Pop-Up Card and Dinner……

I received an envelop and a box yesterday and mistakenly thought the envelop was an item I’d ordered sent separate from the items in the box. As Hubby was on his way out this morning – yes, he’s working on Mother’s Day – I opened the box first. In finding everything I ordered inside, I was now puzzled about the envelop. It contained a large, pop-up card that I assume was sent by the kids. Since I am capable of accidentally tearing these things, we will wait until this afternoon when Hubby is back and I’ll let him open it.

An aside before discussing dinner. Weekends are of course busy dive time and thus Hubby rarely has a weekend off. Between my various writing, I also work part of each weekend; it’s just the way things are. Anyway, as I’ve mentioned in previous posts, we don’t go out for Mother’s Day, etc., because it’s always very crowded and we prefer to make a special dinner at home. I am going out with a friend whom I usually have lunch with on Sunday, but we’re going to the Red Crab where people tend to come in later.

For my special dinners, I tend to go lobster or steak au poivre and steak won out for tonight. Hubby found two lovely filets – we sometimes have to ask the meat guy at the store to cut some for us – and I picked up the heavy cream for the sauce yesterday, some nice asparagus and dessert. I usually go for some kind of cake and decided this time to instead to get chocolate and lemon cream pies. These are from the freezer section. The brand Edwards makes whole pies or you can buy two slices in a box. I’m thawing one slice from each box and I like them both. I’ll let Hubby pick first although I have also offered half a slice of each. Oh, and as usual; one chocolate covered strawberry as garnish. I am conceding to Hubby on the wine as I would normally have bought a Mouton-Cadet or something similar, but we have extra Zinfandel on hand and that’s his favorite. He did already buy a bottle of Chandon for us to have while preparing the meal. Oh, he does the grilling and I do the sauce.


Computer Annoyances….

We are so connected these and dependent on our computers that when we have issues, it makes the time difficult. About two weeks ago, I began having problems with my laptop as it wouldn’t light up the screen properly without going through a very odd procedure. Hubby finally had some time where I could show him and he agreed, “That’s weird”, and had no idea what could be causing it. On the other hand, once I went through this odd procedure it worked just fine. The concern, of course, was it would get worse and no doubt fail at an even more critical time. So, since he was finally going to have few days at home, I took the computer to Best Buy on my way to a luncheon Monday. The pleasant tech listened to me and you could tell she thought I didn’t know what I was saying, but politely said, “Let’s try it”. She also said, “That’s weird.” She thought it might be an update and driver issue and she could take care of it while I waited. Great! Nope, didn’t work which meant the next level techs would have to tackle it. Sigh, maybe as long as three days.

Hubby set me up with his back-up, older laptop and I had backed up my files to an external drive and flash drive. That was awkward as his is set up slightly differently, and of course his computer wasn’t set for my printers. Fortunately I didn’t have to print and they did get mine fixed the following afternoon. Hubby went to get it for me as I knew I wouldn’t really understand what they would explain to me. The problem was a disconnect with the drivers and something I did not in fact quite understand. There was a recommendation from the young lady about a different way to update that I guess I’ll try to remember to do each month.

Interesting TV Show…..

I don’t recall how I ran across the show of “Bar Rescue”; a cable TV show I will provide warnings about if you decide to watch. John Taffer, according to the intro, has saved hundreds of bars during his 30-plus year career and he goes all over the country. The warnings before I explain why I watch it. Taffer is a quintessential New Jersey/New York guy; big and burly, an in-your-face, profanity-laced, stop-lying-to-me-and-making excuses approach. The bars range from bad to appalling and in many cases, family dynamics are involved; a bit heartbreaking at times. Some of the debt racked up is hard to imagine.

Herein lies the fascination for me. Someone involved finally acknowledges they need drastic help – the only kind he provides. Ninety-five percent of the time, at least one individual who is an owner and/or manager is highly resistant and initial intervention is required to even get started. Skipping forward, Taffer brings in a mixologist and chef to analyze the problems and provided solutions. Taffer is extraordinary in his understanding of every aspect of the bar business. For example, in one case in renovating the bar he added five stools. He explained in that market, those five should bring in $5,000 revenue per stool per year. Another example is differentiating between the profit margin of cocktails, draft and bottled beer and types of food items. Matching potential profit to the specific market is where he starts.

The pattern of the show is understandably why he’s there, tearing into everyone for like 45 minutes. One of the things I would like to know, but it’s not the drama part, is how costs are covered for the huge amount of physical renovation that takes place. (Many of the equipment items such as appliances or furniture are donated in exchange for promotion.)

