Tuesday was a great day – Nancy came in second at bridge with 14 1/2 tables and Peter caught a nice pompano in the surf at Flagler Beach.   That made his trip complete.  They’ll be leaving Wednesday heading south to Key West.   A few days there and then they head north to VA and west and south back to California.   I think they’ll be another month on the road.  Their motor home is really nice and roomy – I was impressed.   

 The big news is that Tom resigned from UCF to join Iron Galaxy ( the video game company) full time.   He’s been operating two full time positions for quite some time now with continuous growth in both endeavors.   There’s only so many hours in a day and a certain amount of time needs to be set aside for golf and fishing.  Tom’s new title is GM (of Operations I think) with responsibilities in Orlando and Chicago.

The garden is changing rapidly now as summer looms.  The greens have been the prominent residents for the past few months but the heat tears them up.   The swiss chard is on it’s last legs as are the turnips, lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and carrots.   The only greens still holding up are collards and kale.  Tomatoes are coming on strong and we’ve started converting cherry and paste varieties into tomato sauce.   You know you have a serious tomato supply when you can cook up cherry tomatoes into 10 quarts of sauce – and they’re just coming on now.   Green peppers also doing well.   The jury’s out on squash.   They always look good early in the season but often become overwhelmed by critters and heat.  The interesting thing about the squash this season is that all the plants popped up in the compost pile from seeds that came from store bought squash and made it to the dinner table – not from seeds I purchased.   So no idea what variety they are or whether they’re acorn or butternuts.   Also no idea if they’re a variety that can handle our climate.   It’s also possible that they are not squash at all but melons.  They all look the same early on.  So it’s a crap shoot, wait and see crop. 

The Party

First big lake party in quite some time.   The occasion was Peter Ronca’s visit to Florida and we couldn’t pass up the opportunity for a family reunion.   I think the final head count was 20.   It started out in the AM with some hard rain but by mid afternoon it couldn’t have been nicer and the lake played a role in the fun and frolics.  We haven’t had a party this large in quite a while and we were a little concerned that we’d be overwhelmed.   Joey, Mark, Tom and Tina to the rescue.   They took over many of the more physically taxing jobs and when they left, there was very little additional cleanup required the next day.  Easiest party we ever hosted.  I think we’ve got this on a roll now and should plan a few more this summer.  As far as food, Nancy and I made a huge pan of baked beans, a large macaroni salad, broccoli salad, and carrot salad. We picked up a large box of fried chicken from Publix – 50 pieces – plus a veggie tray. Tom brought a fully populated giant cooler of drinks plus a cooler full of water which were positioned down at the lake on the dock. We put together another cooler of drinks for the porch. Tina brought another magnificent cake. It was Peter’s birthday making the day even more special.

Peter and Lei are staying at a campground on Flagler Beach – right on the ocean.   It’s about a mile south of where we used to spend our beach time so we’re totally familiar with the area.  I fixed up a surf fishing outfit for Peter and really hope the surf is good to him.   Our plan is to hook up on the beach Tuesday.  I’ll drop Nancy off to her bridge game and hook over to Peter’s to go fishing with him.  Then I’ll get Nancy and we’ll head back over to the beach and a picnic with Pete and Lei.   Not sure what their plans are for the rest of the week but think it involves a trip to the Keys.  

Other notable guests to the event were Little Tommy and Kate who drove in from Chicago and Simon and Amy who drove in Alabama.   Johnny, Brian, and Joanne and their respective spouses, representing the Brueggemann clan.  The big surprise for everyone was just how much Peter looks like Uncle Vinnie.   You could instantly pick him out of a crowd as a Ronca.  

A day at the beach

Tuesday was a great day – Nancy came in second at bridge with 14 1/2 tables and Peter caught a nice pompano in the surf at Flagler Beach.   That made his trip complete.  They’ll be leaving Wednesday and head south to Key West.   Then they head north to VA and west and south back to California.   I think they’ll be another month on the road.  Their motor home is really nice and roomy – I was impressed.   

