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.

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.

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.

In Praise of the Tortoise…

Okay, not a holiday theme, but I was in a meeting earlier today that brought this to mind. I have no idea how often the old Aesop fable of the Tortoise and the Hare has been told nor is there probably any way to know. The spin-off sayings of, “Slow and steady wins the race,” etc., all convey the same concept. There are other instances where being slow is indeed inertia and someone does come along and “light things up” to help achieve a goal.

Locally we have two important projects that languished for decades; not for lack of want or effort, but because getting the resources was complicated. In both situations, a group of people steadfastly kept plodding with an occasional “surge” until resources finally improved. The specificity of the projects – one of which is still not complete although far enough along now as to seem genuinely on track – is not important.

The aspect of the meeting I had this morning involves the art side of the community. When the last art galleries closed in the 2008-2010 real estate bust, there were hopes they would recover as did the general market. That didn’t happen and while efforts to date have not been successful, the adverse impact of COVID was and continues to be a factor. However, there are some things “bubbling along” – okay, “simmering” might be a better word – that won’t necessarily bring galleries back yet, but may provide more routine venues for artists. There are still pieces to be moved into place and that’s what some of us are working on at this point. It’s always tricky with scarce resources and “collaboration, not competition” is vital. We’ll have to see what happens as we continue to be more tortoise than hare, and do hope the fable is proved to be correct again.

Of Real and Artificial Christmas Trees…..

I’ve probably posted about this before in general. We do have our tree up with no decorations yet; that will happen some time this week. We’ve never been one for outdoor lights, so the poinsettias and wreaths on the garage are pretty much for the exterior. We also  have wreaths for the front door except when we swapped out the door we forgot about that and can’t use the old-style hangars as in the past. We might manage the heavy duty “Command” hooks if we can ever remember to get them.

We were planing to revert to an artificial  tree this year and Hubby stopped by the Methodist Church which is one of the ones who sell trees as a fundraiser. They had like six trees left and one was the perfect size and shape for us, so it’s a real one again. I might even toss out some of the old ornaments that have no sentimental value like I’ve said I would do every year and mostly put them back in the box instead. We don’t bother with tinsel strands anymore and I have to say I definitely don’t miss the icicles we used way back when we were kids. I don’t know if they even make those anymore. We have a lot of marine and tropical theme ornaments which will probably be the main items again. Granddaughter is old enough at this point where I don’t have to worry about moving anything breakable out of reach. The only thing about a real tree is we do have this beautiful red star tree topper which is very heavy. I can’t for the life of me remember why I would have gotten it in the first place and so far if hasn’t worked with any of the life trees we’ve had; the upper parts just aren’t strong enough. Ah well, it might go onto a window sill again.

Did I Mention Coffee?…..

In coming up on Christmas and sipping my third mug of Black Rifle coffee, I suddenly remembered a technique that may not still exist. (The post I did last year explained about the Black Rifle Coffee Company)

Anyway, many years ago, my brother gave me a “cold water coffee extract” kit for Christmas. I think that was when he was working at the still fairly unknown Whole Foods Market (yes, that one), and more importantly, he does not and never has been a coffee drinker. When he sent this he assured me his coffee drinking friends loved it. Alright, now to describe it. There was a glass carafe, a round plastic container that fit over the neck of the carafe, and a plug to fit in the container. The instructions were to put the plug into the container, place up to one pound of ground coffee into the container, fill it to whatever the marker was on the container with cold/room temperature water and allow it to “drip” around the plug for 8 hours or overnight. The extract it produced in the carafe was then to be refrigerated and used like instant coffee. I was understandably skeptical, but I do love my brother. My first try with it did not go well as somehow I didn’t set it up correctly and had a mess on the counter. I managed that part okay the next time. I don’t recall exactly how much extract was produced, but I think it was enough for about twenty mugs. Much to my surprise, it did make excellent coffee because it provided a smoother taste with no heat in the process of making the extract. On the other hand, it was a “process” to plan out.

I also don’t recall at what point I probably broke the carafe or lost part of the kit in a move, but whatever happened, I didn’t bother to find out how to replace it. Like I said, I don’t know if such a thing still exists, but my brother was correct about it.

Dolphins Are A Go…..

During the Thanksgiving call, son said they did talk to granddaughter about the dolphin encounter and she’s all for it. I wasn’t surprised, but it was important to confirm in case I needed to cancel. When she was younger, there would be adventures she would think about and then change her mind when the time came. Now, we simply have to hope Mother Nature is kind to us from a weather perspective.

Since we will have the 28th, 29th, 30th, and 31st as days, there are multiple options. The dolphins are the 29th and I’m planning the 30th for son and daughter-in-law to have “date day” as granddaughter and I maybe go to the nearby park, have pool time and maybe bake some cookies or brownies. I will have given my vehicle to the kids, so if Hubby is home we can go on some type of adventure. With their flight back scheduled New Year’s evening, there will potentially be a few hours which might include a drive out to the Everglades after a hefty New Years’s Day brunch . At this point we don’t know how much Hubby will have to work even though it is often almost the whole visit. Lots of people come here specifically to dive for the holidays.Other friends in Redland have a New Year’s Day reception and we might all pop around to say hello depending on how everyone is feeling.

I haven’t quite decided on New Year’s Eve menu yet as I’m not certain if we’re having 9, 11, or 13 for the party. I was considering food laid out for constant eating instead of sit-down and am now thinking sit down instead (buffet style). The decision will be easier if we find out Hubby has to work that day. That will impact how much I’ll have to do even though the kids will of course help.