It’s been a pretty busy week for us. Last Thursday we popped over to the Elks for Mexican night (and we’re going back for it again tonight)…then Connie worked some on Friday. The weekend was spent wrapping presents and generally getting ready for the holidays…with a side trip up to Punta Gorda about 25 miles north of here for a Seminole Campground sponsored trip on the local canals to see the Christmas Lights. We got up there about 1830 or so and had a beer in a pub at the Marina…Neil sampled a really great Milk Stout from the Left Hand Brewing Company that we’re going to try next time. Milk Stout is pretty much like normal stout except that it has some lactose (milk sugar) added to it. Lactose doesn’t get changed into alcohol by the yeast in the brewing process like the normal sugar in the barley does…so it gives the final brew a lot of hints of hot chocolate and cocoa flavor. Quite good actually. After that we went on the boat Good Times for a 90 minute or so tour up and down the local canals to see the lights the various homeowners had put out on the canal side of their houses. Lots of 4 million plus houses and nice big yachts moored in this area…we definitely couldn’t afford to live there even if we wanted to…but the houses are just way too big for us and we would rattle around in them after getting used to our 350 square feet house on wheels.
Connie had her final choir practice on Monday afternoon then Tuesday we headed off for the Christmas Vigil Mass…they don’t do Midnight Mass here, I guess the old people can’t stay up that late. There was a half hour chorale concert by the choir before Mass…the church was packed to the gills but things went off pretty well, except for the first song where the men and women forgot that they were supposed to sing *together*. We came home after Mass…our original idea was to eat at Hogbody’s but they were closed so we ended up with some Mushroom Stuffed Ravioli out of the freezer.
Went to bed early and got up early as we had to be back at church for the 0845 Mass…yup, the choir got to sing twice. Father Tom even had a different sermon than he gave the afternoon before…we really like this priest as he’s down to earth, really likes people and gives good sermon.
After Mass we came home and opened our presents…which mostly consisted of things we needed although Connie did get a nice new dress watch to replace her broken one and Neil got an iPad Mini with Retina to go along with his iPad Air. The smaller model is much lighter than even the air and since he reads books a lot on it will make a perfect book reading device for him and overnight travel computer as well…it easily fits in the pocket of his preferred outfit of cargo shorts.
Christmas dinner was a 2.5 inch ribeye steak. Since we were baking the taters, carrots, and ‘shrooms in the Breville oven he put it on the grill to sear then wrapped it in foil and raised it off the grill surface so it could more bake than just grill…otherwise it would have been burnt on the outside before the center was up to medium rare. To top off the beef and veggies he made a sauce with beef stock, wine, and mirepoix (that’s chopped carrots, onions, and pork fat…Andouille sausage in this case). All of that baked with the veggie and then he mixed in some previously roasted garlic cloves and a bit of steak sauce. Poured all of that over the beef and veggies and it was yummy…along with a nice bottle of Malbec wine (Malbec is a grape that almost exclusively grows in South America, mostly Argentina). Here’s a snapshot Connie took of our dinner.
Following dinner Neil built us a campfire out in our fire ring and we sat around watching the flames and eating Petit Fours. Once the fire died in we went in and watched TV until bedtime.
I’m also happy to announce that Ozzie and Harriet’s two eggs have both hatched…one on Christmas Eve and the second on Christmas Day. The chicks are named e3 and e4 so far…but I’m sure they’ll have names soon. You can check them out at Southwest Florida EagleCam. Neil will try to get down in a day or three and see if we can get some pictures of them, although the eaglets themselves won’t be able to be seen from the ground for probably at least 3-4 weeks until they grow a bit and start to move around a little more.
We had some email with Neil’s sister MJ and brother Ron yesterday and chatted with MJ as well. We also talked to their human kid Bryan and his bride Jen…Bryan hasn’t mailed his Christmas packages out yet…he was overcome by work he says. He’s moving into management a bit at Sears, he’s over all the cashiers and you know how that is during the holidays.
While I was sitting out on the patio writing this post Connie (she’s a great spotter) saw a hawk fly into the woods behind the site across from us; here’s a picture of a Red Shouldered Hawk sitting over in the woods. It’s a rear view only, it didn’t turn around and there’s a creek that kept him from getting any closer. It was literally 30 or 40 yards from us…across the road, through site 80, and then maybe 20 yards across the creek.
Here are some shots from our boat tour to see the lights. Sorry they’re not as well focused as they could be…but we were on a moving boat and it was dark. Neil did all he could by pushing the ISO on the camera as high as it would go. They will give you a sense of how gorgeous the show was…we really liked it a lot.