Squirrels attack the car

For whatever reason, I’ve attacked the jungle by the dock. It’s now about where I had it 12 or so years ago. Slowly but surely a variety of vines climb into the trees and brush to eventually weave a solid, tight wall of green. I’ve been going at it slowly due to the excessive heat but this week we got a giant break with a cold front bringing us rain and cooler weather. Cool in this context means afternoon temps in the low 90’s; morning temps in the low 80’s. Overcast with an occasional light shower. Perfect for me to go at it non-stop for a couple of hours in the morning. Plenty of sweat but no fatigue. I’ve already done quite a bit more than I had planned. Pulling the vines is a little addictive and what starts as a 10 minute plan just goes on for a couple of hours. An occasional dip in the lake helps. I think I’ll keep at this for a while as long as the weather permits and then have a truck load of fill dirt dropped off in November. That will allow me to fill in some of the holes in the jungle a few wheel barrow loads at a time. Slow and steady instead of the marathon filling I did in the past. Believe it or not – it’s a relaxing no brainer. I keep a couple of fishing rods on the dock in the go mode and if I hear some splashing while pulling vines, I just stop and make a few casts.

I recently read that yellow glasses are beneficial with early stage macular degeneration. I’ve had that for several years but really not noticed much difference in my vision -very slow and not likely to ever be a big problem for me. I broke my current pair of sunglasses and decided to try yellow tinted ones. As soon as I tried them on in WalMart, I noticed things looked clearer so I bought a pair. The label said good for night driving so last night I tried them watching TV. Believe it or not, I could see the TV better but it felt weird sitting in the house with sun glasses on. I started wearing them today and noticed right away that everything looked clearer. So next time you’re in a place with sun glasses, try on a pair. I’m sure it’s not the same for everybody but right now, things seem brighter.

The Grand Marquis started acting up yesterday – running rough and idling at a high speed. The mechanic I use is also a neighbor on Purdom so I just drop the car off at his house and he drives it into his shop in Deland and then back again when he comes home. I knew it needed a tune up – if for no other reason than it’s never had one. It’s a 2006 model so you can do the math. Well he did a complete tune up along with changing all those parts that need occasional change – fuel filters, PVC valves etc etc. What actually caused the rough running and idling problem was a vacuum hose that had been eaten by squirrels/rats. Several wires were also gnawed on. This is the same problem I had a couple of times with the truck and the Toyota. For a while I was checking under the hood occasionally but stopped that for some reason. What Jerry said was that I needed to get a few dryer sheets, e.g. Bounce, and tie those up under the hood. We also had for quite a while put a net bag of camphor balls in the carport under the cars but again, for some reason, just quit doing that. So I need to kick up my game on dealing with the jungle critters. Speaking of which, another double wasp hit this morning. Really, really hurts. This is a variety that’s really tiny but has the sting of it’s largest brothers. I got a bag of ice on the spots, took a benedryl and it reduced the swelling quickly. I think the quick application ice is the key.

Another bug attack

Tom and I went fishing on the Tomoka River and had an interesting experience. It’s happened before but never to this extent. Shortly after launching the boat and moving a few hundred yards to start fishing we felt a bump on the boat and heard the familiar sound of a manatee surfacing. That’s always a thrill to see a creature as long as the boat bumping up against you. You literally could reach over and touch it. Usually these encounters last a minute or so and then the critter goes about it’s business. In this case it kept around or directly under the boat for an extended time so we couldn’t operate the electric motor without hitting it. Then we noticed it in two places at the same time so clearly there was more than one. We had either two or three aside and/or under the boat so we were kind of trapped. They were totally passive and treated us like a member of the pack. I picked up the paddle and very gently nudged it’s barnacle covered back. We were traveling together with the tide for probably 10 minutes.

And the fish weren’t biting at all. Wonder if the manatee had something to do with that.

Damn. Banged again by some kind of wasplike critter in the jungle. I was back in there clearing and something nailed me really hard on the finger – right where it attaches to the hand. I was out of the thickest part and heading back in when I spotted one small vine that needed clipping. I had taken off my glove, naturally. I never saw what it was but it has to be very tiny but hit with as hard a force as any wasp I’ve ever encountered. A half hour later my hand was still throbbing and starting to swell. Damn again.

The lake is still high and getting even clearer. I can see the bottom, which is dark, in 6’ of water. I really don’t ever remember it being this clear before. It’s also quite warm, mid 90’s so it’s like having a giant hot tub.

