A Morning Underwater…..

Green Moray Being Cleaned (Key Largo Reef)

Green Moray Being Cleaned (Key Largo Reef)

Last year I woefully neglected diving and have promised to do better this year. I still haven’t been out once a month as I intended, but it’s been about every six to eight weeks. The weather wasn’t great much of the week except for Wed and Thursday and those days were quite nice. We did Thursday and went to one of the shallow wrecks, then over to the great reef complex on Molasses. Hubby was diving just for fun which meant he could take his camera with him. (He can’t carry it when he’s teaching.)

For those who know what a “cleaning station” is, please bear with me because it’s something really fun for those not familiar with it. We were swimming along and Hubby saw a large green moray eel with one side against the reef and the rest of him stretched out on the sand. Eels tuck back into the rocks during the day unless they happen to be out, mostly swimming to another spot to tuck into. (They come out at night to feed). Not only was this one out, he hardly moved despite the fact Hubby was practically in it’s face. As always when photos are involved, I had a quick look and moved out of the way so I wouldn’t interfere in the shots. I thought the eel was not well since that’s often the case when they aren’t moving around. After we returned to the boat, I made a comment about it and Hubby said, “Not at all – it was a cleaning station.” Oh, how cool. Here’s the way it works and I haven’t the faintest idea how it evolved. Tiny “cleaner fish” and “cleaner shrimp” will nibble away at dead skin and parasites for larger fish. The fish – in this case the eel – remain quite still and the cleaners flit all over them to include going inside the mouth and cleaning there. In each case, the larger fish could quickly gobble them up as a snack, but don’t. Once the fish is cleaned, it moves off and resumes it’s normal routine. When you first start diving, you tend not to notice these amazing behaviors because you’re too busy dealing with your equipment, learning how to maneuver underwater, etc., After you’ve been at it for a while, you know what to look for and it’s always enjoyable to watch a cleaning station.

Pearl Harbor Day Thoughts…….

Serious content alert. My dad served in the Pacific, but it was deeper into the war and so he was never in any fighting. He was on an ammunition ship out of Ford Island and when they came to visit us in Hawaii, it was certainly a very different place. We were stationed at Schofield Barracks although my first year I was assigned to Fort Shafter which is close to Pearl Harbor. For anyone familiar with the island of Oahu, there are military installations all over the island. Schofield Barracks, away from the beaches, included the mountains with Kole-Kole Pass where the Japanese aircraft came through to remain undetected before the strikes. Wheeler Army Airfield is nearby and that’s where a few aircraft were able to get off and briefly engage the Japanese.

As you can imagine, there are multiple observance ceremonies each year and they are each powerful in their own way. The Arizona Memorial is of course open all year round as is Punchbowl Cemetery (National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific is the proper name). Punchbowl is not exclusive to World War II. Ironically, Richie and I will be doing a webinar this evening about his years of shipwreck exploration, many of which are military casualties. The date is an coincidence because Best Publishing wanted to slide the webinar in before  the holiday rush and Wednesdays are a common night for scuba clubs to meet.

In looking at the significance of today, how sad it is that 75 years later we still have the level of conflicts we do. Hundreds of millions of lives lost and harmed because we have yet to find ways to live peacefully. If you read history, progress has been made, although not nearly enough. May the near future be a time when we can move closer to what should be a reality and not merely something to be hoped for.

Fifty Deserves Gold….

Last night was a celebration of some friends’ 50th wedding anniversary and recently another couple we know celebrated their 62d. I fondly remember both sets of grandparents 50th and my sister and her husband don’t have too much longer to wait. Most people have a major celebration as they should although it is interesting that we tend to focus in five-year increments. I will always associate two humorous pieces with my maternal grandparents’ anniversaries. As they were approaching the 55th, my aunt wanted another big open house and my grandfather said, “Let’s wait and we’ll do something big for the 60th”. They almost made it, too. Which leads me to the second item. His birthday and their anniversary were only a few days apart. Sunday was our general family gathering as we would drive the 20+ miles after church, one branch of the family lived in the same town, and although my aunt and her family lived a bit further, they would come in for special events. I can’t recall if it was the 57th or 58th anniversary approaching, but the point is the optimum Sunday was going to be maybe the day after my grandfather’s birthday and a couple of days before the actual anniversary. In looking at the calendar, my aunt suggested this particular Sunday and once again my grandfather declined. “Who knows? Maggie might decide she’s had enough of me and leave before the day and we would have celebrated prematurely,” or something like that was his wry response.

Of the guests gathered for our friends’ celebration, they were the only couple who were on their first marriage. Granted, two were previously widowed; one of whom has not remarried yet, but the other attendees were divorced with a mix of remarried. That thought leads me to one of only a few segments I distinctly recall when Toffler wrote his book, Future Shock, back in the 1970s. He said we would see a surge in later-life divorces because as people were living longer and staying active longer (especially working at second careers), there would be a recognition that staying in an unhappy marriage was not necessary. It was a radical idea at the time, but I have watched it play out among friends and casual acquaintances. So, for those who by virtue of living longer and managing the realities of marriage for 50 years and more, it is indeed reason to celebrate.

