Been Ages…..

Okay, so IĀ had to bring Hubby up for an appointment. As it turns out, the facility has absolutely no place to wait. I can understand the business decision not to include a spot, but the individual providing information to the patient could have had the courtesy to explain this. However, I had intended to go somewhere for the 2+ hours, and then I remembered. A Barnes and Noble was about 15 minutes away and I haven’t been here in years. Despite being sorry that Borders didn’t survive, it is nice to know B&N did. I am having a coffee and resisting the pastries although I will get one or two for Hubby when I leave. He had to fast since 10 p.m., and something packed with sugar ought to make him smile later. Oh, this is nothing serious; just one of those routine things.

Anyway, I always get him magazines as stocking stuffers and will take care of that task. I mostly buy e-books now as we have packed all our bookshelves. I will also try to resist buying real books while here. Probably the only was to do that is not look. Continuing on……If I had thought about going to B&N last week, I wouldn’t have ordered one present for granddaughter to have under the tree when they arrive. There were only about 30 things I could have gotten her at B&N. I did buy one small thing and I do now have magazines. Hubby opted for the chocolate chunk cookie when I picked him up and the banana nut bread slice can be for later. I really wasn’t expecting traffic in Kendall to be so busy at the time on a Thursday. On the other hand, I haven’t been up for a while. At least the drizzle stopped on my way back to pick up Hubby and we seem to be done with that for the day.

Rain in the Sunshine State……

In an unusual twist, we are in our fourth day of rain and gray skies, plus significant winds at times. A number of holiday events have been postponed or cancelled and most of us are trying to stay tucked in. As annoying as this is – and I always feel badly for events that have been planned and have to be changed – the fact is we had a mild hurricane season. The other factor is visitors who came here and cannot enjoy the outdoor activities, which of course impacts the businesses as well.

Our hope, of course, is that not only will “normal winter” return, but we that we also get a little extra warmth so granddaughter can enjoy the pool as much as she wants. She is of a height and age now one of us doesn’t have to be in the water with her if she doesn’t want a companion. Kids can generally be fine in water a few degrees cooler than we adults. Last year was the best in a while and there was really only one afternoon I was uncomfortable. I am usually the one in the water with her as Hubby is often working and the kids like to have a bit of a break.

The other point of good weather is because most of the options we’re looking at are outdoor activities – after all, that is why people come to Florida in the winter. I think I mentioned previously I especially want to take granddaughter to Coral Castle; she’s the perfect age for it. She is curious about things like it and is still the right age to enjoy climbing all over the “furniture” made of coral stone. Hubby is supposed to be off two days for a change because otherwise, we’ll have to juggle a vehicle in order to let the kids have a “date day”. Now with the Nutcracker done – and it apparently went well – they will give some thought to what activities they want to do.

Menu Planning….

Ah, the holidays and extra to plan for. There’s Christmas Eve meal, dinner with the kids and the neighbor on their second night, then the New Year’s Eve party, New Year’s Day and probably out for lunch on the 2d; the last day the friend is here. This is the only time of the year when I consistently make hot breakfasts. This allows the adult kids to sleep in – granddaughter and I are the early birds. She gets cereal as “early breakfast” although at times she only wants milk, then it’s for real breakfast later. Weather permitting all meals are of course taken on the terrace.

Sushi is generally the first night out and dinner with the neighbor is normally pork chops and lamb chops because daughter-in-law loves lamb, but son and neighbor don’t care for it.The other two nights out will depend on mood. White Lion is a favorite because of the decorations as well as food and setting, but Exit One Taproom has possibility, too. The Hotel could be in the running, as can Capri. We’ll play those by ear.

For the first time ever, I am picking up catered dinner for New Year’s Eve. We’ve done sit-down, then just large quantities of something like sliders, along with shrimp cocktail, salmon, and three-four more heavy appetizers. This year is a brisket meal with limited appetizers – we’ll do those – before the buffet. After the main meal, I’ll put out the charcuterie and sweets just to have something for people to nibble on in the run-up to midnight.

