The Garden is off and running

I’m designating August 15 as the official start of the fall garden.   I directly planted bush beans, 2 x 12′ rows;  pole beans, 2 x 8′ rows; carrots, 1 x 15′ row; cucumbers, 8 x mounds with 3 seeds in each mound; and zucchini squash (Dunja), 6 mounds with 3 seeds in each.   All in all that’s a lot of seeds but some of it is old seed and germination rates are unpredictable so I over plant and hope for the best.   It’s also a bit early and maybe too hot but I’ve got the seed so why not take the chance.  Worst thing is that I have to replant.  I also started some seeds in the house.  These are plants that simply couldn’t handle the outside conditions yet.  That would be tomatoes, green peppers, and herbs – parsley, Basel, and cilantro.   I’ve never grown cilantro so this is a special request from a neighbor.  I planted 4 different varieties of tomatoes – paste, cherry, and two regular round types.   I’ll have a handle on the success in about 10 days.   All the other winter stuff such as cabbage, kale, and broccoli won’t happen until mid September with cooler weather.

Had a fun day yesterday.   A couple days ago I broke a tooth.  The dentist had been predicting doom for this particular tooth for about 2 years and would have pulled it long ago.  It wasn’t bothering me so why go thru the pulling just for aesthetic reasons.   Anyway it broke a few days ago and was hanging on by a thread.  I toughed it out for a couple of days to see if I could get used to it or it would tighten itself back but that was not to be so I called and got an appointment for the next day.   He pulled the broken piece out without needing any tools – I knew that would be the case and had been tempted to pull it out myself  but he said the root had to come out too and it was a long one, well anchored.   He numbed it and pulled it out with a special gripping tool.   Lots of blood but no pain.   I’m supposed to keep gauze there until the bleeding stops.   All that was yesterday and I’ve had absolutely zero pain and haven’t bothered getting the pain med prescription filled.  It has continued to bleed but I’m sure it will eventually stop or I’ll just run dry.

This is Friday so I took Nancy to bridge an headed for the beach.   The tide was almost high so that’s good but the fish tables were saying fishing would be quite poor.   The tables were right plus there was some serious storm clouds with lots of rumbling so I shortened that part of the day.  After all these years, I’m starting to get a slightly favorable attitude towards those tables.



Fishing Suprise

The lake is higher than it’s been in years and being mid August, we still have plenty of rain potential for the next 10 weeks. I’m slightly concerned as opposed to way concerned.

I have a very large pine tree that has/had several really big limbs that hung over the screen porch. The tree is quite healthy but we do get some severe storms and it’s well within the realm of expectations that the limbs would come down and destroy the screen. Barbara, next door, contracted with a tree service to go through her property and remove all the dangerous trees, limbs and brush. She was quoted an excellent price so I decided to bite the bullet and have them come over and do my tree so long as they were already here. They quoted what I considered a reasonable price so they started here and finished up in a couple of hours. I had them leave the branches on the driveway instead of carrying them away as they normally do because I had plans for the pine needles. That job has turned out to be a little harder job than I expected and will probably take a month of so to get it all cut up and moved. I’m fixing up the path to the lake and the area along the lake in front of the dock by laying down a thick layer of newspaper covered with palmetto fronds and then pine needles on top of that. This time of year I can only dedicate a couple hours a day to outside labor so this particular task is splitting my time between preparing for the fall/winter garden and the dock project. I’m booked solid “working in the dirt” until the end of September for sure.

I’ve been making good progress on the garden and as of today, have weeded 100% and tilled about 20%. Both compost piles are fully loaded with weeds. To scope it, the garden area weeded and tilled is 1200 SF, about 30’x40’ and the compost piles are each about 120 CF, 6’x8’x3’high. I’ll turn the compost piles weekly and it all should be ready for transfer to the garden by mid October, weather depending. My plan is to start some fall plants in the next week; probably a few tomato plants, green peppers and cucumbers. I’m also going to plant a row or two of carrots – much earlier than usual but some seed I planted as an experiment in May did ok. Meaning the heat didn’t seem to bother them.

Had an interesting trip to the beach. I was going to be fishing mid tide, falling and right on a “Solunar minor”. There are, major and minor feeding periods and according to the theory fishing is best two hours on either side of a major and 1 hour on either side of a minor. As described in earlier posts, the fishing has been exceptional so I was anticipating a lessor day. Whoa, got a bite within the first 5 minutes and it stayed steady that way for the couple of hours I fished. All little whiting. Then I got a bite, set the hook and was met by really solid resistance. Enough that I knew it was something substantial. It didn’t move much so I’m thinking big shark who didn’t know he was hooked yet. Then it came loose and I reeled in, disappointed but still excited. When I got it in, there was a complete fishing rig tangled up in mine – pyramid sinker, hooks, swivels etc. I have lost several similar rigs so this was giving me back one. I cast again and 5 minutes later was reeling in again with something extra on the line. Now I cast about 250’ so that’s a lot of reel cranking and it gets tiring after a few casts. Another rig tangled in mine. It was technically different but still had a pyramid weight, swivels and snaps. On both rigs the hooks were broken off. So for the day I netted half a dozen whiting and two rigs. What are the odds that two successive casts about 250’ from shore would yield a rig?

