My New Clippers

The corn beef and cabbage was particularly great this year. The cabbage (Early Jersey Wakefield) and the carrots (Yaya) were only minutes from garden to pot so they couldn’t have been fresher. After a hot week where stuff started bolting, it’s cooled off and probably gives us another couple weeks to pick greens, cabbage and most other winter veggies. Nancy dropped the Crescent City bridge game which has impacted the garden. Every Wednesday morning I’d pick large bags of greens – collards, swiss chard, kale, lettuce – for the ladies in the club. I planted plenty knowing that would be a consistent demand. Now, my customer base has shrunk. George loved the veggies but Barbara, not so much. So I’m really in an overload mode and probably should cut back on the planting. Problem with that is the soil is so fertile that any spot not occupied by a plant is quickly populated with weeds. Nancy’s crochet ladies may pick up some of the slack but it’s a small group.

Tom and Tina spent last week in Europe – as tourists. They brought us some pasta from Italy which will be starting on the table tonight. We’re really becoming pasta nazi’s and try new brands and styles regularly. The one’s they brought are completely new to us. The danger is that we fall in love with one and can’t ever find it again.

Doing my bi- annual jungle cleanout which occurs now and again in November when it’s cool and when the wasps aren’t nesting in the palmettos. I widen all the paths and driveways, taking a few days to complete. And especially down at the lake. I started and was having some difficulty cutting with my old clippers. These were cheap junky ones to start with – I think I paid about $4 for them at a Dollar store – but I keep sharpening and oiling them so they get the job done albeit with much cursing. I have a propensity to lose clippers so it doesn’t cause heartburn when they’re junky. About 2 or 3 years ago Joey bought me a pair of really high class super trimmers but I put them away as just too good to use/lose. Yeah I know – that’s stupid. The old one’s were giving me fits so I decided to bite the bullet and break out the high class model. Wow, double Wow! They cut through everything with minimal effort on my part. After trimming with the old ones for a half hour, my hand was sore but not now. Thanks Joey.

Getting another Petscan tomorrow. Hope it turns out better than the last one.

George’s Memorial Party

Today had some highs and some lows. I had an MRI scheduled at an imaging center in Palm Coast so the plan was to visit Wilma then get the MRI followed by introducing Nancy to my regular Friday afternoons. That means taking her to Waterfront Park and then to Moonrise brewery in the European Village. We’d then cap it off with a trip to Sky Jacker’s for the boiled shrimp special. Started out ok but hit a bump in the road with my MRI. It’s a test where I’m injected with some special brew and then scanned for 20 minutes or so while remaining totally motionless. They installed an injection port with no apparent problem and then injected the juice. Very painful which the gal told me probably meant it wasn’t going to work. In other words she missed the vein and tapped into something else. But you can’t tell and the test, once started, can’t be stopped. Apparently the stuff injected is time sensitive and very expensive. At the end of the test they warned me that they wouldn’t know for a few hours but the likelihood was that I would have to do it again. That was the bad part. We then headed over to waterfront park and on to Moonrise. That was certainly an uptick. As was the shrimp and Yeungling at Sky Jacker’s. I’m supposed to get a call from the hospital after they’ve analyzed the results of the MRI but they’re pretty sure we’re going have to do it again. Bummer.

George’s memorial happened on Saturday. It was a nice crowd – maybe 50 people – in an interesting mix of Churchy folks and bikers. The churchers’ outnumbered the bikers so it was a coke and water event – no alcohol. Our local barbecue roadside guy catered it (as he’s done for several of our gatherings over the years) with ribs, chicken, pulled pork, beans and coleslaw plus about half the attendees brought dishes. We knew about half the people and got to meet several new ones including George’s cousin Teresa who has macular on the same scale as Nancy’s so those two hit it off real well. I actually got up the courage to say a few words to the crowd. I guess I did ok since nobody booed or thru tomatoes. Interestingly, the garden turned out to be a big attraction with lots of oohs and aahs and good questions. Several claimed to have given up trying and couldn’t believe what they were seeing. I’ll have to admit that it looks about as good as it possibly could and I’m glad I took a few hours last week and pulled weeds.

One of my oldest pineapple plants is “with child”. It’s one I planted in a large container a few years back and has produced offspring before. I suspect it’ll be on the table near the end of April.  Just like I’m surprised that we’re making another large pot of tomato sauce this late in the season.   The tomatoes just keep coming.

