Easter Prep

This was a busy week. We’re sandwiching physical therapy for Nancy twice a week into our otherwise tight schedule. Between doc’s and bridge – not much real slack time. This week was a bit complicated at the end because of a major storm front moving through on Friday. Nancy’s bridge partner decided we should move the Friday game to Thursday to avoid the storm – turned out to be a good decision. We lost power for a few hours and the driveway was littered with large downed branches. It would have been nasty driving in the rain and then encountering the obstacles on the driveway.

Doing Easter this year at Tom and Tina’s. The head count is now at 12 including friends and family. We’re bring the salads which includes copper penny salad, a carrot based salad; Dutch coleslaw which, in my version, includes two varieties of cabbage, green pepper, and shredded carrots; broccoli, cheddar and bacon salad; macaroni salad. All of these incorporate fresh veggies (as in minutes from garden to kitchen) material from the garden. I think the only item we didn’t grow was the macaroni – still looking for a macaroni plant. We had a busy Saturday making all this – peeling, shredding, mixing – since they require overnight marination for best flavor.

I casually asked Nancy if she thought this wedding thing was a coat and tie deal and she surprised me by saying “of course it is” Oops. I haven’t been to a coat kind of thing in a very, very long time and I kind of doubted I had anything that came close to fitting. The only thing that could save me is that I had bought formal business clothes about 30 years ago on several different occasions in Hong Kong so there was a reasonable chance they covered a range of sizes. Sure enough I found a suit jacket that would work and luckily it was a neutral color. I also found a couple pair of slacks that could probably be tailored to take out a few inches in the waist. I did find a dark pinstripe suit that fits fairly well but wouldn’t work in the wedding environment. I think I last wore it at a funeral 15 years ago.


Fashion Issue

I took a walk on the wild side in the garden. Cleaned out a row of broccoli which left me with a 12’x4’ row ready to plant. I had plenty of small tomato seedlings looking for a home in the garden. Nothing wild about that but I decided to center the tomato plants in the row, 3’ apart and then at the edges of the row plant a row of green beans on one edge and a row of carrots on the other. Like a vegetable border. I’ve never planted carrots this late in the season but I have the seeds and the space so why not give it a try. Supposedly planting carrots and tomatoes together is a good thing for both in terms of soil nutrients I’m just not sure they can handle the spring/summer heat. Decisions, decisions, decisions.

I now have 8 tomato plants in the garden, 8 ready to go to the garden and 5 in large containers. The container tomatoes are varieties that can’t handle nematodes. I think we’re well covered with tomatoes this year. I probably should have cut way back since the freezer is over flowing with tomato sauce from this past season. If this last season is any indicator, I should have cut back on everything. We’ve been in veggie overload mode for the last couple of months and with George out of the picture, my biggest customer is gone. Ditto Nancy’s Crescent City bridge ladies since she dropped out of the Wednesday club. Funny the Crescent City ladies are all cooks that love fresh veggies – country girls – whereas her Palm Coast associates are wealthy city gals who wouldn’t know how to make a pot of greens if they had to. The crochet ladies are in between but there’s fewer of them and she only meets with them every other week, not enough to keep up with normal growth. Oh well, their loss is the compost pile’s gain.

It’s blueberry season again. Last year we bought 20 pounds which I guessed would last me a year. I nominally eat a handful every morning in my cereal and maybe sprinkle a few now and then in a cake or bread Nancy makes. My guess was close so there’s maybe 4-5 pounds still in the freezer. I called our blueberry guy in Crescent City and he said they were excellent this year. So I ordered 15 pounds. They’re $4 a pound if I pick them or $5 if they pick them. I opted for “them pick” instead of “you pick”.

Remember I mentioned having a baby pineapple on the way – update – make that 5.

I have a bit of a fashion quandary. Is it OK to wear a Guy Harvey shirt with a largemouth bass when surf fishing or do I need to have a saltwater fish? I’m mostly concerned about the impact on the fish rather than on the other fishermen and beach goers. I don’t think Guy has produced a Whiting or pompano shirt which are the fish I mostly catch but I have a redfish, a snook, and several deep sea versions. Catfish or shark would surely send the wrong message to both the fish and the beach denizens plus I doubt those are on the drawing board at Harvey headquarters.

New Place

I found a great application on my Mac. It’s been there for years but I never had an idea what it was or how useful. For those of you with Mac’s, it’s a symbol – horizontal lines – up in the right corner of the screen. Somehow I accidentally clicked it and as if by magic a partial screen appeared that had stock market info, weather info, and appointments that I’ve put into the calendar app. It even tells me what I have scheduled for tomorrow. The weather info gives me the current temps at any place I’ve loaded so I can monitor the temps in NY, Ala, Salt Lake, Chicago and LA at any given time. I look these up in the paper every morning but this is better because it’s in real time.  Nice job Apple.

