Great Music Plus……

There are unexpected things that can touch us and for a number of people that happened in the unlikely place of the Seminole Theatre Saturday night. As I’ve mentioned in other posts, the Seminole has a Showcase series where they book a mix of performances and then there are multiple other productions by individuals and organizations such as when Homestead Center for the Arts does a show. Due to the cost (which of course then drives the ticket price), there is usually only one ” big name” per showcase series, but they bring in quite a few tribute bands. These are the bands who specialize in a famous band’s music and we’ve attended several over the years; all of which have been good.

So, Saturday night was the “Best of the Eagles” and with continuing concerns, the audience was smaller than it probably would have been otherwise, but there were still maybe 200. Ordinarily, the Seminole Director speaks to the audience in the beginning with a welcome, etc., We’d seen her earlier actually helping out up front to open the second bar and a gentleman we didn’t know was at the microphone instead. I didn’t catch the name (and now wished I had), and he explained they would start in a few minutes. They were from New Jersey and he was the promoter. Although this was his first time to bring a show to Homestead, he was impressed with the theatre and staff and had two or three others lined up for the season. He asked for all active duty military and veterans to stand to be recognized. After we sat down, he said he usually started a show with the Pledge of Allegiance, but since there wasn’t a flag, he would pass on that. Two things happened next; Katherine Rubio, the Director, (or it might have been another staff) called out there was a flag and one of the staff dashed down the aisle to go behind stage. There was a guy in front of us who had a flag patch on the sleeve of the shirt he was wearing and we all called out to say, “Hey, here’s one.” The guy looked only momentarily confused as the promoter asked if he would mind; that he didn’t want to be disrespectful of the guy. The guy willing went forward, and held his arm up toward the audience at about the same time the staff member brought a flag out. He positioned it where it was aligned with the guy and everyone recited the pledge. Now for the next part.

The promoter said he was at a venue (which he didn’t name) and they told him he could never do that again. He said he had multiple shows booked there and cancelled them all, that he wouldn’t agree to that rule. “Yes, it cost me a lot of money, but that’s okay.” Not surprisingly, there was a big round of applause. The band then came on stage for what was an excellent performance.

And Then It Was Five…..

People sometimes wonder how I manage to get so many things strung together. Yesterday was one of those days. I have a standing Friday Happy Hour and it was also the Friday for a monthly luncheon. A task that was originally scheduled for Monday had to be postponed and was going to be on Thursday. Then, something else came up which could only be done Thursday, so slipped the other task to Friday morning. Okay, now I’m at three and that’s manageable.

Two extra tasks came up which I wanted to take care of Thursday as they were both close to where I was going to be anyway. As I was completing one, I sent a text to arrange the other. Oops, individual wasn’t going to be available until Friday – okay, that can work as it was close to where I was going to have Happy Hour which happened to be in a different place than usual because it was combining some work with enjoying wine. When I opened my email after returning home, an individual I was trying to meet up with wanted to know if I could make – you guessed it – Friday afternoon. Ah yes. Okay, by fitting that in between the luncheon and the other, I could allow for an hour which should be plenty of time.

So, I make a run down to Key Largo Friday morning for meeting one; scoot back by house for short time to check email before heading to luncheon. Repeat before 3:00 meeting. Text to ensure individual is available for next meeting. That’s a go and I head in for that. Sit down, get started and receive phone call to verify I will be at the “working HH”. Oh yes, I’ll be there. And that’s why when I sent the 8:00 a.m. email out dealing with another major task I explained I would be out most of the day and would respond to questions this morning. Well, I did take the one call from a recipient who was on her way to the airport and needed to check one detail before beginning her international flight.

More Battle Bots…..

Season six of Battle Bots started a couple of weeks ago and I continue to be amazed at multiple aspects of the show. It’s grown in such popularity they moved it to Las Vegas. There are some newcomers although I’m not sure if this is referred to as a “League”, “Circuit” or other term. If I recall the number correctly, they start with 64 teams and have I think it’s 7 or 8 battles per show. As with other sporting competitions, wins are tracked as they move toward the latter part of the season when eliminations pare down to the final 2 teams that compete for the Giant Nut trophy.

