Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Rainy, Restful Day

At 7:30 am it looked like it had rained a little during the night and would soon begin again. Therefore, I delayed breakfast and hopped on the bicycle for a ride around the neighborhood. As mentioned in an earlier post, it is a bit rusty but rides ok. The neighborhood is a great one for the bike as it is mostly level and the only traffic are folks who live here and most of them are thoughtful of walkers and bike riders.

After breakfast I visited our local library picking up a few books and reading today's newspaper. I also read the latest edition of "Rolling Stone". It contained a great interview and article about the actor, Danny DeVito. What a character!
Speaking of characters, this edition also ranks all those who have been cast members on Saturday Night Live over the last four decades. Of course, number one was the talented and funny John Belushi.

I took a wonderful rainy afternoon nap and then the rain let up enough for Mary and I to walk around the neighborhood.

Supper was BBQ chicken sandwiches which I made by pulling chicken off of a supermarket rotisserie chicken and then heating up the shredded chicken with "Sticky Fingers" BBQ sauce. This particular sauce is "Carolina Style" which is mustard based and delicious.

Yesterday I joined the site "Goodreads" and this evening began to understand how to use it as a tool to organize my reading and books.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Sponge Bob, Selma, and Songs

I last posted on Wednesday, February 18th, and I thought it might be time to at least do a summary of the last few days before I forget all we have done. While the folks up north continue to deal with a harsh winter we have experienced some unusually cold temps this past week and then a glorious weekend in the 70's and 80's. It is difficult to accept that we are in the same country.

On Thursday, Dewey came down from Homosassa with his air pump to inflate the tires and some spray to lubricate the chain on the old bicycle here at the house. We soon had it working fine and despite some rust it is an acceptable ride. I've been riding around the neighborhood almost every day and the exercise seems to be helping with the pain in my knee.

In the afternoon we went to the local bargain movie theater where John and Dewey saw the new Sponge Bob film and Mary and I had the opportunity to see "Selma".
I thought that the acting in "Selma" was extraordinary and the film certainly captures the tension and violence of the time. Viewing this film is a sobering reminder of the sacrifice that many have made in the struggle for racial equality and justice.

Thursday evening we tried a new restaurant, Gator's Dockside, in Springhill. We chose to go there because John and I wanted to watch the races from Daytona and we knew there were large screen televisions at this restaurant. 
Following a short wait we were seated in a booth under a large screen which was telecasting a basketball game. I asked the waitress if it could be changed to the race and soon the manager came over and changed the channel for us. We ordered wings and beer and had a very enjoyable evening.

On Friday, we were visited by friends who live in Ocala. Over coffee and cinnamon rolls we shared with them what a nice time we had the previous evening. After hearing our review they wanted to try Gator's Dockside for lunch. We returned to the restaurant and everyone was impressed with the food and the 2 for 1 drinks. We had a great visit with Rich, Louise, Zoe and Rich and sure appreciate them making the drive over to see us. The afternoon warmed up and we were able to sit in the backyard by the canal and enjoy the sunshine and conversation.

Saturday morning Mary had an appointment at the hairdressers in Brooksville. While I waited I went for a walk in Tom Varn Park. 
In the afternoon we visited the Airport Flea market and John had an opportunity to sing some karaoke. He sang a John Denver song.

On Sunday my focus was on watching the Daytona 500 in the afternoon and the Oscar Presentations in the evening. I also cooked a Sweet and Spicy Crusted Chicken for dinner. We served it with fresh steamed broccoli and it was delicious.

Today, Monday, we once again traveled down to Clearwater to attend a concert at Ruth Eckerd Hall. Four very talented singers presented country music in a revue called Live from Nashville. On the way home we had dinner once again at Sweet Tomatoes.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Florida Food and Music

Two of our favorite pastimes during our Winter Sabbatical in Florida is to explore new and favorite eating establishments and to enjoy live music whenever possible. Each of our restaurant experiences this winter have been delightful.

