That Other Gig I Have #firstresponders #wellness.

It’s about 92 outside, I did the yard work early, and now I’m inside working on the computer.

Two computers, actually. I’ve got a switched monitor linked to a desktop in another area that I do my audio books on, and the other is my writing/mentoring desktop. 

Why two?  Originally they were in different parts of my house, and so it made sense given the two functions were linked to acoustic issues for recording. But, with one office being the home to most of my inside trouble making, I jump back and forth between the two while I’m in here.

Today Chapter 17 of the latest DiMercurio book is being edited. But I wanted to take a break to talk about Pathfinder Resilience. That’s the mentoring job I’ve had since last fall. 

We teach resilience strategies to first responders. Mind you, the course work would help all sorts of people with stress issues, and that probably includes you. We have a great program, one that is founded on scientific research, and emails. Yes, emails. The kind where the first responder says, “Until I started this course I saw no way out and was thinking about suicide.” Yeah. For real. So we know from the data we gather, and the confidential talks we have with our students, that it works.

Today I’m making this a shout out to #firstresponders for #wellness. There are a lot of bogus programs out there, the “flavor of the month” kinds of training. Not us. We really do what we say, and we can prove it.

So, without further ado, I’ll link to our website www.pathfinderresilience.com, our blog at pathfinder, and our podcast.

 

If you are a first responder, or related to one, or know one, take the time to check us out. Then show it to the ones who need it. We’re ready to help them. It’s who we are. 

And I’m very proud to be one of the original staff. I love it.

 

Now, back to sinking submarines in some distant ocean. That book, “DARK TRANSIT” will be out in the next two months. It’s amazing. DiMercurio was gone for a decade or two doing other things, and he’s back better than ever. 

Coupla Observations

Now that I’ve annoyed the residents of my new state for a five month period, it’s time to give back to those who have so generously contributed to my collection of things to use in novels.

The “Florida Flag.”  This is a handicapped parking tag hanging from the rearview mirror of the car while driving. Many of my fellows down here never take the thing down for any reason, just peering around it. I have found from experience, that the rearview mirror itself is an annoyance, and blocks my view of cars approaching the intersection from my right. It’s because of my height, and the general placement of the mirrors. I have learned to work around it. But that big, blue tag hanging down in their field of vision blocks them almost completely. Thus, when entering traffic from the right, I exercise extreme caution because of the startling large number of grey-headed ding-dongs driving with a Florida Flag.

The double yellow line meant no passing, uh-uh, never in the north. In Florida I have decided, based on keen observation, that it means you can pass, but only on the curviest part of the road, and you MUST pass at least two cars at once. As a preliminary to this, you are obligated to tailgate the cars you will pass for a minimum of 1/2 mile. 

Cart corrals are relatively new to this part of Florida. I’ve been visiting for almost 20 years, and it has been with joy that I’ve seen them spreading. During my first visits, they were virtually unknown. But for at least the last 10 years they have become a normal thing. Evidently the learning curve for some residents is more than 10 years, because I routinely see them leaving the cart in the space next to them, even if the cart corral is the next space over. I, being very helpful and whatnot, will often point out the corral to them as they enter their vehicle, hope they are soon cured of their terrible illness causing such vision loss and weakness, and roll the cart to the collection point for them. I am so friggin helpful that it evidently causes pain in their middle fingers on occasion. I wish I could massage their digit for them, but it seems to pass quickly as they drive off.

The super majority of people down here are way nicer than Minnesota Nice. I’m good with being called bubba, honey, sugar. At least when it’s women. Men calling me sugar makes me suspicious and is not welcome. But people go that extra mile around here to be helpful.

This is especially true for my neighbors. Dear me, I love those people. I have great neighbors here, just like I did in Saint Paul.

Another astute observation from my long-distance walks:  if the fence has a “beware of dog” sign, and the gates are open, use caution. Today, on my walk with Chewy, we approached one of those properties where I’d never seen a dog before. The gates were open. I heard a Chihuahua barking but couldn’t see the driveway yet due to the gigantic hedge.

Well, no problemo, I says to Chewy. That little yipper will stay in the yard and we’re good. Kind of amusing, since they have a picture of a snarling Doberman posted on the fence. Heh, some people’s sense of humor.

As we approached the end of the hedge, I could see the driveway – they’re kind of long around here, around 40-100 yards – and the dog. Not the barking Chihuahua, but the 12 foot tall Doberman with razor sharp fangs. He was at least that big. 

Being marginally sane, I did two things: popped the snap on my holster to get a gun ready and turned right around with Chewy to leave the area. I don’t fancy getting mauled, and Chewy has never expressed an interest in this either. (You are insane to walk the back roads around here without a weapon. There are wild hogs, bobcats, big snakes, gators, and former linguists all over the place.)

We escaped unharmed, but I guess that gate has to be watched more closely from now on.  Yikes. That Dobie was big. 

This, clearly, disappointed Chewy, who has grown fond of walking down that road.  In fact, he woke me up this morning and wasn’t subtle about wanting to go for a walk. The minute I touch my walking pack it’s all over: he loses it. This picture is of me trying to put my shoes on with his help. (He’s not actually helpful.)

