Sunday, December 21, 2014


When we are at home, we live in a 90 year old house with solid wood floors that slope precipitously, a very updated 2014 kitchen, and a tin roof. I loved that house the minute I stepped into it, 15 or so years ago, when we were looking to buy property for professional offices, and I love it even more now that we have converted most of it into a residence.  It is quaint and it is quirky, and I suppose those two words describe me as well, so the house and I are well suited to each other.

See how the floor tilts?

The bedrooms are on the top floor, in what used to be an enormous attic. That conversion was done long before we bought the house, including ruining the original wooden floors beyond repair, so we had to ceramic-tile the entire second floor. The ginormous master bedroom, with it's low sloping ceiling reminds me of a deep, cozy cave.  It's a wonderful place to sleep.  There is plenty of room for a king-sized bed, and we were all set to replace our 40-year old queen, but had to abandon that idea when we realized rather quickly that those 1925 doorways would never accommodate a king-sized mattress's passage.
You can see that nothing is even; certainly not the floor.

The tin roof is relatively new.  In 2004, when Florida was hit with the deadly hurricane trifecta of Charlie, Frances, and Jeanne, our Kissimmee house took some serious damage.  Not as bad as our neighbor, who had a tree pierce the first story roof of his building, but bad enough.  I remember walking into what was then my office on the first floor of our building, looking up and remarking to Rob's secretary Maria, "I don't remember having a skylight over there."

Everything was a mess.  Hundred year old trees all along the surrounding streets had been uprooted.  Above-ground electrical wires were down, along with the poles that had supported them.  An old house located in back of the courthouse was completely leveled, while others were so severely damaged as to be uninhabitable.  Downtown Kissimmee was trashed, which turned out to be a good thing in the long run, but certainly didn't seem so at the time.  FEMA-blue tarps overtook the majority of roofs in our neighborhood.

In time, our insurance company paid for the roof to be replaced, and the neighborhood returned to a mostly pre-hurricane normal, except for my neighbor, an antisocial personality in full bloom, who had been hoping he would be permitted to tear down his damaged property so he could sell that land without an ugly, badly-maintained cinderblock wart there to detract from the true value of the location.  I wish he had been successful as well, but that's water under the bridge, or through the roof, so to speak.
That is my office building behind the sign.  Two historical 
hotels previously sat on that site.

But this is about my tin roof.  This morning, while sitting in bed in our stateroom, enjoying the gentle rocking of the ship (yes, of course I am wearing my wristbands), I could hear the patter of raindrops above me. Very soothing, as it reminded me of that same sound around and above me from our tin roof at home.  Until I remembered that our stateroom is on Deck 5 of a 14 deck cruise ship.  So riddle me this - where were the raindrops coming from?  And why did they stop at the same time it stopped raining outside?

When we completed the move to Kissimmee earlier this year, my world closed in on itself.  On a daily, workday basis, I travel a lot less and enjoy it more.  I live close to my office - I could walk to work if I wanted to - and even closer to the courthouses.  I can walk to Lake Toho, with it's beautiful lakefront park, and stop at Susan's Courtside Cafe on my way back for a nice lunch and an even nicer cup of coffee.

Or I could walk from home in the other direction and pick up pizza from Al's (a Kissimmee institution) or chips from the 7-11 where I also gas up my car, once a month or so.  I don't have a backyard - I have a cobblestone parking lot, much better.  The lawn care dude doesn't need to use a mower on our teeny bit of grassy knoll, because ten minutes with a weed whacker works just fine.  It's a short ride to the Race-Trac for frozen yogurt and do-it-yourself toppings, and my very favorite chip mix from Utz. The Starbucks is nearby, as is a Walmart grocery, and every fast food restaurant known to man.  While I don't eat a great deal of fast food anymore, there is nothing like Long John Silver's to alleviate a deep-fried food craving.

