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. 

More changes to deal with

Great day.    It’s Tuesday aka Palm Coast bridge day.   I dropped her off and headed for the beach to see what the surf conditions would be.   It’s been cold, rainy, and worst of all windy for the past few days and I had my doubts about the fishing prospects.   Sure enough the waves were large and the water mass was strongly moving south along the coast.  I tried a 4 oz pyramid sinker – just about the largest I can handle with the length of cast required.  It simply couldn’t hold and quickly washed up on the shore a couple hundred feet south.   I tried for about a half hour and finally just gave it up – not  bite.  

 It was too early to convert the afternoon to a brewery day so I drove to the European Village in Palm Coast and decided to hike the path alongside the intracoastal.   I reversed directions from my usual trek and started under the beach bridge and walked south to the Waterfront Park.   It’s 1.5 miles one way, about 40  minutes for me, and I used to routinely make the round trip walk with a stop for a brewski.   Starting at the bridge gave me a 3 mile, non stop hike.   I wasn’t sure I was up to that much walking but decided to give it a shot.   Surprisingly there were quite a few hikers and bikers – way more than I used to encounter last year.  In the past, I could walk the whole path and maybe see 3 or 4 people, hiking or biking.  Now, I encountered people every 50’ or so.  Must be the crowd that used to inhabit shopping centers.   I started running out of gas about half way thru the return trip but pushed thru.  Going to be sore tomorrow.  

Last year at European Village I had a choice between Moonrise Brewery and Farley’s Irish Pub.   The gal behind the bar at Farley’s was my biggest customer for garden greens so I never had to pay for  cold brew there.  Alas – Farley’s was gone.  No doubt a victim of the Covids.   Moonrise was still operating so all was not lost.   I did my customery one beer and headed back to the bridge club to get Nancy.   We decided to stop at a little roadside eatery we’d frequented for years and was from all appearances was nearly ready to collapse.   But somehow over the past year it has become a cult favorite and you have to stand in line 15 minutes to get to order.   They make one of the best fish sandwiches around and we have to struggle to each eat only a half of a sandwich.  I guarantee if you didn’t know about the place, there’s no way you would ever stop there and even if you stopped, it would be tough to bring yourself to eat there.   But the word is out.

So lots of changes in the past year.

Made another incredible salad directly from the garden.  3 different types of lettuce plus swiss chard and turnip greens for the green portion.  Then the roots – radish, turnip, and onion and finally the tomato.   All soaked in Garlic Expressions dressing.   I try to slip in something new each time and see if Nancy spots it.  The turnip greens are the guest ingredient this time.

Back in the Groove

The bridge game went just fine and Nancy came out in the middle of the pack.   There were 7 or 8 tables so it was a decent size game.  The games are scheduled for  Tuesdays and Wednesdays only at this time as compared to 7 days a week pre-Covid an Nancy has partners now for both days.  She was concerned that nobody would want to partner up with her but that was put to bed quickly.   She used to play on Monday’s and Friday’s and would rather have those days open again but until then…………

While she was playing, I went to the beach to play surf fishing.   I was surprised at how crowded the beach was but it is Spring Break and lots of good fishing areas were full of kids playing in the surf.   I found a spot among several multi-rod fisherman and set up.   The surf was a little heavier than ideal but still very fishable.    No problems with my gear and within a few minutes was laying  out 50-60 yard casts.   I ended up catching 3 small whiting – topping off a great day at the beach.

I had an errand to run at Home Depot which just happens to be across the parking lot from my go-to Houligans.    There I found absolutely no one I knew – staff or customers.  So that was a bummer.   This was a Tuesday and my normal day there was Monday so that probably explains some of it.  My next trip over is next Tuesday and I’ll try my European Village haunts – the Irish pub and Moonrise brewery.   It’ll probably take a few weeks to get all the kinks worked out of our new social schedule.  I’m also thinking that the bridge club will add more days in a few months if these games go well.  

Garden news – starting to pick turnips.   Wish I knew someone who ate the greens.  I’ve never had luck with them before and tried a new variety just for a last attempt.   I’ll start picking them as soon as Nancy schedules them  into a meal.  It’s also looking like a bumper crop of tomatoes starting early April and Bell peppers.   100% of both crops made it thru the colder than usual winter and the bushes are loaded with tiny fruit and blossoms.

More Projects

Mark and I worked on the pump down at the dock and got it working again.   Pretty sure the problem was the work of mud dobbers/wasps who had crawled upside and froze the impeller blades on the cooling fan.  It had been unused for at least a year and the critters are unrelenting.    After cleaning that out, it started right up.   Didn’t even need priming which meant the stop valve and pressure switch were still working and means I can now clean fish down at the dock and pressure wash the dock.   Nancy’s not wild about me cleaning fish in the house.   