Back to Christmas Eve. It will be the two of us and it’s usually seafood. We’ll probably do carryout from either Krab Kingz in Florida City or Red Crab. Messy, but good in either case. Christmas Day will be late lunch/early dinner – depending on how one views the time – and Hubby and I aren’t actually preparing food for this one. I will go over early to help with prep and keep wine poured for the hostess.

On the Sideline With Photography….

Just as I don’t “proud mom/grandma” too much in my posts, I also don’t often “proud wife” even though I do frequently mention Hubby. Today is the exception. I’m not the world’s worst photographer, but I’m not very good either. (Granted, the sophistication of today’s smart phones significantly help.) My husband bought his first underwater housing for a camera for scuba in the latter months we were in Puerto Rico. He took some photos in becoming adjusted to the camera and then there was a lapse during the process of our move to here. He didn’t do much with photography for a while, but this is a wonderful environment for photography.

Fast forward a few years as he did more, bought new cameras and lenses, learned the computer software for processing, printing techniques and so forth. When they established the South Florida National Parks Camera Club within Homestead Center for the Arts, that was major step as was his designation to become the primary photojournalist for our community paper. While teaching scuba is still a priority focus, photography comes in close. He of course especially loves shooting motorsports and spends much of his leisure time in the Everglades. His range is amazing and for the second year he’s exhibited at the Artz305 event one of the County Commissioners sponsors the first weekend of December. In fact, last month, he sold a couple of pieces at another event. I don’t try to understand how he does what he does, especially when it comes to printing on canvas and on metal. I admit I’m not overly enthused when he photographs insects and he makes sure not to show me any he does of spiders. Aside from that, I love his work and not long ago, we did install a gallery hanging system in the front room to accommodate more of his pieces. He has been on a couple of photography trips and that’s why we have some from areas like the Smoky Mountains.

All That Techy Stuff….

This is not exactly rambling, merely an interesting observation. As I have mentioned on multiple occasions, my technical abilities are limited. Hubby has learned the mutteringsĀ  or even first volley of curses coming from my office might not warrant immediate offers of help. He does call out and it is often more my error – or the way the computer does those weird things like the cursor jumps around causing me to inadvertently delete sentences or passages. Not being able to locate a file is another frustration. I will go into his office to ask him to come over, or in the case of me being on the computer really early, I’ll explain the issue as we are having our first mug of coffee together. He can, in general, fix the problem or explain what I’m doing wrong.

Shifting into another associated world is that of social media. I’m marginal with Facebook and am routinely puzzled by it. I’m also marginal on Twitter – now X or whatever. I guess I have a Pinterest account set up by someone and have never used it. I don’t have Instagram, YouTube, nor any of the many others and I am fiercely opposed to even logging on to TikTok. I do go onto YouTube at times. From a financial perspective, I do have Square although it’s been so long since I’ve done a transaction, I’m not sure how to do so any more. Hubby has Venmo and I think he finally added Zelle because so many people use it. I can’t bring myself to do any of those.

The fact is all of this changes so much and so often I don’t have the desire to learn how to do it. I’ll probably be forced into a few more things as the “old-fashioned way” can become literally obsolete. After all, I do still have a bunch of hard disks with files and no idea of how those could be accessed. Oh, speaking of changes, it never occurred to me our new vehicles would not have CD players. We listen to audio books when we travel and the first time we were going to take a trip in the new truck, Hubby explained we couldn’t do CDs any more. He has the deal where he downloads audio books and then plugs his phone into the truck to play them. Once again, I have yet to make that happen on my phone. Maybe that can be a task for the new year.

Double Turkeys……

Okay, this year is definitely a bit different. While we frequently travel to Georgia for Thanksgiving, this is a year when we had already planned not to. When we stay here, we usually go over to friends who live in a neighborhood we could walk to if we weren’t carrying a platter of fried turkey. (Our contribution to the feast).

