Really, Really hot

Tom and Tina hosted a fourth of July party in conjunction with Olivia’s 23rd birthday. Fourth of July festivities at Tom’s. As usual the food was awesome including the best chocolate cake I’ve ever tasted. Tina identified it as Kathy’s cake highlighting that the recipe had no eggs and incorporated some vinegar and baking powder. I’m sure there’s lots more in it but it was perfect in my opinion. It was ultra hot as it has been for the past few weeks but poolside helped and most of the guests participated in the pool volley ball game.

The heat is breaking and we’re finally getting our normal summer afternoon rains. Typical temps for us this time of year is in the upper 80’s/low 90’s until after 2PM when the rains move in and cool it all off. We’ve been in the upper 90’s with no rain through most of June. When it does rain, it’s really hard, short duration rains. The lake is doing fine, maybe a little high and really clear. You can easily see 4’-5’ in the water. The beach has been nice too with low surf, mild water temps – low 80’s – and nice cooling breezes. I wade out knee deep to fish the surf and couldn’t be any more comfortable. There were a couple of guys fishing down from me the other day who practiced full immersion casting. They literally waded out up to their neck and cast really long casts beyond that. I’m glad to say they weren’t catching anything spectacular so I wasn’t at all tempted to mimic their strategy. Not sure what I would have done if they had been catching more than me.

Got an interesting thing going on in the lake. I keep a rod on hand down at the dock with a productive lure attached – Rapala. What’s been happening is there seems to be an extra large population of very aggressive soft shell turtles who are more than a little interested in my lure. So far I’ve managed to keep a sharp enough eye on the lure to see these guys coming – they push a large wave in front of them so it looks like a torpedo charging the lure. I’ve caught a couple in the past but not on lures – rather on live bait intended to catch bass. I’m afraid one of these guys is going to catch the Rapala and will be a real mess to land and retrieve the lure. These are edible turtles, locally called “cooters”, but I’m absolutely certain I want nothing to do with catching or cleaning these rapacious critters.

Haven’t mentioned the pineapple crop this year. It, along with the sunflower crop, are the only items that are really thriving. I have 6 producing plants that should produce pickable fruit from the end of this month on into September. I have a total of 17 plants now so next year could be a monster.

Deeper in the jungle

The washing machine gave up the ghost last week. I think that’s the last of the original appliances to go – 18 years. The good news was that I wasn’t involved at all in the replacement process. Nancy and Esther had a day shopping planned and just added Lowes to the agenda where Nancy made the choice and broke out the credit card. Simple as that. If it suits her, it surely suits me. The real problem is that this means we have to prepare for the delivery and carry off. To me that means making sure there’s a clear path between the front door and the washing machine but for Nancy it means a major cleanup in the utility closet so it will be perfectly clean and organized for the moving guys – translates to a couple hours of work since we store lots of stuff in that closet which will have to be moved to new, permanent quarters and the floor etc scrubbed to shiny perfection. As it turned out, some of the things stored in the utility closet now need to go in a kitchen cabinet and some to the shed. So the kitchen under cabinet gets totally reorganized to handle the new stuff and some of the stuff in that cabinet goes out to the shed. Lots of washing and oiling too. This side project will probably take 10x the whole process of changing out the washing machine.

The new machine was delivered exactly as promised and within half an hour was cranking out it’s first load of wash. It sounds different so that will take some getting used to and Nancy has to learn how to find the right buttons but it’s close enough to the old one that she’ll have no trouble.

I’m doing lots of jungle clearing work this summer. I’ve been negligent in keeping it up to snuff and it shows now that the dock work is complete (kind of complete). It’s mostly pulling out jungle vines which are incredible plants in terms of growing and climbing. Some of these guys I’m pulling down are 50’ with multi vining branches. By the time I’ve worked on them for a couple of hours, I’m pooped. The nice thing is that I can just do as much as I want and then come back later. No one but me can tell the difference so I’m not under any time of deadline or criticism. It’s shaping up nicely. It also turns out that pulling wild grape vines is like dope to me. Once I get started, I have trouble stopping so my 10 minute jobs turn into 2 hours. I have an area down by the dock that I haven’t touched in at least 10 years and it’s dense, dense jungle. It will probably take me a week to get it back in shape at my rate of 2 hours per day. Seems like it would make a lot more sense to do this in the winter. My first foray into the jungle netted me a nasty wasp bite on the neck.

No Cataract surgery

Finally worked my way through weeding the garden. It took 4 days, 2-3 hours per day. I start before 9AM and hang it up by 11AM – totally drained. This is down on your hands and knees pulling weeds up by the roots. I keep a 5 gallon paint bucket beside me to collect the weeds and then dump that onto the compost pile. After this marathon weeding event, the two compost piles are loaded. Loaded means 3’ x 6’ x 5’ – 90 cubic feet. That will shrink down as the new stuff deteriorates but it’s getting to be a monster job turning it. I’ve never had this much compost at one time and I may have gone over the top. It’s been alternating hot and wet for the past couple of weeks which aids the decomp but still…………….

