The few and mostly infrequent “cold snaps” we get in South Florida bring some real issues and a fair amount of humor. This one, where the temperature plunged to 39 degrees before the day time high of only 63, will be over tomorrow. We have had prolonged snaps of up to two weeks with serious consequences for the tropical fruits and certain animals.
“Iguana Rain” is familiar to anyone who has lived here for a while, but is startling for newcomers. Iguanas of all shapes and sizes roam around, but many also like to be up in trees. When the temperature dips into the low 40s, they “freeze” although it is actually a temporary dormant state unless the low temperatures are extended. They do, however, fall out of the trees and appear to be dead. In cases where people toss them in a garbage can for instance and they recover before the can is emptied, it can make for quite the surprise and mess depending on the size of the iguana and sturdiness of the can.
Iguanas can be a real nuisance with tearing up yards and gardens, so there are people who dislike having them around. We have very few in this neighborhood, and most are fairly small. I did have to slam on the brakes one day to keep from running over a large one in the middle of the street and not in a hurry to finish crossing. Fortunately, there wasn’t a car behind me. The upside to a prolonged cold snap is the likelihood of killing pythons too which of course is a far greater problem here and none of us mind that.
We are a bit concerned for the hummingbird, but he should be okay since we’re only talking about a short time. Hubby did bring the orchids inside though as a precaution.
This is actually a two-item post. In early November, the ShowBiz Entertainment Complex opened in Homestead. We did several articles about it for the paper and it is impressive. The company has quite a few movie theaters in multiple states, but only five of these complexes, and ours is the first one in Florida. When you enter the complex, there are thirteen bowling lanes to the right, an electronic arcade to the left and a full bar in between. In addition to the standard concessions, there’s also an ice cream and coffee bar and a cafe that serves a nice menu. Beyond all this are ten movie theaters; one of which is equipped with a very high tech system, SDX. All the theaters have Dolby sound and big screens though so any of them present quite the experience. I was going to go with Hubby a couple of weeks ago to actually watch a movie, but some kind of last minute crisis interfered. Son and daughter-in-law had “date day” while they were here and went to see Star Wars. The plan to take granddaughter New Year’s Day didn’t come about as other things took priority. Anyway, I finally went with Hubby this week to see Star Wars. The reclining leather seats are quite nice and the fact I could take in my glass of wine was even better. Each seat has not only a cup holder, but also a tray to comfortably hold items.
Now onto the movie. Since we are of an age to have seen the original Star Wars, that puts us in a different category than the kids. I will acknowledge still being somewhat confused with prequels and sequels that make up what I think are now nine movies total. It’s been interesting watching the original stars age as they have and of course the unexpected death of Carrie Fisher three years ago was especially poignant in seeing her on the screen. It’s difficult to know how many young girls have been influenced by her role as Princess Leia. The movie, Rise of Skywalker, was true to the format and the special effects were amazing as always. I really do think it can come to a close now, but Hollywood may well have other ideas.
There was a big crowd for the ShowBiz ribbon cutting.
I’ve mentioned being in the pool is top of our granddaughter’s “visit” list and the weather doesn’t always cooperate. This year was marginal; decent enough temperature to be at least tolerable. I had hoped she would have swimming lessons over the summer, but as it turned out, she resisted the idea. She hates to have water up her nose and hasn’t figured out yet how to prevent that if her face is in the water. I guess they did get her some kind of mask. We got a mask, snorkel, and fins, not certain if they would suit her. She had also outgrown her swim vest and since that is very much a seasonal item in Virginia, there were none available to buy before the kids came down. Despite being assured we, the grown-ups, would make sure she was okay, not having the vest meant she couldn’t be independent. I had to go run some errands the first afternoon and “Grandpa” was going to be in the pool with her and teach her to use the mask, snorkel and fins. I promised I would find a vest for her the following day. When I returned later, however, I was told there was no need for a vest as she had swum on her own. Huh?
Apparently, she took to the fins and as Grandpa held her up, she at some point pulled away from him and made it several feet unassisted. With that boost of confidence, she wanted to do more. She keeps her head above water and hasn’t quite figured out how to do anything with her hands except dog paddle, but it works. She was all excited and the next day when I was in the pool with her, it was more of the same. Our set-up is the hot tub is elevated a bit above the pool with the “waterfall” into the pool. She’s tall enough to stand up in the hot tub and also at the bottom of the steps into shallow part of the pool. She refers to the hot tub as the “little pool” and likes to move back and forth between them. She very quickly understood how to “shuffle” in the fins and carefully step into each pool. It was fascinating to watch her and hopefully by next summer, she’ll be ready for real lessons.
We were watching one of the Science channel shows the other day and there was discussion of sand storms. Having lived in West Texas for three years, hard wind and dust devils were fairly common. Having grown up in the Deep South, tornadoes were common and in fact, I had a car damaged once when serious hail was dumped by a tornado that fortunately didn’t tear too much up. When we were in Desert Storm, sand storms took on a whole new meaning. Watching a towering “devil” in the distance would definitely get your attention. When a storm hit though, it tended to do so with little warning. We never had the prolonged ones so there weren’t mounds of sand to dig out from, but the wind was ferocious. There were times when large tents would be yanked out of the pegs and basically twisted or collapsed inward. And of course, you’d be brushing sand out of all kinds of places for quite some time.
