Beer Steamed Shrimp, South Africa, Shanghai to Captiva & A French Burger with BACON

So, they have this coupon book on Sanibel that you buy for $30 and it comes with almost all the restaurants on the island and the coupons are $20 off a meal or two meals for the price of one. So, we had one for The Lazy Flamingo. I am not crazy about the Lazy as we call it. As you can tell we shorten all the names down here. BUT…the Lazy has this awesome beer steamed shrimp that I adore. It doesn’t need cocktail sauce. It is something you just peel and eat and enjoy so thoroughly. I hate the taste of beer. I love the smell of it. Love the smell of it! And I love this beer steamed shrimp!

We went to a cocktail party at this placed called Surroundings by Melinda or something like that…cute shop in an old Victorian home off Tarpon Bay Road on Library Way. It was decorated for Christmas. They had apps and wine. I went because one of my mom’s friends invited us and she wanted to buy one of my books. But this is so cool, ran into another one of my mom’s friends and she told me that she wanted to get my book into C.R.O.W. gift shop. C.R.O.W.,which stands for the Center Rehabilitation of Wildlife is this incredible place that does what the name says and so much more. The other day, my mom and I were walking on the beach and saw an injured Cormorant, like my Connie the Cormorant in my book, Peri’s Sanibel Island Adventure. If you don’t know, a Cormorant looks like a duck, but it isn’t a duck. We called C.R.O.W. and they sent someone to pick up the bird and they will nurse him/her back to good health and then set her free. How awesome is that! So, do I want my book in a place like that? You betcha!

I have been so lucky with my friends. I really love my friends. I always say I am great with friends and suck (THE BIG ONE) with men and love.

Well, I have this fabulous friend that I only see once a year down on Sanibel. Her name is Sue and she is lives in CT, but she is South African. She and I met playing mixed doubles down here years ago and have remained in touch. We are very equal on the tennis court so it makes playing tennis together a lot of fun. We also have very similar dispositions and demeanors, and we can go months and years without seeing one another and pick up where we left off. Sign of a true friend.

Due to the death of Mandela, I wanted to ask Sue what she thought as a South African. She and her husband had lived in South Africa till the early 80s. They lived what us here would consider a posh life. They had three servants. They treated them extremely well. I know Sue. They did. However, things became very harried for English South Africans and especially Jewish South Africans, and they were both! It was fascinating to hear Sue talk about it. She went back to South Africa this past summer with her grandchildren and they visited Soweto where Mandela is from and they went to places and “so called” schools and she introduced her grandchildren to another world, a world that she entered years ago to help, but was more free to help after Mandela’s amazing work, and she could genuinely see a difference from the  time that Mandela went to prison, to the time he was freed, to the difference he made. Sue makes a HUGE difference in what she contributes to that society; that culture, that she was forced to leave many years ago. They left for safety reasons. They left their pampered lives, their homes, their families, and their fortunes because what was happening was so deplorable, scary, and wrong.

As she explained her life their long ago, I thought of the issues my grandparents and parents lived through before, during and immediately after the civil rights movement. It too was deplorable, and not to take away from how inexcusable it all was here in this country, but it sounded so much worse in South Africa. What makes a person hate so much purely for the pigmentation in another’s skin?

Sue invited me over for dinner tomorrow evening to show me her pictures from her trip back home this summer and to tell me more stories. I can’t wait.

One of my closest friends on the island is my friend Joyce. She had a pooch named Scruffy that sadly passed away a year ago. Scruffy was a difficult dog. He was sweet, but grew into a grumpy old dog. He was unpredictable, but Joyce loved him with all her heart. She asked me to take her to the Memorial dog service at Coral Vet. The Vets have an office on and off island. Here is what they do. They have a memorial tree in their front yard for their client’s animals who have passed. When your animal passes, they send each person, who lost a pet, an angel shaped ornament. You decorate it however you like, and put a picture of your animal in the center with his/her name on it.

