Winter doldrums

The weather continues to be yucky – cold, wet, and windy. Cold means highs in the 50’s, lows in the low 40’s; windy means 12-15 mph right out of the north; wet means an inch or so every couple of days. It’s the kind of weather that doesn’t lend itself to fishing, working in the garden, or anything else that occupies my time normally. Lot’s of catching up on reading and working sudoko puzzles. AKA Boring.  I heard on the news that a polar vortex or two are on the horizon.  Why isn’t that a bigger concern than warming?  Warm is good, cold is bad.  easy

I made dinner the other night and screwed up on the red pepper flakes again. It was even hot for me. I guess a tablespoon goes a long way with hot pepper. I make a pasta – swiss chard dish that nominally gets a few sprinkles of pepper flakes but I got carried away. That’s twice in a row so I’m on thin ice in the kitchen.

Tommy came over this morning to take his mother to a movie. That’s their regular Sunday routine now. After they leave, I turn my buddy Robbie (Roomba) on and let him work his little heart out. Last time out he got underneath Nancy’s sewing area and ate up a couple little cloth squares. That stops him dead in his tracks and I clean him out. Along with the normal dust and sand, in this case there were several pins, needles, and pieces of thread. I understand the sand but am always amazed at the amount of dust it finds. The whole idea behind this guy was to reduce the amount of vacuuming Nancy has to do and it really does seem to be accomplishing that. I was afraid she would just follow behind the robot with the sweeper to make sure it was done right but she seems quite happy with the job it does and will initiate it several times a week.

Picking lots of stuff out of the garden now. Along with the load of kale, swiss chard, and lettuce we’re now getting snow peas, cauliflower, cabbage and broccoli. The cool, damp weather is perfect for these crops which suffer with too much heat. We’ve got so much cauliflower that we made a large batch of roast cauliflower soup for Wilma. That goes right along with (my favorite) the Tuscan bread soup with kale, cabbage, and beans.

And speaking of the garden, please remind me to avoid growing sweet potatoes ever again. I picked the last of them a few weeks ago and they’re just not that good. My logic is always that they’re one of the few things that grow well in the heat so why not. Also, even if you don’t eat the potatoes, the vines are so long and strong that it’ll make a load of compost. The problem with that argument is that the vines don’t die. I cut them up and toss them in the compost pile only to find them self rooting and overtaking the compost pile. I tried to turn the pile yesterday only to find it was like coils of rope under the surface and nearly impossible to turn.

Waterfront Park, Palm Coast

Nancy’s friend came up with tickets to hear the Von Trapps (sing) at a local church. I don’t watch “Sound of Music” reruns and you can’t imagine how much I wasn’t interested. But I’m thinking if Nancy really wants to go, it’s a Wednesday night at the Deland Presbyterian church, which is only a stone’s throw from Persimmon Hollow, and I could sacrifice and wait it out there while Nancy represents us at the event. At this point in time, we’re not really together on the whole plan.

The weather and tides have been wrong for my normal fishing excursions on Mondays, when Nancy plays bridge in Palm Coast so I had to come up with another way to kill a couple of hours. On the way to the beach I passed a sign that pointed to Waterfront Park and decided to check it out. The park is on the intracoastal and consists of literally miles of paved pathways through the woodsy shoreline. So for the past couple of weeks I’ve been exploring the park – walking a couple of miles on each excursion. There is a very nice fishing pier right at the park entrance but it’s loaded with fisherman – including lots of noisy kids. I was hoping for spots to walk down to the shoreline and fish in privacy but it’s a steep, rocky shoreline designed to prevent erosion which means no shore fishing. There are lots of upscale condo’s just off the paths and I’m looking forward to exploring much more of it – until the fishing conditions improve.

Nothing spectacular going on in the garden, just pickin’ and Eatin’. It looks like a heavy duty storm is barreling down on us that will bring us an arctic blast by this weekend. That means a coverup job in my future. Generally if we can make it thru mid Feb, we’re home free. This is the same storm that’s drowning California and threatening to bury Chicago and New York in snow later this week so I’m not going to get much sympathy for our 32 degree plunge.

Robbie the Roomba made two successful runs this week – successful means Nancy started it up, it ran around for a couple of hours doing robot kinds of things, and it parked itself and went to sleep when it was all done. It seems to be quelling Nancy’s inner urge to run the vacuum so right now it’s enjoying a thumbs up rating.

Trying a Picture

Nancy renamed the roomba – Robbie – and turned it loose for a romp around the house. Got a barrier up to protect the trees from Robbie and a few barriers up to protect Robbie from the environment. We should be getting it right by now. We’ll see. In a perfect world you could turn it loose, leave the house and come back to a completed sweep job.

Tom asked me to try installing a photo into the blog so I’m giving that a try. First attempt was to create text using the Apple word processing software (Pages), then pasting in a photo and finally pasting the doc into the blog software. That approach didn’t work with the old software.

.cauliflower.jpg

The next attempt was to paste in only the text and add the pic’s directly into the blog software. That’s how I always did it in the past. The picture is self explanatory. It looks like it worked the old way – pasting the picture in after the text was installed.

Roomba update – I’m sitting at the computer and all of a sudden I have something banging up against my feet – scared the hell out of me. It makes plenty of noise but I was focused on what I was doing.

Trying a New Soup

We spotted a soup recipe in the WSJ that sounded right up our alley – lots of veggies from the garden. It was called Tuscan Bread Soup with kale, cabbage and beans. What’s not to like. The only non-garden veggie required were leeks and potatoes. Delicious We make a fair amount of soup and take most of it over to Wilma, Nancy’s old bridge partner now in a senior independent living place in Palm Coast. She really doesn’t care for the food they serve but loves Nancy’s soups. She’s really tiny and Nancy worries she really can’t afford to miss meals.

