Tag: Cary North Carolina

Celebrating A Life: Joe Palazzolo

The Cary Dog Park Gang!

I met Joe Palazzolo at the dog park in Cary, North Carolina. I would take my German Shepherd, Sophie, to the park every evening after work for exercise and had been doing this for a few months, I guess, when this guy visits for the first time with his Greyhound, Silver City Lou. We started talking and a good friendship was born.

The Character that was Joe Palazzolo

Joe’s family was from Sicily and he was proud of his Sicilian heritage. His wife was Kathy and her folks were from Sweden. Joe and I soon discovered we had a good bit in common. We were both familiar with the Mohawk and Hudson Valleys and the Adirondack Park of upstate New York State. We were both red-blooded, patriotic Americans, and we both liked to shoot. Eventually it came out that I enjoyed reading military history, and Joe told me he had a book for me to read. The book was Lucky Lady by Steve Jackson, and it is the story of a legendary World War II light cruiser, the USS Santa Fe.

During the war in the Pacific, Joe’s father served on the USS Santa Fe which earned the nickname Lucky Lady when the aircraft carrier, USS Franklin, was directly hit by two Japanese 500-pound bombs. As the Franklin listed heavily, becoming perilously close to capsizing, the light cruiser’s captain brought his ship in dangerously close, bellying up alongside the carrier’s flaming hull and keeping the ship afloat until the Franklin’s crew could be rescued. It is one of the most daring rescues in U.S. naval history.

Coincidently, Joe had a twin brother named Lou. One day during the Vietnam War, they both went down to enlist in the US Navy. Their mother put her foot down and said there was no way they were both enlisting and leaving her and their young sister to fend for themselves. Since Joe was doing a little better in school, the decision was made that Lou would enlist and Joe would stay home to look after the family.

Joe drove a bus in New York City for many years and eventually retired from his bus driver’s job. Often times he drove the early morning routes, and as you can imagine, he had some tales to regale listeners with. Both Jack Klugman and Tony Randall rode his bus regularly when they were in town filming episodes of The Odd Couple. Joe told me that Jack Klugman would hop on the bus and talk and joke with the other passengers. Tony Randall always tried to disguise himself and avoided talking to folks on the bus.

During his part-time limo driver gig, Joe had some adventures as well. One night, he was driving for some high school seniors on prom night. The kids left the prom and headed to Dangerfield’s Comedy Club. The limo drivers would park and wait in the alley alongside the club. One night, Rodney Dangerfield came out a back door of the club wearing a bathrobe and slippers. Spotting the limo drivers, he walked up to Joe and bummed a cigarette. He, Joe, and the other drivers had quite a conversation while Dangerfield smoked the cigarette. Then the comedian said good night, and headed back into the club. Rodney treated the drivers like anyone else. He was just one of the guys.

After his second heart attack, Joe was retired by the bus company. They told Joe they could not afford the risk of a third heart attack while he was behind the wheel of a bus. Undaunted, Joe took a job driving a hearse for a funeral company. He joked that the dead didn’t care if he had a heart attack or not. It didn’t matter to them.

Lou, Joe’s rescued Greyhound, is a great dog. Joe even had videos of races Silver City Lou had won during his career. If I remember correctly, Lou ran in fifty-five races. I believe Lou took something like twelve first places, and a bunch of seconds and thirds. By the time I met Joe, Lou had become a pretty laid-back dog who enjoyed relaxing. Occasionally he would get up and run around the dog park with the “pack.” Even at at his advanced age, he was poetry in motion when he ran. Lou and Sophie became pretty good friends and got along great the times I visited Joe and Kathy in their home.

The birth of Pallie

One day shortly after publishing my first book, I was telling to Joe about it. He said that he wasn’t much of a reader, but he’d love to read my book. So, I brought him a signed copy of Serpents Underfoot the next time we met at the park. Joe laughed because he’d already ordered a copy from Amazon. I think he gave one to his sister or something. Anyway, after Joe had read the book, he told me how much he loved the story, especially the characters. I laughed and said, that’s because you’re such a character yourself.