They do a service around the Christmas tree and everyone hangs their ornament on the tree. They play Pachabel Canon, or however you spell that. Tear jerker. You hear it at weddings and funerals. They say a few words about your pet. Everyone cries. They pass a box of tissues around the group. It is such a great release for so many people. Such a nice and respectful gesture, and then everyone eats cookies and punch and goes home.

I am sitting on the couch working and my mother comes to the doorway from her art studio. Dulce is lying beside me asleep. Why can’t she sleep this well from 6am-9am? My mom points at me with her finger and signals me to come to her. She is holding something in her hands. She makes the shhh sound and puts her index finger to her lips as if to say don’t wake the dog. I, of course, say, she is a dog. She is not going to know you are holding a Christmas present for her, nor will she remember seeing it on Xmas morning. A chance my mom doesn’t want to take. She goes almost apoplectic to shh me! I get off the couch and go into the studio. She hands me a toy. “Do you think this bone is too big and heavy for her?” ONLY in my house would such a scene occur, actually, probably not!

We went to my friend Sue’s house tonight for dinner. She made the most scrumptious meal. She made chicken curry and then there were little bowls to add a variety of things to it and she said it was all very South African. I added everything she had to add. You know me, I am an adventurous eater. I added: raisins, bananas, tomatoes w/ onions, coconut, and yummy South African chutney and then she served Naan bread. For dessert she did something amazing to apples. No clue what.

We talked about her growing up in Johannesburg, when they left, why they left, how they ended up in the States and their visit back their this summer and how much life had changed. It was so intriguing to me. Sue has started a foundation or her sister did and has passed the buck to Sue and she is so rewarded with how far what she contributes to this school and children goes. The lives these kids have led and what they have seen is heartbreaking. Most of us can’t fathom living life in fear, witnessing such abject poverty and brutality.

Tonight, we drove up to Captiva for Christmas Caroling at Chapel by the Sea. They string lights from the chapel to the trees for Christmas in an array of bright colors. I love it! We got there at the wrong time but we were able to visit with friends. I saw Queenie who makes the awesome ice cream that rivals Graeter’s, OH yes it does, and I am such a loyal Graeter’s fan! But Queenie was trained at Penn State Creamery and that says it all. She had a wreath on her head with candles on it. It was a hoot.


Paul the guy who owns Captiva Cruises, which are the boat trips that go to many nearby islands. We became friends (you are going to love this one), because his brother and I were in line together at The Shanghai Museum in Shanghai, China and we started to talk and one thing led to another and we both talked about Sanibel and discovered that his brother lived up the road from my mom. Now that is a small world.

Then my Mom and I went to Tweenies (real name is Tween Waters) and ate at The Crow’s Nest and had lobster quesadilla. It was not as good as I remembered and I think the green peppers overpowered the flavor of the lobster. I want to taste lobster not green peppers! But their cheese grits and shrimp are so yummy. May be my favorite next to my mom’s! She makes the best!

We have a doggy Christmas tradition. It is called the dog bone advent calendar. It starts on December 1 and there is a bone for each day including Christmas. There is a bell on the calendar. So each night before bedtime, we ring the bell and Dulce comes and we give her a bone and tell her Santa Claus is coming soon! Ya’ll know I am so in love with this dog!

Yesterday my mom dragged me to the Toyota shop in Ft. Myers. It took an HOUR to get there. AN HOUR!!! No joke! When she passed a little airport I thought she may be flying us to the repair shop. I told her the way google maps work is you put in your address and you choose the repair shop that is CLOSEST to your home. NOT the one that is the furthest away! She laughed and said it was the closest one.

