A New Car in the Family

As expected, I over did it on the fall seed planting. I have the seeds which have a life expectancy so once I get started, why not go big. Also since it’s a high risk crop, I decided to try a wide variety rather than depend on just a few varieties. The final count is a dozen tomato peat pots among 6 different varieties, 2 of each. Add 6 bell peppers, 4 eggplants, and two basil’s to round out the fall seedling starts. I’ll also plant a few summer squash plants directly in the garden sometime in Mid September, weather permitting. Don’t assume that 100% of the seed plantings listed above will actually turn into future transplants. Germination is normally something less than 100% so in each little pot, I put two seeds. It does happen that both the seeds or neither of the seeds will germinate. In about 2 weeks I’ll have some feeling for how many transplants could make the garden. These seed pots are sitting in a plastic tray – “floating” in an inch of water – on the kitchen counter. I want them to be protected from large temp swings, bugs, sunlight until they have germinated. One of the things I have to be very careful of is losing track of which variety is in which peat pot. All the varieties look alike when immature and I really want to determine which variety is best suited for our climate. It’s not a big surprise that somewhere in between germination and transplant, they become mixed up. Labels wash off, well meaning people “move” them.

Bought/leased a new car. The Toyota we’ve had since ’96 was sending end of life warning signals. It had about 230,000 miles with the original power train and transmission and the A/C was intermittent – a really bad problem in a Florida summer so we decided it was time to look for a replacement. I evaluated several different cars and finally settled on a new Buick Encore – a small, SUV body style. It’s a little bigger than I was thinking but I really enjoyed driving it around the lot and was able to strike what I considered a decent deal. It also had more “goodies” than I was thinking but…………. It’s the model above the “basic” with a special engine, the Bose noise cancellation system and extra fancy wheels and trim. None of that matters to me but…….. That, plus Tom had previously done research on the Encore and had decided that would probably be his next buy. That pushed my decision toward the Buick. This is our first lease, 27 months, 12000 miles per year. Nancy is a little nervous about that but I think it’s a good fit for the routine driving we do. And we still have the Grand Marquis for longer drives and the truck – but not sure for how much longer on that. I drive it so rarely now that it’s suffering from a lack of use.

We made the purchase on Saturday then Nancy and I went back on Monday to actually take delivery and give up the Toyota. It’s so much more electronics oriented that it’s going to take me a while to really feel comfortable with the basic operations. The whole starting and shutting off process is no longer just a key in the ignition and I have this nagging feeling that I’m going to end up some time outside the car trying to figure out how to get in. The sales guy gave me a walk thru but it was a bit overwhelming. It complicated everything that I don’t have a smart phone. I told the guy that a gas pedal, break peddle and steering wheel are all I really needed. I get 3 months of free onstar which seems like something I would never want but Nancy seems to think otherwise. We’ll see.

Car Issue

We were leaving Palm Coast on bridge club day when the car started making funny noises and steering anomalies. Thought it might be the air conditioning so we turned it off and lowered the windows. I guess the wind noise overwhelmed the sound we had been hearing so assumed that turning off the AC fixed it. Thirty minutes later as we turned down our driveway, it became painfully obvious that the steering problem had gone from minor to major. But it did get us home. First thing in the morning I decided to start trouble shooting – maybe it went away overnight. The first thing I checked was the power steering fluid and sure enough it was way, way down. I just happened to have a quart of fluid on hand and it just so happened that was exactly the amount it took. The wailing sound stopped and in just a short test drive, most of the vibrations stopped. My thought was that the small vibrations remaining were probably associated with air bubbles in the system and decided to make it to the mechanic in Deland, about 15 miles away. It did make it but the last 100 yards were total torture requiring all my strength to make the final turn into the garage. My new analysis was the power steering pump had crapped out. I got a ride home from Nancy’s friend Esther who was going to the house to work on quilts with Nancy. The mechanic that works on the car happens to live about an eighth of a mile down our road so somehow we’d be able to work out getting the car back home when repaired. The good news was that the pump was fine, the problem being a leaky pressure sensor – a much less expensive fix – about 1/3 of what I expected. Since this was our main car, this hiccup is probably going to push me back into the new (or nearly new) car market. ugh!

Some days I’m not sure what’s breaking down faster – me or my things.

Decided to start some fall seedlings, tomatoes and green peppers. I’m trying a few varieties that I’ve not tried in the past. If things go right and I get decent germination, they should be transplanted into the garden the end of September and producing after Thanksgiving. That,of course, assumes no flooding, no hurricanes and no surprise early freezes. The soil itself has been really soggy all summer long so I’m not sure what that means in terms of impact on the next crop. Maybe I’ll have more mold and mildew to contend with – who knows. I do know that it won’t take much rain, perhaps one hurricane passing within 500 miles, to have the roots floating again.

