Another Bridge Event

The problem I have with Global Warming is that it’s not dependable. We woke up this morning to wintry temps and it’s only October. It was in the 50’s and supposed to be in the 40’s by the end of the week. I had to break out the winter duds and hunt up a quilt for tonight. Maybe some good will come from it if it nails the critters feeding on the garden.

Nancy has another big, two day bridge tournament in Palm Coast this weekend. We’ll go over Friday morning, get a hotel and come home Saturday late afternoon. Not sure what to expect fishing wise. The surf has been way too roiled to fish and there’s a strong cold front moving in with morning temps in the 50’s so I may be forced into a Saturday pub crawl. Saturday is especially critical since it’s the Georgia – Florida football game and I’ll be hanging out waiting for the tournament to end. Do I see a Houligan’s or Buffalo Wild Wings (aka sport’s bar) afternoon?

The jury is still out on the garden this season. It’s stayed hot, humid and buggy way too long and the continuing rains kept the ground too wet. It’s showing in new plant start fatalities. Some broccoli plants and some cauliflower plants seem to be taking but every cabbage and swiss chard plant I put out is eaten within a couple of days. Ditto lettuce. Ditto cuc’s. I waited until the 15th to put in spinach and beet seeds. Nothing happening with the spinach yet (too soon) but the beets popped right out and will need thinning in a couple of days. The great thing about beets is that they are a 100% crop – we eat both the root/tuber and the green tops. This cold snap can only help. The green pepper plants are looking good and loaded with peppers but the zucchini plants are suffering and I’ll probably just yank them out this week and start something new in the space they’re occupying.

Still playing with the TV

Ever since I lowered the TV antenna before the last hurricane, our reception has been marginal. Tom came up last week and I think we fairly well restored the positioning to where it was pre-storm but we’re still getting too many signal drop-outs. It’s more aggravating than being a total wipeout. When he came up, he also brought a new technology antenna to see if that performed better than – worse than – equal to our old tech version. It was close but the edge went to the old antenna. Part of the problem with the test was that the old antenna sits up about 30’ above the roof whereas we were just slightly above the roof with new one. George and I put together a PVC pipe to hold the antenna but it was only about 8’ long so it wasn’t really a fair comparison. In either case, the reception was problematic. So I decided to “hayrig” a way to increase the altitude of the high tech antenna so it’s now about 12’ above ground level, 3 or 4’ above the roof line. Still not as high as the old antenna by a long shot, but higher than just on the improvised pole. I will catch quite a bit of heat when George or any of my kids see’s the way I have it improvised. This is one of those times when Nancy’s vision problems works in my favor or I’d really be catching heat. I broke out a 6’ ladder, two surf fishing sand spikes and a couple of small strap wrenches and was able to get enough elevation on the new antenna to see the difference. It’s not pretty but seems to be working. It’s fairly easy for me to switch between the old antenna and the new one so I can make comparisons and right now, under current atmospherics, they seem to be equivalent. It would also be fairly easy for me to get another 8-10’ of altitude on the new one by getting a 20’ PVC pipe so that’s the next step. I’m also going to hit Walmart in Palm Coast next week when Nancy’s playing bridge to see what kind of antenna’s they have. It’s a large, extra large Walmart and services a much higher population. also that area would require higher gain antennas to be effective since Palm Coast is quite a bit farther from the transmitters in Orlando than we are. My thought is that any antenna that works in Palm Coast should be very good for Barberville. I’ll let you know how it goes.

