Fishing, not so good

Doesn’t it make perfect sense that if two people are going away together for the same amount of time and to the same place that they should have equal space in terms of luggage, gear, eating material, reading material etc etc etc? Fishing gear = sewing gear; clothes = clothes; adult beverages = other beverages. If the two suit cases are not of equal size, shouldn’t you flip a coin or do rock, paper, scissors to see who gets the larger one? I think all this is covered in the Constitution – which it appears does not apply in Pierson.

At the beach – Tommy came up to the lake on Saturday and helped us make the move to the beach. Joey came up shortly after we arrived so we had a nice afternoon that was topped off with 2 bluefish. I took that as an omen that the fishing was going to be great but as of Monday evening, those two fish comprise the total catch. We topped Saturday off with an awesome burger at the Turtle Shack then hit the pier, my favorite breakfast spot, Monday AM. Clearly I’m a beach person. I must revert to my teen age years mentally because everything on the beach is better – better food, better music, better happy hours etc etc. One thing different this year is that we are here later in the season and the weekend crowds show it. The weather was awesome and the crowds responded. By Monday all was well and the crowds dissipated as hoped for.

I got my birthday present from Tom a month or so early. He got me a Ninja bullet juicer so that I can start taking advantage of the garden greens right away. I had fairly well convinced myself that I was going to buy one soon so this is a much welcome gift. A fair number of the people who we provide with garden goodies use juicers and swear by them. Nancy has not been too high on the idea because she thinks I don’t eat enough now and this is going to exacerbate that concern. The concern I have is along the same lines but more has to do with my wardrobe. I sized up to XL back in the mid 80’s, the Utah period, and stayed there until nearly 2010. I dropped back to L after all the prostate procedures and my closet has gradually transitioned from XL to L. I don’t ever recall being an M but not sure I’m mentally prepared for an L to M conversion which I can see happening if I start drinking Kale smoothies.

My Night to Cook

Joey decided to plunge into gardening and is close to picking his first crops. The advantage to me is that between us we can try different varieties and compare results and techniques. For example he’s taking a course of pruning his tomato plants whereas I let mine grow with as little interference as possible. I’ve thought about pruning in the past but this will give us a great opportunity to compare results. I also just took the plunge and ordered half a dozen new varieties of lettuce said to be extremely heat tolerant. We’re going to split the cost of the seeds which makes a wide experiment worth while.

One thing that keeps knocking on my door is the need for a juicer. Now that both Joey and Tommy have them and swear by them, I guess I have to take the plunge. The recommendation is for one of the small, 8 ounce varieties that chew up everything and spit out smoothies. They cost between $75 and $100 based on which coupons you find so not much of an investment compared to the $500 Vitagreen I had looked at before. Apparently these cheaper ones have another really large advantage – it chews up everything so there is no residual fiber to clean up. I’m given to believe the cleanup issue is not one to breeze past. I certainly have all the raw material, basically year round. I think I’ll wait until after the beach trip to make the purchase.

It was my night to cook so I decided to move to the wild side and make broccoli raab pasta. It’s a really easy recipe and the raab is looking great in the garden so I had no doubts I’d be able to pull it off. The whole process takes 10 minutes and that even includes picking the raab. It ends up being a really colorful meal since the raab cookd out bright green. It cooks down in volume but I started with a pound or so, to go with a pound of pasta (per the recipe) and that seemed like the right amount. My taste buds have long since been fried so to me, it had very little taste. Certainly not bitter as I had feared. Nancy loved it and confirmed that the flavor was very mild. Joey picked his today as well today but he planned to convert it into a smoothie using his new blender. For sure I’m going to plant more next fall but will do a much better job of spacing out the plantings over the whole winter season.

Next week is the bi-annual beach week at Flagler. We’re staying at the same place we’ve used for years. The long range weather forecast looks favorable and I’ve been reading that the surf is full of fish although I noticed there was not a single mention of bluefish. I was kind of afraid of that when we booked the place a couple of weeks later than in past years. We plan it around Easter which was much later than usual this year. Nancy has bridge partners lined up for two days (so far). So the next posting will be from the beach, maybe with some nice fish pic’s.

Easter Event

Had something interesting/surprising happen on Thursday. On Monday afternoon a friend of George’s was fishing off his dock and came to my back door holding a fair size mudfish. He didn’t know what it was and also whether or not it was edible. I told him I’d never heard of anyone eating them but if he wanted to unload the carcass, I’d give it a decent burial and memorial service in the garden. I dug a nice hole between two squash plants, said a few words, and planted him. On Wednesday, I think I mentioned, I covered the squash plants for insect protection then on Thursday when I did my morning garden scan, I noticed that the cover was pulled down in the center. On closer inspection it was ripped and I found the fish wrapped in a flap. So it was alive when I buried it, hung out for 2 days, and then gave a final flop out of the hole.

