Monday, December 31, 2012

Insulted! That's NOT My Brain! Sabotaged! Geo-Quiz Part 5

Corvette Chick is in Big Trouble. First, did anyone read the put-down she posted on MY blog, insinuating that my brain didn’t work like brains of “normal” people? And her comment that my Geo-Quiz was “a disaster”? Sheesh, I thought the quiz was pretty easy... you will find Part 5 (yes, Sweetheart, the Final Part) below. Please keep plugging away, because the prize will be dinner for the winner and one spouse/partner/friend/lover here at Das Blogmeisterhaus. I was hoping to have Frau Blucher from Young Frankenstein here as our hostess for the evening, but I understand that she is on travel to Transylvania. (Just to be specific, you can bring your spouse or lover, but not both. Should the winner live out of town, we will do our best to drive The Bus to your location next summer for the awards dinner. Note: Quebec, Newfoundland and Labrador may be “a destination too far”; in this case, we will negotiate a mid-distance rendezvous or perhaps send you a field-dressed moose for dinner.)

Remember the Baked Brick from a few days ago, when Ty tried to bake bread? The offending piece of rock-hard wheat, sugar, milk, salt, and yeast was supposedly due to my picking the wrong setting on the bread maker... well, only in part...  I was wondering about the yeast this morning and looked at the top of the jar that Suzanne had said to use... it was over 4 years past its expiration date! Yep, I was sabotaged!

Geo-Quiz Part 5: You have survived the wedding celebration, and are heading back home. Unfortunately, your charter flight was routed through Transylvania. You had a 48 hour layover there. On the flight home, you decide to write a short email to a friend about that part of your trip. What do you write to your friend? (No minimum or maximum word count required, but please address what happened in Transylvania... This is the subjective part of the quiz that I referred to in an earlier post.)

Please submit your quiz entries to me at by 7:00 PM Wednesday 2 January 2013. I will acknowledge each one by email, so if you don’t receive a reply, please call me at (352) 430-1914 to see if your entry was received. Your Faithful Correspondent will review all quiz entries and announce the answers and a winner in Thursday night’s post. Good Luck!

Question from Suzanne

Hello, everybody.  Suzanne here, hacking into Ty's blog again.  I have to know ... is ANYONE out there still with my husband on this five-day geo quiz disaster ... I mean, adventure?  If there is anyone out there whose brain works like his does, I will be frightened and may just need to get back on a sailboat and find some place where normal people live. 

Sunday, December 30, 2012

"I Am Not a Fuddy-Duddy!" ; “Hey, Slow Down, Lady!” An "F" Parking Job; Phrase of the Day; Geo-Quiz Part 4

To counter any rumors about me being a fuddy-duddy, here is a flashback to our sailing days...  My Lovely Bride and I were caught on film in the Abacos, Bahamas... she’s the one with the cigar and I’m the one with the ponytail... "What a cool dude! And the chick is cute, too!" 

Corvette Chick is feeling her oats lately. I think it may be because of her fast car. Yesterday she took me on a 15 mile bike ride, which we normally ride at a moderately challenging 16.5 mph pace, but this time at an intense 18 mph pace. I was burned out at the end, and thought that today would be an easy, recovery day. Instead, we went out for a quick 4 mile run at race pace with me barely being able to keep up. “Hey, slow down so the old man can catch up, wouldyaplease!”

Here’s our Parking Disaster of the Week; while walking across from our local pizza place, I noted that some poor fellow (I was going to use another word like “dufuss”, but I couldn’t find it in the dictionary, so I decided to be generous) parked with the white line marking the end of the parking spot even with the middle of his front door, effectively taking up two prime parking spots in the center of town... now, really! This doesn't even rate a D for parking; it's definitely an F. (Nancy, I really hope this isn't your car!)

The Phrase of the Day is one of my favorites, “weasel words”, n. pl., 1. an informal term for equivocating words and phrases aimed at creating am impression that something specific and meaningful has been said, when in fact only a vague and ambiguous claim, or even a refutation, has been communicated; 2. deliberately ambiguous or misleading words; 3. the use of weasel words to avoid making an outright assertion is a synonym to tergiversate. Example: after a disastrous decision by governmental officials, a press secretary will announce, “Mistakes were made.” Or, when a bill is about to fail a critical vote, good old Senator Harry Reid will pronounce that “If this legislation fails, there are great fears that most people will be worse off than before.” 