Cleaning the Driveway

About this time of year, the oak trees lose all their leaves and start pollinating.   Actually this year it all happened early and our driveway was inches deep in leaves.   The driveway is a couple hundred feet long and 8’ wide and the leaves were inches deep this year.   If you clear it too soon, you just have to repeat the process several times throughout the season so I usually wait until I’m sure the leaves have all fallen before taking action.  Actually I usually wait for Joey to come up with his high velocity blower and let him deal with it but he’s been too busy traveling this season so I decided to do it myself.  Also weeds had started growing under the leaves so the driveway needed both a good blowing and application of a herbicide.   All in all it took about 3 hours but it’s done.   The other driving force for getting it done was that Nancy can move the cars in the driveway if she can see it better – oak leaves blur her view.   So why do I want her to drive?  Remember I mentioned pollination – even with the cars in the carport about halfway up the driveway, they become quickly coated with pollen making it really hard to see out the windows and especially difficult to deal with when damp.   So before we take off in a car, it has to be hosed off.  That’s where Nancy comes in.   She’s legally blind and with no drivers license but she was confident she could drive the car down the driveway while I sprayed it.   I did a large trim job on all the brush along side the driveway to make it as wide as possible and then gave her the keys.   Worked perfectly.  

Can’t wait for the change to daylight savings time.  Works much better for my fishing in the lake.   I can fish at day break without getting up so early and can go out after dinner and still have plenty of daylight for a couple hours on the lake.   Florida is making noises about staying on it permanently which works for me.   

Got seedlings started for all the summer crop so now just waiting for garden space as the winter crops are harvested.  The only stuff that’s done for the year is the broccoli, lettuce and spinach. Still have lots of cabbage, kale, and Swiss chardf.   The way the weather shaped up this year, I still have quite a load in the garden -including last year’s summer stuff – tomatoes, green peppers, and egg plants.   I’ve never had those last so long and still producing.  They’ve been putting out goodies since last June and there are still new blossoms coming on.   Normally they give up the ghost in November but for some reason, these annuals are behaving like perennials.   I also have a few zucchini’s bushes out there, earlier than normal.   Every year is different.

Olivia seems to be having a great time in Guatemala with her language studies and Tom/Tina are touring  Europe. With stops in the Netherlands, Italy, and Switzerland.   And Chris just got a promotion in the job he’s only had since November.   

Adjusting the Friday Routine

Another garden driven dinner. I picked a couple of eggplants and some spinach which Nancy turned into parmigiana – of course using our home made, fresh tomato pasta sauce. When you make something like this, you get a couple of meals out of it – just can’t make a little one.

I finally got serious about starting the spring/summer garden. It’s hard to get excited about it when the current garden is producing at peak and there really isn’t any space available for new stuff. Having said that, I have half a dozen zucchini plants started in the garden and a 10’x4’ section planted in bush beans. On the porch I’ve planted seeds in peat pots for tomatoes, green peppers, eggplant, and basil. I’m planning that just about the time they’re ready for transplant to the main garden, there will be space available. There are several tomato plants in the garden that are definitely on their last legs and will come out this week to make room for cucumber seeds. I’m also yanking out lettuce at a good clip. It’s bolting and gets bitter tasting when too old. Makes good compost.

I tried my new Friday routine and had to make a slight adjustment. I park at the same waterfront park I’ve been using and walked to the Moonrise brewery – 35 minutes, 1 3/4 miles. Had my blood orange brew and realized that I was running about 1/2 hour ahead of schedule. Even though I stopped at Lowes after dropping Nancy off, with no grocery stop I was going to be way early which meant an hour at the library. I wasn’t wanting to do that. The only option was to have another brew. Problem solved. I think a 3 1/2 mile walk is good cover for a dual brew event. I don’t want to lose any weight.

Nancy went to a quilt show in Daytona. One of her quilt buddies took her and they apparently had a great time. I decided to try fishing off the dock with live bluegills for bait. I used to fish that way a few years back but haven’t in quite some time. The weather was perfect and I had a good book so …………. I hooked a really large catfish which surprised me. George used to catch small ones all the time off his dock but I never fish for them and have never had one attack a bluegill. It eventually got off but I did get a good tussle out of it.

Azalea Season in Full Bloom

Graham swamp turned out to be a bit more challenging than I had expected. Narrow paths in heavily forest with substantial elevation changes so about a mile into it, I wasn’t sure I hadn’t bitten off more than I could chew. The path was marked fairly well but there was a nagging feeling that it could be easy to get lost. I eventually found my way out and back to the car. I guess it was about a 3 mile venture. That’s about what I do on the water front park path but in that case, the path is flat and paved.

The PET scan didn’t show anything bad so I have to do another – a different kind of PET scan. This one requires no prep at all so it should be a piece of cake.

I think the Azaleas this year are the best they’ve been – ever. I didn’t trim them back at the end of last season so the bushes are much bigger and loaded with blossoms. We have several different colors and they’re happening at the same time so using the word spectacular is not out of line.

