My Late Fall Fernandina Beach Vacay ~ on Amelia Island

A Fernandina Bch Access 11.20

 

November on Amelia Island

With Hurricane Eta making its way across Florida, my vacay buddy, Christian fiction writer Lynn Wood Rix (writing as Dalyn Woods) and I kept our eye on the weather report.

This year we took our annual vacation/writing retreat in historic Fernandina Beach, on Florida’s Amelia Island and arrived before the storm. BTW, I got two more chapters written in my work-in-progress, LAST DAYS, to be released in late January.

Our vacation condo rental had beach access right across the street. I was very excited about being on Amelia Island because the head of the covert ops organization in my series of novels has his home/compound/headquarters on Amelia Island. Up until now, I’ve determined where his compound is via maps. I couldn’t wait to drive to where I had placed it.

OPS Fernandina Bch 11.20

 

After we unloaded the car and unpacked, we were famished and drove to OPS, a nearby local Italian restaurant/pizza place. I have no idea what OPS stands for. I should’ve asked but was too hungry to think about that. In any event, I was super pleased. For over a month, I’d been looking all over Jacksonville (my home) for eggplant parmigiana and couldn’t find it. I tried all my fave Italian places, but it had been taken off of the limited Covid-19 menus.

eggplant parm

 

It seemed so amazing that I had to come to Amelia Island to find real Italian eggplant parm with spaghetti the way an Italian grandmother would make it.

The dish in the back is Lynn’s stuffed shells.

A Hurrican Eta Fernandina 11.20

 

We didn’t escape Hurricane Eta completely. After it reached Jacksonville, it headed north for Amelia Island and we got 45 – 50 mile per hour winds which did take some tree limbs down. Lynn and I decided that was an excellent time to take a walk on the beach.

A Fernandina boardwalks 11.20

 

These are the type of boardwalks running from the street to the beach, allowing residents and visitors to walk to the beach. In the distance is haze from the storm. This is facing the ocean which is several miles beyond this.

A Fernandina Hist District

Time spent in Fernandina would be dull without a visit to the picturesque historic district. The streets are lined with shops and restaurants.

A Tourist shop Fernandina 11.20  A Book Loft

 

I can’t resist a bookstore.

 

A Xmas store 1 Fernandina 11.20

 

Then there’s Christmas stores and they make me so happy.  I’ve had several personal tragedies come during the Christmas holiday season and somehow the true spirit of Christmas wraps me in a glow and is a comfort and a joy that overcomes.

A Xmas store 2 Fernandina 11.20

 

 

 

A Xmas store 3 Fernandina 11.20

 A true Florida white and blue beach Christmas tree.

ribbon blue

Lynn Fernandina Bch 11.20

 

Lynn Woods Rix (writing as Dalyn Woods), my vacay buddy in front of the condo we rented.

 

The Bride Escape Purchase THE BRIDE ESCAPE on Amazon

Fernandin Bch 11.20

 

Moi at our rented vacay condo complex.

 

AOM Cover Purchase ACTS OF MALICE on Amazon

 

Throwing Out My Rug Runners ~ the devil made me do it

A A Runner Out

The Chinese Wuhan Corona virus is a great motivator.

This was something I’d been “fixin” to do anyway. Fixin’ is southern. I moved from Brooklyn (NYC) three and a half years ago to live in Florida and I’ve picked up a few southern tid bits to add to my vocabulary.

A person can be fixin’ to do something, as in they’d get around to it sometime-or-other. If there’s energy in their tone, it means they’re gonna get right on it. My relationship with the rug runners fell into the first category. I keep multiple animals in my condo unit, and the rugs are there to catch things. Of course I constantly vacuum them. However they were beginning to annoy me. This is hair shedding season and they were catching too much cat hair…and sometimes cat throw up. Blech.

COVID19 became a true motivator, as we enter what is being called the “peak.” The issue is the rugs do catch things and hold them. I was concerned about going to Walmart, to my doctor’s office (I have an appointment and although it’s not an emergency, it’s one I must keep), etc., and coming back home with the virus on my shoes. Then my rug runners might catch and hold it. So, the rugs that were annoying me anyway had to go.

