The week at the beach

After the big shark catch on Sunday, decided to try something different – instead of fishing with finger mullet at high tide, I tried shrimp at low tide. Caught a few small whiting and pompano. Nothing great but fun. At low tide there’s a shallow trough followed by a sandbar followed by a wider, deeper trough. I waded out past the first trough and on the bar to the edge of the second trough.

Day 4 (Tuesday)- high tide was at 8AM and really big and booming so I went back to the heavy duty gear and finger mullet – hoping for bluefish. Wasn’t too long before I was landing another shark. This one was different – smaller for sure but it looked like a mako or thresher. Steel gray color, a long sweeping tail, and a serious set of dentures. I looked them up on the internet and I believe the big one was a nurse shark, the smaller a thresher. Both are plentiful on the Florida East Coast.

We spent a good bit of the day checking out alternative places to stay other than where we have been. We love this place but they only rent for weeks or months and there are lots of times when a 3 day vacation would be just what the doc ordered. We found several adequate places and learned that Oct and November are really slow months so occupancy would not be an issue. Between Dec and Aug, different story – better have reservations. We also stopped by the Palm Coast Bridge Club so that Nancy could check out the lighting and see if she could play with her problematic eyes. Looks good enough to try so she told them to get a partner for her on Wednesday.

Wed. – Dropped Nancy off at the bridge club and went to Wal mart to replenish my sinker stock and get some new, stronger line for the surf reel. I’ve had 5 line breaks in fewer days and that’s just not something that should happen. I use really good line so I didn’t expect the stuff I was using to weaken but I guess it’s pushing 5 years old and surf fishing, particularly in big, booming surf takes it’s toll. I got a spool of 50# test Power Pro, the heaviest braided line I’ve ever used and was lucky to get the last 3 four ounce pyramid sinkers they had. I had an alternative to use a back up reel but then I wouldn’t have remembered that this line was marginal until the next time I went to use it.

Thursday – fair fishing. Seems I can always go out and pick up a few. Got one worth keeping – an 18” redfish. That’s the first one of those I’ve caught in the surf in 100 years. I catch them occasionally in the rivers but not the surf. The ocean ones are much lighter in color but still have that giant black spot on the tail.

Friday – Nancy went to the eye doc for another shot (or 3). The good news is that she was able to see the eye chart better this time than last; the third line down as compared to no lines down a month ago. The bad news was that the doc told her she couldn’t legally drive. That bummed her out and maybe it’s not a permanent situation but if it is, it is. That’s why I got new tires on the truck!

One more day at the beach but way more than that many restaurants we haven’t hit yet. Now what!!!!!!

Shark Week

Today is the start of the bear hunt. I’ve been ambivalent about it and don’t think it will do much good since the bears are a problem in areas where hunting will not be allowed. The ambivalence changed this morning when I went up to get the paper and found the trash can knocked over and the contains scattered. Double the hunt. Update – bear hunt over. They got close to the quota in 2 days so the 2 week hunt was stopped.

From the beach. Got here Saturday afternoon and was fishing by about 4PM when the tide was close to high. The water was rough with a strong long shore current so fishing was not optimal. It did look like typical bluefish water so I rigged with a steel leader, 6/0 hook, and a special rough surf holding sinker, 5 oz. I was using whole, frozen finger mullets for bait. There was more seaweed than normal but not terrible. Just before dark I hooked something really large and it broke the line. Actually the line had gotten tangled earlier and I had to cut and retie it with not enough light. I think I messed up the knot.

Sunday was a repeat with maybe a little better surf conditions. I started about 5PM and within 10 minutes or so hooked another large fish. This time I got a couple of jumps from the fish and recognized it as a large tarpon – no way I expected that. It looked bigger than 100lbs and I knew that there was little chance of landing anything that big in this surf. He was on for about 10 minutes before the line snapped. Re rigged and went at it again. Not too long before another monster strike. This guy pulled all the line off my reel, down to heavy backing line. I suspect I have 100 yards of 40# power pro line and my drag is set heavy so it’s almost unbelievable to see the whole spool evaporate off the reel. Just before it got to the backing, he turned north, alongshore, and I was able to run in that direction and regain line on the reel. He literally pulled me about 1/2 mile then turned and headed south. I was really tired, tired, tired by then but he was slowing down. We got about halfway back to the house when I finally got him close enough to the shore to see what I was dealing with – a large shark. Looked 6-7’ long and really heavy. My hope was that the waves would help me beach it but the undertow was stronger than the onshore push and the fish was simply too heavy to get him out of the rough water. Another guy saw me in distress and came down to help but there just wasn’t an opportunity for either of us to grab the fish by the tail – probably just as well. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do but I was fairly well worn out at this point and fairly confident that he was going to beach himself. Luckily, the line broke. I suspect he just eventually sawed thru it. Tomorrow, I’m switching to shrimp and try to catch smaller fish for a couple of hours.