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When Chris was visiting Hawaii so often he kept telling us about having Acai bowls for breakfast. We never really knew what they were but read in the local paper that a bowl place was opening in Deland, right across the street from Persimmon Hollow. So after having a blood test draw yesterday, Nancy suggested we try it. It was a really small place and a bit difficult to find but we persevered and found it. They offered 4 standard bowls, each in two sizes, small and large. We choose two different small bowls and expected to get bowls mixed fruit and berries including Acai berries. I had it in mind that they were like cranberries. So we were surprised to find the bowl was made with frozen fruits and vegetables created in a blender so it ended up almost like frozen custard. Very sweet and very filling. I really struggled to get the small one down but really loved it. The place has only been open for a couple of weeks but they said business had been good – largely with Stetson students and sports teams from there. That fit since it just seems like the kind of place you’d expect to be populated with cutie coeds chattering away.

Olivia is heading to Guatemala for a few weeks of intense Spanish language training.  She’ll live with a local family and also volunteer in a medical capacity.   I’m sure she’ll have a great time but I still wish she wasn’t out of country.

Bye, bye Crescent City Bridge

Nancy has mostly given up on her Crescent City bridge game on Wednesday’s – people issues.   Instead she’ll add another day at Palm Coast, probably Fridays.   We did that yesterday and since it looks like a long term change, I decided to change my routine.  On Monday’s I normally hit either the beach or the Water Front Park to fish or hike, then Houligans for a draft brew, to Publix to work off a shopping list and finally to the library to check my email, check the market, read the paper and maybe pick up a book or two.   On my trial  run Friday, I did the same beach/hike – in this case the hike since my fishing spot is once again under beach restoration – then, instead of Houligans’  I hit a brew pub in the European Village called Moonrise.  I’ve known it was there but it’s closed on Monday so never tried it.  They had a nice blood orange wheat beer, a pleasant surprise.  From there I went straight to the library – one day a week at Publix is all we need (in the future I might change that from Monday to Friday since the gas card deal works on Fridays, not Mondays.)  The other thing on the Friday route is that I can actually walk (and have) from the Waterfront park to the European Village pub.  It’s about 2 miles each way so it all fits together nicely – walk two miles along the intracoastal, have a cold one, then walk back to the park.   This week, with the beach messed up, I’m planning a hike into Graham Swamp.  I’ve seen it but never tried it.

Picking eggplant now.  I think this is the first time for a winter garden.  This late in the season it’s very possible/likely we’ll have a frostless season.  That’s showing up as a never ending supply of tomato sauce – we made another large pot today – and the tomato plants seem to be going strong.  This is the first year I can remember that we’re picking serious tomatoes at the same time we’re picking spinach, other greens, and snow peas.   I took a flyer and planted some summer squash seeds – much earlier than normal – they popped out in a couple of days and appear to be thriving.  I’m also starting the next round of tomato and pepper plants – taking a little risk but also taking advantage of the mild winter/spring.  

Big Scan

Nancy had a hair appointment on Friday at 5PM and it just so happens that her place is only a couple blocks from Persimmon Hollow – my favorite brewery. They occasionally have a blood orange wheat beer that just hits the spot for me and this was one of those times. There’s a taco place just across the alley from the brewery and more often than not, we take advantage of it by grabbing a couple of tacos. This time I tried one I hadn’t before – called the Rowdy Neighbor. It was a pulled pork taco with hot peppers and was the perfect mate for the blood orange wheat brewski. I’ll need to try it a few times to make sure it’s the right combo but I’m up for the project. Nancy’s favorite brew is called a “dirty blonde” and her Taco is called the Risky Neighbor – a shrimp taco.

For years Nancy and her quilter friends have provided quilts to Shands hospital for the children’s infusion lab. The contact there moved to Orlando and took a position at Arnold Palmer children hospital and started the quilt thing there. So it was neat this week when she emailed a picture of a young boy with a brain tumor wrapped up in a gator quilt. Apparently the boy was very depressed and the doctor thought maybe a quilt would give him a lift. Pam, the contact, gave him a choice of three and he took the gator quilt. She said his spirits picked up right away. Then they came to take him for tests and put him in a wheel chair where he broke down. They asked him what was wrong and he said he wanted his quilt. She said as soon as he got it, the light came back on. That’s the picture we got.

Had a PET scan today – I think the first I ever had. The prep is interesting – 48 hours with no carbohydrates. I figured that was easy enough until I found out that more things are carbohydrates than I thought. I always thought that anything that was “white” was probably a carbohydrate – potatoes, rice, pasta, bread, cake (made with flour). So with all the goodies coming out of the garden, no problem. Turns out that veggies are also carbs. It seems that anything not a protein or fat is a carb. Also no coffee, caffeine, alcohol, juice, fruit and on and on. I ended up with a big ham and cheese omelet so no starvation concerns. They also said no exercise or strenuous activity – not a real problem. The test itself was easy but time consuming. You get an injection of some kind of sugar, wait for 90 minutes in a relaxed environment then lay dead still in a scanning machine for 20 minutes. All in all not a bad experience but different than your standard X-ray.   I’ll get the results next week.