As it turns out, the unexpected loss of a friend added another aspect. The friend had been struggling with health issues, however, the rapid decline last month took us all by surprise. The couple has no children nor family nearby. I’ve been helping a fair amount and for those who have ever suffered a loss right before the holidays, it can be especially difficult. In order to try and bring some semblance of “normal”, we’ll have Thanksgiving lunch at our place for this friend, a neighbor, and another friend who will travel for Christmas, but be alone this week. Nothing elaborate and that will still provide time for Hubby to do the second turkey for the late afternoon at our other friends.

I’ll do a traditional roasted turkey with only the basics for noon – turkey, ham, dressing, kicked-up mashed potatoes, rolls, and apple pie. Friends are bringing cranberry sauce, green beans in some form, and cheesecake. Timing the oven temperature will involve putting the apple pie into the oven between 7:30-8:00 in order to get it done, then turn the temp down to 325 to manage everything else. It will also mean making the herb butter the evening before as Hubby does the chopping and I don’t want him to have to deal with that part on Thanksgiving morning. Oh, I’m not doing the dressing from scratch – am using one of the Publix ones from the deli case. Also not doing potatoes from scratch (never do). Those are again refrigerator ones that I add butter, sour cream, maybe milk, salt and pepper and bake for approximately half an hour.

I will remember to pick up cold slaw and potato salad at Publix today though for Hubby to have to go with turkey sandwiches later.




Orlando Trip, Day 1……

Trip up was as good as can be expected; no accidents or back-ups. Staying at a different hotel at Universal – the Portofino Bay. Lovely, but massive. Might need to get some breadcrumbs to drop to find way around. We have the fine dining restaurant tonight as it is our 35th anniversary. Will report on that in the morning.

Coincident of timing. We stopped for lunch at one of the Turnpike plazas. Granddaughter sometimes Facebook messages us on Sundays and she did at exactly the best time she could have. Hubby was waiting for sandwiches and I was at the table. She wanted to swap to Facetime so we traded off. I talked to her while Hubby at half his sandwich, then we swapped. Turns out science is still her favorite subject and she is now trying jazz for dance. She thinks she will like that better than ballet and tap and quite frankly, I can see that considering how active she tends to be.

Anyway, we’re headed down shortly to stop by the Universal desk to pickup our park tickets, then get oriented. This hotel is on the far end of the complex and the opposite side of where we have previously stayed. The water taxi goes to the parks and there is a walking trail which is about 3/4 of a mile. We’ll go down for dinner at 7:15, so if we have time, we’ll go over to Citywalk which is where the shops, non-Hotel restaurants, etc., are. Margaritaville will be a stop depending on a couple of things. After all, a good way to toast Jimmy’s legacy. If not this afternoon, we’ll catch it tomorrow or Tuesday.

Tomorrow will be our only early start as there is the newest Harry Potter ride that doesn’t take the Express Pass, so we have to take advantage of the early entrance for those staying in the on-site hotels.

Plenty of Candy…..

With everything going on, we haven’t decorated for Halloween this year although some of the neighbors have been creative. I did pick up the usual quantity of multiple bags of candy as we get lots of trick or treaters. Hubby will post a few photos to Facebook no doubt. They do range in age from toddler to teenager and we don’t mind that. Sometimes the older ones are bringing young one around and other times, they may just be hanging on to a last bit of childhood for a few hours.

Hubby teases me some, but I have two candy bowls. The one with the most is the good chocolate/nut stuff and I have a second smaller one with no chocolate and no nuts just in case. Speaking of food, we will have a steady stream of visitors from around 5:30 to 9:00. We usually have dinner at 7:30 while watching Jeopardy and with one of us having to answer the door every few minutes, we will fix tuna etouffee tonight. Since it’s a stew-like meal, it will stay hot between bites.