No Turkey Leftovers……

The only real drawback to traveling away for Thanksgiving is you don’t have turkey leftovers – especially the picked over bird to use for stock. I remember years ago when my maternal grandmother was in a nursing home (that was before my parents converted their living room/dining room into a bedroom and moved her in), my uncle came up to visit. He called as he always did and was of course invited to have late lunch at the house. Daddy told him we were having turkey leftovers. He arrived expecting turkey sandwiches, but I had prepared tetrazzini instead. That’s always been one of my favorites, although I do genuinely like making pot pie and of course killer turkey soup. Until recently, I pretty much stuck with two varieties and if I go the turkey rice path, I use brown and wild rice to give a different flavor dimension. In trying to watch carbs though, I have converted to the turkey and sausage recipe I previously posted.

The odd thing of course, if you can get turkey all year round in about any form you want it and yet, like so many people, we tend to only buy it around the holidays. We eat chicken a lot, and therefore, not choosing turkey more often isn’t really logical. What say you, readers? Who all does turkey on a regular basis? (Yes, I do remember I do have some vegetarian followers.

Note: I actually thought I finished this post on Wednesday. That was the intent anyway.

Travel Over….

Ah yes, you never know what the holiday road trips will bring and yesterday was no exception. When we made the drive home from GA back in May, things were going well until a little past Ocala when we encountered rain. For the next five hours, it was steady precipitation, although in varying amounts from torrential downpours to drizzle. Yesterday, the skies were mostly sunny and the 54 degree morning gave way to 78+ as we stopped for a quick refuel and lunch. Ocala is our primary spot depending on timing. There are plenty of fast food choices and it’s pretty easy on and off. Okay, we get past Orlando and then it happens. Major wreck on the Turnpike with a pick-up truck that apparently managed to literally elevate up onto the guardrail. I’m not certain, but I guess there were a total of three vehicles involved and I hope no one seriously injured. As it turned out, we were fairly near where the accident occurred and I don’t know how far back the line stretched. We sat for a little over an hour.

People shut their vehicles off, got out and formed little clusters; all of us with the same basic point of view of. Granted, none of us in our group were traveling with small children. The temperature was pleasant at that stage and there was no threat of rain. So, if one must be stuck, at least we  had that going for us. That was the only major issue though and the rest of the trip proceeded smoothly. Unless something unexpected comes up, we won’t be taking any more road trips for a while.

Giving Extra Tips……

I did a Facebook post earlier about pausing amid enjoying friends and family to remember those who aren’t in a position to celebrate. It’s easy to think of the military and first responders, as we should. It’s even easy to think of nurses on duty, but it’s also easy to forget how many round-the-clock jobs we have primarily to make our lives more comfortable. The lights are on in your house because teams are always at work at a power plant. Airplanes are in flight and truckers are hauling rigs to get shipments where they’re going. Restaurants that offer special Thanksgiving meals or even something like a 24-diner or fast food place are staffed. You’re probably planning to watch at least some TV today and if you’re computer starts acting up, you might call for tech support. Now, the flip side to the coin is employees are often paid overtime, so for some, it is a chance to earn extra money. For others who have no special sentiment for a particular holiday, it’s not a big deal.

I would just ask that if you encounter someone today who is working, give a smile or perhaps an extra tip if that’s appropriate. Happy Thanksgiving to all whether you relax for some quiet time or are out and about.

An Irish Pub To Enjoy…….

There was a time when the idea of an Irish Pub on the square in the town of Covington wouldn’t have made sense, but those days are in the past. Like many towns in the deep South, the sale of alcohol went through various stages, and so, it simply would not have been a practical choice of location “back when”. Irish Bred Pub (which appears to be either a franchise or at least in multiple locations) did well with converting one of the historic buildings and actually has a fairly quiet downstairs area and the larger upstairs “events” room. It was Trivial Pursuit night last night. http://www.irishbredpubcovington.com/

The fare is as expected with a couple of regional variations such as shrimp and grits as part of the menu. The beer selection is appropriate and they have an interesting arrangement with Cork, their neighboring wine store. If you bring a bottle from Cork with your receipt, you don’t pay an outrageous corkage fee. Considering how difficult it is to resist temptation while traveling (I certainly didn’t for lunch yesterday), I ordered the onion soup and fields greens salad with pecans, roasted corn, and topped with steak. The salad was wonderfully fresh and the steak perfectly cooked. Hubby had beef stew with their Irish flair. (For those who may not be familiar with it, traditional Irish stew is made with mutton.)  Had we not been so tired from getting up early and more traffic than we hoped, we would have sampled the Irish coffee. That will have to wait for the next trip. The weather was clear for travel though and we’re quipped for the chillier temperatures.

Safe Travels Ahead…..

Tomorrow will be a travel day for us as we make the annual trip to Georgia to be with Hubby’s family. I gather an actual cold front is supposed to sweep in, so I’ll need to find a couple of sweaters or at least a jacket to pack and go with layers. Fortunately, we’re at the stage of our loves when we can travel on Tuesday and return on Friday and we always have a handy housesitter available. Travel on the Wednesday of Thanksgiving is a hassle we don’t deal with unless it’s absolutely necessary.