Fridge Fixed

Trying an experiment on the deck inside the screened porch. As described, we power washed the deck over the weekend and spread clorox to kill the mold. Three days later it looked good and you can see those areas where the deck paint/cool deck has worn off or blasted off with 15 years of power washing. I cordoned off a 10 sf patch, did a localized hit of clorox spray and then sprayed paint with as close a matching color as I could find. I have no doubt that even if the paint sticks, it won’t hold up as well to power washing as a heavy duty paint job but maybe it will look decent and be easier to maintain. As far as the color match, I think it will be a better match than the mold! Of course I could paint the deck black and for sure you wouldn’t see the mold.

We’ve had a persistent problem with the new fridge in that the door pops open or fails to close properly. We have a bottom freezer drawer and closing the freezer often causes the fridge door to pop open – not wide open but open a couple of inches so it’s not obvious to the casual observer. Tom and I tried adjusting the level but that didn’t noticeably improve the situation. When Joey and Mark came over this past weekend, we tried again but no improvement so we decided to call Lowes and order a service call. A few days later the service tech showed up and determined the problem was the fridge door had been improperly installed and the hinge was missing a spacer. He didn’t have the correct part on his truck but was able to fashion a temporary part that fixed the problem. There was also a question as to the proper installation of the freezer door handle. It worked but just didn’t look right. I visited the Lowes in Palm Coast and they had the same fridge on the floor and sure enough, the freezer handle was different. That plus Nancy’s quilting friend had just purchased the exact same fridge and confirmed that her’s was different than ours. The service tech took one look at it and said that the wrong handle had been installed and that too would be fixed on the follow up visit to install the proper spacer.

We had dinner last night with a dozen of my old high school classmates. They meet up monthly and we join them if they select a place closer to us than Cocoa where they mostly live. They chose a place, Goodrich’s) on the coast, Oak Hill, about an hour from us. It’s a sea food, fish camp kind of place on the Indian River Lagoon. It’s been there for years. The accommodations are sparse but it’s always crowded – the food is excellent and reasonably priced. I ordered a seafood wrap that included two sides. I selected baked beans for one of the sides as I usually do and was blown away by how good they were – I think maybe the best ever. Nancy got a shrimp basket and picked “southern” greens as one of her sides. Same comment from her – best ever. The classmate sitting across from us said the sweet potato fries were the best she’d ever had. Since we’re all 75+, no doubt the sides here are exceptional and worthy of another visit. Not much of a draft beer selection.

Still Recovering

Big academic news. Tom submitted his PhD dissertation and Olivia took the GRE and did well. Next step for Tom is actually getting the degree later this year and Olivia being accepted into a PA school. They’ve both worked hard toward these goals and the end is in sight. And the icing on the cake – Simon get’s an MS from Auburn at the same time. So an educational Trifecta coming our way in December.

We’ve had so much rain this summer that the garden is filling with weeds at a rate that’s tough to keep up with. The silver lining to that is the weeds become the primary source of the next generation compost. It’s also much easier to pull the weeds when the ground is soggy – so what if I’m a dripping, muddy mess after weeding only a couple of rows. I’m surprised that the sweet potato plants appear to be doing quite well, at least the foliage and the eggplants are producing loads of blossoms and new fruit. In the past I’ve had only off and on luck with eggplants but now I’m thinking overwatering is a good thing and in the past, maybe they got too dry.

After 10 days, the hematoma swelling is going down and the color has changed from black to light, mottled purple with some yellow overtones. Really ugly. It’s still fairly sore but much improved. The latest blood test showed some improvement in iron level – still too low but heading in the right direction. According to the doc, all the blood that had settled in the hematoma would eventually be absorbed back into my body so the iron level should naturally return to it’s normal level. Seem’s right to me. oops – I decided to attack those weeds mentioned above and screwed up my hematoma somehow so it hurts again and is getting bigger. Nice Joe.

Sure glad school is about to start again. That will help clear the beaches on Mondays when I do my weekly surf fishing. There will still be some out of state kids where school starts after Labor Day but for the most part, much clearer. For the past two weeks, my Monday surf trip has been messed up due to a massive beach reconstruction project all along the strip where I do most of my fishing. Not sure how long that project will continue but imagine they want to get all the new sand down before the peak of storm season. So far we’ve had nothing at all brewing in the Atlantic but I don’t start breathing easy until after the first of October. It bothers me that the same expert forecasters that started out predicting an above average active season just last week adjusted their forecast way downward – to below average. If their first prediction was so far off base, why should we expect the second one will be any better. Also, why would the hurricane forecasts come from Colorado?