great week

Had a great week. My grandson, Tommy, came up and spent a week with us – to help me clear jungle and to chill out after a grueling finish to his Junior year. We really got lots done and have very large piles of debris to dispose of – if and when my chipper gets out of the shop. Simon comes up next week so maybe he and I can complete the chipping operation. I probably could have done it all myself but instead of taking 4 days it would have taken me 2-3 weeks. I don’t intend to ever let it get so far out of hand again.

It wasn’t all work of course. We spent most evenings down on the dock fishing. Tommy became an expert on catching bait sized bluegill and had a few opportunities to feed the pet bass. In fact he couldn’t resist and one night put one of the little bream on his cane pole and immediately hooked the bass. I wasn’t too concerned that he would land it with the flimsy pole and #10 hook but it gave him a huge tussle for about 5 seconds. For the next few nights he was no where to be found then last night, he reappeared and started gobbling bream again. The fishing wasn’t that great but the company was good. It all peaked last night between 8 and 8:30 PM when the bass suddenly went crazy. We got three with Tommy landing one fairly nice one. Between bass there were turtles stealing the bait so all in all it was exciting.

One day after clearing jungle for a few hours we headed over to the coast to do some crabbing. We struck out at the spot where Simon and I did so well last year; struck out at Tomoka Park; but struck gold at HighBridge. Tommy is really fast and actually netted one that was dropping off the bait. We ended up catching fewer than Simon and I did but they were bigger. We stopped at Publix to pick up some crab boil – that’s a seasoning you put in the boiling water before the crabs. Nancy had the pot boiling when we pulled in and within a couple of minutes she and Tommy were feasting on an appetizer of fresh blue crabs.

phase 2 garden

Started replanting the garden. The broccoli played out and the cucumbers just never amounted to much so I decided to just put them out of their misery and yank them. We got a great primary crop of broccoli and secondary heads for a few weeks so I guess the score to date is 1 and 1. I added 7 bags of composted cow manure to those areas and replanted with cucumber seeds where the broccoli did so well and beans where the cuc’s had done so poorly. I think the first bean planting from March 20 will play out next week and I’ll replant it with squash. The beans are great but the first planting only yielded maybe 60%. The second and third planting of the same seeds are doing incredibly well so either the soil in the first area was just too poor or maybe it was too cool when we planted. We did get a wintry blast a week or so after they germinated. Before replanting that section I’ll fortify it with the compost. I’m thinking that will be it for the hot crops. I’m not planning to add anything now until probably september. What’s really coming on strong – the eggplant. Great looking healthy plants with loads of blossoms. I love to grow eggplants and only wished I like to eat them. We also started a compost/mulch pile using the remnants from a camphor tree George cut down last week. We each have major chippers and can reduce a tree or shrubs to mulch in a heartbeat. I had a backlog of 3 months worth of palmetto fronds to deal with. All in all I spent 4 hours working the garden today and was totally bushed by about 2 PM. I came in, jumped into a cold shower and turned the AC down to 75. I had been wearing sandals so my feet were at least 3 showers dirty. Maybe by Sunday the true color will resurface.

Since I’ve been otherwise occupied for about 6 months, the jungle managed to creep ever closer to the “yard”. I decided to try to make up for the gap in attention by tackling a section every day. It really is unbelievable how quickly the undergrowth and vines regain control over the areas I had diligently cleared. I’ve accumulated huge piles in just a couple of days and have only covered maybe 10% of what needs to be done. Little Tommy is coming up later this week and I plan to take full advantage of his youth and vigor in tackling the heavy stuff. I usually burn the trash but with the drought has come a burning ban so out comes the chipper to convert it into little bits and pieces. I haven’t run it in about 3 years so I’m guessing it will take me a day to get it cranked up again. I’ll introduce Tommy to the pull rope and leave the technical adjustments to me. Probably the drought is the only thing that has kept the jungle from really taking over.

Lake report – low, low, low. It is now dry to the second piling out from shore. Depth at the end ladder 3′. My pet bass still has enough water to live under the dock and gobble up small bream so not too bad.

Reality sets in

I’ve had 3 jolts of reality this week and it’s reset my clock.

First I got my diploma from the treatment center. Nancy read that as “ok, back to the yard work”. I had a built in pass as long as I was getting zapped daily but when that ended, my pass was pulled in a heartbeat. I played the 30 day card but we’re back to real life. The silver lining on my dark cloud has been yanked.