I do tend to try and err on the side of too much rather than too little candy and we do have a bag or so left over at times. It has been known to last until nearly Christmas. On the other hand, I am supposed to make sure there is a bag – or at least most of a bag – of Butterfingers for Hubby to enjoy for later. That mostly works out. Sometimes he prefers Snickers as leftover, but not this year.

I am also okay with all the places that choose to have some sort of event for kids rather than have them go to houses. Oh, and I do have a few friends whose favorite holiday is Halloween and they go all out whether with decorations, costumes, or party. None happen to be in this neighborhood; I know I’ll be seeing FB posts tomorrow from them.



Doctors and Other…..

Recent events and a conversation yesterday led me to thinking about the whole doctors, health, etc., Not about the abysmal health/medical costs in this country – well, that is perhaps tangential, but also a topic I won’t venture into.

At some point in our lives we all eventually make health and life style choices. Granted, there are households where healthy eating is not practiced and as I have posted before, growing up when I did in small towns, it was basic fare. Good and nutritious although I do have a friend who can’t comprehend those of us who used bacon grease as a prime ingredient. Anyway, once you reach a certain age or change in your environment, you can decide to also change the way you eat. Expand your tastes, become some variety of vegetarian – or whatever. The same with drinking, smoking, exercising; general factors that affect health. While there are people who genuinely don’t understand how these things are related, that is also a topic for another time (if ever).

In my case, as much as I disliked running, it was a requirement throughout my Army career. I’m fine with walking and once I retired, I swapped from one to the other. After an injury to my knee a number of years ago, I swapped from walking to a stationary recumbent bicycle. Like most women in my family, I struggle with my weight and I’m pretty sure I’ve posted about that before. I did start smoking during college and quit 6 or 7 years later when I was pregnant. I was never addicted and quitting wasn’t difficult. As for drinking, let’s say I definitely don’t agree with the medical profession’s general advice of only one drink a day. (I also suspect few of them adhere to that).

All right, barring genetic issues – and those cannot be discounted – as we get older, we will develop things we didn’t have to deal with in our younger years and taking medication is part of that. In some cases, making lifestyle changes can help, and in other cases, “better living through chemistry” is the answer – or the choice. I have issues with “Big Pharma”, but at the same time, there are simply things I enjoy that I don’t want to give up. And so, my follow-up to the doctor this morning means I will be taking yet another prescribed medication instead of continuing to rely on a supplement that no longer seems to be adequate. Sigh!!!

Services Needed Of Course……

Naturally, in a week when I am jammed up with lots of extra tasks, my Escape, “Change Engine Oil Soon”, notice came on and the AC people called to schedule a service. Hubby could have taken the Escape in as usual, however, I needed him to do something else. He couldn’t be here for the AC service which is going on as I type this. Now, when the AC runs approximately 360 days per year, skipping a service is unwise. That happened last year because it was when Daddy was failing and during one of my trips, they left a voice mail about setting up a time and quite frankly, I forgot to do it. Skipping the service meant the drain did back up which later led to a leak. It’s just one of those realities to be dealt with.

Back to changing the oil. Again, with today’s digital features in vehicles, you no longer have to do the thing of, “Okay, I’ve driven X-number of miles or in the case of low mileage, it’s been X-months since oil change”. On the other hand, when the notice comes up, that gives you only 2-3 days before the notices switches to “Change Engine Oil now!” Anyway, we usually combine that with some other service that needs to be done and go to the dealer. In other cases, such as yesterday, we use Jiffy Lube. I’m old enough to remember when Jiffy Lube first opened as a company. It was a startling idea and naturally, there were people who didn’t think it could work. This is one of the reasons capitalism and free enterprise are great. They proved the concept and then, as is almost always the case, other similar companies sprang up although Jiffy Lube still has the greatest market share.

The techs were efficient and polite and while I was there a bit longer than at other times, I did have my Kindle with me. Oh, one slightly amusing thing. The guy finishing the service had to talk me through re-setting the Escape’s “memory” to let it know the oil had been changed.