I rarely take issue with the Wall Street Journal but something in this weekend’s addition tweaked me. Turns out cargo pants are a new fashion statement with folks like Ralph Lauren etc getting in the business. That screws up the real people who never, ever, ever want to be making a fashion statement. Cargo pants are something you buy at Dollar General for $10 not at Neiman Marcus for $250. To make it even worse there was a 2 column discussion, pro’s and con’s of whether you should actually put something in the pockets. One school said that you should put something in the pocket to show the utilitarian nature of the garment whereas the other side said they should be perfectly smooth to retain the lines of the pants. Why the hell would you ever be wearing cargo pants if you had no intention of using the pockets? If I’m fishing, I carry fishing tools or bait or maybe even a fish in the pocket; if I’m gardening, I have garden tools or seeds or weeds in the pockets. The fact that they even have such a discussion says they have no business in that business. WSJ – but out. There wasn’t any mention of camo cargos so maybe I get a pass on that particular style if I’m ever challenged at the feed store.

We had a great Easter with the Yearta’s, Lindsay, Charles and Grace, staying with us for a couple of days. Nancy made Grace a new princess dress so between that, the garden, and the dock she was a busy little bee. The only pick and eat in the garden was broccoli which you wouldn’t think would be very appetizing for a 4 year old – but you’d be wrong. We picked the last of the parsnips I had been holding back on and planted the last row of corn. It’s possible the Yearta’s will be back in July and that last row of corn, Grace’s corn, should be loaded at that time. On Sunday the crowd increased to include Tom’s family, Joey and Mark, and the Ragusa’s. The weather wasn’t cooperating, too cold, so we ended up eating in the house but other than that, couldn’t have gone better. Great food, great company. Simon stayed over with us Sunday night and we took him back to Gainesville Monday morning. Nancy’s friend Wilma is still in rehab in Gainesville so we got to visit her again and hit Trader Joe’s for emergency supplies. It also gave us another shot at Pearl’s Country Store and Barbecue in Micanopy.

Chicken Wing Corsage

Well I finally got the tetragonia planted in the garden. Never heard of it? Neither had I but it popped up in one of my most reliable seed catalogs touting it as the summer salad green. Supposedly it’s just like spinach except it does just fine in the heat. I’m thinking of tetrogonia pasta, tetrogonia pizza topping, tetrogonia omelets – endless possibilities. I only planted a few seeds, saving most for a fall planting simply because I don’t believe it will live up to it’s heat tolerating billing but I’m giving it special attention by planting it between the pole beans and corn, as an edge row along the pole beans. The corn should block much of the morning sun, the pole beans the afternoon.

We have a big Easter party planned with special guests from South Carolina, our great niece and great great niece are visiting. Grace had lots of fun last year helping me in the garden and I’ve been holding off several jobs so she can help. I have carrots, parsnips, lettuce, celery and numerous greens that are overdue for picking and an almost empty row waiting to be the last row of corn to be planted. I think I have enough to hold her interest for a few hours.

The last of the zucchini plants has germinated and we’ve moved onto phase 2. I planted 2 each of 2 different varieties, each plant time staggered by 2 weeks. Interestingly as the last one planted popped out, I spotted a baby squash on the first one planted. My computer says I should be picking squash in a week so it’s right on schedule. Phase 2 is to cover the plants with a very light weight insect cover. Done. Just so happens I have an 8’ x 20’ cover cloth that weighs just 1/4 oz per square yard so it will block insects but not sunlight. The broccoli raab is also right on schedule. It’s supposed to be a 35 day crop and my calculation puts that at April 18 and sure enough, I’ll be able to start picking then. I have no idea what I’m going to do with it all but it’s coming whether I like it or not.

If you’ve been reading or viewing about the bears in Lake Mary and know that Tom’s family lives in Lake Mary, rest easy – they live a couple miles from the bear zone. Bears would have to navigate quite a heavy traffic pattern to get to their house; not impossible, but not likely either. I like that the wildlife officials are now killing them off at a great rate and saying they had no idea there was a big bad bear problem there. Wonder why they thought bears had long ago been killed off? ditto wolves, alligators and tyrannosaurus Rex.