The weather was marginal and the tides wrong this past Friday so I went back to the Waterfront Park walk to the Moonrise Brewery in Palm Coast. That’s about 1.5 miles each way so it’s a nice workup to the libation. Problem was that when I got to Moonrise, it was closed for a private event. Bummer but it gave me an opportunity to try a place a few hundred feet away called Farety’s Irish Pub. I had passed by Farety’s before because I like the craft beer opportunities at Moonrise but there really weren’t any good options so I gave it a try. Good selection of draft beer, friendly older people – I was amongst the youngest – a friendly bartender, and free clam chowder. I’m not a clam chowder person but I could tell by the reaction of other visitors that it was excellent. Maybe I’ll take Nancy since she’s the clam chowder lover. Anyway, I now have another option on Monday when Moonrise is normally closed.

This Boeing problem is exactly the problem I worry about with computer controlled cars. How does the car respond to a random sensor or combination of sensors when the sensor malfunctions? Think about all the sensor data that must be pouring into the car’s (or plane’s) CPU and then think about the programmers who wrote the code that tries to differentiate between real data and fake data from a sensor not working correctly. The old “garbage in, garbage out” quandary. But it’s happening at highway speeds on overcrowded roads. At least with planes, the pilots are trained on simulators and can nominally take over quickly. Not the case on the highway. And with planes, most of the time it’s all by itself up in the air – not with other planes a few feet away moving at the same high speed. So far it seems planes have minutes to figure something out but in a car at highway speed………………. And even if your car is performing perfectly – what about the car beside/ in front of/behind you?

The garden is at peak right now in terms of output. We literally can’t give it away fast enough to keep up. All of the winter stuff (except for the spinach which cratered last week) is peaking while the zucchini, eggplant and green peppers are popping out new produce daily. Just how much cabbage and broccoli can a guy eat? Ditto carrots and beets. The tomatoes are mostly done but even with them, I can pick a couple a day.

March was a busy month

I made an incredible pizza last night. The toppings were cherry tomatoes, green pepper, onion, garlic and swiss chard marinated for a few hours in olive oil. Used a hearty 5 grain crust coated lightly with Nancy’s pasta sauce, a few sprinkles of cheeses and then the toppings. All of that topped with Mozzarella and then, off to the Holland grill. This finishes off the cherry tomatoes for the season but the new ones are nearly ready to make the move to the garden. Also in garden news – the first zucchini is on the vine and will probably be on the table before March is over. (do I see a zucchini pizza in our future/) That’s the earliest we’ve ever had squash and I attribute that to the weather and planting the seeds much earlier than usual. We keep getting cold snaps down into the 40’s and I’m convinced that keeps the insect hatches way down – apparently including those that normally attack the zucchini.

I’m fairly well finished with the spring jungle cleanup . As part of the project I decided to redo the clothesline. I needed about 10’ more linear space and I could see where I could get it by cutting off a few tree branches and changing the path a little. The old line – probably over 10 years old – was getting stretched out and sagged deeply when I loaded it up with wet sheets. I did the tree work first and restrung the old line just to see if I really picked up as much as I thought. Perfect. Now I need to pick up some wire core line to restring it.

Glad this week is over. We had meetings with lawyers, accountants, and doctors. Topped off by a visit to the car dealer to get a “check engine” light taken care of. Interestingly, with Onstar they send an email telling you that you have a problem. When I read it, something about the emission system, I hadn’t noticed the check engine light and thought they had made a mistake. I went out and cranked it up and sure enough the light was on. Not nearly enough fishing, walking, or brew time. Right now April looks fairly clear for me – a little more activity for Nancy but still much better than March.

My New Clippers

The corn beef and cabbage was particularly great this year. The cabbage (Early Jersey Wakefield) and the carrots (Yaya) were only minutes from garden to pot so they couldn’t have been fresher. After a hot week where stuff started bolting, it’s cooled off and probably gives us another couple weeks to pick greens, cabbage and most other winter veggies. Nancy dropped the Crescent City bridge game which has impacted the garden. Every Wednesday morning I’d pick large bags of greens – collards, swiss chard, kale, lettuce – for the ladies in the club. I planted plenty knowing that would be a consistent demand. Now, my customer base has shrunk. George loved the veggies but Barbara, not so much. So I’m really in an overload mode and probably should cut back on the planting. Problem with that is the soil is so fertile that any spot not occupied by a plant is quickly populated with weeds. Nancy’s crochet ladies may pick up some of the slack but it’s a small group.

Tom and Tina spent last week in Europe – as tourists. They brought us some pasta from Italy which will be starting on the table tonight. We’re really becoming pasta nazi’s and try new brands and styles regularly. The one’s they brought are completely new to us. The danger is that we fall in love with one and can’t ever find it again.

Doing my bi- annual jungle cleanout which occurs now and again in November when it’s cool and when the wasps aren’t nesting in the palmettos. I widen all the paths and driveways, taking a few days to complete. And especially down at the lake. I started and was having some difficulty cutting with my old clippers. These were cheap junky ones to start with – I think I paid about $4 for them at a Dollar store – but I keep sharpening and oiling them so they get the job done albeit with much cursing. I have a propensity to lose clippers so it doesn’t cause heartburn when they’re junky. About 2 or 3 years ago Joey bought me a pair of really high class super trimmers but I put them away as just too good to use/lose. Yeah I know – that’s stupid. The old one’s were giving me fits so I decided to bite the bullet and break out the high class model. Wow, double Wow! They cut through everything with minimal effort on my part. After trimming with the old ones for a half hour, my hand was sore but not now. Thanks Joey.