 The big news is that Tom resigned from UCF to join Iron Galaxy ( the video game company) full time.   He’s been operating two full time positions for quite some time now with continuous growth in both endeavors.   There’s only so many hours in a day and a certain amount of time needs to be set aside for golf and fishing.  Tom’s new title is GM (of operations I think) with responsibilities in Orlando and Chicago

She’s number 1

She’s back!    Nancy finished 4th in the 13 table bridge game Tuesday and had several people request her consideration as a future partner.   She was having some personal doubts as to her ability after a couple of bad hands last week.  I tried to convince her that was to be expected with a layoff of over a year.  And who knows, maybe the stitches in her ear have focused her on the game more.  They come out on Friday so we’ll have see how she plays after they’re removed.  

The Thursday game was even more rewarding – she and her partner came in first!  So that totally dispels the notion that the lay-off had any impact on her ability to play.   Our phone rang off the hook with potential partners calling.

Friday – the stitches came out easily and it looks pretty good.   The bummer was that the cutting did not get all the bad stuff and needs a little more trimming – scheduled for May 3.   It’s still very low risk melanoma but it makes sense to have it gone.   I guess that’s easy for me since it’s not my ear.

After the stitch removal we went to the retina doc for her eye shot.  That seems to have gone well with not a drop of blood showing.   The shots have always been administered on Friday’s at 8 week intervals but they are changing that to Wednesdays.   Nancy was quite happy with that change since she has a bridge partner that can only play on Friday’s and the shots interfered with that.   So now it looks like bridge/surf fishing days will be Tuesday’s and Fridays.  

As a reward for all the morning doctoring, we went back to Buc-ee’s.   The last time we went was right after the grand opening and it was a madhouse.   I needed gas and they’re $.40 under the prevailing prices so it made sense.   It was still a total madhouse.   You can’t imagine the amount of business they do.  Inside we picked up a dozen muffins after the first batch we bought turned out so good.  Also decided to get beef brisket sandwiches to take home – excellent.  Outside they have 104 gas pumps and I suspect at least 50 were being used.  

A New Carbone

We’re going to have a great grandson!

Nancy’s melanoma ear surgery came off just fine.   We arrived at the hospital at 6:45 AM and left by noon.  Full knock out.   It took 20 tiny stitches to close it up.  The pain has been very manageable and she’s been getting by with a couple of Tylenol every 4 hours.  We took the bandage off last night and have been swabbing it with Neosporin.  To me, it looks fine.   

The Tuesday bridge/surf fishing events came off without a hitch. Nancy came in 4th in the 13 table game so she’s back in the groove. She was beating herself up for not coming back from the hiatus at full speed so this good finish does a lot. The fishing was great but the catching was lousy. The beach was back to being crowded but the weather was perfect. I fished for about 2 hours with not a bite. There were about 20 other rods in the water within eye sight and in that 2 hours, I didn’t see any rods bending at all. Still loved it.

Had Easter at Tom and Tina’s.  Tina made a great breakfast and dinner featuring a smoked leg of lamb.   Olivia was home from school for the Easter break and we got to see her a couple of times.  She’s doing very well in PA school and is really starting to talk like a doctor!!

Starting to pick carrots again and they are really nice – good color and straight.   Home grown carrots are often ugly but I planted the seeds in a row I’d been softening and composting with grass cuttings for a couple of years.   You can sure tell the difference.   The area I’m picking now is adjacent to the turnips and those too have been incredibly productive and picture ready.  

Another big event coming up is the start of blueberry season.  Weather dependent, that’s usually sometime between the first of April and the first of May. I have an “appointment” at Blueberry Hill Farms in Crescent City where we’ve bought our annual supply of blueberries for the past 10 years or so.   We get $100 worth and freeze them in pint size ziplock bags.   I have two bags left from last season which will get me thru to the first of May.  I could get them for less by picking them myself but……………

Friday is a big day for Nancy – gets the stitches removed from her ear and an eye shot –  stitches at 8:45AM;  eye shot at 9:45.  To brighten the day, maybe we’ll hit Buc-ee’s for cheap gas, super muffins, and brisket sandwiches.  

Getting Ready for a Ronca Visit

The garden salads now include cherry tomatoes.    I think we’re going to have more tomatoes this year than ever before.  Also picking small broccoli florets for the salad so these are becoming masterpieces.   

