Pain killer discovery

Got a new product endorsement to pass on. This one is bizarre and has to do with relieving aches and pains. Working in the garden and on my neighbors new Koi pond project, I develop aches and pains in a variety of spots on my body. For some reason the worst is always in my neck and shoulders. I’m sure it comes from shoveling dirt and moving it around in the wheel barrow. Nancy came home the other day after a bridge game in Crescent City and said she heard of a good remedy for muscle aches and had stopped by the Feed store to pick it up. I laughed when she showed me the plastic bottle of a gel called Bigeloil. It’s a product used by vets for treating animals but all the gals at the bridge club swear by it and claim an old family doctor up there put them on to it. I passed on it the first day but after another morning of heavy lifting, I was hurtin for certain. So I generously applied the gel and rubbed it in per directions. Within a few minutes I could feel it heating deeply and the pain in my neck and shoulders was gone. No kidding, gone. I carried it over to my neighbor’s who was hurting even more than me – his knees were the worst. He rubbed it on after taking a shower and 30 minutes later I got a call asking me where we had gotten it. His knees were pain free. As for me, after two days, still no pain.

It doesn’t smell, doesn’t stain or seem to do anything bad. There are lots of cautions about taking it internally so I won’t try it on a tooth ache. And I’ll probably give it a month to see if I start barking or mooing or growing fur on my neck. But so far, so good. The container says it’s good for arthritis and bucked shins – whatever a bucked shin is. Also strains, sprains, bruises, and superficial wounds. I’m going to make a wild ass guess that it won’t be covered by medicare.
The fall garden has taken off like a gunshot. Three days after I planted cucumber seeds, they had all germinated. The next day all the squash sprouted and most of the green beans. I would have expected all this to happen 5-10 days after planting. Sure hope they can take the heat. I had to move quickly to put up a temporary wire fence to keep out the rabbits which I saw eyeing the new shoots and licking their chops. We’re supposed to have the season’s first cold front coming in next week. Supposed to drop day time highs down to 87; night time lows to 70. This may not be a cold front by most standards but trust me, that will be a nice drop for us. And with that nice cool weather, I can start thinking about lettuce, cabbage, broccoli and the like. I’m going to try to control myself this year and keep a steady stream of new stuff going – avoiding gaps and veggie overloads. It’s mostly a self control issue because having any areas in the garden unplanted eats at my brain and I’m not very good at pacing the plantings. The other thing I’ll try to do is use wider spacing between plants. That should cut down on the overall crop size but make the plants happier. With any luck we should be eating out of the garden big time by the end of October and then right on thru until next July.

Another reason to love fall – college football. Go Gators. Relatively speaking they have an easy schedule and a better than average shot at winning the SEC championship. But all college football fans are on edge waiting to see which unrated, underdog will dump their heavily favored team.

fall garden startup

Here we go again. Ready to start up the garden after 6 weeks of solarization and 2 months of flooding rains. Not sure if the solarization will work as advertised since the rains had to have a cooling affect. About the only thing I learned was that almost nothing grows in the kind of heat and moisture we had this summer. Almost nothing – I did have success with a second planting of okra and the vining Malabar spinach. Didn’t seem even slightly intimidated by the climate. I thought my watermelons were another success but they got about half size and then just split and rotted on the vine. And of course the nematode killing marigolds thrived – too bad those aren’t edible.

I completely reformatted the garden with wider, raised rows in the hopes of promoting faster drainage. As of 9/15 the water level was just a few inches beneath the floor of the garden or about 12” below the raised rows. In leveling the garden I measured a 4” difference from one side of the garden to the other – that’s over a 20′ span – a fairly big slope to make up.

I had planted pepper seeds in pots about 8 weeks ago with the intent of having a good, late fall crop of peppers. But the rains kept coming and the pepper seedlings kept growing until it was put up or shut up time. The seedlings had grown so large, some plants were sporting blossoms – way larger than I had ever let grow before outside the garden. So the big question marks are: will it continue raining or can we hope for some drop in the ground water level? Hurricane season is not over yet but things look placid in the Atlantic – am I tempting Poseidon? Peppers just won’t grow with wet roots so this is a major gamble. Will the large plants transplant ok? I really have no choice; they are not going to get smaller. I planted 8 standard green bell peppers; 4 jalapenos; 8 volcano banana style – these were free seeds sent to me by a seed company so I figured no big loss if they crash. Our next door neighbor pickles the jalapenos so maybe these volcano peppers will make it in the same jars. We’ll be ok pepper wise if half of these make it.