Nancy’s eyes have improved enough that she’s now back quilting. Not really intricate stuff but certainly real quilting. She’s also able to read the computer screen again, most of her quilting magazines and the trailers on the TV screen. So we’re encouraged that she’ll get back to where she was a month ago soon. She gets another exam and shot the end of this week so we’ll have a more definitive assessment of her progress.

A New Barber?

Got the onions planted and after a few days, they seem to be doing just fine. I’ll plant now and then again in March. My spinach seed failed to germinate in the garden so I’m trying again with a new batch of seed. That seed was date 2013 and spinach is one of those seed types that don’t last too long. Luckily I have some 2014 on hand. I also put some potato pieces in the same row. Nancy had some of her potatoes start to grow in the fridge so I cut them into chunks with visible eyes. I’ve done this before with nominally decent success. They’re Idaho’s so I planted them on northwest side of the garden.

George ended up back in hospital for a couple of days as the cuts were not healing correctly. His hand and arm were really swollen and the wound was oozing some nasty looking stuff. They redid it and told him that there were still pieces of the grind wheel imbedded but that they would come out naturally. The surgeon felt it was just too risky to try to remove it surgically. A home nurse comes daily to change the dressing and he seems to be getting along fine.

Nancy’s sight continues to improve and she is now doing some quilting and has been to bridge the past two weeks. She gets another shot next week while we’re at the beach. We’ll find out then if she is cleared to drive – she’s pretty sure she can handle it right now but I’d rather get a professional opinion. Besides, I got new tires on the truck so I can load the kayak in the bed and check out some new fishing areas while she’s playing bridge. But the moment of truth came up yesterday. For the past 10 years or so, Nancy has cut my hair. I’m not at all fussy and never liked going to barbers from age 1 until now. But I was wondering exactly how to politically handle it. So when she said I needed a haircut and broke out the gear, I decided to just let it happen rather than hurt her feelings by suggesting another barber. I figured the worst that could happen was I had to get a repair job or stay clear of any mirrors. If people started laughing uncontrollably…………… Anyway, we went ahead and it seems ok to me.

We hit the beach next week. We’re thinking about changing our beach algorithm in the future. We’ve really loved going and the place we stay is perfect but we have to fix the date so far in advance and it isn’t always the best timing. So we’re thinking of changing two full weeks into a series of 2 and 3 day trips when we feel like it. We would move around to different beaches from time to time – give Crescent Beach a shot, for example or the Sebastian beach area. I don’t think we’d have trouble securing places if we focus on mid week stays – keep away from the weekends. To me surf condition is important and there have been several times in the past where the surf was just too strong to fish for half the trip. We haven’t severed the ties yet but that’s where our head is now.

Congrats Chris. Chris ran and finished a 10K race this past week and finished respectably. He enjoyed it so much that he signed up for a 15K in a couple of weeks. This one is a hot chocolate run and supposedly is a well attended annual event in Chicago.

Gators not so bad

I mentioned a couple posts back that my neighbor had an encounter with a running side grinder and came out on the losing end. It was stitched and seemed all taken care of but as with most things George, it didn’t heal well. His hand swelled dramatically and apparently was infected. He went back to the doc who redressed it and told him to come back in a few days. It got even worse and the same doc told him to go to the emergency room. The information we have is sketchy right now, but it seems that there was still a piece of metal imbedded in the wound that they missed the first time around and that was the source of the problem. They admitted him right away and he’s to see a surgeon today. Poor George – nothing ever seems to just happen normally.

The fire damage to the car was not as innocuous as previously thought with little anomalies popping up – indicator lights etc on the dash board. I took it to the local shade tree guy and he was shocked that it still ran with all the burned wires and sensors. I explained that I was not interested in a large scale, expensive rewiring job and he said if he could take his time with it and use it as filler work, it could be done much cheaper. He’d only work on issues that impacted safety and not worry about the cosmetics under the hood. He said he could get many of the burnt caps from junk yards. All that sounds good to me but I’m guessing I’ll still be in this for a couple hundred bucks before it’s all said and done. The thing about this particular vehicle that keeps me from just dumping it is that the back seat folds down for a clean shot thru the trunk. That’s important because I have a couple of one piece surf rods and I can’t get them in the Grand Marquis but no problem with the Toyota. I mean lets face it, all cars move people but not all cars move fishing tackle, camping gear, or kayaks. The Merc is a nice car but it only moves people. So my thoughts went to the truck.