Another big project nominally completed this past week was cleaning off the mildew/fungus/grunge that has been growing profusely (for 15+ years) on all three of out sheds.   It was a much bigger job than I had anticipated and requiring hand scrubbing each square inch with bleach.   I could do about an hour’s worth each day before my arms gave out.  The first time I wasn’t wearing rubber gloves and suffered burns for a week afterwards.   By the time I was done, one pair of pants and a heavy duty flannel pull over shirt were (from my Utah days) converted to future work clothes.   

Cleaned out a row in the garden that was pretty much played out and replanted with green bean seeds.   I put in 3 x 10’ rows.   The seed was less than a year old so should germinate just fine.  As soon as these germinate and put on a set of real leaves, I’ll plant another patch about the same size.  Also started picking turnips.   In the past I’ve never had luck but this crop seems perfect.  I don’t know anybody that eats turnip greens and hate to just toss them in the compost pile but…………

Next job checked off the list is power washing the dock.   It’s been a couple of years and one section was really nasty.   There’s no down spout from the roof gutter so every time it rains, that piece of the dock gets wet.  We’re (Mark) is going to add the downspout so I decided to kick off the project with a thorough cleaning.   Lots of electrical problems between the water pump and power washer but finally got it done with only a few breaker pops.  It took a few hours but it looks pretty good. 

And the really big event – they decided to restart the Palm Coast bridge game and we’re on our way.   Maybe a resumption of the good life.   She’ll play bridge to her hearts content and I’ll go surf fishing for a few hours.  Then we’ll hit the local brewery on the way home for a finisher.  I’ve got my fingers crossed that the whole thing comes off flawlessly.  She’s a little nervous that her playing will have suffered during the break but I’m fairly confident that she’ll do just fine. 

More Projects

Mark and I worked on the pump down at the dock and got it working again.   Pretty sure the problem was the work of mud dobbers/wasps who had crawled upside and froze the impeller blades on the cooling fan.  It had been unused for at least a year and the critters are unrelenting.    After cleaning that out, it started right up.   Didn’t even need priming which meant the stop valve and pressure switch were still working and means I can now clean fish down at the dock and pressure wash the dock.   Nancy’s not wild about me cleaning fish in the house.   

Another big project nominally completed this past week was cleaning off the mildew/fungus/grunge that has been growing profusely (for 15+ years) on all three of out sheds.   It was a much bigger job than I had anticipated and requiring hand scrubbing each square inch with bleach.   I could do about an hour’s worth each day before my arms gave out.  The first time I wasn’t wearing rubber gloves and suffered burns for a week afterwards.   By the time I was done, one pair of pants and a heavy duty flannel pull over shirt were (from my Utah days) converted to future work clothes.   

Cleaned out a row in the garden that was pretty much played out and replanted with green bean seeds.   I put in 3 x 10’ rows.   The seed was less than a year old so should germinate just fine.  As soon as these germinate and put on a set of real leaves, I’ll plant another patch about the same size.  Also started picking turnips.   In the past I’ve never had luck but this crop seems perfect.  I don’t know anybody that eats turnip greens and hate to just toss them in the compost pile but…………

Next job checked off the list is power washing the dock.   It’s been a couple of years and one section was really nasty.   There’s no down spout from the roof gutter so every time it rains, that piece of the dock gets wet.  We’re (Mark) is going to add the downspout so I decided to kick off the project with a thorough cleaning.   Lots of electrical problems between the water pump and power washer but finally got it done with only a few breaker pops.  It took a few hours but it looks pretty good. 

And the really big event – they decided to restart the Palm Coast bridge game and we’re on our way.   Maybe a resumption of the good life.   She’ll play bridge to her hearts content and I’ll go surf fishing for a few hours.  Then we’ll hit the local brewery on the way home for a finisher.  I’ve got my fingers crossed that the whole thing comes off flawlessly.  She’s a little nervous that her playing will have suffered during the break but I’m fairly confident that she’ll do just fine. 

Busy week

This was a busy week.   Had Stanley Steemer come in and do the floors – tile and carpet.   Also the Oriental rug and the tile in the showers.  They cleaned and resealed the grout on the floors.  What a difference.  It’s only been 20 years since it all was first installed so I guess over the years it had gradually “aged”.    

While we were at it, we had noticed a gurgling sound in the kitchen sink when the bath tub was draining so I got concerned that the septic tank was signaling that it needed service.   We never had a backup but also had never had the tank serviced since installation – 20 years ago.   I know that we opted for an oversized tank when it was originally installed, don’t have a garbage disposal unit – classically a problem with epic tanks – and that Nancy has been semi religious about adding a monthly dose of yeast  but since the recommended service period for a clean-out is 3-5 years, my gut told me we needed to brace ourselves and get it done.   Tom and I messed around with a clean-out snake but didn’t come across any blockage and had no impact on the slow draining.  