Also planted another wide row with a space saving bush variety of cucumber, a bush variety of zucchini, and a semi-bush acorn squash. And a row of bush beans – half green beans and half wax beans. I’m hoping that it’s going to cool down a few degrees over the next couple of weeks with just the right amount of rain. Doesn’t seem like to much to ask. If all goes well, we could be harvesting these items in early Nov. Probably start the cool weather stuff in a few weeks when the daytime highs are consistently below 90.

Had my annual eye exam yesterday. I really hate it because it takes so long. First the office is always running behind; it’s always full; you get a regular exam then a dilation which takes 30 minutes to kick in; then another wait for the real doc to check for the tough stuff. After the doc does his examination he gives me the results. No problem he says. You have some cataracts starting and one of these days you’ll come in and complain about a little blur and glare and we’ll get rid of them; no problem, a little dry eye macular – but you won’t go blind. If you drink a little red wine, great for the macular – take two glasses instead of one. Great doc. He gives me a prescription for glasses

New computer

Finally got trapped into getting a new computer. My old Mac was just fine and all we needed but the internet kept shutting doors by demanding newer and newer access software. We decided on a laptop for a variety of reasons but the driving issue was that living out of the woods means a dial up connection or big bucks. It made it impossible to keep updated software without tearing the machine down and carrying it to Tommy’s for an annual software tuneup. With the laptop we figured we could just carry it off to a place with WiFi and do all the high speed things we needed then. The other thing that was motivating me towards a laptop was a particular program – Streets and Trips – which I thought would be a big help on long road trips – to fill in where the GPS was over it’s head. My big concern about a laptop was the smallish screen and the keyboard with scratchpad instead of a manly mouse. Tom and the guy at the Apple store demonstrated how we could attach a big monitor, keyboard, and mouse to the laptop. So we pulled the plug and bought a new MacBook – and a 24” monitor from Costco. Since the new mac engine will support both the mac operating system and Microsoft, I would be able to operate 100% in the familiar Mac environment and still run Streets and Trips.

I felt fairly confident that the transition would be easy. My confidence was in Tom’s ability to pull it off flawlessly, not my own. And it went smoothly with a couple of exceptions. One of my necessary conditions was to transfer a program that was no longer supported. I had a big time investment in several databases on Appleworks and the replacement program didn’t incorporate a database program. Tom had a workaround with a new program but I really hated to start down that path again. After two tries, Tom broke the code on that and Appleworks now works on the new computer. The other glitch was that we forgot to download a printer driver for a new printer that came with the computer. I knew we had not downloaded it but since there was a disk in the printer box, I assumed it was the driver. It was, but for PC’s not Mac’s. So we carried it back to Tom’s to get the proper driver loaded. So we are back up with the new machine, the big screen, and a real people size keyboard and mouse. Couldn’t be happier.

Last night we decided to see if this WiFi thing would really work. I knew it worked technically because it worked at Tommy’s house but was it really practical for us. I didn’t see me sitting for hours at Wendy’s soaking up megabits. So Nancy and I headed for Deland and slowly prowled the neighborhoods looking for open WiFi’s. Success!!! We found a good one in DeLeon Springs, just 6 miles from the house, and good ones in downtown Deland and at Gator’s landing. We sat in the parking lots and did our high speed stuff. I plan to do the same in Pierson which is only 3 miles away but am already secure with what we found. Personally I’m 98% ok with dial up but Tom put Nancy on Facebook and that is destined to consume her. So this way I just pack her lunch and her laptop and send her off to Facebook her little heart out. And we lived happily ever after. I f this passes the time test, I can see her getting one of those little netbooks and leaving the big, heavy laptop home with me.

Quilt party

Nancy hosted a party for her quilt group yesterday. Normally I wouldn’t mention it on my blog but in this case I was actually drafted to participate. The purpose of the party was to unveil quilts from each of the attendees. These quilts were all built to a certain set of rules and out of sight of the others. Quilts are built by making squares and then sewing the squares together. In this event, each member submitted a pattern for a square. So if there are 10 participants, there are 10 different square pattern designs. The rule is that each quilt has to be built from these squares. The quilter can use additional square patterns, or use any particular square multiple times but each quilt must have each square included at least once. No rules on the material to be used, the colors, or the overall quilt design – totally up to the imagination of the quilter. I think they have 6 months or so to complete the quilt. At the party they each bring in the fruits of their labors all hidden in bags. Here’s where I come in. They give me the bags and then go off to chat, gabber and eat while I set up a display. In this case I had hung a clothesline on our porch and hung all the quilts on the line. I took pictures of all the quilts and then let them know the show was on. The amazing thing to me is that none of the quilts looked the same. In fact, unless somebody had told me, I would never have picked up on the fact that they all used the same squares. With totally random color selection, totally random square arrangement, they were completely different end designs. I can’t begin to describe them but several were geometric arrangements of the blocks, one was a school house, and one was a giraffe. You really had to get up close and study them to spot that they used a common basis.