February 8th, Grumpy Gators, Homosassa: On a sunny Sunday afternoon following worship at Nativity Lutheran in Weeki Wachee we headed north on route 19 to Harold's Flea Market. After making a few small purchases we were ready for lunch and I remembered Dewey telling me about a place called Grumpy Gators just a bit north of where we were. Upon we arrival we settled in at a pleasant but dark interior dining room and after ordering we discovered there were tables in the backyard. With the waitresses permission we moved outside and and enjoyed the 60 degree temperature with bright sunshine. We also discovered that they had horseshoe pits set up and soon a fellow customer invited me to play. I did pretty well despite the fact it had been a couple of years since I had pitched horseshoes. Mary had roast beef, John had chicken Parmesan, and I had a fish dinner. It was all delicious.

 Friday the 13th, Sweet Tomatoes in Port Richey: It was a cool yet sunny Friday and we decided to drive south on route 19 to shop at Aldi's and celebrate Valentine's Day by having lunch at our favorite chain restaurant, Sweet Tomatoes, http://www.souplantation.com/. This restaurant has the largest and most varied salad bar I have ever experienced. In addition they offer a variety of soups, pastas, and desserts all at one low price. 

Sunday, February 15th, Sam's in Hudson Beach: On this Sunday we came out of church to sunny skies and temperatures in the 70's. With such a beautiful day we decided to head south on 19 to Hudson Beach and  http://www.samshudsonbeachbar.com/. 

We waited about 30 minutes for a table outside on the deck where we could see the water and hear the live music playing at the Tiki Bar. Our waiter, Angel, was very attentive and treated John with respect and compassion as John ordered a fried chicken club wrap. Mary enjoyed a seafood wrap that was bulging with shrimp and lobster while I ate a catfish dinner. The food was great, the service terrific, and the setting relaxing.

Monday, Feb. 16th, Farmer's Market Restaurant, Webster: On President's Day we decided to make the hour long drive to the famous Webster Flea Market which is only open on Mondays. It was a beautiful sunny morning and traffic came to a crawl over 2 miles from Webster. We finally arrived and lucked into a convenient parking space. This flea market is HUGE and especially on this day as many more vendors then usual had tables set up displaying everything imaginable. After walking and shopping for three hours we were ready for a good lunch. We found it at the country buffet offered on Mondays at the Farmer's Market Restaurant right on the grounds of the market. 

Fried and roasted chicken, roast beef, broiled fish, mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, Brussels sprouts, chili, salad bar, and strawberry shortcake. Delicious and all for $8.95.

Tuesday, Feb. 17th, Pappas in Clearwater: Dewey and Elizabeth picked Mary, John, and I up to take us to Ruth Eckerd hall in Clearwater. The occasion was an early celebration of my 70th birthday next month. We were going to see and hear the Nelson Riddle Orchestra in a Sinatra Centennial Celebration. The show was scheduled for 1:00 pm so we met our friend Ruth Teal at Louis Pappas Market and Cafe, This is an authentic Greek cafe with salads, flat breads, and spannakopitas.

I am certain that we will have some more eating adventures as our time here continues.


Friday, Feb. 13th, Woodview Coffee House, Lecanto: I discovered this venue while searching the internet for concerts. It takes place once a month in a local church fellowship hall. We arrived around 6:15 for the 7:00 show and met Dewey and Elizabeth. Arriving early we were able to find seats in the 2nd row center in what turned out to be a standing room crowd. The admission was only $7.00 and what a bargain it turned out to be. The opener was a Florida singer-song writer named Frank Julian. He offered entertaining songs like Get Off the Main Highway, Songs of Florida, and Don't Be a Weenie whch was John's favorite. Without an intermission the main act took the stage and quickly captured our ears and hearts. This husband and wife duo calls themselves Acoustic Eidelon and they are the most innovative and creative musical artists I have ever heard live. 
Joe and Hannah played mostly original pieces like 75 North Second Street ( a song sung from the perspective of the house that Hannah grew up in), and Stay Awhile (a beautiful love song), and a cover of While my Guitar Gently Weeps. I don't remember ever feeling so emotionally moved by music as I was this night. Here they are doing Stairway to Heaven at a different concert. 