My head is spinning... whatever happened to plain speaking? Although I like the term, I think that the poor weasel (Mustela nivalis, the European Least Weasel being our representative of the genus) is getting a bum rap on this one. While often considered vermin because they are known to raid chicken coops when local restaurants are closed, the weasel is actually not an unattractive little critter.

They have a reputation for speed, cleverness and guile. (A close relative, the ferret, is a popular pet, although why anyone would want a ferret rather than a dachshund has always baffled me.) The weasel is also closely related to the mink, which has been the subject of a few similes that we shall not discuss in this blog in the matter of time and good taste.  In Greece, a weasel was thought to be an unhappy bride who was transformed into a weasel. (There is no way that I am making any editorial comments about that one.)

Geo-Quiz, Part 4: Your Italian island vacation was cut short when your distant cousin announced that he was getting married. You didn’t know he even had a girlfriend, but he sent you a cryptic invitation mentioning “a volcano goddess and a soccer player with the same name”. A. What two places are the soon-to-be-married couple from?

The note also had a coded location for the upcoming nuptials, but you’re having trouble deciphering it to make your flight reservations. He said that his fiance was a fossil collector, and that the wedding would be in a town whose name was “Skeet no s, man add s, bball ring”. B. What is the town and the country he is referring to?

(Okay, just one more part.... Hang in there for one more day! You have plenty of time; either (a) you’re retired and have no job to worry about, or (b) you’re off work until Jan 2nd).
              HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

A Tennis Pro on Safari? A Bad Crash; Baking Bricks; Ruthie's Dilemma; Geo-Quiz Part 3

The other night we had dinner with a very interesting couple, Sandy Jensen and Mike Appelbaum. Sandy is a retired teacher and tour ship activities director. The tour ship came first, but Sandy preferred life on shore to being at sea. (We didn’t ask Sandy if the partying got too hard to bear...) Sandy earned big points with Rudy and Gretchen when she brought them “indestructible” chew toys. It was a matter of minutes before our little dachshunds had the first disemboweled... Sandy, you are our puppies’ hero!  Mike was a tennis pro in south Florida, but developed a passion for photography and Africa. He wound up becoming “Safari Mike”, leading photo safaris all over the Dark Continent for 20 years. He and his parties stayed in small hotels and tents in the bush. Don’t feel sorry for Mike; many of the “tent camps” were five-star rated. He told one story about being in the swimming pool at one camp when three large male elephants walked up and started drinking water from the pool. (“And you didn’t get out of the pool and shoo them away?” 

His portfolio and slide show were almost as fascinating as his stories, with lion, cheetah, leopard, giraffe, hippo, and rhino being his wildlife of choice. Some of his lion and leopard photos were taken from 10-15 feet away, like this male lion being very patient with a young cub. I can hear his client... “Let’s see, Mike, you want me to get out of this relatively safe Land Rover and walk over to that 500 lb male lion, saying ‘Nice, kitty, please roar and show your teeth for the camera.’?” That takes more than just a steady hand! His portraits of African tribal elders were remarkable, and underscored the trust and friendships he developed over decades in Africa. 

Now, as to the crash, no, Corvette Chick didn’t get a dent in her car. Her PC hard drive crashed... and she had to restore her files and web sites from an off-site data storage facility using all the bandwidth in our home connection. Meanwhile, for three days I had to use Interim Plan B, using the Internet at our nearby Miona Recreation Center. It’s what we euphemistically call “A Truly Hateful Place”, decorated throughout with nautical memorabilia. Even the meeting rooms are named after America’s Cup yachts. It also has a great fireplace, seen here with Your Faithful Correspondent posting a blog while toasting his toes near the gas fire. “Life is Good.”  

Okay, today was not a good day for baking. I decided to help out my always-busy-and-sometimes-overwhelmed-Lovely Bride and bake a loaf of bread in the bread maker. This can’t be that hard, I reasoned... so I read the recipe, followed the instructions to the letter, including the 2 1/4 tsps of active dry yeast, and started “The Infernal Machine”... I guess I should have also read the detailed instruction manual for it, because the “2” that I selected, thinking that it meant “2 lbs”, was actually Menu #2, for “Quick: for quick breads that do not use yeast and require only mixing and baking.” Now, you fancy-schmanzy bakers who have been doing this for 40 years know that recipes with yeast should rise nicely, doubling the size of the ball of dough that you started with. Mine didn’t exactly do that. In fact, it came out just the size of and as hard as a brick. Why are you laughing at me? 

