last weekend

Had a fun, interesting, educational weekend. On Saturday we hooked up with Joey at Canaveral National Seashore. He had a weekend charter and planned to anchor in the New Symrna end of Mosquito Lagoon where the river and the ocean are only a few hundred feet apart. They anchor about 500 yds from shore and ferry their passengers over to the beach for a day of sun and fun. We go to that same beach quite often so it sounded like fun to meet up with them for the day. Along with their clients, two other couples from the Marina joined along with their own boats so when all was said and done there were 11 of us. We were quite lucky to get a parking space. When we got there the smallish parking lot was totally full and only by luck, we decided to hang back and wait to see if anybody pulled out which happened. When we unloaded the car and walked over the dune to the beach I was very surprised to see no one on the beach. With all those cars, I assumed it would be mobbed. I looked down the beach and maybe 1/4 mile down there were many beach umbrellas and obviously lots of people. I wondered why they would all leave the immediate area where the bathrooms and showers were and trudge down so far to set up camp. I’m thinking maybe there were some shark sightings, some jellyfish, or maybe bad currents where we were and the people had all moved down to safer territory. Mark and one of the customers had got there a bit ahead of us and set up a nice sun canopy so we headed a couple hundred feet down to there and put up our umbrella and chairs. A bit later the whole crew arrived and we just started doing the normal beachy things – drinking beer, surf fishing, and some swimming. I mentioned that I wondered what was the big attraction down the beach and was told “oh, that’s a clothing optional area”. OK. After drinking a brew, I went down to the water’s edge and started gathering sandfleas for bait. One of the couples with Joey’s party walked down to see what I was doing and then dragged me along with them for a walk – toward the nudie area. OK. I’m focused intently on finding and capturing bait so I was mildly surprised when I looked up and noticed that the gal I was walking with had already taken off her top. It wasn’t a big piece of clothing to start with so only a few more inches were exposed but they were in fact totally exposed. By this time we have arrived at the population center and sure enough, nobody was wearing anything – but me and the gal’s husband. I noticed a decided absence of tan lines. I can honestly say I’ve never been around so many nude people and that’s about all I’m going to say on the subject except to add that I know for sure that I don’t have any heart problems.

And we caught quite a few fish.
We left the beach about 4PM and headed for a small Italian restaurant/wine bar called Romesco’s to use a gift certificate we’d received last Christmas. That experience was as surpising as the nudie beach. Joey had told us it was good so we were expecting good food but the surprise came when we got the antipasto we ordered. Real antipasto is not a lettuce based salad with some meat and cheese as it is often served in lesser, pseudo-Italian restaurants. The real stuff as served in Italy, Philadelphia, NY and other advanced Italian food places is mostly olives, cheeses, and thinly cut, fine cold cuts. Along with some marinated onions, perhaps roasted peppers, pickled cloves of garlic, dried tomato – all drizzled with a fine olive oil and seasoned with oregano. And that’s exactly how it was served along with crusty Italian bread. There were probably five or six different varieties of olives, that many different cheeses and the thinnest cut prisciutto, mortaldello and genoa salami you could have. It had been so long since Nancy or I had experienced the real thing, that when it came we just looked at each other and smiled. The antipasto and a couple of glasses of nice wine hit the spot perfectly.

yard stuff

For the past few years I’ve been planting bromiliads along the path to the lake. Bromilads are air breathers rather than soil based plants with exotic, tropical looking blooms. There are literally hundreds of varieties and I probably have a dozen or so. Normally they’re considered house plants but I’ve just placed them in trees and along the path in places that just look like they need something exotic. They almost never bloom but when they do it’s spectacular and very long lasting – a bloom can last months. I walked down the path this morning and counted 7 blooms. For me that’s a world record since I’ve only ever seen one at a time – except in the nursery. Each variety has a totally different style bloom and the picture above is one I particularly like.

Another piece of garden breakthrough news – the yellow grapefruit has some brand new fruit. It bloomed as usual in March and has a few dozen nice fruits with maybe a 4” diameter. They’re starting to turn from dark green to light greenish yellow. I was blown away yesterday to spot a few brand new micro grapefruits popping out of new blossems. If they hang in, that means we should have grapefruit on into next May – a four month extension of the vodka and grapefruit season. How great is that!!

And the guava’s are ripening. I have guava trees all over the place. My neighbor planted some way back in the past. Squirrels and birds love them so it’s a scramble to get some but the critters spread the seeds which must be indigestable. Consequently I have trees sprouting all over the property. I think the only regular use for guavas is guava jelly but I’m not a jelly person so I just pop them down the hatch like eating a strawberry. I have to get them just on the early side of ripe since the critters nab them as soon as they fully ripen so they’re not quite as sweet as you might like.