The end results may include changing the name of the bar for re-branding and the renovations are often extensive. The shift in attitude and dynamics are of course key to the show and how initial resistance is overcome. At the very end, there is usually a “Six Weeks Later” text shown. In most cases, sales are up, relationships are repaired, and debt is being lowered. At times, problem employees have been fired; some however, are redeemed. In a few cases, the impression is despite all the efforts, bad habits will probably return.

Bouncy on the Water…..

Getting out to dive on April 30 does still count for making it out in April. The winds were supposed to have come down for waves of 2-3 feet. It didn’t exactly work out that way although when we started back it was getting better. We actually had 3-5 for most of the day. That also meant there was a lot of surge. On the other hand visibility was like 50-60 feet which was nice. I did the first dive and didn’t want to struggle with the ladder again so went in for a bit of snorkeling on the second site.

Anyway, back to the first dive. Nothing big, but plenty of fish to include my queen and gray angels and two rock beauties. Yellowtail snappers were all over the place and my pretty little chromis were around, too. Couple of butterfly fish, a trumpet, a file fish and plenty of parrotfish. There was one that has black, silver, and yellow and I never remember the name. I hadn’t seen one for a while. I was surprised to not find yellow headed jaw fish, but there were some bluehead wrasses. Those have become a bit of a joke because a few months ago a crew was in from England and for some reason they were out filming specifically to get footage of bluehead wrasses. I forgot to ask if anyone ever found out why. We do see them on most dives. So then, coming home I realize that also unlike the weather forecast, the “scattered afternoon showers” were in fact  heavy dark clouds and I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it home without going through heavy rain. I did make it with about ten minutes to spare.

Rock Beauties are the smallest of the angel fish we have on our reefs.

Chromis are seen on most of the local reefs.


Creatures of Habit…..

Many of us do get comfortable in our routines and habits. Yes, there are others that seem to approach all sorts of things spontaneously, and while I occasionally have such a moment, it’s very occasionally.

They finally opened a new Publix a bit closer to us than the regular one. It is a brand new building which is always nice and the employees seem to be enjoying it. Hubby went first although did avoid opening day. I ventured in for a few things last week and did actual shopping yesterday. The design and layout are different and so far, I am about 70% of understanding where things are. Aside from the fact yesterday was really busy for me, it does take longer to shop because of not knowing which aisle is which. Yes, there are signs, but now I have to stop and look and read them. In all the other Publix, the bakery and deli are close together and in this one, they are on opposite sides of the store. That completely alters the sequence which will be okay once I am accustomed to it. After spending at least fifteen minutes more than usual, I had enough to get us through a couple of days and figured one of us could go back for whatever I missed. In all fairness, we generally have to make at least one extra trip anyway for one reason or the other.

Stockage-wise, they do seem to have less of some things at this store, but for example, they have veal scallopini and that’s nice. I didn’t get any this week as I picked up lamb chops instead. The other change to get used to is more refrigerated units than refrigerated open sections. No doubt that saves on electricity, but again, the different set-up is throwing me off a bit. Ah well, I should be okay in another week or two.

Progress on New “Shades”…..

This is the longest gap I have had between books as Idyllic Islands was published in 2021. I’ve mentioned in a previous post I was struggling as I am writing Shades of Remorse, the fifth in the series with Police Detective Bev Henderson, from a triple Point of View rather than a dual as the others are. The reason I need to make this change is because while most of the action takes place in Verde Key, a critical event and character is in New Orleans and that character then arrives in Verde Key. I couldn’t find a way to realistically portray the character or events involving her only through the eyes of her aunt.

I have worked through most of the initial issues I had and am more comfortable with the way the story is flowing. I changed some of my approach as I certain elements I was going to include won’t synchronize as I thought. It’s all part of the process and I’m okay with that. I’ve also decided to introduce a new assistant medical examiner and I think fans will like her. So far, Kyle, Bev’s husband, isn’t as prominent as in previous books, but he may appear more in the later chapters. I’ll see how that fits. I still don’t have as much time to devote to it as I would like, but I do want to get it out this year. No earlier than fall and it might bump up against the holidays.

About Those Fundraisers…..

As I have previously posted, we are heavily involved in the community and there are – as everywhere – so many non-profits that do good work. They run the gamut from the internationals such as the Kiwanis with lots of members to the small, focused groups such as those who serve children and teens for specific purposes. In other cases, they are cultural in nature like our two museums. They all need constant donations and for the large, well-established ones who can afford grant writers and are networked into the big donors, they can bring in substantial sums. That still requires a lot of effort, but also results in noticeable results.

