Election Weary

The garden is taking off. Put in most of the seedlings I started in early Sept. So far only a minimal amount of loss.

Nancy and I made eggplant parmigiana this week. Actually it was eggplant-zucchini parmigiana. I picked three small eggplants which turned out to be just a wee bit short so I picked a zucchini to intermix. Perfect. The sauce was still from the summer batch of tomatoes so this is a total homegrown, home cooked meal. The eggplants are from plants that were put in the ground last spring and managed to make it through the summer to produce a second crop. There are still blossoms on the plants so it could possibly go on for another month or so. In the mean time I planted some new ones a month or so back, hoping they’ll produce before a freeze gets them. The eggplant provided a surprise this year in that last year I had planted half a dozen and had them coming out our ears – nobody was interested in them. This year I planted about half as many plants but George and Barbara plus Garrett and Jinny decided that they could make parmigiana so there’s been a run on them.

Getting some nice, much needed rain. A couple of days ago I planted more seeds in the garden and they need to stay moist until they germinate so my timing was right on. The seeds planted included radishes, carrots, and two more varieties of lettuce. Also found another package of spinach seeds from last year so I gave it a spot. So far all the attempts at planting spinach have failed – either the seed is too old or the weather too hot. I suspect the former and plan to rectify that situation next time I hit the feed store in deLeon Springs.

I’m going to make another shot at harvesting sweet potatoes next week. I tried about 30 days ago and found the tubers too small. They’ve been in for over 100 days and that should be adequate. Two pressure points – we’re on the hook for the sweet potatoes on Thanksgiving and I need the space in the garden for more winter crops.

Chris update – Back in NYC as of Saturday, 10/27. He enjoyed the train from Charlotte in his sleeping car albeit a couple hours late. He’ll be living in a hotel until his apartment is ready, mid November. Between now and then he spends a couple days in Boston training and a week in Miami at a National sales meeting. His stuff was packed in two “POD’s” and will be delivered and unpacked when the apartment is ready for occupancy. All very slick and he seems happy to be back “home”.

I’ll be sooooooo glad when this election is over. The TV commercials are driving us batty. Florida is a fairly middle of the road state so there’s a ton of money spent on media to get a small advantage at the polls. We see the same commercials over and over again for months. The really depressing thing about the ads is that it lays out just how mean and corrupt every single candidate is. Each one, over and over again. I’m not sure how they get away with distorting things so greatly. Personally I think you have to be suspicious of anyone who chooses politics as a career.

Winter’s Coming

Exciting start to the day on Wednesday. The phone rang about 7:30AM which is really unusual. It was George relating that they had called 911 and there was an emergency vehicle on the way and asking me to go up to the road to guide them down to his house. His driveway is narrow, curved and heavily wooded so they couldn’t drive down to the house which is not visible from the road. We’ve been through this a couple of times and they need to unload the gurney on the road and walk it down to the house. The problem was blood pouring out a wound on his chest as a result of minor surgery a week ago. I got the EMT’s to the house and went in to see what I could do to help. Lots and lots of blood between the bathroom and the living room but the wound had started to clot and it wasn’t currently bleeding. George has all sorts of side issues with his heart and blood count so they loaded him onto the gurney and off to the hospital in Ormond. Barbara followed quickly and I volunteered to clean up the mess. What was complicating for me was that Nancy plays bridge on Wednesday and we have to leave for the game 20 miles away by 8:30. I got back to the house at 8:29 and we made it to the bridge game with minutes to spare.

George called about an hour later. They diagnosed the problem as a hematoma that had somehow opened. They cleaned the wound, re-bandaged it and released him about noon.

Nancy is squeezing in another Palm Coast bridge day today, Friday. I’m ok with that and will hit the surf again. Last time was just not good with a load of seaweed close to shore making it almost impossible to fish. I’m hoping that will be cleared up but also concerned about an even bigger problem – Biketoberfest. It’s another Daytona event that draws in over 100K bikers and they overflow onto the beaches way up into Flagler Beach, where I fish. The good news/bad news situation is that rain is forecast. That would keep the biking down but make the fishing a little dicey.

