they partied in the tiki bar area behind us. It reminded us that we didn't have much of a reception for our wedding, as far as dancing and merry-making went, and that we needed to invite everyone back for the 'lost reception' we never had.


We turned in early and decided to get up and try to catch the sunrise as we got rooked out of the sunset by the clouds that night. Wouldn't you know it....the clouds were back in the morning which meant no sunrise for us. I mean, there was a sunrise....we just couldn't see it.

Day Two: Our Anniversary! Even though we didn't see the sunrise, a bright spot to the morning was that the cable had been fixed and we could watch ME TV. If you like love old television (which my wife and I do), ME TV is for you. We sat around and watched a few shows as we were planning out the day. The clouds started to disappear and the sun came out. An awesome breeze was still blowing and the temps were mild. We still couldn't seem to pick up a wi-fi signal, so we asked the manager about it and was told that if you were in the rooms 'back there' you couldn't pick up a signal. The cottages close to the office could get a signal, but if you were 'back there', you were out of luck. 

Just a bit of a rant here, but if you advertise that your rooms have wi-fi then all the rooms should have it....not just "some". 

Well, it's the Keys.

Not a huge deal because, again, we didn't come down to hang around in the room and had only brought our Kindle Fires anyway, but still, it was nice to check in every once in a while. It was just too nice to do anything but, so we grabbed our Kindles and headed for the pool. What a relaxing day we had just sitting poolside, watching the egrets fly overhead and listening to Jimmy Buffet on the tiki bar sound system. We both caught up on a few 'social media' type things and napped for a few hours. We seemed to have the whole place to ourselves as we didn't see any other guests after the wedding from the night before was over. 

Fine by us!

After some time in the sun, we decided to travel around, again, and hit a few shops before dinner and the sunset. Well, wouldn't you know it....the clouds started rolling back in and we were gypped out of a sunset.

Well, it's the Keys.

So, after some shopping and lunch.....probably one of the BEST burgers I've ever had at Shula's.....we headed back to the room (where I managed to knock out four handwritten pages for NaNo, in the meanwhile) and decided to try and find a decent restaurant for our anniversary dinner. Another strikeout in a place called "Wahoo's". Over priced and an extremely limited menu. They didn't even have a fried shrimp platter on the menu, I had to ask for it, special. We had a nice view, though, and sat outside in the warm breeze with some great 80s music in the background, so it worked out nicely. 

After dinner, we hit the beach again and talked about our past three years together and how we want three hundred more :) Determined to catch the sun, whether it was rising or setting, we decided to turn in early and get up for the sunset before heading back home. 

Day Three: We had packed up the night before and already had most of our stuff in the car before we headed down to the beach to try to catch the sun coming up. Once again, the clouds tried to foil us, but we still got a very cool view, even it it wasn't, technically, a "sunrise". 

Well, it's the Keys.

I'll take it!

After the lightshow we, literally, kissed the Keys goodbye and headed home. With more info and experience under our belts, we're already planning our return trip in a month or two.

Did we have a good time?

Well, it's the Keys! :)

Monday, November 4, 2013

Pop Travelling with Tara Tyler!

It seems that the lovely and talented Tara Tyler has been 'popping' up all over the blogosphere, touring around in support of her new book Pop Travel. 

Sounds like a great story and here's wishing nothing but the best for Tara. Now, without further ado.....here she is to explain things in one of my favorite mediums......comic book form! :)

Take it away, Tara!

Mark is a super hero - his powers are friendliness in the face of doom and a positive attitude against all odds! I'm very excited to share a comic here on his blog for my Pop Travel Blog Tour!

It's pretty basic, but it was fun to make! Hope it gave you a giggle!

Thanks so much, Mark for letting me take up some of your blog space! It was a blast!
Now, here are some details for Pop Travel.

Cooper thought he could get through
life without having to pop...
Pop Travel by Tara Tyler
A tale of deception and teleportation.

When a distraught client enters J.L. Cooper's small town detective agency, ranting about a pop travel teleportation cover up, Cooper takes the case. He blames the pop travel craze for his wife's death and would love to expose a glitch in it.

But the glitch turns out to be disintegrating travelers. And now, his client is dead, his secretary is missing, and a hitman is stalking him. Plus there's all the webcams watching his every move. Cooper must find a way to expose the deadly flaw, while using pop travel to escape the maniacs covering it up, not to mention save a couple of tag-alongs he's not sure he can trust. No problem.

Available now on Amazon and Barnes & Noble
Goodreads  <==>  Trailer  <==>  FB Author Page
After having a hand in everything from waitressing to teaching math to rocket engineering, Tara Tyler now writes and teaches in Ohio with her three active boys and Coach Husband. In addition to her novels, she has published short stories and poetry in Science Fiction, Fantasy, Thriller, and Humor. So many stories to tell!

Great comic, Tara and thanks for stopping by Left and Write on your tour :)

Drop by and show Tara some love at the links above and over at her blog, Tara Tyler Talks.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween!

This one wasn't by either of us, fyi :P

So, if you haven't been following me on Google Plus, this month (and why haven't you??) you didn't see my month long tribute to the fun and spookiness of Halloween. I featured a lot about the old Universal Monster movies, some neat craft ideas, and....well....lots about old Universal Monster movies.


O.k, so you really didn't miss all that much, but I also revealed the results of our Sometimes Annual Pumpkin Carving Contest. We missed last year, hence the "sometimes annual".

Anyway, what we do is get a bunch of snacks, pop in some Halloween themed movies and go about carving pumpkins. Since it's just the two of us, the "contest" portion of the night really isn't all that "contesty"...but it's still loads of fun.

We did two, separate, sets of pumpkins as the first started to rot after only a couple of days. I had read where, if you smear Vaseline inside as well as in the cut out holes, the pumpkin will last longer and, now, I can confirm that. After about a week, the second set of pumpkins we carved still look brand new.

On the first Carving Night we loaded up on all kinds of stuff that's not good for us, like egg rolls, mini pizzas, mozzarella sticks, and pie....pumpkin, naturally. We each picked two movies...my wife went with Halloween Town 1 and 2 and I chose The Wolfman and Mad Monster Party.

A before shot.

Another 'before'

Our "supervisor"... Spooky

The (tasty) innards

Tracing the pattern

S.H.I.E.L.D..of course I'd do something comic booky

My wife tried a shaving technique to make a smiling face/graveyard

The finished products.

As I mentioned above, due to the fact that the pumpkins started to dry up and rot a couple of days later...and my wife wasn't satisfied with her experimental shaving offering....we decided to carve up a couple more unsuspecting pumpkins.

This time we just went "old school"...my wife using our cat, Jasmine, as a model for hers while I just went with some generic creepiness. These didn't turn out half bad, I have to say.

For the movies, this time, I picked Abbot and Costello Meet Frankenstein (which my wife had never seen...but loved...) and my wife chose Hocus Pocus.

These pumpkins were much smaller (by design) and it didn't take us nearly as long to carve them up (again, by design).

While I'm sure neither of us will ever make the National Pumpkin Carving Tour (is there such a thing?), we had a ton of fun and, after all, isn't that what Halloween is all about?

Here's wishing you all a very safe and happy Halloween and watch out for all the little creatures if you happen to be driving tonight!

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