Saturday Night Serenade–Kiss Me, I’m Irish

I LOVE St. Patrick’s Day!   On my bucket list is to pay someone to play Galway Girl in a pub in Galway on St. Patrick’s Day.  So far, this first video is as close as I’ve gotten.  It’s a joyous street celebration!

Tonight, in celebration of all things Eire, I’ve assembled some of my favorite Irish music by some of my favorite Irish bands.  If you’re not familiar with them, it’s a sampling of what’s out there.

To me, the perfect place to celebrate the day is in an Irish bar listening to traditional music.  A few St. Patrick’s Days ago, Mr. R and I spent hours at the James Joyce Irish Pub, a wonderful bar in Tampa’s Ybor City neighborhood.

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We listened to great music and tossed back way too many little green shots before we staggered back to our hotel in the wee hours of the morn.  At one point, Mr. R paid the guy to sing Dirty Old Town.  Here it is by The Pogues.

You can’t celebrate the day without Irish Rover.  This traditional version is by the Dubliners with The Pogues.  Just ignore the bad teeth, it’s brilliant.

The Dropkick Murphys are undoubtedly my favorite jig-punk band, and I was thrilled to go see them last time they came through town.  This is Rose Tattoo.

Again,  here are The Pogues, with If I Should Fall From Grace With God.  Does it seem like  the Irish have something of a fixation on death?

Finally, and if you’re still here, you’re awesome, here’s a set from my favorite Irish band, The Prodigals, at their home bar, Paddy Reilly’s on the lower east side of Manhattan.  I actually DID get to see them here once, and it was magical.

Pull up a stool and raise your pint glass.  Sláinte, hug those you love, and have a happy Saturday night.

Saturday Night Serenade–Full Tilt Reno

Our big renovation started on Wednesday.  Over five years ago, Mr. R. and I bought a small foreclosed home in an equestrian community where every lot is at least an acre and a quarter in size.  The home needed work, and we did the bare minimum so we could move in.

Now, it’s time to make the place what we want it to be.  We’re completely redoing the kitchen, both bathrooms, and adding wood flooring.  The project includes some minor structural changes as well.

All of that put me in the mood for ‘house’ songs.  And because I couldn’t decide on just one, tonight’s serenade is a three-fer.  I love this version of Who Says You Can’t Go Home, and the video features home construction, so it’s perfect for the occasion.

But I couldn’t resist Our House by Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young.  Because when it’s finished, our house will be a very, very, very fine house, LOL!  We’ll post ‘After’ photos, I promise.

And what post about our house would be complete without this 80s blast, Our House by Madness?

I’ll leave you with a few photos of the carnage.  I don’t even mind the mess, noise, and inconvenience–this is going to be awesome!

Happy Saturday night!

A Sweet Surprise

wpid-20141229_102957-1.jpgMr. R. brought these home to me the other day.  It wasn’t my birthday or one of our anniversaries (we celebrate at least three: the day we ‘met’ online, our first wedding, and our second wedding–long story for another post), and it wasn’t Christmas.  He gave them to me “just because.”

I think one way to ‘keep it fresh’ is to prioritize each other.  It’s been harder for the last six months due to our tightened budget, we haven’t had Date Night as often as I’d like, but still we find creative ways to remind each other, and ourselves, how blessed we are to have found the other half that makes us whole.

Mr. R. has a flower guy who sells flowers from a truck next to a gas station in town.  His flowers are so much more beautiful than you’d get other places.  He actually supplied the white and purple hydrangeas for our second (formal, if you will) wedding.

From time to time, Mr. R. stops by Antonio’s truck to pick out a bouquet.  It’s reason #12 that I love him so much.

Christmas Holiday Date Night

Friday was my last day before the two-week holiday break and to celebrate, Mr. R. picked me up from work and we headed out for date night.  It was early, so before we went downtown we headed toward the beach, driving north along A1A to the Jupiter inlet.

It was an absolutely beautiful late afternoon with the temperature in the mid 70s and the water was smooth.  As we watched boats effortlessly navigating the inlet I could feel the tension of a hectic work day melting away.  The sun sank lower and we turned south heading for Clematis Street in downtown West Palm Beach.

wpid-img_20141219_171318-1.jpgWe had a little trouble finding parking.  It turns out there was a Slutty Santa Pub Crawl, which made for awesome people watching when we found our favorite table outside Bar Louie.  With Mr. R.’s Stella and my Cosmo, we settled in to wait for the sun to go down and the holiday lights to twinkle to life.