Nancy had conflict with a Dr. appointment on Friday so she had to switch bridge from Friday to Wednesday. The good news is that meant we could hit Sky Jacker’s for the Wed peel and eat shrimp special. The bad news is it eliminates our normal Friday finish at Moonrise brewery.

Really, Really hot

Tom and Tina hosted a fourth of July party in conjunction with Olivia’s 23rd birthday. Fourth of July festivities at Tom’s. As usual the food was awesome including the best chocolate cake I’ve ever tasted. Tina identified it as Kathy’s cake highlighting that the recipe had no eggs and incorporated some vinegar and baking powder. I’m sure there’s lots more in it but it was perfect in my opinion. It was ultra hot as it has been for the past few weeks but poolside helped and most of the guests participated in the pool volley ball game.

The heat is breaking and we’re finally getting our normal summer afternoon rains. Typical temps for us this time of year is in the upper 80’s/low 90’s until after 2PM when the rains move in and cool it all off. We’ve been in the upper 90’s with no rain through most of June. When it does rain, it’s really hard, short duration rains. The lake is doing fine, maybe a little high and really clear. You can easily see 4’-5’ in the water. The beach has been nice too with low surf, mild water temps – low 80’s – and nice cooling breezes. I wade out knee deep to fish the surf and couldn’t be any more comfortable. There were a couple of guys fishing down from me the other day who practiced full immersion casting. They literally waded out up to their neck and cast really long casts beyond that. I’m glad to say they weren’t catching anything spectacular so I wasn’t at all tempted to mimic their strategy. Not sure what I would have done if they had been catching more than me.

Got an interesting thing going on in the lake. I keep a rod on hand down at the dock with a productive lure attached – Rapala. What’s been happening is there seems to be an extra large population of very aggressive soft shell turtles who are more than a little interested in my lure. So far I’ve managed to keep a sharp enough eye on the lure to see these guys coming – they push a large wave in front of them so it looks like a torpedo charging the lure. I’ve caught a couple in the past but not on lures – rather on live bait intended to catch bass. I’m afraid one of these guys is going to catch the Rapala and will be a real mess to land and retrieve the lure. These are edible turtles, locally called “cooters”, but I’m absolutely certain I want nothing to do with catching or cleaning these rapacious critters.

Haven’t mentioned the pineapple crop this year. It, along with the sunflower crop, are the only items that are really thriving. I have 6 producing plants that should produce pickable fruit from the end of this month on into September. I have a total of 17 plants now so next year could be a monster.

Deeper in the jungle

The washing machine gave up the ghost last week. I think that’s the last of the original appliances to go – 18 years. The good news was that I wasn’t involved at all in the replacement process. Nancy and Esther had a day shopping planned and just added Lowes to the agenda where Nancy made the choice and broke out the credit card. Simple as that. If it suits her, it surely suits me. The real problem is that this means we have to prepare for the delivery and carry off. To me that means making sure there’s a clear path between the front door and the washing machine but for Nancy it means a major cleanup in the utility closet so it will be perfectly clean and organized for the moving guys – translates to a couple hours of work since we store lots of stuff in that closet which will have to be moved to new, permanent quarters and the floor etc scrubbed to shiny perfection. As it turned out, some of the things stored in the utility closet now need to go in a kitchen cabinet and some to the shed. So the kitchen under cabinet gets totally reorganized to handle the new stuff and some of the stuff in that cabinet goes out to the shed. Lots of washing and oiling too. This side project will probably take 10x the whole process of changing out the washing machine.

The new machine was delivered exactly as promised and within half an hour was cranking out it’s first load of wash. It sounds different so that will take some getting used to and Nancy has to learn how to find the right buttons but it’s close enough to the old one that she’ll have no trouble.

I’m doing lots of jungle clearing work this summer. I’ve been negligent in keeping it up to snuff and it shows now that the dock work is complete (kind of complete). It’s mostly pulling out jungle vines which are incredible plants in terms of growing and climbing. Some of these guys I’m pulling down are 50’ with multi vining branches. By the time I’ve worked on them for a couple of hours, I’m pooped. The nice thing is that I can just do as much as I want and then come back later. No one but me can tell the difference so I’m not under any time of deadline or criticism. It’s shaping up nicely. It also turns out that pulling wild grape vines is like dope to me. Once I get started, I have trouble stopping so my 10 minute jobs turn into 2 hours. I have an area down by the dock that I haven’t touched in at least 10 years and it’s dense, dense jungle. It will probably take me a week to get it back in shape at my rate of 2 hours per day. Seems like it would make a lot more sense to do this in the winter. My first foray into the jungle netted me a nasty wasp bite on the neck.