After some more joking around, Joe mentioned that he’d love to be a character in my next book, Montagnard, which I had just started working on. I thought, why not? So, a US Navy SEAL and good friend of my main character’s, named Pallie, was born. Joe was a perfect “model” for the part. Pallie is a tough-as-nails but fun-loving and big-hearted Sicilian-American Navy SEAL. His character is well-liked by many readers and will continue into the third book as well. Pallie, short for Palazzolo, has Joe’s personality, his sense of humor, his gruff exterior, and his kind heart. He is Joe if Joe had become a SEAL.

See you later, Joe!

Shortly after I moved back to Knoxville, Tennessee, I learned that Joe was sick and he was spending a good bit of time in the hospital. A few weeks ago, I went back to Cary to visit with Joe and some of our good friends. I am so glad I did. Just the other day, I learned that Joe lost his battle with cancer. I guess we all knew it was coming, but it is still hard. I will miss you, my friend. but I am happy you are no longer suffering. My prayers go out to Kathy, his wife, and his daughter, Lisa, who I met on my last trip, and the rest of Joe’s family.

If I know Joe, I am sure he is already spending time at a heavenly dog park with his previous Greyhound named Faster, and looking forward with great anticipation to Lou’s eventual arrival. And for my part, I look forward to talking to Joe again when Sophie and I get eventually there as well.

Essential Oils Can Kill Your Dog!

Dog Poisoned by the Diffuser

This morning I am forgoing my typical Tunes for Tuesday post for a public service announcement. Tunes for Tuesday will be back next week,

Anyone who has followed my blog or Instagram knows I am a dog lover. While I lived in Cary, NC, I joined a very nice dog park and its Facebook group. While I sometimes get very angry with Facebook over their censorship, I must admit that not everything about Facebook is evil. Here is a case in point … and a good reminder. This was posted by a fellow member of the dog park Facebook page, and it is good information. It can save your best friend’s life.

Posted by Marianne White

Saturday night, I got home late, and my dog didn’t recognize me. Being a nanny, I thought I woke him up, and he was having a night terror. Sunday, he was still acting weird. I realized that I had been running my new diffuser and decided to turn it off. Sunday afternoon, he was feeling better.

Today at work, my dog sitter said that he wouldn’t come out from under the bed. It was very odd as he is a happy dog.

I came from work early and again, he was very confused about who I was.

So I took him to emergency vet.

It turns out that the tea tree oil I was using in the diffuser is toxic for dogs. Thankfully the test showed that his liver was ok, but we weren’t out of the woods yet. He was given fluids under his skin to get the toxins out.

The vet and the poison control are saying that they see these cases often now that the popularity of essential oil is growing

Please make sure that the essential oils you are burning are not toxic to your pets.

Here is a list of essential oils not to use if you have a dog at home:

Anise (Pimpinella anisum)
Birch (Betula)
Bitter Almond (Prunus dulcis)
Boldo (Peumus boldus)
Calamus (Acorus calamus)
Camphor (Cinnamomum camphora)
Cassia (Cassia fistula)
Chenopodium (Chenopodium album)
Cloves (Syzygium aromaticum)
Garlic (Allium sativum)
Goosefoot (Chenopodium murale)
Horseradish (Armoracia rusticana)
Hyssop (Hyssopus sp. with the exception of Decumbens)
Juniper (Juniperus sp. with the exception of Juniper Berry)
Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris)
Mustard (Brassica juncea)
Oregano (Origanum vulgare)
Pennyroyal (Mentha pulegium)
Red or White Thyme
Rue (Ruta graveolens)
Santolina (Santolina chamaecyparissus)
Sassafras (Sassafras albidum)
Savory (Satureja)
Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare)
Tea Tree Oil (Melaleuca alternifolia)
Terebinth (Pistacia palaestina)
Thuja (Thuja occidentalis)
Wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens)
Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium)
Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)

Sophie says, “please share this story as it may save someone’s precious furry family member!”

Check out some of my other blog posts by clicking here, and be sure to check out my books on my Amazon Author’s Page! They do get great reviews!

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Great Auto Service Can Still Be Found!