For Christmas, Clematis is always festively decorated with garlands, designer Christmas trees, LED motion icicles, and rows of lights strung down the center of the street all the way from the east end at Bar Louie to the 500 block, home of O’Shea’s Pub and Respectable Street.  My only tiny whine: in years past, the lights were blue, lending a funky surreal glow to the revelry.  This year the lights were white.  Oh well.

Sitting outside at Bar Louie, we enjoyed our cocktails and some appetizers like the boneless chicken wings and their signature bruschetta, and watched as the crowds of Slutty Santas grew larger and sluttier.  I was a bit disappointed that the naked guy from Halloween didn’t make a reappearance.

It was nicely dark when we finished our refreshments and the street was beautifully festive.  After paying our server, we made our way east toward the waterfront to view West Palm Beach’s annual contribution to holiday decor, the 35-foot tall Christmas tree sculpted from 600 tons of sand.

wpid-20141219_192547.jpegThe photo doesn’t really do it justice.  The color changes, the lights twinkle and fade, and the whole thing is set to music.  Here is the link from this year’s Tree Lighting Ceremony.   I want to point out WPBF’s very own Erin Guy as this year’s host.

We had a genuinely nice date night.  It was a fabulous beginning to a hard-earned vacation.

Wild Wild Life

Several years ago, Mr. R. and I decided that it was time for us to buy a house.  The market was down, mortgage rates were historically low, and there were lots of foreclosures out there.  We looked and looked in town, but prices were still high and here in Palm Beach County they tend to build houses as closely together as humanly possible.  I kept trying to talk Mr. R. into looking out ‘in the country.’  West of town is a huge residential community where all the lots are over an acre.  It’s not a planned community so there is no HOA to be all up in your business.  And being outside of town, the prices can be lower.  Reluctantly, Mr. R. agreed to look.  Long story short, we made an offer on the first house we saw.  After much wrangling, the house was ours.  Being a foreclosure, we expected that there would be some fixing up we’d need to do, and there was.  But we’re thrilled to have our little home on our huge acre and a quarter lot.

Living in the ‘country,’ we figured that from time to time we’d see critters.  I expected boars, bobcats, raccoons, deer, maybe even bears.  I forgot about the creepy crawlies.

black widowIn the first few weeks we lived here, I noticed that a spider kept building a web in our mailbox.  Everyday I had to push my way through a sticky tangle of strands to get our mail.  One day I looked more closely and saw a shiny black hourglass-shaped body that looked as though it had a red hourglass on its belly.  Using a jar I caught the little stinker.  Yeah, that’s what I’d been pushing my hand through every day.

wpid-img_635370527995645-1.jpgWhile I was at work one day last spring, I kept getting text messages from Mr. R. who was home for the day.  When I finally had the chance to check them, this is what I saw.  It’s an Eastern coral snake, a relative of Old World cobras, it’s highly venomous, and it was mere steps out our back door.  Seriously, in an acre and a quarter this is where you need to be?

That brings us to yesterday.  It was a lovely day and Mr. R. and I spent much of it sitting outside enjoying the beautiful weather.  Our slightly paranoid 85-pound landshark Jack was puttering around in the yard when about ten feet away from us he began snuffing and pawing at something in the grass.  We both looked trying to figure out what he’d found.  I saw what looked like something small jumping up out of the grass and my first thought was that he’d found a little frog.

Then I realized that what I was seeing was the business end of another coral snake whipping around out of a hole in the grass.  Mr. R. reached the same conclusion at exactly the same time and called Jack away.  I held Jack on the patio as Mr. R. poked around in the area with a stick, but the snake was gone.  It’s out there.  Somewhere.

So who’s ready to come over for a barbecue?

Having a Better Day Than This Guy

wpid-20141022_151401.jpgYes, that’s a pickup truck.  Yes, the wheels are in the air.

I saw an accident on my way home from work today.  And by ‘saw an accident’ I don’t mean that I saw the wreckage along the side of the road as I passed by.

I mean, I saw someone stop and someone behind them not stop.  There was a massive explosion of debris flying all around.  The second vehicle flew up, executed a half-twist in mid-air, and came to rest on its roof.  The first vehicle ended up two lanes over, pointing in the opposite direction of travel.

I’ve never seen anything like it.  I mean, maybe on every episode of CHiPs or The Dukes of Hazard.  But never with my own eyes.  I sat stunned for a moment.