My Lovely Bride's Lovely Mom Ruthie had breakfast with us recently, and commented on the excellent strawberry preserves that I had canned myself... okay, I'm fibbing... they came from a shelf at the grocery, but I picked them out! Anyway, we got her a jar and dropped them off yesterday. Suzanne said, "Mom, you really don't like your sugar-free preserves. Why not throw them out now that you have what you really like?" Like many people who grew up during the Depression, Ruthie has never thrown anything out that had the least bit of remaining use or value. You could see her struggling to drop the old, yucky-tasting preserves in the trash can, but yes, she finally did it. "Well done, Ruthie! we are proud of you."

Yes, folks, it’s now what you've been looking forward to... Geo-Quiz Part 3. You have survived New Year’s in Rome, but want to get away from the madding crowds and pickpockets. You decide to escape to an island off the coast of Italy to a small (read “and hopefully not so expensive”) bed and breakfast run by a one-legged former Carabineri sergeant and his Romanian girlfriend. (Correct, you really had to search to find this place!) You take a main line train to a town about 55 miles southwest of Florence and about 37 miles south-southeast of Livorno. A. In what town (name has two words) did you debark? 

You take a bus to another town (the port of the ancient Etruscans) where you can catch a ferry to an island which had been part of Tuscany, then part of France, then was returned to Tuscany and finally became part of the Kingdom of Italy in 1860. Your B&B is in a town whose name means Blue Port in Italian, and whose coat of arms is shown here. What is the name of the town and the island on which it is located?

You are now settled in your room overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea, and about to go down to the piazza for a glass of Azienda Cecilia. Salute!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Front and Back; A Master Craftsman; Got Piranhas? Word for the Day: Catechism; “Are You Horny?” Geo-Quiz Part 2

Okay, here is a pop quiz for folks living in The Villages: while many houses here are similar in design and style, there are a few unique and innovative houses. Name the style of house seen here and its builder:

What, you don’t recognize this model? You’re saying that it’s not a typical Villages Florida house? But you can find it in the Village of Mallory Square... in Rod and Frances Rolph’s garage! In fact, here is Rod, the house’s builder, showing how to install a set of stairs... the house also has a complete set of working lights and beautiful wooden floors made of varnished Popsicle sticks. The shingles are in fact the cut-off ends of the sticks used for flooring.

Suzanne was visiting Frances, who heads the Edgar Cayce Group here in TV, AKA The Villages. Rod is a retired chemist who is also a master model builder. His workshop and laboratory take up his entire garage and would be the envy of any master woodworker and/or chemist. He has completed many projects, including a model of John F. Kennedy’s PT-109 and this beautiful patrol gunboat, USS Crockett (PG-88). This model has twin screws and electric motors to drive them at high speed. (Neighbors should not worry; the 3” gun forward is non-firing. However, Rod’s chemistry lab looks like one Dr. Strangelove might use for concocting those kinds of experiments... burglars beware!) 

Readers from our Summer Tour Blog ( may recall the incident at a sushi restaurant in Rochester, NY, which was the source for the piranha photo at the top of this blog. Well, Corvette Chick ordered a special gift for me, a new tee-shirt, to commemorate my association with the tiny toothy terror of the Amazon. I have already received some strange looks from passersby... 

Word for the Day: catechism n. 1. Question and answer based teaching in the principles of Christianity; 2. A close and intense session of questioning or interrogation on a particular subject, especially forming a part of an examination; 3. A subject in Roman Catholic schools in the US in the 1940s and 1950s which often produced skinned knuckles, both of which were administered by enthusiastic nuns on less attentive (predominantly male) students. [Early 16th C. Via ecclesiastical Latin catechismus from ecclesiastical Greek katekhizein.]  

Okay, for those readers who jumped to naughty conclusions, the “Are you horny?” in the title of this post has nothing to do with what you had hoped... instead, it refers to the Ankole-Watusi, African cattle that we observed on our visit to Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Their horns have a spread of 6 to 8 feet, although some specimens raised by the Tutsi tribe in Rwanda had horn spreads to 12 feet.
The horns are quite effective for defense against predators. The herd sleeps together at night with the calves in the center for protection.

One particular strain, called Inyambo, was reserved for the king’s private herd, and is believed by members of the Tutsi tribe to be extinct. The photo is of the traditional Tutsi king’s palace. Today Watusi cattle are raised here in the USA in Texas (of course), Ohio, and California, as well as in Africa. (Note: the name Watusi is also the historical name of the Tutsi tribe itself, which was the victim of the brutal genocide by their neighbors the Hutus in Rwanda in 1994.)  