Atlantic Tire & Service

auto service

This is not the type of post I typically put up on my blog, but I feel I need to share this with any of my readers in the Cary/Raleigh, NC area. If you need to get your vehicle serviced, Atlantic Tire and Service is the place to get your auto service done.

I get my vehicles serviced and repaired there, and have done so since moving to Cary about three years ago. First it was my Ford Escape and now my Nissan Xterra. I have recommended Atlantic Tire & Service to several others friends and they have all thanked me for doing so.

Examples of great Auto Service

Here is an example of what I mean. My 2011 Ford Escape had an ongoing problem with the air conditioning. It was most inconvenient! I had it checked at three different auto service centers beginning on Hilton Head Island where it first quit working while on a vacation and sitting in a traffic jam on a very hot day. It was not a happy experience! Later, a service center in Knoxville checked it several times, and finally a Ford Dealership checked it when I moved to Cary.

Each time it cost several hundred dollars and would work great for six to eight weeks. Then it quit cooling again. I knew it was leaking coolant! Each shop recharged the system. Each shop said they put dye in the system but could not find a leak. I later learned that this probably meant the leak was in some kind of condenser under the dash and they just did not want to fool with it. The Ford dealer charged me $500 and changed a lot of parts under the hood, but eight weeks later … no AC!

Enter Atlantic Tire & Service

After the Ford Dealership flop, I tried Atlantic Tire & Service. They found the leak right away. It wasn’t a condenser under the dashboard. It was the lower connection on the compressor unit under the hood. Parts and labor turned out to be about $400 … but it worked great thereafter!

During the oil change Atlantic Tire and Service did for me just yesterday, I asked them to check an annoying rattle I had been hearing lately to get an estimate to have it fixed. I was pretty sure it was the heat shield over the exhaust. They looked and found it was just loose. The mechanic tightened it up free of charge. No more rattle.

On a last note. On several occasions I witnessed service technicians sitting down with women customers in the waiting room and explaining their repairs in detail, showing them the needed parts or the old parts, and giving priorities or options when budgeting was necessary. Atlantic Tire & Service really treats their customers right! As long as I am in the Cary area, I will use nobody else.

Shameless plug …

Also, check out my military action thriller, Serpents Underfoot, and my entertaining collection of true tales about encounters with black bears, Adirondack Bear Tales! Read other great blog posts here!

Serpents Underfoot showcased on North Carolina Writers’ Network Book Buzz!

North Carolina Writers' Network

Serpents Underfoot Showcased on North Carolina Writers’ Network Book Buzz!

The North Carolina Writers’ Network in their section Book Buzz. Now, that is pretty darn awesome if you ask me!

The North Carolina Writers’ Network supports the writers of this state by providing educational resources for the craft and business of writing. They also provide opportunities for recognition and critique of literary work, resources for writers at all stages of development. In addition, they support and advocate for the literary heritage of North Carolina, and provide an active community for those who write.

I attended their Spring Conference last April and it was well worth the time and money. At the conference, I met some great people and most importantly, learned a great deal. In addition, I also had a great time. Unfortunately, I cannot make the Fall conference, but I am looking forward to next Spring! I certainly recommend the North Carolina Writers’ Network and its conferences as a great tool for anyone desiring to become a published writer.

As for, Serpents Underfoot, several people have read it or are now reading it … and the feedback has been great! And, to make things even better … two more people just bought paperback versions.

Goodreads Giveaway

For you Goodreads members out there, I am giving away 10 copies through a Goodreads Giveaway. You can register now at Goodreads. The giveaway runs until December 1st when Goodreads will pick 10 lucky winners and I will send them a signed copy of the book … just in time for Christmas!

Please consider getting a copy! It is available in hardcover for $19.99, paperback for $9.99 and Kindle for $2.99 … the deal of a lifetime! And, if you enjoy my book, please take the time to review it on Amazon, Goodreads, or even my website!

A Pleasant Sunday Afternoon in Down Town Cary, NC

A Beautiful Day in Down Town Cary

Down Town Cary can be a very pleasant place to spend a few hours on a sunny Sunday afternoon.