Luckily for the driver of the truck, a handful of commuters slammed their own vehicles into Park and ran to render aid.  Just after I snapped this photo, those guys got the door open and, along with a Sheriff’s deputy, they pulled out the driver who walked away from the mangled truck to the sidewalk, looking dazed but not obviously injured.

And yes, I snapped this photo.  Is it ghoulish to take a picture of an accident?  I wanted to send it to Mr. R., my steely-eyed newsman who works for a local television station.  I knew he’d want to get it on the air.  And that’s what I did.

I’m impressed by the number of people who stopped to help.  It sort of makes me want to step up my game, to be honest.  I’m not sure what I could have done, but maybe I should have thought of something more useful than contributing to live, local, latebreaking.

October Stories–The Riddle House

I’ve said it before, I’m not really into ‘ghostie’ things.  But it’s October and I’m still in the mood for spooky stories.  The ones I’m sharing with you are true.  This story was originally posted on an old blog I used to write.

February 8, 2013

On Saturday I had the opportunity to do something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time.  On the closing weekend of the South Florida Fair, I was thrilled to find out that Mr. R. and I had been given free tickets.  I’m not much of a rider of fair rides, but I love to walk along smelling the fair food, checking out the livestock (one day I will have chickens), and of course, I needed the annual hand-dipped corndog with loads of mustard.  But none of those were the main reason I was excited.

Situated at the fairgrounds is an area called Yesteryear Village, a collection of historic buildings, houses, barns, and artifacts dating from 1875 to 1945, comprising a “history park.”  Some of of the buildings and artifacts been moved to the fairgrounds from their original locations, while other structures and items are reproductions.

One of those original historic buildings is the Riddle House, an early 20th century farmhouse, and it was the object of my attention that day.  The house was built shortly after 1900 in downtown West Palm Beach on the edge of the Woodlawn Cemetery.  At the time it was known as the “Gatekeeper’s Cottage” and it was used as a funeral parlor.

There are various stories of tragedies that happened in relation to the home. According to news reports, a cemetery worker was killed at the house during an argument with a local man.  Some years later a man called Karl Riddle became city manager and he and his family moved into the home.  During the time the Riddles lived in the house, an employee hanged himself in the attic.  Over the years, there have been stories of strange and unexplained happenings and it is said that the Riddle family finally left because they found it too frightening to stay.  After the Riddles moved out, several business attempted to operate in the house but none ever remained very long, some blaming unexplained experiences for their departure.

Much later the house was known for a time as Dobbs House, a women’s dorm at Palm Beach Atlantic College, before being condemned by the city in 1980 and slated for demolition due to disrepair.   A Riddle relative wanted to preserve the historical value of the building and had it moved to Yesteryear Village where it was restored and is now occasionally open for tours.

It’s open for tours, for example, during the South Florida Fair, which brings me back to where we started.  I had heard the rumors about the Riddle House.  I also know that some paranormal television shows have been there to investigate, the most famous of which was the team from Ghost Adventures, which I consider one of the least reputable of that lot.

But I was excited to have the chance to check out the house for myself.  I made sure my camera battery was fully charged and as Mr. R. and I approached the house, I began snapping pictures.  We walked into the house and toured the first and second floors.  The rooms were roped off so that you could only peer inside the from the doorways.  I found the house charming, neatly restored and decorated with period furnishings, decorations, examples of clothing and accessories, and home fashions.  I took pictures in every room open to the public.  Notably off-limits was the attic.  I overheard some other guests touring the home talking about the hauntings and I had the feeling that the docents were absolutely over hearing about ghosts.

When we got home I loaded the pictures on my computer.  At first I didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary and to be honest, I really didn’t expect that I would.

HOWEVER, these are the first three pictures I took as we walked up to the house.  Notice the right window upstairs.  In the first two pictures, it looks as though someone is lifting up the corner of the curtain to peek outside.  You don’t see that in the third picture.

We didn’t notice this while we were there.  It was only after we were home looking at the pictures that we saw the difference.  The obvious logical explanation is that someone is up there looking out the window.  EXCEPT that the room is roped off.  We looked into that room from the doorway.  The window is all the way across the room on the opposite wall.  You can’t get to the window without crossing the rope.  And there is a lady just in the hallway to make sure you don’t do that.

So…I don’t know.  It makes a decent October story.  I still have one more you haven’t heard…