Went fishing, first time in the lake without George. Not as much fun and didn’t catch anything. My other neighbor told me the other day that he just wasn’t getting anything but I figured he just didn’t know the spots. Guess I don’t either.

The weather has been nearly perfect from the perspective of working in the garden. Also, for the azaleas and camellias which normally start blooming in February but are starting a month early. I did say “nearly”. I’ve had to cover up the garden on the most delicate stuff again – for the third or fourth time this year. No real threats of frost or freezing temps so far which does make my coverup job much easier. The tough part is that these deep cold hits normally come as a front moves in – meaning windy conditions and sometimes rain. I mostly coverup with old sheet sets so you can imagine how tough it is to deal with a fitted sheet in a 20mph wind.

Roomba News

Finally pulled the plug on the sweet potatoes – dug them all up. They were planted just after the 4th of July, so the better part of 6 months. The last time I picked a few was almost a month ago and they were still on the smallish size. This time there were some monsters along with medium size and small ones but all in all, a good crop that will keep us in potatoes for a couple of months. Sooooooo much lettuce, starting to pick a few cherry tomatoes, and the flow of green bell peppers continues nicely. They’ll be coming on strong for the next month or so – especially if the weather stays so nice – low 80’s projected for the next week or so with an occasional sprinkle. We’re now providing lettuce to friends at Palm Coast bridge club – not just the Crescent City crowd. All the greens/greens we and 10 more of us could handle and within the next two weeks the space made available by picking the sweets, will be repopulated with miscellaneous stuff – probably a red kale and different varieties of cabbage.

Nancy left for her crocheting group and turned on the Roomba, aka mini Nance, while I headed to the garden for some light weeding and picking. I came in about an hour later and noticed that the artificial trees in the living room had been felled and Nance was caught underneath trying to plow herself out to no avail. It seems like every time we use it, a new condition surfaces. Bottom line – don’t leave the house with it running and expect it to fully complete the job. Still, it does a good job picking up sand and dust.

Tina’s surgery came off just fine and she should be coming home today. Her problem is a continuation of the one that occurred on a recent trip to Utah in which she spent several days in a hospital there. Olivia was on the scene and I just know the doc’s and nurses were on their best behavior. She works as a scribe for the same health system so she knows all the questions to ask and how the system works.

Here’s one to ponder. Disney is, without a doubt, a lefty corporation. If you don’t think so just watch ABC News. But, I like the way they solved a particular problem using a traditional right wing solution. They have too much traffic at the Disney theme Park in Orlando so to counter that, they again raised prices – I think $130/per person for a one day pass. What about the poor folks with lots of kids – this will only do more to price them out or make them choose between Disney or groceries.

Back on line (I hope)

Sorry for the posting gap – computer/software issues.

Christmas was fun at Tom’s – an extension of the festivities we’ve been enjoying all month. All the grandkids were home which may not always happen in the future.

Nancy got out of the hospital a few days before the event so it was touch and go as to whether or not we’d make it but she felt fine and we decided to chance it. No problems. We got some really nice things but one thing of particular interest, simply because we’ve been looking at them for years but have never pulled the trigger, a Roomba robot sweeper. Nancy is a real floor nazi and I am forever in the dog house for dragging dirt in the house so perhaps this will relieve my heartburn. With this and the new laptop we bought a week or so back, I’m in high tech purgatory – where nothing is as easy as it seems.

The old mac book was just getting too far behind and starting to cause issues so while we were in Orlando for the graduations, Tom picked up a new mac book Air at the University book store. You would think it would take only a minute or two to bring up the new machine and transfer information but deep down inside you know anything that has to do with computers is fraught with potential disasters. And so it was. One of the casualties was the ability to post blogs updates. The new machine had some kind of problem with Word Press, the blog application. I knew Tom could eventually get it all straightened out – it was just a matter of him finding the time amid all the end of year events going on. I think it’s done. I feel ok not being able to do it myself since it took him several hours of high intensity banging away on the keyboard. But right now I have the new laptop and the desktop mini in sync.

The Roomba also created some heart burn when the first directions involved wi fi and the internet. I told Tom my fall back was to figure a way to attach the Roomba to a broom stick and push it around the house manually. After a call to Roomba land, I learned that it has a totally manual mode (for the technically challenged) and we set it off to clean the house. There are a few traps that we’re now aware of but it did get the job done. For example the showers are a step down from floor level and it fell right in but couldn’t get back out. The first trial was interesting as it wandered around the house doing it’s thing including underneath the beds. When it finished the first pass, I opened it to check the filters. It was chock full of dust and sand- so it does work. A couple days later we set it loose again. We closed the bedroom doors so it wouldn’t do those again but still, after a couple of hours, had a fairly full dirt trap. I think this is going to make Nancy quite happy on a daily basis with only an occasional full manual job.

Great end to the college football season. SEC rules and my gators did the job on Michigan; Simon’s Auburn Tigers downing Purdue. Also Clemson drubbing the feared and dreaded (and over rated) Notre Dame. We don’t have cable out here in the woods so we were forced to visit Persimmon Hollow to watch a couple of the games including the Gator drubbing of Michigan. Way better than cable. UCF put up a valiant fight with LSU but the 25 game winning streak had to come to an end. Losing to LSU was certainly nothing to be ashamed of. Even Utah and even Kentucky prevailed so it was great season for us overall.