For others, it’s developing a smaller network, yet enough supporters to get by. I fall into both categories – not as a member of a major organization, but I do sponsor certain events as Charlie Hudson Writes and use those as a business expense. Sometimes it’s an ad, and other times a basket. In changing to the smaller side, in addition to whatever we personally contribute, I cover many of the organizations in the newspaper with the closing paragraph along the lines of, “There are many worth causes and this may be one that especially appeals to you.”

Because of holding events outside (sometimes covered, but open air) and the seasonal residents we have, Oct-May are the big fundraising months with every weekend (other than Thanksgiving and Christmas) where at least one event is held. Multiples are common. Big dinners and fishing tournaments are the most prevalent and of course a few golf tournaments. Apparently with the surge in popularity of Pickleball, tournaments for that, too, may be starting up. I suppose I should go watch a match some day just to see what the game actually is.

Those Far-Spaced Events….

I would imagine everyone was watching the eclipse for at least some point yesterday. One friend traveled to Texas to be with old friends, my grandniece is at Baylor which was in totality. Rest of her family is in Houston so they had a fair amount as well. The TV coverage was great as they were switched from location to location. I think I spent about an hour watching. There has been at least one in my lifetime and perhaps two. Who knows if we’ll be here for 2025 (2024?), but it’s feasible. I haven’t checked with the kids yet for what they did, although granddaughter is old enough that I’m sure they had class about it beforehand. I guess some places not accustomed to many visitors were somewhat (or completely) overwhelmed with people coming in and again, I guess for those who aren’t sure if they will ever see another one, it would be important to be part of it.

Now, a once-in-a-lifetime for us was crossing into the new millennium and that was pretty spectacular. Yes, all the worry and prep about Y2K turned out to be a non-problem, although being prepared did make sense. We were friends at our beach house in Nagshead. We had looked at traveling to somewhere exotic and even at several months out things were either already booked or prices jacked up so much we didn’t want to pay that much. We weren’t very concerned about the world coming to an end in 2012 and can’t say we did anything special for that one.

We probably won’t be around for the nation’s 300th either, but the 250th is just two years away. That should be a great Fourth of July celebration and no doubt, there are places already making their plans. Hmmm, now that I think about it, I might should be booking somewhere already. Well, the kids are likely to still be in the D.C. area which would be logical or another trip to Philadelphia.

Whirl of a Week…..

Well, I knew it was going to be busy and with four extra events/tasks thrown in, let’s just say I haven’t had much spare time since our return. Some if it is social though so it isn’t as if it’s all work. At the moment – and I will try to keep it that way – Saturday will not require me to go out to meet with anyone. I may have one semi-obligation and if that comes about it will be here at the house.

Lots of things for the two non-profits I am heavily involved with have been at the core of the week and then there were some lingering input needed to get the taxes off. We split it with me gathering all the initial data, then Hubby has to do the on-line input of many pages. This is like the third time since our tax guy has started using this system and therefore, it’s more familiar. The issue is now that many institutions don’t have to send tax documents until the end of February, there are always one or two that are later. And between holidays and the surge of people who come to dive Jan-early March, it is really difficult to get what we need done by the first week of March. I can’t recall the last year we didn’t put in for an extension. Ah well, it simply stretches things out.

We have another artist reception this evening and while I have attended the last few by myself because of Hubby’s schedule, this is one he really wants to attend. That means I go to my 5:00 and instead of going from that to the reception, I’ll come home instead, link in with Hubby after he has a quick shower, then back to the reception. Dinner after with friends though who also can’t make it until later which allows everything to align.

Back and Busy…..

Although we did leave the cold behind on Thursday, ironically temperatures went down a bit here as well. Not to where anything other than long sleeves were required which meant great improvement over sweaters and coats. The list of to-do’s I already had lined up for the week was added to yesterday and timing is going to be trickier than I expected next week. I have to shift a few things around and do some extra coordination.

Hubby did get enough groceries yesterday to carry us through the weekend and there were some lovely lamb chops. While we do enjoy lamb routinely, Easter is one of the times we like to specifically have it. Bothering with a traditional leg is not something we do after having tried it once. The meal was good; just more involved than marinating and throwing chops on the grill. I’ve posted before about how lamb was never anything we ate in the deep South because back when I was growing up, it simply wasn’t really available. All that has changed of course as even if you live in a place without a major grocery store, there is the internet option.

We’re having snapper with roasted tomato and tomatillo sauce tonight to balance out the extra red meat of the past few days. Hubby will spice up the black beans to go with rice and I’m still trying to make up a bit on the salad side. The kids always enjoyed ordering appetizers for dinner and that did not include one as a salad.

Anyway, Happy Easter to all who celebrate it.