There is one rug at the entrance. I’m going to wash it, and also replace that one if I feel that’s needed. I’m making a shoe station there. I will take off shoes I’ve worn outside and leave them by the door until this is all over.

I’m a true Floridian now. I’m not living in fear. I do go out for necessities. I’ve visited two friends to help keep them and myself up and cheerful. Attitude is so important. I’m treating this like I would a Cat 5 Hurricane (only this is of much longer duration). I prepared three weeks ago building a food and household products supply. I forgot about toilet paper. It never occurred to me there would be a run on TP. Thankfully, I was able to get a 6-pack last week and a 4-pack this week. So, I have enough of everything now. I take washing hands and hand sanitizing very seriously, especially when I’m out and immediately when I get home. I try to stay 4-6 feet away from people when I’m out. I do talk people. I need that, and so do they. I have not been wearing a cotton mask, yet. I’ve heard it protects others more than oneself. However, I do believe it offers some self-protection, and if this gets much, much worse (and I pray it won’t) I will wear some type of face covering which I will change and wash frequently. And very important, I’m limiting how much news media I’m listening to. They stress the worst scenario, scare tactics to garner higher ratings.

When people from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut flee the virus and run to Florida, please do NOT treat my new and beloved state as carelessly as you’ve treated your own home. I lived in New York City for thirty-five years, so I do know what I’m talking about. Don’t throw your cigarette butts and trash on our sidewalks. If you see that you’ve come to a semi-tropical paradise and want to stay, at least for a while, don’t try to turn it into the place you just fled. Florida is a paradise because we don’t think like you. We don’t rush like you do. It took me about four months to slow down when I got here. There is culture shock. But I knew there was something special here, and I wanted it. I didn’t want to bring New York City with me. I liked that people were kind to each other down here, polite, and took time for each other. I loved that I never, ever heard the F-bomb uttered on the streets. We don’t use the F-bomb as five parts of speech in one sentence. I can still do that, I chose not to on purpose. We don’t think it’s cool. It’s truly slovenly.

So, I pray for America at this time of the COVID19 pandemic. I pray for the world. This plague is not of God. There is no disease or sickness in God. This is outside the shelter of His wings. So, pray, and seek the shelter of His might shadow in this pandemic storm. He loves you and will be there for you, if you seek Him.

Psalm 91 New American Standard Bible [NASB]

Security of the One Who Trusts in the Lord.

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
Will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress,
My God, in whom I trust!”
For it is He who delivers you from the snare of the trapper
And from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with His pinions,
And under His wings you may seek refuge;
His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark.

You will not be afraid of the terror by night,
Or of the arrow that flies by day;
Of the pestilence that stalks in darkness,
Or of the destruction that lays waste at noon.
A thousand may fall at your side
And ten thousand at your right hand,
But it shall not approach you.
You will only look on with your eyes
And see the recompense of the wicked.
9 For you have made the Lord, my refuge,
Even the Most High, your dwelling place.
10 No evil will befall you,
Nor will any plague come near your tent.

11 For He will give His angels charge concerning you,
To guard you in all your ways.
12 They will bear you up in their hands,
That you do not strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread upon the lion and cobra,
The young lion and the serpent you will trample down.

14 “Because he has loved Me, therefore I will deliver him;
I will set him securely on high, because he has known My name.
15 “He will call upon Me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in [e]trouble;
I will rescue him and honor him.
16 “With a long life I will satisfy him
And let him see My salvation.”

Jacksonville ~ Is Christmas Town

JAX Chick-fil-A 19

First Coast All About Christmas

A neighbor in my condo complex wanted to see the local  Mandarin Chick-fil-A’s Twelve Nights of Christmas, again. Mandarin is our neighborhood in the geographically huge city of Jacksonville.