Tuesday, Feb 17th, The Nelson Riddle Orchestra: As mentioned above, Dewey and Elizabeth treated us to this Big Band concert as an early birthday present to me. And what a wonderful gift it was. A sold out audience enjoyed such classics as All the Way, Chicago, I've Got You Under My Skin, and Night and Day. The musical arrangements were so intricate and the soloist, Bryan Anthony, nailed Sinatra's phrasing and laid back style. 

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Manatees, Music, and Munchies

We experienced a fine day yesterday on the Homosassa River with Dewey and Elizabeth. It was one of those ideal "winter" days that we are blessed with on the nature Coast of Florida. The day began in the 40's and with bright sunshine reached the mid-60's. It was a great day to be out on the boat with very clear water for viewing fish and manatees.

We saw about 30 manatees swimming out toward the gulf after seeking warmer water for the night. At one point, Dewey was able to get into the water and swim with a couple.
In the afternoon we docked the boat across from Monkey Island and had lunch. http://www.homosassaflorida.com/tag/monkey-island
Here's a pic of the restaurant where we enjoyed grilled fish, scallops, crabs, sliders, and chicken parmesan with a few beverages. Our table was at the window where we had a great view of the monkeys cavorting on their island.
Following lunch we returned to Dewey and Elizabeth's house where John and Dew played a dozen songs. Dewey has been practicing on the ukele and recently attended a workshop to hone his skills. They certainly sounded great playing together. There is a video of them playing "Home on the Range" on our facebook pages.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Longmire: A Review

This past year Mary and I became fans of Longmire, a crime drama on the A & E network. Actor Robert Taylor plays the title character who is a Sherriff in contemporary Wyoming. His best friend, Henry Standing Bear, is played by Lou Diamond Phillips. Following three seasons on A & E the series was cancelled and has been picked up by NETFLIX. The fourth season is to be available on the streaming network in late 2015.

The source material for the TV show is a series of mysteries written by Craig Johnson. At the library this winter I discovered the latest novel in the series and also a collection of short stories based on the Longmire character. I have been thrilled to discover this author and the world he has created and have now begun to read the series from the beginning.

The first book in the series is titled The Cold Dish and is an intriguing story of revenge. I especially enjoy the relationship between the two best friends and the ways they support and challenge one another. The author also does a fine job introducing and explaining various aspects of Native American Spirituality. The Longmire character doesn't come across as sad or as troubled as he does in the TV series but nevertheless is presented as a very thoughtful and educated man.

Author Tony Hillerman has this to say about the first two books in the series, "The Cold Dish is my top pick for the first novel Edgar Award. It's that good. Now Craig is out with Death Without Company and it's even better. Don't you dare miss it." I found the second book in the series at the library this morning and cannot wait to read it.

Another thing that I like about the series is how Longmire will go on these philosophical musings that reflect on his life and work as a law man. Here is an example.

Somewhere in all this musing, I noticed a fat little snow flake drift across my field of vision and settle against one of the concrete blocks and disappear. There were others, now that I noticed, gently floating through the cooling night air. Scientists say there is a noise that snowflakes make when they land on water, like the wail of a coyote; the sound reaches a climax and then fades away, all in about one ten thousandth of a second. They noticed it when they were using sonar to track migrating salmon in Alaska. The snowflakes made so much noise that it masked the signals of the fish, and the experiment had to be aborted. The flake floats on the water, and there is a little sound below; but, as soon as it starts to melt, water is sucked up by capillary action. They figure the air bubbles are released from the snowflake or are trapped by the rising water. Each of these bubbles vibrates as it struggles to reach equilibrium with its surroundings and sends out sound waves, a cry so small and so high that it's undetectable by the human ear.