We dropped off her car and went to breakfast at this little joint called the Oasis in downtown Ft. Myers. I had been there years ago with a friend named Moon. Yes, I have a friend named Moon. The owners are this uber nice gay couple named Tammy and no clue on the partners name. Tammy is a hugger! She came over and hugged me, and then my mom. My mom and I ordered a dish called THE HOME RUN. It was French toast dipped in vanilla and cinnamon, then cooked and served with powdered sugar and maple syrup. It was good, not killer. The eggs were good. So was the bacon. Then we went shopping ALL over the place. I went to a Hobby Lobby for the first time ever. Pretty cool stuff. HOURS later, we stopped at a place called Mad Fresh Bistro. My mom has been talking about their burgers. Do you think we are burger people? I always have been, but her not so much till lately. We split a burger, because God forbid Skin and bones (aka my mom) eat an entire burger. The burger was divine. It had caramelized onions on it, melted brie, and then crispy bacon, with a tarragon sauce and argula. OH YUMMY!

MFB Burger

I saw (and smelled) an order of truffle French fries go by and it made me a little sick to my tummy. Remember, I am convinced that the truffle fries caused my hematoma on my leg. I was scared to even be in close proximity to them! I think I may be off those for a long, long time.  I told the owner/chef how delicious my burger was. The French dude said, “You don’t like it or you would have eaten your own!” I said, “SHE WON’T eat her own.” He was so French! I thanked him in French and he said goodbye in French. Kinda fun!

So, this morning I took Dulce for a run and I ran past a mailbox that had a stocking on it. It said please take a treat for your dog as you pass by. I reached into the stocking and in a small baggie was a milkbone and some other type of treat. I told Dulce to sit and she got one. How cute is that!

Xmas for pooches

Now, I am dogsitting for a big, black Doberman named Amy. She is such a sweetheart. I am sure that in addition to being beautiful she is scary looking. She lives in a multi-million dollar home in this posh little neighborhood on Sanibel called Kinzie Island. Her parents were SO MUCH younger than I was expecting. Nice, nice people and they told me they became friends with two different writers that became famous so they say they bring good luck to writers. I had to touch them both. I want that luck! One of the writers is a fella named Dan Brown, who wrote a book called DaVinci Code. So, we will see what happens. They are friends with my mom’s friends and that is how I ended up here. Right now, I am on the back porch that overlooks the pool and hottub and beyond it a waterway. Not bad. Amy was beside me as I blogged but I don’t think she likes lying on the ground. I guess I should go get her a bed for out here. She has beds ALL over the place so maybe she likes those better.

Her parents told me there are 22 homes in Kinzie Island and they are the ONLY ones in here with a dog. How sad is that? Here is some irony. If you don’t know Sanibel, it is a very nice and affluent little island, but when I have told people I am staying in Kinzie for the next few days it is like telling people you live in a penthouse on Park or 5th Ave in Manhattan. The assumption is that if you live in Kinzie, you are loaded to the gills, and snotty as hell. Well, these people seemed really nice and super easy to talk to and with, but when they told me they were the only dog people in here and I have to walk the dog on the street and not let her walk on other lawns or poop on their lawns EVEN if I am cleaning it up….it makes Kinzie sound like it is just as snotty as we all think it is. It’s super noveau, so what do you expect? Did I just type that for all to read. Oh well. As the French say, Cie la vie!

But this adorable 52 lb. Doberman is not snotty. She may not lie on the ground like a normal dog and prefer the comforts of a bed, but she is such a lover. I was downstairs watching Lifetime sappy Xmas movies tonight and this adorable Doberman was upstairs by herself on her bed in the dark. I know she is a dog, but I can’t help it. Finally, at 8pm…I went up and sat next to her and pet her. So, she followed me downstairs and curled up in her bed next to the chaise lounge and she slept and I watched movies. Then like Dulce she rolled over on her back so I could scratch her belly. It is ALL about scratching the belly.

I went to go to bed, and her mom put a doggy bed in my bedroom. Guess where Amy went? You got it. Oh the bed with me. Gotta love a 52 lb. lap dog!

Until we meet again…..

Enjoy! Eat, travel, laugh…often….


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