I just watched the funniest commercial I’ve seen in a long time; Belly laugh kind of funny; Cleo material kind of funny. It’s a KFC commercial and I honestly can’t tell if it’s a serious product commercial or a catch your attention spoof. It’s for a chicken wing corsage for proms. The actors are teenagers and the guy shows up at his date’s house with a small box. He opens it and pulls out a corsage featuring a chicken wing as the center piece. She looks at him and you can just read in her facial expression that she doesn’t exactly know what to say. She doesn’t want to make the guy feel bad but not sure if she should wear it or what. They take a quick shot of the parents who are equally nonplussed. Then forward to the dance where she’s wearing the wrist corsage and gives the appearance that she’s closing in on the guy to give him a good night kiss but instead, takes a big bite of the corsage. Can you really buy a chicken wing corsage at KFC? What an incredible marketing idea.

Big Bass Fiesta

Got a notice from the mortgage company saying we no longer need flood insurance. I thought global warming meant higher water levels. The interesting thing about it is that our original mortgage, 10 years ago, first required flood insurance then about 5 years into it they notified us that we no longer needed it based on new flood plain maps. The research I had done along with an article in the local newspaper indicated that we were the only people in Pierson with flood insurance so we cancelled it. When we refinance da few years ago with a different bank, back came the requirement for flood insurance. We fought it showing them the documentation from Chase but to no avail. Now, out of the blue, comes the letter saying we are now in an area not designated for flooding. It would seem like flood plain maps would be fairly stable but somewhere out there is a gov’t agency reclassifying flood zones. Wouldn’t it seem that with all the concerns about rising sea levels, they would come to a conclusion that I’m in imminent danger of flooding along with the rest of Florida?

I had a really big day on the dock yesterday. My normal routine is to get all my gardening done in the morning, have lunch and then retire to the dock to read the paper and/or the novel du jour. I catch a small bream, hook it to my line for bait, cast it straight out then sit down and start the read. I’ll be out there a couple hours and usually have some action – maybe a bass attacks the bait, maybe a turtle but it’s certainly not intense action. I think in the past month, I’ve had half a dozen on and landed two or three. Yesterday I made the first cast then turned around to the chair when I heard a loud splash. I looked out and the splash was at my float and down it went. I gave it about 10 seconds then set the hook into a five pounder. Landed. I caught another small bream, hooked it up, and made the cast. Within a minute I was onto another large bass and landed the second five pounder. Another bait, another cast but this time a two hour wait before the third five pounder was on the dock. Over the years I’ve caught plenty of bass in this fashion but never three that size in such a short stretch. Guess where I’ll be today. All three are back swimming in the lake with instructions to come back when they’re ten pounds. The ironic thing is that I use all the proper stealth tactics, timing, super lures, excellent tackle and fish the most inviting areas of the lake and never have a series of catches like this – using the same approach I used when I first learned to fish for bass in 1952. Come to think of it, I caught some really big bass then too. As an update – two days more of fishing the dock has yielded only one large mudfish so apparently the feeding frenzy was short lived.

This morning I got something Nancy needed out of the freezer in the shed. All seemed well. She had another request 8 hours later and it wasn’t so well. Mostly, but not completely thawed. She somehow managed to cull through the porch freezer and the freezer in the fridge and get most everything back in control while I tried surgery on the dead one. I tried a power reset but that didn’t work. I then did a turn off using the temperature control which has an “off” position. I let it sit for about 5 minutes and then turned it back on. The compressor started right up. I didn’t spot any filters or anything that looked like it needed servicing so I’m suspicious that my fix is not permanent and this kind of freezer is not one where a service call is more than the cost of a replacement. I am encouraged that the next day the compressor did shut off on it’s own when it reached the appropriate temperature and even more encouraged that it started again on it’s on a few hours later. If it stays working another day, we’ll reload it with low dollar value stuff.

New Favorite Barbecue Place

We had a great weekend when Simon decided to come here on Friday and stay until Monday. We got in plenty of fishing and dock time plus he spent several hours of quality study time, hitting the organic chemistry books. That’s not a subject I’m able to assist with but just provide the proper study environment. On Sunday Joey and Mark came up to help me deal with a couple of dead trees that were in locations threatening my truck and the sheds. They brought Eileen with them for a social visit, not to attack the trees. They were dead oaks in contrast with the dead bays I’ve been dealing with and much larger in general. After studying them in detail, I decided to have a tree trimming company come in to deal with the largest oak. It’s located such that just the slightest problem could have it crashing down on the shed and I really didn’t want that to happen. It took us several hours to get the others taken care of and only one branch misbehaved and put a good ding in the shed. They earned a dive in the lake to cool off and clean up and proclaimed the official opening of the swimming season. Later in the day, Tom and Olivia joined us for a lasagna feast and an antipasto bar. After the crowd cleared, Si and I hit the dock again to close the day with a little fishing and organic chemistry study. I think for the duration of his stay he got in about 6 hours of study and an equal amount of fishing. I’m hoping he scores better on his upcoming test than he did in the bass department.