I’m not certain of which “cycle” his family is on though. Like many of us who marry, you have to decide which sets of parents you spend which holiday with. In Hubby’s case, the younger generation has “aligned” their visits so the “distant” cousins can be together with the nearby ones every other year. Since all the younger generation also have children, that means in the “aligned year”, the holiday crowd goes from around 12 to around 30. One of Hubby’s first cousins hosts almost every year and embraces the cheerful chaos. They do live in a perfect place for spreading out and especially for the youngsters to be able to run around, plus there is the dining room and the dining table as part of the large kitchen. Her husband is great with frying turkeys and by the time everyone adds their “special” dish in, you can’t possibly eat with less than two trips to the buffet. With my mother-in-law in assisted living, we aren’t certain if she will be up to joining us and have been told they do a wonderful event at the place where she is. We’ll be flexible on that since I imagine she won’t really know how she’s feeling until Thanksgiving morning.

So whether you are traveling, staying close to or at home, have a special holiday tradition or prefer to have a quiet day, may it bring you pleasure.

Another Technology First…..

Hubby, who is not remotely averse to embracing new technology, (although he doesn’t have to buy the latest toys as they come onto the market) watches webinars all the time. I have dialed into a few on audio, but a few minutes ago, I had my first experience with a computer and video link-up. Best Publishing who published Mystery of the Last Olympian: Titanic’s Tragic Sister Britannic (http://amzn.to/2c1iKJl) has scheduled Richie Kohler for a webinar, A Life Underwater, for Dec 7th. And yes, if you picked up quickly that Dec 7th is Pearl Harbor Day, and you know it was a WWII U-boat that thrust Richie into an international spotlight, it is ironic, although it was also a coincidence.

Anyway, as co-author, I will play a support role during the webinar and that means I have to be on the computer helping monitor the Chat part where people can type in questions. So we just ran a test and it was a pretty intriguing process. At first, I was only on audio as it was explained to me that no, you have to sign in to the computer which requires the first step of installing the program. (This is the kind of thing that makes me nervous.) That part went smoothly enough and there it all was, appearing on my screen. Richie in the upper right corner, the great photo array he selected on the main part of the screen and the little Chat box in the lower right corner. There are a variety of other buttons I’m concerned about touching, but I did manage to stay on the call without crashing the computer. We worked through a number of ideas as well as the physical procedures, but I will do everything in my power to make sure Hubby is here the evening we go live. I do not want to face this by myself. Who knows, there may be more webinars in my future.

The Performing Arts You’ve Been Waiting For…..

You don’t always get an immediate full package when it comes to downtown revitalization. It’s nice when the resources are available for that, but more likely, there will be incremental steps. Like a garden though if you can’t bring in a landscape designer and move forward with every flower, shrub, tree, etc., you might have the design and a few “anchor” pieces, then add to it. What’s important though is to carefully tend to the initial steps and not lose the early plantings as you wait for the rest.

The Seminole Theater in downtown Homestead has kicked off their second season and for every person who has said, “I wish we had performing arts here”, the answer is, “We do.” While the first season was heavily weighted to concerts, that was primarily because it was the easiest approach to get started. This year, however, a variety of programming is available and there really is something for just about everyone. There is the Showcase Series – major events booked by the Seminole – then there will be different events continually added. These are often local organizations that book the Seminole as a venue for music, dance, theater, etc.

I’ve previously posted about the delightful WLRN Radio Theater plays we’ve attended and there are three more performances this season – Miracle on 34th Street, Casablanca, and Treasure of the Sierra Madres. Yesterday, we had a bit of a “Ladies Afternoon” as five of us attended the one-man play, Vincent. The essence of the play was mixed media with the role of Theo Van Gogh, Vincent’s brother, in a script written by Leonard Nimoy (Yes, “Mr. Spock”). The production, from Starry Nights Theater Company, has played around the country. As the character of Theo spoke of the larger truth of the brother whose paintings were not appreciated in his lifetime, he also read excerpts of letters and images of famous and less-well recognized pieces were projected behind him. It was a moving script, wonderfully produced, and superbly acted. It’s the quality of performance we no longer have to fight traffic for or search out parking.

Dining options are close by as well with restaurants such as the Capri (M-Sat), on Krome only a few miles away; Chefs on the Run on adjacent Mowry Dr (Tue-Sat). along with Hotel Redland (M-Sat & Sun brunch). Or you can drive a few streets north on Krome, turn on 7th St and find The White Lion Café (Tue-Sat). El Toro Taco is across from the theater (Tue-Sat) as is Casita Tejas, and Lucky’s Saloon is two buildings away. (Tejas and Lucky’s are open seven days a week). Mamma Mia’s, a short drive to Washington Ave, is open seven days a week, too (until 11:00 p.m. Fri & Sat).

You can keep up with what will be playing at http://seminoletheatre.org or for the wider arts and culture scene, check Homestead Center for the Arts, http://homesteadcenterforthearts.com