Saturday, December 21, 2013

‘Twas the week before Christmas

December 15-21, 2013
Cortez, Florida
Holiday Cove RV Resort

With the countdown before Christmas on, we have managed to stay a little busier than usual.  I started to feel that sense of panic that seems to creep in every year about being ready for Christmas—even though it is more irrational than usual as we have cut way back on what we used to do for Christmas when we had a stick and brick home.  Our main priority are the five grandkids and our four kids—other than that we don’t exchange much anymore. We are lucky to be able to choose from a list for the three boys and all the ordering is done on-line. That’s it. The girls are at the age where gift cards seem to be the best choice, plus we always try to find something unique to include with them. Also for me, it never feels like Christmas unless I spend at least one day covered with flour. My tradition is to make Hungarian cookies (kolackys) and some type of holiday bread. Fortunately, I taught my oldest son (who will be celebrating with his dad, step-mom, and step-sister in Oregon) how to make these traditional cookies, so I am not sending them to Oregon anymore. My youngest son, however, is spending Christmas in Omaha without family, so I sent off a box of goodies to him on Monday. 


A big part of Christmas when we lived in Oregon was decorating like crazy and having a big party for about 50 people, plus other small gatherings at our house over the holidays. Here are a few photos of our Oregon abode at Christmas.


My mother would almost always fly to Oregon from Florida to be with me and her two grandsons.  It could get a little hectic trying to pull all this off while teaching up to just a few days before Christmas. I was also the high school yearbook advisor and invariably one of our biggest deadlines was right before Christmas. I lived close to the school, so I would be running back and forth to the computer lab where my four editors would be madly trying to proofread stories and edit photos which I would then have to double-check before sending. Fun times. In comparison, here I sit in 80 degree weather with plans to spend a couple hours at the pool later this afternoon. Since it’s Saturday night, we will probably go find some fresh seafood and live music at a local waterfront cafe later this evening. It’s good to remember the contrast in appreciation of retirement!

We have been lucky this past week to have had some fun social times too.  Last Friday night, we met Jeannie and Eldy (of Where’s Eldo fame) at Ocean Blues in Sarasota. We first met them briefly in Montana during our first week of full-timing, then finally had the chance to get together with them last year a couple times here in Florida. Jeannie (aka Sparky) wrote about Ocean Blues several times on her blog as she and Eldy frequented this blues and jazz bar on Monday nights to see their friend Steve Arvey play. I learned that Betty Fox, a singer I like very much, was playing there, so we made a date to meet.  Our nearby friends, Mike and BJ, also joined us for a fun evening of live music. It was great to catch up with Jeannie and Eldy and learn firsthand how they like their off the road lifestyle in their new home.  I neglected to take a photo of us, but I did get one of Betty and her band.  She was awesome and Vic and I even danced a few numbers.

betty fox at ocean blues

Other social events were having a southern-style holiday breakfast at our friends’ Diane and Steve’s outdoor patio. Diane decorated the whole table for Christmas and served her famous biscuits and gravy and tea ring—plus offered Mimosas and Bloody Marys.  Mike and BJ joined us too—the four of them will be gone for Christmas, so we had to get in a celebration breakfast. 

Vic’s sister, Sandy, was also in the area this week as she typically attends the December Eukanuba Dog Show in Orlando. She raises Portuguese Water Dogs and had one dog, Nicky, in the show (our dog Jetta’s nephew). Amazingly, a Portuguese Water Dog named Matisse earned best of show. Too bad it wasn’t “our” Nicky as the prize was $50,000!  After the show, Sandy rented a car and came to Bradenton where her daughter lives. She was also able to sneak in a few evenings with us.The night before she flew back to San Jose, I made a holiday dinner for our friends and Sandy. I decided to make a meal that I might make at Christmas: stuffed pork loin, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce with cherries and port wine, etc.  With a great salad from BJ and rich fudge brownies from Diane--we had a good gathering.  (Diane and Steve arrived a little later, so they didn’t make it into the photo.)

On the topic of social gatherings, I forgot to include that the six of us (Diane, Steve, Mike, BJ, and us) went to the Bradenton Beach Christmas Celebration and Boat Parade together. They had live music, lots of craft booths, sales in the shops on Bridge Street, all capped off with a small holiday boat parade. My boat photos did not turn out (need to read that manual someday) but here is a glimpse of the festivities.

I also spent the day in the Tampa area on Thursday as I drove my sister-in-law to the airport, picked up my brother from the airport, and joined five other family members for dinner to celebrate my aunt’s 78th birthday. It’s nice to be close enough (about 70 miles) to be able to see my family in Zephyrhills for these special occasions. We will also be joining a rather large group at my niece’s for Christmas Eve—which I am thankful for as both Vic and I really miss our own kids and grandkids at this time of year. (We have vowed to join them on the West Coast next year this time.)

The last highlight of the week was finally getting out for an invigorating bike ride. My goal is to be able to bike 20 miles easily.  Our friend Steve is really getting into biking here and he inspired us to do a loop that he recommended.  It was only 12 miles, but that’s a good start for us.

palma sola bike ride

As you can see from the map, this ride has lots of pretty scenery with all the water nearby.   We found a lovely park on the way that we used for a rest stop. Gotta take time to watch the pelicans!

pelican at palma sola park

park rest stop on bikes

When we were just a mile from “home,” we stopped for an ice cold beer at one of the local tiki bars on the Gulf. Sure is a lovely place to spend an afternoon.

beer break at tiki bar

tiki bar break

Now that you are really feeling sorry for us stranded here on the beach in Florida, I will close with wishes for HoLiDaY MaGiC to fill your hearts this Christmas season. Hold those loved ones close. 


  1. That parade looks like a ton of fun.

    I can tell by just looking at the bike route that it is going to be a beautiful ride. All the gorgeous

    Wishing you two a Merry Christmas!

  2. Sounds like a week packed with lots of fun, friends, and family! Your breakfast setting with friends looked really nice. What a great idea! And your Christmas dinner sounds yummy!

    Merry Christmas!

  3. I can tell you are filled with the holiday spirit! Merry Christmas.

  4. Quite the social butterflies you've been ... obviously having a great time with friends and family. Merry Christmas!

  5. Merry Christmas to you. Hope you don't get so busy you miss enjoying the day. But then, you're in Florida, where you get to enjoy every winter day! :c)

  6. Sounds like you are finding lots to keep you busy there in Cortez.

    We love the fact that we can ride our bikes everywhere. Two backpacks, two bikes, and great five mile ride over to Publix to do our grocery shopping. We do your loop frequently and sometimes hit the Publix on the island on our way home. Next up, you can ride to St Armond Circle!!! It is 15 miles one way.

    Have a wonderful Christmas! Glad you have family near by to celebrate with you.

  7. I am impressed with what you can produce in your RV kitchen - it just looks wonderful. Florida sounds fun this time of year. In the park we're in (Tucson) people tend not to arrive until January, so there's not much happening. Merry Christmas to you both.

  8. I have really got to stop reading blogs on my phone where I don't have the patience to comment and then forget I haven't. I don't know how you packed all this into less than a week. Your pictures latest to a wonderful and beautiful time. I can only imagine whY your Christmas week was like. :-))


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