Looks like we’re only a few days from a major weather change. It’s forecast to cool off by the weekend – enough for me to start moving my cool weather seedlings to the garden. I won’t list all that will move but anything you can think of, especially if it’s green and leafy, will probably be going in. Picked the first zucchini of the season and have a few eggplants that could be picked so I’m officially in the fall garden. The next big milestone will be digging the sweet potatoes. I found a couple of tubers a few weeks back but they were really too small. I’m thinking Thanksgiving is covered!!

The new Doc

We had a big family event on Wednesday. Tom presented his PhD dissertation to his committee and had to defend it against questions from the experts. We were invited to join the festivities at the University and then celebrate afterwards with friends and family. The committee was 4 professors with an interest in the subject matter being discussed – whether or not there is a skill transfer from game players to surgeons performing laproscopic surgery. Tom designed several tests and then had a good population of students engage in the experiments. Most of those participants were in attendance at the presentation so the total audience was probably close to 100. The format was for Tom to make his presentation and then answer questions posed by the committee members and anyone else who wanted to participate. Our family didn’t ask any questions – just applauded at the right time. At the end of the Q &A session, the committee chairman asked everyone to leave while they reached their conclusion regarding Tom’s academic future. All in all, the presentation and Q & A lasted about an hour. About 15 minutes later, the head guy came out and requested that Tom come meet with the whole committee. Five minutes later Tom came out smiling. The chairman then came out and made the announcement that they had signed off on Tom and the only thing left was the actual ceremony in December. The chairman, Charlie, said Tom was “little Doc” until he was actually “hooded” and becomes “Doc”.

The experience was really great for us since Tom got us a room at the downtown Marriott which was a 5 minute walk from the event. Then after the event he took us all (the family) to a great downtown restaurant. We broke off after that while the rest of them headed to a spot called World of Beer where all the other’s from the presentation were ready to party on. We thought we might be a drag on that party so opted to head back to the hotel.

The actual degree award event occurs in December. At that point we (might) see both Tom and Olivia graduate from UCF. Olivia gets her bachelors degree from the School of Medicine. Originally the schedule had them both graduating at the same event which would have been really convenient but the university came to their senses and split up the event into two ceremonies. Interestingly, supposedly the word now is that Tom can only get two tickets to his event which is a real bummer considering that several people are coming from Utah and (maybe) Idaho and the number of local family planning to go. I guess no problem seeing Olivia graduate.

I usually get out into the yard and/or garden by 9AM to get in a couple of hours before it just gets too hot for me. This morning I poked my head out to head over and got right back in. It turned into fall/winter overnight and it was actually (Florida) cold. That means in the low 60’s. So now instead of getting all my work done before it gets too hot, I have to wait until it warms up. Time to put out my cabbage seedlings etc.

Nancy likes old fashioned white bread, Wonder Bread to be exact. Me, not so much. We go thru a large loaf every week, half for Nancy and half for the critters, mostly fish. But more recently the critter count has grown to include a large turtle and a duck. They nominally reside in the back bay of the lake, where we live and as soon as I step out on the dock in the morning, I can see a turtle head pop out within 100 yds of me and head directly toward me. A few seconds later I hear the flapping of the duck wings. The duck hangs out around George’s dock but he keeps his eyes on ours, especially at feeding time. I’m aware of the fact that you’re not supposed to feed the wildlife but ………………

A New Bait Option

It’s cooled off enough to get me back surf fishing on Mondays while Nancy is playing bridge. A couple of weeks ago when I was on the beach, just walking, not fishing, I met a guy who was catching a few and clearly, (based on his gear), knew what he was doing. I asked him what he was using for bait and he showed me his sand flea flavored “fish bites”. This is a manufactured bait strip, cut into small pieces that are really easy to deal with – holds on the hook much better than real bait, and according to this guy, caught more fish than real sand fleas or shrimp. It’s non perishable so you can keep it in your tackle box and not have to worry about ice. It comes in lots of flavors – shrimp, crab, clam, squid, shrimp – so lots of options for bait choice. I went by Big Al’s bait and tackle on Flagler and picked up a bag of the sand flea flavored. They don’t give them away – $9 for a small bag but the fact that they will last for many trips, makes up for the expense. Also the bait is tough enough to stay on the hook even after catching a few fish. My surf rig has two hooks so when I got on the beach and saw that natural sand fleas were abundant, I decided to bait one hook with a real flea and the other with a sand flea flavored fish bite. I did catch more fish on the bite. Another advantage to the fish bite is that I can’t count on always being able to find live sand fleas in the surf. Sometimes they’re abundant, sometimes totally gone. And sometimes the surf is running so big that it’s difficult gathering them. I did a little online research and was surprised to find plenty of sources but not much price spread. Walmart was shown as a source so I’m going to visit the Palm Coast store and see if they have them. I’m thinking of adding crab and shrimp flavored Bites to the mix. Update – I found them at Walmart for $6. I bought a bag of sand flea flavor, shrimp flavor, clam flavor and crab flavor. I rushed to the beach to start some serious testing but was met with rain, wind, rip currents and giant waves. Next week!