The weather is crazy.  It’s April 2 and we could have overnight lows in the 30’s – should be in the 60’s.   By Sunday we will be back in the upper 80’s for afternoon highs.   It’s really confusing some of the garden but by and large, they’re doing well.   Sure need some rain though.   Another weather phenomena that caused me some trouble is the high winds.   It was howling this morning when Nancy and I went to the hospital for her surgery and still howling when we came home after noon.  The palm trees were bent nearly horizontal. I went down to the dock to make sure things were ok and found the glider hanging off the dock in the water.   It was all I could do to get it back on the dock and tied up.   At least I thought it was tied up but about 30 minutes later, back in the drink.   Retrieved it again and really secured it this time.   I decided to paint the new picnic table with a clear preservative.  With the cooler temps, lower humidity and wind I figured it would cure quickly.  It did.   I ended up using a full quart – along with the top side of the new table, got an old picnic table, and the Adirondack chair.   I’ll probably get another quart and do the underside of all those and the glider – if it behaves and stays on the dock.  I also painted another old picnic table – bright red – and a final coat on the old metal dock chairs.   Good as new.

Nancy’s cousin, Peter Ronca, and his wife are about to start a cross country vacation trip in their giant motor home.  They’re scheduled here the end of April and have reservations on Beverly Beach about a half mile from where we used to spend our beach weeks.  It’s great surf fishing there and I’m guessing that Peter would love to try it so I decided to break out another couple of my surf fishing outfits for them to borrow.    I hadn’t used either in several years so decided it made sense to check them out.   No matter how you clean off gear that’s been used on the beach, it’s never quite enough and it’s almost expected that when you don’t use them occasionally, they can be cranky getting started.   These two were locked up solid.   I almost gave up on them a couple times but in a couple of hours they were humming.   Nothing is ever easy!   I used to be able to fix reels easily but that’s when I could see much better and my fingers were better connected to my brain. 

New Venues

Mark and Joey came up Friday and we attacked the dock again – power washing, replacing rotting wood, and generally getting it ready for summer use which included assembling a new picnic table I’d bought on sale a few years ago.  It had been quite a while since it was thoroughly attacked so it was a multi day event.   I have a little more cleaning and painting to do and Mark has a little more carpentry but it’s close to perfect now.   Nancy has not been down to the dock in quite a while so I decided to set up a “picnic” to reintroduce her to the potential.   She was properly impressed with the results and I think we may repeat the picnic experience in the future.   Seems that there’s always a nice breeze off the lake and about 10 degrees cooler than up at the house so it just makes sense.   Sort of like eating lunch at the Funky Pelican or Hidden Treasure.  Even carried a few craft beers down just in case.  

Another Tuesday, another bridge game and surf fishing event.   I dropped Nancy along with a large load of greens from the garden at the Bridge game and headed off to the surf.   The conditions were near perfect – beach not crowded, light wave and current action, light breeze from the NE.    The only problem was that the fish weren’t biting – at all.  I gave it two hours then headed to get my chores done – that meant Home Depot to pick up a few things for the dock, Aldi’s for pizza shells (Artisan Flat Bread), and Houligan’s for a brewski.  The last time I went to Houligan’s I was a total stranger -not one of the folks I had shared stories with for a couple of years was there.   This time a couple of familiar faces turned up so we had year’s worth of catching up to do.  I left there about a half hour earlier than usual to hit Home Depot.   The dock restoration project is winding down and I’m into some dock furniture painting.  That will keep me busy for the rest of the week – squeezing in Nancy’s pre-op Covid testing (she tested negative) and her ear operation along the way.   She has a small melanoma that is worth getting rid of and that happens Friday.

The other newsworthy items is that we hit the new, Palm Coast Culver’s for our after bridge treat and the new Daytona Buc-ee’s.   Both new venues were jammed, especially Buc-ee’s.   For those who don’t know, Buc-ee’s is a way oversized gas station and convenience store.   The gas station features 104 pumps, priced $0.40 under the local prices.  The C-store is 50,000+ SF, larger than most Publix’s.   They have some really unusual items in the C-store featuring freshly prepared barbecue – think Texas brisket; a large bakery with all manor of breads and goodies, a full wall of jerky, a full wall of popcorn, nuts, and wild munchies.   Way too much to describe – you pretty much have to experience it to appreciate the scope of it.   It was way, way too crowded to fully get the scope of it but I’m sure we’ll schedule the next visit outside of prime time.  The one disappointment was that the food is only takeout with no place to sit down and eat – inside or out.