Geo-Quiz Part 2: You have left your cruise ship in Africa and taken a plane to Rome for the New Year’s holiday. Fortunately, you passed up the cheap tickets on Aeroflot, the Russian airline with the highest vodka consumption by its pilots and the worst safety record in the (somewhat) civilized part of the world. Unfortunately, you have fallen in with a group of rowdy Australian tourists (actually, “rowdy Australian” is redundant.) 

The folks from Oz want to attend a “pub crawl” at the Spanish Steps. You are staying a few miles away, and you ask the hotel concierge which metro line and stop is associated with the Spanish Steps. A. What is his answer? 

Fortunately, you get lost looking for the Metro, missing the Aussies’ debauchery and beer swilling but saving you lots of money and a horrible hangover headache. You find yourself at the Church of Santa Maria del Popolo, earning you big points from the spirit of Sister Dolorosa Excruciata, your third grade Catechism teacher back at St. Anthony’s Catholic School. You spend two hours admiring and photographing the exhibits here. B. What holiday exhibit is the Church famous for? (Please be specific.)  

(This was Part 2 of a 5-part Geo-Quiz; please hold your answers for a consolidated input at the end of the 5th day of the quiz. Then you can submit them to me at .) Good Luck!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Kidnapped by a Lawyer; Phrase of the Day; A Merry Christmas; A New Quiz

My Lovely Bride was kidnapped by an officer of the court the other day; a defense lawyer, to be specific. They were reported to be traveling north on I-75 in a red Corvette at a high rate of speed, singing and laughing. The passenger was apparently encouraging the driver to “Go Faster, Go Faster!” Police reports of “Thelma and Louise” wannabees were heard on various public safety radio circuits, but it seems they outran the clunky Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptors sent to catch them. Gail, the passenger and Lawyer-in-Question, actually said, “Don’t worry, we’re in Marion County; if you’re arrested, I’ll defend you...” What a Friend! Actually, MLB did make it back home in time for lunch, and alcohol was not involved, so I guess I should be happy, but the tires on her ‘Vette smelled suspiciously like those at a dragster track... do you think these gals will EVER grow up? Naaaahhhhh!   

Phrase of the Day: Officer of the Court: any person who has an obligation to promote justice and effective operation of the legal system. (Snicker, snicker...)

We enjoyed a very Merry Christmas, with Santa and Santa’s helper Suki having delivered gifts for Ruthie, Rudy, Gretchen, My Lovely Bride, and Your Faithful Correspondent.

Suki, a neighbor Shitszu who owns a human named Chris, gave Rudy and Gretchen neat chew toys which took them only 15 minutes to eviscerate.  

Ruthie received some really cool potato-peeling gloves. Okay, she got some other stuff, but nothing was more useful than those gloves, because she got to use them in preparing mashed potatoes for our Christmas dinner a few hours later. (Here’s the deal: you boil potatoes for a few minutes, then take them out and rub them under running cool water, and PRESTO! you scrub the peels off easily with the rough knobby thingies on the gloves. Then you finish boiling the easily peeled potatoes as normal... one of the great advances of modern Western Civilization! Ruthie HATES peeling potatoes, and said they worked like a dream.

Suzanne and I had agreed to limit gifts to one each, so when she handed me a box with a cool long sleeve Colorado bike jersey, I smiled broadly for two reasons... I really liked the jersey, and I had gotten Suzanne a long sleeve bike jersey as well, hers of course in a girlie mint green color. No discussions prior, we have never had any long sleeve jerseys, and we got each other the same gifts... pretty neat! 

Our Christmas dinner guests included Suzanne’s brother Brent and his wife Cheryl, Ruthie, our neighbors Bob and Jan Blythe, who block our view with their big bus, and Jan’s parents Frank and Rita Fitzpatrick. We thought that since the Blythes and Fitzpatricks were from Massachusetts, we would need a translator for Brent and Cheryl, who have lived in Montgomery, Alabama, for 20 years, but conversation seemed to carry on well with only an occasional explanation of the meaning of flaws (floors) and cahs (automobiles). Brent caught me off guard when he mentioned pee-cans. (I thought he needed to use the loo, but he was actually talking about nuts.) Frank is a retired insurance executive, but I think he really missed his calling to be a stand-up comedian. He has more stories than Carter has liver pills, as the old saying goes, and one or two of them may even be true. (And then again, maybe not...)

