Saturday Night Serenade–Still Thinking About St. Patrick’s Day

Yesterday was St. Patrick’s Day.

And I had to work.  All.  Damn.  Day.

You know, there was a time when my Spring Break coincided with St. Paddy’s Day.  Once we even took a little mini-vacation for a couple of days.  Ended in up Ybor City, the historic Cuban district of Tampa.  Which doesn’t sound like the right place for a celebration of all things Irish, but we discovered that the James Joyce Irish Pub was within staggering distance of the San Vicente, the boutique hotel where we were staying, and we spent a good six hours downing green melon ball shots and listening to great music.

No such luck this year.  When I arrived home from work, Mr. R asked if I wanted to go out.  Umm…  Have we met?  The next question was where to go?  O’Shea’s Irish Pub on Clematis in West Palm Beach seemed the obvious choice.  After all, they’d been hosting a block party since 10am Friday morning.

However…In an effort to avoid what a friend of ours calls ‘St. Posers’, celebrants who only go out drinking on St. Patrick’s Day, we decided to cash in a gift card and head to Chili’s in Wellington.  I know–not really an appropriate choice for the wearing of the green.  But, as it turns out, margaritas are green.  So there.

And I know, it’s an effing chain.  But I had a Mexican combo and Mr. R had ribs, both delicious.  Our server, Sean, was terrific, we’ll totally ask for him again.  And did I mention margaritas?  Nothing at all wrong with that.

Tonight’s serenade is a beautiful instrumental from the talented, and Irish, Corrs.  I’m just mesmerized by this song.  I mentioned that one day, Mr. R promises to take me to Ireland.  I want to sit in a pub and sip normal-colored Guinness while I listen to something this magical.

Happy Saturday night!

Saturday Night Serenade–Of Dreams and Dreamers

It’s Mr. R’s birthday today.  A big one–he’s fifty!  You might recall a few years ago when I freaked out over turning the big 5-0.  That’s right, I’m a proper cougar, LOL!

Back then, we didn’t have money for a big gift or anything, but he made me this promise–one day we’ll take a trip to Ireland, Scotland, and England.  Now, having nearly finished our extreme renovation, and being smack in the middle of a life re-set, we are in the same position.  My promise to him–one day we’ll take a trip to Spain.  He longs for Madrid and Barcelona.

Those trips will happen.  We’re just the kind of dreamers to believe.  For now, I’m content to add to my bucket list.  And one of those must-do items is: Pay a musician in a pub in Galway to play Galway Girl.  Did I ever mention the time Mr. R paid a guy at my favorite bar in the world, the James Joyce Irish Pub in Ybor City, to play Dirty Old Town?  Another story for another day.

Tonight, I have two different Galway Girls, and I’m obsessed with both of them.  They were each posted by my favorite bar in the world (and yes, I have about five of those) Paddy Reilly’s in Manhattan.  Once on a business trip (and for teachers, those are RARE) I dragged my whole group from the upper west side where we were staying, to Paddy’s on the lower east side, just to hear The Prodigals play their home bar (Bucket List item #27, check!).  Follow Paddy Reilly’s on Facebook for great music, including the moments they go live.  Trust me, you’ll love it!

Anyway, from the pair of us dreamers, to you and yours, Happy Saturday night!

This Should Be Interesting

We have an issue at work these days.  For anyone who doesn’t know, for the time being, I’m a teacher at a high-poverty, low-performing public school.  According to last year’s high-stakes testing, we are actually the lowest-performing elementary school in the entire district.  That’s not good.

Because of the poor test results, the Principal of the past six years was removed in the middle of the summer.  He was replaced by a woman who has quite the reputation in the district.  When people out in the community find out who our Principal is, they generally make the sign of the cross.  And, no, that’s not an exaggeration.

This woman is vile.  She makes Kevin Spacey look like Mr. Rogers.  Staff members have been dropping like flies.  The Assistant Principal, the confidential secretary, the data processor, the attendance clerk, two different IT guys, and about twenty custodians have been replaced.  People have been escorted out by police, only to have this woman tell us in a staff meeting how she clung to their ankles and begged them not to leave.

Teachers have been singled out and bullied, called on their mobile phones after hours and told that they’re not being “team players.”  While I’ve had one documented observation, some of my colleagues have them nearly every week, and they’re told that they’re not working hard enough, that their skills are inferior.

Paranoia reigns, and it’s not uncommon for folks to look over their shoulder before they talk to their friends and co-workers.  Stories abound of Admin listening in to conversations, of loyalists who report back on things that people say.

That’s not all, either.  There is evidence that the Administration has tampered with the recent standardized diagnostic testing, the tests that predict how students will do on the formal tests in the spring.  There is also evidence that Administration is playing fast and loose with finances, failing to comply with district-mandated procedures regarding money students pay for special events.