The teams can be as small as 2 and some have 6 or more members and quite a few adolescents are involved which is nice to see. They come from different countries as well as the USA and the approaches to design are on quite a spectrum. Some are very large with hammering devices and blades; others are smaller with low profile as “spinners with wedges”. The idea with these is to close in to use the opposing robot’s bulk to flip and disable it. There are danger zones built into the arena of destructive hammers, etc., and if the opponent can be maneuvered/forced into these, the smaller robot doesn’t have to be equipped with much weaponry. The arena has high, shatterproof walls like in hockey since pieces or chunks of flying metal is the norm and there are shooting flames as well.

The M.C. is well known within the “community” as he has a voice like James Earl Jones and introduces the teams with rhyming comments that he apparently mostly writes himself.

There continue to be matches determined by the judges as a knockout is not always achieved. The spectators have their favorites and like fans everywhere, they cheer and have signs of support.

Fruit and Spice Park…..

Our two national parks, Everglades and Biscayne, get the most attention from a tourism perspective, especially the Everglades. On the County side though we – as in Homestead – also have Biscayne Bay which is next to the national park and another large one which is unique. The Fruit and Spice Park is in Redland; “37 acres of more than 500 varieties of exotic fruits, herbs, spices and nuts from around the world; 180 varieties of mangos; 70 varieties of bamboo; 40 varieties of bananas; 15 varieties of jackfruit trees and numerous other exotic edibles.” (https://redlandfruitandspice.com/) Although we have been to many botanical gardens, this one is allegedly the only one in the world set up like it is. One of the unique aspects is visitors are allowed to take fallen fruit. (https://www.miamidade.gov/parks/fruit-spice.asp)

There are 3 daily tram tours which is good considering the size of the park, but meandering around is great as well. They have such a variety that you can spend hours if you’re so inclined. Although things were disrupted with COVID closures, they are getting back on track. The new superintendent, who has been in place for six months, has a background in biology and education and is very much into research. Among her other goals is to create additional STEM sessions for children. Right now they have Nutrition and Bees and Trees for younger children and various monthly workshops for older teens and adults. They also have periodic “Stargazing Nights” as a family activity. They hold several annual big events like the Asian Festival, the International Orchid Show, Heritage Festival, Blues, Brews, and BBQ. We haven’t done that one for a while and will probably try for this year. There is a $10 park fee, but it does go to a good cause.

Hubby and I were out earlier this afternoon to interview the superintendent and he shot lots of photos plus used the drone. This is another of those situations where we have more than enough material so I’ll have to decide what to trim.

Being Creative With Leftovers…..

As I have mentioned before, we are believers in using leftovers, preferably in a different way than the original. Since we didn’t have as many people as anticipated for New Year’s Eve and I always have too much on hand anyway, it’s been a little trickier this time. I did give away three batches, but two of those were planned as part of the “having extra” anyway.

We did shrimp Alfredo one night and two different soups were created; the one I do as a low carb and Hubby made one for him which was definitely not low carb with a southwestern flair. His used the “Cowboy Caviar” as a base which is what took him in the southwestern direction. I found the remaining jalapeno from that and will roast it tonight for a variation on the Everglades sauce for fish. The regular ingredients are shallots, capers, key lime juice, butter, oil, and rum. I’ll use shallots, roasted jalapeno, lime juice, butter, oil, and Chaca – a Brazilian liquor instead.

The bag of peppers is the final vegetable we need to use so those will also be roasted tonight for a side. We also have salami and pepperoni left from a small deli tray which will get used in a matriciana sauce for Thursday’s pasta dish after I pick up some prosciutto. The nice thing about that dish is you can use multiple different meats in it or go with just basic prosciutto. The remaining frozen garlic bread loaf will last for a while as will the last pork tenderloin. We almost always have one of those in the freezer in the same way of having certain things in the pantry. A tenderloin is so versatile you can go in multiple culinary styles depending on the mood; very much like with chicken.

