Some things are coming back to normal. A good number of restaurants are now open with pubs soon to follow. Most retailers seem open to some extent and we’re starting to see traffic picking back up. Today we had lunch at a restaurant/brewery in Deland – The Half Wall. We hadn’t been there for several months and decided to give it a try again since they had plenty of outdoor seating. I popped my head in the door and spotted people holding brewski’s which I thought had been outlawed. Turns out that bars, per se, are not allowed to open but restaurants can serve and offer beer. We checked into Persimmon Hollow and found that they can serve a beer but you have to consume it outside. Not a giant problem since there are several alley’s with tables and canopies. So between Half Wall, Persimmon Hollow, and the Elusive grape – plenty of libation opportunities.
Breaking news – Persimmon Hollow is now officially open for business. Turns out the taco place across the road is owned by the same people that own the Hollow. When last we checked, the Hollow was classified only as a brewery and you had to go there to get a take out brew then eat it at the taco place. Now, as before all this nonsense, they reclassified Persimmon Hollow as a restaurant with bar so all of a sudden it’s back to normal. You don’t have to actually order food from outside Just the fact of the reclassification does the job. Also our favorite Greek restaurant, Santorini’s is also now open so I think everywhere we could go before, is back in business. I check Moonrise at Palm Coast and they to are back to normal. What more could a guy want.
But all’s not back to normal, alas. It took several hours to get a simple blood draw in prep for a visit with the doc for a routine annual checkup. I am right at the point that says I’m giving up totally on going to doctors for routine checkups. It’s just too much of a hassle. If something goes wrong, then I’ll call them but other than that – leave well enough alone. My bride is not necessarily onboard the program but…………
I have a need for a new product – an iPad accessory. Maybe it already exists but I haven’t heard of it. I need an index finger extender – a product to overcome fat finger syndrome. It has to be made of material that simulates a finger but be tapered into nearly a point. It might be nice to have it extendable so my whole hand would be farther from the touch screen – I think a 4-6” extension would be adequate. My Sudoko app is more of a physical challenge than a mental challenge. I know the digit is supposed to go into a particular spot but hitting that spot with my finger is hit and miss proposition. I just as often hit two spots or an adjacent spot as hitting the target. Getting better though! Nancy’s actually using the iPad more than me. She converses with “Siri” frequently. I think her favorite is having Siri set a timer for her although she gets a weather check a couple times a day too.
Starting to get in some quality fishing time now that the sun’s up so early and it’s nice and warm. I can get up, hit the lake, and be back home before Nancy wakes up. The poke boat is still the vessel of choice. It’s just soooo quiet and easy to handle. Tom left his fly rod at the lake so I’m making sure it doesn’t get rusty or forget how to perform. So far this week the score is squarely in the court of the fish. I’m getting a few swirls and boils but nothing worthy of the stringer. What I want is a 3-4 pound bass that will fillet up for a couple of meals.
Made an awesome pizza today. Used a fresh Publics bakery shell, a pint of Nancy’s famous tomato sauce, misc cheeses including fresh mozzarella, sausage and pepperoni, and my incredible new kale variety. Hard to believe that the kale is holding up so well this late in the season – soft, tender, and no bitterness at all. I’ve had some difficulty in the past with the shell sticking to the pan but this time I sprinkled the bottom of the cooking sheet with corn meal and that did the trick. Twenty minutes on the Holland does the job – a nice crispy crust.
The gov moved us to a phase 1 thingy which basically means lots of restaurants and retail stores are open on a limited basis. Based on the increase in traffic on the road, it must be getting people moving again. Most of the beaches are now open and people seem to be dealing with it in a rational fashion. All we need is the bridge club to get back in business!!!!!
I was so bored today I mowed the lawn. And then cut palm fronds. And then chemically treated -Roundup- the driveway for weeds.
But today we had some excitement/entertainment. My neighbor Barbara had a large oak tree die up near the county road. She called the power company to see if they’d take it down and they declined – not their problem. She then asked the County and they agree to check it out. They were there the next day with 5 trucks – including a cherry picker, a pickup clam device and 3 dump trucks to carry away the debris. It took them better part of an hour to get it down and carried away and for us it was like being at a sporting event.