All of which is why, very quietly, a small group of us is working with the union to see that these things are investigated.  It’s not unheard of for a Principal to be removed from a school if it is deemed that that Administrator is creating a hostile work environment.

Morale is in the sewer, to say the least.  Unlike every year since I started working at this school, there is no formal holiday party planned.  Which is why a few trusted friends and I thought it would be nice to get a group together for an informal holiday happy hour at a local watering hole.   Just a little spirit-booster to say, ‘Hey, we’re in this together.’

But then…

A little spazz we like to refer to as Hurricane (who wasn’t included on the invite list, by the way) got wind of our plan and decided EVERYONE needed to be invited.  I’ve seen her running around the school, babbling like a slot machine that hasn’t stopped spinning, telling everyone about where and when.  She even marched herself into the office and invited Administration.

So.  A handful of people, including some of those who have been removed, are meeting in a very different location from the original plan.  It’s not what I’d intended it to be.  I wanted to give some folks a bit of hope right here before Christmas.

What about me?  Like I said, knock wood, by and large they seem to be leaving me alone.  But when you hear about groups of teachers being called in and berated about ridiculous things, you know it’s only a matter of time.

I’m quietly planning on this being my last year in education.  The industry sucks anyway, and this situation only exacerbates that fact.  Luckily, because of ignorant choices I made early on, I can actually retire any time I like, taking with me a nice nest egg of a retirement, plus they’ll buy out my banked sick hours at 100%.

Next fall, when every is dragging themselves back to the grind, I’ll be writing full-time.  But I might as well raise a little hell before I go.   😉

Saturday Night Serenade–Norah Jones

Happy Small Business Saturday!  Hopefully you were able to support small local business at some point today.  You could always buy a book by an Indie author, just saying…

Mr. R. and I went out looking to help out the local economy today.  First, we took my new car to a mom and pop car wash.  Next, we attempted to buy some goodies from a small Cuban bakery, but we were thwarted by long lines and slow clerks.

So instead, we ended up at one of our favorite bars, Square Grouper, on the Jupiter Inlet.  It’s everything that’s great about an outdoor tiki bar.  It’s directly on the water, right across from the Jupiter lighthouse, which has been decorated for the holidays.  The floor is sand, the ‘ceiling’ is made up of the fronds of the many coconut palms planted throughout the property.  You can order your pirate punch and sip while watching boats going in and out, dodging the stand-up paddle boarders.  Flocks of pelicans bob on the swells, occasionally dipping their beaks and scooping up fish.  We’ve even seen stingrays gliding along beneath the surface of the water.

And, more often than not, they have live music.  Today, there was a lone chick, who was playing East Bound and Down when we first arrived.  Later on, she slipped into a bluesy vibe and covered Norah Jones.  Which brings us to tonight’s serenade.  I love Norah Jones and I love this song.

I hope you’re still feeling thankful and that you’re surrounded by those you love.  Hug them extra tight, and remember that every day is a good day to support small business.

Happy Saturday night!

Saturday Night Serenade–There’s Someone For Everyone

Image result for brass ring pubLast night, Mr. R. and I had dinner at a legendary little local place called the Brass Ring Pub Sports Bar & Grill in Royal Palm Beach, not to be confused with the Brass Ring Pub in North Palm Beach.  Whew, glad we got that sorted out!  Actually, they’re a two-location chain, and we’ve also been to the North Palm Beach location.  But I digress.

The fact is, we had dinner at Brass Ring last Friday night, too, right before we went to the Cheap Trick, Joan Jett, and Heart show I mentioned last week.  But, as good as the food was, we were in such a hurry to get to the concert that we simply inhaled our dinner and left.  So this time, we took our time and enjoyed the moment.

Brass Ring is one of those awesome working class bars where construction guys and office folks mingle at the end of a long day.  The bar area is separate from the main dining area, but you can order food either place.  Mr. R. and I rather prefer the bar area because of its ‘adults only’ vibe.  After a long days’ work, the last thing I want is to be subjected to someone else’s progeny expressing themselves exuberantly in public.

While their menu is large, Brass Ring is known for their burgers, which we ordered for the second week in a row.  Burgers come with chips, but for an up-charge, you can get fries instead.  Having the chance to really appreciate it this time, I can say the burgers are delicious.  We also ordered their fresh, made-to-order onion rings as an appetizer and they were the best I’ve tasted in a long time.

From the ‘weird but true’ file, yesterday at work, I opened a new bottle of hand sanitizer from Bath & Body Works.  The scent is something beachy, but it smells just like a rum bucket, so guess what I was craving all day?  In the bar area of Brass Ring, my craving was fulfilled.