I did a mildew check on the dock after painting a few boards with bleach. Compared to the Wet and Forget soaked area and find both to be performing about the same. Supposedly the regular bleach is fast acting whereas the Wet and Forget operates continuously for months. We’ll see. It’s actually looking pretty good. I spend quite a bit of my time on the dock – reading, playing with the laptop, and fishing since it’s always a few degrees cooler than up at the house.

The garden is really suffering this season. It’s either cool and very wet or very hot/very dry. The poor plants are totally confused and struggling just to stay alive. The bumper crop are the sunflowers – which was an accidental planting. Maybe somebody was trying to tell me something.

I dodged a bullet the other day with an annual visit to the eye doc. Last year they told me I was going to need cataract surgery sooner rather than later. He said “you’ll know when it’s time”. Well no little bird told me I needed them so I went to this meeting expecting to hear it was time. Nope. It was a new doc and he said I probably had another year before it would become a problem. Now if the urologist gives me the same kind of slack……………..

I hit the beach Monday after dropping Nancy off at the bridge club. I really expected to last only a half hour or so before the heat knocked me over but was pleasantly surprised to find a nice light onshore breeze, probably 10 degrees cooler than on the mainland. The surf was quite moderate so I could stand about knee deep in the water and just enjoy the whole thing. Even caught a couple of fish. What more could a guy want.

Father’s Day -Ribs and Wings

I think the Wet and Forget that I sprayed on the dock is starting to work.  It was really deeply mildewed and I had my doubts as to the effectiveness of W&F as compared to bleach.   This is less harsh and reacts over a long period of time as opposed to instant reactions.    The wood is definitely getting lighter and is no longer black black.   I think I’ll wait another week or so and then give it another dose.   I also painted a couple of badly mildewed planks with bleach and will compare the results over time.  I used regular bleach and not “outdoor” bleach so it may not work as well.  We’ll see.   

After the memorial service for Bob on Thursday, we decided to go home through Sanford and avoid the mess on the interstate.  It was raining to add misery to the drive so we decided to take a break at Celery City Brewery in downtown Sanford.   We’d been there once before quite some time ago and remembered that they had an ok snack menu to go along with a really large selection of brews.   We ordered a cheese plate along with a blood orange wheat beer for me and a Tomoka blonde for Nancy.   We each had a beer and then we decided to order another blond to split (since it was still raining a little).  Just as we were getting our stuff together to leave, the bartender brought us two more which we hadn’t ordered.   Turns out a young fellow standing beside us had bought us another round.   Just to be nice he said.   Turns out he’s a nurse with a wife and a 3 year old daughter and we had another nice 20 minutes.   I had him drink one of the two he had bought and we split the other one.   We ended up getting home just before dark.  

My routine has been nominally the same for a couple of years now regarding our trips to Palm Coast.   Nancy plays bridge there Mondays and Fridays with an occasional Wed thrown in.   I drop her off and then go to the beach to fish.  That involves going over the Dunes bridge and paying a $2 toll from the mainland to the beach.  There is no toll on the return.   On this last trip there was a sign saying you could buy 10 trips for $10 which sounded good to me.   I went into the office to buy a pass and the guy asked me how often I went over the bridge.  He then said I should get a regular pass based on my level of activity.  I had always seen people flashing passes but thought it applied to residents of Palm Coast, Hammock Dunes or all of Flagler County.  None of which applied to me.  Turns out a residence requirement was a figment of my imagination and I could buy trips for $0.25 using Express Pass.   So I bought $20 worth, 40 trips.  They’ll email me when my balance gets low.  How sweet is that!

Nice Father’s day event at Toms.   He smoked/grilled wings and ribs to compliment some really great sides created by Tina – along with a spectacular dessert.      

Loss of a good friend

I painted the top of the old picnic bench. Nancy wanted it red, I wanted it white so we compromised and made it red. That side area on the dock had really gotten heavy with mold but I never paid much attention to it. That’s the area that Simon popped through last month and where Johnny did the repairs so a part of it looked new while the majority was ugly. I decided to try to correct that by first taking a paint/grill scraper to attack the really heavy mold and following up with an anti-fungal spray, Wet and Forget. I’ve used that stuff for years and it does work and requires a minimum of physical labor. You just mix it with water in a spray bottle and dose it. That’s it. The mold/mildew dies off gradually as opposed to overnight so you just have to have patience with it. That’s my strong suit so I’ll go sit on the dock everyday and look in on it. If nothing happens in a month or so, I’ll try bleach. I’m debating with myself whether to paint/stain the area when the mold is gone.

The awning guy came by and installed the recovered units – good as new. There not exactly the same color but close enough.

