Fixed the Dock

We’ve got some kind of “bad knee” disease going on. George, Barbara, Nancy and I all have the same knee problems. George and Nancy visited doctors and both were diagnosed (eventually) with a torn meniscus and told that it is something you get when you’re old. Like the dentist says – “you’ve got old teeth” or the eye doc says – “you’ve got old eyes”. duh! Nancy’s doc is giving her shots; George’s told him to use ice a few times a day, take tylenol, and keep his leg elevated. Barbara and I are just avoiding the whole doctor thing and are just toughing it out. Actually I’m semi toughing it out by going with the ice remedy. We all seem to be getting a little better. For me, one of the toughest moves is getting in and out of the car and the kayak. Getting down on hands and knees to pick beans is also a bit trying. Maybe next year I’ll grow pole beans again.

Rumor has it that a 7’ gator wandered on into the lake a couple days ago. That happens from time to time but a few of the locals take care of it – usually within a day or so. A couple nights ago we heard two gunshots from a serious weapon and assume the critter was converted into steaks, wallets, belts etc. Sounds kind of harsh but if you had a dog or child living on the lake, you might see it differently. We also had another wildlife encounter yesterday. We came home from Nancy’s bridge game and when she opened the screen door, a snake scooted right by her trying to get out. It was obviously an OK snake – maybe 2’-3’ long and about as big around as a pencil. I think it was a black racer which is totally harmless but it does give your heart a start when you don’t expect it and when it races by about 2’ from you. He was having trouble finding his way out and we needed a broom to help it find the doorway but it was all over in a minute or so.

Joanne, Joey and Mark came up for a “work” day yesterday. There are a few jobs in the house that are difficult for Nancy to keep up with. And I try my best to keep up with the outside but occasionally a job too big or technical for me to handle comes up. This time it was the dock which was starting to get shabby with rotting decking. The structure itself is just like new but the deck itself, particularly the portion that’s directly in the sun has been deteriorating. That’s a Mark job. So a couple of weeks ago I picked up a dozen 16’ deck planks. We pulled up all the bad boards and replaced them with the new wood. Took us the better part of a day but we did it. I finished off the next day by carrying all the bad wood over to the burn pile on George’s and just generally cleaning up. Looks good and hopefully it will hold up another 12-15 years. The only loss was a hammer dropped in the lake but I know exactly where it is and as soon as the water warms up, I’ll retrieve it.

The winter garden is winding down fast. Not much kale left, one more cabbage, no regular spinach. The chard is hanging in there but by mid afternoon, it’s wilting badly – just can’t handle the heat. I give it another week, that’s all. The collards and the NZ spinach are hanging in there so I have greens for my smoothies.


Sure we needed a little rain but 4” overnight and a couple more the next day – the big washout. And lots of lightning to make it even more exciting. But the real action came a few days after the big rain – from the storm that nailed Arkansas on Friday or Saturday. We had plenty of warning but the winds were unbelievably strong – straight line not rotational. My tv antenna was blown off and we lost power for about 5 hours. I broke out the generator when the power company gave us 9PM as the estimated fix time and luckily it was full of gas and started on the first pull. So from the time we lost power to when we were back in business was about 15 minutes. I did note that although the generator was full of gas and would run for about 8 hours, all my other gas containers are empty and that needs correction.

My next big project is replacing bad planks on the dock. It’s been in for over 10 years and the section that is uncovered is starting to rot – not dangerous but unsightly. Even though she can’t see it, Nancy is sure it needs to be fixed. Luckily Joey and Mark volunteered to do the actual work – well actually Joey volunteered Mark. The first thing was getting twelve 16’ planks home from Lowes in my pickup with an 8’ bed. Lowe’s helped load the truck but I had to tie it all down and drive the 20 miles back home and then unload it. Not counting sore muscles, it went smoothly and the planks are in the screened porch waiting for the big install.

We’re about a week away from the first green beans of the season. So far my plan to start them earlier than usual is successful. There’s no sign of any bug attacks which is often the fate of the bean crop. There’s a second crop about a month behind this first one and then another that is just breaking ground. This last planting is not likely to produce much because it matures in the heat of June and near the peak of the bug season. I had some leftover seed and you never know about the weather, so why not try. The worst that can happen is that it all makes it to the compost pile. I picked the last carrot and the last of the “standard” spinach and getting close to the end of the kale. A few more heads of cabbage, a hardy row of Swiss Chard and the collards are all that’s remaining of the green crop – not counting the New Zealand spinach. No surprises except that this is the longest standing, most productive row of Swiss Chard ever. I don’t think I did a thing different but the soil conditions and weather must have been just right. And that’s not just my opinion. One of the bridge ladies that Nancy distributes greens to came over to the car yesterday and told me she’s never had Swiss Chard this good so it is different this year. It’s very rewarding to get those kind of compliments and to see the price in Publix for Chard that doesn’t look as good. Last week a bunch that looked like about 3 leaves was $4.