Nearby on Broadway Avenue is an eclectic selection of restaurants and nightspots.  In my office complex right off Broadway is Savion's Place. Awesome food, even Emeril agrees. And then there is Nadia's with her wonderful Mediterranean food, including really good falafel and salad with big hunks of feta, and Broadway Pizza with calzones the size of your head. The Kissimmee Police Department is one minute away, the fire department is two.

Part of the City Centre complex.  Three Sister's Speakeasy
and Savion's Place.  

For the most part, the location is incredible.  Except for the motorcycle gangs, nightly arising from the extreme south end of Clyde Street, and the absence of decent sushi.  I have no idea where the motorcycles come from, but their harmless, noisy parade reminds me of that early scene from the Rocky Horror Show, just before Brad and Janet's tire blew out, forcing them to walk back toward the light coming from the Frankenstein house.  Our dogs are quite diligent about chasing them away.  The motorcyclists, not Brad and Janet.  Yappie dogs, gotta love them.

The back of my office building.  I know, I still can't believe it.

For sushi, we still head back to Hunter's Creek to Mikado, but the distance makes it less likely we're eating sushi.  Same reason my fake nails keep breaking off.

I love this.  The lake, of course, is Lake Tohopekaliga.  Big Toho.

This ship has sushi.  Not the fake-but-fun sushi rolls that used to be served on the  Carnival Ecstasy, along with that Japanese mayonnaise I'm so crazy about, but real Mikado-quality sushi with gorgeous fresh fish (how they managed that on the sixth day of a cruise I haven't figured out, unless we picked up something besides souvenirs in Curaçao.)

We know this because we decided to have lunch there today.  The place is called Bonsai Sushi, and it is right across from the Fahrenheit 555 steakhouse.  Today is a sea day, and very much a food-focussed day, with another English Tea at 3:00 PM and a cruise elegant dinner.  Sushi for lunch fit in with the general theme.  There is an upcharge, but it is relatively minor and oh-so-worth it.  Their menu is a lot more limited than Mikado, which has a menu that needs a Table of Contents.

See what I mean?  No cognitive overload here.  I can definitely handle this. So we ordered the "Ship for 2", and I discovered something I had suspected for a long time. Miso soup sucks.  Rob and Cory order it all the time, but it has never appealed to me.  Anytime I've seen Morimoto use miso paste on Iron Chef, dozens of times, it always looks like something that only Andrew Zimmern should be eating. But, since it came with the lunch, I decided to try it.  One discrete, delicate sniff, and very small, tentative sip.  Oh, feh, or as Nero Wolfe would say, Pfui.  Oh, and double feh - I found tofu in the soup.  I don't necessarily dislike tofu, but the problem is that tofu is only worth eating when it is paired with other flavorful elements of the dish.  Tofu is a flavor-cipher that ends up tasting like the other ingredients in the recipe (unless you are crazy enough to try Korean stinky tofu, another Andrew Zimmern favorite.  Come to think of it, I don't think even he likes it.)  Unfortunately, this tofu had no choice but to taste exactly like the less-than-palatable-to-me miso soup, so let me just put that whole thing on the "No Need to Try Again Shelf" along with blue cheese and truffles.

Robert enjoyed the miso soup tremendously, so I don't want you to think my lack of enthusiasm had anything to do with the quality of food at Bonsai.  Everything was delicious.  Lunch came with a side salad which was just what I was craving, and the California roll (which was all I was able to eat) was full of real crabmeat and buttery avocado.  So very yummy, even without my Japanese mayonnaise.

We already have plans to return for lunch on the next sea day.  Which is not tomorrow - tomorrow we dock at Grand Turk, and I booked a tour of Historical Homes and Museums.

Edamame, yes.  Miso, no.

Tonight though, was our second cruise elegant evening, so I put on eyeliner and high heels and we had a lovely dinner, after watching a terrific live show.  Let me remind you, disco is not dead, and these performers proved it.  For dinner I ordered escargot and the chateaubriand.  Not bad at all, but I would have liked more béarnaise sauce.  I did not order the Baked Alaska for dessert because I never do and neither should you.  When it is Baked Alaska night on a Carnival ship, order the warm melting chocolate cake for dessert.  You will thank me.

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