Almost Funny…….

The travel irritations continued for the kids with their return trip although not as bad as getting them down here. The 6:20 flight was delayed until nearly 9:00 which meant a long stretch at an airport which doesn’t have a lot to do while waiting. It was at least a direct flight, then getting luggage, retrieving the car and driving home to arrive after midnight. I do hope everyone slept in the next day. So, the whole thing with sending them home New Year’s Day was to allow a one-day “recovery” period before school/work started. (The dance studio schedule is aligned with the school schedule as a matter of practicality.) The big winter storm that hit the Northeast included their area so what should have been the first day back was instead a snow day. Not sure what happened yesterday. Ah well, an extra day for daughter-in-law to nurse the cold she picked up from granddaughter was probably helpful.

This will be another busy week with multiple meetings and a somewhat unexpected performance at the Seminole Theatre. I’ve posted before about the fact they have built a reputation as a preferred small venue. That’s led to bookings of bigger names for off-nights. In 2019 Martin Barre was doing a Jethro Tull 50-year Anniversary Tour and was to be in Key West for a weekend in April. His promoter said he would come to the Seminole on the Wed prior if they wanted him. The place was packed and talk about an energetic show! Barre had 2 or 3 of the other early Jethro Tull performers with him on tour as well as the newer members of his regular band. It was definitely a loud show, yet something special for rock fans. Anyway, several days ago, a notice popped up he will be here Saturday as part  of his current tour. I’m supposed to find out why the sudden booking; hoping to get the green light for article in the paper.

Happy New Year…..

We did the traditional New Year’s Eve party although with a smaller group. One couple both had to work – not sure what they’re doing now and will catch up with them later. Another neighbor decided to tuck in and the other set of friends who were only going to come for a little while weren’t able to make it either. I’ll be doing up some leftovers obviously. The real question is the extra cheese cake sampler as the dessert platter brought meant the sampler was never open. The dessert platter had this fabulous array of choices.

Fireworks were definitely abundant in the neighborhood and when we pick debris up from backyard and pool you know they were close. Granddaughter did have to put on her earphones a few times. On the other hand, having what was in essence a triple private fireworks display was nice for those who don’t have problems with it. Prior to that, a trip to the Everglades Outpost Rescue place was the activity plus a stop at Robert Is Here for milkshakes and dried exotic fruits to take home. There were alligators of all sizes to see at the refuge; the gray wolf was still in residence as well as the camel and a white tiger has been added. Apparently a situation where as often happens, someone wealthy obtained it, then discovered keeping a tiger is different from what he imagined. Fortunately, he did find a place to surrender the tiger to rather than abuse it. Pool time after was with Dad and Grandpa while I continued party prep and sent daughter-in-law to rest. The cold of granddaughter has now passed to Mom and Dad in the usual way.

Their flight for this evening has been delayed for about two hours with the standard phrase of “we’re trying to lessen the delay so please arrive at the time for the regular flight”. Since Fort Lauderdale airport isn’t the most extensive, they’re thinking about do they really want to spend four hours there if it is the full delay.

Day One Lost…..

Okay, the kids’ trip did not start well as they were caught up in the “hundreds of flights cancelled” (or however many there were). We did get notified in time for them not to have left for the airport. That was annoying enough. The real kicker is they were re-booked to have to fly through Boston today instead of direct which means getting into Fort Lauderdale at 5:30 if no more delays. Instead of a leisurely evening last night and all day together today, the trip will be more tiring and I’m driving back in the dark. Neighbor was coming for dinner to have some special time with the kids as he has known them the longest. We slid that to 7:30 and Hubby is working all day. I will prep a bunch of stuff for him to start dinner if needed.