July 4th

Dorothea Dix Park

Sophie and I had a training session at Dorothea Dix Park in Raleigh. After our training session, we played fetch for a bit in one of the big fields at the park. Dorothea Dix is a great place to get your dog some exercise. When she’d had enough, we headed back to Cary. For some reason, I decided to pass through Down Town Cary, I am glad I did. There was some kind of craft festival going on with music, food, arts and crafts, and to Sophie’s delight … dog treats.

Four Legs Barking Gourmet Dog Treats

Sophie immediately noticed the Gourmet Dog Treats booth. We checked the assortment out and, after a few free samples,  she selected a combo bag containing Holy Cheeses, Dirty Dog Barney, and Sophie’s Peanut Butter Swirls. I think Sophie was excited, thinking they were named after her. I saw no reason to tell her otherwise.The treats are 100% natural. They also had some very nice dog food and water bowl stands with stainless steel water bowls.   The folks at the dog treat booth were very pleasant to talk to and were also kind enough to loan us a water bowl for Sophie used when we ate lunch. She was having some difficulty drinking from the bottle, but more on that later.

Humble Pig BBQ

We walked around for a while. There were booths of wood crafts, toffee, leather working, stained glass, homemade candies, and confections.  Of course, all this activity made me hungry and the smell of BBQ was very appetizing.  So naturally, I had to try the Brisket Sandwich which was very good. Sophie thought the brisket smelled wonderful, but unfortunately, she had to settle for some water and Sophie’s Peanut Butter Swirls.  Bond Brothers Brewery was also there with a booth, so I washed the Brisket Sandwich down with an excellent Pre-Prohibition Golden Ale. It was really very good. I was a little hesitant to try it until the guy at the booth reassured me that is was actually brewed last week and was not left over from the 1920’s prohibition era.

Good Music Too!

I am not sure who this guy is. He had a couple of guitars and a computer providing accompanying instruments. But, he was pretty darn good. He played a great variety of music from the 70’s … folks like Jim Croce. It had been a while since I’d heard Bad Bad Leroy Brown!

All and all, it was a great afternoon! Sophie is zonked out on the living room rug, recovering for the activities. I, on the other hand, am going to spend the rest of the day editing a few more chapters in my book, Serpents Underfoot.

It is getting so close to being done. Can’t wait to get it out on Amazon.com.

The Golden Pig … Great Korean Food

I wanted to get off the politics for a few posts and since I recently revisited one of my favorite restaurants in Cary again, I decided to make my first foray in to the world of the food critic, or perhaps just give an endorsement for my favorite local Korean restaurant!

Kimchi Soup

If you want authentic Korean food that is consistently well-prepared, then you need look no further than the Golden Pig on West Chatham Street in Cary, NC.  Having spent a year eating Korean food while stationed with the 1/17th Infantry at Camp Casey in South Korea, I know what I am talking about. Wherever I was stationed, I tended to, as the Army says, “go native.” This essentially means I rarely ate in the mess hall. If I was off duty, I was off post.  While the U.S. Army kind of frowns on that, it’s the only way to really experience the local culture!

This great little restaurant serves traditional Korean food in healthy portions. I have eaten there several times now and each time I have left very happy and satisfied. It was just like revisiting a restaurant in Seoul or Tongduchon again.  Also, if you take a look around the restaurant while you are there, you will see a lot of Korean families happily eating away … typically a good sign as to authenticity and quality.

Bibimbop_BBQ_Chicken

The staff is very friendly every time I visit. The pickled vegetables and Kimchee are great. I especially like the chicken BBQ and the Bibimbap, But I’ve also had the Beef and Spicy Pork Bulgogi and they are both great to!  The last time I was there, the owner brought out a serving batter-friend vegetables for me to try at no charge … Delicious!

Hae Mul Jeon Gol

The Golden Pig is a great place for both lunch and dinner. They are open quite late as I recall. The atmosphere is casual dining with both tables and booths available. They have a full bar, and serve both beer and wine. Don’t be shy to ask for help or an explanation, but please do be patient … they certainly try, but English is certainly not their native language.