I haven’t been using it much at all, mainly because it has old tires and I really hate to put new tires onto a vehicle that I drive about 5 miles a month.
That all changed yesterday. I had Tom help me load the marginal lawn mower into the truck and decided to drop it off at the repair shop. I had moved the truck a couple of days ago but this time it wouldn’t start. The first issue surfaced immediately when I couldn’t unlock the hood. It had been so long since I had opened it, the latch was locked up with rust. I wrestled with that for 20 minutes or so and finally got it. In all fairness, I knew this day was coming and should have oiled/greased it a couple of years ago but never quite got around to it. The battery seemed fine to me and the starter solenoid was getting a good bang but I tried all the conventional things – jumps start from another car, put a charger on the battery, cleaning the terminals – then I remembered that I have had this exact problem about half a dozen times in the past 20 years – a loose or crummy electrical connection to the starter. I have fixed it myself several times by claiming under the truck and banging on the starter connection with a hammer or equivalent. This time when I got upside down under the car, I started to get seriously dizzy. So that wasn’t going to happen. I called AAA and the tow truck guy was here in about 10 minutes and went through all the things I had done even though I told him what I thought was the problem. Finally he climbed under the truck, hit it with a hammer, and it started right up. I took it to the mechanic who is rewiring the Toyota and told him about the connection and asked him to clean it right. Done. I asked him about the tires and he said they were dry rotted, ok to drive around town but nothing more serious than that. He added that he could put on brand new tires, mounted and balanced, for under $400. That’s about half of what I expected so I told him to jump on it. Not only that – when we drove it to the lawn mower guy I gassed up, both tanks, so I’m now committed to working the truck into the rotation and back off the Toyota. Now that I’m driving Miss Nancy, I’ll load the kayak on the truck and explore new lakes and rivers while she’s doing her things. I’m ok with the Toyota being offline for as long as it takes – or forever. I found I had a couple of very nice 2 piece surf rods so problem solved.

The Gator loss to LSU was not so bad. They had a chance to win right up to the end which bodes well for the rest of the season. I can see a 9 or 10 win season now instead of the 9 or 10 loss season I was expecting.

More Action

Never a dull moment at the lake. Nancy had a routine appointment with a doc to review the latest scans of her thyroid. We drove to the place, parked and walked to the extension trailer he occupied. There was a sign on the door saying he had moved to a suite in the main building. That caused us to turn around and stare at the car which was billowing smoke from under the hood. I lifted the hood and told Nancy to get the fire extinguisher from the trunk. Sure enough there was a major conflagration going on – a fiery rat or squirrel nest covering, what looked like, half the engine compartment. She couldn’t find the extinguisher so I was batting it out as best I could with a dish towel that she did find. I was making some progress but it looked like a goner to me, especially if it ever burned thru a gas line. At what point do you back away and let nature take it’s course? She found the fire extinguisher and I had it out within a few seconds. She headed to the doc’s office while I tended to the smoldering heap. After the smoke cleared I got in and tried to start it – first crank so I knew that nothing critical had been damaged. Most of the burning was the nest material, not the engine parts. When I got it out, a security guy came over and suggested I move the car around to the back where there was a hose so I could wash off all the residual from the extinguisher and the remaining burning embers. The amazing thing to me is that I had just had the car worked on last week and know there were no problems under the hood so all that nest building had taken place subsequent to that. We’re going to find another place to park the cars and then resume the critter wars with some serious poison.

Update – I put 8 chunks of serious rat poison under the shed and carport where I suspect they nest. I checked first thing the next morning and all of it was gone. This is a slow acting poison so I’ll give it a few days to a week and then repeat the process. In the meantime we won’t park the toyota in the carport for a while. I was also suspicious of the new firewood pile George had constructed a few months back. The old firewood pile was home to several colonies. So I put a couple of chunks of the poison on the pile closest to the carport. They were still there, untouched overnight so that area seems clear.

Had a coral snake in the garden this morning. Don’t freak out but I felt something touching my toe as I was standing at the garden fence checking it out. I looked down and saw the 2’ critter slithering along and over top of my toe. It had the yellow on black banding that I think means it’s a coral snake – doesn’t it? In any event, it’s now composting along with fish carcasses.