These musings lead Longmire to reflect that an awful lot of the voices in my life were so small and high as to be undetectable by the human ear."

Upon reading these words I found myself thinking of all the voices of the homeless, the abused, the hungry, and so many others who do not suffer in silence but in voices that are so small and high as to be undetectable by the human ear. If I could hear those voices the sound might be to painful and piercing to endure.

Sherriff Longmire, an imperfect man of integrity, leans into those voices and attempts to bring justice to those whose cries go unheard by most.

Monday, February 09, 2015

Florida 2015: Week 1

January 30 - February 1 The last few days of traveling were a bit challenging as both Mary and I were both suffering from severe colds with coughing, aching muscles, and low grade temperatures. On Saturday evening we stayed in Columbia, SC. The next morning, as we were preparing to leave the motel room, John experienced a seizure. So we let him rest for awhile before we resumed our traveling.

Saturday evening we arrived at our planned destination of Valdosta, GA. Despite feeling poorly we decided to eat dinner at one of our favorite BBQ places, Smok'n Pig BBQ. http://www.smoknpig.com/index_vld.shtml
Sunday we had planned to stop in Homosassa for lunch with Dewey and Elizabeth but wanted to avoid giving them our colds. Therefore we traveled on through to Weeki Wachee arriving around 2 pm. We only unloaded what we needed for the night, made a quick trip to the grocery store, and watched the Super Bowl.

We were surprised with a few new upgrades to the house which includes a new larger SMART TV in the living room, a queen size bed in the master bedroom, and a new sleeper sofa in the sun room.

Here's a photo taken from our backyard.

February 2 - 6  We kept things very "low-key" this week as we rested, recovered from our colds, unpacked, settled in, and enjoyed the warm temperature and occasional sunshine. Mary's hip was out of alignment following the long drive and was creating a lot of pain for her. On Wednesday we drove about an hour to the town of San Antonio to a chiropractor recommended by our Dr. Kim. It was well worth the drive as Mary left the office pain free. We were close to Dade City where Mary likes to visit a shop, Quilts on Plum Lane. While she shopped I walked around the lovely town and found myself at this magical intersection.
On my walk I came across this lovely café where we later had a lite lunch of tomato basil soup and sandwiches.

On Thursday our wonderful friends, Dewey and Elizabeth, came to visit and help us unpack the luggage that was still on top of the car. The next day I was feeling better and met Dewey and Elizabeth at Homosassa Springs Park for a delightful walk. The birds were very active and were content to let me walk quite close to them and take pics.

 Our first Florida Weekend this Winter: Feb 7 & 8 And what a beautiful weekend it was with sunny skies and temps in the low to mid 70's. We are very aware of how cold and snowy it continues to be up home and feel very blessed to be here. On Saturday we met Dewey and Elizabeth at a Farm and Quilt Show in Dade City. This event was held at one of my favorite museums in this part of Florida,http://www.pioneerfloridamuseum.org/

The main event of the day was a sanctioned horse pulling contest. It was a thrill to see these magnificent animals "do their stuff".
We also toured the various buildings and I enjoyed some kumquat ice cream. Here is a nice pic of Mary and I that Elizabeth took for us.
Sunday was our warmest and sunniest day so far. I made omelets for breakfast and we went to worship at Holy Nativity Lutheran Church here in Weeki Wachee. An assistant to the Bishop of the Florida Bahamas Synod was the guest preacher and he did a fine job. After church we traveled a little ways north to Howard's Flea market where I picked up a new pair of clip on sunglasses and Mary found a couple of dish towels she liked. We then had a late lunch at Grumpy Gator's, a place recommended by Dewey for their prime rib. Mary had the prime rib and loved it. We dined in their backyard under the shade of a canvas cover. They also had horseshoe pits in the backyard and a fellow customer invited me to play a game. It was great fun and something I had not had the opportunity to do in a long while.