Big test coming up. I had a regular doctor’s appointment coming up on the 28th but hadn’t heard anything confirming the appointment (they usually do). I thought maybe the office was closed or something and called to confirm that it was still on. The office confirmed that the appointment was still on but not at the office – rather a tele kind of event. Aka – a Facetime meeting. I went into a swift mental dive with the prospect of a scheduled event with the iPad and some non-family type on the other end. The nurse sensed my panic and said she’d walk me thru it. And she did. They sent me an email which I had to read on the iPad, something I don’t regularly do. The email had a link to select and (I guess) that connects me to the doc on the other end.
It worked. No technical problems at all. I’m getting better with the iPad. My problem is with the sensitivity of the touch screen and my random twitches – each of which causes the iPad to do something different. I have a Sudoko program which requires a fair amount of screen touching and that’s helping me refine my touch. Ditto trying to stop and start downloaded TV shows; ditto trying to use google maps to navigate on a trip. I love what it can do but frustrated with my clumsy fingers. Hopefully it will get better or I’ll have to run my fingers through a pencil sharpener.
The project du jour is freezing carrots. Carrots are not normally a strong crop for me but this year, for whatever reason, all the seeds I planted and the plants I thinned and replanted survived. So we ended up with hundreds of carrots. We use the most by shredding and making carrot salad but almost any other way you can deal with them is on our radar. One of our favorites is to add shredded carrots to pasta sauce. Sounds weird but very tasty. And this is the kind of project that works well in isolation – nothing better to do.
The project after the carrots is making our own hand sanitizer liquid. There was an article in the paper describing a method using aloe verde gel, isopropyl alcohol, and a few drops of essential oil or lemon juice. We have aloe plants growing all over the place with a couple really large ones in the garden. The ratio of aloe gel to alcohol is 1:4 with about 6 drops of lemon juice just in case you want to try it.
I’m gaining some level of confidence with the iPad and can now play sudoku or watch TV shows and movies that Tom has loaded. Before long I’ll be downloading new stuff myself. Right now I’m gaining confidence in my ability to use Google Maps to navigate. What I didn’t ever understand was that the “contact” application on my Mac was used in other applications such as google maps so I was quite sloppy in filling in the contact info. Because of that, I was unable to find addresses that were in the contact app – just incorrectly installed. I spent an hour or so yesterday going thru the Contacts to clean them up and get rid of contacts that no longer had any relevance. I’m going to try it out today letting the machine navigate us to Publix in Daytona. Of course we have a closer Publix but we’re in no rush and this lets me get some time messing with the maps app. And more time out and about. So this trip could be considered a
“double” essential – one to get food and one to get some experience with the iPad. And Nancy’s friend Esther bought her some quilting material the other day so we have to go by her house and pick it up. This will really give the navigator an essential test.
I didn’t check the list of “essentials”(as in essential to get out of the house and drive somewhere) but I’m pretty sure blueberries would be on the list. I figured if some over zealous cop pulled me over to find out why we were driving, anybody would classify a blueberry run as essential. I ran out in Feb so we’ve been without ever since. The blueberry farmer called today and said my order for 20 pounds was ready to go. The farm is in Crescent City, about 20 miles north of us and we were ready for a “road trip”. A friend of Nancy’s has a personal lending library in the town of Welaka – near Crescent City – and I had a large collection of books that I had no real need for so we took them up to her. Also one of Nancy’s bridge buddies who we usually provide with greens lives within a few miles so I picked a load of kale, chard, and collards for her. All in all it was a few hour trip just when we were going totally stir crazy.
We’re not supposed to drive unless it’s for something “essential”. It’s not obvious what’s essential – as an example the beaches are all closed except for “essentials”. Walking on the beach, swimming in the surf, or surf fishing are classified as essential. You just can’t put down a blanket or towel and lay on the beach. Luckily for Nancy, Hobby Lobby and Michaels got under the wire because they sell material to make face masks.
We actually ended up with 23 pounds of blueberries – he had over picked and I decided to just get the overage. Last year we bought 20 pounds and I ran out a month or so early so an extra 3 pounds should cover the shortage next year. The issue to be solved was how to get them into the already stuffed freezer. We package them in one pint zip lock bags and we deplete them at a rate of about 2 pints per month – 90% in my morning cereal and a few in the smoothies. Between freezing tomato sauce, stewed tomatoes, and greens the freezers are fairly full. We have 2 six cubic foot freezers plus the one in the fridge and at this point I’m not sure we could get another blueberry in but we did. Here’s an interesting piece of trivia – the blueberries took up 2 cubic feet in one of the freezers.
