Cockpit problems

Had a great couple of times this week with both grandsons calling just to fill us in on what’s going on in their life. Tommy just got back from a Spring Break vacation in Bozeman. One of his college buddies lives there and invited several out for the experience. In about two months he heads off for an internship on a magazine in LA and really seems to have his head screwed on right about his future. Simon called to confirm that as soon as school ends, he wants to come up to spend a week at the lake before he starts his summer job. We discussed such details as him bringing up a kayak and exactly where we’d be fishing. It’s funny, no matter at what age I interfaced with them, I always thought it was just the perfect time in their life to bond. That is anytime after they were old enough to go off camping or fishing with me – age 4+. I know I taught them lots of stuff and it’s neat now to be on the learning side of the relationship. It really makes me feel special when they ask my opinion about something.

Then to put the icing on the cake, Olivia called and asked if I could help her with some algebra. Tom is out of town and she has a test pending and was not too sure of herself. I haven’t done any math tutoring since Chris was in high school so rusty is probably too kind an adjective to describe the current state of my prowess. I looked up material on the internet to see if there was any hope I would understand it and surprisingly, It came back fairly quickly so I took a stab at it. I actually think I was able to shed some light on a few things for her but came away feeling good that she was right on top of it. She has the basics down well.

Had another go at the Apple store. The ear phones that came with the ipod seemed to me to have a broken wire or bad interface that caused it to occasionally drop out. So I took it in and found out in about 3 seconds that the problem was that I wasn’t pushing the connector all the way in. That felt good. But aside from that, I didn’t really feel comfortable with the ear buds that come with it. I have a size 2 ear and they are size 4 ear buds or something. So while I was there it made sense to check out other earphones and sure enough they had an array of fine offerings starting at about $150 on up to some very nice Bose noise canceling headphones. I asked the guy if the bigger headphones would cause the ipod battery to discharge faster. Nope, the earphones are totally powered by internal batteries. Any chance my 10 year old Bose QuietComforts would work – special adapter or something. Not to worry says the Apple dude – your old Bose will work just fine. And they do and are awesome. Bye bye size 4’s. So the cockpit problem with the earbuds saved me a couple hundred dollars. And just for kicks I asked the guy if there was any way he could help get the Appleworks program I have, which is no longer supported, working on my laptop. Turns out the magic program that does just that is on the OS installation disk and he told he how to load that program specifically and nothing else. Haven’t tried it yet but if it works as advertised, that was the best trip to the Apple store ever.

Clean garden

Our garden is located on my neighbor’s property. He has a great spot with plenty of sun so I do all the gardening and they share the results. We pick much more than they do for a couple of reasons. First, they eat out a lot whereas we mostly eat at home; second, I tend to grow stuff we like so some of the items are not necessarily in their normal diet. I specifically ask them if there’s anything they would especially like to try to balance things a little better. I know they like collard greens so this year I planted a half dozen collard plants which Barbara picked several times and seemed to enjoy. In January George mentioned that he liked Kale to make his favorite Portuguese kale soup. So I picked up some seeds and raised 6 kale plants. Kale is not something I would normally eat and have always viewed it as decoration for real food – like putting a touch of green beside a pork chop to make it look healthy – but I like trying to grow new things and I owe the neighbor a few feet of garden space. When the plants got a little size he told me I picked the wrong kind; mine were curly leaf and he likes the non curly leaf varieties. Tough.

Earlier this week Barbara picked a load of kale and made the soup. She brought over a big bowl which I really didn’t want but thought maybe Nancy would like – she loves soup. I tasted it and decided I did like it but it was way too hot (spicy hot) for Nancy. I decided to cook up a bowl for lunch today and see if my first impression held through a full bowl. To me it’s an ugly soup so if you eat with your eyes, you are going to pass by this quickly. The cooked kale is a way different color than the fresh kale in the garden – it turns a camo green-khaki and really looks like something you don’t want to eat. The soup is also loaded with kidney beans and chunks of potato which are not so good looking either. When you run a spoon through it, you immediately understand the term “hardy soup” and want to reach for a hunk of crusty bread to fill out the image. It has to be so loaded with vitamins and hot spices that you don’t want to spill any on the bar where the energy of the soup would eat a hole. But man was it good. Very filling, very good. Make no mistake, the kale goes in the garden a bit earlier next year.

Barbara said this was particularly good Kale – so much for picking the wrong kind – but the real thing was that it was so clean. She had told me the same thing about the collards. I didn’t know it but I guess when you buy collards and also Kale, it is often sandy and difficult to clean. She said her sister in-law quit making Kale soup just because she could never get all the sand/dirt out of it. She gave some of the collard greens to her daughter and when I asked her how she liked them, she said they were really sweet and very clean. So I guess that’s a big deal. I think I know why mine are so clean. By now I am growing in soil that is highly organic with not too much “dirt”. That, plus as the plants grow I continually add new compost on top of the ground to add nutrients but mostly to keep weeds from growing. I suspect in most gardens the wind whips up the dirt up into the leaves but in our garden, there just isn’t much dirt to whip up. Who’d a thunk it???

Other garden news – about half way through the brussels, little green tomatoes popping out on all 12 plants, corn up a couple of inches, finished off the snow peas, and the cucumbers are starting to climb the trellis. The 4 squash plants I am growing under cover look big and healthy so my concerns about blocking too much sun appear unwarranted. Having to pick and eat the red lettuce fast before it bolts and the iceberg is forming up heads. The chard always amazes – the more you pick the faster and bigger it grows. If history serves, it will hold until June when it finally succumbs to the heat. I don’t eat it but the bridge and quilting ladies love it so I’m responsible for their good health and long life. Come to think of it, Esther commented on how “clean” it was.

Power restored

The great storm I mentioned last post finally ended. We got about 2 1/2” of rain before all was said and done and the power was restored about 4PM – 24 hours later. In two days the rain total was 3 1/4” which was badly needed. I refueled the generator at noon and got a good calibration on how much fuel the generator uses under the modest load we have; TV, fridge, freezer, a few lights, the computer and, most importantly, the well and septic tank pumps. Looks like a half gallon an hour is about right. The tank on the generator is 5 gallons so we can run 8-10 hours comfortably. I think I have 14 gallons on standby so that would get us a couple of days if need be. Plenty of propane for the Holland and stuff to grill. About the only real inconvenience was not having hot water for a shower. The weather was such that we wouldn’t have been using either heat or air conditioning anyway. If you hadn’t known, there was really no difference between running on the generator or having the regular power service. The generator provides 5600 watts continuous and 8000 surge watts, very adequate for our needs. I was ok with the whole thing but Nancy was not pleased that instead of her regular viewing, such as Regis and Kelly, all that was broadcasting was storm info, all channels, all the time. I didn’t really feel her pain since I had the XM radio with Fox News and the Bose headsets. That’s all I need for a peaceful survival mode. If things really turned bad, there’s cold beer in the fridge.