Still catching’ them in the surf

The lake is higher than it’s been in years and being mid August, we still have plenty of rain potential for the next 10 weeks.  I’m slightly concerned as opposed to way concerned. 

I have a very large pine tree that has/had several really big limbs that hung over the screen porch.  The tree is quite healthy but we do get some severe storms and it’s well within the realm of expectations that the limbs would come down and destroy the screen.  Barbara next door contracted with a tree service to go through her property and remove all the dangerous trees, limbs and brush.  She was quoted an excellent price so I decided to bite the bullet and have them come over and do my tree so long as they were already here.  Done.  It took an hour or so and a high bucket to get the guy up to the higher branches but they all came down without a hitch.   My plan now is to take the pine needles that came down and load up the path to the lake.  That should take a couple of days and maybe a little “son” muscle for the big branches but I think it will be easy enough.

Back to the beach to keep the string of good fishing days alive.  This was a different day weather wise and tide wise.   It was hot and clear as compared to mostly cloudy on the days I had success.  The tide was about midway to high and rising.  I changed my rig to a simple one hook style, different than I had been using.  I thought it would get less tangled and thereby increase the amount of actual fishing time.   First cast, one minute into it and getting the first bite.  It was like that for the next 2 hours – rarely more than a couple of minutes between bites.  Once again I experimented with the fish bites and was equally successful on shrimp, sand flea and squid.  And again the fish were mostly small whiting with a couple of sail cats thrown in.  The only thing that has been different these last few trips than for quite a while before is that I put new line on the reel and the line was a completely different color – bright yellow as compared to the “camo” green I had always used.  If anything I was concerned that the new line would be too visible and scare the fish.  Now I’m wondering if the line is actually attracting some positive attention.


We stopped by the hospital to see if Wilma’s condition had changed.  She’s now in hospice with a poor to zero diagnosis for recovery.  We were with her when the stroke occurred and with her in the emergency room and visited her every other day since.  She did show some level of memory the day after but very little and not for a few days now.  Nancy will really miss her.

Some good news, some bad news

Had a great visit with the SC Yearta’s. Brian is having a retirement party from the Daytona Beach Shores PD and family is coming in from SC – combining a vacation with a celebration. They were here for two days enjoying the lake, catching fish, and getting lessons in quilt making. I had a ripe pineapple on a plant and held off harvesting it until the girls got here then we picked it, cleaned it, and ate a few slices. Delicious.. Brian’s retirement party was a blast. It was catered by 4 Rivers Barbecue and attended by perhaps 150 people, family and co-workers. Clearly he was a well respected law enforcement guy in Daytona Beach Shores even including a 5 year stint with the FBI. The chief of police hosted a “Roast” and we heard lots of stories surrounding his career. I’m guessing he’ll be employed in a law enforcement role in short order. I think his speciality was financial crime.

That was followed by a great day on the beach. Nancy moved her Friday bridge game to Thursday since the retirement festivities begin on Friday. I had doubts about the surf fishing due to what seemed to be a nasty weather forecast. I dropped her off at the game and headed for the beach with a 90% chance (in my mind) of a wash out. It was really black and nasty looking but not a drop fell. The tide was almost dead low and the So-lunar showed a feeding major at 1PM so I decided to give it a try. Wow, it took about 5 minutes to bring in the first fish and it was steady action until I had to quit at 3 to pick up Nancy. We finished off the day with the peel and eats at Sky Jackers.

Now here’s what’s interesting. Yesterday after dropping Nancy off at bridge, I went back to exactly the same place to fish the surf. The tide was just the opposite and we were no where near a So-lunar peak so the fishing should have been lousy. But it was just as good as the previous trip. I experimented around a little with fish bites. I had started out with my favorite – sand flea flavored bites then switched to shrimp. Same great results – a bite within 5 minutes of every cast. So I decided to try something totally different – squid. Still plenty of action. So the take away from all this is if they’re biting, tide, so-lunar tables, or bait don’t matter all that much.

Some bad news. Our friend Wilma, Nancy’s original bridge partner in Crescent City, suffered a serious stroke a few days ago. She had been carried to the ER at Flagler hospital on Sunday but released later that night. We went over Monday for Nancy’s bridge game and we went by her place to see what the hospital visit was all about. We went to her apt and found her sound asleep so we decided not to disturb her but to come back later that day after the bridge game. We did and found her still asleep, apparently not having moved. We woke her up and she went to the bathroom but didn’t come right out. Nancy checked on her and found her slumped over and non responsive. We called 911 and they responded in about 10 minutes. We spent several hours with her in the ER, basically unconscious. They admitted her and we came home. We went back today, Wed, and found her in about the same condition as when we left and learned that she had experience a major stroke in the brain. Nancy was able to get some intelligent responses from her but she’s clearly in bad shape. When we left today, they were talking about hospice. Not good.

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.