I mowed the lawn again with the new, all wheel drive mower. This would be the fourth time and the first where I felt I was calling the shots, not the mower. It wants to mow much faster than I can walk so trying to steer it around plants, shrubs and trees while the wheels are under power is a real trick. But I think maybe I’m getting the hang of it. When you want to do anything but go in a straight line, take power off the wheels, reposition the mower and then reapply power to the wheels. Sounds simple enough but if you’ve been mowing lawns for 70 years, you have a way of doing it. The other complication this time was that Nancy decided the cars needed washing and she could do it herself. I knew it wasn’t anything that simple and would require my attention to get the hose hooked up to the pump and find the buckets and brushes etc. And it had to be done simultaneously with me mowing the lawn. grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. My suggestion was to wait until it rained again, maybe a day’s wait at the longest and then break out the soap and rags and go at it. Non starter. I finally walked away before WW3 erupted in the Kingdom of Barberville. What would the Donald say? To make matters more unbearable, it’s Saturday – college football day.

Shrimp Festival

Had a great trip to Gulf Shores AL for the Shrimp Festival. On the way down the only excitement was when a trailer I was following on the interstate blew out a tire. Pieces of it were flying thru the air and it was impossible to dodge them at 75mph. Luckily we did miss the big pieces but it definitely got your heart started. The other good thing about the trip was finding a new (to us) place to eat in Marianna, FL. We stopped for gas around noon and decided to find some place to eat close to the interstate and spotted a place called Po Folks. It was right across the street from a Ruby Tuesdays so we decided on the unknown. There were plenty of cars in the parking lot so how bad could it be. Wow! great southern cooking. We made sure to time our return to hit there for lunch.

We hooked up with Simon and Amy who had rented condo less than a block off the beach for two days. The place was within walking distance to the big events and there was a shuttle bus system that ran continuously from 10AM until 10PM. If you like seafood, this was the place to be. Visualize a typical arts and crafts event with lots of food and drink trucks, each specializing in some treat. Plenty of live music and brews to keep things hoppin’. We arrived on Thursday afternoon, almost simultaneously with Simon and Amy’s arrival, and within an hour had purchased our shuttle passes and started the festivities. We caught the last shuttle back on Thursday. We were back in business Friday morning on into the afternoon. The plan was to meet Amy’s mother and grandmother in Mobile proper for drinks and snacks. We found the place which was the top of a high rise building in downtown Mobile. Very fancy! It was glass all around so anywhere you sat you had a complete view of Mobile and the surrounding area. Fancy drinks, fancy food, a piano bar – totally first class and a complete opposite venue than the shrimp festival. I know I was the only guy in the place wearing cargo shorts and a Guy Harvey shirt. Oh well! We really enjoyed meeting Amy’s family – lots of laughing and story telling. I don’t know why but I thought they were tea totalers. They had arrived before us an I saw immediately that her grandmother, Shirley, was drinking a margarita. I wasn’t sure what her mother, Dawn, was drinking but it was in a standard bar old fashion glass and sure enough she ordered another Black Jack on the rocks. I knew right away we were going to hit it off. We didn’t have a full meal but rather ordered excellent appetizers, shared deserts and enjoyed the company and the ambiance. We were back at the beach by 9PM where Nancy and I crashed while Simon and Amy headed back to the festival to catch a band they were fond of.

Nancy had a bad night – serious gastric distress about 3AM until we left at 9AM but is fully recovered. I suspect it was food based – maybe either a particular item or the wide combination we consumed. Other than that, nice ride home. No tire explosions.

Shrimp Festival Trip Planned

One of the things we did to prepare for Irma was lower the TV antenna. It’s on a telescoping pole and we dropped it about 20’. I say “we” but I mean my young neighbor, Andrew. We still had reception but it would frequently break up on certain channels and when atmospheric conditions dictated. It’s a big deal to do since it involves getting up on the roof so I wanted to leave it down for the duration of the hurricane season. I could live with the less than optimal TV. Nancy was not so understanding. This weekend Tom came up and I asked him to bring his high ladder so we could work on the antenna. He did, we did, and we now have reception that is equal to or better than pre Irma. Hopefully I improved on that by exchanging the cable splitter that takes the antenna cable and splits it in two, one for each TV for one that is powered. That should strengthen the signal. The surprise is how much difference a few feet of altitude makes.