The report is in and May was the hottest/driest May on record for Florida. I didn’t remember ever having it like this and the published numbers agree. But it finally broke early in June and the rains came down. We’ve had several storms blow through in the past week that dropped 2+” of rain. So now the upper 90’s have dropped back to the lower 90’s and the humidity has gone from 30% back up to 80% where it’s supposed to be. I notice it dramatically in the lake where the level was dropping quickly but starting rising again last week. The forecast is for more rain all this week.

If I buy a genuine Hawaii’n pineapple, cut the top off, replant it in Florida – is the resulting fruit a Florida pineapple or a Hawaii’n?

We attended a memorial service for an old friend yesterday. We met the Sloboda’s back in the late ’60’s when we lived in Altamonte Springs. Bob was 88 and succumbed to lung cancer. He was a Marine so was accorded a military service and the playing of Taps. Very moving. Bob loved the lake and was up here for a few events so we’re going to plan to throw one with Dottie and their kids – all of whom live in Florida.

Egg plants or sunflowers?

I pulled off the greatest magic trick ever. Turned eggplant into sunflowers. I guess it’s remotely possible that I mixed up the seeds but how likely is that? I guess it’s also possible that I’m growing eggplants that are 6’ tall. Time will tell.

Another lake water rescue. The same girls that lost control of their pontoon boat a few weeks ago did it again. I just happened to be sitting at the computer and looked up at the lake and saw the boat drifting by. We had just experienced a brief rain and wind event and I guess they lost control. I watched for a few minutes to see if they figured out anything and then walked down to the dock and yelled over to see if they needed any help. They did so I dropped the jon boat into the lake, powered over to them and attached a line. The wind had calmed so it wasn’t too difficult go get them back to their dock. They seem not to understand the concept of charging their battery. Their mother was paddling a kayak out to help but not sure what she could have done. “Thanks again Mr. Joe for rescuing my daughters.”

We tried a new brewery (to us) in Ormond on Friday after bridge and after our regular trip to Moonrise Brewery. It’s called, not surprisingly, the Ormond Beach Brewery. It was located in a warehouse park and difficult to find but we persevered and finally found the door. It has a nice outdoor beer garden and was rockin’ and rollin’ when we got there. I liked it, especially the strawberry wheat beer, but my bride was not as enthused. We left just as a band was cranking up – knowing it would be hard on the ears. Moonrise is a bit more “intimate” and Nancy has found an oatmeal brew she likes. We tried the nacho’s there – really good if a bit spicy for Nance.

We had a great Saturday. I hooked up with Tom and we fished the Tomoka River. He’d been fishing it for the past couple of weeks with great success so we broke one of my cardinal rules and went fishing on a Saturday. It was fine – not much river traffic and great fishing. The Tomoka is fun because it connects to the intracoastal – salt water – but goes far enough West to change over to fresh water. So we catch both salt water and freshwater fish. We caught largemouth bass and snook this time and saw a few rolling tarpon. Nothing too big but plenty of action. We also had a manatee encounter with one literally bumping the boat – that’s alway exciting. While we were doing our thing, Joey came up to the lake and took Nancy shopping in the Daytona area. While here, he mowed the yard – saving me from doing it in the current heat wave. Got the dock ladder finished and Joey helped me get it back in the lake. Gave it a small trial by stepping down a few steps -seemed very sturdy and party ready.

Dock all ready for action

On a roll. I went to Home Depot and found a 10’ x 5/8z’ threaded iron rod which I plan to use on the dock ladder repair. I managed to cut off a 3’ length – manually with a hack saw in the store – but didn’t have the energy to cut two more pieces. Got the correct nuts and washers while I was at it. I had the correct drill bit to drill thru the ladder legs and then inserted the rod. Perfect. Well almost. The hole I drilled was not quite straight and also it knocked out a piece of the ladder so I had to fashion a brace from a piece of decking and drill another hole to straighten it all out. Perfect. Nobody would spot this as an amateur job – unless they looked closely. Now I’m going to wait for my neighbor Andrew to get back and have him cut the threaded rod for two more spans.

But wait, there’s more. I noted a few weeks back that the pump on the dock was not working. I need that to work when cleaning fish and now with my new dock landscaping, to water the plants. I hadn’t used it in quite a long time – maybe as long as a year but for sure 6 months. Water pumps are one of those things that you should run every once in a while just to keep it from locking up. I decided to try a little easy Carbone repair first – opened the fill hole for priming it and banging on the chassis with a hammer to loosen things up. Didn’t work at first. Exercised the pressure valve by opening and closing the main outlet valve while flipping the power on and off at the same time. As if by magic, it started working. I ran it for about 10 minutes and it performed flawlessly so I’m calling it a fix.

Update – got the threaded rod cut and put the whole thing together. Perfect. I know it’s stronger than the original. I still don’t have it in the lake because it’s too heavy for me to deal with by myself. Probably this weekend if one of the boys shows up.

I don’t remember it ever being hotter in Fla than it has been the last couple of days. It’s not only hot but dry. Relative humidity yesterday was 30%. It felt like July in Salt Lake. Personally I prefer it hot and muggy.