Seems like there’s a Press conference going on non-stop – the Pres, the Gov, the Mayor, the Chief of Police and misc doctors. The thing that jumps out at me are the signers who are passing on the speeches to the hearing impaired. I really find it almost impossible to believe that anyone can understand that or if they’re really signing what’s actually being said. I’d like to see a reverse test – have the signer give the speech and then have someone who understands it, vocalize. Or to have two signers, out of sight of each other, working simultaneously to see if they’re both doing the same thing. I’m most attracted to the facial expressions and body language. The person giving the speech or answering the question is doing it straight with no facial emotion whereas the signer is using really wild facial expressions and body movements.
One crop I haven’t mentioned in a while is the pineapple crop. I have about a dozen plants scattered about – all started by planting the top of a store bought pineapple. This is the first time I’ve been able to observe a pattern in the life cycle. There are 5 baby pineapples that have popped out of the mother plant in the past several weeks. So I now know that spring is the beginning of the cycle. My guess right now is these will be pickable in May. I don’t see any pattern in the size of the mother plant or the location in the garden but this is the first year that I’ve had multiple new starts at any particular time or season.
March has turned into summer with daily temps in the 90’s now. That’s playing hell with the green veggies so we’ve uptick’d the freezing project. This is the first time we’ve ever tried to extend the greens by freezing and I sure hope it works out as we’re visualizing. Yesterday was chard day; today is kale day. With this social isolation thing going on, I have plenty of time to weed and otherwise keep track of the garden. I’m more on top of it than ever before. For example I spotted the first New Zealand spinach sprout. This is a heat tolerant variety that is classified as an invasive species. I can for sure see why. I planted it once – seeds- several years ago and it quickly took over the garden. Since then I yank it whenever it pops up except for a couple plants that provide my green smoothie makings all summer long. It propagates itself by spreading branches that put out roots wherever it touches the soil and also by seeding.
Sure is nice driving around nowadays. Virtually no traffic and very cheap gas. I filled up yesterday at $1.80; 1 hour trips are taking 45 minutes. If only the pubs were open. Here’s how boring it is – I noted that a chain of car wash places is offering an unlimited car wash deal for $20/month. They have locations in Palm Coast, Daytona, Ormond and Port Orange – places we visit. I’m considering signing on just so we have a place to go. Now that’s desperation.
Observing isolation, more or less. Tom came by the other day and brought us his old I-phone that he had loaded with entertainment – movies and TV shows that we don’t have access to. He connected it to our TV and we now have literally hundreds of hours of new things to watch. I have some vision issues and fat fingers so operating the device can be a challenge but I’m getting better at it. Yesterday I was sitting at the computer when I heard an explosion not too far away that was followed, a few seconds later, with a power glitch. Not too unusual for here but a few seconds later there was a crash over by the TV. I had no idea what that could have been but spotted the phone on the floor, vibrating and buzzing. Apparently the power drop caused the iPhone to go into some vibrating mode that walked the device off the counter. I pushed lots of buttons but couldn’t get it off so I had to call Tom. He walked me thru a reset and it’s been working just fine ever since. One series he loaded on was one Nancy had been wanting to see – Mrs. Maisel – and she loved it. He also loaded several crime/detctive kinds of things for me.
We’re still getting loads of tomatoes from the garden but have enough sauce to last at least a year. Nancy decided to make (home made) stewed tomatoes with the latest batch. It occurred to us that neither one of us had ever had anything but canned stewed tomatoes. Wow, what a difference. So now we’re going into production making and freezing stewed tomatoes.
We’ve been having “summer” for the past couple of weeks and it’s really putting a hurt on the winter greens. Also because Nancy’s activities – bridge and crocheting – have been curtailed, all the greens I would have picked for her friends are wasting away in the heat. But today there was an article in the newspaper about freezing vegetables with lots of information regarding greens. Greens are the main ingredient in my smoothies so normally I quit making them when the garden crashes. This article says maybe I have summer smoothies in my future. So as long as we’re observing this social isolation thing, freezing chard, kale, and collards seems like a great use our time. According to the article, you blanch the greens for 2-3 minutes, move them to an ice bath, dry them off and put into a zip lock or similar container. Sounds simple enough. That’s our project for today and several future days. The limiting factor is the ice bath. We have a limited supply of ice so that will stretch out the project. Between the veggie freeze and the stewed tomatoes, we have a good project load.