charmin garmin

Our neighbor Rick recently bought a new truck and an off market Garmin navigation system. His brother George is on vacation for a few months so we’ve started taking Rick out to dinner with us. The other day he suggested we take his truck so we would see how nice it is and also get to see the Garmin in action. To make the event complete, we accessed the “food” selection on the Garmin and looked for a new place. We found one called Blue Forrest Water Company and told the nav system to take us there. It’s one of those that gives voice directions as well as displaying a map. It did a fine job for the first 10 miles. At that point we were in the middle of a conversation when the nav voice told us to make a turn. We missed it. Miss Garmin immediately told us to hang loose that she was figuring a new route. This new route took us through a housing development with hundreds of streets and turns. They came up so fast that Rick missed half of them – in engineering terms, the calculation time for the Garmin was longer than the drive time to the new solution – and the poor gal was having to constantly recalculate a new path. If the unit had been equipped with a hand, no doubt she would have reached out and grabbed Rick by the throat but she remained calmer than we did. In retrospect she needed to say “ yo, Rick – stop and give me a minute here to get us out of this mess”. We managed to finally get out of the development and onto the road we had initially missed. She said to stay on the road for 1.8 miles and then turn onto Green Dairy Road. We went right past Green Dairy Road even though she was telling us to turn. The reason for that is that the road is only a hundred yards or so before a stop light and we all assumed the stop light was at Green Dairy Road. U-turn. Green Dairy Road is a very narrow, but paved road. It didn’t have a sign so the only way we really knew we were on the right road was by looking at the displayed map. She told us to go 1.x miles and turn right onto West Kentucky. West Kentucky was paved to the left but a dirt road to the right. By now we’re fairly certain that this new restaurant was going to be very interesting and that we wouldn’t have a traffic problem. After several hundred yards the width of the dirt road was such that trees were going to scratch the sides of the truck and it started looking very soft. We backed out which gave Miss Garmin more headaches. We gave up on the Water Company and decided she wasn’t a good source of restaurant leads. We gave it another chance by plugging in a place we knew was in downtown Deland and let her guide us out. She did but not without one more hitch in the getalong. She took us back using the paved section of West Kentucky and telling us to turn left at CR4209 or some number like that. Turns out that 4209 is Plymouth Ave but there were certainly no 4209 signs. We all knew that Plymouth was where we wanted to turn and the visual said to turn. We went straight to downtown Deland from that point and faked her out one more time with a change in our restaurant selection. It was a fun trip but took us three times as long as it should have. My favorite part was that once we missed that first turn, about every 3 minutes or so Miss Garmin would chime in and advise us that there is a better route than the one we chose. If I could, I’d have returned the throat clutch onto Miss Garmin.

lake project

The low lake level has made swimming a bit more difficult. Not really difficult to swim but more difficult to get in and out of the lake. The last rung on the ladder too high with respect to the lake bottom. In the past you swam up to the ladder and simply stepped onto the appropriate rung, never touching bottom. Now the water is only 3′ deep at the ladder (normally 6′) and the last rung was just above the surface making that first step 3+ feet. That was a bit much for Nancy and to make it worse, the bottom is a bit gooey so you sank down into a few inches of muck. I had dumped about 10 or so wheelbarrow loads of sand but that didn’t really solve the problem for the more squeamish swimmers. This past weekend Joanne, Johnny and Edna came up and I was kind of embarrassed that getting in and out of the water was so difficult. Not that it kept Nancy and Joanne from spending about 6 hours floating and gabbing, but two fixes this week have solved the problem completely.

The idea came from across the lake where our trailer neighbors had built a boat ramp last week using bags of quickcrete on top of fill dirt. It occurred to us that we could just put bags of quickcrete underwater to form a nice solid base around the ladder. Johnny assured us that the bags would harden quite quickly and last a million or so years.

When George made the ladder he cut in a rung slot beneath the last rung. I was able to piece together a rung from bits and pieces of lumber I had around. That extends the ladder effectively about 10”. Then the bags of quickcrete around the base of the ladder would add another 8” of height and make the bottom nice and hard. My plan was to get little Tommy up to the lake when he got home from Utah and between us make the pad. I knew the concrete bags were 60# but figured somehow he and I could deal with it. As luck would have it, Joey called and said he was coming up to the lake for a casual visit. I said “great, and on your way up how about stopping by Lowe’s and getting 14 bags of quickcrete”. A few hours later he and Mark were on the scene. And I’m really glad. Sixty pounds doesn’t sound all that heavy but as soon as we started manhandling the bags down to the lake and into the water, I knew it would have been more than Tommy and I could have handled. It took about a half hour but the end result is first class with a nice 4’x4′ concrete pad so all our squeamish friends and relatives can now come back to the lake to swim. But now that the problem is solved, watch the rains come and fill up the lake again.

Lake News

Or lack thereof. Nothing going on of any importance. We’re getting an occasional rain now so the lake is creeping up. It probably rose 4-6” in July but for sure we have plenty of room for a couple of rainy, rainy hurricanes.

Last year I bought a small electric chain saw as part of our hurricane preparedness kit. I like electric appliances because I know they will work and I’ve never seen a gas chain saw that will start easily if not used more or less daily. Of course the disadvantage is not having electricity after a storm but I have a good generator and plenty of extension cords so as long as the generator starts, I should be able to cut my way out. It’s not a stretch to assume that a good wind storm could bring down a couple of trees across our driveway and isolate us for a few days. After I bought it I tried it out on a couple of trees and decided to wack down three dead ones this past week. One of the trees came down exactly where I’d aimed it; the second was generally in the right spot – maybe a few feet off; the last one totally had a mind of it’s own and crashed down 90 degrees from the target area and crushed a few plants that weren’t supposed to be crushed. I managed to do the job with no crushing or cutting blows to my body so I call it a big success. The first time I did it, I ended up with a tree on top of me and took 10 minutes trying to figure out how to get out from under it. I’m just not a chain saw kind of guy.

We had an old derelict house trailer on the road coming to the house and it really trashed up the neighborhood. It had been there for years and was apparently hurting some of the local property owners who were trying to sell. The owner started tearing it down about 9 months ago. A guy came in and stripped off all the metal in a few weeks so initial progress was good. A couple of months later, a big piece of construction equipment came in and pushed it over but left it pretty much intact. Over the next several months nothing happened except people coming by and stealing lumber so it remained a large trash pile. I had heard the plan was to burn it but we were in a “no-burn” zone until June. Last week they started burning it off, bit by bit. As of today, it’s just a pile of ash and a pile of sheet metal which the initial strip job missed and I suspect it will be totally cleaned up by this weekend. Needless to say we’re all glad that eyesore is history but it did add a certain redneck character to the place.