Vacation?

My turn to cook so I decided on spiraled zucchini, fried lightly in olive oil with garlic and then coated with home made pasta sauce. Of course this is a 100% garden meal. At least it was until Nancy decided we needed to grill a few links of Italian sausage. We had picked up some from a new butcher shop in Deland and were anxious to see if it would be any good. Well it wasn’t all that great – the sausage I mean. This was a learning meal for me and next time it will be a little better planned and executed. Spiraling the squash, cooking it just the right amount of time ( I did about 4 minutes) and getting the sauce ready all at the same time is a little tricky since each element is done quickly and in parallel. I chose ribbon shape on the squash spiral and think maybe the “linguini” blade would have been a better choice in this application. Having that all done at the same time as the sausage was really tricky for an amateur. I had two frying pans and the microwave all going at the same time. It was tasty but I can do better next time. I’m nominally a one pan cook and most things I cook take more than half an hour – not time critical.

Nancy had an appointment with the back Dr. He checked the results of the physical therapy and decided that surgery was really the only answer. He ordered a set of X-rays and MRI’s and to our surprise they were able to schedule them for the next day. Our experience is usually that there are several weeks between the dr appointment and the imaging. I think the actual surgery will happen in a couple of weeks and will most likely involve one or two nights in the hospital. He’s very confident that she’ll see a 90% improvement quickly so she’s anxious to get on with it.

We’ve got to get ready for a trip next week to the Florida pan handle for a vacation with Tom and Tina. We’ve gone together and rented a house right on the water reportedly loaded with fish. This area is famous for seafood – particularly oysters – so we’re looking forward to that. We’ll have the surgery scheduled for right after we get back.

Up to 31 bags of marble chips on my driveway restoration project. I think I’ll stop for a while and let it settle out. It’s much smoother than when I started.

What a Great Wedding

Got a new project. Our gravel driveway is getting a little bumpy as it settles, as tree roots grow, and as moles and armadillo’s dig into it. You’d think 4” of interlocking quartz chips would hold up longer than 20 years. My project is to fill in the dips with more quartz. I found I could buy bags of rocks at Lowes so added a Lowes stop on my twice weekly trips to Palm Coast for Nancy’s bridge game. Each bag is about 50 pounds so not fun to handle but manageable if I buy 5-6 bags each trip. My target is to have the project done by the fourth of July. The only negative, so far, is that the chips are bright white so the patches stand out. I’m fairly sure that as the Florida humidity attacks them, they’ll turn black or a moldy brown. Plus I can count on loads of falling oak leaves to help. Nancy’s eyesight problems are taking some of the pressure off me since I know the new color spots would bother her much, much more than it does me.

What a great wedding. Simon, Amy and all the folks putting it together did a fabulous job – best wedding I can remember. Met lots of new people and had a perfect opportunity to refresh friendships from years ago – particularly with Tina’s western families and with Simon’s old high school and college friends. Many were kids the last time we saw them and now they’re full fledged adults with families of their own. Wow. We met many of Simon’s co-workers who we knew in name only. The facility itself, the 4-H Coosa River Center, was was absolutely perfect. Most of the family stayed right at the facility in really comfortable, roomy accommodations. The outdoor chapel where the ceremony took place was perfect, the weather was perfect and the celebration party was perfect. I was bitten by the dance bug and had a ball. The highlight of that was dancing with Lindsay and Olivia. I do the old guy dances and they were sports enough to stay with me. Another highlight was Joey and Mark providing all the transportation services and making sure the whole trip was seamless. If we had to do all the airline travel things ourselves, I’m sure we would have opted to make the 10 hour drive instead. Congrat’s to all those folks who put it together – the hard work showed.

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.