It was confirmed last night that American Idol is not a contest to see who’s the best singer. I was fairly certain when some really low life talent lasted well into the contest but in the last two weeks, clearly the best singing talent was eliminated. I understood keeping the one with the long legs in much longer than her talent suggested; sort of a potted plant. And I knew from the get go that a fat girl like Lakisha, no matter how talented, couldn’t win. But knocking off the best singer and leaving one very good and one dud, tells you exactly what it’s all about. Melinda was just too old to get the teeny bopper votes. Reality

And finally and perhaps the most devasting, I found an error in a published Soduko puzzle today. Up until now I assumed that they were computer generated and therefore error free. When a puzzle didn’t work out, I took it on faith it was me that screwed it up. And I could live with that just fine. But it will never be the same now that I know the puzzle can have a printed error and that is possibly the source of the puzzle not working out. Would you want to work a jigsaw puzzle if you knew that maybe a piece didn’t fit; or work a crossword puzzle if you knew that only a misspelled word fit? For those of you in disbelief and saying that you know I just screwed up and blamed the puzzle man – I’m cutting it out and preserving it for proof. They print the solutions tomorrow and it will show it all worked out – can’t wait to see the one they show vs the one they printed today.

I think I’m going to spend the rest of the day fishing off the dock to get my head right.

last treatments

Tomorrow is my last day of treatments – #39. I can’t believe how fast the time went. According to the doctor only about 10% of the patients go through as smoothly as I did with virtually no side affects. He said that whatever minimal affects I am experiencing will be gone within a few weeks. That’s good because I’ve been very reluctant to take my kayak fishing while this freqent-urgent thing is going on. Getting in and out of a kayak up the Tomoka river is not something you take lightly. I go back again in 90 days after blood work and then 6 months after that. All in all it’s been a much more benign process that I ever thought possible.

We went to South Carolina this weekend to my niece Megan’s graduation from the University of South Carolina. What a great experience. We are so proud – having known Megan since she was an infant and now to see her achieve such an important milestone. Her degree is in Special Education and I know she’ll be a special kind of teacher. By hard work she got through in four years with zero student debt.

We flew up and back from Sanford to Spatanburg on Allegiant Airlines with Tom and Olivia. The baggage was a bit slow at both ends but other than that, the trip was fine. I love using these smaller airports – that is if you have to use an airport at all. When we got back to Sanford, Tina picked us all up and they took us out to dinner for Mother’s day. Nancy loves PF Chang’s so nothing would have suited her any more. They have a seperate, gluten free menu so Simon and Tina had very nice choices.

We’re starting to get some rain so all the local fires are fairly well controlled. I believe the closest we’ve come (so far) to a fire is 15-20 miles but the smoke hs been dense enough at times that we couldn’t see across the lake. Our concern is that with things so dry, a nearby lightning strike could start something very close to home. Come on rain!

bachelor week

Nancy took off for a quilting convention in Salt Lake City on Tuesday so this has been a bachelor week for me. It’s a show intended for quilting professionals and not open to the general public so she jumped at the chance to attend. A friend of her’s designs patterns and lines of fabric for a major fabric manufacturer and she is unveiling this year’s collection at the show. The most significant change here at the ranch is that I’ve added an hour to cocktail hour. And once again, I go a full week with no screwups. It’s amazing but when Nancy’s here I’m always doing things wrong but when she leaves, I never make a mistake. And it’s sooooooo quiet. I banged a frew pots last night just to make some noise.

The lack of rain has significantly dropped the level of the lake – between 3 and 4 feet. Normally you can climb from the water onto the dock using the ladder without touching bottom. Now you have to stand on the bottom and that’s not a good thing because the bottom is squshy and most people don’t like to stand on a squshy bottom. Nancy or Tina would just not be able to deal with it. So I decided to make that better by dumping sand around the base of the ladder to make a nice, firm standing area. I’ve dumped 6 wheel barrows of fill sand and stomped it into the soft bottom using the Italian grape squeezing technique. Much mo betta. Hope it dosn’t mess up my pet bass.

Speaking of the bass. He may not be as fast as I thought but he sure can see better than I guessed. I had a small bream on a hook ready to cast and was dangling him about 4′ over the water while contemplating exactly where to cast – no more than 5 seconds I would estimate. As I started swinging the bait, the bass came out from under dock and made a lunge at where he thought the bass would drop. I had no idea he could actually see the bait 4′ up in the air and that explains how he was able to nab any bream I tossed in so quickly.

Down to my last 7 days of radiation treatments. Still no side affects to any big extent. Based on this new equipment, it sure makes sense for guys to get their PSA checked. A few of the guys I’ve met let it go too long and they have to get hormone injections along with an extended -44 vs 39 – radiation treatment regimen. Apparently the hormone shots do have some negative side affects and the guys really don’t like getting them.

We’re officially eating out of the garden. Between us and the Sousa’s, we’ve consumed 6 brocolli heads and a load of jalapeno and banana peppers. Yesterday Barbara got a nice mess of crooked neck squash and then brought me over a jar of pickled peppers she made. They were outstanding!!! I did find a grasshopper nibbling on a cucumber leaf which means the critters are probably ready to launch an attack.