Getting another Petscan tomorrow. Hope it turns out better than the last one.

George’s Memorial Party

Today had some highs and some lows. I had an MRI scheduled at an imaging center in Palm Coast so the plan was to visit Wilma then get the MRI followed by introducing Nancy to my regular Friday afternoons. That means taking her to Waterfront Park and then to Moonrise brewery in the European Village. We’d then cap it off with a trip to Sky Jacker’s for the boiled shrimp special. Started out ok but hit a bump in the road with my MRI. It’s a test where I’m injected with some special brew and then scanned for 20 minutes or so while remaining totally motionless. They installed an injection port with no apparent problem and then injected the juice. Very painful which the gal told me probably meant it wasn’t going to work. In other words she missed the vein and tapped into something else. But you can’t tell and the test, once started, can’t be stopped. Apparently the stuff injected is time sensitive and very expensive. At the end of the test they warned me that they wouldn’t know for a few hours but the likelihood was that I would have to do it again. That was the bad part. We then headed over to waterfront park and on to Moonrise. That was certainly an uptick. As was the shrimp and Yeungling at Sky Jacker’s. I’m supposed to get a call from the hospital after they’ve analyzed the results of the MRI but they’re pretty sure we’re going have to do it again. Bummer.

George’s memorial happened on Saturday. It was a nice crowd – maybe 50 people – in an interesting mix of Churchy folks and bikers. The churchers’ outnumbered the bikers so it was a coke and water event – no alcohol. Our local barbecue roadside guy catered it (as he’s done for several of our gatherings over the years) with ribs, chicken, pulled pork, beans and coleslaw plus about half the attendees brought dishes. We knew about half the people and got to meet several new ones including George’s cousin Teresa who has macular on the same scale as Nancy’s so those two hit it off real well. I actually got up the courage to say a few words to the crowd. I guess I did ok since nobody booed or thru tomatoes. Interestingly, the garden turned out to be a big attraction with lots of oohs and aahs and good questions. Several claimed to have given up trying and couldn’t believe what they were seeing. I’ll have to admit that it looks about as good as it possibly could and I’m glad I took a few hours last week and pulled weeds.

One of my oldest pineapple plants is “with child”. It’s one I planted in a large container a few years back and has produced offspring before. I suspect it’ll be on the table near the end of April.  Just like I’m surprised that we’re making another large pot of tomato sauce this late in the season.   The tomatoes just keep coming.

Cleaning the Driveway

About this time of year, the oak trees lose all their leaves and start pollinating.   Actually this year it all happened early and our driveway was inches deep in leaves.   The driveway is a couple hundred feet long and 8’ wide and the leaves were inches deep this year.   If you clear it too soon, you just have to repeat the process several times throughout the season so I usually wait until I’m sure the leaves have all fallen before taking action.  Actually I usually wait for Joey to come up with his high velocity blower and let him deal with it but he’s been too busy traveling this season so I decided to do it myself.  Also weeds had started growing under the leaves so the driveway needed both a good blowing and application of a herbicide.   All in all it took about 3 hours but it’s done.   The other driving force for getting it done was that Nancy can move the cars in the driveway if she can see it better – oak leaves blur her view.   So why do I want her to drive?  Remember I mentioned pollination – even with the cars in the carport about halfway up the driveway, they become quickly coated with pollen making it really hard to see out the windows and especially difficult to deal with when damp.   So before we take off in a car, it has to be hosed off.  That’s where Nancy comes in.   She’s legally blind and with no drivers license but she was confident she could drive the car down the driveway while I sprayed it.   I did a large trim job on all the brush along side the driveway to make it as wide as possible and then gave her the keys.   Worked perfectly.  

Can’t wait for the change to daylight savings time.  Works much better for my fishing in the lake.   I can fish at day break without getting up so early and can go out after dinner and still have plenty of daylight for a couple hours on the lake.   Florida is making noises about staying on it permanently which works for me.   

Got seedlings started for all the summer crop so now just waiting for garden space as the winter crops are harvested.  The only stuff that’s done for the year is the broccoli, lettuce and spinach. Still have lots of cabbage, kale, and Swiss chardf.   The way the weather shaped up this year, I still have quite a load in the garden -including last year’s summer stuff – tomatoes, green peppers, and egg plants.   I’ve never had those last so long and still producing.  They’ve been putting out goodies since last June and there are still new blossoms coming on.   Normally they give up the ghost in November but for some reason, these annuals are behaving like perennials.   I also have a few zucchini’s bushes out there, earlier than normal.   Every year is different.

Olivia seems to be having a great time in Guatemala with her language studies and Tom/Tina are touring  Europe. With stops in the Netherlands, Italy, and Switzerland.   And Chris just got a promotion in the job he’s only had since November.