Another Mr. Fixit job that I got done this weekend was to reinstall the rear view mirror on the truck. The rear view mirror on that vehicle (and I suspect many more) is attached by gluing a bracket to the windshield and then hooking the mirror to the bracket. Sounds simple enough but due to the cramped working space, it’s a real challenge to get it all aligned properly and held in place while the glue dries. The way I’ve done it before is to put the mirror in the bracket first and then glue the assembly to the windshield but it’s just too difficult for me to hold it still long enough for the glue to dry. You can get the special glue at Auto Zone but I found a Gorilla Gel that has done the job before and is more generally useful than the Auto Zone product. I gave up on trying to deal with the mirror and bracket as an assembly and just glued the bracket to the windshield. It worked, or at least it’s working so far.

Went to Flagler Beach, the first trip since hurricane Maria passed a few hundred miles offshore. I’ve been seeing that there was more erosion and extreme tidal activity but I wanted to see for myself since I have a good perception of what “normal” looks like. Well it had definitely changed dramatically from only two weeks back. The beach has restored itself to a large degree with soft, shell sand and started creating a second berm about a 100’ from the original. Previously the sand texture was finer grains, densely packed. I saw it at mid tide so it will be interesting to see what it looks like at low.

We’re heading to Mobile AL later this week to hook up with Simon, Amy , her mother and grandparents at the Shrimp Festival. It’s about an 8 hour drive and we may also see our nephew Glenn who lives in the Pensacola area. As soon as Nancy heard there were booths set up selling shrimp po boys, she was in and locked. I’m hoping they have draft ShockTop to go along with it.

Still Cleaning up

Sorry for the hit and miss postings but there’s hardly a spare minute!

I’ve been spending a couple of hours in the morning cleaning up after the storm and I’m ready to call it done. There are still huge piles of dead brush lining the road but that’s up to the county to deal with.

Nancy had a big week – Bridge in Palm Coast; Bridge in Crescent City; quilting with Esther at the house; eye shots and an infusion, both on one day; day trip to Brevard County with Esther to buy quilting material etc. All this is good but for every good deed………… This week she does the endoscopy and colonoscopy to find out why her blood levels are still not right after all the infusions and iron pills. The good news about this is that she’s taking one for the team by trying out a new “prep” regimen. The doc introduced her to a new (to us) prep that eliminates the nasty tasting gallon of mix. This prep requires 5 oz of water mixed with a powder that resembles Alka Seltzer followed by drinking 5 x 8oz glasses of any clear liquid (non alcoholic) over a 6 hour period. Then 7 hours later she takes another shot of the powder mixed with 5 oz, chased with 3×8 glasses of clear liquid. That’s about half the liquid and it’s the liquid of your choice – so long as it’s clear. Things like broth, seven up, sprite, water – all those count. The 10 oz with the powder are not bad at all – taste wise. All of us are hoping this stuff works as advertised for the next time we have to do it. Results – Nancy preferred the gallon of mixed fluid to the new approach which she claims is more “violent”. As a witness, I think the new stuff went down easier. One interesting thing was that when you mixed the powder with water, a packet of powder in 5 oz of water, the mixture generated quite a bit of heat. I mixed it and had to actually set the cup down because of it. A very exothermic reaction. The tests themselves showed nothing so the next step is swallowing the “camera”. Not sure about the mechanics of that but supposedly you just swallow a capsule and let it work itself thru your system while it transmits data. I have a lot of technical questions about that.

Of course the next day was a bridge tourney and the day after, a crochet club meeting followed by another infusion. So she’s maintaining a fairly active social life. And I’m driving miss Nancy – the seeing eye driver.

The garden is struggling to recover from the storm and we’re still getting some real drenching storms. I’m holding off projections. One of the cucumber bushes has a couple of micro fruit starting and the green peppers are putting on new foliage and a couple of blossoms. The field where the garden resides is a quagmire. The garden area is raised about a foot and seems to support seedlings just fine. The question is what happens when the main roots grow down into the saturated soil. We just haven’t had any really dry weather since the storm.