Another aspect was issues driving because most of the bases set up were not on roads and despite the lack of elevation, flat didn’t mean without “bumps”. The way the sand shifted around, even if the sand was flat rather than rippled, that didn’t mean it was solid. The command had to issue an order for the HMMVs (Hummers) to be restricted to 45 miles per hour cross-country because of so many over-turns when drivers hit an unstable surface at too high a speed. The vehicles are designed to manage all sorts of terrain, but driven in a controlled fashion.
The sand also retained a fair amount of heat and that was why cots were used as opposed to the standard of just putting sleeping bags on the ground. The several inches of clearance between the sand and the bottom of the cot made a major difference in the ability to sleep. Interesting memories of all that.
You can imagine the fun I had with the article about the new Oceans Sirens Mermaid Academy found at http://www.southdadenewsleader.com/news/ariel-and-aquaman-you-ve-got-company/article_8096b1dc-17ca-11ea-abad-8b4cfba390e4.html
Aside from the fact I did use free diving to stage a murder (sort of) in my first scuba-themed mystery (Shades of Murder), I’ve never been inclined to go through training for free diving (also known as breath hold). Also setting aside the people who train for making/breaking records, 4 to 5 minutes underwater is more the standard for a trained free diver. While that may not seem like a long time, it does give you a nice interaction on a reef or the ability to spear a fish if that’s your thing. Part of taking a scuba course does also involve (or used to) one quick lesson in free diving. It isn’t much in the way of training; more to give you the sensation. There is a little bit of crossover in both types of diving in the sense that how long you can stay underwater on scuba is a function of depth and air consumption. (Those who know this can skip or bear with me). The deeper you dive on scuba, the shorter the amount of time you can stay at depth because of the risk of decompression sickness (DCS or “the bends”). You will also need to save enough air for a 3-5 minute safety stop during your ascent from anything lower than 50 feet as another precaution against DCS. But if you are diving shallow around thirty feet, how rapidly you use air is the main factor in how long you can remain underwater. In general, the more you can relax underwater, the slower you breath and therefore extend your time. The most important difference in free diving and scuba is you absolutely should not hold your breath while on scuba due to potential pressure on your lungs.
Anyway, even though I choose the “techno mermaid” option of scuba as opposed to free diving, I am thrilled with the idea of having a mermaid school close by.
While I don’t do much “grandma” stuff on the blog, our granddaughter will be in her first Nutcracker performance this year – part of the Mouse Army, as is common. She actually was in the Spring performance in June as a “chick” and apparently the kinder ballet instructor is having to explain to the budding ballerinas that these are different movements.
At any rate, I remember when my sister and I guess it was another mom took young sons to their first Nutcracker in Houston. It was a gala affair with getting dressed up and enjoying either dinner before or perhaps it was ice cream treats after in addition to the wonder of the experience. (That has been quite a while ago.) For reasons that I don’t exactly recall; probably because we had back-to-back overseas assignments, our son didn’t attend his first Nutcracker until he was in middle school in Hawaii. He enjoyed it and somewhat ironically, he didn’t seem enamored of it. I don’t think the later “spark” was initiated that evening, but who knows if there was a lingering impact. I’ve lost count of the number of times he has now been in Nutcrackers and doing the Russian Dance for Delta Festival Ballet in New Orleans was his first professional appearance as in someone paid him. He generally dances at least two and sometimes three each season, although this year it’s only one, plus “A Christmas Carol” for a studio that often calls on him. There is a scheduling conflict with New Orleans, so he won’t be able to join them this year. On the other hand, that means he isn’t flying back on Christmas Eve for a change. That will make the week of Christmas a bit less hectic for them.
Granddaughter dressed up for the first ballet she attended.
For those not familiar with our geographic situation, we live about two miles from the Homestead-Miami Speedway. There are only two accesses into our gated community; one from a primary street leading to the Speedway and the other is around to the side. During the three days of NASCAR racing, traffic is terrible. Due to a circumstance of timing, this year is even worse because of construction on two major streets. Those of us who live here are coping as best we can with the daily inconvenience and the correct answer from yesterday until around noon on Monday is be off the streets by 11:00 a.m. Due to extra commitments Thurs and Fri, there was no way to get to the grocery store until this morning. I managed to get there and back before 10:30. With Hubby shooting for the paper – something he absolutely loves as I have previously explained – he is at the Speedway for around ten hours each day with literally miles of walking in going from spot-to-spot. As a member of the press, he has access to the media center where they have food and beverage. However, it’s more of a grab something in between events and the chance to have a real meal is limited. By that same measure, it’s difficult to know exactly when he will get back home. Once the race ends, there is the post-race ceremony, then traffic. Friday night is of course pizza night and that’s easy enough to heat up when he finally makes it in.