Lots and lots of seedlings in the house waiting for a break in the heat. I have 50+ seedlings including cauliflower, broccoli, kale, cabbage, cabbage, and collards. This is more than enough to fill the garden open spaces. Also, the swiss chard seeds I planted directly in the garden have mostly germinated and will need some thinning in a week or so. I’ll put some of the thinned plants in individual containers to cover any losses that occur in the garden. I just hate thinning plants and then tossing them away which is why I end up with too many plants in the garden. I had planted two different varieties of Chard but so far, only one variety has germinated so if the other variety, sea foam, doesn’t work in this garden, I’ll use the thinned plants in that place.

Looking at this backlog, I decided to dig around in the sweet potato patch to see how far along those were. Hopefully they’ll be ready for harvest soon. But, I dug around the edges and found a tuber that was way too small. At least there was a tuber but I’ll just let them go another two weeks before checking again. They were advertised as “white” sweet potatoes and sure enough, they are really light skinned. One thing for sure – tubers or not – I’ll get quite a load of foliage for the compost pile.

Looks like Chris will be moving (again) to NYC. He was recruited seriously from a major player in the industry and will celebrate Thanksgiving there.
We rearranged the furniture in the living room to see if we could enhance Nancy’s TV viewing. We swapped the positions of the small couch and the lounge chair so that the chair could be physically closer to the TV and also provide better back support. Seems to have worked so far.

Truck’s History

Nancy’s orthopod set her up for some shots to relieve her back pain. They said there was no fundamental underlying bone issues but rather pinched nerves. I was surprised when they set an appointment to get the shot at 6:00 AM at a surgical center in Orange City – about 45 minutes away. I figured the doctor probably lived there and stopped by first thing in the morning before going to his Deland office and that surely she would be the first patient. So I was surprised when we opened the door to the office and found a full waiting room and learned that there were 4 doctors there performing procedures. She got her shots, 4 numbing shots and 2 serious shots and we were out of there about 8AM.

Decided to simplify our vehicle situation even further. Last month we got rid of our old Camry and replaced it with a new Buick which still left us with 3 vehicles and 1 driver. The ’96 truck was getting very few miles which is worse on the vehicle than getting too many miles. The engine occasionally made some funny noise, the brakes squeaked, and it started missing and steering funny. Last time it exhibited those same symptoms – about a year ago- it cost $400 to bring it back to life. I came close to donating it at that time. I love the truck and had some truly memorable camping and fishing trips with the kids, friends, and family but that was a different time and donating it to the Kidney Foundation seemed a fitting end. We donated our old Buick Park Avenue to the Lung Foundation back in the 90’s so now we’re a multi organ donor. The first person we told about the transaction was little Tommy. He was with me when I went shopping for a truck and agreed with the choice. A few weeks later I bought the camper which was located in the Sacramento area and we drove out together, picked it up at the factory, and then camped our way back to Salt Lake. He (and Simon) was with us when the truck crossed the 100K mile point near Heber Utah along the Jordanelle Reservoir. We stopped, did a little dance around the truck then finished up with shakes at Granny’s. Lot’s and lot’s of memories for the three of us.

Lots and lots of seedlings in the house waiting for a break in the heat. I have 50+ seedlings including cauliflower, broccoli, kale, cabbage, cabbage, and collards. This is more than enough seedlings to fill the garden open spaces. Looking at this backlog, I decided to dig around in the sweet potato patch to see how far along those were. Hopefully they’ll be ready for harvest soon. But, I dug around the edges and found a tuber that was way too small. At least there was a tuber but I’ll just let them go another two weeks before checking again. They were advertised as “white” sweet potatoes and sure enough, they are really light skinned.