Smaller Walkways in the Garden

Another Emergency room happening – not me, not Nance, but rather George. I was sitting on the back porch reading and heard George calling for Barbara – over and over. I had heard him grinding away on something, I thought fixing the lawn mower, then it stopped and he started yelling for Barbara. Not unusual bur it persisted. I decided to check it out and got there just as Barbara was coming out of the house trying to call me on the cell phone and also call 911. George was bleeding profusely from the arm and face. He’s on a blood thinner so the bleeding was scary. I ran home and got the car, prepared to drive him to the regional clinic if the 911 route didn’t work. Within a few minutes I could hear the sirens coming and soon the EMT’s were working on him. The face looked bloody but didn’t seem to be cut nearly as bad as the arm. They got pressure bandages and wrappings on it quickly and within 10 minutes he was in the vehicle heading for the hospital. He never passed out and the EMT’s didn’t seem to think he had lost all that much blood – they said it looked like a lot, but he was in no danger of bleeding out. Final word – he was stitched and back home just before dark, about 6 hours start to finish. The face wound was an abrasion not a cut; the arm was cut in a couple of places and did hit a small artery but nothing critical. Twenty stitches total.

Got the ABS brake light problem fixed on the Merc – turned out to be a wiring problem where rats or squirrels had eaten thru one of the sensor wires. I guess I have to break out the rat poison again even though I haven’t sighted any nest building under the hood for at least a year.

The weather has turned fall like, air conditioning off, doors and windows open, so I’m planting up a storm in the garden. Put in carrots, more lettuce, radishes, spinach, turnips and beets. Next, all the greens move from the starter trays to the garden. I should be approaching 100% by the middle of this week. In fact the only thing not planted are the onions. I have space allocated but they haven’t released the sets for sale. I’m also thinking about trying some potatoes again. I have the room and the season’s right so if I see something nearly sprouting at PubliX, I’ll pull the trigger.

One of the seasonal garden tasks was disrupted by the Daytona News Journal – they decided to reduce the physical size of the paper. They described it as a way to keep from raising prices and I can appreciate that but I’m sure they never anticipating the impact on me personally. Between garden rows are walkways. The width of the walkways has been defined by the length of the paper. I clean out the walkway then put down a section of the paper and cover it with mulch. The layer of paper is critical to stopping weed growth and holding in moisture. When I started the process this year, the paper didn’t fill the span between the rows so it took two sections, overlapped to make up the difference. Either that or change the size of the walkways. Turns out the WSJ downsized similarly but since I haven’t had to redo the walkways in a year, I never noticed or had forgotten about it. Bottom line – I made the walkways a few inches narrower. Another way to say that – I made the planting rows wider. After I lay down a layer of newspaper, I overtop it with mulch. I use special mulch for the walkways – rougher, tougher stuff such as oak leaves, pine needles, or palmetto fronds. Material that will hold up at least 6 months before breaking down into soil. That compares to garden mulch that I use on the planting rows which is softer and breaks down into soil much faster. You know you have enough mulch when you start organizing it!!

Catching Up

Sorry for the break in postings. We’ve been having health issues that have involved numerous trips to doc’s, disrupting our normal activities. I even let weeds grow in the garden and Nancy got behind on her quilting so you know we’ve been otherwise consumed. Now we’ve got this hurricane to contend with. I officially end hurricane season 10/15 so we seem to have escaped another year. So, we’ve had zero hurricanes since 2004. And yet the globe continues warming and the predictions for hurricanes keep getting more alarming. Eventually we’ll have a big storm and the warmers will give us a big “I told you so”. Or they’ll start saying the reason we’re getting milder hurricane seasons is because of global warming. And come up with another computer model that proves it.

The house up the road is gone. It had been built on a large mound of dirt which was destined to be hauled away. George suggested that they dump some of it on a spot we could both access as wanted. If you live in a jungle on a lake, you can always use fill dirt so we now have enough to last a few years. I’m guessing it’s close to 20 yards – lots of shoveling and wheel barrows in my future. I’ve already started filling in low spots near the dock.

Nancy’s cruise to Bermuda was great. There’s a hurricane heading that way right now so the timing was just right. Tom came up to the lake a few times while she was gone to keep me company and make sure I was watching the right football games. We took in a game at UCF where he has season tickets and ate out a few times at great sports bars.

Fishing is picking up. It’s really not been much all summer but in the past couple of weeks I’ve started picking up nicer size bass. I try to get out for an hour or so every day, mostly in the evening but sometimes mid day when the spirit moves me. Hooked one large enough to tow the kayak around a bit before wrapping himself in the lily pads.

I’m at one of those points in life where things start breaking down. Not me, but things. The ABS light is continuously lit on the Merc; the high speed window wipers on the Toyota don’t work; and the lawn mower won’t run. Granted all of these have 10 years + service but still………….. I just had a window motor replaced on the Toyota a month or so back. So I have a suggestion for the new set of politicians running – a medicare benefit for old cars. A car over 20 years old and driven by someone on SS should be covered for health problems – such as window motor replacements. The Merc wouldn’t be covered since it’s almost new – 2006 but both the Toyota and truck would easily fit. I would hope lawn mowers would also be covered but ours is only 12 years so not yet ready. Also, I managed to fix the mower myself.