As always, there was enough food to feed a platoon of hungry Marines, and we were all feeling a bit stuffed, but My Lovely Bride decided that we needed a mental workout and broke out our “Catch Phrase” game. This has a timer and a rotating dial gizmo that gives each player in turn a word that he has to get his team to figure out. You pass the wheel to the next player, and whoever is holding the wheel when the timer goes off loses a point. It was girls versus guys, and naturally, the guys won 2 games to 1. Hey, everyone knows that guys are smar.... Smack...

Geo-Quiz (Part 1): As you might have surmised from the title of this paragraph, this is a multi-part quiz. (I think there will be five questions with two parts each, but I could be wrong.) Here is the first question: Your cruise ship has arrived in a small port on the east coast of Africa, located on an island named after a Sicilian crime family. A. What country is that island part of? B. What is the country’s capital?  

Remaining parts/questions will be provided in blog entries over the next week, so stay tuned. A suitable prize will be provided the winner, who will be selected based on the best/most correct answers. (Some questions will have an easily judged objective answer, and at least one will require a subjective answer). Good Luck!    

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Quiz Winner’s Breakfast; A Snowball; Returning Flowers? A Dodo; Olive Oil Taste Test

You may remember the photo quiz a few weeks ago with 10 faces to identify. Our winner was Chris Lavender, who whooped the other entrants. She and Bobbie Crichton joined us on Sunday for breakfast at Panera. The Award breakfast had been delayed for our trip to Disney and their cruise to Mexico and Key West. We were very glad to see that their cruise ship had not been attacked by any Pirates of the Caribbean.

Due to the extreme cold this morning, our puppies could not join us for a walk in town after breakfast. “How cold could it have been, Ty? You’re in Central Florida! You must be a wuss!” I think I just heard some friends in the snowy north making wisecracks. Well, Smarty-Pants, here I am holding a real snowball... okay, so it was made from frost on the windshield, but it’s still a snowball in my eyes! This reminds me that I was upset about the National Weather Service's forecast from last night; the previous night's forecast had predicted a low of 29F (so I prudently covered our frost-sensitive flowers) and it only reached 34. So when the NWS predicted a low of 36 for Saturday night, I figured we were safe, so why bother covering 8 plants with bedsheets? Imagine my frustration when we got up Sunday morning and the temp was 30F, a full 6 degrees lower than forecast!  *#$@#$*(_*IO+@&!!! (Those are abbreviations for "naughty sailor words"). 

You may notice in the photo above the large piece of machinery blocking the view from our front yard. Our neighbors Bob and Jan (yeah, you remember, the "buddy" who gave me the 9 inch fishing rod as a joke and who frequently casts aspersions on my fishing abilities) had the audacity to park their 40 ft American Eagle motor coach in front of their house for two days. It is very inconvenient... what if a fire engine and the Prize Patrol had to come to my house just moments apart on a cold day like today? I might have to choose between being treated for hypothermia and receiving my check for $12 Million. The nerve of the guy... 

In line at the grocery the other day I overheard one of the clerks laughing about another customer who had just returned some flowers at Customer Service because they wilted after 5 days instead of lasting for an entire week. I asked, “And you really gave him his money back?” The clerk replied, “Yep, it seems crazy though, doesn’t it?” Crazy, dishonest, unethical, cheap, mean, parsimonious... let’s see, there have to be some more good adjectives that would fit, but that’s probably enough for a start... 

Really, what kind of a dodo returns flowers after five days of use? (I’m sorry, I’m insulting the dodo, but after all, they are extinct.) Did you know that the poor dodo (Raphus cucullatus) went extinct after only 100 years of contact with Europeans on its island of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean? Evidently the flightless dodo was quite tasty, and no one thought of starting  a Kentucky Fried Dodo restaurant with supporting dodo farms. 

My Lovely Bride gave me a difficult task the other night... suffer through an olive oil and cheese taste test, of course with French bread to help cleanse the palate, and accompanying wine (for medicinal purposes only). I was unable to tell the high priced Italian olive oil from the Publix Extra Virgin cold pressed olive oil (also 100% from Italy). I think the Pinot Noir may have helped me enjoy those cheeses even more than if I had consumed bottled water... and who would make a mistake like that? It was a splendid repast! 