When the service truck arrived, it was a bit taller than the trees hanging over the driveway would permit.  Bad start.   The service guy was prepared for such an event and had a battery powered saw to cut away brush in the way.   Battery was dead so I broke out my chain saw and cut off the offensive branches.   I’m thinking this is not going smoothly but let’s get on with it.     He found the tank and pulled the lid with zero problem and pronounced the tank didn’t look too bad.   It was nearly full of solid material but he said he had encountered much worse.   Within about 20 minutes he had totally drained the tank, flushed it out using all our water sources in the house – flushed the toilets, ran the sinks etc and found no internal blockages at all.  Mission accomplished.  I asked the serviceman about using yeast or Riddex and he recommended the yeast as actually better for the tank than Riddex and much cheaper.   I think the 3-5 year maintenance cycle would really apply to house with a large population – two old citizens just don’t tax the system.   I also suspect Nancy’s diligent use of yeast was a big plus.  She changes the A/C filter and the yeast at the same time, once a month.

We capped the week off with a trip to Nancy’s oncologist/surgeon to get the low down on her melanoma (which seems to be of the mildest variety), a stop at her hair dresser’s for a quick do, and then lunch at the half wall with a glass of blueberry wheat brew.  The melanoma was found by the dermatologist at a routine, six month checkup a couple of weeks ago.  They had a genetic test performed on the biopsy  which rated it as the weakest, least likely to spread type.  But it still should be surgically removed.  The oncologist was quite certain that minor surgery would remove the affected area with near zero chance of any spread.  We’ll schedule to get it done sometime in the next few weeks.

Resuming

Time to restart posting to the blog.    There’s been nothing of interest going on since the feared and dreaded Covid’s attacked.   But with the introduction of the vaccine, things seem to be brightening quickly in Florida.  We got the second shot two weeks ago so we’re good to go!

My signal that things are almost back on track is that both Nancy’s bridge games, the one in Crescent City and the one’s in Palm Coast are restarting on a limited basis.   That means a restart of our social life – my surf fishing and brewery inspections and Nancy’s fun and games.  Last week our March calendar was empty but now it’s brimming over with events and we’re starting to run into scheduling conflicts.   Many of the events are still doctor visits but even so – the juggling has begun.

A couple of big news events since this time last year.   Simon and Amy are expecting – meaning we could become great grandparents.   Aaron and Kayla are likewise expecting, I think within a month of Amy.    That will make us great great Aunt and Uncle again.   Olivia is blasting thru PA school in Knoxville TN in top of the class fashion.   We even call her now and again for medical consults.  Chris and Vic bought a home in Chester NJ.   It’s surprisingly rural on a big piece of property including a pond.  They have a steady stream of deer visiting so you know it’s out there.  I’m guessing wild ducks will be visiting the pond when it thaws.  

On the potentially negative side, Barbara next door has put her place up for sale.  Since my garden is on her property, that could signal the end of the garden for me.   I took a chance that it wouldn’t sell quickly and went ahead with planting a fall – winter garden but not sure if it makes sense to move forward with a summer garden.  She says she tells all prospective buyers that it’s a package deal – comes with a share cropper neighbor – but…….   I personally think she has it priced too high to sell and she says she’s not lowering it so…………  I’ll have to make up my mind by the end of next month whether to plant a summer garden or just forget it.   Another low risk option is to plant the whole garden in corn.  I’ve not had much luck with corn before but if I do the whole garden in that crop, it will require very little attention and give me a little leverage dealing with a new neighbor.  

Be that as it may, I still spend a good deal of time with the garden.   We’ve had a fairly cold winter (so much for global warming) and had to completely  cover the garden 5 times.   Normally I have to do that once or twice.   Most times before a cold front moves in, it rains and gets windy so covering the 1200 SF garden in a gale is tricky going.   But I managed it and actually experienced not too much loss.   So entering March we’re harvesting a bonus crop.  The greens are doing exceptionally well.  That would include swiss chard, kale, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and collards.   Plenty of lettuce, carrots, radishes and, this year, turnips.  This should continue thru April.   Normally I give away more than half of the crop to Nancy’s bridge ladies or her crochet group.   Since they’ve been shut down and my other customer at the Irish Pub in Palm coast closed also – I have an excess that can be overwhelming.   So we’ve tried many new recipes to deal with the surplus.   Two pasta recipes are great because they use a load of greens and are delicious – a cabbage pasta and a swiss chard pasta.   On the surface that may not sound that great but trust me, they’re incredible.    

Another plus during this boring period has been the quality of the spec fishing in the lake.   It’s been consistent enough that if Nancy wants fish for supper, I can go out and fill the order – usually in less than an hour.  March is usually a switch month where the fishing focus switches from spec’s to bass.   I’m ready.  I’m also ready to hit the surf again.  This is the start of bluefish season on Flagler Beach.

The last good thing from all this lockdown – we’ve had more communication with our kids than before.   We have almost daily conversations with all three.   Tom and Joey usually come up to the lake on the weekend to help around the house and take Nancy shopping.   I just can’t get my arms around shopping trips!!