Well, that’s the observational update for now. I hope you are having a great day. I know I am.

Warmer Than Usual

Bobby Kurtz was having a great walk. The mix he had on his phone was all eclectic strangeness, and while he was soaked with sweat and tired after doing five miles in the tropical heat, his water bottle was still almost full. 

Grabbing his walking staff in the other hand, he looked down the long rural road. It was, easily, another mile to the next intersection where he’d turn and go north for four miles to get back to his friend’s house. 

He looked up as the stupid helicopter passed overhead for the fourth time this morning. Rigged out as a spraying bird, it was probably nuking the marshes nearby for mosquitoes. The annoying part was that every time it passed overhead it was so loud it drowned out his headphones. One of the costs of mosquito free housing was low-altitude helicopters. He watched it as it broke abruptly right  from it’s previous path, and not only ejected a dozen magnesium flares from it’s top, but turned on a disrupting optical device on the tail. 

Kurtz shielded his eyes but not before he saw the surface-to-air missile follow one of the flares and detonate two hundred yards behind the helicopter. 

He hit the deck and missed being hit by the shrapnel by a miracle of some sort. The shooter, however, didn’t avoid a penalty, for the helicopter pirouetted and made a firing run on the origin of the smoke trail. There was the scream of 7.62 miniguns that fired from what he had thought were the pesticide tanks on the sides of the helicopter. No shell casings fell from the sky, as they must have been captured by the bulbous gun casings disguised as spray tanks. 

The roaring was deafening, and all he could do was hold his hands over his ears, the helicopter just 75 feet from him and firing at a spot no more than 300 from where he lay prone on the broiling roadway. 

Peace returned to the land, smoke drifted off in the gentle breeze, and the helicopter gained altitude, circled the area rapidly, and returned to a hover just 100 feet from Kurtz. 

Loudspeakers hailed him, “You okay, Mr. Kurtz? Sorry that was so close to you, but hey, bad guys get nuked, right?”

Kurtz gave a thumbs-up and the bird flew away to some other mission. 

Bobby Kurtz stood on the roadway, debating checking out what was left of the SAM shooter. He dismissed the idea. They were toast to be sure, and he was on vacation. How they knew it was him bothered him a second, but then he looked at the phone on his harness rig and figured they had his transponder from the Facility Review Board on their equipment.

Why the missile, and why it was so close to him was just another mystery he’d probably never solve. Dusting himself off, he took a long drink from the water bottle and continued down the deserted roadway. He was starving and lunch was another hour’s walk away.

 

**       **    **    **

 

Yes, I am working on the sequel to Assault on Saint Agnes. But since it’s slow going and some of you were missing Kurtz, I figured he’d make a guest appearance on the blog.

 

Now, buy some of my audio books so I get enough money to write for a while!

The Real America Is Alive And Well In Florida

Okay, he wasn’t there in person, but his spirit and love for America sure was. 

I spent the Fourth of July 2021 in Florida. A state that is so vastly superior to the blue dungeon I came from that it barely is worth mentioning. Until, that is, you celebrate a patriotic holiday here.

Morning was church. Love my little church in the Everglades. Small congregation, no big screens or fog machines, and the band is a piano and a guitar with an occasional dulcimer thrown in. They normally have a second service at six in the evening, (which we don’t attend) but yesterday the second service was cancelled, and instead the entire congregation gathered at the home of a member for a “bring a dish” dinner, fireworks, volleyball, jumpy house (I was not allowed in, something about it being for the kids) and a couple of pools.

Dinner was great. So was our conversation. Like these events everywhere, the vets all find each other and trade stories. Last night no exception: except almost everyone there was a vet, so there were a bunch of conversations going on all over. 

While we ate, we watched the young people play volleyball. (Side note: at what age do you get to use that phrase?  Answer: 60.) They had more energy in the 98 degree heat than I do, but I killed the macaroni salad eating event.

As twilight approached, the pastor (our host’s father) said a prayer for America (and, yes, it’s pronounced “murica” down here) and we all joined in. This was followed by the playing of the national anthem. Nobody had a hat on their head, and a lot of us stood at attention and presented a salute. It was stirring and wonderful. I love that feeling of knowing the people around me have my back and I have theirs. 

Then our host’s husband (who was also our host, come to think of it) who is a fire-fighter, lit off about $8,000,000,000.00 worth of fireworks. Now, we live just down the road a half-mile, and they have a big acre lot as well. So we’re out in the boonies. The shredded paper from the fireworks covered my car in the parking area. I took out the hearing aids. We had a great show. 

And as the event ended in our company, the skyline light up from horizon to horizon with fireworks. Lots of fireworks. In Florida, you can shoot off danged near anything you want, but only on the Fourth. Not the third, not the fifth. You got the holiday and that’s it!  God, not wanting to miss out on the fun, lit up the eastern horizon with his special brand of electrical fireworks, and so it went.

Chewy was a bit uptight, but he got some tranquilizers early and late in the evening and he was okay. No panic, just a little anxiety. But we ended the night on the couch comforting him and thanking God we lived in a free place. 

That’s my new ‘murica. I love it.