Tonight is somewhat complicated because we will have company and the scheduled time to eat around 7:30 is probably doable. The menu though is such that everything can “hold” if needs be for a later start. At the moment, a pot of a sort of stew is cooking to be cooled and put into the other refrigerator. That will be for tomorrow night as it re-heats pretty quickly. The other rule is all comfort food. What Hubby doesn’t know is it will include apple pie as a special treat.
I have mentioned before how we had not expected to be assigned to Italy. There are very few Army installations as most are Navy and Air Force. Notwithstanding the charm of living in a seaside village for 18 months in Tuscany, the jobs we had were intense and did not allow nearly as much time for travel as we might have wished. On the other hand, when you are in the virtual heart of Tuscany, you don’t have to travel far to enjoy yourself.
Anyway, as I’ve also mentioned, we learned how incredibly regional cuisine is, and one of the sauces we were not familiar with was Amatriciana. In it’s simplest form, crisp up diced pancetta, remove it from the pan. Use the rendered fat to saute onions and garlic, add tomatoes, a splash or so of wine, red pepper if desired, add pancetta back in, stir thoroughly and serve over pasta.
I often use the “party trays” for events that come with cheese and salami, etc., A few years ago as I was looking at the leftovers, I decided to do a variation of this sauce. I had salami, pepperoni, and ham. I thin sliced rather than diced. I crisped everything up and set that aside. I used one can of tomatoes,but in addition to garlic and onion, I added sun dried tomatoes and some roasted red peppers (we almost always have a jar in the fridge). In the way of most Italian sauces, this one is not long cooking. This can cook for as little as ten minutes before putting the meat back in. Give it a good stir, and cook another couple of minutes before serving over pasta. I didn’t give proportions, but one can of tomatoes basically manages enough sauce for 2-3 servings of pasta. In our case, I use a fair amount of meat, but that isn’t necessary.
Ah, there are often “ripple effects” that impact our plans and November is a prime example. The big scuba trade show is held in Orlando every other year and we always go. It’s a great time to meet up with people we sometimes only see there, attend interesting seminars, enjoy Orlando restaurants, and we often add on a day or two to do something at either Disney or Universal. We were all set to make our reservations when Hubby realized they changed the dates by a week this year for reasons that I don’t know. That put it in direct conflict with the NASCAR Championship Week. Aside from the fact Hubby loves to cover this, NASCAR has decided to rotate the Championship in the same way as other major sports. This will be the last time it’s held in Homestead for the foreseeable future since there are 22 other tracks where NASCAR runs. Therefore, there was no way the scuba show could have a higher priority. We’ll put out a Facebook post soon to let all our dive buddies know we won’t be around this year.
Next up are Thanksgiving plans. Our tradition is to go to Covington to see Hubby’s family. The ripple effect this time is going to be availability of that group due to some medical issues (nothing life-threatening) and other travel plans. I’m still trying to get a handle on all that. There are also multiple events here in November, some of which are overlapping although most just require some tricky scheduling.
Lastly is my anticipated publishing of, “Small Town Quilting Treasures”, the final of four books in the series. The editor had some events occur which delayed that process and it is highly questionable if I can do a Thanksgiving release. I didn’t have my heart set on that one, so I will simply adjust to whatever makes sense once I know what all has to be done with the manuscript.
As I have previously posted, Hubby is the big football fan,but I’ve come to appreciate it more since watching with him. However, being in a traditionally male career included understanding enough about football to “join in” during social events that included watching a game. Also, when one grows up with a hometown/home state team, there is often a certain degree of fondness. I do believe I may have indeed posted about the Saints several years ago. New Orleans is a great place to visit and I did set “Georgina’s Grief” there and it does feature in some chapters in the upcoming, “Small Town Quilting Treasures.”
The team, though, does not have a long history of being a winning team. There was a time when faithful, yet sparse fans donned paper bags with “Ain’ts” written on them rather than Saints. On the other hand, New Orleans is a party city and partying in consolation works almost as well as celebration. They once hired a well-known coach to try and turn the team around. I knew it would not be a good fit because from my perspective, the individual simply didn’t have a compatible attitude with the fans. He was a good coach, by the way; just not the right one for New Orleans. Then along came the current coach and Drew Brees. I always find it fascinating when one or two individuals can have such a tremendous impact. There are those though who can definitely, “bring out the best” in people, or in this case, a team. Don’t get me wrong, there were other players and staff brought in to build on success, yet the real catalyst was Brees. Now, there is the other notable individual – Teddy Bridgewater – who’s stepped in when Brees was injured in only the second game. For people who knew his background, his superb performance is perhaps not too much of a surprise. For the rest of us, it has been. More importantly, the entire team seems to have stepped forward to prove they do not depend only on Brees. They won again yesterday on the road and have in fact won every game since Brees’s injury. Will it carry them through? Hard to say, but at least for now, they are on a roll.