Rain, rain, and more rain. We are inches from the lake topping the dock. No giant rains as in hurricane rains, but just a succession of 1” days. You know how you see pictures of Asian farmers stooping over planting rice – give me a straw coolie hat and I would look the same. And there are no signs of a let up. Rain chances are forecast at 50% as far as the forecasts go. That’s down from 70% but has really made no difference. My neighbors dock is now underwater with even a little wave action. In a few days it will be over even when totally calm.

Saw some kids who were really happy with the wet weather. I was driving to the beach on a 2 lane, country road. All 2 lane, country roads in Florida have drainage ditches just off the shoulder of the road and right now, all these drainage ditches are full. These particular ditches were fairly wide, maybe 10-12′. I noticed something weird coming at me and was surprised to see a 4 wheel ATV with a couple of boys – maybe 12-14 year olds, driving at a pretty good rate on the shoulder. They had a long rope out the back and were pulling a tube in the ditch with a couple of teener girls hanging on and whoopin’ it up. You know somewhere there are sets of parents thinking their kids are just out exploring on the 4 wheeler. Not sure which was more dangerous, riding on the ATV or the tube.

Had to stop the other day when driving down our little two lane road to let a flock of turkeys cross. I counted 10. They were just walking leisurely across the road, with no particular concern about me bearing down on them. I lived the first 60 years of my life never seeing a wild turkey (except on a bar shelf) and now routinely come across large flocks all over the place.

Trip report

We just got home from a 10 day trip visiting friends and family. We hit most of the SE going thru AL, MI, LA, TX, OK, MO, IL, KY, TN, NC, SC, Ga and back to Fla. I think we logged about 3500 miles. A few big picture observations:

1. Almost no motor homes on the road. The last time we made a road trip of this magnitude we were amazed at just how many motor homes were on the road. Now, none.

2. All the corn fields across the top of Miss and Louisiana and Texas were burned up. Fields and fields of tall, dead corn. All the corn fields across Missouri, Illinois, and Kentucky were tall, green, and healthy looking. So you can sure tell where the drought is and isn’t.

3. The Dallas area is one, huge road construction zone. And one huge traffic jam. By Dallas area I’m talking a 50 mile radius around Dallas.

4. Interstate 40 from Tennessee through North Carolina is one of the nicest, most scenic interstate drives around. I prefer off interstate driving but this is one big exception.

5. Quilting is becoming bigger and bigger. For the first time there are actually billboards along the road advertising quilt shops. I think that’s over the top; Nancy thinks it’s a sign of progress.

6. South Carolina peaches are the best in the galaxy.

7. People drive faster on I-95 in Florida than anywhere. If you try to hold it at 75 you will be passed on the left, on the right, and have some jerk pushing your rear bumper.

8. Portable GPS navigators are a 98% solution. Except in South Carolina where they’re a 48% solution. I was glad I stuck a couple of AAA maps in the glove compartment just in case. At one point we ended up on a dirt road through a car junk yard before I reached for the old standby. I was tempted to pitch the unit when it had me making a hard left turn in the middle of a bridge but Nancy saved it. It redeemed itself by finding Holloway’s Country Store in nowhere Tennessee.

Highlights of the trip were:

1. Luke and I beat Nancy and Mary at bridge one evening. If you add up 3 days, we sucked gas again but just that one night, we reigned tall.

2. Tommy’s living quarters in Columbia passed muster. He is helping his college guy tight budget by foregoing haircuts. It works for him.

3. Discovering a squirrel nest under our hood. In Kentucky I decided to check the oil and did a scan around under the hood. Up by the windshield on the passenger side I spotted what appeared to be a large bird nest. I pulled it out and noticed that the critters had eaten through a piece of flexible wire conduit and eaten away the insulation on one of the ground wires. No other wire was bared so luckily we weren’t shorting out. My nephew Ali repaired the damage in SC and we noticed that a deep depression on top of the engine block was full of wild cherry pits. It was a cavity maybe 4” x 4” x 2” deep and was chock full. We were able to work a vacuum hose down to suck them out. We’re probably very lucky the whole mess didn’t go up in flames.

4. Attending the Christening of our great-great niece, Grace Marie. Aside from me, we finally have a nice little Episcopal person in the family. No lightning or alarm bells when I passed through the portals. And she basically slept through the event even with 3 cups of water being dribbled on her head.