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27 December 2010 @ 08:22 pm
I took pictures of manatees Christmas Eve, other good news  
The best news of all is the fact that I have figured out what to do about the wind, which has been bugging me terribly since I got on the water. I dedicated a seperate entry to this, which I just finished writing. (See below.)

Here are the pictures, including the one above, of the boat in the beautiful CALM spot I've been for over two days, that I described in the last entry I just mentioned:

pictures -December 25th, 2010 -boat in old logging canal facing Spring Garden Creek

Christmas Eve brought good news too. The manatees I was worried about in the December 16th entry must have been hiding somewhere, because they were all back showing off to tourists near the warm spring outflow at the State Park when I tied up at the dock there to eat lunch at the snack bar outside the Sugar Mill Inn:

Here are all the pictures:

pictures -December 24th, 2010 -manatees at DeLeon Springs State Park

Last week, Ghost and I both had the flu for about two days, and it was before I figured out what to do about the horrible wind, and the weather has been SO cold, so the boat was like a floating, wind-battered mausoleum for awhile. Even if it warms up these last few days of 2010, it's too late to keep this month from being the coldest December in history here, at least up at Jacksonville, where there were even reports of snow yesterday.

Last week even started bad, because I discovered that two of my six solar panels had been dead for I don't know how long.

I drove to Harbor Freight in Daytona Beach and just bought another 3-panel plus controller and accessories kit. It was on sale for $200 instead of the usual $250. It was a bargain because individual panels were $80 each. This time I paid $35 for the two-year free exchange warranty. I want to take the two dead panels in and get a free complete kit but I'm not sure it's ethical, because it's like using one warranty for three kits. But, if anything else fails, I will definitely include those two panels in the box I take back.

If anyone reading this sent me gifts, thanks. I really appreciated them.

I got books as a gift which I will enjoy. As for other books I've been reading by lamplight during these long nights, I got them for $1 at one of the bookstores in Deland, and I can take them back and get 50 cents and then they can sell them again for $1. It is amazing in 2010 that there are still TWO wonderful large locally-owned bookstores in Deland, and another reason I like the town so much. I tried to get a library card at the public library but we couldn't make it work out because I have no local address although they were really nice about it. The used book setup is better anyway, because I can take three or four months to finish a book if I want. Books for about $1 won't be new or even recent. But the books I'm now interested in are about things like history and anthropology. Obviously, older books are still as relevant as when they were first published when these are the subjects. Also, I'm finally reading fiction, which I always wanted to start doing, and novels don't lose quality as they age. For example, I just finished "The Bridges of Madison County" which was as good as I always heard it was and it was only $1. For the same price I got "The Summer of '42" which I seem to remember was liked by the critics. I can read it anytime I want because it's not a library book.

Ghost has been doing well again since we got over the flu we both had last week. He loves it when I put him up through the new attic hatch from the greenhouse porch so he can play in the attic below the tarp roof. He can peer through the cracks above all the little white side doors on all four sides so it's like a secret fort for him to spy on all the sandhill cranes and moor hens and herons and coots and limpkins and anhingas that putter around and above the water. I took him for several walks on his leash around Tedders just before Christmas because I was tied up there to some abandoned piles creating a little dock out to them. This will be my parking spot from now on when I go there. The dock I made ends about five feet short of the piles, so I will put out my plank between it and the boat when I tie up.
When I lift away the plank, Ghost can play all over the boat without being tempted to wander onto the land around Tedders where he would get lost.

I built the dock with a few 20-foot 2x8s that were piled right nearby anyway. They've been there since a horrible windstorm blew away half of Tedders in 2006. (This is more evidence that these are scary winds here, and why I had to find a solution out in the channel, as I outlined in the previous entry.) Hank, the old guy with the black shepherd/retreiver mix who lives in the nice big house right next to Tedders insisted on helping me build the little dock. He felt sorry for me because last week I was so depressed about the wind situation when I talked to him.

His wife died in 2006, the same year my mom died, and now Hank has serious dementia, but it is impossible for me to get mad at the dumb things he says because I know so well what Picks and Alzheimers does to wonderful people like Mom.

I dreaded what would happen when he tried to help but after about ten minutes it was obvious I had nothing to worry about. In fact, I was amazed and excited at how fast we finished because he was as sharp and attentive and accurate as anyone I ever worked with on such a physical task. This is what is so amazing about dementia -that it can leave whole parts of the personality undiminished. In Hank's case, it was the part of him that knows how to build things that was as healthy as it probably was forty years ago, when he was a welder in Miami. We laughed and slapped each other on the back and I felt so good for many hours after we were done, even though he asked me five times, "Mike, how long were those boards again, 30 feet or 20?" I don't care anyway if he remembers that, just that he remembers he had a fun couple hours doing a good job that he will be proud of when he looks at it this winter.

Things are still pretty slow at O'Neil, according to my friends up in snowy Ohio, so the time has come for this extended period of "unpaid leave" to become more like a temporary layoff. This means I will probably file for unemployment benefits just after New Years, because I am entitled to that. The money for six or more months will be an added cushion too. I will need to actually be "seeking employment" here near Deland to get the unemployment compensation but the chance of me finding work in my specialty down here in 2011 is almost nonexistent. It would be wonderful to use this as an opportunity to pick oranges or work at one of the fern farms part-time or do something else totally fun and different like that. Whatever happens, I will be secure, and what I really care about is how everyone else's jobs are doing. I already decided I will keep my condo in Ohio no matter what happens with the economy, because it is tiny and is not costing much and because if things do "recover" and we technical illustrators are all busy again, I can slip back into that work again with my friends like the good old days.