Fortunately I scheduled the dolphin encounter for tomorrow and that’s the most time critical aspect. On the other hand, this is the first time in bringing them down to encounter such delays and it was bound to happen sooner or later. During all my years of flying there were lots of relatively minor issues and a few incredibly inconvenient ones. When son was only about four, we were weathered in at Boston to the point they finally decided to bus us to Portland. This was in the age before cell phones and the grandparents lived an hour and a half from the airport. The bus was of course full and son had to sit on my lap the entire time. He was an experienced traveler by this stage. We had started out in Louisiana fairly early that morning, so you can imagine the situation. I explained everything to him though and during that drive of almost three hours, he didn’t fuss or whine and grandparents had whiled away their time by having dinner close to the airport. I doubt he remembers it although he might.

Merry Christmas……..

What a lot of places we’ve been for Christmas over the years. Many with relatives and friends; one incredibly lonely time when I was sort of stranded in London rather then being where I was supposed to be, but that’s definitely for another post.

Growing up in Louisiana, my maternal grandparents and much of that side of the family lived 30 minutes west. The tradition was big Christmas Eve at their house with grown-ups having drawn names for presents and all the kids getting a bulging stocking from Mamaw and Papaw which included lots of fireworks. It wasn’t a meal as that took place the following day back at their house again. For some reason, one year my mother decided we should open all our presents when we returned Christmas Eve because having the traditional opening and prepping everything to take for the Christmas meal was admittedly a bit hectic. On the other hand, Christmas morning without opening presents just wasn’t the same and we didn’t repeat that. Of course, in a one-income, working middle class family, there weren’t that many presents to unwrap and stockings tended to be things like maybe some new socks, plus tangerines because those only came into the small town groceries part of the year. It seems we went up to Arkansas to be with paternal side of the family occasionally, although I don’t recall  how often.

Moving on to when I was single and mostly away in the Army, there was usually a family that drew in “the orphans” either as individuals or groups and Hubby and I did the while we were in Maryland and Virginia. I’ve posted before about Christmases in Maine which periodically meant the 26th or 27th as “late Christmas”; never longer than two days after. I’ve also explained the kids have Christmas in Virginia and we bring them down the 27th or 28th depending on their Jan start date back to work/school. They’re exhausted with lead-up to and performances of Nutcracker so a few days of relative quiet before tackling airports at holiday time is important. Fortunately, it is a non-stop, little over two hours flight time which does help. We’ll go over late afternoon today for the big meal with friends. And yes, I will be having candy at breakfast.

 

Seafood Explosion…..

For reasons that have escaped many of us, here we are 20ish minutes (given no traffic) from Key Largo and with Biscayne Bay as well as a great deal of fishing that occurs out of the Everglades, yet the last dedicated seafood restaurant closed several years ago. Until recently, there was a Red Lobster – also a bit of a puzzle as they don’t do regional seafood. In all fairness, the non-franchise restaurants do carry local seafood and last year I wrote about the great couple that opened Krab Kingz. It is one of the crosses between fast food and sit-down because you order at the counter and they bring the food to your table. They do serve with mostly plastic ware and they don’t have coffee, but they also source as much locally as possible and only USA products for everything else.

With that said, we suddenly have three different seafood places preparing to open – two for sure that are some kind of franchise and the third I only learned of the other day. The Crafty Crab has been “pending opening” for quite some time but it looks as if it’s close now. The Juicy Red Crab is much more recent and also looks as if it’s close to opening. I think the name of the third is Noah Noah Seafood and I believe it is a stand-alone and might have just opened. It’s in the Hotel Redland which was one of our hangouts until Chef E didn’t manage to get through the COVID closure. It’s supposed to be seafood and Mexican which should be an interesting combination.

We will have to try them all of course. I made a comment to Hubby the other day and he said one of the “food writers” mentioned not long ago these crab franchises were the new trend.  I always hope new local businesses succeed, but to have multiple similar at one time might not be the best idea. We shall see.