On Monday we loaded Simon up with plenty of take home food and headed up to Gainesville. Nancy’s friend Wilma is still in the hospital there so this was a good excuse to visit her again. On the way up we discussed the possibility of getting lunch and Simon recalled a barbecue place just outside of Gainesville in a little town called Micanopy. Pearl’s Country Store and Barbecue was in an old gas station right on US441. He’d heard nothing but good things about it but had never tried it. Wow, was it great barbecue; zero atmospherics but I put the ribs ahead of Brian’s and that’s saying a lot. Too bad we didn’t find it when he was a freshman instead of a month before he graduates.

Well Tuesday was the nth annual quilt group “quilt airing”. This is an event in which each of the participants, 8 this year, make a quilt using a common set of block designs. No rules as to color choices, fabric choices, block size or block placement. So no two quilts look alike and with some you really have to study the quilt to see that it complies with the basic rule. No one is to see another person’s quilt until the airing. My role is to hang the quilts while the ladies are eating lunch. It was pouring during the event so I had to hang them out on the screened porch. My other job is to take pictures of the ladies using their cameras. I performed up to spec in both jobs. I declined to make any comments at all about the quilts themselves.

You might remember a while back I said I was trying a second patch of parsnips in a better part of the garden. The first ones were OK but not spectacular. If the green tops are any indicator, the white roots are going to be much nicer than the trial planting. Oh yeah. If you could see my parsnips, you’d throw rocks at the Publix offering. They are at least a foot long and 2-3” across at the top. I also started picking the last patch of beets which is a variety called Chioggia. What distinguishes these from the standard beets is that instead of having a solid red interior, they have concentric alternating rings of white and red. I picked about half a dozen and they are much more symmetrical than the ones I usually produce so they just look better. Without a question, this has been my best season ever for root crops.

Lot’s of new fish in the garden

Tom came up on his way to Gainesville and we managed to get a morning fishing trip and a late afternoon trip on the lake. Between us we got a few small ones plus two that fit between 4 and 6 pounds. Not a bad day. One thing for sure, the days of me being the only person fishing the lake seem gone if this past week is any indication. Aside from George’s renter, Harvey, who hits it pretty regularly, I now have competition from a couple of teenagers who live on the lake and spend their afternoons, after school, bass fishing. I’ve known these kids since they were quite young and they’ve grown into real fishermen. I’m adjusting by shifting from evening fishing to morning fishing. It could be that as soon as the bass bedding season is over, in another few weeks, they’ll quit. Or maybe they’ll get girlfriends.

Nancy joined Tom on the trip to Gainesville. Tom went up to meet with Simon’s doctors and Nancy went up to visit Wilma, her long time bridge partner. Wilma was in a bad auto accident last Thursday and was life flighted from Palatka to Gainesville where she underwent an operation to repair her broken ankle and a few other bumps and bruises. She seems to be recovering nicely but she is 80+ so no doubt has a long recovery ahead of her. Her daughters live in Atlanta and have more or less told Nancy that she’s now in charge and tell all the hospital folks to just get in touch with Nancy as needed.

Had another interesting experience when a friend of the neighbor living in May’s place put a small boat in the lake and took his grandson out fishing. When they came in, I wandered over to see how they’d done and the little guy, about 9, said he hadn’t caught anything at all and was really bummed. I invited them over to the dock with a promise that he’d catch something there. I set him up with the bluegill pole and a piece of bread and then just turned him loose. They stayed for a few hours and little Isaac must have caught 50 fish, 15 of which he deemed big enough to keep and which his grandfather agreed to clean. I had lots in common with the old guy and we enjoyed just yakking for a couple of hours. Isaac asked if he could ever come back and I said sure, as long as you’re well behaved.

And I got another 15 carcasses to bury in the garden. If those fish really provide a natural fertilizer, this season will turn out a banner crop.

In this particular case, I buried them between the rows I planted in corn a week or so back. They’ve all germinated so I put in the second row, another 60 or so plants. I want to put two weeks between the successive plantings and will end up with 3 rows. I also put in the second row of pole beans so there really isn’t much empty space left and none at all for which there’s not something on standby to be transplanted.