She’d been there the night before to support her daughter’s school. Each night if customers mentioned the name of the particular local not-for-profit showcased, the organization received a percentage of the price of the meal. So, I said, “Why take two cars, I’ll drive.”JAX Xmas Tree 3

We had our chicken sandwich meal and the place was packed with families. Squirming, laughing children couldn’t wait to rush over to the the outside decorated area and see what was going on. Many of the not-for-profits had decorated a tree.

JAX Chick-fil-A 19 2

We were early-birds and the singing presentation would be quite a bit later. We didn’t stay for it. We did listen to the teenagers rehearsing their Christmas carols. They sounded great.JAX Chick-f0;-A Carolers

Jacksonville is on the First Coast (called thus because St. Augustine was the first permanent settlement by Europeans in the Americas) and the First Coast is very Christmasy. Nothing can compare to it.  It seems every single church is having a presentation of some type (classical Christmas music, Christmas worship music, children’s presentations, a series of family-friendly Christmas movies, and much more). There are local neighborhood Christmas crafts fairs, food fairs, and the like.

JAX Chick-fil-A Cow

I did get to meet the Chick-fil-A cow from the television commercials. He is real.

The Jacksonville Historical Society has an extraordinary Gingerbread Extravaganza display every year. Grade school classes contribute displays as well as professional bakers.

Jacksonville Beach has Deck the Chairs every year. I went last year and it was spectacular…forty decorated lifeguard chairs.

When I lived in NYC, my husband and I went many times to see “the tree” and huge lighted angels at Rockefeller Center. Each time it was wonderful. But, let me tell you, St. Augustine’s Night of Lights at Christmas has NYC beat by a mile. You have not seen a Christmas light display like this. It’s not to be missed.

The Broom ~ did she fly in on it?

The Broom

The broom as a ninja weapon

Every morning like clock-work, I feed my little colony of eight stray cats. A vet tech used to live in one of the condo units near mine and many of them were “trap and release neutered” (T&R). The females have an ear clipped, so that if they’re caught again the rescuers and the vet will know they’ve already been spayed. Our condo is also home to wild Muscovy ducks who are very “food aggressive.” So, I bring “the broom” out with me to ward off the ducks. Trust me, the ducks do not like the broom. When I point it or wave it at them slightly, they waddle away as fast as they can. Hilarious.

My neighbors must think I’m a crazy woman. “Did she fly in on it?”

This morning it was 40 degrees out with the wind coming in off the St. John’s River at about 25 miles per hour. That’s cold in Florida. We think water freezes at 40. It does, doesn’t it? The cats were freaked by the wind, and in a feeding frenzy due to the cold. They know they have to eat up an get some fat on them. I feed them breakfast and a woman in a unit two down from mine feeds them dinner. When they sit, they have that plump shape well-fed house cats have…and that makes my heart happy.

 

hawk

We also have two hawks in the area. I live in a city, not a small one either. Yet, my condo is nestled inside of a wooded area and it sits on a natural pond that is fed and emptied by a creek. There are many natural lakes, ponds, and creeks in Florida…not to mention swampland. Floridians who live in major cities know an alligator may not be far away, or a water moccasin. Florida is pristine beaches, shining resort hotels, surfers, and it’s also untameable. Something I love about the state.

Perhaps due to the cold, the two hawks who hunt the forest area near the pond were circling overhead, above my condo unit. Well, of course…there were eight fat cats eating breakfast right there. And it was cold, so why not snatch an easy meal. Except there’s that crazy woman standing there…and now she’s waving “the broom” in the air in a fighting stance.

Oh, what the neighbors must’ve thought. “Well, in Florida you get all types. You know she writes murder mysteries and writers are strange people anyway.”

 

Christmas Under Wraps (Mullet Harbor Book 1) by Fay Lamb ~ a review

Christmas Under Wraps

Romance, Humor, Christmas

This is such an engaging Christmas story. The cast of quirky, sometimes baffling townsfolk living in Mullet Harbor pull you right in.

English Professor Christian Abrams and his nephew Dylan are on the run and wind up in Mullet Harbor, a unique hamlet in the Florida everglades. Chris is broke, out of gas, and has a child to feed. This is when he meets sweet and compassionate local school teacher Kaylee McFarland who talks him into staying in Mullet Harbor at least until after Christmas. That’s when it starts to get interesting…and when Chris learns the townsfolk really do take care of each other and they rely on their faith.