Sitting in the bar booth across from my love, I sipped on my rum bucket and, above the din of the crowd, I heard a song I haven’t heard in years.  (You were waiting for me to get to the music, weren’t you?)  Jim Croce is best known for classics like Time in a Bottle and Bad, Bad Leroy Brown, but his playlist runs much deeper than that.  Tragically killed in a plane crash in 1973 at the age of 30, he left a legacy of terrific songs, some heartfelt and romantic, others playful and cheeky.

It’s the playful and cheeky I’m featuring tonight.  Last night at Brass Ring, they played his irreverent Working at the Car Wash Blues.  It’s the autobiography of a man who can’t quite understand why he can’t seem to land the position he feels he deserves.

And THAT song reminded of this song, Roller Derby Queen, one of my favorites.  It’s a reminder that, when it comes to love, there’s someone for everyone.

Talk about a blast from the past!  I hope you’re enjoying this first weekend of October doing what you love, with those you love.  Warm fall greetings from the R. house.

Happy Saturday night!

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Saturday Night Serenade–All In The Name Of Progress

Last evening, Mr. and I spent a lovely date night at one of our favorite places, Guanabanas in Jupiter.  I’ve mentioned Guanabanas before.  It’s a little outdoor restaurant/bar along US1, between the road and the Loxahatchee River, all lush tropical plants, sail shades, and tiki huts.  It was an absolutely beautiful evening; the sky was a crisp, clear blue, there was a light breeze, and the temperature was in the high seventies.

We had what we decided was the best table in the place, a high-top in the bar area across from the tiny stage and backing up to the waterfall.  Settling in after a long work week, we nibbled on their smoked fish dip and shrimp fritters as he sipped his Arnold Palmer and I opted for their Cat 5 hurricane, which, like its namesake, will knock you on your ass.

It was such a pleasant way to end the week, but I couldn’t help but feel worried.  Making our way to the place was quite a hassle.  There is extensive roadwork being done in the area and we found ourselves dodging orange barrels and road workers as they were ending their day.  It seems that someone finally realized there is a shit-load of money to be made by developing the waterfront area there in Jupiter.  And to that end, they began making road improvement (read widening) efforts even before their plans to purchase a huge chunk of property and build a massive commercial abomination were ever approved.

The developers don’t seem worried.  It’s the old Golden Rule:  He who has the gold makes the rules.  And while the fate of Guanabanas is uncertain at this point, there’s another Jupiter waterfront treasure which seems destined to become what was.

The Square Grouper* is a tiny outdoor tiki bar hidden away down a back street, a stone’s throw from Guanabanas and right on the Jupiter Inlet.  It’s a place where locals hang out, maybe because it’s not easy to find.  I love this bar.  It’s completely outside, right on the water.  The floor is sand, palm fronds from a small forest of trees shelter patrons from the sun, and there is a tiki stage that almost always features live music.  You can sit listening to music, sipping on something rummy, and watch pelicans and stingsrays and paddleboarders…  It’s paradise.  For now, anyway.

I’ve seen the proposed plans for the urban monstrosity developers want to build there.  It will be all concreted over and there will be shops, restaurants, and high-rise, high-rent condos.  If there is something left of Square Grouper, I can guarantee locals won’t darken the door again.  We made a point of taking my son there when he was home a few weeks ago, mostly because, as I told him, there’s no guarantee it will still be there next time he’s home.

Which brings me to tonight’s song.  I’m pretty sure I’ve posted Five O’Clock Somewhere before; it’s a great song.  But if you’ll notice the part where Alan Jackson is at a bar, it’s Square Grouper.  The video is old; they’re spruced up the place a bit since then.  But having once been a resident of Jupiter Island, Alan Jackson was known to just show up at the place and play a set every once in a while.  It’s that kind of place.  That’s what we’re losing.  Which is sad.

But for now, pour me something tall and strong.  It’s five o’clock somewhere.  Happy Saturday night!

*Square grouper–a bale of marijuana found floating in the water or washed up on the beach, having been tossed overboard to avoid legal entanglements.

Saturday Night Serenade–Anniversary Edition

Yesterday, Mr. R. and I celebrated our fourth wedding anniversary.  We enjoyed a lovely day, going out to the movies and then cocktails at one of our favorite waterfront bars.

In honor of the occasion, tonight’s Serenade is ‘our’ song.  I’ve undoubtedly posted this song before but this is a really great version, a live performance from Berlin in 2010 backed by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.  Be sure to notice the chick with the “I need to speak to your manager” haircut on backing vocals.

This is dedicated to my sweet, my husband, the yin to my yang, the peas to my carrots, the love of my life.  May we enjoy forty more and then some.  Happy Saturday night!