Friday, December 21, 2012

Mayan Mayhem? A Chinese Ark; Solstice; Santos and a Cuban Lunch; Cornices; Canine Fashion

Okay, we made it through another predicted Armageddon... for what, another month before another 3,000 year old calendar is unearthed that predicts the end of the planet in a month or two? I heard from our friend Susan who attended a Farewell Party but is also scheduled for a Welcome Back party. Now that’s the way to prepare for the end of civilization as we know it... with a nice bottle of wine and good friends. (I hate to sound critical, but who would place credibility on a prediction for the end of the world that was written on a serving tray?)

A story in the paper today fascinated me, and as they used to say, “Inquiring Minds Want to Know”.... Be glad you’re not the Chinese guy who spent his life savings to build a diesel-powered ark, expecting that the second Great Flood would be coming this week. It's not like this poor guy lives on the coast or the flood plain of the Yangtze River... he lives in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, located in the most remote part of the Eurasian land mass, farther from the sea than any other point in Eurasia and at somewhere between 4,000 and 10,000 feet elevation. There isn’t enough moisture in the atmosphere or ice in the Antarctic ice cap to flood the earth to that elevation, but he was prepared!

Word of the Day: solstice  n. the longest or shortest day of the year; either of the times when the sun is furthest from the Equator, on or about June 21 and December 21. [13th C. from Latin solstitium, from sol "sun" + the past participle stem of sistere "to stand still".]

Suzanne and I decided to celebrate the Winter Solstice and Survival of the Mayan Mayhem. I suggested one of those kinky Swedish nudist camp parties, you know, where everyone dances around a Maypole and sips champagne from crystal slippers, but was out-voted by Corvette Chick 10-0. We wound up mountain biking on the Santos Trails near Ocala. We stayed relatively close to home so that if a meteor shower was unexpectedly sighted heading for earth, we could get home in time to be with Rudy and Gretchen when the earth exploded. It was a cold ride, but fortunately the sandy soil had absorbed last night’s deluge and the trails were perfectly dry. There were some blowdowns that had to be cleared as we rode (that’s why I always offer the lead rider position to My Lovely Bride; she’s younger and very athletic, and I can save my strength while she clears the trail...) 

In spite of the fact that it was a holiday week, we did not see another soul while riding the trails for an hour and a half. There were several other riders loading/unloading bikes in the parking lot, but there are so many trails that traffic has never been a problem. It was a glorious ride through mixed hardwood (mostly oaks) and pine forest. Some of the trees were quite close together, as this photo shows. 

The bike trails often cross equestrian trails and the hiker-only Florida National Scenic Trail, which runs for 1,400 miles from the Gulf Islands National Seashore in Pensacola to the Big Cypress National Preserve near Miami. Your Faithful Correspondent is posing at the FT sign, which is only yards from the bike trail; don’t worry, we were not riding on the FT... it’s actually much rougher than the bike trails, since it is used by far fewer people. 

After our ride, we went to Chicken Time, a small “hole-in-the-wall” Cuban/Puerto Rican restaurant in the Brooksville Plaza shopping center for Cuban chicken, black beans, rice and plantains. Their daily specials are about $5 and are delicious. The staff is also very friendly and bi-lingual. It was funny, because two of the servers were commenting to one another in Spanish on My Lovely Bride’s fitness; Suzanne was a Spanish major in school, and rattled off a couple of sentences in fluent Spanish to our server when she returned with our food. There were smiles all around from the staff when they realized that one of their non-Hispanic customers was fluent in their language. 

You may recall the “Stevie Wonder” comment about Yours Truly from a decorator a few weeks ago when Suzanne asked my opinion about her selection of material...  Here you see the “before”, which I thought looked pretty good.... 

On Friday we had a visit from the actual cornice maker, Craig Saunders, of Cornice Central, Inc., who made and  installed the new window treatments. MLB is suitably happy about the results. 

I wanted a fishing scene with largemouth bass exploding out of the water at the end of a tight line, but who am I? What does “Stevie Wonder” know?  

As you may have noticed when you stepped outside today, it’s cold outside. We put on sweaters and jeans, but what about our poor puppies? They feel the cold as well. We broke out their winter coats and dressed them for a late afternoon w-a-l-k in t-o-w-n. 

Gretchen’s black coat is very chic, and Rudy’s Italian sheepskin, while now 6 years old, is truly haute couture... He got it in Milan after we were caught by an early season snowstorm while sailing the Mediterranean in our sailboat Liberty. This photo was actually taken in the marina near Rome where we were moored for six months.  (He was very popular among the local Italian girl-dogs...)