Big Move

We’re having overnight company which is a good thing. Believe it or not I have never restored the dock to operational use since the hurricanes last fall so this forced the issue and gets the “lake” season off to a start. Restoring the dock means untying all the dock furniture and trimming the jungle away from the pathway. In doing so I noticed several pieces of the deck that are rotting and need replacement. Joey volunteered Mark to help (do it) me and we’re scheduled for that to happen the end of the month.

Chris’s move is starting to become real. They went to Charlotte over the weekend on a house hunting trip and quickly found a brand new town house that more than met their needs. They’ve had a realtor researching and had been pre-qualified so they had a nice list of possibles and found “the place” quickly. The physical move is scheduled for the end of the month. A big plus – they’ll be about 20 minutes from Lindsay, Charles and the girls and less than an hour from Nancy, Ali and Meghan so we’ll have plenty of incentive to visit. Other than a nice place to live, it looks like he’ll be within 10 minutes to a Costco, a Fresh Market, a Whole Foods and a Trader Joe’s. And a plethora of micro breweries. Maybe 10 minutes to the airport. A short walk to a golf course.

Tom is in the final stage of his PhD program so between that, the classroom teaching and the IG projects he’s in deep water with no cycles to spare. He needs some total isolation to put the finishing touches on the PhD project so we’re going to steal away to a cabin in the mountains in NC. Nancy and Tina will quilt and do quilt shop touring, Tom will work the PhD stuff, and I’ll fish in the small lake, catch up on my reading and quaff a few craft beers. I’m fairly certain we’ll visit Chris’s new digs sometime on the trip.

And if all that is not enough excitement – hang on. Several of the tomato plants have little green tomatoes and two of the zucchini bushes have little tubers popping out. The tomatoes are surprising but I’ve been seeing blossoms for a couple of weeks so the little green ones are only a small surprise. The squash is a much bigger surprise because the plants are covered with insect netting. My expectation was to leave them covered until blossoms appeared and then to remove the covers to allow pollination. I guess either critters from under the cover did the job or this variety just doesn’t require conventional pollination. The variety of cuc’s I mostly plant are designed for hot house growth and are self pollinating. Perhaps that works for this squash too.

Big News

Big news! Chris is moving to Charlotte. Jamie got a “too good to refuse” job offer and Chris has wanted out of California for more than a year so they pulled the trigger on it today. He’s hoping that Sephora reaches out to him with an opportunity there but if not, he’s confident he’ll have no trouble getting another job. If all goes as scheduled, they’ll be living in Charlotte by the first week of May. Of course we’re happy that he’ll be much closer to us and actually be living about 20 miles away from “family”. In fact we have a vacation trip (or two) already scheduled for North Carolina in the next few months.

The other big news is that Simon successfully completed his 4 day canoe trip from the Fla-Ala border to the Gulf of Mexico at Apalachicola. If you check out a map, they got on the river near the town of Chatahoochee at the southern end of Lake Seminole – a bit west of Tallahassee. It’s a little over 100 miles of mostly wilderness and quite an adventure. The last day was the toughest when the wind blew continuously against them (from the south) all day so there was no stop in the paddling to let the current do the work. They had made good time up until that day with the south bound current stronger than anticipated – actually cut a day off the original schedule. The good news was that all the patches Simon made to the canoe held.

Got all the weather protection gear out of the garden and put away for the season – that’s how confident I am that winter is over and done with. Picked the last of the broccoli and cauliflower but still have a few weeks worth of cabbage, lettuce, kale and carrots. Then the summer stuff starts happening – already blossoms on the green bean bushes so we could be adding that to the diet by the end of April if not sooner.

Busy Uber guy. George called first thing this AM and needed a ride to the hospital for blood work. He’s been in and out of the hospital a couple times in the last few weeks with blood loss issues. Barbara broke her arm so she can’t drive which puts me in the lineup for emergency transport. Just so happens that Nancy has a bridge game in Palm Coast, for which we leave at 11:30. Nancy was a little concerned that I’d get hung up with George but it all went like clockwork.

We had a nice Easter with Tom, Tina, Olivia and Joey. I made the cole slaw, Nancy made carrot salad and Tina did the rest – with a really special cake for dessert.