We meet Herb, the mayor who wears flip-flops…and Abigail, the shy town baker who flits around like a hummingbird. Then throw in a Cajun sheriff not afraid to take a chance on a good man. Stir in a delightful little girl named Sophie who’s had more than her share of sorrow in her short life. Could the icing on the top be a Christmas miracle? Perhaps more than one.

This is a fun, delightful read…a romp through the swamp. There’s also an alligator named Abercrombie.

Purchase On Amazon

The Duck War ~ and I win, barely

 

Muscovy Duck 10.19
Unaltered photo taken with my phone. He got close to me!

This is the most aggressive duck I’ve ever encountered!

We have Muscovy wild ducks living in and around the natural pond behind my condo complex (in NE Florida) and the creek that feeds into the pond. Wild ducks are aggressive creatures. The red markings on this gentleman’s face (and I use the term ‘gentleman’ as sarcasm) are meant to intimidate. Yes, ducks can be cute, or beautiful, or striking in appearance…and wild ducks are also extremely aggressive.

Mostly they are aggressive with each other and it can be hilarious when they form a circle and chase each other around and around. They rarely actually harm each other, but they threaten each other continually. In this photo, this is how close this guy was willing to get to me, a human who towers over him. Why did he do that? What did he want

Cat food! Every morning, when it’s still a little dark and the ducks are still sleeping at the pond and not roaming for food…I feed 7-8 stray cats. If I feed when the sun is up, the ducks will also be up and looking to eat, and they will boldly chase the cats away from the food I put out. I stand there every morning so I can shoo ducks away in case any get there early. However, they are cagey. Two will come from one side and when I chase them, another two will come and get the food from the other side, and the cats will go hungry. The ducks don’t need the food. They get fat eating insects and choice pieces of grass, buds, and seeds. That’s why I feed when it’s a little dark.

This morning this gentleman must have not slept at the pond but rather on the grass just beyond my condo. After I’d put the food out, he aggressively came toward me and flapped his wings effectively chasing the cats away. The felines would try to come back and he’s frighten them again. So, I went inside the house for about 45 seconds to get my broom to chase the duck. When I got out my stoop was a mess with cat food scattered all over and the cats were running in all directions.

I was so mad I started chasing this duck with the broom like a wild woman. Honestly, a few times I nearly swatted hm in the tail feathers with the broom. A good thing my neighbors were not yet leaving their houses to go to work. They would’ve had a good laugh. I must’ve looked like a lunatic. LOL

 

Graffiti Junktion ~ a restaurant review

 

Graffiti Burger Bar

Graffiti Burger Bar, Sports Bar, burger joint

I had business in Jacksonville Beach today, so I drove from my home in Jacksonville to the beach (two different municipalities). After my business was concluded, I drove around a bit…all the way to Atlantic Beach on Third Street and then back to Jacksonville Beach. The day was gorgeous.

I was starving. I hadn’t eaten anything except a couple of pieces of toast with margarine and marmalade for breakfast. So, I pulled into the parking lot of Graffiti Junktion for a burger and fries. The fries were phenomenal. Can’t beat them.

I’d ordered a double cheeseburger which comes with cheddar and I love cheddar. I wanted it grilled medium, and it came exactly medium. I also ordered grilled onion on the burger. It was delish. Needless to say, when I was finished, I was stuffed to the max.

It’s a sports bar and they have a full bar. I sat in the dining room, but some other patrons ate at the bar. There are screens with different games on all over the place but no sound. They’ve got really great classic country-rock and rock playing softly that brought me back to a different time.

I ordered Diet Coke with lemon. My waitress brought me a fresh one when mine was about two-thirds finished. Later she asked me if I wanted one to go. This is the south and that’s hospitality.

Address: 265 5th Ave. N., Jacksonville Beach, FL 32250
Phone: (904) 372-9985
Hours: EVERYDAY: 11 a.m. – 2 a.m.